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Wet weather forces a brief lights-out at Friday night BLINK

Posted at 12:23 AM, Oct 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-12 00:59:10-04

CINCINNATI — The lights flickered Friday night at BLINK as rain rolled over Cincinnati. The wet weather forced technicians to shut down most of the festival’s 87 projectors between 7 and 8 p.m., leaving parts of the citywide display offline until skies cleared.

The decision wasn’t an easy one for project manager Scott Inukai to make, he said. But it was necessary to preserve the projectors, which cost tens of thousands of dollars each, and ensure BLINK could continue through the weekend.

“We kind of made the decision of best bang for buck,” said Inukai, who supervised the 37 on-the-ground technicians monitoring BLINK throughout the night.

He and other workers with Production Resource Group, the company planning and managing the technical aspects of large-scale light show, will spend each night of BLINK making similar fast-paced calls to keep it running smoothy.

Rain can force a shutdown like Friday’s. Some of the displays that rely on projectors high off the ground will need to be taken down if wind picks up.

Inukai’s job is to make the snap decisions about those displays as seamlessly as possible so audiences aren’t distracted.

“The idea is you want to be exposed to the effect,” PRG director Bobby Klimuszko said. “You want to be exposed to the art. You don’t want to see where it’s coming from.”

Sometimes distraction is unavoidable, the way it was Friday. Technicians encouraged attendees to return Saturday or Sunday if a feature they had hoped to see was offline during their visit.

Lighting designer David Seitz, a UC graduate, said seeing audience reactions to the show is what makes the stress and hairpin turns worth it.

"Getting to be there and see that excitement from children, from adults, it helps motivate you as you're going through,” he said. “We don't get that all the time."