Some of music’s biggest names – including Willie Nelson, the Foo Fighters, and Radiohead – have appeared on “Austin City Limits,” the music performance program that airs on PBS. Having debuted in 1974, it’s the longest running music series on television. In 2011, the show moved to a new home – the aptly-named Austin City Limits Live venue – and Full Sail Show Production grad Bryan Schrumpf became a part of the legendary series.
“[In 2011] I was on the road with Peter Frampton and one of the production managers got hired on as a consultant for the new ACL Live Venue, and he brought me on as Lighting Director,” says Bryan. “They were building this new studio for the show, but it was also going to function as a year-round venue. So I moved to Austin for the job.”
Bryan is at the venue for about three to four shows a week. The state-of-the-art, 2,750-seat ACL Live has a complete video production team in-house, so it’s a popular place for awards shows and artists looking to film live concert DVDs. The venue’s in-house company, Stageside Live, has a deal with CBS Interactive, so a lot of the concerts that are shown on CBS or U-Verse’s On Demand music channels are filmed here at ACL Live.
“We have a massive High End Systems lighting rig in house. It’s probably three times bigger than any other. We have 40 of their brand new moving lights and consoles,” says Bryan. “A lot of [the touring bands’] lighting directors are intimidated by it so they kind of let me take the reins. Or they’ll sit back and give me direction on what colors to use for certain songs. I get to be highly involved with a lot of the creativity of the show.”
While Bryan is the Lighting Director for the venue specifically, he also works on the lighting crew for the television show and has served as Lighting Director for a few tapings. “Austin City Limits” has an established look, with most artists performing behind the same Austin skyline backdrop on the a small wooden stage built for the tapings. Bryan’s biggest challenge is making sure that the lighting matches the energy of what’s happening in the room.
“You want to make sure the product being delivered to the TV is what the room is feeling, that you’re matching the energy of the room,” says Bryan. “You have to light the artists in positions that will look good on camera, it’s not always going to be straight on or symmetrical like it would be in most situations.”
The 39th season of “Austin City Limits” premieres this Saturday, October 5, on PBS with a performance from Juanes and Jesse y Joy. Other artists this season will include Phoenix, The Lumineers, and Vampire Weekend.