Educating a Brighter Future, Part 1

frank dankoMy Journey in Lighting
written by guest blogger Frank Danko

Editor’s note: Mr. Danko was recently at Chauvet HQ for a training session. While here, he shared a quick, yet passionate speech about the benefits of USITT and theater education in general with the group. We were so taken with it that we asked him to write a post as a guest blogger. And here it is…in two parts. Enjoy!

I am not an educator in the formal sense of the word, so please forgive my grammar. However, what I do is certainly educational for those I am fortunate enough to meet in my travels. As the theatrical lighting representative at BMG Hudson Sales & Marketing (NY/NJ), I have the great pleasure to educate customers and colleagues alike on the quality products manufactured by CHAUVET® Professional.  My lessons certainly do not Desks in an Empty Classroomtake place in a classroom, my lessons come alive in offices, theatres, venues and the occasional bar. As lighting professionals, we must be in constant pursuit of knowledge to grow with our industry and further the development of those around us.

Never stop learning.
Many of us have not been in the classroom setting in quite some time, but we remain eager to learn in our professional lives. Through educational organizations, such as the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT), there are wonderful programs for aspiring technicians and seasoned veterans alike. Since 1960, USITT has been dedicated to the growth of our industry and the education of our future technicians. Its commitment to our future has developed new technology allowing our industry to adapt in this ever-changing world. I sincerely hope you were able to attend the recent USITT held in Milwaukee, Wis. I was not able to attend, but it did remind me of my personal journey in lighting; one that I’m proud to share with you in this blog post.

But what do you do?
A few years ago, while hosting a workshop on lighting design for high school students, I was asked, “what does a theatrical technician do?” I have spent the majority of my career working as a technician, but I never asked myself the WHAT question. I thought it was obvious to anyone who has ever seen a show, and so my answer was “We do everything!” The student looked at me sideways and under her breath I could hear her say, “That didn’t answer the question.” In an effort to clarify, I began to list the responsibilities of technicians: we hang, focus and program lights, run cables, call shows, move sets, set microphones, push boxes, hand off props and even dress the talent. I could see she was beginning to understand and like a batten falling from overhead; it suddenly hit me that the WHAT didn’t matter. I never cared what the task was, I was just happy to be a part of something larger than me.

Empty TheaterThe great white dream.
As a young teenager, much like the students who attended my workshop, I was eager to learn. At the time, I never thought of pursuing a career in technical theatre, in fact, I was destined to be on Broadway. Growing up 20 minutes outside of NYC, I was fortunate to attend shows from a young age; naturally I wanted to be on stage. It wasn’t until my high school performing arts director asked me to come to “Stage Crew” that my perspective changed. I walked in the auditorium and there were all of these young people just like me, playing with power tools, painting sets, focusing lights and turning microphones on and off. This was a whole different world and I must admit, it was a bit overwhelming at first. It was quickly made very clear by the senior crew chief—this wasn’t rehearsal, this was work. So I began to work, first by helping push the Genie lift around for one of the upper classmen focusing front of house. I asked questions, I listened and followed directions to the best of my ability. At the end of the day my teacher approached me and asked, “Coming back next week?”  To which I replied, “Absolutely!”catwalk

Soaking up knowledge.
In my junior year, our school bought a new computerized lighting console. It didn’t operate on AMX like our original board, it was a technology called DMX 512-A, one that I was not familiar with. Like any good techie, I started to research this new console and the DMX protocol and discovered USITT. It is responsible for DMX512-A becoming the industry standard in entertainment lighting. While researching USITT, my teacher also informed me of several great organizations like the NYS Theatre Education Association (NYSTEA), Educational Theatre Association (EdTA) and the International Thespian Society. These organizations were working to make theatre education a priority. This seemed important to me, very important. I became involved with NYSTEA because of my teachers involvement and I attended my first event, right in my own school. There were over 100 students from my region who had the same interests as me and I spent the day taking workshops and soaking up knowledge.

Sharing newfound knowledge.
My teacher informed me that USITT would be hosting a conference in Pittsburgh, Pa., later in the year. I asked my parents if I could attend, they were reluctant but took a friend from stage crew and myself to the event. I saw all the exhibits, played with equipment and even programmed my first intelligent fixture. I walked the show floor for hours, met industry professionals and listened intently to everyone I encountered. It was an amazing experience and I couldn’t wait to tell my teacher and classmates about it.

The journey continues. Click here to read part two.
Inspired to learn more? Please feel free to contact me at .


Chauvets honored for JM Family’s AAA | Business & Entrepreneurism

Albert and Berenice Chauvet will be honored for JM Family’s 21st annual African-American Achievers award in the Business & Entrepreneurism category. They join others in a rich history of celebrating those who “unselfishly invest their time and talents toward building a stronger South Florida community.” In preparation for the awards ceremony, held April 18, 2013, the Chauvets participated in a video interview conducted by members of JM Family team which took place in the showroom at Chauvet headquarters.

Below are some behind-the-scenes photos of the video interview shoot.

Chauvets inteviewed in front of CHAUVET® Professional VIP™ video products under a full Chauvet rig.

Chauvets interviewed in front of CHAUVET® Professional VIP™ video products under a full Chauvet rig.

Chauvets getting miked in front of CHAUVET® Professional VIP™ video products under a full Chauvet rig.

Chauvets getting mic’ed in front of CHAUVET® Professional VIP™ video products under a full Chauvet rig.

JM Family crew setting up in front of CHAUVET® Professional VIP™ video products under a full Chauvet rig.

JM Family crew setting up in front of CHAUVET® Professional VIP™ video products under a full Chauvet rig.



CHAUVET® Professional Lights at the Royal Society of Medicine

CHAUVET® Professional COLORado™ Zoom Tour wash lights are part of an upgrade in the new lecture theatre at the Royal Society of Medicine in London, UK. Specified and installed by Northern Lights lighting company, six COLORado™ Zoom Tour fixtures are used as backlights on stage. “We love the control we have over the LEDs, especially being able to change color without fixing gels and to create color washes at a moment’s notice for our clients,” said Kevin McLoughlin, Audio Visual Manager at the Royal Society of Medicine. “Any saving in energy costs is always a positive thing, when we are endeavoring to make the building as environmentally friendly as possible. And although not huge, is definitely a step in the right direction. We do aim to upgrade our lighting in other lecture theatres over the next couple of years.”


CHAUVET® Professional Demos Lights at New York Seminar

CHAUVET® Professional demoed fixtures from the Ovation™ line of theatrical luminaires and from the COLORado™ series of wash lights at the eighth annual Stage Lighting Super Saturday seminar, presented by Sonny Sonnenfeld and Scott C. Parker Jan. 26, in New York City. Stage Lighting Designers Ken Billington and Richard Pilbrow made interesting and Illuminating presentations that engaged the audience.


Redesigning the Chauvet Showroom

With the recent launch of so many new CHAUVET® DJ and CHAUVET® Professional fixtures, the Chauvet team decided it was time to update and redesign the showroom at Chauvet headquarters. The new setup is built entirely of TRUSST® and features nearly 250 mounted fixtures. Here are some photos of the build in progress. Be sure to check back for photos of the completed showroom as well as a complete list of fixtures.


Chauvet Sponsors Live Design Master Classes

Chauvet is a corporate sponsor for Live Design Magazine‘s Concert Master Classes, organized Dec. 3 and 4 in Los Angeles. One topics discussed was the deconstruction of the “Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band” tour by the tour’s Lighting Designer Jeff Ravitz, Lighting Director Todd Ricci and Programmer Jason Badger. Here are some nice photos of the stage, lit by pixel-mapping CHAUVET® Professional Nexus™ 4×4 wash lights, Legend™ 412 moving yokes and COLORado™ 1-Quad Tour fixtures.


COLORdash™ Batten TRI Lights TV Studio in Sweden

CHAUVET® Professional lights the new sports TV studio of C-More Entertainment channel in Stockholm, Sweden. Seventy-four COLORdash™ Batten TRI lights were installed by  Key Light AB and provided by Starfelt Company, CHAUVET® exclusive distributor in Sweden. Lighting Designer Martin Grafström placed the lights inside two curved borders each about 62-feet (19 meters) wide, 1 foot tall (30 centimeters) and one foot deep. The fixtures stand on the double-bracket yoke in the back of the covered edges. Every light is in 24-channel mode with separate addresses, which makes for 1,776 addresses over four universes. Here are some cool shots: