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Robe rocks out with Sydney Catholic Schools

Robe rocks out with Sydney Catholic Schools

Robe rocks out with Sydney Catholic Schools


Sydney Catholic Schools presented four special performances of School of Rock – The Musical, based on the original Broadway show and staged at the 16,000-capacity Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney, Australia. Lighting designer Mark Hammer decided on the Robe RoboSpot solution for his extensive follow spotting needs. Hammer worked under the direction of Great Big Events, who produced the show on behalf of Sydney Catholic Schools.

The stage was designed with a 270° viewing angle, complete with a full choir at the back for some sections of the show, and a prominent second stage in the middle of the arena floor for “rock out” moments. He thought it was a fitting scenario to specify four Robe RoboSpot systems to run 12 BMFL FollowSpot moving lights.

The 12 BMFL FollowSpots were paired with four RoboSpot BaseStations each running three fixtures, all supplied by Sydney based lighting vendors, Chameleon Touring Systems, and Hammer said he was delighted with the results. “Follow spotting was vital to this show and with a 19m/20m trim height, I needed really bright units – and lots of them – so this was a ‘must-have’ on the lighting plot,” he explained.

Mark Hammer
Mark Hammer

Using RoboSpots was not only said to be “significantly easier” for Hammer operationally than calling 12 individual manually operated follow spots, but it was also hugely quicker and more practical for the Chameleon crew to rig the 12 BMFL fixtures and set up the four base stations which were backstage to the rear of one of the arena’s vomitory entrances.

The BMFLs were all front spots, positioned on the ends and at the centre of the advanced truss which was above the audience just in front of the downstage edge of the main stage.

This allowed Hammer to track the principals from multiple angles wherever they were as they moved around the stage and out in the arena to the B-stage. Having three spots on each person eliminated facial shadows and was said to have brought a palpable depth and precision to the lighting.

Hammer retained overall intensity and colour control from the main lighting console with the RoboSpot operators taking care of the pan, tilt, zoom and iris parameters from their BaseStations. While the operators were all initially unfamiliar with using the RoboSpot system, they were all experienced analogue follow spot operators who picked up the RoboSpotting fairly quickly.

“RoboSpot met my expectations and in fact went way beyond,” noted Hammer. “Many creative things are unlocked by using this system that simply aren’t possible when dealing with one flat beam of light.”

The main challenge with lighting the show – which follows the fortunes of wannabe rock star Dewey Finn posing as a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school, eventually transforming a class of students into a rock band – was the tight timeframe for getting the show lit and programmed. Hammer felt that running 12 follow spots was made so straightforward by utilising the RoboSpot system, leaving him with more time to concentrate on being creative, getting cues into the desk and more time-consuming elements of lighting. “It’s hassle-free to cue the system and I’ll definitely be using it again,” he concluded.

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