The annual Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, with its 24/7 schedule and desert location, poses a challenge for performers and their lighting and media crews. The lighting designer, lighting programmer/director and media programmer for Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg opted to use Prelite Studios’ previsualization services prior to the show.
With the sun rising early, high temperatures throughout the day, no chance for atmosphere (fog/haze) due to high winds and dust storms, and opening acts starting at 10 a.m., it can be difficult to lock in a show without previs. Brian Jenkins teamed with production designer Demfis Fyssicopulos on Dre and Snoop’s set. The team said they couldn't imagine the nightmare if they had only programmed some elements in rehearsals and waited to do the other elements on-site at Coachella.
Jenkins, Fyssicopulos and media programmer Matt Shimamoto spent about seven days in rehearsals at Santa Monica’s Barker Hangar where Prelite principal Tom Thompson set up the system. Jenkins, who was new to Prelite, had begun coordinating with Thompson about two weeks earlier on plots, unit numbers, patches, fixture orientations and a few required revisions. The team plugged into the Vision software when they arrived on-site in Santa Monica.
Jenkins said the biggest advantage for him during rehearsals was having the entire Coachella lighting rig six feet in front of the team while he was programming. Budget, space and trim height restricted them to a certain amount of physical gear that could be used in Santa Monica.
Prelite had machines running Vision, with internal parameters adjusted for optimal performance. The show translated from partial previs at rehearsals to the actual rig at Coachella. Jenkins said the team was surprised by how well the machines handled the large inventory of moving lights and LED components.
Custom video content, timed to the beat of the songs, was displayed on a main upstage WinVision LED wall, the band riser (which was wrapped in flexible paper LEDs hugging the curve and rigid LED tiles for the straight portions), and IMAG screens located stage left and right.
Sometimes the LEDs served as supportive elements for lighting. For some songs the team toned in color on the riser to match the lighting scheme. At the beginning of the set, which featured an iconic downtown LA open, all the LED elements and the IMAG screens played as one. “The stage was completely overtaken by LA imagery so Dre and Snoop could claim it for their home turf in an artistic way,” Jenkins said.
The team spent hours in rehearsals locking cues into timecode and stepping through the show song by song. A few songs used static imagery on the LED surfaces.
At Coachella, Shimamoto, at front of house, had four Hippo HD media servers, two grandMA full systems for video and another two grandMAs for lighting at his disposal.
Curtis Battles served as production manager for Dre and Snoop’s set. Derek Burt of Upstream Touring supplied the video package and crew in conjunction with VER. Matt Waters was the media tech during rehearsals. Loren Barton was head FOH and Hippo tech for the show.
For more information: www.prelite.com