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Previz Helps YouTube Live Event Overcome Challenges

PLSN Staff • News • January 22, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO — The first official YouTube live-stream event got an assist from Prelite, a company that provides previsualization services to lighting designers and programmers in its bicoastal studios and on site. Paul Efron, of Seeing Eye Lighting Design, was the lighting designer for YouTube Live, an extravaganza featuring YouTube Hall-of-Famers, Internet-born stars and mainstream acts.  The event, which took place at the Herbst Pavilion at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco, was streamed live over a branded channel of YouTube.

Prelite partners Tom Thompson, who acted as programmer for the project, and Norm Schwab, who was the lighting director, took their Prelite Onsite system, featuring Vision realtime visualization software, to the venue where a grandMA lighting console was ready and waiting.

“While stage construction was underway we were able to get a jump on the show,” said Thompson.  “An ambitious load-in schedule was offset by programming the looks ahead of time.  And since the Herbst Pavilion is essentially a warehouse with windows, the process allowed us to avoid daylight issues.”

Efron, who had done several corporate projects with Prelite, called the company “a great resource.  For YouTube Live, Prelite proved essential as we were allotted very little dark time for programming and rehearsals.  

“The challenge was to program a cue intensive 90-minute live variety show with no commercials, composed of many diverse acts in multiple locations in a very large venue, many of which were moving targets right up until the end,” Efron said, “some not blocked until as late as the dress rehearsal in an un blacked out pier in full daylight.  Working with a very limited budget for an event this ambitious, Prelite was some of the best money spent.”

Prelite helped save “hours and hours of valuable time” and gain many efficiencies,” Efron said. “Prelite enabled us to pre-program focus parameters and color palettes in advance, and get a good feel for what our lighting rig was really going to look like ” he said.

“By creating very accurate simulations of the set and venue, as Prelite can, we were able to see in advance potential pit falls of the system, and in addition, ways to maximize the lighting rig’s diversity and potential while it was still being installed,” Efron added.

“Having the mobile system onsite was extremely helpful as well as it allowed me to interact with both Tom and my production Electrician and implement many of the changes in advance while the rig was still on the ground,” Efron said.

When YouTube Live director John Gonzalez sat down with the team to discuss camera shots, Vision software made the virtual venue come to life.  “Using Vision and 3ds Max we addressed the lighting issues posed by low trim height and a very tall set before any lights were hung,” Thompson said.  “Then, once we got the real lights, things could move quickly which was a necessity for this show.”

“As far as the time savings, the system is amazing,” Gonzalez said. “It’s great to be able to view a monitor and see what the set going to look like.  With budgets what they are these days it’s a tremendous tool.  Everyone at Prelite was also wonderful. They were helpful, efficient and everything worked perfectly.”

“It was very helpful for John to see the previz with the set rendered enabling him to review his camera blocking with us prior to the quite chaotic real time environment of a very hectic rehearsal schedule,” Efron added. “Prelite really made this show happen.  It was a real challenge right up to the end but everyone was very happy with the results.”

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