Robe Lights New Zealand’s First Post-Iso Arena Show

Robe lighting fixtures help put hands in the air during L.A.B.'s landmark Auckland gig.

Before Aukland, New Zealand returned to lockdown on 11 August, L.A.B. headlined the Spark Arena with Robe lighting fixtures among the moving lights chosen for a production design created by Lighting Designer, Jack Hooper. Marking his first gig for the band – the LD along with the performing artists, management team Loop, Visual Director, Olivier Jean and live video specialist, Big Picture – embarked on New Zealand’s first arena show in July, following the initial lockdown of live events.

The landmark event was enabled by New Zealand’s COVID-19 response, which saw a nationwide end to lockdown in early June and social distancing relaxed, with a return to the prospect of live shows and events. Despite recent changes, as of 11 August, when new cases were recorded for the first time in 102 days, leaving Auckland back on lockdown. Beforehand, the concert, promoted by Loop, marked L.A.B.’s largest gig to date.

Originally planned for Auckland Town Hall – the demand for tickets was so high, the team moved to a sold-out, 6,000-cap Spark Arena. “We wanted to make New Zealand feel good about the world’s first arena show post lockdown, blow the budget and make a statement,” declared Loop’s Michael ‘Mikee’ Tucker.

Oceania was enlisted as the lighting supplier. Familiar with Robe, Hoop specified 22 Robe BMFL Spots and eight BMFL Blades. While music was the LD’s primary inspiration for lighting – with the stage bathed in a sea of red, gold and green colour lighting combinations during the reggae numbers, Hoop helped create, in his words, “a night Kiwi’s will always remember”.

The set architecture and stage design comprised three, four-metre-wide by seven-metre-tall columns of 7.8mm LED upstage, with the three main riser fronts also clad in the same product. “This configuration immediately added more depth and definition to the performance space than a standard single slab of LED might have done,” Hoop said.

The LD positioned Robe BMFLs on three overhead trusses – Blades on the front for key lighting – Spots on the back for effects, with another six BMFL Spots on the floor behind the band for “powerful aerials” and “blast-through looks”. He enthused: “The brightness is phenomenal, the gobos are great, and the features are super flexible. I can do so much with these fixtures!”

Four pre-rigged truss towers were lined up along the back on the stage – in between the LED columns – loaded with LED battens and strobes adding another layer of lighting to the picture. The lighting was programmed and operated by Hoop on an MA Lighting grandMA2 full size console.

The LD drew everything in Capture beforehand, working closely with Jean, to create a fluid visual entity. “We were all just absolutely elated to have a live project to work on again!” Hoop declared.

A disguise media server sat at the heart of the system which also allowed everything to be previewed and sequenced in advance in the studio – saving vital time on site, and scheduling enough of this precious commodity to streamline the live Notch FX integration. Additional visual effects elements came from content programmed on a Resolume Arena media server.

VJ, Tim Budgen joined the visual team to play additional media from Resolume while Jean concentrated on running the disguise and Notch elements. Special content for this show was created by Jean, Budgen and Delainy Kennedy.

Notch was used to heavily to stylise the IMAG and live camera mix creating a plethora of cool and unique live video effects and looks for the various different tracks featuring IMAG, an approach that fully integrated iMAG with the overall visual aesthetic.

All seven cameras – three stationed at FOH, two on stage plus two PTZ robocams – were mixed live by Camera Director, Wendy A’Bear, boasting a latitude of live cut PGM outputs or directly process and display multiple cameras simultaneously.

An L-Acoustics sound system was supplied by College Hill Productions, and L.A.B’s audio was engineered by Richie Allen at FOH and Charlie Rodgers in monitor world. Mikee stated: “The feedback was positive and apart from resuscitating the live entertainment industry it was awesome to see 6,000 happy, smiling faces!”


Photos: Mark Russell