Ohio University Students Are Running The Show With HES Gear

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Ohio University Students Are Running The Show With HES Gear

May 2017

Students of lighting and production at Ohio University are offered a truly rare opportunity in this business - to design and operate professional touring shows that pass through the Baker University Center in Athens, Ohio. Associate Director of Operations and Production Jeremy Schaffer not only lets his students get their hands dirty, they receive a real world education in the next generation of entertainment lighting tools. The university has invested in a wide range of automated lighting and control products from High End Systems, which the students put through its paces during a recent concert by X Ambassadors.

Schaffer comments, During initial discussions with the X Ambassadors management, we indicated that we have a full High End Systems moving light and control package consisting of SolaSpot Pro 1500s, SolaSpot Pro CMYs, SolaWash 37s and 19s, UNOs, and SHAPESHIFTERs C1s and C2s powered by a Roadhog 4 with Playback wing. They immediately felt comfortable using our house lighting rig, and ultimately allowed us to design and operate the entire show.” 

Once he learns they are responsible for designing, programming and operating a show of this caliber, Schaffer first finds students that are available for some design discussions as well as the full show day. He also uses this as an opportunity to demonstrate various ways of configuring the HOG console to best provide flexible functionality and busking capabilities. “I try to identify certain songs that we know the artist will perform, so the students can work on specific cues and looks for those. Once we’ve come up with a plot and had it approved by the tour, we either get the plot hung a few days in advance or set up a Light Converse visualization session in our training room which has a dedicated Roadhog 4 and two Nano consoles. 

“On the day of the show, we set up shop at the console and run through some of the looks we’ve come up with. Once the band begins their sound check, the students are at the helm for the rest of the night. I try to instill in the students the importance of using minimal numbers of fixtures and colors to create greater impact, rather than have every light on constantly with a rainbow occurring during every song.”

For X Ambassadors, Schaffer and his student team used a combination of four SHAPESHIFTER C2s and six C1s stacked on various HES cases at different heights. In addition to their signature eye candy, the SHAPESHIFTERs provided saturated color washes and backlight for the band.  Schaffer points out that “the macros are great for huge and intense aerial effects as well as giving a great tool to use with static washes to create looks to the beat.”

The UNOs were placed in groups of four on both downstage edges on top of road cases, and were primarily employed for fanned ACL looks as well as some ‘zippy fanned tilt and circle’ effects. Student Brant Hysell comments, “The UNOs turned out to be a great way to add a whole new element to a rig consisting of large wash and profile fixtures. Our favorite look was the UNOs fanned in the audience, running an offset can can effect, and we liked leaving them with no color mostly.” 

Four SolaSpot Pro CMY’s became the workhorse spot fixtures during the show. Student Samantha Davis explains, “The Spot Pro CMY’s were hung on our 2nd electric, and were pretty close to midstage. I liked doing a lot of no color cross looks, throwing gobos in an audience position, and bumping with parts of songs in that same position.”

The final pieces of the lighting puzzle were OU’s SolaWash 19s and 37s. Student Brant Hysell says, “We hung four SolaWash 19's on our downstage truss as front light, only used as front light for the opener. Six SolaWash 37's were hung on our 2nd and 3rd electrics, and served mostly as color washes on stage, in a few different cross positions. A cool pulse effect was achieved with odd and even fixtures by programming a cue to flash them on, then a wait cue of 0s with about a half second fade. Doing this in an audience position looked far out! I feel extremely fortunate to have access to such a rig; I'm sure this isn't a standard thing for students at most universities. Access to such equipment at Event Services has prepared me well for whatever is coming next in my career.” 

Schaffer helped configure the Hog console while teaching the students many of the tricks and techniques he’d learned since his Hog 2 days in New York City. He says his potent High End Systems automated lighting rig gives his students a distinct advantage, and for many, a propulsive head start towards their professional careers. “Learning how things work in real world scenarios and working with seasoned professionals on a one-off show are difficult to teach in a classroom. In addition, we find that many students in other areas of study become fascinated by the amazing possibilities that they see once working in one of our venues as a student employee.” 

“In recent years we’ve had artists such as DAYA, Scotty McCreery, Mavis Staples, Lyle Lovett, Third Eye Blind, Cole Swindell,, and Capital Cities use our in-house lighting system. In addition to the great educational opportunities that our High End Systems lighting rig provides, it also gives this somewhat remote part of the state opportunities to get some amazing artists to perform in our auditorium.”

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