Stripping back the Layers for Perpetuum Jazzile

© Sasa Huzjak

Slovenian lighting designer Gregor “Grga” Smrdelj unleashed his talents for a large high-profile show by Slovenian vocal group Perpetuum Jazzile at the Arena Stolzice in Ljubljana.

With a brief to create something fresh and different, his first choice of moving lights was Robe, and with nearly 150 on the plot he produced a unique and different look for the sold-out performance based on a three-tiered set design.

Smrdelj works full time with Event Lighting, one of Slovenia’s leading rental specialists and the show’s lighting equipment provider. It was his first gig with the group, so the pressure was on to produce something amazing and memorable.

Smrdelj integrated LED and video into his proposal for the stage and production design. It was at the first production meeting that he suggested having the singers on the three different levels, which everyone liked, so they went with it. “I wanted to make a statement, and the idea was that the full profile of all 44 singers could be seen rather than just the front row and everyone else squeezed in behind with only their heads showing!”

Smrdelj and video designer and content producer Den Baruca worked closely to choose the right style and pitch of screen, which resulted in a 20-metre-wide by 4 metre strip of 5.9 mm surface above the top of the set.

Behind each of the three stepped tiers was a 2 x 2 metre semi-transparent LED net product which allowed Smrdelj to light through from behind.

Up in the roof of the Arena Stolzice, the Event Lighting crew installed seven straight trusses for lighting positions … two for front lighting, two for back lighting and two for the sides. Ladders were used from the side trusses to get lights into exactly the right low positions for beaming across the stage.

The Robe count comprised 28 Spiiders, 16 MegaPointes, 16 Pointes 12 BMFL Blades, 48 LEDBeam 100s and 24 LEDBeam 150s distributed all over the trusses.

The Spiiders were used as ‘all-rounders’  for top, back and front light.

The BMFL Blades were on one of the front trusses for key lighting. The shutters enabled them to pick out singers for solos and he programmed some highly effective blade chase that looked uber-cool resembling a barcode scanning effect for a couple of the numbers.

Eight MegaPointes were on the floor with the other eight on the deck of the top (third) layer of set. They were used for precision looks, some of which were time coded (to the click) to be in perfect unison with clapping and other sonic moments in the singing.

“The aerial looks from the MegaPointes were just what I needed for dramatic punctuations” commented Smrdelj. “I needed a profile fixture that could complete with the LED screen and hold its own, and MegaPointe hit the spot”.

He observed that MegaPointes also combine well with Spiiders, and using these together is a “great asset” to any designer, easily blending and contrasting beams and washes for so many different scenarios.

The little LEDBeam 100s – used with 10-degree lenses – made good, solid side lighting and for ancillary aerial effects. Smrdelj wanted a strong element of side lighting to the overall picture and using lots of small piercing beams enabled him to create some classy and fluid movement effects.

The LEDBeam 150s – a recent best seller for Robe – were all along the floor decks behind the singers. In addition to the obvious narrow beam effects, they were also used as wash luminaries illustrating the scope and usefulness of the zoom.

Other lights on the rig included 12 x LED strobes, 40 x Sunstrips and eight 4-lite blinders.

He programmed and ran the show on a Hog 4 console, provided, together with all the lighting kit, by Event Lighting.

 The main challenge Smrdelj faced was designing an arena light show that was not rock ‘n’ roll but was every bit as diverse and compelling, and to achieve this he mixed that with the more refined disciplines of theatrical lighting.