GLP Bars create Blinding Lights on The Edge
Wednesday, 6 January 2021
weekndThe Weeknd on The Edge
USA - Canadian singer producer, The Weeknd, was one of a number of artists performing at unusual outdoor settings in Manhattan to mark the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards.
His designated location was the rooftop of the new Edge observation deck at Hudsons Yard, 387m high, and consequently the highest in the Western Hemisphere. This presented challenges for lighting designer LeRoy Bennett and his long-serving collaborator, Jason Baeri; but with the help of GLP’s X4 Bar 20s, The Weeknd gave a dynamic rendering of Blinding Lights, the song which earned him gongs for Best R&B Video & Video of the Year.
Bennett worked closely with La Mar Taylor, The Weeknd’s creative director, to come up with the concept. GLP’s award-winning battens not only lit the stage platform but also lined the perimeter of the building’s triangular balcony architecturally. Wearing his signature red suit, black gloves and the bloodied face featured on the After Hours cover, the staging was in stark contrast to other artist sets featured on the show. “Where most relied on XR technology, [our concept] used no special effects; there was nothing virtual, it was all real.” But it had been an intense shoot.
As for the deployment of the X4 Bars, he said, “I liked the idea of a linear light and the X4 Bars were used to outline and define the space itself, to accommodate the helicopter shots from above. They also worked really well as keylights.”
Everything was run in white, with extreme brightness due to the nature of the event. “We created a sheet of white light, which did accents and beams, to enable [the effect] to read to camera through the smoke. We didn’t go crazy with the functions.”
But being virtual guinea pigs for this new location threw up issues of power requirements, and the weather variables. As the man on site, it was left to Jason Baeri to deal with the logistics, knowing that the licence to shoot the fireworks had only been granted for the second of the two designated nights, which is when the storms hit.
Baeri, who directed the show from a rover on the deck itself, took it all in his stride. “No one had worked on the Edge platform before as it was only opened for the first time a week or so after our shoot. Like most architectural non-performance spaces, you have specific considerations to not damage the space, but they were extremely accommodating.”
In this respect he also paid credit to Lauren Quinn in the process. “She is a brilliant director so there was never a shot that we had to adjust from a lighting perspective because of camera placement.”
As for the X4 Bars, they were run in 88ch mode from a grandMA2. “We had them in pixel mode and they had sweeps/wipes going on, but their strength in this particular performance was really as an architectural element.” He agreed that with regard to the helicopter shots, “the fact that we were in the air wouldn’t have been as striking if [the Bars] hadn’t been there.”

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