Mavericks go to the graduation ball
Monday, 18 October 2021
university-of-nottinghamThe black-tie gathering was staged at Newark Show Ground
UK - Calendars lost much of their meaning over the past year, as the pandemic erased so many long-anticipated occasions from their pages. For a group of students at the University of Nottingham, one such date was Monday 12 July, when their already-delayed graduation ceremony was cancelled again due to lingering safety concerns.
However, these students made up for lost time when the university held a glittering black-tie ceremony with dinner, dancing and entertainment at Newark Show Ground. Setting an appropriately festive tone for the affair was its technical producer OneBigStar, which oversaw and managed the production of the event.
OneBigStar retained the services of lighting designer David Howard and supplied him with a versatile kit that featured over 80 Chauvet Professional fixtures.
“We wanted this evening to feel almost like a festival, to erase the disappointment from the cancelled graduation,” said Howard, who ran his lights with a ChamSys MagicQ MQ80. “It was important to have elegant looks, whilst also creating an immersive environment where everybody could be part of this space. Our goal was to give the students an Instagram-friendly backdrop for both the black-tie dinner as well as the party on this special night.”
Toward this end, Howard deftly transitioned his lighting from cocktails, to dinner, and onto the live music party later in the evening. “OneBigStar was fantastic in providing a flexible kit that allowed us to create a look and feel in the room that flowed naturally from cocktails, to dinner, to dancing,” he said. “The meant that the dance floor was packed immediately when the time came.”
Critically important to helping Howard create this diverse range of looks were the 10 Maverick MK3 Wash and 17 Maverick MK2 Spot fixtures in his kit. Both were used to transform looks in the spacious venue and endow it with a greater sense of depth and texture via an array of gobo patterns.
As part of this design strategy, Howard matched projected gobos around the dance and eating areas with the virtual gobos made in the pixel faces of the wash lights, as well as with the reflected light emanating from the massive mirror ball that hung above the centre of the dancefloor.
Further creating continuity in the room, Howard pixel mapped his washes to complement the looks created with his video wall and 20 ÉPIX Strip Tour units. “I particularly love how the MK3 Wash can be used as a room wash and morph to a beamy effect,” he said. “Its sheer power is immense too. I rarely ran the units at this event above 60-percent, which meant there was room to go big for DJ drops and band hits.”
Tying light and video together, Howard positioned some of the 16 Rogue R1 BeamWash fixtures in this rig around the IMAG screens. This allowed him to create captivating beam looks during DJ sets in addition to accenting the band with sculpting side washes.
Varying colours throughout the evening and accenting them with warm white light from his eight STRIKE 4 fixtures, Howard also created an immersive backdrop that engaged guests during dinner when there weren’t big dynamic lighting movements.

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