Production News Headlines
Clay Paky A.ledas Light the Helene Fischer Show
More than five million viewers followed the second Helene Fischer Show on television during the Christmas season. Andrea Bocelli, David Garrett, Ricky Kam, Loreen, Unheilig, Andreas Gabalier and others performed during the show, produced by Werner Kimmig GmbH TV Produktion. It goes without saying that such a line-up of artists requires a professional set, which LD Jerry Appelt created with a lighting design he put together in part using equipment from the Lightpower stock.
The lights he used included 20 Clay Paky A.leda K20s and 20 Clay Paky A.leda K5s. PRG also provided 72 Clay Paky Alpha Spot HPE 1500s, 72 Clay Paky Sharpys, six MA network processing units and two MA network signal processors.
Jerry Appelt had this to say about using Clay Paky A.ledas: "I used the A.leda K20s as an alternative to conventional gas-discharge-lamp washlights, and they performed their task in a truly extraordinary way. Both the light emitted and the colours were really impressive. The characteristics of the A.leda K20's beam also satisfied me. The same goes for the A.leda K5s, which did their duty excellently despite their compact size."
"These were what I considered to be the most important aspects of the lighting design," explained Appelt. He then continued: "I needed to create spaces for the light and put together a lighting architecture. I paid less attention to moving lights and concentrated more on having a wealth of variations available to me. This is another reason why the beams were particularly important."
The staff included Matti Hagel (chief lighting technician), Sascha Matthes (show lighting operator), Markus Ruhnke (white light operator) and Chris Moylan (server operator). Matthias "Matze" Meyert dealt with the technical management and Matthias Rau was on-site project manager for PRG. Alex Schmidt and Tobias Ellendt took part as technical systems engineers. PRG provided rigging, lighting and video equipment.
24th May 2013
Orbital Tours with Dreamgirls in the US and Japan
Orbital Sound reports that it is currently out on the road with the Big League Productions’ US national tour of the hit musical Dreamgirls, with the 21-week show schedule ending up on another continent this August – in Tokyo and Osaka, Japan. Sound design on the show is by Matt Geasey and Mike Tracey, with Orbital contracted to supply and support the show’s state-of-the-art sound system.
Dreamgirls' big sound is delivered by the d&b audiotechnik V-Series speaker system, chosen for its compact yet extraordinarily powerful design, complemented by a state of the art Yamaha CL5 mixing console. The touring system comprises fourteen V8 cabinets, four V12s, and four V-SUBs, which are designed to be flown or ground stacked, giving the show’s sound crew complete configuration freedom depending on an individual theatre’s requirement – all driven by d&b D12 dual channel amplifiers. The V-Series speakers are complemented by additional d&b E6 fill cabinets.
For Matt Geasey, Dreamgirls combines the sound quality demands of a big Broadway production with the challenges of a national city tour. The high-end choice of equipment is delivering an exceptional sounding result: “This was an exciting show to work on, with the brief from Big League Productions being to create a brand new sound design that would wow the audiences. The sound design is the only completely new element to the show, and we wanted the freedom to specify a high quality system that would do it justice. The d&b V-Series has delivered just that – it’s an amazingly innovative product that is perfect for touring with its compact and flexible configuration options. We’ve had great support from the Orbital team at every stage – from the system build in their shop, through to the ongoing technical support, including seamlessly integrating a complete new frequencies set from their RF guru, Jeff Hahn, for each city, which is enormously helpful. Above all, Tim is doing a fantastic job of mixing the show, keeping it as consistent as possible from venue to venue.”
Dreamgirls’ No 1 operator Tim Riggs spends a lot of time behind the show’s other workhorse – the Yamaha CL5 mixing console. Already very familiar with the Yamaha concept, Tim has been working the board hard, and reports that it is turning in a solid performance. Mixing the show is a challenging task, as he explains: “This show feels like a runaway train sometimes; it just keeps going non-stop all the way through! The challenge is to keep it exciting for the audience without wearing them out. While there are the obvious big production numbers, there are also lots of intimate moments, and we really do use the system’s full dynamic range to ensure that you can hear the dialogue wherever they are on stage. It is a tough job to get it right, particularly with regard to the clarity of the vocals, when we have so little time in the same venue. There is one song called Family, which is my benchmark moment – this is when I know if I have got it just right. When the music ends, there are just five members of the cast signing in harmony. If the audience responds with “oohs” and “aahs”, I know we have nailed it!”
The sound design also specified the use of the Shure UHF-R wireless microphone system, principally using the UR1-M micro bodypack transmitters. Other components include MOTO Digital Performer 8, which is used heavily for time code and backing tracks. For the show communications system, the team is using the Clear-Com Tempest. Tim and Chuck typically bring in four local sound technicians to help with each set-up, with one staying on hand during the show. Overall, the show’s logistics are impressive, involving a cast of 25 and four tightly-packed trucks. As an example, one of the leads, Dina, changes costumes and wigs sixteen times within one performance! Simply getting from venue to venue can be a challenge in itself, with the tour even making its way to Anchorage in Alaska – involving a one-week truck drive there and back to the States through Canada.
Photos: Levi Walker.
24th May 2013
Tait Provides Custom Outdoor Staging for Muse’s Worldwide 2013 Stadium Tour
Working alongside creative director Oli Metcalfe, as well as production manager Chris Vaughan, Tait provided both custom and rental elements for Muse’s stunning stadium tour which opened in the United Kingdom recently.
Tait provided a large 61 metre by 17.6 metre rolling main stage for the production, with a thrust extending out 26 metres to the B-stage. The main stage and thrust were finished with specially treated marine wood, paired with a quartz treatment to prevent water damage and provide texture. Two key performance areas were finished with a high gloss treatment for performer movement.
Tait also provided two custom designed technical bunkers with an integrated water protection plumbing system. Housing the backline and sound technicians, the bunkers kept the technicians close to the band but out of audience view during performances. Two front of house bunkers were also manufactured by Tait, built with aluminium framework and waterproof PVC coated polyester. The bunkers were four metres wide by 2.5 metres high with retractable roofs and adjustable height legs.
Sixteen removable pyrotechnic effect platforms were built and attached to the main stage, to hold CO2 jets for the pyrotechnic team. Six custom made decks were also produced with central holes, to hold recessed lighting elements. High End Systems’ Techno Arc lights were positioned on a shelf within these recessed decks, and finished with a transparent plastic dome which raises above the stage surface for water protection.
A 24 metre long catwalk was also supplied by Tait, and extends out into the audience from the main stage to the B stage. The catwalk was integrated into the main stage apron with custom designed transition decks to determine the fixed angle of the integrated ramp section. The support structure of the ramp contained sets of custom designed legs at fixed heights produced specifically for the tour, to ensure the ramp angle remains consistent across all shows.
A key part of the stadium design concerned weather proofing the performance area. Tait built a large custom waterproof canopy which covered the main stage performance area. Made with a combination of aluminium and steel frames with an integrated PVC skin, the innovative canopy was 6.7 metres long and 3.4 metres high, with integrated plumbing so that water could drain away from the stage area. The canopy was also finished with a custom scenic silver paint.
The project was a collaborative effort between Tait’s United States and European offices, with a build time frame of five weeks.
24th May 2013
XL Video Supplies LED for ‘RENT In Concert’ Tour
The Award-winning Broadway musical, RENT, was first workshopped in New York in 1993. To celebrate this 20 year landmark, a new concert production under the direction of Daniel Wood recently toured around the UK. With packed houses and standing ovations nightly, it’s no surprise that additional dates are already set to take place in the autumn.
The production, designed by Ben M Rogers, included LED display solutions from XL Video, used to frame the performance as well as the option to integrate live camera footage and original work from video content designer Zoe Hitchen.
For the scenic pieces, XL Video supplied 16 small 2x1 tile screens of semi-transparent Pixled F-40 LED. During the show these were used both separately and together to form a complete screen.
The set was designed with multiple small screens to enable easy lightweight rigging and assembly across a one night per venue tour.
The centre screen, flown above the stage, was formed from 5x5 tiles of Pixled FX-11 LED. As a centre piece to the live action, this screen mixed with video sequences and scene-setting graphics was controlled via the production’s own ArKaos Media Master 3.1 servers.
“The FX-11 is terrifically bright and competed well with the substantial lighting rig,” notes Rogers, “however it also has a nice dimming curve and copes well at low intensities, perfect for the more theatrical moments of the show.”
XL’s project manager for the ‘RENT In Concert’ tour was Ed Cooper, who commented; “It is always a pleasure working with Ben. The need for speed in rigging and durability on the road was key to the success of Ben’s interesting design, allowing a concert musical to really stand out.”
Photos: Phillip Henderson for Wicked Technical Services.
23rd May 2013
GLD Spots eEvis at the London Palladium
Allen & Heath’s GLD digital system was employed to manage FOH and monitors for ‘Elvis - the Ultimate Performance’ staged recently at the London Palladium. The show ran off AR2412 and AR84 input expander units, with 28 inputs on stage and three inputs into the GLD-80 mixer for playback and talkback.
‘Elvis – The Ultimate Performance’ stars the world’s leading Elvis performer, Chris Connor, accompanied by a comprehensive band comprising drums, bass, rhythm and lead guitar, keys and synth, dedicated wind band, brass section containing saxophone, flute, trumpet and trombone, plus four backing vocalists.
The GLD-80 was fitted with a Dante card, enabling a previous multi-track recording of the show to be played back for virtual sound check, making an easy system set up and system EQ.
“It's a great advantage when going to a new venue to be able to hear the PA as if the band were playing on stage. GLD also makes it easy to switch between Dante and the Stagebox inputs,” explains the show’s sound designer, Tom Cox.
Cox also made use of the new GLD iPad app, GLD Remote: “The Palladium’s FOH mix position mainly receives sound from the delay speakers, so the iPad allowed me to move around the auditorium during set up and hear what the show would sound like in different seats. It also improved monitor set up, as I could EQ monitors on stage and set mixes with the musicians as they heard it too.”
The show recreates two landmark performances in Elvis’ career – the 68 Comeback Special and the Aloha from Hawaii – and features some of his greatest hits, including Suspicious Minds, Heartbreak Hotel, Blues Suede Shoes, Jailhouse Rock and Love Me Tender.
23rd May 2013
Pirates Set Sail for Newcastle!
D’Oyly Carte Opera Company will make a triumphant return to the stage after a ten year absence with a historic collaboration with Scottish Opera on Gilbert and Sullivan’s best loved operetta The Pirates of Penzance, which will visit Newcastle Theatre Royal, 25 – 29 June.
The production combines Scottish Opera’s world class reputation for high quality, touring opera with D’Oyly Carte’s century-long association with Gilbert and Sullivan. Featuring the Orchestra of Scottish Opera and a 39 strong cast and chorus, this is a vibrant, stylish and hilarious romp through one of Gilbert and Sullivan’s finest scores.
Having turned 21, Frederic should be contractually released from his apprenticeship to a band of pirates, but discovers his birthday is the 29th of February, a leap year. Taking his duty a little too literally, he decides it will be another 63 years before he’s really 21 and only Mabel’s promise to wait sustains him… A cleverly observed satire of Victorian morals and the ruling classes, this production brings the humour bang up to date with 'Pythonesque' twinkle.
“This slick, gorgeous-looking new co-production between Scottish Opera and D’Oyly Carte is in a different league,” Daily Telegraph
The Pirates of Penzance features some of Gilbert’s wittiest lyrics, not least the famous patter song ‘I am the very model of a Modern Major-General’ while Sullivan brilliantly mixes his signature catchy melodies with fine parodies of other opera composers, notably Verdi’s Il Trovotore in ‘Come, friends, who plough the sea’ and ‘You triumph now’.
D’Oyly Carte Opera Company was founded by Gilbert and Sullivan’s producer Richard D’Oyly Carte in 1878 and has been performing their operas for 130 years. Ian Martin, general manager of D’Oyly Carte Opera Company, said: ‘We are absolutely delighted to be working with Scottish Opera and very excited to be starting a new chapter in our lengthy history.’
Alex Reedijk, general director of Scottish Opera said: “D’Oyly Carte is synonymous with Gilbert and Sullivan so when we decided to re-introduce G&S to our audiences it was both an obvious partnership and a timely opportunity to bring together our respective areas of expertise. This fun, family production is also a great way to see Scottish Opera’s highly successful 50th anniversary season out on a high.”
Martin Lloyd-Evans - a regular with Opera Holland Park and Classical Opera Company - directs while D’Oyly Carte music director and G&S aficionado, John Owen Edwards, and Scottish Opera head of music, Derek Clark, share conducting duties.
The ensemble cast includes Richard Suar - principal comic baritone - as Major-General Stanley, described by the Daily Mail as: “… the perfect purveyor of patter as the Major-General himself.” Richard has been the principal comic baritone with D’Oyly Carte since 1988 and has performed all the major G&S ‘patter roles,’ for over a quarter of a century. Another G&S stalwart, Steven Page (Nick Shadow in The Rake’s Progress) will take on the role of the Pirate King.
Sharing the role of Frederic are rising stars Samuel Furness and Nicholas Sharratt (Orpheus in Orpheus in the Underworld). Rebecca Bottone, will perform the role of Frederic’s lover, Mabel.
23rd May 2013
RML Provides Equipment for Vicious
Mondays can be a struggle, but what better way to start the week than with some fantastic British comedy? ITV has come to the rescue with the new sitcom, Vicious.
The camp classic tells the story of ageing partners, Freddie and Stuart, two men who have lived together in a small Covent Garden flat for nearly 50 years. Freddie (played by Sir Ian McKellen) was a budding actor and Stuart (played by Sir Derek Jacobi) a barman when they first met but their careers are now pretty much over and their lives now consist of reading books, walking their dog and bickering.
As part of the characters' very dark and insular way of life, their curtains are always drawn, so lighting designer Martin Hawkins creates a dimmed and sophisticated ambience. The ‘light in their life’ comes with the arrival of a young man, Ash, as their new upstairs neighbour who turns their world around.
Joining Freddie and Stuart is feisty best friend Violet. She's young at heart with a delicious sense of humour and always on hand to calm Freddie and Stuart down during one of their many arguments. Also part of their long-standing friendship group is ‘dizzy Penelope and grumpy Mason’.
RML provided Mac Auras, Alpha Spot 300 and Space Lights for the most hilarious nightclub scene, where the fantastic actors and characters really come to life!
22nd May 2013
Clay Paky Stars in Eros Ramazzotti's European Tour
Eros Ramazzotti is always on the crest of the wave and is taking his NOI Tour 2013 throughout the continent. After 14 dates in Italy, the tour has come alive in the rest of Europe, where the shows are recording an excellent turnout even in this difficult economic period. This confirms continued interest in this musician, who has trod the boards of music venues for 30 years.
The set, video and lighting were designed and built entirely by lighting and video designer Jvan Morandi and his company Placing Shadow. "The set itself consists of large hanging parallelepipeds, which are fitted with high resolution LED panels and large areas for video projections," said Morandi. "The entire 18-tonne assembly is equipped with a vertical automation system attached to the corners of the 3D structures (four triangles, a diamond and a cube), which can be moved to give substance to the scene."
The lighting system was supplied by Agorà and consists mainly of Clay Paky lights, including 36 Alpha Profile 1500s, 12 Alpha Spot HPE 700s and 24 Sharpys. Morandi said: "I think Clay Paky 1500s are the best spotlights around from all points of view: for their optics, colour quality, effects and reliability.
The Alpha Profile 1500s are installed on four 'finger' trusses jutting out from the stage and used both as front lights and for backlighting. Morandi said: "Thanks to the excellent framing system they have, you can direct light onto certain precise areas of the set."
About the Sharpys, he added: "They are incredible lights and of course I'm not the first person to have discovered them! I've mounted 24 on six vertical truss 'candles'. I use them for side lighting effects and often as washlights too; this is my favourite use as they fill the scene very well. Lastly I've used Alpha Spot HPE 700s as side key lights for the fixed lights on the musicians."
The whole set consists of modular components, designed to fit into each other seamlessly. The various parts are arranged in separate layers so that the crew can work together during load in/load out. For instance, the lights are already fitted onto 2.5 metre pre-rig trusses, and these are the only things moved at the end of the concert with all the cables and lights still fitted to them. This makes things much easier logistically, because it saves a lot of time: the stage can be fully rigged in just one day.
From a creative point of view, the set is inspired by the art of origami, updated to an original multimedia version. It is also influenced by the work of 1950/60s scenographer Josef Svoboda. Morandi explained that the show is a mixture of theatrical and rave party elements, with some hallucinogenic effects created by the interaction between the impressive video and lighting equipment, especially the Clay Paky Sharpys. "I originally started with an idea based on magic and transformation, but after talking to Eros, his musical director Luca Scarpa, the various video collaborators (Stylorouge and Novak Collective) and Live Nation's Roberto De Luca, a different, innovative, almost experimental show emerged: we decided to use only a few graphic effects and lots of films of everyday life specially shot on the street among ordinary people with and without professional actors. The aim was to get a final effect that was somewhere between neorealism and psychedelia."
The result has great physical and emotional impact, as can easily be seen from the accompanying photos by Talula Sheppard.
22nd May 2013
P!NK Shares The Truth About Love Live with L-Acoustics
P!NK is currently out on a massive ten-month global arena tour in support of her sixth and most recent record, The Truth About Love. Currently trekking across Europe – following an initial US leg that began in February – P!NK and her entourage will eventually head down to Australia for the summer months before making their way back to North America for a second sweep that will carry the pop superstar through the end of the year and possibly beyond.
Manning her FOH mix, as he has for the past five years, Chris Madden has specified the use of a full L-Acoustics K1 system for the entire duration of the tour, which is being equipped by Sydney, Australia’s JPJ Audio – the merged operation of Jands Production Services, L-Acoustics’ longtime Australian Rental Partner, and Johnston Audio.
Madden, who has also performed FOH duties for Joe Cocker, Sade and Jessie J in the past, originally fell in love with K1 on P!NK’s Funhouse Summer Carnival tour of Europe in 2010. “We did quite a lot of shows in Germany for that summer run, all of which were supported by Black Box and their then-new K1 system,” Madden recalls. “We achieved fantastic results with the rig and Roger Davies [manager for P!NK, Sade, Cher, Tina Turner and others] was very impressed, so it’s been our system of choice ever since.
“From the very first time I heard it, I just thought K1 was the best PA I was ever put in front of. The projection and detail were both immediately apparent. On other systems, certain elements of a mix will disappear off into a mush, but L-Acoustics preserves so much detail across the full spectrum – and at distances that are truly remarkable.”
The main arrays for P!NK’s current arena tour are comprised of 14 K1 plus six Kara per side for downfill, with a small middle array of six Kara flown to cover the audience area between the main stage and curved thrust. An additional six Kara spread out under the front edge of the main stage helps pull the sound image down a bit further for the crowd at the front.
With 270 degrees of show seats completely selling out each night, JPJ is also deploying a total of 60 Kudo enclosures to deliver extreme left and right side coverage. Depending on each venue’s unique geometry, these are typically hung in either four arrays of 15 or dual arrays of 18 and 12 cabinets.
Low frequency reinforcement is primarily achieved via a combination of eight K1-SB per side flown adjacent to the K1/Kara hangs and a dozen SB28 in six stacks of two across the curved front edge of the stage thrust. Ground subs are set up in cardioid mode with the bottom cabinets rear-firing to minimise LF bleed on stage. Additional two-by-three stacks of SB28 are positioned under the ramps on either side of the stage and fire out toward the far left and right sides of the room, while 19 LA-RAK touring racks containing a total of 57 LA8 amplified controllers drive the entire system.
System Tech Ulf Oeckel, who has toured with Rammstein and Sade, maps out each upcoming venue with L-Acoustics’ Soundvision modelling software and keeps tabs on the system every night with LA Network Manager, both of which he and Madden report to be “quite intuitive.”
Photos: Todd Kaplan.
21st May 2013
Clay Paky is Major Player on X Factor Kazakhstan
An impressive range of Clay Paky fixtures including the Alpha Spot QWO 800s, Sharpys, A.Leda Wash K10 and K20s and Alpha Profile 800 STs are lighting up the world famous TV show phenomenon - X Factor - as it débuts in Kazakhstan.
Lighting designer Andrey Kuznetsov is utlising 16 Alpha Spot QWO 800s, 32 Sharpys, eight A.Leda K10s, eight A.Leda K20s, 16 Alpha Profile 800s and two Shadow QS-LTs to create a winning combination for the launch of Kazakh X Factor, which follows a similar format to the UK show.
“I was impressed by Alpha Profile 800 - the profile system is unbelievable, it made it very easy to make designs and to highlight the set and the performers,” says Kuznetsov. “To have so many functions and capabilities in a single compact fixture is truly amazing. A.Leda impressed me with the wide range of fantastic colours it can deliver. They are fast, super bright light with great all round functionality. The excellent colour rendering of the CTO and colour mixing system also allowed me to use these LED Fixtures as a very effective front light – I am truly impressed.”
The X Factor Kazakhstan is broadcast on the country’s Perviv Kanal Evraziya channel. Kuznetsov continues: “The X Factor producers are extremely happy with the results, and thanked us for the opportunity to have such wonderful lighting fixtures for the show!”
Kazakhstan lighting and sound rental house Kiber Svet supplied all Clay Paky luminaires. Slawa Gartung, sales manager for Clay Paky for the region comments: “It’s fantastic to see that signature X Factor look recreated here in Kazakhstan with the latest fixtures in the Clay Paky range. We have been delighted with the success of the fixtures in Kazakhstan and look forward to seeing all types of shows, productions and events finding creative new ways to use the incredible features of the Sharpy.”
21st May 2013
Tait Supplies Staging, Scenic, LED Automation and Rigging Elements for 2013 Eurovision Song Contest
Working closely with technical director Ola Melzig, as well as production designers Frida Arvidsson and Viktor Brattstrom, Tait’s European division supplied elements for the iconic Eurovision Song Contest, which was televised to a worldwide audience with stunning performances from 26 finalists last week in Malmo, Sweden. Won by Emmelie de Forest of Denmark, the design concept was to bring the audience and artists physically closer together and bring an intimate live experience to the next level. A three dimensional environment was created on stage, with impressive depth and multiple layers creating interesting landscapes for the live audience and televised broadcast.
Tait provided a 450 square metre rolling main stage, including a downstage apron, pantograph stairway and four Flaggapault lifts for dynamic performer stage entrance and exit. A catwalk leading to a B-stage was also provided, integrated into the B-stage was a triple scissor lift that could move up to sic metres above the arena floor.
A range of scenic elements were incorporated into the design, including an upstage ground supported projection wall, with two flown centre sections. Two 14 metre tall scenic arches were fabricated using a steel framework and support ballasts that was then clad with a scenic stress skin panel comprised of fibreglass, polystyrene and brushed aluminium panelling. The arches were integrated with lighting elements and positioned to frame each side of the stage. To complete the design, a 45 metre wide ground-supported scenic landscape projection wall sits behind the arches. The rear projection wall was installed utilising a ground support structure created with rental truss. At its centre, an 18 metre wide portion of the wall was rigged with variable speed chain motors which allowed the designers to open and close the wall, creating alternate lighting and projection effects.
Sixty-two kinetic sculptures were also hung from variable speed ‘Micro Winches’ throughout the Malmo Arena. 48 of the octahedron shaped units were suspended over the audience, with the remaining 14 units hung over the mainstage. Each unit is controlled by five-channel wireless DMX, three channels for the RGB LED inside the fixtures and two channels for their speed and position. All of the units were controlled by the lighting operator via an Art-Net patch to Tait/FTSI’s award winning Navigator control system. By making each unit individually controllable with regard to colour, speed and position, one cohesive large sculpture that is constantly changing was provided, which allowed the designers to create an endless variation of looks.
Tait designed, prototyped, manufactured and installed the 62 variable speed Micro Winches in seven weeks. Designed as a dual line winch that uses an electromechanical lifting line with a low voltage line running through its core, it allows power and data to be integrated into the lifting lines, resolving cable management issues. The Micro Winches have a safe working load of 13kg, and are capable of 18 metres of travel, with a maximum speed of 0.9m/s. The winches weigh 23kg and have a detachable top mounting plate, in order that they can be configured to hang from any type of truss, or be installed to custom profiles or permanent building structures.
A 36 metre long flying bridge was also created for performer entrance over the audience to the B stage. The bridge consists of 22 variable chain motors (provided by others) and has integrated scenic fascia/handrail as well as integrated lighting positions. The immense 9980kg bridge begins at the second tier at the front of house stage left position and spans over the audience four metres above the ground, allowing 25 people to cross at a time. The B-Stage Triple Scissor lift raises up to meet the bridge and performers access the catwalk that is connected to the main stage via a removable set of scenic stairs.
Ola Melzig, technical director said: “It’s been a true pleasure working with Tait. Their innovations, their quality, precision and finish is just stunning. I’ve never seen anything even close to this level of performance. We are all amazed with what Tait has been able to give us for Eurovision 2013.”
Demonstrating Tait’s depth of automation and show control expertise, the entire show contains 70 axes of motion controlled by our Navigator system.
Photos: Louise Strickland
21st May 2013
DPA Microphones Goes on Tour With Priscilla
An Italian touring production of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert – The Musical has arrived at the Politeama Rossetti theatre in Trieste, where audiences are enjoying great sound thanks to the extensive use of DPA Microphone’s 4066 Omnidirectional Headset Microphones and 4060 Omnidirectional Miniature Microphones.
DPA’s Italian distributor M. Casale Bauer has supplied the production with a total of 34 DPA Headset Microphones, which are being used for every member of the cast (plus a few spares). The show’s sound engineer Cristiano Grassini says the microphones are performing flawlessly every night and are proving very popular with cast members because they are so light and comfortable.
“The original Australian production of the musical specified DPA Headset Microphones and, having previously experienced the quality of these microphones on other productions, I was more than happy to use them for the Italian tour,” Grassini says. “Their quality is absolutely phenomenal. They sound great, they are very resistant to high sound pressure levels and obviously, because they are so small and discrete on the actor’s faces, they are good for the audience because they don’t detract from the performance.”
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert – The Musical tells the story of two drag queens and a transsexual woman who travel through Australia on a tour bus called Priscilla. Along the way they encounter many different people and have a variety of hilarious adventures. The musical first opened in 2006 in Sydney, Australia, before travelling to New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Canada and New York's Broadway. Since beginning its run in Italy last December it has been to Milan and Rome and has notched up more than 250 performances.
“It is an amazing musical – full of colour and drama, and very funny,” Grassini adds. “However, it does involve a lot of costume changes and this is another reason why the DPA Headset Microphones are so useful. More than 500 costumes are used in this production and having a microphone that is comfortable for the actors to wear and very quick to remove does make it much easier to deal with the quick costume changes.”
Grassini has been a fan of DPA Headset Microphones for many years and has used them in numerous theatre productions in the past. “They always sound good and are just so easy to use,” he says. “In many situations they are simply ideal and, for me, the only microphone choice.”
21st May 2013
Viva DiGiCo! SD Consoles Spice Up London’s West End
Girl Power is back and, since mid-December, has taken over London’s Piccadilly Theatre, as the musical Viva Forever! brings the Spice Girls hits to the West End. A pair of DiGiCo mixing consoles makes sure the audience gets the sound it really, really wants!
The show’s sound designer is Bobby Aitken, who is no stranger to musical theatre, having produced sound designs for some of the world’s most successful shows, including We Will Rock You, Mamma Mia! and, most recently, the opening and closing ceremonies for London's Olympic and Paralympic games
For some years his console of choice has been from British manufacturer DiGiCo. This production is no different, with an SD7T at front of house and an SD8 handling the monitor mixes for the show’s live musicians. Both consoles, along with the rest of Bobby’s equipment requirements, are supplied by Autograph Sound.
The SD7T’s suitability stems from a number of reasons, not least the production’s high channel count. “We have an A/B audio system – effectively two complete systems – to avoid unwanted audio issues from the actors’ microphones, which include 24 Sennheiser SK5212s and seven SKM5200s,” says Viva Forever! head of sound Ben Evans. “This set-up means double the amount of outputs and double the amount of processing required within the desk, so the SD7T was the best choice.”
Bobby explained: “Because we mic the performers with onmi capsules, it's very common to hear a destructive phasing sound when we open multiple mics. Its very noticeable during duets when the performers get close to each other. The only way to get round it is never to mix the two mics together. So, they route to separate busses on the mixer, through separate amplifiers, separate reverbs and effects, separate processors and, ultimately, separate loudspeaker systems. The signal for the mics never meet each other till they are in air. This technique was developed by Martin Levan in the late 80s but, because of the high demand on mix busses, was always very difficult to fully implement. The high buss count on the DiGiCo products makes it possible."
“Needing ‘two lots of everything’ made the SD7T the ideal console for the show. Also, it has been specifically designed for theatre audio and that makes a real difference,” says Ben. “There are a lot of little functions that have been developed within the T software that help us do things more quickly and efficiently.
“On this show we use around 150 Snapshots as the console is firing sound effects and changing control groups to maintain the A/B integrity. If there are multiple cues within a song, you can ask the desk not to change the faders during that song, so you can step through the cues, changing your allocations for the control groups and firing sound effects without upsetting the mix of the band; it’s little things like that that make it a lot easier for us to do what we want to do.
“DiGiCo has also made huge steps forward with the software,” he continues. “Over the past few years they have adopted suggestions made by operators which have made our lives at lot easier. It has made the creative stuff that the designer wants achievable with a lot more ease. There’s a lot of time pressure in technical rehearsals, being able to do everything quickly and never hear the stage manager say ‘We’re waiting for sound’ is great.”
A function that has proven very useful is being able to share audio over the SD7T and SD8 and output it at different stages. This allows the SD8 to handle audio for the band monitoring completely independently of the main console, but its cues are controlled from the SD7T via MIDI and alleviates the need for a dedicated engineer to operate the SD8. To ensure maximum flexibility, the multi-channel mixes sent to each musician can then be fine-tuned on personal, 16 channel mixers.
The audio system is undoubtedly one of the stars of this show, with both Bobby and Ben enthusiastic about how the DiGiCo consoles are performing. “All the SD products I’ve used have been very reliable,” says Bobby. “The SD7T is doing a lot of work on this show; as well as the main mix it’s firing sound effects, stopping sound effects, sending timecode to other people and other tasks. It’s functioning as much more of a production hub than just an audio mixer and both consoles are doing their duties flawlessly.”
20th May 2013
Celebrating the Crown with d&b
For 33 years, Queen Beatrix has lead the Netherlands with grace and beauty. Known for her warmhearted smile and 'modernising' the royal house, she has been beloved by the Dutch people since receiving the crown from her mother in 1980. However, this year, at age 75, Beatrix is ready to give the next generation a chance to continue her work. King Willem-Alexander, the first king in over a century and Beatrix's eldest son, was sworn in on 30th April, 2013.
Dressed in orange and proudly displaying their flags, the Dutch celebrated their first 'King's Day' in style. After a full day of festivities, the Royal Family finished their evening by sailing the River IJ for the Royal Boat Parade. Passing various islands around Amsterdam, the new King was greeted with a few minutes of entertainment as they drifted past; from sport to dance, even opera. Reaching Java Eiland, the procession joined a crowd of twenty thousand and culminated with a regal, yet contemporary concert by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, with special guest Dutch DJ Armin van Buuren.
Peak Audio, with the help of d&b audiotechnik, was honoured to provide the sound system for such a historic event. Due to the large crowd and outdoor venue, the d&b J-Series was used for the main array and subwoofers, with V-Series components for outfill and monitors. Given only one day for load in, sound check, and rehearsal before the big show, the team went to great lengths to design every aspect of the sound system, making sure they were ready for anything, even the Royal Family surprising everyone on stage.
"This is a project I'm particularly proud of," recalls Will-Jan Pielage of Peak Audio. "It is not every day we get to work on a show for the new King. It was a tricky venue, because the island is just an open space. We had to be very intentional with directing the sound and setting up delays, so that no matter where people were standing they would be able to enjoy the show. With very little time at the actual venue, we used ArrayCalc to map out our strategy long before arriving on the island. For something as big as this, we wanted to be ready for anything."
While the 35 minute concert was televised and shared with all of Holland, the Royals enjoyed the event from the live audience. From the smooth instrumental sound of the orchestra to the bolder beats of the DJ, the system was ready for a wide range of music.
"As a Dutch person, this was a very important event, and it went off without any problems," Pielage feels thankful for such a strong team and the quality of sound they were able to provide for such an important audience. "It was a once in a lifetime show, and everyone was very happy with the results. Hopefully King Willem-Alexander and his family would agree!"
20th May 2013
Let’s Dance for Comic Relief Gets Smart with PixelRange
Lighting Let’s Dance for Comic Relief for the fifth year running, lighting designer Steve Nolan of Chromatic Productions called upon PixelRange once again to provide sparkling effects lighting for this charity extravaganza.
No less than 48 PixelSmart LED fixtures and fourteen SmartLine 4 LED battens were donated by PixelRange to provide extra pace and drama during the show’s title sequences and high-energy dance routines.
Twenty-four PixelSmarts and twelve SmartLine 4s were deployed on stage at floor level to demarcate the upstage and wing edges and define the performance area. “When lighting dance you need to bring in light at stage level to draw focus to the feet,” says Nolan. “We used the PixelSmarts and SmartLines to introduce animation and colour changes at floor level – all of which was reflected beautifully in the shiny black floor covering – using some of the PixelSmart’s unique features.”
PixelRange’s PixelSmart incorporates 61 individually addressable channels and 40 internal chase effects across 12 high-intensity quad RGBW Cree MCE LEDs and 13 Cree warm white XPG LEDs which combine to give a vast colour palette with brilliant bright white.
“Standard PixelPars can change colour and intensity but the PixelSmart’s individually controllable LEDs allowed me to mix colours and intensity to create unique twinkle effects,” continues Nolan. “I was also able to animate shapes such as stars, circles (donuts) and flowers which are especially effective to camera.”
Nolan also created chases and random strobe effects within each of the SmartLine battens, rippling colours along their length. Like the PixelSmart, SmartLine battens feature individually-addressable, high-intensity quad RGBW Cree LEDs, set in a 50mm deep, slimline housing which allows the LEDs to maintain equal pitch when stacked.
Off-stage, a mixture of both PixelSmart and SmartLine fixtures were located behind the door reveal for extra sparkle during the competitors’ entrances. “Along with the video backdrop, the PixelSmarts and SmartLines predominate in the dance numbers and performed a big task in filling space and creating good background effects,” says Nolan.
For the 2013 series, Nolan was charged with the additional task of lighting the audience in a way that would draw them into the over-all action of the show. “The Show is largely about the audience and attracting viewer donations, so we wanted to focus on the studio audience while the contestants and presenters ran amongst them,” says Nolan. Twenty-four additional PixelSmarts were therefore placed behind the audience to add a bit of extra razzamatazz in Nolan’s largest use of fixtures to date. “They are essentially used as ‘eye candy’ providing great looks in the back of shots with the shapes, colours and sparkle effects they give.”
Let’s Dance for Comic Relief is not the only show in which Nolan and lighting programmer, Tim Routledge, have favoured the PixelSmarts and SmartLines having used them extensively on productions that include the Royal Variety Performance and the Radio One Teen Awards at Wembley in September 2012.
“We really like to use the PixelSmarts and SmartLines because they are unusual and extremely versatile pieces of kit,” says Routledge. “We like their cold white light which makes good sparkle effects and the warm white which enables us to replicate tungsten lighting. To light 30 dance numbers over the four-week run of Let’s Dance for Comic Relief was a tall order so we were grateful to be able to take advantage of the huge variety of effects each unit provides.”
This year’s significant increase in the number of units used has only encouraged Nolan to do more. “They really are brilliant fixtures and so useful in television productions to create some great effects. Now I would like to use a massive wall of them as the scope would be tremendous, not only for the great effects but for the potential of running video through them.”
Let’s Dance for Comic Relief ran as a short series of four shows over four weeks, attracting huge television audiences and raising over £1million.
17th May 2013
200 More: Christie Lites Increases Investment in MA onPC Command Wing
Christie Lites has purchased an additional 200-plus MA onPC command wing from A.C.T Lighting, the exclusive distributor of the MA Ligthing in North America. The company’s new investment brings its inventory of MA onPC command wing to over 250.
Earlier this year Christie Lites took delivery of 50 MA onPC command wing to extend usage of the flexible and powerful grandMA2 control system to customers working on location or those who find it physically difficult to fit a grandMA2 console at their venue. With 12 locations in the US and Canada, Christie Lites supplies equipment and services to lighting designers and chief electricians across an extensive client base.
The MA onPC command wing is a portable solution offering real-time control for 2,048 parameters in combination with grandMA2 onPC. Designed as the perfect hardware expansion to the grandMA2 onPC software, onPC command wing enables the look and feel of the software to be as close as possible to a real grandMA2 console.
Its command section is similar to the grandMA2 layout and features two A/B faders, one level-wheel, individually backlit and dimmable silent (clickless) keys and an integrated universal power supply. The unit has an ergonomic design and is lightweight (tipping the scales at just 6kg) and rock solid.
The MA onPC command wing comes with free grandMA2 onPC software. It offers two built-in DMX ports as well as the possibility to send two additional DMX universes via Ethernet. A simple USB connection between the MA onPC command wing and the computer running the grandMA2 onPC software permits all inputs and outputs of a grandM2 console to be available to the user. DMX, MIDI, timecode and analogue remote are all on hand directly at onPC command wing.
The portability and mobility of onPC command wing also make it an ideal backup solution within the grandMA2 system; a powerful control solution on the road or in smaller theatres, shows and clubs; or a handy choice for preprogramming.
“The popularity of the MA onPC command wing with our customers prompted us to invest in a substantial inventory of units,” says Christie Lites CEO Huntly Christie at the company’s Orlando headquarters. “The MA onPC command wing can be used anywhere and for an affordable price. They’re a win-win solution.”
17th May 2013
Chromlech Elidy Tours with Pink’s The Truth About Love
Following the launch of its new Elidy LED matrix fixture at PLASA 2012, Brittany-based lighting manufacturers, Chromlech, can now report Elidy is touring the world on Pink’s spectacular The Truth About Love tour.
Promoting her seventh album, Pink collaborated with creative partner and show director Baz Halpin to create a visually stunning stage production full of her unique brand of high-energy theatrics and emotion-fueled performances.
Production and lighting designers, Halpin and Chris Nyfield of Silent House Productions chose to incorporate 40 of Chromlech’s Elidy into their lighting design. These are rigged in a single bank across the front truss above the stage where they are used as both combination audience blinders and for dynamic effects.
Chromlech Elidy is a matrix of very high power LEDs, driven by state of the art electronics to provide the world's first LED wall capable of projecting light. Specific optics and high-output, warm white LEDs combine to generate extremely narrow beams that far exceed the intensity of LED screens.
Based around a single projector of 25 (5x5) LEDs, Elidy is modular in form and can be assembled to form up to 225 LEDs (1 sq/m) and arranged into shapes, screens, columns, and even angled forms.
Elidy has a very advanced, though intuitive and user-friendly pixel-mapping interface and astonishing dimming capabilities that ensure perfectly smooth dimming with no stepping or cut off. Data management and control are handled via DMX and Art-Net.
“We chose the Elidy because we liked the brightness of the beam along with the variety of options for chasing effects,” says Halpin, whose high profile concert tour designs include those of Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, George Michael, Sade and Lady Antibellum. “It proved to be a great, fun product and easy to tour with. I would definitely use Elidy again and am looking at incorporating them into some of our upcoming tours.”
Chromlech’s Elidy fixtures were supplied by PRG for the duration of the 100-date worldwide tour. The Truth About Love started in North America in February 2013 and is currently crossing Europe before moving to Australia during June and August and returning to America for extra dates from October to December.
Photos: Todd Kaplan
17th May 2013
Robe Specified for Moses – The Ten Commandments World Premiere at Theatre St. Gallen
Moving lights from Robe’s latest ROBIN MMX and DL Series ranges were utilised by lighting designer Michael Grundner for the world première of Moses – The Ten Commandments, a new musical extravaganza by Michael Kunze and Dieter Falk being staged at the Theatre St. Gallen in Switzerland.
The creative brief for Grundner’s lighting design was to mimic the style and genre of the show – ‘contemporary rock and pop with gospel elements’ – for which the theatre decided to purchase the new system of Robe moving lights.
The package comprised eight MMX Spots, two DLS Profile, two DLX Spots and 16 DLF Wash fixtures, all of which were specified by the theatre’s head of lighting, Andreas Enzler and his deputy Andreas Volk, on the recommendation of Grundner among others, and were delivered via Robe’s Swiss distributor, Audio Tech.
They decided on Robe because they sought a versatile, energy saving moving light rig containing high light output fixtures with excellent optics and fast movement. The rig also had to be cost efficient to run, and Robe’s DL and MMX ranges fitted the bill perfectly with their ‘smaller, lighter, brighter’ design concept.
The DL range is fast becoming a popular choice for theatre productions offering a number of important and relevant features like full tungsten emulation, completely shadow free LED light sources and silent running.
Michael Grundner has been using and specifying Robe products in his work for some time, which includes a raft of musicals, corporate event designs and concerts worldwide for José Carreras – for whom he has been the LD since 2011.
The new fixtures are distributed between the Theatre’s advanced, front and rear house lighting bars.
The DLSs framing shutters are a big plus, with individual control of each shutter blade position and angle, together with rotation of the complete framing module. As well as providing either a sharp or soft frame for the projected image, the system can produce new effects through preprogrammed shutter blade shape and movement sequences. As with the Robe entire DL luminaire range, the associated LED source is ultra smooth and shadow free.
The award winning DLF is a perfect companion to the DLX, and is based on the same RGBW LED module, with a fabulously smooth output via the front Fresnel lens. Mechanical features include a newly designed linear motorized zoom of 5.5° - 60° and a diffusion filter that extends the zoom up to 75°. An internal barndoor module can be used for creating different shapes, while advanced software features include RGBW or CMY colour mixing, a set of calibrated whites, CTO, tungsten lamp emulation (amber shift) and more.
The DLX Spot uses a unique new RGBW LED light source resulting in colour outputs brighter than most 1200 Watt discharge units with an average eco-friendly power consumption of only 250 Watts. A myriad of effects can be produced using a combination of the static and rotating gobo wheels with custom replaceable positions, plus variable frost, three-faceted prism, super-fast iris and more, including full range theatrical grade dimming and variable strobe.
The new technology of Robe’s MMX Spot gives it a light output similar to most existing 1200W luminaires plus neat features like hot-spot control. Its key feature – the 'Dual Graphics Wheel' – presents two fully controllable contra-rotating plates that can be positioned anywhere in the light path to produce amazing visual effects.
In the Moses production, the fixtures are used to create a plethora of different effects and looks in a performance replete with colour and drama reproducing numerous locations and environments involved in the biblical epic charting the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt.
Lighting was programmed by Andreas Volk and Vera Ostfalk and is being operated by Vera Ostfalk, Andreas Volk and Andreas Enzler using an ETC Eos console.
A high profile list of production credits also include video designer Sven Ortel, set designer Francis O’Connor and costume designer Joan O’Cleary and the director is Martin Duncan.
The show is currently scheduled to run until summer 2014, with the possibility of a further extension.
17th May 2013
Romeo and Juliet at the Satirikon Theatre, Moscow
Moscow's Satirikon Theatre opened its 2012–2013 season with a production of Romeo and Juliet directed by Konstantin Raikin. Raikin, the theatre’s artistic director, has not staged Shakespeare's timeless love story at the Satirikon since the mid-1990s, and the new production has been hailed by critics and theatregoers alike for its innovative, high-tech, and ultramodern approach. The impressive visual effects created by ETC Russia using Christie projection equipment meld seamlessly and naturally with the on-stage action.
As Ruslan Semenov, general director of ETC Russia, explains: "It took our team a month and a half to prepare the video content for the show. The work was done on stage under the direct supervision of Konstantin Raikin. Daily rehearsals with the theatre company enabled us to achieve unique synchronisation between the video elements and the actors' performances, as well as between the show as a whole and each individual scene."
To bring Konstantin Raikin’s ideas to life, the set design was somewhat minimalist: throughout the two acts of the nearly three-hour performance, a single structure occupies centre stage. Thanks to the power of video mapping, this structure completely transforms the on-stage space, creating the required atmosphere and ambience.
Four Christie Roadster S+20K three-chip DLP projectors (each with a light output of 20,000 ANSI lumens) were installed in the projection room at the side of the auditorium, in order to project images onto the structures on stage from a distance of 23 metres. A central component of the structure is a bicycle ramp, and for good reason; most of the actors in this production are Konstantin Raikin's students at the Moscow Art Theater School. They enter the stage on bicycles and scooters and perform a variety of stunts, first attacking the vertical surface of the ramp to launch into astonishing aerial turns that ultimately end with them shooting, bullet-like, off stage.
While the effect of this unique staging is to give the performance a carnival atmosphere at times, the romantic mood and foreboding of the tragic denouement keeps the audience on edge; the entire stage is first transformed into a huge target to amuse the guests at a ball, and then seems to be flooded with the blood of the murdered Romeo. In the final scene, the action moves to a grave in a mausoleum covered in delicate white funeral flower buds which, though not yet fully blossomed, wilt before the audience’s eyes. The visual effects are many and varied.
The total area covered by the four video projectors is more than 400 square metres, while the backdrops for the sets, rather than being on a single plane, are distributed across the full depth of the stage. ETC Russia's technical director, Andrey Efarov, notes an important point: "It's great that the Christie projectors have wide depth resolution as we didn’t have to refocus them when projecting onto scenery at different depths, and the projectors’ DLP matrices yielded vivid images even on black velvet stage portals."
The videos produced by ETC Russia's designers have a resolution of 5184 x 1048 pixels, delivered in an uncompressed MOV format. The output video is synchronised with the audio and the sound signal is fed from the theatre's sound console.
Andrey Efarov also noted, "This production is very emotional plot-wise, so it was important for us to provide the appropriate technical solution – extremely reliable and absolutely flawless technology. This is why we opted for our standard approach, using Christie projectors and our own OnlyView software. It was this combination that enabled us to bring the director's vision to life."
According to Andrey, one of the unique functions of Christie projectors is the ability to make economical use of their xenon lamps. The projector’s illumination power is reduced using the relevant function on the projector itself, rather than on the output system.
Marat Narimanov, Satirikon's Special Effects Director, notes that the theatre has already successfully used Christie projectors, namely three LCD projectors, in other productions. "The three-chip DLP projectors Christie Roadster S+20K are ideal for the broad range of applications required in theatrical productions: they are powerful, bright, and reliable”, he points out. "Of course, it is also very handy to be able to control the projectors remotely and configure them via Ethernet." Another important feature of this technology for theatrical use is the model’s remotely operated ‘curtain’ i.e., a motorised lens shutter.
Since its première in October 2012, this production of Romeo and Juliet has established itself in the theatre's repertoire. It was initially staged several times a month, each time to great acclaim. Ruslan Semenov adds, "We at ETC are always interested in working with theatres. We take great pride in our work with Konstantin Raikin and look forward to further, equally fabulous projects."
The team at ETC Russia is already in pre-production for another Satirikon show using the same equipment.
17th May 2013
Robe Sponsors Student Bursary for Vivid Sydney Festival Project
Robe is sponsoring a student bursary run by London-based lighting designer Simon Brockwell of design practice SBLD, that will enable him to take a lighting design assistant to work alongside him for the upcoming 2013 VIVID Sydney Festival of Light Music & Ideas in Australia.
Simon is presenting his interactive ‘Nocturnal Pianola’ lighting installation and concept.
Robe’s relationship with Simon goes back to when he was a lighting design/programming student at Rose Bruford College in Kent. When Nocturnal Pianola was selected as one of the works to be exhibited at the festival, he approached Robe to see if they were interested in getting involved in Vivid. Naturally, they jumped at the chance!
“Robe has never been about pushing the product, their emphasis is definitely on relationships,” comments Simon. “As a lighting graduate, I know the importance of students to have opportunities provided by those already working in the industry, and this is something that Robe obviously clearly values”.
Robe SRO’s CEO Josef Valchar and Ashley Lewis, key account manager for film, theatre & TV from Robe UK in particular have been instrumental in making the VIVID bursary happen and in taking an interest generally in Simon’s work.
Selecting a student to work with him in Australia for three weeks was a challenging task, and Simon was inundated with applicants form virtually every performing arts college in the UK.
“The standard of applicants was incredibly high,” he explains, which made it even harder. However, after examining all the CVs in detail and interviewing as many candidates as possible in person, he chose Jaz Hewitt, a first year lighting design student at the Central School of Speech & Drama in London.
“I wanted someone bright and talented who was not a known LD, didn’t have any specific design credits and who’d not previously worked before with a major lighting company. Basically someone who was open to learning and self-development.”
Jaz is delighted to have the opportunity and thrilled about the actual installation work and the way its interactivity can be developed. “I’m very excited about the placement – it’s something artistic and different that stands out. It will be a very memorable experience.”
Simon has every confidence that Jaz will be an excellent colleague: “I hope her experience of the event is enjoyable as well as beneficial,” he concludes.
As Nocturnal Pianola is a non-profit production undertaken by SBLD for cost, without Robe’s help, taking an assistant LD and offering an aspiring new young designer this fantastic experience would have been out of the question.
The installation will run from 24th May to 10th June on Sydney Harbour’s Circular Quay.
In picture: Simon Brockwell and Jaz Hewitt.
16th May 2013
Chaos Provided a Tasty Morsel at Tobacco Dock
Chaos Visual Productions was the video supplier of choice for the inaugural Taste Festival at London’s newest venue space, Tobacco Dock at Wapping Lane, East London. This historic Victorian warehouse has been converted into a modern multi-functional facility comprising over 16,000m2. The Lab at Tobacco Dock was hosted by Gizzi Erskine, the TV chef and food writer and was organised in partnership with AEG, the home appliance manufacturer.
The Chaos team, headed up by project manager Mick Jones, provided projection for a live relay screen on the AEG Live Stage where top chefs and culinary experts presented their perspective on how they create inspirational menus. The executive chef from the Fat Duck Group, Ashley Palmer-Watts was presenting alongside the renowned forager Miles Irving on the AEG Live Stage as did Tony Conigliaro, the ingenious drinks creator.
In the AEG Experiment Area, as well as the live relay screen, the production also benefited from mini cams and two Robocams. These were used, instead of a traditional more intrusive camera setup, to enable overhead shots of the demonstration zone where top chefs including Bo London’s Alvin Leung, The Kitchen Table’s James Knappett, Bruno Loubet and Duck & Waffle’s Daniel Doherty were able to showcase their culinary creativity to the audience.
To cover both areas, Chaos supplied three Christie Mirage W12 projectors; cameras were mixed on a Grass Valley Indigo with a Barco DCS-200 downstream. This also allowed two MacBook Pro’s running PlaybackPRO together with client graphics machines to be cut to screens along with the live camera shots.
Also appearing at the Taste Festival was Brazilian chef Alex Atala of Sao Paulo restaurant D.O.M and the three Michelin-starred Massimo Bottura. Catering skills were being demonstrated by Bubble Food who created liquid nitrogen poached mousses and hosted interactive workshops for guest to try their hand at making molecular caviare.
16th May 2013
Back on the Road: grandMA2 Joins Fleetwood Mac
Fleetwood Mac is back on the road and a grandMA2 console has joined the iconic band on the Fleetwood Mac Live 2013 World Tour. The new tour, which began in Columbus will wrap in Australia in December, marks the first for the band since 2009’s sold-out Unleashed tour. This year is also the 35th anniversary of their Rumours album, one of the most successful in recording history. It remained on top of the pop charts for more than 31 weeks and produced four Top Ten singles.
Lighting designer Paul “Arlo” Guthrie of Minneapolis-based Toss Film + Design is Fleetwood Mac’s long-time lighting designer. “I have to cater to four different personalities (Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks) and bring them together as one team,” he explains. “For this show we have four big soft box panels and 32 Clay Paky Sharpy Washes on curved lighting pipes, some of them on the floor, some on the rigs and some in pods that come out. They hang on weird angles and move during the show – some are on 45º, 90º and 120º angles. They’re well featured – the main workhorse washlight of the rig.”
The lighting designer brought his own grandMA2 full-size on tour to run “the whole show” and reports that, “it’s working as good as it always has. It’s super comfortable; it’s like hanging out with an old friend each day. My grandMA2 is more than capable of running everything, including the video.”
A.C.T Lighting is the exclusive distributor of MA Lighting in North America.
16th May 2013
Avolites Ai Media Server Maps all the Right Moves on Sky's Got to Dance
Avolites Media's industry-beating server "Ai" has been powering the fast-paced visuals for Sky TV's popular spring series of Got to Dance. A total of four Ai Server systems, running on Mac Towers, two main and two backup, were supplied to the production by video rental house Creative Technology.
Respected TV lighting and visual media programmer Russ Grubiak – who has worked on a number of high rating shows including the X Factor, Big Brother, and Friday Night with Jonathan Ross – chose to use the powerful Avolites Media Server Ai to manipulate the end visual output for series four of the show, which was created to discover the best dance act in the UK.
"The Ai's built-in visualiser has been a god send, particularly in television when you are operating from a gallery or position where you can't always see the stage with your own eyes," says Grubiak. "Often, the real cameras are offering different shots to what I need to see. The Ai allows me to program entirely from the visualiser for everything, and then simply check for brightness levels from the real cameras."
Grubiak works closely with visual effects designer Julien Rigal to create content for the production, aiming to give each individual act a unique and distinctive backdrop to complement the action on stage. "Julien and I jointly decided to use the Ai Media Server. As well as being an incredibly creative content designer, Julien is also a computer genius and actually developed some of the 3D Models and wrote some FX patches for the show system."
In fact, the pair say they rely heavily on the Ai to help them achieve the desired look because every different LED product has it's own set of characteristics. "Each show also has different challenges," continues Grubiak. "Ai is great as you have the entire tool kit under the bonnet of the system. You can wire up virtually any configuration to make a creative concept work. Also, even if you are a new user or unsure on how to deliver a specific task, the support of Avolites Media's Dave Green (co-creator of Ai) and his team is always close at hand and will always offer a solution."
With the help of Ai, Grubiak and Rigal were able to see the entire TV studio as one giant canvas, utilising Ai's ability to scale the outputs to compensate for the varying pixel pitches of the different LED fixtures including the large screens, Barco Mi-strip dance floor and edge strip around the set. Ai is equipped to playback to video canvasses up to 8 x HD1080 and this was a significant benefit to the production.
"Playing the content back across a wide canvas, using 4k files and the Ai codec has given the system a unique amount of output," says Grubiak. "The Graphical User Interface (GUI) is simple to use and now that the UV mapping can be addressed via the Ai software itself (using the Canvas Editor Feature), it has cut down time setting up the canvas; this is an invaluable new feature in the V7 software."
"Overall, Ai is a system that addresses the visuals needs of today yet has massive scope for the future," concludes Grubiak. "What can actually be delivered in software on Ai has considerably cut down on the amount of hardware on site such as scalers, mixers, etc that many other systems require."
Steve Warren, managing director of Avolites Media comments: "It's great to see the Ai products used on such imaginative and technically challenging shows. Russ and Julien have been very enthusiastic since they first trialled the products. As well as the flexibility of working with a huge canvas, Ai runs "AiM", a unique CODEC, and projects are progressed efficiently using the powerful Salvation node based engine and Ai's project based workflow."
Series four of Got To Dance concluded with Lukas McFarlane winning the prize for his own very distinctive and emotional contemporary dance style.
15th May 2013
Beyoncé Dazzles with 446 SGM X-5 Strobes
Two giants of the lighting world have come together to help provide a dazzling show for one of the world’s greatest artistes.
The introduction of the groundbreaking X-5 LED strobes from Peter Johansen’s SGM provided all the inspiration necessary for multi-award winning production designer, LeRoy Bennett, to specify almost 450 pieces for Beyoncé’s The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour, making it probably the brightest show ever recorded on a concert stage.
When the set climaxes with her popular song Halo, the accompanying drum roll is the cue for lighting director Whitney Hoversten (pictured) to trigger every strobe in the house, completing a blinding blitzkrieg. “We throw everything plus the kitchen sink at it,” he says.
Beyoncé herself had expressed a preference for a lightshow-dominated stage set this time around (rather than the current video-led paradigm) and Bennett immediately set to work creating a stunning light ladder ‘torm’, interspersed with mirrors, known by the crew as the ‘Wall of Inferno’, and fabricated by Tait Towers.
This is dominated by the low-profile, lightweight X-5, which is designed to deliver the same output as conventional strobes from one fifth of the power. Housing 2,970 LEDs, power consumption of 360W with lamp life of 50,000 hours, it is contained in a slim aluminium chassis and designed into three individual cells to boost creativity.
These attributes had been brought to LeRoy’s attention by one of his partners, programmer Cory FitzGerald, and Randy Wade, who heads up SGM Inc, based in Houston, Texas. And so the designer decided to specify them for the first time.
“I was impressed by the combination of power consumption, brightness and rugged design,” LeRoy explained. “But I was particularly impressed by the fact that each strobe breaks down to three individual cells, enabling me to project very low res graphics as well a bright blasts of light and strobing,” he said.
Most of the strobes are arranged in a 4 x 4 block formation, with the pods mounted in custom brackets. The fact that these cellular strobes can be operated independently when fitted to these special brackets makes for a perfectly spaced pixel blinder.
Whitney Hoversten, who also worked on the last Beyoncé tour, agrees that this provides the perfect opportunity to project low-resolution graphics, something he hopes to exploit later in the tour. “We will use the individual cells to pixel map it and play images through it. Also, split into three blocks you can make it appear as if there’s more fixtures when you strobe individually. What they are capable of is fantastic, particularly given their compact size and low power draw; every 4 x 4 pod is just one circuit which is a huge advantage with power distribution.”
In addition to the power wall, the strobes are featured on the stage itself, as well as the stage risers and the header — meeting the request of the artiste herself.
For Beyoncé takes a hands-on approach to production, reviewing her show tape every night, it was she who has now suggested an additional 15 X-5s be added to fill in across the centre section of the stage.
Summing up, Hoversten remarks: “It’s very cool to see a show get back to lighting instead of video — and this is the brilliance that LeRoy brings to the production. The wall is as bright as hell — and the audiences have been loving it. There are so many cues but Beyoncé places a lot of trust in us.”
The lighting inventory was provided by Illinois-based rental company, Upstaging Inc, who are LeRoy Bennett’s supplier of choice. “They have the best back-up and are always more than a 150% supportive of every project,” he says.
John Huddleston from Upstaging, in turn stated how impressed he was with the X-5. “It’s one of the first true plug and play effects we have purchased in a long time. The fixture design is very ‘Apple’-like in its elegance and we are happy to be able to offer them in our inventory.”
Finally, Whitney Hoversten added how impressed he had been by the support SGM had offered from production rehearsals right through to the shows themselves.
15th May 2013
DiGiCo is the (USB) Key for Live Band Audio
Added value for both performers and fans is one of the many advantages that digital audio has brought to live music. Taking this side of digital audio to the next stage is Live Band Audio, whose recently-purchased DiGiCo SD8 is key to delivering live recordings to audiences much more quickly.
Thanks to digital audio, instead of a few dates of an entire tour being recorded for release as the occasional live album these days fans are able to buy a recording of every show. The ability to have a recording of a gig you were at is a powerful incentive to purchase, providing satisfaction for the fans and more income for the artist.
Swindon-based Live Band Audio’s new mobile studio is aiming to make this even more accessible, by making live recordings of both entertainment and corporate events available on USB wristband flash drives almost immediately after the gig.
After graduating from Australia’s prestigious SAE Institute in Byron Bay, Australia, Live Band Audio director Adam Mardell has spent the past six years honing his craft as a mixing engineer. With a life-long interest in live recording he believed that there was a market to sell live albums, which not only gave the fans the 'magic of the night' but also provided the artist with an additional revenue stream. “By selling the music on USB bracelets we found we could make copies faster”.
Having decided to build a mobile facility that could achieve this, Adam’s choice of mixing console was straightforward.
“I had used DiGiCo consoles before. I liked the preamps, the reliability and the fact that the audio quality makes them a good choice for this kind of work,” he says. “The SD8’s channel count was the right size – we’re currently running 48 channels, but it can run up to 60 channels locally – and the effects are really good. We also have the Waves SoundGrid, which gives us extra creativity and is industry standard. Being able to use both the DiGiCo and Waves effects is brilliant, we can bring in any particular sound that an artist wants.”
Feeds for the system come from an onstage house splitter or, when one isn't available, the MaDiRack purchased with the SD8. MADI lines are run out to the mobile studio, where multitrack recordings are captured on two separate Pro Tools systems, for later mixing if required. Two stereo mixes for the ‘instant’ USB wristband recordings are output from four of the SD8’s outputs to a pair of Tascam SS-R200 digital recorders.
“One of the main reasons for providing this facility in a Transit-sized van is that we can work outside the venue,” says Adam. “We speak to the production company in advance to organise how the multitrack split is going to happen, but we don’t want to be in the production team’s way at the venue. Once we’re hooked up, we just run in the background. They can get on with the job and forget about us.”
Advance meetings are also held with the artist, to confirm any branding required on the finished USB wristbands and any particular requests regarding the sound. At the venue, Adam and the team will record the soundcheck, which they will then ask the artist to spend a few minutes listening back to for final approval.
“It is their art, so we make sure that the artist is 100% happy with everything before the show,” says Adam. “The reaction has been very positive and the DiGiCo system has been really reliable.”
Once the show has finished, Adam’s aim is to have around 300 recordings ready for purchase on USB wristbands within three-to-four minutes. Good news for the audience, but perhaps even better for the artist.
“The service doesn’t cost the artist anything and they can profit from the sales “the money we all make is distributed from the sale of the USB wristbands,” says Adam. “A lot of bands are touring on exceptionally tight budgets, so any extra bit of money is everything to them. This service provides extra revenue for them and something different for the audience.”