Meet the Lighting Desinger: Bas Kemper
Having worked his way up from the bottom of the ladder, Dutch LD Bas Kemper has established a solid reputation as a creative Lighting Designer specializing in dance festivals. He is responsible for the stage and lighting design at the annual Transmission event that takes place at the O2 Arena in Prague each fall – and has recently expanded to Australia and Thailand – while also working on a variety of other projects of varying sizes. His most recent assignment was designing and programming an epic lighting display for ADJ that stole the show at the recent Prolight + Sound trade show in Frankfurt, Germany.
Born in the small city Luttenberg, and now living in Zwolle Netherlands, Bas started his career in the production industry at the age of 20. Initially working as a member of festival site crew, his job was to load and unload trucks with a forklift and generally help with moving and lifting. During the following years he gained experience working in a variety of different disciplines, all related to event production, before settling on a career in lighting. “I’d seen a lot of shows and sometimes the lighting sucked”, he joked, “I thought I could do it better! I decided that I wanted to start working on the creative side of events.”
To get started, Bas began to volunteer at Hedon, the local concert venue in Zwolle. He helped out the technical crew and quickly learnt the basics of stage lighting. Soon he managed to pick up work with stage companies and theatres, where he was able to expand his technical knowledge and experience on the job. This eventually led to touring, festivals, and theatre productions, as well as work in clubs, at motor shows, and for corporate events.
Initially working as a Lighting Tech and Operator, eventually Bas was able to flex his creative muscles by taking on design duties. A big break came when he had the chance to work on one of the early Transmission trance events in Prague. Since then he has remained part of the team as the event has grown and for the past couple of years had been responsible for the stage and lighting design for what are now huge arena shows.
“The best moment for me, as a Lighting Operator, is when I’m able to wake up a crowd by putting on the blinders for the first time during a show. I get goosebumps when I see 40,000 hands going into the air because I pushed one tiny button!” - Bas Kemper
“It is definitely one of the biggest events I work on during the year,” Bas told us. “It started small and most of the people I work with on Transmission nowadays also worked on the event 10 years ago. Dedication is something what’s difficult to find these days, but is very important for building a career in this industry. Transmission has recently expanded from Prague to Melbourne and we also just did a show in Bangkok. It looks like in 2018 Transmission will go to America and China. That’s s a great success for the whole team.”
In addition to his practical work, Bas also spent four years teaching Theatrical Lighting. Nowadays he spends much of his time creating event concepts and lightshow designs, but he also still often finds the time to work as a Lighting Operator and Site Producer on big events both locally and nationally.
“The best moment for me, as a Lighting Operator,” he enthused, “is when I’m able to wake up a crowd by putting on the blinders for the first time during a show. With lights you can make the connection between the artist, the show, and the crowd bigger and more intense. I get goosebumps when I see 40,000 hands going into the air because I pushed one tiny button!”
Although the thrill of being connected with a crowd actually at an event is something that Bas clearly loves, it is the creative side of lighting where his true passion lies. “I like seeing ideas coming to life from concept to reality,” he explains. “It doesn’t matter if the design is for a wedding party or a big dance event, or if I need 2 rope lights or 200 movers, as long as the design fits its purpose. A good design also gives the different disciplines involved the freedom and opportunity to do what they are good at. Seeking for the right balance between show, decor, crowd, and artists is something I like… it’s almost like an addiction!”
As with any profession, becoming a successful Lighting Designer not only requires technical knowledge and creativity but also good contacts. Bas worked with Steven Samaan on a big Hardcore Festival a few years ago, where Steven was in charge of the sound and Bas created the lightshow. Steven, who now works for ADJ, remembered the great work that Bas did on that show, which made him first choice when he was looking for an LD for ADJ’s Prolight+Sound exhibition stand.
Bas’s task for the trade show was to design and program a lighting rig that demonstrated the capabilities of ADJ’s latest range of professional lighting fixtures. This was a challenge that he was very quick to accept. “When you like design, and you like lights, what’s better than designing a show like this,” he enthused. “Normally, it’s all about the performer – it’s important that the lights aren’t distracting and you often have to keep your fixtures out of sight. But, in this case, it was different – the lights were the stars of the show!”
Using more than 200 fixtures, Bas created a jaw-dropping show that gathered a big crowd every time it ran – 15 times on each of the four days of the trade show. Programmed to an intense and atmospheric soundtrack – which incorporated elements of dubstep, drum ‘n’ bass, blues, and hard rock – the 5 minute lightshow highlighted the immense potential of ADJ’s range of moving head, par, effect, and video panel products.
Having only had limited experience with the ADJ fixtures prior to the show, becuase they were brand new, we were pleased to hear that Bas was extremely impressed by the equipment he had to work with. “I’ve done some festivals where ADJ equipment was provided by the rental company but, overall, I haven’t seen it a lot on the events I work. But the brand is clearly growing, and I’m sure I will see it much more often in the future. I had no problems with the fixtures during the build and programming of the Prolight+Sound show and when I called Steven on the Friday after the exhibition closed he confirmed that the show ran without a hitch every time. No spares needed, no resets, everything worked as it should, without any technical issues.”
As a relative newcomer to the ADJ range, we were interested to find out what Bas thought of the specific fixtures used for the show. “Overall, I was impressed by the focus, prism, and colors of the LED fixtures and movers. Especially the Vizi BSW 300, but also the Vizi Beam RXONE and 5RX. How do you get so much in such a small housing? One of my favorite products was the COB Cannon Wash. I would happily change all the blinders and LED strobes in my designs to this fixture; the punch and colors are great. I was also impressed by the 7PZ IP. Because it’s new, so I didn’t know what to expect, I put it a little bit towards the back in terms of my design. But afterwards I thought that I should have put it front and center. It really stands out from other LED pars, offering more output and a good fast zoom. Last, but not least, I think the Ninja and the Crazy 8 nailed it. I really like effects like those. Both are not new, but they were to me. Put 10 of those units in a club and you could make a show like no other. It takes some time to program the effects right, but when you put in the time you can do really crazy stuff that’s not possible with any other fixture! Overall, when you look at lamp life, weight, size, optics, pricing, and reliability you really can’t do better than ADJ anymore.”
Here at ADJ we’re very grateful to Bas for creating a lightshow that did an amazing job of showcasing our range of professional lighting fixtures. We’re also pleased to hear that he was so impressed with how well they performed. We wish him the best of luck as his career continues to develop but, with a creative flair and work ethic like his, we know he won’t need it!
For more information on Bas Kemper, or to connect with him on social media, follow the links below.
Web Site: www.multibas.nl
Check out Bas Kemper's lighting design of the ADJ Lighting booth at Prolight + Sound 2017 in Frankfurt, Germany:
Learn more about ADJ Lighting at the Prolight + Sound 2017 show in Frankfurt: CLICK HERE