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Southern Lighting Solutions lights up Germany's biggest reality show

21/05/2018

On the set of Deutschland Sucht Den Superstar (DSDS)

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SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE: December 2017 saw some 100 plus German crew and contestants from Germany's most popular Reality TV show DSDS, descend into sunny South Africa for their Top 25 Recall shoot.

Deutschland Sucht Den Superstar (DSDS), which roughly translates to Germany Seeks the Superstar, is RTL Networks German version of the popular Idols franchise. Now in its 15th Season, DSDS looks at ways of making the ever-popular show even more exciting. Previous seasons have been shot in exotic locations like the jungles of South America, the heli-pad of the Burj Al Arab, and in front of the world's tallest building, Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

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So how do you top that? Well, how about shooting in the middle of the Pilanesberg Game Reserve, amongst the BIG 5?

Southern Lighting Solutions (SLS) were contacted by lighting designer, David Kreileman (dk Design) to provide lighting equipment and technical support to the production team from DSDS for their South African leg of the shoot. David is one of Europe's top TV lighting designers, with many big name shows under his belt, including, Dancing with the Stars, Germany's Got Talent, The Bachelor, and many more.

David requested that SLS join the production team on a three-day recce, to go through all possible locations and setups. Freelance gaffer Andre Beumer and I - Sean Boyce, Southern Lighting Solutions' technical director - joined the team to scout some 20 plus locations in the Pilanesberg Game Reserve, Black Rhino Reserve and Sun City. Amassing large amounts of technical information in a short amount of time was needed for the shoots. This ranged from lighting requirements, power distribution, grips and rigging to location access provisions and crew management.

Andre and I worked closely with David in the following weeks to ensure lighting plans, equipment quantities and crew numbers would match the design requirements. They also had to keep the producer happy by staying in budget, which in today's entertainment industry is almost never possible.

With equipment, crew and transport assembled, the SLS team were ready for DSDS. The gear selected for the various locations was meticulously researched to ensure the equipment gave the production the best results for the budget provided.

The Contest Village at Black Rhino Lodge would be the home of the contestants for most of their stay. Here, they would have rehearsal rooms and lounge areas at their disposal to enable them to perfect their performances. Groups of contestants were placed in lodges all connected by bushveld pathways. SLS was requested to light all areas well enough for the ENG crews to film in, but to also to enhance the natural beauty of the lodge. The impending arrival of the contestants and inclement weather meant the crew worked well into the night, through downpours and the sound of jackals near the lodge fence, to ensure all lighting was ready in time.

David had originally specified incandescent parcans to light up the trees and bushveld surrounding the lodge. However, with the sheer quantity that would be needed, we quickly agreed that powerful LED parcans would be a better choice. The SuperSolar RGBW Zoom cans were the perfect lights for the application. These are IP65 rated and have great quality light output - 70 units were used.

Next up was to light the pathways. David suggested the Osram 50w warm white LED Vance flood lights. The fixtures create a soft yet powerful light for a compact, waterproof, 50watt LED flood light. The multitude of long pathways and entrances to the lodges meant 40 units were attached to trees along the routes.

The music and rehearsal rooms were lit with a mixture of 1kw and 2kw Jemballs outside, while we matched light quality inside with Chinese lanterns and photo flood globes. The ENG crew made use of Rosco Silk 110 LED Panels for additional lighting.

The DSDS production team picked out two magnificent locations for shooting Elimination Rounds. The first was at a popular area of the Pilanesberg Game Reserve, the Hippo Loop, at the waters' edge of the Mankwe Dam - the lowest point of an ancient volcano. Here the crew and contestants were protected by a team of game rangers who ensured their safety from the surrounding wildlife.

At this location, the lighting designer required lighting to work with the natural South African sun. A mixture of 6kw and 4kw Cinepars were requested along with 12 12 and 8 8 Bounce textiles. Power would be an issue as we needed special permission to bring the 100kvA generator truck into the reserve. It exceeded weight limits and size for the little game reserve's roads. Rangers blocked off the Hippo Loop area to the general public and kept a watchful eye on the imposing herd of hippos.

The gear remained the same for the second of the two Elimination Rounds.

The second venue was again tricky to access. An eight ton lighting truck and a 100kvA generator truck navigating dirt roads, made for 4 4 access, required the drivers to do some skilful manoeuvring to make their way through the bushveld landscape of the Black Rhino Reserve, which borders the Pilanesberg.

A second lighting team from SLS loaded up another eight ton truck with the lighting and rigging equipment required for the Sun City Palace and Amphitheatre locations.

The crew were given two days to setup and program the Final Elimination round in the amphitheatre. This proved to be quite a challenge. The area stayed open to Sun City guests and the crew had to contend with the elements in the outdoor venue. The summer thunder storms meant the crew had their work cut out for them. With little time remaining, the last of the cabling was completed and the rig was fired up. Following the Black Rhino shoot, we focused lights a
LINK: http://www.screenafrica.com/2018/05/21/technology/film-tv-video-produc...
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