In December, specialist lighting and rigging provider TSL successfully met the large-scale production requirements and tight deadlines for a festive event with a difference – the UK’s largest carol service, staged at the SSE Wembley Arena, London.
Continuing a long-standing client relationship with international Christian church organisation Hillsong, TSL provided rigging and lighting services for London Carols, which saw three back-to-back performances on 17 December, reaching a total live audience of 30,000.
Arena-scale show production always places huge demands on suppliers and crew, and the requirements for London Carols were no different, says Sam Tamplin, managing director of TSL. “We supplied the rigging equipment for all departments, so it was imperative we didn’t hold anything up. The load-in schedule was meticulously planned by Hillsong down to 15-minute slots, and we were kept accountable to that.”
According to Tamplin, TSL’s solution to these demands was great crew, and great preparation. “Crew Chief Karl Lawton and Marcus Brown looked after the rigging, using our moving pre-rig for every lighting truss. We also had a full four days of prep in our warehouse, which saved hours of time on-site.”
Hillsong called on the services of lighting designer Tim Routledge – more commonly associated with the likes of Take That and Jeff Lynne’s ELO – to create a suitably awe-inspiring set and lighting for its 2016 carols. Andrew Bruce and Joe Lott of Quantum Creative were called on to reprogramme and expand on Routledge’s design, employing a rig of over 200 moving lights.
Bruce says, “The scale of Wembley Arena gives Hillsong fantastic scope for stage design. As always, the show was designed to engage the audience as much as possible, hence the passerelle catwalk and circular B-stage. The central ‘bowl’ of the main stage housed the 60-strong orchestra, along with 100 performers and a choir of 97. In total, there was around 6,300 square feet of lit stage space.”
In addition to lighting the stage for the audience, Bruce needed to light for a 10-camera broadcast which was streamed live on YouTube. With so much to think about in the Arena, good preparation and complete trust in his suppliers was essential. He says, “The process was very smooth. TSL gave unfailing support to the team throughout, accommodating any requests and giving us space to pre-visualise the show, with access to consoles and fixtures as needed. Nothing was too much trouble.”