Monday, December 8, 2008

imagine lighting obama?

One of our tasks in designing the stage for The Crystal Awards was to make it look good both in person AND on camera, and of course to honourably frame the presence of Catherine O'Hara (if anyone needs a flashback to my favourite Catherine O'Hara scene in Beetlejuice, Click here !). But afterwards, I couldn't help but wonder to myself...what would one do to light and design the stage for one of the world's most historical, Barack Obama on his historical election night?

It seems that such a history-making event was truly an undertaking for some of the best lighting designers in the world! The monochromatic, muted blue stage was designed by Bruce Rodgers, and the lighting was designed by Bob Peterson. Apparently, Obama's team instructed that "the lighting was to be appropriately conservative with no celebratory effects. The brief was to elegantly transfer from the exuberance of the campaign to the seriousness of the presidency."
The challenges: apparently there was an important camera view to consider when lighting and designing (the "cut shot", which extended from the southwest corner of the park through the President-Elect into the crowd, and all the way to the city skyline in the background. See pic below...

In addition, they were worried that lights from the press cameras would be an "uncontrollable competitive light source", detracting from Obama's face as he made his speech.

In the end, they used the powerful lights extending from the audience to the treelines, hundreds of soft flood likes called Chimera's and Kinos and the world's biggest softlight, to compensate for all the media flash bulbs. The results? I think they did a great job of keeping it "un-glamorized," but still making Obama look incredibly humbled and important.

I'm not sure if anyone noticed, but there were two massive bulletproof pieces of glass framing Obama - kudos to them for keeping them inconspicuous on the stage!! I thought this was a neat shot of the backstage staff cleaning the bulletproof panels!

Photos and information from and the Lighting China blog.

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