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TPi AWARDS A behind-the-scenes look at the industry’s favourite night out
CRAIG DAVID A triumphant return to UK arena touring for the singersongwriter and his crew
SIMPLE MINDS The Scottish rockers and their team go global with the 40 Years of Hits Tour
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Issue #270 July / August 2022 Editor Stew Hume Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7702 054344 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Assistant Editor Jacob Waite Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7592 679612 e-mail: email@example.com Digital Content Manager James Robertson Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7725 475819 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Let’s wind the clocks back a second. It’s February 2020 at Battersea’s Evolution London, TPi is celebrating its largest ever awards and excited about a packed year of tours and trips across the globe. Then… Well, you know the rest. However, amid the misery of multiple lockdowns, as months turned into years, the possibility of hosting the TPi Awards became somewhat of a ‘light at the end of the tunnel’. We couldn’t wait to bring everyone back under one roof and speak face-to-face with the fantastic individuals that make up the live events industry. And what a night it was – a true homecoming. We hope those who managed to make it had just as much fun as us. You can read all about the hard-working team that made this year’s event possible on page 10. For those who can’t wait to return to Evolution London, TPi Awards will return to its traditional February date. Make sure you mark your calendar: 27 February 2022! This has been by far the busiest two months at TPi towers. In between Glastonbury [more on that in the next issue], I caught up with Ed Sheeran’s camp in Manchester. If you were thinking that a post-COVID stadium tour might want to scale back production, when it came to the crew behind the singer-songwriter’s latest in-the-round production, this couldn’t have been further from the truth. As I made my way around the Etihad Stadium, there didn’t seem to be a single department that wasn’t doing something new and innovative for one of the most interesting stadium shows of the decade. You can read the full story on page 40. Meanwhile, Jacob had to dust off the old passport for his first excursion Stateside for NAMM Show and InfoComm Show, while also checking in with major players in the Vegas events market. If that wasn’t enough, he also reported on Craig David and Simple Minds’ latest UK tours on pages 60 and 70, respectively. As I write this, we’re already in the midst of planning our next round of shows to cover and companies to visit. The show must go on, as they say, and we’re just happy to have a production pass to see how it goes. Until next time, Stew Hume Editor
Senior Account Manager Fran Begaj Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7852 336728 e-mail: email@example.com Account Manager Matilda Matthews Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7413 555978 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Editorial Director Peter Iantorno Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7763 233637 e-mail: email@example.com Chief Executive Justin Gawne Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7768 850767 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Accounts Lynette Levi / Sarah Miller: email@example.com Mondiale Group Chairman Damian Walsh Graphic Design & Production Dan Seaton: firstname.lastname@example.org Mel Capper: email@example.com Cover Photo Ed Sheeran Photo: Ralph Larmann Printed By Buxton Press • www.buxpress.co.uk Annual subscriptions (including P&P): £42 (UK), £60 (Europe), £78/$125 (RoW). Subscription enquiries to: Subscriptions, Mondiale Media Limited, Strawberry Studios, Watson Square, Stockport, SK1 3AZ, UK. Tel: +44 (0)161 476 5580 Fax: +44 (0)161 476 0456 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org www.tpimagazine.com www.tpiawards.com
TOTAL PRODUCTION INTERNATIONAL is a controlled circulation magazine, published 12 times a year by Mondiale Media Limited under licence. ISSN 1461-3786 Copyright © 2022 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 2022 US annual subscription price is 117USD. Airfreight and mailing in the USA by Agent named Air Business, C/O WorldNet Shipping USA Inc., 155-11 146th Avenue, Jamaica, New York, NY11434. Periodicals postage paid at Jamaica NY 11431. US Postmaster: Send address changes to Total Production International, Air Business Ltd, C/O WorldNet Shipping USA Inc., 155-11 146th Avenue, Jamaica, New York, NY11434. Subscription records are maintained at Mondiale Media Ltd. Waterloo Place, Watson Square, Stockport, SK1 3AZ, UK.
ON THE COVER 40
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The loop pedal aficionado and his loyal touring family push the boundaries of events technology.
TPI AWARDS 2022 08 Meet this year’s winners. 10 Discover the production and team involved in this year’s awards.
24 The Green Award nominees. EVENT FOCUS 32 JACK WHITE
Lüz Studio curates the singersongwriter’s production design.
34 MAX COOPER
Video Illusions helps push the boundaries of A/V for the DJ.
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36 PRIMO MAGGIO
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PRODUCTION PROFILE 60 CRAIG DAVID
A genre-spanning production where visual narrative and musicality coalesce.
70 SIMPLE MINDS
Glaswegian rockers and their crew embark on a world tour.
FESTIVAL FOCUS 78 Knebworth, Tante Mia Tanzt, Ultra Miami and Festival de les Arts.
PRODUCTION FUTURES 86 Continental Drifts Lab, AED Audio supports The BRIT School, and meet The Reytons’ young crew.
GEAR HEADS 91 HOF’s latest moving light truss. 92 AV Stumpfl launches the Pixera
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93 DPA Microphones releases its 4055 kick drum microphone.
94 DAS Audio reveals its LARA line array system.
INTERVIEW 96 Load Cell Rental reflects on
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3T’s tour tech training for underrepresented groups.
Silverbox Studios launches a unique rehearsal space.
FEEDBACK 106 Vectorworks; and Steve
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BACK CHAT 110 Adlib Managing Director, Andy
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TPI AWARDS 2022 The live events industry’s favourite night out returns, with 30 awards up for grabs as well as a chance to catch up with industry friends and colleagues face-to-face for the first time in two years. TPi catches up with the technical team that made it all happen.
Words: Stew Hume Photos: Joe Okpako
Who would have thought back in February 2020 that our annual soiree would be one of the last times that the industry would be able to gather under one roof for more than two years? Despite COVID-19 being a concern, nobody was to know how devastating it would end up being for the events sector. After such a trying two-and-a-half years, the TPi Awards 2022 saw more than 1,200 of industry’s best and brightest return to Battersea’s Evolution London to socialise face-to-face and celebrate the survival of the sector. Comic, Suzi Ruffel took the event in her stride as well as getting through the ceremony in record time. A few notable mentions this year were SLX, who walked away with the inaugural Green Award – a brand-new accolade which recognises the work being done to reduce the environmental impact of the events and touring market. You can read more about this year’s winners as well insights from some of the other nominees on page 24. Another worthy winner was Adlib’s Andy Dockerty, who was nominated for the Outstanding Contribution Award. In a touching video piece, the audience heard what Dockerty had done for the industry during this trying
time, which acted as a reminder for all as to what the industry has been through over the past few years. You can read his Backchat on page 110. TO THE DRAWING BOARD Planning for this the show started way back in 2021, when a date of May 2022 was set for the event – a change from the traditional date in February to reduce the chances of COVID-19 restrictions being in place. This was the first year that the sponsorship and marketing was handled by TPi’s Fran Begaj, who wanted to ensure the experience for both guests and sponsors was of the highest standard. With the TPi Awards being an event for the live events industry, the pressure is always on to ensure that the festivities meet the high standards that guests are familiar with. With the rough idea of an old-school theatre theme and rudimental sketches drawn up by Justin Gawne and Stew Hume, several suppliers and manufacturers were amassed to make this event a possibility. These included Robe, NEXO in collaboration with the Sound of Music, 80six, Observatory, Strictly FX,
TRUCKINGBY Brian Yeardley, Spartan Crew, Lang, Green Hippo and Epson. Following its own successful return to live events, with its inaugural show in Barcelona taking place just weeks before the TPi Awards, ISE assumed the role of headline sponsor. SETTING THE STAGE Production Managers, Ryan Esson and Jess Webb of GoTo Live returned to the fold this year. Having overseen the TPi Awards for up until 2019, GoTo Live provided its expertise and an incredibly safe pair of hands. “There was something very special about bringing our industry together for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic,” Esson stated. The brief was to create a stage that gave equal real estate to lighting and video departments as well as replicate the façade of a theatre used in the promotional material. “While we were really busy on the day, the entire team found time to appreciate the honour of putting on a live event for our own industry, and I think many of us felt emotional about that,” Webb commented. Esson concluded: “From a technical point of view, TPi is always a pleasure for us; to work
with some of the best suppliers in the industry and have the ability to shape the look and feel of the room is like being in a big playpen for us!” Integral to both these elements was Observatory. Featured in TPi’s respective coverage of Andy C and Enter Shikari shows this year, Observatory’s creative flair was on full display when Simon Harris and Ben Sheppee created mood boards to expand on the retro theatre theme. “It was a real pleasure to be involved in this legendary event – especially the first one back after the pandemic,” commented Harris. “The feeling of the industry being back played a major role in developing the creative for the intro; a virtual fly through of a city buzzing with life and music. This theme ran through all the awards and into the bar area where we also had the opportunity to showcase a back catalogue of Observatory visual content. Aside from our creative contribution, it felt very positive to be back among so many friends and colleagues all reporting their busy workloads.” Like many, the past few years have been a bit of a rollercoaster for Observatory. “Back in 2020, we were having to let people go and now in the past few months, we’ve been building the team back up again, with three new staff joining
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us in June and July. This has also required us moving to a bigger office. Essentially, our twoyear plan has been fast tracked to six months.” The company has recently invested in a render farm to cope with the increased demand along with a Rokoko motion capture suit, which is built into the company’s Unreal Engine workflow. Along with investments, the team recently produced full scenic content creation and delivery at Electric Forest festival in Michigan, USA – not to mention the full content creation for BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend. LIGHTING One of TPi’s longest running supporters, Robe returned to TPi Awards to provide an impressive arsenal of lighting fixtures during the night. A rear LED wall that had been intentionally designed as a cross enabled returning LD, Nathan Wan and the lighting team
to create more lighting-focussed looks than in prior years. The latest Robe moving lights were used by Wan and associate LD, Andy Webb to deliver a look that sat alongside the vintage theatrical theme of this year’s awards. Webb described the experience as “both great fun as well as a huge challenge” to design within the timeframe. Aiding Wan and Webb in their lighting endeavours were Olivia Charneux, who ran the Main Room console, and Tom Taylor, who operated the Avolites Tiger Touch II console in the bar, as well as four Robe NRG students, who operated the RoboSpot systems. A key objective of the lighting design was to increase the depth of the stage’s threedimensionality. Robe’s new PAINTE fixture took centre stage quite literally, with a fiveby-five grid of 25 fixtures rigged above the
stage reinforcing the geometric approach. This enabled numerous distinctive shapes and patterns to be created with the light sources. Robe’s new 360° rotating TetraX LED battens were deployed for vertical bookending of the side screens. Key light for the show came from three Robe T1 Profiles and four BMFL FollowSpots, all operated via four RoboSpots Base Stations. Away from the stage, the main room was lit with 28 Robe FORTE fixtures fitted with Robe’s HCF (high colour fidelity) Transferable Engine. With the FORTE being Robe’s next generation of high-powered LED fixtures, lighting the entire room represented a good proving ground for the fixture, with them having to cover a huge area. In the foyer and bar areas, Wan and the team selected 20 Robe CUETE fixtures, another new release from Robe, along with 20 LEDBeam 150s to provide some
atmosphere for the pre- and post-dinner receptions. Once again, Avolites was the desk of choice for the Awards, with the team utilising the brand-new Diamond 9. Wan commented that this is a “very special show” and noted that with a large part of the industry present. “The pressure is on to create an outstanding look, which is very much down to the hard work of a whole team on the get in and show days – and not just those working physically on the show, but all the logistics and admin that happens in advance to ensure the latest technology is available.” Robe UK Head of Marketing, Theresa Gibson concluded: “It was fantastic to support the TPi Awards again and celebrate the industry’s latest achievements recognising incredible talent and creativity. A night full of fun, jubilation, and unity reliving the passion and excitement of live shows, while having the opportunity to reconnect with industry friends and colleagues!” SFX Also joining the visual team this year – and a first for the TPi Awards – was Strictly FX, which provided several gags for the event, from “prop” light by the photo wall to create a vintage red-carpet feel to a large confetti hit to round up the ceremony. “This was a celebration of getting back to normality, supporting the event and a soft launch of Strictly FX UK,” stated Shaun Barnett, Chief Operating Officer for Strictly FX. It has been a busy few years for Strictly FX having bought the assets of Quantum to then establish Strictly FX UK. “We’ve
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spent the time during the pandemic getting the company up and running. From moving to London premises, testing and maintaining equipment, and building a team of staff.” This move allowed the team to plan and purchase new innovations. “We’ve collaborated with some of the world’s leading laser manufacturers to produce new lasers that we are very excited about.” Barnett continued by stating what the rest of the year was looking like for the SFX company. “We could not be happier with 2022,” he explained. “We were honored to supply the Platinum Jubilee Concert and Pageant, have had a blast with three headline acts at Glastonbury Billie Eilish, Kendrick Lamar and Four Tet. We were back with Biffy Clyro at Download and Edinburgh, not to mention Adele at British Summer Time.” Strictly FX are also out on world tours with Coldplay, Billie Eilish, Killers and A$AP Rocky. LED Another familiar name re-joining the TPi Awards supplier roster was 80six, who handled the video requirements for the show. In the past, the video delivery for the Awards has been shared by several companies, but 80six took on the whole event on this occasion.
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For the main room, ROE Visual CB3 was selected for the on-stage screen as well as the IMAG screens in the rear of the room. Above the bar in the central area, 80six created an LED structure that would replicate the look of the theatre façade from the promotional material, made up of CB3 and CB5 LED panels. In the main room two disguise gx 2c media servers ran the onstage content while Green Hippo Hippotizers ran the screens in the bar. Processing was handled by Brompton Technology SX40s while a Blackmagic PPU looked after all the camera cuts from the four URSE broadcast cameras that were out in the main room. “Seeing everybody in the same room after so long felt surreal,” stated 80six’s Dan Hamill. “Being reunited with clients, old friends, and industry contacts, forging new connections and networking like in the good old days brought a much-needed sense of normality.” Despite the turbulent time for the industry, 80six has been incredibly busy throughout 2020 and 2021. “When in crisis – innovate,”
stated Hamill while outlining how the past few years had been for his company. “We turned our hand to emerging tech, bringing mixed reality solutions to live production. It propelled us to extend our service offering to include real-time tech and to pilot alternative performance spaces.” After working on various iterations of this style of performance space, the success of the venture saw 80six reopening its studio in May 2022 in a permanent location after significant expansion earlier in the year. The brand-new 11,734 sq ft black box studio in Slough is now established as a multipurpose facility featuring bespoke LED stages and the latest real-time technologies for delivering xR and in-camera visual effects. “Q1 has been particularly busy for us as we’ve undergone massive expansion, doubling the footprint of our studio and moving our tech warehouse to the adjacent unit next door,” stated Hamill. “The company has been growing at speed this year; we’ve filled nine positions so far and we’re currently promoting eight
new ones. We’re looking at a busy summer of events. We’re fresh off the tour with Years and Years and Madison Beer, covering 22 cities in 14 European countries.” While on the topic of video elements. The TPi Awards had additional support from LANG who supplied two large LED screens to display the table plan for guest. There was also support from Epson who supplied a number of projectors for the main bar area. AUDIO NEXO, in collaboration with supplier, Sound of Music, returned to provide the audio backbone of the show. After the event, TPi caught up with NEXO’s Gareth Collyer to get his thoughts on the return of TPi Awards. “The TPi Awards’ design is always stunning,” he began. “The main point for us is the social perspective. If I tied our involvement in the awards to potential sales, it would not work – also we put a large target on our back every year, as there is no more critical audience than your industry peers – but the social side and
networking opportunities are second to none and we are proud to sponsor the event.” Collyer continued by reflecting on the past few years for NEXO. “During the pandemic, we used the time to work on some projects that previously we’d not had time for,” he stated. “These were both structural and in product development. The crisis saw the company become more involved in the install sector. The positive news is that even with a huge reduction in business, during this period NEXO was able to maintain its entire workforce, which was very important to us.” Collyer closed by speculating on what the rest of 2022 will look like for NEXO. “2022 is looking very positive from the perspective of projects in both rental and install,” he enthused. “The big issue for everyone is supply of raw material to keep the wheels turning. It will certainly be a challenge for the entire industry.” CREWING A newcomer to the TPi Awards this year was Spartan Crew who as well as supplying crew for the event, also walked away with the prestigious Favourite Crew Company awards on the night. “It was a great feeling to win, to have the recognition of our peers and for ourselves to feel the reward of such hard work and personal
commitment to a business that has transformed our lives and hopefully helped to enhance the lives of our crew,” commented Spartan Crew’s Ciaran Boylan. He went on to highlight how the year had been for Spartan, with the business keeping busy during the pandemic, lending its services to local councils and the NHS. “We lost a lot of crew members to other industries and despite having a strong core of crew remaining, we anticipated large challenges in recruitment, onboarding and training new crew.” At the start of last summer, the company saw the tide beginning to turn in its favour as business began to return. “That said, we were unable to get the required crew applying from our usual avenues,” Boylan said. “We had to innovate new ways to attract people to the industry who may not have known about the sector otherwise.” As well as this impressive recruitment drive, Spartan has now also expanded its internal team, with a host of office staff to cope with the high demand. In total, Spartan supplied
46 crew and one fork operator for a total of 327 combined hours. Back to the Awards, Boylan spoke of what it meant to be part of this prestigious event. “It was an honour to be asked to supply our crew for the event, to work alongside the industry’s best and show what our crew can do in front of the TPi Awards audience was a massive deal for us.” TPi’s Fran Begaj concluded: “We would like to thank our sponsors, supporters and those that turned out in force despite the busy time of year, it was amazing to have so many of you involved in an event of this scale.” www.tpiawards.com www.gotolive.co.uk www.robe.cz www.nexo-sa.com www.pahire.com www.80-six.com www.spartancrew.co.uk www.brianyeardley.com www.green-hippo.com www.epson.co.uk www.languk.com
Thank you to everyone who sponsored, supplied and supported the TPi Awards 2022 and congratulations again to our winners
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THE GREEN AWARD To mark the inaugural presentation of the Green Award at the TPi Awards 2022, we hear from this year’s winner, SLX, along with other notable nominees.
With sustainability now higher on the agenda than ever before and more artists aiming to be more environmentally conscious while out on the road, it has fallen to the live events industry to create solutions to lower the carbon footprint for live entertainment, with everyone from manufacturers to rental companies and touring teams coming up with innovative initiatives to do just that. Having seen and reported on many of these measures in action over the past year, TPi introduced a new category for the TPi Awards 2022 to recognise the important work being carried out in this area: The Green Award. Open to individuals, companies or organisations that have gone above and beyond to make the events industry more sustainable, the award was judged by a panel of industry experts such as Production Manager, TPG Sustainability Facilitator and Head of a Greener Touring, Jamal Chalabi; Shambala CoFounder and Sustainability Lead and Chair of Vision: 2025, Chris Johnson; Julie’s Bicycle and Project Lead for Vision: 2025, Chiara Badiali and Vision: 2025’s Graham Brown.
SLX: GREEN AWARD 2022 WINNER This year’s winner was Bristol-based, turnkey production provider, SLX, which was credited for its dedication to putting sustainable practices at the heart of its business model. This includes the recent appointment of Phoebe Currie, SLX’s full-time Sustainability and Social Values Manager, and a commitment to reach Net Zero by 2030 under the Bristol One City Climate Change Ask. “SLX has shown leadership and an in-depth understanding and commitment to reducing climate impact and has an impressive track record of taking action to reduce emissions,”
commented Green Awards Judge, Chris Johnson. “If only all companies were as forward thinking and effective as our winner.” The Green Award was accepted by Phoebe Currie, who commented: “It was fantastic to see sustainability front and centre at the TPi Awards – it really shows a movement is taking place within our industry,” Currie said. “I am thankful to work for a company that is so receptive to change and conscious of the climate change challenge.” Since taking on the role at SLX, Currie has overseen a companywide initiative to calculate its 2020/2021 carbon footprint and a baseline of emissions. From this data, the company has pledged to the Bristol One City Climate Ask to be Net Zero by 2030. The organisation has already invested in two electric company cars,
three electric car chargers, and has prioritised hybrid generators run on HVO over diesel for all its events. SLX has also almost completed switching its rental stock from energy-hungry and inefficient tungsten to LED fixtures. However, the company’s largest sustainability investment this year is on a 120KW solar panel system, which will sit on the roof of its warehouse in Avonmouth. CEO, Alastair Currie, added: “Sustainability is a core pillar of the business here at SLX. It is deeply embedded into everything we do, and this is why sustainability was one of the key focuses of the rebrand, which we launched earlier in 2022. We will continue to invest in sustainable policies and technology.” www.slx.co.uk
NOMINEES DIGICO DiGiCo was put forward for its Quantum range, which showcases the company’s drive to deliver and improve on the sustainability of live touring. The range is in line with the company’s holistic view across its operations, product design, product use and product end of life to ensure that the company minimises its carbon footprint and maximises the sustainability of operations wherever it can. DiGiCo operates under an overarching environmental policy to consider environmental issues and reduce, re-use and recycle wherever it can. The company also adheres to a Research and Development Eco Design Policy launched in 2018, which covers its approach to the design of all its products, with a particular focus on weight, power consumption, recycling, and general
eco-conscious design. As a result, the whole Quantum line of products have been developed with these principles in mind. One example of this has been using computerbased Finite Element Analysis to ensure that the products are as light as possible, without losing strength and rigidity. In the case of Q2 and Q3, this has allowed a 34% weight reduction on the arm rest extrusion. The company has even made steps to reduce its overall carbon footprint with efforts including signing 100% renewable gas and electricity contracts covering all its UK operations, so that there are no carbon energy emissions from either its Head Office/R&D centre or factory. It even plans to take this one stage further in the future with the fitment of solar panels at its factory site. www.digico.biz
EQUINOX Touring specialist charter broker Equinox Charter and sister company Equinox Travel recently launched its Equinox Enhanced Sustainability Initiative (EESI), designed to analyse and compare the sustainability efforts of aircraft operators. When making aircraft and operator choices, music and entertainment clients can now request bespoke and market-tailored sustainability assessments of suppliers from a flight operations perspective alongside other ESG factors. Equinox is currently the only music specialist travel company to undertake sustainability assessments at this level. As an intermediary between client and operator, as well as between private and commercial flight operations, it is uniquely positioned to help clients make informed decisions. The company’s three-tiered approach involves varying levels of operator analysis conducted by its Sustainable Flight Operations Consultant, Douglas Corbett. It is based on a unique 100-point sustainable flight operations checklist, taking into account technical and non-technical operational actions, human factors, corporate culture, flight planning and more. Lower tier assessments look at a combination of existing carbon mitigation
culture, ESG efforts, published technical data and other available third-party information – while middle-tier analysis goes a step further and involves direct contact with the operator. Top-tier assessment involves a much deeper flight operations review with expert analysis and direct flight observations, sustainability line checks, as well as an in-depth evaluation against real-world criteria such as culture, ground operations and crew training. Among the driving forces behind the initiative is the growing demand for comprehensive ESG reporting. Equinox recognised that artists, film production businesses and other media organisations have an increasing accountability that can often be a challenging prospect when it comes to travel. To help clients address this challenge, the travel company is offering enhanced sustainability reports which help clients understand and communicate their chosen operators’ efforts. Through EESI, Equinox also seeks to balance some of the ‘greenwashing’ and misinformation in the industry – including false claims, self-applied certifications, and an apparent over-reliance on carbon offsetting initiatives. www.equinox-charter.com
FOCUSRITE With the goal of becoming sustainability leaders within music technology, Focusrite is looking to set the standard for industry peers to strive for and emulate. “There’s no single decision that will solve climate change; it’s going to take thousands of tiny choices by everyone involved,” explained Focusrite Head of Sustainability, Andy Land. Having been in his full-time sustainability role for the past year, Land described how the only way the environmental impact of a company like Focusrite can be reduced is to measure its impact to the highest degree possible and set clear actions for staff to deliver on. As a result, Land cannot point to any one action or initiative, but instead claims that the most valuable thing is the collective work to change mindsets towards sustainable thinking. Independently, Focusrite is creating a sustainability data toolkit that has enough bespoke information to work out the impact of a product over its lifecycle for every combination of brand, product, route to market, year sold, and country sold to. This tool is now beginning to show results, as it calculates more than 17,000 custom product footprint ‘profiles’, giving the company an insight on how its product footprints change if, for example, it is sold to a country with a more polluting electricity grid, or how the logistics footprint changes if air freight is used. Using this same toolkit to demonstrate how sustainability can be embedded in design, Land believes Focusrite can even measure products in development by extrapolating, allowing the
company to reduce the environmental footprint of a product before it’s manufactured. Focusrite has already made steps by switching to recycled aluminium on Scarletts, which has a footprint reduction in the range of tens of thousands of tonnes of CO2 annually. Crucially, customers won’t notice this change as the product quality is identical to before; this is something Focusrite is maintaining with every change to become more sustainable. “We’ll continue picking off initiatives that reduce our footprint further, always
MEYER SOUND The PA manufacturer’s latest PANTHER Large-Format Linear Line Array Loudspeaker was Meyer Sound’s first line array designed and engineered with sustainability as a primary goal. With the PANTHER, Meyer Sound has redoubled its longstanding corporate commitment to green touring. PANTHER was designed for a reduced carbon footprint in manufacturing, transport, and operation, and Meyer Sound’s continuing focus on sustainability carries through to all future product development, campus facilities, technical support initiatives, and education programmes. The design criteria for PANTHER required a substantial reduction in size and weight compared to prior generations of line array loudspeakers as well as at least a 20% reduction in power consumption to achieve the same acoustic output. The result is a system with a peak acoustic output exceeding 150 dB SPL and weighing less than 68kg. The reduction in power consumption is an important factor regardless of the application, whether
touring or installed. What is critical for portable applications is the size and weight for truck packs, as cutting back even one truck can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by many metric tonnes over a North American touring schedule. All of Meyer Sound’s line array solutions have reduced the amount of truck space needed through their integrated self-powered approach. The target with PANTHER was to take this further and produce a self-powered solution that would be lighter than some of the competitors’ conventional systems. Development of smaller, lighter, and more energy-efficient loudspeakers is only one aspect of Meyer Sound’s allencompassing commitment to sustainable business practices. The company has been recognised as a Bay Area Green Business since 2016 – a distinction that reflects focused programmes to reduce energy and water consumption across the Berkeley campus, and to work toward zero manufacturing waste. www.meyersound.com
being steered by the data to make the right decisions,” stated Land. “Part of our strategy is that in addition to getting our own house in order, we need to be doing everything possible to influence the whole music tech industry to become more environmentally sustainable. Climate change is a global problem, so it’s only through collaboration that we’ll achieve the outcome that we want, and I welcome any other music tech companies that want to start a discussion with me directly.” www.focusrite.com
POWER LOGISTICS Power Logistics was asked to design and implement a bespoke Energy Management Solution that incorporates an electrical package built specifically to meet the requirements of the Extreme E motorsport series. The series sees electric SUVs competing in extreme environments around the world which have already been damaged or affected by climate and environmental issues. The organisation is committed to having a net-zero carbon footprint by the end of its first season touring the globe. Key elements of the brief included monitoring all energy used onsite during the build, race weekend and breakdown; analysing the data and ensuring that energy usage was optimised at every stage; utilising the data gathered at each race to improve the
system and make energy and carbon emission savings race on race; updating and introducing energy reducing technologies on the back of the findings; and reducing the amount of energy used and minimising carbon emissions wherever possible. The solution devised by Power Logistics project managers and R&D team monitored energy and fuel usage of all the touring elements at each race circuit. This included the design and implementation of a bespoke distribution system that incorporates a smart energy monitoring system built specifically to meet Extreme E’s requirements and to work in tandem with the Hydrogen cell technology for the car charging network. Constant monitoring of the energy and fuel usage of all touring elements at each
race circuit was a cornerstone of the solution. Through detailed analysis of car charging and utility circuits, the company accessed and analysed vital information, in minute detail, both in real time and post-race. Energy saving solutions included generator sets run on sustainably sourced Green D+ HVO, which were the main source of site power before being replaced with hybrid battery power and solar panels. All site lighting was fitted with sensors so that that lighting only came on between dusk and dawn. The company’s in-house-designed Battery Energy Storage System was used to power the Command Centre. This was tailored to take the loads from the Command Centre and was purpose built for the application. www.powerlog.co.uk
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Award-winning UK-based video equipment supplier Universal Pixels has been servicing music artists globally in the delivery of their visually engaging tours and events for five years. The company has specifically honed services within theatre and live arts performance and most recently, Universal Pixels has been working as a trusted supplier to film and TV production companies in a market where it develops new virtual production workflows. As a pioneering video supplier working in several entertainment sectors, Universal Pixels has made numerous steps to show its commitment to tackling climate change. These have included maintaining 100% renewable energy use across all its locations; achieving
a 6% reduction in emissions intensity per £1m revenue on its 2019 baseline; maintaining carbon neutrality through the greenhouse gas emissions reductions and the acquisition of high-quality carbon offsets; and embedding energy efficiency within the evaluation process when procuring new equipment. Commenting on its strategic dedication to green and conscious business, Commercial Director and Co-Founder, Phil Mercer said: “Tackling climate change is not something that any one company can do in isolation. That’s as true for the events industry as it is for every other business. As such, we’re taking an active role in how the wider production industry addresses the climate crisis through our involvement with Tour Production Group (TPG),
The Sustainability in Production Alliance (SiPA), Music Declares Emergency and Albert, the environmental organisation aimed at reducing waste and carbon footprints in the TV and film production industry. “We seek to share best practice and learn from others to drive change across the whole industry. Any carbon emissions remaining after our reduction efforts (termed our ‘residual emissions’) will be offset through the procurement of high-quality, PAS 2060-compliant carbon offsets. Over time, we will reduce our reliance on carbon offsetting by eliminating our residual emissions in other innovative ways as they become feasible or adopted within our industry.” www.unipix.tv
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JACK WHITE: THE SUPPLY CHAIN ISSUES TOUR Lüz Studio Creative Director, Matthieu Larivée reflects on the unique production design behind Jack White’s aptly-titled world tour.
Photo: Lüz Studio
Jack White’s latest live campaign, The Supply Chain Issues Tour, celebrates the release of two new records, Fear of the Dawn and Entering Heaven Alive. Embarking on his third collaboration with the former White Stripes singer, Lüz Studio Creative Director and the tour’s Production and Lighting Designer, Matthieu Larivée enlisted the support of audio, lighting and video vendor, Solotech, to transform an ambitious design from the sketchpad to stages across the globe. “Jack White concerts are unique because there is no set list, everything is live, with over 100 songs for him to perform,” Larivée began. “Songs are either performed on the piano or his electric guitar, so we have assembled a reactionary road crew able to create moods based on his everchanging performance style.” A series of aesthetic blocks are programmed with lights, video and automation to ensure cohesion. “Every block has its own identity, a series of visual and lighting programming cues, which the LD or VD are able to manipulate and interact with each other,” the designer commented. The main production design saw a 40ft wide by 24ft deep stage decorated with an Austrian curtain above, a back wall video screen made up of ROE Visual CB5 LED panels housed in Air
Frames, flanked by IMAGs and extendable back and side lighting towers on each side of the stage. The dynamic stage design also boasted a 6ft 2in Hawaiian statue inspired by one of White’s latest music videos. A pedal board which controlled the lighting of the statue was positioned by the bass player on stage. Depending on the song, the colour changed in accordance with the music – red for White Stripes, green for Raconteurs, and blue for Jack White’s solo material. “The screen adds depth to the stage and a live camera crew helps connect Jack with the audience. However, we had to be wary not to upstage the band’s performance,” Larivée said, highlighting the famed blue colour scheme of the singer-songwriter’s live shows. “Jack likes that the audience dives into his world,” Larivée was keen to point out. “Creating content solely with a blue colour palette is tricky, as it often tricks your eyes, if you hit a white punch, it looks yellow. Thankfully, the contrasting black and white IMAG mix with blue lighting created a unique contrast for the audience.” As for the video content, Lüz created 3D set extensions lit by volumetric lighting which, according to Larivée, is a signature for the studio. “We usually make designs favouring par cans, which create a
nice volumetric beam. Recreating single pixels that can zoom in and out, all render-free, was a huge step up for us,” Larivée said. ”We had to create a grandMA fixture type that goes with it because it’s not a video file, it’s a virtual lighting fixture run by Notch VFX and disguise gx 2c media servers. Our crew did a lot of R&D to allow it to be run live with no latency.” The Lüz Studio team was made up of: Production and Lighting Designer, Matthieu Larivée; Production and Lighting Assistant, David Rondeau; Video Content Producer, MC Dufort; Video Content Designer, Dave Pawsey; Interactive Designer and Media Server Programmer, Philippe Marquis; Notch Designer, Simon Rouhier; as well as Motion Designers, Maxime Lortie, Sebastien Deschenes, Maxime Rouleau-Villeneuve, Camille Joubert, Emilie Fortier and Jeanne Joly. The wider touring team meanwhile featured: Production Manager, Adam ‘Cutty’ Richards; Tour Manager, Lalo Medina; Lighting Director, Michelle Sarrat; Lighting Crew Chief, Kevin Chan; Video Director, Tyler Chapel; Video Content Director, David Leonard; Video Crew Chief, Olivier Tremblay. www.jackwhiteiii.com www.luzstudio.net www.solotech.com
MAX COOPER @ ROUNDHOUSE Video Illusions helps to push the boundaries of A/V to stage Max Cooper’s latest immersive experience against the backdrop of London’s Roundhouse.
Photo: Video Illusions
Equipped with a dance floor, London’s Roundhouse proved to be an ideal space for Max Cooper’s latest live project. Providing wrap-around technology and semitransparent screens, Video Illusions helped engulf the London-based producer and around 1,700 electronica and techno fans in an unforgettable multisensory experience. “This is something I’ve been developing for six years,” Cooper began, explaining his handson approach. “I have always loved the visual aspect of live shows and I wanted to control my visuals live, which are inspired by past albums and collaborations.” Immersion plays a big part in Cooper’s musical and visual approach. “I always try to create a shared space with the audience. I’ve been experimenting with gauze layers to create 3D effects and visuals, which draw in the audience,” he noted. For this show, translucent LED screens were joined to create a 33m-wide continuous image around the audience, with an additional 10m by 5m screen used as a back wall. “I operate all of the audio and video using two MacBook Pros and control devices – namely, an Akai APC40 and an iPad running Lemur, which yields multiple custom control surfaces. Those feed
MIDI into the audio machine running Ableton and that feeds OSC into the visual machine running Resolume,” Cooper explained. “The initial challenge in controlling my own visuals was figuring out how to get a seamless link to what I was already doing with Ableton, and a personalised form of improvisation and expression in the visual realm to marry up with what I like to control in the audio at my shows. After some failed attempts, I found Resolume and enlisted the support of Mattijs Kneppers to help control the interfacing devices.” It then took several months of work to figure out how Cooper could link hundreds of parameters in Ableton and Resolume in a way which provided him with an ‘audio-visual jamming system’. “The system was there but I needed to put in the time to figure out what audio changes should sync to what visual changes,” he said. “I ended up with a matrix of visual effects which I can control from inside Ableton so that I can work with any combination of effects which are assigned to audio filters and triggers.” In terms of the multi-projection setups and the use of gauze layers, the main challenge facing Cooper and Video Illusions was providing a stable signal transmission to all of
the projectors. Cooper used eight independent visual layers, which required 100m-plus signal transmission runs. “Getting the projector placement right with just a day to get in was key,” Video Illusions Managing Director, Nick Whiteoak commented. “We run all our projector setups through a 3D simulation to double check all lens calculations. This is especially relevant when using Ultra short throw lenses which often have no zoom.” As well as supplying kit, Video Illusions provided a team of two video engineers for the show, who were supported by local crew. “We loved working on this show. The result was visually stunning with fantastic content. We look forward to working with Max again, as we’re huge fans of his work.” Cooper summed up the ‘special’ experience. “Roundhouse is a beautiful space and it was rare for me to get such a wide space to work. Promoters, LWE Events were great at helping me create the biggest experience we could with the help of the Video Illusions team,” he concluded. “We’re already planning the next project – which is going to be even bigger!” www.maxcooper.net www.videoillusions.net www.roundhouse.org.uk
PRIMO MAGGIO ROMA iCompany deploys a discreet K-array sound reinforcement system and production infrastructure for a glittering 10-hour show celebrating Labour Day in Rome.
Photo: Roberto Panucci
After a two-year shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Primo Maggio, a traditional concert to celebrate Labour Day in Italy, returned to Rome’s Piazza San Giovanni with some 60,000 people in attendance. Known locally as ‘concertone’, the musical event was organised by Italy’s trade unions and attracts established acts alongside rising stars from the Italian music industry. It is used as a platform to promote workers’ rights, confronting issues ranging from discrimination against women to safety in the workplace. This year, the implementation of the K-array sound reinforcement system and production for the event was entrusted to iCompany, whose slogan ‘at work for peace’, marked both the return to work for entertainment workers and the tragedy of the war in Ukraine. A cast of more than 50 performers entertained the audience in a glittering 10-hour show watched by three million RAI television viewers. K-array Product Specialist, Klaus Hausherr, assumed the role of Systems Designer, and was tasked with manning the main PA between the LED screen and the stage, with 18 FirenzeKH7 line arrays – nine on each side – and a front sub line consisting of nine Firenze-KS8 subwoofers and 10 Firenze-KS5 subwoofers in a digital arc configuration. Eight further Mugello-KH2P small format line arrays were deployed as frontfills. “My goal was to create as much uniformity of sound as possible over the whole area, and Firenze’s Slim Array Technology was crucial in that process,” commented Hausherr. “Several factors were at play here – firstly the loading of the transducers is designed to result in a fast and stable impulse response that allows good directivity control, favouring powerful and extremely defined sound.” According to Hausherr, the ‘partially open rear design’ created a ‘cardioid directivity pattern’ which limited resonances inside the box and hereby minimised the risk of feedback due to ‘low-frequency energy build-up’ on stage. “Firenze’s Electronic Beam Steering technology was also a contributing factor because it allowed us to aim the combined
output of an array to give the required coverage while flying a perfectly straight hang, with no angles, benefiting a very fast assembly and a very small footprint at the hanging points – and that saved time and simplified the process of rigging the PA,” he explained. Four identical delay systems consisting of eight Mugello-KH2 line arrays and four subwoofers were flown to provide far-field coverage, two systems in the tower behind the FOH position, open about 30° to each other to increase their coverage, and two systems in the delay towers furthest from the Plaza. K-array also provided additional equipment in the form of two Mastiff-KM312 wedge monitors, two drumfills consisting of a DragonKX12 audio point source on a Thunder-KS3P subwoofer, as well as a flown side fill system of four Mugello-KH2P and two Thunder-KS3P subwoofers on each side of the stage. “I was very satisfied with the result,” concluded Hausherr. “The crew were delighted, and the PA system, despite being almost invisible, performed well over a wide volume
range without ever going into clipping. I also received a lot of positive feedback from the sound engineers who followed during the day.” FOH Engineer, Enrico Romanelli enjoyed his experience with Firenze. “I was pleasantly surprised by the performance of this system. We mixed about 40 bands of varying genres throughout the show and the PA system always responded optimally.” Romanelli praised the ‘perfect response’ of the sound system when it was put to the test at the hands of multiple engineers. “Those who took turns at the console during the day confirmed my impression. All of this, not to be underestimated, from a very small PA with very little visual impact – it’s basically like having an invisible sound system. How many times over the years have we been faced with customers who told us, ‘the sound system must not be seen!’ Surely there is no better choice, what can I say – much more than just a positive experience,” he concluded. www.primomaggio.net www.k-array.com
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AVOLITES D9 POWERS THE SCRIPT’S VISUAL SHOW MIRRAD’s Jamie Thompson and David Cohen reflect on the origins of The Script’s latest tour and highlight the importance of the brand-new Avolites Diamond 9.
Words: Stew Hume Photo: MIRRAD
With the world of live events returning to the masses, Irish three-piece The Script set out on the road with a brand-new production design, courtesy of MIRRAD. The dynamic show boasted a huge amount of LED surfaces as well as automated video cubes hung above the band. MIRRAD’s Jamie Thompson and David Cohen picked up the story: “This tour was a ‘greatest hits’ campaign, drawing inspiration from the band’s past five tours,” began Thompson. “Normally, we have something to draw inspiration from, such as album artwork, but that was not the case this time.” MIRRAD pitched three concepts to the band, the third of which was based on ’geometric shapes‘.
“Unsurprisingly, this was the idea that the band was drawn too,” laughed Thompson. “This meant designing a show without any real artistic direction, which was quite difficult.” MIRRAD, in collaboration with BlinkinLab – which provided content – created 17 complete original treatments for the band’s set. Aiding the duo in creating the show was the new Avolites D9. Marketed as an integrated visual controller with video built into its DNA, it seemed like the ideal tool for a show which had around 700sq m of LED surfaces. As long-time Avolites users, it was only natural for MIRRAD to adopt the new surface to integrate with the Ai servers that were specified for the tour. “I think we took orders for one of
the very first Avolites Sapphire Touch consoles a decade ago, so it’s nice to have a new board to work with,” stated Thompson. “Heading into such an intensive design period on a new desk was daunting and there was an adjustment period as I had to familiarise myself with where all the buttons were on the desk. That said, it’s great to have a package that works straight out of the box and I didn’t need to call tech support once.” Cohen mused on how having both video and lighting on the same platform added a level of synergy that you ‘don’t get using other platforms’. “We were able to have all the camera feeds on the desk, ideal for us as there are a lot of integrated IMAG looks with content on various screens on stage and in the air.” Thompson also commented on the brandnew software updates that were used heavily during the show. “’Timeline’ is a phenomenal feature on the desk and makes it so much easier to deliver a show of this size,” he noted. There were three different video products out on the show including PRG PURE10 transparent screen along with ROE Visual MC7 AND MC12 LED panels. Fixture wise, the designers selected PRG Icon Edges, GLP JDC1 and Robe Tetra 2. In tandem with the PRG GroundControl system, Claypaky Scenius Unico were used for Spots. “Like most productions, there was a case of having to work with what was available,” stated Cohen, commenting on the issues facing the industry, particularly with the supply chain. “Now the project is behind us, I’m glad we went with this concept-heavy show design,” concluded Thompson. “It worked well and was a very successful tour.” www.thescriptmusic.com www.mirrad.com
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THE MATHEMATICS TOUR The loop pedal aficionado and his loyal touring family once again defy convention by pulling together a stadium show with each department pushing the boundaries of their respective fields. TPi catches up with the team at Manchester’s Etihad Stadium to learn more about this audacious in-the-round production.
Words: Stew Hume Photos: Ralph Larmann
Back in 2018 when TPi last covered Ed Sheeran on his record breaking ÷ [Divide] Tour, it seemed to be somewhat of a new chapter for the singer-songwriter. Having ascended the ranks of academies and arenas throughout the 2010s armed with just a guitar and a loop pedal, Sheeran was suddenly breaking attendance records at stadium level with an iconic production that never shied away from the fact that this was one man on stage – no backing band or dancers but one person rewriting the record books. After such a career high, what is the next step? Well, there’s always ‘in-the-round’. As the thousands who have already seen the artist’s latest production will attest, this is not a standard in-the-round production. From a fully automated central stage, Sheeran remained the focal point throughout the evening while performing under a giant LED halo, which was held up by six masts, immersing the standing ticket holders in the action of the show. To learn about the origins of this design, TPi grabbed some time with Show Designer, Mark Cunniffe and Production Director, Chris Marsh. “As soon as we’d finished the Divide Tour, Ed was asking what we should do next,” reminisced Marsh, several weeks into the +–=÷x [Mathematics] Tour. “He wanted a show that would be iconic and something that people would remember.
Armed with that knowledge, Mark went away and started putting together some designs.” With the in-the-round concept already on everyone’s minds, Cunniffe was keen to remedy one of the biggest issues he has with this type of show. “I didn’t want to create a show that is just held up by four posts,” he began. “I hate the idea of having many in the audience’s view blocked by a physical object – especially as Ed is only one guy on stage.” After toying with a few other ideas, most of which were left on the cutting room floor, Cunniffe busied himself with creating a brandnew design – the likes of which had never been toured before. “I got in touch with Jeremy [Lloyd] from Wonder Works to see if touring a cable net system was possible. Before I showed a design to Ed and management, I wanted to ensure it was even possible.” After several wind tunnel tests, Cunniffe got the nod from an engineering standpoint that his show was indeed feasible. Jeremy Lloyd of Wonder Works reflected on his first impressions when Cunniffe proposed the idea. “To my knowledge, a cable net system like this has never been toured before,” he stated. “My first impressions were that this is ambitious but totally achievable. I like a challenge and it was clear that this would be challenging and fun in equal measure.” The design process started by assessing the
overall geometry of the design and ensuring that it would fit in a multitude of venues. “The build process starts with levelling the mast bases; then the masts are installed at their inclined angle of 15° and are supported with temporary buttresses,” explained Lloyd. He continued: “Once all masts have been erected, the structural cables are installed, then the buttresses are removed. At this point, some advance equipment – chain hoists, power and data cabling, and some lighting fixtures – is installed on the cable net and masts. When universal production arrives, they initially install the halo mother truss. This increases tension in the structural cables, which in turn stiffens the entire structure.” From that point, everything is coordinated in teams of two from each department working on opposite masts to evenly load the structure. The final element to be rigged on the cable net is the main audio arrays, which are suspended from the cables adjacent to the halo. During installation of the rigged elements, the stage is built to one side of the masts then, when all rigged elements have been taken to trim, the stage is rolled into place. “Touring this system requires a different mindset,” stated Lloyd. “There’s a very specific procedure which has to be followed during all phases of the build, from assembling the masts, to installing and tensioning the cables, to finally loading in the production equipment.
Without following the correct procedure, the structure would not be stable.” One person that had to adopt this change in mindset was Stage Manager, Matt Caley. “With this being my first in-the-round tour and an entirely new concept, it was exciting and terrifying all at the same time,” he commented. “One of my main jobs is to ensure everyone is doing what they are supposed to be doing, in the right order and troubleshooting issues as they arise.” With such a bespoke set, Marsh knew from the outset that a standard staging company would not be able to create this show from stock inventory. “In addition to Wonder Works, we brought in Stage One, which created the main structure of the show. Although we hadn’t worked with them before, they are ‘the’ staging company when it comes to ceremonies and have years of experience working with cable net systems such as in the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony.” In fact, this tour saw many individuals entering the world of live touring. “We’ve had to bring in experts from other walks of life due to the nature of this show. This is not the type of set you hammer together and requires a great deal of precision. Along with regular rigging and steel guys, we have people who’ve worked on oil rigs and the construction of suspension bridges,” enthused Marsh. CHANGING OF THE TIDE With Sheeran’s tour becoming increasingly complicated, Marsh had to adapt his role. Having previously juggled the roles of Production Manager and FOH Engineer
(and monitor engineer, but we’ll come onto that later), for the Mathematics Tour, Helen Himmons assumed the role of Production Manager. A key member of Sheeran’s previous run, she gave her thoughts on her new role. “We had to separate the roles to give Chris more time to focus on the new audio challenges of an in-the-round show and having a band, as well as overseeing the design and technical aspects of the show. That enabled me to focus on the day-to-day management and logistics of the production and our site teams and crew, as well as dealing with promoters, and vendors.” During the Divide Tour, the production had one advance manager that went to venues for the initial load-in, but due to the scale of this tour, the team opted to have a dedicated site manager and site coordinator for each of the two advance teams. “They are there from the first day steel is loaded in right the way through until it loads out after the show,” commented Himmons. “It works so much better to have a team there from start to finish, providing continuity.” Several key suppliers from previous runs returned to put their stamp on the tour, including: Lights Control Rigging, Colonel Tom Touring, Major Tom, KB Events, Pieter Smit and TAIT. There were also numerous new additions to the party, such as WICREATIONS, Pains Fireworks and The Pantry Maid. Among the returning suppliers were several familiar faces amid the party of 65 crew in the universal team, along with a further 27 in each of the two advance teams. Notwithstanding 84 additional truck drivers on the universal
production and advance teams. “This show is nothing without the people,” asserted Himmons. “At the end of the Divide Tour, we had a crew that really cared about each other, the show and the artist; with friendships that extended way beyond work. That ethos has carried through to this tour and been bolstered by the new members of the team. We could achieve anything with this crew – not because of the quantity, but because of the type of people we have. You can have the best artist, the best show design, PA, lighting and video, but none of it works without the right crew.” SETTING THE STAGE Every part of the production showed signs of innovation before a single chord was struck. “I’ve been using Cinema 4D when drawing packages for clients for a long time, but to take this to the next level, I made use of Real Time Rendering and Unreal Engine to put myself and clients into virtual reality to experience what the show will be,” explained Cunniffe. As well as giving clients a better idea of how the result will look, it was also a design aid. “My biggest concern with taking Ed in-the-round was for those at the barrier,” he explained, noting that the stage had a minimum of 7ft to not obscure the view for those at the front, while still giving enough head room for the technicians working under the stage. During this VR design stage, Cunniffe tried to solve the problem of making Sheeran visible to the full 360° audience at all times. The solution came from TAIT’s fully automated stage, which included a full revolve on the stage edge, as well as automated stairs,
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which rose from the main performance area whenever Sheeran stood in the central microphone position. “The central stage lift is more a functional stage element than a gag,” he explained. “It means that everyone can see Ed.” The speed and fluidity of these automated elements was remarkable. Responsible for all these moves was Kirsten Eddy, who operated the TAIT stage from the circular underworld. “When I first saw a pdf of the stage alone I was a bit disappointed with the amount of the automation I was controlling. With only 14 lifts and one giant revolve, I thought it was going to be a rather slow show to operate. That was until we got to rehearsals. The production much bigger than I thought it would be and I learned how functional and utilised everything I control is – then I got much more excited.” The revolve and scissor lifts moved constantly during the show, controlled by TAIT Navigator to create a raised staircase in the middle of the stage. “There is a camera feed of the stage from the halo so I can see Ed at all times,” stated Eddy. “I can see when he is safely on the centre of the lifts and take my cue off that visual. I also have Estops that control either a specific lift (local) or the entire system (global) to ensure the safety of Ed and everyone else. I can hit the Estop at any time and everything would come to an immediate halt.” With this stage being open to the elements, weather was one of Eddy’s biggest concerns. “TAIT was great in making this as weather-proof as possible with rain covers that were custom made for every drive, motor, and rack. There was a lot of testing needed to ensure it works
properly in the rain.” On the topic of automation, TPi turned its attention skyward to the halo of LED video screen that hung above the stage. This fully automated set piece, along with the chandler lighting elements within, was provided by WICREATIONS and control on site by Kim Bennett-Abbiss and Andy ‘Paris’ Hilton. “Originally, we thought we’d have one company look after all the staging and automation elements, but when we began drawing the show and sending it out to tender, we had to rethink our position. Coming out of the pandemic, we didn’t want to put too much strain on one company, so it seemed wise to divide the jobs,” explained Marsh. “We got the green light back in September 2021,” recalled WICREATIONS Key Account Manager, Koen Peeters. Collectively, WICREATIONS provided automation to allow the halo to move up and down as well as several scenic objects within the structure. The company also supplied the automated rigging for the masts as well as a centralised control system with link ability to third-party automation systems. On site, Bennett-Abbiss walked through the various automation elements above the stage. “We have 18 chandelier units within the halo structure – each of which are powered off Kinesys Evo Drivers,” she explained. “We then also have 12 GIS WI hoists that are split into six groups of two, which lift the 45-tonne halo structure. We then have a further two on each of the six masts, which are responsible for rigging and derigging the show.” With this side of the automation team being so
critical in the build section to the show, both Paris and Bennett-Abbiss often arrived on site early on the build day to hang the halo before equipment was added. “Getting it hung early means it reacts better later in the day,” stated Paris. “The halo is 24 tonnes by itself!” Reflecting on the show, Peeters gave his thoughts. “The most challenging aspect of this project was the fact that everything we delivered was newly developed and custom built – from the halo and mast hoop structures to the WIMOTION hoists, drives and cabling,” he stated. “Delivery times for many components have multiplied compared to back in 2019, which forced us to constantly anticipate.” Despite the challenges, Peeters was incredibly pleased with the show. “The overall clean look, with this giant halo floating in space, the plectrum screens and the mast video hoops suspended from these tapered beautiful ruby red masts makes for a well thought and extremely clean touring set.” The plectrums and chandeliers were designed and manufactured by Twenty Three from Belgium. A VISUAL FEAST With the elaborate 360° stage set, the lighting and video teams had to create a cohesive show to live up to the epic proportions of the design. However, before a single button was pushed on a lighting desk, Mark Cunniffe ensured that he had the right tools for the job. “I got in touch with the main lighting manufacturers way back in 2019 with a very specific wishlist,” he revealed. “I needed all my fixtures to be IP rated as I can’t stand waterproof
jackets and domes, visually. I also wanted a 51,000-lumen LED profile with full colour mixing as well as CTB and CTO wicks,” he noted, adding the caveat that he needed 180 of them. Ayrton fixtures featured heavily on the rig, with 138 Domino LT, 48 Perseo Profile and 22 of the new Cobra laser-sourced fixtures utilised. “Ayrton showed me the prototype for what would become the Cobra – the company’s first laser source lighting fixture,” Cunniffe recalled. “I could not believe the power of them.” Enticed, Cunniffe incorporated them into the design with the Cobras on the circumference of the stage. “They did a great job to deliver them on time – especially with all the supply chain issues,” he praised. “I see them more as a creative tool rather than a functional light, but they provided a great finish to the show.” While talking about new lighting fixtures, the Show Designer also commented on the GLP XDCs that were placed in a trough around the stage. “I’d been a big fan of the Q7 but I wanted something a bit punchier and with a stronger beam that was also IP rated and LED,” he explained. “The XDC ticked all the boxes.” The show was operated by long-serving Lighting Operator, Matt Jones via an MA Lighting grandMA3 using MA3 software. “It’s been a bit of a jump,” he admitted, while discussing moving to a full MA3 setup. “That said, the fundamentals of MA are the same and the software offers some very interesting effect options. The first show was a bit nerve-
wracking, but now we’ve been on the road for a while, it’s becoming second nature.” Due to the nature of Sheeran’s performances, timecode was always going to be out of the question, with the entire supporting crew following the singer’s lead when it came to the timing of songs. Not only that, but he also tends to go off script with the setlist depending on how the crowd is reacting. “We sometimes get a heads-up from the stage manager, but there have been occasions over the years where I think he’ll be playing one song and then he’ll go into another,” laughed Jones. For this reason, Jones has an arsenal of macros to jump to until they know what song is being played. To ensure that the visual show is as tight as possible, the visual team also takes a midi feed from Sheeran’s loop pedal and with that information can have the stop of the foot pedal trigger certain lighting cues. With Sheeran making use of the full stage throughout, it was key to have an effective follow spot solution. Sitting alongside the video team were two Follow-Me operators, keeping up with the singer’s movements. “The Follow-Me system is controlling the Domino LTs with the main goal to keep him visible at all times both for the crowd and the camera feed,” stated Jones. “The tracking information is also sent to the trough lighting to give him more light depending on his position.” Working tirelessly behind the scenes was Lights Control Rigging – TPi Awards 2022
Production Director and FOH Engineer Chris Marsh mixing on his DiGiCo Quantum 7.
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Favourite Lighting Company – which provided kit and crew. “[LCR Director] Mike Oates was an enormous help not just with providing lighting but also in other elements, such as helping get the steel system together. He was at every video meeting in the build up and was the first to put his hand up and ask the integral ‘what if’ questions,” enthused Marsh.” Colonel Tom Touring provided the video elements of the production. TPi got the highlight reel from Video Director, Phil Mead. Due to space constraints, the video team, along with the Follow-Me operators, connected themselves by fibre from the stadium to a converted 45ft trailer that transforms into an OB setup, which is known to the crew as ‘The Loft’. “As a Director, you must be able to communicate with the video team at all times, so being away from the stadium full of fans helps you to concentrate,” began Mead. “There’s a level of anxiety that goes away when you’re in The Loft compared to out at FOH.” Mead streamed IMAG content into two main video surfaces – the halo structure, which was made of ROE Visual Vanish V8T, as well as two giant double-sided plectrum-shaped screens attached to the six supporting masts, which had two sides of ROE Visual CB5. The floor of the stage incorporated BM5 screens to provide more content for those at a higher vantage point, while the ROE CB5H LED hoops fixed to the masts displayed content throughout. In The Loft, Mead controlled all the camera cuts from a Ross Carbonite Black+ – the same desk he used on the Divide Tour with the only update being the addition of a Ross Ultrix router. Also in The Loft were the robo camera
control positions, four disguise gx 2c media servers (three active and one understudy) and Brompton Technology SX40 LED processors to power the video surfaces out in the stadium, all of which are connected by fibres. “The main fibre distribution system was designed by Adam Wells,” stated Mead. “Four MTP 24 fibres feed the show from The Loft to masts one and six. Each 24 core fibre is then distributed further through the system to all the other mast locations providing various video services on site.” A custom fibre distribution box was located at each mast rack. These provide termination to all local services for equipment required at that mast. Connections then continue through the custom fibre system until they reach their required destination. “Where possible, we have reduced the unnecessary waste of dark fibre by utilising MTP12, OpticalCON Quad, and Duo in different parts of the system,” added Mead. The only video presence in the stadium was Ben Lapworth, who oversaw the playback of the video cues as well as the Notch treatments to the live video feeds, all from an MA Lighting grandMA3 Lite. “It’s easier to sequence looks on the MA and launch them rather than directly via the disguise system,” he said. “With no timecode, Ed diverts from the setlist, so you need to be able to make changes quickly.” As well as ensuring the right content is playing for each song, Lapworth was also in control of some of the parameters on the Notch effects that were used heavily on the show – many of which were used on the live footage
Production Manager, Helen Himmons and Production Director, Chris Marsh; Video Operator, Ben Lapworth; Stage Manager Matt Caley; Automation’s Kim Bennett-Abbiss and Andy ‘Paris’ Hilton; The Loft - HQ for the video team during the tour; SFX Head Technician, Dave Fancett.
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of Sheeran. Show Designer, Mark Cunniffe also oversaw the content creation for the production through his company, Twotrucks Productions, and lead Graphic Artist, Matt Cromwell. “The project was far too big for one studio to handle, so I turned to my old friends Vincent Steenhoek and Urs Nyffenegger of Evoke Studios,” Cunniffe noted. Steenhoek and Nyffenegger were given the responsibility of creating looks for a third of the set list and worked closely with Cunniffe during the creative process. “It’s always exciting to be working on a show of this scale and as Evoke was only founded in 2019, this tour was a great platform for us,” said Steenhoek. According to the two creators, the direction from Cunniffe was to create a harmonised look between the IMAG treatments and the content shown on the halo. “Notch was used heavily for many of the IMAG treatments, but we used the platform to produce and prerender much of the content and other 3D looks,” stated Nyffenegger. The 3D looks, such as in the song Bloodstream where Evoke created a 3D render of Sheeran’s head, which then began to bleed tears, was a highlight for both the creatives. “I don’t think there are many shows that have utilised this level of 3D graphics on such a large scale,” he stated proudly. Back in The Loft, Mead was keen to highlight another notable part of the show in that there was not a single camera operator in the pit or at FOH, with every IMAG shot being captured on robotic cameras – specifically the Panasonic UE150. “I think we should be pushing
technology as far as possible, which is why I think this move to a full remote camera solution is a positive decision,” stated Mead. “As every camera out there is the UE150 and has the same chip, it makes grading much easier. The UE150 also has the benefit of having a full frame 4K output and also a cropped HD output. With the two HD-SDI feeds from one camera, I can have a medium shot of Ed and also a cropped close up.” In total, six operators were looking after the 12 cameras with the ability of switching between a mast and on-stage camera depending on Sheeran’s movement. Mead admitted that the operators had their work cut out ‘keeping up with the speed of Sheeran’s movement on stage’. Not only that, but the shape of the plectrums meant shots were often a challenge to frame. “I’ve only ever directed for Ed and we’ve had multiple looks over the years – both in IMAG size and orientation, to fit Ed into some small moving PIPs,” he remarked. I SEE FIRE A new addition to Sheeran’s show this time round was pyro, with Pains Fireworks handling the various visual ‘gags’. “My relationship with Pains Fireworks goes back to when I was 15,” reminisced Marsh, explaining how he used to create audio tracks for large-scale fireworks displays. “I brought them in because I trust them, which is key when working on a production this complicated.” Although more known in the sporting sector, Pains has been making inroads into the touring
sector – notably providing special effects for Rod Stewart’s latest live campaign. Speaking about what the company was deploying for this run at FOH was Dave Fancett, Head Technician for Pains Fireworks. “This tour is much bigger than others we’ve worked on,” he chuckled, as he pointed to the large set on the stadium floor. A team of four, including Fancett manned all the pyro, which included numerous effects, which were triggered on the floor of the stage as well as on top of the halo. “On stage we have 11 flames that are all fired via a Galactus Wireless system, so there are no cables connecting me from my position,” stated Fancett. “We also have a Pyro Digital system, which deals with all the effects in the halo.” In total, there were 24 plates in the halo, which produced a range of effects from smokes and mines throughout the set. Giving his thought’s on the tour was Pains Fireworks’ Sales Director Tim Griffiths: “It’s been fantastic to see the joy the SFX or pyro has brought to Ed’s performances every night. The incredible set design and circular stage were the perfect fit for the daylight coloured smoke mines and the Galaxis L-Flame system.” AUDIO IN-THE-ROUND Despite overseeing the production of such a large show, Chris Marsh still took on the role of FOH Engineer for this tour – a job that also sees him mix Sheeran’s IEMs, as well as the band who have joined him on this tour. Having mixed with Sheeran since the beginning of his rise to fame, Marsh and the wider audio team
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have learned together how to take his one-man loop pedal setup and ensure it has the power necessary to fill a stadium. During the Divide Tour, TPi learned all about the loop pedal – Sheeran’s custom-made loop pedal created by the singer’s audio and backline team. In essence, this provided Marsh the ability to mix each one of Sheeran’s individual loops and treat them as if he were a full band from FOH. With a full in-the-round setup, a few more updates to the singer’s signature loop requirements were required. The first was several different controllers scattered around
the stage to give the singer more freedom to make full use of the space. The solution was four fully IP-rated pedal boards that sent information to the main board in the centre of the stage. Any board on stage could start and stop a track and be used to create new loops. “We are now on our third iteration of the loop pedal – now called the Sheeran Looper – and have taken all the lessons from the Chewie I and Chewie II,” began Dave White, who was responsible for Sheeran’s loop pedals and back-end software. “The actual operation of the pedal hasn’t changed a huge amount, even though the software has been recoded and
engineered from the ground up. We have added patchable samples to Ed’s keyboard so that he can play new material. We can now also use the looper as an amp modeller for some songs that he plays on electric guitar.” The need for a full IP rated solution for the pedals as well as still being able to function on a revolving stage certainly created a few interesting challenges for White and the team. “The pedal boards have been completely reengineered and designed to be able to give Ed the physical comfort of the old loopers with the added IP rating we require,” he explained. “The revolve constantly in one direction
throughout the show, so cable access was not possible. Identifying this early meant that we could design the pedals around a 24v system and power them via battery pack and give them wireless connectivity. We rely on a Cisco FluidMesh Wi-Fi system to deliver the network backbone to keep latency down to a figure, which means that the pedal commands and feedback are instantaneous with minimal packet drop.” In the signal chain, everything remained in the digital domain from the Sennheiser Digital 6000 packs all the way to the amplifier modules in the speakers via AES and MILAN. White closed by talking about his main responsibilities during a show day. “We are constantly monitoring how the software and hardware reacts to different environments and conditions. Our reliance on battery packs and a Wi-Fi network, there are more variables than ever.” White also called the lift moves of Ed’s guitar changes working closely with longserving Guitar Technician, Trevor Dawkins. It was not just Sheeran’s new pedal setup that was brand new, but all the black boxes hanging in the air. With weight saving the name of the game on the Mathematics Tour, it was the ideal project for Meyer Sound’s latest, superlightweight PANTHER system. “We had originally designed the show using the Meyer Sound LEO system as we used last time,” explained Marsh. “We’ve used it for Ed for years and in my opinion it’s the best PA I’ve ever worked with. That said, it is heavy – not much more than its competitors, but we had to be conscious of weight with this setup.” This led to Marsh speaking to John and Helen Meyer Sound about the options for a lighter solution. Fortunately, the PA
manufacturer already had a lightweight solution in the pipeline, so Marsh lent a hand collaborating with Meyer Sound in designing the system. Nine months after the initial conversation, the production got delivery of the first boxes of PANTHER. The tour rig was made up of 212 PANTHER loudspeakers with 14 hangs in two rings. Six inner arrays each were made up of 10 80° long-throw versions, two 95° M versions and two 110° W versions. The eight outer arrays comprised 12 L, two M and two W versions. The three horn dispersion configurations enabled system designers to tailor coverage for uniform levels and frequency response at various distances. For the low end, six flown gradient arrays of 10 1100-LFCs were deployed, while a total of 20 LEOPARD loudspeakers were set around the circular stage as front fill, with low end for the floor supplied by six stacks of three 1100-LFC elements in gradient arrays. The system was so new that the first time Marsh and the rest of the audio team got to hear it was on the first night of the tour in Dublin. “Once it was hung, my System Technician, Charlie [Albin] and I put some pink noise through it and got to grips with the system, but we didn’t get a chance for Ed or the band to get near it,” he chuckled, admitting the nervousness when opening night approached. “I loved it from the start. It has the clarity I was looking for, it stays very flat and doesn’t lose shape or character at low to high levels.” System Technician, Charlie Albin shared his thoughts on the new system. “We worked closely with Meyer Sound’s Bob McCarthy when it came to the system design and Josh Dorn-Fehrmann with the network configuration
for the backbone of the system,” he began. “It delivered on everything Meyer Sound promised – if anything, it exceeded expectations. The fact that the system is just as loud as the previous speaker yet considerably smaller and lighter is truly an incredible feat of engineering.” Albin went on to explain how the setup for this tour changed dramatically due to the inclusion of a full band playing with Sheeran for some of the tracks. “We had to revisit some elements in the mix to ensure the sound would work with a full band while maintaining the impact when Ed was just using a loop pedal,” he noted. The PA setup for this campaign, he explained, was a “from the ground up redesign,” he stated. “There were some major changes in how we usually configure the PA due to the band element.” Marsh gave his two cents on the changing PA configuration. “We always used to set up our arrays in a very specific way to deal with the acoustic guitar in a way that you would not for a band. I often used to feel sorry for some of our support acts for this reason, but as we now had a band playing with Ed, we have created a system that is more traditional in how you would work on an in-the-round show, working with more elements on the desk.” Marsh mixed the show from a DiGiCo Quantum 7. The move up from the SD7 on Sheeran’s previous run has seen him take out some of his outboard gear and use the DiGiCo master processors and spice rack that is built into the console. Marsh also handled all monitor duties for both Sheeran and his band from his FOH position. “We don’t have room on the stage for a dedicated monitor engineer, but as I have
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always mixed Ed’s monitors and everyone in the band was comfortable, there was no need to add an extra person.” One of the tricks which the audio team had at its disposal to ease the monitor demands of the band was the KLANG:kontroller. Members of the band had an interface at their platform. “They haven’t tended to touch them, but it’s a comfort to know they are there,” stated Marsh. He also gave his thoughts on how Sheeran has dealt with the move over to the KLANG system for his IEMs. “He had previously been using a mixture of IEM and monitors, but with the size of this stage, it would need to be so loud on stage,” he explained. “Early in the process, Ed discovered he was going to have to move to an IEM setup. During this move, we learned that he never liked the idea of being enclosed with an IEM-only setup. The beauty of KLANG is that I can ‘move’ elements of the mix that are not as critical and keep the main mix of his guitar and vocal locked in. The system makes everything much bigger.” Marsh also had six-audience mics laid out on the set to add to Sheeran’s mix. “I haven’t had to use any of them,” he laughed, as the audience noise was so loud coming though his vocal microphone. KEEPING EVERYONE GOING “The challenges this year have been numerous, starting with securing the amount of trucks and drivers needed,” stated Himmons, highlighting the logistical elements of the tour. “We decided to split the trucking across two companies to try and mitigate any risk.” Pieter Smit supplied 52 advance trucks and barricade trucks, and KB Event the 31 production trucks.
“Issues such as Brexit have largely been managed by the two companies which is great. That said, there are other issues including the rising cost of fuel and availability of HVO fuel has also been an issue from both a budget and sustainability perspective,” she explained. “It is really nice to work with a production that realised the shortage of trucks for this season in time,” began Steven Kroon from Pieter Smit. “Production confirmed the tour early on securing two groups of 23 trucks on advance systems and six trucks on barricades.” At the request of production, Pieter Smit trucks run on HVO- Renewable Diesel. “Our drivers are more than happy on this tour and production has taken excellent care of our team. They are great to work with and really know what they are doing.” KB Event’s 31 trucks were made up of 26 Megacube Box Artics and five Megacube Curtain Sided Artics all overseen by Lead Driver, Steve Crawley. “This has been a long time in the planning and as such we took to the road in April with pretty much all boxes ticked,” commented KB’s Stuart McPherson. “Although this tour is on a whole different scale to Divide, the schedules are a lot gentler. The biggest challenge was caused by the TCA – the Brexit agreement. KB is one of only five companies that have established bases in the EU as well as in the UK and are therefore able to tour in the UK and in the EU without the extreme shackles placed on other trucking companies. “We are extremely proud to be part of the Sheeran tour team again,” he added. After months of preparation, to see the trucks rolling out and seeing the photos of the first load-in in
Dublin put a ‘very large lump’ in McPherson’s throat. “It’s an amazing tour to be part of. We are very much looking forward to the move into mainland Europe now,” he concluded. SHOW YOUR WORKING You would be forgiven for thinking that any band or production heading out on a stadium tour in 2022 would wish to ‘play it safe’ after two-and-a-half years when having a large number of people in stadiums was unthinkable. What was incredible to hear from the Sheeran camp was that every single department saw a seismic change or innovation to their workflow and challenged the generic touring model. From incredibly intricate engineering of a stage set, to a brand-new, lightweight PA system, all the way to a fully remote camera package, it’s tours like this that make covering live productions so exciting and give an indication of the sheer amount of innovation we are likely to see in the future. www.edsheeran.com www.coloneltomtouring.com www.majortom.cc www.lcr-rental.com www.wonder.co.uk www.stageone.co.uk www.taittowers.com www.wicreations.com www.twentythree.be www.painsfireworks.com www.pietersmit.com www.kbevent.com www.thepantrymaid.com www.eps.net www.buffalopower.co.uk
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CRAIG DAVID: HOLD THAT THOUGHT UK ARENA TOUR 2022 Craig David returns to the stage with TS5 and their tight-knit touring team for the first time since 2017 to present a genre-spanning production where visual narrative and musicality coalesce to form a truly multimedia spectacle.
Words: Jacob Waite Photos: Sinclair Wilkinson, Shirlaine Forrest and TPi
Four years, one global pandemic and a redesign in the making, Craig David, TS5 and their production crew descended on UK arenas to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his landmark debut album, Born To Do It with the long-anticipated Hold That Thought Tour. With two decades of genre-spanning discography condensed into two hours of stage time, audiences were treated to a narrative-led production design boasting clean edges, bright neon colours, a giant inflatable moon, palm trees, sand dunes, as well as a tight-knit band and halftime TS5 set. With a year’s notice to put together this ambitious touring campaign in 2018 (“a rarity even pre-pandemic”), Production Manager, Joel Stanley of Production Value, was enlisted by long-time friend and Tour Manager, Mark Friend, to sit down with Craig David and his team and put together a budget for his grand return to UK arena stages. Working closely with performance design studio Sinclair Wilkinson, the proposed production design was split into three parts – a band set, a TS5 set and a closing greatest hits set – spanning, visually, through time zones and locales. However, just as the tour was about to make headway, the COVID-19 pandemic brought proceedings to a screeching halt.
“We were one of the first tours to be cancelled, and while some of the elements of the original show design remained, we have completely reimagined and scaled back this production for design and budgetary purposes,” Stanley said. With reschedules and revisions under their belt, Stanley outlined the logistical orchestration involved with the three-part show: “Our biggest challenge was deciding where to put the TS5 riser while Craig and the band were performing. In the end, we settled on these big Kinesys pods that hide the backline,” he recalled. “Mark Friend’s schedule also sadly ended up clashing with Ed Sheeran’s latest tour, so we didn’t end up working together.” In Friend’s absence, Sam Thomas of Stylus Productions was brought in to fulfil tour manager duties. “It’s been like stepping into an old pair of shoes,” he began. “It’s great to be back in familiar surroundings again making new friends and business relationships and rekindling old ones. Come show time, we see the culmination of everyone’s efforts – a great band, a great performer and a lively audience enjoying a great show.” Despite the shifting timeline, technical suppliers were locked in from 2018. “We remained loyal to our original vendors – Neg
Earth, Video Design, Capital Sound, and KB Event,” Stanley noted. “Popcorn Catering was brought in later as, sadly, our original caters didn’t make it through the pandemic.” The team devised an A show with Kinesys and automation, as well as a B show for smaller arenas. “Trim heights have been challenging when we go into the likes of Brighton, Bournemouth, Plymouth and Cardiff arenas,” Stanley reported. “Staffing is also difficult.” Given the strain on touring crew, Stanley made a conscious effort that there were no load-ins before 8am. “I wanted load-outs to be two hours long, with stuff packed into the trucks smoothly. Thankfully, everything has stayed true to form, other than last-minute requests like adding a 25-tonne truck to transport delays,” Stanley said. “We are glad to be back. However, people are generally not fully fit. Other than some livestream projects in summer, most UK tours took place in late 2021, which is why I wanted a later load-in. I’ve made a real effort to ensure that everyone is as well rested as possible, with a focus on their mental health,” he explained. “Everyone is struggling to cope with the demand and event managers, venue owners and promoters are grateful that we come in later and bring everything we need with us.” The
production crew supplied their own barriers, FOH platforms, and camera risers. “We’re supplying these so the facilities, cleaning and events management teams in each venue no longer have to finish at 2am on one event and have to come back three hours later for us,” Stanley commented. In closing, he enthused: “Craig and his management team have been a pleasure to collaborate with. This has genuinely been one of the most fun and enjoyable tours I’ve ever been involved in.” ‘A LONG TIME COMING’ “We had been touring with TS5 for a while until 2016, and then Craig’s solo work exploded following the release of Following My Intuition,” FOH Engineer, Peter Whitelaw and Monitor Engineer, Ash Wilkinson informed TPi – having spent the best part of a decade on the road with Craig David projects. “His last solo UK arena tour was in 2017, so this has been a long time coming,” Wilkinson noted the interactive nature of Craig David’s performances; particularly during TS5 – the only part of the show not run to timecode. “With TS5, we wanted a tight
pick-up pattern, so we tried a Shure KSM9HS microphone and the super-tight hyper cardioid pattern helps to get a nice crisp vocal. He loves the sound of it – particularly a crisp top end in his ears and out front for his wedges and J-Series sidefills without feedback,” he said, gesticulating to two boxes and a sub aside on the stage, which the artist used as his ‘comfort blanket’, with additional low end on stage at the request of the drummer. d&b J-Series was the PA system of choice, two M2 wedges were used behind the DJ booth, while the engineers mixed on DiGiCo consoles – a Quantum 338 at FOH and a Quantum7 in monitor world. “We’ve mixed on DiGiCo consoles for as long as we’ve been touring with Craig. It’s a reliable desk and perfect for what we require with this show – they’re also readily available in most regions,” Whitelaw said. “There is no other console able to do what I require for this gig,” Wilkinson added. “It has functions that no other desks have.” For outboard, Wilkinson tapped into two Rupert Neve Designs 5045 primary source enhancers for vocals, while Whitelaw made use of Waves plug-ins. The band and TS5 all
used IEMs. “Craig is so tuned in with them he can probably tell you what preamps he’s got,” the engineers noted. “What we’ve worked to achieve with this setup, as much as possible, is to digitise inputs. All the radio mics and wireless guitars are on Shure Axient Digital via AES, and all our playback and keys on stage are on MADI fed directly into an Optocore loop. “The only analogue elements on stage are drum mics,” Whitelaw said, praising the tour’s audio vendor. “Capital Sound has serviced us for years and they’re great – especially Account Handler, Martin Connolly. We have had the same core team of technicians on the road with us for a long time.” ‘LEARNING HOW TO ADAPT AND CREATE ART WITHIN RESTRICTIONS’ With Craig’s album release imminent, Production and Lighting Designer, Daniel Richardson, representing Sinclair Wilkinson, began redesigning the show in January 2022. Really Creative Media created on-screen content from the storyboarded narrative that Richardson developed for the show. Before production rehearsals, Richardson and Lighting Director, Matt Arthur spent 10 days cue
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Production Coordinator, Lizzie Graham, Phil ‘Tico’ Ryder, and Production Manager, Joel Stanley with Head Rigger, Jerry Hough; LED Technician and Camera Operator, Neil Hughes, Video Crew Chief, James Crossley and Video Engineer, Mark Eisen with Media Server Operator, Ben Gittos, Video Director, Jamie Cowlin and Camera Supervisor, Bruce Selkirk; Tour Manager, Sam Thomas; Lighting Director, Matt Arthur; Monitor Engineer, Ash Wilkinson; FOH Engineer, Peter Whitelaw.
stacking structures for each song, creating a show file and programming in WYSIWYG. “This show has evolved over the past three years – the story we’re telling on stage now feels much more meaningful, we are delving into Craig’s past, present and future with a narrative of Craig the journeyman,” Richardson said. “It’s Craig travelling through distant lands, through his cities London and Miami, culminating in an Ibiza beach party!” When it comes to lighting, Richardson praised his right-hand man on the road. “Matt is rock solid with perfect timing. We’re all in safe hands with him behind the desk.” Arthur, who modestly referred to himself as the lighting ‘maintenance man’ on the road, picked up the story: “Daniel has created a lovely looking show. My job is to keep it running smoothly and looking good each night, making slight tweaks to keep the standards high.” The lighting cues were linked to video clips. “Dan’s idea of a vignette to soften the edges of the video with palm tree overlays was genius as it removes the harsh edge of the video wall, blending the content in with the real palms. The mixture of content, camera work and lighting with soft vignette edges and the moon is great,” Arthur said, highlighting Richardson’s ‘creative eye’ during the magenta/amber lighting design for the track, Ain’t Giving Up. “The narrative of night-to-day trajectory is refreshing. It’s a well crafted show. Full credit goes to the entire team.” This project marked one of Arthur’s first forays into operating an MA Lighting console. “I’m so happy to be progressing down the MA track because it’s so widely used on the road,” he admitted. “Dan has been a great mentor and the entire Neg Earth crew work hard to make the show the best every day. It’s nice to be back on the road working with people at the top of their game.” The show opened with an Airworks Inflatables moon descending with a moody, night-time aesthetic akin to the 22 album cover. A mixture of video content and lighting was designed to fit the mood of each song. Hilly landscapes, lakes, reflections of the moon, a desert landscape with twinkling stars,
and the aurora borealis with mountainous terrain spanning from freeways to cities were among the key content looks. “Really Creative Media went all out, filming long drives on the freeway to create content of our journey into the cities, perfectly fitting songs like Walking Away. As the show progressed, we pushed real footage with colour grading to fulfil the brief of Craig as a ‘journeyman’,” Richardson explained. “Craig is returning to arenas after a lengthy absence, so we wanted to make an impact with the content,” Motion Designer, Alex Vipond of Really Creative Media said. “The first half of the set was difficult for us to create because it relied heavily on drone shots spanning several locations, particularly at night, which throws up problems. We used Unreal Engine to create a lot of these visuals, such as panning shots over a snowy lake with trees.” There were also lots of ‘easter eggs’ embedded within the visuals content, such as a clock structure and cubes torn straight from The Time Is Now and Born to Do It album artworks, which only the true fans would notice. “It would have been easy to have gone down the route of cheesy ’90s MTV revival act, but the reality is that Craig has evolved as an artist and now boasts over two decades of genre-spanning music, so the content has to be reflective of that,” Really Creative Media Creative Director, Jack Fox noted. Palm trees were brought in by Palmbrokers to reference Craig David and TS5’s Miami links. Neon lights shaped into the figure ‘22’ were made by Light Initiative, while Hangman dressed the set with sand dunes. As David travels through various landscapes and cities during his set – from the streets of London to Miami for sunrise – the screens lower behind the band and backline, as the set enters ‘party mode’. “The logo has been Craig’s staple look during TS5 shows. For this tour, we modernised it, transforming it from a simple monochrome logo into something more impactful by adding animation, colour overlays and background footage for the arena-sized shows and to
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match the pace of the content, the party vibe and fill the gaps on stage from where the band left,” Vipond explained. “The TS5 section of the show makes it more interesting and challenging for us when it comes to creating content,” Fox added. “As that portion of the show is not on timecode, it varies each night and Craig likes to feed off and perform songs based on the reaction of the audience. Our content must support that. Working with an artist at this level open to experimentation is refreshing, and we enjoy it.” For lighting design, Sinclair Wilkinson selected a mixture of brands. “As a company, we like Martin by Harman MAC Quantum Washes and Auras, as well as GLP JDC1s. Robe BMFL Spots and Blades have been good workhorse fixtures,” Richardson said. A RoboSpot system with four followspots were housed in BaseStations, with 12 BMFL Blades situated on the front truss for followspot, key light and palm tree illumination. MAC Auras were also used to uplight the palm trees, while Quantum Washes were used for ‘top down’ looks, with JDC1s backlighting the band with pixel effects. The TS5 DJ booth featured a video screen, while the band riser boasted two levels with a video screen, as well a central video back wall for content.
“We use Martin by Harman VDO Sceptron fixtures to line the trusses and risers to intermix the video and create a contrasting neon look, which is ideal for TS5, Miami content and cityscapes,” Richardson remarked. The lighting rig consisted of three fingers of truss per side, from where an Airworks Inflatables moon would fly into the middle of the truss fingers on Kinesys and sit above the central screen. Each truss was lined with Quantum Washes and Sceptrons. Side trusses boasted five BMFL Spots and Sceptrons along the inner edge, facing the stage, with additional Sceptrons along the top of the risers. JDC1s were placed either side of the stage with Quantum Washes for side light, while a row of BMFL Spots were situated upstage, under the screen, with Sceptrons lining the risers and downstage edge to “accentuate” and “highlight” the structured staging design and break up the video during the ‘Miami’ portion of the set. “With a few elements automated, you inevitably have cables hanging, which we wanted to hide from the audience, so Neg Earth did an amazing job of harnessing an automatically retracting extension cable, which allowed power to travel with the moon in a discreet manner, without coils involved,” he revealed. According to Richardson, it was important the video content stayed fresh and
exciting like a daytime Ibiza club for the TS5 portion of the show. “Really Creative Media made striking content loops to fit the theme of each song, which we triggered in disguise via the lighting console,” he explained. “Matt also has the ability to manually overlay various logo loops and strobing colour effects on the screen.” With seven band members on stage at a time, in addition to Craig, Video Director, Jamie Cowlin had the tricky task of calling the shots. A long lens camera was located at FOH, with robo cameras located stage right and one around drums and keys. Video Crew Chief, James Crossley operated a camera housed on a track using a x14 lens to pick up the ‘relationship’ shots between the band and Craig David. A x22 lens camera was operated by Bruce Selkirk during the TS5 set for a DIY aesthetic, while the other camera stayed predominantly on Craig David or the band throughout the show. “The robo cameras have been interesting due to the size of the band on stage. The range of shots add glue to the show, highlighting the talent of musicians – particularly the drummer, who loves interacting with the camera. Each show can change depending on the feedback from the audience,” Cowlin reported. “We feature a lot of the crowd and broadcast them on the upstage wall using a mirrored effect.”
The Video Director referred to the reverse shots with Craig David and the crowd in the background as among his favourite looks. “Hanging on that reverse shot where we see how the audience interprets David is quite a powerful image,” Cowlin remarked. Media Server Programmer, Ben Gittos collaborated with Richardson, Arthur and Really Creative Media to power the visuals. During the initial stages of the project, the collective went into a breakout room to begin programming the base of the show without seeing it in space. “There have been tweaks along the way, and naturally, the show you start with is not the one that you finish with,” Gittos explained. The show was half timecode, half live DMX. On each of Gittos’ layers/tracks, he had a base timecode layer of content, with DMX layers on top controlled and programmed by Arthur at FOH, who can bring content on the risers and upstage wall, which provides him creative control from his lighting console. “It’s great to be back with such a good team for my first tour of 2022,” Gittos concluded. “Now, we’re learning to adapt and live and create art within COVID-19 restrictions.” www.craigdavid.com www.sinclairwilkinson.com www.productionvalue.co www.stylus-productions.com www.rcm.tv www.negearth.co.uk www.video-design.co.uk www.capital-sound.co.uk www.kbevent.com www.popcorncatering.com www.lightinitiative.com www.palmbrokers.com www.hangman.co.uk
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SIMPLE MINDS: 40 YEARS OF HITS TOUR Glaswegian rockers, Simple Minds and their touring crew present their signature sound to over 18 countries, paving the way for post-lockdown world tours.
Words: Jacob Waite Photos: Thorsten Samesch, Casey Steinmiller and Output Communications
Simple Minds’ latest live campaign, 40 Years of Hits Tour, sees the Glasgow-formed band traverse the globe with over 80 shows in more than 18 countries – including a raucous homecoming show at OVO Hydro – at a time when global touring is generally considered uncharted terrain. With four decades worth of material to share with reinvigorated audiences, each show was built on the ingenuity and familiarity of a tight-knit crew navigating a COVID-19 secure pathway through the ever-changing goalposts, legislation and legal hurdles involved in assembling and touring a show. Due to obligatory rescheduling and date shuffling associated with staging shows in the COVID-19 era, the crew started with the arena package, then had to drop to a theatre package. With a couple of larger shows in the middle of the run, they collaborated with their technical suppliers to produce a sensible rig for the majority of the shows, coordinating local supplements as needed. Britannia Row Productions supplied audio, Lights Control Rigging provided lighting and rigging, while Universal Pixels handled video. Production Manager, Glen Thomson was pleased to retain the services of Phoenix
Bussing, while UK-based TRUCKINGBY collaborated with Stokholm Transport A/S to cover the European legs of the tour. “Brexit is the biggest pain in the neck at the moment,” Thomson explained. “Until recently, COVID-19 was a close second, but that’s becoming less of a challenge with each week as regulations ease around positive cases.” Thomson spent most of the lockdown period working for ITV as a COVID-19 Production Manager, so he found himself with a wealth of relevant knowledge when it came to advancing the production. “We implemented some fairly strict COVID-19 protocols and brought an extra person on the road to manage this. Beyond daily testing and rotating out crew who tested positive, it didn’t have a great deal of impact on the workflow,” he added. “Dressing rooms were still off-limits to all but essential crew, and there were no after-shows to get in the way of a load out.” The crew started with the arena package, which ran from London to Hamburg, after which some kit returned to the UK. Thomson recalled Liverpool to Dublin back-to-back shows, as well as a following travel day to Amsterdam as some of the biggest logistical challenges of the campaign. “We had to produce four separate
carnets to cover all the kit movements. To make things more difficult, this run was just when customs at Dover were having a meltdown, so we had to reroute through Hull to Rotterdam, arriving late in Amsterdam,” Thomson reported. “Thankfully, our exceptional crew achieved all this without any bother.” By the time the crew reaches the end of the tour in August, they will be approaching their maximum stay of 90 days in Europe – meaning those of the crew without a European passport will be unable to return to Europe until the end of October at the earliest and won’t gain back enough days to make a European tour viable until the end of the year. “We keep hearing rumours of ‘visa-free touring’, but it hasn’t happened yet,” Thomson stated. “The government’s response has been limp and toothless – I fear for the future of UK touring crews if they can only enter Europe for 90 out of every 180 days.” However, despite the headaches of Brexit, crew and kit shortages, Thomson, above all, was pleased to be back on the road. “It’s great to be back on the bus with this touring family,” he said. “Hearing the crowd as the band walks on always reminds me why I do this job. By August, we’ll have done 80 shows in 20 weeks,
but the band aren’t stopping there. We have a few interesting one-off events they’ve asked me to be involved in that will take this to a whole new level.” ‘LEFT-FIELD THINKING AND CATALYST GYMNASTICS’ Lighting Designer, Mark Wynn-Edwards collaborated with Visual Director, John Minton on a bespoke design, which required what Thomson referred to as ‘left-field thinking’ and ‘Catalyst [media server] gymnastics’. “The results speak for themselves – it’s a highimpact show that takes up remarkably little truck space.” The main design saw four flown trusses supported by video and light carts on the floor to create a wall of light and video. For WynnEdwards, the enormity of the project dawned on him while sifting through four decades of album artwork. “A huge amount of thought has gone into creating a design that not only commemorates four decades of artistry but is versatile enough to look the same regardless of the size of venue,” he said. The lighting rig boasted ‘workhorse’ Claypaky Mythos fixtures, Martin by Harman MAC Aura, Atomic and Viper Washes along the front truss in addition to a Robe BMFL followspot system. Driving the show was a High End Systems Hog 4 console and Catalyst media servers. “I use all the technology that I
know to get the best out of my ideas,” WynnEdwards remarked. He referenced a sold-out show at Belgium’s Sportpaleis Antwerpen with over 20,000 fans in attendance as one of his highlights of the run. “It was a noisy riot of a show,” he stated. “It’s amazing to be back and a little emotional at times – I’m glad to be back where I belong.” ‘CELEBRATING 40 YEARS OF HITS’ This was the first time that Universal Pixels (UP) had worked with Simple Minds and their production team. UP Director, Phil Mercer picked up the story: “We were originally brought in by Robin Scott in late 2019 and completed production rehearsals in February 2020, prior to the tour’s inevitable two-year postponement due to the pandemic.” Once the tour was back up and running, UP was tasked with providing the upstage video screen, which played a significant part in the overall look of the UK and European arena show design. UP supplied LED comprising three custom onstage carts with 25mm ROE Vanish, 15 small flown screens with Leyard CLM 10, and two 45 sq m custom shaped IMAG screens with Leyard CLM10. UP also provided 3G for a PPU with three operated camera channels and four Robocams. The tour’s Catalyst Media Servers were provided by Wynn-Edwards. To assist Video and Visual Director, John Minton on the road, UP also deployed four
Production Manager, Glen Thomson; FOH Engineer, Olivier ‘GG’ Gerard; Monitor Engineer, Michael Gibbard and Systems Engineer, Dan Fathers.
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trusted freelance crew led by Crew Chief, Steve Jones. “Mark Strange, UP Project Manager, and I are enjoying working with Glen Thomson immensely. We’ve been very impressed with how he has expertly navigated the logistics of the COVID-19 restrictions that have been staggered and lifted across various territories,” Mercer continued. “It’s been great to see this production come together after the enforced delay and we are proud to be a chosen tour vendor that is able to support Simple Minds in celebrating an incredible 40 years of hits. It’s quite the achievement!” ‘CREATING ART FOR AUDIENCES’ “Every night, I render the artist’s music with the greatest care and integrity and make the energy and soul of the band come across to the audience to create emotion that binds everyone. It’s my deep commitment to their work,” veteran FOH Engineer, Olivier ‘GG’ Gerard said, explaining his process. L-Acoustics K1 and K2 sound systems were used for the arena legs of the tour, while the latter was the go-to setup for the theatre tour that followed. GG mixed with a Solid State Logic SSL L200. His impressive range of studio-quality outboard gear included an SSL Fusion and Avalon 747 sp on the main bus, lead vocal channel processing with a ELX8 distressor and BSS 901. GG’s bass channel was rounded out with an ELX8 distressor and a Tubetech MMC 1, a multi-band compressor to maintain the readability of the bass. Bricasti M7, TC R4000, and lexicon L300 were used for external reverbs in addition to a range of plugins like Spa transient, AMS and Plate revels via an UAD Rack and Rupert Neve Designs compressors. “This show is programmed on my desk. As I’ve toured with the band for a long time, I have 100 songs on the desk. I work with snapshots as the repertoire spans 40 years of material,” he explained. “My passion is to find the right colour for every song, to reproduce the flavour of the original versions. If you
have the right sounds in the right place, you are doing the right job.” GG harnessed multitrack recordings during the rehearsals to find what he refers to as ‘the code’ of a song. “The artist has spent months making and recording a song, so every detail matters when it comes to mixing live,” he explained. “Music is an intelligent process – I must find out how it works. Gradually, as the tour goes on, I spend a lot of time tweaking and refining the process. “Normally, you have the chance to build up the show during the club shows and then hit the arenas, however, we didn’t have the option this time around,” he added. “Thankfully, this is one of the best live bands on the circuit, so they know their craft and can surpass themselves under pressure.” Shure Beta 91 and AKG DV12 mics were chosen for the kick, Earthworks DM20s for the snare and toms, DPA 2011 on cymbals, DPA 2028 on the backing vocals, with Shure beta 58a for lead vocal and guitars on kempers. “I have a strong relationship with Brit Row. They’ve been supporting us since 2012 and deliver a great service,” he said, praising the tour’s audio vendor. “I’m loyal and believe in people above brands.” Monitor Engineer, Michael Gibbard, who began his career with
Britannia Row Productions, concurred: “I’ve worked with Brit Row for nearly two decades; I started my career there and will always try to have them support me with every artist I mix,” he added. “Their bespoke packaging and attention to the smallest detail make my life on the road easy.” An SSL L550 was Gibbard’s desk of choice, run on around 100 channels. For monitoring, he chose a 10-way Sennheiser SR 2050 system, which covered most of the band and technicians. Guitarist Charlie Burchill performed with a pair of d&b audiotechnik M2s in front of him as well as a few spot wedges dotted around the stage. Bassist Ged Grimes played with a single M2 in front of him. Gibbard utilised a MGB for multi tracking, TC 4000 and Bricasti M7 for specific drum reverbs, as well as a Rupert Neve Designs 5045 to cut some of the spill of the BV mics nearest the kit. “I’m about to implement a UAD live rack system I’ve just bought. The stuff on the desk is great, and I use at least seven other reverbs, two delays, transient shapers and a load of dynamic EQ. The G series bus compressor is outrageous and that’s used across several stems I send to mixes on stage,” he reported. “The standout piece of kit, however, has got to
be the SSL; there’s some voodoo magic that happens in the mix bus of that console. It’s so good it feels like I’m cheating!” Gibbard recalled some of his favourite moments of the project. “There is nothing like seeing an arena package come together for the first time during rehearsals – especially having not really touched a desk for a few years. Another highlight was the band’s hometown gig at Glasgow’s OVO Hydro – the atmosphere was incredible, and we all know the Scots aren’t famous for being quiet,” he laughed. “It’s such an incredible feeling to be back touring again. People say you shouldn’t let your job define you. For me, this isn’t a job – it’s a way of life and my way of being creative. I live for it and couldn’t be happier to be back on the road.” GG concluded: “Touring is not only a job; it is a lifestyle. The COVID-19 pandemic not only deprived us of our work, but the way we live our lives. Being able to tour and create art for audiences again has been a blessing.” www.simpleminds.com www.britanniarow.com www.lcr-rental.com www.unipix.tv www.phoenix-bussing.co.uk www.brianyeardley.com/ www.stokholm.tech
FESTIVAL FOCUS 2022 After two years away, the festival season is back in full swing. TPi is on site to bring you the highlights from some of the world’s biggest and best festivals.
C’MON YOU KNOW AT KNEBWORTH PARK Over 160,000 fans party across two days of Liam Gallagher’s C’Mon You Know shows, with support acts including Kasabian, Paolo Nutini and Michael Kiwanuka on Serious Stages 25m TZ Stage. Photos: Graham Brown
Twenty-five years since Liam Gallagher’s last big shows at Knebworth, the former Oasis frontman returned with the anthemic Rock N Roll Star, with a set combining ‘classics’ blended with material from his new album, C’mon You Know. Technical Production Manager, Dick Tee was employed by Festival Republic to support the delivery of the show. Surprisingly, given his vast experience, his only previous employment at this site of so many iconic concerts was a classical orchestra on the lawn of Knebworth House, two decades ago. As ever, Melvin Benn, Festival Republic Managing Director, was attentive to all elements of this project and tailored the site to this audience. Tee picked up the story: “We met Liam’s Production Manager, Davey Murphy; Tour Manager, Neil Mather and Site Manager, Tim Spears beforehand. This is very much a Liam concert with support artists, rather than a festival setup, so we’ve worked closely with his team to make sure the look and feel of the site and production met their expectations.” This was the first big outdoor ‘back to work’ show for a lot of people after the two-year COVID-19 enforced pause. “While we can all remember ‘how to do it’, I think there are a fair few people who aren’t ‘match fit’, so it’s about allowing a bit more time for ‘recall’. There are also quite a few new faces as we’ve lost a fair amount of experience from people crossing into other sectors during lockdown.
Allowances have to be made across the team, with a recognition that everyone will be experiencing their own challenges and we have to pull each other through. If we add in the well-documented issues with the supply chain, labour shortages and rising costs, it has certainly been ‘back to work’ with a bang. I have to say, after supporting the BBC Events team for BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend across the previous week, I’m certainly feeling back in the swing of things,” Tee reported. Sunbelt is now a major player in the sector through acquisition. “They are a new ‘brand’ on-site, supplying trackways, tower-lights and generators, but there are quite a few familiar faces, who’ve stayed with the ‘acquired’ companies,” Tee remarked. It was a known quantity in terms of suppliers, with Serious Stages, Creative Technology (CT) for the IMAG screens, audio by Solotech and lighting provided by Neg Earth. “There has been a great deal of pressure on all suppliers to get back up to speed. I was very pleased to see Serious Stages deliver so well and on time, before we had to load in the technical production,” Tee concluded. “I’m familiar with this sixtower TZ-roof, having worked with it at Reading Festival over many years. It’s a tried-and-tested stage system, but it had an interesting loading ramp configuration in place here, due to the sloped topography at Knebworth.” www.liamgallagher.com www.stages.co.uk
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CAMEO OTOS H5 DEBUTS AT TANTE MIA TANZT One of Germany’s largest open-air electronic music festivals relies on a range of technical infrastructure from Adam Hall Group, including Cameo’s new OTOS H5. Photos: Adam Hall Group
Tante Mia Tanzt is the largest open-air electronic music event in northwestern Germany. This year, the event attracted around 20,000 visitors to the Stoppelmarkt grounds in Vechta, Lower Saxony with DJ acts such as Don Diablo, Felix Jaehn, Lost Frequencies, Monika Kruse and Wildstylez. Eventures was responsible for the event technical equipment at the open-air festival. Lighting Designer, Milan Spira relied entirely on moving lights from Cameo for the electro spectacle, including the new Cameo OTOS H5 hybrid beam spot wash fixture. To enhance the flair of an EDM festival and to digitise the overall image, Spira and VJ/ visual artist, Paris Yilmaz of Clubkind Visuals, largely dispensed with physical set and deco elements. To fill the ‘gaps’ in the set design that this inevitably created, Spira specified a large number of beam lights in advance. After a shootout with dry hire provider NicLen, the lighting designer decided on Cameo’s new
OTOS H5, among others, and thus gave the IP65-capable beam spot wash hybrid moving heads their festival premiere in Germany. “I’m a fan of hybrid fixtures, and the OTOS H5s are a perfect fit for this festival,” explained Spira. “It allows me to cover all lamp types and use more of the same fixtures, which makes it easier to operate – especially at a festival with many different acts and requirements.” In addition to the high light output, Spira is also impressed by the gobo set and colour quality of the OTOS H5. The lighting designer had already had good experiences with the Cameo OPUS H5 beam spot wash hybrid indoor moving heads in the past. As well as OTOS H5, numerous ZENIT W600 SMD outdoor LED wash lights and EVOS W3 compact LED wash moving heads were used at the festival. www.tantemiatanzt.de www.eventures-gmbh.com www.cameolight.com www.adamhall.com
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FENIX SETS THE STAGE FOR FESTIVAL DE LES ARTS Valencians commence the summer festival season with FENIX Stage infrastructure. Photos: FENIX Stage
Located in the centre of Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències in Valencia, Festival de les Arts’ seventh edition saw 28 artists from the Spanish indie music scene, such as Love of Lesbian, La M.O.D.A, Lori Meyers, Miss Caffeina, and Dorian, among others, perform in front of over 40,000 live music fans. Through several rental and lifter companies, such as Babalu Group, FENIX Stage products were present at two stages, a catering zone, one VIP area, commercial stands and a space for children. “With more than 60 distributors across five continents, every month of the year we have big events that increase the factory’s
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events. It is a very stimulating challenge to design looking for a way to fit the structures together to fill the whole space creating a surprising, solid and safe installation.” Due to its easy assembly, creative flexibility, and reliability, most festival organisers opt for FENIX Stage’s silver 29ft by 29ft square truss (SQ-29). “As manufacturers, we like to go to the festival area and interact with the space,” Niza concluded. “Many ideas come to mind, not only for improvement, but also creative proposals that add value to the event or show.” www.festivaldelesarts.com www.fenixstage.com
workload. As Valencian manufacturers, our volume of work rises during the spring and summer months. However, thanks to the good weather and the proximity to the beach, the Valencian community is an optimal location for the celebration of summer festivals,” said FENIX Stage Sales Department Director, Julia Niza. Rodrigo Crespo, Technical Engineer at FENIX Stage, explained why increasing numbers of festivals are relying on FENIX Stage solutions: “The versatility of the truss to build structures of different shapes, heights, widths makes it the perfect tool to transform spaces, quickly adapting them to themes or temporary
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FUNKTION-ONE SOUNDS OUT ULTRA MIAMI Beware Productions partners US distributor, Coherent Distribution to provide flown Funktion-One Vero and mono stacks of F124 bass and F132 sub bass for Resistance’s 12,000-capacity Carl Cox MegaStructure. Photos: Funktion-One
Ultra Miami returned to Bayfront Park over the final weekend of March, following a move to Virginia Key Beach in 2019 and a COVID-19 enforced hiatus in 2020 and 2021. The festival welcomed around 165,000 people over three days, with attendees drawn to a lineup featuring some of the biggest names in electronic music. Funktion-One Vero made its Resistance debut at Ultra in 2016 when it was deployed on the Arcadia Spider. The following year, Vero became Resistance’s sound system of choice for its main stage: the Carl Cox MegaStructure – the same year the DJ and producer became the event brand’s global ambassador. Cox and his production team were unequivocal in their request for Funktion-One sound for the MegaStructure. This year, Funktion-One rental partner Beware Productions – supported by US distributor Coherent Distribution – provided the sound system and crew for the 12,000-capacity arena. Beware Productions’ Robert Wells commented: “The Funktion-One system that we provided for Resistance included a full Vero system, Dance Stacks for front fill, Evo 7T in-fill,
mono stacks of 20 F124s and eight F132s, plus PSM318 DJ monitors. The Dance Stacks weren’t necessary for the front fill coverage, but the dedicated people really seem to like having stacks to dance in front of, so we included them.” Discussing the bass and sub-bass, he added: “F124 has an incredibly natural and full tone and combining them with the ultra-low frequency F132 allows the system to track any music programme that it is presented with. Carl’s live sets are high fidelity with great transients, and it was truly a blessing to get to experience a live set on a system like this.” Reflecting on this year’s Ultra, Beware Productions Eric Anderson said: “Ultra is an amazing event. The fact that they are able to build something like that in the middle of downtown Miami is incredible. We absolutely loved the festival and look forward to working with Funktion-One, Ultra and the legend himself, Carl Cox, next year and for many more years to come.” Jim Baggott, Carl Cox’s Production Manager, who also oversees the production worldwide for Resistance, feels this year was
the best yet. “I’ve been doing this stage for around 15 years and it’s the best one we’ve had. The production looked brilliant and it sounded amazing. All of the artists were very pleased.” Describing Funktion-One’s performance characteristics, he added: “You’ve got great bass, but it’s not uncomfortable bass. Then you’ve got the clarity of the mid and high end, so it’s very clear. It’s great coverage all round. It can be really loud but you can listen to Funktion-One for 12 hours and you don’t come away with ringing ears, which you do with some other systems.” Baggott’s appreciation of the sound and the connection he has with company founders Tony and Ann Andrews means Funktion-One is his preferred sound system. “I’ve had a relationship with Funktion-One for many years, because I’ve been involved in events in Ibiza for 20 plus years,” he explained. “When we’re doing our own shows, whenever possible, we’ll use Funktion-One - it’s our system of choice.” www.ultramusicfestival.com www.resistancemusic.com www.funktion-one.com www.beware.net
BUILDING THE FUTURE OF FESTIVALS The Continental Drifts Festival Lab programme embarks on a 12-week course which builds towards the future of music festivals from the ground up.
Words: Jacob Waite Photos: Continental Drifts Festival Lab
The Continental Drifts Festival Lab programme is designed to support the nextgeneration of event producers in developing their ideas, skills, and knowledge through a mixture of talks from industry specialists, workshops, and hands-on experience. Over 12 weeks, young producers discover the art of production, programming, marketing, sponsorship and audience development, culminating with them planning their own programme of activity at London Remixed Festival. Young creatives and producersto-be – Monica Solari, Bertie Evans and
Kaine ‘BXGGZ’ Hamilton-Mills [pictured above] – operating under the moniker of Vybe Engyneerz, curated a new stage on the Friday evening of London Remixed Festival, spearheaded by pioneer of Vintage Remix and the UK Festival scene, Chris ‘Tofu’ Mackmeikan MBE. “It’s been an absolute joy to impart information and witness the next generation of festival staff,” Tofu remarked. INTRODUCING VYBE ENGYNEERZ “I’ve always wanted to work in the live entertainment industry. Unfortunately, with the
COVID-19 pandemic, I was unable to get the experience required for technical production roles, so this programme gave me that crucial hands-on experience, working in a dynamic and fast-paced environment as a stage manager, alongside Kaine,” Solari said. “This programme has reaffirmed my passion and goal to become an accomplished freelancer in the sector.” Evans concurred: “This programme has opened my eyes to how many departments and facets are involved in curating a live event and provided me with an understanding of
the industry, what is required to make an event from the ground up – from marketing to production – as well as a pathway to program my own events, project management, and design and decor creation.” BXGGZ assumed the role of Stage Manager alongside Solari. “I like to network so that role was ideal and opened my eyes to the complexities of making sure everything is on point on the stage to make everything run smoothly,” he explained. “At points, the day was stressful and busy; no event ever runs as smoothly as you envisage, but we were able to overcome any challenges by putting everything we’ve learned into practice.” The collective highlighted the pandemic, gender imbalance, competitiveness and a lack of contacts as barriers facing the next generation of live events producers. “Getting hands-on experience during COVID-19 was a huge challenge. It’s also difficult for females to find a place in this industry and having to prove yourself to your contemporaries more so than men. This industry relies on experience and networking. As Vybe Engyneerz, I hope we can continue to
work together and curate further events.” Evans added: “This sector is fiercely competitive. There is a huge appetite for new staff. However, gaining relevant experience is a challenge. I hope to spend the summer season as a volunteer for a range of interesting festivals with Vybe Engyneerz.” BXGGZ agreed: “Programmes like Continental Drifts Festival Lab are great to make your first steps in the industry and prepare you to build a network of contacts and learn how to promote yourself as a freelancer,” he continued.” As well as Vybe Engyneerz,
I’ve got an EP coming out, and I’m looking into hosting events as an MC in the future.” Following the success of the 12-week experiment, Tofu beamed with enthusiasm: “I hope Vybe Engyneerz can go on, and we’ve helped in some way to build a CV fat enough to get them to the next step in their journey. There’s not enough opportunities for young people to get involved in the sector from the ground up. There are lots of boring old white guys like me at the top and it’s time to challenge that status quo.” www.continentaldrifts.co.uk
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WHAT’S GOING ON WITH AED AUDIO? AED Audio provides sonic support for student music showcase, What’s Going On, at The BRIT School’s Obie Theatre. Photo: AED Audio
Taking place at The BRIT School’s Obie Theatre, What’s Going On was a showcase of protest music in a variety of eclectic styles, performed and written by year 12 music students, amplified by AED Audio, which provided a range of equipment to help bring the students’ creations to life. This included two line arrays consisting of eight FLEX6 speakers and one SOLID15 low cabinet/subwoofer, as well as a ground stack of SOLID28 and SOLID15 subs with a FLEX6 in point source to provide infill to each side. The AED Audio system integrated with the Obie Theatre’s existing Dante network, meaning it could offer great sound quality while remaining intuitive and easy to use. The FLEX6 is an all-in-one speaker that offers high-quality audio alongside a large degree of flexibility. It is designed so that many different setups and arrays can be easily configured using just one speaker type. The front-loaded SOLID15 cabinet is equally flexible, and can be configured as a standalone
unit, flown, stacked or included in a FLEX6 array. As well as the performers onstage, all the backstage elements of What’s Going On were handled by students. Sound at front of house and monitors were both operated by year 13 Production Arts students, while the AED Audio team was on hand throughout to assist with setup, support, and demonstrate how the system works. “The Production Arts course at The BRIT School, like all our other courses, is completely free for young people to attend. It covers all technical and creative disciplines within production giving students the option to specialise in stage management, costume, lighting, sound, set design and construction,” explained Andrew Smith, Technical Manager at The BRIT School. “We pride ourselves on giving our students access to industry relevant equipment and expertise. We are grateful to AED Audio for giving our students the opportunity to work with their products and use the FLEX6
system on one of our music concerts. AED UK Commercial Manager, David Baker said: “AED Audio was delighted to support The Brit School, which is a cornerstone of the UK’s live music industry. The next generation of on-stage talent are gaining the crucial live performance experience they need with shows like What’s Going On, and we’re pleased that they’re doing it with AED Audio equipment. “Our FLEX6 speaker was a perfect fit for the Obie Theatre due to its plug and play flexibility, which allows it to be deployed in a variety of different configurations.” AED Audio Consultant, Sam Vincent added: “As a former BRIT School student, it was great to be involved in this project and give something back to a fantastic institution. If anyone is interested in trying out the FLEX and SOLID series, get in touch and request a demo – we’d be delighted to showcase the power and flexibility of the system.” www.brit.croydon.sch.uk www.aedaudio.com
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UP AND COMING: THE REYTONS ROAD CREW The Reytons’ road crew reflect on the band’s sold-out hometown show at Rotheram’s Magna Science Adventure Centre.
Words: Jacob Waite Photo: Dom Walsh
Following the release of their debut album, Kids Off The Estate, The Reytons sold out Rotherham’s 4,500-capacity Magna Science Adventure Centre in less than 10 hours. As well as being a landmark moment for the band, there is an equally inspiring story surrounding the band’s young production crew. “It felt like everything was leading up to this one show,” explained Production/Tour Manager and FOH Engineer, Jake Mazzuca of Advocate Audio Visual, who brought in 24-year-old Lighting Designer, Jonathan Myers to devise the visual elements of the show. The duo share a good working relationship with the band, who are very hands-on. “We wanted to take this show to the next level with the addition of a back wall video screen, which gave the show more depth and enabled us to scale the production without losing key moments,” Mazzuca recalled. The design was based around a 10m by 4.2m Pixl
Evolution video wall, which displayed content designed and created by the band. “We flew five vertical sloped trusses above the screen with towers either side and then framed with a front truss, with lighting fixtures supplied from Christie Lites,” Myers explained. Band Manager, Rich Goodwin and frontman, Jonny Yerrell helped curate the visuals for this show. To pre-visualise the show, Myers harnessed Syncronorm Depence2. “The realism of the software is incredible. I can compare a render to the rigged production in the venue and it’s identical,” he said. The fact the band was able to play in front of a sold-out hometown audience was a ‘special moment’ for Myers. “Making sure the visuals were spot on was crucial, having changed the design three days before the show,” he said upon reflection. “One of the most challenging things for me was coming out of lockdown and setting up my own limited company. It
was a leap of faith but it has been so worth it.” Mazzuca, 27, added: “We understood the significance of this gig for the band. Seeing the production come to life was special.” Offering his advice to those looking to make their first steps into the sector, Mazzuca said: “Now it’s easier than ever to get handson experience, given the gaps in the sector, and people are crying out for young people who want to learn on the job. I’ve personally never felt restricted by my age, however, I’ve been lucky enough to work with bands that are receptive to working with a young, up-andcoming crew. I believe if you nail down your technical ability first, with as much hands-on experience as possible, the rest will come naturally. My advice is to stay humble, show up on time and work hard for those around you.” www.thereytons.com www.advocate-av.com www.jonathan-myers.com
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HOF MLT² HOF co-CEO, Dennis Klostermann details the evolution of the company’s latest moving light truss.
dismantling times can be drastically decreased as the moving lights remain in the MLT² during transportation; shock absorbing wheels from the German manufacturer Blickle also help to protect them.” What features will end users benefit from? “We constantly develop new features for the MLT² to respond to evolving customer needs. The most recent feature is the lowering set – an extra tube that can be placed a bit lower in the MLT² to avoid interfering with smaller lamps with the main tube, and which can be placed in four different heights. Another feature is the forklift adapter to make handling as fast and easy as possible. The rain cover protects the sensitive lamps from rain during the show when it is pulled over the lamps. The cover can also be pulled below the lamps in order to protect the lamps during transportation. The rain cover remains on the truss during the show even when it is not needed and the sun is shining – so no extra handling is required.”
Where does MLT² fit within the live entertainment market? “The MLT² is the further development of the Moving Light Truss 1. We wanted to develop a pre rig truss that would even better respond to evolving customer needs. Therefore, we developed the MLT² closely with our key customers and implemented more than 90% of our customers’ needs and ideas. The goal of the MLT² is to offer professionals the most efficient pre rig truss possible in order to make the setup and dismantling at the venue as easy and efficient as possible.”
How has MLT² been tailored to support touring professionals? “Setup and dismantling times have drastically decreased compared to the pre COVID-19. Also, crews have become much smaller. The MLT² makes handling very easy as it can be done with one person only. The telescopic legs of the dolly make the connection to the truss fast and secure and very smooth. MLT² saves a lot of space at the venue as up to 10 dollies without truss can be stacked on top of one another. The only limiting factor here is the height of the user, not the dolly itself. Setup and
How crucial is the versatility of MLT²? “Every show is different and has different needs. Every venue is different, too, and has different specifications and limitations. It was important to us to develop a pre rig truss that is as versatile as possible. For example, with the MLT², curved truss systems can be created without extra components. To do this, the forks are screwed out of the trusses by up to 70mm (in total 140mm) in order to create vertical or horizontal circles with different diameters. A static calculation for these applications is also available free of charge.” Where are we likely to see MLT² on the road? “The MLT² is already on many shows. You will be able to see it at Judas Priest, 50 Cent, Michel Kiwanuka, Karpe, David Gray, Dermot Kennedy, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Duran Duran, Lewis Capaldi, and Chemical Brothers shows as well as Boomtown Festival’s Grand Central Stage, to name a few.” www.h-of.de
AV STUMPFL PIXERA FOUR RS Following its launch at Frankfurt’s Prolight + Sound 2022, Hans Stucken lifts the lid on AV Stumpfl’s latest voyage into the rental and staging market…
Photo: AV Stumpfl
What was the goal behind PIXERA four RS? “We wanted to offer our customers a pre-configured version of our new, powerful PIXERA four media server, that would be perfect for cross rental scenarios. When renting or buying additional media servers for larger projects, it is important for many of our customers in the live event industry to be able to easily specify servers, without having to worry about whether they include some necessary basic components or not. The PIXERA four is a direct result of in-depth conversations with some of our key customers in the rental and staging market.” Which features will end users benefit from? “We are a true real-time system that offers a complete live preview of the whole show setup. In terms of the software, a feature is what we call ‘live preview editing’. It lets users edit timelines in the preview window while the output shows content from a different section of the timeline. This allows changes to running shows to be previewed by the operator and then blended into the output on the fly. Our Unreal Engine and Notch integration are additional factors that make using the PIXERA four RS attractive as part of productions that want to use real-time graphics tools.” How has PIXERA four RS been constructed to cope with the demand for versatility? “PIXERA four RS has been optimised for using our powerful render engine, perfect for realtime graphics applications and uncompressed 4K or 8K playout. In terms of the hardware, Framelock and Genlock, 12G-SDI Input/Output
or four 3G-SDI, as well as a Dante virtual soundcard are just some of the components included in the PIXERA four RS. Some of the hardware highlights include: 16TB NVMe-SSD Storage; one GbE Quad Network Card; 25GbE Dual Network Card; 12G-SDI Input/Output or four 3G-SD; HDMI 2.0 Input; 10 GbE Dual network onboard; Framelock and Genlock and Dante Virtual Sound Card.” Why is now the right time to launch a solution for the rental and staging market? “Since our operator base has grown significantly over the past two years, it was important for us to diversify our portfolio and to offer more hardware choices at the ultra high end of the spectrum as well, especially for the rental and staging market. With PIXERA mini, PIXERA one, PIXERA two and PIXERA four, we are now offering hardware solutions of different sizes and with different capabilities for different budgets. Another factor was of course the resurgence of live events after the mass vaccination programmes worldwide.” What has the response been like since its exclusive launch at PL+S? “We have received a large number of orders from some of Europe’s leading rental and staging companies, since the product launch in late April 2022. Customers in the US have also begun to adopt the PIXERA four RS. We showed the PIXERA four RS at the InfoComm Show for the first time in the US. We recently received news of a number of tours of internationally known artists that will employ PIXERA four RS this autumn.” www.pixera.one
DPA 4055 KICK DRUM MICROPHONE
DPA Microphones Product Management Director, Helga Volha Somava previews the company’s long-anticipated professional solution, which captures the ‘true sound’ of a drum – from inside and out.
Photo: DPA Microphones
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What was the idea behind the creation of the 4055 Kick Drum Microphone? “The ambition with this product was to create the best solution possible for this application, where the kick drum would sound exactly like the drum the artist has chosen, independently of the played genre. Acoustically, we decided to challenge the industry standard and deliver the absolutely flat frequency response, both on- and off axis, and this has generated a lot of excitement among the sound engineers. “With 4055, they have the freedom to be creative instead of spending effort on fighting against the given characteristics of a microphone. From a design point of view, we have introduced an asymmetric design of the microphone body, which allows the user to effortlessly place the microphone both inside and outside of the kick drum, even if it has a small hole. The design addresses both the perceived need of a larger microphone as well as the extra wind damping needed to ensure the best sound from the kick drum.” Can 4055 be used for other applications? “The microphone can also be used on other instruments as it exhibits the same qualities as all DPA directional mics with flat on-axis and very controlled linear off-axis response. We have tested the 4055 with excellent results on the electric guitar amp cabinet, electric bass amp cabinet and horns. We have even used it as a podcast mic, though in this situation it should be fitted with an
external windscreen to protect against the plosives from our voices. The 4055 has been longer under way than we would have liked, as the development process has been challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic, with travel restrictions and delays in the supply chain. “End-users will be amazed to hear the real sound of their kick drum on the recordings. The end-users often spend a lot of effort on choosing just the right instrument that sounds exactly right for them, and with 4055 it is now possible to convey this sound to the listeners.” What were the main challenges you had to contend with during the creation of this versatile microphone? “One of the biggest tasks was to keep the renowned flat DPA off-axis response of the microphone while maintaining the high SPL handling with low distortion. The physical design including the weight and the balance was not a challenge, but it was an area of focus. We spent time on fine-tuning the mechanics, as we wanted to delight the user not only with the sound, but also with a design that performs seamlessly and securely during live performances. We have already received a number of very positive reviews, where people mention in general a great-sounding mic, the punchy and round sound, minimal cutting, no low-end feedback.” www.dpamicrophones.com
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DAS AUDIO LARA Premiering at Frankfurt’s Prolight + Sound 2022, DAS Audio Global Marketing Director, Álvaro Fontanals highlights the company’s new LARA line array system.
Photo: DAS Audio
What was the idea behind the launch of the LARA line array system? “LARA is the result of years of research, design, and evolution. We have learned a lot from our previous line arrays and the needs of new event productions. Nowadays, technology grows exponentially, and when we introduce a new product, we have to be aware that a stateof-the-art solution launched today may be obsolete in a year. When we design a product like LARA, we oversized its amplification and processing capacity to offer our customers the capacity to simply update the system firmware and enjoy future technologies without the need for them to reinvest.” What benefits does the LARA line array system bring to the live events market? “LARA is a self-powered cardioid system. The cardioid technology applied to subs and tops generates a very noticeable difference in the noise generated on stage, and it significantly reduces the noise pollution caused in the surroundings of any live event. Self-powering minimises the number of cables needed to power the system and increases the control FOH engineers and technicians have over each box. In addition, thanks to the three-point
rigging, the reduction in cables, and the selfpositioning technology, the assembly time of a LARA PA is minimal.” Which particular features will FOH engineers, sound technicians, distributors and customers benefit from? “LARA is a very ambitious project since, in addition to the development of the system, we have also presented our new ALMA software. In both projects, the participation of sound engineers and technicians has been key to identifying areas for improvement. Our obsession has been to design an intuitive and powerful solution to meet our users’ needs and even surprise them. It is a system with an SPL of 146dB, measured under linear conditions with no distortion, and a great dynamic range; besides outstanding sound quality and power performance, it is also extremely efficient in energy consumption, thanks to Powersoft’s PFC technology.” What has the response been like? “The response has been spectacular, and it has exceeded our expectations. The first weekend after launching LARA at Prolight + Sound 2022, the system was playing at the same time at
the Lanxess Arena in Cologne, at the VyStar in Jacksonville, at the Forum in Barcelona, and the Recinto Hipico in Cáceres. It is part of two tours in Spain and has been included in the riders of very relevant artists. The feedback from the engineers and technicians has been fundamental in the design of LARA, from rigging hardware to software.” How has LARA been integrated into the design of upcoming projects? In March 2022, we held a pre-presentation event in Miami attended by more than 150 technicians, FOH engineers, rentals, distributors, and customers. The feedback we received at that event, and what the sound engineers who have already been able to use it tell us, makes us dream of huge possibilities. Still, we are well aware that there is much work to be done; being accepted by the riders of international tours is not only the responsibility of the sound system, if not that support, training, and technical service are key. We are working very hard to get where we want to be. So far, we’ve gained access to live events with sound engineers on riders that we didn’t expect to get into so quickly.” www.dasaudio.com
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A DECADE OF LOAD CELL RENTAL To mark the company’s 10-year anniversary, Colin Luke highlights the origins of Load Cell Rental, shares his plans for the future and pays tribute to the everlasting imprint of Richard Young.
Words: Stew Hume Photos: Load Cell Rental
“If you had told Richard [Young] and I in 2012 that Load Cell Rental would be working for tours across the globe and be one of the biggest dedicated weighing services providers in the music industry, I doubt we would have believed it,” laughed Load Cell Rental’s Colin Luke, reflecting on 10 years of the company providing an invaluable service to the live entertainment industry. Luke recalled how the idea for Load Cell Rental came about with the late Richard Young – who was just as well known for working with the likes of Radiohead, P!nk and Adele – saw a potential gap in the market. “He’d found there was a lack of professional load cell suppliers where equipment was maintained and calibrated to a high standard,” stated Luke. “He purchased 30 Motion Labs wired load cells, which he’d started using on tour. He then asked me if I’d like to help him with this new venture in April 2012. By June of that year, I was a full-time employee of Load Cell Rental and I have not looked back since.” In 10 years of business, demand for Load Cell’s offering to the market has increased with wireless load cells becoming ‘industry standard’. “The early wireless cells were simply not up to the task with insufficient range to provide a reliable signal and readings,” explained Luke. “Version three BroadWeigh cells changed the industry’s perception. We still have a stock of 400 Motion Labs cabled load cells and where safety critical weights are concerned a cabled system is still the best fit. However, for our weight report service where it is completed in rehearsals, the absence of cables is by far
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the best option.” This adoption of load cells has seen many productions moving away from calculations and it becoming more normal to weigh shows in rehearsals. “Shows are getting heavier despite components becoming lighter,” stated Luke. “Designers seem to be using the weight saved by more modern equipment to use more lights and projectors, bigger video walls and special effects. This is beneficial to the Load Cell approach where weighing the entire rig can result in huge savings. We regularly see two-tonne motors dropped to one-tonne capacities. On one tour, we even saw 12, twotonne motors cut from the rigging altogether, making load-in a bit more pleasurable.” Like so many businesses amid the pandemic, Load Cell
Rental closed the doors to its office space and kit was put into storage. “We had to diversify into the corporate world,” he said, reeling off jobs the team had been involved in, from weighing cars and aircrafts to wind turbine components. The turn of the new year, however, has brought renewed optimism to Load Cell Rental. “We have picked up a share of a new market and have had more new clients using our services this year,” commented Luke. “We have multiple music tour bookings taking us into 2023, but our biggest step forward has been in the corporate world with clients utilising our weight reports for suspended loads wherever they may be – from hanging off the side of a skyscraper to hanging
items in shopping centres.” Luke closed by paying tribute to Load Cell Rental founder, Richard Young, who sadly passed away in 2021. “Richard identified the gap in the market that would allow Load Cell Rental to be established and grow,” stated Luke. “Even though he was not involved in the dayto-day running of the company, his constant presence behind the scenes was a huge driving force within the company. I think that lasting legacy in the form of Load Cell Rental will continue to raise safety in the industry. I know that given some of the things we have helped to make safer in the past, it is inevitable we will have a direct influence in making the industry safer in the future. We are not finished yet!” www.loadcellrental.com
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3T (TOUR TECH TRAINING) 2022 TPi checks in with the 3T (Tour Tech Training) Course Leaders to get an update on the charity programme’s latest free, practical training course – which helps underrepresented gender and ethnic groups gain the skills to begin careers in the live events sector.
The brainchild of several artists along with numerous notable names within the live events space, 3T was created as a response to the lack of diversity within the live events sector. The result was a free, practical training course for people from underrepresented gender and ethnic groups, equipping them with the skills and connections to begin careers as touring technicians. With the success of the first year, the 3T team was keen to do it all again with a fresh intake of students and even several new course leaders to share their wealth of knowledge. Like the last edition of 3T, most of the students found out about the charity through artists posting on Instagram, along with the word being spread by other support of the incentive from the wider music industry. This year the criteria for eligibility was opened to a wider range of underrepresented groups. This year’s course had some structural differences, such as running weekdays for a month rather than weekends for three months. All 10 graduates have been able to go straight into work and many even commenced work before the course finished. The course leaders also made some tweaks to the original syllabus, acknowledging a range of full-time industry roles and promoter repping as well as freelance touring. The technical skills taught to the 3T students include cable making, building LED walls, tuning RF kit, operating follow spots, DMX addressing, audio patching, reskinning drums, looming, loading, and much more. The goal is to make all the graduates extremely valuable all-round tour techs on shows of any scale – something that is becoming even more important as 2022 has seen the busiest ever year for the industry, with many personnel leaving the industry. Due to the busy time of year, it was hard for the 3T team to secure a venue for its Big Weekend event, which rounds off the syllabus.
The Big Weekend was a cross between a show and a production rehearsal – essentially, a show without the audience. Thankfully, the team struck gold when Silverbox Studio offered its facility for 3T to use. You can read more about the new company on page 102. During the Big Weekend, the students unloaded trucks, flew the PA, rigged the lights, built a video wall, assembled backline, and sound checked both the headliner and support act, who performed 20-minute sets with a changeover in between. The crew then broke up the show and loaded-out. A newcomer to the 3T organisation was Tour Manager Felicity Hall, who was brought on board in the final week of the course prior to the Big Weekend. “It was amazing to watch the students putting into practice the skills they’d been learning in the weeks leading to the big weekend,” began Hall. “But more than that was the sense of togetherness. They all went
above and beyond to help each other and work together as a team.” She went on to give her personal highlight from the production day. “For me, it was listening to all the participants during loadout. So often, you’ve got a load of grumpy roadies who’re complaining about the work, whereas at the Big Weekend, the conversations were so wholesome and such a reflection on the atmosphere the course had created – supportive, caring and so much more interesting than what we’re used to.” Despite the latest round of the 3T course only just coming to a close, some of the participants from this year have already been busy working in the real world. “One of the students has been doing some work with Ronnie Scott’s, and I’ve hired another one as a cover TM for a show I can’t do,” reported Hall. “I’ve had quite a few of the students shadow me at other shows too, and everybody’s always been hugely impressed with them. Last
year’s students have all been working in music on some incredible tours and shows in the previous 12 months – something that speaks highly to the quality of the students and the entire project.” To close, Hall highlighted the importance of incentives like 3T, now more than ever. “The post-pandemic touring years have so far shown what a huge gap there is between the pre-COVID crew and the crew of today, with so many having retired or turned to other jobs. It’s becoming almost impossible to find good crew. 3T can address that while also providing an incredible opportunity to people who otherwise wouldn’t necessarily have had the chance. It’s a win-win situation for everybody. Now the world’s opening up, it’s going to be easier to roll it out into more cities and countries.” Stay tuned for the next issue of TPi where we’ll be catching up with some of the graduates to hear what they’ve been working on since 3T. www.3t.charity
SILVERBOX STUDIOS Created in the depths of lockdown at the end of 2020, Silverbox Studios is a state-of-the-art rehearsal space with an impressive turnkey rental department. TPi checks in with Silverbox’s Jamie Webb to learn more.
Words: Stew Hume Photos: Silverbox Studios
Almost a year into the first lockdown, with the events industry still reeling, a group of events professionals banded together to try and ride out the storm of COVID-19. The result was Silverbox; a brand new turnkey technical production and rental house for the events industry that also offers a large multi-use studio space for everything from tour preproduction to film and livestream. Walking TPi through the history of the company was Jamie Webb, one of the company’s first employees. “Many of us that started Silverbox were from smaller businesses that most likely would not have survived COVID-19,” began Webb. “I was made redundant in September 2020 after being put on furlough for 10 months and many others in the Silverbox team have a similar story.” With a surplus of event professionals at a loose end, the team that eventually became Silverbox opted to pool their resources, experience and equipment stock to create a new venture. Now the company has become a one-stop shop with a packed warehouse of rental gear and a rehearsal studio, in Newbury. “In the initial stage it was a case of throwing everything at the wall and seeing what stuck,” laughed Webb as he described the multifaceted nature of Silverbox’s offering. “We all have different backgrounds in the industry. Jim, [Silverbox Cofounder] and I came from a production rental business, whereas
[fellow Cofounder] Adam came from more of a Touring and installation background. So, we could look at multiple revenue streams from the beginning.” With the live events industry returning, Silverbox Hire division has been busy with numerous projects, and this side of the business is something Webb believes will continue to grow. “‘We’re also looking forward to expanding our work in the touring and concert world as we continue to add to our team and inventory.” The company offers a wide variety of worldclass audio systems along with a considerable stock of leading brands in lighting, LED, laser and effects systems. Aside from the rental business, it’s the company’s studio offering that has been turning heads within the industry. With a rapid return of live events, there has been an overwhelming demand for rehearsal spaces. “I think what has appealed to many is that Silverbox is a completely new unit and had been unused until we moved in,” stated Webb. “We’ve already welcomed Gary Newman, The Shires, Don Broco, Kula Shaker and Razorlight for rehearsals and all that have used the space have commented about how clean it is and how convenient the load-in is. We even had Midge Ure featured on ITV News in our studio. We’ve also acoustically treated the space so it sounds fantastic.” The location of the studio is also very appealing, both relative
to London and also the fact that we’re well serviced in Newbury by local shops, suppliers and catering as well as fantastic parking for trucking and tour buses. The space is 23m by 23m and able to accommodate an academylevel production. Webb explained that there are already plans in the pipeline to extend the space to 23m by 30m to accommodate stadium size tours and stage shows along with increased overhead rigging capabilities and infrastructure to match. “We’ve had a great deal of interest and have bookings all the way into next year,” Webb stated, adding that due to the “nature of the business”, they get just as many last-minute queries from people looking to use the space at short notice. With the increased interest in Silverbox, the company has grown from its five founders and now employs over 20 people, with the intention of doubling its staff by the end of the year. “When we’re feeling the pressure I often encourage our team to take stock of the fact that Silverbox is a remarkable success story in what has been a nightmare for the past two years for the industry,” stated Webb. To close, Webb spoke of Silverbox’s latest collaboration with the charity 3T. The studio was used for the final production day of the project, which saw a group of 20 young people come into the studio and put together a live show. Diversity and equality within the live events industry is something that Silverbox
SILVERBOX IS PROUD TO SUPPORT 3T WITH STUDIOS, EQUIPMENT AND ENGINEERING SERVICES Arena-scale rehearsal & streaming studios Corporate production Design & installation Concert & touring Equipment hire High-end private events
www.silverbox.live email@example.com 01635 635700
as a company is incredibly passionate about. As a case and point its warehouse is headed up by Su Pretty who has over 15 years events and theatre experience as well as the fact that 50% of its warehouse team is female. “AJ [Sutherland, Founder of 3T] called me a few months before and told me about the project,” Webb recalled. “I was sold on the concept straight away. Especially with so many people leaving the industry, we have a duty to ensure we are bringing new people in to take their place and why not also ensure that this new
generation is inclusive & more diverse?” As well as providing the studio for the production day, Silverbox supplied all the LED screens, rigging, motors, PA, consoles and even an audio engineer to help the students during the day. “A number of our staff also came in during their free time to lend a hand,” stated Webb. “We couldn’t get behind the 3T incentive enough and it’s already showing results as one of the women who was on the course this year was working as a Stage Manager at Download.” www.silverbox.live
Silverbox’s Jamie Webb; Silverbox’s Founding Members, Adam, Steve, Martin and Jim.
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BRINGING THE INDUSTRY TOGETHER WITH CAD
Pictured below: Phil Collins’ Not Dead Yet Tour, courtesy of Woodroofe Bassett Design and Manfred H. Vogel.
Vectorworks Product Marketing Manager of Entertainment, Brandon Eckstorm highlights how CAD software can meld the departments and talents of live events production crew.
Words: Branson Eckstorm Photos: Vectorworks, Woodroofe Bassett Design and Manfred H. Vogel.
The continuous evolution of the live events market has made the elements of collaboration and flexibility more crucial than ever before. There’s a wide range of creatives involved in the event design process these days, bringing lighting, visual, audio, and other departments together. Chances are, you’re already experiencing this delicate dance of synchronisation between your team and fellow entertainment professionals. How can you best meld together the various departments and talents involved (from near and far) in the live events production process? Fortunately, as live events have evolved, so have the tools and software platforms used to design and execute them. When exploring solutions, there are a few key points you should keep in mind to help you achieve success: collaboration, data, and innovative approaches. Let’s explore how Vectorworks Spotlight touches on each of these and how it can help unite teams to pull off a show-stopping event. COLLABORATION — WORK WITH ANYONE, FROM ANYWHERE We all know producing a live event, especially a touring production, includes a lot of moving pieces. Having the ability to collaborate on and contribute to a project concurrently, no matter where you are in the world, is critical. One way Vectorworks helps to bridge the gap is through its multi-user environment, Project Sharing, which allows everyone involved in the event design process to work on the same project file at the same time. Project Sharing allows multiple users to work within, and access, parts of a file simultaneously, providing a more holistic view of the project to all involved. Users can also tap into additional collaborative
channels through mobile viewing and sharing with Vectorworks Cloud Services rendering, storage, and file sharing. THE POWER OF DATA VISUALISATION You may not immediately think of data visualisation as a tool to consider in your workflow, but leveraging data is critical in helping to communicate and accurately execute your designs. Vectorworks is unique in its capacity to bring data visualisation to the live design environment. Through these capabilities, you’ll be able to add additional information to any type of object you use in Vectorworks – from truss to lighting devices, speakers, and video screens – and use that for visualisation methods that are helpful when designing a show or when producing needed paperwork. You can edit an object’s data in real-time and see the impact of those changes to help with tasks like identifying potential errors, calculating costs, and determining installation sequences while you and your team design collectively. CUTTING-EDGE TECHNOLOGY TO KEEP YOU AHEAD OF THE CURVE It’s always a good idea to explore the latest tech available to you and explore options that might
simplify your workflow and allow better crossteam collaboration. Vectorworks is committed to this approach as well, advancing the use of emerging technologies to provide innovative resources to designers across all industries. Have you heard of the General Device Type Format (GDTF)/My Virtual Rig (MVR)? It’s the perfect example of innovation and collaboration at work both in its development and purpose. Vectorworks joined forces with MA Lighting and ROBE Lighting to collectively develop the open file format with the goal of unifying the entertainment industry. GDTF/ MVR can be integrated into designers’ existing workflows allowing them to go between CAD, previsualisation, and console, without unnecessary errors, costs, or other distractions. This ensures that devices work the first time, every time, and simplifies the process of sharing data and project details with other members of your team. It’s also important that your tools never slow you or your team down. You can take advantage of the ability to create up to four times faster when you use Vectorworks, the first major BIM application to run natively on Apple’s M1 family of chips, on Mac and M1. www.vectorworks.net
DESIGN WITHOUT LIMITS The premier software for the entertainment industry with all the tools you need to combine your creative expression with maximum efficiency. Start your free trial at VECTORWORKS.NET/2022
ONE THIRD BEIJING | COURTESY OF LIVE LEGENDS
FORTUNE WILL FAVOUR THE BRAVE Steve Jenner shares how NFTs and the transition to Web3 will impact event production in the coming years…
Words: Steve Jenner
You can draw a line through the events industry between those who see Web 3 reshaping the business beyond all recognition and the sceptics who don’t see the potential impact. Web 3 is the most recent iteration of the World Wide Web, which incorporates the concept of decentralisation, in the form of distributed ledger such as blockchain technologies, and token-based economics. Web 3 technology has the potential to eliminate several of our industry’s greatest challenges, from seasonal cash flow dependence to ticket touts. The democratisation, independence and security associated with blockchain protocols will be invaluable characteristics for the bold, creative, innovative minds in the events sector. We have already seen the irresistible rise of Non Fungible Tokens (NFTs). Considering its infancy, the NFT market is already set to hit
$90bn by the end of this year, having multiplied in value by 900 times in the past 24 months. Coachella has always been an early adopter of technology, adding $1.5m to their bottom line this year, with a simple offering. They released NFTs redeemable against tickets, photo collectibles and VIP goodies. Beyond business transformation, Web 3’s seismic ripples will touch the physical event environment with tangible implications for production. One of the winning practical use cases of NFT tech in event production is the onsite redemption of privileges, from fast-track entry, access to premium facilities or exclusive areas, as well as loyalty benefits, from free merchandise to discounts. Low-cost online QR-code scanning technology was implemented at elrow Town Madrid, where 50,000 NFTs were claimed by the audience, many of which unlocked
onsite perks. In cases where connectivity is unreliable, greater security is needed, or the activation is integrated with an event’s cashless payment system – as was the case at Tomorrowland Winter this April – then NFC (RFID) technology may be preferable, especially if the infrastructure is already in place. Whichever scanning framework is used, maximising the gains across the value chain will require a joined-up approach in which the promoter, brand partners, artists and other stakeholders, such as bar operators, coordinate their activities. If Web3 is the catalyst that finally makes this happen, we can expect to see significant leaps forward in production efficiency, sponsorship budgets, audience loyalty and experiential engagement. Tomorrowland will host the world’s first appearance by a virtual artist, Ape Rave Club, a product of one of the most expensive NFT collections, Bored Ape Yacht Club, whose buyers include Shaquille O’Neal and Paris Hilton. Just as lockdowns brought a ‘new normal’ to real artists performing virtual gigs, Web 3’s paradigm shift will manifest a new wave of virtual performers, breaking into the physical world, with real production values attached. Tokenised funding, allowing promoters to release digital shares to fans, ticket holders, crews, and even participating artists, as a means by which to secure liquidity against future ticket sales, is also emerging. Sidestepping the traditional binds of seasonal ticket income or the high cost of securing private investors, this progressive funding new model will likely defer a degree of creative and operational control to the shareholders, so we might well see fans deciding on which production formats and suppliers are used by events in future. From decentralised operational decisions to VIP extras, fan engagement to brand amplification, the NFT age is upon us and it’s already transforming – and arguably enhancing – the way events are produced.
4-6 Sept 2022 Olympia London
EXPLORE THE EVOLUTION OF ENTERTAINMENT TECHNOLOGY at the UK’s flagship event for Audio, AV, Lighting, Rigging and Staging The live sector has been through a lot in recent years, but professionals like you have kept it alive. PLASA Show 2022 will celebrate innovation and adaptability and will be unmissable for anyone invested in the future of this incredible industry.
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ANDY DOCKERTY Adlib Managing Director and TPi Awards’ Outstanding Contribution winner.
How did it feel to be recognised by your industry peers at TPi Awards 2022? “I feel incredibly awkward accepting awards. I am genuinely humbled and honoured that I would even have been considered for such an award – especially as I can think of many other worthy winners who have contributed considerably more than I have. The entire #WeMakeEvents Campaign team has been amazing and has helped me considerably over the past two years. Similarly, if there was not an incredible team alongside me at Adlib, I would not have had the time to dedicate to the #WeMakeEvents Campaign efforts. Finally, thank you to those who voted. I am truly honoured and humbled.” How do you feel about the past two years? “The past two years have proven to me that those within the sector, on or off stage, are passionate and dedicated with the utmost professionalism. We have proven to be viable and I am certainly proud, even more so after the pandemic, to be a part of our incredible industry. Providing lifelong memories and experiences for people is incredible and the skills involved in delivering shows are hugely underrated. However, we have learned that on top of all the goodness we provide for people’s entertainment and mental health, we also need to ensure our worth to the economy is understood and valued by the government and financial establishments.” What lessons should the sector consider? “We need to continue to prove our financial worth to the government. If we can get all organisations to submit their tax returns to HMRC to sign off to the same SIC code, we can prove our financial stature. Hopefully, then should another pandemic arise, our sector will be recognised and supported and we won’t have to feel like second-class citizens with a ‘begging bowl’ out, asking for support. In addition, as we return towards normality, we have to appreciate that a lot of experienced, skilled technicians have left the sector.
“Bringing in the next generation the right way with the right skill sets is more important now than it has ever been before.” Andy Dockerty
Bringing in the next generation the right way with the right skill sets is more important now than it has ever been before. We need to get youngsters ‘gig ready’ considerably faster than before COVID-19, and with a greater degree of honesty from various establishments about the sector they are seeking a career in.” How has Adlib prepared for the season? “We have all gone from one set of unprecedented circumstances to the next. From next to no income to plenty of work but with shortages of experienced crew and ever increasing failings in delivery of equipment. Production companies are somewhat sympathetic to the position of the distributors and manufacturers, as we understand all the broken promises they are having from their suppliers. That does not necessarily translate to the ‘end user’ whose expectations have not changed, meaning the pressure to deliver is still as it has always been, but with huge constraints. At Adlib, we have approximately £5m worth of equipment on back-order that should have been with us months ago. Fortunately, we have great sub hire relationships, which helps with the late supplier cancellations and we have booked crew early – although we still have a few shortfalls.”
What does the future of the sector look like? “I believe we are 18 months to two years away from the tech/crewing side of the industry recovering and consequently, staffing is a considerable issue. At Adlib, we have spent long periods of lockdown redeveloping our infrastructure and systems and although we are fine-tuning everything as we evolve, we are in a reasonable space. Aside from this, we have put an emphasis on bringing youngsters through faster than ever before. This year, we have set up a ‘mini venue’ in the warehouse to be able to provide hands-on experiences for some of the new technicians. This is definitely working and I, along with the other directors and mentors, get a great amount of pleasure from watching these youngsters reach their goals. While we relish it, I still can’t wait for it to be over and to be able to gain a more manageable level of control as we progress into September and the touring season. I would like to take this opportunity to wish all production company suppliers all the best of luck for the next few months with their gigs. I also would like to wish everyone in the industry good luck with their financial recovery as we all head out of this with huge debt.” Read the full interview at: www.tpimagazine.com