Lightswitch Deliver ‘MAC Sushi’ at E3

July 04, 2003

The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is the most influential event in the interactive entertainment industry and seems to get bigger every year. This year, 60,000 industry professionals attended the show held at the Los Angeles Convention Center from May 14-16.
Computer games are prolific at the event but a rivalry also exists among exhibitors to outdo their competitors when it comes to booth design. In fact, the production values of the booths at E3 continue to be among the most sophisticated of any trade event in the US. Nintendo turned to Los Angeles based lighting design consortium Lightswitch for the eighth consecutive year to help create the right environment for their extravagant exhibit.
Nintendo booth
The 250’ x 300’ Nintendo booth was intended to recreate an actual video game environment and incorporated Martin MAC 2000 Wash, Profile and Performance to achieve the look. The huge booth invoked a Star Trek Holodeck-type experience – and like a Holodeck, every surface could be projected upon, using media produced by Ralph Miller. Lighting, projection, lasers, video, audio and live entertainment combined to create the interactive space which contained a timeline of marketing messages. The booth elements themselves, curved white translucent and opaque surfaces, were motorized to support the action.
Lightswitch’s Norm Schwab headed up the lighting design effort, with David Elliott acting as associate designer. Schwab commented, “Our biggest design challenge was creating this all-inclusive, yet totally flexible and visually entertaining environment. The booth design, which was by Kevin West of Way Out West, was about big white surfaces that created an environmental entertainment experience. There was a circular stage in the middle, surrounded with a translucent cone that raised and lowered to hide the stage. And there were ceiling pieces around the cone in different shapes - like triangular translucent surfaces – they all had individual articulated motor control. In addition to lighting, they were used as video projection surfaces. The outer wall of the booth was formed by a variety of layered, curved translucent surfaces, with different curves forming a circular barrier to the space.”
MAC Sushi
Because of weight restrictions, Lightswitch worked closely with West on the booth design. The team developed a concept of elliptical-shaped ground support truss structures, each about eight feet tall. The truss, which was dressed in white fabric, provided both positions from which to light the ceiling and an interesting architectural surface that could be lit from within. The team dubbed these towers, each of which had 20 MAC 2000s in them, “MAC Sushi.”
The lighting equipment was supplied by Entertainment Lighting Services (ELS) and included 70 Martin MAC 2000 Performances, 20 Martin MAC 2000 Profiles, 150 Martin MAC 2000 Wash Lights, and other automated and conventional fixtures. Some 250 custom full color gobos were designed for the project and provided by InLight Gobos of Dallas, Texas. 
The lighting execution was tied to a show control system, providing complete synchronization of music and video events. Up to 60 different events could be accessed randomly via show control and the live band – the Magnetic Poets - could also call up lighting cues in real time using MIDI Notes.