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We are never short on ideas for “cool” projects to work on. Whether those ideas can actually pay the bills is another matter though. We were fortunate recently to work on a “real” project that is reminiscent of something we’d dream up.

Kaki King, a Brooklyn, NY based composer and musician, who is known for her adventurous guitar playing and experimentation with multimedia, works with Georgia Tech Arts regularly as a 2020-2021 Series Artist. While her mastery of the instrument has taken her around the world, like all other musicians, Covid-19 has put a stop to touring. But that doesn’t mean Kaki stopped creating; she chose to debut her new album “Modern Yesterdays” during a livestream performance from the prestigious Ferst Center for the Arts on the Tech campus in Atlanta. We were called in to produce the video production portion of the debut performance.

Since 2015, Kaki has shifted many of her live performances from purely playing the guitar to a multimedia experience with video being projected onto the body of her custom solid white Ovation acoustic guitar. The solid white guitar is striking unto itself, but then to see video projected onto it really does create a new and different experience that was awesome to witness. And not to mention, Kaki and her team have been in a constant state of innovation as they have developed a VR hack that allows her to play the guitar normally rather than have it mounted motionless on a rack like in the first iteration of this idea.

Because of safety concerns in the world due to Coronavirus, the entire production was crafted with the idea of a small video crew in mind, but also to specifically highlight Kaki as an individual performer in a socially distant environment. We worked closely with the technical crew of the Ferst Center to make a lighting plan involving some already existing lights mounted on their grid in the ceiling as well as lights that we set up on the stage itself in order to have control over two different lighting “looks”. Many of the songs would have video being projected onto the white guitar with nothing else lit other than Kaki. There were four songs where she switched guitars to play another acoustic with a synthesizer module attached to the body which has allowed her a new range of capabilities as well as for re-imaging songs from her past. The instrument change dictated the lighting change.

Video and photography productions do not happen in a vacuum. Collaboration is key to making productions of any scale happen. By the Ferst Center having the foresight to start planning months ago, it allowed us all the time to work through lists of questions and figure out details that may seem small, but would have a bearing on how the video production went and therefore how the livestream debut would be received.

On October 24th, at 8pm Eastern, the countdown began on a live video stream from the Ferst Center for the Arts to viewers around the world who tuned in to witness the premiere of “Modern Yesterdays” and enjoy a live question and answer session with Kaki afterward. Her talent is true and her personality is one of warmth, honesty and creativity. And we are proud to have been part of sharing this new album with the world.

-Jon Milavec