ESC Official Technical Supplier, Ampco Flashlight of Utrecht, supplied a trilogy of Ayrton fixtures types for the 65th Eurovision Song Contest Final in Rotterdam in May 2021. 180 Ayrton Huracán-X, 64 Ayrton Karif-LT and 140 Ayrton MiniPanel-FX LED fixtures were available for lighting designer, Henk-Jan van Beek of Light-h-Art, to use in his show design.
With 39 countries and 55 scenes to create and programme different looks for, van Beek looked for a ‘workhorse’ fixture that would give him a lot of flexibility, and he found it in Ayrton Huracán-X. “We chose Huracán-X because it gave us all the power, possibilities and creativity in one fixture and we used every feature of it,” he says.
Van Beek limited his palette of fixtures to 5 or 6 types for the entire production with fixtures that would blend well together to give a unified look across the A and B stages and whole auditorium. To this end, he also added Ayrton MiniPanel-FX and Karif-LT fixtures to his inventory.
“There was a lot of motion in the design,” he explains. “Forty of the Huracáns were on extendable drop arms over the A stage with another 40 units rigged between the drop arms. I could use these to shape the stage without infringing on the clean lines of the massive LED backdrop, or close in on the artists for more intimate looks.
“In addition, fifty-eight Huracán-X fixtures were calibrated to a Follow-Me tracking system so we could use them as key lights and followspots on the artists,” says van Beek.
There were two large revolving doors in the upstage LED wall, the reverse of which were covered in a matrix of MiniPanel-FX, each of which had a small mirror fixed to the back of it for reflection effects. “We had a lot of compliments about the MiniPanels - they are amazing fixtures which fitted precisely into the custom-made set piece and integrated perfectly, so the doors became like huge impressive fixtures in their own right.”
“I used many configurations of the individual ‘pixels’ - there so many variations just from the face of the unit – and the mirror on the back certainly added another dimension,” says van Beek. “There was one special moment at the end of the Switzerland entry when the doors were rotating and the MiniPanel-FX fixtures were turning over and over in a cascade of continually rolling MiniPanels, flashing the lights and mirrors alternately. It was a really nice effect I used a couple of times.”
“The Karif-LT were perfect as smaller fixtures located in clusters on goal posts around the arena and upstage behind the revolving doors,” he says. “They were used mainly for effects and creative backlighting, which was especially effective for the artists’ entrances, while the auditorium units gave us a useful alternative to the laser line effects, with plenty of punch and colour for bumps and effects, and handled the 25m throw distance from the FOH balconies with ease.”
“One of my favourite lighting states was actually in the second semi-final during the interval act, The Power of Water by Davina Michele & Thekla Reuten where the Huracáns were integrated in the FollowMe system to follow the dancer in motion. It was spectacular to see,” says van Beek. “They delivered a beautiful tone and quality of light, even from the farthest side lights at more than 25m distance and the effect we achieved from having the fixtures rigged over the three tiers of the venue gave the most fantastic look with every angle covered. I knew from the outset that the interval act would need water effects, which was a major influence on which fixture I chose. Huracán’s effects wheel worked perfectly with the mix of gobos and colours to give a very nice atmosphere which got excellent reviews.”
So which fixture impressed van Beek the most? “Huracan because it did what it had to do,” he says. “I was worried about not having enough light to compete with the screen but Huracan was plenty bright enough and mixed perfectly with the rest of the rig. I am very happy with all the features: the effects wheel, the blades (shutters) which are very fast and accurate, the output, the responsiveness – they gave us everything we needed for keylight, showlight, back light and colour bumps, etc. The colours and whites are very good, especially for television, which is another reason we chose them - it’s the workhorse we need!”
“Huracán-X gave us all the colourful looks and gobos we wanted for top and side lighting, and superb architectural looks, textures, beams, and audience backlighting from the auditorium fixtures,” says van Beek.
“Even from the back walls the Huracán-X still had plenty of punch, and their movement and positioning gave us multiple angles at every level, to give all the angles, intensity, colour and effects we could need,” states van Beek.
The Eurovision Grand Final was broadcast on 22 May 2021 to 180 million worldwide viewers and in front of a 3500 seated audience. It was produced by Netherlands’ host broadcasters NPO, NOS and AVROTROS on behalf of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). ESC Head of Production was Erwin Rintjema
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