Production News Headlines
Mathieu Cabanes discovers the capabilities of Robert Juliat’s LED Arthur followspot at the Domaine d'O
Allen & Heath SQ Consoles Deliver Double Duty – Livestream and Recording Mixes
USA – Co-founded by famed bassist Matt Garrison and co-founder Fortuna Sung, ShapeShifter Lab is a 4,200 square foot performance space in Brooklyn designed to serve as a hub for like-minded genre-bending musicians and artists. Developed as a unique outlet for the presentation of art and music events, ShapeShifter Lab has recently expanded its activities to new spaces and projects with the Allen & Heath SQ-5 and SQ-6 at the centre of the production.
One recent special event was held in New York supported by Apple Inc’s Racial Equity and Justice Initiative (REJI) and the Entrepreneur Camp programmes, which served up a live stream in support of a new interactive iOS app, aptly called Matt Garrison. The app contains a living and evolving archive of Garrison’s creative works including past albums, audio and video content, music charts and scores, lessons and live streams all in one place that will be continuously updated as new content is developed.
“We are excited to push the boundaries of what a performance space and creative community can be through the launch of the iOS app,” notes ShapeShifter Lab co-founder Matt Garrison. “We’ve been presenting live streams and tackling video and audio capture at our current primary physical venue, but this latest event was done in conjunction with Apple as it involved launching the app we developed. Even with the additional audio needs and the high visibility that Apple brought into the mix, we knew that SQ was the way to go.”
Utilising the company’s XCVI FGPA processing core, SQ Series provides 48 full processing channels at 96kHz while keeping latency down at a class-leading <0.7ms range. The XCVI power also allows for every input to contain a HPF, a super-fast gate with side-chain and filter options, a musical four-band parametric equaliser, and Peak/RMS compression for control and shaping of levels and transients. Mixes have both a parametric and 28 band graphic EQ along with compressor as standard, all ready to switch in when required, a necessity when dealing with the complexities of streaming audio.
Featuring renowned artists Ravi Coltrane on tenor sax, Marcus Gilmore on drums and Garrison on bass and electronics, the app launch event – which included a live performance presentation and marked the release of Matt Garrison’s new album called, “Generations,” – relied on SQ to deliver on multiple fronts. “The power of SQ is just insane,” adds Garrison. “Not only were we able to make the physical space and the monitor mixes sound great, but we could capture great audio and push out a dedicated stream mix that was truly studio quality. We’ve used other compact digital mixers in the past, but this was an entirely different level of sonic purity and control and flexibility. And somehow SQ is still fast and easy to navigate and configure. We dialled in a great mix quickly and could step back and focus on making great music. With the help of our friends from Apple, Allen & Heath, Fodera Guitars, Epifani Custom Sound Systems and Keith McMillen Instruments, the event was a huge success.”
With the technical production for the Matt Garrison app launch event wrapped, Garrison followed up with a live big band recording a few days later. “We also recorded a big band, the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra,” says ShapeShifter Lab co-founder Fortuna Sung. “We commissioned the band to play arrangements of Matt’s compositions, featuring the arranging skills of Winnie Dahlgren. That was a total of 20 band members, all first-call NYC and Los Angeles musicians and we used both our house SQ-6 and an additional daisy-chained SQ-5 to cover all the inputs of this expanded group. The main audio engineers on both events (Miles Bentley, Astrid Asmundsson, Caroline Olbert and Jason Llaguno) had nothing but positive feedback about the desks. No matter what we threw their way, SQ delivered.”
22nd September 2021
Robe LEDBeam 350s Play the TV Game
The Netherlands – Lighting designer Bas van der Poel from design practice Light Image used Robe’s brand new LEDBeam 350 moving light fixtures for the recording of a new series of German game show “99 – Eine:r schlägt sie alle!” (99 – One Beats Them All!), which was recorded in the Netherlands at Amsterdam's fabulous circular Westergas venue, part of a former gasworks now sustainably reimagined as a popular event and cultural space.
The 32 LEDBeam 350s (the first to arrive in the Netherlands) were delivered to lighting rental company Eventec which specialises in supplying lighting for the television and broadcast sector by Robe’s Benelux distributor, Controllux.
Eventec works regularly with the show’s production company, Fabiola BV, and was asked to supply lighting and rigging for the series’ three-week shooting period at Westergas. The show action starts with 100 competitors who play a series of crazy games and knockout rounds until only one – the winner – is left standing.
Bas and director Bastien Angemeer discussed initial ideas for lighting, and Bas created the design based on this plus having an adaptable and versatile rig to be able to quickly cover multiple requirements of the fast-paced show and tight recording schedule.
Recorded in the Netherlands, this was a German edition of the show, so key elements included having a fuller and more prominent production that had featured in the Dutch version, and the director also wanted to be able to conceal props and scenic elements at strategic times with clever lighting and a few tricks while other games were being prepared.
All of this appealed to Bas’s sense of visual adventure!
Apart from that, Westergas is a beautifully stark industrial heritage building that was designed by Isaac Gosschalk in the Dutch ‘Neorenaissance’ style which does not need much enhancement. It dates to the 1890s when the original West Gas manufacturing plant opened to serve the western part of the city.
Bas had already produced a kit list for the lighting design when Eventec’s owner Wijnand Mol and operations manager Stefan Bensch mentioned that they expected to have the LEDBeam 350s by that time and did he want to try them out? Naturally, Bas jumped at the chance of being the first LD in the Netherlands, and indeed Europe, to use this cool new tech on a TV show.
A 20 metre diameter circular truss was installed in the roof space of Westergas mimicking its impressive circumference, and this was surrounded by a series of 21 ‘arm’ trusses of two different sizes that alternated around the circular shape of the venue, in the space between the truss and the perimeter wall.
The LEDBeam 350s were positioned at the near the outside of the top end of each of the 21 sticks of ‘finger’ truss, with a MegaPointe at the other end, and two Spiiders in the middle.
In addition to these, also on the lighting rig were another 82 Robe fixtures: 40 Spiiders, 20 MegaPointes and 22 ESPRITES, plus other lights.
The Westergas floor had to be kept relatively clear of kit and set allowing the games to be set up, played, and filmed, so the ESPRITES were on trusses hung in the middle of the circular truss and were optimised for key light.
The remaining 11 LEDBeam 350s were deployed on the floor in different positions, used as punchy and flexible light sources around the back wall that could be moved to wherever they were needed according to the shots.
It was the first time that Bas had designed lights for this show, although he’s previously worked on several other Fabiola productions.
He was “super-excited” to be using the LEDBeam 350s and well impressed with the brightness and speed of the fixture. “It’s a large space and they are right at the furthest lighting points from the centre of the room, and they throw really nicely and brightly into that area,” he commented whilst on site.
A LEDBeam 150 fan ever since that fixture was launched, Bas has also always liked using the rarer LEDBeam 1000 for front light due to its “excellent soft skin tones.”
He rates the white LED source of the ESPRITES and the fact that the luminaire also has multiple uses, making it a “truly versatile workhorse” fixture and great for television or theatre front lights as well as show effects for multi-camera and festival environments.
A major challenge of lighting “99 – Eine:r schlägt sie alle!” was the speed at which games and shots needed to be set up and recorded. Bas needed to accommodate the director’s wishes and requests quickly and efficiently as they simply didn’t have the time to fart around, so all these Robe fixtures made a perfect combination.
He worked alongside lighting programmer and operator Thijs Benschop also from Light Image using a grandMA2.
Eventec was founded by Wijnand in 2007, and in 2012 the company started investing in Robe moving lights, a process that has continued steadily for the last nine years as the brand has become well established in the Dutch television sector and Eventec has stayed at the forefront of new and emerging lighting technologies and trends.
With 80% of their turnover in TV world, Eventec has been lucky enough to keep working throughout the pandemic as the sector has been going full steam to meet the massive demand for new entertainment and general TV content.
The ESPRITES were another new addition to Eventec’s inventory in 2020, and the initial order was quickly followed by another one as they were specified like ‘hot cakes’ and they also discovered ESPRITE is great in combination with their RoboSpot remote controlled followspotting systems.
They now have over 200 of the newest Robe fixtures in rental stock: LEDWash 600+s, BMFL Blades, LEDBeam 150s, LEDWash 300s and MegaPointes, ESPRITES and now the LEDBeam 350s, and are expecting the LEDBeam 350s – like the rest of the kit – to be in constant demand going forward.
21st September 2021
TiMax Tosca spatialisation entrances Puccini purists
Italy – Staged in the elegant courtyard of the Palazzo Farnese in Piacenza, the flagship performance of this year’s Notte d’Opera a Palazzo was a stirring representation of Puccini’s Tosca. The natural acoustics of the 16th century architecture were lifted powerfully yet naturally by the immersive prowess of TiMax spatial audio processing. Complementing TiMax’s sympathetic spatial amplification and to ensure complete audience immersion, impressive virtual scenography was video-mapped onto the imposing façade of the building.
TiMax afficionado, Federico Bianchi, designed the multichannel d&b sound system, drove the TiMax SoundHub processor and mixed the show on a Digico console. With social-distancing maximised to ensure a covid-safe environment for performers, musicians and the audience, positioning of the distributed loudspeaker system was inevitably challenged by an unconventional stage set up. This led to comparatively irregular speaker positions which TiMax nevertheless stitched together into a seamless, object-based, immersive soundfield.
Whilst Bianchi concedes that covering the wide audience area was the biggest difficulty, the onstage spacing was also challenging to the sound design. A 55-piece orchestra was positioned in front of the opera performers on the main stage, whilst a large choir was positioned to the side.
Bianchi said: “The non-traditional, wide spacing of the three musical sources forced me to find solutions to keep each element blended and in perfect timing each other. It would have been impossible without TiMax to guarantee localisation and intelligibility for everyone in the venue.”
The on site set up took no time at all thanks to the TiMax PanSpace automatic Calculate feature. Bianchi was able to pre-design the system offline, plotting the speaker system topology and locations in PanSpace, then rendering the stage and surround spatial mappings at the push of a button. He states: “In a few seconds on-site, I found myself with an already excellent setup before I’d even started soundcheck!”
The main system comprised five d&b point-source speakers distributed to cover the width of the stage, assisted by five front fills and four sub bass units. Three delay speakers provided supporting spatial reinforcement for the last rows. A further four anchor speakers were added to the front stage truss between the opera singers on the main stage and the orchestra to augment the on-stage voices and their precise localisation. To subtly enhance the immersive mix as well as to create environmental spatial reverb, eight surround speakers were positioned at the sides and rear of the audience.
It is notable that the use of amplification was originally resisted by the producers for fear of it creating an unnatural-sounding performance, but ultimately the authentic and transparent localisation and immersion created by Federico Bianchi’s TiMax spatial mix met with everyone’s full approval.
21st September 2021
White Light sets the scene for Shakespearean classic under the stars at Kew Gardens
UK – As part of this summer’s Theatre on Kew programme, The Australian Shakespeare Company staged an open-air production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream within the uniquely botanical surroundings of Kew Gardens. As an approved supplier at the venue, with an industry-leading reputation for supplying theatre shows, White Light (WL) was chosen to provide all lighting and audio equipment for the project.
Each performance during the four-week run began at twilight, to take full advantage of staging the Shakespearean favourite beneath the stars and canopy of Kew Gardens’ heritage trees. To enhance the play’s woodland setting and achieve lighting designer Peter Amesbury’s vision, WL specified a range of different lighting fixtures, all controlled by the HES Road Hog 4 console. The rig included Elation SIXPAR 200IPs and Chauvet Ovation E-910FC IPs, as well as SGM G-Spot Turbos. Look Solutions Unique hazers were utilised, to add to the sense of magic in the air.
WL’s key account manager Dominic Yates comments: “Given the alfresco set-up for the performances, our entire rig had to be fully IP-rated. There were different visual elements to focus on, from the players on stage, to the surrounding trees, which we wanted to appear larger than life to heighten the drama. To work around the ambient sounds of the gardens, we supplied a robust audio solution, which provided evenly distributed coverage regardless of where the audience were seated.”
Amesbury adds: “We were so impressed with the quality of the solution and service delivered by WL. The SGM G-spots were a real powerhouse fixture for the show, providing gobos and heightening most of the dramatic moments. This was the first time I've designed a show with LED Profiles outdoors and the Chauvet E-910FC has been rock solid. 24 of them provide a heap of punch, even from 25m away. This show would normally have 36 VNSP parcans FOH, however using the IP rated profiles, we have saved on dimmers and also cut maintenance time by nearly 60 per cent."
21st September 2021
MLA Folds Back the Years at Rewind Festival
UK – Although this year Rewind Scotland had to be cancelled, the events at Capesthorne Hall, Macclesfield (Rewind North) and Temple Island Meadows, outside Henley (Rewind South) went ahead within a month of each other. The event is now back under the management of David Heartfield, whose leisure group Impresario Festivals had previously sold the brand to radio group Global back in 2017.
The events’ long-term sound suppliers, Capital Sound was in action at both sites, and with the exception of an additional delay tower at Rewind South, fielded identical Martin Audio MLA PA rigs. Once again, they worked alongside production manager Keith Morris, of Riverside Productions, as they have on many previous occasions.
Set on the banks of the Thames, the 40,000 capacity Rewind South featured an all-star line-up of 80s pop icons, with Jimmy Somerville’s Big Band-tastic Boogie and Wet Wet Wet headlining.
Other artists performing include Marc Almond, Bananarama, Billy Ocean, Hue & Cry, The Christians, Cutting Crew, Go West and Katrina. Roland Gift, Limahl, Pete Wylie, Soul II Soul, Aswad, Nik Kershaw, Grandmaster Flash and John Parr.
Capital fielded a highly experienced technical team, with Mike ‘Bunny’ Warren as FOH engineer and supervisor, mixing the largest section of the show, with Toby Donovan as system technician.
The site itself is flat and open, fanning out at the rear, where an arc of three delay towers at the 65-metre point provided coverage.
For the main PA Capital fielded 15 MLA array elements above a single MLD downfill box on each side, with eight MLA Compact enclosures, at stage left and right, for outfills. For front fills they provided an additional 12 WPS (Wavefront Precision) line array elements.
Handling the low-end frequencies were 19 MLX subwoofers in broadside cardioid, set in a castellated pattern across the front. This provided a lot more controllability, according to Capital project manager, Martin Connolly. “It removes the amount of sub energy bleeding back onto the stage, which is particularly off-putting for those wearing in-ears.”
Finally, audiences watching near the back behind the mix tower, were treated to perfect audio from the delay arc, each tower comprising five further MLA and a single MLD downfill.
According to Capital, the Martin Audio rig proved popular with the guest engineers. One in particular was Aswad’s FOH man, Chris Cowlin. “As usual the MLA at Rewind South was simply one of the clearest systems I have ever worked on,” he enthused, “seemingly infinite headroom for the show and so much sub, while the highs and mids just effortlessly responded and brought the mix to the forefront.
“The coverage of the system was seamless, and I didn’t have to apply any system EQ, so whoever set this system up is definitely at the top of their game. I don’t get to mix on MLA too many times in a year but when I do, it’s always an easy and very fulfilling gig.”
20th September 2021
Mason Felps Gives Rock the South Bold Looks with Chauvet Professional
USA – Homecomings are made all the more moving by music, especially when you’re the one lighting the songs, and even more so when you’re returning to do what you love after a long, hard lockdown. Even rain can’t dampen such a moment. Just ask Mason Felps.
About ten years ago, the Cullman native got the chance to work his first major festival when he joined the crew at Rock The South. This August, he returned to his northern Alabama hometown as the festival’s production manager and lighting designer.
For Felps, who earlier this summer toured with Alan Jackson, the two-day festival brought back great memories. “Rock The South has a special place in my heart,” he said. “Our crew powered through a monsoon to put on this show. Yet, despite the storms, we wanted to do our best to make this festival special for the bands and the fans.”
Helping Felps and the production team make good on this goal was an impressive lighting rig supplied by Bandit Lites that feature 32 Chauvet Professional Rogue R2X Wash fixtures.
“We had a 60’ by 40’ stage with a steel roof,” said Felps. “Its height gave us a nice trim to work with to create some bold vertical looks that went along well with our video wall, while its width allowed us to space things out to make the show feel even bigger.”
Taking advantage of his wide stage, Felps was able to spread his Rogue R2X Wash fixtures on either of the performing artists, a group that included Luke Combs, Miranda Lambert, Nelly, Ashley McBryde and The Marshal Tucker Band.
This arrangement allowed him to surround the artists in light, enveloping them in a glow that stood up well against the giant video wall, while also pulling attention to the centre of the stage. Sometimes that glow was created with white light, while at others it was done in various colours.
At other points in the show, the high output Rogue R2X Washes were directed out at the audience to present stunning visual patterns. The fixtures’ wide zoom range of 7.3° to 64.3° allowed Felps and board operator Chris Noll from the Bandit Lites to vary the areas that they covered in light.
Commenting on the versatility of his Rogue fixtures, Felps noted: “They’re true workhorses. Their brightness really helped make the rig pop at night, and gave us great eye candy in the day. The reliability of our rig and the great work of our crew – Chris Noll, Cody Cheetham, and John Sumitra, along with Shawn Lear our Bandit account rep – made this homecoming as great as I ever thought it would be.”
20th September 2021
Martin Dudley and ChamSys Captivate at Heaven 17 Roundhouse Show
UK – Art may aspire to the sublime, but it must first work its way through reality. Martin Dudley was reminded of this truism in early September when he and collaborator Malcolm Garrett created the light show for Heaven 17’s shows at the City Hall in the band’s home town of Sheffield and the iconic Roundhouse in London.
Having worked with Heaven 17 for five years, Dudley was eager to light these very special shows, which would have the band perform in full the two albums that Heaven 17 founder Martyn Ware wrote and recorded with the Human League. He also appreciated how their evocative sound lent itself to rich imagery. Then there was also the opportunity to play his lights off against the stunning video images created by Garrett, who was responsible for the original sleeve artwork for the two albums in 1979 and 1980, as well as many other iconic LP sleeves of the era.
However, before he could delve into this bit of heaven, he had to deal with the very earthly matter of time pressure. “I had been listening to the two Human League albums that made up this show for some time, but there was no time or budget for extensive pre-programming,” said Dudley, owner of Martin’s Lights. “We were lucky to have about a day and a half to set up the screens and lights in rehearsals immediately before first of the two shows. This was the first time I had seen the visuals, so I sat down with Malcolm to select colour palettes for each of the 24 songs in the show.”
Helping Dudley meet this time-sensitive challenge was his ChamSys MagicQ MQ80. “I had pre-patched the fairly extensive Roundhouse lighting rig into the MQ80 already, so on the show day at that venue I just had to plug it in and make sure it worked,” he said. “One of the really nice advantages of ChamSys products is their sheer speed of programming. If you know what you want to see, you can push on through it very quickly. In the end, I got about half the show programmed on rehearsal day one, and then the rest on day two.”
To the appreciative fans, the video and light show supporting Heaven 17 looked anything but rushed. Flowing seamlessly with the band’s performance, the show was built around four prominent video panels that seemed to float over the stage each of them referencing artwork from the Human League’s debut album 'Reproduction'.
“The video panels were the most important visual aspect of the show,” said Dudley. “Everything about the lighting was designed to work with and around them.”
Toward this end, Dudley relied on changes in intensity levels (both subtle and stark), provocative light angles, and absorbing colours to create a compelling look on stage throughout the 24-song set. He credits his MQ80 console with helping him achieve these impressive results.
“A good thing about the MQ80 is its user-friendly intensity window,” said Dudley. “I could change settings quickly and easily with the cursor. The console also made it very easy to play with different color FXs. As always, I also used a ChamSys Extra Wing for individual front light specials on each member of the band, as well as for things like audience blinders, haze, and walk-in looks. The really nice thing about ChamSys in general is that it’s so intuitive, it makes it easier for you to focus on the show.”
Using his console, Dudley created visuals that wrapped themselves around the character of each song, from the stark, sparsely coloured brooding looks he produced for Heaven 17’s first (1981) hit 'Fascist Groove Thang,' to his own favourite 'Dreams Of Leaving', where delicate lighting matched the desert colours of the floating screens without detracting from their emotional impact.
Working in harmony with the arresting video images, his lighting gave the stage an “other worldly look.” But, as if so often true of such moving spectres, it began with a real process; in this case that of a talented LD working with a supportive console.
17th September 2021
Mathieu Cabanes discovers the capabilities of Robert Juliat’s LED Arthur followspot at the Domaine d'O
France – Lighting designer Mathieu Cabanes discovered the new possibilities offered by Robert Juliat's latest 800W LED followspot, Arthur, on Les Folies Broadway, a large symphonic show performed this summer at the Domaine D'O in Montpellier.
"I use Robert Juliat followspots very often. I particularly appreciate the artistic touch that a followspot can bring to a live show,” says Mathieu Cabanes. “New products and technologies are offered to us every year and I like to study these and their functions and make sure I use the right tool for each application.
"I first used LED followspots on a Robert Wilson show in Indonesia, I La Galigo. They were Japanese models and the result was quite disappointing because the power was supposed to match a Robert Juliat Cyrano followspot, but in fact they were weaker than a Robert Juliat 710 profile with iris. The colour also did not offer us great CRI possibilities for such a colourful show. After this first experimentation, I decided to wait for a great development from Robert Juliat.
"On the advice of my friend Frédéric 'Aldo' Fayard, lighting designer at Concept K, and with the help of Ludwig Lepage, Robert Juliat’s product manager, I discovered the Arthur 800W LED followspot and the SpotMe artist tracking device.” Cabanes then decided to use the Arthur followspot during a symphonic show with 72 musicians and two renowned soloists in the 1,800-seat amphitheatre of Domaine d'O in Montpellier.
"I compared the Arthur to an HMI followspot," he says, "and I was really surprised by this little jewel of technology. Arthur doesn't necessarily replace all of the HMI followspots, but it complements them by offering a large number of functions that add brushstrokes to our paint palette. The precision and finesse of this followspot combined with a good followspot operator gives powerful, high quality results.
"The base white LED source with its 90 CRI is beautiful! The combination of colour gels can quickly become complex when used on an LED source, but with Arthur, the colour matches are very smooth and consistent. I used a range of CTO/CTB, Lavender and Blue. The CTO built into the fixture was still the best solution my assistant, Gaspard Juan, made for me for warm colours."
Cabanes also liked the different dimming modes of this model. "Quite often, a pick up can be very abrupt with an HMI followspot and I tend to specify fades in two seconds throughout the show, even if the performer enters abruptly. Arthur’s dimming modes bring a nice fluidity to the user." Cabanes also liked the fact that the lack of heat from Arthur’s LED source makes operating the followspot a much more comfortable experience for the operator. As for the new DMX features, they give the console operator the ability to limit the intensity of the fixture, depending on the colour and visual balance required on stage.
"This followspot gives us a lot of new possibilities combined with high power and a nice base colour. Arthur is also very comfortable for the user and allows the operator to concentrate on refining their fluidity and precision," concludes Cabanes.
photos: Mathieu Cabanes
17th September 2021
Swedish Sound Engineers Go on Orchestral Manoeuvres with dLive and Prime Preamps
Sweden – Swedish composer, arranger and conductor Hans Ek has carved out a unique niche in Scandinavian music, operating at the intersection where classical meets jazz, pop, electronica and folk music.
Bringing Ek’s ambitious arrangements to life is no mean feat, especially as most performances involve a symphony orchestra, multiple vocalists, a three to five piece band and, on occasion, a choir, so engineers Peter Fredriksson (MON) from PFL Nordic AB and Hans Norin (FOH) from Taking Care of Audio AB work closely with Ek to handle the technically demanding live shows throughout Scandinavia. “We tour around and take our gear to the top-class orchestras here in the Nordics, and we use local PA on-site” explains Fredriksson. “Over the years we have built up a very neat and specialised dLive setup for projects like this.”
At the heart of the touring rig is a pair of lightweight dLive CTi1500 control surfaces, carefully designed to come in under the critical 23kg airline weight limit when flightcased, partnered with a pair of compact 128-channel / 64-bus DM0 MixRacks. The digital split between systems is handled via Allen & Heath’s proprietary gigaACE protocol, a plug-and-play solution offering ultra-low 52μs latency, with MADI and Waves cards installed for virtual soundcheck and external recording.
With so many channels devoted to vocals and classical instruments, where reproducing every nuance across a wide dynamic range is critical, the duo were naturally intrigued by Allen & Heath’s PRIME input and output technology, an ultra-linear circuit design with leading-edge 32-bit/96kHz converters and extended dynamic range. “When the PRIME preamp modules were released, we had some in for testing” Fredriksson says. “We instantly realised that this would be a real game-changer, especially with high channel counts.”
After the successful evaluation, facilitated by Swedish A&H distributor Benum, PFL Nordic AB and Taking Care of Audio AB invested in fourteen PRIME input cards and two PRIME output cards for their four DX32 modular expanders, delivering a total of 112 PRIME input channels and 16 PRIME output channels for the system. In addition to the PRIME outputs, four portable DX012 output expanders are deployed with a mixture of AES and analogue outputs feeding IEMs and stage monitors for Ek and the multitude of performers.
“I added the ability, via an IP6 remote controller connected to the MON system, for the conductor [Ek] to mix his own monitors with two separate mixes, one for wedges and one for in-ears,” adds Fredriksson. “Using the scene recall filter functions to change between two scenes, he can easily switch between the mixes with one button press, and I can take control of his mix if required.”
However, it is the sound quality of the system that has made the biggest impression on Fredriksson. “Having switched over to PRIME on over 100 channels, all I can say is wow!” he smiles. “There’s so much clarity and resolution, the mix almost handles itself.”
17th September 2021
Proteus Maximus finding a role in film production
USA – Indoor and outdoor film and television production is discovering the many benefits that a powerful, fully automated IP65 LED luminaire can provide on a set. Just ask lighting designer/programmer Jeff Pardee, who has been using the Proteus Maximus from Elation Professional on several recent projects.
The Proteus Maximus – a 50,000-lumen LED moving head that operates as a profile, beam or wash light – is routinely used to light some of the world’s largest outdoor shows and events. Its 950W White LED engine delivers a level of brightness that can reach across great distances, an attribute Pardee finds useful on sets where complex camera work requires supporting equipment to be out of sight.
Pardee, a former concert lighting designer who moved into film and broadcast lighting several years ago, sought a moving head he could place at a distance while maintaining intensity, even when using colour or breakup patterns. “When you film, in order to stay out of camera shot you have to put things where they cannot be seen, which means placing lighting far away. I needed a fixture with punch, something with colour that I could use for hard edge or breakup patterns but do it from afar.”
While working on a film project that required the 4th Street Bridge in LA to be illuminated from across a large construction site, Pardee needed a powerful fixture that could project from hundreds of yards away. He considered several options, including Proteus Maximus, and was able to borrow a unit from a colleague at a nearby project to test. At midday, in order to demonstrate its brightness for the others on set, he was able to light a nearby building from across a freeway. “It was one o’clock in the afternoon, broad daylight, and you could easily see the aperture on the building,” he relates. “That convinced everyone. Imagine if it was 2am at the same distance!”
That was his first experience with the fixture, which he ended up using on the project from condors in groupings of three. “They worked phenomenally. The condors we had the fixtures in were from two-tenths of a mile to half a mile away from the bridge and it was perfectly lit with no shadows and no variance in output,” he said. “In fact, we ended up running them at only 65% because they were too bright.” Part of that same project required lighting an outdoor basketball court as part of a continuous shot scene. “We used the Maximus specifically for that because he could have them out of the shot, at the other end of the block on fully raised condors, but we still got great light levels.”
Pardee says that when they evaluate lighting they also look for fixtures they can run on a lower amount of power. On the 4th Street Bridge and downtown park project, they ran the Maximus units using a small 6000W generator located half a mile away. “That same setup with discharge fixtures would have required a much bigger generator and networking system. To me it’s astonishing that the Maximus can do what it does, project so bright and so far, at the power draw it has.”
The project proved a good introduction to the LED luminaire for Pardee and gave him the chance to tinker with the lights, test them in various colours, breakup patterns, prisms, etc. to see if they held their brightness. “That was the definitive moment for me,” he said. “I knew if I ever had a need for this type of fixture again, these are what I would go with.”
The need for a powerful LED moving head has come up frequently for the designer who says he has used the Maximus on production sets a dozen times to date. A recent example is Billie Eilish’s Prime Day Show musical special that aired 17th June on Prime Video. The show fused music and storytelling as the Grammy-winning singer performed amid an immersive Parisian set (actually filmed on the Universal backlot). Director of photography for the Prime Day shoot was Christopher Ripley, gaffer was Mathias Peralta.
Pardee turned to the waterproof Maximus to fulfil a number of roles on the production. “We used them to punch through a window to give a nice sunrise effect while it was raining for example. We drenched them in water for three days and didn’t have any problems.” Pardee accessed the Maximus’s full-spectrum color mixing system with variable CTO to create the reds, ambers and daylight colour required to mimic a sunrise. Then for a night scene, he painted with purples, reds and blues to create a nighttime Paris look. “I used them as backlighting as well or for hard-edge lighting on set buildings to give a crisp look working together with a soft-edge fixture that we matched colour temperature with to get a nice even look.”
The Maximus fixtures worked from two condor positions on the musical special, two fixtures on each condor shooting the building set from 300-400 feet away from the camera. Pardee then turned the fixtures around 180 degrees to shoot in the opposite direction, up the street and onto buildings in a big breakup pattern, a throw that was closer to 500 feet. “You just can’t get that punch from that distance from anything else,” he concludes. “To have those colours and effects and with that power, they’ve just been ideal.”
17th September 2021
BH Sound & Lighting and Chauvet Professional Support Eclectic Acts at Outcider Festival
UK – With all due respect to ale, if there is one drink that represents England almost as much as tea, it’s cider (hard cider to Americans). Britain leads the world in the production and consumption of cider. Almost six out of ten apples grown in the country every year are used to produce the tasty brew.
There are a number of good reasons for that. Aside from its own merits as a beverage, cider is often at the heart of good time gatherings. This was plain to see at the seventh annual Outcider Festival, a summer weekend event in England’s West Country that brought together an eclectic blend of over 30 different bands, artisans, food purveyors, and a generous selection of locally brewed scrumpy.
Although the main stage setting was decidedly rustic (the festival took place on a farm), the lighting kit supporting the high-energy performances was strictly up-to-date, featuring Chauvet Professional LED fixtures supplied by BH Sound & Lighting Hire.
James Marshall of BH joined with Finlay Wort in designing the lighting kit. Their focus in this collaboration was on versatility, as they knew they’d have to support an extraordinarily diverse mix of acts from polka punk legends The Dreadnoughts and ska bands, to Sunday morning “cider-obics” and rock sing-alongs.
“Fixture positioning, and keeping plenty of options open on the console were the keys,” said Marshall, who has been lighting the festival since its inception in 2014. “As the LD, I wanted to give myself loads of choices through the use of groups, palettes and effects.”
Marshall, who busked the wide variety of acts using his ChamSys MagicQ MQ70 console, described the process of running the boards during the festival: “You can never have too many options. You just keep programming, adding new looks and updating existing ones between bands to ensure each band has a fresh look, but most importantly, you have to follow the music and style.”
Toward this end, Marshall split his eight Rogue R2 Wash fixtures into two groups to create more coverage options. “We had R2 Washes above and at the back of the stage for use as effect lighting,” he said. “One way we gave ourselves more versatility was to utilise the zones and inbuilt programs in the R2s for a wide array of eye candy effects throughout the weekend.
“Focusing the rear R2 Washes down and the top R2 Washes up was really effective in creating a tunnel of light effect, with the band appearing at the end of it,” continued Marshall. “From any angle, this was really effective in immersing the audience in a deep and intimate experience with the performers on stage.”
Also in the festival kit were 16 COLORdash Par-Quad7 and four Strike 4 fixtures. “The Quad 7s were grouped close together in pairs at various positions and used as effects lights to almost mimic 2-cell blinders, but with color, random chases and strobing effects,” said Marshall. “This opened options for creating widely different moods on stage depending on the band.”
As for the Strike 4 units, they were placed behind the band and above the stage. From these positions, they filled a variety of rolls, serving as blinders and strobes in addition to being used to silhouette performers.
Even with its versatile LED lighting system, however, the performance area still retained its bucolic charm. “This is a working farm and the stage is actually a permanent feature of the barn,” said Marshall. “It’s used for sheep shearing when there aren’t bands gracing it during the festival.”
Marshall noted that the four chutes on the stage that lead down to sheep enclosures had to be boarded up during the festival “to ensure none of the band members accidentally disappeared mid-solo.” Though given the effectiveness of the festival’s lighting system, they certainly would have had an easy time seeing their way back up.
16th September 2021
Rock the South Parties with Bandit Lites
USA – Rock the South lived up to its name as the “biggest party in the South,” even with weather delays. Bandit Lites provided the lighting system for the two-day festival, which was produced by 46 Entertainment and designed by Mason Felps.
Bandit Lites outfitted the main stage where Miranda Lambert, The Marshall Tucker Band, Nelly, Luke Combs, Jordan Davis and Ingrid Andress performed with nearly two hundred fixtures, including Chauvet Rogue R2X Washes, Claypaky Sharpys, Elation Paladin IP 65, Showline Nitro 510C and VL 3000 Spots.
For lighting designer Mason Felps, the show was a return home in more ways than one, as he grew up in Cullman and the 2013 Rock the South festival was his first step into the live event industry.
“All I knew is that I wanted to be in the industry,” Felps reflected. “Thankfully, through this festival I met some really awesome people, and I was able to grow into the position I am in now. Being able to come home and design and production manage the festival really meant a lot to me.”
Attendance averaged at about 30,000 people a night, and while the weather meant things got a little muddy, the festival shared, “The mud will wash off. The memories will last a lifetime!”
Bandit’s crew, comprised of Chris Noll, Cody Cheatham and John Sumitra, worked to make sure that the lighting delivered.
“Wanted to give a huge shout-out to all of our vendors and artist crew that powered through the monsoons and mud to pull off this show,” wrote Felps. “We could not have done it without you all.”
“I know that when given the opportunity to work with 46 Entertainment, we are going to be met with their passion and experience,” said Bandit client representative Shawn Lear. “Mason’s enthusiasm for gathering a team for Rock the South goes beyond just putting a group of vendors together for a show. From day one, he detailed his bird’s eye view for the festival, encouraging the timeline, logistics, personnel, and power. It was an incredible success and one we are immensely proud to have been a part of.”
“Every time we do a show with Bandit, we can expect the same excellent level of service,” finished Felps. “And this one was no different. The whole Bandit team did a phenomenal job braving the weather with us. There were certainly some challenges, but the Bandits took them and ran with it.”
16th September 2021
Vibrant Fusion Stick FS20s bring Italy’s Casa Italia to life in Tokyo
Japan – The hospitality headquarters for Italy's Olympic team and its partners was based at The Kihinkan – Takanawa Manor House during Tokyo 2020. This wonderful art nouveau building in the Minato district was selected by The Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) after inspecting 60 different locations.
The decision to choose the building, which dates back to the start of the last century and is characterised by its Liberty-style architecture, was vindicated by the impressive way in which lighting designer Massimo Pascucci colour-washed the exterior.
Tasked by CONI to produce this dramatic façade, he chose 22 of GLP’s Fusion Stick FS20 battens, a product with which he is well familiar and enjoys using. These were supplied by rental company, Musical Box Rent.
The power and versatility of the FS20 is starting to become legendary. Each batten contains 20 x 15W RGBW LEDs, offering a variety of different beam angles with their beam shaping front filters. Offering seamless connection and the advanced optics delivering consistent colour, the fanless and IP-rated design makes it silent and ideal for outdoor use.
The blocks of vibrant static colour emitted by the Fusion FS20 were controlled by an MA Lighting grandMA console, programmed by Daniel Davino. The IP65-rated fixtures were set discreetly into trays in the footwells of the building.
A special thanks goes from Massimo Pascucci to the CONI marketing director, Dr. Diego Nepi Molineris, for his belief in the project.
Such an inviting venue played its part in ensuring that Italy’s Olympic team were able to enjoy its best Olympics ever, taking home a record medal haul.
photos: Massimo Pascucci
16th September 2021
Scott Cooper and ASG Audio Visual Create Ironhide Ranger Video with Chauvet Professional
UK – The venerable and rugged Ford Ranger has been used in virtually every conceivable application since it first appeared in 1983, especially when modified into the more muscular “Ironhide” variety. Now it can add another item to its list of incarnations: DJ Stand.
Capitalising on the growing popularity of this iconic American vehicle in the UK (its sales there have increased a whopping 76 per cent between 2015 and 2020), Welch performer DJ Weekesey joined forces with ASG Audio Visual to shoot a promotional video from the back of a brawny, black modified Ranger Ironhide.
Laying down the signature mixes that have made him one of the region’s top club artists, Weekesey put on a dynamic four-minute show, using the truck itself as a stand. “It was a 4.5-ton DJ booth,” said ASG’s director Scott Cooper. “The video not only served to highlight Weekesey’s talent, it also drew on the image of the Ironhide to set a really captivating, tone.”
Another thing the video did was showcase the capability of ASG to create powerful images with light and atmospherics using Chauvet Professional fixtures. “We worked some nice looks with our WELL Fit uplighters and our foggers,” said Cooper. “Between the colours and the smoke we created the right kind of attitude.”
Key to setting this mood was the rich red glow from the 14 WELL Fit fixtures used in the shoot. Playing off against the vehicle’s dark colour it endowed the video with a deep, underground vibe. The lighter red hues that covered the area surrounding the truck then added a sense of passion.
“We looked at a variety of different colours, but it became clear that red really suited the kind of video we were going for,” said Cooper. “The shade of red that we got from the WELL Fit was spot on for this project.”
Cooper and his team positioned the battery operated RGBA WELL Fit units throughout the video’s outdoor set. A dozen of the uplights were placed around the truck, positioned to highlight its distinctive features.
“An Ironside vehicle itself presents a powerful visual image,” said Cooper. “So many things about it make it stand out, so we accented those features, including the custom wheels and grille work.”
The two remaining WELL Fit fixtures were placed inside the cabin of the vehicle, their intense red light giving it an eerie glow that added an aura of mystery to the production. While the fixtures radiated brightly inside the truck, Weekesey delivered a spirited performance from its rear cargo area, using the vehicle’s roof as an improvised DJ stand.
Fans of the Ranger, often call it a “dream machine” because of all the possibilities it offers. On this warm summer’s evening in Wales, a DJ and a lighting company added another one to the list.
15th September 2021
FOH Engineer David Loy Relies on RME During Packed Summer of Country Festivals
USA – After a nearly year-and-a-half break from touring and live performances, David Loy, FOH engineer for country superstar Kane Brown, was ready to hit the road this summer with a packed schedule of country festivals, concerts and state fairs. And with a rigorous schedule based almost solely around outdoor shows, Loy knew he needed an interface and converter that could not only withstand the rigours of touring life but also unpredictable weather conditions. After using a Ferrofish A32 converter on the road for nearly two years and, according to Loy, “beating the life out of it with no issues,” he turned to RME’s MADIface XT interface and the M-32 DA analogue converter to start out the summer touring season this past May.
“When you headline country shows and country festivals, you deal with a lot of unknowns, such as gear rattling around in trucks and unexpected weather conditions,” Loy said. “Basically, a lot of things you wouldn’t want to put electronics through. I needed something that could ride on a truck and not break, but also deal with the rain and dust. I needed something durable. And RME has been that for me. The RME MADIface XT and M-32 have handled it all. Every time I turned them on, they were good to go.”
A self-proclaimed 'MIDI nerd', in addition to requiring a high channel count at a high sample rate (he’s currently recording 76 channels at 96kHz every show) Loy also needed MIDI capabilities.
“I needed to integrate and route MIDI I/O in and out of my console,” he explained. “I love MIDI, and all it enables me to do, so now I’m recording LTC timecode through the MADIface XT, converting it to MTC, and then outputting that to my console via the MIDI stream. This way, I can fire my snapshots using timecode values for more accurate programming. Other engineers might have to get another laptop or interface for this, but all I need is one app connected to my computer and it runs in the background. It allows me to program the show even more creatively.”
Loy tracks into his DAW via the MADIface XT allowing him to have the ability to do a virtual playback of a captured soundcheck or show at FOH.
“By doing this, Kane and the band can listen at FOH with me, and I can show them certain clips of the recorded rehearsal or soundcheck,” Loy said. “This allows me to accurately portray how it sounds at FOH for them.”
“Every time I hit record on the MADIface XT, it never misses a beat,” he continued. “The conversion is super clean, and honestly, it’s such a relief knowing that it will work every time.”
Loy’s entire playback system is RME, adding that he uses an ADI-4 DD ADAT AES converter for vocal processing.
“In our tracks playback world, there are four different RME devices that are clocking and talking together,” he explained. “Using the MADIface XT for redundant playback has been amazing, because our tracks used to be analogue, so we were converting twice by the time audio got to the consoles. By using a MADIface XT, I’ve noticed a shift in the ends and beginnings of the audio spectrum. Sometimes poor conversions can cause the higher ends (15kHz-20kHz) and lower ends (20Hz-40Hz) of the audio spectrum to sound weak, but there’s none of that with the MADIface XT. I’m literally hearing the full spectrum. When there’s a sub-hit, I feel it go all the way down. It really allows us to get even more creative sonically.”
Ahead of a live show, when tuning the venue’s PAs, Loy mentioned he has begun playing his tuning music via AES through the MADIface XT.
“There’s no conversion, therefore I know the song I’m listening to through the PA is properly reproduced and of the right quality.”
Overall, Loy said the MADIface XT has been a game-changer and the small form factor only adds to its long list of benefits.
“I needed an interface that did a ton of stuff in a small form factor, and I was genuinely shocked when I started using the MADIface XT. It allows me to continue archiving high channel counts and now that I’m using the MIDI integration, it allows me to keep my snapshots on the grid, all at 96kHz. And best of all, it fits in my work box.”
15th September 2021
Ash Soan Uses Neve 88RLB Preamps to Capture the Sound of an Iconic Neve Desk
UK – Neve’s classic 88RS console weighs around two tons and certainly doesn’t fit into most project studios, including the one owned by internationally acclaimed drummer Ash Soan. But when Ash wanted to capture the sound of this iconic desk on his recordings, he found a simple solution in the shape of two Neve 88RLB mono mic preamps.
Ash, who has toured and recorded with some of the biggest names in the music industry, has installed the 88RLB units into a rack that already included four Neve 1073LB mic preamps, which he bought over ten years ago.
“My studio is mainly used for drum recording and I have a selection of UA interfaces, with Neve preamps for the main kit,” he explains. “I use 1073s for my kick, snare and hats but I wanted the 88RLB for my overheads. They fit perfectly together and work great, and I’m very happy with the results I’m achieving.”
Currently a member of Trevor Horn’s band, The Producers (along with Steve Lipson and Lol Crème), Ash’s impressive 30-plus year career has resulted in 58 Top Ten albums, 29 No. 1 albums and ten No.1 singles for artists such as Cher, Seal, Robbie Williams, Billy Idol, Adele, Enrique Iglesias, Dionne Warwick and Rumer, James Morrison, Cee Lo, Celine Dion and Ronan Keating.
A music graduate from Salford University and a former student at Tech Music School, Ash Soan got his first big break as a drummer in 1994 when he joined the band Del Amitri. He toured and recorded with Del Amitri until 1997, then subsequently played with Faithless and Squeeze. He also played at the 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony with Mike Oldfield and was the house drummer on the television show The Voice for seven years. His film work is also extensive and incudes playing on the Terminator Genisys and Mission Impossible Fall Out soundtracks for composer Lorne Balfe and on the Kung Fu Panda 3 and The Lion King 2019 soundtracks for Hans Zimmer.
As someone who operates at the top of the recording profession, Ash has worked in many of the world’s best recording studios and has often enjoyed the sound of high quality analogue Neve consoles such as the 88RS. It is this exposure to the best that inspired him to invest in Neve 88RLS units for his own studio.
“I was at British Grove recently with Hans Zimmer and Stephen Lipson and I loved the Neve 88R console there,” he explains. “Installing 88RLB units is a very cost effective, convenient and accessible way of getting that sound into a small studio like mine.”
Based in Norfolk, Ash’s studio was originally set up as a practise space and somewhere to store his equipment, but while working on The Voice he began hosting sessions for clients such as Alicia Keys and Dua Lipa, so he decided it was time to focus more attention on the room.
“I’ve since used the studio to record for Seal, Cher, James Morrison, Rod Stewart, Dua Lipa, Alicia Keys, Julian Lennon, Hans Zimmer, Sam Smith and Ed Sheehan,” he says. “It tends to be primarily pop and film sessions and I mainly use Pro Tools.”
Ash’s new Neve’s 88RLB units are in the 500 Series format and use exactly the same technology as the preamps in an 88R console. However, they also come with useful extra features such as a sweepable high pass filter, intelligent phantom power control, a DI input and a REGenerate function that makes is easy to add analogue warmth to individual sources, or even entire mixes.
“I just love the colour from the preamps on my drums,” he says. “I’ve had that sound many times in the past when I’ve recorded in large studios, but owning my own preamps is the perfect way to add that sound to the recordings I am making now.”
15th September 2021
Justin Kitchenman turns to Elation favourites for Luke Bryan “Proud To Be Right Here” tour
USA – Justin Kitchenman of Align Design Group is using some favourite Elation lights on five-time Entertainer of the Year Luke Bryan’s “Proud To Be Right Here Tour” scheduled through October 16 with 35+ shows. The country music superstar is touring in support of his BORN HERE LIVE HERE DIE HERE album, which includes his recent smash single “Waves.” The song is enjoying its second week at the top of the country charts and brings Luke’s career #1 tally to 27. “Waves” is also the fifth consecutive #1 single off the project. In addition to the tour, fans can also see Luke’s original five-part 'docuseries' Luke Bryan: My Dirt Road Diary, on IMDb TV, Amazon’s premium free streaming service out now.
Kitchenman had just gotten the Cole Swindell "Down To Earth" tour design out the door when Covid hit in 2020, then spent a year working on livestreams and other smaller projects. When he got the call this past April that long-time client Luke Bryan was planning a 2021 tour, he was understandably ecstatic. The LD, who has been designing for Bryan for a decade, had a design in place from last summer’s cancelled tour, a show he thought he’d never see realised. When the decision was made to pick up from where they left off in 2020, however, the design was back on the table. “I had come to terms last summer that that design was dead,” he said, “so I was thrilled when it was resurrected for this year’s tour.”
According to Kitchenman, the tour came together extremely quickly with a short two weeks between final tour approval and rehearsals in Nashville in June. “That’s when the ACL 360i fixtures came into play,” he stated. “We know what we can do with them and know they are reliable. They were also available so we could get out quickly and do shows.” The “Proud To Be Right Here” tour kicked off July 8th in Syracuse, New York, and plays mostly outdoor amphitheatres. “It was very much a team effort to pull it off in time,” Kitchenman said.
The design features automated lighting pods full of Elation ACL 360i fixtures, the designer’s sixth year using the compact single-beam RGBW moving effects. The pods fill the space in concentrated beams of colour and can be manoeuvred to create a wide variety of looks. “Every year we break them out and they’re reliable. They just look awesome when we use so many of them.” Kitchenman, who is out with the tour as lighting director and also serves as production designer, uses 72 ACL 360is along with 8 DTW Blinder 700 IP 4-lites and 14 DTW Blinder 350 IP 2-lites.
“I’ve come to value the ACL 360i’s small size. You can stick them anywhere in the rig for an old school ACL look to big pods of light,” the designer said, and adds that they are also low power and don’t take up much data. Overhead, four pod trusses house 12 units each with additional units scattered throughout the floor. The pods are used in all sorts of configurations, for example lighting only certain fixtures or running a variety of chases. The pods also complement well a large backdrop LED wall. Nashville-based production provider Elite Multimedia Productions has worked with Luke Bryan from the start of his career and is supplying the lighting and LED video technology for the run.
Elation blinders have been a staple of Kitchenman’s Luke Bryan designs for years. This year he uses eight DTW Blinder 700 IP and 14 DTW Blinder 350 IP – four and two 175W warm white/amber COB LEDs respectively – for audience lighting. Additional blinders are located throughout the rig, which he often uses as a complementary twinkle effect. “The DTW’s have the amber chip in them which gives a more natural look, closer to a tungsten lamp,” he stated. “The IP65 protection is also key as we do a lot of shows where they are exposed to the weather on the downstage truss.”
The “Proud To Be Right Here” tour is selling well and Kitchenman says he is extremely grateful for every week they are able to be out on the road. “We’re on the forefront in this new climate, proving that it can be done and can be done faithfully. The most important thing is to do shows safely and responsibly so we use an abundance of caution and take people’s well-being very seriously.”
That gratitude extends to the rest of the crew as well. He comments that once they got into the groove, it felt like they had never taken a break. “Everyone was excited to jump back in and we got everybody’s best effort and full devotion. No one was burned out; there’s been no gig fatigue. It’s worked out really well. I’m proud of this production and we’ve had great feedback from audiences, and Luke and his team as well.”
photos: Todd Kaplan
14th September 2021
Chichester Festival Theatre triumphs with South Pacific and EM Acoustics
UK - After many months of forced closure due to COVID restrictions, the Chichester Festival Theatre (CFT) has burst back onto the scene with Daniel Evans’s glorious revival of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, South Pacific. “Chichester is back with a bang!” says one critic, echoing the sentiments of most, whilst the Guardian dubbed it “A roof-raising triumph.” CFT is indeed back, and with a state-of-the-art EM Acoustics sound system to boot.
CFT is one of the UK’s leading producing theatres, regularly selling out the 1,300-seat auditorium and transferring plays and musicals into London’s West End. The Grade II listed venue recently underwent an extensive renovation project followed by by a comprehensive audio upgrade to an EM Acoustics sound system in 2019. This has since been upgraded again to feature EM Acoustics’ flagship award-winning R10 loudspeaker and the medium format HALO-B line array system.
“It was all a bit piecemeal following the renovation, but having replaced our existing outer delay line with EM Acoustics EMS-61s and added EMS-51 front fills, we wanted to update the rest of the house to EM to create a more cohesive system,” explains CFT head of sound, Mike Keniger. “This is always a challenge in a venue with a thrust stage but in 2019 we were able to replace the larger existing boxes for EMS-129s which made a huge difference in both coverage and quality, and was of great benefit to the mix of productions – from plays to musicals – that the theatre produces.”
Subsequently, Keniger became aware that EM were working on a radical new point source box, having seen it featured in industry press. He was able to attend a demo in 2020 and was immediately hooked. “I was extremely impressed by the sound of the R10 from the moment I heard it,” he recalls. “Both speech and full range music reproduction were handled exceptionally well. Later in the year when we were looking at the HALO-B system, we had the opportunity to trade up to R10 as well, so we jumped at the chance. We’ve now replaced our trusty EMS-129s with R10s, and although I was sad to see the EMS-129s leave the building, I am more than happy with R10 as the replacement!”
As for the HALO-B system, it replaces the HALO-C system which the theatre had on trial for two musical productions in 2019. “We really liked HALO-C and had lots of compliments on the transparent sound it produced, but we wanted the additional horizontal coverage and power handling of HALO-B. The full system was finally installed earlier this year in time for our grand reopening with South Pacific.”
The CFT system comprises a main L/R system for music and FX of eight HALO-B cabinets per side, two S-215 subs, two S-218 subs and a pair of EMS-81 proscenium sidefills. The flown vocal system is distributed around the auditorium in three distinct delay lines: speaker ring one over the stage comprises six R10s; further back speaker ring two – the first delay line – comprises a further five R10s and further back again speaker ring three – the second delay line – comprises 14 EMS-61s. Eight EMS-51s provide under-balcony delay and a further 14 EMS-51s are on front-fill duty.
“The R10 is such a capable speaker that it has further improved level of detail in the system and also integrates exceptionally well with the HALO-B,” continues Keniger. “We often blend the R10 vocal system with the output from the prosc L/R HALO-B system, so this pairing works really well for us. Coupled with the DQ amps delivering plenty of clean power and headroom and integrated with our desk and system processors via Dante, we have a world-class system that has more than proved its worth. South Pacific was the first major test, and it passed with flying colours. The reviews have been tremendous, and a significant part of that success is thanks to the superlative sound; great production is one thing, but if the audience can’t hear it, or it sounds bad, it ruins the whole show. When we get the kind of rave reviews that we did for South Pacific, I know that although we’re the ‘invisible element’ we’re responsible for part of that success.”
Keniger has a final word for EM Acoustics themselves: “Throughout the process of us experimenting with various combinations of speaker boxes and hardware, EM have been extremely supportive and generous with their time and knowledge, even during the challenging times the industry has faced over the last 18 months. It’s really helped us focus on deployment of the sound equipment in our building; consequently we’re now in a really good place with a system that is more than capable of matching and exceeding the expectations of designers and the creative teams that work in the theatre. I’m proud of what we’ve achieved together and can say with confidence that we have a system to rival the best theatre systems anywhere.”
14th September 2021
Bandit Lites Illuminates Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill 25th Anniversary Tour
USA – When Alanis Morissette released her third studio album, Jagged Little Pill, it not only resonated with an entire generation, its impact and legacy continued to swell for 25 years, inspiring other artists and launching a Tony-award winning musical. And while the Covid-19 pandemic might have paused Morissette’s celebratory tour initially, the icon has returned to the road with a lighting system designed by Nate Cromwell and supplied by Bandit Lites to give audiences all they really want.
As the Grammy-award winning Album of the Year still remains one of the best-selling albums of all time, no production detail is too small, with Easter eggs peppered throughout the show, down to wardrobe, video and lighting (look for lighting colours syncing to the colour of Alanis’s wardrobe in the music video for Ironic).
“Bandit Lites has had the pleasure of working with Mr. Nate Cromwell for many years, and I must say I feel he has outdone himself with this design and execution,” said Bandit Lites vice president Mike Golden. “The design he presented was not only ambitious, but extremely well thought through. He has a fascinating vision and is meticulous in achieving each and every look he offers.”
When designing the lighting system, Cromwell drew inspiration from a variety of sources, including previous tours, her musical, as well as iconic art, artists and even mathematical phenomena.
“The overall architecture is based on the golden spiral and how curves fit within paintings like Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper,” said Cromwell. “There is an overall ratio I designed to the overall layout of the curves themselves.”
Each level of truss represents different sacred spaces, with the top curves facing outward representing creation: great wheels that churn life into existence. Backlight for the band originates from this level, spawning the joy that music brings to life. The next level curve inward, making a sky and heaven that focus on Alanis and band. The final level of deck trusses as well as the floor lights are laid out linearly, representing humanity’s perspective on earth, transmuting the show’s feelings of suffering, loss and anger.
“I approached the technique of lighting her the way Salvador Dali painted his wife Gala,” explained Cromwell, “sometimes with a religious or sacred overtone with an over-lit saturated backlight and crystalline lighting flooding the background, then sometimes using key light that emotionally represents the feelings being conveyed distorting what we think of as normal acceptable use of surrealism of colour.”
Bandit Lites supplied nearly 250 lights including Martin MAC AirFX as floor backlight, GLP X4 Bar 20, GLP JDC-1, Ayrton Khamsins as key light, Claypaky Mythos 2, Claypaky B-EYE K20 and Elation Proteus Hybrids.
“The JDCs are great to do so many things with,” shared Cromwell, “just create an empty, industrial hit or a saturated wash look. You can paint the entire world red and start there in a song by turning on 60 JDC1s. As strobes, they are awesome; fun little spokes on the wheels.”
When it came to lighting placement, Cromwell noted that Morrisette’s previous productions always kept two similar lights next to each other and integrated that theme into his own design. A pre-lockdown viewing of her Tony award winning musical led to Cromwell learning that show’s lighting pulled inspiration from an earlier European run (designed by Justin Townsend), resulting in his use of Claypaky B-EYE K20 as an homage.
Cromwell sought a distinct linear look on the floor that was in a direct contrast to the swirling truss in the air. He placed GLP X4 20 Bars placed vertically on pipes, zoomed into five degrees, and then added to the tracking system to follow the artist and band.
“It allows me to light them in vertical shafts of lights that aren't contaminating any of the other minimal lighting I'm doing in the scene,” he explained.
Morissette’s shows always feature constant backlight on the band, but due to the number of outdoor locations encroaching on any Blacktrax calibration time during the day, Jake Tickle, Bandit Lites director of technical Services recommend the zactrack SMART.
“It is one of the most versatile tracking systems I’ve seen,” said Tickle. “Upon attending a demo, I was excited to deploy it on a tour. ACT Entertainment’s support through the learning process has been second to none. Aria Grosvenor and Doug Mechanic are always a phone call away, they gave us the tools we needed to be successful out the gate.”
“It works well for what we need and has a very good growth potential within that interface,” Cromwell said. “It calibrates a lot of lights quickly and there is no need for the ‘everyone clear the deck for a while’ with the way the Bandit crew does it.”
He pulls no punches when describing the difficulty of his carefully designed system, particularly his self-described wild goal of being able to track Morissette and the band in an amphitheatre tour with over 108 fixtures zoomed in as tight as possible with the artist running full speed across the stage.
“It is a really tough rig. You are pulling 204 large fixtures and hanging them on curved truss in an amphitheatre. It is a significant floor package as well, and after that there is tracking calibration.”
This is where Bandit’s crew, comprised of Bandit’s crew is comprised of Mark Scherer, Jeff Archibeque, Justin Wilk, Andrew Ellis and AJ Quintel shine.
“The crew I have is nothing short of amazing top to bottom,” Cromwell praised. “Every light works, every light is hung correctly, and everyone is happy. It's a joy.”
“Nate has been outstanding to work with and I would echo the same for the entire production team,” finished Golden. “The tour departed early August and immediately fell into a groove thanks to great leadership from Production Manager Don Muzquiz and Tour Manager Peter Yozell. It is a real honour to work with Alanis Morissette, her management and this entire camp.”
14th September 2021
Tom Kenny and 4Wall Call on 600+ Chauvet Professional Fixtures at Giant Central Park Show
USA – It may well go down as one of the most moving live music moments never seen. At the conclusion of the We Love NYC: The Homecoming Concert, after a bountiful feast of big looks, New York’s own Paul Simon was to take the stage to sing “The Boxer,” lit only by a soft tungsten glow.
It would have been a very special scene, notes Tom Kenny, lighting designer for the start-studded Central Park show, one that he, like some 80 million TV viewers who tuned into the concert, would have loved to have seen had the show not been called off early due to lightning strikes associated with the approaching tropical storm Henri.
In addition to cancelling Simon’s performance, the weather washed out appearances by Bruce Springsteen, Cynthia Erivo, Elvis Costello, Patti Smith, Maluma and The Killers among others. Still, there was much about the evening to celebrate. Over half the Live Nation concert, which was produced by Diversified Production Services, Done + Dusted, and Clive Davis, was completed, providing a beautiful and uplifting celebration of the city, it’s creative drive, and live music’s journey back from the pandemic.
Providing a captivating visual backdrop for the spectacular show, was Bruce Rogers’ bold set, along with a massive lighting design by Kenny that featured over 600 fixtures and 108 IP video panels from Chauvet Professional that were supplied by 4Wall Entertainment.
“As a fan, I would have loved to have seen this concert take place in its entirety, but the evening provided us with so many wonderful memories as it was,” said Kenny. “The artists who performed were wonderful as were those who were unable to appear. The Killers, who didn’t make it to the stage, did an acoustic version of Mr. Brightside in their tent after the show was cancelled.
“Then there were the people of New York who were singing songs from the show in the subway as they left,” continued Kenny. “And of course there was the park and city itself. We also had a lot of great times interacting with New Yorkers during set up. Our crew from 4Wall was absolutely wonderful. The storm just reminded us that no matter how big we are – or think we are – Mother Nature is always bigger!”
For Kenny, the storm also provided a convincing real world demonstration of the weather resistant qualities of the Chauvet Professional fixtures in his rig. “We had hundreds of fixtures and 108 F5 IP video panels and not one failed,” he said. “This was something, considering we had a rainfall of historic proportions.”
Particularly impressive to Kenny was the resolution of the 248 IP65 rated COLORado Solo Batten units that were used to light the impressive NYC lettering that spanned most of the giant stage. “This was Central Park, a very big place, and no matter where you were, you could make out the LEDs on the sign crisply and clearly,” said Kenny. “Originally, we were considering another fixture for its resolution, but selected the COLORado because of the IP rating. However, the resolution of the COLORados was excellent.”
The trim of the concert stage was 75-feet. Kenny took advantage of this by creating a variety of immersive washes with the 81 Maverick Storm 1 Wash fixtures and 68 Maverick MK3 Wash units that were hung along rows of truss across the back and on either side of the stage. He also used these fixtures, along with a collection of Rogue movers for audience lighting. A group of 60 battery powered, IP65 rated WELL Fit uplighters were used to lend mood-setting colours to the stage.
Arranged in a horizontal band that ran across the stage deck, as well as on a band across the top of the towering truss structure, the F5 IP video panels, displayed a variety of images in addition to identifying artists.
“We kept the show big but also intimate to reach those at the park as well as the millions of TV viewers,” said Kenny. “My goal was to create massive pictures and add big cues that would connect to crowd at the park, but also translate well on television screens. We did a lot of my signature side lighting, since this is New York, so we wanted to have some theatrical looks. Another thing we did is ask every artists to wear light and bold colours, so they showed up better. We told them to be their own light show with their outfits. That all worked out wonderfully.”
Also, working out nicely was the setup, which took place over a five day period, despite the limitations of putting together a show in Central Park, where crews have to wait after 9pm and leave the site by 5am.
“This was a historical event in preparation and in quality and experience. I'm very fortunate to surround myself with the best and most talented people and companies,” said Kenny. “I was supported throughout this project from the main core A-list crew and 4Wall's Bob Suchoki's service, to the followspot operators. Katherine Borderud, our young FOH LD also did a great job as did lighting director Jason Uchita, Mike Appel, David Convertino lighting lead Alex Flores and the rest of the crew.”
On a personal note, Kenny was happy to be helped on site by his daughter Grace Kenny, noting that having her on hand made the experience even more special, and that’s a good feeling that no storm can rain on.
14th September 2021
Yamaha RIVAGE PM5 Working Nine to Five on UK Theatre Tour
UK - As the theatre industry gets back to more regular working patterns, sound designer Ben Harrison has a Yamaha RIVAGE PM5 digital mixing system working nine to five on a new touring production of the ever-popular Dolly Parton musical.
Playing in venues from Inverness to Southampton and Plymouth, the UK tour of '9 to 5 The Musical' runs through until March 2022. It features a brand new Ben Harrison sound design.
With a huge array of past credits including Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Starlight Express, Evita, Fame, Hairspray, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Blood Brothers and many more, Ben’s choice of the Yamaha RIVAGE PM5 digital mixing system for this tour neatly brought his past and present together.
He notes that everything he learned about digital mixing came from earlier experiences with Yamaha consoles, both the PM1D and PM5D-RH. “I had shows going out with Yamaha desks for years. Probably longer than I should have, but they were the systems I’d built my workflow around,” he says.
“Finally, with the advent of a RIVAGE PM5 at this price point and specification, I now have the chance to revisit my roots.”
One of the advantages for Ben of returning to Yamaha is there has been no need for the production to carry extra outboard equipment.
“All the plug-ins I use are built in and there are so many more new and useful features on board to hone the mix,” he says. “The way the RIVAGE PM5 can be easily configured to be dual operator is a huge advantage. The number one sound operator can be concentrating on perfecting the mix and following the score, while I can be working on various channels without being a disturbance. I can also wander around the auditorium using the StageMix app to remotely tweak on an iPad during production rehearsals.”
Aimed at those with an adult sense of humour, this upbeat show tells the story of three female workmates pushed to boiling point by their sexist, egotistical boss. With all the music written especially by Dolly Parton – including the famous theme song that sees the entire audience joining in – the tour’s early performances have been very well attended.
“It shows that the public is very keen to get back to enjoying a fun night out at the theatre,” says Ben.
14th September 2021
Tom Kenny lights litany of stars with Elation at “We Love NYC: The Homecoming Concert”
USA – New Yorkers gathered in Central Park on 21st August to celebrate the city's comeback from Covid-19 with one of the most diverse and star-studded line-ups ever assembled on one stage entertaining beneath a complement of Elation IP-rated luminaires.
Organised by NYC in partnership with music producer Clive Davis and Live Nation, the show offered a pot pourri of genres from LL Cool J to Barry Manilow. Scheduled to be headlined by Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Patti Smith, Elvis Costello and others, the concert was stopped a little more than halfway into a planned five-hour show due to lightning storms tied to approaching Hurricane Henri. Still, performers like Jennifer Hudson, Carlos Santana, LL Cool J, Andrea Bocelli, Earth Wind & Fire, Kane Brown, Journey and Barry Manilow, among others, were able to take the stage.
Despite the weather, the show was a huge success with a crowd of 60,000 responsible and vaccinated music fans celebrating the return to live music. “It was a good example of how you can put on a safe, large live event,” stated veteran designer Tom Kenny, who was brought on the project by Diversified Productions Services (DPS) to design lighting.
Kenny teamed with renowned production designer Bruce Rodgers on the spacious open stage design, which featured generous amounts of automated lighting and huge NYC letters across the front. “We only had about an hour of darkness so it needed to look big and spectacular during the day but we didn’t want to depend on lots of gags,” Kenny said. “So powerful lighting was a must. Our biggest concern though was the exposed fixtures and obviously being out in the open I wanted to have as much IP65 as possible.”
An abundance of lumens and environmental ingress protection is just the recipe for Elation’s industry-standard IP-rated Proteus line. 4Wall Entertainment garnered the all-weather units, a rig that included 80 Proteus Hybrid, 20 Proteus Maximus, 35 Proteus Lucius and 16 DTW Blinder 700 IP, along with 60 Smarty Max and 18 Cuepix Blinder WW2, as well as a host of other luminaires. “When you do these big shows, you’re looking for power and you’re looking for something that’s very reliable,” Kenny says, “and we were very fortunate with all the fixtures we chose.”
Kenny, who says he has used Proteus fixtures before but not on a show like this, provides a peek into his design process. “We started by creating a big base look before customising for each song. I’m all about the music so as the music starts, I start fixing and cooking it how it’s going to look,” he said. “For Patti Smith for example, she told us to paint a picture and let it dry, which works for her, but for other artists we painted a picture and kept on going.” The design team also had to ensure the looks worked for camera as the show was broadcast live to a worldwide audience on CNN. Mike Appel and Fuji Convertino handled programming.
The Great Lawn in Central Park is unique in that it lacks a centre tower position so Kenny had to make do with two side towers: “I always set up a safety wash of lighting so we did that from the two sides using the Maximus fixtures. We were very impressed with the throw, which was over 200 feet and the lumen level was still good. The colour, the power, the shaping was just very impressive. The fixtures are so bright and all day we had impressive looks.” Besides the left and right tower positions, additional Proteus Maximus fixtures worked from around the stage.
Any IP fixture the designer knew could handle rain was placed downstage, and that included the Proteus Lucius, the compact brother to the Maximus, which Kenny used to light both people and the foliage in Central Park. As far as the Proteus Hybrid: “They were on four towers around the park and we ended up lighting the entire foliage with those from about 300 feet, which was quite beautiful.” Working from a back wall grid were the Smarty Max, a 21,000-lumen hybrid moving head that worked double duty as show lights and work lights. “They would have gotten more impressive as darkness fell,” Kenny said, lamenting the suspension, which came right at dusk.
Meeting Mother Nature head on, the torrents of rain that eventually poured down onto the rig were historic: the most ever recorded in the park in a single hour. Kenny comments: “All the IP65 lights survived. Even after the show was cancelled, we kept the lights on for safety. They really impressed us all.”
The final big name artists – those that didn’t have the chance to perform – Kenny had seen the night before at rehearsals. “It was emotional and beautiful and looked great. It was a shame of course but it was still a momentous show and we achieved what we wanted to do. The success was that it looked great and everything held up. The approach was safe, the crew were amazing and the service from 4Wall was great. The cancellation isn’t what will be remembered, a great show is what will be remembered.”
photos: Skye Morse-Hodgson, skyemh4248
13th September 2021
TED Returns to the Stage with Support from Sennheiser
USA – Audio manufacturer Sennheiser has partnered with TED, the global organisation devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, to ensure that the audio technology behind TED Talks is as cutting edge as the content that the brand is known to deliver. Sennheiser has built a one-of-a-kind headset microphone for TED speakers that reliably delivers top notch sound, while matching the sleek and minimalist aesthetic of the brand. The new headsets debuted alongside the Sennheiser Digital 9000 Wireless Microphone System at TEDMonterey 2021 in August, the first in-person TED conference since 2019 featuring such speakers as Adam Grant and Lizzo.
Sennheiser was first approached by TED in 2018 as it was looking for a better solution than the headset microphones they were using at the time. “We ran into many issues from both an audio and aesthetic perspective. The previous microphones were clunky and obtrusive,” says Mina Sabet, director of production and video operations at TED. Mina was determined to design and build the first ever custom microphone for TED that would solve these challenges, and after much research, she set her sights on Sennheiser as the ideal partner. “I wanted to work with Sennheiser to create the perfect microphone for us that is beautiful, modern and sounds great, without taking away from the performance visually and I wouldn’t take no for an answer because I knew they were the best in the business.” Mina collaborated with the team at Sennheiser, spearheaded by Volker Schmitt, technical application engineering manager for Pro Audio, to bring her vision to life.
In their design collaboration, which involved various prototypes, Sennheiser achieved what TED was looking for in a headset microphone. The final design took elements from a few of Sennheiser’s top products, melding them together in a stylishly streamlined package. The short boom arm and tiny microphone leveraged the transducer from the MKE 1 to give it the same top-of-the-line clarity and excellent frequency response found in musical and broadcast applications. The thin neckband allowed comfort for long wears, and the silver colour gave it a modern yet subtle edge. While the design is unique to TED, it takes inspiration from Sennheiser’s popular headset microphones that can be found all over Broadway productions and broadcast news studios.
“The project with TED was outstanding and refreshing because Mina came in with a clear vision for the microphone. During the development phase, it was fantastic to have a partner so involved in the creative process,” says Volker Schmitt. “Both Sennheiser and TED are all about pushing boundaries and delivering the best possible performance, so there was a lot of synergy in this partnership. We both maintain equally high standards for ourselves, so I am very proud of what we created together.”
“I feel a real affinity with Sennheiser because they allowed me to have such a big part in the design process. Volker really listened to what I was looking for, and we got everything we wanted out of the partnership,” says Mina.
While the microphones’ debut was delayed due to the pandemic, they finally graced the TED stage for TEDMonterey 2021 in early August. The four-day conference featured 63 performers and speakers, with hundreds of attendees joining in-person and remotely. According to Mina: “The energy at the conference was off the charts, everyone was so excited, and the content was fantastic. From a production standpoint, it was extremely smooth,” she continues, “the Sennheiser mics sounded crisp, sharp and looked perfect on all of the speakers. A few times, I even thought that the tech teams had forgotten to mic up the presenters because the headsets are so sleek and low-impact!”
TED used the Digital 9000 Wireless System to bring the custom headsets to life and ensure fantastic and consistent sound throughout the sessions. The robust system featured four channels of wireless, 15 belt packs and was paired to all 50 headsets and 50 handheld microphones used throughout the event. According to Volker, “the Digital 9000 was an advantageous choice for TED thanks to its analogue and digital outputs for audio, its Wireless Systems Manager software that enables the AV team to access live performance data, as well as its equidistant channel spacing allowing for easy set-up and frequency coordination without calculations.” In Mina’s words: “We’ve used the Digital 9000 before, and as usual the wireless system was wonderful. It is so reliable, easy to use and sounds great.”
After a successful first in-person event with TEDMonterey 2021, the organization will continue the momentum with important flagship conferences in the coming months. The TED calendar for the remainder of the year will feature “The Countdown Summit” on climate change in Edinburgh, Scotland from October 12-15, and “TEDWomen: What Now?” taking place in Palm Springs, California from December 1-3. “Those Sennheiser mics will go with us everywhere,” says Mina.
In picture: Chris Anderson, head of TED delivers opening remarks wearing the custom Sennheiser headset
10th September 2021
CPL Supplies Video production for Camper Calling Festival
UK – The CPL crew, led by Lee Gruszeckyj, were delighted to be back working on a festival site again providing video design and production for Camper Calling 2021 which took place over four days at Ragley Hall, Warwickshire during the UK’s August Bank Holiday weekend.
The festival, organised by Jazz Events, was back with an action-packed bang, complete with a lively musical megamix and lots of additional fun and adventure.
CPL working via Urban Audio Productions supplied a video equipment package comprising screens, cameras and control. The last event was in 2019, and each year the production values and scale of Camper Calling are increased alongside the great attention to detail that ensures it retains its friendly boutique style.
The big change up on the video front from 2019 was rigging the side stage IMAG screens in portrait format, a move suggested early in the design process by CPL to frame artist close-ups and full-length shots beautifully and elegantly. With this decision made at the outset, all the bespoke content could be tailored to fit.
The two IMAG screens each measured 4.4 metres wide by six metres tall and were complemented by five columns of screen on stage which were varying widths, tapering down as they went offstage, all with a 4.8 metre drop.
All the screen was from CPL’s stock of Roe CB5, and 115 panels in total were on the project. This was driven by Brompton SS40 processors and XD boxes for distribution, running via a fibre system with loop redundancy.
Three Sony HXC 100 HD cameras were positioned (two either side of the FOH platform) for cross shooting and one hand-held in the pit.
The HD camera feeds were augmented with three hot-head remote sources, two deployed above the stage area at the top of the front legs, with a third on a mobile tripod which could be finally positioned once the different band’s blacklines were in place.
Lee and the team had a visuals cabin operational HQ set up backstage into which they built a custom control unit based around a Barco E2 switcher for screen management. A disguise media server was used for various artist graphics and content as well as for public announcements.
As soon as the event was confirmed to go ahead, Lee contacted all the artist’s production directly and asked them to submit material from which the CPL team created individual 30 to 60 second intro sequences to ramp up the excitement as they took the stage.
Doing this in advance also ensured slick changeovers and avoided the scenario of content of varying qualities turning up right at the last minute that was not formatted for the system.
As soon as each band hit the first bars of the opening number, the video screens all flipped to IMAG, and Lee cut an animated and hi-impact mix using a Panasonic 410 with some additional keys and auxes to send different shots to the stage and side screens.
A deliberate creative decision was made to steer away from too much in-show playback visuals this year, keeping the look and vibe fresh and invigorating, and to assist in getting the huge amount of energy coming off the stage right out into the audience.
To fly the side screens, CPL also supplied six ProLyft half-tonne hoists, while the onstage screen was attached to a dedicated truss with catenary wires and clips, as well as a full set of Riedel Bolero wireless comms for the crew.
Joining Lee was Matt Dodd, Tom Wheelan, Simon Haydon, James Wagstaff, Phil Manson, Derek Gruszeckyj and Bernie Totten.
DMX control of the LED screen was provided to the lighting department, so they could adjust the brightness, and a fibre feed was provided to FOH for the Manics’ own video director to hook in their content, with a feed back to the video cabin for outputting to screen.
The first night was a sizzling hot Ibiza-style dance-out with a great house, trance, and techno DJ line-up, followed by two nights of foot-tapping tunes from artists everyone knows and loves, with Supergrass and Embrace headlining on Saturday, and Pixie Lott followed by the Manic Street Preachers closing the event on the Sunday.
CPL has worked on Camper Calling since it was launched in 2016, and Lee comments that although it felt a little strange initially (after the pandemic shutdown) being back on site with a full-on live audience giving it large and having enormous fun, it was also “very special”.
The great synergy between everyone involved in production, backstage and behind the scenes continues to grow along with the success and profile of the event itself.
photos: Tom Horton
10th September 2021
Robe Gets Monumental in France
France – The Monumental Tour is a brilliant and innovative visual and musical concept initiated by DJ and music producer Michael Canitrot and visual activists AV-Extended, in conjunction with French co-operative bank Credit Mutuel, which encompasses unique streamed electronic music performances and collaborations with epic, iconic and outstanding monumental sites all around France.
Lighting designer Cédric Davignon of Bordeaux-based creative practice Electron Libre Design was delighted to design lighting for the first digital gig of the tour, staged at the impressive Phare des Baleines (Lighthouse of the Whales) on the Ile de Ré, which is off the west coast of France near La Rochelle.
Cédric chose to work with ten Robe Spiiders and 13 MegaPointe moving lights to create his lighting design which complemented stunning large-format projections beamed onto the newer of the two Ile de Ré lighthouses, transforming its octagonal tower and base building below into a magical kinetic canvas for the performance.
The intriguing 57 metre high lighthouse building was designed by architect Léonce Reynaud and started operating in 1854.
It stands nearby to the original 29 metre high lighthouse which dates to 1682 and has the same name, and is directly on the Ile de Ré’s Atlantic facing beach. The old lighthouse has been restored and now operates as a museum, and both lighthouses are heritage listed monuments that provided a stunning backdrop for the concert.
Cédric elucidates that the goal with lighting was “very much to support” the video mapping and reinforcement of the music and video.
He wanted to add more depth to the overall picture and energise the interior of the lighthouse making it “come alive” with the help of the Spiiders which were located on the ground in front of the building.
Working closely with the impressive content produced by Jeremie Bellot and the AV-Extended crew, Cédric utilised the Spiider’s Flower Effect to create panning effects that picked up and accented the movement of the projected visuals. “Running the fixtures in mode 6 enabled some great undulating ring and propeller shapes,” he explained.
MegaPointes were selected for their sheer power and versatility.
With 12 positioned (six per side) on the roof of the lighthouse base building, they punched spectacularly through the night sky. "It's one of the few fixtures that’s so bright you can see the beams clearly without any fog,” he commented, adding that while the mist from the sea spray provided some natural atmospheric enhancement on the evening of the event, this was in no way guaranteed!
The 13th MegaPointe was deployed on the ground aligned with the geometric centre of the lighthouse a few metres away from the building. It shot directly up the tower illuminating the six centrally positioned windows that grace the elegant mast.
Cédric also created other interesting MegaPointe effects utilising the multi-faceted prisms and the gobo beam reducer to maximise the volume of the light.
This helped highlight the massive light source at the top, visible from up to 50 kilometres out to sea, and pinpointed the DJ booth that was positioned on the balcony around the top of the tower, from which Michael Canitrot mixed his pumping and ephemeral set.
Cédric programmed and ran the lighting using a grandMA2 console, and the event’s lighting equipment was supplied by Groupe AES with video delivered by the Bordeaux branch of event technology specialist, Léni.
This heady mix of electronic music, history and architecture was broadcast on the Monumental Tour website and several other platforms including Robe France’s Facebook page. The tour and the concerts are designed to raise awareness of the importance of preserving heritage through entertainment, live music, and art.
Four more equally engaging and special Monumental Tour digital concerts are planned over the next three months, all in three equally impressive sites, with the next stop being Mont-Saint-Michel!
photos: Wozniak and Dimworks