Horacio Efrón interview


Horacio Efrón

Since 2001 he has been working with designer Pablo Hernando, at Estudio del Altillo, designing, advising, directing and producing lighting and multimedia projects. As expressed in his CV, the studio is the first in Argentina to use proprietary digital tools for everything related to the production of lighting projects, videos and set design.
With a career of 30 years, Horacio has worked in various parts of the world and with a variety of performances ranging from Opera to the world of Rock festivals. During his work as Director of Technical Production of Teatro Argentino de La Plata, he was in charge of many classic performances. As a designer he worked on Carmen, Fausto, Rigoletto, Tosca, to name just a few.
Turning to the world of Rock, he has worked with Charly García, and on great festivals like Pepsi Music, Quilmes Rock, Personal Fest, BUE Festival, among many others.
Other highlights include producing lighting for DVDs with The Police, Rolling Stones and AC/DC in Argentina.

These are the answers Horacio kindly gave me, in the middle of his busy work schedule.

ZioGiorgio.es: How did you get started in the world of lighting?
Horacio Efrón: It was pure coincidence, when my brother brought me to a rental company of equipment for entertainment lighting, where I came into contact with lights and shows, and I learned the way you could do at that time, with practical work and experience. Then, I started working in different companies and learned about other areas, such as assembly and directing. I also started to participate in the creative processes of the designers I worked with, making my own designs.


ZioGiorgio.es: How do you create a lighting design?
Horacio Efrón: It’s perhaps the most difficult question to answer. The way you create it it’s never the same, and the thing that you’re going to illuminate is never the same either.
Many times, in a show, it is the music and lyrics that lead me to think about the effects and climate that I consider as contributions to complement them; other times, seeing many projections in most shows, I can see that they provide a conceptual framework to the show, and the lights accompany this concept. I think about the lights from the projection point of view, with what I feel that these songs convey me, and the mood or feeling the artist desires or wishes to convey to the public.
In the case of theater, the scenic/aesthetic concept usually comes from the designer, who defines the space where the action will be developed and will be located. That leads you to accompany this concept, using the scenery and appreciate the space to enable the viewer to feel inside the story and that what it wants to convey will be received. These areas often involve working with projections or screens used in various ways, either as virtual scenery or other types of content, then you don’t just have video content alone, but a source of light too. And thinking about light is the way I find the ideas for each job.

ZioGiorgio.es: Do you use the work of other designers as references?
Horacio Efrón: Not particularly. I take a look at live shows, internet channel or DVDs because I like them, but I don’t take my concepts for shows from there. Everything we do always has something from other things that we have seen and done before.

ZioGiorgio.es: What are the challenges an illuminator has to face when working for TV and for a live show?
Horacio Efrón: I am an illuminator for live shows. I think the challenges are the same although with different languages. One is meant to be seen with the eyes directly, what the illuminator sees is what the public will see. In TV, you work for a camera that has certain characteristics. That image will be digitally processed with particular equipment and will be seen with different types of media, and not only the human eye. Surely what is seen on the set, live, will not be the same as what you see on TV. You can achieve the same thing but using different techniques, different lighting, filters, angles, etc.

ZioGiorgio.es: Do you work exclusively for an artist?
Horacio Efrón: No, exclusivity has never really interested me. I am interested in the diversity of ideas and diversity of scenic and/or aesthetic topics. This has allowed me to make designs for different artists in shows, opera, theater, festivals, etc., and this provides me with the knowledge and information from different angles for each show, knowing the different concepts used in each type of presentation.

ZioGiorgio.es: Given a new job, with someone you have not worked with before, how do you organize your work? Would you look at his previous presentations?
Horacio Efrón: I deal with it in the same way as with others who call me, although it is clear that with people I have worked with before I have another type of relationship other than professional, from understanding and prior knowledge. In this case, you have to listen and talk about what the artist is looking for; what she/he means and wants to convey with this show; what she/he likes or if she/he has a general idea of the light they want, etc.

ZioGiorgio.es: Do artists normally give you details about what they want to see in each part of the show?
Horacio Efrón: Some artists are more interested than others in the aesthetics of their shows, and their concerns depend on this. Many may say nothing and others give me a general idea about the show and what they would like, maybe they have seen some lights, some references, a color or particular effect, etc. Directors usually know what they want to see – in addition to scenography – then you design a lighting scheme with the tools that you think you will use.

ZioGiorgio.es: How long, on average, does it take you to produce a complete lighting design for a new show?
Horacio Efrón: In general, it doesn’t really depend on how long it takes me to make a design, it’s more the time I have available before the presentation calls me!

ZioGiorgio.es: What steps can be identified during the lighting project of a show?
Horacio Efrón: I would say that the first steps could be the meetings with the band, the music they play, rehearsals, and number of musicians or others involved; the other elements in the show, the meaning of the lyrics, what the artist or producer want, how big the show will be, both economically and production cachet.
Then, you have to keep listening to the music, the lyrics, the feeling it gives you and the lights you see for these songs. Then, it’s time to think about the devices, to prepare the plans and ideas, find the colors, the arrangement of the luminaires. I could say that after the approval or the final design, it is time to go back to the assembly drawings, and then go to pre-programming stage, thinking about each song with its own light; how it develops, how you record each cue, by using softwares that simulate stage and lighting. Then, you need to continue to study the music, rehearsals, then having assembly and programming in place. The last step would be the presentation of the band, and the tour.

ZioGiorgio.es: How do you adapt a lighting design during a tour according to the different points of the presentations?
Horacio Efrón: If you know your show, you know what things you need to carry it out, then you can make the right decisions about which things are essential and which are not, and decide with the producer and/or artist. If you have the information of the places before the show, you can decide what to do beforehand, otherwise, you’ll figure it out when you get to the venue or location. It is essential to know what you want.

ZioGiorgio.es: Are your designs fully programmed or do you leave room for improvisation?
Horacio Efrón: If I operate, I like to trigger things live, out of programming, improvising. A live band does not always play or sound the same, or interprets the same issues; and so the lights shouldn’t look the same. However, there are occasions where the room operator is responsible of lights operation so everything is programmed.

ZioGiorgio.es: During the show, do you keep in touch with someone from the artist’s production for possible changes, for example according to the mood of the public?
Horacio Efrón: It could be possible. In most cases, if you are in the FOH position about to operate, you feel what is happening with the audience, you see how many people are there, what kind of atmosphere there is, and you can decide about it. But the producer could also require some changes or specifics according to the audience.

ZioGiorgio.es: What consoles do you use in your work and why?
Horacio Efrón: I’m MA user. I like its setup, its accessible language, the ease and speed of programming and operating options and implementation, among many others. There are great consoles on the market today; some I have come across at festival or in theaters, and I’ve had very good results. I think the best console is that one we know how to use best.


ZioGiorgio.es: Are there any groups of lighting professionals in Argentina where professionals can meet to share experiences?
Horacio Efrón: There is a group but not specific for lighting issues. A Union was formed with different workers with similar concerns and issues. At this moment, there’s no Association of Lighting Designers.

ZioGiorgio.es: What advice can you give to someone who wants to become a lighting designer?
Horacio Efrón: I would tell them to learn about the tools that the market offers; discover what light can be obtained from each one and the best positions to use them from. They would also need to find out about the colors, related careers; see shows, movies, theater; look for work with other illuminators, and create their own designs and, of course, be a self-critic. Then, it’s a matter of thinking in light, have thoughts and ideas from light point of view, and developing the idea with everything they have learned using their own vision.


Imágenes tomadas de las Óperas Carmen, Tristan e Isolda y Macbeth. Equipo creativo compuesto por:
Regisseur: Marcelo Lombardero
Escenografia: Diego Siliano
Vestuario: Luciana Gutman


Fabio García
ZioGiorgio Network

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