Being involved creatively with innovative emerging artists is always exciting, and lighting designer Matthieu Larivee has relished the chance to work with American singer / songwriter Børns on his current ‘Blue Madonna’ tour, which sees the interesting young star receiving plenty of attention and acclaim.
Matthieu decided to put 15 x Robe MegaPointes right at the heart of the lighting design.
The founder and artistic director of Lüz Studio in Montreal also designed set and lighting for Børns’ first tour, ‘Dopamine’, having received a call after his management saw and heard good things about his creativity for indie rockers, Broken Bells.
For that first Børns’ tour there was no LD on the road, so Matthieu produced a design and spec which could be followed by local LDs.
With Børns’ rising popularity, everything has moved up several levels on the production for this one, and the visual starting point for the Blue Madonna design was a dynamic backdrop to provide the basic canvas.
Before starting, Matthieu meticulously scanned all the venues on the itinerary and identified the largest and smallest to give him a scalability ratio. After meeting Børns and his management to receive a brief, he produced the first ideas.
The Blue Madonna album has a summer LA vibe with an intricate mix of poetic, trippy, modern and other musical genres. With this multi-layering in mind, Matthieu wanted to be able to create these layers, to illustrate the trippy parts with texturing and graphic patterns, add some theatrical mystery … and rock-out for the contemporary numbers.
Projection was out due to the size differential of the venues, so he decided on a very cool backdrop with a collage of over 1000 acrylic tropical leaves, handcrafted by theatrical artisans in Montreal. The leaves are applied organically to camp netting with gaps in some places to allow back light through, and they are painted gray so they can catch, reflect and absorb all the different color variants produced by the lighting at different times making it effectively a living, breathing effect reflecting the mood and rhythm of the lightshow.
The 15 MegaPointes are central to the whole stage design, and Matthieu was not prepared to make any compromises - MegaPointes were THE fixtures he wanted.
“They are bright, compact, and incredibly versatile, the projection is perfect, they can make excellent patterns, frost and animation effects, 3D gobo animations, beam shapes …. And the speed is incredible. Going from a super-tight to a massively wide beam with a prism is simple and hugely effective. They are an excellent luminaire.”
He chose MegaPointes after seeing a demo a few months previously, after which he knew it was the “ideal” fixture for this show. “The quality of light is great, no hot-spots … lovely smooth fades – it’s been extremely well designed.”
The MegaPointes – being provided by lighting vendor Upstaging – are the only profile fixtures on the rig and are prominent throughout the set.
Four are rigged on the downstage truss and used for projection onto the leaves – including a custom gobo designed especially for the tour – with five on the upstage truss for back-lighting and effects, and four on the sides.
Matthieu has used Robe products in his work for some time including BMFLs, which he also loves, and these together with Spiiders, Pointes and PATT 2013s appear regularly on his lighting plots.
He thinks Robe is in a good place right now, producing fixtures with excellent quality of light with flexible and useful features. Strong quality light sources with precision like BMFLs are good for the big shows – he especially likes BMFL Wash with its beam shaper which is equally good for rock ‘n’ roll and TV.
The biggest challenge of the Blue Madonna tour so far has been adjusting and scaling the show set up day to day, but he – his own harshest critic - Børns and the management team are all very happy with the results.
The lighting – which includes other fixtures for side and rear illumination and units on the floor beaming onto the backdrop and the artist - are controlled via a grandMA2 console which was programmed by Matthieu and Jean-Sebastien Guilmette and operated on the road by lighting director Mason Ford.
About Lüz Studio
Lüz Studio is a full design production company comprising 15 talented individuals who are busy designing lighting, production and video content for all types of live entertainment. ‘Lüz’ stands for lights …because all their creations are all lighting based. Set designs are evolved specifically to be lit or will emit light themselves, video content is a lightsource and is cohesive with the rest of any production design.
Matthieu’s background is in lighting design. He started as a lighting tech in 1996 and rapidly became an LD working in various fields including programming for theatre shows, comedy, musicals, concerts, raves, corporate events and television productions.
In 2005 video elements were becoming regularly integrated into Matthieu’s designs and along with that came media server programming – a rapid learning curve to avoid using generic content that came with the media server! He started to collaborate with a graphic designer … and Lüz Studio was born the same year.
The initial idea was not to be a full-blown company as such but to be more resourced in order to achieve his designs. However, 13 years later, Lüz’s success has seen it grow into a respected powerhouse for imagination driven designs.
Until 2012, Matthieu was still fully ‘hands on’ with all the designs while directing the rest of the Lüz project, including directing video content. He’s designed multiple Canadian shows, European concert tours, two Cirque du Soleil productions, one of which, ‘Amaluna’ is still touring. His theatre work continues in both Canada and the USA.
As the workflow increased, other designers have joined for lighting and programming and Matthieu has stepped into an artistic directorial role. He’s still fully involved in each collaboration and oversees the design, the first ideas, supervision of lighting plans and assisting in programming and creating video content – together with the appointed team members - on all the projects.
Lüz Studio works on around 50 diverse projects a year… from very short to extremely long term.
Photos: Steven Carlson