Photos credit: Adam Kaplan – ASK Media Productions Inc.
The massive EDM gathering known as Nocturnal Wonderland took place over Labor Day weekend (September 2–4) at the San Manuel Amphitheater and Grounds in San Bernardino, California, its 21st anniversary. Produced by Insomniac Events, headed by CEO Pasquale Rotella, thousands gathered to celebrate three days of electronic music while dancing the three-day weekend away amidst magical environments created by production design specialists SJ Lighting.SJ Lighting handled production design on four of the five stages at this year’s Nocturnal, creating something extraordinary on each stage with the help of a bevy of Elation lighting gear supplied by Visions Lighting, AG Light & Sound and Felix Lighting.
“The design philosophy is always to create something new, to give visitors a unique experience,” said Steve Lieberman of SJ Lighting about the design goal for this year’s festival. Lieberman, who draws on years of front line design experience in the top-end club and EDM festival worlds, knows what it takes to keep live EDM music fans happy.
“The genre of music dictates what you need to do on a show and you need to create a system that reflects that atmosphere,” he said. “You really need to understand the culture and music in order to create the right lighting atmosphere.”
SJ Lighting again showed its ability to effectively interpret EDM with unparalleled creative designs for the Wolves’ Den, Labyrinth, Temple Noctem and Sunken Garden stages.
This year’s Nocturnal featured some of the world’s top EDM artists as well as up-and-coming underground talent with stages, grounds and attendees coming to life in a black-lit world of color.
The festival’s main stage, the progressive house Wolves’ Den, was a scenic delight with a stacked horizontal LED screen design and lighting rig that included Elation Colour Chorus 72™ LED battens and Elation’s high-impact white light Cuepix Blinder WW2™.
Stacks of Colour Chorus fixtures lined the horizontal LED screens, keeping the look richly colorful and working together with a large center LED screen. Lighting supply, as well as video and rigging, was by AG Light & Sound, who also supplied 500 square meters of AG 8mm LED video panels and 1,500’ of 20.5” truss. Because of an extremely tight load in schedule, the lighting, video and trussing was all prepped in the AG shop in Las Vegas and driven out fully assembled on flatbeds and then craned into place.
On the Labyrinth stage, electronic and bass beats emanated across an outdoor oasis and setup that included a series of unique bamboo pillars with the stage’s visual center an LED circle display screen. Colour Chorus 72 fixtures and ELED QW Strips™ were used across the setup to light the scenic, including the bamboo pillars that Lieberman says he took special pains to highlight. Lumina Strips, LED-based batten lights with warm white LEDs, were used for linear looks and allowed the designer to edge trace with incandescent looks across the set up.
Big beam looks came courtesy of Elation’s Platinum BX moving head beam light, whose powerful aerial beams extended the stage’s look out into the night.
Lieberman comments on their role: “Half the reason kids are there is for the light show so we gave them the traditional big looks with the BX fixtures, the EDM experience with power.”
Versatile SixPar 300™ LED PAR lights with 6-color LED multi-chip, including UV, added color to the set while compact Opti Tri Par™ fixtures were used for truss toning. Cuepix Blinder WW2™ fixtures and Elation’s Protron 3K LED Strobe™ gave punches of white light when needed.
At Temple Noctem the high BPMs of hard style EDM featured with the main set visual a front-and-center gas mask in black light paint. Here, Elation’s hybrid Platinum FLX™ provided the moving beam looks with Protron 3K LED Strobes, ELED QW Strips, Cuepix Blinder WW2, SixPar 300s and Colour Chorus 72s also used in the design.
“The design needs to match the style of the music and on this stage the music was sub culture of a sub culture,” Lieberman said of the Temple Noctem environment. “It was the youngest crowd at the festival and the music was intense and fast – 180 beats per minute intense. The lighting was very strobe heavy and we just ran over them with the rig.”
Southern California-based production company Visions Lighting, who has been involved with Nocturnal for over a decade, supplied lighting, video, rigging and staging for the Labyrinth and Temple Noctem stages.
Visions’ Todd Roberts stated, “There was another 60 SixPar 300s doing site lighting and they were a hit for their UV and the client loved them better than the other blacklights. They rented them from every vendor in the LA area and by far the SixPars worked better for blasting the UV artwork.”
Underground house sounds reigned at the picturesque Sunken Garden stage where a large 9-foot mirror ball dominated the look.
“We wanted to create an old nightclub feel, dark and moody, a real underground sub culture feel with no video,” Lieberman explains.
The dark ambience set the mood for the deep techno sounds. The stage was set up under a tent structure with the giant disco ball used to reflect rays of light across the room. Felix Lighting supplied Platinum Beam 5Rs, ACL 360 Bar™ LED battens, ACL 360 Matrix™ LED moving head panels and LED-based Cuepix Panels for a pixel mapped design across the entire space.
The ACL 360 Bars, color changing LED battens with continuous rotation, were mounted up and down on king poles and gave a linear look up the poles or could be turned 90 degrees for a different effect. Cuepix Panels covered the front of the DJ booth across the width of the stage, which together with a back wall moving head pixel display of ACL 360 Matrix™ panels created a flowing 8-bit digital display.