Every Friday throughout the summer the City of Jeffersonville, Indiana hosts a free concert on its unique floating music venue, the RiverStage. For the 2016 season, lighting supplier Sounds Unlimited Productions wanted to take the light show at these popular music events to the next level, and the team turned to ADJ to help them achieve just that.
Sounds Unlimited Productions was formed in 1997 by partners Chris Hughes and Brent Rogers when they bought out the DJ company that they had both been working for. As two of the previous company’s best earning DJs, they felt there was plenty of potential for the business to grow by embracing new technology, especially in the area of lighting.
That’s precisely what Sounds Unlimited Productions has done over the past almost 20 years. The company now has its own facility that incorporates office space, gear storage, customer meeting areas and also a full demo area to allow the team to showcase what they can offer to the organizers of special events. While the company still offers DJ and MC services, over the years it has also branched out into equipment installation and large scale event production.
The company has been an ADJ dealer for many years, specifying ADJ products for installation projects as well as stocking them in their own production inventory. However, as the company grew they found that more and more of their work called for the larger fixtures found in the range of Elation Professional, ADJ’s sister company. That was, Chris tells us, until the Vizi Series came out, which offered the brightness and feature set that Sounds Unlimited Productions needed at a price they loved. “We picked up a bunch of Vizi 5Rs and we ran those things into the ground, we were abusive to them, but they’re still kicking today. All of them are still working!”
So it was ADJ products that Chris chose when he came to put together a proposal for upgrading the lightshow on the RiverStage. This unique floating performance space is a barge moored on the banks of the Ohio river in downtown Jeffersonville that faces an amphitheater on the bank made up of terraced lawns. Chris and the Sounds Unlimited Productions team have been involved with supporting shows on the RiverStage for a number of years, having sold the city the stage’s previous lighting system as well as supplying sound and lighting engineers for each Friday concert.
“The bands are giddy having their logos up on the big screen! The city is absolutely ecstatic, and I know we’ve only just getting started with the things we’ll be able to do with visuals on the AV6 screens.” - Chris Hughes, Sounds Unlimited Productions
The previous lighting system utilized dozens of fixtures rigged across the back of the stage, but when the City approached Chris to upgrade the lightshow for 2016, he came up with a different concept. “I took my new lightshow design and said to them, ‘this one’s a little different, this one’s gonna make you money!’”
Chris’s proposal centered on a large LED video wall that could provide backdrops and effects to enhance the live music performances, but that could also be used to display advertising messages for sponsors between performances. Chris had wanted to use LED video wall in the past, but had always found it cost-prohibitive – that is until the ADJ AV6 came along. “When the AV6 panels hit, at the price-point they’re sitting, now it’s a whole different ball game!” he told us.
As the RiverStage performances are all free to attend, the City helps to cover costs through sponsorship, which meant that Chris’s proposal was well received. The City’s Parks & Recreation department, which is responsible for the stage, decided to run with the idea and even took it further. They now plan to have the screen running every evening, during peak foot traffic times along the riverbank, showing advertisements for local businesses as well as details of up-coming concerts and events.
Another added bonus was that, in addition to the Friday night concerts, the RiverStage is used on Saturday evenings for family-oriented movie screenings. In past years a projector and screen was used, which wasn’t really suitable for the large setting and meant that the movies couldn’t start until the sun had almost set. Now, thanks to the AV6 video wall, movies can be shown at any time as the screen is bright enough to be seen even in full daylight.
For the Friday evening concerts, Chris and the Sounds Unlimited Productions team use the video wall – which is made up of a total of 45 AV6 panels, arranged in 5 rows of 9 – to display ambient graphic loops as well as logos and visuals supplied by the visiting bands. They also integrate a live camera feed that means that even those seated at the back of the viewing terrace can see exactly what is happening on stage.
Although Chris’ concept centered on the AV6 panels, he still needed some moving lights on stage in order to add color to the shows and create mid-air beam effects. To achieve this, he chose six of the new ADJ Vizi Hybrid 16RX fixtures that offer three-in-one beam, wash and spot functions. These are positioned at either side of the screen, in two stacks of three, and can be used to back-wash the stage, project GOBO patterns, and generate far-reaching beam effects that shoot over the performers and out towards the crowd.
Chris was initially concerned about having so few fixtures to work with upstage, but these worries were soon dispelled when he saw the Vizi Hybrid 16RXs in action. “I got nervous that six fixtures wouldn’t be enough, but that feeling went away real quick,” Chris Told us. “They’re so punchy, very powerful – in fact you can see the beams during the day – we’re really very happy with those fixtures.”
The Summer Concert Series on the RiverStage runs from Memorial Day weekend through to Labor Day weekend and features a diverse line-up of tribute acts, local bands and a couple of national touring performers. The 2016 season kicked off with a performance from talented local covers band the Louisville Crashers, who are very popular in the area and attracted a crowd that numbered in the thousands.
Another recent performance that attracted a big crowd was from Pink Floyd Tribute ‘Dark Side of the Wall’ who used the AV6 video wall to display the iconic visuals that are synonymous with Pink Floyd’s live shows. Meanwhile, 80s rock covers band the Velcro Pygmies allowed the Sounds Unlimited Productions team to really put the new rig through its paces as they illuminated an action packed set of 80s rock anthems. Up-coming shows through the rest of the summer include Blues Brothers tribute ‘Jake, Elwood and the Boys’ and ‘Rumors’, a tribute to Fleetwood Mac.
Now that the new system has been up a running for a few months, we were interested to know what response Chris has had. “The bands are giddy having their logos up on the big screen, and we’ve had a lot of fun with some of them sending pictures over that we can then include in the show. The city is absolutely ecstatic, and I know we’ve only just getting started with the things we’ll be able to do with visuals on the AV6 screens.”
This installation by Chris and the Sounds Unlimited Productions team is just one example of how ADJ’s boundary-pushing, reliable and affordable products allow impressive productions even when the budget is tight. So, if you ever find yourself in the Jeffersonville area on a Friday in the Summertime, be sure to take a lawn chair downtown to check out the show and soak up the atmosphere in front of the RiverStage!
Venue: The RiverStage, Jeffersonville, IN
Installer / ADJ Dealer: Sounds Unlimited Productions
Conceptual Designer: Chris Hughes, Sounds Unlimted Productions
Photography: Craig Schneider
Bands: The Louisville Crashers; Dark Side of the Wall (Pink Floyd Tribute)
ADJ Gear List:
45 x ADJ AV6 LED Video Panels
6 x ADJ Vizi Hybrid 16RX