Robe dazzles at 2023 Eurovision Song Contest

Mia Nicolai & Dion Cooper performed Burning Daylight for Netherlands at the First Semi-Final at Liverpool ArenaMimicat performed Ai Coração for Portugal at the Grand Final at Liverpool Arena

Award-winning lighting designer Tim Routledge and a talented team of creatives and technical specialists helped deliver a dazzling, slick, streamlined and emotional 2023 Eurovision Song contest event at Liverpool Arena in the UK on 13 May.

All the glamour, craziness, and sheer ebullience of the 67th Eurovision Song Contest was embodied in the event that was shifted to the UK after 2022 winner Ukraine had security concerns related to the ongoing war with Russia. As the 2022 runner up, the UK stepped in to ensure that millions of Eurovision fans could enjoy Ukraine’s party on UK soil.

Tim utilised over 600 Robe moving lights for his design which comprised approximately 2,500 luminaires plus 2km of LED tape, clocking up 17,500 individual light sources when counting the individual pixel cells of the various fixtures.

For Tim, it was his first ESC. He collaborated closely with set designer Julio Himede, acclaimed for his work on major music broadcast shows like MTV’s VMAs and EMAs amongst others, also working on his first ESC.

Tim and his team created 37 unique immersive lighting environments to showcase each delegation’s songs, keeping each of these micro-shows animated, fluid and energised, curating lighting and video interactively and simultaneously.

This enabled the end-goal of offering the clean, precise shots from multiple angles which translated brilliantly on the broadcast.

The set surrounded the performance space with video, so lighting placement was challenging and had to be facilitated where there was no encroachment, whilst maintaining the architecture of the space and creating all the right moods.

The results were a feat of synergy as much as technical excellence, in an infrastructure where lighting, video and scenic presentation worked seamlessly as one visual entity.

The lighting rig included a 15-way Robe RoboSpot remote follow system running with 15 out of the 66 Robe FORTES in the building, which were positioned all around the arena, offering the flexibility of picking up artists from any angle, eliminating shadows and ensuring faces looked perfect.

The FORTE parameters could all be controlled via the FOH grandMA3 consoles, leaving the operators free to concentrate on following the artists.

Other Robe elements included 152 LEDBeam 150s, 84 PAINTES, 123 Spiiders, 190 TetraXs, 12 Robe BMFL Blades and 12 Robe PATT2013s, a fixture that Tim invented, and that he used on this occasion to light Latvia’s performance.

A back wall of TetraXs worked brilliantly as stun-and-amaze effects for several artists. They were on the reverse side of seven LED columns making up the back wall of screen which rotated 360 degrees revealing the TetraXs, and made their presence felt during the performances of Israel, France, Finland and others.

An upstage wall of PAINTES was revealed when the screens were rotated at 90 degrees.

Tim’s FOH team included Ukrainian LD and programmer Zhengyi Kostyra, who worked as the overnight associate LD when on site, with James Scott as the overall lighting design associate.

Lead programmer was Tom Young and the other two main programmers were Marc Nicholson and Alex Mildenhall.

Follow spots were called by Louisa Smurthwaite, and Morgan Evans worked with Tim and Tom during the pre-viz period which included four weeks at Neg Earth’s studio ahead of the get-in in Liverpool, when the process continued onsite as each delegation’s lighting looks evolved and were finessed.

Seven students on stage and lighting design and technical courses at two locally based academies had the opportunity of working on Tim’s crew for the duration the event was on-site at the Arena. Five were RoboSpot operators and the other two were lighting technicians, all recruited via Robe UK’s NRG programme.

Additionally, Tim’s team co-ordinated with four vision engineers in the truck, and at the centre of ensuring all things lighting ran as smoothly as the surface of the best polished Eurovision glitterball, was gaffer Keith Duncan.

Tim elucidates that around 79,000 lighting cues were programmed into the consoles over the course of the three live broadcast shows, which included two televised semi-finals from which the last songs from the 37 participating countries were chosen and went forward to the final.

With 50-second set changeovers, all delegations with their own creative directors and demands and the sheer intensity of creating that many individual performances, several very complex, in a short space of time, challenges abounded, and everyone delivered a superlative show.

Tim says, “It is the most joyous show I have worked on, with a team who just wanted to be there and give it their all, and of which Ukraine could be very proud!”

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