Even before the unprecedented delay to the 2020 Summer Olympics due to the coronavirus pandemic, NBC and HD Studio knew the sets for Tokyo would take a different approach — channeling a unique combination of environments while still incorporating a sense of global unity through sports — that ended up taking on an even more fitting tone than usual.
“The day we got the call of ‘pencils down’ from NBC was coincidently the same day we delivered files to the fabricator,” said Bryan Higgason, HD Studio’s lead designer and founder, referring to when news began to circulate the Olympics wouldn’t take place in 2020 as planned.
In reality, design and production decisions made months before the word “coronavirus” was ever uttered on TV news heavily drove what viewers would see across TV and streaming in July and August 2021.
Instead, NBC secured the roof of the Hilton Tokyo Odaiba hotel for its signature coverage with Mike Tirico as host. There, HD Studio’s Higgason, along with Sid Wichienkuer and Paul Benson, made plans to install an outdoor “deck” studio.
It’s not hard to see why: The building has stunning, sweeping views of the city skyline, including the iconic Tokyo Tower and Rainbow Bridge — not to mention the floating oversized Olympic rings logo deployed on a barge.
Because of its natural outdoor air circulation, the deck ended up coming in handy as NBC determined how to work within a myriad of COVID guidelines and requirements that evolved as the games drew nearer.
While other broadcasters downsized and removed physical studios from Tokyo, back at the IBC, NBC still took over two large spaces in one of the halls. These spaces, designated Studio A and B, would become the home of coverage on Peacock and Twitter, the two primary streaming avenues NBC leveraged for Tokyo.
While streaming isn’t new to the Olympics, Comcast and NBCUniversal had originally planned to use the games as a springboard to help launch Peacock, but the pandemic ended up seeing the streamer debut without the games. The 5,500 hours of coverage spread over NBCU’s broadcast, cable and streaming outlets meant Studio A and B ended up getting significantly more air time than Olympic sets have gotten in the past with multiple dedicated shows coming from the spaces daily.
The designs at the IBC — and all of NBC’s Tokyo spaces — are centered around a wood-toned “lattice” structure inspired by a blend of traditional and modern Japanese architecture and woodworking elements that were prominent in the city’s presentation during the closing ceremony of the 2018 Olympics in South Korea. Many of the elements are inspired by Chidori, a Japanese toy that is made from wooden rods.
Although real woods couldn’t be used, careful research focused on matching the tones and grains found in traditional native Japanese yew and cyprus.
The lattice also had appealed to Higgason’s team because it has “inherent movement.”
“It looks solid and structural when you’re standing still, but if the camera moves, the layers cause movement from a geometric standpoint,” said Higgason, while also noting he particularly likes the subtly the shifts in perspective bring.
Perspective, Higgason, is especially important during an Olympics held during a pandemic and he’s proud that his team’s work ended up being able to showcase the sportsmanship of the games.
“The Olympics are bigger than just a gold medal. For us to be able to view all of those things, especially at this time, is really, really important,” he said.
Back at the IBC, both spaces were wrapped in these structures while also incorporated seamless LED video walls from Planar and a blend of vertical banners — with parts of the wood grid “skipped” to make room — and internally illuminated boxes filling select spaces.
In other applications, replicas of traditional Japanese lanterns flutter in the breeze, along with furin wind chimes, which traditionally include a slip of paper with well-wishes written on them.
Although the furins on set didn’t have any messages, Higgason noted how the metaphor of positive vibes from around the globe being shared with and from the Olympic family seemed fitting.
Throughout the designs, backlit surfaces with patterns inspired by local art and architecture added in a layer of color — including a vibrant palette that took inspiration from the hues found in aizome (藍染め), an indigo dye that has a rich history in Japan.
Studio A at the IBC for NBC Olympics.
Studio A is capped by a curved halo LED — which draws some interesting juxtapositions to NBC’s former longtime practice of installing a bulky, circular element above its Olympics studios that doubled as a projection surface.
Both IBC studios can be used in a variety of configurations, with talent standing — socially distanced — within the space, seated or presenting from behind “lecterns” fronted with half of a concave curved cutout.
Studio B at the IBC for NBC Olympics.
Whether used separately or together, the cutouts have numerous visual references, evoking Japan’s iconic flag and its status as “land of the rising sun.” It’s also, of course, indicative of the global nature of the Olympics and their power to unify the world — a visual that’s quite literally visible when two of the units are placed near each other.
Splitting the circular element was a bit of a design risk — the team wondered if it could be interpreted as division instead of unity — but Higgason notes there’s always a chance design elements could be viewed in a different way than the team intended.
Instead, his team took the perspective that even if viewers don’t see the complete globe at once, they still make the visual connection in their minds.
“They are unified even if they are separate,” he noted.
Many of these design elements are featured in the network’s other temporary studio as well, which is located near the Hilton. As part of the Olympics efforts to reduce its footprint, the shipping container-sized structure has been used since the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
This structure is home to a dedicated, windowed studio used mainly for NBCSN that features elements of the backlit latticework found back at the IBC — as well as some new takes, including horizontal bands and sweeping, angular patterns. A duo of the globe-fronted lecterns can be found here as well, as well as options for standup and seated configurations.
When planning indoor spaces such as this, HD Studio and lighting designer The Lighting Design Group provided NBC with guidance on how to best place, block and light talent according to shifting social distancing guidelines, which ultimately ended up being one meter from each other (about three feet) while athletes had to be kept two meters (about six feet) from talent, but the competitors could be within one meter of each other.
Another indoor location, located inside a ballroom of the Hilton, serves as an alternate studio for when the deck can’t be used — something that turned out to be a necessity after a tropical storm bore down on Tokyo.
This space includes three vertical video panels set into a wood-toned screened wall along with a simulated “window” created with LED panels along with several other venues, including an interactive touchscreen and standup position that’s been used heavily by Steve Kornacki.
In addition to traditional standing and chair positions, HD also included “benches” on the rooftop deck for both talent and athletes with the flexibility of being able to accommodate different numbers of people without any set changes.
This unique set was also a ready-made canvas for augmented reality graphics, powered by Ross Video’s Voyager solution with rendering via the Unreal Engine and camera tracking from Stype.
The deck also featured 11 real native Japanese bonsai plants on staggered platforms along the main railing. The plants were purchased locally and are outdoor bonsai that get watered every morning.
“We’ve had a lot of people express both great praise and concern over the bonsai,” said Higgason with a laugh, adding they will also be given to locals after the games wrap.
The custom-built deck, fabricated by longtime collaborator blackwalnut, ended up being one of the project’s biggest challenges.
Stay tuned for the next part of our look behind-the-design as we talk about the unique logistics of moving a set around the world and installing it on the roof of a hotel.
NBC Olympics Mike Sheehan, Coordinating Director, Olympics
Atila Ozkaplan, VP Production Operations – Olympics
Dave Barton, Senior Art Director
Lillian Cereghino, Director, Production Operations & Olympic Engineering Coordination
Set Design – HD Studio Owner & Principal Designer – Bryan Higgason
Designers – Paul Benson & Sid Wichienkuer
Lighting Design – The Lighting Design Group Steve Brill – Senior Lighting Designer
Sheryl Wisniewski – Production Manager
Paul Lohr – Venues Lighting Designer
John Reynolds – Senior Venues Gaffer
Dan Kelley – Primetime Lighting Designer
Jon Goss – Primetime Gaffer
Declan Moore – Primetime Board Operator
Nicole Neuwirth – Primetime Lighting Electrician
Geoff Amoral – IBC Lighting Director
Eric Kasprisin – IBC Gaffer
Jeremy Domenick – IBC Board Operator
William Albertelli – IBC Lighting Director
Greg Goff – IBC Gaffer
Ross Blitz – IBC Board Operator
Dan Rousseau – USA Lighting Designer
Sean Linehan – USA Gaffer 1
Patrick Dugan – USA Lighting Electrician
Anna Jones – Daytime Lighting Director
Dave Polato – Daytime Gaffer
Alexis Durso – Daytime Lighting Electrician
Fabrication – Blackwalnut Scenic Shop Supervisors – Frank Bradley, Stephanie Fallone, Jacob Gendelman, Justin Kennedy-Grant, David Krugh, Renato Picinic, Kellie Sgambati, Mike Van Dusen
Project Managers – Christin Donato, Anna Belle Gilbert
Scenic Draftsmen – Jon Arras, Matt Glaze, Anthony Gleason
Scenic Fabricators – Mark Brownsell, Chris Curtin, Gregory A. Dias, Tom Dow, Samantha Fimmano, Andrew Finney, Richard Foresta, Matt Katchmar, Allen Latta, Matt Lauerwald, Tim Martindell, Jose Ronaldo Martinez, Dave Mathason, Frank McCloskey, Don Miller, Daniel Weltler, James Winans, Fallon Ventola
Scenic Field Supervisors – Philip A. Gonzalez, Wyatt Peterson, Rachael Shair
Scenic Field Fabricators – Robbie Sadaka, Ross Sheen, Seb Dobosz, John Pacheco, Ariel “Tiger” Stanley, Luke Wenz, Maria Mae “Panda” Bernal, Edgar Ramos
Display Technology in Studio A – Planar
Planar CarbonLight CLI Flex LED video wall display in a 1.9mm pixel pitch for the halo ring
Planar TVF Series LED video wall in a 1.8mm pixel pitch on the north wall
Planar TVF Series LED video wall in a 1.8 mm pixel pitch on the east wall
2 Planar TVF Series LED video walls in a 1.8mm pixel pitch on the south wall
2 Planar TVF Series LED video walls in a 1.8mm pixel pitch on the west wall
AV Integration – Greg Gerner Inc. Dave “Sparky” Hulings
To reflect on the creative, innovative moments of 2020 and to welcome the hope that the New Year brings, Live Design is conducting 31 Days Of Plots. Every day during the month of December 2020, we will highlight a different lighting design, from across theatre, concert tours, corporate events, and more.
Lighting designer Dan Rousseau of the Lighting Design Group shares the plots for All In with Chris Hayes from Los Angeles on March 2. “Situated in one of NBC Universal’s Sound Stages, we had a blank canvas to work from,” says Rousseau. “We wanted the room to be the background for the broadcast and to help identify that we were in LA on a sound stage. Incorporating large film fixtures, toning the walls, and highlighting architectural features created a dynamic background with depth and drama. The color palette was cool to allow the warm glow of the larger lighting fixtures to pop as well as the talent. A careful balance across the three layers—background, audience, and talent—were important because all three elements could be in a single shot at any time.
The lighting rig was ground-supported with truss towers wrapped around the center point of the stage with an LED wall for graphics. The talent positions constantly changed to accommodate different segments and guests. The host had various standups that shifted his background between scenic and audience. “Careful selection of gear such as framing moving lights was necessary for all the different layouts. LED fixtures allowed for quick changes in color,” he explains. “The entire production had only 36 hours to load in and go to air so quick flexibility was key. The most impressive part of the broadcast was the wide shot where you could take in the whole room and see the scale of the setup. However, the show never felt too ‘big.’ This was achieved by highlighting the audience in the same color temperature as the main talent but allowing them to be a touch lower in intensity so that they didn’t appear flat when layered in with the background.”
Mike Grabowski is on the show by listener request! He’s a Senior Lighting Designer at LDG, a member of Local USA 829, and has lit innumerable projects for broadcast over the course of his 15 year career. We discussed several of those projects, including the intricacies of his work on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest.
Mike was MTV’s Broadcast Lighting Consultant when they did a major overhaul of their Times Square studio, and we discussed that project in detail. We also discussed some of the unusual techniques he used on History’s Forged in Fire and AMC’s Comic Book Men. In addition, Mike revealed how exposure to street performance and busking in his home of Philadelphia connected him with the world of theater and production, and how working as a draftsperson introduced him to parts of the business beyond theater.
Visit his website MTG Designs for more information. As always, thanks for downloading and listening!
For this year’s NFL season, ESPN has created its own “bubble” in New York City leveraging the capabilities of its South Street Seaport facility along with a new rooftop studio space.
“Our shows, especially ‘Monday Night Countdown,’ are usually on the road… with COVID and travel restrictions, that became a difficult challenge,” said Terry Brady, director of remote production operations at ESPN.
With the safety of crew and talent at the forefront, ESPN opted out of traveling this NFL season, instead of creating a new home for the show along with “Sunday NFL Countdown.”
“We were looking for an alternative to bring talent to New York, first and foremost to keep them safe in a quasi bubble and also to showcase New York as the hub of sports,” noted Brady. “We thought it was a really good option to keep the show fresh for the fans.”
Atop the roof of the Pier 17 at the South Street Seaport complex, which includes a public greenspace and restaurant, ESPN has erected a studio with sweeping views of Downtown Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge.
The Pier 17 facility is the normal home for programs including “First Take,” Around the Horn” and “Get Up!”
Filmwerks, who often work with ESPN on their remote productions, created the temporary structure using the Modtruss system, with Jack Morton Worldwide providing the interior scenic design.
Brady notes the final decision on the relocation was made only about 20 days before going on air, setting off a rapid series of events.
“We had a very short time frame,” said Brady. “All our partners and our all our ESPN staff and departments really stepped up. We’re moving forward at a very rapid pace.”
Jack Morton Worldwide was able to design the interior space in only five days, mixing urban design elements found in the seaport with organic materials and finishes found in ESPN’s current NFL branding.
“The new seaport design is a distant cousin of the current NFL studios in Bristol, with similar finishes but an overall brighter tone. The primary goal was to retain as much of the expansive view as possible, while also providing production support space,” said Andre Durette, the principal designer on the project from Jack Morton Worldwide.
“Richly-textured internal walls solved both issues, with a segment of them able to track to reveal more of downtown Manhattan if desired. Additional presentation areas include a one-on-one area with a stand-up monitor, along with three tracking screens to introduce content graphics and sponsorship,” said Durette.
The key piece of the studio is its 360-degree, socially distanced desk which is designed to expand based on the needs of a particular production.
“We chose to shoot that in a round to highlight the vistas of the Brooklyn Bridge, the East River and the skyline of New York City,” said Brady. “But, first and foremost was the protection and safety of our of our team.”
Three PTZ cameras allow for one-shots of talent along with a Steadicam, three traditional pedestal cameras and two jibs, both capable of augmented reality graphics.
The entire 1080p production relies on ESPN’s REMI workflow with control from Bristol using 24 outbound transmission paths and 14 return paths for the studio monitors and feeds.
ESPN has also noted its NBA coverage will utilize the studio for the upcoming NBA Playoffs, with other programs potentially activating the space later this year.
Nicaragua’s Masaya Volcano, which belches toxic gas from its lava lake crater, was aptly named “The Mouth of Hell” by a 16th century Spanish friar. Photo by Steve Brill/LDG
LDG’s Steve Brill puts high wire artist Nik Wallenda and an active volcano in the spotlight for dick clark productions.
Steve Brill of New York City-based The Lighting Design Group got the call. Nik Wallenda of The Flying Wallendas had already crossed on tightrope Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon, among other death-defying feats. Now Nik was training for his highest and longest walk, on a one-inch wire across 1,800 feet over an active volcano. For live TV.
Brill’s first reaction was, “Wow, how the $%# am I going to light a volcano?” Second reaction: “In Nicaragua?” Third reaction: “What an amazing project!” The dick clark productions event, Volcano Live! With Nik Wallenda, was broadcast on ABC TV on March 4, 2020, just before the Covid-19 lockdown. It’s not a spoiler alert saying he was successful. But PLSN is interested in the story behind the story.
Spanning 1,800 feet across the active volcano, Nik Wallenda’s high wire disappears in a miasma of fumes, making lighting a challenge for the live TV event. Filmtrade Equipment Rentals and Musco Sports Lighting provided the gear. Photo: Steve Brill/LDG
A Unique Project
Brill started on the project in December 2019, but pre-visualization could not accurately render something this huge, so he trekked to the volcano for a site survey. The Masaya Volcano is a hot tourist destination. Just 14 miles outside of Managua, Nicaragua, it’s got its own website with live webcams, a cell phone app and top ratings on Tripadvisor. It’s also got its own official title: “The Mouth of Hell.” A 2,000-degree lake in its crater bubbles with molten lava, churning out clouds of toxic gases with a sulfurous stench “a whole lot worse than rotten eggs,” Brill says. Because of poisonous fumes, visitors are restricted to a 10-to-15 minute window of time near the crater. But it doesn’t stop the vortex of vultures circling the scene.
Some observers of the stunt, including these volcano vultures, were disappointed with ABC’s safety harness mandate.
A volcanologist was brought in early to certify that the ground’s stability. Some locations were not permitted. Major equipment constraints were weight and power. They needed to go as big as possible. Every lighting position needed a generator and a backup, and it all required fuel. Yet the fixture type chosen would be dictated by the logistics of getting it to the location.
Brill carried a few fixtures to test how they would take light through the “never-ending gases and smoke.” There was lots of calculating and recalculating. Aided by precision rangefinder binoculars to measure distance to a target, Brill could determine the huge throw from possible fixture locations.
Because of all the drones and fixed camera positions, the team determined the need for 360 degrees of lighting. “The ground around Masaya is unstable, so there were many weight calculations. The last thing we wanted to do was to dump a Musco truck or an 18k HMI into an active volcano,” Brill notes.
Challenges required off-the-chart decisions. “How much light do you get from an 18K HMI at 1,800 feet while shooting through a dense cloud of sulfur dioxide gas?” Brill asks, amused. “I couldn’t find any chart that would tell me that! We calculated as best we could, created a scale light plot using Google Earth, and had to trust our instincts.”
The first big consideration was Nik. The aerialist needed to see the tightrope while cameras needed to see him. “I understood the need to keep the light out of his eyes, so we kept all fixture positions at least 30 degrees off his line of sight. He is putting his life on the line here.”
With no way to accurately focus the lights, they had to trust calculations and estimate. “Try to find somebody to go out on the tightrope with a light meter to aim these fixtures!” Brill jokes.
The LD chose three 18K HMIs as “followspots.” “An 18K on full spot at 1,800 feet produces around 15 foot candles of light,” Brill explains. “To compensate, and to give us a margin of error, every area was lit with multiple fixtures.”
The second consideration was: how to light the volcano. Each side measured roughly 1,800 by 600 feet, or more than a million square feet. Multiply by four sides, and they were tasked with lighting over 4 million square feet of surface area.
Showcasing the active lava lake — which is “not as bright” as one would think — was another balancing act, creating a bright enough image for the cameras to make level without overwhelming the image of the lava. They also wanted to light the volcano walls to bring out the natural beauty of the rock.
Finally, lighting was needed for safety. This New Yorker wasn’t prepared for a nighttime sky with no light pollution. “It is a darkness I had never seen before,” he says. “You couldn’t see five feet in front of your face. We needed to ensure the lights would stay on no matter what. Our system was designed with six distinct locations, each with a separate power source and backup. If we lost any one source, we would still have light, on and off air.”
In the end, they specified more than 100 HMI fixtures, ranging from 6Ks on a Musco truck to 12Ks on Condors and 18Ks on crank-stands to cover all their bases.
LD Steve Brill
From Load-In to Live Event
With plots finalized by the end of January, the gear shipped early February. It traveled by truck to Miami, by boat to Nicaragua, and trucked again for a seven-hour trip over land to Masaya. Access was a major issue. In the rugged area, little could be hand-carried.
Lava, toxic gases and weather forced “The King of the High Wire” and the crew to wear goggles and a mask. “We had planned to focus lights on three consecutive evenings, but on one night the wind was so strong we couldn’t see anything to focus on. Remember, we were trying to focus on the far side of the volcano, 1,800 feet away. There was no way to accurately focus on the wire, so we had to use our best judgment.”
And then the wire walk started. During those breathtaking 31 minutes and 23 seconds, Brill had his usual worries during any live broadcast. He worried about the stability of the installation. But his biggest worry was Nik. “There was no rehearsal,” the LD explains. “Once we saw him on the wire, I breathed a sigh of relief. He looked great. Of course, not as big a sigh of relief as when he hopped safely off the wire at the finish!”
Brill gives credit to his “absolutely amazing” team who worked very hard under extremely difficult conditions, without complaint, and with a wonderful sense of humor. Key players were lighting directors Paul Lohr and Anna Jones, Gaffers Jon Goss and Stephen Alain, Best Boys John Reynolds and Michael Mustica, Musco’s Jerome Crookham and production lighting coordinator Mike Kemp. “Of course the dick clark productions team was also amazing. Everybody was just great to work with.”
No word on what Wallenda will conquer next.
Onsite at Masaya with LD Steve Brill and his crew, taking a goggles and mask break when the wind blew the other direction.
Vice President of Design Dennis Size was up early this morning, lighting Alicia Keys’ performance for New York’s essential workers, live on ABC’s Good Morning America from the Skyline Drive-In in Brooklyn.
During this challenging period of time, LDG would like to announce that we are now offering Remote Home Studio Consultations.
Our company has a long history of home, office, and streaming set ups, in addition to our years of creative solutions for remote broadcasts. Our designers are now ready to remotely help you find the best lighting solutions for your current broadcast situations. We offer simple broadcast consultation, helping you to discover the best framing, background and what lighting options are available -from what’s around to a more extensive setup.
Let’s talk about what solution works for you and how to make your space look the best it can be. We are all in this together, and we are ready to lend a hand. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo of Team LDG onsite in Masaya, Nicaragua: (From Left to Right) Mike Kemp, Anna Jones, John Goss, Steve Brill, Paul Lohr, Mike Mustica & John Reynolds
NEW YORK – Millions of viewers welcomed 2019 by watching Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest. They saw stars like Christina Aguilera, Bastille and New Kids On The Block welcome in the New Year on the Midnight Countdown Stage, a surprisingly small open structure perched over the one million celebrants who crowded every inch of Times Square. They also watched in anticipation, as they do every year, as the giant ball dropped from atop One Times Square at midnight.
What these viewers didn’t see very much of, though, were the fire egress routes located throughout Times Square. Put in place by NYPD, these passages are essential security measures, but their empty space and utilitarian guard rails don’t make for compelling television. In the past, their presence limited the number of wide camera shots taken from the Midnight Countdown Stage, but as 2018 turned to 2019, the Lighting Design Group came up with a way to block the lanes from view with the help of 12 CHAUVET Professional COLORado Solo Batten fixtures, supplied by WorldStage.
“Most viewers at home don’t realize there are so many egress lanes all over Times Square,” said the Lighting Design Group’s Mike Grabowski. “The show had to be very careful about going to wide shots, since all you would see were railings and empty egress streets. This presented a challenge, because the wide shots could provide a very helpful change of scenery in a show that goes from 8 pm until after midnight.”
As the lighting designer of the Midnight Countdown Stage, Grabowski was looking for a way to address this issue. He found it when he saw a video of the COLORado Solo Batten. “I felt they were unique for a strip-style fixture, since they appeared to create a single bar of light without individual pixels showing,” he said. “I thought this would be rad eye candy!”
Being smaller than conventional strip lights, the new COLORado Solo Batten fixtures could also fit on the Midnight Countdown Stage’s railings. This allowed Grabowski to create “a dynamic lighting element that fit the aesthetics of the broadcast while blocking out the view of the egress lanes with their light.”
In addition to solving the issue of the visible egress lanes, the COLORado Solo Batten added a new visual twist to the show’s lighting, according to Grabowski. “They are very cool looking, and something never seen before,” he said. “I believe we are the first to use these fixtures in a national broadcast application.”
Being part outdoors and part indoors, the Midnight Countdown Stage creates challenges dealing with the elements, which is something that made Grabowski appreciate the IP65 rating of the new RGBAW batten. “The hardest component of this project is that it is both inside and outside,” he said. “Inside is pretty straightforward, but outdoors creates an added complication. The outside is fully exposed to the elements, and that’s never predictable. Last year was the coldest New Year’s on record, and this year was the wettest. With LEDs in particular, weather rating becomes wildly important, because both cold and wet can cause failures. We had no issues with the COLORados.”
Blocking egress lanes from view and contending with the elements were only two of the issues that Grabowski had to deal with New Year’s Eve. “You have to achieve a balance when designing for this type of stage,” he said. “It’s the balance of cramming as much dynamic energy and fun into a small stage, while still making talent look beautiful. Overall, a lot of it is driven by energy and motion — wanting to have things constantly moving, but also finding ways to give us a place to go with it. You can’t be full throttle the entire time!
“The other key thing to keep in mind during the design process is that this stage is seen in wide shots, so we have to make a presentation for the various roof and helicopter shots. Our design also had to be big and dynamic enough to be able to be seen from 10 blocks away, or 10 floors away.”
Pulling all of these design elements together required a team effort. Grabowski praised the work of his colleagues Wolfram Ott and Jeremy Dominik, associate designers; Ron LaValle Inside IATSE Head; Joseph Cartagena Outside IATSE head; Ryan Phillips Outside Programmer; Steve Garner Inside Programmer; and David Cook Lighting PM.
“There are a lot of moving pieces that have to come together to make something like this work, starting with people,” said Grabowski. And this year an innovative new fixture too.
LOS ANGELES — June 11, 2018 — Litepanels today announced that Lighting Design Group (LDG), a global leader in television lighting design, chose Litepanels’ new Gemini LED soft panels for international broadcast coverage of the May 19 wedding of Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Under contract by several major news organizations, LDG relied on 12 Gemini panels to light the networks’ temporary sets overlooking Windsor Castle in London.
“We have been using Litepanels products for years, and they’ve given us consistent and reliable service. We keep coming back to Litepanels products for a wide range of lighting applications,” said Niel Galen, senior lighting designer, Lighting Design Group. “Gemini is a welcome addition to the world of LED soft lights. Its lighter weight and smaller form factor were big plusses for this shoot because we had very critical weight restrictions for the install given the age of the building.”
Launched at IBC2017, Gemini raises the bar for professional lighting by delivering a wide, soft, and flicker-free light source in a highly portable 2×1 form factor. Gemini’s flexible and precise color adjustment removes the need for color correction by offering full-spectrum white light that is ideal for lighting talent and rendering exceptional color.
In London, LDG used the Gemini in a lighting solution for the networks’ temporary broadcast booths, which were located directly adjacent to Windsor Castle. The Gemini soft panels worked in tandem with traditional HMI lighting to match daylight lighting conditions on the sets, from which the networks broadcast live morning shows and prime-time newscasts on May 18 and 19.
“In our lighting design for the wedding coverage, we were going for a very pleasing soft, but also sparkly, light,” Galen added. “The Geminis were an important component and performed beautifully. They provided a fantastic soft base with strong and consistent output, which can be difficult to find with other fixtures, and their comparatively low power consumption was a big help since we were running off generator power. We’re always leery of using products that we have not field-tested, but the Geminis worked exactly as expected, with no surprises. And no one wants surprises during live network news coverage!”
With the approach of the U.S. midterm elections, Galen sees an expanded opportunity to use the Gemini soft lights for on-location news coverage. “The lighting we’ve done in the past for political coverage, at events such as debates and town halls, involves slightly smaller platform configurations and fixed lighting that’s closer to talent — with locations that usually involve covered stages with at least one wall open to the outside. There are also wide variations in lighting intensity since these events happen at all hours of the day and night. The Geminis will be the ideal solution for providing bright, soft illumination at any intensity, giving us the ability to maintain color temperature and output without having to supplement with HMIs.”
“As one of the world’s premier lighting designers for broadcast, LDG is a valued customer — and their adoption of the Geminis for this high-profile media event, without much testing ahead of time, speaks volumes about their faith in our products,” said Alan Ipakchian, technical sales manager, Litepanels. “We’re looking forward to seeing what LDG will do with the Geminis moving forward, especially for election coverage and other national and international news broadcasts.”