The first Virtual Showlight event, which was held on Tuesday 25 May 2021, proved to be a real success story. With the full Showlight postponed due to the pandemic, VSL 2021 turned trial into triumph when it threw open its virtual doors to an online audience in excess of 430 delegates. Students, educational establishments, venues and, of course, lighting designers from all genres of the industry – theatre, film and TV, architectural and events, and more – attended from almost 50 countries, and many have since returned to re-watch the Papers through Hubilo’s On Demand service.
Delegates were treated to a diverse range of subject matters from industry professionals at the top of their game. Topics included the illumination of a lighthouse on an island in the Bahamas, lighting a comic book movie, the remote lighting of a stage musical from half way around the globe, transforming a shipyard into an art gallery, and taking a spin on the Strictly Come Dancing dance floor. Hamish Jenkinson, Mike Bauman, Ken Billington, Aaron Porter, Rob Halliday, Isabel Nielen, Floriaan Ganzevoort and Mike Evers, and David Bishop all delivered their papers with a wealth of knowledge, humour, imagery and video footage.
The panel discussion on the subject of diversity in the industry, chaired by Paule Constable, gave voice to young people who gave inspiring insights into their journeys into lighting, their plans to raise awareness going forward and the importance of free communication between colleagues to aid mutual understanding. Delegates responded en masse to the informative, positive nature of the discussion of this very important subject, with one claiming it to be ‘probably the best panel discussion ever, globally, in the lighting industry.’
The Papers programme was interspersed with a series of Video Shorts – surprise pre-recorded bonus features – that tantalised the lighting tastebuds, with some giving a snapshot of papers that will be on offer when the full Showlight returns – hopefully in 2022.
In Bohemian Rhapsody – What Happened to the Green…? Tony Simpson, lighting designer for theatre, opera, fashion, live events and feature film, gave an insight into the changes that can be made very quickly for stage and concert lighting within a feature film when trying to satisfy the differing demands of the creative team.
For Lighting a Virtual Production – The New Techniques Used to Light a World-First CGI Show, Ryan Metcalfe, producer of Romeo & Juliet and Managing Director of Preevue, and lighting designer, Elliot Smith, gave a glimpse behind the virtual curtain at how this award-winning show was lit. Shot entirely on green screen, with the cast placed onstage in a fully virtual space in post-production, Smith’s job was to blend virtual and real lighting.
Jules Fisher + Peggy Eisenhauer, lighting design partners at Third Eye, Razzle Dazzled viewers with their discussion of the integration of theatrical and film lighting within the movie Chicago. Italian lighting designer, Marco Miglioli, talked about Bringing Theatricality to Architectural Lighting, illustrating his talk with some stunning imagery of the artworks and architecture he has lit. And lighting director and Showlight favourite, Bill Klages shared his Favourite Moment in Lighting with a dreamy sequence from America’s TV special Dance in America, first shown in 1984, and featuring Mikhail Baryshnikov and a single key light.
The remainder of the day was given to networking in the sponsor breakout rooms and social lounges where delegates and manufacturers could meet and discuss products and concepts.
For those who missed some of these gems or were unable to attend the day, all Virtual Showlight papers, the panel discussion and Video Shorts will be available to view on the Hubilo platform at https://vsl21.hubilo.com until the end of June (sign in with your registration code), and on the Showlight website thereafter. Like Virtual Showlight, viewing is free of charge, but donations to industry charities Backup and Behind the Scenes are encouraged via the Showlight JustGiving Page at http://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/virtualshowlight21 which will also remain open until the end of June.
At the end of the evening, the chairman, John Allen, expressed his thanks to all those involved in creating and attending the first Virtual Showlight and to those who donated to the industry charities, Backup and Behind the Scenes. The total reached is now nearly £1,500. He added that this was an experiment that worked extremely well and thanked Amanda Murray and her team at MaxLive Events for all their help and guidance with the technical presentation.
In summing up he said, ‘Without doubt we have proved that screening papers on the internet, with the option of watching again at a convenient time after the initial screening, has been a success. We now need to take this development on board as we plan for our next Showlight which we desperately hope will go ahead in Fontainebleau in 2022.’
Virtual Showlight has been brilliantly supported by its generous sponsors whose donations have enabled Showlight to cover the cost of this virtual event, allowing the maximum of delegate donations to go direct to the charities. Robert Juliat is the headline sponsor, and is joined by Ayrton, ACT Lighting, Inc., Altman, ARRI, Claypaky, Copper Candle, ETC, GLP, Robe, Vari-lite/Strand and Vectorworks. Virtual Showlight is also supported by media partner, LSi, and by LSA and PLASA.