James Thomas Engineering's new Pixel range of LED fixtures was specified and used by Granada TV lighting director Neil Yates on three special celebrity editions of the popular series Stars in Their Eyes. Yates used 16 Pixelline battens and eight PixelPAR 660 PAR-64 equivalent fixtures, plus a large moving light rig for the shows. The Pixellines were used vertically all around the spectacular set, designed by Richard Plumb, to add a punchy architectural striplight effect on camera. The PixelPAR 660s were also used visibly on the set, where they functioned as dancer footlights. Yates, who's lit this show for its various series over the last five years, decided to try the fixtures following a demo by James Thomas' Chris Ewington.
Working with his team, Vari*Lite operator Mike "Oz" Owen and console operator Ken Nelson, Yates needed to ensure the lighting rig was as versatile as possible to cover the wide assortment of musical styles in the three programs. These ranged from gentle ballads to rock numbers to cabaret turns complete with dancers.
The quality of visuals, technical elements, and performance was extremely high. The set formed an ideal backdrop, a beguiling series of interlocking white sails above, with a curved staircase sweeping down from the rear of stage below, complete with a set of electric under-stair doors for entrances and exits.
Photos: Louise Stickland
The Pixel fixtures were controlled by Owen with a Vari*Lite Virtuoso(tm) console. He was suitably impressed with their brightness and fast response time, finding them as ideal for rock-and-roll moments as for subtle sculptural effects. They also used the Pixel's fast strobing capabilities in scatter-style effects around the set. This was enhanced by a built-in strobing device featured on all fixtures in the range. They can also be strobed in different colors to produce a powerful and dramatic rainbow effect.
Recording took place with live audiences, over an intense week in Studio 12 of Granada's complex in central Manchester. The first celebrity Stars in Their Eyes included covers of songs by superstars like Madonna and Sinatra; the second featured performances from various soap stars, and the third program featured covers of hits from Robbie Williams, Don Henley, Diana Ross, and others, all sung by Coronation Street stars.