Production News Headlines
WorldStage makes major investment in Brompton Technology’s Tessera LED processors
USA – Established almost four decades ago, event technology specialist WorldStage has built a reputation that is second to none. The company makes a practice of investing in equipment that matches its goal of supplying top of the line technology to its clients. With that in mind, WorldStage has made a major commitment to Brompton Technology’s Tessera LED processors.
WorldStage operates in multiple markets throughout the US. The company’s projects include Broadway productions, art installations, television shows, touring productions and high-end corporate meetings.
As a leader in LED applications for live events and permanent installs, WorldStage works with companies that also have an in-depth understanding of LED and its associated technologies.
“The past three years have been a period of significant growth for us, and whenever we make large investments in technology we partner with the best players in the market,” explains WorldStage CEO, Gary Standard. “Our high-level engineering staff always looks at technology from that viewpoint.
“We understand the importance of good processing and wanted to partner with Brompton because we recognise its superior product line: that’s what sets Brompton apart.”
Brompton’s class-leading SX40 high capacity processor and Tessera XD distribution unit offers a multitude of features, such as support for full 4K screens at 60Hz with 12 bits per colour output, a zero-latency up/down scaler that matches the source to the screen, plus all of Tessera’s industry-leading processing features such as ChromaTune colour correction and on-screen colour adjustment (OSCA). Combined with the Tessera XD distribution unit, a sophisticated single box solution designed to manage the complications of mass cabling that can arise with large LED display systems, the SX40 provides a cost-effective yet powerful system that will support the biggest, brightest and boldest LED projects, and which aligns perfectly with WorldStage’s business model.
Josh Perlman, director of LED Services at WorldStage, notes that: “Our widely varied work means we handle many different types of products, including our customised solutions using c3One, CB5, and Sapphire. We need to have good control over everything we provide. Having the top processor on the market ensures that our fleet of high-end LED products has the finest processing with exceptional control of image quality, colour matching and resolution. This means that we can make every environment look and feel the way the designer envisioned it while providing peace of mind with full redundancy.”
The feedback loop with its key supplier-partners is also key to a successful collaboration, Perlman says. “Our relationship with Brompton isn’t just a purchase-only scenario. It’s been a fluid and easy conversation from the initial sales process with Rob Fowler through training, troubleshooting, getting updates and fixing issues as needed. Brompton listens to feedback and tweaks in order to offer superior solutions. That’s the kind of company we want as a partner.”
“It’s been a real pleasure to work with Gary, Josh and the Worldstage team,” comments Brompton Technology’s Rob Fowler. “They clearly appreciate what we are trying to achieve at Brompton and their approach to top end applications mirrors our own. Having this kind of commitment allows both companies to plan, and the closer collaboration makes integrating new products, especially custom ones, faster and more efficient. We look forward to delivering more and more high profile and exciting projects together in the future.”
In picture: Brompton’s regional technical manager, Sean Sheridan and WorldStage’s Josh Perlman.
21st March 2019
Specialz Adds More Glamour to Strictly
UK – Each year the Strictly Come Dancing Live show gets that bit more glitzy and that bit more glamorous. Now in its 12th year, the live production of the iconic TV show has gone from strength to strength, extending that warm glowing feel-good feeling from the small screen to arenas around the country for its enthusiastic and loyal audience. Each year the show specification is revisited and refreshed with each set piece and prop given a re-evaluation. This year, one of the recipients of a revamp were the chandeliers, a must-have ingredient of a Strictly set.
Production manager Andy Gibbs goes into detail: “We had maintained the chandeliers for 11 years, bringing them out of storage annually to add that extra dressing to the set look. Our tour director is Craig Revel Horwood and during the initial discussions about this year’s show, he was keen to include fountains and waterfalls. Clearly, with 1,200 panels of wooden dance floor that gets loaded in and out and carefully laid at every venue, this was never going to happen. I suggested we go down the LED route and approached Specialz to come up with a proposal. The resulting design and fabrication produced four chandeliers which proved to provide effects far beyond the original expectation.”
Specialz MD, Dave Smith goes into how the fixtures were developed: “We exchanged various ideas and settled on a concept using programmable node RGBW LEDs and based around three half circle mirror balls on a tier. They had to be the same size as the old chandeliers to maintain the truck pack, they had to be battery powered, Wi-Fi controlled, needed to rotate and descend from a winch. Our SPI cards have a unique programmable animation capability which allowed us to essentially group the 12,000 channel count to 360 for all four fixtures.
Powered by 12V Li-ion batteries, each unit was fitted with its own charged so they could be charged up after each show when they were dropped in. The specification was originally that they need to run for about 50 minutes per show but, as rehearsals progressed it was clear that they were being used far more than originally planned so a significant comfort zone was built into their running time.”
Specialz confidence that the chandeliers were going to be an FX winner were proved right. Indeed, so much so that they provided the inspiration for another part of the set as Gibbs explains: “We had a large 10ft diameter, four tier centre piece that was built by Howard Eaton Lighting and used the same technology from Specialz to harmonise the look. Put together they were simply stunning.”
Smith confirms: “By supplying Howard Eaton with SPI cards, Wi-Fi receivers and the RGBW tape for the revolving centre piece, we were able to enable continuity in both look and programming. Similar treatment was also given to a number of lampposts, made by Total Fabrication that decorated the set.”
“From the first concept, we were sure that these were going to sure fire winners,” concludes Smith. “Our Specialz LED driver and battery technology enabled us to deliver a programmable system that was manageable and yet still provided the LD Richard Jones with a fixture offering a multitude of looks and effects that significantly added to the ambience of the show. Here at Specialz, we know there is nothing better than another satisfied customer!”
photo: David J.Hogan
21st March 2019
Yamaha RIVAGE PM10 Helps Make Denmark’s Largest Musical Possible
Denmark – In early 2019, Denmark’s Odense Theatre (in collaboration with The Funen Opera and Odense Symphony Orchestra) staged the country’s largest ever musical production. Featuring a 70-piece orchestra and a star-studded Danish cast, the investment by production company AV CENTER in a Yamaha RIVAGE PM10 digital mixing system was one of the key factors that made the show possible.
Performed during January and February at ODEON in Odense – a modern venue with a main hall that seats audiences of over 1700 – Leonora Christina is a musical extravaganza telling the 17th century story of one of Denmark’s greatest political intrigues. Directed by Peter Langdal, it includes all the plot elements of love, power and treason essential for a great musical production.
The performances featured high profile Danish actors Xenia Lach-Nielsen and Troels Lyby in the lead roles of Leonora Christina and her husband Corfitz Ulfeldt, as well as many other well-known Danish stars of stage and screen.
AV CENTER is one of the country’s leading production rental companies and a long-term user of Yamaha digital mixing consoles. It has a number of CL and QL mixers in its inventory, but a higher capacity system was needed for Leonora Christina. It was the perfect production for the company to invest in a RIVAGE PM10 system.
AV CENTER’S Jesper Findshøj was the sound designer and front of house mix engineer for the show, which included more than 30 channels of digital wireless microphones, a comprehensive wired microphone package for the symphony orchestra and a large main PA.
“We have been using Yamaha consoles for many years and the natural sound, ease of use and rock-solid reliability make this mixing platform a perfect choice for classical productions,” says Jesper.
“I want to put all my energy and concentration into listening and focusing on the music and the RIVAGE PM10 system is especially fast and intuitive. Together with its huge soundstage and comprehensive package of dynamics and reverb plug-ins, it gives me the freedom to make musical and artistic choices, delivering a great cinematic sound experience to the audience.”
Although Odense Theatre has roots dating back almost to the era of Lenora Christina herself, the production has been widely praised as its greatest musical triumph, helped by the power of the RIVAGE PM10 system.
photos: Emilia Therese, courtesy Odense Theater
21st March 2019
GLP’s Custom Lighting Solution for Detroit Art Extravaganza
USA – Renowned production lighting designer Andi Watson recently undertook one of his most challenging projects ever, this time in the art world, thanks to a collaboration with LA-based mixed-media artist Doug Aitken.
Conceived by Doug Aitken Workshop, the mirrored art installation, Mirage Detroit, has transformed the 100-year-old Savings Bank in Detroit into a mesmerising, mind altering adventure for visitors, due in part to the judicious use of customised GLP fixtures, which are used exclusively to light the space.
The LD says the collaboration came about largely by chance. “I had been working on another project in Detroit with the Library Street Collective team who were in the early stages of putting together Mirage Detroit with Doug. Several things fell into place and Anthony and JJ from LSC suggested to Doug that he and I should talk about the lighting component of the piece.”
The concept, in which the 70,000-square-foot Silvers Building was transformed into a kaleidoscopic world of reflective mirrors, fomented over several months and via numerous conference calls. “Doug sent me detailed drawings and renders of how the piece was going to look in the space and we discussed how the lighting would be used to bring both buildings to life.”
Andi’s first site visit proved inspirational as he became immersed among the white marble walled interior and arched Roman colonnades. Describing the building as “incredible” he noticed that this internal architecture gave an impression of “strength, confidence, safety and security.” But he also observed that over the decades it had been damaged, become vulnerable “and gone through a lot of uncertainty”.
Both collaborators agreed that only white light would be used in the installation. Watson explained: “To me, light is the medium and the language with which the Silvers Building and Mirage communicate. I wanted that communication to be as pure as possible and not affected by a subjective colour choice.”
However, this presented a conundrum as there was nothing on the market that would satisfy the colour requirement and deliver the combination of power and control. With time running out GLP stepped in. Watson explained: “At the time I was putting the design together for Mirage Detroit I was on tour with Radiohead. I had quite a lot of GLP X4L (large LED moving heads) and X4 Bars in the rig and I had completely fallen in love with them. The combination of rich, saturated colours a clean white, really good optics and pixel level control enabled me to create both beautifully lit scenes and gorgeous modulated effects. Everything was perfect about the fixture for Mirage Detroit except the colours. I explained this to Mark [Ravenhill] and he amazingly said that GLP could fabricate custom cold white/warm white versions of the X4 Bar, X4 L and X4 XL.”
Mirage Detroit is a suburban house, built using mirrored panels which sits on a bed of stones sourced from a local river. The interior is empty and for the visitor, the shape and structure of the piece is revealed by the multiple reflections of the building, the pebbles, the wooden floor and of course the visitors themselves.
The installation is in essence how light plays with all the surfaces in this illusory world reflecting from the Silvers building to Mirage and back again in a constant conversation.
One of the key building blocks of the lighting installation was the creation of a custom dimmer curve that matched ‘normal, resting’ human breathing. Andi Watson explains: “I wanted the buildings to breathe and be alive and for people to perceive that on an almost unconscious level. My programmer Rob Gawler researched and created a scientifically accurate and sublimely beautiful dimmer curve that became the basis for nearly everything we did.
“Because the fixtures only ever move in blackout, the only parameters we had to play with were the very limited colour range (warm white to cold white) and the individual cell intensities. Rob and I spent many nights programming the various intensity modulations and delicate colour shifts. There is always a reason why the lighting is changing in the way it does. Often this is a result of my ideas about the conversation between the buildings and how the emotions, memories, dreams and hopes could be represented by the movement and the temperature of the light.
“Because the lighting is constantly changing, even if almost imperceptibly so, it creates an ever changing environment that enables this dialogue between the Silvers Building and Mirage. The number of unique perceived environments is limited only by the time spent in the space. A visit could last minutes or even hours and always feel unique.”
The visitors themselves become a modulating factor in the end result. “When the lights are directed across the stones, shadows of people are created which affects the overall look and feel. Inside Mirage, the experience is very much about the distorted and fragmented reflections that repeat almost endlessly and so when the visitors themselves form part of those reflections, and are lit or are in shadow, they themselves become a part of the visual experience. Since Mirage is made of highly polished mirrors, you only see it by what is reflected in it.”
Everything is controlled from a grandMA2 and the lighting installation is built from variable sets of cues that segue together. “We are using the functionality of the console to switch everything on and off and run various cue sequences depending upon the time and exact date.”
The sources needed to be as discreet as possible, and the fixtures, other than the X4 XLs, that backlit the arched windows on the second floor of the building, were sensitively made to blend into the fabric of the building.
In terms of deployment and functionality the X4 Bars were used to uplight the marble columns, light Mirage directly or act as down/cross lighting for the pebble floor. The X4 Ls were used to backlight the second floor arched windows and were also used in the corners of the room where there are ‘L’ shaped columns. The giant pan-head X4 XLs were used with to downlight from the ceiling of the Silver’s building, either with a narrow beam directly through Mirage’s chimney or with a wider beam to reflect light and colour from the pitched roof of Mirage back up onto the ceiling.
Finally the tiny X4 atoms were used for an improvisational performance by Jónsi of Sigur Ros on the opening night and subsequently to discreetly light the inside of the bank safe.
For the live performance Andi Watson, in his more familiar metier, had wanted to keep the lighting holistic with the rest of the treatment for the space. “So when [Jónsi’s] team informed us that they wanted him lit with Birdies I immediately contacted Mark [Ravenhill] to see if he could provide some atoms, which he graciously did. In that way we could keep everything LED-based and maintain consistency between the colours used everywhere in the space.”
Other than the GLP fixtures, the remainder of the equipment was supplied by John Bahnick from Upstaging, including control, cabling and custom metal and woodwork.
Reviewing the overall effect of the lighting Andi Watson is in no doubt that it achieved everything that he had hoped for. “To me the installation works on so many levels and whilst it is certainly immersive, it is at times contemplative, at other times dynamic and always mesmerising. The lighting enabled the conversation between the two structures and became the language they both spoke.
“I think it would have been almost impossible to create what I was looking for with any other set of fixtures,” he said in summary. “The brightness and colour purity of the fixtures allowed me to really make both the Silvers Building and Mirage come to life.
“The cold white and warm white colour temperatures worked spectacularly well with the white marble columns and gold leaf decorated ceiling, and could make Mirage look as if it was made entirely of silver or gold. In addition, the level of control over the individual cells of the fixtures allowed us to programme incredibly intricate, delicate or dynamic modulations that made the light appear to be blowing in a breeze, rippling as if underwater or caught up in a tornado. It was truly beautiful.”
photos: Lance Gerber, courtesy the artist and Library Street Collective
21st March 2019
Frank Turner’s Be More Kind on Tour with Adlib
UK – Adlib supplied a CODA sound system, video equipment including projectors, cameras, Catalyst media server, and crew to the recent UK leg of hugely talented UK punk folk singer / songwriter Frank Turner’s ongoing world tour. Adlib worked closely with production designer Ali Pike, FOH engineer Luke Buckbee (pictured) and Johnny Stephenson on monitors.
Taking on the full production designer role was an exciting prospect for Ali Pike who initially chatted with Frank about what he wanted video-wise, and had a very clear overall perspective of what she wanted to create. The focus was to bring something fresh and different to the visual mix.
She wanted some elements of the video to be interchangeable with more classical, projected lighting effects like gobos, an idea she hit on after a gig last year at Red Rocks where they projected onto the rock formations.
Frank and the band had some interesting hand-drawn animated videos which she thought would respond well to treatments and morph nicely into the live show.
Frank has had black-and-white backdrops in the past, and the band all wear white shirts on stage which take light beautifully, so these powerful monochrome elements were the starting point, and this striking aesthetic could be strategically contrasted with specific, more literal footage, such as an adapted version of the promo dancing video for “Little Changes”.
Assisting Ali to get all the kit and the effects she wanted on the road was Adlib’s Matt Hopwood.
The white backdrop for the lighting and video projections was 18ft high, and Panasonic RZ21K laser projectors were selected for their power and relatively compact size. These were fitted with short throw lenses and run as an overlaid pair, flown on their own dedicated mid stage truss.
Adlib supplied a fully redundant Catalyst V5 Pro media server that came complete with sic-channel active silicon camera Inputs. The servers were operated via Ali’s grandMA2 lighting console, where she also added effects and treatments to the content that she had compiled for the show.
Adlib provided six POV cameras, a combination of rackable Marshalls, two CV350 10x zoom ‘block’ and four CV225 ‘lipstick’ units. Three of the lipstick cameras used their standard lenses and one was modified with a fisheye lens.
One of the lipstick cameras was attached to a mic stand looking up at Frank catching his guitar as well. The fish eye was used for a rear shot and was clamped to the underneath of an ego step in between the keys and drum risers.
The CV 350s were attached to mic stands and positioned to capture head shots of the keyboard player and the drummer.
Once Ali had fine-tuned all these camera angles and placements, Matt set markers on the camera preview rack so he could get the position correct for each show (all the on stage cameras had to be struck for the opening act, Jimmy Eat World, and then re-positioned).
The last two lipstick cameras were fixed onto two of Adlib’s MAC Aura moving lights with custom GoPro mounts and used as improvised Robocams! Positioned far downstage left and right, they captured some exact shots that Ali wanted as she had control of the movement via the lighting desk.
The Aura cameras could skim the bassist and guitarist, fire back up at the screen and also pan out into the audience, so they were super-versatile! With the combination of the light sources so close to the camera lenses and in the same direction, Ali was able to get some very unique and dynamic live shots to enhance the desired look and ambience.
Controlling camera inputs through a Catalyst system was new to her and something that she and Adlib’s Rich Rowley discussed extensively ahead of the tour, as it was vital to be able to execute camera cues just as if they were lighting cues.
“Rich, Matt and the whole Adlib team were really helpful and creative in finding clamping, mounting and control solutions so I could run the cameras exactly as needed,” commented Ali.
She emphasises the fact that video is just one element of a bigger picture and a key goal was to ensure that “it balances nicely with everything else” and that’s for hitting the right dramatic notes for everyone watching live.
James Coghlan was the systems technician, working with Adlib’s Alan Harrison to ensure that band engineers Luke Buckbee (FOH) and Johnny Stephenson (monitors) had everything they needed.
James had completed a short run with the band earlier in 2018 where Adlib supplied a CODA AiRAY system for some club and academy shows which didn’t have access to a house PA. Luke was so impressed with the CODA that he chose it again for this arena tour and requested James back as systems engineer.
The system comprised of AiRAY and ViRAY supplemented with flown S2-F low frequency extensions along with a broadside array of eight stacks of CODA SCP-F subs on the floor for even sub coverage.
Three CODA APS speakers per side were used as infills, with four HOPS8s for front fills.
CODA was specified for its small and compact box size, extremely light weight and excellent sound, which was perfect for the smaller theatres and rooms they played in 2018 where both points, weight loadings and truck space were limited commodities.
Having had such an all-round awesome experience with the system on this, Luke was happy to take it out on this arena run of gigs.
The standard set up was 12 AiRAY and four ViRAY down-fills for the main hangs plus eight AiRAY and four ViRAY for side hangs with six SC2-Fs a side flown behind the main arrays.
The AiRAY was toured with the 90-degree AiCOUPLER (waveguide) and the ViRAY with the 120-degree ViCOUPLER waveguides. James positioned the ViRAY beneath the main hangs as down-fill for its increased horizontal dispersion to help cover the front rows.
In the London gig at Alexandra Palace, a long narrow box of a room, they dispensed with the side hangs and instead used the ViRAY in small ground stacks to fill the sides, then flew the AiRAY as two delay hangs.
They used an Adlib fibre control system, with Dante as the main protocol between FOH and stage, and the fibre network also carrying signal to control the amps.
An Outline Newton was utilised as the master console matrix which took in analogue and AES from Luke’s PRO2C FOH console and the DiGiCo SD12 desk doing the support mix. The outputs from the Newton then fed a Lake control system, which fed the amps with both LiNET and an analogue backup.
They toured 12 Linus14 amps and 25 Linus10s in total, all connected to a Mac Mini at FOH, running Linus Live to control the amplifiers.
With Frank’s hectic live show schedule, the band provided their own consoles – the PRO2C for FOH and a DiGiCo SD9 for monitors – and also had their own IEM monitor system which leaves the stage nice and clear, so Adlib’s role was supplying the racks-and-stacks, control, the crew and their technical and creative fine-tuning skills.
The opening act, Jimmy Eat World, was totally self-contained audio-wise. From an audio point of view, the tour was very straightforward.
James, Alan and Matt made a great Adlib team and they enjoyed the family atmosphere and camaraderie on the road working with a “great production crew” who included production manager Dougie Murphy and stage manager Phil Murphy.
“I knew that any small question I might have would have already been considered and sorted and that attention to detail and thoroughness made everything exceptionally smooth,” concluded James.
Photos: Steve Sroka
21st March 2019
PR Lighting Phantom 440 hybrids and LED wash star at Miami Street Festival
USA – When the annual Calle Ocho Street Festival took place recently in Miami’s Little Venice it was headlined by Colombian singer, songwriter and producer, Fonseca.
For the past six years the Grammy nominated artist has been given full visual support by lighting and audio visual specialists, 4 Sound Group.
The locally-based company annually provides the full technical infrastructure for this one-day street carnival, frequently calling on its inventory of PR Lighting fixtures.
Around 8,000 people turned up this year to see the so-called ‘King of the Carnival’ perform, and 4 Sound Group’s lighting designer, Juan Miguel Sanchez, gave him a dynamic stage set that befitted the occasion. They deployed 16 PR Lighting Phantom 440, a versatile hybrid beam, wash and spot combined, programming in all three modes to make full use of the Osram Sirius HRI 440W lamp and advanced optical path. This gave them: 0°- 2.8° angle in beam mode, 2.8°- 60° (spot) and 10°- 60° (wash).
These effects were complemented with 16 PR Lighting XLED 4022RZ, an extremely bright LED colour wash featuring 22 x 40W (four-in-one RGBW) LEDs.
The Miami-based production company has been a PR Lighting partner for the past three years. Of their decision to adopt the brand, company president, Joaquin Gonzalez, said: “We particularly chose PR Lighting as our main brand for the quality of its equipment. The power and light output are incredible, and comparable with any other brand in the market. The local support of [PR Lighting US distributor] Mega Systems is very good, and for our part we will continue to increase our inventory of PR products.
“All the artists’ production teams, as well as the client were extremely satisfied with the overall result of our stage.”
20th March 2019
Chauvet Professional Mavericks From Fumasoli Add Magic to Cavalli Di Battaglia in Rome
Italy – As the site of the prestigious Festa del Cinema di Roma (Rome Film Festival) every October, the elegant Auditorium Parco della Musica has played host to many of the brightest movie stars from throughout the world. Last year, Martin Scorsese, Nicole Kidman, Sigourney Weaver and Julia Roberts were among the celebrities participating in the festival’s events. Given its association with the film industry, this Renzo Piano-designed complex just north of Rome’s ancient city, made an ideal setting for a recent retrospective by one of Italy’s most beloved actors, Gigi Proietti.
Cavalli di Battaglia takes a moving, contemplative look at Proietti’s over 60-year career on stage and in internationally acclaimed films like Sidney Lumet’s The Appointment and Robert Altman’s A Wedding. Supporting the retrospective at the Auditorium Parco della Musica was a light show created by prominent theatrical designer Umile Vainieri. Anchoring his warm and evocative lighting design is a collection of Chauvet Professional Maverick fixtures, supplied by Fumasoli Audio and Lights Rental.
Vainieri used 28 Maverick MK2 Wash and 14 Maverick MK2 Spot fixtures in his design for the show, which is based on a popular televised version of Cavalli di Battaglia that ran on Italy’s RAI network in early 2017. He positioned 18 of the wash units on the stage floor in double rows just in front of the orchestra to create a variety of dramatic effects.
During the more reflective moments of the show, these fixtures produced evocative points of light, while the orchestra and the backup performers were kept mostly in darkness. Aside from the glow of the Maverick MK2 Wash fixtures, the only other illuminated area on stage at these moments was the pool of white light that surrounded Proietti.
Viewed from the audience, the 18 points of light, along with the orchestra in near darkness and the legendary actor surrounded by a circle of light, presented a transformative panorama. Enveloped by an island of light in a sea of darkness, the 78-year-old Proietti seemed to have journeyed to the stage from a different time.
The remaining ten Maverick MK2 Wash fixtures in the rig were flown on truss structures for colourising the stage. Along with those washes, 14 of the Maverick MK2 Spot fixtures were flown on the truss. These units were used for specials, spotting and audience lighting. The remaining four Spot fixtures were positioned on the upstage deck and were relied on to lend a concert light feel to the show by creating aerial effects.
“The added impact that the Maverick fixtures brought to the show was impressive,” said Marco Zaffuto of Fumasoli Audio and Lights Rental. “Umile Vainieri is a very gifted lighting designer, and he was able to create a wide variety of theatrical looks that reflect the action on the stage with very smooth transactions from scene to scene. Gigi Proietti is a national treasure in Italy, and this design supported him with the looks he so richly deserves.”
20th March 2019
Getting Behind the Scenes at 40-45 The Movie
Belgium – Fisheye, Painting with Light, PRG Belgium and WIcreations, four of the technical partners involved in the ground-breaking 40-45 Spektakel Musical production being staged at the Pop-Up Theatre in Puurs, Belgium, by Studio 100 are featured in a compelling and candid Behind the Scenes (BTS) movie which has just been released on YouTube.
Shot in 4K during the set up and first weeks of the production, the BTS movie features clips from the show itself plus extensive and exclusive interviews with director Frank Van Laecke, technical director Bart Caels from B-Art Production Design, creative lighting expert and video designer Luc Peumans, innovative entertainment engineering specialist Hans Willems, Fisheye director Stijn Slabbinck who was in charge of several scenic masterpieces and Tom Van Hemelryck from PRG who provided lighting and rigging equipment.
It gives viewers a unique technical and creative insight into the meticulous planning and huge challenges of producing this ambitious show set during World War II. The vision and foresight of Studio 100 and the strong teamwork, standards of excellence and innovative solutions that are making it happen.
It is a ‘must-see’ for anyone interested in the art of creative technical production.
A team from Painting with Light led by Luc Peumans crafted the lighting design and undertook the programming and operating. They also produced the bespoke video content and designed the video control system complete with its programming and operating.
Painting with Light also supplied ten new disguise gx media servers for the playback video content which is appearing on eight moving LED video walls. Their segment of the movie looks closely at how video and lighting cues have been integrated via the grandMA2 control platform.
It examines the lighting process from conception to completion, explains the advantages of vital tools like visualisation and how it was used, plus special custom elements like the control of the video content’s virtual lighting which is appearing on the screens and has been compiled to match to the ‘actual’ lighting cues happening simultaneously on the set.
Entertainment engineering specialist WIcreations designed, developed and installed a bespoke wireless laser-guided system to move eight enormous seating tribunes each holding over 200 audience members who are watching the show each day.
The tribunes themselves were also constructed by WIcreations in the theatre and each one contains around 14,000 parts, the majority of which have been custom machined. The tribunes move together or individually throughout the venue for the full two-hour show in every direction and on every axis, sometimes with as little as 20cm between them.
The same WI proprietary wireless laser guided control technology is being applied to move the eight moving LED screen trucks around the performance space plus two scenery wagons.
WIcreations also provided the battery-power systems for the LED walls and the tribune on-board audio and LED lighting.
Set design and build wizards Fisheye worked closely with set designer Stefaan Haudenhuyse and created some key props and scenic elements which are prominent in the show. The movie delves into the complex construction techniques from design to CNC machining, the diligent research and the fine-tuned skills involved, all completed in-house at Fisheye’s workshops.
They include a 1:1 scale World War II Stuka bomber with turning propellers that ‘flies’ above through the performance space above the audience, and several automobiles including an Opel Blitz truck with the petrol engine removed and replaced by an electric motor so it drives through the theatre. There is also a 30-metre long train and a crashed Spitfire aircraft which burns realistically on the stage!
The train was built from scratch and the tricky part was to find a solution with a short turning distance so it could make a loop around and in and out the building.
All these items required painstaking and careful construction to bring them to life on the stage.
PRG has supplied and installed the lighting to Luc’s spec plus rigging and the eight by 32 square metre LED screens which are secured on the moving wagons.
They were involved in some major special effects including flying the Stuka bomber and crashing the Spitfire onto the stage for which a custom 90 metre track is integrated into the venue’s roof structure. Attached to this is a specially developed power system which ensures the plane maintains the exact correct speed and altitude in every show.
The movie shows the rigorous lighting and rigging prep for this very special event and highlights the detail of the installation itself. It also features a brand-new LED moving light manufactured by PRG – the Icon Stage – which made its live performance debut on 40-45.
PRG is utilising its award-winning Ground Control remote followspotting system, which is working in 360 degrees to keep pace with the changing shape and form of the environment as the stands and wagons shift around the space, in conjunction with 4K and IR cameras to follow the principals at all times, even in near darkness.
The movie action starts right at the beginning of the production for 40-45 with the design and build of the pop-up venue and the different departments moving in for the show build.
Snapshots of the vast backstage operation that is energised daily to put on the show is related in interviews where the challenges are explored via creatives, technicians and engineering specialists.
An in-depth analysis of the work illustrates how these departments met the brief and aspirations of the producers and director Frank Van Laecke, and how they all collaborated to deliver a memorable and superlative experience for all guests.
One full length BTS video features the work of each of the four contributing companies in detail, and there are four shorter ones each dedicated specifically to each of the four partner companies.
The idea of investing in a movie to document ‘the making of’ this seminal piece of work partly came from its predecessor production, 14-18 Spektakel Musical, staged at the Nekkerhal in Mechelen in 2014-15, which was also a huge success.
Luc from Painting with Light felt that all the energy, thoughts, discussions and inventive solutions that were involved in this should have been recorded. He ran this past the Studio 100 team who agreed, and so the seeds of this movie were germinated at the same time they were all being inspired to develop the sequel to 14-18.
Once the production process was underway, Filip and his video crew kept up a constant but stealthy presence to capture all the drama, perspective and excitement of the show building process.
Instrumental in both the show and the BTS movie happening was Bart Caels from the 40-45 production team who also appears on camera and the overall BTS project was approved by Jan Bernolet, producer at Studio100.
The BTS movie has been produced by Image4You, creatively directed by Filip Vanhullebusch with Chris De Paepe as director of photography. They have carefully recreated the noir ambience and atmospheric lighting of the show in this movie, so it compliments in every aspect the work it is documenting.
Filip comments that it was an incredible experience to be able to document everyone’s work and produce a movie relevant to an international industry-wide audience that will stand the test to time as an authoritative piece of entertainment technology documentary filming.
Challenges included capturing the authenticity of the show’s real lighting, visuals and scenic design which were created for theatre rather than film, and also dealing with the intricacies and contrasts of the vast performance space and the incredibly intimate and personal narrative.
“We were able to lift every lid of every cooking pot from these master chefs! Hats off for so much talent and the access which allows us to share such a unique point of view with viewers”.
He also adds that, as respective perfectionists and over-achievers in their fields, “we all know that details matter”.
The full movie can be watched here on YouTube: https://youtu.be/dy6jsEIAHU0
photos: Frank Lambechts, picturesk
20th March 2019
L-ISA rises to the opera challenge
Italy – Dionysos Rising is a new opera by Roberto David Rusconi, and part of the vibrant OPER.A 20.21 programme from the Haydn Foundation of Bolzano and Trento, Italy. The production brings modern context to the myth of Dionysos, the ancient Greek God of wine, fertility, ritual madness, religious ecstasy, and theatre, and is set in a rehabilitation centre for patients suffering from mental health issues.
Roberto David Rusconi is the 2019 artist in residence for the Haydn Foundation and is well known for his wide-ranging portfolio of immersive musical experiences for opera, theatre, and dance, as well as extensive work in music for film and TV. The Dionysos Rising music uses a small orchestra together with live voices and playback. To convey this ambitious immersive soundscape and complex scoring clearly and intelligibly to the audience, Rusconi turned to L-Acoustics' L-ISA Immersive Hyperreal technology.
He was first introduced to the system by L-Acoustics director of scientific outreach, Etienne Corteel. "I wanted to work with Etienne since we met on another project back in 2014. I got together with him and Christian Heil (president and founder of L-Acoustics) and they explained their ambitions for L-ISA and what it could mean creatively. It was a real stroke of luck, the right time and the right place. My goals were identical to theirs, and the opera project had just been commissioned. I was looking for something, and I found the best."
Rusconi worked with the L-ISA controller and processor at his own studio for several months, exploring their creative possibilities before approaching the show's producers with the plan for a technical infrastructure that could deliver the Dionysos Rising score. "I told them that anyone can produce an opera, but no one else can deliver a full immersive experience like this one.”
A close relationship with L-Acoustics throughout the project was particularly important to Rusconi. "I had lots of support over the two years that it took to bring the opera to the stage,” he says. “At my home, at rehearsals, and with the design of the final L-ISA configuration."
The January production of Dionysos Rising took place at Teatro Sanbapolis, a compact venue designed as a versatile space for a wide range of performances. The 15.1 L-ISA configuration consisted of five X12 enclosures for the scene system across the front of the stage, ten X8 for the overheads and surrounds, and two SB18 subwoofers flown centrally above the audience. All loudspeakers were driven by five LA4X amplified controllers.
"L-Acoustics already had some great products," comments Rusconi. "The L-ISA technology makes things even better. We are all used to headphones, which simulate a 360-degree experience. The experience in a theatre, however, can be poor in comparison. Now L-Acoustics is saying, 'Here is a solution to the problem'. This is very important for opera, where amplification isn’t normally well-accepted. It’s important that the news gets out; a new technology is here, and it’s top-notch quality."
The next performances of Dionysos Rising will be from 20th to 22nd September 2019 at the Museumsquartier, Hall G, in Vienna, Austria.
In picture: Elias Kern, Florian Back and Roberto Rusconi (front).
20th March 2019
Robe Pointes Help Mirror BMW 7 Launch in Shanghai
China – Lighting and visual artist Christopher Bauder from Berlin based WHITEvoid was asked to reimagine his ground-breaking ‘Mirror Mirror’ kinetic lighting installation for the 2019 world premiere of the new BMW 7 series which took place in Shanghai, China.
He used 52 circular shaped Kinetic Lights mirror disks which worked in conjunction with 42 synchronised Robe Pointe moving lights plus one MegaPointe to stun the 500 VIP guests in the majestic former industrial environment of the West Bund Art Centre, Shanghai.
Christopher was commissioned by show producers China Kingway for whom he’d previously delivered the initial ‘Mirror Mirror’ in 2018 as a stand-alone segment making up Apologue 2047/2, a work directed by Chinese film director and former cinematographer Zhang Yimou.
This time, the show was directed by Mr Bao, CEO of China Kingway assisted by LuLu He and also featured a special electronic soundscape by composer Kanding Ray, combined with a live performance by famous Chinese sheng player Wu Tong. The sheng is a traditional Chinese mouth-blown free reed vertical pipe wind instrument.
Christopher was delighted to look at ways he could adapt Mirror Mirror to meet this brief and work in this dynamically different context.
The show needed to highlight the styling and proportions of the cars and create a great ambience and anticipation for the reveal, so they developed a series of three-dimensional tableaux that would interplay with artefacts from automotive environments, like streets, landscapes, architecture and nature.
The 52 mirrors, each controlled by three custom Kinetic Lights winches were arranged in a 7x7 grid over the stage with the Pointes rigged in three rows of seven fixtures – 21 a side – on stage left and right of the presentation area.
Unlike previous shows, in this setup they had a completely symmetric and square shaped arrangement that was designed to fit the wider-angle shape of a presentation that was focused on the cars.
The installation covered a surface area of 400 square metres with a volumetric height of eight metres.
The 42 Pointes and single MegaPointe were used to create the 3D light tableaux in different sections of the show.
The first row of Pointes each side was two metres off the floor, the next was 4 and the final one was 6 metres, with around a metre of horizontal space between each fixture.
The MegaPointe was used to create a large ‘7’ sculpted from light using the mid-size beam reducer gobo for the show finale. It was mounted beneath the stage that was covered in a glass sheet so the cars could roll over it.
The MegaPointe beam shot diagonally into the roof and was deflected by a 45-degree mirror which flipped it into a horizontal beam. The end of the beam was defined by a black stopper plate also attached to three of the kinetic winches, enabling the ‘7’ to appear in split seconds out of thin air just like magic!
Christopher loves Pointes for this type of installation for their flexibility, brightness and compact size. In addition to this and ‘Mirror Mirror’ he also utilised Pointes at last year’s SKALAR immersive kinetic light art installation in Berlin.
The MegaPointe he chose for its flexibility and specifically its CMY colour mixing and multiple beam shaping options, together with the “super-bright and sharply defined flat-field beam”. He underlines that these characteristics are particularly important when working with light as a material combined with beams and haze to make clear lines in a space.
“It’s really perfect for solo highlight effects like this,” he stated, where they required one searing beam to be reflected along multiple mirrors and bend in mid-air.
Kinetic Lights' own bespoke KLC Software was used to animate, control and safety check the whole system and all elements involved, which allowed super-fast calibration of the moving lights and mirrors on the motorised winches, all in one control environment.
Christopher explained that it’s especially important to have a reliable and fast method to synchronize both lights and kinetic elements whilst moving everything at the same time in a 3D space.
They used the system’s integrated real-time 3D visualisation for pre-programming of the show, including all the physically correct angles for the effects of the reflected light beams, and this meant that once on site, they only needed to make minor adjustments to transfer the computer-generated show into the real space.
The main overall challenges of the project were the short setup window (three overnight sessions) in which they had to install and calibrate a complex interconnected system. This included the 153 winch motors and direct ArtNet cabling in the roof of the building, and the 43 moving lights running via DMX from the three rows each side of the stage.
Each Pointe could hit any mirror at any time in full motion, so once calibration was complete, they ensured that all the Pointes were corrected to match their digital simulation.
Christopher admits that he enjoys the long, late nights when he, the core team and the crew are alone in the venue fine tuning and finessing the many details of the show.
“We look at every motion and light animation individually and maximise the detail of every aspect of its programming.”
It is also only working in actual reality that they can fully appreciate the effects that were created in the visualiser software. Only at that stage do they know for sure if the sounds match the power and output of the lights at certain moments or if the colours and intensity will support the dramaturgy and chorography of the show.
The show hit the spot with the audience and the clients, with all on the production side extremely happy. “I think we captured the spirit of modernity and forward thinking that BMW has out right at the core of the car, and that was our mission,” concludes Christopher.
This was achieved with a unique collaboration of theatre, movement, light art, industrial engineering, expression and imagination.
19th March 2019
Kansas Heads to the ‘Point of Know Return’ with Bandit Lites
USA – Bandit Lites is thrilled to once again light the legendary American rock band KANSAS as they expand the Point of Know Return Anniversary Tour with a spring leg. Named after the iconic, sextuple-platinum album, the 2.5-hour show features Point of Know Return performed in its entirety along with deep cuts and classics from their expansive discography.
“After the success of the album Leftoverture, it was hard to imagine when we released Point of Know Return that this album would be even bigger, but it was," comments KANSAS guitarist, and original member, Richard Williams in a press release. "From the album artwork to the song, ‘Dust in the Wind,' the album Point of Know Return is really ingrained in Rock N Roll history and even in popular culture.”
Lighting designer Scott Pearson is no stranger to lighting the band having crafted their stunning Leftoverture production.
“I’m very fortunate with KANSAS, as they let me design without limit,” said Pearson. “If I program something questionable, such as quick bright moves, or blackouts, I run it by the management for final approval.”
Bandit Lites provided Wildfire Blacklite WF 101 fixtures, Martin MAC Viper Profiles, GLP X4S fixtures and Elation CuePix WW2 Blinders. The band is also carrying an additional fourteen Elation SixPars to light the set pieces along with an Obsidian Controls M6 for control.
“I really like the GLP X4S fixture,” said Pearson. “The colours are very rich and they’re a quick fixture.”
And just like the previous productions, the Point of Know Return Anniversary Tour features three very distinct movements within the two and half hour show, meaning Pearson needed to program three different levels of looks.
“Anyone who catches one of Scott’s shows will be shown a master class in precision and creativity,” said Bandit client representative Shawn Lear. “His ability to build fresh looks and effects so the show is still surprising people well into the concert is a testament to his skills.”
“Working with Bandit is always a pleasure,” finished Pearson. “Shawn Lear and project manager Matt King take extremely good care of us.”
19th March 2019
Ayrton MagicBlade-R key to Haywyre’s Discovery + Form Tour
USA - American musician, music producer, composer and DJ, Martin Vogt – known by his stage name of Haywyre – hit the road this February with his Discovery + Form tour to mark the release of his latest series of EPs, Panorama, in November 2018.
Kicking off at The Crocodile in Seattle on 22 February, the tour runs for 17 dates culminating on 22 March at the U Street Music Hall in Washington DC. The venues throughout the tour vary in size from the 350-capacity Catalyst Atrium in Santa Cruz to the 800-seat EchoPlex in Los Angeles.
To maintain the visual integrity of the production between venues, lighting designer, Taylor (Brotay) Copp chose Ayrton MagicBlade-R fixtures, supplied by Hivemind Lux LLC, as his highly versatile key lights. “We mount the MagicBlade-Rs on to black poles on either side of the stage,” says Eric Bindman, Haywyre’s tour manager. “We can up- or down-scale this arrangement to suit each venue, and because it requires no overhead truss, we can fit into the smallest room.
“The complete scaleability of the design means we can keep true to the identity of the show design without having to rework the set from venue to venue. This is really important, firstly because Haywyre relies heavily on our visual cues, and secondly because it ensures we can deliver the same standard of show to every venue regardless of size. The MagicBlades are totally instrumental in keeping the promoters and the artist happy!”
Bindman first encountered MagicBlade fixtures on stage at a festival in Canada. “I found them incredibly intuitive and very versatile, so as soon as Taylor said he wanted to design the Haywyre Discovery + Form Tour stage around them, I loved the idea. I knew that not only would they be a perfect foil to Haywyre’s style, but also a fantastically versatile touring light.”
Haywyre’s musical style is eclectic and experimental, crossing genres and continents as it encompasses a synthesis of jazz, classical and contemporary electronic music, with keyboards and keytar as his chosen instruments.
The unusual shape and properties of the MagicBlade-R prove the ideal lighting tool for Brotay to echo this style, as he uses them to frame the artist, alternating dramatic cross light with dynamic and static configurations, running chases and video content through the linear faces of the fixtures as well as mixing up the style with position and alignment.
“We wanted to have something that really allows our stage design to stand out from those of other artists out there,” Brotay says. “Many of the venues we are visiting don’t have movers, and using the MagicBlades in this way enables us to bring something new and exciting to these spaces.
“The MagicBlade-R’s pixel mapping capabilities have been an incredible feature. Not only can you drop media into the lighting program, but you can control it from Resolume as well. This allows me to really bridge the gap between lights and visuals.”
Aesthetically the MagicBlades are a great crowd engagement tool. “During the keytar solo in Tell Me, Haywyre walks upstage into cross stage shafts of light as we are outputting red, green and blue chases from the MagicBlades to throw a rainbow onto the artist. It’s a completely different way of using the light and the crowd reaction has always been exceptional!”
Bindman and his team have been impressed with the handling of the MagicBlade-R fixtures on tour. “They are a breeze to work with, and their tour worthiness and ease of set up has been extremely valuable,” he says. “We are a small team, so easy handling and quick set up is vital. The MagicBlades are so intuitive to work with that no experience of handling them is necessary, and they are engineered so well that they are easy to rig even after a long drive and little sleep, a benefit which speaks for itself on tour!
“The MagicBlades have proved physically durable and extremely reliable, and capable of surviving a rigorous nationwide tour through all regions in the heart of winter,” confirms Bindman. “They are always ready to go as soon as you get them out of the box and we’ve had no issues with them. That says enough about their durability!”
photos: © @tpacfilms
19th March 2019
SES Redesigns Zac Brown Band Touring Rig withVersatile Claypaky Scenius Unicos
USA – Special Event Services (SES), headquartered in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, has sent a large complement of Claypaky Scenius Unico, Claypaky Mythos 2 and Claypaky Sharpy fixtures on tour with American country group Zac Brown Band. ACT Lighting Inc. is the exclusive North American distributor of Claypaky.
Zac Brown Band has commenced the second leg of its “Down the Rabbit Hole Live” tour, the group’s fifth headlining concert tour, in support of its fifth studio album, “Welcome Home.” “Down the Rabbit Hole Live” launched last summer; the new 15-date leg kicked off on 1 March in Tulsa, Oklahoma and wraps up in Peoria on 27 April. Zac Brown Band won’t be idle for long, the just announced “Owl Tour” begins in Indianapolis at the end of May and will play 36 dates in North America through October.
SES is the lighting vendor for the band; its sister company Special Event Transportation (SET) serves as the trucking company.
“We’ve worked with Zac Brown Band for the last 10 years, including the first leg of ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’,” says Jeff Cranfill, Co-founder and vice president of SES. “The design team has redesigned the rig for 2019 with ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ merging into the ‘Owl Tour’.”
Bruce Rodgers is the production designer for Zac Brown Band, Chris Cockrill the lighting designer and Diego Pernia the creative director. Rodgers’s new set for the tour features “Moving LED walls and trusses that create a variety of scenic changes throughout the show,” Cranfill explains.
SES has added 53 Claypaky Scenius Unico fixtures to the new rig. “Chris [Cockrill] asked me for some options; he wanted to move away from the standard spots we’ve used for the past few years,” says Cranfill. “We had already done a number of tours with Unicos: Ed Sheeran’s current tour (partnered with LCR from the UK), the 2018 Rod Stewart tour, the 2018 Niall Horan tour and the current Luke Combs tour. We had also done some TV ministry events where I was the lighting designer and needed a framing spot that was TV-friendly, and I fell in love with the light. I told Chris that I felt the Unico was the best choice for the tour, and he agreed. So Unico is now the spot for the rig.”
SES invested heavily Unicos, and Cranfill has been “very impressed” by the fixture. “It’s a big, bright light that performs incredibly well: the optics, beam and colour mixing are so smooth and manageable. With one light I can do everything from very saturated beamy rock & roll looks to lighting people with a camera-friendly, softer light. I love the animation wheel with the asymmetrical patterns, and when you combine it with gobos you still net a good amount of output. I really benefit from the framing shutters and diffusion filters as well. The diffusion is very smooth with great output and the framing shutters are very accurate and easy to adjust. Unico is great choice as an all-around fixture for our needs.”
SES also added 36 Claypaky Mythos 2 and 16 Sharpy fixtures to the Zac Brown rig for beam effects and dynamic looks.
Francesco Romagnoli, Claypaky area manager for North and Latin America, added: “SES are huge supporters of ours and we’re proud that the team is using our fixtures for this amazing tour!”
19th March 2019
RIVAGE PM7 Raises the Bar For Norway’s Live Production Market
Norway – With a climate ranging from polar to temperate oceanic and humid continental, live production equipment has to endure challenging conditions in Norway, especially in the touring market. Production house Amas Produksjon Lyd & Lys needs mixing consoles that it can totally rely on and is proud to be the first Norwegian rental house to offer the RIVAGE PM7 system.
Based a short distance from Bergen, the rainiest city in Europe, the company is a long-term user of Yamaha mixing consoles.
“We have tried mixers from different manufacturers over the years, but we ended up using only Yamaha because the quality is so high. We can completely trust them,” says the company's general manager Morten Egil Paulsen. “We have never had a single crash or other issue with a Yamaha console, which isn’t something we have experienced with other manufacturers products.”
One example of this reliability happened in January, when the company’s technical head Harald Hole mixed a festival with a Yamaha QL1 and Rio3224-D on the island of Svalbard, which is midway between mainland Norway and the North Pole. “It was bitterly cold outside, very warm and humid inside, but the console and I/O rack worked perfectly. It’s the only place in the Norwegian territory where you can meet a polar bear in the middle of a city centre,” smiles Harald.
With Amas Produksjon’s inventory of Yamaha CL, QL and TF mixers at work on many events, investing in RIVAGE PM7 was the obvious way for the company to increase its capacity and, at the same time, step up a level and help to raise the standards of the Norwegian event market. Morten and Harald contacted Yamaha Scandinavia’s Tomas Nylen and the new RIVAGE PM7 system was quickly put to work.
“RIVAGE PM7 is a flagship product, with many new and improved features, but it is still easily recognisable for anyone who has used a Yamaha console,” says Harald. “The workflow is outstanding, it’s easily the fastest console that I have ever worked on.”
“We like how we can customise the console layout and there is such a good selection of high quality plug-ins that you can always find the right tools to solve any task,” he continues. “We love the magic of the new DaNSe dynamic noise suppressor plug-in. We have also been really impressed by the RND SILK processing and the selected channel section is great. It really brings back the feeling of working on analogue consoles.”
Morten, Harald and the team have already received many bookings and enquiries for the busy summer festival season and are looking forward to showing the Norwegian market how RIVAGE PM7’s enhanced facilities, backed up with Yamaha’s legendary reliability, is a great festival solution.
“Yamaha consoles are a better long-term investment than mixers by other brands. Just look at the PM5D, which is still up and running worldwide, and we have an M7CL-48 that is still earning money for us. We are sure that RIVAGE PM7 will be at work with us for just as long,” says Morten.
In picture: Yamaha Scandinavia's Tomas Nylen with Morten Egil Paulsen and Harald Hole.
19th March 2019
L-Acoustics Tops the Rider Lists for DCR Nashville’s Clients
USA – Founded in 2004, Digital Console Rental Inc. was rebranded in 2017 as DCR Nashville to reflect the company’s evolution from a source for high-end digital audio consoles to the AVL solutions provider it is today. DCR Nashville now supports more than two-dozen touring artists and continues to grow its inventory with the industry’s most rider-friendly products, including the company’s significant recent investment in L-Acoustics K2, Kara, and Kiva II loudspeaker systems.
The new Certified Provider’s initial investment into L-Acoustics is substantial: 32 K2, 24 Kara, and 32 Kiva II line source array enclosures, 16 KS28, eight K1-SB, and six SB15m subs, and a dozen coaxial X15 HiQ stage wedges, further rounded out by nine LA-RAK II touring racks and a pair of the manufacturer’s brand new P1 processors.
“The addition of L-Acoustics to our inventory offering will provide us with increased opportunities, not only in support of our existing clients, but it will also introduce our company to a broader client base,” says DCR Nashville owner Howard Jones. “L-Acoustics is a very popular choice with today’s top touring artists, and with its loudspeakers representing a perfect blend of fidelity, coverage, and optimal size-to-weight ratio, we can easily see why. L-Acoustics is the right loudspeaker manufacturer for us to partner with to strengthen the DCR Nashville brand moving forward.”
Upon taking delivery of the new systems, L-Acoustics touring application engineer Vic Wagner spent four days at DCR Nashville bringing the company up to speed on its new gear. “Vic trained our team on all system aspects from design using Soundvision to the use of LA Network Manager to optimal deployment of K2, Kara and Kiva II,” notes DCR Nashville General Manager John Schirmer. “When he left, most of our crew had become certified system technicians. Vic was great to spend time with, extremely patient, and tremendously knowledgeable.”
Between numerous festival dates in the spring, as well as supporting its existing touring clients, DCR Nashville’s new loudspeaker systems are quickly being spoken for. In addition, the company is actively servicing the L-Acoustics cross-rental network with its inventory, including its coaxial X15 HiQ monitor wedges.
“To date, we have deployed the X15 with touring clients and on our corporate events quite extensively,” Schirmer says. “They have immediately begun working for us, and our clients absolutely love them. Clients are impressed with the tonal quality and high SPL capabilities of the wedges, as well as how compact and light they are compared to other products in the industry. We also just deployed them on a 500-person corporate event as a distributed speaker option and the results were spectacular, landing us a long-term corporate client. The X15 HiQ are game changers for us. They are so versatile, working as stage monitors one week and as small PA systems the next, greatly expanding the versatility of our inventory.”
As a very intentional part of its loudspeaker upgrade, DCR Nashville is offering AVB system deployment upon request, hence the new addition of two L-Acoustics P1 units. “P1 has the ability to provide for us a variety of versatile and useful system functions as well as distribution protocols,” Schirmer continues. “We are using the P1 on the front end of our PAs to offer our systems techs a deeper processing level to the system by incorporating the EQ station along with LA Network Manager. Whether a client wants AES, Analog or AVB, we have them covered and can deploy a system that best meets their needs.”
When not deployed with one of DCR Nashville’s own clients, the new L-Acoustics systems will be hot commodities on the manufacturer’s rental network. “We’re very excited to be a part of the Certified Provider network and larger L-Acoustics family, and we look forward to sharing our inventory with our partners for years to come,” says Jones. “We make a commitment to having the best product offerings in the industry, and L-Acoustics now allows us the opportunity to provide the best in PA solutions.”
“DCR has been an indispensable staple in Nashville, as a support for cross-rental and touring, and we are pleased to welcome them to our growing roster of KX standard-class certified providers for the touring and corporate rental markets,” adds L-Acoustics regional sales manager B.J. Shaver.
19th March 2019
Optocore Madi Converters Penetrate the World of Amélie
Germany – Staged at Munich’s Werk 7 theatre, Die Fabelhafte Welt der Amélie (The Fabulous World of Amélie) is a complete re-realisation of the musical version of the popular movie, Amélie, incorporating the original score and book by Daniel Messé, along with music from the composer of the film, Jann Tiersen.
Paul Gatehouse was asked to create the sound design by Simone Linhof, the creative producer at Stage Entertainment, Germany, and as part of the complex audio design he deployed a pair of Optocore’s DD4MR-FX to give him the large quantity of MADI channels required.
Speaking of the production, Gatehouse said: “I’ve worked with Simone and Stage Entertainment many times over the years and I was thrilled to be asked to design this production.
“The real attraction was the brief created by the producers and Christoph Drewitz, our director. They wanted the production to feel deeply organic and hand-made, and the music had to have a rich acoustic texture, with the cast performing a lot of the sound effects vocally or with props in real time. I also really liked the songs Daniel has written, and after hearing Will Stuart’s orchestration demos, I was in!”
Stage Entertainment had done an excellent job in transforming the intimate space, and the show that was in the theatre previously had laid a lot of the ground work in terms of acoustic treatment and layout of the rigging grid.
The main driver that informed the approach to Paul Gatehouse’s sound design, and in particular the speaker positioning, was the placement of the five-piece band in the open, on a raised balcony, which was scenically designed to look like a living room space and a kitchen. “This ties them into the action and we were determined to not screen them off and to manage their acoustic level at source,” he said. “Therefore I knew that I needed a split system to reinforce the band from their location and a separate vocal system ‘in the round’ to reinforce the cast vocals with good imaging to the three sided performance area.”
Stage Entertainment hold a large inventory of sound equipment and the designer elected to use their KV2 SL412 loudspeakers as the main system, along with smaller KV2 speakers (EX26, EX6, ESD25, ES6, ES5) as fills and delays.
“I’m a long time DiGiCo user and rely on the 'T' theatre software as the backbone of my workflow, so we reached a good place where I could add some of my tools to their stock, mainly the SD10T and UAD-2 Live Racks, which I use to process plug-ins via inserts and are a big part of the sound.”
Stage Ent also own a StageTec Nexus system, which he describes as “an incredible eco-system of physical I/O boxes and a routing matrix. Its internal connections run on fibre but we needed an interface to get in and out of the Nexus via MADI.”
This is where the Optocore DD4MR-FX units come in. “The Optocore devices gave us 128 inputs and outputs of MADI to fibre conversion at 96kHz, by using two units on an optical loop. The DD4s sit between our DiGiCo SD10 console and StageTec Nexus StarRouter, which handles all our physical I/O and signal routing. These interfaces are incredibly easy to configure and always feel rock solid.
“In fact every show I do generally has an Optocore device somewhere in the system, whether it’s the integrated fibre loop of our DiGiCo console network, MADI interfacing to provide I/O to orchestra monitor mixing systems or MADI multi-track capture at FOH to work offline with material from the show. As the DD4 units sit in such a vital point in the chain, I’d always reach for an Optocore converter and feel confident about how they are going to perform.”
This is important, he states, as their sound reinforcement systems are getting more and more complex with high levels of resolution in the digital audio chain as well as the I/O count. “Having reliability in these large systems is top priority, the DD4s handle this without issue. We are using well over 96 ins and outs, which is sizeable for a small cast and band, but it was great to have the full 128 I/O capacity of two DD4 units available to us.”
Production is using several different signal transmission formats: MADI for all cast and band sources at the console, as well as MADI out of the console back into the Nexus. “We have Dante for our Q-Lab inputs and then AES outputs to drive our Galileo loudspeaker management.”
Paul Gatehouse was assisted by production sound engineer, Marcus Giesen. “He did an amazing job of installing the system at Werk7. He has a great knowledge of all the equipment we use and is a vital part of the team. Dennis Schmidt mixes the show, along with Alex and David who also look after our radio mics and cast requirements backstage.”
photos: Franziska Hain
19th March 2019
Minsk's Prime Hall Turns on its PR Lighting Rig for J:Mors
Belarus – Since the mid-2000's J:Mors has been one of the most enduring Belarusian rock bands, with a long list of hits, tours and awards behind them. They play melodic rock songs with romantic lyrics in Russian and Belarusian, written mainly by the band's leader Vladimir Pugach.
More recently J:Mors played a concert called ‘Kryly’ (‘Wings’ in Belarusian), named after the single of the same name, in the in the Prime Hall concert hall in Minsk. The programme included both new songs and the most popular songs from their archive.
The lighting design was handled by the band's long-time collaborator, Alexander Bobel, director of the GrandLight Studio. Vladimir Pugach had asked for something unusual and GrandLight Studio developed the entire concept, starting with the ideas, equipment and implementation, ending with a final flash of blinder. Assisting him were numerous products from the PR Lighting portfolio.
The designer's partnership with PR Lighting equipment began several ago, with equipment provided by a rental company. “At that time the XL 1200 was available, and since then I have implemented many projects at Prime Hall using PR Lighting equipment,” he says. “PR Lighting devices perfectly suit the riders of most artists, and there has never been any problem with co-ordination. Every time I have operated their lights, they have proven themselves in all respects.”
The concert hall also invested in its own PR Lighting technology, and so in this instance he used the in-house equipment. “It made no sense to change the types of devices, since the PR Lighting equipment, namely the XS 1200 Spot, XR300 Beam and XLED 3109 Zoom, cope perfectly with their tasks. They deliver excellent colours, excellent brightness and speed of movement. The XLED 3109 is a device legendary in its resilience. It has been working in the concert hall for four years and as far as I know it has never needed repair.”
A total of ten XLED 3109s were deployed, four in the booms and six on the back truss. “Those mounted on the cases were used as shooting devices and for spectacular shadows on faces, which we achieved with the help of dimmer and colour effects, since we decided to abandon the front light.
“We used 24 XR 300 Beam, which were used to obtain pictures in space and geometric shapes in support of the [aviation theme] content on the screen (as well as a spectacular picture in those moments when the screen was not used).” Bobel also deployed 13 of PR Lighting’s XS 1200 Spot. “The gobo, made it possible to make the scene more mysterious and interesting,” he explained, “and by changing the angle of the beam, we could enhance the geometric effect.” Six XLED 3108 instruments on the back-up truss were used to focus on musicians and for general stage fills, while four separate blinders and four stroboscopes provided the additional punch.
It was another resounding success, both for Alexander Bobel, the Prime Hall technical infrastructure and J:Mors themselves, as the crowd of 3,000 fans went home elated.
photos: Shumaev Andrey
19th March 2019
DiGiCo wins across the board at The BRITs
UK – DiGiCo consoles were specified throughout the entire 2019 BRIT Awards. Staged at the O2 Arena, the production acknowledges the best in musical talent and this year counted The Carters, Drake and Ed Sheeran among its winners.
The evening’s live mixes, which were also broadcast live on TV, saw Hugh Jackman, George Ezra, Jess Glynne and The 1975 and other top artists perform with the sound of DiGiCo.
“The BRIT Awards is always a tricky show; being able to balance artists’ needs with simplicity and continuity throughout is hard to achieve,” states Colin Pink, The BRITs long-standing live sound supervisor. “This year, every sound desk was a DiGiCo, which allowed the production to feel much more elegant than in the past.”
The consoles, deployed by Britannia Row Productions which has been The BRITs’ audio supplier for over 20 years, were two SD7s at FOH with an SD7 Quantum surface, two SD12s at FOH for the presenters, hosts and acceptance speeches, and two further SD7s in monitor world flip-flopping between live performances.
The 1975 brought in an SD5 for their monitoring duties and P!nk’s pre-recorded section was handled via her own SD12 by FOH engineer Dave Bracey, a long-time DiGiCo user.
“The advances that the Quantum Engine bring to the flagship SD7 allow so much more flexibility and simplicity to these multi-band gigs,” Colin continues. “It’s a great asset to the DiGiCo brand.”
Lez Dwight, Britannia Row sales director, joins the conversation: “This year’s BRITs really benefited from a unique and brilliant production design from Misty Buckley. Her set was very favourable for an emphasis on quality live audio.
“The show went very well, with no technical issues whatsoever, in no small part due to DiGiCo’s expert presence. DiGiCo artist liaison manager, Mark Saunders, and product specialist Dave Bigg, provided instant, on-site support.”
Lez is keen to highlight the benefits of working with DiGiCo kit: “As well as the show being completely DiGiCo this year, it was also the first time we’ve ever used 32-bit cards across the whole range of consoles on a live production.
“Britannia Row has worked with DiGiCo for a very long time, as has our worldwide network within Clair Global. It’s the console that the majority of engineers are very happy to use, which is important for a multi-act show like this. The 1975 requested to bring their own monitor desk in, and as their preferred console is an SD5, it worked with the production perfectly. The Live sound quality this year was truly exceptional.”
19th March 2019
NRG crew take on the TPI Awards 2019
UK – Demonstrating the creativity and enthusiasm of the next generation, for the third year running, a number of NRG (Next Robe Generation) crew members made a significant contribution to the production of the highest profile evening event of the industry calendar: the TPI Awards 2019.
Held at Battersea Evolution in London, and welcoming over 1,600 guests, the evening was attended by a ‘who’s who’ of the industry. The lighting rig was a Robe spectacular, with over 300 fixtures specified by Robe’s in-house media and lighting designer Nathan Wan in order to meet the brief from TPI. And Nathan again offered the opportunity for a select number of NRG crew to join the Robe production team.
“We totally appreciate this is a high pressure, high profile opportunity for students to get involved in when they are still in the midst of their studies, but we love the fact that those who took on the roles rose to the challenge and then some,” says Nathan. “Their overall approach to the project and the roles we gave them was exceptional and their enthusiasm to present their design and technical skills to a ‘highly opinionated’ audience was contagious.”
This year’s team of six NRG crew included Alex Merrett, in his final year at University of South Wales, Owen Yelland also in his final year from Rose Bruford College, Ben Linwood from Guildford School of Acting and Espen Karlsen from Rose Bruford College. It was also encouraging to welcome two female crew members, Jasmine Williams a final year student from Royal Welsh College Music & Drama and LIPA’s Georgia Wren.
Alex had been part of the NRG crew last year, designing and operating the main bar at the TPI Awards 2018 and this year he re-applied and was successfully appointed as assistant lighting designer working alongside Nathan, and associate LD Andy Webb. He couldn’t resist the chance to get involved again. “It is a great opportunity to work with some incredibly talented people and to learn some invaluable skills including new methods of programming and how fine-tuning the attention to detail makes all the difference. The pressure was on for impressing the very knowledgeable audience but having said that the highlight for me has to have been seeing the whole production and all the hard work come together on the night,” he says. “Overall I can honestly say the experience has been completely amazing and an unforgettable highlight in my student career,” he concludes.
Another member of the NRG crew who also had prior experience of the TPI Awards was Owen, who reprised his role as systems technician for the production. Owen didn’t think twice about applying again. “I saw it as a further opportunity to expand my experience of looking after the systems being used on the event, and to work for a second time with Kling-Net by ArKaos. In addition to which I was head RoboSpot operator and so I now have hands-on experience of configuring the RoboSpots; I can honestly say I was bowled over by how easy they are to set up and operate, what a great piece of kit!”
Espen was asked to light, programme and operate the main bar of the TPI Awards. As an international student and fairly new member of NRG, he knew this would be a great way to build his UK industry contacts. He was impressed that the opportunity presented the chance to demonstrate his skills with a WYSIWYG challenge as well as benefiting from a two-day Avolites training course. The experience has also provided him first-hand insight into how productions and load-ins work in the UK. “I think these student opportunities being offered by a large company like Robe through NRG is admirable and you get a lot of insight into their fixtures as well as some invaluable experience into how a large production on a corporate event of this nature works,” he comments. “It really helps students learn first-hand whilst studying, so they are far better placed to step straight into their career when they graduate. And I have met a lot of people who I hope will help me further my career. I definitely want to do more live events as a result of this experience.”
Espen was supported in his role by Guildford School of Acting student Ben who comments that it was: “Really a very simple decision to make to apply for a role on the TPI NRG team. Although there was definitely extra pressure with this job because it was in front of so many industry professionals I admire and aspire to be like!”
“I’ve learnt loads and I have taken away a huge amount of insight into scheduling and the management of such a large event. The NRG initiative adds experience and learning that you can’t get in a lecture hall. It teaches the importance of networking with fellow students and industry professionals, and is helping to draw the future generation of professionals closer together,” says Ben.
Jasmine and Georgia collaborated on the lighting design, programming and operation for the important Robe VIP Lounge which was opened up to invited guests after the main awards.
“This opportunity has exceeded my expectations and given me the opportunity to learn new skills I wouldn’t otherwise have had the opportunity to do so and I feel more capable and confident in my skillset as a result,” smiles Georgia. “It was inspiring to hear people compliment my work in the VIP lounge and say they can see I have a future in the industry – wow!”
“My tutor encouraged me to go for this opportunity and it pushed me right outside my comfort zone,” explains Jasmine. “When I met Ashley Lewis from Robe and Nicky Rowland from NRG at RWCMD last year, they were encouraging more female technicians to get involved. I admire this inclusive approach and it provided me with an extra boost to apply.”
“Plus Georgia and I had a chance to play with the brand new T1 fixtures in the VIP lounge, as well as operating the RoboSpots in the main ceremony, what a fantastic creation,” enthuses Jasmine. “Nathan also encouraged us to go with our instincts on our designs given the tight timelines and this really gave us confidence in what was otherwise a slightly overwhelming challenge! Everyone was really supportive.”
All the NRG team are delighted to have been involved. “Once more the experience far exceeded my expectations and it was extremely slick. In a word it has been amazing,” stated Owen. “It’s been unforgettable,” agrees Ben, “this kind of industry engagement keeps you excited and passionate about going into the industry at the end of your studies.”
Georgia continues: “I have greater belief in myself because of this opportunity. I realise I have got the knowledge to fulfil any lighting technician role I put myself forward for. It’s been exhilarating and enlightening.”
As far as the overall NRG scheme is involved, all the students agree that it is a great initiative.
Alex has been part of NRG for quite a while and champions the programme. “I’ve attended as many socials as I can and have taken up as many of the opportunities which are offered through NRG as I can. It’s great to be able to meet other students from around the country on different courses and to meet so many industry professionals who are happy to give advice and help on how to establish yourself within the industry. NRG offers the opportunity to learn valuable skills, provide insights into the industry, build a network and choose the right path to get to where you want to be. All I can say to my fellow students is get as involved as you can and as much as your timetable permits.”
“Robe and NRG have grasped how important it is to involve young professionals in the industry and give them insight into what working life will be like after their studies,” says Georgia. “It’s a fantastic initiative to involve young talent in such high profile projects.”
Owen agrees that: “It’s great to be able to connect with other young technicians at different stages in their studies, but also an incredible way to meet many industry professionals and get advice from them. It is really helping me fine-tune exactly which part of the industry I would like to head into when I graduate this summer. And as if that isn’t enough, the experiences I have gained working on the TPI Awards has provided invaluable hands-on research to help me complete my dissertation on systems and protocols.”
Jasmine agrees. “NRG enables young technicians to engage with the insight, experience and knowledge of the industry professionals that NRG allows us to network with. Being part of the TPI team through NRG has been eye opening, inspiring and an experience that has 110% shown me that I have chosen the right career. And I’m inspired to champion inclusivity and more female students and individuals of ethnic minorities getting involved in NRG and technical roles in the production industry, and to promote overall diversity in the industry.”
“I would encourage any students to apply for this opportunity if they have the chance next year, the whole event is great fun to work on and Nathan, Andy and all the team are amazing to work with,” adds Owen.
“Go for it; you have nothing to lose and it’s a truly memorable experience,” exclaimed Georgia.
“Be ready for some hard work, but also some very fun work,” adds Espen. “And a massive thank you to NRG, Nathan and Andy for treating us so well and giving us the opportunity to be a part of a production of this scale.”
“I think that the NRG framework is a magnificent idea,” comments Georgia. “I was impressed with the way the programme is run and how the NRG crew members are treated like professionals and are as well regarded as everyone else on the team,” she adds.
“Absolutely,” agrees Ben. “The NRG and Robe team really did look after us and made the experience as rewarding as possible. So a huge thank you to them too!”
Mick Hannaford, managing director Robe UK continues to be impressed by the calibre of the NRG students who take on the roles at TPI. “NRG is now an established and growing community for the next generation of young technicians. This is the third year we have offered some NRG crew members the opportunity to get involved in this high profile industry event. It is an extremely important showcase for Robe, and so we are putting our faith in their skills and abilities. And every year they have exceeded our expectations. I am struck by their enthusiasm, their maturity, their energy and their knowledge. They are determined and they are focused on their career choice. It provides a sense of confidence that our industry’s future is in good hands.”
Nathan has the final word: “Working with the young technicians who are engaged with NRG has been a pleasure, they have been inspiring themselves with their energy and their determination. They brought fresh perspectives and vitality to the team and I wish them luck in their future careers.”
In picture: top row: Owen Yelland, Georgia Wren, Nathan Wan, Espen Karlsen, Tomáš Kohout, Ben Linwood and Jasmine Williams, bottom row: Alex Merrett and Andy Webb. photo: TPi Magazine
Jasmine Williams, Alex Merrett, Andy Webb, Espen Karlsen, Ben Linwood, Nathan Wan, Owen Yelland, Tomáš Kohout and Georgia Wren. photo: Lindsay Cave
18th March 2019
Outline’s Superfly Arrives in Eastern Europe
Poland – Poznań-based Gigant Sound Letus have made a further major investment in Outline loudspeakers, adding 36 of the company’s groundbreaking new Superfly design plus 16 DBS 18-2 sub-bass enclosures to their rental inventory. In combination with their existing stocks they now boast the largest inventory of Outline GTO-series products in Europe.
The Polish company was founded in 1993 by owner Jurek Taborowski (pictured), and services a variety of domestic clients in numerous fields in addition to other projects in Eastern Europe and even as far afield as the US. Now employing over 30 people, the company also works extensively in television.
Taborowski commented: “Considering the extremely small dimensions (height 24cm), the weight – only 38kg – and the number of components used (2 x 10", 2 x 8", 1 x 3") Superfly is an absolute leader in the audio market in its construction concept and ease of configuration. Dynamics, the range and purity of the sound is unquestionable.
“In particular, the power and accuracy of Superfly compared to its size and weight makes it ideal for our television work, where we often have to put in systems that cannot be easily seen but which must properly cover quite large areas. Superfly is perfect for this, but can also handle many other types of project for us.”
He concludes: “I have owned and used Outline systems for many years and they have served my company very well - I have always liked the way they sound and how easy they are to use. Superfly is I think a natural development for Outline and combines all the good things about their products into a single system that will work very hard for my business.”
18th March 2019
Blue Audio Ensures Bright Future for Resonate Music Conference with Chauvet Professional Maverick
UK – Simple Minds, Franz Ferdinand and Primal Scream are just some of the internationally acclaimed acts to have come from Glasgow’s thriving independent music scene. To celebrate and safeguard the rich musical pedigree of Glasgow (Scotland’s de facto music capital), the Resonate Music conference was launched in 2017 by local artist management consultancy 23rd Precinct Music.
For this year's event at the Barras Art and Design Centre (a former warehouse turned creative hub and winner of the highly acclaimed “Most Stylish Venue” award), local production house Blue Audio was brought on board to create an inspiring set of visuals to reflect Glasgow’s position as the bastion of Scottish independent music. Central to achieving this goal were six Chauvet Professional Maverick MK1 Spot fixtures, which served to provide a number of visual highlights throughout the event.
Centred around the inner courtyard of the Barras Art and Design Centre, the event provided a supportive platform for Scotland’s emerging young musical talent. It also hosted distinguished guests and panel discussions.
"Because the lighting at the previous conference was somewhat one dimensional, organisers this year wanted to create a more professional visual environment to reflect the conference’s growth in stature,” commented Nadar Shahzad, project manager at Blue Audio. “Our decision to include the Maverick Spots within our lighting rig allowed us to provide a number of key accentuations to the overall atmosphere within the conference, along with a little extra eye candy to create some interesting visuals."
Thanks to the Maverick's 350W engine, CMY + CTO colour mixing and two six-position rotating slot and lock gobo wheels, Nadar and his team had a whole host of tools at their disposal to create both visual emphasis and depth for the stage.
“To draw attention to the stage, we utilised the Maverick’s sharp beams to create a striking yet simple feel,” continued Shahzad. ”As the client didn't want loads of flashy lights, we concentrated on using the intensity of the Maverick beams to provide consistent yet powerful throws of light to draw attention to the conference speakers and panel discussions.”
With the overall goals of the conference ultimately revolving around supporting new music, creative business development and artistic networking, Shahzad and his team utilised the extensive colour palette of the Maverick to introduce flourishes of colour into the proceedings in an attempt to foster a warm and inviting atmosphere.
“While we were limited in terms of utilising the full extent of the Maverick’s features, we did, however, manage to make use of the vivid saturated colour effects to provide warm tones for the stage,” continued Shahzad. “This was especially useful between panel discussions, where the mood was more relaxed. It certainly engendered a more sociable and inviting atmosphere for guests.”
With one of the panels entitled “Future of the Music Industries,” it’s clear that the focus of the conference was very much on securing a promising future for the industry and its artists in Scotland. Thanks to their intelligent incorporation of the Maverick fixtures within the Barras Art and Design Centre, Blue Audio ensured that the conference reflected Glasgow’s – and Scotland’s – bright future at the helm of the independent music industry.
photos: Blue Audio UK
18th March 2019
Erik Morra Adds Rogue Touch to Newsies
USA – Founded in 1789, Georgetown Prep is one of the oldest preparatory schools in the US. The halls of its leafy campus outside Washington DC resonate with tradition, as Erik Morra discovered when he signed on to light a show at the school’s student theatre in February. However, one of the main 'history lessons' that he learned from this experience came not from the school’s storied past, but from the musical he lit: Newsies, which chronicles the heroics of New York’s “newspaper boys” during their late 19th century strike against two of the most powerful publishers of their era.
“I was familiar with the play, but never really appreciated the David-Goliath backstory behind the strike until I dug into it for this production, which made me extra determined to capture the world of these kids in light,” said Morra, owner of Baltimore-based LumenCUE. Helping him convey the gritty 1899 New York City streets that defined the newsboys’ life was a collection of Chauvet Professional Rogue R2 Wash and Rogue R1 Wash fixtures.
“Probably the biggest challenge for me in this show was capturing the Old World feel of New York,” said Morra. “Our director Colin Brown is an amazing set designer. He really created the feeling of a turn-of-the-century ‘newsies’ square in New York City, and I tried to support his work with my lighting.”
The deep, rich colours Morra was able to create with his Rogue fixtures helped him evoke the desired mood. “I found the colour mixing from the Rogues was great for dialling in the right colours needed to make every scene come alive,” he said. “Throughout most of the play, I stuck with basic light ambers and blues for atmosphere. I also used a hazer to capture the smoky, dusty feel of the Industrial Age and that made the light from the Rogues really pop out.”
Morra hung eight Rogue R1 Wash fixtures downstage for front light, and eight Rogue R2 Wash fixtures mid-stage for downlight and backlight. “The zoom feature of the Rogues really allowed me to define the space and keep the focus where it needed to be,” he said. “We also had several scenes that moved out into the house, so we were able to simply move the fixtures and follow the actors out into the aisle. In general, the mobility and zoom features of the Rogues allowed us to follow the action and create some intimate scenes.”
Along with its Rogue R2 Wash and Rogue R1 Wash units, Morra’s rig included Chauvet DJ Intimidator and Freedom Par fixtures. He hung eight Intimidator Spot 360 LED units on upstage pipe just in front of the backdrop to give it extra texture. He also moved some of these lights downstage to create specials. To add impact to a critical scenic element, he uplit the “W” on the “World News” building (headquarters of one of the newspapers) with a pair of Intimidator Spot Duo 155 units. For extra atmosphere, he positioned six wireless Freedom Par Quad-4 fixtures on the front edge of the stage to emulate a “classic theatre front light” look.
Helping Morra create his evocative looks for the show was a group of Georgetown Prep students. “I came to the show opening night, but the students took it from there,” he said. “I worked with the tech crew students to map out the lighting cues and program the board, bringing them as much as possible into the process.”
Working on Newsies was a great learning experience, according to Morra. And. as he is quick to point out, not just for students, but for him as well.
18th March 2019
Robe gets traditional for Noč Modrijanov 2018
Slovenia – Nearly 300 Robe moving lights were utilised by lighting designer Žiga Krajnc for the 2018 Noč Modrijanov event, a major televised Slovenian folk festival staged biennially, and this time around at the Dvorana Zlatorog Arena in Celje, directed by Marjan Kučej.
Over two days, around 100 different Slovenian singers, folk troupes and dance ensembles presented a range of pieces that were enjoyed by around 12,000 people watching live as they performed on an elaborate scenic stage designed by a collaboration between Andrej Šifer, Miha Prosen and Blaž Podpečan, which depicted a typical Slovenian village.
The shows were recorded and broadcast on Slovenian national television’s RTV1 channel in the first week of the new year, so lighting, supplied by rental company Event Lighting, needed to work live and on camera.
Ziga has lit the event twice before, and this year his brief was to highlight the set, which comprised seven different styled Slovenian houses, a town hall square and other traditional village landmarks, in two different base lighting states – daylight and night. This was to be applied according to the show script.
On top of this he was able to layer effects, texturing and a variety of looks and scenes adding the appropriate drama and emotion.
“I needed to have as much scope as possible and that’s why I chose all these different Robe fixtures,” he stated.
He utilised ten different types in total from MegaPointes to ParFects, a wide ranging ‘magic mix’ of BMFL Blades, Spiider wash beams, LEDWash 600s, Pointes, MMX Wash Beam, LEDBeam 100s, CityFlexes and one Robe RoboSpot remote followspotting system.
These were dotted over a series of trusses installed in the roof and each fixture was used extensively to light the show. “The set contained a massive amount of detail that needed to be picked out,” explained Ziga, and that was one the challenges facing him and programmer Matija Kacin.
“With that many Robe fixtures I knew that I could cover everything well and had many options to ensure that each section of the performance looked different and interesting.”
Ziga – one of Event Lighting’s full-time designers – has been working with Robe products for over ten years. He finds them reliable, interesting and well featured with a good output, and he appreciates the colour compatibility between all of them, especially in the LED ranges.
He was keen to use Event Lighting’s new MegaPointes on a large stage and this was a great opportunity! The 22 x BMFL Blades were used for key lighting on the main performers, while Spiiders covered another ten primary positions.
The only other lights on the rig were some blinders.
Over 300 metres of trussing were installed in the roof by the Event Lighting crew and the fixtures were deployed all over this for best possible coverage of the stage area.
The longest truss curved around the back of the stage, and this, together with the two middle trusses, was mainly used to rig all the effects lights: MegaPointes, Pointes, plus some of the Spiiders which were pixel-mapped.
A circular truss and two finger trusses were used for the key light fixtures and for positioning some secondary effects lights. A single BMFL Spot upstage centre was used as a back follow spot, operated remotely via a RoboSpot BaseStation.
There was also a large circular truss flown above the audience, used for wash lights: Spiiders, LEDWash 600s, etc to highlight the crowds for the broadcast and for some specific keylighting.
Several lights were positioned all over the stage floor and around the set for picking out the finer details and providing 'camera candy'.
Ziga and Matija both ran lights for the shows using one of Event Lighting’s new grandMA3 full size consoles in the session together with a grandMA2 light console.
Their challenge was to programme numerous different settings for the diverse mix of artists, however, with this many Robes to hand they were able to deliver an eye-catching show for both the live audience and the many hundreds of thousands catching it on TV.
15th March 2019
Emily King and Flare Rayzrs – Making Clubs Large
USA – Supporting her new album release, Scenery, Emily King toured a string of clubs this winter. An intimate club environment is the perfect setting for the New York artist’s soulful blend of ‘80s pop, contemporary R&B and a hint of light jazz.
For the club tour, Marc Janowitz of E26 Design was lighting designer, and Pat Hayes of Patrick Hayes Lighting Design was lighting director and programmer. In their collaborative design, Marc and Pat specified Solaris Flare Rayzrs to help add dimension and vitality to intimate club environments.
“The Rayzrs are very compact, yet super punchy, says Marc Janowitz. “We needed something that would fit in tight spaces yet offer a lot of diversity for different looks. We used 12 of the 100cm and three of the 50cm models. Both worked great! The Rayzrs really added so much depth and energy to what might have otherwise felt like a limited club tour. This fixture is a keeper!”
Marc adds: “We really needed a fixture that could function as both a lighting effect and a display style scenic effect. Having a fixture that could do this without always dominating the visual plane was critical. The Rayzrs work well in the background but then really blow it out when needed. We used them in chases and effects but also to pixel-map the blocks of cells in a way that made it easy to stream colour and texture across the stage picture. They integrated well with the Hog 4 control package for the show. Pat used the MIDI information from the music director’s Ableton Live session to keep all the effects and visuals seamlessly linked to the band’s performance.”
Pat Hayes explains: “I was drawn to the weight of the Rayzr fixture; light enough to rig from one clamp and totally manageable for one person to set up. Even working alone on compact stages, I was able to have the entire rig up and running in under an hour.”
Pat adds: “The units performed perfectly. They are incredibly rugged and took all the road abuse in stride. Beyond the incredible brightness, a few features that stood out to me specifically were the adjustment mechanism on the yoke that allows it to snap precisely into incremented angles, and the easily deployable feet that simply clip on, creating a very sturdy floor mount.”
The lighting support structure was provided by Laura Steinroeder from Kinetic Lighting.
15th March 2019
Shadowboxing with Good Charlotte
Europe – London-based lighting and video rental specialist Colour Sound Experiment supplied lighting equipment, rigging and crew to the latest UK and European leg of Good Charlotte’s acclaimed Generation Rx tour, working with lighting designer Paul McAdams who is based in Belfast, Northern Ireland and started designing for the band last year.
The tour, which culminated in an incendiary show at London’s Alexandra Palace ['Ali Pally'], was project managed for Colour Sound by Alex Ryan, who Paul says “was excellent” and dealt with all the advance and prep. Colour Sound’s Hadyn Williams was the touring technician, who Paul has requested several times to be his main person on the road, due to his experience and willingness to “go above and beyond” each day to ensure that everything runs smoothly and efficiently.
Encapsulating the gritty lyrics and hardcore punk-rock moments and reflections of generation Rx, a work inspired by the current opioid crisis in North America and dealing with inner and outer pain, Paul’s design for the tour was based around lighting and specific effects including CO2 jets.
He had the creative freedom to design the stage and place fixtures as he liked, however there was a lot of input from the band about how they wanted the album artwork presented. Following these discussions, it was decided to use their five separate faces on five upstage banners, each flanked by six vertical lighting towers.
The six towers comprised 10ft sections of pre-rigged truss, each rigged with three Robe MegaPointes and two GLP Impression X4 Bar 20 moving LED battens (upped to three per tower for Ali Pally).
These were joined by four smaller scaffold towers on floor bases, populated with eight Robe LEDWash 600s in total, with another couple of LEDWash 600s on the back of the drum riser.
Nine JDC1 LED strobes were scattered around the stage floor.
They also added flames and extra pyro for London to ensure the action was truly explosive!
The MegaPointes were the workhorses of the rig. Paul maximised their multi-functionality with big beam looks, piercing aerial gobo effects and stark spot light instants. He used the excellent optics, multiple prisms and gobos to create “trippy and ethereal effects”.
Utilising the X4 Bar 20s, Paul made the most of some spectacular depth effect chases both up- and downstage, and right and left. “Using the vertically aligned X4 Bar 20s is a great way to play with perspective” he commented.
The LEDWash 600s were used solely for key lighting and washing.
Five of the JDC1s sat below each banner upstage, washing up the cloths at certain times, also doubling highly effectively as white and coloured strobes. The four downstage JDC1s created colour washes across the stage and augmented the retina-burning strobe-out moments when needed.
One of the main objectives was to bring the banners to life with lighting during the set, and the up-lighting helped accentuate a feeling of depth and dimension onstage for some specific tracks.
Much of the album content is raw, heartfelt and personal and it tackles some difficult issues.
For the newer music, he used colder whites and blues and neon green palettes as a recurring theme. “The band was also keen on heavy backlighting and silhouettes on these tracks,” explained Paul, all of which helped in hitting the ambience sweet spots.
For the older songs, Paul went warmer on the colouration and effects, and the contrast between the two treatments enabled him to create distinctive looks for different parts of the set.
Challenges included adapting the rig to fit some of the more interesting or smaller stages encountered on the itinerary. Mathes Kuhn operated for the first week while Paul was finishing off some other commitments before joining the tour.
Paul ran the show on grandMA3. MA has become his primary choice of console over the last couple of years. This tour was the first time he’d used the grandMA3 hardware, still, like many, running GM2 software, and he’s looking forward to going to running the full GM3 setup soon.
He’s worked with Colour Sound on a few different shows and tours and likes many aspects of the company.
“H [Haydn Cruickshank] has always been mindful of budgets and tour restraints, offering a tailor-made service and support for each design” he states, “and this has always impressed me. If a tour will benefit from a particular product, he’s open to investing and I think that’s a great attitude.”
He adds that if anything needs changed or swapped out mid-tour on the road, the support is right there, and any issues are rectified extremely quickly with a smile, and he’s always enjoyed top level crew from Colour Sound.
“Colour Sound offer a personal touch for each project. They’re constantly growing and evolving and I’m seeing the name and the flightcases turn up on a lot of tours and designs that I think look great.”
Keeping everything in order and running efficiently on the road was Good Charlotte’s production manager, Ron Gardner.
photos : Lindsay Cave