Event Ideas & Design

The 90th Annual Oscars Academy Awards and Lighting

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Lighting designers Bob Dickinson and Travis Hagenbuch lit the 90th Annual Oscars Academy Awards, broadcast live from The Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Seen on ABC on Sunday, March 4, the Oscars set featured 45 million Swarovski crystals and rotating panels as well as a lot of video content, creating various challenges for the LDs.

 

Live Design chats with Hagenbuch about adding a layer of light to Hollywood’s star-studded evening.

HOLLYWOOD, CA – MARCH 04: Host Jimmy Kimmel speaks onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Live Design: How did you light the proscenium with all those crystals?

Travis Hagenbuch: We were lucky in that the proscenium took light really well. What it wanted was to be lit from a bunch of different angles to show off its multifaceted nature. It was front-lit and cross-lit with a series of Philips Vari-Lite VL3500 Spots and VL2402s, and was up-lit with some Philips Color Kinetics ColorBlast TRX.

 

LD: There was a lot going on onstage, with the panels and other set elements. How did that impact the lighting positions or angles? 

TH: LD/programmer Andy O’Reilly spends a lot of time on this show manicuring the scenery and finding what angles look best on camera, especially for the close-up backgrounds behind acceptance speeches. Luckily, the schedule allows the time to do that, although you’d always like more. He had a start, in-motion, and end look for every scenic move of the night.

One big challenge he had was constant reflections off of the proscenium onto other things, especially the fly-in projection screen and stage closedown, both of which flew in and out like yo-yos all night long and needed constant clean-up cues to try to keep them clean.

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LD: What were your workhorse fixture? Where and why?

TH: The workhorses on this show have been VL3500 Spots and VL3500 Washes for several years. The stage, ladders, balcony rails, and floor are littered with them in every place we can find. Although to the naked eye, it might look densely hung, finding the best angle for all the scenery in all of its positions, as well as on all the people in all their positions, all while being shot by 20+ cameras in all their positions, is like threading a needle. Fewer fixture types is helpfully consistent and means that if one position isn’t quite right for a particular focus, then there are usually other options just a few feet upstage, downstage, or onstage to get it right.

HOLLYWOOD, CA – MARCH 04: Singers Miguel (L) and Natalia Lafourcade perform onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

LD: What about the use of LEDs?

TH: There was a lot of LED tape in the scenery. It was particularly successful in the sliding close-up backgrounds, and we used LED tape as footlights because of its low profile, and the continuous defining edge it gives the stage. We had ColorBlasts on the proscenium and in the orchestra pit, but for the most part this was an arc and tungsten source show.

 

LiveDesign

Digital Art enthusiast, Digital Pr expert, and lighting design Consultant.