Wermland Opera grand facade show enlighten Karlstad’s city center the Christmas of 2017 once again after last year’s successful premiere. The city park lights up in atmospherically & warm ambience colors at dusk. Simultaneously the Opera is covered by artwork visualized through video mapping. At 6 PM the actual show starts; the ambience lights are dimmed yet follows the lighting from the show and the artworks are replaced by theatrical acts and Christmas themed showpieces. It is all rounded up with interactive smartphone games that all visitors can participate in and watch unfold on the facade.
Lightning designer Jakob Larsson was responsible for lighting and effects during the greenscreen recordings for the video mapping. Where it is of great importance that the lights are smooth with consistent beams and color shades as well as temperatures. For the more theatrical scenes, enhancing the effects as much as possible was the main goal making them very vivid for the audiences experiencing them outdoors mapped on the Opera’s facade. The only challenge for Jakob was the limited opportunity to test the lights before the premiere because of how public the area is and the team does not want to reveal too much in advance to curious pedestrians. The show itself as well as the ever-changing ambience lights were timecoded and proved to have turned out just as envisioned in wsiwyg allowing Jakob to quickly continue working with his tours again.
Jakob’s first experience with stage lighting was operating follow-spots at the local theater during a summer in his youth. He explains that in many amateur theater clubs you have every chance to grow if you want to. It turned out that I enjoyed the theatre ambience and I progressively got to take on new challenges and eventually learned to operate lighting tables and program lighting. I continued gathering experience and began helping with scenic, lighting and production planning. Wermland Theater has over the years had many famous actors in the roles of their productions, and continuously focuses on high quality shows, simply being in this environment was a good opportunity to learn how to work with large productions. A theatre play requires great consistency, the effects have to look perfect week after week. Which is a great starting point when learning the importance of quality even for outdoor gigs, where conditions are more difficult to adapt to. Natural light and wind are unpredictable factors that will masquerade and thus allow you to make more mistakes which is completely natural.
Jakob is currently tour leader for Rebecca & Fiona with whom he most recently went to Mexico and USA for Daydream festival.
Traveling across the globe for festivals requires you to have a very flexible show file for your artists since not only will the equipment available be different but festival and concert culture is different. The content has to be suitable for conditions ranging from day time festivals with direct sunlight to the midnight headline performance or from a small nightclub stage to a decorative and scenic festival landscape. The time a LD has to focus lights and prepare before a festival varies a lot, but a wysisyg design, show file or list of equipment is pretty common today and helps a lot, says Jakob. Everything has to be ready for the show since artists and DJs more frequently simply mix into each other’s performances. Today’s festivals can last not only one but two weeks, which commonly leave you with more scheduled time for preparations.
Jakob, who began his career as a lighting designer in theatres, is happy to see the rising popularity of a theatre’s scenic environment on EDM stages, where fairy-worlds are genially designed. A lot of these festivals were born in Belgium, the Netherlands or Czech Republic but nowadays tours the world. What is so great about these stages is that any artist can perform on them without personalized décor and feel at home, lighting and LED screens is well enough for the audiences to directly experience the artists individual style.
A musician’s style is rather important to me actually, I tend to only work with artists that I personally think are good, allowing me to truly make the lighting support the expression of the artist. The first step of pre-production consists mainly of planning the tour around album releases, relevant festivals, available radio time and similarities. Together with an artistical group we then collaborate closely to create a uniform show in regards of clothing, décor, scenography and lighting. When a concept has been created I usually quickly make sure to have necessary lighting equipment booked. Having decided the equipment for the show makes it easy to start designing and programming it. New effects and equipment can then continuously be added if I feel that it will complete and add something unique to the show. This type of flexibility is possible because I mostly rent all equipment from large rental houses, carrying large stock of a variety of fixtures, such as Woodlite.
I tend to always listen to an artist’s songs on repeat, learning all the cues, tones, rhythm and understanding the feeling of the songs. This helps me with timing. As a lighting designer you may quickly need to sidestep the pre-programmed cues to manually punt and launch new ones on the fly. Artists and bands are often influenced by the audience, the stage or a festival’s overall atmosphere and hence decides to change, repeat or extend parts of their songs live. This is partly what makes live shows so enjoyable, unique and interesting.