Production News

Production News Headlines

Multi Olivier Award-winning London production of Sunset Boulevard utilises Sennheiser for creative performance solution

18/06/2024

LED bars envelope Wells Fargo Center with Hippotizer-driven rainbows for Pride Month

17/06/2024

Infinity and Showtec do mama proud

14/06/2024

Eurovision Accents Linear Space with Chauvet Professional COLORado PXL Bar 16

14/06/2024

The Arto of Robe

13/06/2024

Eric Price debuts Elation SŌL I Blinder on Taking Back Sunday tour

13/06/2024

Events United Kicks Off Summer at University of New Hampshire with Chauvet Professional

13/06/2024

Sound engineer Sergio Maschetzko chooses Austrian Audio for English Teacher

13/06/2024

DiGiCo Quantum7 Lets Noah Kahan’s Monitor Engineer, Clark Wright, Manage a Complex Stage

12/06/2024

Stage Precision ensures smooth sailing for Carnival Cruise’s mixed-reality primetime campaign broadcasts

12/06/2024

Para La Libertad’s scenic wall lit by GLP’s impression X4 Bar 20

12/06/2024

Audiovisual success with Ayrton at the first major event in Spain’s renovated Santiago Bernabéu: Telefónica 100 Live

11/06/2024

Version 2 Supports Lighting Director David Bishop for This Year’s Britain’s Got Talent Auditions

11/06/2024

Martin Dudley Evokes Spirit of Yes Classic Tales Tour with Chauvet Professional

10/06/2024

Bravo Duo! Andrea Bocelli Takes Two DiGiCo Quantum852 Consoles on Tour

10/06/2024

Coachella’s Yuma Stage Augments Experience with PK Sound

07/06/2024

Proson Staging Invests in JTS Professional Microphones from StageOne

07/06/2024

Skan Designs Powerful Arena System for James Blunt’s ‘Who We Used To Be’ Tour

07/06/2024

In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats

07/06/2024

Pop on Top with Showtec, Infinity and DMT

07/06/2024

Robe T1s go “Upstream” for National Ballet of Portugal Production

07/06/2024

WPS/WPC combo ensures successful debut for Vortex dance fest

06/06/2024

Andrés Campos Creates Sparkling Show for Eladio Carrión with Chauvet Professional

06/06/2024

Lite Alt Invests in Kinesys

04/06/2024

The National Works with Robe in New Zealand

04/06/2024

Multi Olivier Award-winning London production of Sunset Boulevard utilises Sennheiser for creative performance solution

Multi Olivier Award-winning London production of Sunset Boulevard utilises Sennheiser for creative performance solution
Multi Olivier Award-winning London production of Sunset Boulevard utilises Sennheiser for creative performance solution

UK – When Sunset Boulevard’s 16-week run at London’s glittering Savoy Theatre turned from a standard theatre production into a ground-breaking technical challenge, sound designer Adam Fisher and production engineer James Melling, rose to the task. With the help of Sennheiser’s equipment and expertise, including Fisher’s system of choice, Digital 6000, they devised a robust solution that would work night after night.

With Nicole Scherzinger in the lead role of Norma Desmond, the sell-out run of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s iconic musical was the hottest ticket in town. Heading to Broadway in the autumn of 2024, it is already a multi-award winner, most recently winning seven Olivier awards including Best Sound and Outstanding Musical Contribution. The haul of seven awards means that it ties with classic shows like Hamilton, Matilda and Cabaret for the most Olivier statuettes awarded in a single night.

The technical challenge started when the request came through to film and live stream the actors outside the theatre as part of the performance. Whilst the performance was ground-breaking in many aspects, following cast members out from their dressing rooms to the street, then to the stage was something new, but the compatibility of Sennheiser’s products made integrating live video and audio streaming into the existing system a complete success.

“I’m a big fan of Sennheiser, so it was always going to be a Sennheiser show, the fact there was camera work and video work meant we expected our main challenge to be RF interference from the big screen,” Fisher explains. “Once we were into rehearsals, show director Jamie Lloyd had the idea to do some remote action. It was a lot of work to figure out the best way to make it happen. Not only from a radio mic point of view, but also from an IEM standpoint.”

“Sennheiser is our go-to solution for all of Adam’s productions,” adds Melling. “On this show we’re using D6000 receivers with SK 6212 mini-bodypack transmitters. With the added challenge of leaving the building, we needed the reliability of long battery life in addition to the strong antenna design and small body-worn packs. The really cool thing was the EK 6042 camera receiver. It works with all the Sennheiser products and uses the same batteries, so we could integrate it with our existing charging solutions.”

Filming the performers as they left the building every night, then travelled back to stage through tight corridors without losing signal at any point was a technically exciting challenge and Matt Bird, radio lead at Autograph Sound, was happy to work on it.

“We needed to utilise multi-zone antennas, a mixture of Sennheiser AD 3700 directional and A 1031-U omni-directional antennas, which is something we don’t often do in theatre,” Bird explains. “This system gave us rock-solid RF reception inside the building and when we left the building, we were able to connect to camera receivers seamlessly, which gave us additional range and flexibility. It’s hugely ambitious and is what sets this solution apart.”

Working together, the team settled upon the aforementioned two-channel EK 6042 camera receivers. They are compatible with a wide range of both analogue and digital Sennheiser microphone systems, including Digital 6000, and feature a very wide switching bandwidth of 184MHz to cover multiple transmitter frequency windows. The EK 6042 has exceptionally low latency, so the performers can stay in time with the music as they perform in a completely different and remote environment.

Relationships are also key to solving challenges and having a great relationship with Sennheiser means the whole team benefits from their expertise. Kevin Gwyther-Brown, Sennheiser’s business development manager was instrumental in ensuring the team in the theatre and at Autograph Sound had all the information they needed, offering expert advice and insight.

Will McGonagle, hire manager for Autograph Sound expands on the power of strong industry relationships. “Autograph’s relationship with Sennheiser goes back decades, and it’s stronger than ever. Kevin looks after us incredibly well and it means that when last-minute ideas like this come up, we can respond instantly,” he says.

Always keen to keep abreast of the latest developments, Fisher attended Sennheiser’s Sound Experts event in Düsseldorf to find out more about the upcoming Sennheiser and Neumann technologies, such as Wireless Multi-channel Audio Systems (WMAS), to support new developments in theatrical performance.

“Using the SK 6212 transmitters for Sunset Boulevard just keeps everyone happy,” Fisher says. “The small size and incredible battery life make them stand out from every other competitor, but the new WMAS technology is even more exciting. It would make situations like escaping outside the theatre more easily achievable and give us some really creative options. WMAS technology will open up many more possibilities, it’s a really exciting design tool.”

“We were delighted to have Adam join us at our recent event in Germany which aligns perfectly with the Sennheiser Group’s strategy of keeping sound designers and industry professionals up-to-date on the latest technologies, as well as offering a glimpse of what’s coming next,” concludes Gwyther-Brown. “This is integral to the trust and openness between us and our industry peers.”

18th June 2024

LED bars envelope Wells Fargo Center with Hippotizer-driven rainbows for Pride Month

LED bars envelope Wells Fargo Center with Hippotizer-driven rainbows for Pride Month

USA – The exterior of Phildelphia’s 21,000 capacity Wells Fargo Center has been lit up with a rainbow colours installation to mark Pride Month, with ClearLED X-BAR LED bars driven by tvONE's Green Hippo brand of Hippotizer media servers.

Lighting and projection designer Rachael Cady was asked by Mark Fink at Green Hippo dealer and integration expert Barbizon Lighting to create the installation in collaboration with the Wells Fargo Center team. It will run throughout global Pride Month.

As part of a recent upgrade of the exterior lighting, Barbizon specified a Green Hippo Hippotizer Amba+ MK2 to run the LED bars, with surround screens that for June are displaying the Progress Pride Flag LGBTQ+ colours. The effect is further augmented by Acclaim Linear One DMX uplighter fixtures reflecting the rainbow theme. The LED bars were supplied by Jones Sign company and the content was created by the Barbizon team.

“The Amba+ MK2 was chosen for its versatility and ability to easily map to the non-traditional positioning of the lighting bars,” explains Cady. “We also chose it for its ability to listen to a variety of commands to execute the various looks that the Center was looking for. We needed a one-button automation solution that would not only change the architectural lights but also execute the content in the Hippotizer. Video mapping and the other geometry and image warping capabilities made it possible to make content in a traditional raster that we could then place exactly where it needed to go to render correctly.”

To realise the content, Cady utilised Hippotizer features including videomapper, colour correction, saturation and effects like shutter to make everything align perfectly. “We also used the Hippotizer’s relay feature to send content from one mix to another for ease of programming,” adds Cady. “All the control commands are received via TCP/IP through MultiController and control timelines and presets in the machine.”

The team at the Center is operating the system throughout the month, controlling the LED bars and uplight fixtures using an ETC Mosaic system. “It’s an expansion of a control system already in place that now controls the Hippotizer, so they were very familiar with the interface and how it worked. I did a lot of programming on the Hippotizer to make things work in a very simple, one-button interface. I also created an operations page on the Hippotizer itself enabling direct control via ZooKeeper. The IT department at Wells Fargo set up a secure platform for us to login remotely to do any small adjustments or changes anywhere there is internet.”

The result is an eye-catching display of LGBTQ+ support, beaming a message of inclusion and allyship that can be seen not only on approach to the Center, but also from the nearby highway. The installation is also fitting as the Progress Pride Flag originated in Philadelphia.

photo: © Rachael Cady / Wells Fargo Center

17th June 2024

Infinity and Showtec do mama proud

Infinity and Showtec do mama proud
Infinity and Showtec do mama proud

The Netherlands – The 29th edition of the free Mama’s Pride Festival took place in Burgemeester Damenpark in Geleen, Netherlands on Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th of May. Reflexion Evenemententechniek supplied the lighting equipment and T.Y.S signed for the design.

Mama's Pride has been known for years as the most convivial pop festival in the Netherlands. The free festival takes place annually in the Burgemeester Damenpark in Geleen, the historic site where the nationally and internationally renowned Pinkpop festival once began. At the 2024 edition, 66 acts performed across six different stages. In total, as many as 19,000 visitors enjoyed acts such as Roxy Dekker, STONE and Meltheads.
T.Y.S was responsible for the technical production and Reflexion Evenemententechniek supplied the technology for all stages and the site lighting. Quite an arsenal of fixtures from Infinity and Showtec were used for the entire festival.

The new Infinity Raccoon S420/4 fixtures were real eyecatchers. With a whopping 70,000 lumens, this fixture provided unprecedented powerful wash and strobe effects. The ten separate wash segments and five strobe segments provide endless possibilities to create a unique show. Meanwhile, 12 Showtec Shark – The Meg – Beam One moving heads delivered colourful, dynamic, powerful beams with stunning LED ring effects. The Showtec Polar Wash 740 brought more LED ring effects and added vibrant, colourful beams that go from 3.5° to 44° thanks to its motorised zoom. To add extra atmosphere around general areas of the festival, 24 Showtec Helix S5000 Q4 washes were attached to trees using the Showgear Tree & Pole Mounting Bracket MKII. All in all, using fixtures by Infinity and Showtec ensured that the festival benefitted from top-notch lighting effects.        

Mama’s Pride will be holding its 30th edition on Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th May 2025 and if this year’s event is anything to go by, it’s likely to be a very special one.

photos: Sanne Hamacher (studio SAVVY)

Infinity and Showtec do mama proudInfinity and Showtec do mama proud

14th June 2024

Eurovision Accents Linear Space with Chauvet Professional COLORado PXL Bar 16

Eurovision Accents Linear Space with Chauvet Professional COLORado PXL Bar 16
Eurovision Accents Linear Space with Chauvet Professional COLORado PXL Bar 16

Sweden – On 14 December, Eurovision unveiled the theme art for the 2024 edition of its iconic song contest. With a theme called “Eurovision Lights,” the design is based on simple, linear gradients inspired by the vertical lines found on auroras and sound equalisers.

The 163-million television viewers who tuned into the Eurovision Song Contest this May were also captivated by another collection of linear patterns as they watched the contest. These ones, however, more often horizontally oriented, as senior technical director Ola Melzig and his team, including designer by Florian Wieder, accented the lines of the stage the Malmö Arena in bright, bold and brilliant colours with 524 COLORado PXL Bar 16 motorised battens from Chauvet Professional.

Acquired through the company’s Swedish distributor Interlite, and supplied by Niclen through Creative Technologies, the IP65 rated, pixel mappable RGBW battens were “pretty much everywhere,” according to Melzig. Lighting designer Frederik Stormby used the fixtures to outline the arena on three different levels, in addition to accenting the contours of the set from the ground to the ceiling and providing backlighting for the acts.

“Fredrik’s design was all straight lines, so these fixtures were perfect to outline it with lovely colours and dynamic looks,” continued Melzig. “We looked at a number of battens. The PXL Bar 16 was our choice because of its size, power efficiency, and output. This is a very bright fixture that produces lovely colours.”

The COLORado PXL Bar 16 was part of a historically massive show, which had a 210-ton rig, 50-tons more than any rig used at Malmö Arena in the past. Melzig notes that the design used 700 universes, plus another 700 universes pixel mapped through media servers.

Putting the size and scope of this production in perspective, Melzig pointed out that it is a world apart from his first Eurovision Show 16 years ago. As he recalls it, that show used 12 universes, which at the time was considered extraordinarily large.

The sheer scale of this production would have been unimaginable back then. Managing a production of this size presents special challenges, but Melzig relishes meeting them, noting that because of the scope and size of this rig, his creative team is able to meet the demands of creating unique and captivating shows for 37 contestant songs, three openings and six interval acts. “My job is to put together a tool chest that’s as big as possible for my creative team,” he explained.

Melzig has been following that philosophy for 16 years at Eurovision, as every season he strives to enhance his rig with fixtures representing new and advanced technology, a group that this year included a large representation of Chauvet Professional COLORado PXL Bar 16 battens.

At the end of the Grand Final, Switzerland’s song, “The Code” sung by the artist Nemo, was declared the winner, starting the clock on planning next year’s production, a production that will undoubtably feature more servings of the latest technology.

Eurovision Accents Linear Space with Chauvet Professional COLORado PXL Bar 16Eurovision Accents Linear Space with Chauvet Professional COLORado PXL Bar 16

14th June 2024

The Arto of Robe

The Arto of Robe

Belgium – Arto Company is a rental and full technical production company (lighting, sound, video, rigging etc) based in Wavre, the French-speaking region of Belgium, and working vigorously across the concert touring, festival, live event and corporate sectors.

The company’s first Robe purchase was in 2019 and since then the inventory has expanded dramatically with the latest purchases being 16 iFORTES, 48 LEDBeam 350s and 18 Tetra2s, which join over 100 other Robe fixtures in the house, including 24 ESPRITES, 48 LEDBeam 150s, 18 x T1 Profiles and two RoboSpot systems.

“We started observing that Robe was a clear market leader and the products were increasingly appearing on artist riders,” explained Arto’s lighting team manager Alain Meys (pictured), “and so that constant demand for the products made us take notice and realise that we needed to invest in what people were requesting!”

He and the lighting team looked at all the various Robe products and ranges and chose the most flexible options for their client / show / event portfolio, finding that ESPRITE in particular was a wise choice to service their work, ideal for lighting virtually every production.

Alain noted that they specifically liked the ESPRITE’s intensity, framing shutters, colour mixing system and the zoom. “All these features are essential for the bulk of our general work,” he confirmed.

The iFORTES were then purchased for the larger shows and events, when that extra boost of power and punch is needed. They specifically wanted the iFORTE variant for its IP65 rating which is great for all their exterior work.

ESPRITES and iFORTES are often used on the same projects, typically iFORTES would be deployed for the front lighting on a stage or in the advanced position for keys and specials, while ESPRITES will be above the performance area mid-stage or at the rear. “These two fixture types are a great match,” commented Alain.

The latest purchase of 48 LEDBeam 350s join Arto’s existing 48 LEDBeam 150s. The decision was made to get a good quantity of them “because this is really useful for many stage and event setups and always looks spectacular,” says Alain, adding that the LEDBeam 350s with their excellent 3.8 to 60-degree zoom are also a great wash light and highly versatile.

Initially when they saw the LEDBeam 350, the thinking was to use it as a washlight, but the extra brightness and bigger beam make it ideal for front, rear and fill lighting and it is very interchangeable with the LEDBeam 150s.

The team was already very happy with these LEDBeam 150s which Alain describes as “Exceptionally well-priced, good quality and customers love them.” They are a super handy little light for anything from filling small areas or accessing tricky positions to creating impressive beam technology looks with large quantities on big stages.

The original T1 Profiles back in 2019 were the first moving lights with framing shutters to join the Arto lighting inventory.

They had searched long and hard for the right luminaire and T1 ticked all their boxes for features, reliability and “best in class” functionality. The T1s have proved themselves repeatedly to be infinitely useful in so many different applications, for front, mid and backlight, but particularly for keylighting with their high CRI giving those beautiful, natural looking flesh tones.

RoboSpots were another demand-driven purchase and as the first company with two RoboSpot systems in Belgium, they also saw an opportunity to elevate Arto’s own operation. When these are not out on their own gigs, they are a valuable and popular cross rental item.

RoboSpots are quick and straightforward to set up and massively more adaptable and creative for any show.

At the time of writing, Arto was eagerly awaiting delivery of their Tetra2s, and had a show for them immediately after that happened.

While there are many moving LED battens out there, Alain and the lighting team appreciate Tetra2s utilising the same LEDs as the LEDBeam 350s, 150s, Spiiders and others, with the same flower effect, etc., which is great for continuity on a stage or performance space. “Every Robe fixture mixes so smoothly and elegantly with the others,” Alain emphasises.

Arto will design lighting for some of the shows and events they are supplying themselves, and at other times work with a designer appointed by production or the client. While most concerts and tours tend to have their own, they often end up completing a production design for festivals and corporate shows and Alain undertakes a lot of this design work himself.

“It’s been great to see Robe grow and develop as a brand over the last five to ten years,” he enthuses, believing that their independence as a privately owned business has had a very positive influence on this phenomenon, noting that all Robe fixtures in this timeframe have been highly successful and proved themselves as creative tools “and that’s why they are constantly being specified.”

Service and after-sales support was another important factor for any busy rental operation investing in a brand, and for Alain, the tech support and backup from Benelux distributor Controllux is “Fantastic! They are very responsive, knowledgeable, and always there for you.”

photo: Louise Stickland

13th June 2024

Eric Price debuts Elation SŌL I Blinder on Taking Back Sunday tour

Eric Price debuts Elation SŌL I Blinder on Taking Back Sunday tour
Eric Price debuts Elation SŌL I Blinder on Taking Back Sunday tour

USA – Taking Back Sunday lighting designer Eric Price is the first to tour with Elation’s new SŌL I Blinder, integrating the tiny yet impactful LED light into the rock band’s set on their current North American outing. Celebrating their new album, "152," the tour kicked off on 19 May in New Orleans and continues through the summer.

“I was looking for a low-profile blinder to skirt the risers, set pieces and steps; something powerful, functional and small enough to put on a pipe for easy travel, install and pull, and the SŌL fit the bill,” Price said. First shown at the LDI tradeshow in December, the SŌL I Blinder is not only compact and versatile enough to seamlessly integrate into virtually any stage setting, its RGBLAW LED engine offers full-spectrum colour and packs a punch at over 8000 lumens. Its modular design, coupled with a variety of mounting options, makes for endless creative options.

Price and tour manager Andrew Sprague talked design ideas with Taking Back Sunday vocalist Adam Lazzara, who Price says is very hands on with the look of the show. Looking back at styles as diverse as Queen shows of the 70s and the iconic sets of Soul Train, Price says Lazzara wanted a bold, traditional aesthetic with eye candy looks on stage and minimal moving lights.

“Obviously we weren’t going to bring out 100s of parcans, so we explored custom set pieces,” Price explained. “Looking at venue sizes and logistics, we needed something efficient and effective, and we settled on an idea of a lot of blinders.” After talking to Jason Reberski at lighting vendor JRLX, as well as Ross Blitz at Elation, Price says he realised that the SŌL fixtures were an interesting option. “With few moving lights, we needed something with versatility and the SŌL fit the need well.”

The set-up includes a 24ft wide by 4ft tall riser with steps, a drum riser stage left and a vocal riser stage right, all skirted with 44 SŌL I Blinder fixtures. The SŌL live on pipe in racks of four which clamp onto the back of the legs of the riser decks, a quick set-up and tear-down rigging plan that was worked out by stage provider Gallagher, along with JRLX. Elation SixBar 1000 LED battens provide side lighting.

Price does not go overboard on colour, which he says was a design point, instead accessing the fixture’s RGBLAW LED engine to discriminately shade the set and match the video content. “The colour mixing is great on them,” he states. “The lime is nice to see in a fixture like this and makes for a wider colour palette, including nice whites.”

The band’s passionate, melody-infused music, a mix of heavy numbers with quick transitions into quieter more emotional songs, gives Price the opportunity to use the fixtures in a variety of ways. “I enjoy transitioning from big white CTO looks or saturated colour sweeps down into a dark moody blue, just following the music,” he said. “You don’t need a lot of gobos, just colour and tempo.”

Taking Back Sunday music pairs well with strobe looks, which Price turns to tastefully at medium to low intensity. “They would destroy the crowd at full intensity they are so bright,” the designer said, noting that he generally runs the SŌLs at 30-35% with an end-of-show walk-off look at up to 60%. “People are always surprised when they find out I’m running them at 35 percent.”

 JRLX’s Reberski is enthusiastic about the SŌL fixture and its inherent possibilities, stating: “The SŌL I blinder is a perfect multi-purpose blinder fixture for JRLX and we have been very happy with their performance on this tour. The ability to attach any Bowens accessory to the front also increases the versatility in scenic applications!”

Price, who previously lived in Chicago, calls JRLX his go-to vendor and has enjoyed a long-time relationship with the Chicago-based company. “We’ve done a lot of jobs together over the years and really have a symbiotic relationship,” he says, adding that Jason and his team know how he wants things prepped “so I’m able to give them a spec and I know they’ll get it right.” That kind of good relationship trickles down to the client, Price says. “They know that they’ll be taken care of.”

The designer concludes by calling the grid of SŌLs a “pixel-mapping dream” and that when going into venues, he often meets house LDs who are excited to see the fixtures. “It's an enticing fixture with lots of possibility and I look forward to seeing what others do with them as well.”

photos: Salma Bustos and Charlie McCarty 

Eric Price debuts Elation SŌL I Blinder on Taking Back Sunday tourEric Price debuts Elation SŌL I Blinder on Taking Back Sunday tour

13th June 2024

Events United Kicks Off Summer at University of New Hampshire with Chauvet Professional

Events United Kicks Off Summer at University of New Hampshire with Chauvet Professional
Events United Kicks Off Summer at University of New Hampshire with Chauvet Professional

USA – Summer is “the time for the Live Free State to really shine,” declared one website for New Hampshire’s tourism bureau. Anyone who’s walked along the New England state’s pristine Atlantic shoreline or hiked the White Mountains would readily agree. 

But late spring also shined pretty brightly in the state this year, especially for those attending the University of New Hampshire Spring Concert. The three-hour event headlined by MTV Award nominate rapper Lil Tecca was backed up by a bold and intense light show created by the Events United team that featured 58 Chauvet Professional fixtures and 30 F4 IP video tiles.

Matching the music of the artists on the 48ft by 64ft stage, the production featured a penetrating industrial look with unique light angles, stark colour contrasts, an ample amount of dark space, fog and, of course, plenty of audience lighting.

“I wanted to create an edgier look using practical pieces on stage,” said production designer Rachel Fahey of Events United, who designed the show. “I included a decent amount of crowd lighting. I think it's important to include the crowd in what is going on stage. Crowd lighting can help them feel more comfortable to dance or sing along and for some, that's the best part about going to a concert.”

The rig featured 20 Maverick Storm 1 Washes, 12 Maverick Force 2 Profiles, 18 Color Strike M motorised strobe-washes and eight Strike 4 blinders, in addition to the video tiles.

Discussing the rig, Fahey noted: “The Storm 1 Washes was a multi-functional wash that we used for front light and audience light, while the Force 2 Profiles was there to add texture and depth with an assortment of gobos and brightness and the Color Strike Ms were great for pixel mapping and strobing. For audience lighting we relied on the output of the Strike 4 fixtures.”

Working with Fahey on the show were Ryan Lane, senior lighting engineer at Events United. “He played a huge role in making the show look its best, and showing the full extent of what the rig can do, his skill and timing were awesome to see,” said Fahey, who also acknowledged the show’s L2s Jack Redding and Matt Corso, as well as LED technician/Resolume technician Felipe Bida, project/production manager and talented audio team led by Chase Clark.

Looking back on the show, Fahey said: “We were really proud to have our amazing team pull off a show like this for the college students.” The show did send students off on a happy note at the end of their semester, setting a high bar for summer, even in a state as beautiful as New Hampshire.

13th June 2024

Sound engineer Sergio Maschetzko chooses Austrian Audio for English Teacher

Sound engineer Sergio Maschetzko chooses Austrian Audio for English Teacher

UK – Sergio Maschetzko is a busy man. Be it producing, mixing, as technical manager of the Lexington venue in London, or mixing front of house sound. Most recently he has been on a UK tour with highly tipped upcoming band, English Teacher. And he’s done it with a large selection of Austrian Audio microphones.

Having grown up in Uruguay, Sergio moved to London in 2001 to follow what he describes as his lifelong passion for music. He worked at the 12 Bar Club in London and was soon operating front of house for a variety of venues and bands.

In terms of live sound Sergio has most recently worked with Black Country New Road, Black Midi, Yard Act and has just completed the English Teacher tour which concluded at the end of May at Electric Brixton.

Sergio first had the opportunity to try Austrian Audio microphones at the Banquet Records / PRZYM venue in Kingston-upon-Thames. “I didn’t have my regular touring package with me so was lucky to be introduced to the OD505 and OC707 by Jacob the in-house engineer and I loved them,” he explains.

Since then the engineer has deployed a whole series of Austrian Audio microphones across the stage, and with English Teacher a total of 12 Austrian Audio mics are in action on almost all vocals and instruments.

On drums, a pair of CC8 small diaphragm condensers act as overheads, while on the snare a signature combination of an OD5 Active Dynamic and CC8 are used.

“I’d go as far as saying the OD5 is one of the best and flexible microphones I’ve ever used,” says Sergio. “It’s warm, bitey, but with amazing clarity too and it’s very robust. I’ve used it on pretty much everything including vocals and I love it.”

“I never mic the bottom of  snare, I only mic the top. Nobody hears the bottom in real life.” He continues: “The CC8, with a HPF engaged, is providing the attack, while the OD5 active dynamics provides the volume, the warmth and the full body.”

On Lewis Whiting’s two guitar amps Sergio is using an OC16 large diaphragm condenser and the OD5 in combination. 

“I love the sound this combination delivers, I’m genuinely running it completely flat on the console. It’s just a beautiful reproduction of the sound from those amps and I wouldn’t change that set-up for anything!”

On bass Sergio regularly uses a smaller 10” bass cab to capture attack and high-percussive bass tone in addition to a 4 x 12” cab. The OD5 is again in action here for the small 10” bass amp.

Finally, and most importantly on vocals, an OD505 handheld mic is used for the incredible dynamics of lead vocalist Lily Fontaine, while a further three OD505 are used as BVs.

“The Austrian Audio handheld vocal mics are amazing. In one word I would say clarity, but also with depth and full body, and low noise. They also require less gain so have really great feedback rejection.”

Concluding, Sergio is unequivocal in the performance of the microphones.

“As a live sound engineer, I like to create textures, whilst always maintaining the actual sound of the band from what’s coming to me at the desk. I can hear straight away if there’s an issue in the response of microphones but with Austrian Audio they sound amazing and I recommend them to any engineer!”

English Teacher will be playing at Glastonbury Festival in June, as will Sergio where he will be front of house for Yard Act. He says Austrian Audio mics will be in use for both at the festival.

13th June 2024

DiGiCo Quantum7 Lets Noah Kahan’s Monitor Engineer, Clark Wright, Manage a Complex Stage

DiGiCo Quantum7 Lets Noah Kahan’s Monitor Engineer, Clark Wright, Manage a Complex Stage

USA – When fans of Noah Kahan come to see one of the shows on his We'll All Be Here Forever North America Tour (assuming they can get tickets to this largely sold-out trek visiting stadiums, arenas and amphitheatres across North America between 26 March and 19 July) they’ll see six musicians on stage. What they’ll hear in addition to Kahan’s folky-pop melodies and piercing lyrics, are literally dozens of instruments.

“Everyone plays like 15 instruments each,” laughs tour monitor engineer Clark Wright (pictured), being only slightly hyperbolic. “One person plays a fiddle, 12-string guitar, mandolin and banjo, and everyone is just constantly swapping instruments. Aside from drums, I think the minimum that someone plays is three instruments and the most is seven or eight. This really is a band of multi-instrumentalists.”

Managing that matrix of musicians and instruments would be a huge challenge under any circumstances, especially on a tour whose stops include large iconic venues like Boston’s Fenway Park, the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, and Madison Square Garden in New York. But Wright has it fully under control, thanks to the control capabilities and routing flexibilities of the DiGiCo Quantum7 console, supplied for the tour by Clair Nashville.

“That aspect of the Quantum processing has been huge,” says Wright. “I’m very big on automating and offloading anything, and my whole show’s fully time coded, so that when showtime comes, I’m just listening to and watching my artists. I’ve got a hundred-plus snapshots going and MIDI controllers for each of our backline techs, so they can solo their own instruments or tune or talk directly to band members. The Quantum architecture gives me everything that I can use, like macros and MIDI and snapshots, to take managing things off my plate as far as actual button presses during a show. I’ve also got GPIO going for a couple of things too. Quantum been hugely helpful because it’s so flexible.”

As if all those instruments played by band members weren’t enough to keep track of, Kahan also likes to team up with other artists; he’s recorded collaborations with the likes of Post Malone, Lizzy McAlpine, Joy Oladokun, Julia Michaels, and Wesley Schulz of The Lumineers. Not surprisingly, some of those artists will turn up as guests on a live show. Thanks to Quantum, Wright is ready for them.

“Noah has constant guests and I’ve got a huge virtual playback set up and have everything heavily snapshotted for that,” he says. “Sometimes we’ll get a sound check; a lot of times we won’t, but they’ll say, ‘oh, by the way, there’ll be two vocals on this song that we’ve never had guests on before.’ So, it’s been nice to know that the guest mix is set up for this, and I’ve got this vocal spread around to all the band and crew.”

A unique management arrangement he’s come up with is how to deal with digital tuners on stage when everyone is playing multiple instruments. “We made this system where instead of having eight tuners at their feet, I just routed an aux of all their instruments to a single tuner through the console. I then used GPIO and built a little foot switch so that they can hit that and then hard pan it to the left and it’ll make it so that only they’re listening to their instrument,” he explains. “So, one tuner and one footswitch accomplishes the same goal for six instruments. We really had fun figuring that out, and you realize that there’s eight different ways I can do anything on this desk, and we can pick which is the most efficient and effective.”

Wright has also been digging deeply into Quantum capabilities, including Spice Rack and Mustard processing, and he’s found a new world in there. “I think the big one that initially got me was the Nodal Processing,” he says. “We've got a very discerning band that'll say, ‘can you slow down the release on that compressor?’ And Nodal actually lets me do it! So, everyone can get a very customised, personalised experience on stage.

“The Mustard processing is also a big help. I don't want a ton of outboard or plug-in servers and Quantum has helped to take all that off my plate, so I don’t have 50 more things to check. Everything’s onboard, everything’s integrated. I have a couple of Rupert Neve Designs 5045 Primary Source Enhancers and a couple of outboard reverbs, but other than that, everything is in the box.”

He’s especially fond of the Quantum7’s EQ, which he says is far more responsive than any he’s ever encountered, even on earlier SD-Range consoles.

The Quantum7 has a lot of possibilities, and Wright says he’s trying to leverage as many as possible. “I’m trying to get every bit out of the Quantum7 that I can, and there’s so much in there. If someone says, ‘can we do this?’ I can always say, ‘yeah, sure, we can do that.’ Every time.”

photo Pooneh Ghana

12th June 2024

Stage Precision ensures smooth sailing for Carnival Cruise’s mixed-reality primetime campaign broadcasts

Stage Precision ensures smooth sailing for Carnival Cruise’s mixed-reality primetime campaign broadcasts

USA – Named one of the ‘Most Innovative Companies 2023’, The Famous Group is a leading creative technology provider and mixed reality specialist based in Los Angeles, California. Working with high-profile brands to create unforgettable fan experiences, the team was recently involved in Carnival Cruise Line’s launch campaign for its new destination, Celebration Key.

For maximum impact, Carnival and its media agency, Initiative, planned to air adverts during two of the most important sporting events in the US broadcast calendar: the NBA All-Star Game and the NFC Championship. Leading on the creative aspect of the project, the Famous Group deployed Stage Precision’s comprehensive SP toolkit to action a mixed-reality advertisement that would truly capture the imagination of viewers.

“Carnival Cruise’s new resort is still under construction, so it wasn’t possible to show footage of the destination,” explains Erik Beaumont, vice president of advanced technology at The Famous Group. “The key challenge was around ‘how can we advertise this?’ and that’s where mixed reality comes in.”

The concept for the campaign was to transform the stadium or arena into the paradise shores of Celebration Key, live on air. To do so, The Famous Group entrusted SP’s tracking and calibration tools to unify, monitor and control the workflow.

“We used SP features for camera and tracking alignment and camera calibration,” states Beaumont. “With SP, you don’t need to worry about what tracking systems you use or whether it will be compatible with the software. This is crucial for projects like this where we’re scaling this concept across different venues and set-ups. Things can change, but SP just slots into the mix and makes sure everything works together, whether it’s in a football stadium or an indoor basketball arena.”

The first activation took place at the NFC Championship, held at San Francisco’s Levi Stadium. The Famous Group was working with a limited time frame for set-up and calibration and utilised SP’s powerful calibration tools to streamline the process. “We used a 3D model of the stadium with 3D anchor points for the camera alignment,” explains Beaumont. “Once the data and tracking points are in SP, we don’t need to worry about setting it up again.”

Tracking input was received through two cameras for both activations, but each venue required different camera positions and configurations of the graphic content in Pixotope and Unreal Engine. “We needed to flip the content for the different environments, but with SP that was not a big deal,” recalls Beaumont. “We built the content from the group up to ensure we could use it in any space and relied on SP to do the heavy lifting for editing, rather than the graphics engine.”

This was made possible through the Pixotope integration of Stage Precision’s openly available SPnet protocol. “The tighter integration with Pixotope through SPnet allows us to have all our controls within one system,” continues Beaumont. “One example of this is for the recording systems. Rather than having a separate recording system, we can trigger recording through SP with just one click.” By managing all necessary calculations and adjustments, SP allowed graphics engines to operate without needing direct access to tracking information or camera positions.

The Famous Group also found the diagnostic features of SP to be a pivotal advantage over previous workflows. “When tracking natively, there’s very little leeway to fix things on the fly,” explains Beaumont. “The reality is that adjustments and fixes are always needed and this is a golden benefit of the visibility we have in SP as we can quickly identify problems via its clear diagnostics, making us feel a lot more comfortable in a live broadcast environment.”

Further to the benefits of tracking configuration and diagnostics, The Famous Group also testified to the power of SP for experimentation in mixed reality. “SP facilitates an environment where workflows can be duplicated and separated, meaning experimental set-ups can be tested live,” expresses Beaumont. “Running experiments in parallel with the main production under the same infrastructure makes continuous innovation feasible without requiring additional resources or putting the main production at risk.” Therefore, SP proves to be a pivotal tool for the continuation of advancements within the mixed reality industry.

The Famous Group executed the two activations of the Carnival Resort Key concept seamlessly and with the possibility of scaling the campaign to more events and venues in the future. “The use of SP significantly reduced our production set up times, improved our calibration process and made for an overall more streamlined production process,” concludes Beaumont. “The Stage Precision team is always super responsive and, looking ahead, we’re enthusiastic to continue experimenting and innovating with SP at the heart of our learning tool kit.”

Stage Precision ensures smooth sailing for Carnival Cruise’s mixed-reality primetime campaign broadcastsStage Precision ensures smooth sailing for Carnival Cruise’s mixed-reality primetime campaign broadcasts

12th June 2024

Para La Libertad’s scenic wall lit by GLP’s impression X4 Bar 20

Para La Libertad’s scenic wall lit by GLP’s impression X4 Bar 20
Para La Libertad’s scenic wall lit by GLP’s impression X4 Bar 20

Spain – Despite the onrush of new products into the marketplace, it was nevertheless to a classic award-winning touring standard from GLP that Spanish lighting designer Juanjo Llorens recently reverted.

Internationally recognised in the field of performing arts (with prestigious awards of his own), Llorens turned to the impression X4 Bar 20 when designing the lighting, bearing in mind that the scenery of the new touring production of Para La Libertad (by Okapi Productions) started from a large background wall. This recreates on stage the life and work of Alicante poet Miguel Hernandez, who died in a Franco prison in the Spanish Civil War and features the songs of Spanish musical maestro Joan Manuel Serrat, who set the poems to music. The show is further brought to life by the versatility of GLP impression X4 Bar 20 battens.

The lighting designer could see immediately how they could add dynamics and variation to the production, sensing the possibility of being able to convert the Bar into several different devices, achieving pixel by pixel control and making full use of it, along with tilt and zoom. “It offers thousands of possibilities, from a curtain to simply illuminating a face or a hand with a single pixel, with the help of the zoom,” he exclaims.

“From the first moment, it became clear to me that in a variety of modes these Bars would become the lighting designer’s greatest friend!”

The presence of a wall within the scenography allowed him to play with the versatility of the Bar. Llorens created a wall washer and at the same time, used the tilt movement to create the general backlight. “When I wanted to bypass the wall the versatility of the scenic projection provided the dramatisation required. The ability to use the 20 LEDs in each Bar gave me that versatility, together with the tilt, to create different spaces where I could develop the scenes.”

In particular, Llorens highlights the fixture’s smoothness of mechanical movement through its transitions, from its zoom to its tilt function: “They responded very well to both the control of the intensity and the speed of the movement itself.”

Juanjo Llorens was already entirely familiar with GLP’s exceptional design and build quality. “I have been working with GLP lighting since the first appearance of the impression X4 Series,” he says. “The entire range is fabulous, starting with the tiny impression X4 S, which is great for spaces where you need to hide the source but at the same time have versatility. It is also easy to combine the different models in the X4 Series.”

On this production the lighting, which was supplied by rental company Spike Light & Sound, was programmed by Ruben Franco, with the impression X4 Bar 20s in single pixel high resolution (SPixH) mode.

In summary, Juanjo Llorens is clear why the X4 Bar 20 is proving such a differentiator on this tour. In conclusion, he says: “I don't think there is another fixture that would give me the same versatility to light that immense wall in its entirety. By using the different zoom apertures and playing with the tilt I could create the necessary backlight base, without any other type of device. The impression X4 Bar 20 was a wonderful ally which enabled me to tell the story in a theatrical way at all times.”

Starting with its premiere in May 2024 at the Palacio Valdés theatre in Avilés, the production has toured several Spanish cities. It will undertake a season in Madrid at the Marquina Theatre before going back on tour.

photos: Juanjo Llorens

www.glp.de

Para La Libertad’s scenic wall lit by GLP’s impression X4 Bar 20Para La Libertad’s scenic wall lit by GLP’s impression X4 Bar 20

12th June 2024

GLP

Audiovisual success with Ayrton at the first major event in Spain’s renovated Santiago Bernabéu: Telefónica 100 Live

Audiovisual success with Ayrton at the first major event in Spain’s renovated Santiago Bernabéu: Telefónica 100 Live
Audiovisual success with Ayrton at the first major event in Spain’s renovated Santiago Bernabéu: Telefónica 100 Live

Spain – Spain’s newly-renovated Santiago Bernabéu stadium lit up like never before on 18th May with the spectacular event “Telefónica 100 Live.” This unforgettable celebration of Telefónica’s centenary brought together over 60,000 attendees for a magical night of music and technology.

The night was a symphony of light and sound, where renowned artists like Alejandro Sanz, Hombres G, and Ana Mena, among others, delivered vibrant performances. Each act was accompanied by a top-tier audiovisual display that transformed the event into an unparalleled sensory experience. The mastermind behind this impressive set-up was the renowned lighting designer Caco García. Known for his creativity and attention to detail, Caco turned “Telefónica 100 Live” into an unforgettable visual and emotional spectacle.

“Creating a show perfect for Telefónica’s centenary and the magnificent Santiago Bernabéu was an exciting challenge,” commented Caco. “We worked against the clock with tight assembly times, but thanks to meticulous pre-production and pre-assembly in the warehouse, we managed to overcome all obstacles and deliver an experience that met expectations.”

At the heart of this lighting display was the Ayrton Cobra Laser IP65 luminaire. With 56 units strategically deployed, these luminaires not only illuminated the stadium but transformed it into a canvas of light and colour. The Cobra's laser beams cut through the air with astonishing precision, perfectly synchronised with the music to create patterns and shapes that enveloped the audience in an atmosphere of pure magic.

“The Ayrton Cobra fixtures were essential to achieving the visual impact we sought,” explained García. “Their power and versatility allowed us to project light with exceptional precision and intensity, creating visual effects that amplified the emotion of each performance. These luminaires not only ensured optimal visibility but also added an aesthetic dimension that elevated the show to new heights.”

The power of the Ayrton Cobra luminaires made it possible to overcome the technical and logistical challenges presented by an event of this magnitude. The LED screen surfaces were harmoniously integrated with the lighting effects, creating a synergy between light and sound that intensified the audience’s experience. Every note and musical rhythm was accompanied by perfectly synchronized lighting movements, creating a show that left an indelible mark on the attendees' memories.

“The key was close collaboration with the technical team and suppliers,” added García. “The success of this event was the result of collective effort and meticulous planning. The Ayrton Cobra luminaires’ ability to adapt to different situations and their durability make them an indispensable tool for any large-scale show.”

The success of “Telefónica 100 Live” not only lies in the quality of the musical performances but also in the innovative and powerful lighting that transformed the event into an unrivalled audiovisual experience. The Ayrton Cobra luminaires proved to be the ideal choice, offering an unmatched combination of durability, versatility, and superior performance that took the event to new heights.

photos: © nabscab

Audiovisual success with Ayrton at the first major event in Spain’s renovated Santiago Bernabéu: Telefónica 100 LiveAudiovisual success with Ayrton at the first major event in Spain’s renovated Santiago Bernabéu: Telefónica 100 Live

11th June 2024

Version 2 Supports Lighting Director David Bishop for This Year’s Britain’s Got Talent Auditions

Version 2 Supports Lighting Director David Bishop for This Year’s Britain’s Got Talent Auditions
Version 2 Supports Lighting Director David Bishop for This Year’s Britain’s Got Talent Auditions

UK – Presided over by the famous judging panel of Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon and Bruno Tonioli and hosted by the multi award-winning presenter duo, Ant and Dec, Britain’s Got Talent, brings glitz, colour, chaos and an inordinate amount of fun to the UK’s television audiences every spring.

As contestants battle it out to reach the top spot – this year won by singer Sydnie Christmas, to the tune of £250,000 and a coveted place on the Royal Variety Performance – viewers tune in at an average rate of five to six million per episode, with the first episode watched by over 12 million viewers, making BGT ITV’s biggest entertainment show this year.

2024 marks the third year television, broadcast and event lighting specialist, Version 2, has supplied the lighting, distribution, cabling, control equipment and supplementary truss for the series’ fun-filled auditions, all of which were filmed over two intense week-long sessions at the London Palladium and Manchester Lowry.

The series was lit again by award-winning lighting designer, David Bishop, who was happy that Version 2 won the tender process for the series once more, and specified fixtures that would give him the tools to add the flexibility, colour and sparkle his work is known for.

His selection included Robe Spiider, Spikie and Forte fixtures, Martin Mac Aura XB Wash and Rush Par 2 and Rush Par 3, ETC Source Four LED S2 Lustr, Chauvet Colordash Battens and Accent, and GLP X4 Bar and Fusion Sticks, all of which were sourced from Version 2.

“Version 2’s attention to detail is fantastic and any problems are fixed with no fuss,” says Bishop. “They go above and beyond what I ask for, adding any details I may have forgotten or overlooked. They ask the right questions and actually contribute to the process of getting every aspect of the system right.”

The auditions are recorded as live in front of capacity theatre audiences with just two days of rigging and focusing before launching into the daily audition schedule. This involves two daily sessions of ten to 12 acts per session, with a complete change of audience between sessions, repeated for eight days at the Palladium and again for six or seven days at The Lowry.

“We see a lot of acts!” confirms Bishop. “Around 20-25 per day. We need to be able to react nimbly as the auditions are formatted as traditional unrehearsed theatre auditions to give everyone a level playing field. So, with the exception of a few magic acts or an act with very specific lighting requirements, we never know what we are going to get! It’s full-on variety and we have to be ready to operate the lighting on the fly.

“By changing from a previously largely conventional to an automated rig, I can accommodate this a lot more quickly and we can tweak things remotely as we go along. I had two programmers across this series: Tom Young and Adam Marshall – the royalty of the programming world – who look after keylighting, effects lighting and the media server all on one desk which is quite a big ask. Luckily, they are both very quick!

“We have a carefully balanced stage wash and our house look for 85-90 percent of the acts. We try not to give many specific lighting cues as it detracts from the ‘audition’ format, and we need to keep something in reserve as there needs to be an editorial progression from the auditions to the more structured look of the final shows.

“As a general rule of television lighting, you never want to see a light source, which is both a blessing and a curse. You can hide fixtures, which is one reason why everything looks so glossy, but a theatrical back drape for example, presents a large empty black space on camera. I wanted a multi-cell fixture that could sit there twinkling in the background to give some animation and energy to the stage and fill some of that black space, which is where the Spiiders, X4 Bars and Fusion Sticks came in handy.”

Bishop also subtly lights the audience to ensure their reactions can be seen on camera which he does using Source Four Lustrs. “This means I can keep the light very carefully off the judges at the front of the auditorium and the cameras by using the shutters, but it also means I can adjust the tint of the light to a low level of warm light so it feels like they are just lit by the glow of the stage lighting, rather than actually being directly lit (which they are).”

A lot of effects lighting utilising the Spikies and more Fusion Sticks are also built into the back of the stalls, the circle and the upper circle for greater interest in the back of the shots whenever the camera looks into the auditorium. These Bishop also incorporates into dynamic lighting reactions to the Golden Buzzer or Red Buzzer moments so, to the tv audience, the whole experience looks totally immersive.

Of course, Bishop also has the responsibility of making sure the four judges all look their very best “so we give their lighting a lot of attention.” Some more than others? “Let’s just say they are all very happy with what I do!”

Bishop has enjoyed a long-standing relationship with Version 2 since the start of his career and says they are his first port of call for his television work.

“One of the main reasons I like working with V2 is the people, I have a very good, long relationship with all of them, and my account handler, Simon Perrott, is just brilliant at solving problems. He takes anything I throw at him and makes it happen!

“The V2 team take everything in their stride and I never feel that I’m on my own, which is very reassuring in live performance. And because of the volume of work I have to deal with, it’s essential that I can just fire things at them and know it will be taken care of. They also offer great support to my gaffer, Mark Newell, who takes my lighting design and actually makes it work! I feel they have my back covered at every stage.”

Simon Perrott, Version 2 senior project manager, adds: “It's been fantastic to be back working with Julie Burfoot and the team at Thames; it's one of the enjoyable productions we look out for in our calendar. As a household name, it's an honour to be supporting Dave and his Team on this flagship TV production."   

photos: Courtesy of Thames/Freemantle

11th June 2024

Martin Dudley Evokes Spirit of Yes Classic Tales Tour with Chauvet Professional

Martin Dudley Evokes Spirit of Yes Classic Tales Tour with Chauvet Professional
Martin Dudley Evokes Spirit of Yes Classic Tales Tour with Chauvet Professional

UK – The creative process never rests. Like a ship sailing toward the horizon, it never ‘gets there’, but constantly evolves in pursuit of the next new thing. This quest has animated the music of multi-platinum prog rock legends Yes for decades, as they’ve boldly pushed musical boundaries in multiple directions, something they continue to do today.

Those who packed Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall on 20 May for the final show on the UK-EU leg of Rock & Roll Hall of Famer’s “Classic Tales of Yes” tour savoured this irrepressible energy as the two-set show kicked off with the dramatic sounds of “Machine Messiah” and wove its way through a collection of classics, including a seven-minute rendition of the uplifting “I’ve Seen All Good People.” After a short interval, the show thundered back to life with the haunting “South Side of the Sky.”

The audience’s connection to this powerful musical journey was deepened by a brilliantly coloured and intricately textured Martin Dudley/Chris Davey light show that featured 12 Chauvet Professional Rogue R2X Wash units from Martin’s Lights Ltd. Like the music it reflected in light, Dudley and Davey’s design was the product of an evolving creative vision.

Early on in the 24-city tour, which began in April at Lisbon’s historic Sagres Campo Pequero concert hall, the design moved into a new more intense realm.

“At the start of the project, we were told was that it would be a ‘no haze’ tour,” said Dudley. “Therefore, we knew that the lighting had to be about colour, pattern and texture, rather than beams of light and movement in the air. Many of our lighting designs are quite understated and after the first couple of shows, the feedback from the band was that they wanted ‘more’ of everything, so we went for it!”

Went for it, indeed: with its bold colour changes and swirling gobo patterns, the show engaged the crowd with looks that moved seamlessly through a sea of different moods and emotions. The vision powering this flowing design continued to evolve throughout the tour. This resulted in one of Dudley’s favourite looks, which added an edgier element to “South Side of the Sky.” After the initial programming was done, lighting director Chris Davey added a multi-coloured gobo to the cloth backdrop for this song.

“It looked like the Northern Lights we’d recently experienced in the UK,” said Dudley. “Chris and I did a day’s programming in a WYSIWYG suite and another day at production rehearsals, but Chris overhauled much of the programming once the tour actually got under way, removing things that didn’t work and adding more great looks, no mean feat whilst dealing with different in-house lighting rigs every day. I’m grateful too to lighting technician Simone Bigum, who got the rig up and running every day and tour manager Dick Meredith, a contact from the very earliest days of Martin’s Lights, who brought us on board.”

Another element was added to the show for almost all of its UK dates, including the Glasgow appearance, when Coloursound Experiment supplied a house lighting system that consisted of two flown trusses of Chauvet Rogue R2 washes and moving spots. (In-house lighting fixtures at different venues were used for followspots and front light.)

Throughout the tour, the Rogue R2X Washes in the floor package remained the workhorse of the rig. Dudley positioned eight of the washes upstage on the floor, using them to put colour onto the white back cloth and occasionally to backlight the band. The other four wash units were hung on four 2.5m tall truss towers and used to light the band from the sides.

“The washes did a lot of the heavy lifting in the show, putting rich, saturated colours onto the cloth for almost every song,” said Dudley. “Colour and gobo patterns were key to the looks we created. Yes is a band with a long history stretching back to the early 1970s and the classic projected light shows of the time.”

Although Dudley and his team weren’t directly attempting to copy those shows, he says that the use of gobos with and without prisms, augmented by a lot of rotating, zoom and focus effects were what he terms: “A reference to the history” of this band, a history that has marked by an ever expanding and evolving vision, just like the lighting that supported the legendary group on this tour. 

photos: John Scott Upstage Photography
Martin Dudley Evokes Spirit of Yes Classic Tales Tour with Chauvet ProfessionalMartin Dudley Evokes Spirit of Yes Classic Tales Tour with Chauvet Professional

10th June 2024

Bravo Duo! Andrea Bocelli Takes Two DiGiCo Quantum852 Consoles on Tour

Bravo Duo! Andrea Bocelli Takes Two DiGiCo Quantum852 Consoles on Tour
Bravo Duo! Andrea Bocelli Takes Two DiGiCo Quantum852 Consoles on Tour

USA – Most artists of significant stature will name their tours, perhaps inspirationally, perhaps whimsically. Andrea Bocelli, the 11-time Grammy Award-nominated singer whose oeuvre comfortably straddles classic opera, romantic pop and Latino genres, needed only a couple of letters and numbers to moniker his most recent sojourn: AB30: his initials and the number of years he’s recorded and travelled the world touring. And even that abbreviated signature is simply shorthand for millions of fans who just say “Andrea!”

On the current tour, which crossed North America in February and April, including Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Toronto, Montreal and Detroit, with a brief stop in Brazil in May before heading to Europe from July through November, will ultimately return to the US in December. Throughout, Bocelli has been accompanied by 60-plus-piece orchestras, often some of the flagships of their respective regions, such as the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Indiana Symphony Orchestra, all conducted by Maestro Steven Mercurio. Equally impressive are the two new DiGiCo Quantum852 mixing consoles travelling with the tour, which also includes a full band and 60-voice choir.

The two consoles, representing the latest iteration of DiGiCo’s acclaimed Quantum series, were supplied to Andrea Bocelli’s audio team as part of a complete production package by OSA International, Inc. “Upon seeing the Quantum852 we knew it was the best choice for both the artist and OSA. Nothing else touches it and we’re proud to have some of the first in the US,” says OSA executive VP Carmen Educate. “Adding the Quantum852 desks to our locations in Las Vegas, Nashville and Chicago is a ‘win’ for our clients and these world-class desks perfectly complement the top-tier equipment and services that we proudly offer.”

For the AB30 tour, both desks are used for front of house mixing: one for mixing the orchestra, which ran to 68 musicians for the São Paolo dates in May, helmed by Stefano Serpagli and the other for the overall mix, managed by Davide Lombardi. He takes Serpagli’s mix and blends it with the band used for the more pop and Latin numbers, choir, some occasional playback tracks from Pro Tools and, ultimately, Bocelli’s magnificent vocals. In addition to all of that, the two consoles also provide all of the on stage monitoring required.

“I come from a pop background, but I’ve also done some classical music before, and I love it,” says Stefano Serpagli, who has previously mixed live sound for Natalie Imbruglia and Dido. “The complexity with orchestras is that there’s a large number of live mics and musicians and it’s all about the subtleties and finding the right balance. There are also differences between orchestras: you can go from the London Philharmonic, obviously so well drilled and then we have a young and enthusiastic orchestra like São Paulo’s. The difference can be huge from what you get out right out of the box. And even a great orchestra will just give you a good starting point; the challenge is the difference in environments we encounter. Bocelli is an arena and stadium-sized artist, and so you’re dealing with the subtleties and the complexities of mixing an orchestra in environments like these.”

Serpagli says the Quantum852 has taken what had already been his choice for mixing orchestras to the next level. “I’ve been a DiGiCo user since the D5 and then into the SD-Range and I love how it has progressed with regards to on board dynamics, and then came the Quantums,” he says. “We’ve used the Quantum338 and the Quantum7, which was previously my favourite work surface with its central bank of faders easily at hand. But the Quantum852 is its own category! It has a huge, intuitive surface that is absolutely incredible to work on. There are no compromises on this console. I can have whatever I want and as much of it as I want. And although I was already impressed with the clarity of the Quantum7’s screens, the Quantum852 makes visibility and control even better.”

He’s also a huge fan of the Quantum processing. “I use the Chilli 6 [six-band, dynamic multi-band compressor] across each section of the orchestra to help me smooth it out,” he says. “For instance, the younger orchestras may have more attack, dynamically speaking and it lets me deliver a smoother result for Davide to mix in with the other vocals and the rest of the show.”

Davide Lombardi has worked with Bocelli since 2009 and has the role of audio supervisor, as well as sound designer and co-FOH engineer for this tour. He has also enjoyed employing the progressively more powerful Quantum processing during his time with Bocelli. “The Quantum852 is a natural progression to the future, with bigger screens and extra power,” he says. “That really helps because we also do stage monitoring from out front and the availability of the Spice Rack and Nodal Processing offer us excellent tools for that. We can have as many as we need and we can automate them, so we can cover both monitors and front of house at the same time. There is not a large amount of monitoring on stage, but what there is needs to be very precise, and Quantum852 makes it very easy for us to be able to do different cues for different sets.”

Lombardi is managing 158 channels of audio for each show, including the mix sent over from Serpagli’s Quantum852 console and Bocelli’s vocals from the Schoeps Mk21 microphone capsule on his DPA headset, which passes through the 32-bit Stadius mic preamps on the DiGiCo SD-Rack on stage. “The Quantum852 lets me lay out the console exactly the way I need to manage the show,” he says. “That’s something else that DiGiCo has gotten right, every new console model is more ergonomic than the one before. I can only imagine what they’ll think of next.”

10th June 2024

Coachella’s Yuma Stage Augments Experience with PK Sound

Coachella’s Yuma Stage Augments Experience with PK Sound
Coachella’s Yuma Stage Augments Experience with PK Sound

USA – Hundreds of thousands of music fans recently descended on Indio, California for the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival. Now spanning two full weekends, the sprawling annual spectacle presents hundreds of acts, from the biggest international headliners to exciting up-and-comers, across eight carefully curated stages, each offering its own unique experience.

For its 2024 edition, one of the most sought-after destinations on the expansive festival site was the now-legendary Yuma Stage, Coachella’s “beating heart of house and techno.”

Beneath a massive tent boasting hardwood floors, opulent furnishings and, perhaps most critically, air conditioning, the Yuma Stage’s stated goal is to offer a posh, pulsating nightclub vibe in the middle of the desert; of course, that also entails an audio experience more befitting a top, multi-million-dollar nightspot in Ibiza or Singapore than a temporary music festival on the grounds of a polo club in Southern California.

That’s what ultimately led stage organisers AEG Presents, Goldenvoice and Framework to opt for a PK Sound robotic line source deployment from LA-based PK Alliance Member BNE Productions.

In addition to offering pristine acoustic impact for headliners like Gorgon City, The Blessed Madonna and ARTBAT, PK Sound’s patented multi-axis robotic technology allowed designers to precisely focus the system’s vertical and horizontal acoustic coverage on the audience area and minimise tent wall reflections to deliver the cleanest, clearest sound possible.

“I had the chance to deploy PK Sound’s robotic line array systems on some recent events in downtown LA and was really impressed with the results,” comments George Stavropoulos of Sonic Lab Audio, head audio consultant for the Yuma Stage. “Being able to robotically control the system’s acoustic coverage remotely and in real-time is a huge benefit in minimising noise pollution for those shows in crowded urban areas. The same principles apply when directing sound away from Yuma’s reflective tent walls to optimise clarity and punch for the packed crowd.”

Designed by Stavropoulos’ partner and PK Sound Project Support specialist Paul Bauman of PdB Sonic Design, BNE Productions’ deployment included main arrays of ten PK Sound T10 robotic line source elements per side. Using PK .dynamics software, which unites every stage of the modern live sound workflow in a single application, Bauman took advantage of PK’s variable horizontal directivity on each module to sculpt acoustic coverage to the exact parameters of the Yuma tent with precisely tapered arrays while ensuring a smooth transition to the delay positions.

“Kobi Danan from Framework (the promoter behind the Yuma Stage) is always interested in new technologies and open to trying things that elevate the guest experience, whether it’s in a nightclub, at a downtown street party, or in a tent packed with thousands of people at Coachella,” comments Bauman.

“There were a lot of compliments on the sound this year, and that’s rare, especially from production professionals,” Danan adds. “People definitely noticed the difference.”

A total of 24 PK Sound T218 intelligent subwoofers capably handled low-frequency reproduction, arranged in four cardioid columns of three on each side of the stage thrust. In a unique approach, Bauman applied reverse electronic delay steering to focus energy and improve low frequency throw up the middle of the long, relatively narrow tent structure.

The L-R delay towers each had five Trinity Black robotic line array elements and three T218 subs in cardioid mode per side. Six PK Sound VX10s handled front fill while four K12p point source modules covered the rear VIP area. The on stage monitoring system included three T10s atop a single T218 per side. Rounding out the audio system was a DiGiCo SD9 adjacent to the stage for FOH and monitors.

“Our team at BNE has taken on increasingly high-profile events over the past few years as a PK Alliance member, but Coachella is definitely a new milestone,” comments Saad Al-Jadir of BNE Productions. “We really enjoyed our collaborations with Framework, Sonic Lab Audio and our partners at PK Sound on this year’s Yuma Stage. The real highlight was seeing people totally immerse themselves in the experience, and we’re proud to be able to contribute to that.”

BNE Productions is a full-service live event production, logistics and management company providing premier audiovisual solutions that transform a concert or event into an experience people will remember as the “Best Night Ever.”

ACT Entertainment is the exclusive North American distributor of PK Sound.

photos: @jveronephoto

Coachella’s Yuma Stage Augments Experience with PK SoundCoachella’s Yuma Stage Augments Experience with PK Sound

7th June 2024

Proson Staging Invests in JTS Professional Microphones from StageOne

Proson Staging Invests in JTS Professional Microphones from StageOne
Proson Staging Invests in JTS Professional Microphones from StageOne

South Africa Proson Staging, a leading audio-visual technical supplier based in Johannesburg, has recently invested in JTS Professional Microphones from StageOne. StageOne, who took over the sole distribution of the JTS brand earlier this year, has received phenomenal feedback from clients.

Edward Muller from Proson Staging shared his positive experience with the JTS brand following his recent purchase, which included several JTS Professional RU-8011DB/RU-850LTB+CM-501 lapel microphone systems.

"The audio quality is extremely good at a brilliant price-point," said Muller. "I am generally a very difficult person to please, but I can’t fault the JTS brand."

Muller highlighted several features of the JTS microphones that impressed him:

  • Battery Life: "The battery life is incredible. I used the mics for a week and a half on a school production and never had to change batteries once over the period."
  • Body Pack: "I love the fact that the body pack can turn off with a time setting."
  • Mute Button: "Another feature I love is that the mute button flattens."
  • Compatibility: "The transmitters are interchangeable with other mic brands, which is a win."

Proson Staging frequently works on school productions, recently providing audio-visual solutions for major productions at Orban School and Redford House. Muller described the JTS microphones as "fool-proof," noting that dealing with school productions requires simple, easy-to-use solutions. "The production at Redford School was located in close proximity to the MTN head office and even then we had no mic dropouts or signal interference," he added.

Clinton Pillay, sales executive at StageOne, commented on the positive reception of the JTS Professional brand: "The mics are solid. Since taking over the JTS Professional brand earlier in the year, the feedback we have received from clients has been amazing."

Proson Staging's investment in JTS Professional Microphones highlights the reliability and quality of the brand, making it a top choice for audio-visual professionals and educators alike. 

Proson Staging Invests in JTS Professional Microphones from StageOneProson Staging Invests in JTS Professional Microphones from StageOne

7th June 2024

Skan Designs Powerful Arena System for James Blunt’s ‘Who We Used To Be’ Tour

Skan Designs Powerful Arena System for James Blunt’s ‘Who We Used To Be’ Tour
Skan Designs Powerful Arena System for James Blunt’s ‘Who We Used To Be’ Tour

UK – Singer/songwriter James Blunt’s production team relies on Skan PA Hire for additional sound reinforcement due to audience demand.

Tour and production manager Robert Hayden has worked with James Blunt since the ‘Monsters’ singer first ventured into full time musicianship. He begins: “James and I started off doing little club shows around England before we went to mainland Europe where we played to even less people! When we returned, everything just took off for him, first with the single and then the album.”

Following 2005’s ‘You’re Beautiful’ from debut full length record ‘Back to Bedlam’ there’s only ever been one audio supplier to help James’s sound reach audiences on tour. Robert continues: “I’ve used Skan since the beginning of needing production,” he explains. “They always send us people who like to come back and work on this tour, so we always have a good fit of crew. I’d say we’re very loyal to Skan; James has a great deal of input into the show, he's very hands on like that.”

Promoting a brand-new show for current album ‘Who we used to Be’, Robert says of the production, “James is a very entertaining performer and the live band sounds great; people who have never seen him before are usually shocked at how good his shows are!”

Skan designed and supplied a d&b audiotechnik PA system comprising KSL main and side hangs, SL SUBS and Y10P for fills, using D40 amps to power everything in the air while D80s took care of the SL SUBs on the floor. Furthermore, due to exceptional demand in Manchester, the show also required additional V Series reinforcement for the AO Arena’s show.

On the road, system engineer and crew chief Adam Dickson looks after the PA.

He says: “The minute we found out that we were opening to full capacity, I informed Skan director, Chris Fitch. We were coming up with solutions to make it work for our FOH engineer Mike Hornby and concluded that we needed to bring in additional resources for the show to ensure everyone had the best experience in the audience.

“James really knows how to pull in and engage a crowd, especially in Manchester, it seems! He is a fantastic performer.”

With a new show comes a new dynamic, but to hear James’s back catalogue and new songs, d&b is the obvious choice.

Adam elaborates: “I love working with d&b products and I think the reasons behind why most engineers like using and mixing on d&b is that you can get it to sound the same everywhere, consistently, especially with the help of Array Processing. I don’t think other PAs can achieve quite the same results. Straight out of the box, the voicing of these speakers sound great to me.”

At FOH Mike Hornby has a Midas PRO2 control surface with Klark Teknik DN9680 fibre / AES50 multiplexer, a Yamaha SPX 990 Pro multi effects processor and a Midas DL351 modular stage box.

He says: “It's a bit old fashioned at FOH really, partly because I met James at the start or his touring career, but partly he's not a fussy person, he doesn't feel the need for all the paraphernalia that we could have nowadays.

“He was going to get in-ear monitors very early on but once we chatted through it, he decided it wasn’t for him. And I think that's been the right decision for him as he's never had anything more than just a little bit of vocal and a bit of guitar.

“The mix is nothing like his records. The band doesn’t play the songs like the recorded versions, so I couldn't really make it sound similar. They're produced in a different way to the live thing they do. What really matters to James is that we make a good show.

“We use Skan for that reason. They are high quality and in all this time, nothing’s ever gone wrong. With them, this has been a consistently good sounding gig!”

“I was a relative latecomer to this crew; I joined in 2006,” says monitor engineer Gerry Wilkes, who took over the monitor set-up that James and the band were already using.

For his intuitive surface, Gerry mixes on a stripped back rider of a Yamaha CL5 with Rio I/O Racks, using no plug-ins. “When I started in the analogue days, the desk choice was a Midas H3000 or XL4. When we went digital, I had a Yamaha PM5D and upgraded to the CL5.”

Gerry, who uses d&b audiotechnik M4 wedges for his personal monitors, concludes: “It’s all straightforward, we have six pairs of wedges plus a drum sub, thumper, and an IEM mix for each of the backline techs, who are using the Sennheiser 2000 Series.

“I began my career working as freelancer with Skan in 1984, so as they were the sound company in place for James when I started, it suited me! I get very well looked after by Skan; they’re really accommodating and provide an exceptional service.”

photos: Tom Martin

Skan Designs Powerful Arena System for James Blunt’s ‘Who We Used To Be’ TourSkan Designs Powerful Arena System for James Blunt’s ‘Who We Used To Be’ Tour

7th June 2024

In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats

In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats
In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats

UK – In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats, the internationally acclaimed, award-winning interactive VR adventure that transports you into the heart of the Acid House movement is heading on a national tour opening at Waterhall at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery from 19 July 2024. The VR experience, produced by East City Films and created by Darren Emerson, will visit eight cities across the UK from Belfast and Cardiff to London. The tour is jointly supported by Arts Council England and BFI National Lottery Audience Projects Fund.

The experience will take audiences back in time to the beginning of the Acid House movement and the creation of UK rave culture telling a multicultural story of collaboration and unity that celebrates music, friendship and the joy of youth.

The experience of tracking down and arriving at an all-night illegal warehouse party at the height of the rave scene in Coventry in 1989, puts audiences into the shoes of rave culture pioneers. Viewers are taken on a multi-sensory joyride into the past, bringing to life the stories of the promoters, police officers, pirate radio stations and secret warehouse rave-goers, whose rivalries and relationships drove a revolution in music and society. The film features euphoric rave anthems such as Chime by Orbital and Energy Flash by Joey Beltram.

‘Beats uses Virtual Reality (VR) technology to fully immerse audiences in a one- hour multi-sensory interactive experience that is awash with meticulous period detail. It surrounds participants with the sounds, senses, and the thrill of being young (again).

'Beats was produced with the support of the BFI, awarding National Lottery funding, and Coventry City of Culture Trust. Following its world premiere and sell- out run as part of the 2022 Coventry UK City of Culture, ‘Beats travelled on the international festival circuit and was seen by audiences across the globe at festivals such as BFI London Film Festival, South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Melbourne International Film Festival, IDFA Amsterdam and Geneva International Film Festival.

‘Beats has won four high-profile VR awards including the Location-Based VR Entertainment of the Year at the VR Awards 2023, the DocLab Award for Immersive Non-Fiction at IDFA 2022, the Anidox: VR Award at the Viborg Animation Festival 2023, followed by winning the Best Film & Digital: Interactive Award at Adelaide Fringe in 2024.

Returning to the UK for its homecoming tour, ‘Beats launches at Waterhall at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery from 19 July until 1 September 2024. The next stop on the national tour will be Brighton Dome in November, Belfast XR Festival in February 2025 and Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff in April 2025. Additional cities on the tour will be announced in the coming months.

In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats was created with extensive involvement of some of the leading figures of the Midlands rave scene at the time, including Coventry’s legendary promoters Amnesia House.

Following the VR experience there will be a dedicated display containing archive, flyers, posters, photography and objects exploring the local rave scene connected to the venue’s city.

The creative team behind ‘Beats spent time making the experience fully accessible to wheelchair users with a seated version and d/Deaf audiences with subtitles, haptics (vibration), access packs, VR explainer and scene descriptions and touch tour.

To further enhance the experience, East City Films has partnered with Woojer. Woojer’s innovative haptic vests will add to the multi-sensory journey, immersing users in a vibrant auditory landscape and enhancing accessibility for the deaf and hard of hearing community. This collaboration aims to deliver an inclusive experience that resonates deeply with all audiences.

Tickets went on sale on 6 June for In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats at Waterhall at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.

Director Darren Emerson, East City Films said: “With In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats I wanted to take audiences back to a moment where a community formed from their passion for music, dance and freedom of expression. In a modern society where we are constantly monitored and tracked by devices, this experience, although using technology, seeks to reunite audiences with the thrill of freedom and those important, crazy nights where we not only find our friends, but truly find ourselves.

The response to ‘Beats has been overwhelming; seeing people emerge from VR moved and excited and wanting to connect with each other has been so rewarding. After success touring Internationally, I’m delighted we are now bringing ‘Beats back to the UK, to connect with the audiences that were shaped in some way by the cultural revolution that was Acid House. For us to start the tour in the West Midlands is a particularly special homecoming.”

Sarah-Jane Meredith, manager, UK Wide Audiences at the BFI said: "We are proud to support this highly creative multi-sensory VR experience and particularly the team's commitment to ensuring events are as accessible as possible. ‘Beats has the potential to reach a wide range of audiences right across the UK, including many who may not have engaged with VR. As well as thrilling new audiences, the project sets out to create a legacy at participating venues, as their staff will be better skilled and equipped to showcase other VR work in the future. All of which chimes with the ambition set out in our current strategy, Screen Culture 2033, to support the evolution of broader screen work in the UK."

Sara Wajid, Co-CEO, Birmingham Museums Trust said: "In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats is simply one of the most fun experiences I've ever had. I knew after trying the experience and the amount of joy I felt that we had to be a part of bringing this experience to the people of Birmingham and the West Midlands.”

Sara continued: “Bringing joy, music and history together in the Waterhall marks the next exciting step in re-opening Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, the first spaces of which will open later this year.”

Tanya Peters, head of programming, Brighton Dome said: “Every good story dances to its own tune and this one is a belter. Brighton Dome is all set to present In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats by the brilliant East City Films, the toast of SXSW; a great opportunity for Brighton audiences to experience world class innovation using narrative-based immersive VR. The thematics link through to the acid-house backstories of our recently redeveloped venues. Connecting emotionally, in a shared experience, in VR. Literally. Can’t. Wait.”

Deepa Mann-Kler, director, Belfast XR Festival said: “The Belfast XR Festival is delighted to announce In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats as its programme for 2025. Northern Ireland has an incredible track record when it comes to music which is internationally recognised. It made sense to bring this work to Belfast as it also features music by a leading Northern Irish artist. Belfast also holds the prestigious UNESCO City of Music title. This marks a debut and premiere for the work on the island of Ireland. We are looking forward to this exciting collaboration with East City Films.”

David Massey, senior producer, Wales Millennium Centre said: “We’re very excited and delighted to play a part in the UK tour of In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats. The response to Beats' first visit in 2022 was an inspiration for many, so we’re thrilled to see it return and continue to resonate with audiences from all backgrounds, bringing people together for a communal experience like no other.”

In Pursuit of Repetitive BeatsIn Pursuit of Repetitive Beats

7th June 2024

Pop on Top with Showtec, Infinity and DMT

Pop on Top with Showtec, Infinity and DMT
Pop on Top with Showtec, Infinity and DMT

The Netherlands – In May, the Pop on Top festival returned to the scenic hills of Valkenburg aan de Geul, captivating thousands of visitors with a blend of music and light. Central to the festival’s success was Sonic Support VOF, whose lighting and LED screen solutions from Showtec, Infinity and DMT transformed the event into an unforgettable visual spectacle.

The Pop on Top festival once again lit up the Dutch picturesque hills of Valkenburg aan de Geul on 18 and 19 May, marking its 12th edition with a spectacular display of music and light, while offering a unique experience in a stunning natural setting. The family-friendly event attracted thousands of visitors who defied the rain to enjoy performances from national and international artists including Lucas & Steve, Rowwen Hèze, Clouseau, Krezip and many more across four dynamic stages. Sonic Support VOF played a key role in transforming the festival into an unforgettable visual experience by providing the necessary lighting and LED screen solutions from Showtec, Infinity and DMT.

Sonic Support VOF used 60 DMT Premiere Series PS3.9 Blue Line LED panels to create two large LED screens on either side of the main stage, ensuring that every audience member had a perfect view. These panels were complemented by an additional 30 DMT Premiere Series PS4.6N LED screens, creating a visual feast for the attendees. All the LED screens were tightly controlled by two Novastar VX600 video processors and one Novastar VX4S video processor, ensuring smooth, high-quality video playback throughout the event.

The festival’s stage lighting was nothing short of extraordinary, with a range of sophisticated fixtures designed to create a captivating atmosphere. Sixteen Infinity iB-715 RGBW Beam moving heads provided ultra-fast movements and vibrant colour output, creating dynamic visual effects that enhanced every performance. Complementing these were eight Infinity TF-300 Fresnel fixtures with motorised zoom and consistent colour output, providing optimum stage lighting and highlighting the performers with perfect clarity.

In addition, 16 Showtec Phantom 3R Hybrid moving heads with motorised zoom and dual prisms created razor-sharp beams and intricate gobo effects, adding depth and complexity to the lighting design. The set-up also included 64 Showtec Spectral M800 Q4 IP65 RGBW LED spots, which are ideal for outdoor use due to their reliable and rich colour mixing, ensuring robust performance in all weather conditions. Sixteen Showtec Helix S5000 Q4 RGBW outdoor LED washers provided expansive and vibrant colour washes across the stage, while 84 Showtec Compact Par 7/15 Q4 RGBW LED pars added versatility and richness, perfect for creating different moods and effects.

Sonic Support VOF’s careful selection of lighting and LED screen products ensured that every detail of the Pop on Top festival was visually satisfying. The combination of Showtec, Infinity and DMT products and professional expertise transformed the event into a sensory delight, captivating the audience and enhancing the overall festival experience.

7th June 2024

Robe T1s go “Upstream” for National Ballet of Portugal Production

Robe T1s go “Upstream” for National Ballet of Portugal Production
Robe T1s go “Upstream” for National Ballet of Portugal Production

Portugal – Groundbreaking choreographer and contemporary dance innovator Andrew McNicol presented the world premiere of “Upstream” his first collaboration with the Companhia Nacional de Bailado (CNB) – the National Ballet of Portugal – for which he asked acclaimed lighting designer Yaron Abulafia to create scenography and lighting for the performance which was staged at the São Carlos Opera House in Lisbon.

“Upstream” was presented as part of a trilogy of works, together with “Baracco Concerto” by the late George Balanchine and “Workwithinwork” (which originally premiered in 1998) by William Forsythe: three distinctive works from very different eras and generations of choreographers based on classical dance.

Yaron was excited to use the CNB’s 20 Robe T1 Profile moving lights (the only moving lights on the rig) as the backbone of his lighting design in addition to the large-scale lighting set up in the venue.

Yaron became involved in the piece at the very early conceptual stages of its development which enabled him to weave all the interactive elements together when imagining the production design.

He worked closely with costume designer Helena de Medeiros and composer Peter Gregson who created contemporary minimalist music to frame the piece, which was performed live by soloists from the Chamber Orchestra of Portugal.

When it came to lighting, Yaron wanted to recreate an underwater environment where everything is fluid and the quality of movement is softer, more nuanced and rounded, engaging reflections and echoes in light and materials or impressions of sunlight filtering through the water and waves, peppering them with light, matching the energy and tempo of the music in abstract and mystical ways.

Upstream’s five movements each featured a different subaquatic setting that was defined with the minimal use of props and primarily by light and movement, transforming these and the overall spatiality and look of the stage.

A heat resistant, semi-transparent plastic foil material backdrop, divided into eight 1.5-metre-wide drops, was the main prop covering the entire upstage area. Powerful varispeed fans were positioned either side and run at different speeds to create undulating asymmetric movements onto which Yaron projected ripple effects and watery textures both sides.

When lit from behind, it was near translucent and when not directly lit, it caught reflections like a mirror; “combined with light it was a fantastic surface to recreate the ephemeral and transient nature of water patterns,” he explained.

Upstage of the backdrop was a black rear lighting / projection screen which when unlit looked like an infinity space and when lit created a contrast with the foil.

During his research for this project, among other things, Yaron was inspired by the vision of deep-sea shipwrecks.

All the key moments of “Upstream” were highlighted and accentuated with lighting effects and atmospheres created using the T1s.

Supported by a large generic rig in the house, Yaron relied on the subtleties and power of Robe’s dynamic light source to deliver a unique setting for each movement.

The first movement opened dramatically, with the reveal of six static dancer couples illuminated like sculptures in a near static scene with a tiny bit of motion from the foil which elicited a ‘wow’ from the audience before they had even moved onstage.

As an emotional vehicle it really worked presenting a first image with no sound or movement just lighting to reveal the mystery and magic of the piece.

The colours ranged through blues and turquoise, establishing a horizon and water.

The second section was one of the boldest for lighting and dance, a movement danced only by men with very expressive and intoxicating music. It started with light beams shooting in from the upstage right corner, then T1 gobos penetrated all over the space immersing the audience a bit like sunlight from above punching through water.

The solo developed into more interaction with the foil backdrop augmented with light from the T1s with softened optics buzzing up and down the foil strips, building gradually, with more T1s joining the action making reflections on the floor, enhancing and intensifying the effect.

“I so enjoyed how beautifully you can combine the T1’s colour mixing with the conventional halogen and HMI sources,” elucidated Yaron. “I embraced the two far edges of the spectrum in this section, and the T1 dealt with both in a very organic and elegant way!”

The third movement featured only female dancers and this was lit more traditionally with parcans adding architectural- like beams and casting silhouettes on their bodies which reflected their backs onto the foil. Functioning as a mirror, this highlighted the tensions between the silhouettes and their reflection.

The colours for this part roamed into the pastel areas with a range of delicate lavender hues.

The fourth section was the ‘awakening’. The full cast on stage in couples with more resistance and pressure between the partners and growing anxiety in the choreography and music. The skin tones of the dancers shifted to be starker, more textured and burnt, making the dancers pop out and engage more confrontationally with the audience.  

The final part and conclusion began with the notion of a spiritual scene between the lead couple, where all the colours vanished and the stage turned monochrome, emphasising departure and transformation or travelling to an after or other life in a different world with a combination of many pure black shadows, white light and strong wind on the foil.

Yaron used the lighting to evoke themes of solitude and powerlessness, shifting from black and white into high impact reflective shimmering effects emanating from the centre of the foil, inviting the men to walk towards the unknown while women remained on the floor downstage for an epic visual ending.

The T1s were used as white high crosslights and keylight in these final scenes with all the foil reflections created by multiple overlaid T1s coming from overhead, on the floor (at the front of stage next to orchestra pit) and from the side booms, together with one HMI source.

All the lighting was run through the CNB’s own control console. Yaron worked closely with their technical director Cristina Piedade and head of lighting / programmer, Pedro Mendes, plus the crew at São Carlos Opera House.

The T1 features Taron found most useful for this production include the “outstanding colour rendering and the general softness of the light output which made mixing and combining with a range of Lee filters in the conventionals; very straightforward.”

He also notes that the T1 optics, frosts and zoom proved ideal for achieving the exact blurred edge effect that he wanted for some scenes.

“The T1’s brightness is great for a mid-to-large sized venue like this, where they can be very intense when needed,” he said. While the gobos were used sparingly, there was enough choice and capacity to blend them into subtler looks using the animation wheel plus shutters for defocusing and getting the reflections travelling precisely throughout the space.

Multiple dimmer and movement effects also helped bounce anomalies and deviations of shuttered light seamlessly and smoothly between the foil and the stage.

Yaron is no stranger to energising dance pieces with his very individual sculpting of spaces with light that taps into the psychology and power of imagination and emotion, reinforcing the deep and poetic connection between movement, music and contemporary style that is expressed in McNicol’s storytelling by shifting atmospheres, moods, and suggestion.

photos: Yaron Abulafia

Robe T1s go “Upstream” for National Ballet of Portugal ProductionRobe T1s go “Upstream” for National Ballet of Portugal Production

7th June 2024

WPS/WPC combo ensures successful debut for Vortex dance fest

WPS/WPC combo ensures successful debut for Vortex dance fest
WPS/WPC combo ensures successful debut for Vortex dance fest

Germany – Vortex, the new electronic music festival, made its debut at Göppingen’s EWS Arena, pumping techno, trance and hardcore through the bodies of devotes, continuously over 12 hours through Martin Audio’s flagship Wavefront Precision line array series. To quote the words of the organisers: “Vortex is not just a festival, it’s a transcendent experience, a sonic adventure that you won’t want to miss.“ Such was the challenge that the Martin Audio PA and its advance control software were set.

It was a far cry from EWS Arena’s normal sphere of activity, which is hosting the Bundesliga handball club FRISCH AUF! But since the venue is located in the centre of the town, surrounded by shops and flats, the requirements with regard to noise escape were predictably stringent. As a debut event, it was particularly important for the organisers not to provoke complaints from local residents in order to preserve the future of the event. With its legendary tight off site control, the Martin Audio Wavefront Precision systems deployed absolutely met these high requirements.

Jürgen Schuster, from event technology specialist Skyeline Live, who provided the technical equipment for the Vortex Festival, confirms: "There were no noise complaints and zero problems with the volume for the audience."

Martin Audio’s advanced DISPLAY software had been essential in controlling the WPS and WPC line arrays deployed. “It was a real blessing,” he explains. "I was able to calculate the entire system cleanly and deploy it accordingly. This made it possible to predict in advance exactly how the system would behave in terms of sound levels." He added that during the event, a colleague checked the volume on the street, enabling him to confirm: "Ambient noise from the street was louder than the sound coming from the festival, while inside the venue the sound was characterised by the evenness of distribution across the entire event area.”

To achieve this Jürgen Schuster deployed 24 Martin Audio WPC as the main system (12 boxes a side), with eight WPS as front and sidefill. The all-important sub frequencies were pumped out through six towers of three SX218, designed in cardioid (two front facing and a single rear facing) with a further four SX218 provided for DJ monitoring. The rig was powered by 12 of Martin Audio’s iK42 multi-channel, process-controlled power amplifiers in three-box resolution.

Schuster attributed the success of the event to two key Martin Audio technologies: the scaleable resolution of the Wavefront Precision loudspeakers and the acoustic optimisation using the DISPLAY simulation software. "The combination of these two aspects made it possible to calculate the sound solution for the event so precisely that sound emissions were minimised [offsite] while still providing uncompromising sound for the 4,000 dance fans."

But the real success of the event, he emphasises, was the reaction of the artists themselves. "They didn't want to leave at all," he affirms. "It's normal for an act to come, deliver their set and then go, but at the Vortex Festival, the acts enjoyed it so much that they stayed for hours after their performance and simply enjoyed it."

This says much for the quality of the sound system, which had been subjected to an enormous continuous load. "The Vortex Festival runs for 12 hours through the night, from 7pm until 7am and the system has to work reliably." Fortunately, due to his many years of experience with Martin Audio systems he was confident this requirement would be absolutely fulfilled.

In conclusion he praises the sonic coherence across the different series and how easily they can be combined. "WPC and WPS are different size formats but they fit together perfectly in all technical respects: phase response and so on. With many manufacturers this provides problems as the speakers don't fit together in terms of sound. This is certainly not an issue with Martin Audio, as the different series work wonderfully together."

6th June 2024

Andrés Campos Creates Sparkling Show for Eladio Carrión with Chauvet Professional

Andrés Campos Creates Sparkling Show for Eladio Carrión with Chauvet Professional
Andrés Campos Creates Sparkling Show for Eladio Carrión with Chauvet Professional

Colombia – Grammy winner Eladio Carrión’s performance on stage has as many facets as diamond. Blasting his way through a freestyle repertoire of trap, reggaeton and other sounds, he leaves no stone unturned as he takes fans on a musical journey. On top of that he leaves them laughing too, drawing on his background as a comedian to serve up witticisms along with his music.

The stage on Carrión’s “The Sauce Tour” shines as brightly as a diamond too, thanks to a fast-moving and majestic light show by renowned lighting designer, Andrés Campos. 

Campos’ touring rig varies by locations on the multi-national tour. For the Latin American leg, it featured 68 Color Strike M motorised wash-strobes and 54 COLORado PXL Bar 16 motorised battens from Chauvet Professional. In the United States, the tour excitement is driven by 30 Color Strike M units, 32 COLORado PXL Bar 16 battens, 32 Rogue R2X Beams and 12 Maverick MK3 Washes.

The lighting design of this tour has been created to be carried out in three scales: one large, one medium and one small for the United States, according to Campos. “The main objective was to be able to generate the same show quality regardless of the size of the design, so we decided to use as many functions as possible that we could have in each type of fixture,” he explained. “Our main equipment on which the programming is based, are the strobes and the bars, in the same way in multiple instances. Additionally, we decided to use lasers in the show to make a variation of the light.”

For the concerts held in Colombia, the local rental company Línea Estratégica was in charge of supplying the lighting equipment specified by Campos.

“Línea Estratégica has become a reference company for others, due to its good service, quality of staff and its impeccable work, which is a reflection of its success,” said Campos.

“The specific use of the Color Strike M and the COLORado PXL Bar 16 was to be able to generate different environments, moments and sensations with the same luminaire.

“I decided to use Chauvet Professional products since I found everything needed in them,” continued Campos. “Chauvet has had notable growth in the industry and the new products offer an immediate response to the needs of the designs.”

Campos approached the Chauvet company a little over a year ago when he contacted Paula Ortiz, business development manager for Chauvet in Latin America who recommend the new COLORado PXL Bar 16 so he could incorporate them into the tour.

Speaking of another fixture on the rig, Conrado Santamaría, general director of Línea Estratégica, commented that the Chauvet's Color Strike M is setting an industry standard with "several key characteristics that make them an ideal option for a wide range of applications."

Thinking about the creative aspect of the show, Andrés Campos recognised that “the design is inspired by a vanishing point, which is represented in a central truss, from there we start with two side screens, to finish with the lighting rig.”

He points out that each show is different every show, with each concert delivering different emotions. They all have their mark and their own impact, in his view. “Of the more than 100 shows we are doing, the most important were in Colombia, because it was playing at home and that pressure is very strong,” said Campos. “I want to highlight the incredible work of integrating lighting, video and laser programming that was done for this tour.

“The most important people to highlight in this project would be: first Walter Medina, our production manager, who was the first to trust Chronos Creative to carry out this project; the second, and no less important, is Yomi, the owner of Rimas, who believed in us. And thirdly, to the person who has trusted the most in my design madness, Alejandra González, who is the director of Ethereal Vision, the creator of the visual content of the show. There are also Carolina Londoño and Urban Lighting, the laser programmer, with whom we made the perfect match to be able to integrate this new element into the show and use it at the ideal moment and without being exaggerated.”

When referring to how colour influences the scenography, Campos emphasised that “the colour and temperature of the light is the most important thing, I feel that colour and intensity is what leads us to visually represent emotions and music.”

Representing the myriad moods and emotions conveyed by his client on this tour, Campos treated fans to a production that not only shined like a diamond, but also glittered like gold.

Andrés Campos Creates Sparkling Show for Eladio Carrión with Chauvet ProfessionalAndrés Campos Creates Sparkling Show for Eladio Carrión with Chauvet Professional

6th June 2024

Lite Alt Invests in Kinesys

Lite Alt Invests in Kinesys
Lite Alt Invests in Kinesys

UK - Lighting rental company Lite Alternative has consolidated its commitment to Kinesys automation technology with the recent purchase of 15 Apex half ton hoists and a Mentor 4 controller.

Lite Alt is one of a number of UK customers transitioning from their existing Elevation systems, choosing to continue investing in Kinesys for their future automation needs.

Lite Alt’s new Apex system has already been used to great effect on tour with the Arctic Monkeys and Niall Horan.

Both productions were designed by Lite Alt’s Paul Normandale who put automation at the heart of the show visuals. Paul is known for his innovative show designs and for thinking out of the box when creating lively and interesting performance environments.

Having invested in Kinesys for at least the last 15 years with the Elevation series, both Paul and Lite Alt’s technical and automation manager Andy Scott wanted to stay with a brand that has been super-reliable for so long: “We definitely wanted the continuity and also the service that comes with Kinesys,” commented Paul.

Andy added: “The Kinesys system works extremely well. Vector control is user friendly, easy to program and flexible, the movement is smooth and above all, Apex complies to all the current EU safety requirements for flying objects above people.

The Arctic Monkeys set included two four by eight metre pods which were filled with some specific custom car head lamps from a classic Italian sports car that lead singer Alex Turner especially likes.

The pods were each lifted using five of Lite Alt’s Apex hoists, three on the upstage edge and two on the downstage, allowing them to pitch and tilt in various ways in addition to moving up and down.

The lamps were fed with video sources and used as a pixel effect synched to the music and the pods moved up and down and pitched constantly throughout the show changing the look, feel and architecture of the performance space.

The two pods were constructed by TAIT together with the rest of the set, and Paul also used a 4ft diameter custom mirror ball – complete with the band’s name in LED lettering – flown on a single Kinesys Apex hoist, which came in and out at strategic moments.

Automation was operated on the road by Ameer El-Eryan, also the production rigger and it was tech’d by LX crew chief Scott Owen, who also knows the Kinesys system well.

The Apex hoist range offers maximum speeds of 500mm/s (100ft/min) and 200mm/s (40ft/min) in compact packages with the highest safety standards and completely silent braking systems. The ability to ‘hover’ (zero speed) enables use in specific environments where chain hoists previously may not have been an option. 

Ultra-smooth movement is possible via this precision speed and position control, all factors contributing to achieving complex and graceful of geometric movements.

On the current Nial Horan “The Show” tour, most of the ceiling area is filled with a set piece containing 180 LED festoon bulbs inspired by classic art deco movie house facades.

Weighing 1.8 tons and flown downstage of a spectacular Austrian curtain, the light box is lifted on five Apex hoists, and it also moves into different positions as the show unfolds, all of this making the space more dynamic.

The Vector control system on Niall Horan is being operated by Chris Taylor, working closely with Graham Feast who is running lights.

The next tour for Lite Alt’s Apex system will be the Kings of Leon world tour which kicks off in Nashville in June following the dropping of new album, “Can We Please Have Fun”.

Paul often utilises automation as a creative show design tool: “It can add whole new dimensions and perspectives to a space as well as some touches of magic and mystery,” he stated, “when used appropriately, automation can have substantial dramatic impact.”

photos: Paul Normandale

Lite Alt Invests in KinesysLite Alt Invests in Kinesys

4th June 2024

The National Works with Robe in New Zealand

The National Works with Robe in New Zealand

New Zealand – Cincinnati rock band The National’s touring lighting crew appreciated using a mix of Robe BMFL Blade and Spiider wash beam moving lights for their show at Auckland’s Spark Arena venue, for which equipment was supplied by rental company NW Group / Oceania and used to great effect to realise a touring version of Michael Brown’s production lighting design.

The National played the Australia and New Zealand leg of their ongoing world tour in February and March in a show that embraces new material from two albums including the latest Laugh Track and continues through 2024.

The production is being co-ordinated on the road – like clockwork – by production manager Stuart Trenold and includes lighting and video crew chief Emil Hojmark from Denmark and lighting director Matt Greer from the USA who is operating lighting on the road.

Emil heads up the multi-tasking touring visual crew of four having started as The National’s video technician 12 years ago. Production designer Michael Brown is well known for his creatively adventurous designs and penchant for producing different and interesting work, and Matt is responsible for delivering this art at each venue, which is smartly adaptable to accommodate different scenarios.

The fixture counts usually remain the same, but the kit can also vary when supplied locally, depending on what is available, as was the case for the two shows in New Zealand.

The National’s standard rider specification includes Robe Spiiders and MegaPointes, “which are great, we love these fixtures, and MegaPointes are one of Michael’s favourites, he uses them a lot,” explained Emil.

Typically, they will utilise 35 MegaPointes, rigged on custom frames with a video pod fixture hung a metre below each moving light, a meticulous design that needs precise alignment in larger arenas.

This was the set-up for the three US legs of the tour predating Australasia and for Australia, but in New Zealand things were different.

Here they used a 12-metre wide by 5.5-metre-deep upstage video screen, with the MegaPointes replaced by the BMFL Blades, seven of which were rigged on each of four overhead trusses (total of 28), together with six Spiiders per truss (24 in total). The video panels were spread around the band on the deck in this iteration of the stage design.

“Spiiders are almost universally available everywhere that we are going,” said Emil, “so they are a constant that rarely changes.” He added that they were picked for their great coverage, good range of whites, excellent colour mixing and general versatility.

The production is carrying their own control package on the whole tour which includes one lighting console plus a separate one onstage for DMX video control over four Robocams and playback sources.

Virginia-based Matt Greer’s creative career started while studying fine art at university and has included ten years of basic training and venue work in and around San Francisco. He has been working with The National since 2021 when they re-started touring after the pandemic and has previously worked for Michael Brown with other artists including Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service.

He also mentions how fundamental MegaPointes are to the original design and what great lights they are generally.

He particularly likes how the colour range, including excellent pastels, has enabled the expansion of their scenes to include many gobo looks, both aerial and projected, sometimes combined with the animation wheel to match the style and texture of the video content which was produced by Ben Krall.

Spiiders are another popular choice based on availability and to suit the aesthetic. “We needed a powerful wash but one that wasn’t too physically large,” he noted.

Matt uses Robe fixtures frequently in his work and is always pleased to see FORTES, MegaPointes or LEDBeam 150s on a house rig or a rider. He also loves Robe’s Tetra moving LED bars although there are none on this design.

With a pool of over 100 songs to choose from to make up the set each night, the band is constantly adding new material, which keeps everyone alert and on their toes.

For Stuart Tenold, the level of support from all the lighting vendors on this leg of the tour was excellent.

From a local production and rental company perspective, NW Group / Oceania project manager Brent Greenwood, who co-ordinated the production supply for both shows (Auckland and Wellington) in New Zealand, generally appreciates the quality and reliability of Robe’s fixtures.

Brent commented: “It was a great opportunity for the NW Group / Oceania to demonstrate its commitment to excellent crew and products by touring these shows back-to-back with a seriously creative lighting rig containing many Robe products. While New Zealand is a limited market with us being at the bottom of the world, we can and do deliver killer shows meeting the highest spec’d riders like this one!”

In Australia, The National’s Robe Spiiders and MegaPointes were part of lighting packages from Sydney-based Chameleon covering the Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne performances, and Showscreens for the final gig in Perth.

photos: Louise Stickland

The National Works with Robe in New ZealandThe National Works with Robe in New Zealand

4th June 2024