HES Gear in Style at Miami University Fashion Event

Date Posted: 6/2/2022

Miami University in Oxford, Ohio held their 16th Fashion and Design Program’s Fashion Show on April 30th, where High End Systems lighting offered beautiful illumination of the 75 student models on the catwalk. All the designers, models, and volunteer staff are students in the school’s fashion and design program; the annual event took place in the Millett Hall basketball arena. Prestige AV & Creative Services supplied the lighting rig, comprised of 32 SolaFrame 1000 and 12 SolaWash 2000 controlled by a Hog 4 console. Prestige’s Lighting and Rigging Director Shawn Bernstein led the production team, assisted on the gig by Video Lead Chip Thompson, Rigger/L2 Daniel Grote, and Zactrack System Tech Aaron Hubbard.

Bernstein says, “Since this is an annual student led project, we had a new group of students in charge of the event and what the direction would be. This year they wanted to go big, so we played with some different runway options, and settled on a more traditional layout with three screens in a half hexagon as a backdrop at the front of the runway. In past years, we have done this event with around 100 ETC Source 4 PARs in the standard manner one would light a fashion show. After our first meeting about concepts and vision, we pitched the idea of using the Zactrack automation system, with the models lit in a spotlight as they walked the runway. They loved the idea and we started creating the plots, layouts, and general plan. This was a totally different mindset for us, so it was not only exciting, but incredibly scary to take such a giant leap into a new thought process for this event.”

A dozen SolaWash 2000 fixtures were spread evenly down the sides of the 72’ runway, with five on each side hung from house trusses. Two more were placed on the downstage truss. The plan was for the fixtures to provide a dim wash during the event, and to be the primary wash fixtures for the runway walks. The SolaFrame 1000 units were split across 28’ trusses with eight on each side of the runway, and another eight pushed off the downstage left and right corners. A Zactrack system controlled one of the framing fixtures from each position, so that the talent was lit from all the primary viewing angles during the runway walk. The remaining SolaFrame 1000 were used to fill in the corners and gaps that needed coverage. During a complete collection walk, the team bypassed the Zactrack, using the rig to create a gorgeous 5600k wash over the entire runway, rather than try to spotlight each unique model.

Bernstein emphasizes that the Hog 4 platform was integral to this show. “Everything visual in the room came back to control from the Hog 4 - all the lighting, the Zactrack, and the video elements. Gear was networked using sACN, with the Hog 4 and Zactrack sharing control over the bulk of the SolaFrame fixtures.  The framework for the show was laid in on a master cue stack that triggered the videos to run as the backgrounds for each of the collections, and this stack also had the basic framework for each collection of assigning color, intensity, and control of specific fixtures over to the tracking system. We could also control Zactrack from the Hog 4, which allowed us to set which fixtures followed a tracker. Since we had student volunteers putting the trackers on each model, we were unable to pre-program which models would be on stage ahead of time, so we created a number of scenes to quickly assign fixtures to specific trackers on the fly. The ability to have so many scenes, batches, and macros running at the same time kept all the movements quick and seamless. The Hog 4 platform and GUI made it incredibly easy to run this as a hybrid busk and as a cued show!”  

For this event, Shawn went with the combination of the SolaWash and SolaFrame units for a nice flat even field, and matching color and output abilities. “They are rock solid fixtures that we knew would give us clean light, not only for the live patrons but for the photo and video elements of the event. The combination of the zoom angles, shutters, and focus/ frost features allowed the SolaFrame 1000 to quickly morph from acting as a ‘spotlight’ to filling in and adding to the full wash for the complete collection walks. Their smooth pan and tilt movement made the constant tracking of models seamless and even.” 

In closing, Bernstein says, “SolaFrame 1000 is our primary automated framing fixture. When we made this investment, we looked at different options, but the Sola Series was a better built product, with the feature set we wanted, and at a price point that fit Prestige AV & Creative Services perfectly. I would put the intensity of the SolaFrame 1000 up against any of the 1200 watt arc fixtures on the market. Overall, I consider it to be the standard workhorse fixture for reliability, flexibility, and durability. Along with two other companies in the Cincinnati area, we discussed investing and agreed to go the same direction, which gives us a solid base of fixtures here for cross rental.”