Showing all posts tagged #lightingdesign:


Gobos for Stars

Posted on December 5th, 2018

So I was just consulting one of my clients about gobo choices for a design I coached them on. I’ve been asked about gobos a lot over the years. See past posts (such as http://egwolfe.com/post/some-of-my-favorite-gobos or http://egwolfe.com/post/gels-and-gobos or http://egwolfe.com/post/a-note-to-producers-about-the-lighting-cue-sheet) for further thoughts. You can search by hashtags such as #lightingdesign on the right side of the page to make searches through old posts easier. Anyway, I just gave the following advice:

71054 is a good natural look of stars. If you had a cyc, it'd be a no brainer. But it should still look good even the black traveler. I’ve used it before. But I can’t recall for sure if that was on the main traveler which is gray worth the mid traveler which is black.
77884 (called "snow") gets the feel of a star field and shows up better on the black because there's more light.
If I had them (and we used to) I'd be using 71054. I'd pull the snow out as a backup option only. You know me, always having ideas in my back pocket ;)

20 Front Street

Posted on October 17th, 2018

Venue Creation and Lighting Design

A few years ago a friend came to me with a dream of creating a space for artists to present their music in an unique, distraction-free, beauty-filled, environment. He took me to a run down old building that literally had dirt floors and birds living in the rafters. It was freezing and dirty. All I could envision was the magic that would be. We began ideating out loud. We walked the space, and in the actual space we paced out where we would put the stage, and have people sit and enter, and where the green room for the artists would be. We used our hands to visualize what our design aesthetic would be.

I napkin sketched some ideation and kept the dream simmering in the back burner of my mind. Months passed before I got a call that the venue was approved and that we would get to take our dreams forward with reality. We put on some temporary concerts in the dirt and construction zone along the way. This was great for us as we got to braintrust our concepts by interviewing people who would be customers and investors. After many months, we finally got to integrate our V1.0 design. We were remarkably frugal with our choices so that we could open up; and at some point, we’ll upgrade to our dreams of 2.0, but it feels so great now, that we may just live with the budget version…

You should really take in a show there. It’s an unique experience found no other venue in the world! We’re really proud of it.


Leadership Gathering January 2018

Posted on January 26th, 2018


Four basic elements of lighting that enhance story

Posted on January 8th, 2017

When lighting a scene, you need to consider the emotional message that you wish to convey.

1. Color - Choose a white balance. This is key to both mood and helps clue the viewer to the time of day. The opportunity to experiment with saturated light can provide seemingly countless options to get creative with steering mood.

Do you want to have a realistic scene in an office or do you want to break reality with musical theatre? What about concert lighting?

Remember that some scenes benefit from deep saturation, while others require the realism of only minimal color correction. Either way, color is extremely important.

I typed it first, here because yes it can be key to setting the scene, but more so is the foundation of subject light:

2. Intensity - Light’s intensity denotes how subdued or blown out the light is. Intensity can denote such differences as mid-morning sunshine in a field or the mood under a street lamp in the middle of night time.

The later example not only would likely use significantly lower intensity to create the scene, but would likely use two colors, the cool blueish moonlight, and the warm sodium colored lamp light.

3. Angle - This refers to the direction of light and how it strikes your subject. There are many terms, both from theatre and cinematography (ex. three-point lighting, special pool, key light, fill light, back light, side light, shin-busters, footlight, hair light, rim light, etc.)

Many of us are familiar to such terms as Rembrandt lighting or a butterfly lighting setup - those simply are two common setups that photographers use when shooting portraits.

The unique mood of each scene is steered in dramatically different ways by the angle of the light source or sources on the subject.

4. Quality - The softness or hardness of the light plays another role in the mood. Do you want defined shadows or smooth even light that seems to wrap around your subject. A large source of light is soft. A small source of light is hard. A source of light far away from your subject will produce strong shadows—an example of hard light. The closer the source of light that to your subject, the less pronounced the shadows that are produced.

Imagine difference between a 5º spot light from the corner of a theatre’s catwalk vs. the look of a model posing next to french doors with sheer drapes.

In addition to hard or soft lighting, consider the mood enhancement that can happen when a breakup pattern is between the light source and the subject.

With breakups we return to the hard or soft lighting. Is there a defined shadow of a bare tree branch or is there soft texture from an abstract theatrical breakup? So much can be done with texture. Perhaps another post should be written about texture alone!




The Justice Conference 2016 Production Design

Posted on June 14th, 2016


I know you’re asking about it. I hope to fill in the details of this post soon


FILO 2016 Production Design

Posted on May 23rd, 2016

One week ago, we were finishing load in and initial programming for 2016’s edition of the FILO Conference. It was an honor and privilege to be the Production Designer (responsible for Scenic and Lighting Design) for the conference. It was a scurry of a few days so I never really had time to post anything. Here are a few of my favorite moments from the event:



Some of you took my Scenic Design Concepts breakout class. For the rest of you, here’s the story behind how I landed on the final version of the design. These are the notes from the slide where I talked about "Branding (and the iterative process of design) …and Metaphor"

The O in FILO seemed to be the best part of the brand to play off of…
PlexiDiscs (something that I have in storage that’s not being used)
They set up easily enough (tie-line and zip-ties)
They can give depth to a shallow stage
They easily fit in my hatchback!
We concept designed about building a pretty cool set piece that we chose to say no to. (the builder, time, money, space on stage, etc.)
The iterative process - never settle for the first idea, if you stay disciplined to the process, the best idea will eventually be revealed. (certainly the idea at the greatest intersection of creativity and stewardship)
Metaphor
The 40 O’s represents each of us who are FILOs. Some of us are lone guys, some of us are part of teams. Coming together we can encourage each other with our beauty as we come together. Together we can find a chorus of a "new song" (Psalm 40) to carry with us as we go back to support and enhance the sharing of the good news that Jesus loves us.

The lights, I selected for a few reasons.
First, the B-EYEs are a light that every church tech nerd has seen the videos of and dreamt about having in their venue. I thought that giving a chance to see could be beneficial.
The opportunity to have access to the use some great hybrid fixtures in the Mythos was an amazing bonus.
Finally, the Aura XBs had a primary use of lighting the scenic. However the bonus of such a great light is that we created a number of presets to give us several bonus looks!

For the whole design I played with clusters that followed the Fibonacci sequence. I wanted to have the thought of each part of the design to have a beauty on its own and contribute to the beauty of the whole in a way that felt like it fit...

Thank you to Ryan and ILC for providing the amazing lighting gear. Thanks Jeff and Brian CCC for being perhaps the most hospitable hosts an any venue I’ve ever had the chance to work with. Thanks Nate and Chelsea for the logistics, leadership, and vision. Thanks to Michael and Nic for helping us set it all up, troubleshoot issues, and Nic especially for that great catch with the B-EYEs' profile issue. Thanks Alex (whom I met as we were both on the LD panel discussion breakout) for guest designing Session 3 as I was putting finishing touches on the Keynote presentation for my breakout.

Special thanks to Patrick for being my partner in the project. Having a guy on the console who knows how to interpret the ideas of my mind almost even before I say them is the dream for an LD. A good friend with me for the journey to and from Chicago is a bonus.

Thanks most of all to Todd for inviting me to play a small role in your vision. It was a privilege and an honor.


Dealership Production Design

Posted on October 29th, 2015

Last night we transformed one end of the dealership to celebrate momentum. Red, silver, and white branding is maintained for this main event stage and the rest of the dealership.

VIPs are enjoying catered small plates. The president and others just completed their speeches. Guests are about to experiment the main event.

Pre-show look. Lights are slowly strafing across the ceiling above the "stage" that we made. Truss warmers are twinkling white on the silver sticks of vertical truss and anticipation is in the air (or is that haze?)

I prepared myself in position at lighting control (my Jands Vista S1 - I and/or my console are available for hire/rent) back stage. I transitioned the lights as the intro video played and encouraged the talent to break a leg...
Actually, I took this shot well after the event just before we tore down - through the veil of the CrushedBlack fabric, you can see the car already on stage - in the moment I was too busy firing off a barrage of lighting effects; as well as cuing dancers, actors, and a driver for their moments of the production.
I’m really bummed not to have any photos to share of the live number we performed. Hopefully I can get some shots or video from one of the guests. I wish I had thought to set up a GoPro or few to record.

After the event, I hurried to offer photography to guests as they all wanted to pose with the cast. I managed even to get a #castandcrew shot taken of me (in the coveralls that was part of the branding) with the performers. These guys are great, by the way. If you’re looking for actors and/or dancers (and/or hamsters?) contact me and I can refer you to some great Metro Detroit talent.

One of my other responsibilities was to take photos of the president and leadership holding their awards at the corporate stage for earlier speeches at far end of the room. This is my view walking back toward the main stage. I share it to give context of the space. Even at the end of the night, the mood still feels good in the transformed dealership.
Interesting to contemplate that two hours later, everything is packed up and the morning crew will be able to bring cars back into the space for normal operations.

I think this image is hilarious; this pair of hamsters remained at the ready long after every guest had taken photos and the catering had been cleared.

It was a fun event. It always is when a producer tells me they want to drive a car on stage!

Strive for beauty with depth and layers

Posted on September 25th, 2015

Strive for beauty. Create with depth and layers.

Here’s a *slide from one of my Production Design Theory talks that I give. It was great spending time with FILO friends in Denver, Dallas, and Chicago this year as the conference met in each of those cities.

If you were part of those breakout trainings, please let me know what was helpful and what I should improve on. Also, please let me know if you have any followup questions that I might tailor an answer specifically for your unique context.

*It was cool getting to sub in the new photo from the Leadership Gathering

Leadership Gathering - Produciton Design and Consulting

Posted on September 7th, 2015



The inception for this two day conference hosting 1000 VIPs event was put in motion less than three months before the event! Therefore ideation of concept; iteration of prototype, approval of concept; partnership in developing story and production management prepping cast and crew; ordering of materials; leadership of assembly: continuity of brand in every part of stage, room, handout, and communication: coordination of rehearsal; programming of lighting, video, and special effects cues; execution of audio including a last minute live voiceover intro by yours truly. What an exciting project to be part of!

The budget for the scenic and lighting was <$5K so that alone presented constraint that drove creativity. The fact that our timeline was tight was fuel to move fast and actually helped leverage pushing past doubt and leading to excitement about our concepts during ideation. Key elements of this design were built on the request of a large screen that could carry the brand of the organization. The budget required us to create an unique workaround to simulate a properly blended projection mapping rig and "fake it" with some clever finesse and the reminder that guests won’t know the difference if we are strategic in how we craft our graphics and video assets.

The idea of a B-Stage presented multiple challenges that yielded the iteration of multiple special additions to the experience: LEDtape that outlined the stage (and provided uplight - or maybe it was the other way around). Communication banners (that added to the branding and communication - or provided depth in every video shot). Finally, which was better: the excitement of transitions with the additional entrances and focus shifting for the narration, the eye contact and authenticity of new ideas in a town hall segment of the communication, or the up close excitement of key performances that literally break the fourth wall!

The buzz and excitement about the project was useful in leveraging contribution from numerous collaborators. Delegation to key personalities was key in leadership of execution. It was beautiful to see many people leverage their talents and a number of young team members realize new passions as they learned new skills on the fly!

Here are some of my favorite moments.


Intermission between sessions the first night. I love tables and chairs for a conference.


This silhouette moment from the opening medley - I hope Michael Jackson would have been proud. Top image also from the opening medley - covering Hey Ya by Outkast.


From the opening medley - I believe this was Shake It Off.


A shot from house right showing a bit of the room. We really have transformed the old warehouse. I remember doing our walk-through when we first purchased this space. It used to have columns in the middle of the room. Oh, and dirt floor with vile things growing in the puddles...


I like this shot during worship that also shows some of the table decorations that I helped braintrust the design of. Please forgive the odd looking text on the screen due; to the fact that I snapped the photo exactly on the CG transition.


The Kensington founders and their wives on stage together. It’s a beautiful encouragement to see them still be close friends 25 years later.


I love how my friend Michael Duggan programs lights. It’s fun to see my plot come to life!


It was an honor to get to run audio for day two of the event. Here’s the view I had of the keynote speaker teaching from the B-stage in the middle of the room.


A panoramic shot of the room. I wish I had taken a reverse angle of the room in use. The best I can do is the following photo.


My view of the room from above the stage while working on projection. Collaboration and intentional choice was made even to each centerpiece on the tables.


This is day two of our set-up and we're somehow calm in spite of being way behind planned schedule. 24 hours prior all we had was the arch in place and the wrong size fabric. RoseBrand had sent us the wrong width due to a mis-labeling error in their sewing department. They overnighted us the correct size and we were able to work past midnight to get everything ready for doors to open the next morning for another event that was using the room. The team was great as we flexed through the setback and found other useful things to do with our time on day 1 and the first half of day 2. Thankfully we had kept a second day of setup on the schedule; if not, we would not have had a chance for the vision to have turned out as you see in these images.


Early sketch of what it would take to pull off the custom built screen that required no support beams so that the silhouette moment could happen. Leadership, creativity, design - it’s all problem solving!



Leadership Gathering

Posted on September 7th, 2015

Produciton Design and Consulting

The inception for this two-day conference hosting 1000 VIPs event was put in motion less than three months before the event! Even with the crazy timeline (and perhaps because of it) it was an honor and a privilege to be asked to design and lead production for this event.
  • ideation of concept
  • refining concept to fit inside the constraint of $5K
  • iteration of prototype
  • approval of concept
  • partnership in developing story and production management
  • prepping cast and crew
  • Collaboration and intentional choice for continuity of brand in every part of stage, room, handout, and communication
  • Producing uniquely formatted videos and graphic assets
  • ordering of materials
  • leadership of construction/assembly
  • rush-order of mislabeled box of material and adaptability to rework setup plan
  • coordination of rehearsal
  • programming of lighting, video, and special effects cues
  • execution of audio including a last minute live voiceover intro by yours truly

Constraints drive creativity. Moving fast actually helps leverage pushing past doubt and leads to excitement about our concepts during ideation. Leadership, creativity, design - it’s all problem solving! The buzz and excitement about the project was useful in leveraging contribution from numerous collaborators. Delegation to key personalities was key in leadership of execution. It was beautiful to see many people leverage their talents and a number of young team members realize new passions as they learned new skills on the fly!

Feel free to read the full detailed version of this blog post if you’re curious for more of the story.


Eric Wolfe

Visual Artist and Leader. Production Designer and Consultant. Developer of Ideas. Maximizer of Resources. Strategic Thinker. Creative Innovator. Husband. Father. Philosopher. Photographer. Backpacker. Athlete. Cook. Artisan. He shares thoughts here about all of the above. He would love to connect to partner in coaching and revealing beauty to enhance story and experience. Please do reach out!