Production News Headlines
DCR Nashville and Nathan Alves Partner on Mobile Visual Art Platform Filled with Claypaky Scenius Fixtures to Paint Nashville Landmarks Red
Shure and The Montreux Jazz Artists Foundation Showcase a Sensational 'Autumn of Music' in Switzerland's Iconic Music Town
iHeartMedia New York’s 106.7 LITE FM Flips to All Christmas Music with Stunning NYC Drone Light Show by Verge Aero
Tulsa Opera’s Baseball-Themed Rigoletto is a Grand Slam with L-Acoustics
USA – Live music has proven it will find a way despite the lockdowns on performances compelled by the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the more imaginative examples of this was the 9th October performance of Verdi’s iconic opera Rigoletto by the Tulsa Opera, which was staged at ONEOK Field, home of the Tulsa Drillers minor league baseball team and Double-A Affiliate of the LA Dodgers.
Every note of the operatic repertoire of Rigoletto was heard clearly and sweetly by the 1,685 socially-distanced audience members seated in the 2,700-capacity stadium thanks to an L-Acoustics Kara PA system provided by locally-based Axiom Audio.
The system consisted of 24 Kara enclosures, six SB18 subs, and three four-speaker clusters of Kiva II used as centre and sidefills, all powered by six LA12X and three LA4X amplified controllers. These components were on an Optocore fiber network that also included a DiGiCo SD10 FOH mixing console paired with two SD-Racks.
The event’s PA design was as unique as the venue itself. The stadium management wouldn’t permit the rigging necessary to fly the sound system to be erected on the field’s grass areas, as would typically be done in an outdoor location such as this one. Instead, taking inspiration from Super Bowl music system configurations, the Kara speakers were loaded onto nine wheeled carts. These lined the first and third baselines, four per side, facing the grandstands, with the ninth cart positioned at home plate, just in front of the low risers that were the stage for six orchestra members: two violins, viola, cello, bass, and piano. This arrangement provided the necessary coverage for all of the widely-spaced grandstand seating.
However, it also created the added challenge of putting loudspeakers on the field as the opera vocalists, unfamiliar with wearing wireless microphones, would roam about during the performance, creating the potential for feedback each time they neared a speaker cluster. The solution was to make each cart its own node on the system, putting each of the nine speaker pods on a matrix at the front of house, allowing Front-of-House Engineer Steve Colby to turn off individual loudspeaker clusters as a performer approached one.
“We made the speakers individually controllable through the matrix,” says Axiom Audio president Ben Bruce. “Performers were moving all across the infield, and they’re opera singers, so they would be loud. Having individual control over the elements in what was essentially a distributed audio system greatly reduced the potential for gain-before-feedback. The Kara speakers were a perfect fit, in terms of size and power, for this.”
Colby agrees that the L-Acoustics system helped make the unique location for the opera performance a resounding success. “Kara’s coverage properties allowed for a large and effective stereo field between any two of the arrays deployed around the field,” he says. “As a result, we could pan vocals and effects a little farther apart than usual without diminishing the experience for audience members who were not centred between the arrays. In particular, this was noticeable with the amount of artificial acoustic ‘space’ we created using a touch of reverb. The available SPL and overall fidelity of the speakers are quite amazing given the compact size and light weight of the product. We were able to produce excellent coverage from a very small footprint. Ben Bruce at Axiom deserves all credit for laying out the speaker arrays and planning coverage. We planned to go with his existing L-Acoustics inventory from the start, so we discussed the extent of the COVID-defined seating, sightline issues, and my desire to have all the arrays be independently fed, and he ran with it, designing a system with excellent coverage and fidelity.”
Bruce is happy to credit the L-Acoustics components for letting the opera happen without a hitch. “That really began back in the shop, where we used L-Acoustics Soundvision to design the speaker placements,” he explains. “It was spot-on; when we arrived at the field with barely a day to set up, the angles were perfect. We positioned the boxes on the carts at the shop, and they were ready to roll. We had clarity and intelligibility, which are crucial for a show like this.”
L-Acoustics, the choice for touring music productions globally, was also the perfect choice for opera on the diamond. “L-Acoustics has paid special design attention to handling the speaker crossovers in such a way that does not contribute to ‘boxiness’ or other artefacts that are so noticeable when you are attempting to make the PA invisible by amplifying speech and singing without any effects beyond reverb. L-Acoustics has always been ahead of the curve on this,” says Colby, who also mixes and designs sound for the Boston Pops Orchestra and Boston Landmarks Orchestra. “My experience with L-Acoustics is that all of their product lines excel at reproducing the natural sound of the human voice.”
4th December 2020
Skoda ENYAQ Estonian Launch Tartu
Estonia – Without making an obvious connection between iconic Czech automotive brand Škoda and a certain leading stage lighting manufacturer based in the Czech Republic, it was great to see Robe on the rig for the Estonian launch of the new Škoda ENYAQ iV all-electric SUV.
The press and VIP event took place at the Škoda dealership centre – Aasta Auto Ltd – in Tartu, Estonia’s second city, with technical production coordinated by Andres Sarv of creative visual design and production company Pstudio, and lighting designed by Tõnis Sarv also working for Pstudio.
They work with Robe equipment as often as is possible and, on this occasion, chose to work with eight Robe LEDBeam 100s, 12 LEDWash 800s,12 300E Spots and two CitySkape Xtreme LED floods. Pstudio has been involved with previous Skoda promotional events and delivers technical design and production for other car brands like Audi.
The show involved a presentation element followed by a reveal of the new vehicle, demanding a combination of different styles and approaches, and the creative brief for lighting was left entirely up to Tõnis who created a design that was suitably adaptable and flexible.
The main focus was lighting the cars well, both practically in an exhibition sense and also theatrically for the reveal. Tõnis worked with a creative team from Skoda Estonia who provided the direction and custom video content while Raul Roma supplied the music track.
The central car was placed in front of a large LED screen, flanked by two smaller screens to cover the width of the space, and ensure that the socially distanced audience in the viewing gallery all enjoyed good sightlines.
The LEDBeam 100s were rigged on vertical truss towers either side of the screens, the LEDWash 800s were mounted on floor stands and the 300E Spots were spread out around the showroom balcony providing a second level of lighting which looked very effective.
The CitySkape Extremes were stationed outside lighting the building’s glass frontage.
“Robe fixtures were an absolutely essential component to the show,” commented Tõnis, and while the fixture choice was actually made by Andres for reliability, versatility and to fit the budget, Tõnis would have made the same selection because he works extensively with Robe for corporate events and also for touring with music artists.
Andres and Tõnis like using Robe luminaires generally for the “quality, smooth movement, excellent choice of ‘clean’ colours and just that great Robe quality that we all love and can rely on.”
He used a ChamSys MQ80 console for lighting and effects control, which in addition to the Robes included low fog machines, strobes, and some battery-powered LED tubes.
Both Andres, who also works as head of technical at Tartu’s Vanemuine theatre and concert hall complex, and Tõnis were delighted at the opportunity of working on a ‘hybrid’ show like this which was live and streamed.
Like everywhere, live and events work has been seriously disrupted by the Coronavirus pandemic, although there has been a slow trickle of shows that have started to happen and some theatres have also been able to open and stage performances with limited capacity audiences.
Like everyone, they are looking forward to 2021 and business moving forward and hopefully ramping up after a very tough period.
The world premiere of the Skoda ENYAQ in Prague back in September also featured some Robe moving lights; lighting designer Chris Moylan utilised 54 MegaPointes and three Robe BMFL Spots on RoboSpot systems to deliver the show in the main hall of the O2 Universum.
photos: Karl Möls
4th December 2020
Diverse DARTZ shine on August Burns Red “Thrill Seeker” Anniversary Livestream
USA – On Saturday, 14 November, metalcore band August Burns Red celebrated 15 years since release of their debut studio album ‘Thrill Seeker’ with a special livestream performance of the full recording at Rock Lititz Studio near Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Lighting designer David Summers turned to the wide effects options in Elation’s small yet mighty DARTZ 360 narrow-beam mover to light the event. New York-based rental company Squeek Lights supplied the fixtures.
August Burns Red is a Grammy-nominated metal band that has shown over the years that aggressive metalcore music and positive messaging can indeed coexist. Though filled with heavy guitar riffs and howling vocals, the band avoids the doom and gloom of many metal bands and instead urges listeners to better themselves and the world around them.
Following two days of rehearsals at the Squeek Lights shop, production moved to the Rock Lititz Studio and its state-of-the-art facilities, custom fit for touring professionals. Not only did Summers have to familiarise himself with an album that is 15 years old (he’s worked with the band for three years), he had to design for a multi-camera shoot rather than the more familiar live audience.
“There were five or six cameras plus a few GoPro’s so there were multiple shot angles to consider,” he states. “It’s very different doing it for cameras instead of a live audience. Many of the looks you are used to making for a live audience don't translate well on camera. On a livestream, if not every light is aimed towards the camera then you're going to miss most of the effects. I practised with new lighting positions and ended up with positions I wouldn't normally use on a touring show. It was a different approach but it turned out great.”
Summers placed 20 DARTZ 360 fixtures out-rigged on ten pipes on the ground, forming a semi-circle around the band. Fixtures worked from the top and bottom of each pipe, its three degree aperture forming an array of thin beams high and low for classic ACL looks. Summers comments: “The DARTZ were the meat and potatoes and really the star of the show. As a programmer, when you get to the 12th or 15th song, you've generally had the light do everything possible, but with the DARTZ you have a handful of other tricks you can use that most lights don't have so it makes programming a bunch of songs so much easier.”
The LD points to the fixture’s continuous 360° pan and tilt rotation as an ideal feature for an aggressive band like August Burns Red. “I can put ten fixtures in an infinite pan to make a wide encompassing circle and then I’ll put the other ten in a different staggered position with an infinite tilt. It’s a simple trick but that look alone is something that not many other fixtures can create.”
The designer dug into the fixture’s feature set to access other effects. Although he’s not usually one to incorporate much gobo shaking in his designs, he found the gobo shake with the DARTZ “satisfying,” an effect he used frequently during down-tempo moments, “even with the frost thrown in and focus zoomed all the way out.” He created another unique look by dropping in a small gobo to produce multiple 'needle beams' that look like a spider web. “The DARTZ allows me to get those more intricate looks so you don’t feel like you’re looking at the same light for 15 songs. To have a fixture that is that dynamic and at that price point is incredible. I rented one set of lights but it looked like I had rented two!”
When it comes to colour pallette, Summers says he is basically given carte blanche by the band but does get occasional input from guitarist JB Brubaker on visuals. “The DARTZ’s colour mixing can create such unique colours like mint, a light lavender, a light amber. The colour control is great. I can create different shades that I mix to make looks unique so I don't have to repeat the same colour combo on any song.” He adds that he incorporated ADJ Hex Panels as dedicated drum lights for drummer Matt Greiner, saying that anyone deep in the stage can get buried, like a drummer, especially on a livestream.
Like many in our industry, Summers has had little work on his plate since last March and says he has taken the downtime to reset mentally after years of being on the road. “It’s been an opportunity to be home and really be present after working at full speed for many years.” Still, he was glad to be working again. “Working the livestream show made me very hungry to get back to it. Every day was a 16 or 18-hour day and I loved it!” Summers expresses his gratitude to Squeek Lights, who he says executed brilliantly on the project, especially lighting tech Steve Kosiba who did all the back end programming for the event.
The “Thrill Seeker” Anniversary Livestream sold so well it has prompted the band to hold a "Christmas Burns Red" livestream on December 12, a show that Summers promises will be even bigger.
3rd December 2020
Tapestry Live Studio Calls on Chauvet Professional to Balance Video-Lighting Panorama
UK – For the thousands of fans throughout the UK who viewed the recent Lockdown Bingo Charity show, getting swept up in the immersive panorama supporting the livestream’s performances came quite naturally. And why not? With its seamless flow of brilliant images on its curved video wall working in harmony with vivid, colourful beams that surrounded it, the display immersed with its integrated visuals.
The tightly woven imagery captivated the livestream audience. But for the team at Tapestry Live Studio that created the stunning visuals, the massive curved video wall and lighting rig were treated as two distinct design elements.
“The LED wall and lighting installation are two completely independent installations, but they complement each other beautifully,” said Sarah Winters of Tapestry Virtual Events, which created the studio in the face of the pandemic. “Our LED wall needs to be kept most flexible as it is used for a wide range of activities, but the lighting selected allows us to add different effects to suit every use of the studio. This ranges from corporate events to DJ sets.”
Tapestry Event owners Lynsey and Alex McLaren planned the virtual studio with a clear divide between video and lighting soon after the COVID-19 pandemic brought their normal live event business to a halt, believing that this arrangement would give the production facility greater flexibility.
“In the wake of COVID we found ourselves adapting to the ever-changing landscape of the events world,” said Alex McLaren. “We therefore created our Tapestry Studio and Virtual Events Platform to offer our clients a way of delivering their events, whether it be a conference, DJ sets, live band performances, AGMs, meetings and panel discussions, charity events and more.”
While the massive video wall serves as the focal point of the virtual studio, powerful lighting elements are relied on to give each production a distinct visual quality. This has made it essential to complement the wall with high output fixtures like the Chauvet Professional Rogue R2X Beam. The intense (134,000 lux at 15 metres) output of the 231 Watt beam has the punch to stand out against the bright video wall, while the moving fixture’s 14 fixed colours in a fully scrollable, and variable speed colour wheel offers designers an array of creative options.
“Given the level of productions we have been producing, it was essential that we support the curved video wall with a lighting rig that was up to this task,” said McLaren. “We could not compromise on the quality of the fixtures, which is why the R2X Beam plays such an important role in out studio.”
3rd December 2020
DSH Producties of the Netherlands offers broadcast-quality Elation KL Panel
The Netherlands – Audiovisual technology supplier DSH Producties of the Netherlands has acquired Elation’s broadcast-quality KL Panel LED softlight, a full colour spectrum and colour temperature-adjustable light panel that fulfils the demanding requirements of broadcast productions including the growing market for live streaming.
DSH Producties has 15 years of experience serving festivals, events, theatres and broadcast. The unique market situation this year has meant the company is putting more focus on corporate and broadcast projects, including online events, seminars and pop-up studios, thus the need for a high-quality softlight with colour temperature and green/magenta shift adjustment.
While looking for a solution, Bert Schmeits, key account manager Benelux at Elation, emphasised to DSH Producties co-owners Serge Hillegers and Maaike Hillegers that Elation would soon be expanding its offerings with the KL Panel. When the first sample was available, Schmeits immediately organised a comparative test in the Elation showroom, testing and comparing the KL Panel against other LED softlights on the market.
“The LED array in the KL Panel is very efficient and if you look at the other types of panels we did a shoot-out with, it has a very good output to size ratio,” stated Serge Hillegers. Using a highly efficient RGBW + lime + cyan LED array, the KL Panel outputs 24,000 lumens from a small form factor to create wonderfully soft white or full colour washes. Colour rendering is of the highest quality and importantly for the camera, the KL Panel has a high TLCI value, meaning that both to the eye and to the camera colour re-creation is extremely accurate with little colour shift.
DSH Producties is familiar with the specific requirements of audiovisual facilities in the broadcasting and recording world and according to Serge, broadcast is more light critical with other criterion to consider such as adjusting for light that shifts away from pure white towards green or magenta. With the KL Panel, additional colour tuning is possible through a green shift adjustment and a virtual gel library.
“It was hard to find a panel that can do a green-magenta shift,” he states. “With the KL Panel, you can match the white balance for the camera. Outside or inside, even in fluorescent light, we can easily shift the colour temperature. It makes it quite easy. Otherwise, you have to work with a lot of plus/minus green gels and filters.” Additionally, the Hertz LED refresh rate of the KL Panel can adjust so there is no flickering when used with high-speed cameras. “That combination is rare to find and you usually have to pay a lot to get it but not so with the KL Panel.”
The KL Panel enables for the stepless selection of colour temperature in the range from 2,000 to 10,000 Kelvin and LED refresh rate is adjustable from 900-25000Hz for flicker free operation. Control options include DMX, Art-NET and sACN with handling made even easier for film and TV via manual control of intensity, colour temperature, green shift and other settings via encoders and easy-to-use OLED display. Adjustable eight-leaf barn doors are included. For even greater convenience, the KL Panel also works well wirelessly from a stand position and using a 24-36 VDC battery (not included).
DSH Producties purchased the KL Panel in July and have had them out on several projects, most recently on a green screen broadcast. The KL Panels join other Elation gear in DSH Producties inventory including SixBar 1000 IP, Fuze Wash Z120 and Fuze Wash Z350 luminaires, as well as Obsidian controllers. The KL Panel is covered by Elation’s extended five-year warranty on the LED engine and warranty coverage on fixture components is three years for products used in registered indoor fixed installation projects.
2nd December 2020
Faber AV’s fleet of 3,000+ LED panels is HDR-ready thanks to Brompton Technology’s Hydra
Renowned for its 360-degree live event solutions, which range from exhibitions, corporate, broadcast and media through to full virtual production, Faber Audiovisuals is a veteran player in the dynamic world of LED displays and audio-visual services. Part of the NEP Worldwide Network, the company has dynamically calibrated its entire fleet of LED panels with Brompton Technology’s Hydra measurement system, to unlock the full potential of its LED displays and make them Brompton HDR-ready.
“Especially in the film industry, there is a requirement for exceptionally realistic-looking visual content and extra-wide colour gamut,” says Steven Embregts, Faber’s technical banager. “The way Brompton HDR works with Rec 2020 and the 10 to 12-bit workflows, delivering accurate reflections, lighting, and rich final pixels to be captured in-camera, puts it in really high demand with our customers.”
With a dedication to providing their end users with the best, there was no question in the minds of the Faber team that the company would upgrade its LED panels with Brompton’s Dynamic Calibration to make them HDR-ready.
The screens calibrated are a mix of ROE panels, including Ruby 2.3mm, Black Onyx 2.8mm, with ROE CB3 and CB5 in the pipeline.
“As well as calibrating around 3,000 of Faber’s ROE panels, within the NEP Group both Mediatec and CT London will also have their ROE panels calibrated with Hydra, which will bring the total to roughly 4,000 to 4,500 panels,” continues Embregts.
Brompton Technology has been supporting the Faber team with the calibration process from the beginning.
“With such a high volume of panels being calibrated, we wanted to ensure that the process ran as smoothly as possible,” says Dries Vermeulen, Brompton’s business development manager for Europe. “That’s why we’ve been in close contact with Steven and the rest of Faber crew, supporting them with technical knowledge and of course offering our 24/7 remote support if they needed it.”
“The process on how to operate the Hydra measurement system was very clear to us,” adds Embregts. “Once we had our online training session with Brompton, our engineers started calibrating the panels pretty much straight away and we have not encountered any problems so far.”
With most of the Faber road technician team grounded by COVID-19, the technical team had additional support from those who would normally be off site with customers. “This meant we could deliver internal training to our extended team at the same time as going ahead with the calibration,” says Embregts.
The first major project, involving 1,132 newly calibrated ROE panels, was set up in Ireland at Kite Studios, in cooperation with independent design practice High Res. The facility included a 140-degree dome, made up of Hydra-calibrated ROE BO2 LED panels, driven by Brompton’s Tessera SX40 processors and Tessera XD 10G data distribution units.
Peter Canning, CEO and lead designer at High Res, notes that using Brompton HDR-ready LED panels has made a significant difference to their workflow.
“The Brompton HDR ready panels are creating extremely high-quality images as well as providing in-depth colour science data for our pipeline, which is becoming a more frequent request from our Virtual production clients working in both real-time and pre-rendered workflows,” he says.
“It's not entirely possible to predict exactly what the film industry will look like after the coronavirus outbreak subsides, but one thing is clear: virtual production is here to stay,” concludes Embregts. “You don’t need to travel any more to make stories; they can be brought to life, right here in the studio, with real-time technology. VP is transforming the craft of film making, and with tools like Brompton’s Hydra calibration system and Dynamic Calibration, we can stay on top of the latest breakthroughs in the world of real-time VFX and virtual production with our top-quality fleet of Brompton HDR-ready LED panels.”
2nd December 2020
JDC Line helps Glass Animals into Dreamland
UK – One of the more widely acclaimed, and viewed, virtual concerts during lockdown has been the recent live internet performance from psych-pop stars, Glass Animals.
The widely acclaimed Oxford-based quartet were all set to tour their chart-topping Dreamland album this Spring until lockdown came along. When their lighting team (Cassius Creative) was eventually called into play (by tour/production Manager, Simon Lutkin), it was to produce a viewable online show only (Live In The Internet), a dynamic concert masterminded by the band’s inventive front-man, Dave Bayley.
Set up nearly five years ago by Chris 'Squib' Swain and Dan Hill) Cassius Creative dipped into their armoury of GLP fixtures and at the same time became one of the first adopters of the new JDC Line hybrid strobe batten. This combines a powerful linear white strobe element and two separate RGB LED pixel mapping lines, all in a slimline format that complements the classic JDC1. To Swain and Hill it simply seemed like “a natural extension”.
The virtual venue chosen for this unique showcase was the LH3 rehearsal/prep space at Neg Earth, the lighting hire company which would have been delivering the tour inventory. During the hour long performance the band reimagined their renowned live show for streaming, and were joined along the way by singer songwriter Arlo Parks and rapper Denzel Curry.
Using inspired video content from Russian company Sila Sveta to create an ever-changing immersive environment, the show tested the lighting artists’ ability to combine the dynamic impact of a pop video or TV promo, with a full length concert. “The band didn’t want it to feel like a music video, they wanted it to be as live as possible,” state the two LDs.
Cassius Creative explained how they helped convert performance space into what was described as a “vibrant paradise” to represent Dreamland, with the aid of 14 JDC Lines on the downstage edge on the floor and 36 JDC1 in the roof, with the visuals constantly transforming the stage scenically via a number of “miniature sets within a set”, as Dave Bayley put it. They also suggested the use of foliage, working in conjunction with the lighting to produce an organic feel, taking inspiration from mixed media artist, Nam June Paik.
Both Dan and Squib refer to Bayley as “one of our most creative clients. What he wanted was a video game element, moving between analogue and digital, organically merging screen with nature.”
Cassius Creative have used GLP tools regularly over the years, and despite the short time frame did have the luxury of a few days of pre-viz (using Depence 2 lighting visualisation, which has the JDC Line in its fixture library).
“We’ve always had a good relationship with GLP and used a lot of their products, particularly the JDC1 strobes,” confirms Dan Hill. “These are great fixtures and were perfect in the overhead rig.
“We didn’t want to use beams and moving lights really, but instead the JDC’s act as a ‘roof’, forming an extension of the video screen which mimics the light source.”
As for the JDC Lines they were deployed as a downstage border, helping to frame the edge of the stage. “We chose them for their colour element, making it a great and interesting product. What you can achieve with pixels made it a really good fit with the musicality.”
Having access to the JDC Lines also gave them a versatile alternative to GLP’s X4 Bars which had originally been specified for the tour. “We were given an introduction to the product virtually from David and Simon [at GLP UK]. One advantage is, because of how it’s set up, it sits nicely alongside the strobe. And in terms of what it can do with pixels, colours and dimmer effects, it’s very easy to rig as an architectural extension of the JDC1. We tried to mimic the mode of the JDC1.”
Squib states that GLP are one of the companies redefining the batten for the modern era, believing there had been a gap in the market for too long. “Rather than eye candy and light curtains with products like the JDC Line we can see the impact it can now have.”
It is a credit to the versatility of GLP’s advanced LED fixtures when Dan Hill states: “We have never set out to make a light show.” Explaining, he says, “These lights were supposed to feel a natural part of the world that was created [on stage] and only be called on to provide impact when needed; the more subliminal the better.
“In fact for the TV world it looked great, and read brilliantly to camera.”
Other credits for ‘Live In The Internet’ include James Barnes (director), Marcus Domleo (DoP), Amy James (producer), Daniel Richardson (lighting programmer) and Sam Henderson (video programmer).
2nd December 2020
Everything Clear for Robe on Billie Eilish Livestream Concert
USA – Billie Eilish has wowed the world for being more than a global music phenomenon! A smart teenager with empathy, humanity, and honesty, she will tackle tough topics head-on and her many additional activities include fund-raising for crew and technicians affected by the global halt of live music and performance.
Sweeping off with five Grammy’s earlier in the year, the fertile collaboration with her music producing brother Finneas (also a Grammy award winner) and their contrasty intricate works that connect the dots of life, surrealism and expression in a brainy mash of art, reflection and audacity has energised a massive and diverse fan base.
The first arena-sized world tour, “Where Do We Go”, scheduled to run from March to September 2020 halted abruptly after three shows, so the recent “Where Do We Go” Livestream Concert re-united many talents from her acclaimed creative team. Under the creative direction of Billie Eilish and Moment Factory, collectively they worked to script and stage this stunning XR pay-per-view stream that delighted fans and lit up the internet as much in awe of the production as the magical Eilish aura.
Lighting designer and director Tony Caporale from Tennessee-based Infinitus Vox was working as LD on the tour, and also came on board in the role for the livestream concert, where he collaborated closely with lighting director Madigan Stehly of 22 Degrees who was working for XR Studios Burbank in Los Angeles which staged the performance, directed by Tarik Mikou from Moment Factory.
The overhead lighting rig at XR Studio comprised 48 Robe ESPRITES, Robe’s newest Transferable Engine LED profile fixture. Six of the ESPRITES were running on a Robe RoboSpot system.
These were the only lights used for this highly acclaimed production, renowned for its stunning XR graphics and imagery that transported performers and audience through cities, oceans and incredible worlds during an intricate performance capturing all the live dynamics of Eilish’s music and dramaturgy, from massive anthemic moments to very personal messages.
Tony and the artist are usually in communication about how to bring her live performance visions to life, so the show development followed this format again as he also liaised with Madigan and lighting programmer Joe Watrach. While they finessed the lighting, Tarik and Moment Factory production manager James Richardson focused on integrating all the video elements (cameras, content and XR) cohesively together.
Lighting is fundamental to the XR concept and the overall studio space. “The process was challenging in the best possible way,” stated Tony with a big smile as he refined Eilish’s usually intense live light show to dovetail with the studio environment generally and augmented specific XR requirements for maximum impact.
Tarik, Tony, and Madigan’s perspectives united to engineer many innovative and fun approaches, all treading stealthily to enhance the XR illusion!
First, Tony and Madigan dissected the full set list and discussed lighting treatments and effects they felt were both appropriate and achievable. “The core approach kept Billie well-lit within her respective colour preferences for each song and then built looks that worked for the assorted XR environments,” explained Tony.
Preventing light bleeding onto the video walls was crucial so they carefully utilised specific lights that were concealed from certain camera angles in “a bit of smoke-and-mirrors,” states Tony.
The studio’s physical setup included a substantial stage and floorspace with three large ROE LED video walls, a video floor, and the overhead lighting rig with the 48 ESPRITES plus a couple of additional fixtures on the floor for side lighting. On the other side of the studio was the socially distanced FOH setup with workstations for lighting, audio, video, media servers, cameras, directors, etc.
For XR Studios, which has produced a string of notable AR / XR streams, ESPRITES have emerged as a favourite moving light for various shoots due to their excellent colour temperature range, consistency, high CRI and C-Pulse features, all vital elements for any type of camera-based production.
However, this was the first time that Tony had worked with Robe ESPRITES, which were supplied by Fuse Technical Group together with the two RoboSpot systems and the grandMA control platform.
Six ESPRITES, five at the front and one at the rear of the studio, were controlled by two RoboSpot BaseStations which were positioned upstage right at the dimmers behind the video wall. The remote followspot system was overseen on site by Fuese’s Matthew Kniss, and these six fixtures took care of all the key lighting for mainly Billie, but also Finneas if he was mobile during the performance.
The other ESPRITES were utilised to add detail, texturing and drama to the different XR spaces created for the stream, from “you should see me in a crown”’s spooky minimalistic monochrome set with giant spider stalking Eilish to the cinematic deep ocean blue void of “ilomilo” which concluded with Eilish being eaten by an animated shark!
The ESPRITE’s shuttering system was extremely useful to Madigan and Tony in lighting this show, where the subjects were pinpointed without spillage onto the video elements, enhancing the spectacular XR drama.
For the ballad “i love you”, Billie and Finneas appeared in a vast space perched – almost suspended – on top of a stark monolithic column, lit overhead by a single ESPRITE shuttered perfectly to frame them and “complete the illusion” explained Tony.
For “No Time to Die”, Madigan came up with a neat idea recalls Tony, where the video content passes Billie and its movement is matched by light dimming in and out from a few of the ESPRITES.
For “ilomilo”, Tony also activated the animation wheel to create an underwater ripple effect augmenting the undersea world.
Eilish herself is integrally involved in the visuality of all her performances, a fact that Tony relishes because it makes his life “a lot easier”.
A good communicator, usually after a short brief, Tony can run with a lighting interpretation of what she wants. “She’s very keen on having me accent different detail and subtleties,” he clarifies.
While this was his first encounter with Robe’s ESPRITES, Tony’s association with the brand goes back to his club lighting days and in fact to the ColorSpot 170 ATs and other maverick fixtures from Robe’s early years.
“Robe is always pushing forward, not just with lighting fixtures but also with related technologies like GDTF / MVR protocols, and their willingness to forge ahead and always show appreciation for their clients means a lot to many, not just to me but many others in the wider industry,” he stated.
Billie Eilish’s “Where Do We Go” Livestream Concert was enthusiastically received and is being hailed as a stand-out event in a sea of streaming shows that have proliferated this year as the pandemic has taken its toll on the live music industry worldwide.
The XR content was coordinated by Moment Factory, Silent Partners Studio, Silas Veta, Chop Studio and Pixels & Noise, Moment Factory XR content lead Aude Guivarc’h, and project managed by Michael Hernandez, (real-time rendering using Notch and Unreal Engine). Stefaan ‘Smasher’ Desmedt was the camera director assisted by Brandon Kraemer.
photos: courtesy The Billie Eilish Livestream Concert
1st December 2020
DCR Nashville and Nathan Alves Partner on Mobile Visual Art Platform Filled with Claypaky Scenius Fixtures to Paint Nashville Landmarks Red
USA – DCR Nashville and lighting designer Nathan Alves, a partner in Darkroom Creative in Franklin, Tennessee, answered the live event and entertainment professionals’ call to action by bathing some of Nashville’s iconic landmarks in red light on 1 September. Their contribution to the WeMakeEvents #redalertRESTART initiative was the Mobile Visual Art Platform (MVAP) outfitted with 38 Claypaky Scenius fixtures.
The MVAP rolled through Music City with surgical precision, lighting up the Tennessee State Capitol, the AT&T Building (popularly known as the Batman Building), the Ascend Amphitheatre, downtown’s Bank of America building the Shelby Street Bridge and the neo-classical Parthenon.
WeMakeEvents’ #RedAlertRESTART campaign is designed to raise awareness and support for the 77% of live events workers who have lost 100% of their incomes during the coronavirus pandemic. The 1 September event was repeated in cities across North America with more than 1,800 venues and companies participating. The call to action implored the US Congress to pass the RESTART Act offering economic relief to the live events industry and to extend PUA payments to the unemployed. Buildings, structures and residences nationwide were lit in red from 9pm until midnight local time. The experience followed a similar event staged across the UK in August.
Nathan Alves and DCR Nashville’s owner and president Howard Jones had been sharing news on COVID-19’s impact on the Nashville live event industry when Alves sent an email regarding #redalertRESTART. “Howard was quick to jump on the phone,” Alves recalls. “He didn't just want to do something but do something interesting and impactful. He asked if I'd be willing to help him with this idea he had to put lights on a flatbed.” DCR Nashville offers audio, video, lighting and design solutions for live events.
Jones’s goal was to “create a mobile installation that could engage in a bit of guerrilla marketing, as it were,” says Alves. “The MVAP allowed us in one evening to paint multiple city landmarks and draw attention to the #WeMakeEvents cause.”
A mix of 38 Claypaky Scenius Spots and Profiles filled the flatbed truck. No other fixtures were featured. “Claypaky knows how to make a punchy light,” Alves declares. “We needed something that had great colour and great punch to make the truck work. In some instances, we were painting buildings from across the river or over a block away. The Scenius fixtures were more than capable of answering that call to service. When the team at DCR sent over drawings of the truck with a bunch of Scenius on the back it was an easy call to sign off on.”
Alves notes that the lighting task “was about horsepower vs colour trueness. It feels like we often sacrifice colour definition for intensity or vice versa. One of the things I've enjoyed about the Scenius since I first used them years ago is not having to make that choice. Need a deep saturated red with lots of punch? Scenius can do that for you.”
Alves says he’s been touring with Claypaky fixtures for more than decade and has never been disappointed with the manufacturer’s products. Given that the 1 September event called for the complement of Scenius “to live on a flatbed, be powered by a generator and get bounced around violently while we dragged them back and forth from landmark to landmark, I was more than impressed with how they held up.”
Jennifer Moore, vice president of sales and marketing for DCR Nashville, notes that: “Claypaky was quick to offer their support in highlighting our efforts for this important event. It’s going to take everyone in our industry, from every facet, working together on a collective push to make a difference. We’re happy to see manufacturers like Claypaky using their platform for good as well.
John Schirmer, Shane Hamill and Christopher Wilhelm from DCR Nashville were instrumental in the management and execution of the project with many DCR volunteers contributing their own time to make the event a reality. Long-time friend Brandy Sapp handled logistics and drove the truck. Drew Lombana operated the lights on the truck from inside the cab.
1st December 2020
Elation lights for Southern California’s “Concerts in Your Car”
USA – Drive-in concerts have become the necessary norm under the pandemic and southern California’s moderate climate makes it possible for these fan-thankful events to take place late into the year.
Enhanced by a complement of Elation Professional lights, “Concerts in your Car,” presented by CBF Productions at two SoCal locations, are some of the most popular.
Helping to quench the thirst of live music fans, “Concerts in Your Car” debuted 26 June at the Ventura County Fairgrounds north of Los Angeles and branched out to a second site, the Del Mar Fairgrounds near San Diego, in September. Victor Ortiz, owner of full service audio-visual company Darvik Productions of Ventura, worked together on the project with CBF Productions founder and CEO Vincenzo Giammanco.
“It all started back in April when our first spring festival of the year was cancelled,” recounts Ortiz, who says that he and Giammanco do about a dozen events together in a year. “We started wondering what the year was going to look like and had heard that Europe was starting to do some drive-in shows. We started to brainstorm what a drive-in venue here would look like, how to build it, etc. By the end of April we knew we'd have to pivot and the idea for ‘Concerts in Your Car’ was born.”
“Concerts in Your Car” at the Ventura County Fairgrounds featured a package of Elation Professional luminaires in a set-up that was replicated for the Del Mar site. A typical week at the Del Mar site, which debuted 25 September and has a capacity of 700 vehicles, sees movies on a big screen, hosts local bands or theatre plays, and then stages bigger acts on the weekend. Top acts like hip-hop legend Snoop Dogg, icons The Beach Boys, and local heroes Slightly Stoopid are just a few who have played the venue. Sundays are reserved for church services or private events.
Shows are held on a four-sided stage with a large 14ft high by 26ft wide video screen gracing each side. Ortiz and Darvik’s role included coming up with a stage, video and lighting design that could cater to a large, open fairgrounds space. “It's a very flat ground that required a high stage so we came up with an 8ft high, 360 degree stage design that lets cars in the back rows see as well,” said Ortiz, who also oversaw the build as production manager. “Because there is a variety of acts that come in, the lighting design had to be flexible and easy to use. We designed a rig that can cater to all types of acts with effects that light it up at night under all kinds of weather.” Ortiz says he also wanted to cover all sides of the stage as there are cars all the way around it. “It’s been a great design and with performers playing to all sides it gives it a personal touch.”
The designer says that because they wanted to avoid followspot towers that would obstruct vehicles, bands of Elation Seven Batten 72s were placed all around the stage that act as footlights and keylights. “They work amazingly well and the punch and colour is just beautiful,” he says of the colour-changing LED battens with seven colour multi-chip LEDs. On each side of the stage are powerful Cuepix 16 IP™ matrix LED panels with all-weather protection that serve as blinders and houselights.
Spread throughout the rig as backlight, and mounted in a centre circle truss for stage lighting, are Seven Par 7 IP par wash luminaires, which are also used as truss warmers to set the entire structure aglow. In one of Ortiz’s favourite looks in the build up to the show the base colour goes pink as cars enter the site. The look reflects the “Concerts in Your Car” branding and the colour scheme returns at the end of the show.
Concluding the Elation package, Protron 3K Color LED strobes work from the circle truss for special effects while SixPar 100 colour-changing par lights highlight branding on the structure’s skin. Other automated lights also make up the lighting package and some acts do bring in a supplemental floor package. Atmospheric haze and mid-air projection canopy is provided by Antari M-11 foggers.
Darvik Productions supplied all the lighting for both “Concert in Your Car” sites and worked with Elation’s Raul Fonseca on the Elation portion of the rig. “Raul was an amazing partner in the build of our Del Mar venue. I’ve known him since before founding Darvik and he has always been there for us as part of the team,” said Ortiz, who started Darvik Productions in 2012 with Elation as the first lighting equipment he acquired.”
“Concerts in Your Car” has not only been a success with many events selling out, it has fulfilled a need for music lovers to experience live events again. “With the limitations we have to face today, it has been a form of entertainment that our community has truly enjoyed and appreciated,” Ortiz concludes. “We’re glad we’ve been able to be a part of it.”
photos: Brittany Berggren
1st December 2020
Lighting the Tallest Building in Africa for Xbox launch
South Africa – The Leonardo, a 234-metre mixed-use property development in Sandton, Johannesburg and the tallest building in Africa, was lit up for the South African launch of the new Microsoft Xbox Series X console. It stood out against the night sky highlighted in green by Robe BMFL moving lights, with the Xbox logo emblazoned onto the top of floors of the tower.
The lighting, crew and technical production were delivered by event technical specialist MSTARR working for event producers Penquin.
Amassed media, press and VIPs watched the spectacle unfold from the rooftop balcony of the nearby Radisson Blu Hotel on Rivonia Road, a vantage point offering the best views, with the event also clearly visible from all around the Sandton CBD and beyond. It brought plenty of positive energy and vibes to the city amidst a challenging year.
The launch lighting scheme was designed by Greg Angelo and MSTARR’s Gareth Chambers who chose Robe’s powerful BMFL fixture because: “It was the only fixture that could do the job and blast enough light across the 550-metre throw distance.”
In one of the most inspiring stories to emerge from the SA lockdown, MSTARR Productions has recently been taken over by Gareth and his business partners – sound enthusiast, Zweli Ngcobo and company CFO Landy Yeatman – and undergone complete restructuring ready for a new era of enterprise. This was their first major high-profile brand experience event.
To illuminate The Leonardo thoroughly and spectacularly, 18 Robe BMFLs (six BMFL WashBeams and 12 BMFL Blades) were installed in three different locations.
Gaining the required permissions to do this involved getting the agreement of three separate buildings and their management and security companies: the Benmore Shopping Centre roof parking, the Sandton Gautrain station parking lot, and the Radisson Hotel which also had fixtures positioned on its actual roof.
Two BMFL WashBeams and four BMFL Blades were deployed in each location, an operation that included manually carrying the kit up staircases in some cases to reach to the respective rooftop positions. Each set of luminaires was controlled locally by a grandMA Dot2 console.
Three of the BMFL Blades were fitted with custom Xbox gobos for projecting a crisp, clear image onto the building, with local power utilised at the Radisson and the fixtures in the two parking lots running off generators.
The set up was completed the day before the event and was also tested that evening.
On the night, the 30 or so socially distanced VIP guests first joined a reception at the Leonardo Hotel, and at dusk were shuttled just up the road to the Radisson and taken to the balcony which revealed stunning views of The Leonardo illuminated in green and overlaid with the logos.
The Leonardo’s permanent LED architectural lighting scheme was also turned green for the event.
“I was delighted with the BMFLs,” enthused Gareth, “they did exactly what we wanted and needed, and they were the only lights in South Africa that could have done the job.” He has in fact used BMFLs for similar long throw applications before and to cover even longer distances up to 850 metres, so he was confident the lights were up to it.
The challenge on this project, apart from the physical effort of getting the fixtures in place, was the weather. Bang in the middle of the rainy season, downpours in SA during this time can be erratic and when they happen it’s like a biblical deluge rather than a polite sprinkling! Happily, it held off on the event night and the previous set-up evening.
The client was delighted with the results, the VIPs were suitably impressed, and Xbox X Series sales have gone through the roof in SA, so the launch has had the desired effect and looked amazing in the process!
The Leonardo, which includes apartments, office and commercial spaces, ground floor shops, a hotel and more, was completed in 2019 and by 36 feet became the tallest building in Africa, topping out the 223 metre high Carlton Centre in down town Johannesburg, which had held the title since 1973.
Gareth, Zweli and Landy – experienced event and live industry professionals each with around 20 years’ experience – see a bright future ahead for MSTARR.
While they were not planning to take over the company before Covid brought events to a standstill, they saw an opportunity for both MSTARR Productions and its well-respected sister company MSTARR Events Solutions run by Carla Human, Monique Bester and Thato Ngcobo to offer full in-house technical services as well as complete event management with flair and imagination.
The winter saw a complete repositioning of MSTARR ready for emergence from the Covid period. While the SA events industry has been very quiet since March, some green shoots of hope are appearing and its hoped that smaller and more creative Covid-compliant events will start to happen.
Photos: Anriette Van Wyk (Kief Kreativ) and Cameron Becker
1st December 2020
Vista by Chroma-Q Shines on Central Asia’s Got Talent
Asia – Earlier this year, lighting designer, Dmitriy Karabetskiy utilised Vista by Chroma-Q’s Vista 3 lighting and media control system to deliver spectacular lighting for the inaugural series of Central Asia’s Got Talent.
A spin-off of the Got Talent TV show franchise, one of the world’s most successful reality TV formats, with versions in over 68 countries, Central Asia’s Got Talent showcases acts from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Season 1 premiered on the Khabar, Zo'r TV, KTRK, and Safina TV channels.
Dmitriy, who had previously worked on The X Factor Kazakhstan, was brought in to oversee the lighting production.
Dmitriy needed to create a lighting design tailored to the unique aesthetics of each performance, which ranged from dance and vocal acts, to magicians and acrobats. An important factor in his design was the need to create synergy between the accompanying music and video footage used for LED screens within the set.
Dmitriy found Vista’s timeline and timecode features very useful for programming to the show’s format. Each performance was assigned a separate cue list, which was synchronised to the lighting and sound by MIDI timecode.
He commented: “What really distinguishes Vista from other consoles I’ve tried is its Timecode editing function. Shifting the start of all cue lists to a specific time is so easy, enabling me to re-arrange cue lists at a later date to match the final show running order. In addition, changing the timings of programmed events graphically, without having to remember the syntax of these commands, is great.”
Dmitriy was also impressed by Vista 3’s improved visualisations and customisable workspaces, which have enabled him to work even faster and achieve better designs in the available production rehearsal time.
The impressive rig of over 300 fixtures included various LED wash, spot and beam lights, blinders, profiles and PARs.
Summarising his experience using Vista 3, Dmitriy commented: “I've been using the Vista control system for over seven years and in my experience, it's the best solution for controlling large lighting rigs on these types of entertainment shows.
He added: “Vista 3 is very simple, clear and visual. It provides an extraordinary on-screen representation of everything that I want to achieve. All changes are visual and easy to understand, and everything is for the convenience of the designer, not the programmer.”
Visit www.vistabychromaq.com to download the free demo version of the official software release and find your nearest dealer.
30th November 2020
Mission Impossible for Robe and Liteup Live at the Warehouse
UK – Popular UK rockers Nothing But Thieves recently played a sizzling hot series of ‘Live from The Warehouse’ pay-per-view live stream concerts, designed by Warren Hutchison and directed by Tim Perrett, that traversed three time zones: USA, UK and Australia / Asia Pacific, having just dropped new single ‘Impossible’ and announcing a major UK, Ireland and European tour for autumn 2021.
The warehouse was Fareham-based lighting rental specialist Liteup’s premises, part of which has been repurposed and energised for streaming activities since the first coronavirus lockdown started in March.
Warren, who specified Robe fixtures as the majority of the lighting rig and is also a regular freelance LD and technician for Liteup, pitched a production design to the band for the streams which showcased hits, plus new music from their forthcoming album, Moral Panic.
His design was based on their idea for an in-the-round setup, to which tour and production manager Andy Sweeny added a B-stage area for acoustic numbers and the more intimate moments of the set.
The project was managed for Liteup by Gordon Torrington, who commented: “The idea was to replicate a live concert look in the studio, including high production values. The space is ideal for this style of performance, and Warren produced an innovative and great looking design that was a perfect fit!”
The Studio occupies one end of Liteup’s extensive warehouse facility, and the 14 metre wide by 12 metre deep floor area features three flown roof trusses.
The Robe package comprised 16 ESPRITES newly purchased by Liteup at the start of the year, just before the pandemic brought everything to a standstill, so these were the main profiles, keylights and specials, joined by 16 LEDBeam 150s, 16 MegaPointes and 16 Spiider LED wash beams, all divided between the overhead rig and the floor.
One-hundred-and-thirty-two LED pixel tubes formed the video elements and brought additional kinetics and fluidity to the visual picture.
Warren combined all of this into a colourful and dynamic visual showcase for the band.
All the lights were pulled from Liteup’s stock, which includes a substantial investment in Robe and some other top brands, and the company supplied the seven-camera package for the stream together with PPU / control.
The key was in being flexible and having enough latitude in the rig to cover all 28 songs that were played across the three different stream presentations.
Another challenge was that being in-the-round, it had to look consistent and continuous from all camera angles, and when they stripped back everything in the acoustic section, that needed to have its own ambience a notably different visual impact. That’s why Warren selected the Robes.
“I love the ESPRITE,” he stated, adding that although he’d not had much time to use these newest Robe TE LED technology fixtures from Robe, he found them “extremely useful” and “excellent” in combination with Robe MegaPointes.
The main stage area was set up in an L-shape for social distancing purposes.
Ten vertical trussing towers were arranged around the space in two semi-circles to give a basic geography and shape the space, each rigged with one ESPRITE and two strobes, plus the LED video battens which were also loaded onto the towers, so they filled the back of camera shots with movement, colour and funky effects.
The remaining six ESPRITES were all up in the rig for the key lighting, joining the MegaPointes, used for effects, camera-candy and the striking beam-technology looks they do so well, as the Spiiders effortlessly washed the floorspace from above.
The little LEDBeam 150s were arranged on the floor in between the 16 moving LED battens.
The B-stage was lit with a mix of tank-trap mounted tungsten battens and 2-cell blinders on three metre poles, and also in the studio there were additional blinders, plus strobes and moving LED bars.
Warren’s main challenge was to balance the band’s enthusiasm for strobing and smoke, ensuring that the cameras always had sufficient light to work with.
The streams took place over two days. Gordon and the crew had a few days set-up in the studio and Warren had four days off-site programming at home before joining the Liteup crew.
The camera operators were Rob Judge and Ray White, video content was created and operated by Rob Benson, and Brooke Chapman was an amazing addition to the Liteup studio team as their production runner.
The streams were critically acclaimed, very well attended and received and gave music fans a much-needed opportunity to engage in the absence of any live shows right now due to the coronavirus pandemic!
In addition to Nothing But Thieves, other artists in recent months have included Tesseract, Hot Milk, Never Not Nothing Moondance, Bleed from Within and Sylosis. Earlier in the year, Liteup staged their own charity fundraising 24-hour DJ stream ‘Techs on The Decks’ featuring 24 talented DJs who also work as technicians and backstage across the live music and events industry.
Liteup would like to thank the artists and their team – Nothing But Thieves – Conor Mason (lead vocals / guitar), Dom Craik (guitarist / keyboardist), Joe Langridge-Brown (guitarist), Philip Blake (bass) and James Price (drummer).
Gary Curtis looked after the broadcast sound while Dave Ruffle mixed the monitors Stuart Crossman Dew stage managed and also did backline together with Nan Wyatt.
The artist management team were Stefanie and Richard Reines and photo evidence of the crime scene was provided by Anthony Black.
photos: Anthony Black / MrB Pix
27th November 2020
Storms and Salvation Brought to Life by DiGiCo’s SD12 for The Flying Dutchman Opera
Lithuania – This August saw a magnificent production of The Flying Dutchman, Richard Wagner’s fifth masterpiece, brought to Lithuanian opera fans for the very first time. Staged in a unique open-air setting by the Klaipėda State Musical Theatre and featuring leading Lithuanian soloists including Sandra Janušaitė, the event became one of the most celebrated musical productions of the year, selling out all of its socially distanced 1,000 seats to lucky spectators. Dual DiGiCo SD12 96-channel consoles with two SD-Racks and D2-Racks were selected by one of the largest audio rental companies in the Baltics, NGR Service, to bring the magic of this one-act opera to life.
Fitting its original theme, the opera production took place on the slipway of Paul Willy Lindenau shipyard complex in Klaipėda, with its colossal structures and hoists, as well as frequently changing weather conditions, presenting the NGR team with some major challenges right from the start.
“The setting in the historic cruise ship terminal made for a unique and spectacular location, but it also meant dealing with rain and winds of up to 20m/s whilst thinking of how to make the orchestra and soloists sound as natural as possible, as this would be staged in an acoustic concert hall,” reminisces NGR’s FOH engineer, Tomas Ždanovičius. “On top of the weather challenge, we also had to deal with constantly moving actors across a 50 metre stage, or even outside the stage at time, as well as special effects such as falling water and a real-life ship appearing during the performance. There were definitely one or two ‘firsts’ for us in this production.”
In order to deal with such a challenging odyssey, NGR chose the DiGiCo SD12 console, which offered their team the ease of operation, fast function selection, and “without doubt, the best sound of any console currently on the market,” adds Ždanovičius.
Deploying their best technical minds and top-quality sound equipment on the site allowed the team to fully realise the creative production ideas of concept and artistic director, Dalius Abaris.
“When it came to sound, it seemed that everything was against the NGR team,” says Abaris. “On location, the sound engineers repeatedly analysed and evaluated wind speeds as well as rigging positions of the sound system depending on where the audience would sit, which would sometimes change on a daily basis due to the latest COVID restrictions. One day we had one ground floor layout, the next day another.”
Impressed by the professionalism the NGR team showed in the face of such adversities, Abaris explains how the team worked relentlessly to ensure they could transmit every sound to each member of the audience.
“Another complexity was, of course, the stage size,” he adds. “This was a big challenge, not just for the sound team but also for the performers. When people are separated by over 40 metres distance, the monitoring systems visibility and relationship with the conductor all have to be watertight, so to speak, not to mention the main PA and the delay systems.”
NGR deployed two SD12 consoles, with the main one serving the soloists, orchestra, and special effects and submixer return groups; the other was used as a submixer for the choir’s 48 personal headsets. In total, between two consoles, 146 channels were utilized, not including FX returns.
“The scale of this production was just immense, and I didn’t hear a single artist saying that they felt uncomfortable singing, which is a major credit to the team's abilities,” shares Abaris. “The installation of the sound equipment was a long process, as the team had to rig the system on an over a century-old shipyard construction. They had to measure everything very precisely before putting up the three main PA clusters and the delay lines. The panning of the soloists was so accurate that the audience’s attention was focused on where the sound was coming from. It was definitely a feat to behold.”
The entire set-up included 70 wireless systems for the opera performers with omni-directional headsets, and a further 50 systems for the orchestra with clip-on lavalier mics and more. DiGiCo’s SD12 became invaluable when dealing with the soloists, who were in seven fixed positions across the stage, which was configured in ‘layers’ of around 50 metres in width.
“This was all dealt with by having pre-programmed panoramas in different Snapshots, with manual pan movements as necessary,” explains Ždanovičius. “The audio material for the entire show was recorded in multitrack and having the ability to expand the console with DMI cards was very convenient.”
Speaking about the functions on the SD12 that were particularly useful in this complex production, Ždanovičius notes the importance of the ergonomics of the console, as well the easy accessibility of the work surface, which helped him react fast. “Additionally, it was useful to be able to arrange the layout of the console in any way needed, as well as having all necessary channels next to each other, independently of the input list positions. Finally, having two separate touch sensitive screens made my work as fluid as it can ever be,” he adds.
Broadcast live on Lithuanian national television, LRT (Lietuvos radijas ir televizija), Wagner’s operatic feast passed with flying colours and was met with standing ovations by the fascinated audience.
“This was probably the first opera in Lithuania where there was no criticism from musicologists, critics or sound professionals – certainly that I'm aware of – so it was a complete success all the way,” states Abaris proudly.
“Working with the best orchestra and leading soloists of Lithuania requires the best sound quality, because everyone, from production directors to choir members, knows how the orchestra should sound,” concludes Ždanovičius. “This is why DiGiCo consoles are chosen for these types of events, we can always trust the equipment. We particularly valued the system flexibility we gained with DMI cards: in this particular production, with the help of DMI cards and UB MADI we could split all the inputs to the OBVan, multitrack recording (main and backup), submixer and FX computer, which made the entire workflow seem like a serene ocean breeze amidst the storms and salvation of this magnificent production.”
27th November 2020
Shure and The Montreux Jazz Artists Foundation Showcase a Sensational 'Autumn of Music' in Switzerland's Iconic Music Town
Switzerland – Each summer, The Montreux Jazz Festival (MJF) takes place for two weeks in Switzerland, on Lake Geneva's shores. Shure has backed the festival each year since 1995 by providing on site support and a large number of wired as well as wireless microphones. Sadly, of course, this year is different, and like so many events across the globe, MJF 2020 was unable to take place.
Determined to ensure music lives on despite the current global crisis, the team at The Montreux Jazz Artists Foundation (MJAF), a non-profit foundation helping to promote up-and-coming talent, has maintained its activities despite the cancellation of July's annual MJF festival dates. Coined “Autumn of Music”, a series of COVID-secure performances and workshops were successfully staged in October.
The free week-long event consisted of concerts by emerging Swiss talent and the Montreux Jazz Academy, plus workshops, music listening and jam sessions. Music plays a vital role in our societies as one of the many human activities that make life worth living. Naturally, the artists and the public alike quickly expressed their delight in experiencing music together once more, and the event was a resounding success.
More than ever through these difficult times, the Montreux Jazz Artists Foundation is eager to carry out its initiatives to support new talent, encourage the development of their careers, and foster creativity while sharing music.
“In this chaotic context, the human and artistic values of the Montreux Jazz Artists Foundation, namely creativity, talent, sharing and coaching, have a particularly powerful resonance. The Foundation’s initiatives in support of emerging musicians, creativity, and career development have never been more essential,” says Viviane Rychner Raouf, MJAF’s secretary general.
A passion for live music is enshrined in what makes Shure the company it is today. It is at the heart of the company's 95-year history and forms the bedrock of every other corner of the business. When the opportunity came to support MJAF in its mission to ensure live music continued in Montreux through 2020, Shure was delighted to get involved.
"We've worked closely with the Montreux Jazz Festival for 25 years," comments Tuomo Tolonen, Shure's senior director of pro audio for western Europe. "This commitment is not only as a technical partner to the event but also in key talent-focused initiatives. When it became clear that 2020's event would not take place, it was always going to come as a disappointment. However, the music industry is notoriously determined and resilient, as demonstrated by the success of Autumn of Music. We're delighted to work with the MJAF in securing the success of this event, and we look forward to MJF 2021. If history is anything to go back, next year's event will be more spectacular than ever before."
In pPicture: Afra Kane performs onstage during the final concert of the Montreux Jazz Artists Foundation’s annual Academy at MJAF 2020.
27th November 2020
White Light Supplies GH Boy at Charing Cross Theatre
UK – Back in September when it was announced that theatres could play to socially-distanced audiences, this saw a range of venues prepare for their re-opening. One of these included the Charing Cross Theatre which re-opened with the world premiere of GH Boy. The lighting designer was Tony Simpson, who approached White Light to supply the lighting equipment.
GH Boy is a brand-new piece of writing which aims to tackle the misconceptions around gay culture and promiscuity. Set in the burgeoning party scene of East London, it focuses on Robert, who has to cope with tragedy and addiction, all whilst avoiding the wrath of an unnamed killer. Prior to its Charing Cross run, the show was originally going to play at The Vaults. Tony explains: “We were initially supposed to be opening in April and heading into the Waterloo tunnels. We had site visits, meetings and I’d even formulated a design. Then the outbreak of Covid happened and the entire production had to be pulled.”
Like many other freelance designers, Tony found his entire workload for the rest of the year suddenly disappear. He remarks: “It was an incredibly worry time as overnight my diary just emptied. Like most freelancers in the industry, I wasn’t sure where the next pay cheque was coming from and this continues to be the case for so many.”
It was in the second week of September that Tony would receive an email which would offer him his first project in months; one which would see him literally pick up where he finished back in March: “I got an email from Paul Harvard, the writer and lead producer of GH Boy. He told me he’d received some emergency fund money and that GH Boy had been chosen to re-open the Charing Cross Theatre. It was completely out of the blue yet something I of course leapt at the chance to do.”
GH Boy would play at a stripped-down Charing Cross Theatre that would have 90 seats as opposed to the normal 250+. The company would have to rehearse in the space as well as comply to all of the government guidelines and be frequently tested. Tony explains: “We were all so keen to just get the work on but equally as keen to be safe. On day one, all of the company were given a Covid test. Similarly, everyone was wearing masks and maintained social distancing. It was incredibly well thought out and testament to the producer’s planning.”
The Charing Cross Theatre is the only theatre in Central London that is set up in-the-round. As such, it was perfect for GH Boy. Tony explains: “The Vaults show was going to be in traverse so thankfully it was a very similar set-up. My design has to change, mainly as at The Vaults you have to account for infrastructure, racks, rigging; all of which the Charing Cross had. As such, when it came to the hire, I was able to focus on obtaining the specific fixtures I needed to help tell this story.”
For his rig, Tony drew on Martin MAC Aura XBs, a fixture he regularly uses on smaller scale studio productions. For the crosslight positions, he used our GLP Impressions X4 Bar 20s, which offered great coverage but were also very quiet, a necessity for the show. He also used a single Vari-Light 2600, meaning his rig was all LED and incredibly flexible. He explains: “The play moves at a very fast pace and the director wanted the light to help steer where we were in terms of location. For instance, the main action takes place in a therapy studio so we wanted a warm, safe feel for these scenes. Whereas in the outdoor scenes, or those set in a nightclub, we wanted something much different. The lighting essentially became the backbone of the production and help guide the audience through the story.”
Tony and the team had a five-and-a-half-day technical rehearsal before their first preview on Wednesday 4th November. However, this first preview was going to be their last, with the government announcing a new national lockdown that was to begin the very next day. Tony explains: “We were all incredibly disappointed that after all of our hard work, this was cut short by the new measures and that we were back to square one. However, putting on a show during a global pandemic is somewhat extraordinary and I’m so proud to be part of this production.”
GH Boy will actually re-open on 3rd December 2020 and run for the rest of that month.
Tony concludes: “While it’s been a slightly surreal year, and this production was no exception, what was fantastic was knowing that WL was there as a constant support throughout. I have a long-standing relationship with the company and want to thank them, particularly Dave Isherwood, for all of their support with GH Boy. It truly is a special project and we cannot wait to share it again with audiences next month.”
photos: Bettina John
27th November 2020
Eikon Group Relies on Alcons for Critical Screening Rooms
USA – Despite being launched just six years ago, Eikon Group has already established itself as a leading player in the digital audio mastering, versioning and localisation industry, with a client list that includes many major studios and entertainment distribution companies. Eikon recently opened a major new facility in Burbank, California, which features Alcons Audio pro-ribbon systems in four of its audio critical, Dolby Atmos screening rooms.
With clients that include Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, Disney, 20th Century, Netflix, CBS, Universal International Pictures and Warner Bros, Eikon has to maintain the very highest audio standards. The new 20,000ft2 (1860m2) Burbank complex houses a range of state-of-the-art post-production suites, ranging in size from 125ft2 (12m2) to 1200ft2 (112m2). These include two large and two mid-sized Dolby Atmos listening rooms, all using Alcons Audio pro-ribbon solutions.
The complex was designed by Hollywood-based Studio 440, with Eikon Group chief information officer Jon Gardner choosing Alcons systems based solely on listening tests.
“Jon wanted to be one of the first players in the Burbank post-production market, because he was so confident that it will become a staple of the industry,” says David Rahn, Alcons’ North American sales manager.
The larger two rooms each feature three CR3 medium-format pro-ribbon screen systems, four 12” CRS12 large-format reference surround, two CB362 high-output double 18” subwoofer systems and two CB211FVsl shallow 21” subwoofer systems.
The medium-sized rooms each have three CRMS mkII Cinema Reference Monitor System, four CRS8 medium-format 8” reference surround and four CB181FVsl shallow single 18” subwoofer systems. A total of 92 CCS8 medium-format 8” surrounds are installed across the four rooms, with 12 Sentinel3 and four Sentinel10 amplified loudspeaker controllers powering and managing the systems.
Installed by LA-based Audio Intervisual Design, the systems were commissioned by David Rahn and Walter Fortmüller of Walter Fortmüller SAVO.
“This cutting edge installation is a prime example of how a finely tuned Alcons Audio system excels in providing a benchmark and reference point in aural truth throughout the production and post-production cycles, from end to end,” says Walter.
“With its clean transparency uncovering the most delicate nuances, unmatched impulse response and dynamic range, the pro-ribbon technology is true to any source and any genre,” continues Walter. “For any application in audio, Alcons systems are equally at home as a 24/7 working tool or delivering pure listening enjoyment and excitement, where they reveal the original intent of the artist in unsurpassed detail.”
Jon agrees, adding: “All of Eikon’s theaters are equipped with Alcons systems, both in our London-Soho facility and in Burbank. It was an easy decision for us to make, the pure sonic performance and clarity that you get with Alcons allows us to maintain the highest possible quality output and listening experience for our customers and their content.”
26th November 2020
Sennheiser and PXL reimagine Synrise with GOOSE
Belgium – Belgian electronic rock band, GOOSE, has a fan base that spans Europe. They have produced four albums and headlined at major festivals including Rock Werchter, Pukkelpop and Tomorrowland. 2020 marks two decades of success and also sees them celebrate the tenth anniversary of their second album, Synrise, the cover of which, interestingly, was designed by British graphic designer, Storm Thorgerson, well-known for producing many of the legendary Pink Floyd album covers. To mark the occasion, and to give their fans something special in these strange and challenging times, GOOSE collaborated with Sennheiser and the Music Research Expertise Unit of Belgium’s PXL University of Applied Sciences and Arts to produce an extraordinary binaural recording and mix of the album’s title track, which was released on 22nd October.
GOOSE – Mickael Karkousse (vocals/synth), Tom Coghe (synth), Dave Martijn (synth) and Bert Libeert (drums) – is never afraid to think outside of the box when it comes to developing new ideas in terms of music production and live shows. When the idea came to record an immersive version of Synrise, both Sennheiser and PXL, known for pushing the boundaries of innovation in audio technology, saw an opportunity to deliver something new and significant in the development of immersive audio.
“A couple of years ago, we were introduced to immersive sound for multiple applications such as a new way of live mixing and of experiencing live music in a room, or by using the technology as musicians in our IEMs,” says GOOSE. “To be honest, none of these applications seemed useful to us. We love the simplicity of a good old rock ’n roll show; speakers left and right and a crowd jumping up and down. But now that this is all gone for an uncertain amount of time, we were looking for ways to engage with our fans. And suddenly the immersive technology made complete sense. Not as an effect or as a geeky experiment, but to help us to tell our story.
“It’s our answer to all the streaming shows; the way we have always looked to build a real connection with our fans. And streaming in poor video and audio quality wasn’t up to both our fans’ and our own standard. So integrating immersive sound in a live recording shot in one take by one of our best directors of photography, Maximiliaan Dierickx, was the only way forward.”
Working with GOOSE was, according to PXL’s Tom Van Achte and Arthur Moelants, a natural process. Deciding on a binaural mix, which filters the sound, tricking the brain to believe a source comes from any given direction, the team at PXL partnered with Sennheiser for the project, knowing the audio experts’ AMBEO 3D immersive recording solutions, particularly the AMBEO VR Mic, would be ideal for delivering the results they were looking for.
“At PXL, we are researchers in immersive audio, so we know the recording set up is always the starting point, and you have to be aware of what the output will be,” says Van Achte. “For Synrise, we made the decision to record many sources and use many mics. The position of the band in the room was crucial, but by fortune that’s also how they rehearse, so it was a good starting point. We were in the lucky position where Sennheiser and Neumann supplied everything we asked for, along with some additional options such a Neumann KU 100 Dummy Head mic, which we used as a reference for the video editor, but in essence was a research tool for us.”
“In ‘normal’ live circumstances, we would use a stereo PA to amplify our sound,” explains GOOSE. “This means that all our instruments would come from only two directions: left and right. For the recording, we set up amps behind each musician and made an organic mix that was perfect in the centre of the room as a reference point, but it was crucial that it also sounded great at any point in the room. This has the advantage that when the camera travels in the room, it records the sound of the exact spot the cameraman finds himself in. Adding to that, PXL set up microphones in each corner of the room to record the full spectrum of sounds, giving us the opportunity to record the room completely. All these tracks were used in the final mix to give you an optimal sensation of being in the room with us.”
Whilst spot mics were used in the mix to ensure the audio came from the correct place relative to the position of the camera, making for a more natural experience, a Sennheiser AMBEO VR mic was also mounted on the camera, using four SK 6000 bodypack transmitters for wireless operation to allow the cameraman free movement around the room. The drum kit was close-miked using two Neumann TLM 103s for overheads, a Neumann KM 184 for the hi-hat and two Sennheiser e 904s for toms, with electronic samples used for kick and snare. A Sennheiser e 935 was used for the drummer’s vocal and two Neumann KMS 105s were deployed for additional vocals. Four overhead Sennheiser MKH 8020 omni mics were also used in the mix, as the camera did not only move horizontally around the room, but also vertically, so these opened up the overhead layer.
The final result is a combination of the AMBEO VR Mic mixed using the dearVR Ambi Micro plug-in, with direct lines from the synths and mics, giving a balance between AMBEO and the multi-track recording. All sources, with the exception of the AMBEO VR Mic, were automated in a DAW according the movement of the camera, the movement of the video being a vital component in being able to follow where the sound is coming from.
“It’s more our overall vision and the position of the mics that’s important,” Van Achte explains. “With the help of Frank Voet, GOOSE’s FOH engineer, we took a day to get the sound we wanted into the mics. We did it ‘old school’, just by listening. It sounds logical, but people forget. The choice of mics also determines part of the sound and there were not many alternatives to the VR mic on the camera.”
“The result was exactly what we had hoped for,” concludes GOOSE. “The camera invites you in the room with us and as a listener/viewer you really have the impression that you are hearing the sound of the room. When you stand closer to Dave you will hear his parts more upfront than when standing in front of Bert’s drums. Really like you were in the room with us walking around in the studio room.
“We are particularly proud that we used this technology from a musician's/producer’s point of view. We love live instruments and love to record them in the most organic way. And this is exactly what we did.”
25th November 2020
Limelite Lighting Limited advocates MDG for television and film production
UK – “If you’re planning to create atmospheric effects, these are the entertainment industry’s go to products,” states television and film lighting hire company, Limelite Lighting about the MDG fog and haze generators in its inventory.
Ideally placed in Goudhurst, Kent, within easy reach of television studios in London and Maidstone, Limelite has been an advocate of MDG haze generators since it was founded in 2007. Directors Ed Railton and Matthew Mountier, both with long-standing freelance careers in theatre touring and television lighting respectively, purchased ten MDG ATMOSPHERE haze generators at the outset and are still using the same machines 13 years later.
“We both had extensive experience of MDG through our freelance careers and knew them to be the best,” says Railton. “We liked the level of control, the fineness of the haze and the smooth, even dispersion the ATMOSPHERE gives; it’s so fine you can’t see the haze until light is passed through it.”
Limelite Lighting’s initial engagements were with theatres and small television studios, but the bulk of its work today is in television, with the majority in outside broadcast and many sub hires to larger TV and film rental companies.
“Over the years we have seen a change from DOPs’ traditional requests for cracked oil hazers to the cleaner option of MDG ATMOSPHERE haze generators which have become the lighting directors’ hazer of choice,” says Railton. “The ATMOSPHEREs leave very little residue on lenses, gobos and accessories.” This has proved an important factor for cameramen, and for maintenance technicians who spend less time cleaning moving lights and cameras post-show.
“MDG has all the flexibility, control and reliability we need as a rental house,” continues Railton. “Every job is different: studios work within limits and are 100 per cent controllable, but outside broadcast is more complex, wholly reliant on the weather, and changes by the minute. A DOP can call on you at any point with just a ten minute window in the weather. But we can take advantage of the ATMOSPHERE’s 100 per cent duty cycle and use the DMX controller to respond instantly to whatever is needed.”
All Limelite’s ATMOSPHERE generators are housed in bespoke flightcases with spare gas and fluid bottles as complete, transportable units for quick deployment wherever required. The company offers a choice of DMX and manual control generators to suit client needs. Recent productions employing MDG ATMOSPHERE include MTV’s Just Tattoo of Us and Simon Amstell’s latest DVD Benjamin.
“From a hire company’s perspective, our MDG ATMOSPHEREs have proved a good long-term investment,” concludes Railton. “The generators are never out of action so we need something reliable and strong, and easy and quick to maintain. Ours have been solid as a rock, the parts are readily available and they are very economical on fluid. Clients know what they are getting and like what they get.”
Limelite Lighting continued to film during lockdown No 1 with The Ranganation and Mo Gillingan’s All Star Happy Hour, while lockdown No 2 saw them busy with a new series of SAS Who Dares Wins, The Great British Sewing Bee and preparations for some of the pantomimes that are still lined up over Christmas.
25th November 2020
Highlander Wash for ATP-Doppelpack in Cologne‘s Lanxess Arena
Germany – After the 2020 professional season was marked by numerous tournament cancellations, two unscheduled ATP tournaments did go ahead in Cologne’s LANXESS Arena. The bett1HULKS Indoors (12-18 October) was followed directly afterwards by another top tennis event: the bett1HULKS Championship (19-25 October), as part of the ATP Doppelpack (Doublepack) Tour 2020. 80 high-performance HIGHLANDER washes from GLP provided optimum lighting coverage on the hard court, as well as for TV cameras.
POOLgroup GmbH was responsible for the lighting technology for both tournaments. Project manager Robert Sommer had overall responsibility for lighting design, conception, court lighting, effect lighting and ambient lighting, supported by Ollie Olma. The 80 HIGHLANDER Wash, supplied by POOLgroup, were built into touring trusses above the hard court in order to bathe the main court in white light, suitable for television.
With its 1,400W light source, and a large 230mm front lens, the GLP HIGHLANDER Wash delivers an impressive light output with optimum quality. With a native colour temperature of 6,000K, the HIGHLANDER light source has CRI, CQS and TM-30 values of 90+ each and is therefore recommended for demanding applications in large halls or open air, whenever large distances have to be bridged.
The HIGHLANDER’s high-performance optical system has a motorised 7:1 zoom / focus combination that enables intense beams from 5° to smooth, flat 63° Wash. In addition, it has an aperture slide module in which each slide can be closed individually from 0 to 100% and pushed in over the beam at an angle of ± 30°. The entire shutter unit can also be rotated ± 45°.
After two weeks of continuous use, project manager Robert Sommer was completely satisfied with the moving lights: “The HIGHLANDER convinces me time and again thanks to its homogeneous light output and their identical colour temperature, even across a large number of devices. A two-week continuous operation, as we had at the two bett1HULKS tournaments in Cologne, goes far beyond the standard requirement. Fortunately, we had no problems or even failures to complain about. In my opinion, the reliability also speaks favourably for these powerful GLP washlights."
"The POOLgroup decided early on to deploy a large number of HIGHLANDERs, also due to the fact that the devices are in demand in the touring, as well as in the TV and open-air sector," says Andreas Brandt from GLP, who has looked after the company’s requirements for many years.
photos: Julian Huke / POOL Group
24th November 2020
Elation IP-rated lighting the choice for outdoor drive-in events
USA – Pandemic or not, IP-rated lighting will always be the smart choice for outdoor events. This autumn’s Drive-In Concert Series at the Westland Mall in Columbus, Ohio, proved that axiom well as an all-weather Elation rig braved the elements for eight straight weeks of live music shows.
The live music world was quick to pivot to the drive-in format for live events and Prime Social Group, based in Columbus, was a leader in the mid-west. The full-scale production and promotions company ran eight weeks of safe live music experiences in the now familiar car pod layout and brought in acts such as Major Lazer, NGHTMRE, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Chase Rice, Fitz and the Tantrums, and others.
Lighting vendor for the Drive-In Concert Series at the Westland Mall was White Light AV, a full-service audiovisual company and Elation dealer based in Mundelein, Illinois. “Choosing to use Elation on this project was an easy one as I have already been stocking their fixtures for years, and have recently started to move into more IP products,” said White Light owner Nathan Klein, who served as production manager on the project. “Working with John Dunn and Erich Meitzner at Elation makes after-sales support super-efficient and easy.”
Klein delivered a lighting rig that included Elation’s 50,000-lumen Proteus Maximus LED profile as well as Paladin hybrid strobe/blinder/wash lights, ZW37 II LED moving head beam/wash effects, and DTW Blinder 700 IPs. “I might be slightly biased, but using a lot of Elation IP fixtures was the perfect choice for eight weekends of outdoor drive-in concerts,” stated Elation sales rep Erich Meitzner, who worked together with Klein and served as lighting director on the project. “The goal was to have the rig sit during the week and the IP fixtures allowed us to do that.” Throughout the course of the eight weeks of shows, Meitzner reports that not a single Elation fixture needed to be swapped out. “It worked great week after week which let us focus on the show at hand rather than fooling with the rig.”
The IP65-rated Paladin LED multi-effects delivered powerful strobe flashes but also served as colour-matching washlights thanks to its high luminosity, chromatic performance and six to 32-degree zoom. The Proteus Maximus units with its abundance of power and comprehensive effects package provided backlight and blistering aerial looks. Meitzner comments: “It was my first time really getting to release the Maximus out into the wild, and it is an incredible fixture! It really packs that 50,000-lumen punch, plus the colours are stunning.”
The Drive-In Concert Series at the Westland Mall ran from 10 September to 31 October and was a big success, serving as a much-needed respite from the coronavirus pandemic while giving joy to dedicated live music fans of the area. “Being some of the first live events back has been slightly daunting, but we accomplished it as a team,” Meitzner says. “I definitely want to thank Nate, Scott, Zach and the entire team at Prime Social Group for putting these shows together.”
photos: Eric Cunningham
24th November 2020
Bandit Lites Delivers Lighting to Socially Distanced Commencements at University of Tennessee
USA – The University of Tennessee, Knoxville held ten in-person commencement ceremonies 19-22 November at Thompson-Boling Arena for spring, summer and fall 2020 graduates. Bandit Lites supplied a lighting system for the socially-distanced event which included additional health and safety protocols, allowing graduates and their families the opportunity to safely gather to celebrate their momentous accomplishments.
“Though the ceremonies will look a little different, we have worked to preserve the spirit of a typical commencement so we can celebrate all our graduates, who have worked so hard for this moment,” said Provost John Zomchick in a press release.
Bandit Lites donated nearly 100 fixtures including VL 3000 Spots, CUEPIX Blinder WW4s, Chauvet COLORdash Block Lights and Bandit’s exclusive GRNLite Moving Washes.
“Much of the lighting we do for commencement could be considered utilitarian,” explained Bandit Lites client representative and project manager Giff Swart. “We want the graduates to look good for pictures, so we need to have even lighting coverage. We also pay close attention to colour temperature, so pictures look natural and colours are true. The CuePix WW4 provide nice coverage of the graduates in their seats. We used 54 GRN Moving Head LED Wash to light the ramps and stage; they just continue to be workhorses and are as punchy as ever! 12 VL 3000 Spots were used to highlight the lectern and other key positions. We used Chauvet ColorDash Blocks to light foliage and flags on the stage.”
Each ceremony was limited to 200 graduates with a set number of guests. Everyone was required to wear masks and the seating was assigned and socially distanced. Graduates crossed the stage and refrained from handshakes or physical hoodings, and then left the arena, limiting large crowds from exiting at one time.
“The planning for this event was done very carefully in order to maintain social-distancing,” said Swart. “One big departure for this event was that we did not use any black drape on our upstage truss in order to mitigate any possible restrictions in air flow.”
“As I am a proud graduate of the University of Tennessee, Bandit gives back every year,” said Bandit Lites founder and chair, Michael T. Strickland. “Graduation is one of the many events Bandit illuminates for free; it is our way of saying thank you to the school that does so much for so many. It feels good to get back to in person, socially distanced graduations to allow the new graduates the experience of walking across the stage and starting the next chapter in their lives. It is a very important moment, and Bandit is proud to be involved. Our illumination creates an environment that the graduates will forever remember.”
24th November 2020
SQ Sets the Pace for World Rowing Championshps
Poland – An Allen & Heath SQ-5 console was in the thick of the action at the World Rowing Championships, held on Lake Malta in Poznan, Poland in October.
Audio engineer, Marcin Baran from MTS Studio chose the compact SQ-5 to handle all live and streaming sound, including eight commentary channels in multiple languages, wireless mics for the medal ceremonies and music playback. The SQ-5 was fitted with an SLink card, giving Marcin the extra SLink port needed to deploy independent GX4816 and DX168 I/O expanders. One expander fed the various zones of the lakeside complex, while the second fed the main PA in the medals area as well as multiple speaker zones in the stands, with help from the built-in delays on the SQ’s busses. Further mixes were sent to commentators’ headphones, to two separate livestreams and to an OB van.
As heats started on the far side of the lake and ended 2km from the spectators, a key challenge was to give fans in the grandstands and viewers at home a sense of immersion in the races. A submix of ambient mics captured the waterside sounds and starting signal from the start line, sent via old analogue cables laid under the lakebed many years ago. The signal proved quite noisy, so Marcin connected a laptop running Waves X-Noise Native via SQ’s USB port to identify and tackle the problem frequencies. Once the boats were underway, feeds from ambient mics from cameras mounted on a boat following the athletes kept the audience in contact with the action on the lake.
With so many different elements to stay across, automation and streamlining of workflows were essential, as Marcin explains, “I created one group for all commentators that didn't feed into any of the mixes but triggered the duckers on all music inputs. I used an analogue Bettermaker mastering limiter for the streaming and I used eight instances of SQ’s DynEQ4 dynamic EQ on all the commentator channels. With the mixer set up in this way, everything practically mixed itself, leaving my hands free to look after the music. For me, the SQ is a small, handy mixer with enormous possibilities. I love using this mixer on tour with bands, also SQ-5 is the heart of my mobile recording studio set-up.”
The championships ran over three days, with The Netherlands heading the 17 nations represented on the medals table.
23rd November 2020
iHeartMedia New York’s 106.7 LITE FM Flips to All Christmas Music with Stunning NYC Drone Light Show by Verge Aero
USA – Signalling the start of its around-the-clock festive music broadcast, iHeartMedia New York’s 106.7 LITE FM marked its “Flip to Christmas” in the New York City skies with a dynamic, animated aerial light show from Verge Aero, the leader in drone show technology. The pre-recorded live stream aired at litefm.com on 13 November from 7pm-8pm.
Verge Aero flew 200 drones in Manhattan from a safe launch zone on Governors Island in the New York Harbor. Accompanied by a medley of Carrie Underwood’s first-ever Christmas album, My Gift, the drones created a spectacular visual celebration with the New York City skyline in the background. The show featured a series of colourful, precisely choreographed festive imagery and animations including a Christmas tree, a drummer boy, a snowman, opening of a gift, a ringing bell, a dove being released, the Empire State Building and concluded with Milton Glaser’s iconic “I♡NY” logo.
Originally scheduled to launch Friday, 13 November, the show was moved up three days due to a threatening weather forecast. Verge Aero had to create the show on site in four hours because of the schedule surprise and earlier commitments.
“Our open platform allows us to quickly import graphics and animations and create shows on the fly,” said Nils Thorjussen, CEO of Verge Aero. “The software takes care of all the safety critical aspects of flight so that designers can focus on making their show look beautiful.”
106.7 LITE FM wanted to do something extra special for New Yorkers, and this unforgettable aerial celebration was certainly that.
“We knew we had to do something unforgettable for our annual flip to 24/7 Christmas music on 106.7 LITE FM,” said Joe DeAngelis, director of marketing for iHeartMedia New York. “That’s why we teamed up with an incredible team at Verge Aero who helped us to flawlessly execute the city’s first-ever drone light show over Governors Island.”
“This show concludes a manic burst of activity for Verge Aero, with five shows in three countries over nine days,” said Thorjussen. “We capped off the election season on Saturday, only to help launch the holiday season in New York City a few days later, with a product launch for Xbox in between. The back-to-back nature of these shows highlights the rapid deployment capabilities of our system. Drones can now be incorporated into production workflows, just like any other piece of entertainment technology.”
23rd November 2020
Robe for Berlin ‘Back to Live’ Waldbühne shows
Germany – Germany has been noticeably proactive in its quest to stage Covid-compliant live shows and events to attempt to get some of the industry moving again and people used to going out and about. One of these was the Berlin Waldbühne “Back to Live” concerts, a socially distanced event concept running throughout September at the city’s famous open-air venue organised by promoter Semmel Concerts Entertainment GmbH.
Berlin-based full production service specialist TSE was asked by the venue management team, CTS Eventim AG, to supply a flexible festival-style production lighting and video rig complete with visual design that would work for a wide range of performing artists. Lighting for this was specified by TSE’s Ronny Rud Reinhold and included Robe BMFL WashBeams, MegaPointes and Spiider moving lights among other luminaires.
The venue has a large stage covered by a tensile roof that normally holds 22,900 guests, but this was revised in relation to government restrictions at that time for outdoor shows to 5,000 for Back to Live, including staff, artists and crew, with the line-up including popular schlager superstar Roland Kaiser, rapper Sido, comedian, jazz musician and multi-instrumentalist Helge Schneider, singer Wincent Weiss and a special schlager-extravaganza night with Peter Maffay, one of Germany’s top-selling artists.
“We chose this classic festival lighting set-up,” stated Ronny, “to make things as smooth and straightforward for all the guest LDs and lighting operators,” which included the choice of fixtures as all these Robe luminaires are commonly used across many different event sectors in Germany.
With these Robes in the rig, shows could early and painlessly be adapted, a strategy that was proved right as they didn’t have a single discussion with an LD about the types of fixtures, apart from Roland Kaiser’s LD Andreas Kisters who requested four additional BMFL WashBeams for the front truss.
These were to cover backing vocalists and soloists who stepped forward onto the stage apron.
Ronny and the TSE team also consulted the assorted artist rider requests before picking their fixtures and, finally: “We needed fixtures robust enough to hang outdoors for five weeks in September where the weather can be erratic,” he said.
The fixture placement on the rig was coordinated by TSE’s head lighting systems tech Klaus Graewert who took an operator’s perspective when doing this.
The ten BMFL WashBeams were on the front / advanced truss, six each of the 24 MegaPointes and six each of the 18 Spiiders were on the three overstage trusses.
The BMFL WashBeams used for general front washes, keys, and specials and for livelier and louder pop, hip hop and rap acts; they doubled up for eye-catching audience illumination.
The Spiiders and MegaPointes were used for general stage washes and effects respectively. “The Spiiders did a good solid job in stage washing,” reports Ronny, commenting that the bright razor-sharp beams could be seen from all over the Waldbühne and beyond.
These and the other fixtures, which included strobes plus 8-lite and 2-lite blinders, were all controlled via a grandMA2 system.
“Everything worked extremely smoothly and efficiently,” commented Ronny. “Everyone on site was basically very happy to be working again onstage and get a little bit of a festival feeling at last in 2020 after such a tough year and all missing it so much! Any special requests by artists were swiftly accommodated and there were many smiling faces.”
“It was simply amazing to be back doing what we love, that was a huge motivation for all of us and we had such a good time,” he enthuses, adding that they also believed it was important to show the industry and the government just what is possible in terms of safely staging shows and events during the pandemic, including getting the public to once again trust that it’s safe to buy tickets, go out and enjoy some great evenings with their favourite artists.
This might sound like a simple thing, but with the whole Covid scenario, statements like this are huge! And take on so much additional significance for the industry.
The relevant Covid protocols as designated by the local Berlin regional government were co-ordinated on-site by a team of hygiene-trained staff led by Alexandra von Samson for Semmel and David Busse from the Waldbühne.
All crew wore masks at all times and kept 1.5 metres distance as much as possible and the load in / outs were scheduled over longer periods with measures taken to ensure that departments could work in their own zones when possible. More trucks were utilised to keep the pace going and flowing so equipment could be loaded and unloaded faster and easier.
Everyone had to be registered for the government’s track-and-trace system, but happily, there were no cases on site for the period.
photos: Sebastian Greuner and Milan Schmalenbach