Network reality shows have a varied life expectancy – many fall straight into the ‘What were they thinking?’ bin, others drift into the ‘Oh, yes I vaguely remember that’ halfway house of falling ratings, while a few are good for the lighting industry but collapse under the weight of their own over-production. A select group rise to the top and stay there, their winning formula as enduring as a favorite family recipe. Their success does not rely on an ever-changing panel of celebrities, special effects or face plants into cold water, but on a compelling narrative. Entering its 10th season ABC’s Shark Tank pulls off the trick (matched only by Jeopardy) of being comfortingly familiar but still edgy – an old friend that can still surprise you. In that spirit, lighting designer Oscar Dominguez (a self-confessed ‘tinkerer’) is never content to leave well enough alone. “Each season we tweak the show – we’re always fine-tuning color and fixture placement,” says the three-time Emmy winning designer. No stranger to lighting panels of beautiful celebrities (he also lights World of Dance and The Voice) Dominguez has developed his own proprietary techniques.
“Every face I light uses an ETC fixture,” says Dominguez referring to the Sharks and the coaches on The Voice, “faces are the most important part of any show.” ETC Source Four Daylight HD fixtures cover the basics – key lights, side fills and backlight. “Different complexions and face shapes require slightly different lamp placement,” explains Dominguez, “we give Mr. Wonderful a more chiseled look using less fill and a steeper angle on his front light.” The ladies (Barbara Corcoran and Lori Grenier) require a softer treatment using an ingenious Dominguez invention he calls the Cyclo-Maximo, where 12 ETC Mini Profiles are arranged in 2 concentric circles on a welded frame about three feet in diameter, providing a multi-source key light. For season 10, Dominguez has replaced the ETC Mini Profiles with 7 ETC Irideon FPZ 3k 90+ CRI Portable Gallery fixtures. “The producer wanted the flexibility of moving Barbara and Lori into different seats – the Irideons allow me to change focus and make adjustments quickly without moving the rig around – the zoom lens really helps with that – I chose the Gallery version for the higher CRI.” Each Shark is lit with 7 fixtures from the Cyclo-Max from a front truss and 3 per side for each chair.
Dominguez has a history of matching fixtures to his needs, often in unconventional ways. At first glance, the Irideon FPZ would seem more at home in an art gallery than on a TV set, but with an 800- lumen output, lockable 3-plane shutters and a 33% output bump from the Source Four Mini LED, it is more than up to the task. He never turns down an opportunity to offer design feedback for the next iteration of any product. “I would like, for our purposes, to see units with an outboard power supply.”
Lighting director Ronny Wirsgalla has been with the show since season one. “I love the Irideons – they have a flat field, give me about five foot candles and a zoom range of 26 to 50 degrees – we add blue color correction to raise the native color temperature from 3200 to 4000.”
George Avalos of Illumination Dynamics of San Fernando, CA (the dealer of record and lighting package supplier) was impressed with the speed of delivery: “We knew this was a custom factory order and we still received the fixtures in a week.” ETC Customer Service Rep for the Western United States, Brian Veraghen added, “Our amazing Manufacturing team did some shuffling around to get some extra people to build this order in record time.”