Light ’em up!
Putting together a lighting package for a show is a little like putting together a puzzle. The lighting has to be scaled to the size of the room, complement the design of the set, and meet the needs of the show. It also has to fit the rigging, which may be largely determined by the size of the room, dependent on the design of the set, and predicated on the needs of the show.
Billy Davidson, whose title is “somewhere between lighting department manager and lighting services director,” plays a key role in making sure all the pieces fit—and that Bartha has the right pieces to begin with.
“My job at Bartha is being in charge of the lighting and rigging departments,” he said. That means researching and purchasing new equipment as well as consulting with project managers to put together lighting packages for shows.
The purchasing part of his job allows him to immerse himself in all the newest technology, including checking out trade shows like Lighting Design International (LDI). That doesn’t mean he jumps on the most hyped fixtures.
“There are always certain technologies that get a lot of buzz around them for good or bad,” he said. “Part of what you have to do is separate the fanboyism from what it really does.”
Recently, Billy found a new piece of equipment that really lights him up.
He discovered a fixture that offered “a great narrow beam—really tight—to the point where you had to be careful not to point it at stuff, or use it in smaller rooms, or it could cause a fire. It looks great on big shows, but we do more than that, so I couldn’t justify the cost.”
He continued to explore and found another light made by the same manufacturer, best-in-industry Clay Paky. The Mythos “does everything the other one does, but it also goes wide like a traditional spotlight, so you can use it in smaller rooms. This makes sense for us.
“With other lights, you see the effect of what they’re shining on, but with these really tight beams, the beam itself is an effect. Especially when there’s haze in the room, when that light moves through it, it’s a set piece that I can move around myself.”
Moving around is something Billy is familiar with at home as well. With five sons age 15 months to 10 years old, Billy and his wife Christine are on the move quite a lot.
He also enjoys remote control helicopters and cars. “The boys are like a moving obstacle course,” he laughed. “That’s not my intent, actually. That’s just the way it works. They love it.”