Live Design Award Winner: Laura Frank

Madonna 2004 Re-Invention Tour. Frank Micelotta, Getty Images.

For a second year, Live Design recognizes outstanding individual designers and teams for excellence in design achievement. This year, six winners are honored: Abe Jacob, for a legendary career in sound design; Beowulf Boritt, for innovation in scenic design on and Off-Broadway; Laura Frank, for technical excellence in media technology for television, special events, theatre, concerts, film, and corporate; Full Flood, for the best in live broadcast lighting for awards shows and special events; Natasha Katz, for sustained achievement in theatrical lighting design; and Seven Design Works (LeRoy Bennett, Cory FitzGerald, and Tobias Rylander), for creativity in collaboration for concert tours, film, and television. The awards will be presented Monday, June 13, 2016 at Upper Story by Charlie Palmer in New York City.

Laura Frank

For more than 20 years, Laura Frank’s career has shifted and evolved, from electrician to programmer, editor to screens producer, technologist to visualist; but no matter the title, she has always been a creative partner. She now owns her company, Luminous FX, LLC, and has worked in various worlds of entertainment, including television, film, theatre, concerts, and corporate events. She has programmed lighting for various musical artists, including David Bowie, Madonna, Miley Cyrus, Martina McBride, and more. Her credits also include Broadway productions Matilda The Musical and Shrek The Musical, broadcast events Latin Grammy Awards and People’s Choice Awards, and the 2003 film School Of Rock.

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Frank’s peers and comrades, Soren West and Hugh Vanstone, express their thoughts on her Live Design Award for technical excellence in media technology.

Laura Frank is a delightful human. That doesn’t qualify her for this award, or for any award, for that matter. What does qualify her?

Laura has technical qualifications, to be sure. By combining her extraordinary intellect and curiosity with chutzpah, she has positioned herself on the cutting edge of our industry. She has made a career of implementing new technology for creative ends, from the first moving lights at [Philips] Vari-Lite to custom-made software written to give creatives the tools needed to bring ideas to life in volumetric video, paving the way for the still-new language of “voxels” that live at a point in space, rather than “pixels” that live on x and y coordinates on a 2D plane.

Laura has aplomb under pressure, and our business of live events is certain to provide lots of it: political, technical, and logistical alike. We work so hard in this business to deliver the productions that we do. It’s like warfare, in a way. When you’re in the trenches, battling to survive—survive that moment when the doors open, the audience pours in, the curtain goes up, and everyone expects perfection for the sake of their entertainment pleasure—it’s imperative to be surrounded by the most competent people, and Laura Frank is certainly one of them. But to survive that experience over and over again as those of us in this field must do, that requires something more: that we are surrounded by people who are not only competent, but who are also easy to be with as likable people. So, as I said, Laura Frank is a delightful human. That doesn’t qualify her for this award, but it sure makes the pleasure of seeing her get it that much greater.

—Soren West, CEO of Atomic Design

Black Girls Rock! on BET 2016

I first worked with the fabulous Laura Frank in 2000 on a production of Follies at The Belasco Theatre, having been introduced by my associate and friend Philip Rosenberg. The production wasn’t particularly well-received, but it marked the start of a rewarding partnership for me. We went on to work on several Broadway shows together, including Spamalot, Shrek The Musical, and A Steady Rain.

Throughout the past 15 years of collaboration, the thing I have loved most about working with Laura is her brilliant charm and personality, which make it so much easier to be creative. No techie bullshit, nothing to prove, just calm and thoughtful input to the process of making, not to mention a wicked wit. For me, it is these qualities that mark Laura out from others. Coupled with these admirable qualities, she has a technical knowledge second to none, so it makes a winning combination.

It is also worth noting that Laura has joined my team in various capacities, from lighting programmer to media associate, and regardless of the role, her presence in the room is equally rewarding to the artistic venture involved. That is because she goes out of her way to become part of the entire team and, in some magical way, helps everyone working on the show. It’s certainly true that the more kind and calming influences, like Laura, you have in the room, the more the garden grows.

I have no idea what the future will hold for us, but I’d be prepared to go on any kind of adventure with Laura and feel completely confident of a great experience where we can enjoy giving the best, because that’s what Laura does.

—Hugh Vanstone, Lighting Designer

For more, download the May issue of Live Design for free onto your iPad or iPhone from the Apple App Store, and onto your Android smartphone and tablet from Google Play.

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