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Cooking Up Content for Apple, Disco Biscuits, Singers, LDs, Pulp Fiction

Debi Moen • Designer WatchMarch 2021 • March 4, 2021

The Disco Biscuits’ “Live at Ardmore Music Hall” will air soon on Sessions. Photo by Drew Mercadante

While stay-at-homers are baking bread in record numbers during this pandemic, friends in our live event industry are cooking up content of a different sort. PLSN checked in with the creators to find out what visual treats they were concocting for TV, live streaming, online keynote speeches and other media.

‡‡         Supervoid Stays Super Busy

Drew Mercadante of design team Supervoid reports a super busy year so far. In February they handled production design, lighting design, multi-cam direction and content creation for an upcoming Live From Nowhere streaming event for The Disco Biscuits.

“We set up shop in a warehouse space in Philadelphia and created something really otherworldly and psychedelic to give viewers at home a unique experience,” Mercadante explained. “It’s something more akin to the classic psychedelic music films of the ‘60s and ‘70s. We also shot another performance with the band at Ardmore Music Hall the week earlier for Sessions (sessionslive.com), which will air soon.”

Most recently, the Supervoid team handled lighting programming and multi-cam direction for a benefit concert stream for Rock to The Future, an organization that gives musical instruments and lessons to Philadelphia-area youth who otherwise wouldn’t have access. The VibeXChange concert airs March 13 via Forward Theory Studio’s YouTube page (plsn.me/forward).

On the content side, Mercadante said they directed, edited and “did a boatload” of cel animation and VFX for a music video for “Changes” by DECOUPLR (plsn.me/Decouplr). “It was great to take our content creation skills that are usually reserved for creating video backdrops for live performances and target them toward a full music video,” the designer added.

‡‡         Junior Gets Vocal, Masks Up

With no live gigs to report, Mark “Junior Jacobson has been staying busy as a TV lighting programmer the past two months. “It took a little while to get my foot back in the door since I was out of town on tours for most of the past two years,” Junior said, “but I’m slowly getting TV work again.” His latest projects encompassed the offstage reality portions of NBC’s The Voice, whose new 20th season starts airing March 1, and field/2nd unit work on FOX’s The Masked Singer, whose 10th season starts March 10.

Junior described the areas he’s focused on for The Voice: the contestants providing their back stories; rehearsing in a recording studio with coaches/mentors, and backstage getting ready to go on. On Masked Singer, the footage is of the judge’s interviews and contestant back stories including clues to their identities. There are also shots of them getting “suited up” and attended to by the Men in Black attaches as well as show openings and various other things. “Most of it is shot in front of green-screen or a video screen backdrop,” he said. “Sometimes it is shot with just some moving lights and [light] tubes behind them.”

Celine Royer is creating new content for Apple Fitness+.

‡‡         Celine Works for Workout App

Celine Royer started working on Apple Fitness+ as lighting programmer/operator back in July, prior to its launch in December 2020. The subscriber workouts are powered by Apple Watch. “We film new content every day, videos of people working out so the subscriber can exercise along with it,” she said. Yoga, dance, cycle strength, rowing, treadmill walking and more are filmed in one studio in Los Angeles. “It’s definitely a different approach to lighting compared to what I used to do,” she added. While she really enjoys it and feels “very lucky to find this during this weird time,” Royer said she “can’t wait for concerts to happen again.”

‡‡         Militello’s Lighting Inspiration

Anne Militello was slated to serve as keynote speaker representing the Americas on March 8 for a Women in Lighting global online event for International Women’s Day. The group is mostly comprised of female designers in the architectural lighting field. “I’ve been working in architecture more than in music the last 10 years,” said the designer, who’s also currently teaching lighting at Cal Arts. Her talk — which will be interactive with online viewers — will focus on inspiration. Visit womeninlighting.com.

‡‡         Hoagland at Country Radio Seminar

Keith Hoagland of CKP Lighting LLC designed and operated the lighting system for Country Radio Broadcasters’ 2021 Country Radio Seminar (CRS): The Virtual Experience Feb. 16-19. “We filmed my two parts of the Country Heat sessions presented by Amazon Music back on Feb. 1-2,” Hoagland said. Artists were Track45, Kameron Marlowe, Priscilla Block and headliner Tim McGraw. Between Feb. 4-5 the team also filmed members for CRS’s New Faces lineup: Hardy, Tenille Arts, Matt Stell, Travis Denning and Ashley McBryde.
CKP has also been handling live streaming duties for BBR Music Group’s label artists including Elvie Shane, Runaway June and again, Track45. “It was such a great pleasure working with all these artists and having such a great time performing again,” Hoagland said.

‡‡         Swinford’s All-Star Designs

Mike Swinford spent February talking hoops, working on the National Basketball Association’s All-Star Game production design. The exhibition game takes place March 7 at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, with coverage on TNT. The design is influenced by a “limited live audience and some virtual via screens due to Covid,” Swinford said. “A normal three-night NBA All-Star Weekend is being compressed to a single day.”

Joel Reiff’s latest output

‡‡         Reiff’s Pulp Fiction

Foreigner knows what love is. Ask Joel Reiff. He had just taken the role as the band’s lighting director, running longtime LD Cosmo Wilson’s design for one month, when the Covid-19 lockdown hit last year. “Foreigner has been taking amazing care of us by selling off merchandise and special items with all proceeds divided between the nine crew members,” the lighting director told PLSN. “Talk about putting the ‘class’ into ‘classic rock!’”

While awaiting the band’s first 2021 performance dates — originally slated outdoors for March 23-24 in Orlando, but now pushed out a few months — Reiff has picked up the pen and gone prolific, churning out three new novels now available on Amazon. The Trophy Life and Torturing the Trees are the first two in a series described as “murder mysteries with a noir taste to them,” while Three Sides to Every Story is his second collection of “twisted” short stories. “I recommend my novels to anyone looking for a little departure from the mundane day-to-day.” Aren’t we all!

Break away from the mundane and email Debi Moen with your plans for 2021. Reach her at dmoen@plsn.com.

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