Two years ago, it all started; the concept “Watermusic” was developed by Kevin Finnan from dance and theatre company, Motionhouse. One year ago, lighting designer Phil Supple was brought to the team, and early September it all culminated in a three-night breathtaking show on the industrial harbor of Randers as one of 12 ‘Full Moon’ projects in the official program for the European Capital of Culture - Aarhus 2017.
Watermusic consisted of a stunning choreographed piece involving dancers, musicians, a 300-voice choir, aerialists - even aquatic jetpacks, boats and much more. Sound, AV and lighting were supplied by Nordic Rental; their package included multiple SGM IP65-rated LED luminaires: 120 P-5 wash lights, six P-1 wash lights and 25 G-Spot moving heads.
In association with Randers EgnsTeater, the show had international touch from the dancers from Motionhouse in UK, the visual dream-images created by multimedia artists from Spanish Logela and the music composed by International Danish star ‘Oh Land’ and performed by herself and the choir.
Working across performance and event genres specializing in large scale, site specific and landscape work, Phil Supple was engaged full-time on the project two months prior to premiere:
“The starting point was a 3D Vectorworks model of the harbor buildings. From that, I developed working drawings for the technical team and a lighting layout of the entire site. This made for a very efficient process translating my visual ideas into hard technical info.
The most exciting thing for me about lighting design on this scale is the realization of really big images directly from your imagination - the challenge to use light to paint from your mind - and for that to work you really need the right tools.”
Weatherproof and dust-tight
Phil Supple integrated as part of the whole creative team to deliver a vision for the show that turned 300 meters of industrialized harbor, with granaries and grain port on one side and a power station on the other, into an emotional theatrical spectacle.
The day after the last show and just hours before leaving for a new project, Phil Supple was enjoying the aftermath: “It was amazing; really good audience response and it was visually stunning.”
Despite the grain harvest arriving during the build, a big part of Phil Supple’s lighting design was to illuminate the windows of the amazing granary buildings, using 96 SGM P-5 wash lights installed inside the buildings. “Instead of just having a flat projective surface, the building could be animated and come to life with these amazing P-5s - in a very dusty and difficult environment. The P-5s were perfect really, they are completely waterproof for outdoors but also dust-tight for operation inside the granary buildings. It’s just the perfect instrument. Particularly the color response is unique; there are no other instruments that get the same kind of beautiful theatrical tone in transition and they deliver a fantastic range of colors,” says Phil Supple.
On the top deck of the harbor master’s tugboat, the Queen of the Sea performed by Oh Land stood lit by six small battery-driven SGM P-1 wash lights.
Phil Supple explained: “Just the right size and the perfect instrument being weatherproof. Weather changes are a major concern - even during the build period, because you can lose production time if your equipment isn’t rock solid and the SGM products really helped with that. They are fantastic.”
Furthermore, 25 SGM G-Spot moving heads were deployed along both sides of the harbor lighting the water. “I used reflected light from the water on a lot of occasions instead of lighting the show directly. I was particularly pleased with the angles I could achieve and obviously the control that a moving head gives you over the direction, intensity and color range - and with the G-Spot - the absence of a dome, which is really important to keep the look clean.”
The very skilled lighting programmer Lawrence Stromski utilized a GrandMA2 to control the lights and managed an astounding 330 lighting cues in the 45-minute show.
The scale of the project and size of the site spread on two sides of the water provided infrastructural challenges with fiber link running under the water for AV, audio, and lights. “Lars Jacob Pedersen’s team from Nordic did an amazing job - the process of just installing the rig was very time consuming. One of the technicians monitored how much he was walking in the process of rigging and it came to 18 kilometers a day,” Phil Supple smiles.
Left to right: Phil Supple and Lawrence Stromski on set at Watermusic
Water Music is about the love between sea and land and creating a home. Randers is situated by the fjord and the river Gudenaaen. It is the story about the Queen of the Sea, who meets the barge hauler from land, and they fall in love with each other.
Water Music was attended by 15.000 people over two days, among these Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary.