Los Angeles was where the most serious and rigorous of the West Coast light shows, the Single Wing Turquoise Bird, lived and worked. The group, made up of many members including painter Sam Francis, filmmaker David Lebrun, and projection specialist Rol Murrow (who also transferred computer-generated imagery to film for performances), were students of fellow West Coast abstract filmmakers Belson, the Whitneys, and Fischinger. Murrow describes the complex equipment setup used by the group:
“I recall one of our later standard equipment configurations had 36 projectors of every kind imaginable, including a giant xenon-arc film projector that I modified with asynchronous color and strobe wheels and variable speed motors for everything. Other troupe members provided 4 x 5 and 35mm slide projectors, overhead projectors for fluids and stacked media, and a myriad of other machines to paint light with, modified beyond all recognition. It took about fifteen or more people, including those we drafted as runners and assistants (some literally bottle-washers), to do a big show.”
David James has written an authoritative account of the group, detailing how they played not only rock shows like many of their Northern Californian peers, but participated in the L.A. art scene as well. SWTB also appeared briefly in a scene from James Bridges’s The Baby Maker (1970), a film about a young, free-spirited hippie woman (Barbara Hershey) who becomes a surrogate mother to a bourgeois couple.