Gearhouse Switches on the Festive Lights in Cape Town

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Gearhouse South Africa's Cape Town branch supplied all technical elements - staging, lighting, audio, LED and technical crew to Out The Box Productions for the annual "Switching on of The Festive Lights” in Adderley Street, Cape Town.

This year, the event featured a distinctive soccer theme, highlighting the upcoming 2010 FIFA World Cup and the imminence of the Final Draw, that took place in Cape Town a few days later.

The switch on was conducted by Cape Town's Executive Mayor Dan Plato, accompanied by FIFA Secretary General, Jerome Valcke and Bafana Bafana star, Matthew Booth. A 7 hour concert on the main stage at Adderley Street's Fountain Circle in the centre of town saw a star studded line up of acts representing the vibrant cultural diversity of the city, including Ringo Madlingozi, the Rockets, Emo Adams, Ready D and Jozi.

Out the Box Productions developed a new expanded event footprint for this 40 year old event. Over and above the main stage and 2 000 strong carnival parade, they introduced new elements including a Fashion Show for 800 people which was produced in collaboration with Gavin Rajah, and a focussed Interactive Soccer Zone.

Based on the current Public Viewing Area (PVA) templates, OTB and Gearhouse's Tim Dunn and Philip Beardwood designed a technical layout enhancing the audience experience for an event site which was 2km long. The technical design ensured that the entire audience, in excess of 100 000 people, were able to experience the event. With only 30% of the audience having a direct sight line of the main stage, Gearhouse's LED design and placement was a critical factor in this event. This event had the largest square meterage of LED screens in a single public space yet to be staged in the city.

The 16 metre wide by 14 metre stage and lighting was designed by Tim Dunn from Gearhouse SA's Johannesburg branch. With the majority of the action taking place in daylight, a diamond shaped LED screen was used as a backdrop to bring shape and depth to the performance space, coupled with LED panels along the front of stage - to ensure that the environment was eye-catching and exciting in both light and dark, avoiding the standard 'black box' stage look.

The Lighthouse LED panels were fed with content and texturing from the MA media server, run from the grandMA lighting console that Dunn used to control the lighting. The majority of the lighting rig was made up of moving lights, including 20x Mac250 Washes, 12x Mac250 Entours, 12x Robe 700 Colour Washes, 12x Robe 2500E Washes, 12x Robe 2500E Spots, 24x i-Pix BB4s LED Fixtures, HMI 1200 Spot Lights with generic 12x bars of 6 Par64s and 8x 5K fresnels for soft front key lighting. The stage was covered with a Slick Dome roof that added to its attractive appearance.

Curved trusses - 7.3 metres long by 2.3 metres high - were rigged over the downstage edge of the stage, scrimmed with custom Cape Town branding, and the top cord of these trusses was used to provide further moving light positions.

A 40 square metre Lighthouse screen was erected in Zone 2 above the VIP area, suspended from a StageCo goalpost structure to service the audience in stage area, again chosen for its good aesthetics. The VIP area was equipped with 6x 65” Plasmas and 6x 42” Plasmas.

Five remote delay screens were provided by Gearhouse, all fed by microwave links from the OB truck at FOH, relaying the action taking place throughout the day to the more than 100,000 crowd that thronged into the city for the occasion.

Three Barco B10 'pod' mobile truck screens were stationed around the immediate area, one at Pier Place by the Captonian Hotel, the next near the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) and the third in Darling Street. Two additional 6 x 6 panel Lighthouse screens were rigged on cantilevered Layher decking, one at the corner of Strand and Adderley Streets and the other in the construction area in front of the main train station - in the road half way down Adderley Street. All screens were supplied by LEDVision, also part of the Gearhouse Group.

The PA stacks either side of the stage were hung on StageCo towers, again chosen for their elegant appearance. The audio system was a Turbosound Floodlight, with 12 cabinets a side over 8 Turbo 718 subs per side. This was mixed by Gearhouse's Johan Griesel using a Yamaha M7 digital console.

Monitor world was overseen by Roe Yardeni mixing with an AMEK Recall 50+6 Channel console, with all acts using a system of 14 L-Acoustics 115 wedges. A comprehensive mics-and-stands package was also supplied, and OTB's stage manager ensured everyone ran tightly to time.

Gearhouse also supplied 120 metres of crowd barrier and a 6 x 4 metre wheelchair access ramp in the main stage area.

At the site of each of the 5 remote delay screens was a PA delay stack of 4 Turbosound TMS3 cabinets rigged on Layher towers, also fed by microwave links.

The Gearhouse technical crew totalled 38 and were headed by project manager Zane Carim. They commenced the site build on Wednesday for the Sunday kick off and were joined by approximately 35 staging crew, 40 locals and a 25 tonne crane from Cape Cranes, utilised to hoist the StageCo goalposts and audio towers into place.

The Soccer Zone was an entertainment area near the Heerengracht Circle, where Heart 104.9 radio broadcast live and visitors could engage in a number of interactive soccer games and meet some star players. It was also full of concession stands. Gearhouse supplied 6 x 6 metre high lighting towers rigged with a selection of 6-lamp PAR bars and Molefeys to illuminate the area as darkness fell.

These were also used to light part of the procession area - after the countdown, a spectacular 2000 strong carnival parade took to the streets.

Project Manager Zane Carim oversaw the full four day build of all structures and two day set up of all technical. Says Carim, “Our challenges included implementing proper health and safety while building in densely populated areas with traffic flowing during business hours. The crew worked long hours in plus thirty degree weather, and with the site being in the middle of the busy city, they also had to do late shifts to circumvent normal business activities. All gear was set up in time and the event was a great success".

FIFA Secretary General, Jerome Valcke: “It was amazing! For 30 seconds, I felt like a rock star”.

Out The Box Productions, Christopher de Vries says: “OTB presented a new concept for this public space event. The partnership with Gearhouse ensured we realised our vision and created one of the best Festive Lights events ever as the kick off of the FIFA Final Draw series of events.”

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