THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS Electronica pioneers and their crew take to the stage for the first time since late 2019 for a headline show at Latitude
NEVILL HOLT OPERA d&b audiotechnik Soundscape recreates an opera-house experience in an outdoor environment
CIRCA WAVES Brixton Academy welcomes back live music and roadies after 18 long months of enforced inactivity
GORILLAZ 517 days in the making
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WELCOME TO A NEW CHAPTER… As the live events industry begins to emerge from the catastrophic effects of COVID-19, we at TPi believe that it is the ideal time to give our beloved magazine a bit of a facelift. The more observant of you will have already noticed that as well as a slick new design, this issue is marked ‘September/October’. No, this is not a misprint… we are taking TPi bimonthly. This decision has been taken for a multitude of reasons. However, the first and most important thing to note is that each issue moving forward will essentially be a double edition, so there will be no drop-off in the quantity of articles or the quality of coverage. On the contrary, this change has been made to give the TPi team more time to do more site visits, both in the UK and internationally, covering the biggest and best productions in even greater detail. As well as a more in-depth print publication, the bimonthly cycle will also allow us to put even greater resources into our digital offering, with more original video content, online articles and social media exclusives giving our followers genuine 360° coverage of the live events industry. With this redesign comes several new sections in the magazine, including one that I am incredibly excited about: Feedback. While we are proud of the original content TPi produces for every issue, we are keen to welcome some new voices into the magazine. Feedback is a section that does exactly that, allowing industry thought-leaders a space to express their views on the major issues. For example, this month, James Gordon and Tony Williams discuss the difficulties facing manufacturers in 2021, with the global shortages of everything from steel to silicon chips [p104]; PSA’s Dave Keighley and Chris Parry-Jones of Gallowglass share the issues of crew shortages [p102] and The Zoo XYZ’s Nadu Placca describes the response to her Black in the Boardroom report [p107]. Another addition to the new-look TPi will be the greater inclusion of digital event coverage. After covering everything from streaming to hybrid and virtual events for over a year-and-a-half, we want to continue to follow these stories as the technology becomes ever present within album cycles. In our September/October issue for example, we have coverage of The Heavy Music Awards – a hybrid event at O2 Forum Kentish Town [p60]. As for the rest of the issue, it gives me great pleasure to say that in-person events are well and truly back. Jacob paid a visit to the grand opening of the O2 with the one and only Gorillaz [p38]; we took a behind-the-scenes look at The Chemical Brothers’ outstanding headline slot at Latitude [p28]; and I headed down to the Nevill Holt Opera to see how d&b audiotechnik Soundscape offered an elegant solution to bring the company’s summer season outdoors [p52]. There’s also coverage of some of the summer’s biggest festivals, from Lollapalooza to Reading & Leeds and everything in-between, in our Festival Focus section [p74]. On behalf of the entire TPi team, thanks for your continuing support. We are so excited to start on this next chapter and, of course, get out there to see you all face-to-face again. Until then, Stew Hume Editor
Issue #265 September/October 2021 Editor Stew Hume Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7702 054344 e-mail: email@example.com Assistant Editor Jacob Waite Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7592 679612 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Contributing Editor Peter Iantorno Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7763 233637 e-mail: email@example.com Digital Content Manager James Robertson Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7725 475819 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Commercial Director Hannah Eakins Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7760 485230 e-mail: email@example.com Account Manager Fran Begaj Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7852 336728 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Chief Executive Justin Gawne Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7768 850767 e-mail: email@example.com Accounts Lynette Levi / Sarah Miller: firstname.lastname@example.org Mondiale Group Chairman Damian Walsh Graphic Design & Production Dan Seaton: email@example.com Mel Capper: firstname.lastname@example.org Cover Photo Gorillaz by Luke Dyson Printed By Buxton Press • www.buxpress.co.uk Annual subscriptions (including P&P): £42 (UK), £60 (Europe), £78/$125 (RoW). Subscription enquiries to: Subscriptions, Mondiale Media Limited, Strawberry Studios, Watson Square, Stockport, SK1 3AZ, UK. Tel: +44 (0)161 476 5580 Fax: +44 (0)161 476 0456 e-mail: email@example.com www.tpimagazine.com www.tpiawards.com
TOTAL PRODUCTION INTERNATIONAL is a controlled circulation magazine, published 12 times a year by Mondiale Media Limited under licence. ISSN 1461-3786 Copyright © 2021 Mondiale Media Limited. All contents of this publication are subject to worldwide copyright protection and reproduction in whole or part, in any form whatsoever, is expressly forbidden without the prior written consent of the Publishers. Every effort is taken to ensure accuracy in the preparation of this publication but neither Mondiale Media Ltd, nor the Editor, can be held responsible for its contents or any consequential loss or damage resulting from information published. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Publishers or Editor. The Publishers accept no responsibility for the return of unsolicited manuscripts, photographs, illustrations, advertising materials or artwork. Total Production International USPS: (ISSN 1461 3786) is published 12 times a year by Mondiale Media Limited United Kingdom. The 2021 US annual subscription price is 117USD. Airfreight and mailing in the USA by Agent named Air Business, C/O WorldNet Shipping USA Inc., 155-11 146th Avenue, Jamaica, New York, NY11434. Periodicals postage paid at Jamaica NY 11431. US Postmaster: Send address changes to Total Production International, Air Business Ltd, C/O WorldNet Shipping USA Inc., 155-11 146th Avenue, Jamaica, New York, NY11434. Subscription records are maintained at Mondiale Media Ltd. Waterloo Place, Watson Square, Stockport, SK1 3AZ, UK.
ON THE COVER YOUR PARTNER FOR STAGE & STUDIO LIFTING EQUIPMENT
Marking the venue’s first live shows in 517 days, O2 arena hosts Gorillaz.
BEHIND THE SCREENS 8 GRiZ
Rainbow Brain: The Movie crew reflect on the tech-savvy project.
12 DJ KAAZE
RJ Music deploys ADJ lighting fixtures for DJ Mag Virtual festival.
Behind the world’s first XR Jazz show, broadcast on BBC Click.
18 MADISON BEER
Sony Music rewrites the rules of virtual shows with Unreal Engine.
EVENT FOCUS 20 TIPPER @ RED ROCKS
Electronic composer visits Red Rocks with Funktion-One Vero.
The manufacturer hosts a 50th anniversary open day.
24 MARTIN AUDIO
PRODUCTION PROFILE 28 THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS
An in-depth look at the band’s headline Latitude performance.
Recreating the magic of the Opera in an outdoor environment.
52 NEVILL HOLT OPERA
60 HEAVY MUSIC AWARDS
Organisers stage a hybrid show for in-person and Twitch crowds.
68 CIRCA WAVES
Battle-hardened roadies reopen a string of O2 venues on tour.
FESTIVAL FOCUS 74 Leeds & Reading, Rolling Loud,
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BEHIND THE SCREENS
GRIZ: RAINBOW BRAIN THE MOVIE To mark the release of his seventh studio album, Rainbow Brain, multi-instrumentalist and producer, GRiZ embarks on a technologically advanced livestream experience, bringing his creative vision to life with the help of tech-savvy creatives and production crew.
Words: Jacob Waite Photos: Frankie Zarantonello
Filmed at the Mission Ballroom in Denver, US, Rainbow Brain The Movie was an immersive, theatrical livestream performance that transported viewers into four on-screen universes, changing in colour and theme to reflect the narrative of GRiZ’s seventh studio album, Rainbow Brain. A nod to the renaissance of bass music and dubstep’s golden age, the production featured striking visuals, special guests, and a combination of bespoke production and virtual elements. “It’s an imagination of the place I would escape to while working on the album – the place where these songs lived visually in my brain,” GRiZ informed TPi, explaining the creative concept of the project and praising the technical production crew involved. Production Designer, Kyle Kegan and Lighting Director, Ian Davis pulled out all the stops to devise the visuals for a six-figure production to accompany the livestream and bring it to life, harnessing the creative capabilities of production companies, Verax Creative, Creative Butter, Boulder Media House, Voyage Productions, Quantum FX, Dark Moon Designs. “GRiZ had the vision,
and we brought it to life for him,” Kegan began, modestly. “COVID-19 has impacted us heavily on the live music front, making it near impossible to put on any live event. This came about as a result of GRiZMAS,” he said, referencing a broadcast the team produced in place of their annual live show in December. “That show matured into Rainbow Brain The Movie, which is the culmination of months of work on the entire team’s part.” Rainbow Brain The Movie was shot during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, so performing artists and technical production crew were tested and wore masks, adhering to social distancing rules as much as possible throughout the production. “We also did this with as minimal crew as possible and everyone really stepped up to help in areas that are usually spread across a larger team,” Kegan said, acknowledging the devastating effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sector’s workforce. “We have kept in touch with as many people as possible during these tough times. If we had it our way, we would have loved to have everyone out for this show.” The livestream was much like a
broadcast; two computers in one location connected to fibre internet to encode a 4K and a HD stream, while the team utilised a cloud-based re-streaming server. “The speed of innovation in live events will continue to increase rapidly. With the help of technology, there are more ways to connect with others than ever before,” Kegan said, referencing the potential of transporting an at-home audience via Zoom into any live visual experience. “The power of chat is also important to the online streaming experience and just by bringing that onto the stage and into the room, people instantly become connected to the conversation happening online. With quality video production, those on the chat can start to feel more connected to the real world while sitting in the comfort of their home.” Helping bring the project to life was a Brown Note Productions lighting rig, which boasted 48 Robe Mega Pointes and five BMFL Blades, 24 Elation Professional Dartz 360s, 24 Martin By Harman VDO Sceptrons, six Elation Professional SEVEN Batten LEDs, and eight Astera LED Titan Tubes, all controlled by an MA Lighting grandMA3 full size and additional
BEHIND THE SCREENS
grandMA3 Lite console. Not shying away from powerful looks, Quantum FX supplied a range of lasers, including four 22W, eight 11W and a single 30W. Kegan and Davis – assisted by Lighting Tech, Blake Addington, Laser Programmer, Mike Morgenstern, and Laser Tech, Ryan Berry – programmed the show through timecode using an MA Lighting grandMA3. “During the pandemic, we traded in our grandMA2 hardware for a grandMA3 light. We spent some time with the software and figured this was the perfect project to test drive it. Being a semi live shoot, we knew we had the perfect opportunity to push new software and hardware alike,” Kegan added. “We are excited to see where the software takes us over the next few years.” On the broadcast side, there were two big challenges with this project: the short dropout on YouTube where their PC was encoding but YouTube wasn’t receiving, and the timing in starting each stream, with each experiencing a delay on Facebook, Twitch, and YouTube. “We had to calculate the time that it took to hit the server and show on each site and then
once we hit play on all PCs, we counted and hit Go Live on each social media site as the stream came in with the opening sounds and sights of the movie,” Kegan said, selling it as far more than a ‘one-button press’ operation. In addition to lighting and lasers, the project featured custom set fabrications from Dark Moon Designs. Custom willow trees were crafted out of fiberglass, foam and LED branches with 3D printed leaves, overseen by Fabrication Designers, Natalia Janusz and Paul Thomas. “This was the central focus of the story as we stepped through various production looks with the LED rings, fabricated by Dark Moon Designs,” Kegan said. “These elements combined created some visually stunning looks.” GRiZ outlined the laser banding shot as one of his favourite moments. “Seeing the way that it was captured through the lens. I also really enjoyed working with the tree that we made. We’ve never worked with fabricated set pieces – especially something that we could shoot in 360°, which really gave us a unique opportunity at different shots.” According to Kegan, there is a connection between the
fans, the artists and everyone involved at a live show which is unquantifiable. “Everyone in the industry pushed the boundaries of technology to bring people the best experiences possible, but there is no replacement for live music,” he said, acknowledging that constraint often breeds innovation. “However, I am excited to see how we take everything we learned and bring it into the live aspects of these shows. There were so many smiles and laughs getting everyone back in the same room together again. We all had a great time off but were ready to be back in the thick of what we love.” Far from a one-off, this project marks the beginning of a brand-new cycle for the GRiZ production team. “This is just the beginning of where we all want to take this project visually. It’s all about outdoing what we’ve done in the past and with what we have planned for the future, we truly believe that bringing this show to the large scale will be something unique,” he continued. “We have seen and been a part of exactly that. I think we’re going to see more creative ways of doing things as our industry evolves – especially now that we have
harnessed the power of new technologies that may not have been around for us so soon.” The wider technical production team included Production Manager, Stuart Karmatz and Production Assistant, Andrew Frost; Director, Michael Kirton; Producer, Tori Soper; Directors of Photography, Bailey Miclette and Tomas Morgan; FPV Drone Pilot, Troy Fairbanks; Camera Operators: Austin Nicklas and Wayne Schultheis; Editor, Tomas Morgan; Set Photographer, Frankie Zarantonello; Broadcast Engineer, Nick Bogannam; and Production Assistants, Zack Altschuler, Emma Harris and Parker Jones. Optimistic for the future, GRiZ hopes to take his concept on the road. “I’m excited to play in some of our largest and most curated spaces yet and take the Rainbow Brain The Movie approach into large arenas. We’re also bringing along the fabricated tree to some of these events, where people will be able to witness the audio-visual experience with the tree as we bring new life to it.” www.mynameisgriz.com www.brownnote.com www.q-sfx.com
BEHIND THE SCREENS
ADJ LIGHTS KAAZE SET AT DJ MAG VIRTUAL FESTIVAL RJ Music Show Equipment deploys ADJ lighting fixtures for Swedish DJ/Producer KAAZE’s virtual festival performance.
A selection of ADJ lighting fixtures were used to enhance the visual aesthetic of Swedish DJ/Producer, KAAZE’s performance at the DJ Mag Virtual Festival, organised to coincide with voting for the publication’s Top 100 DJs poll and to raise money for Unicef. Despite lots of ambient light on the set of the shoot, ADJ’s Vizi Beam 12RX fixtures were able to punch through to create vivid aerial effects, while automated Vizi Wash Z19 and static 32 HEX Panel IP wash fixtures provided accent lighting for both the industrial backdrop and KAAZE. To produce his virtual
festival performance, KAAZE’s management brought in Project Manager, Robin Johannesma and his Netherlands-based company, RJ Music Show Equipment. “KAAZE was looking for an industrial vibe and was fed up of livestreaming, so wanted to do something ‘next level’ for his DJ Mag set,” Johannesma commented. “He wanted more of a cinematic vibe, so that it would stand out as different from a regular livestream. However, we still wanted lighting to add beams and effects to keep the video visually interesting. That’s where our
new Vizi Beam 12RX fixtures from ADJ really came in, as they are bright enough to punch through even when it’s not that dark.” For the KAAZE DJ Mag Virtual Festival shoot, RJ Music provided a full-service production service, which included project management as well as the supply of the all-ADJ lighting rig. Johannesma brought in Editor, Zilver Schmitz for the videography. The venue of choice was Cultuur Haven Veghel, an industrial complex that has been converted into a multi-room event space. “This provided the industrial aesthetic KAAZE had requested while also having the power and other necessary infrastructure and facilities in place,” Johannesma remarked. Six Vizi Beam 12RX moving heads were at the heart of the lighting rig, positioned in a line on the floor of the venue behind the DJ position, allowing for aerial effects to be projected up and over KAAZE as he performed. “The output of the Vizi Beam 12RX is incredible,” enthused Johannesma. “Even in daylight you can see the beam very well. We did an A-B test against another very popular – and more expensive – beam fixture and we found it to be better in every way. It is very fast, I really like the selection of colours and it has all the features we need. We were very pleased with how it performed on the KAAZE shoot and will be using it for lots more projects in the future.” The team deployed four Vizi Wash Z19 moving head wash fixtures for the project, placed directly on the floor of the venue – although further back and tucked in close to the side walls of the warehouse-style
space. “The Vizi Wash Z19 is a really good and versatile LED wash,” said Johannesma. “It works very well as a wash companion to the Vizi Beam 12RX’s super tight beams. It is also a multifunctional fixture that we can use for lots of things, from creating beam effects, to backlighting DJs, to lighting large areas.” Completing the lighting setup were four ADJ 32 HEX Panel IP static LED wash fixtures. One was positioned directly behind KAAZE as a backlight while the others were positioned
against the venue’s walls to provide coloured accent lighting. “We already had some of the 7P HEX IP LED pars, which we have been very happy with, so adding the 32 HEX Panel IP to our stock was an easy decision,” stated Johannesma. “It is outdoor-rated, so we never have to worry about where we use it, and the colours match our LED par fixtures. The optics are also very good and the output is extremely bright. We currently have eight of these fixtures and I
think we’re likely to invest in another eight. They are a great addition to our rental stock.” Combined, the beams and washes, movement and static colours of this all-ADJ lighting setup served to perfectly enhance KAAZE’s performance while maintaining his creative vision for an industrial, cinematic, and light look. www.adj.com www.rjmusic.nl www.zilverschmitz.nl
BEHIND THE SCREENS
BEHIND THE WORLD’S FIRST XR JAZZ SHOW Animatrik Founder, Brett Ineson reveals how his team at Shocap Entertainment harness mocap and XR technology to produce a unique virtual performance.
Vancouver-based Animatrik is one of the largest dedicated performance capture and virtual production studios in the world – facilitating the creation of motion capture shoots for huge video games, such as Gears of War, and blockbuster movies, such as Avengers: End Game. Over the past year, the studio has pivoted towards virtual production and live virtual performances – with Founder, Brett Ineson co-creating Shocap Entertainment to produce original XR music shows, including the world’s first XR jazz show on BBC Click. Produced by Shocap Entertainment, the unique virtual performance saw famed jazz singer, Jill Barber perform a Christmas setlist in an entirely virtual Palomar Supper club with a digital band. The venue was digitally
resurrected in CG to house the band and facilitate a transatlantic interview between BBC presenter, Paul Carter and Barber. Ineson oversaw the deployment of mocap for the band – this involved placing motion sensors on instruments, reordering the band setup, synching motion data with audio recordings and CG, and finer details, such as capturing drums with cameras while avoiding the reflective sheen. This data then needed to be synched and presented live, ensuring the musicians were comfortable and able to perform properly. Animatrik’s Vancouver studio was set up with 70 Optitrack cameras by Natural Point to capture the musicians who were all wearing motion capture suits. Unreal Engine programming was harnessed to create
a queuing system, managed by Shocap Entertainment’s Athomas Goldberg. The show required full motion capture performers and simulcam XR as well as Ncam technology for the simulcam. “We used GIANT software to retarget the characters in real-time. There were also several static cameras recording the performance alongside one closeup camera using NCAM to track all of Jill’s movements,” Ineson said, explaining how accurate compositing was applied to synchronise Jill Barber’s image with the virtual plate at all times during moving camera shots. Because Barber was recorded live and the musicians were rendered as CG assets, the team could offset the musicians in the space and set things up in a way that would be counterintuitive to any natural live setup. “The musicians were placed on the other side of the room facing Jill, rather than behind, as their CG assets appear in the CG performance,” Ineson said, highlighting that this made it far easier for Jill to be keyed out against the green screen in the performance. “It had a unique effect on the dynamics of the performance – the band could take direct cues from her in ways that would have been impossible if the musicians were physically positioned behind.” The instruments also had to be motion tracked, with special considerations made when tracking the drum kit in particular. “The symbols, for instance, have a strong reflection, which can potentially disrupt the motion capture cameras’ ability to track the movement, so we needed to mask the particularly reflective parts,” Ineson said, referencing marker positioning as key so as
BEHIND THE SCREENS
not to significantly change the sound of the kit during recording. “Recording visuals, sound and motion capture simultaneously requires extra consideration,” he remarked. Despite the success of the venture, Ineson believes that while livestreaming has its place for the here and now, performers will still desire an in-person audience when it is safe to do so. The technological adaptations using mixed reality and livestreaming are definitely here to stay – they will likely expand what’s possible, rather than replace the live experience every musician and fan knows and loves,” Ineson theorised. “It’s about finding the way to bridge the gap – there’s the potential to have virtual hybrids, using the technology to enhance the in-person experience while providing remote experiences simultaneously.” THE GAMIFICATION OF LIVE EVENTS Notwithstanding the COVID-19 pandemic, Animatrik’s work is and always has been live – the only difference is the presence of an in-person audience. “Real-time visualisation is an important tool in the production of films and games. In those cases, the audience is only around 50 behind-the-scenes people
at a time. Live events are business as usual in many ways, the cost of failure is infinitely greater with a large consumer audience on the other side though,” Ineson said, recalling the event sector’s newfound focus on the same real-time technology used for video games and movies now applied to live and virtual experiences. “It’s a trend that was definitely growing ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic but has since exploded in its use.” Not necessarily married to any brand name or piece of kit, Animatrik constantly seeks and evaluates new and emerging technologies. At the time of writing, Optitrack cameras and Lightstorm Entertainment software feature on both the team’s LA and Vancouver stages. “We have further developed our own technology to manage the production and utilisation of this hardware and software,” Ineson remarked. This year, Animatrik added a large LED wall from Promosa – something that is commonplace for virtual production shoots in broadcast and live events, Ineson assures. “We hosted CBC’s NYE Countdown to 2021 performance with Canadian singer-songwriter, Lights. The artist performed on stage with Felix Cartel and generated a range of visual
effects and lights using the LED wall behind her,” Ineson said, adding that the same wall was also used to generate live CG visuals for a mixed reality circus performance. “A lot depends on how the entertainment industry takes shape in the coming months,” Ineson said, responding to whether he believes the onus on live music XR experiences will continue postpandemic. “If there are further restrictions on live entertainment, there could be more opportunities to conduct virtual concerts.” However, as things open, Ineson expects there’s a higher chance of hybrid models that take aspects from virtual setups and integrate them into in-person performances. For Animatrik, 2021 will see the continuation of online productions. “There’s some pent-up demand that we are getting ready to engage. We have some more simulcam-style shows to develop, as well as many straight-up performance capture projects, across film, live performance, and video games,” Ineson concluded. “It’s great to be back on set on a regular basis and we’re excited to share news on a lot more projects soon.” www.animatrik.com
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BEHIND THE SCREENS
THE MADISON BEER IMMERSIVE REALITY CONCERT EXPERIENCE Sony Music’s ‘digital Madison Beer’ project rewrites the rules of virtual concerts, harnessing the creative capabilities of Unreal Engine.
Photos: Hyperreal & Epic Records
While most concerts are limited by worldly constraints, a virtual concert can be whatever an artist wants it to be, giving them the power to shape fan experiences and realise fantastical concepts at a much higher level than is possible in real life. The Madison Beer Immersive Reality Concert Experience takes this idea and runs with it, turning one piece of content into the type of transmedia campaign that can thrill fans from YouTube to VR. For all the leeway afforded to them by 3D, the production team — led by Sony Immersive Music Studios, Magnopus, Gauge Theory Creative, and Hyperreal — still saw value in maintaining a measure of realism. “When we started with a blank canvas, our creative goal was to construct a virtual concert through photoreal recreations of a real venue and a real artist, but which also layered in enough magic to reimagine the concert experience itself,” said Head of Sony Immersive Music Studios. “You start with things that are totally plausible in a physical setting, because that’s what’s going to make your fans get into it and accept the experience,” said Magnopus CoFounder, Alex Henning. “Once you’ve got them hooked with that kernel of truth, you start to
build on top of that with the fantastical.” Hyperreal started by capturing Madison’s face and body with two separate arrays of high-resolution camera systems in Los Angeles. The first system produced a volume for her face, neck, and shoulders, as it recorded photometric data at the sub-pore level. By capturing the way she moved from every angle, Hyperreal was able to get enough data to construct an ultra-realistic avatar, or “HyperModel,” that steers clear of the Uncanny Valley. With the help of 200 cameras, Madison’s body, muscles, and shape were then recorded in a range of biomechanical positions to ensure deformation accuracy in Hyperreal’s real-time HyperRig system. After adding Madison’s preferred performance gear, Hyperreal brought the avatar into Unreal Engine to experiment with movement before the live capture session at PlayStation Studios in LA. While this was happening, Magnopus was hard at work on the venue and VFX systems. After considering a full LiDAR scan, Sony Immersive Music Studios decided to construct the venue from scratch to allow them more control over the lighting. They started with the original CAD files, which
were imported into Autodesk Maya and given the full artistic treatment, including all the nuances that make Sony Hall unique. Magnopus was then able to build upon that with lighting and VFX effects. “Sony Hall is an intimate venue with a lot of character, detail and beauty, which made it an ideal environment for the experience” said Spahr. “It is also great for VR, because of the scale. It’s not a giant, cavernous arena or a tiny hole-inthe-wall club,” said Henning. “It’s got almost the perfect amount of dimension.” Magnopus made use of Unreal Engine’s built-in virtual scouting tools to get their cameras set up so they could test the lighting before diving into the special effects. VIRTUAL MUSIC PRODUCTION BENEFITS Unlike most motion capture shoots, The Madison Beer Immersive Concert Experience was a remote affair driven by teams across the US. In LA, Madison Beer was in a mocap suit and head-mounted camera. In Philadelphia, Hyperreal CEO, Remington Scott was directing her in real-time, using a VR headset that not only allowed him to view Madison’s avatar face-to-face live within the virtual Sony Hall, but adhere to the COVID-19 restrictions that were keeping them apart.
After the motion capture shoot was completed and the experience was polished, Cameraman and Gauge Theory Creative Managing Director, Tom Glynn was able to build out the shot selections for the final 9.5 minute performance. “There are moments where you can’t believe this was done in a game engine,” remarked Glynn, surprised about how easy a virtual production experience could be on a cameraman. In two days, they recorded hundreds of takes, ensuring that they could get any shot they wanted. “If there was one thing about this that was a challenge, it was, ‘I have so many good shots, I don’t know which one to use!’” Glynn was also able to overcome some of the physical limitations of the real world with a few quick commands using Unreal Engine. MOMENT MAKERS Once the footage was filmed, Magnopus added effects that would not only catch the eye, but would be impossible to recreate in real life. “There’s a sequence where there’s a ring of fire around Madison. There’s a moving experience where raindrops are falling
around her. These are things that, due to safety issues, wouldn’t be allowed in a normal concert venue,” said Spahr. Magnopus created special and lighting effects within Unreal Engine, using realtime ray tracing and the timeline tools in Sequencer, the engine’s built-in multi-track editor, to jump around as they edited different sections of a song. With Pixel Streaming at its disposal, Magnopus was able to overcome the hardware limitations that box artists in. “In real time, you’ve always got a render budget and you can’t go over it. It’s always locked to whatever the target device’s power is and you’ve got a certain amount of things you can render, at a certain level of quality, in order to get the screen to refresh at a refresh rate that you need it to,” said Henning. “Being able to exceed that and go well beyond it is appealing for an artist.” According to Spahr, there are plenty of opportunities for new shows and new ways to use digital avatars to reimagine music. “Anything an artist can dream up can be brought to life, no matter how fantastical it might be. We don’t have to operate within constraints,” he concluded. www.unrealengine.com
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TIPPER @ RED ROCKS Enigmatic electronic music producer, Tipper returns to Red Rocks Amphitheatre for two consecutive nights, soundtracked by a Funktion-One Vero system.
Photos: Ron Lorman
Tipper and Red Rocks are a match made in electronic heaven – a place where the monolithic meets dimension and fidelity. The enigmatic, spotlight-shirking producer first played the 9,500-capacity venue in 2015. In the days that followed, glowing words flowed onto pages, photos and videos incapable of capturing the real-life magic flooded the internet, and everyone agreed that this performance, in which music, art and sound design came together to form a mesmerising bundle of ‘wow’, was very special indeed. Last month, Tipper returned to Red Rocks for two consecutive nights, armed with a new sound experience for the famous venue, delivered by Funktion-One Vero. The figure at the heart of this delivery was Sound Engineer, Ron Lorman of Busy Puppy Productions, who has worked with a host of celebrated artists, including Miles Davis, Paul Simon and Frank Zappa, in his 40-plus years audio career. As well as spec’ing the sound system, Lorman oversaw all audio requirements for what turned out to be two stunning shows. Speaking afterwards, he enthused: “I’m extremely pleased. The goal was to achieve a level of unique audio presentation and raise the bar of audio capabilities. The pleasure came from the reaction of the audience and fans, who seemingly recognised they heard a very special event, both from Tipper, all the performing artists and the audio impact.” Unsurprisingly, a lot of work goes into reaching this level. Lorman and Joe Adkins – owner of One Source Productions – were commissioned by Dave Veler, the show’s producer, to execute nothing short of sonic
excellence. The pair have worked together with Tipper since 2015. Funktion-One Founder, Tony Andrews was on the line from the UK at various stages to discuss iterations to the system design. “Every detail was taken into consideration to ensure the best possible audio delivery” said Lorman. “From Vero placement and aiming, to subwoofer deployment, the venue’s new roof structure, handpicked staff, gear selection, and seven evil rain events during setup day!” One Source’s Joe Adkins commented: “We were thrilled to once again have the chance to deploy the Vero rig at Red Rocks with Tipper. A lot of work and consideration went into the design, deployment, and crew selection. We’ve done many events with the Vero system and this was by far our favourite deployment. Red Rocks is not an easy venue to cover, and we were able to achieve a high level of audio quality throughout the entire venue. Saying we were happy with Vero is an understatement.” The system was assembled and prepped at Awaken the Night, located nearby in Denver, overseen by owner, Jimi Lee, and his team. Lorman brought in Andrew Davidson as System Tech, Tom Van Beek for monitors, Rob Hendry of One Source provided rigging and system support, leaving Will Bears on good vibes and moral support. Red Rocks is a fascinating venue. With the flanking rock walls, a 300ft throw requirement and an 18° seating incline, it presents some challenges to delivering even coverage, uniform frequency magnitude and focused propagation timing. Lorman said: “With Red Rocks’ unique load in, with truck staging and
FOH gear going on a sled to the mix position, the Red Rocks crew is nothing short of spectacular, efficient, helpful, gracious and hard working. The Vero rig was easily hung with no issues and the entire system was deployed 100% as modelled.” The system featured 15 Vero enclosures per side, 24 F124s, 12 F218s and four Evo 7s for front fills. Lab.gruppen PLM 20k amps powered the main Vero hangs, with FFA amps on the subs and Lake processing throughout. “Our mission was to deliver an even better performance than the Red Rocks event in 2015,” stated Lorman. “I requested three extra cabinets per side from last time. The F124s provided awesome low end from the front row to the top of the venue - a football field away.” House and city ordinance enforce strict SPL management at Red Rocks, with maximum limits set at 106dBA and 119dBZ. Lorman explained: “The show sounded amazingly full with impact, while I maintained an average of 103 dba and 115 dbz. Both are measured at the FOH position in peak and on a one-minute LEQ. I managed to hit 118.5 three times, which definitely kept our attention. Riding faders, high-pass filter and shelving were all employed at various times to stay within the house dB limits, making it a bit like audio Whac-A-Mole at times. On a technical note, we averaged 6db+ of headroom in the amps during the entire event.” System Technician, Andrew Davidson noted: “The speed of the system was beyond anything I had ever heard on this scale. The system is fully horn loaded and there was no resonance hiding any detail. The F124s made the air around you alive and it surrounded
System Technicians, Tom Van Beek (middle) and Andrew Davidson (right).
“The speed of the system was beyond anything I had ever heard on this scale. The system is fully horn loaded and there was no resonance hiding any detail.” Andrew Davidson, System Technician
you. The image that Vero creates is huge and hangs in the air between you and the speaker. This brings the music closer and allows for a better connection to the artist. The show felt louder than I was used to when I have line arrays at Red Rocks. With the Vero’s decay speed, the house LEQ meter seemed to not meter as high, but the system sounded far louder than usual”. At FOH, Lorman worked on a Cadac CDC6 show system comprising a CDC6, 6448 IO, Dante bridge with onboard Waves capabilities. Console Inputs were delivered in both analogue and digital via Dante, with all outputs in Dante running at 96khz. According to the seasoned pro: “The audio quality of the Cadac has no match. It’s like having studio-quality
converters on every I/O. The preamps, EQ sections and compressor are the smoothest and most musical I have ever encountered in an audio console.” While impressed with the tech, the audio team and their collective talents remain number one in Lorman’s book. “Technology will always change and, at times, make meaningful improvements. At the end of day, it is the team’s collective efforts and experience that manipulate and maximise the performance of any system.” Funktion-One’s Tony Andrews and Lorman have known one another since around 1980. “That long – ouch!” joked Lorman. In his view, Vero and Evo represent the collected knowledge and experience over an extended period. “Vero is capable of delivering a staggering amount of sonic impact and clarity, with unprecedented attack and decay speed, all while maintaining well organised audio integrity with extremely low distortion. The entire audio spectrum delivered by Vero is capable of a level of extreme detail, massive power and non-fatiguing presentation. Extreme amounts of fun to listen to and for extended periods of time.” For Lorman, there is no comparison to other systems. “Vero is the sole occupant in its own category. It is the only system capable of this level of audio. Vero takes total advantage of the summation of paying attention to every portion of the frequency range, which incorporates very hi-efficient, well dampened, non-resonant and musically balanced frequency response.” www.tippermusic.net www.redrocksonline.com www.funktion-one.com
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MARTIN AUDIO OPEN DAY Celebrating the company’s 50th anniversary, Martin Audio welcomes customers to its HQ for a catch up to talk about new products and its plan for the future.
Words: Stew Hume Photos: Sophie Hoult
In the same week that saw the return of London’s PLASA Show, in High Wycombe, Martin Audio opened its doors to the industry to give an overview of its entire production line - most notably TORUS, the brand’s recent constant curvature array. This was an ideal chance to catch up with the team and celebrate the company’s 50th anniversary. Welcoming guests was Martin Audio Managing Director, Dom Harter. Prior to entering the venue, each attendee took a lateral flow test, with COVID-19 protocols continuing on entry. “Previously on these open days we used to take guests on a factory
tour,” opened Harter. “However, through the past year-and-a-half, we’ve prided ourselves on being a COVID-safe facility, which is how we’ve been able to keep our warehouse open throughout 2020/21. We’d hate for it all to go wrong now.” All guests were ushered to a corneredoff part from the main warehouse. En route, we got to walk through a museum of vintage Martin Audio products, dating back to the start of the company. In his opening speech, Harter paid tribute to Martin Audio’s Founder, David Martin. “He had a real vision to improve sound at live events,” explained the MD. “When
he visited shows at the time, he was always disappointed with the sound quality and as such, set about modelling speakers that had different size transducers as well as different techniques for each frequency pass band. All this with the view of having speakers with more energy, higher sound levels and low distortion for clean sound at live events.” Despite half a century having passed since Martin first created the brand around these principles, most if not all still hold true in the company’s current offerings. Harter continued: “What has changed today is that we have a vast array of products
with lots of different applications, but overall, the approach to having a low distorted sound, consistent coverage and control over where the sound is going has stayed with the brand over 50 years and remains very much part of our goal for live audiences.” Taking over the session was Martin Audio’s Robin Dibble, who walked through the range of install products in the ADORN range, the company’s first true entry into the commercial marketplace. Moving our way up to the range of speakers, another notable highlight was a chance to hear TORUS. “We realised we had somewhat of a gap in our products, so we spent the past few years looking at the constant curvature market and came up with TORUS,” explained
Harter. “It was three years in the making with mathematical modelling of individual parts and lots of prototyping and refinement as we went through the design process with a view to push what is possible with this type of sized enclosure. The net result is delivering what we at Martin Audio think is the definitive constant curvature array.” It wasn’t just loudspeakers that were on show at the open day as the team also demoed its latest beta software DISPLAY 3. This is the company’s latest 3D prediction software that the MD explained differs from others in the market for one main reason. “Many other prediction solutions on the market predict the sound coming from the grill of the loudspeaker, then work out how
that interacts with the cabinets nearby, which gives you the shape. DISPLAY 3 on the other hand, systematically goes through every row of seats in a venue, calculating the sound arriving at each person and then coming up with the optimal FIR settings and angles to ensure consistency in the space.” He continued: “DISPLAY 3 is going to continue to grow and incorporate more features and more of Martin Audio’s product lines. This means we can provide sound from small bars and restaurants all the way up to huge events such as BST Hyde Park.” Stay tuned for further coverage of Martin Audio’s 50th anniversary milestone in the November/December print edition. www.martin-audio.com
THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS The electronica pioneers take to the stage for the first time since late 2019 for a headline performance at Latitude Festival.
Words: Stew Hume Photos: Luke Dyson [p28,33,34, 36, 37] & Matt Eachus [p30, 32]
Festival Republic has made a major effort to get outdoor events up and running in 2021. With each of its shows, from its Sefton Park test event [TPi #262] to the Download Pilot [TPi #263], the production values have increased. This trend continued into Latitude weekend, with a no-holds-barred headline performance from The Chemical Brothers. Complete with a massive LED screen, complex automated lighting moves and brand-new visual content, the duo’s return to the stage was a well and truly triumphant one. With their set finished, both band and crew already had their eyes set on two more performances at Creamfields and TRNSMT Festival, but before preparation for both those shows began, TPi grabbed a word with some of the key members of the production to discuss the Latitude experience. Calling in from his home office in Australia was long-time Production Manager, Toby Dennis of I Smashed Productions. While many of us have had to adapt to working from home
recently, Dennis certainly showcased the possibility of remote working, pulling together all the pieces for the band’s performance from the other side of the world. “I suppose the advantage is that over here in Oz, I’m technically in the future,” he joked, as he walked through his average day of making sure that all the moving parts came together for the band’s headline slot. Winding the clocks back, the PM discussed how COVID-19 had affected The Chemical Brothers, who were just beginning production rehearsals in March 2020. “I got a call from my wife saying that they were closing the borders in Australia, so I brushed my desk at Fly By Nite Studios into my bag and headed for the airport.” The result was that many of the components for the tour were not finished, although this meant that the production had a starting point when the green light for Latitude was finally given. “Essentially, what we’ve got is an amalgamation of the production from 2019 with a twist with some of the newer elements
we were working on prior to lockdown,” stated the PM. Dennis highlighted the importance of the vast majority of longstanding crew and suppliers that once again came on board for this project. “Bar myself and one other, all our usual crew were on board for the whole process,” he explained, emphasising how much easier this made his remote PM undertaking. When it came to suppliers, Dennis once again called upon Lite Alternative for lighting and automation, ER Productions for Lasers, Skan PA for audio control, Universal Pixels for LED screens, Basic Monkey for media servers and Fly By Nite for transport. With Dennis having to sit out the inperson rehearsals and the show, some of his responsibilities had to be shared among the crew. Along with handling his other duties as Tour Manager, James Baseley also took on another responsibility. “Early on in lockdown, I signed myself up for a First Option Course,” reflected Baseley. “This gave me the authority to take on the title of COVID Supervisor,” he
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elaborated. During the course, Baseley had to create a fictional health and safety plan that included numerous COVID-19 protocols, and he explained that it was good to finally put this knowledge to use. “It was during our rehearsals at Production Park where we had the most stringent COVID procedure,” he stated. The production ran a bubble system comprising two separate groups. Bubble A was made up of the core production of The Chemical Brothers team who were on-site for most of the rehearsals, whereas Bubble B contained those who would only be on site on a temporary basis, such as riggers and other members of Production Park staff. “We also had a distancing system in place so A would never work in close quarters with B. For example, members from two different bubbles would never unload a truck at the same time. We operated like that for the whole week and then brought those protocols into Latitude. As we all walked off the busses with facemasks, everyone knew we meant business.” Baseley went on to describe the collaboration with Dennis to pull this project together. “We always approach things as a team,” he explained. “When it came to advancing the show, the process was
exactly the same as it always is for a tour – we continually bounce ideas around.” SETTING THE STAGE The creative duo of Adam Smith and Marcus Lyall were once again responsible for the overall show aesthetic, working closely with long-time Lighting Programmer, JC Aubreé. Walking TPi through the creative process was Adam Smith. Like many aspects of the production, the creative team had to cut their rehearsal time short in 2020. Then after getting the green light for the Latitude show, the team resurrected some of the ideas they had been working on. “For the opening song, Hey Boy Hey Girl, we had filmed a load of new content at The Imaginarium Studios – Andy Serkis’ motion capture studio. However, when we revisited the content for the Latitude rehearsals, as great as it was, we realised that we had made the characters very dark and moody – perhaps it reflected the time in early 2020.” As this show marked the grand re-emergence for The Chemical Brothers, Smith and Lyall reworked some of this new content to add vibrance. The creative team was keen to bring back one of the most awe-inspiring moments from
the 2019 tour, when the content interacted with the physical lights, with beams of light shooting out from behind the LED screen. “Once again, I have to take my hat off to our Programmer, JC,” stated Smith. “The pre-programing we did for the show was intense; this show is now sitting on around 9,000 cues. What JC can get that desk [an MA Lighting grandMA3 running MA2 Software] to do is extraordinary. So many of the conversations we have with him, we’re essentially asking him to use lights as animation – something the MA is not designed to do, but he’s able to make it work every time.” HARDWARE Facilitating the creative vision of Smith, Lyall and Aubreé were Lite Alternative, Universal Pixels and ER Productions, providing lighting, LED screens and lasers respectively. “It was fantastic to see a crowd enjoying themselves again,” began Lite Alternative’s Alex Johnson, before going into the technical aspects of the performance. “Watching the crowd was amazing; that is what we do in this industry – facilitate making people feel good.” Getting down to brass tacks, he described how the company ensured it would be ready for The Chemical Brothers’ return to the stage.
“Even after the rehearsals were cut short in 2020, we kept many parts of the kit they were using intact so that when we got the green light for Latitude, we knew everything was ready.” For the rehearsals in Production Park, Lite Alternative provided both the touring packages and a replica festival rig. On that topic of designing for a headline festival slot, the PM jumped in to outline the mantra he and the rest of the crew had for such a project. “In short, we want to create a show that can be put on anywhere. We always think, ‘what is the standard festival look’ and then try to build it out from there.” The upshot of this mentality means that other bands on the bill have a usable house rig, then The Chems’ production team can simply roll on their show for the headline slot. “We want everyone to have a good show,” stated Dennis. “Some people think I’m a bit strange for having that mentality but the way I see it, if each band has a great performance during the day, it only adds to the excitement when our boys come on stage.” When it came to the touring lighting package brought into the festival, the supplier provided 54 Robe Mega Pointes, 12 GLP
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impression X4 Bar 20s, nine Martin by Harman MAC Quantum LED Washes, four MAC Aura LED Washes, three Ayrton MagicBlade-Rs, and 71 Solaris Flare Q+ LED Strobes. Lite Alternative also handled all the automation needs for the production, supplying a full Kinesys system, which was handled by Automation Operator, Mark Goodall. “Mark had an awful lot of work in the build up for this show as everything is timed to exact positions,” stressed Johnson. “He had to take on the preprogramming that JC had done, take all the information positions and then check it all with Catalyst Operator, James Cooksey from Basic Monkey who once again supplied the Catalyst media servers.” The content for the show was showcased on a large LED screen provided by Universal Pixels. The screen was a ROE Visual Vanish 18, utilising Brompton Technology processing. Responsible for the build of the LED screen was Sam James. Having been a part of The Chemical Brothers camp for many years, one
of James’ responsibilities has been to keep an eye on George and Mildred – the 4m-tall robots that have become synonymous with the band’s live shows. “I had already given the two robots their annual service when Toby called me about Latitude,” he explained. “I was slightly nervous about the show as the time between rehearsals and the festival was quite tight and we didn’t have Toby, who is a key player in our production, on site. Also, it was just my number two Tim and I on site, along with the help of the local crew. I was somewhat broken by the end of the weekend, but it was an amazing experience to be back working on a ‘real’ show.” Universal Pixels Commercial Director, Phil Mercer gave his thoughts on being involved in the landmark weekend. “We had been speaking to Toby Dennis and James Baseley for several months during the run up to the festival and desperately wanted it to happen,” he reminisced. Due to the company’s on-going work in the film industry, its warehouse has
been fully operational since the start of 2021 so it was all set to deal with the demands of the band’s Latitude project, along with their headline sets at Creamfields and TRNSMT. The LED rig was to be kept intact between each of the three festival projects. “We always treat The Chemical Brothers’ campaigns like an on-going tour,’’ he explained. ER Productions once again supplied the band’s special effects, with a laser package comprising a Phaenon Pro 30000, 18 ER KINEKT Lasers, four BeamBurst Lasers and a 24W Green Laser. ER Productions’ Tom Vallis oversaw the laser programming and deployment. “For this show, we had a new laser track for Out of Control,” he commented. “The programming for this track is tightly integrated with the video content, following the movement of the characters across the screen in each direction, as well as highlighting vocal parts and synth riffs with the lasers. The meticulous programming involves thousands of events on
the programming timeline for the one track.” Along with the laser package, ER also supplied numerous other effects including 12 Viper Deluxe smoke Machines, four Unique Hazers and four Stadium Blaster Confetti Machines. ER Production Director, Marc Webber commented: “This was a real motivator and lifted the spirits of everyone at ER. The Chemical Brothers was one of the tours that was mid rehearsals when everyone closed, so it felt perfect to be starting up again with them.” AUDIO EXCELLENCE Speaking to TPi via Zoom from his studio surrounded by a multitude of synths, Backline
Technician, Matt Cox discussed the past yearand-a-half. “When the rehearsals came to an abrupt end, I spent a great deal of time taking some of the older analogue synths in and out of the studios and giving them a service,” he explained. “The goal of this exercise was to be as prepared as possible when we finally got the green light to play shows again.” There were no drastic changes to the band’s live setup at Latitude, with Cox describing the current rig as “a legacy of the past 25 years”. He added: “There is always something new coming in or out of the rig that we find space for.” The biggest change for Cox was in the build up to the show. “I’ve always recorded each
show and have a record of what every synth does on every song so I can re-build a live show using that audio,” he explained. “What this meant was that both the guys could remind themselves of certain arrangements of the songs, which made the process of going into these shows much simpler. Moving forward, I think it’s something I will do before each tour – it means a bit more programming, but it is worth the time.” Also on stage in monitor world was Ian Barton, who was “really excited to be back doing a show again”. He continued: “Skan PA has been excellent as always – the gear is in top condition. Skan PA Audio Tech, Scott Essen is
also a solid team member for The Chems.” The engineer went on to explain how his process on this show was to use an analogue chain as much as possible in his setup. “The Midas XL4 has a flawless sound, and the ability to do two things at same time while keeping an eye on the next change is really helpful. XTA Outboard EQ, compressors and crossovers add such a nice colour to the mix.” The engineer ran a stereo pair of L-Acoustics Arcs with DV subs as rear fills to get the solid punch of the 15in drivers with MTD108S near fields for Tom Rowlands’ central stage mix. At the other end of the multicore and holding down the main PA mix was Shan Hira, also at the helm of a Midas XL4. With analogue very much being the common theme within the band’s audio setup, Hira explained that when it came to preparing for the show, it was a much more hands-on experience than simply “tweaking a show file”. He continued: “The first thing I received in the build up to Latitude was an audio copy of the set, which had some changes from the one we had in 2019 – notably the inclusion of the new single, The Darkness That You Fear. After a few listens, Ian and I went down to Skan’s warehouse with a multitrack, set up our desks and outboard gear and ran through the set to get us back up to speed after such a long time.” When it came to outboard gear, Hira had a veritable spice rack of effects to call on, including MXR Delay System II, Pitch Transposer, Flanger/Doubler, a Roland RE-20 Space Echo, Lexicon 480L, PCM60, PCM41, an Eventide H7600 and a Line 6 Filter Pro and Echo Pro. For dynamics, the FOH Engineer had four XTA C2 Compressors, two D2 Compressors and a GQ600 Graphic Equaliser along with a Waves MaxxBCL. “After hearing the set at production rehearsals, I got some fresh ideas and mentally banked them for future use,” Hira explained. “Each gig can be very different from the previous one, so I react in the moment and go with the vibe. It’s very much a hands-on mix.” Despite such a long time away from the shows, Hira was confident walking into the
festival. “I felt that the show was in a good place coming out of rehearsals and I was just looking forward to mixing the show on a nice big PA again,” he smiled. The PA for the weekend was an L-Acoustics K1 and K2 rig supplied by SSE Audio. “Nick Lythgoe from SSE got in touch with me directly ahead of time to ask how we would like the PA setup, so Scott Essen and I had a chat and formulated a plan.” Hira’s original hope was to have a mixture
of flown and ground subs so that he could get some of the “thump down the field without caning people in the pit,” he stated. Regrettably, the infrastructure didn’t allow for subs in the air so, to get the even spread of sub coverage, the engineer suggested the audio team went two boxes high and 13 stacks wide in the pit, spread evenly between the main hangs, and have a
motor box on top of every other stack to get it up to head height so they could have a pair of KARA front fills. “The goal was to get as even a tonal balance as possible in the pit with a nice fat clubby vibe,” he outlined. “All in all, we were very happy with the PA and great service and attention to detail from SSE.” To close, Hira gave his final thoughts on Latitude 2021. “I enjoyed the day; it was great to see live music again for the first time in a long time, and lovely to see a really lively crowd going for it during the show. I am looking forward to hopefully more of the same for our other two upcoming shows.” LOAD-IN AND OUT “It was incredibly emotional when I got the call
that this one was going ahead,” Stage Manager, Ben Madden said, giving his two cents on the show. “Granted, the COVID-19 protocols we had in place took a bit of getting used to, but as soon as the show started, it all felt incredibly normal. I feel very privileged that we got the chance to put on this show.” Although Latitude was technically a one-off
show, the team deployed many of the same infrastructural elements they would for a tour, including their specific trucking setup, supported by its loyal supplier, Fly By Nite. “Our trucking setup has always been solid,” Dennis said. “We are very methodical and rather than simply having an audio, lighting, video truck, we looked at how we can most effectively
transport our equipment. This has included building a mezzanine in one of the trucks to effectively give us double to storage.” The consideration that then had to be decided upon was whether to keep all the trucks loaded between Latitude and Creamfields. “It was over a month’s gap between those two shows and in the end, it all comes down to money, as you’ll have to insure the equipment to put it in storage.” In the end, all equipment was sent back to their respective suppliers to be picked up closer to Creamfields. Coming to the end of our interview with The Chemical Brothers’ crew, there was a strange sense of déjà vu. The Chemical Brothers last graced the pages of TPi for our January 2020 edition when COVID-19 was merely a talking point in the new cycle and we were still a few months away from the devastating impact it would have on both society and our industry. It seemed rather fitting that one of the largest productions we covered this year with the return of live events was the electro duo – almost completing the circle. We may still be some way off from normality, but as the song states, we’ve Got To Keep On. www.latitudefestival.com www.thechemicalbrothers.com @ismashedit @smithandlyall www.lite-alternative.com www.er-productions.com www.skanpa.co.uk www.unipix.tv www.basicmonkey.net
517 DAYS IN THE MAKING: GORILLAZ Marking the venue’s first live shows in 517 days, Gorillaz descend on London’s O2 arena for a series of monumental homecoming gigs with an impressive roll call of special guests and a talented touring team.
Words: Jacob Waite Photos: Luke Dyson & TPi
Celebrating two decades since the release of their self-titled debut album, Gorillaz, the world’s most successful virtual band made history yet again this August, embarking on two monumental homecoming shows at London’s O2 arena, as well as a pop-up show for friends and family at the indigo. The first arena show, on 10 August, was performed to NHS key workers and their families, with a sold-out capacity show for Gorillaz faithful the following night – each boasting a stellar line-up of guest artists, talented tour crew and technical suppliers, firmly setting a benchmark for post-pandemic arena shows. Following proof of a negative lateral flow test (LFT), the adorning of accreditation and a
Manchester International Festival, Latitude Festival and Edinburgh International Festival in support of his upcoming solo album. “We are pleased to be the first to open up the O2 arena after it’s been asleep for so long. Although it is hard work, everybody is grafting to make it the best show possible.” The vendor roster comprised the collective expertise of Neg Earth, Video Design, Entec Sound and Light, Brilliant Stages, Opto, Fly By Nite, Mission Control, DART Rigging, Radiotek, Block9, Pixelmappers, The Pantry Maid, Band Pass and Executours. “All the suppliers involved are longstanding collaborators,” Travis noted. With featured artists spanning five states in America, and stretching as far as Italy, it was
planning Gorillaz’s acclaimed Song Machine Live in December 2020, before the easing of restrictions permitted the go-ahead of Damon Albarn’s appearances at Live At Worthy Farm,
However, many are from the United States and as regulations eased slightly, we found we were able to bring them if they were quarantined. Many were also double-vaccinated, so were able to quarantine for much less time.” Despite taking daily LFTs and optional mask wearing,
brief backstage tech tour, TPi was greeted by Tour Manager, Rebecca Travis, who joined the Gorillaz camp six months prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’ve had a lot of opportunities to be the first out of the gate,” she began, recalling the months spent working, budgeting and
up to Travis and the touring team to navigate the logistics of a COVID-19 secure pathway for multiple artists to take the stage. “When we first spoke, we were going to use UK-based artists.
being on site, for the most part, was a surreal experience for the crew involved. “When we see a sold-out unmasked audience, it feels a world away from where we’ve been over the past 18 months. It’s exciting but overwhelming,” Travis said, acknowledging the monumental task at hand. “Performing in front of NHS staff and their families was a fantastic and rewarding feeling for the band and crew. We are all excited to be back but also giving back to key workers and Gorillaz fans.” Having advanced the two shows, including a low-key warm-up set for friends and family in the indigo at the O2, with upcoming visits to Boardmasters Festival around the corner at the time of writing, Travis often spends most of the shows wrangling the feature artists. Unusually, this time she was able to see some of the action from the side of the stage – thanks in part to her crack team of Production Manager, Tyrone Brunton and Assistant Tour Managers, Shadien ‘London’ Mars and Marcus Duffy, the son of late Gorillaz Tour Manager, Craig Duffy. “I’ve worked with Tyrone for around 22 years on and off, from Riverdance to Franz Ferdinand, to Basement Jaxx, before coming full circle,”
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Travis recalled. “London and Marcus have been phenomenal, working closely with the artists; they are both full of beans. It’s been special for Marcus to continue his father’s legacy.” Production Manager, Tyrone Brunton said: “It feels very special to collaborate with our crew and suppliers again. With so much uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been a privilege to be involved with the first indoor full capacity show for over 18 months. I would like to thank everyone involved for the their efforts and hard work, for going above and beyond – as touring crew always do – to embrace and adapt to these very strange times.” ‘PUSHING THE ENVELOPE OF INNOVATION’ Block9 Creative Director, Stephen Gallagher said: “We’ve been working with Gorillaz under Jamie’s direction for the past four years, starting with the Gorillaz-curated Demon Dayz Festival at Dreamland in Margate in 2007, which was the first show we worked on with them. We started with designing the festival but as things progressed, we were asked to jump onboard the creative for the live shows.” And the rest, as they say, is history… “This show brings together everything we’ve been working on over the past four years, tapping into the Gorillaz archive; it includes the
work we made for the Humanz record, which was the first tour we worked on, through design for The Now Now and Song Machine – Season One: Strange Timez,” Gallagher said, explaining the concept. “To commemorate 20 years of the band, we’ve melded the highlights from across their discography and archive material into a two-and-half-hour show, which is fun yet challenging given the genre-spanning musical styles of each record, from punk to gospel.” Stuart Lowbridge worked closely with Damon Albarn and Musical Director, Mike Smith on the setlist, stitching together the musical flow of each show, allowing Block9 to focus on weaving in complementing visuals. “We follow the emotional curve of the setlist, bringing in interstitial segments of video in line with the lighting department.” Block9 Producer, Alexa Pearson listed the carnival section of the show among her favoured looks. “The new carnival section is cool and a fresh outlook on Gorillaz live shows. We’ve taken Jamie’s artwork of Trellick Tower and created video content off the back of that – Jimmy Jimmy isn’t running to timecode either, so it’s ‘live-live’, with video content that is triggered manually.” No stranger to innovation having replicated feature artists, Fatoumata Diawara and Beck
in hologram, AR and VR formats during prior Gorillaz projects, live experimentation is part and parcel of the band’s live shows, Gallagher assured. “They are the perfect band to experiment and pilot new ideas, given their starting point as a virtual band.” Nowadays, Gallagher said, technology exists to make innovation possible. “We are interested in pushing technology in the live events space further using the archive of amazing visual and audio material associated with the band. Over the past 18 months, embarking on livestream experiences during lockdown has been an exciting creative exploration. Perhaps the merging of the realities of an audience in room and a global audience online is the next logical step forward for us.” ‘REESTABLISHING LIVE EVENTS’ Embarking on his third project with Gorillaz, Lighting Designer, Matt Pitman of Pixelmappers retraced the evolution of the band’s live output. “Musically, it changes significantly from show to show, as do the visual elements – what we try to achieve gets more ambitious regarding the levels of programming, timecoding and integration with Block9’s video content,” he commented, having collaborated with the collective several times over the years. “Slowly
FOH Engineer, Matt Butcher; Stage Tech, James ‘Kedge’ Kerridge; Playback Engineer, Andrew Hamwee; Lighting Designer, Matt Pitman and Lighting Programmer, Ollie Martin; Media Server Operators, Luke Collins and Rich Porter; RF Engineer, Ali Viles; Lead Truck Driver, Phil Infield; The Video Design team; The Pantry Maid team.
but surely, we add more facets to the show as and when we can.” As creative directors, Block9 submitted a treatment based around the objectives of the band and management from show to show. “There’s an ongoing timeline of Jamie’s artwork which is developing throughout Gorillaz’s career,” Pitman explained. “Each time we visualise something, elements change and they are corralled and directed by Block9 on behalf of Gorillaz. They submit that to me and I respond with lighting for each circumstance.” Tasked with specifying and designing a lighting rig fit for theatre, rock ’n’ roll and carnival themes, Pitman explained his challenging fixture selection process. “Despite not being the largest lighting rig, it has multiple uses and is challenged quite heavily,” he said, gesturing to the rig. “We have a lot of discharge lights; we require a lot of lumens out of the rig in order to compete with such a large video surface, otherwise it doesn’t show up.” Of equal importance, Pitman said, is beam quality, flexibility and brightness, as well as availability. “This rig requires something with many facets and we design around the parameters of the project. We needed to be able to respond to 87 songs and make each look unique with only a certain amount of equipment, so the rig has to be versatile.” Joining Pitman at FOH was Lighting Programmer, Ollie Martin. When the show is run perfectly, around 80% is to timecode, with 20% manually operated. “There is nothing fixed about this show; it’s the most challenging element to working with this band but it is something I thrive on – it courses adrenaline through you at every performance. Not only not knowing what the band will be playing until minutes before they hit the stage, but also not knowing if they’re going to play what is on the running order, just those few minutes beforehand,” Pitman noted, recalling the assembly of talent involved in the project. “It takes a great amount of diligence from many talented people to keep up with the
creative and technical demands of the show. The entire show is a collaboration. The camp is made up of a team of people who are excellent at what they do. Just like the band, those that make the show happen are a huge part of the collaborative team that make the shows possible, which is how everyone feels about this project.” Pitman and Martin used MA Lighting grandMA3 consoles for control. Spaced across four flown trusses and a floor package, the Neg Earth-supplied lighting rig boasted Claypaky Mythos and Sharpy Washes, Robe Robin BMFL Spots, TMB Solaris Flares, 2Lite Molefays, Martin by Harman MAC Aura XB LEDs, GLP impression X4 Bar 20s and Chroma-Q Color Force IIs. A RoboSpot system was deployed for followspots. While JEM AF-1 fans, Look Solutions Viper NT fog generators and Unique 2.1 hazers provided atmospherics, despite the venue’s extensive deployment of AC systems to account for a COVID-19 secure event. The Neg Earth lighting team comprised Account Handler, Sam Ridgway; Lighting Crew Chief, Adam Morris; and Lighting Technicians, Blaine Dracup, Callum Humphries, Mark Bradshaw, Tom Comrie and William Frostman. “It’s lovely to be back working with Neg Earth again,” Pitman said. “The idiosyncrasies I requested for the lighting rig on the last campaign were done as default this time around. I’ve also had people from the control and moving light department asking me if I was happy with things discussed on prior tours. That level of attention to detail and client interaction is much appreciated. They look after the show with the same amount of love that we put the show on with.” Summing up his experience on site, Pitman referred to the “special” experience of providing a show for NHS staff and their families. “It was special and significant. I’ve got a huge amount of respect for the NHS and being involved in creating a unique experience for them was a gift I’d give in an instant – to do it with a project so important to me felt really
special and I am privileged to be involved in the reestablishment of live events.” ‘THE RESPONSE HAS BEEN AMAZING’ In keeping with Gorillaz’s propensity for digitisation, Video Design supplied a giant upstage screen made up of ROE Visual CB5 LED panels with Brompton Technology processing, which was used as the stage’s backdrop. Winvision 8mm LED panels were specified for left and right IMAG screens, which were pushed further upstage than usual to accommodate a full-capacity crowd. Content was captured by a full HD camera system with processing coming courtesy of a disguise gx2c media server system. Camera Director, Mark Davies oversaw eight cameras on stage – three Sony manned cameras, three BR Remote robotic cameras and two Marshall minicams. “The looks vary each night, however, we’re trying to curate a show which encompasses the entire band, feature artists, and the crowd, as opposed to a frontman,” Davies explained. Outlining his favourite look as the moments where Damon Albarn is at the downstage centre, encompassed by the back wall of LED,
Davies was pleased to be capturing live crowds. “The content on the screen is really good, so we tend to include that in the IMAGs as well. Work has been quite sparse over the past 18 months, so I’m glad to be back to business. It was nice to see a crowd in and the response to the band from the crowd was amazing.” Media Server Operator, Rich Porter and Luke Collins oversaw two disguise gx 2 media servers – a main and a backup. “Luke and I have both been involved with programming and touring the video for Gorillaz over the past few years. We worked together to amalgamate these previous show files, adding the new tracks from the upcoming carnival record,” Porter said. “It was an absolute pleasure to be back producing a live show again. There couldn’t have been a better show to return with than Gorillaz and their guests.” Collins added: “It was an absolute pleasure to do some gigs with an audience. It made sense to have the pair of us combine the show files into a project we can both take forward.” The Video Design team comprised System Engineer, Alan Yates; Crew Chief / LED Engineer, Jack Middlebrook; LED Engineers, Gary King, James Crossley, James ‘Oz’ Ross
and Camera Operators, Roger Nelson and Rod Williams. Video Design’s Alex Leinster commented: “Seeing everyone back at work along with a crowd enjoying live music is amazing – that’s what made the past 18 months bearable. We’ve all pulled our companies through by the skin of the teeth and now we are gradually beginning to reap the rewards. Everybody involved in this project is at the top level and has been doing it for years.” ‘A PROPER GIG’ Having spent the past 18 months split between mixing Gorillaz projects, home schooling and vintage electronics repairs, long-time FOH Engineer, Matt Butcher was pleased to be back to some semblance of normality – mixing Gorillaz in front of 20,000 fans with no shoes on. Butcher mixed on a DiGiCO Quantum SD7. “I love the control surface; I really like Mustard Dynamics. The parallel compressor has given it a whole new dimension with another EQ. As a control surface, it’s simply brilliant.” The SD7’s 200 input channels were put to good use with a 128-channel record system, with six channels of steel drum pan mixed to stereo and brought back into a group, among
the key talking points of Butcher’s workflow. “Damon likes to add things, such as an entire string section sometimes, so we’re well prepared for late additions.” With a revolving door of guests over the course of two nights to mix, Butcher regaled TPi with stories of past big-name collaborators. “The roll call for guests over the years has been brilliant, from Shaun Ryder to Mark E. Smith and Lou Reed all in one afternoon. This year is no different with the likes of Robert Smith, Posdenous and Little Simz.” TPi Award-winning Sound System Designer, Liam Halpin specified an Entec-supplied d&b audiotechnik PA system – specifically 20 boxes of GSL on main hang, 16 KSLs on the side hangs, as well as 14 V-Series boxes as a rear hang to account for the venue selling out on the lower bowl. The entire system was processed and powered by D80s with Lake Processing LM44s on the front end running a Dante returns system with main and spare units fed through separate systems, thus allowing the amplifiers
to monitor. “Something I’ve noticed over the years, working in various venues, is that your box counts stay similar. If it’s a short throw, wider vertical conversion box then you need a couple more to get the throw. If it’s a narrower vertical throw, then you need more to get the coverage angles right,” Halpin said, explaining his design process. “I’ve always done the O2 with 20 boxes of d&b J-Series, so I started with 20 GSL on the main hang. Given that it’s a higher-output box, you think about dropping boxes, however, it’s over 100m to the back row of seats, and I’ve never been a fan of bringing in delays to the O2 arena because I believe the in-house Bose delays do the job fine.” With an approach to system design that
hinges on the reluctance to use delays to replace boxes on the main hang, Halpin instead opted for delays as an HF lift, to bring some of the “sparkle” back into the system. “I always go for a bigger main system with house delays and run with that. My preference is to go for three hangs for arenas, even if you’re going 180-200°, keep them fairly
clustered together to minimise the distance in the times because if you get it right physically, you don’t have to compensate electronically.” Moving away from using lip fills, Halpin opted for a pair of clustered V7Ps situated in the downstage corners, acting as a traditional ground stack. “It seems unnatural if you’re standing 5m from the stage with a band in front of you but you’re hearing them come from the roof – it’s just wrong in my mind. So, having those V7Ps at head height, acting as a ground stack, even when you’re firmly in the coverage of the GSL, because of the way the mind works, stills brings the focus back to the stage,” he noted. “The idea is to keep the downstage as clear as possible, bar a pair of centre fills and two stacks of SL subs.” Halpin disclosed a ground level of anxiety involved in the build-up to the show. “With it being the first full-capacity arena gig in 517 days and the challenge of Gorillaz projects, I was quite anxious,” he confided. “However, it has been a fantastic experience and I’m glad to be back doing what I love.” For Butcher mixing
at FOH, simply hearing a PA in an arena space once again was worth the long hours. “When this system came out, we borrowed a demo rig in 2017, and it’s been a game changer. The cardioid all the way down really works and it’s so much better than prior systems – much nicer top end and d&b ArrayProcessing works nicely with it. It’s a phenomenal system; the SPL you can get off the main hangs is amazing,” Butcher added, praising the audio vendor. “Entec is a very personable company with great people and fantastic kit.” Another stalwart of the camp is Monitor Engineer, Dave Guerin. “I was a PA Tech and monitor babysitter in ’95 during Blur’s first arena tour, and I have been involved in most of Damon’s projects since 2007.” A DiGiCo SD7Q was Guerin’s tool of choice. “Quite simply, no other desks have enough inputs and outputs. I’m using 170 channels out of 200 available, 25 monos and 70 stereos, most of which are in use. There are only around six channels I’m not using.” Albarn was not on in-ear monitors. However, the rest of the band were, with everybody sharing click tracks aside from the frontman. “I use the SD7Q as an analogue desk, each performing artist has a channel and the output
if they need it, and a generic mix which Damon likes for the side fills and wedges; it’s not a particularly loud stage by any stretch.” With a stage boasting d&b sidefills, wedges, Radial DIs, Shure mics on double kick and snares, with Sennheiser mics on the toms and overheads, Shure KSM8 mics were specified for vocals, marking a considerable change from the trusty SM58s harnessed on prior Gorillaz projects. “We’ve found there is much less proximity effect, so when he’s not singing on the mic, it doesn’t thin out as much as it did previously,” Guerin said. “Damon really likes KSM8, so we made the leap to bring them in after 33 years of SM58s and he prefers them.” As well as assisting Guerin in monitor world, Stage Technician and professional Damon Albarn wrangler, James ‘Kedge’ Kerridge, spends a lot of time fishing for the frontman’s 45m cable mic. “The challenge with this show is the sheer volume of input count and the spontaneity of Damon. We have to be prepared for the likelihood of him one day turning up with a Russian imitation Moog synthesiser – anything that’s happened once before, there’s a possibility it can happen again, so we have spares for days,” he grinned. “A few songs in, I realised it’s been 18 months of not doing this
and looking out and seeing 20,000 smiling faces was a lovely thing to be a part of. It’s a pleasure to be involved.” As the dust settled on a successful opening night, Guerin looked forward to mixing for a follow-up, full-capacity crowd. “It was great to be back doing a ‘proper’ gig – it was like we’d never been away. During the NHS show we had around 24 feature artists turn up in addition to the band, so it’s a gig which keeps me on my toes. I find all of Damon’s work and concepts diverse and creative. It’s about the textures and layers of sounds, as opposed to a textbook rock ’n’ roll show.” ‘THE FEWEST POSSIBLE CREATIVE LIMITATIONS’ Given the vast array of moving elements, the show is relatively demanding from an RF point of view. Having dealt with coordination on prior Gorillaz showcases, Mission Control’s Ali Viles was brought once again as RF Engineer. “We are running almost 60 RF channels on this show to accommodate the band, BVs and all the guest performers. Almost everyone apart from Damon has some form of RF involvement, from the guest vocals, wireless backline and an array of IEMs through
to wireless steel drums.” Viles said. “Mission Control looks after the RF licencing and spectrum management for this run of Gorillaz shows making that process simple and straightforward for production.” The RF system comprised 24 channels of Shure PSM1000 IEMs and over 30 channels of Shure Axient Digital microphones supplied by Entec. “The wireless mics and beltpacks are powered by NiMH rechargeable batteries helping us be as environmentally friendly as possible,” Viles remarked. Mission Control supplied two Li.LAC
microphone disinfectors, with Gorillaz and Entec investing in one each. “The Li.LACs enable us to quickly and easily disinfect the handheld radio mics during the show, allowing us to safely share mics between guests. The Li.LAC also gives us all peace of mind that all the vocal mics are clinically cleaned every day, helping to keep band and crew COVID-safe.” Entec also supplied THOR UVC robot to ensure the air and surfaces of the band’s rehearsal space were COVID-safe and free of any viral load, minimising risks of any type of infection. “This high-output disinfection robot
by FinsenTech kills all germs and pathogens. The whole crew loved it and it made them feel cared for and safe,” Entec Chairman, Nick Pendleton commented. “It’s great being back in the O2,” Viles said. “It’s been a while since I was last here and it’s exciting to collaborate with such an amazing team once again, creating a unique and special live event show for a capacity crowd here.” Live Music Producer, Andrew Hamwee of Opto who runs the playback department for Gorillaz picked up the story: “What makes the playback on Gorillaz more involved than most shows is the fact that we try to play as much as possible live. By expanding the technological capabilities of this system, it has allowed us to have the fewest possible creative limitations, elevating the live performance to a new level, sonically and musically. For example, where on many gigs you may have 50% track, 50% live band, we try to keep the linear track elements minimal, instead opting for more sampling and emulation of keyboard and drum sounds for MIDI triggering.” Although the music stemmed from playback may seem minimal, every musician and guest
artist on stage had their own click with varied timecode references and flexibility to allow the band to loop and record individual live parts. “It’s a mammoth system,” Hamwee said, gesturing to the outstanding setup in which MIDI Technician, Darren ‘Dazza’ Clark dealt with the stage end – everything behind the rack – so Hamwee could manage the incoming data. The system was heavily integrated into audio, with Hamwee considering the setup more audio than backline. “We’re running everything on Optocore DD2s, across multiple systems, as well as a DiGiCo SD11 purely for monitoring purposes for the playback department. During a changeover, we can check all our lines independently of the audio department, and then hand them over for the show,” Hamwee explained. The whole rig ran at 96k with playback
across 70 channels. “We’ve maxed out all 16 channels of MIDI and are putting the rig through its paces,” Hamwee explained. “In previous years the electronic drum setup reached capacity using hardware samplers, so we’ve migrated to software with Mainstage being the chosen DAW alongside the original Mainstage
lot of the crew to wait, and I’ve seen quite a few caterers fall through the cracks and not return to the sector,” she said, explaining how staff working on the Olympics compounded the struggle to find tried-and-tested staff. “However, despite the initial struggle of finding crew, I’ve realised that good things come out of that, such as the melding of unique personalities and faces. I’ve got a really random team involved in this show, like the owner of the restaurant I was a waiter at during the pandemic, a butler for private gigs, and all sorts of talented people with interesting backgrounds. Above all, it’s fantastic to be back and be around creative people again, collaborating to make something special.” ‘A NEW ERA FOR LIVE EVENTS’ Ensuring the kit was transported from A to B was Fly By Nite. “I’ve got a good team of drivers here with seven of our trucks and two other vehicles loaded for PA,” commented Lead Truck Driver, Phil Infield. “Once we’ve loaded, three of us are off to Newquay for Boardmasters, which Gorillaz are headlining.” Recounting a tough 18 months, Infield praised the tireless work of FBN Managing
keyboard setup. Every electronic pad and drum trigger runs through this system, so it’s quite substantial. The entire system is likely to expand going forward, which is unbelievable given its size!” With Guerin piloting his own custom software he wrote for iPads on stage, Hamwee also piloted relatively custom software. Running 10 iPads on stage over PoE and nine laptops off stage provided the team with maximum control and flexibility to allow musicians to interact with them and communicate with each other. “Being back at the O2, I really took for granted the ability to perform to such a large capacity crowd and the energy you receive, how it affects the overall performance and your decision making process. To be the first ones back in the O2 doing a full-capacity show after 517 days away is an incredible feeling”. Hamwee concluded. “This system was designed with optimum redundancy and power distribution in mind, specifically for this environment and format. It is fantastic to be
able to use the system to its full capabilities after so long – it’s a challenging but wholly rewarding project to be a part of.” ‘18 MONTHS IS A LONG TIME TO WAIT’ Keeping morale high and stomachs full throughout the project was The Pantry Maid’s Lucy Bell. “I’ve worked for Damon for 12 years now – he was one of my first clients when I set up The Pantry Maid,” she began. “Gorillaz shows grow year on year, so it’s always a fun challenge to keep up the pace.” Having spent some of the past 18 months waitressing amid the lockdown of live events, as restrictions slowly began to ease in November last year, Bell invested in a food truck – which has appeared on several livestream projects with the likes of Gorillaz and Dua Lipa at LH2, as well as stints at London’s Printworks and catered for TV and broadcast shoots with Pulse Films – to weather the economic storm of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The food truck is the way forward,” remarked Bell. “18 months was too long for a
Director, Dave Coumbe. “He’s kept all the drivers going despite operating in different sectors, working for the likes of Royal Mail, Amazon, Halfords, and various other companies amid the COVID-19 pandemic, to keep the wheels turning,” he said, conceding the loss of a couple of drivers to other sectors. “We’ve also gained some drivers during the pandemic. We’re starting to see old faces filtering back. We’ve got around 85 event drivers; 170 trucks and we plan on keeping the general haulage side of the firm going until live events return to full strength.” Infield’s scope as a lead driver has seen the veteran oversee the logistics of everything from a one-truck tour to Drake’s mammoth 41-truck tour prior to the pandemic. “We’re happy to be here; it’s good for the team and there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel now,” he said, brimming with enthusiasm. “This is a great venue – one of the best in Europe, because it caters for everything. It was good to see plenty of smiling, happy faces and people enjoying themselves. Let’s hope this is the start of a new era for live events.” www.gorillaz.com www.negearth.com www.video-design.co.uk www.enteclive.com www.brilliantstages.com www.flybynite.co.uk www.radiotek.co.uk www.block9.com www.pixelmappers.com www.thepantrymaid.com www.wearethehive.com
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NEVILL HOLT OPERA A state-of-the-art d&b audiotechnik Soundscape system helps recreate an opera house environment for Nevill Holt Opera’s summer series of outdoor shows.
Words: Stew Hume Photos: Southby Productions
At the risk of stating the obvious, we at TPi are obsessed with the technology behind event production. From moving lights to complex video screens and cutting-edge developments in audio, we’re always keen to cover the latest innovation in the sector. It is for this reason that opera – an acoustic art form by its very nature – is rarely featured in our pages. PA boxes and mics are a rare sight anywhere near such a production. So, when we heard that Nevill Holt Opera had joined forces with Southby Productions and Sound Designer, Mark Rogers to create an outdoor d&b Soundscape system as well as a digital acoustic shell that recreated the playing environment of Stanford University’s Bing Concert Hall for the orchestra, to say we were intrigued would be an understatement. Swapping our usual band T-shirt and jeans for a suit, TPi caught up with the team behind Nevill Holt Opera in the stunning surroundings of Nevill Holt Hall to find how the productions of La Traviata and Don Giovanni had embraced 21st Century technology. Nevill Holt Opera has always embraced change, with one of its major goals being
to empower people from a variety of demographics with wide-ranging educational programmes. However, after the national lockdown, when the team was given the green light for its summer series, it seemed counterintuitive to bring people into a theatre with social distancing protocols in place, which would inevitably limit the audience size. “We had two choices with these two performances,” began Nevill Holt Opera Managing Director, Annie Lydford. “Either we put them on in our own indoor theatre, which would mean a socially distanced audience, or we put on a show in the grounds and make the production even bigger.” With a wider community that is desperate to go to live events once again, the team had no doubt which was the best option. “It’s really exciting to have a creative response to the difficult circumstances that COVID-19 has put us under for such a long time,” Lydford said. Acknowledging the initial fears about maintaining the audio quality in an outdoor setting, Lydford was pleased to report that any negative preconceptions from the Nevill Holt audience have been “well and truly blown
out of the water”. “I have never had so many patrons come to me after a show and comment on the quality of the sound,” she stated enthusiastically. “Many people, during the performance, reported completely forgetting that the show was being amplified.” FROM ORCHESTRAL PIT TO PA Winding the clocks back to the inception of this latest Soundscape project, Lydford explained how they came across this solution. “Back in 2017, we had worked with Sound Designer, Mark Rogers on a production of Benjamin Britten’s Noye’s Fludde. He was so great that we collaborated a few times after and when it came to these two outdoor shows, we asked for his advice.” It was Rogers who suggested d&b’s Soundscape solution and introduced the team to Chris Jones from Southby Production – the team behind Bjork’s famed immersive performances. Joining both Rogers, Jones and Lydford in those early meetings was Nevill Holt Opera Artistic Director and La Traviata Conductor, Nicholas Chalmers. “The direction of sound is vital in opera,” began Chalmers, as
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he explained why traditionally, the left and right PA setup simply doesn’t work for the format. “The ear directs you to where all the drama is – especially when you are dealing with a big set.” When the team was given the demo at d&b’s HQ, they began to see what was possible and how, with a Soundscape system, the audience would be able to hear true replication of what was happening onstage, with an impressive array of speakers laid out around the arena. The result was that the set for the entire show was effectively a giant thrust from the main tent that housed the orchestra. The audience then surrounded the stage with a main grandstand, two winged stands with a third set of seats behind the thrust closer to the orchestra. “One of my greatest concerns going down this path was that we might lose some of the emotion in the singers’ voices,” stated Chalmers. “Susanna especially, who is playing Violetta, has an amazing emotional quality in her voice. When we get closer towards act two
and three, you really want to be able to hear the emotion and, thankfully, the system still very much catches those moments.” Chalmers was conducting just outside the main tent between the orchestra and the thrust stage when the actors were performing. “I’ve got my own wedges, which is useful as I get to hear the singers back to me. The orchestra also fed some of the singers, although I try to avoid listening to them too much, as with opera you want to keep things moving.” With a FOH position just to the right of the main grandstand, TPi spoke to Sound Designer, Mark Rogers, and Mike Cox, who was assisting in the setup as well as manning the d&b spatial software. “I’m mixing during the show, while Mike is in control of the spatial audio movement of the soloists on the touchscreen,” began Rogers, going on to commend the support he had received from both the team at Southby as well as d&b audiotechnik’s Adam Hockley. Rogers mixed on a DiGiCo SD10. “DiGiCo
desks are my go-to for this type of show,” he commented. From his desk, he also fired QLab cues to the Soundscape system that triggered the mass choreographed movement of the chorus cast. While these large movements of many actors were very much choreographed, when it came to the soloists, the more refined touch of Cox was needed to give each singer the freedom to move where they wished on the stage without impeding their performance. “Soundscape has opened many options when it comes to production,” mused Rogers. “With the second show – Don Giovanni – right up until the last few weeks of rehearsals, the Director was still coming up with ideas of how we could use the sound system to our advantage. For example, there is a moment where traditionally musicians from the orchestra play off-stage. That would be difficult to do in this outdoor mic’d environment, but by using Soundscape, we can place those elements of the orchestra in the crowd to
dramatic effect. There’s also a statue that comes to life and walks around. Using both Soundscape and d&b’s En-Space reverb, we were able to give this character a spine-tingling ghostly aura that moved as he moved.” The mere presence of microphones separated this production from many other operas. “Opera singers tend not to like microphones,” stated Rogers. “A big task for us with this show was gaining the confidence of the cast.” Due to the potential issues with wind, they were unable to go for forehead microphones, opting instead for side-ofthe-face models with DPA windshields. The majority of the cast used Shure Axient wireless packs with a few foundation cast members using Sennheiser G3s. TPi grabbed some time with one of the leads of the show, Luis Gomes, who played the role of Alfredo Germont. “This production has been quite a different experience as a performer,” he began. “In opera, as a singer, you rely a lot on
the acoustics of the theatre and never really use mics. You must be conscious of them more than you would in a normal production when you’re gesturing. The results Mark and the team have produced are amazing.” Having had the opportunity to enjoy the Soundscape system from the audience perspective during rehearsals, Gomes was “really impressed” with how natural it all sounded. “It didn’t sound like amplification and didn’t disrupt what was happening onstage at all,” he commented, adding that having an engineer like Rogers, who is a classical musician in his own right and understands the nuances of the genre, made all the difference. PHYSICAL BOXES Southby Productions’ Chris Jones walked TPi through the impressive arsenal of black boxes present across the stage and around the audience area – 81 to be precise. “Following our work on Bjork’s Soundscape show, we had
invested in a lot of wide-dispersion speakers, which are essential for the Soundscape setup,” he stated, pointing out the wide range of models, including V10Ps, Y10Ps, SL-SUBs, T10s, E4s, E8s, M4s and B6-SUBs. “Over the past three years, we have worked hard to become a specialist in this solution so we can take clients through the whole process, demoing the system to creating a solution for them,” stated Jones, using the latest collaboration with Nevill Holt as an example. “This partnership with d&b has been invaluable for us as we can lean on their educational output and individuals such as Adam Hockley, who specialise in this style of music.” Jones believes Soundscape was the ideal solution for this project. “The outdoor setup included a large diamond thrust extension to the main orchestral stage which goes far into the audience. This means a singer could be performing as much as 25m from a traditional L/R loudspeaker system flown on each side
of the main stage. This distance equates to around 72 milliseconds of delay from when an audience member would be hearing the natural sound wave propagating from a singer’s mouth versus the reinforced sound wave.” This would have been very disconcerting to the audience as they would be hearing the singer’s voice twice. “Soundscape solves this problem by placing multiple loudspeakers across every stage front edge and allowing the sound designer to now treat the singer as an ‘object’ in Soundscape and delaying the reinforced sound of the singer back to its original source – the singer’s mouth. The two are now perfectly aligned,” he explained. Jones was keen to point out just how many doors the company’s specialisation in Soundscape had opened. “As well as being involved in this production, we are working on an immersive theme park installation with the sound designer behind Harry Potter and the Cursed Child as well as a range of future Soundscape projects including one that fuses an orchestra with a well-known EDM artist. The next 12 months are going to be a lot of fun!”
Southby Productions Technical Director, Digby Shaw; Southby Productions Director, Chris Jones; Sound Designer, Mark Rogers with Sound Engineer, Mike Cox.
THE ACOUSTIC SHELL Until this point, the immersive Soundscape system experienced by the audience has justifiably been the focus. However, that was only half of the story. Moving upstage toward the orchestral tent, there was even more acoustic trickery as the audio team created a fully functional digital acoustic shell. Performing from a tent structure in the hills of Leicestershire, the Manchester Camerata
– which was accompanying the singers of La Traviata – was transported to Stanford University’s own Opera Hall thanks to d&b’s acoustic simulations. Throughout the tent were 15 d&b E8s speakers. “Normally when you do an outdoor event when the orchestra are in a tent structure, you would expect for some of the musicians to have trouble hearing each other, such as the back chairs of the violins being unable to hear the double basses,” stated Rogers, outlining some of the issues with recreating classical music outdoors. “This has been made even worse in COVID times when we are adhering to social distancing measures and each player is even further apart.” However, the d&b acoustic shell was able to effectively recreate the natural feedback you would expect from a concert hall. “We listened to a few of the versions that d&b had sampled from other halls, but the Stanford emulation was our eventual choice due to the smoothness of the reverb,” stated Rogers. “Both Mike and I come from the world of Abbey Road Studios and expensive reverbs – hence the Bricasti M7 we have at FOH – and we are very fussy that it can never sound metallic, but this particle emulation sounded very natural. We were blown away as soon as we turned it on when we had the orchestra in place – it sounded fantastic.” The musicians were just as impressed with the solution as the engineers. “When we were approached about this show and told it would be outdoors, we were apprehensive, with visions of flapping sides of a tent and
a less-than-adequate monitoring system,” commented Manchester Camerata Head of Artistic Development and Programming, James Thomas. “However, as soon as we heard about the concept of the acoustic shell, we were all very excited.” Each of the instruments was individually mic’d, utilising a range of models including DPA 4099s, Neumann KM84s, KM184s and AKG 414s. “One thing that came out of the social distancing measures was that using one microphone to pick up a few players was impossible,” interjected Cox. “This meant mic’ing each player, which inevitably meant more channels, but in the end this worked to our advantage as we were able to create more separation within the mix.” With each of the musicians being mic’d, Thomas explained this meant musicians had to adapt their playing style. “When the strings first performed some pizzicato section of the pieces [plucking the strings of a violin] we found it was incredibly loud. In a hall, a player often has to give a lot to the pizzicato section to give off the right sound, but the system picked it up so well they didn’t have to work so hard on those sections.” To close, TPi asked Thomas how he and the entire Manchester Camerata felt about returning to more ‘traditional’ outdoor events now they had been treated to this system. “It’s an interesting question,” he laughed. “I would love to use this again whenever we can, but it will always come down to what is necessary for
each show – along with logistics and budget, I’m sure.” Chalmers gave his final thoughts on the acoustic shell system. “From the beginning, I was concerned with the orchestra playing in a tent and not getting the adequate, natural feedback from their own instruments and the other players. However, we were very much sold on the idea as soon as d&b presented the system and showed us an example from the Ravenna Festival. There was a worry among some of the team that it would never sound as good on stage when we left the studio rehearsals, but when we got on site and the system was turned on, it was even better.” BUILDING THE SHELL Acorn Structures was responsible for building the shell, working closely with Lydford to create an external space that would allow the productions to go ahead even if internal COVID-19 restrictions were in place. Acorn Structures Senior Sales and Business Development, Toby Shann advised on the project and spoke to TPi about the work Acorn did on site. “One of our mid-range 18m dome stages, used for events such as Victorious Festival and concerts including Blossoms and Jess Glynne, was installed with a raised platform to the front. The platform was dressed by another contractor to create a grassland feel so the performance could be extended beyond the stage. “In addition, we supplied and installed a covered seating
grandstand with a capacity for approximately 300 people as well as a covered wheelchair platform. Acorn Co-Founder and Managing Director of Structures, Andy Nutter added: “Working with the team at Nevill Holt Opera has been a pleasure and we are glad that, though their inside theatre had re-opened before the production of La Traviata, Acorn could help create an external space that complimented the work of the company.” BRAVO With TPi witnessing the closing night of La Traviata, the team at Nevill Holt Opera was excited to welcome the next production of Don Giovanni. As the cast toasted to a successful run, Annie Lydford summed up. “For the five shows which have taken place so far, I’ve been blown away by how many people have come up to me afterwards and said how amazing the orchestra sounded. I never expected to get that kind of reaction to the sound quality while hosting performances outdoors. Due to this success, the floodgates are open now in terms of what is possible. It could be interesting to supplement our regular theatre productions with an outside event welcoming more than double the usual capacity. It completely changes what’s possible.” www.nevillholtopera.co.uk www.mark-rogers.com www.southby-productions.co.uk www.acorn-events.com www.dbsoundscape.com
HEAVY MUSIC AWARDS 2021 Following last year’s successful online rendition, The Heavy Music Awards puts together a hybrid show at the O2 Forum Kentish Town, welcoming an in-person crowd and an avid audience on Twitch.
Words: Stew Hume Photos: James North [show shots] & Matt Higgs [crew shots]
Starting in 2017, the Heavy Music Awards was founded on the principle of recognising musicians, producers, and creatives working across the entire heavy music landscape. During the event’s fourth year in 2020, due to the state of the world, the awards opted to move the show to a completely online format, with live performances being captured at Subfrantic Studios, overseen by the team at AfterLive Music. With this greater attention on the online version, the Heavy Music Awards (HMAs) saw a sizeable uptick of interest from the global alternative community, with a record-breaking number of votes being cast and 177,000 tuning in to watch live. “We’ve built a global audience since we began the HMAs in 2017, and we certainly wanted to keep that growing – but the COVID-19 pandemic gave us an opportunity to be creative and find new ways to present our event,” commented Andy Pritchard, CoFounder of the HMAs. For the 2021 iteration, with in-person events now allowed in the UK,
the team opted to take things one step further, hosting a hybrid performance which gave 2,400 die-hard music fans the chance to mosh under one roof to some of the UK’s freshest talent including Sleep Token, Trash Boat, Hot Milk and As Everything Unfolds, alongside an army of fans tuned in via Twitch. “It was a huge relief to welcome fans back for the HMAs after such a long period of uncertainty,” Pritchard stated. “For many attendees we know this was a first step back to some kind of normality, so it was hugely important to us that they felt comfortable. AMG’s clear entry policy and the team at the venue made life a lot simpler for us.” Pritchard gave his opinion on the ‘hybrid’ format. “There was a sweet spot where livestreams were the only way for bands to connect with fans, but we’re largely through that now so in terms of straightforward live shows, the onus is on artists to offer something much more valuable than just sticking a camera in a room as it can undermine the reason live
music is so special in the first place,” he posed. “For a livestream to be worthwhile now, it needs to be something unique.” Before the first band hit the stage, TPi was on the show floor chatting to the technical crew who pulled together all the pieces of this alternative gathering. AFTERLIVE MUSIC A key player in last year’s successful virtual event was AfterLive Music Director, Adam Bonner. Taking on the role of Production Manager this year, Bonner discussed how his collaboration with the HMAs began. “I suppose you’ve got to wind the clocks back to early lockdown,” he mused. “I founded AfterLive Music as a reaction to some of those early streamed events – many of which had incredibly poor audio quality.” As the company’s name suggests, AfterLive Music is committed to work on events that can be enjoyed not just at the time of the show, but also at home. Alongside fellow Director, Tegan
Desporte, the company was formed with the mantra of ‘capturing moments and creating memories for all’ and has already worked on numerous shows that fit the mould of the new normal of hybrid concerts events. One of the first projects AfterLive Music worked on was a series of shoots at the new Subfrantic Studios [TPi #264]. “We picked a few bands that we knew would be up for performing a set, all of which they and their crew did for free,” enthused Bonner. One of the bands was British metalers, Heart Of A Coward. After one of the members posted an image of the set from the shoot to Instagram, it garnered the attention of HMAs Co-Founder, Dave Bradley. “Dave got in touch with us and wanted to know more about the space. He explained that they were taking this year’s awards online, and that’s how it all began – the power of social media!” For 2020, AfterLive Music along with video specialist, Moshhh worked on a threeday shoot that was eventually packaged up and sent out into cyberspace. In line with regulations easing, organisers were keen to return to the venue where they had hosted the
event in 2019 – the O2 Forum Kentish Town. “This year, the whole venue was split into two distinct areas,” outlined Bonner. “While we looked after everything in the venue for the live crowd, Moshhh – headed up by Charlie Ryan – took care of the filming and streaming in a makeshift studio outside.” Lightwave Productions supplied additional lighting and LED screens. “Henry [Clarke, Founder of Lightwave] has supplied lighting floor packages for several Haken tours I have worked on and I regularly freelance for them,” Bonner said. “Henry is really chilled and easy to get on with, not to mention genuinely loves what he does and always goes above and beyond. It made it a no-brainer to bring Lightwave aboard.” The PM was quick to compliment O2 Forum’s Technical Manager, John Pinner, who was “helpful and accommodating”, throughout the whole process, as well as the venue for its impressive in-house equipment – from the lights to the audio system. “We were making use of their L-Acoustics K2 system, which during lockdown had been tuned by Tool’s
System Engineer, Liam Halpin – hence, it sounded so great.” As well as his general PM duties, Bonner also oversaw the audio delivery. While he handled the presentation side of the show with a Yamaha QL1, FOH accommodated space for the band’s engineers. One engineer mixed for both Trash Boat and As Everything Unfold on an Allen & Heath SQ5, as did Sleep Token’s engineer, while Hot Milk’s mix was controlled by a DiGiCo SD11. “It was quite cosy,” laughed Bonner. The team also supplied a Shure Axient Digital system for mics. “As this show needed a broadcast split, it made what would have been a relatively simple four-band line-up somewhat more complicated,” he stated. “There is also no room in the wings for rolling risers. Our solution was using the house three-way split with one feed going to the audio truck out back then repatching the house tails on stage to each of the band’s racks as we went along.” Bonner praised the O2 Forum’s in-house FOH Audio Engineer, Ed Thomas and Monitor Engineer, Eleonora Romano who handled the lion’s share of the patch work. “Although none
of the bands had particularly high channel counts, with such a short turnaround, things could have become complicated quite quickly. Thankfully everyone was on it.” LIGHTWAVE PRODUCTIONS Continuing the conversation backstage was Lightwave Productions’ Henry Clarke. “We provided some equipment for last year’s online version of the awards although that was very much on a dry hire basis, whereas this year Adam explained that he wanted us to come in to design the show,” he began. This project had come during a very busy time for Lightwave that, like most of the industry, has been in overdrive since being given the green light to reopen. “Like most, we’re struggling to hire people right now as people are still working on other jobs and nervous to get back into the industry – but all you can do is keep cracking on,” Clarke said. Focusing on the HMAs, Clarke outlined the brief he’d been given for the design. “One of the main concerns was to make sure it looks great on camera as well as live. It’s always a balance
with this type of show as cameramen always want loads of front light while bands don’t. It’s a bit of a compromise.” Like Bonner, Clarke was impressed with the venue’s house rig, which includes Robe Spiiders, Robin 150s and MegaPointes. The team at Lightwave then supplemented additional fixtures that aligned the house rig with Robe Spiiders and 150s alongside Claypaky Mythos and SQM Q7 strobes. For Sleep Token’s headline set, the supplier provided additional Robe LEDWash 600s for their floor package. “With the house rig, Lightwave’s additional fixtures and Sleep Token’s floor package, we had around 150 moving lights – which is quite a lot for a stage of this size,” enthused Bonner. The venue also supplied its in-house Avolites Sapphire Touch, with Lightwave bringing in an additional MA Lighting grandMA2 for Sleep Token’s LD. Manning the console during the build and show was Sam Parry. After Clarke sent a rough CAD drawing of the show, Parry began mocking up looks, then came in the day before the show to pull all the pieces
together. “This venue has a remarkably lovely set up in the sky,” Parry said. “We’ve even got Ayrton Diablos, which we are using as front light to ensure the camera crew have the cleanest light for the broadcast.” Having just come off several TV and film shoots, Parry explained that he was more than familiar with the type of conversations he needed to have with the camera crew for this type of shoot. “Steven, who is overseeing the camera, and I spoke prior to the show; I gave him the numbers I was working with and from there, he was able to go out on stage and set his white balance,” he explained. Having been involved with several livestreams during the past 18 months, Parry shared his thoughts on hybrid events such as the HMAs, where the online and in-person audience were given equal priority. “We are seeing more of an evolution than a revolution,” he explained. “Thankfully, we are now doing real shows again, but there are an awful lot more cameras involved now. There were many people through lockdown that thought we all might make the jump to virtual worlds and VR
headsets, and although huge strides were made, people still want to experience the real world. For those unable to come to some of these events or afford a ticket, it’s great we have more of these streaming options.” Also part of the visual team was Live Video Operator, Mark Smith. At his workstation in the wings of stage right, he walked TPi through methods in which he was ensuring content was streamed onto the rear LED wall. “We’ve got an outdoor Unilumin 3.9mm LED screen, so it’s really good quality,” he explained. “We are running all the content via a Barco E2 switcher, which has been really great to work with – it’s much smarter than me,” he chuckled. As well as streaming the logos of both the bands and the awards on the rear LED screen, content was also streamed to the IMAG projectors set up in the venue, as well as out to the broadcast vans out back. As one of the many from the live events workforce that had to take up a delivery job during lockdown, Smith enthused about how great it was to be back
working on shows again, having just got off site at this year’s All Points East. MOSHHH Off the back of the loading dock of the O2 Forum, TPi encountered several vans and a tour bus, all of which collectively created a makeshift studio for this extensive broadcast offering. Explaining the intricate setup was Charlie Ryan of Moshhh. Having started as a passion project, Ryan’s goal for Moshhh was to recording the live performances of up-andcoming bands. Over the years, Moshhh has carved out a niche, working with bands on the alternative side of the industry, with acts including While She Sleeps as well as working with the HMAs since its inception. Although in recent times Moshhh has also been involved in some bigger acts including a behind the scenes shoot with David Guetta. “It’s mad to see how far we’ve come,” he recalled. “The first year we were involved, we were doing a simple multi-camera
shoot and now we have a 40-person crew working on the HMAs from the crew working in the venue to those involved in the stream.” Although having been involved in many live shoots, this was one of Moshhh’s first true ventures into a streamed event. To aid in the process, Moshhh brought in Sound Credit TV to provide the hardware and crew to make the broadcast possible. Representing Sound Credit TV in the broadcast van and handling the live video directing of each of the performances was James Light. With a plethora of Blackmagic Switchers and cameras, Light explained how this project differed from the work he usually did on behalf of the company. “Sound Credit often does a lot of financial webcasting in the corporate market,” he explained, adding that he is no stranger to the live events world, having just come off Green Man Festival. In total, Light dealt with five camera feeds coming in from the performance. He then produced a cut that was sent to another OB
truck, which was streaming the feed to The Heavy Network’s Twitch channel. With this being one of the most ambitious projects Moshhh had ever been involved in, Ryan gave his final thoughts on this year’s HMAs. “Last year working with the team at AfterLive Music was such a positive experience, it was a no-brainer to jump on board this year. Although this is a huge step up, worlds apart from the scale of our last venture together, being surrounded by such talented people certainly made it a smooth experience for all involved. Roll on the next one!” THE FUTURE With our interviews done, TPi headed up to the venue’s balcony to watch the festivities unfold. From the amusing hosting of Alex Baker during the ceremony to the atmospheric antics of the mysterious Sleep Token, it certainly was a night of celebration for the return to live events and alternative music from around the world. Although televised award shows are nothing new, with events such as the BRITs and the MOBOs two of many examples, this year’s HMAs seemed to have a mission of achieving something special for all, no matter if you were watching at home or in the pit. As some may know, sadly the stream was scuppered by Twitch’s community guidelines, due to an outfit worn by guest vocalist, Milkie Way from Wargasm – a damn shame as the show truly represented the connectivity that live music can create with the correct infrastructure in place. “We’re really proud of the Heavy Music Awards this year,” concluded
Pritchard. “It felt like a big step forward with a bigger audience and production along with 1.4m votes, which is a significant increase on 2020. We’re incredibly thankful that the rock and metal community has continued to back the HMAs in such numbers and look forward to letting the world know what we have up our sleeve for 2022!” In terms of what the future might hold for these types of events, both Adam Bonner and Tegan Desporte can see potential in the format. “I feel that there is still an awful lot of apprehension in the industry,” Bonner said. “A few people on the industry side are still working out how they can monetise elements like streaming and how it will work alongside live, but it’s just going to take a few more companies to decide to take the risk. It’s going to take some time, but it is giving artists an invaluable way to connect with their fans.” Desporte added: “For me, it all comes down to the importance of accessibility. There are so many people out there that due to personal, physical or financial reasons, are unable to go to live events. That said, if they can spend £5, why shouldn’t they be able to enjoy a highquality live experience? It’s all about creating memories and moments for people, no matter where they are. That is exactly what we are trying to do with AfterLive Music – so, watch this space.” www.heavymusicawards.com www.afterlivemusic.com www.moshhh.com www.lightwaveproductions.co.uk www.soundcredit.tv
Opposite: AfterLive Music’s Tegan Desporte and Adam Bonner. Above: Lighting Designer, Sam Parry; Live Video Operator, Mark Smith; Lightwave Productions’ Henry Clarke.
REOPENING O2 BRIXTON ACADEMY: CIRCA WAVES Brixton Academy welcomes a capacity crowd of Circa Waves faithful orchestrated by a band of battle-hardened roadies for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Words: Jacob Waite Photos: Jordan Hughes [close-ups] & Luke Dyson [from FOH]
After over a year in oblivion with no in-person audiences, O2 Brixton Academy finally flung open its doors in August to welcome a talented but equally beleaguered troupe of technical production crew and raucous fans during the final stop of Circa Waves’ sold-out UK tour. Initially devised in support of their fourth album, Sad Happy – which was released in two parts in January and March 2020 – Circa Waves, like all touring acts, found their forthcoming stage offering shelved, postponed and ultimately, cancelled in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over a year later, the Liverpudlian indie rockers were given the go-ahead to pick up their tour, with technical support from the likes of Siyan, SSE Audio/Wigwam, Northern Star Touring and Pixeled Video providing
expertise, equipment and infrastructure. An Allen & Heath dLive supplied by SSE Audio/ Wigwam, situated in monitor world was, by far, the standout piece of kit for Tour Manager/ Monitor Engineer, AJ Sutherland, who recalled the vital aspects of the mixing console. “I was so busy with the tour management side of the job, that it was a necessity to have a console I could programme and operate quickly. The extensive options regarding surface configuration and the number of assignable soft keys meant I could get the monitors done to a high standard with minimal faffing about.” However, extra admin regarding health and safety paperwork and the rapid scramble to keep the show on the road when crew suddenly had to isolate is something Sutherland, who ended up testing positive
along with another member of the technical production team midway through the tour, had to prepare for. Following his unforeseen exit from the tour, FOH Engineer, Joe Crouch’s workload was expanded to assume the role of the day-today tour management as well as his traditional mixing duties. “We were really fortunate to have him there ready to go,” remarked Sutherland, describing Crouch as the ‘right person’ to step up and command both roles. “Everyone stepped up and helped out as much as possible when two members of the crew tested positive for COVID-19, and it was only due to the efforts from the crew and band that meant we could continue,” Crouch said rather modestly, speaking to TPi having successfully paved a COVID-19 secure pathway to the final, headline date of the tour.
“It was fantastic to be able to reach Brixton Academy for the last show of the tour and play a key part in the reopening of such an iconic venue. The atmosphere was incredible.” COVID-19 also affected the day-to-day aspects of Crouch’s traditional touring workflow. He highlighted “simple things like working out the best route to FOH before doors” to avoid as much contact as possible with audiences, to “making sure we were careful about who was backstage and on the bus at all times” – each posing a significant logistical challenge. Despite restrictions easing by the time they reached O2 Brixton Academy, the crew protected themselves and continued to respect the boundaries and differing rules from venue to venue. The bus was well stocked with lateral flow tests, and once the
positive cases were discovered in the group, a plan was put in place to deal with it. “The band were separated from the crew and taken directly to a hotel, in case more of the crew were positive. We then organised for both band and crew to have PCR tests to assess how well we could continue the rest of the tour. Luckily, these all came back negative, and after consulting with the promoter and the next venue, the following show was able to take place,” Crouch said, recalling the haste in which the crew had to seek replacements to fill the roles of TM/Monitor Engineer and Guitar Technician at a day’s notice. “Everything on the bus was sterilised with the help of our driver, and all the equipment that our crew had touched had to be cleaned thoroughly. While it’s always important to stay healthy on tour, it’s never been such an
important and complex issue as it is now,” Crouch underlined. Of equal importance, Crouch believes, is maintaining the connectivity of crew amid the pandemic. “There is still some uncertainty surrounding the future of live events,” he said, referring to the loss of talented individuals to other sectors during the lockdown of live events. “It’s important that crew can support each other, whether it’s by helping out with staff shortages last minute, recommending colleagues for roles to help clients put on the best events possible, or simply discussing and sharing best practices to keep shows safe. This is all done by connecting and communicating as much as possible.” For all the uncertainties facing the team, excitement, it appears, was the prevailing emotion. “Circa Waves were the first band to
play at some of these venues since before the COVID-19 pandemic,” Crouch said, recounting the “buzz” of busy people engaged and excited about putting on a show. “Everyone from our team and all of the local staff I worked with echoed the same sort of feelings – it’s good to be back doing what we love. We had a really great team on the tour and everyone did an incredible job, from the advance to the implementation of the shows and the work from the local staff and crews. “It’s obvious from the reactions the band had from the audiences and the atmosphere at the shows that everyone had been looking forward to getting back to live events and to seeing live music in-person. It’s great to be able to help people enjoy something that they have been missing, and that at one point no one was 100% certain we would have back.”
Despite the 18-month hiatus, dancing and singing with a crowd quickly felt normal again. “It still feels like there are still some challenges ahead for the live events sector; whether it’s the possibility of new COVID variants and restrictions or difficulties with international travel into Europe and the rest of the world, but I also believe that the events industry is resourceful and adaptable, and people will always want to experience live events,” Crouch shared. “My time away from this job has only made me realise how much I love it, and I’m going to try my best to continue doing it for as long as possible.” ‘THE FIRST GIG BACK IN MANY VENUES’ “This design was signed off and ready to go last year and then COVID-19 hit, and the tour was cancelled a week-and-a-half prior to
it starting,” Show Designer, Liam Tully said, recalling the devastating news of the tour’s cancellation after he had just completed his first full day of programming. “The latest iteration of the design has changed slightly,” he explained, pointing out that everything was initially uploaded to Dropbox and left for the best part of a year, so it was ready to go. “I’d advanced everything during that last week in March 2020.” Following a series of cyclical on-andoff dates filling up the pages of his touring calendar, Tully had little hope that the show and his designs would ever see the light of day. “I honestly didn’t think it would happen, and I had taken on prior commitments with James Bay, expecting the Circa Waves tour to be cancelled. Even a week prior to the tour, we were waiting for confirmation on Scotland’s
easing of restrictions, with two dates of the tour set for Scotland. Our tour began on the 10th, but Scotland didn’t make an announcement until the eighth, so it was very touch and go. Gigs over a certain capacity in Scotland also required a specific event licence, which AJ and the production team handled expertly,” Tully reported. “In the end, it worked out well because we were the first gig back in many of the venues we visited on the tour,” he said, referencing O2 Academy venues like Leicester, Glasgow and Brixton as a ‘surreal’ experience, having spent the past 18 months creating content for screen consumption. “I’ve never seen audiences react to support bands, as well as the main act, so positively. I had to pinch myself now and again to remind myself that it was real.” The show was run on a MA Lighting grandMA3 full size console run on MA2 mode. The entire show was visualised in Syncronorm
Depence² from Tully’s home. Around half the songs were set to timecode, overseen by Lighting Operator, Zach Burnside, during the dates of Tully’s prior commitments. The design was based around a big, white cyc backdrop, lit up for most of the show – “humongous backlit looks on a big white cyc with different colours and no frontlight with band silhouetted” was how Tully described it. Equipment-wise, GLP impression X4 Bars adorned the lighting rig, side and wash light was achieved by Martin by Harman MAC Aura XBs, while Philips SL NITRO 510s were tasked with sidelight duties. “This tour was quite difficult to design because we were going from Glasgow Academy, which houses around 3,000 with a normal-sized stage, to Norwich’s Waterfront with around 600 capacity,” Tully said, describing the project as a “hybrid tour”, which meant cramming as much of the design in as possible each night. “I had a plan B, C and, in
some cases, D. This often required cutting down some of the six towers of sidelights as well as a few fixtures from the back of the rig.” For the headline show, additional fixtures were provided for the side towers, such as Robe MegaPointes, Claypaky Sharpys and Martin By Harman MAC Aura XBs. “There are a lot of budget requirements from bands following the pandemic, so being flexible with the fixture choice is crucial. Siyan were very accommodating to the budget and met it straight away,” Tully said, having shared a long-standing relationship with the lighting vendor for many years, recently collaborating on James Blake’s Shakespeare Globe livestream [TPi #256]. Siyan also ensured a 50/50 gender split of crew for the O2 Brixton Academy date. “It’s great to see the gender divide starting to balance out naturally without it being a conscious decision,” Sutherland stated. “Everyone seemed to be happy to be back at
work, which fed through to all facets of the production,” Tully added, summing up his personal experience. “It felt like we were back to normal and it was a relief to complete the tour safely. Although a part of me is slightly worried about being shut down again, which has never happened before in my career. Now there is a pang of doubt in the back of my mind whenever I design a show.” Pixeled Video supplied four Magic FX stadium shots and two Magic FX stage shots along with 20kg of confetti for the O2 Brixton Academy date. Despite missing the headline show, Sutherland’s tour highlight came during the band’s hometown O2 Liverpool Academy show, where he was able to trigger the confetti cannon himself. Pixeled Video Director, Lucy Harrison supplied, set up and operated the machines cued by Tully to ensure ‘perfect timing’ of the effects. “We fired three hits during the show.
The first was during the band’s first track, Wake Up, for a big impact with white paper and silver metallic confetti; the second hit, during T-Shirt Weather, was made up of orange paper and gold; after the encore, the band stayed on stage for a dance party soundtracked by their walkout music – Sandstorm by Darude – and this is when the third hit of rainbow confetti came,” Harrison explained. “The confetti really helps make it a more memorable experience. It’s great to see everyone take some of it home as a souvenir.” ‘A SURREAL EXPERIENCE’ “When they kick at your front door / How you gonna come?” The Clash’s Paul Simonon snarled in 1979 as a stark depiction of discontent in Brixton at the time. Forty-two years later, while a multitude of societal issues still rumble on, the live events sector – and venues in particular – would be forgiven for
adopting a similar battle cry in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. “To be back in such an iconic venue as Brixton again after being away for so long was a surreal experience. Seeing all departments working together again was such an uplifting experience and hearing the crowd cheering and applauding was quite emotional. The mood was definitely electric as everyone was buzzing to be there,” Harrison concluded. “I felt so at home being on a stage again and it really helped me realise how much I love my job. There is something about live events that’s so exciting and enriching, and everyone was so ready to let their hair down and have a good time.” www.circawaves.com www.wigwam.co.uk www.siyan.co.uk www.pixeledvideo.co.uk www.liam-tully.com
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SIGRID @ READING AND LEEDS FESTIVALS Tourlite Design eschews convention with a bespoke creative plan for Sigrid’s Reading & Leeds Festivals set with Creative Technology overseeing the deployment of 12 million pixels of LED.
Photos: Jon Stone
Reading and Leeds Festivals returned simultaneously on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the August bank holiday weekend, signalling the reemergence of the UK summer festival scene after a lengthy, COVID-19 induced exile. Among the big name acts on the bill was pop star Sigrid, who captivated an in-person and TV audience with a creative show plan devised by Tourlite Design. Having embarked on several livestreams and video shoots during lockdown, Tourlite Design’s understanding of the way a camera can be used to engage an audience has developed, leading the creative outfit to pose the question of why the camera is not used as more of a tool to develop a live production. “There were going to be thousands of people watching Sigrid’s performance, not only at the festival, but at home on the TV, so we wanted to translate the energy of her performance as best we could beyond the front rows and onto screen,” Tourlite Design’s Ben Mansfield said. “It was a unique way for people to live in the moment of the performance and open up inclusivity so that the focus was wider than that of a normal afternoon festival slot. It wasn’t about lights, video content or pyro; it was about connecting the fans to Sigrid.” The look of the show was very natural, given the fact that the set was performed in daylight, so colouring of the stage was not an option. Instead, the collective framed the performance space with lighting and lifted the band up behind Sigrid, creating a focused arrangement on stage. “The cameras had to match BBC
shading for them to accept in broadcast, so we didn’t have a lot of scope to be different there outside of the framing and direction of the shots,” Mansfield said. “We took the camera on stage and into places where a camera would not normally be allowed on a festival stage, moving in and around the artist.” Alongside Production Manager, Nick Lawrie, Tourlite Design collaborated with Creative Technology’s Nick Knowles. “We engaged the incredible Ed Coleman as our Live Director who took onboard our ideas and elevated them to the next level with his own,” Mansfield recalled, praising the team involved. “We ended up complimenting the festival camera package with four of our own, along with rack control, supplied and crewed by Creative Technology (CT), in addition to a steadicam, supplied and operated by John Clarke.” CT supplied upstage screens and curved imags for both Reading & Leeds main stages using ROE Black Quartz 4.6 LED. CT Project Managers, Jim Liddiard and Nick Knowles oversaw 4K signal distribution was achieved between FOH, stage, and screens. CT created custom-made 10° hanging brackets used for curves and also provided a large amount of artist extras throughout the festival including additional camera systems and on-stage screens, including for Sigrid and Disclosure. The lighting package was designed to add dynamic to camera shots as well punch through the daylight on stage. The team at TSL, headed up by James Davies, supplied the creatives with GLP JDC Line 500s and
JDC1s, which were used to flank the risers, facing the audience and cameras. With festival setups being tight, both in space and time, the team entrusted All Access Staging to deliver a modular rolling riser setup, fronted in dibond, which helped them make the stage their own in a narrow timeframe. Aside from the COVID-19 protocols put in place by the tour production team, there was no additional layer of precautions to work around at the festival. “Thankfully, we didn’t encounter any issues with our production related to COVID-19 but as a production we did regular testing and wore masks throughout rehearsals and when operating indoors,” Mansfield remarked. Reflecting on the feat, Mansfield said feedback from colleagues and fans has been ‘very humbling’. “It was great on a personal level for people to tell us how much they enjoyed watching the performance at home. It was clear to see how the audience at the festival reacted, seeing themselves on giant screens during a reverse shot where Sigrid looked into the camera with the crowd behind her. The crowd loved seeing themselves up there alongside Sigrid,” he enthused. “I think everyone was really happy with what was delivered and it hopefully will mark a new direction for us, trying to bridge the gap and include as many as possible in the live experience.” www.leedsfestival.com www.readingfestival.com www.tourlitedesign.com www.ct-group.com
ROLLING LOUD FESTIVAL Steve Lieberman curates impactful looks for Rolling Loud Festival with CHAUVET Professional. Photos: Gabe Palmer
After an 18-month hiatus, many of hip-hop’s biggest stars appeared at Rolling Loud, their first live festival since the lockdown began – complete with a flexible lighting rig devised and implemented by Steve Lieberman, SJ Lighting, and Production Manager, Max Robin. Renowned for his festival work, Lieberman was responsible for production design at the festival’s four stages (Cîroc, Audiomack, Monster Energy, and Dryp), as well the VIP area. Providing abundant punch at the main Cîroc stage as well as at the second Audiomack stage were some 200 CHAUVET Professional Maverick MK3 Wash, COLORado 1 Solo and COLORado 1 QS fixtures, supplied by 4Wall Entertainment. This firepower allowed LDs, Marcus Jessup (main stage) and Robin (second), to focus intense light on the artists –
something that Lieberman feels is essential in a big festival environment. “Rolling Loud has very high expectations when it comes to stage design and the audience experience. A strong understanding of the genre is necessary to provide the appropriate platform for artists to perform at the highest levels. What we’ve learned over the years doing many shows like this, is that there needs to be large-format video surfaces, as well as monolithic details that read very strong – plus enough stage lighting to cover every inch of the performance area,” he explained. “Rolling Loud is most definitely not a dance music event,” he continued. “Because of this, lighting the performance with boldness is critical. At many EDM festivals, the LDs will point every lamp at the crowd. In my view, this is
detrimental to the overall look of the show.” Lieberman followed the same philosophy at the festival’s two other stages, which were supplied by The Design Oasis and TAG. “We delivered a bespoke design for each stage, balancing utility and aesthetics,” he said. “The LDs on each did a great job. We used a very high number of LED linear strips to highlight the geometry of all the stages. We really love the way it brings a design to life.” Each stage design was also laid out carefully in a way that allowed LDs to produce looks that work best for their artists efficiently. Achieving this depended largely upon getting the optimal ratios between the different types of fixtures, and having crews work tightly together as a team, according to Lieberman. “There are always challenges and surprises with a festival of this size, but we were fortunate to have a really great group of people all pulling together,” he said. “Jorge Valdez at 4Wall is the absolute man – so much love and respect for him. His guys are amazing.” As for Lieberman and his team, they took naturally to returning to live festivals. It was, he recounted, “like riding a bike,” – “we got right in there and performed at full speed,” he added. In so doing, they perfectly matched the mood of the artists on stage and the fans who turned out to see them. www.rollingloud.com www.sjlighting.net www.chauvetprofessional.com
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LOLLAPALOOZA LD Systems provides audio and lighting for the two main stages on the return of the famed Chicago festival. Audio Operation Manager, Thomas Ruffner speaks to TPi about this year’s PA deployment.
Taking place in Grant Park, Chicago, after a year hiatus, Lollapalooza welcomed back around 100,000 people to witness headline sets from Foo Fighters, Tyler, The Creator, and Post Malone. Marking its eighth year with the festival, LD Systems was back providing an audio and lighting solution for the two main stages – the T-Mobile and Bud Light stages. Having handled the audio delivery at the festival’s main stages for the past three years, LD Systems’ Thomas Ruffner explained that there was a decent amount of “rinse and repeat’’ when it came to the PA configuration. “We’ve got a good game plan when it comes to the Lollapalooza weekend and know roughly how many trucks it’s going to take and how much PA we’re going to deploy. Thankfully, the festival didn’t have any major infrastructural
changes, so our roadmap from previous years stood us in good stead.” For both stages, the system of choice was L-Acoustics. For the T-Mobile stage, the main hang on each side comprised four K1SBs over 16 K1s and four K2s, a sub hang of eight K1SBs flown behind each array with the out hang of six K1s over six K2s. The ground subs comprised 32 KS28s with front fills of 16 KARAs. There were six delay hangs in total, comprising six K1s per hang. “L-Acoustics is one of the most widely accepted PAs and the fact that the speaker system is used on so many other festivals around the world is a testament to its quality,” stated Ruffner. “The T-Mobile stage in particular needs a 1,000ft of throw with a 300ft-wide horizontal coverage area. It’s a
massive flat grassy area, but with a 24-box L-Acoustic hang on each side, you can get pretty far. It’s those aspects of the gig that really play into the decision of what PA to use and how many boxes.” L-Acoustics was also chosen for the Bud Light stage. The main hang consisted of four K1SBs over 12 K1s and four K2s per side with a sub hang of eight K1SBs flown behind the main array. The out hangs were made up of four K1s and eight K2s per side. Elsewhere on the rig were 40 SB28s, front fills of 12 KARAs with three delay hangs of eight K2s. With such a large flat venue, audio spill was always going to be somewhat of an issue although according to Ruffner, the team was more than up for the challenge. “If you’re standing on the T-Mobile stage,
you can barely see the banner of the Bud Light stage, but the low end certainly travels. On one night when we had Tyler, The Creator on the main stage while Marshmello was on the Bud Light stage, there was certainly some low end coming from Bud Light making its way to T-Mobile, but it was between stage interaction and minimal compared to some other festivals we work on.” At FOH and Monitors, LD Systems supplied Avid Venue Profiles with an ElectroVoice N8000 as a console summation system. “We’re fairly traditional with our signal distribution to the PA,” stated Ruffner. “We don’t have to get too complicated with any network audio and all our cable runs are under 100m, so a normal Cat5 and copper is good enough.” As this was one of biggest shows he had done since COVID-19, Ruffner explained how he and the rest of the crew had coped. “We’re lucky as a company in that we’ve stayed relatively busy; especially in the first half of this year, with numerous graduation ceremonies – some of which were really quite large.” Ruffner also pointed to a large, 4 July project, which gave the crew a chance to “shake the rust off”. He continued: “I think everyone from LD Systems was excited and understood the
gravity of this project and what it would mean for the future of other events. My team at T-Mobile were exceptional; their endurance was fantastic throughout the weekend. Festivals are long and stressful, but my guys never get tired.” The T-Mobile team from LD was made up of Monitor Systems Engineer, Jimmy Steinke; Lead Patch and Stage Technician, Trevor Schumann and A2 Stage Technicians, Josh Rodriguez and Tony Luna. Meanwhile, the Bud
Light team comprised Audio Crew Chief and Systems Engineer, Rafael Rosales; Monitor Systems Engineer, Kendall Hayward; Lead Patch and Stage Technician, Bryan Woodall and A2 Stage Technician, Jozef Rodriguez. Following on from Lollapalooza, LD Systems had its sights set on several other outdoor festivals, mostly notably Austin City Limits and Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. www.lollapalooza.com www.ldsystems.com
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SUNSET MUSIC FESTIVAL PK SOUND Trinity robotic line source system and Gravity subwoofers sound out Sunset Music Festival’s Eclipse Stage. Photos: Jason Fenmore
Aiming to deliver an experience worthy of the pent-up anticipation, Sunset Music Festival organisers brought together an exciting and eclectic lineup and spectacular production packages across its three stages – including a Trinity robotic line source system from PK SOUND for the bass-heavy Eclipse Stage. “As Florida’s first festival back, Sunset Music Festival’s objective was to spare no expense to deliver the finest experience possible,” commented Sunset Events Owner, John Santoro. “When selecting a speaker brand for the Eclipse bass stage, we knew we needed the industry’s gold standard. PK SOUND has a well-earned global reputation for delivering powerful, high-impact audio. It’s the go-to system for many of the world’s top artists and DJs and our audio team loves it, too.” Over the course of the festival’s two-day run, producers Sunset Events and Disco Donnie Presents welcomed high-profile artists including Zomboy, 12th Planet, Riot Ten, Midnight Tyrannosaurus, and Sullivan King to the Eclipse Stage. To satisfy the performers and the thousands of fans packed in front of them, Florida’s ESI Productions sourced a PK SOUND
Trinity system and Gravity subwoofers from St. Louis, MO’s Logic Systems. The deployment featured main arrays of eight Trinity robotic line source elements per side, 20 Gravity 218 subwoofers lining the front of the stage in stacked pairs, and six mediumformat T10s serving as front fills. “The Trinity system was a great fit and easily handled everything we threw at it over the course of the festival,” commented ESI’s George Tzouanopoulos, the Eclipse Stage’s FOH Engineer for the weekend. “Having realtime control over the coverage with the array
already deployed definitely helped get the energy everywhere we needed it and nowhere we didn’t. Plus, the Gravity 218 subwoofers were killer. I haven’t been that impressed by a sub in a long time.” Ultimately, Sunset Music Festival welcomed 64,000 fans and 74 performers for what EDM.com called its “dazzling 2021 return”. Tzouanopoulos added: “There was a special energy that could be felt. The event brought a true sense of unity and shared togetherness to all the people in attendance.” Reflecting on the weekend, Tzouanopoulos doubled down
on the sentiment. “I was happy to see that after all the craziness that 2020 brought all of us in the entertainment industry, we were able to pull together and put on an awesome show again – especially one of that size,” he said, summing up the experience. ”Good energy, good vibes, and solid work from all the crews involved made for a great couple of days, both for us and the attendees. I think we were all very happy with the outcome and can’t wait to do it again.” www.smftampa.com www.pksound.ca
LEEDS FESTIVAL: TOGETHER x LS23 A spectacular new touring art installation by LUCID makes its Leeds Festival debut.
Photos: LUCID Creates
Measuring 15m in height and width, TOGETHER, is a spectacular new touring structure by LUCID CREATES. Designed in reaction to the isolation of lockdown, the AV installation – constructed out of three giant metal rings lined with video and light suspended between four towering steel pillars – became the centrepiece of the Leeds Festival’s new late night dance arena, LS23. “Festival Republic’s Melvin Benn approached us early this summer explaining that he was looking to create a new late-night dance arena to replace the hugely loved Relentless Stage,” LUCID Director Helen Swan began, referencing the enormity of the task at hand. “Over the past year, we had designed and created a giant new touring AV installation called TOGETHER and as soon as Melvin mentioned an open space at the festival site, I knew TOGETHER would bring a whole new experience to the space.” LUCID collaborates with communities
hosting TOGETHER to collect their memories, archives and stories, weaving them together to create an immersive experience that is totally unique to each place that it visits. The written words of the stories move around the video screens on the inner face of the three rings, intertwined with moving visuals. The four pillars contain speakers which play a unique ambient soundscape. Into this soundscape is woven the voices of those stories, so that audience members are completely immersed by their community’s experiences. “The structure is open on all sides and overhead, allowing for varying audience sizes and an easy flow of people,” Swan said, explaining that audiences can experience the piece from both inside and outside the structure and when inside they are ‘held’ in the space by the 360° visuals surrounding them, creating the feeling of being together as one. “The beauty of the simplicity of the structure at the centre of TOGETHER is that
it can be transformed using light, video and sound and become an entirely different experience dependent upon the community it is representing.” The valley area at Leeds is quite a challenging one due to the steep banks, protected trees and lack of flat ground and so LUCID were restricted on how they placed the piece to best fit the space. “We responded to the challenge by placing two of the pillars on the bank on either side of the valley and then building bases for the remaining two pillars to raise them to the same height as the bank,” Swan said, explaining how the team created an enclosed stage which surrounded one pillar. “This meant that both the artist and audience were encompassed by the rings. We also added an extensive lighting package that extended the light from the rings down and around the valley.” LUCID typically designs and builds TOGETHER in its workshop in Kent with a team
of creative fabricators, directing the video and lighting content within the structure. For Leeds Festival, LUCID worked with the festival’s in-house teams, F1 Sound and Colour Sound Experiment, which provided additional lighting and sound packages. VJ, Matt Knowles and Lighting Technician, Kieran Hancox, handled the live shows. “The response from the crowds and artists who played the stage was astonishing. It was a truly overwhelming and emotional experience to see TOGETHER unite 20,000 people dancing under the rings after so long apart,” Swan reported, summing up the unique experience. “We have had really humbling feedback from both artists and the audience who spoke to us both over the weekend and have been in touch after the show.” www.leedsfestival.com www.lucidcreates.co.uk
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DORDSTE FEESTEN FESTIVAL Van Meel Sound and Lighting deploys CODA Audio ViRAY and TiRAY systems for a unique three-week festival in Dordrecht, Netherlands.
Photo: Robin van der Pas
Following the decimation of last summer’s festival programme at the hands of COVID-19, Dordste Feesten Festival organisers and Dordrecht city authorities worked closely with events specialist, Iventors, to stage a variety of music and comedy in a carefully designed, safe festival environment – enlisting the support of Dordrecht-based Van Meel Sound and Lighting to deliver audio for the Energie Stage, housed on the somewhat unusual setting of a boat on the sea. Having spoken to Hans Engelen of Viladco, CODA Audio’s Distributor in the Netherlands, Van Meel Sound and Lighting’s Marc Hoogendam settled on bringing in 12 ViRAY
enclosures to supplement his existing system. The area that had to be covered by the audio was over 80m wide, was not higher than 4m and had a restriction of 105dB on FOH. That, combined with the 30m distance across the water from the boat to the audience, presented challenges which couldn’t be met by a TiRAY system on its own. “We designed a system with six hangs of ViRAY per side, with an infill of three TiRAY and one TiLOW per side for audience members watching and listening from small boats between the stage and the shore,” Hoogendam said, having to also take into consideration the tidal range, which would see the PA move
up and down by 1.5m each day. “There were limitations on the maximum height of the tower provided by the organiser, and weight was also an issue – the boat had to remain balanced! We needed a small, light, powerful system that could still cover all the required angles.” A significant additional challenge posed by the setting was that of noise control. A residential area was located 60m behind the audience area with a 70dBA limit on the nearest house, there was a cinema in close proximity to the temporary seating, and the nearby waters are part of a national park which hosts protected wildlife in designated quiet areas. “We had to be a little unconventional and place the subs underneath the bleacher seating and time delay them to the main hangs. The main consideration was the distance from the main PA to the audience and the respective physical drops to the water from the boat and the dyke. And this was where CODA’s reliability comes to hand,” he said. “The renders of the system are so accurate – you know what to expect, so you can be confident of eliminating any trouble spots, accurately calculate the delay times, and solve any phase problems.” Dordrecht City Council was more than satisfied with the delivery of the sound, and visiting engineers were unanimous in their endorsement of the system, according to Hoogendam. “The TiRAY and ViRAY share the same sonic signature and worked together seamlessly to deliver fantastic intelligibility during the entire three-week run – we never had a visiting engineer that didn’t compliment the system after their show. We’re grateful to Hans from Viladco for his support – our TiRAY system is used for every kind of production, and we’re always amazed at what it’s capable of – although after this festival, we are seriously thinking of extending our stock with ViRAY.” www.dordtsefeesten.nl www.codaaudio.com
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SHORT COURSES FOR THE LIVE EVENTS & CREATIVE INDUSTRIES Backstage Academy provides world-class training for the live events and creative industries. Based at Production Park in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, we offer a range of short courses and bespoke training programmes with access to state-of-the-art production facilities for teaching and learning.
WORKING WITH ELECTRICITY ONLINE COURSE This half-day training course helps to promote safety and reduce major injuries and accidents when working with electricity. It covers how to comply with current legislation and well established safety procedures as well as looking at the safe connection of equipment to the mains. This course is ideal for anyone who wants to work on an event that uses electricity and wants to understand how it works and how to work safely with it.
£60+VAT Next course: Tues 16th November 9.30am to 1.30pm
EVENT SAFETY PASSPORT ONLINE COURSE This course is a nationally recognised qualification designed by the Production Services Association (PSA) and the Safety Pass Alliance (SPA) for people in events industries to demonstrate basic health and safety awareness. It is designed to help reduce risks in an event environment and ensure you can operate safely, no matter what your role. On successful completion of the course the passport is valid for five years. This course is ideal for anyone working in the live events sector wanting to prove their competency in health and safety and be recognised for doing so.
£110+VAT Next course: Weds 17th November 9.30am to 5.30pm
SUSTAINABLE EVENT MANAGEMENT ONLINE COURSE A half-day workshop that provides businesses and individuals with an overview of Environmental Management Systems (EMS) and how they can be implemented across your organisation. The course is based on the requirements of ISO 20121 - the International Standard for Sustainable Event Management. Ideal for businesses and individuals from any area of the events industry who want to oversee organisational sustainability improvements, including representatives from senior management, operations & logistics, HR, finance, marketing and sales.
£99+VAT Next course: Fri 26th November 10am to 1.30pm
MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID ONLINE COURSE Join a community of over half a million people trained in the internationally accredited Mental Health England course which certifies you as a Mental Health First Aider. Covering a broad range of topics, the course provides an in-depth understanding of mental health and the factors that can affect wellbeing. You will learn invaluable skills, increase your knowledge and confidence to support your own and other people’s mental health, both remotely and face-to-face.
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RIGGING AWARENESS ONLINE COURSE Based upon the popular Rigging Awareness Training Course, the Rigging Awareness Online course is designed to give an overview of the principles behind rigging for live events. Split over four 2-hour sessions this course covers topics from Regulations & Legislations to understanding bridles in manageable, bitesize, chunks, with a different theme for each lesson. This course has been written for all levels of ability, aimed at anyone working in the events industry, from those who already work in the live entertainment industry in different disciplines.
£125+VAT Next course: Mon 22nd & Tues 23rd November 10am to 12pm & 2pm to 4pm
FOLK BY THE OAK JSL Productions enlists the production management and artist liaison skills of Symphotech for the family friendly festival.
Folk by the Oak was the last festival to adhere to tier three COVID-19 guidelines, following the easing of lockdown restrictions. The husband and wife team of Caroline and Adam Slough of JSL Productions were determined to host the event for their festival team, artists and loyal audience, despite the additional COVID-19 hoops they had to jump through – enlisting the support of Symphotech to make the event a reality. “We turn-around from Saturday’s proms event overnight, to the folk festival on Sunday with quite a small crew and we keep infrastructure light to make that possible with a reduced night’s sleep,” Adam told TPi. “It’s a big transformation from a classical show, with battle recreations and half a dozen concessions, to the folk festival, with 60 concessions and a totally different vibe and audience. Hospitality tents become craft tents, the concert pavilion becomes a vintage tent and a family area, with a climbing wall, archery, recycled crafts and much more is added. We worked very closely with our production partners at Symphotech, whose health and safety capability was invaluable, so we were confident we could adapt the site to make it safe within the parameters of government guidance around COVID-19.” During the winter months, JSL Productions received valuable information and assistance as members of the Association of Festival Organisers (AFO). “Their Chair, Steve Heap,
was always supportive. We took advantage of the Recover & Reopen sessions, run by Symphotech, and at the AFO annual conference and that information underpinned our planning,” Adam recalled. “Our production management has always been undertaken by Symphotech. They guided us through the COVID event protocols and made sure we haven’t suffered supplier shortages through advance planning.” With them, Adam and the team stayed in touch with their supply chain through 2020/2021, forging new relationships in response to this summer’s supply challenges. “Here we are sitting backstage at a new stage, which has come from Evolution in Manchester. It’s a mobile stage with 180 sq m of floorspace and hydraulic technology for safe working. The incoming production teams and artists are all loving it. We’ve also brought in new sound and lighting suppliers this year, Solotech and LiteUp, who also coordinated the lighting, which we wanted to be LED, as one of our steps towards reducing the festival’s carbon impact.” Caroline joined the conversation: “Symphotech, having been with us from the start, are a cornerstone of getting the event on. Their extensive experience across the industry coupled with an in-depth understanding of our events means they achieve what we want to deliver to our audience and artists. They’re vital in creating the family-friendly, safe, relaxed atmosphere that permeates the whole site.”
Symphotech is best known for event health and safety services, but these Battle Proms Picnic Concerts and Folk By The Oak draw on production management and artist liaison skills. Symphotech Director, Claire Feeney has managed artist liaison for all 12 years of these shows. Having the technical production know-how ensures the artist’s requirements on stage are met. “John Gray stepped into the role of production and stage manager. Having our regular sound engineer Chris Madden, from Capital Sound, with us was great. He’s a master when it comes to mixing the live 35-piece orchestra on Saturday and certainly made sure the sound was excellent for all of the artists playing Folk by The Oak,” Feeney said. The Symphotech team at Folk by the Oak also included Sophia Livett, who runs the Acoustech noise monitoring division, as well as trainees Dom and Alex. Feeney also commended local crewing company, DNG. “It’s been a challenging run to the show, with all of the uncertainty around the government regulations and what might happen with the pandemic, and not to mention the knock-on production and supply challenges we’re all facing,” Feeney concluded. “I have to say, ‘hats off’ to Adam, Caroline, and the rest of the JSL Productions team for holding their nerve and putting on another unforgettable weekend of entertainment.” www.folkbytheoak.com www.symphotech.co.uk
HOLOGRAMICA Liz Berry looks back at her years working with holograms and outlines her hope of the technology becoming as ubiquitous within show designs as moving lights.
Words: Stew Hume Photos: Hologramica
Known by many in the live events industry as the person responsible for creating the aesthetic for Robbie Williams’ live performances in the ’90s and ’00s, Liz Berry has straddled the line between the creative and technical throughout her career. As well as designing shows, she was one of the first Vari-Lite technicians when the company was established in the UK, when the ‘moving light fixture’ was seen very much as its own department on a live show. Now, of course, when you see any staging plot, the moving light has simply been absorbed into the general lighting rig. In Berry’s words, “they have become boring” in the sense that they are expected and it’s what is produced with these tools that has become the thing of interest. This is exactly what she wants to see happen with holograms; that this special effect becomes so well known and expected that it moves from a gimmick into yet another paintbrush at a show designer’s disposal. Sitting in Hologramica’s new studio in Wandsworth, London, Berry gave an overview of holograms and the misnomer surrounding the term. “I always try to be as upfront as possible when I speak to a new customer about ‘holograms’,” she began, joking that in any pitch meeting she finds herself in, she often uses air quotes around the word ‘hologram’. “There are
still people during a demo who half expect me to throw down some sort of metal frisbee and Princess Leia will appear. In some way, I wish we as an industry had come up with another term as it’s technically not a true hologram, just another form of projection and I always try to make it clear that it’s essentially a magic trick , a visual illusion.” It’s a trick that is very effective, as TPi discovered, as we sat through several pieces of content, from a dancer to a shark, that appeared in realistic 3D in front of our eyes. In 2009, Berry struck out on her own, founding her company, Hologramica. “I had been working with Pepper’s Ghost systems – a method of producing a holographic effect by reflecting video in a sheet of tensioned Mylar foil hung at a 45º angle, and the hardware is quite cumbersome.” In other words, to have a hologram within a show took a long time to build and created quite an imposition on other departments – in Berry’s opinion, “frankly too many practical considerations”. Nowadays, Pepper’s Ghost has mostly been replaced by projecting onto treated gauze screens. This is a lot faster and easier to do, but many of the products are too fragile to be practical out on the road, and have interference patterns from the gauze screen evident in the image. A major breakthroughs she had
Hologramica Founder, Liz Berry in conversation as a hologram; GM Firebird hologram in Shanghai.
was creating a more robust hologram screen designed to deal with the rigours of the road. Called 3D Holonet, the product can be hung in the same way you would hang a regular drape, while offering remarkable brightness and superb image quality. “I’ve been on far too many frantic builds and crazy load-outs so I know how hard it is to tour anything ‘delicate’, so one of the biggest jobs since founding the company is throwing myself into the R&D of 3D Holonet to make it as tourable as possible.” In terms of making this solution more attainable to customers, Berry explained that a big part of her mission was educating people to use this solution. “In the past there have been people working in holograms that made it seem like some sort of dark art,” she explained. “It’s simply not true and if you’re a reasonable LD and you understand lighting, you can pick up the skills and techniques incredibly quickly.” It has been one of the advantages that the team have found with their new studio space as they can work closely with clients to walk them through the procedures or collaborate on content to make sure it’s the best possible quality. “It’s great that people can create a hologram for the ‘wow’ effect on a show. However, I’d like to see it develop so more
people understand how to use it and just see it as another tool.” Berry mused on the future for holograms. “I see two areas where both we and our competitors may see some increased interest in the coming year,” she said. “In music, there have been numerous collaborations with artists who might have never worked together before doing duets and those songs are beginning to get released. When it comes to touring this new material, holograms offer a great solution to replicate these songs live. Most content creators, once they realise that this other option is now at their disposal, will come up with even more visually creative options to use them elsewhere in the show.” The other area that Hologramica has already seen a marked increase in interest is in the corporate world. “With COVID-19, we have seen a lot of companies rapidly change their attitudes when it comes to travel. Suddenly, CEOs and directors of companies are less willing to travel due to the risk of infection or getting caught up in a border closure,” stated Berry. “For the next year or so, we’re going to see fewer international conferences and more national events with CEOs being broadcast in – a format that holograms would fit into
nicely.” She went on to suggest that the latter market was more likely to drive the hologram technology in the coming months than live events, at least for the short term. “The other area we’ve thankfully continued to work in is the install market, as many projects have continued to progress through lockdown.” Although, as with every company, the past 18 months has been a struggle, Berry is optimistic about the future. “My hope is that some of the incredibly exciting conversations we’ve been having with our customers and partners come to fruition,” she commented. “Throughout lockdown, we’ve really honed our offerings, including developing Holopops Ultra – a stand-alone hologram ‘booth’ capable of displaying a life-size human at 4K resolution in just a 3.1m by 2.5m footprint, and setting up a recording space to film live content of an individual to then stream them as a hologram to a Holopops or a stage-size 3D Holonet system, which has untold advantages for various applications.” Berry also commented on the benefit of having more players in the market. “It just leads us that step closer to making this solution common in the marketplace and, as I keep saying, makes them boring!” www.hologramica.com
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SPARTAN CREW Despite the current lack of available crew in the live events sector, Spartan Crew makes strides to provide better in-house training for those entering the industry.
Photos: Spartan Crew
There are few companies from the world of live events that have not diversified their business models since the emergence of COVID-19. Spartan Crew is a clear example of this entrepreneurial spirit; with its usual work within the live events sector drying up overnight, the company made strides to move into the field of agency work. After founding Spartan Crew in 2017, established crewing professionals, Paz Brennan and Ciaran Boylan had taken their business from strength to strength, until the “horrendous” effects of COVID-19 kicked in. “Not only were live events halted, but a lot of a foreign crew went back to their home countries and many of our other local crew went and found other jobs,” stated Brennan. The two founders saw agency work as an opportunity to bring their knowledge and experience into these other sectors, although Boylan was keen to emphasise the amount of training the upper management had to embark on due to the extra legislation surrounding this type of work. “It’s been a large time and financial investment to understand what is needed to do this type of agency work. So far, it’s been a very fruitful and enjoyable process,” he said, reflecting on the past 18 months. With this sidestep into agency work and the gradual return of events, the founders explained that they were trying to get as many new faces through their doors as possible and get them trained up to be job ready. Spartan Crew has always had a hands-on mentality when it comes to crew training, building a teaching facility within their warehouse. Anyone who joins is given the company’s Manual Handling Training. Boylan, who administers much of the training, explained the challenges of bringing people in at this difficult time. “We found in recent months that we have been getting a lot more younger people, whereas in ‘normal’
times, we would expect a wider range of ages with a bit more experience in the industry,” he said, adding that this changing demographic has unfortunately affected the success rate of the company’s in-house training. “We are finding that we are having to pull a bit wider and deeper in our recruitment to achieve the same level of certified crew members than we did previously,” Brennan said, adding that things are starting to improve. “Part of this success is being far more specific and clearer about what we expect from those coming through our door.” Along with the Manual Handling Certification, the Spartan team is also set up to provide more bespoke training to clients at its facility. “The space could comfortably accommodate the build of an LED wall, for example, if a client wanted to give crew a chance to have some training on the setup of such a product,” Brennan explained. As Spartan Crew gets closer to full-capacity shows, fulfilling the demand for crew is a very real concern. “I think that we’ll have enough people at Spartan to fulfil the demand, but only if we continue to dig deeper to find new
recruits, which costs money,” he stated. In fact, Brennan explained how Spartan Crew is on an office-wide recruitment drive, bringing in several new office staff to take some workload away from the founders so they can throw more effort into finding new crewing recruits. Despite diversifying the business, Brennan and Boylan are excited to be involved with in-person events again. “It’s been fantastic to be back on those jobs,” enthused Brennan. “It’s been a chance for our newer staff to start building their experience in this type of work.” Boylan added: “We’ve also seen a surge in new clients in the sector. A lot of people who were made redundant last year have set up their own production companies – there have been so many new names, I’ll admit, it’s sometimes hard to keep track.” As we enter this precarious period of uncertainty within the sector, it seems that Spartan Crew has set up for all eventualities, realising that the only way to deal with the inevitable lack of experienced crew is to pass on the skills to the next generation in the most effective way possible. www.spartancrew.co.uk
“We’ve seen a surge in new clients in the sector. A lot of people who were made redundant last year have set up their own production companies – there have been so many new names, I’ll admit, it’s sometimes hard to keep track.” Ciaran Boylan, Spartan Crew Co-Founder
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DESIGNING MY HOUSE: CEDRIC DURÉ TPi Breakthrough Talent, Cedric Duré of Outdream Creative curates visuals for My House – an interactive dance performance, harnessing skills developed in lockdown.
Words: Jacob Waite Photo: Karolina Maruszak
time tracking capabilities. “It’s amazing how one good impression can lead to so many new opportunities,” he began, discussing how he landed the gig of Unreal Programmer/Digital Scenographer for My House.
Having upskilled amid the lockdown of live events, TPi Breakthrough Talent, Cedric Duré of Outdream Creative was finally able to put his newfound capabilities to the test for My House – an interactive dance performance with Unreal Engine, utilising a system originally designed for consumer/prosumer VR gaming market as an indie BlackTrax. Duré was brought into the project by the show’s Director, Junior Akwety, following a prior discussion about his eagerness to explore and enhance his interactive content and real-
“I went for a very indie approach for the tracking system, mainly for budget reasons but I also wanted to see if running a show like this with prosumer gaming gear would be possible,” he said, explaining his choice of a HTC Vive VR ecosystem with Unreal Engine and SteamVR. Dancers wore ‘pucks’ called Vive Trackers around their waist, which provided Duré with real-time position and orientation data. Once the data was received by Unreal Engine, it was then used to generate content that reacted and interacted with the dancers’ position and orientation. The whole show was automated, allowing Akwety to hit play with the Reaper Remote app. “I created two human-sized bubbles that were projected behind the dancers and those bubbles were locked to the dancer’s position and orientation and followed them around in real time,” he explained. “There were also 2D video elements like text, which were triggered and layered on top of the Unreal feed using Resolume.” The Unreal Engine feed was brought into Resolume using an NDI plugin. “This was something completely new for me,”
he revealed. “I have developed my Unreal Engine skills in lockdown and this was a great opportunity to put my new skills to the test. Using the programmes in a live environment instead of behind a desk at home is different and it taught me a lot about how to use the gear properly.”
The show was recorded in multiple camera angles, allowing the team to exhibit an immersive concept for a digital audience. “Live experiences still provide a magic mix of emotions and joy, regardless of restrictions,” Duré said. “I’ve seen so many people come up with amazing initiatives that wouldn’t make sense if we weren’t in a pandemic, but that are so creative and well thought out.” The My House team featured Choreographer, Zach Swagga; Director, Junior Akwety; Unreal Programmer/Scenographer, Cedric Duré; Lighting Programmer, Dirk De Hooghe; and Dancers, Davide Zazzera and Samantha Mavinga. “Although I love the work I’ve been doing amid the lockdown, nothing beats the buzz of a live audience. Belgium is beginning to open up, so I’m hopeful for the future,” Duré concluded. “I still plan on expanding my knowledge every day and improving my skills for in-person and virtual audiences, both local and international.” www.outdream.show
EVENT CREW TRAINING Industry professionals join forces to launch Event Crew Training.
Event Crew Training, a not-for-profit limited company founded by Base Crew, DNG Production & Event Crew, The Music Consortium, Outsource Staffing Solutions, Rule Out Load Management and Safe Show has released its first training course – Event Crew Essentials. The Event Crew Training portal is designed to be a new benchmark for entry-level crew and technicians looking to start a career in the events industry. Event Crew Essentials covers a range of topics, including understanding stages, live event jargon, departmental load in and load outs, health and safety and manual handling. Event Crew Essentials takes approximately 90 minutes to complete and costs crewing
FOURIER AUDIO University of Southampton postgraduate student helps found audio firm.
companies £20 per access token. One token provides training for one member of the crew. For it to become a universal standard, sustainable and as accessible as possible, Event Crew Training is seeking financial
support from industry peers. With plans for further expansion and additional courses in the coming months. All donations will go directly into developing training and resources. www.eventcrewtraining.com
Multi-Olivier award-winning sound designer, Gareth Owen, acoustical engineering postgraduate student at the University of Southampton, Henry Harrod, and lighting designer and software engineer, Peter Bridgman, established Fourier Audio with the help of the Future Worlds Founders Cohort. “Fourier Audio is reinventing the tools used by sound designers on live productions, enabling them to create amazing new sonic worlds and revolutionise the audience’s
listening experience. While live events have the most electric atmosphere, so often there simply isn’t the same immersive and mesmerising audio experience you get in a cinema or listening to your favourite studio recording. Our technology will bring studiograde, immersive audio to live audiences for the first time,” Harrod said. Fourier Audio is one of eight startups at the University of Southampton which have been working closely together through the Future Worlds Founders Cohort, an intensive programme accelerating startups. Future Worlds Director at the University at Southampton, Ben Clark said: “The members of the Founders Cohort are addressing some of the biggest challenges and most exciting opportunities in the world. I’ve no doubt investors will be impressed by their bold visions, dedication and rapid progress, and enticed by the world-changing potential they will discover” The Future Worlds Founders Cohort supports the next generation of Great Britain’s university talent and is operated free of charge for the founders. www.futureworlds.com www.fourieraudio.com
SHURE PARTNERS EDUCATORS WORKING GROUP Shure collaborates with the Association of Sound Designers in the name of education.
In 2020, Peter Rice, Course Leader for Theatre Sound at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and member of the Association of Sound Designers, created a new arm to the Association. Named the Educators Working Group, the aim was to consolidate the minds and experience of various educators and engineers to answer the simple question; what is expected of new graduates and what skills are highly sought after by the industry? “Before I took up my role at RCSSD, I was working at the Young Vic Theatre,” began Rice. “Back then I knew most of the other engineers at all the West End theatres and it was a real community, but when I moved into education, a similar community of lectures
didn’t seem to exist between other Higher Education establishments.” Rice mused that this could be down to the fact that many of these establishments saw themselves as competitors. “It’s always been mine, and many others’, opinion that we’d all benefit from talking to one another about our different practice and opinions on how we should train people.” This issue has become even more important as one of the knock-on effects of COVID-19 has been a dramatic reduction in legacy crew, with individuals moving on, leading to a potential shortage of experienced workers to meet the demand of the live events industry. It was this concern that brought about the new arm of the ASD, creating a united voice
for educators to then reach out to both rental houses and manufacturers and to make sure the students are given the best possible start once they leave higher education. One of the first success stories has been bringing on Shure to openly collaborate with the Educators Working Group. “Jack Drury from Shure has already done a few sessions with us where we’ve got to invite a number of students from various establishments,” enthused Rice. “Incentives like this are invaluable to us as educators, as specialists like Jack have such a knowledge of certain elements of audio that we simply would not have the time or resources to obtain. Such sessions are great for manufacturers like Shure, who then begin
Motor LPML250 lifting capacity 500 kg self weight 12 kg to speak to the student community early on in their careers.” Another educator who has benefited from the Shure collaboration is Steve Mayo from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). “Working with Jack and Shure has been fantastic during the pandemic and as we moved to re-opening RADA,” he began, praising Shure training both in-person and online such as the course on Wireless Workbench that has enabled RADA students to undertake show roles on multiple productions that were, preCOVID, limited to musical productions. “I fully agree with Pete’s thoughts on perceived competition between drama schools, and I must commend the fantastic work he’s done establishing the educators group,” continued Mayo. “Pete and I share a similar philosophy and understanding that once our students graduate, they will all be working together in industry and so its beneficial for our students to get to know each other to help strengthen the industry.” Along with this new relationship with the Association of Sound Designers, Shure has recently announced several other incentives, all aimed at improving education within the sector, including the 2021 pro audio road show. The team visited several different locations across the country to offer some hands-on experience with Shure systems and faceto-face time with the Shure experts. The roadshow offered refresher training on RF, answered questions about equipment along with a general overview of the new product launches over the past 18 months, including new additions to the Axient Digital family and Wavetool software. To close, Rice expressed how he hoped to bring in other like-minded companies to continue the mission he and the Association of Sound Designers are trying to complete, pointing to Yamaha, who have also done numerous training sessions for students. www.shure.com www.associationofsounddesigners.com
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SHORTAGES PSA Chairman, Dave Keighley highlights the sector-specific shortages slowing down the UK live events industry’s return to full strength.
Words: Dave Keighley Photos: Gallowglass
As the UK-based live events sector slowly begins to return to normality – with music festivals, exhibitions and conferences welcoming in-person audiences for the first time in 18 months – and the festival world trying to make the most out of what is left of the late UK summer and early autumn, shortages for trackway, toilets and fencing as well as the lack of suitably trained crew is an issue now which may carry on into 2022. It has been documented that plenty of talented members of the live events sector, who were considered as experts in their field, and have worked tirelessly to carve out a respectable career, have jumped ship in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and now work in what us in the sector refer to as the ‘real world’. How are we going to train industry newcomers and how quickly can this be done? This is a question brought up in most PSA meetings and one we foresee as a major short-term problem, with a view to focus
on apprenticeship pathways for staff in the long term. The companies that reduced their number of employees during the pandemic now have a very difficult task of trying to hire back original staff and seek new people. This is a very tricky balancing act with a busy Autumn on the horizon, despite many in the sector believing that the industry will not return to full strength until 2022. So, the question remains: how many members of staff do you hire when we don’t know what the next three to six months will bring? Factor in shortages of video technicians, riggers, and trained local crew, for example. The cost of hiring trained and qualified technicians is going to rise in the short term due to supply and demand. These factors, again, pose problems for shows that have been costed and quoted, were then postponed and are now ready to go out but in a whole new environment. As one of the biggest crewing companies in the sector, Gallowglass has traditionally been
able to offer crew the highest level of work. “The situation since lockdown measures have eased has been like nothing we have ever seen. Offering young people a way in to a future in the events business, we are used to having a constant flow of new recruits,” Gallowglass Group Director of HR, Chris Parry-Jones said. “Those days are over and worryingly there is little appetite to work or take on new challenges. We, like many, are offering great training and a way into an exciting new career. Not being able to help our clients, especially those that have been loyal supporters over the years, is frustrating and disturbing.” At least shows are happening and from the record numbers of people taking out the Crew Cover Insurance, we can get a good idea of how many people are back working. Let’s all hope business continues to grow and more tours, shows, exhibitions and conferences flourish. www.psa.org.uk www.gallowglass.com
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GLOBAL ISSUE WITHIN MANUFACTURING Audiotonix’s Tony Williams and James Gordon discuss the issues facing manufacturers due to global shortfalls of everything from steel to microchips, and the knock-on effect on the live events industry.
Words: Tony Williams & James Gordon Photo: Audiotonix
“It’s the perfect storm,” began Audiotonix Group Operations Director, Tony Williams, describing the issues facing manufacturing in 2021 during a Zoom call with TPi. The original agenda of the call was to discuss how the global shortage of microchips was affecting the companies under the Audiotonix umbrella. However, it quickly become clear that there are several other issues having a serious knock-on effect for all manufacturers. “It is of vital importance that our industry knows of some of these issues,” said Audiotonix CEO, James Gordon, who was also on the call. “Productions over the years have got used to manufacturers being able to turn around equipment in under two weeks, but right now, no matter who you are, that isn’t possible.” With some of the biggest audio consoles under its ownership – including Allen & Heath, Calrec, DiGiCo, and Solid State Logic – Williams gave an overview of the issues facing manufacturing today. “On average, each of our desks has around 10,000 components – these include everything from steel, aluminium, glass fibre, copper and gold, all the way to diodes and silicon chips,” he explained. “Take steel, for example, which is increasing in price dramatically. We have to work closely with our supplier to retain stock on our behalf.” This has seen an increase in lead times from a week to a month, according to Williams. “To keep up with our schedules, we are asking our suppliers to purchase three months ahead. Not only that, but powder coating for steel is also currently in short supply. COVID-19 has been one of the main instigators of this, with chemicals coming out of Southeast Asia which have all had major lockdowns, therefore halting production.” He added that a more long-term
concern when it came to steel was the trade wars between China and the USA, meaning that more steel was being held in China for domestic use. “Another issue that can’t be ignored is shipping,” Williams said. “Cost of shipping has increased due to a shortage of containers and vessels to put them on. For example, shipping used to take four weeks to the UK from the Far East; now it takes up to 10 weeks.” Steel prices and shipping difficulties notwithstanding, the shortage of silicon chips remains a pressing issue not just for the Audiotonix family but for the global economy. The global shortage has made headlines for the issue it was creating with the sought after items such as the new PS5, to the detrimental affect it has had on the automotive industry. “Ford and Toyota have had some major closures in the past few months, citing the lack of silicon chips as the key reason,” stated Williams, pointing to a recent report that Volkswagen was planning on cutting its production by 40% in September due to the global shortage. “There are many reasons that have led to this shortage,” stated Williams, who has become somewhat of an authority on the subject. “In lockdown, even though we were all sitting at home, there was a huge demand for devices that have silicon chips – from laptops for working from home, to devices for children’s educational purposes, webcams, microphones and TVs to make life in lockdown more tolerable.” This issue was compounded because many of the factories had to be closed as the world locked down. “Factories are booked out for the rest of this year and well into 2022 to fulfil the
demand,” Willams pointed out. Both Williams and Gordon explained some of the incentives they had brought in, to try to deal with these issues. “We have constant communication between our General Managers and our purchasing team is assessing the situation every day,” outlined Williams. “James is also in constant contact with our material manufacturers to ensure we can get all the components for our latest products. We have not stopped production at this time. We’re not producing as much as we’d like, and in many ways, we’re just keeping our heads above water to make sure our customers are satisfied.” However, as Gordon highlighted, the biggest challenge for Audiotonix is that as these issues to the supply chain continue, the events industry has begun to reopen. “It’s very frustrating to see everything coming back when it comes to events but we have these other issues that are seriously hampering our work,” he stated. “These factors have become the main focus for our procurement team. Instead of how they can produce new products, the focus has now become about manufacturing the existing range to satisfy the market demand.” As detrimental as these factors have been, Gordon is thankful for the situation the company is in. “We’re lucky as a business as we have a big team and are a larger manufacturer, which means we have some weight in the supply chain. These issues are going to be a huge problem for some smaller companies.” Williams has even reached out to other manufacturers from outside the Audiotonix wheelhouse to help in any way he could. “Everyone in the pro audio community is seeing similar problems, but it’s been good
to give some companies contacts due to the relationships James has fostered over a number of years. As a business, we want to support each other and help wherever we can.” The real question that TPi was keen to put to the two Audiotonix board members was how these issues will affect customers and end users. “We just need to be given more of a heads-up about the needs of productions,” stated Gordon, noting that with longer lead times, manufacturers are more likely to be able to accommodate. “The more people that know about these issues, the more likely we’ll be able to solve the problems another way.” Both men were incredibly candid that we were certainly not out of the woods yet. “It’s going to get worse before it gets better,” Gordon remarked. “Q1 and Q2 next year will be similar to the situation right now then, hopefully by summer/autumn in 2022, we should begin to see some improvement,” added Williams. To close, Gordon opted for an analogy that has become pertinent over the past 18 months. “When it comes to the world of electronics, there is a real toilet roll and pasta effect going on – people are over ordering and hoarding to make sure they have enough and that will eventually unwind. This will just take some time to normalise.” www.audiotonix.com
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TAKE1’S SCOTT CARROLL DISCUSSES EVENTS INSURANCE As events return on both sides of the Atlantic, Take1 Insurance’s Vice President and Program Director, Scott Carroll, gives his take on the issues the industry should be aware of in a post-COVID world.
Words: Scott Carroll Photo: Take1 Insurance
As an insurance firm that represents several large rental houses in the entertainment industry, US-based Take1 Insurance, like many others in the industry, has taken a sizeable hit since March 2020. However, with signs pointing to a return to live events, Take1 Insurance Vice President, Scott Carroll spoke to TPi about some issues he is pointing out to his customers in response to changes COVID-19 has already brought to the sector. “From an insurance point of view, my biggest concern is that there needs to be enough
time to ‘shake the rust off’ as we currently have a workforces that has been inactive for many months and may need time to rebuild some of the muscle memory when it comes to working practices to create a safe working environment,” Carroll said. Although not involved in any way with this case, he pointed to the recent incident in Florida where a giant video screen collapsed. “No one was hurt thankfully, but I think it was symbolic of some of the fears I’d had about moving too fast as events reopen,” he remarked. As a board member of the Event Safety Alliance (ESA), Carroll expanded on one of the ESA’s main goals – to promote training in the live events sector. “Our training programming is called the Event Safety Access Training. It takes its lead from a similar course in Europe and is something we are keen to make standard practice across the United States.” Carroll explained that although the course is simple, it helps the workforce all reach the same standard and, in the case of people taking such a long break due to COVID-19, is a good refresher before crewmembers jump head first into the events space. “One of the main insurance carriers who we work with has even offered to pay for training,” enthused Carroll, as he discussed the wider support from the insurance industry for such an incentive. As well as being conscious of the long break, Carroll was also keen to give his two cents on the changing nature of the entertainment business and the effect this has had on insurance. “We at Take1 provide insurance for numerous large rental firms run
by creative individuals, many of which have re-jigged their business models in the past 15 months,” he stated. “One of the common trends we’ve seen is building virtual studios within their offices. The knock-on effect from an insurance standpoint is that these businesses now have more professional liability exposure as they are inviting customers into the offices rather than simply functioning as a storage and workshop for live events.” The other major issue Take1 has had to reiterate to its customers is the greater “exposure” their rental fleets are now under, with less kit being used for touring. “When companies have equipment that is spread out among several different shows in different locations, the spread of risk is far lower than when the majority of their stock has been kept under one roof.” Carroll went on to explain that one of the company’s major jobs during this time has been walking customers through these changing parameters on their insurance policies and trying to help insurance mitigate loss. “We’re looking to morph and mould with the events industry,” he concluded. “One of my customers predicted the other day that we’re going to go from ‘pandemic to pandemonium’, insinuating that there will be more work than they know what to do with. The US has already shown signs of this recovery with a large number of customers starting to up their insurance policies and, perhaps more surprising, even numerous brand-new companies being formed and making large investments.” www.take1insurance.com
NADU PLACCA Following a report on the racial disparity within UK event trade bodies and associations, The Zoo XYZ’s Nadu Placca shares her response to the findings...
Words: Nadu Placca Photo: The Zoo XYZ
Black in the Boardroom was our first report that looked at racial disparity across trade bodies and associations in the UK event industry. Our research discovered that of the 15 organisations we looked at, none had a Black person on their boards. The trade bodies and associations mentioned in our report, in general, have made positive moves and actions in response to the report. Many companies and associations have reached out to us to see how they can support and have been helping connect the dots on several future opportunities that support our initiatives and we will be engaging with them in the coming months. Although it may appear we are silent while working away behind the scenes, when the work we have done comes to light, it will be really evident who have been active allies alongside supporting the industry evolve and those who sat in the wings and did nothing. We have had some amazing conversations in recent months, including the working group EIA driven by Michael Adeniya, BVEP, EVCOM, AEV, MVT (although not mentioned in our report) that are committed to making individual change and supporting what we are doing too. The work we are doing now will be seen as building blocks in years to come to support future Black event professionals. Moving forward, we will soon be launching our findings at the UK Black Business Show at the end of October with their support. We also won £25,000 with AXA’s Start Up Fund, which will provide a nice push in the right direction to get things up and running. 2020 was one of the most difficult years
I’ve ever had to overcome, both personally and professionally. We are now picking back up our live event conversations to get our old clients back in the calendar, supporting a raft of new clients, launching some new concepts and getting back on planes. 2022, it seems, will be a very exciting time – so keep an eye out for us! www.thezoo.xyz
Above: The Zoo XYZ Founder, Nadu Placca.
ROBE TRANSFERABLE ENGINE (TE) Lighting Theatre Products Manager, Dave Whitehouse reviews the benefits of Robe’s unique and patented TRANSFERABLE ENGINE (TE) LED technology.
What was the initial goal of TE? The great benefit of LEDs is their long life. Unfortunately, all LEDs degrade over time, both in terms of output and colour shift. They reach a point when the output has degraded to such a point that it will become unacceptable. Changing an LED light engine was expensive in terms of engine, specialised tools, skills and time. This would usually be carried out at an approved service centre to avoid warranty issues, adding to the cost. LED light engines are purchased as part of the fixture. Frozen in time, with its then available LED technology. To keep up with LED advancement, you must buy a new luminaire. If you need an inherently high CRI source, for example, again, purchase another luminaire. You had no flexibility, and removing an engine meant you had no performance level information. Lastly, lighting manufacturers were at the mercy of engine manufacturers. This creates uncertainty around availability and longevity. Our revolutionary TRANSFERABLE ENGINE TE technology addresses all these issues; cost, time, technological advancement, flexibility, predictable performance, and longevity. What are the benefits of TE technology? The engine cost is dramatically reduced. Quick
to change, in around five to seven minutes, no special tools or skills are needed. Most importantly, no source alignment is required. You only need one fixture for different source applications, an inherently high CRI as an example, because we offer a range of engine types, you simply fit the one you require, giving maximum flexibility. TEs are data capturing and self-referencing, meaning all the engine performance is at your fingertips, either within the fixture or simply sitting on a shelf, via the Robe COM app, giving performance predictability as you transfer engines between luminaires. Finally, we ensure longevity by owning the process. We have designed, developed, patented and manufactured TE within our own factory in Europe. What has the response been like? Phenomenal! It gave customers the ability to provide consistent light quality across their inventory at low cost while maintaining all the advantages of LED. And with the availability of the new HCF High Colour Fidelity engines, they do not have to purchase extra fixtures for high CRI applications, giving maximum fixture flexibility. That’s the beauty of easy transfer. All our white LED source fixtures are TE compatible – SPOTE, CUETE, ESPRITE,
FORTE, and our new Multi-Spectral Light (MSL) T11 Profile, Fresnel and PC with more fixtures to follow. How does the Robe COM app benefit end users? All the performance data stays with the engine. When installed in a fixture, you simply read the data from the fixture display. To access all engine data when it’s outside the light, stored on a shelf, for example, the Robe COM app, based on Near Field Communication (NFC), gives you complete access. This means you will know the engine performance before installing it in a fixture. It’s simple and very accessible, needing no power to the engine. What makes TE a green option for the industry? Because TE-based fixtures can be upgraded through their lifetime due to the built-in headroom, engine technology and flexibility, luminaires will last a lot longer. Scrapping of lights will happen less often, meaning reduced waste. The engines are fully recyclable as we have our return for recycling scheme. All these factors contribute to our goal of delivering even great sustainability. www.robe.cz
KLANG: KONDUCTOR KLANG:technologies introduces a powerful immersive In-Ear Mixing processor with 128 input channels and 16 immersive mixes with flexible I/O, courtesy of three DMI card slots.
“After joining forces with DiGiCo in 2018 and the release of the workflow integration for its consoles, more and more monitor engineers have implemented a KLANG immersive IEM processor into their workflows,” said KLANG Co-Founder, Dr. Pascal Dietrich, discussing the idea behind the creation of KLANG:konductor. “Only the most critical channels for the main artists were sent through the processor but the wish for more input channels and creative and organisational possibilities grew further.” Designed with monitor engineers and fixed installations in mind, KLANG:konductor boasts a mixing system that can deliver 16 immersive mixes and process 128 input signals at up to 96kHz, with an astonishing processing latency of less than 0.25ms. “Our combined R&D teams were able to squeeze in twice as much processing power in a single 3RU device as found in any of our previous processors by using the latest, super-fast FPGA cores,” KLANG CTO, Benedikt Krechel explained. “Many of our customers value the I/O flexibility that our first KLANG:fabrik offers, but we know they need to quickly adapt to different I/O situations when touring different countries. KLANG:konductor considerably extends this flexibility and lets the user choose I/O on the fly.” KLANG:konductor offers three DMI slots on its rear to provide I/O freedom and integration into any existing setup. For example, two DMI-MADI cards allow 128 input channels and
mixes to be returned to a console and one DMI-Dante card can connect the mixes to KLANG:kontrollers. Paired with integral single channel routing capabilities, it also allows the user to freely route between the immersive mix engine and convert between different DMI formats, such as Optocore, Dante or MADI, with each DMI card offering up to 64 input and output channels at both 48kHz and 96kHz. Integration with DiGiCo’s control interface and the KLANG:app provide engineers direct control with KLANG:kontroller allowing musicians to control their own mix. “KLANG:konductor is the swiss army knife of audio format conversion and becomes very handy as an interface for virtual sound checks or multitrack recordings, at the same time as being used as an immersive processor,” explained Dietrich. KLANG:konductor offers the same studio grade amplifier circuit as
KLANG:quelle on the front of the device. The device also has a front mounted seven-inch colour touch display to allow for direct mix control, audio setup, routing and monitoring metres. A network port on the front of the unit provides power over ethernet to directly connect a KLANG:kontroller or KLANG:quelle and dual redundant power supplies offer maximum reliability. “Immersive in-ear mixing has become increasingly popular, having proven to deliver crucial benefits to musicians by providing a natural listening experience and removing the feeling of isolation on stage,” summarised Dietrich. “KLANG:konductor is our most powerful and most flexible processor so far, and gives both engineers and musicians an immensely powerful, yet simple to use system, that delivers all those benefits and more.” www.klang.com/konductor
ELATION PROFESSIONAL MAGMATIC CRISP & CRISP MAX Elation Professional strives to set the scene this holiday season with Magmatic Crisp and Crisp Max snow effect solutions.
Designed, engineered and exclusively distributed by Elation Professional, Magmatic Crisp and Crisp Max are strong and affordable speciality effect solutions. With its small size and easy mobility, Crisp is a set-it-and-forget-it snow effect. The unit weighs 15.2kg with a hanging bracket that doubles as a carrying handle. Crisp uses Magmatic’s specially formulated APS-4L dryon-impact snow liquid to create a snowflake that mimics the look and feel of real snow. Crisp Max includes a 20-litre fluid tank hidden inside a road case with durable casters for extra protection and easier portability.
The unit’s 10m-long hose can be rigged on a standard truss or tripod stand and fluid can be extended up to 50m horizontally or vertically using 10m extension tubes with couplers that are available as an accessory. An optional 120° pan motor increases the coverage area. Crisp Max uses Magmatic’s specially formulated dry-on-impact snow liquid (APS-2L, 4L, 20L) to create a snowflake that looks and feels real. Both the Crisp and Crisp Max are capable of producing high volumes of naturalistic snow with the capacity to adjust snowflake size for greater versatility. Small flake or large, short throw or long, these 1250W high-volume snow
machines can project snow up to 12m with the flexibility to adjust to the occasion. All Polar series snow machines feature a noise-blocking layer of insulation that reduces noise for quieter operation. An all-in-one Air Pump Fan (APF) system together with an autoclean feature lowers the risk of clogging and reduces the need for maintenance. The Crisp and Crisp Max include an onboard LCD touchscreen control panel with manual and timer control options. They are industrystandard DMX-512 and RDM controllable, and offer wired and wireless control options. www.elationlighting.com
INFiLED TITAN-X INFiLED launches cutting-edge outdoor LED rental solution TITAN-X. As part of the INFiLED DNA, the idea behind the TITAN-X innovation is to create a strong and long-lasting outdoor LED rental screen with excellent transparency.
“To accomplish this challenging task, we built an international R&D team of 15 engineers from both Europe and China, who after seven months of dedication, finally completed TITAN-X,” began INFiLED CEO, Michael Hao. “The beauty of TITAN-X lies in how our team combined high transparency with a super load capacity into one.” He added: “The average outdoor stage screen construction needs a stage truss for every 2m of screen to protect against wind over 20m/s for two-tiers. However, TITAN-X needs a stage truss for every 9.6m of eight tiers, thanks to an elaborate built-in foldable subframe inside the TITAN frame. Moreover, the overall system remains around 22kg/sq m making it lightweight and strong, which is absolutely mind-blowing!” TITAN-X high-transparency large-format outdoor touring LED solution features a pixel pitch of 8.3mm and high transparency rate of 70%, offering outstanding display performance for state-of-the-art stage visual effects. Each cabinet offers extensive load capacity and advanced overall stability due to its unique rear triangular foldable wind bracing system which can resist wind speeds of 20m/sec for outdoor events, while the screen can reach heights of up to 24m. The extra-large 1,200mm by 1,200mm cabinets feature a unique design with an innovative lifting operation from the dolly that quickens installation time to a new level. Its dedicated dolly system allows for easy transportation and makes installation more efficient. The foldable bracing design of each cabinet saves on storage space and even with extra accessories, the cabinets can still be transported in their dollies. Featuring a high brightness of 5000nits and IP65 protection, it’s a reliable and robust choice under any light and weather conditions. The TITAN-X can be customised and assembled at angles of ±15 giving it the ability to adapt to unlimited stage and creative design requirements such as a curve effect. www.infiled.com
The point of difference
Breathe new life into old event panels and take your long-awaited performance to the next level with...
Visit www.bromptontech.com to find out more
CHAUVET PROFESSIONAL MAVERICK SILENS 2 PROFILE CHAUVET Professional European Product Manager, Sam Bowden overviews the award-winning Maverick Silens 2 Profile.
Where does the Maverick Silens 2 Profile fit within the CHAUVET Professional arsenal? The Maverick Silens 2 Profile was engineered with one goal in mind. The fixture answers an issue which has existed in theatres for many years now. Lighting designers and operators all want the versatility that a feature packed moving head brings. The ability to focus on various parts of the stage without having to use several static profile fixtures to do it. The issue has always been that the ambient noise created by these fixtures is enough to ruin the performance for those in the audience. With the Silens, it is small enough that it can be placed in the wings and on the front bars, is bright enough that it can hit the correct parts of the stage at a required light level and, most importantly, it is quiet enough that it does not impact on the experience of the audience in the theatre or detract from how immersed they are in a performance. How has the creation of the fixture been achieved from a technical standpoint? We started from the ground up to create a purpose-built fixture that utilises cuttingedge optical and cooling technology while housed in the smallest build possible. The unit delivers over 11,000 lumens with 100% convection cooling, there are no fans in this unit. The motors and effects have been tuned
for near silence and smoothness. We wanted the fixture to be silent and cool – a high-power light source such as this, you need to have a sizeable amount of passive cooling, and we do. The starting point was the thermal management – produce something silent, to do this we had to use the best in copper and aluminum cooling and use more oil cool than before to draw heat from the back of the source. Meanwhile we had to do this without adding excessive amounts of weight to the fixture and thus rendering it too heavy to lift. What are some of the key features? Another new way of thinking regarding the source was to look it the steady modes often fixtures will have different fan modes to reduce noise but on this unit what we wanted to do was optimise steady output so we looked at how the unit manages itself at different ambient temperatures and added the options to be able to set the unit for a 26°C room or a 35°C room. The unit features a unique Dual source which has fixed white LEDs around the outside of an RGB cob module in the middle; this RGB module is used to give +/- green for camera use and helps tone the output when in red shift mode. We also looked into feedback we’d had previously with frost flags – often they are too heavy or too light, but by thinking of the frost in the same way as a colour flag and using
graduation, we were able to create a variable Frost system we were truly proud of. Where can we expect to see the Maverick Silens 2 Profile in the coming months? We believe the Maverick Silens offers great commercial advantage within the theatrical and Studio sphere because it has been so well tuned to the requirements they have asked for and offers a set of USPs, we believe, are unmatched. The unit is a reasonably compact size, a manageable weight, has a tailored set of features and most importantly, is silent. How did it feel for the fixture to be recognised at The PLASA Awards for Innovation? It was great for us to be able to accept the reward this year. We are truly convinced that we have something exceptional with the Silens 2 Profile, and we were extremely glad that the judges recognised that. They took the time to discuss various technical aspects, looking at more than just the silent aspect, taking into account the variable frost, quality of light, even looking under the housing to see how we accomplish certain things. Their diverse background, be it lighting, sound or something else entirely, also allowed them to discuss and assess the fixture across multiple disciplines. www.chauvetprofessional.com
FAST SETUP? SMALL CREW? USE THE MLT2 PRE RIG TRUSS!
Hermann the German says
BENEFIT FROM OUR GERMAN EFFICIENCY. Reduce setup and dismantling times drastically Handling with 1 person only Create curved truss systems without extra components
PRE RIG TRUSS
WOB ROBERTS The Touring Production Group’s Chair, issues a rallying cry to futureproof the live touring sector.
The Tour Production Group (TPG) was formed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic with the goal to return to post-pandemic touring in a more educated mindset. Our initial goal was to create COVID-safe working guidance, and we were the first touring industry association to do so. The goal since has been for the concert touring industry to learn best practice, survive and ultimately thrive in a more realistic and sustainable way. I fear that unless we keep delivering a clear message on the issues we face – from lack of diversity to ill mental health and our carbon footprint – then the industry, the people we love and our planet will suffer irreparable damage for future generations and for new touring crew. Our ‘world’ is realising that the impact of jetting around the planet – while it might be the sole source of income – is problematic. The ultimate achievement of our work is to provide entertainment and experiences to the public, yet air pollution is having a negative effect on global survival. We must act now to offset our trace and look after each other along the way. I’m pretty deflated at present about the way the industry has returned to work. People that we heard ‘buying in’ to the goals we set ourselves during the pandemic have returned to tighter schedules, crazier routings and no regard for the discussions and statements of intent made during the past 18 months. The excuse I hear, from both those creating the schedules and those accepting the work, is that they need the work, money or job, and once things are ‘back to normal’ then they will address the discussions we’ve had. Yet we really shouldn’t be slipping back into old habits. For example, the need to address the lack of diversity and opportunity that is apparent in the live music business cannot
“At the moment I’m pretty deflated about the way the industry has returned to work. People that we heard ‘buying in’ to the goals we set ourselves during the pandemic have returned us to work with tighter schedules, crazier routings and no regard to the discussions and statements of intent made during the past 18 months.” TPG Chair, Wob Roberts
be underestimated. While most people you speak to in the industry will say there are no barriers to doing our jobs, and most of us have worked alongside people from different backgrounds, the balance of colour, ethnicity, gender, gender non-conforming and social economic backgrounds in the touring sector is way off balance. People certainly do face barriers and this is what TPG has been learning. We are still, far too often, camps of all white cis men. Changing this norm – specifically within touring – will take determination and consistent education. The TPG aims to assist the industry with both. One tangible, positive step we have seen develop is the Addiction and Recovery Awareness Course, which was brought to fruition by TPG’s Mental Welfare and Personal
Wellbeing Group. The course is delivered through the industry charity Music Support and is available now for backstage music workers. This course is a great example of how members of the TPG are seeking to best support both themselves and their peers when it comes to substance misuse on the road. It’s another small step in future-proofing our industry. An obstacle we’re facing now is that as touring crews return to the road, it’s difficult to find time for a full TPG committee meeting and we’re currently looking at dates for an online meeting for all members. The date will be announced on our website soon, so if these topics interest you, please stay tuned. We need your help create a more conscious, informed and inclusive industry. www.tourproductiongroup.co.uk