Excitement for ABC-TV’s Academy Awards show built well before the telecast began with the arrival of celebrities captured by the “Oscars Opening Ceremony: Live from the Red Carpet.” The pre-show, held on famed Hollywood Boulevard outside the Dolby Theater, featured for the first time Claypaky K-EYE K20 HCR LED wash lights selected by lighting designer Madigan Stehly.
Stehly has worked on the Red Carpet show for the last five years. This year marked his first in the Lighting Designer’s seat. He describes his brief for the live broadcast as “daylight reinforcement” since the show leads into a golden hour, which “quickly changes the intensity, quality and colour of light” as the sun sets.
“The whole Red Carpet is the show, not just the defined interview stages,” says Stehly. “Celebrities arrive and interact with each other – that’s part of the broadcast as well. Viewers see the step-and-repeat in the background. There can’t be a jarring change between the stage and the Red Carpet or between one stage and another as we constantly fight to keep up with the sun. Each light in the rig is placed with a specific purpose of creating a consistent environment around the carpet.”
He reminds us the show presents all the challenges of live production, too. “Sometimes we’re on script, sometimes we don’t know what will happen next, but we always have to be ready react quickly.”
This year’s show featured “a major change to the position and format of the main stage – where the bulk of the show is centred,” Stehly says. “We took the conventional square stage that we’ve had in years past and pulled it out into the middle of the action – like an island in the middle of the red carpet. It was formatted to be shot in the round, meaning cameras had the potential to see 270º of the carpet at any time. We knew there was always a chance the producers would find camera angles and moves we hadn’t thought of.”
To deal with the stage design change, Stehly and his team “swapped out of some of the older lights in favour of more modern, controllable fixtures that gave us greater control of the environment, creating a more cohesive design.
“We had a horseshoe of LED panels, but still needed a moving, colour-corrected key light that could give us a punch of white light,” he explains. “With the Claypaky K-EYE K20s, we could adjust colour and intensity levels on people in various positions, and react quickly to the changing environment.”
Stehly saw a demo of the K-EYE K20s by ACT Lighting last December, and the Red Carpet show was his first deployment of the fixtures. “I like their colour control and lack of colour shift,” he says. “With their high CRI value, the colour rendering is true. And the six-chip system mixes colour more effectively.”
He hung two K20 fixtures strategically from the truss canopy on the Red Stage. Four more were in the step-and-repeat area replacing HMIs used in past years.
“During load in, We set all the colour temperatures across the range we knew we’d need as the show progressed,” Stehly recalls. “The variation across intensities and zoom ranges for the show was minuscule. We knew we could rely on the K20s for the duration of the sunset as our show environment got warmer and dimmer.”
The photographers working the step-and-repeat area were also pleased with the K20s, he adds. “They commented that they preferred the K20s to the HMIs we used to use.”
Stehly says the next time he needs wash lights he’ll “go back to the K20s hands down.” He’s also eager to try the smaller K-EYE K10 fixtures. “They’d potentially be great for smaller rooms or inside scenery. They deliver the same controllable quality of light in a smaller package.”
Stehly’s Red Carpet team included lighting programmer Andrew Webberly and Gaffer Mike McLeod. ACT Lighting is the exclusive distributor of Claypaky fixtures in North America.
Francesco Romagnoli, Claypaky area manager for North and Latin America, added, “It’s an honour to have our K20s so prominent on such a high profile event. Mr Stehly is a great designer and really made our fixtures shine.”