Robe SuperSpikies light High School Musical
Tuesday, 4 October 2022
robe-disneyThe fixtures were used for various studio sets (photo: Anne Marie Fox)
USA - Disney+’s popular High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (HSMTMTS) returned to TV screens for a much-anticipated third season, with producers Skot Bright and Zack Lowenstein asking Hisham Abed to join the production team as director of photography.
Shot over four months in the spring, 12 x Robe SuperSpikie moving lights were specified by Hisham and the producers to help provide flexible and efficient solutions for lighting ‘permanent’ sets in the Burbank, California, studio where the season was recorded in addition to assorted locations in and around Los Angeles.
The Season 3 narrative is set at Camp Shallow Lake, a sleepaway camp in California, as theatre kids the Wildcats and fellow campers are primed for an unforgettable summer ripe with romance, curfew-less nights and a taste of the great outdoors.
Skot and Zack have worked together on several previous projects. Skot’s history in music and rock ‘n’ roll touring production and Zack’s background is in television.
Skot underlined the importance of moving lights to a production like this as “essential” to producing the requisite looks and atmospherics needed for the comedy-fantasy-musical genre with “multiple dynamics and some magical touches needed to capture the mood and flow”.
Hisham has cut some of his DoP teeth in reality television where clever lighting reinforces the authenticity of the genre without making it staged or contrived. It was exactly that aesthetic they wanted for the ‘mockumentary’ / docu-comedy style of Season 3.
When it came to choosing actual fixtures, “We needed something small, lightweight, powerful and versatile that fit our budget,” explained Skot, although the final pick was left to Hisham who added, “The lights needed to be quick and easy to set up and program to help us keep pace with the hectic rehearsal and shoot schedule.”
Following a demo of the SuperSpikie by Robe North America’s western regional sales manager Adam Camp, Hisham decided on renting 12 units for the duration of the shooting period which covered the eight Season 3 episodes.
The fixtures were used for various studio sets, mainly the Theatre / Barn and the Void and were part of approximately 70 or 80 fixtures in total utilised for each set.
The challenge for Hisham was dealing with creating the diversity of looks needed whilst simultaneously prepping and rigging the next shots. Being a musical production as well as a TV show, actors and singers were constantly rehearsing, recording tracks and filming.
“These SuperSpikies were another weapon in the arsenal” stated Hisham, impressed after the demo, “and were perfect for all our needs.”
The Theatre was the main set on which the SuperSpikies were used, which was right at the heart of the musical summer camp being attended by the cast at Shallow Lake.
Working closely with Hisham on lighting this season were gaffer Damon Dulas and programmer Wally Sylvia, who have worked together for over 10 years.

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