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Manny Newman Colourises Domefest with Chauvet Professional
USA – For most students, a college project involves helping a professor research something like migratory bird patterns, or working on a video to stream on the school website. But Jeremy Schon did something a bit more ambitious: he started a music festival that is still going strong today, nine years after he left the University of Maryland.
Hosted by Pigeons Playing Ping Pong (Schon is the band’s lead guitarist), Domefest has grown a from a one-day affair located 15 minutes from campus to a three-day festival in rural Pennsylvania that features over 25 jam bands, mostly of the psychedelic persuasion. Adding an appropriately colourful and free-spirited glow to their performances was a Manny Newman-designed light show that featured 20 Rogue R1 Wash and 16 Rogue R1 Spot fixtures from Chauvet Professional, as well as eight Chauvet DJ Mega Strobe FX12 units.
Newman, who is the lighting designer for Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, flew 12 of his Rogue R1 Wash units on what he calls “the grid,” a configuration of eight quick-grid ladders clamped on upstage truss. The remaining eight washes were used for front and side wash. Eight of the Rogue R1 Spots were arranged on road cases, while the final eight spot fixtures were flown on upstage truss.
Utilising the colour wheel of his spot fixture and the RGBW colour-mixing capabilities of his wash units, Newman criss-crossed the stage with multi-coloured beams. Having a matrix of light at different eye levels and in a rainbow of colours created a kaleidoscope effect that fit the mood of his client’s music. “The colours and looks followed my interpretation of the mood that characterized different parts of the show,” said Newman. “Colour is a very big part of a Pigeons light show.”
To add ballyhoo looks to his colourscape, Newman position his Mega Strobe FX12 fixtures four apiece on each side of the quick grid. “Anytime I need to smash, pow, blam-blam-blam or whoosh is when I use the strobes,” said Newman. “It’s like ‘Attention: Strobes will be used in tonight’s performance, and they will be EPIC'!”
Although setting up the festival went smoothly for the most part, Newman was troubled by some unwanted insect visitors. “My biggest challenge was with the carpenter bees,” he said. “Every time I get up on a ladder – and I hate ladders – yes, I know, an LD that hates heights, but anyway, as soon as I get on the ladder there they were. It was always that one bee that just wants to hang and gets way too close to my face, so that was my challenge with set-up. I got the rig up but ladders and bees are not cool during set-up or anytime in general.”
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong performed each day of the festival. Newman had no trouble varying looks, since the band’s set list changed nightly. “I had late night programming sessions, so I could add new looks as I got struck by ideas,” he said. “Plus, the fixtures helped me come up with fresh looks, thanks to their beam shaping, gobo capabilities, and sharp optics.”
While Newman ran the light show for his client, other bands either brought in their visiting LDs or had their shows run by Mike Koss of Inmuso, which supplied some of the fixtures used at the festival.
“I used to be the festival LD and I’m not going back. If I ran for the all the other bands, I would be totally burnt out by the time PPPP got on,” said Newman. “We hired Mike Koss, who works with Inmuso, which provided our additional fixtures, to run all the other bands. Every LD who came here said something like, ‘Yo, dope rig! Is that a trampoline up there?’” remarked Newman. “They had a fun time playing with the Pigeons rig and painting the canvas. A fun thing for me was hanging with the other LDs and teaching a lighting workshop, which was surprisingly well attended. Connecting with friends and enjoying live music, that sort of sums up the spirit of Domefest.”
photos: Jordan August
3rd September 2018
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