As the largest lighting design firm in the broadcast industry, LDG (Lighting Design Group) works extensively for the major networks, and beyond, across the globe. It’s impossible to turn on a television without seeing their design work in action. When Good Morning America expanded their production facilities at Times Square Studios late last year, LDG’s Senior Vice President of Design, Dennis Size, lighting designer for GMA, specified 20 High End Systems SolaSpot 1500s to augment the new space.
The multi-Emmy winning LD designed the original GMA at the Times Square facility nearly twenty years ago. When the show decided to add the much larger space on the second floor last year, there was a distinct need to purchase new fixtures for the production. Size explains, “The initial feeling was that we could just move some of our existing lights upstairs and I said ‘no, you can’t do that’. The First Floor studio is an active space, and you can’t hang enough conventional fixtures to cover all the positions from so many camera angles. Moving lights became the solution. When I redesigned the studio, this was one of the ways I was able to get as much production bang for the buck without having to hang a million lights.”
“Because of the power demands, and the need to be more efficient, I wanted LED moving lights for the Second Floor studio. Jerry Romano, who is ABC’s sales rep at World Stage, suggested that I try the SolaSpot. I was aware of the 1500s before on rental situations, so I said, ‘fine, we don’t need to try it, let’s just go with it’. GMA purchased a dozen 1500s (budgets being what they are), so I designed the best placement for fixtures in the studio where production is going to be constantly moving and changing the show. The fixture is gangbusters, and I’ve specified it since then on a few other jobs, because it’s truly perfect for this broadcast application.”
“One great thing about the SolaSpot 1500 is its beam spread, which is fantastic for this environment. Because we’re always balancing for daylight’s ever-changing conditions, the color temperature is crucial, and the 1500’s color correction system is great. With its LED efficiency we can reduce the heat, and its excellent diffusers allow us to soften the light on the talent, basically resulting in an ideal fixture. High End has been on the forefront for decades, and the efficiency and the quality of the 1500 is obvious.”
The new format of GMA includes about 30 tables and as many as a 100 audience members, adding a new matrix of potential camera shots to the show. Size points out, “They wanted GMA to take on a bigger live audience format, so the audience surrounds the action at café tables, and it’s not uncommon for a guest or the cast to mingle and even sit down with the audience. There are certain sweet spots, but you can’t light all positions all the time for every camera angle. The programmer and LD are adjusting, focusing and programming live every day. It’s zoned with key and fill light in areas where they can adjust quickly if one of the anchors moves into a spot where there isn’t any light, so the moving lights are very important.”
GMA Staff Lighting Director Sean Conklin comments, “I love working with the SolaSpot 1500’s - I wish I had these back when I did soap operas. The color temperature is always consistent, they can soften with thick diffusion, and they have a sharp edge that cuts well. The 1500s make an impossible job possible.”
In closing, Size adds, “The SolaSpot 1500s turned out to be much more efficient and much cleaner than I expected, and having the zoom range and intensity it has is pretty spectacular. One of the challenges in this studio (which has windows on two sides) is that they’re always fighting daylight. Some days it is extremely bright outside, and they’re running intensities around 100 footcandles in the studio. On darker days, it’s around 70 fc. The SolaSpots can easily cover that range and make it work, which is very important. I also like the ability to use the CYM mix along with the color wheel; too often you can’t get the right color, and with the 1500s you’re able to lay one color on top of the other. As an old ‘color scroller guy’, I used to split colors all the time to make a more textural color wash. Being able to split color on the 1500s’ color wheel is great. The range on the gobos is excellent, and I like the way you can play with focus. For our purposes, unless we’re doing a performance (where you’ll get to put the light through all its paces), it’s truly a matter of the perfect optics for lighting someone’s face. When a camera does an extreme close-up, you want to make sure that the light is pure, as the video shaders are very concerned about CRI and color temperature!”
An ETC Company, High End Systems is a leading manufacturer of automated lighting and control systems for the entertainment industry. For more information on High End Systems, visit www.highend.com.