Archive for the Cool Lighting Category

One Word, Benjamin: Lasers!

Posted in Cool Lighting, Disco Nights! on March 4, 2010 by djscottshirley

I’ve always had a fascination with lasers.

Lasers have given me perfect eyesight without glasses. Lasers have put digital Compact Disc technology in our homes and cars. Lasers have made our TV screens amazingly sharp and clear.

But I love lasers because they make an awesome light show!

The Party Machine was experimenting with lasers for event lighting as early as 1978. But early lasers were not safe enough, nor visually impressive, until robotic mirrors and computer control made them the showpieces that they are now.

Lasers can not only make a wild, kinetic light show like the one above, they can also project a romantic field of stars on the ceiling. We recently used this effect for a church Valentine’s Day dance for their “55 and Better” group, and they loved dancing beneath the stars!

Laser Starfield projection on the ceiling is beautiful, romantic, and very easy to do. This unit also projects clouds!

Laser Effect lighting is not for every event, but if you want your Prom, Disco theme party, or fund-raiser to make your guests gasp in awe, there is no better way than a laser show.

Lasers ROCK!

Call me at 817-294-9539 to discuss how Party Machine Lasers can rock your next event!

Lasers In My Luggage

Posted in Cool Lighting, DJ Stuff on February 15, 2010 by djscottshirley

One of the highlights of the Mobile Beat Las Vegas conference for mobile DJs is the exhibits of gear and equipment. New products are introduced, some prototypes are on display, and prices are discounted.

I already had a cool laser starfield projector, but wanted another one, and the price was too tempting to pass up. Here is what it looks like projected on the ceiling of a basketball gym:

Dancing beneath the stars, one of my favorite romantic effects.

I got an even better deal on the unit that was on the display.

As I boarded the plane to return home, I got a text message from “Video Keith” Mathis, asking if I got any new toys at the DJ convention. I answered, “Yes, I got a laser in my suitcase…that I just checked…”

Then it occurred to me that the nice people with Homeland Security may not understand why I have a laser in my luggage.

When I got home and opened my suitcase, it had the following notice from TSA:

A Laser in your luggage WILL get an inspection!

They must have been satisfied that it was not a weapon, and it worked perfectly at my gig the next night.

Disco Is Not Dead, It’s Middle Age Crazy!

Posted in Cool Lighting, Disco Nights!, DJ Stuff with tags , , , , , , , , on February 8, 2010 by djscottshirley

I was thrilled when my old DJ buddy Craige Bandy called and asked me to make his 50th birthday celebration into a full-blown Disco Party.

Is Disco Fever having a midlife crisis?

Blog readers may remember Craige as a former Party Machine DJ, who won an Emmy® Engineering Award last year for inventing a specialized camera device. Read about that here.

Craige and I met over 30 years ago in college, we both had fledgling mobile DJ businesses, and we both worked as night club DJs in some of the hottest clubs in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. When The Party Machine grew into a multi-system operation in 1979-80, Craige became our top guy.

The Disco craze was in full swing in our night club years. We lived it, and we know it well. So when Craige said he wanted a “70s Trash Disco” themed party when he turned 50, both of us clearly understood what that meant.

LOUD, with bass notes that you can feel. Sub-woofers that shake your bell-bottoms. Flashy. An amazing display of lighting would be required, with clouds of low-lying fog, and “Saturday Night Fever” showing on two big Plasma TVs. High-tech, but with a BIG mirror ball in the center of the room. And lots of sweaty people dressed in shiny polyester constantly dancing, with bad hair and bling.

And: Vinyl. That’s right, old-fashioned vinyl records, beat-mixed on turntables the Old Skool way.

The vinyl part was easy – I still have every record I ever owned, including all the Disco hits I played in clubs in the 70s and 80s, lovingly filed away in the Party Machine archives.

Even better, when one of the clubs where Craige and I both used to spin was turned into a Mexican restaurant, I ended up with the DJ Booth console, and it has lived in my attic for years. Getting it down, cleaning it, and installing first-class pro audio gear was not easy, but we had a Mission! Spinning for Craige’s birthday, with the same DJ Booth we used 30 years ago…well, it had to be done.

That's right, turntables and vinyl records!

TECHNO-BABBLE ALERT: For you DJs, audiophiles, and techno-geeks, we used original Technics SL-1200 Mk II turntables with a matched pair of Shure M44 cartridges and a Rane mixer, a DBX Driverack, QSC amplifiers and JBL MRX-Series main speakers and sub-woofers. Total system was 4,900 watts, but it was quite adequate for a crowd of 70 people, and crystal clear. In deference to modern technology, I did install a Denon HD-2500 controller in the booth – but we didn’t use it! And we had an Apple computer, with all music backed up on remote hard drives, and even on the iPhone. I confess to playing a couple of tunes on the laptop, but mostly I used it to search the BPM count on some of the records I had not played for 30 years!

Craige’s lovely wife Stasia put together a grand event, including planning the music playlists, which she does better than most of the top DJs I know. She knows her music!

The invitations emphasized that guests should dress “70s Trash Disco,” and the phones started ringing with costume buzz. Invitees received a small brown cardboard box in the mail, with funky disco lyrics scrawled on the sides, and inside was a written invitation, a party noisemaker horn, shiny confetti and a pair of miniature mirror balls, suitable for…wearing as bling! It was clear this was not intended as just another party, but to be a milestone in the lives of all in attendance.

And we planned a bit of showbiz razzle-dazzle, with “red carpet” photos of the costumed guests in the lobby (with a mirror ball, a glittery backdrop, and colored Disco lighting), and a cocktail hour in the bar of the Cowboys Golf Club. Guests would not enter the Disco Room until the “Reveal” moment. We had a separate wireless sound system with speakers in the bar and lobby areas, playing Stasia’s special cocktail hour mix.

The wall separating the bar and the ballroom had multiple doors in the center with smoked glass, so guests in the bar would see occasional flashes of moving light, enough to know there was a party next door.

The doors opened to the instrumental beginning of Heatwave’s “Groove Line,” and the polyester-clad guests poured in. When the bass riff kicked in, Craige and Stasia glided to the dance floor (as much as you can glide in platform shoes), and the crowd followed in a cloud of color-changing fog. Those who could not cram onto the packed dance floor were all dancing where they stood.

It was, in a word, perfect.

The energy level was at fever pitch all night, and we played an extra hour of disco hits before the staff said we had to shut down. So much great old music, so little time!

I forgot how much fun that was. I am ready to do it again, in about three weeks. Long live disco!

And Happy Birthday Craige. Let’s make this an annual event, if it can wait that long!

Let Your True Colors Show!

Posted in Cool Lighting, DJ Stuff with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 13, 2010 by djscottshirley

Some of my favorite modern technology has to be LED lighting, which makes it easy to make lights shine in any color you wish. It is simple to totally transform the look of any room, or even outdoor spaces.

We can “Light The Night” in your favorite color, your school colors, or your wedding colors.

So it was no problem at all when Tara Eckelkamp handed me a ribbon, and asked me to light her ballroom the same color as the ribbon at her wedding to Jeff Hackney.

The ribbon could best be described as a reddish maroon color, rather like a red wine, only a bit redder. (I have always believed that naming paint colors would be the ultimate lazy man’s job.)

The individual LEDs in modern stage lights are red, blue or green, and they combine, exactly the way your color TV screen does, to render any of 16 million different colors.

The intensity of RBG can be adjusted to blend colors, using either a simple fader control, or with sophisticated computer software. Tara’s mother, Sherry dashed into the ballroom to approve the color match. With a single click, it was perfect – just like the ribbon!

Tara Hackney dances with dad Hugo Eckelkamp with the room bathed in lights in her Bridal Color. NOTE: Camera flash makes the colors appear lighter.

The “old school” method was to place a colored gel on a light. But stage lights get hot, and gels can burn and colors fade, not to mention that the gel must be changed to alter the light’s color. And to have lots of colors available meant maintaining a huge inventory of gels.

Plus the old incandescent lights got hot enough to cook on, and consumed lots of power. A separate electrical circuit was required for every 3 or 4 stage lights. This meant extra power supplies (and extra charges) at many venues, while making such lighting impractical or even impossible at others.

A modern LED Par light can generate the same output on 15 watts that required 400 watts on the old school lights. This eliminates complexity, cost, and saves electricity. We even have portable Party Machine power supplies and control receivers, making them wireless!

But it also opens the door to a whole new realm of creativity in decorating with light…and at a lower cost. Because they don’t get hot, they can even be used on ice sculpture!

The possibilities are exciting.

I have seen the light!

Give me a call at 817-294-9539 to discuss decorating with light.