Whether you are just starting out, experienced or a lighting expert, today’s interview has incredible value for you.
Today I am so excited, honored and privileged to share with you a short interview I had with Nook Schoenfeld. Nook is a lighting designer for big-time musical artists, trade shows, corporate events and any event that has lights.
He’s also a big inspiration for me and other lighting designers as he educates through this monthly column in PLSN and his DVD “Nook’s Ultimate Punt Pages”.
Punt Like It’s 2014 – An Interview with Nook Schoenfeld
How did you get started with stage lighting? How did that lead to where you are today?
I went to a state university in NY. SUNY New Paltz. While there I took theater classes and majored in English lit.
I volunteered to work on the stage hand crew when bands came to play the college. I earned very little money while I learned the craft. After 2 years there I went to San Francisco to USF and a school called the College for Recording Arts.
When I graduated I showed up on the door of several gear rental houses and was eventually hired by see Factor in NYC. They owned audio and lights. When audio rentals got slow, I volunteered to do lighting for the money. Then they invented moving lights and I was in the right place at the right time I guess.
What’s the most important skill someone can learn to be successful in production?
Learn how every little thing works, before you worry about how to be a designer. I think designers who do not actually understand how a lighting system goes together are missing something and it shows in the silliness of some designs. After that, the biggest thing I tell people is to ask questions and Listen to the answers. There are no stupid questions in lighting.
Nook, unlike some LD’s, your work crosses the boundaries of live music, corporates and trade shows. Is there a formula or key to great lighting that transcends these boundaries?
I think so. The people at corporate and trade shows know what I do with rock bands. And I incorporate big bold rock looks into the same presentations.
I make the lighting exciting enough to make some impact on any stage presentation. I don’t keep the same stagnant look for a variety of speakers at a business event. I mix it up and change the scenery color and texture for each person who steps up to a podium.
What inspires you on a daily basis to create excellent work?
As much as anyone says there is nothing new anymore, I dispute that. I strive to make up new geometric shapes as well as think up new ways to use old theatrical shapes. Last year I revisited an idea I had used on a fashion show 10 years ago, revamping it in a new way to design a John Legend tour.
What is your favorite piece of gear right now and why?
My favorite piece of gear changes monthly. I use the Mac Viper as my key hard edge light and the sharpy wash as my favorite soft edge wash light. But in this day and age we use what I call “accent lights”. These are lights that are not designed to actually illuminate any person or set piece, but are there to throw beams of light in the air as an “accent” to a look. This week I am digging the Ayrton MagicBlade.
A lot of Learn Stage Lighting readers are part-time at lighting, either working with bands, churches or small production companies, so they don’t have tons of extra time. What is one simple tip that the LearnStageLighting tribe can use this week to improve their lighting?
Spend time searching YouTube and look at how all other stuff is lit. You don’t need to steal others concepts, but you may see how beautifully somebody else has mixed certain colors in a scheme. While you may never wish to wear a green striped shirt with blue checkers pants, green and blue look great when combined in a stage look with 2 different gobos.
Where can we find more about you and your company? What are you currently working on?
Almost all music lighting designers have a web site.
If for nothing else, it shows pretty pics of the work you have done in the past and that’s what clients want to see. I don’t have an impressive site, but it’s inexpensive and shows pics of what I have done recently. http://www.visualventuresdesign.com
I am currently spending the summer lighting individual shows for Kid Rock, Vampire Weekend and Iggy Azalea.
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