Red Bull’s UAE team tell Sound & Stage how they cut a production rug of their own at this year’s BC ONE – UAE Cypher
Having toured the region and performed to thousands of urban dancing aficionados across the Middle East, Red Bull’s baddest B-Boys made a hip-hop stop off in the UAE this month to showcase their finest ‘breaking’ skills to a packed crowd at Dubai’s Desert Fish studios.
For the 16 young competitors, a chance to represent the UAE in Egypt’s regional final was up for grabs, and for Red Bull’s production teams – working with Access All Areas on the set up, and Air3 for filming - it was the opportunity to build on last year’s success with another show-stopping effort.
“The venue was completely different this time,” says Red Bull’s area communication Manager, Alberto Chahoud.
“Last year, the event took place at Soccer Circus in Mirdif City Centre. It was a confined space because we did it inside a miniature football stage, the surrounding netting for example, made it pretty difficult to bring in the production cameras.
Fortunately for Red Bull, the Desert Fish Studio provided just the location needed to wield their own brand of creativity, whilst also making the space the most conducive environment to the dance contest.
“This year was like a blank canvas,” Chahoud enthuses. “We had an empty warehouse which offered great opportunities. We were able to do things like paint walls, set up the seating arrangement, create a low platform stage. The bigger picture was the same, but this time we needed to create everything from scratch.”
As opposed to the last BC ONE outing in the UAE - where Red Bull’s production team admit the intention was to make the occasion as ‘grand’ as possible - this time around, the objective was to make the feel of the contest a uniformly more intimate one.
“Last year we had a higher raised platform, this year it was lower to the ground to give it a more authentic feel so people could get up close and personal with the performer,” Chahoud supports.
This level of proximity even extended to the type of lighting utilised by Access All Areas, putting the spotlight more on the performers, and achieving the right visuals for the moving images production. This meant white light illuminating the dance floor and - according to Chahoud, “coloured lights to focus on the crowd for ambience.”
While the constrictions of operating production on a football pitch hampered Red Bull’s set up last year, did Chahoud and everyone involved find any productional aspects tricky this time around?
“Well, it was in a warehouse with limited air-conditioning,” he states with a grimace.
“It was a completely closed environment, so we needed to invest in a cooling system and power generator to comfortably accommodate between 400 to 500 people, therefore giving us the upper hand in controlling the climate inside the venue and generating enough power to provide for the audio visual systems, production requirements and partner area requirements.”
While keeping the patrons pleasantly cooled was an issue, production had the troublesome task of setting up properly while maintaining the desired intimacy and proximity of the crowd to the action. A difficult factor compounded by having to correctly adhere to film production requirements and ensuring that all footage would be of the very highest quality.
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An objective apparently realised through Air3’s use of Steadicams, a 7D camera on a tripod at the front of stage, and an EX3 Camera mounted on a crane with a mic and audio feed.
Finally came the novel inclusion of mounted mini cameras, strategically placed along the floor level rigging, designed to capture the B-Boys’ more audacious moves from a lower poised angle.
“For that last part, Go Pro cameras were used,” Chahoud informs us. “The idea was to generate footage that the contestants could later use to analyze their battles, as well as making great footage for our final edit.
The end result creating -as described by Air3’s spokesperson Christine Atallah -something of a “time warp matrix effect.”
As anyone who’s ever witnessed professional break dancers in full flow will attest, this particular brand of rhythmic writhing has a tendency to ‘spill out’ across a given stage. Another consideration for Red Bull to grapple with when providing the dancers with enough room to flip, jump and -on occassion - somersault across.
“The stage was seven meters in diameter,” states Chahoud. “If it were too small it would be far too difficult to move on, and as breaking isn’t choreographed and the B-Boys don’t dance in a controlled space, it can make it really tricky. Fortunately we managed to get it right, allowing the guys to do their thing without any restrictions.”
With the question of space suitably answered, production also had to ensure the stage surface area allowed for the safe execution of the numerous daring dance moves, so the only thing getting bruised was the ego of the losing dancers.
“They can’t dance on all surfaces so we had to get the right material made for them to comfortably break on, without slipping or getting stuck on it,” adds Chahoud.
With a last minute issue with the venue resulting in pre-production being behind schedule, did the Red Bull find it a tall order to prepare the set in time for the contest?
“Well the event team started setting up the venue at 8pm the night before,” advances Chahoud. “First set up was complete by four, then restarted at 11am and finished at five pm on event day. This included painting the walls black, setting up circular platform with a 7-meter diameter, a seating area, an inclined ramp with a Ford Raptor on it and a DJ setup.”
So all in all, and after an intensely fought contest across the evening, it was the newly crowned BC-One winner that enjoyed the rapture and plaudits from all gathered round.
But as the lights faded and the crowds dispersed, Access All Areas, Air3 and Red Bull’s UAE team, all looked back on a collective job well done, rhythmically performed to their own beat.
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- DTS 2k fresnels
- ETC Source 4’s
- LED moving wash
- Clay Paky Alpha Beam
- EX3 Camera
- 7D Camera @ 50 fps
- Tripod Mounted 7D Camera
- Canon C100 Camera with a steadicam
- 7 x Go Pro Camera
- 7m circular truss
- EV speaker cabinets