The importance of lighting on a large scale show
These days, larger productions have so many dazzling
elements included it can be harder than ever to make your show stand out above
others, let alone Saturday night prime-time behemoths. Light fixtures and their
dynamic use can make the difference between a huge attendance or viewing
figures, and being cancelled almost immediately. Whilst set design and special
effects are all very important (as is audio), lighting is the key to creating
drama and atmosphere on a stage, and it all begins very early on in the production
Producers, directors and lighting professionals start with intense meetings months before the show is due to take place, where every aspect of the live event is planned out meticulously. Once the meetings are over and the show is on the road however, production really does begin to speed up. Live tours for example are by nature hectic and fast paced. Many production elements do not survive the rigours of the road, and when beginning its new tour cycle equipment is vigorously tested. The X-Factor for example is a modern day colossus in terms of production efforts alone, and its live tours are no exception. Before every tour, there is a huge (around 17,664 square foot!) arena hired for rehearsal purposes, where all equipment can be tested extensively.
Once all faulty, damaged or outdated equipment has been replaced or re-hired, any staples the show may be known for are perfected, and then it’s time to try out any new ideas. LED strobe panels for example have recently become a very popular addition to many live shows, with the wash light feature allowing for it to become a part of the set, rather than another conspicuous production element. Implementing these modern fixtures offer an ability to revitalise any long recurring tour; surprising the audience visually is a guaranteed way to keep interest in your show high.
For the X-Factor, looking to the future is incredibly important. The live tour that precedes the studio show has to match the brand aesthetic, and this can be quite difficult to do in time with the busy schedule demanded by the show. If the set cannot be ostentatious then, it is up to the lighting and special effects team to pack the extra punch. One of the production heads on the X-Factor has been quoted as saying ‘The (fixtures) slice through stage lighting to bring an almost architectural look to whole picture and often serving to pull the artist out from the backdrop ensuring they remain the focus of visually busy shows. (Fixtures) Can also be called upon to create dimension and structure to the huge arena shows such as X Factor.’
Lighting is really not to be underestimated. Under the supervision of a great lighting designer, any show can transform itself into the pinnacle of live or televised events through its use of lighting. Whether you are out on the road or mounting a static production in a studio, the right equipment is bound to make a difference in how your viewers receive your work.
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