Like many iconic events, the BBC Proms, which turned 125 years old in 2020, has had to undergo a significant re-conception in format due to COVID-19. Once again returning to its home at the Royal Albert Hall, the extraordinary season this year combined live performances with archive footage of past festivals. However, for the first time, no guests were in physical attendance for the live shows and instead the audience tuned in via TV or radio from their homes. Technical solutions specialist White Light (WL), with strategic partners ELP and SFL, supplied the lighting and video elements for the Proms 2020 Live run.
While planning commenced prior to the pandemic, the creative and technical teams, led by Production Manager – Steve Nolan, began collaborating virtually during lockdown to find a solution. A range of options were explored, enabling the festival to go ahead in accordance with guidelines, resulting in a reduced two-week live performance season and archive content completing the programme.
Darren Fletcher, Sales Director at ELP said: “Without a live audience in the Royal Albert Hall, we had to think more creatively about the aesthetics that could be achieved through lighting to enhance the camera shots. We worked closely with Lighting Director – David Bishop and Gaffer – Mark Gardiner, who suggested using LED Pars to light from the audience side, which worked well and highlighted the venue’s stunning architecture. Over the last few years of this event, we have increasingly been specifying LED units over tungsten, and this year the addition of the Martin Encore Performance CLD was highly effective.”
SFL supplied over 150 panels of Desay M6 LED screen for the stage backdrop for the season and the large screens for Last Night of The Proms All processing was carried out using a Barco E2, while Green Hippo Hippotizer v4 media servers fed the content onto the backdrop LED screen.
Craig Lawrence, Video & Projects Director at SFL added: “It’s always a pleasure working with the BBC Proms team, this year we had to create an environment for a broadcast audience rather than a live audience in the hall. As AV Partner at the Royal Albert Hall we were especially pleased this year to have the opportunity to work with our new strategic partners at WL to deliver such a high-profile solution.”
Ollie Jeffery, Head of Production and Technical at the Royal Albert Hall commented: “This historic BBC Proms was our largest event since the front doors closed at the start of lockdown in March. The amazing team of suppliers, including WL, ELP and SFL, all worked so hard to keep everyone safe and ensure the building was COVID secure. With our livelihood currently at risk, it was a joy to feel the buzz around the building and see such determination to show the world that music is still alive.”