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Video Design invest for A-ha
Amid the churn and chaff of modern pop music few bands stand out as really distinct. A-ha is certainly one, born in the 1980s, their music is entirely unique to them, the voice of their talismanic lead singer Morten Harket setting them apart.
But it’s not just a stand out voice that has sustained that distinction, as witnessed on their latest ‘Cast in Steel’ tour. The whole production that underpins it has been outstanding, driven not least by the band’s predilection for steering the use of entirely contemporary technology, as video director Julien Hogg explains.
“The one thing they didn’t want was clean camera images. The show is a mix of carefully chosen content and IMAG, though not the style of IMAG most concert-goers are accustomed to. There are a couple of numbers that are clean, the big crowd friendly songs that everyone would expect and the band realise you have to do that sometimes. But otherwise we work the images hard.”
The video system is supplied by Video Design, a total of seven LED screens, all 4.8 metres square, three across the stage, a pair stacked each side, and a camera package of four operated cameras, minicams and Robocams to feed the IMAG. “I put the tour out to tender and received bids from all over Europe,” said James Maillardet of Practical Productions. “Alex Leinster at Video Design put together a winning bid: no small achievement when you add in the fact that they invested in some significant new equipment specifically to meet the needs of Julien and the band.”
“It’s not typical for bands to have this kind of input,” continued Hogg, “but that has been very much part of what has steered the design brief. Video Design bought into the new Hippotisers and Video Dust. The new Hippotiser V4 hardware is great, the V4 Karst is just brilliant. Alex could see this was a worthwhile investment, its all 4K and future ready. I’ve used all the different media servers in my time and this is easily the most powerful and flexible available on the market right now, you can do anything with these new Hippotisers.”
“For the Dust I approached developers Thundering Jacks directly and asked them to create a specific Video Dust for us. We took their software to South America and the Russian market first and played about with it. The band input again during that period, they do look at what I’m doing. And now we have a bespoke system that combines five types of effects. The band purchased this particular package, but Alex saw how powerful and versatile it is and has invested in the full Dust version. I have enormous respect for the way Alex operates, technically and operationally he is a perfectionist. That makes a big difference.”
The Dust package gives Hogg the tools he needs to craft to the band’s intended presentation. “IMAG is very much part of the set, what I do is to match the graphics on the stage screens to the way the band images are effected and presented on the side screens. Artistically its very dynamic and very exciting. It’s a much more coherent use of video as an integral element of live performance.”
But it’s not just about kit, as production manager Maillardet pointed out, “The crew have been fantastic. I particularly liked Leinster’s pitch about crew; he was very clear in his bid package that the rate the guys get is non-negotiable. I respect him for that. Crew that are paid properly always provide the best service and that has most certainly been the experience on this tour. And the equipment has been outstanding; it might be cutting edge, but has proved incredibly reliable.”
photos: Julien Hogg
13th May 2016
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