The Cincinnati live / special event market came back strong in 2023, and in a bold, calculated move for their future, three production companies in the area – MAC Productions, Cincy Entertainment Services, and Prestige AV - simultaneously decided to invest in Halcyon, the latest High End Systems framing luminaires from ETC.
Braden Hasselbeck, President of Cincy Entertainment Services, says his business evolved into a full-scale AV production entity from its roots as a specialty events lighting company. Cincy Entertainment Services specializes in fundraising, holiday, corporate, concerts, and sporting events, with a large portion of their business formed by competitive Cheer competitions through the winter.
Shawn Bernstein is Director of Lighting & Rigging at Prestige AV & Creative Services, also located in Cincinnati. In business for over 35 years, the company began as a small Hotel AV provider, and has grown into a full-service production and AV company with offices in multiple states. Via successful in-house partnerships with hotels and convention centers, they provide production as well as content design and creation services.
Across the state line in Kentucky, Dan Kaufman is the Lighting Department Manager for MAC Productions, Inc. Formed in 1971 as an exposition decorating company before transitioning into A/V, today MAC Productions serves primarily as a live event AV production partner for corporations, associations, and special events that require customized productions for arena, ballrooms, and outdoor events.
Dan comments, “For a city of our size, Cincinnati has quite a few companies in the AV and entertainment sector. Everyone in town tends to get along with each other, as differing business models mean that we’re not in direct competition with each other.”
Bernstein adds, “We work very well together, and try to support each other as best as possible. Prestige, Cincy Entertainment Services, and MAC Productions regularly talk and cross rent gear.”
Hassebeck agrees, saying, “The relationship between our companies is special. We work with a common goal of supporting each other’s needs, and bounce ideas and purchases off one another to better support our greater needs and the market. It allows us to scale up quickly for big jobs and work with familiar gear that we can trust.”
With all three companies being strong HES rental houses (numerous fixtures and Hog 4 control), the introduction of the Halcyon range of framing fixtures spurred a discussion of their next investments.
Shawn says all three had an opportunity to see Halcyon earlier this year: “MAC was the first to pull the trigger on the Halcyon Titanium fixtures. It was the front runner for all of us, due to its compact size with impressive output and flexibility. We have 20 Titanium, and are looking to expand that inventory, possibly adding some Platinum fixtures as well. Fortunately, we are all working in similar size venues with similar needs, so we were quickly able to agree that the size and output of the Titanium would be the best fit for us individually and collectively.”
Kaufman confirms, “We chose the Halcyon Titanium, as it was the sweet spot in the lineup for our purposes. The increased light output of the Titanium without a noticeable increase in size or weight compared to the SolaFrame made it a great choice for us. When Paul Hancock from ETC came to show off the Halcyons, we invited Braden and Shawn to our warehouse for the demo. We all liked them a lot and there was the consensus that the Titanium was the right fixture to purchase.”
Hasselbeck comments, “At the demo we were so collectively impressed, we knew this was the next light for all of us. We discussed what quantity we needed in house to support our own needs, while thinking about the quantity we could offer together.”
Each of the trio mentioned the features of the Titanium that they found most impressive, with Dan saying, “It’s a very versatile fixture; 40,000 lumens makes it very punchy for gobo work and colors, the zoom range is very impressive, and due to the limitations of ballroom hang points, offers a lot of flexibility. Framing shutters are also very important.”
Shawn says, “The price point was right where we were looking, and it gave us a feature packed fixture from a company that has a proven track record of customer service and quality. Having a fixture right about the same size as our SolaFrame 1000s with a higher output was one of the top things we looked at. We do 90% corporate events, so we’re looking for framing shutters, a good stock gobo set, good zoom and focus ratios, and a good clean even beam/field - all of which the Halcyon Titanium provided. My designers like them because they have good output, and have a number of really good breakup gobos which play well for corporate scenic lighting.”
Braden concludes, “I like the versatility the Halcyon range offers. I see the Halcyon as the Swiss Army knife of lights, and hope to increase our inventory since one light can replace several other models we currently own.”
Kaufman says MAC Productions have used Halcyon on shows for many of their clients, including RE/MAX and Gensler. “For RE/MAX, I needed to have enough light output to compete with an LED Wall while using points that were only rated for 500 lbs., so the Halcyons were great for working within our limitations.”
Shawn commented, “Prestige took delivery of 20 units, and as fast as our shop could receive them we were loading them into our Tyler GT truss to head out on their first show in the Giant Center in Hershey, PA. That was the first show out where we used all 20 of ours and all of MAC Productions’ fixtures. They had the punch to really shoot the longer distances across the arena as specials, and worked really well side by side with our other fixtures. Since then, we have used them on numerous shows, including events for ST. Jude Hospital, Cincinnati Insurance, Self Storage Association, and Milton Hershey Schools.”