True variety shows have all but disappeared from American television, but if
anyone can revive the genre it’s Neil Patrick Harris who headlined the eight-episode
“Best Time Ever’ live variety series on NBC. Lighting designer Matt Ford of Magic
Lantern Creations in Woodland Hills, California selected Clay Paky Mythos fixtures
for the rig.

Featuring live performances, mini game show segments, sing-a-longs and pre-
recorded pranks, “Best Time Ever’ scored with audiences eager for a different kind
of entertainment.

“It was incredibly important to have a rig that was extremely flexible because it
was a live variety show,’ Ford explains. “On most reality competition shows there
is a lot more predictability, but “Best Time Ever’ had a lot of unknown variables that
you had to adjust to on the fly. We had to react to whatever was thrown at us.
Most of the acts were new, things were shot from many different angles and one
time we had to reblock a couch segment, featuring celebrities and audience guests,
during a commercial. We had to have the tools up in the air to react to a constantly
evolving situation.’

Ford says the production design resembled an awards show set with a main area at
center stage and performance areas at stage left and stage right. “You could have
something going on in the center while we prelit something else on another stage,’
he notes. “The ability to set up different things while something else was going on
was key for a live show.’

Ford obtained about 40 Clay Paky Mythos fixtures from PRG. “Mythos are not a
one-trick pony; they offer the best of all worlds,’ he says. “We could get Sharpy
beam effects, big fat gobo effects and a great fill light, all from Mythos.’

Lighting director Craig Casserta, who also programmed “Best Time Ever,’ calls
Mythos “the workhorse of the show. Beams, aerial effects, washes, eye candy –
they could do anything that was needed. I don’t know any other hard-edge spot
fixture that can be used for so many things. It was great for a show with this
variety and randomness of content.’

Ford mounted Mythos overhead in the rig for Sharpy-style beam effects and gobo
effects. “We also had them on the floor for ballyhoos and animated gobo effects
during bumpers,’ he says. “We even used them as fill lights for a lot of on-stage
interviews when the lights overhead were too steep.’

Ford was especially pleased with the fixtures’ color temperature. “The ability to dial
it in was really fantastic,’ he says. “I could sit there with my color meter and dial
in just the right color temperature depending on what else was happening lighting-
wise. I was really impressed with all that Mythos could do. Clay Paky is a true

A.C.T Lighting is the exclusive North American distributor for Clay Paky.