ShapeShifter Fixtures Shine at EJAF Oscars Party

Each year during Academy Awards week, Hollywood’s A-List comes out to raise millions for Elton John’s AIDS Foundation. For the last 15 years, SenovvA has brought increasingly spectacular productions to the Elton John Foundation’s annual Oscar Viewing Party. Production / Lighting Designer Peter Kyte has designed the show for the last seven years; for this latest event, he utilized High End Systems SHAPESHIFTER C1 and W1 automated fixtures as the main effects lighting fixture for the evening. Joining Kyte on the SenovvA team were programmer Fraser Kerrigan, Master Electrician Sean McGrath and Project Manager Brian Tracy. Executive Producer was Marcus Irwin.

Peter explains, “Our parameters with this show are primarily to create something unique, different than our past designs, and to work within the parameters of the temporary structure that we build. We employed a very ‘old school Studio 54’ theme, and when I first saw the SHAPESHIFTERs at LDI, I thought they were very interesting, and would be a great center point for the event. I envisioned a 1970s looking flower effect that would run across the upstage, so I used the SHAPESHIFTERs as the centerpiece of the flower, along with smaller LED fixtures surrounding them.

“One of the biggest challenges working in a tent was the weight restriction. We used a new tent company and they were very good about letting us know the actual weight restrictions and keeping us to that number. I couldn’t put a lot in the air, so I used Airstars because they’re light and gave me the ambient light that I needed, and a very small FOH rig just to get the heat on the stage that we needed. The SHAPESHIFTERs were used for all the effect lighting. I had C1s and W1s – they looked great and worked really well. They really helped make our design pop.

“We had the C1s as the center of the ‘daisy’ and the W1s were placed lower as sort of a beauty uplight type thing from behind. We spent a lot of time exploring the range of options on the C1s. The W1s were a bonus but we thought they would add a nice divine lighting effect coming down from behind. As we were in the practical moments of setting up, we decided to move them off to the side and a little lower. They worked out really well, and we were able to hit the 3′ disco mirror ball as well.”

According to Kyte, Programmer Fraser Kerrigan ran the SHAPESHIFTERs in full mode, and really put them through their paces. “It’s an entirely new way of programming,” says Peter, “and it’s possible for designers to be overwhelmed, but the payoff is really worth it. It may take a bit longer when you first get going, but once you get into this fixture you can get some really great effects.”

In closing, Peter comments on SHAPESHIFTER’s importance as a lighting tool: “With video and pixel mapping now taking a lot of work that programmers used to do – and making it simple, this adds another vital tool for your toolbox. Even though the technology is very 21st century, in my opinion, the programming and the result is a very pure lighting type of effect; you’re dealing with the moving light on a whole new scale. It is so new, and is a revolutionary new way of thinking about how to program, but yet the effect for the audience is so striking. With better tools to work with, the results can be spectacular.”

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Published: March 27, 2015