Jimmy Olausson creates theatrics for Avatar Tour with CHAUVET Professional

To light Swedish metal band Avatar, Jimmy Olausson of Illumity AB uses 38 CHAUVET Professional fixtures owned by the band, including 16 Rogue R2X Washes, 10 Rogue R2 Beams and 12 COLORado Q40 Panels. Photo: Jens De Vos

Jimmy Olausson of Illumity AB, Avatar’s lighting designer, has made it his mission to contribute to Avatar’s multi-sensory experience by creating visuals that accent every moment of the band’s performance, from their dramatic romps and leaps to their fierce drum beats and fiery guitar riffs.

Helping him achieve this fusion are 38 CHAUVET Professional fixtures owned by the band, including 16 Rogue R2X Washes, 10 Rogue R2 Beams and 12 COLORado Q40 Panels.

“Our set on this tour is two-hours long, which provides ample room for creativity,” said Olausson. “This set is unique in our touring history because we incorporated more theatrical elements, which provided us with another way to engage and captivate our audience. This show was timecoded. A big reason why is that this allowed me to focus more on the dynamics of the lighting, so I could create a tighter bond between each song and the light show.”

Olausson relied on unique light angles, well-timed atmospherics and an intricate, ever-changing balance between brightness and shadows to reflect his client’s powerful theatrical performance. “In my view, dynamic lighting encompasses more than just the intensity of the lights,” he said. “It also involves the direction, movement, and colors of the lights. I always strive for a balance between darkness and illumination, considering what is not immediately visible.

“One of my preferred techniques for creating high contrast looks is to use my lighting rig statically from various angles and directions,” continued Olausson. “By positioning my R2 Beams to stage right and using side lighting on stage left to illuminate the band, I heightened the contrast, because to the fans, it felt as if their brains were perceiving directional light more than straight lighting. In particular, I find this approach perfect for the tour’s song, ‘Scream Until You Wake.’”

Helping Olausson and his tech crew David Dipswitch and Jacko create this directional effect were his Rogue R2 Washes. He positioned 12 of the RGBW fixtures on pipes attached to 8-foot trusses, which were extended upward to maximum heights of 15-feet. This provided excellent coverage of each band member, while also providing space to showcase pixel effects. The four remaining Rogue R2 Wash units were positioned on vertical trusses on stage left and right for side lighting.

The 12 Rogue R2 beams used on the tour rig were mounted on the same 8-foot truss as the wash fixtures. Olausson relied on them to shoot light straight out into the audience. “I purposely wanted to have the beams mounted in a vertical angle this time around to be able to create more interesting motions with them,” he explained.

Providing the backdrop for the band’s theatrical show were the 12 COLORado Q40 panels. “These fixtures are beasts,” said Olausson. “I arranged them to go on the same trusses as the R2 beams, as well as behind the band entrances on the stage. One thing I utilized way more during this production than on previous tours is individual pixel control. So, having these fixture face the audience opened up endless possibilities to create really unique patterns and chases.”

In a two-hour show, where every song served a very specific purpose, a couple of tunes stood out for Olausson as a lighting designer. “My favorite ‘delicate’ look was probably on the song ‘The Dirt I’m Buried In,’ which is a mid-tempo, pretty poppy song that is fairly simple, but very intimate,” he said. “My favorite ‘metal’ look was in the song ‘Do You Feel In Control,’ in which I abused all functionalities of the lights to serve the song. It’s very fast paced and heavily rhythmic.”

Both of these songs, along with the rest of the set will be played when Avatar begins the North American leg of its tour. Operating the board for the second half of the tour will be LD Tilda Berghäll. As that leg of the tour crosses the USA, some fans, will probably swear that they can hear the musicality of the light as it buzzes by them, just as the UK critic did, but even those who can’t detect that beautiful sound, will have to admire this impressive lightshow visually.