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DWR keeps SA’s live designers busy during lockdown

DWR keeps SA’s live designers busy during lockdown
Jannie de Jager with Leon and Soné Rossouw

DWR keeps SA’s live designers busy during lockdown

South Africa:

Almost 100 days after South Africa first entered lockdown, the events industry is still under severe restrictions. Jannie de Jager and the lighting team at DWR, therefore, decided to challenge South Africa’s lighting designers to put their skills to good use during the lockdown by designing a light show using the MA2 PC platform.

“The lockdown has been very hard on people in our industry, especially for the freelance crew, technicians and engineers,” explained de Jager. “After a couple of days into lockdown, it quickly became apparent that boredom was going to be one of our greatest enemies and would negatively affect the mental health of everybody if we let it. We are very privileged to have some very talented and experienced lighting designers on staff and everybody got behind the idea.

The team chose Johnny Clegg and Savuka’s 1982 hit Scatterlings of Africa and de Jager developed a 3D show file, with fixtures patched, for the exercise. “I had a lot of fun working on the showfile, which did a lot to beat my own boredom in between training webinars that we were also hosting,” he said. “I placed fixtures in a very strategic way to intentionally stretch our participants and the majority really rose to the challenge.”

de Jager received 14 completed show files for consideration. The panel of judges included theatre lighting specialists, Kevin Stannett and Michael Taylor-Broderick; architectural lighting specialist, Johnny Scholtz; and live events specialist, Vincent van Niekerk. All of the files were reviewed independently by the judges, who applied predetermined criteria to assign scores to each show. “We looked at the use of generics (placement and focus thereof); timing and choice of cue changes (what was accented and when it was accented); utilisation of the rig designed by Jannie; and choice of stage looks as a whole, including colour choices and interpretation of the song,” explained Taylor-Broderick.

As this was a product-related competition, he took note of designers’ use of the MA2 software and assessed their work based on who used the platform to its maximum potential. The five finalists, which included Benjamin Leletsana Muir-Mills, Jade Manicom, Leon Rossouw, Marius B Coetzee and Ryan Lombard, were all within a point of each other in the final scoring. “It was an extremely close finish,” said de Jager. “Interestingly, all of the judges submitted their scorecards independently and they all had the same five finalists.”

Leon Rossouw was contacted to inform him that he had been awarded the top spot and was the proud owner of a grandMA2 onPC 4port Node 1K. “The MA Time Coding competition was a great way for me to stay busy during the lockdown, and provided an opportunity to learn new things, especially around pixel mapping,” he commented. Leon collaborated with his wife, Soné Rossouw, on the project.

Soné reflects that the competition provided a great opportunity for her and Leon to spend quality time together, doing something fun and creative but also learning new skills.

“Working together using a product as amazing as the MA console and MA PC platform was incredible and provided an opportunity to learn new skills and enjoy collaborating at a time where most people were struggling with social isolation,” explained Soné. “We feel very fortunate to have each other during these tough times, and to also have the chance to collaborate creatively.”

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