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Q&A With Lighting Designer Mike Berger

By Andrew Quinones on Dec 18, 2018
Posted in General

4Wall: How's it going, Mike? The last time we talked you had just wrapped up the Boston Pops Spectacular for the 4th. What other cool projects have you been working on since then?

Mike Berger: Right after Boston, I dove into America's Got Talent with Full Flood and Noah Mitz (Designer). Between the live episodes, and the new Champions spin-off, that kept me pretty busy through the end of October. After AGT I lit the Brittania Awards and the Streamy Awards which were both held at The Beverly Hilton. In November Chris Werner and I teamed up for the inaugural iteration of NightGarden Experience (more on that below). Once returning from Miami I jumped right into For The Record's newest show, Love Actually Live before rounding out the year as a lighting director on the Kennedy Center Honors and the Survivor season 37 finale. 

4Wall: Awesome! Tell me about NightGarden. How was it working with Chris Werner Design on this brand-new experience?

MB: Chris and I have worked together for a long time now on a variety of projects, but this kind of outdoor experience was definitely a first for us. Working in a space like Fairchild gave us a great opportunity to explore new ways to utilize light.

We dug pretty deep in our toolkits to solve a variety of practical waterproofing and mounting solutions. Jeff Mateer and the 4Wall Orlando office were incredibly instrumental in this process. 

4Wall: Out of all the fixtures that 4Wall Orlando provided for NightGarden, which one was your favorite and why?

MB: We had a tremendous amount of Chauvet COLORados, they were truly the workhorses of the show. However, I think the fixture I was most surprised and impressed with was the Elation Proteus Hybrid. It has all of the features you would expect from a hybrid fixture, but it is also completely waterproof. It allowed us to place them without concern for weatherproofing. Additionally, its waterproof nature meant I could keep programming even when the Florida rains picked up. 

4Wall: You mentioned Love Actually Live earlier. Tell me about the lighting design for this show.

MB: Love Actually Live was a leap into a somewhat new genre with the For The Record team. Typically we address the entire canon of a film director in a project, not just a single movie. In this instance, not only were we tackling just Love Actually as a story but we also incorporated the entirety of the source material into our live presentation.

What this meant from a lighting standpoint was toning down our typical rock and roll aesthetic and shifting back into a slightly realistic theatrical approach. Joe Clavell (Asst. Lighting Director) kept us in the theatre mindset while Ryan Tanker (Programmer/Lighting Director) made sure we hit all the musical accents that a For The Record show has become known for. 

4Wall: What lighting fixture was a must have for Love Actually and how was it utilized?

MB: The integration of projection in this project meant that framing fixtures were a must to help stay off the screen surfaces.  For their price point and size, the High End Systems SolaFrame 750 came through in a huge way. The shutters were great at helping to carve actors out in front of the film. Additionally, the all-LED approach we took to the intelligent fixtures allowed us to install much more equipment than we otherwise would have within the power constraints of the space. 

GLP products were incredibly important in carrying the music of the show. We utilized 24 X4 Atoms as part of our light wall as well as 10 impression X4 Bar 20s within the bandstand.  The impact and versatility of those fixtures keep them at the top of my list for those sort of applications. 

With that being said, I think my favorite "light fixture" was the Christmas Tree. We sourced some (800 individual nodes) 12V pixel controlled RGB Christmas Lights for this purpose. Driven through the grandMA2 full-size console, Ryan did a spectacular job giving the tree its own character without taking away from the rest of the experience. 

4Wall: It's definitely been a busy couple of months for you. I see you finally found some time to create that Facebook business page we talked about. Tell me about Innovative Intensity and what you are looking forward to in 2019.

MB: Yes, it's been a whirlwind end to 2018. The new Facebook presence honestly doesn't change all that much, just a better way to help separate my work life from the personal. I've been really lucky in my career so far to work with a great group of collaborators on a variety of different projects. Innovative Intensity is simply a home for all of these things to exist together. I'm looking forward to continuing my work with Full Flood, Chris Werner Design and as a freelance designer. Hopefully, 2019 will bring continued and new opportunities to create and explore. 

(NightGarden Photos by Sharon Sipple)

(Love Actually photos by Kevin Perry)