Magazine article American Cinematographer

MUSCO LIGHTING FOR All the Right Moves

Magazine article American Cinematographer

MUSCO LIGHTING FOR All the Right Moves

Article excerpt

Michael Chapman, who shot TAXI DRIVER and was Oscar-nominated for RAGING BULL, calls it "an extraordinary new tool" and used it extensively on ALL THE RIGHT MOVES, his first film as a director.

Jan De Bont, his director of photography on RIGHT MOVES, says it may have saved him and his crew as much as two weeks of complicated, expensive pre-rigging for a football-stadium sequence-a sequence that would have required building scaffolding towers for arcs a dangerous 125 feet high.

They're talking about the Musco Mobile Lighting System, which made its TV debut on September 20, 1982, with ABC's broadcast of the Michigan-Notre Dame game at Notre Dame Stadium. The system was aquickly adopted for 20 more college gridiron contests telecast over the next 12 weeks before hitting the ultimate TV sports jackpot by lighting the Pasadena Rose Bowl for the 1983 Super Bowl. Then came a TV commercial for the Spruce Goose, a twoday shoot within a geodesic dome that accommodated the craft's largerthan-a-football-field 325-foot wingspan, and then the system's feature debut in ALL THE RIGHT MOVES.

The system currently consists of eight trucks owned by Oskaloosa, Iowa-based Musco Mobile Lighting, Ltd. The technology and design originated with its sister company, Musco Sports-Lighting, Inc., of Muscatine, Iowa, which manufacturers and installs permanent stadium lighting. Each truck consists of a hydraulic 150-foot crane holding a sportscluster of 15 lamps horizontally and vertically adjustable on a knuckle system. Each truck has its own generator.

"No one before has been able to figure out how to put large numbers of lights together and precisely move them around up in the air as a quality light source," says Musco president Joe P. Crookham in pointing out the uniqueness of his and engineer Myron Gordin's system. "After we work out a computer program for each of the lights, they become one composite light source because they're all aimed relative to each other. Then, lifted, pre-focused, in the air on the crane, we can hydraulically control the whole light rack and rotate it around."

At Notre Dame, six Musco cranes equipped with a total of 90 6000-watt HMI fixtures combined with the stadium's permanent lighting system to produce an average of 225 foot-candles of light from the pressbox camera perspectives. Key lighting was approximately twice the intensity of the backlighting, permitting sharp pictures of the players and the ball while softening the reflected illumination of the turf. Uniformity was at a ratio of less than 1 ½ to 1.

For the Super Bowl telecast, Musco augmented permanent stadium lighting to produce approximately 200 footcandles of illumination in the Rose Bowl, from aiming distances as long as 800 feet. Crookham says: "When you've got 24 cameras in a situation where the only planned thing is the kickoff, after that you must be prepared to go wherever the action is, air, ground, whatever. The difficulty is to get the amount and uniformity of lighting that you want without the flare that you don't want." That Musco's "gigantic flashlight sitting on the bed of a truck" could reduce that difficulty considerably was demonstrated at Point Stadium in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, where the climactic footballgame sequence in ALL THE RIGHT MOVES was shot.

Three Musco trucks adapted to carry 60 lamps each were combined with the stadium's simple, permanent incandescent sports lamps and a carbon-arc fill to create 60-70 footcandles of illumination on the playing field. The lamps in the Musco racks were 1500-watt tungsten incandescents except for 15 6K HMI's on one truck and a few 6K HMI's on each of the other trucks. Following the directions of the computer program written to produce the desired light balance, the HMI's were gelled and the tungstens were aimed at smaller areas and concentrated there.

Joe Crookham suggests that Musco engineer Myron Gordin's work for the stadium sequence is among the least sophisticated designs he has done because of the preponderance of incandescents on the cranes. …

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