Maybe it’s because of its defiantly optimistic tone, smooth melody, dramatic minor third up key change flourish in its last chorus, or all of the above. Whatever the reason, Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer” has been embedded in our collective musical psyche since its release on February 14, 1987.
It seems that everyone, from the Royal Philharmonic to Alvin and the Chipmunks (not to mention numerous rock and pop stars) has recorded cover versions of this ’80s anthem. None of them, however, have been quite like the music video released by 2CELLOS.
Their bows feverishly jumping off the strings of their instruments, Luka Šulić and Stjepan Hauser, the Croatian cellists who make up the group, mange to push the oft-played rock classic to new levels of intensity. Reflecting the driving force of their performance visually throughout the 4 minute and 21 second video is a dynamic and intricately layered light show by Crt Birsa of Slovenia-based Blackout Lighting Design.
Running the 6-universe, 126 fixture, time-coded show on his ChamSys Magic! MQ80 console, Birsa created myriad patterns of light to play off the music video’s unique venue: a 33-meter long tunnel in a former military warehouse. To focus the viewer’s attention firmly on the geometry of the setting, he kept his color palettes simple.
“I didn’t want to go multicolor,” he said. “Basic palettes were the most well-suited for this venue. Patterns and movement were what I relied on to visualize the music in a way that stood out.
“The venue is different from others I’ve worked at,” continued Birsa. “My goal was to enhance the geometry of the structure itself. The great length and circular shape of the site guided my ideas on where to put the lights and what to show at different times.”
To accent the architecture of the venue, Birsa minimized the visibility of the fixtures themselves, positioning most of them on the sides of the cylindrical structure, hanging a few overhead (there were limited hang points) and using the remainder to create a blinding wall of light at the end of the tunnel.
Birsa notes that the Time Code and Cue Editing features his ChamSys MagicQ MQ80 were critically important to the success of his show, which was programmed with WYSIWIG R45.
“The Time Code feature is very supple and exact,” he said. “We had precisely timed cues to accent key moments throughout the video. As we did the video, it was also sometimes essential to make changes to cues quickly. This is very easy to do with ChamSys.”
A longtime ChamSys user, Birsa explained why he feels comfortable taking the console to projects like the Livin’ On A Prayer music video.
“The MQ80 is a compact unit, but its powerful enough for elaborate jobs, and it’s a straight forward console to run,” he said. “For me, it’s the perfect console to take it on the field when I have a pre-programmed show and all I have to do is make some corrections. It also has UPS inside, which is most useful when you run the whole system by generator. If it runs out of fuel or something else happens, you have the chance to save the show and shut down securely. Really, this console has never let me down.”
So, while the idea of “living on a prayer” may suffice for the young lovers in the Bon Jovi hit, a designer looking to light a memorable music video needs something more tangible – like a reliable, flexible and robust console.