Talking Light – Matt Collier from Brothers Gow

Up and coming LD Matt Collier from Arizona-based jam band Brothers Gow is in the blog today, talking about light, inspiration, and rock and roll with our Customer Engagement and Education Manager, Jim Hutchison. Check it out!

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Jim:  Tell me about Matt Collier the lighting designer.  How’d you get started with Brothers Gow, and how has the journey taken you?

Matt Collier:  Well, Brothers Gow was founded in 2007 in Flagstaff, AZ and I started out helping them on shows more for the free drink tab than anything else haha. But honestly, they started the band in September of that year right after the college school year started. In the beginning I just took pictures and helped load in and out. After we got to the point of having too many sound channels to run from stage, I learned the basics of sound, which spurred my interest in working in live music production.

Thats right about when I saw Phish live for the first time and Chris Kuroda’s show blew me away. I’ll never forget my first show at the Gorge in ’09, and after that I’ve been all about lighting. The feeling that I got when a deep blue would wash over me when they went into a slow section or the beautiful scenes he created that seemed to match the music and intensity of the show perfectly. Those feelings were really my inspiration to be a Lighting Designer. I wanted to be the one to bridge that gap between performer and audience member and put my artistic spin on how I hear music.

Lighting has become my life and I love it. Being able to run lights for my band Brothers Gow every show still is just as fun as it was in 2009. In addition to BG, I’ve also got to run lights for some of my favorite acts, like Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Galactic, Particle, Greyboy All-Stars and Nahko and Medicine for the People. Lighting just suits me I think because I’m very much a hard working, logical based guy (which is good for troubleshooting and rigging/staging) but I also have a creative mind from my photography background. All in all, the journey has been great so far.

What has pushed you to develop new looks while lighting Brothers Gow?  Where do you draw your artistic inspiration?

Being creative in this business is critical to push yourself to become a better LD. In my opinion, finding new looks is important especially when working a lot of shows like I do with Brothers Gow. Switching it up and keeping your design fresh also allows you to see your rig from a different perspective and discover cool new ideas. I watch a lot of lighting videos from many different artists and genre’s, but my influences are Chris Kuroda, Saxton Waller, Luke Stratton and Jefferson Waful. All of those guys run lights for bands that are similar to Brothers Gow so seeing how they interact with the changes in the music inspire some looks or chases I use. Lots of tempo changes, deep grooves and intense climactic moments so being quick on the music changes is crucial.

I like to pull design ideas from all over the place but mostly its cool architecture or art. Im very big on symmetry as are most designers but I just like how it looks when you have everything set perfectly and all the scenes move together fluidly. Its seems to be more organized than an asymmetrical look and I’m more of an organized person I guess. I’ve become a better designer trying to emulate the looks and programming that Phish and Umphrey’s [McGee] have for their live shows. Not trying to copy or steal what they do, but rather teach myself how to create looks like the professionals and run a show like a professional. They must be doing something right if they’re in that FOH position.

What control surface do you use?  When you started out with the band, what was your controller then?

I currently use the Martin M-PC for my controller. I love it and don’t plan on switching anytime soon. I’m pretty inexperienced in running anything other than M-PC so I can’t gauge how much I like other control platforms. Martin M-PC does everything I need as of right now and I’m planning on going up to LA on our time off this summer to take a course and further my programming knowledge. Originally, we started with 6 scanners and a Chauvet Obey-50 DMX512 controller so we have come a long way since then but I’ve stuck with our Chauvet roots cause they continue to evolve and push the limits, just like my lighting and the band.

Can you tell me a bit about how the energy of the crowd impacts your show, be it positively or negatively?  What’s the crowd vibe do for you as an LD?

Being the LD in a packed room is unlike anything I can describe, and definitely takes the show to another level.  The trick is still having that same energy when the show isnt very busy. Putting forth the effort to still run a good show is important even if there isnt a full house because the bands feeds off your energy and lighting and the people in the house still deserve the best show possible for coming out to see the show. If the show isnt too busy I like to try out new FX and color schemes too… but NOTHING compares to a hot sweaty packed house of dancing fools!!

What’s the next technological tool you want to incorporate into the Brothers Gow lighting rig?

Martin just recently release a touch console called the M-Touch that is very affordable at under $1000 dollars. Right now I run my show with a mouse and external monitor so it would be nice to upgrade to a small console but in all reality, Im sure I will be buying more Chauvet Rogue R1’s next. Just ran my first couple shows with them and am very, very stoked on how well they perform.


Check out this second set video from Brothers Gow’s set at the Orpheum Theatre in Flagstaff, AZ:

For more on Matt Collier and Brothers Gow, check out:

The Brothers Gow Facebook Page
https://www.facebook.com/brothersgow

The Brothers Gow Lighting page, Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/BrothersGowLighting

The Official Brothers Gow website
http://www.brothersgow.com/

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Butch Allen, One Story at A Time – Lighting Insights May 2015

To know Butch Allen is to love Butch Allen, and beyond that, there isn’t much that’s left out of his May 2015 Lighting Insights interview! Check it out!

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http://lightinginsights.chauvetproblog.com/butch-allen-barrier-free-lighting/

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Adventures in Lighting with Michael Veerkamp

Do you watch television?  We figured you did…  and you’ve probably seen some of Michael Veerkamp‘s lighting design work in doing so!  Come talk with Michael Veerkamp, creator of Team Imagination, Inc, as he tells us about his life, his lighting world, and some excellent experiences!  Thank you so much for this interview, Michael!

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http://lightinginsights.chauvetproblog.com/adventures-in-lighting-with-michael-veerkamp/

 

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NEXUS and REND COLLECTIVE – March Lighting Insights!

Have you seen Tyler Santangelo rock his NEXUS units out with Rend Collective?  It’s truly a sight to see!

From the March 2015 Lighting Insights article:

When lighting designer Tyler Santangelo decided that floating diamonds would look better than squares on the stage for the Irish Christian experimental group Rend Collective, he simply adjusted the Nexus panels on his rig and created a new look. This was the first (but certainly not the last) time that Santangelo got to appreciate the versatility of the intense COB LED panels from CHAUVET Professional.

As the LD on the Rend Collective tour, which has crisscrossed the globe from Sioux Falls to West Sussex and Manhattan to Budapest, Santangelo has frequently called on the Nexus panels to create new looks to fit different venues and keep pace with spontaneous flow of the group’s performance.

Check it out!

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http://lightinginsights.chauvetproblog.com/nexus-on-the-move-with-rend-collective/

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Stephen Ellison – Understanding LED Theatrical Lighting

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All but unheard of a few years ago, LED technology has clearly made its way into house of worship applications. Like all new technologies, it brings with it not only promise, but questions. We caught up with Stephen Ellison of Stark Raving Solutions to gain insights into the subject of LED theatrical lighting in churches.

Stephen knows whereof he speaks. After receiving a BFA in Lighting Design and Technical Direction from North Carolina School of the Arts, he’s gone on to enjoy a distinguished career in the theatrical lighting industry as a designer, writer and product developer. Since 1999, he has been working with Technologies for Worship magazine, first as a teacher at their trade shows, then later as the production manager for their training pavilions. He has written many articles on lighting for the magazine and is its Lighting Editorial Advisor. He also has written for several other trade magazines about lighting and technical direction. He is now the lighting and stage designer at Stark Raving Solutions of Lenexa, Kansas. For more information visit www.starkravingsolutions.com

Have your clients’ views on LED theatrical lighting changed in the last two years? Yes they are asking for LEDs now more than ever before.

You use the term theatrical lighting, but really the church market lighting is based on two design looks. The first is more concert lighting than theatrical. The second is lighting the pastor for video, which is a white light/no shadows look. In the first look they have embraced LEDs for the range of color from a single fixture. In the second look they are now accepting the available front lights that can provide a quality white light.”

What’s the biggest obstacle to your clients regarding adding LED theatrical lighting to their rigs?

“Money, the cost is more than a traditional fixture with an individual dimmer.”

How would you rate LED fixtures next to traditional theatrical fixtures in terms of throw distance, color temperature and light quality?

“In just the past year to 18 months the LED fixtures have matched the traditional fixtures and even surpassed them. When you are working with a group of tungsten fixtures that have been in place for a few years, you begin to see differences in the output and quality based on when you last changed the lamp and whether or not the fixture was bench focused when the lamps were last changed. With the LED fixtures you do not have the same issue since the lamp will never change and they are factory set for the field output.”

Looking at LED ellipsoidal and Fresnel fixtures, is one of them further along the development curve than the other?

“No, not that I can tell. The Fresnel was probably easier to develop compared to the complexity of an ellipsoidal. Getting the optics right on the ellipsoidal was a challenge. Now they both are functional units being provided by multiple manufacturers.”

As a designer do you have to treat LED theatrical fixtures differently than a comparable traditional fixture? Is is there a difference the degree of the lens that you would use to achieve throw distance? Would you arrange the fixtures differently?

“Yes and no — optically all of the changes were to the lamp assembly and not to the front end optics. A 26° fixture is the same in output optically no matter the lamp source. Placement of the fixtures on the light plot is identical since it is based on the type of fixture and the optics.

“The difference would show up in the cueing of the fixtures if you have a mixed lamp type plot. You would need to match the dimming curve between the fixtures. Also you would have to watch for the shift in color as you dim the fixture; a tungsten light source will shift to the red as it dims. Most LED fixtures do not have this shift so designers who are anticipating this color shift will have to compensate, or compromise. As the LED fixtures take over the market, the younger designers will think this is natural.”

Do you have to adjust the way you use other lights on stage like washes or key lighting when you are using LED fixtures with them?

“Now we begin to look at the dimming curves used in the LED fixtures. The dimming curve in a tungsten fixture is controlled outside the fixture, while the dimming curve for an LED fixture controlled by DMX can provide a multitude of curves based on the software in the fixture. The key is to match the curves in a mixed rig.”

Can you match LED fixtures from different manufacturers and get the same color consistency?

“I have not had much experience with a mixed rig, but I would always try to use only one type of fixture in a lighting system such as back or side light so there would be consistency within the system. Traditionally you are using different colors in the different systems so you are not trying to match colors.”

Are there any theatrical applications where you wouldn’t use LED fixtures?

“Not that I can think of.”

As you said earlier, LED fixtures tend to cost more, so how real are the savings you can expect to get from LED fixtures?

“The savings come in two forms. One is the actual electrical bill. The second is the decrease in fixtures required to light the space. For example, in a theatre I ran we had 3 lighting pipes with 15 pars on each to light 5 areas of stage per pipe to provide a full stage back wash in 3 colors. With LED fixtures you would only need 15 fixtures, a savings of 30 fixtures. Also you can achieve more colors with the LED fixture over 3 fixtures with colored gel.”

Does having LED ellipsoidal and Fresnel fixtures change the way you approach your work as a designer?

“Not at all, it only improves the options and enlarges the available color palette.”

A lot of church services and theatrical presentations are captured on video today. How camera friendly are LED stage fixtures?

“They are just as friendly as the tungsten equivalent at the top end of the dimming curve, and without the red shift they make dimming much more practical.”

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LINKS TO ARTICLES

Emmanuel Baptist
http://www.chauvetlighting.com/paragon360-church-renovation.html

River of Life
http://www.chauvetlighting.com/river-life-church.html

Millwood Baptist

http://www.chauvetlighting.com/millwood-baptist.html

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Joe Paradise and Balancing the Paradox – March 2015 Lighting Insights!

April 2015’s Lighting Insights newsletter is coming out, so make sure you take a last peek at the March 2015 selections from CHAUVET Professional, starting with Joe Paradise a lighting designer’s lighting designer!

Check it out, and more — in March 2015’s Lighting Insights from CHAUVET Professional!

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http://lightinginsights.chauvetproblog.com/joe-paradise-balancing-the-paradox/

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Beyond Watts and Lumens – Daniel Connell, Church On The Move

Wading through all your options when doing a church lighting project can be a daunting task as anyone who’s ever walked through an LDI or WFX show will readily agree. Setting aside brand preferences and some of the more conspicuous performance features, how to you evaluate your lighting choices?

We could think of no better person to help us answer this question than Daniel Connell, the lighting designer at Church on the Move in Tulsa, OK. Widely regarded as one of the leaders in worship technology, Church on the Move has been featured in industry publications like PLSN and Lighting and Sound America. Much of the ink in these stories has been devoted to Daniel’s standout lighting designs.

Prior to joining Church on the Move, Daniel was the LD for a number of major recording stars. His work combines a soaring creative vision with a down to earth sense of fitting his design to specific needs of every event or worship service. We talked to Daniel about some of the things that are often overlooked when churches evaluate lighting products.

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Many, if not most, churches rely on volunteers to run their lighting systems. Should this be a factor in which fixtures you choose fixtures for your church? Are there fixtures that you might select if you had professionals running your rig that you’d avoid if you had all volunteers?

“We are lucky at Church On The Move to have an incredible staff AND an extremely dedicated team of volunteers. This allows us to design systems based on the needs of the room and then staff it accordingly. However, when I’m asked to consult with other churches, my first questions are always about their production team. What levels of experience? If volunteer, how much time do they have outside of running events to dedicate to maintenance? My next questions are about infrastructure. Do they have fly battens? Motorized truss? Lift access onstage? All of these factors should be consider when selecting equipment. I’m a firm believer in equipping volunteers with the tools and training they need to do the job rather than dumbing down a design to fit a lower level of experience.”

Are there any “tricks” to accomplishing the same (or almost the same) results with those “volunteer” fixtures as you can with the ones you’d select for pros?

“We put a great deal of emphasis on proper setup and layout of all of our lighting consoles. A phrase I hear commonly from other churches is “I like console brand “XYZ” because it’s volunteer friendly.” I tend to disagree with this mindset. Although there are definitely consoles that are poorly designed to begin with, I think whether or not a console is “volunteer friendly” depends on how it is setup. When we add a new fixture into any room we spend a lot of time on proper creation or palettes, macros, and effects to support this fixture. Keeping the console well organized makes programming easier for our volunteers AND paid staff.”

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How can you judge how easy or difficult it would be for a volunteer to master a given fixture?

“I worry less about a specific fixture and focus more on the tools we give a volunteer to interact with that fixture. This is another area where console selection and layout is so important. I’ve been a lighting professional for over 20 years but I will occasionally come across a console so confusing that makes me feel like it’s my first day. Picking the right console is important, but getting that console laid out in a clear and organized fashion is even more important.”

Maintenance is another hidden factor. How much attention do you think churches should devote to things like lamp replacement and power consumption when evaluating fixtures?

“Unfortunately at many churches, especially churches new to using production in their services, this is an area that is all to commonly overlooked. Luckily the advancements in LED technology over the past few years have made this much less of an issue. LED isn’t a magic bullet that negates the need for maintenance, but it does decrease the frequency and cost involved. We still use a lot of non-LED fixtures, but on new project designs we always look for an LED option first.”

How about the multi-functionality of fixtures? Should a church try to look for fixtures that can do double duty in a house of worship – for example acting as a house light during services and a color wash during events?

“Getting a wider range of usage out of a fixture can be a really good thing, as long as it does all of the intended functions well. I’ve seen the mistake made of getting a fixture that does a lot of things ok, but doesn’t do any of them GREAT. Sometimes the best choice is to get the fixture that only does one thing for you but is the exact right fixture for your need.”

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Any advice on what to look for when evaluating the flexibility of a fixture?

“It’s a two way street. Sometimes a very “flexible” fixture does a lot of stuff but none of it very well. You have to decide in each situation if you need a multi-use fixture or one that only serves one purpose but does it incredibly well.”

Everyone wants to stretch their budget, but how do you distinguish between a fixture that offers a good value and one that just has a low price that you’ll pay for later?

“Ha ha, that’s getting tougher and tougher. I usually insist on a hands on demo at my facility before I purchase or rent. Beyond that I stick with established manufacturers who have a brand name they want to protect.”

Looking at specific types of fixtures like LED video panels and moving heads, how can a church determine if those types are right for its facility?

“This is a real personal decision for each church. The word “church” can describe so many different types of facilities and organizations now. First, you have to decide if it’s going to help serve your mission as an organization. Second, don’t be afraid to rely on outside expertise to help make those decisions if you don’t have the experience on your team.”

Going back to the volunteer issue do you have any advice for churches on training volunteers?

“Always choose heart and character over experience when building your team. My right hand guy started volunteering when when he was 12 because if the doors to the church were open he would be there. He didn’t amount to much at the time, but now he could easily be the head lighting director at almost any church. Once you have your core team, expose them to outside training. There are great opportunities at conferences like LDI, USIITT, and Infocomm. Also, visit other churches that are doing what you want to do. Learn from those that are already where you want to be.”

Looking at training are there one or two – or three – things that a volunteer should learn to help stretch its lighting budget and get more impact out of its system?

“Simple system upkeep. I’m amazed at how many places don’t know to lamp off arc fixtures, replace lamps at rated hours, or clean air filters.”

Setting product features aside what are the things that churches most often mistakenly overlook when evaluating fixtures?

“Longevity. Will this purchase still be serving us well in two years? Five years? Ten years? Any purchase we make at Church On The Move is expected to last 10 years. Otherwise we look at alternative options.”

Any other advice?

“Don’t be afraid to rent for a period of time before you buy. You may spend more money but it gives you the opportunity to make sure the purchase is the right decision before you commit your churches resources to it.”

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