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Robe ramps up the horsepower for Equitana

Equitana is a four‐day equine extravaganza staged every two years at Melbourne Showground in Australia celebrating the spirit and passion of Australian equestrians and the integral place that horses play in Australian hearts, minds, history, culture, and society. The last such event was in 2018 as the 2020 one was canned due to Covid, so this year, organisers GTR Events brought it back bigger, better, and more brilliant than before!

Lighting designer and technical producer for the event Marcus Pugh specified Robe ESPRITES and MegaPointes as primary moving lights on his lighting scheme for the 2022 ‘Mane Event’, a jaw‐dropping entertainment spectacle staged on the Mane Stage of the Grand Pavilion venue.

This all‐action night for all horse lovers showcased multiple horse‐based and related skills and featured numerous breeds and equine performers!

The Mane Event was presented by Australian horseman Guy McLean, known for his magnetic wit and charismatic personality as well as his almost supernatural connection with horses which delighted the 4,260‐capacity sold‐out audience for Mane Event.

Marcus also lit this show in2018 but in a different venue. The Grand Pavilion is a large 89 ft high 6‐pole ‘bigtop’ sty tensile membrane structure which is the Showgrounds’ centrepiece. In this case, a 70x30 metres and arena was created inside to accommodate all the horse activities.


Rigging–with6poles–is a major challenge and creativity is a must, so Marcus and the team from Melbourne based rental specialist Harry the Hirer Productions, who provided all the lighting, audio, vision, staging and rigging equipment, responded with great enthusiasm.

They designed a custom bridling system which has been engineered to take enormous horizontal loads off the King and Queen poles which enabled the installation of trusses spanning the 36 metres between the poles, plus a large central four‐sided LED which looked like it was suspended in space!

A diversity of lighting hardware was used including around150 moving lights of which the 24 x Robe ESPRITES and 18 x MegaPointes were the ‘workhorse’ fixtures.

ESPRITES have become a “go‐to” profile moving light for Marcus who thinks that MegaPointes are a perfect combination with them, and both sets of fixtures were rigged prominently in the side trusses between the king and queen poles.

The ESPRITES were used for highlighting and texturing parts of the arena and for throwing projections onto the tent skins which looked impressive.

Marcus thinks the output is “best in class,” with a great balance between output and beam quality.

The gobo set is usable in almost any application and the animation wheel design with the ‘wave edge’ is a stroke of genius and offers a unique look when half inserted. All of these very cool effects were used to transform the roof of the venue into a sea of patterns and colours. He mentions that they are great for lighting and keying faces and producing fantastic skin tones.

Harrythe Hirer Productions first bought ESPRITES in 2019, and at the time were one of the first rental companies in Australia to invest in Robe’s next generation LED moving light technology. Marcus has been using them solidly ever since.

Four additional ESPRITES were deployed on the two RoboSpot systems – two per BaseStation – offering scope to follow what were often extremely fast‐moving targets with horses galloping around the arena. Marcus appreciates the ease of use and flexibility that RoboSpot brings to a show, “You don’t have to rig any follow spot towers, so that also saves time on the build,” he noted.

The RoboSpot ESPRITES were rigged on special trusses attached to the main tent poles, and when not being used forfollowing, were repurposed for other tasks while lighting the main show ‐ another very handyfeature of running a RoboSpot system.The operators were located backstage.

RoboSpots have been another great value purchase for Harry the Hirer Productions, equipment also acquired in 2019 and supplied by Robe’s Australian distributor, Jands. They now rarely use conventional follow spots.

MegaPointes are Marcus’s first choice of beam moving light and have been for sometime. “They’re fantastic for all the big accents and WOW moments!” he enthused, adding that 24 x MegaPointes is enough to create serious visual impact!

They were all on the side trusses rigged between the big top’s king and queen poles.

Marcus designed and managed the lighting, audio and video systems with grandMA 3 programming by Cam McKaige and Chad Spenser.

Photos © Kattelyn Nash


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