12.03.2024 | Scott Chmielewski design for Mat Franco Vegas show features Elation DARTZ

Scott Chmielewski of DMDS7UDIOS is employing a large rig of DARTZ 360 narrow-beam luminaires from Elation to support the mesmerizing performances of renowned magician Mat Franco at The LINQ Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Chmielewski addressed an initial refresh of the show in 2021 before undertaking a complete redesign of the entire show, stage and theatre in early 2023, collaborating with Director Brian Burke, Art Director Joe Oneill and Mat Franco himself.

Since headlining at The LINQ in 2015, Mat Franco's "Magic Reinvented Nightly" has garnered accolades and captivated audiences as a must-see Vegas attraction. As the show's name implies, it truly is magic reinvented nightly. Performing to 600 guests for 90 minutes, the show features Franco's signature tricks, yet leaves enough room for improvisation, making each night a singularly unique experience.

Top-notch theatrical visuals
Although a magician could choose to rely on lighting as an important aid in a magic show, Chmielewski says that Franco was more concerned with using lighting to raise the overall aesthetic of the show. "Mat is an amazing magician and doesn't rely very heavily on lighting effects to hide or create the magic. His goal and intention was to have a very theatrical show and utilize the latest lighting and video technologies to bring his show up to and past the caliber of a Las Vegas residency."

According to Scott, Franco is deeply involved in every step of the process but also trusts his team and believes in the art of organic creation. Once a final design concept was decided upon, the magician let the creative team run with the ideas. "He of course had some creative opinions through the process but where his influence is really felt is in his attention to detail. His instincts to what the audience sees and experiences are spot on and it's amazing getting to work with someone like that who has a completely different view of the stage, show and audience."

Evolution of looks
The magician performs in his namesake venue at the casino resort, the Mat Franco Theater, opened in 2017. Scott comments, "While it's a rather intimate theater, we proposed a design that was full of forced perspective, using the wide room to our advantage to create something that felt very big and includes the audience. I wanted to use a lot of small and powerful fixtures to help bring the scale of this well into the audience to help make them feel like they are a much closer part of the show." Part of the design intention of using a lot of lighting fixtures gave the designer the ability to balance big looks with nuanced and intimate moments. "Because Mat is so high energy, we needed to make sure his show's energy matches," he said. "It is a very dynamic show and we wanted it to be a constant evolution of looks."

Compact and creative
Scott says he was looking for a fixture that was small and bright but also needed to have some unique features and tricks. "As the entire design is a dramatic forced perspective concept, we needed something that would be able to fit in tight spaces and unusual locations. We also needed something that had a very strong color set and tested quite a few fixtures. The DARTZ is one of the smallest LED color mixing fixtures out there and we were really surprised at the creative options it gave us."

The DARTZ 360 packs a punch from a tight 3-degree beam and houses gobos, prisms and frost for a variety of creative options, all from a small footprint. Scott uses 160 units in the show, most placed overhead as part of the scenic elements that follow the geometry of the design.

"We wanted to make sure we had several layers of lighting and video elements to use in the forced perspective," the designer said, noting that some of his favorite looks are when all 160 fixtures are used. "With that many units we are able to achieve some very interesting color and texture gradients which help the show look and feel really large," he said, adding that the design extends well into and over the audience for an absorbing immersive experience. The new design has been in place for over a year now and despite a busy schedule of nine shows a week, Scott reports no issues with the fixtures.

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