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Articles September - October 2023

Capturing The True Essence Of Sound New!

From Lewitt Audio's Pure Tube Microphone to Sennheiser's Profile USB Microphone, these studio microphones offer precise audio quality to the users and deliver crisp, clear sound. read more

Articles September - October 2023

Photo Feature: Studio Showcase New!

From A.R. Rahman's studio in Mumbai to composer Raag Sethi's first Dolby-compliant studio in Gujarat, PALM Expo Magazine's Studio Showcase features the latest studios in India. read more

Articles September - October 2023

Mastering The Art Of Sound With Donal Whelan New!

Whelan talks to the PALM Expo Magazine Team and discusses his foray into the world of mastering, his unique experience at the PALM Conference 2023, and more. read more

Articles September - October 2023

Nx Audio Celebrates Two Decades Of Pro Audio Journey New!

Nx Audio completes 20 years of delivering pro audio products for the Indian pro sound industry. Read about Nx Audio's journey over the last two decades. read more

Articles September - October 2023

Mumbai Studio Explores New Verticals With Genelec Monitors New!

The combination of Genelec Smart Active Monitors and digital audio interface delivered an ideal monitoring solution for BOING Recording Studios. read more

Articles September - October 2023

IRAA Awards 2023: Jury Reflections New!

Read about IRAA Jury's perspective on the bigger questions in the music industry - AI for music production, the status of mega consoles, & emerging trends in sound recording & mixing. read more

Articles September - October 2023

Gray Spark Audio Opens New Studio For Academy Students New!

PALM Expo Magazine Team talks to Ronak Runwal to explore how the newly-designed Studio D is poised to become a recording haven for the academy students. read more

Articles September - October 2023

Firdaus Studio: Building A Sonic Paradise For Recording Artists New!

The Firdaus Studio by A.R. Rahman stands as a beacon of innovation in the music production industry. PALM Expo Magazine explores the making of the musical maestro's magnus opus in the recording landscape. read more

Articles September - October 2023

Naveen Deshpande Elevates Stand-Up Comedy with Bespoke Lighting Designs New!

Naveen Deshpande, a renowned lighting designer, made heads turn through his recent collaboration with India's leading stand-up comedian, Zakir Khan, during the latter's international tour. read more

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THE LIGHT FACTOR - Interview with Harold Fernandes

A leading lighting designer, Harold Fernandes has been offering creative and technical solutions for live stages for almost two decades and has comprehensive knowledge and experience on some of the most famous stages. Following his recent appearance as lighting designer for the AR Rahman US Tour 2018, PT got in touch to find out how he has gotten to where he is today, and share his perspective of the lighting industry trends and technologies.

Harold Fernandes has spent close to two decades working with light and designing luminaires. He is rarely restricted in his art. Starting his career by designing simple corporate events, he slowly progressed into large-scale shows like Live / Telecasted Awards Nights, Music Concerts and Festivals, Touring Concerts, Stadium Shows, Ceremonies, Special Events etc. He was also involved in the lighting design for the sets of some of the very early episodes of the Indian television game show – Kaun Banega Crorepati, based on the British program, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

His journey in the lighting industry goes back to 1998, when he was a Technical Sound Assistant at Super Rhythms where he found himself drawn to the artistry behind the lighting of live stages and sets. “I joined Super Rhythms (A Mumbai based audio company owned by Benny Mathews) as a Technical Assistant in Sound. I literally started from down the ranks and worked hard to learn and grow. The company had decided to invest into lighting gear and ventured on to purchase intelligent lights (Scanners) and some other conventional lights. I was intrigued and captivated with the mesmerizing lighting effects, colors and the impact lighting could create during a live show. The ability to change the entire ambience, emotion, focus of the stage from a lighting desk made me eager to get on the console to learn this art. This was the start of my career in lighting and there has been no looking back from then on,” says Harold.

Enamored by the lighting desk, he went on to light several prestigious shows and artistes. Highlights of his career include lighting the stage for A R Rahman, Santana, Lionel Richie, Back Street Boys, RED Fest 2018, Etisalat Pro Football League final, IIFA Awards, Creamfields (UK) and Southport Weekender (UK), to name just a few.

For those less familiar with Harold Fernandes, he is also the recipient of the TPMea 2018 Awards for Best Lighting Designer in the Middle East and Africa region. “Winning the TPMea 2018 Awards for Best Lighting Designer in the Middle East and Africa region is definitely an affirmation of my hard work and dedication,” he says.

After a career opportunity at Dubai based event production company – MediaPro AV presented itself in 2010, Harold moved to Dubai, and has been at MediaPro ever since as Technical Director. “MediaPro believes in employing the best in the business. My role here is to look at the bigger projects across all the branches, not just in lighting but overall and deliver a good visual experience to the client and audience.”


Of all the live stage production disciplines, lighting is probably the least tangible. So how does he go about it? “Light Designing is an art and requires a high degree of creativity, technical ability and resourcefulness. A visually impactful and complete experience is always my focus during a show. However, synergy with other technical departments such as Audio, Special FX, Graphics, and Video is also very important. Working and maintaining a good rapport with the creative and technical team of all the departments helps to deliver the best overall experience that meets the requirements and objectives of the clients,” says Harold. “A show can be successful but if people remember the visual impact, years afterwards too, it is something I feel proud and happy about,” he adds.

Providing perspective on one such show - The AR Rahman US tour 2018, that stretched the boundaries of what lighting can achieve, Harold says, “To work with AR Rahman, one needs to be a perfectionist else there is no place in his crew list. It was a touring show across USA, hence the technical brief was that it had to be an easy setup and tear down rig, to move from venue to venue and it had to also occupy less space on the truck, which in turn brings down cost to the promoters. After some brainstorming with the event management company BToS Productions and the Production Manager we came up with a simple yet effective truss plan, bearing in mind the creative requirement of the show. The rig was designed with special truss system so that the lighting fixtures are pre-rigged and travel within the truss avoiding the need for flight cases. The whole rig was addressed and tested before it left the warehouse. This was done in a similar manner in which big international acts tour.

There was a lot of pre-programming done for this show as well. We had an extremely tight time frame while moving from one venue to the other, so, we could not afford to make any mistakes and everything had to be spot on.”

“My belief from the very early days of my career was that once the Lighting rig is flying, I don’t want a man to climb the truss, unless for maintenance of a broken fixture. To achieve this, my rig rarely has generic fixtures. On this tour every light was an intelligent fixture i.e., all controls were available at my desk. This makes the rig dynamic and helps in achieving much more with lesser limitations. We used a variety of Martin fixtures on this show. This helped us maintain the color palettes better as it was from the same manufacturer. For control I used the MA Lighting Grand Ma Full Size.”

His favourite fixtures however, are from the Clay Paky range. “Clay Paky over the years has proven to be stable and they are constantly upgrading the features. It’s the best and most reliable in the category,” he says.

Lighting design is a critical component of AR Rahman’s striking visual presence on stage and delivering a cinematic feel replete with verve and emotion can be a challenge for any designer. “A.R Rahman, the name itself is like a huge brand name. The unique challenge is to uphold the pride and prestige of this brand. From an artist’s point of view, nothing but the best is a usual expectation. To deliver to his satisfaction is the biggest challenge, and I am happy doing just that. The audience too has beyond par expectations when it comes to their favorite artist. The integration of large quantities of LED visual content on set along with Lighting also requires lot of planning and co-ordination with the Creative Team,” explains Harold.


Constantly thinking up new avenues for lighting design, Harold says, “Set designs have evolved from conventional décor fabrication heavy set to the present LED heavy set. Similarly, lighting design has evolved from just lighting up the stage and performer. Now it’s about integrating the entire set as one complete production technical design. This integration opens a lot of creativity for the show and final output, which was much restricted earlier. I am designing a lot of production designs with complete lighting and visual integration. I prefer to trigger graphics and light presets during the show with timecode. This helps to get the right balance and be on cue.”

Harold has seen many developments in lighting technology over the years. Elaborating on the current trend he says, “Mapping video content onto light fixtures, to add dynamics to the stage is the current trend. Currently, LED fixtures are more versatile and are getting brighter with much lower power consumption. There is a combination of lens and lamp for desired results. LED pixel mapping has opened up the scope for new effects.”

Speaking about live stage production trends in India, he says, “Stage shows in India have been big for a long time. Indian based shows have different cultural concepts. Sets have been elaborate and bespoken. Viewership of these shows are large and many within the calendar year happening all around India. It pushes designers to customize sets. Today I would say Indian show sets are at par and in some cases, above the US or European entertainment industry.”


One thing is certain; without lights or effects, there is no drama. It is hence, vital to set up the stage using appropriate gear. Whatever the scale of production, besides a good measure of creative decisions, lighting up the stage is also based on a sequence of logistical decisions, which includes keeping an eye on budgets.

“Creative decisions are dependent on inventory, but at the same time budget plays a crucial role. Budgets differ drastically from event to event. For any creative person it will never be enough, and with the ever-decreasing budgets, it is just getting more difficult than before. There are times when a client’s expectations are really huge, and it can only be justified with a certain type and quantity of lighting inventory. Commercials play an important role and a decisive factor for lot of regular shows, but to get around these external hurdles and still to be able to deliver a spectacular show is a challenge and an art. Time has come when Technical Teams are gaining substantial prominence, since the responsibility of a great show is not just with a Headliner Talent. I have been fortunate however, to have an understanding clientele base that is willing to work around to ensure we maintain balance at all ends,” says Harold. “There are times, when we may decide to put some more inventory than listed for the assured delivery of a great show and this is the advantage I have while working for Mediapro AV, where in most of the equipment are within the in-house inventory,” he adds.

Now that’s great if working on a big show with a big budget, but for most times, the harsh reality is that budgets are tight. Using great quality fixtures from manufacturers such as Robe, Clay Paky and Martin can put a dent on any budget, so the natural temptation in India has been to settle for budget China kit. There was a time when many in the industry scoffed and scorned at the idea of using Chinese fixtures, but as technology continues to evolve, the same technology also seems to have filtered down into the China light manufacturing industry, as Harold affirms, “Not duplicate anymore. Over the last 3 or 4 years, they have evolved to be good products. There are a lot of good Chinese fixtures in the market. It’s flooded with a lot of brands. The right choice of fixtures is what matters. They have established their own standard and are moving up.”


Sharing his insight and experience with upcoming lighting designers out there, Harold concludes, “A complex lighting rig may not necessarily create a good show. It could be, that one particular light that comes on, at the right time, which can create the WOW factor! Build your looks with feeling, listen to the music and understand what the act or song demands. Let it touch your soul. CREATE AMAZING!”


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