Home › Forums › Imagination Forum – Theme Park Attraction Design & Imagineering › Next steps into the industry (lighting)
First time poster. I’ve wanted to be involved in theme park lighting since I was a kid, and I’ve finally made my first steps into the industry… I’m working on a dark ride / roller coaster that’s going into a major US park and its great to finally get to work on something like this.
I have an extensive theater background and am on an internship with a lighting company. I’ll be there through the summer, hopefully getting to do some more theme park stuff, but most of our attention will turn to the Olympics pretty soon.
I guess my big question is… what’s a good next step? I’d love to work for Uni on Strongarm or for Disney, but don’t really know how to go about it. I’m a TEA member, is it ok to cold e-mail someone on the directory? or is that seen as somewhat amateur?
Also, a specific question, probably for Nate… does Universal Creative have in-house LDs, or do they contract out? I’ve heard Visual Terrain has done some work for Uni.
PS> if theres anyone out there interested in lighting design, I’d be happy to chat about how I got started thus far.
Well, i have no advice to offer but it’s good to see another theater person working their way toward a god job in the industry 🙂
Most people i run into are engineers who want to design coasters and ride system. I’m a scenic designer so to me that’s very.. bleh. Not that I dont appreciate the systems, just that i dont want it to be my focus.
I’m at the end of my undergrad and looking at grad schools, so my question is what sort of degree did you get and where from? Did the school have any particular ties to any of the larger companies in the industry? Did you pursue a masters or did you go right into the field?
Oh, and for the show that is going on for me right now – know of any way to make color scrollers less noisy? I’m not the lighting designer, but i’ve been sitting in on the cue-ing, and they sure are noisy – even when set to the color in an earlier cue so they have plenty of time to cycle. I can deal with the electric whirr of technobeams and even the odd sound of the pani’s changing slides, but scrollers are like nails on a chalkboard 😉
I did my undergrad at Syracuse University, which was an amazing school and I went straight to grad school at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. The drama program there does have some connections to lighting companies, but I don’t know as far as scenery. They don’t have a strong connection to places like Landmark Entertainment Group or other subcontracting companies.
There are two programs there to consider, the drama program and the Entertainment Technology Center. I came close to leaving drama for the ETC but ended up staying, partly because the ETC is signifigantly more expensive. But the ETC is the first program I’d look at if you think grad school is the way to go and you want to be in themed environments. They have connections to Imagineering and many other companies. Another thing thats nice about it is its a two year program, instead of three for most MFAs.
As with any school I suggest you spend at least a day sitting in on classes and meeting with students and professors and decide if the fit is right for you.
As for scrollers, scrolls that are 1) new and 2) professionally made will be a lot quiter because the gel will not be warped and won’t crackle as it gets rolled to one side of the other. But I’m assuming in a school situation this is not an option.
Cueing is the normal solution, though it sounds like their already on long fade times. Based on the fact that there are moving lights, projectors, and scrollers I’m guessing this is a musical? A great trick is to hide the scroll moves in applause, sound effects, or crescendos in the music. The loud noise floor will allow the quicker changes to happen without noticing them in the house.
Of course the other option is to not have scrollers front of house, which is generally good practice, but not always possible.
The show is Metamorphoses – non musical, but is has a swimming pool – and one of the directors is a choreographer so it’s kinda like a spoken musical in a swimming pool.
About the ETC and Carnegie Mellon in general.. I worry that it is all too, i dunno.. too much? Like it seems like a school people would burn out on. I’m very much a quality before quantity person and some schools seem to want to do so much in such a short period of time. Thus their students never sleep and never have days off.
I dont want to goto a school that’s going to kill me physically. I’ve been doing this long enough to know when a schedule is too insane to be realistic and when people are really asking for way too much. It’s one thing to pull an all nighter to finish something should things get behind – but it’s another to have those sorts of schedules planned as if they were the norm. Ya know? They say the theatre industry is horrible for your health. I intend not to die from stress or overworking.
So how would describe the quality of life while attending school there?
Second – the ETC – isn’t it heavily focused on virtual reality? I will integrate technology in my sets (projectors used to establish a scene in Metamorphoses for example) but I am not willing to goto the current trend of believing that VR is everything and that guests on attractions want to play video games while riding through an otherwise empty building.
That’s an artistic choice of mine i suppose, but i think real sets and real reality is the way to go over VR. Doesn’t the ETC focus so heavily on VR and even though it might be a great opportunity i might clash mentally there?
Good to have you here on the site. You seem to be doing the right things.
Keep participating in TEA and go to the mixers. Good people there and networking is what will make it all happen.
ETC has a great program. They do a project at Give Kids The World in Orlando – real world experience and a chance to give to a great cause.
Where is the internship? Are you looking at being in Orlando?
right now I’m in San Francisco, but my brother lives in Orlando, and I’m young enough that I’m definitely willing to go where the work takes me.
If you’re in San Francisco you should look up Nancy McCoy. She’s associated with the architectural lighting design community there and is a great designer… a good person to know. If you want to get into the themed entertainment aspect of it, I highly recommend you contact Pat Gallegos of Gallegos lighting. Great guy and has been doing themed entertainment lighting for years! You can look up his information on in our company directory. As for lighting designers on staff, yes, entertainment design companies do have lighting designers on staff depending on the project.
Definitely keep in touch and let me know how it goes…
You’re doing the right stuff and still have a great attitude, too!
BTW, check out the lighting on a new show on MTV, starting on the main stage April 3, called Rock The Cradle. The set and the lighting have a great look to them. I was there for the rehearsal on Wed. The show is about rock star’s kids that want to be rock stars themselves, and it is run sort of like American Idol with people voting… A good idea for a show and the kids are pretty good, too.