Robe Lights Autosport Car Show 2018

Lighting Designer Nathan Wan returned to the Live Action Arena at the 2018 Autosport show; 2018’s challenge was to make Hall 5 of the National Exhibition Centre (NEC)
in Birmingham even more visually exciting for 50 minutes of performance car races.

Wan utilised over 250 Robe moving lights, working for the Live Arena’s equipment suppliers and technical consultants, Network Productions. Network’s Nick Halliday looked after the Live Arena’s technical direction and management aspects, with Dave Beel as production manager. “We enjoy a great rapport and are all really into motorsport as well which works to everyone’s advantage,” explained Wan.

The Live Action Arena is one of the most challenging environments to light. Wan introduced the Robe BMFLs into the mix last year for the first time, which made a massive difference to the dynamics he could create with the rig. Apart from getting enough brightness, other parameters to consider include not blinding drivers as they sped round the short track, so fixture placement was crucial.

In the centre of the arena facing the 5000 capacity seating tribune were 3 large LED screens, and to get some more lighting architecture into this area, the design included 2 6m diameter circles of truss, hung vertically either side of the centre screen facing the audience. Each of these was populated with 20 Robe MegaPointes which provided 2 high impact blocks of effects lighting at Wan’s fingertips, capable of reaching along and across the 150m long by 40m wide arena / track.

A series of long trusses in the roof were trimmed at about 9m and these were rigged with
88N Robe BMFL Spots, 40 Robe Pointes and 36 LEDWash 600s. 36 Robe Spiider LED wash beams were rigged on top of 6 5m high scenic L-shaped Singapore F1 night-race style gantries that reached 9m over the track. These were introduced last year for the first time and were a big hit with everyone when Wan rigged them with LEDBeam 100s. This year he wanted a totally different lighting effect from this lower angle, and so chose the Robe Spiiders, with 6 per gantry.

A major reason for using Spiiders in this position was to introduce some more kinetic video-styles and shaped effects that capitalised on the map-ability of the fixtures. “I was keen to bring a new visual dimension to the show,” explained Wan. “It’s in a very similar setting each year, so it’s important to keep that evolving and changing as many people return year after year. They all enjoy the thrill of the race, the action and the exhilaration of high octane driving… and so I want to make sure they get an equally stimulating lightshow!”

Wan utilised the Robe Spiiders’ embedded ArKaos Kling-Net protocol – allowing the distribution of real-time video data to remote display devices – to create great eye candy, while the potent wash properties of the units provided excellent general track lighting.
He also utilised a combination of custom and library video content which was run via ArKaos MediaMaster software to the Spiiders, triggered from his lighting console.

4 Robe BMFL Spots – positioned above the FOH position – were used as follow spots, remotely controlled by Wan via his Avolites Tiger Touch II console, which were great for
illuminating the presenter David Croft and guests coming onto the track for interviews.
The Robe BMFLs were used generally as track lighting for the races, and for texturing and adding colour and depth cross the arena in between races and during the interview sections.

The Robe Pointes were deployed for specials and co-ordinated beam-work as well as to augment some of the MegaPointe looks. The Robe LEDWash 600s provided essential and backup key lighting and also contributed big, bold generic washes across the arena complimenting the BMFLs.

With 6 tightly choreographed shows a day and 30 minute pit-stops between each one,
reliability of the kit is a major concern – there was no time for taking kit on and off the rig – and another reason that Wan is always happy to work with Robe lights. He and his team also didn’t know what the show would be like before they get to site and the lights
were rigged and in position, so an amount of contingency had to be inherent in the design. “It needs to be versatile, and I need to be able to get light – quickly – everywhere, sometimes at a moment’s notice!”

He programmed and ran the show on 2 Avolites TigerTouch II desks plus lots of network processing, with the ArKaos MediaMaster on a laptop running video to the Robe Spiiders plus 70m of LED batten placed around the track’s concrete safety wall. Design-wise, the hardest elements was to light everywhere without there being a specific centre stage, and also, with such a long lengthwise dimension, make the show look totally different at any one time depending on where people are sitting.