Last week, John Dickson and Meganne Money were crouched by a laptop on the side of the road, prepared to light up the city’s iconic 'Be Someone' bridge that stretches across I-45.
“When we were [lighting up the bridge], that was a live control,” says Money, one half of JD3 Lasers. “We couldn’t have our whole setup there, obviously. We couldn’t bring everything out to the side of the road, but we had the minimum needed to do the animations and set up the projection zone.”
The duo waited until sunset to set everything up. The brightness was almost undetectable until the lights were mapped precisely so the lasers only struck the bridge—not drivers on a major freeway.
“Safety is definitely one of our primary concerns,” Money assures us.
The result was an instant viral sensation, the latest riff on the graffiti that's been defaced, repainted, and turned into merch at a rapid clip since it first appeared in 2012. And while this is not the first time the words twinkled in lights, it is probably the most colorful.
Houstonia sat down with Money to find out what JD3 Lasers does on a daily basis and why they chose to “Light Up The Sky” with the Be Someone bridge.
What does a laserist do?
We specialize in live control laser shows. If you’re familiar with how a DJ operates, it’s kind of similar to that, but instead of manipulating music, we’re manipulating the laser lights. We can either do live control shows, which is our personal specialty, where we are listening to the music while the DJ plays and essentially dancing with the lights—like choreography. We also demonstrate our projection mapping abilities where we can use the lasers to create a graphic and project onto whatever surface or even on a translucent fabric so it looks like it’s in the air. We also can pre-program shows where lights are choreographed with music ahead of time.
Is this the first piece of artwork that JD3 Lasers has lit up?
Yes. This is the first project of a bigger project to celebrate Houston’s art and landmarks and what makes our community special.
Why start with the ‘Be Someone’ bridge?
It was the most Houston thing we could think of. We wanted to have the renegade vibe because it makes it fun for everyone.
How much time goes into setting something like this up?
The number of hours for each project definitely differs based on what we’re trying to do and the particular piece. In this case, with the ‘Be Someone’ mapping, we were able to use Google Earth to look at where ‘Be Someone’ was painted [on the bridge] and used a photo to make the initial projection map. From there, once we were on the scene, we were able to stretch it and manipulate it to fit exactly from the viewpoint we were.
In a Facebook post, you mention you plan to light up 'various landmarks, graffiti and such all around the city of Houston to continue to Light Up The Sky.'
'Light Up The Sky' is our tagline. If you look at [other videos of our work], you can see how the beams will, whenever we have a broader area are able to project in and project over an expansive area of land ... give the appearance that we’re lighting up the sky.
Which makes us wonder: What’s next?
We decided we’re going to keep quiet about what we’re doing next because we feel like the random appearance and the renegade vibe is what makes it fun for everyone.