Rank #1: Marty Postma: Concert LD, media designer, lighting & video programmer
While concert lighting is different from lighting for theater, television, and live events, it has been influenced by and has influenced the practice and practitioners of all three. Marty has designed lighting and media for some of the largest musical acts around and has toured all over the world with them, but began his journey with a BFA in theatrical lighting design. He has also programmed for other designers, on projects ranging from feature films to ice shows to televised galas, and has a reputation for staying cool no matter how much pressure is on.
Join your host Jason Marin and co-host Stephanie Shechter as we sit down with Marty to discuss the challenges of designing, assembling, and touring a concert system, as well as the challenges of working live with an artist in a festival environment. We talked about how video and lighting can work together, both as individual design elements and as partners in creating live broadcasts and webcasts. We also discussed the business of design and handling changing client expectations, heard some advice for current and would-be programmers, and talked about Marty's earlier work in New York's biggest nightclubs.
Big thanks to Marty for his time and willingness to answer all our questions. You can learn more about him and his work at www.retinalresonance.com
Thanks for checking out our fifth episode!
Nov 01 2014
Rank #2: David Arch: here comes the general
We are back, and we want you to join us in the room where it happens with David Arch. David is a multi-talented lighting director and lighting programmer, and among his credits are 40 Broadway shows including Hamilton and On Your Feet. Those, however, are only one part of a career that has spanned continents, genres and decades.
David got is start designing lighting for bands in his native Australia. He made his way to the US while on tour with the band Icehouse, and made connections there that would lead to work on major rock tours. That led to his first jobs on Broadway in 1996 and his career has built steadily since then; it now encompasses live television, major events, rock tours, and international theatricals.
When we sat down with David, he gave us some incredible insights into how the job of programmer came to be, what he had to do with molding it, and how he prefers to work and interact with lighting designers. He told us about the early days of programming in New York, and how he and the others who were forging this new path found ways to help each other and grow the business. He also went into detail about how he prepares shows to tour and some things everyone should know about negotiations.
As always, thanks for downloading and listening, and thanks to David for taking the time to join us!
Jun 01 2016
Rank #3: Kelly O'Connell: designing, building, and installing educational theaters
How does an educational theater end up with a masterfully designed rigging system, or non-standard lighting equipment that perfectly suits it? How do school districts maximize what they can provide for their students when renovating or building a space, or adding to their inventory? Our guest Kelly O'Connell, Lighting Systems Designer for YES Theatrical Service & Supply, has the answers.
In our interview, Kelly explains in depth how she works with architects, general contractors, and electrical contractors to make projects happen and get her clients what they need. We discussed how she manages everyone in the chain, from drama teachers to administrators to boards to contractors. Kelly's extensive and varied experience in lighting design, production management, and architecture prepared her well for this job, which can involve anything from a $50 gel package to a $500,000 lighting system.
We also discussed her path into theater, starting with an unexpected turn designing lighting for a production of Aeschylus' Agamemnon at 13, and the company she works for. YES, or Young Equipment Sales, began 46 years ago as a locker company. Their relationship–based, customized service gave them opportunities to grow into nearly every part of educational sales and service, finally reaching auditoriums and theaters in 2015.
Thanks for downloading, and thanks for listening!
Feb 17 2016
Rank #4: Vickie Claiborne: control systems expert and educator extraordinaire
New Years Eve at Aria, photo courtesy Kelly McKeon
In 2000, Vickie Claiborne was head lighting programmer on the opening and closing ceremonies for the Sydney Olympics – and she was just getting started. Over the course of her distinguished 25 year career, she has programmed lighting and media for shows and trained lighting & media programmers all over the world. Join us as we discuss how she went from a small theater in Branson, Missouri to the Rock In Rio festival earlier this year, her thoughts on training & education, and how a lighting programmer can get into media programming.
Vickie was Programmer and Training Manager for High End Systems until 2006, where she handled hundreds of shows and trained thousands of programmers on Wholehog 2 and Hog 3 products. In 2008, she joined PRG Las Vegas as a Product Specialist, where she is responsible for supporting every control system PRG provides as well as the Series 400 Power & Data Distribution System. She also continues to program and design shows, including the massive New Years Eve event at the Aria resort in Las Vegas.
Vickie's passion for education and helping others led her to write her first book, Media Servers For Lighting Programmers, published by Focal Press. In the book, as she does in her many other roles, Vickie calls on her vast experience in lighting and media to explain, clarify, and teach. Vickie is also is a contributing writer for PLSN magazine, covering digital media topics.
If you're attending LDI this year, you can catch Vickie on the four Art Of Programming panels, all taking place on Thursday, 10/22. She's also on Twitter at vickieclaiborne. Thanks for checking out our latest episode!
Oct 15 2015
Rank #5: Brad Schiller Part 1: Feeding The Machines
Brad Schiller was there as the job of Automated Lighting Programmer emerged, and he has influenced the job's evolution over the last 25 years as he moved from freelance to High End Systems to Philips Vari*Lite to Martin Professional. We sat down with Brad and discussed his remarkable career, but the interview was so packed with information that we decided to present it as two episodes. In this episode, we discuss his philosophy on programming and how he's seen the programmer's role evolve, his work on the 2000 Sydney Olympics Opening and Closing Ceremonies, his time with the band Crystal Method, and how he became part of the High End Systems programming department at a critical time for both he and they.
Brad is also a writer – we discussed Brad's book The Automated Lighting Programmer's Handbook, which has helped many programmers along their way, including your host. It's worth a read for anyone who interacts with intelligent lighting as a designer, operator, or technician. Brad also has a monthly PLSN column about programming, Feeding The Machines; during the interview, he mentioned two articles of note: An Automated Lighting Programmer Is What You Want To Be, a humorous look at programming in a Dr. Seuss vein (page 75 of the PDF), and An Offer You Can't Resist, about ACN and the E1.31 protocol.
If you're attending LDI this year, you can catch Brad on the four Art Of Programming panels, all taking place on Thursday, 10/22. Brad also writes In The Know, an insider blog about Martin Professional. Thanks for checking out our latest episode!
Sep 15 2015
Rank #6: Dennis Parichy Part 1: 50 years of illuminating the play
There are few who know more about lighting plays than Dennis Parichy, whose career has brought him into close collaboration with giants of American playwriting. His lengthy association with Circle Rep, and its founders Marshall W. Mason and Lanford Wilson, yielded legendary productions like Burn This and Talley's Folly. His collaboration with Athol Fugard was also quite productive, with productions ranging from Scenes from Soweto in 1978 to Valley Song in 1998. He has an Obie Award, a Drama Desk Award, a Drama-Logue Award, three Tony nominations, and today is an educator at Puchase College Conservatory of Theater Arts.
Previous podcast guest Mike Baldassari joined your host for the interview; Mike drafted for and assisted Dennis for several years after moving to New York, including working on Burn This. Dennis is a master of using light to illuminate characters and make statements about their motivations, and he described his process for breaking down and analyzing a script to tell him how to proceed. We also went into detail about some plays he's lit, what he wanted to convey with lighting, and how it was done.
Dennis has also written an amazing lighting design text titled Illuminating The Play; in it, he goes into far more detail about his method for creating lighting, and investigates the entire process from script to cue. As always, thanks for downloading and listening – we'll be back with Part 2 of the interview soon!
Jul 02 2016
Rank #7: Brad Schiller Part 2: Building The Machines
"If you wish to make apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe" – Carl Sagan
In order for us to go through the process of creating lighting for theatricals, events, broadcasts, films, and performances, any number of other creative processes needed to happen first – including the specification, design, and engineering of luminaires and control consoles. We dive into some of those in the second half of our interview with Brad Schiller, and discuss his time as a product manager for High End Systems and Philips Vari*Lite, and his current job as Business Development Manager for Lighting Rental & Touring at Martin Professional.
Brad has been involved with the design and creation of some of the industry's iconic products. At High End, it was the Hog 4 control platform. At Vari*Lite, it was the VL4000 Spot and BeamWash. Today at Martin, it's a new control concept he can only hint at. We discussed the development process, how he manages products, and what taking a role on the corporate side of the business is like. We also heard about Martin's current line, and how their philosophy differs so radically from other manufacturers Brad has worked with.
For more Brad, check out the first half of our interview. We talked about his work as a lighting director, programmer and writer, including his book The Automated Lighting Programmer's Handbook and monthly PLSN column about programming. If you're attending LDI this year, you can catch Brad on the four Art Of Programming panels, all taking place on Thursday, 10/22. He also writes In The Know, an insider blog about Martin Professional. Thanks for listening to our latest episode!
Oct 01 2015
Rank #8: Laura Frank: Building a new paradigm for media management, programming, and planning
Today's televised events tend to lean heavily on video; in some cases, 80% of the scenery is actually a video surface. How does the content for all that real estate get created, handled and played back seamlessly? To find out, we sat down with Laura Frank: a screens producer working on some of the highest profile events in the world, including the MTV Video Music Awards, the CMT Music Awards, and Black Girls Rock!, as well as theatricals, corporate events, and other productions too numerous to mention.
Laura got her start working electrics in New York in the early 90's, and quickly found a home at the lighting desk. She distinguished herself as a top-flight programmer on the Hog, MA, Virtuoso, and Icon consoles, programming on Broadway, for feature films, and on major events. When she saw digital lighting on the horizon, she started changing direction, and today works entirely in media.
Through her company, Luminous FX, she provides the full gamut of services needed to turn a concept or idea into an amazing show: content templates & specification, 3D design visualization, content production, and server programming. Laura says that in her role as screens producer, she's not a designer, not a technician, but a creative partner who communicates the designers’ creative intent through the highly technical video system. She shares the tools and solutions she uses for multi-screen video environments at LFX Studio.
Thanks for joining us for Season 2! Use the Contact page to let us know what you think!
Sep 01 2015
Rank #9: Kellen McNally: Accuracy in surveys, models, and layouts lead to more successful designs
We all love the massive lighting systems we see at outdoor festivals, but when environmental and safety requirements necessitate accurate placement of dozens of elements, who makes it happen? As we become increasingly dependent on lighting and video previsualization, where do sufficiently accurate 3D models of venues come from? After years of adjustments, renovations, and changes, what can venues do to get all their drawings and paperwork back on track?
Our guest Kellen McNally of Productions On Point has the answers. He specializes in surveying, mapping, drafting, modeling, and layout for venues and sites of all kinds and at every step of the way. We discuss the technology he uses, applications for the kind of services he provides, and why this kind of extreme accuracy in layout will become ever more critical. We also had a chance to talk about entrepreneurship in the business – until a few years ago, Productions On Point was simply an idea Kellen got after watching a festival site get laid out inefficiently.
As always, thanks for downloading and listening!
Jun 16 2016
Rank #10: Haskell Wexler, ASC: Legendary cinematographer, 1922—2015
Haskell Wexler, A.S.C. joined Bryan Hart and Louis Normandin at Cinematic Immunity Studios for their second episode in 2014
On December 27, 2015, the legendary cinematographer Haskell Wexler, A.S.C. passed away at the age of 93. He lived an incredible life, including a tour in the US Merchant Marine during World War II, and had an amazing career running from 1953 through his death, including winning two Academy Awards. With 80 credits as cinematographer, he was judged to be one of film history's ten most influential cinematographers by members of the International Cinematographers' Guild.
Haskell's first big-budget feature as a cinematographer was Elia Kazan's America, America in 1963. In 1966 he was cinematographer for Mike Nichols' film adaptation of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, for which he won the last ever Academy Award for Best Cinematography (Black & White). The year after that, he was the cinematographer for the Oscar-winning In the Heat of the Night starring Sidney Poitier. His work on that was extremely notable because it was the first major Hollywood film shot in color to be lit properly for a person of African descent.
In 2014, our friends at the Cinematic Immunity Podcast released a show featuring their interview with Haskell Wexler. Both in light of his recent passing and the fact we’ve had so little information from the film world on this show, we’d like to share it with you now. Cinematic Immunity features the art and craft of movie making and the stories that define it. They are readying their second season for launch now, with more full-length interview shows like this one, as well as episodes that answer questions through a series of comprehensive interviews.
It is the brainchild of Louis Normandin, a cameraman based in Los Angeles who has worked on feature films and television of all sizes for the last 15 years. He’s also cast plenty of light himself as a gaffer and electrician. His co-host and producer is Bryan Hart, a First Assistant Director, Unit Production Manager, and Line Producer in the independent film world, who is the third generation of a filmmaking family and who also happens to have been your host's Best Man.
Thanks for downloading, thanks for listening, and have a happy new year!
Jan 01 2016
Rank #11: Mike Baldassari, Part 1: from The Garden to The Road to The Street
It was 1977, and Mike was headed to a Kiss concert at Madison Square Garden. The audience blinders came up, 20,000 people cheered, and Mike knew he'd found a home. Since then, he has lit Broadway musicals, including collaborating on Cabaret with the great Peggy Eisenhauer; television shows, including episodes of Saturday Night Live; theatrical tours, including Phoenix Entertainment's Camelot; major events live to broadcast, including A (RED) Thank You; concerts, including tours with icon Neil Young; and feature films, including Nine. All that said, Mike's greatest strength may be his ability to draw inspiration and practice from one genre for use in another.
Join your host Jason Marin and first-time co-host Carrie Wood for the first part of a two-part interview with Mike. In this episode, we discussed his work on feature films, television, live events and shows that involve elements of all three. We discussed how he got into the business, including finding his way to the lighting console after rock shows to introduce himself, the difference between working on a feature shooting film and one shooting digital, what SNL has to do with Australia, and what happens when one of the cameras on your multicamera shoot is attached to a helicopter.
Join us next time for the conclusion of the interview, where we discuss concerts, theater, and, of course, Cabaret.
Apr 01 2015
Rank #12: Miriam Nilofa Crowe: creating lighting, creating community, and the business of art
Miriam Crowe has been a lighting designer for nearly 20 years, and has worked at every level of the business, from the Fringe Festival to Broadway. She is a founding member of Wingspace Theatrical Design, a design collective which promotes collaboration in and fosters larger conversations about design. She also designs lighting for diverse musical acts, from Rosanne Cash to Lila Downs. She is based in New York, but has traveled extensively throughout her career for musical and theatrical performances.
Many of the musical acts Miriam designs for do not tour with their own lighting package, so we discussed how she creates a consistent look for her artists while dealing with very different equipment from day to day. We also discussed her work in theater, including her work on home/sick, an exceptional production from The Assembly. We discussed her design process, as well as some of her recent work as a venue consultant, and got to talk about the business of design, the business of theater, and where to find inspiration.
Check out Miriam's full profile and info on the Wingspace Theatrical Design site. Wingspace offers monthly salons at its space in Brooklyn – check their website to learn more, there is one scheduled for 11/16 which your host plans to attend. Thanks for downloading and thanks for listening!
Nov 15 2015
Rank #13: John Tees: a gaffer and lighting director with a theatrical heart
Sometimes, it just feels right – John Tees started his professional career at the age of 14, and hasn't slowed down since. Over the past 35 years, he's built a career as a gaffer, production electrician, and lighting designer, and that career has taken him all over the world. Today, he splits his time between fashion shows in NY and Miami, corporate events throughout the US, daytime television, and his theatrical home at Second Stage Theater.
When your host Jason Marin and returning co-host Theresa Unfried sat down with John, we discussed his rise through the theatrical world, including summer stock at Monomoy Theater, getting an MFA at the University of Cincinnati CCM, and spending 3 seasons with the North Carolina Shakespeare Festival, both on-site and touring. We talked about his experiences as a gaffer and lighting director in fashion, on television, and for corporate events, and how he transitioned into those jobs from theater. We also discussed his long associations with LD Rob Strohmeier and rigger Mike Sapsis, the changing business of corporate and special events, and the state of lighting technology.
Thanks to John for joining us, and of course a big thanks to you for downloading and listening!
Feb 15 2015
Rank #14: Matt DeLong, a Rosco product manager and much more
Have you ever wondered about how a product goes from an idea in a user's mind or an inventor's imagination to something you can have shipped overnight, anywhere in the world? Join your host Jason Marin as he and co-host Theresa Unfried of TAJ Event Productions talk with Matt DeLong from Rosco Laboratories.
We discussed product development and manufacturing, how users can influence what products and features manufacturers focus on, safety on stage and on set, and the changes in the business that have resulted from increased investment.
We talked about Rosco, its recent merger with GAM, and how they can help designers and technicians solve problems. We also discussed atmosphere effects, how they are developed, and what was done to increase reliability on Rosco's new line of them.
In addition, Matt is an independent lighting designer, and we talked about how he fits that in the schedule along with his work at Rosco and his family.
Oct 01 2014
Rank #15: Mike Baldassari Part 2: theater, concerts, touring, and real estate
Concerts and theater share many things, from the uniquness of any single performance to the dedication of their artists to the techniques used to move them from venue to venue. One other thing they share is Mike Baldassari, who has lit innumerable concerts on tour, on stage, and on film, and has also lit plays and musicals from Broadway to Moscow. In this episode, we discuss Mike's theatrical and concert lighting designs, the touring he's done, and the state and business of show business.
Join your host Jason Marin and co-host Carrie Wood for the conclusion of our interview with Mike. Let us know if you like the multi-episode format for long-running interviews, and be sure to visit Mike's website for even more information about the shows we discuss. Thanks for listening!
Apr 15 2015
Rank #16: Bobby Hale: High End fixtures need high-end solutions
We use complex automated lighting fixtures every day in every segment of the business – but how are they conceived, designed, and built? Bobby Hale, our final guest of Season One and a Business Development Manager for High End Systems, has some answers to those questions. He has been with High End for over 15 years, and was a product manager and engineering operations manager for many of those years. During this episode, we look in depth at High End's new SolaSpot Pro 1500 fixture, the history of High End and some of the innovations they brought to the market, and what Bobby does at HES.
The SolaSpot Pro 1500 is a white light LED fixture which produces 20,000 lumens using a 400w source, creates an excellent flat field with crisp pattern and shutter edges, and generates very little noise. We discussed how it, and other products from HES history, came to be, and what high-output white light LED sources can do for us now and in the future. Join your host Jason Marin and returning co-host Theresa Unfried as we learn about ground-up fixture design, how LED sources can and will replace short arc lamps, and how things work in the design and engineering departments at High End.
Thanks for the great first year – we'll see you back here in September!
Jun 16 2015
Rank #17: Kevin Campbell: 30 years of visuals, from slide projectors to the D3 media server
The difference between a projection design executed with twenty slide projectors and one executed with two HD 10K projectors is huge - or is it? Kevin Campbell has done both and so much more, always pressing technology into use to serve his ultimate purpose: creating mood, atmosphere, light, and artistry with imagery. He sat down with us to discuss his work, what lighting designers need to know about video, and how he learned to think of video as something far more than a means to display a narrative.
Kevin's passion for video visuals has taken him around the world in the last 30 years. He has worked with bands of every size to create imagery and 3D video environments for their tours and one-off performances, with directors to add layers of atmosphere to their theatrical productions, and with event producers to fill parties with psychedelic visuals and light. He has used NASA 3-gun projectors, built VJ rigs to his own specifications, and worked with one of the greatest video artists of them all, Nam June Paik.
Download the latest Casting Light Podcast today, then check out Kevin's work at Videovisuals.tumblr.com – thanks for joining us once again!
Jan 15 2015
Rank #18: Mitchell Bogard: TV LD from Rachael's kitchen to Big Bird's nest
During a career spanning over 35 years, Mitchell Bogard has lit a huge number of television shows, theatricals, and dance performances. His TV work, as both lighting designer and lighting director, has included many well known on-air personalities, including Rachael Ray, David Letterman, and Big Bird. His work has earned him a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Direction for his work with Bill Berner on Between The Lions, and earned him nominations for the same award for Sesame Street (shared with Bill Berner) and Rachael Ray (shared with Alan Blacher).
Join your host Jason Marin and co-host Stephanie Shechter as we sit down with Mitchell to discuss his career, daily operations on a television show, and some of the remarkable things he's done. We talked about how he got an early love for theater and performance from attending Broadway shows, his early career working and touring all over the world with dance companies, and how he spent a summer learning to be a puppeteer. He went on to tell us how he learned how to take what he already knew about lighting and apply it to on-camera work as his career transitioned.
Many thanks to Mitchell for joining us, answering our questions, and holding nothing back. Thanks for checking out our sixth episode!
Nov 15 2014
Rank #19: Shawn Kaufman: from opera to fashion to fixture design
For nearly 20 years, Shawn Kaufman has been creating unforgettable environments on stage and in event spaces around the world. Shawn as been a lighting designer for opera and theater, has run the lighting departments of major production houses, and is now director of CS Lighting, a division of event production firm CS Global. He has never shied away from adopting new technologies as long as they served his purpose, and is now responsible for having created his own LED lighting fixture, the SFK.
The SFK was designed for use by CS Lighting, but is also available for rental and sale to other firms and productions. It was designed to offer the same soft beam pattern as a fluorescent fixture, but with individual control of red, green, blue, warm white, and cool white sources, as well as smooth dimming to zero.
When your host Jason Marin and co-host Theresa Unfried sat down with Shawn, we discussed how the design and manufacturing process of a new unit works. We also discussed what went into starting the CS Lighting division of CS Global from scratch and what Shawn has been able to bring to events from the theater and opera world. Finally, we talked about the value of the arts in our culture and the dangers of supporting only top-end arts presentation.
Many thanks to Shawn for joining us, and thanks to you for downloading and listening!
Feb 01 2015
Rank #20: Seth Bernstein: film shoots, fashion, camera ready events, and video design
Seth Bernstein, photo by Akira Yamada
It's no accident that some events look great when you see photos from them on Instagram. Seth Bernstein brings his knowledge of film and video to every project he designs, resulting in seamless integration and a flawless look both on the pro cameras and on the ubiquitous phone camera. He also uses video as a component in some of his designs, using his experience editing video to create content and to determine how to satisfy his clients.
Seth is a very busy designer, but he found time to sit down with us to discuss his career, work, and what role anthropology can play in creating a successful design. Join Jason and returning co-host Theresa Unfried of TAJ Event Productions as we discuss video and lighting integration, what we should know about cameras, and how Seth makes his projects sparkle.
Many thanks to Seth, and to our fabulous listeners!
Dec 15 2014