Eurovision - Australia Decides, the annual song competition organised by Blink TV for SBS Television Australia, determines the country's representative for the Eurovision Song Contest by popular vote.

Held at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre for the second time, this year’s creative brief was to make the show as big as possible in true Eurovision spectacle style – albeit on a fraction of the budget!!

Lighting designer Paul Collison wanted to make the entire set look bigger than last year and bring more of the Eurovision spectacle to the broadcast. By pushing the trusses out further it really opened up the stage end and provided greater backgrounds for the more oblique camera angles.

“That paid dividends as it was a pretty big look in the end,” he commented. “We had a massive wall of light around the main performance area which started with a traditional spot/wash layout using 87 x Martin MAC Viper Profiles and 65 x Claypaky Sharpy Washes.”

PC knew that he would need several other layers of sources to be able to take the look to another level. He wanted something that could be provided in high numbers to give him the volume he desired.

“I looked at all of the fancy new fixtures that are on offer but we either couldn’t get them in the numbers required, or more importantly, we simply couldn’t afford them,” PC explained. “We were somewhat resigned to using LED pars, but they weren’t our first choice as I was after a smaller source. I really wanted something that homogenised on the lens that had a somewhat attractive face. Most LED pars don’t suit that brief!
“Then I stumbled across our old friend the ShowPRO Truss Mate, which I’m sure has a CRI somewhere in the low 50s and aren’t the greatest in their colour consistency. Which is why most people look down their nose at them for anything other than warming truss. However I’m a big believer in the fact that if light comes out of right end of the fixture, then it can be useful. So for a big matrix of lights, 187 of them filled the job spec almost perfectly. Any discernible colour shift between fixtures was negligible and their CRI was not even worth discussing as that’s not really important in a background. I was a little worried they’d be too narrow at 16 degrees. I feared we’d be forever trying to refocus them if they were too beamy, but they ended up being ideal.”

PC further remarked that the soft edges blended well given their point of focus was roughly 15m downstage of their lens’. As well as available in large amounts and affordable, he added that they’re very reliable. They provided the big looks when they needed a lot of light and light from every direction. The ability to also twinkle them at low level meant there weren’t many songs that they didn’t appear in.

PC also had 44 x ShowPRO Colliders, his favourite strobe, to provide yet another layer.

“We had the luxury of being able to run them in 200 channel mode, he noted. “That meant we could use smaller cell grouping so it wasn’t always the full face of the fixtures flashing. That way, we could strobe horizontal lines, vertical lines, or just make them work as a big blinder. Plus you can get a nice sparkling texture out of them so they’re incredibly versatile.”

PC added that the Colliders had the grunt and the power to be able to push over all of the Truss Mates, MAC Vipers and Sharpy Washes to deliver those big blinding moments from time to time. They were invaluable even though there were only 44 of them, which is not a lot when you look at the numbers of all the other fixtures. They were really were the go-to fixture for those big moments.”

Located on the floor either side of the stage were 32 x Claypaky Unico and, as they are such a big and powerful fixture, they were ever-present in all of the cross shots. They also provided big, structured beam looks form out the front, in fact there weren’t many songs the Unicos weren’t featured in as they were definitely one of the workhorses in the rig.

There was more Claypaky action with 24 x Mythos located out in the room to supply beams in the air and 24 x Axcor 600s (supplied by the GCCEC) for audience lighting.

“I’ve used the Axcor 600 before but they have since had a significant firmware update and I must say I was really impressed by them,” remarked PC. “We spent a lot of time turning them down because they were often too bright. We also used them to light several hosting positions.”

Six Minuit Une IVL Carré fixtures were used to provide some unique looks for Kate Miller-Heidke’s opening performance. More specials included 24 x GLP - German Light Products KNV Dot Strobes which PC described as very cool, providing a great deal of sparkle and colour at the bottom of the screen. Often only poking through under the screen with a gap of only millimetres.

All the faces were lit with the 11 x Martin MAC Encore Performance CLDs which are still PC’s go-to key light and he’d be quite hesitant to use any other fixture to do so.

“I find it really important to have consistency in all the face light sources,” he revealed. “As we did last year, we utilised the Irish built Spotrack system as follow spot tracking. There is nowhere in the venue that allows for the correct angle for manually operated follow spots. Even if there were, I still prefer to have the same light source, be it for follow spots of fixed key lights. Spotrack allows us to use a fitting as a follow spot and then seamlessly switch to control from the MA. An added benefit is that all of our lighting operators are in the one space at FOH. The Spotrack operators are seated right behind us. Sometimes a quick look can convey more than words. It’s nice to quickly debrief in the same space after a rehearsal without tracking down all of your team spread out over a big venue.”

Three Martin ELP Profiles were added to the rig for hosting positions that tend to pop up randomly on these kinds of events.

“I wanted a colour engine that was similar to the Encores, but a little more cost effective as they really were an ‘up our sleeve’ allocation,” PC elaborated. “I’ve been very happy with the ELP fixtures and with the Martin lenses on them, they are probably some of the most efficient profiles I’ve used in terms of engine to light output. I’m a massive fan of the ELP and I tend to have a handful up my sleeve for a show like this all the time.”

As usual, lighting and video control was MA Lighting International MA2 software on MA3 hardware, creating a multi-user environment that ran very smooth and successful. A single session across all four elements of control is imperative. Being able to combine a single cue to one button press but cover four areas makes the show control much tighter. PC and his team did all of pre-viz in MA3D in Sydney the week before the event so that an adequate chunk of the show was programmed before they reached the site.

“It’s important that we get as much of the admin work done before we hit site,” said PC. “All of our cue lists were written, cues allocated to timecode and timecode objects recorded. This means once we’re on site, we’re really focussed on making it look good. Not naming cues and sequences.”

Regarding the venue and its crew, PC states “It really takes a village to wrangle a show like this together and once again, the staff and crew from the GCECC made us feel welcome and significantly contributed to the delivery of the show. I couldn’t think of another venue in the country that I’d want to do this show in.”

Chameleon Touring Systems as always delivered a complicated design with simplistic ease.

eleven DESIGN team
Lighting Design – Paul Collison
Moving Lighting Programmer – Jarrad Donovan
White/ Key Light Director – Stuart Anderson
Disguise Media Server Programmer – Adam Smith
Motion Graphics – Glenn Wilson
Spotrack Operator – Davey Taylor, Chris Tatnell

Lighting System – Chameleon Touring Systems
Lighting Crew Chief – Alex Celi

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