Production News Headlines
Keith Hoagland Creates Varied Background for Rob Thomas Album Release Party with Chauvet Professional
LD Systems light Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo concerts with Elation
USA – The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (HLSR) is the largest livestock exhibition and rodeo in the world, drawing more than two million people each year. An especially large draw is the 20 consecutive evenings of rodeo and concerts held at Houston’s NRG Stadium. HLSR recently unveiled a new star-shaped concert stage and backdrop truss structure for the shows that supports LED video and hundreds of intelligent lights, among them Elation Protron Eclypse, Elation Paladin, and Elation Fuze Wash Z350 fixtures.
Production company LD Systems has been working on HLSR since 1985 and for the 2019 version (25 February to 17 March) again provided complete audio, video and lighting production services and technical support for the NRG stage. LD Systems deployed a stadium-wide system of automated lights that lighting designer Nathan Brittain used to create spectacular looks for a star-filled line-up of nightly concerts that included names like Tim McGraw, Brooks and Dunn, Zedd, George Strait, Santana and more.
Multi-functionality has become an increasingly important aspect of a lighting fixture with Brittain employing Elation’s new four-in-one Protron Eclypse hybrid LED luminaire as a strobe fixture from overhead while also using it for eye candy effects for the audience. “We also washed the seating bowl in colour at times. In fact, we used all its functionality: blinder, strobe, wash light, and eye candy effect,” he said. “I had them in six-zone mode, which was sufficient to be read well from far away, even in a football stadium.” Some 56 Protron Eclypse fixtures were used in the setup located on multiple levels all around the main overhead lighting system above the stage.
With 96 10W RGBW LEDs producing 26,000+ lumens of power, the Protron Eclypse offers a full spectrum of colour options. Brittain continues: “One of the key features of this fixture is the size of the front face. I was looking for something with a large aperture for this show because of how large the venue is. The Eclypse is definitely one of the largest faced fixtures of its kind that I’ve seen. Of course, the intensity and colors are excellent as well. We also love that they are IPX4 rated for other shows that require us to use them outside.”
The designer says the Eclypse lights helped complete the look of the system when looking at the full picture. “The stage has a lot of pixel elements from several fixtures and I think the Eclypse’s continue that theme up to the overhead system,” he comments. “They really help to tie it all together.”
LD Systems turned to other Elation fixtures in the setup as well. Hanging high over the lower bowl and providing downwash onto the audience for camera shots were 36 Elation Paladins, powerful IP65-rated hybrid effects with twenty-four 40W RGBW LEDs that also multi-function as a high-power wash light, strobe, blinder or eye candy effect. Additional color came from 20 Fuze Wash Z350 single source Par LED moving heads mounted on the overhead system.
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo not only educates and entertains the public as a showcase of Western heritage, it also has a philanthropic element by supporting Texas youth. “The LD Systems team is proud to support the incredible charitable accomplishments of HLSR and is honoured to provide technical support for this great organization,” Brittain concludes. “And thanks to Joe Adams and Elation for all the support!”
photos: Ryan Paulin
17th May 2019
Clifford Michael Spulock Adds Edginess to Murder Ballad with Chauvet Professional Rogue Fixtures
USA – A sense of foreboding runs through Murder Ballad like the creaking noise in a dark and unfamiliar house. The Julia Jordan and Juliana Nash rock musical tells the story of a love triangle gone bad, as it spins into a vortex of ever-increasing pain, betrayal and shattered emotions.
In a recent production of the 2012 cult favourite at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, lighting designer Clifford Michael Spulock captured the apprehension of characters caught in a world turned upside down. Helping him evoke this feeling in powerful, unsettling fashion were the gobo capabilities of the Chauvet Professional Rogue R1 Spot fixture.
“The show is really charged with emotion as it moves through the breaking and splintering of relationships,” said Spulock. “I wanted to portray this feeling as literally as I could, not just with colour, but also by breaking up the light with gobos, which I felt would really convey a sense of the characters’ fragmented world.”
Spulock relied often on soft-edged gobo breakups even when front lighting the actors. He explained why: “With the gobo effect shaking up the sense of reality, the lighting tells you that ‘something is happening here, but we don’t quite know what.’ I decided to use this to my advantage to foreshadow the upcoming events of the show.”
As the characters’ relationships fell deeper and deeper into the abyss, Spulock’s gobo breakups became sharper and more shattered. Pushing his gobos further to the edge and using more unsettling back and side lighting, he underscored the emotional implosion taking place on stage.
“The lighting was really able to bring the emotions to the audience,” he said. “In this way, it supported the powerful performances by the play’s extremely talented actors: Sabrina Lynn Gore, Eric O'Keefe, Chris Alvarez, and Nikki Dikun. My work also owes a lot to Damien Matherson, the owner and producer of Measure for Measure Theatre, which produced the play.”
“As far the lighting itself goes, I really like the internal gobos that are in the Rogues,” continued Spulock. “Using these fixtures’ edge adjustment made for some really good textures on the actors. The one feature I couldn’t live without would be the 3200K CTO colour filter in the fixture. There were a lot of moments that called for the 8500K white of the fixture, but for the scenes that were early in the morning or just indoors, it really allowed me to get the tungsten warmth that I love.”
Looking beyond the gobo and colourising features of the Rogue R1 Spot, Spulock also valued the fixture’s rapid movements and 3-facet prism when lighting Murder Ballad. Given its strong rock flavour (there was a rock band pit), the show needed rapid pan and tilt movements to support its music. Drawing on the fixture’s prism, Spulock was also able to engender a rock vibe with lively aerial effects.
The tight iris of the Rogue R1 Spot also allowed Spulock to focus his light in ways that carved out the play’s distinct acting zones. “The show took place in the bar, the kitchen, the pool table at the bar (which was also the used as the bed in other scenes), and the general central area, which was used for different moments like the bathroom, the train, or the park,” he said. “Since we used the different acting zones at multiple times and places, I had to help the audience visualise being in those different locations. There was also a dream-like dance number in the show, which really used the lighting to hit the actors in different moments and poses to accentuate what was going on at given moments.”
During the play, which took place at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts’ cabaret style Abdo New River Room, the actors sometimes moved through the audience. “Since this show was actually done cabaret style, the audience sat at small tables instead of normal theatre seating, and the actors often interacted with them. I really had to have a versatile placement of the Rogues,” said Spulock. “I positioned four of the Spots on FOH truss, two house left and two house right. An additional two Rogues were on the apron truss, and the final two were on the upstage truss, along with four COLORado 1-Quad Zoom Tours.”
Working with this fixture arrangement, Spulock was able to convey the full power of Murder Ballad. So much so that one local theatre critic declared: “Lighting designer Spulock expertly paints with his palette. The lighting also provides focus and intensity.”
It was acclaim well-earned.
17th May 2019
DiGiCo SD5 Makes Music with Vetusta Morla
Spain – Spanish indie rock band Vetusta Morla has been touring its fourth studio album, Mismo Sitio, Distinto Lugar, throughout Europe to sell-out crowds, including a sell -out performance to nearly 40,000 at the Caja Magica Esplanade (The Magic Box) stadium in their home city of Madrid. For this tour, front of house engineer Alberto Ruiz Martinez chose to use two DiGiCo SD5 consoles, running at 96kHz, supplied by Spanish lighting and sound experts Tuá Pro.
Alberto Ruiz has been relying on DiGiCo consoles since the launch of the D5, the SD5's predecessor, so there was no learning curve.
"I have been using DiGiCo for years and they always provide quality and reliability," he says, "On previous Vetusta Morla tours I used the SD10, but due to the complexity of the new album, and the amount of FX and Snapshots changes controlled by MIDI, I made the decision to use the SD5. This gives me more power to quickly and simply create a complex show.
“The SD5 can integrate seamlessly with conventional MIDI control systems via its local I/O and Thru MIDI ports and its macro Smart Key technology can be used for MIDI triggers and more. We generate a session with the Ableton live program from the stage, from which I receive a SMPTE time code track. We change the SMPTE to MTC protocol with a sound card. Once we have MIDI time code, we insert it into the MIDI input port of the SD5 and we use it to change certain values of the mixing desk via the Snapshots during the show.”
Alberto Ruiz also needed to sync the console via MiDI with the stage world to allow him to replicate some of the album requirements in a live environment.
Vetusta Morla is a six-piece band with both drums (David García "el Indio") and percussion (Jorge González). Alberto Ruiz uses 69 input channels from stage to cover everything, along with 18 internal SD5 FX Racks and 17 racks in the integrated Waves Soundgrid system. Martinez: "We also recorded the show using the DiGiCo SD11 19-inch mixer and several DiGiCo UB MADI interfaces (hot-pluggable 48-channel USB 2.0 / MADI I/O)." He was helped with pre-tour preparation by Mateo Coll (Rental Multimedia, Barcelona), and on site by Alvaro Elena (Meyer Sound Spain, DiGiCo’s distributor)
For Alberto Ruiz, another stand-out aspect of the SD5 was I/O routing flexibility, facilitated by DiGiCo's Stealth Digital Processing technology, which can handle 896 optical, 168 MADI,16 Analogue I/O, and eight AES/EBU connections simultaneously.
"I am a fan of the DiGiCo SD5 because it makes the most complicated sessions an easy task,” he concludes. “Sessions that would be difficult, or even impossible, to carry out with other mixing desks because of their complexity can be accomplished in a more straightforward and efficient ways with the SD5.”
The tour continues in Spain until July, then crosses the Atlantic for a short US run in October.
17th May 2019
Alcons LR28 is the Right Philosophy for China Media Group Festival
China – With a spectacular outdoor live production and 6000m2 audience arena, the Mid-Autumn Festival Party of China Media Group is a difficult challenge for any sound reinforcement system. However, thanks to an Alcons Audio pro-ribbon LR28 larger-format line array system, the audience at the latest event in Qufu enjoyed high quality sound throughout.
Qufu is the home town of Confucius, China’s most famous teacher, philosopher and political theorist. Located in Nishan Holy Land, a 35km2 area around Qufu developed as a Confucius commemoration site and cultural heritage destination. The festival featured a huge, 60m wide stage and large set, with an audience of 5000 seated in an arena 80m wide by 100m deep.
Several audio challenges had to be overcome by the event’s audio director Liu Yibin, lead sound engineer for China Central Television (CCTV) and chief sound engineer Mr Xu. Because of the arena’s size, the front of house system had to be positioned and aligned very accurately. The festival site was also very close to Mount Ni mountain and the Nishan Reservoir, meaning strong breezes and changing humidity could cause problems with the sound.
To deliver great quality sound and overcome the potential issues, an Alcons Audio LR28 larger-format line array system was chosen, supplied by Alcons Chinese distributor and Pro-Ribbon partner EAD.
The main system comprised flown L-R clusters, each of 14 LR28/80 and two LR28/110 wide dispersion modules, plus three LR18 compact mid-size line array modules for downfill per side. Six ground-stacked groups of three LR18 were used across the front of the stage for fills, with 14 BC543 very high-output cardioid subwoofers arranged in L-R stacks of seven each. Due to the width of the stage, two more BC543 were used to enhance the bass in the central stage area. The system was powered and controlled by 28 Alcons Sentinel10 amplified loudspeaker controllers.
The HF section, the critical element of any line-array, in the LR28 comprises the multiple-patented, purpose-designed RBN1402rs 14” pro-ribbon transducer with 3,000 peak power handling and a 1:15 dynamic RMS-to-peak power ratio. Below 1kHz, 4 high-output 6.5’ midranges and 2 14” woofers complete the spectrum.
The site was modelled in EASE Focus software, which showed that the system would provide the required sound pressure level and even coverage. The CCTV audio team then used Alcons’ ALControl software to quickly and easily build the network system control for the arrays.
“Thanks to the directivity, all-natural cylindrical wavefront and exceptional throw of Alcons Audio’s pro-ribbon technology, a strong breeze and high humidity did not affect the transmission of sound at all. The pro-ribbon drivers of the LR28 system really pushed the high frequencies, ensuring very low distortion and maintaining a very clear sound for the whole audience,” says Mr Xu.
Liu Yibin agrees, adding “The Alcons Audio system ensured that the sound was very clear and accurate for all of the 5,000 people in the arena. The sound pressure level was maintained perfectly to the far back and sides of the audience, keeping a very even sound field throughout.”
17th May 2019
GLP JDC1s and X4 Bar 20s assume form for James Blake
Worldwide – Electronic wizard and Mercury Prize winner James Blake has been touring the States prior to returning to his native UK for theatre dates, and appearances at European festivals, starting with All Points East.
On the road with him is Blake’s long-serving, and highly experienced LD, Chris Bushell, accompanied by an inventory of GLP fixtures, chosen, he says: “For their uniqueness and versatility.” These include 18 of the JDC1 hybrid strobes (which he affectionately dubs ‘J-Dogs’) and 16 award-winning X4 Bar 20 battens (which with a wink he refers to as 'Twizzlesticks').
Having worked with the artist since 2011, the laconic LD took some time off to clear his head after finishing with Arcade Fire in September 2018 in the time-honoured fashion. Following the final gig in Las Vegas he hired a massive motorbike and rode off into the desert.
But when James Blake’s Assume Form album touring cycle was announced he zipped back into action, production designing to a brief that was to have less equipment on show “and less of the circus that can surround a show as it increases in size.” He explained, “Last time we went out, there was a large video screen, video content updates, long days, tension and people everywhere.”
The brief was already evident in his lyric: Lesson’s always there, that less is always more. “This suggested a stripped back design, with strong thought-out minimalist scenes that maximise a limited number of lighting sources, all to be hidden from view as far as possible.” The GLP armoury provided all the solutions he needed.
The three musicians on stage are on even-height platforms, and hidden behind each are six JDC1s. “These create epic halos around each musician as well as below the platform to give the illusion of the riser floating above the actual stage,” he explains.
Upstage he made an asymmetrical ‘V’ using the X4 Bar 20s. “These”, he says, “were offset – possibly by some kind of golden ratio amount – to one side, to form a false perspective between James’ position stage left and the drums in the centre. The beauty of this it allows the whole band to be silhouetted by either side of the ‘V’. “I love the tangible wall of light that they produce.”
Like many during the previous era, Chris Bushell had used the old DHA Digital Light Curtains, in his case with Florence & the Machine. “Those tilting par battens with a massive scroller on the front,” he says. “Whilst beautiful and unique, they didn’t really take well to concert touring, especially not inverted on the floor.
“I had pleaded with manufacturers since to produce a modern equivalent, but no-one seemed to think it was a good idea.” That was until GLP came along.
“Obviously now the X4 Bars are extremely popular and are incorporated in an upstage row on the majority of tours. However, I’ve found that forming a deep three-dimensional, asymmetrical shape as we have on this tour creates a more inclusive design for the whole audience.”
Chris Bushell has been programming and operating the show himself, stating, “It is important for this live electronic music that everything else also happens live. Therefore, there's no laptop on stage, no timecode, no playback, no over-contrived lighting sequences, just good old-fashioned fader pushing and musical timing.
“Therefore the massively reduced bite point of GLP’s LED fixtures (especially with the X4 Bars running in high resolution mode) allow me to go from the most gentle and subtle shifts in light and depth on the fly, to unbridled brutality when needed. And it makes a massive difference to the dimmer smoothness compared to normal mode.”
Avolites created separate fixture personalities enabling him to more easily play the separate elements of the JDC1 against each other.
“Although the JDC1 dimmer isn’t quite as smooth, subtlety across the whole dimmer curve (after the bite-point) is still a joy to play with,” he enthuses. “As such, one of the less obvious beauties of the JDC1 is, like most LED video screens, that it can go way brighter than you often ever need it to: the lighting equivalent to Nigel Tufnel’s guitar amp!”
Finally, he pays credit to his tech, Sean Ginsburg from Brown Note Productions in Colorado. “He is a mystical haze-whispering wizard and an avid cleaner of the lenses of these fixtures. Other than the occasional wipe down, there have been no technical issues with the GLP fixtures on this run.”
17th May 2019
ROE Visual Shines on Shawn Mendes Tour
The Netherlands – Shawn Mendes choose the Netherlands to kick off his nine-month world tour. The set, premiering in the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam, revealed a large circular video wall as the eye-caching center-stage piece, comprising of ROE Visual Carbon CB5 LED panels.
Based on the simple, yet visually strong light design by LD Louis Oliver a massive circular video wall looms over the stage, creating a dramatic setting. “We wanted to keep the performance space organic, allowing the technology to hide in the background,” Oliver says. “With the design, we wanted to craft bold environments for Shawn to perform within.”
The total stage set-up comprises a circular stage with steps on the left and right leading to two nine-metre wings. This gives a nice wide 280-degree sightline for the audience, while the front seats curve around the stage to bring them as close as possible to the artist. Above the stage sits a large circular video screen with complementary curved trusses for the lighting, all of these being able to move and thereby creating different atmospheres for each song.
VSS are commissioned as main video contractor for the world tour. Adrian Offord, director for VSS assisted Louis Oliver in the final choice for the overhead video wall.
“We selected the Carbon CB5 LED panels for their visual quality and high brightness. The panels are fitted with black face LEDS and masking with very slim faders. The mere 0.3mm size of these faders enables us to keep the best possible viewing angle. Using the screen most of the time in a tilted position this needs to be taken into account,” comments Offord.
Strongly believing in the fact that high-quality products always pay-off during demanding use, such as a tour, Offord is a true ROE Visual ambassador. “We needed both the quality and the reliability of the ROE Visual products on this tour. With the high-visibility of the circular video centre-stage, you don’t take chances”, states Offord.
Head of video for the tour, Josh Key is very content with the ROE Visual LED panels. “The build is really quick, perfectly fit for a tight touring schedule, the panels are very easy to mount and dismount and their performance flawless”.
17th May 2019
It’s All White on the Night
UK – Maestra Group has made some major sound, lighting and video equipment investments recently in the London office, including white sound and lighting kit, which will ensure all its clients have the most flexible and dynamic solutions available for their shows and events.
The ‘white stuff’ is proving especially popular for car launches and other automotive events, fashion shows, corporates, industrials and expo stands as well as for art exhibitions, parties and architainment applications, where white equipment is often better suited to blend into the environment than traditional black.
The kit includes a substantial purchase of 30 custom coated white Robe moving lights (12 LEDBeam 150s, 12 Spiider LED WashBeams and six Pointe multi-purpose fixtures) which brings Maestra London’s total stock of Robes to over 100 including black versions of these three types and others.
In addition to these, there are over 100 other white luminaires in the inventory, a mix of Showtec Sunstrip Active Mk IIs, ETC Source Four Junior Zooms and Aria F1000 Fresnels, all giving an excellent choice for different lighting designs.
On top of that, there is a selection of d&b audio speakers in white, currently a combination of Y7Ps, T10s, E5s and M6 monitors, which is expected to be expanded soon.
Maestra’s MD Justin Hammond highlights how the demand for white lighting and sound kit has dramatically increased in the last year in certain speciality sectors, and both Maestra Group’s London and Dubai bases have been proactive about addressing this.
The initial decision to get more white kit on board was prompted by an Easter event at The Lanesborough Hotel in London’s Michelin starred restaurant, Céleste, for which white lighting and sound equipment was essential.
“We saw the results of this and knew it was a sensible investment to get more kit on board in both locations. It’s been an instant success and having the flexibility of offering a diverse range of options to all our clients is a priority,” states Justin.
Maestra Group’s work in the fashion world has also grown over the last year, proving to be another area where white kit is specified by designers and show producers. “Fashion show presentations are becoming increasingly theatrical and more ‘high impact’ live experiences are being sought to reinforce runways worldwide,” explained Justin, “all of which need more production, some of it very specific.”
Recent Maestra Group projects utilising white products have included an event for luxury jewellery brand Akillis working for Z7 Communications in Dubai, as well as a conference for Nike Town in London and a private event hosted at the trendy Shoreditch Grind.
Keeping white equipment in stock means it must always be in pristine condition. There is a dedicated space assigned in the newly expanded warehouse in Woolwich, east London, where the kit is looked after by a diligent warehouse team including newly appointed technical asset manager, Jeremy Naunton, who ensures a rigorous cleaning and maintenance process is followed each time an item leaves and returns.
17th May 2019
Jeff Hinton and Chauvet DJ Reflect Two Distinct Styles in Johnny Cash/Neil Diamond Tribute Show
USA – With over 190 million albums sold between them, Johnny Cash and Neil Diamond are popular music icons. Although both artists have reached the pinnacle of their professions, they did so with two very different musical personas. Singer/guitarist Doug Allen Nash is managing to balance these two distinct styles on a global tribute tour that celebrated the artistry of both legends.
At a sold-out performance at the Historic Dixon Theatre in March, lighting designer Jeff Hinton from 815 Production DJ Service, Tampico, IL, also did justice to both artists with a versatile light show that reflected the mood and music of both Cash and Diamond. Aiding him in this endeavour were 14 Chauvet DJ Intimidator Hybrid 140SR moving head and six Intimidator 350 LED Beam fixtures.
“I’ve toured with Doug Allen Nash before,” Hinton said, “so I already knew most of the show pretty well. With my lighting design, I really wanted to establish two very unique colour palettes and styles to create a variety of moods, and decided to break out the new Intimidator 140SRs to help accomplish this. This fixture effortlessly morphs from spot to beam to wash, which really allows for great flexibility in the lighting design.”
The way Nash performs as Johnny Cash and Neil Diamond is as different as the singers themselves. “Bringing the music to life with lights always amazes me,” said Hinton. “For Cash, the mood is grittier and more intense, like the Man in Black himself. Nash’s version of Johnny Cash’s Hurt is one of my favourites, and for that I kept everything dark red except for the ground package of six 140SRs, which I set on a 15-second slow triangle sweep of the whole stage in a crisp, bright white. The juxtaposition of the darker colour with the movement of the white really helped create an intense atmosphere for the song. However, for Diamond, brighter, more jewel-like colours were required to match the more upbeat, pop-rock feel.”
The 140SR fixture offers 12 colours plus white, two independently controlled prisms, and dual gobo wheels. “The colours these fixtures produce are really intense,” Hinton said. “I particularly enjoyed the sepia-looking white I was able to achieve with the 140SRs. Using the prism with a very small gobo rotation provided one of my favorite features, and I was able to create some really evocative looks. I ran the Intimidator 350 LED Beams along the upper truss to complement the video wall. With both fixtures, being able to throw up different gobos and shift the light palette allowed me to completely change the look and feel on the stage, and beam movement and aerial effects really helped establish a style between Nash’s different personas.”
Whether lighting Johnny Cash or Neil Diamond, Hinton’s design was flexible enough to transform the stage from dark to dreamy for Nash’s sold-out tribute show. With an assist from Chauvet DJ, Hinton’s unique colour palettes matched the style and mood of both legendary performers, seamlessly transporting the audience into the legendary songs that have defined the American landscape for two generations, and continue to resonate today.
16th May 2019
Jackson Browne Takes it Easy with SolaFrames
USA – Singer songwriter Jackson Browne is taking it easy these days on lamp changes and power requirements by using an all-LED touring rig which includes High End Systems Sola Series.
Lighting designer/director Steve Comer chose five SolaFrame 2000s from lighting vendor Bandit Lites on his springtime acoustic concert tour, which ran through 13 US cities 22 March to 9 April.
“Our acoustic tour is a scaled-back tour production wise,” Comer explains. “I had to design a rig that could fit in a minimal truck footprint and still go up easily on a daily basis.”
The LD says using an all-LED rig has been an on-going goal. “We have been pushing to go 100 percent LED with Jackson for a long time now. The fixtures that were always lacking were LED spot fixtures. I tried the SolaFrames because of their light output (at 26,000 lumens from a 600 Watt LED source) and the ability to zoom wide (6-46 degrees zoom). I was also able to use them for a whole stage wash with gobos with minimal fixtures, and they acted as a primary backlight for the performers.”
Comer says that with just the five units he had, he was able to achieve both an even stage wash and backlight for his show.
“I was very impressed at the light output, the even field and great optics,” he notes. “The colour mixing was smooth and the fixture did a great job of CTB and CTO colours along with pastels.”
While framing shutters are a major feature of the fixture, Comer says this design was “a more theatrical show with little fixture movement,” so he did not use the framing shutters.
The LD, who’s worked with Browne for ten years now, is constantly redesigning looks for for his ever-changing configurations that range from a run with a couple of vocalists and a musician, to full-on productions with a full band on stage.
photo: Steve Comer
16th May 2019
Meyer Sound Brings Spatial Technology to Moogfest
USA – Meyer Sound returned to Durham, North Carolina from 25 to 28 April for its second year as the official sound partner of Moogfest, the landmark festival that brings together the most visionary and creative minds in music, art, and technology. This year’s expanded presence included providing multi-channel systems for concerts, workshops, and technology demos at the festival’s anchor performance spaces, including the Durham Armory, the 21c Museum Hotel, and Fletcher Hall at The Carolina Theatre, as well as two installations at the Durham Fruit and Produce Company. Many of the events in these venues showcased Meyer Sound’s Spacemap, which provides spatial mixing for any loudspeaker configuration. New user interfaces were developed for Moogfest to provide simple, real-time, spatial audio control.
The Moogfest partnership provided an opportunity to demonstrate a new world of creative possibilities for live performances. “Moogfest’s spirit of innovation in music technology aligns closely with our efforts to bring spatial sound to live music production,” says Steve Ellison, Meyer Sound’s director, spatial sound.
At the Armory, Ellison partnered daily with guest artists to demonstrate ways Spacemap can be used in real time. “We created sets that gave us a chance to, in a sense, create spatial duets,” explains Ellison, who improvised mixes that showed how spatial audio control could have the expressiveness of an instrument.
Composer and synthesiser pioneer Patrick Gleeson presented spatial mixes of new, largely improvised work in one of these sets. “When we're in real life, all sound is spatial. It changes as you move and it's changing constantly,” says Gleeson, adding that spatial sound is “going to change the way I write music. If I know I'm writing for 360 degrees, it's a little bit different. There are more possibilities.”
Composer Jim Lang presented spatial mixes of various works including selections from his and Gleeson’s project :Jazz Criminal:, as well as a live improvisation. “Meyer gave me an opportunity to experience music that I'd made over the past ten years in a completely different way,” says Lang, who is perhaps best known for his work scoring the Nickelodeon series and movie Hey, Arnold! “As a film composer, I get to work in 5.1, but a lot of the time I'm not getting to use the surround sound as a musical element, as a compositional element.”
“I really hope that spatial sound can be a part of any live performance that I do from here on in,” Lang continues. “That seems like a grand thing to say but really, once you've experienced it, it's hard to think about just doing stereo any more.”
Meyer Sound systems supported three nights of performances at The Armory, The Fruit, 21c Museum Hotel, and the Carolina Theatre, powering the musical expressions of artists including Matthew Dear, Max Cooper, Kimbra, Craig Leon, Mount Kimbie, JLIN, A Place to Bury Strangers, Richard Devine, and Juan Atkins, plus an epic DJ set by Questlove. The systems incorporated both D-Mitri and Galileo Galaxy signal processing and a wide range of Meyer Sound loudspeakers including the recently introduced USW-210P compact narrow subwoofers at each surround position as part of the six channel system in the 21c installation and twelve UPQ-D3 ultra-wide coverage loudspeakers in surround positions at the Armory as part of the venue’s 14.4 configuration.
Performances celebrated spatial sound’s potential to energise live audiences and make them feel closer to the audio experience and artists. “There are so many things about 3D sound and spatial audio that are really important, but the main one, I think, is for people to really feel the music in a different way,” says electronic trip hop artist Sofia Hultquist, a.k.a. Drum & Lace, who performed a spatially enhanced set at 21c. “It just adds a whole new dimension; I think that it's going to do nothing but elevate and expand on my music, and on music in general.”
Collaborating with artists on-the-fly often led to profound “aha!” moments, says Ellison. “In the Max Cooper concert, there were times when we moved the entire mix out to the surrounds and brought the energy out and around the audience, and then when the beat kicked back in, moved the mix back to the arrays to draw focus back to the artist. As the energy increased, we could slice out part of the sound and pulse it out to the room in time with the music. We could sense the excitement from the audience from this evolution of the mix.”
In addition, at the Carolina Theatre, Steve Ellison moderated a “Making Music Spatial” panel with composer and media innovator Naut Humon, composer/sound designer Martin Carrillo, DJ/producer Felipe Valencia, and Virginia Tech Institute for Creativity, Arts and Technology (ICAT) media engineer Tanner Upthegrove.
Ellison says the best part of partnering with Moogfest is being able to collaborate with artists and mixers to push the envelope of live mixing and, sometimes, incorporate updates overnight. “It's like a lab venue for artists to explore their craft in a new way and for us to look at technology that has been supporting systems and shows throughout the world for years in a new way,” he says.
Moogfest’s CEO Gillian Ryan reflected on the partnership between the festival and Meyer Sound that has created new opportunities for both artists and attendees. “Moogfest is the culmination of technology, future thought, and music. Meyer Sound, our official sound partner of 2019, synthesised these ideals through their high-end audio systems throughout the festival. This did not go unnoticed to our audiophile crowd,” says Ryan. “The spatialised Meyer Sound systems in the Armory, 21c, and Fruit Black Box provided incredible, interactive experiences that enlightened the artists that performed and the fans alike. Meyer Sound understands the importance of quality in the live experience, and I look forward to continuing our partnership into Moogfest 2020.”
Moogfest celebrates synthesiser pioneer Dr. Robert Moog and the influence his inventions have had on the way we hear the world. The festival, now in its 15th year, explores the intersection of art and technology through musical performances, visual art exhibitions, interactive experiences, discussions, and film screenings.
16th May 2019
Post Malone Performs Like a Rockstar with DPA Microphones
Worldwide – As FOH engineer for best-selling rapper, singer and songwriter Post Malone, Joe Hellow takes pride in capturing the artist’s feelings and emotions during live performances. Getting a rich and warm sound in hip-hop can sometimes be a challenge, with a lot of artists cupping the mic and losing the high end, but when Hellow brought DPA Microphones’ d:facto 4018VL vocal microphone into the mix, he did not have to make any compromises and found the results extraordinary.
Hellow’s collaboration with his sound team began with a rigorous brainstorming session and testing. “We built a signal chain that is strong on all fronts, truly bringing the studio to the stage,” says Hellow. “Pre-show efforts begin well before hitting the stage, track programming and pre-mixing album stems for live, playback design, as well as the vocal presets and tools to capture Post Malone’s sound. This process, with tools like DPA’s d:facto 4018VL, gives us the advantage and capability to rework the live show to sound authentic to the album. Other microphone manufacturers say that they are studio quality but all you hear with them is crowd noise or a lot of proximity effect because competing capsules pick up way too much ambient sounds. With the d:facto 4018VL, you can have a loud stage with controllable crowd bleed. You can also add a Rupert Neve 5045 primary source enhancer to have fully isolated studio sound.”
Hellow notes that in Post Malone’s case, there is a guitar on stage so the mic does a great job of isolating while also getting the warmth and crispness of the high end that is wanted from a vocal mic. He also has more control over EQing with DPA and is able to take away frequencies since all the healthy ones present to the ear are already there.
“There’s no other mic like the d:facto 4018VL,” adds Hellow. “I use this transducer to capture Post Malone’s dynamic, high-impact voice. When using the d:facto 4018VL, most of the artists I work with notice right away that they’re on something superior to what they have used previously.”
In addition, Hellow has also been very pleased with the customer service he receives from DPA. “From demo mic’s to knowledge-based questions and answers, the DPA team has provided excellent support throughout our journey,” says Hellow. “It’s no coincidence that DPA’s reputation is one of the most trusted, reliable and secure in the industry.”
Post Malone recently performed “Rockstar” and “Stay” with his d:facto 4018VL mic at the 2019 Grammys, before joining Red Hot Chili Peppers for “Dark Necessities.” Malone is currently on a world tour, which has stops in Manchester, Birmingham, Berlin, Glasgow and London's O2 Arena throughout the summer.
16th May 2019
SSL Hits the Road with Mexican Legends, Los Temerarios
Mexico – Los Temerarios are one of Mexico's biggest bands. With a career spanning over 40 years and 20 albums, the Grammy-nominated act are still selling out arenas across the globe, attracting over 10,000 fans to each show. To ensure the best audio production for each show, revered FOH live engineer, Juan Payan, decided to take the new SSL L100 on the road for their new tour. With Payan's partner in sound, Juan Carlos Granados, also on an L100 at monitors, everything is sounding and performing better than ever before.
It was through a training event with SSL's live specialist Fernando Guzman, that Payan first heard the SSL L100 in action.
“It was during this event that the sound of the console immediately impressed me. I knew I needed to have one,” Payan explains. “I've had it out on the road with me since February, and everything has been working perfectly, no issues at all.”
Payan says it was a combination of factors that drew him to the console, from the dynamics to the overall sonics.
“I really love the preamps and I don't need to touch the gain, because it instantly sounds amazing. The separation I can get between the instruments allows me to generate real width in my mix,” he says. Payan is running 52 channels at FOH, and the band is a seven-piece. A big sounding band needs a big sound, he says – and he is able to achieve that thanks to the SSL.
“The EQ is also amazing; as soon as you dial it in, you can tell it's very reactive, and easy to tap into any frequency. Plus, I use the SSL reverbs on my drums and vocals, and I utilise the delays a lot across the console.”
“Everything that comes through this console is very clear, there is no muddiness whatsoever,” Payan insists. “It's way better sonically, and I am getting much more clarity than I was when using my previous console. I also multi-track each show using Pro Tools, and the quality of the recordings now are very impressive.”
Payan concludes: “The shows have been fantastic, and it's down to us having the best audio set-up we could possibly have.”
16th May 2019
Elation Colour 5 Profile for Fiddler on the Roof in NYC
USA – A Yiddish-language production of Fiddler on the Roof opened at Stage 42 in New York City on 21st February with direction by Joel Grey and lighting design by Peter Kaczorowski. Playing an important role in this special version of the acclaimed musical are Elation Colour 5 Profile LED ellipsoidal spots supplied by G Scott Designs, Inc.
Associate designer is Ethan Steimel who says that Kaczorowski required a fixture that colour changed in a tight warm palette from no colour incandescent to gel colours L162 to L147. He adds that the designer also wanted to achieve a deep blue.
The solution was found in the Colour 5 Profile LED ellipsoidal, a luminaire that excels at variable coloured or white light illumination in theatre environments. Housing a 180W RGBAM (red, green, blue, amber and mint) LED engine, the mint LED enhances the production of variable white colour temperatures from 3,200 to 6,500K and increases the CRI. An exceptionally flat field of light, CRI over 94, and a professional feature set that includes a four-blade framing system and interchangeable lens options make it a highly flexible directional spot luminaire for theatre.
For Fiddler, eight Colour 5 Profile fixtures are used to light the crinkled paper portal legs.
All lighting for the production has been supplied by G Scott Designs, Inc. Glen Davis of G Scott Designs says they have successfully used the Colour 5 Profile in their own designs for years and keep 70 in stock along with other Elation gear like SixPar series LED par lights, Colour Chorus LED battens and TVL CYC RGBW cyclorama wall wash luminaires.
"It was a big job moving the entire village of Anatevke from Battery Park to 42nd Street,” said associate designer Steimel. “Glen Davis at G. Scott Designs, Inc. did a superb job swapping out over half the lighting rig to accommodate the new venue."
The Yiddish-language production of Fiddler on the Roof at Stage 42 is an open-ended run with plans to be in production for one year. The play does include subtitles so that non-Yiddish speakers can follow the celebrated musical as well.
photos: Matthew Murphy
15th May 2019
Armin Van Buuren’s Five-Hour Wembley Dance Fest Through MLA
UK – It took less time for Dutch DJ legend Armin van Buuren to sell out his much-anticipated Wembley Easter show at SSE Arena than it did to play the incredible five-hour long set, in what was his biggest date ever in the capital.
The titan of trance sold out the venue, which is restricted to 6,000 for dance events (occupying the arena bowl and Tier 1 only) in just three hours, a feat posted on social media in advance by promotions company Lock ‘N’ Load Events.
The specialist event organisation regularly turns to Capital Sound for its sound reinforcement requirements, and in turn look to Martin Audio’s award-winning MLA loudspeaker array as its first choice PA system.
As Lock ‘N’ Load project manager, Alex Anderson explained: “I advised [artist’s management] that we needed MLA in there because of its programming capabilities with regards to external noise levels.
“Since this was a late night show, and protecting the venue licence is a priority for us, I explained that we had used it with [top drum ‘n’ bass DJ] Andy C recently and managed to run at around 100dB-102dB at FOH, which is a level that they could work with.
“In addition, MLA sounds great so it’s a 'no-brainer' for us.”
Indeed, the system has been designed to deliver full-bore SPL in the bowl while dramatically reducing noise pollution off site, in sensitive or highly built up areas such as Wembley. It was the perfect solution for a dance event of this nature that ran through to 5am.
Production rigged 12 MLA elements and two MLD downfill enclosures on each side of the stage, with side hangs of six outfacing MLA Compact elements on each flank.
Across the front, in a broadside cardioid array for rear rejection, were 16 MLX subwoofers (with 150dB peak capability), keeping any bass well away from the back wall, with eight Martin Audio XD12 spaced along the tops of the subs for nearfield coverage.
To meet the rider request Armin van Buuren was also supplied with Pioneer CDJ-2000NXS DJ decks and Allen & Heath Xone:DB4 mixer (by FX Rentals), while sound engineer Wouter Asselman piloted a DiGiCo SD10 at front of house, where he was supported by Capital system tech Dan Fathers and PA technician Andreas Andreou. Tim Paterson was Capital Sound’s crew chief, Antony Best monitor technician and overall tour manager was Sander Reneman.
photos: Graham Joy Photography and Lock N Load Events
15th May 2019
CPL adds Video Magic for Audi e-tron video
UK – Working with media production company Second Sight, technical specialist CPL supplied its Roe 5mm LED screen and a disguise media server as a fully flexible and creative solution for a two-day video shoot at Moorland Studios in Worcester.
The purpose of this was to create content for upcoming Audi dealership events during the launch of their much-anticipated e-tron SUV, the first fully electric car available from Audi.
It started with conversations between CPL’s project manager Lee Gruszeckyj and Second Sight’s Guy Shayler, and the original idea for the shoot was to have a high clarity LED backdrop showing graphics and imaging behind the car as the studio footage was shot and compiled.
The Second Sight team then suggested utilising light from the content playing out on the back-wall video display plus a series of portable totem LED towers placed around the space as the main light sources for the shoot.
They thought that they could also use video for other interesting effects like outlining the contours and striking lines of the vehicle with strips of footage to create something different, fresh and visually dynamic.
Lee and CPL then went on to suggest the best products to achieve the effect and create a 3D visualisation and mock-up in the disguise.
With this plan hatched, once in the studio, in addition to basic key lighting, CPL installed a 12-metre-wide by 4.8-metre-high video wall made up from their Roe CB5 5mm screen. This proved ideal to run all the high definition 4K footage and motion graphics content that had been created by Second Sight and Audi, which CPL programmed onto the disguise server.
Two sets of four portable totems were also constructed in the studios, all clad with the same high-quality Roe 5mm screen surface and each measuring 3.6 metres high and 60mm wide. These were moved around and positioned to get the best angles and reflections on the e-tron vehicle.
Mostly, the totems were placed either side of the car in an asymmetric arrangement, sometimes in blocks and often offset or staggered, positioned to create the coolest and most imaginative looks as the video content bounced and reflected off the highly polished vehicle.
Utilising the disguise, Lee, Guy and the team could colour balance and match all the video footage across the various LED surfaces and, through diligent mapping of the vehicle, position and reposition it for the best effects.
“It was a highly adaptable system that offered multiple options,” commented CPL crew chief Mike Radford who oversaw the operation on site. It allowed everyone to work efficiency and record numerous different effects that can be further refined and edited in post.
Highlighting the car with carefully focused video sources and their associated ambient lighting, combined with minimal key lighting brought a stylised high tech look in addition to adding drama, depth and dimension to the ‘master’ video picture, energising and bringing the e-tron to life.
Cameras were supplied by Second Sight and directed by Derek Gruszeckyj.
photos: Sam Thomas
15th May 2019
Keith Hoagland Creates Varied Background for Rob Thomas Album Release Party with Chauvet Professional
USA – When a rock superstar who’s won three Grammy Awards and has a 12-time platinum album to his credit has an album release party, it’s safe to assume there’ll be a big media turnout for the event. This is exactly what happened on Friday 26 April, when Rob Thomas introduced his new Chip Tooth Smile album to the world at the iHeartRadio Theater in Manhattan’s SoHo neighbourhood.
Lighting designer Keith Hoagland created a camera-friendly background for Thomas, as the singer/songwriter performed songs from his new LP as well as some he made famous with Matchbox 20. Helping Hoagland accomplish this was a collection of 12 Chauvet Professional Rogue R1 FX-B fixtures from the theatre's house rig.
“I am a big fan of this fixture, and have used it many times in the past, because it’s compact and versatile,” said Hoagland. “In this case, I wanted something that could create attractive eye-candy behind the band. This was to be a four camera shoot, and I needed something behind the band members to catch the camera and fill the negative space. The FX-B was the perfect choice.”
Hoagland arranged his Rogue R1 FX-B fixtures in four rows of three units, each positioned evenly behind the band. At times the RGBW linear fixtures were oriented straight up and down, while at other points they were tilted diagonally in different configurations.
“The FX-Bs gave me a lot of versatility and helped me give each song a unique look,” said Hoagland. “Everything worked well for this show. Eric Morris, the house LD, was really helpful, especially in keeping the key light balanced. I think the world of Rob Thomas and his whole organisation. This was a big event for them, and I was proud that everything looked so good.”
photos: Trocchio Photography
15th May 2019
Ayrton WildSun K-25 TC premieres with Boston Ballet in North America and Paris
USA & France – Ayrton, and its exclusive US distributor, ACT Lighting Inc, in conjunction with lighting equipment supplier 4wall Entertainment, supported Boston Ballet’s 2018–2019 spring season with the provision of Ayrton WildSun K-25 TC LED fixtures for Full on Forsythe, a trio of works from prestigious choreographer William Forsythe. The programme comprises of the World Premiere of Playlist (EP), Forsythe’s first world premiere to be created with an American company since 1992, the North American premiere of Blake Works I, and the return of Pas/Parts 2018.
Boston Ballet’s lighting director, Brandon Stirling Baker, explains why he chose Ayrton WildSun K-25 TC: “As the lighting director of Boston Ballet it is my responsibility to maintain the work of over 100 international lighting designers in our repertory. I am always looking for creative tools and lighting equipment that allow the designers to create their vision but, most importantly, find equipment that is efficient and reliable enough to endure a month-long season.
“For over 20 years, Boston Ballet has used HMI 4kW Fresnels which provide a beautiful quality of white light but are not without their own unique consequences. I have been searching for the perfect HMI replacement. Ayrton is a company that I have greatly admired for many years and when I heard about its WildSun K-25 TC, I immediately knew that this could be a great replacement and solution to the HMI problem.”
Ayrton WildSun K25-TC (true colour) is an evolution of the WildSun K25, specially geared to shooting and broadcasting in high-definition. It produces an extremely high-quality light of up to 63,000 lumens without flicker, a colour temperature perfectly calibrated at 5700 K, a CRI greater than 92, and a zoom range of 12° to 60°. Its luminous intensity can be fine-tuned using the precision electronic dimmer, and the user can control each concentric circle individually to adjust power or create dynamic effects.
WildSun K-25 TC is the only LED luminaire capable of measuring up to the classic Fresnel HMI 4,000W and 6,000W lights in terms of pure output. “The intensity of the Wild Sun is incredible,” confirms Baker. “After conducting many side-by-side tests with manufacturers from all over the world, we found the Ayrton WildSun K25 TC was the only fixture that could compete with the HMI 4K, not only in terms of intensity but also clarity.”
For the premieres of Full on Forsythe, two WildSun K-25 TC fixtures were hung directly over centre stage from where they were used to directly mimic and re-create the clean, cold white light that was created with the classic HMI Fresnel. “We were also able to utilise the WildSun’s ability to change focus, zoom and intensity easily,” says Baker, “to create dynamic visual looks that are completely unique to each dance, without a delay in the creative process.
“Replacing the classic 4kW Fresnel with the Ayrton WildSun not only eliminates the old-fashioned and time-consuming re-focus process, but also allows the designer to create a custom focus and zoom range specific to the surrounding scenic environment. This ability to change focus remotely was used in many variations during the cueing process.” The WildSun K-25 TC fixtures were programmed by Jon Gonda from Boston Ballet using a grandMA2 console.
“Ayrton WildSun has an aesthetically beautiful design,” concludes Baker. “It has a clean, elegant look for a theatrical lighting fixture that not only provides a beautiful quality of light but also, visually, can be used as a scenic idea in any live performance.
“Boston Ballet is unique in being the only major ballet company in the United States to have over 50 moving lights in our standard repertory plot. My hope and dream is that the Ayrton WildSun will become a permanent solution to replace the HMI White Light effect that is required, not only on the many ballets that we perform here in Boston, but also on our international tours.”
Full on Forsythe ran from 7th -17th March at the Boston Opera House with WildSun K25 TC fixtures supplied for the world premiere by 4wall Entertainment, before transferring to the Theatre des Champs Elysees, Paris, France from 9th -11th April where the units were supplied directly by Ayrton.
photos: Angela Sterling
15th May 2019
dLive at Centre of Show for Primo Maggio Roma 2019
Italy – dLive was found in abundance again at this year’s Primo Maggio event in Rome. Broadcast live via the RAI national TV channel, the 29th edition of the annual event showcased eight hours of spectacular live performances from 31 major and emerging artists, including various national favourites such as Daniele Silvestri, Ghali and Subsonica, and attracted over 500,000 attendees.
Supplied by local production company ABC and supported by Allen & Heath’s Italian distributors, Exhibo S.p.A, the full set-up comprised eight dLive systems, five IP8 controllers, an SQ, DX remote audio expanders and additional Dante, SuperMADI and gigaACE cards.
As per past events, Primo Maggio featured its impressive rotating dual-stage set-up, allowing for one act to line-check while another performed, minimising the changeover time between acts. Each stage had its own dLive S5000, IP8 remote controller and DM48 MixRack handling FOH duties, while an additional C1500 and DM32 handled all talk-backs, comms, video feeds and wireless mics for the RAI presenters.
Monitors mirrored a similar set-up to FOH, delivering over 40 IEM and wedge mixes with two dLive S7000s (fitted with Dante for virtual soundcheck) and two DM64 MixRack’s for each side of the stage. A C3500 paired with a DM32 tackled the communication requirements between stage, the presenters and FOH, while an additional SQ-6 was used for combining outputs from the S7000s into the shared sidefill monitors.
Two further S7000 surfaces, fitted with Dante, were deployed on broadcast duties and paired with two DM64 MixRacks (for each side of the stage), two IP8 controllers and an SSL console, which was used for combining signals to the on-air transmission.
Due to the sheer scale and complexity of the event, production takes 13 days from load-in to load-out, requiring dozens of technicians and two full days of back-to-back soundchecks. Roberto Marchesi (pro audio manager at Exhibo) attributes part of the event’s huge success to the power and flexibility of dLive and its ability to quickly and easily handle multiple, complex situations.
“At Primo Maggio, the dLive systems weren’t there just as mixing consoles, they truly formed the core of the whole audio distribution system, thanks to their ample patching, tie-line and audio networking capabilities,” Marchesi comments. “Whether it was routing ambient microphones, digital splits, shout lines or video contributions, it was extremely easy to zoom into the I/O screen and patch it on the fly. It made the set-up and stage changes a breeze.”
Also supporting the event was Allen & Heath’s head of product, Nic Berretta, who adds: “I had extremely positive feedback from all the engineers involved in the event, including guest engineers mixing on dLive for the first time, with very little training and in a high-pressure situation. It was great to see how quickly they adapted to dLive, with several commenting on the usability, reliability, sound and how easy it was to create a great mix with minimal effort. The recent additions in dLive’s V1.8 firmware also proved to be a real game changer, particularly on monitors.”
15th May 2019
Björk’s Cornucopia, enriched by the d&b Soundscape at New York’s newest cultural centre
USA – On 9th May Björk opened her Cornucopia season at New York’s newest cultural centre The Shed, utilising a full 360 degree d&b Soundscape system powered by the d&b En-Scene object based mixing and En-Space room emulation software. As an integral part of the performance design. Cornucopia is Björk’s most elaborate stage production to date incorporating stunning visuals, intricate stage movements and a fully integrated immersive sound design, made possible by the d&b Soundscape.
Beginning the sound design conception in a studio in Iceland the production has progressed through production rehearsals in the Backstage Centre, London, to The Shed in New York City. Cornucopia’s sound was designed by Björk and FoH sound engineer John Gale, supported by Southby Productions, and Steve Jones from d&b.
Steve Jones from d&b explained: “Björk wanted the sound for Cornucopia to create an otherworldly sensory experience that draws the visual, aural and virtual elements together and utilising Soundscape, from the studio composition scenario all the way through to the show performance scenario has delivered of that vision.”
Built within the new Hudson Yards development in Manhattan, The Shed is already an iconic structure. Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, lead architect, and Rockwell Group, Collaborating Architect, it is a spectacular 200,000-square-foot structure that physically transforms to support huge flexibility in programming and performance styles.
Cornucopia is staged in The McCourt space, formed when the mammoth outer shell of the structure is rolled out to cover the adjoining plaza and create a 17,000-square-foot light, sound, and temperature controlled hall for large-scale performances, installations, and events. It can accommodate a seated audience of approximately 1,200 and a standing audience of more than 2,000.
15th May 2019
JLE Audio AB invests in DiGiCo
Sweden – Swedish rental company JLE Audio AB has recently invested in a DiGiCo SD5, SD10 and SD-Rack, purchased through DiGiCo’s Swedish distributor, Soundware, sending the system straight out for Sweden’s biggest gospel singer Samuel Ljungblahd, who played with US gospel legend Kirk Franklin at on a one of extravaganza at the Arenan Fryshuset in Stockholm at the end of last summer.
“We had received many requests for DiGiCo consoles,” says JLE’s Johannes Jonsson. “DiGiCo consoles are very rider-friendly, are powerful and flexible, and the sound quality is excellent. This combination means that as well as fulfilling the request for the concert, the purchase made sense as an investment. The consoles are a very useful asset as part of our rental stock, not least because we already have more than 200 L-Acoustics loudspeakers and the combination of the two brands allows us to handle any project that comes our way.”
For Kirk Franklin and Samuel Ljungblahd, the SD5 handled monitor requirements, whilst the SD10 was at the front of house position. The decision was made to use them on the show partly because of the request on the rider, but not least for the audio quality, the capacity of the SD5 as a monitor console and the simplicity of all the system, which was connect via an Optocore loop.
The front of house SD5 had a total of 126 inputs, including FX returns, plus 33 stereo Aux and nine mono sends. The SD10 meanwhile handled 118 inputs with FX returns and a Waves server.
“The Snapshots management is really good as is all the possibilities with macros,” says Johannes. “The service from Soundware has been excellent. Their support is first class and we got the right help at the right time. Everybody is really happy with the consoles.”
JLE’s DiGiCo’s have been working hard ever since. In fact, they are so happy with their initial investment that they have now added an SD12 and a SD-Mini Rack with 32-bits card to its inventory.
15th May 2019
Blackout premiers with great support from the industry and beyond
UK – At the beginning of May, a two-year project came to be realised for inspirational Guildford School of Acting lighting tutor Michelle 'Mig' Burgess when her unique design installation Blackout was revealed to the industry.
Harnessing the collective powers of light, sound and video in the hope of affecting genuine changes in an approach to mental health, Mig set about on her quest over two years ago.
Mig is searingly open about living with Bipolar II disorder – a condition with which she was finally diagnosed in her late 20s. And for the past couple of years, she has been formulating a plan to create a design installation to portray, in a sensory way, the mental journey inside a Bipolar II patient’s head as they transition through a manic episode.
The result has been a highly provocative, moving installation, experienced alone for six minutes, and which, over the course of four days was seen by over 250 industry professionals, venue operators, young people and mental health experts.
Sometimes actions speak louder than words and this is how Mig wanted the piece to be portrayed.
“I’m a creative; it is far easier to express my feelings through art than through words. And literally, as the strapline of Blackout explains, ‘sometimes the lights go out in my head’.”
The installation is set in a quiet, closed black box, and each visitor is asked to step through LED strips and up onto a steel deck platform and into the truss structure to stand in the very centre of the piece. By looking beyond the LED strips it is possible to see four video screens placed around the structure.
The timecoded Blackout sequence starts off with the wall projections (life outside Mig’s head) and LED lighting (Mig’s brain) being harmonious and pleasant, all functioning like clockwork. As this dips into the bipolar spectrum – often triggered by an external event – the brain’s ‘normal’ activities start to shut down and disengage from the world around as the mood irrevocably sinks.
At its lowest point, all the lights go out completely, with the world around (on the projection screens) continuing, oblivious. This is the dark and inhospitable place that Chester Bennington, lead vocalist of Linkin Park described as having absolutely “no sunshine”.
From this isolated, dark place, the next section of the installation evokes the process of how the brain starts to return to normal, a process which in real life can take several days or weeks.
When the recovery is complete, the lighting sequence and the bipolar cycle return to the devised start sequence as the person regains balance, structure, and some sort of control.
It’s meant to be hard-hitting, and it’s meant to be brave. And for some, perhaps a little uncomfortable to be in a black box, alone, with all senses being challenged.
The creative team role call is certainly impressive and made up of a number of recognised industry professionals all of whom are long-term friends of Mig’s. “I had to bide my time to ensure that if I went ahead, I could deliver the project to a high enough standard to do the installation justice,” explains Mig. “Whilst the birth of my daughter Chloe was a driving force – because I wanted her to see her mum being strong, open and honest about Bipolar II – I also needed to find a calendar slot where all my high profile (and much-in-demand) design team could come together in one place. Plus, I also needed the backing of some key companies for equipment support, as well as to secure the final injection of seed money to get the project off the ground.”
Finn Ross is a university friend “who just happens to be a fabulous and talented, award-winning video designer”, says Mig. “And the first person I broached Blackout to was theatre director Simon Anderson who I have previously worked with and known for many years. I wanted his opinion and advice as a director as this wasn’t my field of expertise. Together we had numerous challenging discussions about the design choices and the direction of the piece, but I knew he understood me and could support me alongside his skill-set in theatre creation. And my husband, Paul Burgess of Sadlers Wells – well, it was imperative to have him with me on this journey, and apart from being my life partner, there is the bonus of him being a talented lighting designer and technician. Finally, Zoe Milton is an audio version of me so she had to be on the team as our sound designer.”
Simon Anderson was intrigued from the start but quickly realised how important it was to get involved. “I love theatre and see the arts as a force for change; in our increasingly distant society where we sit in front of a computer rather than talk, theatre is one of the last truly communal experiences. Blackout is a totally unique way of engaging people’s emotions and affecting them in a non-conventional way. It was my job to translate what was in Mig’s head into something which would engage with a stranger. It was an incredible directorial challenge!”
And the challenges were significant for all the team, from both a technical design point of view as well as a personal point of view.
“I wanted to create something using technical theatre arts mediums to create, and explain my mental health condition and how it feels to experience hyper mania and manic lows,” explains Mig. “Initially my design was inspired by Kanye West’s Glastonbury performance where he had the old school rig of parcans above and around him with the lighting team running video content through it and using the PARs as a crude video wall. I felt the analogue look created by rows of lights in a box formation accurately depicted the activity in my brain, and were like neurons.
“However, as the concept evolved (like any good idea), we realised that LED would be a cleaner, and more efficient way to use light with the correct ratio to see through the product and have visual access to the screen content behind. With the support of Light Initiative, the LED noodles added another dimension and proved to be the perfect product.”
By using technology alone, Blackout has been described by Mig as a ‘theatrical show with no cast’, creating a challenge for theatre director Simon. In this respect, Simon and Mig believe Blackout is technically ground-breaking where the director is directing the technology to tell the story. “A cast is the director’s comfort zone” says Simon. “You spend several weeks with them and then you apply the technical aspects of the show in production week, secure in the knowledge you have the cast on board. With Blackout there is no such safety net and I needed to make sure we didn’t lose sight of the story we were telling through these technical elements. In a very real sense the lighting, the sound, the vibrations, the projections all became the cast.”
It is an incredibly personal and revealing work for Mig. “For me, the biggest challenge with the project has been having the condition and trying to communicate Bipolar II in as honest and realistic way possible whilst going through it. Throughout the build week I found myself very much living the cycles we were trying to portray. It was a classic case of art imitating life, providing a very real reference point for me as well as my team. Using myself as the case study for Blackout has been exposing and at times scary, but I had incredible colleagues around me who doubled up as my support team, protected me, and made me feel safe.”
There has also been significant support from the industry. Whilst Robe have spearheaded this as key sponsor providing the seed money to make the concept a reality as well as key lighting fixtures including the brand new T1 and Cycbar 15 linear LED strips, several other companies have pulled together, providing rehearsal and pre-production spaces, a WYSISWYG suite for programming, and equipment to make Blackout happen.
Josef Valchar (CEO Robe) travelled from the Czech Republic specifically to support Mig and attend the launch event, and his feelings reflect the overall mood of the companies who have supported Blackout. "We have been delighted to work with Mig and her creative team to make her project a reality. It was fascinating to experience the final installation first-hand and all of us at Robe admire her bravery in addressing the challenges she faces with this condition in such an open and honest way. I hope very much that this valuable installation will go on to be seen by very many more people, and will provide invaluable insight, understanding and discussion surrounding the issues of mental health; not just in our industry, but in a broader community as well."
Blackout also has a serious academic side to it as its audience is part of some important research being conducted by Dr Paul Hanna, senior lecturer and research director in clinical psychology at University of Surrey. A primary research question will be whether a bespoke art installation can change attitudes, beliefs and understandings of what it’s like for individuals diagnosed with Bipolar II. This research will explore the perceptions of audience members both before and after experiencing Blackout about mental health. It is hoped the results of this research will extend far beyond the parameters of the industry and into the wider community. “I know the arts can work with science to make a difference,” states Mig. “Let’s see what impact the technologies used in this installation – light, audio and video – can have in helping to improve understanding and provoke more discussion around mental health.”
Mig has been overwhelmed by the reaction to Blackout. “I am truly humbled at the enthusiasm and support I have had from everyone that has been a part of making Blackout happen. From the earliest days of the project, everyone has been supportive and one of the most rewarding aspects has been that companies and individuals have put their company hats to one side, and worked towards the common goal of making this happen, and by doing so, promoting mental health. This level of industry collaboration is hopefully an example and an inspiration to my students.”
That collaboration was also evident in the way the production team worked. Simon explains: “Normally in theatre you operate in your silo until production week. Here, everyone had a creative voice from the get-go. It was a truly collaborative process so Blackout was not only breaking new ground in what we were addressing, but in the way we were working as well. That collaboration and camaraderie was immensely rewarding.”
“The reaction has been the most rewarding part of the process. Seeing the responses of the people coming out of the installation was evidence enough for me, that after the intense journey of the production, it had all been worthwhile,” concludes Simon.
So, what next for Blackout? Mig and her team have always been determined this launch should just be the start and they are working to bring Blackout to the widest possible audience and to reach beyond the industry boundaries and an arts audience, providing access to anyone who wants to know more and/or needs support in their own mental health journey. And, hopefully, in some small way, to help end the stigma of those suffering with mental health issues. Plans are afoot to gain more funding, hopefully from government as well as from the industry, in order to achieve all this.
“I see Blackout as much more than just a design installation. Yes, I believe that creatively as a design team we have created something beautiful to evoke, through light, sound and video, key emotions of someone with Bipolar II,” reflects Mig. “But I want to provoke more discussion around the topic of mental health in this industry, and beyond. And so, if the only message I manage to get out there with this installation, is that ‘it’s OK to not be OK’ then I feel something worthwhile has been achieved. I hope that being so open with my struggle, and expressing it in this light, sound and video installation, that it will resonate with our amazing industry, and help encourage people to be a little kinder to each other.”
One thing is for sure; even with its short, four-day run at GSA, the impact of Blackout has already been significant.
Come and hear Mig talk more about the Blackout project at PLASA Focus, Leeds on Wednesday 15th May when she will be one of the panellists on a seminar addressing mental health issues at the Bury Theatre, Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds, 12.15pm – 1.15pm.
photos: Steve Porter
14th May 2019
Showtime Sound LLC Taps Chauvet Professional for Il Divo Timeless Tour
USA – Music is indeed the universal language. Clear proof of that truism becomes readily apparent every time Il Divo takes the stage. A multi-national classical crossover group created by Simon Cowell, the quartet not only includes artists from different countries, it also happily transcends national boundaries in its appeal to music lovers. Since its formation in December 2003, the group has sold over 30 million albums worldwide and has chalked up platinum hits in over 35 different countries.
On the North American leg of their current Timeless tour, the mellifluous group is being supported by a smoothly flowing and versatile light show anchored by Chauvet Professional fixtures, supplied by Showtime Sound LLC. A collection of 22 Rogue R2 Wash fixtures, along with 20 Rogue R1 FX-B units and seven Strike 4 multi-formatted lights, are used in the touring rig.
Flown on the upstage and midstage truss and hung on vertical truss towers, the Rogue R2 Wash fixtures bathe the stage in even fields of richly coloured light. While the overhead RGBW units bathe the stage in a variety of colours to reflect different moods, their 12° to 49° zoom range allows changes in the coverage area throughout each show to create a variety of different looks.
The linear Rogue R1 FX-B fixtures are used to frame the stage. With their infinite pan and tilt and five independently controlled moving heads on each fixture, these units serve to provide a level of eye candy not typically associated with a classical concert, something that delights and surprises audiences.
Also engaging audiences are the versatile Strike 4 fixtures. Flown on upstage truss, these high-output units provide audience lighting, while also engendering a sense of engagement with their warm white light.
Thanks to the versatility of their rig, Il Divo is able to touch audiences with an enchanting and immersive show on every stop of the band’s tour, despite variations in venue size and stage configurations. Like the sound of the band itself, the Showtime Sound-supplied rig is transcending boundaries to provide a unifying experience.
photo: Denise Truscello
14th May 2019
Billie Eilish Travels with Flyable Allen & Heath Rig
Worldwide – Pop artist Billie Eilish’s sold-out global tour dates feature flyable Allen & Heath dLive rigs at both FOH and monitor positions. Drew Thornton, FOH engineer, and Salim Akram, monitor engineer, use compact, 12-fader C1500s to mix over 50 inputs from an array of live instruments and backing tracks. Their innovative rig is fed by a quartet of DX168 stage boxes connecting to a DM0 MixRack via EtherCon connections.
Thornton designed the dLive system to travel with the band. “Throwing down your stage box and pushing out everything patched and line-checked in ten minutes is amazing,” he said. “We plug it in and it works like a dream. And I’m a firm believer that if you get your mix right, you can handle things with as few as eight faders. Having 12 faders on the C1500 is a luxury.”
Akram noted: “I built my dLive show file on the aeroplane. I’ve been on a lot of other consoles and nothing has a workflow that is this intuitive and customisable. And, DCA spills were the key for me – that was a game changer. Now, I have my mixes on SoftKeys which flip the faders and everything else I need to get to quickly.”
Thornton and Akram put the internal dLive effects to good use in recreating the immersive textures Eilish is known for. “I’ve got multiple plates for the drums and I’m starting to play with gated reverb effects,” said Thornton. “And after years of looking for the perfect vocal, the Dyn8 does what I need. It’ll smooth things out as I play with really subtle or aggressive effects on the song.”
On monitors, Akram has his own approach. “I’m using the Dyn8 on Billie’s vocal and on some of the mix outputs. The 16T compressor sounds great and the Opto is for musical drums, sometimes on tracks." He adds, “The way Billie runs her show is so musical and we pay attention to the blend of the tracks so it doesn’t show up like a traditional pop act.”
“Good point, Salim,” chimes in Thornton. “My philosophy has been to ask myself, ‘What does the record sound like?’ and then do all I can do to make sure the record sound translates to the live show. Mixing is like my paintbrush and working on the dLive has been the easiest palette to work with.”
As the fly dates wrap up and the bus portion of the tour kicks off, the C1500 surfaces will be transitioned into use by the support acts while Sound Image provides dLive S5000 surfaces for FOH and monitor duties.
14th May 2019
Sound Adventures Makes UK Debut at Top sports Event
UK – After supporting various Esports Championship Series (ECS) shows at Wembley’s SSE Arena over the last few years, Sibar Production & Design, along with Capital Sound (and their Martin Audio MLA loudspeaker array), moved to the ICC Auditorium at ExCeL for the FACEIT Global Summit: PUBG Classic. FACEIT is the leading competitive gaming platform and organisers of some of the largest esports events in Europe and North America including ECS, Universal Open and the FACEIT London CS:GO Major.
Capital have been regularly contracted to provide the audio reinforcement for such gameplay events by Sibar’s Simon Barrington, but this represented an entirely fresh challenge. According to Capital’s project manager Robin Conway: “It was based on a completely different gaming platform and different team and elimination set-up.
“The space at ExCeL is tricky as was the design, as we needed to work around a 56m wide screen over and above the gaming pods, playing to the full width of the ICC Auditorium.”
Capital again deployed their Martin Audio MLA loudspeaker array platform, but this time harnessed to Martin Audio’s Sound Adventures, the 3D immersive sound partnership with Astro Spatial Audio.
The deployment of Sound Adventures in this scenario was to test whether or not locational gameplay information could be used to enhance the listening experience. With so many players in the game, the audio footage had the potential to be located to a specific playing pod so the audience could understand who or which team they were watching and listening to.
Production had 16 pods set up for the different teams in the tournament, each pod with an ambient mic. These were mapped spatially so that when a team won, production could automatically switch to that team’s mic in the space and give a totally immersive feeling. The same was the case for game audio so that the team that was on screen could be followed spatially, giving a suggestion to the audience of where to look.
Taking the original brief, Robin Conway had decided to look at alternative PA ideas utilising several independent hangs to provide coverage rather than the traditional L/R hangs.
After considering his options, he found a compelling reason to incorporate Sound Adventures. “There has been a lot of discussion about immersive and 3D technology recently so of course this was of interest,” he said. “I am always a fan of the Martin Audio loudspeaker systems and wanted to make the same proposal of loudspeaker brand for the shows this year. At the same time, I opened the discussion with Martin Audio about the use of Sound Adventures and the SARA II [rendering engine] within my proposal.”
For the sound engineer, the limitations of traditional sound reinforcement have long proven a source of frustration. As more visual elements of live entertainment have been pushed to the fore, audio technology has remained relatively unchanged until now. SARA II offers a powerful mixing platform for the creation of immersive, full 3D audio experiences.
Martin Audio sent over technician, Niels Kooman to assist Gabriel Maillard (FACEIT’s FOH engineer) and Capital Sound tech Marty Beath (system tech) with the set up and programming. Assisting Maillard and Beath was Elliot Shore.
This was the first experience of this type for all parties. According to Robin Conway: “Being browser-based, SARA II was very useful as there was no additional software to install. The engine was MADI based so we used MADI to feed into the engine and a Focusrite D64R to convert the output MADI to Dante and feed the Martin Audio PA as we would in a show.”
The final design of the sound reinforcement comprised four hangs of six MLA Compact hangs, flown in a line in front and above the giant curved projection screen, with eight discreet Martin Audio XD12s on individual sends, positioned around the playing booths on stands, while six MLX subwoofers were deployed in two central low-profile positions.
The PA reproduced gameplay audio in line with the visuals, as well as live commentary
from the position next to FOH at the rear of the auditorium. Other feeds included broadcast (audio and live on camera), also at the rear of the auditorium on the presentation platform; additionally, there were roving reporters in the playing booths between games, and general VT and pre-recorded clips of gameplay and player/team introductions.
Summarising the experience, Robin Conway said: “I would love to use this system again on any show that required it. The Astro is a great tool, and used in the right way, could have amazing results in different applications.
“I see this being something we use again on other FACEIT shows and especially ones where a traditional L/R PA approach is not available to us.”
Gabriel Mailliard added his own endorsement, confirming that the system was intuitive to use. “They’ve got the basics of the control right and there are loads of things to like about operation.
“Once I started to have a proper play with the SARA II rendering engine it was clear there were some very interesting and exciting applications. Overall I would predict that this is the future of immersive audio; the technology behind it is very exciting and the possibilities are seemingly endless.”
Simon Barrington provided the final word. “Capital’s design for the audio ticked all the boxes we asked for in the tender document. When Robin offered Sound Adventures as part of the package we were really excited by the potential the system had and how the control of it could be integrated into our system. This was a first step in such audio technology for us, but hopefully the first step of many as we embrace the system even more on future shows.
“There has been a lot of really positive response to the audio on this show, and I would love to get the chance to work with the system in a different capacity to see what could be achieved.”
14th May 2019
Djembe! The Show makes US debut beneath all Elation lighting rig
USA – Djembe! The Show is an energy-filled, theatrical concert experience that mixes traditional West African beats with modern takes on contemporary music that has toured Europe and even been featured on Ted Talks and Oprah’s Super Soul Sessions. It made its limited US debut at the Apollo Theater in Chicago with lighting design by Zach Blane, who used an all Elation LED lighting rig to accentuate the unique production. Support was provided by Elation dealer ILC.
Djembe!, which opened 10th April and ran to 12th May, is a celebration of African culture with drumming and musical performances by a cast composed mostly of West African musicians. Wonderfully interactive, guests of the show were handed a drum – a djembe – and invited to play along.
The Apollo Theater features a three-quarter thrust stage with the audience on three sides, a set-up that gives guests an intimate experience. According to LD Zach Blane, it also gave lighting a large role in Djembe. “Separate of supporting all of the beats of the piece tonally, the basic lighting need to have everyone be seen requires more lighting than a traditional end stage set up,” he said. “There are three points of vision at all times and it required three times the amount of lighting to render the piece, as designed.”
Used to reinforce the energy and emotion of the show was an all LED Elation lighting rig of ellipsoidals, moving heads, PARs and battens with the mid-air projection canopy coming from
Antari F-4 Fazers. Blane says that haze, and the 'air lighting' it makes possible, played a very important role in the piece. “Because the audience wraps the stage, everyone has a different experience of the show depending on where they are sitting,” the designer explains. “That is a tall order for a lighting designer to keep everyone equally engaged, and feeling included, all while the other groups of people, across the theatre, still feel taken care of. The haze allowed me to light the air as a pseudo projection surface to give the audience interest wherever they were seated and helped calibrate the energy of the room during production numbers to evoke audience participation and joy. The Elation ACL 360i and Platinum fixtures did a lot of heavy lifting in this regard. There were also many hanging fixtures, encased in hemp baskets, like ones you would find in a small village in West Africa, throughout the space, that hung over the audience, with full LED/pixel map control that aided in the ‘air visual’ to keep it all one cohesive image. I wanted the audience to feel like our ‘world of Djembe’ was wrapping them in a hug, or like we were somehow suspended, in the trees, in this whimsical place, all together.”
Placed strategically throughout the space were 15 Artiste DaVinci LED moving heads, which operated as concert lights as well as face light for the three sections of audience. Over the stage were six Fuze Wash Z350 single source PAR moving heads outfitted with snoot attachments. “These gave great bright colour punching backlight for the band and performers,” Blane says.
Providing a full-colour gobo option from all four corners of the space were 20 Colour 5 Profile
LED ellipsoidal spots, which the designer says he used for filling in shadows and giving a soft texture throughout the stage and the air. “I really enjoyed the lime diode on the Colour 5 fixtures. They helped a lot with brightness.” Used to light a backdrop from above were six SixPar 300 PAR lights while six Seven Batten 72 battens lit the backdrop from below.
The designer used Platinum Spot III moving heads, vertically, at the proscenium line to create what he calls a 'false proscenium of lighting' to help focus the viewer and keep eyes on what is to be revealed. “These also functioned as ‘hype lights’ as they did effects onto the audience to make them feel a part of the show and pumped up.” Finally, six ACL 360i single beam moving heads on the bandstands operated as uplights from the back, shooting past the performers to provide further interest, and depth, to the stage picture. “These lights also kept the eye level low, always telling the audience where to look. I love the continuous pan and tilt function on the ACLi units. Those were very successful in one of our finale mega-mixes!”
Blane appreciated the intelligent aspect of the rig and the many benefits it gave, stating: “I enjoyed the fact that I could change colour instantly on any of these lights, and the repeatability is good. Also, I enjoyed that since these fixtures are all LED, I could make them blink/strobe at any point for any duration without the concern of blowing a lamp.” The designer thanks John Dunn and Jean Lariviere (Elation), Grant Simmon (ILC), Nykol Dedreu, Lane Marsh, Margaret Hartmann, and Daniel Friedman (Djembe) “for their help in making this rig a reality!” Anke dje, anke be!
photos: Liz Lauren