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#MartinAudioFamily PORTER ROBINSON An in-depth technical overview of the electronic artist’s latest US tour

SUMMERFEST Wisconsin festival returns for its 53rd edition with the latest in AVL technology

MARTIN AUDIO Managing Director, Dom Harter, looks back at the company’s 50-year history

Wavefront Precision systems deliver signature sound with class leading consistency, coverage and control, while also proving excellent value. 2021

We are entering a new era where production teams are increasingly concerned about weight loading and coverage. Five years ago, a 49kg box would have been fantastic, but now we are looking at 27kg for WPS, which is incredible really for a big sounding system with a lot of grunt.


Martin Connolly Capital Sound, UK

Paris pulls out all the stops for its part in the world’s biggest concert

Join the #MartinAudioFamily and experience the difference




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WHAT DOES THE ‘i’ STAND FOR? TPi has always been known for the way we like to cover stories, which is on the ground, speaking to crew face-to-face. Since we’re based in the UK, a by-product of this – especially with the difficulties surrounding travel over the past 18-months – is that we tend to have a predisposition towards covering the UK and European legs of world tours. However, as the name TPi (Total Production International) suggests, we are very much an internationally minded publication, and if the pandemic has taught us one thing, it’s that the world isn’t such a big place anymore, and we are more connected now than ever before. So, with this in mind, we’re pleased to bring you three international Production Profiles in this issue. Firstly, our cover story – the Parisian leg of Global Citizen Live 2021. Performed in the shadow of the iconic Eiffel Tower, this event was one of three across the globe – the others being New York and Lagos – which came together for the ‘world’s biggest concert’, with several satellite events happening around the world during a 24-hour broadcast. Discover how the pieces of the French production came together on p22. I also took a virtual trip across the pond to interview some of the key players of Porter Robinson’s touring family. While his musical style is best described as EDM, Robinson’s stage show is certainly more technical than some of his peers in the genre, with the artist playing multiple instruments as well as singing during his set – all of which requires an impressive audio network system to keep the show on track [p46]. Staying Stateside, Dan Daley reports from this year’s Summerfest. This outdoor juggernaut hosted in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is a tour de force when it comes to showcasing some of the latest technological innovations in our industry, and Daley was on the ground to find out more [p36]. As well as spreading our wings geographically, we turn our attention to important issues facing the live events sector. Timely given the arrival of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) at the time of writing, Jacob dives into the environmental impact of touring, speaking to LIVE Green [p90], as well as A Greener Festival and TPG [p92] to discover how the industry can measure and mitigate its carbon footprint. This topic also comes up in our Martin Audio 50th Anniversary feature [p80], where Managing Director, Dom Harter discusses how all companies under the Focusrite ownership are in the midst of a group-wide report to calculate the carbon footprint of all of its products – a forward-thinking idea that could help assess how the sector can bring about a wave of change [p80]. On the subject of issues facing the industry, I hosted a roundtable with several pro audio representatives from Solotech, DiGiCo and Shure, who look back at the past summer festival season and reflect on lessons learned as well as highlighting the shortfalls the industry faces in 2022 [p56]. As always, we hope to see you out on the road soon. Take care, Stew Hume Editor


Issue #266 November/December 2021 Editor Stew Hume Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7702 054344 e-mail: Assistant Editor Jacob Waite Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7592 679612 e-mail: Digital Content Manager James Robertson Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7725 475819 e-mail: Account Manager Fran Begaj Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7852 336728 e-mail: Editorial Director Peter Iantorno Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7763 233637 e-mail: Chief Executive Justin Gawne Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7768 850767 e-mail: Accounts Lynette Levi / Sarah Miller: Mondiale Group Chairman Damian Walsh Graphic Design & Production Dan Seaton: Mel Capper: Cover Photo Global Citizen provided by STUFISH Entertainment Architects Printed By Buxton Press • 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:

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.




GLOBAL CITIZEN LIVE 2021 Behind the Parisian leg of a 24-hour broadcast, dubbed ‘the biggest concert in the world’.




46 PORTER ROBINSON Electronic music fans are back

Production Park partners We Need Crew, Music Support, PSA and Backup for a crew social.

Wonder Works reflects on the Tokyo 2020 Opening Ceremony.


The famed industry-powered charity show signs off with a bang.


Phil Jones extols the virtues of Yamaha’s digital mixing solution.



Clearwing Productions deploys AVL technology at the US festival.

partying under one roof again.

FESTIVAL FOCUS 56 A pro audio roundtable, EIF,

Creamfields, Fierté Montréal, Life Is Beautiful Music & Art Festival.

INTERVIEW 70 Luke Edwards’ road to recovery

after life-changing brain surgery.

One of the first UK outings for Avolites’ Diamond 9.

BMTH’s audio team reflect on their first UK tour post-lockdown.

ON THE ROAD 73 Blossoms reopen AO Arena.


72 Viva La Visa’s Andy Corrigan

details the state of play for visas.




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76 Royal Albert Hall’s 150th. 78 Barbican invests in DiGiCo kit.


IN PROFILE 80 Martin Audio celebrates 50 years.


82 What is Entourage Pro? PRODUCTION FUTURES 84 Elliot Baines, LarMac LIVE’s Finlay


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PRODUCTION PARK CREW SOCIAL 2021 Production Park curates an informal networking space for production crew to reconnect and process the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sector.

Words: Jacob Waite Photos: Production Park

Striving to give something back to the touring community after such a trying time, Production Park embarked on Crew Social 2021 at their London-based studio, The Mill. In partnership with We Need Crew, Music Support, Stagehand and Backup, with additional support from Subfrantic, the event was a chance for touring folk to meet up with friends and colleagues to enjoy a BBQ, a few roadie-inspired drinks, courtesy of Signature Brew and Lucky Saint, and play video games on a 10m by 6m flown LED screen. “The idea behind Crew Social predates the pandemic,” Production Park Studio Manager, Ant Forbes began. “Production Park isn’t just a business; we want to be an active and positive force in the industry, and the best way to do that is to support the people that make these shows happen and are often overlooked.” Following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, this goal, Forbes believes, is more pertinent than ever. “Speaking to a lot of close friends and colleagues, it was obvious that the past 18 months has been a huge financial and mental struggle to get match fit with very little closure, with gigs returning faster than ever and only limited numbers of crew to facilitate these gigs,” Forbes explained. “Following the pandemic, there is now a concerted effort to coordinate this industry and provide a solid foundation and increased job security and we want to play a part in those efforts.” Forbes believes there needs to be more opportunities for touring crew to convene and network away from the work environment. “Crew often work 16-hour days, full throttle. There’s never a chance to step back and discuss the nature of what we’re doing and how to make it a safer situation. The time you find, if any, is backstage after a show when


you’re either wired or beaten up from the day, so constructive conversation is at a premium. Following the pandemic, we’ve witnessed everyone scrambling back to where they were, instead of taking a step back, taking a breath and not jumping straight back in at the deep end. With Crew Social, we want to create a space for the industry to meet up with old friends and make new friends and discuss the proactive approaches to returning to work.” Following double jab vaccination evidence via the NHS app or proof of a negative test, a healthy mix of the usual candidates and new faces arrived at The Mill for Crew Social 2021. “We built a 10m by 6m flown LED wall,” Forbes said, recalling quite the feat of engineering involved to get the screen in safely, given The Mill’s 12-tonne max capacity roof. “I also borrowed my kids’ Nintendo Switch console and my brother-in-law’s PS4 to create the ultimate gaming setup that most tour buses could only dream of.” The main studio featured breakout groups with various industry initiatives and charities, a BBQ outside, and flight cases full of Signature Brew’s roadie-inspired beers and non-

alcoholic options, courtesy of Lucky Saint. Equating the sector to a house of cards, “which can easily fall down if it’s not supported well”, Forbes believes that Crew Social was the perfect tonic to a trying 18 months for the live events industry workforce and supply chain. “We hope events like these solidify the foundation of the sector and help raise awareness of mental health issues and the potential addictions that are part and parcel of touring, given the high stress levels because crew are worried about what’s around the corner,” he commented. Speaking as the dust settled on the successful event, Production Park Marketing Director, Jack Scarr said: “Crew Social was an opportunity to create a space which not only caters for industry professionals to network but equally supports the next generation coming through, making sure they’re aware of the industry charities, initiatives and bodies at their disposal.”


Wavefront Precision systems deliver signature sound with class leading consistency, coverage and control, while also proving excellent value. 2021

We are entering a new era where production teams are increasingly concerned about weight loading and coverage. Five years ago, a 49kg box would have been fantastic, but now we are looking at 27kg for WPS, which is incredible really for a big sounding system with a lot of grunt.

Martin Connolly Capital Sound, UK

Join the #MartinAudioFamily and experience the difference


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TOKYO OLYMPICS OPENING CEREMONY Wonder Works Director, Piers Shepperd reflects on the success of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony.

Photo: Piers Shepperd

With protests outside the National Stadium often audible and COVID-19 cases surging in Japan, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony was mired in uncertainty and controversy. Many Japanese people were worried about inviting in the world when most of the capital was still in lockdown, and a stadium of empty seats made creating a feeling of connection near impossible. Every ceremony comes with a unique set of obstacles. The London 2012 Summer Olympics required managing the sheer volume of people involved and the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang brought freezing conditions that made rehearsals difficult. However, creating an Opening Ceremony amid a global pandemic provided a whole new set of challenges. There is no precedent, no script to follow for trying to bring people together during a health


crisis. By building on its lessons from previous Olympic Ceremonies, Wonder Works was able to provide the talented Japanese team with the technical insight and emotional support to create something spectacular, against all odds. In 2014, when Wonder Works first visited Tokyo, the world was a very different place. Japan was proudly looking forward to holding its first Olympics since 1998 in Nagano, and the teams were coming to terms with the enormity of what lay ahead. The new stadium was yet to be built so being involved in those initial conversations meant that Wonder Works was able to input on some key design elements. From making entrances wide enough to cater for large numbers of athletes and trucks to enter, to ensuring that the roof had enough loading capacity for lighting and audio, Wonder Works

helped the team design a state-of-the-art stadium that would be functional as well as look the part. As Senior Adviser to the Executive Producer, Wonder Works’ Piers Shepperd was responsible for ensuring that the multiple stakeholders understood the major technical requirements and helped steer the production process through a myriad of challenges. Seven more trips to Tokyo followed this initial meeting where Shepperd advised on everything from the redundancy strategy of the hydrogenfuelled cauldron, to control rooms, rigging positions and replacing the turf on the field of play. Just as important as this technical insight however, was the emotional support that was required in the final few months. “A lot of people fall into silos under extreme tiredness and pressure. Part of my job is to bring the teams together in the same room and encourage people to talk. Fast-paced communication is the key to solving problems,” Shepperd explained. “At other times people just need to hear you say: ‘you’re doing okay,’ or ‘the fear is quite normal’, and ‘it will all come together brilliantly at the last minute’.” After seven Olympic Ceremonies, Shepperd is well placed to provide this level of mentoring and, despite very difficult circumstances, the team managed to stage an incredible event for a global TV audience. “Ceremonies have a unique way of uniting people,” he concluded. “The Tokyo Olympics, despite being mired in controversy, turned out to be a huge inspiration to athletes, spectators and the world just when we needed it the most.”


CONCERT AT THE KINGS The famed charity show curated by some of the biggest names in the industry signs off with one final blowout.

Words: Stew Hume Photos: ©

The man responsible for Sir Paul McCartney’s monitor mix since 2007, John ‘Grubby’ Callis is no stranger to working on some of the biggest stages in the world. However, since the late ’00s, Grubby has also been the mastermind of one of the best-kept secrets on the UK live music scene. Since 2012, The Kings Arms pub in Wiltshire has seen the likes of Brian May, Roger Taylor, Jeff Beck, Bob Geldof and Billy Ocean descend on this quaint setting for an annual show that aims to raise money for the NHS and Cancer Research. Despite the size of the venue, the events crew and suppliers read like a who’s who of the live events industry. This year, the suppliers included Clair Global, Neg Earth, NoNonsense Group, Stagetruck, Power Logistics, and Eat to the Beat. Not only that, but personnel including FOH Engineer, Pab Boothroyd and Stage Manager, Mike Grove assumed key roles in powering the production. Winding the clocks back, Grubby discussed the origins of the event. “Back in 2008, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer,” he began. “Once I recovered, I was keen to do something to raise some money to give back to the NHS and Cancer Research.” Having worked in the industry for decades, the natural solution to raise some money was

to put on a charity concert, so he made a few phone calls to some of his fellow engineers and crew members to lend a hand. “In the first year in 2012, it was just a little trailer stage, but it’s continued to grow from there. It’s only a 4,000-cap event, but with top-notch suppliers and crewmember, it’s probably the most professional gig there is for a pub venue of this size,” he explained. Due to the level of technical ability, Grubby joked how the show was never much of a challenge, but it was a fantastic opportunity to meet up with industry colleagues, which was even more important this year after 18 months of no shows. “The original goal was to have a show in 2020, which obviously got cancelled and pushed forward to this year. Thankfully, all the artists agreed to move their fee over to 2021 – as did most of the ticket holders, which saved the event and ensured we could still make money for charity. Many of them have been very gracious over the years, giving us a 50% cut on their fee,” he reported. All good things must come to an end and, according to Grubby, now is the right time to close out Concert at the Kings. “Just this year alone, we have raised £300,000, which is £50,000 more than our initial target,” he enthused. “It’s hard now that it’s over, but I think we achieved what we set out to do in 2010.” As well as the punters who have made Concert at the Kings a highlight of their calendar, this also marks the end of one of the industry’s favourite get-togethers. NoNonsense Group’s Liz Madden commented: “We have provided the stages at Concert at the Kings since 2013 and it has been a privilege to work alongside such an incredible team – all of whom give their time and support to raise funds for cancer charities. Richard Baulu, Grubby and Andy Scott put so much time into organising the event each year – their enthusiasm is catching and this year was the best one ever.”

Above: Vanguardia Director, David Robertson and Concert at the Kings Founder, John ‘Grubby’ Callis.



RIVAGE PM5 IS OUT FOR BLOOD Royal Blood FOH Engineer, Phil Jones extols the virtues of Yamaha’s digital mixing solution, RIVAGE PM5.

Photos: Joeseth Carter and Karl Christmas

FOH Engineer, Phil Jones.


Having scored a hat-trick of UK number one albums, this summer Royal Blood set off on a UK tour of headline and festival shows, before heading to Mexico. FOH Engineer, Phil Jones has discovered that the Yamaha RIVAGE PM5 digital mixing system offers many solutions to difficulties faced by tours in the early 2020s. Many artists would be happy with a UK number one album but achieving the feat with your first three shows that Royal Blood are on to something special, despite the band’s minimalist line up of bass, drums and vocals. Jones has known the band since its beginnings in the Brighton area. Previously he worked as Production and Tour Manager but, as the band’s shows grew from pubs to arenas, he increasingly focused on the sound. “My aim is to make the sound as comfortably loud as possible,” he stated. “In the past, I used to tour a lot of gear. I wasn’t a fan of computers managing the sound, so I had twin 24u racks with outboard ranging from preamps and dynamic EQs for vocals to an array of dbx, TC Electronic, Eventide and Bricasti effects units.” After being introduced to Yamaha RIVAGE PM digital mixing systems at the Neighbourhood Weekend festival in 2019, when the RIVAGE PM5 was launched in 2020, he took the opportunity to try it out on a broadcast recording session with the band, provided by long time supplier, Britannia Row Productions. “I was so impressed that I adopted RIVAGE PM5 for my live setup and sold most of my outboard gear, including my H3000 and Bricasti reverb. I simply didn’t need them anymore,” he said. The logistics and costs of touring in a pandemic, post-Brexit world are very different to what they were only a couple of years ago.

As well as giving him the sonic quality and flexibility he needs, Jones has found that RIVAGE PM5 simplifies the process – and, importantly, lowers the expense – of global tours. “Due to the huge increase in demand for post-lockdown live music, we are flying all over the world. Venues are in such demand that we have to put together schedules that we wouldn’t normally undertake,” he commented. With shipping having become so expensive, the team has discovered that it is often now cheaper to duplicate certain parts of the production and simply leave them in storage – in the US, for example. “Imagine if I still had to tour all that outboard gear… It would cost a fortune. Now we can just get another RIVAGE PM system and it has everything I need,” Jones commented. “We’ve been doing a similar experiment in streamlining Mike’s [Kerr, bass/vocals] amp setup on stage.” For this and following tours, he said, the team will be using either Kemper or Quad Cortex modelling amps. “Not only will this make touring so much simpler, but there will be a significant reduction in SPL from the stage, which will allow me a lot more scope

to fine tune the sound,” he said. Regarding the onboard sound shaping features of the RIVAGE PM system, not only was Jones able to replace his beloved hardware Bricasti reverb with the equally high-quality modelled version, but he has been impressed with the Rupert Neve Designs SILK emulation. “I’m always a bit suspicious of marketing speak and at first, I thought that the RND SILK on the pre-amps was just hype. I was pleasantly surprised that it’s not – I use it on a number of channels,” he revealed. Jones highlighted the fact that, no matter which size of control surface he uses, he can still benefit from the same pre-amps and plug-ins as other mixing boards. “I am pushing our rental house to get a RIVAGE PM3 control surface, because I recently mixed a Royal Blood gig at a small venue, and I turned up to find a bloody great RIVAGE PM7,” he smiled. “The local crew must have thought who the hell does this bloke think he is? A PM3 would have made me look far less egotistical.”



MCFLY Along with offering many fans the chance to step into an arena for the first time since March 2020, McFly’s Young Dumb Thrills Tour becomes one of the first UK outings for Avolites Diamond 9.

Words: Stew Hume Photos: Derek Bremner & TPi

Opposite: Lighting Director, Chris Yeomans alongside the Avolites Diamond 9.


With an extremely short lead time, the level of production for McFly’s latest UK tour was truly incredible. With staging elements that paid homage to the hard-working crew who have been on a forced hiatus for a yearand-a-half, to an enormous pink bear that appeared halfway through the show, the band were clearly looking to make an impression, welcoming fans back into the arena setting once again. While all eyes were on the stage as Tom, Dannie, Dougie and Harry ripped through early ’00s classics such as Star Girl and All About You, TPi’s focus was at FOH with Lighting Operator, Chris Yeomans standing behind Avolites’ new flagship desk, Diamond 9 (D9). While it was officially launched at the beginning of this year, COVID-19 has inevitably meant it has taken some time for the Diamond 9 to get a true outing on the road. However, with an itinerary that features most of the major arenas in the UK, the designers at MIRRAD convinced Avolites that the band’s latest outing was an ideal proving ground. “We’ve been really pushing to get the Diamond 9 out on all our larger shows, but the demand has been off the charts, and it’s been difficult to source them,” began Young Dumb Thrills Tour Lighting Designer and MIRRAD Managing Director, David Cohen. With two D9s in MIRRAD’s inventory – and another two in the pipeline – both were sent out on the road with the band. At FOH, Lighting Director, Chris Yeomans helmed the show via a 330 version with a redundant 215 version. “We started the design for the show in August with the tour beginning in September, so it was a very short lead time,” explained Cohen. “The creative direction came partly from the band, Video Director, Dave Spearing, and our team at MIRRAD.” Although he wasn’t personally pressing the buttons and pulling the faders out on the road, Cohen gave his thoughts on the D9. “The options we had with the NDI features were great,” he stated.

“Not only that, but the inclusion of Timeline is already proving very useful and fast when timecoding a design. These days we all prefer to think of cues in a horizontal fashion opposed to a cue list.” With a few weeks working with the D9 under his belt, Yeomans spoke of his experience with the brand new console. “Prior to the tour, I’d only been able to play with the desk a little in the Avolites demo room, so this was my first job, which was slightly terrifying,” he admitted candidly, adding that he was thankful for the very small learning curve needed to get up and running. “I’m well versed in Avolites software, so it was just a case of getting used to where all the different buttons were as well as a few of the extra features it now has,” he admitted. Questioned on some of his favourite features of the desk, the LD stated bluntly: “It looks the part!” He explained that the new addition to FOH had already turned heads, especially with some of the local crew. “At several shows, I have had people come up to the barrier who turned out to be a student studying lighting or an in-house lighting guy from a local venue and very keen to know more about this new desk they don’t recognise.” Aside from aesthetics, the LD commented on the design of the console. “The screens, for example, are super high-res and give me the option to preview what is going on in video world with the NDI feed. I’m not always looking at the stage and therefore can’t see what’s going on with the IMAG screens or the rear wall, so having it all down on my desk while I’m sorting something is incredibly useful.” He also commented that clearly a lot of work had gone on under the bonnet of the desk with the D9 being flawless both in programming and during the show. Explaining some of the technical highlights of the D9 was Ron Carrington. A familiar face on the Avolites stands at trade shows, he’d taken on a practical role on McFly’s latest tour,

handling the video content that was run through an Avolites AI media server. “We always knew that the D9 was going to be our flagship console and therefore we knew that the hardware inside had to warrant the price point,” stated Carrington, while rattling off some of the highlights. “It has almost a media server level of graphics card due to the number of screens it has to power.” In addition to the off-the-shelf, high-end components, the Avolites representative complemented the hard work of the R&D team, who had produced their own boards, software and firmware to the highest possible standard. A major selling point of the D9 is that it is not just a lighting desk but a visual mixer that is able to work within the world of video and lighting simultaneously, building on the company’s Synergy software that has enabled a greater coupling of lighting and video over the years. “If you use this show as an example, there are still video and lighting departments with different load-in times, but Avolites software means it can all be integrated together more seamlessly,” Carrington said. With a rig supplied by PRG, the D9 controlled a sizeable lighting arsenal, centred around several automated lighting pods. “The band had requested an old school ParCan grid of lights, similar to Queen back in the day,” explained Cohen. The result was LED pods above the band with a MoveCat system to “keep things interesting,” according to Cohen. The pods contained numerous GLP impression X4 bar 20s, along with PRG BestBoys and Icon Beams. To close, Cohen gave his two cents on the tour. “It’s clear that the industry is still struggling after COVID, with issues such as crew shortages being a major problem, along with isolation rules.” A case in point was McFly band member Tom Fletcher having to step down from the tour due to testing positive for COVID-19. “The uncertainty is a problem going into the winter months,” he stated. That said, the fact that even in these uncertain times we are seeing brand-new technology getting used in the field is a promising sign. Not only that, but one that now features numerous software updates that were worked on tirelessly during the months of lockdown. Hopefully it won’t be too long until we see what other tricks designers can perform with the Diamond 9.

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BRING ME THE HORIZON: SURVIVAL HORROR TOUR Core members of Bring Me The Horizon’s audio team reflect on the band’s first UK tour post-lockdown, a feat proving that ‘live music still conquers all’.

Words: Jacob Waite Photos: Conor McDonnell

Following the release of their latest EP, Post Human: Survival Horror, Bring Me The Horizon (BMTH) and their new-look touring team hit the road for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic with a dynamic and sustainable live production. As the dust settled on a successful run of shows in the UK, TPi checked in with core members of the audio crew to reflect on mixing live music with fans in attendance, setting up a sound system ideal for mosh pits and digitising studioquality outboard gear while on the road. Advancing for a tour post-lockdown brings an additional layer of challenges for bands, production management and venues to consider when it comes to navigating the shifting goalposts associated with curating a safe and COVID-19 secure environment for live music. For Queensland, Australia native and FOH Engineer, Jared Daly, “simply getting out of the country was challenging,” he said, adding that he was eventually able to arrive on UK soil a week-and-a-half before production rehearsals took place. Two COVID-19 officers were brought into the camp during pre-production and toured with the band and technical production crew. Mandatory PCR and LFT was the order of each

day, with specific bubbles created for each department – all of whom always operated in masks, with hand sanitiser aplenty and a closed-off backstage. “I had a particular route for my journey to FOH, which minimised the number of people I came into contact with, in the audience, who were not a part of the touring bubble,” Daly said, detailing the precautions put in place to ensure the safety of the performing artists and technical production team. The FOH ‘cage’ was completely locked off, with no external visits other than touring engineers within the bubble. “It took some time to acclimatise, especially when we were communicating with local crew and venue staff while loading the trucks with masks, but we found our way around it,” he said. With his home country still grappling with the Delta variant of COVID-19 – Australia is, in his words, “half in lockdown” – getting back to the UK meant guaranteed work for the first time in 18 arduous months. “It was strange hearing the volume of a PA for the first time in a long time – especially coming from Australia, where half of the country is still in lockdown. The first show at Hull’s Bonus Arena was a surreal experience,” Daly said, speaking

with a sense of disbelief. “It was great to be surrounded by screaming fans, enjoying live music again, but it took a few shows to acclimatise to the experience and volume of the crowds.” Daly mixed on an Allen & Heath dLive S5000 paired with a DM64 mix rack. The FOH rig comprised two Mac minis, one running Waves SuperRack and a second running third party host, LiveProfessor. The outboard rack to his right comprised an SSL Fusion, a Waves MaxxBCL, an Avalon VT-737, paired with a Neve 5045 and a Bricasti Design Model 7. “The final stage of my mix lies here with the analogue rack,” Daly said, pointing out the size of the impressive, studio-quality gear. “The band has a sustainability goal they want to reach to lower the footprint of their touring, so on this tour I’ve added my own personal Universal Audio Apollo X4.” Daly put an Avalon VT-737 in bypass after the first show, harnessing an Avalon VT-737 plug-in through Apollo X4. “Next year, that analogue piece will disappear and I’ve also got a Bricasti reverb as a plugin session within the Live Professor session, which is an emulation, so that will also go,” he said, explaining how he is starting to put more and more elements of


the physical outboard gear in bypass to trial a host of plugins which, essentially, do the same job – behold, the slow but sure digitisation of the outboard rack. “We are constantly fault finding and exploring the limits of audio networking on this tour,” Daly said, referencing the latest Allen & Heath dLive V1.9 software update, which is set to change his existing configuration. “The point is to keep the analogue gear we need and digitise everything we can to create a more sustainable touring package.” Daly also explored increased snapshotting and automation on this tour. “I’ve been touring with BMTH in various roles since 2014 and over time their live shows have become more theatrical and jump across different styles and tonality,” he added. “It’s been cool from an audio perspective to dig in and play around with the vocal elements of this tour.” Like most of the crew, this tour marked Systems Engineer, Jack Murphy’s first largescale production since returning from the hiatus imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. “Everyone was looking forward to getting back to work, but you forget how gruelling three shows can be,” he laughed, adding that despite the long days, it was “invigorating” and “liberating” to see the release of the audience.


“Gigs provide escapism for the audience, so it’s great to play a part in that. We’ve all had that experience taken from us.” The highest specified d&b audiotechnik PA system featured 16 GSL on the main hang, 14 GSL8s and two GSL12s. Side hangs came in the shape of 16 KSL cabinets, 12 KSL8s and four KSL12s with six SL-SUBs flown behind the eight V-SUBs across the floor and eight Y10Ps as front fills/lip fills across the front of the stage. “This design was curated in close collaboration with Jon Brooks and support from Nick Lythgoe from SSE Audio’s Live Productions department,” Murphy explained. “Their support is invaluable on the road.” The main hang, side hang, and subwoofers were formatted in an arc, with the latter situated behind the PA and aligned in order to be time coherent and deliver equal coverage throughout the venue. “The band always wants to be as close as possible within safety regulations, so not having a huge sub array in the pit allows them to get closer to the audience,” Murphy stated. To that end, the team used eight V-SUBs across the front to fill in the first 10-20m before the six flown SL-SUBs per side came in to ensure even coverage for the entire audience with plenty of headroom. “This

allowed me to choose the right amount of system and be sustainable as opposed to a giant PA system and arbitrary numbers of boxes,” he remarked. The PA system relied on d&b audiotechnik ArrayProcessing to get consistency across the venue. “Once you get your design correct, ArrayProcessing and the EQ and filters available in D80 amps do a lot of work for you in terms of control and evenness throughout the venue,” Murphy said. To drive the system, Lake Processing LM44s at FOH ran Audinate Dante to DS10 output boxes, primarily for transport and the ability to switch between BMTH and the support band. Summing up his experience, Murphy said: “After such a difficult lockdown, seeing the relief and enjoyment of the audience watching their favourite band perform live was a reminder of why I love this job and why the long days are worth it.” ‘LIVE MUSIC STILL CONQUERS ALL’ Having been kept busy teaching educational seminars for DiGiCo during the lockdown, approaching a mixing desk was not a daunting prospect for Monitor Engineer, Matt Napier, however, being away from his family after “digging out and dusting off” the kit bag from


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the attic”, he found, was particularly difficult. “As a freelancer, failing a PCR test before joining the tour would have meant I’d have lost out on a paid gig, so I was isolated for 10 days prior to the tour,” Napier said, acknowledging the crisis that the sector’s deep pool of freelancers now face. From line checking to testing the mics, the team ensured that only one designated engineer would touch a performer’s mic and stand, until it was on stage, to break any possible link in transmission. “As a tour, we had COVID-19 protocols in place, but each individual department looked into it to support the efforts and make the tour safer,” he explained. Despite being a new face to the camp, both the band and management, Napier said, were hugely receptive to his specification of a DiGiCo SD12 console for monitor world. “It’s a great console, and you get a lot of bang for your buck. The other great thing about DiGiCo infrastructure is its ability to expand,” Napier said, pointing out the ability


to integrate the SD12 on stage with an Allen & Heath dLive at FOH and playback using Optocore DDR4s. The band harnessed their own Shure PSM1000 IEMs. Backline used a Shure Axient Digital system networked into the monitor world, with lead vocals on AXT400 for RF coordination. “It was a new genre for me to mix so it was a good experience. You learn something new on every tour, and this tour required quite a lot of compression and learning how to get their sound perfect,” Napier said, adding that it was more exciting to see fans reacting to the show. “When I look back to my youth, some of my greatest moments are at gigs and concerts, losing yourself in the moment.” Napier said he felt sorry for this generation, particularly 17-to-18-year-olds, who haven’t had the chance to experience the “exhibitionism” associated with a live gig, given the COVID-19 pandemic. Live music, Napier believes, is a rite of passage and a visceral experience. “The energy and impact of a production from lights,

sound, to video is emotionally empowering,” he commented. “I’m almost 50 years old, so watching a whole generation of kids experiencing a circle and a mosh pit – which is where I would have been 30 years ago – the first time and connecting with the music was fantastic. After all, I think most of the industry lives vicariously through audiences.” Daly, a picture of bemusement, said he still felt like he was in shock from the whirlwind of a tour. “It feels unreal in the sense that the band managed to pull this tour out of the bag, despite having so many things against them,” he reflected on the unique experience. “A lot of my friends, family and colleagues back in Australia thought that this tour wouldn’t happen,” he revealed. This is a demonstration of how a tour can operate safely, with all the measures put in place – it just takes a lot more work. I think this experience will sink in later... It was exciting and a relief that live music still conquers all.”

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09.09.2021 14:53:02


GLOBAL CITIZEN LIVE 2021 With three stages on three continents for a 24-hour broadcast, TPi heads to Paris to witness the French leg of ‘the world’s biggest concert’.

Interviews: Alexis Lipoff Words: Stew Hume Show photos: STUFISH Entertainment Architects Crew photos: Alexis Lipoff


Back in 2018, TPi and TPMEA were lucky enough to visit South Africa to witness Global Citizen: Mandela 100, with the likes of Beyoncé and JAY-Z taking to the stage all in the name of celebrating Nelson Mandela as well as raising awareness for the devastating poverty across the globe. It was a show that demonstrated the sheer scope and ambition that Global Citizen has for its live events. So, after a global pandemic and 18 months of inactivity for live events, it was no surprise that the organisation was going to come out of the gate swinging. The result: ‘the world’s biggest concert’. With events happening in cities all over the world including London, Los Angeles and Rio, the production highlight came in the form of three stages set up in three cities – New York, Paris and Lagos – all with large in-person crowds, and a 24-hour live broadcast to Global Citizen’s huge online audience. With executive production for the entire project coming from Live Nation, the three shows welcomed some of music’s biggest names including, Ed Sheeran, Elton John,


Stevie Wonder, Jennifer Lopez and BTS. With one of the three stops just across the Channel from our HQ, TPi took the opportunity to visit Paris to meet some of the technical personnel involved behind the scenes. CREATIVE CONCEPT Leading the design on all three stages across the world was STUFISH Entertainment Architects. “We are honoured to continue to work with Global Citizen and to be part of this very special concert,” commented STUFISH Entertainment Architects Partner, Ric Lipson. “We believe urgent action is required to help protect our planet and to help those suffering from poverty, which is why it was important to us to take part in this incredible event and celebrate the amazing work of Global Citizen.” Across each of the three sites, STUFISH had an overarching goal for the design to echo the messaging of Global Citizen, not only in style but in the materials used on site. For each stage, Lipson and the team chose materials that were either recyclable, made from recycled materials or would have a second life.

To enforce the message of fighting climate change, tree and plant saplings were used as part of the stage design and will be replanted in areas local to the venues following the show. The New York stop was hosted in Central Park, the African rendition was in Lagos at New Africa Shrine and the Paris show in which TPi took particular interest was in Champ de Mars in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. Across each of the three sites there was a familiar theme, with each of the stage designs featuring the brand’s red circle prominently. “The nexus of the Global Citizen Live stages was to create sustainable designs that inspired viewers and functioned highly efficiently for a fast-paced, global variety show with over 10 artist changeovers and about 50 speakers on each stage,” said Global Citizen Vice President of Global Events & Experiences, David Beame. “We are honoured to have worked with STUFISH and the many production vendors to accomplish this challenging task and bring our stages to life around the world. The stages were a connective tissue between the events, each maintaining their own identity

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and becoming part of the cultural fabric of each city. No matter when viewers tuned into the broadcast, it was clear these shows were united behind the goal to defend the planet and defeat poverty,” Beame stated. PARIS With over 30 shows on the Champ de Mars ground under his belt, Stéphane Nicolas of ULTD Evenements was brought in to take on the role of Site Manager and Technical Director for the entire site. Having worked on this show since February, he had been there for every twist and turn as he and Global Citizen attempted to make this event happen despite the ongoing issues with COVID-19. “One of the initial hurdles was getting the American team over to see the site,” he began. “Although this looks like a big area, it’s actually quite a long but narrow one to work in.” The famed park that looks onto the Eiffel Tower presented an interesting challenge for any incoming productions, mainly due to the entire space being flanked by residential


buildings along with the typical issues that go along with attempting to curate a show in the centre of a major capital city, such as general traffic and entry points. Despite hosting some enormous shows in the past – namely Johnny Hallyday’s 700,000cap show – the capacity for the Champ de Mars was set at 20,000 for the Global Citizen show. “We could have had 25,000 people but due to COVID-19 we opted to reduce the capacity to 20,000. This means it works out at two people per square metre rather than three,” Nicolas said. Although by the time Global Citizen 2021 opened its gates, French law had made facemasks optional, Global Citizen still asked anyone coming onto site to wear them. As for the crew, Nicolas explained how his team had set up “the highest possible procedures, going above and beyond what the law required.” Even if vaccinated, every crewmember entering the site was tested daily and there was even a lab on site that could produce PCR results in 20 minutes. Nicolas was keen to keep the number of different

suppliers to a minimum. “I didn’t want hundreds of suppliers for the simple reason that we don’t have enough space to handle that quantity of vehicles,” he said. “I lent towards rental stager Dushow as they were able to handle the majority of our requests, which meant I only needed to speak to a few personnel to ensure we were all focused on the same goal.” Not only this, due to Dushow’s size and resources, the production was able to call upon other branches from the Novelty Magnum Dushow group – with Magnum responsible for all the cable drawing and powering. While a 20,000 in-person attendance is by no means small, Nicolas asserted that this was primarily approached as a broadcast show. “When the focus is on the broadcast rather than live, it’s important to get the main objectives right,” he said. “Broadcast-focused shows are challenging as all the timings are of the utmost importance and you have to think about camera angles and what the director wants to see.” This is particularly important as this show would be broadcast worldwide.

On stage, one of the key members of the team who ensured clear communication between the technical crew and incoming productions was Stage Manager, Frédéric Hamonou. “My role is to make everyone happy,” he chuckled. “We work hand in hand with décor, production and guests. Our job is to make sure that artists can perform in the best conditions possible.” Hamonou kept an eye on around 120 technicians throughout the day and during the build. “Although we had six days to put everything together, two of those days were booked for rehearsals, so we really only had four,” he said. “We were then on hand on those rehearsal days for last-minute tweaks and changes.” Hamonou highlighted the difference in his workflow for this show compared to a traditional outdoor setup – mainly the incredibly fast changeover times. “For a festival, there is usually around an hour, but here the production had a mere six minutes,” he revealed. There were also several challenges for the stage manager to contend with during the build. “We don’t usually have stage decorations

in live environments, so we had to work hand in hand and sync our building plans in order to respect each other’s space and, most importantly, avoid any accidents. We went to see the technical design studio Y-Lines in Belgium and planned quite a lot in advance, which made things much easier during buildup,” he said, praising his fellow collaborators. To close, Nicolas explained that while crewing “wasn’t too much of a concern”, due to his selection of a company that has the “power and scale to grab good technical and get them here”, security wasn’t quite so straightforward. “This was more difficult due to the large number of events happening in the city and further afield, from football games to festivals,” he conceded. “However, I’m pleased to say that our security agency delivered.” THE DESIGN The view of the stage from the middle of the Champ de Mars saw the Eiffel Tower framed by the giant red circle of the stage – affectionately called ‘the donut’ by the crew. “The scale of

the Eiffel Tower was certainly one of my first thoughts when approaching this project,” began Al Gurdon of Incandescent Design, who took on the task of lighting the stage. “It is a national landmark – truly iconic and it was important to give it the prominence it deserves,” he said in praise of the backdrop. The Eiffel Tower acted as an extension of the show design. Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel’s Stéphane Roussin commented: “There is an interaction with the Eiffel Tower for a lot of events that are put on in the Champ de Mars.” According to Roussin, as soon as you have an event with the Eiffel Tower in the picture, you are aware of “exactly where you are”. Roussin went on to explain that organisers were keen to showcase the Eiffel Tower and have it interact with what was happening on stage. “The tower doesn’t have a fixed-install AVL system apart from the architectural lighting with sodium lights, so we had to install gear on the side facing the Champ De Mars,” he stated. “For this event, we did something that we very rarely do, which was to allow the



event to control the lighting, including the now iconic sparkle effect, so that the Eiffel Tower lighting evolved based on the artist and song being played. The Tower actively participated in Global Citizen and really added to the project.” Everything that was rigged on the Eiffel Tower, namely Star Way TourKolor, Claypaky Super Sharpy, and Elation Professional Proteus lighting fixtures, as well as on the Champ de Mars was installed by Magnum. Magnum also installed specific towers of an unusual height of 18m for the performance. As well as playing a key role in the aesthetic of the production, the Eiffel Tower was also part of the contingency plans in case of any issues with the live show. A more intimate second stage was prepared on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower for musicians and personalities to continue the broadcast without an audience. “With the recent flooding in various countries, plus the potential issue with a terrorist attack, we had to have a plan B,” Roussin noted. Focusing back on the stage, Gurdon discussed some of the workhorse fixtures


he utilised for the show. “One of the biggest considerations was the weather and therefore we used mainly waterproof fixtures,” he stated. On the lighting rig were SGM P-6s and Elation Professional Proteus Maximus and Proteus Hybrid fixtures. “We didn’t want to spend a lot of time fixing equipment or protecting lights in ugly ways.” As well as being able to withstand weather conditions, Gurdon added that the power of the various fixtures was also important. “We needed fixtures that could reach the stage from FOH – a distance of around 70m,” he said. According to Gurdon, most of the artists were more than happy to work with the design. “We had a few additions here and there but, on the whole, we designed and programmed the entire show,” he said. “We’ve had some input from management, and my approach is to take all that on-board and try and give the artists something so they feel reassured.” The LD explained that “communication” was one of the key factors to ensure that all parties were happy. “It may not be possible to do

exactly what they want, but engaging with the process is important for success.” That said, some artists brought additional floor packages for their sets, notably Christine and the Queens, with Dushow supplying a total of 48 GLP JDC1s arranged in a line, taking the entire length of the stage, which were attached to a bespoke interconnected roller to take them on and off the stage. Aiding Gurdon on site was PRG’s Richard Gorrod. Although Dushow was the primary vendor for this project, Gurdon brought in Gorrod due to their shared experience of working together, not to mention for the use of PRG’s followspot solution, the GroundControl. “We provided the production with six PRG BestBoys and the accompanying GroundControl base system,” Gorrod stated. “Al really enjoys the freedom the GroundControl gives him as he can control the colour and intensity remotely.” He outlined some of the other highlights of the lighting rig for the system. “On ‘the donut’ structure, we had 64 Robe Tetra2 bars, which

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Cédric Pontieux, Alexandre Capponi, Wilfried Mautret, Alex Guessard, and Théo Brun; Stage Project Manager, Fred Hamonou and Régis Nguyen; Dushow Technical Coordinator, Ollie Nesham; Le Voyageur 1 Broadcast Music Engineer, Raphael Auclair; Alabama Media LED Technician, Cédric Frécon; Y-Lines Founder, Yves Vervloet; Al Gurdon and team; PRG’s Greg Douglas and Richard Gorrod; ULTD EVENEMENTS’ Stéphane Nicolas and Eiffel Tower Head of Project Management, Stéphane Roussin.


are fantastic,” he said. “We used around 200 of them on the BRIT Awards, and Al loves them.” Alex Mildenhall and Alex Parshall were responsible for operating the show on the day, with Mildenhall operating an MA Lighting grandMA3 with MA3 software. “There are not too many people doing that yet, but it seems to be going well,” Gorrod said. Like most of the production, he noted that this was not your run-of-the-mill festival setup, with the focus being very much on the broadcast. “Being a live broadcast brings a lot more pressure,” he stated. “That said, some people really like the pressure – it just means we have to have a few more measures in place.” He was complementary of the level of communication between all parties. “I’m a great believer that success all comes down to preparation. Most of the work should already be done before you get to the site. Dushow has been great and all their gear is in great condition.” He praised Dushow Technical Coordinator, Régis Nguyen, who worked closely with Gurdon and Gorrod during the early stages of Global Citizen’s Paris live production. STAGE DÉCOR Handling the décor for the giant ‘donut’ structure was Belgium-based set construction company, Y-lines. “I only started Y-lines a few years ago, although I’ve been making scenic elements for shows for the past 25 years,” began Y-lines Founder, Yves Vervloet. The initial brief for Vervloet and his team was to do all the scenery for the show with fabrication

starting in the middle of August. “We delivered everything in four weeks,” he enthused. “We then travelled to Paris to build the show. The ‘donut’ was certainly the biggest challenge we can to contend with as it is such a big piece.” The skeleton of the structure comprised rental trusses with a few custom pieces to form the circular shape. The skin provided by Y-lines was then stretched across the truss. This was the first time Y-lines was able to trial the skin, which Vervloet happily reported “fit perfectly”. At every turn, the designers used as much recycled or recyclable material as possible to fall in line with the Global Citizen ethos. “The ‘donut’, for example, didn’t use any wood, so it created far less waste than a traditional stage setup,” explained Vervloet. “The recycled tiles on the front of the stage came from a company in Amsterdam and are used to clad buildings. Once the show is broken down, they will be sent back to the company for them to be reused.” VIDEO EXCELLENCE LED Technician, Cédric Frécon of Alabama Media – part of the Dushow group – ran TPi through the technical details of the various LED video surfaces present on the site. Focusing on the stage and very much inbuilt in the show design was what Frécon referred to as the “ticker screens”. Integrated in either side of the stage design, and measuring 1m by 9.5m and 1m by 8m, these Absen Polaris 3.9mm screen stripes displayed Global Citizen messages throughout the performances. The LED on the inside of the ‘donut’ was made



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from 76 tiles of Absen T5 LED panels provided by PRG Paris. PRG conducted some tests at Y-lines prior to the show to make sure the LED kit could be installed safely and rapidly while minimising the rig lines between the tiles. The curved Absen LED screen was built in a day by four techs and eight crew. PRG Paris Project Manager, Greg Douglas commented: “Our collaboration with the different teams and departments was admirable; it was a great pleasure to participate in this event.” Flanking the stage were two IMAG screens comprising AbsenAltair Series AT5 Pro. “Each side has a total surface of 79.2 sq m – 20 panels long by 5.5 high,” stated Frécon. “Each screen has a 5.5mm pixel pitch pre-rigged with Absen frames, which allows us to save valuable time during set up and also make the structure more robust to factors such as shock or wind while still benefitting from very fine panels." He added: “Resolution and screen quality were extremely important as this event was broadcast worldwide, so we needed to have the best performing screens possible.” An


additional two screens measuring 4.2m by 2.4m on the far delay towers were made up of Absen Altair Series. Feeding each of the LED screens, the production was routed between an OB Van and the NovaStar media servers. “Content is a mixture between live and pre-recorded content along with animations,” stated Frécon. “On site, we had a NovaStar NovaPro UHD Jr controller, which had 16 Neutrik Ethernet outputs, lots of functions such as PIB, 4K and a CVT fibre optic converter, allowing a large distance between the controller and our LED displays,” he said. “This saves on cable runs and means we can go as close as possible to the screen to get the best signal quality imaginable.” Finally, and only for the eyes of those on stage, was an Absen Polaris 3.9mm LED screen used as a teleprompter for the presentations, politicians and guests. LIVE AUDIO Despite the focus on the live broadcast element of the show, a substantial PA was still required – in this case, a Meyer Sound LEO

system. The system comprised left and right hangs with clusters of 16 LEOs and 12 1100LFC subs, which were all hung as the site did not permit ground subs to be used. There were four delay towers, each with 12 LYONs and six 1100-LFCs. “The advantage of using Meyer is that you’re able to push the delay hang a bit further due to the power of the system and the distance it can cover from the stage,” stated Dushow Head of Sound, Alexandre Capponi, who noted that this was particularly important in keeping delay towers out of shot. “The sheer size of the audience and the fact this is central Paris meant that we had some sound requirements to contend with – a strict limit of 99dba,” Capponi added, continuing to explain the choice of system. “We were not allowed outfills due to the surrounding residential buildings on either side of the park, so we had to basically shoot the PA down the site. The Meyer system has great directivity and is ideal for this standpoint.” Sébastien Nicolas of Best Audio and Lighting – distributor of Meyer Sound, and

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Elation Professional, both of which featured heavily in the show – was on site in Paris. Although not directly involved with the production, he was keen to highlight some of the features that made the Meyer LEO system ideal for the project. “It is such a powerful system, which means you can push your delay towers back,” he said, recounting many conversations he has shared with the team at Dushow about Meyer’s prediction software. “The predictions are so close to reality, which makes it an invaluable tool to technicians,” he said, explaining how the production used RMServe to provide diagnostics for each box on the rig. “This means you can go through each box and test temperature and power.” Moving onto the control setup, Capponi explained how FOH ran an A and B system to ensure seamless changeovers between acts. “On each system, there is a DiGiCo SD7 for monitors and an SD5 at FOH,” he stated. “We also had each system on its own Optocore loop, which was advantageous for changeovers.” Both Optocore feeds delivered two MADI feeds, which the audio team were then able to deliver for the broadcast team. There was an additional SD5 at FOH that purely looked after presenters and those speaking at the stage lectern between each act. “As most of the artists were not on tour, we ended up providing the lion’s share of the equipment,” stated Capponi. “We only had a


few of the artist touring crews bring in their own equipment such as Christine and the Queens, who brought in two Avid S6Ls, and Ed Sheeran’s team, who brought in an extra SD7 for monitors, which was controlled from FOH.” He highlighted wireless frequencies as a major area of contention. “Prior to the show, we had a lot of talks with The National Frequency Agency [ANFR] – the regulatory official who reserved sections of frequencies for us to work within France. Bands need between 20 to 30 channels of RF, so you have to do everything in your power to make it work,” Capponi explained. The ANFR brought in an antenna that could scramble any attempts from the outside to take control of the frequencies. On the subject of wireless, Capponi pointed out the Shure systems tasked with the delivery of microphone and wireless in-ears duties, with an Axient Digital system used for mics and PSM1000s being provided for the show. FIN This latest iteration of Global Citizen raised $1.1bn in commitments and pledges over the weekend to fight extreme poverty. Specifically, over 60m COVID-19 vaccines were donated for developing countries, 157m trees to defend the planet, and the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, pledged €140m for food security. Along with the charitable success of the event, Global Citizen was a demonstration of

production excellence. To this end, Live Nation France Technical Director, Charlie Boxhall spoke of the efforts of the technical suppliers. “Dushow did an outstanding job despite the short time frame,” he stated, giving his thanks for the company’s involvement with the show. The show also demonstrated the lengths the events industry can go to have forwardthinking stage designs with the environmental impact at the forefront of the conversation. Sharing his thoughts on this point was Global Citizen Chief of Staff, Blaec von Kalweit, who was on-site in Paris. “STUFISH echoed our calls to action to defend the planet within the design concept. A green and organic backdrop was created for the Paris stage,” von Kalweit reported. “We used 100 tree saplings and plants to celebrate nature and the need to plant, restore and protect trees to help tackle climate change. After the event, the trees were replanted around Paris.” This show was a case in point that the hybrid format where live and broadcast coexist, can have a tremendous reach and impact – perhaps even more so now than prior to March 2020.




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SUMMERFEST Now in its 53rd year, the massive music mêlée in Milwaukee, Wisconsin remains a showcase for AVL technology and sets the pace for music festivals in the COVID era.

Words: Dan Daley Photos: Jay Baumgardner @Clearwing

Summerfest is the biggest little event you may or may not know about. Certified in 1999 by the Guinness Book of World Records as ‘The World’s Largest Music Festival,’ in 2017 it celebrated its half-century mark and in preCOVID times routinely attracted over 750,000 concertgoers. They could see and listen to nearly 300 shows as they wandered between 11 stages peppered throughout Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s Henry W. Maier Festival Park – 30 hectares on the shores of Lake Michigan 100 miles north of Chicago, which had previously served as the city’s first airport and the site of a Nike missile facility in the ’50s. This year’s attractions included Luke Bryan, Chance the Rapper, Twenty-One Pilots, Chris Stapleton, Megan Thee Stallion, Miley Cyrus, Tommy Gunn, REO Speedwagon and Guns N’ Roses. The performance stages, named for locally based but national corporate sponsors, such

as the generator giant Generac, AmericanIrish systems management maker, Johnson Controls, and Miller Lite, seat anywhere from 400 to 4,000 or more and are a string of shiny, noisy pearls connected by county fair-type midways and food tents, and anchored at the south end by the 23,000-seat American Family Insurance Amphitheater. Five performers per stage per day cycle through what is usually the festival’s fortnight in July, its traditional month. This year, however, after being cancelled completely in 2020, it reassembled itself as a series of three-day weekends in September. Summerfest has also been morphing into a kind of working AV expo, where sound and lighting systems manufacturers – most notably Harman Professional’s JBL, Crown and Martin brands in recent years – see an opportunity to wave their brands’ banners before hundreds of musicians, FOH engineers, and production

managers each year. Behind the music and the festivities that hundreds of thousands of concertgoers enjoy, there is a huge machine – and with 53 years’ worth of experience, a rather well-oiled one – that was ready to take on producing a massive music festival under COVID’s combat conditions. Summerfest might be the perfect festival for the way the music market has evolved. Like the various streaming services that now dominate the industry, Summerfest puts a huge smorgasbord of styles, sounds, attitudes and aspirations in front of consumers, who can graze easily between scores of aural tastings daily for not much more than they pay for a year of Spotify. At nearly two weeks and 12 hours a day, it’s immersive, ringing another culturalmedia bell, but unlike Bonnaroo or Burning Man, most people get to sleep in their own beds every night. And it’s about as egalitarian as it


gets in a celebrity-soused society, with local and regional heroes mixed in with top touring acts, fattening the former’s press kits if not their bank accounts. [Summerfest is operated by a non-profit board.] The music starts early in the afternoon, with mainly local artists though once-big names pepper the early schedule, such as Soul Asylum, best known for their 1994 GRAMMY Award-winner, Runaway Train, performing at 4pm on a Thursday. At night, however, the sun goes down, the lights come on, and the volume goes up. It’s when Summerfest hits its nightly peak, with music across all 11 stages. LIGHTING THE WAY Summerfest’s move to September from its usual July slot meant that lighting got a bit more exercise than in previous years, as the near-autumn sun slipped away a little earlier each day. For Sarah ‘Sparks’ Parker, LD for Kesha, who was the closer on the BMO Harris


Pavilion stage on a Saturday night, it was a second time around, having directed lighting for Imagine Dragons there in 2018 – the same year she also began working with Kesha. Parker had nice words for the Martin Lighting MAC Axiom hybrid 440W fixture, a dozen of which were part of the BMO stage’s rig. “They’re really flexible; I can use them as a beam or a spot, and they’re definitely impactful as a spot. We can see them clearly in a big space like this – a high impact,” she said of the 5,000-seat venue. For Kesha’s emotional ballad Shadow, Parker said the Axiom spot, mounted down on pipes on the angled truss, gave her the effect she wanted. “It worked nicely for that moment in particular,” she said. “The Axiom’s really wide range and zoom let me dial in exactly the kind of backlit little arch around her. It was perfect.” Most of the campus’ basic lighting grid is installed as part of the park’s permanent infrastructure and used throughout the year for a variety of other events – largely ethnic

food, music, and culture festivals. The threeday Mexican Fiesta, which shares the park with annual Pride, Polish, Irish, Italian, Mexican, and German fests, had ended barely two days before Summerfest kicked off this year. Clearwing Productions supplements that with moving lights and floor packages for Summerfest, depending on the stage and artists. “We’ll usually supplement with some kind of moving fixture, for flair, like Martin Axiom or Quantum,” revealed Clearwing Productions Senior Lighting Operations Manager, Ania Dankow who began working on Summerfest as a lighting tech in 2004. “We’ll also provide MA Lighting grandMA2 light consoles across the ground stages, with grandMA2 full-sizes for larger shows.” Another aspect of Summerfest that sets it apart from other music festivals is the fact that its infrastructure is mostly permanent. Most stages are set into brick and concrete proscenia, with permanent electrical


connections and installed rigging. The HarleyDavidson stage sports a fairly spacious crawl space that provides an air-conditioned amp-rack room with conduit leading up to the stage, and even a rumpled couch for visiting crew to take a break on. Backstage areas are as good as any at most arenas, boasting private dressing and rest rooms. Most stages have common elements, such as the dozen Martin Axiom or Quantum or Viper profiles on seven of the stages. There is also a virtualisation suite on site for bands that bring MA-compatible files for their shows. And you don’t see many foggers on stage at Summerfest – the ubiquitous barbecue tents swirl plenty of smoke around the grounds that gets picked up by the stage lighting. Individual stages will sometimes get special attention. For instance, this year the Generac stage, named for the festival’s main 2021 sponsor, had a promotional video run before the evening’s headliner performed that was synchronised, via timecode, with a light show, and Clearwing Productions also provided an upgraded lighting package across the stage that included Ayrton Perseo profiles on the


wings. Other changes were more complicated: on the Miller stage’s first weekend’s Flo Rida and DJ Diesel set and the Generac stage’s third Diplo and Run the Jewels set, both of which skewed heavily towards bass-heavy shows, the entire installed PAR can rig was removed and replaced with a full moving-fixture rig. That lighting package, developed for EDM artists but now more widely deployed for rap and related shows, includes a dozen Martin by Harman MAC Viper Performance units, 18 Viper profiles, 42 VDO Sceptron 10 1000mm linear video fixtures, 18 VDO Fatron 20 1000mm fixtures, a P3-300 system controller, and five P3 Powerport 1500 integrated power supplies and processors. “It began as an EDM rig, but it’s being used for more different [types of] artists as the music changes,” said Dankow. THE BIG PICTURE Summerfest had a somewhat larger video footprint this year, benefitting from the steadily decreasing costs of the medium, allowing for more and larger screens. A combination of ROE Visual and Theatrixx LED screens were temporarily installed on three of the seven

stages that had IMAG video for the event, an addition of three more LED screens in total this year than in 2019, including a large IMAG and general information screen on the campus’ Lakewalk. Mindpool Live, a locally based video systems and content provider, is the primary video producer for the event. The event used to also use some projection video for evening shows, but according to Mindpool President, Josh Adams, the event has moved to all LED screens now, in some cases using multiple IMAG screens per venue, plus a display above the FOH position at each stage that doubles as digital signage between shows. The company also provided a combination of Sony HDC-3500 and HXC-100 cameras for the stages. These rode on a SMPTE-fibre network for signal and control, enabling the live video for at least three of the stages to be directed and managed from a central control room in a one of the permanent buildings in the park, where the production utilised Ross Carbonite switchers and Ultra routers. Four cameras per stage converged on a matrix there and were backhauled over a fibre home run to the master control, where performance video

and audio could also be recorded. “It was an exciting time this year, after missing the event last year,” said Adams, who also directs video for Foo Fighters. “Everybody had to ramp up together to make this happen, and we all have a sense of pride about it. For companies like Clearwing and Mindpool Live to be able to support each other in our own backyard at an iconic festival like Summerfest, is amazing.” Clearwing Productions supplied video walls for six stages: two each ROE Visual CB5 16ft by 9ft displays at the Generac and BMO Harris Bank stages, a 26ft by 16ft CB5 that moved between the Generac and Miller stages over the course of the festival, a 16ft by 9ft CB5 display at the US Cellular stage, in addition to the 60ft display at the amphitheater, where it was used for five of the 12 shows there: Hella Mega Tour, Chance the Rapper, Twenty One Pilots, Megan Thee Stallion, and Miley Cyrus. BIG SOUND Logistically, Summerfest is an immense audio show, with all of the sound systems designed and provided by Clearwing Productions, the AVL provider for several decades’ worth of

Summerfests. The core box for all but one of the stages is the JBL VTX A12, with 128 of them dispersed across 10 systems, plus another 16 VTX A12W bins, which offer wider 120° of dispersion, versus the VTX A12’s standard 90°. The A12, introduced in spring 2017, made its large-scale debut at Summerfest the following year, when it was deployed across seven stages there. Harman’s dominance of the festival’s sound continues with another 69 VTX A8 boxes also deployed there this year, 117 VTX B18 arrayable single-18 subs, 64 VTX dual-18 B28 subs and two more of the topmountable B28s, and 84 M22 wedge monitors. Power for these came from a total of 46 Crown VRack 4x3500 amps buttressed by six CrownVRack 1200HD and two 4x3500HD amps. One stage was primarily an L-Acoustics system, a blend of 32 K1s, 16 K2s, 36 KARAs, 10 ARCS II, and 16 KS1Bs, powered by a total of 25 LA-RAK and LA-RAK-II amplified controllers, and with d&b audiotechnik M2 wedge monitors also adorning the stage. One of the things that distinguishes Summerfest from most other music festivals is the fact that FOH at each stage is manned

by a unionised audio engineer; specifically, a member of IATSE Local 18. In combination with the use of mostly a single type of PA speaker box, it gives the event useful sonic and operational consistency. The transparency of the A12 box was cited by several engineers as being a good choice, letting the individual sound of each performer through – many come with their own FOH mixers, whom the house engineers work with – while letting those Summerfest house mixers move between stages when needed knowing what to expect. Brian Miller is one of the Local 18 mixers; in fact, he estimates, with 22 years on Summerfests, he’s the senior mixer on site. He was eyeing the curved metal roof of the Johnson Controls stage’s – two hangs of six VTX A-12 boxes, two A8s as front fills, and bottomed with a dozen B18 subs, powered by three VRack 4x3500 amps – seating area, one of only two venues enclosed overhead, for its potential acoustical challenges. “The Clearwing techs tune the systems and the FOH mixers at each stage can give them whatever final tweaks they want,” he said, adding that years earlier the shows had



multiple audio vendors before Clearwing Productions became the sole provider, which he said also contributes to making the sound quality reliable and the workflows efficient. “The A12s sound great but they also can be aimed very precisely, to keep the sound off reflective surfaces,” he commented. His colleague, Craig Broemser, who also worked more than one stage at the festival, noted that it can be easy to overmix at this event, with its various types of stage environments. “We have to be careful of levels,” he said. “The rule of thumb is to keep the instruments down a bit and the vocals a little bit hot.” Good advice for a stage that seemed especially partial to lyrical artists, including Liz Phair, Ani DiFranco, and Drive-By Truckers. Over at the Uline Warehouse stage – featuring 20 A12s, 12 A8s and 24 B18s split into two hangs powered by six VRack 4x3500 amps – which hosted Jesse McCartney, Spin Doctors and Motley Crüe’s Vince Neil among others, mixer Joe Adam noted how the stage’s position exposed it to north winds off of Lake Michigan, which required a slight positioning adjustment to the left PA hang. “We get good, strong propagation from the A12s, which also helps offset that,” he said. “The image and EQ stay


together nicely, so the sound is consistent.” The union mixers and Clearwing’s techs have formed a cohesive team over the course of so many Summerfests, said Jeff Mayer, Director of Regional Audio Operations in the company’s Milwaukee office. “We make sure to treat all of the union mixers the same as we do the touring engineers,” he stated. The steadily increasing uniformity of the audio and other systems over time has helped keep the sprawling event on an even operational even keel. This year, the deployment of the JBL audio systems is nearly 100% – the American Family Insurance Amphitheater, the largest of the venues, defaults to a Clearwing-supplied L-Acoustics K1/K2 rig unless touring artists bring their own systems – as is the use of key items such as the XTA M36 console switchers and Lake LM44 system processors. “Over the years, we’ve worked with many manufacturers who want to use Summerfest as a showcase for new products and systems, and JBL has been a great partner over that time,” he stated. “We’ve invested heavily in the A series speakers, because we’ve had a very good response from the artists who’ve used it here.” The touring mixers concur. “I liked the

A12 the first time I heard it,” reported Scott ‘Shreddy’ Edwards, the Production Manager and FOH mixer for Coheed & Cambria, who were a mid-fest, Thursday-night closer on the Miller Lite Oasis stage of 20 VTX A12s, four JBL VTX A12Ws, and 10 JBL VTX A8s split between stereo hangs and bottomed out with 24 JBL VTX B28s, all powered by eight Crown VRack 4x3500HDs. “It’s a smooth-sounding box,” Shreddy said, praising the stage’s PA setup. CHALLENGING CONTEXT Summerfest came with a complicated context. Just weeks earlier, other headliner festivals had been cancelled or postponed, including Coachella, Stagecoach, the New Orleans’ Jazz Fest, and Miami’s Ultra; the nearby Country USA Rock and USA festivals, about 50 miles north of Summerfest, called it quits for the year. Bonnaroo, near Nashville, also cancelled days before Summerfest was to open, but cited rain-soaked festival grounds as the reason, a reminder that once COVID is conquered, climate change will still be waiting in the wings. Major tours, including Billie Eilish and Steve Nicks, also put themselves on hold. On the other hand, Lollapalooza, considered by the industry a bellwether for music festivals

going forward, took place as scheduled at the end of July and out of nearly 400,000 who attended the festival, barely 200 tested positive for the virus. Vaccination, pretesting for the unvaccinated, and masking requirements were considered to have been critical to that success, and Summerfest made entry conditional on those same prerequisites. A charge of $50 for a COVID-19 test at the entry gates seemed to keep the unvaccinated largely at bay, it seems. Not that Summerfest didn’t have its challenges. Several artists, including KISS and Indigo Girls, cancelled

due to positive COVID-19 tests ahead of their shows. Modern English and the Pixies, tapped as headliners on their respective stages and days, both had to cancel – appearances and entire tours – as precautions. BEHIND THE SCENES Clearwing Productions Director of Operations Bryan Baumgardner, reported that the festival looked quite normal from the outside. “It’s bigger than it’s ever been, in terms of the number of artists, and several of the stages have been upgraded in the past year,” he said,

noting that the sudden pullback of tours in August made more marquee names available as replacements. However, closer inspection revealed some of the pandemic’s other impacts – an area that’s most noticeable when it comes to crews, who were the first affected by the suspension of touring in the spring of 2020, with many leaving the industry entirely for less tenuous careers. That dynamic has only become more intense as concerts picked up and touring seemed to be turning a corner a year later only to fall back in the face of COVID19’s Delta mid-summer surge. According to



Baumgardner, that’s mainly affected the middle tier of crews – the most necessary segment of that population because it has the most experience but hasn’t yet aged out of the road. “They’re the ones with mortgages and car payments and young children, the ones who really need to put food on the table every day,” he reflected, adding that the smaller pool of possible crew members for tours also means replacing anyone who goes missing due to a positive COVID-19 test is that much harder. “Everyone left is doing more of the work than before,” he remarked. That said, Clearwing’s staff have been largely stable throughout the pandemic, helped by the company’s burgeoning installed-AVL division in a sector that’s managed COVID-19 better than some others. However, other aspects are less predictable. For instance, Clearwing’s sound and lighting product inventory is robust and able to respond quickly to surges in demand, such as when touring picked up earlier in the spring and summer. “We’re seeing more shows flying, not pulling trailers, so our rentals of audio packages and backline have been up about


three times the usual level during Summerfest,” he said, noting that he had over three dozen subs lining a hallway near his office that day. However, if an amp or a fixture goes down, obtaining replacement parts can be tricky if not impossible. Truss components, for instance, now have delivery-wait times of 16 weeks or more, and at least one audio manufacturer has stopped taking orders on some products through the rest of the year. That’s all atop larger industry-wide challenges including the microchip shortage and a lumber industry that is just getting rolling again. “No wood, no speaker boxes; no chips, no amplifiers,” he said, adding that some moving light fixtures in the inventory had to sit idle as their power supplies are back up by six months. However, Sam Donoghue, the FOH mixer at the BMO stage, said that the high-level technology deployed at Summerfest makes it easier to manage the festival’s signature challenge: you never know what’s coming next. “The music genres can be all over the place, even on the same stage on the same day,” he commented. Few of the bands get full sound checks due to time and logistical constraints,

and even headliners are usually satisfied with just line checks. “Reliability is crucial for this,” he added, as are features like resettable work surfaces on consoles. “That Summerfest could happen at all was practically a miracle,” wrote the music critic for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel newspaper, which reported a total attendance of 409,386 concertgoers over nine days, about 60% of 2019’s pre-pandemic gate. It was an apt sentiment, as the festival’s staff and crew pulled together what is still a huge undertaking. Clearwing Productions’ Jeff Meyer recalled taking a walk around the event campus during a break early on in the schedule as the stages, strewn like shiny, noisy pearls along the Lake Michigan lakefront, began to come alive and crowds poured in, remarking to himself how “normal” it all looked. And not the so-called “new normal” that people are trying to parse about what a post-COVID landscape might look like. “It looked normal, the way ‘normal’ should be,” he said. “It felt really, really good.”



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PORTER ROBINSON The electronic artist sets out on a brandnew North America tour, which sees one of the genre’s best kept secrets increase his production values as he welcomes fans back to party under the same roof again.

Words: Stew Hume Photos: John Li Wang, Nancy Huynh, Marlene Sanchez and Yasi

“What are they actually doing live?” How many times has this question been posed about DJs or electronic artists? Despite having some of the biggest shows in the world, there are still naysayers – often self-appointed ‘musical purists’ – who scoff at big-name DJs, but even they would have a hard time criticising American Producer, Porter Robinson. Since his debut album, Worlds, in 2014, he’s bucked the trend of some of his peers, performing everything from pianos and keyboards to lead vocals on several tracks live on stage. Having garnered critical acclaim with one GRAMMY nomination for his Virtual Self EP, it was with much fanfare that Robinson dropped his sophomore release, Nurture. A tour was obviously on the horizon. Following a successful streamed event called Secret Sky, which saw some of the core crew reunite for the fist time since the COVID-19 pandemic, the wheels began turning for The Nurture Live Tour.

Midway through the run, TPi caught up with some of the key players of the Porter Robinson camp to reflect on their experience on the road. NURTURE Leading the production was Tour Director, Robert Dugan and Production Manager, Zach Snyder. “Porter has really stepped up production value with The Nurture Live Tour, compared to his previous outings,” enthused Dugan. “I can see how much work he puts in each day. Prior to the tour, there were a lot of rehearsals preparing the live set and working on edits of the tracks. Porter really puts his heart and soul into his delivery.” The recent tour saw Porter Robison and crew go through a variety of venue sizes, from club shows to large outdoor festivals, which required each department to be as flexible as possible, so, no matter the crowd size, each stop would give the audience the full

Porter Robinson experience. “Going from a 22,000-capacity festival to a 2,500-cap club is never an easy task,” Dugan commented. “We thought about this during the design phase around 16 months from tour start. Zach, our PM, and Ben Coker, our designer, thought about the infrastructure and engineering of our rig and how it could be scaled easily in all venues. For instance, the lighting truss can break in the middle to go from our full A-rig dimensions to an easy B-rig while retaining proper aspect ratios for the video.” Dugan admitted that such a variety of venue sizes meant there were some trying days, but the team “pushes through every hurdle to ensure we can maximise the fan experience!” Providing equipment for this tour was Clair Global for audio, Jerry Harvey Audio for IEMs, Christie Lites for lighting, with additional equipment from Zenith Lighting. Video was supplied by Fuse, with Taylor Transportation on



trucking and NiteTrain for tour busses. While travel logistics was taken care of by Executive Travel. Creating a tour of this nature is never the simplest process, but with the added layers of complexity that COVID-19 brings, advancing a tour in 2021 is more challenging than ever. “The COVID-19 policies we chose to implement were determined during the pandemic and have held strong as we approached the start of the tour,” he said. The production opted to have a fully vaccinated crew, with Dugan reporting that the team felt the need to “trust science and minimise the risk to all around us”. Each member of the crew was tested daily and wore masks, while frequent hand washing and sterilisation of equipment with disinfectant wipes was encouraged daily. “All buses and backstage areas have air purifiers that filter up to 0.1 microns with anything trapped in there being killed by a UVC light,” Dugan said.


“On the buses, we have purifiers in the front lounge, bunk area, and back lounge.” The team also brought in a strict no-guest policy in the backstage areas and, more importantly, the buses. “It’s a very sad thing to implement as we have many friends and family around the globe who we haven’t been able to see for 18 months, but this simply isn’t the tour to test the waters on,” he said, upon reflection. “I hope things can be relaxed during future tours regarding COVID-19 protocols.” PLAYBACK Overseeing Robinson’s playback world for the past seven years has been Rayce Stipanovich. As well as playing multiple instruments on stage, Robinson sings throughout his show, often performs vocal lines that are heavily processed, performing female-sounding or childlike leads using a pitch shifter. That and many other tricks are done with the aid of his

Playback Technician. Stipanovich has worn many hats on the tour, running playback, monitors and even system teching so the in-house FOH engineers were ready to go. If that wasn’t enough of an undertaking, for many of the bills Robinson was on, Stipanovich had to be able to adhere to the five-minute changeovers that are commonplace in the EDM world. “This live setup has been growing slowly and updated over the past five years and has seen us going from quite an old-school analogue route using lots of copper and Radial Engineering switchers to a complex networked system using Dante with more channels and increased flexibility.” For this run, Stipanovich had thankfully been able to delegate some of her previous roles, with FOH Engineer, Simon Thomas and Monitor Engineer, Chad Byrd joining the fold this year. “It’s been a dream to work with both of them,”


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she said. Despite having two new faces in the audio department, the production was still keen to maintain the foundations that Stipanovich had created – specifically an infrastructure that was built around an incredibly flexible Dante network. “The move to Dante came out of necessity to keep up with Porter’s demands for his live set,” Stipanovich explained. “In a tour prior to this one, I moved us onto the system to cater to his wish to play more elements of the track on stage with his Roland keyboards and MIDI controllers, which needs to be played in real time then channelled through Ableton.” The playback world is so hand’s-on for Stipanovich that for several tours now, rather than being surrounded by laptops like some of her peers, she helms her world with a DiGiCo SD12. “I just wanted more control and as I was also a monitor engineer in the early days, I began to use my desk as a more robust switching system, not to mention take advantage of a far higher channel count.” Over the years, she also began to use the desk to


process the vocals using Waves inserts. “It’s great to have some really good faders at your fingertips when you’re soloing something, not to mention the redundancy it offers.” Stipanovich is using every available audio path on her SD12 and has even adapted some of the outputs into inputs. “The way I work really eats up channel counts,” she chuckled. “All the redundant inputs and ‘playables’ as I call them on stage, I like to have the ability to solo each one, so I have more of a handle on what’s going on. It just means if there is an issue during the show, I can find out what it is very quickly.” Robinson owns most of the equipment. “We’ve got a decent inventory of gear and we’ve tried to recycle various pieces over the years,” explained Stipanovich. “He really likes to rehearse and noodle about with the live setup, hence it’s been important to own his own gear.” The backline set up for this tour included a Roland upright piano along with an Ableton Push 2 and an Akai midi controller. “One of my personal highlights of this current setup is

the unique-sounding Udo Super 6 and Roland Jupiter-X,” she remarked. To give more playable expression to Robinson on stage, Stipanovich fashioned a pedal board that enabled the artist to interact with the music in a more organic way, with some granular delays and reverbs from Chase Bliss Audio. This addition was only possible with the Dante backbone of the show, which was able to send the mix back through the pedal board before going back to FOH. “My job is all about figuring out cool ways for Porter to have fun on stage,” Stipanovich laughed. JUMPING ON BOARD Not known for working in the genre – having worked with the likes of Ariana Grande, Halsey and Sam Smith in the past – 2018 TPi Award winning-FOH Engineer, Simon Thomas shared his thoughts on his first outing with an electronic artist. “You have to be conscious of where he has come from,” he stated. “Usually with bedroom producers you find they put a show together

in terms of a mix, which is then just sent out to a left and right PA hang and that’s usually it. However, with Porter Robinson, there is a wish to have more control, which has seen us approach this show in a more traditional way of mixing. “In some ways, this project has many of the hallmarks of a traditional pop show in that I’m dealing with a lot of tracks,” he furthered. “That said, the goal in a pop show is to make what is happening live blend well to the backing tracks, with the vocal on top, whereas here, I’m mastering all the tracks, individually. Each song there can be some rather radical changes in EQ as he might use two different types of kick drum in one song. You have to be conscious of all those different elements and treat them accordingly,” he said. He also explained that the main thing to remember is that it’s dance music. “The main mission is to keep the energy up,” he said. For those that know Thomas, it was no surprise which brand of console he used to helm the show. “This time round I’m on a Solid State Logic L200,” he said. “It has a great workflow and I have everything I need on the

top surface for this one. It also sounds great. I don’t know anything out there that has the depth and width of the L200.” Another highlight of Thomas’ control setup was the SSL Fusion, which was used for the vocal chain. “We’ve also got an Empirical Labs EL7X Fatso for his piano as a variety of sounds come from it. The Fatso does a great job at bringing them all together.” He also gave special mention to the TC Electronics Finalizer, which was used heavily for the tracked backing vocals, as well as the Rupert Neve Portico, which added yet more width and depth to the overall mix. The L200 was also more then equipped to be thrown into the Dante heavy show without the need for Thomas to use a third-party controller to interact with the network. He continued to give his thoughts on the flexibility that Dante had brought to this current tour. “As audio engineers, we’ve used a traditional workflow going from A to B to C when we think about a signal chain,” he furthered. “It’s a bit of a learning curve as with Dante you can go from A to Z then Q to C. It takes a while to get your head around the fact that you can take

anything off the network at any time, but it’s the way everything is going. It means less copper is involved and once you have got it all set up, it’s very stable. The trick is to make sure no IP addresses clash at all.” With diverse venue sizes, the audio team needed a flexible PA that could be manipulated into a variety of configurations. Clair Global supplied Thomas and the team with a Cohesion CO-12 system. When used in its full configuration, the engineer had 12 CO-12s in the main hang, with eight in the side. For subs, the CP-218 was selected, with six per side and, in some circumstances, three flown and three on the ground. “Some people have mentioned that it’s not much sub but, trust me, the CP-218s are amazing. The power-to-number ratio is outstanding,” he said, using CP-6s for front fill and some P2 boxes in batches of four to fill any gaps. Aiding in the system design for the first part of the tour was Matthew Van Hook. Due to illness, Van Hook had to step down and was replaced with Josh de Jong stepping in after finishing a campaign with Guns N’ Roses.

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Thomas spoke of Robinson’s vocal setup, which was slightly more complicated than one might expect. In total, the artist had three different microphone options – two hardwired and one wireless. All three of the capsules were sE Electronics V7s, selected for its ability to deal with spill and tight sound, he pointed out. For the wireless microphone, a Shure Axient system was deployed. “The audio chain for his voice has been simplified from previous tours,” stated Thomas. “There used to be numerous plug-ins on his voice, but now we’ve got it down to just two, with the rest going through a high pass filter, a levelling amplifier and a PSC prior to the vocal chain, depending on the song.” During his set, Robinson performs vocal lines which are-manipulated, for example, to imitate a female lead and or choir vocal. Stipanovich from her playback position switches depending on the microphone, so each can go down the same signal chain. MONITOR WORLD Having known both Dugan and Snyder for many years, Monitor Engineer, Chad Byrd received


the call for this project back in April. “I was intrigued by the level of production and gear that was involved in this project,” he began. “I saw this as a new challenge. I’ve worked in all sorts of genres, but never anything like this. Although he’s very much an electronic artist, there are so many moving parts to his show.” Robinson’s main on-stage audio feed came via IEMs with some side fill for an extra bit of support, although Byrd explained that this was often dependent on available space at the show. “Porter is fairly simple when it comes to his in-ear mix – he mainly wants to hear a FOH mix with a few guides on top and his unaffected vocals,” he stated. “His vocal performance is quite dynamic, going from some quiet moments to times when he’s absolutely railing the microphone, so a lot of my job is controlling the dynamics and getting the vocals just right.” The IEMs in question were Jerry Harvey Audio Roxannes. “The whole crew is on them now,” Byrd said, praising the manufacturer. “I’ve been a big fan of JH for a long time and Roxannes has been my go-to for years.” For wireless transition, Shure PSM 1000s were

Reliability in all weathers


deployed, going through his DiGiCo SD12 audio console. “As Rayce was using an SD12 and we knew Simon would be on an SSL, it seemed foolish to bring in another model of desk. But the final thing that sold me on the SD12 was its Dante capabilities,” he explained. With both Stipanovich and Byrd on the same console and thanks to the Dante network, the team had a further level of redundancy as the playback engineer could be quickly integrated into Byrd’s desk in the event of a mass system error. “It’s astounding how much Rayce knows about Dante networking,” Byrd enthused. “Simon and I had a grasp on Dante, but Rayce knows all the ins and outs of the system and has been teaching us all the way.” He explained how it had been a steep learning curve for everyone on the tour and joked about how in rehearsals, his Monitor Tech, Hank Fury, was often sitting behind him doing an online Dante course, just to ensure


that he was tour ready when the audio team took this networked system out on the road. VISUAL DESIGN Starting out with Robinson back in 2012, Lighting Designer, Benjamin Coker has been with the artist throughout his rise in popularity. “We’d been working on designs and ideas way before the shutdown,” he said, explaining how everything in terms of design had changed drastically over the past year. “Over the pandemic, we realised that people wanted to get out and have fun, so we wanted his first shows back to be a bit more energetic and in your face. We wanted to create more of a party environment while still maintaining intimate moments to show off his musicality.” The LD went on to explain what it was like working with the artist. “Truthfully, I don’t have much desire to work with any other artist. Porter is so good; he cares so much about the direction of the

show and wants to learn about every stage of the process. There are few artists who will jump on a two-hour call and discuss lighting concepts and theory,” he said. Another key member of the visual team is Content Creator and Video Director, Ryan ‘Ghostdad’ Sciaino. Coker explained how many of his lighting looks grew from the original content idea but that the video department was incredibly receptive to the work of lighting. “Both departments are really receptive to ideas,” he explained. “When they are creating video content, Sciaino and the team are incredibly cognitive of lighting and leave certain segments for us to have full control of the visual display.” With this show, Coker was able to showcase what some of the moving fixtures situated on in the rig were capable of. “In the build-up to the show, I was excited to get my hands on the new Martin by Harman MAC Aura Performance

and MAC Aura PXL,” he stated, enthusiastically. Coker cited the aforementioned fixtures as the main workhorses of the rig and, having been a fan of the Aura for a long time, was excited to now have the PXL as it really increased the capabilities of the entire rig. “Both the Performance and the PXLgive us a lot of creative options. Using the Martin P3 processing system really expands the possibilities to incorporate video content, which is pretty slick,” he noted. The LD also deployed TMB Solaris Flare Q+ LR, Robe MegaPointes and GLP JDC1s. For followspots, the visual team put its faith in zactrack – a necessity tool used to keep pace with the energetic frontman. “Porter has two ‘actors’ or ‘trackers’ on him, front and back, and about the size of a Zippo lighter,” he explained. “We then have eight anchors on the stage, which are able to plot his X,Y,Z coordinates. As

far as a followspot system that doesn’t need operators, it’s just incredible.” Coker programmed the entire show on an MA Lighting grandMA3 in MA2 mode, which was then taken out on the road by Lighting Director, Jose Rodriguez. “He is fantastic,” enthused Coker. “It’s not easy to turn in a new show for an artist that I have worked with for years, but having Jose on our team gives me the comfort of knowing that the show will always be in the best hands possible.” LOOK AT THE SKY With a run of successful shows under Porter Robinson’s belt, the entire team seemed enthusiastic about the future. “We feel this show is going to grow into arenas globally,” Dugan said, reflecting his latest live expedition. The importance of this show was not lost on him – or the rest of the production, for that

matter. “Doing live shows is my passion,” he summarised, speaking on behalf of the crew. “When COVID-19 hit, I didn’t know what to expect and enjoyed the momentary break, which lasted too long.” Dugan said that when he got the news that the dates were going, it felt as if it was his “first tour” all over again. “Everything felt new and exciting, and I was stoked to be back,” he concluded. “Each day I work in live events is the best day ever. I’m thankful I get to call this my job and work with some of the smartest, nicest people around the globe.”



THE 2021 FESTIVAL SEASON; A PRO AUDIO ROUNDTABLE Following a short albeit busy festival season, TPi gathers members of the pro audio industry with representatives from SSE Audio, Wigwam [both part of the Solotech UK Group], DiGiCo and Shure to look back at summer 2021 and the lessons learned on the road to recovery.

Words: Stew Hume

Back in early 2021, it seemed unlikely we’d see any outdoor events at all, either in the UK, Europe, or the US. Indeed, many festivals – the UK in particular – began to drop off the calendar due to the ever-moving goalposts of COVID-19 lockdowns. However, with the various test events, from Sefton Park [TPi #262] to Download Pilot [TPi #263], the reality of a 2021 season suddenly became plausible. What followed was an incredibly busy and frantic few months as crew and organisers alike attempted to replicate 2019’s level of productivity in a year when suppliers were


struggling to amass crew and gear. Having come out the other side – slightly sleep deprived but otherwise unscathed – we spoke to some of those who were on the front line. Starting our conversation was Wigwam Hire Manager, Tom Bush and SSE Audio Senior Hire Manager, Dan Bennett. Representing two companies under the Solotech umbrella, they provided a vivid account of the 2021 festival season. Bush began describing the challenges of getting the right kit as the demand went from nought to 60 almost overnight. “We worked on the Download Pilot, one of the first events to return, and there was real camaraderie amongst everyone involved,” reminisced Bennett. “However, by the end of the summer, everyone throughout the supply chain was struggling to meet expectations and there wasn’t one person who wasn’t up against it.” Although both Solotech representatives quick to comment on how pleased they were for the business, they were keen to outline why the last few months were so difficult. “Crew!” stated Bennett plainly, citing the biggest issue he’s faced during this time. “We were still crewing the August bank holiday festivals a week before the show,” he pointed out. COVID-19 only added to the difficulties. “We had one of the crew prior to a show contracted COVID,” Bennett recalled. “Crewing is so specific, it’s not just a case of dropping in a replacement. If you lose one person, you need to re-organise the whole team to ensure the best people are working in the right position.” Despite the issues and more than a few sleepless nights, Bennett and Bush pointed out some silver linings to the summer –

specifically some of the fresh young talent they discovered. “We had to kick over a few stones to find the right people – especially when it came to the August bank holiday – and we discovered some real gems,” enthused Bennett. “There have been two new recruits who we’ve now brought into the Redditch office off the back of the hard work they put in during the summer festival season.” Despite picking up a few new upstarts, both Bennett and Bush see this as merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the skills gap emerging in the industry. “You have those at the beginning of their career that have already committed to a university course, and you have some of the older people who might not be able to get another job, but then those in the middle, with transferable skills, have been able to pick up new jobs in this time,” Bennett explained. He stressed the need for a fast track of training and that the “old-school traditions of bringing someone just to make the tea then one day finally get a shot at a gig will not be fast enough to fill the gap.” At the other end of the supply chain and sitting in on the call was DiGiCo General Manager, Austin Freshwater and Shure Artist and Entertainment Relations, Jack Drury. “We anticipated that the festival suppliers were going to be under a lot of pressure,” Freshwater began. “We had expected everyone to be a little more forgiving, whereas what we found was that it quickly turned into a mentality of I need it tomorrow.” He went on to outlined one of the biggest issues that he came across during this time was clients’ reluctance to commit. “We tried the best we could to get

ahead of the curve, but while we had the festival season in the UK drumming up, we were also seeing increased demand in America and Russia. All the while with the increased demand, we were also faced with all the issues with the supply chain that has been affecting all manufacturers,” he pointed out. “The only thing we could do as manufacturers was to put as much stuff in the warehouse as possible,” interjected Drury, explaining the impossible situation the Shure team found themselves in. “Lot of our stock depleted very quickly with the return of festivals and the theatre market. We also began to see a change with production for artists coming directly to us when we usually deal with suppliers such as Solotech directly.” Drury explained that one of the upsides to this busy period was that he didn’t think Shure had ever been this close to its end users. “We’ve always done a lot with big suppliers, but throughout the pandemic, we made a big drive on training and to be as present as possible, so that when events returned, we’d be able to aid end users in any issues they were facing

and deal with problems quickly,” he said. “This festival season showcased the resilience of the industry,” added Freshwater. “I don’t know if anyone could have predicted quite how hard this season was going to be but, despite everything, we pulled it off!” TPi then asked the inevitable question of what touring was going to look like for the latter part of the year and if any lessons had been taken from the festival runs. “In many ways, we are in a similar boat as we were in festival season in that until we get confirmation, it’s a bit of a gamble and one that’s sadly being felt most by the crew,” explained Bush. “It’s still a risk for someone to commit to a tour when the reality is, you’re on a bus, a new venue each day, with COVID-19 still being a part of the reality. Not to mention, productions must have a plan to replace people if someone gets ill. That said, although touring is not where we would want it to be, we have a bit more structure in place now.” Bennett was also happy with the roster of clients Solotech had on its books already. “I think we’ve got the lion’s

WELCOME BACK We’ve been waiting for you!

share of work out there, which is a positive message.” He also explained that due to the pragmatism of the Solotech group, the various arms of the business have seen an increase in dry hire demand. “A great deal of small and medium-sized companies are coming to us to hire speakers, desks and cabling as our mentality has been if it’s on the shelf, we might as well make sure it’s being used,” Bennett acknowledged. Festival season also saw Wigwam and SSE Audio both really step up their hygiene and sterilisation practices. “Microphones should have always been cleaner than they were,” highlights Bennett. “One thing that is almost standard now is UVC cleaners and sprays. Throughout festival season, we’ve adopted a great cleaning protocol to keep artists and crew safe – something that Solotech footed the bill for but will certainly be rolled out on a range of tours and live event productions in the future.”

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LARMAC LIVE The dance spectacular caps off a triumphant summer of UK festivals with a line-up of DJs and next-level production.

Photo: Anthony Black

us was the wider operation,” said Greenway. “What we do is pretty well-rehearsed now, but the variables that the event teams were having to face were much more numerous. Huge COVID-19 protocols affected how staff interacted and moved on-site, while nationwide

After two years away from the hallowed fields of Daresbury, Cheshire, cinch presents Creamfields returned with a stellar line up of artists including Tiësto, Eric Prydz, Chemical Brothers, Carl Cox and Basement Jaxx. LarMac LIVE produced Creamfields’ return alongside its familiar technical partners. “It’s like we’ve never been away,” began LarMac LIVE Director, Ian ‘Lar’ Greenway. “We’ve run countless scenarios and drafted numerous budget versions over the past two years, so when the time to get our first acts on stage and deliver, it was a special moment.” LarMac LIVE’s priority for the latest iteration of Creamfields was to get the festival set up in a safe and COVID-19 secure environment. “We knew there were going to be challenges, but I felt quite strongly that as long as we got the core of what we do right, we should be able to deflect anything that comes our way successfully,” said Greenway. “Part of our ‘battening-down-the-hatches’ approach


was to keep the show as familiar as possible. I wanted to rely on our supply chain like we always have done and allow our usual vendors to start their recovery too.” Although the stable of suppliers for the festival’s latest outing was almost identical as in 2019, what each company did and provided on site was wholly dependent on the availability of crew and technical equipment. “We are really different from most other UK festivals, in that the production is really essential to the overall shows we deliver,” said Greenway. “We always want to make every show more impactful than the last and this year was no exception. In fact, we didn’t want to be a product of the pandemic. We wanted to come out with a bang, and we achieved that.” Given that Creamfields took place relatively late in this year’s truncated festival season – over the UK’s August Bank Holiday – all of the obligatory COVID-19-related processes were already firmly in place. “The main challenge for

toilet shortages and security supply issues caused their own problems,” he said. “Thankfully, there’s always a big team attitude at Creamfields and that really helped everyone get through some quite monumental hurdles together,” Greenway furthered. As well as overcoming these challenges, this year’s Creamfields was able to achieve what would have been unthinkable only a few months earlier; to exceed the expectations of its loyal fans yet again. “You only had to spend an hour on site to see how happy everyone was to be back at it,” said Greenway, praising his team. “It was a reminder of what can be achieved with a positive attitude and a great team.” He continued: “The past 18 months have really been a reset for us all, which of course has its negatives but there’s some positives in there too. I think everyone has realised that and, as a result, they’ve enjoyed coming back to work that little bit more.” While 2022 is set to see Creamfields back once again, this time it will be preceded by an early summer ‘sibling’ event at Chelmsford’s Hylands Park in Essex. “It’s early days, but it sounds like it will be on par with what we’ve done in Daresbury over the past few years,” Greenway summarised. “Huge productions, brand new venue concepts, and a show that will make the audience want to go to Creamfields twice a year. We are really excited, so kudos to Cream for coming back stronger!”


BLACKMAGIC DESIGN CSD Productions utilises Blackmagic Design solution to deliver AV for major UK dance festival.

Photos: Blackmagic Design

CSD Productions delivered AV requirements across all stages at this year’s Creamfields. “It was a hectic three weeks to pull it all together; normally there are six months of planning for this event”, commented CSD Productions’ Andrew McQuillan. “We needed experienced crew who’d previously worked on the event, directors and the like, and it helped that some found out we were doing it and made themselves available.” What also helped was agreeing on the delivery spec, allowing CSD productions to design an intuitive, flexible and reliable solution to meet the festival’s AV requirements. Sony HDC-4300 cameras worked with an otherwise all Blackmagic Design setup for the visual aspects of the shows. CSD’s OB truck on-site utilised ATEM 2 M/E Production


Studio 4K switchers, while SmartScope Duo 4K screens were used to provide four-ways for the vision engineers sitewide. The main stage recorders were HyperDeck Studio 12Gs, with HyperDeck Studio HD Pro for the PGM feed and HyperDeck Studio HD Mini recording to SD card for the ISO feeds from the other stages. “We like the fact that Blackmagic workflow is simple to use and its network adaptability,” added McQuillan. “You can intuitively work out how certain aspects will work together once you understand the general architecture,” he said. This adaptability also helped CSD deal with unexpected requests. When asked on the Friday of the event for an additional camera on the main stage the next day, the team was confident they could make it work.







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“We deliberately gave ourselves a few days extra to set up so we could do more build on site than we normally do, which gave us the time to overcome any obstacles and plan out the kit requirement against the schedule,” McQuillan stated, For example, on Friday night, the second stage was not operating, but there was a comeback show from Scooter which the team needed to film on a smaller stage. “Our entire PPU system had to be moved and rebuilt on a smaller stage, then moved back overnight to stage two,” McQuillan reported. “Because all our flyaway kits are in flight cases and the Blackmagic equipment is so straightforward, one person was able to move it all in around an hour,” While this year’s event wasn’t live streamed, the demand for recording complete sets has never been higher, as McQuillan explained. “Previously, events would be live streamed, but many events wouldn’t announce a live stream until they sold out. While the event sold out easily, the need had shifted from ‘we must live stream’ to ‘we need to record every artist’.” He added: “People are concerned about the potential for another wave of the pandemic stopping events next year, so there is more emphasis on doing full records of sets, including ISO records. Creamfields, for example, wanted to be able to do ‘Creamfields at Home’ with this year’s artists, providing an element of exclusivity if they can’t run the festival next year.” At this time, live event producers have to be a lot more flexible when putting production packages together, as McQuillan highlights: “A lot of the requirements that the clients have, don’t become apparent until we’re on site and they go ‘actually, we want this’,” he said. The biggest challenge for event organisers, according to McQuillan, is that the artists are also more conscious of video content now and how important it is. “They want clips taken off instantly and given to them that day. With Scooter, we supplied all the SSDs that night to make them available for a documentary about his comeback,” he explained. This creates a whole new set of pressure in terms of processing data and ensuring recordings meet the requirements and specifications of multiple parties. “We had a media cabin where we were downloading all the SSDs, and the Blackmagic MultiDock 10G was perfect for taking four SSDs in at once. It delivered exactly what we needed,” enthused McQuillan. “We’ve spent three weeks just processing the data from Creamfields and we still have a team on it now. Organisers and artists have become more aware that performance recordings are going to be a lot more critical.” According to McQuillan, dance music events, in particular, are challenging. “There are no natural breaks between sets, there are no changeovers, it’s a non-stop 12 hour day,” he pointed out. “This year’s event was a learning curve for everyone involved. We now have a greater understanding of what’s required to deliver an AV package on this scale.” He concluded: “Having stepped in at the eleventh hour as the single AV provider, I am delighted that we were able to ensure Creamfields delivered the event it wanted and what the entire audience deserved.”




SHOWFORCE Showforce returns to Daresbury Estate to deliver crewing support for LarMac LIVE.

Photo: Showforce

A regular fixture in the company’s calendar, Showforce has worked on Creamfields since 2014 – providing stage hands, backline crew, plant operators, crew chiefs and a site boss. This year, the team were responsible for the load-in of equipment for the festival’s eleven stages, supporting the technical production suppliers PRG, Colour Sound Experiment, Prism, Adlib, The Events Company, Christie and Britannia Row Productions. With boots on the ground from Saturday 21 August, the team began with 35 members of Showforce crew over the weekend and rose to 100 a day during the show build. Throughout the build days rigging equipment was unloaded and fixed rigging points for the truss motors were installed on the festival’s larger stages, preparing for the installation of lighting and video rigs. DJ risers were unloaded and distributed around the site and telehandler drivers were on hand to move equipment and assist with


front of house installations. On show days, Showforce deployed a dedicated team of crew for every stage, who redistributed and built risers for the various artists and a separate response crew that dealt with ad-hoc jobs around the site, as and when required. All the stages were extremely busy, and the calibre of the headliners meant that the changeover between acts needed to be executed to perfection on show days. The de-rig for Creamfields is always a mammoth task and Showforce delivered 40 crew overnight on Sunday 29 August with another 111 onsite on the following Monday. “It was great for the team to return to Creamfields, it’s always been a firm favourite with both the crew and operations team,” Showforce Operations Director, Chris Martelly commented on the feat. “We all know the challenges that event suppliers are facing right now and that the demand for high-calibre event crew is huge,”

he continued. “The fact that we have been able to support LarMac LIVE and its suppliers with experienced crew and the back-office support and that is required to ensure the smooth running of the job made a real difference to everyone onsite and demonstrates how valuable retaining our core team and deploying their skills and experience has been, not only to us but also our clients.” Previous experience, Martelly said, had taught Showforce that having an operations manager and crew managers in situ makes a huge difference with the numbers involved. “There’s a big recruitment strategy in place in the lead up to the event and then during the course of the week requirements are always subject to change, given the large numbers of crew involved,” he said, summing up the experience. “It is also important that the crew know that there is someone there looking out for their welfare and keeping morale high.”

POWER LOGISTICS Power Logistics delivers a sustainable power solution for Creamfields 2021.

Photo: Power Logistics

Following a COVID-19 induced hiatus from music festivals, Power Logistics returned to the Creamfields site to deliver a sustainable project management and consultancy service, providing all site and show power, along with site lighting. An experienced team of electricians and crew, headed up by senior Project Managers, Alex Cameron and Luke Evans were onsite throughout to ensure a smooth install and uninterrupted power supply during show days.   With 11 stages in total, a busy production area, crew catering, various campsites and several sponsor activations, along with numerous bars and concessions, over 100 generators ranging from 20 kVa to 550 kVa were required throughout the site. In addition, almost 25km of LED festoon lighting and more than 100 tower lights were in situ, providing the required site lighting.  Sustainability was high on Festival Republic and APL’s agenda, the entire site was powered by HVO fuel, including tower lights and plant equipment. To this end, all generator sets were synchronised for optimal energy usage. In an innovative move, over 10 variable speed generators were deployed, these cleverly designed sets will run only at the speed required and are great for energy saving in areas where the power requirements are low.   Further sustainable initiatives included the use of 300kw battery packs for crew catering and camping, bunker bins and tour buses. Power Logistics’ bespoke power monitoring system was deployed throughout, collecting data about energy usage.   “While this was our first time delivering site and show power for Creamfields, we have over 20 years’ experience in providing power solutions to festivals of this scale. It was great to be involved and deploy some of our sustainable initiatives and ensure a reduction in the event’s carbon footprint,” Cameron said. “Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, organisers and production teams are committed to sustainability and we’re fortunate that over the past 18 months the projects that we’ve diversified to have allowed us to continue innovating and expanding our solutions.”



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FIERTÉ MONTRÉAL LD and DoP, Gil Perron reflects Montréal pride with CHAUVET Professional lighting fixtures from LSM Ambiocréateurs.

Photos: CHAUVET Professional

Working closely with Lighting Operator, Jerome Robitaille and TD, Eden Ashby, Lighting Designer and Director of Photography, Gil Perron pushed his LSM Ambiocréateurs supplied lighting rig in myriad directions for five different shows videoed over a five-day period in support of a wide range of performances by leading artists from Montreal’s LGBTQ+ community. Conjuring fiery red images worthy of Dante’s inferno one segment, his design moved to pure white angelic looks on another, followed by ice blue and cubist representations for several other performances. Through it all, Perron drew on the versatile performance features of 34 CHAUVET Professional Maverick MK3 Profile fixtures positioned on his fly system. “It’s no big secret that my go-to light for TV is the Maverick 3 Profile,” he said. “It has the brightness, colour schemes, gobo package, and, when dialled in,


a perfectly nice 4300k with bang on render.” To ensure that his looks remained distinctive throughout the entire festival and reflected the personalities of all performers, Perron generally limited the number of Maverick MK3 Profiles used for each act to no more than four units. Once the profiles were focused and dialled in, the rest of the rig, including its 24 Rogue R2 Beam fixtures and 18 COLORado Solo Battens was “all about effect,” he remarked. “In order to minimise flip, only the ground packages and video wall designs were modified from show to show. We used the beams to create unique looks with different side angles, and of course changing up colours evoked a range of moods. Gobos from the Mavericks played a big role in adding variety and texture to the stage. I am a big fan of using gobos.” Many of the shows during Montreal Pride Festival were built on boldness and power. This required a level of intensity in the supportive

lighting design. Perron achieved this with the help of his high output fixtures and the adroit operation of the shows’ boards. “For this project, the perfect candidate for board op was Jerome Robitaille,” said Perron. “His massive experience running EDM rigs was a huge asset considering that most performances were very high energy and required a lot of punch,” he explained. He dubbed Robitaille as “by far the most intuitive board operator” he has ever encountered and praised his ability to deliver “custom and stunning looks with minimal time”. He furthered: “I was extremely fortunate to be surrounded by talented and dedicated people on this including, not just Jerome, but also festival organiser, Jean-Francois and LSM account executives, Archie Cifelli and Serge Lachance, for their support.”


EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL Stagecast and Panasonic connect the Scottish festival with the wider world.

Photos: Panasonic

Stagecast and Panasonic helped Edinburgh International Festival reach a wider audience than ever before by streaming six classical concerts. As specialists in live streaming and filming of both classical music and opera, Stagecast turned to Panasonic PTZ camera and broadcast solutions and drew upon its extensive experience to bring remote audiences closer to the action. By using Panasonic broadcast solutions at one of three specially constructed outdoor pavilions, Stagecast was able to broadcast the concerts to viewers around the world, via the festival website and the Classic FM digital platforms. The spectacular temporary pavilions provided a COVID-safe alternative to the festival’s traditional concert halls. However, the venues also posed the new challenge of filming in a semi-outdoor environment, with daylight and weather to content with. Stagecast used a rig system to film the concerts built around eight Panasonic AW-UE150 PTZ cameras, one of which was mounted on a Panapod. The team also used three Panasonic AK-UC4000 Studio System cameras – one on a crane and the other two at the back of the venue with super-telephoto lenses. Using the UC4000 cameras meant


that the images could be accurately picturematched with the UE150 cameras using scene files provided by Panasonic. Scene files are special files that alter the image output from a camera to ensure that each camera can be picture-matched despite having different sensor sizes. The backstage production team consisted of the director, script supervisor, vision engineer and two camera operators, working four cameras each. One of these operators also controlled the upward and downward movement of the Panapod, for shots behind the orchestra. The vision engineer’s role was to maintain the colour shading of each of the UC4000s on the Panasonic AK-HRP1000 remote operation panel. “Control of the PTZ cameras was handled over IP, with video signal routing over SDI,” Stagecast Co-Founder and CEO, Matt Parkin said, picking up the story. “This allows us to get full broadcast-quality video feeds back to the control room. We use a lot of automation to deliver complex, fully scripted shows with a relatively small team, including our own monitor switching and tally solutions built with Bitfocus Companion and Elgato Streamdeck controllers. We also use custom software for recalling

preset camera shots on the AW-UE150s from a playlist,” he explained, highlighting the fact that filming orchestras has a range of specific requirements. Specifically, the cameras used must be silent and compact so as to disappear on stage. Two points that Parkin believed they succeeded having not received one complaint from any of the musicians. He said: “With social distancing measures, we have needed to keep the physical presence on stage to a minimum, so the UE150s really helped. We are also able to put PTZ cameras in positions where you wouldn’t be able to place an operator. This greatly helps in full-capacity venues, as you don’t have to take out as many seats to accommodate camera positions.” Having worked with PTZ cameras for over 10 years, Parkin considers the AW-UE150 to be a game-changer for performance filming due to the excellent picture quality, 4K/HDR capabilities and improved smoothness that the cameras offer. “Without Panasonic PTZ technology, we would not have been able to deliver the quality and range of concert coverage that we’ve been able to do this past year,” Parkin said in conclusion. Edinburgh International Festival Head of Music, Andrew Moore, concurs, he added that the festival had captured much more content on-demand this year than any other year. “We’ve managed to integrate video capture in a really discrete and subtle way, capturing wonderful film without the audience in the venue even realising until they see it at home.”




LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL FESTIVAL Meyer Sound and Solotech partner to amplify the popular music and art festival.

Photos: Meyer Sound

The Life is Beautiful Music & Art Festival returned to Las Vegas from 17 to 19 September, drawing a record 170,000 attendees with a three-day lineup of performances by Billie Eilish, Megan Thee Stallion, A$AP Rocky, Green Day, and more than 100 additional acts. Between shows, festival goers took in comedy events, culinary demonstrations, and multidisciplinary creative installations by local, national, and international artists. The sound solutions were supplied by Solotech in partnership with Meyer Sound, which provided PA systems for the festival’s


three main stages. The main Downtown Stage and Bacardí Stage were anchored by Meyer Sound LEO and LYON linear line array loudspeakers, augmented by 900-LFC and 1100-LFC low-frequency control elements, and the Huntridge Stage featured a mix of medium and wide-pattern LYON loudspeakers and 900LFC low-frequency control elements. For production teams, designing systems with fixed placement inside the tight confines of an urban environment meant finding creative ways to tackle sound management and noise mitigation. Compounding the challenge of keeping sound – particularly low end – within

festival grounds and out of residential areas, the team could not control delay tower placement. To overcome these constraints, the team turned to system modelling, with help from Meyer Sound MAPP 3D system design and prediction software. “Weather conditions – not just wind, but atmospheric issues like humidity – play a large part in how the system sound carries,” said Solotech U.S. Director of Operations, Mike Smeaton. “In MAPP 3D, you can look at the predictions that you want to make, then you can put it into your production, which is a real help.” To manage low-end patterns, Smeaton said Solotech and Meyer

Sound worked together to design both gradient and end-fire subwoofer arrays. “There was a combination of gradient flown subs on the main stage, plus we’ve done gradient stacks as well with 1100-LFCs,” he explained. “Outside of that, we have VLFC very low frequency control elements in two blocks on each side. We flew some subs in gradient, six VLFCs behind each array,” he added. ”I think that really helped with the coverage and helped control the pattern. The VLFC is very musical; they are really great subwoofers.” For both Solotech and Another Planet Entertainment, working with a trusted sound partner elevates every aspect of production. “Solotech has been doing Life is Beautiful for many years now in conjunction with Meyer Sound,” said Smeaton, underlining collaboration as key to sonic success. “This collaboration means we have continuity, we have lots of factory resources. It helps that we know the product,” he explained. “We know that each product is doing what we ask it to do, and we’re not competing manufacturer to manufacturer.” y

Allen Scott, Festival Co-Producer and President, Concerts and Festivals for Another Planet Entertainment, seems to speak for most of the sector and gig goers when he shares his enthusiasm and gratitude for being able to bring people together for live events once again following the lockdown of live events. “There’s nothing that can replicate the experience of being at a festival or a concert,” he stated. “It gets me a little misty-eyed just to think about putting an event of this size after what we’ve been through.” Life is Beautiful returns to Downtown Las Vegas from 16 to 18 September 2022. “It has been 18 months or longer since we put on an event like this and people are a little rusty; throw in all the preparation that needs to go in for COVID-19 and it’s been pretty monumental this year, but everyone’s been doing it with a grin and excitement,” Scott said, summing up his experience and that of many of his crew members back on site. “They are thrilled to be back doing what they love.”



LUKE EDWARDS ON HIS ROAD TO RECOVERY Production Designer and Collaborative Creations Marketing Manager, Luke Edwards shares his path to recovery following life-changing brain surgery.

Words: Jacob Waite

When crisis strikes on tour, experienced production designers like Luke Edwards can typically troubleshoot most problems and come up with a swift solution. On 23 October 2020, however, things were different. After suffering a seizure and being subjected to various CT scans, EEG and MRI tests, he eventually found his life left in the capable hands of a neurosurgeon. “I will never forget the words of the consultant: ‘You better call your partner here, as it is not good news, I’m afraid.’” He and his wife, Megan, who was not in the room due to COVID-19 protocols, were informed that Edwards had a tumour “the size of two tennis balls” in his brain. Some 12 months later, having undergone major, life-changing surgery to give himself the best chance of recovery, Edwards cut a figure of optimism as he mingled with some familiar industry faces at London’s PLASA Show. “Looking back at the initial scans, I still can’t believe the neurosurgeons were able to remove a tumour of that size from my brain without compromising who I am, how I move or speak,” he said, praising the surgeons responsible for successfully removing most of the tumour. “While I will never be ‘cured’, the odds that my tumours will turn cancerous have decreased significantly,” he explained. Prior to the surgery, Edwards was informed there was a slight chance he would permanently lose the ability to speak and be temporarily or permanently paralysed on the right side of his body. With lots of major risks to contend with, pragmatic as ever, Edwards refused to sit on his hands. “I can’t control the fact that I have a brain tumour – the only thing I can do is go through this process as positively as possible,” he said, with the confidence of a man who cannot be beaten. Throughout the process Edwards, who has toured the world over, making meaningful connections along the way, was inundated with well wishes on social media. “You often forget or take for granted the impact you have on people and the world around you. It isn’t until


Want to B properly protected? something goes horribly wrong that you realise how many people care about you,” he said, having shared his journey on social media while raising awareness and funds for The Brain Tumour Charity along the way. “Although I have been dealt a bad hand, I have also been handed an opportunity to raise awareness and ensure other people don’t go through it alone.” Prior to COVID-19, Edwards spent 200 days on the road, racking up 95 flights. “If lockdown has taught me anything, it’s that I like sleeping in my own bed every night and being at home with my wife,” he chortled. Thankfully, his new role as Marketing Manager at Collaborative Creations (CC) allows him to do just that. “One of the reasons CC wanted to employ me was my experience on the road, and they were looking for someone with sector-specific experience in marketing. They’ve been really supportive and helpful throughout this entire rehabilitation process, regularly checking in on me to see how they can improve the working dynamic,” he said, praising his new employers. In September, Edwards returned to the road to fulfil his duties as Lighting Designer for Jacob Collier, for a string of shows, a year after advancing for the original tour in Siyan’s warehouse and 12-hour brain surgery. “It was great to be around people again. It felt as if I had come full circle. I was in Siyan’s warehouse preparing the kit to go on the road when I received the call that the tour was cancelled due to COVID-19,” he furthered. “The touring camp was great and really supportive. My decision was based on a mixture of testing my body and pushing my limits post-surgery – I certainly do not miss jet lag!” he laughed, reflecting on the experience. Having gone through the ringer, Edwards was unapologetic about his desires for the future. “I was this close to losing everything. This is something that I am going to have to deal with for the rest of my life, so I’m doing what’s good for me now, which is one of the main takeaways for me.” His advice for others is to “appreciate the little things in life and things that make you happy”, he said, adding that finding pockets of time to do what you are passionate about is the key to his rehabilitation process. “Realising that I have an incredible wife at home and going for a walk on a Saturday afternoon is one of the things I feel grateful for, but it was something I took for granted. My worklife balance before this year was horrible; I was away for twothirds of the year,” he said, grappling with his new ‘work-life balance’. “Lockdown taught me to spend more time at home. In the past, I’d have said yes to a lot of things to make money but that’s not the most important thing in life. You can survive by saying ‘no’ to a tour,” he explained. Now taking it one day at a time, Edwards is focusing on spending time with friends, family, and colleagues, and recovering from the most challenging year of his life. “I’m happy and grateful every morning I wake up to be alive.” The Brain Tumour Charity depends on voluntary donations to fund research, to keep striving for faster diagnosis times and to offer support for people affected by brain tumours.

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VIVA LA VISA Having toured the globe with The Human League, ABC, Kim Wilde, New Order and as singer in The Mekons, Viva La Visa Founder, Andy Corrigan highlights the current state of play for touring visas.

Words: Andy Corrigan Photo: Viva La Visa

Viva La Visa (VLV) is, as the name suggests, a visa specialist company, which serves the entertainment industry, in particular live music, theatre, fashion, film production and exhibition worlds, among many others. “We have been operating for 12 years with 10 members of staff tasked with handling visas and country relation work,” VLV Founder, Andy Corrigan said, speaking from his Stowmarket HQ. Having toured the world as a production and tour manager with The Human League, ABC, Kim Wilde, New Order, Gang of Four, Steel Pulse, Aswad, and PiL, among others, as well as a singer with The Mekons and dealing with advances and visa applications, Corrigan had found a gap in the market for VLV. “A large percentage of our work prior to the COVID-19 pandemic was facilitating the flights for performing artists, primarily from the UK to the States and elsewhere in the world,” he recalled. “Before March 2020, we were working on several US tours for bands and Broadway shows, as well as many world tours which were sadly postponed,” he continued. “We therefore saw hundreds of US visa applications stalled, most of which were subsequently picked up again after restrictions eased.” Given the impact of the pandemic, VLV had to put members of staff on furlough, meaning it kept staff employed right the way through lockdown, as well as being supported by the UK government’s Culture Recovery Fund (CRF). “Despite there being no live events, certain


clients were still travelling, albeit on a smaller scale. The fashion and film sectors picked up for us despite the slowdown of live music and theatre clientele,” he explained. “Now, because of Brexit and the subsequent pandemic, we have a much broader array of clients from a range of sectors. Despite a tough year, the business has grown busier each month, postlockdown, and we hope the live events sector will return to full strength in 2022.” As for Brexit, despite the EU being one entity, every country has its own regulations regarding what is required to go and work in that country. It is the job of firms like VLV to trawl through 27 sets of complex immigration laws to find the regulations that apply to touring musicians and while many EU countries have exemptions for touring artists, they don’t cover every situation. “It gets complicated when clients are travelling for a unique set of circumstances, such as exhibitions or a theatre tour, which requires a longer stay than the current 90 to 180 days arbitrary restrictions of how much time you can stay in the EU without a long-stay visa,” Corrigan said, acknowledging that while each case is different, “it is our job to oversee these shifting goalposts.” Apart from the headache of carnet for kit, Corrigan said, it can be straightforward in most European member states. However, Spain requires a visa for any work activity. “We have dedicated staff doing research, speaking to various consulates to distil what is required because the problem is often that government’s don’t understand what the requirements are and the laws are written in such a language that it is not necessarily easy to interpret and by the consulates’ own admission, most of them do not understand themselves,” Corrigan explained. “It is a question of digging around and coming to conclusions about what is required.” While VLV does not profess to be experts in every legislation law, its drive to consult with people in each country means the firm is gradually developing a level of understanding as to what is required in each territory. “The best way to get around the impositions created

by Brexit is to amass our knowledge and experience of helping people get to where they need to go,” he said. However, the caveat is the understanding that these things take time and often in the world of music touring, there isn’t the lead time required. “It’s a factor that people are having to put into their touring schedules and budgets, which didn’t exist prior to Brexit or the pandemic,” Corrigan responded. One of the things current touring acts are doing to circumvent the shifting goalposts is scaling back the level of their production and/or number of travelling crew in Europe. “We have seen bands tour Europe solo or with few engineers if any to save time and resources,” Corrigan reported. “My advice to those advancing for global or transatlantic tours in the coming months is to allow yourself more time and budget it. We’ve seen touring camps put visas at the top of their list of priorities going forward, when they used to be right at the bottom.” While the past 18 months have been difficult with yet more hoops to jump through, following the recent news that the US has lifted travel restrictions from the UK and Europe, Corrigan believes USCIS, the US government agency that deals with work permissions, are going to be “overloaded with requests”, which will slow down the travel process. “There is a possibility of increased fees given the lack of financial support from the US government,” he remarked. Despite this, VLV is already advancing tours for 2022 and beyond. “We recently sat in at the planning stages of a three-year tour. A big tour can involve facilitating up to 100 or more members of crew that a production has to travel with,” he commented. In certain circumstances, challenges involve expiring passports or criminal convictions, which means members of the crew cannot travel to places such as Japan. “My lasting suggestion for touring camps is to put visas at the top of your Christmas shopping list this year.”


BLOSSOMS REOPEN MANCHESTER’S AO ARENA Blossoms and SK2 Crew descend on Manchester’s biggest stage after 553 days without live music at AO Arena. Tour Manager, Dan Woolfie and AO Arena General Manager, James Allen reflect on a watershed moment for the sector...

Words: Jacob Waite Photos: Lewis Evans and Samantha Guess

Some 553 days since AO Arena’s last live music performance [James Arthur’s YOU Tour, #TPi 250], Stockport’s favourite sons, Blossoms took to Manchester’s biggest stage on 18 September, for the band’s first headline arena show in front of 15,000 live musicdeprived Mancunians, backed by their touring team, dubbed provincially as SK2 Crew. Speaking after the trucks rolled back to their warehouses following a successful run of postlockdown gigs, Tour Manager, Dan Woolfie reflected on the journey. “We were midway through our UK tour when the lockdown hit, so we had a lot of dates that needed to be

rescheduled,” he began. “We have since made a couple of production changes, which have been down to practicality and availability of crew and technical suppliers.” The supplier roster comprised Adlib for audio, Mike Weaver Communications, dbnAudile for lighting, and designers, Mangata Collective. Adlib’s video department supplied additional LED panels and infrastructure for IMAG screens at AO Arena, while STS supplied staging infrastructure. “They all have great gear and brilliant technicians who we’ve been lucky enough to have out on the road with us prior to the pandemic. Our team can always nip into

their warehouses too, with them all being based in the north, so that’s a great help,” Woolfie said, praising the tour’s vendors. “We’ve all had a tough time, so it was great to get back to it and offer some work to our trusted suppliers,” Woolfie commented. “It was a bit of a weird one when the tour screeched to a halt in 2020 and I sent out a ‘shall we just, erm… just hit pause on these hires and we’ll get round to doing these shows eventually?’ email to all our suppliers. We wanted to have everyone who started the tour with us, finish the tour with us,” he said. As well as liaising with venue staff and promoters, SJM regarding COVID-19 regulations, the SK2 Crew ensured the health and safety of performing artists and the technical crew were, as ever, paramount. “The main thing for us on the road was daily LFTs every morning before leaving the bunk; this gave us a head start in isolating any potential COVID-19 cases or a chance of transmission through the rest of the touring party,” Woolfie said, reporting the abundance of hand sanitiser, facemasks, antibacterial and disinfectant spray they were equipped with. As part of ASM Global’s portfolio of venues, AO Arena has activated its VenueShield programme, which is a hygiene protocol in effect at more than 325 ASM Global facilities around the world. Through its partnership with Unilever brand, Lifebuoy, there are plenty of hand sanitiser dispensers around the venue to make it easy for everyone to sanitise their hands as they move around the arena, encouraging hand hygiene and inspiring confidence in the return to live events. The band and crew were also split between separate buses, with support band dressing



rooms situated away from the touring party. “Operating with a base level of common sense gives us the best chance of making it through the whole tour,” he remarked. The touring team also operated in bubbles, minimising exposure to those outside of the touring bubble. “We were faced by over 200,000 people over the course of three weeks across venues and festival sites during this postlockdown campaign, so we were sensible about exposure,” Woolfie said. “Everyone was aware that as little as one pint in a pub could potentially send the entire tour crashing off the road, so we stuck to the things and places we had absolute control of.” Having started with five shows on the bounce – Leeds & Reading Festivals main stage, Victorious Festival main stage, Hull’s Bonus Arena, and Glasgow O2 Academy – Woolfie said the SK2 Crew joked about not being ‘match fit’, so halfway through the tour, they each purchased back massagers. A homecoming by name and nature, Blossoms’ AO Arena date was the band’s last show of their whirlwind post-lockdown tour. “This was like a constant carrot dangling in front of us over the three weeks leading up to it. Many tours around us were being pulled off the road due to one-or-more of their band or crew getting COVID-19, so to make it through to the show and get the buses parked up there felt like a feat on its own, before we’d even loaded in.” Despite factoring in an added layer of precaution, the only delay the production faced during show days was a 15-to-20 minutes spent testing each morning. “It was initially a small inconvenience, which gradually became part of our routine,” Woolfie said, explaining that local crews were required to show a negative LFT test before entering the venue. Once in, antibacterial and disinfectant spray was deployed on flight cases and touch points with plenty of PPE on hand to be used when needed. “We had enough time to load in and out safely and staggered without all being on top of each other in the smaller venues,” he said. Summing up his experience, Woolfie, still aghast with amazement, said: “This was our first arena headline, so there was a bit of pressure all round. I took a walk all the way up to row Z in the morning and sat for a few minutes to just take it in while the arena was empty. It was nice to be the first touring crew in the venue. “Then for 15,000 Mancs to come in and absolutely ’ave it after 18 months at home – you can’t really beat that. The band and most of the crew are Stockport and Manchester born and bred, so it was a nice big box ticked for all of us,” he recalled with joy. “It’s been a tough ride but we’re a resilient team. We’re thrilled to be finally back in show mode, and we’re looking forward to a stellar 2022,” AO Arena General Manager, James Allen said, joining the conversation fresh off the back of Giants Live World’s Strongest Man on 14 August, the venue’s first show with audiences in the room, and now the venue’s first gig back with local lads, Blossoms some 553 days later. “It’s so good to see everyone again. Putting on shows is what we do best and after such a long period of inactivity, we were all excited to be finally back in action. The response has been overwhelmingly positive; it was a joyful


celebration of live music with a home-grown band in Blossoms,” Allen stated. For Woolfie, the band’s recent road excursions with Rick Astley, performing the songs of The Smiths, provided much-needed relief following a testing lockdown, perennial shuffling of dates and a whirlwind tour of music festivals and UK venues. “It sounds great, and the band have really enjoyed dissecting and learning all the parts of The Smiths’ back catalogue. It put a lot of smiles on the faces of those who managed to grab a ticket,” he concluded. “It’s the kind of thing that in-person audiences needed after so many months locked indoors.”

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Proud to supply Full Production and Sound Design to Queens ‘We Will Rock You’ Worldwide

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“Sonalyst would like to extend its best wishes to everyone as we move out of these testing times. Glad to its be back what we do best!” Madden “Sonalyst would like to extend best doing wishes to everyone as- Rory we move outM.D of

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ROYAL ALBERT HALL AT 150: MORE HISTORY TO MAKE Head of Production and Technical, Ollie Jeffery details the Royal Albert Hall’s road to recovery, having closed its doors to the public for the first time since World War II.

Words: Jacob Waite Photos: Royal Albert Hall

Royal Albert Hall Head of Production and Technical, Ollie Jeffery.


All venues, from grassroots to cultural institutions like Royal Albert Hall, have suffered from the grounding of live events in March 2020. Considered by many as London’s most iconic venue – having been graced by some of the biggest and best names on the touring circuit – the 5,272-capacity space was forced to close its doors for the first time since World War II on the eve of its 150th anniversary. Following the easing of restrictions, TPi checked in with the man responsible for the delivery of the technical requirements of around 500 events scheduled at RAH every year – Head of Production and Technical, Ollie Jeffery. “The lockdown was a big hit. We were approaching our 150th anniversary with lots of plans, which we had to postpone,” commented Jeffery, who currently manages a team of 40 salaried staff and 100 casuals. “The biggest hit has been financial. The Hall receives no direct government revenue funding, so we rely on what comes into the building via partnerships, donations and ticket, food and beverage sales.” Despite pockets of work, the length of the lockdown had a significant financial impact. “We were lucky to host behind-closed-doors

events, which used the Hall in ways it had never been used before,” Jeffery explained, adding that it cost to open the venue’s doors without audiences. “We received a loan as part of the UK government’s Culture Recovery Fund (CRF), putting the Hall in debt for the first time in its history, which has subsequently changed our business plan,” he commented. The Hall reopened its doors on 19 July, welcoming back full-capacity audiences with a specially commissioned 10-movement concert created by composer, David Arnold and performed by the Royal Albert Hall Orchestra, the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, and students from the Tri-borough Music Hub – A Circle of Sound, in celebration of RAH’s belated 150th anniversary. “We had some amazing plans and shows to celebrate this landmark year and now, our 150th has been extended into 2023,” Jeffery added. “We’ve got a few things coming up next year, such as Matthew Bourne’s The Car Man ballet scheduled for June 2022.” During the lockdown, RAH spent around £950,000 on a new ventilation system – something Jeffery says the Hall was already considering but became an even higher priority

after the COVID-19 pandemic. “Lockdown provided us the time to push renovation work and improve existing systems to make the building COVID-19 secure,” he remarked. “The Hall prides itself on being one of the best venues in the world,” Jeffery said proudly. To this end, stocking and investment on inhouse equipment can be the difference maker. “We’re always looking at ways to improve our technology,” he added. “We’ve recently invested in new Robe lighting products and music stands following an extensive overhaul of our in-house sound system.” The Hall’s basement three is modelled on SFL and White Light’s warehouse processes. “The more kit we have available, the easier a show is for visiting productions,” Jeffery explained. “We’ve also invested in outdoor temporary lighting, courtesy of White Light, who project gobos outside of the building with the ‘150, more history to make’ slogan.” Detailing positive post-lockdown attendance numbers, Jeffery believes the key to success is patience. “It’s going to take time for audiences to feel confident. However, we want to reassure them that we can entertain crowds, while being COVID-19 secure,” he said,

referencing the success of the return of BBC Proms, which welcomed half-capacity crowds. “It was incredibly successful; the famed Last Night at the Proms, where we welcomed a capacity crowd, was a highlight.” Hot on the heels of James Bond’s No Time To Die film premiere, one of the world’s first to take place post-lockdown, with royalty in attendance, Jeffery cut a figure of enthusiasm: “Our programming is so varied,” he said, reeling off a list of upcoming shows, which read like a scatter graph of talent – from the Bond premiere to a visit from Black Stone Cherry, the International Ballroom Dancing Championships, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s ABBAphonic, the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain, to Patti Smith, Billy Ocean, Gregory Porter, Rick Astley, and graduation ceremonies. Despite the diverse programming, shortages are still a worry. “There is a skill shortage in the industry, whether that’s through redundancy, furlough or moving to other sectors given the uncertainty and without a guaranteed future.” This is particularly hard for a building that works 24/7. “Like most of the sector, we are suffering from crew shortages,”

Jeffery stated. “However, we are lucky to have a hard-working team who have thrown themselves into the reopening. I’ve also been liaising with other venues as a board member of National Arenas Association. Management has put objectives together amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and one of them is to look after staff the best way possible.” In recent years, the Hall has established a Health and Wellbeing Committee, promoting meditation, stretching, and mental health awareness. “We’ve examined our processes to be more of an open and inclusive environment for employees. While there is a lot more work to be done, sustainability and diversity plays a key part of our business plan,” he said. Jeffery concluded our conversation by outlining his hopes to eschew the connotations of the Hall as a middle-class space. “People have this view of the Hall as grandiose, stuffy and middle class, but Prince Albert came up with this space for arts and sciences to thrive for all classes, and to this day we don’t forget that. Most of our development meetings begin with the mantra ‘What would Albert do?’ After all, this was his vision of the future.”



DIGICO GOES LIVE FROM THE BARBICAN Following the success of its in-house livestream series, London’s Barbican expands its arsenal of DiGiCo technologies to broadcast from its hall to your home...

Photos: Gasoline Media and Phil Wright

Presenting socially distanced and reducedaudience experiences, livestreamed directly into the comfort of your home, London’s Barbican – considered one of the UK’s go-to live performances spaces – has been able to reach a new global audience during and postlockdown. At the heart of the sonic delivery of each show is a host of DiGiCo solutions. During the lockdown, Barbican Head of Music, Huw Humphreys, asked Technical Manager, Mark Bloxsidge and Technical Supervisors Jason Kew (Lighting), Martin Shaw (AV) and Tom Shipman (Sound) to design a way of working and a wish list of equipment to fulfil the requirements for livestreamed concerts. “DiGiCo was the immediate choice for the audio,” Shipman said, praising Humphreys’ vision and determination for a high-quality product against all odds. The Barbican’s TV Gallery – known as BTV – is the heart of their livestreaming operation and features a recently purchased SD9 console and SD-Mini Rack to add to the SD7, SD10 and SD9 consoles and SD Racks previously supplied and installed at the venue by Autograph. The new purchase allowed the Barbican technical team to network all their consoles and racks optically to facilitate the audio


workflow needed for these broadcasts. “Owning four DiGiCo consoles is terrific,” Bloxsidge enthused. “While you wouldn’t think of DiGiCo first when you’re considering studio work, they’ve proved to be excellent and with the advantage that our sound crew know how to use them already.” The Barbican’s SD7 and one of their SD9s take care of FOH and monitors respectively in the Concert Hall, while the SD10 shares the same inputs for a broadcast remix. This remix is then sent on to the new SD9 in BTV where additional audience mics and any prerecorded content are blended with the music, while adding any lip-sync delay, dynamics and limiting required for the livestream encoders. Room 304, a former BBC sound mixing studio backstage at the Barbican, has been recently refurbished by Munro Acoustics and is now home to the Barbican’s DiGiCo SD10, outboard FX and Dynaudio monitors. Barbican Sound Technician, Jonny Teanby regularly mixes the broadcast audio of each livestream from here. “Workflow-wise, because I’m somewhere between doing live and studio, it’s nice to have a familiar tool in DiGiCo to use. The SD10 is ideal for this because I can see all the channels easily,” Teanby explained. “We’ve also experimented with moving the SD9 monitor console backstage and doing the monitor mix remotely,” Bloxsidge continued. “During soundcheck the engineer will be on stage with an iPad setting up foldback for the artists but will then move back out of the way so as not to appear on TV.” The monitor engineer watches the action over a bank of screens and the Barbican provides multi-camera viewpoints, so the engineers feel like they’re in the Hall. “We have our standard show relay wide shot, a conductor camera, which is a reverse look at the stage from an elevated position,” Shipman explained. “There’s the TX feed from BTV and a dedicated PTZ, which is operated by the monitor engineer as a pair of eyes on stage as a normal monitor position would be and there’s the DiGiCo overview screen.” The Barbican also provides engineers with DiGiGrid MGB

for increased flexibility. “Being able to get 128 channels in and out of it is incredible, and just over a bit of cat5 and a gigabit ethernet port on your computer is fantastic. Now that it’s a way to run Waves, it’s an ideal choice for us, not just for multitrack recording, but for external effects,” he commented. Among the big-name acts on the bill, Paul Weller took to the stage for his first live gig in two years, with the backing of the BBC Symphony Orchestra in a performance curated and arranged by Jules Buckley as part of the Live from the Barbican livestream series. “There were only two active DiGiCo consoles on that particular show,” Bloxsidge, said, referencing an SD12, Sound Engineer, Phil Wright brought in and one of the venue’s in-house SD9s, situated in the TV gallery for a presentation mix. “Phil brought in a couple of SD Racks. We networked them together, the inputs were then split via MADI with the BBC’s OB truck and they sent a broadcast mix back to us for our livestream.” Faced with livestreams or nothing in lockdown, Bloxsidge recalled the steep learning curve of working out how to do live TV. “We engaged the services of TV professionals including directors and script supervisors alongside our in-house staff to make sure it was the best standard possible,” he explained, praising the Barbican’s raft of in-house camera operators and the sound mixers. “We’ve always facilitated rentals to external promoters and put our staff in positions where they can be creative as often as they can, certainly for our own productions. If a performing artist has their own engineer, we also facilitate that.” Unlike many other venues, the Barbican curates and promotes its own shows. “The Live from the Barbican livestream series has been a fantastic opportunity to give our staff as many creative roles within the broadcast as we can, rather than just working for visiting creatives. We find ourselves reaching audiences who may have never engaged with the venue before.”


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MARTIN AUDIO As Martin Audio celebrates half a century of business, TPi sits down with Managing Director, Dom Harter, who explains why the original principles of Founder, Dave Martin are still ever-present.

Words: Stew Hume Photos: Martin Audio

“The first time I came across Martin Audio was back in 1996 while studying at Keele University,” reminisced Martin Audio Managing Director, Dom Harter. Our conversation took place a month after the firm welcomed friends and employees to celebrate its 50th anniversary. During the celebration, guests were given a hardback book, which contains a detailed timeline of the company and celebrates its highlights through the years. The first page details David Martin’s founding principles of the company, which still ring true today – namely that the audience experience is the top priority. With the overarching goal of making speakers that allow the ‘whole’ audience to enjoy a live show, David went on to become a pioneer of professional and touring sound


as we know it. “The focus on the audience experience is key in everything we do at Martin,” explained Harter. “When you look at any of our arrays and all the technology that has gone into them for the past five decades, it has always been about making them sound amazing, no matter where you are in a crowd. You will sometimes hear companies talk about how the sound comes out of their loudspeakers which, frankly, is totally irrelevant. What matters is what you hear from where you’re stood – always,” he stated. Having been at the helm since 2016, Harter provided an overview of some of the changes he has seen at the company. “Around 2016, although Martin Audio was still making fantastic products, we’d lost our way slightly. The then ownership by LOUD Group wasn’t

quite the right fit and there was a need for a change.” In the proceeding years, Martin Audio was taken out of the LOUD portfolio to be bought by new owners, Focusrite, in 2019. Away from the corporate ownership, Harter explained the new direction the company began to take from then onwards. “We’ve had a flurry of products,” he chuckled, explaining how he felt as if he’d been to 100 production launches since taking on the role of MD. “The idea of all of these additions to the Martin Audio range was not about breaking into new markets, but giving customers from multiple sectors the time and attention they deserved,” he commented. He explained how there had been a pattern over the years of only really focussing on one market for a period of a few years, before moving on to another. “One of my goals was to give each sector a new toy,” he put simply. In its current state, you can find the Martin Audio logo on a whole range of boxes, from the install ranges of Adorn, CDD-WR and Ceiling Series all the way to its flagship MLA System, but according to Harter, no matter the size, there is a commonality between each range. “There are limits with what you can do with products and it’s not simple to implement optimisation software from a £1m PA setup in a £100 speaker. That said, you could learn a lot in the development of speakers on either end of the spectrum, which is why here at Martin Audio we do not have a dedicated R&D team for the install and live products. We just have the R&D team,” he commented. The people working on the latest install offering also turn their hands to massive PA systems – an advantage according to the MD, as any benefit of learning you get from a project can be transferred into another. “As the same team is creating all of the products, the voice of all the systems are very similar, so you know what you’re going to get when you have a Martin product,” Harter said. Moving the conversation onto the present, Harter explained how he and the team had fared during the pandemic and shared some

of his predictions for the future of both the company and the industry at large. “One of the first things that has to be mentioned is that Focusrite’s ownership enabled us to behave very differently than some of our competitors,” he said. With the demand for Focusrite’s products since March 2021 – no doubt thanks to the plethora of podcasts and home studios that popped up over that time – all the companies under its umbrella such as Martin Audio certainly saw the benefit. “Like many, we furloughed a few people at the start of lockdown but as the demand for Focusrite products increased, we were able to take some of our team off furlough to work for Focusrite for a time,” Harter said. In fact, Martin Audio remained open throughout 2020, with a focus on increasing its global inventory for the inevitable surge of demand when events returned. “When you see big company buyouts, you see words like ‘synergy’ bandied about,” Harter said. “Although this is true, at Martin Audio we always use the term ‘family’ in everything we do. The fact we’ve been able to join a company with a UK base just down the road from us and that has a similar working culture to us has been invaluable – not to mention, it has enabled us to keep the ‘family’ together.” As live events begin to return in both the UK and US, Harter expressed his excitement about seeing colleagues from the industry return to work, with the caveat that we still have a long way to go. “I see the next 18 months as a ‘rebuild’ period,” he explained. “The reality is, we’re a long way off from summer 2019 and there is a lot of catching up to do. When it comes to the live events sector, the last thing we want to do is bring out a brand-new fancy product, as people do not have the resources right now to afford it.” Instead, he said, Martin Audio are currently working on software updates that end users can harness readily. He also explained the importance of training the next-generation over the next 18 months. “I predict from what I’ve seen that we’ve lost 30% of our workforce and those remaining have not done a whole lot for a year-and-a-half,”

he continued. “People are already beginning to panic about July next year in terms of crew and equipment – something I’ve not seen in all my time in the industry – so it’s important to be prepared as much as possible.” With some tough times ahead Harter hypothesised on the evolution of pro audio. “I think we’re on the cusp of the next leap forward,” he stated, discussing the audio industry at large. “It’s been a long time since there has been a product that moved the needle, but I feel we’ll see something soon.” Along with a drastic shift in products, Harter also predicted a change in mentality when it came to environmental considerations. “Within Focusrite, we have Andrew Land, Head of Sustainability, and under his control, the whole group is currently calculating the carbon footprint of all of our products – something we are beginning to do at Martin.” With the vast array of products under the Martin Audio banner, this won’t be a quick process, but all the knowledge will then be taken into future products. The Martin Audio that started back in 1971 is certainly a different company 50 years later, now being part of a bigger corporate structure. However, according to the MD, the “big company mentally” is nothing to fear – “as long as it’s not at the expense of the people”, he said. “We’re lucky in pro audio in that the cost of making the product is quite low, compared with building a car, for example.” He referred to Dave Martin as a “great example” of that exact ethos. “He woke up one day thinking he could do a better job and built a system from scratch. It’s why even now there is a vibrant underbelly of new companies coming through, which helps keep the market exciting.” It’s no surprise that Harter was complimentary of the up-and-coming companies coming through and challenging the status quo. After all, that is exactly how the wheels of Martin Audio began turning, with a founder thinking that things could be better. What that ‘better’ is as we move to the next 50 years, is yet to be written.

Opposite: The Martin Audio family. Above: Founder Dave Martin; Martin Audio Managing Director Dom Harter.



ENTOURAGE PRO Entourage Pro Founder, Joel Perry, explains how his new virtual network simplifies the task of finding the right crew for a project as the events industry emerges from such a tumultuous period.

Words: Stew Hume Photos: Entourage Pro

Throughout the lockdown, within a corner of social media populated by industry types, it was hard to miss the various posts from Entourage Pro which, on a daily basis, sent out quotes from both artists and notable industry figures stating the importance of crew and why they needed to be supported. But, the question remained; what is Entourage Pro? Spearheaded by Joel Perry and James Stanbridge, the company’s goal is to create a verified network of production professionals that is fully searchable via role, expertise, previous work with artists or festivals and availability – effectively providing a streamlined and efficient way of finding the right people for a job alongside the traditional methods of word of mouth and peer-to-peer recommendations. “I’ve had the idea for around five years,” began Perry. “I’d often be asked by friends if I knew of any tours and if I would throw their CV into the frame. It got me thinking there could be a way of facilitating these requests.” After a


conversation with James Stanbridge – owner of Showcase international music directory – the duo joined forces and began working on Entourage Pro (EP). Following a busy period 2020/21 where the team worked on building the website, specifically the back-end automation and processing, which Perry believes “gives members and partners something new and unique”, the service is now ready to launch. “Over the years, we’ve amassed a crew database of 8,000 people worldwide and during the soft-launch, we had 2,600 freelancers sign up and the figure is growing daily,” stated Perry. “In total we have access to over 350,000 potential employers from PMs, TMs, rental houses as well as artists, management and record company’s tour departments.” EP has also made connections with a number of manufacturers working in the industry including Robe, Yamaha, d&b audiotechnik and Avolites. “Indeed all of our partners give us extreme gravitas in the sector, ensuring crews know we are serious,” asserted Perry. “It’s estimated there are around eight million production crew worldwide. We aim to sign up 10% of that figure within three years,” he added. Users can access the network by setting up an account on the EP website and the soon-to-be-launched app. Perry prophesied how touring professionals may use EP in the future. “It removes the doubt and guesswork,” he stated. “Members are verified by their peers, employers, production and tour managers and rental companies. It saves time, effort and reduces margins for error. We want to provide crews – who, let’s face it, have had

the most tumultuous of times – with a support network whose primary focus is to maximise opportunities and promote these incredible people in a way not seen before.” There are a few other existing developments which the EP team has also been working on, including Production Hub – a discreet proximity-based app, linked into the global rental house network for such times where equipment needs to be sourced quickly. The EP team has also been speaking to global venues for them to provide a comprehensive list of specs, floor plans and weight capacities, creating a treasure trove of information that will aid in the logistics of planning a tour and what to expect night after night. Joining EP is free of charge and, according to Perry, “always will be”, he said. “With the many services on offer, we ask that members agree to completing some surveys pertaining to their areas of expertise in terms of kit, training, usage and brand awareness, which EP then reports back to the industry. We are giving end-users a voice that goes beyond the building and testing stages of the manufacturing process.” According to Perry, EP could be an ideal stepping-stone for those wishing to get their foot in the door and have already began discussing with universities, colleges and academies in the UK, Europe and North America. “EP will be sponsoring certain individuals to join tours and shadow experienced crew, in the real world under the Entourage Pro: Learns initiative.”

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ELLIOT BAINES Spiralstagelighting’s Elliot Baines shares his 2021 highlights.

Words: Jacob Waite

Since winning Breakthrough Talent Awards Standout Talent at Production Futures, Spiralstagelighting’s Elliot Baines has been involved in lighting several live shows, festival slots, installations and livestreams as well as breaking ground as an 18-year-old business owner. Speaking from his Croft Myl headquarters in Halifax, he recaps a busy year. “I have been designing shows and installations across the globe in lockdown, as well as moving into a new office and investing in equipment in lockdown,” he said, giving TPi a tour of his new creative hub. “Having a space like this allows me to design and pre-programme, as well as invite people over to talk, work, and collaborate.” As well as supplying control packages as Spiralstagelighting, Baines – a member of Avolites Titan Beta testing team – uses his downtime to brush up on Capture and learning new software. In lockdown, he enjoyed stints as Lighting Designer/Operator for Skepta’s


All In mixtape release; Lighting Operator/ Programmer on Hybrid Minds 2021 Outline Tour; The BIBAs; As Sirens Fall’s Dynamite music video shoot; several nightclub installations; and Visions Festival, with upcoming shows at London’s Roundhouse and The Piece Hall just around the corner. Having worked with Lights Control Rigging (LCR) at Neighbourhood Weekender, Wolf Lighting, and Siyan in recent months, Baines commented: “During lockdown, we have had new, potential clients get in touch with us in different parts of the UK, and overseas, including other lighting designers, and my aim is to work with our new, and old clients to make their shows unique.” Case and point, Baines was approached by Tank Design’s Tom Taylor to assume the role of Lighting Tech Manager for Aitch at Leeds and Reading Festivals, alongside Production Manager, Charlie Lennod and Lighting Operator, Alex Brown. “It was an amazing

experience,” he enthused, having operated on his biggest stage to date. “I couldn’t believe the scale of the production. It was unique for me to operate on the other side of the cable, witnessing how everything works.” Elsewhere, Baines recently designed renders for Texas’ Trinity Chapel lighting installation with Elation Professional fixtures, remotely. “It was an awesome experience,” he reported. “I’ve also been collaborating with some overseas manufacturers to help with the R&D of new products, offering feedback for product launches overseas.” Amid lockdown, he enlisted the support of Only Project’s James Varley for a showreel. “I’ve utilised social media quite a lot during lockdown, especially YouTube. This has allowed me to keep in contact with people” he said, sharing his hopes for the future. “I’ve always seen Spiralstagelighting as a collective, so get in touch if you’d like to collaborate.”

FINLAY BOWREY LarMac LIVE’s new recruit, Finlay Bowrey reflects on his entry into the industry.

Since joining LarMac LIVE in June, Finlay Bowrey has been catapulted head-first into the industry, recently embarking on his first festival production post-lockdown at cinch presents Creamfields. “It was incredible to be part of the event, from pre- to postproduction, I have learned so much in a short period of time,” he said, reflecting on his varied role as Production Assistant. From looking after the stage manager to helping to arrange stage times and artists’ riders, Bowrey was the primary point of contact in the Creamfields production office, resulting in meeting a who’s who of the sector’s workforce. “By working in the field surrounded by experts, I was able to absorb so much. When I first arrived on site, I didn’t understand the lingo...” However, by the end of Creamfields, he was fluent in backstage

terminology. “It was becoming part of my vocabulary. Listening and learning from experts will only help me improve,” he stated. “The best piece of advice I was given onsite was to ask questions – it’s the best way to learn when you are new to the industry.” Having studied Live Event and Television at the University of The Arts London, Bowrey believes education is equally important. “University taught me the importance of collaboration. We teamed up with other courses and years to learn how people operate in different environments – an incredibly important skill to have in this industry,” he said, adding that unfortunately COVID-19 made it difficult for him to complete his final year in-person. “I adapted by producing a dissertation and a major project online. It was tough but I was able to get my head down and produce work that I am proud of.” With Creamfields being one of the first shows back for most of LarMac’s trusted freelance crew, Bowrey soon felt at ease. “Everyone was initially slightly out of sync, which made it easier for me to come in as

a newbie. The crew were happy to be back working on a festival site and were really welcoming,” he said, speaking as one of the few fortunate enough to land a postgraduate job. “A lot of friends and coursemates have not been as lucky as me. They can’t find any jobs due to COVID-19, which has been compounded by the fact they are new to the industry. It is such a tough time to break into the sector, especially if you have little experience.” Looking back at how far he has come, Bowrey remembered visiting Camp Bestival as a 15-year-old, stumbling across the LarMac LIVE production team in action. “I was inspired,” he reminisced, managing to sneak a peek behind the scenes. “From that day on, I knew I wanted to work in the industry. It gave me the kick I needed to get my head down and a goal to aim towards.” Having come full circle, now working alongside a team which inspired his career path, he says, is a “dream come true”.



NEKO 18 NEKO Trust launches a new programme to support those at the start of their career.

In September, an innovative new pilot programme, NEKO 18, was launched by NEKO Trust to help build a sustainable future for music and live events. The free-to-enrol programme, supported by funders including Arts Council England’s Culture Recovery Fund, was a response to research conducted over the past 18 months into the barriers facing those who wish to progress their career in music and live events. It identified 18 earlycareer individuals from diverse backgrounds with a wide range of skills and experience to undertake a three-month programme of professional development. Between September and November, the cohort benefited from knowledge sharing with peers and experienced industry professionals, shadowing and commissioning opportunities with resident and associated NEKO artists, focused creative retreats, and mentorship from programme ambassadors. NEKO 18 participants also had the opportunity to achieve accreditation via the CLOCK Your Skills programme, which enables people to learn through work and be validated by sector experts. The induction week, which took place from 6 to 10 September 2021, saw participants focus on the music and live events sector, including the history of recorded music and the importance of building your brand, while taking


time to reflect on how to better understand and manage mental health, with yoga sessions woven into the week’s itinerary. Across the three months, the NEKO 18 learned about music management, record labels, revenue streams, fanbase building, NFTs and future tech, and the live sector. The programme also focused on the reality of being a freelancer in the sector, with sessions on debt management, accounting, negotiating day rates, understanding tax, building a business plan, fundraising, how to build a pitch deck, and networking - giving vital practical knowledge and skills to those looking to develop their career further. The NEKO 18 - which includes artists, marketing professionals, graphic designers, music managers, producers and more - were provided with a free workspace in NEKO’s thriving cultural hub in Wandsworth, South West London, to progress their own ideas and collaborate on tailored creative opportunities. Overall, the programme seeks to improve an individual’s experience and skill set whilst giving them the confidence, knowledge and a network of like-minded creatives to direct their own career. With the program now coming to an end, the cohort may be able to apply for seed funding from NEKO to take their creative ideas to the next level, with continued business support and mentoring. Speaking of the launch

of the programme, NEKO Founder, Glen Rowe, said: “The need for the NEKO 18 programme is more important than ever following the last 18 months of challenge and despair for the music and live events sectors. It will allow young creatives and entrepreneurs with an idea and a collaborative nature, who may have been at risk of leaving the sector, to come together to benefit from building a network with like-minded professionals as well as mentors to guide their development,” he said “We have attracted some of the most talented, determined and passionate individuals committed to working in music and live events, with a view to safeguarding the future of the sector and levelling up opportunities to work.” NEKO CEO and Creative Director, Mary Rose, added her thoughts on the programme: “The COVID-19 pandemic represents the biggest threat to the UK’s cultural infrastructure, institutions, and workforce in a generation. It is vital that we attract and retain the talent we need to ensure the music and live events industry emerges better and more resilient. For NEKO, this is about creating

equality of opportunity, so that people from all backgrounds can access, learn and progress within it. Our focus is on helping young people and early-career creatives develop the skills, knowledge and networks they need to have a successful career in music,” she said. “I’m thrilled to welcome this company of 18 to our thriving cultural hub in Wandsworth at such an exciting time for the charity. They bring a diverse range of skills and experience as well as real entrepreneurial spirit. I would particularly like to thank Arts Council England for their support via the Culture Recovery Fund as this has helped make this scheme possible.” Although NEKO 18 is the first education programme to emanate from NEKO Trust under the NEKO Futures umbrella, the charity is also currently working with Gallowglass, one of the leading events crewing companies in the UK and Europe, to establish a new generation of production professionals from a diverse range of backgrounds. Once recruited by Gallowglass, a group of 20 young adults will learn about all aspects of event crewing and will spend time at NEKO being trained by

working professionals in the fundamentals of Tour Management, Production Management, Live Sound and Backline. More details will be available in the coming weeks. For more information and to pledge your support to NEKO’s inspirational work, visit the charity’s brand new website at:



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A 2021

RETROSPECTIVE PSA Chair, Dave Keighley rounds up the past year from a PSA perspective and gives a stark warning for 2022.

Words: Dave Keighley Photo: Tyler Callahan - Unsplash

It’s been quite a year at the Production Services Association (PSA). Our General Manager of 17 years – a familiar face to TPi readers – Andy Lenthall has moved on to head up the UK Festival Awards. I’d like to thank him for his fantastic work over the years and wish him well with his next project. Stagehand, the PSA’s Benevolent Fund Charity, has continued to award grants to many who have experienced financial hardship throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns. I’d like to thank Mike Lowe and the rest of the Stagehand trustees for the amazing work they have done in helping so many people this year and last, and I’d also like to thank the


very generous people and companies that support Stagehand. There is no question that 2020 and most of 2021 have been devastating for the live event industry. Despite things opening up in the summer and a busy autumn with lots of conferences taking place and shows back on the road, there is one question that still remains; what does 2022 have in store for us? With promoters and agents keen to get their clients back out on tour, you’d think that 2022 will be a record-breaking year – or, will it? To put it into perspective, if you want a stage, lighting, video, an audio system, trucks or tour busses for any show past early May next year,

I would advise that you book it, confirm it, and pay a deposit sooner rather than later. For the first time in my career, I believe that the word ‘no’ will be heard by an ever-growing number of people who have never heard it before. It looks like there will be shortages of equipment next summer but more devastating will be the lack of qualified crew and technicians. Without these essential workers, it doesn’t matter how many tickets you sell, if production companies can’t get crew then there could be shows that will not happen. Our industry has always been proud of never failing to deliver, no matter what hurdles were put in our way. This could change in 2022. With so many workers having left our industry in the past 18 months, do we really expect them all to come back? Many technicians have either left the industry completely or have moved over into the television, broadcast and film sectors. These sectors generally work shorter hours and have better rates of pay compared to concert touring. Expecting these people to return to the torturous hours of concert touring is a tough ask and one many will not accept. We have been working hard to get more apprenticeship schemes up and running, but this will not help in the next two to three years. What also doesn’t help is the lack of components for all types of equipment, from moving lights to video screens to audio consoles. I don’t wish to be a harbinger of doom, but these problems are real and I’m worried. Our creative industry needs to think quickly about how we can avoid disappointing our clients and really getting back to where we were in 2019. For once, I really hope I’m wrong, but better to plan now than be disappointed when next summer rolls around.


LIVE MUSIC SECTOR COMMITS TO REACHING NET ZERO BY 2030 AEG Europe COO and Chair of LIVE Green, John Langford throws down the gauntlet, following an across-the-board industry campaign to deliver climate action.

Words: John Langford Photo: Blake Ezra & Jordon Conner on Unsplash

The UK’s live music sector has launched a sweeping industry campaign to deliver climate action, setting out its commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2030. The campaign, fronted by LIVE Green – the sustainability arm of live music umbrella trade body LIVE – builds on significant efforts across the sector to boost sustainability, ranging from the end of single-use plastic at festivals to sector-wide efforts to reduce the environmental impact of touring. The group will identify and signpost how live music businesses can accelerate their transition to a low-carbon future, setting out a roadmap for action in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change. “We are now at a tipping point for our climate: this is not a rehearsal,” AEG Europe COO and Chair of LIVE Green, John Langford, said, throwing down the gauntlet to the sector. “We want to tap into the power of music to help deliver a step-change in the environmental impact of our sector – from carbon emissions through to plastic waste – helping us demonstrate that moving faster towards decarbonisation is a route to a competitive advantage,” he commented. All 13 association members of LIVE have ratified the Beyond Zero Declaration, a voluntary sector-specific commitment to deliver measurable and targeted action on climate change, with the aim of reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2030. Signatories to the declaration agree to work with LIVE Green to set reduction targets and


4 0 YE ARS est. 1981

reduce operational and business travel Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, reporting on progress annually; develop a net zero roadmap and action plan – taking responsibility for actions in energy, waste, procurement, transport, food and governance; understand and define emissions within value chains, follow best practice to affect change in areas outside of direct control and collaborate with suppliers and clients to reduce them. As well as ensuring staff undertake climate education and have an ongoing commitment to knowledge sharing within the live music sector and beyond. The initiative will provide research, expertise, and cross-industry innovation to support the live music and production sector’s transition to a regenerative future. Members of LIVE Green’s working group include Julie’s Bicycle, A Greener Festival, Powerful Thinking, Vision: 2025, The Tour Production Group and a collective of likeminded professionals and collectives from the wider live music and touring production sector. “The impact of COVID-19 has made the sector progressive in the conversation, with a bigger understanding of what external risks can do to our business,” Langford informed TPi following the announcement. “Suddenly, we’re all aware of these external threats to our business. The COVID-19 pandemic allowed us to open up the conversation beyond those who are already passionate about sustainability, by assessing what our own impact is on our business in 10 years’ time if we don’t do our part.” Research by Julie’s Bicycle has shown that live concerts, events and performances generate 400,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year, with accommodation, merchandise, and promotions contributing further. At the time of writing, there have already been considerable efforts across the sector to address these issues, including action across plastic waste, emissions, and procurement. LIVE Green will facilitate further action and engagement through the provision of practical resources, ongoing knowledge sharing, education and training alongside measurement tools to allow the business to study its progression towards a climate-positive position. “It is critical that the entire value chain is involved,” Langford explained, highlighting the importance of sector-wide climate literacy, knowledge sharing, education and training going forward. “Whether you’re a trucking company or a food supplier, or you run a small grassroots venue, you can work to that net zero emissions goal by 2030,” he concluded. LIVE Green also aims to ensure meaningful climate investments are made to achieve the live music sector’s collective targets in the short, medium, and long term, establishing an industry-wide approach on permanent emissions drawdown by 2030.


A GREENER WAY OF TOURING Industry experts unite to measure the environmental impact of Bring Me The Horizon’s Survival Horror Tour.

Words: Jacob Waite, Claire O’Neill, Jamal Chalabi Photos: Conor McDonnell

Striving to calculate greener conventions and a direction of responsibility, Tour Production Group (TPG) joined forces with Kilimanjaro Live, AEG, Raw Power Management and UTA to measure the environmental impact of Bring Me The Horizon (BMTH)’s latest UK tour. With promoters, venues, agents and management on board, the collective drew their battle plans to decide how best to calculate and offset the touring production’s footprint, assessing everything from travel production, to catering, water usage, and more. A Greener Festival (AGF) Co-Founder, Claire O’Neill was parachuted in to oversee the implementation of a greener tour. “AGF started 15 years ago working specifically on festivals, researching audience attitudes to discover what was largely counterculture at that period of time, bringing into the mainstream, larger sectors of the music industry,” O’Neill began, explaining her two decades of experience helping events, festivals and venues to become more sustainable and to reduce environmental impacts. “We worked with outdoor events internationally at that time, establishing the Greener Festival Awards, which is a green certification for festivals, from the scale of Glastonbury to small, grassroots and local festivals,” O’Neill commented. In 2015, AGF began developing training programmes which encompassed everything the collective amassed in the field, beginning to train auditors, assessors and sustainability managers across the globe. In the meantime, AGF developed its consultancy arm, underpinned by knowledge accumulated over the years, which spread out into different parts of the industry from 2015 as sustainability moved further up the agenda, working closely with sports events, and more recently, venues, arenas and tours. “Our work has been all-encompassing for close to two decades now,” O’Neill recalled, adding the astronomical rise in sustainability awareness in recent years. “When we began, it


was really about raising awareness and taking a marginal concept and trying to bring it into a mainstream commercial area of the business.” In the past five years alone, sustainability has gained global traction, with more people aware or conscious of their environmental impact on a societal and sector-specific level. “We have gradually begun to see more CEOs and key decision makers, who have the ability to effect widespread change, connect with those on a grassroots level,” O’Neill said, adding that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a huge shift in perceptions, with exponential awareness and activity for sustainability in the live industry in particular. “The pandemic has caused us to pause and reflect, and those who are actually capable of making things happen who are normally too busy to change systems and evaluate how to do things differently, were able to pay attention to sustainability,” she explained. O’Neill referenced the formation of collectives such as TPG and LIVE Green as “testament” to the increased focus on sustainability in the sector. “We came out of a lot of discussions which were insisting and motivated through these platforms where broader industry was brought together,” O’Neill noted. As a result of such conversations, TPG’s Jamal Chalabi, the BMTH touring camp and key stakeholders, pulled together, in an unprecedented experiment to assess the environmental impact of a UK tour – committed to seeing what they could do to make a difference and make changes going forward. “This is a positive time for sustainability,” O’Neill said, optimistically. “It is not to say we have all the answers ready to be transformed and laid out; this project reflects a wider, collective journey which causes us to pause, reflect on what works and what doesn’t work in reality, assess what opportunities are there now, what challenges we need to address, and how we can share that data and learning as an open source.” Equally, O’Neill believes live

music’s commitment to net zero by 2030 marks an important milestone not only for the industry but for wider sustainability. “This puts out a green light out to suppliers and organisations to move in a way and supply solutions which are more sustainable – whether that’s trucking, sound, or lighting,” O’Neill said, recalling the positive direction of continued discourse. “The response from the sector has been positive. More organisations have been in touch with what they’re working on, wishing to connect and analyse their carbon footprint. We’ve agreed where we want to get to but now we must work collectively to find out how we’re going to get there.” It was hard to imagine business other than usual prior to the pandemic, and then the sector witnessed all flights grounded, with tours and festivals postponed and eventually cancelled. “It showed our position in the pecking order as part of the ecosystem, as opposed to its dominator. If we don’t support the ecosystem, we will be floored within a blink of an eye. Changes will happen more quickly once we get back on our feet; let’s not pretend it isn’t difficult for people returning to work,” O’Neill said, acknowledging the sector’s gradual return to full strength after an 18-month battle. “The past year-and-a -half has been quite heavy on the sector’s workforce. It’s going to be interesting to see what comes from the data from the BMTH tour and seeing what can be implemented as standard, connecting with venues, and the greener arena certifications to standardise practices across arenas, as well as putting good practice into place for suppliers going forward, with hopefully, more space for more live events, safely,” O’Neill said, explaining that the key to cohesion is being an open source and sharing information going forward, as an industry of doers who are consistently learning from their mistakes. “Something I’ve found important with this process is the feedback and input of all the different expertise on the BMTH tour, from

technical suppliers to venues, each provide a unique perspective and expertise about how their world works and intersect with one another,” O’Neill said, noting that rather than this experiment being a top down approach, it’s been a bilateral project – from rigging and lighting kit, leaving warehouses to hitting the road to find out how each department impacts each other. “From this data, we can paint a wider picture of how we can curate a more sustainable sector with quantifiable data and an adequate working culture going forwards.” KB Event supplied 10 Megacube Box Artics, including merchandise, to the tour. All the trucks were Euro VI rated and powered by HVO biofuel – avoiding approximately 23 tonnes of CO2 emissions across the six-date run. “The



fact that the band and management were willing to incorporate HVO biofuel demonstrates their commitment to sustainable and environmentally friendly touring. Hopefully this will pave the way for the future,” KB Event MD, Stuart McPherson commented. Changes the sector can make, as per TPG and LIVE Green’s open letter on sustainability, include: evaluating venue power, being run by green grid and renewable energy sources, coverting lighting fixtures to LED; stocking enough grid shore power for tour trucks and buses, electric or ultra low emission runner vehicles, with a no idling policy; zero single-use plastic or alternative compostable solutions; water refill stations; sustainable food and beverage partners maximising plant-based

ingredients and minimising waste; understand, improve impacts and demonstrate action by obtaining green certification; encourage vendors and suppliers to do the same; incorporate sustainability policies, protocols and targets into contracts and local vendor procurement; support local community programmes on environmental, health and wellbeing. Chalabi concluded: “It’s important that this is a bilateral industry initiative decision, and BMTH have been gracious enough to allow us to experiment.” SUSTAINABILITY RESOURCES:





ENTEC UVC CLEAN In a bid to futureproof the live touring productions of tomorrow, Entec invests in UVC germicidal disinfection solutions by Finsen Technologies and forms the Entec UVC Clean division with Strategia.

Mitigating the transmission of COVID-19 has become an increasing focus for technical suppliers. A positive test can derail an entire tour. West London-based Entec Sound and Light, has taken measures into its own hands by investing in germicidal disinfection solutions and forming a new division, Entec UVC SafeClean, to promote and deliver them. Entec UVC SafeClean specialises in environmental germicidal disinfection – effective against all COVID-19 variants, as well as all other viruses and bacteria. “We set up this division after a year of research into how we could best play our role in helping the music and cultural sector as well as ourselves safely get back to work in a post-COVID-19 world,” Entec UVC SafeClean Commercial Advisor, Adrian King explained in great detail. Given Entec’s five decades of partnering and stocking the best technologies on the market, the new division undertook extensive due diligence and enlisted medical experts to find the right solution. This led to the discovery of Finsen Technologies, a specialist global UVC market leader based in the UK, which focuses on the medical world of operating theatres and ambulances, with germicidal disinfection solutions. “We felt it was our duty to take this world leading innovative technology into the broader markets,” King explained. “No other devices we looked at came close to what they do – they are the ‘gold’ standard.” Vaccination and testing remain vital for the live events sector to return to full strength,


according to Entec UVC SafeClean Medical Advisor, Dr David Lawrence. “Masks will partially decrease the spread from an infected individual to others and social distancing [of 2m or above] allows droplets to hit the ground before reaching another individual, depending upon airflow patterns and speech. Singing, shouting, coughing and sneezing dramatically increase the spread way beyond two metres. Closed air conditioning may propagate the spread of virus particles,” he added. “Aerosols, being at body temperature and lighter than droplets, dissipate upwards and can remain airborne indoors for 16 hours or more.” Addressing airborne transmission is key. This can be achieved to some extent through complex air-conditioning systems deploying fresh air exchange or more effectively through UVC germicidal disinfection. “Manual cleaning and chemical sprays have proven to be ineffective and potentially hazardous in medical studies while the impact of UVC and HEPA ventilation filters has been validated time and time again,” King stated. “Our mission now is to share what we have learnt and ensure all commercial sectors are putting their efforts into effective solutions to keep us safe.” Dr Lawrence highlighted the role of UVC in reducing the risk of fomite transmission (contracting COVID-19 from surfaces via hand to face), and also reaching areas where the virus can exist for years in biofilms at ceiling level and other difficult to reach areas. “Manual cleaning, even at the highest standard

regulated in hospitals, only achieves a 50% cleansing rate,” Lawrence noted, discussing the potential role of UVC when it comes to safeguarding technical production crew, performing artists and audiences. “Manual cleaning is of varying efficacy and costly financially and environmentally. Furthermore, manual cleaning can disperse virus-laden aerosols into the air risking operatives’ health and others entering the room up to 16 hours later,” he explained. Finsen Technologies has created four devices which have different roles in creating safer environments. The Thor robot provides a high standard in surface and total room air cleaning. EIR machines maintain clean air while people are in a room and thereby mitigates the most potent threat of airborne transmission. Zeus and Hyperion cabinets clean small and larger high touch items such as computers, phones, microphones, IEMs and radios. “The light from the devices does not damage surfaces or electrical goods. Critically, the machines calculate for you the required UVC dose to kill all pathogens in a particular space,” King explained. “They are also IOT enabled which allows us to remotely monitor performance and create an audit trial of deployment to prove a device has been used at a particular time and place for a particular duration. We have found no other devices that both calculate dosage and audits applications for you. Without these features it is very likely that any solution will not be used

effectively and it is very hard to ensure and prove compliance,” he noted. Entec UVC SafeClean presently stocks demo units of four Finsen machines in its demonstration suite. “Each specialises in a different attribute — either cleaning the air, cleaning surfaces or cleaning items like phones and microphones. Each can be hired on a short-term basis from one hour to one year, with or without an operator, and all machines can be purchased from us as well,” he added, walking TPi through the offerings. “We can be flexible and work with the customer to figure out which commercial option is most effective for their needs.” Direct exposure to UVC is harmful to skin and eyes. UVC machines, which were also used at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, are therefore constructed to prevent escape of rays and have fail-safe switch off systems. Deployment is space dependent. “It’s all to do with the intensity of UVC versus room / venue size. If it’s a small area, it can take minutes to make the space virus free,” King said. This flexibility is particularly useful when visiting a string of different sized venues on the road. “We recently worked with

Sarm Music Bank every day for a week, at the request of the production manager and band. Keen to seek more innovative ways to enhance their current disinfecting procedures and with their open and forward-looking approach to safety they deployed a combination of Thor and Eir on a weekly rental. This created an even safer working environment and ensured the upcoming shows were not put in jeopardy.” In addition to safety, there is also a strong commercial advantage – not least being the cost saving in sanitising paraphernalia, such as antibacterial wipes. “For instance if you are touring and in a venue for a week, we can rent for just that length of time. We will have sufficient stock to support bands and venues with flexible deals from sales to rental which can be scaled accordingly. This can be supplied with an operator. The rental prices are extremely reasonable — as little as £100 a day. Contrast with the costs and disruption of positive COVID-19 tests amongst crew and artists and the risk to audiences and workmates.” By deploying UVC technology adequate touring productions can significantly mitigate COVID-19 transmission risk and enable the

so-called ‘new normal’ to happen with much reduced risk of additional outbreaks, according to King. “This solution will alleviate the problem with only marginal additional costs to the production budgets and show a duty of care to all those working on shows and events. We think over time artists, management and crew will add to their requirements the need for a safe working environment – which means UVC,” King theorised, weighing up the pros and cons. “A combination of vaccine certificates, lateral flow testing and deployment of UVC at venues would enable businesses to stay open and artists to perform,” King said, offering to assist band and tour management looking for advice in advance of their next touring production or live event. “In these circumstances risks will be significantly reduced and we would like the industry to lobby for these types of measures in advance. Spending around £100 a night on UVC is better than non-trading altogether,” he concluded. “After all, from a business perspective, it means the facility can stay open and we can all do what we love to do and earn a living while doing it.”




Every once in a while, something comes along that tears up the rulebook and revolutionises an industry. This is one of those moments: the Satellite Modular Laser System from the Visionaries of the display industry – Digital Projection.


3,000 lumens 60 kg


16,000 lumens 113 kg


27,000 lumens 132 kg


> 40,000 lumens < 40 kg

The Visionaries’ Choice TPI Magazine March 2020.indd 1

04/03/2020 11:18



ELATION PROFESSIONAL KL PANEL XL A bigger full-colour-spectrum LED soft light with muscle and multi-zone control.

Elation Professional has released a new XL version of the KL Panel, which extends the size of the original while emitting nearly twice the power and offering multi-zone control for dynamic effects. Broadcast environments require bright and highly variable lighting of very high quality for key-, fill- and backlight. The new KL Panel XL LED soft light delivers with output, colour temperature control, fullspectrum colour rendering and an even wash coverage. Optimised for the tunable white light requirements of film and television, it is an ideal soft light source for many situations requiring outstanding performance and colour quality. Using a highly-efficient 544W RGBW+ Lime + Cyan LED Array, the KL Panel XL produces beautifully soft white or full-colour washes up to 44,000 field lumens at a 100° half-peak angle. Colour reproduction is extremely accurate both to the eye and to the camera with a CRI of 95 while colour temperature is easily adjustable from 2,000 to 10,000K for a wide choice of variable colour or white shade


projections. Additional colour tuning is possible through a green-shift adjustment and virtual gel library to more precisely match the white balance for the camera. The KL Panel XL’s LED array includes multi-zone control for dynamic colour access, visually interesting eye-candy and realistic reproduction of effects like fire, lightning, emergency vehicle flashes or a variety of strobe effects. The soft light luminaire includes smooth 16-bit dimming and selectable dimming curve modes for programming ease, as well as a high-speed electronic shutter and strobe. Measuring 763.8mm by 306mm, a four by two section control option provides additional creative capabilities for colour effects and visual impact. A diffuser is included for even softer projections as are adjustable and removable eight-leaf barn doors that allow for customised beam shaping and less light spill. KL Panel XL is fully optimised for broadcast and film environments with 900-25000Hz LED refresh rate adjustment for flicker-free

operation. Compact and portable, it can be mounted on a stand or suspended using any standard clamp or the included Junior pin adapter. A rugged housing with impactresistant surrounds and base plate ensure that the fixture can withstand even the roughest handling on the road. The KL Panel XL is fully self-contained without the need for an external power supply and offers power pass through for linking of multiple units. The fixture can be powered remotely through its integrated four-pin XLR 24-36 VDC battery input. Professional control options include DMX/RDM, Art-NET and sACN. It can be controlled manually for stand-alone use using the included encoders and OLED display, providing control of intensity, colour temperature, green shift and other settings. The KL Panel XL is energy efficient for such a bright soft light, consuming 544W of max power, and offers other benefits of LED like greater reliability, a long LED life rating and less maintenance for a lower cost of ownership.


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








Contact Fran at for 2022 media kits and advertising | | |


JOHN SIMPSON Backup – The Technical Entertainment Charity Chair discusses the offer to provide free Mental Health First Aider courses.

Could you tell us a little bit about Backup’s free Mental Health First Aider course? Unusual Rigging has provided funds to enable up to 100 free places for training Mental Health First Aiders in memory of Alan ‘AJ’ Jacobi. It is, at the moment, for any freelancer who has been in the industry for five years. The MHFAcertified course, provided by Music Support, includes four, four-hour sessions with up to 10 participants looking at the various aspects of despair, addiction, burnout, anguish, irritable behaviour, physical exhaustion and avoidance. Once these are identified, it then needs training to open up conversations and identify how to progress these into support and guidance to enable someone to obtain help. What was the idea behind this incentive? AJ was a Trustee of Backup and was a strong supporter in helping those who found themselves in a dark place. His family and Unusual Rigging wanted to do something to further his concern of others and has funded these courses in his memory. Our aim is to train enough people so that in every 20 crew, there will be at least one Mental Health First Aider. This can only enhance the wellbeing of the production and crew and lead to less isolation. Music Support has been providing these courses for many years and they are geared towards the support of those in the entertainment industry rather than general commercial organisations. Why are these courses so important? Freelance technicians, particularly in the touring world of entertainment, endure many stresses including being away from their family and friends, isolation, strained relationships, poor diet, few personal breaks, long physical


“Our aim is to train enough people so that in every 20 crew, there will be at least one Mental Health First Aider. This can only enhance the wellbeing of the production and crew and lead to less isolation.” Backup Chair, John Simpson

hours up to 14 hours a day, trouble sleeping, financial insecurity – when’s the next job? – burnout, addiction, suicidal ideation and little or no plan for life after touring. Most of us are not good at asking for help – except where technical fit ups or get outs require more than one pair of hands – and even worse at asking others if they need help. Trained mental health first aiders will be open to asking where they feel that someone is behaving in a despairing way and maybe help to support and guide to where help is available.

How many people have signed up? Around 20 have signed up so far with the course now starting November, as the production delegation for COP26 used the slot with Music Support in October. This was a separate course and not part of the AJ bursary. How do you take part in the incentive? There are 100 course places available over the next 12 months and people can sign up at: training-courses-workshops/