RENO, NV – An impressive yacht with wheels that help it sail through the sand sits glimmering in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. Not far away, half-buried on the quiet playa, is a massive 747 jet made of foam, lights twinkling in its fuselage. Sights like these make the annual Burning Man Festival the closest thing on earth to living out the fantasy of Lewis Carroll’s classic “Through The Looking Glass.”
Every year, some 70,000 visitors, including visionaries like Tesla’s Elon Musk, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, journey to this site in the middle of nowhere (actually about 120 miles north of Reno) to experience the mind-bending visuals and sounds that this festival has to offer, hoping to inspire their imaginations in the process. A highlight of this year’s festival, which ended in September, was the Nightchaser Stage. In keeping with the expansive philosophy of Burning Man, it was radiantly covered in multi-colored light, courtesy of a Bryce Cherpelis-designed show that was controlled with the ChamSys MagicQ MQ40.
“My ChamSys desk and I both stood up to some harsh elements here in the middle of the desert, but it was well worth it,” said Cherpelis, who used four universes in his show. “I loved the looks we were able to create. We played with a lot of different colors and intensity levels to set a very free flowing feeling for the performances. The FX generator in my MQ40 was essential in this regard. Between intensity FX, Position FX and color FX, it was always there for me. Whenever I wanted to push the boundaries of the show, my console was ready for more.”
Not surprisingly, busking was the order of the day for Cherpelis’ Burning Man show. “There was a lot of punting,” he said. “My first page was all intensity and movement. Then, my other five pages were all FX Cue Stacks, so I could select any effect that felt right.”
With 10 faders (with 6-8 cues per fader), Cherpelis kept his show constantly going in new directions. “Everything is right there in front of me on the screen, so I don’t have to spend time doing a lot of scrolling, which was hugely important in a show like this,” he said. “It also made my life easier that I could place multiple FX cues in a cue stack on a fader. I had the option of stepping away for a few seconds when my console was running a chase to refocus my creative energy.”
With his stage set in a large multi-dimensional tent, Cherpelis had ample opportunities to create colorful visual displays. He was aided in this effort by his full color lasers, four Rogue R1 Wash RGBW moving heads from CHAUVET Professional, seven COLORband PiX IP RGB linear fixtures from CHAUVET DJ and a collection of SlimPAR Pro color rendering par units.
“You can’t come to a festival like this and not indulge your wildest color fantasies,” he said. “The white tent with all of its irregular surfaces provided us with an ideal canvas for our colorized visuals, and we used it to full advantage.”
Like his ChamSys console, the lights used in Cherpelis’ design stood up to the harsh elements out in the Nevada high desert. “We had a paintbrush in our kit to remove the dust from our rig, but it all worked fine,” he said. “The weather was intense, but everything about Burning Man was intense. I’m glad our show lived up to its surroundings.”