EUROVISION 2014 : Challenges of a Stage in the Middle of the Arena

Danish Broadcaster DR begin to outline their thoughts for Eurovision 2014. Photograph courtesy of Wikipedia

Danish Broadcaster DR begin to outline their thoughts for Eurovision 2014. Photograph courtesy of Wikipedia

Plans for Eurovision 2014 are gaining speed now. With recent appointments of key staff to the show’s team (see here) and DR showing their excitement for the creation of “Eurovision Island” – they have now announced that they are considering placing the stage for Eurovision 2014 in the center of the vast B&W Hallerne!

Head of Show – Jan Lagermand Lundme – has said “Right now we are working to place the stage right in the middle of B&W Hallerne, where the party will take place, because the stage will then become an island and a center. It is here the participants will shine and here we will come together”.

One cannot deny that placing the stage in the centre of the arena would be a first for Eurovision. However are there challenges for DR (Danish National Broadcaster) in undertaking such a project.

  • Backdrop – This will be probably the biggest creative challenge to the plan of placing the stage in the centre of the arena. As you can see in all editions of Eurovision, the backdrop of the stage is used to create a unique look and atmosphere for each performance. Could you have imagined “Lipstick” or “Fairytale” having the same visual impact without the stage backdrop to project their striking images?
  • If a stage is in the center of the arena, you will be dependent on the much further hall walls themselves to create a backdrop. This will call for more long shot and wide-screen shots to get that effect. Again more challenging.
  • With an island stage you will potentially call on performers to sing to the arena audience – which should be last thing on their minds. Too many Eurovision singers make the classic mistake of performing to the several thousand fans in the hall and not the camera (where the Jury and Public Audience are). However with a sea of fans surrounding you –  you may just have to do that. What if Zlata had found herself performing on a central stage? I certainly think she would not have sung her song from the stationary position of her rock. Would they have lost the impact of her performance?
  • Lighting becomes key if you are placing the stage in the center of the arena. In order to make the show and songs interesting to the TV audience, DR will have to concentrate on lighting as their creative platform. It becomes more difficult to employ pyrotechnics if you have people surrounding the stage – especially if you use them as often as countries do at Eurovision. Can lighting be enough to help make each performance stand out?
  • What of the fans? Many fans may find themselves having to watch Eurovision live in the hall from behind the performer? Even if they change the stage performance positions of each performer you run the chance of only having a quarter of the live performances directly in front of you. We appreciate this is a TV show first and foremost – but for the thousands of fans who will spend several thousand Euro/Pounds etc to travel to Copenhagen to see the show – might they be wise to look at the show from a screen to get the full impact?
  • Logistics get that little more challenging. Getting acts, instruments and props on stage need to be slick and ingenious. In Baku we had a slightly similar situation. Acts and their instruments/props entered stage left and exited center stage. During the interval act including all the former Eurovision Winners, you had the singers standing right in the middle of the audience waiting to enter the stage. Fans were shocked and overjoyed at the same time. People asking for photographs is not the ideal scenario for artists as they prepare to sing in front of 170 million plus tv viewers. So this process will have to be repeated over 121 times at a minimum. Let’s just say 34 semi finalists that will have to do a Jury Voting Dress Rehearsal and then life show, Then a 25 song Grand Final Jury Voting Dress Rehearsal and Live Show – plus 3 interval acts that will be performed twice each also. That is 121 times that DR have to navigate hundreds of people and props on and off stage potentially through an audience. If you are a stage manager you have a tough job next year.
  • However the possibilities are immense for a creative show using the island stage concept. At the London 2012 Olympics we saw how the audience were used in the opening and closing ceremonies to greatest effect with the automated lights by their seats. If DR were to give each fan a card that illuminates when lights shine on it – that could look amazing. Malmo gave us wrist bands this year – well that concept could be expanded. Options there.

We certainly think that DR have big ideas for Eurovision 2014 that excite fans of all ages. “Eurovision Island” promises a lot while at the same time posing some sleepless nights for the Shows team.

Tell us here at Eurovision Ireland or on Twitter @EurovisionIrela what your initial thoughts are on the “Eurovision Island” theme for the Eurovision 2014 stage? Are you an Islander of a Main-lander at heart?

Author/Website co-founder and Editor In Chief Garrett Mulhall

Source : DR and Eurovision Ireland

2 replies »

  1. I can’t express with mere words how much I deplore the idea of putting the stage in the middle of the arena. When did this bizarre notion take root in the minds of Europe’s (and Eurasia’s) TV producers that Eurovision should be all about the live audience? Each edition of the event seems to bend itself in knots attempting to make the fans a more integral part of the production, and it’s one of the reasons that my love of the contest has waned in recent years. The live audience should be there to add atmosphere, not to steal focus. It’s a song contest; the artists should be centre stage, not the flag-waving lunatics who populate the arena (and every single bloody camera angle). This news does not bode well…

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