30 Million People Watch Vari*Lites In Action On The YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011

Posted on Tuesday, April 19th, 2011


Last year, 101 musicians from 33 countries uploaded videos to YouTube of themselves auditioning for the YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011. Chosen with the help of leading orchestras around the world and the YouTube community, the musicians have finally made it to the end of their journey to perform in an extraordinary concert conducted by Grammy-award winning YouTube Symphony Orchestra Artistic Advisor, Michael Tilson Thomas, and streamed live on YouTube directly from Sydney Opera House.

The culmination of the week long festival was the Grand Finale concert which was streamed live on YouTube from Sydney Opera House. The Grand Finale was a multimedia extravaganza of soaring music accompanied by extraordinary projections on the interior Concert Hall and the exterior sails of the iconic Sydney Opera House.

Richard Neville of Mandylights was the Lighting Designer for the event and he opted for 51 x VL5 Wash, 14 x VL1000TS Spot, 26 x VL3000 Spot and 230 x Mandylights LED Tubes. Richard’s brief was to create the equivalent of the MTV Awards for classical music!

“It needed to be spectacular but not a rock show,” he commented. “At the same time we had to satisfy the normal requirements of a classical orchestra by ensuring they had enough light to be able to read music. We also had to consider the projection and design a rig that would fit in with that too. The rig had to be super low profile and we didn’t have the option to put any trusses above the orchestra. We also couldn’t get enough fixtures into the conventional side light ports at the Opera House and we were also very aware that we couldn’t ‘kill’ many seats to accommodate lighting.”

Consequently the Mandylights team created a design that consisted of two angled trusses that hug the walls all the way down the venue. This way the lighting is spectacular without obtruding or blocking any camera shots within the venue.

“I used heaps of Vari*Lite VL5 washes as their quality of light is still not matched by any other fixture,” said Richard. “Every colour is usable on the orchestra and every colour looks great. The zooms on the Vari*Lite VL3000 and VL1000 spots are fantastic. I used the Vari*Lite VL1000’s to do lots of individual spots on the orchestra as well as a lot of the front and back light on host positions as they can change so quickly.

“Everything about the Vari*Lites is so reliable even the VL5 which is over fifteen years old in age. The fact that only two fixtures out of fifty-one went down over the entire event is a credit to both Vari*Lite and Bytecraft.”

As well as the Grand Final, the Mandylights team was involved in the lighting direction for all the live sites and the events in the week leading up to the main event.

YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011 was the most watched live stream in YouTube’s history beating the previous record from 2009 which was the live streaming of U2’s 360 concert from Los Angeles. During the stream nearly 30 million people logged on around the world.