Skynight, a major service provider in French-speaking Switzerland, is in the process of transitioning its lighting to LEDs. “There is a real desire to become more and more green,” explains Yoann Pelletier, the new manager of the lighting department.
Many investments are foreseen therefore Yoann wants to make the best choice by studying the performance but also the popularity of the different fixtures.
The lighting of the Sion Sous Les Etoiles Festival supplied by Skynight has the particularity of very quick set changes: “20 minutes during which the public waits for the next concert when at other festivals, several stages take turns. This is also why it was necessary to provide an easy-to-switch over configurations (rigs) because there is no switch to a blackout of the stage”.
A quick switch over managed thanks to mastered network knowledge. We feel that the team had a lot of fun and they share with us their recipe for a smooth festival welcome.
The logic of the “Sion Sous Les Etoiles” festival
“Sion Sous Les Etoiles” with a movie set located in the heart of the countryside with the Château de Tourbillon overlooking is one of the major events of mid-July. For the 2022 edition, nearly 55,000 festival-goers flocked to the event’s unique stage. Unique because of the audience size and its configuration.
SLU : What was your thought process in creating the rig for the festival?
Yoann Pelletier : “We can’t really call it a lighting design, I think it’s more just sticking to the logical use of a kit, adaptable and efficient”.
SLU : Your aim is versatility?
Yoann Pelletier : “Having done more than 10 years of touring with many festival shows, the places where we perform our best shows with the artist are those where the lighting plot is very versatile or even “universal”. It is better to aim for simplicity because on tour you have little time behind the lighting desk. Only the headlining entertainers can benefit from several hours of programming before show time”.
SLU : Do you send out the file of the setup beforehand?
Yoann Pelletier : “Skynight is an official CAST Software dealer, Cast is the creator of Wysiwyg software, among others. This allows me to send out the technical file in pdf format but we also provide the Wysiwyg file on request.
In addition, we also have a Wysiwyg studio on site to allow the desk operators to work in a dark room in the FOH tower. They have the possibility of using this space to program during the day they are scheduled.
“Get In” for the visiting crews starts at 7:30-8:00 a.m. and is spread out over the day for each band. The headliners have the most time devoted to them, and it shortens depending on the notoriety of the band. Our in-house crew alternates between the Wysiwyg studio and the real kit”.
Yoann Pelletier is in essence a lighting designer
After having worked for Dimitri Vassiliu (lighting designer for stars or star lighting designerin France, editor’s note) on Obispo or Superbus among others, he took his independence and embarked on the tours of De Palmas and Christophe Willem.
Coincidentally, just before the Covid crisis, he approached Skynight to join the equipment provider’s team as head of the lighting branch. “It’s a decision that has been in the works for a few years and which was taken just before the Covid,” he explains.
This new function integrates into his primary occupation of lighting design for entertainers, production, and event companies with the management of Skynight’s lighting department crews and the choice of investments.
In addition, he can work more freely with desk operators with whom he has full confidence. “To do an entire tour is not easy because we are not very available outside the dates of the artists’ tour. “Juggling” is no longer an option, he too has started thinking about supplying production companies a console operator in the case of a problem; it’s an additional security that the productions accept very well, he confides.
Moreover, with the Covid crisis, the shortage of skills is felt and there is a strong need to reorganize things so that the designer does not go on the road. This is appreciated by Yoann: “It allows me to vary because I also like to do events or DOP designs. I also did a lot during the Covid times.”
The design and the technical rider
How to put together a user-friendly rig for his crew, here is his recipe.
SLU : What was your kit made up with?
Yoann Pelletier : Here is our kit on our rider, there is the Martin Atomic 3000 strobe. It is timeless, even though with the evolution of Led fixtures, it is starting to be difficult to source the Xenon lamps.
We will surely have to make decisions on this subject, even if for me it is one of the only strobes which still works well and which is difficult to replace with LEDs.
We then have 27 BMFL Blade for backlighting in the upstage part of the rig and on floor mounts. It is a classic and works wonders. Skynight hasn’t yet gone to Leds for replacing these powerful sources, however, the switch will have to be done soon.
SLU : How did you go about choosing the fixtures?
Yoann Pelletier : “There are a few brands that I particularly like, but in this case, it’s more the product than the brand that will make the difference in the sense that I now have a way of thinking that is different from the one I had when I was exclusively a lighting designer. As the lighting manager, you have to buy what is in demand. My choices will be oriented towards well-known products, without denying quality”.
SLU : You have also chosen the Briteq BT Blinder 2 IP…
Yoann Pelletier : “Skynight has already switched to LEDs for these 4-lamp or 2-lamp blinders. Here it is the two-lamp blinder equivalent that I chose to put in the festival rig for the first time”.
SLU : I can see you have also chosen 42 x Cameo Zenit W600, what do you think of these fixtures?
Yoann Pelletier : We are on an excellent quality/price ratio and we always need to buy more, we seem to run out of them every month at Skynight (laughter). What is interesting is the flexibility provided by the magnetic filters which make it possible to quickly change the degrees of the beam output of the projector and therefore we use them in many different situations.
It is a product that I place in quantity like here where the 42 devices are all downstage as well as on the front truss for a real visual impact.
They replaced the four-lamp Molefay halogen sources that I used for street lighting. In addition, we have gained in color thanks to RGBW LEDs.
Yoann Pelletier : Then there are Claypaky B-Eye K25 impressive by their power. This is the first year that we can use blue or Congo blue beams, during the first part of the evening, despite a setting sun in the background. I would say that everyone is super happy with it, especially the lighting designers who are performing around 6-7 p.m. (laughter).
Normally at this time, we raise the tilt of the machines, we open the zoom to wide and we rather play with the color and the intensities to obtain what is called a “dot effect”.
But thanks to the tight beams of the K25 we can use them like real lights. Here, they provided backlighting with the BMFLs.
Yoann Pelletier : Two Robert Juliat Lancelot followspots were required. Considering the distance, it was the ideal choice because it is a classic that works very well and since it is an international product, everyone knows them”.
14 x Martin MAC Quantum Washes are used for front lighting. Here once again, we are on a very well-known product, which works well, even if it offers fewer effects than other Washes.
But this point is precisely becoming a strength for front lighting because they are more suitable. They have been associated with Martin MAC Viper performance spots, which are also a safe bet.
And finally, there are Robe MegaPointes. For me, these are very efficient and versatile machines. On this festival, we are working with three upstage trusses and I am still trying to increase the number of lines of fixtures.
There are therefore 4 x MegaPointe offset at the front of each truss, and 4 x MegaPointe offset at the rear of each truss and finally that gives us three heights of lighting for a front visual which allows us to have light everywhere.
This type of trick allows you to set up the design so that the lighting designers quickly get a grip on it. On our side, we took care to hang the fixtures straight down with the base unit level, to comply with the Wysiwyg. In addition, the lighting designers can adjust the height of the trusses to their liking. This allows a lot of configurations without the addition of screens or their fixtures on the ground. For example, vertical trusses with their fixtures for the Julien Doré show”.
SLU : Which lighting desks were used?
Yoann Pelletier : There were two grandMA 3 Lights running in mode 2. We haven’t switched to the MA3 software yet, but we know that large-scale productions are already using it. We would like to switch to it next year because it is likely to become a reference.
There was also a Command Wing MA3 in soft 3 because the MA3 OnPC does not work in mode 2, which allowed us to have priority control over the lighting of the audience and the tarpaulins with the festival visual on each side of the stage. We also change the configuration of the LumiNode to define from which console the DMX is being emitted.
A grandMA2 NPU was used to increase the number of parameters of our MA3 light. In addition, a second NPU and a DP8000 (hog4) allowed us to accommodate lighting designers with their own consoles. They would not necessarily have any idea of the number of fixtures provided. 214 represents a significant amount of parameters and all this work of anticipating their requests is part of our philosophy.
Overall the shows, whether in lighting or scenography, were of a very high technical and artistic level, and the touring crews were very professional.
How to switch between sets without unplugging/replugging the console and without IP address conflicts. A challenge met with flexibility and intelligence thanks to the knowledge of Yoann and Hugo Brassy, network operators at the festival. Proof, if it were still needed, that this has become an essential position among the crew.
Yoann Pelletier : There are a lot of groups and the complexity lay in the changes between sets which had to be done very quickly (between 20 and 30 minutes editor’s note) and for relatively large productions. This pushed us to be very knowledgeable about the network so that we could quickly regain control of the festival kit to easily give it to the next lighting designer.
The objective is that during this interval he can devote himself to finalizing his positions and re-configuring his floor lighting kit. Each time, it was like being in the kitchen of a restaurant at lunchtime” (laughs).
SLU : What was your approach to networking to deal with this rush?
Yoann Pelletier : The network is via Luminex with GigaCore switches for the distribution of the different Vlans and, LumiNodes for the conversion of the Artnet signal into DMX. In addition, this year we have integrated the two LumiCores into the configuration.
The idea was to have the ability, through a fader on an external console, to toggle the LumiNode configuration to tell it “which lighting desk to ‘listen’ to”. This is what allows us to avoid disconnecting/reconnecting or having IP address conflicts. The LumiCore is used as our gateway into our system.
The LumiCore is a network processing unit. It allows us to “route” up to 4 input sources to 64 universes. And above all, there is a real separation of IP addresses, so the person received can have any configuration needed for their addresses.
As long as it does not have the same address as our LumiCore, it works and we only end up with a single device that could be in conflict with the operators we welcome.
SLU : It avoids having to reconfigure on the “fly”?
Yoann Pelletier : Some of the people we welcome know their network, and/or do it themselves. For another part, the configuration was done before the start of the tour. In both cases, they are not very comfortable, nor very reassured, to have to change everything. When you are touring through festivals, from experience, you prefer to keep your configuration that works well and not hear every day that you have to change all your devices because there are conflicts.
A well-managed network that could quickly have looked like a battlefield but, Yoann and Hugo knew how to look after this giant puzzle in a very professional way!
Skynight has recruited Yoann who is, from today, required to make the best choices to assist the company in its transition from lamps to LEDs.
SLU : Skynight is switching to all-LED, what are the investment choices based on?
Yoann Pelletier : We are going with brands known worldwide. Another important point is to be able to easily find functional fixture libraries. Today we must be aware of electrical consumption and therefore we have a real interest in the Lumen/Watt ratio of LEDs.
SLU : What types of events does Skynight supply?
Yoann Pelletier : The company specializes in providing audiovisual solutions in Sound, Light, Video, and Rigging. With 37 years of experience, we also work on corporate events, conferences, hosting tours, pure equipment rental, and, of course, festivals in Switzerland.
SLU : What are your other summer projects?
Yoann Pelletier : There is the Montreux Jazz Festival, which needs no introduction because of its popularity, and the Paléo Festival where we provide all the lighting for the site, the sound kit for the Club Tent, and the lighting kit for the Dome.
We have just started collaborating with the Festineuch Festival in Neuchâtel. It is a little smaller festival but it has its importance with its multiple stages including one under a circus tent. We also work on the Rock Oz’Arènes festival located in Avenches and on several other smaller festivals.
SLU : And what about touring?
Yoann Pelletier : Before arriving at their company, I had worked with them on my tours because we knew each other and there was geographical proximity which facilitated the whole process because it allows me to do more things than with a hire company located in Paris. for example.
Today I have a foot in the company so I can anticipate but overall, the tours represent certain constraints with limited budgets. Another approach is needed to reach a point of profitability.
On the other hand, a cutting-edge video tour sector has been developed within our Lyon agency. We can therefore provide all the technical parts but also production support to set up an event from scratch and complete it with our technical know-how in sound, lighting, and structure (rigging, trussing, etc…).
Sion Sous Les Etoiles is a very beautiful festival with stars from French Pop/Rock groups and frankly rock oriented.
For Deep Purple, Julien Doré, Vianney, Francis Cabrel, Christophe Maé, Sexion D’Assaut, and many others, Yoann and his team Alexis Falquet, Pierre Fachaux, Hugo Brassy, Pierre Petit, and Sylvain Champarnaud were keen to do very thorough work in advance, to deal with any eventuality. They wanted to assist the various crews which succeeded one another behind the console, to have the best possible experience.
Technical expertise to assist with the Shows success was Skynights’ motto throughout the festival and, it is a success that enriches and energizes the cultural life of the region. A big thumbs up!Great job!
Lighting Crew Chief/Lighting design: Yoann Pelletier
Desk Operators: Alexis Falquet et Pierre Fachaux
Network Manager: Hugo Brassy
Dimmer City: Pierre Petit et Sylvain Champarnaud
Text by Allison Cussigh - Photos : Yoann Pelletier, Skynight, Sion Sous Les Etoiles – Translation : Ted Hall