Down By The Bay, Part 2: The Gear

Koert Vermeulen’s lighting design for the Opening And Closing Ceremonies For The Inaugural Youth Olympic Games comprised 1,900 individual fixtures, including automated lights, LEDs, and conventionals. Some of the nearly 700 moving lights in the rig were Clay Paky Alpha Spot HPE 1500s used primarily for frontlight. “My main concern was how many fixtures I needed to get the amount of lux on this position throwing 80m away,” he says. “That is why I used the Alphas for the frontlight; they have power, huge variety of possible effects, and great beam quality.”

Also in the plot was the Martin Professional MAC 2000 XB Beam, marking one of the first uses of the updated fixture. “I feel that the XB Beam is a redefinition and second life for a well-known and trusted workhorse,” says Vermeulen. For the backlight and effects, he relied on Philips Vari-Lite VL3000s and PRG Bad Boy luminaires. “The Bad Boy is very nice,” the designer says. “The output is great, and in fact, it is almost too much. It was my first choice for the backlight because it has an incredible zoom range and for the focus of the gobos.”

In addition, Vermeulen used more than 400 DTS FOS LED units for proximity lighting, over a half mile of LEDs for outlining the set, and 200 LED accent lights on and around the stage. More than 15,000 costumes and props also had integrated lighting, adding to the lighting scheme. Two MA Lighting grandMA2 consoles and a grandMA2 ultra light were used for control. Programmers Paco Mispelters and Jimmy Stas worked with Vermeulen.

Production Resource Group (PRG) supplied lighting and rigging equipment, as well as technical services for the opening and closing ceremonies, including sending a team of 15 people to the site. “This is something I could only do with PRG,” says Vermeulen. “They really helped to solve challenges, and they have an amazing amount of resources. In only two to three days, they can turn around a massive amount of fixtures, which, at one moment on this project, was so crucial.”

Many of Vermeulen’s lights needed to be incorporated into the set itself, so both physical hanging positions and weight had to be carefully considered. Helping him negotiate the physical load restrictions on the floating stage was Nick Eltis, the technical director for the ceremonies. Eltis describes the challenge of the venue itself. “Typically, in a standard stadium, you either have the rigging points already, or you can build the structure you need to create the hanging positions required,” he says. “In this venue, getting the height—getting the right angles—is a huge challenge. Since it is a floating platform, we were quite heavily restricted on what we could actually do in terms of both the weight and the height. It was about finding the balance of what we could achieve from an engineering perspective and what we wanted from a technical and creative perspective.”

Stay tuned for part 3.

Michael S. Eddy has worked in the entertainment technology industry for over 25 years and owns Eddy Marketing & Consulting. He frequently writes about design and technology and can be reached at [email protected].

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