Keeping The Peace And Varying The Pace For Eurovision Lighting

Belarus performed with projected wolves. (Photo Thomas Hanses, EBU)

When the scope of work is to light 43 separate performers, including a naked man with wolves, in front of a television audience of 200 million, the event can only be the annual Eurovision Song Contest (ESC). ESC has become such a huge international event that this year Australia was allowed to enter, and the competition was broadcast outside the Eurovision region across Asia and North America. The Swedes take it particularly seriously and this year’s entry was chosen after a six-week, 11-truck tour for all the competitors.

Lighting designer Fredrik Jönsson, assisted by Emma Landare, is no stranger to the Eurovision universe, having designed Eurovision 2013 and the national competition to vote for the Swedish entry for the last 16 years. Jönsson's responsibility for this year’s broadcast at the Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm, Sweden was to support each delegate’s song, while also keeping the television audience happy and the mood in the arena at peak hysteria throughout the long night.

Photo Anna Velikova (EBU)

He began by designing a rig to complement the set, designed by Frida Arvidsson and Viktor Brattström. He says, “The size and shape of the set reminded me of the old designs from the big ‘90s touring bands, like Queen, Def Leppard, and Bon Jovi”. Jönsson saw the set as masculine and geometric with sharp lines and a deep perspective so he knew curved trusses and round shapes wouldn’t work. He says, “It had to speak the same language with straight lines and a bold statement.” To accomplish this, he rigged fixtures in groups of six or eight above the stage, with one long line of 56 Clay Paky Sharpy fixutres that actually prevented camera movement all the way to the back of the stage, but he felt it was essential to get the old-school look. The design was also a reaction against previous Eurovision finals that tended toward more LED-supported pop looks. “It was my mission to have a big-ass lighting rig and have it be visible in the frame.” he laughs, “As long as you keep the same language as the set, straight lines and angles, you can do that.”

Photo Anna Velikova (EBU)

The fixture package came from Litecom, and the team in Stockholm for the event included Girts Putelis, key account manager; Balder Thorrud, technical manager; Michael Nielsen, senior service technician; Carsten Jacklel, Cyberhoist manager; Lasse Thrane Bak, logistics, and Mathias Sonntag, rigging and Cyberhoist manager.

Thorrud says, “Jönsson came to our facility to play around with the fixtures so he could try out everything before making a final choice. He had an idea in his head, but he was able to compare units and try out different lenses.” The main considerations for fixtures were throw—the Globe Arena is a huge space—having enough punch to overpower the huge amount of LED when necessary, and color temperature.

Scattered across the straight trusses over the stage Jönsson chose Clay Paky Scenius units because, he says, “They have very sharp optics, and color rendering is good, and they are white, not blue-white. The Osram bulb [1,400W OSRAM discharge lamp] is a good development for television because there is no greenish tint.”

The artists' green room was out in open view of the audience. (Photo Getty Images/Nigel Treblin, Stringer)

For the green room section of the arena where the artists were on camera during voting the designer chose Robe BFML Blades for the same reason, good color consistency, and correction.

(Check out the lighting plot here.)

Photo Getty Images (Michael Campanella, Stringer)

There were pools of Ayrton MagicDot-R units built into the stage deck, and both Clay Paky Sharpys (308) and Sharpy Wash 330 units (166) mostly overhead. The LED wall produced a large amount of light, but Jönsson says, “It tends to be a bit flat on camera, but we had an army of [Clay Paky] Mythos coming out of it for punch.”

Stay tuned for much more on the designs of this production, and check out our full Project in Focus on Eurovision, and stay tuned for more coverage, sponsored by SHS Global.

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