Production News Headlines
Robe for Melodifestivalen 2020
Sweden – For the first time in its 64-year history the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest (ESC), due to be staged in May in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Subsequently, all 41 qualifying countries have been invited back – same time and place – in 2021 with the same artists who will be singing different songs.
No-one takes Eurovision more seriously than Sweden, one of the countries which has done consistently well since its 1958 debut, winning six times, most famously with Abba’s “Waterloo” and most recently in 2015. Since 1959, the Swedish entry each year has been chosen via an annual televised talent competition, known since 1967 as the ‘Melodifestivalen’, organised by public broadcasters Sveriges Television (SVT) and Sveriges Radio (SR).
In 2002, the Melodifestivalen upped the ante further in terms of a selection event and started touring to six key cities around Sweden with a final in Stockholm, this year at the 65,000-capacity Friends Arena. The finale broadcast is among the most popular programmes on Swedish television.
Top Swedish LD Fredrik Jonsson of Eyebrow Designs has lit Melodifestivalen since 2002, capturing all the glamour, glitz, unashamed kitsch drama and disco moments.
This year he enlisted the help of 168 Robe moving lights (upped to over 300 for the final show) including MegaPointes, Spiiders, LEDBeam 150s and six BMFL WashBeam followspots running on four RoboSpot remote BaseStations.
Each year he imagines a new and original lighting design. Keeping the show looking fresh and relevant is one of the main challenges and a task he enjoys.
This year, the producers wanted a large open stage look to set the scene, so they could use more and bigger props for the songs to give each an individual look.
Set designer Viktor Brattström opted for a huge projection surface as the backdrop, which was divided into three sections in a geometric horseshoe shape, with content fed by eight laser projectors.
So, the first starting point for lighting was to take this into consideration as the main visual element on stage in addition to lighting.
“The backdrop was grey-white with a strong linear texture, and rather moody and dark without projection, so I had to be careful with levels so not to kill or over-shine the projections,” he commented.
With the backdrop being so prominent, it could also become flat in close-ups shots with less depth-of-field for the cameras, so early on, he knew he needed lights in front that could move in and out providing more punch from the back when required, effectively adding a natural depth via lighting, hence several moving ladders rigged with MegaPointes.
Out of a total of ten ladders, four could move sideways on a Gerriets Cargo Track system, supplied by Creative Technology Northern Europe together with the lighting.
This trick enabled the ladders to slide in and appear in front of the stage right / stage left backdrop upstage. Each ladder was rigged with two Heavy Duty Runner blocks (rollers) as rigging points on the top pipe. These Runner Blocks were then attached to the Cargo Track beam, a set up that facilitated moving the ladders into view and choosing the best configuration for any song.
When projection needed to cover the whole backdrop, the ladders were slid out of view and stored – two ladders each side of stage – behind the diagonal projection screens, in an area called 'the garage'.
The Cargo Track beam reached well outside the 'horseshoe' corners, creating the hidden storage position.
Sometimes the ladders were positioned on stage in conjunction with the projection, so masks in the projection were mapped in the disguise servers for the different ladder positions, keeping them dark and out of the projected image.
The ladders were slid in and out of position manually by the lighting crew during set changes and with five different positions for each ladder, there was plenty of versatility. “It was a neat, simple and effective solution.”
Surrounding each section of backdrop was a ladder filled with MegaPointes (64 in the touring system) plus a bunch of strobes.
Approximately five metres downstage was another arch in the same horseshoe shape, also with towers and lights arranged similarly to create a mid-stage performance area.
Scattered around all the towers and in the roof beams were numerous Roe LED strips arranged in geometric patterns.
Two enormous DS / US staircases at 45-degree angles to the downstage arches further dissected and defined the main performance area, and inside the stairs pointing outwards onto stage were a bunch of LEDBeam 150s.
The over-stage lighting rig followed the horseshoe shape of the stage, with five upstage / downstage trusses crammed as tightly as possible with spots, washes, and strobes, optimised to get the most coverage.
An extra upstage truss was dedicated to backlighting, including fixtures doing gobo washes and the six BMFL WashBeams followspots on the RoboSpot systems.
Robe’s Spiider LED wash beams in the roof were the main wash fixtures, the first time Fredrik has used them in this way, which was a great success. “It’s a great fixture, love the zoom range, and the LED flower effect is a nice bonus,” he stated.
The diversity of the MegaPointes was ideal. They were all positioned on the ten towers and utilised for aerials and high-impact effects as well as for some extra lighting ‘props’ in specific songs.
Fredrik first used LEDBeam 150s on a dinner show last year where he needed something small and potent and immediately “fell in love with the tiny fixture!”
For Melodifestivalen 2020, the 42 LEDBeam 150s on the touring system were rigged in the roof in groups of four to simulate ACLs. “Yes, I am that old, and I still love those looks,” quips Fredrik, with the rest built into the set stairs to provide eye-candy, side light and more effects.
The BMFL WashBeams were the keylights, backlights and followspots with a few extras rolled in when Fredrik needed to boost the sidelight. The intensity of two BMFL WashBeams was mapped in the disguise media server to sync perfectly with the video content during one song.
Fredrik always uses moving lights for key light now, and this year choose WashBeams for all the fixed positions to cover the show hosts and interval acts “for the pure quality, texture and coverage” of the fixture. “Everybody looks like they are standing in a followspot on camera when in fact they are in BMFL WashBeams!”
The WashBeams were also great as side and keylights for the dancers, especially trimmed with the blade system and with a blurred break-up gobo slipped in to add more texture and make artists stand out even in crowded dance acts.
An additional 59 BMFL WashBeams and 74 BMFL Wash XFs joined the rig for the final broadcast, just to cover the audience and floor areas around the arena.
The lamp count was ramped up dramatically for the final, mainly due to the vastness of the Friends Arena (capped at 30,000 for this show), a soccer venue with a dizzily high trim height where fixtures at 28 meters had to be able to cover the audience with some serious punch in all colours.
“It was a pretty neat upgrade,” Fredrik comments.
He often uses Robe products in his work, including previous Melodifestivalen tours and on the 2016 ESC Final in Stockholm, for which he was the lighting designer. (He also lit the 2013 final in Malmo.)
A standard practice when designing the initial Melodifestivalen rig drawings is to list alternatives for every position, but this year lighting supplier Creative Technology Northern Europe had a lot of Robe to hand, so that tended to be his first choice.
Last year, he had tried using smaller numbers of BMFL WashBeams and was suitably impressed by the optics to switch other fixtures out for these this year, as well as using them for the six onstage followspots.
“The quality and texture of the WashBeam light is way more refined than a BMFL Blade or Spot simply because the lens is so much bigger: the more glass, the more beam quality!”
When he hit on the idea of the structural ladders and towers with lights and wanted to move some of these sideways, a weight issue came into play and that sent him in a MegaPointe direction.
“As I knew the MegaPointe could deliver all the effects with less weight, it got the job!”
The four RoboSpot systems were positioned backstage and controlled the six BMFL WashBeams on the back truss. “It is a trick employed last year to cover different sweet spots and performance areas from two different angles,” he elucidated.
This year, they had two different positions upstage and downstage, so the followspot rigged at the right angle for key lighting at the 'standard' downstage sweet spot would not work for a position upstage as it would hit the backdrop and disrupt the projections.
So, an extra pair of front spots were rigged closer to the stage edge controlled by the same RoboSpot system.
The BaseStation controlling the downstage stage-right followspot also controlled the upstage stage-right one, and as Fredrik had master control via one of the lighting consoles, he could switch between them or use both simultaneously and seamlessly during the songs, depending on where the artists moved.
“Basically, you get two different followspot positions for the price of one operator!”
All the followspot operators had to do was follow the talent and turn their intensity to full, while the lighting console took care of the rest. “With all the songs being timecoded, we could do some really clever cues,” included Fredrik.
The show lighting was programmed and run on four grandMA consoles.
Joining Fredrik on the 2020 Melodifestivalen tour were a highly talented team including technical director Tobias Åberg, lighting operators Timo Kauristo and Robert Kelber, video operator Fredrik Stormby, lighting crew chief Peter Andersson, additional lighting operator for the Friends Arena Grand Final Calle Brattberg.
Melodifestivalen 2020 was won by The Mamas with “Move”.
photos: Sofia Drevemo, Creative Technology
29th May 2020
LIT Live is Back with Chauvet Professional
USA – Andy Chaves, lead singer for Katastro, broke into a breezy, flowing monologue at the start of the band’s Wednesday 13 May show. It’s an engaging style he developed over the course of the funk/rock fusion group’s relentless touring schedule, an itinerary that has seen them play with the likes of Pepper and The Expendables.
Only on this night, the quartet wasn’t touring. Instead they were playing to a near-empty LIT Lighting warehouse, as part of the COVID-19 driven LIT Live livestream shows. Much of Chaves’ onstage fluency is due to his natural talent and experience, but some of the credit must also go to the warm, welcoming vibe that Chris Brodman and his team have created at their warehouse turned livestreaming studio.
This is the second incarnation of LIT Live for Broadman, Cody Lisle (also of LIT), and Rodger Pugh of Devus Designs. They began collaborating on the livestreaming program early in the pandemic, but closed up shop after the governor of Arizona declared a general lockdown.
In May, with the crisis easing and restrictions lifted, they restarted LIT Live and as they’ve moved forward, they’ve picked up new bits of knowledge with every step along the way.
“We are viewing this as a learning experience,” said Brodman. “We are developing new skills regarding livestreaming. We did this the first time around, as well as during the time we were locked down and we’re doing it today. All of us are learning to think outside the box and communicate with each other on a more human, empathetic level. I feel like LIT and our partners in the community have strengthened immensely and that makes us happy!”
Playing a role in creating the inviting looks of the LIT Live shows, which generally run between 60 and 90 minutes, are Chauvet Professional Strike fixtures, which, like the rig’s collection of Maverick and Rogue units, were drawn from LIT Lighting’s inventory.
Positioned as backlights and sidelights, these Strike 1 and Strike P38 fixtures create “a warm tungsten look that comes across great on video and makes the show seem more personal,” said Brodman, who notes that he and his team have become much more aware of viewing things through the camera’s perspective since they started livestreaming.
“It's all about how things look on camera,” he said. “So, we do a lot more checking on our preview monitors now, seeing what works and what can be done better for the next show.”
As for those “next shows,” LIT Live will be offering more of them down the road, as it moves from one to three livestreams a week. Brodman and his team also plan on expanding their content, going beyond music to include community programming.
“We’ve received such tremendous support from everyone, from the artists, to the crew, to the fans watching LIT live,” he said. “It has truly been a humbling experience, knowing that what we’re doing is touching so many people, so we’re looking at more ways to make a difference.”
29th May 2020
PR Lighting Out in Force for Ghana’s Covid-19 Heroes Concert
Ghana – Ghana recently staged its own ‘behind closed doors’ Ghana Covid-19 Heroes Concert in order to raise funds for both UNHCR, to help protect refugees from the pandemic, and the National Covid-19 Trust Fund. It was also to say a very big thank you to all the Covid-19 frontline workers who have risked their lives in saving others.
Charterhouse Ghana, described as ‘a one-stop production house’, staged the event, in partnership with Ghana Music Awards Foundation, at The Grand Arena, located on the premises of the Accra International Conference Centre. It was transmitted to audiences through television (TV3) and through social media streaming.
WABlighting, run by Ernest Awuah, was brought in to handle the production design and drew heavily on fixtures from PR Lighting. “PR is rated number 1 brand in Ghana over all others due to its explicit features,” he explains. Both Wablighting and Charterhouse Ghana hold inventory, giving the possibility of a vast resource of moving lights from the Chinese company. For this production, the XR 350 BWS (combining Beam, Wash, Spot in a single unit), XR 330 Beam, equipped with a Sirius HRI 330W lamp and three prisms, and XLED 1037 (containing 37 four-in-one 10W RGBW LEDs) were used in the production. These were suspended on a single goal post truss, placed both on overhead and upstage.
The challenge facing Awuah was lighting an empty auditorium but capturing the same dynamic as if the arena were filled with people. “The most paramount requirement was to obtain excellent visibility,” he said. “This meant working with design ideas through colour and positioning to develop a kind of hyper-reality, since there was no audience present. The LED fixtures provided the ambience and the moving heads delivered excellent beams.”
Benefiting from this was an all-star cast of artistes who had donated their services. These included Amandzeba, Cindy Thompson, MOG Music, Efya, Wiyaala, Celestine Donkor, Adina, Kwesi Arthur, Joe Mettle, Akwaboah, Medikal, Diana Hamilton and Kofi Kinaata,
All programming was handled by Ernest Awuah himself on an Avolites Tiger Touch II and the show was directed by John Boafo Duah.
In summary, the lighting designer said: “Through this concert, the hopes of many have been revived and to date this has been the most talked about virtual concert ever staged, due to the impact it has created.”
Confirmed Charterhouse CEO Iyiola Ayoade, "We organised the Ghana Covid-19 Heroes Concert, mainly to inspire hope, support the fundraising effort of the Covid 19 National Trust Fund in support of the front-line health workers, and to lend a voice to the ‘Wear A Mask’ Campaign.
“Music is a force for good and the most appropriate medium to rally a national applause for our frontline health workers. They are our heroes; we doff our hats to them.”
photos: Charterhouse Ghana
29th May 2020
Astera For Floating Lotus Yoga Streaming
Australia – Nalini Tebbey owns and runs Floating Lotus, a thriving yoga studio based in Helensvale, Gold Coast, offering a busy weekly schedule of 36 yoga, Pilates and meditation classes.
Recently, helping to create a harmonious ambience in the studio, have been six Astera Titan Tubes.
The business had just moved into a beautiful and tranquil new premises with large windows, lots of incoming natural light and panoramic views, a fully conducive environment for relaxation and concentration, when the coronavirus pandemic and resultant lockdown meant the doors had to be temporarily closed to the public. Ever resourceful, Nalini started streaming her classes.
While perfect for live sessions, the Studio space needed additional lighting to keep up the quality and style associated with Floating Lotus. Nalini wanted her broadcasts to look polished and professional, and Astera Titan tubes were recommended and then sourced from the ULA Group, Astera’s Australian distributor.
“I needed good skin tones and lighting that added a subtle glow, not too harsh, just a very nice quality of light,” explained Nalini.
Titan Tubes were also a great solution as they come with so many different rigging and fixing options, out of which she is using the floor stands to mount them on. They are lightweight, easily manoeuvrable and being battery-powered eliminate the need for cabling, while they can be easily controlled from Nalini’s phone using the Astera App: fast, intuitive, and fuss-free.
Six Titan Tubes are placed in an arc on the floor around Nalini for a typical streaming session and she dials in a warm, tungsten white ambience using the App which looks ideal on camera.
This neat installation is further enhanced by the elegant appearance of the Titan Tubes themselves, which look comfortable in the geometry of the yoga space. From some camera angles the lights are on show, so the aesthetics of the fixtures themselves were also important.
Nalini has not needed to dip into any of the many colours and effects, the different CT whites alone have been enough to generate the atmospheric variances required for the different disciplines. Yoga and meditation need lower levels of warmer light while Pilates lends itself to more vibrancy and a cooler, crisper colour temperature.
Keeping her business running via streaming and social media during the lockdown has been crucial, comments Nalini. Currently, plans are to continue online until the studio can reopen in mid-June, which will be with reduced numbers, so streaming additional sessions to meet demand is still an option.
photos: Floating Lotus
28th May 2020
High Frequency Productions Goes Rogue for Wub Life Livestreams
USA – Watching the 4th May Wub Step Livestream and sharing the link on social media, one DJ felt compelled to advise his virtual friends: “This is real! No green screen.” The caveat was understandable. Witnessing the volcanic eruption of light and video that swept through the three-hour show, it was difficult to believe that this eye-popping display could be coming from an improvised livestream studio in a lighting warehouse.
Surely, there must be some clever splicing of live concert footage in a show of this magnitude. There wasn’t!
All of it, the sizzling video walls, thunderous sound system and lighting rig, which included Chauvet Professional fixtures, was 100 per cent there on the spot. Juan Ocampo, the owner of High Frequency Productions, where the EDM stream took place, would have it no other way.
Ocampo teamed up with Wub Life Entertainment, a Chicago area company that does dubstep, house and EDM shows, to create what has become weekly livestreams. The idea began in late April. “We’ve been working together for the past four years, so we’re familiar with collaborating,” said Ocampo. “This is something we started doing to keep sane during this period.”
High Frequency contributes the facility and all the gear for the online shows, which are streamed on Twitch.tv and Facebook, while Wub Life provides the performers, a group, that, on one May night, included popular Chicagoland acts Wolfbiter, Porn and Chicken, and Migz.
LD Aaron Clair, and VJ Barry Sessons ran the power-packed rig that High Frequency furnished. Clair made ample use of the lighting rig’s potent output, sending blinding patterns of beams in every direction, punctuating his show with flashes to the beat of the music, and, at times, seeming to turn every one of his fixtures into a giant blinder. All the while, the lights flowed seamless with the bold, engaging video panel displays.
“We tried not to hold anything back just because this was a livestream coming out of a warehouse,” said Ocampo. “Our goal was to deliver the intensity that you’d find at a great club show. The Rogue R2 Washes in our rig played a big part in creating these looks. We used them behind the DJ booth to create a glow around the artists. Our LD also relies on their built-in macros to create some cool upstage effects that add some important dimensionality to the show when seen on a screen.
Looking back at his early livestream efforts, Ocampo says that he underestimated the spatial needs of the production. “The first shows were all put together fairly quickly with little time to tweak,” he said. “By the time set-up, we realised we needed more space so we went bigger!”
Fortunately, more space was available in the High Frequency Productions warehouse and the result has been a series of livestream shows that blow past expectations with their size, scope, and intensity.
28th May 2020
Materie Event Production Creates Drive-In Experience with Chauvet Professional
Germany – Last year, music resonated throughout the beautiful Festwiese Apolda. Stars from Germany and around the world journeyed to this central German setting to perform. Of course, these joyful sounds went silent following the COVID-19 lockdown.
For weeks, the pastoral fairgrounds remained void of public entertainment. Happily, that changed on Friday 15 May when Studio D4 launched Autokino Apolda, a pop culture throwback to the 1960s-style American drive-in, but with a decidedly high-tech touch provided by a bright ten-metre by six-metre LED video screen built with Chauvet Professional F4 IP panels supplied and installed by Materie Event Production.
Mounted on a two-metre high platform and supported by a solid rigging grid, the video panels deliver the kind of clear, crisp images that would have been unimaginable back in the glory muscle car days of the early drive-in movies.
“The panels give us brilliant colours and sharp definition thanks to their 4.8mm pixel pitch,” said Heiko Ullrich of Materie Event Production. “The black body of the LEDs means that we have great images even during sunlight. This was important, because the client needed vibrant colours and high contrast during the daylight as well as at night.”
Autokino Apolda offers a full schedule of movies, such as Bohemian Rhapsody, A Star Is Born, and Spiderman. The pop-up drive-in opens every day, seven days a week. Since the panels will be left outdoors for the long run (likely as long as to COVID-19 lockdown lasts), their IP65 rating is essential.
A combination of two Novastar scalers, a Blackmagic ATEM Television Studio Pro 4K, a Sony Blue-ray player, and three Decimator MD HX feed the video wall content. “The control we get is excellent,” said Ullrich. “We can run 120 panels on just one scaler.”
The Materie Event team arranged six Maverick Storm 1 Wash and four COLORado Panel Q40 units over the big video wall. From this position, the IP65 rated fixtures are used to create stunning effects after the film showings, an “extra” that James Dean and Marlon Brando never had in their drive-in days!
To draw attention to the drive-in, the Maverick fixtures are also used to create aerial effects, which can be seen from great distances. The fixtures serve another marketing function by creating captivating images of the venue to use in advertising material.
On the subject of marketing, Studio D4 is offering customers a chance to win a day with a vintage muscle car from HarzCruisers, so they can experience the vibe of the classic drive-in era.
Fans have been turning out for Autokino Apolda in impressive numbers. Adhering to government safety regulations, they are limited to two people per vehicle, and can leave their car only to visit the toilet or purchase refreshments. Audio is transmitted to their radios via UKW.
Someday stars like Clueso, Sarah Connor and Captain Fantastic will return to Festwiese Apolda to make music again. Meanwhile, people in this region are finding a welcome reprieve from their daily concerns, escaping time and place by entering a classic drive-in experience beautifully lit by Materie Event Production and displayed on a clear LED video wall.
28th May 2020
GLP Lights Up “The Masked Singer
Germany – In March and April 2020, German TV network ProSieben broadcast the second season of the TV show "The Masked Singer" (TMS), in which celebrities compete against one another with vocal performances, clad in imaginative full-body costumes. Whoever receives the fewest votes per show must remove the mask and disclose their identity. In the meantime, the jurors, Ruth Moschner and Rea Garvey, along with a guest judge each week, speculate over the course of six live shows as to the identity of who might be hiding behind the masks.
Lighting designer Arkin Atacan from atacan design turned to various lighting solutions from GLP to ensure that the lovingly designed costumes, comprising dragons, sloths, robots, etc, appeared to optimal effect on the television screen. Arkin, who mainly specialises in the TV sector – including "Pussy Terror TV", "ProSieben Winter Games", “Alle Gegen Einen (“All Against One") and many more – has been in charge of the Endemol Shine production since the first season last year.
The stage concept by Florian Wieder was key to his lighting design. "The set includes many straight lines and polygons," explains Arkin. "Wherever possible, I try to continue these design lines so that both the set and lighting function as a coherent unit, which in turn makes the overall picture look much more homogeneous and larger."
The set itself consists of two eight-metre high masks covered with fabric, the mouths of which are fitted with linear LED elements, which serve as an entrance tunnel. Added to this are a 12-metre wide LED back wall, a stage in the form of a double rhombus with a 5x5-metre LED floor, the public stands and the rate panel.
The lighting design remains largely unchanged from show to show, with only a few fixtures partially replaced. With a view to such important issues as energy efficiency and sustainability, greater emphasis was placed on LED-based solutions, which is why 76 GLP impression X4L, 66 X4, 60 X4 Bar 20 as well as nine KNV Line and 22 KNV Dot were used. In addition, 12 of the brand new JDC Line from GLP made their TV debut on TMS.
In addition to colour illumination of the masks, the impression X4L also serves as backlighting for the public, while the X4 Bar 20s follow the truss lines and reflect the basic design. "For me, the GLP X4 series has become a real all-purpose weapon," says Arkin. "I have been using these products for a long time. Not only are they very reliable, they are also very versatile. I don't know of any service provider who doesn't have something from the X4 range in stock. ”
The modular KNV systems from GLP, which Arkin had already used at the Hapag-Lloyd inauguration in 2019, are new to the lighting design. Afterwards it was clear to him that he also wanted to integrate these products into the design for TMS.
“The KNVs are nice, small hybrid solutions to hide stroboscopes in a set. The size of the units is extremely small, making their impact all the more effective,” says Arkin
However, Arkin's highlight was deployment of 12 of the brand new GLP JDC Line fixtures, which celebrated their TV premiere at TMS. “I knew that GLP was working on a JDC line and I already had some information about the fixture in 2019, but I didn't know when the launch would be. I was all the more pleased when I received a call from GLP Key Account Manager Olli Schwendke, who said that the first 14 pieces of this series were now available. I didn't hesitate for long and requested 12 demo models for the season finale.”
JDC Line is a new hybrid strobe based on the successful GLP JDC1. The linear light effect combines the extreme brightness familiar from the JDC1 with an LED pixel mapping stick. Two independently controllable RGB LED elements frame a central line of ultra-bright, white LEDs. The JDC Line owes its distinctive look to the fact that all LEDs are installed behind the same optics.
Arkin placed these new arrivals between the KNV Lines as well as to the left and right of the masks that shaped the set. "The effect was sensational! It was not only that the Lines sit extremely flat on the floor and have a massive strobe, but the two RGB lines above and below the strobe also allowed for very nice effects. I am convinced that these devices will now find their way into my tenders more often,” states the designer.
In addition to the lighting design, atacan design was also responsible for the entire operation of these productions. Arkin Atacan's team worked closely with the choreographers, vocal coaches and content producers.
The lighting team around Arkin Atacan and the DoP consisted of show light operator Tobias Reinartz, white light operator Markus Ruhnke, video operator Paul Happ, lighting technician Steffen Zimmermann as well as server system specialist and content manager Uwe Schröder.
photos: Arkin Atakan
27th May 2020
MHB Creates Digital Audience Platform with ROE Visual Diamond Screen
The Netherlands – Dutch rental company MHB has developed a digital audience platform for MediaLane, based on a curved LED display consisting of ROE Visual Diamond LED panels.
How do you make a satirical Saturday night show during an intelligent lockdown? A quiz with 100 people in the audience? Impossible. A musical ensemble? Unthinkable. With the help of the facilities provided by rental company MHB, broadcast station BNNVARA was able to pull it off and to continue the popular television programme “Even Tot Hier” in a corona-proof adaptation.
When MHB was approached by MediaLane to find a solution to be able to continue the “Even Tot Hier” television series on Dutch national broadcast station BNNVARA, they set out to develop a digital audience platform, enabling live interaction between the studio and an audience of 100 persons.
Using lots of conference connections, the audience is able to participate and intervene live during the show, just like a normal live audience in the studio would be able to. The curved display, measuring a stunning 17x3 metres, makes the interaction up-close and very natural.
Supported from a custom-made truss construction, neatly following the curve of the 17-metre long LED screen, a total of 204 modules of Diamond DM 2.6. were suspended, connected with hanging bars and the special connection locks. Using the Colorlight Z6 processor, mapping the panels proved to be easy. During the show, 100 simultaneous dial-up connections were shown, creating an immense interactive background.
Specialised in devising and performing audiovisual productions, and with a wealth of successful productions in its portfolio, MHB was able to deliver a solution for MediaLane that worked well for both the performers in the studio and the viewers at home.
“The ROE Visual Diamond screens provided a great digital canvas for this specific purpose,” explains Marten Hylkema, owner of MHB. “The curving capabilities are remarkable, creating an enhanced immersive setting and vivid colour display makes the screen really stand out. We have used this screen for several types of applications now and are really satisfied with both the visual quality and the ease of use. The Diamond screens have proven to be a really good investment for us.”
27th May 2020
Claypaky Scenius Unicos Light Up Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne
Australia – Normally Mother’s Day in Australia means spending time with mum and the family, but the strict government restrictions in place as a result of COVID-19 meant the closest families could get this year was a FaceTime call. Despite the restrictions that were in place, the team at the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne wanted to make this year’s Mother’s Day special and called on Australia’s premier lighting specialist Resolution X for help.
The brief was to illuminate the façade of the iconic hospital with colour and messages of love and support for all mothers. As part of the display, images of new and expecting mothers were projected onto the building in a rotating ten-minute light show.
However, projecting the images onto the building turned out to be no small feat. The best vantage point for the set-up was on the rooftop of a building diagonally opposite the Royal Women’s façade; a horizontal throw from the projection location approached 90m with an angle of more than 50 degrees. Further challenging the team, wireless DMX was being beamed across the road and seven stories down to control all of the LED wash fixtures that were up-lighting the façade.
With such an extreme throw distance, and with a desired image width of only ten metres, the Claypaky Scenius Unico was the obvious fixture for the job. Resolution X’s senior manager of production, Jamie Russell, remarks: “We had to balance the need for reliability, power consumption, significant output and very narrow beam angle. The Claypaky Scenius Unico ticked all the boxes and was the clear choice in the end.”
Resolution X used three Scenius Unicos, each loaded with multiple custom gobos, to project images onto the building. Gobotech, Resolution X’s preferred gobo manufacturer, supplied the glass gobos for the fixtures with full keystone correction to each gobo based on where the image would finally sit on the building. “When projecting images of people, there really isn’t much room for error with keystoning, especially at the angles we were approaching the building from,” comments Jamie Russell. “Putting the new mums out of proportion would not have been an ideal start to their Mother’s Day, but the gobos were perfect. We couldn’t be happier with the service from our partners at Gobotech.”
The Scenius Unicos continued to out-perform all expectations once the sun went down. Jamie Russell observes:, “We were under significant pressure as the local media outlets were to be there to take pictures for the nightly news right at dusk. Because we didn’t have an opportunity to focus with the sun down before the deadline, we were amazed to see that even at 90 metres the sheer output of the fixtures made the projections still legible on the building in full sunlight. The performance of the Unicos was really remarkable.”
For a Mother’s Day like no other, Resolution X were proud to help make the day something special despite the restrictions in place. “In these times, all businesses need to consider alternative ways to communicate their message, and gobo projection is a cost effective and high-profile way to do just that. Our client was blown away with the result, as well as the subsequent response they got through traditional and social media.”
The Scenius Unico is available for hire at Resolution X and complements their ever-expanding Claypaky fleet, which includes Scenius Profiles, Mythos, Sharpys, B-EYEs, K-EYEs, Stormys and the classic Alpha range.
27th May 2020
Strikken Helps deliver Covid-19 Tests and Lights the Sky in Estonia
Estonia – Tallinn-based technical production and rental company, Strikken, has been doing its bit to support the nation’s fight against coronavirus by voluntarily assisting the Synlab Eesti OU laboratory in collecting and transporting Covid-19 test samples gathered from all around the country.
This is tied into research being conducted by the University of Tartu, including a three-month study on the prevalence of coronavirus among both symptomatic and asymptomatic people. At least 16,000 residents, based on a random statistical sample, will be interviewed and invited to be tested for coronavirus.
The transportation programme to help collect the samples was initiated by Strikken’s long-time partner Rally Estonia, to get the materials quickly and safely to Synlab which is the main testing laboratory in Tallinn. Speedy test results and data from the study will assist the government in an effective response and relevant public health guidance.
Roadside test centres have been set up in Tallinn, Tartu, Pärnu, Kuressaare, Viljandi, Narva and Kohtla-Järve and Rally Estonia event organiser Tarmo Hõbe encouraged volunteers to sign up and help. Strikken’s owner Taisto Raamat and his team were very happy to be part of this. Rally volunteers have been delivering about 35 per cent of the tests completed nationwide in March and April.
On the creative front, Strikken has also taken part the international lighting actions and artwork creations including #LightTheSky in support of essential workers during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Founded by Taisto in 2000 – initially as a one-person operation with six parcans – Strikken has grown and developed into a leading full production company providing lighting, audio, video, staging, rigging and design services for a range of events.
The 20th anniversary year would normally be one for celebration, but as for rental companies worldwide, it has been the toughest year to date due to Covid-19.
2019 was a fantastic year; in April alone they serviced 44 events, which was down to two this year, both TV shows without audiences! And in May 2019, 70 plus events were on the calendar.
Last year they also made a substantial investment in Robe moving lights with the purchase of 12 MegaPointes and 48 LEDBeam 150s supplied by Robe’s Estonian distributor E&T Valgus.
Strikken has been using Robe products for some time. Their first Robe moving lights were ColorSpot 170 ATs that are still going strong in one of the night clubs they service. They also have LEDWash 300s, Pointes and LEDBeam 100s in the rental stock, and Robe is their primary brand of moving light.
Taisto first looked at Robe for its reliability, which is always a major consideration for any busy rental house for all the obvious reasons. “When you’re out on a gig, it’s great to know that Robe lights will always have your back,” commented Taisto.
He thinks MegaPointes are “great multifunctional fixtures”. He loves the CMY colour mixing and the fact it transforms seamlessly from a spot to a beam “without any compromises”. He also likes to use MegaPointes for custom gobo projections with their “razor-sharp” optics.
The LEDBeam 150s are a perfect match for Strikken due to the compact design and easy setup with powerCON linking connectivity that eliminates the need for messy extension cabling. The zoom was a welcome upgrade to the original LEDBeam 100. “It’s made the fixture so much more versatile and means it can also be used as a keylight, great for scenarios with limited space.”
Recent events using the new Robe kit have included the Centenary Gala for Estonian Volleyball at the Saku Suurhall Arena in Tallinn, with lighting designed by Raiko “Little Trouble” Saadjärv; New Year’s Eve 2019 / 2020 in Tallinn’s Freedom Square lit by Mihkel “Big Trouble” Västrik and the Denim Dream 25th Birthday Gala again at the Saku Suurhall Arena, once more lit by “Little Trouble”!
Since the lockdown, for their own contribution to the first #LightTheSky action, Strikken used 18 Pointes and 18 LEDBeam 150s which were arranged in a heart shape in the yard outside their warehouse. The design was spontaneous and created collectively by all their crew.
As they await further instructions from the government about how the event and entertainment industry can be restarted, Taisto and his team are all dreaming about the day when they can once again “push some buttons and flash some lights!”
26th May 2020
ASG Creates Soaring Tribute to Heroes with Chauvet Professional
UK – Sitting serenely atop a hill 1,000 feet above the fertile floor of the Dee Valley, the haunting beauty of Dinas Brân exerts a powerful pull over the hearts of townspeople below. For nine centuries, the medieval castle built by a prince of Powys Fadog, has inspired myths, songs, and love stories that have echoed through the rolling Welsh countryside from generation to generation.
More recently, in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the castle, which now stands in ruins, and its adjacent hills, have inspired hope and gratitude in the form of a brilliant lighting display created by ASG Entertainments, with the support of the Denbighshire County Council, North Wales Police, Eastwood Media, and Xperience Productions.
On two successive nights in May, the all-volunteer group illuminated the hills and castle in vivid colours as a sign of appreciation for the NHS staff and key essential workers who have laboured selflessly to keep the county functioning during this challenging period. Providing the breathtaking display were 24 Chauvet Professional battery-operated WELL Fit fixtures taken from ASG’s inventory.
“With everything going on, we wanted to do something with our business to pay tribute to the NHS and key workers,” said Scott Cooper, director of ASG. “We decided to put our equipment to good use. This project was done completely voluntarily and organised by both myself and Chris Eastwood of Eastwood media.
“We approached local authorities who gave us permission and support for the project,” continued Cooper. “On the first night we lit the mountainside and the town in a rainbow to support the essential workers. Then on the following night, we lit the castle for the NHS.”
Given the logistics of this project and the lack of available power high up on the hill, the compact, battery-powered WELL Fit was the logical choice for the project. “The fixtures were ideal for what we wanted,” said Cooper. “Both of the areas we lit are not accessible by road, which meant we had to carry the 24 fixtures up steep slopes. There were three of us carrying eight units each for about 30 minutes. It was exhausting, but once we got there, the view of our town was spectacular.”
The view that the volunteer team treated the townspeople too was something to marvel at as well. Bathed in an array of colours, the outline of the hill’s craggy ridge stood out sharply against the dark sky, while the skeletal ruins of the old castle glowed mystically in clear blue light.
Cooper and his team positioned the IP65 rated RGBA fixtures as close as possible to the surfaces they illuminated to get the maximum coverage possible. “Because of power limitations, we couldn’t get big flood lights up there,” said Cooper. “However, the level of illumination we got from these battery-powered fixtures was more than enough. We got so many calls and texts from people below complimenting the looks.”
The impressive lighting display was left on for only one hour each night to discourage crowds from gathering. “We didn’t want to a lot of people turning out because of social distancing considerations,” said Cooper. “Our goal was to create a stunning image for the townspeople to see from their homes and then preserve the beauty of the moment through the photos Chris took.”
When the current pandemic passes, Cooper says he plans to recreate this lighting display so people will be able to gather and get a closer look at the panorama. In the meantime, they will have memories of two May nights and Chris Eastwood’s artful photography to appreciate the beauty of their community’ famous landmark and the inspiring courage of the heroes who are helping Llangollen get through this moment in its long history.
photos: Scott Cooper
26th May 2020
KINGSIZE. Events and Chauvet Professional Light LUKINS’ Save Your Culture Livestream
Germany – Tearing away the veil of silence to set communication free is nothing new in this picturesque valley town located a short drive from Berlin. It was here in January 1923, that the world’s first radio concert was broadcast from an experimental tower near the city centre.
Today, almost a century later, a local music label, LUKINS, is breaking through a new and different kind of barrier by organising Save Your Culture, a series of livestream events that highlight Eberswalde artists and venues that have been impacted by the COVID-19 lockdown.
On 21 and 23 April, these broadcasts, which are livestreamed on Facebook and YouTube, emanated from the city’s popular (and temporarily closed) indoor climbing centre Bloc48. Accentuating the distinctive climbing walls and innovative obstacles of the facility, while supporting the online show’s DJ performers, was a collection of Chauvet Professional Strike and COLORado fixtures supplied by KINGSIZE. Events.
Christoph Neumann, event technology specialist at KINGSIZE. Events, ran the shows on his ChamSys MagicQ MQ80. Drawing on the performance features of six Strike 1 and 16 COLORado Panel Q40 fixtures, he created harmoniously balanced shows that served both the unique character of the venue and the dynamic performances of the four DJs who performed there during the two livestreams.
“For the project it was important for us that we not only focused on the artists, but also highlighted the location,” he said. “So, the climbing centre, with all its facets, was part of the greater whole. To accomplish this goal, we wanted to hide all the technical instruments and really put the focus on the DJs and venue. The background consisted of decoration and lighting highlights, so we could create a complete picture.”
Drawing on the edge-to-edge RGBW colour mixing of the COLORado Panel Q40, which he controlled via WDMX, Neumann used the fixture to highlight Bloc48’s labyrinth of angled walls speckled by a quilt of uniquely designed protrusions. In so doing, he helped convey a sense of actually being in the immersive venue.
“The Q40s were used to set a colourful setting within the room,” explained Neumann. “They were the basic light, if you want to say. The Strike 1 functioned as a practical effect. I used it for blinding effects and also to create a second visual layer behind the DJ. Two Strike 1s were placed on the ground behind the DJ – simply because I ran out of tripods – but they had a great effect too. Their built-in red shift function was absolutely convincing, emulating the classic lamps one is expecting from a blinder. But it’s not only their output, but also the housing design of the Strike 1 that I appreciate. It functions great as a beautiful decoration element.”
With at least four cameras videoing each livestream show, Neumann had to take a different approach to lighting these events than he typically follows at festivals and other live performances. “Everything that looks amazing live doesn’t necessarily appear that way on camera,” he said. “With all the different camera angles, we had to make sure that the image looked perfect from a variety of perspectives. It was also very important to achieve the right depth effect. Without additional lighting for objects in the background, the image on the camera looks just flat and boring. So, for a streaming we use much more lighting than on regular jobs.”
Based on his experience lighting these livestreams, Neumann is eager to do more. “It’s an extremely addictive type of project,” he declared, adding that beyond offering him creative satisfaction, the livestreams also served as a reminder and reaffirmation that his community is pulling together during the pandemic.
“We all wish this never happened, but I also see a lot of positive sides here,” he said. “There is finally enough time to think and reflect on what is really important in life. Also, within the industry, I am speechless about the synergies the situation created. The solidarity is fantastic! I cannot remember a time where I had so many new connections in such a short time.
“Personally, I am using this time to prepare myself for the situation after the crisis,” continued Neumann. “There will be a time when we can climb up a mountain again.”
When that happens, Neumann and his fellow industry members will be ready. As history has demonstrated, progress has a way of moving forward in Eberswalde.
26th May 2020
Eight Yamaha STAGEPAS 1K Systems Used to Showcase Immersive Live Sound
Switzerland – As an audio professional with experience stretching from the Paleo festival in the 1970s, through to working with many of the world’s highest profile artists, to his current role of designing high end audio installations for events and venues, Pierre-André Aebischer knows a thing or two about sound. This experience is why he chose Yamaha’s STAGEPAS 1K all-in-one portable PA systems to demonstrate the advantages of multi-channel, immersive live audio.
Based in Lausanne, Switzerland, Pierre-André has always been fascinated by immersive audio. He has recently started using eight Yamaha STAGEPAS 1K systems under the banner of Superdiff.com for a range of immersive audio projects. These have included the Stokata.io ‘invisible orchestra’ project, a one-off show Les Grands Espaces, as well as a regular experimental multi-channel event Immersive, demonstrating how immersive sound can improve the live experience.
“I needed some small, portable multi-channel line arrays for a system which could demonstrate immersive audio in a live music situation,” he says. “I needed narrow vertical coverage, wide horizontal coverage and reasonably long throw, to make sure everyone in the room had the best experience and could hear all sounds coming from all the loudspeakers. They also needed to be self-powered, with coherent amplification and processing, easily transported, and with as few cables as possible.”
The STAGEPAS 1K system was an ideal solution for Pierre-André’s needs, thanks to its high quality reproduction and because it includes a subwoofer in each array. This lets him quickly steer the low end content from one location to another.
“When moving from theory to practice with live immersive audio, there is a lot to learn,” he says. “It requires lower SPLs, offers cleaner, clearer sound quality and accurate localisation, delivering huge benefits for audiences. It minimises interference like comb filtering, ensuring instruments sound as much like their original source as possible. The sense of space it creates is also very reassuring for the ear/brain system, replacing the need for high SPLs from traditional systems and making for a comfortable and peaceful listening experience.”
He continues: “You will ideally have one loudspeaker for each instrument, making accurate localisation possible, even with your eyes closed. You can also let the listener’s brain do some of the mixing. If the ears can accurately localise and isolate every instrument, the brain will naturally emphasise certain sources that it likes, while minimising others.”
To prove these benefits, Pierre-André deploys the eight STAGEPAS 1K systems in a line or 180º arc, each system running independently and reproducing as few different instruments as possible to minimise interference.
“A 360° system is perfectly adequate, but extra care is needed when using rear points for music because of the obvious timing issues for different locations within a space,” he says. “But people like the immersive nature of 360º sound, even if the rear speakers are just used for things like wind noise or animal sounds, so I have tended to use those for sound effects.”
Pierre-André composes the music for all the demonstrations, recording it to a digital audio workstation (DAW) and then routing it to the loudspeakers in a variety of ways.
“For the Stokata.io project, each input source was independently sent from the DAW to an individual output of a mixing console and from there to one of the STAGEPAS 1K systems, effectively using the mixer as a router. While for others, like Les Grands Espaces, the mixer pre-amplified several guitar effects, freeze and looped tracks, which were then routed to the eight output channels via an external object mixer. “This allowed me to map the trajectories of sounds and ‘pan’ them across all eight loudspeaker systems,” he says.
“In the same way that demand for line array systems exploded in the early 2000s, I believe that the demand for live immersive audio will soon be on the verge of a huge expansion. Yamaha STAGEPAS 1K systems have helped me to open people’s minds to the amazing possibilities that this brings.”
22nd May 2020
Peachy Productions Delivers Food and Lighting Art
UK – Philip French of technical production company, Peachy Productions, has just relocated to Wiltshire after being based in the Surrey city of Guildford for eight years. However, during the coronavirus crisis he is making the journey back twice a week to volunteer for the Surrey Drive Campaign.
This is a locally-based crowd-funded initiative that each week delivers around 2,500 delicious and nutritious cooked meals – with locally sourced ingredients – for hard-working staff at the Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust hospital.
The Surrey Drive Campaign includes some of Surrey’s finest live event experts. After seeing heart-breaking stories of exhausted NHS workers finishing their arduous frontline shifts and being unable to buy food at this critical time, Steve Page and Hannah Sheppard thought it was time to step up.
Having furloughed all his staff while the UK continues in a largely restricted lockdown scenario with no live shows and events, Philip volunteered for some Surrey Drive driving / delivery slots and has been part of this heartfelt operation ever since.
One day whilst dropping off meals at the Surrey Royal he was gazing at the city’s famous cathedral opposite and thought it would be amazing if it were lit up at night to show support for everyone! He thought that this could tie in with the nationwide ‘Clap for Carers’ action every Thursday evening.
“Worldwide people are sending messages of goodwill and support using the medium of light to everyone battling and dealing with the pandemic,” he commented, “and I thought that this could also happen in Guildford.”
He approached the Anglican Cathedral’s administrators that same day and by the evening – a Wednesday – had elicited their agreement to illuminate the amazing Gothic revival-style building which was designed by Edward Maufe and built between 1936 and 1961. Finally completed in 1965, it is the seat of the Bishop of Guildford.
As soon as he had the go-ahead, Philip used his technical expertise and knowledge of lighting to choose suitable fixtures, which included 12 Robe Pointes and 16 Robe LEDBeam 150s together with additional LED PARs and other exterior LED wash lights, utilising around 80 fixtures in total.
The Pointes were used to highlight the top of the Cathedral’s 160ft tower, and everything else deployed on the ground around the building.
Philip, his co-director Ryan Howard and two volunteers ran cables all around the Cathedral, hooking into to various PD outlets and running back to a master 63A 3-phase supply at the front. Philip estimates they use around 1.5km cable!
Due to the scale and size of the building, they decided not to use a desk or DMX control. All programming was done beforehand in the warehouse and the lights are manually focused on site each week.
The Cathedral has been lit in blue every Thursday since the start of April, then church authorities approached Philip and asked if it would be possible to light it green for what would have been Visit Surrey day on 2nd May, which he and his team were happy to do.
Philip himself then suggested doing a red, white, and blue lighting scheme the following week in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of VE Day which signalled the end of the Second World War in Europe. On this occasion, Philip added one of Peachy Productions’ Christie 30K projectors to the spectacle to beam artwork and graphics onto the Cathedral’s impressive front facade.
Its elevated location on top of Stag Hill in Guildford makes it a prominent local landmark, and with the various lighting treatments, it has been transformed into a beaming beacon of energy and highly symbolic hope and solidarity, visible for up to five miles away on a clear night.
The lighting scheme has been a massive hit with those working in and around the hospital and in general with locals and the wider public, with many appreciating the real power, magic and spirit of community that can be evoked with lighting. It also brings a completely different perspective and way of looking at a building or a space, as well as acting as a general positive mood enhancer.
Philip has been “extremely proud” to have been able to help make a positive impact on the city and local environment and put lots of smiles on faces.
The plan is to keep the Thursday night blue lighting activated for the foreseeable future.
photos: Steve Parsons/PA Media & Alex Turner
22nd May 2020
Martin Dudley and Chris Davey Get Versatile for MiQ Ignite with ChamSys
Vietnam – Lighting, like music, is a universal language. That’s one reason why MiQ, a New York-based global market research firm, retained designers Martin Dudley and Chris Davey through UK-based event technology specialists Great Expectations, to provide professional lighting design services for a series of events the company was holding around the world for local clients and other interested parties.
But even though lighting has the power to move people everywhere, the availability of lighting fixtures cannot always be relied upon in every corner of the world. Understanding this, Dudley of Martin’s Lights Ltd. and Davey of Stagelighting Tech (both of the UK), knew they would need a powerful, yet flexible, controller that would allow them to accommodate a wide variety of rigs. They also wanted a control solution that they could they could carry on international flights.
These considerations led them to pack two ChamSys PC Wings for their globe-trotting “MiQ Ignite” tour, which concluded shortly before the COVID-19 lockdown. “We are both long-time ChamSys users,” said Davey. “This made us confident that we would manage very well running MagicQ software on Windows laptops with the PC Wings as we travelled to places that were not on the main international lighting circuit. Its programming power is fully fledged, yet it’s in a format that makes sense for travel.”
This confidence was well founded, as Dudley and Davey created engaging and aesthetically pleasing looks, often with widely different rigs in places like Cancun, Mexico and Danang, Vietnam. With Dudley handling the main conferences, while Davey took care of the entertainment lighting, the pair created looks that ranged from professional to festive, all while reflecting positively on their client.
“With all production equipment being supplied locally there was always going to be an element of surprise,” said Davey. “We knew that no matter how much we put into the pre-production, what turned up on site was always going to be uncertain, both in terms of the type of equipment and also its of service history. So, we often had to do things on the fly.”
In addition to having to deal with inconsistent rigs, Dudley and Davey had to design for a wide variety of entertainment specifications. “One day it could be a handful of lights for a roof-top reception, and the next night a vast acre of beach party, but the client expected, and got, the same vibe for both,” said Davey. “The power of the MagicQ software, its ability to morph quickly and transform shows, was invaluable; so too was the way it allowed us to find and create head files quickly and easily for random unknown fixtures.”
The ability of their control solution to handle different venues was also appreciated by Dudley and Davey. To illustrate this point, they recall how easy it was to move from copper DMX to ArtNet and back again, from a single PC Wing.
When things didn’t go as plan, their system served as fast diagnostic tool. “The ChamSys PC Wings made it incredibly easy to troubleshoot when the unexpected happened,” said Davey. “We both found ourselves playing teacher to the local crews and they were all very impressed with what we'd brought with us. It’s nice to know that in addition to serving our client, we helped advance local lighting markets.”
22nd May 2020
Astera goes Beyond The Road at the Saatchi Gallery
UK - Last year, Astera Titan Tubes were at the heart of a lighting scheme designed by Ben Donoghue, now of Flare Lighting, for Beyond the Road: an immersive exhibition at London’s world-famous Saatchi Gallery.
Featuring the music of UNKLE, the experience thoughtfully and cerebrally merged the worlds of visual arts, music and film, offering visitors a chance to lose themselves in a multi-sensory world led by sound. Together with music pioneer James Lavelle (UNKLE), the overall work was curated by creative producer Colin Nightingale, and sound designer/creative director Stephen Dobbie (both of the trailblazing theatre company Punchdrunk).
Lighting designer Ben Donoghue, who has recently joined Ben Cash, David Amos and the team at Flare Lighting from global creative agency Imagination, has worked regularly with Nightingale and Dobbie and was asked to collaborate on the project to create a lighting design for the experience which ran for a highly successful 12 weeks.
Dobbie, along with sound designer Salvador Garza Fishburn, deconstructed the last two UNKLE albums, The Road: Part 1 and The Road: Part II / Lost Highway, re-arranging and re-interpreting the work within a curated environment featuring a range of artistic and filmic works. Contributions from world-renowned and award-winning artists including Danny Boyle, Jonas Burgert, Alfonso Cuarón, Toby Dye, Doug Foster, Norbert Schoerner, Warren Du Preez & Nick Thornton Jones ranged from painting to film, sculpture to photography, tracing influences in Lavelle’s work.
Beyond the Road took over the entire top floor of the Saatchi Gallery. Visitors flowed through a series of interconnected spaces, exploring the constantly evolving soundscape and visual cues. A central hub of smaller rooms and corridors served to break any sense of linearity to the piece, encouraging visitors to choose their own path.
A quantity of Astera Titan Tubes were deployed here, referencing the linear architectural form of a conventional interior fluorescent fitting that one might expect to see in an ordinary gallery setting, such as in the Saatchi Gallery’s other exhibition spaces.
“Pulling fixtures down out of their usual ceiling rigging and into audience eyeline and introducing very carefully crafted colour, pixel and dim effects served to abstract a collection of ostensibly domestic spaces and help visually propel visitors around this transitory space,” says Donoghue. “Just as the music had been deconstructed, so too were the architectural conventions of the gallery and exhibition space; blank walls and ceilings became canvases for bold washes of colour.”
The artwork in this central zone was itself warped and animated by the lit environment; the usual soft white spotlighting making way for trippy, and at times unsettling, saturated lighting treatments, thus uniting the disparate visual elements. The interaction of coloured light and painted finishes created some extraordinarily vivid transformations. Notably, in mirroring rooms painted green-screen green and hot pink respectively, certain moments and colour contrasts achieved real intensity, emphasising movements in the swirling soundtrack.
Donoghue explains: “In part, I wanted the lighting fixtures, including the Titan Tubes, to play an active part in the overall sensory experience. Rather than remaining purely incidental or an element to be ignored by the gallery-goer, as would be the case in one’s usual art gallery visit, here the fixtures were very present, as much so as the artwork itself; at once atmospheric and architectural.” He continues: “Themes of deconstruction and abstraction were at the heart of the project and Titan Tubes, both because of their physical form factor and their pixel control, were an ideal tool to help tell this story and set the visual language for this key dynamic area of the exhibition.”
The Titan Tubes were run in four-pixel mode as Ben especially liked the blocky, almost analogue look that this achieves, which was right for the piece. By employing contrasting half-and-half or quartered split-colour combinations, they created a really bold language and identity for this space that felt engaging and unique to Beyond The Road.
“I think by self-imposing the constraints of a more limited pixel count to work within, we created a much stronger look for the show than might have been afforded by a more flexible approach.” (Titan Tubes offer up to 16-pixel control.)
The full installation including set build, sound, lighting and video installs was completed over a one-week period. A further two weeks were scheduled for sound creation and arranging in the near-completed space, along with lighting and video programming and gradual installation of all the individual artworks. “Developing the show was a truly collaborative process, with each discipline informing the other,” Donoghue remarks. “We put in a toolkit that I knew would achieve certain key looks and then the piece gradually developed in the space through lots of conversation, responding to new stems, new arrangements and new artwork arriving.”
Due to the 12-week run of the exhibition and its eight-hour daily operation with limited power-up/power-down time at the top and tail of a show day, it was necessary that the Titan Tubes remained wired in situ. All control was neatly boxed in with all wiring concealed in painted trunking. Donoghue recalls that they needed a reliable wired system and the Astera PowerBox offered just that.
Although he’d used Titan Tubes many times before, always controlling them wirelessly, this was the first time he’d used them ‘plugged’ and networked over sACN. “There were no issues over the run and none of the tubes needed swapping out, which was great.”
All the Astera Titan Tubes were supplied by Flare Lighting, a fast-rising UK creative lighting and visual design and delivery practice.
photos: Julian Abrams
21st May 2020
Image Production Services Creates Virtual Graduation Tribute with Chauvet Professional
USA – Nipmuc Regional High School is a little over six miles from the Imperial Cars automotive mall. Lately, a lot of seniors from the 654-student enrolment school have been making that drive to the dealership. They aren’t necessarily looking to buy a new car; they’re coming to see a special graduation tribute that the popular dealer has sponsored for them.
With the regional high school’s usual live graduation ceremony cancelled because of the COVID-19 lockdown, Imperial Cars contacted Image Production Services of Worcester, MA to put together a virtual alternative for Nipmuc students.
Having worked with Imperial Cars on many projects in the past, Darren Lussier and his team at Image Production Services including media specialist Tovia 'Ben' Shapiro, put together an impressive video display to honor graduates. They used 80 Chauvet Professional PVP LED panels to create a double-side video wall at the edge of the Imperial Plaza lot, with one of those sides facing heavily travel Route 16.
Mounted on a stage and covered by a roof, the video wall displays the name and portrait of each graduate with words of congratulations. The looped videos will run continuously from 11am to 11pm every day for two weeks, giving friends, parents and students a chance to drive by and celebrate the moment.
Students who want to do something extra to commemorate their graduation, can swing into the Imperial parking lot and having their photo taken on the inward-facing side of the video wall.
“This is the first project for high school graduations like this that Image Production Service has done,” said Lussier. “It recognises students while with keeping social distancing. We are ready to adapt this concept for town hall meetings, college commencements and other events where a client wants to show videos and broadcast FM audio directly to cars. It’s our way of staying relevant and helping the community.”
21st May 2020
Virtual Graduation Ceremony
Middle East – Creative Technology (CT) completed the first-ever virtual graduation ceremony in the Middle East for a Qatar based University. Supplying a full virtual solution, content creation and communication system, which was controlled from CT's Middle East headquarters in Dubai. The ceremony allowed 38 graduates who were located across four countries to come together and celebrate their achievements. The graduation was streamed by over 1,500 people from 35 different countries.
"Our client wanted to ensure that the students got the ceremony they deserved," explained CT's head of engineering, Tom Stocks. "The event needed to enable all 38 graduates to speak in unison to pledge their oath. Five speakers were pre-recorded ahead of time, and the event was streamed live to the public."
Giorgio Devecchi, project manager, described the process: "Our client designed the stage to look and feel as close to a normal graduation ceremony as possible. Once all designs were approved, CT built the virtual environment, modelling the 3D object of the stage to help produce the content. The content was created using 3D software and Notch to provide a fully customisable virtual environment, which saw various elements appear as augmented reality.
He goes on to say: "Having multiple speakers allowed us to mix different solutions between pre-recorded videos and live inputs. We were able to show the speakers from different camera angles while ensuring there was always a view of the graduates, which enabled viewers to watch their reactions and interactions throughout the ceremony."
CT had a ten-day lead time to put this event together, given the time-frame; the use of pre-recorded assets had a range of benefits. Dan Hughes, senior project manager explained: "The primary benefits were control and flexibility. Firstly, it meant that we could optimise each recording, which supported continuity between the virtual environment and the videos playing back within," he commented. "Time-lining pre-recorded assets into the virtual environment gave us the ability to present the graduation days ahead of the final 'live rehearsal' to stakeholders, giving them the opportunity to give feedback and direction."
A key part of our solution was exporting the Notch content into our Disguise GX2C system. Devecchi explained: "This integration enabled us to use the Disguise Camera system to build a sequence of different views and simulate director's cuts for the different cues in the show. The camera system integration gave the audience the perspective that the stage elements and the environment were real, enabling them to feel as though they were attending a live show."
The show was streamed live onto the clients' website and recorded so it could be played back on their website via video on demand.
Stocks commented: "Our operators were able to program the E2 screen management system and media servers as they would in a normal live event set-up from the direction of creatives and showcall. We implemented the 'live' aspects of the show via video conferencing, and we were able to encode real-time confidence monitors to return the live feed back to them, so they watch the show as it happened. Along with a video return feed, we could also communicate with the show participants to give them cues. This approach allowed us to integrate participants into the event from anywhere in the world."
CT integrated its Riedel system to the video conferencing platform to enable the client, crew and remote staff to communicate from anywhere in the world. "We also supplied a Riedel Artist-64 matrix frame, controlling six DSP-2312 desktop panels and six Bolero wireless belt packs," confirmed Rob Turner, integrated networks technical manager. "These units were used by CT crew and clients within the CT virtual studio set-up." A ClearCom HelixNet wired system was also incorporated into the set-up, while Luminex 14R switches were used for distribution of all signal and user interface paths. "The entire set-up was flawless," Turner added. "We had full coverage of the CT facility handled by a single Bolero antenna and crystal clear audio from both the Riedel system and the ClearCom Helix units."
Thanks to these innovative solutions, the class of 2020 got the chance to celebrate their graduation with friends, family and tutors.
20th May 2020
Foundation de ma Vie and LSM Ambiocréateurs Honour Québécoise Heroes with Help from Chauvet
Canada – Every day when health care professionals enter Chicoutimi Hospital, they get ready to face the grim realities involved in caring for patients afflicted with COVID-19. Now, they are also greeted with a rainbow of colours intended as an expression of gratitude from the Fondation de ma Vie (Foundation of my Life) and LSM Ambiocréateurs.
Spearheaded by project leader Ricky Ricken of LSM, working closely with the Fondation de ma Vie, the display covers the entire width of the hospital’s entrance side in brilliant blues, oranges, yellows and purples from a collection of over 70 Chauvet Professional COLORado 1 Tri Tour IP fixtures from LSM’s own inventory.
Placed at the base of the building and on ledges at various heights, the RGB fixtures cast their glow to the top of the hospital’s two the six-story wings. Light from the COLORado units also shines to the top of the complex’s main tower, which at 39 metres is the fourth highest building in Saguenay. The IP rated lights illuminate the building every night.
In keeping with the selfless spirit of co-operation that has brought this community together amidst the pandemic, the illumination project was an all-volunteer effort on the part of LSM, master electrician Gabriel Chaperon and lighting programmer Dany Bouchard, as well as Alexandra Girard, Jean-Philippe Beaulieu and Remi Larouche.
Although nothing can mitigate the challenges that health care heroes face every single day, this colourful expression of gratitude serves as a source of hope, raising spirits with a vivid reminder that this community remains strong together.
20th May 2020
Ayrton Khamsin-S is a Revelation for Mika
UK - The charismatic singer/song writer Mika’s Revelation tour in support of his fifth studio album, My Name is Michael Holbrook, may have been postponed midway through due to the current coronavirus crisis, but it wowed audiences from autumn through to this spring. Lighting designer for the tour was Vince Foster who, with an impressive CV which spans well over 30 years, requires little introduction.
Foster’s design for Mika’s ‘Revelation’ was clean and uncomplicated: plenty of floor lighting, significant numbers of side fixtures and trusses in the most effective of locations. His choice of fixtures was similarly unambiguous: just four different fixtures and overwhelmingly from Ayrton. Alongside around 30 Ayrton Magic Blade-FX fixtures were approximately one hundred and twenty of one of Ayrton’s newest moving heads, Khamsin-S.
“Every moving light is a Khamsin,” opened Foster when we spoke to him about his design. “I have always been a big fan of Ayrton, using a variety of their fixtures over the years and their move into developing moving heads that have that Ayrton combination of feature-rich technology and quality engineering is really exciting. The Khamsin-S are everywhere on the rig: the floor, the side hangs, the ‘B’ thrust stage and on both the stage trusses and the one downstage of the B stage. The rig was designed with input from both Mika and his sister Yasmine. We wanted an unfussy but solid music hall look to allow the audience to focus on Mika himself. The brief was essentially to create something of a ‘Baron Munchausen’ feel, a slightly tongue-in-cheek, comedic atmosphere. He is the consummate performer, a true showman with a very theatrical approach, and a gift to an LD; he is like a peacock – you shine a light on him and he shows off.”
This was the first time that Foster had used an LED light as his primary workhorse as he explained: “I’ve always felt that LEDs are not bright enough for a big, arena sized show but Ayrton’s Khamsin proves that LED has now come of age. Khamsin is a great fixture, it seems to have everything. It is a big beast but very quiet and, as for its features: gobo wheels, animation wheel, two prisms, frosts – I have used them all – and of course the excellent beam range which allows me to use it equally as both a wash and a profile.”
With no video on this show (the stage uses raked rainbow coloured stripes to allude to the new album cover) the lighting was very much central to establishing the visual ambience of the set. Foster used the Khamsin-S colour palette to full effect with the set list based on rainbow colours. “With some colour mixing you can lose intensity, particularly when adding greens, but not with Khamsin. Having that facility in the same fixture that you can use effectively as a key light shows the light’s flexibility. Mika spends a lot of time out on the B stage so we light him essentially in 360 degrees and can use the Khamsins as back key lighting with support from followspots. In situations like that, and for lighting the B stage, the shutters are very useful, sited as they are on stage, for framing set pieces like the drum risers. I also use a single Khamsin as a big back light with a rotating gobo at the upstage vanishing point for his first entrance, and another under a grill at the top of the ramp to light him from beneath.”
Alongside the Khamsin-S fixtures on the rig were nearly thirty of Ayrton’s Magic Blades-FX. “The MagicBlade-FX’s are great,” enthused Foster, “The zoom is fantastic, it can create a really wide back light that is completely beamless, like a wall of light. I have ten up on the mid truss, eight on the floor and nine out on the B stage. On the thrust, they work really well as uplighters and you get great footlight with a nice even fill which added to the theatricality out there. I’m also a fan of the individual cell control; with seven cells you can have the outside one colour, then graduate the palette inwards and then flip it around.
“I am really pleased that I took the option of using the Khamsin-S and the Magic Blade-FX fixtures as the foundation for this design,” concluded Foster. “The Khamsins have proved to me that they are a perfect choice if you are looking for a light that does everything in an arena environment. They have more than met that challenge.”
Ayrton is distributed exclusively in the UK by Ambersphere Solutions.
photos: Sarah Womack/Brilliant
20th May 2020
Danish ‘Melodi Grand Prix’ Dazzles with Hippotizer Karst+
Denmark – Denmark’s annual music competition to find its Eurovision entry reached its big finale in March at Copenhagen’s 16,000-capacity Royal Arena. Known as the Dansk Melodi Grand Prix, hopefuls battled it out against a striking stage design made up of 450sq.m of LED screen, shaped into ever-expanding triangular shapes. These were fed perfectly mapped visuals by a chorus of Green Hippo Hippotizer Karst+ media servers.
Hot shot Hippotizer aficionado 4K Projects, which is based in Copenhagen, was commissioned by Danish national broadcaster Danmarks Radio to project manage the video and lighting aspects of the show. The company’s Mikkel Samuelsen and Balder Thorrud have been involved with Dansk Melodi Grand Prix for a decade, and are well-versed in creating memorable visual feasts.
The 2020 heats were held without an audience, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite this, TV viewers at home were treated to a full production, which went ahead to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Dansk Melodi Grand Prix. All performances were backed by The Antonelli Orchestra, heightening the vibe and spectacle.
“We used four Hippotizer Karst+ media servers with a wall controller for the show, using two as main and two for full backup,” explains Thorrud, who served as Hippotizer operator for the show. “All outputs were connected to DVI matrix for easy switching between main and backup system.
“We love using Hippotizer, especially because the VideoMapper, easy content sync and simple way to connect to a grandMA for control, makes our lives much easier and the visuals more effective.”
Visual control was handled by Michael Havdrup in collaboration with Thorrud.
The 4K Projects team worked with Danmarks Radio to source the Hippotizer and screens from Danish stage lighting supplier, Litecom Group. The staging, lighting and video was designed by Kasper Lange, with visual content by Katja Forup.
“There was a lot of LED screen on this production,” Thorrud continues, “and one of our biggest challenges was hanging them as scene pieces in the right position!”
The Eurovision Song Contest was, of course, cancelled in light of the pandemic. However, Danish Duo Ben & Tan won the Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2020 with their song, ‘Yes’, which has now been released as a single in their home country.
photos: Michael Havdrup / Mikkel Samuelsen
19th May 2020
Robe for Lux Partum Art Installation
Germany – ‘Lux Partum’ – ‘emission of light’ in Latin – was a beautifully sculpted interactive lighting installation and live stream staged at the Motorwerk event space in Berlin, created by lighting and show designer Chris Moylan and his team.
This comprised Lars Murasch, Andreas Schindler, and Matthias Schöffmann together with acclaimed DJ and music producer Paul van Dyk who composed a special soundtrack and played a three-hour live concert during the first weekend.
The work utilised 54 Robe moving lights including MegaPointes, Pointes plus TETRA2 moving LED battens which were installed in the venue with LED screen elements, and all rigged, programmed and set up to be accessed by the public via the https://lighting.stream website and ‘played’ in real-time.
By the end of the ten-day run, over 43,000 visitors from 94 countries had engaged with the art work in 6.355 registered sessions utilising lighting.stream’s bespoke user interface technology. They chose over 200,000 different combinations of lighting and/ video which were viewed over 528,404 minutes of activity.
Visitors could select the colour and patterns of the lighting and video effects as they played out to the music track, changing at pre-determined points to keep the groove flowing harmoniously.
Running over two weekends and the intervening week, Paul van Dyk played a three-hour live set at the Motorwerk on the first Sunday night, enabling his massive fan base to tune into the stream and be part of making the concert visuals look spectacular, each visitor to the site having a three-minute slot.
Chris – like so many others in the industry – was regularly chatting to friends and colleagues, all of whom were getting itchy feet in lockdown, trying to think of some meaningful way of generating positive energy and doing what they love most: designing shows!
He hit on the idea of creating an art piece with light that could be shared and enjoyed remotely and safely by as many people as possible.
He gathered his team – who also happen to be great friends – and they started talking. Matthias is based in Austria and works with Chris extensively on programming light shows, and he developed and energised all the web streaming geekery; Lars helped source the venue via his extensive network of connections and called on rental company TLT Event to provide the kit as well as supplying some himself, including the LED screens and the console. Video expert Andreas Schindler designed and produced all the generative visuals.
The physical starting point was getting the venue. From there, Chris took the Motorwerk’s striking interior and evolved his visual brainchild. The former engineering factory and industrial space built in 1921 is now a heritage-listed building, renovated to retain all the original character and raw elegance to become a charismatic event space.
The main hall stretches over 90 metres long, has a good height and is full of iron columns and RSJ beam-work, so Chris wanted to accentuate the scale and architecture of the space and integrate it into the design.
“It immediately lent itself to a distinctive geometric lighting design,” explained Chris, “and to having beams and LED battens as the lighting instruments.” He adds that it was also relatively easy to rig the lighting in the space utilising the house rigging facilities plus structural elements like the balcony rails and RSJs.
He measured out the room meticulously, and lights and LED video panels were positioned precisely.
In the case of the lights it was so their beams could create a series of closed hexagons running all the way down the hall, optimising the sense of perspective for the webcam position from which remote viewers would see and experience the work.
Using hexagonal geometry as a base also enabled multiple other shapes and patterns in different combinations, all of which looked good together.
Lighting equipment, including some of the 20 Pointes, 20 MegaPointes and 14 Tetra2 bars, were supplied and rigged by TLT Event. Additional Robes were supplied directly from Robe, and the final two MegaPointes needed came from Berlin’s Friedrichstadt Palast Theatre (closed right now but Chris has designed their current show, and the fixtures were from the house rig).
Two rows of MegaPointes deployed on the floor were mirrored by two rows in the ceiling all at exactly the same distance away from each other. Rigged along the middle section just beneath the balcony that traverses the entire length of the hall, were two rows of Pointes immediately above and below one another, with exactly four metres between the top and the bottom MegaPointes and the Pointes.
This set up created the perfect geometric patterns that Chris envisioned.
He has used both fixtures extensively in his work, and likes them for their speed, brightness, and versatility. “For a relatively small amount of lights in a large space, we could make a massive impact.”
A series of LED PARs were installed between each of the columns.
It was his first-time using Robe’s new TETRA2 LED battens, and he was blown away with their brightness and intensity. “They are like monsters,” he exclaimed! “We could not use them at full intensity as it was too much, so they were tweaked down!”
Seven TETRA2s were positioned vertically each side at the back of the room, with one column of 10mm LED screen in the middle to produce a blisteringly bright and dynamic end feature that helped create an illusion elongating the physical space which was especially effective on screen.
Chris enjoyed the “impressive” walls of light that could be created with the TETRA2s and he also included its flower effect in the stream’s viewer options. “It’s a very cool innovation to have this sort of feature on a linear bar.”
The other LED sections were attached to the pillars all the way down the room.
Lighting was all programmed on a grandMA2 console and the generative visuals were created by Andreas using Notch running via a disguise media server which mapped it to the screens playing out via Resolume. When prepping, they visualised all the video and lighting effects on the screens in Depence2 so they knew exactly how they would look when combined.
Considerable time was spent on ensuring that the lighting and video elements would look great together in every different possible combination. What might sound like a simple task was in fact very complex, and required a balance of calculation, experience, and the team’s mutual understanding of each other’s specific disciplines.
Those logging on to the website to ‘play’ the visuals were able to change the colour, shape and angle combinations of cues which were executed at the next musical change, which they could also see coming up.
Getting Paul van Dyk involved was the icing on the cake in many ways. Chris has worked as his lighting designer for many years. He suggested the proposal and like all artists unable to perform live right now, van Dyk was super keen to be involved in something imaginative and fun.
“We had some stipulations about the music track,” explained Chris. “The main one was that there needed to be a lot of shifts and multiple lifts and falls to trigger the (visuals) change commands in the software, and he got it immediately.”
For Paul van Dyk’s pumping live set, Chris was himself on site activating the lighting changes, with guests to the website choosing the colours and positions. He admits to a few sharp intakes of breath when it came to colour combinations, “but that randomness was all part of the fun!”
All the team and the crew from TLT Event loved being on site again and being involved in a show. “You cannot believe how excited we all were to be there and be working together – all socially distanced of course – but there in the venue for real! We are all so passionate about this industry and what we do, so really appreciated the opportunity like never before!”
Apart from Lux Partum being a massive success, the work is most definitely an inspired and brilliant product of the coronavirus pandemic, lighting.stream is a technology with a huge future potential, which Chris and his team fully intend to explore.
Chris concludes: “This has been a great project, however, it’s by no means a replacement for experiencing art and shows in real spaces and in relation to other people. Culture must continue, and people most definitely need haptic experiences in three-dimensional environments.”
photos: courtesy lighting.stream
19th May 2020
Creative BackStage Sets Stage for Drive-In Comedy with Chauvet Professional
USA – With his boyish charm and impish smile, Michael Longfellow bears a passing resemblance to a young Michael J. Fox. That’s kind of fitting, since the comedian from NBC TV’s Bring The Funny had his own “Back To The Future” moment on the night of Wednesday 13 May 13 when he headlined a Drive-In Show.
Longfellow’s appearance wasn’t at a 1960s style drive-in movie theatre, but at the east parking lot of the upscale High Street restaurant and shopping complex. For the people of this area, his show at the “Drive-In Comedy Night” represented the first step in bringing live entertainment back to the USA’s fifth largest city.
Lighting the stage where Longfellow and fellow comics Joe Carden and Mike B Dapper performed was a collection of Chauvet Professional Rogue and WELL Fit fixtures supplied by Creative BackStage. John Garberson, who served as the LD for the show, relied on the fixtures to help enliven the stage and create a comedy club feel with deeply saturated colours and a few well-chosen ballyhoo moments.
At the same time, the lighting also ensured that attention was focused on branding material from the evening’s sponsors, Rick Bronson's House of Comedy and the High Street Association.
“This was a first, a very different experience,” said Garberson of Creative BackStage. “But it was also a lot of fun. You could feel the energy in the air. People were excited. We had the WELL Fits on trees stage left and stage right to create a nice warm glow. The Rogue R2 Washes were also on trees. They gave us evocative stage washes, in addition to creating some punchy aerial patterns at key moments.”
Garberson placed additional WELL Fit fixtures in front and behind the stage. Those in front were used to keep constant light on the prominent sponsor banner. The rear fixtures provided back lighting and also set an inviting tone by lighting the trees behind the improvised stage.
Keeping the stage well lit and maintaining good sight lines was critical, given the distance between the stage and some of the fans at the event, which adhered to strict social distancing guidelines. Cars had to be kept six feet apart and fans were not permitted to get out of their vehicles. The performances were transmitted to vehicle radios over an FM signal.
Although there was no admission charge for the drive-in comedy, fans had to obtain tickets and were encouraged to make a donation to a local food bank when doing so. These tickets “sold out” soon after they became available
Restaurants of the High Street district had take-out food available for fans, providing their businesses with much-need revenue. The event also boosted Creative BackStage’s fortunes, being its first paying project since the COVID-19 lockdown began. As such, it felt good for Garberson and his team, leaving them looking forward to more such gigs down the road.
19th May 2020
United We Stream Draws Energy from Chauvet Professional Fixtures
Germany – Club Culture continues to thrive in Germany even amidst the COVID-19 lockdown. The country’s world-famous night spots may be closed to the public, but they are still reaching out to clubbers thanks to United We Stream.
Run in alliance with ARTE Concert, United We Stream hosts a series of online shows from event organisers and artists that showcase the rich diversity of German club culture. In addition to streaming live DJ sets, live music and other performances, the initiative serves as a platform for discussion sessions, presentations and club culture-oriented films.
The alliance was started to support Berlin’s club culture and expanded internationally. Hamburg was the first city outside of Berlin. It was here that Koyo, the designer behind many Hamburg’s well-known clubs, a group that includes Uebel & Gefährlich, a venue located in an old-World War II bunker, where the livestream show took place.
Aiding Koyo in her endeavor was a collection of Chauvet Professional fixtures. Key among them were 12 ÉPIX Strip IP linear units. “It it was important to be able to show a very different image with every content, which is what our VJ Mateo did with the ÉPIX Strips,” said Koyo. “They are a still fixture of course, but we made them look flexible and moving by having them floating behind the DJ playing.
“The ÉPIX fixtures have a truly beautiful dimming curve which made it possible to have them visually in the dark, making them look like they were floating in the middle of the huge space,” continued Koyo. “The creative positioning gave big variety trough-out the whole four-hour streaming session.”
A pair of Chauvet Professional Maverick MK Pyxis were placed behind DJ area. These fixtures created an endless flow of mesmerizing images with their continuous 360° pan and tilt movement and ring of nine 15W RGBW LEDs.
A challenge Koyo faced when lighting United We Stream was to fill the vast space in the empty club. A concrete 'Smiley' hidden lonely in a corner served as the only 'guest'. Still, Koyo knew her design had to convey the popular club’s famous vibrant vibe to engage viewers.
She created this through her dynamic lighting design and with some help from the team at Uebel & Gefährlich, as well as “the very cool team” behind the video collective Graien.
“For me it was a very unusual situation, since the spaces I light up are normally not empty,” said Koyo. “I had to pay very close attention to the preview monitor next to me, so I can visualise for the camera, not for the people dancing. For me it was very important that the audience is not looking into a black space, which is actually a big contrast here. Because you know, normally we say at techno parties, ‘black is the main colour'!”
Melina Koliofotos of Uebel & Gefährlich, who is also a lighting designer, had this to say about the livestreamed show: “Thanks to creative minds and the right tools, we were able to create an intense visual experience, pleasing not only the team and the artists but also the virtual audience. It was impressive, especially in the current times. We came together as a team.”
Koyo was also than satisfied with the result achieved. “As a crew we had a strong connection, so we were able to build a great result in a relatively short period of time,” she said. “The possibilities we had with Chauvet Professional was a great connection between live lighting and camera performance!”
photos Dennis Poser
18th May 2020
ESPRITES for Family Feud
South Africa – The first South Africa and Ghana editions of the hit TV game show Family Feud, brought to SA and produced by Rapid Blue, were recorded in December and January at the Urban Brew Studios in Johannesburg, with lighting designed by Joshua Cutts and supplied by Blond Productions. This included 12 Robe ESPRITE LED profiles newly purchased by Blond and making their African TV production debut.
The hugely popular American Family Feud show has been syndicated worldwide to over 50 different countries and is one of the longest-running and most popular TV games shows, having started in 1976. Since 2010, it’s been hosted very successfully by Steve Harvey.
Blond Productions, based in Midrand, is a busy South African rental company specialising in supplying lighting, video and audio production to the television, film and commercial sectors.
They asked Josh to come on board working with Mauritz Neethling as his associate LD and collaborated on a joint pitch with scenic specialist Dream Sets and set designer Michael Gill to present a full technical and creative package to Rapid Blue.
Once their bid was selected, a collective decision was made to use the ESPRITES which arrived just in time from Robe’s SA distributor DWR to make the show for which lighting was programmed and operated by Ryan Lombard, who also designed the lighting system.
Some basic style guidelines from the American show were applied to the lighting and Josh also drew inspiration from previous iterations as a formula that had worked well over the years, which included keeping a similar colour scheme. To this, they added some original and innovative aesthetic flourishes making the presentation appropriate for these two African editions.
The two series were shot over a four-week period with up to three episodes recorded per day, so the pace was hectic!
A Prolyte trussing structure was set up in the studio to ground support the set elements which were very geometric and ordered, with a network of trusses flown in the roof to provide lighting positions.
The ESPRITES were used for all the frontlight, their high CRI and accurate shuttering was exactly what was needed from those positions.
Josh enjoyed working with the ESPRITES: “It’s a very high-quality LED profile, with a fantastic light output that makes it extremely easy to get great-looking skin tones on camera.”
It wasn’t a beamy show at all. The set architecture defined the space, set a slick tone and included multiple inbuilt LED elements: 6mm and 2.9 LED and plasma screen surfaces, plus some snazzy LED pixel fixtures integrated onto the set together with multiple LED battens.
The high gloss black floor was very effective and reflective, and placement of light sources was crucial to make this work perfectly on camera.
For Josh, the biggest challenge for lighting was covering the wide area needed to catch all Steve Harvey’s movements – he’s known for energetically using the whole set space – and ensuring that all the different camera angles were covered. Whist doing that, he had to take care not to over-light and distract from the streamlined and super-cool appearance of the set!
In addition to the ESPRITES, there were 72 other Robe luminaires on the rig.
Forty-eight LEDBeam 100s were utilised for rear up-lighting of columns and other set pieces and for backlighting the audience, 24 LEDWash 300s provided general front and backlight and 24 CycFX 4s were positioned for back light onto the contestants.
Blond’s owner and founder Christiaan Ballot is delighted with his latest Robe investment in the ESPRITES. They are an ideal luminaire for Blond with the intensity, high CRI, shuttering, the uniformity of the beam with full hot-spot control and amazing colour mixing.
Apart from all these assets, once he did the maths, the ESPRITE’s transferable LED engine was a financial no-brainer for Christiaan. “Lamp life rapidly gets consumed in the studio by long operating hours and the heat, and 700 hours gets clocked up extremely easily.” He points out that the ESPRITES’ cooling system helps reduces maintenance and increases the longevity of the light source.
Blond already has several hundred Robe moving lights in its inventory, and Christiaan and the team had been keeping eyes on the LED profile market for some time waiting for something good to materialise. “The ROI on these is really excellent, it’s a light I can use all the time,” he commented, hinting at the fact that more ESPRITES will be on order soon.
Ryan Lombard is equally as impressed with the fixtures, commenting that much of the time, he ran them at ESPRITES at between 15 and 40% intensity, enabling the cameras to stop right down and enhance the depth of field and detail of the set. This was one of the looks that Josh specifically sought to achieve with lighting.
The recording was shot with a colour temperature of 48K and with no tungsten sources at all on the rig.
Ryan operated all the lighting using a grandMA2 light console which also fed the set video and graphics via a VPU into a disguise P3 media server.
The technical director was Rudi Boetha and the Executive Producer was Kee-Leen Irvine.
Blond also supplied an L-Acoustics sound system to the series which is currently airing on E.TV on Sunday Evenings in South Africa.
Christiaan really enjoyed the teamwork and modus operandi of the three companies joining forces to create and working in unison to present a total environment. They have worked with Dream sets and Michael Gill similarly on a couple of previous projects, and it’s a modus operandi he certainly intends to peruse in the future.
photos: Louise Stickland