Going Mega for Israel 70 Independence Day
Tuesday, 8 May 2018
The 2018 Israeli Independence Day (Yom Ha'atzmaut) opening ceremony on Mount Herzl (photo: Louise Stickland)
Israel - Ronen Najar is a lighting designer used to working under some pressure, and for the 2018 Israeli Independence Day (Yom Ha'atzmaut) opening ceremony on Mount Herzl, Jerusalem, he needed those steely nerves as part of the creative team helping to commemorate a historically significant moment in Israel’s history, the 70th anniversary of the 1948 Declaration of Independence.
Ronen chose to use 55 x Robe MegaPointes and 68 x BMFLs - a combination of Spots and WashBeams - to illuminate the vast performance area built around the tomb of Theador Herzl, founder of modern political Zionism, at the top of the Mount of Remembrance, the site of Israel’s national cemetery and a resting place for the country’s war dead.
The event is organised by the Culture Ministry and broadcast live on all Israeli TV channels.
It’s also attended by an invited audience of 7,500 who this year saw a cast of 1,500 perform a specially devised show directed by Ran Zahor. This was a mixture of official ceremonial elements - including the lighting of 12 torches to represent the 12 tribes of Israel and an address by Yuli-Yoel Edelstein, Speaker of the Knesset - inter-spliced with a high energy entertainment spectacle.
“It is always a great honour to work on this show,” were Ronen’s first comments on the event, which he has lit for the last 10 years. This year, additional budget was made available in view of the 70-year landmark which was ploughed into creating a landmark show.
The set design by Nitzan Refaely was the first visual element to be finalised. This year it comprised a large structure incorporating the tomb in the centre towards the front. Behind this a slope with a walkway was created and covered in projection screen material, brought alive by images from 15 x 25K Epson laser projectors.
The rear of the structure was rigged with multiple LED screens, and there were also projections across the massive field-of-play area.
Ronen designed his lighting rig and chose fixtures taking on-board all these parameters together with what was needed to achieve his imaginative goals and communicate the emotion of the occasion to the audiences.
The MegaPointes were all positioned on the stage set and used for high impact back lighting and high clarity gobo projections skimming the floor and stunning aerial effects blasting up into the night sky.
The BMFL Spots and BMFL WashBeams were deployed across all the other lighting positions and were used for multiple tasks, from key lighting for the speeches and torch-bearers, the military parade sections of the show, to washing the performance area with rich colours, some secondary gobo projections and for specials and highlighting specific sections throughout the performance.
Ronen worked intensely with two assistant LDs, Jonathan Frixo and Matti Murray and they used a grandMA2 platform, Ronen’s choice as the most flexible and stable control solution.
In addition to the Robes, he used some other moving lights and a selection of carefully positioned generics.
The event’s camera director was Amir Ukrainitz and the playback video content was produced by Shay Bonder. Video and projection was supplied by ScreenLight and AVS respectively, the stage set was built by Bimot 88 and the rigging contractors were Gader Vagan.
(Jim Evans)

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