Israeli singer songwriter Elai Botner & Yaledi Haucutz completed an extensive seven month tour of Israel with some uber-cool lighting created by Mickey Vilensky, who chose an all-Robe moving light rig!
The 12 x BMFL Spots and 24 x Spiider LED wash beams were supplied, together with the rest of the lighting equipment, by Simul Argaman Systems.
Botner is one of the top Israeli artists and Mickey is one of the leading Israeli lighting designers whose colourful career stretches back 34 years. All the skills and talents combined to produce a spectacular show for Botner’s many fans.
Mickey’s idea to have five 6 metre long upstage / downstage ‘finger’ trusses - each positioned 2 metres apart and raked (back-to-front) - was inspired by one of the classic Pink Floyd “Division Bell” tour design of 1994 which had lighting designed by Marc Brickman.
He was impressed by both the geometry of the look and the additional dynamics and flexibility enabled by hanging the lights on the raked metalwork, where they were alternated on each rail of the trusses to balance out the weight.
Mickey loves the power and intensity of the BMFL together with the zoom, the advanced optics and the good range of gobos, all of which make it one of his go-to lights.
“The zoom absolutely stands out from other fixtures” he states, “and the fact that you don’t lose any brightness when adding a gobo or working in the darker colour ranges”.
He likes Spiiders even more, declaring, “It’s a totally brilliant fixture”.
He appreciates the speed and quietness and the super-tight 4 degree zoom in addition to the general versatility of the luminaire. During the tour, he says he only got around to doing a small percentage of the effects and looks he knows he can easily achieve with the Spiiders.
They had three days of production rehearsals at the start of the tour, in which time Mickey and programmer Yahav Tene created over 500 cues in the grandMA2 full size console.
Micky has been using Robe products ever since the brand first burst onto the market in Israel in 2004, and always specs Robe for his domestic and international work. Back then it was a little known brand, but in the intervening years, that has changed dramatically!
“The products have just continued getting better and better over the years” he stated, “it’s obvious the company is in close contact with designers and programmers, and I am sure the impressive trajectory will continue”.
Mickey is in demand as an LD and several of the country’s top artists are among his current clients. His focus is music and rock ‘n’ roll, however he also lights corporate events and installations, bringing his fund of experience to a number of different scenarios. He’s known for his fresh and innovative approach and ability to think ‘out-of-the-box’.
Over the years he also developed a specific modus operandi for himself when running a lightshow which is rhythmic and totally harmonized with the music … ‘dancing on the desk’ as he puts it!
Mickey is based in Ramat Gan, Tel Aviv and has been embracing and enjoying ‘the industry’ since 1983. It all started when aged about 15. He didn’t like school, and one day he was asked by a buddy to help in the set-up and rigging of a musical, an experience from which he emerged with a single minded determination to get into show business.
After leaving school he worked in a pizza parlour and a few other lacklustre jobs before doing army conscription at 18. It was there that he learned about audio and how to be a sound engineer – initially mixing bands who were entertaining on the army bases.
Life was getting more interesting and Mickey started taking a more vocational outlook. The army then sent him to rental company Yeda Kol to further develop his skills, and they also had a lighting division and therefore the opportunity to learn the basics of the trade.
Any spare time and working after hours was spent there expanding his knowledge, a process that included working on shows as a technician, determined to learn as much as possible about light.
In 1988 he was the co-programmer on a large concert, and when the LD was unable to make the gig, Mickey was told he had to step in and operate lights!
The artist was Yehuda Poliker, one of Israel’s biggest and most popular superstars, and the young Mickey rose to the occasion! So much so … that Poliker’s management were impressed enough to hire him to operate for the rest of the tour!
From there his career moved forward quickly and that’s when he streamlined his horizons and focussed on lighting bands, music events and rock ‘n roll shows … which he loved!
Mickey really relishes the art involved and the process of lighting and visual design as a whole – from the initial ideas, the pitch to the client, the plots, drawings and renders … right through to seeing the rig for real onstage. Then feeling the music and the vibes and delivering the show and most of all, the audience reaction.
“I still get goose-bumps when I hear an audience reaction to a lighting cue or some drama that I have helped create with a visual cue,” he says. “It’s such a special feeling to be able to make a lasting contribution to the show and receive such an immediate and emotional response.”
With some of Israel’s leading music stars on his client list, Mickey has worked hard and enjoyed an exciting, colourful and highly rewarding career of which he is proud.
In the last five years he’s expanded his horizons to design lighting for a series of karaoke venues / rooms called “Plug In”.
One of the biggest changes he’s seen over time is the technology. He really appreciates the lighting fixtures now available on the market, and the possibilities that they open up for the imaginative and inquisitive mind!
He was the first person in Israel to actually use Robe’s new MegaPointes in a show … where he managed to persuade local distributor Danor to hire out their two demo fixtures to a production, so now he’s looking forward to using them on a full design.