The 2009 Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow was a technical marvel, breaking every record previously set, including production days, roof load and television viewers. Clay Paky Alpha Spot HPE 1200 fixtures were right in the middle of the action, with the highest number of profiles out of over 750 moving lights used on the show.
The show was undoubtedly the biggest in its 55-year history, held in Moscow's Olimpiysky Arena to a live audience of 18,000 and an estimated 200 million television and internet viewers. Procon Event Engineering GmbH of Hamburg, Germany provided all technical equipment and crew for the show, consisting of 42 songs from 42 competing countries. This year also included some of the most extravagant opening and interval acts, such as Cirque du Soleil and Fuerza Bruta, all broadcast live in two Semi-finals on May 12 and 14 and the Finals on May 16.
Seven-time Eurovision Production Manager Ola Melzig was called in to lead the Procon crew, along with Assistant Production Manager Tobias Ã…berg and Technical Production Manager Matthias Rau. The crew of 70 saw the longest build up in Eurovision history, with 52 days in Moscow, and needing every minute of it.
The entire stage area spanned over 100 yards from left to right, with a centre stage of endless possibilities where nearly every element could separate, rotate, and move any direction. The stage, designed by John Casey, contained approximately 2000 square metres of LED surface, moving back elements and a giant “ring” over the stage, which could divide into twelve separate moving pieces.
International award-winning Lighting Designer Al Gurdon carefully selected all of the lighting equipment to meet the challenges of the production and the long wish list of the Russian organizing committee. This translated to over 750 moving lights, 250 LED lights and 100 conventionals, extending to every corner of the arena, including the rig, balconies, floor and scaffold.
The roof load was a massive 140 tons, which was over the load capacity for the venue. The solution was to allocate 40 tons to a supporting scaffold approximately 100 metres wide by 22 metres high, and providing additional functions beyond just support. 135 Alpha Spot HPE 1200 fixtures were placed inside the colossal grid, arranged in vertical columns of 5 fixtures from top to bottom, extending 27 columns left to right, enveloping the entire stage out to the ends of the scaffold. The front of the scaffold held a 12,000 square foot Martin LC screen, which has a semi-transparent design, allowing fixtures from behind to shine through. “We've used this type of LED screen before, with fixtures placed behind it,” explained Melzig, “it gives you options for so many more looks. But you can't just stick any fixture back there. They have to be ultra bright and ultra sharp to be effective. The Alpha Spot HPE 1200 fit the bill, with the added benefit of fast movement. Also extremely important was a lightweight fixture, since we were putting so much weight on the scaffold to begin with.”
Some of the more memorable effects included a horizontal chase sequence during the Belarus song, “Eyes That Never Lie” and a full wall of beams during the Ukraine song “Be My Valentine.” Melzig said, “The delegations of the countries where we used this effect were thrilled.”
The Alpha Spots were controlled by Andrew Voller on a Virtuoso console. Voller explained, ”The Alpha Spot HPE 1200s were brilliant. The Alpha Spots were positioned behind the rear curved semi-transparent video wall and were surprisingly bright, cutting though the video wall when needed. It gave Al Gurdon, the lighting designer, the ability to lose the video wall and create a wall of light. The gobo animation ability of the fixture is great, using combinations of the animation wheel and gobos to creating amazing textured air looks."
Alberico D'Amato, Clay Paky Sales Manager said, “We are very proud of the work that the Eurovision lighting team did. It is prestigious show that provides a lot of visibility and we are glad that Procon wanted to use Clay Paky fixtures. We are enjoying a very successful partnership with them and look forward to more great things together.”
The end of the voting saw Alexander Rybak of Norway crowned winner with his self-penned song “Fairytale”. The title seemed befitting to define one of the finest productions in Eurovision history.
For more information about Clay Paky Alpha Spot HPE 1200 and other Clay Paky products, visit www.claypaky.it.
Photos courtesy of M & M Production Mgmt.