Today I want to write an article for my lighting designer colleagues.
I repeat it often, perhaps too often, but I think that lights and videos are and will always be the same thing: both techniques are part of the great world of lighting, increasingly integrated in that specific area and always divided from the audio.
It is true that one can manage the technology to control video – media servers – from a lighting console. However, there are technicians nerdy enough (like me) to be able to handle both technologies. I see, however, that many lighting designers have a certain repulsion for these new tools.
Well, in my opinion they are wrong: actually, I really believe that’s the way they’re digging their own pit themselves.
Sooner or later, a smart little boy who knows both technologies will arrive in their environment, and that will put them in difficulty with their customer; then they’ll bitterly regret not having committed themselves to study what was new at their door and for not keeping up to date.
I would still divide this argument into two parts: creativity and technicality.
A lighting designer has often to deal with the whole image of the scenography. Being the lights the fundamental aspect, the video is often seen by them as a rupture of boxes to be managed with these video makers (friends of the artist or of the agency) that 2 times out of 3 arrive without knowing what your world as a lighting designer is: a world made up of signals, DMX controls, people who have to arrange the operation of what you need and a lot of hurry because the show has to go on stage.
But, since the lighting designer has to deal with the image of the installation, it should be his concern to worry about which contents, when they will be part of the show and which surfaces will welcome them.
It can often be difficult to reason in technical terms about the video part; after all, a lighting designer, in his creative part, can even do without it, if he can delegate the technical part to someone. It’s still important, however, that they take care of it, with the aim of enhancing the messages that the artist or the architect on duty wants to convey through the images, and to integrate all this content into the lighting work.
An approach that makes everything easier is to think of video as a light source, almost like a giant slide projector (especially in the case of projection mapping, for example). The video is a kind of light: the only substantial difference is that the video brings light with a content, which obviously is decided by a group of people and almost certainly not by the lighting designer himself.
Yes, managing video means having a relationship with other people, interacting, discussing and deciding together.
Therefore showing reticence towards this tool is not only an act of poor professionalism, but can also be a lack of respect for those who are paying your salary.
As for the technical aspect, there’s actually little to say. We need computer skills, we need to know how to use computers well, to be a little nerdy. If you are one of those lighting designers born in the generation that didn’t have mobile phones, my dispassionate advice is: “find someone young, trustworthy and smart to help you with everything that’s about the technological part of video management”. If you take care of maintaining an overall view of the show, including video and all the rest of the material you are using, you’ll have already solved the biggest problem and you will certainly do a great job.