School rocks with Robe RoboSpots
Friday, 20 January 2023
robe-school-of-rockThe stage was designed with a 270-degree viewing angle (photo: Courtesy Great Big Events)
Australia - Sydney Catholic Schools presented four special performances of School of Rock - The Musical in an arena spectacular based on the original Broadway show and staged at the 16,000-capacity Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney, Australia.
Lighting designer Mark Hammer created the lighting design and found an ingenious Robe RoboSpot solution for his extensive follow spotting needs. Mark worked under the direction of Great Big Events, who produced the show on behalf of Sydney Catholic Schools.
The stage was designed with a 270-degree viewing angle, complete with a full choir at the back for some sections of the show, and a prominent ‘B’ stage in the middle of the arena floor for ‘rock out’ moments, so Mark needed multiple follow spots.
He thought it was a perfect time and scenario to specify four Robe RoboSpot systems to run 12 x BMFL FollowSpot moving lights.
The 12 x BMFL FollowSpots were paired with four RoboSpot BaseStations each running three fixtures, all supplied by Sydney based lighting vendors, Chameleon Touring Systems, and Mark was delighted with the results.
He often uses Robe products on his shows, but this was the first time he had spec’d the remote follow system, although he admits to being impressed with it since one of the early Australian demo sessions presented by distributor Jands back in 2018.
“Follow spotting was vital to this show and with a 19 / 20m trim height I needed really bright units – and lots of them – so this was a ‘must-have’ on the lighting plot,” he explained.
Using RoboSpots was not only “significantly easier” for Mark operationally than calling 12 individual manually operated follow spots, but it was also quicker and more practical for the Chameleon crew to rig the 12 x BMFL fixtures and set up the four base stations which were backstage to the rear of one of the arena’s vomitory entrances.
The BMFLs were all front spots, positioned on the ends and at the centre of the advanced truss which was above the audience just in front of the downstage edge of the main stage.
This allowed Mark to track the principals from multiple angles wherever they were as they moved around the stage and out in the arena to the B-stage. Having three spots on each person eliminated facial shadows and brought a palpable depth and precision to the lighting that made the actor’s pop out beautifully from all the background action, glowing and resonating in the high quality BMFL light output.
Mark retained overall intensity and colour control from the main lighting console with the RoboSpot operators taking care of the pan, tilt, zoom and iris parameters from their BaseStations.
“RoboSpot met my expectations and in fact went way beyond,” noted Mark. “Many creative things are unlocked by using this system that simply aren’t possible when dealing with one flat beam of light.”

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