SJ Lighting creates unique, enveloping dance floor experience for LA’s newest EDM night spot
Having illuminated some of the world’s most prominent clubs and biggest EDM festivals, Southern California-based production design specialists SJ Lighting, with Steve Lieberman at the helm, have established themselves as the leader in entertainment technology design for electronic dance music. That reputation continued with the opening of Academy nightclub in Hollywood in January, a new 1400-capacity space for EDM junkies that has been renovated, rebranded and updated with state-of-the-art sound and lighting technology, including lighting effects from Elation Professional Platinum Beam 5R™ moving head beam lights and Pixel Bar™ LED battens.
Academy, formerly the nightclub Create and before that Vanguard (both production designed by SJ Lighting), is a joint venture between Exchange L.A. and Insomniac, the Pasquale Rotella-led event production company behind some of music’s leading EDM festivals, most notably Electric Daisy Carnival.
Lieberman met Academy nightclub’s aim to provide a welcoming environment while maintaining a high production standard through an immersive lighting and video design that involves every guest in a stimulating dance floor experience. One of the largest dance clubs in Hollywood, the DJ-driven venue brings in new talent every night and has been praised for its revamped lighting design. “It’s really a modern-day dance music hall for EDM,” Production Designer Steve Lieberman says. “It’s an immersive, high-tech design with an edgy feel that pushes the envelope more than the previous club did. It’s definitely a technology upgrade and has been well received by client and guests alike.”
Elation lighting has been a staple of SJ Lighting designs over the past few years and the successful relationship continued at Academy. Between rows of overhead LED panels are mounted Elation’s popular Platinum Beam 5R ™ narrow-beam fixtures used for high-intensity moments while Elation Pixel Bars provide a dynamic visual detail running down each side of the space.
Clean, linear lines of LED video panels extend over the audience then fold down the back wall with more LED panels decking the side walls to paint the entire room in a visual surround feel. “Everywhere but the floor,” the LD says. “We then put 32 Platinum Beams in the ceiling between the panels and they just crush it. We wanted something with power that could keep up with the 600+ video tiles and create those big wow moments when they hit it hard and the Platinum Beams do that. They are optically sharp and bright and get the job done when we need big aerial looks.”
Also playing a key role in the design and running down the sides of the room from stage to rear are rows of Pixel Bars, linear RGB pixel-controllable LED strip lights that can be used as a pixel bar for displaying imagery or as a wash luminaire. “They frame out the ceiling design and are there for balance,” Lieberman says. “They play an important role in the layered effect along with the video, wash lights, beams and blinders.” All of the Pixel Bars are pixel mapped through a Madrix LED lighting controller, which allows video looks to run through the lights or lighting looks through the video.
Not all of the lighting gear in Academy is new however. Lieberman repurposed some existing fixtures from Create to use in the new club and again Elation fixtures play a role with some older but reliable Opti Par lights providing color over the stage. No place packed in the high-intensity crowds that love EDM like Create. Since opening in mid-January, Academy has continued the trend as arguably Hollywood’s hottest nighttime venue.