CHICAGO – Are there colors of sound? Can sound be expressed in the movement of light? Renowned instrumentalist and double platinum recording artist Nicholas Gunn thinks so, and he enlisted lighting designer Jeff Hinton of 815 Productions to help him demonstrate these principles with a ground-breaking video that they shot in an historic Chicago home in late September.
Gunn, a pioneer of New Age (or “World Music”), whose recordings like Thirty-One Nights have become classics in the genre, arranged for Hinton to capture his performance on the flute, as well as interpretive dance numbers, with an improvisational lighting display. To achieve this visionary goal, the LD surrounded the small stage with circular truss and mounted 12 Intimidator Spot 255 IRC moving fixtures from CHAUVET DJ on the structure.
“Nick got a hold of me, wanting to try and do something different. He was looking for somebody who is equally passionate about lighting as he is music,” said Hinton. “Of course, I was thrilled by the opportunity. We set up everything in a private residence that was a fire station back in the 1800s. Our challenge was to take emotions and turn them into colors and movements for this video. The music and the dance were all new, although we did have a day to rehearse and make modifications in our design, such as adding a fast strobe with a slow gobo rotation. The output and versatility of the Intimidators was invaluable in helping us interpret Nick’s very emotional performance.”
Constructing his circular structure with truss from CHAUVET DJ’s sister company TRUSST, Hinton spaced his 12 60-watt LED Intimidator Spot 255 IRC fixtures evenly around the unit to create even cross lighting on Gunn and the other performers. “We were going for a more natural look, something very fluid and high level to highlight emotions of the music,” he said. “The Intimidator had many good features that made it well-suited for this project, but two things that stood out were its very clean, crisp gobos and its split beam 3-facet prism capabilities. They gave me a lot of coverage in the area inside the circle. I ran the whole thing DMX and was able to get a seemingly endless variety of looks.”
In addition to the dozen Intimidator Spot 255 IRCs, Hinton used an assortment of 20 CHAUVET DJ par units as well as the Hurricane 1800 Flex water-based, DMX-controlled fog machine. “The fog was very crucial at different times in the performance,” he said. “We used it to create the image of recent rainfalls, which really reflected the mood of the music very well.”
Reflecting the emotional tides set forth by the music was indeed at the heart of Hinton’s design. In the end, it gave this project special meaning for him. “I have worked with many artists, including big name DJs and bands,” he said “But this was truly a unique and great event for me. It gave me the chance to be a part of creating art both for the eyes and ears…so it was special.”