Lighting Designer Walter Olden is a Secret Sauce Behind Longhorn Network Success

For many, nothing equals the excitement of college football, and that’s certainly the case at the University of Texas. To serve fans and alumni, the University of Texas created the Longhorn Network in 2010 and lighting designer Walter Olden of Olden Lighting Design of Austin has been a key cog in the production wheel.

For its studio coverage of the Alamo Bowl, Longhorn Network utilized Prism Projection's RevEAL line of LED lighting instruments.

For its studio coverage of the Alamo Bowl, Longhorn Network utilized Prism Projection’s RevEAL line of LED lighting instruments.

The network also covers the Alamo Bowl, which takes place at the Alamodome in San Antonio, and Olden was again playing a major role for the network in its coverage.

“During the Alamo Bowl, the Longhorn Network does pregame, postgame and halftime shows,” explains Longhorn Network Lighting Designer Walter Olden of Olden Lighting of Austin. Olden is also the Lighting Director of the groundbreaking PBS show “Austin City Limits” and has acted as lighting designer for a number of broadcast and cable shows during Austin’s SXSW Music Festival. Adding to his busy schedule, Olden has provided lighting design for nearly two dozen television news studios across the country. Olden Lighting provides lighting equipment and design services to customers around Austin and across the country.

Olden has made two visits to the Alamodome. “In an enclosed dome football situation, where we don’t have daylight coming in, we needed punch and color balance to get talent positions levels just right. We want to match the look of the stadium,” Olden explains.

To get that needed control and output, Olden and his team turned to Prism Projection its RevEAL line of LED lighting instruments including the Studio fresnel and Prism RevEAL Profile Junior ellipsoidal.  “With the RevEAL Studio fresnels we have the ability to adjust the color temperature, we have the ability to go between the cyan and magenta, while the plus and minus green on the light enables us to match the stadium lights with relative ease,” says Olden. The cyan/magenta correction also enables Olden to easily adjust skin tones, if required.

The Prism RevEAL Studio fresnel comes in three models: variable CCT 2700-6000K, 3000K tungsten and 5600K daylight. The units feature an adjustable 8 to 90 degree beam, smooth, continuous dimming, and has an output over 9700 lumens.

The Prism RevEAL Profile Junior ellipsoidal also comes in three models: variable CCT plus color, 3000K and 5600K. All of the units have a high CRI greater than 93 and feature advanced optics with a 100% blended source that is free of striation and separation. For his duties at the Longhorn Network, Olden is using variable CCT plus color RevEAL Profile Juniors and variable CCT RevEAL Studios.

Overall, control of the rig became much easier. Olden reports, “I was able to set up the console so that the plus and minus green for all the lights were on one submaster, and the color temperature for all the lights were on the other submaster.  Once I set that, I could go in individually and control the intensity and the zoom.”

For the 2013 Alamo Bowl, Olden used 9 RevEAL Studio fresnels and 4 RevEAL Profile Junior ellipsoidals on portable stands that were moved on and off the field as needed. Olden explains, “It was just two circuits of power and one control cable and that made it that much easier to maneuver everything.”  As for working with the lights on the field, Olden says, “The portability of the Prism units made it relatively easy and simple to touch up the lighting as I was going in case anything moved or changed.”

The RevEAL Studio fresnels are also a part of the lighting rig that Olden uses for the Longhorn home games at Texas Memorial Stadium; the setup includes a roof over a five person anchor desk with the stadium in the background. Originally, he started with an HMI rig, but they became problematic. One of Olden’s greatest concerns centered on the changing light conditions outdoors during the game. Initially, his solution was to gradually turn off his HMI’s as the lighting changed outdoors. He says, “When you’re dealing with HMI’s you don’t have the ability to dim those easily- some electronic ballasts allow you to do that and some don’t. Essentially, you have to turn off a couple of lights and then you have to turn off a couple more lights but it doesn’t create an even feel.”

In the second season of televised Longhorn Football, Olden acquired the RevEAL Studio fresnels from Prism Projection, and they’ve been a solution to many of the issues Olden was facing. “I can have between 2000 and 3000 footcandles on the stage, and with LED’s, it’s not nearly as hot as it was with the HMI’s.  The RevEAL Studio fresnels have also made a big difference in how much electricity we’re drawing, and overall, I have much more control over a variety of parameters,” Olden notes.

Color temperature is another issue that the Prism units solved for Olden and the Longhorn Network. Olden says, “As the HMI bulb ages, it changes color and three to four days later, something that’s been burning all day will not have same color temperature as it did a few days ago. When you use several different lights at a time, the different ages of the bulbs and the different condition of the bulbs will guarantee that you’re not going to have a perfect color match between the Kelvin temperatures or between the cyan/magenta mix.”

The Prism TrueSource technology- an integral part of the RevEAL Studio and the RevEAL Profile Junior ellipsoidal- addresses the wear of the LED’s. “The TrueSource technology checks to see if any of the LED’s are denigrating, and it compensates, so the color temperature and the color is consistent. Even though you might lose a little level, it’s going to keep those points accurate,” Olden notes.

Overall, Olden has been more than pleased with the addition of the RevEAL Studio fresnel and RevEAL Profile Junior ellipsoidal into his lighting repertoire for use with the Longhorn Network. He says, “The ability to be able to create color and zoom is a huge positive force in those lights. I’ve been very happy with what I’ve been able to do with them, and being able to control them with the light board has made a big difference to our production.”

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