Daystar Television - 2 Studios and Vari-Lite
Lighting Designer Robby Kurtz lights for a worldwide audience
Published Monday, February 12, 2007
by Bryan Matthews

In 1994, Daystar Television opened their first studio in Las Colinas, Texas .  Today, Daystar Television broadcasts from a 90,000 square foot state-of-the-art international ministry center in Dallas, Texas . Upon relocating to the new facility, it was decided to upgrade the lighting package to include the latest in automated luminaires.  Chosen to oversee the acquisition and operation of the automated fixtures was lighting designer Robby Kurtz, and Kurtz chose 14 VL2500™ Wash luminaires, 8 VL2500™ Spot luminaires, 4 VL3000™ Spot luminaires, and 4 VL3500™ Spot luminaires.


The automated fixtures in Daystar Television would be required to light two broadcast studios, Studio A and Studio B.  In Studio A, Daystar produces Celebration, a one-hour talk show that airs live on Mondays, Tuesday, Thursdays, and Fridays.  In Studio B, Daystar produces Sound Check, a showcase of Christian musicians and bands where music and faith collide.


“In looking at automated lights on the market, and what we would be requiring them to do, it was the optics of the VARI*LITE luminaires that drove the purchase,” began Kurtz.  “The flat field of the VL3000 and VL3500, plus the intensity of the beams, would allow me to cover more area with fewer lights, thereby actually cutting the cost of our purchase.”


In his designs, Kurtz would utilize the VL3000 and VL3500 luminaires as key lights due to their zoom range and the shutter capabilities.  With the VL2500 fixtures, Kurtz was looking for a medium size fixture that would provide excellent beam images as well as fantastic colors.


Kurtz continued, “The VL2500 fixtures are used primarily in Studio A during Celebration.  I like the VL2500 spot for its beam images and crisp gobo projections.  And then I capitalize on the capabilities of the VL2500 wash by using it for backlight colors and ‘eye candy’ for the video.”


Approximately once a week, Celebration will feature a guest musical artist or band.  When this happens, Kurtz will transfer the VL3000 Spot luminaires to supplement the lighting design, but for the most part, they are used solely in Studio B for Sound Check.  During the taping of Sound Check, the featured band will perform four songs in front of a live studio audience, followed by an interview session in Studio A on the set of Celebration.


Four days before the arrival of each band, Kurtz will set the lighting and begin the pre-programming for each musical number.  In order to capture the nuances of each artist, Kurtz listens to the artists’ CD, and designs what he feels enhances the style of each song. Once the band arrives on set, the actual sound check takes place, at which time he is able to fine tune the lighting design.  Finally, the live-studio audience is brought in, and it’s show time.  In their first season, Daystar showcased 13 bands during Sound Check.


Kurtz went on to state, “Now that we own the VARI*LITE fixtures, we try to change the lighting design with each band, and as much as possible.  I basically have free reign to light the bands as I wish.  When they arrive in the studio, most of the bands are surprised at the level of sophistication of our system.  During Sound Check I find myself using a lot of the zoom capabilities and gobo rotations.  Plus, I like to use a lot of colors, fading in and out in between the song transitions.  I like to play with the strobing and gobo spins together, and I am very impressed with the full range of speed options that they give.  I am not only impressed with how fast I can get the spins, but how slow I can get them.  No other fixtures can get it that slow and that smooth.  And the optics and intensity of the VL3000 spot are simply incredible.”


Daystar Television Network has emerged as the fastest growing and second largest Christian television network in the world, operating over 40 television stations in major markets across the United States .  Daystar has a potential audience of over 128 million viewers in the U.S. alone, which includes 43 million cable and satellite homes, while also being viewed on international satellites reaching over 200 countries.


Kurtz concluded, “When we were purchasing our automated lighting package, the lights had to be reliable, we simply don’t have the time to be repairing fixtures.  And the VARI*LITE fixtures have been great.  I haven’t had any issues with any of the lights.  We have no color loss, they are all accurate with their gobo indexing and rotation, and the repeatability of the shutters is a definite advantage.”

Send this page to a friend