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Designer Profile: Billy Butchkavitz

In Lighting Design by images310 / May 15, 2017

Billy Butchkavitz

Original programming. High definition. Full color. Groundbreaking. All of this describes not only HBO, but the events that Billy Butchkavitz has been producing for the channel since 1994.

Now, with the design and production of his two final Game of Thrones premieres looming on the horizon, we thought this was a good time for a Designer Profile on Billy and look back at some of his epic event stories of light, pattern and color. And, total disclaimer — we are happy to say we’ve had a supporting role in many of them!

A wandering troubadour of design, Billy roams the globe and in his travels he soaks in the fabric (literally) of different cultures, bringing back memories of color and swatches of texture and patterns which he then translates into wildly Technicolor “stories” for those HBO events. But these stories weren’t always so epic.

“When I was first involved with HBO, there were no large-scale events,” Billy says. “They were usually held in a suite at a hotel. We grew together.” HBO’s Golden Globe after-awards events, which Billy designs each year, found a home poolside at the Beverly Hilton Hotel where they are held each January. In the early years, the Emmy events moved to Spago in Beverly Hills, expanding there until they spilled out onto the street in front, and the parking lot in back with tenting.  In 2003 HBO moved the events to a fully custom tent frame in the courtyard of the Pacific Design Center, and Billy’s canvas expanded in size, and in color.

“I’m all about color,” he says. “I love color and pattern. I usually start with two colors and add from there,” he says.

[Note: All photo information at end]

Billy Butchkavitz

BUILDING THE EVENT TEAM

His process begins with meeting with the same tight team of professionals he’s had on almost every project. For his tents and custom carpeting, he relies on Town & Country Event Rentals. Each year for the Emmy after-parties, he orders a 100-by-100-foor clear vinyl top and sidewalls in a new custom tint to complement his design as well as a carpet to match the texture he wants to highlight.

Texture is also a big part of the lighting design and we meet early on with Billy to discuss those design elements as well as venue logistics and time line.

“One thing that makes Billy’s productions the success they are is the level of organization and detail that goes into pre-planning,” says Images by Lighting’s Curt Stahl who has provided the lighting design at all of Billy’s HBO events. “He has a vision and understands the execution process on all levels from construction to rentals and decor. In our meetings Billy shares his vision through story boards, pictures and samples of materials that will be used such as metals, fabric and carpet. These are the tools we use to inspire our lighting design. It’s a great collaboration.”

Collaboration with his team and knowledge of the brand underlines Billy’s success. “HBO knows I understand what wants to achieve,” he says. “I present my designs in this light and get approval. I show them what I’m doing and there is trust. There is always a budget in place. It’s setup well in advance. I’m in it for the long haul, not to make all my money on one event. My goal is to make them happy.”

Billy Butchkavitz

FINDING THE IDEAL CLIENT

So how did he get such a dream client? “I was simply in the right place at the right time,” he says.

With a degree in broadcast journalism from Temple University’s School of Communications in Philadelphia, Billy headed to Hawaii for the waves and an internship at a local TV news station. The internship expanded into set design for local advertising campaigns along with stage design for hotels and resorts throughout the island.  “They kept asking me to do more and I kept saying yes,” he recalls. This eventually led to a job with a catering/event firm. “It happened fast,” he says. “My first breakout event was in honor of Prince Phillip. Between 1987 and 1993 I began doing corporate and society events. My first international event was in 1990 and in 1994 HBO and I met in Hawaii.”

“I just always want a look that no one else has,” he says. Certainly, that’s been the case with the premieres for Game of Thrones. While not as in-depth, they have been just as unique as the Emmy and Golden Globe after-parties.

In fact, one could say they have run from hot to cold. In 2015, Billy asked us to bring a hot, golden glow to the San Francisco City Hall Rotunda and then in 2016, we worked in all blues and white to design a freezing cold winter look at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Whatever he has planned for the premiere of Season 7 this year, you know it won’t be lukewarm!

Clearly, Billy Butchkavitz and HBO have a lot in common and understand what it takes to create something truly original — having a vision, and then committing fully to it.

Billy Butchkavitz

Billy Butchkavitz

Billy Butchkavitz

Billy Butchkavitz

Billy Butchkavitz

 

Photo Information [from top down]:

All photos by Gabor Ekecs

Game of Thrones Season Five Premiere, 2015
HBO Emmys After Party, 2015
HBO After Party Emmys, 2014
Game of Thrones Season Six Premiere, 2016
Game of Thrones Season Six Premiere, 2016
Game of Thrones Season Six Premiere. 2016
HBO After-Party Golden Globes, 2016
HBO After Party Emmys, 2013
HBO After-Party Emmys, 2016

Los Angeles Event Lighting: HBO’s The Leftovers

In Lighting Design by images310 / April 20, 2017

Los angeles event lighting

Designer Billy Butchkavitz gave away no clues of how the final season of HBO’s mysterious “The Leftovers” would play out. While the show grapples with how and why two percent of the population suddenly goes missing, there was no shortage of guests at this Los Angeles event, and nothing was leftover in the simple design Billy created in the main theater of the Avalon Nightclub. Our style of Los Angeles event lighting included pinspots, textured projections and ambient washes, as well as the red carpet lighting.

Los Angeles event lighting

Los Angeles event lighting

Los Angeles event lighting

Los Angeles event lighting

Los Angeles event lighting

Los Angeles event lighting

Designer: Billy Butchkavitz | Venue: The Avalon Nightclub Hollywood | Lighting: Images By Lighting | Rentals: Town and Country Event Rentals | Photos: Gabor Ekecs

 

FIDM 2017: Runway Lighting

In Lighting Design by images310 / April 10, 2017

runway lighting

The runway lighting that powers the Fashion Institute of Design (FIDM) Debut each year boasts some impressive statistics … three multi-media runway shows over the course of two nights, 3,000 students from around the country brought in for each show, and a massive cast of models, dancers and talent, guided by fashion designer, and FIDM alum, Nick Verreos. The lighting it takes also boast impressive stats … 450 feet of truss, 230 conventional lights, 30 intelligent lights, 30 LEDS, 96 channels of changes. Add to this, a changeover on Saturday for a gala event that night … tables take the place of the theater seats and a seated dinner and yet another fashion show takes place.

For the five-day installation and set up, every March for the past 13 years, our lighting designer, Ray Thompson, and the team of Images by Lighting have taken up residence for the week of FIDM at Barker Hangar in Santa Monica to make this all happen.

On Monday, the truss is installed. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the lights are blocked and focused and there is a dry run of the show. Thursday is the dress rehearsal with the first show at 5:30. Friday night there are two shows and on Saturday, the sit-down gala event.

FIDM Debut is divided into segments each with its own graphic design look and lighting design. After an opening performance, the first fashion design section is called Chairing Styles, a creative collaboration between students in three FIDM majors — Textile Design, Fashion Design and Interior Design. Next, collections from graduating students from FIDM’s Theatre Costume Design Program debut against a backdrop of rock ‘n’ roll. The runway show ends with the collections of the top graduating students; a debut show of graduating students from FIDM’s Advanced Studio Fashion Design Program. From a line of children’s wear and resort and men’s wear, the lighting and graphics  reflect each designer’s color palette, personality and inspiration.

We love doing this show as it’s always about more than runway lighting – the FIDM Debut sheds light on the energy, wonder and excitement of a creative profession and the future of the young attendees.

runway lighting

runway lighting

runway lighting

ruwway lighting

runway lighting

runway lighting

runway lightingThe team with Nick Verreos

runway lightingRay calling the show

Lighting a Surprise Wedding

In Lighting Design by images310 / April 10, 2017

surprise wedding

This couple cleverly staged a surprise wedding on the rooftop of the London Hotel in West Hollywood. Event planner International Events Company helped lay the groundwork and the couple had even arranged for clothes from their wedding party who one by one were let in on the surprise. But when Jasmine – clad in a stunning fitted ivory trumpet gown – began her descent down the aisle to meet Alyssa – wearing an ethereal white fit-and-flare dress and a bridal cape – the gig was up.

Marks Garden had created a stunning tunnel of blush roses leading the way to the rooftop ceremony where the brides exchanged vows beneath an exquisite floral structure. The circular structure was placed in the center of the ceremony design so guests could enjoy the view of the nuptials from any seat on the rooftop. Guests were then escorted inside for cocktail hour while the rooftop was transformed into a gorgeous reception full of romantic details.

Revelry Event Designers‘ elegant mirrored table tops boasted beautiful place settings, tons of candlelight in glass votives, and magnificent centerpieces of ivory and blush florals. Rose gold chairs complemented and completed the romantic ambiance of the heavenly celebration under the stars.

Like the surprise wedding plans themselves, our lighting remained on the DL until the last minute. Throughout the proceedings, we kept the lights soft on the delicate floral, and shone all the light on the couple. It wasn’t until the sun went down that the lighting on the tabletops and hedges came up, bringing the dining area into focus on this evening of surprise love.

Featured in Inside Weddings

event lighting los angeles

event lighting los angeles

Team: Planner: International Event Company | Venue: The London West Hollywood | Lighting: Images by Lighting | Flowers: Marks Garden | Tabletop rentals: Town and Country Event Rentals | Decor: Revelry Event Design | Napkins/Linen: Wildflower linen | Cake: Michelle’s Bakery | Photo: Simone van Kempen

Adobe Max Bash: Event Lighting

In Lighting Design by images310 / March 22, 2017

event lighting

Event lighting for the MAX Bash, held during the annual Adobe MAX Creativity Conference was as varied as the art and performances that event producer and designer SO Events had assembled. Held at Embarcadero Park Marina Park in San Diego and attended by 10,000 people, the event space itself was massive, enabling us to define the experience in each designated area through lighting design.

The objective of the event was to create an art and music festival along the lines of such famous festivals as Burning Man and Coachella. Each year, Mistyka Garcia, owner of SO Events, sources new and unique art and performers for the evening from around the world. We then worked with her ideas to create the lighting design for the entire space as well as the various areas. This entailed many different types of lighting — projections for textured and layered design, stringer lights for the lounge and picnic areas, and ambient, conventional, and LEDs overall; each created a different emotional feeling. So as attendees walked through the party, the lighting, and the art, changed their mood and experience.

This year, there were many beautiful pieces of art but one of the major ones was the world debut of sculpture Janet Echelman called 1.8. Made of wires that are braided, and knotted together, it was a soft sculpture so it flexes with the wind and weather. As night falls, the piece pulses alive with projected colored light. Other pieces included a fireball tree, a living Van Gogh painting, an artist’s surfboard lined entrance and a cotton candy tree in the middle of a conveyor belt dessert area. The size and scope of this event gave the team room to spread out and expand upon some beautiful design concepts — we were truly working at our very MAX!

The team:
Event Planner and Designer: SO Events
Lighting: Images by Lighting
Sculpture: Janet Echelman
Photo: Kevin Weinstein

 

event lighting

adobe lighting

adobe lighting

adobe lighting

adobe lighting

Adobe max lighting

International Event Lighting: The French Connection

In Lighting Design by images310 / February 28, 2017

international event lightingOur most recent foray into international event lighting began at the Yacht Club de Monaco. After an initial site visit with Los Angeles event producer, SO EVENTS, we were back to produce a series of over-the-top parties for Magic Johnson and his wife, Cookie who were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary.

international event lighting

As the starting point for the celebrations, the yacht club’s upper deck offered the perfect place to view the sunset while modern white lounge furniture with gold accents set the tone. As the golden glow of sunset faded, it was replaced by pink lighting, the color palette of the evening.

international event lighting

After the cocktail hour, guests went one deck below to a dining area where unique circular tables were “lined” with a pave of flowers while candles placed in the center created a warm glow. Pinspots were strategically placed on a special lighting truss to add additional lighting to the inside of the tables. Other fixtures —  as well as equipment for the deck area projection — were hung on that truss as well as an existing shade structure. For dancing afterwards in the club, we installed LEDs and moving lights.

international event lighting

Mirrored tabletops and gold serving ware increased the wow factor during the evening. As the guests continued to enjoy the evening, we were already en route to the next destination in St. Tropez with the production team.

With three events over seven days, six of them were all production. It was a heavy schedule due to the travel between the first night in Monaco, the main event in St. Tropez and the final night in Antibes. “We had to always stay a day ahead of the parties and with the complexity of the events, this was a 24-hour non-stop installation,” lighting director Curt Stahl recalls.

international event lighting

The Images by Lighting team had preceded the guests’ arrival in St. Tropez by a day to install the entertainment stage for what was to be a magical main event. As the yacht with the guests pulled into the dock of St. Tropez, it created not only a dramatic entrance, but became part of the event’s perimeter. “We brought in special City Light LED wash fixtures to light the yachts in tones of blue,” Stahl says. “In fact, there were two parked on two sides of the event. We lit them in two tones – an uplighting and a cross wash from the sea wall on opposite side of the event and then up lit from below the yachts.”

international event lighting

The lighthouse on the dock was also used to dramatic effect. Video projections on it ranged from fire and water scenes.

international event lighting

The evening was very theatrical with multiple performances. Each set of entertainers featured choreographed lighting with hours of rehearsal time and lighting cues for each performer on par with Cirque du Soleil. We designed a concert lighting rig, with lighting from the top and bottom of that structure creating a variety of color blending in blue and magenta. The color palette underscored the vibe of the evening — sexy and magical with surreal moments, fantasy and glamor.

international event lighting

 

One of the many unique effects during this party was this giant helium ball. The patterns and textures were projected on it by our team and later, it floated over the crowd.  Certainly, this amazing evening had left everyone floating on air.

Our production team remained to the end of the event before heading off the next day for Antibes where the final night was being prepared.

international event lighting

international event lighting

At the well-known restaurant, Michelangelo’s, SO EVENTS had designed a vineyard setting under a clear top tent. Chandeliers and string lights were installed over guest tables set amid the “vines” for a truly romantic final moment for the couple and their guests. After dinner, they went inside the restaurant for a final night of dancing.

From sunset in Monaco, to a fantastical event in St. Tropez to an evening in a “vineyard” in Antibes, this team made sure that every detail was magic.

Producer: SO EVENTS
Photography: Kevin Weinstein
Lighting: Images by Lighting

Event Lighting Los Angeles: Big Little Lies

In Lighting Design by images310 / February 18, 2017

event lighting los angeles

The premiere of HBO’s new comedy-drama, Big Little Lies, evoked aspects of coastal Monterey, California, where the characters live, love and lie to one another. Designer Billy Butchkavitz transformed the hotel atrium, and event entrance, of the Hollywood Roosevelt into a tony backyard patio, event lighting Los Angeles style. We lit the shrubs and trees he brought in with shards of light to emulate sunlight through the trees and create a shady atmosphere with a leaf projection pattern. Inside the ballroom, the walls had been draped with golden sheer fabric. On the main wall, a bucolic scene shone through faux French windows, a projection by Bart Kresa Design. Centerpieces on the tables were comprised of beachy elements … beachy in more ways than one perhaps. The show, which stars Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman, who are also Executive Producers, is set to be the next Desperate Housewives. Good fun!

event lighting los angeles

event lighting los angeles

event ligting los angeles

event lighting los angeles

Photos: Gabor Ekecs

Event Lighting Los Angeles: SAG Awards

In Lighting Design by images310 / February 3, 2017

SAG Awards

People magazine and the Entertainment Industry Foundation once again hosted the Screen Actors Awards Gala, the official after-party immediately following the SAG Awards. This year, the event took place on the Shrine Auditorium stage.

Lisa Simpson Briel — special projects director for People, In Style and Entertainment Weekly — oversaw the event, working alongside longtime SAG Awards designer Tony Schubert from Event Eleven.

His inspiration for the Parisian street scene came from a recent visit to Paris for a fashion show. “It was this wonderful contrast of gray, moody wet streets with great fashion,” Schubert told BizBash in its feature story on the event. “Shards of white light caught in the haze of the night looked amazing. “

The street theme began in the long entrance way between the Shrine Expo and Auditorium. Lined with faux stone to resemble the street of Paris, facades of stores and bistros were lighting as if by street light; light that also illuminated posters and artwork along the way.

Inside, guests enjoyed the evening in a setting that was a plush re-imagining of a Paris park complete with lounge furniture instead of benches and chandeliers instead of street lamps. A park fountain and a custom curving marble bar were among two of the design details we focused our lighting on. In addition to the chandeliers, our lighting design included textured leafy patterns, facade lighting and yes, those shards of white light that had first inspired Schubert as he walked along the streets of Paris.

 

event ligting los angeles

event lighting los angeles

event lighting los angeles

event lighting los angeles

Design and Producer: Tony Schubert, Event Eleven| Venue: Shrine Auditorium | Flowers: Jeff Leatham | Rentals: Designer 8, Form Decor and Town and Country Event Rentals | Photography: Line 8 Photography

 

Hollywood Lighting Trends from the Golden Globes

In Lighting Design by images310 / January 18, 2017

Hollywood lighting trends

When it comes to wondering what the Hollywood lighting trends will be for the year to come, the Golden Globes are a good place to look for clues. As the first awards show of the Hollywood season, those clues offered this year would be calmer color palettes, modernistic overtones, and retro undertones. Here are two of the Golden Globes events at which we highlighted these possible 2017 trends as put forth by two groundbreaking designers.

HBO After Party
Sculpted Calm

A calmer color palette mixed with accents of metal sculpture could be found at HBO’s after party. Once again, HBO’s Cindy Tenner worked with longtime design partner Billy Butchkavitz on the event which took over the Beverly Hilton’s Aqua Star Pool and Circa 55 Restaurant and Trader Vic’s bar areas. Butchkavitz, known for his over-the-top and detail-rich designs, told BizBash.com that this year’s event was, “about as clean and minimalist as Billy Butchkavitz can get, which still means lots of vibrant patterns and textures but with a much calmer color palette.” That color palette included champagne, gray, khaki, and silver.

The centerpiece of the event design was a metal sculpture Butchkavitz titled the “Shimmering Pavilion” and floated in the Aqua Star Pool. Other floating decor pieces were installed in the exposed section of pool surrounding the pavilion. To enhance the pavilion and its shimmer, we surrounded it on two sides with 23 lekos and gobo rotators installed adjacent to the drape treatment. These added streaks of animated light making the pavilion a truly eye-catching design element.

This was the 11th year for this team to come together and as with other years, we worked with Bart Kresa who created the event’s animated 3-D projections, while we provided the ambient lighting, textured lighting projections overall and the perimeter lighting treatments. Special Event Contractors built the sub floors and pool installation, plus the party’s 24-foot high and 180-foot-long perimeter wall. Butchkavitz worked with his brother, Brian Butchkavitz, on the textiles, custom carpet, tabletop decor, custom furniture, and other details.

Photos: Gabor Ekecs

Hollywood lighting trends

hollywood lighting trends

Hollywood lighting trends

In Style + Warner Bros. After Party
Retro Techno

At the InStyle and Warner Bros. after-party, producer JOWY Productions worked with designer Thomas Ford of Tom Ford Designs. As with HBO’s event, the main event and structure of was installed over water; a tent that completely covered the hotel fountain transformed the area into what was billed as “Matrix Glam.” The color palette of peacock blue, plum, and fuchsia included design elements that combined modern technology with seventies’ retro opulence.

The chandelier, custom designed for the event from Ford’s vision, was inspired from the films Purple Rain and The Matrix. The 20-foot-wide metallic gold structure also included 500 feet of LED neon. To transform the entire environment around this centerpiece, we created a tech-inspired perimeter lighting treatment using backdrops with backlighted cutouts inspired by computer boards. The lighting here was sequenced to change color throughout the event … cool in the beginning and warmer as the event heated up.

Clearly, when it comes to Hollywood lighting trends for 2017, these two award after-parties offer several golden ideas!

Hollywood lighting trends

Hollywod lighting trends

Hollywood lighting trends

Hollywood lighting trends

Photo: Nicol Biesek for BizBash

 

 

Santa Monica Wedding On Reverie Gallery

In Lighting Design by images310 / January 18, 2017

Santa Monica wedding

“We were together, I forget the rest.” – Walt Whitman. This quote displayed on an oversized mirror at the reception could not have been more perfect for this Four Seasons wedding in Santa Monica. From start to finish there is a whole lot of love. Planned by Hilary Hamer Weddings and Events, there is an endless amount of classic meets glam and a day just dripping in gorgeous florals by Hidden Garden. Lauren dressed in Vera Wang with hair and makeup by Rachel Burney was an absolute vision next to her groom Travis who looked at her so adoringly. Guests danced the night away under some beautiful lighting by Images by Lighting first with a performance by Steve Tyrell, who happens to be a family friend and ending the night with the epic 10-piece band, Impluse with West Coast Music. Beautifully captured by Beautiful Day Photography.

This was the beginning of a blog on Reverie Gallery. We are honored to have been featured! See the entire story here.

Santa monica wedding

santa monica wedding