Queens of the catwalk

Miss Gibraltar scooped the coveted title of Miss World 2009, as another decade drew to a close. But who was crowned winner in terms of Miss Lighting and Miss Set Design?

2010 is set to be a big year for South Africa. As the world prepares for the FIFA World Cup, the nation took advantage of some pre-event training, playing host to yet another high profile occasion with a global audience.

Johannesburg again witnessed a squad of beauties when the world’s most renowned beauty pageant returned to it shores at the end of 2009. Following a highly successful outing in 2008, the show’s organisers felt confident to hand full technical production – lighting, sound, AV, LED screens, media, staging, set and power – back to Gearhouse South Africa, which promptly placed the event in the hands of project manager Eyal Yehezkely.

Miss World 2009, staged at the Gallagher Convention Centre, Johannesburg, has been hailed as one of the most visually spectacular to date, surpassing even the 2008 event which was also staged in Johannesburg at the Sandton Convention Centre.

The 59th Miss World Final united the vision and imagination of lighting designer Tim Dunn and set designer Dewet Meyer, with the pressure on them to create an even more spectacular magical and memorable visual experience for the jewel in the crown of beauty events.

With the intervening 12 months passing in a flash, their task was to make the televised final look distinctly different from the 2008 event. The two have worked together on several previous projects and have a great synergy. As the design evolved, this included numerous discussions about how the set finishes could be optimised for lighting effects.

Dunn and Meyer picked up the challenge, fusing contemporary elements with some that were distinctly African. An elegant 45-metre spherical shaped set architecture was based on the shape and form of traditional African jewellery and comprised a series of integrated, multi-layered geodesic curves. It was framed by two rings, each appearing to float in space.

An eye for talent

In 2008, Dunn specified the latest digital lighting technology from Robe lighting – the first time anywhere in the world that such a vast number of new fixtures had been used on a single event. This gave him the scope to produce intricate effects and projections onto the set with specially created video content.

In 2009, he again broke new technical ground, and enjoyed the opportunity to integrate the very latest moving lights available from Robe into his design. Dunn commented that it was “very exciting” that Robe was prepared to supply its latest technology and “fully support” what he and his team were doing in South Africa for the second year running.

In a rig of nearly 300 intelligent lights – all Robe – Dunn had no problem producing a plethora of colourful looks and scenes, ranging from the very complex to the simplistic. He needed to be able to light a wide range of theatrical scenarios – from the entire stage with all 112 contestants, down to just one person onstage for a solo performance. This year the event showcased the musical and dance talents of several contestants, proving they were more than just pretty faces!

Simply stunning

The rig included 72 of Robe’s new ROBIN 300 Series of lights – a bright, compact, and energy efficient light source available in wash, spot and beam versions – and the most to be used anywhere on a show to date. He also used 12 of Robe’s DigitalSpot 7000DT moving projector fixtures, collaborating closely with the Gearhouse Media team to produce and upload new media to produce stunning effects.

Robe’s new ColorBeam 700E ATs were used for tight beamwork and chases, their brightness cutting through even when in saturated colours. To get solid and good light levels for the TV cameras, he utilised 72 of Robe’s brightest moving lights – both the ColorSpot and ColorWash 2500E ATs – for set and stage washes, plus gobo and beam effects.

The Gallagher Centre’s ceiling height is two-metres lower compared to that of the Sandton Convention Centre: This played a part in the selection of equipment needed to light the show. But there were also advantages; greater weight bearing on the roof beams made it easier to fly lighting and other technical elements.

The event’s set was built by Sets, Drapes and Screens (SDS). Large sections of it were white and pale grey, and above the key lighting, the steps were clad in printed PVC to provide a striking contrast to the contestants’ on cameras. The perimeter of the “floating” rings were outlined by 50 small globes, internally lit with colour changing Anolis LEDs that produced a soft delineation to the outer limits of the space. It was also similar in layout to last year, retaining the elements that worked best for the choreography and flow of the show.

Key lighting came from 29 x 5K Fresnel Tungsten sources, which Dunn prefers for their “softness” and for producing good flesh tones on camera. These were meticulously focussed and colour balanced.