The entire evening in all the various rooms was busked by the Harford Sound team
USA - Big Nite DC, which bills itself as the largest NYE convention hall party draws around 10,000 party goers, spread out over two ballrooms and 12 additional spaces. The main ballroom, which serves as the hub of the evening’s festivities, measures 45,000sq.ft and has 270-degrees of floor-to-ceiling glass windows affording stunning views of the Potomac River.
Animating the big event this year, as it has in the past, was an upbeat and colourful lighting and video design from Evan Kirkendall and the team at Harford Sound LLC.
“Every year we challenge ourselves to create a fresh, new design in the primary ballroom,” said Kirkendall. “We get to design this large rig from the ground up, so we really like to push ourselves each year.”
Although lighting Big Nite DC is “loads of fun”, it is not without its challenges. “The overall stage size is quite small, compared to the size of the room,” said Kirkendall. “A key goal of ours was to make the stage look as big as possible, while working within the limitations imposed by its size, and the ceiling height. We wanted to put the largest video wall possible on stage this year, but we also needed to make room for lights. So, we ended up building the widest possible video wall we could do but kept it on the shorter side so we could essentially frame it with lights and then build ‘wings’ from the top to make it look massive. I think the overall layout worked really well.”
Helping Kirkendall, crew chief Steve Wozniak, and their team meet this challenge was a collection of over 100 Chauvet Professional fixtures, plus 72 F4XIP video panels taken from Harford Sound’s own inventory.
The convergence of video and light created a dynamic and varied visual panorama that engaged partygoers the entire evening. “Our in-house video head, Sam Choiniere, ran the entire show,” said Kirkendall. “We had a mix of sponsor content, client logos, DJ logos, live camera feeds, and the most importantly the midnight countdown on the wall.
“Sam ran everything through our media server with Resolume to create a very exciting show using a mix of in-house created content and stock content overlayed with the live camera feeds and logos. We also had an ArtNet merge the lighting console and video world so Sam could control the on-stage Color Strike M and COLORado Solo Batten fixtures for seamless colours between video and lighting.”
There were 28 Color Strike M motorised strobe-washes in the Big Nite DC rig, as well as 16 COLORado Solo Battens. The design team positioned five Color Strike M units on each side of the video wall, and arranged all of the batten units below it, to create a colourful frame. The remaining Color Strike Ms were flown in blocks of blinders and strobes, providing LD Zack Slater with a limitless opportunity to create compelling looks.
Slater also used the rig’s 34 Maverick Storm 4 Profile fixtures to create some memorable NYE specials. “We had eight Storm 4 units on deck, and six per truss in the air,” said Kirkendall. “The incredible output of these fixtures was the star of the show. They could easily throw massive beams 300-plus feet to the rear of the ballroom and had no issues overcoming the video wall’s brightness.”
The entire evening in all the various rooms was busked by the Harford Sound team, which in addition to Choiniere and Slater, included Jackson Craig, Holly Jorgensen, Jake Horanoff, Gabe Odachowski, Milo Matunis, Izzy Ladrillono, Oliver Nelson, Robby Gossweiler, Hayden Behr, Matt Vivlamore, and Zach Kreiner. Together, they put in a solid week prepping and doing pre-vis for the NYE event. Unlike in some projects, they actually got to run what they created at Big Nite DC.

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