Re-Post: Prelite Studios Uses Previz to Aid Apple Product Launches


In our industry, we do some pretty amazing stuff with some very interesting people and companies.  It is a well known fact that I am a big fan of Apple products.  When I hear of a story involving them and our industry, I have to share it.  Prelite Studios, (, helped Apple launch the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6s Plus last year in San Francisco by providing lighting designers and OneRepublic previsualization of the space well before show time.

More from PLSN and the Press Release

The latest iPhones and Apple TV launch, announced by Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook introduced new models of Apple’s popular smartphones with many new features and improvements.  More than 13 million units of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus were sold in the first three days of their availability.

Prelite partner Tom Thompson, who also served as the event’s gaffer and assistant lighting designer, and Prelite host Brooke Kimple spent six days at the Civic Auditorium providing previsualization services to production lighting designer Paul Efron of Seeing Eye Lighting Design and guest LD lighting designer of OneRepublic A.J Pen.

“Prelite offers out-of-the-box thinking for the best way to approach a project and attain your goals efficiently,” says Thompson.  “Using Prelite meant we were able to work on site before the immense lighting rig was installed and working.  Big events come with enough stress.  Prelite relieves any additional stress by providing the time to build and program looks so everyone is ready to go when lighting and scenic elements are set up.”

“My experience with Prelite was 100 percent positive,” says A.J Pen.  “From the precise fixture placement to the perfectly animated stage and screen movements, the Prelite model was indeed an accurate representation of the real live event.  There is simply no way that I could have pulled off the show that we did without pre visualization.”

“I use Prelite all the time, especially for an event like this where a single rig must provide for the needs of more than one designer in a compressed rehearsal schedule,” says Paul Efron.  “Prelite allowed us the time needed on the front end, while we were waiting for staging and scenery to be installed, to explore a variety of options to address what has traditionally been the challenge of lighting a black set for video production.”

Apple is known for its clean, elegant and minimalist staging. ”The lighting is designed to maintain focus on the presenters, product and content” says Efron. “However as the event is live streamed to millions of people worldwide, our challenge is to still light for the best quality video production possible while minimizing the amount of “visual noise”. For this particular launch we were directed to provide something a bit different from what we had been doing in the past while still working with the same scenic materials and traditional black background.”

The audience and rig itself provided much of the backgrounds for the multiple camera shoot which also included 2 Jib cameras”.

The event marked a departure from previous launches since it was held at the Civic Auditorium for the first time.  “The venue was recently renovated and is primarily used for arena concert events, so it’s basically a shell,” Efron notes. “We were tasked with transforming that shell into a world class black box theatre making the build out quite extensive.”

The set consisted of three three-dimensional black “monoliths.”  The center monolith, featured a single rear projection screen.  Spaces between the center monolith and the two outside monoliths formed dark “infinity tunnels,” which served as entrances and exits for the presenters.

At the conclusion of the general session OneRepublic came on stage to rock the audience with a three-song set.  Thanks to Prelite, Pen was able “to create both a unique mood that bridged our ‘normal’ live show with the context and setting of the Apple event, as well as to program accents and flourishes that the band is used to feeling from the light show,” he explains.

“During our rehearsal period we experienced some unforeseen delays and consequently were only able to run each of our three songs once before the live show.  With estimates of the potential live-streaming audience being in the hundreds of millions, it was impossible to place a value on the confidence that working with Prelite afforded me.

“The team was exceptionally helpful and attentive during the entire experience,” Pen adds.  “Although the OneRepublic performance was just icing on an elaborate cake, they all made me feel as if our brief moment was one of the most basic and important ingredients of the entire event.”