On Wednesday May 21, 2008, the finale of American Idol aired live to a record breaking audience of 31.7 million viewers. No less spectacular than the show-off between the two crooners was the stage design of this year’s show, developed by Idol veteran Andy Walmsley.
Walmsley, renowned for his previous production designs for Pop Idol in the UK, turned to California-based Sweetwater Video to supply all video equipment for the show, including the 340 panels of Element Labs Stealth™ LED displays used to grace the stage during the finals in the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles. The Stealth panels, configured to form four strips upstage centre and additional strips above and below the main LED screen, allowed Walmsley to create a design in which video and lighting integrated seamlessly within the overall set design.
“The Nokia Theater has an enormous stage that requires a significant volume of equipment in order to look ‘dressed’. Element Labs’ Stealthis a very visual product that ties in seamlessly to lighting to allow for limitless looks and effects to keep the attention of the audience without dominating the set,” states Ron Drews of Sweetwater Video.
In a recent interview with Live Design’s Marian Sandberg, Walmsley commented, “…I'm actually very proud of the fact that the set is not dominated by video. It's about scenery with video complimenting. It drives me insane how video has totally replaced the art of set design, particularly on TV.”
Ron Drews of Sweetwater Video concludes, “This is a stunning application of the Stealth panels that really demonstrates the product’s versatility. Because of its transparency, the StealthLED system can also easily be aesthetically integrated into creative set designs such as the one Walmsley wanted to realize for the American Idol finals.”