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Clay Paky at the David di Donatello Awards
Lighting Designer
Fausto Carboni
AMG / Arco Due
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The David di Donatello is an Italian film award, assigned by the Italian Film Academy’s David di Donatello Organization. There are various award categories and it can be considered as being the Italian film industry’s equivalent of Hollywood’s Academy Awards. The David di Donatello takes its name from the famous statue, a scale reproduction of which is awarded to the winners during the ceremony.

The 2012 edition was broadcast from an extravagant but uncluttered set built at the Teatro della Conciliazione in Rome. It was designed to evoke hints of Hollywood, but at the same time be more in keeping with typical television shooting techniques and time slots. The choice to use Clay Paky Sharpys for the lighting effects was almost obligatory, since the small Clay Paky moving heads had recently been used at the Oscar night in Hollywood, broadcast worldwide by the American TV networks.

RAI (Italian State TV) director of photography Fausto Carboni said: We decided to draw inspiration from the 20th Century Fox opening credits, so we set out to reproduce the beams of light coming from the ground. As with many other productions I have worked on, we chose to ‘countersink’ the light sources themselves into the set so you could not see them. The light always shone from bottom to top, on the part of the stage behind the actors.”

The Sharpys were used continuously throughout the show. There were large movements when the awards were handed over, when it was possible to exploit the power and – especially – the speed of the lights to animate the set. Throughout the rest of the evening, the movements were very slow, simply to accompany the ceremony. “In these cases, I was able to appreciate that Sharpys aren’t just extremely fast moving heads, but also tracer beams with an exceptionally fluid motion,” Carboni pointed out.

Carboni told us that he had “an excellent opinion of the Alpha Wash 700s. They are very compact washlights for the amount of light they provide. This is no small advantage, since it means you can distribute the weight on the battens in the best possible way, and come up with rigs that would otherwise be impossible.”

The lighting equipment also included Alpha Spot HPE 700s, Alpha Wash 575s and Alpha Wash Halo 1000s. The latter had the delicate task of illuminating the statue found in the middle of the stage. “I did not use many effects in general, because I think it is essential to catch the emotion of the moment on the faces of the stars: it is the most important film award ceremony in Italy. Combining the right amount of white light with lighting effects was the most challenging task in this whole production.”

The scenery was very plastic and not high-tech, unlike many other programmes today. Cyan and orange stood out among the principal colours Carboni used. They blended well with the golden colour of the statue. Fausto Carboni worked closely with set designer Patrizia Tardone, with whom he said he was in total agreement regarding the main artistic choices made.

The lights were provided jointly by AMG and Arco Due (Rome). This year’s award for best film went to “Caesar Must Die” by Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, who also jointly won the best director award. Best Actress was Tao Zhao for “Shun Li and the Poet” and best actor was Michel Piccoli for “We Have a Pope” by Nanni Moretti.