DoP/LD Victor Fable meets challenge to customize looks for each artist under strict time constraints
One of America’s top lighting designers for television, Victor Fable, knows how to make top acts look good on a tight schedule. For AT&T Audience Network Music Concerts series performances, the designer lights up to 18 different acts over a hectic six-day taping period in Los Angeles.
The concert series are quite the challenge with artists across all genres of music performing on two different stages – a private studio stage and a club stage with live audience. So far this year, Fable has lit two series of shows, one taped in early March at Red Studios in Hollywood and another taped in July at MBS Studios in El Segundo. The musical performances, which also include in-depth interviews, air Friday nights on DIRECTV, AT&T U-verse and DIRECTV NOW.
Elation lighting fixtures have featured in AT&T Audience Network Music Concerts the past few years and this year the designer has turned to two of the company’s newest LED moving heads to help differentiate looks – the full-featured Artiste Picasso™ and the compact DARTZ 360™.
Finding ways to customize looks
Fable uses an overhead base truss lighting system as part of the standard design for all performances yet needs to find ways to customize looks for each artist on a very tight schedule. Although the overhead system changes little from performance to performance as time is limited, the designer finds unique ways to make variations using discreetly placed floor lights and finds other places to hide luminaires. “You don’t see the overhead rig as much as you see the lights in the lower part of the rig,” he explains, “so that’s where the challenge lies. I try to find lights that haven’t been used too many times on other shows and like to mix automated lights with traditional film and movie lights.”
Always up for a challenge, Fable finds ways to customize each performance on an extremely tight schedule. There are a lot of factors to consider and the designer does what he can to accommodate each artist. “If the band sends a set list with color signatures, I’ll incorporate it” he says. “Another determining factor is the band set up and what equipment they might bring. Sometimes they bring in their own stuff and we have to think fast, work quick or work around it. It’s very much something that comes up the morning of the shoot or right before the band comes on.”
And, of course, there is an artist’s LD to interact with although Fable doesn’t always know if they will be on location. “You want to give them as much as you can,” he says, although he admits with so many artists to deal with there is little time for nuances and he often paints with big, broad strokes. “The most important thing is trying to get a good blend of different looks so when the show’s there everybody feels like they got something that is special and unique to them. The DARTZ are great to do that with because they work well as a single light but you can cluster them together and they look like an ACL bar. They were crucial as floor units and because they’re not big they would fit between things and not be standing out.”
The compact beam/spot DARTZ projects a powerful three-degree beam that is comparable to larger discharge lamp fixtures but also houses an effects package that includes two prisms and gobo projection capability. “I love the DARTZ and have used it on a lot of shows,” Fable says. “It’s a great little light and fills a hole for me. It’s a little smaller than the Sharpy or the Platinum Extreme; it’s lighter with a nice beam. You can cluster them together and they do some really cool effects even without having to use the 360-degree movement.” Fable says he didn’t use the DARTZ’s 360 continuous rotation on any of the last 18 shows but did use it to add dynamic movement on a Stone Temple Pilots performance during the first series of shows earlier this year. “It’s a good light that makes some really pretty pictures and when you manipulate the prism you get a good beam spread.”
On the July series taping, which included a performance by KT Tunstall, Fable hung Elation’s new Artiste Picasso™ LED moving head and says they looked great. “They paint beautiful pictures and are really bright. In fact, a couple of people on the set didn’t know they were LED until we told them,” he said. “It’s a good broad light you can use to do a lot of different things. The colors are gorgeous, they are rich, and the internal effects are good. And one thing I absolutely love having is a wide zoom range for blowing out gobos wide and soft.” Fable also praises the fixture’s CRI adjustment filter, which worked well on camera. “I honestly didn’t think it was going to look as good on camera as it did so I was happy with that.” Part of Elation's award-winning, theatrical-grade Artiste series, the 23,000 lumen Artiste Picasso houses a 620W cool white LED engine and advanced optical system for a powerful, crisp output and extremely uniform field of light.
The designer has used a slew of other Elation lights on AT&T Audience Network Music Concert shows this year (Satura Profile, Platinum SBX, Platinum FLX, Fuze Wash 120, Fuze Wash 350, and Platinum Beam Extreme) but has a favorite lineup. “If I could choose an arsenal that I would use on every show I think it would be the DARTZ and Picasso working with the Fuze,” he says, adding that he would throw in some Platinum Extremes for big punch looks. “You can do a lot with that combination.”
It’s a lot to handle in a busy 10-12 hour day and Fable is thankful for the support he has had in lighting the music series. “There are a lot of challenges and pitfalls but I have a really good crew that works well together,” he concludes.
Lighting Designer: Victor Fable
Lighting Programming: Esteban De La Torre-Alva
Lighting Directors: Robert Dick, Esteban De La Torre-Alva, Nicolas McCord
Best Boy: Christian Killingsworth