1. You’re currently out on tour with Jack Johnson as video director. How did that gig come about? For the past two years, I have been directing Jay-Z, a full on hip-hop show—really massive, high energy. When the opportunity came up through the show director on Jack Johnson, I was excited to shift gears and direct a singer/songwriter-style show.
2. What’s the main gear used for the show, and what are the challenges? The design is based around an upstage scenic backdrop with front projection. Leif Dixon is using a Catalyst server driven by an MA Lighting grandMA to feed custom content and cameras to the drop. The I-Mag is always "dirtied up," so to speak. Jack’s show is very mellow, and the design fits brilliantly.
For cameras, I have been using the systems provided by the festivals. This has run the gamut from very basic SD compact switchers to HD broadcast trucks. So, on a day-to-day basis, it is about assessing the systems of the festivals and building a show around various setups and camera positions. Flexibility is key. The festival, for sure, provides a good challenge when you leave the normal consistency of your own touring system.
3. You also did media programming on a recent Wal-Mart shareholders’ meeting, a pretty big endeavor. What were the challenges of that production? I was controlling a large Control Freak Encore Bridge system with PRG Mboxes to control the five-screen production design. One of the goals was to up the integration between media servers and the Barco Encores. The final result was being able to achieve highly integrated transitions across a very large LED environment with Mboxes, Power Point graphics, and live cameras that would have otherwise been unachievable with just a media server or using the traditional corporate paradigm.
4. You actually started on the lighting side but spend most of your time as a media server programmer and video director these days. What took you in that direction? One of my first jobs in the industry was as the lighting director at Experience Music Project (EMP) in Seattle, WA. The venue, Sky Church, was built around a large custom 70'x40' old Sony Jumbotron. At the time, the room was ahead of its time, before the proliferation of LEDs everywhere. Media servers were just starting to enter the market. So my aesthetic developed around incorporating video into shows and also how to use video as an integrated design element with lighting. After I left EMP, I connected with Control Freak Systems and have been a part of the development team of the DMX Encore Bridge and other custom media server projects.
The full shift to video director happened in 2009 while working on Jay-Z supporting the Control Freak System. It felt really natural to take on the camera component of the show. I find that, when I switch back to programming media servers, or the occasional opportunity to do lighting, the video direction has trained my eye and helps my art in the other disciplines.
5. What piece of gear do you particularly like working with these days? While wearing the media server programmer hat, I’m a longtime user of grandMA and more recently have become an avid fan of PRG Mbox EXtreme media servers. The new MultiScreen Gobo/Editor feature is deluxe.
Control Freak Encore Bridge is a big part of my workflow for managing screens on television and industrial projects. From the programmer’s point of view, having DMX control of the video equipment and router helps tremendously with the workflow.