Marc Janowitz adds extra sparkle to Nikki Glaser comedy special with Elation SparkLED

Chief Designer at E26 Design, Marc Janowitz uses Elation’s SparkLED twinkle effect, proprietary technology included in the Elation Rayzor 760™ LED wash moving head, as well as other Elation luminaires for Nikki Glaser's HBO comedy special. Photo: Adam Rose / HBO

Comedian Nikki Glaser’s first HBO comedy special is a hilarious, no-holds-barred hour of comedy that covers a range of ticklish topics like sex, dating, and private parts. Taped late last year at the Paramount Theater in Denver, Colorado in front of a sold-out audience, Nikki Glaser: Good Clean Filth premiered on HBO on July 16 and is available to stream on HBO Max.

Chief Designer at E26 Design, Marc Janowitz, who served as lighting and production designer for the special, sought a sparkle lighting effect to go along with the set’s backdrop glitter curtain. He found what he was looking for in Elation’s SparkLED twinkle effect, proprietary technology included in the Elation Rayzor 760 LED wash moving head, as well as other Elation luminaires.

“When we were exchanging design and visual ideas, Nikki showed us a picture from a show she had done in a Vegas showroom where there was a glitter curtain,” Janowitz recalls. “She really liked the idea of bringing that aesthetic into her special so we found and crafted the material to work with the set design. I wanted to extend that glitter look into the lighting fixtures and selected the Rayzor 760 specifically for its ability to create sparkles on its lens face. I thought it would go very nicely with the glitter curtain as eye candy for the cameras. To me, it is very much the live lighting version of a glitter curtain.”

The seven oversized front lenses of the Rayzor 760 create a large surface that is enhanced by SparkLED technology. SparkLED consists of 28 individual 2W white LEDs placed inside the lens itself to create a unique additional layer of sparkle. SparkLEDs are controllable via the lighting console or driven by a multitude of internal FX patterns.

Janowitz placed the Rayzor 760 lighting fixtures in places he knew would be in camera shot—cross shots, closeups and wide shots—following the contour lines of the upstage and side glitter curtains both on overhead trusses and on the floor. Additional fixtures populated the wings with more on the downstage truss pointing out to provide illumination onto the audience but also to extend the sparkle concept to the top of the frame for wide camera shots. A total of 30 Rayzor 760 units were used with the SparkLED effect active during the walk-on, walk-off and as a static background glitter look during the show. The fixture foreground was set at a deep blue.

Janowitz’s extensive lighting and design experience includes a decade with Blue Man Group, designs for New York theatre and years working with top touring bands like My Morning Jacket, Trey Anastasio and The Lumineers, among others. He has a great deal of experience lighting for broadcast as well and has lit many comedy specials, a genre that has its own special characteristics.

“In most of these comedy specials, you work hard to come up with that one ‘look’ that stays throughout the entire show and needs to look right from a multitude of camera angles,” the designer comments. “There is typically an intro look with a bit of fanfare as the comedian walks on stage but then that settles into a look that stays for the rest of the show. Once we settle into the show look we try to keep it looking reasonably the same so that in the editing process they can piece it together, cut out a sequence if need be, even cut two different shows together, and not have to contend with a visual background that changes too much or one that loses its continuity.” Shot in multi-cam, meaning any of the six different cameras on the shoot were active at any given time, Director of Photography Jay Lafayette scrutinized every angle with the sparkle concept fundamental to most every look.

Janowitz had a host of other luminaires at his disposal for the comedy special including Elation’s Proteus Maximus LED moving head, which he used from a far downstage truss position to help augment and accentuate the sparkle concept by projecting a star gobo across the glitter curtain to help bring it to life. Ten units worked from the downstage truss with a further six units on the floor, three per side. Other moving heads as well as lighting battens were also used on the show. Lighting supply was by local Colorado production house Brown Note Productions.