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ETC lights! Camera! Action! at the Hollywood Costume exhibition

ETC lights! Camera! Action! at the Hollywood Costume exhibition

USA – The words “costume exhibition” don’t promise a lot of drama. Perhaps we have seen too many costumes imprisoned in glass cabinets under bland eco-friendly display lighting. Perhaps we got bored reading the vital statistics of each item of clothing as we strolled through hushed museum halls.

But a visit to the recently opened Hollywood Costume exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), lit with ETC Source Four Mini fixtures and powered by ThruPower power control, will make you forget all you ever knew about museum visits – and may change forever the way you view exhibitions. Here, the costumes receive as much direction and attention as the actors who once wore them. The creators of these remarkable displays realised that without great lighting, sound and video, costumes are just old clothing once inhabited by a famous person; instead, the costumes on show inherit the charisma of the stars who wore them. Many convey the sense of joy and confidence that an actor might have felt inside such a creation.

Costume designers rarely get the recognition they deserve. Like editors and writers, their work is often overshadowed by directors, producers and actors. In modern-dress movies, the public assumes that costumes can be found at the local mall. This exhibition is a narrative that defines the pivotal role of the costumer in the creative process, with each step of the process meticulously displayed on acrylic projection surfaces with synced audio tracks.

Lighting designer Trevor Burk of Visual Noise Creative gives the costumes something they never had before – a sculpted theatrical look with front-, back- and sidelight.

Burk was brought in early to the creative process. He chose a discreet black pipe grid over a traditional truss to draw attention away from the ceiling and lighting fixtures. He knew upfront that strict controls of colour temperature and intensity would be imposed on his design. “The curators wanted no more than 50 lux of light on each costume, so I chose to run the ETC fixtures on individual dimmer channels for maximum control,” says Burk. Backstage, the rows of ETC’s new compact 96-way MP Rolling Racks with ThruPower could serve a touring Broadway show with one very important difference: the entire lighting rig uses only 60 amps of power – the same power draw as a single-film Fresnel used in the original movie. At the heart of the design are 454 ETC Source Four Mini LED Gallery fixtures. “This fixture perfectly met my needs. Apart from a couple of ARRI LED L7C and L5C Fresnels, we use the Source Four Mini everywhere – it is punchy even from a 6.7m trim height, and gives a razor-flat field,” says Burk. “For programming, we used an Eos console and a wireless network so that three focusing teams could control channels with an iRFR app.”

Associate lighting designer Phil Kong adds: “The show is controlled by an Ion RPU [Remote Processor Unit]. Operations staff can recall presets, start up and shut down lighting and projection, and can control party-space colour and intensity via an ETC Mosaic Tessera Panel Controller touchscreen that sends UDP triggers to the Ion.” In other words, the push of the button will set in motion some Hollywood magic and a string of memories.

In picture: ETC Source Four Mini luminaires were used to light the Hollywood Costume exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

6th January 2015

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