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Royal Blood come clean
UK – Like an ace of diamonds, a neatly rigged square of 12mm LED screen floats sharp and angular, a minimalist piece of visual architecture reflecting the binary talents that make Royal Blood such an exciting and potent musical force. Sam O’Riordan’s design speaks volumes of his confidant transition into arena scale presentation.
“Sam called in Tim Routledge to collaborate on the design,” explained Jack Banks who was employed by production to drive the camera to content onto the screen. “Combining experience and collaborating always produces something better than the sum of its parts.”
Smart move on Sam’s part. “The band sent through a video of looks and the proviso ‘these are things we don’t want to see’. As it happened the examples they sent were precisely the sort of particle heavy, computer graphic style of effect that seem to have become all too familiar. Nice to find a band who have that level of awareness.”
Banks was selected for his mastery of Notch effects, in particular his work with Biffy Clyro last year: “But that was a completely different style of show, not what we’re doing here. In the beginning Sam was concerned about using Notch, and he was right to be. As the band had highlighted, there is emerging already a typical Notch look, lots of particles, lots of tracking; but true to Sam’s primary design concept we’ve kept this largely to clean looks and that has proved very effective.”
The LED and four camera PPU is all supplied and crewed by Video Design. The diamond ceiling, a twelve-metre parallelogram of LED, is flown off Kinesys so it can raise and lower. Video Design developed their own rigging superstructure to support it. “The roof structure always had the potential to be absolutely terrific and so it has proved to be,” said Banks. “There were some uneasy moments when first put together in rehearsals at LH3; aren’t there always when you try something new? But in fact, the team of Rob Stansfield, Jack Middlebrook and Gary King have developed a method and have absolutely smashed it. On some shows the LED square is down and out before the PPU – well, almost – well done Alex.” A reference to Alex Leinster at Video Design, who drove the structural development.
Innovation was also at the forefront of the Video Design camera package. “We were using the latest gx2 Notch enabled servers which is just way slicker all round. More importantly, Sam from the beginning was interested in tracking cameras and I was keen to avoid using too many static mini-cams, from that we saw potential for tracking robo cams. As it happened Bradley were already working on such a thing with considerable input from Alex. He persuaded them to let us Beta test it. It’s very neat, we have one running up/down stage left that is ideal for shots of drummer Ben Thatcher and another around the end of the thrust that is great for those classic footlight shots of Mike Kerr playing his guitar. Just great angles. I take those shots and at most add a bit of gentle distortion. Otherwise clean and simple fits well to what Sam has dreamed up for his lighting design – in that sense this is very much that ‘camera from content’ idea. I like the way Sam took the initiative on his first design into the arena circuit – good call.”
photos: Lez Dwight
15th December 2017
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