Beauty pageants require contestants to look their best for obvious reasons. So it's no wonder that when it comes to lighting design for the annual "Miss Mississippi" event hosted in Vicksburg, André Huff - for the fifth year in a row - chose to rely on an Avolites platform of consoles and media servers to illuminate the state's loveliest young women.
Style, service, scholarship and success are the hallmarks of the Miss Mississippi Pageant. According to Huff, owner of Limelite Design Service, that pretty much sums up why Avolites has been his go-to lighting equipment supplier since setting up his Knoxville, Tennessee-based professional lighting service and rental shop in 2011.
"I am always looking for products with longevity in the rental market," Huff says. "With their worldwide reputation and stability, Avolites was an easy choice to invest in, plus knowing that Avolites is continually making big strides in the progression of its software."
The pageant, which involved three nights of preliminary completion in mid-July, required sophisticated controls that turned out to be perfectly suited for the Avolites Sapphire Touch, a Tiger Touch, a Titan Mobile and an AI Media Server.
In particular, unique lighting is designed for each contestant for the talent competition portion of the show. "Each contestant gets 90 seconds to perform her talent, and every morning before that night's preliminary we rehearse the talent group for that day," Huff explains.
"But they only rehearse their pieces twice. So in 90 seconds, we have to create a unique and impactful look that coordinates with each talent number and costume, but at the same time not making one contestant look better than another visually to keep it fair. We have a second run-through to make sure it is all good and make any adjustments. So speed of programming is very critical."
Huff finds Avolites' programming features especially useful by letting him be able to take the pan and tilt values from the Capture visualizer software and then store them in pallets of the software. "So basically what you can do is click with your mouse on the computer screen and the lights you have selected will focus there. From that, all you do is store your palette and it will contain your pan/tilt values."
Huff can't praise Avolites enough for the console's quick set-up. He finds that its networking, "quick palette" and "quick build" functions facilitate fast organization and programming. "The pixel mapper is also a tremendous advantage, especially when you are creating chases and wipes and color movement effects on fixtures."
Beyond the Miss Mississippi Pageant, which was broadcast on television, Limelite Design Service anticipates its Sapphire Touch, Tiger Touch and Titan Mobile being used by a wide range of clients. For example, Huff recently programmed and ran lighting with the Sapphire Touch for Iron Mike Productions' "The Pride of Pittsburg" fights broadcast live on Fox Sports from the CONSOL Energy Center on August 8.
Huff's lighting design work has also been seen nationally on Versus Network, ESPN and SpikeTV. Starting as a touring lighting designer for national acts such as Trace Adkins and Lee Ann Womack, he then moved into television as a programmer for the World Wrestling Federation. Huff then furthered his 20-plus-year television career as production/lighting designer for the Chuck Norris World Combat League and Top Rank Boxing Live.