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2 11, 2015

Gorgeous Stage Design for Alice in Chains

By |November 2nd, 2015|Clients, Projects|1 Comment

This is an oldie – but never ceases to be a goodie.  Here’s a review of the gorgeous and flexible stage design that was put together by Mike Baldassari of MIKE-O-MATIC Industries, LLC.  All images by Iron Mike Savoia.

More often than not, the elegance of a stage design is as much in what is NOT there as in what IS there.  This stage design for Alice In Chains was one that embodied flexible simplicity – and offered the benefits of “big” looks as well as “in the moment personal” scenes with the band’s musicians.  In the image below, we see how the intelligent lighting supplies the scene – and the Metal Mesh artist backings draw the concertgoers’ attention down to stage level.  The bold lighting in a gripping range of colors brings us excitement without being overpowered. Keeping the lighting away from the upstage drapery brings our attention forward and closes down the space for an intimate and mood filled look at the artists.

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In contrast – we see now that the silver drizzle kabuki drapes have dropped from their hidden truss-line diapers – and now are a reflective surface perfect for gobo and image projection.  By shifting to flood lighting style and bold color washes, we now have a grand stage scene that is both wide and tall.  Bringing lighting to the dramatic red swagged border at the downstage edge of the stage salutes theatre design of the golden era.  Suddenly we are looking into a performance area with the look and feel of a traditional theater proscenium.

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Using live projection onto a non typical surface such as the silver drizzle gives the opportunity for endless unique and textural looks and scenes.  Here we see the band projected in bold exaggeration behind the players on the stage.  Stepping away from the overused looks of IMAG screens and LED image walls – this is an old school look with almost a vintage “home video show” feeling to it.  Changing between live video feed and preset graphics offers a visual kaleidoscope that compliments – rather than distracts – from the artists on stage.

AIC17

Never underestimate the power of a silhouette – it will always thrill the audience to see just a “hint” of what’s to come. In a spellbinding display of larger than life silhouettes and live convert sounds, the silk kabuki scene added a WOW moment.  Especially when the kabuki drape dropped – revealing the artists themselves in the flesh.

AIC11

 

15 02, 2011

Rockin’ Clients – Alice in Chains

By |February 15th, 2011|Clients|0 Comments

This is number 4 in my “Rockin’ Clients” series.  I am finding it really interesting to learn about the artists that we work with.  Most of the time, my focus is on the custom stage curtains and other soft goods that we make for the clients, but I may know very little about the background of the artists.  I hope that blog readers are enjoying learning about them as much as I am!

Alice in Chains began in the late 1980s / early 90s as part of the grunge movement in Seattle.  Formed by lead guitarist Jerry Cantrell and the late Layne Staley (lead vocalist), the band incorporates elements of grunge, heavy metal and acoustic into the band’s sound.  After recording several demos, the band was signed by Columbia Records in 1989.

The band’s first album, Facelift, was released in August 1990.  While it had limited success initially, MTV airplay of the video “Man in the Box” boosted album sales, and the album went gold by the end of the year.  The success of  Facelift propelled the band, and their second album, Dirt, went platinum and remained on the charts for close to a year.  They also released several EPsincluding Jar of Flies, which debuted at number 1 on Billboard (the first and only EP to do so). 

By 1994, Alice in Chains was experiencing difficulties, primarily due to the drug problems of founder/lead vocalist Layle Staley.  Though they did release the self-titled Alice in Chains in 1996 and play live concerts sporadically, Staley’s drug issues made it increasingly difficult for the band, and little original music was produced or released over the next six years.

Following Staley’s death in 2002, the remaining members of Alice in Chains remained on hiatus from the band, pursuing solo work and other pursuits.  In 2005, the band reunited to perform a benefit concert and other live and televised events, including reunion tours, adding William DuVall on vocals in 2006.  Black Gives Way to Blue, the band’s fourth studio album, was released in 2009.

The band has toured steadily in the late 2000s, reporting on its website in December 2010 that it had played “150 live shows in the past 16 months.”

We made some really interesting custom stage curtains in 2010 for Alice in Chains, including several silver kabukis and some metal mesh pieces.  There are some great photos and videos on this blog, if you want to check them out.

25 02, 2010

Alice in Chains Video

By |February 25th, 2010|Company, News, Projects|0 Comments

You may remember that I posted last week about the Alice in Chains project.  Although I included linkes to several videos in that post, I just found out about another great video from their current tour, so I thought I’d post a brief update.  The video is a great compilation of scenes from the show.

And while I’m at it, here is another great photo!

aic_lights1

Design: Mike Baldassari @ Mike-O-Matic Industries www.mike-o-matic.com;  Photo By: “Iron” Mike – SavoiaPhotography.com
17 02, 2010

Alice in Chains Project

By |February 17th, 2010|Company, News, Projects|1 Comment

In late January, we worked on an interesting project for the 2010 tour of Alice in Chains.  The primary pieces that we made were a series of Single and Double Kabukis.

The Double Kabuki, at 25′ h x 45′ w, was made out of Silver Poly Silk, and then the 5 Upstage Single Kabukis (all at 22′ h and ranging in width from 10′ w to 44′ w) were of a silver textured satin.  We also made a number of pieces for the stage (drum riser, amp panels and floor light coverlets) out of Black 16oz Commando Cloth lined with Aluminum Mesh, as well as some black masking drapes.

aic_green1

Design: Mike Baldassari @ Mike-O-Matic Industries www.mike-o-matic.com;  Photo By: “Iron” Mike – SavoiaPhotography.com

Rent What? also provided some pieces, including a Classic Theatre Header (Red) from their Timeless and Traditional Series, along with a number of Borders in Black 15oz Encore, and furnished the 44 piece Solenoid System with controllers (used with the Kabuki Drapes).  Check out the Classic Theatre Header in this photo:

aic_header

Design: Mike Baldassari @ Mike-O-Matic Industries www.mike-o-matic.com;  Photo By: “Iron” Mike – SavoiaPhotography.com

We were all really proud of how the pieces turned out, but you never know how the client will react.  Well, I am happy to report that the client loved them!  Yesterday, Megan received a thank you letter from Mike Baldassari, Production Designer for Alice in Chains, and it is such a great letter that I have to share a little bit of it:

Dear Megan,

I’m writing to again say thank you for all of your help, hard work, expertise and most especially your “do whatever it takes” attitude in support of Alice in Chains’ current tour…. I was also impressed with the quality, workmanship and organization of the delivery of the goods that Sew What built.  You have my sincere gratitude for a job very well done, and I look forward to working with you and Sew What on other projects as well in the near future.

Best Regards,

Mike Baldassari

It is so rewarding to get such positive feedback from our clients, and to be able to share it with our employees, especially those who worked so hard on this project.

By the way, if you’d like to see Alice in Chains in action, with some of our drapery providing the backdrop, I found several videos on YouTube.  I think this one highlights (yet again) how perfect silver / gray fabric is for projection, whereas this one shows the drapery in its actual silver color at the start of the video and then shows how it can become almost any color with the proper lighting (you can also see some of the mesh pieces on stage in this video).

Note: Want to see a Kabuki Drape in action?  Check out this video.

1 03, 2016

Kabuki Drops – A Great Effect

By |March 1st, 2016|Education, Products|2 Comments

We’ve posted throughout the years on kabuki drops – explaining what they are, highlighting specific projects. Today, we thought, since it is such a popular topic with our readers, why not offer a “refresher” on the subject.

So lets start here: What is a KABUKI DROP exactly?

It is an effect whereby a drape / backdrop / textile prop is suspended in the air by way of a row of “mechanical clips,” usually attached to truss.  The KABUKI effect occurs when the mechanical clips (technically called solenoid heads) are “fired” by way of a controller.

Kabuki-Solenoid

A Kabu-Key Solenoid Head

When you hit the GO button on the controller box, the solenoid heads release their grip – and in turn the drape / backdrop / textile prop will magically and instantly DROP TO THE GROUND.

It creates one of those WOW moments for the audience…

Such as at the start of the Alice In Chains tour, a large white silk drape was hung with solenoids between the band and the audience.  The lighting design incorporated some front projection of the band’s logo and album art, as well as moving and ambient front light on the drape.  For the audience, it was a dynamic giant projection surface of color and visual movement. Once the band were positioned and the show was ready to start – the front lights are killed, the stage lights are engaged and the solenoids are fired. READY, DRAPE – DROP!  In an instant the band is revealed – and the music starts – the white silk flutters to the ground ans is quickly struck by stagehands to the side of the stage.

It is exciting to watch – check out this great Kabuki Drop Compilations Video that we created.  You will see everything from drapes to ping pong balls being dropped from the ceiling.

SO – that was a description of a SINGLE KABUKI.  The term “single” refers to the fact that the drapery element made a “single” move.  Meaning it simply dropped to the floor when the Go button on the controller was engaged.

Avett_Brothers_Kabuki

To reveal the Avett Brothers, a Kabuki at the moment that the drop begins.

So lets then briefly explain the difference with a DOUBLE KABUKI.

In this scenario, the drape / backdrop / textile prop will in fact make TWO MOVES.  Indeed – we will have two rows of solenoids in the air.  Usually one run on the downstage cord of the truss and one run on the upstage cord of the truss.

What happens now is we have the full size drape as well as a short little “diaper” as we call it.  The diaper and drape are held by one run of solenoids.  The second run of solenoids will hold the other edge of the short diaper only.  As such we have created a fabric hammock up in the air that the larger drop is resting in (reefed or nooked). This is great for a mid stage reveal or an intermission effect.  When the drape is in the fully loaded position within the diaper, you won’t see it at all! It is happily hidden up in the rafters! Your audience has no idea it is even there….

FIRE ONE – the first run of solenoids will release – and in doing so the diaper’s edge will be dropped and the drape hidden within will be “unfurled” – falling down into its natural backdrop / drapery position – as such revealing the drape! It happens VERY quickly – and is exciting to watch the drape unfurl and fall into place.

FIRE TWO – the second run of solenoids will now release the drape itself (as in the first example of a single kabuki).  Now you see it – now you don’t!

So in two moves, we went from a hidden drape within the rafters, to a revealed drape for scene or lighting or projections effects – to “poof!” – nothing at all.  It falls to the ground and is quietly struck stage side by the crew while the audience’s attention is shifted to the stage reveal!

WE LOVE KABUKIS – and we would love to answer any questions you might have regarding them.  Reach out any time and our educated staff will be very happy to advise you on an appropriate equipment list for your event.

8 02, 2016

Oh So Swanky! – Exploring the stage jewelry that Rent What? Inc has to offer

By |February 8th, 2016|Products|1 Comment

Did you know that Rent What? offers event planners and stage designers a wonderful selection of stage jewelry to dazzle the hippest crowd? Visit our online photo player showing off the various Oh So Swanky! rental drapery under varied installations and lighting styles.  Since the items are all “a la carte,” you can choose just enough bijoux to bring out the beauty in your event.

Modular Reflective Mirrors offer extreme flexibility. 42 individual strings with reflective double sided gold mylar square disks can be hung in line or grouped to make great chandeliers.  Add lights for movement, shadows AND reflections. We call it our “Mirror Mobile.”

oss501

Austrian Drape Legs bring the glamorous looks of satin and of traditional old school drapery to your event – the “leg style” pieces are 30 feet high x 16 feet wide and can be hung in unique ways to offer artist entry/exits, as legs, or all together as a backdrop when “zipped” together.  In a tent?  No problem – use the ring lines and lace them up into the ceiling for a unique and beautiful tent ceiling treatment!

Swanky_Aust columns

Bi-parting Crimson Cabaret Drapes with Gold Bullion Trim for the ultimate in drapery decoration.  Imprinted with old fashioned graphic medallions and trimmed out with masses of gold satin and bullion trim…….. this bi-parting main stage drape is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

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Shiny Mylar Ribbon Drapes for that “Broadway” look. You can never go wrong with an old school mylar “rain curtain” – always a fun and shimmering backing for any production.  Our theatre clients love these easy to install and light drapery elements.

Swanky_Mylar Curtain CSULB 2

Performance that Rocks! Take a moment to visit our website and view our Rental Drapery Collections.  You will find inspirational photos of the many, and varied, rental stage and concert draperies and backdrops that we have in inventory. You’ll be impressed by the looks! Check out our online Portfolio of Past Drapery Projects. You can also see what exciting events and concerts are showcasing Rent What? draperies by visiting our Press Room. Rent What? has set the stage for tours of many well known artists, including Beyonce, Nickelback, Janet Jackson and Alice In Chains.

18 02, 2015

Want to Learn More About Kabukis?

By |February 18th, 2015|Digital Printing, Education, Fabrics, Products, Projects|4 Comments

You may well know us for our kabuki “drape drops” and effects – for several years now we have been providing premium kabuki drop drapery for bands and venues alike.  The KABUKI DROP is in fact, one of the more favored of drapery stage effects!

So lets start here: – what is a KABUKI DROP exactly?

It is an effect whereby a drape / backdrop / textile prop is suspended in the air by way of a row of “mechanical clips”.  The KABUKI effect occurs when the mechanical clips – or more correctly solenoid heads are “fired” by way of a controller.  When you hit the GO button on the controller box the mechanical drapery clips / solenoid heads release their grip – and in turn the drape / backdrop / textile prop will magically and INSTANTLY DROP TO THE GROUND.

It creates one of those WOW moments for the audience…

Such as at the start of the Alice In Chains tour a large white silk drape was hung with solenoids between the band and the audience.  The lighting design incorporated some front projection of the bands logo and album art, as well as moving and ambient front light on the drape.  For the audience it was a dynamic giant projection surface of color and visual movement. Once the band were positioned and the show was ready to start – the front lights are killed, the stage lights are engaged and the solenoids are fired. READY, DRAPE – DROP!  In an instant the band is revealed – and the music starts – the white silk flutters to the ground ans is quickly struck by stagehands to the side of the stage.

AIC_Silhouette

It is exciting to watch – check out this great Kabuki Drop Compilations Video that we created.  You will see everything from drapes to pin pong balls being dropped from the ceiling.

SO – that was a description of a SINGLE KABUKI.  The term “single” refers to the fact that the drapery element made a “single” move.  Meaning it simply dropped to the floor when the go button on the controller was engaged.

So lets then briefly explain the difference with a DOUBLE KABUKI.

In this scenario, the drape / backdrop / textile prop will in fact make TWO MOVES.  Indeed – we will have two rows of mechanical clips in the air.  Usually one run on the downstage cord of the truss and one run on the upstage cord of the truss.

What happens now is we have the full size drape as well as a short little “diaper” as we call it.  The diaper and drape are held by one run of solenoids.  The second run of solenoids will hold the other edge of the short diaper only.  As such we have created a fabric hammock up in the air that the larger drop is resting in (reefed or nooked). This is great for a mid stage reveal or an intermission effect.  When the drape is in the fully loaded position within the diaper, you won’t see it at all! it is happily hidden up in the rafters! Your audience has no idea it is even there….

FIRE ONE – the first run of solenoids will release – and in doing so the diaper’s edge will be dropped and the drape hidden within will be “unfurled” – falling down into its natural backdrop / drapery position – as such revealing the drape! It happens VERY quickly – and is exciting to watch the drape unfurl and fall into place.

FIRE TWO – the second run of solenoids will now release the drape itself (as in the first example of a single kabuki).  Now you see it – now you don’t!

So in two moves we went from a hidden drape within the rafters, to a revealed drape for scene or lighting or projections effects – to “poof!” – nothing at all.  It falls to the ground and is quietly struck stage side by the crew while the audience’s attention is shifted to the stage reveal!

Avett_Brothers_Kabuki

WE LOVE KABUKIS – and we would love to answer any questions you might have regarding them.  Reach out any time and our educated staff will be very happy to advise you on an appropriate equipment list for your event.

For a downloadable whitepaper answering questions on fabric choice, see our whitepaper, “Making the Best Fabric Choice for Stage Draperies

7 01, 2015

What in the World is a Kabuki?

By |January 7th, 2015|Education, Products|0 Comments

If you are new to the world of theatre production or concert touring, you may have heard the term “kabuki” thrown around and thought to yourself, “What in the world are they talking about?” The average person outside the industry has probably never heard the term, or if they have, they may have only heard it in the context of the classic Japanese dance-drama, Kabuki Theatre. But it means something completely different in the theatrical drapery marketplace.

AIC_Green

Kabuki drapes used by Alice in Chains for their concert tour

In traditional theatre / concert drape terminology, the word “kabuki” is commonly used to refer to a type of drape, a stage action, and the hardware that creates the action. Basically, a kabuki drape is a drape that is fabricated such that, by firing a specific type of electronic mechanism (“kabuki” solenoids), the drape drops into or out of the audience’s sight.  A single kabuki (characterized by a single drop) is hanging onstage in full view of the audience and then drops quickly to the floor to be whisked out of sight by stagehands.  A double kabuki is bundled up high near the truss before being dropped into the audience’s view (the first drop) and then later dropped to the floor (the second drop).

This video shows an Alice in Chains kabuki drape “in action.”

Want to learn more about kabuki drapes?  We’ve got an interesting article on our website at http://www.sewwhatinc.com/faq_kabuki.php.

For a downloadable whitepaper answering questions on fabric choice, see our whitepaper, “Making the Best Fabric Choice for Stage Draperies

9 05, 2011

Kabuki Solenoid Systems

By |May 9th, 2011|Products|0 Comments

I’ll told you a little bit about the different drapery collections that we have available for rental at Rent What?  But did you know that we also rent a variety of hardware systems to be used in conjunction with either our rental drapes or your own drapes?  From curtain track to pipe and base, we’ve got a wide selection to choose from.  Today I’ll focus on our solenoid systems.

Rental Hardware Profile – Kabuki Solenoid Systems

Rental System specifics:

  • 1 Solenoid Holds over 500 Lbs
  • Proven Release Locking System
  • Single Or Double Hand Controller
  • Operates on Standard 110v Outlet

A La Carte or Turn-key Rental System

  • Solenoid Head
  • Single Controller
  • Double Controller
  • 5 way loom
  • AC Cable
  • Travel Case

Why We Love Kabuki Systems:

There is nothing quite like the rush of excitement as the music builds, the lights illuminate the band and then the drape drops.

Just watch while the audience goes wild! This easy to assemble and easy to use Kabuki Solenoid System allows you to “reveal, drop and roll” just about any drapery element or backdrop.

Famous Friends:

Alice in Chains decomposed their stage scene with our Solenoid System while Brooks and Dunn illuminated their drapes with a mouth dropping Kabuki reveal. Even Jay-Z and Maxwell have rocked out from behind our magical Kabuki reveals!

18 03, 2011

Happy Clients – What We Like to Hear

By |March 18th, 2011|Company, News|0 Comments

There are so many ways to measure business success, but the one that we find the best is hearing from our clients that they are love our custom stage drapes.  What better way is there for a prospective new client to judge the quality of our work than by hearing from our current clients?  Here are just a few client testimonials that we have received recently at our sister company, Rent What?

The pop up dressing room is great. I love the ease of the buttons and not the old school buttons that hurt your finger tips trying to get it opened, etc

– Conan O’Brian Tour

The Carrie Underwood rentals with the velcro worked great- kept our turn around time short to just rip them down. I was very pleased with both products. That you had pre-assembled the swag and drape- everything was just fantastic, perfectly customized to be highly functional onstage and for that I am truly grateful. In this regard you guys are very uniquely service oriented.

– Carrie Underwood @ the ACMA’s

Twas a thing of beauty. Perfect as always!

– Nickelback Tour

Thanks for hooking us up with the awesome curtain.

– Hanson Tour

Thank you for the great gear you provided and the shop support you afforded us early on in pre production. Everything went great. We had a 100% success rate with our Kabuki drops.

You run a wonderful company and I look forward to working with you once again in the near future.

– Alice in Chains Tour

It worked out beautifully. The curtain was the perfect finishing touch to our children’s musical. It pulled everything together. My experience with Rent What? was pleasant from start to finish. I found everyone to be very helpful and professional. I will definitely rent from you again. Thank you!

– Daren Bachman

I appreciate how much time and care you guys put into your business. Your growth has been impressive, phenomenal, and well conceived. Thank you for everything.

– Local High Profile Staging Client

Seriously–that grey drop as the kabuki was absolutely perfect –I need to add kabuki effects to my every day life somehow, it’s such a thrill!!! ….rig one up in front of the dinner table, the candles flickering behind it and then woooosh! or surprise parties! or Christmastime! or blind dates! And the truss borders, holy moley, they really add a lot to the set, they were a huge hit. Muchas Gracias!

– The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s at the Greek

After years of interacting with you on the phone, it was great to finally be able to meet you! Thank you for your beautiful drapes and I’m happy to work with you every time I get the chance.

– Mary J Blige Tour

31 12, 2010

Ringing in the New Year

By |December 31st, 2010|Projects|0 Comments

As the clock ticks closer and closer to 2011, I thought I’d reflect a little on some of the projects that we have worked on this year.  I’d love to post a little bit about all of the projects that we worked on in 2010, but for that I would need to publish a book!  So, instead I’ll just remind you of a few particularly memorable projects.

Large-Format Digital Printing

We printed and sewed so many amazing digitally printed backdrops this year.  A few that come to mind include several gorgeous panels for Brooks & Dunn‘s “Last Rodeo” farewell tour (I love the cowgirl images!), the “Distressed Fleur de Lis” pattern for Little Big TownBilly Idol in black and white, and, of course, the beautiful backdrop for Kenny Chesney (third year running).  All beautiful, all unique!

Custom Stage Curtains

Of course, all of the drapery that we make is custom-made according to the client’s specifications, so all projects are interesting and unique.  But some projects really stand out.  The Silver Scrim for Yusuf Islam was so beautiful and quite unusual.  The Alice in Chains project was so cool that I posted about it twice, and of course the drapery in sheers and silvers for Celtic Woman set the perfect ethereal backdrop to their music.

Mixed Media and Specialty Pieces

These are the projects in which we really “think outside the box,” using materials and/or techniques that are just a little bit different from the usual drapery style.  I loved the Metal Mesh frame pieces that we made for James Taylor and the Korn backdrop was an amazing combination of netting, digital printing, and smoke tubes.  And just a few weeks ago – who could forget the American Parachute that we made for Katy Perry?

All of these terrific projects are just a small fraction of the projects we worked on in 2010.  I can’t wait to see what projects come our way in 2011!

Happy New Year, everyone!

4 06, 2010

Speaking of Portfolios…

By |June 4th, 2010|Education, Products, Projects|0 Comments

Recently I posted about our new Digital Printing Portfolio, and in writing that post, I took a few minutes to review our other portfolios.  It seems that I don’t get the opportunity to review our portfolio pages as often as I like, so there is always something new to see.

The page that really impressed me this time was the Video Portfolio.  Since I last looked, a number of really cool videos have been added.  One that stood out was the video of the Alice in Chains Poly Silk Kabuki.  Not only does the video show how terrific poly silk is as a projection surface, but at the end of the video, it shows the kabuki dropping.

In prior posts, I have explained how a kabuki works, but it can be difficult to understand in a written explanation.  I think this Alice in Chains video is a great visual demonstration of the operation of a kabuki.

There are a number of other videos in the portfolio as well, highlighting a variety of custom stage drapes (including an Austrian curtain), stage backdrops, and much more.  Check it out!