Yves Aucoin has had quite a run as Celine Dion’s chosen production and lighting designer for 19 years, and the start of her Taking Chances tour earlier this year was no exception. Aucoin, whose approach to designing, programming, and touring is “old school—I like to program myself,” is back in production to bring the tour to North America, and we caught up with the designer just before he went back to rehearsals.
LD: How did you get involved in the planning of this particular tour?
Yves Aucoin: Because I've been with Celine Dion for 19 years, they like to share their future with me, as well as with Denis Savage and Mego, the band leader. So I knew about the tour about a year in advance, and we started to put ideas together with Celine and [her husband/manger] Rene around that time.
LD: What were your design goals this time out?
YA: We’d just finished a five year deal in Las Vegas, and it was imperative to go somewhere else in the design. We decided to put her with her band and dancers as close as possible to the audience.
LD: Together to that more intimate level, what look were you going for?
YA: She likes everything about fashion, so we tried to give her a fresh, young look, and the stage is just a center platform with runaways all around. And I should also mention that we are playing in the round. Having a stage in the middle of the arena is always challenging for lighting, so we came up with a moving system for [an Element Labs] Stealth screen that provides us different options for looks.
LD: What others get involved in the visual design process?
YA: Jamie King is the show director. He came on board in May, and with his great talent, he proposed to Celine a show that fits her well. He has such a great energy. He came with eight superb dancers that are a big part of the show. The video content was designed by Dago from Veneno in Los Angeles. He and his team did a fantastic job of creating hot video segments that give a signature to the visual of the show.
LD: You program your own show. Can you talk a little about the console set up?
YA: I use an [MA Lighting] grandMA for everything on one desk, and I have a backup. Most of the video sequences run out of a timeline, but everything goes through my desk, so I keep control.
LD: What about the set and integrating that into the design?
YA: I was in square mood, I guess, so it’s a not-so-big square of 48' x 48'. In this space, [there are] four band lifts, four corner lifts, two-by-two step lifts, and two conveyer belts of 28' long. On the left and right of the stage, we have two 36'-long wings that give her access to the audience in the bleachers. Those are the best seats in the building.
LD: What surfaces are used to project video?
YA: We are projecting from a stack of two Christies per side, times four on 16'x 26' front screens. All the moving screens are the Stealths. The floor of the stage is covered with the DreamPanel LED floor tiles from Ayrton.
LD: Are there any major challenges during playback each night or during rehearsals?
YA: I have to say that it has been pretty smooth during the shows up to now…a few glitches here and there but mostly because of lack of concentration from myself.
LD: Did anything in particular affect your gear and/or design choices?
YA: After the first load-in in Manchester, I had to let go of a chunk of Stealth panels.
We were overweight, and in the time frame of a normal day, those elements were too long to install, and everything else was late. Sometimes you have to make calls like that and find a way that it will look better without something. It took a little bit of time, but now I’m satisfied with this new edition.
All gear for the tour is supplied by Solotech in Montreal. Aucoin was assisted by Karl Gaudreau of Solotech.
Celine Dion Taking Chances Gear
8 Robert Juliat Cyrano Followspot
2 MA Lighting grandMA Consoles
1 MA Lighting Replay Unit
7 MA Lighting NSP
4 MA Lighting Node 2 Truss Mount
2 Doug Fleenor Matrix DMX Input Module
5 Doug Fleenor Matrix DMX Output Module
9 Wireless Solution W-DMX Receiver
2 Wireless Solution W-DMX Transmitter
4 ELC Fiber Switch LX
4 ELC Cat 5 Switch LX
88 Vari-Lite VL3000 Spot
18 Vari-Lite VL3000 Wash
22 Vari-Lite VL3500 Wash
32 Vari-Lite VL2500 Spot
26 Martin Atomic Strobes
26 Martin Atomic Color Scrollers
122 Ayrton Module AWW
48 Ayrton Arcaline 50 RGB
188 Ayrton DreamPanel LED Floor Tile
24 Ayrton DreamPanel LED Wall Tile
1,080 Element Labs Stealth V2.5 with Custom Header Bar
8 Coolux Media Server HD
9 Christie Digital Roadster 18,000-lumen Projectors
4 Gerriets Roll Up Screen DMX
8 MDG Hazers
18 CM 1-ton Chain Hoist
30 CM 2-ton Chain Hoist
15 Chain Master Vario-Lifts 1/4 Ton
16 Arco Fab Pre-Rig Truss
44 Arco Fab Chanel Truss 20”x20”
28 Arco Fab Truss 20”x20”