Redefining the Iconic Boombox
Spectacular stage, set and production design with a breathtaking result
Luc Peumans and the team from Painting with Light redefined the iconic boombox, presenting this historic music making device in a fresh, new, digital dimension as the set centrepiece for Belgium’s 2018 Schlagerfestival, staged in the 14,000 capacity Ethias Arena in Hasselt.
With Paco Mispelters as the lighting designer, Luc and the crew created the event’s spectacular stage, set and production design and produced all the bespoke video content appearing on the boombox. It’s the 13th year that Luc has been involved in Schlagerfestival for producers PSE BELGIUM, in which time he’s seen a steady commitment to increasing production values, which has also enabled innovating the design each year.
At the essence of the design was the desire to make the 8 mm pitch digital scenery truly three-dimensional and have it appear genuinely scenic rather than electronic!
Once the boombox idea started to evolve - he also wanted an object instantly associated with music that could carry its own visual narrative - Luc added side panels at 90 degrees to the 20 metre wide by 9 metre high front fascia, so the audience sitting along the sides of the venue (the show was sold 270 degrees) would have a better viewing experience.
He then added two piles of retro-style scenic cassette tapes each side of the stage, which were fronted with Barco MiTrix video surfaces and which also formed part of the band risers. Their positioning and random appearance brought a whole new layer and perspective to the performance space.
“The objective was to create a digital set that looked like authentic, hand-built scenery,” explained Luc. “Getting that ‘quality’ look was vital, and having an excellent digital toolbox - and plenty of ideas - to hand meant we could add plenty of detail and adapt and personalize the set for each artist with different looks, graphics and animations”.
Painting with Light supplied three video artists – a 3D modeller, a Notch expert and an animations specialist – to develop the boombox content.
Three different overall looks were developed for the radio section of the boombox, including a tuner and VU metre, which were animated in real-time using Notch real-time effects and rendering software. This was linked to the disguise server, and ran scripts that translated DMX values from the lighting console and applied them to the different boombox graphic layers. These scripts were triggered via audio inputs, so the VU metre movements were synched exactly to the beat.
The video provided a structural and physical framework for the set, with light then adding atmosphere and depth.
The disguise gx 2 server ran all the video playback, but the atmospheric video settings, including colour, were controlled and triggered via the grandMA2 lighting console, which allowed specific parameters of lighting and video to be synchronised quickly and matched during the show, and work together harmoniously.
Programming time on site was tight, so two grandMAs were used, one for lighting and video, and one with the merged showfiles running off a single console operated by Arjan Grootenhuis (with ‘hot’ backup) for the four shows, all of which were completely sold out!
The challenge was to produce a flexible visual environment for a lively, fast-paced show featuring multiple artists, for which the Painting with Light team also used their studio in Genk for three days of intensive pre-visualization and programming.
This allowed them to come to site prepared with all the basic video and lighting presets, focuses and programming completed, ready for the one and only dress rehearsal … ahead of a busy and complex show in terms of production.
This was followed by a fine-tuning session and then straight into the first show … which proved a big success for all involved and was hugely well received by the public.