Paul Normandale produces inspired â€˜peek-a-boo' set behind louvred panels
Lite Alternative's Paul Normandale has designed the six floor-mounted impression XL LED heads into an elaborate motion controlled set.
His company also fielded a further nine impression 120RZ Zooms from their inventory — adding to the fixtures they first incorporated into the set design for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs earlier in the year (all fixtures supplied by AC Entertainment Technologies). Like the XL's these were mounted at the back of the stage, and blasted their light through four 8 x 8 sections of spinning aluminum louvre shutters, lifted on a Kinesys K2 motion control section.
After a three-year break, the New York-based Scissor Sisters were clearly seeking something more sophisticated than a disco lighting set — but GLP's LED washlights still had to keep company with a pair of 13W lasers, confetti machines and conventional automated spots and washes in this riotous spectacular.
Tasked with animating Paul Normandale's creative set — incorporating raunchy Mapplethorpe photos within the backdrop screens — was experienced lighting director Glen Johnson, who has worked with many of the world's leading touring acts (and automated lighting fixtures).
He immediately noticed not only the brightness of the GLP XL — with 240 Luxeon LEDs it is almost three times as bright as the smaller impression — but the speed of response and a smoothness of flicker-free dimming quite unlike the â€˜stepped' effect of other LED lights he had used.
The cold and warm white capabilities (variable between 3200K and 7200K) was another feature he was able to exploit via the color temperature channel in the fixture control facilities as well as white and CTO on the color wheel.
“We find we can get most of what we need from the color temperature channel,” he said.
Paul Normandale observed that the impression XL can function as a powerful beam light although his ambitious design had called for a conventional washlight.
Performance wise, he was in no doubt. “There is not a great deal of space behind the louvres, but depth wise these are tiny.” Although the combination of XL's and 120RZ's dominate the back lighting they are keeping company with conventional automated overheads, some keylights and four double i-Pix BB4 washlights (fitted with barn doors) — not to mention the lasers, which were supplied by SFX of Chicago and operated by David Kennedy.
This is Paul Normandale's first time out with the Scissor Sisters though he has designed for Coldplay, stable mates in the Dave Holmes management roster, which created the introduction.
“This time they wanted to get away from â€˜disco' and wanted a darker look … something more structured. It's quite a flamboyant show but the premise is like a â€˜peek-a-boo' set.”
At Brixton Academy's warm-up dates the six floor-mounted XL's acted as cyc lights (with the louvres down) and then backlit the five piece band fronted by Ana Matronik and Jake Shears once the Kinesys system had raised the louvred sections, mounted on a sub truss, and â€˜parked' at variable heights (over a full travel distance of 27ft).
Glen Johnson is not the first to remark that the impressions remind him a lot of the old fast mirror scanning effects, and that the power generated enables it to produce an excellent strobing effect. “It's an extremely fast head, really small and light so you can do things that would not be possible with conventional moving heads. They are extremely responsive — and the dimmer is pretty damn good.”
He is also impressed with the colors which he tends to use individually, for example working on a CTO look for one song, moving to CTB quarter strength on another … and then finally to a red range.
Lite Alternative have enjoyed a growing relationship with GLP's impression family since Mark Ravenhill, GLP's director, Global Key Players, first introduced them to the company when Paul Normandale was designing a show for Antony & The Johnsons. “Everyone was looking for an LED product that was quick and stable — and as soon as Mark arrived it gave GLP a huge presence,” said the designer. “Now these impressions are being used everywhere.”
While this rig remains with the band until July 22, away from Europe production will pick up impressions locally before upscaling to arena shows from October 20 — when further impression XL and 120 RZ Zooms will be added to the set.
Summarised Mark Ravenhill, “Lite Alternative have always been a very progressive company, and having a rental house in the north of England with such a wide range of our inventory is very gratifying.”
For further information, please contact GLP US at [email protected]