Gearhouse South Africa supplies Miss World

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Johannesburg-based Gearhouse South Africa supplied full production, technical infrastructure and crew for the spectacular Miss World event staged at Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg on 13th December – the first time the event has returned to South Africa since 1995.

Miss World 2008 utilised the resources, services and expertise of 6 Gearhouse Group companies - GHSA, LEDVision, SDS, In2Structures, GH Power and Havaseat - encompassing 10 technical production disciplines that provided design, rigging, structures, lighting, audio, video, specialist visuals, set building, power and seating in SCC's Pavilion venue. The event was broadcast live by SABC to 2 billon people in over 200 countries on 373 TV stations.

Tim Dunn's innovative lighting design once again broke new technical and creative grounds and was the most technically advanced lighting rig ever seen on a Miss World show.

He included the very latest digital moving light fixtures from Czech Republic-based manufacturer Robe Lighting in the form of 12 DigitalSpot 7000DTs and 36 REDWash 3Ÿ192s LED wash lights – the largest number of these newly launched units yet used on a single event.

Harnessing the energy saving potential of the latest LED and arc source lighting fixtures, Dunn ensured it was also one of the greenest events to date, dramatically reducing the amount of electricity needed to run a world class event.

The lighting – which involved 230 intelligent lights plus assorted conventionals - consumed approximately 30% less electricity than the 1995 event in Sun City, also lit by Dunn. Developing greener show and event strategies is an aspect of business that Gearhouse is prioritising.

Dunn worked closely with set designer Dewet Meyer on evolving the show's aesthetics – the two have collaborated on many other high profile events including the FIFA Preliminary Draw.

Meyer's massive multi-layered 40 metre diameter spherical set established the architecture of the performance space and completely filled one end of the Pavilion. It was finished in a series of grey tones, allowing Dunn to introduce colour, drama, spectacle and additional texturing with overlaid moving light and video effects.

Dunn ensured the design also had a distinctly African flavour, introducing additional visual planes and depth with simple and effective 3D custom PVC trussing borders, and underlining the roof space with three large over-stage lighting pods, also clad in printed PVC material which could be used as projection surfaces for the DigitalSpots.

He was careful to ensure that the contestants and other artists onstage didn't get overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the production. Judicious use of lighting and the creative dynamics and synergies of the stage, set and lighting designs enabled the space to become very intimate one minute and have a massive WOW factor the next – all via appropriate lighting. This holistic practice that encourages collaboration between all visual elements on a project is at the core of Gearhouse's working philosophy.

Dunn's creative team also included Gearhouse Media's Marcel Wijnberger and Chris Grandin who produced approximately 30 bespoke video clips that were run through 116 pixel-mapped i-Pix Satellite LED lighting fixtures ensconced in the set and which were also projected onto the stage and lining of the lighting pods via the DigitalSpot moving lights. Meyer also produced video content that was programmed into a grandMA media server and woven into Dunn's visual mix at this point, triggered from one of the two grandMA full size lighting desks.

Working this way ensured continuity between lighting and the video visual content, and a sense of spontaneity and ‘live' evolution with the video texturing effects being produced on site and incorporated into the overall show visuals during the intense rehearsal period.

The Gearhouse Media team also produced the opening edit and three custom video sections that were played out during the show's production numbers on a 11 x 4.5 metre Lighthouse high resolution R16 LED screen. This was located upstage centre and supplied by LEDVision.

The playback footage was routed and fitted to screen via a Barco Encore multiscreen controller operated by Wayne Susman from Gearhouse AV, along with a feed from the lighting department's MA digital media server and 3 feeds from SABC's OB truck – one TX from the cameras and 2 from their EVS machine.

Miss World graphics, stings, bumpers, squeezebacks, VT inserts and IMAG footage from 10 SABC camera sources directed by Ian Hamilton, were also output to the main LED screen from the SABC OB truck. Gearhouse AV additionally supplied 2 side projection screens for IMAG relay to the live audience.

The task of project managing the logistics needed to squeeze 28 trucks worth of equipment into the venue and build the set in just a week fell to Gearhouse's project management team of Jesse Wang, Eyal Yehezkely, Michael Lewis and Lee Reynolds. All the kit was moved into the building via two expediently sized service lifts and a 150 tonne crane.

The stage and set build was one of the most overall challenging elements. It engaged the dexterity and lateral thinking abilities of Sets, Drapes and Screens (SDS), In2Structures (steel set substructure) and Gearhouse SA. SDS, Gearhouse's newest company had a site team of 12 carpenters, led by Pieter Joubert and Craig Pretorius, who worked round-the-clock shifts to build the actual set. This once again illustrated how Gearhouse Group companies can combine talents and skill sets for the bigger picture.

Gearhouse Audio's Dave Tudor designed an L-Acoustics sound system which consisted of 9 Kudo boxes per side hung in the traditional line array style. This made full use of the K louver function as the main hangs were very wide apart, so the asymmetrical setting minimised any reflections and ensured even and smooth coverage. The subs were SB118s, and a centre cluster of 6 dV DOSC was flown high up to fill up the gap in the middle.

Stage monitoring was via six 115 HiQs flown up in the truss to ensure the stage was kept clear. This fulfilled the brief from Miss World's own production team co-ordinated by Dave Morgan of being as discreet and unobtrusive as possible. The show's FOH sound and monitors were mixed by Adriaan van der Walt on a Yamaha M7CL and the evening included performances by UK rockers McFly and singer Alesha Dixon.

Havaseat installed the Periup Arena Seating stands that helped accommodate the live audience. This lightweight system is extremely fast to set up, very compact and proved an ideal solution for the space constraints of the Pavilion.

The show, which saw Miss Russia Kseniya Sukhinova, crowned as Miss World 2008, was a massive success and has already been hailed as one of the best, most visually exciting and seamlessly produced ever.

For Gearhouse South Africa, it was an illustration of how fluid inter-communication between the Companies within the Group can really work for a client and a world class event.

This unique capacity for inter-departmental collaboration enables GHSA to offer a highly efficient, comprehensive and cost-effective solution based on the highest production values, the most creative ideas and maximum efficiency.

It greatly simplifies any project for a client by essentially providing them with a single point of contact for all resources.

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