LD Profile: Paul McElroy

Posted on September 20, 2011

Six Questions with Paul McElroy
Lighting/Audio/Video Technician for Caven Enterprises, Inc.

1. How did you get into this field?
I have been a lighting designer since 1997. I have always been interested in lighting—I was born with it pulsing thru my blood. To quote someone who has personally performed at our club, Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” truly stands true for my passion about lighting. I feel that lighting is an art form and I have always been amazed by it. Most people like the big items while I prefer to find the small hidden details. It’s the subtle things about a light show that i love.

2. What do you think is the next big thing in the lighting industry?
That’s so hard to say—there are a lot of LED fixtures coming out that I’m not really a fan of. I’m OK with still using my discharge lamps. I see the lighting industry taking the same path that televisions did in terms of taking the 3D route. I feel someone out there has a 3D light that they are just waiting to breakout and introduce to the world. I think it would be way cooler for crowds to see gobos passing over them in 3D than just projected on a wall or stage.

3. Do you have a favorite fixture?
Do I have to pick just one? It’s so awesome to see designers who use a mixture of traditional theatrical lighting with new moving lights. I find the blend of old school and new school to be truly amazing.

4. What has been your favorite design/project?
Station 4, a 24,000-square-foot club in Dallas is my favorite design project so far. The lighting grid moves in different positions so you can design a program in one position, and by the time you have moved the grid into a different position, the same program looks totally different. I have written a lot of programs for our console so no two shows are ever the same on a given night.

5. What was the biggest unforeseen obstacle that you’ve faced in one of your designs, and how did you overcome it?
Station 4 is an ongoing obstacle. The dance floor is square and our lighting rig is a massive circle, so essentially, I’m trying to make a circle fit into a smaller box. You have to get creative and make it work.

6. Complete this thought: A show without lights is like…
A show without lights is like a ski slope without snow. Lighting sets the mood for the entire show, and without light, nobody would be able to see it. When I run a light show, I like to set the mood and tell a story with the fixtures.