Royal Swedish Opera plays DICE with Ayrton Cobra
‘Attention! This Performance Contains Lighting That May Be Considered As Disturbing.’
This is the caption that presented itself on the Royal Swedish Opera’s site publicising the show by the Royal Swedish Orchestra devoted to celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Swedish gaming phenomenon that is DICE. The dynamic meeting of cultural opposites showcased the musical accompaniments of games such as Battlefield 1, 3, 4 and V, Battlefield 2042, Battlefield: Bad Company 1 and 2, Star Wars™: Battlefront I and II, Mirror’s Edge and Mirror’s Edge Catalyst. The musical background of a video game, similar to the function of a film soundtrack, guides and supports the gamer through the narrative of the game.
For LD Ishai Mika of Green Wall Designs AB, Sweden, this presented a unique challenge: how to light a multimedia performance that embraces musical genres that range from traditional classical to the far reaches of electronic sound. He opted to turn to Ayrton’s unique laser source luminaire, Cobra, to offer him the range and flexibility required in his design.
For those yet to experience this ground-breaking fixture, Cobra is the result of Ayrton’s relentless quest to move forward in developing and exploiting new technologies to bring fresh opportunities to lighting designers worldwide. This laser-sourced fixture houses a D65 white point that allows perfect colour reproduction within its compact structure. The optical system uses 13 lenses, producing an unprecedented 38x zoom ratio, a zoom range of 0.6° to 23° and a phenomenal throw distance. IP65 rated and, unsurprisingly, with Ayrton’s signature continuous rotation of the pan and tilt, Cobra is fast becoming the go-to universal luminaire for those looking to pushing their design imagination that bit further.
“I have programmed and operated Ayrton fixtures many times,” opens Mika. “I’m a big fan of the new Ayrton workhorse fixtures like Khamsin, Huracán and Eurus but this is the first time I’ve used Cobra – in fact this is a first for any outing in Sweden. I first saw them in action in Frankfurt when we had already started planning the DICE show.
“We opted to use thirty Cobra units to create a specific look: the whole idea was to create three walls and a roof of beams to make it feel like a room, but still be able to use them in such a way that gives each part of the concert its own identity. The whole show was built on six blocks of music from each game and each with their own style. Two are electronic music and four blocks are orchestral. We made the blocks all look very different from each other: historical or future periods; different composers; different music styles to suit each game.”
As always, budget was influential so the supporting lighting spec was mostly the house rig at the Opera House. The venue boasts fully automated trusses and floors so Mika made good use of what would otherwise be an expensive feature. The stage floor can be lowered 6m below deck and rise upwards too, so the musicians could be sunk into the stage, at other times raised up, and sometimes held in a ‘box’ between floors.
“We had an upstage frame full of Cobras which, when they shoot up or outwards form the sides, floor and roof of the room. We could also use the dropped truss alongside the ground row to create two rows of Cobra at stage level which was perfect for when we had that room between the floors,” explains Mika.
Mika’s experience of working on productions that range from heavy metal band In Flames to Melodifestivalen, ABBA Voyage and Valorant Champions gave him the necessary insight to deliver for a range of musical output that ranged from electronic through to classical orchestral overtures.
“With gaming music there is nothing like a verse or chorus,” Mika continues. “It’s more like a classical composition, so you can’t cut and paste something – you have to have new stuff all the time! Each block of music is twelve minutes so you have to leave yourself somewhere to go!
“We wanted a powerful and versatile beam fixture that still gave us a good zoom, frost, gobos, prisms and ideally bright darker colours. We were all interested in exploring a laser-sourced fixture but we knew that we needed a good white colour as well, so we all got really excited when we heard about the option to get the new Cobras for our show.
“Cobra didn’t disappoint: it really did what we wanted it to do, the colours were fabulous, but also it had a great frost, and we were able to use the convergent beam/cross-over point that is unique to Cobra at about 3m from the fixture – I really like this look.
“I knew right away I wanted to use a lot of white – that was one of the reasons why we chose Cobra instead of other laser fixtures which don’t have a pure white. We used plenty of colours as well – and the gobos, mid-air FX and prisms – there weren’t many functions I didn’t explore!”
The combination of classical, electronic and gaming visuals all packaged into one celebratory show at the Swedish Royal Opera for DICE’s 30-year anniversary proved to be the ideal platform to showcase Ayrton’s Cobra at its best.
Text: Julie Harper
Lighting Design / Programming: Ishai Mika, Green Wall Designs AB
Creative Directors: Andreas Nilsson & Jukka Rintamäki
Video Content: Andreas Nilsson
Lighting Operator: Moltas Gabrielsson, The Royal Swedish Opera
D3 Programmer & Operator: Mats Andreasson, The Royal Swedish Opera
Photos: © Ishai Mika