Brad Schiller Part 2: Building The Machines

"If you wish to make apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe" – Carl Sagan

In order for us to go through the process of creating lighting for theatricals, events, broadcasts, films, and performances, any number of other creative processes needed to happen first – including the specification, design, and engineering of luminaires and control consoles.  We dive into some of those in the second half of our interview with Brad Schiller, and discuss his time as a product manager for High End Systems and Philips Vari*Lite, and his current job as Business Development Manager for Lighting Rental & Touring at Martin Professional.

Brad has been involved with the design and creation of some of the industry's iconic products.  At High End, it was the Hog 4 control platform.  At Vari*Lite, it was the VL4000 Spot and BeamWash.  Today at Martin, it's a new control concept he can only hint at.  We discussed the development process, how he manages products, and what taking a role on the corporate side of the business is like.  We also heard about Martin's current line, and how their philosophy differs so radically from other manufacturers Brad has worked with.

For more Brad, check out the first half of our interview.  We talked about his work as a lighting director, programmer and writer, including his book The Automated Lighting Programmer's Handbook and monthly PLSN column about programming.  If you're attending LDI this year, you can catch Brad on the four Art Of Programming panels, all taking place on Thursday, 10/22.  He also writes In The Know, an insider blog about Martin Professional.  Thanks for listening to our latest episode!

Brad Schiller Part 1: Feeding The Machines

Brad Schiller was there as the job of Automated Lighting Programmer emerged, and he has influenced the job's evolution over the last 25 years as he moved from freelance to High End Systems to Philips Vari*Lite to Martin Professional.  We sat down with Brad and discussed his remarkable career, but the interview was so packed with information that we decided to present it as two episodes.  In this episode, we discuss his philosophy on programming and how he's seen the programmer's role evolve, his work on the 2000 Sydney Olympics Opening and Closing Ceremonies, his time with the band Crystal Method, and how he became part of the High End Systems programming department at a critical time for both he and they.

Brad is also a writer – we discussed Brad's book The Automated Lighting Programmer's Handbook, which has helped many programmers along their way, including your host.  It's worth a read for anyone who interacts with intelligent lighting as a designer, operator, or technician.  Brad also has a monthly PLSN column about programming, Feeding The Machines; during the interview, he mentioned two articles of note: An Automated Lighting Programmer Is What You Want To Be, a humorous look at programming in a Dr. Seuss vein (page 75 of the PDF), and An Offer You Can't Resist, about ACN and the E1.31 protocol.

If you're attending LDI this year, you can catch Brad on the four Art Of Programming panels, all taking place on Thursday, 10/22.  Brad also writes In The Know, an insider blog about Martin Professional.  Thanks for checking out our latest episode!

Laura Frank: Building a new paradigm for media management, programming, and planning

Today's televised events tend to lean heavily on video; in some cases, 80% of the scenery is actually a video surface.  How does the content for all that real estate get created, handled and played back seamlessly?  To find out, we sat down with Laura Frank: a screens producer working on some of the highest profile events in the world, including the MTV Video Music Awards, the CMT Music Awards, and Black Girls Rock!, as well as theatricals, corporate events, and other productions too numerous to mention.

Laura got her start working electrics in New York in the early 90's, and quickly found a home at the lighting desk.  She distinguished herself as a top-flight programmer on the Hog, MA, Virtuoso, and Icon consoles, programming on Broadway, for feature films, and on major events.  When she saw digital lighting on the horizon, she started changing direction, and today works entirely in media.

Through her company, Luminous FX, she provides the full gamut of services needed to turn a concept or idea into an amazing show: content templates & specification, 3D design visualization, content production, and server programming.  Laura says that in her role as screens producer, she's not a designer, not a technician, but a creative partner who communicates the designers’ creative intent through the highly technical video system.  She shares the tools and solutions she uses for multi-screen video environments at LFX Studio.

Thanks for joining us for Season 2!  Use the Contact page to let us know what you think!


Bobby Hale: High End fixtures need high-end solutions

We use complex automated lighting fixtures every day in every segment of the business – but how are they conceived, designed, and built?  Bobby Hale, our final guest of Season One and a Business Development Manager for High End Systems, has some answers to those questions.  He has been with High End for over 15 years, and was a product manager and engineering operations manager for many of those years.  During this episode, we look in depth at High End's new SolaSpot Pro 1500 fixture, the history of High End and some of the innovations they brought to the market, and what Bobby does at HES.

The SolaSpot Pro 1500 is a white light LED fixture which produces 20,000 lumens using a 400w source, creates an excellent flat field with crisp pattern and shutter edges, and generates very little noise.  We discussed how it, and other products from HES history, came to be, and what high-output white light LED sources can do for us now and in the future.  Join your host Jason Marin and returning co-host Theresa Unfried as we learn about ground-up fixture design, how LED sources can and will replace short arc lamps, and how things work in the design and engineering departments at High End.

Thanks for the great first year – we'll see you back here in September!

Anne E. McMills: She wrote the book on Assistant Lighting Design

Anne McMills knows well how important the job of Assistant Lighting Designer is.  She has been an Assistant and Associate LD on an incredible array projects over the last 15 years, from Broadway to Vegas to touring to television, and has employed many Assistant and Associate LDs on her own design projects all over the US.  A unique and interesting combination of skills and knowledge are required for the job, but for all of its importance, there have been few reliable resources for learning about it.  Anne has decided to change that by creating the Assistant Lighting Designer's Toolkit, a resource that provides description, instruction, paperwork, and strategies as well as offering the voices and points of view of dozens of other working professionals.

Join your host Jason Marin and returning co-host Carrie Wood as we discuss Anne's career.  We talked about her theatrical lighting and projection designs, her work with previous podcast guest Fred Bock on The Tonight Show, her experience with architectural lighting design firm E Squared Lighting Design, and her role as Head of Lighting Design at San Diego State University.  We also discussed how her book came to be and how she fit writing it into her already busy schedule.

Thanks for downloading and listening!

Panel Discussion at 4 Wall NY: today's DJ's, tomorrow's designers

Event lighting and production is big business, and the New York segment of that business is a world of its own.  People, technology, and concepts from all the other parts of the business – television, theater, dance, circus, video installation, concerts, and more – merge together to create something new.  If you're a DJ that wants to expand into lighting and production, how do you grow your business, create events that get attention, and compete in this market?

To help new people them find their way, Al Ridella and CJ Wescott of 4 Wall Entertainment reached out to DJs and nascent production companies working in events in the NY Metro, and invited them to a panel discussion about this end of the business.  Your host was one of the panelists, as were Zach Lambrinon of Intelligent Lighting at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, and Zakaria Al-Alami of Arc3 Design and Jazz At Lincoln Center.

That night, we were also joined by representatives from Elation, Chauvet DJ, City Theatrical, Chroma-Q, High End Systems, Martin, Rosco, TMB, Vari*Lite, and UsedLighting.com.  It was a great night, and with the permission of all the participants, in this episode we bring you the full panel discussion.

Fred Bock: Making a home at 30 Rock

Back when he was completing a double major in theater and broadcasting, Fred Bock dreamed that he'd be able to make 30 Rockefeller Center his workplace.  He made that dream into a reality, one that has included working on Rock Center, Today Show, Nightly News, Football Night in America, Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular, Carson Daly New Year's Eve and Saturday Night Live at the NBC studios there.  Most significantly, he also became the lighting designer and lighting director for The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon.

Along the way, he was nominated for 3 Prime Time Emmy Awards for his work on Late Night With Conan O'Brien; lit the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament, ESPNU, Difference Makers and NFL Draft Confidential for ESPN; and has been involved with numerous NBC Upfronts.  For much of his career, he has been a part of the FLDA team, specialists in lighting design for multi-camera television production.

Join your host Jason Marin and co-host Matt Gordon, who is also a member of the FLDA team, as we discuss Fred's career, how critical it is to keep an open mind in everything from one's career direction to equipment selection, and how The Tonight Show works on a day to day basis.

Mike Baldassari Part 2: theater, concerts, touring, and real estate

Concerts and theater share many things, from the uniquness of any single performance to the dedication of their artists to the techniques used to move them from venue to venue.  One other thing they share is Mike Baldassari, who has lit innumerable concerts on tour, on stage, and on film, and has also lit plays and musicals from Broadway to Moscow.  In this episode, we discuss Mike's theatrical and concert lighting designs, the touring he's done, and the state and business of show business.

Join your host Jason Marin and co-host Carrie Wood for the conclusion of our interview with Mike.  Let us know if you like the multi-episode format for long-running interviews, and be sure to visit Mike's website for even more information about the shows we discuss.  Thanks for listening!

Mike Baldassari, Part 1: from The Garden to The Road to The Street

It was 1977, and Mike was headed to a Kiss concert at Madison Square Garden.  The audience blinders came up, 20,000 people cheered, and Mike knew he'd found a home.  Since then, he has lit Broadway musicals, including collaborating on Cabaret with the great Peggy Eisenhauer; television shows, including episodes of Saturday Night Live; theatrical tours, including Phoenix Entertainment's Camelot; major events live to broadcast, including A (RED) Thank You; concerts, including tours with icon Neil Young; and feature films, including Nine.  All that said, Mike's greatest strength may be his ability to draw inspiration and practice from one genre for use in another.

Join your host Jason Marin and first-time co-host Carrie Wood for the first part of a two-part interview with Mike.  In this episode, we discussed his work on feature films, television, live events and shows that involve elements of all three.  We discussed how he got into the business, including finding his way to the lighting console after rock shows to introduce himself, the difference between working on a feature shooting film and one shooting digital, what SNL has to do with Australia, and what happens when one of the cameras on your multicamera shoot is attached to a helicopter.

Join us next time for the conclusion of the interview, where we discuss concerts, theater, and, of course, Cabaret.

Richard Tatum: Stylish spotlights for socialites

Richard Tatum was following the path that many had followed: BFA, MFA, work in theater, work in television – and then he answered an ad in ArtSearch.  That ad brought him into a new world: one of high-end social events, glittering parties, and benefit galas attended by New York's socialites and philanthropists.  Instead of treating lighting for social events like an assembly line, he treats every event as unique, and in so doing he created a career that resulted in him becoming managing partner, lighting designer, and director of production services at L & M Sound and Light.

Join your host Jason Marin and co-host Theresa Unfried as we discuss elements from Richard's career, including events at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in landmark spaces throughout metro NY, and in the summer playgrounds of the glitterati.

Thanks for downloading, thanks for listening, and thanks for your support!

Chris Lee: a life in the theater starts with a single light cue

From the first time he saw a Jules Fisher design on stage, Chris Lee knew what he wanted to be.  His passion for theater has taken him to Broadway, the West End, Tokyo, and all around the world, creating lighting for theatricals, film, opera, television, cruise ships, theme parks, and Las Vegas spectacles.  During the journey, Chris has been nominated for numerous awards, and he's taken home a Helen Hayes Award and an Artvoice Katherine Cornell Award.

Join your host Jason Marin and co-host Theresa Unfried as we discuss elements from Chris' 25-year career in the arts.  We discussed the theatrical projects Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me and Shakespeare's R & J in depth, learned about the process of designing a massive theme park show from the ground up, and got a look at the more corporate world of automobile events.  We also talked about his lengthy and productive relationship with the Signature Theatre; he's designed over 40 shows there.

You can find Chris Lee's home on the web at www.chrisleeld.com.  Thanks for downloading, thanks for listening, and thanks for your support!

John Tees: a gaffer and lighting director with a theatrical heart

Sometimes, it just feels right – John Tees started his professional career at the age of 14, and hasn't slowed down since.  Over the past 35 years, he's built a career as a gaffer, production electrician, and lighting designer, and that career has taken him all over the world.  Today, he splits his time between fashion shows in NY and Miami, corporate events throughout the US, daytime television, and his theatrical home at Second Stage Theater.

When your host Jason Marin and returning co-host Theresa Unfried sat down with John, we discussed his rise through the theatrical world, including summer stock at Monomoy Theater, getting an MFA at the University of Cincinnati CCM, and spending 3 seasons with the North Carolina Shakespeare Festival, both on-site and touring.  We talked about his experiences as a gaffer and lighting director in fashion, on television, and for corporate events, and how he transitioned into those jobs from theater.  We also discussed his long associations with LD Rob Strohmeier and rigger Mike Sapsis, the changing business of corporate and special events, and the state of lighting technology.

Thanks to John for joining us, and of course a big thanks to you for downloading and listening!

Shawn Kaufman: from opera to fashion to fixture design

For nearly 20 years, Shawn Kaufman has been creating unforgettable environments on stage and in event spaces around the world.  Shawn as been a lighting designer for opera and theater, has run the lighting departments of major production houses, and is now director of CS Lighting, a division of event production firm CS Global.  He has never shied away from adopting new technologies as long as they served his purpose, and is now responsible for having created his own LED lighting fixture, the SFK.

The SFK was designed for use by CS Lighting, but is also available for rental and sale to other firms and productions.  It was designed to offer the same soft beam pattern as a fluorescent fixture, but with individual control of red, green, blue, warm white, and cool white sources, as well as smooth dimming to zero.

When your host Jason Marin and co-host Theresa Unfried sat down with Shawn, we discussed how the design and manufacturing process of a new unit works.  We also discussed what went into starting the CS Lighting division of CS Global from scratch and what Shawn has been able to bring to events from the theater and opera world.  Finally, we talked about the value of the arts in our culture and the dangers of supporting only top-end arts presentation.

Many thanks to Shawn for joining us, and thanks to you for downloading and listening!

Kevin Campbell: 30 years of visuals, from slide projectors to the D3 media server

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The difference between a projection design executed with twenty slide projectors and one executed with two HD 10K projectors is huge - or is it?  Kevin Campbell has done both and so much more, always pressing technology into use to serve his ultimate purpose: creating mood, atmosphere, light, and artistry with imagery.  He sat down with us to discuss his work, what lighting designers need to know about video, and how he learned to think of video as something far more than a means to display a narrative.

Kevin's passion for video visuals has taken him around the world in the last 30 years.  He has worked with bands of every size to create imagery and 3D video environments for their tours and one-off performances, with directors to add layers of atmosphere to their theatrical productions, and with event producers to fill parties with psychedelic visuals and light.  He has used NASA 3-gun projectors, built VJ rigs to his own specifications, and worked with one of the greatest video artists of them all, Nam June Paik.

Download the latest Casting Light Podcast today, then check out Kevin's work at Videovisuals.tumblr.com – thanks for joining us once again!

Al Crawford: designer, business owner, educator, empire builder

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It's our first show of 2015, and we're talking with Al Crawford, who has his hands in just about everything in the lighting business.  On any given week, he and his team from Arc3 Design might be supervising lighting on an Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater tour, lighting a state dinner at the White House, cueing a theatrical performance, choosing fixtures for a building facade, or reviewing applicants for a design fellowship.  Somehow, he found time to sit down with us for a very enlightening conversation.

Join your host Jason Marin, and returning co-host Theresa Unfried of TAJ Event Productions, as we discuss Al's company, projects, and workflow.  We discussed what happens in preparation for and during an Alvin Ailey tour, what excites and frustrates him about the state of lighting technology, and where he sees the business going in the future.  We also talked about a few things people entering the business should know, including some information about the Gilbert Hemsley Lighting Fellowship.

Many thanks to Al for all his insight, and of course, many thanks to our listeners for downloading our latest episode!

Seth Bernstein: film shoots, fashion, camera ready events, and video design

 Seth Bernstein, photo by Akira Yamada

Seth Bernstein, photo by Akira Yamada

It's no accident that some events look great when you see photos from them on Instagram.  Seth Bernstein brings his knowledge of film and video to every project he designs, resulting in seamless integration and a flawless look both on the pro cameras and on the ubiquitous phone camera.  He also uses video as a component in some of his designs, using his experience editing video to create content and to determine how to satisfy his clients.

Seth is a very busy designer, but he found time to sit down with us to discuss his career, work, and what role anthropology can play in creating a successful design.  Join Jason and returning co-host Theresa Unfried of TAJ Event Productions as we discuss video and lighting integration, what we should know about cameras, and how Seth makes his projects sparkle.

Many thanks to Seth, and to our fabulous listeners!

George Gountas: making the biggest lighting rigs work every time

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George left theater school in May 2004, and was working on the Summer Olympics one month later.  His success has been nothing short of phenomenal, so we were thrilled to have a chance to ask him about his career as a gaffer and production electrician.  He's been one or the other on live TV broadcasts like sporting events, massive events like 12/12/12, TV shows like Smash, and hybrids of all of the above.

Join your host Jason Marin and co-host Calvin Lai as we sit down with George to discuss his career, how he found his way, and what he does to stay present in his families' life while doing the job.  We discussed the job of gaffer in detail, how it it both similar and different from being a production electrician, and how critical joining a labor union can be for people who plan to make a career in the business.

Many thanks to George for joining us and filling in what we didn't know so completely.  Thanks for checking out our seventh episode!

Mitchell Bogard: TV LD from Rachael's kitchen to Big Bird's nest

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During a career spanning over 35 years, Mitchell Bogard has lit a huge number of television shows, theatricals, and dance performances.  His TV work, as both lighting designer and lighting director, has included many well known on-air personalities, including Rachael Ray, David Letterman, and Big Bird.  His work has earned him a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Direction for his work with Bill Berner on Between The Lions, and earned him nominations for the same award for Sesame Street (shared with Bill Berner) and Rachael Ray (shared with Alan Blacher).

Join your host Jason Marin and co-host Stephanie Shechter as we sit down with Mitchell to discuss his career, daily operations on a television show, and some of the remarkable things he's done.  We talked about how he got an early love for theater and performance from attending Broadway shows, his early career working and touring all over the world with dance companies, and how he spent a summer learning to be a puppeteer.  He went on to tell us how he learned how to take what he already knew about lighting and apply it to on-camera work as his career transitioned.

Many thanks to Mitchell for joining us, answering our questions, and holding nothing back.  Thanks for checking out our sixth episode!

Marty Postma: Concert LD, media designer, lighting & video programmer

While concert lighting is different from lighting for theater, television, and live events, it has been influenced by and has influenced the practice and practitioners of all three.  Marty has designed lighting and media for some of the largest musical acts around and has toured all over the world with them, but began his journey with a BFA in theatrical lighting design.  He has also programmed for other designers, on projects ranging from feature films to ice shows to televised galas, and has a reputation for staying cool no matter how much pressure is on.

Join your host Jason Marin and co-host Stephanie Shechter as we sit down with Marty to discuss the challenges of designing, assembling, and touring a concert system, as well as the challenges of working live with an artist in a festival environment.  We talked about how video  and lighting can work together, both as individual design elements and as partners in creating live broadcasts and webcasts.  We also discussed the business of design and handling changing client expectations, heard some advice for current and would-be programmers, and talked about Marty's earlier work in New York's biggest nightclubs.

Big thanks to Marty for his time and willingness to answer all our questions.  You can learn more about him and his work at www.retinalresonance.com


Thanks for checking out our fifth episode!

Eric Cornwell: master of software and lighting design

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Eric has had a long and distinguished lighting design career, working everywhere from Broadway to Beijing, in disciplines ranging from theater to dance to opera to permanent installations.  Join your host Jason Marin as we discuss the art, business, and life of lighting design, talk about technology's place in the industry, and take a look at some of Eric's work over the years.


Eric joined the industry at a pivotal time, as the lighting business was growing increasingly dependent on computer technology.  By designing and coding software that would help him do his job as lighting designer, Eric joined the first wave of developers serving the lighting industry.  You can learn more about his software products at his company’s site, West Side Systems.


We also discussed some other interesting projects Eric has under way, including Virtual Magic Sheet, an open-source software product which displays live lighting control information in a visual layout that users design to their own needs.


Thanks for checking out our fourth episode!