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Alicia Keys' Freedom of Impression

Alicia Keys' Freedom of Impression

Alicia Keys in action with the impressions on her recent tourAlicia Keys' 2010 Freedom Tour of North America and Europe has seen a stunning set design from Baz Halpin and Chris Nyfield, using multiple GLP impressions for the first time.

Running until early summer the tour was designed to promote Keys' 2009 album release, The Element Of Freedom.

Carrying much the same production as on the American leg (the prime difference being the scaling down of the nine video screens to five), the show has been programmed by Bryan Barancik (of Luxious Design) who has been with the tour from the beginning, and has been tasked with bringing the best out of Halpin's creative concept.

The set designer was first shown the compact LED washlight by GLP's Director of Key Global Players, Mark Ravenhill, when he was searching for small fixtures to be placed on top of the curved set pieces. “I needed something light and bright — and the impressions fitted the bill.”

Bryan Barancik was already a convert, having seen them for the first time on the Billy Joel/Elton John tour last year. “But I had not used them personally until the touring production, Star Wars In Concert, [where he was Associate Lighting Designer]; they are truly a work horse,” he says.

“What is interesting is that in the case of both Star Wars and Alicia Keys the impressions were used as important scenic lighting elements … that is, they were integrated into the scenery because of their size, weight (just 16.5 lbs), and performance.”

In fact the show delivers a complexity of visual effects. The impressions sit on top of 24 curved aluminium poles set on the top riser and protruding from the band risers. The set also incorporates the different LED screens, each on its own automation line and flown by cable winches on individual lighting headers, under three lighting trusses.

The impressions, which deliver their punch from 90 high-powered RGB LED's, serve three distinct functions, states Baz Halpin. “They are used as side lighting for the band, as well as for the dancers downstage and on the upstage riser. They also light the curved pipes upon which they were placed as well as providing a great beamy backlight.”

In view of the brightness of the screens the impressions are expected to punch above their weight. “For the majority of the show, we have had to run the screens at 30% to keep them aligned with the rest of the stage,” says Bryan Barancik. “Fortunately the impressions are bright enough to play along nicely with 1200W wash and spot fixtures as well as the screens.”

And of course, in addition to their beam strength the impressions provide a strong visual element since the curved pipe design — with the impressions mounted on top — allows for an abundance of looks, with differing angles and shapes providing strong aesthetic variations.

According to Bryan Barancik, the beginning of the show creates a curtain-raising effect, repositioning the screens very slowly and deliberately. “But, one of the best uses of the screens and lighting dynamic is in the encore, Empire State. All the screens move from/to different random positions, while the lighting travelling on the headers is grouped in slow movement and slow color fades. There is an enormous amount of depth created by this.”

All the impressions used on the tour were from the inventory of PRG, who provided the lighting production support.

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