Pairing a series of innovative ADJ fixtures with an advanced ArtNet control solution, Wisdom Esoterica’s Matt Wisdom was able to bring eye-catching customized animations to the Hamilton Skate Place, while also ensuring a neat install that exceeded the expectations of its owners.

Roller rinks have long been a popular past-time for teenagers, often acting as a social space for meeting with friends, spending time skating and grabbing something to eat. But to keep the kids coming back time and time again, roller rink owners have to stay innovative with their music, lighting effects and atmospherics, creating a cool, high-energy environment for skating in.

Seeking a more versatile rig for their lighting operators to use, the owners of the Hamilton Skate Place in Chattanooga, Tennessee sought the skills of Matt Wisdom, the man behind install company Wisdom Esoterica. Using a series of innovative ADJ products, he was able to take the Hamilton Skate Place’s lightshow to exciting new levels, as well as incorporating flexible programming software to give the lighting operators the freedom they wanted.

Matt created a lightshow of a huge scale, selecting 56 ADJ Revo 4s, 60 ADJ Mega Bar RGBAs and nine ADJ Kaos units, as well as black lights and mirror balls to complete the look. As expected, a vast number of universes were required to achieve the levels of detailed programing that Matt wanted to allow, while Compu-Ware software and ArtNet protocol were used to control the various matrix patterns and effects created.

“[The Revo 4s] are projecting down onto the ground, the Mega Bars are on the ceiling in a sort of cove, and then in the middle of the rink there are nine of the Kaos, which create an aerial beam effect and some motion in the middle of the rink. That’s the three main elements,” says Matt.

While this creative combination of ADJ effects delivers a plethora of mesmeric displays, the rink’s main show piece is undoubtedly the Revo 4s, which were installed around the entire rink to provide eye-catching animated visuals and effective color changes.

“We set up the Revo 4s in a big grid and pixel-mapped them, and then we programmed different sorts of animations to go around the skating rink,” explains Matt. “But one of the details that I thought came out really neat was the way we installed them. What we did with the Revos was we actually installed them above the drop ceiling, with clear acrylic tiles replacing the normal white tiles. So the units are totally hidden but the Revos are projecting onto the floor. If you look at the ceiling it looks totally smooth; it's a nice clean install.”

Another aspect that worked out well was actually a happy accident that came as a result of the new roller rink floor. Because the surface was so new and glossy, the powerful multi-beam RGBW moonflower effects of the Revo 4s were reflected back up onto the ceiling, producing a highly impactful double floor-to-ceiling effect.

“One more thing to note about the Revo 4s is that it took 40 universes to control and do all the video, which is something that almost nothing else can do at that kind of price,” Matt says. “To do that with a GrandMA or a Hog would cost you something around $40,000 just for the control system – just to have 40 universes of output and video converting to light.”

Clearly impressed with the Revo 4s, Matt also managed to deliver high levels of pure lighting excitement using the linear Mega Bars, which feature RGBA LEDs, a 30-degree beam angle and 48 built-in color macros to offer far-reaching effects in a series of smoothly mixed colors. The units were all operated on the highest DMX setting (34-channel) to ensure that future lighting designers have the most available colors with which to create an array of hues in the skate rink.

“Basically, there are about 60 Mega Bars,” says Matt. “The rink has a drop ceiling that creates a cove, and the Mega Bars are pointed all the way around that at 360-degrees, each addressed to individual channels. For example, we have one series of scenes where all the Mega Bars are red and two blue bars chase in a big circle around the rink. But we also have stuff where the entire... The sixty units are stretched out over a few hundred feet, linear feet, so we’ll have like a rainbow stretching out over the whole thing. And it can be animated, so the rainbow spins around, but we get a really nice gradient of color, from each red to range to yellow to green. Basically just lots of different colors and motions going on around the room.”

Again, due to the design of the room itself – this this the ceiling gradient – Matt was also able to achieve a truly unique effect with the Mega Bars: “The Mega Bars wash a nice chunk of the ceiling itself, but they also hit where the ceiling drops down to maybe two feet lower than what it is over the rink. As they hit that they’re also lighting the ceiling at the same time, so you get a kind of halo effect around the whole rink.”

When it came to programming the atmosphere-enhancing effects created by the Revo 4 and Mega Bar RGBA units, Matt was incredibly impressed by their compatibility with Compu Ware, as well as being satisfied with the customization and versatility offered by the software itself. Using ArtNet, his team were able to produce some spellbinding pixel-mapped effects that turned the Hamilton Skate Place into the hottest rink in all of Tennessee!

“In order to do all of those custom programs, a lighting effect generator typically only goes so far. You can kind of do general effects, like rainbows or color chases, but you aren't gonna create what we did: say, the image of Pac-Man chasing a ghost around the floor, or the galaxy swirls, or the pattern that spells happy birthday,” explains Matt.

Many of these distinctive animations were generated by running video footage through the programing software, which allowed Matt to import the video and turn it into pixel-mapped effects projected by his ADJ lighting fixtures.

“We have one that’s like a countdown for a race with a starting line, so when they do the roller rink races these arrows start running around the rink and the kids chase the arrows,” Matt says. “We did all that by making custom video clips that we than mapped into pixels. It would take for ever doing that pixel by pixel, so it worked out really good and let us do some stuff we wouldn't usually do. It’s something I’m really proud of and happy about.”

While Matt clearly found the ADJ products to be reliable and versatile enough for his needs, it’s fair to say that no project of this scale goes with a few issues cropping up. Despite knowing what they wanted to achieve, Matt and his team spent some time experimenting with the video-to-pixel-mapped effects, mainly due to issues that depended on the angle of filming, before finally got things right.

The last pieces in the puzzle were the Kaos units, which worked with the pixel-mapped effects of the Revo 4s and Mega Bars to complete Matt’s desired look. While the Revo 4s were creating matrix effects on the floor in a series of colors, the Kaos’s effects were matched to that, and the Mega Bars accompanied the whole thing with their own unique color scheme.

“That’s how the final product is: a lot of scenes like that where everything is working together,” explains Matt. “But the operators [at the rink] also have the ability to freestyle, so they can take anything we built and change colors on the fly and change what the Kaos is doing and the Revos. We gave them a bunch of comprehensive looks but also the ability to create an infinite number of variations using hot keys and macros.”

So, by the end of the Hamilton Skate Place project, Matt has created a highly flexible ADJ lighting rig that can now be used by the rink’s lighting operators to create unique pixel-mapped effects that take the atmosphere to the next level and keep the kids coming back for more!

But what was the overall impression on the owners of the rink? Well, Matt certainly exceeded their expectations, surprising them with how much he managed to get out of the Revo 4s, Mega Bars and Kaos units.

“They have some sister rinks and they do a lot of similar effects with the Mega Bars,” Matt says. “One of the other rinks has just as many Mega Bars but they only use four different DMX addresses and they repeat throughout the rink, so when they started seeing what we could do with the programming they were like ‘wow, at the other rink they don’t do all this extra different, elaborate stuff, they’re all doing the same thing all the time’. They didn’t realize we’d install it in such a clean way, that it would be so programmable; the way it lights up is so thorough, and everything just exceeded their expectations.”

With a pleasantly surprised client, Matt soon found himself reaping the rewards of the extra work that him and his team put in to make this dream project a reality. Having consciously chosen to do the install in a clean way, with the Revo 4s hidden, the team had extra work to do. But by installing them two feet higher the Revos were able to cover a wider area, taking the total floor coverage from around 60-80%.

“When the owner found out that we were doing the extra work, he just volunteered to pay an extra chunk of money to say thanks,” enthuses Matt. “It’s kind of unheard of for a client to pay extra, so they were definitely pleased with the project. We've had good reviews from everyone; a good reaction on social media and lots of footage uploaded online.”

Having produced a crowd-pleasing lightshow that also left the owners and lighting operators at Hamilton Skate Place pleasantly surprized, Matt can walk away from this project with his head held high. Fair to say, this success is partly down to the commitment and creativity of the Wisdom Esoterica team, but also down to the versatility, affordability and innovative features of the ADJ products used. By adding in a flexible Compu Ware control solution, Matt was able to push our fixtures to their full potential, producing a detailed, visually advanced lightshow that will continue to provide pure lighting excitement for years to come.

Hamilton Skate Place (Chattanooga, TN)

Lighting Designer:
Matt Wisdom, Wisdom Esoterica;

ADJ Dealer:
Star Wholesale (678-570-7608)

Photography & Video:
Robert Dahl

Video Editor:
Candice Cardenas

ADJ Gear List:
Revo 4 (x 56)
Mega Bar RGBA (x 60)
Kaos (x 9)
Mirror Balls (2)

Check out these ADJ products making light magic at Hamilton Stake Place: