Lighting design (December 2007)
Brighton-based Renegade is a lighting design company with a difference. TPi meets its main men, Nick Gray and Jonny Gaskell
A fusion of the creative and business skills of Nick Gray and Jonny Gaskell, Renegade is the effect of the combination of their different lighting disciplines that offers an alternative approach for their growing client roster.
A rock’n’roll purist, Gaskell has designed the lighting for some of the most influential bands of the last decade, including Primal Scream, Fatboy Slim, Richard Ashcroft and Catatonia. Meanwhile, Gray’s experience of lighting some of the most challenging fashion shows, product launches and corporate events offers a powerful synergy.
Renegade was formed five years ago when Gray decided to channel his nine years of experience at Event Lighting into his own business. Having worked his way up the ladder from a warehouse technician to the position of senior designer, he felt it was time to set up on his own and so Renegade was born.
A chance meeting with Gaskell in Event Lighting’s foyer just before Gray’s departure was to change everything. Ironically, Gaskell was going for an interview for Nick’s role. He was looking to spend more time at home with his family whilst still applying his skills to high quality productions. So they decided to pool their skills sets and join forces.
A year later, Gaskell joined Gray at Renegade, and three years on, their business partnership continues to push boundaries, mixing their unique styles with cutting edge technology. It could be said that the company was formed out a mutual passion for music.
Renegade has developed an enviable position, focusing on fashion, music and corporate events. Building a reputation for innovative and unique concepts, Gaskell and Gray have worked with leading production houses and management companies. Recent projects include Groove Armada’s finale world tour, the launch of Calvin Klein’s 2008 collections and 3 Mobile’s conference and after-party.
As a lighting design ‘house’, Renegade calls on specialist rental houses to supply its specified equipment. “We have a great working relationship with several companies,” explained Gray. But conscious of standing out and offering new design alternatives, he added: “As the design of most new moving lights seem to have been merely the upgrading of already available technology, we have succeeded to incorporate other aspects of lighting into our designs.”
The company has recently been using a wide array of LED-based lighting from i-Pix Satellites, PixelLines and Palcos to LED video screens, which particularly add a new dimension to the design of its larger rock’n’roll shows.
Products from Element Labs including its Versa Tubes and the new MiTrix LED screens from Barco were integrated into the design for Groove Armada’s sensational finale gig at Brixton Academy. Offering an alternative to projection, MiTrix is a lightweight, modular semi-transparent screen, which allows lighting and other effects to shine through when turned off. This gives the look of the show more depth adding dynamic and exciting effects.
Deploying the new 180 high definition Versa Tubes for the first time in the UK, they provide the perfect complement to the MiTrix screens, and offer double the LED capacity to provide exceptional clarity to the video content, whilst contrasting with the high resolution imagery provide by the screens.
Fashion shows including London Fashion Week, Top Shop’s summer fashion shows and, most recently, the World Of Calvin Klein show are generally treated very differently. A great deal of flexibility is needed as the venues chosen are often challenging with low ceilings and a lack of rigging points.
Gray explained: “We often incorporate T5 Softlights, which create a diffused even coverage for lower ceilings. In larger venues with the facility to rig trusses overhead and front-light the models, we’d prefer to use a rig of variable lensed ETC Source Fours, which enable us to shutter the catwalk, creating a stunning ambience of the audience.”
This formula was highlighted recently when Renegade was appointed by 9PR to help launch Calvin Klein’s 2008 Spring Collections. Having worked with 9PR several times before, this brief — inspired by 2001 Turner Prize winner Martin Creed in collaboration with Calvin Klein — was possibly one of the most challenging.
For corporate events including film premieres, product launches and private showcases, Gray and Gaskell employ a very different treatment. Combining the latest LED fixtures with old favourites such as Vari*Lites and most generic fixtures, Renegade always looks to add bold colours and subtle movement. Another signatory aspect is the way the company adds interior prop lamps to these sets.
Many of the larger events’ designs consist of a mixture of theatrical lamps and prop lighting. Most popular are vintage chandeliers and floor-based Arco lamps from Flos as are items from Tom Dixon’s Mirrorball range. Generally, such prop lighting is hired from SHOK London.
Gaskell and Gray believe that lighting can either make or break an event; the colours that are chosen create the ambience and choosing the wrong ones can be fatal. Given the high professional standard of set design and construction these days, lighting plays a major role in creating the feel and illusion of an event’s whole look.
Working with Andy Cobb of Sculptivate on 3 Mobile’s after-show party for event producer GSP, Renegade suggested painting the main dance area black and using UV paint brought out an eclectic atmosphere, augmented by a fleet of moving lights, whilst a powerful combination of PixelLines added to the overall effect.
Commented Gray: “We’re fortunate that most of our corporate clients bring us in at an early pitch stage to work alongside their appointed set designer to add our ideas to the initial concepts. This has been the case in the rock’n’roll industry for a long while and we’ve been successful with these designs on tours including The Verve, Fatboy Slim, Orbital and The Magic Numbers.”