LD Profile: Cody Stoltz

Posted on January 11, 2012

Six questions with Cody Stoltz. The New Orleans-based lighting designer’s goal is to step in the shoes of famous LDs like Nook Schoenfeld, Bryan Hartley or Howard Ungerleider.

1. How did you get into this field?
I’ve always been fascinated by lights, even since I was a baby. One time I was with my family at a four-star restaurant and we had been waiting to be served for a while, so I looked at my dad – I was 3 or 4 – and said, “Let’s go to Rally’s, at least they have the pretty lights there.” Once I turned 6 or 7 I started buying the cheap Wal-Mart novelty lights and did little light shows in my room. For like three years, since I was 8 I designed the color scheme for the float den for the Krewe of Saturn in New Orleans. The Pink Floyd videos from the Pulse Tour really spoke to me, and while going to my first indoor concert for Eric Clapton, I was around 10, and seeing the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. So, I started researching and saving my pennies and bought eight PAR 38 lights and a console in one package, plus 16 CHAUVET PAR 38, 10 LED Pinspot fixtures, a CHAUVET Arena Hazer and a Followspot 1200, plus four Diversitronics DMX 3000 linear strobes. I also got three smaller fader consoles, a MQ PC Wing, two MQ PC Extra Wing controllers, a MQ PC Maxi Wing, and a two-universe Widget from ChamSyS. In 2007 Rush came into town on the Snakes & Arrows Tour, and my stepfather – who’s a rigger– and my mom–who handles audio– were both working on the show. My stepfather met LD Howard Ungerleider and told him about me buying my own lighting package, so Ungerleider suggested I talk to High End Systems about training me on the hog. From there on I started working for RZI Lighting, where I have learned most of what I know.

2. What do you think is the next big thing in the lighting industry?
LEDs are the big thing right now, but there’s still a lot of improvement that I’m waiting to see, like LED spot profiles. The GLP Impression Spot One is a really great light, almost as bright as a MAC 700. However, I don’t think it would hold up in an arena or stadium environment. So definitely waiting to see some 1500-watt equivalent LED profiles. I still think that the plasma lamp technology has a lot of potential too; it just doesn’t seem to be picking up that much attraction yet. I think we will see more lights like the CHAUVET Legend 412 with the LEDs controllable in quadrants. Also, we will probably see more shows where the light will be pixel-mapped with the video, which will be pretty cool.

3. Do you have a favorite fixture (and why)?
I think the CHAUVET COLORado 1-Tri Tour lights are great! Moving-head wise probably the GLP Impression Spot One or the Clay Paky Sharpy depending on the use. Also, I like the Pixelsmart LED PAR from PixelLine.

4. What has been your favorite design/project?
A favorite project I’ve worked on/designed was a fundraiser for the Big Buddy Program at the LSU basketball arena for Stage Right Productions. Originally I was supposed to just program the console and someone else to call the looks for me. But when I got there I started building my pallets on the console and they liked it, and the next thing I knew I was lighting all 25-30 pieces in the show! Granted I didn’t design the rig, the rest was my concept.

5. What was the biggest unforeseen obstacle that you’ve faced in one of your designs, and how did you overcome it?
A week and a half before Mardi Gras last year I came down with severe bronchitis and I had scheduled five nights of raves back-to-back in three different venues. While hardly able to breathe, I honored my schedule and did my job. Also, while working on my first arena show for Lil Wayne, we ran into some issues. The company I work for, RZI Lighting, got the call for the show only two days in advance; they needed 60-70 moving lights, five trusses, moles and strobes. We had everything in our shop plus some already pulled for a massive convention center show, which also just so happened to be pretty close to what we needed. So we all tried to get this show flipped to go to Lil Wayne, and we managed to do that after a very long two days. At 6 a.m. we arrive at the arena and from there till about 6 p.m. it was nonstop. The lighting designer didn’t show up for the three opening acts. Freaking out, the production manager begged us to try and get something on. When we got to the front of house no one in the crew knew anything about a grandMA, except for me. And I just barely knew enough to navigate through the windows and bring fixtures up. I ended up designed the lighting for them, the one look for three bands. It wasn’t pretty when the LD finally came and I could hear him from 30 feet away during the show screaming about why “his” lights were on…

6. Complete this thought: A show without light is like…
…Boring? A waste of time? I might as well just sit at home listening to music…