Elation lights Dancing with the Stars
Wednesday, 14 October 2020
dancing-with-the-starsseason-2922This year’s Season 29 premiered on 14 September with Elation fixtures again a key component (photo: Hunter Selby)
USA - Tom Sutherland was back on the set of Dancing with the Stars recently, lighting his second season of the American reality dance competition for the ABC network. Lead designer at DX7 Design, Sutherland, who used Elation lighting on last season’s show, again turned to Elation fixtures to light the myriad of dances while finding a visual solution to fill empty audience space.
“There were some challenges this year as there was no audience, which usually plays a big role in the show. Nobody, especially in television, likes black holes,” said Sutherland. “When you have an expensive set that looks like a million dollars, you don’t want to sacrifice that by a few dodgy shots. With HD cameras and 360-degree looks we have to make sure we have all our bases covered.”
Dead space on the set was something Sutherland was especially wary of when lighting this year’s shows. How could he fill the blank space and still achieve the kind of drama you would have with an audience present? “We did that by adding more lighting and extra video screens,” he said, “and a good chunk of that extra lighting was from Elation.”
Filmed at CBS Television City in Los Angeles, the drama and glitz of Dancing with the Stars has kept fans coming back year after year since its debut in 2005. This year’s Season 29 premiered on 14 September with Elation fixtures again a key component, including DARTZ 360 LED moving heads, and new to this year’s set, ZCL 360i and SixBar 1000 luminaires. Lighting vendor for Dancing with the Stars is Felix Lighting.
Sutherland says they started this year’s design work by looking to see how many black hole positions there were to fill in the studio and how they could best do that. “That meant we needed to find fixtures that were going to fill those blank spaces while giving me lots of flexibility through an 11-week season. I needed fixtures I could vary up and produce different looks with, fixtures that could be subtle and pretty if we needed them to be, but also give us the drama and tension in the moments where we needed that.
“We did 150 performances on this stage last year and another 150 performances this year so I’m a great fan of having lights that have a lot in the barrel so to speak.”
Sutherland looked at filling all of the floor seating space with Elation’s tiny ZCL 360i, a single beam RGBW moving effect with zoom and continuous 360° rotation. He lined three rows of fixtures along the dancefloor, 90 fixtures total, to create a runway of lights left and right of the stage for nice camera looks.
The LD used Elation’s DARTZ 360 beam/spot LED moving head as a principal luminaire in an immersive 360-degree lighting environment. This year, he upped their number, using 104 in his design for soft looks that blend with the set before coming to life for dance performances.
Another Elation fixture new to this year’s show is the SixBar 1000 with 110 of the meter-long six-colour LED battens used for expanded colour and sparkle. The SixBars fill the void where the audience normally sits, frame the judges’ close up shot, and occupy the gaps between the added LED screens, including on the middle balcony where contestants wait.

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