Colour Sound Get High in Val Thorens

Photos: Jacqueline Feeney

Colour Sound Experiment supplied lighting, video, rigging, special FX plus a crew to various entertainment venues and events associated with the Varsity Trip 2018 in Val Thorens, the highest ski resort in the French Alps at 2300 metres in the Tarentaise Valley, Savoie.

The Colour Sound team of four was led by Steve Marley, and working for Zero Degrees Events, who designed and produced a busy series of Varsity Trip events throughout the week. The main music venue for the week was the Centre Sportif de Val Thorens which featured three full-scale DJ performances – including Rudimental’s DJ set – with numerous other smaller venues hosting off-piste events, including restaurants and bars – scattered around the resort.

Colour Sound also supplied lighting and video, with Zero Degrees co-ordinating and managing production – for French corporate networking company Les Big Boss who had a large event booked into the same venue immediately before the Varsity Trip Opening Night Party.

Steve Marley designed and drew up a lighting and visual plot for the Centre Sportif which was inspired by the stunning mountain location, starting with the video elements – which were made up of Colour Sound’s 2.6 mm Unilumen LED screen rigged in three diamond orientated sections upstage forming a striking ‘mountainscape’.

The central mountain was 5 metres wide by 5 high at the summit, flanked by two at 1.5 m wide by 5 m high, all flown from the venue roof.

All three upstage LED maintains were outlined with Martin VDO Sceptron 10 1 metre LED battens.

The front of the DJ booth was also clad with the same LED screen formatted as in two smaller mountain peaks. Downstage of the back screens, on the stage deck but still at the back were four trussing towers – the two offstage ones each side were 3 m high and the two central ones – so as not to obscure the mountain view – were 1 m high. Two 3 m towers downstage left and right in the corners provided some front cross-stage lighting positions… all of them on wheeled tank traps – for quick and easy deployment and repositioning.

The towers were each rigged with two active Sunstrips mounted on the fronts at angles congruous with the triangular orientation of the mountain peaks, and at the ends of each Sunstrip was a Prolight Performer 18 Quad LED PAR.

All of this provided an extremely dynamic back wall of lighting and visual options which could be used to dramatically change the look and feel of the stage setups for each of the shows.

Four trusses were flown down the sides of the room, with the two nearest the stage also used for additional front lighting positions. A box truss was flown above the dancefloor or audience area for additional lighting and ramping the vibes up for the superlative party atmosphere that accompanies the serious skiing also associated with the Varsity Trip.

The main profile lights were Robe MMX Spots, with Robe Spiiders and LEDWash 600s, selected for the washes, all distributed between the various trussing components, joined by some LightSky AquaBeam 440s.

Prolight Q40 LED floods – which also produce a great strobe – were scattered around, and eight Martin Atomics boosted the strobe factor when needed. Lighting was programmed and run by Jenn Webber using an Avolites Tiger Touch II console. Video content was also provided by Colour Sound and programmed and run from a Green Hippo Amba v4 media server, operated by Jani Fodor.

Completing the Colour Sound crew was Tim “Cannonball” Meadowcroft, who took care of all the special FX which included a Galaxis G-Flame system, MagicFX CO 2 jets and Sparkular electronic gerbs, an innovative and eye-popping effect – controlled by an Avolites Tiger Touch II – which can be used almost anywhere safely including indoors and outside in below freezing temperatures!

The performance shows all included an array of effects, and Tim was on hand to supply sparks and flashes and engage in plenty of effects ‘firing’ up and down the slopes for après ski parties, which was a great environment and proving the ground for the versatility of the Sparkulars!

The biggest challenge of the job explained Steve was dealing with the physical impact of the altitude during the load in. “It’s certainly the highest altitude loads-in we have done to date” stated Steve. “We loved the great teamwork and camaraderie with Neil and his core crew… and everyone else involved on the production side who were working for Zero Degrees. We all – including the noise boys – pitched in together and worked as a single technical team to ensure the shows were delivered to very high standards”.

The Colour Sound crew also managed to snatch a few moments to polish their impressive snowboarding and skiing skills on the slopes between shows and events, enjoying the great energy and vibe of the Varsity Trip event, the Alpine views and the winter wonderland scenery.