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The Queen's Platinum Jubilee Party at the Palace

TV, broadcast and event lighting rental specialists, Version 2, was proud to supply the moving lights, control, cabling and power distribution infrastructure for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Party at the Palace, catering for the needs of all four stages and the audience areas, including the Royal Box, which had been built in front of Buckingham Palace. 

Credit: Getty Images - WPA Pool 

One of the main highlights of the four days of Jubilee celebrations that marked the 70th anniversary of the Queen’s accession to the throne, the Party at the Palace, took place on the evening and night time of Saturday 4th June 2022.  The stunning two-and-a-half hour event wowed the nation and a global audience of 13.4 million viewers, with a dazzling array of technology, and performances from the likes of Queen and Adam Lambert, Nile Rodgers and Duran Duran, Hans Zimmer and Celeste, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Lin Manuel Miranda, as well as Eurovision sensation, Sam Ryder, before culminating in a performance from Diana Ross.

Produced by BBC Studio Events, and with a multi-stage design by Stufish, the set featured four stages: the Pop Stage and Orchestra Stage which flanked the Palace gates – both of which were offered partial protection from the weather by intricately designed, 12m high, cantilever roofs. These allowed a good visual perspective of the Palace behind them whilst also being high enough for good lighting positions; a Palace Stage that linked the Pop and Orchestra stages; and a central ‘QVM’ stage around the Queen Victoria Monument, connected to the rest of the set by a catwalk, both of which were entirely open to the elements.

To represent Her Majesty’s 70 years of service, the performance areas were defined by 70 pillars – silk covered truss towers with custom mounting plates that were designed in house by Version 2 and manufactured locally. “Not only were these key elements representative of the 70 years of service the Queen has given the country, they also provided elegant mounting solutions for the moving heads that Nigel used to light the event, and were much easier for the crew to rig and access,” says Version 2’s Joe Marter.

All this was backed by the exterior of Buckingham Palace which acted as the perfect projection surface for some spectacular video content and dronework to make the evening’s technical achievements worthy of such a unique royal occasion.

The responsibility and privilege for lighting this momentous event went to lighting designer Nigel Catmur and his team of 5 console operators supported by Gaffer, Mark Gardiner and his team of 12 site technicians, and the team at Version 2. (See full list of credits at the bottom of this report)

Credit: Getty Images - Hannah Mackay 
Version 2 was approached by Catmur in January 2022 to supply the lighting after winning the tender process from amongst a strong field of contenders. Both Catmur and Gardiner were happy to have them on board. “I thought it divine providence that, as the only wholly British company to tender, Version 2 were chosen!” says Catmur. “I have worked with them many times and was delighted to be working with them on this very special event.”

Catmur and Version 2 worked closely together through various developments of the design, adapting kit lists to fit suitability and availability until a final design was signed off in April.  This left about six weeks to procure 1009 lighting fixtures, most of which were supplied from Version 2’s rental stock, with cross-hire support from close collaborating companies.

“Fixture choice is always a balance between budget and availability,” says Catmur. “The budget for these kind of events is never as big as one would imagine, but it helped that I am now so am familiar with what they have in stock. And when they didn’t have it, they were excellent at sourcing and investing in what I needed.”

Catmur was adamant from the outset that he wanted Robe BMFL followspots and Robe BMFL Blades as the keylights for all four stages. “Martin Mac Aura XBs were also a given,” he says. “They are a fantastic unit with colours that are perfect for lighting people’s faces for camera, as well as being able to do all those rock and roll chases.”

All these fixtures were protected from the elements under cover of the Pop and Orchestra stage roofs, but IP65-rating was essential for almost everything else. “As we discovered on site during the build up, the rain could be torrential!” says Catmur.

“The IP65 rating was paramount for the majority of the fixtures on the QVM stage and many fixtures on the Pop and Orchestra stages, all of which were completely open to the elements,” says Marter. “Given the nature of the event, the vagaries of the British weather, and the fact the eyes of the world were upon it, it was essential the fixtures were weather-proof.”

The most prolific fixtures on site were from those from Cameo. “I didn’t know these fixtures but knew we needed something in incredible quantity, small and waterproof with a similar look – because I’d be using 3 - 4 units to uplight each of the 70 silk-covered pillars,” says Catmur. “Joe Marter recommended and sourced them and they turned out to be an excellent choice.

Each pillar was up-lit by Cameo Flat Pro 7 G2 fixtures and surmounted by either a Cameo Zenith W600 and Cameo Otos H5 Hybrid. 

The Cameo Zenith W600 also lined the back of the stages at floor level and the QVM statues. The Cameo Flat Pro 7 G2 were also used to back light the audience seating blocks, while the Cameo Otos H5 hybrid lamps were also distributed around the back of the audience.

“They are absolutely superb units,” says Catmur. “I was genuinely impressed and they were remarkably reliable too. I think we only lost one out of the 142 Cameo Zenith W600 and maybe two out of over 400 Flat Pros, which in the pouring rain is pretty good!”
 

“I thought it divine providence that, as the only wholly British company to tender, Version 2 were chosen!” 
| Nigel Catmur Lighting Designer

BBC Studios Events Productions | The Queen's Platinum Jubilee Party | Highlights

Catmur outlined the QVM stage’s central video screen with Prolights Panorama IP WBX which he chose for their visual quality: “They have an unusual appearance with a thin ring of LED around their circumference and three rings of LED emitters inside. We could run some nice colour variations and animations between the rings for some interesting eye candy around the QVM statue and QVM stage,” he says.

For the generic stage lighting, Prolights ArenaCob 4FC fixtures were installed under the roof on the Pop Stage and 24 more located into Queen’s (not THE Queen’s!) drum riser on the QVM stage adding a touch of platinum class.

35 Robe Spiders were also installed under the Pop and Orchestra roof canopies with IP65-rated i-Spiders rigged on the two outer legs. Two more iSpiders lit the Royal Ballet performance under Thomas Heatherwick’s iconic Tree of Trees.

Martin Mac Aura XB and Robe MegaPointe were distributed across both Pop and Orchestra stages, again under the protection of the roof, while strobe effects were provided by GLP JDC1 on the Pop Stage. 

The Robe BMFL Blades were installed on three towers that covered the front light of the Pop, Palace and Orchestra stages. In addition, 2 BMFL followspots with inbuilt camera and a Robe Forte EP acting as a backlight spot were installed on each of the Orchestra and Pop stages which Catmur was also able to use to reverse kick people on the Palace stage.

Credit: Getty Images - WPA Pool

“Lighting the QVM stage was quite a challenge because of its position so far in front of the set up,” says Catmur.  “We couldn’t put lighting in central positions as it would obstruct the sightlines up the Mall. Typically we’d bring the lighting positions as close to the edge of the seating blocks instead, but these points were occupied by two enormous lamposts which cast shadows across the stage. So we had to push the rigging positions much wider left and right than we would normally want to go. Consequently the angles were very wide and flat, but they worked extremely well and had the added advantage of being able to reach the outer edges of the Pop and Orchestra stages at the rear.

“For the QVM stage front light we relied on 12 BMFL Blades and some Astera AX5 on the floor, backed up by 4 Robert Juliat Lancelot followspots and 6 BMFL Robospots.

The followspots were rigged in a spot tower behind the audience seating above the press box, at the maximum height allowed, and operated by Dave Scrivens and his team of professional followspot operators from Pro Spot.

“I chose the security of the Lancelots because I wanted to be absolutely certain I had the power to cut against the daylight at the start of the show,” explains Catmur. “With hind sight the BMFLs would have been fine, but given the show starts in daylight and that we had the highest profile band opening the show, I wanted them to feel very much that they were in followspots, not just a tickle of light! It’s a big moment and having that extra power from the Lancelots provided that reassurance for that specific moment. 

“They are beautiful machines – ferociously bright! And actually, their positions meant they could reach the stages behind the QVM statue, and with that power there was no problem with level back there either! When Diana Ross made her entrance or Rod Steward came along the catwalk, it was reassuring to know we could hit them from the front positions too.

“It’s incredibly tricky doing shows in front of royal palaces as there are lots of things that try and stop you doing just that! The Trooping of the Colour for the Queen’s official birthday parade, which exited the Palace and travelled down the Mall on the Thursday, meant that we couldn’t have the central stage, catwalk and lighting infrastructure in place until it was finished, so the first time we saw everything in place was the Friday morning. Rehearsals took place during the day, so we were never in the correct lighting conditions until the Friday evening when we had our first run through. But my team and I have experience of this so it’s not as intimating as it sounds, but was a challenge.

“I was very pleased with the result. It was an amazing event to be part of - a once in forever opportunity that’s unlikely to occur again. We are all incredibly proud of what we managed to pull off. I don’t quite know how we did it, but an awful lot of planning went into it and it did pay off!”

“I was very pleased with the result. It was an amazing event to be part of - a once in forever oppertunity that's unlikely to occur again.” 
| Nigel Catmur Lighting Designer

Credit: Getty Images - Chris Jackson 

The mammoth task of organising the logistics, and designing and installing the control and distribution infrastructure was the responsibility of freelance gaffer Mark Gardiner and his team of 12 carefully selected technicians. Gardiner has known and worked alongside Nigel Catmur for a very long time, and also for many years with Version 2 and its MD, Nick Edwards.

“With no pre-existing infrastructure on site, we literally had to build everything from scratch: stages, grandstands, pillars, etc,” says Gardiner. “My role was to put together the lighting for the show, book the crew, handle the logistics of every aspect from the trucking to the order in which we build the show components. This involved liaising with every department to ensure the correct kit was delivered to site over multiple days to keep the work schedule flowing.”

There were many obstacles and constraints to negotiate in the process of arranging a party in such a globally significant location: in addition to the Trooping of the Colour, the daily Changing of the Guard necessitated an hour stoppage during which time Gardiner had to ensure the site was clear of equipment and personnel (“You can’t have people on a roof or cherry picker in the road!”); the whole site was required to have a 6m wide police high way during the build up and rehearsal time; flight cases delivered to and from site had to be searched by the police counter-terrorism unit. 

There were many security restrictions on what could be put under grandstands: “All distro areas, for example, had to be sited in very specific - not necessarily convenient - places and we had control racks in 13 different areas.” There was also a strict accreditation procedure for personnel with different passes required to go on the stage, in the royal box, the grandstands, front-of-house and followspot positions.  Any work within the forecourt of the Palace was strictly scheduled and designated to a specific team of people who received a Palace escort in and out of the area.

There was also the weather to contend with: “We had two days of high levels of lightning during which time we had to shut down 4 generator power zones which shut down every department! It all adds to the time, effort and organisation.”

“We had two days of high level of lightning during which time we had to shut down 4 generator power zones which shut down every department!”  
| Mark Gardiner - Lighting Gaffer

Credit: BBC

A major part of Gardiner’s remit was to design and install the lighting control system which entailed several kilometres of fibre supplied by Version 2. “From the central, custom-built control desk hub at the back of the south grandstand, we had the best part of 3km of fibre cable running around the site,” he says.

“The remote followspots were also run over the fibre network which allowed us to hide the remote control operators underneath the stage while the lights were over 100m away - further in cable terms - but were still able to control them seamlessly.

“The system was run on over 150 universes of DMX and had 3 types of lighting control across multiple networks on different V-LANs: ArtNet protocol, SACN and MA-Net.  In addition, one operator was running a Compulite Vector desk which we had to integrate into the GrandMA system – the system was built on a GrandMA world – to be then translated into ArtNet by the GrandMA network. 

“Alongside this we also integrated a High End Systems Hog across the sACN part of the network that was looking after all the screen content. This enabled this operator to take control of the brightness of the screens to be able to balance them as the light level dropped. 

“It took a lot of processing to achieve a seamless integration and that takes a lot of planning from the outset before you even get on site.”

This was in no small part facilitated by the team at Version 2. “I was able to give Version 2 my list in advance and they built the control racks to my specification. We then spent 4 days with them at Version 2 HQ prepping all the control elements and building the entire system before moving on site at the end of May, with just a week of build up before rehearsals. 

“The system was run on over 150 universes of DMX and had 3 types of lighting control across multiple networks on different V-LANs: ArtNet protocol, sACN and MA-Net.”  
| Mark Gardiner - Lighting Gaffer

Credit: Version 2 Lights

“The nature of the build meant it was not possible to connect of all these elements on site until Day 10, so we built the whole system in the warehouse and linked it together with the actual length (100s of metres) of fibre run we would use on site to replicate the ‘real’ conditions. But because everything was physically so much closer together in the warehouse, we were able to pay attention to anything that needed to be fixed in a fraction of the time. A half hour problem could be done in minutes – it’s so much more efficient than building a system on site and we knew it all worked before we even got on site.” 

Full connectivity on site involved working with all the TV and sound departments to run cabling through subterranean tunnels and ducts, which in turn had to be organised with the Parks Authorities for the police to search the ducts beforehand and have an overview that it was safe once the lids went back down. 

“Because we had built the system in the warehouse, and because we had come up with a comprehensive design, by the end of the day of the cable pulling, it all came together and worked on that first day – brilliantly and with no major problems. It’s actually quite a big moment - you would be surprised how pleased you are as a team when it all goes right! Especially with the conditions, the rain, the potential for oversights etc 

“The prep beforehand is invaluable, and not something that all production companies understand but BBC Events gets it entirely – they trust us to deliver - and Version 2 is exceptionally good at it.

“Version 2 understand what is needed to put on a show of this scale and were completely unfazed by it. It’s the little details that they are so good at facilitating.  Joe Marter in particular as the account manager was just amazing. Nothing was a problem for him and he supported me very well, giving me excellent options each time I had a query."

“Version 2 understand with is needed to put on a show of this scale and were completely unfazed by it. Joe Marter the account manager was just amazing.”  
| Mark Gardiner - Lighting Gaffer

Credit: Getty Images - WPA Pool 

“The whole team are very happy to oblige and help in any way. The quality and reliability of their kit across the board is brilliant and we had hardly any swap outs. They did a great job. They should be very proud of themselves.”

“It was a genuine privilege to partner with the BBC, Nigel Catmur and his team for this once in a lifetime production,” says Version 2’s Nick Edwards. “The end result was truly stunning, the plaudits for Nigel’s design are still ongoing – I’m sure this production will be talked about for many years to come!” Edwards concluded with praise for his team “I must give huge kudos to Joe Marter for heading this one up so diligently.  Credit to our Operations team, it was a herculean effort to pull off a job of this magnitude so well.” 

“The end result was truly stunning, the plaudits for Nigel's design are still ongoing - I'm sure this production will be talked about for many years to come!”  
| Nick Edwards - Version 2 Managing Director

Platimum Party Fun Facts:
55 tons of equipment sent to site
31.5 miles of cable
Over 3km fibre
Transport facts:
10 x 45ft articulated lorries
5 x 7.5ton trucks

Lighting Equipment supplied by Version 2
2x ROBE ROBOSPOT MOTION CAMERA
10x ROBE FORTE EP
33x ROBE BMFL BLADE
39x ROBE SPIIDER
38x ROBE MEGAPOINTE
10x ROBE I-SPIIDER IP65
4x ROBE BMFL FOLLOWSPOT
6 x ROBE ROBOSPOT BASE STATION
9x GLP JDC1 LED STROBE
4x RJ FOLLOWSPOT LANCELOT 4000W HMI (2-5)
396x CAMEO FLAT PRO 12 G2 RGBWA LED FLOOD
68x CAMEO FLAT PRO 7 G2 RGBWA LED FLOOD
142x CAMEO ZENIT W600 RGBW LED FLOOD
62x CAMEO OTOS H5 HYBRID IP65
66x MARTIN MAC AURA XB WASH
53x PROLIGHTS ARENACOB 4 RGBW LED
37x PROLIGHTS PANORAMAIP WBX IP65
16x ASTERA AX5 LED PAR 8 HEAD KIT
5x LITEPANELS ASTRA 1X1 BI-COLOUR FLOOD
8x ROSCO DASH 
 
Control supplied by Version 2
9x GRANDMA3 PROCESSING UNIT M 4096
1x GRANDMA3 PROCESSING UNIT L 8192
1x GRANDMA3 PROCESSING UNIT XL 16384
6x LUMINEX GIGACORE 16RFO FIBRE SWITCH
4x LUMINEX GIGACORE 14R SWITCH
13x LUMINEX GIGACORE 10 SWITCH
20x LUMINEX LUMINODE 12 NODE
1x LUMINEX LUMINODE 4 NODE

Nigel Catmur’s Lighting team:
Lighting Designer: Nigel Catmur
Lead Programmer: Alex Mildenhall
Ably Assisted by: Martin Higgins
Keylight programmer and associate lighting director: Oliver Lifely
Media Programmer: Matt Lee
Wristband Programmer: Aaron Thomas from PixMob

Mark Gardiner’s tech crew:
Will Smith, Mark Steeds, John Murray, Will Gallegos, Jordan Narey, Fran Conte, Leslie Fazi, Shane Aldred, David Genge, Mim Spencer, Jake Harrison, Malcolm Wells, Mark Clough, Aaron Stephens. 

Pro Spot’s followspot crew:
Dave Scrivens, Karen Hilton, Tim Soden, Catherine Walton, Stuart Tayler, Chris Butler, Ant Wilson, Chris Barnard, Nejlah Shaddouh, Lynsey Webb.
 
Version 2 team:
Account Manager: Joe Marter
Assistant Project Manager: Ollie Perry
Technical Manager: Sam Crook 

Links:
www.v2lights.co.uk
www.ncld.net/ncld.htm
www.markgardiner.co.uk
www.pro-spot.co.uk

Report written by Julie Harper
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