JOPPA, MD – “Music is the space between the notes,” Claude Debussy famously observed. Fans of the legendary Carl Filipiak would readily agree with the 19th Century French composer on that. Since arriving on the scene in the late 1980s, the award-winning jazz fusion guitarist from Baltimore has moved audiences around the world, not through sheer force, but through the intricate, subtle and often delicately balanced power of his music.
The design team at Harford Sound followed a similar approach when lighting a livestream by the Top 10 recording artists and his Jimi Jazz Band that was videoed in the production area the company set up in its warehouse in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown.
Harford went all out when building its improvised studio, outfitting the space with 75 CHAUVET Professional fixtures and an 18’ x 10’ video wall made up of P4IP panels. This beefy rig is often put to good use during the company’s thrice-weekly livestreams, especially when they feature metal and rock bands. But for the sophisticated sounds of Filipiak, the design team recognized that something more subtle was in order.
“For a performance like this, less is more,” said Harford’s Director of Sales & Marketing, Steve Wozniak, who oversaw the production of the livestream. “The intricacies of Carl’s music do a lot of the talking for us, so bombarding the viewers with over the top graphics — while fun — would’ve been too distracting. We chose simple graphics and animations that worked in conjunction with the tunes rather than an over-the-top add on.”
The Harford team discovered that their potent rig worked just as effectively in subtle mode as it did at full throttle. “Our lightshow complemented the band nicely,” said Wozniak. “Our LD, Kyle Ryman, did a remarkable job creating an impressive, yet easily deployed rig. We had Maverick MK2 Spots, Rogue R2X Washes, RH1 movers and more at his disposal so he was able to be as creative and active as he wanted to be. His color vision is excellent. With all of these fixtures. He was able to pick something impactful without pulling your eyes away from the musicians.”
Color was critical to setting the mood for the show. Relying heavily on the 42 Rogue R2X Washes in the production area rig, Ryman bathed the stage in subtle shades of cool colors. He often rotated the blue and magenta light to create a smooth, easy sense of change on stage that flowed with the music. Uplighting from some of the rig’s 16 COLORado Solo Batten fixtures deepened the color background.
Rotating gobo patterns from the eight Maverick MK2 Spot fixtures contribute to the moving panorama on stage, while also endowing it with greater depth. Light from the Rogue and Maverick fixtures complemented the abstract geometric images on the video wall. These images were colorized to contrast with the color of the lights, which made both elements of the design stand out more sharply.
Creating this compelling show for an internationally acclaimed star whose music has been used on broadcasts of the Olympics demonstrated the strength and flexibility of Harford Sound’s studio — and its staff, according to Wozniak.
“We’ve certainly had to pivot during these times,” he said. “It’s been stressful and eye- opening, but ultimately rewarding. We have a great team and everyone is taking on new responsibilities when we do these livestreams. Our Administrative Director, Kayleigh Daniels, is our lead camera op. Director of Operations/LD Kyle Ryman commands the lighting rig and executes the streaming functionality. Zack Slater, our Warehouse Manager, is on monitor duties and one of our most valued FOH engineers. Matt Hinshaw, does the camera switching, while company owner Evan Kirkendall and I delineate, oversee, grab cameras, do switching, mix broadcasts, book the talent, and even pour some drinks!”
Taking on these new and unexpected challenges the Harford Sound team, have developed a new set of skills and enhanced sense of confidence that they perhaps never realized was there before… kind of like the beautiful sound that resides in that magical space between the notes.