Stuart Pring turns to Martin for Robbie Williams and BRITS Critics Choice
Mission specific discharge and LED moving lights from Martin, a HARMAN Professional brand, featured widely on a number of television shows in the lead-up to the Christmas season. Many of these have been sourced from Nick Edwards’ new TV lighting rental company, Version 2. One of the most experienced adopters has been Stuart Pring, who recently lit Robbie Williams Radio 2 in Concert show and The Brits Critics Choice Awards, for Brit TV.
A veteran of Martin lighting solutions over the past 15 years, in recent times he has favoured the MAC Aura range, RUSH Par and MAC Viper, sourcing inventory from Edwards’ various companies along the way “Nick’s support is second to none,” he says. “He understands the budgetary constraints we work to and is always helpful in offering rigging suggestions, plus his equipment is always immaculately prepped.” Pring’s first port of call is generally the MAC Aura. “It is the best colour wash available — it has great colour mixing and a fantastic zoom facility, which can help to instantly change a look of a stage.” He used another Martin ‘all-in-one’ fixture, the Axiom Hybrid, for the Robbie Williams Radio 2 in Concert at Maida Vale’s MV3 studio.
“The small size of the studio was exacerbated by the large number of musicians,” he said. “Therefore, I needed compact fixtures that could create beams to fill the small stage from a short throw. Since the truss was only 4 metres high, the fact that these lights were small also meant they were easier to place among the many band members as floor lights.” To achieve his desired effect he requisitioned five Martin Axioms to be flown in the rig, five Martin MH3 Beams on the floor with an Aura XB as backlight. He was particularly impressed with the diversity of the light. “It worked well as a Beam and a Spot light as well as a great Wash light when zoomed out and defocused. It was perfect for such a small stage show — and to have full colour mixing in such a compact fixture is also a great bonus.”
For the Brits Critics Choice Awards, Pring benefitted from having prior experience of working at Abbey Road Studios. “You have to respect the fact that this is a sound recording environment,” he notes. “In Studio 1 where we filmed Brits Critics Choice everything has to be rigged from the floor, which I tried to do with as few stands in shot as possible, while showing off the Abbey Road location.” His goal within the large space was to produce a design that would work for three bands each playing two numbers, with diversity in the lighting for each band.
“The Martin fixtures helped me achieve this through the simple ability to change colour and gobos,” he said. Using lighting largely for projection he deployed Martin RUSH Par and MAC Viper on the floor around the band, to project colour and animation gobos onto five Dedolight PanAura octagonal soft lights.
“The Martin RUSH Pars were fully zoomed out and focused — one onto each PanAura — to create a colour background. This produced a very even light with no hotspot at such a short throw. With such a great zoom they only had to be placed a metre or so away from the PanAuras to get an even colour wash.”
On each PanAura from the same distance he placed a MAC Viper. “By using a combination of rotating gobos, prism and full zoom I managed to fill the silks of the PanAura with gobo textures, and by playing with the focus I could really create some great abstract effects,” he said.
Meanwhile, the MAC Aura XB’s were rigged on double wind-up stands as backlights for each of the band members. “These work great as backlights when they are zoomed right in, and I have used them for this purpose on many occasions.”
Summing up his product selection Stuart said the Axioms had enabled him to offer beam lights as well as spots and add character to the show. “I wanted something that could be used as backlighting for the many band members as well as to create big beam looks to enhance the overall show design."
“The Axioms gave me the ability to create strong gobo looks and by using the prism we could get very wide beams. Also by taking out the gobos we could use these lights as wash lights.”
The MAC Aura XB backlight was selected because the lighting director knew from experience Robbie Williams’ mobility around the stage. “With the wide zoom abilities of the MAC Aura XB I knew we would keep him covered in backlight.”
All the Martin products had exceeded expectation. “They offer great colour saturation and temperature even at lower dimmer values. Many of my shoots the fixture don’t run at 100% so it is very important that the lights still produce the same colours at lower intensities.” Furthermore, they are reliable and their profiles are easy to use, he says. “One thing that really stands out is that the LED’s don’t strobe. When using non-broadcast cameras, with some products there are huge strobing problems on camera. However, with Martin Products there is none of this.”
In setting up Version 2, Nick Edwards knew instinctively that Martin products would offer both high utilisation and return on investment. In addition to investing in the RUSH MH7, he has also been trialling the Axiom Hybrid with a view to purchasing in 2017. “The unit boasts an impressive output and would come into its own on some of our larger studio productions.” Another favourite has been the Aura range. “This has long established itself as the wash light of choice for TV lighting directors and the Aura XB, with its even brighter output, makes the HMI wash lights surplus to requirements for most applications. And with no lamps to change Aura XB expedites our return on investment.” This, he hopes, will emulate what he describes as “the standout fixture of recent years” in the Martin Viper Performance. “This versatile discharge moving light appears on nearly every lighting plot we see. The unit’s superior optics and colour temperature means it reads well to camera.”