May 2008 commencement crowd

Commencement Lighting Done In-House

For the first time since commencement has been held in the Superior Dome, NMU will not have to rent lighting trusses and lifts from a Wisconsin company.

The university purchased its own equipment for about $17,000 and audio-visual services will receive help from Forest Roberts Theatre technical staff to install and run the system.

“For the amount of money we spent twice a year to rent the equipment, we will be able to pay off the purchase cost in eight years,” said Eric Smith (Broadcast and Audio-Visual Services). “Northern is getting a high-quality product and increased reliability. The truck always made the delivery the day before commencement. As you can imagine, there’s some anxiety that comes with cutting it so close, particularly with the weather issue in December. Now that we own the same equipment, we will have it for other events that might be held in the dome in the future. It will also be nice to have theater’s involvement.”

The collaboration was solidified this fall, when theater technical director Kim Hegmegee (CAPS) and students were involved in opening ceremony and awards staging at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Short Track Speedskating. She struck up a conversation with Pat Lakenen (Audio-Visual Services).

“He saw that we brought equipment in for the skating and started talking about lighting for commencement,” said Hegmegee. “I had no idea how it was done or that it was hired out. I told him I thought we could be part of that. Through our conversations, we’ve discovered how much our areas can complement each other for different activities on campus.

“I have a rotation of students who will help pack gear out of the shop, take it to the dome, set it up and focus it on the stage. It’s neat for them because in Forest Roberts Theatre, you have a counterweight system. Setting up a truss in the middle of the dome is different. They’ll have a new experience lighting a much larger venue with a different system. And one of my student employees will be lighting her own commencement and thinks that’s the coolest thing.”
Hegmegee said she got permission to begin the preparations in the Superior Dome on Wednesday so the lighting crew would have extra time to “settle the nerves” and make sure everything proceeds according to plan for the inaugural in-house effort.


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Updated: December 11, 2009

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