wysiwyg helps create the UK’s most popular classical music show

“Genius” is one of those words that have become devalued through overuse. However, when your work has included lighting design for some of the world’s highest profile events, and has received rave reviews, it’s almost certainly a deserved accolade. The events in question include such spectacles as the opening ceremony for the Rio Olympics; the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in the UK; and London’s New Year’s Eve celebrations, which are broadcast worldwide. The Lighting Designer in question is none other than Durham Marenghi.

For the larger part of the past three decades, Durham has also been responsible for the lighting design at what has been widely described as “the most popular classical music show in the UK.” Taking place twice every year at London’s iconic Royal Albert Hall, the Classical Spectacular son-et-lumière blends the best-loved classical music with state-of-the-art technology to create an unparalleled occasion that includes extravagant lighting, laser displays and fireworks. According to producer Raymond Gubbay, it changes the way you experience classical music forever.

Durham’s extensive experience with the show (he has designed a new truss architecture each season) gives him a unique perspective on the value of CAST Software’s wysiwyg, a comprehensive software design suite that incorporates virtual real-time pre-visualisation of lighting, motion, and media content.

Particular challenge solved

He highlights a particular challenge that afflicts many lighting designers when it comes to the preparation of a show: The actual venue cannot be used.

“When we first started out with Classical Spectacular,” he says, “we used to need the client to rent a space in London just to pre-programme the show. Back then, that involved around 200 par cans. The show is cue-intensive – 500 lighting cues are presented during each show, which now uses over 100 intelligent moving lights – and took two weeks to create the repertoire for each new rig design.”

“I used the first Vari-Lites – VL1s – outside of rock’n’roll on Classical Spectacular and that’s a direction we’ve been taking now for a number of years until we now have a mainly Clay Paky system of around 120 fixtures,” Durham continues.

“Oh, and – two standby par cans on the conductor just in case of the unthinkable happening,” he laughs.

At that time, Durham continues, the only other solution was to use Patrick Woodroffe’s Four to One Studio (a pre-production rehearsal facility that used scaled-down lights, truss and staging together with figures and so on to allow designers to rehearse and programme tours before the first date) which had an array of Birdies – quarter scale models of the ubiquitous par can.

“The name was coined by Andy Bridge because a birdie is one under par,” he smiles. “Then, along came moving lights – and quarter scale modelling of these fixtures wasn’t possible.”

Virtually real simulation

What Durham needed, of course, was the ability to create a simulation of the lighting design without having to physically model it – and he turned to wysiwyg.

“We still have no programming time in the venues – but with wysiwyg, that really doesn’t matter anymore,” Durham says. “I’ve been using wysiwyg since Release 1.0 and lighting the event in the virtual world. We can do this in the comfort of a studio, and our client is saved the expense of hiring an arena and the full lighting rig for a fortnight each time we update our truss architecture.”

“Thank you, CAST Software!”

wysiwyg is an all-in-one lighting design software suite with fully integrated CAD, plots, data, visualization and virtual show control for stage, lighting and video design. It features an extensive CAD library with thousands of 3D objects lighting designers can choose from to design their entire show, as well as fully integrated paperwork database and pre-visualization tools.



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Contact: Katinka Allender