USA – When show and video designers in the USA want to better understand the creative possibilities offered by Hippotizer Media Servers, or when technicians need training in the powerful configuration and playback toolkits, they will likely find themselves learning from a Hippotizer grandmaster – Rachael Cady.
A hard-working freelance lighting and projection designer, Rachael’s skills as designer, programmer and tech have enhanced a variety of show environments, from her first love, theater, to live events, concert touring, corporates and television. Each, she says, “provides a unique opportunity for creativity and problem solving.”
From her home in Kansas City, Missouri (“equally inconvenient from everywhere,” she quips) she not only works across the country and even internationally, but also finds the time to share with others her advanced knowledge and experience of her preferred media server platform.
“Hippotizer is my absolute first choice of media server, no matter what I am doing,” says Rachael. “It’s a Swiss Army Knife that can make a simple show look beautiful, or a complicated show execute easily. I can’t tell you how many times having a Hippo on my show saved time, money and made me, and the show, look really good.”
Rachael’s trajectory began in elementary school, where she first felt “the performance bug”. Through Junior High the bug matured into a fascination with lighting and sound technology; by College, Rachael had realised that her future lay backstage. “I realized I was not an actor at all, but a technician with the desire to design,” she recalls. “My mentor Ken Stofferahn fostered that desire and started me down the road to becoming a lighting designer. Years later, at grad school, my mentor Victor En Yu Tan taught me to think like an artist and not a technician. For me, that was the final piece of the puzzle to becoming a designer.”
Then, like so many accomplished people before and since, Rachael ventured outside of her comfort zone. “I was working on a show that needed an animated sequence,” she recalls. “I volunteered to design it, not knowing how to. I figured it out and I’ve been learning all I can about video and media servers ever since.”
Perhaps inevitably, her path led her to Nigel Sadler, who introduced her to Hippotizer. “In 2005, I was working on a big juke box musical and needed a more sophisticated server to deliver video and stills than what I’d been using. Nigel allowed me to use what was Version 2 of Hippotizer, and I was hooked!”
Rachael’s career grew along with Hippotizer’s tools and capabilities – at times even directly driving their development. She recalls programming for the musical American Idiot. “In sheer size, it was a huge challenge,” she says. “We had 44 televisions and four projectors – three in a blend and one as an effect. Each television was discrete and could show different content. I was so fortunate to have Nigel come out and create specific tools to allow me to manage that amount of control in an efficient way. So many new things were added to the software, and the show demanded precision in execution and timely programming. Because of the Hippotizer and the support they gave me, I was able to program the show to help make Darrel Maloney’s design a huge success.”
Rachael’s resumé includes designing projection for countless theatre productions at home and abroad, while as an in-demand programmer and service technician she has worked on projects including Fox Network’s TV talent show The Four, and tours with Jennifer Lopez and Jason Aldean. Her own versatility, as a designer and highly skilled technician, and in such a variety of show environments, keeps her both busy and engaged.
She says, “There are theatres that only know me as a lighting designer, and some places that only know me as a Hippo tech and programmer. To some, I design lights and video, to others I’m a Hippotizer timeline specialist, or a server tech that can engineer, design and hook-up complicated video systems. I like to think of myself as a great team member, collaborator and insurance policy – that your show will be successful if I’m on the job!”
The Hippo bond has strengthened to the point where Rachael is, today, the lead Hippotizer trainer in North America. It’s a role she enjoys enormously, whether teaching at Green Hippo’s California office or directly at clients own premises. “My favorite thing is what I call the ‘lightbulb moments’ that students have. Sometimes it’s a technique or component that I just taught, that they realize they can apply to a real world job, or would have made a previous job so much easier. Or sometimes they’ll exclaim, ‘I had no idea it could do all this!’ Those moments, where they are so excited to get out and use a Hippo on one of their projects, are priceless.”
Asked why she has been part of the Green Hippo family for so long, she says, “The people are some of the best in the business. I’m in awe of the brain power, kindness, creativity and support the company provides, no matter what size your show is. Thanks to Nigel Sadler for introducing me and helping my career in so many ways; Simon Harris, who although no longer with the company first trained me and recruited me to be a training specialist, and Mercedes Stevão Boase, who has always been in my corner and makes sure I have what I need.
“Finally, a thank you to Margaret, my partner of 15 years who keeps the home fires burning for me and takes care of our three puppies when I’m out running around the world doing what I love. It’s always nice to get back home!”
Image Caption: Rachael Cady presenting Hippo School.
Images: © Green Hippo