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Articles May-June 2021

Pursuing the Pro Audio Trail

In conversation with Caroline Moss and Sue Gould

PT got in touch with the Pro AVL Asia magazine core team of Editor - Caroline Moss and Sales Director - Sue Gould, who between them boast of over three decades of experience in the pro audio industry..... read more

NJSM Marks a Milestone in the Business of Sound

From Rental Company to manufacturer and innovator, Nixon Johnny has guided and grown NJSM from a two-person company to a fifty-person company, continuing to expand into virtual events with NJSM Virtual Studio..... read more

Tech Savvy Environment for T-Systems

Eyte Technologies installs high-tech AV Solution at T-System’s Experience Center facilitating brand value and delivering superior customer experience..... read more

Conversations with SudeepAudio

Sudeep Audio, one of India’s first pro audio web store selling studio software and equipment online commenced its YouTube Channel, ConverSAtions, in 2011 to share the journey of Indian Sound Engineers..... read more

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Old Loves

‘Z’ is the last letter of the alphabet, and yet so many lighting equipment models that are considered breakthrough have a ‘Z’ in their name.

Leading from the rear, so to speak.

So what is it that manufacturers are working so hard to top each other?

The usual barometer is to make a fixture brighter, lighter, smoother and carry more and more features. Features that compete with fixtures from a range of manufacturers.

That got me thinking on what are the features I would covet in a fixture. What kind of feature would make a fixture my personal favourite? Now that I think about it – all of the fixtures I loved were phased out as quickly as I discovered the joys of working with them.

What was it about the fixture that drew me to it? Why was that fixture not widely adopted?

I can recall I loved the concentric ring fitting that you put in front of any Fresnel lensed fitting that gathered the light into a beam. Making any Fresnel into a blurred follow spot almost. Swinging a 2000 watt Fresnel like a follow spot was unwieldy and took a lot of physical strength (as far as I know); nobody made a swivel head for a 2000 k beast. I have seen the concentric rings on a 5K Fresnel but never actually used it in my shows.

It was a great fixture to play with. In the old days (before truss) when we mounted our lights on scaffoldings it was easy to put a lighting rigger (secure on a chair amongst the lights and subtly refocus part of the rig during the shows. I’d seen this fixture used in a great West End production of Martin Guerre – at that time the most expensive musical mounted, by the team that had produced Les Miserable. Sadly Martin G did not do as well, but it remains one of my favourite musicals partly because of its amazing lighting plot.

Then I loved the colour labs. One of the original DMX lighting fixtures that just sent simple 250 watt beams, but through chroma filters (breakthroughs of the day) so none of the light was eaten by the filter. Today most fixtures use chroma filters (Not the LED ones). The bright almost Neon textures a huge stand out from the more muted colours from transmission gels use on pars. I would have loved to use chroma gels on pars, but the very nature of chroma gels would have made them melt under the glare of a decent par.

Which brings me to my favourite light to date – The simple Par 64. About as simple and versatile a fixture as it can get. And, most reliable.

To date – nothing can replace the throw and ‘HIT’ of a par. Trouble is – as concert lighting metamorphosised into stadiums the ‘Par Look’ was looked upon as yesterdays ‘Concert Looks’ and just could not find a space within all those beams throwing themselves around.

In fact if anybody here recalls watching Michael Jackson live at Andheri Stadium, maybe you will remember the great Roy Burnett lighting all the new songs with ‘Modern Lights’ and all the retro textured songs were lit almost exclusively with Pars in the most amazing Gels and shades.

After a particularly beautiful stage production I had the opportunity to meet one of the greatest lighting designers in the world who asked me the most profound questions, ‘Why do Moving Lights have to move?” Only then did I realise that while the rig in the show was full of moving lights, we did not SEE a single light move in the show. In blackouts the fixtures changed colours, gobos and positions. Those same set of moving lights moved only in a blacked out stage to open up to at least a hundred different looks without anybody seeing the change. Genius to me. Unnoticed to almost everybody else.

Concerts today are all about a million lights flying off in all directions. It looks wow. And I marvel at the technology of controlling all those lights with and without visible cables. Respect.

At the recent World Cup Hockey Opening ceremonies we saw far more lighting dribbles and pushes than the hockey field will ever hope to see through the tournament. I was looking at the display with envy.

A day later I was walking past an exhibition of some theatre photos I had the joy of lighting years ago. A family walked past. The mother stopped abruptly and spontaneously exclaimed the name of the show. She grabbed her kids and brought them to the photo and excitedly pointed the photo out.

‘Remember that scene of that play I go on and on about......that’s it. That’s the play. That’s the scene. She then pulled out her camera and unselfconsciously got her kids to pose next to the photograph as a memory.

As she was gushing on about relieving that experience of years before, the people I was with encouraged me to go up and get some credit for the photo. Being a retiring lighting designer happy to skulk in the shadows, I could not bring myself to do it. The lady walked away surrounded by her memories. Little knowing how happy she had made me. The usual under-appreciation that all of us on the ‘Dark side of events and theatre’ have had to live with.

That is the seed of this article. Not one of the fixtures or gels used in that production of barely 10 years ago is still in use today. I am left wondering what are the technical gimmicks that have replaced that set of equipment.

And then I look at the photos of last week’s shows. Of course they are not as spectacular as the Hockey opening ceremony, but they seem to have attracted a decent number of likes on social media (If that can be considered a measure). Of course it would be great if a few years down the road someone will recall that image and identify it with the show they saw last week.

I guess what I am leading to is the inevitable learning of time. Things change. As a professional it is our job to stay on top of things for as long as we can.

Fall in love with equipment but be ready to move on. Fortunately equipment is not like wives. Advantage of wives – they can grow with us. Advantage of Equipment – when you discard the units, it may be just as emotional as abandoning a wife - but at least you don’t have to pay alimony!

The lesson here is to cherish the equipment we have to play with. Understand it and make it do everything it can possibly doing its short life span. That way when it is time to retire it, we can do so with respect and know that we got the most out of every bit of equipment while we could.

It will also open so many doors as you realise its inevitable short comings so you can in tune your search for a replacement.

That of course leads to another famous saying. Keep your eye in the future but keep your foot in the past.

(The views expressed by the author are his own personal comments and the magazine does not subscribe to them).