Robe Goes Mega for Israel Independence Day

Image courtesy of Louise Stickland

The performance area for this years 70th anniversary of the 1948 Declaration of Independence in Israel, was lit by 55 Robe MegaPointes and 68 Robe BMFLs.

The event is organised by the Culture Ministry and broadcast live on all Israeli TV channels.
It is also attended by an invited audience of 7,500 who this year saw a cast of 1500 perform a specially devised show directed by Ran Zahor. This was a mixture of official ceremonial elements – including the lighting of 12 torches to represent the 12 tribes of Israel and an address by Yuli-Yoel Edelstein, Speaker of the Knesset – inter-spliced with a high energy entertainment spectacle.

“It is always a great honour to work on this show” were Lighting Designer Ronen Najar’s first comments on the event, which he has lit for the last 10 years. In 2018, an additional budget was made available in view of the 70 year landmark which was ploughed into creating a landmark show.

The set design by Nitzan Refaely was the first visual element to be finalised. In 2018, it comprised a large structure incorporating the tomb in the centre towards the front. Behind this, a slope with a walkway was created and covered in projection screen material, brought alive by images from 15 x 25K Epson laser projectors.

The rear of the structure was rigged with multiple LED screens, and there were also projections across the massive field-of-play area.

Najar designed his lighting rig and chose fixtures taking on-board all these parameters together with what was needed to achieve his imaginative goals and communicate the emotion of the occasion to the audiences. A fine balance between precision and high-impact effects was required to enhance the range of atmospheres needed and the sheer dynamics of the 2 hour show. Very bright sources were the only option, both for the throw distances and to hold their own against the high levels of LED at the back. He also needed a fixture that could be shuttered – hence the BMFL WashBeams – for moments like the torch ceremony, speeches, the flag transfer and the military bands section. All of this was juxtaposed with a programme of dance ‘production’ numbers full of bouncing cast members, mobile props and punctuated with strategic fireworks and pyro cues. The shutters were also essential in ensuring that lighting didn’t interfere with any of the projections.

A 25 x 40 metre box truss was flown above the centre of the performance space, suspended on sky hooks from 2 giant cranes supplied by Yehuda’s Cranes. Their elegant masts were extended to 50 metres (from a total potential reach of 70 metres) and the load – heavy duty trussing, lighting fixtures and LED video border – was picked up on 12 points and trimmed at 18 metres above the show floor.

Flying this part of the rig from the cranes was an inspired piece of rigging engineering that ensured fantastic, clean sight lines. In addition to these, 2 large scaffolding gantries were built at the front of the field-of-play adding more lighting and audio positions and the backs of the 3 seating tribunes were also utilised.

The Robe MegaPointes were all positioned on the stage set and used for high impact back lighting and high clarity gobo projections skimming the floor and stunning aerial effects blasting up into the night sky.

The Robe BMFL Spots and Robe BMFL WashBeams were deployed across all the other lighting positions and were used for multiple tasks, from key lighting for the speeches and torch-bearers, the military parade sections of the show, to washing the performance area with rich colours, some secondary gobo projections and for specials and highlighting specific sections throughout the performance.

“They were the perfect powerful multi-purpose fixture for the occasion,” stated Najar.

The show and the 13-camera telecast benefitted from Najar’s television experience and needed a skilful combination of several lighting disciplines which he delivered with thought and effect. It was the first time Najar had utilised Robe MegaPointes on 1 of his shows as they have just recently arrived in Israel. These and the rest of the lighting plus the audio system were supplied by the Simul Argaman Group.

“The MegaPointe is amazing!” declared Najar, “I love the intensity, the colours are incredible, the focus is excellent and the gobos crisp and clear.” While he didn’t employ a vast number of fast movement chases on this event, he commented that the speed of this function also impressed him.

Robe’s Israeli distributor Danor Theatre and Studio Systems was instrumental in ensuring that enough Robe MegaPointes were made available in time for this event. Danor’s Erez Hadar commented: “We are very pleased that MegaPointes were specified by Ronen for this show… it is great to have as a reference and it is thanks to the whole team at Robe for helping us make this happen”.

Najar has designed many light-shows for large ceremonies and the challenge is always time. On this 1, they lost 3 nights of programming time due to rain, so everything was compressed into 3 all-night sessions.

Najar worked intensely with 2 assistant LDs, Jonathan Frixo and Matti Murray and they used an MA Lighting grandMA2 platform, Najar’s choice as the most flexible and stable control solution.

The event’s camera director was Amir Ukrainitz and the playback video content was produced by Shay Bonder. Video and projection was supplied by ScreenLight and AVS respectively, the stage set was built by Bimot 88 and the rigging contractors were Gader Vagan.