Production News Headlines
1/1 Charity NFT Featuring Visuals by 3D Artist Extraweg & a Loop of Mick Jagger’s New Track ‘Eazy Sleazy’ With Dave Grohl Drops on Nifty Gateway 15th April
opticalCON connectors ensure integrity of MediaPro International’s 15 km fibre-optic Dante network at Diriyah E-Prix
Sennheiser Digital 6000 delivers no-compromise RF reliability, ease of use and ultimate sound clarity for Lazarus
Dream On with grandMA3: Shakespeare becomes virtual
UK – “Dream” is an ingenious and engaging multi-layered mix of movement, music, visuals, cool technology and narrative magic, an immersive digital performance fusing the drama of Shakespeare with the dynamic worlds of gaming and theatre in a ground-breaking production by the UK’s Royal Shakespeare Company in collaboration with Manchester International Festival, Marshmallow Laser Feast, and the Philharmonia Orchestra.
Staged physically in the Studio at Portsmouth Guildhall and inspired by the classic A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the characters were played by six real actors utilising Vicon motion capture cameras, their avatars and effects appearing on screen – centring around the antics of cocky and capricious mischief-maker Puck. They run amok in the virtual Midsummer forest, hell-raising and spoofing four other sprites during a disruptive and chaotic journey!
Matt Peel was responsible for lighting design and show control. He utilised the power – and specifically the OSC (open sound control) and DMX remote triggering capabilities – of his grandMA3 system with the new grandMA3 software.
The highly acclaimed show was broadcast live for ten evenings and enjoyed by thousands worldwide, who logged in, either paying for an interactive ticket with the chance to shoot fireflies into the story to help illuminate Puck’s pathway through the forest, or simply watch the performance for free.
Dream was originally intended to be an in-person performance during 2020, but due to the pandemic, was adapted and re-worked as a live performance concept to be fully enjoyed remotely from wherever the audience happen to be.
As part of the R&D phase of the project, Matt explains that working closely with the RSC’s Daniel Orchard, an Unreal Engine developer, they integrated known event technologies to communicate with the virtual and real-world show control systems.
An MVR (My Virtual Rig) importer developed for Unreal enabled the Vectorworks pipeline for real-world lighting to be received by both Unreal as well as natively in grandMA3; OSC was integrated into Arduino powered proximity sensors to communicate the status of the physical world and a PosiStageNet (PSN) – 3D live positional data protocol – plug-in for Unreal enabled the grandMA3 and Unreal (which already has inbuilt DMX and OSC) to communicate bi-directionally.
By building custom grandMA3 fixture-types, certain aspects in the game world could be controlled via DMX, e.g., the height and brightness of an object like the sun, or the colour of an avatar, etc. Using grandMA3, all these elements could be rapidly tweaked in real-time on the console.
“Using the grandMA3 in this way meant we could work really fast in this context to make adjustments to these game effects, rather than using game engine key-framing which is a lot more time consuming jumping Unreal in and out of ‘editor’ mode,” says Matt.
A project like Dream was a perfect opportunity to experiment with this bi-directional control and state awareness, merging game-based event logic to create a new style of live performance. It allowed the grandMA3 to be the master show controller sending and receiving unicast OSC between 16 different role machines.
Unreal Engine instances were used to create the rich and complex visual environments in which the action took place, and OBS instances allowed vision mixing the final output between Unreal and four broadcast cameras.
Matt explained that a small rig of traditional theatre lighting – in the form of eight moving lights – in the real studio motion capture volume (capture space), assisted in directing the actors to respond to interactions from the remote audience.
In addition to orchestral music by composer Jesper Nordin and Philharmonia Orchestra principal conductor and artistic advisor Esa Pekka-Salonen, at strategic points the actors’ movement was fed into Gestrument software (a Jesper Nordin project) allowing them to ‘play’ digital instruments and interact together via their motion. Another clever twist which created a stream of beautifully ethereal sonic moments.
The overall show was cued and run in traditional theatre style by a DSM, a synergetic mix of innovative technologies and well-respected techniques that pushed several boundaries.
Matt has been using grandMA3 for some time in his work. In addition to the possibilities of bidirectional communication, vital for a cutting-edge performance like this, he also likes having a large number of playbacks on one page offering all the major elements “at your fingertips”.
Like everyone, Matt was delighted to be back working on another show after the disruption of the pandemic, and especially being alongside “so many talented people with huge expertise in numerous highly specialised areas” to make Dream such a success.
Dream was directed by Robin McNicholas of Marshmallow Laser Feast, Sarah Perry was the movement director, and the project lead and executive producer was Sarah Ellis, director of digital development at the RSC. Ambersphere Solutions Ltd is the exclusive distributor of MA Lighting in the UK.
photos: Stuart Martin / RSC
16th April 2021
Robe for Melodifestivalen 2021
Sweden – Enthusiasm for the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest is bursting every disco bubble this year, especially in the wake of last year’s first ever cancellation, as competing countries ramp up the glorious glitz, glamour, drama and pop moments with gusto!
No country takes the ESC more seriously than Sweden. It is one of the most successful competing nations with a total of six victories and the most top five results of the 21st century, with 11!
Melodifestivalen (‘Mello’ for short) the annual competition to select the Swedish entry is organised by Sveriges Television and is a phenomenon in itself! In recent years, it has been a touring show visiting six key cities, but due to Covid restrictions, this year the six rounds: four heats, the ‘second chance’ and the final were staged in one place, the Annexet arena in Stockholm, part of the Globe complex, and broadcast live on STV1.
For the 20th time it was lit by Fredrik Jonsson who utilised 200 Robe moving lights and four RoboSpot systems among other fixtures on the rig.
Taking this fund of experience into account, Fredrik always relishes the challenge of making Mello look fresh, exciting and fun each year and 2021 was no exception, offering the rare opportunity to work in what was effectively a very large studio space without an audience, which opened new doors for technical experimentation.
Fredrik once again worked closely with set designer Viktor Brattstrom, another long-term member of the Mello creative team. The two enjoy a great imaginative synergy, and usually start throwing ideas into the mix the previous summer and autumn.
Video content was supplied by Green Wall Designs, another regular collaborator, who had their content wranglers on site together with a disguise operator.
With a trim height of around ten metres and without the limitations of having to tour the rig, the circumstances gave rise to an idea floating around for some time which involved integrating a roof into the set design.
This resulted in shiny black rectangular scenic roof sections being rigged in the up/downstage orientation, with lighting trusses filling the gaps in between.
With the 24 metre wide by 28 metre deep stage to achieve the desired catwalk perspective, the whole roof system needed a lower trim, so this was set at 4.9 metres from the stage floor, resulting in the fantastic epic cinematic look that they had been dreaming of for some years.
The low trim also meant that any big bulky lights were out, so Fredrik wanted as many compact powerful fixtures as possible on the rig and turned to Robe, choosing MegaPointes and LEDBeam 150s to be at the core of the main lighting system.
The 88 MegaPointes and 82 LEDBeam 150s were rigged in triangular-shaped trusses to maintain the linear perspective at the heart of the set concept.
The next challenge was the rear followspot positions…
For Fredrik, the choice of followspot fixture was easy – BMFL WashBeams. However, with this design, it was impossible to rig them on the back bars and keep the clean lines due to the larger size of the fixture compared to the LEDBeam 150. After some experimentation, Fredrik opted to use six MegaPointes as his rear follow spots which retained the aesthetic integrity of the rig. These six fixtures were hooked in to the RoboSpot system.
Some applied rigging magic from Creative Technology Northern Europe’s crew combined with short pipes and swivel couplers enabled the LED Beams to sit slightly lower from the trusses so their lenses aligned trim wise with the MegaPointes.
Also on the rig were 27 Robe BMFL WashBeams utilised for key lights, four of which were the front follow spots, also running on the RoboSpot system.
MegaPointes were the main workhorses for creating all the effects in the stage area. Most of them were in the roof rig, with a few on the ‘flowerbox’ set pieces: two sets of lights on shelves running US / DS on both sides of the stage.
MegaPointes were chosen for their size and weight in conjunction with the many features and huge scope for producing stunning effects. “Given the low trim, I needed a good zoom and lots of options to give each of the 28 competition songs plus around 20 interval acts a unique and distinctive look,” explains Fredrik.
The LEDBeams were rigged in almost identical positions as the two types of fixtures were essentially working in tandem so that alignment was also important.
The LEDBeam has been a favourite of Fredrik’s since he started using them a couple of years ago.
“It’s outstanding ‘bang-for-buck’ considering the tiny size,” he commented. They create impressive ACL style beam effects, big voluminous washes and can even be used for key lighting at specific times. “It’s a great little fixture with plenty of tricks up its sleeve”. For Mello this year, they were even pixel mapped via the disguise video system!
Fredrik’s key light of choice is still the BMFL WashBeam.
For this show, BMFL WashBeams were used as the front followspots and keylights for the main stage, the B stage and other critical positions like the hosts, etc.
“The BMFL WashBeam optical system is amazing!” he stated. He loves the big chunky lens and the “wonderful texture” in the beam that “really looks and acts like a ‘real’ follow spot when used as key light”.
The high CRI of the bulb means it looks great on camera, and to date he’s never run out of punch using a BMFL WashBeam as a follow spot and can also drop in cool colour effects during the song – like going red for an emphasis moment – all without any loss in intensity.
“I absolutely love them!”
Two lighting operators worked alongside Fredrik on the show: Danne Persson and Timo Kauristo, using a combination of grandMA2 and grandMA3 consoles. The disguise operator was Fredrik Stormby.
The biggest challenge was the low trim height, but the creative team turned this completely to their advantage, even though it made other aspects of lighting the show, like keying, that bit more galvanising.
Given the depth of the runway and the overall feel of the stage with a lot of artists moving, walking and turning in all directions, with a good trim, key lighting can usually be solved by a fixture at a distance or height, but not in this case, explained Fredrik. Some serious time and energy was dedicated to programming multiple key and back lighting solutions to cover the many different positions and locations around the stage.
Without a live audience, they could completely control the darkness and look of the arena and transform it properly into a black box without high ambient light elements like cell phone reflections, merchandise stands and other signage, and that also had a profound effect on how the show looked.
The darkness factor unlocked another world of possibilities and made props, dancers, etc., really able to ‘pop’ up and vanish theatrically in the darkness, something that’s difficult to achieve in an arena with standard levels of light pollution.
The blackness also assisted in getting maximum drama from the set and stage itself, which comprised some impressive and primarily shiny black gloss surfaces, plus glass and LED screens.
To ensure the whole event was delivered Covid safe, the production worked in ‘bubbles’ that didn’t mix. The ‘FOH bubble’ even had their own toilet! They resided in a hotel connected to the arena during the weeks, meetings were all online and face masks were mandatory in the arena. Everyone was also issued with distance tags that emitted an excruciating sound when anyone inadvertently got closer than 1.5 metres to someone else, which was highly effective at maintaining distance!
Fredrik broke a few personal records during Mello 2021: the sixth and final broadcast was his 115th Mello broadcast, and by that time he had designed a staggering 612 competition songs excluding all the interval acts and opening, closing and linking performances.
Mello 2021 was won by charismatic singer Tusse with the foot-tappingly catchy “Voices”, who will represent Sweden in the 2021 Eurovision Song Context Final in Rotterdam on 22nd May.
photos: Danne Persson and Fredrik Jonsson
16th April 2021
Mason Felps and Chauvet Professional Connect Josh Turner to Crowds as Live Shows Return
USA – An artist whose career has been fuelled by his tight connection to fans, Josh Turner creates his own brand of magic when performing before audiences, something he’s rarely been able to do since the pandemic struck. But recently, the Grammy-nominated, chart-topping country star got to savour the live concert experience, as he played socially distant shows in Florida and Georgia.
Helping him feed off the crowd at both stops was an engaging, upbeat Mason Felps lighting design that featured warm white audience light created with a collection of Chauvet Professional Strike 4 fixtures that were flown across the upstage truss.
“Josh really likes to see fans at this shows,” said Felps. “It’s part of the bond he has with them. So, of course we wanted to include audience lighting in the rig, especially during these times when the fans have to be separated. The Strike fixtures are very bright with warm light, which is just what we wanted.”
Like the other fixtures in Felps’ rig, which included 24 Maverick MK2 Spots and 16 Maverick MK3 Washes, as well as Rogue R2 Washes, and Vesuvio RGBA foggers, the four Strike 4 units were supplied by ESI of Tampa.
Felps used the LED movers in his rig to create a range of intense colours on stage, from deep cherry reds, to softer pastels, to dark evocative hues. Having the broad palette, not only helped him convey different moods in light, it also added a special, almost celebratory, quality to the show, reflecting the spirit of fans who were happy to be at a live concert again.
For some of Turner’s more mellow ballads, Felps set the tone by accompanying the deep, dark washes with large gobo patterns. He sometimes accentuated the mood of these songs by adding soft warm white washes from this Strike 4 fixtures.
The first show’s stage measured 50’ x 40’, while the second night’s was 32’ x 15’. Felps had his Maverick MK2 Spot fixtures arranged on the deck and flown on mid-stage truss the first night, then used them as truss toppers on the small stage on night two. On both nights, he relied on a variety of crossing beam patterns to add depth to the stage.
On the subject of these patters, Felps noted: “I tend to get creative with my position presets. Having beams cross in ways that are out of the ordinary makes the show more interesting. It also adds another layer to the stage, which makes the show and rig feel bigger in the room.”
Creating these patterns in light and adjusting them to account for different stage sizes and configurations is something that Felps has always enjoyed doing at live shows. He was happy on this weekend to have the chance to do it again.
16th April 2021
1/1 Charity NFT Featuring Visuals by 3D Artist Extraweg & a Loop of Mick Jagger’s New Track ‘Eazy Sleazy’ With Dave Grohl Drops on Nifty Gateway 15th April
UK – Mick Jagger’s new track ‘Eazy Sleazy’ saw two of the most prolific rock and roll legends of all time combining forces, with Dave Grohl adding signature guitar, bass and drums, and now a third legendary artist has been added to the mix: 3D artist Oliver Latta aka Extraweg. Jagger & Extraweg have collaborated on an audio-visual charity NFT featuring a loop of ‘Eazy Sleazy’ set to drop Thursday, 15th April through Gemini-owned Nifty Gateway. Starting at 10am PST / 6pm BST, the 1/1 piece will go live as an auction for 24 hours and all proceeds will go to charity.
This announcement not only marks the debut NFT collection for Mick Jagger, it also celebrates the first musical collaboration between The Rolling Stones lead honcho and Foo Fighters frontman. Minted in collaboration with Berlin-based art director and artist Oliver Latta, also known as EXTRAWEG, the 30-second audio visual piece evokes a surreal essence of breaking through the barriers of the human mind and pushing forward on the brink of social collapse to provide a much needed moment of artistic relief as the world slowly transitions out of lockdown.
The full track written by Mick Jagger in lockdown features Jagger on vocals in collaboration with Foo Fighters main man Dave Grohl who provides his signature powerhouse drums, bass and guitar. The track was produced by Matt Clifford. ‘Eazy Sleazy’ is available to listen via Youtube and social platforms, accompanied by a performance video featuring Jagger at home and Grohl in the Foo Fighters studio.
One hundres per cent of the proceeds from the NFT sale are being divvied up between Music Venue Trust, a UK registered charity which acts to protect, secure and improve grassroots music venues, Backup, which provides financial support to entertainment technology industry professionals who are seriously ill or injured or to their surviving family members, and National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), an organisation working to preserve and nurture the ecosystem of independent live performance venues and promoters throughout the United States. A portion of proceeds will also be going to environmental causes.
As a continued demonstration of this cause, neither musician is monetizing off revenues from the track, which can be played on Mick’s socials and YouTube channel.
The NFT visual was created by Oliver Latta AKA Extraweg and produced by Pink Salt, with special thanks to Guia Quaranta.
16th April 2021
Unusual Rigging plays fairy godmother to get Cinderella show-ready!
UK – When Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella opens later this year, it is set to completely reinvent the world’s best-loved fairy-tale. Scheduled for Summer 2021, it features a brand new score by the legendary Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Oscar-nominated David Zippel, with a script from Killing Eve’s Emerald Fennell, recently multi-Oscar nominated for Promising Young Woman.
But before Cinderella can go to the ball, the Gillian Lynne Theatre in London’s West End needs to be transformed to host the spectacular production. And, with Cinderella’s fairy godmother currently shielding due to COVID restrictions, Unusual Rigging was called upon to work its magic instead.
Jeremy Featherstone, design engineer, Unusual Rigging explained: “Unusual was brought on board by production manager Paul Hennessy to provide all the rigging for the new show. This involved modifying the flying system that’s already there, adding an additional 60 drop pulleys onto the grid in order to fit in all the portals and big set pieces, as well as installing two false prosceniums and a big back wall weighing ten tonnes.”
The back wall, a timber construction, had to be hung before the floor went in underneath. Jeremy continued: “We put in a 70ft runway beam system to construct the wall. It all had to come up in a lift (in 50+ pieces) then tracked across the stage and fitted together. In total we installed over half a kilometre of truss and ladder beam, over two thirds more than we’d normally install for a typical show in another West End Theatre. However, the Gillian Lynne is not a typical theatre and everything that’s a part of the house system is either too wide or too narrow for this show. And with each show that’s played at the venue wanting something a little different each time, the theatre has never really returned to its standard format since Cats loaded out in 2002.”
In a first for Unusual, the team also took on responsibility for fitting the counterweight assist winches. These were mounted to the wall frame side of the flying system, enabling key items of flown scenery to be automated in time with the music etc. Automated flying elements can be controlled by laptop, which in the current climate of social distancing, is of huge benefit.
As with most shows, several aspects changed during production. With site visits kept to a minimum, Jeremy says the team was grateful for its extensive knowledge of the venue. “We are extremely fortunate to know most of London’s theatres like the back of our hand. Prior to the first lockdown, we had been in at the Gillian Lynne, reinstating the theatre after the curtain went down on the last show. So, we knew what we were going into and we knew that certain aspects hadn’t been finalised. We were also in a strange position of having a warehouse full of kit which is normally in use on productions nationwide, but because of COVID was sitting idly at our Northampton base. Therefore, we were able to have a more flexible set of kit on site than we usually would in “normal times and as such, we didn’t require any further trucks to be sent down with the equipment. This meant we could complete our work to time and make any on the spot changes that might have been requested by the other teams working on getting the show up and running.”
While the pandemic has thrown a massive curveball at Cinderella, Jeremy points out that all the on site work was done in an extremely COVID-secure way. “There was a very strict regime in place. We were all tested twice a week before being allowed into our cohort. Each trade and company formed its own bubble with the front of house being turned into separate little enclaves: welfare areas where we were able to take breaks, remove our masks, etc. The theatre has also employed Chris Luscombe to oversee COVID security and the entire time on site we felt extremely safe.”
He concluded: “As we welcome the government’s route out of lockdown with cautious optimism, the key point that we as a company are stressing is that if you wait for the green light from the Prime Minister, you’ll be leaving it too late. We know that when our industry is allowed to open, hotels will be able to turn on the lights and start trading, nightclubs will need to turn on the music and cinemas can throw open their doors. But for live theatre, it’s not that simple. Loading in a show, finding a new cast – especially if you have a show with child actors, can take a good month or more. We don’t want to see the opening of theatres delayed a day more than necessary, so our advice is to get the groundwork done now.”
16th April 2021
DiGiCo SD7 delivers flawless monitor mix for SIX60 Saturdays tour
New Zealand – New Zealand’s musical summer took a turn for the better when for six weekends in January and February, home-grown rock sensations SIX60 took to the road for their SIX60 Saturdays tour. Playing outdoor venues with a Stella line up of guests to the largest audiences the country has seen since the beginning of 2020, monitor engineer David O’Brien chose a DiGiCo SD7 to give the bands a flawless mix.
Having used many different consoles from DiGiCo’s SD Range, O’Brien rates both their ease of use and, most importantly for him, their reliability. With the console set up simply and using nothing other than an SD-Rack, it was used for both SIX60 and the support acts and, with the support acts changing for each, the tour ran much like a festival with mixes built on the fly behind the LED wall without any line of sight.
“I chose the SD7 because it offered a few features I think make for a good workflow,” he says. “Having two master fader banks allows me to put the tech/shout mixes on the upper master bank while keeping the band outputs on the lower bank. I also like having three screens which provide a constant overview without needing anything external. This keeps my Snapshots and chosen channels in a prime position, making monitoring them easy. Having a dedicated gain encoder on the top row also helps to have everything at your fingertips.”
O’Brien also notes that the SD7 gave him confidence programming scenes between set/stage changes, knowing that when he pressed 'fire', it would just work. Dual engines, meanwhile, offered him peace of mind when touring through regional parts of New Zealand where it would not have been possible to get a replacement console.
Along with the SD7, SIX60’s long-time audio supplier, College Hill Productions, provided a substantial L-Acoustics K Series system, ensuring great audio for both bands and audience.
“Although logistically it’s still tough times,” says Reeco Adriaansen, manager at College Hill Productions. “But thankfully we’ve been lucky on this run and already played to over 100,000 fans.”
“And the console performed great!” concludes O’Brien. “It got a good work out and everyone couldn't have been happier.”
15th April 2021
opticalCON connectors ensure integrity of MediaPro International’s 15 km fibre-optic Dante network at Diriyah E-Prix
Saudi Arabia – Connectivity for a massive Dante audio network, extending over some 15 kilometres of fibre-optic cable, during the 2021 Diriyah E-Prix in Saudi Arabia, relied on the robust, field tested dependability of Neutrik opticalCON DUO connectors.
The site-wide audio, video, lighting and rigging infrastructure supplied and operated by Dubai headquartered MediaPro included their entire Middle East based stock of L-Acoustics systems comprising K1, K2, Karas, 112Ps, 5XTs, X8s, X15, KS28, SB18s and 20 LA RACK II, 13 Yamaha QL and CL consoles, with D2 racks, 15 of the company’s own network racks – connecting all of the various audio zones to the network – and a complete redundant Dante network.
Commenting on the choice of opticalCON DUO connectors, MediaPro International chief operating officer Shaam Pudaruth says: “Connectivity solutions of the quality and ruggedness of Neutrik’s opticalCON range are an essential element in providing the technological advantages of AoIP fibre optic networking solutions.”
In addition to the massive audio network, MediaPro also catered the radio mic requirements with Shure Axient systems, video screen and signal requirements of the site with 78 CD screens, radio and Clearcom wireless communications, SFX, trussing and rigging and lighting solutions for general grandstand, pedestrian bridges, entrance gates, and branding areas around the track.
photo: Formula E
15th April 2021
Adrian Schmidt Powers Riveting Apache 207 Music Video Lighting with ChamSys MagicQ MQ500
Germany – Multi-award winning rapper Apache 207 holds nothing back in “Angst,” a gripping unsettling song of alienation, isolation and fractured relationships. The relentless emotional force of this powerful piece is reflected in a recent video of the same title that the chart-topping recording artists made to kick off 2021.
Drawing on the brooding aura of its physical setting, Babenhausen Kasserne, an abandoned and desolate former military base that was built 120 years ago, the video evokes a haunting air of mystery. This quality is accentuated by Adrian Schmidt’s riveting lighting design that he powered with his ChamSys MagicQ MQ500 console. (Another MQ500 was brought to the production site as a backup, but was never used.)
Like his client, Schmidt pulled no punches when devising his creation. From the very beginning when Apache 207 seems to be entering a swirling tunnel of light, each of his steps illuminating the ground beneath his feet, it becomes clear that this video is going to challenge perceptions.
Throughout the video, Schmidt creates wave after wave of lighting intensity that includes towering aerial effects, brilliant white flashes, and cascading 'waterfalls' of light. Helping him navigate his way through this vortex of looks was his trusty console.
“I have worked with ChamSys for over ten years now,” he said. “It’s a very stable desk that I know I always can rely on. With the MQ500, my work is made much easier because of its very intuitive layout and easy timecode programming. I am also a big fan of the MQ Track.”
During the production of the Angst video, the MagicQ MQ500’s reliable, rugged design was especially appreciated because of the high humidity and cold temperatures.
“All the features of the ChamSys helped me in this project, as we had limited infrastructure, a huge (113m x 85m) area, and long cables for data transmission via ArtNet,” said Schmidt. “We also had very little time for setting everything up, as the sun went down at 5pm. My console performed flawlessly through it all.”
With help from his MagicQ MQ500, Schmidt, along with the rest of the production team, prevailed over these conditions. Perhaps their challenges even added to the intensity of a music video. Who can say? But in any event, the end result is one that sears itself into the viewer’s memory.
15th April 2021
AC-ET Supplies New PROLIGHTS EclPanel TWC to Neg Earth
UK – Leading lighting rental production company, Neg Earth has added the new PROLIGHTS EclPanel TWC LED softlight to its rental fleet.
Neg Earth pride itself on being at the forefront of lighting technology and innovation, actively monitoring the latest designs and offering clients state of the art solutions to meet their requirements, matched by a level of technical expertise which is second to none.
On recommendation from a number of top lighting designers, Neg Earth decided to demo the new EclPanel TWC from PROLIGHTS and were incredibly impressed with its performance and notable list of features.
Neg Earth’s Sam Ridgway commented: “After several recommendations for the EclPanel TWC, I had high expectations and I am pleased to say the fixture certainly lived up to them. The fixture’s output is brighter than a number of competitors products at only a fraction of the cost. The performance and features of the EclPanel TWC really set it apart. Its quality whites and rich colour capabilities make it a truly versatile product.”
The EclPanel TWC has individual pixel control enabling the colour and output to be varied per section. In addition, the EclPanel TWC comes with a wide selection of effects on board that users can select and manipulate without the need for a lighting console or extensive programming. Each effect can be customised in order to meet the design requirements and enhance creative capabilities.
Sam continued: “This is a very nice-looking fixture and we are looking forward to getting it out on more jobs soon. We have no doubt our customers will rate it as highly as we do.”
The units were supplied to Neg Earth by PROLIGHTS’ exclusive UK distributor, A.C. Entertainment Technologies (AC-ET).
“Neg Earth have a long-standing relationship with AC-ET and it is always a pleasure to work with them. The team are friendly and knowledgeable and are always there for support when needed,” Sam concluded.
15th April 2021
PMLS gets future-proof with DiGiCo’s Quantum 338
Australia – Professional Music & Lighting Systems (PMLS) is a production company based in Hobart, with a focus on high-end touring, education and premium corporate events. PMLS was among the very first handful of companies in Australia to get its hands on DiGiCo’s latest flagship console, the Quantum 338.
DiGiCo’s latest digital mixing solution sports a host of new mix and interface features, representing a dramatic step up in processing power and connectivity. With a sleek new look and design enhancements across the board, the Quantum 338 is quickly being added to many production company’s ‘most wanted’ lists.
Director of PMLS, Nick Morse (pictured), says the company was after something to fill the role of a touring and hire rig with extended I/O, and chose the Quantum 338 after being wowed by its design features. “The three-screen workflow and 32bit local inputs are something we really like, and the improved screen brightness and GUI is very impressive,” he says. “If we combine the Quantum with DiGiCo’s SD-Rack, we have something that can handle a large amount of I/O and which has the processing capacity to treat all that audio too.
“We’re devoting time to getting up to speed with the new features, and from the short time we’ve had it, I can already say the 338 looks like the way of the future. The new Nodal Processing and KLANG integration are things I definitely see us making good use of. I think the technology behind KLANG is an important development, one that might even become an industry standard. When that happens, we’ll be ready.”
PMLS was originally considering adding a DiGiCo SD10 to their equipment line up, which already includes an SD9 and SD12, before being won over by the Quantum 338’s impressive feature set. Morse notes that DiGiCo is his console manufacturer of choice when it comes to high-end live applications.
Having used DiGiCo technology to spearhead experiences like Falls Festival and Dark Mofo, and on artists such as Rüfüs Du Sol, Tash Sultana and Guy Sebastian, and more recently with the Quantum 338 for artists such as Holy Holy, Spiderbait and Pete Murray, PMLS is delighted to be able to add its new console to its regular rotation of production hardware.
Most recently, the Quantum 338 (along with an SD11) was used by PMLS for the ‘Basin-ish Concert 2021’ (26th and 27th March) which included artists like Bec Stevens, Kim Churchill, Boo Seeka, Spacey Jane and Ball Park Music.
“The majority of clients will specify a DiGiCo and we work a lot with Waves plug-ins, so our choice to keep upgrading in the DiGiCo realm was an easy one,” Morse concludes. “The consoles have a transparent sound, and you can make the workflow as simple or as complex as you like. I feel we’ve now got something suitable for every scenario.”
15th April 2021
Claypaky Lighting Fixtures Score with Shows for FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2020
Qatar – Postponed until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2020 was recently held with Qatar Vision Production Company (Qvision) producing and delivering the infotainment for all matches played at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium and Education City Stadium, as well as developing, producing and managing the coronation ceremony on 11 February at Education City Stadium. Claypaky Scenius Unico, Hepikos and Sharpy Plus fixtures played key roles in the Qatar Vision productions, which included synchronised light and music shows before each match and the final ceremony crowning team Bayern Munich as the champion.
The FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2020 was the 17th edition of the FIFA-organised international club football tournament between the winners of the six continental confederations, as well as the host nation's league champions. However, only six teams competed in the tournament because of New Zealand’s withdrawal due to their country’s COVID-19 quarantine measures.
“Claypaky has a wealth of products suitable for any kind of lighting show whether it’s a large-scale stadium show or ceremony, corporate event or launch, small event or wedding, Claypaky has every thing you need,” says Sharif Hashisho, managing director of Qatar Vision in Doha, Qatar who served as executive producer / artistic director of the shows.
“Claypaky fixtures are very reliable products when it comes to show business. Working with products that will not fail during a show was an important factor in our selection,” he points out. “In addition, Claypaky has the brightest lights available in the market, so for stadium shows like these nothing could beat Claypaky products.”
Qatar Vision utilised a complement of 80 Claypaky moving lights for the productions, consisting of 40 Scenius Unicos, 20 Hepikos and 20 Sharpy Plus. The lights where positioned on the stadiums’ field of play atop 20cm-high StageDex opposite the VIP seating area. From that location they gave an optimal view of all lighting effects for both the match infotainment as well as the coronation ceremony.
“The lights created several effects to accommodate and synchronise to the music played over the stadium PA system,” Hashisho explains. “Beam, chase and strobe effects, as well as several additional programmes were used to provide the right sequences needed for our shows. During the coronation ceremony the lights also created wonderful synchronised beam effects to accommodate the pyrotechnics of the closing ceremony.” A five-minute fireworks display was staged from the Education City Stadium roof.
Mohammad Assaf and Mark Anton were the lighting designers for the productions.
14th April 2021
Chroma-Q Carbon Neutral Testing with Green Voltage
UK - LED lighting innovator, Chroma-Q has been pre-production testing in collaboration with Green Voltage zero emission generator units.
Working with a selection of Brute Force lampheads, the crew, plus Green Voltage director and experienced operator, Adam Baker (Wonder Woman 2, No Time to Die) tested the LED Wendylight alternative, together with Green Voltage’s 5kW VOLTstack E-Gen remote power systems.
The Chroma-Q product range has become a regular feature on lighting lists the world over, delivering low energy illumination to all manner of productions. Deceptive in both stature and its impressive output, the Brute Force draws just 15A at 240V making them ideal for use in conjunction with the GV power units.
With the Brute Force running at full power, the generators provided over two-and-a-half hours operation. The fully dimmable LED fixture, with its extended CCT range between 2,000K and 10,000K, also underwent additional testing at various colour temperatures and intensities, resulting in even greater operating times.
Adam Baker says: “I’ve worked with the Brute Force on a number of occasions, so am well aware of their abilities. The convenience of running the fixtures in combination with a Green Voltage power source adds an even greater degree of versatility.”
Ideal for remote use or noise restricted environments, where silent operation is essential, the Green Voltage VOLTstacks are available in 2kW and 5kW sizes, with higher output additions to the range due in the second quarter of the year.
During testing, the ability to series link the generator units provided the opportunity to carry out extended runs, allowing the team to properly assess the performance of the configuration in a ‘real world’ set up.
Adam concludes: “Both the VOLTstacks and the Brute Force units have delivered strong results today. Zero emissions and totally silent with absolutely no compromise in the quality of the light output; exactly what we are looking for.”
14th April 2021
Dan McDougall Gets Speedy with a Neve 1073OPX
UK – Songwriter and producer Dan McDougall is saving plenty of time on projects thanks to his recent investment in a Neve 1073OPX Octal microphone/line/instrument preamplifier, which is specifically designed to meet the needs of a modern studio environment.
Dan’s writing space at Hoxa HQ in London is primarily based around an ‘in the box’ workflow but if he needs access to a larger recording facility, he can easily tap into the Hoxa HQ main studio. This has a control room equipped with a vintage Neve 8058 console with 31102 channel mic pre-amp/EQ, the circuitry and sound of which is almost identical to today’s 1073 variants.
“The Hoxa HQ Neve console sounds amazing,” Dan says. “The 1073OPX is the first Neve unit I’ve purchased, but I’ve always been a huge fan of the Neve sound so I am very pleased to now own my own mic pre.”
As a multi-instrumentalist, Dan has worked with numerous artists including Ellie Goulding, Grace, Razorlight, Jade Bird and Tom Odell, whose platinum selling album Long Way Down features Dan on drums. He is also an instrumentalist for Liam Gallagher and has featured on most of his tracks, including those on his forthcoming album. Dan’s production and songwriting credits are equally extensive and include Will Young, Aurora, The Amazons’ and, more recently, Bruno Major, Baby Queen and Callum Beattie.
Although the legendary sound of Neve preamps played a large part in Dan’s decision to invest in a 1073OPX, there were also practical considerations at play, not least the compact nature of this innovative unit.
“The fact that it has eight 1073 units in only a 2U chassis really suited my needs because it doesn’t take up too much room in my rack,” he says. “Tracking wise, I always love to go through great mic pres and this unit sounds so good that it’s really noticeable. Having eight amazing pres for drums, vocals and whatever else I am tracking is just great. Post tracking I mainly end up working ‘in the box’, but I do send out anything for a few outboard effects that I can’t quite achieve in the box.”
Designed to deliver the same tonal quality, warmth, low-mid punch and subtle harmonic distortion as Neve’s iconic 1073 mic preamp, the 1073OPX is ideally suited to a hybrid workflow because it offers exceptional connectivity. Its modern remote-control software ensures two-way control with Total Recall of all settings, while the analogue and digital monitor signal path allows it to be used as a complete stand-alone I/O interface or as a latency-free live room remote preamp.
Having the ability to easily jump from one project to another, and from one instrument to another, was also a key reason why Dan opted for a 1073OPX.
“I have six tracks of drums and a stereo piano permanently connected to the OPX via the DB25 connector on the back,” he explains. “This is one of the things I love most about it, having the ability to just press a button and switch instantly to the connections on the front of the unit for tracking vocals or Synths via the line inputs. It essentially saves me so much hassle rerouting inputs. This is crucial for a songwriter; when I’m working with an artist, I like to get something going quickly, so having the ability to jump between instruments at speed is great. Also, when switching between the inputs on the back to the lines or DI inputs on the front, the gain levels are saved which is another amazing feature, as is the ability to digitally control gain pots in 1db increments. This makes it so much easier to stereo match my piano, for example, and get just the right gain for the source.”
No matter how adept you are with technology, there is always the worry that setting up something new and getting it to work with your existing equipment is going to be a nightmare. Not so with the 1073OPX, says Dan. “I just rigged the line out DB25 into my patch bay and I was ready to go.”
He adds that staff at AMS Neve were also incredibly helpful and visually answered a few initial questions. “I can’t fault Neve’s service in the slightest,” he says.
14th April 2021
Bandit Lites Delivers ACL 360 Bars for Buckhead Church Easter Service
USA – Spring has long been the season of renewal, and for most congregations, this Spring marked the return of in person Easter services. Buckhead Church held both virtual and in-person services for their 4th April services with a special lighting system supplied by Bandit Lites.
“We had to do a total redesign last minute,” said Colton Roth, systems engineer for Buckhead Church. “Bandit was super helpful in putting together the cabling package needed and gathering the large fixture quantity required with a quick turnaround.”
“Jay Waddell first introduced us to Mr. Colton Roth a few weeks prior to this event but immediately upon introduction, it felt like a great fit between us,” said Bandit Lites vice president Mike Golden.
Bandit’s commitment to excellence extends to every gig, from tours planned months in advance to weekend one-offs with a shorter lead time. The result is an efficient system carefully prepped to deliver the lighting the client expects.
Bandit provided 90 Elation ACL 360 bars that were used in a grid layout, giving the team a dramatic background and flexibility to create unique looks for each song in the Easter set.
“The Elation ACL 360 Bar continues to be a frequently spec'd workhorse,” said Bandit Lites technical service director, Jake Tickle. “I am always pleased to see these being used in new creative ways.”
“I had Jay Waddell program the songs from his studio,” explained Roth, “and then he came in and loaded his file to our grandMA3 full-size and tightened it up with the fixtures in there in person and cameras on. Signal Productions handled all load in, load out, and set build on the week of show.”
“I had no doubt that Colton and Jay would produce a beautiful Easter production, but the pictures were beyond my expectations,” finished Golden. “It was a pleasure to work with both of these gentlemen and I look forward to what they come up with in future.”
13th April 2021
Tony Milliet Reflects Energy of Judith Hill in Light with Chauvet Professional
USA – “Strong” is a word that comes up often in reviews of Judith Hill’s music. But hers is not a strength borne of brute force. Instead, its power is drawn from the pure joy and expectation she conveys with every note.
When the Grammy winning vocalist shot a promotional video for the Elans Artists agency in March, the soaring quality of her sound was reflected in light, courtesy of a See-Hear Productions designed and supplied rig that included 33 Chauvet Professional fixtures and 89 F4IP video panels, along with some supplementary units from RZI Lighting.
Tony Milliet ran the rig for the four-day filming session with his ChamSys MagicQ MQ80 plus two extra wings, using his console to create a steady stream of bold looks that, like the music of this uniquely talented artist, conveyed an unbridled sense of energy.
“We had a lot of songs that needed to be shot in just four days,” said Milliet. “I was only given a few tracks ahead of time. I was able to build cue stacks for those songs. All of the other songs were done on the fly. Being able to come up with new looks was a fun challenge. Throughout the sessions, we used our Mavericks to create a wide range of dramatic effects: backlighting with split beams, silhouetting and creating a lot of gobo patterns that came off well on camera and captured the spirit of the artist.”
Milliet credits his console with helping him manage the wide array of looks.. “I have been using ChamSys for 12 years and love the versatility and dependability,’ he said. “The MQ80 allowed me to build and edit cues and FX quickly. The Exec page worked perfectly for all of the busking I had to do. Even by day four, I was able to bring up new looks that fit the mood.”
Creating many of those looks were the rig’s 14 Maverick MK2 spot fixtures, eight of which were flown on mid-stage truss, while six were arranged on the floor. “The Mavericks in the air were used to add texture to the ground, as well as to create overhead beams,” said Milliet. “They were sometimes used as a hard edged back light. The floor fixtures flanked the video wall. They looked great from the overhead jib shot.”
Also featured in the rig were 19 Rogue R2 Wash fixtures, 12 of them on downstage truss for front lighting and three on the upstage truss, as well as two on the left and two on the right upstage wings.
“We used the upstage R2s as backlight,” said Milliet. “I was able to achieve the colours that looked great on camera. Having the zoom function was super valuable in that it allowed me to change looks quickly.”
In the end, despite the entire cavalcade of unique looks Milliet created, one thing remained consistent: the lighting was overflowing with forceful and vibrant energy. The music of Judith Hill called for nothing less.
13th April 2021
Sennheiser Digital 6000 delivers no-compromise RF reliability, ease of use and ultimate sound clarity for Lazarus
The Netherlands – With Ivo van Hove as director and Henry Hey as musical director and arranger/composer, the highly acclaimed Lazarus musical wowed Dutch audiences at Amsterdam’s DeLaMar Theatre before the pandemic hit. With opening scenarios now being discussed throughout Europe, hopes are high that the production can return in 2021. Dutch rental company Events Light worked with production company Stage Entertainment Nederland to deliver state-of-the-art audio equipment for the show, which included 20 channels of Sennheiser Digital 6000 wireless microphone systems, featuring SK 6212 mini-bodypack transmitters.
When Stage Entertainment Nederland (SEN) contacted Events Light’s owner, Jeroen Frijters, about putting together an offer to supply the audio system for the show, Frijters knew right away that only the best quality equipment would be able to meet the team’s high expectations.
Frijters immediately contacted Vincent Tilgenkamp, Sennheiser's RF specialist, to support him with putting together a high-end system they could present to the SEN sound design team.
“Events Light has been going for more than 20 years and all this time we have been using Sennheiser,” states Frijters. “After meeting with Vincent, we felt it was the time to upgrade our stock with Digital 6000 wireless microphone systems, including SK 6212 digital miniature bodypack wireless microphone transmitters, so we could accommodate the demands of such an acclaimed theatrical production.”
Before making the final investment decision on the system, which was delivered to Events Light by Sennheiser partner Audiobizz, Frijters and Tilgenkamp met with the SEN team to demonstrate the system in action and explain its key advantages. No-compromise RF reliability, transparent digital sound, ease of use with a fast and intuitive interface, the compact size of the SK 6212 bodypack and over 12 hours of operation were major points that convinced sound designers Dennis Slot and Erwin Sterk to go with the Digital 6000 recommendation.
“We worked closely with Henry Hey to re-create the original feel of the production and adapt it to the acoustically challenging room at DeLaMar, which was also much larger than the New York Theatre Workshop in Manhattan where Lazarus originally premiered,” recalls Sterk.
“Both Erwin and I were new to the creative team, whilst everyone else already had experience working on the NY and London shows,” adds Slot. “It was challenging to start with, but it gave us an opportunity to approach the sound design with a fresh mindset and really experiment with what worked and what didn’t on the set. We also knew we wanted to use next generation audio equipment. Digital 6000 ticked all our boxes, including its compact bodypack, long operation time, and ease of use of the system.”
Wireless system operator and microphone placement specialist, JoHaLee Glastra, was also happy with Digital 6000 for multiple reasons.
“The biggest advantage for me was the bodypack’s exceptional battery life,” he says. “This meant the batteries could be changed in the morning before the start of rehearsals, last the whole day including the evening live performance, and still have charge left.”
Front of house engineer, Pepijn Bos, could not agree more, adding that on a one-act show like Lazarus, having a system with a battery that “just goes on and on and on” ensures a stress-free performance.
According to Glastra, it was also a lot less hassle for the actors, allowing them to concentrate on the important things like getting to know the lighting and sound cues, having extra time to rehearse or even take a moment to relax, which would be impossible if batteries needed changing throughout the day. “My professional motto is that the less we have to interfere with a performer’s routine the better, so I always try to use good-quality systems like Sennheiser,” he adds.
Sennheiser's Wireless Systems Manager (WSM) professional software solution was another useful feature for Glastra. “The software is really intuitive,” he notes. “All the most important parameters such as battery charging levels, RF status and LQI (Link Quality Indicator) are displayed on a single screen. This makes setting up and co-ordinating the frequencies much easier.”
Apart from the room’s challenging acoustics, further exacerbated by glass surfaces that were part of the set design, the team had to consider certain scenes, such as some of the cast slipping and sliding in a pool of milk at the very end of the show. “A nice discovery for me was just how much cleaner Digital 6000’s sound is compared to the other systems, even after the beltpacks had been bathed in liquid,” Glastra laughs.
Tilgenkamp explains that what Glastra refers to as ‘much cleaner sound’ is, amongst other things, due to the combination of the AD converters, the sophisticated signal processing and the proprietary codec. This ensures a high system audio dynamic range and the outstanding audio quality of the Digital 6000 system, where you hear the voice captured by the microphone and not the wireless system. “These elements are essential for how the system sounds and how the sound is experienced by the audience,” he says.
After selling more than 50,000 tickets, further extending the show’s run to accommodate the overwhelming interest from the Dutch public to experience David Bowie and Enda Walsh’s masterpiece and winning four awards at the Dutch Music Awards Gala, including the best major production award, the production was stopped ten weeks before its official end date in May 2020 due to the COVID pandemic.
Speaking about what made the production such a technical success, Frijters and Tilgenkamp agree that the existing relationship with the team, allowing open communication right from the start, along with the combination of good quality audio equipment were all great advantages.
“I have known Vincent for many years and we have developed a good level of trust,” says Frijters. “This makes a big difference as we know we can deliver a professional service throughout the entire production lifecycle.”
According to Slot, the primary job of the sound designer is to create a sound that fits the narrative vision of the director or producer. “But another important point is the need to create an overall solution that is workable from many different perspectives,” he says. “An actor can wear one, or sometimes multiple, beltpacks so size and weight become crucially important; an RF expert will work with frequencies to ensure the system performs flawlessly; the FOH engineer needs all the right tools to control the sound the audience hears.
“All these elements are like a puzzle. When all the pieces fit nicely together, we can deliver a great show. A system such as Sennheiser’s Digital 6000 not only meets its primary objective of reliably transmitting audio from one place to the other and delivering crystal clear sound, it also helps how you get to that point. It supports the cast by staying as invisible as possible with its 12 hour battery life and miniature size, and its intuitive interface saves precious time and delivers stress-free experience for the techs.”
photos: Jan Versweyveld / Stage Entertainment
9th April 2021
Robe ‘Hearts’ Northampton
UK – Robe UK followed the current Covid-19 instructions to “stay local”, teaming up with Northampton School for Boys (NSB), the University of Northampton and DroneSwarm based nearby in Daventry to support #LightItInRed’s most recent campaign to unite the UK live events, entertainment, performance, and production industry in solidarity during these challenging times.
The call was to light buildings, structures, places and spaces in red throughout the week of March.
The action featured a new distinctive red heart logo designed by the #LightItInRed team for the occasion that – one year on – specifically highlighted the human elements of the industry affected by the pandemic, including those still working or training, those who have had to seek alternative employment, those who’ve lost their jobs, those who have lost friends and family, those who have lost homes and livelihoods, battled mental health issues and all who have put their lives on hold and on the line to survive and assist others to get through this.
Theresa Gibson, head of marketing at Robe UK explained that having been involved in all three LightItInRed campaigns to date: “It was really important for Robe UK to get behind supporting this fourth activation. We have all been affected by the challenges and difficulties over the last 12 months and having the opportunity to partner with our friends at DroneSwarm and the University of Northampton again to collaborate and show our strength as a united force was truly wonderful!”
Working in the extensive sports grounds and facilities of Northampton School for Boys (founded 1541), Robe’s lead creative Nathan Wan assisted by Jordan Tinniswood added some dramatic beam lighting effects to a spectacular 100 metre wide, 83 metre tall heart shape which was created by 40 small illuminated drones.
Three Robe MegaPointes were chosen for their power and impact to complete this piece of lighting art.
DroneSwarm is an eye-catching visual concept created by Mat Lawrence and his team, he also heads laser and pyro specialists MLE Pyrotechnics.
Each aircraft can carry an LED light or pyro effects, and utilising proprietary DroneSwarm software, the swarm can create amazing, fluid, and elegant airborne displays for all types of events from trade shows and brand activations to weddings and parties.
Creating the heart shape needed some ultra-precise programming to ensure each drone was position-perfect, but the results were super cool.
Northampton School for Boys headmaster Richard Bernard commented: “NSB was delighted to play host to such an exhilarating 'Light it in Red' event which fired up the skies above the school playing fields. The impressive drone formation was both moving and a triumph of technology, conveying a hugely powerful message of support for the live event industry and the NHS across the Northampton skyline. A fantastic evening of entertainment and reflection.”
Theresa followed up in expressing gratitude to Northampton School for Boys: “… and also to assistant headmaster Richard Murphy on the evening for facilitating the space required to stage the stunning drone swarm light creation specially designed by Mat’s team.
“The heart embraced by the Robe MegaPointes was a spectacular sight across the skies of Northampton shining as a beacon of love, light, hope and positivity to everyone in the industry,” stated Theresa with passion.
In addition to the drone heart, Robe UK once again arranged a collaboration with the University as they had for the first national #LightItInRed campaign action in July last year.
The #LightItInRed, NSB, DroneSwarm and Robe logos were displayed on a large plasma screen on the University’s Waterside Campus 26 metre high media tower, together with a rolling collection of custom graphics incorporating the #LightItInRed heart and #WeMakeEvents logos complete with industry supporting taglines produced by students from the BA Events Management course.
Says Theresa: “It was great to also engage the Event Management degree students who supported the campaign with personal and powerful messages which were highly visible across the town.”
Claire Leer, senior lecturer in Events Management and Tourism, commented: “The University of Northampton is proud to stand with the events sector and #LightItInRed to shed light on the impact of the pandemic.
“We’re in a period of unprecedented seismic change for the events sector, but it is heartening to see the way the sector can unite, and creatively respond to the Covid challenge. Our students, and graduates, will be at the heart of the way the industry bounces back from what has been an extremely challenging year.”
Theresa concluded: “We are so proud to continue supporting the incredible work that the Light It In Red and We Make Events campaign teams have generated and delivered over this last year, and all the awesome industry people and beyond who have dedicated their time to make so much happen, which has been most heartfelt and humbling.”
photos: Louise Stickland
9th April 2021
Astera is Pytch Perfect
UK – Creative and technical event production design and delivery specialist Pytch, based in Bristol, has invested in 72 new Astera Titan Tubes, adding to its existing 32 Astera AX3 LightDrops.
The LightDrops were originally purchased for creating funky and original table centres for events, gala dinners, etc., and Pytch have produced some custom covers that refract and treat the AX3 light in different ways.
Pytch is known for its imagination, flair, and innovative approach to event presentation, and very recently for expanding its office space with the purchase and installation of the fuselage of a real Boeing 727 airliner! This comes with its own character, colourful history, gloriously kitsch interior and is now anchored safely to a stack of containers in the back yard, serving as a unique space in its own right impressing Pytch guests and clients.
Recently Pytch ran a PytchLab session, an experimental event where different ideas and concepts can be tried and tested for effectiveness and practicality using the AX3s and the Titan Tubes to illuminate the underside of the plane numerous striking ways.
However, the Titan Tubes were specifically an investment for the three virtual studios that Pytch has been running since the start of the pandemic, which have steadily been getting busier, utilised for a range of corporate presentations, meetings and business events plus livestreams concerts, fashion shows and other broadcasts.
The initial 24 Titan Tubes went into the first studio and were such a success that it was decided to replicate the look in the other two spaces so all were identical, explained Pytch’s head of lighting, Dan Giddings.
Initially they looked at the AX1, Astera’s original ‘pixel tube’: “I wanted a specific neon looking tube but something that was classy, elegant and that stood out from the slew of options on the market,” stated Dan.
They did their research and comparisons, and Astera came out the winner!
Individual pixel control was a big thing as it adds to the versatility of the product and therefore be used for a wider range of applications.
Wireless operation and battery power are also a great asset inherent in and Astera product in terms of flexibility, and this will be invaluable once live events start to ramp up as events restart post-pandemic, says Dan, however in the studios, they are all run wired.
“So, it’s handy to have the option of both,” he confirmed, adding that the Titan Tubes are fantastic for creating band backdrops rigged on stands or for attaching to trussing towers for those wanting a rawer and more industrial feel.
Recently Dan designed lighting for a multiple artist recording session at Pytch for a collection of exciting cutting-edge musical talent: vocalist Ruth Royall, the Paper Dragon collective, d&b producers Grafix and Toronto Is Broken, dubstep bass master Axel Boy and fluid d&b impresario Somatic, all for the Our Space record label.
The goal was to record the footage for music videos and other promotional collateral and also to release full length streamed sets online in the future.
The session offered a great opportunity for Dan to use the Titan Tubes in some interesting and inventive ways and maximise their pixel mapping capabilities. He rigged the fixtures at ground level and at various hights around the studio for a strong and distinctive signature look that would work for all artists.
Photos: Laurie Kaye and Emanuel Mayorga
9th April 2021
AB Sound Creates Grand Entrance at Euromillions Cup Finals with Chauvet Professional
Belgium – The Euromillions Cup Finals billed itself as “the biggest volleyball party of the year” in February 2020. That was quite a claim, but certainly not an idle one. Volleyball has been booming in Belgium ever since the country won the men’s European title in 2013.
True to form, fans flocked to the 18,400-seat Antwerps Sportspalies to cheer on their favourite teams last year and enjoy a rollicking good time. Things, of course, were radically different at the 2021 edition of the tournament.
With the threat of the coronavirus ever- present, the Euromillions Cup Finals was moved to the much smaller Lotto Arena, with no fans admitted. Not able to see their favourite volley ballers play in person, fans had to be content with watching the finals via livestream broadcasts.
It may not have been a 'party', but the broadcast of the Euromillions Cup Finals did kick off in an exciting, celebratory fashion, thanks a dynamic pixel mapped lighting display created by AB Sound that featured the Chauvet Professional ÉPIX Flex 20 and ÉPIX Flex Drive, along with the COLORado 1-Quad Zoom Tour and foggers.
The display created by AB Sound turned the tunnel that led to the arena into a pulsating cylinder of light and atmospherics. Volleyball players running through this tubular panorama glowed in their team colours. It was a scene that not only psyched up players, but also the fans watching the broadcast.
“Giving the players the kind of entrance, they deserved was very gratifying,” said Bart Aelbrecht of AB Sound. “This meant a great deal to everyone, especially in these difficult times. We were happy to work with Heat International and Kris Schoeters as our partner in sports entertainment on this uplifting project.”
AB Sound used 25 of the five metre ÉPIX Flex 20 strips to create the tunnel display. These strips were placed in a custom-made alu-profile to have the look of a straight line. One ÉPIX Flex Drive was used at each output. The entire system was driven over ArtNet. A collection of four atmospherics was used for fog. Accenting their output were eight COLORado 1 Quad Zoom Tour fixtures, two per fogger.
Aelbrecht credits the flexible RGB LED strips with helping his team create the eye-catching display even while working within pandemic-related social distancing and budgetary restrictions. “The flexible strips were very effective and convenient given the circumstances we were working under,” he said. “With normal rigid strips we would have needed lots of scaffolding to hold them up. We would also have had to use 120 fixtures instead of the 24, which would have meant much longer build up time.”
In the current environment issues surrounding budgets and time loom larger than ever, notes Aelbrecht. This creates its own special challenges for sure, but until the lockdown ends he’ll continue to bring the “biggest volleyball party” and other good time events into virtual space for all to enjoy.
9th April 2021
Sennheiser supported Riedel for 36th America’s Cup presented by PRADA
New Zealand – Considered the ‘pinnacle of yachting’, the America’s Cup is not only the oldest but also the most difficult sports trophy to win. The 2021 Cup, which took place in the Hauraki Gulf off the coast of Auckland, saw the defender Emirates Team New Zealand race against the challenger Luna Rossa PRADA Pirelli, winning by 7:3. Communications specialist Riedel was entrusted with the overarching technology concept for broadcast and race management for the host broadcast partner circle-o. To complement its hardware and software technologies, Riedel deployed custom-made Sennheiser microphones for the coverage of the prestigious sailing event, which saw the two innovative German companies collaborate closely on this extraordinary project.
Sennheiser engineers provided custom-made, water-proof microphones for the crews’ boomsets and the on-board cameras, ensuring top-class audio both for the broadcasts and for team communications. The microphones were fully matched to Riedel’s Bolero wireless intercom and integrated seamlessly into the overall communication set-up.
“We are absolutely delighted to having partnered Riedel on this spectacular project,” said co-CEO Andreas Sennheiser. “The America’s Cup is a high-tech race that puts both the teams and equipment to the very hardest of tests. In addition, it is yet another proof that sports broadcasting is a true innovation driver.”
Thomas Riedel, CEO and founder, Riedel Communications said: “Decades of experience in the most demanding production environments culminated in this very special project with very special challenges. Together with our partner suppliers, all of whom represent the global standard in their fields, our team created a seamless production infrastructure that enabled circle-o to take its live coverage to thrilling new levels. Their stunning coverage opened up entirely new perspectives on sailing and perfectly illustrated the great impact technology can have on entertainment formats and the tangibility of sporting events.”
Michael Horn is the manager of Sennheiser’s Competence Center for Acoustics and Mechanical Design. He provides an overview of the first prototypes developed by the team: “When Riedel contacted us about their concept for the America’s Cup, it was immediately clear that any microphone on board the race boats had to withstand truly extreme marine conditions, becoming completely immersed in water, and having to deal with loud wind noise.”
Michael and his team developed a solution based on the MKE 2 elements. It included a professional broadcast microphone (frequency response 20Hz – 20,000Hz) that has a capsule protected against water by an umbrella diaphragm, which spans over the acoustically active diaphragm without altering its acoustic performance. In addition, the capsule was fitted with a protective grille that lets water simply drip off without ingress into the mic.
Another crucial element was the windshield made from a special foam material. Even when soaking wet, it still retained its excellent wind protection properties. The microphones achieved IPX7 class protection, meaning they were waterproof up to 1 bar (1 metre / 3 feet for 30 minutes).
Thanks to their elastic suspension, the mics were insensitive to any structure-borne noise, no matter if they were used in the headset configuration or as ambience microphones.
“The interaction of all these components is what makes this microphone so special,” explained Horn. “Other models might withstand some spray or even the odd splash but this microphone is the one. It just performs, no matter whether it is dry or wet, delivering captivating live audio from the boats and making communications within the teams easy.”
main photo: ACE | Studio Borlenghi, courtesy of America’s Cup
8th April 2021
Glitterbox and GLP bring curtain down on Comic Relief with Red Nose Rave
UK – Joining forces with Red Nose Day and kitchen disco Isolation Nation, Glitterbox recently brought the curtain down on BBC1 Comic Relief’s main event. The online Red Nose Rave, the special after-party, further boosted the BBC1 fund-raiser.
Taking place on a custom stage at the world-famous Royal Albert Hall, the venue was lit by Sam Tozer of Vision Factory, using new generation fixtures from the GLP portfolio. These zipped into action around midnight on 19th March to light sets from the from body confidence guru turned celebrity DJ Gok Wan, Melvo Baptiste and The Shapeshifters, while Teni Tinks joined the latter for a live PA.
The LD has been working with Mattie Smith’s production company Nocturnal Tour Management (NTRP) since the start of lockdown, handling the live YouTube streams. His brief here was to support the Glitterbox brand’s own particular style and feel.
“They support the LGBQ+ community, and the stage is packed with dancers, colour and enjoyment,” Tozer said. “We had to create club intimacy down the camera lens, but at the same time turn it into a dynamic show. I was asked to design the set, production and lighting to meet this aesthetic, and from there I was given the freedom to create the show.
“Coming from a live performance background, lockdown shows have seen a big change in style of lighting and stage design,” he continued. “We wanted to show off the scale of the venue but at the same time create its own space that would be more familiar to Glitterbox audiences.”
Using the venue as a large catwalk, at the end of a centre room stage, which also incorporated the main stage, gave the director a new dynamic to pick up on. “Rather than utilise traditional rave/party lighting techniques, I wanted to place more emphasis on the set and dancers and allow the energy of the performance to be portrayed through the camera and director cuts,” he explained.
The GLP fixtures comfortably met all the broadcast requirements. “Ultimately they needed to deliver an even field of saturated colour, with intensity from certain directions to produce light around the architecture of the set.”
He had earlier sat down with Andy Strachan from vendor, Christie Lites, and top of the shopping list was GLP’s impression FR10 Bar, a fixture he would be using for the first time. He specified 19 units, which were all flown above the catwalk.
This batten contains ten 60W high output RGBW LED that colour-matches with the entire GLP X4 and FR series of fixtures. “I wanted this for its output and zoom,” said Tozer. “It played a major role on this show and I wasn’t going to compromise on it. With the trim heights on the trusses, I needed the extra degrees of zoom and output that we miss when using other products.”
In fact, he tasked his programmer Kris Goodman with creating gradients of colour on the catwalk. “And he achieved this via individual pixel control.”
Tozer also set some GLP JDC1 hybrid strobes at the feet of the catwalk. “This was pixel mapped in order to provide cam eye candy as well as low fill for both sides of the catwalk,” he said.
Both men piloted their own MA Lighting grandMA2 desks, with Kris Goodman running most of the show while Tozer took charge of key fills and kept the direction of the show moving.
Finally, the LD credits the support given by Christie Lites. “Andy worked his magic as usual, so that we pulled it off exactly to plan.”
His first outing with the powerful FR10 had been a complete success. “In fact we were able to make dynamic use of both GLP fixtures. They don’t just need to fulfil a solitary role; they are sufficiently versatile to enable me to quickly grab a light and use it for a completely different function. I also love the strength of output I get from both units.”
The Red Nose Rave was broadcast on Glitterbox's YouTube feed and was also viewable via Facebook Live.
photos: Sam Neill
8th April 2021
ChamSys MagicQ MQ80 Creates Smooth Path for Corey Easterbrook At PCCA Conference
USA – When you begin working with a new client who’s never used an outside professional AV company before, you need three things: patience, understanding and a fast, user-friendly console that will allow you to make smooth in-show adjustments.
Corey Easterbrook of Hot House Music and Productions seems to have been born with the first two attributes. He credits his ChamSys MagicQ MQ80 with providing the third ingredient when he returned to live events recently, providing AV services to the Power & Communication Contractors Association (PCCA) annual meeting.
A North American trade association serving members involved in the electrical power distribution industry, PCCA had always used in-house AV services for their events. The results were mixed. So, during the lockdown, the group reevaluated its policies and decided to go with a professional. Hot House Music and Productions came highly recommended by a Fortune 500 company.
For Easterbrook, the call from PCCA was the opportunity to work on his first significant live project since the lockdown began. “The past year has been a challenge for us as it’s been for just about everyone in our industry,” he said. “But this show was different because it was the first time that I felt like we were turning a corner. Every morning when doors opened, it felt like Christmas!”
A long with this good feeling, however, came a long list of concerns, not the least of which was operating under strict safety protocols. Complicating matters, Easterbrook’s wife had recently given birth to a son, so he had to call in friend and fellow designer Eric Price as a backup for the two day event in case he was called away for an emergency.
Meanwhile, he also had to deal with the possibility of having to make adjustments on site for a client who was new, not only to Hot House, but to the entire idea of using a professional AV service. Even with all of these considerations, he says that his MagicQ MQ80 helped provide a “smooth path” for his return to live events.
“Along with my business partner Jeremy Robertson and our crew Nathan Gifford, Brandon Scopel, Russel Lewis, and Tim Walters, the MQ80 was the key to making this event work,” said Easterbrook. “I have been using ChamSys for four years now, and it’s been making my life easier the whole time, especially at this event with all that was going on. The FX engine makes it incredibly fast and simple to dial in great looks without a ton of fuss. We programmed the entire show on site, so the ability to make changes quickly and smooth reassured our client.”
Of particular importance to Easterbrook was his console intuitive graphical interface and its adaptability. “I like the Plot window on the MQ80 and how it lets me focus fixtures graphically,” he said. “With ChamSys, I can layout my show file the way I want from one event to another, depending on my needs. That came in very handy in this situation. Also, the big high res display was nice, since we busked the entire conference.”
The user-friendliness of the MQ80 was driven home to Easterbrook when he gave his fellow LD Price a quick education on the console. “Eric is a long-time user of another brand of console, but he felt at home with the ChamSys very quickly,” said Easterbrook. “Eric also normally works off cues, but when I showed him the intuitive busking set-up on the MQ80, he responded ‘Let’s do it!’”
This response, along with the positive reaction of his client to the smooth changes made on the console, reassured Easterbrook. “Dealing with COVID safety protocols, coming back after a long lay-off and working for a new client and having a beautiful new son Griffyn made my plate very full,” he said. “At times like this you appreciate your ChamSys. It’s like a dependable friend.”
7th April 2021
Robe is The Lucky One for Eesti Laul 2021
Estonia – Robe moving lights and two RoboSpot systems provided a neat and creative solution for the 2021 Eesti Laul competition to select Estonia’s entry to this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.
Lighting and set designer for the finale show and the two semi-finals that preceded it in Tallinn’s Saku Suurhall arena was Rene Jõhve, who was approached to work on the project by Estonian national broadcaster, ERR. This was his tenth year of lighting the finale and semi-final events which were aired live and, for obvious reasons, this year were staged without an audience
The lighting rig included a selection of Robe fixtures including two BMFL WashBeams, 13 DL7 Profiles, 12 300E Spot, 42 Pointes, 25 Spiider LED wash beams, 18 LEDBeam150s and eight MMX WashBeams, plus other lights, all of which were supplied to the production by rental company Cuuclub Ltd.
The slick and streamlined main stage design was triangular, with angled side struts meeting above the centre to create a triangular arched ceiling over the upstage section which were clad in LED panels, leaving the forestage open.
The transparent stage floor also contained tilted LED screens, and another main triangular LED screen upstage had lights rigged on both edges to accentuate its shape. A long and elegant runway at the front of the stage connected it to a smaller B stage out in the centre of the arena. Had there been an audience, this would have been right in the middle.
The geometry of the stage lent itself to a lot of dynamic beam lighting effects and worked brilliantly on camera even without an audience, however with the LED clad arches in place, there was less space for more conventional lighting positions, so this presented a challenge.
There was also a quantity of custom LED pixel fixtures rigged in squares above the stage and along the structural metalwork supporting the arch to the sides.
Two of the BMFL WashBeams were positioned on the front truss and connected to the RoboSpot systems together with three of the upstage DL7S Profiles which were also hooked into the system.
The two RoboSpot base stations were located at FOH behind the lighting console, with all parameters controlled from the console apart from the pan and tilt movement and the iris. The systems were run in multi-device mode – a feature that Rene loves and has used several times in similar scenarios – allowing keylight and backlighting to be calibrated together.
Having the additional three DL7S Profiles on the system allowed different rear spotlights to be selected and used if needed depending on the camera shot, and having this extra flexibility was a great asset to how Rene could light and key the show.
As always, the task was keeping everything looking different and fresh for the two semi-finals, where 24 contestants were whittled down to 12 for the finale. In addition to all the competing song action onstage, interval acts for each broadcast had to be lit.
Three ChamSys MQ500 desks were used for lighting control. Rene programmed and ran the moving lights from one, Erki Kukk looked after all the keylights on another and Črt Birsa, one of Slovenia’s leading LDs who was working in Estonia for a month, operated the bespoke digital pixel LED fixtures on the third.
The two RoboSpot operators were Mihkel Viinalass and Marit Kutser.
"The Lucky One" performed by singer-songwriter, pianist, and music producer Uku Suviste was declared the winner, selected by a combination of jury and public voting, and he will go on to represent Estonia in the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam, the Netherlands in May.
Uku Suviste was also the country’s representative for the cancelled 2020 Eurovision event, so hopefully the goodwill of the song’s title will propel him forward with a chance to bring the coveted accolade back to Estonia!
photos: Rene Jõhve
6th April 2021
TBN Good Friday Worldwide Goes Global with Bandit Lites
USA – Christian artist Chris Tomlin and best selling author and pastor Max Lucado joined with other contemporary Christian musicians for “Good Friday Worldwide,” a worship service that aired on Trinity Broadcasting Network 2 April. Bandit Lites supplied a lighting system for the programme, which was simultaneously broadcast to the radio by K-LOVE and Air1, in addition to 30 other radio stations across the country.
"We deeply need the message of Good Friday this year,” said Max Lucado in a statement to The Christian Post. “The last months have taken their toll on our emotional strength, relationships, and stability. The Good Friday message is much needed and welcomed this year.”
Lighting designer Brad Hill, who had previously worked with Shawn Lear at Bandit Lites on regular and special programs at TBN, sought to create a unique Easter themed design within the Huckabee Theater at TBN. Three crosses with intelligent fixtures were configured as the main focal point, but needed to blend in with the upstage video display.
“We were looking for something that could resemble a cross during speaking portions of the show, but could also break into dynamic effects for music,” explained Hill. “After chatting with Shawn Lear from Bandit, we decided to go with the good old Ayrton Magic Panels. Their dimensions fit within the LED Wall spaces just right, and one of our two console operators, Dayne DeHaven, ran the Magic Panels using Madrix.”
“Brad trusted Dayne DeHaven’s experience to rig, power and ensure the crosses were close enough to fill in the video display cut out while simultaneously be able to fully pan and tilt flawlessly,” said Lear.
“We utilised more LED panels than we ever have before because the goal was to let the LED content drive the feel of the songs while accenting the movements of the music with our intelligent fixtures,” said Hill. “I feel like we were able to tie in the fixtures to the wall pretty seamlessly. The versatility of the Magic Panels was nice because we made the crosses really punch and stand out on bigger musical moments, while allowing them to blend into the wall during more subtle moments.”
Bandit Lites also supplied Ayrton Khamsin S fixtures, Chauvet Rogue R2X Washes, Elation Smarty Hybrids and ROBE Mega Pointes.
“With so much LED Wall content driving the show, we needed a fixture that could punch through the competition of the LED wall intensity,” said Hill. “The Smarty’s are compact, energy efficient, offer a 1 degree to 33-degree beam, can colour mix, and have nice prism and gobo options. Pre-COVID, the show was typically done in a large arena with thousands of fans. Now in a smaller theatre, the 20 Smartys were just what we needed to create that big show feel in a smaller space.”
Good Friday Nashville has sold out each year since its inaugural 2017 concert, where it smashed attendance records as the largest ticketed Christian concert in the history of Bridgestone Arena. While the show was recorded in a smaller venue, Hill sought to still bring that epic, larger than life feel.
“There are always challenges when you're trying to push the limits of a room, and we definitely pushed the data and power limitations further than we ever have,” Hill said. “Robert Hickman, Bill Jackson, Dayne DeHaven, John Taylor and Andrew Benson did a great job of managing the overall rigging, power and data distribution.”
“Shawn and the guys were great,” finished Hill. “The gear was prepped and pristine as usual; they are a pleasure to work with.”
6th April 2021
Chauvet Professional Helps Events Evolution Celebrate Zimbabwean Women in Music
Zimbabwe – The rhythmic Afro-pop dance floor sound of Ammara Brown flows through a musical path that is distinctly different from the jazz infused offerings of Tamy Moyo. Yet both of these multi-instrumentalists and All Africa Music Award winners exude a captivating aura every time they step on to the stage.
This was plain to see on 12 February when they joined forces for “Girls on the Move,” a two-hour pay-for-view livestream on Gateway Stream Music intended to celebrate and raise awareness of Zimbabwean women in music.
Providing a lively and brightly coloured setting in support of their performances was a Blessing Bero designed light show that featured Chauvet Professional Maverick and Rogue fixtures, including eight MK2 Spot units, four R2 Spots and four R2 Washes, all of which were supplied by Events Evolution.
Working in coordination with video designer Tatenda Gaylord Rushwaya, Bero reflected the personality and music of the two artists, each of whom performed separately during the livestream, after briefly meeting on stage. At the same time, he relied on recurring patterns in light angles and thematic colour mixes to create a consistent, unifying image throughout the livestream.
Key to highlighting the artists and their backing performers was downlighting from the Maverick MK2 Spot fixtures. At times, Bero tightened the zoom on the 440 Watt moving fixtures to create a circle of light around each person on stage. For dramatic effect, he also created spot circles in front of the performers, adding greater dimensionality to the stage.
During other moments Bero broadened the zoom range of his Mavericks and directed multiple fixtures at Brown or Moyo to create a dramatic fan of light around the star herself. Drawing on the fixture’s CMY + CTO colour mixing prowess, he frequently changed his spot palettes, often juxtaposing the colour of his spots with a different hue from his washes to create a bold image that came off well on camera.
Colour changes of all sorts occurred frequently throughout the livestream to set different moods. Most palette choices involved vivid combinations, such as greens and yellows or purples on reds. Rushwaya’s video panels were often color coordinated with Bero’s wash fixtures to create deep colour saturations throughout the stage.
“We were after looks that stood out,” said Rushwaya, who like Bero is part of the Events Evolution design team. “The two stars wanted to make a strong statement celebrating women in music.”
Judging from the non-stop stunning vistas created by Events Evolution for two hours during their livestream, that’s precisely what they got.