Friday, October 9, 2009

Interesting Homecoming 2009

So what do 3 hours, 24 lights, 300 glow necklaces and 1300 people all have in common? An awesome homecoming!

Last Saturday night we once again provided the DJ entertainment for Hononegah High School’s homecoming and it was nothing short of awesome! This was the 4th homecoming we’ve rocked with them and this has to be the best for a number of reasons.

Each year the attendance has risen with this year putting us just under ¾ of the students in attendance with over 1300. Not the biggest school, but fun none the less. This school is also very easy to work with and ready to do what it takes to have a great dance, more schools should take note of this. And best of all the kids PARTY! They’re polite and fun and ready to have a great time!

Now on to what made a HUGE difference this year, besides the DJ, big time lighting! We bring a pretty big show in as it is, probably larger than most other DJ’s for the price point but they still wanted MORE! Cool! This actually started last year with prom but with the room we had, a lighting upgrade would have been a waste so we held off until homecoming.

Rewind to just about 3 weeks ago when we started to materialize our “upgrade” and decided on bringing out the big guns and hanging the lights above the students (flown) from the truss beams in the gym!

So you’re probably thinking, so, what’s the big deal? I’ll tell you, an addition like this first takes a financial commitment and a time commitment along with knowledge, trust and cooperation, that’s all before even one single light is in place. Now add in nearly $100,000 worth of lighting hanging above 1300 students, there’s your WOW factor! See the pics

The benefit to “flying” the lighting from the ceiling in the middle, you can do so much more with less and have a better show and better lighting coverage. So hanging above their heads was 40’ of trussing loaded with 8 Martin Mac 700 profiles and 8 Martin Mac 700 washes along with 8 Martin Atomic 3K strobes and a 48’ mirror ball! What’s all that mean? Think American Idol like lighting! Now you’re getting it, cool huh?

Here’s one of the best parts of the story! This “smaller” school way out of town decided that they’d rather spend the money on creating a dance they’d remember for a long time by choosing to add elements that actually make a difference. A great DJ, awesome concert lighting and a total experience! They chose not to spend thousands on decorations that won’t be seen after the lights go out and added impact with a HUGE light show! The best part is this took less than $3.00 per person from the ticket price to make this happen!

So in the end the event was great BUT it was not without its challenges. Check out the pics here!

Keep reading if you’d like to hear how it all came together!

On the 1.5 hour drive, the challenges started off with a phone call telling me my lighting crew got stuck at another event downtown Chicago and would be a “little” late for our 2pm load in. No problem, we’ll go and get our sound set up and be ready to rock when they got there, we’ll have plenty of time the dance doesn’t start until 8pm.

We got set up and the lighting crew finally arrived at 5pm. No sweat, the trussing is “pre-rigged” we just need to load in, hang fly points, connect power, connect control, lift, tidy up and BOOM!, so we thought! The easiest part was the load in then comes the bad news. Miscommunication about power requirements left us scrambling to make this work. After a “hot” tie in to a 208 volt panel we have the necessary power, now let’s rock! Meanwhile the trussing was getting positioned and ready now we needed to hang the fly points. No problem, the lift is right here let’s get to it! WRONG! The lift plain didn’t want to work! We got one fly point rigged and that was it! Time was ticking.

We decided that the lift simply needed AC power; plug it in and no joy! OK, let’s let it charge and we’ll finish what we have to then try again! Still no luck! Not a problem, my school contact’s father-in-law has a scissor lift and lives right down the road, be back in a jiff! SWEET!

Meanwhile the clock wasn’t slowing and we’re easily past 6pm, 2 hours before the official start! So Mike returns with his FIL and the lift: AWESOME! As the lift is entering the school it runs out of charge, not so excellent. So we now plug this lift in and charge, move, charge, move, charge, move, you get the point!

The clock is ticking faster I swear and the lift in the gym still won’t work! Finally the lift has enough charge to get to the doorway and oops, the lift DOES NOT FIT! On to plan B, originally the lighting was supposed to be 2-20’ spans hung parallel to each other and the mirror ball in the center. That rigging requires 5 fly points and no way to get up to the rafters! So we audible and make 1-40’ span of truss and now only need to get 2 additional hang points up! BTW, the time is after 7pm by now!

After massaging the first lift, we got it up there and left it there and moved it manually! The lighting was hung and ready to go at 8pm on the nose as the students began to enter the gym!

What I didn’t tell you is that during our sound setup we discovered we had one bad amplifier and couldn’t use it. No problem, I’ll change the configuration and we’ll run the system down a little on power but still potent! In the process we blew 2 subwoofers during the sound check, UGH!

In addition, when we arrived the main doors were chained shut with a padlock because they were broken, we got that resolved and loaded in! Finally, just before announcing the homecoming court I was notified that the hits kept on coming, the flowers for the Queen hadn’t been ordered so they were running out to get some and we’d need to hold off!

Sitting back it doesn’t seem near as bad as what it felt but it was a bit stressful yet interesting to encounter so many issues. Who would’ve thought that we’d run right down to the wire having 6 full hours to set up? I for one did not!

A big thanks goes out to Mike and Adam from the school for seeing us through and helping us deliver yet another great homecoming!

There ya go, now you know what it’s like to be a DJ for a day! See ya later!

Check out the pics here!

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