For 11 seasons, Lighting Designer Kieran Healy has created “concert” looks for American Idol, balancing the requirements for both the studio and television audiences. To realize his design goals,
is providing the lighting system including the new Best Boy® 4000 Spot Luminaire, a precision-engineered automated light with a truly complete feature set. Designed to be energy efficient, the fixture delivers over 20,000 lumens, but draws only 5 amps at 208 volts and 10 amps at 110 volts.
With a wide range of musical styles among contestants and a “who’s who” of guest performances, Healy needs to ensure that the lighting rig is comprised of fixtures that are versatile and powerful. “The Best Boy really is a wonderful light,” said Healy. “Its got a beautiful flat field. Optically, it’s very good. There are some wonderful effects like the Moiré gobos and a couple of 3D-type of effects, which are pretty impressive. Also, it has a really great zoom. Compared to similar lights it’s got a much, much better zoom and a purer quality of light.”
Healy was also impressed with the color system. “We key the show a little bit below daylight and the colors in the Best Boy are very, very rich. There is nothing that I can’t seem to get out of them in terms of any color that I want. Plus, the color changes are very smooth, which is nice because we have a lot of ballads on the show, so if you want to crossfade from one color to another you can,” he said. “It also strobes well and it has a great dimmer curve. For framing, the rotating blades are another plus.”
Lighting Director Joshua Hutchings agrees that the Best Boy is a unique fixture. “The lamp intensity is really impressive especially given the wattage. It is really great having a fully functional hard edge light were we don’t have to give up so much to have a great shutter system,” Hutchings commented. “I see this being the hard edge fixture of choice for designers in TV, film, and theatre, plus the touring guys will love it!”
“One of the most impressive features on the fixture is the amazing zoom. To be able to not only zoom down to a tight clean beam, but also have a template almost fill the entire stage with just one fixture, and still have enough heat to read on camera is awesome,” Hutchings said. “With a trim of only 30?, having that great zoom with the Best Boy became huge. We didn’t have to add more lights to be able to get the same amount of coverage like we would have with almost any other fixture. Anytime you can cover more area with fewer fixtures that’s obviously a plus.”
In addition to reducing the fixture count because the Best Boys cover a large area, the strobe function also helps to lower the total number of lights needed. “We love the fast strobe, which they do very well. We have been using a different strobe fixture, but now I think the Best Boy can replace those, which means hanging a few less lights and being able to spend that money elsewhere,” Healy explained.
Hutchings uses the PRG V676® Lighting Control Console to program American Idol. “I love the V676. I would not want to have to do these shows with any other console,” he said.
American Idol is produced by 19 Entertainment, a division of CKX, Inc. and Fremantle Media North America Inc.
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About Production Resource Group
— Production Resource Group, L.L.C., (PRG) is the world’s leading supplier of entertainment and event technology to a wide range of markets, including corporate and automotive events, concerts, special events, theatre, television and film, trade shows, and installations, such as theme parks, museums, retail stores and performing arts centers. PRG provides integrated services and equipment, including audio, video, lighting, rigging, staging, and scenery and automation systems, for these markets from more than 40 offices in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia.