It’s often said that the key to business success is finding your niche, and that has definitely proved to be true for Arnoldo Offermann and his company 4SchoolsOnly. Specializing in school dances, Arnoldo has built up an enviable reputation in Florida not only for his DJ services but also for his venue-transforming lighting rigs.
4SchoolsOnly was recently contracted to provide the music and lighting for a huge prom party for Lake Nona High School at the Swan & Dolphin resort at Walt Disney World, Florida. The theme for the party had been chosen as ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, but the delivery of this was left down to Arnoldo’s creativity and technical expertise.
“When I met with the Prom Advisors,” Arnoldo tells us, “they told me the theme and, because they trusted me, let me take it from there. I suggested that we made it look like a wedding, very elegant with lots of draping and GOBO projections, but without losing the club vibe – because the students, at Lake Nona especially, want high energy music and a nightclub atmosphere.”
With almost 800 students in attendance, this event was a prom on a grand scale, which meant that a large amount of lighting and décor was required to create the right atmosphere. One of the key decorative elements was a large projection of a moon GOBO, flanked on either side by further GOBO projections each depicting a myriad of stars. For the moon itself, Arnoldo used an ADJ Encore Profile 1000 WW which makes use of a powerful LED light-source to create striking warm white projections. He would also have liked to use these fixtures for the star GOBOS, but unfortunately didn’t have any available, instead having to resort to conventional Leko fixtures.
“Unfortunately the lamp in one of the Lekos blew out half way through the dance, which is one of the real benefits of LED-powered fixtures, using LEDs that just doesn’t happen! We have 10 more old school Lekos which we need to swap out for Encore Profiles as soon as possible. I really love them, they are bright, flexible fixtures, that also use very little power, which makes them perfect for the events we do.”
In addition to the warm white moon and stars projections down the side of the room, Arnoldo also used ADJ’s Ikon IR and Ikon Profile cool white fixtures to project elegant leaf-patterned GOBOs on the pipe and drape wall that was erected as a backdrop to the DJ booth at one end of the space. 12 of ADJ’s Mega Tri Par Profiles were then used to saturate the white drape from behind with rich and vibrant colors, while the GOBO projections really stood out and helped to contribute to the event’s elegant theme.
This was further enhanced by the use of hanging drapes which Arnoldo positioned above the dancefloor. However, as he explains, this posed a number of challenges. “The problem with doing any kind of drapery in the hotels around here is that hanging from the ceiling is usually not an option, as the school gets changed an insane amount even just to hang a simple banner. So, a floor standing truss structure was the obvious choice, however usually we put those up at around 12/13 feet and that wouldn’t be high enough to allow for the looping drapes that I had in mind. The solution we found to that problem was to build the main rig on the floor and then lift it up using Global Truss America DT5200 crank stands. We could then lower it onto longer legs than we normally use to get the height for the drapes to hang down nicely.”
The truss rig, which was constructed from Global Truss America F34 quad trussing, involved two arches with curved corners that were connected together by a single central 27’ I-beam. A large mirrorball, mounted in the middle of the I-beam, created the centerpiece of the rig, which also served as the meeting point for the four drapes which flowed in from the four corners of the structure. This meant that the central I-beam was barely visible, with the illuminated sweeping drapes and mirrorball dominating the space above the dancefloor.
Arnoldo choose ADJ’s powerful 5P Hex par fixtures to illuminate the dancefloor itself from above, with ten of the units providing more than enough output. “The floor was huge – 24 x 40’ – and the 5P Hex fixtures absolutely filled it with color, we even had to turn down the brightness! But then that’s how we like to setup all of our shows, because you can always dial down powerful fixtures, but you can’t make dim ones brighter!”
The powerhouse of the rig was then eight moving head fixtures: four ADJ Inno Spot Pros and four ADJ Focus Spot 3Zs. As students arrived, these were used to project static star patterns on the dancefloor and then, after dinner, they allowed the creation of the ‘nightclub vibe’ that Arnoldo knew the Lake Nona students would be expecting.
“The moving heads injected movement and energy onto the dancefloor, adding to the ambient 5P HEX wash,” explains Arnoldo. “Some of the time we had all eight moving around the dancefloor, but some of the time the Inno Spot Pros were used to illuminate the mirrorball. Just four moving heads on such a large floor could easily have looked lost, but the Focus Spot 3Zs are so powerful that they really held their own. I particularly liked the effect of using the dual GOBO wheels to layer the stars and swirly patterns to create a really cool trippy effect.”
Normally at an event like this, Arnoldo would illuminate the tables around the room during dinner, but on this occasion he was able to make use of the hotel’s house lighting. The room happened to be fitted with faux sky-lights and he was able to work with the venue staff to use these to create the effect of the sun setting outside. Then, when it was time for dancing, the Mega Tri Par Profiles at the front and 5P Hex pars on the truss structure provided enough ambient light for the whole room while ensuring that the focus was clearly on the dancefloor.
“While we’ll use lighting to make the rest of the room look great when guests arrive for an event, and during dinner, I think it’s important to turn that off – or at least dial it down – when it’s time for dancing. At that point the tables don’t need to be the focus of the room anymore. We don’t want people sitting down, we want them dancing! If you light up the areas where people are sitting, it means that’s still a focus of the room. If you make it dark (but not too dark so that it’s a liability!) they’ll go where the excitement is, on the dancefloor.”
The rig was completed by ADJ’s Freq 16 and Freq Matrix multi-zone LED strobe fixtures. Just two Freq 16s and a single Freq Matrix provided the necessary punch on the dancefloor. Although this was backed up by the white LED element of the 5P HEX fixtures that can also be utilized for strobe effects.
Looking at the impressive photos from the event, you may have noticed the conspicuous absence of any speakers. This is because Arnoldo is passionate about keeping his rigs as clean and uncluttered as possible, which means that all of the audio equipment was positioned behind the pipe and drape at the end of the room.
“This wasn’t a Van Halen concert,” he jokes, “we buy drape that allows the audio to pass through which means that our speakers can be hidden away because, in my opinion, audio equipment should be heard and not seen. I want the lighting to be the focus, not the speakers. It also makes setup easier, because we don’t have to worry about the audio cabling being neat, as it’s all behind the drape.”
It’s small differences like this, coupled with an attentive eye for detail and huge creative flair, that mean Arnoldo and his team at 4SchoolsOnly make a huge difference to the school events at which they are booked to perform. They take run of the mill dances and transform them into immersive sound and lighting experiences that help to ensure the students in attendance have the time of their lives!
Lake Nona High School Prom
Disney’s Swan & Dolphin Resort, Orlando, FL
Entertainment & Lighting Company:
Lighting Designer: Arnoldo Offermann
Lighting Operator: Monica Offermann
Photography: Ray Owens, 4SchoolsOnly
ADJ Gear List:
4 x ADJ Inno Spot Pro
4 x ADJ Focus Spot 3Z
12 x ADJ Mega Tri Par Profiles
10 x ADJ 5P HEX
2 x ADJ Freq 16
1 x ADJ Freq Matrix
1 x ADJ Encore Profile 1000 WW
2 x ADJ Ikon IR
2 x ADJ Ikon Profile
1 x Elation Compu SDE
1 x Elation MIDICon PRO
4 x Global Truss America DT5200
4 x 5-foot Global Truss America F34 Square Truss
4 x 8-foot Global Truss America F34 Square Truss
4 x 10-foot Global Truss America F34 Square Truss
3 x 9-foot Global Truss America I-Beam Sections
2 x Global Truss America I-Beam Junctions
4 x Global Truss America Round Corners