America's Got Lasers! Get a behind-the-scenes look at Image Engineering taking on the challenge of live television.
America’s Got Talent is NBC’s reality TV darling that plays to over 10 million viewers each week during the summer season. The show’s concept is straight forward: host a series of open talent shows around the country designed to find remarkably talented individuals among ordinary, every day Americans. Throw in some celebrity judges, professional stage production, and some heart tugging back stories, and you have a summer hit on your hands. Now into its 15th season, AGT continues to dominate its time slot in the ratings war of network TV.
What makes AGT such a joy to watch is it’s attention to visual details. Each performance, whether it’s dance, singing, or acrobatics, is framed with visually stunning production elements of lighting and video. The show’s designers spend a lot of time figuring out how to properly accentuate the performance without upstaging the actual performer. The results are a magical mix of drama, talent, and Hollywood style glitz that makes the show popular among its demographic. Pyrotechnic, cryogenic, and laser effects complete the inventory of tools the producers use to round out the show’s visual appeal.
The creative producers at AGT wanted to up the level of production for the final two weeks of broadcast by adding new visual elements. Beginning in 2011, Image Engineering has provided laser display technology for the popular TV show. AGT’s creative team has a fundamental requirement when designing effects into performances: the “look” can’t mimic or appear to be similar to another contestant’s performance. While such a task may seem daunting, Image Engineering’s experience and creative abilities made this an easy accomplishment. With the help of Image Engineering’s flagship product, the Light Vector® laser system, our technicians created multiple looks for AGT producers to consider when designing the set for various contestants.
The broad color gamut and overall power of the Light Vector® laser system allowed for a variety of laser effects that would “read” effectively amidst the rest of the stage lighting. The gold colored laser fans filling in the background of Forte’s performance illustrate the Light Vector’s ability to match color at the appropriate power level to make a visual impact on TV. During Kenichi’s “robo-matrix” performance, IE’s Light Vectors were meticulously programmed to provide a surreal dancing partner for the soloist.
Because AGT is broadcast live, the set-up and focusing of the lasers needed to be closely coordinated with stage management. In some instances, lasers were set, struck, then re-set in another location for a different performance, depending on the run down order of performances for the show. The Light Vector’s design made the quick set changes very easy to accomplish, even allowing for lasers to rig in the fly space of the theatre’s stage. Laser safety is paramount, especially in this situation as the theatre was filled with thousands of audience members. IE techs designed, rehearsed, then carefully executed alignment and focusing techniques.
The results were spectacular. The combination of lighting, video, and laser created what some called “epic” performances from the contestant finalists. These custom designed laser effects not only added choreographed visual punch to the musical scores, but also acted as an extension of the physical set extending well into the audience. The creative uses of laser as a design medium continue to push the boundaries of laser display in television broadcasts.
In the ninth season of America’s Got Talent our laser diode bars were showcased on national television. The DMX controlled, modular diode bars created a curtain backdrop for contestant Jonah Smith.
All images and video are subject to copyright by NBC.TOP