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PULLING THE SAFTAS OUT OF THE HAT

pulling-the-saftas-out-of-the-hat

The 6th South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs) were staged at Gallagher Estate in Midrand on 9 and 10 March. Organised by the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), they were supplied by Gearhouse South Africa and produced for SABC 3 by Clive Morris Productions (CMP) in association with Grooves Productions.

With the venue confirmed only three weeks before 9 March, the awards were planned and executed in just under 30 days. Owing to an unforeseen change of dates, they were also not broadcast live as anticipated and had to be edited for broadcast on Sunday in a very short space of time. All said and done, it was fantastic that all teams involved pulled off an event of this nature in such a short space of time.

CMP was tasked with recording, editing, packaging and delivering the SAFTAs for broadcast on SABC 3 on 11 March. This also involved conceptualising, creating and overseeing the awards show from a scripting and staging point of view, sourcing the hosts, presenters and entertainment and creating all the audio-visual packages for the show. The core CMP team comprised 13 technicians, including stage director Genna Lewis, technical director and editor of broadcast package Daniel Black, line producer Ross Jameson, red carpet producer Sipho Gogotya, script writer, Ntokoza Mbuli as well as Clive Morris himself (executive producer and television director). Lehlohonolo Lehana of Grooves Productions was involved as associate producer.

The Gearhouse team, project managed by Lefa Tsiane, comprised 40 crew members and 18 casuals from a number of companies within the Gearhouse SA group. Their task spanned six technical production disciplines; lighting, audio, video, rigging, power and set building. All these teams worked round-the-clock shifts to meet the deadline.

Set

The set was designed by Michael Gill (MGD) and built under the direction of Pieter Joubert of Sets Drapes, Screens (SDS). It comprised a stunning, spade-shaped 900mm-high stage which sprouted beautifully into the audience as briefed by the NFVF. Three big AV walls were neatly rigged on the set’s curvy walls, bringing the event to life and making scenery interchangeable at the flick of a switch. Complementing the set were sleek roof fins suspended over the stage to make for a truly epic design. The stage covered about 175 square metres and was constructed predominantly from steel and wood. It took SDS three weeks to build the set offsite and three days to assemble in the venue. Three pantech trucks and one 12-metre truck transported it to site. " It was great working with MGD, the design was very clear and the team being on site most of the time meant that problems were easy and quick to solve. MGD also made a scaled model of the stage which helped us a lot" says Joubert.

Lighting

Hugh Turner’s lighting design set ‘the mood’ for the heritage-themed event. It incorporated mostly moving lights; 29 Robe ColorSpot 700E Spots, 33 Robe ColorWash 700E Washes, 26 Robe RED washes, 16 Robe ROBIN 300E Spots and 9 Robe ROBIN 300E Washes, which were predominantly hung on stage and on audience trusses. A few moving lights were placed on the floor surrounding the thrust and main stage, lighting the underside of the central architectural hanging feature, to create aerial views and to complement the existing lighting.

Turner also employed a varied range of conventional fixtures, which included 12 Strand 2Kw Fresnels, 28 Selecon Pacific 14-35 Deg profiles, 16 Selecon Pacific 12-28 Deg profiles and 18 Bars of six PAR64s. The 2Kw Fresnels were mounted on wind-up/combo stands in the red carpet area and the PAR64s were hung from the audience trusses. He also embellished his design with a selection of LED fixtures, which included 24 Tri-Tour LED PARS, 20 I-Pix BB4 LED Wash-lights and 53 Longman Colorme 011A Strip-lights.

Control of the entire lighting system was done on MA Lighting’s GrandMA System, which comprised two GMA1 full-size consoles, two video processing servers, two network signal processors and two network switches. The conceptualisation of the design process, including refinement to the final design, took about two weeks. Two pantech trucks transported lighting and a trussing rig to the site. The absence of a big loading bay at the site proved a big challenge, according to Tsiane.

Sound

FOH engineer Remember Chaitezvi, system engineer Moffat Matolong, audio technician Sandile Pooe and radio technician Kelvin Egbegi were in charge of sound. The sound system comprised six L-Acoustic dv-DOSC and two L’acoustics dv subs per side, amplified by L’acoustics LA8 and LA48. Crossovers were XTA 4- series and the low end was enhanced by eight JBL VRX 900 subs on the ground, powered by Crown Itech 4000. To minimise audio-bleed onto the stage, the main system was flown left and right of the centre stage. The space between main stage and centre stage was covered by four flown L’acoustics HIQ115 and planning of the system was done using L’acoustics simulation software. Microphones were all wireless; Shure UR series equipped with Beta58 heads.

Additional ground–stacked subs were hidden behind the structure for the delay screens and used mainly as effects speakers to enhance low frequencies. Monitoring for the centre stage consisted of four Clair Brothers 12AM monitors placed on plinths about three to four metres away from the stage to keep them out of the camera picture.

At the main stage five JBL EONS 510 were flown as monitoring for dancers. Chaitezvi used a Yamaha M7/48 FOH desk, which also supplied the sends for the monitors, as the set design did not allow for a separate monitor console. With touch screen and logical layout, the M7 was well equipped for this show, as Chaitezvi could work fast and efficiently as well as store all his settings per sequence of the show in scenes. Its ability to be controlled wirelessly via Mac Book PRO and iPAD was used while walking around the venue, applying EQ to the system as well as changing settings to the monitors while talking to artists on stage.

Video

Graham Sharpe, who was in charge of all the AV screens, says: “The centre screen was a 12 by 8 Lighthouse DuoLED 18 that had a 10 by 5 Lighthouse DuoLED 12 insert.” This screen delivered a series of eye candy visuals (from the MA servers), while the side Lighthouse R16s carried camera and nominee packages supplied by Daniel Black. There were also two rear 16x9 Stumpfl projection screens showing onstage visuals. Two Christie 18k HD projectors were used to beam content to these screens. The main control system for the screens was a Christie Spyder X20, which received 1 SDI input from the SABC OB truck and two inputs from the MA Servers. The SDI input had cameras and video from the EVS machines in the OB truck.

Tech box

LIGHTING 

  • Two GMA1 full-size consoles
  • 29 Robe ColorSpot 700E Spots, 
  • 33 Robe ColorWash 700E Washes, 
  • 26 Robe RED washes, 
  • 16, Robe ROBIN 300E Spots, 
  • 9 Robe ROBIN 300E Washes
  • 24 Tri-Tour LED PARS, 
  • 20 I-Pix BB4 LED Wash-lights, 
  • 53 Longman Colorme 011A Strip-lights
  • 12 Strand 2Kw Fresnels
  • 28 Selecon Pacific 14-35 Deg. Profiles, 
  • 16 Selecon Pacific 12-28 Deg. Profiles, 
  • 18 Bars of 6 x PAR64s

AUDIO

  • L-Acoustic dv-DOSC, L’acoustics dv sub, amplified by L’acoustics LA8 and LA48. 
  • Eight JBL VRX 900 Subs
  • Crown Itech4000
  • L’acoustics HIQ115   
  • L’acoustics simulation software
  • Clair Brothers12AM monitors
  • Five JBL EONS 510
  • FOH desk: Yamaha M7/48

Story reprinted courtesy Pro-Systems Magazine - Photo Clive Morris Productions

May 17, 2012

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