The colorful floats were there, 26 of them in all; so too were the giant helium balloons, bands and street performers, but the 2020 version of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was unlike any of its 96 predators. The usual throngs of fans were nowhere to be seen, and instead of following its normal route down 5th Avenue, the entire “parade” took place within a designated area in front of Macy’s flagship store.
Still, for the 20.7 million who watched on TV, this year’s parade offered all of the pageantry, excitement and holiday spirit that people have come to expect from this beloved tradition, pandemic restrictions notwithstanding.
Helping to create this image on television was a Geoff Amoral lighting design that artfully relied on lighting and props to support the parade with an engaging background, despite the absence of fans. “The normal look for the parade is a sidewalk full of people in bleachers,” said Amoral. “Without them the scene behind the floats would look empty. Our scenic designer, Ed Helbig, thought it would pull the scene together to fill the background with attractive visuals — and our producers Brad Lachman, Bill Bracken and Carmela Tripodi agreed.”
A key element of these critical visuals, in addition to tree and foliage props, were 40 CHAUVET Professional Maverick Storm 1 Wash fixtures supplied by 4Wall Entertainment.
Arranging the high-output RGBW washes in two rows behind the parade staging area, Amoral and his programmer Tim Stasse used them for much more than filling space with light. They also relied on the Maverick Storm 1 Wash to accent the parade itself as it passed in front of the TV cameras. This was critically important to creating visual variety, especially given the absence of live fans in the background.
“The Mavericks were very effective in adding extra dimensions to the balloons, floats, and other parade elements,” said Amoral. “Since the parade took place in a single area, we wanted to create a sense of motion. We achieved most of our looks by creating color combinations and then busking different effects like pan, tilt, and strobe. Lighting went beyond the backdrop to become part of the experience.”
This being 2020, it wasn’t surprising that it wound up raining on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. “When we saw it was very rainy the morning of the parade, we were very glad we took the advice of Drew DeCorleto from 4Wall and went with the Mavericks,” said Amoral, noting that the Storm 1 Wash fixtures are IP65 rated.
For his part DeCorleto and the 4Wall Entertainment team were happy to work with Amoral. “Our team always look forward to collaborating with Geoff Amoral,” said DeCorleto. “Geoff is a pleasure to work with and has a great eye for using lighting to make scenes come to life on camera.”
In keeping with the upbeat spirit of the Macy Thanksgiving Day Parade, Amoral turned the early morning rain into an advantage. Directing light off the wet pavement, he added an extra dimension to the panorama that played well on camera. The light glittering off the street also endowed the parade with a magical touch, reminding TV viewers that even during this time of a pandemic, the holiday spirit is alive, well, and ready to take them to new places.