Last year turned out to be a very full one for Intensity Advisors’ lighting designers, Jeff Ravitz and Kristie Roldan. There were some repeats of annual projects and there were some unexpected and new jobs. The first show of the year was both.
Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band has been a client of Ravitz’s for almost three decades, but there was little sign on the horizon that he would be touring in 2012. But, just before the end of 2011, Jeff got the call, and the design process began with drawings, conference calls and equipment research at the shop of his longtime vendor for BS&ESB, Morpheus Lights. Rehearsals took place during the entire month of February in New Jersey (of course). The first public showing of the band and its new addition of a five-piece horn section, to fill the empty space left by the late Clarence Clemons, was at Harlem’s famed Apollo Theatre. Next stop on the pre-tour tour was to launch Austin’s South By Southwest Festival, and then on to Atlanta for the tour’s official premiere. A solid year of touring later, including the entire European stadium and festival circuit, and they’re still going strong with dates booked through the summer of 2013. A true joy, honor and rush to be associated with.
Associate Designer, Kristie Roldan departed New Jersey a little early to take the helm on the fourth annual involvement of Intensity Advisors on the TED Conference in Long Beach, CA. As soon as that show wrapped, she was back to NYC to join Ravitz at Radio City for Amnesty International’s 50th Anniversary celebration. The human rights organization used comedy and music, in the guise of The Secret Policeman’s Ball, as a platform to remind the world of their mission. This was the SPB’s first production outside of the UK, and a completely star-studded cast, from Russell Brand to Coldplay, made it happen in grand style.
From there, Ravitz moved downtown to NYU’s Skirball Auditorium to tape the third season of John Oliver’s NY Standup series for Comedy Central. Then, (sliding to the other end of the spectrum), as soon as that show was in the can, Jeff moved on to Kansas City, MO, to light mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, who appeared with the Kansas City Symphony at the new and awesome Kauffman Center. The show, Homecoming, had a successful run on PBS nationwide and was Grammy nominated for best classical vocal, to boot.
PBS featured another Intensity Advisors-designed production, this time originating from the chapel in Detroit’s ornate Masonic Temple. Detroit Public Television brought vocalist, Faith Marion Robinson, to Motor City to perform her unique mixture of Irish folk songs. The show and DVD are entitled Celtic Awakenings, and was awarded the NATAS Michigan Emmy® Award for lighting.
2012 continued on its busy streak through the Spring and Summer, with designs for two more tours: Styx, on their Midwest Express Tour with REO Speedwagon and Ted Nugent, and Ringo Starr’s All Starr Band, in its twenty-third year of bi-annual tours featuring Ringo and major musicians from the 70s through the 90s. These were both extremely fun tours to design and each did remarkable box office business.
An unexpected, but quite welcome, string of projects came to Intensity Advisors in the summertime, in the form of Mom’s Night Out. The Nick Jr. network launched a new block of shows tailored to the particular interests and humor of parenting, with the intention of keeping Mom and Dad tuned to Nick Jr. after the kids go to sleep. Mom’s Night Out is a stand-up comedy series, devoted to family issues, that was shot in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Orlando. Ravitz designed the latter three shoots, which consisted of nine evenings, each featuring a host plus four comics. The show continues to run nightly and is enjoying good response.
A fun show that came back to the firm for a second year is Spike TV’s coverage of the E3 Electronic Gaming convention in Los Angeles. Gaming officially pulls in as much revenue as movies, and so this convention is a very big deal. Over the course of two ten-hour live broadcast days, Spike interviews all the biggest executives, developers and celebrities in the gaming world, and demos many of the most eagerly anticipated new games. The show is shot in a studio with windows overlooking Staples Center and the LA Convention Center, which forces the lighting designers to cope with ever-changing daylight levels in the background behind the talent. It is a challenge, to be sure, and one that Ravitz and Roldan feel they have mastered.
In September, Ravitz received a call from Third Wave Productions executive, Stephen Warner, with an offer to design an all-star concert for peace featuring a 45-minute speech by His Holiness, The Dalai Lama. The answer was “yes”, of course. The three-hour One World For Peace show was produced for HDNet at the Carrier Dome at Syracuse University, which has hosted His Holiness in the past. The A-List performers on the bill included Dave Matthews, AR Rahman, Counting Crows, and Philip Phillips, to name only a fraction of the lineup. The music director was legendary record producer, Phil Ramone, just to add one more star to the production.
In October, Ravitz and Roldan returned to San Diego to light the annual awards presentation for the Cox Cable Network, A Salute To Teachers. This marked their seventh Salute, which honors the best teachers of San Diego County. “The show is always inspiring, and we consider it a privilege to be invited back every year,” mentioned Ravitz.
A brief rundown of other shows filling Intensity Advisors’ year, includes a webcast concert for the UK boy super-group, One Direction, an Epix comedy special by the hilariously obnoxious Jim Norton, the annual ice show spectacular for the benefit of cancer research, Kaleidoscope On Ice (CBS), and super-funny Kevin Hart’s new stand-up comedy special, Let Me Explain, shot in magnum style at Madison Square Garden.
Finishing the year was the nowannual labor-of-love for Ravitz, the Live Design Magazine Concert Master Class and the newly added Television Lighting Master Class. This is Ravitz’s third year hosting the concert classes in the role of Creative Consultant. The well-attended event featured presentations and discussions by the best-of-the-best in the world of creative concert production, and ended on a high note at the Anaheim stop of the Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band tour. The new television-oriented lighting design classes were lucky to have a roster of award-winning designers, directors of photography, gaffers, and video engineers explaining the mysteries of the science and art of beautiful exposure for the TV camera. Everyone came away enriched and enlightened.
Intensity Advisors is hoping for another busy and creative year in 2013.