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Video Design create ELO fantasy

Video Design create ELO fantasy
Video Design create ELO fantasy

UK – Visually there has always been a sense of fantasy and science fiction to Jeff Lynne’s ELO while musically his massively successful song catalogue inhabits a clear fusion of pop, rock and classical. It’s proved a happy combination on record and, as a live act, led to an epoch defining tour with a flying saucer in 1978. Bringing that sense of scale and sci-fi to stadium stature for 2017 has been the task of production manager Chris Vaughan and a creative team lead by Tim Routledge. Like Lynne himself, they have plundered several genres, not least by recreating the flying saucer for the 21st century to ‘fly’ above the stage and by using video on an epic scale.

“The stage is wrapped in a back wall of seven very tall and closely packed portrait LED screens derived from the Muse Haarp tour,” Is how Video Design’s Alex Leinster describes it. “Add two even taller screens for IMAG on the PA wings and it’s a big logistical project; four trucks full of LED tiles alone!”

Vaughan had clear imperatives: “This was to be the briefest of outings, just two stadium shows at Wembley and Hull and two in arenas. It needed to meet the tightest budgetary constraints but still fulfil the need for a true spectacular. I knew Alex and his crew could readily provide the right LED system; Video Design are very nimble on their feet and easily able to scale up for big demands like this. It meant we had certainty on costs and feasibility in short order.”

It was Misty Buckley as part of the creative team who had proposed the new flying saucer. She and Routledge also suggested many of the initial conceptual ideas for the video content that would dominate the stage screens: “The content was developed by Ben Ib of HyperVague studios,” explains Video Design’s D3 specialist Luke Collins. “As an evocation of classic fifties and 60s' sci-fi iconography it’s a marvel. There’s nothing more satisfying than marshalling great content onto such a vast panorama.”

For the IMAG to the sides Vaughan engaged video director Mark Davis: “Mark had previously done several shows for us; he has a good measure of the material and great sensitivity for what Jeff’s management and the audience wants.”

A five-camera set-up, the indoor/outdoor nature of the show presented Davis with a challenge. “Due to height restrictions indoors, the IMAG screens had to be the opposite of outdoors and rigged landscape,” explains Davis. “Two very different framing needs. Fortunately, the Video Design crew that work as camera ops are all used to the different aspect ratios and know how to frame shots for me. That’s what I like about working with Video Design, great gear and really good crew. Just look at the racks and what you see is all well thought out and very neat; beautifully done. I’ve been using a Carbonite desk for this, I believe Alex bought several of them last year but this is my first time using one. He’s made a good investment, an excellent piece of kit and lovely to work with.”

“This was a whole new show from Lynne’s outing last year,” concludes Routledge, “And a quite different order of magnitude. Even when we’ve played indoors and were unable to fly the saucer, we have been able to create a very high impact presentation. A fantasy world that both band and audience could inhabit. I’m really pleased.”

11th July 2017

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