1. How did you get into this field?
My dancer girlfriend asked me to run a spot for a show she was in. No seriously, I started acting in community theatre back in high school while living overseas, and then took an interest in technical theatre.
I started working as an IA stagehand while attending college, and then went to work for FM Productions in San Francisco as a production electrician. Then I worked under several lighting designers doing corporate theatre in between working as an scenic automation motion control technician on several major rock & roll tours during the 80′s and mid 90′s. I founded Seeing Eye Lighting design in 1992.
2. What do you think is the next big thing in the lighting industry?
Quality and powerful LED spill-controllable lighting fixtures capable of delivering video broadcast acceptable color temperature (or LED spotlights with shutters). Real warm tungsten-like household LED bulbs that will revolutionize household lighting worldwide.
3. Do you have a favorite fixture?
Several. CHAUVET® SlimPAR™ 38, of course. The full line of Chroma-Q Color Force LED fixtures. Martin Mac 101- 301, and now Aura, LED moving head family. Vari-Lite 3500 spot. Martin’s MAC 2000 wash XB series. [Edit: Perhaps CHAUVET® COLORado™ 1-Tri Tour has made this list after Dreamforce event.]
4. What has been your favorite design/project?
Most recently, Apple Retails Sales meeting at the Chicago Theatre.
5. What was the biggest unforeseen obstacle that you’ve faced in one of your designs, and how did you overcome it?
Time, space, content and talent changes. Many of the clients I work with depend on keeping their launches and new products under wraps, which often includes not disclosing what their product is, or will look like or how it will be revealed until I get on-site. Many of these events also include surprise celebrity guest appearances that we are often not told about until right before the event. Added to these unforeseen challenges, come the others like limited trim heights and sets that tend to try to exceed them. These are some of my biggest challenges.
My most useful tool to help with this and compressed load in time—aside from hand picking the best crews available—is to use pre-visualization services like those provided by Prelite. Prelite provides systems that can be used on-site prior to or during load in that can model both scenic and lighting rigs into a virtual environment that the LD and programmers can then use to focus, isolate airspace challenges and preprogram much of the show before the actual rig is ever fired up.
6. Complete this thought: A show without light is like…Is like a planet without water.