Flashin’, Lights

Days 7&8:
The Orpheum
Tampa, FL

All of my experience as a lighting director has been on the fly, seat of my pants, hands-on learning. Having an early load in at The Orpheum allowed me to be able to take some time to further my knowledge of how to properly utilize the smaller, older light boards that are prevalent in many of the midsized clubs that we play. They look very similar if not the same as this:

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Many of the clubs, especially the bigger ones, are switching to a digital light board, or one that’s completely controlled on a computer. The options on those systems are overwhelming; you could literally spend forever programming different ‘scenes’. The smaller, analog boards are programmable as well, and while the board is infinitely less complex than it’s digital counterpart, the programming of it is just as tedious.

Since the tour has it’s own sound guy, the venue’s was just kind of floating around, helping where he could. With all his free time he came over and gave me a crash course in programming on the board. The venue had mismatched brands of lights, so it added an odd element to how the board controlled them.

Once I learned how to control each set of lights individually, I started with the basics. I first started with the simplest of things, assigning shortcut buttons for the major color scenes. For example, I turned all the L.E.D. lights red, then saved it, turned them all blue, then saved, etc. Once I had my base, I began to build some with simple movements, like all red lights that strobed. After those I created some multi colored moving effects, the whole time trying to imagine how the lights would look during specific points in our set. I spent a few hours fiddling with it, and by the time I was done I had about a dozen shortcuts set that I could easily access.

I can’t wait until I get my own lighting rig. I’ve looked at a few where I’ll be able to program the lights for the whole show beforehand and just push a button and watch my handiwork in action.

The guys had an interview and a radio show to do while I was doing all this, and once they were finished we had our soundcheck.

Tampa is Miggs hometown, so the room became increasingly more crowded as the night progressed. The club had a late night DJ set after we were all done, so the room was force emptied shortly after Miggs finished their set. This put us back on the road earlier than usual, so we knocked a few hours out of our long trip back north to DC for the show on Tuesday.

The next day was a drive day, with us knocking 3/4 of the journey to DC out of the way, ending us up near Raleigh for the night. Along the way we stopped at a Best Buy and Nate picked up a GoPro camera. The compact design, built in wifi capabilities, and high quality of the camera make it ideal for capturing moments along the way while out on the road. You could almost see the nerd gears turning in Nate’s head as he thought up ideas for using the new camera.

After knocking out a few more hours, we pulled in to our destination for the night. Thankfully we were back to decent sleeping temperatures, so everyone passed out without preamble.