Meet Light and Video Programmer & Operator Tero Kärpijoki
Creative Technology Finland’s Light and Video Programmer and Operator Tero Kärpijoki works behind the scenes of many known tv-shows, concerts and events. Kärpijoki has been working amongst event technology for almost two decades, starting already at 17 years old. In addition to light- and video programming and -operating, he also does technical drawings and is involved in lighting design and development.
How did you first end up in the event industry?
My first event job was at the music festival Ruisrock in 2004. I was 17 at the time.
I ended up in the industry during that Ruisrock job, when my uncle got me a summer job on the stage construction team of the festival. At young age, it was great to get to festivals through work, travel, meet new people, see new places and experience that famous rock ‘n’ roll glamor. The job has always felt rewarding as I’ve been able to constantly learn new things and advance in my career. That’s why I am still in the industry, almost 20 years later.
When and how did you start at CT Finland?
I worked for Bright (now CT Finland) as a freelancer from the very beginning of my career. In 2012 I was working as a lighting system technician on The Voice of Finland tv-program and there I met Eero Helle, who was working there as a lighting operator at the time. Me and Eero got along well, and when he started to work for Bright as “Head of Light” in 2015, I also had the opportunity to work full time and seize the opportunity.
What do you do at CT Finland?
I work mainly as a light- and video-operator and -programmer, and I also make technical drawings and lighting design for concerts. In recent years, I have mainly done television shows as well as arena-sized concerts. I am also involved in the development of the lighting department.
What has been the most unforgettable production that you have worked with?
It is difficult to name one production or project, as most of the events and concerts are unforgettable to me, for better or worse. Dancing With the Stars Finland (Tanssii Tähtien Kanssa) is one production that has been very memorable for me. I have been involved in the tv-show production for 5 seasons as a light and video operator each year since 2017. I always enjoy working with the production, as I get to use my visual and technical skills in a variety of ways. Each weeks’ work effort culminates every Sunday to the live tv-show 13 weeks straight.
What do your workdays look like?
My workdays are roughly divided into pre-working days and event working days. Preliminary work is done in the office or studio and includes, for example, production planning and pre-programming of lights. Event days are often long and they vary a lot, for example it’s a lot different to be working in a TV shows’ production compared to a rock concert. In a live concert, the visuals are done to the audience on site, while the filming of the TV show focuses only on the outgoing TV broadcast and everything else around it is secondary.
What do you enjoy the most in your work?
The best thing about my job is of course getting to work in the events and concerts, seeing the final result and thereby producing experiences for the audience. I especially like the possible challenges of the projects and that’s when I feel like I’m at my best. Coworkers are also important to me. Many of them have become very close friends to me outside of work as well.
What’s the most challenging thing in working with event tech?
The most challenging thing is to reconcile work and leisure. In many cases, the working days can last until the late hours, which can bring challenges to the family’s daily life. Event schedules are often tight, so the pressure can be high, and you have to be ready to work with sudden changes of the program.
How has the business changed during your working years?
The event industry has become very much more professional. The industry was once considered more as a hobby, but gladly today it’s seen as a real profession amongst others. The work requires a great deal of technical expertise and understanding of the equipment. The equipment and softwares are developing all the time, so know-how needs to be maintained in many areas. It has been great to see how the level of expertise in Finland has developed to be world-class.
How do you see the future of events?
On a general level, I see a bright future. Today, productions and artists are clearly investing more in their events, also in terms of technology and especially visual design, and they want to offer their audience a holistic experience. It will be interesting to see how events can still grow and change. I look forward to getting back to normal in the event industry and getting the live audiences back to the events and concerts.
What keeps you busy when you are not working?
I love spending time with my family. I have a wife, a 2-year-old daughter and another child coming in late spring. As well as enjoying the everyday life at home, we also like to have fun and travel. Especially Lapland is one my favorite travel destinations. I enjoy snowboarding, mountain biking, skiing and hiking, not forgetting spending time with my friends.
Photo credit 1: Mikko Linnavuori
Photo credit 2-3: Henri Juvonen