The Emmy-award winning TV show Red Dwarf made a welcome return to UK
screens last month for its 11th series. Delighting its dedicated fanbase, the latest
run of the sci-fi comedy includes the addition of numerous guest sets, and features
a striking collection of lighting effects, thanks to some impressive programming by
Ziggy Jacobs-Wyburn on an ETC Cobalt control desk.

Red Dwarf’s Director of Photography, Ed Moore, encountered Jacobs-Wyburn at the
PLASA Show 2015, where she was demonstrating a Cobalt lighting desk. Moore was
keen to maximise the potential of the recently upgraded lighting control systems at
Pinewood Studios, which included ETC Cobalt and Congo jr consoles. In turn, Jacobs-
Wyburn was invited to join the team for the two new series that were about to
begin filming.

In line with broadcaster UKTV’s commitment to the BAFTA albert consortium
sustainability group, energy efficient LED lighting played a key role in the
production. It was soon apparent that Jacobs-Wyburn was able to do much more
than anticipated, both with LED technology and the Cobalt desk, and the production
team was blown away. She demonstrated how simple it was to generate a lot of
dynamism and movement in the lighting, and assisted with the creation of a
plethora of effects, including fire flickering, alerts, sirens and general “space-
related stuff’.

Storing and recalling moving light information was also a breeze for Cobalt.
“Consistency of looks is always a big deal on a series, and especially here where
we were filming back-to-back. With a load of spots spinning gobos and LED pixel
fixtures, as well as DMX LED props, in addition to all of the normal generics, I had a
lot of moving parts to keep track of on the desk. The device and effect organisation
on Cobalt really makes that possible, and I was able to store them for completely
consistent playback. For example, once I’d recorded a fire flicker one way, I could
easily replicate it for filming the same scene again the next day, or for a live
audience filming at a later date, and be using it in a completely different way in the
next moment.’

For the studio audience recordings, where pre-recorded scenes were interspersed
with live action, one particular feature was indispensable. “The Cobalt allows you to
stack up pre-sets in whatever order you want, and reuse them anytime you want,’
says Jacobs-Wyburn. “I had recorded all the scenes and states in banks of 100 pre-
sets [episode one was in the 100s, episode two in the 200s, and so on] as they
were filmed. This meant I could quickly reassemble the pre-sets in the required
order, and insert a playback cue to bring the lights down on the audience when
needed. Every day, I had to stack things up out of order, something I wouldn’t be
able to do on another console. ‘