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Columbia College of Chicago's 2013 Commencement

Befitting their unique academic culture, Columbia's commencement ceremony is part rock show, part graduation.  A 40-minute musical pre-show showcasing student talent leads into the commencement ceremony, which itself is not the most traditional.   Perhaps the most challenging aspect of the design was working with and working around the set and setup- two 10' tall platforms on either side of the stage with performers on top and underneath each one, along with the band and choir in the pit.

I had the pleasure of working side by side with my friend John Niles, who is a very talented designer and programmer with heaps of experience in the corporate world.  Approaching this event as a corporate event was very helpful, given that there was a mix of music, speeches, and audience action, and it all had to look good on video.  It's also nice to program a cue-stacked show every once in a while, as for most of my shows I'm busking a festival rig.  And programming in pre-production was an absolute must as we had very limited time in the space, but there are worse things than playing 'Lighting Hero' for days on end with a good buddy.

I learned a few new tricks on this show, as well.  For example, Auras make amazing uplights for walls or soft goods.  Their zoom range and movement capability, even without their great color quality, can make for some very dynamic effects.  And the DataLynx is a lovely option for console backup without the price-tag of an NPU or second console.

Location:  Chicago Theatre, Chicago IL

Event dates: May 18-19, 2013

Lighting Designer: Myself and John Niles for Technotrix

Programmer/Operator: John Niles 

Gear + Techs: Technotrix (University Park, IL)

  • 14x Martin MAC Aura
  • 10x Martin MAC 700 Wash
  • 10x Martin MAC 700
  • 6x Vari-lite 3500 Spot
  • 20x SourceIV Ellipsoidal
  • 18x SourceIV PAR
  • 2x DF-50 Hazers
  • Control: GrandMA1 Full-size
  • Backup: DMX DataLynx

(click on photos to open full-size in new window)

Pre-show look with only the pit band active

Commencement look (DS scrims and shields covering platforms)

Can you believe that's not a blue drape?  The wash fixtures 
brought amazing saturation to these white scrims.