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Lighting USC: The Opening of The Village

In Lighting Design by images310 / March 6, 2018

In planning meetings we always ask – what’s the objective? It’s not often that the answer is “To get people to look up.” Usually when it comes to lighting, people want the tabletops to pop, the stage to be well lighted and sometimes some gorgeous gobos to add texture.

In this meeting, and many more to come, our lighting designer, Curt Stahl, found that the team at the University of Southern California wanted all that AND they wanted people to look up to notice the buildings that would be surrounding them at a courtyard sit-down dinner.

The reason? The buildings are part of The Village, a two-year, $700-million-dollar project that involved students, faculty and donors at the university and the entire city of Los Angeles in the making of it.

“Nothing in the life of the university has been this big,” Adam Rosen told those of us on the planning end of the Gala. Rosen is the Assistant Vice President Cultural Relationships and University Events, and his team began working with a wide web of people both in the city, the university and government, a year and a half out. “The campus was expanding by a third,” he added. “That was monumental and needed to be celebrated in a big way.”

The event was actually the third event in a matter of weeks. While the others were big in numbers – 15,000 and 2,500 — the Gala was big in scope, intent and audience. Among the nearly 1,000 guests would be the mayor of Los Angeles, the city’s most prominent business leaders, philanthropists and elected officials. They would be joining USC President C. L. Max Nikias and colleagues for an event that would make them connect with and remember this milestone moment.

Lighting USC

Lighting USC

Lighting USC


“We were first brought in to produce the ambient lighting for the courtyard dining area,” Stahl recalls. “This entailed a gobo projection over the tables to convey a candlelight hue and the layout of truss and lights so that no light would shine in a guest’s eyes.”

But that, Stahl would learn, was just the beginning to what would become a monumental evening of light and emotion.

The main focus of the show would be to get the guests to see The Village in a way that would make them remember it forever. They would literally see the dream come to life on the walls of the buildings.

When the song, Make Our Garden Grow by Leonard Bernstein was suggested to the planning team by the university president, they knew just how to capitalize on it.

“We loved the song, and wanted to really make that garden grow,” Rosen said. He and Caroline Lett, Senior Event Producer, were very familiar with video mapping and realized that technology like this would be an emotional and artistic way to intertwine the message of heart, soul and progress.

They approached Bart Kresa, from Bart Kresa Design, a creative force in the world of video mapping who began working on the project eight months from the event. Rosen and Lett brought him together with Mike Paterson  and Candice Reckinger from the USC School of Cinematic Arts to work out the visual details.

Meanwhile, our team led by Stahl began laying all the power distribution for the event from the kitchen power to the lighting to the video mapping. And because Kresa needed to map the projection area of the buildings over 10 days and 10 nights, power was needed 24/7 to run his 28 projectors of 31K each and 11 smaller projectors.

Our involvement grew to include architectural lighting designed to seamlessly integrate with the video mapping which began 20 feet off the ground and was focused mainly on the central building. This left the arches and the far left and right facades to be lit in such a way that guests couldn’t tell where mapping began and our lighting left off.

“We went with Images because they had done beautiful work projecting on buildings,” Rosen said. “We wanted someone to integrate the two seamlessly. We were only projecting on a portion of the buildings, the right visual perspective for our guests where they were sitting. We all worked together with Bart, Curt, Mike and Candice so lighting flowed into the projection.”

Lighting USC


The final element that required lighting was a flash mob performance of 110 dancers and singers from the USC School of Dramatic Arts.  One group of performers surprised the group by transforming from waiters into dancers. Moments later another group dressed in aprons from Trader Joe’s (a major tenant) came onto the “stage” from another entrance. And so it continued until the courtyard was filled with a variety of performers, each representing a cultural or academic group from the university or from The Village, who started the evening on an energetic note.

Multiple rehearsals enabled our lighting team to know where each performance would go amid the tables so we could follow them with spotlights. Each time another group of performers entered the scene the lighting focused on them. The key was to perfectly time their entrance with the lighting, “telling” the audience where to look and when. Finally, all performers met on the main stage which we had designed with lighting that would shift throughout the rest of the program for speeches, musical performances and dinner.

“This was a challenge – to create the theatrical look of an outdoor concert,” Stahl says. “To make the stage look larger, we used a concert lighting technique of positioning laser-like lighting features on the stage that shot beams of light over the audience during the flash mob performance. This intentional use of a laser look put the focus on the stage.”

Lighting USC


Later in the program, the audience was focused right where the organizers wanted it – up and on the buildings for a gorgeous performance of video technology that mixed with emotion and music. When the fireworks went off at the crescendo, there was not a dry eye in the seats, or from those standing outside the courtyard. Did we mention the students who watched the event as well?

Student housing is a big component of The Village and many were already living there at the time of the event which meant that communications between the event organizers and the students was huge. That called for blackout curtains during nighttime rehearsals and total communication the day of the show so no one would open a window or wave just at the moment a video poppy was growing up the wall.

And so students were of course not only a large part of the days leading up to the event, but the event itself.  “We invited everyone from the entire Village to watch the show,” Lett says. “We opened up the surrounded hedges and had about a thousand people watching rehearsals and later the night of.”

In the end, the event was not only a watershed moment for USC, and the city of Los Angeles, but an electrical storm shedding light and energy on The Village for years to come. What better way to make a garden grow?


Venue: USC | Producers: USC — Adam Rosen, Caroline Lett | Lighting Design: Images by Lighting | Video mapping and design: Bart Kresa Design | Video Production, equipment, audio equipment, camera truss: Gear Connection | Linen, reception: LUXE Linen | Linen, dinner: BBJ Linen | Rentals, reception: Rrivre Works | Rentals, dinner: Town and Country Event Rentals | Floral: CJ Matsumoto | Catering: Wolfgang Puck Catering


1. USC Photo/Gus Ruelas
2. USC Photo/Gus Ruelas
3. USC Photo/Steve Cohn
4. USC Photo/Nadine Froger
5. USC Photo/Gus Ruelas

A Holiday Party that Bonded with Lighting

In Lighting Design by images310 / February 1, 2018

bonded with lighting

What makes great event design? “If you want drama and wow, it’s lighting every time,” says designer Rose Forbes, owner of Two Tree Events in Los Angeles.

In fact, a holiday event Forbes produced this past season for True[X], a digital ad company, was particularly bonded with lighting. It doesn’t take an international person of mystery to sleuth out that lighting design was a large component of this classic James Bond murder mystery theme!

Playa Studios was a blank canvas for the theme to play out. Gold was the primary color while diamonds were the shape that was repeated throughout. A photo booth area with a Bond shutter effect, a Bond villain and a Bond girl all added to the festivities.

Forbes, who has worked with our lighting designer Nicholas Blasi, many times during her 16 years as a top planner, asked him to create a retro look bathed in gold light. “I don’t try to rein in his creativity,” Forbes said. “The result is always unbelievable.”

With his license to kill it with lighting, Blasi made a statement right from the very beginning. “In the guest entrance, I overlaid the custom TRUE 007 gobo with a sparkling diamond effect,” he explained. “Select walls at the bars and lounges in reception area were also lighted with the same effect which carried the effect throughout. On the floor, we transformed the space with a series of fine line custom hexagon gobo patterns.”

And the perfect accessory for this event – besides a tuxedo and martini – was the addition of one last lighting effect — golden mirrored balls over the dance floor!

bonded with lighting

bonded with lighting

bonded with lighting

bonded with lighting

bonded with lighting

bonded with lighting

Event Producer: Two Tree Events | Lighting: Images by Lighting, Nicholas Blasi | Venue: Playa Studios | Floral: Subrosa Floral Design | Photos: MKP Photography | Rentals: Town and Country Event Rentals | Catering: Brown Paper LA and Sugar Fish Sushi | Bar: Liquid Catering | Bond Wall and AV: Joey with Big Time Operators | Confidential Envelopes and other print work: Woo Paperie and Press | Performers: Brenda Hamilton, Eric Newton and Lexi Pearl

Pure Gold: HBO’s Golden Globes After Party

In Lighting Design by images310 / January 19, 2018

Golden Globes after party

The stars aligned both on the red carpet and for event designer Billy Butchkavitz at this year’s HBO Golden Globes after party at the Beverly Hilton. This was the 75th Anniversary of the awards, a milestone marked by diamonds. Fusing the facets of diamonds with rich golden tones, accented with orchid, was the perfect visual Billy chose on a night all about Hollywood glitz and glam.

Our LD Curt Stahl worked with Billy to shine light on this multi-faceted design. Walls draped in sumptuous gold fabric were bright with uplighting, a textured gobo projected over the entire area added another layer of pure gold to the event, and carefully focused spots on the dining pavilion highlighted an artistic mobile sculpture centerpiece as well as art along the proscenium edge itself. Lending a moving element to the entire design was a wall featuring the video map talents of Bart Kresa. In all, all the elements of the Golden Globes after party added up to a gem of an event!

Designer: Billy Butchkavitz with Brian Butchkavitz | Venue: Beverly Hilton | Lighting: Images by Lighting | Video Mapping: Bart Kresa Design | Rentals: Town and Country Event Rentals | Sub flooring over pool and construction of perimeter walls: Special Events Contractors | Pavilion Tent: SoCal Tents | Photos: Gabor Ekecs

Just like in Hollywood, a great story from beginning to the end!

Golden Globes after party

golden globes after party

Golden Globes 2018

golden globes after party

golden globes after party

golden globes after party

golden globes after party

golden globes after party

golden globes after party

Premiere Lighting: The Shape of Water

In Lighting Design by images310 / January 9, 2018

premiere lighting


On the outside — literally — film premieres are about the red carpet, the flashing lights, the step-and-repeat and the media. Inside the event, however, the story is very different. The design of a premiere is usually an extension of the film’s artistry and how it made the audience feel.

For instance, when Jennifer Wang, founder of JWang Consulting, began to design the look of the Los Angeles premiere for director Guillermo del Toro’s adult fairy-tale, The Shape of Water (which won a Golden Globe for Best Director, Motion Picture, and Best Original Score), she wanted it to be a continuation of the world in which the audience had just stepped out of. “It was important to evoke the feeling of the film,” she said. Immersive experience is the phrase that comes to mind, especially for this story of a watery love affair between an aquatic creature and a lonely mute girl.

While Wang just founded her own event company last year, she has been producing film premieres and corporate events for 18 years and has a well-developed sense of style, objective and sense of how to mix the two. As it was in the film, light and color were important to achieving the look she and her client, Fox Searchlight, sought to best immerse guests in this unique world. Images By Lighting’s lighting designer, Nicholas Blasi, was be instrumental in helping her do this.  Blasi understood the objective immediately. “She was very clear; Jennifer wanted guests to feel immersed inside the world of water.”

premiere lighting

That world began from the very moment guests entered Ocean Prime Beverly Hills, the event space. There, the actual creature’s tank prop from the film was surrounded by watery floor-to-ceiling gobo projections that created a continuous flow of teal blue current. The teal itself was a custom tint that reflected the color palette used in the film and its promotional materials (below). After some trial and error, Blasi found just the right combination to recreate it, and then added purple uplighting on architectural elements to warm up the feeling of the space.

shape of water lighting

The restaurant provided the client enough room for the 500-plus guests, and the several wide open spaces that could work as a canvas for the lighting. However, what it didn’t provide was easy access for the use of a generator. Any possibilities they kicked around always ended up meaning that cables would have to be visible through the space and that would deter from the watery look.

premiere lighting

Instead, Blasi brought in all LED and ran it on house power. “We brought in tons of glass gobos and rotators to create the movement. There were about 30 throughout the space, and another 80 uplights and pinspots. Everything was battery-powered,” Blasi said, adding that while this approach was needed in this case, green solutions like this are the future of lighting.

No river runs smoothly and a test run revealed a possible dam. “The main bar back is amber glass which did not tie in with the look of the party,” Wang explained. “Originally we were going to cover it in Plexiglas and backlight it in blue. But as we were testing the lighting, the moving lights on the wooden walls around it looked perfect. So instead of bringing in Plexi, I worked with AAA Flag and Banner to create a vinyl decal that recreated the look of the wood panels and would replace the amber glass for the night. It looked so good, the head corporate person from the restaurant jokingly commented why they didn’t print wood decals instead of buying real wood all the time?”

New ways of seeing, changes in preconceived notions … these were not only the result of vinyl decals but also the film’s underlying message. Like water and love, design and lighting are also essential elements with no formal shape until talented event professionals use them to construct the “shape” —  a beautiful event space such as this — with them.

The Team

Planner: JWang Consulting | Lighting: Images by Lighting | Venue: Ocean Prime Beverly Hills | Floral Design: Empty Vase | Furniture: Blueprint Studios| Rentals/Water Walls: Town and Country Event Rentals | Specialty Chargers: BBJ Linen | Linens and Pillows: La Tavola | Vinyl Bar and Water Wall Decals: AAA Flag and Banner | Audio: CBC Technical | DJ: Raul Campos | Photos: Line 8

Fully charged! Fun fact … The charger plates from BBJ Linen (which rents more than linen) appeared to be specially designed for del Toro’s creature and Wang’s design.

Left: “Luxe,” a turquoise blue charger | Right: Sea Sponge Blue charger

Star Light at AMFAR

In Lighting Design by images310 / November 1, 2017

star light at amfar

The star light at amFAR this year was shining strong thanks to honoree Julia Roberts. More than $2 million for HIV cure research was raised at the eighth annual amfAR Gala in Los Angeles this month. amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, is one of the world’s leading nonprofit organizations dedicated to the support of AIDS research, HIV prevention, treatment education, and advocacy. 

The star-studded event, held in a tent on the upper lawn of Green Acres Estate (also known as the Harold Lloyd Estate), was hosted by James Corden. Tom Hanks and many other past amfAR honorees were in attendance to help honor Roberts for her contributions to the fight against AIDS and countless other humanitarian causes. Our team, led by lighting designer Nicolas Blasi, provided a soft texture of light over the dining tables as well as lighting for the stage which included performances by Corden, Fergie and Chris Martin of Coldplay.  The stage backdrop was a hedge wall which we accented with uplighting. We also provided all of the portable power and distribution for all vendors.

It’s such an honor for us to be part of events as this and organizations such as amFAR doing good in the world! We thank producer DreamVisible for including us in this team with No Static AV and tent and rentals from Town and Country Event Rentals.

star light at amfar

star light at amfar

star light at amfar

Top three images courtesy of DreamVisible
Last three: Getty Images from AMFAR Facebook page

Lighting EMA: The Environmental Media Awards

In Lighting Design by images310 / October 29, 2017

Lighting EMA

This year the star-studded Environmental Media Association Awards were held at The Barker Hangar and produced by RG Live Events. The massive space was divided in two (really three if you count the “green carpet” arrivals). In the first half, guests interacted with sponsors such as Lexus and Clover in a farmer’s market style showcase. Our lighting designer Lonnie Thompson Thompson oversaw the installation of 400 feet of truss and used LEDs as much as possible for the eco-friendly event.

The second half of the evening was a transformation using lighting. It was a look that not many of the guests had experienced in the space. The Barker Hangar is a popular, and large, venue. (See the before and after photos below.) By redesigning the space with lighting, many challenges were resolved of the space and we were able to focus attention on what mattered.

The immersive design worked at many levels. At eye level, specialty lighted tables from Town and Country Event Rentals created total color and light drama. Above the guests, our team painted the hangar’s ceiling in vibrant colors of light. On stage, SenovvA AV produced the lighting and the multi-media presentation and lighting for celebrities such as host Jaden Smith (who dyed his hair green in solidarity with EMA whose hashtag is #green4ema).

lighting EMAlighting EMA

lighting EMA

lighting EMA

lighting EMA

lighting ema

Lighting EMA


The Team
Producer: RG Live Events | Design and rentals: Town and Country Event Rentals, Lux Lounge EFR | AV: SenovvA | Catering: Akasha Restaurant, Bar & Cafe | Photos: Scott Clark Photo

Lighting the Spielberg Premiere

In Lighting Design by images310 / October 3, 2017

spielberg premiere

In Hollywood, life often imitates art. And so it was that HBO’s documentary on the legendary film director, Steven Spielberg, found Spielberg himself on the other side of the camera as the subject of Susan Lacy’s film. At the opening premiere held at Paramount Studios, the director was the star of the night at an event designed by Billy Butchkavitz.

The studio lot was a study in blue for the evening. Swirling projections of light added drama to the blue entrance carpet, and the studio facades. A blue carpeted step and repeat was lighted for the media, and we added table pinspots and highlights on the main decor elements, one of them a larger-than-life vintage film camera and others still shots from his many films.

Photos: Gabor Ekecs

Spielberg premiere

Spielberg premiere

Lighting Behind the Scenes: LA Phil Gala

In Lighting Design by images310 / September 29, 2017

lighting behind the scenes

A gorgeous night in Los Angeles with an event designed to get people to look up, look down, look all around! The annual LA Philharmonic Gala is held at the Walt Disney Concert Hall with cocktails inside and dinner in a tented space off the world-class venue. This year, neon lighting sculptures from Nights of Neon were used in conjunction with traditional lighting from our lighting team. Led by our lighting designer  Lonnie Thompson, the look featured lighting textures layered over the space —  on the floors, tables and perimeter.

The entire look was about  seeing what is there, and what isn’t there. A tent that wasn’t there so the skyline of Los Angeles came into view, chairs that one could see through and neon sculpture inspired by the sound of music. Speaking of vision, it’s 20-20 in hindsight so let’s go back and show you how we got here!

lighting behind the scenesLoad in begins.

lighting behind the scenesSub flooring is in, tent structure is up. Blue tarp over the entire tent top kept the space from getting too hot.

lighting behind the scenes

lighting behind the scenesCentral truss, covered for design appeal, goes in.

lighting behind the scenesNights of Neon installing the main light art sculpture.

All elements inside and ready be placed. Once they are, our crew is up again on ladders to focus the pinspots.

Finishing touches outside the tent space.

lighting behind the scenes

The final product!

Lighting HBO Emmy After-Party 2017

In Lighting Design by images310 / September 26, 2017

lighting HBO Emmy

This year’s star-studded HBO Emmy Awards after party and its inspired design proves that event designers and their work improve over time. Clearly, there is no slowing down for designer Billy Butchkavitz who along with his HBO collaborator Cindy Tenner, HBO’s vice president of special events, and a loyal team of creative partners, have designed the event for the past 19 consecutive years. While the first event were held at various venues, for the past 15 of those years the event has been held in a custom tent installed over the fountains at the Pacific Design Center.

Once again, Butchkavitz challenged himself and his team with another unique and exciting theme; this time inspired by the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, England. The palace, a seaside “resort” built for King George IV, was started in 1787 and was added onto through 1822, is an exotic addition to the English seaside town. Its interior is an homage to chinoiserie – a blend of Asian and Europe decorative arts – while its exterior is a beautiful collage of domes and minarets. It’s effect on Butchkavitz has been great.

“I’ve been going to the Royal Pavilion in Brighton for almost 30 years,” Butchkavitz said. “I’ve been waiting for the right time to do an event based on the interior design of this magnificent palace.” This was his moment to do so.

In true Butchkavitz style, a multitude of custom textiles, furniture, tabletop decor, and carpeting were artfully combined to match the pavilion’s chinoiserie interiors. A series of 12-foot Chinese guardian lions stood in the main dining pavilion, and a 30-foot tiered pagoda surrounded by giant jade trees served as the entertainment hub. In front of the pagoda, guests could cross a garden pond over a 16-foot-long chinoiserie bridges.

But it was when guests looked up that they glimpsed the true magnificence of the palace and its design style. Butchkavitz had created a 20-foot-long replica of a show-stopping dragon chandelier that hangs in the Royal Pavilion’s banquet room.

Just as the Royal Pavilion was produced by a longtime team, Butchkavitz called upon his team of creative partners, many of whom have been working with him on all 19 years of HBO Emmy parties. Agile Eye Solutions constructed the large-scale decor pieces, pagoda, custom tent skin embellishments, and the step-and-repeat. Our lighting designer Curt Stahl provided dramatic lighting while Bart Kresa Design projected artistic designs. Special Event Contractors installed the elevated subfloors, perimeter walls, elevated walkways, and decorative railings. And Town & County Event Rentals provided the custom tent, carpeting and rentals.

The history of the actual Royal Pavilion over the years includes parties, hospitals and flower shows, contains influences from China, India and France, and includes characters as diverse as fishermen, monarchs and soldiers. Given this, and its intricate design, Butchkavitz could not have chosen a more perfect theme for an HBO event — a media outlet that brings us stories from many exotic locales, and celebrates characters from humble to holy!

We’re honored to be part of this team, lighting HBO Emmy events for the past 19 years alongside Billy and his longtime team of creative partners:
Town and Country Event RentalsBart Kresa Design | Agile Eye SolutionsSpecial Event Contractors | Wolfgang Puck Catering | Brian and Peggy Butchkavitz

Photos: Gabor Ekecs

Ligting emmy awards

lighting HBO Emmy

lighting HBO emmy

lighting emmy awards

lighting emmy award

lighting emmy award

lighting emmy award

lighting emmy award

Awards Lighting: Golden Grandeur at the Emmys

In Lighting Design by images310 / September 20, 2017

awards lighting

The theme of this year’s Governor Ball following the 69th Annual Emmy Awards was Golden Grandeur yet not all that glittered was gold. That’s because the event, which at 4,000 guest is one of the largest formal seated dinners in North America, and its producer for the past 20 years, Sequoia Productions, was committed to making as many of the evening’s elements sustainable and reusable. For instance, all food and debris was composted afterward, carpet was donated to Habitat for Humanity, rentals were reused, and all lights and fixtures were energy-efficient. It was awards lighting for the next generation.

Inspired by the Emmy gold, the most dramatic element of the monochromatic design was sustainable as well. Five thousand tubes designed by Irma Hardjakusumah ranged from two to 20 feet in length. They were painstakingly installed vertically by Bill Ferrell Co. to create a sweeping wave effect in the ceiling of the Los Angeles Convention Center. But instead of made from metal or plastic, they were cylinders of paper painted in a biodegradable gold coloring.

Our senior lighting designer Ray Thompson created a play of lighting that would add movement across the tubes, at times totally change their color to go with the mood and the music, and create emotional crescendos when the evening called for them. See video at the end of this post.

We were proud to be part of this golden moment in awards lighting once again!

Photos: Nadine Froger