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Porter Robinson’s ‘Virtual Self’ Tour

by Jim Hutchison • in March 2018 Wide Focus • Created: March 12, 2018

The Plexiglas decks allow light to blast through from beneath. Photo by Jasmine “Yasi” Safaeian

Pioneering electronic music producer Porter Robinson has teamed up with lighting designer Ben Coker of Orlando’s Zenith Lighting and collaborated with All Access Staging for the 2018 “Virtual Self” Tour. This isn’t your typical EDM blink blitz — Coker, the Porter Robinson team, and All Access Staging have come up with a fully ground-based, modular floor kit with absolutely no front light package.

‡‡         A Modular Setup

The team created a completely modular floor design of two sizes of cart-decks, each covered with a tough Plexiglas top. The two cart sizes, a large model and a smaller model, work together for venues of different scenic capacities, giving the team complete control over the deck size per venue. The carts lock together and the whole stage can be sized accordingly, which helps play a myriad of venues with total customization of the playing area. Each of the larger decks contain two Robe MegaPointes as the main thrusters of the cart, giving Coker the use of Robe’s CMY mixing system, tight optics, dual rotating prism wheels and animation effects to create some spectacular looks. The smaller decks are loaded with a single Solaris/TMB SoLED LED strobe per cart, which works well with the GLP Impression X4 Bar 20 units lining both sides of the deck in towers. Coker admits, “Porter really likes the looks the X4 Bar 20’s provide for the overall look of the stage, which matches nicely with what we’ve done with the floor looks.”

All Access and Zenith Lighting teamed up on production. Photo by Jasmine “Yasi” Safaeian

Initial concerns about the decks’ reaction to the MegaPointe’s ultra bright beam were extinguished. “All Access did a burn test of about 20 minutes’ duration with the plexi deck tops, MegaPointes on full, narrowly zoomed, and open white. The decks did not melt. There were no distortions at all, the plexi tops have such a high transmission that we didn’t even see them get warm.” Coker placed four RE2 Turbo fans from Reel EFX on the stage left side of the deck, blowing air underneath the floor to maximize heat dissipation. “Besides really liking the industrial look of the deck carts, that was why we left them open on the sides.”

Photo by Jasmine “Yasi” Safaeian

Regarding the lack of a front light package, Coker says he and Porter decided it’s all about the music and less about the musician. “With this one, we wanted to remain as faceless as possible. I originally had some Auras uplighting Porter, but we ended up cutting them because we liked the look without that angle. Porter’s face isn’t all over this tour, and we liked the anonymity that the rig provided without lighting his face directly.” Coker is running the show on a grandMA2, with a mix of busking and timecoded cues.

The initial design, Coker mentioned, had more than 200 diode lasers mounted in the deck as a laser grid shooting straight up, but the team decided on using moving heads instead. When asked why he chose Robe’s MegaPointe in the rig, Coker says it’s all about the fixture’s functionality. “For many years now, I’ve wanted what most designers want, a true CMY beam-hybrid-spot fixture with the capabilities to do amazing effects. You can make some tremendous looks with that set of prism wheels. Everybody loves this light right now, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want it. We knew it would be the right choice for the floor.” Coker adds that they have also incorporated some Pyrotecnico lasers into the current design.

Photos by Jasmine “Yasi” Safaeian

‡‡         Maximum Movement

Coker also spoke on the cart design and fixture choices. “We worked closely with All Access to make a cart that allowed for maximum movement while being as close to the Plexiglas as possible, and we came up with a design that worked perfectly once we had the right fixture, the MegaPointe.”

The open cart design is easy to maintain, with no special data and power connections. “We run normal looms for the carts during the load-in, which makes the rig go in quickly with a little focus touchup,” Coker explains. The decks lock together with coffin locks and stay put on locking casters once assembled. In the truck, they stack two high and three wide, one row flipped on the other to roll back into the truck for the out. Coker works on the production alongside tour/production manager Ryan Resch. The crew includes one master electrician, two lighting techs, and one video tech, making the setup happen in about three hours from truck doors to console ready.

All Access Drawing

“In rehearsals, we were able to try a lot of things that we wouldn’t do with a conventional rig, and we were giddy over the results of the beams shooting straight up as opposed to directly at the audience,” Coker said, of the show’s concept. “We loved the results of using a fixture in a position where it is literally designed to shoot straight up, with some angle variation. We initially started making focus positions, and discovered that the difficult process of creating a show where the fixtures were designed to be oriented up, created amazing results. In a way, it was like re-training your mind to make positions where the beams were mostly captive in the deck.”

Sitting upstage of the Plexi deck is a 30-by-16-foot video wall made from Oracle 9.7 mm tiles that supplement the looks. Zenith lighting provided all of the lighting and video gear for the tour.


Porter Robinson “Virtual Self” Tour



LD/Creative Director: Ben Coker

Tour/Production Manager: Ryan Resch

Lighting/Video Co: Zenith Lighting

Lighting Op: Robert Fuller

VJ: Ryan “Ghostdad” Sciaino

Master Electrician/Lighting Tech: Travis Stoker

Lighting Tech: Ixsunn Ramirez

Video Tech: Will Corbani

Laser Op: Will Kent

Set Carts: All Access Inc.

Sound Co: ShowSystems

FOH/MON Engineer: Rayce Stipanovich



1          grandMA 2 Full Size

48       Robe MegaPointes

6          Robe BMFL WashBeams

20       TMB SoLED 840’s

18       GLP Impression X4 Bar 20’s

2          Martin MAC Auras

20       SGM Q7 color flood lights

140     Oracle 9.7mm LED Panels (for 30’x16’ wall)

10       Folsom Image Pro 3G


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