White Light Goes into Isolation for Theatrical Music Video

Inspired by the events of the past 18 months, Isolation is a digital performance piece which examines what happens when people from different backgrounds suddenly find themselves placed in bubbles. Commissioned by Warwick Arts Centre, it was created and directed by Lukas McFarlane and features a lighting design by Will Alder. With a strong reputation for supplying both theatre and broadcast projects, Will approached White Light to provide the lighting for this unique production.  



Whilst many art projects have steered clear of focusing on the events of the past 18 months, Will felt that Isolation offered a unique perspective on what was an unprecedented year. He explains: “I love Lukas’ collaborative approach to making and creating work. He had the idea of using ‘boxes’ of light, with some people being in their own boxes, others in a box that feels much smaller because it’s shared with friends and family, and some sharing a box with a partner that they never imagined being in close proximity with 24/7. In terms of set design, we had 9 boxes on stage that could expand and contract in size, and each one would bleed into another during the piece; something that needed to be achieved through lighting”. 



The piece was being filmed on-site at the Streatham Space Project by Ninety One Films. Will explains: “We had to work within the limitations of the rig, both in terms of weight limit and the power available. We needed a simple grid of just nine units, with three downstage, three mid stage and three upstage. For the boxes to bleed into each other, we knew this would be best achieved with profile moving heads, despite the fact we didn’t actually need them to move during the piece! I did some research into units that included framing shutters that were not too heavy and settled on using some Robe DLS units for the piece. These were also a great option as they are LED and so wouldn’t use as much power”.  











The timings for the project were incredibly tight, with the team having only three days to bring the project to life. The first two days were the company rehearsing and creating the piece together, with the third dedicated to get-in, tech run, filing and then a get out. Will explains: “Streatham Space Project is very well set up technically for a venue of its size, with an Ion XE and Qlab available in house. We knew we’d just have to draw on power and run DMX out into the space to the nine units. Using Qlab to run the show track, we rehearsed in the timings of lighting cues running over OSC. The company came in at 12 o’clock, and myself and the two lighting crew shed a tear watching it all come together for the first time – it is such a beautiful piece and seeing it in person made us all unexpectedly emotional!”. 



The actual filming of the piece took around five hours in total, which involved hugely detailed work and collaboration from dancers, film crew, and technical crew with Lukas at the helm to bring it all together. Will had to rely on the precision of the timeline function within Qlab to run cues to an extremely intricate cue point within the track, which subsequently allowed the entire show to run the same every single take. 



Whilst this was a performance piece in a theatre space, the fact that it was filmed had a huge influence over Will’s approach. He explains: “I’ve been doing a lot of lighting design for Live Stream over the last year and it’s a different mindset; particularly when it comes to the colours used etc. Everything looks different through a camera sensor, and you have to be very careful not to slip into old habits of just looking at what’s in front of you on stage, but what it actually looks like through the camera. There is also the fact that, with a film shoot, every aspect of that performance has to stay the same. For instance, the dancers are doing the same movements for each moment in the song, so it’s vital that the technical elements are the same each and every time; which is where Qlab proved vital”.  



Isolation is now available to watch online and can be viewed here.  



Will concludes: “It was wonderful to be back in the room with a big company bringing together a piece as important as this. It feels so pertinent, extremely fresh and raw and allows us to talk about the here and now and help us cope with what has happened to our lives over the last year and a half. The arts are such an important part of helping society as a whole come to terms with what we have been through, and what I love so much about Lukas’ work in particular is that it is so beautifully accessible to everyone – it is excellent storytelling through movement. As always, a huge thanks to the team at WL helping us bring it together, delivering great equipment in budget and on time! 



 Photos courtesy of Kyle Richardson Media.




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