CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute Shines With HES Fixtures

Date Posted: 3/17/2021

Since 2007, CNN Heroeshas inspired millions with stories of everyday people committed to making the world a better place. Hosted by Anderson Cooper and Kelly Ripa and broadcast in December 2020 from CNN’s Hudson Yards facility in New York City, 2020’s CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute saluted the frontline workers, advocates, scientists, and others that reignited hope during this challenging time.

The Lighting Design Group (LDG) lit the show. President and Senior Lighting Designer Steve Brill and Lighting Designer Dan Rousseau used High End Systems’ TurboRay, SolaPix, and SolaFrame 750 to produce rich colors and memorable visuals on the expansive set.

In a High End Systems interview with Rousseau, he explained LDG’s main lighting tenets for television work, “Always front and center is making sure the talent looks great. Having the right fixtures in the right place, knowing how to get the shot from multiple angles, and the right amount of control is extremely important.  At Hudson Yards, we had the opportunity to use haze and really added a dynamic element to the show with aerial effects.”

SolaPix and TurboRay each brought distinctive attributes to LDG’s design. “When I first saw TurboRay, I knew this was a fixture I had to propose to Steve and CNN Director Brett Kelly for Heroes,” commented Rousseau.“The face makes a dramatic statement alone with the diffusion fins. It really has an ‘award show’ feel to it! Similarly, Bobby Hale, Regional Sales Manager of High End Systems, introduced us to the SolaPix line, and where I saw the most potential was not directly in the lens, but the sides of it. The honeycomb pattern produced by its Holographic Pixel Definition ‘edge’ was a unique look that I knew would do well on camera.”

“Just about every position had either a TurboRay or a SolaPix in its shot,” says Rousseau. “We used them on the floor as low-level eye candy, and they usually were near one of the many LED video walls. Wide bump shots showed off the fixtures the best, and both fixtures looked beautiful on camera. We didn’t really go deep into the special effect layers of the fixtures, opting for single color options as the show is not too flashy. We wanted to keep it simple so that it would complement the composition and not complete.”

The primary moving lights used in the studio are SolaFrame 750s. “We had chosen the 750 as our moving fixture for CNN Hudson Yards, and use it in three of our five studios. In fact, we even rented more for our main studio for Heroes! For the studio, we had nearly 50 SolaFrame 750s - the quality of light is perfect for talent. We rely on the shutters and diffusion mostly - and for once, the gobos were really important in creating aerial effects and live moves.”

The CNN Heroes team featured Steve Brill as Senior Lighting Designer, Dan Rousseau as Lighting Designer, Jon Goss programming on an EOS Ti, and Brian Renoni as Gaffer. Josh Culter LDG lighting manager at CNN and his team consisting of Declan Moore, Fred Uebele, Robin Wallace, Jeremy Dominik, Josh Windhausen, Bobby Tacoma, and Val Migoulia participated in pre-production. LDG Project Managers were Sheryl Wisniewski and Hannah Zucker. As noted, CNN Heroeswas directed by Brett Kelly.