lighting and video designer: Mikki Kunttu
production manager: Ola Melzig
video: Massteknik, Beacon, West Lighting
suppliers: Spectra, Eastway
stage: Rikka Kytönen, Stage One
host: Broadcaster: YLE
It’s the second most widely viewed television program in the world, trailing only the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics. The Eurovision Song Contest is a 52-year-old live television broadcast in which countries belonging to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) compete with their unique song to win top honors and the privilege of hosting the contest the following year. The show now pushes the boundaries every year with regards to lighting, rigging, and staging, and boasts in excess of 200 million viewers.
The show takes the better part of a year to produce, involving over 1,600 people working on the production by the time of its broadcast. The process begins just one week after the winner is announced, and the new host country begins the planning process together with the EBU. Each year brings a new venue, new host broadcaster, and new team members, in addition to new languages, currencies, and cultural offerings. The show is by no means a “cut-and-paste” of the preceding year.
When Finland won Eurovision in 2006, Finnish host broadcaster YLE contracted Finnish lighting designer Mikki Kunttu, who teamed up with production manager Ola Melzig, who had managed the show five times previously. One of the biggest challenges for the 2007 show was the sheer number of songs. 42 countries, the largest number in Eurovision history, competed on one stage in two live broadcasts: the semi-finals and the finals. Each and every country required a unique look for their song from the same core of lights and video equipment. This took a very imaginative approach from the creative team and required products that provided extreme versatility.
The overall lighting design involved a series of layers as backdrops to the stage: hanging “fish scales” in front of a 2,100-sq.ft (200 sqm) Barco MiTrix screen in front of a stardrop. Between the MiTrix and stardrop were twelve moving trusses, six each suspending Syncrolite B52s surrounded by six PAR64s, and six more each with four moving lights. The MiTrix provided transparency to see the lights shining from behind. The MiTrix was then split in the middle by a circular stage, catwalk, and a curved back center all filled with Barco OLite 510 for video. This was all capped with approximately 400 moving lights hung on curved trussing overhead.
April 17 was the official load in, due to a successful ice hockey season, which occupied Hartwall Arena until the 16th. Prior to load in, three full weeks of preprogramming was done by a five-person team on lighting and two for video, all of whom also acted as operators for the broadcasts. Front-of-house was moved into the arena on April 23, so the lighting, video, and stage crew was only given seven days to get just under 100 tons of equipment up and running. Once front-of-house moved in on the 23rd, they were only given five days for live programming for 42 songs, two opening acts, and two interval acts before rehearsals began.
By final broadcast on May 12, the team spent 3,780 hours of programming lights and video using 22,016 control channels. Six full universes were run on W-DMX. The team rendered terabytes of graphics and programmed thousands of cues.
The generators for the show provided a total of five megawatts of power consuming a total 90 tons of diesel fuel. Lighting and video alone consumed 1,537,350W. A total of over one mile (1.7km) of truss was required to hang all the equipment, rigged off 281 points and it took 53 miles (85,858 meters) of cabling to feed the lighting and video systems.
As the crew joked throughout the production: What could possibly go wrong?
30 Wireless Solution WDMX S-1 receivers
7 Wireless Solution WDMX T-1 transmitters
10 grandMA full size
2 grandMA light
14 Green Hippo Hippotizer HD v3
1 ESP Vision Pre Visualization
100 Robe Colorspot 1200E AT
90 Robe Colorwash 120E AT
100 Robe Colorspot 2500E AT
80 Robe Colorspot 700E AT
60 Robe Colorwash 250E AT
8 Robe Mediaspinners
7 Syncrolite B52
2100 sq ft (200 sqm) Barco MiTrix
1350 sq ft (125 sqm) Barco O-lite 510
8 Barco D320 processors
645 sq ft (60 sqm) Robe Stage Qube
19 Studio Due CS-4
32 Cyberhoist 500kg
4 Cyberhoist 250kg
1 Fogscreen Inia
All lamps supplied by Philips