Arlette Gruss Circus in the RoboSpot Light

Robe Robospot system - Arlette Gruss Circus, Arthur Oudin

The Arlette Gruss Circus, based in Strasbourg, northeastern France, and well known for its love of technology and reinvention have embraced a new Robe RoboSpot system when they changed their old Big Top in January 2018.

Talented Lighting Designer, Arthur Oudin had created a brand-new lighting scheme for the Circus in which he adapted the lighting design to the new truss points and integrated the Robe RoboSpots. Renewing a big top is a key milestone for any circus, which happens once every ten years or so. Director Gilbert Gruss and Technical Director Julien Lhomme opted for a radically different tent and designed theirs, Le Privilége, which was manufactured by Italian canvas specialist F. Greco SRL with no inner pole.

This allows an enhanced visual experience for the audience with an unhindered 360-degree view. While pole free construction is a fantastic plus for the audience, it presented several challenges for the lighting crew including the removal of the follow-spot positions above the ring. Arthur’s solution to this was a 2-way Robe RoboSpot system comprising 2 BaseStations controlling 2 BMFL Spots, each with its own MotionCamera clamped near the luminaire.

Arthur explained: “I had properly used and road-tested the RoboSpot and knew it was right for the Circus… Gilbert is a new technology enthusiast and encourages everyone working with him to be curious and experimental, so I am permanently watching out for lateral and interesting solutions. RoboSpot is definitely one of these.”

Vincent Bouquet from Robe France’s technical services team visited the Circus and conducted a RoboSpot test day. “They picked it up very quickly and used the system’s features as positional presets in combination with their own human experience for the best results,” commented Vincent, explaining that they were recalling the position presets on the system to ensure accurate focusing so when the beam opens, then the operators took over control manually to follow the performer live.

Julien Lhomme and his crew, who had used Robe moving lights – Pointes and BMFLs in collaboration with rental specialist Dushow – for the last seasons, were also keen to use the RoboSpot system and discover its many advantages. Using the Robe RoboSpot BaseStations, the operators were located below the audience stands which kept them much cooler in 2018 during the summer heat wave. Especially than in previous years, when they operated from the old follow spot platforms 10 metres above the ring.

With the latest RoboSpot software upgrades which allow multi-device control management, Arthur is thinking ahead to make things more dynamic. “We can easily imagine that some of those BMFLs and Pointes in the main rig might be controlled by the spot operators as well and used simultaneously from several positions on the various trusses making up the lighting rig.”