Brown Note Productions and Elation Proteus weather wild summer conditions

By any measure, summer 2023 in the U.S. has been extreme with intense heat, severe rainfall and unrelenting smoke. So when a number of outdoor festivals and events are on the program, the challenge for any production company is immense. “This is a very current issue,” states Ryan Knutson, President of Brown Note Productions in Colorado. “We’ve seen some really intense changing weather patterns and IP fixtures have become critical in outdoor applications.”

Photo: Steve Thrasher

Efficiency and environmental issues
Knutson credits Danny Wimmer Presents for initiating their move to weather-resistant lighting solutions, a client they have worked with since 2014. “DWP was really the first client we worked with who stressed that the dynamics of weather and shows had changed and therefore a change was needed in how we approached these events. Specifically, we needed to stop the behavior of plastic bagging fixtures whenever there was inclement weather,” Knutson said, remarking that there were both efficiency and environmental issues to consider. “Not only is it stressful for the crew with hours of additional work but we’re messing with our environment by using 100s of bags that just end up in the landfill. They trusted us to find a solution and that solution was IP-rated fixtures.”

Proteus protection
Brown Note began making the change in 2019 when they added Elation Professional’s Proteus Maximus™, Proteus Rayzor 760™, Protron Eclypse™, and DTW Blinder 700 IP™ to their inventory, all IP65-rated luminaires. Since then, they have supplemented their stock with several IP-rated lights including the powerhouse Proteus Excalibur™ and Proteus Brutus™, which, Knutson says, are especially useful to power through ambient lighting from video walls.

“Every year we’ve put more and more Proteus on shows and now every single piece we have on an outdoor show is IP rated,” Knutson comments. “It’s saved my crews hours and hours on site and in some cases has saved my client from having to shut down a show.”

Photo: Steve Thrasher

Weather damage a thing of the past
This summer has been particularly eventful for Brown Note, as they successfully utilized their Proteus units at various DWP festivals, including Welcome to Rockville in Daytona Beach, Florida; Sonic Temple in Columbus, Ohio; and Inkcarceration Festival in Mansfield, Ohio. Add to that the 150 shows or so they work each year at Red Rocks Amphitheater, the iconic outdoor venue west of Denver that often sees torrential downpours, and it’s clear that Brown Note’s expertise and equipment have proven essential in ensuring top-notch concert experiences.

“When weather comes in we think about being safe from the wind and from lightning, but we no longer have to worry about water damage to the fixtures. It takes an element of stress out of the jobs for our crews who already work crazy long hours onsite and of course it has the benefit to the client that the show goes on.” There have been so many pluses, Knutson continues, noting that the QC process has also become much easier as they are not forced to quarantine fixtures for days in order to dry them out or spend money and time repairing or replacing a lot of often expensive parts. “We just don’t have weather created damage anymore.”

Photo: Nathan Zucker

More than just weather protection
The transition to IP-rated fixtures has brought numerous benefits to Brown Note, their clients and the industry as a whole. However, Proteus goes beyond weather protection. Right from its conception, the line has been developed with top-level functionality and a feature set that does not compromise on creativity. “We didn’t want these lights to just be an outdoor thing for us,” Knutson says, explaining that they wanted feature rich, high quality lights that they could spec for any event. “This meant we were looking for features first, diving deep into the things that are important to our clients. In fact, I have had headliners who decided not to bring in their own rigs because when they see what our IP lights have to offer they say ‘that will work great’.”

Given the likelihood of continued severe weather in the foreseeable future, production companies would be wise to emulate Brown Note’s approach to event lighting in ensuring protection for their business and their clients, not to mention doing their part in helping protect our environment.


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