Leading the Field, Following the Action...
The Spotrack Revolution is Here.
To this day, a very famous, free online encyclopedia describes spotlights as distinct stage- lighting instruments, each controlled by its operator and located on catwalks, spot booths and variously at the mercy of the architect who designed the space in which they are deployed. Locations can be problematic, it says, referring to audience members distracted by fan-noise or operators speaking into headsets. And yet, follow spots are fundamental to every facet of show-business. The follow spot defines the star, telegraphs the importance of a moment and elevates every production. Clearly, whatever its apparent practical shortcomings, the follow spot is here to stay, although thanks to the innovative team at Spotrack, the long-held traditional view of what constitutes this lighting staple has perhaps now changed forever...
Spotrack was developed to remotely control spotlights using computers and automated lights and its adoption by a number of leading lighting designers, across a broad range of international productions on every scale, makes it the world’s leading exponent. Spotrack’s remotely operated follow spot system enables an operator with a computer and a pointing device to remotely control from any location, moving lights as follow spots. Compatibility is key to the system, which works with any moving light and any lighting console, in any performance space and can be used in all entertainment sectors for live production from anywhere in a venue. Quick to set up and always on target, the Spotrack system is catching on quickly.
A few examples of Spotrack’s adoption for major productions gives a clear indication of the system’s trajectory in the market. Troy Eckerman, President of Chroma Designs Inc. of Houston, Texas, is a highly respected and vastly experienced lighting designer, who works with, among many others, heavy metal superstars Metallica. He saw the advantages immediately. Metallica first used Spotrack on their WorldWired tour in 2018, making it an integral part of their show, the design for which made a traditional single light/operator system impractical.
Eckerman gives his view:
“Spotrack is a unique system because it has so many options and is very user-friendly. The two point positioning version is an extremely quick set-up, or if you require provision for three-dimensional multiple height stages or venues, the multi-point version is available. For permanent installs you can do a high-count multi-point set-up for pinpoint accuracy. You can have positive or negative elevations in the set or arena - the system learns the elevation automatically when using the multi-point set-up.
“The system’s auto-dimmer, focus, zoom, iris, etc., set up evenly and automatically maintain levels and colour temperatures throughout the performance area and the full-blown version has the multi-point camera for situations where you need multiple cameras to see the entire performance area. Fixtures can be hung in any orientation along with the camera. Spotrack has worked fantastically well for us!”
In Australia, leading lighting designer Davey Taylor is another Spotrack devotee. He has deployed Spotrack to great advantage at numerous large scale productions, including the final of ‘Eurovision - Australia Decides’ at The Gold Coast Exhibition Centre and for marquee events at the huge Royal Queensland Show (Ekka) in Brisbane’s Exhibition Grounds. As long-time lighting designer for internationally acclaimed Australian band, Empire of the Sun, Taylor has plans to incorporate Spotrack into their future shows:
“The system transforms any moving light into a spotlight using a computer, a video camera and a DMX interface. It’s completely different and I think, ultimately, it’s a creative system that puts things in the control of the LD a bit more. Having creative control over the follow spots is something we’re really looking forward to using on tour.”
A recent spectacular show in China is further evidence of how far the Spotrack message has travelled in a short time. Sing! China is a singing competition which attracts an audience of many millions on TV and staged its live final last year at the iconic Bird’s Nest stadium in Beijing in front of 60,000 fans. The Sing! China team saw Spotrack in action at a trade show and having already received numerous recommendations, believed that the system would be an ideal solution for the needs of a fast-moving broadcast show on a wide stage, featuring a large number of performers. Without the need for belt-packs, sensors or the setting up of transmitters and receivers, the system could be calibrated during rehearsals and controlled from backstage to perfectly present every movement to the audience in the stadium and at home on TV.
ACME lighting technician and Spotrack operator for Sing! China, Mr Wen, offered the view that:
“It’s very simple to use and resolves many issues that compromise traditional follow spot lighting. The show was a great success and we were pleased by the performance of this new level follow spot performance.”
This year, the company launched Spotrack’s very latest product, Spotrack Evolution. When used in conjunction with an existing follow spot, via a simple upgrade in the form of a small hardware accessory, multiple moving lights can be used simultaneously for tracking a performer.
Spotrack CEO Liam Feeney has the last word:
“It’s gratifying to see Spotrack being used around the globe for such a wide variety of high profile events, in the hands of such highly respected designers and directors. The advantages of the system are now widely recognised and we continue to innovate with aim of improving life for lighting designers, performers and audiences alike.”