LD Tim Lutkin relies on Martin fixtures for Olivier Award winning Life of Pi design
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LD Tim Lutkin relies on Martin fixtures for Olivier Award winning Life of Pi design

All photos by Johan Persson

The critically-acclaimed new production of Life Of Pi in London’s West End was the recent winner of no fewer than 5 Olivier Awards, including Best Lighting Design. To bring his magical design to life, Lighting Designer Tim Lutkin chose to use three core Martin fixtures; the MAC Encore, MAC Aura XB, and JEM Glaciator Dynamic.

All fixtures were supplied by Sparks Theatrical, with Tim Lutkin’s team including Associate LD and Programmer Elliot Smith, and Production Technician Theo Chadha.

“The MAC Encore CLD is the only moving head profile used in the production.” Tim explains. “We’re using two as manual follow-spots, and a further 18 in the rig acting as the workhorses of all the lighting.

“We’re using absolutely all their versatility; as follow spots with a soft edge, for traditional theatre shuttered framing, for beautiful water effects, and big deep colour washes. We even point them into the house with their sharp star gobo for concert-style aerial effects.”

The MAC Encores are paired with 18 Martin MAC Aura XBs, themselves the only wash fixture used in the production. Tim describes the MAC Encore and MAC Aura XB combination as being the perfect pairing. “They sit so well together in terms of brightness and colour balance.”

Projection is used extensively in the production with Tim explaining how the combination of projection and lighting work together for maximum effect. “We’re using projection for high-contrast, detailed images, whilst the Aura XBs provide a saturated subtle background, and the Encores at their different angles add depth and a beautiful vibe. It’s the combination of projection and lighting together that delivers the look.”

Atmospherics are also crucial to the show, for which Tim turned to Martin’s JEM Glaciator Dynamic to provide easy to deploy haze effects crucial for many scenes. “The Glaciators provide an excellent low smokey look.” says Tim. “They are providing the mist for all the at-sea scenes. They are actually positioned in the basement with their ducting running 10ft almost vertically to the stage which we thought would never work - but they absolutely did! Truly without the Glaciators the show would be lacking so much visually – they've been a total hit.”

Finally, Tim explains his specification of Martin fixtures by praising the build quality and smart, consistent appearance. “I like to keep my rig as neat as possible. By specifying Martin’s universal staples, maintenance is kept simple and there is an overall consistent look to the rig. Plus a lot of energy is put into the front of house aesthetic of Cameron Macintosh theatres so Martin’s smart design is also important.”

But the LD’s most effusive praise is reserved for when he returns to the MAC Encore itself:

Whenever you turn on an Encore you know someone has put their heart and soul into designing it. Everything is just right, the levels, the colour palette, the user experience, the care and details. It's just a beautiful moving head for theatre and for me the obvious choice.

Discover more abut Tim Lutkin's work here: https://www.timlutkin.co.uk/

Based on the best-selling novel by Yann Martel, adapted by Lolita Chakrabarti and directed by Max Webster, Life Of Pi is playing now at The Wyndham's Theatre in London's West End.


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