Looking At WWF New York’s Design
Clair Brothers, located in Lititz, PA, did the lighting, audio, and video design and installation at the WWF. Bill Simmons, lighting designer for the project, says his goal was “a sort of elegant theatricality.” For the retail space, he adds, this meant “finding a happy medium between good clean retail lighting and theatrical lighting.” Thus the area features a wide array of architectural and entertainment fixtures, including a large number of ETC Source Fours (in 19 [degrees], 26 [degrees], and 36 [degrees] units, and Source Four PARs), plus PAR-38s manufactured by James Thomas Engineering, and some MR-16 tracklights, which the designer inherited with the project. The PAR-38s, says Simmons, are built with “an elongated snout,” which allows them to hold dichroic filters or gel for long periods of time without burning them out. Also part of the mix are Martin RoboScan 518 compact rotating pattern scanners, to give a sense of flash and theatricality to the space, and Clay Paky VIP 300s to project WWF images and logos all over the room (Apollo Design Technology created the custom projections for these units).
Simmons’ concept of elegant theatricality extends to the dining area, where lighting is used for color and definition. Most of the dining tables are in long rows, so Simmons had SSRC, the South Carolina-based manufacturer of electrical lighting distribution equipment, custom-create raceways for more of the James Thomas PAR-38s; these units are arranged in three circuits, with three separate functions. “There are table lights, in no color,” the designer says. “They’re focused tightly, so you can see your food. Between them are a set of lights in reds and blues, which are focused on the aisles, to give patrons a sense of the theatrical. Then there’s a circuit of accent lights” for the pillars and other architectural details and memorabilia.
There are also other forms of special-effects lighting built into the bars and some tables. The knee walls around the main bar have glass tops with LED strips from Color Corp. built into them. The back bars use fiber optics by Fiberstars to illuminate the bottles; the sides and top are lit by fiber optics from Laser Media. A dozen tables in the nightclub area feature built-fiber optics from Super Vision.
The nightclub area features a lot of entertainment units, including 16 Martin RoboScan 918s, four Martin Mac 550s, seven Martin Mac 600s, six Mac 250s, and four Mac 300s, plus some Martin Punisher and Robozap disco effects, and three High End Systems Cyberlights, 24 High End Trackspots, and Altman Zipstrips. There are also ETC Source Fours and Source Four PARs, Altman 1kW and 2kW fresnels and PAR-46 ACLs, and Wybron Coloram scrollers. Other items include Martin hazers and JR Clancy rigging. The 18′ x 30′ projection screen that drops in front of the proscenium is by Stewart and the fiber-optic drop depicting the WWF logo is by Main Light.
Patrick Dierson, who worked with Simmons on the project and programmed the entertainment lighting, says, “All of the units are run off a [Martin] Case Pro 1 Plus controller. The Case is one of the most underrated consoles in the industry right now. I’ve used it on a ton of gigs; it’s particularly good for disco applications. It’s flexible for playback, so you can hand it off to any kind of operator.” Dierson adds that, in the retail area, the RoboScans are controlled by an Elektralite CP3 playback unit, which has three set programs for three different times of day. In addition, there is an ETC Expression 250 for theatrical lighting in the live space and an ETC Expression 300 LPC for automated show control throughout the entire venue that is tied to an AMX system. An ETC Unison control system allows for manual control of the lighting at different areas throughout the venue. Approximately 400 ETC Sensor dimmers are used, with an additional 56 non-dim relays manufactured by ILC.
There are many other pieces of the lighting puzzle. The retail area also features box trussing by Tomcat, Halo downlights, and Monorail-style track with MR-16 heads by Tech Lighting, and custom LED strips for the arches leading to the restaurant area. The arcade area features Altman Micro PARs and more Thomas PAR-38s. There are also many architectural fixtures from a variety of companies, including RSA, Halo, Glass Illuminations, Flos, Neo-Ray, CSL, and Juno, with accessories by Devon Glass, Rosco, GAM Products, and City Theatrical.
The audio system was designed by Clair Brothers’ Jim Devenny, a 25-year veteran of both touring and installations, including 8 x R3Ts, 4 x R3TWs, 2 x R4III-Ws bass cabinets, 2 x R2, 2 x P4s, and 44 x LS-10s. BSS Soundweb 9088ML systems processors are used. Control units include a Yamaha PM-4000 mixing console, a Yamaha SPX990 multi-effects unit, a DBX 160 compressor/limiter, an Olympic 117-XD drive/playback rack, a Tascam DA20 DAT machine, and a Tascam CD301 CD player and 112RmkII cassette deck. The monitor system includes an Olympic 312-XD portable electronics rack, KT DN360 equalizers, Yamaha SPX990 multi-effects units, Aphex 622 two-channel noise gates, DBX 160A compressor/limiters, and Clair Brothers Audio/QSC amps.
For the stage area, sound equipment includes several kinds of Shure microphones (such models as U124D/B87, B581A, SM57, B52, and SM81), along with AKG 391B and Beyer M88 mics as well, and many pieces of equipment from Clair Brothers, including Active and Passive Wedge Series monitors. The monitor console is a Crest Century series. The production intercom system includes components from Telex, Clair Brothers, West Penn, and Symetrix, while the portable DJ system includes items from Soundcraft, Technics, Stanton, and Denon.
WWF also has an enormous video component, designed by Marty Ludwin. In the retail area, suspended from the ceiling, there’s a large video cube wall, made up of 12 Sony RVP 511D 50″ projection cubes. The restaurant contains a video wall also made up of 12 more Sony 50″ projection cubes, a pillar consisting of 45 Dotronix 27″ RGB-composite monitors, and a video monitor banner featuring 12 Dotronix 20″ RGB-composite monitors. There are also three video projectors from Digital Projection, one (a 7gv) of them throwing a 16′ x 27′ image on the screen in front of the stage. There are also over 50 video screens ranging in size from 9″ to 61″ spread around the venue; all of them, naturally, feature clips of the WWF gang in action. The video and audio routing for the venue is the Couger PESA Switching system. The video wall processors are two Electrosonic PicBloc 3s and two Electrosonic Vectors. The main show control for the entire venue is a custom AMX system.
One thing is clear about WWF New York–it is a work in progress. The MacMahon family, which originally licensed the space to a restaurant specialist, has purchased the venue back, and already there are said to be plans to develop it further. The venue is wired for broadcast, and has already been used for broadcast segments on WWF’s Pay-Per-View shows. As long as the nation continues to be fascinated by the antics of the WWF crew, the space known as WWF New York is likely to keep going to extremes.