Mike Cristella elected to saturate the room in a deep Congo blue throughout the event
USA - The owner of Live Wire Productions, Mike Cristella was at Harrah’s Resort, Atlantic City, this October to light Matchroom’s US Open 9-Ball Pool Championship, the world’s most prestigious pool tournament, which was televised on the Sky Sport, DAZN and A&E networks.
Cristella and his team (Andy DiAngelis, Jeff Gallagher, Dan Ryan, Andrew Driscoll, Rob Zauck, and Janice Brittin) made a demanding situation look easy, not only creating a supportive environment for players, but also evoking classic poolhall images for TV viewers.
Helping them accomplish this feat was a 4Wall Entertainment supplied rig that featured Chauvet Professional COLORado 2 Solo and STRIKE Array 2 fixtures.
“When lighting a pool tournament, we’re always looking to land a certain shadow in the right place or get pleasing fill light values on a face,” said Cristella. “This can be a real challenge when the playability of the match is so important since you have to be very careful not to distract the players.
“Intensity is also part of this dance,” he continued. “We have to give the broadcast engineers the foot-candles that they need for TV, but at the same time, it’s absolutely essential that we keep the players comfortable under large broadcast fixtures. Then, of course, we also want to have interesting visuals in the perimeter of the room so we can set an evocative tone when the camera pans out.”
To meet these challenges, the Live Wire Productions team relied on ultra-diffused sources of light directly above the broadcast site to illuminate players and their table. They also used Fresnels to create some structure around the table, being careful to avoid shadows. For wide out shots when the broadcast transitioned from segment to segment, the team relied on 19 STRIKE Array 2 fixtures, positioned around the perimeter of the rig to create captivating background visuals.
Cristella elected to saturate the room in a deep Congo blue throughout the event because it contrasted starkly with the 6000K of the white pool table lights, a juxtaposition that was visually pleasing for in-person attendees as well as TV cameras.
“Playability in these events is paramount,” said Cristella. “So, I have to avoid any bright or unsaturated colours that can distract the players. However, I still wanted to create contrasts with colouur.”
Helping Cristella create his well-balanced colour-scape were the rig’s 64 COLORado 2 Solo fixtures. The 40-watt RGBW washes also brought extra depth to the scene by uplighting the room’s perimeter truss structures. “This fixture was ideal for this application,” he said. “It gave us excellent intensity; we were able to zoom it all the way out while still maintaining the punchy saturated colours for the camera.”
Cristella observed that “letting the Congo blue do the heavy lifting” created a neon-like glow that made a huge ballroom “feel like a local pool hall”.

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