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Zero 88 Does the Trick for Cirque Enchantment

Zero 88 Does the Trick for Cirque Enchantment
Zero 88 Does the Trick for Cirque Enchantment

UK – Lighting designer Richard Lambert chose a Zero 88 Orb XF desk from Eaton’s popular lighting control brand to control lighting for Cirque Enchantment’s 2017 UK tour.

He wanted a powerful, physically small and quick to programme console for the inaugural tour of an exciting new performance concept which blends the breathtaking audacity of circus acts and aerial performance, high energy choreography and a powerful rock, pop and classical soundtrack, fusing the disciplines of circus, dance and concert performance in one edge-of-the-seat experience.

Produced by Umbrella Productions and directed / choreographed by Stuart Glover, Richard was delighted to rise to the challenges of tight get-ins, an expedient sized lighting rig which had to stretch a long way to cover the show’s varied dynamics – and fit into a small van!

The Orb XF sat right at the heart of the lighting scheme. Richard specified it because it’s his favourite desk for fast programming. “When time is tight, you have to move very fast on site at each venue,” he explained, “and the Orb XF has many assets including offline functionality so I could programme stacks, or set up groups and palettes utilising pockets of down time.”

He also likes the fact that it feels like a busking desk, however you can record on the fly, another benefit when working in short time frames.

He made the most of the ‘learn’ function on this show, there the Orb XF records the follow time of the music automatically, so while it’s not directly synched to the backing track, if the process is started at the correct moment, it will stay synched in time via an internal clock.

“The Orb’s cue list also allows for fast timing changes to be applied by parameter, so no lengthy keystrokes or key combinations are needed to get it sharp.”

Richard also specified a Zero 88 FLX as a portable and practical backup console.

With the Orb XF, he was controlling the touring rig comprising 12 GPL X1s and eight GLP X4Ss, five Chauvet Intimidator LED 350 Spots and a pair of Claypaky HPE 300s for the moving lights, plus two ChromaBank LED battens, all running over ArtNet.

These, together with the Orb XF, were supplied by west London based lighting rental company, Entec. At each venue, this specials package was integrated with the house top rigs.

In addition to the sheer scope and variety of drama involved in the performance, other lighting challenges included a host of specifics related to the unique nature of the acts.

The rope aerialist and his colleague on stage spinning the rope had to be able to clearly see one another, so they could co-ordinate the angle and speed of the rope.

The archer – mixing acrobatics and dance – stood on her hands and pulled a bow with her feet that shot a flaming arrow across stage, so she could not be blinded by any lights. However, her act builds to the music so there were multiple opportunities for lighting sequenced with the music, all of which needed to be behind her.

For artists using the Cyr Wheel, depth perception is critical for when they are rolling around and pivoting up and down from the floor, so no gobo patterns during these acts. There were moments when the lights could be moved to interact with a singer also on stage simultaneously, contrasted with others, where the look had to be static for the Cyr Wheel to function safely.

While the fire acts are fun and don’t need so much light, they need just enough and from the right places to silhouette the performer and accentuate the black smoke emanating from the ignited objects as they are thrown and juggled.

Jugglers themselves prefer to be lit from sides and back, but either way, it’s vital that they can see the objects they are performing with, so lighting with minimal softlights is required.

All these elements and many more had to be taken into consideration when lighting the show.

Over his career, Richard has been involved with many circus shows from a lighting technical aspect, but this was the first time he’d actually lit one himself. “It was a huge learning curve and highly enjoyable,” he started, “and so when I start describing some of the parameters, you can understand why I needed a lighting desk with plenty of flexibility.”

He programmed the Orb XF during a production rehearsal period. He brought in a sample of his specials package plus some hypothetical front moving lights and side floor fixtures, so he could have a selection of house rig cues already existing, which could be cloned and tweaked as they reached the first – and subsequent – theatres.

At the first venue they had a load-in day, technical, and then show, so he had to have fixtures paletted and all ready to ‘add and go’. This time-efficient idea worked even better than anticipated.

He programmed on the Orb XF and utilized its eight DMX universe capacity. Ethernet was run to backstage where ArtNet was converted to DMX via a Zero 88 EtherN.8, a 19 inch rack device offering flexible and reliable Ethernet to DMX/RDM data conversion.

This brought adaptability with the house rigs, three universes of DMX for Richard’s touring rig, another universe for house dimmed sources, and then others were available for elements like house star cloths which could be patched into any of the spare universes.

Richard thinks Zero 88 has a great range of lighting control products from entry level to professional, all well priced and straightforward to use and understand. “The products have really come a long way in recent years,” he commented.

The Cirque Enchantment tour was extremely well received and Richard loved being part of the team, enjoying the opportunity to learn new techniques, the great on-the-road camaraderie and working with a hugely imaginative team which also included set designer Becky Athewes.

photos: Umbrella Productions

29th September 2017

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