The award-winning BlackTrax by CAST helped elevate the Eurovision Song Contest 2013 to new heights. The Eurovision Song Contest is an annual competition held among active member countries of the European Broadcasting Union. The show is the most-watched non-sporting event in the world, with television and internet viewing audience figures in recent years between 200 and 600 million internationally. In May of 2013, the contest was held at Malmö Arena in Malmö, Sweden, with Sweden having won the title in 2012.

The contest is known for employing the newest, cutting-edge technologies in the entertainment industry. Many products have made their breakthrough debut on the Eurovision Song Contest.

CAST BlackTrax was specified to provide tracking for two major performances at the event – the opening act of the semi final, 'Urban Orchestra', and the return to the Eurovision stage of 2012's winner, Loreen. Technical director Ola Melzig was unremitting in his praise of the system's performance, commenting: “Thanks to BlackTrax, we were able to do things that no one has ever done before – it took the show to a new level. With over 1200 lighting fixtures and almost 30 of the largest, brightest video projectors in the world, we clearly don’t make equipment decisions casually. Given the size and complexity of Eurovision you can’t have any mistakes. The precise target information that BlackTrax provided was perfect for the acts it was used on.”

During the performance by Urban Orchestra, BlackTrax was used to track BMX riders and rollerbladers onstage, enabling effects to be projected on the floor at their exact position, without any lag or drift of the effect from the performer. Dancers, meanwhile, performed in line with pre-programmed effects and therefore were required to be in exactly the right position at the right time in order for effects to follow them accurately. At times this proved tricky to pull off, but with small BlackTrax beacons, the performers had the freedom to move about, without having to worry about cues and positioning.

BlackTrax was then used during the final of the contest for Loreen who, along with several other aerialist performers, was tracked while 'flying' above the stage. To do this without BlackTrax would have required either 12 follow spot operators or pre-cueing of moving lights.

Lighting designer Fredrik Jönsson said, “The only way of doing the flying effect with Loreen without BlackTrax would have been with extra follow spots, which we could not have in that position since they would have been seen by the cameras. In addition, BlackTrax works seamlessly with WYSIWYG, which was our tool for previsualization. The combination was very powerful.”

The overall performance of BlackTrax in the demanding environment of the Eurovision arena was deemed to have been exceptional. Despite more than 70 Wi-Fi devices in the venue with an enormous level of RF noise, none of this interfered with BlackTrax.

The show was a huge success and considered one of the best in Eurovision history.

Design Team:

Lighting Design
FREDRIK JÖNSSON
EMMA LANDARE

Stage Design
VIKTOR BRATTSTRÖM
FRIDA ARVIDSSON

Video Content Designer
MIKKI KUNTTU

Technical Director
OLA MELZIG

Lighting Operators
CALLE BRATTBERG
TIMO KAURISTO
PONTUS LAGERBIELKE
DANNE PERSSON

Video Content Operators
MIKKO LINNAVUORI
NEIL TRENELL

Equipment List:

12 grandMA II Light
16 grandMA NPU
12 Hippotizer HDV3 Genlock
8 Hippotizer Grasshopper
2 Barco Encore LC
2 W-DMX BlackBox F-1 MKII
1 CAST BlackTrax system with 20 beacons
200 Clay Paky Sharpy
75 Sharpy Wash
181 Alpha Spot
50 Alpha Beam 1500
82 SGM SP-6
32 Solaris LED Flare
24 A & O Falcon Flower
28 Barco HDQ2K40 DLP
12 Barco SLM 12