Professional Lighting & Production - Winter 2017 - Page 21

session,” he explains. “I have this library organized so we can find not just spe- cific images, but can also search by more abstract terms. For instance, LeRoy might mention that he’s looking for something ‘cube like,’ so I can search the database for any images that fit that category. These images don’t necessarily get translated into the actual design so much as they become the seed of an idea which morphs into something new and exciting.” Aquinde finds his work with Bennett extremely rewarding. “My background is in architecture and I’m also a huge sci-fi geek,” he remarks, “Growing up, I was always designing and drawing stuff like space ships and futuristic worlds. The stuff I draw now actually gets built and comes alive – often creating these mag- ic moments which people talk about for months, if not years, to come.” Aquinde does his initial drawing and modelling work in Vectorworks before using Foundry Modo for cleanup and then exporting to Lightwave 3D. “I render in Lightwave 3D, which is a bit obsolete, but I know its quirks very well,” he explains. “I’m still learning my way around Modo but will probably move over to it soon. The renderings look as dry as any ‘raw’ 3D rendering, so I do compositing and effects in Blackmagic Design Fusion with a lot of plug-ins from the film and TV industry. This is where the renderings really come alive. There’s often also a bit of Adobe Photoshop, After Effects, and Illustra- tor involved in prepping elements.” As one might imagine, a show this massive requires a sizeable lighting rig to keep Gaga and her backup dancers lit no matter where they travel. Bennett and his lighting director, Harry For- ster, rely on two workhorses – Robe BMFL WashBeams and Robe Pointes – to cover all the bases. The BMFLs are generally used for big, bright washes that can pull the performers out of the background – no easy task given the size and brightness of the many LED video surfaces used. The Pointes provide beam and breakup looks, their fast movement speeds being a real plus on Gaga’s more upbeat songs. One more Robe fixture being used on this show is the ColorStrobe. Four of them are spaced along each side of the main stage where they illuminate both the performers and the underside of the lifts when they’re elevated. Forster met Bennett for the first time about four or five years ago while he was working as a freelance tech in London, England. “I was hired to program and operate extra TV lighting for a Beyoncé special that LeRoy was lighting,” remarks Forster. “We hit it off right away and from that point on I’ve been working exclusively with him on tours for Nine Inch Nails, Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, and Keith Urban.” Like Aquinde, Forster is also involved fairly early in the design process. “Roy will come to me with broad ideas of what he wants to use and where he wants to use it and then I’ll add in my stuff and work with Tait to make sure it’s all going to fit,” explains Forster. “Once the design was nailed down, we locked in our vendor, Solotech, who ended up purchasing quite a bit of the rig new to fulfill our needs.” By June, Forster had built a 3D model of the rig and they began their pre- vis programming session – something that usually lasts a couple weeks but, in this case, got extended until mid-July because the set was behind schedule. “During our programming sessions, there were actually three of us working on three separate consoles,” says Forster, “Jason Baeri and I would work on building presets and palettes and then split to program lights for different songs while Loren Barton worked on programming the video. We would then merge files at the end of the day.” Once the tour was up and running, Forster discovered that one of the biggest challenges was making sure he could get good followspot coverage throughout the arena. “As we adjusted the positions of the satellite stages and the trim heights of the pods, it was crucial that we check all spot positions to make sure Gaga was always lit as she traversed the bridges out to the B stage,” he remarks. When asked if he has a favourite moment in the show, Forster mentions the “Red Section,” which occurs towards the end. “We get pretty dark and moody during this section and everything from the lighting to the costumes and video content has red in it; it’s very dramatic.” Keeping all the elements of this tour running smoothly is Production Manager Bob “Hydro” Mullin, a former Marine who has worked his way up from local hand to carpenter to stage manager to his present position. “I’m brought in a few months before rehearsals begin to man- age the design in respect to the amount of trucks, overall weight of the show, and how the design will work logistically as far as getting it in and out of the building in a timely, cost efficient manner,” says Mullin. “Budget is very important – not only the cost of the show but the day-to-day operating costs.” “The biggest challenge initially was getting the actual show built and cueing all the automation. Getting all the right crew in the right positions. Day to day is just scheduling enough time to pre-rig and get the show in. With all the sporting events and other events in the build- ings, it can be a bit challeng- ing to get in the day before. As this show grew in size from conception to final design, it re- quired more hours to get it done. Fortunately, we have an excellent crew that works well together for long hours to get the job done.” Even with all the planning that goes into putting the Joanne Tour on the road, surprises still occur. “With a show this size, you have to be as flexible as possible to get what you need for the actual show while maintaining the egress and best sight lines for the audience,” Mullin remarks. “Also, with 13 buses and 29 trucks, parking and staging trucks for the in and out can be difficult in some places.” The Joanne World Tour premiered on Aug. 1 st , 2017 at the Rogers Arena in Vancouver and is scheduled to head to Europe in early 2018 after finishing up its North American leg just before Christmas. Critical response to the tour has been overwhelmingly positive, with critics throwing around words like “ambi- tious,” “barnburner,” and “jubilant.” The fans have also responded very positively and many shows have sold out, so don’t be too surprised if this tour keeps rolling beyond its scheduled conclusion in Berlin next February. Brad Trenaman is a Vancouver-based Lighting Designer. He can be reached at Winter 2017 | 21