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Focus on Design

The choreography was conceived simultaneously with the projections.

Particle Dance

Bryan Reesman • Focus on Design, October 2017 • October 12, 2017

Daniil Simkin’s Falls the Shadow at the Guggenheim Museum Fuses Projection and Dance

For Falls The Shadow, a dance piece created for the Guggenheim Museum’s Works & Process series and staged in the famed art repository itself, choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo and principal dancer/director Daniil Simkin teamed up with projection designer Dmitrij Simkin and costume designer Dior for an unusual convergence of fashion, technology and art. Four dancers had their movements captured by motion sensors, which generated 3D mapped visuals that were then projected back onto the floors and the ramp of the famed building.

Mythos light used as FOH spots pick out Pete Wentz. Photo by Justin Segura

Robb Jibson is Just So Midwest

Nook Schoenfeld • Focus on Design • April 13, 2016

Fall Out Boy Wraps Up a Two-Year Tour with a Fresh Look

It’s been about 20 years since Robb Jibson graduated from high school and got his tail back to Chicago, the town he loves and swears his allegiance to. He’s been practicing lighting ever since, and from what I saw at the Fall Out Boy (FOB) show the other night in Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, MN, he has mastered his skill. Even as he claims, “I’m never done building this show. I will be refining it until the last gig.”

In the dramatic last moments of Dialogues of the Carmelites at Eastman Opera, Blanche makes her way to the guillotine bathed in the light of the cross. Photo by Nic Minetor

Opera Lighting: Broad Strokes, Big Drama

Stephanie Cameron • Focus on Design • April 13, 2016

When the production staff at San Diego Opera opened the containers from the rental house — the ones that were supposed to contain the Michael Yeargan-designed set for their production of Aida — they could hardly believe what they saw. They saw nothing. The containers were empty. Their one-week production schedule did not allow for setbacks, nor could they replicate the set in their own scene shop. The automated, winch-driven scenery with its steeply raked floor had to exist somewhere, but finding it could take hours, or even days.

Electric Forest 2015, set by Vita Motus. Photo by Adam Kaplan

The Design Process: Vita Motus

Tim Bradley • Focus on Design • October 15, 2015

It’s too bad the name Industrial Light & Magic had already been taken by some obscure film producer named George Lucas. Otherwise, the terms would perfectly capture the work of Heather Shaw and her firm Vita Motus Design Studio. As she defines it, Vita Motus (vee-ta moe-tus) is Latin for “life vibration,” loosely connoting being attuned to and going with the flow. She describes her company’s designs as futuristic, with a focus on conceptual experience and immersive multimedia sculptures. Vita Motus fuses cutting-edge technology and pop culture into an entirely new world of its own.

The interior is a radical departure from the original Vulcan’s environs, but there are a few common threads. Photo courtesy of Lightfaktor

Lightfaktor Breathes Light into the Vulcan Gas Company

Debi Moen • Focus on Design • September 22, 2015

The walls are breathing with embedded LED columns floor to ceiling, an ebb and flow of color saturation fully controllable and synched to the music. The lighting rig, on trusses in the center of the room, pumps like a giant heart, churning out organic fluid-motion digital images and 3-D shapes flipping and spinning in space. Read More...

connectCAD is a software add-on to the Vectorworks platform

Virtual Design: The Right Tools Make All the Difference

Frank Brault • Focus on Design • June 12, 2013

Over the last 20 years, advances in computer technology have benefited the entertainment industry. In particular, CAD programs have altered—for the better—how designers execute their ideas. But the benefits of digitizing workflows have changed more than just how we approach design. As a result, there’s never been a more exciting time for our industry. And as the growing availability of mature software tools continues to improve our design thinking, idea communication and the installation and execution of design concepts, we’ll continue to benefit by doing it more efficiently and accurately than ever before. When I reflect on this evolution, the journey has been remarkable. I’d like to share my own journey and how I arrived to this point in time today where we finally have at our fingertips the right tools for the job.


Intellectual and Emotional Emulsion

Lucas Benjaminh Krech • Focus on Design • October 13, 2011

I don’t know why you got started designing lights, but for me, it was color. Specifically, how color acts as a direct visual manifestation of my feeling about a piece. I’m sure there are people who get into creative pursuits for other reasons, but for me, I can not imagine doing so without it being driven by a desire to create and participate in a work of performative art. It was music that did it first, followed in short order by dance. And that is how every project begins for me — with some initial creative impulse. Everything else derives from there.


Fall Out Boy and the Art of Lighting the”Mini Tornados”

Kevin M. Mitchell • Focus on Design • October 8, 2007

How does a production designer light and stage the most human form of a natural phenomenon?

“They are like little mini tornados on stage,” laughs Production Designer Alex Skowron. “They just spin all over.”

“They” are Fall Out Boy (FOB), the hot young band that just finished its successful Infinity on High tour. It’s led by sarcastically slanted bass-ist/songwriter and potential tabloid-fodder Pete Wentz. (Between his club fights and rotation of high-profile girlfriends, he’s precariously close to becoming this country’s answer to Pete Doherty). Wentz, a talented showman with a whacked imagination, pushed to create a show that would become a visual orgy of the senses, filled with moving video screens, pyrotechnics and pranks. Keeping up with the band and supporting their energetic show takes some of the most creative minds in the business.


The Golden Egg

Richard Cadena • Focus on Design • September 12, 2007

Nikola Tesla was down on his luck. It was 1886, and he had just lost his own company, Tesla Electric Light & Manufacturing, to his financial backers who believed that Tesla’s ideas were impractical. He had no money, and he was forced to work as a manual laborer to put food on the table and have a place to live.

Tesla was one of the most brilliant inventors of all time. Before he walked off his job working for Thomas Edison, and before he started his own company and lost it to his investors, he conceived an idea for building an AC induction motor. At the time, there was no such thing.  


New Eyes for the Old

Richard Cadena • Focus on Design • April 16, 2007
“Discovery consists of looking at the same thing as everyone else and thinking something different.” – Albert Szent-Gyorgyi (9/16/1893 – 10/22/1986), Nobel Prize-winning Hungarian physiologist.

No Crack Problem Here

Richard Cadena • Focus on Design • March 19, 2007

The electrician is master of the theatre domain

“It seems the expectation is that an entertainment electrician should be an engineer, licensed electrician and theatre technician.” Virginia Croskey, an adjunct professor at Prince George Community College in Largo, Md., wrote those words after taking a two-day entertainment electrician’s course. The course is designed to teach the principles behind the practice of being an entertainment electrician. Yes, Virginia, there is more to the entertainment electrician than meets the eye. 


The Amazing Power of Community

Swami Candela • Focus on Design • February 15, 2007

“I not only use all of the brains I have, but all I can borrow.” — Woodrow Wilson, 28th president of the United States (1856-1924)

I, Swami Candela of the third millennium, know all, see all and tell all, except that which I do not know, see or tell. I know the words to “Louie, Louie,” and I know how many LEDs fit on the head of a pin. I hold all the answers to your lighting questions. 


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