An impressive light show makes a festival into an intense experience. What matters most and how light designers work at a big open-air festival is explained by Roni Huber from our Winkler Multi Media Events company. As the responsible production partner and service provider at Rock the Ring, it is Winkler’s job this year to provide lighting that does full justice to stars like Fanta 4, Deep Purple, John Fogerty and Gotthard.
Roni, what are your jobs at Rock the Ring?
We are concerned with the development of the lighting design and putting it into practice – with the technical planning of the lighting and setting it up. We also make sure that there is close coordination with the bands and their technical requirements and look after the technical side of the bands' productions.
What does that mean?
To maintain the groove of a festival, a great deal of attention is deliberately paid to light. Our job is to coordinate the needs of the festival and the bands with one another and to respond to these needs. It must be possible for each band to set up things for themselves quickly. Nonetheless, they must have an interesting set, with a cool, attractive design.
"The light show ought to reflect the bands' look and brand."
Their setup ought, in the final instance, to be reproduced as faithfully as possible, with a realistic reflection of their look and brand. The organiser is looking for variety in the light design and an installation offering versatile options, but it must also do justice to all the bands – both during the day and at night. To achieve that, we use equipment with controls that are as intuitive as possible for everyone.
How do you proceed if you are to produce a light design to suit the headliner’s show?
The stage instructions, in the so-called "rider", state what the bands would like. Then there is a programming night, during which we program the festival setup. After that, the bands adapt their show to our design. Sometimes they do that beforehand and sometimes on-the-spot. At the festival itself, we employ a festival operator, whose job it is to support the light operators of the productions and bands.
What are the challenges at a festival like Rock the Ring?
Coordination between production, band, sound engineers and ourselves. The cramped space available on the stage. If the weather is against us, we might find ourselves facing a 12-metre-high opening, through which the rain can come lashing in. For that reason, all the equipment must be protected against water.
Winkler has been the responsible production partner and service provider at Rock the Ring since 2014. What highlights have you experienced so far?
We have had headliners like Queen, Limp Bizkit, Unheilig, Toto, Scorpions, Bryan Adams and Fanta 4. What matters there are not our needs but ensuring that all our stakeholders are satisfied.
So, it’s not a matter of "enjoying the show"?
After the show is before the show. When one band is standing on stage, we are already preparing the next number. There are very tight time windows at festivals.
Winkler Multi Media Events is the leading Swiss event solutions service provider for multimedia and 3D live communication. Both companies form part of the MCH Group's Live Marketing Solutions.