Ray Thompson is one of those rare people who works with a passion and clear vision that still shines bright after three decades of award-winning lighting design. He exudes love for lighting and color when he is working on site or in the creative phase, and he’s simply a joy to work with. I am also honored to call him a great friend and have known Ray and his partner Curt for many years. Professionally they continue to amaze me with their talent and I’m happy to say that Images by Lighting has been part of many of the Gala Awards that AOO Events has won over the years. These are my go-to guys for any important event as they always bring something beautiful and illusory to the party.David Merrell, AOO Creative Director, Lead designdawg
THE LIGHT EMOTION
By Raymond Thompson
In the years that I’ve been lighting events – from epic and prestigious to intimate and glamorous -- I’ve found my greatest joy to be the emotion and movement that light can create not only for the event but for the moods of the people at those events.
To me, an event is like a dance, and we control the motions and emotions of it from the moment the guest steps into the room to the moment the “music” stops. We orchestrate emotion through all the senses and build upon it from the very first visual to the very last.
It’s a little ironic that in order to create this beautiful dance that I rely on a heavy arsenal of equipment but that’s just the way it is. Also, my background as an engineer gives me a desire to always want to explore the latest techie toys that will allow me to design with something as ethereal as light. Two of my most recent toys help me create the flow of emotion -- LEDs and DL3 video projectors. At the opening season and celebration the new conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, working with Gai Klass Event Production, I was able to put both technologies to work (or rather, play).
The event was designed as one long tent. At 220 feet long by 50 feet wide it was a challenge for the designers who needed to incorporate IMAG (image magnification) and branding of the L.A. Phil. I proposed doing groupings of spheres that were rented from AirDD. We assembled five groups of three 8-foot spheres that ran the length of the tent. We then cross-projected the spheres with two DL3s.
The beauty of these instruments is that you can size the image to the space exactly, even a sphere. These are video projectors but there is nothing big and clunky about them. It’s a riggable, moving light fixture similar in appearance to rock ‘n roll’s Mac 3 and can be programmed and positioned to project what and where you want.
For this event we programmed it with images of musical notes, bars, and orchestra instruments. Custom graphics were produced just for this. When Gustavo Dudamel, the charismatic new conductor, entered the room, we picked him up on IMAG which projected to the spheres. You could see him laughing, dancing, and talking on the spheres. Throughout the event, we projected flames, clouds, and even chandeliers in keeping with how the flow of the evening was going. As the celebration began to come to a close, we projected rippling water effect and the logo.
And the LEDs I mentioned earlier? They differ from uplights (the classic go-to for wall washes) in that they have the capability to dial in any color from a remote or they can be hard wired. Either way, they allow us to wash the perimeter walls of the tents in a variety of colors, going from one color to the next and building to a crescendo.
This lighting design was for a Disney event. Another way that a combination of intelligent lighting and video projection can create energy across a large space.
We do LED washes a lot for weddings. They are very effective and if the budget allows, a delicious way to create a mood. The room begins with walls bathed in candlelight. Then, when the bride and groom hit the dance floor we shift to royal blue on the walls and a spot of hot white on the floor for the couple. The focus becomes only the couple! The walls would then transition through specific colors throughout the remainder of the event.
When done right, guests usually don’t notice that the room changes color. But they do notice how they feel as it does. To me, this is the key to really great lighting. Sometimes you want it to be part of the design – such as pattern textures over everything, and other times, you just want it to be like the perfect guest and bring its very best to the party be that warmth, energy or simply brilliant illumination that affects everyone and leaves a beautiful memory.
Ray Thompson graduated from the
In 1991, Thompson partnered with lighting designer Curt Stahl, and the two of them now handle all design for Images. Through their efforts and commitment, Images has grown to have a close family of regular clients, event coordinators, and venues in