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Independent, Flexible, Scalable: Follow-Me with the Rolling Stones SIXTY Tour Summer 2022

Independent, Flexible, Scalable: Follow-Me with the Rolling Stones SIXTY Tour Summer 2022

UK - Looking back across a year of success for Follow-Me BV and clients, it became clear that lighting designers are choosing to use the Follow-Me 3D system exactly for why and how the company has designed and built it. British company Woodroffe Basset Design has specified Follow-Me on a number of productions during 2022, acknowledging independent, flexible, scaleable as the reasons for doing so and Follow-Me lived up to expectations when on tour with Rolling Stones SIXTY tour this summer.

The show had a new set design by Stufish, customised for each venue yet clearly briefed to give the typical look, feel and experience of a classic Stones concert with the origina,l 40 years long lighting designer Patrick Woodroffe as creative director bringing, Ethan Weber in as tour lighting director. Terry Cook, associate lighting designer at Woodroffe Bassett Designs oversaw the needs of this summer tour with fixtures and positions chosen for all staging and weather conditions.

Key to Woodroffe Bassett Design was allowing the show to feel real, as if it was being operated in an original followspot way, they wanted flexibility with the system as they were not always in the touring roof meaning their overhead rig changed a lot and their FOH towers moved venue to venue and they know from previous Follow-Me projects the system is adaptable.

Terry Cook explains why Follow-Me was the correct choice: “We chose Follow-Me as we wanted a remote system that we had previously used on a large-scale project. Follow-Me allows us to use multiple lights from different positions that made it simple yet creative along with not taking up too much space with operators in the FOH area.”

Cook continues to explain the choice to work with moving fixtures as followspots “At FOH, for the first time ever, we specified ten Ayrton Domino LT units attached to the Follow-Me followspot system. This is a new long throw unit of the Domino range and is also IP rated so it takes the weather concerns away. Our spot towers moved around a lot from venue to venue but we found having the Domino LT spot very useful and the light performed well.”

The flexibility of using the Follow-Me remote followspot system allowed for the five remote followspot operators to be positioned comfortably and safely in the control tent with the rest of the lighting team at the side of the stage. The ten Domino LT fixtures assigned as followspots with the Follow-Me 3D system were rigged on two FOH towers with an average throw of 38.5 metres.

“This was our first Stones tour with remote followspots, a big decision for us,” says Weber. “Our standard followspots, stacked four high, house left and right, always bothered me: all but the top spots were too low and washed out much of the stage. There have been systems out for a few years now that could probably handle the job, but it was the combination of the Domino LT's intensity and especially, IP rating that swayed us.” The fixture independent nature of Follow-Me also enabled three Martin Professional Mac Vipers to be integrated into the followspot set-up.

Due to the scale of the staging, two Follow-Me 3D SIX systems were utilised with an additional Follow-Me SIX System on tour as back-up. The Follow-Me camera set positions were carefully chosen to give a full view to the followspot operators of the main stage, wings, catwalk and surrounding downstage audience; everywhere that the performers may, planned or spontaneously, chose to perform from. Two Follow-Me 3D SIX systems were used to insure the operation for the followspotters would be easy. Typically multiple scaleable systems are only required if the performance area is immense. In this case one system had the full show file and one only the calibration points and the cross hairs. These, in the second show file, were used – via PSN – from the first show file as a remote extension. Due to the large distance between camera position and main stage, the flexibility of Follow-Me allowed for one large monitor with the entire system overview and one close-up view of main stage to be set up to insure operators had a good visual of this area to followspot smoothly.

FM tech for the tour, Grant Hickley, was aided by FM project manager Ramon Rijsdijk to insure the Follow-Me 3D Systems were utilised perfectly. Tweaking features to enable Grant to deliver a fine tuned repeatable set-up in each location. In particular the stage was masked in the 3D mesh to insure the backlights would not blind the audience. In the case that the back-up Follow-Me system may be required Grant programmed the set up to enable a fast, smooth “switch to backup” if required. In each location, time during two days was allocated for set up, calibration and programming of the Follow-Me Systems, the pre-show prep for each location was also key to a smooth running build-up and production.

Cook says about using Follow-Me: “Having Follow-Me with us on the road allows us to always be creative and look for new spot moments, when you have the artists we do, we want reliability, and the system was great in all weather conditions. Grant Hickey from NEG Earth was on the road, each morning he would measure and map the stage system, we never had a moment of panic that this was not possible or achievable. I was very impressed at the reliability of the system and the support we got.”

Photo: © MH Vogel

30th January 2023

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