Helm Projects creates lockdown learning centre
Wednesday, 1 July 2020
helmproject2Helping the Helm Projects team is a collection of Chauvet DJ fixtures
USA - After finishing his NYE show for Bassnectar in Louisville, Justin Casey was gearing up for a busy 2020. For a couple of months things played out that way for the owner of Helm Projects. There were shows at the Okeechobee Festival and Holy Ship Wreck; a concert at American Airlines Arena with Snoop Dog. The list went on - until the COVID-19 lockdown brought it to a sudden end.
After spending a couple of weeks “decompressing,” Casey elected to pivot his business. With live events on hold, he suddenly had all of his gear in the Chatanooga, TN warehouse for the first time in five years. Rather than let this equipment gather dust, he made the decision to put it to use by creating a combination learning laboratory and livestream studio.
“We have lots of cameras, switchers, and audio gear, along with lighting that’s normally out on shows available to us,” says Casey. “After their break my team was ready to get back to work, but this time instead of doing shows, we had learning in mind.
“All us saw this as an opportunity to step up and learn every piece of gear we owned and how to operate it,” continues Casey. “Suddenly, I had time that I normally don’t have, to work with my team, teaching them how to maximize their use of video and lighting software.”
Once the warehouse studio became such a great learning space for the Helms Projects team, Casey decided to open it up to local musicians interested in livestreaming. This would give them a way to reach the community, while also providing Casey’s crew with some real-time experience working with artists.
Familiarising themselves with the nuances of colour mixing is an important part of the learning process for Helm Projects’ team members. By mastering these lessons, they’re able to provide livestreams with engaging looks that translate well to screens of all sizes, even those on small cell phones.
Helping the Helm Projects team create immersive palettes at their warehouse studio is a collection of Chauvet DJ Slim PAR and COLORrail IRC fixtures. “We have 80 Slim PAR Q12s and 14 COLORrail IRCs in our warehouse,” said Casey. “Normally, these fixtures would be on tour, but having them all here now gives us tremendous opportunities to flood our studio with vivid colours.”
The Slim PAR Q12 units in the Helms Projects studio are all positioned between the green screen and the live performance area, while the COLORrail IRC fixtures are used for pixel mapped eye candy effects. Creating geometric patterns with the linear COLORrail units result in compelling looks that come off well from all camera angles. (The studio has seven cameras and a Resolume setup for live visuals and camera effects).
“When we discuss lighting in this application, we’re thinking in terms of how it looks for cameras, rather than the overall stage,” sas Casey. “Creating vibes with colours and movements rather than trying to make a ‘lightshow,’ is what we’re after. We keep it to a small recording studio vibe that has enough room to feel like it’s intimate rather than a venue stage. We are going for high quality sound and looks here to highlight the performers.”
The Helms Projects studio has received praise for those looks form the artists who’ve livestreamed from the facility, as well as from their fans. Although he is pleased with this feedback, Casey is especially proud of the impact the learning lab/livestream studio has had on his team of Justin Lyons, Josh Miller, Josh Mathely, Owen Pike, Nick Stabile, Eric Bivens and Ryan Long, noting that without their enthusiasm, this lockdown learning “never would have happened”.

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