The band at the heart of popular Belgian TV series Ghost Rockers – produced by Studio 100 and syndicated throughout Europe – hits the road for a series of gigs around Belgium this autumn … complete with a fresh rock-tastic lighting design by Belgian design studio Painting with Light’s Paco Mispelters.
One of Paco’s starting points was the practical consideration of different sized venues on the tour, so from the outset, the look and the lighting rig had to be scalable.
The audience is young and the music is lively pop-rock, so he needed lots of dynamics, colour and vitality! Added to that, there is a narrative to the set – the show is directed by Tijl Dauwe so some strategic tricks were required, including a classical touch of theatrical magic … a Pepper’s Ghost!
With no set as such, apart from some low stairs and a couple of risers, Paco also needed to create additional structural elements, and proved that 48 active Showtec Sunstrips upstage and a bit of imaginative programming can go a long way!
The Sunstrips were rigged in 10 continuous and broken columns, and to four vertical trusses at the back.
Behind this – far upstage - the band’s scenic logo is rigged and illuminated with its own set of LED PARs.
All this combines to bring a depth and a sense of three-dimensionality to the space.
The Pepper’s Ghost effect is created by an area of LED floor on which the ghosted character (from the theatre) appears, and this image is bounced to the audience via a screen immediately above centre stage, angled at 45 degrees.
This gives the distinctive and authentic ghost-like appearance … which gave the effect its name.
The male Pepper’s Ghost character appears twice, one time as a youngster during the search for his long lost partner – also a virtual character – and once during a sequence when he is physically aged via the projection content!
Overhead, four motion controlled trusses provide more contrast in architecture and definition of the performance space.
Having an effective Pepper’s Ghost onstage entailed extra care when lighting the band as it was essential not to reveal any of the apparatus – the screen or its frame.
Paco choose Robe Spiider LED wash beams as his primary wash fixtures. He commented that they were ideal for this tour with its catchy music and enormous energy, with eight Spiiders positioned at the back on the vertical trusses and the other eight on the overheads.
He built on these base washes and looks utilising 21 Robe Pointe multi-purpose moving lights, six deployed on the floor in front of the stairs and four more upstage of the risers that assisted the set’s 3D appearance.
The other 11 Pointes were on the overhead rig in two layers, a line of seven and a line of four fixtures.
They were used for a plethora of effects and specials, for solos and other unique moments in the performance. “It’s a hugely versatile light,” stated Paco. “Using the frosts, it became an excellent wash as well as a beam and spot fixture with an impressive array of gobo choices, still powerful and punchy even when combining multiple effects”.
As the main band keys and profiles, he chose Claypaky Alpha Wash 1500s, three on the front truss and two further upstage, overhead for drums and keyboards.
Ten single-cell blinders on the rear towers provide additional accenting, and the trusses are all toned with LED PARs fitted inside.
The six Chauvet Geyser vertical-jet smoke machines with inbuilt LEDs are another special – four on the floor and two on the rig, and adjacent to the ones on the floor are four flame jets. All of these are controlled via the grandMA2 light console and used for extra exuberance during the gigs!
The rig was completed with some conventionals - fresnels in cold and warm shades of white - as a general stage wash.
The lighting kit is being supplied by leading Belgian rental company Phlippo Showlights, and the control, including a Christie Pandora’s Box media server, by Painting with Light.
Paco enjoyed the challenges of creating lighting and set architecture from thin air. With a young audience, the visuals have to be fast-paced, constantly moving and fresh throughout, so fixture choice was carefully calculated.
He also had to make sure that the band - rather than the lighting – remained the focus of attention!
“It was all about adding value and not taking over the performance,” concluded Paco. For this production, he was assisted by design associate Carlo Zaenen, video programmer Katleen Selleslagh and programmer and operator Arjan Grootenhuis, who is out on the road as lighting director with the tour.
Photos: Frank Lambrechts of Picturesk