The L’Oreal Professional Colour Trophy held its first event way back in 1956 and by the 1960s there were hairdressers competing from up to 14 regional locations to gain a place in the London Grand Final. Today, it remains the most prominent hairdresser’s competition in Britain with the regional finals consisting of a competition section, choreographed catwalk shows from big name designers and a traditional awards show that tours around the country.
Now widely regarded within the industry as the ‘Vogue’ of hairdressing award ceremonies, lighting designer David Miller needs to provide a rig that caters for an exceptionally broad range of venues and stage set-ups. “This tour is organised by Fisher Productions who are renowned for their high end production values. I went to Point Source Productions for control and lighting fixtures for this show as they could provide the quality of control and luminaires that I was looking for: MA and Clay Paky. The combination of using a grandMA2 light, an MA VPU Plus along with an MA 2Port Node for backup gave me everything I wanted for control and more.’
‘The vagaries of such a varied type of locations for the regional finals often meant that this show has to be completely pre-programmed due to very limited or tight timescales. The off-line editor facility on both the grandMA2 light and the MA VPU Plus means I don’t need the hardware for too long beforehand. I am particularly impressed with the hardware of the VPU, from the overall build quality and software stability to the extras such as professional balanced audio output, EDID, the high quality HD-SDI input and the down to little details like knowing the software backup is on a USB drive attached to the unit should I ever need it. This all means it really can be used right out of the flight case without plugging in lots of extras peripherals, such as keyboards, mice, additional soundcards etc… As with the rest of the MA system, the networking is incredibly easy for control, tracking backup, loading and syncing the media. The blind preview feature is very useful when we have to load and check edited media during the show.”
To some prospective users, the MA choice may seem like an unfordable luxury but Miller disagrees: “The integration with the MA2 means it is possible for me to run both lighting and media very easily, even with very limited time to alter the show for each venue. It also enabled us to cut one crew member which helps with the budgets. In venues where we were very squeezed for FOH space the MA set-up really helped us out on more than one occasion.”
MA Lighting enjoys an exclusive sales and service agreement in the UK with Ambersphere Solutions along with lighting manufacturers Clay Paky and Robert Juliat. On this show, Miller chose to use a variety of Clay Paky fixtures. “All the fixtures I chose from the Clay Paky stable have a particular role to play,” says Miller. “The Alpha 700s are a very good, general purpose profile; bright yet low power, small and lightweight but still have the features you’d expect on larger fixtures. They are simply great for corporate jobs where everything seems to be limited nowadays from budget and truck space to power and rigging.”
It is the combination of technical features along with the flexibility that comes with colour matching and economical use of power that Miller returns to when considering the value of the K10s. “These were used to supplement the fresnel wash for traditional catwalk lighting. The colour mixing is amazing, they can go from subtle pastel colours (I especially like the CTO) to the more saturated colours which means the same fixtures can cover the key light together with back and side lighting as well as blending very well with the conventional fixtures. However, in several venues where power was limited they were the only lighting source we could use for certain sections of the show. As far as I know, the stills and video photographers didn’t even notice when I did this, or at least they didn’t complain which is always a good sign!’
‘The individual pixel control greatly enhances the versatility of the K10s and offers the opportunity for very dynamic effects for creating new exciting and dynamic looks that clients haven’t seen before. These can be simple split beam colour effects to animated geometric patterns on the lens. The ability to control them from a media server adds another dimension to these effects with more subtle and organic colour changes across whole banks of fixtures that wouldn’t normally be possible with a traditional effects engine. The new firmware has added great features; the effects section makes it very easy to create pixel mapped style effects and I love the tungsten emulation mode for when they are used with conventionals. They really are amazingly versatile fixtures.”
Last but not least, Miller is no less enthusiastic about the Sharpy and the Sharpy Wash; “As with the K10s, the low power and weight of these really helps simplify the rig which is especially useful for very short get-in times. Their lightweight meant that the truss could be cantilevered, avoiding the need for extra ground support. They are so bright that, even in places where haze is not allowed, the ambient dust is enough to maintain the beamy effects. The new Sharpy Wash gives you a lot of features for such a small fixture; I especially like the beam shaper and top hat since they are rigged right above the projection screen and it means I can minimise spill when backlighting a stage directly in front of the screen.” For Miller, the recipe of MA Lighting control and Clay Paky fixtures is a winning combination whatever the venue.