A look into the life of a Lumen Being: Herbert Bernstädt talks about his path into the world of lighting technology

The fascination for light and lighting technology… we Lumen Beings know it only too well, don’t we? For some, it shows itself at an early age, and while some find a direct path into the world of lighting technology, others take a diversion or two. And so everyone writes their very own Lumen Being story. Our product and lighting specialist Herbert will certainly already be known to you from some previous lectures and other activities. How he found his way into the world of light – and what the pyramids of Giza have to do with it – you can find out in this short interview!

Cameo Light Herbert Bernstädt Brand Faces

How did you get into lighting?

Curiosity about how something works made me take apart various devices at a very early age. And since you didn’t have any money as a pupil, the first loudspeakers, amplifiers and light organs were built yourself from the chassis and circuit boards you could find in the rubbish – together with components from Conrad-Elektronik. So, I was soon the one in the class to bring my equipment to parties and to the theatre club. Unfortunately, at the time of the baby boomers, I was not lucky enough to get one of the coveted apprenticeships as a radio and television technician. So, I went on to school and then studied electrical engineering. And what do you need as a student? A part-time job, preferably at weekends and in the evenings. A small ad in the newspaper – that’s how I came to work as a technician for the Frankfurt Free Play in 1987. The plays of the Freie Schauspiel are life in close-up – attempts to understand and experience more of what it means to be human, to question and change one’s own life and social reality. Under the director and artistic director Reinhard Hinzpeter and stage designer Gerd Friedrich I learned about the effect of light and scenery as well as the timing with the way and rhythm of an actor and how to implement it. After graduating, now a qualified electrical engineer (FH), the question of conscience arose: do I go to Siemens or AEG as a faceless engineer in a sea of thousands, or do I remain loyal to the theatre, where I could experience emotions and humanity, and imitate them myself with the lighting design? We all know the answer. And in order to get a full-time position, I also took over the management of event technology at Saalbau GmbH with over 45 community centers. Here, all formats hit: from party conventions to museum bank festivals, swimming pool discos, carnivals, TV shows, music … which allowed me to get to know a wide range of technology and solutions. This was followed by the examination to become a lighting, theatre and stage master, then jobs as a lighting master, technical manager, development engineer for stage machinery and product manager in various companies and ultimately today at the Adam Hall Group with wonderful colleagues on a top-notch RnD team as a development engineer for Cameo fixtures.

In which subject areas are you a specialist?  Which area do you find most interesting, and why?

One of my strengths is communicating complex, technical issues in an understandable way and to introduce people to the fascinating lighting technology as a team leader or lecturer. Although I have my problems with spelling, I began working as a technical editor for the trade journal Production Partner in 1998 under the direction of Dr. Walter Wehrhan, where I play a leading role in the standardization of test and measurement criteria of professional lighting equipment. Out of necessity to be able to look up information on any “job site” without carrying boxes of paper, I created a website for myself in 2001 about event technology, (hbernstaedt.de) which was transferred to wiki.production-partner.de in 2018. Today, the wiki is established as an online reference work and as a training basis and is recommended by educational institutions.

At the moment, the LED is the current light source. How to equip a venue with it and which components interact and are controlled is an ever-increasing challenge. My aspiration is to use technology to create an environment that can be used to evoke feelings. Because feeling is life. Feelings arise from the information that our sense organs register. One of the most important sense organs is the eye. And all we can see is… light! Together with sound and stage design, profound emotions can be developed. If, even after the umpteenth performance, goose bumps rise, the audience is affectedly silent, so that you can hear a pin drop, they laugh, cry out or the odd tear flows, then we have reached the hearts and done everything right!

How did you come to give lectures on light?

The first request came during the play “Antigone”, which we performed in front of the pyramids of Giza in Egypt. We must have impressed the technicians on site as we worked with their materials, because as a result, the Goethe Institute organised a training course lasting several weeks with me as a lecturer in Alexandria and Cairo for the technical directors and their teams of the various venues on site. Back home, I received recommendations for training assignments for the preparation of master craftsmen exams at the Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the Society for the Promotion of Young Technical Professionals, as well as lectures on event technology topics at one theatre or another, the Media Academy, THF-Berlin, EVVC, DTHG, European Media and Event Academy, FH des Mittelstandes or the ARD and ZDF Media Academy. On the side, I also support the creation of standards such as IGVW SR2.0 or DIN Lighting and Power Distribution Systems.

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