LDI Speaker Spotlight: Rob Halliday

London-based lighting designer, programmer, and author, Rob Halliday, will be fielding a triple-header as a speaker at LDI this year: he’s taking part in The Art Of Programming panel, as well as moderating two sessions he helped develop—Two’s Company and Moving Up The Lighting Ladder.

Moderated by Jim Ohrberg, the resident LD at SeaWorld in Oralndo, The Art of Programming—a special two part session on Saturday, October 25 from 9:00am-12:30pm—includes Halliday as well as programmers Brad Schiller, Marcus Krömer, Nicholas Phillips in a reprise of a session that was so popular last year the sun set before the crowd left the room.

Moving Up The Lighting Ladder (Friday, October 24 from 2:00-3:30pm) includes Cirque du Soleil’s LD Jeanette Farmer, LD Paul Collison, who served as lighting supervisor for the Beijing Olympics, and Ted Mather, a leading NY-based LD who returned to the associate’s chair to work once again with David Hersey, this time of the NY version of Equus. Three talented designers who have sat on just about every rung of the lighting ladder on their way to the top!

Two’s Company (Saturday, October 25 from 2:00-3:30pm) is based on the theme that there are often two people at the tech table. Panelists include Bob Bonniol and Sean Cagney of Mode Studios who often work as a team; Paul Collison, who can talk about his Olympic experience of working with an all Chinese crew and LD, and Richard Pilbrow, winner of this year’s Wally Award, and a great champion of assistant and associate designers.

One of the best programmers in the biz, Halliday spent quite a bit of time at brunch last Sunday talking consoles. He is a fan of the Strand consoles, among others, and likes the current Strand Light Palette series, although agrees that Strand should perhaps have not abandoned the 500 series. Actually it’s a busy year for Strand on Broadway with either a 500 series or Light Palette on Equus, Billy Elliot, The Seagull, Mary Poppins, and A Tale Of Two Cities, plus the Spring Awakening Tour in the US. He likens the grandMA to a Formula One racecar: "You have to really be in control to drive it." The Palette is like a Prius: "It's like a hybrid, the inside is really advanced but the hardware isn't that good looking." And ETC's EOS he refers to as the Ford Taurus: "Your average family car, it won't crash and anyone can drive it."

Halliday has also been busy. He recently served as the programmer for the NY production of Equus, working with LD David Hersey and associate Ted Mather. Using his own invention, Focus Track, he took 400 snapshots of the moving lights and 100 of the conventionals in three hours. “It would have taken me a day to figure it out manually and five to six hours to take the photos,” he says. Focus Track was also used to take photos of every scene (so that the lighting crew can later see what every light in doing in every scene) in A Tale Of Two Cities, Billy Elliot, and Mary Poppins. In conjunction with UK LD Ollie Fenwick, Halliday also relit My Fair Lady for a tour, as well as the tour of Mary Poppins, which has a new set, including a smaller version of the house, this time a 3D version that spins and opens on stage. This tour is scheduled to come to the US next spring.

To find out more about Hallidays’ take on consoles, Strand and otherwise, as well as Focus Track and his new book Entertainment In Production: Twelve Years Of Backstage History, two volumes by covering the creation of shows, events and more from 1994-2006, stop by his sessions at LDI.