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Glasto 2010 - Lighting and the Next Gen...


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Hello fellow Blue Roomers:


I think most Lighting Designers are quite self-critical, I am for sure (just ask any of my clients, they say they loved a particular gig, I'll point out all the glaring holes in it) that's life.


Anyway, Lighting Design is a fairly solitary profession, it's not often that a Lighting Designer will have an opportunity to work with another Lighting Designer for example but I have always believed that it is important to look at other Lighting Designers work from a critical and artistic standpoint and consider the tools and techniques that they have used to achieve the end result, and consider what (if anything) you would do differently.


I appreciate that it's difficult to fully understand why an end result is what it is, there are always constraints of time, budget, equipment, and a myriad other limitations for example, many that we just wont know or hear about, but the point of this thread is to get the young LD's that are members of the forum thinking about and discussing the work of others, and perhaps considering techniques, tools, and equipment that might have otherwise passed them by.


From my perspective, and taking Muse as the primary example for me, a band that I happen to love anyway, and would love to light if Oli Metcalfe (who I think still lights them) should ever decide to leave the team (hint hint ;) )


Anyway, what did I pick up from the Muse set?


The High End Systems Showgun is a light that I was given for demo on a 6 week TV series. It wasnt the most appropriate show for it and it was much under-used, however I think that I wasnt really analysing it for being the light that it was (is). Having watched Ollies use of the fixture on Muse, it's regained a place in my design consciousness and I'm rapidly trying to come up with opportunities to use it.


My belief that Video can be a major part of the Lighting Designers arsenal was vindicated, and I felt that the Video Elements of the set looked outstanding and served well to complement rather than overwhelm the Lighting System or the gig as a whole.


I found the integration of the LED strips with the Video Panels fascinating. The juxtaposition (to use a suitably clichéd designery term) of contrast, colour and resolution was great, and very impactful. I also very much liked the occasions where Video Output was dropped down to only a few panels. It allowed far greater impact from the musical highs as the system lit up in ever brighter punches.


The Piano (first used in Nishe) looked superb, I would love to know how it's built and controlled, is it sound triggered? Or does the desk control it with a suitable fire and forget cue stack? are the internal LED's just triggered by the keys of the Piano? Who knows, but I'd sure like to find out, and probably nick the idea at some point in the future! :angry: (remember, there is no such thing as an original idea hehehe)


Timing - I think it goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway, the LD's timing was superb. Obviously this is helped by knowing the music inside out and backwards, but in terms of fade times, go timings, and so on, it was very well done throughout.


Colour Palette - Very much my way of doing things as far as I could tell. Quite limited colours on a per track basis. I like to use two or three colours per track maximum and it looks like their LD is working to a similar sort of brief.


Would I have Lit it / Designed it differently? Of course I would have. I think and hope that everyone would, what I see in my head when I sit in a dark room and listen to a band is going to differ considerably from what you or anyone else would see, if it did not then the world of lighting design would be very boring indeed. But, importantly, would you or I now light the show the same way and visualise it in the same way now that we have seen it? I don't think I would, but it all comes down to style. I've developed mine, and hopefully you as 'The Next Generation' are in the process of developing yours....


So, that's some of my view on the subject, what's yours? It doesn't have to be the same band, but I'm very curios to see what jumps out at the up-and-comers here, and why.





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Hey Smiffy,


I know what you mean about ShowGuns, I am almost certain Neg supplied them as I was speaking to them quite a few weeks ago when they just bought them, I asked what for and all they would say is it is a "secret gig", that must have been it! I just wish there was more of the newer HES stuff like ShowGun/Beam, Showpix and Studiopix, Cyber2.0, Axon and DL3 in the UK, but there are few, and in some cases none!


I didn’t watch Glasto, but the parts I did watch I found interesting. We would all design things differently, but that’s what keeps the industry so good, many types of designer. I don’t do much designing, mainly programming and console training. But style wise, I have my own style to create the LDs looks with the use of speed, communication and planning. After all we live by KISS and the & "Ps".


Lighting and Video can be pretty much one now, in terms of LED walls etc. And it is good, more tools in the toolbox. It can be programmed the same way etc. While this sort of kit takes hundreds of DMX channels in some cases, our desks are adapting to fit the kit in so the Designer can have however much he/she likes on said gig.


Thanks for the cool contribution to the forum Smiffy, I think you have started one hell of a thread!

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I missed Muse's Set, as I was at the Other Stage watching the Pet Shop Boys having been impressed by their show at Latitude last year.


Has to be said, Although I hate Muse with a passion musically (really cannot stand them), from all accounts I'm a bit of an idiot for missing it.


I only actually managed to catch Rolf Harris on the Pyramid, and spent the rest of my weekend checking campervans weren't on fire and taking glass bottles off people. Every other band I saw was on the smaller stages, and I say to anyone, its a festival worth doing even without the main stages.

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Okay I must admit, I havn't read through the whole of this topic as I'm not a lampie. However, I'd like to say I really, really liked Muse's lighting show (I was there). Really impressed me. All the cues were in time and it looked awesome!


Infact, the quality of lighting was good throughout the festival this year.

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I think Smiffy's is an excellent post for The Next Generation.


One thing to notice, though, is the way a professional lighting designer thinks about using lighting to enhance and contribute to the performance rather than worrying about a "kewl look" or talking about the brand-names of the actual instruments used. Indeed, the Showgun was the only bit of hardware actually named.


Far more important in Smiffy's post are the "designery" phrases like "juxtaposition of colour contrast and resolution" and a limited "colour palette".


That's the sort of thought and planning the pro's do, far more than worrying about brand names and making everything look flashy.


There's things to be learned in the original post of this topic.



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Hello Chaps:


Thanks for getting involved in the thread thus-far. I'd rather hoped that a few of the next genners would have hit BBC iPlayer by now and had a look through some of the gigs, maybe they're all too busy ;)


Thank you too to Bobbsy for your kind words. A resource like the Blue Room is something that I would have loved when I was starting out, and I've always believed that its important to give something back to the newbies in whatever way you can. The hope of this thread is to get those that are beginning their careers in light thinking about lighting from a more critical standpoint, and less about the kit. Yes the kit is important, but it's what you do with it that matters. The mention of the Show Guns was by way of pointing out that your initial perception of something is not necessarily correct.


I think it's also important to note that you don't have to be a fan of the music to have an opinion about the show. I can assure you that Boyzone (or insert similarly twee kiddie pop band here) do not appear anywhere on my iPod, but should I get the opportunity to Light a tour for them, then I would jump at the chance. Although I do believe that it helps to be a fan of the music as I feel that it does give you a deeper connection with the Artist and their musical message. The same applies with a Play or a Musical. I've lit Annie so many times now that I have grown to hate it with a passion. I'd still say yes to an opportunity to light it again though. As much for the financial rewards, but certainly as much for the opportunity to play with lights. Moreover I think it important that any Lighting Designer should say yes to any opportunity to see any Show, Play, Musical, Concert, TV Recording, Architainment Project, Themed Environment, Whatever, on the basis that we all need to be more aware of how other LD's tackle various Staging and Technical Challenges.


So, Next Genners - Don't get bogged down with Muse. I took that as my example because I watched the set a few times. It could be any of the other acts that were playing, although I'd suggest acts from the Headline set at the Pyramid, or Other Stages as they were the only ones that played in the dark. The John Peel Stage is also quite good to look at as it is on a far tighter budget and scale.


Having now said that, there were a few bands that performed in daylight, that still managed to make use of light and lighting design that ultimately looked quite good. The Almost Total absence of Light, other than Sun Light from Joss Stone and Norah Jones sets actually helped, the summery sunlight actually enhanced their performances for their styles of music I thought. Mark Radcliffe (one of the Glastonbury coverage presenters and a BBC radio host for the uninitiated) actually commented that he wondered how the Joss Stone set would have gone down had it been raining.


So, get your critics hats on and lets hear what you up-and-comers have to say. I'm as curious as to how you think about light as the next guy...





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I was there and watched muse, and I would agree the lighting was amazing, I also watched Gorillza and thought the lighting was rubbish, they just relied on the LED screen and had about 5 chases, which were over used, and made it look boring, there wasn't any imagination from the lighting and I felt made the whole set dull. Compared to the other head-liners it had to be the worst lighting of them all.
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I was there and watched muse, and I would agree the lighting was amazing, I also watched Gorillza and thought the lighting was rubbish...



OK, but I rather think that you're still missing Smiffy's point in this topic.


Just saying the 'lighting was rubbish' isn't really being critical in the true sense of the word.

Precisely what aspects did you find didn't inspire you, as a viewer?

What exactly could/would you have considered doing, had you access t the same tools?

Is there anything that you might have looked at adding to enhance what was there?


The idea is to get you youngsters thinking more along the lines of actual creativity rather than the 'throw it up and hope for the best' approach...

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I was there and watched muse, and I would agree the lighting was amazing, I also watched Gorillza and thought the lighting was rubbish, they just relied on the LED screen and had about 5 chases, which were over used, and made it look boring, there wasn't any imagination from the lighting and I felt made the whole set dull. Compared to the other head-liners it had to be the worst lighting of them all.


Correct me if I'm wrong, but from when I first heard Gorillza, they were all digital and when played live they would hide themselves as the musicians and rely on the digital characters to tell the story.



Although I did not particularly enjoy the music, I watched it, and was quite interested by how they highlighted parts of the band and singers, but it did heavily rely on the visuals behind. At times I felt although static colour washes, they were more effective as they were trying to tell almost a story with their music, and create the atmosphere, instead of some groups which are all about hyping up the crowd and getting the largest reaction possible.


I am always fascinated by how the use of LED screens etc has developed since I first saw concerts on TV. I enjoyed Muse use of the hexagonal screens, which were used for colour, but also at times I remember live video being split across them and sometimes just one or two being use, which kept the interest in the act where songs are the same. The lights I felt were all about gaining excitement during the big numbers, and seeing how much reaction can be got from the crowd - ok festivals do do this, but it just works with muse. 


I know a local festival that has no lighting apart from a couple of flood for sight security and to light the bands, and you can visibly see how more relaxed and 'un-involved' crowds become to the performance. 


my 2p's

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Watching the Muse set now.


I've never been a festival fan of any sort, nor am I big on gigs, so I'm coming at this from probably the wrong angle! Be warned; this commentary is going to go in order of what I see; so it may make no sense!


Thoughts from the opening; the plaiting motion of the floor movers at the back of the stage is something quite quirky; I haven't seen it before, and thought it was quite nice as a way of getting movement into the lighting without it being 'in your face' or over the top.


The drummer on the riser however, was a little disappointing; whenever he bounced up (which he seemed to do a lot while drumming!), the top of his head was cut off. I would have thought it'd be better to create a beam that's too wide, than too narrow for a gig like that, where anything can happen.


From a non-lampy point of view; I thought Matt Bellamy's (that's about it on my Muse knowledge) mic stand was pretty funky!


The spotlights in the 'quieter' section of the opening number, combined with more subdued overall coverage, was nice; a good way of showing the change in volume. I enjoyed that ;)


I'm intrigued by some of those movers, though; they look like they have a ring of light around the main lens...quite what it's used for, I don't know, unless it's purpose is just to look pretty!


I do wonder how people who aren't in the first several rows of the audience, manage to see properly though :-/ When there's so much flashing light, and there are so many people, and you're so far back... the musicians must be rather hard to spot and follow!


In the second song; Supermassive Black Hole, I didn't think the blue was used to its full potential. It was nice, but a bit... lost when all of this colour was blasting out of the video screen at the back of the stage. I thought the video was a bit overpowering. Though the isolation of the bassist in the quiet section once again was nice! But that must be the theatrical in me!


Also; I do wish audience members would clap in time!


I think the best use of the video so far (in the three numbers) has been in the third; it's really reflected the mood of the piece; the sort of psychedelic manicness that is given off in the music is supported by the flashing / seemingly random visualisations on the back wall. The way it built with the swirling patterns in the slower section of the song, combined with the build of the red light was effective too. The subtle shift in colour from red to blue over the course of the song was brilliant. A nice way of 'spicing' it up a bit without having to resort to strobes (although the music of Muse does lend itself to strobing!)


And that's about it; 20 minutes will do me fine :angry:

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Ynot, I didn't find any of the lighting aspiring at all unlike Muse and Stevie Wounder. To me it felt like there was no design to it and it was just like lets just use a chases here etc. Am not sure if this is because they didn't bring a LD. Regarding what I could have done, I feel I could of done a lot better given what they had in the rig. Like I said in my earlier post they relied on the LED screen and there fore didn't want any lighting, if this was the cases I feel it was a waste of a night time slot, where other bands could of done a (light show)
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where other bands could of done a (light show)


It is rarely supposed to be a "light show". Lighting is about using the tools we have to complement the act and add things like feeling and texture in different ways. I think with that statement you may well have just proven some of the points made earlier in this thread, younger lighting guys seem to think of shows as "light shows" when instead we are providing "lighting for the show", not AS the show.



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I also watched the MUSE Set.


I thought quite a lot of the lighting was done really interestingly, particularly, the integration of the LED strips into the hexagonal video wall. I thought the times when the wall and strips were switching between alternate colours provided a really nice effect similar to a subtle strobe.


I also really enjoyed the effect during the massive chords at the start of 'Knights of Cydonia' with a gentle warm wash coming in from the fixtures on the floor at the back, interspersed with random flashes of light from the same place in a growing crescendo of intensity until the rest of the rig joined in. I would have probably just stuck in some massive flashes from the whole rig on the very prominent chords, but the subtle approach I thought was much more effective in building up the tension until the first guitar riff began, and it's something I'd probably use in future.


On the negative side, I didn't really enjoy the lasers in 'Stars' - I thought they looked a bit disco-ey, as if they were stuck on preset style chases and didn't really add to the music at all.


Also, I wasn't a particular fan of the lighting inside Bellamy's piano - in fact I didn't really notice it to begin with, and when I did I felt it didn't really add anything, and again, perhaps looked a little amateurish?


I don't really feel worthy to comment as the majority of the lighting was so impressive :) , although I think if I was designing it, I'd probably cut the lasers.


Just my initial reactions after watching on iPlayer.



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As everyone seems to be commentating on muse I will follow suit to keep things simple.


Firstly the LED screens as they seem to be a hot topic: I certainly liked their unusual shape, it was different and less bland than your standard square or rectangular shaped screen which added a new dimension I suppose.

However at some points I did find the screens rather upstaging, especially noticable at the begining of new born where the main lighting on the front of the stage was relatively still while the screens seemed to be doing the exact opposite with lots of movement and I thought they didn't complement each other well at all at this point.

Apart from this the screens complemented the high pace in the middle of the songs well with interesting designs and even sometimes picking out a member of the band.


Another thing that stood out for me was the way that the LD wasn't afraid to light the audience a fair bit with moving light which I thought was very good as it engaged the audience more as well as exciting them and made it less of a performance to the crowd but more of a two way thing (not sure if any of that makes much sense and apologies if it doesn't).


Another effect which was impressive was the way that there would often be a fast chase of 'white' light on stage followed by flooding the audience with a more natural yellow light. I thought this was very effective and mimiced the music well.


At the start of the songs red backlighting was used a fair bit with little movement of light. This was effective at generating a mood and reflecting the slower pace of the songs at their beginings. However as the songs built so to did the speed of the lighting which developed into fast chases so the lighting kept pace with the songs complementing them well and getting the audience more excited.


Finally the simple colour pallete mentioned before also interested me in the way that only a few colours (primarily red's and blue's) were used. This kept part of the design simple allowing the designer to be more creative with his/her movement of the light and yet for it still not to become overwhelming.


Apologies for writing in a slightly essay style - GCSE's finished a while back but I still haven't got out of the habbit :P

There's my thoughts! :)

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