Having cooked up a new look for Food Network's "Ultimate Recipe Showdown" last year, lighting designing Christopher Landy of Brooklyn-based Vibrant Design LLC recently teamed with Art Edwards, executive producer with High Noon Entertainment, on "Food Network Challenge," the hit competitive cooking series in which professional chefs vie for top honors in their specialties.
The seventh season is devoted to cake decorating and viewers will discover how tough it was for the four contestants to achieve such amazingly beautiful results: The grueling contest lasted eight hours straight and a $10,000 prize was on the line.
Landy flew to Denver, with his gaffer Gerard McCarthy and his associate Matthew Piercy to light the show's new set at LSI, the film studio where the Perry Mason TV movies and the "Father Dowling" mystery series were shot. He and his crew spent three weeks getting the show up and running.
"I liked Chris's work on 'Ultimate Recipe Showdown' and wanted him to recreate that same look and feel for 'Food Network Challenge,'" says Edwards. "We had a new set by art director Jeff Hall, a new host and upped the production value of the show. I wanted lighting to also come up with some new additions. Chris was the guy to make it cool and hip without too heavy a hand. After all, we're not a game show: We're still a food show, and food is the star."
"LSI is a huge space, especially coming from New York," Landy notes. "We were really able to create some great shots with an enormous amount of depth. This allowed the cakes to really pop against the dynamic backgrounds. With eight hours of cake decorating to shoot, it was our job to make the shots as interesting as possible." The previous seasons were lit very film-style with no color or movement. Landy brought a lot more technology to the table. "We basically said, okay, what LED's and moving lighting gear is available in town, when I received the list back, I said 'Great, we'll take it all.'" Despite the fact that the local crew was from a film background, they all rose to the occasion. "The crew in Denver was amazing. Our lighting director, Laszlo Varga, was great about adapting to a different style. Laszlo really knew the show and really cared, I was very comfortable leaving the show in his hands. "
Landy accomplished his goal with a combination of moving lights, LEDs and conventional fixtures. He opted for 12 VARI*LITE VL2500 spots, 12 Martin Mac 700 washes, 124 Color Kinetics' Colorblast 12s and 17 72-inch Colorblazes to give a more dynamic feel to the high-pressure contest. He mixed in a pair of 1x1 Litepanel LEDs plus more than a hundred 750-watt ETC Source 4 lekos, 36 ETC 750-watt SPARs, 60 Baby 2K fresnels, a 5K fresnel, 70 200-watt PARs and two dozen 100-watt Birdie PARs.
A grandMA console was selected for lighting control with a second in reserve for backup.
"Chris did a great job, as expected," says Edwards. "He made the show interesting for longtime viewers and eye-catching for channel surfers who decided to put down the remote and watch."
About Vibrant Design
Vibrant Design LLC is an entertainment design firm providing a full range of set and lighting design services to broadcast and cable TV, live productions, corporate events and theater as well as architecture and interior design. For more information, visit www.vibrantdesign.tv.