Astera LED Creates a Field of Dreams at Sydney’s New Year Celebrations

A field of Astera LED Titan Tubes. Photo: Damo Pryor.

Lighting Designer, Hugh Taranto illuminated a vibrant array of Australian artists performing on the Sydney Stage of the 2020-21 Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)’s New Year’s Eve broadcast.

This year the event was aptly titled ‘We Are One’ in light of a difficult year for the region, which has wrestled with bushfires and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As the date of the New Year’s celebrations approached, organisers took the decision to celebrate without a live audience.

Taranto enlisted the support of lighting vendor, Chameleon Touring Systems, which deployed 56 Astera LED Titan Tubes, set up to create an “immersive light display” – which was dubbed ‘The Field of Dreams’ by the producers.

Underlining the symbolic importance of this year’s roll over, for the first time ever the broadcast was split between ‘live’ stages in Sydney and Melbourne, both with a stellar line-up including Paul Kelly, Amy Shark, DMA’s, Vera Blue, The Teskey Brothers, Casey Donovan, Odette and Ben Lee. Taranto designed the lighting rig with Sydney Harbour Bridge illuminations designed by Ziggy Ziegler.

The Sydney Stage site was situated on the Opera House’s northern forecourt complete with a view of the Bridge behind. “The idea was to support the various performances visually with chases, pulses and effects running through the Titan Tubes,” explained Taranto.

“Even if I don’t always have a specific use for them in mind, they are amazing fixtures to have on standby for use as needed,” he confirmed, adding “being wireless and with a long battery life, they are instantly deployable and they read well on cameras / television without any flicker or colour rendering issues.”

Astera LED Titan Tubes were run in four-cell RGB and dim modes to produce colour and intensity, without taking up too many DMX channels. For time and programming expediency, the Astera units were cloned in an MA Lighting grandMA2 lighting console, which Taranto operated in unison with other LED fixtures on the rig or independently.

Planning for the notorious sea winds, the ABC’s art department supplied a sandbag that anchored each Titan Tube stand to the floor, wrapped in Hessian fabric to blend into the granite colour of the forecourt.

“Astera’s battery power and wireless control greatly assisted in creating the clean, streamlined aesthetic we wanted, and saved considerable time due to needing no cable management. Being waterproof was a great asset as it rained for periods on the night,” Taranto explained. “While the lighting wasn’t a replacement for the energy and passion of a live audience, the Titan Tubes were a fantastic addition and helped deliver a memorable NYE event full of the spirit of optimism and looking forward to a better year ahead.”

As well as designing, Taranto programmed and operated lighting for the Sydney Stage, in collaboration with ABC Lighting Director, Rob Cotterill.

The Chameleon Touring Systems team comprised Crew Chief, Alex Celi; LX Tech, Justin Yuen; Followspot Operators, Rebecca Bain and Peter Jacobs; Account Handler, Luke Cuthbertson. Chameleon Touring System’s Astera products in rental stock were supplied by Australian distributor, ULA Group.

The bridge lighting was designed by Ziggy Ziegler from incREDible Studios and the bridge lighting was operated by Ben Ronczka with pyro controlled by Fortunato Foti and colleagues from Foti Fireworks.