The Sky’s the Limit!March 30, 2009
The Sky’s the Limit!
You know, we work in a lot of ballrooms. A LOT of ballrooms. And ballrooms come with standard complaints – the ceiling’s too low, there are no good rig points, the carpet’s moldy and the AC is too cold.
So, we decided to find a space that had none of those problems. Plenty of room, good air circulation, no mold. Yup – we took it outside.
Outdoor venues are really a mixed blessing. On our last show, we couldn’t drum up a lot of sympathy from the other half of our crew who was shivering in a dark ballroom, since we were outside … in the sun.
Sounds perfect, right? But outdoor venues have a whole set of challenges of their own. For example, dark time. Dark time is when lighting designers get to write all their cues, the video crew checks and perfects all the images on-screen, and everything can come together and look like it will during the real show. In a ballroom, dark time happens every time you turn the lights off. Outside, dark time happens ….well, when it gets dark. Which means a lot of lighting cues are designed in the wee hours. On the plus side, though, how many lighting designers get to write a full moon into their cues?
The very public nature of an outdoor venue can be a challenge, too. Put a big staging rig outside and you’re gonna attract some attention. Our crew got a little tired of answering the “What’s going on?” question all day, so they got creative. Rumors were flying that everyone from U2 to an Eagles Reunion was happening onstage.
Lighting is another challenge. Sometimes, in ballrooms, we have lights on “trees.” That’s when the lighting instruments are hung on stands instead of being rigged from the ceiling. Well, outside, our lights on trees were really on TREES.
And don’t get me started on the wind. My indoor friends had the luxury of setting papers down wherever they pleased. But those of us in Nature’s Ballroom had to hang on to everything for dear life, or weigh our valuable paperwork down with flashlights, monitors, Coke cans or whatever we could find. And sometimes it was windy just before it rained …
But in spite of all the challenges, at the end of the day, when the sun is setting behind the stage, the wind is blowing through the twinkle-lit trees, music is floating from the speakers rigged in the branches and you’re sporting a light sunburn, you just can’t beat an outdoor venue. The sky is, indeed, the limit.
Shoot. A bird just scored a direct hit on my computer screen. Hey, which way to the ballroom?