Lighting designer Michael Kuehbandner worked closely with creative director Achim John from Jack Morton Worldwide and the show direction team from Quinton’s Concept to deliver a spectacular visual extravaganza for the VIP launch of the new fourth-generation Škoda Octavia car at the Prague National Gallery’s Trade Fair Palace in the Czech Republic.
Assisting Michael was over 180 x Robe moving lights – a mix of MegaPointes, Spiiders, LEDWash 1200s and DL4S Profiles.
The eye-catching event was production designed / produced by marketing and communications agency Fischer Appelt in collaboration with leading global brand experience specialist, Jack Morton Worldwide.
Michael was working directly for adhoc engineering, German-based interdisciplinary events and technical specialist, who were responsible for coordinating the full technical production and implementation led by Maik Ragheb as technical director.
The Octavia is considered the “heart & engine” of Škoda and is the top-volume benchmark model for the iconic Czech brand which is now part of the Volkswagen Motor Group. 2020 marks the 60th anniversary of the first Octavia being produced.
The ethos of the Octavia 4 is “crystalline, sculptured and timeless” an elegant design embodying the practical, comfortable, economical, and sustainable spirit of Škoda.
The 6-minute reveal show reflected these core values and starred three new Octavias, one of which emerged from a crystal-shaped set piece that split apart!
Two of the cars were driven along a ‘crystalline light tunnel’ created by Michael using the MegaPointes and Spiiders to the sounds of “Opus Octavia” a specially composed piece by Jazz musician Jesse Milliner, performed by the Prague Philharmonie (Pražská komorní filharmonie) orchestra and the Time for Three string trio.
Two cars were parked up on turntables onstage, with the third positioned in front of the ‘open’ crystal, also on a rotating podium. They revolved gracefully in all their glory to the hugely impressed guests … plus tens of thousands of fans following the live video stream.
The ‘crystalline light tunnel’ was approximately 25 metres long and in the centre of an overall performance space 60 metres long by 25 metres wide which also included all the tiered guest seating and platforms for the amassed global press and media.
The walls at the back of the seating tribunes were clad with projection screen surface, and there was a large LED surface at the back of the presentation stage which flew up to reveal the orchestra. This LED screen also tracked sideways to make room for the cars when they were driven onstage.
A network of trussing – trimmed at 9 metres above the performance area – was installed in the roof to provide the lighting positions, and the key areas that Michael needed to light were the crystal set piece, the light tunnel and the reveal stage.
The crystal was lit with around 12 of the MegaPointes and 12 of the Spiiders.
The MegaPointes’ two prisms and animation wheel helped Michael create the specific crystalline ‘sharded’ look that the client wanted for this stunning creation.
The other 52 x MegaPointes and 82 x Spiiders were mainly distributed on the trusses above the crystalline runway.
The MegaPointes were used to produce a variety of intense beam looks required to make the crystalline light tunnel a dynamic environment and a dramatic visual centrepiece of the reveal sequence. They were also used in conjunction with 16 specially adapted moving mirror devices installed around the space and some static mirror panels along the floor of the runway.
These acted as bounce surfaces to bend, reflect, and refract the light coming from the MegaPointes in multiple directions, creating dazzling sparkling and shimmering effects evoking the “clean crystalline” look at the essence of the presentation aesthetic.
The Spiiders were also used as beams; the nice, fat high-quality light output was ideal for the job.
Michael researched thoroughly before finding the optimum mirror devices that would act exactly the way he wanted, and he conducted a test setup at Robe Germany in Munich to determine the best gobo / prism combinations and measure the output at various distances.
“The MegaPointe was a clear winner to its effects and the beautiful white light colour of the discharge lamp,” he commented.
The Spiider also proved its flexibility with Michael utilizing it for powerful beams as well as with the flower effect from the 60W central LED for softer more ephemeral looks.
They also served as classic wash lights to evenly illuminate the cars along the light tunnel and onstage. “The Spiider is a very versatile tool,” he stated.
The ten DL4S Profiles were rigged above the stage and used to illuminate the various speakers during the presentation section of the event, and the 24 x LEDWash 1200s, a long-time favourite in the world of automotive lighting, were used to highlight the cars on the revolves.
All the Robes plus another 400 odd fixtures – some other LED washes, over 200 LED spots, LED floods, LED flood strobes and some small tungsten fresnels – were used in the show space and the reception / feeder room, car display and after-show areas.
They were controlled by two grandMA2s. The show console was programmed by Markus Axmann and run to timecode, while the second console ran all the periphery area lighting and was operated by Marek Papke.
The event’s lighting equipment was coordinated by AVE-PRO, the set was built by Nuessli and the architectural event space designers were Formkontor.
Michael has been using Robe products in his work for about four years. He thinks they are manufacturing some very innovative products and is further convinced of the “quality and passion” synonymous with the brand since recently visiting Robe’s HQ in the east of the Czech Republic.
This show followed Michael’s previous work for Škoda in 2017. Based in Munich, he works extensively across multiple sectors including live music, television, theatre, and others. A specialist area of his is lighting for the automotive sector, where he’s designed shows for Audi’s CLT and launch events; and been a creative lighting designer, associate lighting designer, lighting director and operator worldwide for car shows, press conferences, launch events, group nights, etc., mostly for the VW Group, BMW and Mercedes.
Photo Credit: © ŠKODA AUTO a.s. 2020
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