Lighting & Set Designer: Nook Schoenfeld
Lighting Director: Justin Shaw
Media Designer: John Featherstone (Lightswitch)
Lighting Tech: Sean Flynn
Tour Manager: Martin Brown
Production Manager: Scott Eisenberg
Account Rep: Warren Flynn (Christie Lites)
Staging Co: Gallagher Staging
1 Martin M1 console
5 Martin MAC Vipers
6 Martin MAC stage bars
6 Martin MAC Aura
12 Martin MAC 101
12 Homemade bug lites
2 4 Lite Moles
6 ETC Source Four Ellipsoidal
2 1K Nooklites
1 Radiance hazer
More photos at www.plsn.me/IDextras
Nook Schoenfeld (Lighting & Set Designer):
“When it came time to design the tour for Imagine Dragons, the band went to a few designers and tried to explain their elementary concept. But they wanted to see how different people interpreted their vision. I envisioned some natural shapes and elements I could light that would reflect seasons. Hence, a big half moon and a couple of shark-fin shaped canvases you will notice on stage.
“The band sent me a napkin sketch of some trees and branches. They had some lamps hanging on branches and some animal eyes appearing in the dark. They envisioned wolves roaming the trees in a forest. So I put that image in my brain and walked around with it for a few days. Talked to a couple designer buddies and came up with a plan. Spent 20 minutes talking to my artist, and he nailed it. Then I designed some 3D trees with moving LED heads and some custom lantern thingies hanging off the branches. These would hang in front of the canvas shapes. After I got rewarded the design, the band immediately started chirping in with a lot of input. They were the first people to ask if I could project images on the sails I designed.
“They provided us with a story board outline for their show with certain media images in mind. With that in mind, Justin Shaw (lighting director) and I sat in a previz studio at Heroic Lighting in Minneapolis and knocked out the light cues. Then the band worked hand in hand with John Featherstone (media designer) and Justin in adding all the content when needed.
“As for lighting fixtures, it’s strange, but I chose all Martin fixtures. I didn’t intend to, but it worked out best. Joe Gallagher was building these tree structures. He takes my 3D cad wireframe drawings and just feeds them into a machine.
“The machine, in turn, laser cuts out these intricate 6-foot-long shapes of 1/4” aluminum. The trees then bolt together and have arms welded in places for me to hang [Martin] MAC 101’s. They weigh 8 lbs, and the beams come straight out from between the leaves and branches.
“I threw some MAC Auras and stage bars on the floor to light the set pieces and act as foot lites for the band. Then the one fixture that holds it all together, five MAC Vipers. I can fully cover a complete club/theater audience as well as the band with just five of these incredible fixtures. Justin and a lone tech (Sean Flynn) from Christie Lites were able to put it all up daily.
“I met Justin (Shaw) 12 months ago at a one-off I was playing in Providence. I had been given a Hog Full Boar to play with that day, and I needed a little help remembering the key stroke commands that console utilizes. Justin talked me thru a few quick steps I was lacking and we became friends.
“This is the third tour he has directed for me. I literally called him straight from a Mica tour in Europe to rehearsals for this. He had never programmed a Martin M1 console. It took me 20 minutes to show him everything, and he had it mastered. He’s a great find for me. I will beat up John Featherstone if he steals him.
“John (Featherstone) and I work fabulously together. It’s uncanny, but we read each other’s minds at times. I have made it my mantra to hand video back to those more qualified then I. So whenever one of my shows requires any media files made, sized, interpreted etc. I just call Lightswitch. Those guys have a bazillion movie files on their network and heaven forbid it’s not in their library, they will manufacture it quickly. Plus John’s a great LD. I can hand him off any show I’m working on and he will just make it look better.
“There were really three designers necessary to collaborate on this project. My artist, Chris Tousey, was able to take my description (over the phone) of an eerie cartoon-looking tree, and draw it perfectly the first time. He came up with a half moon and some shark fins that were perfect. This show was all about teamwork.”
Nook also wrote about this tour in his April 2013 column, “LD-at-Large,” for PLSN.
John Featherstone (Media Designer):
“Nook and I have worked on a number of projects before, notably Rise Against and Kid Rock. Nook was jammed during the creative process, so along with Christopher Tousey, the third member of the holy trinity, we took a bit of an ‘it take a village’ approach and collaborated on a shared vision...
“I greatly enjoy working with Nook and Christopher in this role because it truly is a collaborative venture - even though the roles of lighting and media designer are defined, the edges between our disciplines are very blurred, and Nook, like me, embraces the idea of ‘no bad source for a good idea’. This means the band really get multiple talented brains working together on their project, and we all focus on the visual design of the show as a whole, rather than ‘siloed’ lighting and media design that then somehow has to come together on site.
“As I have a lighting background, I also think I have a different aesthetic than many pure media designers, and Nook calls what we do ‘media design for lighting designers’ - what I think he means is that we focus on the entire show and understand the interplay between lighting and media, the peaks and valleys of the creative vision, and the need for media to support, not eclipse the look of the show. On occasion these days I get the sense some media is designed in a vacuum and leaves little space for pace, or for a back and forth with the lighting...heck, sometimes we even turn the screens off !
“The band are not only some of the nicest guys I’ve ever worked with, but also deeply collaborative and inclusive. We worked hand in hand with the band crafting the show, a lot of media pulled from our proprietary Lightswitch stock library, but with some custom pieces woven in too. This way we can pay attention to key moments while remaining budget conscious and manipulating library content to give the show a unique and distinctive look without breaking the bank. I think we succeeded.
“We used Arkaos media server for playback, provided by Christopher Tousey which is the perfect flexible, cost effective server solution running on robust Mac mini’s. For the creation, my colleague Austin Shapley is the wizard of After Effects, Photoshop, and anything else you could name and used the Adobe creative suite of products to craft the bespoke portions of the show.
“This has been a great ongoing project and it is exciting working with a band that is not only enjoying such explosive growth, but also has their feet firmly planted on the ground !”
Justin Shaw (Lighting Director):
“The band are just about the nicest guys you could hope to work for. They’re involved in all aspects of the show and they’re really a pleasure to be around. They put the same care and effort into the production aspect of the show that they do with their music, which is really refreshing and helpful. Sean Flynn, our lighting tech has been indispensable on this run. Not only is he a great guy but a great tech. This show would not happen without him.
“The Vipers are my favorite fixture on the show by far. They provide a layer of depth and movement with only five of them on stage that would take at least double the number with other fixtures. They really make the show more beautiful.
“It has been an absolute pleasure to work with Nook and John on this show. They really went above and beyond on the design and media for this run. They’ve made it look like a bigger show but fit in clubs. I’m quite honored to take this on the road and give an awesome show to the crowd. All in all it’s been great… everyone is looking forward to what’s in store next, and I for one am very excited !”