Lighting the Way Through Hellfest

Hellfest in Clisson, France is one of the biggest metal-rock festivals in Europe. Three days of music, 160 bands on six different stages. The energy is electric, and people wait all year for this festival to arrive. The biggest crowds flock to the main stages for the best performances and spectacles of the entire event.

Much of the success of the festival depends on the productions on the main stages, and their performances being spectacular. We had a chance to hear from Tristan Szylobryt of Light&Day Design, and Julien Ferreiro, wysiwyg expert, about how they pulled together such a massive show, what gear they used, any issues they encountered and their respective solutions.

The two main StageCo stages host performances by famous artists this year such as: Deftones, Bullet for my Valentine, Alice in Chains, Body Count, StoneSour, Steven Wilson, Meshuggah, Europe, Hollywood Vampire, Megadeth, Nightwish; and special headliner performances by Judas Priest, Parkway Drive, Avenged Sevenfold, Marilyn Manson, A Perfect Circle and Iron Maiden.

Just this line-up alone would excite any heavy metal music fan! Imagine how it felt to create the complete visual delivery of it all. Tristan Szylobryt from Light&Day Design was tasked with this.

“The biggest challenge as Light Designer, was to coordinate every lighting plot into a huge, comprehensive design and manage adaptations or replacements for the six headliners, which was not an easy task. Each headliner had a special request, and some designs were only approved the week before opening.” – Tristan Szylobryt, Light&Day Design

For Main Stage 1, the main lighting trusses are moved throughout the night according to the performance scheduled for the next day.

A variety of fixtures were used to give a classic heavy-metal look to the stage:

  • 34 x Mac2000XB wash
  • 34 x BMFL Blade
  • 36 x MegaPointe34 x AtomicLed
  • 62 x Sunstrip

An extra mix of:

  • 20 x Portman
  • 72 x ImpressionX4
  • 20 x Q7 and 8 x blinder

Main Stage 2 had five pods of light onstage and had an “electro-power metal” feeling:

  • 27 x MegaPointe
  • 34 x K20
  • 25 x MagicBlade R
  • 29 x Blade
  • 12 x Stormy
  • 13 x Zenit W600
  • 23 Senzo Deluxe LedBar

In total, more than 500 fixtures were used on the two stages, including audience lighting, with 32 DMX universes, and this was only for the festival itself. Pushing the limit, secondary truss or towers were moved from one stage to another, especially for the French recordings. A space was offered to the Lighting Directors in advance, so the lighting could be pre-programmed.

A powerful 3D visualizer is needed, something well-known to technicians internationally and a talented 3D operator to put things in motion. wysiwyg was put to the rescue, as an unrivalled solution for this situation.

French specialist Julien Ferreiro (AKA Don Pelo) was the perfect choice for the festival’s wysiwyg designer. Experienced beyond the norm, and creatively capable, Julien integrated the two stages, different truss and projector combinations into one easy-to-use wysiwyg file, in no time flat.

Julien took the DWG drawing from StageCo and imported the staging elements into wysiwyg so he could then add in truss and fixtures into his drawing to create the show with the utmost of precision. Oliverdy, a French training center dedicated to advanced lighting, design and video skills, provided the latest and greatest in high-tech computers, a state-of-the-art lighting desk and 3D software. Working with wysiwyg R40, the scene manager feature allowed for plan adaptation even at the very last minute.

The configuration of the show was kept to one file. Fixture replacements, reports, and legends were all kept in their simplest form, but the truss and fixtures had to be managed quite a bit each day. Directions for electricians and the rigging team were all detailed and planned out. A dozen sets of A3 plots were printed daily of the Plan, Front and Side views for the flown and floor truss kits to keep each day of performances running smoothly.

© Don Pelo, Julien Ferreiro

During Hellfest, Julien oversaw three virtual rooms.

Two of the virtual rooms used a wysiwyg R40 station, a 40’’ plasma screen, a 17’’ LCD screen and a network kit. One was located backstage, with a grand Full Size, and the other at the bottom of the FOH, where the Lighting Director would use their own desk. This was an all-in-one mobile solution, to be able to move around inside the FOH.

These rooms were in huge demand. Twenty-one Lighting Directors took their seats at the wysiwyg station, sometimes for up to two or three hours. This gave everyone ample time to test their creations and offered a comfortable spot to program any last-minute changes as needed.

“Throughout the entire creation to delivery, wysiwyg was a reliable, fast, versatile and dependable tool for my designs. It’s a unique way to pre-program accurately and rendering without fear.” – Tristan Szylobryt, Light&Day Design

The most complicated part of setting up a festival of this magnitude is the sheer number of artists that have their own concept for their sets. The lighting setups are always modified, or can be modified on the fly, before having all parties involved be satisfied, from the bands to the entire festival production crew.

“wysiwyg followed all the modifications we had to make very well. This included quick fixture replacement, which allowed us to combine the 5/6 configurations of the two stages into one file. Sometimes I had to make three modifications when one usually is enough, but the program ran like a dream!” – Julien Ferreiro – Don Pelo

If anyone is interested in some of the tech details, here are some specs about the final wysiwyg files:

  • The complete file was 9.30 Mb
  • It contained 3566 objects
  • System Memory used was 804 Mb
  • The Iron Maiden file was 816 kb
  • It had 1317 objects in it alone
  • System Memory used was 354 Mb

I received the first wysiwyg file from Tristan and went to work making all plots, lists, exports to grandMA2, and 3D visualisation files; it took about 150 hours, including time spent on modifications. It is fair to say, this was one of my hardest wysiwyg jobs to date. The payoff was remarkable and beyond all expectations! – Julien Ferreiro – Don Pelo



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