Eurovision Song Contest - Kiev 2017

by Thomas S. Friedman
in Lighting for the Camera
 Elation’s Paladin fixtures - 351 of them - made their debut. Photo by Ralph Larmann
Elation’s Paladin fixtures - 351 of them - made their debut. Photo by Ralph Larmann

800 Elation Fixtures Play Dominant Role in Production Design

The Eurovision Song Contest is a unique experience in the world of entertainment made all the more special by use of some of the largest lighting and video systems you’ll find on any show.

The 62nd annual event, staged at the International Exhibition Center in Kiev, Ukraine, included two semi-finals (May 9 and 11) and the finals (May 13). Some 11,000 spectators attended each show, and more than 200 million viewers in 50 countries tuned in to watch the finals.

With 42 different songs to highlight over the course of three huge shows — not to mention rehearsals and a host of other performances — the flexibility engineered into today’s lighting and video systems allowed the design team to create custom looks for each performance.

Jerry Appelt’s lighting design reflected the event’s theme - to celebrate diversity. Photo by Ralph Larmann

‡‡         Seasoned Crew, Abundant Gear

Lighting designer Jerry Appelt, set designer Florian Wieder and head of production Ola Melzig led a long list of seasoned crew members collaborating on this complex and original design. Appelt worked with a rig that included 1,816 moving light fixtures. PRG (working with Litecom) supplied the lighting gear along with video elements and rigging.

As an official technical event supplier to Eurovision 2017 (along with PRG, Litecom, Green Hippo and Unbranded, a staging supplier, among others), Elation Professional played a key role. The Elation fixtures in the rig included 351 Paladin hybrid strobe/blinder/wash lights, 132 Platinum FLX hybrid moving heads, 140 Platinum 1200 Wash and 70 Platinum Seven moving head LED wash lights, along with 110 SixBar 1000 LED battens.

Florian Wieder designed a large circular LED stage floor with a dramatic arch proscenium. Photo by Ralph Larmann

Five grandMA2 and three grandMA2 Light consoles controlled the massive array of lighting fixtures, working in sync with 16 Green Hippo Boreal media servers feeding close to 1,000 square meters of LED screen surfaces along with 56 video projectors.

For Melzig, who has been working on the annual Eurovision semi-finals and final competitions since 2000, the May 13 finals competition marked his 30th live broadcast with the annual shows, and he was able to produce the three broadcast events for 2017 in a relatively brief period of five months — less time than what is typically required for a series of events of this magnitude.

Platinum Sevens and Platinum FLX units splay the audience in beams. Photo by Ralph Larmann

“We were thrilled to have Elation as one of our Technical Suppliers this year on Eurovision,” Melzig said. “Their product range is a great fit for this show, and believe me, we absolutely must have hard core lighting like this to stand up to the challenge! Eurovision puts a tremendous amount of stress on fixtures, and they really came through.”

Wieder’s design for the 2017 Eurovision stage featured a large circular LED stage floor with an arch proscenium curving over the stage that lit up with visual content. The theme for the 2017 event in Kiev was “Celebrate Diversity,” and Appelt’s lighting design reflected the variety of performances seen on stage.

Video and lighting elements worked together for a variety of looks and vibes. Photo by Ralph Larmann

When Appelt was on the hunt for a strobe effect that he could place behind the huge, curved, semi-transparent LED video wall that served as the all-important visual backdrop, Melzig set up a shoot-out of fixtures in Cologne, Germany, and Appelt liked what he saw in the Paladin. “I wanted to create an additional layer behind the LED wall, something that had impact but that could also work together with the LED video and other lighting,” Appelt said. “We chose the Paladin, and it did a marvelous job.” (For more details, see sidebar).

Audience lighting also played a key role, showcasing the enthusiastic crowds filling the International Exhibition Center for all three shows, as well as rehearsals. Most of the audience lighting for the show came from Elation’s powerful Platinum 1200 Wash LED wash moving heads along with Platinum Seven LED wash moving heads.

The Platinum 1200 Washes (each with 19 65W RGBW LEDs) were deployed on three curved trusses over the audience, with more fixtures lining trusses on each side of the arena. They were also positioned each side of the stage and used for sidelight.

The Platinum Sevens, positioned on trusses further back in the room, were grouped with Elation Platinum FLX units and used to splay the audience in beams during upbeat moments. Melzig said he was a fan of “everything about that fixture, especially the UV chip.”

Another key element in the stage lighting setup was the movable “beehive” element that hung above the stage. It was surrounded by truss that included Elation’s Platinum FLX hybrids, which can serve as spot/beam/wash moving heads and feature a patented dual optical system. These fixtures were used to immerse performers in concentrations of beams or splayed beam effects, with the FLX fixtures projected outward. Additional Platinum FLX fixtures (132 in all were deployed) worked from a sidelight position.

Appelt and Melzig also made use of Elation’s SixBar 1000, a one-meter long multipurpose LED batten with a six-color LED multi-chip. Filling the space above the stage arch and curving all the way around it on both sides to reflect its shape, the vertically-positioned SixBar pixel strips provided dynamic chase effects, wash and decorative eye-candy looks throughout the show. SixBar fixtures were also mounted vertically on the outer edge of the beehive for a defining decorative touch.

Producing such an immense, high profile show in Ukraine wasn’t easy, but the experienced production team made it look like it was, and the end result was deemed a huge success. “Despite some of the challenges working in the Ukraine, the goal was to create a state-of-the-art light show and I was really quite happy with the result,” Appelt said.

After advancing through the semi-finals and finals, Portugal’s Salvador Sobral emerged as the winner of the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest. It was the first victory for a contestant from that country, which means the 63rd edition of the show will take place next year in Lisbon.

Elation Paladin

New LED Fixture Makes Auspicious Debut

The 2017 Eurovision Song Contest served as an auspicious global debut for Elation Professional’s full-color Paladin LED fixtures. Featured prominently on live broadcasts for the semi-finals and finals in Kiev, lighting designer Jerry Appelt created a large back wall matrix of 351 units (39 wide by 9 high).

The Paladin, a versatile hybrid RGBW luminaire with zoom, functions as a bright blinder or strobe, powerful wash light, or, because of its multiple pixel zone control, pixel map and eye candy looks.

“We used them independently, and also pixel-mapped video across them,” said Appelt, who lit the Eurovision show for the third time, having designed lighting for the 2011 and 2012 events.

Paladin effects, which Appelt incorporated into a large number of songs, popped through the LED screen, sometimes as impactful strobe/blinder effects or chases and sometimes as more subtle eye-candy or warm or cold light twinkle effects, then stealthily disappeared when not in use.

“Some of the delegations even asked to have the Paladins used in their performance to give it more power,” Appelt added. Head of production Ola Melzig was also impressed. “The Paladin kicks ass,” he exclaimed. “I love the output, the color and the zoom. It’s an awesome fixture.”


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