Three days ago we shared the latest images of the Eurovision 2018 stage on our social media accounts. One image showed the stage straight on, while another looked at the stage at an angle. The latter image showed the green room at the back of the audience.
The newly released images set off a wave of discussion both on our official Facebook page and Instagram account, and much of it returned to the fact that the Eurovision 2018 stage will not feature LEDs — a fact designer Florian Wieder recently confirmed on Facebook.
Ahead of Eurovision 2013, Martin Österdahl, the executive producer of that year’s show, said that LEDs were reducing the emotional connection between artists and viewers. He added that SVT wanted to end the “technical arms race” at the show. While their stage did feature graphics, it did not utilise LED screens, opting instead for a different technology.
”There is nothing left to tell when it comes to big LED screens and a fantastic amount of flashing lights,” he said the autumn before the show. “This means that the camera angels have to be taken from a big distance, which means that the artists become very small. There is a very large distance and between them and the background there is a lot of air. We don’t get enough emotional engagement and I believe that people have begun to realise this – consciously and unconsciously but actually more consciously”.
”This is what made Loreen stand out. When the background was turned off, you could get much closer to her and see her eyes. The words that she sang started to mean something. One develops a connection and a relationship is created, and this is completely decisive. I absolutely believe that this is the way forward”.
But the LED battle rages, and many of our readers were left unimpressed with the comments above.
Writing on our Facebook page Harrison said: “What a dumb excuse. If the artists don’t want to use the LED then they can choose not to, like Loreen did, but with this stage [in Lisbon] they have no choice and it’s going to be so restrictive on staging.”
And while Sergey and Måns later brought their own mini-screens to Eurovision, not every artist can afford to do so.
Writing on our Facebook page, Omar isn’t impressed either. “Not all countries want to play Salvador Sobral’s way… Not everyone is having an intimate and soft or sweet song, I think the early reveal of the stage and having no LED will encourage more countries to NOT select amazing acts and performances…”
“Can you imagine someone from Melodifestivalen trying to replicate their performance in Lisbon? This justification is just an excuse to reduce the cost of the stage, we’re going back to 2010, where a lot of countries had to bring their own scenography (Azerbaijan, Croatia) and we will see a lot of dancers and background singers, since the acts will try to fill the space with lots of people (well, 6). It’s too radical Portugal, I like you, but you have to convince me.”
@_fabio_v expressed his dismay on our Instagram rather pithily: “ugh whyy. It’s not 2010 anymore.”
Not everyone is down on the stage. Indeed, there’s plenty of love for it across social media.
Gabriela thinks people forget there was life — glorious life! — before LEDs came to partly define Eurovision.
“Before LEDs were even introduced we still had powerful and awesome visual performances,” she wrote on our Facebook page. “Also, there is some truth in artists becoming small and invisible — especially considering the fact that many fans watch Eurovision online — on computers, smartphones — with screens a lot smaller than usual TV.”
Gevorg points out that even recent performances have been amazing with limited use of the LED.
“Armenia in 2016 Iveta’s performance — not any special led effects, just a cool video production…every country needs his own Sacha Jean Baptiste.”
Where do you stand in the divide? Do you think the stage — and more importantly the acts — can still dazzle even without the LEDs we’ve seen in recent years? Do you think that designers still have some tricks up their sleeves that we can look forward to.