Tampa’s Amphitheatre Gets Its Colour On


Revelers coming to the Amphitheatre seeking an immersive experience on New Year’s Eve found what they were looking for at the lofty two-story club, which has become a familiar stop on the EDM circuit. Snappy tracks by Warner Bros. recording artists We Are GTA and supporting acts including WiWEK & Vincent reverberated through the club like shock waves courtesy of the brain crushing 70,000W house bass. Adding to the mesmerising atmosphere was a sea of overhead balloons colorised by a collection of COLORado and COLORdash fixtures from Chauvet Professional.

Lighting Designer, Brett Lorins of Brett Lorins Design, brought the Chauvet fixtures to the high profile club just for NYE at the behest of his friend, Amphitheatre LD Rick Sheppard. “It was something that Rick and the club’s owners had discussed,” said Brett. “In previous years they did balloon drops, but they wanted to take it a step further this year and make the display more engrossing.

Rather than simply have any old balloons, Brett and Sheppard decided to colorise the inflatables with light. This is where the COLORados and COLORdashes came into play. “The Chauvet fixtures were brought in specifically to light the balloons, because of their intense color output and brightness,” said Brett. “We used big white balloons and blasted them with Chauvet colour. Normally, the Chauvets are not here at this club. We brought them in just for this event, because the lights in the club’s usual rig didn’t have the intensity we wanted.”

Being LED fixtures, the COLORados and COLORdashes also helped the LDs deal with power draw issues. The Amphitheatre is located in Ybor City, a section of Tampa built in the 1880s to house cigar factories. Now a popular nightlife neighbourhood, the neighbourhood has been officially designated a historic preservation district, meaning that it is difficult, if not impossible, to add power.

The fixtures that Brett brought to the club on New Year’s Eve included six COLORado1-Tri Tour RGB washes, four COLORdash Par Quad 7 RGBA par style units and one COLORado 3 RGB wash bank. This collection of fixtures was used to colorize 500 balloons that were housed in a conical circular overhead truss structure. Measuring 20ft in diameter, the truss coned down to a 52-inch opening. A 48-inch mirror ball served as a glittering cork, keeping the balloons in the structure.

“Before midnight we used the COLORado 1-Tri Tours and the COLORdashes to light up the balloons inside the truss structure,” said Brett. “We positioned the fixtures strategically so the coloyred light really sparkled in every direction from the sea of balloons. Being white, the balloons really took on the colour of the light beautifully.”

At precisely 9:59:50, the mirror ball was dropped. It took roughly ten seconds for the first balloon to be liberated from the conical structure. Gradually as more balloons left the structure, the outpouring accelerated until there was an avalanche of hundreds of balloons descending on the dancefloor.

Prior to the release of the first balloon, the COLORado 1-Tri Tour and COLORdash fixtures were turned off. The only light hitting the balloons as they left the structure was the output of the COLORado three, positioned 30-ft in the air facing the conical truss. The light from the RGB wash bank illuminating the white balloons against a darkened background created a powerful visual image. “It required some creative rigging and maneuvering to position the COLORado bank fixtures, but it was well worth the effort.” said Brett.

The COLORado 1-Tri Tours and the COLORdash fixtures did double duty at the club. After the balloons dropped, the fixtures were repositioned to bathe the performing DJs in rich arrays of colours. “We really liked the tight beams of the COLORdashes when we used them to illuminate the DJ stand,” said Brett.

Mainly though, it was the colourised balloons that really stood out for Brett on this night. “The response has been great, the lights really took ordinary balloons and elevated them to set pieces that captured attention all night,” he said. When the night was over, Brett and Sheppard got a pleasant surprise: the owner of the club asked them to recreate their balloon spectacle again on 4 January when the Amphitheatre held a special New Year’s Eve party for service industry members who had to work on 31 December.