Lighting designer Victor Zeiser created some captivating looks for the current tour of the U.S.-based band They Might Be Giants. The New York-based LD built his multi-faceted lighting scheme for the band’s tour around ever-changing combinations of wash and spot lighting. The scheme includes COLORdash Batten-Quad 6 linear washes and the side-mounted Rogue R1 Spot from Chauvet Professional’s line of LED entertainment lighting. Zeiser says that the lighting adds extra depth to the entire show. He used some unique video images and a series of textured gobos.
The band has never become complacent in its creativity, even after 4 million record sales, 17 studio albums, and two Grammys. They Might Be Giants always manages to surprise fans through their incorporation of a diverse mix of music into their unconventional performances. Zeiser’s fresh new lighting design keeps up with the band’s creativity.
Zeiser’s creative lighting plan was born from a conversation he had with John Flansburgh, the band’s co-founder. “Last fall John and I had a conversation, and he told me he was kind of over having a traditional rock-and-roll light show,” said the LD. “He expressed real interest in having something more basic and more unique.
“Plus, since the group is now made up of middle-aged men, there was not a particularly strong desire for me to make sure they were super visible all the time,” continued Zeiser. “I also had to keep the band’s dislike of having a hazer anywhere on stage in mind. Given all of these factors, I needed to design something that would work well without beams. Pulling from my experience lighting modern dance in college, I decided my design would focus heavily on side light. The side lights are really the core of this design.”
Instead of fully cueing out the show, Zeiser has a “setup cue” for each song that incorporates color and gobo information. From his desk he then changes lighting intensity with handles.
“I have individual handles for each system per side,” he said “This allows me to create interesting looks by mixing different combinations of spots and bars from each side, as well as pulling it down to a single side light. All of this is run off my trusty sidekick, the Avo Quartz.”
Zeiser’s rig features a boom with three COLORdash Batten-Quad 6 fixtures and two Rogue R1 Spots on each downstage corner. A tower in each corner upstage holds a pair of R1 Spots and a third fixture on a flipped up case.
“The downstage R1 Spots have a great selection of textural gobos that I project on the band,” he explained. “Then I fill with the powerful wash I get out of the COLORdash battens.” Zeiser noted that he uses the upstage fixtures for traditional backlighting during the first half of the performance. “During the second half, I introduce the cyc upstage and the video aspect of the show,” he said.
Zeiser projects images onto the cyc using “four sub-$100 security cameras” that he positioned around the venue and a Blackmagic TV switcher.
“One of my favorite shots is a camera mounted to the top of the projector, which creates a video feedback loop,” he said. “I also get an audible reaction when I introduce a camera shot of the audience upside down. These projections are then obscured by gobo projection from our upstage Rogue R1s. The only reason I can pull that off is because of the great prism in the Rogue units. Pairing the prism with gobos and split colors I get a lot of ‘how did you make that look’ questions from curious house LDs.”
Members of the band and its audience have been impressed by Zeiser’s LED entertainment lighting design, according to Zeiser.
“The band loves that their show looks different from all the other tours that roll through these venues,” said the LD. “That makes me very happy too.”