As the largest locally-owned and operated public media company in central Virginia, Virginia’s home for Public Media (VPM) uses the power of media to enrich the lives of more than 300,000 people throughout the region. Committed to fostering a community that is vibrant in the arts and inspires an environment of learning, VPM has been utilizing the power of live social media programming to further engage with their audience. With the opening of a public-facing office space in downtown Charlottesville, they needed to create an energy-efficient and user-friendly broadcast studio so they chose Gallery LED luminaires and a Smart Track® lighting system from Altman Lighting.
“We operate the local NPR and PBS stations in Richmond, Charlottesville and Harrisonburg, Virginia, and we recently acquired a small office space in downtown Charlottesville,” began Angela Massino, Director of Digital Content and Innovation. “As part of our digital programming, we have been doing a lot of live social media broadcasts featuring interviews with local or touring artists, musicians and writers. In Charlottesville, it was always very difficult because we didn’t have a dedicated space to shoot, so we were always carrying equipment and searching for a good internet connection. When we found out about the new space, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to create a mini-studio where we could turn some lights on, break out the camera, and do our live streaming videos.”
With construction beginning on the new 14-foot by 12-foot office space, the size constraints would provide the most significant challenge with creating a studio lighting design. Additionally, knowing the space would serve as an educational center for those seeking to learn more about their public broadcasting stations, the design also had to be architecturally pleasing to the eye.
“It’s not a very big space so that was really our main challenge to start,” continued Massino. “We had to find the right technology that could fit into a small space, but still give us production-style lighting. Since the primary use of the space would be for the public to walk in and learn about their local PBS and NPR stations, the developers wanted the lights to be on a track system so that it looked clean without a bunch of wires running through a grid. This is really how we found the Altman Lighting Gallery luminaires and Smart Track system.”
“We needed to develop a small LED lighting solution that could function like a production studio, but in an architectural setting with an architectural look,” said Tom Casazza, Altman Lighting Northeast Regional Sales Manager. “When discussing the ability to use Altman Smart Track and the DMX controllable Gallery LED luminaires, it was an ideal choice because it gave us a great mix between theatrical functionality with clean, architectural aesthetics. The system needed to be similar to what they use in their main studios, but in this case, doing it with a track system and a small-profile, soft-edge spot fixture which works perfect for what they wanted to create.”
The Gallery Series is a family of LED luminaires designed to serve as the most versatile solution available, through profile, beam wash, wall wash and flood options across a variety of color temperatures. With a 92+ CRI engine, 4000 lumens of output and dimming options that include local on-board dimming, Mains Dimming, DMX/RDM, 0-10VDC and DALI, the Gallery Series also offers a number of mounting options making it an ideal lighting solution where aesthetic and performance expectations are high.
“Typically, the new space is configured with a reception desk and informational materials for people to review and take home,” explained Massino. “When it is time for a live streaming shoot, we push the reception desk to the back of the office, set up a tall, round table with two directors chairs and a TV in the background for content. We then have a touch screen installed that allows us to use simple lighting presets for the single-camera shoot with a live stream encoder. We usually give ourselves about an hour of lead time prior to an interview to get everything ready, and the lighting system is the easiest production element we use.”
“The biggest advantage to this type system is the overall size and ease of installation,” added Casazza. “Going with a track-based solution allowed them to save space when inches really made a big difference, and electrical contractors understand how to quickly install track systems. Additionally, if we had chosen a typical studio fixture, it would simply take up too much space. The fact that Gallery is a crossover solution that fits into an architectural application, but gives you theatrical performance, really made the complete lighting package a success.”
The Smart Track lighting system is a revolutionary way to power and control individually addressable luminaires without the need for dimmer packs, relay panels, or bulky cable runs. As a cost-effective solution that’s easy to design, install, and maintain, the Smart Track system features independent fixture control of dimmed, switched, and LED sources on a shared power feed, using up to 75% fewer conductors than a traditional lighting track.
“We have done a number of installations using Smart Track for lower ceiling applications where inches make a difference, and it works great,” admitted Casazza. “Trying to put in even a small pipe grid would simply cause you to lose too much height, so a surface mount track ultimately saves you the inches that make the space usable. While there may be a simplicity to the system, they still have all the performance functionality.”
“As we were conducting our research on applicable technologies, there was no other solution provider who could offer both a track-based system and the small, production-grade, track-mounted LED lighting fixtures needed,” concluded Massino. “Normally in production studios, you don’t have to care that much about what’s behind the cameras, but for us, we had to make sure the lighting system looked good in the office space, and it has proven to be a huge benefit as we extend our reach with our online audience.”
Built on quality and excellence, Altman Lighting is one of the leading innovators of theatrical, architectural, film and video lighting today. Founded over 65 years ago by Charles Altman on the philosophy of providing top-quality products at an affordable price, the company has continued with that vision through state-of-the-art product innovations and economical lighting solutions. The experienced design and engineering team has created a family of luminaires that both enhance and illuminate any lighting environment with fixtures that range from incandescent to LED technology. To find out more about the complete Altman Lighting product line visit www.altmanlighting.com, follow on Twitter or find on Facebook.