Five Questions For: Michael Riotto, Lighting Designer

  1. You recently completed fashion shows in Toronto and Montreal for Browns Shoes, working with John Evans and Darryl Ross from AC Lighting and Jacques Tessier from ArtTech Multimedia. What's the biggest challenge for lighting this type of production?

    Being a show that's about the shoes, it was obviously important that the audience see the product yet at the same time, not be staring at the floor the entire time either. Fortunately, we had a custom yellow marley flooring that just worked out tremendously. It really helped create a nice bounce off the floor, and the indirect light just filled in all the gaps and really lit the model and the product well. We also had practically no time for programming, so thank God for Darryl and the Vista. He rocked it, and it was a real pleasure to work with him and AC Lighting.

  2. You also do a lot of design work aboard cruise ships. What are the big hurdles in those spaces?

    Cruise ships tend to be the worst environments for anything electrical, so you try to design systems that are simple and as maintenance-free as possible because things will fail. Also, with fuel prices where they are, it's becoming extremely important to revisit the various dimming systems and intensities, even equipment, that were originally specified and reevaluate, so that's a constant challenge in itself.

  3. You're also building some custom LED products in addition to your design work. Tell us about that.

    It's awesome. For architectural projects, we'll take existing LED fixtures or components, break them down, and have custom-built face-plates designed and fabricated to fit a specific environment. On more of an engineering level, we're collaborating with well-known manufacturers in creating custom-built LED retrofit fixtures that incorporate DMX and auto-sensing power supplies for the cruise industry. That's just starting to take off, and we're having a blast.

  4. What has been the proudest moment in your career?

    From a recognition standpoint, it probably has to be winning an AV Award at last year's InfoComm/Archi-Tech awards in Anaheim. I am so proud of what we accomplished on that project (Celebrity Cruises Infinity Teens Disco) with such little resources and believed that it was worthy of being recognized, and sure enough it was (among other high profile projects). It was the “little project that could.”

  5. What inspires you?

    I have a huge passion for architecture. I've always known what I wanted to do and have had a lot of passion for lighting. If I wasn't a lighting designer, I'd probably be an architect. The marriage of the two is where you really begin to have some fun, and when you're in a space that has a good synergy, it makes the world of difference.

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