DJ, music producer and creative live experience imitator Michael Canitrot presented another innovative ‘Monumental’ show, this time in front of the incredible Cathedral Notre-Dame of Laon in the city of Aisne in the Hauts-de-France region of France.
A special musical performance was created for this magical event which was presented in collaboration with design collective AV-Extended led by Jérémie Bellot, featuring a giant video mapped projection show onto the front of the Cathedral’s imposing 56m-high façade, supported by a light show designed by Mikael “Mika” Trochu utilising 56 x Robe moving lights.
This followed Michael Canitrot’s 2021 Monumental Tour, a series of unique site-specific performances staged at some of the most spectacular heritage landmarks and monuments around France.
Robe FORTEs and MegaPointes were chosen for their power, brightness, and impact as well as their dynamic feature sets, and were located all around the front of building on the ground and on a balcony at approximately 50 metres up the front of the building.
They were used highly effectively to create multi-layered effects on the Cathedral, including the two main façade towers that overlooking Laon old town, and also to shoot striking and potent beams into the skies.
At the front of the building, either side of the stage, seven MegaPointes were deployed on the garden side with more on the courtyard side. Lined up adjacent to one other on special platforms, they highlight and texture the Cathedral walls including the arch ceilings of the two large, recessed side doors. On the front balcony, 15 MegaPointes were deployed and used for colouring the top half of the façade, the back walls under the higher up arches, and to blast piercing beam effects towards the city, cutting through the night skies.
This was a painstaking and laborious task in terms of rigging. The technical teams had to access the balcony and manually carry each individual fixture via a network of narrow, twisting staircases up to the first-floor level, and beyond that for the MegaPointes that were positioned even further up in the two towers.
Five MegaPointes a side were positioned inside the top of both the Cathedral towers at elevation of 20 metres above the balcony. These were used to illuminate the underside of the tower vaulted ceilings which added depth and volume to the video mapping in this area and indeed to the whole picture.
Mika deployed three FORTES inside the Cathedral, one central to illuminate the main rose window flanked by the other two left and right to back-light the two lancet windows of the facade. Another 8 x FORTES were positioned at the back of the forecourt behind the audience at the control room level for key-lighting the artist and for picking out specific façade details like the magnificent huge central rose window.
Mika explained that the power of the FORTEs allowed him to “texture the Cathedral's facade both during the quiet moments as well as make major statements during the intense moments” of the narrative. One idea with the lighting design was to be able to fragment and "cut" the façade vertically to create an illusion of parts disappearing or being removed from the overall picture thanks to the strong contrast between the lit and unlit areas.
The accuracy and flatness of the FORTE shutters when 100% open and zoomed simply blew me away, Mika stated.
He thinks that no other light would have offered better functionality in these two areas – power and shutter linearity/accuracy. Mika also appreciated the gobo and effects wheels, describing these as “incredible”, enabling him to produce spectacular effects during segments of the music that needed super-punchy lighting treatments.
He used a grandMA2 console for programming and running lighting, and all the lighting equipment was supplied by BDL Event group. The get-in was completed over two days by a crew of 8 for lighting, video, audio and power including Jérémie Bellot from AV-Extended and technical director Martin Javouret. They worked with a local crew of 8 x stagehands.
This unique musical and visual show on Laon Cathedral was experienced live by over 2,500 spectators gathered in the square in front. Built in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, this seminal heritage site is one of the most important and stylistically unified examples of early French Gothic architecture.
The Monumental Tour is an incredible journey that germinated from Michael Canitrot’s love of music and monumental architecture and started during the Covid lockdown period, combining streamed live music performances and visual collaborations involving epic, iconic and outstanding monumental sites all around France. It started back in the summer of 2021 at the Phare des Baleines (Lighthouse of the Whales) on the Ile de Ré, and the previous show to this one at Laon Cathedral – with lighting also designed by Mikael Trochu (Mika) – was at the Chateau de Pierrefonds in the picturesque Oise region. All these Monumental performances have involved the use of Robe moving lights.