TBN's 'Huckabee' TV Series

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TBN's 'Huckabee' TV Series

4Wall Nashville was the lighting provider for Trinity Broadcasting Network's (TBN) new TV series Huckabee. A story about the lighting design was recently featured in Lighting & Sound America. Below is the full story from the July 2018 L&SA magazine.

 Former Arkansas Governor and political commentator Mike Huckabee debuted Huckabee, on the Trinity Broadcasting Network in October. A weekly talk show focusing on current events, but with entertainment as well, it is filmed at the network's facility near Nashville.

According to Damon Herbert, an account manager with 4Wall Entertainment, Nashville office, the design process was fast and furious.

"The process was unique in that they were building it as we were trying to design it. The scenic designer was figuring it out on the same timeline as we were trying to figure out how to light it. From the time they gave us a rough ground plan, we had six weeks and that included designing everything, going through the purchasing process, getting everything manufactured and installed." The result, Herbert adds, has "that glamorous warehouse industrial feel."

Brad Hill, the show's lighting designer, says, "The set was particularly challenging. We knew that working in a room not originally designed for a multi-camera talk shows would create some issues. The nearly 1,200-seat theatre was built as a theatrical/concert-type venue nearly 40 years ago. There was one front-of-house truss for key lighting and a few electrics and truss onstage. TBN's engineering team, led by Larry Haley, and scenic designer Brian Scott, did an amazing job turning the room from an outdated theatre into a top-notch broadcast facility. Once the grid was completed, the first design hurdle was to deliver a soft, evenly lit talk-show look from steep angles that were less than desirable. In some areas, no grid existed, so we had to create creative with light placement. There are three jib cameras, a Steadicam, and three pedestals, so we knew lights would need to be placed strategically in order to remain fairly incognito; we didn't want to see fixtures hanging everywhere, and many of the set walls trim out at grid height. One solution involved picking ETC's Daylight HD Series 2 Lekos as our primary key lights. Because they're so intense, we could back the fixtures up, reduce the angle, and make the necessary long throws."

Mentioning his lighting consultants, he adds, "Mark Carver did a stellar job in helping with key light placement and Chuck Conklin was also a knowledgeable and helpful design consultant. There were saws, drills, and nail guns running up until the day before the first shows, so working with scenic and production was a trick!"

In addition to the ETC units mentioned above, the gear list includes, also from ETC, Lustr 2s, Studio 1 HD LED Lekos, and Source 4Wards; a variety of units from the Chauvet Professional Ovation line, along with COLORado 3 Solos, COLORado M Solos, and Rogue 2 Wash units; Martin by Harman RUSH Zoom 2 PARs; Gantom DMX RGB floods and warm white spots; Philips Showline Nitro 510Cs, a High End Systems SolaFrame 1500; Ayrton MagicBlade FX units; Claypaky Mythos 2 and A.leda B-EYE K20s; Robe Spiiders; and Cineo Lighting Matchstix.

"The workhorses are the ETC Daylight Series HD2s," Hill says. "We're using them for every key light and backlight in the room. We mixed in a few Arri SkyPanel S60-Cs and Desisti Super LED F10VW Fresnels for softer fill light at the desk and monologue areas. The Nitros uplight the acrylic floor at the monologue area. The predominant scenic workhorses are the Ovation 2805FCs and 1965FCs; we knew we wanted to uplight the brick in the room to take advantage of their texture. I was really impressed with the homogenous beam that the Ovations put out, along with their throw. One of our set walls is nearly 15' wide and 22' tall, and one 2805 did the trick.

"My favorite fixture in the room may be the SolaSpot 1500. We have so many variations of performers, ranging from solo musical artists to trapeze acts, comedians, magicians, and sixpiece front lines. Instead of blending spotlights or Leko-type fixtures, we simply use the SolaSpot. Its widerange zoom, high color rendition, shutter system, and even intensity allows us to light performances with a single fixture many times. "For our performance eye candy, we use the K20 B-Eyes, Spiiders, the MagicBlade FX, and Mythos 2s. My favorite of the bunch is probably the Spiider. It's a versatile, compact unit. Its wide zoom range allows us to use them as wash fixtures for backlights or in full zoom for a beam look. We also pixel-map for a variety of shape effects, or dial in the flower effect for a unique gobo-like look."

The show is controlled on an MA Lighting grandMA2 console, with an ETC network linking all gear. Herbert says, "We did it touring rack-style. They weren't sure if things would change over time, and we didn't want to pigeonhole them. The front of house has a network hub that connects to a rack in the catwalk, and one backstage." Herbert also set up a variety of demos for Hill, who adds, "4Wall was great! They always do a fantastic job keeping their clients happy. They jumped through a lot of hoops to get the project done on time. The team of Damon, Joshua Fisher, Charity Evans, and others was top-notch." Huckabee airs on Saturday nights, with encores on Sunday.