Schmigadoon! turns to Martin Professional
Tuesday, 26 October 2021
schmigadoon3Schmigadoon! was filmed between October and December 2020
Canada - To bring a combination of hyper-realistic daylight looks and classic theatrical lighting to the production of Schmigadoon!, director of photography Todd Elyzen, lighting programmer Jason McKinnon and gaffer Bill Kassis deployed more than 200 Martin Professional MAC Encore Performance CLD fixtures supplied by Christie Lites.
Schmigadoon! is a six-episode Apple TV+ streaming series based on the 1947 musical Brigadoon, starring Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key as a couple who find themselves transported into a golden-age musical. Set in an idyllic mountain village and full of dance numbers and homages to iconic musicals, Schmigadoon! required a combination of realistic daylight illumination and exaggerated theatrical lighting. Since much of the show was shot on elaborate sets with a 40ft-high, 360-degree blue screen for digital set extensions, consistent illumination was critical yet lighting angles were limited.
To achieve the right look for every scene and be able to easily switch between and recall lighting setups, Todd Elyzen came up with the unorthodox idea to deploy a lighting rig primarily composed of moving-head fixtures mounted overhead. Lighting programmer Jason McKinnon selected the Martin MAC Encore Performance CLD for the task, securing more than 200 fixtures with the help of Christie Lites rental representative Joe Foley. In the end, the team deployed half of those fixtures on the primary set at Vancouver Film Studios, supplemented by additional sources to create a base level of ambient light in daytime scenes.
“The show borrows from a range of '50s Hollywood musicals, from The Wizard of Oz to Oklahoma and everything in between,” says Elyzen. “Oklahoma was shot on an exterior backlot in sunlight conditions and The Wizard of Oz was the opposite of that. Because we were blending so many of those different looks into our own story, I took the liberty of lighting in different ways. These lights allowed me to get hard sunlight where I wanted it or create a slightly overcast look with a bit of direction still coming through. We could also utilize them for feature lighting like lampposts and things like that.”
Designed for the stage and optimized for TV and broadcast applications, the Martin MAC Encore Performance CLD was suited to Elyzen and McKinnon’s needs. The CLD variant specialises in generating full-spectrum light with ultra-high colour rendition, which was appropriate for the many daytime outdoor scenes in Schmigadoon!.
High Color Rendering Index (CRI) and Televised Lighting Consistency Index (TLCI) values ensured accurate colour rendering on camera. Ultra-fast and silent movement, along with 16-bit DMX control of parameters like zoom, focus, dimming and gobo rotation, gave the team flexibility and precision when programming the rig and recalling specific scenes. This functionality allowed Elyzen and McKinnon to easily switch between lighting directions for realistic outdoor lighting on an indoor stage.
“We wanted to be able to turn around and shoot in any direction,” adds Elyzen. “Instead of having four different lighting setups, all pre-focused for that purpose, we were able to pre-programme the same fixtures and light from any direction we needed to. They were so versatile and programmable that it allowed us to flip back and forth between directions with the push of a button.”
In addition to the logistical advantages, the MAC Encore Performance CLD gave McKinnon the versatility to achieve a variety of creative looks. Five rotating glass gobos, an animation wheel, Animotion effects system and variable soft frost diffusion gave the team many possibilities for creative effects.
Schmigadoon! was filmed between October and December 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to McKinnon, the all-automated lighting rig not only saved time during production, it also reduced the number of crew needed on set. This made production safer, reduced costs and increased efficiency - a win for everyone.

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