Moving lights and museum exhibit design were the topics of the Midwest Regional Section's winter event February 16.
In the first of three sessions in the event, Broadway lighting designer Paul Miller led the group through an impressive array of shows where he used moving lights in static situations. He explained these choices often are driven by available tech time, space, and a need to adapt on the fly. A few systems of moving lights allow designers to react more quickly to directors and other members of the production staff. Mr. Miller showed examples of when the moving lights allowed him to enhance projections by matching the color or texture of a projected image and how the ability to mix an almost infinite array of colors gave him a huge amount of freedom during tech.
In order to achieve all this variety, a designer relies on a good programmer. During the second half of the program, Spencer Lyons, Midwest field project coordinator for ETC, showed his programming skills while demonstrating the new ETC Ion control board. Participants were invited to step right up and put it through its paces. Thanks to Chicago Spotlight, the group had a nice array of fixtures to play with.
The afternoon had a completely different focus as Ed McDonald, the director of exhibit projects and maintenance for the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, led participants through the U505 submarine exhibit highlighting the design intent and execution of this world renowned project.
The U505 is the only German submarine on American soil. Its capture during World War II was a turning point in the Atlantic campaign. It was the first ship captured by United States forces since the war of 1812. Much like theatre, the exhibit designers at the museum struggle to tell stories, in this case the dramatic capture of this sub. This is not a set piece or replica, but the actual machine including the bullet holes that pierced the tower during straffing by fighter planes.
Leading up to the U505 is a path of history, each piece designed to highlight a particular aspect of the sub's journey and how it was intercepted. The use of moving lights for variety and malleability or the amount of engineering that goes into keeping the U505 safe and preserved are not obvious to the audience, but these technologies enhance the experience for everyone.