The ability of CAST Software’s wysiwyg pre-visualization solution to enable unique creative event ideas – while saving time and money – has been perfectly showcased by The Rhythm Of Life, a majestically colourful multimedia show held in Macao’s ancient city centre.
Commissioned by the Macao Cultural Institute and under the artistic direction of Lebigre & Roger, ‘The Rhythm of Life’ celebrated the Latin heritage of Macao – today a separately administered part of China, but until 1999 a colony of Portugal. Featuring dozens of performers wearing traditional painted faces, the parade was inspired by the great carnival of Viareggio in Tuscany.
“In total this was a three-hour show with around 2,500 cues, all of them controlled by SMPTE, and 1,300 lighting fixtures,” says Alessio de Simone, Lighting and Show Designer at Italy’s Trussdesign.it, which was contracted by Lebigre & Roger to produce the lighting and staging concept for ‘The Rhythm of Life’.
“We used wysiwyg in all phases of the project,” continues de Simone. “We began with the CAD function for our own internal brain-storming, then used the Design function to develop renderings that could be presented to our customers.
“Once the main structure had been approved, we created a Lighting Plot, and finally, once we had received the soundtrack of the show and the choreography, we literally locked ourselves in the blue room in our office where, for about six weeks, we pre-programmed the whole event scene-by-scene.”
De Simone says that wysiwyg’s ability to create moving ‘points of view’ from virtual cameras was invaluable in assessing the detail of light-fixture positioning and programming, as well as the effectiveness of the design as a whole. The final setup, complete with four spectacular automated ‘marionettes’ dancing and soaring up to 9m into the air, was realised in remarkably short order once the Trussdesign.it team had arrived in Macao.
“We placed all the projectors as called-for in our wysiwyg documentation, turned on all the moving heads – and every scene position was exactly as it had been in our pre-visualization. With small adjustments for pan and tilt, gobos and beams were perfect – just like they had appeared in our designs, 10,000km away.”
‘The Rhythm of Life’ was performed in front of 20,000 people and shown on three different Chinese TV channels, to ecstatic ratings and reviews. Yet without wysiwyg, the show might not have gone ahead at all, as monsoon rain swept through Macao in the days prior to the production, effectively halting all on-site programming.
“The rain stopped the job completely,” recalls de Simone. “As every lighting designer knows, when you have outside fixtures you can’t program during the day – only at night. And the rain just didn’t stop. Fortunately, thanks to our pre-visualization with wysiwyg, we had already fixed everything in our control panel.
“On the night of the performance, the sound manager pressed ‘Play’ on his Mac, we watched the SMPTE on our Hogs, sat back, relaxed…and enjoyed the show!”
Bruce Freeman, Chairman, CAST Group, concludes: “wysiwyg users are independent professionals. Whether you design for live theatre, special events, TV/film or Macao, you compete and you must deliver globally. Previz that does not cheat is vital – you must have confidence. This story is a great example of how pros used wysiwyg and the significance of previz as well as the rich graphics that make renderings really virtually real. Another reason wysiwyg’s previz often plays such a big role in special events is that it is “green” – it can save up to 60% of electricity costs because you don’t need to take over the space and run the lighting for the design phase.”
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