Eurovision.tv sat down with Erwin Rintjema, Head of Production at this year's Eurovision Song Contest, to talk all things tech. From 2020 preparations to what it was like to finally see the first artists hit the rehearsal stage, let's dig into this year's technical details.
This year in Rotterdam, Erwin and his team hit the floor running. The operation has been incredibly smooth, due in no small part to the preparation that was completed before the cancellation of the Contest in 2020.
'You're full speed ahead, and then all of a sudden you look around like, now what should we do?' Erwin told us.
But all was not lost; the team took quick action to make sure they were ready to pick up again as soon as it was possible.
'We tried to finish up all we were doing in terms of schedules and documents to be ready when we could go ahead with 2021. Luckily, fairly quickly, we knew we could continue, and we had a good solid base for this year's production.
We created a blueprint template for the technical production in which all four scenarios would work. This was the biggest challenge in general, but it was helpful because it meant we could start preparing before the EBU determined the final scenario.'
The technical production team of 25 have been in Rotterdam for over a month already and is excited about the modern and innovative production they're building. The crew has been busy hooking up hundreds of kilometres worth of cables and unpacking over 200 trucks of equipment.
For comparison, the biggest production Erwin’s team has put on in Rotterdam Ahoy had around 250 rigging points in the roof... this year's Contest has 600, almost triple the usual amount, plus 1,800 automated lights.
Erwin's technical know-how is what brings the Eurovision stage to life...
Inspired by Dutch design
Florian Wieder, Stage Designer for the Eurovision Song Contest 2021, told us more about the inspiration for the stage:
‘The entire design was inspired by Dutch design, understated, beautiful and a little more simple. One of the benefits of this is that it can achieve many different looks with its many hidden features. This stage can do a lot.’
One of the unique features of this year’s stage is the screen that towers over it, 52 meters in length and 12 meters high!
‘The screen is wider than the floor itself, in fact, so it had to be built to cross into the tiered seating on the sides of the stage to make it happen,’ Florian explained, adding: ‘fans should be on the lookout for the different way the screen will… open up.’
‘We have a stage design that is beautiful but also clean and open, so we've tried to challenge delegations to make it their own. It's like a clean palette - it can be big and bold, and it can also be small and theatrical.’
Of course, the stage and the technical production are integral to bringing a delegation's dreams to life. Erwin has to plan for props so detailed and vast that they need to be placed on stage within a millimetre of their planned position to work.
But it's equally challenging task to put on something more intimate, as our Head of Production explains:
If you have a performance with 1,800 lights that are all moving and flashing, if one of them is not exactly where it's supposed to be, no one will notice. But we have minimalistic performances where they are only using 5 lights, so if one of them is not exactly where it's supposed to be, it will be very noticeable. So we've been spending a lot of time on both the very big acts as well as the very small acts.
For Erwin, watching the performances come together on stage after so long is truly magical.
'It's been so quiet for more than a year with this and with the rest of my work, I can tell you, the first technical rehearsal that we did, goosebumps everywhere! I think the next big thing will be hearing an audience again. That is going to be huge for everybody.'