Athletic competition thrives on the element of surprise. The race won by a dark horse that comes out of nowhere; the victory achieved against all odds by an unlikely hero; and similar turns of events all etch themselves in the memories of fans as some of the greatest moments in sports.
Volleyball fans at the Euromillions Cup Finals witnessed such moments this year, as underdog Caruur Volley GENT, which had never been in the finals before, upset perennial power Lindemans AALST 3-1. The results were just as startling in the women’s division where heavily favored VDK Bank GENT Damesvolley, which had not lost a single game in Belgium this season, was upended by VC OUDEGEM.
Off the court there was another surprise, one which delighted all fans in attendance at the Antwerp’s Sportpalies, even those of the losing teams, as Bart Aelbrecht and his colleagues at AB Sound along with LD Dieter Jacops unveiled a sleek, new geometric inspired lighting design for pre-and-post-game activities. Anchored by a dramatic cubic structure over the center of the court, the lighting concept was emblematic of a new spirit for the tournament, which welcomed fans back after a COVID caused one year hiatus.
The design team used over 150 CHAUVET Professional fixtures from AB Sound’s own inventory to create the new look. This collection included 16 Maverick Force 1 Spots, eight Maverick MK3 Washes, 24 Rogue Outcast 1 BeamWashes, 40 Rogue R1 Washes, eight STRIKE Array 2 blinders, 24 WELL Panels, 12 Nexus Aq 5×5 units, and four Nexus Aw7x7 fixtures.
In contrast to previous (pre-pandemic) years, when the stage was placed at the back of the hall, putting considerable distance between it and most of the audience, the design team moved the ceremonies to center court below the large cubic structure, providing more people with better viewing angles.
The design team also created a greater sense of immersion for the audience through the use of textured light. Harnessing the gobo effects and the impressive zoom capabilities of the Maverick Force 1 Spot, they projected crisp gobo patterns to whip up visual energy during the inter-match performances, quickly dissipating into the audience areas during matches to create the effect of a fluid, seamless space which appeared to be, for all intents and purposes, devoid of boundaries.
Drawing upon their wealth of experience lighting concerts in similar sized arenas, the team at AB Sound were keenly aware of the sensory effect of rich, vibrant colours in engendering a sense of cohesion within a space. Positioned from the lattice of trussing surrounding the LED video cube, the combination of Rogue Outcast 1 BeamWash and Maverick MK3 Wash fixtures helped to envelop the audience in swathes of vivid, saturated colour, heightening the visual intensity within the stadium during the dance performances between matches.
Although the team utilized a wide variety of colours to conjure up various atmospheres for various activities they continually returned to a shade of deep blue to reflect and reinforce the branding of the Euromillions Cup Finals.
“The CRI of the Maverick Mk3 Wash fixtures, in particular, were excellent in helping us relay the deep blue colours for the live online broadcast,” said Aelbrecht. “This proved to be particularly important during the awards ceremony, when both Caruur Volley Gent and VC Oudegem received their winners trophies in front of the audience.”
To add an additional element of theatricality to the spectacle, the design team incorporated the entrance/exit tunnel of the players into their overall design narrative. Giving both fans and players an immersive energy boost, the Well Panels illuminated competitors as they entered and left the playing area. As this happened the STRIKE Array 2 fixtures cast a warm backlit glow that produced a highly cinematic effect.
“This year, both the players and the fans loved the production within the stadium,” said Aelbrecht, noting that the most common reaction was “pleasant surprise” when people first encountered the new look. And as every fan knows, “surprise” is one of the most enjoyable things about a sports competition, even when it takes place off the court in the form of a bold lighting design that breaks with precedent.