Every 360ﹾ stage comes with its own special set of challenges, believes Martin Hruška. The rigging is more complex, so is cable management. Then there is the issue of positioning lighting fixtures and video panels in a way that won’t impede fan viewing angles and artist mobility.
Nevertheless, when the renowned designer’s client approved his plans to go with a costlier 360ﹾ stage for arena shows by Czech star Leoš Mareš, he was ecstatic. “The essence of Leoš Mareš is to connect with the audience,” said Hruška. “He is always going out on catwalks to connect to the audience. This is an artist who thrives on constant contact. Given this, I wanted a stage open on all sides in the middle of the arena, with two catwalks that extend out into the crowd.”
Judging from the powerfully evocative looks that are supporting Mareš on his tour through Europe, the decision to go with the 360ﹾ configuration was right on the mark. The multi-level center stage structure is actually an open square, with two U-shaped cat walks extending far into the audience from two of its sides, thus giving the star ample opportunities to connect with fans seated in different sections.
Drawing on a high-output 300-fixture rig that was run on a ChamSys MagicQ MQ500M, Hruška and his team are filling venues with radiant colors, mostly red, creating different moods each time they go through slight changes in hues, light angles, and intensity levels. Downlighting from an overhead circular truss structure pulls eyes toward the center stage, making every fan feel as if they have an ideal sight angle.
“When creating a 360 scene, you will always encounter complications,” said Hruška. “You need more lights, no matter how you use them, because you work with lights for multiple sides. Getting the lighting right is essential. I also tried to put the lights on the audience, but it’s always a compromise with regard to the audience and the budget. I am satisfied that the overall shape of the stage.
“The overall shape of the stage dominates visually, and is recognizable at first glance as unique,” continued Hruška. “The whole scene benefited from the color red, and in the songs where I could use fog, I enjoyed it because it created mass in space.”
Working closely with Hruška was LD and programmer Lukáš Patzenhauer who ran the show on the MQ500M. Patzenhauer noted that he found the Timeline Editor to be an invaluable tool in his 200-universe timecoded show.
“Programming this timecoded show was very fast with this desk,” he said. “Having the timecode in rows made it very easy to work with and I liked being able to import audio files to the timecode. The 3D Pixel Mapping Engine in this console is also state of the art; and the Macro Command Line gave me many options during the programming of shows.”
Running the show smoothly, the MagicQ MQ500M is helping Hruška achieve the vision that inspired his 360 design. “In a project such as this, you want the right tools and the right people,” he said. “I am fortunate to have worked with talented people like the head of production Cyril Hořánek, my assistant Michal Szozda, assistant director Tereza Suchardová, and Lukáš Patzenhauer. Together, we created a scene that was original and special.”
Speaking of the audience, Hruška said that his innovative stage design freed up enough space to accommodate roughly 8,000 additional people. Like everyone else in the arena, those 8,000 left the Leoš Mareš show feeling like they had enjoyed a very personal experience with this engaging star.