The 70th Emmy Awards celebrated television’s best and brightest — and the Television Academy’s Governors threw an incredible after-party for them all. The theme for this year’s Governors Ball was “Emmys Under the Stars.” To embody that theme in lighting for the event, the designers created an interactive LED ceiling treatment with 800 strings consisting of 6 LED spheres. This 3D lattice of light consisted of 4800 RGB points that pulsed, changed color, and acted as a canvas for media effects all driven from a single ETC Eos Ti console.
“They wanted the stars to do more than twinkle — and we were happy to do it,” says programmer Thomas Schneider of White Fox Productions. “We used linear effects and pixel mapping supplied by the on-board media server to create a variety of looks and moods to reflect the live music that was present throughout the night.” Live entertainment ran for up to six hours at a time during the parties, and each song received multiple looks, leading to hundreds of looks. But even with all that content, Schneider was able to keep everything on one console and not use an external media server.
“We chose the Ti over an external media server because the freedom we would have to single out particular areas of the event floor,” explains Schneider. “A media server would have demanded custom content for every area of the ceiling treatment that we wanted to call out or change, and that was impractical to create because of time constraints — not to mention being in a live busking situation.”
To start the programming, Schneider made a pixel map of the placement each of the 800 strings, viewed from the top down. Then he duplicated that map five times, creating six total maps, one for each plane of RGB points on a string. “Then, by layering the six pixel maps together I could play the same content from the media server across all six layers. By adding timing and delays on each of the layers I could get some great dynamic effects using the same media content.”
Schneider then mixed media server playback with linear effects controlling the intensity and color of the RGB points to further the variations. “Eos Ti allowed us to combine media server and lighting effects on the same console, dazzling partygoers,” says Schneider.
The Eos operating system’s powerful magic sheets were key in letting Schneider easily create all these looks in a compressed time frame. Laying out the string placement in magic sheets allowed Schneider to quickly select strings and program his looks. He was also able to use the magic sheets to build even more effects, visually creating knock-out patterns in the lattice thanks to the Ti’s graphic display. “Following the layouts on the magic sheets we could strategically place patterns in the strings so we could and take the intensity of those RGB points down to busk with the music and have an even greater dynamic effect live.” One of his favorite moments included a dual dancing Union Jacks during the playback of “Moves Like Jagger.” “No one noticed it, but I thought it was really cool,” laughs Schneider.
And all of the control for the star field effect was accomplished on one Eos Ti, with no remote processing. The lattice of 4800 balls fit over 32 universes, with DMX routed through 12 ETC Four-port Gateways positioned throughout the truss. An ETC Gio provided back-up.
ShowPro supplied lighting equipment for the event, with in-house designer Chris Greulach handling lighting design for the event. Scenic and LED ball design was courtesy of Irma Hardjakusumah, under the direction of Cheryl Cecchetto and her team at Sequoia Productions, which also supplied production and event management. David Kane was lighting programmer for the entertainment lighting at the event (which was also run by an Eos Ti). The technical director of the event was Matt Ringer of TDE.
“The Governors Ball committee and all the Emmy Awards guests were thrilled with the dynamic, entrancing lighting we created,” says Schneider. “And it’s all thanks to the power of the Eos Ti.”