MJF enlists Robert Juliat for the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
NEW ZEALAND: Earlier in the year, when the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo visited Wellington’s Westpac Stadium, MJF Lighting invested in four new Robert Juliat Merlin 2500W HMI followspots. The purchase was made especially to cater to the show’s size and scale. The manufacturer’s Australia-based distributor, Show Technology, facilitated the sale.
‘It was time for a change,’ explained Michael Farrand, CEO of MJF. ‘There were no quality 2kW HMI followspots available in New Zealand to match this event, with all previous shows of this scale and high production standards having relied on units out of Australia.’
Mr Farrand had gained prior exposure to Robert Juliat followspots when he worked alongside UK-based Neg Earth, which supplied its 4kW RJ Lancelot followspots, on an AC/DC tour. I had the opportunity to talk to the touring tech, and find out first hand just how reliable the RJ product was,’ noted Mr Farrand. ‘Feedback from actual users is always far more valuable than any pitch from a salesman or brochure, and my experience proved the RJ range of followspots actually deliver everything they purport to do, and more.’
The MJF CEO continued: ‘The Merlins are beautifully engineered. The design has been thought about and the guys at Robert Juliat have obviously consulted thoroughly with the people who use the product. They’ve thought about everything: the balance of them, where the controls are located and how they go in and out of the roadcases.’
Confident that the purchase of the Merlin followspots would fulfil the requirements of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, the team from MJF deployed the four units on the stadium’s roof, 26m above the field. A week was needed to complete the installation, as two purpose-built huts were hoisted onto the roof to house the four Merlins, and a backdrop to the lighting design of Paul Collison, from Eleven Design, that included a replica of Edinburgh Castle.
‘The Merlins were amazing and an ideal fixture for the Military Tattoo,’ added the lighting designer, Mr Collison. ‘Their size meant they could be effectively used in a tight position on the roof above the field, and the way they cut through the arena wash to help us pick out individual talent was incredible. I was incredibly impressed with the output of the Merlins. They really made lighting the show a pleasure as we could rely on them to compete with hundreds of other fittings even though they were throwing over 100m at times.
‘I felt the ergonomic user features also meant a higher quality of work from the operators,’ Mr Collison continued. ‘Once the operators became accustomed, they executed their cues flawlessly. This was quite a feat when you consider that the temperatures at show time often dropped below 10-degrees Celcius with wind speeds across the roof averaging 30knots with gusts of over 50knots.’
‘One of the features I found extremely useful was the dimmer control position and the percentage reading on the display. This enabled me to call my team to match the exact output to balance our pickups perfectly,’ recalled Katie-Jane Bowen, head followspot operator at MJF. ‘The positions on both the dimmer and the iris are placed so that the operator does not have to shift their weight to access these controls, allowing for smooth and steady operating. I am a small girl, and seeing the size of these units was a little overwhelming in the anticipation of rigging them, but the lift points and handles are positioned extremely well for easy lifting and rigging, even within a tight space. With assistance of only one other, I was able to comfortably lift and set these up.’
In addition to Mr Farrand and Ms Bowen, the MJF team for the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo also comprised head system engineer Blair McLaren and system tech Shamus Jackson.
‘Katie-Jane’s comments are among the greatest compliments we hope to have,’ concluded Robert Juliat CEO, François Juliat. ‘We are extremely happy to hear the comments from everyone involved in this production.’