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It’s All Black & White from Video Design

It’s All Black & White from Video Design

UK – Art and artistry appear fundamental to a live performance by Bon Iver; theirs is always more than just a collection of musicians on stage. For lighting designer Michael Brown this is reflected in the reliance on white light, shade and contrast. With that in mind, when the band asked production manager James Dean to prospect for an IMAG system, he sought more than just good technology.

“Although it’s not the first time we’ve used video for the live show (we have had video walls for content before now) it is the first time we’ve thought about using a full camera package for IMAG. We knew we would be playing bigger rooms and we wanted the audience to have the best experience possible. One of the great things Video Design offered that many others didn’t was a range of robotic cameras. Not having camera operators intruding on stage is important to the band and their stage performance.”

Dean took a four-camera PPU from Video Design, three Bradley robotics and a long lens operated camera for out front, plus two screens and laser projectors. “Video Design have done a nice job for the band; we have four cameras and, as far as the band and the show is concerned, it’s as if they don’t exist.”

“This was new to us,” Dean continued: “And once we got the equipment and saw how it looked it became apparent that we had positioned the screens too far above the performance area. They were almost a distraction. Paul Eggerton, our video director suggested bringing them closer in and lower, practically alongside the performance area, something they were able to do for us quickly and easily. It means the audience has their eyes always focused at the same level; they can comfortably glance between band and screen. That was a great change.”

For Eggerton the artistic sensibilities of the band have proved very exciting, “There are no mid-tones, it’s all very black and white, stark and contrasting. Michael (Brown) and I exchanged emails ahead of the tour and it was clear that the IMAG would be in B&W. The gear is good; Alex always supplies good kit. The important thing here is he reads the brief and makes a point of understanding what the client wants.”

“The focus is on the whole band,” said Eggerton as he unfolded his approach. “The stage is incredibly busy with instrumentation and floor lights, so positioning the three onstage robotic heads was tricky. With three fixed points you’ve got to work to get the shots: you are finding the dynamic of the show from within a defined set of limitations; that makes it challenging to find the cut I want. Even with a long lens in the house where I have a bit more latitude with framing, it’s still busy but exciting. I’m really enjoying it.”

Dean agreed: “Our LD Michael Brown lights the band mainly in open white and the band elected to follow that by having the IMAG in black and white. With Paul focusing the images less on close-ups and more on abstract shots of the band, and by electing to use high contrast effects, he has added a new creative element to the show that flatters and enhances the creative art of the band. We are all really pleased.”

15th November 2018

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