Production News Headlines
Chauvet Professional and Squeek Lights Help Richard Fong Create Distinct Looks for Joywave and iDKhow
Elation Artiste Mondrian lights Mexican singers Lucero and Mijares at Mexico City’s Auditorio Nacional
LD Giovanni Pinna lights up the Campari Boat-in Cinema event at the Venice Film Festival with 100 Claypaky Sharpy Plus Aqua units
HelixNet and FreeSpeak II dramatically streamline workflow and connectivity for 2022 National Geographic’s annual Explorer’s Conference
Robe SuperSpikies have Heads in the Game
USA – The pacey, quick-witted, all-action entertainment of Disney+’s hugely popular High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (HSMTMTS) returned to TV screens for a much-anticipated third season, with producers Skot Bright and Zack Lowenstein asking Hisham Abed to join the production team as director of photography (DoP).
Shot over four months in the spring, 12 Robe SuperSpikie moving lights were specified by Hisham and the producers to help provide flexible and efficient solutions for lighting ‘permanent’ sets in the Burbank, California, studio where the season was recorded in addition to assorted locations in and around Los Angeles.
The Season 3 narrative is set at Camp Shallow Lake, a sleep-away camp in California, as theatre kids the Wildcats and fellow campers are primed for an unforgettable summer ripe with romance, curfewless nights and a taste of the great outdoors. With a high-stakes production of Frozen on the horizon and a drama-filled 'docu-series' of the production, the Wildcats show who is “best in snow” without leaving anyone out in the cold!
Skot and Zack have worked together on several previous projects. Skot’s history in music and rock & roll touring production and Zack’s background in television make a great synergy and they are known as a class industry double act!
Skot underlined the importance of moving lights to a production like this as “essential” to producing the requisite looks and atmospherics needed for the comedy-fantasy-musical genre with “multiple dynamics and some magical touches needed to capture the mood and flow”.
Hisham has cut some of his DoP teeth in reality television where clever lighting reinforces the authenticity of the genre without making it staged or contrived. It was exactly that aesthetic they wanted for the ‘mockumentary’ style of Season 3.
When it came to choosing actual fixtures: “We needed something small, lightweight, powerful and versatile that fit our budget,” explained Skot, although the final pick was left to Hisham who added: “The lights needed to be quick and easy to set up and program to help us keep pace with the hectic rehearsal and shoot schedule.”
Following a demo of the SuperSpikie by Robe North America’s western regional sales manager Adam Camp, Hisham decided on renting 12 units for the duration of the shooting period which covered the eight Season 3 episodes.
The fixtures were used for various studio sets, mainly the Theatre / Barn and the Void and were part of approximately 70 or 80 fixtures in total utilised for each set.
The ‘mockumentary’ style was characterised by the edginess of multiple Steadicam and hand-held cameras – restless, exciting, and dramatic – and informed by Hisham’s lighting background, these immaculately framed but slightly raw images have become a signature of this season.
The challenge for Hisham was dealing with creating the diversity of looks needed whilst simultaneously prepping and rigging the next shots. Being a musical production as well as a TV show, actors and singers were constantly rehearsing, recording tracks and filming.
“Luckily all of us on this production were adrenaline junkies who thrive when constantly working and finding answers to new daily and hourly challenges,” elucidated Hisham referring to the frenetic pace!
“These SuperSpikies were another weapon in the arsenal,” stated Hisham, impressed after the demo, “and were perfect for all our needs.”
The Theatre was the main set on which the SuperSpikies were used, which was right at the heart of the musical summer camp being attended by the cast at Shallow Lake.
The action also included a myriad of backstage shots and scenes in addition to the on stage performances which averaged two full production musical numbers per episode, so the lights were very often in shot for the final cut and had to look good for their own on screen parts.
“They were an invaluable visual resource that helped us keep the action going, perfect for boosting lighting quickly in a specific or a general area and hugely better and more practical than having someone climb up and down a ladder,” stated Hisham.
He loves the shape, intensity and patterns thrown by the SuperSpikie’s multi-coloured flower effects, while the good tungsten emulation enabled them to also be effective keys. “A fixture able to switch between classic light characteristics and more contemporary theatrical effects is “a massive asset” concluded Hisham.
For one musical number needing a certain gobo effect they utilized a Robe MegaPointe which is a favourite of Hisham’s who has used Robe in his work for several years. He thinks the manufacturer pushes the boundaries with innovation and in producing useful and highly practical fixtures.
Working closely with Hisham on lighting this “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” season were gaffer Damon Dulas and programmer Wally Sylvia, who have worked together for over ten years
The main technical challenges involved organising the time efficiently to program the musical numbers, each of which was a mini-production in its own right, and the constant co-ordination required between the choreographers and the various directors which rotated throughout the season.
In spite of the exacting nature of this production, Skot, Zack and Hisham all reckon it was one of the most fun and imaginative environments in which they have worked, collaborating with many nice and highly talented people all passionate about their craft and disciplines, creating a series reflecting Disney+’s well-known and exceptionally high production values.
photos: Hisham Abed and Anne Marie Fox
4th October 2022
Audient Catches Up with Rayland Baxter, Producer/Engineer
USA – “I’ve learned a ton over the years and my new studio is an opportunity to incorporate all of it,” says producer, mixer and Grammy-nominated engineer, Tim O’Sullivan. Previously manager and chief engineer of Barefoot Recording, he now has his own space in Los Angeles, which is packed full of hand-picked audio gear including the Nero monitor controller and ASP800 eight channel mic pre from Audient.
Based in Frogtown, an artistic neighbourhood in east LA, the studio was originally Money Mark from the Beastie Boys’ creative space. “I’ve worked with Mark a ton and he’s a friend. When he moved out, I jumped on it,” says Tim. The decisions he makes as he refines his space are the culmination of everything he’s learnt from all the studios he’s built, run and worked out of over the years. “I want to have the utility and flexibility of a well-designed commercial studio, with the vibe, ease of use and speed of a private producers’ writing studio,” he explains.
It boasts a comfortable live room with tall ceilings, a vocal booth/iso and an amp iso. Tim has worked with Rayland Baxter, Grace Potter, The Head and The Heart, Chicano Batman, Mia Doi Todd and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs in his time, so has a firm handle on what works in a studio. “I also have a great collection of guitars, keyboards, drums, amps, mics and guitar pedals. I’ve spent a lot of time making sure I have all the tools I need to make records with. I especially love tracking live with groups of musicians playing together and it was important to me to be able to do that here with no compromises.”
His current set-up is based around a 32-channel Soundcraft Ghost, Audient Nero monitor controller, Lynx Aurora N, Aviom Cue System and Audient ASP800 mic pres (all with Little Lab’s Redcloud Attenuators) and PMC result6’s. “Nero is acting as my centre section and monitor controller. It’s the brain of the studio,” he says. “It sounds great, has enough inputs and outputs and the four built-in headphone amps are great.”
He got his ASP800 a little over a year ago now, and was originally excited about having “eight clean, high headroom mic pres in one rack space”. That was before he tried out the HMX and IRON Retro Channels, designed to add analogue tone to recordings. “I really fell in love with the saturation controls. I used the ASP800 on some recent sessions with Chicano Batman and we were all blown away by how much character they have.”
Tim keeps himself busy by constantly switching hats between producing, mixing and engineering, even wearing a ‘live engineer’ hat, as he toured with Chicano Batman as production manager for a year prior to opening this studio. “Being involved in all the different stages of the music making process keeps me inspired, engaged and creative and makes the music better.”
4th October 2022
Martin Audio ends a perfect summer for WPL at All Points East
UK – There can be few production companies more familiar with the challenges of east London’s Victoria Park site than sound specialists Capital Sound (part of the Solotech UK Group).
Often working alongside Loud Sound they have supported many of the music events and festivals at this location for more than a decade. It was here in the summer of 2011, first for Deadmau5 at the LED Festival, followed by other back-to-back events including Field Day, that they proved that even within a densely populated residential area, they could achieve enviable levels within the performance area without disturbing the neighbours.
It was at these events that Capital debuted, and established the unique controllability of Martin Audio’s award-winning MLA technology, and a further propagation test at Hatfield House duly led to its adoption at another challenging site, Hyde Park, for BST, which persists to this day.
Yet proof of concept is continuously evaluated, and this year further modelling was undertaken against another premier brand, before MLA rightly took its familiar place on the East stage in Victoria Park, at AEG Presents’ now consolidated All Points East.
Solotech senior project manager Martin Connolly confirmed that, under evaluation, the same measurements had been achieved as previously. “It’s good to have scientific data, but then we have proved the point over and over again with MLA.”
This year the coverage pattern was tweaked in accordance with the slight reorientation of the stage away from the sensitive flank. Meanwhile, on the West stage was Martin Audio’s newer Wavefront Precision technology, embodied in the mighty WPL.
The main hangs on East stage comprised 13 MLA and a single MLD (downfill) box on each side per side, with side hangs of nine MLA stage right, and eight on stage left. Frontfills comprised eight Martin Audio XD12, with a castellated cardioid broadside array of 20 MLX subs along the front.
Further back, five delay points were set, populated by a total of 46 MLA Compact, with six MLX subwoofers in a cardioid design on the last two positions. Finally, stage sidefills comprised four SXHF218 subwoofers, and a pair each of Martin Audio TORUS T1215 and T1230 constant curvature boxes.
It was left to the Solotech crew, comprising system tech Dan Fathers and FOH tech Xavier d’Arifat to ensure Gorillaz, Chemical Brothers, Tame Impala, The National, Nick Cave and Disclosure, along with their respective technical crews were given the best experience possible.
Meanwhile, headlining West Stage which was situated further back on the site and surrounded by trees, Idles enjoyed a very different audio experience, as Martin Connolly explained. “After the huge success of BST at Hyde Park where it was featured for the first time, we took the decision to run WPL [as the main PA] on the West Stage, along with WPC and the new SXHF218 subs in a castellated cardioid array.”
Here, levels of up to 104dBa were possible, including 103dBa for Fleet Foxes and 102dBa for Caribou. “The implementation of WPL was a huge success,” summarised Connolly. “It sounded great, and we could achieve this SPL, without breaching off site levels.”
Main hangs comprised 12 WPL per side, while side hangs consisted of ten WPC (stage right) and 14 stage left, further augmented by eight WPS. The broadside array of subs comprised 11 SXHF218, while the two delay masts each supported 12 WPC.
Monitors on West stage comprised 12 Martin Audio LE1500, four SXHF218 subs and a pair each of TORUS T1215 and T1230. Joseph Pearce was Solotech’s system technician and Jackson Akers technician at FOH.
As at BST, the company was working alongside experienced production manager Mark Ward (of Proper Productions). Confirming the success of the event, Ward, said: “The combination of Solotech’s expertise and Martin Audio’s advanced control technology has proven time and again that challenging sites such as Victoria Park and Hyde Park, once considered almost unworkable, are entirely viable when it comes to staging proper events.”
4th October 2022
Ayrton Perseo and Domino Profiles light up the Jova Beach Party 2022
Italy – There was great success for the summer tour of Jova Beach Party 2022, which saw the Italian songwriter Lorenzo Cherubini, aka Jovanotti, performing from June until September along beautiful Italian beaches, in front of stadium-size audiences totalling 550,000 spectators. This was a project that wanted to break the mould, leaving behind the usual live circuits to collaborate with an ambitious ecological initiative that aims to clean up 20m sqm of beaches, lakes, rivers and seabeds.
"The beach is the most significant frontier line that exists and bringing the party there is, for me, the most beautiful and difficult undertaking, and the most exciting," says the singer.
This is an ecological philosophy shared also by Ayrton, whose products were chosen for the main lighting design of the tour which featured two large sailing ships as its central motif. Lighting designer, Paul Normandale, with the collaboration of lighting director, Dave Morris, opted for 68 Ayrton Perseo Profiles and 14 Domino Profiles rigged on the main stage and the floor for audience and effects lighting, and on front of house spot towers for movement and effects, plus a stage wash in case of spot failure.
"We chose Ayrton units because of their IP65 protection rating, but above all because of their reliability and light output," said Dave Morris.
"The Perseo Profiles, used for most of the time with open zoom, were able to offer high levels of illumination of the audience, fulfilling the artist’s desire to be able to see the crowd at any time during the concert. We used them mainly with dimmer and movement effects, and during each song they managed to create the right atmosphere, especially due to their bright colours.
"For the last stage of the concert at Bresso Airport we added a further 48 Domino Profile fixtures to the rig to cope with the increased number of spectators and the need for more lighting on the "Kontiki" B stage. The extra output of the Domino units gave us full coverage of the crowd, while still offering bright saturated colours.
Paul Normandale adds: “I have used Ayrton many times this summer across Europe and the UK because of their IP rated nature, and indeed their brightness, as well as their LED sustainable light source. For the Jova Beach Party we had 21 three-and-a-half hour shows without a set list, no roof, on a beach, with between 40,000 and 100,000 people. The Ayrton kit held up really well!”
Dave Morris agrees: "The Ayrton units really impressed us for their reliability throughout the concerts, withstanding the harsh conditions of the Italian beaches, from the 40 degrees of heat to strong storms and rain in different locations. In all this, the Perseo and Domino units proved to be up to the task, resisting everything the elements could throw at them, right to the end, with maximum performance.”
The Ayrton Perseo and Domino units were presented by the exclusive distributor of Ayrton in Italy, Molpass, and provided by the Italian service Agorà.
photos: Michele Allegramente
3rd October 2022
Hippotizer Mayon+ MK2 makes its mark for Isle of MTV Malta
Malta – MTV’s Isle of MTV festival burst into life on the beautiful island of Malta this summer with a line-up of pop music heavyweights performing on the main stage, backed by shifting LED screens powered by a Hippotizer Mayon+ MK2 media server.
As one of Europe’s most celebrated festivals, Isle of MTV Malta attracts more than 50,000 people to dance in the sun-drenched, iconic Il-Fosos Square. Now in its 14th year, the festival is shown on MTV as well as Sky and via online platforms.
Two Grammy-nominated artists headlined the 2022 event, kicking off with superstar DJ Marshmello and followed by the multi-platinum artist French Montana and English singer Mae Muller, among many others.
UK-based video solutions company Digital Insanity was commissioned to deploy their characteristic dynamic, dazzling visual delivery and operation for the main stage, which featured an upstage LED screen, three further onstage screens which were moved around between acts, changing the look of the set, and four LED arches.
“Our role on this event was creating video branding to match the style of this year’s event, creating all pixelmaps and dealing with all of the artists’ video requirements, including video content for Mae Muller, [Maltese rising star] Shaun Farrugia, and half of French Montana’s video show as well as playback for several local acts as part of the pre-show,” explains Digital Insanity’s Richard Bagshaw. “The video designs were sent over and I designed a playback system which would support all the requirements, with the Hippotizer Mayon+ MK2 at the core of the system.
“It was a mixed bag of requirements, so we needed a flexible system that offered the ability to free-run – busk – video and also run timecode for some of the acts. Using the Mayon+ MK2 delivered smooth playback to large canvas files, which was amazing as we were running 6800x3800px video in Lossless codec. The output looked amazing, pumping out two 4K signals. I was impressed by how well it played high-resolution media with such a uncompressed codec.”
“One of the standout moments for me was during Mae Muller’s performance,” Bagshaw continues. “We designed every video look for her 45-minute set and it was driven by timecode from the stage. I love a timecode show, especially when you make the content as every little inflection or change is as you designed it in the edit. Overall, it was great looking show.”
3rd October 2022
Incubus Tours with Stellar L-Acoustics K1 System and VIP Mixhalo Experience
USA – Over the past 30 years, California rock band Incubus has sold more than 23 million albums and headlined numerous music festivals and tours around the world. The group’s latest Live Nation-promoted US trek, billed as the 2022 Summer Tour, with openers Sublime with Rome and The Aquadolls, recently performed at 27 amphitheatres and pavilions across the country between 24 July and 3 September, with sound reinforcement provider Clair Global carrying an L-Acoustics K Series system, augmented with extra content for fans in an on-stage VIP area via the Mixhalo real-time audio application.
“Incubus initially toured with Clair back in 2001, and they’ve been our primary sound reinforcement partner since 2007, but this is the first tour with the band that I have been able to use L-Acoustics,” shares FOH engineer Greg Nelson, who, in addition to his work with Pearl Jam, has mixed for Incubus on and off since 1997 when they opened for 311. “I’m so comfortable with this system and was so happy that Clair and Brit Row were able to provide K1 for this tour. The consistency I was getting from shed to shed was fantastic, and from the front row all the way to the beginning of the lawn systems it was very even and sonically full.”
The 2022 Summer Tour’s loudspeaker design was built around a pair of 16-enclosure K Series mains – 12 K1 over four K2 – with eight more K2 per side flown as out-fill arrays. Left and right hangs of six KS28 subs hung in cardioid configuration were bolstered by six more end-stacked on the stage below, also in a cardioid arrangement. Two A15 Wide per side flanked the ground subs for out-fill, while six A10 Focus spread across the stage lip delivered front-fill. The entire system was driven by LA12X amplifiers, housed in LA-RAK II touring racks, and managed via the L-Acoustics P1 AVB processor and measurement platform.
One additional unique component of the touring system was the use of the Mixhalo platform, which was co-founded by Incubus guitarist and songwriter, Mike Einziger. This marks the first joint deployment following the strategic partnership between L-Acoustics and Mixhalo, announced in 2021. The Mixhalo deployment was designed to complement the main audience coverage via K1 by a unique VIP headphone solution on stage that delivers pristine, real-time audio content tailored to the stage experience.
“We’ve had Mixhalo out with us from the start, obviously,” says Nelson. “I send a left-right mix as well as four other mixes that highlight Ben, Mike, Kil, and José’s instruments on top of a left-right mix. The band sells a VIP package that allows fans to stand on the sides of the stage, approximately six feet from Ben and Mike, and Mixhalo allows them to hear a perfect mix of the show via headphones. We also have been using it in select venues for the lawn. I think it’s a good use of Mixhalo on the lawn because some venues’ lawn systems are pretty basic and hardly cover the large crowds that are there. Mixhalo gives people the option to listen when they want to and get a great mix.”
“As we share the same vision of elevating the listener experience, our partnership with L-Acoustics has been organic since day one,” said John Vars, CEO of Mixhalo. “Going back to our roots, we’re excited to team up with them to bring a phenomenal on-stage audio experience to Incubus fans.” Laurent Vaissié, CEO at L-Acoustics, agrees stating, “We’re thrilled to see L-Acoustics and Mixhalo’s technologies deployed together for the first time on tour with Incubus. It is a great blueprint for future hybrid and augmented audio experiences that will continue to elevate the audience’s live experience.”
Nelson details the mixing approach that he took on his DiGiCo Quantum338 console feeding the L-Acoustics system: “I like to start with a nice warm low end: a lot of 40 to 50 Hertz in the kick and let the bass fill in the rest,” he describes. “Ben [Kenney] has a great bass sound with a warm low end and a nice midrange that lets all the interesting things he’s playing cut through. Mike [Einziger] has a nice big guitar sound and I like to do a delay offset to create more space in the middle for vocals and all of the keyboard and turntable things that Kil [DJ Chris Kilmore] is doing. I like to try to get a big ‘everything is louder than everything else’ wall of sound and then let Brandon’s [Boyd] vocals sit right there on top. K1 is a great PA for all of this because of its natural warmth. The low mids are smooth, as is the high end, and it lets me get big and loud without any harshness or mud.”
Before he could get to that point, however, it was systems engineer John Kerns’ duty to design, set up, and ring out the rig at each tour stop. “I’ve been an L-Acoustics guy for a very long time and rely on Soundvision almost daily,” Kerns says. “The Autosolver tools allowed us to get a very good basic idea in just a few minutes. After using Autosplay, I typically looked at a couple of different frequency bands to see if we could get them pretty even, and then Autofilter was used to tighten things up even more. I’ve found that the filters that are tweaked in Autofilter are pretty spot on when you move between cabinets in the field.”
Once the PA was up and passing signal, Kerns ran Load Checker to ensure that all patching was correct. “We would then break into M1, which is a fantastic measurement tool suite. Once we got our process down, I found it not only highly accurate but really quite easy. We did all of our timing in M1 and 95 percent of our EQing as well, without needing 30 minutes of pink noise every day.”
The Incubus audio crew, which also included PA tech Keith Porter, ran the loudspeaker system on AVB as the primary signal transport, which Kerns says: “Made it not only drop-dead quiet, but super easy for any changes that had to be made for slightly different array configurations from day to day. In the few months that we were out, we never had a single slip or dropout. The P1 processor is an integral part of the L-Acoustics ecosystem and an equally important component as any amplifier or cabinet, in my opinion.”
Although Kerns was the systems engineer on this tour, he primarily considers himself an FOH engineer and has filled in for Nelson with Incubus on a number of tours over the years. “That familiarity with the band’s mix gave me a great understanding of what Greg was looking for on this tour. Once I handed the PA over to him, it took less than five minutes with a mic and we were in a great spot.”
Whether they were using headphones on stage or feeling the K1 impact in the audience, fans were 'plugged in' to the band thanks to the full coverage premium solution. “I love the K1 system,” Nelson adds. “It makes my job so much easier to deliver a great consistent mix from venue to venue. The incredibly even coverage of the system means that I know every fan is hearing and enjoying the same show that I am, and I got compliments practically each night from audience members confirming that.”
30th September 2022
Phish Hit the Road with Robe for Summer Tour
USA – Phish delivered a fantastic summer tour experience for fans in North America, uniting another highly talented collaborative lighting team of Chris Kuroda, long-time lighting designer for Phish, and associate designer Andrew 'Gif' Giffin, who have created a dynamic and eye-catching design with the help of 72 Robe Tetra2 moving LED bars and 60 Robe Spiiders.
The band has amassed a loyal, enthusiastic and cross-generational following over the years and are known for their genre-blending extended jams and innovative improvisations.
Chris and Gif have been working together on Phish live projects since 2009 and enjoy a great synergy and all the benefits of working as a creative duo.
Gif initially joined Chris as programmer and is now the associate lighting designer and most creative decisions are made jointly. Chris says laughing: “Sometimes we bicker about choices like the proverbial ‘old married couple’,” but this clearly works, and whatever the dynamic, the duo produces spectacular imaginative results for Phish and a host of other projects on which they also work in tandem.
This latest Phish tour design process started in the summer of 2021 when the band came back for their first performances since February 2020. With no LED screens or IMAG video on the tour, the visual language is defined by lighting and movement as the band want the audience to focus primarily on the music.
The Phish signature automated truss aesthetic that has featured in recent years remained, with 30 sticks of 5ft, 8ft and 10ft truss each flown on two Kinesys Apex motors with TAIT Navigator control. This system is reimagined with new elements including the Tetra2s which produce a completely distinctive look and vibe from anything that has gone before.
When Chris and Gif started thinking about the 2021-22 design and getting the Tetra2’s on board, they wanted to go beyond producing impressive static shapes and architectural looks with the trusses, and to tweak the geometry further by shifting and bending these ‘lines of delineation’.
“We like to use innovative products and thought the Tetra2 was the perfect fixture for this,” stated Chris, adding that the cues and looks required to create this shape-shifting architecture were all developed “very organically” during the pre-programming and production rehearsal periods.
A single Tetra2 fixture was added to the 5ft sections, two to the 8ft sections and three to the 10ft pieces. As well as highlighting the form of the black trusses, the Tetra2s’ great versatility is used for multiple effects – from sheets and curtains of light to flyaway looks to pixel effects – as well as reflecting the changing trussing patterns which at times flip vertically and fly up to 50ft in the air and down as low as 6ft off the stage.
“The original plan was just to pick out the trussing architecture but when we discovered just how much the Tetra2 can do; it quickly evolved into the ‘feature fixture’ of the show,” notes Gif. He elucidates that they don’t always have the whole Tetra2 bar illuminated. Individual pixel control plus the excellent four to 45 degrees zoom and the fact that each pixel has its own lens opens “whole new universes” of possibilities for creating funky, dramatic, and fluid looks and chases.
They also wanted the actual fixture to disappear in some of the geometric arrangements isolating just the active pixels, which is achievable with the Terta2 as opposed to other LED batten products on the market.
“The home-made Tetra2 effects we’ve created are super cool,” says Chris, explaining that Tetra2s came into his life via Craig Burross, Robe North America’s sales director in early 2020, shortly after Robe had launched the product.
The 60 Spiiders (44 in the air and 16 on the deck) on the rig for the 2021 summer tour and New Year’s Eve shows were already in the Phish show file. They wanted these fixtures again for their compact size, intensity, coverage and fantastic colours, and because they really like the clean appearance and quality of the Spiider light beam.
Chris and Gif both appreciate the seamless colour matching between the Robe fixtures which share the same colour engine. “Calor is a huge thing,” says Chris.
With three hours of music per show (the band never repeats the same setlist), the Phish tour challenge is to “evolve visually” in the same fashion that the band evolves musically over the course of the set notes Chris, who has been lighting Phish since 1989, an impressive long-term relationship.
Not being tied to an album cycle and with the band touring for several months of the year (plus one-offs like their annual New Year’s run and destination events in Mexico), it is fundamentally important to keep the lighting fresh. New programming is also added each day of the ongoing tour says Gif, which is important as many fans will attend multiple shows.
“Especially with Tetra2s on the rig we have the flexibility to change or add new effects in the afternoon and use them that night.”
Programming wizardry plus a few smart hacks have seen the creation of some completely unique Tetra2 content. They have discovered interesting ways of layering effects and making the Tetra2s behave extraordinarily whilst working extremely hard to produce fluid and organic looking rather than digital and electronically created effects.
“‘Make it look organic’ has been our mantra ever since we started working with LED products,” says Gif. “The aesthetic goal is for lighting to look smooth, soft and pretty,” adds Chris.
Both Chris and Gif operate on the tour using networked grandMA3 consoles. Chris primarily deals with the lighting while Gif focuses on the automation, most of which is programmed and triggered via the console so it synchronises perfectly with the lighting, rolling lighting and motion into one cohesive control entity.
An additional 30 Tetra2s were supplied by Gateway Studios and Production Services to illuminate and create effects onto a large water curtain at Phish’s New Year’s Eve show, and the current touring package also includes 12 Tetra2s on the deck in addition to all those on the trusses.
The tour lighting vendor is PRG, with the Tetra2s supplied by Gateway who purchased them especially for the tour.
photos: Andrew Giffin
30th September 2022
CPL Rocks the Video Look at Camper Calling 2022
UK – CPL, via Urban Audio Productions, supplied a full video design and production package (screens, cameras and control) to the 2022 Camper Calling festival which ran for three glorious days over the August Bank Holiday weekend at Ragley Hall, Warwickshire.
The CPL crew, led by Lee Gruszeckyj, relished the chance to return to this festival, known for its boutique chic and fantastic vibes, which this year attracted much larger audiences than in 2021, when it was among the first round of live events able to operate as Covid restrictions were tentatively lifted.
This year organisers Jazz Events and everyone involved was buzzed to be back to the full-tilt energy levels of 2019 with a fantastic line up as dance and beat warriors Basement Jaxx got in the groove on Friday, gurus of pop rock Starsailor and Shed 7 rocked the house on the Saturday, while Del Amitiri and James closed the action on Sunday with stonking sets ensuring the thousands of happy campers left the site smiling!
Following on from the great success of last year’s presentation, the side stage IMAG screens were again flown in portrait format, a move suggested by CPL to frame artist close-ups and full-length shots more stylishly. All the bespoke content could then be tailored to fit.
The two IMAG screens each measured 4.4 metres wide by six metres tall and were complemented by five different width columns of screen on stage, tapering down as they went off stage, all with a 4.8 metre drop.
The screen elements were constructed from CPL’s Roe CB5 product, with 115 panels in total on the project, driven by Brompton SS40 processors and XD boxes for distribution, running via a fibre system with loop redundancy.
The HD camera feeds were augmented with three hot-head remote sources, two above the stage area at the top of the front legs, with a third on a mobile tripod that could be finally positioned as appropriate around the different band blackline set-ups.
The visual department has a container backstage for their operational HQ into which they built a custom control unit based around a Barco E2 switcher for screen management. A disguise media server was used for various artist graphics and content plus public announcements.
Lee contacted all the artist production teams directly once the line-up was confirmed and asked them for logos and other graphic materials from which the CPL team created individual 30 or 60 second intro sequences to ramp up the excitement as they took to the stage.
This advance planning also ensured slick changeovers and avoided the stress of having any dubious quality content turning up right at the last minute not formatted for the system!
As each band hit the first bars of their opening number, the video screens all flipped to IMAG, with Lee cutting an animated mix using a Panasonic 410 with some additional keys and auxes to send different shots to the stage and side screens.
In keeping the look fresh and invigorating, the emphasis was more on IMAG and less on playback footage, keeping the artists fully centre stage and connecting with their audience as that atmosphere is right at the essence of Camper Calling.
CPL supplied six half tonne ProLyft hoists to fly the side screens, with the onstage screen attached to a dedicated truss with catenary wires and clips.
DMX control of the LED screen was provided to the lighting department, so they could adjust the brightness.
A full set of Riedel Bolero wireless comms was supplied for the crew, and joining Lee was Shaun Foster, Jo Khimasia (CPL’s live event technician apprentice), James Wagstaff, Phil Manson, Derek Gruszeckyj and Daryl Kibblewhite. Lee commented: “There were absolutely no issues with finding crew for this one, everyone was up for it! It’s intense work once everything is running, but it is great fun and a fabulous event in all aspects.”
CPL has worked on Camper Calling since it was launched in 2016. “Their commitment to production values is really impressive,” says Lee, explaining that: “The idea is to change up each year and improve the guest experience in some way which involves increasing the production and experimenting with different ideas.”
The great synergy between everyone involved in production, backstage and behind the scenes continues to grow along with the success and profile of the event itself.
New for this year was a pop-up backstage bar area for the crew so they could grab food and refreshments on-the-go between mixing or operating lighting, sound, or video for bands. This was fully equipped with a fridge cappuccino / expresso machine, a toaster, omelette maker and a tabletop gas stove and naturally became a BTS hub and chill zone after the music finished each day so everyone working on the production could enjoy a wind-down and lively interaction with one another!
Luckily the hottest, most humid, and sticky days of the UK’s summer heatwave had subsided, and the event was blessed with near-perfect weather.
photos: Sam Thomas
30th September 2022
Victorien Cayzeele Calls on Chauvet Professional to Create Connective Looks for Soprano Tour
France – There are certain words that come up often in reviews of Soprano’s live shows. “Energetic” is certainly one, an obvious choice for anyone who has seen this dynamic performer on stage. “Flawless” is another, a tribute to his impeccably tight flow as a rapper. Beyond these flattering terms that speak to the star’s talent however, there are others that define a personal quality that truly makes his shows special for fans; they revolve around words like “openness,” “inclusion,” and “connectivity.”
It is a magical quality of Soprano that, even as a superstar, he somehow always manages to make everyone feel like a welcomed part of his show. As one critic wrote of the Marseilles-born artist earlier this year, he made the crowd “feel a part of his performance, like we were part of something big.”
This communal spirit has been very much on display in Soprano’s “Chasseur d’Etoiles” tour, not only in the performance of the star himself, but also in the production and lighting design that supports him. Victorien Cayzeele of Blue Like Cue, designed the light show, and artistic director Julien Mairesse created the scenography. This collaboration created an all-embracing environment through a combination of inviting colours and patterns, audience lighting and an open stage that facilitated the connection between the artist and his fans.
“Sopra’s’ philosophy is to use light accent to emphasise actions on stage. In this tour we occupied the venues with a 360° stage, so it’s important to be generous with everyone all of the time,” said Cayzeele. “We want a group cohesion, bringing everyone together by unifying fans through light. To achieve this, we need to light up the stadium correctly and get a homogenous rendering of colour, to sublimate the stadium’s architecture and create a cocoon inside.”
Helping Cayzeele accomplish this was a collection of 180 Chauvet Professional Color Strike M fixtures supplied by DUSHOW. The motorised strobe/washes that feature two bright white tubes surround by a colour-mixing, pixel mappable face are positioned on the tops of towers for Soprano’s stadium shows.
“The Color Strike Ms and the colours they produced are our main baseline,” said Cayzeele. “It must be noted that it is complicated to use hazers in open stadiums, and the 14 MDGs spread throughout the space have only marginal effect. We also chose to work with very few beam effects. Out of the 900 projectors we use, only 60 are beam sources, all the rest are flood. What I enjoy about the Color Strike M is its power! Sometimes one could say it’s even too powerful; we had to lower the master as the sun went down. What is great about these is that with their placement we were able to light up the faces of the audience without blinding or stunning the artist.”
The output of the Color Strike M is important in helping the design team maintain consistent looks as the tour moved from venue to venue. “Our FOH changes placed according to which stadium we are playing in, so we needed a light design that is homogenous whichever axis you would look at it from,” said Cayzeele. “We need to keep in mind that the towers also cast shadows. Our lighting operators, Matthieu Patriarca and Romain Labat deserve a lot of credit for making things work smoothly as do Marco Saby (networks) and our TD Aymeric Sorriaux.”
Soprano himself, was also involved in the show, giving feedback and inspiration to the design team. Among the goals he undoubtedly shared was to create a show that brought him closer to his fans. On this score, they succeeded in spectacular fashion.
30th September 2022
LANY Lighting Shines with Bandit Lites
USA – American pop rock band LANY recently wrapped up their 34-city “Summer Forever” tour with a lighting system supplied by Bandit Lites. The band, named as an acronym for Los Angeles and New York, is comprised of the duo Paul Jason Klein and Jake Clifford Goss. LANY boasts four studio albums, several EPs, more than 3.5 billion song streams, and over 750 million video views.
Lighting designer Ben Gilbert and production manager Alex Rousso based the design around a cube, with the center section of the design evoking three sides. The rest of the design flows from the top to the back, to the floor, all while remaining perfectly symmetrical.
“The artist took inspiration from Kanye West’s set at Glastonbury in 2015 with the grid of parcans,” explained Gilbert. “When considering the space and budget, we wanted to look for a light with more flexibility with more than just a dimmer.”
Bandit Lites supplied the Z350 FUZE WASH, which offered great functionality while providing a wide focal lens that delivered the desired look. The fixture has great speed, zoom and colour which made it the best tool for the job.
In addition to the Z350 FUZE WASH, Gilbert utilized Bandit’s GLP JDC1 strobes to push colour across the stage while accentuating hits within the music and Chauvet MK3 Spots to offer side light and fill the space with colour. The LED spot also aids in keeping heat down on the outdoor amphitheatre tour.
“With the premise of the square, we wanted the risers to follow suit but also be practical and visually interesting,” said Gilbert, who ended up using a “N” shape. “To make this even more interesting, we wanted to create a straight down look with a camera that we could put on the screen which would create a mirror/open book effect.”
The team needed to expound on that look with the lighting but also keep the stage look clean. The solution? Clear rises with Elation CHORUS LINES underneath. Coupled with two base hazers under the decks is the appearance of one of floating on a cloud.
“The CHORUS LINES are very versatile with their great colour, pixel control, tilt and zoom functions,” said Gilbert. “They allow us to create a lot of different looks that really add a whole new dimension to the stage.”
During rehearsals, Gilbert noted lighting LANY from the side was inadequate. To amp up the side lighting, Gilbert requested a strong LED spot that had shapers to he could do a hard cut across the front stage, keeping everything neat and creating a good profile shot of the stage.
“The Aytron Khasmin was the fixture of choice,” he revealed. “It fits the bill perfectly with great colours and brightness; it is the all stop shop for our front lighting needs.”
To complete the design, Bandit supplied CUEPIX Blinder WW4s. Gilbert shared LANY love the look of the 2x2 blinder and he incorporated them within the space to evoke stadium lights to the audience.
And while Bandit is thrilled to provide the lighting for LANY, it is the people that Bandit prides itself on, with Scot Sepe and Steven Wilcox serving as lighting technicians.
“The service from Bandit has been impeccable,” said Gilbert adding: “Some really top quality southern hospitality all the way from our account manager down to the technicians and shop crew. Mike has been great and on hand for everything and anything we need. [Project manager] Jimmy Hatten went above and beyond with helping us and making sure we had the best looking, cleanest tour going out the door. The two touring techs have been great dealing with the difficulties of the varying venues and the day to day struggles. They get everything done in a timely manner which is great for everyone considering the conditions of doing outdoor shows in the summer.”
“It's been a pleasure working with Alex Rousso, Ben and the entire LANY team,” said Bandit Lites client representative Mike Stanley. “We take immense pride in adding LANY to our client roster and I look forward to the opportunity to continue the relationship. I have no doubts that their outlook is bright, and I’m excited to see what the future has in store.”
30th September 2022
ROE Visual Celebrates Milestone of the Film-Centric Black Pearl 2
Worldwide – ROE Visual has announced the news of over 100,000 panels of its Black Pearl 2 series in virtual production use around the world. This figure represents a major milestone for the team and marks the undisputed market position of ROE Visual in this market segment. The latest model in the series, the BP2V2, is world-renowned for its on-screen performance, quickly solidifying it as “The Gold Standard in Virtual Production.”
Ever since virtual production technology came of age, ROE Visual has played an instrumental role as an LED partner for its development. The BP2 and BP2V2 LED panels were at the core of this global revolution. In addition to using the series on-set, the Black Pearl 2 line has been used for theatre, live events, broadcasting, XR showcases, touring, and art installations due to its high-quality performance.
ROE Visual’s BP2V2 panels have been featured in production studios globally, and now make up a significant market share. The Black Pearl series has won the trust and reputation of various clients throughout North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, based on its standout performance. Studios equipped with BP2V2 displays offer film-makers new ways to optimise their production workflow, creating flexible and cost-effective shooting solutions.
The Black Pearl series has supported a number of groundbreaking projects within various application fields. From TV and film productions to the rental stage for concerts and exhibitions, one-of-a-kind displays have been produced on the BP2V2 LED canvas, such as Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, KIMI, MJ: The Musical, ABBA Voyage concert and many more.
The ROE Visual team is grateful to witness the global success of the Black Pearl series thanks to the trust and support from its customers and partners. As the virtual production space continues to grow, so does the demand for high-quality components. Receiving various industry awards, praises, and recognition, the BP2V2 proves to be the optimal solution in LED display technology around the world.
The Black Pearl series offers a user-friendly and innovative design, available in a pixel pitch of 2.8mm. The BP2V2 delivers a trusted performance with high-speed components and true-to-content colour representation, adding a more streamlined camera set-up and handling experience. With its excellent features in product design and performance, the series has been awarded various industry honours over the years, including Red Dot Awards, iF Gold Award, IDEA Gold Award, Parnelli Award, and Good Design Award to name a few.
Beyond the panels’ specs, the technology behind the BP2V2 has been instrumental in solving the limitations in virtual production. Pixomondo and ROE Visual recently demonstrated active viewing angle correction in virtual production with the panel’s viewing angle data. The system improves the colour performance of LED volumes by tracking the camera's position and adjusting the colour of the LED pixels accordingly. The innovation in colour correction marks a new shift in virtual production technology.
“We are grateful for the trust and support of our clients, partners, and friends. This is a time for celebration and recognition as the team continues to lead with its values and mission in delivering optimal LED solutions for every application. We can’t wait to see new projects utilise the power of the Black Pearl series, exciting audiences everywhere,” states Grace Kuo, sales director at ROE Visual.
“Everyone at ROE Visual is elated to see how far the Black Pearl 2 series has come. The widespread acceptance of the BP2V2 panel on film and television stages around the world has been a point of pride,” says Frank Montero, managing director at ROE Visual US. “The future of virtual production is still being defined and ROE aims to be a part of that history in the making.”
30th September 2022
Chauvet Professional and Squeek Lights Help Richard Fong Create Distinct Looks for Joywave and iDKhow
USA – Lighting a co-headline tour can, at times, be a tricky proposition, especially when one of the acts wants to build its show around a car wash theme, complete with a sawn-off Corvette on stage, while the other opts for a more romantic setting. Richard Fong faced this situation when he was called upon to light “The Welcome To Hellvetica Tour,” featuring Joywave and iDKhow.
“For me, the design process always starts with a conversation about what story the band wants to tell on stage,” said Fong. “Joywave wanted to go all-in on a very theatrical car wash themed show. iDKhow is also a very theatrical band, but on this tour, they wanted to take a somewhat different route.”
Drawing on the fresh original energy and vitality that characterises both up and coming bands, Fong has successfully navigated his way through this dual mission, creating shows that are true to the vision of each client, while also providing fans with a single, and consistently engaging visual experience. Helping him accomplish this is a collection of Chauvet Professional fixtures supplied by Squeek Lights.
He explained how the design process unfolded: “After talking to the bands, I distinguished different looks and elements for each show based on their sound and stage presence. So, for example, Joywave’s show has a lot of big beam movements and looks that mirror the movement of the lead singer who is always running around on stage. Whenever he throws his hands down on a big hit, the lights do the same. If he sweeps his arms up in a pre-chorus build, there’s going to be beams sweeping up. In our conversations we’ve referred to this as him conducting the lights.”
Although the design for iDKhow's show is still focused on the band members, there isn’t quite as much movement. “Dallon is the lead singer, but he also plays the bass, so he’s often downstage centre for most of the show,” explained Fong. “This gives me the opportunity to really play with sculpting the light around him with different angles. I often have him and the other members in a downlight special, but depending on the mood of the song they also get hit with sidelight or a moody angled upright.”
Helping Fong create captivating light angles for both bands are his rig’s 12 Rogue R1 BeamWashes. “I come from a theatre background, so I’m always looking for interesting ways to light people on stage,” he said. “Specifically, I use some of the R1 BeamWashes at a very wide and low angle to get some interesting rim lighting on the bands, and that really helps pull focus to them. At the same time, it also doesn’t take away from the video content.”
Also helping Fong make individual band members stand out on stage are eight Maverick Force S Spot fixtures, four of which are positioned on top of truss towers, and for arranged on the deck. “Their zoom gives me the narrow beam necessary for the high energy moments, and the selection of gobos really helps define some beautiful looks,” he says of the fixtures.
“Originally, I thought I had to be exclusive in my programming for each show to feel unique,” continued Fong. “But as soon as I started playing with the rig, I realized I could get very distinct looks while still using all the fixtures for both shows. The Maverick Force S Spots are especially versatile. For Joywave’s show they are mostly zoomed down to a very tight beam, and for IDKhow’s show I utilise the gobos and prism effects quite a lot. They are the first fixture where I felt like I could throw them in a gobo look with prism effects and not worry about a loss of brightness.”
Also featured in the rig are eight Color Strike M fixtures, a pair of which flanks each of the Force S Spot units on the towers. Fong uses their RGB faces to compliment the rigs video wall with texture, while relying on the white strobe tubes to add excitement to big moments and highlight the Corvette scenic piece.
“The Corvette is a very fun element, a lot of the video design by Ann Slote is based around the car, making it seem like we are moving through a car wash or driving along a vapour-wave highway,” said Fong. “In terms of the lighting, I tried to think of it as a character in a show. It starts off very normal looking with red brake lights and flashing hazard lights to the beat, then as the show progresses, it starts to take on the personality of the music.”
A favourite look of Fong’s in the show comes at the end of Joywave’s song “Travelling at the Speed of Light,” when the output from the Color Strike M tubes becomes blindingly bright. “The video design of the song is a journey into a retro-psychedelic / vapour-wave outer space, like the scene in Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’” he said. “At the very end we reach this field of stars, and I slowly ramp up the lights to this bright white look that beautifully backlights the band and fills up the whole room.”
Another highlight for Fong are when iDKhow does a cover of ‘Heaven is a Place on Earth’ and the Maverick Force S and R1 BeamWash fixtures create 80s' style sweeping beams. A third is during the final song of their set “Kiss Goodnight,” which uses all the Maverick Force S fixtures pointed out with a classic dots gobo and the prism slowly rotating.
These favourites involve two very different kinds looks that reflected two very different client visions, but in the hands of a skilled designer they’ve been contributing to one very magical evening every show on this coast-to-coast tour.
29th September 2022
OneRepublic’s Never Ending Summer Tour Goes and Goes on DiGiCo Quantum Consoles
USA – Following a lengthy five-year touring hiatus, North American fans of OneRepublic were justifiably thrilled to catch the Colorado Springs-founded band on its recent Never Ending Summer Tour, which stopped at more than 40 arenas, theatres, amphitheatres and pavilions between early July and mid-September. Equally elated were FOH engineer Justin Ripley and monitor engineer Dave McMullin to be manning their mixes on a pair of DiGiCo Quantum7 consoles provided by Nashville’s Spectrum Sound, which supplied the control and PA packages for the tour.
For over a year, Spectrum has also been equipping the production team with a pair of DiGiCo Quantum338 consoles for the band’s many non-tour-related shows. “We’ve been out for most of this year, including seven weeks in Europe during April and May, but we’ve always had a good number of one-offs in between,” says McMullin, who has been with OneRepublic for the past six years. “We have a lot of creative itinerary routing, with many side shows scheduled in the midst of ‘normal’ touring, so Spectrum has provided us with multiple control packages that allow us to send different rigs as needed. In my time with the band, we’ve only really had two proper touring seasons, with the rest of the time being filled with many small runs and one-offs, often still doing 60 to 70 shows per year. Having two rigs ready to go at all times allows us to be flexible and make the potentially challenging scheduling work.”
During non-tour times, the group’s A and B control rig are identical, both consisting of a Quantum338 at FOH and monitors, one SD-Rack with 32-bit input and output cards and AES cards, one SD-MiNi Rack, and one Orange box with Optocore and DMI-MADI cards for integrating with playback. With the need to scale up input counts for the Never Ending Summer Tour, the A package consisted of a Quantum7 at FOH and monitors, two SD-Racks with 32-bit input and output cards and AES output cards, and two Orange Boxes, both with Optocore and MADI Cards, one each for integration with playback and video.
FOH engineer Justin Ripley’s working history with the band goes back to 2019. “Although I first saw a DiGiCo console in 2011, I didn’t actually carry one out on the road until I fully made the switch over to DiGiCo and Waves in 2016, which I’m so glad I did because I need all the modern bells and whistles to get the OneRepublic mix to really pop,” he says. “I really prefer, at least currently, to start with more of a neutral sound, which DiGiCo is known for, and then beat the hell out of the signal from there.”
“OneRepublic’s records typically have a big, beautiful bed of band, and then Ryan [Tedder] and his vocal production is featured on top,” he continues. “Depending on the environment we’re in, my ultimate goal is full intelligibility for Ryan’s vocal to the audience, but not at the expense of the band. I incorporate lots of modern tricks to make sure it’s not a ‘star-vocal-only’ show. The band is super important live in my view.”
Ripley walks through his process to accomplish that on his Quantum7 at front of house: “I’m going from channels into groups, then into more groups, and then matrices, which nowadays is pretty normal at this level of touring, but I still think it’s the secret to getting a good mix live. I like to say that all of the audio has to touch each other. The instruments can’t all meet up on the master fader competing for attention equally. Like-minded things such as Moog, bass guitars, VSTs, and sub drops have to live together, like in a Bass Buss.
“I have fun assigning different things to different groups, too. For example, we have sound effects in some tracks and I put those in the Cymbal Buss because it’s kind of what they do. They’re impact moments, like risers and explosions and fade outs, that are similar to hitting a crash on the kick. And instead of doing a bunch of analytical EQ on that buss, I put all that through a tape machine, which saturates out and blurs and squares some of the harsher high-frequency stuff. When a sound effect is competing with Eddie’s [Fisher] crash, the processing does the maths for me. It all becomes one sound blended and that process is repeated over and over in the console in dozens of applications.”
Regarding processing, Ripley keeps his setup simple. “I’ve landed on DiGiCo and Waves exclusively,” he says. “If I had a rock-and-roll three-piece, all analogue with boutiquey outboard, it would be a dream, but that’s not this gig. Over the years, I’ve moved more and more over to processing in DiGiCo, then adding modern sheen and mid/side and sidechain management and psychoacoustic type stuff and timed delays in Waves. For Ryan’s voice in particular, I aim for the ‘record vocal,’ so his signal has the typical army of de-essers and compressors, EQ, and et cetera. But in environments with terrible acoustics, I open him up and clamp down on the band more so the vocal can breathe dynamically and everyone can hear what he’s doing, down to the vocal runs and breath work.”
Over in 'monitor world', Dave McMullin has been appreciative of the Quantum7’s generous I/O capabilities on his end of the fibre. “We’ve been carrying Quantum338s in our packages for the last year and a half, and I’ve loved the Quantum platform, but we’ve also been maxing those desks out in terms of input counts,” he describes. “When going on tours, the band typically adds some additional instrumentation, and we may have the occasional string quartet or a few guests. The Quantum7 gives us the necessary expandability for those additional inputs when they arise.
“Having been on the Quantum338 and utilising Mustard and Spice Rack on a number of channels, being able to keep our processing consistent between platforms is key,” he adds. “The Mustard Compressor options have probably been the thing I’ve used the most. The array of compressor types, as well as ability to compress in parallel, allows me the flexibility to match inputs with the necessary dynamic control specific to each instrument and player. And the Naga 6 is my second most relied upon part of the Quantum processing. A good number of the band’s playback sources are pulled from the records and, as such, they come to us much more open and lightly processed than where they end up on a finished album. Naga 6 helps to shape and control these in ways that fit more into the dynamics of the live show versus a studio album.”
Whether he’s in front of the Quantum7 or the Quantum338, McMullin points out that DiGiCo’s signature flexibility is the single biggest plus that the platform affords, in his opinion. “Our audio control is heavily integrated into backline and playback, especially with MADI and MIDI,” he notes. “One of the most powerful features – not unique to Quantum, but to DiGiCo in general – is the macro. Via MIDI, our playback engineer is able to trigger macros without my involvement during a show. He’s able to talk to specific band members directly, as well as control some mutes and other functions.
“Beyond that, some of the other functionality that is helpful on my side of things is the ability to choose a sidechain input for gates and compressors. Our cello has both a pickup and a mic installed. The combination of the two sounds fantastic and gives the player an open, natural sound, but the mic is susceptible to bleed, especially while the drums are being played. Through some creative sidechains within the console, I’m able to control and limit the bleed so the cello sounds as clean as possible. It’s little things like this that add up and make DiGiCo consoles such a pleasure to use.”
With the North American tour freshly wrapped up, the group will soon be heading back to Europe as well as Israel, Saudi Arabia, Dubai and South Africa in the autumn. Touring will later pick back up in the spring of 2023, hitting Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
29th September 2022
Gus Martinez Sets Stage for Marca MP at MGM Grand with Chauvet Professional
USA – A “spirit of joy,” as one critic described it, runs through the music of Marca MP. Anyone who’s ever listened to this California-based band would find it next to impossible not to agree with that assessment. The quartet’s lively blend of banda, mariachi, and ranchera has an uplifting effect on fans, getting them on their feet, dancing, stomping, and singing along, as everyday concerns seem to float away with the music.
Frontman Pedro ('El Chato') Vargas exemplifies the buoyant spirt of the band with his magnetic stage presence. But Vargas’ million dollar smile wasn’t the only thing shining when Marca MP took to the stage for their long-awaited show at MGM Grand this summer as part of their Lo Que Fuera Un Sueño Tour 2022. Glittering along with their spirited performance was a dynamic Gus Martinez-designed light show that filled the big concert space with intense flashes of audience lighting and strobing that ran in sync with the music.
Like the music itself, Martinez’s light show was characterised by its energy and motion. Weaving light and video together, he co-ordinated the rapid pan and tilt movements from his rig’s 84 Chauvet Professional Maverick and Rogue fixtures with fast-moving breakout patterns that ran across the eight video walls, including three horizontal structures over the stage, one along the back wall, two on the band risers and one each stage left and stage right. Like the lighting fixtures, the walls were supplied by Hardwired Productions.
Often Martinez moved the video images in opposite directions from one another, punctuating them with shafts of light oriented at different angles to create a swirling animated effect. To keep his show varied he continuously changed video patterns and light angles. He also incorporated a variety of colour combinations into his show, sometimes going with monochromatic palettes. Sometimes, he reinforced the connection between the band and its fans by bathing the crowd in the same coloured light as the stage. At other moments, he combined short black outs with atmospheric effects.
Martinez accomplished all this with help from the 32 Maverick MK3 Wash and 12 Rogue R2 Wash units in his rig. These fixtures were arranged on both sides of the stage, as were the rig’s 40 Rogue R3 Beams, which were used to create aerial effects, specials and captivating gobo patterns.
“I put most of the lighting fixtures on the sides for this show,” said Martinez. “The idea was to create a slightly different look than our arena and festival shows. I put more video in the centre of the stage because of its high trim.”
Having intense lighting flank a massive center video component, also created “a sense of bigness” said Martinez. With a band possessing the giant-sized spirit of Marca MP, that only made sense.
photos: Eddie Rodriguez
29th September 2022
Martin Audio Wavefront Precision brings explosive sound to Nagaoka Fireworks
Japan – Held annually over two days along the banks of the Shinano River in Japan’s Nagaoka City, Nagaoka Fireworks Festival resumed in August after a three-year break. The spectacular show was accompanied by Martin Audio WPC and WPS line arrays, which were adopted as the main sound system.
The Festival was inaugurated as far back as 1879 and since World War II has been held annually on 2-3 August, with the hope of achieving world peace. In 2019 it boasted a record 1.08 million spectators around the world, making it one of the three major fireworks festivals in Japan.
Although the main audience area spans approximately 500m x 200m, the height of the sound system is limited to under three metresm in order not to block the view of the fireworks. To meet this requirement, multiple small systems were installed and distributed over the entire audience area.
MIC LLC and Yokinsha Co. Ltd. both brought 12 WPC and four SX218 subwoofers to the event, while Niigata Shomei Giken Co. Ltd. brought 16 WPS and six SXCF118, set at 50m intervals. The requirement for the system was to broadcast background music, commentary from the MC and emergency announcements, bringing clarity and high intelligibility across the entire audience area during the fireworks display.
Describing the event, Mr. Endo of MIC LLC, the audio general producer, said: "I have tried various systems from many manufacturers over the years, but the Martin Audio system was the only one that was able to provide a consistent experience for visitors over the wide audience area, during the explosive sound of fireworks. The reason why we were able to mix WPC and WPS without any discomfort was due to the uniformity between the various Martin Audio products.”
28th September 2022
Elation Artiste Mondrian lights Mexican singers Lucero and Mijares at Mexico City’s Auditorio Nacional
Mexico – In June, the show “¡Hasta que se nos hizo!” was presented at the Auditorio Nacional in Mexico City where renowned Mexican singers Lucero and Manuel Mijares delighted the audience with a litany of hits from over 40 years in the entertainment industry. Axel Rebollo, in charge of lighting and production design for the show, used Elation Professional’s 51,000-lumen Artiste Mondrian LED profile FX moving head, along with Chorus Line 16 and Protron 3K Color, to highlight the set and ran the amazing show using an NX2 console by Obsidian Control Systems.
“A great thing about working with the Artiste Mondrian is its LED source, which is efficient and produces a very powerful output,” stated LD Axel Rebollo. “I also like its optics, the wide zoom range it offers and how versatile it can be thanks to its gobos, prisms, colour system and all the tools it features.” With a 226mm PC lens and capable of producing a narrow 3° beam, the Artiste Mondrian is a remarkable fixture, utilising a custom hotspot LED engine to provide outstanding centre intensities at long throws. It houses an all-inclusive FX package along with pioneering innovation like Elation’s exclusive seven-flag SpectraColor colour mixing system and endless rotation framing.
The Chorus Line 16 LED pixel bars lined a center square truss and outlying half-square trusses with more topping a backdrop LED screen and lining the downstage edge while the Protron 3K Color strobes were sprinkled among the rig for punches of colour.
Mexican rental house Producciones Premium LT, a lighting, audio, video and backline production company for large-scale shows, provided the Elation Professional fixtures for the show. The Lucero and Mijares tour was produced by AlmaShow Producciones.
photos: Carlos Alvar
28th September 2022
LD Giovanni Pinna lights up the Campari Boat-in Cinema event at the Venice Film Festival with 100 Claypaky Sharpy Plus Aqua units
Italy – One hundred Claypaky Sharpy Plus Aqua fixtures were deployed at the Venetian Arsenal from 31 August to 10 September 2022 for the Campari Boat-In Cinema event at the time-honoured Venice International Film Festival.
Campari has been the main sponsor of the festival for the past five years, during which it has organised a whole series of events to promote dialogue between established film-makers and emerging talent. Among the best-known initiatives is the screening of some of the films in competition with the audience watching from the water on small boats or platforms in the scenic Arsenal basin. A spectacular live performance opens the evening after an apéritif and welcome dinner for a select audience of about 180 people. This is followed by a film screening on the big screen. After the film, the evening firework party begins for a larger audience of about 1,500 people, with live performances and DJ mixes featuring scenic settings and striking light shows.
Event lighting designer Giovanni Pinna told us: “The client asked for some very 'graphic' lighting to bring out the four islands, which were built especially for the occasion and connected to each other with red carpet-like walkways. The stars and guests arrived and were guided along the pier and walkways by a highly dynamic light path, drawn out using about eighty Sharpy Plus Aqua units, forty on each side.”
Claypaky's Sharpy Plus Aqua is an IP66-rated hybrid moving head fixture, ideal for both indoor and outdoor events. It comes complete with all the latest effects and performance features and is capable of adding a distinguishing touch to any lighting design.
Pinna went on to say: “Aqua Sharpy Plus fixtures are absolutely excellent, and the only outdoor lights I used at the Arsenal. They provide so many visual effects. I used them almost entirely by playing with their gobos and prisms. To say nothing of their versatility: depending on the need, I could use them as beam, spot or wash lights.”
About twenty Sharpy Plus Aqua units were also installed on the edge of the big screen to provide stage backlighting. On some occasions they were used as key lights, for example during Stefano Accorsi's performance.
“For such important events and demanding clients, you absolutely have to rely on proven products and brands that you know you can count on," Pinna continued. “Claypaky has always supported me with great professionalism, and their technical staff was again invaluable during the rigging. Most important of all, the client was highly satisfied with the result!”
Claypaky also supplied Mini-B fixtures. These small but ultra-efficient wash lights were installed inside the discothèque Campari set up.
The event was conceived and produced by MCM Comunicazione di Chicco Nobili. The lights were provided by Service LK Events di Salvatore Oliva. Studio Gio Forma handled the art and creative direction and "Laccio” dealt with the choreography. Giovanni Pinna received priceless help from chief technician Matteo Minchella.
28th September 2022
HelixNet and FreeSpeak II dramatically streamline workflow and connectivity for 2022 National Geographic’s annual Explorer’s Conference
USA – A digital Clear-Com system deployed across National Geographic’s sprawling campus by Washington, D.C.-based Clear-Com partner, FC-Production, allowed the 2022 Rolex National Geographic Explorer of the Year Awards celebrations to proceed more fluidly than ever before.
The campus, formally known as National Geographic Base Camp, has played an essential role in the global non-profit’s mission since the late 1800s, notably as a venue for Nat Geo's explorers to gather and share their experiences with the public. Between the museum, theatre and main headquarters, the campus takes up most of a city block, which poses a potential challenge to event communications.
FC-Production was one of the first to deploy Clear-Com’s HelixNet and FreeSpeak products on the east coast, and the company often takes on challenging, large-scale events similar to this one. In fact, the production company has worked on this event for years, but 2022 marks the first time that organisers have tasked it with providing the entire communications and audio infrastructure. In this case, that included Clear-Com’s FreeSpeak II Digital Wireless Intercom and HelixNet Digital Partyline Intercom, distributed via ten transceivers deployed across Nat Geo’s headquarters. While the main event was in the theatre, there was a secondary space for overflow and an outside courtyard with a sound system and stage for DJs.
“Previously, those systems were parceled out to several different groups,” explained FC-Production’s operations manager, Joseph Foley. “Usually, that included vendors [for whom] intercom wasn’t a primary focus, which presented numerous challenges. The interface alone created headaches. Not to mention, vendors were bringing in a mix of analogue and digital equipment, a mish-mash of different manufacturers’ products, and different ages of gear. So, this year, they brought us in from day one to avoid the inevitable problems and to streamline everything with FreeSpeak II and HelixNet.”
In all, FC-Production deployed 25 FreeSpeak II beltpacks and 20 HelixNet beltpacks. “Anyone who didn’t need to be mobile got HelixNet, and any of us that had to move from space to space were on FreeSpeak,” Foley said. A central master control was located in the theatre and ‘spidered’ out over fibre to the other viewing areas. Then, they distributed HelixNet and FreeSpeak over POE and Cat5, and deployed FreeSpeak splitter units at each location and transceivers for the FreeSpeak. “So, this was the first year they weren’t using long runs of copper XLR, 700feet across the campus, and trying to interface with individual strands of intercom from venue to venue.”
Ultimately, that drastically decreased load in time and dramatically improved the quality of the product with which they ended up.
For example, camera operators could move quickly between locations because they no longer had to leave their packs in one room, run across the building to pick up new packs, and try to adapt to new volume and communication settings.
For the first time, Nat Geo could have a centralised video director cut the streaming portion of the show and communicate easily with every operator, anywhere on site, a function that was greatly appreciated by event producers. “They were thrilled with the packs,” Foley said, “not only because they never dropped out, even in catering three floors up from where the main events were happening, but because they never had to worry about being able to reach the people they needed to.”
Foley noted that the transition to virtual events over the pandemic brought into sharper focus how fluid and seamless a singular system provided by a savvy, experienced provider can be. “We worked with Nat Geo on virtual events over the past couple of years that didn’t need nearly this level of intercom support, but they still required interfacing to other locations integrating Agent-IC or via Clear-Com’s LQ IP Series boxes for an intercom over IP solution.”
Owing to those efforts, Foley sums up: “They realised there was a better solution. They just needed to take the plunge. Deploying FreeSpeak and HelixNet was all about making things easy and fast, and it certainly allowed for smoother integration and worked very well on this occasion.”
27th September 2022
Hippotizer Karst+ proves catwalk ready for Miss Finland event
Finland – The annual Miss Finland pageant was broadcast live on TV from Helsinki’s Valkoinen Sali hall in September, with contestants strutting their stuff backed by LED screens driven by Hippotizer Karst+ media servers.
The glitzy event, which crowns a winner who will go on to represent Finland in the Miss Universe competition, is a prestigious event in the country, drawing healthy viewing figures and sparking conversation on social media. It is keen to promote not only outer beauty, but mental strength and charity work showcasing the women of today.
Helsinki-based Capital AV was commissioned by Miss Finland organiser, Finnartist Ltd, to create and operate the visuals for the event and design the staging inside the Valkoinen Sali venue, which was built in the 1920s. Capital AV’s Capital Creative arm designed and constructed a triangular catwalk from the hall’s existing stage, allowing the contestants to walk out into the audience and use the space effectively. Upstate and in shot for the TV cameras were two Absen T5 LED screens in a left-right formation with a central entry point space for the participants.
“We knew that the contest was going to be shown on live TV, so it was important to have the LED screens form a camera-ready, beautiful and soft backdrop for the contestants,” explains visual designer Max Lapinsuo-Sylwén from Capital AV. “The screens had to work both in wide shots and close-ups and we mostly ran pre-made, branded graphics but the pre-shot inserts were displayed on the screens simultaneously for the live audience.
“To achieve this in the most powerful yet simple way, we used a Hippotizer Karst+. It is our workhorse for events of this scale and it has never let us down. It certainly managed this event without breaking a sweat.”
Lapinsuo-Sylwén says the easiest solution was to utilize the SDI input on the Karst+ with the TV production company providing them with the insert feed. The Hippotizer was controlled via Capital AV’s grandMA console, using a pre-programmed cue list. “Hippotizer’s compatibility with this console is a feature we love and use almost in every production,” Lapinsuo-Sylwén continues. But what we love most about Hippotizer is its reliability, especially during live TV shows it’s important for us to use equipment we can 100 percent rely on. Hippotizer has been our number one media server at Capital AV for many years.”
In addition to Lapinsuo-Sylwén, the visuals were operated by Antti Huusko, and the lighting operator was Toni Mustikka. The winner of Miss Finland 2022, Petra Hämäläinen, was crowned live on AlfaTV against a sparkling LED backdrop.
photos: Capital AV
27th September 2022
Another Monumental Event for Robe
France – DJ, music producer and creative live experience imitator Michael Canitrot presented another innovative ‘Monumental’ show, this time in front of the incredible Cathedral Notre-Dame of Laon in the city of Aisne in the Hauts-de-France region of France.
A special musical performance was created for this magical event which was presented in collaboration with design collective AV-Extended led by Jérémie Bellot, featuring a giant video mapped projection show onto the front of the Cathedral’s imposing 56m high façade, supported by a light show designed by Mikael 'Mika' Trochu utilising 56 Robe moving lights.
This followed Michael Canitrot’s 2021 Monumental Tour, a series of unique site-specific performances staged at some of the most spectacular heritage landmarks and monuments around France.
Robe FORTEs and MegaPointes were chosen for their power, brightness, and impact as well as their dynamic feature sets, and were located all around the front of building on the ground and on a balcony at approximately 50 metres up the front of the building.
They were used highly effectively to create multi-layered effects on the cathedral, including the two main façade towers that overlooking Laon old town, and also to shoot striking and potent beams into the skies.
At the front of the building, either side of the stage, seven MegaPointes were deployed on the garden side with more on the courtyard side. Lined up adjacent to one other on special platforms, they highlight and texture the cathedral walls including the arch ceilings of the two large, recessed side doors.
On the front balcony, 15 MegaPointes were deployed and used for colouring the top half of the façade, the back walls under the higher up arches, and to blast piercing beam effects towards the city, cutting through the night skies.
This was a painstaking and laborious task in terms of rigging. The technical teams had to access the balcony and manually carry each individual fixture via a network of narrow, twisting staircases up to the first-floor level, and beyond that for the MegaPointes that were positioned even further up in the two towers.
Five MegaPointes a side were positioned inside the top of both the cathedral towers at elevation of 20 metres above the balcony. These were used to illuminate the underside of the tower vaulted ceilings which added depth and volume to the video mapping in this area and indeed to the whole picture.
Mika deployed three FORTES inside the cathedral, one central to illuminate the main rose window flanked by the other two left and right to back-light the two lancet windows of the facade.
Another eight FORTES were positioned at the back of the forecourt behind the audience at the control room level for key-lighting the artist and for picking out specific façade details like the magnificent huge central rose window.
Mika explained that the power of the FORTEs allowed him to “texture the Cathedral's facade both during the quiet moments as well as make major statements during the intense moments” of the narrative.
One idea with the lighting design was to be able to fragment and "cut" the façade vertically to create an illusion of parts disappearing or being removed from the overall picture thanks to the strong contrast between the lit and unlit areas.
“The accuracy and flatness of the FORTE shutters when 100 percent open and zoomed simply blew me away,” Mika stated. He thinks that no other light would have offered better functionality in these two areas: power and shutter linearity and accuracy.
Mika also appreciated the gobo and effects wheels, describing these as “incredible”, enabling him to produce spectacular effects during segments of the music that needed super-punchy lighting treatments.
He used a grandMA2 console for programming and running lighting, and all the lighting equipment was supplied by BDL Event group.
The get-in was completed over two days by a crew of 8 for lighting, video, audio and power including Jérémie Bellot from AV-Extended and technical director Martin Javouret. They worked with a local crew of eight stagehands.
This unique musical and visual show on Laon Cathedral was experienced live by over 2,500 spectators gathered in the square in front. Built in the 12th and 13th centuries, this seminal heritage site is one of the most important and stylistically unified examples of early French Gothic architecture.
The Monumental Tour is an incredible journey that germinated from Michael Canitrot’s love of music and monumental architecture and started during the Covid lockdown period, combining streamed live music performances and visual collaborations involving epic, iconic and outstanding monumental sites all around France. It started back in the summer of 2021 at the Phare des Baleines (Lighthouse of the Whales) on the Ile de Ré, and the previous show to this one at Laon Cathedral – with lighting also designed by Mikael Trochu (Mika) – was at the Chateau de Pierrefonds in the picturesque Oise region.
All these Monumental performances have involved the use of Robe moving lights.
photos: Geoffrey Hubbel, Jordan Beaufrere and Robe lighting France
27th September 2022
Ayrton Domino LT shines for Showtec at Singapore National Day Parade
Singapore – Showtec, one of the largest rental companies in South East Asia, purchased 40 Ayrton Domino LT luminaires from Total Solution Marketing Pte Ltd, Ayrton's exclusive distributor for Singapore, recently. The fixtures were subsequently used for the prestigious Singapore National Day Parade on 9th August 2022, one of the biggest events to be held in Singapore.
Showtec is one of the top professional entertainment technology companies in South East Asia and carries a very extensive range of equipment for every kind of event. Its inventory is backed by a team of highly proficient technicians who achieve fantastic results for everything from intimate concerts to large scale outdoor events.
Henry Ang, founder of Showtec, chose Ayrton Domino LT both to boost his rental stock and, specifically, for the National Day Parade. “We chose Ayrton Domino LT after a lot of research comparing it against other major moving light brands at the Prolight + Sound Frankfurt exhibition,” he says. “We found Domino LT to have the best combination of being IP65 rated, with an extremely bright LED engine, flat optics, great colour and good quality graphics.
“It was also very important for us to have good local support from the Ayrton distributor, Total Solution Marketing.”
Domino LT is the first all-terrain LED luminaire in Ayrton's ‘Long Throw’ range designed for intensive outdoor use in long-distance applications requiring extremely high precision.
“The Domino LT fixtures were immediately put to use for the National Day Parade 2022, which had two months of weekly rehearsals before the actual show on 9th August 2022,” says Ang. “Everybody was very happy with its long throw ability and qualities and, most importantly, the fact that it is extremely rugged, well-built and looks good.”
Singapore NDP lighting designer James Tan and associate lighting designer, Low Wee Cheng, are the first users of the Ayrton Domino LT for the prestigious National Day Parade. “We were first introduced to the Ayrton Domino LT by Henry from Showtec as there was a need to find a suitable IP65 protection rating luminaire for NDP22,” explains James Tan. “The total stage area this year was vast. The lighting coverage needed to accommodate the side-lighting of a large number of performers on the main stage deck, but also avoid some of the key projection looks.
“The Ayrton Domino LT, with its four individually positionable shutter blades and flexible rotating framing system module, gave us the ability to create almost theatre-like side lighting that could both punctuate the performers, but also avoid getting in the way of extensive projections on deck.
“We were particularly impressed that the Ayrton Domino LT could also efficiently double up as a beam light for air effects with its flexible beam aperture that could be reduced down to 3.5 degrees, but yet not lose effective lighting output. This was especially evident during the finale segments of the NDP22 where their performance could almost match other dedicated beam effect spot movers.
“Overall, the Ayrton Domino LT exceeded our expectations on all fronts and allowed us to vary our lighting design, undoubtedly serving as a versatile and reliable multi-function luminaire designed for intensive outdoor use.”
Low Wee Cheng was also impressed by Domino LT’s weatherproof qualities: “The Ayrton Domino LT is not only a bright lighting fixture, but its IP65 rating makes it an ideal lighting fixture for NDP 2022 as it had to last through the entire setup and show in hot sun and heavy rain.”
Safiee Sawal, project manager for Showtec, agrees: “The Domino LT’s durability and high build quality was great for the National Day Parade. We placed 32 fixtures outdoors without any cover or shelter for almost two months; there were some minor issues which under such harsh outdoor conditions for that amount of time is to be expected, but TSM provided us with a quick service turnaround and everything went extremely smoothly.
“Domino LT is the brightest long throw LED moving light profile we have ever seen, it has a very good beam quality and great colours.”
Ang concluded: “We are very happy with the performance and acceptance of Domino LT by lighting designers, and my technicians love it too. Going forward, the fixtures are already booked for other shows and they will be moving into the National Stadium one week after the NDP bumps out. We are keen to add more of these fixtures as we transition our lamp-based moving lights to LED. The Domino LT ticks all the boxes.”
“We are very grateful for the trust from Showtec on Ayrton products and thankful that they are the first company in Southeast Asia to choose and believe in the performance and durability of the Domino LT,” comments Tevin Heng, Executive Director of Total Solution Marketing Pte Ltd.
“We are excited to see Henry Ang and Showtec acknowledging, with their choice and investment, both the performance and quality of Ayrton products,” comments Michael Althaus, global sales director of Ayrton. “It’s great to welcome yet another big player in the fast growing Ayrton community.”
photos: Low Wee Cheng
27th September 2022
DiGiCo Quantum338 Consoles Aren’t Subject to Change for Kelsea Ballerini
USA – Country-pop singer/songwriter Kelsea Ballerini just released her fifth studio album, Subject to Change, on 23 September, following it up with the first US leg of her Heartfirst Tour kicking off at NYC’s Radio City Music Hall the very next day. What hasn’t changed, however, is her audio crew’s reliance on a pair of DiGiCo Quantum338 mixing consoles that Nashville-based Spectrum Sound has been supplying the artist with since her opening slot on last fall's Happiness Begins Tour with Jonas Brothers and Jordan McGraw.
Chris Diener has served as Ballerini’s production manager and FOH engineer since late 2017 when he joined the core crew during the release of her second album, Unapologetically. “My first show with Kelsea was actually in her high school gymnasium, a perfect acoustic environment for anyone’s first show, right?” he laughs.
Although Spectrum has provided control and PA packages for Ballerini since 2019, the switch to the Quantum platform last year was an “instant eye-opener,” says Diener. “I’ve been a DiGiCo user since 2012 when I first was able to get on an SD10, which I loved for its routing flexibility, user set-up versatility and Optocore integration, so transitioning to the Quantum interface was pretty exciting for us,” he says, referring to himself and monitor engineer Chris Newsom. “I had heard tale about the Mustard and Spice Rack features and was very curious as to what they were all about. When we first got on the desks, I spent a bunch of time going through each compressor, every preamp modeller, and all the new features. I found that I was really able to cut back on a lot of external processing and use what was on the console. The Quantum platform is a really great clean slate in which you can imprint your sonic signature of choice and paint whatever picture you’d like. The new features are also a great way to get into some new but time-honoured sonic colouration.”
In addition appreciating the Quantum processing, Diener notes that he finds the console’s worksurface to be intuitively laid out and remarkably efficient. “It has everything I need on the top layer and it’s just incredibly fast for me now,” he shares. “I have Kelsea’s vocal on the first master fader and I use the second master fader for a delay throw. The Macro section is huge for me as well; I have a pair of nearfields that I can manipulate what is being sent to on the fly. And, again, I can’t say enough about how I’ve loving the Mustard processing. The FET and VCA comps are a huge favourite of mine. I love the preamp model on things like snare and bass. And the flexibility of the DMI cards is also a huge plus, there are just so many options to tailor this console to my specific needs.”
For the Heartfirst Tour, Diener reports that he’s working with approximately 80 inputs split between an SD-Rack and SD-MiNi Rack on stage, both fully loaded with 32-bit I/O modules, which are “yet another level to the high headroom transparency that is DiGiCo,” he says. Another SD-MiNi Rack, also loaded with 32-bit cards, is stationed at FOH to handle some outboard duties. “Everything comes in to the SD-Racks and gain is set by Chris onstage,” he says. “It all comes to me via Optocore and right out the Copy Audio page to my record computer via a DiGiGrid MGB interface. And, for what it’s worth, being able to share a rack with my monitor engineer and pass audio back and forth over the Console Send and Receive ports is just such an absolute convenience.”
Diener takes a stemmed approach to his mix with the Quantum338 that helps keep things in groups and gives him the ability to process parts or combinations of parts. “Kicks are processed individually on the channel side, then bussed to a kick group,” he describes. “The kick group goes to both ‘drum dry’ and ‘drum crush’ groups, and then the drum groups go to a band group prior to the master bus. I do the same with electrics, acoustics, keys, and et cetera. It’s nice to be able to process each of these parts as much or as little at any point in the chain. Everyone has their way of doing things, but this is why I love the DiGiCo architecture. Group to group is my approach and I find a lot of flexibility there.”
For Chris Newsom, who is manning monitor mixes for Ballerini and her band, DiGiCo has long been his desk of choice, too, going back to an SD8 in 2015. “When I came into the Kelsea camp last year, the Quantum338 was already in place for me, so it was an easy transition,” he says. “I am mixing for five musicians and three techs, and we run all IEMs and a drum sub.” The instrumentation is a combination of live drums, bass, and guitars, both electric and acoustic, as well as tracks.
“Mix-wise, I like to keep things simple,” he continues. “I came up mixing on analogue consoles and I still try to mix as analogue-like as possible. That being said, I do enjoy being able to create macros on the Quantum338 to assist me with some cues for my musicians during the performance. Not having to leave Kelsea’s mix to make a change or look down at the screen to make sure the correct row of knobs is highlighted and ready to be turned gives me some piece of mind during the shows. I love mixing on a DiGiCo and particularly enjoy having the three touchscreens of this console at my disposal. The more information I can have without having to go searching, the better.”
Diener also appreciates the Quantum338’s screens, especially their stunning 1000-nit brightness. “The touch screens are great and highly visible in the daylight, which is wonderful,” he says. “It’s always fun to take the console lid off each day and watch the people flock over to check them out.”
Products are truly only as good as their related levels service and support, and he adds that DiGiCo has that in spades. “We have been really fortunate to be in the position we’re in to use such fine products and work with the great people at both Spectrum Sound and Group One [DiGiCo’s US distributor]. It’s not lost on us that we are using some of the best audio products in the world and it’s an honour to be able to do that each day. The people at both of these companies are fantastic and it’s super comforting to know if that if I ever have a question or an issue, I can immediately get on the phone and someone will have an answer. The knowledge base is so vast and the community is so helpful, and those levels of service and support combined with great reliability are a few of the main reasons that we keep asking for DiGiCo on our touring riders.”
27th September 2022
RÜFÜS DU SOL turns up the heat in Prague with KV2
Czech Republic – Award-winning Australian electronic dance music combo RÜFÜS DU SOL is currently in the midst of a world tour that has taken them throughout Europe before heading over to the US and terminating in Australia (via New Zealand) at the end of the year. The group has enjoyed huge success in their native Australia and has since relocated to Los Angeles to further their international reputation, clearly now well established as the band has just received a 2022 Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording for ‘Alive’, the lead single from their fourth studio album, ‘Surrender’. As part of their European tour, the trio recently played a sold-out gig in Prague at the 3,000-capacity Forum Karlin using KV2’s flagship VHD5 system.
RÜFÜS DU SOL’s relationship with KV2 began in earnest last year in early 2021 when KV2’s technical support director for the APAC region, Angus Davidson – himself a highly respected FoH engineer – met Cam Trewin, a Melbourne-based studio and live sound engineer. “Cam had recorded a live set with RÜFÜS DU SOL at The Joshua Tree in the Mojave Desert which had been mixed in Dolby Atmos for the video in Los Angeles,” explains Davidson. “I told him about Red Road Immersive, the Dolby Atmos studio I had built during lockdown. He then talked to the band and they decided to remix the live set at Red Road for release on Apple Music.”
The studio is based around 14 x KV2 EX Series speakers and is the first studio in APAC to be certified by Dolby. Trewin was extremely impressed with the sound of the KV2 9.1.4 Dolby Atmos system, as was Dale Becker from Becker Mastering in LA, who commented: “Wow, friend, you do quite the incredible work. This translates to my room perfectly. I'm so impressed!” The live set made it to Number 3 on the Apple Spatial Hits playlist and is still up there over a year later.
Fast forward to August 2022 and RÜFÜS DU SOL are in Prague as part of their European tour. The opportunity arises for the band to use KV2’s flagship VHD5 system, and thanks to Trewin’s extremely positive experience with KV2 products at Red Road Immersive and then at the legendary New York club, Avant Gardner, he jumps at the chance. “RÜFÜS played the Cityfox Odyssey over New Year’s Eve at Avant Gardner this year, and they loved it,” remarks Davidson. “Avant Gardner is one of our biggest VHD5 installations to date and sounds amazing. Cam was delighted to be able to use one in Prague.”
In conjunction with UK-based production company, Production Value, who was responsible for the European leg of the tour, KV2 supplied a VHD5 system for main left and right, plus 16 VHD4.0 subwoofers combined with four VHD218J subwoofers in a cardioid configuration. Four EX26 provided front fill. “It was great to hear the VHD5 system stretch its legs on the RÜFÜS DU SOL gig, for me it really confirmed its standing as the best large format point source system on the planet,” says Davidson.
Cam Trewin was just as enthusiastic: “I was very impressed with the power output of the VHD5 system and the even coverage and clarity in the top-end. The subs had great low information and response, especially for a show like RÜFÜS DU SOL which demands clean undistorted sound with powerful bottom-end.”
27th September 2022
Creamfields’ concept stage a big success for Solotech and Martin Audio WPL
UK – cinch presents Creamfields North celebrated its 25th anniversary in style in the village of Daresbury, its home since 2006. The site in Cheshire again played host to the dance world’s premier brand, and with it a selection of global DJ superstars over August Bank Holiday weekend.
The biggest EDM event in the UK, hosting 250 artists over the four days, it comprised up to 12 stages, two of which were serviced by Capital Sound (a Solotech company) which has a long history of supporting the event, both in the north and south.
Headliners this year included Calvin Harris, David Guetta and Hardwell amongst others, all performing alongside the likes of Becky Hill, Bicep Live, Eric Prydz, Patrick Topping, Pete Tong, Martin Garrix, Jax Jones, Scooter and Armin van Buuren.
All the performances were DJ playback, and as is customary, each of the stages changed name on a daily basis. Working alongside production director Ian Greenway of LarMac Live, Solotech were responsible for ‘Stage 3’ – a large TFS structure – and the outdoor stage 8 ‘Runway Stage’, which saw the introduction of a new ‘concept stage’.
Stage 3 began as a Silent Disco as did all opening stages on the Thursday, changing to ‘Catch And Release’ ‘Stmpd Records’ and ‘MK Presents’ on the successive days. The key nights were Saturday when Martin Garrix headlined and on Sunday where MK revved up the audience hosting his own Arena line up.
Solotech fielded 11 MLA elements with an MLD Downfill at the base on both sides of the stage; further front fills were provided by four Martin Audio DD12, while an array of 13 MLX subwoofers in cardioid ran across the front. Set back in the rear of the compound were two delay masts of ten MLA Compact enclosures, ground stacked on risers. Overseeing this for Solotech was system technician and crew chief, Olly Fallon.
Stage 8 came alive as Paradise on the Friday, transforming into Trick on the Saturday and Solid Grooves on the Sunday. This stage was designed as a unique self-supporting, eight-leg truss structure, from which a WPL PA was flown. The upstage goalposts (left and right) supported WPL, and delays consisted of two hangs of eight WPS, were flown from the last goalposts of the truss structure.
Rayne Ramsden, crew chief and system tech on this stage, reported that as the first time WPL had been used in this context it was a fantastic success. He said he had received a number of compliments from crews and crowds alike. “The coverage was exceptional, from the front to the very back,” he stated, adding that dance fans surged in to extend the area back some 40 metres beyond the FOH position. “Even with that extra capacity WPL catered for the extended throw distance with no trouble at all,” he confirmed.
The complement of speakers that made that possible were hangs of 13 WPL with a further three WPL fills down on each side of the stage upstage from the main PA hangs. These were supported by an additional four DD12, providing extra front fills, and a broadside array of 13 MLX subwoofers, providing the all-important LF extension.
Solotech senior project manager, Martin Connolly, described the event as an outstanding success, and the experiment with the eight-legged free-standing structure as a revelation.
Ian Greenway added: “We know Solotech well, and their willingness to adapt and overcome at Creamfields is more important than ever as we start to migrate to newer and more unique structures. With two Creamfields festivals a year now, we’re looking forward to further developing the relationship.”
In fact Creamfields marked its 25th year by launching a second edition: Creamfields South, which was staged early June at Hylands Park in Chelmsford and attracted 50,000 dance music fans.
photos: Andrew Benge
27th September 2022
Audient Audio Interfaces Go Down a Storm at Decoy Studios’ VIP Writing Camps
UK – Audient’s iD14 and iD44 were essential pieces of kit for this summer’s writing camps hosted at Cenzo Townshend’s Suffolk-based Decoy Studios. Attended by industry giants including Ed Sheeran, Lewis Capaldi, Clean Bandit, Sam Smith, Anne-Marie, Stargate, Medusa, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson, Max Martin, Steve Mac, Billen Ted and many others, the writing camps have been so popular that further audio interfaces were needed to meet demand!
Attendees are spread across the four independent studios: live room, control room, library and writing room. Those that are set up in either the library or writing room only require a couple of mic pres which is where iD14 comes in. Decoy Studios’ Camden Clarke explains what they love about the Audient interfaces in particular: “The pace of writing camps tends to be very quick. They need the equipment to be easy to use and quick to set up so that they can track top liners as ideas come to them.
“With the new iD14 you’re able to use phantom power without a power supply and don’t need to download a driver in order for the interface to be working. Clients often use this interface in series with a Sontronics Mercury and Distressor giving them great results.” Exactly what they’re after.
The live room, which has far more instruments on offer, comes complete with Audient’s larger iD44 audio interface. “This allows them four mic pres which are usually used for vocal, guitar and piano left and right.”
Each of the studio spaces can host between three and five songwriters. “The artist tends to jump between the rooms throughout the day, allowing them to collaborate with different groups of songwriters over a one to two-week camp. With this type of session we can expect anywhere between five and 20 writers using the studio,” continues Camden.
Decoy Studios also boasts the Nero from Audient, which centralises and connects all monitoring via one desktop controller. “Using either of the audio interface units with the Nero gives songwriters the perfect set-up as they often request a monitor station which provides them with multiple headphone levels,” he says.
Writing camps are organised by the artists’ management or label, and according to Camden, have been a great success this year. “Decoy Studios offers well equipped rooms, naturally lit spaces and acres of beautiful surrounding countryside. This combination provides clients the workspace they need to collaborate talent, minimise distraction and maximise the creation of new music.”