On Friday April 2nd, World Autism Awareness Day, the ‘Dreaming Hearts’ livestream event was broadcast from the historic Kourion Ancient Theatre on the island of Cyprus.
Organized by local event and production company Sound & Vision By DJ Nick, the hour-long broadcast featured short, high-impact sets from four local DJs performed in front of an epic backdrop. More than 70 high-tech ADJ lighting and atmospheric fixtures were positioned around the theatre, which has stood on the site for more than 2000 years, creating a unique juxtaposition between the old and the new.
Based in the city of Limassol, Sound & Vision by DJ Nick has over 30 years of experience in the AV industry, having served customers on Cyprus since 1989. It provides technical production, as well as organization and entertainment services, for events of all sizes, ranging from small family and corporate parties up to largescale open-air concerts and dance festivals. The company has relied on ADJ exclusively for all its lighting equipment for several years and has built up an extensive rental stock of ADJ fixtures.
The idea for the Dreaming Hearts event came from DJ Nick himself, who has a passion for increasing awareness about autism and wanted to help raise much-needed funds for the Cyprus Autism Association. To ensure that the livestream was as visually stunning as possible, Nick and his team approached the Cyprus Department of Antiquities for permission to film in the Kourion Ancient Theatre, which was granted free of charge due to the charitable nature of the project. This impressive stone-built, open-air theatre is a stunning location with a rich cultural heritage.
“The venue is used for lots of live concerts by famous performers from around Cyprus and Greece,” explains Dimitris Nicolaou, the lighting designer for the project. “But the audience usually sits on the ancient stone tiered seating, looking towards the stage which has the sea as its backdrop. Since we wouldn’t have an audience, my first idea was to reverse this and allow people to see the historic venue in a way they have never seen it before. We positioned the DJ in the center of the main floor, with the control position where the stage would normally be, and then used the tiered seats both as a backdrop and as a canvas for the lighting.”
Dimitris’ design involved positioning four lines of Vizi Beam 5RX moving heads spread across the arc of the tiered seating. Each line comprised four fixtures, which were spaced equally, starting a few rows from the front and ending on the very back row. This allowed for the creation of impressive aerial effects involving piercing beams that shot up into the night sky and also down to the DJ booth – an ADJ Pro Event Table – positioned in the center of the theatre’s ground floor.
In the very center of the curve of tiered seating, directly behind the DJ position, Dimitris added a line of seven UB 9H linear LED fixtures
These were then flanked, between the lines of moving heads, by two lines of seven 12PX HEX LED pars. These static fixtures not only provided rear color washing but were also used for a variety of color chase effects throughout the broadcast. When all illuminated at the same time, they gave the impression of airport landing lights, an effect that was very effectively captured using drone footage at the beginning of the live stream.
Down on the main floor of the theatre, a semicircular arrangement of eight Vizi Beam RXONE moving heads was placed at the bottom of the tiered seating, fanned out behind the DJ position. These unobtrusively small, but impressively powerful, fixtures were used to generate additional mid-air beam effects, as well as to create aerial texture through extensive use of their rotating prism feature.
“I personally love the RXONE,” states Dimitris. “First of all because it is ultra-light, weighing just 9.2kgs (20lbs.). Secondly, for a lighting fixture rated at just 100-Watts, it has a very good light output, even when throwing over long distances. Finally, I particularly love the 16-facet prism, which creates really nice slices of light. That’s why I chose to position them on the floor for this event, as we could capture the beam effects shooting up behind the DJs.”
In addition, COB Cannon Wash fixtures were placed between each adjacent pair of RXONEs. Each of these potent units is equipped with an advanced 150-watt RGBA COB LED, capable of offering incredibly smooth color mixing. They were positioned facing in toward the DJ booth such that they were able, thanks to their wide beam angle, to illuminate the whole of the textured stone floor of the theatre while also providing backlight for the performers.
“The COB Cannon Wash is a powerful and versatile wash fixture,” comments Dimitris. “It offers very nice color mixing with no color shades thanks to its single COB LED source and has a very wide 80-degree beam angle. That made it perfect for this project, where I wanted to cover a large area of the stone floor and also backlight the DJs using just a few fixtures. But I also like that they come supplied with 40- and 50-degree lens options, which is useful when I want to concentrate the output. It means that I can use them for almost any situation where I want to wash or up-light something.”
Key light, to ensure that the DJs could be clearly captured by the cameras, was provided by a pair of Encore FR150Z LED-powered Fresnel fixtures, positioned on tripods offset to either side of the DJ booth. Meanwhile, a single Inno Spot Elite moving head was positioned directly behind the DJ position to serve as a rear spotlight.
The final aspect of Dimitris’ lighting design was to augment the beam moving heads spread throughout the theatre with wash and hybrid fixtures rigged on T-bar stands positioned on the concourse that runs around the top of the tiered seating
Raised up to a height of 2.4-meters (approximately 8-feet), these stands were used to accommodate four Vizi Wash Z19 moving head wash fixtures. Zoomed out to their widest beam angle of 60-degrees, these four units were capable of filling the entire theater with vibrant washes of color. In addition, the stands were also used to support six Vizi Hybrid 16RX moving head fixtures, which were used primarily on this project for projecting GOBO patterns on to the tiered seating and main floor of the theatre.
“The Vizi Beam 16RX is a pretty amazing fixture,” says Dimitris, “which we’ve being using for the last four years now. It’s powered by a 330W Philips discharge lamp, but the output seems much more than that. With a beam angle of between 3- and 32-degrees, it is a true hybrid fixture that is amazingly versatile. Everyone was really amazed by the effects we were able to create by using them to project GOBOs down onto the tiered seating and floor of the stage. Using only six fixtures, we were able to cover the entire venue, with no gaps. I experimented with the placement of the fixtures in Capture beforehand, so that we got them in just the right place. The results looked incredible in the drone footage shot from above, the clarity of the GOBOs was particularly impressive. For fun, before we started filming, we also used them to project onto a mountain that was 400 meters (1/4 mile) away. It looked amazing and, even at that distance, I was able to use the motorized focus to make the projections nice and crisp. This really highlighted both how powerful the fixture is and the quality of its optics.”
ADJ atmospheric fixtures were also used for the shoot. A pair of Entourage touring grade ‘faze’ machines, which use water-based fog fluid dispersed by high power fans to create a large amount of evenly distributed fog, were positioned at either side of the theatre floor. Despite the windy conditions on the day of the shoot, these were able to consistently fill the performance space with an even lightshow-enhancing mist. In addition, a pair of Fog Fury Jett Pro LED-lit, high-power vertical fog machines loaded with F4LD QD quick-dissipating fog fluid, were positioned at either side of the DJ booth to create high-impact effects.
“We used the Fog Fury Jett Pros with quick-dissipating fluid to create CO2-style effects for music drops and intros. The wind was extremely strong on the day of filming, but the pumps in those machines are so powerful that they were still able to create a good effect. I also like the fact that I can use them horizontally, as well as vertically, which means they fit all my needs for all kinds of occasions.”
Since the team only had access to the venue on the day of the shoot, Dimitris made extensive use of the Capture visualization software. He not only used Capture to plot and program the lighting, but also shared his finished pre-visualizations with the videographers so that they knew in advance which shots would best capture key moments within the show. This meant that the whole team was able to maximize the limited time they had on site after sunset to create stunning video content.
The result was a livestream that combined a histrionic setting with an incredible lightshow and great music. It engaged a large audience when it was originally broadcast, both online and via local radio station MIX FM, and is still available to watch on YouTube for those who missed the livestream. A substantial amount has already been raised for the Cyprus Autism Association, while donations are still being collected until the end of the month.