Song Contest 1993 was broadcast live from the Green Glens Arena, Millstreet,
Co. Cork on May 15 to an international audience of over 300,000,000.
Work on the project commenced in September 1992 with a feasibility report
highlighting the staging difficulties of the Millstreet arena.
Addressing the main problem of lack of height in the venue led to two key
features of the final design, namely a three foot excavation of the area
under the stage to accommodate underfloor lighting and a 60' wide tilted
ceiling piece to allow cameras to shoot wide and high without shooting
off the set.
The entire floor area was lit from underneath by architectural lighting
units spaced 6" apart and gelled alternately red, green and blue. These
colours could then be mixed to produce a limitless palette.
The construction needed to accommodate the underfloor lighting was complex.
A substructure of "alubeams" supported a grid of custom made clear polycarbonate
"i-beams" within which the architectural lighting tubes were installed.
On top this was laid 2 layers of box-section polycarbonate in opposing
directions to give enough support for a concert grand piano. A third layer
of thin textured polycarbonate was used to further diffuse the light.
The 3' excavation under the stage was necessary to accommodate this construction,
to allow access for replacement of faulty lighting units and to create
enough airspace to disperse the considerable heat generated by the lighting
units. A specially installed cooling plant was also required to ensure
the floor remained cool. The temperature was monitored throughout rehearsals
and the show by means of sensors under the floor.
The upstage section of the stage was ramped to meet the ceiling piece at
a single point and incorporated a concealed doorway operated hydraulically
which dropped to form an entrance walkway on-stage for presenter Fionnuala
The ceiling piece was designed to mirror the shape of the floor area of
the set then tilted in two planes creating a varying aspect on camera when
seen from different angles. Internal lighting channels matched those of
the floor while mirror finished inset panels reflected the floor lighting
itself. Alternate spaces between the channels were left void to facilitate
backlighting of the performers.
Two solid textured wings framed the main set, the camera right unit doubling
as a backing to the presenter position and incorporating fibre-optic lighting.
The orchestra was positioned camera left of performance area in a three
foot deep orchestra pit.
A twenty foot high backlit cyclorama surrounded the entire stage area allowing
for a high key look to the background or a completely dark look as required.
Two giant video screens either side of the stage showed program output
for the benefit of the live audience and the computer generated scoreboard
during the voting sequence.