It was all about glitz and glam in Robbie Williams’ “Swing Both Ways Tour’ which ran from May to September 2014. The stage design is theatrical and the lighting design, by Mark Cunniffe, is the perfect accompaniment to an inspired stage design and features a substantial rig by Harman’s Martin Professional, which is also the first major outing for lighting supplier Neg Earth’s, in the UK, new stock of MAC Quantum wash.

Martin Professional spoke to lighting designer, Mark Cunniffe, Neg Earth MD, Dave Ridgway and project manager Caroline Beverley to hear about the lighting design process and their experiences working with MAC Quantum for this major production.

Cunniffe worked closely with set designer, Ric Lipson from Stufish. Based on Lipson’s initial stage design concept, Cunniffe designed the lighting. He also provided suggestions for additional stage elements, such as the chandeliers “floating’ above the stage, which became a major feature of the show and have received a lot of attention.

Cunniffe started plying his trade over 20 years ago and has witnessed many advances in lighting fixture design. The rise in LED products requiring less power has allowed him to continue to develop his art in an increasingly eco-friendly way. “I find that Martin’s new MAC Quantum wash provides me with a very good theatrical unit,’ says Cunniffe. “I was lucky enough to get a glimpse of it last year and was totally blown away by its brightness and its coloir quality.’

Initially Cunniffe thought that he would need Quantums both on the top and bottom of the 90-foot x 55-foot Austrian drape, but soon realised that the MAC Quantum was sufficiently bright and its beam sufficiently even to light up the whole drape from top to bottom. Another pleasant surprise was how straightforward it was to match the color of the MAC Auras to the new Quantums for the stage elements.

“We thought there would definitely be a discrepancy because of the age difference in the fixtures,’ says Cunniffe. “We use a pallet of around 30 colours – very few pastels and a lot saturated and secondary colours. It didn’t take much programming and the colour match between all of the units was excellent.’

“The original idea was to use MAC Auras to light the Austrian drape,’ says Ridgway. “They would have done a good job, but we would have needed more of them. The MAC Quantum is a different sort of light; its wider and more powerful, and it looks great.’

The Tripix range was also deployed in great numbers on the tour. Although essentially an outdoor architectural fixture, it did extremely well on the semi-circular walkway. Initially, Cunniffe wanted to use them solely to get some soft light shining up on Robbie when he took to this part of the stage. “It worked so well that it turned into a stand-alone scenic element of the show, which is also why we saved it for the second act. It wasn’t just functional; it was absolutely faultless in an entertainment environment.’

The design process concluded with a three week rehearsal period to test and adjust the stage and lighting design. “Rehearsals can be the most tricky period and the units aren’t necessarily designed to be on for 100 hours straight, but the MAC Quantums performed as well as we could have hoped and overall we are very happy with the quality,’ Beverly says.