Follow Me Theatre Lighting Debut
In February this year, the team at Electric Aura worked on production design for the Vancouver production of Annie, performed at the Michael J. Fox Theatre in Burnaby. The team used the Follow Me System from their Elements equipment rental line in place of traditional follow spots, as well as augmenting the design approach as a whole. This production was the first Follow Me theatre show for the team, and lighting designer Rob Sondergaard was thrilled with the result – we discussed why using the Follow Me System was the ideal solution for this production.
EH: Rob, you’ve used Follow Me in the past on big corporate and rock shows, but how did you find using the software in a smaller, more classic theatre setup?
RS: We incorporated Follow Me heavily into the design for the Alessia Cara Grey Cup halftime show in November, but we were excited because this the first time it was being used for a theatrical production. By using Follow-Me we were able to have lights following the actors from angles that normally aren’t possible. Throughout the show we swapped between 7 different fixtures, using 2-3 at a time to light the leads. We had 2 box boom positions that allowed for a side key light, and in addition we had 3 back positions that can’t usually be achieved except for on big rock shows that have truss followspots. It really rounded out the show look.
EH: What made this production different to others where you’ve incorporated Follow Me into the design?
RS: During the lighting hang I was able to setup and calibrate the whole system so it didn’t actually add any time to the production schedule. While we were in Cue to Cue I could adjust which light was used, its intensity and colour, and store it into the cue list. This meant we didn’t have to make huge notes sheets for the spot operators, which saved me a lot of time! The whole system was really efficient.
EH: There’s a lot of information on your website about cost saving using Follow Me instead of traditional follow spots. How did this pan out on this production, given that follow spot operators were required anyhow?
RS: Having the dimmer/colour levels set by the lighting console streamlined the whole Cue to Cue process. I could make subtle changes in level during notes, and I didn’t have to spend time with the operator trying to get the right intensity while everyone waited. Plus, the venue we did the show in charges $25/day for each follow spot to cover bulb life and wear and tear. By using moving lights that we would have had on the show anyway, we were able to save Align Entertainment the rental cost of the spots. Over a run of 2 weeks plus rehearsals that really adds up, especially for independent theatre companies.
More about Electric Aura Elements
and Follow Me Rentals
Electric Aura Elements is the rental division of Electric Aura Projects, offering select professional lighting software rentals, as well as fixtures, accessories and scenic hardware elements.
The Follow Me System software package is available for rental on short or long touring productions. You can find out more about Follow Me or other lighting software rentals on the Elements page here, or get in touch with the team if you’d like to know more!