Production News Headlines
Butch Allen and André Petrus Get Spacey with Chauvet Professional for Bruna Boy at Madison Square Garden
Firefly AV Crafts Smashing Looks for the Allam British Open Squash Tournament with Chauvet Professional
Ayrton MagicBlade-FX Lighting Fixtures Give Custom Looks to Performers on NBC’s New “American Song Contest”
500 Plus Astera Titan Tubes Join the Cyber Rodeo Party at Tesla Gigafactory
USA – Lighting and visual designer Rob Ross of New York and LA-based technical production company Rob Ross Design used over 500 Astera Titan Tubes to highlight impressive architectural and industrial areas at Tesla’s new Gigafactory in Austin, Texas, for the automotive giant’s recent facilities launch party, ‘Cyber Rodeo’.
Covering 2,500 acres along the Colorado River and offering over 10 million square feet of factory floor, Gigafactory Texas is a US manufacturing hub for Tesla Model Y and the future home of Cybertruck.
Rob and his team were asked onboard by the ‘Cyber Rodeo’ event’s creative director Stefan Beckman and producer Mark Seed and tasked with designing a creative illumination scheme for the vast environmental spaces involved in the event, including interiors and the building exterior.
This epic mission saw close collaboration with LD Tom Sutherland and his team from DX7 Design who created lighting for Cyber Rodeo’s three stage and entertainment areas.
The enormous main space utilised for the event measured 3800ft x 1200ft and stretches the equivalent of seven city blocks.
Looking at photos, videos, walk-throughs, plans and renders were useful for getting an impression explained Rob, but it wasn’t until he finally stood in the space for real during the first recce that he truly felt and understood its scale and enormity.
This was the first trigger for creating an atmosphere for guests to be engaged, impressed and put in the mood to party by proactive lighting.
“We had a free rein to suggest ideas which was great fun!” stated Rob, who immediately thought of utilising the building’s impressive structural metalwork as part of the installation, highlighting its form and impressive architecture as well as utilising it practically to provide lighting positions.
Titan Tubes also sprang to mind straight away! This was for the quality and power of the output and – obviously in a space this size – the wireless control and operation.
Rob frequently uses Astera products in designs and projects and loves the versatility of all the Astera products.
Get in and set up time for Cyber Rodeo was tight given its size and ambition, also partly due to the factory continuing to be functional throughout the build.
The Titan Tube installation was approximately 1,900ft long with 568 fixtures deployed across the building, the vast majority magnetically attached to the top parts of the columns which were each 40ft apart.
This ‘perspective design’ illustrated the spectacular size and presence of the building, emphasising its character and potency as a workplace, and additionally gave it a real sense of depth as guests moved around to the various areas.
These included the main stages and assorted ‘exhibition’ areas that were highlighting various Tesla vehicles, old, new, prototype, etc., as well as cutting-edge manufacturing plant like aluminium casting machines which form part of a vehicle frame from molten aluminium, a technology designed to reduce the amount of welding needed, plus new painting facilities and an array of other amazing industrial robots.
The Titan Tube design allowed the whole area to be beautifully and tastefully lit and enabled some mind-bending effects with chases whizzing manically up and down the building, all helping ramp up the energy, excitement and high-tech party atmosphere.
Over 400 of the Titan Tubes were ingeniously rigged to the steel pillars using Androokie magnet kits, with some other fixtures dotted around on the floor and other vantage points, all controlled through Astera ART7 boxes via a grandMA2 lighting console. “This all worked fantastically,” commented Rob.
It would have been near impossible to cable that many fixtures neatly within the time frame, an exercise that would have been costly and inefficient in person-power, but the Astera units were loosely power cabled for the programming sessions with the cabling running along the floor that was removed on the morning of the show, leaving them completely wireless.
Rob was delighted with the results as were his clients.
He admits that he’s been wanting to do something of this scale and profile with Titan Tubes ever since he first used Astera products around five years ago.
“The light quality is soft and nicely textures spaces, people, and objects. They are small and handleable – extremely mobile, the colour mixing is excellent, and they can be fitted absolutely anywhere,” he concluded.
Rob Ross Designs owns a quantity of Titan Tubes as well as the smaller Helios Tubes and the larger Hyperion, all of which use the same Titan LED engine however, even using all of these they didn’t have anywhere near enough for Cyber Rodeo, so most units were supplied by Wireless Film Lights, with entertainment stage lighting contractor 4Wall pitching in to make up the remaining count.
Rob and his team also supplied around 100 of their own Astera AX5 TriplePARs and 24 AX3 LightDrop on the truck for last minute deployment. Sure enough, the day before, all of these were utilised to light signage, bars, walkways, toilets, etc., as this part of the factory was transformed from an imposing cyber manufacturing facility into a cool event space for the evening.
The Titan Tubes were also programmed into the DX7 Design team’s lighting control consoles allowing them to be incorporated with their stage lighting at specific moments as a series of live acts and guest speakers took to the stage, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
Rob’s associate for the project was Aiden Marshall and their assistants were Jai Jing Qi and Dan Schreckengost.
Rob concludes: “We all had a really amazing experience on this project. It was a lot of fun to be challenged to work on such a large space and get to know such amazing new Tesla technology! I particularly enjoyed the teamwork and synergies existing between the different departments, disciplines and everyone involved who worked tirelessly to make it happen, as well as having the opportunity to create these incredible visual elements using such innovative products. A huge thanks to all of the teams and vendors that helped make it happen!”
20th May 2022
Over 400 Claypaky fixtures at the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest
Italy – The 66th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest was held by the EBU (European Broadcasting Union) at the PalaOlimpico in Turin. About 200 million people watched live and, for the first time in three years, there was an almost full audience at the venue.
RAI RadioTelevisione Italiana, as host broadcaster, took the lead in setting up the stage, which this year revolved around "The Sun Within" designed by Francesca Montinaro, an ambitious new stage concept based on the light of a kinetic sun. The multi-level stage set-up was complemented by spectacular waterfalls, large LED video walls and – as always – an impressive array of lights ready to set the competing artists' shows on fire.
Claypaky was there with over 400 lights, including 120 Sharpy X Frame, 64 Xtylos, 25 Mini Xtylos, 42 Arolla Profile HP, 25 Stormy CC and 144 Sharpy Wash units. Particularly prominent among them all were the new Claypaky Sharpy X Frame hybrid lights, which flanked the two side catwalks that led from the upper stage down to the stage below. The Claypaky Xtylos fixtures were arranged along the two top side edges of the structure and were particularly visible in the fanned-out coloured light that cut through the audience. They also had the essential task of creating the lighting effect that accompanied the presentation jingle at the beginning of each song.
The Claypaky Mini Xtylos HPEs were fitted in unusual places: thanks to their great compactness, they were installed inside the stage-side trapdoors, from which sharp blades of coloured light shot out. The Claypaky Arolla Profile HPs and Sharpy Wash 330s were placed around the stage and the venue and played multifarious roles. They provided side and back lighting for the artists, and wash lighting for the green room.
The event was directed by Duccio Forzano and Cristian Biondani, and Mario Catapano was the lighting director.
Marcus Graser, Claypaky CEO, said: "The world's most impressive musical show used our lights once again this year. The lighting designer chose a wide range of Claypaky units, including profile spotlights, hybrid fixtures, beam moving lights, washlights and strobes. The fixtures used various light sources: LED-based, laser-based and discharge lamps. This speaks volumes about the wide variety of versatile, reliable lighting solutions which only Claypaky can currently offer the market.”
The lighting systems were provided by Calvini Light Equipment Service, based in Taggia (Imperia), and Sound D-Light from Pesaro.
photos: Nathan Reinds
20th May 2022
GLP shines twice on back-to-back primetime German TV shows
Germany – At the beginning of April, the classic German TV series Verstehen Sie Spaß (which translates as ‘Do You Understand Fun?’) entered a new season, with the moderator duties transferring from the long-serving Guido Cantz to Barbara Schöneberger, and the entire production moving from its familiar Munich location to the Berlin studio.
Lighting designer Thomas Gerdon, who has been responsible for lighting the show for many years, took the opportunity to update the lighting concept on behalf of Kimmig Entertainment GmbH to include over 250 GLP spots. While Gerdon design GmbH adapted the lighting and content design for the show’s acts, the light and content design for the Beatrice Egli Show – which was produced directly afterwards in a modified set – was forged completely from its Wiesbaden design studio.
Thomas Gerdon, who always favours GLP products for his TV productions, also staged the Beatrice Egli shows with multiple devices from the German manufacturer. A total of 48 GLP impression X4 Bar 20, 42 GT-1, 35 X4 L, 31 JDC1, 20 X4 and 17 Highlander Wash, plus 12 of the new impression X5 and 64 Fusion Stick FS16 Z, were deployed.
Several challenges had to be overcome with this combined production. On the one hand, the TV classic Verstehen Sie Spaß needed to look fresh but still offer a high recognition value for the viewers. On the other, the two shows, produced back to back, made very different demands on the lighting.
"A Saturday evening entertainment show with a high proportion of talk like Verstehen Sie Spaß, followed by a typical music show featuring multiple acts, had to be treated fundamentally differently," says Thomas Gerdon. “However, we didn't have time for several days’ rebuild, so I developed a hybrid concept that met the specific needs of both productions.”
This concept resulted in two individual stage designs for the two shows. The talk corner of both formats was designed to its usual high standard, while the show stages were equipped for the most diverse possible use. A mix of spots and washlights provided the basic production lighting. A wealth of variable elements on towers or on roller boards provided the necessary variety, especially in the Beatrice Egli Show, which had two show stages at its disposal.
“In this, it was the individual pieces that we were constantly able to arrange differently, which made it possible for each artist to have a completely different look," adds Gerdon.
The 17 Highlander Wash were exclusively responsible for the personal lighting. "With a really good wash light like the Highlander, which combines a high CRI with sufficient power and aperture options, you can be super-precise,” says Gerdon. “And thanks to its power, this can be done right across the board. I'm definitely a fan of this washlight.”
Another must-have in this instance was the 42 compact GT-1 beamlights, as Thomas Gerdon explains: “The permanently fixed component of the Verstehen Sie Spaß set is a ceiling plafond with embedded beam lights. Here we chose the GT-1 primarily because of its high brightness. Since the lamp has no base, it also looks very good in this setting.”
On the other hand, Gerdon requisitioned 12 of the brand-new GLP impression X5 washlights for the first time, which served as effects during various moments in the show. "The X5 is brighter than the previous model, but that's not a criticism,” he explains. “The zoom is very, very fast, which of course is pretty cool. But what really impresses is the light quality of the new X5. It's fantastic in the white area as well as in the colours. The quality of the colours and the white light is definitely unparalleled in its class and product range.”
The X4 Bar 20, X4 and X4 L are already among the standard workhorses in Gerdon's GLP box of tricks. “With the 48 X4 Bars, we illuminated several large areas on which foil prints indicating light reflections were laminated. We noticed that these prints come out differently depending on the colour temperature and then sometimes appear as if they are glowing themselves, which looked great.”
The 64 LED Fusion Stick FS16 Z and the 31 JDC1 hybrid strobes contributed to a large section of the show’s effects lighting, the JDC1 providing effects lighting on both show stages (on the floor and in the trusses). "As schlager music becomes more modern and electronic, the JDC1's versatility and punch make it a very welcome solution when it comes to creating 18 schlager titles with different looks,” Gerdon concludes.
“We used the Fusion FS16 Z on the one hand as a fixed part of the show light on the stage, while other sticks were installed in various arrangements on the title decoration towers or could be used behind the audience as spotlights. For me, the FS16 Z is a great example of what constitutes the quality of GLP as a manufacturer: they listen carefully, ask the right questions and then deliver a product that simply offers everything you would expect from such a TV studio lamp. This cannot be done any better."
photos: Julian Huke
20th May 2022
JRLX adds “do all” Proteus Lucius to rental stock
USA – Chicago-based systems integration, sales and production firm JRLX, Inc. has added Elation Professional’s outdoor-rated Proteus Lucius LED profile moving head to its growing inventory of rental lighting fixtures. The Lucius, an all-purpose fixture in Elation’s market-leading Proteus line of weatherproof luminaires, is fully loaded and is the compact brother to the company’s popular Proteus Maximus.
Jason Reberski, CEO at JRLX, saw the Lucius at LDI 2019, just months before the industry shutdown. He comments: “Elation has the most highly specified IP-rated fixture toolkit currently and the Proteus name is known globally. I knew that when the demand came roaring back in spring of 2021, that Lucius was high on our list of fixtures to evaluate. We compared it to 1000 Watt HID source fixtures on the market and the output and feature set of the Lucius far excelled.”
The Lucius compares favourably to current 1500W-1700W discharge fixtures on the market, Reberski says, and at a fraction of the wattage and with more features. “It’s a solid fixture in every category but here’s the silver lining: there are zero downsides to the fact that it is weatherproof. The Proteus Lucius is lightweight, compact, and super quiet. It is perfectly useable in an opera house, an arena, an outdoor festival, or a movie shoot. The IP65 rating is simply a bonus that makes it even more versatile. It really is a ‘do-all’ fixture!”
The Proteus Lucius houses a CMY colour mixing system with variable CTO and five-slot colour wheel and can be used as a profile, beam or wash light, reducing the need for variant fixtures. It produces up to 33,500 lumens from a peak field 580W white LED engine and is loaded with features: 5.5° to 50° zoom, three gobo wheels, dual prisms, animation wheel, full blackout framing system, variable frost filters, iris, electronic shutter and more.
“The best part of Lucius is that it is not a niche filler,” according to Reberski. “This light can go anywhere, indoor or outdoor, and it makes no feature compromises.” An important benefit of IP-rated fixtures, he points out, and one that can sometimes be overlooked, is the fact that when used indoors with pyro, atmospheric effects and the grime of an arena setting, there is no need to open the fixture and take it completely apart to clean it. “We simply wipe the fixture off and it looks brand new because it is completely sealed to not only moisture but also dust, smoke, and fog!”
JRLX took delivery of the Proteus Lucius in March and the IP65 moving heads were immediately sent out on tour with heavy metal rockers Gojira. JRLX is in its eleventh year of providing touring production, lighting and visual solutions, technical, support, and systems integration on a national scale. With a touring production department stocked with the latest in lighting technology, including their new Proteus Lucius fixtures, the company is equipped for further success.
19th May 2022
Massive Productions Creates Soaring Looks For El Alfa with Chauvet Professional
Curaçao – The New York Times hailed him as the “King of Dembow” after a sold-out October show at Madison Square Garden. For the passionate legion of El Alfa fans, this title is more than well-deserved. With his alto, sensual voice and non-stop energy, the charismatic Dominican singer embodies the essence of the bouncy, upbeat variation of reggae that came of age in his nation and has swept across the world.
Recently, El Alfa brought his whirlwind dembow performance to Curaçao for the island’s first major music festival since the start of the pandemic lockdown. For the fans, it was well worth the wait. Their live festival draught ended with a bang, as El Alfa heated up the stage with his rapid fire intensity and smooth moves, all the while engaging the audience with his intimate style.
Enhancing the memorable experience at the festival, which was produced by Beehives Curaçao was a bold and dynamic lighting design by Jimmy Lo-A-Njoe and Iziquiel Goncalves of Massive Productions, which supplied and installed the rig. Anchoring the light show and driving its visual power was a collection of over 100 Chauvet Professional fixtures.
“It takes a village to make show like the Ambiente Music Festival 2021 happen, beginning with the man himself, El Alfa,” said Lo-A-Njoe, of Massive Productions. “Giving all that has happened over the past two years, this festival meant a great deal to live music fans here.
“We were honoured that Beehives Curaçao choose Massive Productions to do the event productions on location, and to make sure all went as planned,” continued Lo-A-Njoe. “To ensure the success of this event, we turned to our trusted partners like Franky's Chairs & Tables, Royal Rentals, The Green Machine Generator Rentals, Quickfiks Cleaning Services, T-Experience Security, Safe, Selikor, Yess Event Power, POSH, Prorent, Fiesta Tou and, of course, our Chauvet Professional fixtures.”
The rig’s 12 Maverick MK1 Hybrid fixtures, positioned six apiece to either side of the stage, were used as the main fill light during the show. Drawing on the intense output and tight beam angle of these 440W movers, the designers also relied on them to create an array of aerial and eye candy effects.
Joining the Mavericks in accenting ballyhoo moments (along with ample quantities of fog), were 15 Strike 4 fixtures. These high output blinders also reinforced the crowd connection, which is so much a part of an El Alfa concert experience, by washing the audience in warm white light.
Colour also played a key role in the lighting design, creating markedly different atmospheres to reflect the various moods of the songs in El Alfa’s set list, which featured a range of hits from “Banda De Camion” and “Dominiano Soy,” to “4K.” For some of the more mellow and reflective tunes, the stage was covered with deep blues that were sprinkled with cool whites. At other points, things heated up with intense reds, pierced by sharp yellows and greens. Then there were more elegant passages where purples ruled.
To spread colour throughout the entire stage, the designers relied on ten COLORado Tri Tour fixtures to serve as truss warmers. However, most of the colour intensity was delivered by 16 Rogue R2 Spot fixtures, supported by 16 Rogue R2 Beam and 26 R2 Spot units, which contributed to the colour scape in addition to creating aerial effects and crossing patterns of light.
“The entire family of Rogues are our workhorses,” said Lo-A-Njoe. “Since they are extremely fasted, we put them to use creating rapid sweeps for this show. We also used them for specials and eye candy throughout the evening. They’re compact enough to use in a ballroom, but powerful enough to make a statement at the big shows.”
On the subject of big shows, none have been bigger in Curaçao for quite some time than the return of festivals with El Alfa. As anyone at the Curaçao Festival Center on Saturday 20 November would agree, the Massive Productions light show was big enough to meet the moment, and then some.
19th May 2022
Patchwork London deploys DiGiCo Quantum 225 on Pale Waves
Worldwide – Pale Waves was formed in 2014 by lead singer and guitarist Heather Baron-Gracie and drummer Ciara Doran while they were at university in Manchester. The band was later joined by guitarist Hugo Silvani and bassist Charlie Wood, completing the line-up. Eight years later, the English indie rock band released their second album, Who Am I? in February this year, that peaked at number three on the UK Albums Chart. Currently touring across five countries and with more US concerts coming up, expert in live production, Patchwork London, is providing tour and production management services to the band, which includes two DiGiCo Quantum 225 consoles for FOH and monitors supplied by SSE Audio.
“Due to a massive increase in touring projects we support, we needed to invest in new, high quality consoles,” says Calum Mordue, touring director at Patchwork London. “The Q225s ticked all the right boxes. They’re next generation consoles, hugely powerful and relatively compact in size so can easily service both a tour bus and trailer tour or an arena tour.”
Despite having worked with Pale Waves’ management company and record label for a long time, this is the first tour Patchwork London has supported. “We decided on the Q225s because of their smaller footprint and massive feature set. The console is small enough to squeeze into Dublin Academy and not out of place in the Roundhouse,” explains Mordue.
The engineers on the UK leg of the tour were Calum, on monitors and Lee McMahon at front of house.
“As we were going into a new campaign, Patchwork gave me the opportunity to scale up to the Quantum 225 from the SD11i I'd used previously. It was a seamless transition, the extra capabilities of the Q225 allowed me to do so much more and, after a few weeks with it, I’ve never been happier with how the band are sounding!” exclaims McMahon.
“I’m using all available input channels on the console, taking 52 inputs from stage (plus effects returns, utility channels, etc.) and mix mostly with groups. DiGiCo’s flexibility for routing and layout has become critical to how I put mixes together now. I use the matrix mixer to send left/right/sub/fill to my Lake LM44 as well as creating two-track mixes for archive and an IEM mix to our lighting director.”
Combined with the 32-bit cards in the SD-Rack, the Spice Rack handling dynamic EQ instead of outboard and the Mustard processing adding great tonality options to inputs and groups, McMahon says the Q225 is a perfect blend of horsepower, sonic quality and importantly for a band of this size.
He also notes that is the first tour with the band where he has not used any analogue outboard gear, and is utilising a Waves SuperRack system for record-specific effects as well as some group processing.
While multi-track recording every soundcheck and show, for this tour McMahon uses the UB MADI’s built-in SRC to allow him to use 48 channels of record at 48kHz while still running the Optocore loop at 96kHz. “I don’t utilise snapshots for this show, but rely heavily on macros to engage and disengage cues including side chain compressors, LPF/HPFs, gates, AM radio-style vocals as well as reverb/delay throws,” he explains.
He also uses GPIs on the console to fire macros via a foot switch. “I have one that, when I engage the foot switch, it attenuates the lead vocal channel down by 10dB, turns off the vocal aux sends and adds a LPF to the channel, he says. “This means during sections where Heather isn’t singing, or is away from her mic, I can reduce any spill introduced from cymbals and generally clean the centre of mix up in between vocal phrases. As soon as I release the foot switch, it goes back to its normal state. It’s quick, transparent and enables me to keep my hands on the faders at all times.”
As the first UK rental company to purchase DiGiCo Quantum 225 consoles, Patchwork London see it as the ideal console, both in terms of price and feature set.
“Aside from the Pale Waves tour, we have already deployed Q225s on Jessie Ware, both on FOH and monitors. Rina Sawayama for FOH and Ella Henderson on monitors,” Mordue concludes. “It looks like our Q225s are going to be very busy over the summer, and we have another two on order to service the demand!”
19th May 2022
David Beebe Reflects Many Sides of The Zombies with Chauvet Professional
USA – Last year, David Beebe became one of the first house LDs to add Chauvet Professional’s Maverick Force S Spot to his rig when he took shipment of six of the then-new 350W lightweight movers from JRLX at the legendary club The Birchmere, where he’s been looking after the lighting since 2004.
At the time, Beebe explained the move by saying he was expecting the new fixtures to add “another dimension” to his light shows, allowing him to incorporate new looks to reflect the diverse mix of artists that take to The Birchmere’s stage. This April, he provided another example of how the fixtures have exceeded his expectations when he created a deeply evocative show that morphed from psychedelic, to old school rock, to jazz looks.
This time, the show has an extra-special personal touch for Beebe, as the band he was lighting were the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, The Zombies. “I listened to them as a kid,” he said of the iconic group from St. Albans, UK. “They were always special.”
That’s an opinion shared by many rock critics. Hailed by Rolling Stone for creating a “suite of songs that are among the best ever in the rock era,” The Zombies have left an indelible mark on the genre. Beebe did them justice in their 90-minute set with his seamless light show.
“I try to never to repeat looks throughout a show,” he said. “It bores me to be repetitive and I don’t want to bore the audience either. For the Zombies, I wanted some psychedelic looks which I got mainly using the video wall and some colour scrolling. The rest was straight rock and roll or ballad looks. I like to do darker looks with a lot of overhead lighting and many of the bands seem to like that as well. Keeps the light out of their eyes! I used the mirror ball on one song and lot of swirly stuff on the video wall.”
Beebe’s six Maverick Force S Spots contributed mightily to this flowing stream of looks. He had two of the fixtures on the downstage corners, while spreading the other four evenly across the upstage deck. In addition to framing the stage, these were focused on the mirror ball at times.
“I liked fanning the Forces in a straight out look for slow ballads,” he said. “Then for other more aggressive numbers I went for a thin beam laser-type look. Changing up the zoom, gobos, and colours kept the show varied. Also, I often spun my lights slightly for atmosphere. Another thing that was important in this show was the Forces’ tight zoom, which was great for highlighting solos.”
Joining the Force S Spots in creating these many moods on stage were the rig’s six Maverick MK1 Spot fixtures. Flown on midstage truss, they were used for ballyhoo specials, solos, and audience lighting.
“Audience lighting was a big part of this show,” said Beebe, adding that the crowd was “really enthusiastic” as soon as the Zombies walked on stage. Like the house LD himself, many of them also had great memories of one of rock’s most remarkable and innovative bands.
18th May 2022
Proteus Maximus fulfils key visual role at Expo 2020
UAE – Elation’s Proteus Maximus has been employed on top name shows and events since launching in 2019 but none perhaps as impressive as Expo 2020. In September 2021, Dubai saw the beautiful opening ceremony of Expo 2020, the kick-off of the world’s premiere international exhibition event that ran through March 2022. With 192 participating countries a part of the journey, Expo focused on ‘Connecting Minds and Creating the Future’ explored through the themes of Sustainability, Mobility and Opportunity.
Woodroffe Bassett Design (WBD) served as lighting design consultants on Expo 2020 with WBD founding partner Adam Bassett lead in the process. The initial brief was to transform Al Wasl Plaza, a 67 metre tall, 130 metre diameter structure with 252 video projectors and an immersive sound system, from a spectacular garden into a live event venue. Al Wasl Plaza, the beating heart of the Expo, hosted an ambitious daily program of shows, concerts and ceremonies, which changed nightly over the Expo’s six-month duration. WBD designed a house lighting rig that integrated into the structure with the clear direction not to detract from the beauty of the architecture.
While Expo was open to the public during the winter months, rehearsals and programming in the outdoor dome was carried out at the peak of the Dubai summer. It was recognised from the outset that the harsh summer environment would place a lot of stress on all parts of the lighting system and that, where possible, all fixtures needed to be outdoor rated.
“One of the driving factors behind our fixture choices was their proven ability to withstand harsh environments,” Adam Bassett commented. “We needed not only for the fixtures to operate in extreme heat but also withstand sandstorms and torrential rain over an extended period, operating 24 hours a day without the need for regular heavy maintenance. The Proteus Maximus was one of the fixtures that confidently matched up to the challenge and we were delighted to see the units live up to the promise!”
Two thirds of the way up the dome were mounted 159 Elation Proteus Maximus LED moving heads that sat outside with a custom shade to protect them from direct sunlight. Around the perimeter of the trellis were 42 projection pods, below which a further 82 Proteus Maximus hung along with other lighting fixtures. WBD worked closely with Agora, the lighting supplier for Al Wasl Plaza, who in turn worked with Elation distributor Audio Effetti.
WBD executed a number of ambitious shows in the Al Wasl Plaza, 40 by the end of March, with some of the most notable Al Adiyat: The Story of a Boy and His Horse, Diwali and the stunning Sami Yusuf performances of 'Beyond the Stars’. Along with the house shows that were delivered throughout the exhibition, the venue was host to a number of external lighting teams bringing in concerts and special events. In addition, WBD were asked to provide the lighting design for the Expo Daily Productions in Al Wasl Plaza, led by Principal Designer Terry Cook.
Eight other entertainment venues fell under WBD’s scope, among them the Jubilee Stage lighting design. Inspired by a contemporary music festival main stage, music acts, spoken word, dance and comedy acts performed beneath 200+ moving fixtures including Proteus Maximus. Also, the Dubai Millennium Amphitheatre, a more intimate multipurpose venue with an emphasis on theatrical events, featured 180+ moving fixtures consisting of Proteus Maximus and other lights. Neuman and Muller supplied lighting for both the Jubilee and DMA stages.
Several of the country pavilions offering immersive cultural experiences utilised Elation lights as well, including 29 Proteus Hybrid LED moving heads by Novelty Group for the French Pavilion, and Elation luminaires from Intersonic Oy for the Finnish Pavilion, amongst others.
Throughout the four years that WBD spent supporting this extraordinary project, they had the pleasure to work with an extremely talented and diverse team both locally and across the globe.
Specific mention goes out to five individuals who led and supported WBD’s journey at every turn: Tareq Ghosheh chief events and entertainment officer, Amna Abulhoul executive creative director, Kylie McOmish vice president – production and operations, Kate Randall vice president – ceremonies and programming and William Ainley vice president technical. The principal consultant team for Expo included Adam Bassett and Simon Fraser of WBD, Piers Shepperd of Wonder Works and Scott Willsallen of Auditoria.
photos: Ptarmigan Integration
18th May 2022
Hans Zimmer on the Road with Robe
Europe – Iconic multi award-winning composer, producer and “rock star of film music” Hans Zimmer hit the road this spring on a much-anticipated tour. Delayed due to the pandemic but worth every moment of waiting, as the artist and a host of talented musicians (his 19-piece band and an orchestra) delighted fans all over Europe with outstanding performances.
An eye-popping lighting design was delivered by John Featherstone from lighting and visual design studio Lightswitch. John and his team pushed for an all Robe moving light rig for the tour which started production rehearsals in Berlin with 250 Robe fixtures onboard ahead of the first European leg, with lighting equipment supplied by German rental specialist, Satis & Fy.
John explained how the design process originally started back in 2019 / 2020 with Hans curating his creative ‘dream team’ which included renowned Broadway set and scenic designer Derek McLane, video designer Peter Nigrini, choreographer Barry Lather and, of course, himself. “Hans is a master at putting collaborators together,” stated John, and in this case, hand-picked a team of experienced practitioners known for their flair and style, all of whom brought their own dynamics from different disciplines to the 'Zimmersphere'.
The lighting team was rounded out with John’s daughter Hailey Featherstone as lighting director and Chris Herman as programmer. “I was really fortunate to have such a fabulous team working with me, they really embrace collaboration and making this job great and rewarding!” he noted.
It was the breadth, richness and detail of the music that inspired the team as a starting point for the lighting design.
Hans had arranged 12 vibrant new suites of his greatest hits to be played throughout the three-hour performance using over 300 instruments in total with some numbers accompanied by an eight-member dance and chorus troupe choreographed by Barry Lather.
“With this much energy and diversity on stage from Wonder Woman to the Lion King, I knew I needed the most versatile lighting fixtures, ones that could morph and change constantly throughout the set,” enthused John, “and Robe’s MegaPointe was my go-to multi-purpose fixture!”
In creative terms, John’s underlying quest was for the lighting to be ‘musical’ and that also brought him back to Robe fixtures.
“Robe makes really elegant luminaires, there is a very organic way about the way they look and move, and the colours are outstanding,” he commented.
He wasn’t shy with the MegaPointes, adding 172 to the lighting plot!
He is a huge fan of this fixture and the MegaPointe has been a ‘spectacular workhorse” for many Lightswitch projects, be it a tour or a slick corporate show, and when it comes to needing huge adaptability, John declares that he doesn’t “know a fixture that does it better than the MegaPointe.”
For the Zimmer tour, MegaPointes were deployed all over the rig: along the top trusses and populating the three left-and-right side stage verticals, with a few on the downstage edges of the floor.
Six of the overhead trusses moved on a Cyberhoist system enabling John to integrate several ‘automation lighting’ cues into the show, whereby the trussing hardware moved while the lights on board remained static and on. This offered a contrasting and often subtle element of motion from the light movement itself and worked brilliantly in terms of physically transforming the shape and architecture of the stage space.
One of the advantages of lighting a longer show is that you can unlock a whole Pandora’s Box of visual tricks and magic over time, keeping everyone on their toes with little aspects and moments of surprise.
While the stage had an epic film look at times with the overall big, wide screen appearance, when this split horizontally and the top half tracked up, it became stylishly concealed and unobtrusive and framed the rest of the stage, which was a characteristic of Derek McLane’s skilful scenic setting and Peter Nigrini’s thoughtful and textured visuals.
John loves working with Peter as he is very conscious of how a screen functions not just as a visual treatment but also as a light source.
Sometimes in the set the screen was off completely, while other times it was used subtly for moire-style effects, and it certainly wasn’t always obvious, even for its physical size. This intelligent approach to content and screen design made the whole setting more intriguing.
Another reason John needed intense fixtures like MegaPointes was to ensure a presence on stage and to work optimally with these substantial video aspects.
When the top screen flew out, it effectively became an IMAG surface – like binoculars – for those further down the arena, leaving the stage and the action on it (and not the moved screen) very much the full focus for those sitting nearer.
The upstage screen use was restrained through the first half of the show so there was a conscious emphasis on lighting, and the palpable atmosphere and excitement was ramped up similar to a film as the show had a proper narrative arc. With the first bars of the Wonder Woman medley, the trusses started moving for the first time which brought the house down every night, followed by a gentle increase in screen content as the production started building to a unique and beautifully dramatic sonic and visual crescendo.
“Working with Derek, Peter, and Hans himself, who is very involved with the stage presentation, was one of the most enjoyable parts of this project,” related John, who has clearly relished every minute of the process and, ever his own worst critic, is “extremely pleased” with the results.
For keylighting the orchestra and band who covered a substantial area, John turned to another Robe favourite, 24 BMFL WashBeams and six BMFL WashBeam FollowSpots. Of the latter, four were on an advance truss above the audience out in the house and two were on two of the mid-stage moving trusses for neat and tailored back light.
The BMFL FollowSpots, operated via six BaseStations located backstage, were for the principals and soloists. Their main parameters were controlled via the lighting console so the operators could focus on the following, and “they worked exactly as we envisioned,” commented John.
For the first time ever, John used Robe’s Tetra range of moving LED battens in a show design, adding a row of 36 Tetra2s along the whole downstage edge of the stage, plus 32 Tetra1s rigged above the stage in key positions on various mid stage trusses.
The Tetra2s made excellent footlights he reports and can also be used to create audacious sweeping curtain-of-light effects one moment, then be transformed into a jaw-dropping effects look the next moment applying the flower effect for delicate filigree-style tracing particles of light which John particularly loved from this low-profile front of stage position.
“The Tetra range is really impressive,” he commented, adding that he is sure he will be using them again in the future.
Talking about Robe more generally, John appreciates specific characteristics that the luminaires bring to a designer: “The colours are beautiful and the colour continuity between different types of fixtures is really important; with Robe they have paid attention to this for some time, they are thinking in a proper grown-up lighting world!”
John also appreciated the great family atmosphere on the tour, and especially when his own daughter Hailey was able to clear her busy schedule and join the team as lighting director and operator for the tour. John, Hailey and Chris Herman from Lightswitch programmed the show and did one month pre-vis in New York before decamping to Europe and production rehearsals before hitting the road.
John also mentions the “outstanding” service they have received from Satis & Fy on this tour as well as commenting that both Robe’s North American and German subsidiaries were instrumental in making several logistical challenges happen like short notice custom gobo deliveries.
The sold-out tour finished its first leg to fantastic reviews, and everyone is hoping for more live shows in 2023.
photos: Lindsay Cave
17th May 2022
Midas Tours with Melissa Etheridge
USA – Melissa Etheridge is one of rock music's great singer/songwriters. With 21 albums and a slew of ongoing projects as well as her Etheridge Island Festival, she seems to stay busy even when she’s “not busy.” During the height of COVID-19 when it seemed the music world was shut down, Etheridge went livestream with her highly successful “Lockdown Concerts.”
When concert touring once again became feasible, she hit the road with her “One Way Out Tour.” The tour, promoting her newest album of the same name, brings to light previously written songs that Etheridge had penned in the 1980s and 90s. The shows feature her as well as band members David Santos (bass and vocals), Eric Gardner (drums) and Max Hart (keys, guitar, steel guitar and vocals). The tour began in March in the US with stops mostly at casinos and theatres, including the historic Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom in New Hampshire, and heads to Europe before returning for a final US run, wrapping up in October.
For this tour Etheridge has again teamed with long-time FOH mixer, Jim Roese (pictured), who is carrying a pair of Midas Heritage HD96 consoles – house and monitor – provided by Sound Image. Because the tour relies on each venue’s in-house PA system, the control and consistency that is needed for the show makes the console choice critical. Roese comments: “It’s hard to explain how awesome the Midas Heritage HD96-24 is. It’s got a wide spatial image, but is completely cohesive when the instruments sum. It’s the same great Midas Pro Series sound but on steroids. The workflow is super dialled. You can put anything anywhere and the touch screen GUI is very intuitive. Any move that I make while mixing requires only minimal time looking away from the stage or the artist.” Two Lake LM44 processors are also in Roese’s kit which allow him to better cope with the “PA du jour” scenario. “I actually enjoy the challenges of dealing with a new system in each venue. It keeps me on my toes. Having the Lake processors is crucial for consistency day to day,” says Roese.
Roese’s company, RPM Dynamics, has used and sold Midas consoles for over a decade. “We put Midas consoles in the vast majority of our design-build installations and on every tour that we are involved with. In early 2021, AVL Media Group became the distributor for North America which coincided with the re-launch, if you will, and availability of the HD96. Needless to say, I'm a fan.”
Monitor mixer Ozzy Giron, who had previously mixed Etheridge on a Midas Pro X, admits that it took a nudge from Roese for him to change to the HD96. “With a little hesitation I agreed and it was a decision I do not regret whatsoever. From the moment I first touched the desk it was very comfortable.
I give stereo mixes to each of the band members as well as a mix for our Etheridge TV live stream platform and am simply amazed at the sonic quality of the Midas HD96. The first thing Melissa said was how great it sounded which is exactly what you want to hear from the boss.”
17th May 2022
TiMax TrackerD4 first video-mapping for Broadway’s Flying Over Sunset acid trip
USA – Broadway’s bold and original new musical, Flying Over Sunset, at the Broadway Theatre, has been ground-breaking not only for its left-field storyline of a fictional meeting between Aldous Huxley, Clare Boothe Luce and Cary Grant all dropping LSD. Written and directed by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner James Lapine, with a score written by Pulitzer Prize, Emmy and Tony Award winner Tom Kitt and Tony nominee Michael Korie, the scenic visualisations in this unusual staging are supported by TiMax TrackerD4 to track the performers not with audio as is often the case, but with video projection, and for the first time on Broadway.
The consistency and versatility of award-winning TiMax TrackerD4 precision stage tracking is well acknowledged, and its status as de facto tracking system for other spatial audio engines beyond TiMax SoundHub is well earned. Packing flexible OSC protocol communication capabilities to ensure compatibility with most contemporary audio and media platforms, TiMax TrackerD4 was always destined for a wider stage.
In Flying Over Sunset, TiMax TrackerD4 was in place to manage a series of visuals including a moving effect that centred on each actors’ positions, following them as they walked through turbulent water projected on the stage. Production video technician Chris Kurtz maintains: “The accuracy of TiMax TrackerD4 running at 50 frames per second (fps) allowed the effect to be creatively possible. Trying to time that movement would have been extremely difficult and TiMax alleviated the need for more complex line of sight tracking products.”
With all equipment supplied by Sound Associates, the TiMax TrackerD4 setup was simple, using just six TTd4 Sensors positioned as mirrored pairs to form an elongated hexagon shape from upstage to downstage. The successful aim of this configuration was to have at least three sensors covering any playable part of the Beaumont’s very large stage, providing effective redundancy as only two Sensors need to see an actor’s Tag for them to be consistently tracked.
The actors, each wearing a single TTd4 Tag, could be accurately followed by the video mapping which applied the attention-grabbing effect, so they appeared to be engulfed by swirling turbulent water as they progressed through it. Another effect made the sea-level off the beach rise around the actors as they walked down the beach and into the water, a simple but ingenious use of freely-interactive video scenography.
As the first deployment of TiMax Tracker D4 for this debut multimedia control application, Flying Over Sunset was a great success, especially where the need and expectation of speed and accuracy were exponentially levelled up. The challenges faced were not just technical but logistical, the biggest of which, according to Kurtz: “Was trying to figure out coverage without moving lots of scenery.”
Dave Haydon, from the OutBoard UK team who created and develop TiMax, commented on the new markets now available to TiMax TrackerD4: “This latest entry for TiMax TrackerD4 into such an important new show control application represents a new era and market sector for the product in live show and event automation, especially important at a time when demand for precision performer tracking for spatial audio, media and lighting is on the rise. We’re happy that TiMax TrackerD4 is at the forefront of this wave and so accessible to any size and scale of production.”
17th May 2022
Follow-Me tours with Scorpions
USA – Some things in life just get better with age. Wine undoubtedly, also the German rock band Scorpions! In February 2022, the musicians presented Rock Believer: the 19th studio album of their over 50-year band career. After several weeks at the Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas, they started the Rock Believer world tour in early May beginning with a special concert at Madison Square Garden, New York.
Austrian Manfred Nikitser has been accompanying the internationally successful band as lighting designer since 2016. In addition to the lighting design, Manfred also created the complete show design (stage set and video) for both the Sin City Nights Residency in Las Vegas and for the subsequent tour. Insuring the band members are cleanly lit at all times, Manfred selected to use the remote followspot system from Dutch manufacturer Follow-Me: Follow-Me 3D SIX.
The centrepiece of this redesigned show is a pyramid-shaped drum riser in front of a semi-circular stage set made of custom-made metal grilles, which houses numerous spotlights and blinders. The atmosphere created evokes a classic rock & roll look.
Back in 2019, when Manfred used a Follow-Me system for the first time during the final concert of the Austrian cult band "Erste Allgemeine Verunsicherung" in the Wiener Stadthalle, he was quickly convinced of the advantages. “Thanks to Follow-Me, one person can control several lamps, which can reduce personnel costs but more importantly, allows the followspot operator to focus 100 per cent on tracking while the dimmer and colour can be controlled from the desk,” he explains. “In the early stages of the Scorpions production, there were still a few bugs that we had to learn how to deal with. The system is now working reliably. You can calibrate and make adjustments very quickly. I've worked with other remote follow systems before, but Follow-Me is the fastest to set up and most efficient to operate.”
The Scorpions' Follow-Me 3D SIX system consists of an FM rack server (plus one spare), the camera (plus one spare), two custom-made camera-to-fibre converters and four active Follow-Me mouse consoles (plus one spare). The system tracks four performers during the show. Eighty-seven moving lights in the light rig can be used as followers. Twenty-one of these serve exclusively as chasers, while the rest can be used as chasers or show lights. Drum riser and stage set were built in duplicate by schoko pro GmbH in Wiesbaden. One set was sent straight to Las Vegas. The second will be used for the European tour from May. The video content was created together with the Hamburg company Pacific Digital.
On tour Otto Schildknecht and Florian Bauer are taking care of the Follow-Me 3D SIX system together. A simple and functioning system is necessary in order to run the show the way it is with both Otto and Florian also having other responsibilities during the show, namely Otto as live camera director and Florian as cameraman. Alongside Florian, Olaf Pöttcher and Jindřich Jankulár are responsible as lighting technicians for the floor set. All 87 moving lights change from country to country as well as from show to show. This is made possible by the fixture independent nature of Follow-Me and the efficient camera calibration with the intuitive fixture refinement features, allowing for fast and accurate set-up on tour with a new fixture rig in each venue.
Volt Lites of Burbank, California provided lighting equipment for the Vegas residency, including 87 Elation Artiste Monet. The Follow-Me system for both the residency and the tour was supplied by Alleycat Rentals.
The entire production is overseen by production manager Roland Beckerle with Dirk Schindler as stage manager. Olaf Schröter is the touring director of this technologically sophisticated tour.
photos: Manfred Nikitser
17th May 2022
Butch Allen and André Petrus Get Spacey with Chauvet Professional for Bruna Boy at Madison Square Garden
USA – Sometimes lighting design comes down to an elemental level, even when it results in a 54-universe, deeply evocative show with an intergalactic theme that takes place at one of the world’s most famous arenas. Such was the case on 28 April when Butch Allen and André Petrus lit Nigerian superstar Burna Boy’s two-hour “One Night In Space” show at Madison Square Garden.
The massive lighting design for the sold-out concert dazzled, turning the iconic venue into giant lightbox that stirred the imagination with outer space images. Yet for all its multi-faceted flourishes, the design process followed a basic formula.
“Burna Boy’s music provided the road map, and we followed it,” said Allen, noting that the end result was a design based on “visual harmony” between the image, atmosphere and the artist’s performance.
Lighting the way on that road map and contributing to that atmosphere were Madison Square Garden’s house lights and an impressive rig provided by 4Wall Entertainment that featured 68 COLORado PXL Bar 16 fixtures from Chauvet Professional.
The motorised RGBW COLORado units with their 200 degree tilt were critical to creating the show’s space ship vibe. Using the fixtures to outline the outer edge of the “starship stage” and circular “space ship trusses,” Allen and Petrus reinforced the theme of the concert. “They were our nod to close encounters,” Allen said of the battens.
Elaborating on the symbolic theme of the evening (the first ever MSG concert headline by a Nigerian artist), Allen coined terms like “Sharpageddon,” and “Beampocolypse,” before adding: “It was like a 190-foot starship carrying all of us through our one night in space.”
Preprogrammed and time coded by Petrus at his Nashville studio, the fantastical show energised the entire arena without distracting the live audience or detracting from the livestream of the concert.
“We utilised the 4Wall lighting system and augmented it with the very well-equipped MSG in house production,” said Allen. “The MSG lighting system is perfectly placed to provide a camera-ready, rental-damage-free guest experience.
Allen also credits Burna Boy and his production management with creating a smooth show experience. “We are so grateful to Burna Boy and his sister Ronami Ogulu for her leadership and vision,” he said. “Ronami was a guiding force driving the spectacular visual presentation Burna Boy made on stage. This was a magnificent evening; the whole show was just next level.”
Interestingly, this immersive panorama came to fruition without rehearsals on the part of the lighting/production crew. “This was a one-off, and we never had the opportunity to rehearse,” said Allen. “We were never even in the same room. The show was designed over WhatsApp, Zoom and email, yet it came off beautifully.”
The Burna Boy production team, also helped make the show come together under these circumstances, noted Allen who said “they really set the tone for us to follow.”
Following that kind of tone, and the music of an inspired artist, will help gifted designers get to a good place every time, even in the heart of the big city.
16th May 2022
Firefly AV Crafts Smashing Looks for the Allam British Open Squash Tournament with Chauvet Professional
UK – During a game of racket ball in the 1830s, a group of London schoolboys noticed that a punctured ball, which squashed on impact with the wall, offered more variety and more intensity of play than its intact counterpart. Thus, to the delight of millions of fans ever since, the game of Squash was born.
Although its rules have evolved somewhat over the years, the game those lads stumbled upon in that long ago London afternoon, has lost none of its compelling power. Spectators who saw this year’s Allam British Open would readily attest to that as they witnessed some of the world’s greatest squash players fiercely compete for the £135,000 prize.
With squash enthusiasts all around the globe also able to tune in to the event live via SquashTV, as well as via the official Facebook page of the PSA World Tour, organisers were keen to create a riveting production. Toward this end, Firefly AV was brought on board to award the tournament with a sporty visual flair. Helping them in this endeavour were Chauvet Professional Maverick MK2 Spot and MK2 Wash fixtures, along with Rogue R1 Washes and R2X Beams.
The squash facilities at the University of Hull’s Sports Complex provided an ideal setting for the event in which World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy would defend the title he won in 2019. (COVID forced the cancellation of the 2020 competition, which is close to marking its 100th anniversary.)
While the state-of-the-art glass-walled courts offered great spectator viewing both at floor and balcony level, the challenge for Firefly was to create a lighting concept which would heighten the intensity of the event for spectators on location, whilst also providing stunning looks for viewers at home without distracting the players.
The solution was to incorporate an all Chauvet Professional rig that was both hung from suspended trussing and positioned on the floor. From here, Firefly's lighting designer John Richards could program a number of different scenes and visual effects through his Chamsys MQ500M lighting console to provide illumination of the courts, as well as atmospheric illumination of the audience grandstand, which translated brilliantly on camera.
To highlight the action taking place on the court itself, Richards utilised eight Maverick MK2 Spots and five MK2 Washes to create bright and focused illumination. "The powerful and bright combination of the Maverick and Rogue fixtures proved to be ideal for providing general court illumination," commented Richards. "We also positioned a selection of 15 R2X Beams behind the LED video screen at the back of the sports complex, which added depth to the screens for the live audience and TV audience. The beams were punchy enough to stand out against the light of the screens."
To place further visual emphasis upon the courts, Richards and the Firefly team decided to consciously play with the effect of the coloured light reflecting onto the glass walls, which was achieved by positioning a selection of the fixtures directly next to the glass. While this might not have necessarily provided any additional functional lighting, by Richards' own admission, it was an essential addition to give the event an intense visual flair.
"The R2X Beams added a lot of pop to the production," said Richards. “What’s more, thanks to the colour correction feature, the saturated red and blue coloured effects also came across brilliantly for the TV cameras."
Central to the entire lighting concept, however, and arguably the Pièce de résistance of the production, was the choreographed entrance lighting display, which was introduced to bring an element of theatricality when individual players entered the court. To achieve this suspenseful and dramatic effect, Richards and the Firefly team positioned 16 Rogue R1 Wash fixtures in two vertical lines festooning the sides of the entrance. This formation ensured that the saturated wash effects could create a curtain of light, crossing in unison to create an opening and closing effect.
“The most memorable part of the project was the lighting display we created for the player entrance,” concluded Richards. “Thanks to the Rogues, this effect worked to perfection, anchoring the whole tournament and simultaneously transforming the event into a true spectacle. This ultimately reflected the energy and excitement of the squash games. It was truly rewarding to see that our concept looked just as good on television as it did in real life!”
In a game where excitement is often generated by a ball taking unpredictable bounces, it was nice to see the adroitly crafted lighting design work to perfection, just as expected thanks to the work of Firefly AV.
13th May 2022
Technical Arts Group (TAG) gear up for busy summer season with new Elation lighting
USA – New York and Miami-based production and rental company Technical Arts Group (TAG) has added a large number of Elation Professional luminaires to its growing inventory of rental gear, a lighting package that will service events throughout what is gearing up to be a busy summer season.
TAG was formed in January 2021 in the wake of COVID when KM Productions joined forces with AVS Production Group and Quality Audio Visual to create a new brand and client experience. Providing quality production services and equipment rentals for live events from headlining tours and large corporate events to smaller events and private parties, TAG services the entire USA, as well as international destinations.
Seeking to support clients while shoring up its lighting rental fleet as the entertainment industry continues its strong comeback, TAG looked to Elation’s broad product line of innovative lighting, including its industry-leading IP-rated luminaires.
“We needed reliability so we went with Elation,” states TAG’s CRO, Kevin Mignone. “They have great products that hold up well through events and we work with a great sales rep as well in Healy Sales. Scott Jolliffe at Healy has always been easy to work with and is quick to help us with any need or project. They helped us lock in the gear we needed with the timing it needed to happen.”
Additions to the TAG inventory include Elation’s groundbreaking IP65 multi-functional Proteus Hybrid moving head, along with the weatherproof Paladin Panel, a versatile LED flood and effect light that functions as a wash light, blinder, strobe or large-face eye-candy light. Filling out TAG’s new IP65 offerings is the DTW Blinder 350 IP, a variable white LED 2-lite blinder.
Other additions include the Rayzor 760 LED wash/beam light with continuous pan and tilt and Elation’s exclusive SparkLED technology, along with DTW Bar 1000 variable white LED battens. TAG has been stocking Elation gear for the past six years and the new units add to other Elation Proteus, Paladin, and DTW units already in inventory. The new Elation gear will see service on a host of projects this summer including concerts, festivals and outdoor venue installations.
13th May 2022
Pixomondo to deploy Vicon solution for virtual production stages
UK – Vicon, a world leader in motion measurement, has been awarded multiple contracts by virtual production, visualisation and visual effects company Pixomondo to power its award-winning virtual production solutions.
Oscar and Emmy-winning Pixomondo, has studios throughout North America and Europe, with three proprietary LED stages for virtual production located in Toronto and Vancouver, with plans for European stages. The virtual production stages will house a powerful combination of 105 Vicon Viper X and 20 Vero cameras plus Shōgun software, enabling high precision live camera tracking and in-camera visual effects.
Virtual production techniques including camera tracking for in-camera visual effects (ICVFX), allow directors, production designers and VFX supervisors to view their projects live on-set to quickly react and make changes as needed, rather than having to wait until post-production.
Josh Kerekes, director of virtual production at Pixomondo, said: “We were pleased to find a motion capture company that focuses on camera tracking, which is very important for Pixomondo’s virtual production stages. It was impressive to see how Vicon’s software and roadmaps were geared toward virtual production and could be custom-tailored to suit our needs. Vicon is very forward-thinking with software and hardware – particularly the thorough documentation and intuitive calibration process – which has enabled the Pixomondo team to easily configure entire systems within 48hours of unboxing.”
Jeffrey Ovadya, director of sales at Vicon, said: “Virtual production is providing a new realm of possibilities for those in the TV and film production space, with the real-time animation capture that it affords pushing film-making to the next level. It is a tremendous endorsement of our technology that we have been trusted by Pixomondo to support their impressive virtual production capabilities, and we look forward to working with them in bringing the world’s biggest productions to life.”
13th May 2022
Christopher Robin Reflects Mood of Les Misérables with Chauvet Professional
USA – It is all together fitting that the image of the waif Cosette sweeping Thénardiers' Inn serves as the basis (in slightly cropped fashion) for the emblematic image of Les Misérables. Here, within the grimy walls of this old chop house in Montfermeil, the conflicted forces that at the heart of the iconic musical are crystalised: from the pitiless justice of Javert who seeks to punish the hero Valjean, to the blackmailing mendacity of the Thénardiers, who conspire against him.
From his perspective as a lighting designer, Christopher Robin found Thénardiers' Inn to be one of the most powerful scenes of the play. “I am moved by the look of The Inn,” he said. “It’s a dusty and grungy place that captures the poignancy of this story.”
At a recent production of Les Misérables at the Greensburg Salem School outside Pittsburgh, Robin reflected the remorseless pathos of this spot in all its intensity with help from a collection of Chauvet Professional Maverick Storm 1 Wash fixtures supplied by Star Design Event Services.
“I wanted to be able to throw lots of side light as if from moonlit windows and ambers for the candle light lighting in the inn,” he said. “I loved using the Mavericks to play with amber and white together. They seemed to be meant for this scene.”
Robin used the six Maverick Storm 1 Wash fixtures in his rig s as side booms, positioning one unit at the end of each electric right at the legs. “With the atmospherics, the side light reads very well,” he said. “The six Mavericks themselves could wash the stage in side light.
“The majority of my looks were from the Mavericks and conventionals,” continued Robin. “I tried to use as much sidelight as I could on this show. Being able to create wide beam angles and colours with the Mavericks was very helpful to me. Also being able to shift the light ever so slightly helped to create dramatic transitions at key moments of the story. A lot of people die in Les Misérables, so you really have to convey the emotion of carrying the character home with light.”
Working with technical director James Baker and atmospheric technician Bradyn Claycomb, Robin used colour and texture to reflect the passage of time in the play, which takes place over a 20-year period. He also relied on a fibre curtain background to add a dreamy celestial touch to his design, effecting a starry night image during the battle scenes, and returning to it as a reoccurring theme for Javert, particularly when he sang “Stars,” a song about his determination to pursuing Valjean.
Of course, Javert never brings Valjean to justice. In the end Valjean is vindicated and before he dies is reunited with his adopted daughter Cosette, the waif who has grown into a beautiful married woman, but will always be remembered for the image of her from the scene at Thénardiers' Inn.
11th May 2022
Ayrton MagicBlade-FX Lighting Fixtures Give Custom Looks to Performers on NBC’s New “American Song Contest”
USA – Full Flood Inc. has chosen Ayrton MagicBlade-FX lighting fixtures for NBC’s new, eight-episode “American Song Contest,” the domestic answer to the hugely popular and long-running Eurovision Song Contest. Volt Lites supplied the MagicBlades, which are exclusively distributed in North America by ACT Entertainment.
Hosted by Kelly Clarkson and Snoop Dogg, “American Song Contest” will feature 56 live original song performances by artists from all 50 states, five US territories and the nation's capital. It debuted on 21 March and wrapped up with a finale featuring the winning performance on 9 May. Episodes also air on NBC.com, Peacock and Hulu.
Lighting designer Noah Mitz and lighting director Will Gossett, both from Full Flood, are using 144 Ayrton MagicBlade-FX for “American Song Contest,” which shoots on the Universal Studios lot in Los Angeles. “That’s by far the most MagicBlade-FX fixtures we’ve ever used in an array such as this one,” says Gossett. “We’ve used MagicBlades on other shows in linear arrangements to border scenery or align with trusses, but it’s great to have such a visual impact in the vertical plane like we do on this show.”
Each MagicBlade-FX fixture features seven squared 65mm transmitting lenses and a revolutionary FX optical zoom system. The RGBW high-output LEDs can be individually controlled to create airborne virtual scenery or illuminate sets and performers.
“American Song Contest” has “a uniquely-shaped performance environment” by production designer Julio Himede in the style of a forced perspective roadway, which terminates in an upstage wall comprised of various interchangeable lighting elements. “The set has to support 56 performances, each with a bespoke design, over the eight shows,” explains Gossett. “The MagicBlades comprise most of three independently sliding light walls; the three pieces can be configured as one wall element or used in different combinations. There is a grid of 54 MagicBlades in the centre wall and 45 MagicBlades in each of the left and right walls. The fixtures are yoked out 90º to maximise the variety of looks achieved through different pan positions.”
MagicBlade-FX fixtures were a logical choice to meet the needs of “American Song Contest.” “They are very versatile and we have yet to reach a limit to the patterns and effects that the MagicBlade FX can achieve in various position and zoom configurations in combination with clever programming by Patrick Brazil,” says Mitz.
“MagicBlade’s unique fixture face – linear with pixels – almost feels like dots moving freely through the upstage space,” Gossett adds. “And we have full pixel control, which adds an element of mystery, too. Sometimes there’s more negative space on the walls; sometimes a sequence of pixels gives a unique sense of motion for slower moments in songs, they don’t always look like lighting effects. But the MagicBlades also have a lot of horsepower to push light out of the wall when we want that intense presence.”
Lighting directors/programmers Patrick Brazil, Rob Koenig, and Darien Koop masterfully command a network of grandMA2 consoles in addition to Capture software in an extensive pre-vis process for the set and lights. The consoles remain on site for the current run of shows and additional previs. ACT Entertainment also is the exclusive distributor of MA Lighting products in North America.
Gossett says: “It was quite fun when the entire production team participated in the first camera look-see day, and they saw the wall come alive and go through some looks and effects. It’s not every day that people stop and say, ‘Whoa! What are those fixtures?’ That many fixtures creating patterns and almost bending light is not what people are used to seeing.”
Other members of the lighting production team include Tyler Ericson (assistant lighting director), Matt Benson (gaffer), Mark Marroquin (best boy), David Russell, Janos Bode, Ben Lewis and Jeff Geisser (system technicians).
photos: Matt Benson
11th May 2022
Robe Crashes Luke Bryan’s Las Vegas Party
USA – American country music singer and songwriter Luke Bryan wanted to make a spectacularly large impact for his first Las Vegas residency shows at the Resorts World Theatre, so he hired show designer / director Brian Burke and lighting / set designer Tom Sutherland from DX7 Design to work their visual magic on his much-anticipated performances throughout 2022.
As the show design started to evolve, Tom and his team were delighted to discover that the house lighting rig at the brand-new 5,500 capacity Resorts World Theatre venue features large quantities of Robe moving lights, all of which were supplied by Solotech, who completed the install and also co-ordinate the venue’s on-going technical services.
Tom lost no time in getting 108 Robe MegaPointes on the lighting plot for his main effects lights, together with 54 Tarrantulas (Robe’s largest LED wash beam) and 17 BMFL WashBeams which are all running on the theatre’s four RoboSpot systems.
All these fixtures were just what Tom needed to develop the 'full throttle' rock & roll show he envisioned to stun and wow audiences and present Luke Bryan to his fans, in the process taking country music productions to a new level of excitement and drama.
Tom and Brian Burke have collaborated on several other projects including for Westlife’s most recent live shows and enjoy a great creative synergy. Tom first met the artist whilst lighting the 2021 series of American Idol.
The production was initially designed in December for a show opening in February, so it had to be imagineered and green-lighted swiftly and smoothly.
Opting for an epic widescreen look, the upstage LED screen was 100ft wide as Tom knew he had the fire power to blast right through that with MegaPointes and Tarrantulas.
Downstage of that were a three-tier moving set based on a series of diamond shapes which is a cornerstone of the show environment. For time and convenience, the set was designed around lifts and hydraulic products that set builders SGPS / ShowRig already had in their inventory.
Band members are positioned on each layer of the risers which can extend from five to 20 feet. They have customised video fascias and tops, and are internally lit with strobes and LED fixtures, offering an eye-catching architectural element combined with the LED screen.
Utilising the straight trusses in the stage roof as hanging points, the riser geometry is mimicked with LED battens.
There is a complete MegaPointe surround to the screen.
Thirty along the top and bottom edges with seven a side left and right, consuming 74 MegaPointes in total. “I needed very bright multi-purpose fixtures and MegaPointes were perfect,” enthused Tom, who has used them on many other designs.
They are in fact one of his 'go-to' fixtures both for the scope of the features and creativity this offers and for their reliability, and he has regularly specified Robe products for many major shows like the VMAs, EMAs American Idol, the People’s Choice Awards, and other high profile music TV productions.
The other 34 MegaPointes are carefully placed on the over stage trusses ensconced in between the chevron-shaped LED bars.
The Tarrantulas are deployed on these same trusses, sometimes in between the MegaPointes and sometimes in autonomous positions.
Six of the BMFL WashBeams are rigged on the most upstage truss with another 11 on the front truss, and these are used for all the keylighting.
Luke wanted a big party vibe to the show so Tom made sure to reveal multiple optical tricks as the show narrative unfolded, including a 192 fixture parcan ‘rock wall’, which turned a few heads!
And that was by no means the only ‘special’ for this energetic and pacey show.
As the band struck up the opening chords of “Country Girl” for the first encore, Bryan descended from the roof strutting up and down a massive walkway with pyro and lighting blazing. The crowds go mad for this monumental moment that gets him right in front of fans on the first and second floor balconies, and for which he’s been honorarily designated the title ‘Luke Skywalker’ by both social and mainstream media!
“The first night that was a truly goose-bump moment,” commented Tom, who is known for his style, flair and for hitting the spot with atmospheric designs that have certainly resonated with this show.
On Tom’s FOH creative team were Hunter Selby who also assisted with the lighting design, grandMA programmer Joe Holdman, plus video director Scott Chmielewski.
Custom video content was created by Gravity. Tom worked closely alongside the video team ensuring all the lighting and video cues were matched or contrasted in terms of light, shade, dark and using the negative spaces for a slick, seamlessly integrated show which is run to timecode.
The day-to-day show lighting operation / direction throughout the residency stints is being overseen by Justin Kitchenman, Luke Bryan’s long-term LD.
The first run, production managed by Gary Chrosniak and Bob Sandon, has just completed to great reviews and acclaim, the next is in June and the third is scheduled for September.
photos: DX7 Design / AEG
10th May 2022
Optocore / BroaMan network control for World Figure Skating Championships
France – When the 2022 World Figure Skating Championships were held recently at Montpellier’s South of France Arena, technical solution provider (and Optocore partner) GB4D, was called on to provide an elaborate communications network for all the technical elements. This included Optocore and BroaMan routing, designed in a star topology.
The event itself was organised by the French Federation of Ice Sports, and the integrators were contracted by Charles Gueydan, their technical production manager.
Under the direction of proprietor Gilles Bouvard, GB4D has a rich pedigree in that sector, having previously worked on the European Championships in Lyon in 2006, and later the 2012 World Championships in Nice. On top of that, for nearly two decades they have been involved with the televised Les Étoiles de la Glace, the French Federation’s skating gala.
This year GB4D was entrusted with providing the entire audiovisual network, as well as intercom, sound system, sports and production lighting (including bridges), stage structure and video for the four-sided LED screens. They worked alongside Patrice Burle from Concept-Group for the structure and lighting accessories, while lighting creation was the responsibility of DoP, Tony Weber and sound design by Titou Victor and François Iund.
GB4D turned to a combination of Optocore / BroaMan interfaces, along with DiGiCo digital mixers and L-Acoustics Kara /K2 PA as they have for many large-scale events previously.
The biggest challenges they faced were the restricted assembly time (seven semi-trailers of equipment needed to be installed and ready to operate in 12 hours), and the trim height, with more than 80 motors at 22m height, to provide full visual clearance.
Gilles Bouvard emphasised that there had been no room for improvisation, since once the assembly was completed, and all compliances met, access to the ice was forbidden.
The network was formatted and designed by François Iund. The entire video element was distributed by BroaMan interfaces, including Mux22 MADI and Mux22 IC444, along with Repeat48 and Route66 devices. This provided distribution of the signals from the OB broadcast, as well as all the timing element and the insert capture camera, with video management under the direction of Emilien Vaast.
The Optocore network, which allowed for 320 inputs and 384 outputs, was in redundant five-point star design. Optocore M12 and DD4MR-FX interfaces provided all MADI connectivity, with X6R-FX and TP 16-channel converters at the heart of the system. For the BroaMan element the network was configured as a non-redundant star.
The IP network was managed by redundant Gigacore Luminex PoE interfaces for, among other things, lighting and intercoms.
Sound sources included music for the skaters broadcast by two MAC Mini players equipped with Q Lab software, as well as ads and other presentation background music or jingles processed by a Broady Solutions MT128 multitrack machine. This came out in MADI 128 I/O via Optocore M12s, allowing different streams to be routed on several simultaneous outputs. Other sources included video soundtracks, managed from the two video control rooms. Finally there was the ‘official speaker’ mics for the ISU, plus UHF microphones for interviews and animations.
For mixing and managing audio streams, GB4D installed a DiGiCo SD12 for the main mix (including broadcast) and SD11 for the ‘player’ control room. Flow management in the Optocore network for broadcast was managed from FOH via the SD12.
The entire network was managed from the FOH control room. The flow distribution from the star system included diffusion systems hung in the walkways with three distribution points, players management, AMP Visual OB broadcast van and the press centre. All these locations received audio, video and IP.
The international signal was provided in Mondovision since it is a world championship, while France Television was the broadcaster for the domestic audience.
As for the event itself, in such a reverberant space as an ice rink, the most difficult challenge had been to guarantee suitable SPL and a perfect listening performance, states Gilles Bouvard.
“The judges positioned at the edge of the track and skaters who use the entire 60m x 30m ice, had to share the same listening experience. If a skater were to complain about the sound, it would have become a very big problem, so everything had to be perfect.
“My audio technical team carried out a top-notch acoustic study so that the sound was uniform from the centre of the rink to the top of the stands. Titou Victor and François Iund implemented this plan to perfection.”
Key to the technical success had been the perfect functionality of data distribution, he confirmed. “Optocore and BroaMan provided the essential tools to construct a star network; the Route66 and Optocore AutoRouter operated between the five different points, all of which received audio, video, data, intercom networks,and 22 DMX lighting universes.”
He added that the network also had to be sufficiently robust to provide feeds to other partners such as Swiss Timing for the competitive element, and international TV broadcasts.
“For these partners we had to be able to share data flows and we could do this with ease thanks to the ‘hot’ routing possibilities which Optocore MADI grids or BroaMan Route66 video routers allowed. This gave everyone complete peace of mind.”
10th May 2022
Ayrton Karif shines through for Genesis The Last Domino? tour
UK & USA – English rock band Genesis’ The Last Domino? tour overcame postponed, cancelled and rescheduled dates to resume again last September. The tour marks the first reunion of the band since 2007 and has in its lighting inventory 64 Ayrton Karif LT ultra compact 300W LED beam-spot fixtures.
The lighting and production design was co-created by Patrick Woodroffe (also show director) and Roland Greil of Woodroffe Bassett Design, and Jeremy Lloyd from Wonderworks who is responsible for the technical integration. Lighting programmer was Marc Brunkhardt.
Woodroffe and Greil had a number factors to consider for what potentially could be Genesis’s last tour. “The band has a rich history of pushing the limits when it comes to lighting and show design, so we needed to come up with something that maintains their reputation for being at the forefront of show design.”
The team decided to take a theatrical approach, giving every song its own visual identity with a unique look and feel and simultaneously paying tribute to the band’s unique looks and innovations over the years. “We wanted a stage that was very versatile where we could change the whole look, feel and the visual identity for each song, be very intimate or very big, or modern or old school, and then with those adaptable tools we could tell the visual story of the show and create the perfect picture frame for each song and their performance on stage,” says Greil.
Karif LT’s role in this was to help build a versatile, dynamic backdrop in conjunction with an array of 12 rotating LED panels of varying heights. “The panels had high resolution LED screens on the front which could be quite overwhelming,” explains Greil. “We wanted to be able to transform the stage away from this screen to other worlds as well, so we set the panels on tracking systems so they could split apart and turn, and rigged the Karif LT fixtures in vertical columns on the reverse of each LED panel.
“The fixture is so compact that, for the majority of the show, we were able to keep the light sources themselves concealed but utilise the output in the most interesting ways. We could tilt the panels and shoot beams through the gaps, outline the background, build different looks and keep the Karifs hidden yet visible through the transparent video screen. Then for the last song of the main set, Invisible Touch, we turned the back wall all to lights with the Karifs fully revealed and set them spinning; it’s a mind blowing effect. Part of the theatricality of the show is to be able to keep as much in your pocket for as long as you can. Karif certainly gave us a whole raft of extra options for this.”
“We also discovered Karif LT had a continuous pan/rotation which I wasn’t aware of as it is not something I would normally use, but we rigged them at a 90 degree angle and discovered a whole new level of functionality. It gave us that great big array of spinning lights on the back walls for Domino which was perfect for this specific show and a great addition to the looks.
“It just goes to show you can’t always plan everything, sometimes you’ve got to be lucky as well. With the right tools, you can shake the tree and something new will fall out of it!”
The Karif LT was introduced to Greil and Woodroffe by Ayrton’s exclusive UK distributor, Ambersphere Solutions, and supplied by the tour’s lighting supplier, Neg Earth.
Originally intended as a 47-date tour commencing in the Autumn of 2020, the WBD team created The Last Domino? show only to mothball it for nearly a year due to the constraints of the pandemic. The tour resumed in September 2021 in the UK – the only country in Europe fully open at that time – before travelling to the US mid-West and East Coast. The four-times rescheduled London dates finally took place on 24-26 March at The O2.
photos: Manfred H. Vogel
10th May 2022
Steve Lieberman Adds Edge to Beyond Wonderland’s Looking Glass Stage with Chauvet Professional
USA – Magical things often happen at the 11th hour: that sometimes harrowing, mythical time when an unexpected turn of events can demand a sudden change of plans. It is at such moments, when (hopefully) inspiration and resolve kick in, resulting in an outcome that shines all the more brightly because of the circumstances surrounding its creation. Just ask Steve Lieberman.
The renowned LD was putting the finishing touches on his design for The Looking Glass stage at Insomniac Productions’ Beyond Wonderland, when things suddenly changed just a few weeks before the festival opened. Instead of being outdoors, as originally planned, the stage was moved inside to the Nos Event Center’s Orange Pavilion.
“Essentially, it was a full redesign at the 11th hour,” said Lieberman. “Our office really stepped it up in terms of completing the revisions and getting them over to Insomniac and 4Wall to execute. All parties involved performed at the highest levels. The rig looked fantastic when I walked in.”
The thousands of fans who came to The Looking Glass stage to see progressive techno and house artists like Joris Voorn, Len Faki and Nox Vahn would readily agree with that assessment. Lieberman and his team turned the large clear span pavilion into a raw, brooding and palpably intense underground club evocative of a hot converted warehouse in Brooklyn or Detroit.
“Music at The Looking Glass is a bit darker and edgier, and this was reflected in our design,” said Lieberman. “It’s not about specific ‘looks’ here as much as it’s about a ‘style’ of operation. When you’re here you’re immersed in that style. We had no video, and no guest technical staff, in keeping with the underground feel. Culturally, this genre of music lends itself to an edgy style, with sharp edges, precise angles, and monolithic features.”
Helping Lieberman create this distinct mood was a collection of 46 Chauvet Professional Maverick MK3 Wash fixtures supplied by 4Wall Entertainment. Arranged in an A/B pattern throughout the entire site and over the stage, the RGBW fixtures trigged deeply evocative moods.
“The Mavericks were a great addition to the design,” said Lieberman. “The pixel effects on the Macro channel added that extra bit to make them stand out. Their output really kept up with the rest of the system.”
In keeping with the vibe of the room, Lieberman says the output of the Maverick fixtures was “actually throttled back quite a bit.” This better reflected the starkly uncompromising mood he was after. However, when he wanted to create specials at strategic moments, the high output fixtures gave him “plenty of headroom for a big push.”
Lieberman credits the production team with creating this immersive atmosphere. “Insomniac Productions is the backbone of what we do,” he said, adding: “we’re always ready to support each other to execute stages at the highest level.”
And that’s true anytime … even 11th hour!
9th May 2022
The case of “I will Follow You will you…Follow-Me” with Woodroffe Bassett Design and Genesis
USA & Europe – From NYC through North America and Europe to London, Follow-Me 3D systems recently toured internationally with Woodroffe Bassett Design and Roland Greil for The Last Domino Genesis tour. An inspirational, emotional journey with 47 shows around the world, an opportunity for fans to enjoy and celebrate Genesis, one of the worlds best-selling music artists, live for the first time in 13 years.
Roland Greil is a lighting designer with Woodroffe Bassett Design. Roland co-designed the lighting together with Patrick Woodroffe (show director The Last Domino tour) who has also been the LD for Genesis and Phil Collins’ solo tours in the past. For Roland this was an important and challenging honour, describing himself as “the new kid on the block” with his first collaboration as Co-LD for Genesis with their Last Domino tour. A “new kid” that has a wealth of experience from TV Productions, Awards Shows to lighting bands such as Rammstein.
Reflecting on Patrick's experience with Genesis, the WBD team felt it important to use a remote followspot system as this would be far more versatile than classic followspots. Due to WBD’s previous positive experience with Follow-Me 3D Systems on tours such as Rammstein, it was an easy choice to make: “The system gives the possibility to integrate an unlimited number of manufacturer independent light fixtures and has been proven to be very reliable.”
Confirming the choice to use the latest innovation in remote followspot and performer tracking control with the Follow-Me 3D SIX System, Roland states: “A Genesis show is challenging by its own in a very positive way. This specific band has pushed the boundaries within our industry since the 70s and therefore you have to keep up with this momentum and create a show which is up to those expectations and standards. Just think about their involvement in Vari*lite for example. Even though challenging for Patrick and myself it has been very rewarding to collaborate on this show and create something, that the whole team is proud of.”
The tour's Follow-Me technician, Bianca Mastroianni concurs that: “A Follow-Me system is a very powerful addition to a lighting rig.” The show was quite complex with over 160 lighting fixtures patched in the Follow-Me 3D SIX system. Some of these fixtures were on moving trusses with PSN integration, perfectly suited for control with Follow-Me 3D SIX system which enables PSN in and out.
Bianca’s experience touring with Follow-Me confirms that Follow-Me has achieved and stands up to and beyond the requirements and expectations of a remote followspot system for touring: “From a set-up point of view, the amount of labour, time and equipment that is saved by not touring conventional followspots is enormous. The Follow-Me rack servers are built into Neg Earth’s custom touring Follow-Me rack which rolls into place in the venue and results in the operator position set-up taking only 15 minutes. Neg Earth’s rack and system was designed and built by Joao Magalhaes and Ciarán Markey. We usually set up the operator position in either a backstage dressing room or venue wing. This flexibility is essential for an arena touring scenario when the size and backstage layout of the venues can vary dramatically.”
For this tour, the cameras (one live and one redundancy) hang on an easily accessible truss just off the front of the stage. The low-profile of the cameras mean that they are unobtrusive and don’t interfere with any of the other flown elements of the show. The camera calibration is a fast process, for this design, using five calibration points on the April 2022 stage. On arriving at a venue Bianca would check the camera calibration and continue with the fixture refinement feature taking about 90 minutes to have 160 fixtures perfectly calibrated and ready to go. Bianca notes that in preproduction the learning curve of Follow-Me was big, however the training and support “offered by the team at Follow-Me BV was fantastic,” enabling her to confidently and efficiently use Follow-Me on tour with a changing team of four operators: “the operators love operating Follow-Me. It’s been compared to a video game on numerous occasions. It is very easy to instruct operators who have not used a similar followspot system previously or who have very little technical knowledge. The briefing process usually takes less than 15 minutes.” Enthusing about her role at the Follow-Me Tour technician Bianca confirmed that: “The ability to convert any fixture in a lighting rig into a followspot […allows Roland to] create some truly impressive visuals. From a set-up point of view, the amount of labour, time and equipment that is saved by not touring conventional followspots is enormous.”
When asked if his expectations of using Follow-Me on The Last Domino tour were met, Roland simply stated: “Absolutely!”
photos: Manfred H. Vogel
9th May 2022
Craig David: Welcome to the Party
UK – Every artist wants their audience to enjoy the show, many want the event to be something of a party. Some, like the current outing by Craig David, achieve that sense of fun so emphatically that everyone is talking about it.
“Like so many tours currently, this one began with preliminary designs in 2019 and was scheduled to tour April 2020,” explains Daniel Richardson, production designer from the design team at Sinclair Wilkinson. “During the interruption, Craig completed his new album, ‘22’ and his personal vision for the tour changed.”
Craig David was very direct, addressing the whole production crew before the first show and stepping them through the show as he saw it. “It proved a useful insight and was very motivational,” reported video director Jamie Cowlin afterwards.
Richardson explains that vision in clear terms. “This is a show of three parts; a scenic narrative propels the storyline. Simplistically, part one is morning with Craig on a journey through distant landscapes and cities under a fading moon; he’s stretching metaphorically, preparing for what lies ahead. Part two is him in his well-known TS5 DJ role he developed when living in Miami. The band depart the stage and their positions are concealed by LED screens lowered in by Kinesis hoists. The characterisation here is very much beach-party time in Miami with fun and sunshine in the sand. Part three is coming into the evening: the band return, the sun is setting and we finish once again under the moon. This look bookends the show, it’s an image redolent of the ‘22’ album cover. So it's Craig travelling through these different scenes. This is so much more than a screen and light show.”
Richardson’s design is a vivid evocation, a powerful combination of scenic elements sensitively lit, palm trees and a moon among them, and a beautifully crafted video element, a combination of live camera and content from Really Creative.
“A big part of Daniel’s vision is the type of camera images he asks for, and the way they are used for inclusion with the content,” says Cowlin, hinting at Richardson’s skill in marrying lights, camera and the created footage. “That’s a really interesting process and very visual in how it enhances the overall party dynamic.”
The stage is dominated by a large high-definition LED rear screen, with matching LED panels across the front of the band risers, plus those fly-in band concealing screens, all provided by Video Design who also supply the camera package. “The video team are really great,” said Richardson, then added: “Jamie has been amazing and Ben is an absolute superstar.” Ben Gittos was the Disguise D3 server programmer provided by Video Design for what was a highly compressed production rehearsal.
“He was very fast and very good,” complimented Richardson. ”He really put in the time over two long nights programming where we worked from 10pm to 6am. He had great attention to detail; I couldn’t have asked for anyone better. It was always clear that Craig’s image on the screens was something more important to the show than just your usual close-ups. He needed to be central to the narrative underpinning as well to make that connection with his audience.”
“Those scenic elements work great for the cameras,” added Cowlin. “Framing with palm trunks and sand dunes is so different from the usual shot of singers with musicians and equipment behind them. Daniel had Ben vignette the screen boundaries with soft edged palm fronds. That one simple idea took away the rigid confines of a portrait presentation at a stroke.”
That this concept worked so well is neatly illustrated by an example from the show finale. “Jamie gets me great close-up shots of Craig when he’s singing ‘Seven Days’. As the song develops through the chorus, Craig sings ‘Monday’ and we have him on the main screen. Then the cameras turn to the audience as they respond with ‘Tuesday’ in sing-along fashion. That call and response through the days of the week lifts an already elated crowd to greater heights.”
As was said, there’s something inherently joyous about the Craig David 22 tour.
photo: Daniel Richardson
6th May 2022
Astera Fixtures Help Energise Matrix Resurrections Premiere in Toronto
Canada – Event technical specialist Spotlight Audio Visual Industries (SAVI) supplied full event production for the much-anticipated Toronto premiere of The Matrix Resurrections, staged at the Scotiabank Theatre Cineplex, and including over 300 Astera wireless LED lighting fixtures.
The spectacular visual design for this fourth Matrix sci-fi action movie launch was created by SAVI’s Avi Yurman and involved projection mapping onto the front of the building with lighting to support this and illuminate the whole cineplex environment, inside and out. The venue was transformed into a vibrant and distinctive Matrix green colour.
Every lighting fixture, apart from some moving lights assisting the façade lighting, was Astera explained Avi, who utilised Astera AX1 PixelTubes, AX3 LightDrops, AX5 TriplePARs, the new AX9 SuperPARs, AX10 SpotMax’s, both versions of the new AX2 pixel Bar – the metre long and half metre – plus Astera NYX Bulbs and lots of transmitters, all owned by the company.
All the Astera units were powered and run wirelessly from a grandMA2 console.
SAVI is a huge supporter of Astera after first investing in the brand when the AX1 was launched five years ago. “They have been a great success,” stated Avi, elucidating that in the last two years, the company has replaced almost every static lighting fixture in its inventory with an Astera product, all supplied via Astera’s Toronto-based Canadian distributor, Lumenayre.
“The lights are great quality and for an event like this, which needed to be rigged, run and then de-rigged in optimal time, multiple wireless fixtures was the only option,” he confirmed, delighted with the results.
“The original idea was to paint the walls and surfaces of the building in light and complement the projections, so the total opposite of a big beam show, and that’s exactly what we did!”
The NYX Bulbs were used above the ‘Black carpet’ VIP area which saw serious star power over the evening including Keanu Reeves. The NYX Bulbs replaced traditional light bulbs with Matrix mind-bending electric green equivalents which really popped!
Sixty AX2 PixelBars were attached to the interior glass and walls of the building’s atrium, and along the escalator path, with more AX2-100s on the opposite side which was also being projection mapped. Avi was impressed with the brightness and throw of these even with some units 50 metres away from their target surfaces.
The little Astera AX3s were clamped via their magnetic bases to the staircases between the corridor of AX1s and AX2s.
The new AX9 PowerPARs, one of three new products launched last year by Astera, were positioned around the perimeter of the interior walls, where they provided excellent up-lighting for the exit areas.
The venue’s expansive exterior glass wall was illuminated with Astera AX10s and more AX9s, up-lighting the structural elements.
Avi, an LD for 15 years, comments on how the light output of LED fixtures had dramatically improved in recent years as the technology has advanced, becoming a game-changer, especially for the smaller fixtures.
“The light quality and colour saturation etc., are fantastic,” he says observing that the continuity between fixtures is excellent, a feature that’s critical with substantial quantities in one space or washing a large area or a set piece.
Other advantages of using Astera products for this style of project are the time saving. SAVI supplies a lot of one-off shows, with the Matrix Resurrections premiere a good example, where a huge amount of real estate had to be illuminated in a very short time-frame.
“We can charge the units up in the warehouse, pre-address them, take them to site, deploy and fire them up and have them running on the console extremely fast! It’s a highly efficient workflow, and our whole process has been able to benefit from having these fixtures onboard,” he concludes with a big smile.
photos: Event Imaging