One of my favorite features of the Insights blog is our Innovator Spotlight, which invites readers to meet some of the incredible innovators who develop new products at HARMAN Professional Solutions. As Product Manager for Stage Lighting, Markus Klüsener embodies a bold passion for the artistry and technology that power Martin lighting fixtures, controllers and accessories. In recent years, he has had a major influence on the development of many of Martin’s leading fixtures, impacting the way audiences everywhere experience light.
Born in a small city in northwest Germany, Markus has lived most of his life in Hamburg, which he considers his home base and favorite city. For the past three years, however, he has resided in downtown Aarhus in Denmark, where Martin is headquartered.
Markus launched his career by working as a stagehand in the late 1990s. “I learned about the industry from the ground up—loading trucks and setting up lighting and sound equipment for smaller shows in Germany,” he said. He attended school to become a certified event engineer and worked for rental companies before earning a Master’s degree in event technology at DEAplus. After graduating, he spent a decade working as a freelance lighting technician, programmer and operator for shows and tours throughout Europe.
Eight years ago, he started working with HARMAN in Germany. “I kind of sneaked in as a freelance lighting console trainer for what was then the newly released Maxxyz series. In time, my role expanded to include leading Martin moving head demos. So, step-by-step, I grew into the team,” said Markus. “As the demand for training and demos increased, I was eventually offered a full-time job as Martin’s local Product and Application Specialist for Germany, Austria and Switzerland, which was fantastic!”
These days, Markus is charged with overseeing new fixtures from initial concept through development and into the marketplace. “In a nutshell, I’m the link between the market and customers and our development team,” he said. “I analyze market needs and trends and, based on my research, determine what fixtures we should develop and the types of features they should include.” He also decides when it’s time to discontinue products, which is, as he describes it, “a rather complex task.”
“Ever since I began working in this industry, I have used Martin products and liked them more than any other lights,” he said. “So, my currentrole, with all its responsibility, is kind of a dream come true. I could not be happier.”
One of Markus’s favorite stages of the development process is playing and experimenting with prototypes and products that are only partially complete. “Many of the world’s greatest inventions have happened by accident and, at HARMAN, our engineers often make unexpected discoveries during development,” he said. “Certain technologies, like the backlight LED array in the MAC Aura, really came alive by playing with it and realizing its full potential. We came across results that were interesting and new, so I asked the engineers if they could be made controllable, and we turned them into features.”
Markus began participating in product development while working with Martin’s MAC Viper. When he was promoted to his current position,he took over the expansion of the MAC Quantum family of fixtures. He was responsible for guiding the MAC Aura XB LED wash light and oversaw the new Atomic 3000 LED strobe light from initial product idea and feature specification through the development process.
With the Atomic 3000 LED, Markus’s goal was to take an iconic product, like the original Atomic 3000 DMX strobe, and redesign it, using LED technology. “It’s rare that a product can be an industry benchmark for 15 years, but that was the case with the Atomic 3000 DMX,” he said. “Eventually, though, like our competitors, we realized that LEDs could be used to make a similar kind of product. Making an LED version of the old Atomic was not enough, though. It needed to be more,” he said.
“This was accomplished in two ways: by using cutting edge LED technology that resulted in a light output level that is three times higher than our competitors’ products and, very importantly, by integrating the MAC Aura backlight into the fixture,” he said. “So, rather than the Atomic 3000 LED simply being a strobe that turns on and off and just sits there for 95 percent of a show, the backlight allows it to function as a creative tool. Our red, green and blue LEDs can colorize it in any fashion, providing the lighting designer with the ability to have the fixture stand out and add something to the stage. At Martin, we always try to offer our users this kind of versatility and provide that extra hook.”
Asked about a product he has worked on and is particularly partial to, Markus said, “My favorite is always the one that is currently in development! To me, each is like a baby that I raise from birth into its teenage years before releasing it into the world.”
When not working on lighting, which is, as he explains, “Rare these days,” Markus appreciates what little quiet time he can find to relax athome. “While I love my job, there is not much spare time for other things! Sometimes, I am described as an old school analog guy and, if there is an opportunity, I like to play with things other than technology,” he said. “That is, apart from fixing my 20-year-old Volvo! Sports wise, I really enjoy snowboarding, but unfortunately, don´t go as often as I would like, because there are no real mountains in Denmark. I also really like watching Formula One racing and baseball.”
HARMAN truly appreciates having an innovator like Markus Klüsener on our global team. Many thanks to him for his extraordinary efforts and the insights into his work!
Do you have what it takes to become a HARMAN Innovator? Introduce yourself in the comments and visit https://jobs.harman.com/ to learn about our current opportunities at locations around the world.