VARI*LITE and Amy Grant Together at Bass Hall
Sparly Anderson and Gemini Stage Lighting help create a much-anticipated live concert DVD
Published Tuesday, September 19, 2006
by Bryan Matthews

On September 26, 2006, multi-award winning contemporary artist, Amy Grant will release the much-anticipated Time Again…Live, her latest live concert DVD. Shot on location at the prestigious Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, TX, the audience was a packed house of energetic and dedicated fans. Behind the lighting design for the two-day filming was Lighting Designer Sparky Anderson, Gemini Stage Lighting, and VARI*LITE® automated luminaires.

No stranger to the Bass Performance Hall, Anderson was the lighting designer for the Hall’s grand opening in May of 1998. He has also had a distinguished lighting design career working with such artists as Green Day, Skid Row, Ted Nugent, and Vince Gill. It was while working with Gill that Anderson first met Grant and he began working with her shortly thereafter.

For the DVD, a 5-camera set-up was used to shot the concert over two nights. After the first night, the cameras were relocated to alternate positions so that they could achieve a total of 10 different camera angles.

The set for the concert was patterned to be a reflection of Grant’s actual living room with many pieces being those from her home. Seven backdrop panels create a colorful countryside scene, which is a direct reprint of the large painting that hangs center stage. And to frame the set, along with the backdrop panels, red, yellow, and green drapes hang on stage right and left.

"This is Amy’s vision, simple and relaxed," began 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."

In order to achieve Grant’s vision for the lighting design, Anderson chose 20 VL2500™ Spot luminaires, 10 VL3000™ Spot luminaires, and five VL3000™ Wash luminaires.

Anderson continued, "In the lighting design, I try to fill what I call ‘the space between the notes’. 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."

Once Anderson understood how he wanted to light the concert, he then turned to new Vari-Lite Authorized Sales and Rental Dealer Gemini Stage Lighting and his long-time friend Scott Dopson, Gemini Stage Lighting General Manager, to provide the full array of lighting gear.

"Working with Gemini is like coming home to work with family," commented Anderson. "They can support anything in my imagination, and I have quite an imagination. They have always gone above and beyond my greatest expectations."

"Sparky and I have had known each other for a very long time," admitted Dopson. "So when I got his call, I knew that we wanted to supply him with whatever he needed, and we are constantly getting calls requesting VARI*LITE luminaires. This is the second event that we have used our new stock on. The first was an event with DayStar TV for a motivational conference, and we see ourselves getting more gigs involving television and video production. At this point, in these areas, there is no other light people want to use besides VARI*LITE."

With Gemini now on board, Anderson turned his attention back to the design. Working with lighting programmer Demfis Fyssicopulos, their primary challenge was to make sure the color temperatures for the video were correct and simultaneously allowed Grant to shine in a positive light.

Anderson explained, "When working with video, skin tones are very important. 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."

To complete his design, Anderson used the VL3000 Spot luminaires to achieve eye-popping aerials with gobo projection and hard-edge beams that cut through the audience and into the Bass Hall house. The VL2500 Spots provided gobo projections to add floor texture on stage and backlight for the band. Then to finish the design, Anderson placed the VL3000 Wash fixtures on the ground row, which provided a wide wash backlight.

"When people get serious about doing television and video shoots, they need VARI*LITE," advised Dopson. "When we were first discussing the new acquisition of gear, we thought ‘can we make our money back’ and the answer was ‘hands down yes’. We will definitely be acquiring more VARI*LITE luminaires, and as the gigs come in, we will be shipping the gear right back out."

Anderson concluded, "The bottom line is the DVD has to look good and it looks great. The VARI*LITE luminaires have the perfect color temperature, color mixing, and zoom for video projects. I was really happy be working with Gemini and their new VAR*LITE fixtures. They are both part of my extended family."

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