On December 10, 2010, Clay Paky played a major role in one of the highest profile events in the world – The Nobel Prize Banquet. Held since 1934 in the Blue Hall of Stockholm City Hall annually on the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death, the banquet follows the esteemed Nobel Prize Awards. The event is attended by the King and Queen of Sweden and the other members of the Royal Family, plus approximately 1300 guests, including Nobel Laureates, politicians, dignitaries and other VIPs, as well as seen by the viewing audience of a High Definition television broadcast by Swedish Television (SVT).
Lighting Designer Per Sundin has been in charge of lighting the event for the past 10 years but this was the first year Clay Paky fixtures were brought in for it. Interlite AB supplied 8 Clay Paky Alpha Profile 1500 fixtures for the banquet. The lighting was designed to be elegant yet lively to compliment the entertainment, which incorporated big band music and dancing.
The positioning of the lighting set up itself does not change drastically from year to year, due to the limited number of places where fixtures can be hung. The 85-year-old Stockholm City Hall was not built with modern technology in mind (nor any rigging points), plus the Nobel Foundation has very strict regulations about unnecessary cabling and other elements that can make the Hall less aesthetically pleasing. What Sundin achieved with the Clay Paky fixtures was on an unexpected surface – the massive ceiling of the Blue Hall. In the past, video content has been projected onto the 40×32m (131’×105′) space, but this year, the Alpha Profile 1500 fixtures took the place of the projectors, sending gobo projections overhead from the convenient location of the 2nd floor balcony.
The original idea came by way of architect Ragnar Östberg while the building was being constructed between 1911 and 1923. He liked the way the water outside the building reflected up onto the ceiling through the high windows and decided to leave it plain white to capture that look. During the banquet, however, it is too dark outside to reflect anything, so Sundin’s design employs other means to retain that feel while also taking advantage of the largest blank canvas in the room.
Production Manager Ola Melzig explained, “At first we thought we were getting four Alpha Profiles, which actually would have been adequate as they have incredible brightness and a good beam size. We ended up getting eight, which was even better. We were able to use them for the far wall as well – behind the main stage of the performances. I’ve never seen the roof look so bright and saturated and the wall looked great. Plus the fixtures were far easier to set up, compared to the huge projectors we used to use!” The gobo projections on the far wall created an artistic backdrop for performers appearing in the 2nd floor windows. “These were actually standard gobos that came with the fixtures and I thought they looked perfect,” said Sundin.
Control came from an ETC Congo programmed by Emma Landare and the design was created in wysiwyg by Sundin. He explained, “I’ve been in close contact with the wysiwyg library team at Cast Software and they’ve said that Clay Paky has always made a concerted effort to keep their newest fixtures in the wysiwyg library. There can sometimes be a last-minute change and if the personality isn’t there, it can cause delays.”
As always, the lighting was a key element to making the evening feel fresh and welcoming for the King and Queen of Sweden and their guests. Melzig added, “The location is the same, even the dinnerware is the same each year, but through entertainment and especially lighting, we can create a new experience each time.”