Inside Look At “I Am Music” Tour Design

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Production designer Daunte Kenner, recently created an explosive show for Lil Wayne‘s I Am Music World Tour, a collaboration between Kenner and production manager Maceo Price – the brief was to achieve a concept never seen before in hip-hop.

Kenner explains: “We discussed conventional set styles but we agreed none were edgy enough. I proposed the idea of flying the entire five piece band – I thought a completely empty stage prior to Wayne’s appearance – would make for a dramatic intro. Maceo loved it, but still wanted to include a complementary basic static set.”

The finished product was five 8’x8′ risers with clear plexi bottoms flown by a computer controlled system with a stationary ground set to match. The dramatic moving design fabricated by BRS Rigging, incorporated intense flame effects that demanded an entirely grated stage – a rolling 60′ wide x 48′ long base stage. The set also features a pair of hydraulic lifts, one with 360° rotation supplied by Accurate Staging.

Kenner states: “Due to the mother grid supporting the set motors, the only air space for lighting was the stage perimeter and was designed appropriately. The rig consists of a downstage truss packed with Martin 2K washes, two 40′ long side trusses parallel to the stage featuring 16 ShowGuns, three 30′ tall vertically flown trusses upstage with a mixed arsenal of VL3000 spots and MAC 2K washes.”

He continues: “Various other wash fixtures are scattered throughout the mother grid and beneath the set. There are plenty of Atomic strobes, and a combination of PixelLine 1044s, Color Blazes and PixelArcs outline the ground set, flying risers and to colour the CO2 jet smoke.”

All the lighting is supplied by Performance Lighting Inc. and the video by Nocturn Productions. The video integrates with the set and lighting seamlessly. Four 13’x12′ panels flown upstage on motors fill the gaps between the vertical trusses and a video cube downstage. The 20mm V-lite system is bright, easy to assemble and an economical choice to display digital media as well as live shots from the show. The upstage panels display custom digital content, while the cube displays tight shots of Lil Wayne.

The show is programmed and controlled via the latest version Hippotizer media server. Kenner notes: “I’ve used several other media servers on past designs, but none are as robust, easy to teach and use as the Hippo.”

On the first leg of the tour the Hippo and was supplied by Nocturne and on the second leg by Dunaway Designs.

Lighting director on the tour is Steve Beckenroot, lighting crew chief Mike ‘slim’ Howe and programmer Esteban Caracciolo. Lead rigger Gerald McDougal, rigging crew chief Steve Davidson and motion control programmer Richard Clarke. Video director is Nick Keiser.

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