Elite Multimedia shows “What Makes You Country” on the Luke Bryan tour

As the quintessential country music superstar, Luke Bryan has created 20 No. 1 singles, sold over 12 million albums, and is one of the most popular touring artists today. Routinely playing to sold-out houses around the world, the artist and his design team at Align Design Group are often challenged to give each tour its own unique look and feel. In planning for the 2018 “What Makes You Country Tour”, lead designer Justin Kitchenman wanted to create a more free-flowing visual experience, so he called the Nashville-based production provider Elite Multimedia Productions who supplied the lighting, LED video and IMAG video technology behind the design.

“During our tour design discussions, we are always cognizant of what we have done in the past and we really try to give each tour a different visual representation,” began Kitchenman. “Over the past few years, one of our biggest production elements has been moving LED video in one configuration or another, so this year we decided to look at different kinds of automation. In the end, we decided on small, lightweight automated lighting pods that can travel up and down during the show to create a lot of different configurations and effects.”

With the idea for the lighting and effects automation firmly in hand, Kitchenman brought the concept to the team at Elite Multimedia Productions. Through their design relationship that has lasted many years, the idea soon began to become a reality.

Kitchenman continued, “When we started tossing around this idea with Elite Multimedia early on, they did a mock-up of what it could look like in their Nashville shop. Each pod is basically a single piece of truss with Elation 360i, Chauvet Epix Strip Tour, and a 5-watt audience scanning laser as well. We still have a large LED video wall in the design, but this set-up would allow us to have more free-flowing automated lighting and effects capabilities. We knew this would give us the design we wanted, and it’s something that we are all very happy with the outcome.”

Knowing now how to bring the new automation into the tour design, they needed to finalize the rigging elements that would go out on the road. Once again bringing in the engineering and design specialists at SGPS, Kitchenman and Elite Multimedia made a site visit to the Las Vegas headquarters for ShowRig which led to the tour rigging solution.

“All of our rigging is handled through SGPS ShowRig, so Tom Wilson and Jason “Cannonball” Jenkins from Elite Multimedia went with me to visit them during LDI last year,” explained Kitchenman. “Together we all took a tour of their warehouse to look at the potential rigging elements that could create our automated pod design, and their mini-winch system really stood out to us. With the lightweight truss pieces, and the high-speed mini-winch system, the two married perfectly. We then brought in our tour rigger John Kehoe and our lighting crew chief Chris Hummel who were able to oversee the rigging logistics for the tour.”
Ready to begin populating the refreshed lighting design with the fixtures that would allow the new design to make the largest impact, Kitchenman had a clear idea of the technology needed for the design. Wanting to create a wide array of looks and effects, he relied upon the performance characteristics of two particular lighting solutions.

“In the lighting package we use a lot of the Elation 360i luminaires because it’s a low-profile, light weight, high-output lighting tool that we can place 180 in the rig and they look great in large quantities,” admitted Kitchenman. “With the Clay Paky Scenius Unico fixtures, we had used 24 of them last year to replace our spot fixtures, but once we started seeing their output and their optics on tour, we realized this was a true hybrid fixture that we could hang our hat on. We determined that instead of having groups of wash lights and groups of beam lights, we would just populate the rig with a single hybrid fixture. By using this lighting rig, we can pretty much give every song its own look, and it gives our tool box a new level of creativity.”

With the technology solutions beginning to take their place, the collaborative design process drew to a close. Ready to now see the reactions to the new production design, Kitchenman was confident they had created a unique tour experience for not only the fans at the show, but for the artist as well.

“Tom and Cannonball at Elite Multimedia really are our design partners in this whole thing,” added Kitchenman. “Every year they work very closely with us to show us the latest technology and it’s a constant dialogue throughout the year of how we can improve both the fan and the artist experience. As the design for each tour gets rolling, we are then able to look at the different concepts and ideas we’ve discussed, and it’s an invaluable relationship. Elite Multimedia is an essential part of the design process and we rely on both their technology resources and their creativity.”

Now out on the road with a complete lighting, LED video and IMAG video production design, which includes a full 7-camera package as well, from Elite Multimedia, the highly-anticipated 2018 tour is an undeniable success. Led by the onstage presence of one of country music’s most charismatic performers who has more certified digital singles than any other country artist, the team behind the scenes is eager to showcase the completely revamped production design.

“We always try to grow the show as much as we can,” concluded Kitchenman. “As a performer Luke will always pull off a great show, but what we try to do is present it visually in a new way using different production elements. It’s a tricky thing to do as we go back to a lot of the same markets every year, so we as designers totally feel the pressure to present a great show. We want the production to be innovative with new toys and tricks, and we feel this year we’ve succeeded in our goal to give the show a fresh start.”

Elite Multimedia Productions is a privately-owned, leading supplier of the most up-to-date audio, video and lighting technologies. With a combined 85 years of industry experience, our team of dedicated professionals knows how to pair the right technology with your vision whether partnering with you in a rental, systems installation, or sales relationship. With an unconditional desire to make your production or project a complete success, our passion and knowledge to innovate knows no bounds. For more information on how Elite Multimedia is the right partner for you, visit www.elitemultimedia.com, follow us on Twitter at @EliteMultimedia or find us on Facebook or Instagram.