Philadelphia’s HiJinx Festival transformed the Pennsylvania Convention Center into a massive two-night EDM New Year’s Eve party, bringing a stellar lineup of bass heavy DJs who played out amid mind-bending lighting that was designed to uplift and thrill. Creative production company Raw Cereal, known for pushing the boundaries of light-art shows, created a huge range of powerful effects using Vari-Lite VL3600 fixtures from Signify (Euronext: LIGHT), the world leader in lighting.
Raw Cereal’s Cort Lawrence joined HiJinx as production designer and creative director for the inaugural Philadelphia incarnation of the festival in 2018 and has been raising the bar ever since. Working with Live Nation Philadelphia, which runs HiJinx, Lawrence created a design that integrated multiple artists’ production riders, resulting in a curated lighting environment that made each performer shine and ensured upbeat consistency throughout.
“We supplied a design that pushed forward current design trends and technology, creating the right balance between lighting, lasers, and video, for a well-rounded show,” says Lawrence. “EDM fans are well educated when it comes to production, so we do our best to wow and dazzle them with lights and give them a fresh show every year.”
The Raw Cereal team learned about the VL3600 following a demo by Tyler Gannaway, Vari-Lite Business Development Manager Central and Eastern Rental & Touring at Signify, and went on to work with Nashville’s Premier Global Productions to invest in them for the HiJinx Festival.
“We were stunned by the level of quality and power that the VL3600 offered and knew it would be perfect for EDM,” Lawrence continues. “The VL3600 has an undeniable beauty to it, with its impressive color and new-age gobos.”
Raw Cereal’s Austin Schneider, who served as the festival’s lighting programmer and operator, continues: “We were very impressed with the VL3600’s FX animation wheel. We saw it used in some creative ways to add texture to the space and for its unique aerial look. When you layer the FX wheel and the great gobo set, it really enables some creative looks.”
The team rigged 26 VL3600s in the cavernous Pennsylvania Convention Center space for the HiJinx Festival – 20 VL3600 fixtures were placed over the audience in two 50’ long trusses, with a further five used as a hybrid fixture for LDs to use as keylight or point them into the audience for effects, utilizing framing shutters to achieve a clean focus, to create a club-like feel.
“We allocated one further VL3600 for the DJ ‘God light’, which allowed us and guest LDs to really carve the DJ out of the video,” says Schneider. “I think this created some really great moments. We really enjoyed the feature set that the VL3600 brings. The combination of the gobos, prisms and FX system really allows you to create some unique aerial and architectural effects for the space.”
“Color is such an essential part of any visual environment,” says HiJinx Festival lighting designer Jacob VanVlymen. “We were impressed with how well the Vari-Lite kept true to its profound and original coloring scheme in such a bright, multi-functional luminaire, with an amazing amount of features. In fact, these fixtures allowed us to paint the audience with vibrant colors and extended the overall vibe of the stage into the audience!”
HiJinx offered some of the world’s biggest EDM names, including British DJ and producer JOYRYDE, Belgian bass duo Ganja White Night, and Australian DJ and producer, Flume.
Being a multi-act event, some performers drafted in their own lighting designers, but the VL3600s were the workhorse fixtures for the entire festival.
“Guest LDs were quick to clone the VL3600s and learn about their capabilities from house LD Austin Schneider,” says Lawrence. “Every LD had different uses of the lights, which allowed an evolving show as we would continue to see new looks arise from the VL3600s with each operator. We can’t wait to use them again.”
Raw Cereal’s Austin Strain worked alongside the team as assistant lighting programmer and operator.
Photo: © Raw Cereal