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Serving Up Whiskey, with a Splash of Lasers

PLSN Staff • News • June 28, 2020


CHICAGO – For Coherent Designs, the laser design specialists out of Chicago, a need to reinvent oneself during the  downtime in the live entertainment business was weighing on president, principle designer and laser programmer Will Kent. Through recent events, Kent found himself engaged with a bar/restaurant in downtown Chicago – Whiskey  Business, to  augment the look of their upstairs, outdoors dining and drinking area with a laser show.

More details from Coherent Designs  (

Kent explains how this gig came to fruition, “We’ve been working on how we can operate and use our skills during the Covid shutdown of Live events. The Idea was originally to do “pop up” style laser shows in parking lots around the area. A mutual friend introduced me to Whiskey Business owners who at the same time were looking to bring something new to the table for Chicago roof top nightlife, this gave us a more permanent venue and a team to collaborate with.”

Getting ready for the first night

The owners of the nightclub had set up a rooftop experience to entice patrons to enjoy a night out of drinking and fraternizing, all set up to  coincide with social distancing regulations in the town.  There was video played back on an in-house LED wall, but some snazzy lighting was needed to augment the room. That came in the form of an overhead laser show that was installed and programmed by Kent using 2x 3 Watt Kvant Clubmax FB4, 2x 6 Watt Kvant Clubmax Fb4, and 4x 30 Watt Technological Artisans ClubCat Fb4. They were all supplied by Coherent Designs, with some equipment sub rented from GKLighting. Will worked closely with Video programmer Alex Konarski when designing and programming the show. Resolume media player software was utilized.

Coherent Designs is a Laser Show firm specializing in custom programming and operation solutions. Kent strives to integrate lasers cohesively with a production to create the appropriate emotion with the medium. He’s worked with musical artists such as Porter Robinson and Illenium.

The shows opened on June 26th and are set to  run through Sept 30th, running nightly every Thursday – Sunday night. Kent is hopeful to continue  as  long as the crowds come. “To bring this show to fruition took about a month of planning, programming and designing. Load In took a day and  focusing the zone for the  lasers was pretty simple as they all needed to shoot from one end of the room and terminate on an opposite wall. We stuck with strictly overhead beams, along with some systems dedicated to graphics to show sponsor logos.”

Kent programmed all the lasers using Pangolin Beyond Ultimate software. ”I  did all the laser programming and will operate the shows. It’s a mixture of time-coded tracks and live punting.” Kent adds.

As this is an outdoor venue, smoke is almost necessary to capture the laser effects. Kent employed four Antari z-350 handle haze units to  handle the load. They’re spread out around the rooftop to try to best handle wind from any direction. They are controlled through Beyond using an Enttec USB Pro  device that provides them with DMX.

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