Creative Conversations: Lynden Gare

(© Colourblind) Lynden Gare of Colourblind

Melbourne, Australia – Like so many who have forged a successful career on the technology side of live entertainment, Lynden Gare’s interest was first fired in childhood. For Lynden, the trigger came in the form of some shiny new kit while at primary school in Melbourne, Australia.

“The hall had a major upgrade and installed a 640x480 VGA projector, 16 Par56 cans, and a 24-channel 0-10V analogue Strand lighting console,” he remembers fondly. “It was a great space that really fostered creativity and experimentation, and I’m so pleased to have been able to learn in it.”

His interest persisted at high school, where an “astute principal” decided that Lynden’s time would be better spent in the school theatre than in history lessons. “Then a family friend introduced me to the lighting supervisor at Channel 9, and through work experience and school holiday work, I got my foot in the door at the leading television studio of the time,” he says.

Fast forward to adulthood, and Lynden had become a busy freelance lighting director and programmer. It was amid this frenetic period of varied projects that Lynden first set out to expand his skill-set to include media servers. “I was thrown in the deep end with Hippotizer V2 on a variety show for Channel Nine - a live audience of 16,000 and TV audience of 2-3 million,” he recalls. “I made a programming mistake when I was checking my programming right before doors and managed to put colour bars to line across the 26 metre rear wall of Martin LC Panels. Naturally, from that point on, I wanted to learn more about media servers!”

He soon mastered Hippotizer V2, but circumstances dictated that it would be some time before the software was to become a permanent part of Lynden’s professional toolkit. “It wasn’t until Hippotizer V4 came to maturity in 2016 that it came to our attention again as the leading option for our work-flow,” he says.

But long before Hippotizer V4, increasing demand for Lynden’s skills had led him into a situation that will be familiar to all good freelancers. Juggling rising demand, he found his reluctance to turn work down was unbalancing his work-life balance. On the plus side, it planted the seeds that would lead to the formation of his now successful company, Colourblind, in 2010.

“It was mainly a fear of missing out on opportunities if I ever turned a gig down,” he says. “I imagined a bunch of freelancers sharing resources to make life easier – employing someone to take care of the administration of all of our jobs and reducing burn-out. I floated the idea to some like-minded people I’d worked with and Colourblind was born.”

Today, Colourblind provides lighting, screens and integrated video programming services to clients in Australia and worldwide. The company has provided real-time video playback solutions for television sets including Carols by Candlelight, The Logie Awards, and the Australian Open broadcast, and to concert tours where Hippotizer’s proven reliability and flexibility during production periods has served artists such as Flume, Rüfüs Du Sol, Hayden James and DMAs.

“Our projects still include a lot of television lighting and screens work – which is where two of our team really cut our teeth,” says Lynden. “And increasingly we’re designing and managing bespoke builds with video integration for musical performances, be it one-off specials or international tours.”

As that work has grown, Lynden and the Colourblind team have fixed on Hippotizer as their go-to media server solution. Expanding on its appeal, he says, “While other software is highly dependant on a timeline-based workflow, with all media assets needing to be delivered in exactly the correct codec prior to programming, we found our clients required more flexibility. They might want to bring a USB with an H.264 graphic they used years ago for us to implement in their show last-minute, or perhaps go off-script while live to air, requiring us to run a sequence of assets out of order. The Hippotizer engine is built for this flexibility.”

He continues, “We love the built-in media encoder included in the engine. Often in broadcast the Hippo network includes a NAS drive for our on-site video graphics team to deliver assets to. The encode and sync process greatly improves our workflow speed, meaning happy producers!”

And just as flexibility is core to the Hippotizer engine, so creativity is at the heart of the Hippotizer’s advanced tool set. “Powerful components like the Pixel Mapping engine, and Colour Blocks (within VideoMapper) are favourites at Colourblind,” says Lynden. “Video ends up on all kinds of surfaces, not just LED screens and projection. We generally run a lean team at FOH once a tour is under way, so enabling control of the media server via the lighting console is our preferred mode of operating. Hippotizer makes this very straightforward.”

With Hippotizer at his command, Lynden has come to relish the most challenging of projects. “I love a broadcast awards show,” he says, “because there’s no room for error whatsoever. At the 2019 Asian Academy Awards in Singapore, we delivered a graphics package including real-time text renders via Notch, enabling last-minute changes without the need to re-render.

“However, the most fun project was the Nicolas Jaar world tour of 2017, where I was given four Marshall POV cameras, and a couple of 30k projectors and told by design firm, Children of the Light, to ‘get creative’! We embraced video feedback, and projected animations through smoke in brilliant new ways.”

As an advanced Hippotizer user over the past four years, Lynden is a member of Green Hippo’s Key User Support Programme (KUSP) – a worldwide network of knowledge-sharing ‘super-users’ – and has developed close links with the Green Hippo support team. “Being part of the KUSP group means I’m frequently in touch with the product specialists at Green Hippo, and I’m often in their ear about a tweak to a feature that would help us, or answering some questions about how we managed to use their software in an unintended way!

“Often, before a large project, we will speak on the phone with the US team in the morning, and continue with the UK team in the afternoon. The support team are incredibly dedicated and thorough – we’ve even had new features delivered overnight for us to use.”

Looking to future developments in media server technology, Lynden says, “I think the workflow between graphic designer and media server will be greatly improved, making it easier to get templates to designers so they can better understand how their work will translate to the 3D space.”

Find out more about Colourblind’s work here: https://www.colourblind.com.au/projects/

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