Carrie Underwood puts BlackTrax to test in Vegas
Monday, 25 April 2022
carrieThe lighting never loses sight of Carrie or the band (photo: Denise Truscello)
USA - Carrie Underwood’s ongoing Reflection: The Las Vegas Residency at Resorts World Theatre in Las Vegas kicked off in December 2021, and Carrie wanted this residency to be strong on creativity and innovation. BlackTrax, used back in 2016 on her Storyteller Tour and in 2019 on her Cry Pretty Tour 360, came with her to Vegas for Reflection.
At the Resorts World Theatre, Carrie Underwood performs a 90-minute, 18-song show which incorporates pyro, set-changes, skilled aerialists and dancers, lasers, mirrored surfaces, and a water wall. These combined put the innovation, skill, and creativity of her production crew, and BlackTrax, to the test.
Nate Cromwell, lighting director, and BlackTrax programmer for Underwood comments, “It’s like launching space shuttles and you get what you put into it. BlackTrax can go as far and deep and as complex as I want it to, or it can take things over and be extremely simple and easy to use. If I need to key light an artist, it is very easy to do, or if I want 32 lights to pick up a quarter body shot in a blackout, in a moving target with prediction, I can do that as well. It’s the only solution that can do that.”
The two most important things to happen on stage are the ability for Carrie to be heard, and the ability for Carrie to be seen. For this show, Cromwell uses a BlackTrax System that features 14 BT Sensors (cameras) strategically positioned throughout the rig and 9 BT Beacons (with up to 3 BT Stringers (tracking points) per BT Beacon) for each performer being tracked. BlackTrax is currently operating the key lights on Carrie, the band, and one of the dancers. The freedom and ability to use any lighting fixtures on the rig as a follow spot and the absolute precision of BlackTrax is the reason it was brought into this Las Vegas residency project according to Nate.
In these shows with pyro, water, and mirrored surfaces, Nate’s lighting never loses sight of Carrie or the band. BlackTrax can overcome these various elements due to the fact it is a vision-based, active infrared tracking solution.
“There is a myriad of things that would have brought any other real-time tracking system to its knees with this show because we have every single element to make tracking difficult on that stage. We have pyro, we have water, and mirrored surfaces and they are all on stage at the same time. BlackTrax is reading through all of them. Seamlessly and flawlessly.”
To put things into perspective, a Jeep is lit on fire during the show during Underwood’s performance of her hit, Before He Cheats and BlackTrax doesn’t lose line of sight of the BT stringers. Pyro interference is solved by adjusting exposure and gain settings on the BT Sensors.
The grand finale includes a show-stopping water wall. Tracking through a water wall is solved by having a strong BT Sensor design with multiple and ample viewpoints.
Nate concludes, “Carrie Underwood is the most precise artist that I have ever known. She is 100%, every night. Any gear used with her needs to be at the same level of precision as the ability to produce. That is what she deserves. She is up there on stage, giving at that level, and BlackTrax is the only tracking system and automated spotlight system with the level of precision and quality that a show like hers requires. I get goosebumps every night.”

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