CHAUVET® Professional fixtures rocked on stage next to Blue Öyster Cult, during a fiery performance at The NAMM Show 2013. Blue Haze Entertainment lighting company of Los Angeles specified CHAUVET® Professional SparkliteLED™ Drape tricolor LED star field drape, COLORado™ Range and COLORado™ 1-Tri Tour wash lights and COLORdash™ Batten Tri linear fixtures.
Six questions with Andrew Strain, lighting designer and owner of Blue Haze Entertainment, a full-service lighting design and production company in Huntington Beach, Calif.
1. How did you get into this field?
I have always wanted to work in the industry. I went to a performing arts high school and I attended the classes at the Academy for the Performing Arts in Huntington Beach. I did my first show when I was 15 — it was a chorus line, and I was the followspot operator. Among the types of designs I do are musical theatre projects, themed parks, architectural and special events.
2. What do you think is the next big thing in the lighting industry?
I think it would be a great thing if more people used ArtNET and Ethernet-based DMX distribution without a DMX cable. It is much faster and transfers more info. Also, I would like to see an evolution of quad LED, more power-efficient LEDs and no more “skittles”-looking fixtures.
3. Do you have a favorite fixture (and why)?
I like the COLORado™ 1-Quad Tour from CHAUVET® for its light ambers, light pinks, and its popularity for TV, film and special events.
4. What has been your favorite design/project?
We had this project at the Paramount Pictures studio lot, which turned out to be one of the few designs where we could show off all the colors in the fixtures. We used 58 COLORado™ 1-Tri Tour static wash lights and 40 COLORdash™ Batten Tri linear wash lights from CHAUVET® Professional, at the opening of Technicolor at Paramount post-production sound facility at the Paramount Pictures studio lot. These are also flicker-free, so it worked out well with the camera.
6. Complete this thought: A show without light is like…
… my motto: life is too short for boring lighting.
CHAUVET® Professional booth displayed amazing new fixtures and welcomed various distributors at this year’s PLASA show. See how people mingle with lighting:
Yes, I am a woman. And I do love shoes — it’s embedded in our DNA. What do shoes have to do with lighting? A lot actually; in my case, at least. To give you a brief background, I started working for CHAUVET® as communications specialist about a year ago and knew nothing of lighting, but a lot about shoes. Since joining I have experienced trade shows, lots of training sessions—learning from the best in the industry who work here at CHAUVET®—and hours of researching the industry on my own. I have been a rather geeky person all my life, so learning has been a pleasant experience. I do know what pixel mapping is, how to address a video panel, the definition of a lumen and more.
Does all of the above give me the right to fancily talk about lighting? Definitely not. Does that give me the right to admire and hunt for them? Yes it does. Because I simply love lighting—in my own primitive way. (And so do you, if you are reading this.) Novices or experts, we all have the virus. In my case, I realized I was irreversibly ‘infected’ when about six months ago I started looking for CHAUVET® lights in venues and at concerts more than I was screening for cute guys. Now I am fully contaminated and I love it. Those Manolo Blahniks might shine a couple of times on my feet, but lighting is forever, in my heart. [Awww, cheesy I know, remember I am still a woman?]
Now that I have hopefully convinced you of my good faith and valid reasons for writing this, you should read about my trip to Los Angeles. Which wasn’t just a trip. As I discovered, it was a true “LightQuest.” I have to confess I was lucky enough to be guided by someone with far more experience than I have in the industry. Just like Don Quixote and Sancho Panza in their quest to revive chivalry in the 17th century, I had the guidance of our U.S. Business Development Manager for CHAUVET® Professional and ILUMINARC® John Dunn (Don Quixote), who walked me (Sancho Panza) through this “LightQuest.”
Our first stop blew me away. I had the opportunity to visit Stage 12 at Universal Studios, which houses the set of a major televised singing competition with franchises in more than 40 countries worldwide. Also, I had the honor to meet and to interview the lighting designer for this amazing show: Oscar Dominguez. I had read about Oscar’s involvement with this show in a very interesting interview done by PLSN magazine, but talking face-to-face was a totally different thing. The rig was overwhelming. I was surprised by its scale, not to mention the hundreds of CHAUVET® lights that are part of it. I found out after, movies like “Dracula” and “Frankenstein” were filmed in the same Stage 12 at Universal Studios.
While walking at Universal Studios a big poster promoting “American Ninja Warrior” sports entertainment competition immediately caught my attention. Why? Because 225 CHAUVET® lights were on that show, specified by Lighting Designer Ed Motts. The cherry on the cake was actually meeting Ed and having the opportunity to ask him details in person. Listening to him passionately talking about lights and latest industry news, I realized he is one of the many lighting designers who make lighting their lives, and not just a job.
I had another pleasant surprise while checking out City Walk, also at Universal Studios. Known for his mixing of music and video, DJ Roonie G was performing on a stage equipped with 60-plus CHAUVET® lights, of which I spotted COLORado™ 3p IP and COLORado™ 1 IP lights.
I spotted more CHAUVET® fixtures lighting a store entrance at Disney BoardWalk, and washing the walls of the Disneyland Hotel. Lights from the CHAUVET® ILUMINARC® brand color the trees in front of the hotel, and more create colorful effects underwater, in a pool at the resort.
What really added to my timid knowledge of lighting and gave me a better perspective on the industry, were the various dealer visits. I was lucky to meet some of the wonderful people we work with who literally keep the lights on.
Impressed by the size of the warehouse at Kinetic Lighting, I touched color gels for the first time (after only reading about them). It was interesting to see how these are still in use, when LEDs give an array of color choices without the need of gels. Owner of Kinetic Lighting David Rosen had just organized an open house, and I could still spot CHAUVET® lights on the floor.
In San Diego, Brad Donaldson with Pro Systems Event Solutions told me about some great projects he had just worked on, using CHAUVET® fixtures: Sun God Festival 2012, Dayglow show, Steve Aoki performing at the Hard Rock Hotel in San Diego, and more. At N-Effects Productions, Kris Plourde passionately showed me some of his spectacular designs for prom events. I remember the “Orangetopia” project at a high school night that we actually wrote about a little while ago. Kris put together a full production complete with DJ, video walls and a three-minute confetti drop.
Last but certainly not least, I had the pleasure of meeting the creative team at Blue Haze Entertainment. They were recently involved in a massive project at Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio, where they specified hundreds of our lights. No books and online research can give the insight one would get just listening to these professionals discussing lighting.
I was under the impression I accumulated so much information during my year at CHAUVET®, but it took this trip to teach me that I had only touched on the tip of the iceberg. While I am not a big fan of cold weather or water, I am ready to dive in and go deeper. Who knows if this iceberg has a limit?
To seal the LightQuest, on my way to the airport John pointed out a Toyota dealership displaying a car lit by CHAUVET® lights. Perhaps not as glamorous as the television studio, but the message was clear: our lights are everywhere …