Tom Bairstow On His Video Designs For The Eurovision Song Contest

There is a British joke that illustrates feast or famine by saying that you can wait an hour for a bus, and then six come along all at once. Despite being busy all year, in May, NorthHouse Creative must have felt that it had been hit by the proverbial bus as they handled the two biggest live events in the UK within a week of one another. 

Having finished video design for the Coronation Concert (read about it here) on May 7, NorthHouse, under the creative direction of founder Tom Bairstow, launched straight into the semi-finals and final of the Eurovision Song Contest from Tuesday, May 9, to Saturday May 13. 

We spoke to Bairstow about his work on the project.

Live Design: Can you walk me through the scope of work for Eurovision? 

Tom Bairstow: We designed and created the screen visuals for the Opening and Interval acts as well as all the Broadcast and Screen Graphics across the finals. This included the Scoreboard Graphics, Postcard Transitions and Branded Screen Holding Looks.  We also created the performance visuals for the Grand Final ‘Flag Parade’, Kalush Orchestra’s Opening Performance, ‘The Liverpool Songbook’, ‘Kalush Orchestra’s Opening Performance’ and the Semi-Final performances ‘Be Who You Wanna Be’ , ‘Music of Ukraine’ & ‘United By Music’.

The architecture of this year’s stage, designed by Julio Himede, is eighty percent video panels and surfaces, including the floor, ceiling, and side sections. We created visuals to cover all surfaces including some special set pieces for certain performances. 

LD: What gear did you use?

TB: As with the Coronation, high spec PC’s and Macs were required for a lot of the render work. We also utilized the real time software Notch to save render time on heavy 3D pieces. 

LD: How did you collaborate with the lighting team on this project? 

TB: The lighting in the arena, designed by Tim Routledge, was truly spectacular! We shared recordings from our 3D previz (which mapped our visuals onto a virtual version of the set) with lighting throughout the production process to ensure the two complemented each other. 

LD: What was the biggest challenge?

TB: The scale of the project was huge and took a lot of hard work and dedication from the team to make sure everything maintained a certain standard! However, the biggest challenge of all was memorizing all the 37 delegates' song lyrics, by sitting through a couple of weeks of rehearsals we just about got there! 

LD: Since two massive events took place during the span of a few days, how did you manage onsite crews? 

TB: The NorthHouse team has grown since the beginning of 2023 so we had dedicated teams on both projects! It’s certainly been an intense few weeks, but great ones that we will all remember for a long time!