Friday, January 21, 2011

Caldecott Hill Old Timer lights up Laos 450 Year Anniversary Celebrations

Seah Hong Gim who retired from MediaCorp as Lighting Designer in TVOB unit is still active as a lighting consultant for shows in the region. Here he talks about his experience at the Vietiane 450 Years Anniversary Celebration in Laos

Vientiane 450 Years Anniversary Celebration ,Laos

Lighting Advisor for the “Vientiane 450 YearsAnniversary”, Seah Hong Gim talks about
his experience at the event that was held in November in Laos.The article was published in
Entertain Technology Asia .


My role as lighting advisor on “Vientiane 450 Years Anniversary” celebration was my 2ndproject with Showtec Group since I designed lighting on F1 Singapore Grand Prix from2008 to 2010. Showtec was awarded the job by Tekcast, a technology and broadcast development company under the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism, Vietnam.
The show was held on 19 Nov 2010 at the same stadium which featured the Sea Gamesin 2009. The venue is small but it poses a challenge for the LD. It has a very low roof structure due to its limited rows of seating gallery. I estimated that it can accommodate some 10,000 people only.
Lighting Operation
Owing to some constraint, the client had earlier decided on the types and quantities of the luminaries and I was appointed later to execute the lighting operation. For basic illumination, I was provided with a small quantity of 120 Moving Heads at the FOH and 150 at the back stage but with a larger number of eff ect luminaries, namely 130 x 4kw searchlights, 2 x 4kw Follow spots, 4 x 2.5kw Follow spots, 60 x Led floods, 4 x 4kw Sky Trackers, 1 x 16w laser and 4 x 8w laser. Since the luminaries were rigged below the low structure, it had very shallow keying angleonto the display area. When the beam was aimed at the centre portion of the field, itsvertical angle was only 14° instead of the ideal angle of 30° to 45°. This small angle causeda problem as its beam would spread far to the back of fi eld and made localized lighting extremely critical. In most cases, the proper way of design is to include wash luminaries such as the Fresnel or for basic illumination and the Moving Heads for the eff ect. The Fresnel would provide basic illumination required by the TV system and the Moving Heads for eff ect such as scanning, fl ickering, patterning, color changing and etc. Since I did not have the Fresnel, my Moving Heads had to perform double duties of wash plus effect at the same time. It was a compromise which would finally aff ect the quality of TV video. Any LD will agree that lighting a soccer field (112m x 75m) with 120 Moving Heads at FOH is a big challenge to his credential. It worried me initially. However, after working out the lighting level on every part of the fi eld using formula on Beam angle, Canleda, & Distance, my programmer Tai Ping and I were relief that we could achieve 305 to 478 Lux to meet the TV specifi cations and also satisfy the organizing committee who requested for more changing colors and eff ects.
Speech by VIPs
The show started rather early as the Vientiane sky is fairly dark by 1745hr when TV lightingis effective. The celebration began with the Deputy PM presenting a report followed by the President delivering a speech. After the presentation, the President beat traditional gong 9 times to signal the start of the celebration. It started with a choir singing 2 songs followed by a parade where thousands of participants representing various organizations marching past the grand stand. In between, there were colorful floats featuring various aspects of Lao life and traditions. To a foreigner like me, the most impressive was the colorful costumes worn by the various ethnic tribes. Most costumes were stunningly beautiful and attractive.
The Main Performance
The main performance was featured in 3 parts each with diff erent lighting treatment.
Part 1 - A wealthy and Splendid Land A local proverb “in rivers there are fi sh, in farm there are rice” described a wealthy, happy & secure environment enjoyed by the Lao people during the time from 1353 AD to 1695 AD. Lighting was bright and colorful in harmony with the theme.
Part 2 - Blood and Tears
A serious dispute resulted in wide spread discord and divided the kingdom into 3 smaller ones. This weakness allowed foreign forces to invade and killed Lao people. Many were forced into slavery. It lasted more than 100 years. Lighting was contrasty and in low key, with blue wash indicating sorrow and grief; red wash as blood and killing.
Part 3 – 35 years of Vientiane under PDR
National Flag
On 2 Dec 1975, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic as the people’s democratic regime was openly declared on the international stage. This was the greatest achievement in thousands of years in Lao history.
Lighting was pushed to its max level and changed with various hues. 130 Searchlights were dancing to the beat of the national music. Moving Heads on narrow beams were sweeping across the fi eld on multi colors. The beams of the Searchlights were very eff ective due to the foggy air in Lao sky. It is not possible to achieve the same eff ect in Singapore as our air is hardly foggy. Tai Ping’s creativity in effect lighting was appreciated by all around.
Towards the fi nal 15 minutes, fireworks of various patterns and hues exploded into the sky. All VIPs and the general public were in high spirit. The show committee did a good job.

TV Coverage
TV video tends to look flat without side
lighting. Since we did not have the side
luminaries, we decided to switch 38 x 4kw
Searchlight at both sides to fl ood mode (plus
diff user) as side lighting. It came out well. The
Picture looked more solid.
TV Nationale Laos deployed 10 cameras
at strategic locations for the coverage. At
the end of the show, TV director Mr. Inpong
told me that they were very pleased with
our lighting. Cameras could operate at F/3.5
to get reasonable depth of fi eld. In return, I
congratulated him for doing a splendid job
as he only had one camera rehearsal 2 days
before the grand event. In my experience,
most need 4 to 7 rehearsals for a show in
this scale.
My 2 weeks stay in Laos gave me an
opportunity to appreciate Vientiane and its
fi ner things in life. I simply love its laid back
and quiet atmosphere. An old Chinese saying
“work while the sun rises; rest when the sun
sets” is still a practice here. Some shopping
centers & tourist attractions close at 1700hr.
There is no queue and nobody ever has to
rush. However it may not be the cup of tea for
most Singaporeans.