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EXPO 2020 and Follow-Me with Woodroffe Bassett Design

EXPO 2020 and Follow-Me with Woodroffe Bassett Design

UAE – In September 2021, Dubai saw the beautiful opening ceremony of Expo 2020 as it began to host the worlds largest Expo event. From October 2021 till March 2022, Expo 2020 welcomed and hosted 192 participating countries to be a part of the journey. The long awaited event was focused on ‘Connecting Minds and Creating the Future’ which was to be explored through the themes of sustainability, mobility and opportunity with each of these themes having its own district. Adam Bassett and Simon Fraser from the lighting design consultant company on Expo 2020, Woodroffe Bassett Design, chose for Follow-Me remote follow-spot and performer tracking solutions to be installed and used in three of the venues, The Al Wasl Plaza, the Jubilee Stage and the Dubai Millennium Amphitheatre.

Al Wasl Plaza is a 67 metre tall, 130 metre diameter structure with 252 video projectors and an immersive sound system. With a brief to transform the spectacular garden space into a venue, WBD designed a house lighting rig that is integrated into the structure with the clear direction not to detract from the beauty of the architecture. This space transformed throughout the day and night to become the most beautiful canvas for the Woodroffe Bassett Design team to be creative in.

Placing manned followspots into Al Wasl Plaza was not possible and so WBD researched a remote controlled solution that would be easy to operate, work in a 360° environment with numerous changing levels and be usable with pick ups of up to 130 metres. Having reviewed a

number of options, WBD worked with Dutch manufacturer, Follow-Me BV to develop a custom

solution that met these challenging requirements. Subsequently the system has been upgraded to also mask around 3-dimensional scenic elements.

The Follow-Me custom system was operated by a team of ten for the opening ceremony. Each operator had two monitors with a live feed from two cameras, ensuring full coverage of the 360° performer area in 3D space. Aside from the design for the EXPO opening event in the AL Wasl Plaza, WBD were asked to provide the lighting design for the EXPO Daily Productions in the venue. During Expo the team executed a number of ambitious shows in the Al Wasl Plaza. By the end of March 40 daily production shows had been opened.

WBD established a separate team specifically focused on the daily productions in Al Wasl Plaza led by principal designer Terry Cook. Terry was supported by Fraser Walker as his dedicated programmer. Daily production were produced by Artist In Motion from Australia under their head of creative Richard Linsay. Terry insured all options for followspot application were available to hand, patching a total of 167 fixtures from various manufactures as follows, 84 Ayrton Domino, 16 Ayrton Domino LT, 14 Ayrton Perseo and 53 Elation Proteus Maximus, into the Follow-Me show file.

The Follow-Me products were supplied and operated by Italian rental company Agora, the lighting supplier for Al Wasl Plaza.

The Jubilee Stage lighting design was inspired by a contemporary large music festival main stage designed to facilitate music performances, headline talent, spoken world, dance and comedy acts. 200 plus moving fixtures consisting of Robe BMFL Wash XFs, Ayrton Khamsins, Elation Proteus Maximus, Robe Magapointes and Robe Spiiders. BMFL-LTs were used as FOH followspots utilising the Follow-Me 3D SIX system remote followspot system. Fixtures and Follow-Me system were here provided by German based company Neuman and Muller.

The final venue hosting a Follow-Me system was Dubai Millennium Amphitheatre. This smaller and more intimate venue was another stage designed to be multi-purpose, with an emphasis on theatrical events. The DMA lighting design was inspired by a modern large scale opera theatre. It should be able to facilitate dance, music performances, spoken word and comedy acts. 180 plus moving fixtures consisting of Martin Viper Performances, Martin Viper Wash DX, Martin MAC Aura XBs, Elation Proteus Maximus and Robe Megapointe were installed, 54 of which were added to the Follow-Me patch to facilitate flexibility in fixture choice for follow-spot operation and scalability to match performer numbers per performance. The Follow-Me system and fixtures were provided by Neumann and Miller.

Of their choice for Follow-Me as the remote followspot systems, Woodroffe Bassett Design’s Terry states: “Having the flexibility with Follow Me was critical in the success of the daily shows, in one show Terry recalls over 100 spot cues where the system used over 300 lights and performed perfectly. The added feature of masking a stage prop or scenic item meaning the Follow Me system knew when an object was in its path was extremely useful.”

photo: Ptarmigan

1st July 2022

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