The past year has been a milestone one for reigning CMA and ACM “Vocal Group of the Year” Old Dominion.
The band and their management wanted to showcase that growth with new, impressive tour production. They made clear in their directive that they were looking for lighting elements that offered distinct, unexpected and eye-catching moments. A partner with Old Dominion for the last four years, Morris Light and Sound is at the helm for the Make it Sweet Tour that kicked off January 2019 in Chicago.
A Lighting Evolution
A vivid illustration of Old Dominion’s growth is how their lighting has gone from two trucks with 30 or 40 lights to six trucks with 400 + lights. In a design with big visual impact that features a large landscape LED wall and five striking lighting pods equipped with Dartz 360 beam/spot effects, it’s the first time the band has gone this big. Aside from the Dartz fixtures, the rig also includes Elation’s new Artiste Picasso LED moving head as well as Elation’s Chorus Line 16 LED pixel bars, Cuepix Blinders and a smattering of other lights.
It Takes A Team
Morris recognizes that any successful tour involves multiple players who must work together to achieve the desired result. David Haskell is quick to identify the invaluable contributions of award-winning lighting designer Travis Shirley, lighting direction by Kevin Lichty and lighting programming by Andre Petrus.
“We worked with the designer as well as the artists, in this case to make sure that their vision, budget and expectations were met,” says Haskell. “The collaborative effort between designer, vendor and manufacturer was incredibly positive.”
Behind the Design
Shirley’s design concept revolves around the number five — five members of the band, five sections of LED video, five lighting pods. “With the lighting rig, I wanted something different than you’ve seen previously from Old Dominion conceptually, we came up with the five concept and I ran with the idea. The five pods are the big look. We populated standard truss with Dartz, 175 of them, which I can’t say enough good things about. They are the meat and potatoes of this rig.”
Light & Sound
Stadiums / Arenas / Clubs
Shirley felt the pods did not always have to be on. “We figured out creative ways to group lights within the pods and make them work with corresponding groups. We were able to get different looks using cross configurations, horizontal lines, squares within squares, etc. to keep the look interesting. We thought of it as a sort of tic-tac-toe or checkerboard situation.”
The lighting, especially Shirley’s signature monochromatic looks, works quite well with the LED wall and its modern-looking graphical designs. Trimmed at a high 36 feet, Shirley realized the Dartz looked good even if he only had them on in single rows. “They are extremely punchy, and once we added color and beam attributes it still read really well,” he says. “I don’t know what other light I would have rather used in these pods, to be honest.” Shirley then added dual strips of custom LED tape around the sides of each pod, a visual detail that reads really well.
Trusting The Process
“It’s just a wonderful light,” Shirley says. “It has amazing colors and optics and cut through the way it needed to.” Used to light the band and audience, Shirley also accessed the fixture’s graphics for breakups and textured the backdrop using the animation wheel. “It’s a bright, clean looking light with a tight focus, no hotpot, and just a very even light. It ended up blowing away any expectations I had of it,” he says, adding that he is spec’ing it on a couple of other tours as well.
“The Picassos are an essential part of our show,” Lichty adds. “Not only is it bright, but it disperses a very even and clean field of light. The overall output is very impressive, not only compared to other LEDs but also many other arc source fixtures I’ve used in the past. The amount of firepower on stage compared to the power consumption is truly impressive.”
All About Balance
As the design emerged Shirley knew there would be no automation involved. Instead, he came up with other ways to keep the look interesting throughout the show. He used reveals like ten lines of Chorus Line LED battens built into custom frames and visible behind the LED video screen. Shirley says that when he went with a creative landscape-style screen, he knew he wanted to add a lighting element behind it.
“We knew we needed some horsepower behind it to give some depth to the whole thing so I came up with these lines of Chorus Lines,” he says. “There’s a backdrop in front of it for the first few songs and we wait a few songs to reveal it. When the Chorus Lines are zoomed out, it creates a halo effect behind the LED wall and gives dimension to the video screen.”