Quebec’s KOTV is wrapping up the first season of Zenith, a new concept in live musical competition broadcast by Radio Canada, where song stars of different ages fight for the votes of an audience of 100 judges representing four generations.  Lighting Designer Martin Labrecque selected Ayrton Zonda 9 FX fixtures for the show in what is believed to be their first TV broadcast appearance.  ACT Entertainment is the exclusive distributor of Ayrton lighting in North America.

Zenith aims to unite viewers from the Baby Boomer generation and Generations X, Y and Z in front of the small screen.  Each week four well-known singers cover hits from yesterday and today in a battle to get the most votes from a studio audience of 100 representing those same generational demographics.  The audience is divided into four groups of 25 judges each led by a star from the same generation.

The singers perform popular hits that span the decades, relying on strategic song choices and innovative arrangements to appeal to as many age groups as possible.  Twenty-four artists participated in the first round of the competition with one per generation making it to the grand finale.  The artist displaying a timeless talent that reaches across all eras, styles and trends will emerge the winner.

Labrecque, who is currently working on the new Cirque du Soleil production, teamed with the set designer to create the visual look of Zenith. “I built a lighting kit to hand off to DP and Lighting Director Yves Aucoin, who does the weekly show, so he has the flexibility to light the many different looks required by a variety show,” he explains.

Zenith marks the first time that Labrecque has used Ayrton Zonda 9 FX fixtures, which he saw at LDI and then at a demo arranged by ACT Entertainment’s Alex Monast.  Zonda 9 FX is a versatile, full-equipped luminaire designed for a multitude of applications.  It offers the main features of the Zonda 9 Wash with infinite continuous rotation on the pan and tilt axes I.R.S. (Ayrton’s trademarked Infinite Rotation System) plus 3D volumetric effects and the complex graphic LiquidEffect, which can be used alone or in combination with the main LED matrix.

“A variety show like Zenith, with four different songs per night, presents a lot of different kinds of music,” says Labrecque.  “We needed a versatile wash fixture and the Zonda 9 FX, with its LiquidEffect, offered really good eye candy too.  It could adapt to all the different numbers on the show.”  Labrecque obtained 16 Zonda 9 FX from event production agency Creativ Nation in Montreal, which has an extensive inventory of the fixtures.

At the start of the series Labrecque hung all 16 fixtures on the grid.  “I thought they’d be used mostly as a wash creating a large beam of light with wide shots showing the LiquidEffect,” he explains.  “Then, in the middle of the series, Yves decided to put five of them on the floor so now you see the LiquidEffect used more as eye candy behind the participants.  He’s found them to be great lights that deliver everything they’re supposed to do.”

Labrecque believes the Zonda 9 FX will come in handy for future large-scale variety projects he might do. “Their colours are so vivid and the light intensity so strong,” he says.  “And the LiquidEffect is unique to them – something you don’t see very often and is quite interesting to use.”

Eric Belanger is the Lighting Programmer for Zenith.

Texte: Courtesy of ACT Entertainment
Photos: © Benoit Rousseau

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