BEYONCÉ Dazzles with 470 SGM X-5 Strobes

LeRoy Bennett designs one of the brightest shows ever

Two giants of the lighting world have come together to help provide a dazzling show for one of the world’s greatest artistes.

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The introduction of the groundbreaking X-5 LED strobes from Peter Johansen’s SGM provided all the inspiration necessary for multi-award winning production designer, LeRoy Bennett, to specify no fewer than 470 pieces for Beyoncé’s The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour — making it possibly the brightest show ever measured (in lux output) on a concert stage.

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The low-profile, lightweight X-5 is designed to deliver the same output as conventional strobes from one fifth of the power. Housing 2,970 LED’s, power consumption of 360W with lamp life of 50,000 hours, contained in a slim aluminium chassis, it is designed into three cells — to boost creativity.

These attributes had been brought to LeRoy’s attention by one of his partners, programmer Cory FitzGerald, and Randy Wade, who heads up SGM Inc, based in Houston, Texas. And so the designer decided to specify them for the first time.

“I was impressed by the combination of power consumption, brightness and rugged design,” LeRoy explained. “But I was particularly impressed by the fact that each strobe breaks down to three individual cells, enabling me to project very low res graphics as well a bright blasts of light and strobing,” he said. “Most of them are in a 4 x 4 block formation.”

These cells can be operated independently when fitted to the special brackets that enable them to be used in blocks for a perfectly spaced pixel blinder.

Lighting for the tour, which opens in Europe in mid-April before moving to the UK, and then hitting North America at the end of June, has been provided by Illinois-based rental company, Upstaging Inc — who are LeRoy Bennett’s supplier of choice. “They have the best back-up and are always more than 150% supportive of every project,” he says.

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John Huddleston from Upstaging, in turn, stated how impressed he was with the X-5. “It’s one of the first true plug and play effects we have purchased in a long time.  The fixture design is very ‘Apple’-like in its elegance and we are happy to be able to offer them in our inventory.”

At the same time the designer also had the X-5’s in mind for the next tour by industrial German metal band Rammstein (with local rental company Black Box Music supplying the lighting). This required a very different approach. And the tour budget became one of the significant drivers since additional generators will no longer need to be cost in, as would have been the case with conventional high power xenon strobes.

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“I always use quite a few strobes on Rammstein which takes up a lot of power,” he explained. “We use a lot of pars as well, so it is always a requirement for the band to tour with generators; the X-5’s have helped alleviate a lot of the issue with power.”

In summary, LeRoy Bennett says, “I find the SGM fixtures work great for visual interpretation of both Beyoncé’s and Rammstein’s music when powerful or sequenced moments happen. For Rammstein this needed to be big, bold and powerful — full-on rock that at the same time is visually entertaining.” He will also be scheduling  further X-5’s on the next Nine Inch Nails tour, which he described as “visually more hi-art minded,” as well as other upcoming tours.

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Over the years the designer has routinely come to rely on lighting solutions in which Peter Johansen has been the guiding hand — dating back to the early ‘1990s, when the Dane was also setting standards for the lighting industry.

Two decades and a generation on, LeRoy is quick to acknowledge that “once again Peter has created a very successful product!”

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