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Bigger and brighter for KOI 2015

With new sponsors, new judges, new organisers and a new category The Knight of Illumination Awards 2015 is full steam ahead with its most exciting year yet.

This autumn, the Knight of Illumination Awards (KOI) returns to London’s glamorous art deco Troxy club for its annual glittering ceremony. Now in its 8th year, the pan-industry event is a celebration of the creative talents of international lighting and digital content designers working in the UK across TV, Theatre and Concert Touring and Events, and has swiftly become one of the most highly anticipated events in the industry calendar.

Each year the KOI grows thanks to high-profile industry sponsors, record numbers of submissions and, as of last year, national media attention, with the Guardian newspaper hailing it as the lighting industry’s very own major awards event.

Speaking of prominent sponsors, KOI stalwarts OSRAM, Robert Juliat, Ayrton, MA Lighting and XL Video show their support year after year with the 2015 incarnation no exception. And for the first time, FIX8Group and Light Initiative will be joining the roster, having been brought on board by this year’s new event management, The Fifth Estate.

The team are working on behalf of the KOI committee, comprising lighting manufacturer Clay Paky, the STLD (Society of Television Lighting and Design), the ALD Association of Lighting Designers) and award-winning lighting designer Durham Marenghi and his partner Jennie.

So, new year, new sponsors, and the for the first time ever the fresh recruits will be supporting the Awards in a more creative vein, with Light Initiative and FIX8Group designing and manufacturing special elements of the event itself.

Controllable LED specialists Light Initiative have big plans for the table centres on the night, details of which are very much under wraps until October rolls around, whilst innovative visual production house FIX8Group is working its magic on the Awards presentation.

KOI 2015 will also see a shake-up of judging panels, with new faces added to the 2015 process.

For Concert Touring and Events, editor of live event technology publication Total Production International (TPi) Kelly Murray and Financial Times arts pages production journalist David Cheal will join Coral Cooper, Scottie Sanderson and Chairman Sarah Rushton-Read.

“I’m very pleased to have been asked to be a KOI judge alongside some leading industry names in order to award recognition to the designers who are truly enhancing our experience of live music,”says Murray. “I’m looking forward to seeing the bespoke and beautiful paths these creative experts and technological artists will take during the 2015 season.”

Echoing this sentiment is David Cheal, who has been writing about music for more than 30 years. He began his career as a contributor to the weekly music paper Echoes in the 1980s before moving to The Daily Telegraph in 1990, where he spent 20 years contributing concert reviews, book reviews, features and interviews.

“I’m delighted to have been chosen as a judge for these awards. One of my first experiences of live music was, as a child, watching Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture with cannons and fireworks, which was a terrific introduction to the idea of a concert as a spectacle. I think the visual aspects of live music are vital to the whole experience, so this judging process will be a great chance to look more carefully at the importance of lighting.”

The Theatre category is also undergoing its biennial switch-up. Panels of senior critics from national newspapers and the leading specialist arts magazines serve a two year term, recommending the finest lighting work that they have seen personally up and down the country, under the guidance of Arts Desk critic and Chair David Benedict. This year Georgina Brown from the Mail on Sunday, Richard Fairman from the Financial Times and Mark Monaghan from the Daily Telegraph will be taking their turn, joining plays/musicals, opera and dance respectively.

Along with a widening of the panels comes a widening of the scope of recognition, which began last year with the introduction of a new ‘video’ award across all three categories.

“This award is so important as the worlds of lighting and video design now often cross paths and in some cases merge,” says Executive Director of the ALD Ian Saunders. “This requires lighting and video/projection designers to create an understanding and language in order to successfully combine the two disciplines.”

Continuing this appreciation that show design comes in all shapes and forms is KOI 2015’s new ‘club’ subcategory in Concert Touring and Events. Aiming to celebrate the achievements of lighting designers at all stages of touring and proposed to the committee by Sarah Rushton-Read, the category will recognise lighting designers who are often touring with new bands. As new bands equal tight budgets, the LDs often have just a floor package and a venue’s house rig to make an impact with.

“Often these designers that are touring club style venues have to be extremely resourceful and inventive to make their design work in every space,” says Rushton-Read. “A well thought out floor package can be key to the design’s success.”

In the same vein, the KOI Awards recognises TV lighting designers across the breadth of budgets and styles.

“There are many different styles of lighting for camera, and when there is only one lighting award it will inevitably go to large budget highly produced drama or the block-busting entertainment event, whereas most TV lighting designers do not work on that sort of production,” says Bernie Davis, TV category judge and member of the STLD. “With the inauguration of the Knight of Illumination Awards we were able to categorise more, separating out the eye-catching light entertainment series from the day-to-day small studio lighting, and the TV drama from the big one-off events. All these categories draw on different lighting skills and techniques, and are worthy of recognition.”

The new ‘club’ category in Concert Touring and Events is already shaping up to be a huge success, with submissions flooding in thick and fast. In fact, all three of the categories have been inundated with commendable shows, testament to the fact that KOI is the de facto ceremony for applauding the hard work and innovation of our industry. Cross your fingers that an invite drops into your inbox as it’s going to be an unmissable night.