Performers included Matthew West, Cain, Ben Fuller, and Anne Wilson (photo: Shaylyn Kelly)
USA - The ability to think outside the box is often the lifeblood of a successful production design, even when that “box” is the actual stage itself. Such was the case recently for the team at Events United when they had to come up with a way to light the artists performing at the Hope Fellowship Church’s Hillfest in News Ipswich, NH.
Organisers of this Christian music festival added a thrust to their main stage. This configuration brought their star-studded lineup of artists closer to the audience, but it also necessitated some modifications in front lighting.
“With the stage having a thrust, we needed to position fixtures to light performers farther out, away from the stage than our downstage truss would allow,” explained project manager, Martin Lyons. “We used the Maverick Storm 1 Washes placed up on the hill by FOH to wash the thrust. Their zoom range allowed us to have a great wash from a far distance.”
The Maverick Storm 1 Wash units that Lyons refers to were among the 30 Chauvet Professional fixtures, along with F4IP video panels, in the festival rig, which was supplied and installed by Events United.
Rachel Fahey, the festival’s production designer, elaborated on the plan to balance front lighting with the desire to create a wide range of looks.
“Our team did position a few fixtures far upstage,” she said. “This was both for functionality, and to diversify the design. With festival stages such as this one, how a design functions, is just as important as how it looks. With several different sets happening on, and off, stage it was important to have a design that worked for all of them. Thanks to the brightness of our fixtures, we weren't concerned with the throw distance affecting the design negatively.”
Adding an extra level of variety to the design, and helping to keep looks fresh and original throughout the entire festival were the rig’s eight Color Strike M motorised strobe-blinder-effects fixtures. Spread throughout the rig, the high output fixtures helped the design team control the mood between intimate silhouetted passages and bright high impact strobing moments.
Working the Color Strike Ms with the rig’s eight Maverick MK2 Spot fixtures allowed the designers to conjure up captivating blends of lighting from multiple angles. Set against the backdrop of the images on the video wall, this created a deeply textured look on stage that reflected the music and personas of the performers, a group that included Dove Award winning and nominated artists like Matthew West, Cain, Ben Fuller, and Anne Wilson.
“Side and backlighting are almost as important as face lighting to intensify the energy that the artist is bringing to the stage,” said Fahey. “Pairing the bright strobe and pixel mapping ability of the Chauvet Strike Ms with the breakups of the Chauvet MK2 Spots gave our lighting engineer Ryan Lane a variety of tools to shape the mood on stage, which is something he excels at.”
Audience lighting from the rig’s Strike 4 fixtures was another key element of the festival’s immersive design. “With the audience being spread across the hillside at this site, it was important to be able to have a strong audience light so the bands could see and interact with the crowd,” said Lyons, who noted that combining the effect of the Strike fixtures with the colour of the Color Strike M resulted in more interesting looks for the crowd, something that he and the rest of the team were intent on doing, even if it sometimes meant stepping outside the box.

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