Archives for : Tech Notes

Death Cab for Cutie – You Are A Tourist (Tech Notes)

The first live, scripted, one-take music video shoot. On April 5th, 2011, it aired live on several websites as the first event of its type. The lighting is some of the most technical and creative around. Utilizing LEDs to display video and wireless LED costumes, this video has a unique art-deco meets Tron look.

Director: Tim Nackashi
Lighting Designer: Matt Ardine
Lighting Console Programmer: David Kane
Stage: Line 204
14 – ETC Seledor 1ft & 6ft
4 – Varilite VL3500 Profile
96 – 2.4kw Dimmers
6 – 12kw dimmers
4 – Color Kinetics Color Blaze 72
20 – Color Kinetics iColor Flex String
24 – Color Kinetics Color Blasts
4 – illuminate LED Suits
40 – Source 4
2 – Mole 5k Babys w/ Chimeras
4 – Twinspins
2 – 4’ 4 Bank Kinos w/ DMXControlETC Eos
Madrix Media Server
2 – ETC Gateways
ETC Show Control Gateway
Wireless Router
Netgear 8 Port Gigabit Switch, Unmanaged
Tablet PC & iPhones as Remotes

The whole music video is live switched and live to air. In the design of the control network, I knew that there needed to be backups. We used an ETC Eos as the main console and an ETC Ion as the backup. The DMX was output from two seperate gateways. There were five universes of lights programmed from the console. The console was also controlling the Madrix media server using Artnet. Madrix was pixelmapping 16 universes of iColor Flex pixel strings for the cloud tunnel in the opening shot. The Color Kinetics Powersupply was controlled via ethernet from the Madrix using the KiNet protocol.

The console used LTC timecode to stay insync with projection and sound. Sound playback gave us an XLR feed that was input into an ETC show control gateway and sent through ETCNet3 into the console.

DCFC Network Diagram

Childish Gambino – 3005 – Woodies Performance – Tech Notes

LED Designer: Matt Ardine
Costume Designer: Elise Valasco
LED & Battery Supplier: USLEDsupply
Wireless Control: RC4 Wireless
RC4 did a showcase on this project. Click Here
Lighting Gear
900 – 12V LED RGB Digital Pixel Light Square
18 – WS2801 DMX Decoders
36 – 1800ma Battery Pack
24 – RC4Magic DMXio data transceivers
2 – DMX2dim 2-Channel Wireless Dimmer
2 – Cool white LED strips
1 – GrandMA2 Command Wing
1 – GrandMA2 NPU
There were a number of difficult technical decisions that had to be made. Which LEDs should be used and how many per person? What minimally sized battery will run these for enough time and how many spares should there be? What wireless solution can transmit such a large number of channels?
For LEDs, I knew I wanted medium sized pixels that were 12 volts. USLEDSupply has a great product that can put 50 LEDs on a single string. It also used the WS2801 protocol which is a much higher resolution of dimming that other protocols.
I told USLEDSupply the run time I needed for the strings of 50 LEDs and they recommended their slim, 1800ma battery pack. We also had a spare battery for each primary battery so that one could always be on charge and ready to swap. During testing, the batteries lasted around 5 hours.
With 900 RGB LEDs that needed data (2700 DMX channels), I needed a reliable wireless data system. The receivers also needed to be very small to fit in the belt packs that were created to house the batteries, decoders, and receivers. After speaking with Sean Dane at RC4 Wireless, I determined that their system is the best for this application. For each universe, there was a transmitter linked with 3 receivers. There were 6 universes total, so this allowed for 6 transmitters DMXio acting as transmitters and 18 acting as receivers. The receivers, being 12v, were able to run off the same batteries as the LED decoders. Last minute, we added LED ribbon to the shoes. Litegear, in Burbank, CA supplied us with 2 RC4 Wireless DMX2dim 2-Channel Wireless Dimmers that were cut into the heel of the shoe along with a flat battery.
For testing, I used a GrandMA2 Command Wing, but quickly realized I was above the parameter count. I realized the virtual dimmer takes from the parameter pool. So Matt Shimamoto, at Volt Lites, was able to get a NPU to me on a Sunday. With the NPU, i was able to do distance range tests with all the suits up and running. The costumes were shipped to Austin where a local crew and programmer did the programming for the show.
IMG_5871 IMG_5874

iHeartRadio Music Festival 2014: Artist Lineup Announcement TECH NOTES

Directors: Bryan Olinger
Lighting Designer: Matt Ardine
Lighting Rentals: Volt Lites

Lighting Gear

36 – GLP Impression X4
12 – Phillips SL660
8 – Phillips SL640
6 – 6 Light Cyc Strips
2 – PRG Best Boys
8 – Source 4 19 degree
1 – Alphaspot 1500HPE
1 – 4’x2′ Hyrbid LED Panel

GrandMA2 Full
GrandMA2 OnPC
GrandMA2 Command Wing
1 – GrandMA2 NPU
2 – PRG MBOX Studio
3 – Optosplitter

We filmed this promo at the iHeartRadio Los Angeles Theater. We used some parts of the house plot but most of the shots consisted mainly of the X4’s and Philips Showlines. The in house LED screens were also programmed using MBOX’s but those shots didn’t make it in the edit. The hallway set used the source fours for the legacy fly rail, an alphaspot for the back wall, and we hung a Controllable Lighting Solutions LED panel overhead to create soft top light for Ryan. All was programmed using a GrandMA2 full with a Command Wing as backup and tech console.

Aloe Blacc – Love is the Answer tech notes

Click here for the interactive video.

Directors: Radical Friends
Director of Photography: Matthias Montero
Lighting Designer: Matt Ardine
Lighting Console Programmer: Derek Hoffman
Best Boy Electric: Tyler Anderson
DMX Tech: Heather Newson
Lighting Rentals: Cinlease
Lighting Rentals: Volt

Lighting Gear

2 – 30w Lasers
2 – 22w Lasers
8 – 24×2.4 kw dimmer packs
12 – Source 4 Lustre
12 – Colorforce 72
4 – Colorforce 12
4 – Sharpys
3 – Atomic 3000s
50 – Pixel Nodes
12 – Pixel Tubes
2 – Arri L7
1 – Arrimax 18k
3 – Arri M40
10 – Litegear Litestix

GrandMA2 Full
GrandMA2 OnPC
GrandMA2 Command Wing
2 – GrandMA2 NPU
2 – TMB Proplex Fiber Switches
750′ Multimode Fiber
1 – Wireless Router
10 – Optosplitter
2 – RC4 Wireless Dimmers/Receivers
7 – WDMX Transeivers

The challenging part of this video was getting all 16 sets lit and that every light can be controlled and cued from anywhere in the huge building. We decided on using 2 GrandMA2 desks and a seperate computer running OnPC software. The OnPC computer acted as the master and the 2 desks could connect and disconnect anywhere within the building without any interruption in DMX output. The two racks of NPU’s were connected with fiber since their distance exceeded ethernet’s limit of 100 meters.

Another challenge with the large space was getting WDMX to be able to be received throughout the building. There was an onboard camera light that was a Litegear Hydrid Pad and a Jem Ball with 5 meters of Litegear Hybrid ribbon inside. Both were operated on batteries and used RC4 dimmers/receivers. Since RC4 only has a 200′ range, an electrician used a backpack as a roaming repeating station with a WDMX receiver sending data to the RC4 transmitter. This controlled allowed Matthias to be able to dim and change the color of the camera lights from anywhere in the building.



Sonos (Tech Notes)

Director: Mark Romanek
Lighting Designer: Michael Keeling
Lighting Console Programmer: Matt Ardine
Lighting Console Programmer: Breckenridge Haggerty
DMX Tech: Geoff Knight

Lighting Gear

280 – Colorforce 72
50 – Colorforce 48
50 – Colorforce 12
10 – Elation Pixel Tape
50 – Litegear RGB Litepads
12 – Colorblasts TRX
24 – PRG Ohm Spacelights

GrandMA2 Full
GrandMA2 Light
GrandMA2 Command Wing
4 – GrandMA2 NPU
3 –  GrandMA2 VPU Media Server
4 – Gigabit Switches
1 – Wireless Router
1 – Tablet PC
2 – Laptops running FCP
36 – Optosplitter

4,316 pixels
16,588 DMX channels of LED lights
20,792 DMX channels total
92,088 Diodes

After Michael Keeling came out with the design that involved 280 Colorforce 72, we were trying to figure out the best way to control these.  They would be in 12 group RGB magic amber mode.  We decided that using a media server to pixel map them would give us the most options. We brought on Breckenridge Haggerty to be the media server programmer.  Breckenridge’s media server of choice is the GrandMA VPU.  Here is an article about him and the VPU.  I still wanted to be able to control them through the console as regular fixtures because sometimes it is easier to turn on a single light through selecting the fixture than it is using the media server to squeeze down a layer to exactly that size.  To do this, we merged the Artnet output from the VPU back into the GrandMA2.  From there, all the DMX data went out MA-Net2 to (4) GrandMA NPU’s.

pixel map

sonos_addresing sonos_diagram

Lonely Island – YOLO (Tech Notes)


A very ambitious music video with an even more ambitious schedule. Over the course of 2 days, we shot 20 different sets. The largest set is the arrow wall performance area which included hundreds of lightbulbs, several moving lights, and numerous LEDs creating a large softbox.


Cinematographer: Larkin Seiple
Lighting Designer: Matt Ardine
Best Boy Electric: Mike Beckman
Rigging Gaffer: Geoff Knight
Stage: Willow Studios
Equipment: Cinelease Los Angeles


4 – Clay Paky Sharpys
4 – Martin MAC Auras
3 – Colorblaze TRX
35 – Colorblasts TRX
3 – Litegear Literibbon RGB & CwWw DMX
2 – Image 85
16 – 4’ 4 Bank Kinos w/ DMX
20 – Source 4
20 – Par Cans
106 – 2.4kw Dimmers
6 – 12kw dimmers


GrandMA Command Wing
GrandMA OnPC on Laptop
Madrix Media Server

Proplex IQ
2 – Proplex GBS w/ Fiber
Proplex Fiber OM3 Fiber, 150 meter spool

Tablet PC & Iphone as remotes
Wireless Router
4 – Swisson RDM & DMX Splitter

There were 20 sets spread out over two stages. While I was shooting on Stage 1, I wanted to be pre-programming the large arrow wall set, which was on Stage 2. Geoff Knight was the rigging gaffer in charge of rigging the arrow wall set on Stage 2. Geoff ran GrandMA OnPC software on his laptop and we used TMB’s Proplex GBS switches and ProPlex OM3 TAC4 Fibre to connect the two stages that were 450 feet apart. The main console was the master in the session and the laptop on the Stage 2 was a slave. We used different user profiles. This allowed us to create different worlds for each set. Seperate worlds ensures that someone is not selecting fixtures that another programming is using. On stage 2, we used an IP Camera and the feed was sent over the fiber to my laptop on stage 1. With the video feed, I was preprogramming Stage 2 while my console was on Stage 1 filming the current scene. While the console was not on the Stage 2, the DMX was output using a TMB Proplex IQ running Artnet. When the main console moved to Stage 2 to shoot, we used the direct DMX output from the console.

 The Madrix media server was used to create some pixelmapping effects for the overhead softbox that had 20 Colorblast TRX going through a ¼ grid diffusion. The console was controlling the Madrix through sACN then the values for the lights were merged back into the console via sACN and output through the DMX ports on the console. This allowed me to control all the fixtures through the media server or pick single fixtures directly from the console. Artnet was also being sent out of the console when we were in preprogramming mode. The Proplex IQ listened to the Artnet and output universes 0&1. Artnet was shut off when we were shooting since the DMX was being directly output from the console.

The Colorblasts TRX, Martin Mac Auras, and Swisson Optosplitters were all used and RDM enabled. The version of GrandMA2 used did have RDM functionality. But at the releases, it only allows for the console to get PIDs and not set anything. But it was still useful in making sure they had the correct address and personality.

yolo geoff
Geoff on the Rigger’s Console Station.

YOLO Network Diagram


Passion Pit – Cry Like a Ghost (Tech Notes)

Cry Like a Ghost is the story of going through a woman’s life in fast forward and reverse. The whole video was filmed over the course of two nights in Griffith Park’s Cedar Grove. The lighting was used to change the forest into a bar, club, bedroom, and bus. For the bus scene, a media server was used to create some poor man effects with a projector.

Directors: Daniels
Cinematographer: Larkin Seiple
Lighting Designer: Matt Ardine
Equipment: Cinelease Los AngelesLights

8 – Color Kinetics Colorblasts TRX
2 – Source 4 Lustre LEDs
10 – source 4
10 – Parcans
1 – ViewSonic PJD6531w WXGA Wide DLP Projector


GrandMA Command Wing
Katrin Media Server
8 port unmanaged gigabit switch
Swisson RDM & DMX Splitter

A grid was created using concave baby plates on the trees. From this grid were hung colorblasts and ultrabounce material. The Source 4 lustres were used to bounce off the ultrabounce to create ambient light that could be any color. For the bus scene, a projector was lighting a window to make it seem like the bus was moving. The projector’s feed was being output from the Katrin Media Server. The GrandMA2 programmed the Katrin via Artnet.




2011 Sundance Opening “Light is Love” (Tech Notes)


The treatment for this commercial asked for an LED wall that didn’t look like an LED wall. Mariana wanted to take stills of Sundance films and pixelmap them across the LED array. A bookcase-looking container was CNC’ed and 1,600 LED pixels were individually placed inside each hole. The result is a video display that doesn’t look like a video display.

Director: Mariana Blanco
Cinematographer: Larkin Seiple
LED Designer & Programmer: Matt Ardine
Equipment : RGB Lights in Chicago


32 – Color Kinetics iColor Flex
2 – PDS-480CA
8 Port gigabit unmanaged switch
PC running Light System Composer
Macbook running final cut pro
4 – Source 4

After many different designs and budgets, I determined that the Color Kinetics iColor Flex Strings were the best product because of their price and speediness to install. We used 32 strings rented from RGB Lights in Chicago. They were powered by 2 PDS-480ca power supplies. These power supplies take Ethernet directly in using the KiNet protocol. So each device uses 16 universes. The power supplies were programmed using the free program from Color Kinetics, Light System Composer which was run on a PC. Also on the network, was a MacBook downloading videos from Sundance’s FTP and being edited in Final Cut Pro.