Painting with Light delivers Happy Belgium Finale spectacular

Creative visual practice Painting with Light (PWL) was asked by the Agoria Sports and Entertainment Technology club – a networking hub for Belgian technology leaders – to show direct and design lighting for an epic mixed media visual spectacle – lighting, lasers & fireworks – which was the finale segment of the official 2023 Belgian National Day celebrations.

Photo: Frederic Lepla

This year, the occasion also coincided with the 10th anniversary of the coronation of King Philippe of Belgium, making it extra special. The overall event which included a 2-hour music Festival, was titled “Happy Belgium”.

The 15-minute Finale show – full of gripping visual moments and WOWs – was developed for the Syndicat d’Initiative-Bruxelles Promotion (SIBP) and staged against the imposing and dramatic backdrop of Cinquantenaire Arcade, a grand 30-metre-wide, 45-metre-high triple arched architectural monument in Brussels’ Parc du Cinquantenaire.

It topped off the music festival event organised by the Prime Minister’s chancellery and was attended by 60,000 people as well as live broadcast across major networks including VRT 1, Play4, La Une and BRF and on TV5 Monde.

The PWL team was led by the company’s founder and creative director Luc Peumans who collaborated closely with Patrick and Nathan Awouters (creative director and technical manager respectively) from Agoria partner Laser System Europe (LSE), who provided the lighting equipment and 40 lasers for the show.

Pyro specialist Arteventia’s Edouard Grégoire designed and supplied the breathtaking fireworks together with his team.

A dynamic and highly balanced blend of these three distinctive visual media combined to produce this show-stopping finale. It was set to a special soundtrack composed by Patrick Awouters.

“The big challenge,” explained Luc, “was blending these three very different disciplines in a high impact show that could catch everyone’s attention after watching the 2-hour music festival event.” It needed to be hugely dynamic, lively, and present a big contrast to conclude a memorable evening for everyone, showcasing world-class Belgium talent and technology and leaving everyone with lasting memories.

On the lighting side, a full set of IP rated fixtures was installed on and around the Cinquantenaire and the galleries and colonnades of its associated buildings, which curve away to the sides of the striking monolith.

Fixtures comprised a mix of beams and washes and included 60 x PR Lighting AQUA 580 Beams, 18 x AQUA 580 BWS, 50 x AQUA LED 600 Spots, 30 x FOS F7 strobe washes, 10x Explo X2 Wave Flamers and 14 x hazers to assist with atmospherics, all of which were supplied by LSE.

In addition to these, Luc tapped into 18 x of the music festival’s Chauvet ColorStrike M motorized strobe / wash fixtures that were part of the festival package and supplied by Splendit for DDMC, the event producers for that segment with their technical partner, More to Show.

“We needed IP rated fixtures for all the obvious reasons,” stated Luc, alluding to the general unpredictability of the weather! “All the lights were in exposed positions, even the ones lighting the underside of the Cinquantenaire arches, and of course they needed to have the power and features required to help make the show look fantastic!”

While it wasn’t an overly large rig, Luc, a big exponent of lighting ‘appropriately’ and not wasting resources, made every fixture work hard, efficiently, and effectively. “It was very much a case of having a practical and manageable number of fixtures, being imaginative and making them look good with the layers of lasers and firework effects,” all of which gave the show great depth and dimensionality on top of the base layer of scenography provided by the magisterial architecture.

Luc explained that once the soundtrack was finalized, the galvanizing part was to integrate these three distinctive visual elements into a fluid narrative collage that included the location and working everything to the allocated budget.

Much of the magic happened in a Syncronorm Depence previz suite as they visualized the show, critical to its success as in reality they had precious little situ time for programming on site when dark, the time condensed to around 3 hours over two nights! A run through on the first evening was without pyro but produced plenty of notes, all of which had to be addressed and solved by the next day in PWL’s pre-vis suite onsite, with a further 1.5 hours the following night to review.

To assist this process, a simulation of the fireworks was created by Arteventia that gave a realistic visual of the effects, and this was invaluable to the process.

“We worked brilliantly as a team and enjoyed great communication and understanding of each other in formulating a great audience experience,” noted Luc. The final show was fully timecoded and synched to the music track.

Photo: Frederic Lepla

Painting with Light’s lighting programmers were Tibo Spiessens and Jeroen Opsteyn using a grandMA3 and the pre-programming was completed in Depence 3 in their visualization Studio. The associate lighting designer was Sieben Vannuffelen and the production Manager for LSE was Hans Cromheecke.

LSE’s lighting crew were Arnaud Favry, Jonathan Mulders, Fabian Fizaine, Jonathan Gault and Jules Roullet, and tec’ing the lasers were Thomas Avisse and Giovanni Laera.

The lasers were designed and programmed by Patrick’s son, Nathan and LSE’s artistic consultant was Marcos Vinals.

Working alongside Edouard on Team Arteventia was technical manager Gabriel Legrand, Project manager Jean François Homerin and firers Anthony Poveda, Jordan Van Cappellen, Emmanuel Legrand, Amaury Vanderborght and Claudel Doucel.

The TV camera director for the festival and the finale / closing event was Hans Pannecoucke who had 2 x close cams, 1 x dolly, 1 x crane, 3 x handhelds, 2 x PTZ remotes and a drone at his disposal to build an exciting and cool live and broadcast mix. Broadcast facilities were supplied by another Agoria partner, NEP Belgium, with Bart Thiron as a technical director.

Luc concluded, “While all of us involved work on massive events worldwide, it was a very proud and magical moment to be producing and presenting such a unique live experience on this huge scale for our own country and highlighting our heritage, history and one of the country’s landmark monuments. This really resonated in highlighting some of the original and creative show and production talent right here in Belgium!”

Info: www.pwl.be

Photos: Frederic Lepla & Nathan Awouters

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