Belfast based lighting rental company Production Services Ireland (PSI) supplied all lighting and crew to the White Sapphire Ball, a high profile gala charity event in aid of the Northern Ireland Children's Hospice, staged at the Europa Hotel in Belfast.
Asked onboard by event organiser, actress and local celebrity SéainÃn Brennan, PSI was challenged with a brief of creating something original with a high WOW factor for the occasion, which featured entertainment from the cast of Riverdance and other leading theatrical productions for the 400 VIP audience.
PSI's Sean Pagel presented a production design, which included the wrapping of the end of the Europa's Grand Ballroom in a combination of high and low resolution ColorWeb LED surface.
This provided a highly dynamic backdrop, making a dramatic visual impression whilst offering the practical facility of being able to run text, sponsors logos and other video content via a Hippotizer Express media server.
The ColorWeb feature also enabled the room to be extended out from the 10 metre stage width to include an additional 5 metres either side, adding depth and dimension to the performance area.
A major technical challenge was the 6 metres of headroom, reduced to 5 metres with the 1 metre high stage. The PSI crew utilised the in-house flying facilities over the stage and also built ground supported trussing goal posts to provide left and right side wings.
They flew a rear truss, and used an existing front house bar for front-of-stage lighting positions.
Due to the expedient stage space, 10 x Robe ColorWash 250 moving lights were selected - for their compact size - and hung on the back truss to give beam and movement effects, together with 8 Martin Professional MAC 250s chosen for the same reason. Another 6 MAC 250s were positioned on the floor upstage, with another 6 Robe ColorWash 250s on the front house bar, used for stage washes. Front key lighting was provided by 4 x ETC Source Fours.
The dinner tables and audience were illuminated with 6-way PAR bars overhead, all hooked into the stage lighting system.
Show lighting was operated by Joe Byrne using a Jands Vista T2 console, working alongside Alan Clarke, who operated the Hippo in stand-alone mode.
Outside the Europa, PSI placed 4 Studio Due 3Kw Space Flowers either side of the red carpet to add to the excitement and hubbub of arriving guests.
Time and access was exceptionally tight! The load-in was at 3 a.m. on the day of the event to be ready for 6 p.m. doors! All the equipment had to be moved up to the first floor Ballroom via a small service lift - a feat achieved by 18 crew including sound, and some fantastic teamwork.
Sean Pagel comments, "It was great to be involved in this event. SéainÃn approached me early on, so I had a good deal of input from the start. It is a very worthy cause about which SéainÃn is totally passionate, so we were all well aware of needing to maximize the money raising potential by providing top class event production at a good price".