With 16 studio albums and nearly 60 million records sold worldwide, the multi-platinum recording artist Alan Jackson has solidified himself as one of country music’s most iconic talents. In a career that spans over three decades, Jackson is still hard at work touring the nation for his dedicated fans. Needing a new production design to support the current “Honk Tonk Highway Tour”, the management team once again enlisted the creativity of Craig Rutherford, Blueshift Design, who in turn called upon Nashville-based tour provider Elite Multimedia.
“Since we have had such a long relationship with Alan, he is sort of ‘hands off’ when it comes to the designing of the production for his tours,” began Rutherford. “I typically start the process by reviewing the designs from previous tours, and then finding new ways to change it up to keep the tour fresh. Afterwards, I then speak with Elite Multimedia to select the gear needed within the specified budget, and I submit the plan to the production manager for final approval. This team has been together for a while now and Alan really trusts everyone to provide him with the best designs possible for his tours and that is really what we all try to do.”
Starting the design process for the “Honk Tonk Highway Tour”, Rutherford wanted to do a complete reconfiguration of the lighting rig. By moving certain fixture types into different locations from previous tours, he was able to now create a deeper visual experience.
“I am always looking for ways to make the show look bigger and more visually interesting,” continued Rutherford. “For the last couple of years, we used our wash fixtures on the downstage truss and we had a lot of top light in the air above the band. This year, we moved all those fixtures upstage and added verticality to create a wall of light that worked in conjunction with the upstage LED video wall giving us a beautiful canvas behind the band to bring additional energy and emotion.”
Now needing to select the fixtures to fill the redesigned rig, Rutherford got to work with Elite Multimedia to finalize the lighting production design. Once finished, the new lighting design for the “Honky Tonk Highway Tour” included Philips Vari-Lite VL3015LT Spots, Martin Mac 700 and 301 Wash, Chauvet Colordash Par Hex 7, Chauvet Ovation E-190 WW Profiles for front light on the band, ProCan 4 Lite blinder luminaires, and Elation CUEPIX Blinder WW4 fixtures with a GrandMA 2 Lite console for control.
“We have actually reduced the total fixture type count this year by one, but we have taken out a lot more hard-edged spots,” added Rutherford. “Since we now had the wall of light behind the band, I wanted to have a diverse, multiplicity of gobos and aerial looks we could achieve. We had pleasant surprise this year with the VL3015LT Spots being available and they really helped give us those looks we wanted in the design.”
Moving his attention now to the LED video design, Rutherford wanted to continue to freshen the tour’s production design, but with an artist whose fans will always be dedicated to the iconic hits, finding ways to change up the content can be tricky.
Rutherford explained further, “One of the video challenges is that Alan has a tremendous catalog of classic hits and the music video content for those will never change. Nonetheless, I still have to find ways to keep the video elements of the design fresh. Last year we started experimenting with a video capture card where I could grab shots from our brilliant video director Robby Luttrell, so this year we decided to implement even more live IMAG into the video design. With the performance capabilities of the FLEXCurtain HD 12.5mm LED video screen, we have a lot more flexibility to frame the live shots creatively and the high-resolution playback shows it all in great detail.”
As the “Honky Tonk Highway Tour” now continues to cross North America with tour dates scheduled through October 2017, Rutherford is excited for fans to experience the new design. Through the reconfiguration of the lighting and video, Rutherford now has the new design elements he originally envisioned through the support of Elite Multimedia.
“As lighting designers, we deal in looks and the more options you have fixture-wise, the more dynamic and interesting you can make the individual scenes within the show,” concluded Rutherford. “Ultimately, we always want to give an exciting and fresh look to the production, and Elite Multimedia consistently has the exact gear I need to create the new and dynamic elements for each design.”
Elite Multimedia is a privately-owned, leading supplier of the most up-to-date audio, video and lighting technologies today. With a combined 85 years of industry experience, our team of dedicated professionals knows how to pair the right technology with your vision whether partnering with you in a rental, systems installation, or sales relationship. Through an unconditional desire to make your production or project a complete success, our passion and knowledge to innovate knows no bounds. For more information on how Elite Multimedia is the right partner for you, visit www.elitemultimedia.com, follow us on Twitter at @EliteMultimedia or find us on Facebook or Instagram.