In September, multi-award-winning contemporary artist Amy Grant released Time Again…Live, her latest live concert DVD. Shot on location at the Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, TX, the audience was a packed house. Designing the lighting for the two-day filming was LD Sparky Anderson, with a rig from Gemini Stage Lighting programmed by Demfis Fyssicopulos.
No stranger to Bass Hall, Anderson was the lighting designer for the hall's grand opening in May of 1998. He has also worked with such artists as Green Day, Skid Row, Ted Nugent, and Vince Gill. It was while working with Gill — Grant's husband — that Anderson first met Grant, and he began working with her shortly thereafter.
“This is Amy's vision, simple and relaxed,” says Anderson. “The set is literally out of her living room. She wanted to make everything feel comfortable, and so I have lights hitting every angle with full-on saturation for mood and depth.” Patterned to be a reflection of Grant's actual living room with many pieces actually from her home, seven backdrop panels created a colorful countryside scene, which is a direct reproduction of the large painting that hangs center stage. To frame the set, along with the backdrop panels, red, yellow, and green drapes hang on stage-right and -left.
To light it all, Anderson used 20 Vari-Lite VL2500™ Spot luminaries (for floor texture onstage and backlight for the band), 10 VL3000™ Spot luminaries (for aerial gobos and hard-edge beams), five VL3000™ Wash luminaries (on the ground row for a wide wash backlight), 16 High End Systems Studio Commands, and about 200 conventionals controlled via an MA Lighting grandMA.
For conventionals, Fyssicopulos adds that they used several vertical PAR bars surrounding the rig. “There were also some 10kW Fresnels behind the set pieces that we used to shine light through the gaps of the panels and, of course, ETC Source Fours for keylight and backlights,” he says.
“In the lighting design, I try to fill what I call ‘the space between the notes,’” says Anderson. “I try to hit and accentuate the open moments to add that little bit extra to each song. But this is all about Amy and making her look and feel good on stage. I basically light what I think she would like to see.”
The primary challenge was to make sure that the color temperatures for the video were correct and simultaneously allowed Grant to shine in a positive light. “When working with video, skin tones are very important,” says Anderson. “The fixtures have to be able to color-correct while providing a soft color temperature, and the color temperature of the Vari-Lite fixtures are far superior over any other moving light. They exceed in reliability, color mixing, and the gobos. We are not using any custom gobos; they are all stock.”
A five-camera setup was used to shoot the concert over two nights. After the first night, the cameras were relocated to alternate positions so that they could achieve a total of ten different camera angles. Scott Dopson, Gemini Stage Lighting general manager, handled the rental.