From the mega front-of-house console to the mini-spot, every designer has his or her favorite piece of gear, that one item of equipment they refuse to design without. We asked a few of the top lighting and sound designers to pick their most important piece of gear released in the last five years. Their widely varied responses are below.
MA Lighting's grandMA PocketPC Wireless Remote. I've sworn to never do another show without this piece of gear ever again. I can literally be in a video truck watching camera shots and changing the focus of moving lights and intensity levels from my PDA.
I'd say Strand's off-line editor software, which can also be configured to allow my Macintosh laptop to work as a remote console to a real lighting desk either via an Ethernet cable or wirelessly.
For me, the day the Flying Pig Systems Wholehog® II console walked into my life was a day when my job gained some consistency all over the world. My first experience was in Singapore with Kenny G in 1997. I walked in the day of the show and stared down at this little blue board that I had never used before and wondered how on earth I could write an entire show from scratch by the time doors opened.
The MDG Atmosphere enhances my work by adding an architectural dimension to light and spatial composition. Most importantly, without announcing itself when it comes on, it is quiet, truly adjustable to a very fine haze, and has a naturalness that reads as if nature herself was creating the haze, rather than a machine. I simply cannot use another device for this effect now that I have used the MDG. Plus, if used properly, it does not get clogged.
It is hard to think of a specific piece of equipment or product that I can't work without. I am very grateful to Gary Fails at City Theatrical for his continued support and devotion to improving and tailoring existing products or technology for my specific needs.
This may sound really strange, but the one new lighting tool that I find myself always using, either at a focus, on an architectural job walk, or just walking up the front steps to my house after 2am when the timer has shut off the step lights, is my tiny single-LED flashlight on a key ring. I use it constantly wherever I go. It's the ultimate lighting designer's tool. The second most important tool is, sadly, the cell phone.
Stage Research's SFX has completely changed the way I work over the last couple of years. That and Syntrillium's CoolEdit Pro. I use both products on every show I do, which means I use them just about every day. Both are designed to speed up the tedious jobs and leave you more time to be creative, and both make being creative more fun.
My two most important pieces of gear: the Akai S-6000 and my G4 laptop — ProTools with Mbox.
For starters, the portable CD recorders from Marantz. When used in conjunction with our Grace Lunatec outboard mic pre-amps, we get fabulous field recordings. Also, all of the fast, inexpensive FireWire drives that offer up to 120G for under $300. Finally, the 24-bit version of SFX is much more stable and professional. Worth the upgrade.
Jim van Bergen
Workstation: Digidesign Digi 002
Technical testing tool: Neutrik Minirator/Minilyzer combination — a portable test bench
RF mic: Sennheiser 2052 transmitter with MKE-2 (original, red dot, or gold)
Wired mic: Earthworks QTC-1 (omni) and SR-77 (cardioid)
Small loudspeaker: d&b E3
Large loudspeaker: Meyer self-powered series, all of it
Console: Yamaha DM2000
Recorder: Alesis Masterlink hard disk recorder
Utility tool: Scorpion high-powered and LED flashlights
Best tool: The grey matter between my ears
Most used tools: My ears