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Behind the Lighting and Recording Scenes at Austin City Limits, Part 2

Aug 31, 2011 10:38 AM, with Bennett Liles

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And just like the performers, once the audience gets in the swing of things they tend to relax and just get into it.
If you’ve ever watched the Austin City Limits show, the sound is marvelous and part of that is the close mic’ing, but when you’re in their venue itself the sound is pretty wonderful too because the audience is really engaged and paying attention to the show and that tends to make a quieter audience even with the preponderance of beer and well the bars available around the venue it’s all a very benevolent environment. [Timestamp: 7:31]

You were talking before about all the different lighting control points that you have obviously for the TV taping an important thing for the lighting people is to have a good, accurate video monitoring setup. So is that all part of one package that moves around?
Well actually when they’re taping generally there are two lighting consoles positioned. One is more of a conventional console…a Strand Light Palette VL300 and that is usually sitting in the broadcast control room with the lighting director and then the second console, the moving light console—Whole Hog Full Boar–is often setting out either on the mezzanine level or at house mix depending on square footage availability. So the Hog—generally they’re just looking at the room and the conventional console is looking at the video image and that’s what they’re concentrating on and that works out very, very well for them. [Timestamp: 8:31]

Yeah, Austin City Limits has that traditional look. Is there more to the lighting in terms of moving lights and changes than there used to be?
Well they’re more and more getting into lots of moving stuff. At this point there are 40 high-end XT-1 intelliaspots up there in their world moving around as well as a lot more conventional lights and there were quite a number of Wybron Cygnus fixtures there, LED fixtures. So there’s actually a lot going on in there and as times have past the show has gotten more and more moving light oriented. There’s actually a lot going on, a lot to watch, but again the wonderful part is that everybody has been doing the show for so long that they know what to expect of each other and the communication between the conventional light person who is the lighting director, Walter Olden, and the moving light console operator is direct. They’ve got their own intercom and they can adjust accordingly. By the by, you had said a lot of the tweaking with the video shouldn’t happen during rehearsals—there is not a lot of rehearsals. The band comes in, they step through their set with the director, they mark through a number or two but when they come out and play—they’re playing. That all is a very live thing that you’re seeing taped so some of what happens that they manage to capture with all of the cameras is what is very unique for that day and that venue. [Timestamp: 10:2]

Well, I guess if it were well rehearsed it would looked too rehearsed so the spontaneity is part of the whole effect.
Exactly, and the director and his camera guys are, again, they’ve worked together, again, for a very long time and it’s a rather brilliant operation to have there where they know what each other wants and they know what to expect from each other so they’re able to capture a lot and then also having 7 cameras to spend to cover it—because there is a lot of cameras around there. [Timestamp: 10: 27]

Well, Austin City Limits is obviously a big feather in your cap, but what other projects has Theatre Consultants Collaborative done or do you have coming up?
We’ve got a lot of projects behind us and in front of us, but highlights that have been opened in the relatively recent past: the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in Denver, Ruby Diamond Concert Hall at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Temple University Event Center in Philadelphia, and Dock Street Theater down in Charleston, S.C. for some reason want openings that are pretty darn cool. Coming up we’ve got the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, in Wilmington, N.C. a really cool 1,500 seat space for the Cape Fear Community College, in Florence, South Carolina for Frances Marion University a really funky proscenium theater is opening up this fall and then in Austin also we’ve got the Zachary Scott Theater opening there and then down in San Marcos, Texas, Texas State University has a new multi-theater facility opening and then there are probably about 60 other projects in design at the moment, so lots going on. [Timestamp: 11:42]

Well, it’s going to be interesting next time we all see Austin City Limits we’ll know a little bit more about what’s going on behind the scenes with lighting and the TV tapings, so it’s going to make the show even more interesting than it was before.
It’s a very cool show. No wonder it’s lasted as long as it has and I hope everybody enjoys the new room—we certainly are very proud of it. [Timestamp: 12:01]

All right, Curtis Kasefang from Theatre Consultants Collaborative thanks for taking the time to tell us about the new venue at Austin City Limits and some other things that you are doing—thanks for being here.

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