Henry V: FocusTrack at the Michael Grandage Season
20th February 2014

Jude Law as Henry V

FocusTrack has been helping keep the lighting for Henry V, starring Jude Law, in peak condition during the show's acclaimed, smash-hit, sold-out run at London's NoŰl Coward Theatre.

The last in a year-long series of productions by director Michael Grandage, formerly artistic director of the Donmar Warehouse, Henry V was designed by Christopher Oram, with the lighting designed by Neil Austin.

During the preview period, FocusTrack was deployed by programmer Rob Halliday to create a complete, detailed record of the focuses of both the moving lights (six ETC Revolutions, ten DHA Digital Light Curtains) and the entire conventional rig. To achieve this, the showfile was taken from the Eos console and imported into FocusTrack, this revealing which moving light positions and which conventional lights were used in the show - as a bonus allowing unused fixtures to be cut and removed from the rig.

In a morning focus plotting session, a camera and laptop were then positioned in the centre of the theatre's second circle. The laptop was configured with FocusTrack controlling the lighting console, allowing each moving light in each position and then each conventional light to be turned on and photographed automatically and at high speed.

Once that process was completed for the entire rig - which took less than an hour - additional focus photographs of the rig's crosslight were taken from the fixture's point of view and also added to FocusTrack, giving an accurate record of the sidelight focus both front and side.

The entire process was completed in just a couple of hours, to the amazement of Derek Anderson, the associate lighting designer on the show who had also been involved with earlier shows in the season - he immediately commented that similar focus plotting session on those shows, using other techniques, had dragged on all day...

Once completed by the addition of cue state photographs, the show documentation was printed to PDFs and handed over to the show crew in the theatre for reference on their computers, phones or tablets. On receiving the documentation, Sharron Sando-Newman, the NoŰl Coward's chief electrician, commented that FocusTrack had delivered the most complete show documentation the theatre's crew had seen.

"As it has on so many of my shows, FocusTrack proved to be the perfect way of documenting the production lighting quickly, efficiently and, most importantly, accurately," comments Neil Austin. "This is critical in allowing the crew running the show to precisely maintain the lighting we've spent so much time creating. It has also proved its worth over and over again as shows have transferred to other venues or when having to adapt rigs for touring. I consider it an indispensible tool."

"Working with Rob and Neil is always great as they are such a strong team," comments James Bierman, the Michael Grandage Company's Producer. "The FocusTrack system they used on Henry V is an incredibly quick and efficient way of capturing their work and enabling the rest of the lighting team to maintain it every night for our run. It's a very powerful bridge from the creative process to the brilliant show every night we all strive for."

Further information about Henry V and the work of the Michael Grandage Company can be found at www.michaelgrandagecompany.com.

Henry V is just one of countless productions around the world making use of FocusTrack, other recent shows including Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, The Bridges of Madison County and Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella in New York, Once and Evita on tour around the US, Les MisÚrables and Billy Elliot in London as well as productions by Blue Man Group and Cirque du Soleil.

Henry V starring Jude Law, photographer: Johan Persson.