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Robe Returns to The Future at PLASA 2019

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Inspired by the launch of its new PLASA Innovation Award-winning ESPRITE moving light with fully replaceable LED engine and a host of other ground-breaking features and the iconic Back to The Future movie franchise … Robe presented the first in a new trilogy of expo live performance concepts at the PLASA 2019 expo in London.

The show #ReturnToTheFuture was created to highlight Robe’s newest technologies in the context for which they were designed!

With an original DeLorean MMC12 as the set centrepiece, six dancers – and around 200 Robe lights - including ESPRITES, Tetras, T1s, SilverScans, MegaPointes, Spiiders, Tarrantulas and LEDBeam 150s  – rigged in the roof and all around the sides of the booth, plus stunning special effects and a pool of water containing Robe IP rated iPointes - the 8-minute 428-cue (that’s one every 1.12 seconds) show was performed to a special soundtrack and kept all the visual surprises flowing.

It drew massive crowds to the Robe booth which was packed throughout the three days of the popular entertainment industry trade expo.

“We loved being back in London and were very proud to present the show in a city that’s renowned for world-class entertainment, and to touch base with so many industry friends and contacts,” stated Robe CEO Josef Valchar, adding that they generally received a great response to the new products.

Winning a PLASA innovation award for the ESPRITE was the “icing on the cake” of a fantastic show, he continued. The judges’ comments on this outstanding new product were that it “advances technical practice by increasing the potential lifespan of LED fixtures, hopefully setting the model for other manufacturers to follow.”

In addition to the ESPRITE, this also included Tetra, a new moving LED batten incorporating the same high-quality optics and LED lightsources used in the Spiider and Tarrantula LED wash-beams.

In the ESPRITE, Robe has focussed on the future. It is the first fully replaceable LED engine luminaire of its kind, and a high-powered, eco-friendly, cost-effective replacement for ‘workhorse’ discharge fixtures which are the backbone of the lighting rental industry worldwide.

The “Return to The Future” show was produced by Robe’s creative team led by Nathan Wan and Andy Webb and choreographed by Jaye Marshall. The live show elements were production managed by Josh Williams, with the overall spectacular expo stand build coordinated by Tomas Kohout.

The ever-relevant concept of time travel was a huge hit with everyone at the show and car geeks salivated with the appearance of the fully working vehicle – one of only two in the UK. It was produced in the early 1980s featuring Giorgetto Giugiaro classic DMC design, complete with signature gull-wing doors, brushed stainless steel outer body panels, fibreglass body structure and steel backbone chassis, all revolutionary in the day!

“We wanted to hit a chord with the importance of the replaceable / transferable engine of the ESPRITE and to produce a show that was vibrant and fun as well as instantly – and universally – recognisable,” explained Nathan on how the thought process started and developed.

In Marvel-esque style, the heroes of the story were the Robe fixtures, which offered plenty of opportunity for imaginative and subtle brand reinforcement.

A two-level double-deck architecture was built into the overall stand plan to facilitate the show design requirement for three top tier windows in the ‘automotive laboratory’, where the backup dancers first appear behind gauze panels while the Marty McFly and Doc Brown characters are below puzzling over how to transfer the car engine to something modern, powerful and carbon-conscious.

The full cast then comes forward to the B-stage surrounded by the water trough for the finale … illustrating the depth and 3D dynamics of the space optimum viewing angles and strategic placement of fixtures to coincide with the story. The planning was such that wherever people were sitting or standing there was a clear view of everything as their eyes flipped between different areas of action.

Employing some classic theatrical techniques to illustrate the fine detail and finessing capabilities of all the fixtures involved in the show, the narrative zipped along to the pumping soundtrack compiled as a megamix of musical genres relevant to the storyboard that would also resonate across Robe’s diverse customer and end-user base. 

The show cast characters were all extremely strong, and the elaborate costumes were designed by Andy.

Nathan and Jordan enjoyed the challenge of imagining and built the laboratory’s reactor prop including retro 1980s button / meter panel displays and the bubble tubes that emulated plutonium rods.

An ArKaos media server was used to map all the pixel fixtures – Tetras, Spiiders, Tarrantulas and LEDBeam 150s – and the show was programmed and run on an Avolites console. BPM SFX supplied flames and CO2 jets, with an eye-catching low fog curtain and The One hazers from MDG all helping to ramp up the vibes!

Robe’s “Return to The Future” series had an extra relevance to kicking off at PLASA in London …  as Back to The Future the musical has a West End Run planned next year to celebrate its 35th anniversary.

Related to #ReturnToTheFuture and the ESPRITE launch is an online game: “Robe ESPRITE Racer” ...  check it out at www.robe-esprite.com ... where the time has come to take the wheel and an adrenalised trip through time to unravel the history of Robe ....

Back to the Robe show story … which ends with our heroes being saved from nuclear meltdown just in time to transfer the engine to the car, escape and time-travel to the next warp …

… which will be at LDI in Las Vegas in November, when Robe presents Part 2 of this exciting, dramatic seat-edge adventure!


Photo Credit: Louise Stickland

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