Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – Lighting designer Koert Vermeulen, of Belgium-based consultancy ACTLD, utilized an entirely Vari-Lite moving light rig to create a versatile, stadium-scale design for the prestigious King Cup Final in Riyadh. His creation, for event producer Maestro Group, used no fewer than 350 fixtures from the pioneering brand, including some of its very latest models.

    Held in May at Riyadh’s King Fahd International Stadium, and attended by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the King Cup Final is Saudi Arabia’s national soccer final. The televised event included three separate entertainment shows, beginning with a five-minute pre-match entertainment featuring flying LED drummers, singer Abbas Ibrahim and 50 traditional dancers. Next, a 17-minute half-time show saw Saudi superstar Mohammed Abdu joined by over 100 performers, while the post-show entertainment covered both the Cup presentation ceremony and an hour-long set by Saudi popstar, Rabeh Sager.

    Vermeulen is no stranger to the challenges of designing on a stadium scale. Working closely with artistic director Haitham Dghaili of Maestro Group, he created a dynamic and flexible show lighting environment, with depth and texture, for both live audience and television cameras, encompassing the pitch and performance area, audience seating and the stadium structure itself.

    His toolkit included 100 of Vari-Lite’s new, feature-packed VL10 BeamWash luminaire, along with 100 fixtures from the LED source VLZ range, 50 of the popular large-format ‘searchlight’-style VL6000 Beams, 50 VL800 BeamLine rotating LED bars and 50 VL4000 BeamWash.
    Discussing his approach to this show design, he says, “We are collaborating with the artistic director Haitham Dghaili. It’s his vision we interpret. We deliver what is possible and then maybe add a few sparkles of our own on top. We have done bigger stages and bigger outdoor shows than stadiums, so in the end it’s about ratios. On your 13” laptop screen the plan has the same dimensions as a theatre, you just need to zoom in more to read the symbols!”

    Vermeulen positioned the 100 VL10 BeamWash luminaires around the outermost audience perimeter, to serve “as beam lights and eye candy” and to illuminate the stadium’s roof structure and canopies. This was Vermeulen’s first time using the VL10 and he was impressed by his experience. “The VL10 was a big surprise,” he says, “a real contender among the other fixtures on the market. It compares very well with them.”

    The VL800 BeamLines and VLZ Washes were positioned to provide a low backlight wash for the audience and as an effects source during the presentation ceremonies. He also placed 50 VL4000 Spot fixtures on the stadium floor, using beam-shaping to create ‘blades’ of light to illuminate the performers, without affecting the projections onto the pitch. The 70 VLZ Spots were rigged around the stadium in groups of six and eight, illuminating the pitch area. “The VLZs met my expectations,” said Vermeulen. “They performed very well.”

    Vermeulen concludes, “This was the first time in a very long time that I had a full Vari-Lite rig, and they delivered - even above my expectations. I have experienced now, first-hand, that Vari-Lite is back with some quality products.”

    King Cup Image 1
    King Cup Image 2
    King Cup Image 2
    King Cup Image 2
    Béjart Ballet Image 3 – Photo credits: © Gregory Batardon