TPi #272 - Nov/Dec 2022

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#MartinAudioFamily ROXY MUSIC A spectacular production in celebration of the band’s 50th anniversary

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

We are entering a new era where production teams are increasingly concerned about weight loading and coverage.

BILLIE EILISH A look behind the lens of the singer-songwriter’s touring video department

RTL 102.5 POWER HITS ESTATE Italy’s biggest artists descend on the Arena di Verona amphitheatre for a night to remember

SWEDISH HOUSE MAFIA A triumphant return to the touring circuit with the trio bringing their gargantuan rave to UK arenas

Five years ago, a 49kg box would have been fantastic, but now we are looking at 27kg for WPS, which is incredible really for a big sounding system with a lot of grunt.

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NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022 • #272

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EDITOR’S LETTER

DON’T FORGET TO VOTE… In what seems like the blink of an eye, here we are at TPi’s last edition of 2022. It feels strange to wrap up the year when it’s only just November. But first and foremost I would like to thank everyone from the companies to the touring productions who have been so incredibly hospitable during the past 12 months. We at TPi have always prided ourselves on being the magazine that is on the ground, speaking to the people behind the live touring sector, but after two years of screen-to-screen interactions, we did wonder if we’d ever get to go back to our traditional way of putting our beloved rag together. Of course, we needn’t have worried and we have been blown away by the welcoming nature of productions inviting us along to their shows over the past year. We understand the time pressures you’re under out on the road, and the fact that you make time for Jacob and I to put a recorder in your face for a few minutes really is appreciated. Talking of onsite coverage, in this issue we bring you two stellar arena tours from the UK. Our cover story saw Jacob meet the team behind Swedish House Mafia’s staggering stage shows [p30]. With a monolith set silhouetting the three famed DJs, this production really set the bar high. Meanwhile, I got to witness the stunning 50th anniversary celebration of the legendary Roxy Music [p46]. With several familiar faces from Bryan Ferry’s solo tours, the crew managed to strike that difficult balance of utilising modern technology while staying true to the band’s inimitable style. Jacob also spent some time with the team behind one of Italy’s most anticipated musical events, RTL 102.5 Power Hits Estate [p62]. Elsewhere, I took a trip to France to attend Women In Lighting’s Entertainment Lighting Sessions. With the support of Ayrton and hosted in the lighting manufacturer’s HQ, the day had a incredible lineup of speakers who tackled the topic of using lighting as a narrative device [p28]. We also heard from UK Rigging about its new incentive to certify new riggers to help remedy the serious shortage of those able to work at height in the UK. Although this is our last edition of 2022, don’t think for a second that we are now about to take an extending winter break. On the contrary, we’re about to jump into our busiest period of travel for the past few years. Along with several visits to gigs up and down the UK, Jacob and Fran are setting off to Las Vegas for LDI. Meanwhile, I’ll be heading over to Paris with Matilda for JTSE as well as some concerts in Europe, before boarding my first trip to Asia… but more on that in the New Year. Before I leave you, we have several exciting announcements regarding the TPi Awards to look forward to. Set the date in your calendar for 1 December, when voting officially opens. Along with the regular voting, we’ll be opening applications for the TPi Green Award from 1 November. This is your chance – as an individual, company or even touring production – to shout about the work you are doing to bring sustainable practices to the live events industry. Behind the scenes we’re busy working on the production with our dedicated team of suppliers and it’s already looking like it will be a night to remember. Catch you on the road. Stew Hume Editor

Issue #272 November / December 2022 Editor Stew Hume Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7702 054344 e-mail: s.hume@mondiale.co.uk Assistant Editor Jacob Waite Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7592 679612 e-mail: j.waite@mondiale.co.uk Senior Account Manager Fran Begaj Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7852 336728 e-mail: f.begaj@mondiale.co.uk Account Manager Matilda Matthews Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7413 555978 e-mail: m.matthews@mondiale.co.uk Digital Content Manager James Robertson Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7725 475819 e-mail: j.robertson@mondiale.co.uk Editorial Director Peter Iantorno Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7763 233637 e-mail: p.iantorno@mondiale.co.uk Chief Executive Justin Gawne Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7768 850767 e-mail: j.gawne@mondiale.co.uk Accounts Lynette Levi / Sarah Miller: ar@mondiale.co.uk Mondiale Group Chairman Damian Walsh Graphic Design & Production Dan Seaton: d.seaton@mondiale.co.uk Mel Capper: m.capper@mondiale.co.uk Cover Photo Swedish House Mafia Photo: Michael Drummond 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: subscriptions@mondiale.co.uk 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.

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30 SWEDISH HOUSE MAFIA

After nine years away, Axwell, Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso return to the touring circuit.

EVENT FOCUS 12 WWE hosts its first major UK

stadium spectacle in 30 years, Clash at the Castle.

16 Norwegian hip-hop duo Karpe play 10 consecutive nights at Oslo Spektrum.

18 Italian rapper Marracash brings on Ombra to oversee creative direction of his sold-out tour.

22 Vis-A-Vis owner, Stuart Merser

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offers a glipse behind the lens of the live video offering on Billie Eilish’s latest tour.

26 ROE Visual opens a new UK base. 28 Ayrton welcomes Women In Lighting to its Paris HQ

PRODUCTION PROFILE 46 ROXY MUSIC

The famed group celebrate their 50-year anniversary with an ambitious production worthy of the band’s back catalogue.

62 RTL 102.5 POWER HITS ESTATE 2022

One of Italy’s most anticipated musical events of the year returns for its sixth edition.

PRODUCTION FUTURES 72 Six talented winners of the

Breakthrough Talent Awards are announced.

INTERVIEW 78 UK Rigging addresses the severe

shortage of qualified riggers in the entertainment industry with the launch of Project X.


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EVENT FOCUS

WWE CLASH AT THE CASTLE WWE hosts its first major UK stadium spectacle in three decades with Star Live on hand to provide staging and rigging support at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium.

Words: Jacob Waite Photos: WWE Corporation, Mark Lewis and Star Live

Marking WWE’s first major stadium event in the United Kingdom since 1992’s SummerSlam and the company’s first UK PPV since Insurrextion in 2003, Clash at the Castle took place on 3 September 2022 at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium with an impressive roster of WWE Superstars and an audience of over 62,000 sports entertainment fans from 42 countries in attendance. Star Live, which holds a service level agreement to provide technical and rigging services at Principality Stadium, was part of the team that delivered the long-awaited return of WWE to the UK. “We’ve been involved in most Principality Stadium projects since it opened in 1999, and dealing with the nuances of rigging from that fascinating building and its retractable roof is always a pleasure,” Star Live Stages Director, Pete Holdich, informed TPi as the dust settled on the spectacle. “The nature of the show

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dictates that everything is central within the venue to maximise seating and audience capacity, so dealing with that concentrated load across the closed seam of the retractable roof was something of a challenge, which we have dealt with in the past when hosting largescale boxing events,” he explained. Star Live designed and delivered an extensive VT Mega Truss mother grid, rigged across the seam of the two halves of the retractable roof to support more than 60 tonnes of production. The sophisticated video castle design demanded the mother grid provide maximum usable trim from the 45m roof clearance. Star Live harnessed 1m-high Mega Truss staging technology in various material types to account for different load configurations and load to weight ratios. “We developed a mother grid specifically for this show that would allow us to bridge between

the two halves of the roof while maximising the nodal capacity of the retractable roof superstructure to give the rigging capacities that we needed,” Holdich stated. “Our Mega Truss typically can suspend 7.5 tonnes truss over a 25m span in its usual staging format. At Principality Stadium, we operated 9m centres with a six-tonne capacity in each of those centres to balance the concentrated loads of the video screens, audio, lighting, et cetera.” Star Live supplied a heavy-duty, high-tensile chain suspension system to support the grid truss with the whole assembly monitored through a Kinesys load cell system as the production was added. “There’s 45m from the pitch to the retractable roof, so heaving heavy-duty hoists and lifting mechanisms that can deal with that clearance is something very specific to us and you need to bring in specialist access machinery,” Holdich explained. “In this scenario,


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EVENT FOCUS

we brought in a Bronto Skylift, which is a truckmounted cherry picker, with a 70m reach to get into those lofty locations.” A Star Live rigging team of 14, led by Rick Waterworth, installed primary rigging points around the stadium roof for audience lighting and cable management. “We have a pool of project managers and riggers that we rely on regularly. For this project, we brought onboard some staff from Europe to assist,” Holdich said. “Although we’re aware of the labour shortages in the UK market, thankfully, we were able to adapt and make sure we had people in place given the amount of lead time. The tenancy for the event was just over a week in total and took

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between 10 and 14 days in total to account for the pre-rig, mother grid, extraction at the end of the project. “We were pleased to be able to accommodate their production requirements. The show went incredibly well and looked spectacular,” Holdich said, praising the team involved in the production. “Many thanks to WWE Director of Television Production Management, Jeremy Shand for his support throughout the project and Triple A Entertainment Group as our UK contact.” With this WWE event, alongside the Taylor Hawkins tribute concert, there was a combined global audience of hundreds of millions

watching world-class events using Star Live’s solutions and services. “This year has been a bounce back year for the UK live events and entertainment industry. We got a semblance of a season in 2021 with outdoor events, but it was great to be back at Principality Stadium,” he concluded. “We love rising to the challenges these projects bring to us, particularly in this venue, with an accommodating team on hand for support. There’s a real collaborative approach to delivering shows for them and visiting productions.” www.wwe.com www.stargrouplive.com www.principalitystadium.wales



EVENT FOCUS

KARPE: 10 NIGHTS AT THE OSLO SPEKTRUM The Norwegian hip-hop duo pulls out all the stops for their 10-date residency at Oslo Spektrum. TPi chats to the Showstak team, which supplied the automated elements of the show.

Words: Stew Hume Photo: Michael Ray Vera Cruz Angeles @akam1k3

Breaking the record for the longest run of consecutive shows at the Oslo Spektrum, hip-hop duo Karpe’s 10-date residency certainly did not disappoint. With an in-theround square stage design, the duo welcomed numerous dancers and a nine-piece band on stage for this two-hour extravaganza. With a giant automated cube, which was used at the top of the show to reveal Karpe, the sheer level of production was on show from the very first song. Aiding the production in this ambitious production was Showstak, which provided the automated elements for the show. Heralding from Warsaw, Poland, Showstak prides itself on constantly introducing new solutions and design options in which to integrate stage automation into a live performance. Discussing the Karpe project was Showstak’s CEO, Kosma Szostak. “This was the first time we had worked with Karpe and their

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production,” began the CEO, explaining how the company was brought in six months prior to the first performance. “They contacted us off the back of a recommendation from another of our satisfied clients.” The initial brief had the production looking for around 100 Kinesys hoists although this was later reduced to 80. “The main move during the show was the lift of the 16-tonne cube made of transparent plexiglass,” stated Szostak. “The cube was so fragile that a deflection more than 10mm would have caused major damage.” Szostak was quick to complement the work of Simon ‘Captain’ Howdy, the show’s Head Rigger. “He did an amazing job with the rigging plan and instillation.” Working with Captain on the show was fellow rigger Maciej Bubula and Marcin Krzyzanski, who operated the Kinesys Vector Console that set off all the automotive moves. He also oversaw the Sil3 Mentor 4

Safety Unit. “Safety was our top priority on this performance as while we were operating the cube, we had between 20 and 30 people dancing underneath,” asserted Szostak. Looking back at the show, the CEO was keen to praise the work of the production. “We never worked with such an amazing and professional crew,” he enthused. “The client was super co-operative and very experienced in field of safety regulations and show production. The artists were also so respectful to the crew.” With this mammoth project behind them, Szostak and the rest of the Showstak team set its sights on the Middle East with a project in Saudi Arabia. “We’ve been so busy recently working on shows all over the world; it really feels like there is no quiet seasons any more for our team,” he chuckled, clearly happy about the return of live shows. www.karpe.no www.showstak.eu



EVENT FOCUS

MARRACASH: PERSONE TOUR The rapper brings on Ombra to oversee the creative direction of his sold-out Italian tour. TPi speaks to Lorenzo De Pascalis and Giulia De Paoli of Ombra to gain an insight into the creative process.

Words: Stew Hume Photos: Ombra

Following the release of his two most recent albums – Persona and Noi, loro, gli altri – in 2019 and 2021 respectively, Marracash set out on what would be a recording-setting run of shows, with the Persone Tour marking the first time an Italian hip-hop artist completely sold out a tour that passed through most of the country’s major cities. Executive produced by Mario Zappa from Friends & Partners, the tour was the result of a collaboration of a multitude of companies and suppliers. Leading the team was Production Manager Gianluca CIKO Cicognini, who was overseeing this ambitious production with support from Fenia Galtieri on the Tour Management side and Puccio Anatrella on the Site Coordination. London-based design studio Ombra was brought in to work on the creative direction, set design, content and light design. Led by Ombra’s Founder Lorenzo De Pascalis, the company also worked on the cueing of all the technologies and aspects of the show, organising cues in timecode ready for automation, lasers, effects and teleprompters.

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“We crafted the entire show around a simple set that offered many possibilities and sceneries – namely two large automated elements with automation; a screen that was also a walking surface along with a large rectangular truss,” outlined Project Manager Giulia De Paoli of Ombra. The show was broken up into three main chapters each highlights an important part of the artist’s career. “The show starts with a chaotic, ‘straight-to-the -point’ vibe with the artist appearing mid-air on the walking surface,” stated De Paoli. “The moving truss moves all around the stage as the show unfolds and the walking LED assumes different angles to create new, ever-evolving spaces on stage.” The next chapter of the show had Marracash move to the B-stage, positioned just behind FOH. It was at the point the artist got to perform some of the big hits from his back catalogue and to justify his moniker of Il King del Rap – The King of Rap. Finally, the last section of the show was dedicated to his most recent material. Back on the main stage, the goal from the

visual department was to create a “clean world, almost like coming from a place of understanding and deep introspection,” explained De Paoli. Before setting foot in a single venue, Ombra and the rest of the creative team used WYSIWYG to preview all the automation in 3D, creating the cues with an MA Lighting grandMA2 that could then be transferred to vocal cues in the playback system. “Each cue creates opportunities and almost a different evolution of the show,” stated De Pascalis. “The two movable elements intersect and play together in a harmonious way, creating new spaces to play with.” Moving these two elements was a Kineys APEX system supplied by Tekset. The Show Operator and Programmer was Marcello Marcelli, who oversaw the 16 motors in the roof. Marcelli worked closely with Head Rigger Filippo Lattanzi to also design the girder that was used to angle the screen in some rather unusual positions. With the rigging and automation sorted, Ombra turned its attention to the video and


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EVENT FOCUS

lighting elements of the show. All content was created in house by Ombra with the team using a variety of 3D software including Houdini and Cinema 4D along with frame-by-frame animation and traditional filming. “We organised three video shoots to integrate models, actors and artists in the show visuals,” stated De Paoli. “Any guest that couldn’t attend a show had a backup visual so we could insert them in the performance.” The main LED wall was made of Unitech see through LED panels, which was key to the overall look of the show as when the screen was not in use, it revealed the band behind. Meanwhile the LED in the roof comprised of INFiLED panels. “We created 30 bespoke content pieces, perfectly synced with tracks including the various versions with guests,” reflected De Pascalis, speaking to TPi about the huge amount of work over three months of storyboarding, style-frames and renderings. “Together with the content, we have integrated camera feeds and effects running on Resolume and Notch for some songs,” he

stated. As for the lighting, De Pascalis worked on a choice of lights for the centrepiece, choosing the Claypaky Xtylos to create a contrasted and colourful element. The centre truss is composed of 24 Xtylos and 30 Showtec Phantom 1220 Zoombars, which allowed the team to create “curtains of light”, as well as allowing them to give accents while the truss was moving. “We decided it was worth mixing up technologies since the new Xtylos is a modern, laser source-based fixture, in contrast with the Vari-Lite VL 4000 washes, which have more pastel and softer colours; the difference is noticeable, and it creates amazing gradients given the different positions,” stated De Pascalis. “The Robe MegaPointes are instead positioned on the side truss and two front truss. It’s amazing to use as a hybrid light.” The creation of the lighting rig was very much a collaboration with De Pascalis working together with LD Jacopo Ricci and Programmer Giorgio De Cassan. Aiding to the overall visual canvas was ArtechFX, which provided the lasers and

effects for the tour. “We worked closely with Luca Toscano, Head of ArtechFX and Simone Balotta, Programmer, to create a small but effective package of effects including six shots of Mines, six G-Flames, six Sparkulars and a Shot of confetti,” stated De Pascalis. Martin Gabco, Programmer for Artech, programmed the seven lasers, comprising 11W and 22W fixtures on A-stage as well as the vertical 22W laser positioned on top of B-stage. “Martin was given the audio tracks with timecode and creative notes and did a great job in interpreting all the cues and moments,” said De Pascalis. “We wanted the lasers to be high powered beams at times, while at other times just be an additional effect on top of the many layers of lights and video the show has, thus creating a sense of volume outside of the stage.” While Gabco operated the show during the tour, from Milan onwards Romano Calvaruso took over operating duties. www.marracash.it www.ombra.world www.tekset.it www.artechfx.com

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EVENT FOCUS

BILLIE EILISH: HAPPIER THAN EVER, THE WORLD TOUR Vis-A-Vis owner, Stuart Merser, reflects on producing live video for Billie Eilish’s Happier Than Ever, The World Tour and the singer-songwriter’s subsequent headline Coachella performance.

Photos: Vis-A-Vis Video

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Following the success of Billie Eilish’s Happier Than Ever, The World Tour, Vis-A-Vis Video joined forces with Moment Factory’s design team of Tarik Mikou and James Richardson, to produce the live video for Billie Eilish’s headline Coachella performance. Previously supporting the American singersongwriter’s When We All Fall Asleep tour, the Vis-A-Vis team led by video director and owner, Stuart Merser, quickly adapted to the tour’s needs and a return to Coachella. “In 2019, we provided disguise gx 2c media servers and had a Blackmagic Design 4K Atem Switcher for the Coachella performance. Then in early 2020, we began the full tour,” he recalled. “We got three shows in, and then the pandemic hit, bringing the world of live music to a grinding halt.” Fast-forward to 2022 when venues were finally allowed to operate again at full capacity, the team regrouped, headed up by Production Manager, Nicole Massey. Teamwork was crucial. “It’s very important to say that the team we have is unbelievable,” explained Merser. “From the production and design team through to our video, lighting, sound, camera operation and the media server output.” During the show, Billie is elevated 40ft above the stage during the set and thrust into

the audience on a mechanical arm. Set design elements like this involve careful planning and execution to ensure that the stunt is captured, all without compromising the experience for the audience. “People pay good money to see artists live, which is why I get to do this job. While we want to replicate the action on the big screens, we cannot jeopardise the in-person experience,” explained Merser. “We try to be creative with where we position cameras and often place them in the stands among the audience to get the best alternative angles. The shot you get pays off, so it is worth doing, albeit it’s never straightforward as what works in one arena might not work in another.” While venues differ each night, the setup remains largely the same and includes six URSA Broadcast G2 with SMPTE fibre chains and is complemented by several smaller Micro Studio Camera 4Ks. “The URSA Broadcast G2 has been fantastic because they have a much wider dynamic range in film mode. Everything is done incamera, and we rack live,” Merser added. “My engineer is constantly painting as we have different coloured spotlights for different looks. You have to be mindful of what the end

product is. It’s not about what you see on the engineering monitor or what I see on my multiview; it’s about what the end output looks like on the screen because that is ultimately what the audience sees.” All three cameras around the stage are on railcam systems from Blackcam. “Storytelling is vital, and so by extension, is the need for consistency. Those positions are all remotely operated from dedicated stations featuring SmartView 4K and SmartView Duo 4K monitors, allowing the operators to view their transmission (TX) and returns,” he reported. “The Blackcams’ I use are my go-to and crucial elements for movement and dynamics within the show cut. We’ve also added a PoleCam on this production. I’ve put a unique system together that uses a Micro Studio Camera 4K with a detached fibre back converter.” Vis-A-Vis also has two RCPs based on the ATEM Camera Control Panel. “It’s constant iris chasing and balancing the images, ensuring our exposures are correct. She’s a very dynamic artist, and so is the set lighting. We position the cameras to take this into account.” The Vis-A-Vis production desk is built on the ATEM Constellation 8K switcher with ATEM 2 M/E Advanced Panel for hardware control. It relies on a Smart Videohub 40x40 12G matrix

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Notch effects on live output, including the YouTube stream.” Merser added two additional Ursa Broadcast G2 cameras to the six already deployed as part of the Happier Than Ever set to produce the festival’s IMAG video feeds and a livestream mix. “I also had festival cameras in the mix, including Sony Venice and Alexa Mini on stage. However, only the Ursa Broadcasts were used for IMAG as they offered the lowest frame delay,” he noted. “With streaming, we also had to cater for wide shots. As such, I had a second ATEM Production Studio 4K switcher put next to me so I could throw in wides on the stream cut. I had our main production desk with M/E 1 for IMAG, M/E 2 for the centre screen and a third M/E on the ATEM Production Studio 4K for Coachella’s live stream, so three cuts in all.”

in the engineering rack for signal management. Multiple HyperDeck Mini decks record material, with a Teranex AV utilised for up, down, and cross conversion. Merser has insisted on using 5mm LED panels from PRG for IMAG on tour. “I didn’t want this to be projected,” he explained. “We’ve got 16x9 side screens on either side of the stage, with portrait extension screens on stage and a central blow through LED wall, which means we can feed live IMAG to every surface from our production desk.” Andreanne Fine Lafrance is in charge of programming and operating the four disguise gx 2c media servers alongside Dark Matter Technologies’ Notch rendering server that ingests and processes the thousands of pixels

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driven on multiple outputs, including a vast LED floor that the entire stage is made from. COACHELLA 2022 While the team benefited from pulling in design elements from the tour, the need to adapt to a new stage, special Coachella guests and the addition of a live stream posed the most significant challenge yet for Vis-A-Vis. “Much of the tour set was adapted to the Coachella stage when it came to the creative. This included incorporating disguise and Notch blocks to create stunning and dynamic backdrops for Billie to perform against,” he said. “Our goal was to replicate the live show for viewers online as if we were in the audience. Billie’s was the only set at Coachella to put

BEST FOOT FORWARD “Ultimately, it is our job to put on the best show possible. This is where teamwork across the entire production was so critical. Our primary consideration is always those who attend a concert performance, but we can’t ignore the user-generated content posted to digital platforms post-event. And so why shouldn’t you shoot with post live consumption in mind? I don’t want to simply throw pictures up on a screen; I want it to be something that can stand the test of time,” he commented. “With audiences filming the screens and sharing that content, it is vital that what we produce is the best possible quality regardless of how or where it is consumed.” According to Merser, many artists and show designers go straight to their Instagram after a show is finished. “More often than not, if I get any feedback, it’s from a clip they’ve watched on social media. That’s why it is more important than ever for the content to look the best it can every night. That user-generated footage is there for all to see; it won’t disappear once it’s up there.” Reflecting on the tour, Merser credits its success to teamwork and workflow quality. “From the resolution of the LED displays through to our choice in camera technology and 4K optics, the output for Coachella and indeed the tour demanded best in class production,” he concluded. www.visavis.video www.blackmagicdesign.com www.notch.one



EVENT FOCUS

ROE VISUAL OPENS NEW UK BASE LED manufacturer ROE Visual welcomes the live events community to celebrate the opening of its new office in Production Park, Wakefield.

Words: Stew Hume Photos: Chris Whittam

ROE Visual has inaugurated its UK-based showroom and demo space located at Production Park. During the opening event, a broad range of ROE Visual LED products, including an XR stage, were on display. Being in the direct vicinity of the live production hub, Production Park marks ROE Visual’s leading position in the live event industry and its existing relationship with both industry-integrated higher education institution Backstage Academy and the XPLOR centre – the world’s first research and innovation centre for entertainment technology and production – as well as other prominent Production Park tenants, such as 4Wall and TAIT. “The adverse effects of Brexit and steady growth of sales in the UK made the existence of an independent office for this region both

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desirable and feasible, so we have been discussing this for a couple of months,” stated Marina Prak, ROE Visual Europe’s Marketing Manager. “Once we found the right spot, it took the team three weeks to complete the showroom, from empty shell to all furnishings and demo materials in place.” By extending its reach globally, ROE is now in a better position to provide support for companies that operate internationally and have business divisions in the UK. “Strengthening our position in such an important market as the UK marks the growth of ROE Visual as a global company,” stated Grace Kuo, Sales Director at ROE Visual. “It’s a fantastic milestone for the global teams. By opening our UK office, we live up to our philosophy to be close to our clients, continuing our high levels of service and

support and securing these for the future.” The showroom offers a wealth of ROE Visual products in several different settings, offering an overview of the company’s products and the various market segments they serve. The space is a little over 200 sq m divided into three experience zones. “The entire space looks both high-tech and welcoming,” enthused Prak. “You can see the XR stage experience, which can be used for testing and internal content production; the boardroom experience for in-person meetings or conferencing; and the live events experience, where the most recent LED products for rental and live events are on show.” The XR stage consists of LED walls from the popular Black Pearl BP2V2 LED panels and a Black Marble LED floor. A Graphite GP2.6 LED screen flanks it. The boardroom experience is equipped with a stunning Opal OP1.2 LED screen. Last but not least, the live events section has both the Ruby RB2.3, R1.9, and RB1.95 on display, the Black Quartz BQ3 and BQ4, and a large room divider consisting of Vanish V8T. ROE Visual has also used the creative qualities of the Vanish V8 LED screen to use this as window decoration, making the windows closed or transparent to choice. Two imposing server racks contain all the equipment needed to run the LED screens and content in the space. LED processors from Brompton and Megapixel VR drive the LED screens, while industry partner disguise provided a VX2 media server to run the content. The LED screens displayed in the demo space have a bit depth of either 14 or 16bit. The content for the LED screens runs on 60Hz and 10bit bit-depth, while intelligent solutions and integrations such as Companion make the complete showroom plug and play. Prak went on to express the importance of showrooms such as their UK base to the company’s business model. “We see a growing


need for showrooms,” she explained. “Not just to give the client an overview of the products we have, but it’s also an important factor that they can experience the look and feel of the products in selecting what product best suits their demands or specific application. While an exhibition at a trade show is often more focused on offering a meet-and-greet platform, the personal touch is a very important factor in our industry.” To close, Prak explained the response from the UK market following the opening event. “All UK-based clients are excited about the inauguration of the ROE UK office and the fact that Nick Shaw is now present in the UK to give them his full support for all UK-based queries. A lot of our clients and partners freed their Friday afternoon to celebrate this fact with us. They were blown away by the space and the quality of the LED screens on display.” In his speech, Lee Brooks, CEO of Production Park, mentioned that ROE Visual has raised the bar for all Production Park tenants by creating this high-tech yet warm and welcoming showroom. The showroom is open for visits or product and content tests by making an appointment with Nick Show, Business Development Director for the UK. www.roevisual.com

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EVENT FOCUS

WOMEN IN LIGHTING; ENTERTAINMENT LIGHTING SESSIONS Ayrton hosts a whole day event at its Paris HQ with Women In Lighting, bringing together a range of distinguished speakers to discuss how lighting can be used as a narrative device.

Words: Stew Hume Photos: Ayrton

Akari-Lisa Ishii of I.C.O.N, Ayrton’s Linnea Ljungmark; Briony Berning from Ambersphere, Sharon Stammers of WIL, Cristina Martinez and Martin Lupton from WIL.

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In recent months, Ayrton has shown its commitment to pushing for greater diversity within the field of lighting by becoming an active supporter of Women In Lighting (WIL). As a demonstration of this commitment, the lighting manufacturer hosted the first WIL Entertainment Lighting Session at its Paris HQ in late October 2022. Although WIL has always been open to all women working in lighting, Founders Sharon Stammers and Martin Lupton expressed in the build up to the event that they had not

previously had the time to dedicate to those working in entertainment, instead focusing on women working in architectural lighting. But now thanks to the collaboration with Ayrton, the organisation is looking to work with more individuals working in entertainment lighting including stage, TV, concerts and events. “It’s been great for WIL to expand in this direction and to be able to include other women working in different sectors of lighting to those already part of the project,” stated Stammers. “It’s exciting to talk with women working in a field that we know very little about and to hear stories of their lives in light.” Discussing the latest collaboration was Ayrton’s Business Development Manager, Linnea Ljungmark. “In March 2020 when most of us were spending a lot of time at home, I spotted an invitation for the Women In Lighting Global Gathering and decided to sign up,” reflected Ljungmark. “It turned out to be a day full of interesting presentations and social roulettes where I met and networked with women from all over the world. I have been in the industry for most of my work life and even though I always had male supporters, I sometimes felt like an outsider. I met so many others like me, which was very inspiring and comforting, and I felt that I wanted to share this experience with others.” Due to her positive experience at the WIL Gathering, Ljungmark reached out to the project to see if they would be interested in expanding the project to include entertainment lighting. With WIL on board, plans were made to create an in-person event that would inspire the WIL community. The events saw talks from the likes of Yanina Kovalevska, Briony Berning, Akari-Lisa Ishii and Cristina Martinez. Each of the speakers gave attendees personal anecdotes of how they found themselves in their respective fields.


After an introduction by Ljungmark and the team at Light Collective, the sessions kicked off with Kovalevska giving an insight into the rental markets and telling the story of how she founded PR MUSIC in 2005, which has since developed to include several other companies and projects such as AVEcON, EdIsOn Camp and Stagemart. Next, Berning spoke of her journey through the ranks of the UK theatre industry as an aspiring lighting tech to her current role as Account Manager at Ambersphere – Ayrton’s exclusive UK distributer. After a short lunch break, Akari-Lisa Ishii, founder of the company I.C.O.N, took to the stage to talk about some of her work in designing lighting from everything from community areas in cities all the way up to the Eiffel Tower and how she approaches each of these projects. Finally, Martinez from ACTLD and ambassador of WIL for Belgium gave a deep dive into the ‘design process’ and the ways her and the team from ACTLD manage to get from an initial idea to the final project. “My personal highlight was after the event when I saw the social media posts from participants and received emails from women thanking us,” commented Ljungmark. “They expressed feeling empowered, less lonely and inspired. It was heartwarming and touching and motivates us to do this again.” “The diverse backgrounds of the speakers made the day varied and interesting,” added Stammers, giving her thoughts on the event. After the talks, Ayrton demonstrated some of its latest products including the Cobra, the company’s phosphor laser source luminaire.

During the demonstration, Ayrton’s CEO Christopher Ferrante used the opportunity to express his admiration of the work WIL does for the industry. “From a corporate perspective, doing these types of collaborations can be seen as just a ‘nice thing to do’,” he stated. “However, we at Ayrton think this type of project is essential. I really can’t say enough about what WIL is doing and we are very proud to be part of the WIL initiative.” Ljungmark echoed this point: “Support from organisations like Ayrton is needed to keep projects like WIL alive and growing. This is part of a bigger picture and one where we will field topics like mental health in workplaces as well

as company profitability related to diversity. The idea is that we as an industry can benefit from it.” “We are thankful to Aryton for making the day happen,” concluded Stammers. “They are committed to helping us share the work of women in this sector and supporting some real change in the industry. Their support will enable us to raise the profile of women working in entertainment lighting.” The teams at WIL and Ayrton stated that there would certainly be more collaborations and events in 2023. To keep up to date, sign up for the WIL newsletter via its website. www.womeninlighting.com www.ayrton.eu

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PRODUCTION PROFILE

SWEDISH HOUSE MAFIA: PARADISE AGAIN TOUR After nine years away, Axwell, Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso return to the touring circuit with a production featuring a giant, automated concrete donut, special effects and pyrotechnics aplenty, lasers, low fog and a bassy sound system to boot.

Words: Jacob Waite Photos: Alden Bonecutter, Michael Drummond, Trey Carson & TPi



PRODUCTION PROFILE

Hot on the heels of their headline Coachella set with The Weeknd and the trio’s first US tour in close to a decade, Swedish House Mafia and their new-look production team descended on UK and European venues, presenting a ‘rave inside an arena’-inspired live experience with all the bells and whistles that audiences have come to expect from Axwell, Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso’s live shows. This time around, that included a giant, automated concrete circle sandwiched between two circular lighting rigs, 550 hits of pyrotechnics, lasers, low fog and special effects aplenty, in addition to the thumping, bass-driven sound system. “It’s good to be back in the UK with a great crew and Swedish House Mafia,” said Production Manager, Will Keating of eighteentwentysix, filling in TPi on what to expect when the doors eventually open, swathes of ravers enter, and the lights dim. “This is a show with heavy bass, pyrotechnics aplenty, amazing lighting and stage design, and a brilliantly mixed show – which Swedish House Mafia faithful love.” Having successfully navigated the pathway from the other side of the Atlantic to Manchester’s AO Arena for the first show of the UK and Europe campaign, Keating waxed lyrical about the challenges of staging this ambitious production. “Budgets are always a challenge, especially when we factor in everything that

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comes with a Swedish House Mafia live show. They know what they want, and we try our best to match that – and we have – which has been tough amid the economic situation,” Keating said. “Thankfully, we contacted all of our trusted suppliers and consolidated the kit well in advance.” With eighteentwentysix providing production expertise and Human Person curating the show design, Keating’s technical suppliers of choice in the UK and Europe were Christie Lites for rigging, automation and lighting; ER Productions for lasers; Swedishbased Unique Pyrotechnic for special effects, atmospherics and pyrotechnics; Eighth Day Sound; Stagetruck; All Access Staging; and csuk buses. “The industry is still playing catch up,” Keating reported. “There are lots of challenges in today’s world, but we had a great US run, so hopefully now we can kick on, and have an equally successful tour in the UK and Europe.” ‘INFINITE PAN AND TILT’ Founded by Ben Dalgleish and Ian Valentine, Los Angeles-based creative studio Human Person began chatting with Swedish House Mafia and Designer, Alex Wessley ahead of the trio’s headline Coachella set. With three circles synonymous with the iconography of Swedish House Mafia, Wessley sketched a central concrete ring as the focal point of the stage

design. Human Person then developed the idea to involve not only the concrete ring, but also an automated circular lighting truss, a further static circular truss and a DJ riser design – transforming an idea from the sketchpad to reality, with a tourable show design. The designers used Vectorworks to create the bulk of the technical drawings, working from concept drawings created by Frances Waite, Human Person’s Art Director. That data was then transposed into Syncronorm Depence2 to create photorealistic pre-visualisations and creative pdfs, which were sent to Swedish House Mafia and their management team for approval. While at Coachella, the production team was unable to automate the ring due to load capacity restrictions, however, for the Paradise Again Tour, the team modified and manoeuvred the set piece and a circular centre truss using Kinesys. Built by All Access Staging, the ring tours in eight individual sections, which are bolted together and lifted as one solid piece. When it comes out of the truck for each show, a team of carpenters build it into one piece, roll it into place on castor wheels and then it is lifted by chain motors. Once it is air-bound, it stays aloft until the start of the show, where it is exposed to the audience by a curtain drop. “During the rehearsal stage for the tour, we made use of the amazing facilities at Rock Lititz. We gathered a team of talented lighting, Notch,



PRODUCTION PROFILE

and laser programmers. The team consisted of Nick Van Nostrand, Davey Martinez, Derek Abbot, Ryan Sheppard, Stephen Hedges, Brandon Wade, Ivan Dokmanovic and I,” Dalgleish said. “Here, we built the show with round-the-clock programming sessions.” This was where all the planning, calculating, and visualising became reality. “The ring has fared well on the road,” commented Stephen Hedges, Technical Director for Human Person and Show Director for Paradise Again Tour. “We repainted sections as and when needed. Tell Me Scenic was in charge of building the large ramp DJ riser. They came up with a purpose-built aluminium frame structure that is constructed each show day by the talented group of carps touring with us.” The design also stands up to a range of venue sizes. “We don’t change much depending on the venue,” Hedges revealed. “Other than the positions of the audience trusses, our lighting towers remain identical, with the only limitation being the height with 60ft verticals, which are adjusted to fit depending on the roof sizes.” In the UK, the team switched from VariLite VL10 BEAMWASH fixtures on the front,

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audience and tower trusses to Martin MAC Axioms, and CHAUVET Professional Color STRIKE M Hybrid Strobes to GLP JDC1 fixtures, due to availability. Hedges dubbed the centre circle truss of ACME Lighting Gemini light sources as “amazing” workhorse fixtures. “They are the signature look of the show. I really love them,” he said. “They have infinite pan and tilt abilities, a powerful zoom range, impressive strobe capabilities and amazing colour output.” The team’s main challenge each night is weight limits. The ring is heavy; add the Gemini ring and a further automated outer circular truss of lighting situated in the roof, and it makes for a heavy load for the mother grid to handle. Additionally, matching the colour output of each fixture to create a series of uniform looks was something Dalgleish and the team of lighting programmers paid particular attention to. Despite being faced with the task of enthralling 21,000 ravers during the debut show of the campaign, the vibe among the crew in Manchester’s AO Arena remained relaxed. “[Lighting Programmer] Davey Martinez has been here overnight for the past two days

programming, so we’re in a good place now,” Hedges said. “The only thing we need to fix is a few track changes and the final bits of preparation for the support acts.” Using MA Lighting grandMA3 lighting consoles streaming sACN to program the show, Hedges lauded Christie’s on-site kit and crew as “fantastic”. The fully timecoded show, operated on ShowKontrol, fed a timeline to the video, lasers, lighting, pyro and automation departments. “Although most of lighting is pre-programmed, additional hits, sidelight, key light, smoke and atmospherics are triggered live as well as any fixes, if required, to ensure the show runs perfectly each night,” Hedges explained. He highlighted Time / Reload as among his favourite looks of the lighting design. “It demonstrates the function and creative capabilities of the Gemini’s pan and tilt, making it look like a spaceship,” he added. “The other big hits like Heaven Takes You Home / Greyhound / Sweet Disposition and Don’t You Worry Child / Save the World are crowd favourites.” As well as the pyro-laden Frankenstein / More Than You Know, Hedges cited the use of


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PRODUCTION PROFILE

lasers during Antidote as another key moment of the set. “Derek Abbott did some incredible laser programming for us during rehearsals in Lititz. We also have some amazing Notch effect layers created purely for IMAG usage, thanks to Ryan Sheppard at Dark Matter Technologies.” As well as being the Notch Designer, Sheppard helped Hedges build a custom video rack with bespoke PCs running Resolume specifically for this project. Being a lighting-heavy show, the use of video content is very minimal. In total there are three LED screens, which are mainly used for IMAG and Notch effects. Provided by Fuse Technical Group, Video Crew Chief, Loic Woehrel and Video Technician, Tess Wolsky built the camera and LED setup for each show. “Stage left and stage right screens are used for the majority of the show, but there is one hero moment during the song One, where the two automated rings lift up flat to their home positions to unveil the third screen, giving each member their own screen, which always gets the crowd going,” Hedges explained. For the London tour dates and some of the Europe run, PixMob deployed WaveBands, which ran on radio frequency, under the supervision of Félix Torres. “We were on site the day of the show and required no rigging,” said

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PixMob’s Pauline Rosen. “We’ve developed the technology behind our RF wristband to match our IR capabilities, which boasts the most advanced bank of LED wearable effects on the market while making the set up way easier.” ‘MACRAMÉ TO SWEDISH HOUSE MAFIA’ Having taken over from the US run, replicating the design bar a few fixture swaps depending on availability, existing lighting systems were adapted for the continent. “Because we had stuff flying in from America, we had to do some prep on site,” noted Lighting Crew Chief, Alex Griffiths, freelancing for Christie Lites. “The set and carpentry team created some nice ‘toppers’ for us on the truss to stick the Gemini units on.” With eight members of crew in the team, including Griffiths, freelance Lighting Technician, Deanna ‘DeDe’ Mcintyre – who toured the Stateside campaign with US vendor, Fuse Technical Group – and Sally Tolly rigged the circular lighting trusses. “We build both massive circle lighting rigs every day,” she said, explaining the process. “We start by building the small circular lighting rig, putting it on motor boxes, putting the brackets, braces and fixtures on.” While the ring is built on the arena floor, the lighting crew float both lighting circles to trim

height, while the ring is wheeled into place and hung. “The static circular lighting truss plays a massive part of the opening of the show as the kabuki is now rigged from the circle, unlike in the US, where there was a separate truss just for that,” Griffiths explained. “We’ve also designed a good system with a lot of pre-rig and pre-rig cable bridges due to the amount of stuff going into the middle – this makes our life easier and goes in and out quicker. We’ve tried to perfect a system where it rolls in and out easily.” Despite being a key component of the build, DeDe was embarking on her first UK tour to date. “I’ve been in the live entertainment industry for six years, but I’ve only recently become involved in the production side of things. This is technically my second tour, so being involved in hanging a third of the rig every day is a fun challenge. I had goals when I started six years ago, but I didn’t think I’d excel to this point,” she enthused, pointing out her favourite moments of the show. “Redlight makes me giggle – there’s one single laser that shoots out from FOH and everyone goes batshit crazy for it.” Like so many in the sector, amid the pandemic, DeDe was effectively unemployed – she spent most of the lockdown creating and


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PRODUCTION PROFILE

selling macramé items out of her garage at craft fairs to make ends meet. “It’s good to be back and working alongside Christie has been a great experience. I have never been more thankful to have such a great crew around me,” she summarised. “I feel really fortunate.” The wider European tour lighting team comprised Lighting Operator, Jonothan Myers, Dimmer Technician, Richard Griffin; Dimmers and Audience Technician, Tom Forward; Audience and Circle Technician, Joanne Sparham-Ferrier; and Towers and Ladders Technicians, Harvey Fitzpatrick and Charlie Denny. “We all jump in on the floor lights, which consist of 138 fixtures!” Griffiths exclaimed. “Christie is a great company, with nice people, and good kit. I’ve taken a slight step back from touring since the pandemic, doing a lot more television and broadcast work, but it’s nice to be back on the road and tackling a big project. Every department has been keen on helping – it’s very much a ‘one team, one mission’ vibe.” Hedges added: “The US side of the tour had an amazing team putting in the work to get this massive lighting project loaded in as fast as possible.” The US team consisted of Lighting Operator, Brandon Wade; Crew Chief, Glenn Power; as well as Technicians, Bart Lee, Eric Marshall, Paul Carson, and Aaron Garcia. ‘MAKING MODIFICATIONS’ To ensure automation, the ring operated on four Kinesys motors. “The ring was slightly heavier than anticipated, so we had to make some modifications to make it happen,” Automation Engineer, Giulio Ligorio said. Taking over from Tommy Dewitt Jr, who ran automation for the US tour, the systems changed slightly in the UK. Ligorio’s rig comprised Kinesys Elevation 1+ variable speed chain hoist control motors and a PD-ES distribution rack. For control, he relied on Kinesys Vector motion control software and Mentor Series 4 safety controllers – a main and backup unit – which he dubbed ‘the extra brain in the system’ when it came to assessing over or underloads. “Kinesys does not support timecode, which is why we are using Resolume. It’s a tricky show to programme because there are not many cues, but they must be done in a certain way, otherwise the circles will get stuck within each other. There are also lots of delays between moves; they very rarely move at the same time,” he said, highlighting what other challenges he had to contend with. “The ring never comes low or close to the DJ, so that’s not a safety concern. However, the lighting circle does come quite low, and there’s a flight case backstage, so when the lighting circle tilts it can come close to that – which is probably the main hazard of the show.” With the motors running at 10m per minute, Ligorio described the show as “quite slow” in terms of automation. The fastest manoeuvre is around 5m a minute and the average is around 60 seconds to complete the cue. “The slower the move – the less dynamic stress there is on the rig in general,” he remarked. Indeed, the slower it moves, the more time there is to assess the situation. “There’s loads of flashing, pyro, smoke and lasers above my set come showtime and when the ring is low, I’m unable to see inside of it,” he noted. “Thankfully, this system is clever enough to tell me if there’s

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PRODUCTION PROFILE

an under or overload, or if something is running faster or slower than necessary.” In closing, Ligorio praised the tour’s rigging, automation and lighting vendor. “We had the issue of the ring being heavier than we anticipated, so we had to source alternative, larger motors and extra kit, such as spares and drives, but by lunchtime the next day, I had everything I needed,” he shared. “I started working with Christie Lites when they first opened in Coventry, which didn’t have any Kinesys at the time. I like them; their kit is brand new and well maintained – it is a great company with fantastic support.”

Production Manager, Will Keating with Technical Director, Stephen Hedges; Unique Pyrotechnic’s Jacob Vinnars and Alex Tidesjö; Automation Engineer, Giulio Ligorio; Audio Crew Chief, Terence Hulkes; Backline Technician, Tremaine Williams; Laser Operator, Ivan Dokmanovic; Lighting Technician, Deanna ‘DeDe’ Mcintyre; Lighting Crew Chief, Alex Griffiths.

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‘550 HITS OF PYROTECHNICS’ Pyro/SFX Crew Chief, Programmer and Unique Pyrotechnic Project Manager, Alex Tidesjö and a group of four crew members led the special effects, low fog, flames and pyrotechnics charge, overseeing the deployment of some 550 pyro effects per show. “As a Swedish company, we’re aware of Swedish House Mafia’s history and their artistry, so it’s a big show for us,” Tidesjö commented. “We’ve come onboard to increase the value of the pyrotechnics, special effects and atmospheric elements of the show to match the quality and impressive nature of the whole production.” To this end, Unique manned two towers each side of the stage with truss ladders. On each ladder was a flame unit firing flame horizontally outwards. On each truss was a designated pyro position and at the lip of the stage loaded with Gerb, Jet, Mine, and

StarBurst special effects. “We also have some flame units in the back, positioned to create ‘three fingers of fire’, tonnes of low fog crawling down the stage decks, as well as a line of pyro flames on the downstage edge,” he added, walking TPi through the setup. “We have around 550 pyro effects per show and 24 flame units, so it’s a big show. We fire from the front and back, which creates a lot of heat around the stage.” Hits of pyrotechnics and special effects featured throughout many tracks on the setlist. “There’s a big opening and finale, with hits on most tracks in between. Frankenstein / More Than You Know / Teasing Mr. Charlie is a huge pyro-led song. We do an effect called Photo Flashes, which is like a bright white flash in the towers with fire – it is my favourite moment of the show,” he recalled. “Each country has different pyrotechnic regulations,” he explained. “It’s always tricky to get everything approved in all countries, but we do everything by the book and we haven’t encountered any problems we’ve been unable to solve. We use the best equipment on the market to ensure a smooth delivery.” Taking extra precautions on arrival at each venue, Unique creates a demonstration for the authorities on site, firing each product to show them how it will be used on the show, how it looks and the height of each effect, as well as the temperature. “We also walk them through the setup, firing position, and demonstrate our professionalism,” he said, highlighting the challenge of working on various levels – from


the lighting tower to the front of the stage, and on the stage. “We have to coordinate with each department closely to ensure we can get our equipment out in a timely fashion in a synchronised manner,” Tidesjö added. “When you have pyrotechnics and flames on certain levels, it’s a challenge to keep everything safe. Thankfully, we have a big crew with spotters everywhere to ensure the safety of the performing artist, crew and audience.” Unique’s firing desk of choice was a G2 Fire Control. “It is the only firing system in the world that handles DMX and our pyrotechnics, which we programme in timecode and assign lines to,” he remarked. Throughout the show, Tidesjö received a timecode, and then checked in with his spotters, who were dotted around the stage for clearance before he armed and fired the system using a dead man’s switch. “Being able to tour as a full-time project manager makes it much easier, as there is a direct line of communication on site,” he acknowledged. “The team around me is extremely important, I’m really impressed by them. I just hold the dead man’s switch while they do all the hard work.” ‘AN IMPRESSIVE PRODUCTION’ ER Productions supplied 13, 30W AT30 lasers for the show. Four were placed on the downstage edge, with one at FOH on a lifting column, pointing towards the stage for Redlight. Six more lasers were located behind the DJ booth and two on trusses

behind the circle. “The first laser moment is during the track, Antidote, and then we use it in six songs after that,” Laser Operator, Ivan Dokmanovic explained. “It’s the perfect number of lasers, from my point of view with moments interspersed throughout the setlist.” Dokmanovic and Laser Programmer, Jimmy Boucher triggered the effects via Pangolin Beyond Ultimate from FOH. “We receive a timecode and run with that. Health and safety is of paramount importance to us. These are high powered units, so we ensure the beams are located at an appropriate height – generally 2m above people’s heads throughout the set.” As a full-time member of ER Productions since 2018, Dokmanovic believes this production is his best yet. “This is my favourite gig so far. It is my type of music; I have listened to Swedish House Mafia a lot – especially when I was growing up, so it feels like I’ve come ‘full circle’ to be on the road with them,” he concluded. “The whole production is extremely impressive.” ‘CREATING THE SPACESHIP’ Having spent the past 15 years touring as a freelance sound engineer – primarily with Britannia Row Productions or Eighth Day Sound, under the Clair Global banner – Audio Crew Chief, Terence Hulkes doubled as a FOH Technician, System Engineer and ProTools wizard, on the road. Joining him in the team was FOH Engineer, Antony King; Monitor Engineer, Nathan Langsford; Monitor Technician, Benjamin David,

who handled RF, stage sound and the opening acts; along with PA Technicians, Nicholas Millson and Richard Trow, who flew stage left and right, respectively. The main L-Acoustics PA hangs featured 14 K1s and four K2s. Flown sub came in the shape of 12 KS28s per side. The side hangs were made up of 10 K1s and six K2s per side. A ground sub arc of 36 KS28s in cardioid configuration; Eight L-Acoustics A15 and eight KARA IIs for ground fills. Sixty LA12X amps powered the system, while signal distribution was achieved via AVB over a fibre network using Luminex switches, headed up at FOH with a P1 for main system control. Monitor Engineer, Nathan Langsford mixed on a DiGiCo SD7 Quantum console with Waves servers in monitor world, while Antony King’s FOH console of choice was a Solid State Logic L550. His outboard gear comprised SSL boxes, Fusion and the brand-new THE BUS+ on loan. “We had a model in the US, which I believe was one of the first off the line, and in the UK and Europe, we’re using an engineer version, as well as standard reverb, delay, a UAD server, and a ProTools rig,” Hulkes explained. “This is a hard gig to put in and out of in a day due to sheer amount of stuff on the rig; it takes a long time, prioritising set and stage build, which takes the longest. We generally get in and get our stuff up quickly,” Hulkes added. “We only tie into house delays when necessary, in venues like London’s O2 and Antwerp’s Lotto Arena, but we are already pushing three trucks of audio gear.” Smaller sized arenas provide a challenge for the

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production. “Things may chop and change due to trim heights,” Hulkes acknowledged, going on to praise the tour vendor. “Eighth Day Sound’s support is always great. It is a great company, which is why I often work with them. Especially when you consider the global aspect of the company, under the Clair umbrella. Regardless of where you are in the world, you can get stuff easily.” In keeping with the slightly galactic theme, Backline Technician, Tremaine Williams is responsible for the mammoth, bespoke sci-fi inspired DJ desk on stage each night – setting it up and making sure it works ahead of each show. “I’ve spent 10 years as a recording and mixing engineer, so I can speak the language with the DJs from the studio side of things and translate that to the desk,” he said. With nothing but studio equipment on stage, aside from Pioneer CDJs, Williams was the best man for the job. “I showed up for rehearsals and thought ‘what is this monster?’” he laughed, gesturing to the UFO-like ring structure akin to Jordan Peele’s American neo-Western science fiction horror film, NOPE. Ahead of the Coachella show, Williams spoke with Daniel Araya, who designed the desk – affectionately referred to as the ‘spaceship’ by Williams – which was created by teenageengineering. “Daniel had never done a show the scale of Coachella before, so he approached the task with the mindset of ‘how can I put together the best looking, functional and cool desk’. However, my job is to figure out anything that could possibly go wrong. After that first weekend in the unforgiving Colorado Desert, Daniel understood the adjustments needed to make the desk robust, road-tested

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and tourable,” Williams recounted. Before reconstruction, the desk required three different screwdrivers to assemble it. “My load out must be quick – it’s the first thing off the stage. After the load in and out of Coachella, he took it back to Sweden and made adjustments within a tight time frame to simplify it for touring,” Williams said, sharing the creative process from render to reality. “This is his baby. Daniel built it in his workshop, 3D printed all the faders, knobs and everything on there – the whole surface is custom made,” he explained. “Swedish House Mafia told teenageengineering what they wanted in the desk, they laid it out and made it look cool in the drawing and then Daniel in his ‘mad scientist workshop’ figured out how to make it functional. It was a cool process, which I’m happy to be a part of.” With the only desk of its kind in the world at his disposal, Williams is effectively beta testing a prototype each show. “It has its challenges. Any issue is new, so trying to troubleshoot issues as and when has proved interesting – it’s also being road tested for the first time, bouncing up and down in a truck each day. Thankfully, there have been no major issues thus far!” Axwell, Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso specified CDJ 3000s, a DJM-V10 with long faders, networked together with Toraiz SB16 on the far left of the desk on one router within the desk. “We shoot out timecode to Stephen [Hedges] at FOH, so he catches everything at ShowKontrol and works his magic over there,” Williams commented. In addition to Pioneer gear, the spaceship boasted Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol F1 and X1 on both sides on a USB hub, which hit an Apple Mac

Mini inside the desk, with an iPad as a touch screen for the Mac Mini, a Solid State Logic SSL2+ USB audio interface for TRAKTOR DJ 2 software, which run independently of the CDJs. On the far end of the spaceship was a Native Instruments MASCHINE+ groovebox and samplers, with an audio direct out and USB set to TRAKTOR DJ 2 software as well. The CDJs both hit VERMONA Lancet filters, a specification made by the DJs. “Daniel had to take two VERMONA filters apart and build it into the surface of the desk; now each CDI hits the filter and then the mixer,” Williams explained. The desk also boasted a Roland VT-4 voice transformer with a built-in microphone, as well as decorative lights, reel-to-reels on motors and a VU metre, which not only looks impressive but is connected to the master mix and interacts in real-time with the music. “They switch up their mix from night to night, I just ensure everything works when they get up there. One of the tracks I’ve come to love during the course of this process is Turn On The Lights Again. Frankenstein with the pyrotechnics and fire is also really dope. Every night there’s something different. This production is amazing. As Sebastian likes to say, ‘This isn’t a concert, it’s a rave in an arena’.” www.swedishhousemafia.com www.eighteentwentysix.com www.humanperson.com www.christielites.com www.er-productions.com www.uniquepyro.no www.8thdaysound.com www.stagetruck.com www.allaccessinc.com www.csuk.coach www.teenage.engineering


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PRODUCTION PROFILE

ROXY MUSIC 50TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR 2022 Returning to the stage for the first time in over a decade, the famed art-rock group presents a trip down memory lane for fans on both sides of the Atlantic. This intricate and multi-layered stage design sees audio, lighting and video departments collaborating to deliver a production worthy of the band’s back catalogue.

Words: Stew Hume Photos: Andrew Benge and Daniel Richardson



PRODUCTION PROFILE

There have been a slew of anniversary shows hitting the road over the past year in tandem with the return of live events. However, those that standout are when the artist and crew not only take the opportunity to pay tribute to their back catalogues, but seek to make use of the most modern technology and push production values. Roxy Music and their hardworking touring family certainly achieved this on their latest UK tour, which concluded in October 2022. No stranger to the road, front man, Bryan Ferry has entertained theatresized venues to great success over the years. Having linked up with his former bandmates – guitarist, Phil Manzanera; drummer, Paul Thompson; and saxophonist, Andy Mackay – there was clearly a push to modernise the set, with the heavy utilisation of video in arenasized venues throughout the US and UK. As TPi made the rounds of the AO Arena in Manchester, there was a sense that even though many of the latest technological tricks were on display, the goal was to never let these take away from the nostalgia but to enhance it. Having overseen Ferry’s tours since 2017, Production Manager, Adam King was the natural choice to oversee this venture. Sitting in King’s office a few hours before doors, the PM

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walked TPi through the journey so far that led to this tour. “Once I was informed that Roxy Music were reforming for a huge US arena tour, playing Madison Square Garden, Chicago United Center and LA’s Kia Forum, to name a few, I knew we had to come up with a show that was special and big enough to fill these massive arenas,” he reported. “50 years is one of those milestones that makes sense to celebrate, so the core team began pulling the pieces together last year.” Many of the main players were brought over from Bryan Ferry’s solo production team as well as members of his touring band. As Roxy Music hadn’t been on stage together since 2011, the production had little choice but to start from scratch on the design. King put his faith in several technical suppliers that had been with Ferry previously including: Britannia Row Productions for audio; Christie Lites; THiNC Worldwide for rigging; All Access Staging; Rock-It Global for freighting; travel agents The Tour Company; csuk; Stagetruck; Popcorn Catering and CSE Radiotek. “The only dramatic change of hands was on the video front,” stated King. “We used Fuse Technical Group in the US and Video Design in

the UK as our video suppliers. Both companies had a vast amount of the ROE Visual V8 screen that was needed for this design and Fuse and Video Design have a close working relationship making the transition seamless.” King highlighted the benefit of using companies with a presence on both sides of the Atlantic, such as Christie Lites, meaning they were able to replicate the design for the US run with stock from the UK. “As this was not a particularly long run with 10 shows in America over five weeks and only three in the UK, we had all our audio control freighted over for the UK to the US and back,” stated the PM. The PM divulged some of the issues with juggling a large transatlantic show in 2022. “The cost of everything has got a lot more expensive,” he asserted while comparing touring back in 2019 to now. “I have to credit Rock-It, which has been brilliant and on the ball to ensure every move went off without a hitch and as cost-effectively as possible.” King went on to express how due to these mounting financial pressures, the topic of tour budget was even higher on the priority list than it would have been previously. “On a show of this size, it’s now the first thing I look at. Even after I had booked the majority of this tour


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PRODUCTION PROFILE

back in January, myself and Matt Arthur – our Show Designer - had to make many design alterations due to spiralling cost increases with the aim of trying to make this project more cost effective,” he said, complementing his crew for their flexibility, having redesigned the show due to budgetary confinements. The PM expressed the struggles of amassing a full team for the tour. “It’s been clear that suppliers have been struggling due to the sheer amount of shows that are going out at the moment. Everyone is stretched and it’s challenging to get the crew needed. COVID-19 is still a major factor – in the US, we lost five members of the crew, which we had to replace at the last minute.” That said, King seemed pleased with the outcome of the UK shows, which concluded with the band’s O2 arena performance in London. “I think everyone wanted to see how this show would go down and it’s been really well received by the audiences and the band have really enjoyed themselves. I feel between the four of them they would quite like to do more so we’ll have to watch this space.” RE-MAKE/RE-MODEL “Having worked with Bryan since 2015, I was more than familiar with the material, although this was the first time we’d stepped into arenas with these songs and with the remainder of

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the original group,” said Matt Arthur, Bryan Ferry’s long-serving Lighting Designer, who stepped smoothly into the role of Lighting and Production Designer for this tour. “With dates scheduled for some big stages like Madison Square Garden and The Kia Forum in LA, it became apparent that we needed to step up the production from theatre designs.” This included the addition of video. “I’ve never really used a large-format video before,” he stated. “Bryan’s shows are usually all about using drapes and set pieces to make the performance space more intimate. With greater space to fill, video seemed like the ideal option. However, I did not want to simply stick a large flat video surface upstage, as that can mean you’re really stuck for angles. My goal was to push for layers.” Drawing inspiration from the Guggenheim Museum, which was featured in a poster on the wall of Bryan Ferry’s studios, Arthur began sketching an ambitious design with several layers of LED at different angles to create a canvas that would ensure everyone in the arena could enjoy the content. “No matter where you sit, you will see some sort of screen,” he explained. “The side screens are angled in for those down the front or the side who are looking at the stage from an angle.” He continued: “I remember thinking during rehearsals ‘there is a lot of screen up there!’

when we were literally 10m away from it all. In total, there’s a large front screen that’s 17m by 4m in a chevron shape approximately 5m upstage, again to help the side views. There are then two further screens that are lower but set back, which are 3m by 15m and 3m by 13m. Finally the lowest and furthest upstage sceen is 11m by 2m.” The were also four wing screens each at 5m by 3m, along with two others at 5m by 2m, as well as additional screens across the sides and front of the risers. It was not only video that presented a new challenge for Arthur but his workflow itself. Firstly was his control setup – an MA Lighting grandMA3 console running MA2 software. “I’ve been a Jands Vista user for a very long time but due to the number of shows using grandMA, I knew I had to get my head around it,” he stated. “I love the Vista software and it does some amazing things, but I knew I had to bring an MA onto a tour to get comfortable with it. It’s not until you’re in the heat of battle that you work out how to do tasks quickly.” Daniel Richardson and Neil Holloway were invaluable in the programming of the show. “Neil and I did two weeks pre-visualisation work in Bryan’s studio along with Matisse [Desmedt] and Steve [Price], moulding the lighting and video content together. We were very thankful for that time and Bryan enjoyed seeing how his show was coming together,” stated Arthur.



PRODUCTION PROFILE

“He and his son Isaac were quite involved with the look once we started to tie it all together, tweaking content here and timing there.” Richardson stepped in for the last few days of pre-vis for a handover and then joined the team for production rehearsals in Toronto, plus the first three shows of the tour. Kyle Reseigh from Bluman Associates also assisted the team with building the Notch effects while in the studio. “The crew on this has been spectacular all round, very attentive and always calm,” enthused Arthur. “Adam and I owe a lot to all of them. It was a monster but they tamed it everyday!” In the build up, the creative team made use of Syncronorm Depence². “I initially drew the show on Vectorworks and then sent it onto the Depence² software. We’d had Chris Scott and Nikita Jakovlev assist us in the initial stage to get it up and running. Ian Gordon from Christie Lites, who look after the Michael Bublé tour, had explained how the production had really benefitted from taking the Depence² system while on the road, so we opted to do the same.” The designer explained that having Depence² on tour allowed him to take care of daily tweaks to the show while waiting for the rig to be built. “Even when we’re two shows

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from the end of the run, I still have notes on each performance – having Depence² to facilitate those changes has been very helpful.” In between each of the layers of video, Arthur deployed several fixtures to accentuate the ‘layered’ look of LED. “I didn’t want to have loads of different types of fixtures; I much prefer using multiples of the same,” he stated. The fixtures in question comprised 74 Martin Viper Profiles, 70 Viper Performances, 17 Viper Wash DX along with 94 GLP impression X4 Bar 20s and two Robe BMFLs, which were coupled with two RoboSpots for followspot duties. Arthur used Performances on the front truss and side floors with key lighting coming from Viper Wash DX units. “Having this many of the same fixture is a nicer experience as all the gobos are the same. It’s always one of my biggest bugbears on festival rigs when you have a plethora of different fixtures all with different characteristics,” he added. “It’s more aesthetically pleasing to look at the back wall and the shapes are exactly the same.” As the three UK shows were carbon copy design wise from the US run, the production opted to bring over the entire lighting team from America. “This show is intricate when it comes to the integration of lighting and

Production Manager, Adam King; Video Director, Steve Price and Video Engineer Harry Watkinson; Lighting and Production Designer Matt Arthur; Media Server Operator, Matisse Desmedt and Luna Remote Operator, Patrick Hall.



PRODUCTION PROFILE

video and given it’s only three shows and it’s the exact gear duplicated by Christie’s UK office, it made sense to bring over the people that had already worked with the show for several weeks,” stated Lighting Crew Chief, Paul Runnals. For the US, the lighting team consisted of a five-strong team that was upped to six for the UK run. “The additional member was to aid in the burden of a compressed time frame on these UK shows,” Runnals stated. The Lighting Crew Chief and Arthur share a history working with one another, most recently in Saudi Arabia on a Formula 1 event. “In the early conversations about this rig with the layer of video and lighting rig being so close together, we opted to add a mother grid,” explained Runnals. “It gave us the consistency to be able to ‘thread the needle’ every single day with confidence.” TAKE A CHANCE WITH ME “Matt Arthur was one of those people who I’ve always wanted to work with, so when I got an email from him and Adam King out of the blue, I was incredibly flattered,” began Video Director, Steve Price, speaking from a flight case in video world as the last-minute prep to remote cameras was taking place. “Matt had seen some of the work I had done with Queen +

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Adam Lambert, which has quite an impressive screen setup. I aided in some of the initial drawings and put a crew together.” As Price was going to be working with an entirely new team with Fuse Technical Group in America, he requested that he bring in his number two, Harry Watkinson, who has been his ‘go to’ head engineer on several projects. “It was five years ago while working on Queen when our old engineer left, our video supplier at the time said that they had this new young engineer that would be perfect for the job. I’ll admit I was sceptical, but he’s hands down the best engineer I’ve ever worked with. He’s great and was on the top of my request list when I spoke to Matt and Adam.” On the topic of young engineers, Price commended the work of two 23-year-olds who made up his video team, namely Luna Remote Operator, Patrick Hall and Media Server Operator, Matisse Desmedt. According to Price, the exodus of experienced staff post-pandemic has presented opportunities for people such as Hall and Desmedt with the chance to work on shows of this scale. Price continued to discuss the vision for the shots he was trying to capture during the show. “As we have a seated audience, I knew from the beginning that I didn’t want to have loads of

Head Rigger, Jeremy Hoff; Monitor Engineer, Gavin Tempany, Production Manager, Adam King, FOH Engineer, Davide Lombardi; System Tech Ben Phillips; Keyboard and Playback Tech Matthew Miller.



PRODUCTION PROFILE

cameras in the pit blocking people’s view,” he stated. “The Luna Remote dolly was ideal.” Throughout the show, under Hall’s control, the dolly tracked from left to right, capturing some incredibly cinematic looks that were then superimposed on the rear LED surfaces. “The confidence and control he has on the system is amazing,” enthused Price, speaking in particular about its application on the first track, Re-make/Re-model. “That opening track is quite complicated. Each band member has a solo, which we need to capture on camera. For that song alone, I have two MEs. We’re generally up and running after that number.” As for the rest of the camera package, Price used a Sony HDC0-2500, with two long lenses at FOH along with a handheld on stage. Also on stage were three Panasonic robo cameras. All the shots were cut using a Ross Video Carbonite switcher. Along with the camera package, Video Design replicated the LED structure, made up of ROE Visual V8T Vanish panels. The versatile design provided the team options to showcase the rear drape when the screens were not in use. As for the back end, Brompton Technology processors were used to drive the visual content to the screens from a main and a backup disguise gx 2c media server. Throughout the show, Price harnessed Notch effects tastefully to pay homage to the band’s 50-year career. “There is a massive

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amount of responsibility when you work for what I call a ‘legacy’ band such as Roxy Music. You have to be aware of the heritage but I think we’ve got the balance right.” He cited the creative decision to keep all IMAG content on the main screens rather than using traditional left and right IMAG screens to ensure that “all eyes in the audience remained on stage.” Alongside the live camera footage, a great deal of content was created for the project with much of it coming from the Roxy Music’s archive. “I wanted to get as much of the archive footage and material on the screens as possible,” explained Arthur. “The band has rooms of archival material – from news clippings, to photos and raw video footage. It was my job to showcase their history through pictures and video.” Helping put all this footage together were Content Creators, Ferry Gouw and Anna Boberg. The duo helped create this content and then sent it on to Desmedt to programme through his disguise setup. THE MAIN THING With an elaborate mother grid system to contend with, Head Rigger, Jeremy Hoff had quite a challenge ahead of him. “We recreated the mother grid from the US run at Christie Lites Coventry base, which weighs in at 96,000lbs. It’s not hugely heavy but still large

enough that we had to do engineering reports on a few of the venues.” Hoff explained how the production usually has the grid hanging after two-and-a-half hours and then up to trim around the three-hour mark. “We’re using double break TR motors to hang the system. For this show we ask for a local crew of six down and 18 up.” Hoff was keen to comment on the shortfall of available riggers – an issue that was clear on both sides of the Atlantic. “We’ve been short by two or four people in most cities. Even with stagehands it appears to be an issue.” EDITIONS OF YOU Bryan Ferry’s long-serving FOH Engineer, Davide Lombardi answered the call to oversee the Roxy Music arena run. “I’ve been doing Bryan’s shows since 2016 so I was more than familiar with the material,” he began. “That said, this was a little bit different as for Bryan’s shows I’m working with session musicians whereas this time round the mission was to really capture what was being delivered from the stage by the original musicians.” The engineer went on to explain how Roxy’s music by its very nature was “dense”, which created an intriguing challenge when it comes to mixing. “There are multiple layers and there is not much space within the mix,” he stated. “The trick is creating separation and space to


ensure everyone gets heard while still delivering that classic Roxy sound.” As well as the original members, several of Bryan’s usual touring band was also on stage, doubling or harmonising with the other musicians, adding to the complexity of the mix, which Lombardi then had to control. “The entire mix is incredibly dynamic but never particularly loud,” he stated. “It’s an hour and 45 minute show, so I never want people leaving with ringing ears. The show varies between 90db- 103db, allowing the sound to breathe.” According to the FOH engineer, this show was one of those projects where he has his head very much buried in the desk rather than looking at the stage to ensure everything is in order. “It’s a project where you need to have a close working relationship with your fellow engineer,” he said, praising the support of Monitor Engineer, Gavin Tempany. With both engineers opting for a Solid State Logic L550, the duo were sharing racks with Tempany having control of the gain and Lombardi then using the trim if he needed to change anything. “There is simply too much going on and it would be easy to lose track if we were unable to work together,” Lombardi stated. “With 13 musicians in total, there were certainly some times during the rehearsals where I had to scratch my head to figure out where certain sounds were coming from,” chuckled Tempany, joining the conversation. “That said, all the players have had reasonable monitor requests and it all comes together pretty easily.”

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In an attempt to keep noise down on stage, particularly due to the risk of spill down Bryan Ferry’s main vocal microphone, all musicians were on IEMs. “We did a deal with Ultimate Ears prior to the tour with most of the players on the UE11s,” stated Tempany. “I oversee 18 wireless packs, including backline and stage techs. We’re using a Shure system and thankfully I’ve got my RF tech Beth O’ Leary in the UK, which frees up my time during show day.” While on the topic of wireless systems, Tempany was keen to show TPi his own 3D printed creations for the Saxophones on the tour. Namely a wireless transmitter that was held onto the instrument by magnets rather than a traditional Velcro strap. “I created something similar while touring with Mark Knopfler and they have been working really well on this tour,” he stated, proudly. For microphones, the audio team put the front man on an Audio-Technica AE 6100 while the rest of the backing vocalists were on Shure beta 58s. “Two other notable additions on the microphone front were the SD Systems mics we have put on the saxophones and the Earthworks mics on the drums,” stated Lombardi. “The SD Systems option has been great and essential as the sax played quite a big role in this show. Whereas the Earthworks have made the snare and toms sound amazing.” The rest of the inputs for guitarists came via

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Universal Audio systems and in addition for Phil Manzanera an offstage amplifier in an iso box. At FOH, Lombardi relied on three pieces of outboard gear – a Bricasti M7, a TC Electronic D-two and a Yamaha SPX2000. “I’ve got the Bricasti because I love the reverb whereas the other two are for very specific moments in the set. Other than that, the desk setup is very simple and just trying to translate what they are creating on stage,” he explained. L-Acoustics was the PA of choice, provided by audio supplier, Britannia Row Productions. The touring audio design was by Ben Phillips. “He wanted even coverage to deal with this mix that doesn’t have a very high SPL but is incredibly dynamic,” stated Phillips as he outlined Lombardi’s initial goals of the rig. With such a busy system up in the roof already with the LED and lighting rig, Phillips had a challenge ahead of him to achieve the brief. “I had to make sure everything was high enough so as not to effect the lighting and video, which was particularly difficult as some of the lighting truss were very high in the trim.” Due to the size of some of the arenas in America, the PA was slightly smaller than what was in the roof at the AO Arena in Manchester. “We’ve got K1 and K2 on the main and side hangs with K3 in the rear,” explained Phillips. “For delays, we have four hangs of KARA that move around depending on the setup of

the venue. Then in the centre of the rig there are KS28s and a single X15, which provides the centre fill. Finally, on the floor there are additional KS28s with a smattering of X8s and A15s for those final bits of coverage. All told, it’s a fairly comprehensive rig.” Lombardi was keen to compliment the work of Phillips throughout this project. “Without Ben here I would not have even had five minutes to speak to TPi as I’d have to spend my entire time tuning the PA along with ensuring everything at FOH was spot on. I was very happy to have him on this run as in my opinion he’s one of the best in the world at what he does.” Speaking more generally about the PA, Lombardi explained why L-Acoustics was the ideal brand for this project. “It’s usually my top choice due to its natural sound,” he stated. “It’s not compressed or over processed and what comes in, comes out.” And as previously stated, that was the main goal of this project to “replicate the stage source” to the best of his ability. Following a generation-spanning career alongside the artist, Britannia Row Productions’ Bryan Grant gave his thoughts: “Roxy Music have been an iconic band since their beginnings and still remain incredibly relevant in music today,” he stated. “Not many acts have achieved that status. We provided audio for their tours in the ‘70s and ‘80s and we’ve been


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PRODUCTION PROFILE

privileged to also support Bryan Ferry’s solo tours since. Davide and Gavin have worked with us as freelancers for many years and, in my opinion, are some of the best engineers around today - as shown by the level of talent they mix. It’s been a real honour then and now, to work with Bryan and Roxy Music on their exceptional journey; heartfelt congratulations to them on their 50th Anniversary Tour.” TRUE TO LIFE Just before the house lights went down, there was one last department TPi was keen to speak to and that was the backline department. Representing this section of the touring camp was Matthew Miller, Keyboard and Playback Tech. “This tour is a bit of a keyboard tech’s dream,” he chuckled as he outlined the four different keyboard stations on the stage. “Bryan has got someone looking after him, especially whereas I’m overseeing the musical director and the two other players.” Like numerous people working on this show, when he’s not out on the road, Miller often works at Bryan Ferry’s personal studio, where a lot of the preparation for the tour took place. He went on to explain the role the playback had on this recent tour. “I have seen playback more as scaffolding in this tour rather than a useable live tool,” he mused as discussed the very early days of this project. “Before rehearsals began, we created working multi track mixes of the 30 or so songs

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that the band were most likely to play. As all the musicians came in, we began to remove the sections of the track as people learned their parts until we were just left with a click.” He went on to explain that it was both a challenging and an enlightening deep dive into Roxy Music’s back catalogue to create these comprehensive multi-tracks. “Quite often, we discovered that there might be a dozen guitar parts you would have to wade through,” he recalled. “What was interesting was when I was working on some of the songs from the band’s early albums, which were recorded on a 16-track, I thought it was going to be simple, but then when I went into those records, I often found multiple parts in one track which then had to be separated.” Miller was doing some of this work while out on tour with A-ha. “The process to create all the playback took close to three months,” he explained. “It wasn’t like anything I’d ever done before. Too often in this job the main role of the playback engineer is creating a track or trigger and assigning it to some synth pad compared to creating something that was really just for rehearsals. Also to go through those master tapes was really such a treat.” As for the instruments being used out on the road, Miller explained that despite much of the music from Roxy Music catalogue having been created on some rather vintage hardware, the live rig was far more modernised. “The band still own a VCS3 that was used on numerous

records, but as one of those sells for almost £35,000, it was decided not take it out on the road,” he laughed. MORE THAN THIS As many of the crew had alluded, the opening track of Re-make/Re-model certainly set the audience up for the remainder of night blending some archive footage of Ferry on the LED screen before the cinematic camera work of the video department had sweeping shots of the band superimposed upstage while each of the four original members got a chance to show off their playing chops. It’s truly an art to balance modern show design while paying homage to a band’s back catalogue that spans half a century but one that this hardworking Roxy Music production did so in spades. www.roxymusic.co.uk www.theproductionhouse.co.uk www.britanniarow.com www.christielites.com www.video-design.co.uk hwww.fuse-tg.com www.thincworldwide.com www.allaccessinc.com www.rockit.global www.thetourcompany.co.uk www.csuk.coach.com www.stagetruck.com www.popcorncatering.com www.radiotek.co.uk


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PRODUCTION PROFILE

RTL 102.5 POWER HITS ESTATE 2022 One of Italy’s most anticipated musical events of the year returns for its sixth edition, crowning RTL 102.5’s ‘hit of summer 2022’ to the stunning backdrop of awe-inspiring production values in an ancient space.

Words: Jacob Waite Photos: RTL 102.5



PRODUCTION PROFILE

RTL 102.5 Power Hits Estate returned for its sixth and perhaps most technologically advanced edition to date on 31 August 2022 at the Roman amphitheatre of Arena di Verona. The spectacle, which saw some of the nation’s biggest names on the touring circuit join forces, was broadcast on RTL 102.5, RTL 102.5’s Play service, as well as unified networks Radio Zeta, Sky Uno, TV8 and NOW. Having provided a space for the region’s acclaimed and emerging artists to perform live, connect with their fanbase and work for technical production crew amid the COVID-19 pandemic [see TPi #259], Power Hits Estate 2022 marked the radio station’s hotly anticipated return to Arena di Verona with some 13,000 live music fans in attendance. RTL 102.5 Power Hits Estate 2022 was presented by Paola Di Benedetto, Jody Cecchetto and Matteo Campese with a host of performances from around 40 Italian artists. The visual design of each performance was approached as if it was a separate show for visiting acts, which encouraged each department to work collaboratively. “That’s why it works,” Executive Producer, Fabio Marcantelli

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underlined, explaining the collaborative and free flowing nature of the production process. “Each performance is well-catered for, to provide a platform which spotlights not only acclaimed but local and emerging artists from the region. It’s an honour to host and present an artist’s vision on-stage. While there is a loose concept, of course, we are always open to suggestions – whether that includes the addition of choreography and dancers.” Eschewing a traditional LED back wall and IMAG screens, the team introduced hand assembled dynamic LEDs, affectionately referred to as ‘dots’ by the crew, which were controlled by Madrix media servers and interacted with BlackTrax tracking software and nodes to create waves of luminous effects simultaneously with performing artists, who adorned sensors on their left and right shoulder blades to permit real-time interactive changing of lighting and video effects and recreate the iconography of the event’s branding behind the stage. “We started researching new and innovative technologies to use for this show, and stumbled across LED light artist, Pietro Toppi of

Scenoluminoso, who has advanced experience in creating dynamic and immersive live experiences,” recalled Lighting Designer and Director of Photography, Francesco De Cave. The creative team filled the ancient 180° seating area with LED bulbs, which received commands from Madrix media servers. “We could draw and design the effects directly on to Madrix, without having several layers of separation, which made for some interesting and contemporary looks,” De Cave enthused. “The result was simply amazing.” Executive Producer, Fabio Marcantelli, pointed to the “attention to detail” as the thing that separates RTL 102.5 Power Hits Estate apart from other visiting productions in the region, citing the deployment of over two kilometres of hand-placed dynamic LED strips behind the stage to immerse the audience. “Tickets were sold out within six days without a line up, so we wanted to provide a spectacle for the fans,” he recalled. “By harnessing ground-breaking technology in the region, we’re cultivating a community of live music fans and showing the region’s talent, which we can build upon each passing year.”



PRODUCTION PROFILE

The lighting rig featured Prolights ECL Fresnels and Panels, Smart Bats, EclProfile HD2s, Stark 1000s, SunBar 2000FCs, Sunblast 3000FCs, Solars and SunRise 4s; Light Sky 230 Beam MK 2s; Robert Juliat Merlins; Showtec Octostrip MKIIs; Robe ESPRITES, Tarrantulas, MegaPointes, and a RoboSpot followspot and motion camera system with Martin Jem ZR 33 smoke machines and Antari AF-3 fans providing atmospherics; all controlled by a High End Systems Hog4 lighting console. Having successfully synchronised each department of the production, the crew spoke candidly about the collaboration between the visual departments to create a “landmark immersive and dynamic experience” for in-person audiences in the venue and those tuning in remotely. From a broadcast perspective, the ability to showcase an inperson audience was just as important as highlighting those on-stage. “For three hours, we had the audience stand up and dance, which was such an emotional experience, following the pandemic,” said Film Director, Luigi Antonini, who would constantly switch up and adapt the range of shots he and his team broadcast to provide a dynamic and impactful show. “RTL 102.5 Power Hits Estate is simply unlike any other production in the world.

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“RTL 102.5 Power Hits Estate is simply unlike any other production in the world. It is an ensemble of highlights, showcasing the creative capabilities of live performance and technological innovation.” Film Director, Luigi Antonini

It is an ensemble of highlights, showcasing the creative capabilities of live performance and technological innovation.” To capture the action, Antonini substituted a traditional live entertainment camera lens for a versatile Broan lens for a greater field of view – the lens is typically used to capture football or live sporting events – along with some specific opticals to help create a cinematic broadcast experience with a greater depth of field than is usually used for television purposes. “The lens

is also much smaller, so you can get right in with the audience, which is difficult with a standard steadicam setup,” he pointed out. ‘THE SOUND OF THE SUMMER’ The PA system, provided by IMPUTLEVEL, comprised 36 Adamson Systems Engineering E-15s, 16 E-219s and 16 S-119s and a Meyer Sound Galileo. A further 16 Adamson Metrix and 32 S10s were chosen for front fill. While Avid S6L-32D-144 mixing consoles were


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PRODUCTION PROFILE

used for FOH and monitor world duties, an additional Yamaha CL5 console harnessed to mix the broadcast feed. With artists performing as far back as 40m from the stage on the steps of the Roman amphitheatre, the team’s RF capabilities were put to the task. A mixture of Sennheiser 2050 IEM transmitters, 2050 bodypacks, Shure Axient digital AD4QE antennas, AD2 Beta 58 transmitters, and AD1 bodypacks handled RF duties. Meanwhile, DPA Microphones 4088 directional headsets were the microphones of choice. Audio and video direction was provided by the EMG group (Euro Media Group)’s OB-6 OB van. Secondary direction for a red carpet production was provided by Matteo Talamona’s PerFareTV. Filming was captured by 20 cameras situated around the venue, red carpet entrance, and backstage areas. All graphics were managed on site using a system provided by EMG. “For the first time we had a red carpet arrival with an outside audience who couldn’t get a ticket, so even if you couldn’t get in, you could watch the performing artists arrive for free. This also went out on RTL 102.5 Play platform with a dedicated directed camera crew, which was also free to view,” Marcantelli stated, citing the current economic crisis

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PRODUCTION PROFILE

as a factor in the production’s decision to make the event as accessible as possible. “We are already experimenting with new ways of bringing experiences to a wide range of audiences next summer.” Audio and video signals were transferred to the various broadcasting sites via satellite uplink with two stations (main and backup) supplied by M-Three Satcom. The audio video signals for transmission on RTL Play passed over a fibre optic network supplied by Vianova. With just two days to load everything into the venue, with travelling productions in and out, the economy of space posed a challenge for the crew. “We wanted to make sure this production grew and was bettering itself. This year, it was an uncovered stage, reduced loadin and prep time,” Marcantelli reported. “We were up against it with the decision to improve production values by bringing in a dynamic LED and video setup, as opposed to the standard video walls of previous incarnations of RTL 102.5 Power Hits Estate.” DeCave concurred: “The real challenge in a super busy venue like the Arena di Verona is the race against the clock with productions coming in and out constantly.” However, considering the short timeframe, the team thankfully managed to get everything done to create perhaps their biggest spectacle to date. The rest of the core team comprised: Production Manager, Luigi Vallario; Lighting Operator, Emanuele Vangelatos; Media Server Operator, Claudio Cianfoni; DoP Assistant, Viviana Tupputi; Production Coordinator,

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Fiona Mackay; and Broadcast Manager, Stefano Pretoni; with Flyage drones, CME power generators, and Italstage infrastructure supporting the project. “This production isn’t designed to make money. It’s made for the audience and consecrates the ‘song of the summer’,” Marcantelli explained, speaking on behalf of the crew, who met while working for Live Nation. “What unites us is our desire to be creative and curate spectacles for live audiences.” RTL 102.5 Power Hits Estate 2022 crowned the hit of summer as La Dolce Vita by Fedez, Tananai and Mara Sattei. “It is an honour for us to curate a platform to showcase Italian artistry on a global stage. It is one of our country’s most anticipated events of the year, and artists relish the opportunity to perform in front of 13,000 live music fans and thousands watching on television or listening on the radio,” Marcantelli commented. When asked if this fusion of audio, lighting and video is going to be the future, he answered: “Yes, for most it will be the future, but for us, it is already in the past. We intend to be groundbreakers and forerunners for every edition of the event to come.” www.rtl.it www.scenoluminoso.it www.perfaretv.it www.it.emglive.com www.flyage.it www.cmesrl.it www.italstage.it www.imputlevel.com

Executive Producer, Fabio Marcantelli; Lighting Designer and Director of Photography, Francesco DeCave; Production Manager, Luigi Vallario; Pietro Toppi of Scenoluminoso.


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PRODUCTION FUTURES

PRODUCTION FUTURES PRESENTS BREAKTHROUGH TALENT AWARDS 2022 Six talented winners receive Breakthrough Talent Awards at the Production Futures ON TOUR event.

Photos: Backstage Academy

Production Futures’ Breakthrough Awards, presented in association with TPi Magazine, recognises the importance of up-andcoming talent in all areas of production, with nominations made by tutors, mentors, colleagues or peers. This year, six winners – Micah Williams, Muhammad ‘Abz’ Abby, Jake Mazzuca, Rae Atkin, Subul Lodi and Sarah Philpot – received their awards at the Production Futures ON TOUR event, which took place in late September at Production Park in Wakefield. The event was the first of a series taking place across the UK in the coming months,

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and saw more than 600 young people through its doors. Thirty-five brand partners from the worlds of audio, lighting, TV, virtual events and global logistics, were on hand to offer information, insights and advice about careers in production. Several industry associations were also represented, joining the commercial brands in presenting panels and workshops on subjects designed to explain and inspire. “This year’s awards were presented at the conclusion of what was a fantastic day,” reflected Hannah Eakins, CEO of Production Futures. “We received a record number of nominations this year – an indication that our

campaign to highlight and deliver opportunities for young people in the production sector is moving in the right direction. Our brand partners, many of them market-leading global companies, have really bought into our ideas, recognising the mutual advantages of engaging with a potentially huge pool of untapped talent. “Another feature of the event was our promotion of the Association of Electronic Music (AFEM) code of conduct, which campaigns against sexual harassment and gender discrimination in the industry,” she added. “Posters on display in restroom facilities provided our young visitors with information about the Association’s advocacy of best practice, as well as its confidential helpline.” A notably successful feature of the event which encouraged maximum engagement was the Production Futures ‘Networking Quiz’, which used a treasure-hunt format to encourage attendees to visit each brandpartner’s stand. Certain facts or code words could be recorded at each stand, with completed entries placed into a draw for prizes that included festival tickets, vouchers, podcast kits and leading-brand headphones. The initiative proved very popular and acted as an effective icebreaker to opening dialogues between visitors and brand representatives. In a move designed to create even greater access, the event was also livestreamed as part of the Leeds Digital Festival, enabling the participation of an even wider audience to the day’s activities. More than 400 young people from around the world turned into the stream. www.productionfutures.co.uk



PRODUCTION FUTURES

PRODUCTION FUTURES BREAKTHROUGH TALENT AWARDS Meet the class of 2022

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PRODUCTION FUTURES

MICAH WILLIAMS Newly-crowned Production Futures Breakthrough Talent Award winner, Micah Williams of Eagle Vision TV, shares his path into the sector, his love of video production and reflects on his first tour with The Script.

Words: Jacob Waite Photo: Backstage Academy

some of the greatest broadcasts in my lifetime, but at the moment I’m enjoying the process. What I didn’t expect is who I’d be working with, for example, working on TV shows like The Voice, Real Housewives of Cheshire and Ambulance and touring with The Script and The Backstreet Boys.”

What first sparked your interest in video? “My brother, Raphael Williams, used to record our local church services, which I helped him with. I must have been about eight at the time, maybe even younger. From that, we then went to volunteer in recording a national church conference where people from all over the world would gather for worship. At the start, my main job was to detangle cables and cable bash for the camera operator. Now that I’m older, I manage the cameras and direct these conferences. I love seeing how things are put together and the enjoyment the viewer gets when watching. Since my brother decided to head down the audio route, and has continued to have a very successful career to this day. It provided me with the space to develop my own style of video. I just ran with it and took the chance to learn more in the area.” Did you think this would lead to a career in live events and broadcast? “Yes, I’ve always loved how live productions are put together and I still have goals to be a part of

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How did the opportunity with The Script come your way? “My brother was frequently touring and allowed me to come along to shadow him. From there, I got to know some of the touring video companies and crew and they were all so helpful and gave me some advice and more opportunities to shadow them. One of my first times shadowing was with The Script in Manchester back in 2015 – I was 16 at the time and loved every minute of it. After that event, I then signed up to be a part of PRG’s freelancing database. It was a long wait as I was probably too young and inexperienced, but I emailed them frequently to keep them updated with my CV. After graduating, COVID-19 hit and the whole industry was at a standstill, but when things slowly reopened, there was a greater demand for crew. I did a small festival for PRG and they must have liked me because I was then asked to jump on the road with The Script.” How did you find the experience? “The crew I worked with on The Script were amazing. They were all welcoming, patient and gave me a lot of advice. The production design was quite challenging but because of the technical knowledge and guidance of the team, it made it possible for me to push through to the next day. Now I’m on The Backstreet Boys Europe Tour and I’m loving it. They say the first tour is the hardest and I would agree.” What is the best piece of advice you’ve received so far? “Say ‘yes’ but also know how to say ‘no’ to a

job. So many opportunities are out there but you can’t do them all, so you have to learn to be selective and strategic about the work. I have a wife and family to consider, so the work-life balance needs to be there. Also, knowing your worth – I spent many years doing work for people at a low cost because I didn’t understand the value that I was bringing to the table. Now I am at the stage where I hope my work and experience can speak for itself, although I still have a lot to learn. For touring, the biggest one is don’t do a “number two” on the tour bus.” What is the idea behind your company, Eagle Vision TV? “My goal and future for Eagle Vision TV is to keep on capturing people’s lives and creating history for people to look back on. My hope is that Eagle Vision TV will also be a stepping stone for anyone who wants to get into the industry or just wants to develop a skill. I would love to go back into schools and colleges to do workshops and educate people in the hope that someone will be inspired the same way I was. I was fortunate in life to have my family and friends support me, but I know there may be people who don’t have that opportunity and so one day I hope that Eagle Vision TV can be that support for someone.” Where would you like to be in five years? “Ideally, I would love to have a comfortable work-life balance and be a multicam director, either on tour or broadcasting on TV. Directing the World Cup or the Olympics Games would be a dream gig for me, but at the moment, I am enjoying the journey and learning as much about the industry as I can. My advice is to always ask questions; don’t be afraid to contact people; enjoy the process and don’t forget where you came from – your ceiling can be the future generation’s floor.” www.productionfutures.co.uk



INTERVIEW

UK RIGGING: PROJECT X To address the severe shortage of qualified riggers in the entertainment industry, UK Rigging launches a new incentive to train up the next generation of those rigging at height.

Words: Stew Hume Photos: UK Rigging

There is not a single specialism within the world of live events that hasn’t grappled with the recent issue of the lack of crew, with many companies and organisations launching incentives to bring more people into the sector. Few companies have gone as far as footing the bill for those looking to get certified, but that is just what UK Rigging is doing in an attempt to provide the industry with a fresh batch of qualified riggers, ready to work at height and provide the backbone to the world’s greatest shows.

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Under the moniker of Project X, UK Rigging recently welcomed the first six new recruits who are undergoing an intensive 12-month programme, which will see them achieve their National Rigging Certificate (NRC) and become certified entertainment riggers. TPi visited the company’s Bolton office to catch up with the co-ordinators of this new venture, Amy Griffin, Project Coordinator, and Rachel Redfern, HR Manager. “There is a critical shortfall of riggers in the UK at the moment,” asserted Redfern. “The

issue has been percolating for the past few years but now things have become much more serious.” She went on to explain that in many cases there are simply too many shows for the dwindling number of riggers to deal with. The main issue facing would-be riggers is gaining enough experience to become NRC certified. “The NRC is vital to ensure that everyone rigging at height is doing so safely, but new recruits need plenty of hands-on experience before they can pass the NRC assessment process,” explained Redfern. “Rigging shifts are very fast-paced and safety-critical. There is currently very little incentive for riggers, venues, productions and rigging companies to physically slow down a shift in order to provide safe and structured learning experience.” There is also the initial start-up cost to consider. “You’re looking at close to £1,500 when you are starting out to get all the equipment you need,” stated Redfern. “That’s a massive start up, especially when new starters might not be earning anything as they are trying to gain experience.” According to Redfern, the result is that most of those entering the world are people who already have a connection to someone already working as a rigger. Despite the difficulties in getting into the discipline, Redfern reported how UK Rigging is constantly being approached by people desperate to make inroads into the industry. “Most rigging companies, including us, take on trainees into their warehouse who go out on site occasionally, but it occurred to us that teaching someone how to be an employee is not the best way to turn someone into a freelancer – and if we have put in that time and energy, we don’t necessarily want them to go out as a freelancer. On top of that, the people who want to be freelancers don’t want to work in a warehouse for three years.” With full support and input from the


INTERVIEW

technical team at UK Rigging, Redfern and Amy Griffin began to draw up a plan of how they envisioned the scheme would work. “The overarching goal was to bring in a selection of new riggers to boost that pool of talent and also incentivise experienced riggers to become mentors and compensate them for taking time out of their shift to train the new recruits,” stated Griffin. “We were keen to start as soon as possible to put new riggers into the industry pool by next summer.” UK Rigging is aiding the recruits’ initial upfront training and equipment costs, which will be recouped by the students paying back in instalments once they are qualified. Those on the Project X scheme will also have full access to UK Rigging’s state-of-the-art training centre. This space enables riggers to work through any number of drills and scenarios they may come across in the job in the UK. Director of UK Rigging Harry Box stated: “Once we had the structure in place, the support from venues and mentors has been

fantastic, everyone is keen to fix the rigger shortage, and hopefully Project X can do that.” After getting the word out, both Redfern and Griffin began interviewing potential applicants to the scheme, eventually selecting six lucky recruits. “During the interviews, we highlighted the fundamental values and attitude we were looking for as well as making it clear that this job came with numerous challenges such as antisocial hours,” stated Redfern. “One thing we did not demand of our recruits was that they had a background in rigging,” asserted Griffin. “The goal of this project is that we are providing them with that experience and we’d rather start from scratch as it means they haven’t developed any bad habits.” The first batch of trainees started the course on 19 September, with next intake scheduled for the following spring – meaning hypothetically there could be 12 more trained and certified riggers in the UK events markets by the end of 2023. www.ukrigging.net

The first six recruits from UK Rigging’s Project X: Catherine Walton, Sam Parker, Matt Woollons, Kieran Gill, Danny Innes and Marc San Sebastian

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GEAR HEADS

MARTIN MAC AURA XIP Wouter Verlinden, International Product Manager of Creative LED & Lighting, previews Martin’s latest wash light with smart outdoor protection and aura filaments.

Photo: Martin

What were the goals for the MAC Aura XIP? “The goal was clear: make a workhorse even more versatile without introducing new compromises. We strived to maintain the size, weight, output and noise levels, closer or better, than the MAC Aura XB. Add outdoor rating, so that the product can be used in even more applications as well as indoors. We also wanted to improve the wash quality for hotspot, edge, and stray light purposes as well as incorporating customer feedback collected over the years. For example, the inclusion of omega brackets, battery powered display, and a more narrow beam. End users also requested a product suitable for outdoor use, with a narrower zoom and improved display, rigging, and handle ergonomics.” How important is it to develop a lighting fixture able to handle all weather conditions? “We wanted to create a single product that would work equally well indoor and outdoor, with close to zero compromises on either application. A single product that would cover ‘all’ applications would be such a benefit for our customers, making sure they never have the wrong fixture on their shelves. The goal for our R&D team was clear: make it survive outdoors in any weather condition, but don’t build a big, ugly, heavy and loud ‘metal tank’. To achieve this goal, a wide variety of new solutions were required, as we couldn’t rely on existing solutions on the market. Each of these solutions obviously needed to be tested, finetuned and tested over and over again.” What was the testing process? “The testing at Martin can be split into two categories. Laboratory testing: Martin engineering has an extensive set of laboratories in its R&D sites in Aarhus, Denmark and Shenzhen, China. Any combination of water, snow, ice, wind, dust, sand, low temperatures, high temperatures, vibration and more can be created in these laboratories. We always take it a few steps further than necessary. If the standards dictate that a product needs to survive certain conditions for a certain time, we always test it longer and harder, just to be sure. There’s also real world testing: From very early in the development process, we started to place early prototypes

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of the MAC Aura XIP on the roof of our R&D centre in Aarhus, Denmark. Being up there for close to a year where it was exposed to rain, hail, snow, wind and more, our engineering department had increased confidence in their solutions and also learned where they could be improved even further. After every test, our engineers identify how the product can be made even more robust and then test again, even if it already passed the test the first time. Our engineers aren’t happy until a product passes all the tests with a large safety margin on top.” How important was it to include greater pixel control with video mapping capabilities? “While pixel control might not be important for some customers, it is a must have for others. Some designers are looking for a damn good wash light without too many bells and whistles, and the MAC Aura XIP definitely ticks that box. However, the next week, a rental company might hire the fixtures to a designer on a TV show or tour – where the designer needs to create a wide variety of looks from the fixtures. This is where pixel control, video mapping, Aura filaments, and internal FX macros come into play. None of these prevent the fixture

from being a good wash light, but add more versatility as needed for some applications.” What challenges did you face bringing this product to the market? “It’s no secret that the market is still struggling with component shortages, and these also affected the development and production start-up of the MAC Aura XIP. However, our teams took this into account from the earliest stages of the product development. As soon as a certain part or component within the design was finalised and tested by our engineering factory in Pecs, Hungary, we started to build up stock. This prevented us from having to wait until the finalisation of development and testing, before any components were sourced.” Could the Aura XIP see the eventual end of indoor/outdoor-specific products? “Our goal is to challenge this status quo, and allow rental companies to increase their return on investment by offering a product that can be used all year long, both indoor and outdoor, with close to zero compromise in each environment. We will continue to do so with upcoming products.” www.martin.com


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GEAR HEADS

WOLFMIX W1 Fresh off the back of a PLASA Award for Innovation, Nicolaudie UK Managing Director, Simon Bennett explains how Wolfmix W1 is ideal for creating light shows on the fly – without a computer.

Photo: Nicolaudie

beyond what we expected – both in terms of sales quantities, feedback, and the types of users. Although primarily designed for DJs and clubs, we’ve found event companies have been sending out a Wolfmix for their parties and corporate events. The response we have had from them is that they can set up their light show in an hour without the need to hire an experienced lighting programmer. Wolfmix W1 can be left with the production manager or sound engineer. This is also important in the current climate as budgets become tighter, setup time is at a premium and logistics are more challenging than ever. We’re currently scrambling to learn how to efficiently manufacture Wolfmix W1s in quantities of 10,000 units at a time while keeping the high level of quality our customers expect.”

What was the inspiration for the Wolfmix W1? “We wanted to take the idea of DJ controllers and samplers, and combine these concepts with a DMX lighting controller. By this I mean a friendly, familiar and approachable piece of hardware built with metal and ABS plastic, compact and not too heavy, with backlit silicone buttons and encoders. At the same time, we wanted to do away with the limitations of typical hardware controllers of a similar form factor. The key to making the controller powerful and easy to use was to utilise a fixture library and create a system able to understand the capabilities of a particular lighting fixture, generate effects and functions, and then lay these out over an intuitive UI which was instantly familiar to a DJ, engineer or musician, rather than just a lighting programmer. Where does the Wolfmix W1 sit in the market? “There are thousands of DJs, musicians and engineers working with DMX lights who want to make great looking light shows quickly and have them operate reliably. If you go for a larger console, it takes time to learn. If you like a computer, it must be set up and learnt. If

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you have a tablet, you are often restricted to the reliability of the Wi-Fi. If you have a smaller piece of hardware, its capabilities are generally limited and not always intuitive. We felt there was a gap in the market for a compact, powerful and easy to use controller.” What was behind the DJ-friendly design? “Although we didn’t speak directly with any manufacturers, we love all kinds of DJ and electronic music equipment. We took a screwdriver and started taking apart anything we could get our hands on. Most of the inspiration came from the surface of these controllers – the materials they are constructed from and the way they combine hardware and software functions. A couple of specific examples being that all major functions must be accessible with one or two button pushes, and to avoid having ‘touch and hold’, or pressing two buttons simultaneously with the SHIFT button being the only exception.” How has the response been from end users? “We knew we were on to something, but since we launched within the past year, it’s gone way

How would end users prepare for a show with Wolfmix W1? “To prepare a lighting performance with the Wolfmix, you start by choosing a lighting fixture from our library of over 20,000 fixtures. We have a built-in fixture builder and also offer a free service if the fixture is not already in our library. Once the fixture has been added and DMX address set, it will immediately spring to life. We have a Move FX module which works like an effects unit, plug-in, or guitar fix pedal. You just need to turn it on and begin playing with the available patterns, speed, size, fading, phasing and other parameters as you would with say a Reverb FX unit. Favourite looks and effects can then be stored in presets in the same way as you would with traditional car stereo, for quick recall.” How large a lighting rig would the W1 be able to control? “Well, you could in theory control Wembley stadium if you address all your lights to 001! Realistically, the controller should suit your typical club or medium-sized event rig, with up to four universes. Wolfmix ships with a demo project containing 16 moving heads, eight RGBW pars and a seven by seven matrix of colour panels, and there’s enough power to triple the size of this project.” www.wolfmix.com


Create serious light shows in a fraction of the time. Intuitive layout inspired by music gear • Up to 4 DMX universes Reliable stand alone hardware • Color, Move, Beam and Flash FX Music sync with mic and line in • 20 000 available fixtures


GEAR HEADS

CHAUVET PROFESSIONAL MAVERICK STORM 2 BEAMWASH CHAUVET Professional EU Product Manager, Ben Virgo reviews the latest addition to the lighting specialist’s Maverick family of tour-grade moving heads.

Photo: CHAUVET Professional

What is the idea behind the introduction of Maverick Storm 2 BeamWash? “The initial concept for the Maverick Storm 2 BeamWash was for a brighter and lighter wash fixture in the Maverick Storm series. We wanted to give more tools to lighting designers and end-users working in outdoor and indoor events with challenging environments. Since we developed a new optical system, that allowed the Maverick Storm 2 BeamWash to be brighter, and have a wider zoom range, with which we could do nice beam effects. Additionally, we thought that adding the LED ring effect would give a little something extra for end users to play with.” How does it fit into the Maverick family? “Maverick Storm fixtures fill two particular needs. They are designed to perform as well outdoors as they do inside and they need to be able to be seen in environments where you cannot control the ambient light. So, they must be bright. Compared to the rest of the Maverick line, Storm fixtures are generally brighter than their non-IP equivalents. The Maverick family has been expanding rapidly in the past few years, and further developing the Storm range is the next evolution.” Which features will end users benefit from? “The powerful 19, 50W RGBW LEDs. These powerful LEDs in combination with our optics pack a serious punch and enable us to reach almost 10,000 lumens of output; The 12-zone

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pixel-mappable RGB LED outer ring is a very exciting addition to the Maverick Storm 2 BeamWash. It creates a ring of light separate from the main output, which means that you have another tool to create some great eyecandy effects. We also used a stealth filter on the ring, designed so that if you decide not to use it, it blends into the background. And, of course, the ability to use in any environment – from outdoor extreme sports venues to festivals to indoor arenas. How will the addition of an IP65-rated certification benefit end users? “In the past, customers had to make a decision; IP or not IP? Generally, this was due to the fact that the IP housings were big and heavy. CHAUVET has worked on a new AluminiumMagnesium alloy, which means we can close the weight gap between IP and non-IP, meaning that with some fixtures we are just 300g heavier than our non-IP version. A rental company now can choose the IP version, worry a lot less about weight, and use them on both indoor and outdoor shows.” Has the shifting global landscape affected the roll out of Maverick Storm 2 BeamWash? “When the world started to shut down during the pandemic, CHAUVET made a very deliberate choice to double down on fixture development. We found that many customers and lighting designers finally had the time to sit down and catch their breath. So, we invited

them to sit with us – online – and delve deeply into helping us find solutions for the problems they’d been facing with the existing fixtures on the market. What we did not expect was component shortages – a major headache – and supply chain issues. The bungled supply chains have affected every manufacturer. It’s not just about our ability to deliver finished products to our customers – that is a challenge that we have met better than most. Everything from the ore used to make the materials that we use in our housings, to the integrated chips that control our fixtures, have been affected and increased both the upstream time to market as well as the costs. This has meant that although we have lots of new product ideas ready to go into production, we have had to be very selective about which we choose to put our resources into.” How important has the development of your IP range been for CHAUVET Professional? “CHAUVET Professional has a long, long history of developing IP-rated products. It is in our DNA. We developed some of the first LED pars in the industry with our COLORado line around 15 years ago. Now we are continuing that tradition by developing a broad range of IP products to support both the creative departments and production crews in our industry. We continue to receive more and more requests from customers to make as many products IP as possible.” www.chauvetprofessional.com


IN PROFILE

PIXMOB EXPANDS ITS EUROPEAN FOOTPRINT Following its recent European expansion, PixMob CCO, Jean-Olivier Dalphond shares what the future holds for the wireless event lighting company.

Words: Jacob Waite Photos: PixMob

PixMob is expanding its custom approach to wireless event lighting into Europe, capitalising on the success of its immersive lighting experiences that have illuminated more than 2,000 of the world’s largest shows and events including the Olympic Games, the Super Bowl and the Eurovision Song Contest, as well as Lady Gaga, Coldplay, and Ariana Grande world tours. The European expansion, which hit the ground running in October 2022, saw the Montreal-based company offer product stock and a dedicated local team out of a centrally located Belgian office. PixMob has been involved in projects on the continent for the best part of a decade,

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beginning with the Eurovision Song Contest in 2013. “We are seeing an increased demand in the post-pandemic European market, more specifically since the success of our products as part of Coldplay’s Music of the Spheres World Tour,” commented PixMob’s CCO and company partner, Jean-Olivier Dalphond. “We want to recommit to serving this market the best way that we possibly can. That means bettering our ability to service clients rapidly by having operations based directly in the region.” According to Dalphond, this European investment will allow PixMob to service potential clients with turnkey solutions in a more timely and effective manner. “This

expansion improves upon the continuity of business interests in our past work, and places an emphasis on expanding into a region that we firmly believe in,” Dalphond explained. “This enables us to undertake more projects with established EU clients while also improving our access to previously unknown and underserviced markets.” Dalphond, who has lived in Germany for three years, says that PixMob is acutely aware of the unique challenges that come along with providing business solutions to the European market. “I have seen first-hand how Europe is a denser place than North America, and Europeans have been making intelligent policy choices regarding sustainability. This matches our belief at PixMob that we can innovate while staying cost competitive by providing a superior final product. We think that by designing our products for a European mindset, we can lead the way inside our industry,” Dalphond noted. “Approaching market developments with humility is one of our core strategies,” he said. “Our goal is to enter this market with our eyes and ears open, allowing us to learn and adapt to serving these markets the best we can.” While acknowledging that the Euro expansion is a major move, Dalphond is quick to note that little will change at PixMob’s bustling Montreal home office. “We need to provide as much support as possible for this project to be successful, and to not see this as a separate operation but as an expansion of what we already do,” he concluded. “Montreal is well-connected to Europe culturally as well as logistically, and for us this European expansion is simply the best use of our resources so that we can successfully grow as we have done throughout the North American market.” www.pixmob.com


IN PROFILE

IN PROFILE: EFM GLOBAL Despite the turbulent years for the live events industry, freight forwarding specialist EFM has not only weathered the storm of COVID-19 but emerged with a brand-new European base, as well as undertaking one of the biggest Transatlantic moves for metal titans Rammstein ahead of their North American tour. TPi finds out more…

Words: Stew Hume Photos: EFM Global

Although every company working in the events sector has its own unique story when it comes to the early days of COVID-19, there are few that played out quite as dramatically as EFM’s. As representatives from across the globe gathered around a meeting table for the company’s annual board meeting in February 2020, champagne bottles were being popped in celebration of EFM’s best ever financial year. “2019 was a record-breaking year for us exceeding all budgets, so there was certainly a lot of elation,” reflected CEO, Mike Llewellyn. “During the meeting, I raised the point that we should perhaps consider the ‘thing’ that

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was going on in China and started to propose a DEFCON one to five protocol in case COVID-19 was to spread.” During the proceedings of the meeting, the effects of the pandemic began to play out in real time, with many attendees receiving messages that tours were beginning to be cancelled. This turned the celebratory gathering into a crisis meeting to work out a plan of how to best prepare EFM for what was to come. “Looking back, the fact that we had everyone from across the world around one table meant we were able to at least be

prepared for what was to come, even if nobody could have predicted the sheer scale COVID-19 would eventually have,” stated Llewellyn. Like most, EFM then moved into survival mode to keep the business going as 95% of its usual work dried up overnight. Due to some shrewd business decisions and maintaining many of its key staff throughout the ordeal, EFM has come out the other side with 2021 being the second biggest year in the company’s history and with the CEO hoping that 2022 might be the company’s best. “There are many reasons for these results, but our well-established Middle East operation has been a major saviour along with the James Webb Space Telescope launch for NASA, which we supported last year,” stated Llewellyn. “While we made use of various schemes like furlough in the UK, our Middle East operation kept running as usual. We also benefited from the diversity of our client base, which spans all the major time-critical logistics industries – from touring exhibitions to sport, live events to music and entertainment, trade shows to aerospace and automotive to TV and film.” Also commenting on the continued survival of EFM was Ben Silas, Managing Director Europe. “We’ve been able to hang onto key people through this ordeal,” he stated. “I think it’s a real achievement that we’ve managed to keep hold of these people and it will only aid the company moving forward.” CONTINUING TO GROW Having got through the past two years, and with the goal of future proofing the company, the team at EFM recently announced the establishment of its new Benelux office in Europe. Situated at Liège and Brussels Airports, in Belgium, the new offices are in the ideal location for the company to plant its flag in Europe. “It was always on our agenda to have a presence in this part of Europe although the need for it was certainly exacerbated as a


result of Brexit,” commented EFM’s Director, Lisa Ryan. “In the past 12 months, we’d started searching in earnest to find a space especially with the increased demand with carnets.” EFM already had a relationship with a company that was based out of Liège. As the time came to break ground on a European base, they were the natural choice to collaborate with. “This team had been working with EFM since 2018 on some of our biggest projects and already knew our business, which led to a seamless transition,” stated Silas, who doubled down on the suitability of the location. “Not only do you have Liège and Brussels airports, but we also have Rotterdam, which is the biggest port out of Western Europe – not to mention Antwerp, which is another major port. Strategically, this new base is perfect.” OUT ON THE ROAD With the new Belgium base set up, EFM had a chance to showcase the benefits of the new operation by undertaking one of the biggest rock ’n’ roll moves that has happened since

COVID-19. As many readers of TPi will know, when Rammstein head out on tour, there are certainly no half measures when it come to set design. The latest run of shows is no exception as can be seen in the November 2019 edition of TPi. Rammstein was EFM’s very first job when Llewellyn started the company from the back room of his home, and he was more than aware of the enormity of the task that lay ahead to move the entire structure as well as two sets of steel across the Atlantic for the band’s North American tour. “Each of the steel sets takes up one-and-ahalf of a 747’s hold capacity,” stated the CEO. In total, the entire move required seven 747s to ensure the set and both steel sets were in America in plenty of time for the shows. The CEO explained to TPi that sourcing this many aircraft had not been a simple task, specifically due to the war in Ukraine. “If we were planning this tour in 2019, finding this many aircraft would not have been an issue, but now numerous planes have been grounded. So, with less availability, we’ve found that that

the cost of chartering a plane comes in at three times the price. Thankfully, Rammstein’s team is very pragmatic and realised that the cost of the move was simply not going to be the same as it was when it was originally quoted a few years ago. THOUGHTS ON THE FUTURE Despite pulling off the seemingly impossible for the German metal band, EFM’s CEO spoke more generally about the international touring landscape and what may lie ahead for the industry. “There is certainly a desire from both artists and management to get back out on the road, but we’ve been honest with our clients in terms of what expect when planning a tour,” stated the CEO. “If you’re planning on ocean shipping, the price to be paid now is at least twice that of pre-COVID prices and, with less guarantee on delivery dates, due to the overwhelming demand caused by the knock-on effect of airlines still not operating at full capacity. Although shipping by ocean might be cheaper

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IN PROFILE

than air freight, consideration of extended equipment rental or crew retainer costs, while the vessel is at sea, may mean that flying works out cheaper.” Llewellyn went on to explain that more than ever he finds EFM being called upon to look at all the operations and moving parts of a proposed tour and often ends up suggesting different touring routings. “For us, it’s all about communicating with clients and making sure they are aware of all the cost implications and timing considerations,” he stated. To provide this reliable information, Lisa Ryan explained that it had been extremely important to stay on top of geo-politics. “It’s something we’ve always had to be aware of, but in recent years with considerations from Brexit to the war in Ukraine, we’ve had to make sure that we are abreast of everything,” she explained. “It can be a fine line discussing

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this with clients, as some people have gone somewhat off grid over the past few years and don’t necessarily understand the knock-on effects these issues from the other side of the globe might have on their personal work.” She was encouraged however that increasingly EFM was being brought in earlier in the planning stages of big moves, to ensure the best result for everyone. “Recently we’ve been having a lot more conversations with people all the way up the tree of a tour as freighting is becoming a bigger part of the budget conversation and it’s refreshing when we have a client that wants to engage with us earlier in the planning stage.” EFM is also getting more requests from less established artists as the simple logistics of a splitter van tour have become more complex since Brexit. “We’ve always been a company that has supported clients from small bands

and school sports teams all the way to stadium acts. We have always been willing to consult and give people advice – often for free – but due to the simplest moves becoming more complex, we have certainly seen a lot of smaller acts come across our desks.” WHERE TO NEXT? To close, TPi asked EFM for its perspective on what the next few years of world touring might look like for the events industry. “We’re still working through several big shows that have been postponed from 2020/21,” said Ryan. “What is interesting is that from our position, we can start to see the regions where people are looking to go to. I really think there might quite a different geographic shift and a bit more innovation in where people are going in the future and how they do that,” she closed. www.efm.global


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IN PROFILE

TWENTY THREE In only four years, Twenty Three has already become a key player in the LED market, offering a range of specially designed framing and structural support options to manufacturers, rental houses and end clients. TPi speaks to CEO Kristof Soreyn to find out more…

Words: Stew Hume Photos: Twenty Three

Although perhaps not yet a household name within the wider events industry, Twenty Three in a very short space of time has made serious inroads into the entertainment sector. Proof of this success can be seen by looking at the past two front covers of TPi, as the company created the custom LED structure for both the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Ed Sheeran’s latest stadium tours. From the giant curved screen for the Californian rockers to the custom plectrum structures for the UK’s most successful singer-songwriter of modern times, it’s clear that Twenty Three has carved a niche within large-scale touring productions. While these special one-of-a-kind structures are eye-catching achievements for the company, according to CEO Kristof Soreyn, the future of Twenty Three is not as a direct supplier to end clients, but as “the backbone of the LED manufacturing market” in providing the framing and housing systems for LED panels. No stranger to the live events industry, Soreyn was a key player in XL Video, where he held the position of CTO from 1996. Following the acquisition of the company by PRG, he stayed on until 2017, when he opted to strike out on his own. “I saw a gap in the market to provide a design solution for LED products,” he stated. “We started as a purely design company with no manufacturing capabilities. We were a very small in the beginning and based ourselves in China as this is where most LED manufactures are.” The solution Twenty Three offered was specially designed framing structures for LED panels. However, due to sheer demand, it became more financially viable for Twenty Three to establish its own manufacturing facility rather than outsourcing the work. Twenty Three’s Chinese manufacturing facility currently sits at 10,000 sq m with over 50 CNC machines and 160 staff creating these specialist components for its customers. “We purchased the building in 2019 and brought all the relevant machinery in 2020 just prior to the pandemic,” stated Soreyn.

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“The saving grace for us was that we not only supply equipment for rental houses – such as companies under the NEP group – but also the LED manufacturers, such as ROE Visual, Absen and INFiLED,” stated the CEO. “Throughout 2020 and 2021, there was still an awful lot of work within the fixed install market along with some one-off corporate events, including several launches for Apple where we created the framework for their large LED wall.” With the company maintaining close working relationships with manufacturers and providing solutions to rig these ever more complicated LED structures, Soreyn is well placed to discuss trends in the high-end video display market. “Some of our most exciting jobs have come from the word of virtual

studios,” stated the CEO, referencing some of the company’s latest projects including The Prysm Stage at Trilith Studios in Atlanta – the biggest virtual studio in the world. “When it comes to these studios, each one of the designs is unique; every designer has a very specific vision and that is the service we can provide with our design division as well as our manufacturing arm.” Despite the clear advantage of setting up its warehouse in China, Twenty Three is very much a global company, having already opened a warehouse and manufacturing facility in Belgium with the goal of breaking ground on a US branch in 2023. The decision to manufacture in different territories was a direct result of the sheer cost


of shipping and transportation following the fallout of COVID-19. “It’s impossible to only have manufacturing in a China now,” asserted the CEO “Raw materials carry the same price globally and although China offers far quicker turnaround times and there is a larger pool of staff, you must consider shipping costs, especially when you are manufacturing heavy products. Shipping has increased incredibly in the past three years and has become one of the main considerations in a budget for a job. The days of manufacturing in one place then shipping around the world have gone and we are now better off striking a balance as to what is feasible to manufacture locally.” The Belgium office sits at 3,000 sq m with a slightly different array of machinery to the Chinese facility. “We work on far heavier parts in Belgium and therefore have invested in more water jetting options; we specialise in the smaller component parts in China.” The Belgium office is also the company’s main R&D department. The CEO plans that the US base will follow the Belgium formula also with its own R&D department. The CEO explained the importance of keeping within Twenty Three’s remit. “When it comes to live events, my focus is to support the rental companies rather than becoming a competitor. Apart from working on some very custom projects – such as Ed Sheeran’s plectrum screens, which a renal house would not have been able to provide – most of our work is proving a solution that a rental house can give to their end client.” And it’s a similar case for the company’s relationship with LED manufacturers. “We are not going to suddenly start offering an automation solution, for example, because it’s not where our expertise lies. I see a lot of growth in the LED market, and we have strong relationships with all the major manufacturers as a sub supplier.” Soreyn concluded by giving his thoughts on the future. “We’ve already proved ourselves as a key player in the market. We have grown very quickly and now have around 190 people working for us globally. Due to our manufacturing and R&D offering in multiple territories, we can throw a lot of resources at any project when it come to the mechanics of LED frames.” www.twentythree.be

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FEEDBACK

20 YEARS OF TAIT NAVIGATOR Sam Woodward reflects on two decades of TAIT Navigator conducting the orchestra of show-control and automation in multiple sectors.

Words: Sam Woodward Photos: TAIT Navigator, TAIT’s platform for machinery automation and show-control, passed its 20th birthday milestone this year. At PLASA Show 2022, Jim Love, VP at TAIT, presented a seminar entitled: A collage of case-studies from two decades of spectaculars’ showcontrol and automation, delving into some of the shows and live experiences made possible by the platform. The past two decades have seen multiple revolutions in entertainment technology. There have been visible changes: increasing cue counts; heavier scenic pieces set in motion; a widespread adoption of performer flying and the associated necessary increase in safety regulations. Less visible, but no less radical, has been the transition of control protocols from simple serial digital communications to ethernet-based industrial real-time protocols. We have witnessed the rise of the show network, and the need for tight synchronisation between audio, lighting, video and scenic elements, all of which now frequently move together in three dimensions. Scene changes that were once in blackout now form part of a show’s intricate mechanised choreography. Audiences demand new experiences, and designers have risen to the challenge with fresh ideas and innovative concepts to push the boundaries of physical possibility in pursuit of new moments that move people. TAIT Navigator has been at the centre of entertainment innovation for live events facilitating a paradigm-shift in operating methods for all kinds of shows – those that tour, those in fixed locations such as purpose-built venues and theme-parks; it has been used for controlling live and filmed 3D performer flying stunts, including those with flying cameras, and it has enabled the integration of devices that are not traditionally associated with staged entertainment into shows, such as pumps, robots, and building management systems integration. Navigator hosts the vital safety functions for moving machines and provides a paradigm shift in show control from sequencing to feedback-based dynamic timelines, making

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it perfect for non-linear entertainment formats such as theme-park parades and dark rides, both of which were explored in the seminar. The Navigator recap started in Las Vegas, where the dramatic demands of the Le Reve show’s aspiration to redefine the limits of spectacle also exceeded the capabilities of conventional automation systems which, at the time, tended to be created from stand-alone bespoke electronics. The unseen parts of the show, such as loading aerialists onto winches out of sight, high above the performance space, demanded a paradigm shift in control, necessitating a distributed system, where control of an axis could pass between different consoles and different operators according to sight-lines, and yet remain part of the overall control and safety system. The need for safety features and Navigator’s comprehensive capabilities for calculating and controlling complex 3D flight were highlighted with an example from the Vegas version of Phantom of the Opera in which the chandelier flies in multiple parts over the audience as well as performing its famous descent – an applause garnering automation cue. 3D flight, real-time tracking and frameaccurate position data export were explored further with an example of Navigator’s use in the world of stunt performer and camera flying

on major motion pictures, further highlighting the transferrable nature of this technology between different entertainment formats. The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ animated array of over 1,000 LED light-sticks demonstrated Navigator’s ability to enable show programmers to deploy familiar lighting and video tools during programming and operation, while Navigator performed protocol translation and provided safety bounds for a tour that would encounter different ceiling heights over its run. Integration of traditionally non-entertainment devices,

such as pumps, and the ability to control fountains as if they are moving lights, while providing detailed system-status feedback to the control room, were demonstrated with an example from Longwood Gardens. Having explored the way in which automation is driving innovation in the entertainment technology sector, and expanding it to integrate beyond the traditional stage, the seminar concluded with a glimpse into new formats of entertainment. www.taittowers.com

YOU PROVIDE THE SHOW WE PROVIDE THE COVER MUSIC & EVENT INSURANCE SPECIALISTS Festival Organisers, Promoters, Artists, Freelancers, Agents & more We haven’t taken this year for granted at Tysers. Our Entertainment team have been busier than ever and delivered on some of the UK’s largest live events. Thank you to all of our clients for a really special year full of positivity and enthusiasm. Please contact Gary Brooks for all your insurance needs: 0161 419 3089 | gary.brooks@tysers.com

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FEEDBACK

JON COLLINS The Chief Executive of LIVE sits down with TPi to give his thoughts on the industry, changes that need to be seen and the turbulent nature of lobbying within the ever-changing political climate.

Words: Stew Hume Photo: LIVE

It’s worth noting that when TPi first sat down with Jon Collins, Chief Executive of LIVE, to talk about the state of the UK’s live events industry, there was another person residing in Number 10. That being said, the fast-moving nature of UK politics is a perfect example of one of Collins’ points during our conversation that “it’s a challenge to even know when the next opportunity to lobby for any issues within government would be”. Formed during lockdown, the overarching goal of LIVE [Live music Industry Venues & Entertainment] was to be the representative of the UK’s live music business, bringing the industry’s trade associations under one umbrella group as a single, united voice. In total, LIVE reports that it represents 3,150 companies, over 4,000 artists and 2,000 backstage workers. In short, LIVE exists to ensure that the importance of the UK’s live music industry is understood, and its interests are represented with policy makers, regulators, the public and the wider music and entertainment industry. Collins was announced as the LIVE’s Chief Executive in April of this year, bringing with him 25 years of experience running representative

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organisations in the hospitality industry, having previously served as Chairman of the Institute of Licensing and the National Licensing Forum. “We’ve currently got 14 different associations within LIVE that make up our board,” explained Collins. “My focus is how we turn this into a single voice and support one another.” This need for a united voice was clear to see during 2020/21 when overnight the rug was pulled from beneath the industry with the immediate halting of business. But up until this point, the music industry did not have much of a relationship with the government. “If you compare the music industry to the TV and film sector, it’s around 20 to 30 years behind when it comes to relationships forged with the government,” stated Collins. “When I first took on this role, one recurring comment I heard was that ‘the government doesn’t talk to us’. My response was always, ‘but do you talk to the government?’ A lot of this job at LIVE is speaking for musicians to politicians and vice versa to try and bridge gaps between these two worlds.” Prior to his time at LIVE, his predecessors employed the services of The Blakeney Group, which still represents LIVE as its lobbyists.

“Blakeney has enabled us to have rolling dialogue about the top issues and shifting political landscape and what this could mean for the issues we at LIVE are trying to advance,” stated Collins. “It really is a chess game.” Collins gave an overview of some of the main policies LIVE is trying to bring to the forefront. “One of our major policies is calling for the reintroduction of the 5% rate of VAT on ticket sales, similar to the one that existed during the pandemic,” he asserted. “It’s one point that everyone involved in LIVE has said would help the entire sector. I think there is an argument to bring it back permanently, as many other countries do in Europe – especially when you consider the worries of rising energy bills.” The cost of running venues has also been a topic that LIVE has been tackling head on. “On our board we have representation from the Music Venues Trust, the British Association of Concert Halls and the National Arenas Association,” stated Collins, explaining how LIVE has a good cross section of options for venues of varying sizes. “Some of the increases in running costs have been huge, but the hardest hit has certainly been the grassroots venues,” continued Collins. “Spiralling energy prices have already forced music venues up and down the country to close or curtail their programming and this will begin again as soon as this support is removed – it is plainly obvious that live music must be on the list of sectors considered ‘vulnerable’ by government.” Away from these specific issues, Collins outlined his far grander goal of having the music industry at the forefront of the minds of policy makers. “Take music export as just an example,” he stated. “In 2019, exports hit a record level of £2.9 billion. There is no reason not to have a long-term plan to aid this growth with the input of the government, which would be a huge boost for the UK economy.” He continued: “Right now, it’s important that the government realises that although things are ‘back to normal’ with events happening once again and a very busy summer, this does not necessarily translate as being very profitable. A lot of the events that we saw in the past six months were paid for in 2019 but having to be run at 2022 costs.” www.livemusic.biz


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BACK CHAT

LAURA FRANK frame:work Founder and Creator Advocate, Laura Frank, shares the mission statement behind the collective, having created a space for ‘live pixel people’

What is frame:work? “frame:work is a community organisation that seeks to bring together professions related to creative video use in live entertainment. From designers to screen engineers to those who touch the pixels along the way. When frame:work launched in 2019, our mission was to create a conference where we could discuss our common interests, learn more about each others’ practice, and ultimately become better advocates for each other to our shared clients.” How has the COVID-19 pandemic shifted the direction of the mission? “The primary goal for the initial founders, Soren West, Luke Malcolm, Elliot Dunwoody and I was to establish an annual conference for media server and screens professionals. We had raised half our funding for a four-day conference in Los Angeles for October of 2020, when we had to cancel those plans. Instead, like many others working in creative video, we made a home online. Ash Nehru, JT Rooney, Matthew Ward, and Trevor Burk joined our efforts to create three virtual conferences in 2020. “Another change during the pandemic was the shift to Virtual Production. I wanted to understand how frame:work could support the community that was moving into XR and VP while staying true to our live production roots. I now think of us as ‘live pixel people’. frame:work today is a community platform for creative video used in front of a live audience or generated live as real-time content. This also allows us to engage with professionals in art and installation applications, who’ve been developing interactive and generative content for some time. Do you have any personal highlights since forming frame:work? “I have enjoyed exploring all facets of this community and expanding our international connections. However, the highlights that stand out occur when there is a personal

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“A core mission of frame:work is client education. We not only create projects with awesome tools, but we are responsible for guiding our clients through the best practices for the successful use of those tools.” Laura Frank

connection made. A great joy for me is the experience of frame:work’s mission resonating with others. That’s what motivates me to keep building this community platform. One internal project that I really value is our New Talent List. Our community has been struggling to fill positions that require complex sets of skills and a comfort with the time pressures of entertainment production. Ben Nicholson, Sharon Huizinga, TJ Donoghue and I have been working with US-based universities to find students interested in creative video production and introduce them to the professional community. We hope to expand internationally in the coming year.” What can we expect from frame:work:london? “As our first in-person event, we are gathering together 250 people in a space dedicated to creative video practice. Our sessions cover topics from design, producing, programming, custom coding, engineering, labor issues, business practices and community wellness. We also have an incredible slate of inaugural sponsors who will be presenting on likeminded topics that support community practice. The mission of frame:work has been growing as a concept for years. Gathering in

person at frame:work:london is where we see if our mission benefits the community in a meaningful way. The momentum we started in London will hopefully continue to grow for our next conference in Los Angeles in 2023. From there I plan to host global conferences that celebrate the creative video community, inform and educate our industry partners and inspire new practitioners.” How do you see this community growing in the coming years? “A core mission of frame:work is client education. We not only create projects with awesome tools, but we are responsible for guiding our clients through the best practices for the successful use of those tools. In my mind, good client education starts with better understanding of each other and our specific approaches to creative video production. frame:work will offer the community space to nurture the conversations forward. These connections improve our awareness of each other’s process, advance our professional practice, and enrich our client relationships going forward. Ultimately, I envision frame:work as the foundation for the professional society the live pixel community will have one day.”


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