The Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular

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The Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular

The Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular is a Boston tradition that spans over 40 years. Lighting Designer Mike Berger, of Full Flood Inc., was responsible for lighting this year's 4th of July celebration using gear from 4Wall New York.

Hundreds of thousands gathered at the historic DCR Hatch Shell to celebrate America's independence while fireworks exploded in the air during a performance by Demi Lovato, Nick Jonas, and the Boston Pops Orchestra. This year's event was also broadcast live on CBS for millions across the country to enjoy.

This was Berger's first time lighting this event. The unique bowl-style stage did propose some challenges for the LD's design. "The hatch is a historic Boston landmark and as such has certain restrictions both in what we are allowed to do and also what can physically be done," explained Berger. Lighting Project Manager David Gruber and his team at Capron assisted the Full Flood team and guided them though this unique project. "They have a great history with the event and his knowledge of the show and the space were invaluable," said Berger.

Weight and power were one of Berger's main concerns. Gaffer Eric Norris played a vital role in dealing with these unique situations and had a keen eye for the final product. "Having him on the floor was a great amount of support to the design process," said Berger. "He was able to grab any piece of the project, large or small, and produce incredible results."

Berger also had to deal with the ever-changing New England weather.

"Simple things you take for granted in an indoor show need to be completely engineered for wind and other outdoor elements. Bad weather led to a few evenings of lost programming as well as the need to bag every fixture in the rig on nights where we even suspected a bit of rain."

From a lighting standpoint one of Berger's biggest challenges was balancing daylight and exposure since the show started while there was still light out. "The first hour was a delicate ballet of work between our team and the video controller to keep the exposures correct," explained Berger. "Once we got into the nine o'clock hours we were able to settle a bit, although it was still only our second time seeing the performers on camera."

The LD was also expected to light the event in a way that would bring the experience of the show to the viewers at home. "The Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular is a longstanding Boston tradition and has always been more about the experience of being there rather than the television show. It was our goal and hope to bring the home viewer into that environment as much as humanly possible," said Berger.

With that idea in mind, the team elected to let the beauty of the hatch shell and the oval surrounding speak for itself. "We put a lot of time and effort into illuminating the shell and the trees around it in a non-intrusive manor," explained Berger.

Berger didn't want to impede on the audience's enjoyment of the fireworks either, but at the same time wanted to expose them on camera to the home viewers. "We had to find creative solutions to light the landscapes surrounding the hundreds of thousands of people who came out to see the fireworks, rather than lighting them directly," said the Berger.

With these challenges in mind, Berger chose the Vari*Lite VL4000 Spot and BeamWash fixtures as the work horses for his rig. "They were responsible for most of the key and backlight as well as giving us the proper exposure levels on the audience and the trees surrounding the ovals. I really can't say enough good things about the beam wash fixtures," said Berger.

He continued, "They were quick, bright and had the great color rendering that we have come to love out of the VL series. In addition to the great practical light they provided, their beam mode was of great use for graphic aerials and we could even make out its beam on the Hancock tower, a mere two miles away."

The LD utilized the Mac Aura fixtures to fill the backgrounds of his design. "They are a very quick and responsive fixture that filled the shots as well as provided a substantial amount of effects for music," he explained.

Berger utilized the nice beam look of the Clay Paky Sharpys to help define the character of the shell and in the back of the oval for audience backlight. "They were the right size and power draw for something so far away from the rest of the rig and really helped define the space, Berger said.

For the control, Lighting Director Ryan Tanker was behind the ETC Eos Titanium 8000. "Ryan was really responsible for quickly crafting the variety of distinct looks for each performance. His speed and creativity with the limited rig was a major asset to the production," explained Burger.

There's also always that one eager intern at events who wants to learn the ins and outs of the lighting industry.  Joe Cavell was that intern and brought a great attitude and resourcefulness to the show. "He was always willing to step up the plate and fill in wherever needed," said Berger.

Al Ridella, VP of National Business Development at 4Wall New York spoke of 4Wall's involvement in the highly successful event.

"We were honored as always to take part in the success of the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular. We can't thank Full Flood enough for relying on 4Wall New York to supply their lighting gear."

Selected Gear List

73 – Martin MAC Aura

15 – Martin MAC Quantum Wash

42 – Vari*Lite VL4000 Spot

41 – Vari*Lite VL4000 BeamWash

35 – Clay Paky Sharpy

2 – Chroma-Q Color Force 48

13 – Chroma-Q Color Force 72

36 – Color Kinetics ColorBlast 12 TRX

1 – ETC Ion 2000

8 – Elation SIXPAR 200

20 – ETC Source Four Leko 50 Deg.

8 – ETC Source Four Leko 36 Deg.

10 – ETC Source Four Leko 26 Deg.

8 – ETC Source Four Leko 19 Deg.

6 – Arri 300W Fresnel

6 – Arri 650W Fresnel

14 – Arri 1K Fresnel