Not everyone is as lucky as Gaspar Potocnik, who stumbled upon his passion as a teenager while working backstage at his high school play.
“I started just being backstage, helping with whatever I could,” he recalls, but his focus soon narrowed to one theater element in particular. “Once I realized there was lighting, and you could do stuff with it — you could make different moods, decide what people were seeing — that was when I started getting more interested in lighting.”
This passion for lighting has stayed with him throughout his career, and he is now owner and partner of lighting design company Cueuno with designer Juan I. Monserrat. “What I like is that I don’t do the same thing all the time,” he says. “I’m constantly doing different stuff.”
He’s lit up concerts, events, and theater productions around the world. His recent work includes the lighting design for MP Producciones’ “Peter Pan,” directed by Ariel del Mastro and performed at Gran Rex, as well as Soy Luna Live, the concert tour for Disney’s popular “Soy Luna” television series, which toured through South America earlier this year in venues that sat 5,000+ parents and children.
A ‘Soy Luna Live’ performance. Image courtesy of Pocho Poncyk.
When starting a design, Gaspar is a firm believer that inspiration is something that comes from living life. “For me, at least, it’s not like I start thinking of the design the moment I have a meeting, I’m always thinking of that,” he says. “If I’m out camping, and I see something I like…I try to keep that in my mind and use it afterwards in some design.”
For instance, when designing the lighting for “Peter Pan” he set about recreating light patterns like what he’d seen in nature. “I tried to use the light you see in a forest, where you have all the leaves and all the trees, which make little light beams,” he explained. The result was a realistic, yet magical light source for the wooded scenes.
Gaspar lights up the pirates of “Peter Pan.” Image courtesy of Pocho Poncyk.
Of course, creating a design isn’t always about inspiration. When he designed the lighting for Soy Luna Live, Gaspar faced multiple challenges, such as balancing lighting for set pieces on stage with the lighting for the show, and combating brightness from the LED screens. One of the biggest road blocks he faced was how the miles between venues would affect the end results. “When you’re hopping two-thousand mile stretches, there’s no way you can take all your gear.”
To give every attendee the same experience, he had to plan his design around the gear that would be accessible. “For me this is the most important part,” said Gaspar. “Whoever paid for a ticket in Argentina, or in Chile, or in Mexico, they all paid for the ticket, and they all want to see the same show.”
After receiving the renders and drawings from the set designer, he got to work, using Vectorworks Spotlight and Vectorworks’ previsualization software, Vision, to begin planning his design. “I used Spotlight a lot to understand where the light was going to be able to be placed and what fixtures I could use to light all these set pieces,” he explained “I also used Vision quite a lot for that because for all these set pieces we ended up using LED moving lights, so we wanted to see if what was going to work, or not going to work, and try a couple of different things.”
Both the director and set designer for Soy Luna Live are also lightning designers, which simplified collaboration.
Working with other lighting designers is nothing new to Gaspar, who was hired by Buenos Aires Live Show to set up the previsualization studio for Lollapalooza Argentina 2017. The studio let the designer of the show, Juan Manuel Patane, program on location, and Gaspar used his Vision expertise to ensure he had the best experience possible.
“Whatever I’m doing, I’m not doing for me, so I try to get the Vision files as accurate as possible,” he explained. “I want to give whomever’s going to go into the suite and program the most real scenario as possible, so he or she can use it, and it can really help them deliver the program.”
With over eight years of experience working with the software, Gaspar is an expert when it comes to saving time and keeping projects running smoothly with Vision. “I use [Vision] a lot to try things before I deliver my final plots. It’s like the last chance I have to try things out and see if whatever I’m creating is going to work or not,” he says. “For sure, I gain some time with that."
Otherwise, he says, “once you’re loaded in and start changing things, people start hating you.”
There’s not a lot of hate in Gaspar’s world, though. He loves what he does, and says when he cues a show for the first time and starts to see the lights in action, he always gets goosebumps.