Competitive indoor percussion troupes often rely on lavish scenic elements to help advance the narrative of a performance. Even by the standards of its peers, however, the highly-acclaimed STRYKE Percussion ensemble has often taken things a step further. In 2018, for example, the smart-looking ensemble used an actual airplane in its show, its members weaving their way around wings and fuselage as they executed their precise beats.
Unfortunately, as a result of protocols that restricted crew sizes in the wake of COVID, it became impossible for STRYKE Percussion to incorporate any props into the group’s latest show, “When No One Is In The Room,” an apt title, given that they had to perform in an empty gymnasium as a safety precaution.
Nevertheless, the group was still able to deliver a beautifully textured performance rich in narrative quality thanks in large measure to a Clifford Michael Spulock lighting design that featured a collection of CHAUVET Professional Maverick, Rogue and COLORado fixtures.
“These indoor percussion shows usually don’t go hand-in-hand with lighting, as they have big sets and other objects to tell their stories,” said Spulock. “Since that wasn’t possible in this case, they turned to lighting. I really drew on my background in theatre to advance the narrative in light.”
Just as he’s often done in theatre, Spulock used shadows and dark space as a storytelling device in the group’s video, turning the vast empty gymnasium into an advantage. He deliberately lit up the room’s empty bleachers to create a haunting aura around the percussive performance. During some solo performances, the film crew did 360-shots around the individual percussionist to accentuate this feeling.
“Matt Kuhlman and Judd Wood did a fantastic job capturing these nuances when editing and recording the video,” said Spulock. “We also got brilliant design input from Cisco Hance, Scott Hughes, and DC Gutierrez. Together, we successfully conveyed a wide spectrum of emotions in this video.”
Reflecting many of those passionate moments was the appearance of light that blew away the darkness. Sometimes, light burst on the scene in an intense flash. At other times, its entrance was softer and gentler.
An example of the latter occurred when the first snare was featured. At that point, all the performers filed down the center of the screen, building off one another’s momentum. As they did, Spulock had light from his rig’s Rogue R2 Wash fixtures envelop them in warm light, while cooler whites hit them from the sides.
“We had seven of the R2 Washes in the rig,” he said. “There were five behind the band that we used for backing lighting and areal effects and two behind the pit in from for front lighting and specials.”
With no rigging available, all of the lights in Spulock’s rig were arranged on the floor. The “most crucial” of these were the 10 COLORado Batten 144 Tour fixtures, which he placed evenly on either side of the performance area. His rig also had two Rogue R1X Spot fixtures behind the band, and two Maverick MK2 Spot units relied on for gobo and aerial effects.
Together, these fixtures helped Spulock weave a story in support of STRYKE Percussion’s performance for “When No One Is In The Room.” Although, as the title suggests, the room was empty of spectators, it was filled with creativity and inspiration – and that’s a good drum beat to follow when marching to a brighter post-COVID future.