In May 2020 The Voice Australia returned for Season 9 with coaches Delta Goodrem, Kelly Rowland, Guy Sebastian and Boy George going head to head to find Australia’s best-unsigned singing talent.
This year it was more of a massive undertaking than usual as the show moved out of Fox Studios (which was fully occupied with the production of a Marvel movie) to a new temporary 13,000sqm warehouse location in Moorebank consisting of three studio spaces. Large super grids had to be installed, container walls used to separate areas, temporary buildings, art workshops, power, plumbing and air conditioning systems added to make the location TV friendly.
The base lighting inventory for the Playoff, Showdowns and Finals shows was entirely LED-based except for the Claypaky Sharpys and Robert Juliat followspots. This was a first for lighting designer Ian Anderson of Mitech Design with various needs leading to this decision; power supply was limited, total weight loads throughout the temporary super grid were lower than what the show is used to in a regular studio space and the reliability of the LED fixtures played a big part to minimise labour costs. In fact, Ian reports that they didn’t swap one light out of the rig the whole time they were in production.
“With manufactures now tending to focus more on the quality of light rather than the brightness or how many cool things they can do, it makes it much easier to be able to match colours and match colour temperatures throughout these larger systems,” commented Ian. “The Martin MAC Encores looked after the key lighting aspects of the shows with the Aryton Perseo and Boras jumping in as required. Then they also matched to the Cineo and Eclipse LED panels in the surrounding on-camera areas.”
Usually, Ian is not a ‘brand person’ preferring to mix and match his products, but he admits that he has turned into a big fan of the Ayrton Perseo and Bora.
Typically on a long-term hire such as The Voice, Ian would not be able to get his hands on the quantities of high-turnover gear that he did – not that his budget would allow for it anyway! But sadly Covid-19 restrictions were in place and Chameleon’s warehouse was depressingly full.
Also, the Chameleon crew on the show rotated frequently to give all the crew on JobKeeper the chance to work on a real show.
Navigating the making of such a large scale TV production in these Covid-19 times was also a challenge with Michael Kent leading the safety and wellbeing aspects of the production. Extreme measures to work within the current pandemic restrictions were activated including social distancing of participants and when London-based George and LA-based Rowland were unable to return to Australia for the remainder of the season when coronavirus ushered in extreme international travel restrictions, they appeared on video screens propped up in their iconic Voice chairs.
It takes a very large and dedicated technical crew to deliver The Voice for ITV and the Nine Network. Everyone involved excelled once again including Mitech Design, Chameleon, TDC, PDR, Kennards Hire, Gravity Media, Final Mix Post, JPJ Audio, Australian Crewing, Showcall Crewing, Event Horizons, Forkbiz, Skyreach, Stagekings, Clifton Productions, Strauss Lighting, Event Engineering and Tripoint.