Sonalyst became the latest UK technical production and rental specialist to invest in Robe’s new BMFL Spots, which were specified by lighting designer Richard G Jones for the reality TV show Strictly Live arena tour produced by Phil McIntyre Entertainment.

It is always a challenge to light each of the dancing couples because each of them needs a series of different and dramatic looks for their dances, while the whole space also has to have that air of dancehall intimacy. Flexibility is key when it comes to choosing fixtures, says Jones.

“The decision to go with BMFL on the creative front was mainly due to the intensity and the zoom. On the practical side, it enabled a reduction in the amount of kit needed and consequently the weight loadings, which always keeps production happy. This year there were also more full production numbers in the show. I worked closely with production manager Andy Gibbs who originated the set design which included the multiple dance floors, Austrian drapes, chandeliers and 14 prominently placed mirror balls which no self-respecting Strictly production would be without.”

This year they replaced 54 x ColorSpot 2500E ATs – all of which had been utilised to create the gobo looks across the 25 x 45 metre dance floor area with 24 of the 40 total BMFL Spots and the results were stunningly bright, powerful and sharp gobo projections.

Due to the incredible BMFL zoom – from a tight pinspot right out to a 55-degree flood that’s crisp all the way they didn’t have to keep crossing units over to get the floor surface coverage. Of the remaining 16 x BMFLs were dotted along the audience trusses, eight a side, with two upstage of the judge’s desk, as the area immediately in front of this is used was a stage area this year. Adding the BMFLs to the rig also enabled another 18 other profiles (from a competitor brand) to be cut from the rig. In total there were 72 moving lights replaced with the 40 BMFLs offering superior brightness and versatility.

Jones is extremely impressed with the BMFLs and the results. “Having them on-board definitely allowed us to be more flexible,’ he says, adding that it’s also considerably lifted up the whole appearance of the show. “The superior zoom facilitated lots of smooth panning between A and C stages and it was also possible to zoom out and fill the entire arena floor with the same gobo.”

The show was programmed by Christopher Hirst, who started from scratch this year with BMFLs now added to the rig, and the show lighting was looked after on the road by Mike Rothwell, who has been lighting director for all but one of the seven annual Strictly Live tours so far. In addition to the 40 BMFLs, they also used 23 x Robe MMX Spots, 18 x MMX WashBeams, 28 x ColorBeam 700s in chrome all around the edges of the dance floor, and 56 x ColorWash 2500E ATs rigged all over the trussing grid for the full arena / stage cover and washes, plus copious amounts of mirror ball bling.
The lighting was being run from a pair of grandMA2 full size consoles controlling GrandMA2 network processing units communicating over a fibre network between FOH and dimmers.

It was Rothwell’s first time working with BMFLs and he commented that they proved extremely reliable – as you would expect from a Robe product – and were a big hit with the crew as they are smaller, lighter and much easier to handle than any other high powered fixtures. He worked with a lighting / rigging crew of eight on the tour, with Sonalyst also supplying the complete audio, rigging and commissioning package. XL Video was the video contractor.

“As a company we like being among the first to offer new technology. Since the product was first discussed with Robe in 2013, the time was absolutely right and we are very impressed with the results,’ states Sonalyst MD Rory Madden with confidence. “Everyone wants them on their show it seems, so they’re already booked out on a myriad of other tours and events.’