the best lighting design…EVER…

Them there’s fightin’ words…for those of us who are absolute lighting geeks

But I will issue my opinion regardless…

The best lighting design EVER is the insane music video from Lenny Kravitz:  Are You Gonna My Way from 1993:

Released in ’93, this video was so far ahead of anything else…in theatrical lighting or architectural lighting…that it was staggering in its scope and impact.

Here is what I can find about the design:

Michael Keeling usually works on short deadlines, compensating for a lack of time by speaking rapidly in a shorthand language filled with electrical jargon, acronyms and numbers that might refer to amperes, watts, phases, decay factor or degrees Kelvin. Keeling is a Los Angeles-based lighting and production designer who designs sets for music videos using lights, colour and darkness as much as plywood and aluminium. Created by Keeling, the set of the most recent Justin Timberlake music video, Rock Your Body , resembles a deluxe Lite Brite toy circa 1978. A black void, its ceiling and walls lined with multicoloured bulbs that seem to stream down the walls, the set is kinetic, graphic and candy-coloured. Keeling’s work reminds us that light and dark, like more palpable materials, are capable of defining and animating space and, not least, animating the viewer. Keeling never liked school very much. At the age of 15, when a friend invited him to help with lighting for a Bob Hope television special, he embarked on an alternative path, working on sets for the television sitcoms Soap and The Jeffersons, for The Gong Show, and for dancemusic classics like Soul Train and Solid Gold. As time went on and Keeling gradually mastered his niche in TV, he put his knowledge of large-scale dimming and electrical-distribution capabilities to work to create concert lighting for musicians like Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Frank Zappa. In 1993 he designed the set for Are You Gonna Go My Way?, a Lenny Kravitz video that went on to win an MTV award. The director asked Keeling to create a vast ‘chandelier’ of light bulbs, an element big enough to span the ceiling above a large, round room ringed with curving walls and three balcony tiers. It took Keeling – poring over Sylvania, Philips and Acey Decy equipment catalogues – two weeks to find the appropriate light source: a $9, 23-centimetre,100- watt, incandescent aquarium bulb with a 20-centimetre filament that could be dimmed or warmed up to various intensities to create patterns. He used 983 of these cylindrical bulbs, each controlled from a console by an individual dimmer.

Incandescent aquarium bulbs???  How crazy.  Design is what matters — tech is secondary.  To this day I would KILL to step foot on that stage set.  If I won the lottery, like, a really, REALLY big lottery, I would replicate that video stage set for my, I don’t know….living room????

Click to access 03frame41keelinglo.pdf