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Laser Goofing, JimOnLight Style

I was a fairly big laser nerd before I met Rick Hutton, but after becoming friends with THAT mega-nerd, I have begun to really get into lasers and the whole use of coherent light.  I think one of the highlights of 2011 so far was hitting Photonics West with Ocean Optics and SeaChanger and walking the laser show floor with Rick.  You see, I see the term mega-nerd as about the best compliment you could give a person.

I have been goofing a bit with my 1W blue (445nm), my 10mW HeNe (632.8nm), and a Coherent Radius 405 (violet, 405nm) I picked up pretty cheap on eBay.  I also have a ton of amazing optics and bench components that I was given by the great folks at InLight Gobos and Laser Surplus Sales.  I want to make some fun art with the stuff that I have, and as I acquire more, and one of these days I’ll save up and get a 5W Argon laser (oh HELL yes) and I’ll build some crazy system of galvos and any other crackadelic thing I can come up with to occupy my non-working, non-sleeping time.

I can’t afford the several thousand dollars for a decent laser breadboard for my hobby, so I pulled a DIY and built my own out of two chunks of fine-grade pine that I glued together and fastened with a few large gauge fasteners.  It cost me about 40 bucks total, which is a lot less than $1977.74, let me tell you.  I have about a 16th of an inch deflection over the course of the surface of the table, a grid of holes drilled on one inch centers over a 24″ x 60″.

Just a few teaser shots – I’m oretty bummed at the loss of my DSLR, my little 12MP Elph just ain’t cutting it with this specific wavelength photography:

 

Holy sh*t I love lasers. Wear your laser safety glasses, kids!

The Lightning Fantastic, Oklahoma City, August 8, 2011

I drove back from Arlington, Texas last night.  Long story short, I left around 8pm last night, and I spent the entire three hour drive just completely enamored with the sky lighting up with huge bolts of lightning.  I remembered seeing the Trinity test video, and so many other night-based explosions in movies; the sky last night reminded me of that type of phenomenon.  So many bolts of lightning piercing the darkness, it was just like watching that scene in the newest Harry Potter when all of the folks are casting the spells over the school campus.  Overwhelming; beautiful.

(Sorry folks, I’m not a Harry Potter person, I just saw the one…)

I got home and made this video, since I was blessed AGAIN with the lack of tiredness in my body after that drive.  I took about a half hour’s worth of lightning strikes in downtown and condensed them down to about two minutes.  I hope you enjoy!  I’m a great big goofball, just be forewarned.

The Lightning Fantastic in Oklahoma City, August 8, 2011 from Jim Hutchison on Vimeo.

Thanks, NatGeo and Tal Bachman!

Happy BELATED Birthday, William Kennedy Laurie Dickson!

This is what happens when you live on a planet that is currently in flames with summer heat, you forget the birthdays of famous dead lighting guys.  A local pro performer here in town, Alissa Millar, who just rocked the living sh*t out of Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire at the Civic Center Music Hall this last weekend (congratulations, cast!) can’t think of any dead famous lighting guys.  Here’s ANOTHER!

Check out the initial Happy Birthday, William Kennedy Laurie Dickson! post on JimOnLight.com!

JimOnLight.com in New Jersey Wednesday and Thursday!

I’m heading to Secaucus, New Jersey to hang with Chris Conti from PRG for the day on Wednesday, and then I’m leaving kinda late on Thursday.  Anyone in the area wanna grab a beer, shoot the breeze?  Drop me an email or get me through the contact form, let’s hook up while I’m around the northeast!  Check my Twitter feed, I’m sure I’ll be tweeting my &%$# off all day.

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.

The Home Stretch – and More JimOnLight.com!

Hey!  11:11!

Good morning everyone – I hope this finds you well, busy, happy, and full of work! I myself am in that vein right now – I just closed one show, and I’m in techs for another show opening this weekend – a production of The Wedding Singer that will surely be enjoyable for everyone.  The great thing for me is that this is the last of a stretch of shows I have lead the lighting design team for, and after this I am spending all of my time writing and researching.  I have several articles in draft right now, product reviews (lasers, luminaires, control surfaces), hands-on video, and a new comedy series that I will be launching in the coming weeks.  I’m pretty excited about that, and I hope it gives you all a chuckle!

I appreciate the patience and diligence of the readers and the JimOnLight.com Community – I thank you from my heart for your patience!  Stay tuned!  This monster push of production is almost over for me, and my body is ready for a break!

POLL: What’s Your Lighting Control Surface of Choice?

A conversation I had about programming “ambidexterity” and console choice the other day has been sticking in my mind like white on rice, a glass of milk, and a paper plate in a snowstorm.  I’m curious as to what the JimOnLight.com Community as a whole considers its favorite console or consoles.

Please participate in this quick little poll below – if you’re a JimOnLight.com RSS feed reader, come on over to the website and participate in the poll!  Choose one of the answers from the list below.

If you happen to program on something or really like programming on something NOT on this list, would you leave a comment and let us know what that console might be?

What's your control surface of choice?

  • I'm an ETC programmer. (29%, 59 Votes)
  • I'm a GrandMA programmer. (20%, 42 Votes)
  • I'm a Hog programmer. (16%, 32 Votes)
  • I program something not on this list. (7%, 14 Votes)
  • I'm a Maxxys programmer (Martin). (6%, 13 Votes)
  • I'm a Jands programmer (Vista, etc). (6%, 12 Votes)
  • I'm an Avolites programmer. (5%, 11 Votes)
  • I'm a ChamSys programmer. (4%, 9 Votes)
  • I'm not a programmer elitist, I love them all. (4%, 9 Votes)
  • Programming? F*** that, I'll hire someone like Cat West or Benny Kirkham. (2%, 4 Votes)
  • I'm an architectural lighting control surface programmer. (0%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 206

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From the Archives: JimOnLight.com Interviews Jeff Ravitz

EXCITING!

I just got ahold of the videos made of the SeaChanger booth at the 2010 NAB Show in Las Vegas – I had the pleasure of interviewing a bunch of influential lighting industry people at the 2010 NAB Show, which was an absolute blast!

Check out this first video made at the 2010 NAB Show – JimOnLight.com interviews JEFF RAVITZ!

From the Archives: JimOnLight.com Interviews Jeff Ravitz, NAB Show 2010 from Jim Hutchison on Vimeo.

Meet the JimOnLight.com App for iPhone and Android!

Ladies and Gentlemen: Meet the new JimOnLight.com App for iPhone and Android!

Finally – we’ve been working hard on this app, and by “we” I do mean David Fox, the Chief Web Strategist for JimOnLight.com.  David’s been tuning the JimOnLight.com App for a while, and we’ve just recently gotten iTunes Store acceptance.  Now you can get a formatted JimOnLight.com experience on your mobile device!

Let’s not forget the most important part here, folks.  The JimOnLight.com App for iPhone and Android is TOTALLY FREE!

Please check out the new page in our community for the JimOnLight.com App for iPhone and Android – respective links are located on the page for your platform of choice.  Let me know what you think!