Six questions with Benjamin Brown, lighting designer for Cason Cleveland Productions and theatre design technology student at Gainesville State College.
1. How did you get into this field?
About four years ago I was trying to discover what I wanted to do in college. I had started out in electrical engineering, but then I helped a friend set up the lights at Lakewood Baptist Church in Gainesville, Georgia, and found that I really liked the art and passion provided by the lighting. One of the best and luckiest parts about it was that the current LD left for school and I was left to learn the Jands Vista S3 console by the following Sunday. The next thing I knew I was doing every week concerts, proms and corporate lighting. I would like to eventually get into the lighting field in a bigger way. I am currently lighting designer for Cason Cleveland Productions while studying at Gainesville State College for theatre design technology, so that I can learn the little things I may have missed learning on my own.
2. What do you think is the next big thing in the lighting industry?
The next step in lighting is to change all moving lights to LED. It has been done to a certain extent, wash lights and smaller movers. But I feel that the first company to make a light like Martin Mac III Profile run off LED instead of bulbs will have found the future.
3. Do you have a favorite fixture (and why)?
My favorite fixture is a tie between the CHAUVET COLORado Batten 72 Tour and the Elation Platinum Beam 5R. I like them for the same reason; they are both extremely powerful and bright for their size. COLORado Batten 72 Tour provides great color over the stage or even when I use them as blinders. I love the color options of COLORado Batten 72 Tour with typical RGB and then the extra white and amber. For me, LED lights only look good when they are actually the color as the beam at the bulbs and the CHAUVET batten provides that. I also love straight lines in a stage design and the batten’s shape provides a natural straight line when looked at head-on.
4. What has been your favorite design/project?
My favorite design project is a youth conference that Lakewood hosted for 10 other churches. I was given the chance to fully design and run the show. I wanted to keep it kind of simple with tons of color provided by the 22 CHAUVET SlimPAR Pro Tri fixtures and six LED Rain 64 lights. I used four COLORrail linear wash lights to light the “unshaken” logo. On the moving light end I had four Elation Platinum Beam 5R lights along with 20 other assorted Martin and Robe spot and wash fixtures. One of the coolest effects we did was to place eight CHAUVET COLORado 2 Tour wash lights in the back of the room to bring the entire room into the show. To top it all off, I used 14 CHAUVET PAR 64 and four COLORado Batten 72 Tour lights to create a blinding effect. It was all ran off Jands Vista S3 console for programmed scenes and presets and from Vista M1 for conventional and house.
5. What was the biggest unforeseen obstacle that you’ve faced in one of your designs, and how did you overcome it?
At one of the homecomings we put on last year we were not allowed to fly our lights. Having everything ground-supported made that design for a dance with over 1,000 students difficult. We would typically use lifts to get the truss high enough to shoot the lights on the crowd but we noticed with the bleachers pushed in, we could put the truss directly on them to create a cool over-shooting effect.
6. Complete this thought: A show without light is like …
… Walt Disney without a dream.