Robe Spiiders and Spikies Spinning Webs Across Australia
Versatility, value for money and a dash of pizzazz are some of the factors influencing the choices made by Sydney based LD, Peter Rubie, when he is creating his work.
Peter Rubie has spent the last 11 years devising a wide variety of lighting design work for different types of performances but specialises in productions that are a hybrid of classical and modern/pop/rock music.
His lighting ‘choreography’ requires an intimate and up-to-date knowledge of what’s available and how it can be used to achieve different effects. He often uses Robe products, distributed by specialist lighting and staging equipment suppliers, Jands.
Robe has released some exciting new LED products in the last year and having been a fan of Robe’s previous LED range, Peter was keen to get his hands on them. ‘I programmed a big private lightshow launch for Jands when they released the Spiider and Spikie into Australia earlier this year and knew instantly I wanted to use them on a show. Soon after, he received a very special project from Ministry of Sound Australia to create a lighting spectacular for a performance of ‘Orchestrated’ at the Sydney Opera House.
‘Orchestrated’ was designed to re-imagine some of the world’s most loved dance-floor anthems with a live symphony orchestra and a group of Australia’s most talented singers.
“Tim and his team had strong ideas of what they wanted, but having worked with them before designing MOS Club, they also trusted me to create something to emphasise and accent the music,” Peter says.
“I also knew what the orchestra needed. You can’t be too extreme with the creative side of the lighting to the point where the musicians can’t see the music to do their jobs.”
Peter started with a centrepiece truss based on the Ministry of Sound logo to sit above the rear of the stage and filled it with Spikies. The show, with 772 timecoded lighting cues needed to flow with the orchestrations but also needed lots of tricks to accent the dance beats builds and drops.
“The Spikie for me is like every other micro LED beam fixture over the last year but on steroids,” Peter says. “The colours are mixed nicely before a single PC style lens so you don’t ever see individual LED smarties, it has a nice zoom range right from a parallel pencil-thin beam to a smooth even wash with a nice soft edge. Then there’s the unexpected. Robe have managed to squeeze in a three facet prism, which looks great when breaking up the beam at narrow zoom as well as the unique flower effect which people simply don’t expect to come out of a fixture of this size. It’s a little bit retro, but very cool and the photos speak for themselves. It looks incredible through haze and turns the fixture into something you would expect from a moving profile. These tricks along with its endless rotation, made it perfect for a centre focal piece when used in numbers.
“It’s size and price are comparable to many of the other small LED beam-wash fixtures on the market so you can get a lot of bang for buck when you want a lot of units,” Peter remarked. Weighing in at no more than 7kg each was also a plus for Peter. “On that show, there was a 500kg weight limit on the fly line which had to include all rigging of the centrepiece from an overhead LX truss, but thankfully with the low weight of the Spikie that was not a problem.”
Peter’s real workhorse over the course of this year however has been the Spiider LED Wash from Robe.
Orchestrated had 18 Spiiders, supplied by Chameleon Touring Systems along with the Spikies.
“The Spiider has a beautiful quality of light, at the right brightness. At the same time though, it’s very versatile and clever in that it incorporates the same ‘flower effect’ in its centre chip, so both types of lights work really well together. I was even able to use the Spiider as a side fill which it delivered with some nice pastels and then at times I could add the dynamic element of the flower effect seeping through the orchestra.”
Peter also commented on the physical appearance of the Spiider, “Another thing I really like is the finish to the lens. It has a certain glossiness to the eye but leaves behind the massive glare that you get from wash lights of the same brightness. That means the disc of LED’s isn’t constantly catching my eye up on the truss or on the sides so your focus can stay on the talent. Additionally, there isn’t a large amount of side spill coming off the lens so I can rig them close to curtains, cycs, projection and walls and only light up the surface I’m actually pointing the fixture towards.”
“I enjoyed user the Spiider so much at the start of the year that I’ve continued to spec it as my LED wash light of choice. I’ve used it on Eskimo Joe, Swing on This, Meow Meows Pandemonium and a big tribute show to George Michael with a full symphony backing. Again, it was important that the orchestra were part of the picture for a lot of these shows so having a wash light that can produce perfect pastels when we want to pick out the players is just as important as the punchy saturates. For Meow Meow, I again added the Spikies alongside the Spiiders for some beam fun. 8 units upstage in clusters of 4 worked great for rock fan outs, and another 4 downstage to frame Meow Meow for big diva moments. Being small, they easily tucked in around the conductor’s podium and under the piano. For the George Michael tribute, I rigged 16 Spikies on droppers to create a simple but effective grid of beams that could do more intimate moments down on the orchestra or blast out into the crowd or up in the air for the real wham moments (pun intended).”
With every show he does, Peter has several criteria that must be met, especially if he has discovered something new.
“Once you know what the show is, of course you need to work out what type of lights be used for that scenario and then whether they will work in that particular venue and for that particular show.”
“I have personal favourites that I like to use, but with anything new the question is which brand and which model, and whether we have the budget for them and if they are available. The Robe gear is becoming really popular in the rental market so since the Orchestrated show earlier this year I’ve been able to use both the Spiider and Spikie on quite a few other shows.” This included a tour of The Empire Strips Back across California which Peter chose to have 30 Spiiders in a staggered bar arrangement. “It started off as a smaller rig here in Australia with some moving beam lights that had plenty of flash and movement but since upgrading the Spiider rig, we’ve added a whole other dimension and more of a theatrical element. It’s really important as the rig plays a big part in setting the scenes being the only main flown element/backdrop to the show.”
Commenting on the Robe range as whole, Peter said “Robe are making some really interesting products at the moment without sacrificing on quality. Having visited their factory earlier this year you can see that they take the R&D, manufacturing and quality control very seriously which is pleasing to see so I look forward to seeing what comes next.”
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