London, UK - Jeremy Lechterman and Jackson Gallagher of production design and creative direction partnership FragmentNine selected the dense light beams of the Claypaky Mythos2 to add texture to their lighting design for Mercury Prize-winning indie rock band alt-J in their first arena show of 2017, held at The O2 Arena in London.
FragmentNine's design has since been nominated for a prestigious Knight of Illumination award. The design was an upscaled version of the production's touring lighting design, also by FragmentNine, for The O2 Arena's 10th anniversary showcase.
"As a band, alt-J fly fairly under the radar in terms of their visual appearance and personalities; we set out to create something that wraps them and shrouds them in mystery," reveals Lechterman. "The catch phrase 'immersive' was always on the tip of our tongues, and we feel the end result is quite evocative of that idea."
By using Mythos2 in the set's floor package, as well as rigging a number of the fixtures onto independently moving trusses, FragmentNine created a range of tessellated looks that both framed the band and immersed the audience in the stage environment.
"As a one-off, the O2 concept was fairly complex and had an untested design element that contained a lot of moving pieces - literally and figuratively," says Lechterman. "Design-wise we were taking a big risk on several elements - the scale, the trim heights, the automation - which we'd only been able to previsualise."
FragmentNine needed a reliable, fully featured spot fixture that could fit with the form factor of the production's custom dollies. The Mythos2 was the only unit to fit the measurements whilst still retaining all the features of a more "traditional" spot fixture.
"It was our first time spec'ing the Mythos2 on a show and we were nervous about using them on the ladders because of the throw distance," says Lechterman. "We weren't sure if they would work at 75ft from the stage. We were impressed and relieved when we turned the rig on for the first time and the Mythos2 did not disappoint!"
The high-output beam of the Mythos2 was used to strike out against the show's wrap-around video screens and its black and white treated content.
"The fixture's optics are stunning," says Lechterman. "Normally, that's one of the first things that goes out the window when someone miniaturises a light. We're continually impressed by how crisp, accurate, and flat the optics are. We (and our crew) also love how cool the fixture runs, especially the light out the front of the gate. We have it sitting inches behind our LED wall and we have experienced zero melting."
The task of creating ever-changing looks from song to song was made simpler for the designers through the use of the Mythos2's advanced colour engine. The fixture boasts a CMY colour system, 14 colour filters on three wheels, two CTO filters and one CTB filter, offering an extensive range of colour and hues. FragmentNine put the systems into practice, using authentic colours from stark reds to moody blues and greens, to accentuate the emotion of the music.
"We start every design concept from the point of intention and motivation - rather than just doing something for the sake of it looking pretty," Gallagher discloses. "A lot of the new album has the underpinning of traditional British choral and orchestral music. So, we decided to subversively elicit the visual of a pipe organ, and use every bit of the space to our advantage."
To create the towering on-stage looks, FragmentNine was aided by the Mythos2's pipe beam mode, which produces a fixed 2.5° beam.
Lighting fixtures for the O2 production were supplied by Portsmouth-based production company Liteup Events, who are supplying the tour world-wide with the lighting and control package, which includes the Mythos2.
"The Mythos2 units provided the core element of the show," says Mark Callaghan, Liteup cofounder. "We work closely with manufacturers to build good relationships and to ensure our staff are fully trained. The equipment has been outstanding throughout."
Lechterman adds: "Claypaky is consistently within our top few manufactures when we are selecting fixtures for a show. Their 'common sense' elegance when it comes to design choices and their continual investment in R&D propels the industry further."
alt-J's upcoming seaside tour (with dates in Brighton, Margate, Bournemouth and Weston-Super-Mare), and current international festival circuit follows their third studio album, RELAXER, which was released in June 2017.
Ambersphere Solutions is the Claypaky distributor for the UK and Ireland.