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Helping Al Jazeera Cover the Conventions

by Tony Zumbado

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. This summer, Al Jazeera English TV hired Zumbado Productions Inc. to provide technical field support for their political unit's live political panel discussions at the Democratic National Convention in Denver and the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn.

Our first challenge was at the Democratic affair. We were supposed to set up Al Jazeera's political team with four HD cameras, provide audio for four guests and a host and, of course, make it look good—that's when the fun started.


The scene at Angel's Sport Bar in Denver during Al Jazeera's Democratic National Convention coverage. I wasn't able to do my own site survey, so I relied on the location producer's scouting report. As you can imagine, the producer was very excited to inform me that they were able to find a location—Angel's Sports Bar, which has a great view of Invesco Field through its picture windows. There was only one problem—we were going to be back-lit all day. I made a phone call to Beth Nardin at K5600 (she's their Florida rep) and told her about our situation and that we were in dire need of some 800 W Joker HMI's. She put us in touch with K5600's Los Angeles operation and overnight we got our 800 Joker lights needed for the job.

We used five 800 Jokers for lighting the event, all with Chimeras on C-stands. We had the panel with guests set up in a semi-circle—four fixtures were aimed at the panel and one 800 Joker was raised on a C-stand to act as the key light, as well as to spill some soft light on the backs of the panel.

We could have chosen other types of lights, but when you're in a location, we've found that there is only one light that can handle the challenge. For me, that light is K5600's 800 Joker HMI. The versatility of the 800 Joker gives me the option of how best to apply the light to my set. You may think that five 800 W Jokers fired up in a small bar location would be hot, but that was not the case. No one complained about the room temperature (yes, the air conditioning was on). And I should mention that we didn't even blow a fuse—this is another reason that we used the 800 Jokers. They draw very little current and put out a big punch. I almost forgot to mention that we used the 800 Jokers throughout the entire day and night. When we lost the daylight from outside, we just backed off the 800 Jokers a foot or two. It looked like we had dimmed them.


At the end of the night, the Al Jazeera executive producer for the political team showed up to check out the set and told us that he was really impressed with the lighting. I replied that he could thank the "Joker" for that. The producer asked where he was, and I replied that he was lighting the whole room.

Next we were off to the Republican National Convention in St. Paul with our "Jokers," and grateful that I didn't have to make another last minute phone call.

Tony Zumbado has been a freelance director of photography for more than 30 years and is based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He may be contacted at

For additional information, contact K5600 at 818-762-5756 or visit