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Matthieu Larivée And Lüz Studio Call On Chauvet Professional for Reba McEntire Tour
Canada – “Absolutely Magical!” These words, or some variant of them have been used time and time again by music critics to describe Reba McEntire’s performance on her current arena tour. But the magic that’s captivating sell-out crowds doesn’t spring only from the Country Music Hall of Fame legend’s elegant stage presence and warm, enchanting vocals, also casting a powerful spell on audiences is the colourful, richly textured 3D set created by the team at Lüz Studio
Their production design does more than provide an attractive backdrop for the beloved star’s performance, using artificial intelligence and other tools, it creates an immersive environment that she lives in during her 100-minute set. At times, the setting seems so real that it looks as if the performance is taking place 'inside' an actual structure instead of on a stage.
Critical to making this look work is the position of the set’s big video screen in relation to the stage, the band and the artist herself, according to Lüz Studio’s Matthieu Larivée, the tour’s lead designer. “Positioning the lighting rig in this set-up is very important,” he explained. “When the lighting truss structures are too far away from the screen, the screen looks like an actual screen, which is not what we want. Our aim is to use the riser and lights in a way that loses the edge of the screen; that’s when something special happens. Sometimes content creators are lighting their assets with soft boxes. The stage should not be lit this way if you want 3D to work. You need to create shade, drama and then match it to the stage lights.”
Accomplish this requires a dedicate effort on the part of a lot of highly skilled creative people in Larivée’s view. “David Rondeau who’s been at Luz for 15 years and helped me choose fixtures and check angles, has been instrumental on this tour,” he said. “Also grateful to Pierre-Luc Bedard our programmer and Andy Knighton our LD plus many more.”
Helping the Lüz design team accomplish this impressive look are 30 Chauvet Professional Maverick MK3 Profiles, which, like the rest of the lighting rig, were supplied by Bandit Lites. “We used the Mavericks for all of our floor units,” said Larivée. “We wanted to have the same fixture on floor to be able to have only one language. Because we are playing arenas, we wanted 220 degree sightlines so when we do a single gobo look to extend the video content, it looks immersive. This is definitely what we got with these fixtures.”
In addition to adding depth to the stage with gobo patterns, the Maverick MK3 Profiles were used to create beautiful monochromatic palettes. “I’m a monochromatic guy,” said Larivée. “I like to use a single colour wash and a single no colour backlight on the artist. The colours in this tour were chosen based on the video, not necessarily to match the colour but to be within the same family.”
The immersive environment that the Lüz team created on stage changes and flows over the course of the concert to reflect the mood of the performance in fresh, original ways. At times, this setting seemed scenic and tightly focused, at others it expanded to have other stars, such as Brooks & Dunn and Vince Gill join Reba McEntire virtually on stage through the massive video wall.
Speaking of the mutable setting, Larivée noted: “When we approach a show’s design phase, we think like scenic designers and lighting designers. So, for a song like “Walk On,” which talks about hope, we won’t do traditional motion design. Our approach in that case is to create a musical set piece. We did this by designing an art deco set with rays that evoke hope. The set piece is then lit for a concert because we need to support the dynamics of the music.
“Sometimes our scenic approach does not require an actual set,” continued Larivée. “For instance, with the song “When The Lights When Down In Georgia,” there’s an iconic music video illustrating a projected film about the story of a murder. Since Reba is on stage and it’s not a music video, we proposed to use a live tracking digital beam of light that would project her live on camera.”
In such scenes, the audience is not watching a flat screen, but is instead seeing the artist become part of a dynamic 3D panorama. This in no way upstages the artist, said Larivée, rather it enlarges her presence and makes the show come even more alive for fans and therein lies the magic.
photos: Michael Ares Photography
6th December 2022
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