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44 Designs Takes ArKaos MediaMaster Pro on Tour

44 Designs Takes ArKaos MediaMaster Pro on Tour
44 Designs Takes ArKaos MediaMaster Pro on Tour

Belgium - Popular husband-and-wife Country duo and reigning ACM Vocal Duo of the Year, Thompson Square, has spent this summer taking their Just Feels Good Tour across North America under a canopy of video screens and moving lights controlled by ArKaos MediaMaster Pro. The spectacular stage and lighting design was the brainchild of Jeff Lava of 44 Designs and lighting designer, Larry Foote.

44 Designs was introduced to MediaMaster Pro by A.C. Lighting, Inc. during a demo at 44 Design's Nashville office earlier this year. 44 Designs promptly selected MediaMaster Pro to control the intricate video system on their next project.

“For Thompson Square I wanted to create something that would introduce a modern architectural design into a conventional concert venue space and present the audience with something that would look good lit or unlit,” says Jeff Lava, founder of 44 Designs. Lava instituted eighteen video panels composed of PixelFLEX Screens in metal frames which were rigged in four rows above the band and offset in depth and alignment. Massive visuals were played across these throughout the show to form the mainstay of the design.  

Key to the imposing visual aspect was the treatment of the video content which Lava and Foote agreed should be treated as a ‘separate piece of art’ for each song.

“We worked closely with Keifer and Shawna Thompson to come up with a different look for each song. But with a 15-song set list and only three weeks to get it together, we were on a real time crunch,” explains Lava. “We therefore chose to collaborate with a team of video directors, editors, designers and graphic artists who, working under the 44 Designs banner, did a brilliant job in coming up with individual looks for every number, bound together by my over-all vision.”

The separate video clips were then uploaded onto two servers, built by Larry Foote himself, which were installed with ArKaos MediaMaster Pro. “We used one server as a main and one as a back-up (running the same content as the main) to switch to in case of emergency,” says Foote. “The output management feature made it easy to select which group of fixtures I wanted to display the current content.”

Behind the screens Foote installed a series of Krypton KR25 incandescent matrix fixtures, each of which uses 25 individually controllable PAR30 lamps, which he was able to pixel map with MediaMaster. “These were a really cool feature which I enjoyed playing with and really added to the show’s aptitude,” he says.

Fourteen universes of DMX were in operation over all and, as all fixtures and video screens were running ArtNet, it was easy to hook everything up to the Jands Vista L5 console which controls the MediaMaster Pro.

Foote was able to run video content and effects through the PixelFLEX Screens and the Krypton KR25 fixtures to create almost kaleidoscopic effects. “Once we had the basics in place it was fun to be able to play with the different layers and content on MediaMaster’s attributes and then to split up the images and direct them to different outputs. I changed the profiles in Vista to display separate outputs as groups so I could direct particular content to different KR25 units or video screens. My KR25s were on one group, my PixelFLEX had both separate outputs for each screen and another Master Output to control all the screens at the same time. Doing it this way, I was able to use each screen as its own fixture and was able to use it for more than just video.

“In one number we used this set up and utilized YouTube footage of fans playing or singing “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not”. Different YouTube clips were direct to each screen, one by one, until all 18 were filled to resemble a bank of individual television monitors. The audio on those video clips was also run by Arkaos, so we came out of the motherboard of the servers and gave the lines to the audio guys to work their magic. The audio output was extremely easy to control and sounded really good. It was really cool seeing one of those YouTube Fans at an actual show!”

MediaMaster was not only instrumental in the creation and control of content in pre-production, but also proved invaluable on the road. “We knew we would be changing the rig a lot throughout the tour so didn't want to have to reprogram the rig at every venue,” explains Lava. “We therefore took the ‘alpha’ file of the designers’ work and have been able to fine tune it for each show, adapting different features to suit different setups. It adds a useful – and exciting - element of live mixing to the show.

“MediaMaster made this easy to do, taking the raw material, tweaking and programming it during rehearsal and still allowing us the flexibility to introduce live mixing during the shows.”

“It even left me enough time to dance to the music during the show,” adds Foote. “Let’s face it, if I’m not enjoying the experience, then chances are the audience isn’t either. It’s all about birthing the environment of the songs to connect to the audience with, and tools like MediaMaster make this a pleasure to accomplish.” 

11th November 2014

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