JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR Opens Tonight at Oklahoma City University!


I have been chasing this script down to design for about fifteen years.  It’s my favorite non-traditional opera.  Now I can no longer say I’ve never designed it.  I had a hell of a lot of fun designing it – and the performers are tearing my face off nightly.  During final dress, the end of act one sequence went so well, I let out an audible “YEAH!” when the parts of that last cue of the act fired, totally involuntary.  So, all of that being said, if you’re near OKC and want to see a damned great show, come see Jesus Christ Superstar tonight!  The show runs through the weekend.

Wendy Mutz was the production photographer for our preview last night.  I have never had my work look so beautiful as when Wendy shoots it.  Ever.  Thank you for always capturing such amazing moments in time.  If you’re a lighting designer, you need Wendy Mutz.  Have Wendy, will travel.  Wendy’s on Facebook, too!

All photos copyright Wendy Mutz, 2011:

My Final Nine Months in Oklahoma Starts Today

Happy Monday, everyone! Like a lot of people reading the blog, I’m back at campus today too to begin another year of sharing light with fresh new minds!

This year is a very special year to me, because I’ve decided it’s going to become my last full-time year in Oklahoma. In May of 2012, I’m resigning my position at Oklahoma City University and dedicating my time to our industries on a full time basis.  The Light Associated Media team has some pretty incredible things in store for the world, and I am going to dedicating the rest of my life to the pursuit of perfect light, making larger than life light art the entire world can appreciate, the growth of my design firm, writing, and spreading the knowledge of light with the planet. Together I know we can turn this world into the best place for a sentient being to be and create, as of course all sentient beings need to do.  Remember that movie “Short Circuit?”  All THAT sentient being wanted to do was make breakfast.

“For moist crisp potatoes, brown on one side, then turn over.”

I’m planning on putting myself on the market for a band as well, anybody know a band that needs me to drive the spaceship?

One of my goals that is becoming a reality (with much, much, much more development to come) is teaching the world about light, but for FREE. Knowledge is power, and collectively we have a lot of knowledge. This knowledge should be for the entire world to use for the benefit of all mankind. I’m making this happen, if it’s the final thing I do before my last breath. I swear this to the world. I will make this happen. Somehow, some way, this will become a reality. Can you imagine a world where the status quo for knowledge of lighting is so far above the current norm? Our industry would be unstoppable, and I’m not talking any kind of more efficient cable and data, I’m talking real live Sky Hooks here, people!

But seriously, yeah.  I haven’t decided where the new home base will be, my lease is up in May 2012.  I’ve had thoughts about going back to my great friends in Dallas, moving to Las Vegas to be near the awesomesauce that is Nevada, and I’ve thought about West Coasting it (to steal a term) and moving somewhere on the west side of America, a place I’ve only worked and visited.  The mountains are in there too, I really did like Denver.  Got a suggestion?  The world is a monster place.

I have so much cool stuff in store for my kids this year, I am SO EXCITED!  I get to spend this next two semesters having a blast with some people who really love light!  I have an absolutely outstanding group of students for my final year in Oklahoma (one interned with Cirque all summer, another was the Chief Electrician for a Shakespeare summer series, another is a Chief at a theme park for the summer, others did rock all summer, some studied film), and I’m readying them as best I can for the lighting industries as a whole. It is our responsibility to the industry. If you’re out there teaching lighting design, you better be doing it as hard as I am. We owe it to the future.

Changes are good. You know what’s even better? Cake. Oh, I miss cake.  My newer lighter self doesn’t let my inner tank-ass out very often these days.  Every time I go into the closet though, it’s like I’m clothes shopping!

The House of Atreus – Lighting Design by Jim Hutchison

Now that my semester is over and I have a chance to comb through hundreds of photos from the unbelievable season of shows that we do here where I teach, I can blow some smoke up the rear of my design career and show some pics of the last 6 months of my life as a lighting designer!  I got my butt kicked over this last semester, but I did a lot of design work, including a break in the apparent hiatus I had over the last decade in writing music for shows.  I love being able to write music and record it for a show I’m lighting – for some reason the two design areas just meld so well in my head.

The show that I’m starting with here is called The House of Atreus, written by one of our newly tenured professors, Lance Marsh, and produced at Oklahoma City University’s School of Theatre, where I am the Head of Lighting Design and Technology.  “Atreus,” as we affectionately call it, is based on Aeschylus’ Oresteia.  Lance wrote four plays, and we ended up producing plays #2 and #3 as a two “act” performance.  Plays #1 and #4 were done as live readings done late night after the produced works.

This show was dark, as you can imagine – the stories, the performances, the music, as as much as I could possibly work it in, the lighting design.  I worked a lot within shadows, playing lines of text with light, and using the scenic design as the basis for the crazy ideas I had for the actual house of the House of Atreus.  At the time that I was in the design phase for Atreus, I had also just finished my shoulder surgery, and I had this ridiculously gnarly bruise from the nerve block performed on my arm for surgery.  Consequently, if you have never had an upper-extremty nerve block, it leaves your upper extremity, in this case my right arm, dangling like a warm roll of salami (pardon the description, but it’s totally accurate) from your shoulder.  So, just to give you an idea about what the bruise looked like, here’s the bruise.  Sorry, it’s freaking graphic:

So one day I’m standing by the mirror getting ready for work, and as I’m putting the sling on my arm I noticed the bruise, and it hit me – that is the PERFECT image to make into a gobo to project onto the door of the actual house of Atreus!  There is so much that happens inside that house – a wife murders her husband, children murder their mother and her lover, and all kinds of gore and misery comes from inside this house.  I took a pic of the bruise and toned it a little towards the monochromatic magenta side to match what was going on the door in terms of paint treatment.  The gobo image looked like this:

I called Rick Hutton from InLight Gobos to make me a full color glass gobo of the bruise image, and Rick made me an awesome B-sized gobo.  Because of the way that InLight Gobos does their process, the very fine detailed points of the gobo were able to be focused and sharpened in the fixture, which to me as a designer was essential!  Check out the gobo from Rick:

This was kind of a bittersweet production for me, just simply because in the middle of the dress rehearsal week, some ass hat stole my DSLR and lenses out of the theatre while I was either in the scene shop or walking to the bathroom – so I got one good shot of the gobo completely focused perfectly, and a bunch of shots before we got the focus correct.  We switched to a larger throw barrel after the production shots I actually DID get before my camera was stolen, so please forgive the mis-cut projection in the images below.  Hopefully you’ll still enjoy the shots!  Here’s the perfectly focused gobo on the door to the house of Atreus – throughout the play I would fade this image in and out to accentuate the action.  My team and I felt like we really succeeded in using the image to its full potential.  Thank you for making such an awesome gobo, Rick and Adri!!!

Here’s some production shots – I included a few of my favorite in full size, then I put the entire set into a gallery for your convenience – just click on a thumbnail to open a gallery view!

Agamemnon’s dead, and it’s about to be game on:

Elektra praying at the altar:

Cassandra proselytizing the Furies:

The death of Agamemnon at the hands of Clytemnestra:

Thanks to Jeremy Fisher (my ALD) and Jason Foreman (scenic designer) for their photos!

The Culmination of Hundreds of Hours of Awesome (Which I Think Means Sleep Deprivation)

So, The Wedding Singer opens tonight.  We had final dress last night, and tonight is the culmination of our collaboration.  This is what has kept me from the blog, which I apologize for, but you all know how it is when you’re designing a show:

I love photos captured in the middle of fast bright chases!  The photographer is one of my two favorite Oklahoma City photogs, Wendy Mutz.  Wendy is about 600% of the AWESOME, and is one hell of a photographer.  Go check out Wendy Mutz Photography and see what I mean.  If you’re in need of a photographer for shooting a show, concert, any kind of event period, you need a bad ass like Wendy.

If you’re on Facebook (maybe it should be ‘if you’re not on Facebook’ anymore, huh), then check out Wendy’s Facebook page!

Tickets are here.  I’m going to sit down here and work on my laptop for a few hours in peace and quiet. in San Francisco – the Non-Work Photos – at Photonics West 2011

I did have a hell of a time in San Francisco, that much has to be said.  Between working our butts off to make the booth look great, not getting some of the gear we needed shipped for our booth, and stumbling around looking for a Starbucks, I had a BLAST!

(Come on.  I kid – there’s a fu%$ing Starbucks every five feet in San Francisco, don’tcha know?)

Check out some photos I took on my trip – fun was had by all!

The lovely ladies of marketing from DiCon Fiber-Optics and DiCon Lighting – get ready, I’m posting something about a new DiCon product VERY, very soon.  Absolutely exciting!

Two industry veterans talking about touring – Rick Hutton from InLight Gobos on the left, Mark Hetrick from a billion road miles on the right.  Mark, Rick, and I walked the Photonics West tradeshow floor for a while, then Rick and I did some geeking out on the South floor.  What a great conference!

Here’s the image gallery of my trip – if you click on a thumbnail, a magic image gallery opens up!

The Ocean Thin Films Booth at Photonics West 2011

Last week, I was in San Francisco exercising my lighting design muscle for Ocean Thin Films’s booth at Photonics West 2011.  Fun was had by all – I got to see Jax from, I got to see Phil Buchsbaum from Ocean Thin Films, Rick and Adri Hutton from InLight Gobos, and a ton of other folks who all had great times walking around, enjoying the awesome weather, and generally having a great time!

The rig was simple but effective – three handfuls of tungsten SeaChanger profiles, a handful and a half of Nemo Wash units (SeaChanger’s LUXIM lamp fixtures), and a couple of VL-1000 Tungsten for frosting.

Check out the rest of the images – click on a thumbnail and a magic gallery of images opens up!

See this dude here below?  The guy in the lift?
That guy is Mark Hetrick.  He is one of the coolest dudes I’ve ever met.

World Creativity Forum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Exciting times we live in, huh folks?

I just finished a light art installation for the World Creative Forum that is taking place here in Oklahoma City this week – pictures and video to follow soon.  The installation, entitled “Synapse,” is a 250-foot dynamic art piece – the idea behind it was to create a lighting installation reminiscent of being woken from a dream.  I cannot wait to get these videos and images processed so I can post them!

Sorry for the few days of no posts, I’ve been climbing out of a mound of work the size of a theatre.  But now, as they say, I am back in the saddle again!

A side note – one of the speakers at the World Creativity Forum is Pranav Mistry, the guy who invented the SixthSense computer interface.  You have GOT to check this out!

Jim’s a busy fella

Hi everyone, Jax here.  Jim asked me to let y’all know that he’s on a load-in for a big event at the convention center and is busy going crazy, so it’s going to be quiet here in the meantime.  He’ll be back soon!

I Just Finished Lighting A Show in Phoenix.

I do a decent amount of corporate work as a lighting designer.  I very much enjoy being able to bring art and design to a corporate function, and I also enjoy being able to play with moving lights and make pretty stuff.  I mean, who doesn’t?

This last show I finished here in Phoenix is different though – I have to say that they were the most amazing, kind, and passionate group of people I’ve had the pleasure of lighting in quite some time.  You see, this conference was about nurses and doctors who deal with patient wounds, and making sure people heal.  Let me tell you, they were passionate about their jobs.  I got to listen to a nurse from the US Air Force talk about treating battlefield wounds in Afghanistan, a nurse who volunteered in Hurricane Katrina treating wounds, a nurse who treated patients in China after the monster earthquake they had last year, and many others.  This show touched my heart.

I also got to work with a ridiculously talented group of people – a production manager who kept his stuff together and took no crap, a great video director who made the dissolves look amazing, absolutely delightful camera ops, graphics folks who knew their gig well, and an audio lead (and his amazing A2) who made the show sound crystal clear.  Sometimes I wonder how I get so lucky working with good people!  It’s so fulfilling to work on a great team.

I do have a very post-event hilarious story…

The story goes that in my plot I designed ten Vari*Lite VL3000’s on top of varying heights of 20.5″ truss, as you see in the pictures.  What I actually got were Mac 2000 Profile II electronic ballast heads, which was fine with me, as I like using them.  I was setting up FOH and getting the console patched (which was another story that involved a Hog II operating firmware that hadn’t been updated since 2006) while my electricians were placing the Profiles atop of the truss towers.  Of the ten units on top of towers, there were three Profiles that were just being mean to me – they were all doing the exact same thing, being unresponsive to pan and tilt.  A call to 4Wall later and three new units come to the Convention Center along with a 4Wall tech.  Before he got there, my guys had checked data cables, DMX addresses, and myriad other things that I was wracking my brain to try to solve.  I checked the patch, I checked the console output, everything.  I’m stressing because we have rehearsal in an hour, I have a megaton of heads and LED units on this show, and I want to make sure the client is happy.

Lo and behold, when the 4Wall tech arrived onsite to bring me new gear, I scurried up the truss tower to check out a few things (I’ve been at FOH this whole time), and on my way up the truss tower I realized that the three units that weren’t working because they weren’t Mac 2000 Profile II units.  It turns out that some of the gear I got from the production company (NOT 4Wall – we did some 4Wall rentals and some existing gear) were mislabeled when the stagehands installed them – three of the heads were Mac 2000 Performance units stuck in Profile II cases.  Boy, don’t I feel like an ass.

Another day, another city, another show.  Now I have another story to put in my book.

Check out some pictures of the show – it really turned out beautifully (in my humble opinion of course), and better yet, the people who needed to be happy were happy.

An Alternative to Production Photo Display

I have taught students how to format photos and put together portfolios of their work for several years, and one thing that has always gotten me about the way the industry views the work is the weird lack of creativity that comes with production photo exhibition.  You have your portfolio with your name, and all that stuff, your resume, some photos, and maybe some references.  Right?

I think that the advent of things like the iPad and web-based apps is changing the way that students will be able to display their portfolios.  You also have to understand that there will always be those sticklers who will literally just toss out portfolios that come on DVDs, CDs, or other media just because they don’t follow “the standard.”  I’m here right now to call BS on “the standard.”

I got bored this weekend (which is amazing with the amount of work on my plate right now) and I wanted to write about this very subject, so I put together this quick little minute-plus video of some Alive Lighting production shots in a little video.  I just tried to show an alternative method of displaying the work.  Quite frankly, I want to see someone show some creativity when displaying their work – remember, the production photos don’t talk.  If you can do anything to help enhance the display of the work, you’re doing yourself a favor.

Just remember – and this is important – do not alter your work in Photoshop!  Don’t change colors, adjust intensities, or generally alter the capture of the work.  None of these photos were altered beyond size adjustments.  That’s just not cool!  If you didn’t light it right the first time, don’t lie!  All you have to do is get caught doing that once, and you’re done.

Check out this quick little video – I did block out the logo of the client in this video to meet non-disclosure:

Production Photos Don’t Have To Be Just Photos! from Jim Hutchison on Vimeo.