Every year on the first weekend in August, tens of thousands of EDM fans converge on the former missile base of Pydna in central Germany for Nature One, one of Europe’s most diverse and popular festivals. This year, around 54,000 people came together to party on 23 “floors” along with 350 DJs and live acts.
Thomas Gerdon of GERDON design has been working Nature One since 2003 and this year discovered the benefits of using Elation’s popular weatherproof Proteus Hybrid moving head. Since 2011, he and his team have been supporting the Open Air Floor, the largest floor of the festival, and for the first time this year also handled the visual design for Century Circus, the festival’s second largest floor.
Proteus Hybrid for Pyramid and Center Effect
Although EDM festivals have grown massively in recent years, Nature One is something special for Gerdon. “At most EDM festivals today you find broad, high and massive stage setups. That’s different with Nature One. The producers of the festival want to create the largest open-air club in the world and in clubs the lights usually hang over the dancefloor. That’s an integral part of the design.”
Above the Open Air Floor stood a structure in the form of a giant steel pyramid with a 40 x 40 meter footprint and a height of approximately 26 meters. “We chose to do a pyramid again this year because it has been effective in the past,” Gerdon stated. “It’s also cost effective and from a rigging point of view you can hang 20 tons on the main construction. This year we asked ourselves what we could add to it to give it a massive look.”
Gerdon, who was familiar with the Proteus Hybrid, had recently seen it in a shootout and was impressed with the output. “It was very obvious how much more powerful the Proteus was,” he said. “Many times on a shootout there are marginal differences but on this shootout it was very clear what fixture was brightest. That really got my attention. So I thought, let’s see what else it can do. And it could do a lot! The CMY was really good for a hybrid fixture and the speed of gobos and color was also good. It was really a ‘wow’ moment and really an improvement over other fixtures.”
The Proteus Hybrid moving lights were subsequently chosen for the project and installed on the pyramid. From the middle of the pyramid hung a central truss element, consisting of eight inter-hanging tapered circles. Each of the circles held eight Proteus Hybrid fixtures and eight LED blinder lights. “In past years it was a wide look, a wide rig with fixtures not concentrated together but very spread out. This year we wanted a greater concentration of fixtures. This center effect with the Proteus Hybrid was the key design element,” Gerdon confirms. Each leg of the pyramid then held 8 Proteus Hybrids with a further 32 Proteus Hybrid fixtures located on stage – 8 on side wings, 8 surrounding an LED screen, 8 on the floor and 8 on a back truss. Gerdon exploited the hybrid moving head’s versatility, using it as a spot, beam and wash light. “It was the only moving light in the rig so it was important that it deliver in all three modes.”
The Open Air Floor is outdoors, exposed to the weather and completely unprotected, an ideal environment for the IP65-rated Proteus Hybrid. “Compared to previous years, the Proteus Hybrid made a massive difference,” Gerdon says. “The use of IP65 lights has many positive aspects and it starts with economic considerations. With weatherproof lights you don’t need additional weather protection and manpower. This frees up budget that can be invested in more fixtures. In addition, there are no more weather-related limitations with the Proteus Hybrid. From a lighting perspective using protective domes is limiting – you can’t pan/tilt the fixture completely, there are focus problems, etc. It was the first time at Nature One that we were really able to use a fixture like we wanted. On past shows we always had problems because of the protective shields. There are simply no restrictions with the Proteus Hybrid and that is really awesome!”
Humidity at night at Nature One can also be a problem and, says Gerdon, there is no protection against humidity with protective covers. “In the past, we would have to keep the fixtures on all night so they wouldn’t get wet inside. That wasn’t necessary with the Proteus.”
Gerdon explains that he has used a lot of hybrid fixtures before and in his pre-visualization software it always looks good. “But reality was always disappointing,” he said. “In pre-viz you will purposely make the zoom tighter because you know reality is going to look different – not as bright. With Proteus we did the same and had them tightly zoomed in the pre-viz, expecting them to not be as bright in reality. But when we got on site we were surprised by the output; and it even delivered zoomed wide with a gobo.”
Since the lighting crew did not get any timecode or playlists from the artists, the operators had to react live to the music in real time. No problem, as Gerdon explains: “The rig made this type of spontaneous work possible. The crisp pan / tilt engine of the Proteus Hybrid was as much fun as their fast color and gobo changes. The guest lighting designers also confirmed that to us.”
Technical service provider was Schoko Pro who rented the Proteus fixtures from Motion Rental. Gerdon was wholly satisfied in his choice of fixture and praised Elation as the first company to really deliver effective IP65 products. “As a relative first mover with IP65 it is impressive that the fixtures work 100% from the beginning,” he said. “They operated for five days outdoors and held up really well and it’s not like they were just out of the box either. These fixtures had been on other shows and they worked great. That speaks for itself. We had good support from LMP and Elation Europe to get the fixtures we needed but truth be told, when you’re on site this fixture doesn’t need a lot of support.”