“Upfronts” are the most important and effective outlets for the networks to showcase their upcoming season lineup. Prelite has been involved with the Turner team for five years, and the process has proven successful for all involved. Here is a step by step guide to our involvement with this successful production.
Our first contact is usually in December to block out dates in early May of the following year. Since this is a television event, it is usually a pretty heavy media show with mixtures of LED displays of various sizes and resolutions and projection. Thus, our first contact normally happens sometime in February with the Screens Producer, where she provides a pixel map and screen resolutions, as well as a model with the venue, screens, and audience seating.
We open the model in 3D Studio Max and optimize its parts, add materials to make it more interesting for the presentation, and map the video screens to the video outputs per the pixel map provided. Once that is complete it can be tested in the visualizer and adjusted if needed.
Not long after that, the lighting plot arrives, and it too goes to 3D Studio Max where the fixtures are input and aligned with the scenic elements and venue. If there are any custom gobos or fixtures, now is the time they too would be input. A few weeks before the previz session, the actual show patch arrives and the model is patched as if it were being prepped in the lighting shop and it is tested using a PC version of the console software. This is the time where we determine how the fixtures should be oriented, wither based on what is requested or how they react to the console profiles.
The next step is shipping. The previz session is held in a demo room at Atomic Lighting, which takes about 5 days from Prelite. Our representative, or “Host”, will arrive the morning of the first previz day to get the system set up and tested in the demo room. We’ll go over everything with the Screens Producer and Lighting Programmer while they themselves check their systems, and then focus can begin while hard drives are being loaded with content. The next day the show begins to be written with the Lighting Designer and adjustments to the file are sometimes made, rather than having to do them on site. The host will either contact the ME via phone or email, if the show has begun to load in, or walk out into the shop to discuss the changes. It’s best if the changes are made prior to the ME leaving the shop, so he can get a “real life” representation of what needs to be done.
The next two days are spent with the entire production team, including members from Turner, the director and other show producers. They all run through the show from beginning to end, making changes to improve the show, or just for the purpose of gelling as a unit. The results, year after year, have been the best possible product, on the biggest possible stage: the television media.