Robe Shines for The NAMAs 2018

Photography by Micky Lehr, Eventplus.

Eventplus made a truly spectacular impression for the 2018 Namibia Annual Music Awards (NAMAs); combining Namibian talent and resources, supplemented with some hand-picked regular collaborators from neighbouring South Africa.

Kurt du Preez was tasked with designing the lighting, featuring around 140 Robe moving lights on the rig at the Dome in Swakopmund.

Namibian companies dB Audio and Mikel-Jes Productions, in addition to MJ Event Gear of Johannesburg have all recently committed to Robe as its primary moving light brand.

Eventplus managed the event’s technical production and artistic direction for its client, NAMA executive producers Tim Ekandjo, from main sponsor and mobile telecoms operator MTC, and Jandre Louw from Rockstar Television.

The hi-octane show and du Preez’s brief was to light the event catching that vibe and energy – assisted by an enthusiastic live audience and featuring a heavily LED digital set design, created by Lehr – ensuring that it looked great on camera and for the hundreds of thousands tuning in to watch as well as all those lucky enough to get a ticket to be there in person.

The Dome venue measures 65 metres wide by 95 metres long along the long edge and has an apex height of 21 metres plus a decent weight loading of around 25 tonnes, so du Preez was able to get plenty of lighting positioned exactly where needed above the stage and elaborate set.

The look of the show took a diversion from large square expanses of LED and instead presented a more creative yet equally digital and exciting environment, with blocks of LED above, around and at the back of the performance area.

Upstage a 15 metre wide by 5 metre long LED backdrop split into three sections. This lifted to allow artist entrances and also moved into different formations to vary the overall aesthetic.

A total of 3 prominent rectangular box trusses in the air running upstage / downstage, one along the centre and 2 to the sides, also filled with LED, effectively elongating the space and completing the LED ‘surround’ picture, but as all of this was fragmented, it made it less uniform and more interesting.

The house band was also located behind a semi-transparent LED surface upstage. du Preez’s Robe fixtures therefore had to compete with all of this luminosity, so he chose from among some of the most powerful of the Robe light sources currently available.

A total of 12 Robe BMFL Spots were positioned above the band at 15 metres high to clear the set at the back, and shoot through with long-range, intense dramatic beams, while 4 Robe BMFL Blades were utilised to key light 4 alternative areas on the stage.

24 Robe Spiiders formed the main back / overhead lighting package; positioned to effortlessly illuminate the entire stage, with 18 specifically as back light washes. Six Robe Spiiders handled the forestage and forward sections of set, as well as the VIP lounge area on the house left side and the presenter area on house right.

The 50 Robe LEDBeam 100s were arranged in 10 rows of 5 on trusses used for sparkly-wiggly, whizzy effects onstage that made excellent back-of-camera candy.

16 Robe miniPointes and 16 rOBE LEDWash 300s were positioned at the back on trussing totems, also for beam effects and alternative angled camera-candy.

du Preez dotted 12 Robe Pointes around the rig, 6 above the lounge area and 6 above the presenters, all shooting straight into the camera, where their funky range of effects were highly visible.

The only other lights onstage for show were 64 Robe LED PARs. While 2 MA Lighting grandMA2 light consoles were used for control.

The nearest large town was state capital Windhoek, so any last minute sourcing / collection from there entailed a 700 Km round trip trek through the dust and blistering heat – and incredibly arid beauty – of the Namibian desert.

Historically, Eventplus and Lehr have been involved with the NAMAs since 2015, involving the same small core production team over the last 3 years; which features his son, Max Lehr, who has stage managed since 2016 and this year also took on the role of Production Manager, working closely with assistant stage manager Dylan Jowett as site coordinator. The technical producer since 2015 is Jessica Newton.

Due to the stature and scale of the event, and an annual equipment shortfall  MJ supplied additional Robe BMFLs, an MA Lighting MA2 control and further rigging, motors and controllers. Other smaller suppliers from both Namibia and SA were also used to complete the full equipment specifications.

Television Director Eugene Naidoo and du Preez had worked together just a few weeks previously on the SAFTAs. du Preez explained: “We have a great synergy and I know the sort of shots and angles Eugene is looking for at certain moments and how he likes these to be lit”.

Sound Engineer Fried Wilsenach joined du Preez on FOH, alongside AV and Video Engineer, Jesaya Johannes, while Adam Kirby mixed monitors and kept all things audio in check on-stage.

“The goal is always to create a cool and stylish showcase for Namibian artists that’s on par with any major international music awards show,” concluded Lehr.