MAVERICK IDEAS FULLY IMAGINED I ROGER WATERS An in-the-round spectacle providing fans with an immersive experience DERMOT KENNEDY A pragmatic team translates the singer-songwriter’s artistry to the masses TORI AMOS 22live supports the singer’s latest European tour with a d&b audiotechnik solution WWW.TPiMAGAZINE.COM LIZZO: SPECIAL An inspirational production promoting a message of positivity and inclusion for audiences and crew alike MAY/JUNE 2023 • #275
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ON THE STARTING LINE…
May / June 2023
Editor Stew Hume
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Like many people, in 2020 I discovered the joys of running. Not only did it offer the only real exercise option in those dystopian years, but it provided a great counterbalance to working life. It’s a habit that’s stuck, and nowadays, all too often within the TPi office, you’ll hear Jacob and I banging on about yet another weekend of running in preparation for the various races we both now tend to take part in.
That feeling of building up to a milestone event is one that applies not just to running but is also absolutely relevant to what we do at TPi, and I can’t shake the feeling that the past few months have been a warm-up for a big race ahead. We’ve been busy with numerous arena tours, company visits and even our annual family holiday to Prolight + Sound, but looking at the packed schedule of festivals and stadium tours to come, it certainly seems as though we’re about to go up another notch.
This is going to be a busy period for the live events sector and our hope is to bring you as much on-site coverage from some of the biggest events taking place this year, giving those working tirelessly behind the scenes the kudos they so rightly deserve. However, before we tackle this ‘marathon’ summer, there’s still the matter of some truly stellar productions that we have had the pleasure of witnessing over the past few months.
For our cover story, I had the privilege of meeting the crew behind Lizzo’s Special tour – an extremely welcoming touring camp with each department exuding enthusiasm for what the singer is putting out into the world. As well as some innovative visual techniques such as projection mapping onto the singer during one of her tracks, we also got to talk to many of the crew about the importance of diversity on the road. You can read more about this on p38.
Meanwhile, Jacob pulled double duty for this issue, heading over to Amsterdam’s Ziggo Dome to catch Roger Waters (p52), before returning to the UK to see Dermot Kennedy’s stop at The O2 as part of his arena touring campaign (p66). I also got a heavy dose of drum ’n’ bass this issue, speaking to the visual teams from both Pendulum (p24) and Andy C (p32).
And to bring things down a notch, we had Rob Speight head down to the Royal Albert Hall on behalf of TPi to take in Tori Amos’ latest production and catch up with her loyal audio team along with audio vendor, 22live.
Away from this issue,, we have to also give a massive shout out to Pete, Fran, Alice and Justin for yet another successful TPMEA Awards. The magazine and event have been going from strength to strength each year and it’s amazing to see how this once supplement of TPi has developed its own identity and loyal readership. Do keep an eye out for some sizeable changes in the print delivery of TPMEA in the very near future.
Lastly, and on the theme of things to come, TPi is excited to be launching a brand new event later this year - GTL Session. This event for tour managers from across the music industry to reconnect with peers as well as network with booking agents, high-end, hoteliers and luxury transport companies across ground, air and sea. Stay tuned for more information on this one in the coming months.
On that cliffhanger… until next time.
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ON THE COVER
Lizzo’s hard-working crew embody the same values that the singer is so passionate about.
12 22Live supports Tori Amos’ latest tour with d&b audiotechnik XSL line array.
16 Jason Baeri reflects on lighting Depeche Mode’s new US tour.
20 Pop punk four-piece, All Time Low return to the UK with a heritage rock ’n’ roll-inspired show.
24 Ben Inskip curates visuals for a jaw-dropping, one-off live performance from Pendulum at London’s Alexandra Palace.
26 Funktion-One Vero provides audio reinforcement for some of the biggest names in EDM at Ultra Miami.
30 L-Acoustics launches its brand new L Series, featuring its patented PULS technology, at Hollywood Bowl.
32 We meet the team pushing the boundaries of Andy C’s legendary live shows.
52 ROGER WATERS
An in-the-round production providing audiences with sonic and scenic storytelling.
66 DERMOT KENNEDY
A pragmatic crew translates the singer-songerwriter’s message to the masses.
76 BPM SFX welcomes TPi to its Burnley HQ to share the story behind the company’s acquisition of AC Lasers.
80 Bigabox Productions celebrates a decade in business.
84 KB Event calls for a fuel duty reduction on HVO to allow the li ve events sector to become greener, faster.
88 4Wall Europe’s Maisie Osborne and Flare Lighting’s Rae Atkin.
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TORI AMOS: OCEAN TO OCEAN
She began creating Little Earthquakes, went To Venus and Back and is currently travelling and touring Ocean to Ocean. Tori Amos has always stunned audiences with her unique, often quirky but always exquisite style, musicianship and expressive lyrics. Lockdown was a tough time for the live performance and events industry. Amos herself, according to her website, “…descended into an emotional state lower than she had been for a long time.” From this emotional turmoil came her current album Ocean to Ocean, which she is currently touring across Europe and the USA.
The show, which had been in production and performer rehearsals for three weeks, had already completed three dates in the UK before TPi caught up with them at The Royal Albert Hall. It was then to embark on a string of European shows, postponed due to the pandemic, before continuing to the USA.
Alex Penn of 22Live, the audio vendor for the tour, explained some of the more unusual aspects of the project.
“We are doing the European run now and then the American run as well. We basically put the truck into a shipping container, with a few minor tweaks, say bye and see it in four weeks,” he explained of the decision to ship the entire system across the Atlantic. “It’s a complex system the way that it’s put together
and everybody’s comfortable with it. Tori Amos has always carried the same kit from Europe to America, and we actually have several other tours now doing the same”.
With Amos having such a long and successful career, the tours have an illustrious lineage when it comes to some of the crew.
From the early days, the Amos camp toured with what was SSE Hire and their crew, many of whom are still with the tour. Everyone is very close and was described as “a family” on more than one occasion. In fact, FOH Engineer (and later to become Amos’s husband) Mark Hawley, was part of those original tours, as was Andy Yates who continues to work as Monitor and Stage Tech. When Penn and Spencer Beard moved to join up with 22live and their newly formed group of directors; Simon Gladstone, Stefan Phillips and Paul Timmins, they launched 22Live, and the Amos tour followed at the beginning of 2023.
“We assert ourselves as an experienced newcomer, a reliable alternative and aim to appeal to people looking for boutique service from an independent company. We want to be a provider for people who are passionate about audio, system delivery and the production industry as a whole, ” Penn concluded. System Technician, Miles Barton spoke of the challenge the wide variety of venues across
both sides of the Atlantic presents. “It can be very different every day. I don’t often do the same configuration twice in Europe,” he revealed. “America is a bit more standard and we play more standards of 2,500 to 3,000-capacity theatres, and then a few small sheds. It’s a real mix of venues in Europe. In Brussels, for example, we’re doing a smaller red velvety round room. Then we’ve got old white concert halls such as Hamburg Laeiszhalle. Then we do some of the more modern classical concert halls where they’ve got no parallel surfaces. It’s a real mix, so I’m ground stacking some days and flying others, flying fills off trusses or putting speakers on poles to fill balconies,” he continued.
To accomplish all of these requirements, 22Live provided a brand-new d&b audiotechnik XSL line array as the main system, comprising 20 XSL8s and 12 XSL12 boxes, along with a collection of T10 and YP boxes for out-hangs, front and balcony fills. Barton then utilises an Outline Newton 16+8 packaged in a 22live drive rack, equipped with all the usual tools to manage the system.
The entire audio package runs on a tightly integrated Dante system. “The FOH and Monitor consoles both share inputs over the Dante network. PA returns encompassing the Outline Newton and d&b DS10 are over Dante.
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As 22Live supports the singer-songwriter on her latest tour with its new d&b audiotechnik XSL line array, TPi pays a visit to the Royal Albert Hall to meet the crew behind the latest production.
Words and Photos: Rob Speight
We’ve also got a Green-GO comms system including Dante bridge, and for the first time we’ve supplied a single package for the tour for all; lighting has got its own party line, audio has its own party line. There’s another party line that we’re both on with the stage manager. And if there’s a house lighting or something additional, we can pick that up anywhere there is a network switch,” detailed Barton.
“If it can be networked, we’ve networked it. With the distro we’ve got, I can log in from FOH and see what we’re pulling on each leg, and if we’re stable on the voltages,” he smiled.
According to Penn, this tight integration, attention to detail and rethinking of systems and packages for the modern touring environment is one of the main reasons that 22Live stands out. Being a relatively new business they are not bound by having legacy infrastructure and have designed, in-house, items such as flight cases, modular rack input/output and patch systems, as well as their own range of stage boxes, which all go towards creating a robust, integrated and modular ecosystem.
Behind the SSL L200+ at FOH, Mark Hawley is one who definitely appreciates the boundary pushing. “When Alex joined 22Live, no one was surprised that we went with them and now partnering with 22live has enabled us to push further than before. I’ve always embraced technology,” he explained. This love of technology and learning new things is something that is very evident, as Hawley is known for using a different desk on each tour, enabling him to learn new equipment and ways of doing things. That said, Ocean to Ocean is the second tour in a
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row on which the SSL has been his weapon of choice.
Hawley’s background as a studio engineer can also be seen at his FOH position, as an imposing pair of Genelec 8351Bs and Pro Tools rig allow him to refine his mix for every show.
“Because I am from a studio background, I find fine-tuning compressors and all the rest of it much easier. I don’t know how live guys do it when they’ve had no experience in studios. I find it really difficult to judge compression and stuff in a big room. There’s a lot going on there. So, I spend most of my time in the day working on the band and the loops and sorting out her vocal effects. Then I spend the whole show really keeping my eye on her,” he explained.
“No two shows are the same, with a back catalogue the size of Tori Amos’ we have so much material changing every night, it’s a lot to stay on top of. We so far have around 100 tracks programmed on the tour and the list grows daily!”
It raised the question to whether Hawley was trying to achieve a studio mix or was the show a purely live experience? “It’s purely a live scene because the versions are so different,” he confirmed. “I work like I’m in a studio, but I’m not trying to recreate what we did in the studio –I’m just trying to get the best out of what they’re playing. Also, some vocal effects for example,
are a signature part of the song, so I recreate that, but mainly it’s just getting the best out of what they’re doing on stage,” Hawley said.
As well as relying on the onboard SSL processing and FX, Hawley has a raft of outboard including UA LA-610 and 6176 preamps, SSL Bus+, GML EQ and an SSL Fusion, which he has across the master buss. “The master bus goes into my old crutch, which is the GML EQ. I could probably do away with it now, but I’ve used it for so many years. The Fusion is great – it’s one of those mystery boxes,” he said with a grin.
At the next stop on the Dante line was Monitor Engineer Neil Heal, who took over from 17-year tour veteran Monitor Engineer Marcel van Limbeek. “I think I got put forward because I do more FOH than monitors,” he explained.
“Her mix is very much a FOH mix. She has delays spinning in, spinning out, chorus coming in, coming out. She has EQ changes on her vocals which are specific to musical notes that she’s pitching to,” he continued. “I’m using the UA Teletronix LA2A as the vocal compressor, and a mix of supporting effects come from both my Eventide Eclipse and Bricasti M7.”
Heal moved to a DiGiCo Quantum 338 for this tour. “We switched to Quantum this time because of the changes in the EQ on her vocal from song to song. Some of it can be fairly
extreme. So, instead of having to duplicate the channels, I can send to the drummer and the bass player her vocal pre-EQ, pre-dynamics on the same channel without having to duplicate channels,” he detailed.
The stage is, like many these days, a pretty quiet affair, with Amos and drums on the fairly niche Albatross Audio PH9B hardwired ears and two, “very low level” d&b M4s for bass. The change of PA to the cardioid d&b XSL system, has also improved our quiet stage which was another motivation of Hawley to use it. The only other noise source is Amos’s Leslie speaker.
“The piano gets sent to that but from a send from my desk. So, it turns it on and off for me, for FOH, and for her. On some songs it’s on all the way through, on others it’s only on in the choruses or for three lines. It’s fairly unusual,” Heal concluded.
For a show which features the dynamic delicacy of a grand piano, the intricacies of Amos’s music and vocals, coupled with the modern workflows and technology, the show was an intimate and accurate portrayal of the sound that the singer has become famous for. If that wasn’t enough, the production also boasted one of the happiest and warmest touring families either side of the Atlantic.
EVENT FOCUS 014
with the razor-sharp beam
DEPECHE MODE: MEMENTO MORI TOUR
Embarking on their first campaign since 2018’s Global Spirit Tour, and Dave Gahan and Martin Gore’s first tour as a duo following the passing of Andy Fletcher, Depeche Mode and their crew will traverse over 70 locations –presenting 15 albums and four decades worth of material, including tracks from the band’s latest studio album, Memento Mori, to live music fans throughout the United States.
Lighting Designer, Jason Baeri was brought onboard to help realise the production design, based on a concept by Creative Director, Anton Corbijn. “He’s a brilliant guy to work with,” Baeri said, highlighting the influence of Corbijn on the band’s creative output. “This is my first time working with him and the band. I am consistently blown away by their stage presence and their seemingly endless supply of energy. They go all out every single night. There isn’t an audience member there that doesn’t feel the entire band connecting to them and sharing that energy.”
Baeri shed some light on the unique stage design: “Anton Corbijn had this idea for a big scenic ‘M’ on the stage. It was meant to be not only a video surface, but a monolithic statement piece on stage that would tower over the audience.”
The large and imposing standalone ‘M’ set piece is the focal point of the staging design, which doubles as a video screen with content matching the back wall of video behind the
band. The ‘M’ lends itself not only to the iconography of Memento Mori and the band’s past touring campaigns. “Anton created nine films for individual songs that were different to every audience member based on where they were in relation to the M,” Baeri pointed out.
Universal Pixels provided 320m2 of INFiLED ER5 LED for the upstage wall, IMAG screens and custom-built ‘M’ at the centre of the production design. The ‘M’ stands at an impressive 8m in height, and was manufactured by TAIT. UP has also provided a Grass Valley Kula PPU, Hitachi 3G camera channels, Panasonic HE145 robo cameras and disguise gx 2c media servers. “As with all UP projects we package to occupy the least shipping volume and this is an efficient tour visually with all LED surfaces fitting within two 4K outputs from a single active gx 2c server,” Universal Pixels Commercial Director, Phil Mercer commented.
“E ach campaign has always had a very interesting look, and within that, each is always very different. The common denominator being that they’re always very good. There is a consistently high quality from Anton Corbijn’s creations, and it shows,” Baeri said. “We’re happy to be a part of the band’s delivery again; this new era looks unique and memorable, and we look forward to having them in the UK.”
The lighting department collaborated with Video Director, Jon Shrimpton to develop a cohesive visual approach in line with Corbijn
and the band. “Lighting plays a cohesive role with video when it comes to factoring in brightness and contrast. The lighting rig was designed to accent the rectilinear nature of the screen and recognise it as a defining shape, highlighting its edges rather than ignoring them. We really had two systems, the overhead rig, and the screen surround that was meant to complement and enhance the overall picture with the video surface,” Baeri explained.
To t his end, the outer ridges of the ‘M’ are lit with Martin VDO Sceptron 10 LED bars. “We highlight the hard edges of the ‘M’ rather than pretending it’s an amorphous object. When Anton [Corbijn], Jon [Shrimpton], and Miguel [Ribeiro] have content on the video wall, we try to support that by being part of the same world and language,” he added.
Corbijn initially presented the idea as a series of sketches, but it was up to Baeri to translate those ideas into a working drawing. Baeri’s typical workflow is drawing and modelling in Vectorworks, and going back and forth between that and Syncronorm Depence2 – the latter of which he says has ‘replaced most render tools he uses’ due to its high-quality renders. “The renders look good enough to use for presentation to artists. It’s really a game changer in the industry.”
The visual team collaborated with Earlybird Visual when it came to building the show. The support service helped build the model
EVENT FOCUS 016
the two creative worlds with which Depeche Mode perform, Lighting Designer, Jason Baeri shares an insight into the creative process of lighting the band’s latest live production.
Words: Jacob Waite
Photos: Steve Jennings
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and prepare for Depence2. “They are a great timesaving resource and provided all the help we needed,” Baeri said, reflecting on the two weeks of previsualisation spent at Earlybird Visual’s HQ in Burbank, California with Programmer and Associate Designer, Joe Bay prior to rehearsals. The team, consisting of Baeri, Bay, and Lighting Director, Sarah Parker also spent four days of tech rehearsals without the band in LA, and a couple of days with the band in Northern California, just outside Oakland.
With 90% of the show lighting operating on timecode, Associate Designer, Joe Bay helped Baeri get the show on the road within the first week. “Joe was nothing short of instrumental in helping realise the look of the show. I’m lucky to have him on my team.”
Having travelled with the crew for the opening three dates of the tour, Baeri then handed over the keys to the console to Parker, who will stay on the road until the end of the year. “Sarah’s so incredibly adaptive to any environment, which is something that this tour really needs,” Baeri said. “Over the next year-and-a-half, this tour will visit every conceivable size of venue, and she is fantastic at making that work, and cares intently about the outcome of the project. Simply put, we’re blessed to have her involved.”
The rig was designed to be both ‘tourable’ and flexible, without losing ‘the integrity of the design’ in shorter rooms. “There are two competing sounds within Depeche Mode, which makes them such a beautiful and dynamic band to work with – a digital synthesised sound which harks back to grungy, electronic sounds from their early days, and this completely separate rock band with a heavy guitar and drum sound,” Baeri added.
“T here’s this huge breadth of sound across their catalogue, so you have to play to both sides of that – so we stuck to one theme across each song. We had two main types of looks we were shooting for in every song. When we were putting together a song that was heavier
in the synthesiser world, we tended to stay with the LED fixtures, opting for a look that was meant to feel more washy and digital with big colour blocks and staccato hits. When we got into the bigger guitar and drum rock songs, we leaned more on more poignant parallel beam looks that are reminiscent of a ‘big rock’ rig,” Baeri continued. “Those are the two worlds we mostly lived in.”
In addition to VDO Spectrons lining the core stage elements, the wider rig featured Robe MegaPointes and BMFL Spots, GLP JDC1 units, Ayrton Magic Blade FXs, Radiance Hazers and ETC Lustr 2s as well as Elation Professional Monet, Rembrandt and Mondrian light sources. Control came in the shape of MA Lighting grandMA3 consoles operating MA2 mode, and an MA3 Lite with MA3 NPU L.
Baeri highlighted MegaPointes as the ‘workhorse’ fixture of the rig. “They’re such a ‘rock’ fixture – they have a load out which is fast, perfect for ‘hits’ and ‘sharp beamy looks’, and it moves quickly for a fixture with that level of output. Fundamentally, it is a good ‘toolkit’ fixture for a show like this,” he explained. A lot of the outlining and framing of the stage is achieved by Ayrton Magic Blade FXs, a linear bar type fixture, which Baeri believes adds “framing of the video screen as well as an incredibly dynamic tool to architecturally accent the music .”
Key lighting was provided by Elation Professional Monet and Rembrandt fixtures. “Rembrandt is one of the only available moving lights on the market that is actually a wash when it’s called a wash. It’s a soft-edged fixture like we used to have wish wash optics, instead of a PC lens with a bunch of frost, so I was extremely happy with the inclusion of those. Upstage had Elation Modrians which, even though there are only six, provide an incredibly large and punchy FX light that feels like you have a hundred of them.”
Like most tours post-pandemic, sourcing kit was a challenge. “We had a few versions of what fixtures were and weren’t available.
We worked with 4Wall, who were fantastic in helping us specify the fixtures that were important or providing substitutions that were in the same world as what we wanted,” he said, praising the tour’s lighting vendor.
“T his was the first time I’ve worked with the UK contingent of 4Wall. This is a particularly challenging rig to get into the door every day and they do an incredible job facilitating that. I couldn’t have asked for a better crew – Jake Jeavons and his team are amazing at not only load-in and -out but how seamless the gear packs away into trucks. The guys across the pond were helpful at sourcing gear on both sides of the Atlantic.”
4Wall Europe Head of Live Events, Jordan Hanson, commented: “I’ve worked with [Production Manager] Tony Gittins and his team on a few different shows, so it made the whole process a smooth and easy one. It is the first time I’ve worked with Jason and it has been a real pleasure to work through the design with him to create this great looking show. This tour was Project Managed from the UK by Andy Whittaker with the support of Bob Suchocki and his team in the US. Massive thanks to the lighting crew headed up by Jake Jevons.”
For Baeri, this was an important project, not just because of the scale and breadth or the campaign, but Depeche Mode are a band he grew up listening to. “You don’t always get to work with those bands you listened to in your high school bedroom. Hearing the classics like Personal Jesus live is still a ‘pinch me’ moment,” Baeri concluded.
“T his has been a wonderful process from management on down. Tony Gittens is a wizard at getting this entire circus wrangled into something tourable and I would definitely like to work with him, the band and the rest of the team again. Everyone has united to put on the best show possible.”
018 EVENT FOCUS
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ALL TIME LOW: OVO ARENA WEMBLEY
Pop punk four-piece, All Time Low set about their largest UK show to date –backed by a production design with the characteristics of heritage rock ’n’ roll shows.
Words: Jacob Waite
Photos: Zoe Andreou
Hot on the heels of their first European tour post-pandemic and the release of their ninth studio album, Tell Me I’m Alive, All Time Low and their touring team descended on a soldout OVO Arena Wembley with an impactful production design drawing inspiration from rock ’n’ roll hall of famers.
Tess Minor of MajorMinor Designs, who was embarking on her first tour with All Time Low and their management team, was approached by Production Manager Phil Gornell to create a design for the band’s European tour at the start of the year.
“T he band and production are wonderful to work with and trusted the design team wholeheartedly,” Minor began. “The brief included references to old-school rock ’n’ roll designs and moving away from one massive video wall to more of a focus on a big set piece with complimentary lighting.”
The creative team drew inspiration from Queen’s 1984 The Works Tour and KISS’ 1977 Rock and Roll Over Tour. “We wanted something a bit rougher around the edges with a gritty element to it. For the lighting, it was about getting that full, overhead Par Can look in a modern way and highlighting the impressive set piece,” Minor explained.
This brief left room for the design team
to build from their own inspirations with the discussion process including the band, production and the design team. Capture software was used to produce renders and previsualisation, while rehearsals took place at Millennium Studio in Bedford, London.
For the OVO Wembley Arena date, the existing European tour configuration was expanded and the set was heightened with the addition of more lighting fixtures and rigging infrastructure from Lights Control Rigging and the inclusion of pyrotechnics, courtesy of Limeless FX. “Special effects like flame hits, a pyro waterfall, confetti and cryo brought an explosive energy to the show,” Minor reported.
Limitless FX’s package included eight G flames on power ups with liquid nozzles, six CO2 Jets, six pyro positions with four hits on each, stadium shots and confetti blowers as well as a ‘spectacular’ pyro waterfall. Everything was triggered from FOH with Gornell guiding the cues throughout.
“We are always very keen to make sure any look we do is striking and impactful and provides good ‘hero’ shots. The beginning of the set started off with a confetti hit and the last quarter of the set was back-to-back effects in collaboration with the lighting team,” Limitless FX’s George Baker commented. “It
was a pleasure to work with the team and we can’t wait to work with the team again soon.”
The video walls were also upscaled, becoming larger by one row and added columns provided “more of an impact” in Wembley, according to Minor. Video Designer, Adam Cook created a mixture of pre-recorded and live content for the design’s two video walls.
To get the modern take on the Par Can rig, Minor chose Martin Aura XB LED wash lights. “I wanted something that was simple but brought that smaller, circular look to the rig. The modern element came from the pan and tilt feature of the fixture, which was utilised to create dynamic moments in the show,” Minor said.
The console of choice was an MA Lighting grandMA3 Lite operating on MA2 software, controlled by Lighting Operator, David Summers of Sonus Pro. “David Summers has added an energetic and raw element to the show by busking different hits on top of what was already programmed during the show,” Minor enthused.
In addition to MAC Aura XBs, Lights Control Rigging provided GLP impression X4 Bar 20 and JDC1 units in the rig as well as on-site personnel. “Gordon Torrington and LCR are wonderful to collaborate with on this project and provide the tour with great gear. Gordon
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went above and beyond for this tour and has helped us deliver an incredible product,” Minor said, complimenting TPi Awards 2023’s Favourite Lighting Rental Company.
The biggest challenge of the stage design was providing the band with the tools to recreate ‘the ultimate playground’ to jump, run and skip along during their performance. “To say they are quite active during the show is a bit of an understatement. You give them somewhere to go and they will have lots of fun with it. We wanted to make sure that we had a dynamic set with lots of different levels but also had a rough, old-school look to it,” Minor said, praising set supplier – Ox Event House. “They have done an incredible job of bringing this vision to life. They elevated the set and made it an impactful component to the show.”
Ben Levitt, Technical Director for Ox Event House, commented: “It was fantastic to collaborate with Tess Minor of MajorMinor Designs and the wider production team to create a fully tourable set for the European and UK run of the tour, which then concluded with a much larger set design for the final show at the OVO Arena, Wembley.”
Levitt continued: “We were able to bring to the stage Tess Minor’s set design, which included drum, keyboard and central risers of varying levels, which were then connected to ramps positioned on the stage to create the desired look.”
Minor cited the inclusion of ‘easter eggs’ buried within the set, such as the ‘All Time Low poster wall’ – a collection of tour posters from the band’s past touring campaigns, as well as a grill for the front of the 8ft middle platform featuring 24 vintage RUSH PAR 2 RGBW Zoom units from Martin Professional and a ‘cab wall’, which was built out of old guitar cabs the band had in storage, illuminated by a Chroma-Q Colour Force 48 lighting source.
“This design is adored by the band, production, and the design team so it was exhilarating to see it reach its full potential in Wembley. Witnessing the set come to life and being able to experience the depth that it brought to the stage amplified the whole experience,” Minor concluded.
“This was a big show for everyone involved, so our goal as the design team was to make it an absolutely great rock ’n’ roll show that energised the audience and connected the band to their fans in the most electrifying way.” www.alltimelow.com www.majorminordesigns.co.uk
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PENDULUM: ALEXANDRA PALACE
The drum ’n’ bass legends return to the capital with a stellar live performance at Alexandra Palace. TPi chats to Show Designer Ben Inskip to hear about the creative backstory to this jaw-dropping one-off event.
With the band’s planned multi-night headline show at Brixton Academy having to move to a single night at Alexandra Palace at short notice, the Pendulum team had to act quickly to rethink the show design to fit into the historic venue. But despite the change of scenery, the band was still keen to make a huge impact.
Having been brought in for the 2022 festival run, Ben Inskip – Production Designer from ARTDPT – has been working with Pendulum in the role of Show Designer for almost a year.
“W hen it came to this show, the brief was to create something high impact in its size, video orientated and asymmetrical,” said Inskip. “We wanted to use geometry and defined edges to give the show a gritty, futuristic feel, which materialised in split-level mesh risers with transparent video fasciae, maximising vertical space with tall video columns and 90° zig-zag truss arrangements overhead to mimic the shape of the risers below.”
While the towering LED screens and zigzag trusses made the most of the vertical space above the band at Alexandra Palace, the move into this older building presented some interesting challenges – chiefly t he roof
weight capacity. “Due to the nature of the roof at Ally Pally, we had to keep an eye on the snow loading restrictions and the weather,” commented Inskip.
“In the event of heavy snow on our show day, we needed a practical plan B to deliver a working show with a massively reduced roof capacity at a moment’s notice.” Fortunately for the team, it didn’t snow until the day after the performance.
Despite the challenges, moving the show into Alexandra Palace meant that the production could roll the stage, meaning all departments could work simultaneously, giving more t ime for final touches.
“We’d worked hard on the CAD plans and in production rehearsals to ensure that when the rolling stage was pushed into position, the flown elements married up perfectly,” continued Inskip.
“The flown element connected physically to the risers in various places, so it was important to get this right and it was extremely satisfying when it all slotted together.”
When it c ame to t he fi xture choice, Inskip selected a broad range of products including GLP impression X4 Bars, which were used
to frame the video columns and gave a “massive sheet of light” that was always at the team’s disposal. Also on the rider were Robe MegaPointes and RoboSpots, as well as Martin Professional PXLs and GLP JDC1s – all provided by lighting vendor, Siyan.
For some extra-special looks, the team identified AED’s Luxibel B B last Pro along with the Redot RC-M6.9 Carbon LED Screen. “We looked at a lot of batten options as we knew we needed something that was going to cut through all of the LED wall,” Inskip stated.
“After seeing the white strip on the Luxibel B Blast Pro in person, it was clear this would do the job. Using them to create the zig-zags in the roof gave the show a unique overhead look that we were really happy with.”
The use of the Redot LED screen also came after testing alongside several other LED products. “We ran some pre-production tests with a few products to find one t ile t hat could be used t hroughout t he different elements of the design,” Inskip recalled.
“Redot was a new product to us. It stood out as a perfect balance of transparency to give us that industrial look to the riser fascia and high-resolution video output to showcase the
EVENT FOCUS 024
Words: Stew Hume
Photos: Robert Stainforth
content even on the smaller surfaces around the risers. It was lightweight and strong enough for the tall columns and with plenty of rigging options for us to wrap the risers in.” With the kit selected and an extensive amount of pre-programming under their belts, Inskip explained how he and the rest of the visual team went into Alexandra Palace quite relaxed. “We were confident in our programming and how the show looked. From there, all that was left was very minor tweaks and to ride the keylight. It meant my lighting Operator Matt Child and I could just enjoy the show.”
Matt Child is also a part of ARTDPT and, according to Inskip, was an essential player in the creative process.
“We work as a team on all our projects,” he stated. “It’s always great to approach projects like this as a team and means we have the capacity to deliver the best show we can without compromise.”
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RESISTANCE AT ULTRA MIAMI 2023
Funktion-One Vero provides sound reinforcement for some of the biggest names in electronic music performing on the Megastructure at Ultra Miami.
Miami Music Week: the gathering of gatherings for the global electronic music community. Seven days of parties, which conclude with the grand finale, Ultra Music Festival. This is where Ultra Worldwide’s house and techno brand, Resistance, shines brightest, which is saying something considering its ever-increasing profile around the world. The 10,000 capacity Megastructure hosted a slew of talent, including headliners Eric Prydz, Adam Beyer, Camelphat and Carl Cox, and was home to a Funktion-One Vero sound system.
The Megastructure is a tour de force of technical production expertise. Each year the team, led by Production Director Jim Baggott, who worked closely with Evan Bloom to design this year’s show, aims to somehow surpass the previous year, and each year they defy the odds by doing so.
Realising the ambitious build and integration of Eric Prydz’s Holo Show on day one was a big consideration. “It was a real challenge,” said Baggott. “The Eric Prydz production loaded in on Wednesday, programmed on Thursday, ready for the show on Friday, but there was six hours of artists like Maceo Plex and Michael
Bibi programmed beforehand. We had to work out how we could have other artists perform when the whole stage was out of bounds. We came up with a 15-minute changeover concept, where we built a huge rolling DJ booth, 24ft wide by 12ft deep, with two eight by eight-foot dancer platforms either side with lights and video on, and obviously audio and all the DJ equipment. On the day it worked like a dream, we managed to do the changeover in four minutes.”
This meant Beware Productions’ sound crew - with support from Funktion-One’s distributor for the US, Coherent Distribution - loaded-in on Tuesday, deploying main left and right hangs of 12 Funktion-One Vero loudspeakers driven by Funktion-One D100Q amplifiers and a main stack of F124 bass speakers - four wide, five high - in a cardioid configuration at stage right; angled towards the VIP stage.
Six Funktion-One F132 sub bass speakers delivered the ultimate low frequencies, while infill at downstage edge was a pair of Evo 7Ts, with F124s at downstage centre edge to address the pit area. Two delay stacks of three F124s and two Vero VX90s were positioned 37m from the main hangs, again powered
by Funktion-One D100Q amps. On-stage DJ monitoring was handled by two pairs of Funktion-One PSM318s.
Beware Productions’ Brian Kee said: “Bringing a large Funktion-One system to an international stage like Ultra Music Festival solidifies for me that quality, high-fidelity audio is a language anyone can understand and enjoy. The smiles on everyone’s faces when each DJ drops their first track is the reason I love working with Funktion-One on these projects.”
Due to the festival’s central location, the City of Miami imposes strict limits on the SPL being produced by Ultra’s sound systems. The Resistance stage is close to high-end residences on Biscayne Blvd, making restrictions particularly challenging. The event’s environmental noise monitoring company deploys multiple sensors at various locations that continually measure the levels, including an A-weighted microphone 18m from the downstage edge. Measuring points at several of the residential towers along Biscayne specifically assess low frequency content over time (the main concern with these residences) over time. The combination of these two constraints meant the audio team had to
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Photos: Ultra Miami
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work intelligently to achieve the right level in the audience area together with minimal offsite disturbance. No mean feat.
Using Funktion-One Projection software, it was determined that a four-wide stack of F124s would provide the directivity required to control the horizontal spread of the low frequencies. This stack was placed stage right - on the same side as the residential towers - and angled away from the towers into the crowd. The F124s were then configured in a cardioid arrangement to further reduce the amount of bass frequencies radiating backwards towards Biscayne and the residences.
Another feature of this system, which had a double positive of enhancing the audience experience while respecting the SPL limits, were the two delay stacks roughly 37m from the stage. They helped to control the levels within the Megastructure, while providing an extremely clear and immediate audio image in an area roughly 26m deep outside the Megastructure.
Eric Prydz’s FOH engineer Peter Thomas said: “The system provided complete clarity from 20hz to 20khz over a large arena with 15,000 people. I was easily able to bring out the low end punch that is important when delivering a dance show at this level, while also being able to retain the mids and highs with no negative muddiness, effect or distortion. I will be looking to make this system a ‘go to’ on my audio riders in future.”
Baggot gave his final thoughts on the audio delivery for the Megastructure: “Again this year Funktion-One, Coherent Distribution and Beware again surpassed themselves in the Megastructure. It was a faultless service and of course best in class!”
028 EVENT FOCUS
L-ACOUSTICS LAUNCHES L-SERIES
At a private event held at the Hollywood Bowl, L-Acoustics revealed the new L Series, featuring its patented Progressive UltraDense Line Source (PULS) technology. Despite being a new system to the market, the L Series has already featured at several events including the BRIT Awards with Britannia Row/Clair Global as well as Helene Fischer’s latest production with Solotech in recent months.
L Series comprises two elements that are designed to work together or on their own: L2 above and L2D below. One L2 or L2D element provides the same contour as four K2 elements in a format that is 46% smaller and 40% lighter.
“Our primary goal for L Series is to achieve the pinnacle of quality that line array can offer,” Scott Sudgen, Director of Product Management at L-Acoustics, informed TPi a few weeks after the official launch. “The size and weight improvements are a direct consequence of eliminating the extra material –wood, and metal primarily – from the enclosure, but our goals were all squarely in optimisation of the Active Radiation Factor, having all the
sound sources as close to each other within the enclosure, and within the array.”
Each element contains eight three-inch high-frequency drivers with eight ten-inch low-frequency drivers and four side-loaded 12-inch drivers with front and back exits to deliver broadband coverage with a choice of cardioid or supercardioid patterns. Each L2 element includes four Panflex modules, while L2D contains two Panflex modules on the top elements, and two fixed L-Fins progressing from 110° to 140° on the bottom elements. With no inter-element angles, a pin-less auto-lock rigging system, and a single cable connector, repetitive load in and out- is diminished. L Series is just as impactful on the environment with 56% less paint; 30% less wood; 60% less steel; 30% less volume and 25% less weight compared to other line arrays.
“Smaller and lighter elements take less crew to move around the venue, fewer forklifts to load into the truck, and smaller motors and truss to fly. Venues or events with 1,000 to 25,000 people can benefit from the L Series increased stability, consistency, directivity control and of
course being lighter, faster and smaller in size is always a win.”
L Series is driven by the LA7.16 highresolution touring amplified controller. LA7.16 comes in a new LA-RAK III touring rack offering 48 channels of amplification in a Milan AVBready package with more than 60,000W of power in 9U. L-Acoustics has also introduced Clamp1000, which can carry up to four L2/L2D. Users can rotate a flown line array from the ground, saving setup time and motors needed.
Between April and October, PRG and Solotech in the Americas, Britannia Row/ Clair Global and Novelty Group in EMEA, and Tokyo Sanko and Winly in APAC will deploy the L Series. L2 and L2D recently featured at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival and Stagecoach Festival with support from RAT Sound and AEG Presents. “We’ve already heard from the crews that have deployed L Series that they appreciate the speed of load in- and out as well as the radically diminished margin for error with the fixed, progressive curve of L Series,” Sudgen concluded. www.l-acoustics.com
EVENT FOCUS 030
The PA manufacturer descends on Hollywood Bowl to introduce the new L Series.
Words: Jacob Waite
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ANDY C: ALIVE 2.0
Just over a year on since Andy C graced the cover of TPi with his – at the time – biggest ever show, the famed DJ rewrites the history books with a headline performance at The O2. TPi checks-in with the visual team to find out how they are continuing to push the boundaries.
The TPi Awards bar is always an interesting place to find out what shows people are working on. This year, before the doors had opened, we found ourselves speaking to two suppliers – Simon Harris of Observatory and Dan Hamill of 80six – who explained that they would be joining forces for Andy C’s performance in The O2. Coincidently, that night’s TPi Award for Favourite Lighting Supplier went to Lights Control Rigging, who also featured on the supplier roster of the DJ’s show. With so many tie-ins, we thought we’d see what this stellar group of creatives had conjured up for this seminal performance.
More observant readers may remember that Andy C featured in TPi #273, off the back of his biggest show to date at Wembley Arena, with the venue’s first ever all-night rave. Seeming to have taste for ‘firsts’, Andy C and his core touring family added another note in the UK history books being the first drum ’n’ bass DJ to headline The O2. Even an unfortunate leg injury couldn’t stop the famed DJ from taking to the stage much to the pleasure of thousands of fans that had rocked up for this very special evening.
Simon Harris of Observatory, who took on the roles of Creative Director, Observatory Project Manager and VJ for the show picked
up the story: “I started working with Andy during the first rendition of Alive in 2012, which featured visual content directed by Observatory Founder, Ben Sheppee,” stated Harris. “When Andy and his Manager, Scott Bourne, approached me about this project, there was never any doubt about getting the same team that delivered Andy C All Night Wembley in 2021. It’s crucial to have the best people in charge of each aspect of the project, and I was fortunate enough that my dream team was available.”
This team consisted of Production Designer Matt Pitman; Lighting Programmer, Olly Martin; Lighting Operator, Tim Fawkes and Video Programmer/Operator, Nigel Sadler. “Working with this group of talented individuals was an absolute pleasure, and I believe that our chemistry and shared passion for the music and production helped us create a spectacular show that left a lasting impression on the audience,” enthused Harris.
Andy C’s Manager Scott Bourne also was keen to put across the importance of getting the right people in place for this project: “When taking on a project like a show at the O2, let alone a drum ‘n’ bass DJ show at the O2, you need to have the right people in place. Simon has been my go-to guy on anything production
for over a decade. Whether it’s him working on something personally or using one of his trusted suppliers, contacts or just giving advice, he’s the guy that can. Giving Simon and Matt this project, I knew they would pull out all the stops and go the extra mile and have an open mind when discussing the creative vision and make it a reality.”
Pitman shared his take on the creative process. “There are elements that needed to stay in this show from prior campaigns –most notably the onstage ‘A’, which has been presented in nearly every Andy C design,” stated Pitman. “We created the letter with a large screen directly upstage, with a heavy floor-supported A-shaped truss just behind the screen carrying a large quantity of Robe MegaPointes along with 30W Phaenon Lasers and CO2 Jets provided by ER Productions.”
The larger space presented further design options for Pitman. “I’ve been lucky enough to have designed several large shows at The O2, but one thing I have noticed is the amount of unused space above most production designs. I immediately decided to fill that space,” he revealed.
The solution was to utilise ladders, supplied by Lights Control Rigging (LCR). “Lighting ladders are hindered by not having a huge
Words: Stew Hume
Photos: Luke Dyson
weight capacity, but LCR has developed a new bespoke system – the WOW lighting pre rig ladders. It takes away some of the previous problems with existing ladder drops,” commented Pitman. “The sheer scale we were able to create was my favourite part of the design; the audience was clearly taken back with the amount of work that had gone into the programming and design of everything, and ultimately, their experience is the one thing that Andy wanted the show to be about.”
Walking through the other elements of the lighting rig was LCR’s Rob Watson. “We supplied a rig of 87 Robe MegaPointes, eight Ayrton Domino LTs, 50 GLP JDCs, 14 GLP XDC IPs, and 222 Martin Sceptrons. There were also numerous Flares and 18 ACME PIXEL LINE IPs. Watson described the MegaPointes as one of the “workhorse” fixtures of the show. “The Sceptron also framed everything with the big impacts coming from the various strobes on the rig. There was also a clever part of Matt’s design in which the XDCs on the ladders gave the room a big look, backlighting the ladders to give the show a lot of depth.”
Watson reflected on some of the challenges with this production, citing the various factors of being in a big arena with no production rehearsals, and emphasising the need to have everything as prepared as possible. LCR provided seven members of crew including Lighting Crew Chief, Chris Roper; Dimmer Technician, Matt Brown; Rigger, David Hilton;
Lighting Technicians, Chris Wyn, Aidan Cartmell, Jon Barlow and Noah Jones. “I also have to give a shout out to Head of Projects, Steve Bliss who oversaw all of the technical side with our new custom WOW ladders along with Junior PM, Beth Faulkner, who saw the gig out the door and assisted with crew requests and challenges. From Matt’s vision down to the crew onsite, this show was amazing to be part of and we look forward to working with the team in the future,” Watson concluded.
“Lights Control Rigging was absolutely instrumental in putting this show on,” stated
Pitman. “The design, the delivery and the incredible feat of getting something that huge and intricate loaded in and working correctly is quite an achievement.”
Harris reflected on how much had changed in terms of the technology at the disposal of the creative department. “The concept of Alive dates back to 2012 when I started working with Andy,” he explained. “The goal of the first rendition – Alive 1.0 – was to create more than just a regular DJ show.”
With Andy C being heavily involved in the production, Alive 1.0 saw some cutting-edge
EVENT FOCUS 034
“The whole team behind the production are second to none. Their passion and ability is amazing. I’ve worked with Simon Harris, Dan Hamill and Nigel Sadler on projects for over a decade and their knowledge and passion to bring my vision to life blows me away each and every time.”
visual effects including a 3D projectionmapped bespoke DJ booth “that was still a new concept at the time,” Harris remarked.
A decade on, he explained how the visual team took advantage of the technological advancements to streamline the creative process. “Alive is all about putting Andy in control. Unlike pre-mixed tracks that are common in modern big-budget DJ shows,” Harris reflected. “He has complete control over what he wants to play and when, with only the intro being the one guaranteed track. His sets are unique in that 99% of the tracks he plays are not predetermined but chosen on the fly.”
It is this unpredictability that makes his set “so thrilling”, according to Harris. However, facilitating this required some forward thinking from Observatory to create a visual and musical experience that showcases Andy’s skill as a DJ and producer. “We created and animated a selection of looks both in 2D and 3D and even utilised AI to create a number of pieces of content that synced to certain tracks that we knew Andy wanted to play.” With the content created, Andy C was then able to launch those looks when he wanted to drop a certain track from his decks.
Instead of triggering clips to play, they transmitted timecode from two Pioneer 3000CDJs via TC-Supply ShowKontrol, allowing the creative team to add lighting and lasers to the mix. “We also took MIDI control
values from Andy’s mixer, a Pioneer DJM-V10, which controlled real-time visual effects in the media server,” Harris explained. The media servers were Green Hippo Hippotizers.
Harris and the team also integrated realtime camera FX that were developed in-house by Observatory, running in TouchDesigner.
“The camera effects worked exceptionally well, as we harnessed Nvidia’s background removal tool, which was perfect for capturing Andy at his decks while removing the content playing on the pyramid screen directly behind him in real-time and as such removed video feedback from the signal. Essentially, we took the Alive 1.0 setup and updated it with all the latest technology now available to us.”
Harris referenced Benny L’s Replicant and Wilkinson’s Take You Higher as among his favourite moments of the show. “The content we created for those songs allowed us to utilise Observatory’s own AI video render engine to great effect. While Andy’s remix of Firestarter used TouchDesigner to create a pre-rendered, audio-reactive wall of fire that followed the contours of the production design.”
Ben Annibal highlighted the ROE MC7 LED panels 80six provided for the performance. “MC7 is quick and easy to use so it was the perfect choice.” he said, explaining that this was essential due to the short load-in time. 80six also supplied Evision HD102 Processors, a Barco E2, Blackmagic URSA and Panasonic
PTZ cameras. “It’s great to be involved in this great looking show,” he concluded.
It was clear from all TPi’s conversations with the Andy C team that they were overjoyed to have a chance to bring the DJ’s show into The O2. “We have to give thanks to the brilliant staff at the O2,” commented Pitman. “Numerous times on the show day, the staff at The O2 went out of their way to help us achieve this design and we all really appreciated it.”
Andy C was keen to give kudos to his production team. “The whole team behind the production are second to none. The passion and ability is amazing. I’ve worked with Simon Harris, Dan Hamill and Nigel Sadler on projects for over a decade and their knowledge and passion to bring my vision to life blows me away each and every time,” the DJ added. “The extended team Simon put together – Matt Pitman, Olly Martin and Tim Fawkes – only mirrors what he does.”
With The O2 conquered, the only question remains – what’s next?
“T he attendance proved that there is a large enough audience for Andy to take a show like this elsewhere in the future,” concluded Pitman. “We just need somewhere big enough to handle it!”
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Led by an artist who promotes happiness, inclusivity and positivity, Lizzo’s talented and hard-working crew embody the same values that the singer is so passionate about. TPi catches up with the team on the penultimate night of the UK run at London’s The O2.
Words: Stew Hume
Photos: Alex Waespi and TPi Magazine
Pre-pandemic, there were few artists that had such a rapid rise in popularity as Lizzo with hits such as Juice and Good As Hell dominating the zeitgeist and providing a much-needed breath of fresh air in the somewhat melancholic popular music charts. This popularly didn’t dwindle through the early 2020s in the midst of lockdown, with her new album Special cementing her place among music’s A-listers and scooping the GRAMMY for Record of the Year in the process. There was no doubt that the singer would want to back up this hype with a standout arena tour, but what stood out most when TPi visited the team at the London’s The 02 was not the impressive lighting rig, audio eminence or the classy looking set, but the people working behind the scenes. This was a crew that was passionate about the production, with each individual from all departments clearly elated to be a part of this show.
This was not the first time TPi had crossed paths with Lizzo having covered her academy tour back in 2019 w hen she graced the stages of Manchester’s V ictoria Warehouse and London’s Brixton Academy in the UK.
There’s been a major reshuffle within the camp since those days to create the A-team, which would be able to keep pace with her frankly brutal schedule.
One of the longest serving members of the team is Tour Director, Carlina Gugliotta, w ho’s had a front row seat to the singer’s ascent.
“A round 2019, we had the issue that Lizzo was blowing up in terms of popularity but her tours were only at a certain size,” reflected the TM.
“We had big plans to move the show to arenas but then COVID-19 hit, w hich put a quick end to those plans.”
However, this forced hiatus gave the core team an opportunity to reorganise and build a more solid foundation around Lizzo. “ It gave us
some forced downtime to really think w here we wanted to t ake this show.”
W ith Lizzo’s impressive and seemingly endless touring schedule, any potential new team members would have to be willing to make a large commitment. We really wanted to make sure we formed a team that were not only great at their technical job but can get on with the wider team,” asserted the TM.
Along with the major changing of the guard with many of the touring family, Gugliotta was keen to give a special mention to her righthand woman,” Molly Gordon. “ Molly’s been with the team since I started back in May 2019 and is out with us on this one as the B -Party Tour Manager,” stated Gugliotta explaining Gordon’s essential role within the tour.
From the outset, Lizzo’s management was keen to ensure that the touring family from the dancers, band and crew were equally represented by people of all backgrounds. This mission was well documented with the T V show Lizzo’s Watch Out For The Big Grrrls in w hich the artist went on the hunt for her backing dancers, following the themes of body positivity and rejecting the traditional ex pectation of w hat a backing dancer ‘should’ look like. Not only that, but Lizzo’s entire backing band was also all female.
“When it comes to the diversity and inclusivity backstage, I think we’ve smashed it ,” enthused Gugliotta. From the outset, there was a massive conscious effort not just w hen it came to female inclusion but all diversity. To achieve this we just looked outside the box. Too of ten in this industry we have a habit of going to the same people. That all said, nobody is on this crew just to tick a box – we found the right people for the job.”
ABOUT DAMN TIME
Down the hall from Gugliotta’s office we
found Production Manager Chris Coffie and Production Coordinator Dulce Martin. The tour originally started during the autumn of 2022 in America and at the time was overseen by PM Robert ‘ Hydro’ Mullin, but due to a conflicting tour, Coffie got the call to continue in his place.
“ Most of the suppliers and pieces were in place w hen I took over,” stated Coffie. “ The main difference was that I brought in a new Stage Manager, Geddy Webb, a few new faces in the carpentry department, as well as Dulce.”
The Production Coordinator explained that she and Coffie had wanted to work with one another for some time, but this was the first time they’d been able to make it happen. We met on a Ricky Martin tour years ago and since then he was always trying to bring me out on the road, but either I was on tour or he already had someone in place,” she explained. “ It’s amazing to finally get out with him on this run.” In total, including drivers, there were 57 production crew out on the road with Lizzo.
“It’s not the biggest team in the world but we’ve managed to get our load-in times pretty quick now and we’ve fallen into a nice groove,” commented Coffie.
As for suppliers, the production brought on Solotech to deal with audio, lighting, v ideo, and rigging. It certainly makes it easier w hen you have one supplier providing the majority of your tech,” mused Coffie. “ There will be those shows w here you’re dealing with four different companies worth of rigging. It really makes a difference w hen you have a company that is handling it all.”
It was a relationship that was mutually appreciated as TPi learned w hen also speaking to Solotech US’ Senior V ice President, Business Development, Live Productions, Lee Moro.
“I ’m really proud to work with Lizzo, w ho is so positive and such a truly t alented artist,” he st ated. “ She and her team have been a pleasure
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to work with. Their professionalism and kindness start at the top and run right through their organisation. Our team really enjoyed assisting them and deploying shows that are so much fun to experience.”
Also on the supplier list were TAIT, Strictly FX, Airworks, Stage Truck, Beat The Street, Delico Catering, and The Powershop.
With this being the penultimate night of the UK tour, the production already had its sights set on the upcoming US run, followed by numerous festival appearances in Europe.
“Figuring out what you can do with scheduling when it comes to global transport has certainly been tricky,” stated Coffie. “Kevin from Rock-It Global has been incredible and has spent a long time working out how we can achieve this frankly brutal schedule.”
He explained that later in the year they had the “real challenge” ahead of them of flying from Europe to Australia followed by a leg in Japan, but despite the upcoming challenge, the PM remained confident with the freighting support of Rock-It.
Also aiding the team on the transport was Equinox Travel. “The company seems to have got much bigger throughout the pandemic,” said Martin. “We opted to keep them onboard for the US run as well as the European festival run. They have been amazing to work with.”
Before moving to speak to the other departments, Coffie gave an insight into some of the wider issues affecting the live touring industry. “Getting enough qualified crew seems to be a worldwide issue,” stated the PM.
“Venues in a lot of cities on this run are having to fly in riggers and stagehands as they just don’t have enough numbers. We are
now finding new things in the settlement from venues with hotel charges for local crew.” Due to this, Coffie and the team try to advance as far as ahead as possible to give the venues a chance to amass the required workforce.
GOOD AS HELL
Leading the charge on the design side was Nimblist, which oversaw the Production and Lighting Design for the tour. The basic design of the show was a team effort, with Creative Director Justin Munana, Creative Consultant Jenny Schulder, and Lighting Programmer Steve Mills all involved.
Screen content came from an array of creators including Noisy Head Studio, Dark Matter FX and Bonnie Nichoalds, all of which was overseen by Screens Producer Grant McDonald alongside Screens Programmers Colleen Wittenberg and Nick Fletcher. Creating the projection content, which was mapped onto the singer during the song Naked, was the collective Savages.
Rounding up the creative vision for TPi was President of Nimblist and Creative Director of the tour, Justin Munana. Calling in from his home in LA, he reflected on his experience with the production. “Lizzo truly is a beacon of positivity and during her shows you can feel the energy of the crowd,” he began. “I’ve really enjoyed working with her. She’s such an incredible musician and has very much been a partner in the design process.”
Munana recalled when he and the team at Nimblist were approached to work on the show. “The initial brief we worked from had come from napkin sketches penned by Lizzo herself. Further down the road I got to speak to her
about her vision for the show and proceeded to get a 45-minute debrief from her about her music and what she was trying to say. It made it a much easier path to create something that was aligned with her aims. To have this type of interplay with an artist is so rewarding compared to those who simply say ‘show me something cool.’”
With the team getting the green light at the end of May and rehearsals due to begin in August, there was a rapid turnaround time from inception to creation.
“You have to be so much more conscious of availability when you are designing a set these days due to global shortages of everything from raw materials, technology and even crew,” stated Munana.
“The last thing we want to do is draw something that isn’t even possible to create,” he added, noting that having Solotech as a vendor of multiple departments helped to smooth the process of knowing what would be available. “It’s helpful to have one point of contact rather than dealing with multiple vendors.”
The overall look of the show was centred around a semicircle upstage video wall masked with a sizeable lighting rig. The stage then spread out into the audience with an attached B-stage that allowed Lizzo and her dance troupe to venture out into the crowd.
Talking of the dance troupe, TPi was keen to hear about the change for creating a lighting design for a show that featured so many people on stage with the 12 dancers, four musicians, a DJ and, of course, Lizzo.
“Credit for that has to go to Tanisha Scott,” explained the Designer. “She is absolutely incredible at crafting a show and an overall
PRODUCTION PROFILE 042
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vision – particularly in terms of staging and how everything is laid out.”
With the design set, the visual reins were handed over to Lighting Director, Kat Borderud. Having been brought in early in the design process, Borderud aided Steve Mills in the programming of the show before taking it out on the road.
Borderud explained that Lizzo’s show differed from others within the pop realm due to the spontaneity of her performance. “My favourite part of this show is calling all the spots and following the narrative as well as those audience interaction moments, which are often on the fly,” the Lighting Director revealed. “If halfway through the show she wants to film a TikTok, we have the visual team roll with that and make sure she is lit well.”
What was clear as Lizzo made her way through her back catalogue was how important the audience interaction was for the show. “We often have conversations with her and a big emphasis for her is that the audience knows that they are being seen and we make sure to light to that accordingly.”
It was clear that Borderud was very much locked into the show along with her visual FOH family of disguise programmer Felix Biello and Laser Operator Shane Davis, who were handsdown the most physically active operators TPi had ever seen during a live show.
Solotech supplied an array of fixtures including Robe BMFLs, Mega Pointes, and Spiiders, GLP JDC1s, TMB Solaris Flares, and Martin Sceptron 10s. “The Sceptrons, which we
have on the rear riser at the back of the stage, have been one of the most interesting elements of the show,” explained Borderud. “We’ve been able to put video content through them to create some really interesting looks, but we go back and forth so at times the video team have control of them, then other times I’m running them through my desk.” Talking of her desk, Borderud was operating the show via an MA Lighting grandMA3 in MA2 mode.
BETTER IN COLOR
Carrying on the visual conversation at FOH was Felix Biello. “We have everything running through our disguise gx 2cs,” began the disguise Operator, who explained how he and the team worked with the four media servers during the show. “We have a lot of content that is played on the large rear screen. However, it’s important for me to be at FOH as we have quite a few manual cues during the performance.”
Backstage manning all the camera feeds was Video Director Coleen Wittenberg. Pulling up a seat to chat to her in ‘video world’, she explained that this tour marked a real change of pace for her, having spent a good portion of her career working with rock bands.
“It’s been a really cool experience because it’s much more of an organic performance rather than the set being exactly the same night after night,” she explained. “Not only that, but the camp is very loving and free spirited, which has made the tour a joy.
“We have four manned cameras with two long lenses and two handhelds,” explained Wittenberg, who was originally brought into the production in 2021 to run the media servers
but then after conversations with the then-PM, made the move to the director’s chair. “We then have two robo cams and two lipstick cameras.”
The long lenses were kept on Lizzo for most of the show, which then gave the handhelds more freedom to be a bit more creative with the shots they were capturing. “I’ve been very fortunate on this run to have some amazing crew operating the handhelds,” asserted the Director. “It makes my job much easier.”
She went on to explain the razor-sharp precision that the camera team had developed as they played their own version of Where’s Wally during the show. “Lizzo will often call out people in the audience and it’s our job to then put them on the screen,” explained Wittenberg. “I’ve been amazed how quickly they’ve been able to find people in a crowd of 60,000.”
The main screen at the rear of the stage was a ROE Visual CB5. Meanwhile the IMAG screens used Barco 4K-32 projectors double stacked. This wasn’t the only projection during the show, with the production creating a truly unique effect during the singer’s song, Naked
Utilising four Barco UDX 4K-32 projectors, the video team projection mapped onto Lizzo herself as she stood on the B-Stage.
“That look came right from the mind of Lizzo,” interjected Munana. “She send over images from the cabaret and burlesque hotspot Crazy Horse in Paris where they had projection mapped onto dancers and asked if we could do something similar.”
It was one of highlights of the show due to its ingenuity, with the singer making her way to the B-Stage with four UDX 4K32 projectors projecting on her body and ending with the
044 PRODUCTION PROFILE
message ‘my body, my choice’ emblazoned on her skin, which was met with a large roar from the crowd.
Sections such as this projection mapped moment as well as other aspects such as both the video and lighting departments having control of the Martin Sceptrons on the stage showcased the advantage of both the video and lighting equipment coming from the same supplier.
“The concept of having a one-stop show is great as it means you can utilise one another much better,” stated Wittenberg. “You can collaborate much more easily and there is a real family vibe with everyone working well with one another.”
Munana was also keen to talk about the content that was created for the rear screen. “At Nimblist, we are the Executive Producer of the show and as such we brought in numerous collaborators who created a lot of the content for the show,” he explained.
“One of the things I was particularly proud of was that all the content was shot exclusively for this show and there was nobody shown on the screens that wasn’t also on the stage. It’s a little touch but the fact that the content featured only Lizzo and her dancers really pushed the ensemble nature of the show.”
Overseeing the laser delivery as well as the low fog effect were SFX duo Tiffany Watson and Shane Davis. TPi sat down with Davis in catering a few hours before
show time to talk about some of the highlights of the laser offering for the tour. “In total we have 12 40W lasers on this tour provided by Strictly FX,” began Davis. “We also have the LSG MKII that produces a low fog effect.”
The laser effects were used several times throughout the show although for Davis there was one clear highlight.
“During the song Naked, before we get to the section where we are projection mapping onto her body, we track her movement down to the B-Stage with lasers,” he stated. “I wrote a cue that goes from right over the top of her head and as she walks I follow her down with the fixtures placed on the overhead truss. Then when I fade out the lasers, the projection team takes over the look.”
While he was proud of what he and the team had produced visually, for Davis, it was the mood of the camp that had made this tour so special. “Everyone is working long days while out on tour,” he stated. “You start with your load-in at 8am and by the time it gets to the show, you’re usually already pretty tired. So, to have a FOH environment that is a bit more of a party makes a huge difference. Kat is the main figure at FOH and her energy and dancing throughout the show make it fun – so much so, we joke and often call FOH the C-Stage.”
Away from the bright lights of LED screens at FOH, TPi delved underneath the stage to meet up with Head Carp, Aaron Gilman. With 12 dancers as well as numerous costume changes
for Lizzo during the show, the production was prepared for every eventuality backstage.
“During the show, I’m based right next to the performer lift underneath the upstage,” explained Gilman as he helped TPi navigate the labyrinth underworld. With such a busy stage and elaborate dance routines, Gilman explained some of the extra measures that had been taken to ensure everyone’s safety.
“TAIT decks are generally very solid and just for extra safety have added extra bracing elements,” he stated. “This stage is slightly different due to the multilevel design to create this ‘birthday cake’ effect. Even so, we’ve got our load-in times fairly dialed-in and we’re all set by 2pm on a good day.”
As well as TAIT stage deck, the staging supplier also provided two lifts – one performer lift for Lizzo to make several entrances during the show operated by Gilman with another prop lift that was located further down stage.
Despite Gilman being happy with the stage setup, he was quick to comment on the challenges he and the team had faced with the local crew calls on this run. “It’s been a wild ride since COVID and sometimes you don’t know who you’re going to get from show to show. Some venues have maintained lots of people from pre-2020, but on others you’re getting a lot of people who are very green to this type of work. So, there has been a great deal of teaching and handholding, which can be even trickier when there is also a language barrier.”
With this being the last few shows on the UK run, Gilman was already looking toward to the
046 PRODUCTION PROFILE
Production Manager, Chris Coffie with Production Coordinator, Dulce Martin; Head Carp, Aaron Gilman; Lighting Director, Katherine Borderud; Video Director, Coleen Wittenberg.
next American leg, and he was happy to report that the entire stage down to every last nut and bolt would be also crossing the Atlantic. “The whole set is going straight into a sea container and will be with us in Knoxville for rehearsals,” he said. “It’s great to have the same gear on both sides of the Atlantic.”
Another staging element that could not be ignored was the giant mirror ball that descended at the latter part of the show via a Kinesys automation system. The prop was provided by Airworks and was certainly a set piece that all the crew seemed to enjoy.
Handling the FOH mix for Lizzo was Nicholas Todd. Having been brought into the camp in the autumn of 2020, Todd explained what it was like getting his hands on this dynamic show. “The whole performance is very much a hybrid with 20 channels of playback as well as a four-piece band,” began Todd. “My role is to see to it that these two elements are melded as seamlessly as possible and make sure we replicate her voice as best as possible.”
While outlining his goal for the mix as well as the requests from Lizzo herself, he explained that his mix followed fairly close to the records while “highlighting prominent parts of the tracks so people didn’t lose the essence of the songs.” He continued: “I really want people to come here to experience Lizzo as a performer and be immersed in her music rather than leave the show thinking they just went to a ‘standard
concert’. It’s a dynamic show from high-energy to slower songs then right back up to 100 and the crowd are with her from the beginning. I’ve mixed this show over 50 times now and I still get excited. For me, it’s very much a ‘hand on faders, grooving along to the music’ type show.”
The desk of choice to tackle this challenge was a Solid State Logic SSL 550. “We switched brands for this tour on the advice of our Monitor Engineer, Rico González,” stated the FOH Engineer. After the audio duo made the call that they would go down the SSL route, Todd spent the next two weeks at home getting to grips with the new workflow.
“It’s night and day from the previous desk we were using. These desks have such an amazing heritage and the lineage of the studio consoles has really translated into these live desks. They really are amazing. I probably drive it a little harder than most but this SSL 550 is handling it very well.”
He went onto praise the flexibility the SSL offered while creating his show file for the tour “The desk requires a fair amount of muscle memory but that is more than compensated by the flexibility that allows me to work how I want.”
Along with the desk, there was a decent amount of outboard gear to the right of Todd at FOH. Highlights included an Avalon 737, Tube-Tech CL 1B and Rupert Neve Master Buss Compressor. With two computer screens showing that Todd was also running Waves and UAD, TPi asked him why he still wanted to rely on ‘the real thing’. “I really liked to have
048 PRODUCTION PROFILE
Laser Operator, Shane Davis; disguise Programmer, Felix Biello; FOH Engineer, Nicholas Todd; Monitor Engineer, Rico González.
these elements right there and ready to use –especially as they get quite a lot of use during the show. The Neve for example does such an amazing job taking some of the room out of her mic, especially when she’s on the B-Stage. The CL 1B is amazing and keeps her right there in the mix. Both UAD and Waves does an amazing job recreating these effects, but it’s great to have a handle there to fix any issue rather than flick through various screens on a computer.”
Moving the conversation onto the PA, Todd walked TPi through the L-Acoustics system that had been designed by System Engineer and Solotech’s Audio Crew Chief, Hilario ‘H’ Gonzalez. The system comprised 14 K1 per side with four K2 in the main hang, and 16 flown KS28, eight per side. The side hangs were 16 K2 per side with rear hangs made up of 16 Kara per side. Lastly were 24 KS28 subs on the ground.
“We also have 40 subs in total,” enthused the engineer. “We also have Kara for side hangs and for The O2 we had to add a few more hangs of Kara above FOH for extra coverage for this sold-out show,” he stated.
Todd concluded by praising the work of the Solotech team on the tour. “If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have a show and this run would not have been as great as it’s been,” he said. “They’ve all been solid, making a successful run for Lizzo and for the hundreds of thousands of people who’ve experience the show.”
LET ’EM SAY
Over in ‘monitor world’, TPi caught up with Monitor Engineer Rico González. Having handled monitors for none other than Stevie Wonder, González certainly brought a great deal of pedigree to the audio team. Unable to resist –TPi had to ask some of the lessons he’d learned from mixing Wonder over the years. “Stevie always wants his mix to highlight elements of
the album, which is a tricky thing to do with 12 musicians and 150 inputs – the only way to do this effectively is to really know the songs and understand what to push when.”
González went on to explain how he had taken this mentality straight into the Lizzo tour when he was brought in 20 months ago when a friend who had previously been looking after her monitor mix had to step away from the role.
“This production is three jobs in one,” he chuckled, outlining how he had to handle the mix for Lizzo, her backing band and the dancers on stage. “Thankfully, we had plenty of time in rehearsals to dial in the band and then when they were happy, I could move on to make sure the wedge mix was good for the dancers. Most of my time was spent on Lizzo’s mix.”
González went on to explain that Lizzo’s mix hadn’t really changed from his starting point at the beginning of the campaign. “I started by creating a mix that resembled the records and then added the live elements. I put the whole band through a compressor to keep their levels nice and tight from song to song and make it slightly easier for her to sing in front of.”
Like Todd, González also rode the show quite heavily during the set to capture the excitement of the band and feed in the audience microphones. “I like to keep the audience mics behind the PA and angled quite high, so she gets the room in her ears rather than just the front row.”
The Engineer gave his thoughts on the SSL 550. “I’ve been using the desk since it came out, although back then it was difficult to get it on a rider as there were still not many readily available. Sonically, it is one of the best sounding consoles for live.”
González closed by giving his thoughts on Solotech’s delivery for this show. “It’s awesome having the guys from Solotech out with us on
this run. Not only do they really know their stuff but they’re also great hangs. It makes such a difference when you can also spend time with people for months on end as well as them being incredibly good at their jobs.”
With all TPi’s interviews done for the day, we ventured into The O2 bowl to experience the energy and vibe of the crowd we’d heard so much about. The energy and clear outpouring of love and respect for Lizzo from the London crowd was no surprise due to the niche that the American singer has carved for herself, with nobody else in the industry able to simultaneously bring so much joy while also standing up for the serious issues of the day.
But with the utmost respect to her crowd, the real litmus test for the power of her message was not the response she garnered from the audience but the clear impact she and her music has made on her crew.
Despite a very busy European and UK tour and with a demanding US run on the horizon, there wasn’t a single member of the crew that didn’t exude enthusiasm for their work and seem to want to continue to push what Special could be as a production. For those in the UK that missed the tour, I’d encourage you to try and catch Lizzo on one of her numerous festival appearances this summer.
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ROGER WATERS: THIS IS NOT A DRILL TOUR
Roger Waters’ latest in-the-round production provides audiences with an unforgettable sonic and scenic experience…
Words: Jacob Waite
Photos: Kate Izor
The technical ingenuity of Roger Waters’ latest campaign has perhaps been shrouded by the very thing that has shaped the narrative of his artistic output over the past six decades – politics. With no fears of alienating the room, This Is Not A Drill Tour boldly opens with the public service announcement: “If you’re one of those ‘I love Pink Floyd but I can’t stand Roger’s politics’ people, you might do well to fuck off to the bar right now.” For those who stick around, the reward is a spectacle over five years in the making – an in-theround production that pushes the envelope of storytelling, boasting 650 sq m of LED, surround sound, a floating tunnel of triangular laser beams, as well as a giant inflatable pig and a ‘tumbling sheep’.
Greeting TPi at Amsterdam’s Ziggo Dome was Production Director, Chris Kansy, who gave a rundown of the tour’s suppliers, including: Beat the Street, Clair Global, Eat Your Heart Out, Guardian Barrier Services, Kinetic Lights, Major Tom, Nimbus Dirigibles, Road Ramps, Smoking Boots, Strictly FX, TAIT, Transam Trucking, Universal Pixels, and Upstaging.
“T his isn’t the kind of project where you can be successful alone,” he said of his chosen vendors. “The relationships we’ve cultivated and nurtured over the years are important. Our suppliers are similar to past campaigns, but as technology advances, other vendors get introduced along the way.”
The show features a rectangular central stage with runways extending from each side, creating a cross. Above the stage is a cross-
shaped LED screen which mirrors the stage. The screen presents 12 surfaces, enabling the audience to view video content regardless of their position.
“Roger wanted an in-the-round show with 360° LED, so we enlisted the support of Jeremy Lloyd of Wonder Works and Creative Director, Sean Evans to devise technical drawings and mark up, while TAIT delivered an automated Navigation to manoeuvre the video screen up and down, and build it in rows,” Kansy added. “Universal Pixels also helped us find the lightest video screen possible.”
Weighing in at around 110 tonnes, the production marks the heaviest arena show Kansy has heard of. “For this project to be achievable, the room needs to be able to take the weight and since this monolithic structure is hovering over the band, health and safety is of paramount importance – as are sightlines,” he said, earnestly. “You’ll notice that we’re performing in every major capital city of the world because those venues have the infrastructure to cope with this show.”
With Kansy working on another project for part of the tour, day-to-day production management duties were handed over to Head Carpenter, Niles Anderson. “He was the obvious choice to come in and take care of things while I’m away,” Kansy confirmed.
According to Anderson, the build time varies depending on the market. “We visit places where the crews are strong. In Amsterdam, the local crew is amazing. However, we have run into some issues during other shows where
there is a ‘mixed bag’ of career professionals,” he said, citing the widely reported dearth in experienced venue staff post-pandemic.
A further challenge is the rising costs of vendor supplied equipment. “Once we revived this show, all the expenses went up – by close to 40% in some instances – but our guarantees didn’t rise because we’re still working off the same deal structure pre-pandemic, so our profit margins went way down.
“However, in true Roger Waters fashion, he cares more about making this show than making money. We never go out with the intention of losing money, and we don’t, but Roger’s more concerned about the audience’s experience and how his story is told rather than simply making money,” Kansy explained.
“Transportation is probably the most expensive thing we do in this industry. The only thing you can do to offset that is to reduce equipment or personnel and we have done neither to stay true to Roger’s vision.”
Logistical headaches aside, the act of touring the world with the brains behind some of the most critically acclaimed music of all time is not lost on Kansy. “I could listen to The Dark Side of the Moon every day for the rest of my life; the band performs the entire side two in an album sequence during the second half of this show and it never fails to make the hairs on my arms stand up.”
‘EVERY TRACK TELLS A NEW STORY’
The video content evolves constantly in line with the dynamic and ever-changing nature
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of the news cycle and global politics. Having collaborated with the team on Us + Them Tour, Wonder Works helped transform the creative vision into something feasible and tourable.
“During the creative process with Sean Evans, it was decided to make the LED in a cross shape which meets in the middle and provides images for all surfaces that regardless of where you are in the venue, you can view a screen surface,” Production Designer, Jeremy Lloyd of Wonder Works, explained.
“T his also allows us to use each surface as a separate screen or tie them together as one screen across the L shape. There is also video on the outer ends of the cross, either in black or matching content.”
With a 650 sq m LED screen, audio and lighting all suspended from the roof, the rig required a lot of advance planning. “The first task when designing a show of this magnitude is carrying out a detailed weight study. Not only is the LED screen particularly large, but as an in-the-round show, there is three times as much audio, lighting and video, compared to an end-on show,” Lloyd commented.
“Our biggest challenge was designing a system that would work across every venue. The first thing we did before we agreed that this was achievable was perform studies on the rigging. There are several large spreader trusses that support the LED; these help to spread load into the venue roof and span under scoreboards in the States. Dave ‘Dash’ Rowe
took our initial feasibility studies and developed them into a detailed working system.”
While it sits at around 110 tonnes, the load was distributed evenly. “The challenge is dealing with that rigging load, even down to selecting the LED panels, so the Leyard CLM6 screen, which was proposed by Phil Mercer at Universal Pixels, is light, which is great from a rigging perspective but it’s also flexible,” Lloyd said, adding that another challenge was getting the screen flat without the added weight of touring frames.
For Video Director, Icarus Wilson-Wright, it was key to map the content and cameras in a way that is aesthetically pleasing, without compromising the creative vision while also functioning to be able to give every audience member a view of the action.
“T his show is beautifully choreographed. The content is carefully considered, and the cameras are subordinate to that vision. This is not a classic IMAG show. The content is evolving, and everything in this show is under revision, which makes for a unique production. It keeps you on your toes and, ultimately, the show is authentic. There’s a lot of finessing from show to show to make it the best possible,” he explained.
Leyard CLM6 LED panels were driven by Colorlight Z6 Pro 4K processing, which was fed by a Barco E2 system with show content and camera inputs from four disguise gx 2c media servers. “It’s a very video-centric show;
every track tells a new story,” Video Crew Chief, Nathan ‘Barney’ Barnier said, remarking on the LED screen of choice. “I don’t think there is anything quite as light as this on the market.”
Universal Pixels Commercial Director, Phil Mercer commented: “We undertook extensive, market-wide research and Leyard CLM6 was the highest resolution tile at 13kg per sq m. The fact that we are also able to display the show content in 10-Bit is a great bonus, visually.”
As well as the screens and servers, UP provided a camera package including a 4K 2ME Ross Carbonite Ultra vision mixer with five Sony HDC4300s (four XJ90 lenses and one HJ14), and two Panasonic AWUE150KPJ PTZ cameras with Ereca Topas 4K Optical transmission modules on custom automated masts by Kinetic Lights. Finally, UP provided a 10-station custom-built backline monitoring package and 14 crew members.
“T his show generates energy and polarises the audience,” Wilson-Wright stated. “I love how the show looks. Working with Sean [Evans] to map it out was a fascinating insight and it has been a pleasure to play a part in the process.”
‘A ROLLING STONE GATHERS NO MOSS’
Before production rehearsals in Penn State, Pennsylvania, Wilson-Wright and Lighting Designer, Pryderi Baskerville of Colour Black Lighting programmed the bulk of the visuals at Roger Waters’ New York studio. “This show is an extension of Roger’s 50 years of work – people,
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humanity, and the connection to others,” Baskerville commented.
The wider creative team decided to bury lights within the screen to create a clean look. “Lighting and video have to coexist on this show,” Baskerville said. “The biggest light source in the room is the LED screens, so lighting sits sympathetically within that. Live footage is also dispersed within video content, so lighting plays a key role in shaping the narrative and keeping Roger and the band well lit,” he noted. When it c ame to selecting lighting fi xtures, weight and space played a factor in the decision making. “We needed light, punchy and reliable fixtures,” B askerville s aid, referencing t he deployment of ‘workhorse’ Robe Spiider fix tures, which weigh around 13kg a piece. The lighting team also harnessed Track-iT, Follow-Me’s new tracking system, which uses tags to identify its lighting target as opposed to mouse control.
“I was keen for the whole rig to be LED for a couple of reasons – we’re on the road for a long time and arc lamps degrade as they get towards 1,000 hours onwards,” Baskerville explained. “With an LED engine, you don’t have that issue, and t hose t ypes of fi xtures only draw a lot of power when they’re operational.”
ACME SOLAR IMPULSE units were chosen as t he show’s primary profile. “ We also have some arc sources in MegaPointes and Vari-Lite VL6000s for t he helicopter effect at t he top of t he show, but the rest is all LED – Spiiders, Martin MAC Auras and VDO Sceptrons.”
The pig and tumbling sheep were illuminated by four Robe FORTE fi xtures. TMB Solaris Flares also doubled as effect and house lights. “At a
certain point when the venue is happy, they can switch off t heir house lights and we c an gradually fade into the show in a considered manner to create the illusion of a theatrical space in an arena setting,” Baskerville said. Red, white, and black made up the bulk of the colour palette, other than the all-green track, Money
With the show’s content evolving constantly, Baskerville relished the ‘rolling stone gathers no moss’ approach. “It’s good to keep everything fresh and you’d expect nothing less from an artist of Roger’s calibre who has been at the forefront of changing venues that were built for sporting events into live theatrical occasions, sometimes all in the same day.”
The show was programmed to timecode with a four-frame offset. For control, B askerville selected two full size MA Lighting grandMA3 consoles, operating MA2 software with four NPUs. The Follow-Me tracking system was housed at FOH with NPUs and two distripalysers to distribute timecode.
A Riedel Communications system ensured all departments could liaise. Baskerville also used an in-line audio mixer to activate certain cues in the show and used a mix and talkback function to communicate with Waters, if required.
“A lthough I’m the most visible part of the lighting department, nothing happens without the expertise of the crew,” Baskerville said, praising the support of the crew and Upstaging. “Their kit is always great and they provide us with time to experiment in rehearsals before we hit the road.”
Case in point, the team upgraded its foggers to two MDG theONE systems for European and
UK run with two Martin by Harman AF1 fans chosen to power the atmospherics. “We have a maintenance and rotation system with the lights, especially as the ones that follow Roger and keep the band lit need to be bang on,” added Lighting Crew Chief, Graham ‘DB’ Jelly.
Baskerville referenced act 2 of The Dark Side of the Moon and the opening track after the intermission, In the Flesh, w hen t he fl ags drop and the pig emerges, as among his favourite moments. “Sheep is also a great way to end the first act,” he remarked, going on to describe t he unique nature of the task at hand.
“I ’m from a small town in mid-Wales and here I am travelling the world with one of my favourite artists and someone who has such an eclectic and important body of work – of course every day is golden. The minute I become blasé about it, is probably t he t ime to scuttle off and open a clotted cream tea shop in Devon or write my memoirs,” he joked.
DB concluded: “It has been a privilege to tour with Roger Waters and his team. It feels like a landmark moment from a professional point of view, working with people at the top of their game. It’s t aken us four or fi ve load-ins to get t he dance right, but now we’re a well-oiled machine.”
As well as lighting and video, the show featured lasers that formed giant triangles surrounding the length of the LED above the stage. “This package is intricate in terms of execution and t he t ype of effect we are creating,” said Eric Baum, Laser Crew Chief and Operator, who was a part of Roger Waters’ Us + Them Tour. A total of 16 towers rise from the audience and around the stage at the same
058 PRODUCTION PROFILE
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height each night to be able to emit the laser beams from the 24W Arctos units to create a triangle reminiscent of The Dark Side of The Moon. This effect is replicated a handful of times to create what the crew affectionately refer to as a ‘laser tunnel’.
The setup is controlled by Pangolin BEYOND software with an MA Lighting dot2 used for DMX transmission for the towers to achieve an adequate height. Four water-based Master FX Mystic hazers are also triggered from Baum’s dot2 console to help boost the haze levels during the effect.
The towers slowly rise out of their positions around the stage and in the audience during Brain Damage. The lasers then spring to life on the downbeat of Eclipse. On the opening chords of the next song, the lasers snap from white to blue.
“Even though there aren’t any dynamic changes in the lasers during songs like you would see on most shows, the fact that the lasers physically surround the screen with the audience in the background of every laser shot is what makes this effect so impressive. There’s very little room for error in this effect. I think this is what makes it so interesting for me.”
With extensive laser legislation and inspections in Europe, which the Strictly FX offices take care of well in advance, by the time Baum and his team are finished setting up there was just the small job of meeting with Laser Safety Officers and venue inspectors to demonstrate the effects and go through a
final approval process. Baum was joined by Vince ‘Travelling Shop Guy’ Lopez and Laser Technicians, Kyle Omar and Nathan Miller.
“T his is really a great team to work with,” he continued. “The moment when everything drops out and lasers appear, the audience is overwhelmed, and that is a personal highlight. This minimalist style showing you can make such an impact is a gamechanger.”
‘4D FLYING AND AN MP 40 SCHMEISSER’
Sean Jacobs has been the brains and brawn behind Roger Waters’ inflatables for almost two decades. Day to day he is a set carpenter, taking the lead on the building stage of around six crew and local labour.
Depending on the building, this is typically achieved at 2pm each show day, after which he begins his second job – inflatables. This involves inflating the pig and sheep, charging their batteries, and making sure all the motors are working before testing.
With an in-the-round show, there is very little wiggle room to hide the inflatables. “At some venues we’ve had to take the side motors off the pig and turn the whole thing on its side, which is difficult. Also, when we’re backstage and the temperature conditions are stable, as soon as we release the inflatables on the show floor – the temperature rises due to body heat, so the balloons can expand.
“Luckily, the sheep is flexible and can take some stretch, but the pig is very restrictive, so the manufacturer, Nimbus Dirigibles, did
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Video Director, Icarus Wilson-Wright; Lighting Designer, Pryderi Baskerville; Laser Crew Chief and Operator, Eric Baum; FOH Engineer, Sean Sullivan with System Engineer, Wayne Hall.
something novel, and built in a little pressure sensor, which I can use to gauge whether it is safe to deploy them. I can also open a release valve to account for climate and wind conditions,” Jacobs explained.
“T he sheep’s metre of mass sits in the middle, so it’s infinitely agile. When the sheep is floating around freely like the spaceman from The Dark Side of The Moon Tour, I can control the sheep to manoeuvre across the venue,” Jacobs said, referring to this practice as ‘4D flying’. “The pig, however, is more of a traditional blimp, which is weighted on the bottom. They’re both a lot of fun to fly.”
Jacobs also oversaw a capturing system, which allowed the tour to recycle used helium. “We recompress helium to high pressure back into cylinders from the inflatables, as helium is in short supply and extremely costly,” he noted. “There are very few custom parts when it comes to staging with this production – they are mostly off-the-shelf products, in an effort to be more sustainable.”
Having provided oxy-propane innovations to several live shows, Alastair Wray of Smoking Boots – who is aptly based in Herefordshire, within spitting distance of The Special Air Service’s Stirling Lanes headquarters – was enlisted by the camp to create a prop MP 40,
which Roger Waters fires into the audience at the end of the track, In The Flesh. In order for the ‘gag’ to work, an umbilical cord tracks down to the side of the stage where there is a box containing the gas system; alongside that is a control box with a kill switch, which is put into position as the lights are dimmed, flags roll from atop of the LED, and Waters enters the stage donning military uniform. Simultaneously, David Hall walks by the side of the stage with the prop in a hold-all, and then at the right time, passes it up to the artist on stage. Once the prop is triggered, it is handed back over to Hall.
“T here is a temperature sensor built-in, so if the temperature goes above a certain threshold, it starts to change colour, and if it reaches beyond that, it shuts down,” he explained. “It’s the perfect mixture of oxygen and propane, which in any case would be used for brazing steel, so it gets hot,” Wray reported. “The challenge was to provide the performance required, without it overheating and then reminding the crew not to pick it up by the barrel afterwards.”
Each prop takes around a week to create. “As well as fitting in a circuit board, a gas system has to be built as a separate exercise. Some of the bought-in components, such as microprocessors and transistors have
suddenly proved very hard to get hold of but thankfully, I managed to find some,” he said, citing the supply chain issues plaguing most sectors post-pandemic. According to Wray, Waters specifically wanted something modelled off an MP 40 Schmeisser.
“T he barrels had to be specially made, so I enlisted the support of a local metalworks firm to create the barrels. The gas connectors then had to be from stock, and there were all sorts of factors which were new,” Wray said, recalling the process. “I also supplied the production with a muffler, which was originally a six inch firework mortar made from thick cardboard filled with ceramic fibre and various other elements. There is a hole at one end which you can put the barrel into fire while holding a conversation next to it, which was essential to test the prop backstage.”
‘A FUN SHOW TO MIX’
“Pink Floyd is renowned for surround sound and 3D effects, so we are continuing that tradition,” FOH Engineer, Sean Sullivan began. “All the microphones are directly in the middle and so are the musicians, so my greatest challenge has been eliminating the bleed from the backside of the PA, and this system is fantastic at that. There is also a lot of weight in this show,
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so we had to be conscious of our system of choice and KSL is great at covering our desired remit with a lighter footprint.”
The d&b audiotechnik PA system featured KSL on the mains, J Series subs, and SL Series subs on the floor along with T/V Series fills. Surround sound was achieved by V Series with wireless drive via Wisycom MTK952-N-2W0 transmitters and MRK960 receivers.
Wayne Hall, who has toured extensively with Sullivan, assumed the role of System Engineer. He drew and modified the rig to fit each venue using ArrayCalc. The system is then put through ArrayProcessing, aside from the surround sound hangs, which are flown.
“We’re a team, and Roger’s shows are so elaborate, it is integral that we collaborate with everybody to get our cables in line. The build is done in stages when the floor is available to rig the speakers, get them up and out of everybody’s way,” he commented.
Audio Crew Chief, Jeffrey Sterns, commented: “It’s nice to see the ins and outs as Crew Chief, having been a PA Rigger on the Us + Them Tour. There are around 11 members of the audio team including mixers, with a few people from the UK and Eighth Day Sound. Now we are able to source whatever the client wants, globally,” he said, highlighting that Clair Global’s acquisition of Eighth Day
has proved beneficial for this tour. “This was a team effort, with collaboration among several Clair Global brands, including Clair Global, Eighth Day Sound, Skan PA, and Britannia Row Productions. The control group, main PA, and surround PA electronics were deployed from the US, and the bulk of the d&b boxes came out of Skan in the UK. We transferred some gear from AudioRent Clair in Switzerland into the UK and even pulled some equipment from JPJ Audio in Australia,” Clair Global’s Britt Natale said, noting the support of Account Handler Andy Morrison.
“To coordinate this global effort, there were countless calls and messages between operations personnel at multiple locations to schedule and keep track of freights and gear moves, which allowed the package to come together seamlessly.”
The drum kit was captured by a mixture of Heil Sound and DPA Microphones. Roger Waters’ vocal microphone came in the shape of a Shure SM58 microphone, while backing vocalists and band members used Sennheiser MM 435s and guitars used isolation cabinets.
“W ith everything hidden on stage, you can use open, airy, condenser microphones,” Sullivan pointed out, adding that some instruments were mic’d with a mixture of Shure SM57, Lauten Audio LS-308, AKG C414, and
Audio-Technica ATM25 microphones. “One of the reasons Roger uses an SM58 is because not only has he used it for the most of his career, but the mic also makes it less hostile when he is performing in front of the PA.”
Sullivan mixed the show on his ‘gucci-fied’ Avid S6L 32D with a S6L 16C as a backup, if required. “This is my go-to console. There’s a couple of Waves servers with every model of plug-in you can get for these consoles and use the majority of them,” he said, modestly attributing the success of the mix down to the accomplished musicians on stage, making the job easy for the mixers.
Monitor Engineer, Pasi Hara inherited his setup from a prior engineer. JH Audio Roxannes and Sharonas were the IEMs of choice for the artists. “He has a good overall mix with his instruments on top,” Hara said, explaining Waters’ mix. “As an accomplished musician, he knows what he needs and can express that well, so does the band, who are incredibly professional to work with.”
Hara mixed on a DiGiCo SD7 Quantum with outboard including Bricasti M7 stereo reverb processors, compressors, and Eventide Eclipse processors with multitrack recording, as well as a Mission Control Li.LAC UV-C microphone disinfection system. A drum sub was situated on stage with multiple vocal
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microphones and positions for the artist to perform and few moving instruments on wireless. The only other movement on stage was that of the drum kit, which rotated halfway following the intermission.
“It’s been interesting to jump in at the deep end. It’s never ideal but sometimes it is necessary,” Hara stated. “I’ve received excellent help and support from Clair Global and Dustin in particular with the transition.”
Dustin Lewis, Monitor and RF Technician, oversaw the deployment of Shure Axient Digital Dual and Quad receivers, ADX1 ShowLink bodypack transmitters and ADX2FD Frequency Diversity ShowLink handheld transmitters. “This show is definitely a learning ex perience – especially having Pasi step in midway, but he’s given me freedom to oversee and take the lead on RF,” Lewis commented. “This is like no other gig I’ve done before. With it being in the round, there are multiple antennas on different corners of t he stage, but it has wor ked flawlessly.”
Reflecting on t he ballet of t he load in and out with t he support of local staff, Kansy underlined the importance of sector-wide collaboration. “There’s nobody here that could do this show
alone,” he said, adding that as a grizzled veteran of the industry, he is focused on nurturing the next generation and making touring productions more sustainable.
“It’s everybody’s responsibility to act more sustainably in this industry and there are ways we can improve that with recyclables, routing a tour more efficiently or t rying to use more offthe-shelf equipment,” he stated, fervently. “The hope is that technology will catch up and we’ll have more solutions and the infrastructure to offset our c arbon footprint.”
064 vari-lite_neo-x_concert_theatre_ad_TPi_hpl_0423.indd 1 17/04/2023 13:23:02
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DERMOT KENNEDY: THE SONDER TOUR
Irish singer-songwriter embarks on his biggest campaign yet with a pragmatic production team tasked with translating his storytelling to the masses.
Words: Jacob Waite
Photos: Joe Okpako and Luke Dyson
Sonder, the name of Dermot Kennedy’s latest campaign, is the realisation that everybody around you is living a life just as complex as yours. This concept is inherently meta for a journalist with no technical background interviewing roadies about technology. Answers are often met with further questions, yet as a spectator, it is difficult to comprehend the complexities of assembling a production as vibrant as The Sonder Tour unless you spend the day with those involved.
Production Manager, AJ Sutherland – who oversaw the advancement and logistics with support from Production Coordinator, Carol Evans and Backstage Assistant, Crystal Feng –welcomed TPi to the final date of the European campaign at London’s The O2 to shed some light on proceedings.
The vendors included 4Wall Entertainment, Beat The Street, Christie Lites, Fly By Nite, Ox Event House, Popcorn Catering and Solotech. “There are a lot of longstanding suppliers involved. Likewise, most members of this camp have toured with Dermot for a while, which is beneficial as the tight-knit dynamic of this camp is something we look to maintain,” he began.
“We are touring globally without time for production days between legs, so having suppliers that we can work with across the board is ideal,” Sutherland said, citing the vendors’ ability to duplicate video equipment on both sides of the Atlantic.
“The account handlers understand our requirements and nuances of this production, which ensures that we can transition smoothly into international touring.”
Despite assembling a global support network, Sutherland believes the pricing of production remains a challenge. “Budgeting a tour has become more time and labour intensive,” he said, explaining how he used to be able to accurately estimate how much it would cost for transport, however, nowadays, all bets are off. “You can’t proceed until you’ve got a quote and if you don’t act decisively, the next best option may be more expensive.”
Having planned and routed the tour postpandemic, some off days turned into show days and further dates were added in Europe.
“There’s pressure to do every show possible to make ends meet, which piles pressure on the crew. Tours are cancelled if they are not worthwhile financially, so my role is making sure this production is not only viable but sustainable for the crew,” Sutherland said, growing animated on the subject of crew welfare. “I’m passionate about making sure the next generation of talent has the opportunities and support they need to succeed,” he added, having provided walkthroughs for 3T and University of Westminster alumni.
“It’s up to us to equip people with the skills, nurture and develop them. It pays dividends because that approach has provided us with valuable members of our team.”
‘CONNECTING WITH THE AUDIENCE’
“Dermot’s music has huge choruses, strong melodies and direct and evocative lyrics, so it hasn’t been a challenge to translate his music to a larger stage,” commented Creative Producer, Peter Abbott.
“The show starts out dark and minimal and bursts into colour and joy by the end, which is what I perceive Dermot’s music to be about.”
Abbott collaborated with Creative Director, Richard Sloane, who envisioned the overall campaign. “This show opens introspectively, with the idea of being isolated in a crowd.
Dermot has references to places like New York, so we also play on that in the first act,” Abbott said, mentioning the sense of ‘exile and selfdiscovery’ as the show reaches its midpoint before blossoming into colour. “Previous campaigns have been fairly monochrome or
softer in their colour palette. Without Fear is the emotional fulcrum of the show, taking us to a place of darkness before the show bursts into vivid, saturated colour.”
With a variety of venue sizes on the tour, the design parameters revolved around creating a flexible central environment for Kennedy on stage, with the artist flanked by left and right IMAG screens and a central video back wall in portrait configuration, in addition to a stage ramp and thrust.
“I like broken video, particularly the depth between video walls; the reflective surface of the ramp puts Dermot within the environment and there is something poetic and energetic about having an image of someone, which is reflected imperfectly underneath them,” Abbott explained, citing the concept of sonder as a reference point.
“We were conscious about implementing something that can connect Dermot with his audience physically and intellectually. From a physical standpoint, we wanted to add height, so everyone in the room has a perfect view.”
Ox Event House created the centre stage catwalk and ramp structure along with other set elements, which were assembled each show day by Set Carpenter, Jake Grogan.
“The ramp and catwalk is covered in black high-gloss marley to the front of the screen, which creates an eye-catching look as the images reflect onto the high-shine flooring down the centre of the stage,” commented Ox Event House Technical Director, Ben Levitt.
During the design and previsualisation stages of the show, Lighting and Production
Designer, Owen ‘OPS’ Pritchard-Smith of Double Duck Design built the lighting, video and scenic elements in Capture, regularly collaborating by sharing his screen via Zoom with Abbott. “We provide Dermot with the space to perform in and a platform to come alive,” Pritchard-Smith said.
“Dermot has embraced the ramp, it allows him to fill the stage from a prominent position, playing with different positions and levels. The way that it also thrusts Dermot out towards the audience to allow for a closer connection. Lighting frames the show and translates the energy of his performance out into the room with colour and effects.”
Abbott theorised on the role of lighting. “We want Dermot to be underexposed so you’re drawn in, which is what his music portrays,” he noted. “What Owen also offers is scale – we can fill the room with big beam lights, however, architecturally, we’re limited without custom fabrication, other than the ramp. So, we rely on the linear fixtures to provide us with shape, structure and a mood that reflects the softness and intensity of his lyrics juxtaposed with something which is hard and straight.
“Dermot is photogenic, so we have always elevated his stage position,” Abbott said, citing the support of Videographer, Andrew Rose in capturing the artist submerged in Owen’s lighting. “He’s very physical on stage, so what lighting does is shape Dermot with a strong silhouette or stylised side or backlight.”
Martin MAC Ultras were the LD’s moving heads of choice on the rig. “They’re really good fixtures,” he said. “They are there to provide
068 PRODUCTION PROFILE
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the show with scale. I mainly hold off on them during the first half to provide intimacy, utilising them later to add more expansive beam looks.”
ACME Lighting PIXEL LINE IP linear fixtures were used for colour gradients, shaping and framing the stage with “big colour punches and strobe looks”. While GLP JDC1 units housed on the upstage edge provided colour wash auras, FR10s were used on the central automation beam, lighting the artist, with additional fixtures providing toplight for the band and air effects. “I choose FR10s because of the individual zoom function alongside them being great camera candy,” he remarked.
Additional GLP impression X4 Bars were harnessed for side and foot light along the thrust, as well as Robe RoboSpots providing key and backlight. The lighting was powered by an MA Lighting grandMA3 full size, in MA2 mode, programmed by Nikita Jakovlev.
With video doubling as a lightsource, Pritchard-Smith described the symphony of the two departments. “Sometimes video is used to provide colour, gradient and effects to complement the lighting. For the track, Kiss Me, we have the same colourways on the video as the PIXEL LINE IPs – we send video to the pixels via an ArtNet merge in the MA, so disguise solo media servers drive the lighting for that track, which is a fantastic integration of video and lighting and a nice way of tying those two visual departments together. Joe Lott of Quantum
Creative, who programmed the video, was instrumental in making that possible.”
Summing up some of his favourite aspects of the design, Abbott singled out Young & Free. “It’s an older track we’ve brought Sonder energy to with words on the video screen and abstract references – it’s wide, clean, and has moments in camera which look amazing when the perspective shifts and the ramp works perfectly with it.”
Pritchard-Smith cited Blossom at the top of the show, as well as An Evening I Will Not Forget and Lost as among his favourites. “I love linear and structural looks. The beam, colours, content and reflections tie together coherently in a very theatrical way,” he said, reflecting on the tour. “Being able to put this show together in Paris’ Bataclan and Glasgow’s OVO Hydro backto-back was quite an achievement.”
Lighting Technician, Jo Sparham Ferrier, who was among the crew assembling the rig and operating the followspots during showtime, commented: “We get quicker every day. The process also gets cleaner, as you develop a routine and understand each other’s workflows. At the Bataclan, we rigged our RoboSpots and FR10s on the house truss because there simply wasn’t any room, but it’s part of the job, and it resulted in a great show. In some ways, I find those difficult days more rewarding.”
The crew included Dimmer Technician, Tom Forward and Lighting Technician, Matthew
‘Ultra’ Greenman. Lighting Crew Chief, Dave Moorcroft, who has been involved in Dermot’s live shows since 2019, added: “As the venue scale increases, so does the number of crew, allowing us to get more efficient along the way. The support of Christie, particularly in the US, has been useful over the past few campaigns.”
‘ARCHITECTURE OUTSIDE OF ROCK ’N’ ROLL TOURING’
Production rehearsals took place at Fly By Nite. “It was a pleasure to welcome the crew to the studio,” said Fly By Nite’s Scottie Sanderson. “Their attitude was relaxed, yet consummately professional. We even managed to collect our fourth TPi Award during their residency, before seeing them safely out of the door!”
Af ter the first 10 shows, Automation Engineer Giulio Ligorio joined the team in Frankfurt to tour venues large enough to take the load of Kinesys. There were three automated items within Pritchard-Smith’s design – symmetrical lighting trusses left and right and a central ‘beam’, which was suspended above the ramp.
The main manoeuvre was a horizontal 10° to 15° tilt to a vertical position of 75°. “As the beam is so long, we have installed a tracking system, otherwise there would be too much tow on the chains,” Ligorio explained. According to Abbott, automation provided the creative team with the ability to create a multitude of looks and
PRODUCTION PROFILE 070
perspectives with physical gestures such as shuttering off sections of the stage, bringing in the automated trusses to help frame the artist on the piano at the end of the thrust during the track, Blossom
“We close the stage off and make it look intimate. When we bring the truss into a vertical position, it provides a striking silhouette,” Abbott explained. “Automation has allowed us to create a big physical gesture, which is outside of what you might expect to see and creates beautiful photographs because of the angle of the light from anywhere in the room.”
Other than the tracking truss, the manoeuvre is relatively simple. “We embrace the industrial aesthetic of bare rigging and frankly, within the venue variants and budget parameters we were set, we didn’t really have the choice to custom fabricate moving fixtures,” Abbott stated. “With one simple movement we can create a talking point and an architecture that sits a little outside of rock ’n’ roll touring.”
The wider automation rig featured six elevation one-tonne motors and a LITEC DYNAMIC STACK TRACKS 52 tracking system. “Christie has been great. Any last-minute addition and or problem has been accounted for,” he said, praising the lighting and rigging supplier. “I think they are the best employers in
the UK.” Ligorio harnessed the latest version of Kinesys Vector software, as well as Mentor Series 3 and 4 Safety Controller Lines.
“As most of the cues are between songs in the dark, I can’t really see much so Rigger, Jamie Moore is my stage left spotter with a deadman handle to stop the move or communicate over comms if there is an issue,” Ligorio commented.
Drum Technician, Steve Muncaster; Guitar Technician, Joe Grouse; and Playback Technician, Toby Burrow handled backline. “The band are well behaved on stage and the backline are aware of where they can and can’t move,” Ligorio said. “Stage Manager, Rory Clarke also has a timesheet of manoeuvres, to communicate the band and crew.”
‘A PROFOUND EXPERIENCE’
Abbott believes the role of video was storytelling and mood setting. “The content reflects the different moods Dermot expresses through his music. There are no gimmicks or gags – it’s just beautiful pieces of content colourised to accentuate and reflect specific parts of the music,” he said, praising the involvement of Lead Content Creator and Producer, James Lockey, who generated most of the video content along with Contributing
Creatives, Daisy Finetto, Cameron Butterfield and Katy Anne Smith.
Video content came in the shape of custom 3D elements, environmental footage and 3D line art content as well as TouchDesigner patches automated to follow the music, and modulate colour wheels to reflect the mood of each song. “It’s quite abstract and deliberately filmic, however, there are some references to sonder as a concept,” Abbott noted.
“This show was designed to work without IMAG, so there’s lots of content with Dermot on the screens,” Video Engineer, Glen Leyser said, having inherited the responsibility of programming and directing the show each night from Lott.
Leyser’s setup included two disguise solos, a main and a backup. All four camera feeds were cut using OSCMachineControl. The media servers helped manipulate content in programming and overlaid cameras.
“We used to have cameras pointed at the audience for the last song but with reduced numbers of cameras on this, we take parts of the picture instead and make it look like there are more cameras by layering them on top of each other. When the audience sees themselves on the screen at the end it’s a very unifying experience.” LED was made up of ROE
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Visual CB5 MKII – a new version of CB5 which allows technicians to change IMS and LED module shaders from the back to make 10-Bit simpler – housed in T4 touring frames with Brompton Technology processing. “You can’t go wrong with ROE,” Video Crew Chief, Mike Bourner remarked.
Despite having a background in lighting, Tour Technician, Laura Pope joined Bourner; Camera Operators, Dan Lloyd; Camera Operator and LED Technician, Fergus Noble and Rack Engineer, Stuart Rowsell in ‘video world’.
“I ’ve learned a lot, made mistakes, and now I can branch out and use my newfound video skills,” Pope said, reflecting on a ‘baptism of fire’ of a two-person video crew in Europe. “Trying to get the best show possible out of less-thanideal venues, without the audience realising, is a testament to the team’s creative vision.”
Pope referenced the deep oranges and ambers of Outnumbered through to the big blue and white washes of Moments Passed as among her highlights of the set. “Dermot is an engaging performer and knows how to command certain emotions from crowds,” she said, citing the track, Rome, where he asks the audiences to think of a memory, while bathed
in a sea of mobile phone torches. “It’s a unifying moment. The transition from Moments Passed into Glory, was half a day of experimentation in rehearsals, but it’s one of my favourite looks.”
‘WORKING WITH YOUR MATE DOESN’T HAPPEN OFTEN’ “Dermot is the hardest working person I’ve ever met, so it’s been a pleasure to play a small part in his evolution as an artist over the past six years, and we have been lucky in that the newer members of the crew fit the ethos and family dynamic of this camp,” FOH Engineer, Will Donbavand commented, reflecting on the journey of going from gainsharing two DiGiCo SD11 consoles on one rack to mixing in soldout arenas.
Audio Crew Chief and System Engineer, Richard Kemp, concurred. “As a third-party supplier, I can echo that,” he said. “It’s a very welcoming camp, there’s a tight-knit nurturing nature about this team.”
The PA of choice was an L-Acoustics K1 and K2 with flown subwoofers and a plethora of fills. A DirectOut Technologies PRODIGY.MP was used for martrixing consoles, which fed an L-Acoustics P1 processor. The O2 marked
the tour’s biggest PA rig to date. “Everything scales really well on this tour. In Europe, we took a slightly smaller system built up around K1 and K2; we also had K3 for side hangs – it was the first time I’d used that box and I was pleasantly surprised with its output,” said Kemp.
“Regardless of the size of venue, the tools that L-Acoustics give you with processing means we can scale the system electronically and deliver consistent results,” Kemp added, noting the support of PA Technicians, Jake Gardner and Morgan Beecher.
At FOH, Donbavand mixed on a DiGiCo Quantum 5. “I’ve been a DiGiCo user since 2018, and I prefer the workflow of the Quantum 5 layout, and the added features of the Quantum engine. It sounds better and the low end feels tighter. The workflow of DiGiCo is so ingrained, the ability to customise the layout to anything I want as the show develops is ideal.”
For outboard, he harnessed a Rupert Neve Designs 5045 Primary Source Enhancer to ‘clear up’ vocals on stage as well as a UAD-2 Live Rack for additional processing. “Without Fear is my favourite song to mix night after night. I love its emphatic emotional build and release, while Innocence and Sadness is a gritty
072 PRODUCTION PROFILE
and emotionally dynamic song, and of all the songs, that’s the one I ride the most in line with his dynamic vocal range.”
Donbavand was overjoyed to see the show grow to this level. “Kempy makes me sound better every day. The step up can be hard because arenas often don’t sound great, but it’s been a really pleasant experience and Dermot is really owning it,” he enthused.
Like Donbavand, Monitor Engineer, Simon Lawson mixed on a DiGiCo Quantum 5. “The Quantum is a much improved console – the low end is more defined in the in-ears, on first listen I could even hear the quality of the talkback mics had improved.”
Lawson highlighted his use of the multi band compressor, Chilli 6. “It gives me a level of control over the tone and dynamics of his vocal without taking away from the fundamental performance, it’s a great tool for monitors.”
The whole band used Cosmic Ears CE6B in-ear monitors driven by Shure PSM1000s with PR10+ packs. “Mike Bufton at Cosmic has been very kind to us, he even came down to our Manchester show and performed ear health checks for everyone that wanted one.”
Lawson referred to Dermot’s in-ear mix as ‘what you might expect for a vocalist’. “There’s lots of vocal and reverb.” He used two reverbs for
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Dermot. The first is smaller and stays constant, always adding a little space to his voice. The second is larger, with reverb times snapshotted for each song. “I ride this during the show to compliment his dynamics and lyrical delivery, sometimes the lyrics come quite fast, so you don’t want a large reverb stepping over those words while the chorus might be the perfect spot for a huge reverb,” he explained.
A big part of the in-ear mix is the crowd microphones with at least eight spread across the stage and six capsules at FOH. “The aim is to recreate the natural feeling of being in the room with the audience but through the in-ears. I look for that sense of space that allows an artist to feel connected to the crowd. When it all comes together, it makes for an electric show. Dermot is a top class performer!”
The setlist was shaped by Musical Director, Tim Van Der Kull with Carey Willets producing
interstitials and consulting on the sonic palette of the arrangements.
“After Rain is my favourite-sounding song on this tour. Tracks have been added to the second portion of the song and it sounds huge. That’s the one that gets me when the crowd sings along to it, especially in venues like The O2,” Lawson said, going on to praise the support of Monitor Technician, Ben Byford and RF Technician, Will Lucas.
“Having top-class techs allows me the time I need to really dial in the mixes, and the show has never sounded better.”
Having studied Sound Engineering and Production at Birmingham City University alongside Kennedy’s FOH Engineer, Solotech Account Handler Tom Pickett took delight in preparing the touring package.
“It’s been a great journey,” he reflected. “The audio team I built around Will and Si is made up
of mutual friends and people who have worked on the show before. I’ve watched Will mix Dermot many times over the years, but to see him mix a show at The O2 is a proud moment. Working with your mate doesn’t happen often but it’s certainly a perk of the job.”
Also experiencing a landmark moment was Popcorn Catering’s Amy Moore, who has been in the business for 13 years, but relished the chance to provide FOH and dressing room catering for Dermot Kennedy alongside Caterers, Stephen ‘Nutty’ Knudsen, Rob Oliver and James Kay. “I’ve been on loads of tours, but it’s rare to be a part of a camp where the vibe is so relaxed and family friendly,” she commented.
Having successfully navigated a pathway through Europe, the team will embark on a tour of the US before returning to Ireland and the UK.
“I ’m looking forward to touring the States, which I have been involved in since the beginning of planning,” Sutherland commented, looking ahead and speculating on the future of the tour. “There are a few things we are going to do differently, based on the feedback from this tour. I aim to make it a fun and fulfilling work environment for everyone involved.”
074 PRODUCTION PROFILE
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Following its acquisition of AC Lasers, BPM SFX welcomes TPi to its Burnley HQ to share the story behind the deal and give some details on the future of the company.
Over the past few years, we’ve reported on numerous buyouts and acquisitions in the live events industry. In some cases, these acquisitions signal a company looking to grow into a certain geographical region, while other times it can be about widening the portfolio and knowledge base of an organisation. Having spent the afternoon with the team at BPM SFX as well as the recently acquired AC Lasers, it’s clear that this deal falls into the latter category, with the two companies aiming to draw from each other’s experiences and resources to bring an even better service to their customers.
Sitting in BPM SFX’s stunning office –complete w ith several TPi Awards Favourite SF X Company of t he Year t rophies on display – TPi spoke at length w ith BPM’s Adam Murray and Liam Haswell along w ith AC L asers’ A ndy Thompson and Daniel B riggs. W ith a palpable sense of excitement in t he meeting room, t he qu artet t alked shop about t he state of t he industry as a w hole and looked to t he f uture.
“ We’ve k nown A ndy and t he team f rom AC Lasers for a long t ime and posed t he official question about buying t hem around nine
months ago,” began Murray. T he team finally signed on t he dotted line just before A pril 2023 much to t he pleasure of both parties involved.
“After t he COVID years, w hich were obviously quite tough, everything c ame back very quickly,” reflected B riggs, explaining how the workload was insurmountable w ith only three f ull-time employees – A ndy T hompson, Will B rown and himself. “ BPM has t he various departments to ease our workload, f rom accounting to equipment prep,” s aid B riggs.
Murray continued: Andy and Dan have been doing t he jobs of four to fi ve people for a long t ime, f rom prepping and quoting, to H&S and account handling. One of t he main things during t he negotiation process was that I wanted to give t hem t he t ime to work on developing t heir laser offering and not get overloaded w ith admin.”
Following t he deal, t he AC L asers name ceases to exist and t he team now falls under the BPM SFX banner. T he established AC premises w ill be kept on and act as another office for BPM. It’s beneficial to have t hat space as it is t hat bit closer to London,” Haswell ex plained. “ We w ill start using it more as a
testing space and move some of t he c abling and SFX up here w here we have more room.”
Talking of f reeing up t heir t ime, B riggs outlined to TPi some of t he various leaps and bounds t hey had made in laser development in recent t imes. “One benefit of t he pandemic was t hat it g ave us t ime to focus on R&D,” he said, explaining t hat although a lot of t hese developments were not quite ready to be shown to customers, t here were plenty of new offerings on t he horizon.
It is t his ingenuity t hat BPM was clearly excited to bring under its umbrella. “ We had hit a wall w hen it c ame our development of our laser offering at BPM,” continued Murray. We had always been slightly envious of w hat AC was able to deliver on t he laser f ront, and it’s great to now have t heir expertise in house.”
T he need for BPM to bolster its laser offering is an indication of t he maturing state of t he SFX industry. At t he highest level, you must be able to provide everything f rom pyro to SFX and lasers to be competitive,” Murray noted.
“ It was one of our key reasons for wanting to bring t he AC team into t he BPM family; t hey br ing such a massive understanding and c an
Words: Stew Hume
Photos: Danny Sargent and MrB
really bring a wealth of knowledge to our laser delivery,” he said.
As t he conversation went on, it was clear just how many shared views both the team and BPM and AC had, specifically on the need for greater integration of the visual process. “The days of the six-button packs are long gone with everything we program in-house being done on an MA Lighting grandMA,” started Murray. “This has all come about as this is what production designers want to patch to and we’ve been bringing in lighting designers and creative directors to teach our team how to use these desks for a long time.”
This need to integrate more seamlessly with the entire visual team is also something that Briggs agreed with. “For us in laser design, it all comes down to integrating with pre-show visualisation. If we are integrated seamlessly into that stage of the creative process it will lead to a stronger overall visual design and ensure the designer gets exactly what they want.”
Moving away from the specifics of the show delivery, TPi questioned Murray about some of changes he anticipated for BPM moving forward and if there was a chance of BPM SFX setting up a new base in another region.
“Our focus has always been the UK and Europe with some jobs in the Middle East over the past few years, although these have been on a much more case-by-case basis,” he said.
“We have no immediate plans to set up a base in the Middle East. As for America, we also have no ambition of setting up a base there as we have developed a very good working relationship with numerous SFX suppliers from America who – due to
077 / Get in touch: rcm.tv LIVE
we have returned the favour with some of our clients on their US runs.” It was clear that both Murray and Haswell saw the AC addition to BPM SFX as the final piece of the puzzle for the company to move onto its next stage of development. “SFX is still such a niche side of the industry,” mused Murray. “In a time of these big buyouts and companies becoming more and more turnkey – special effects are not always part of this conversation.”
Haswell continued. “We simply don’t fit into anyone’s established portfolio and to do what we do, you need people that are trained and
have expertise in this side of the industry. It’s not just a case of loading things into a truck for us due to the nature of what we deal with and the need for experience in the movement of dangerous goods.”
Not being part of that particular conversation fits just fine for the team at BPM SFX, who are continually pushing the progression of what they can deliver. Although the company was established over a decadeand-a-half ago, the future is far from written for these SFX experts. www.bpm-sfx.com
078 IN PROFILE
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IN PROFILE: BIGABOX PRODUCTIONS
Bigabox Productions Managing Director, Dean Graves reflects on the past decade in business and shares his plans for the future of the company.
and balance and we believe that it really adds a great dynamic to these industries. We know how to put on a proper show, it’s in our DNA.
“Having a product catalogue like we do means that we can enhance every show that we do with years of music experience and SFX, delivering some of the best conferences and after shows that you’ve ever been to! Ultimately, we are consistently broadening our knowledge for ourselves so that we can continue being great at what we do.”
What are some landmark projects that Bigabox Productions has been involved in?
“We’ve done everything from live tours for Flux Pavilion in the US along with concerts at The O2 and Wembley from artists such as Daddy Yankee and Armen van Buren. We’ve got more of that coming up this year.
“We’ve also delivered complete production solutions for Sundown for years alongside Reading and Leeds Festivals, Nocturne, Love Supreme – the list is endless! We do festivals that enable really creative output and production from our team.”
How were the years of 2020/21 for Bigabox?
“The most interesting thing about the COVID-19 pandemic was that it gave all company directors the time to step back and look inside the business properly. We assessed what is profitable, what we want to do, what we are happy doing and how we might want to diversify our offering.
Could you talk through the origins of Bigabox?
“We saw that there was a gap in the market and a need for dedicated video rental companies. At the time, there weren’t a huge number of businesses that were offering this, apart from companies that focused on large events.
“We also had the ambition to be a complete production house where people could come and get everything that they needed, instead of using multiple suppliers to deliver events. Coming from an extensive production background, we understood that there was a massive need for this. We believe that this really sets us apart because we remove a lot of the challenges that event organisers face
by offering complete solutions from video, lighting and audio to SFX and event production services.”
What advantages are there to working in multiple market sectors?
“It gives us a huge depth of experience and enables us to constantly learn and develop ourselves. We’re used to applying strategic thinking and problem solving in multiple scenarios, working with a diverse range of clients and businesses. It also keeps us entertained for the whole year, rather than just being seasonal. We do a lot of corporate events and live events to maintain that variety
“It was challenging and rewardingbut also provided us with an opportunity to take a third person perspective on our business and cultivate ideas that we were looking at. We didn’t see it as a totally negative thing and we got through it because of the diversity of our products and portfolio. We also were able to offer streaming services for clients and put emphasis on communications and products that people needed at the time.”
What challenges does Bigabox face and how are you and the team overcoming them?
“A lot of independent contractors left the industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, so
Words: Dean Graves
Photos: Bigabox Productions
there are still a lot of staffing issues. This has helped us create more of an internal training programme, one where we can promote and grow young talent in the local area. Like everyone in the industry, we have seen a huge increase in costs for transport. This has made us look at how we can be more effective in the delivery of our shows. We’ve started looking at how we can become more sustainable as a business. I think a rise in costs in general and equipment shortages have been an enormous challenge but again, this just supports our
thinking on how we need to diversify and grow as a business.”
Run us through some of the available inventory at Bigabox Productions...
“Our stocks boast a massive range of LED video, lighting, audio, SFX, processing equipment and staging/ rigging. Servicing corporate and live events for both indoor and outdoor. Our kit is premium, and I believe we have some of the best on the market. We are about to move into larger premises in Q4
because we are running out of space! Staffing wise, we have an internal PAYE structure and we use our great freelance database for delivery of larger scale events.”
What does the rest of this year look like at Bigabox Productions?
“We are busy working on some projects for the summer festival season, as well as delivering European tours and arena shows in Q4.”
Emma knows and loves the live event technology industry. She cultivates great customer relationships to develop and strengthen your brand. We work with world-leading Audio, Video and Lighting brands and suppliers to help find top talent for their business and engineering teams in the UK, EMEA, North America and APAC. Interfacio connects professionals with world-leading pro AVL brands.
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KB EVENT CALLS FOR A FUEL DUTY REDUCTION ON HVO
Richard Burnett, Managing Director of KB Event, calls for the live entertainment industry to lobby the UK government for a reduction in fuel duty on sustainable diesel, which will allow the sector to go greener, faster.
Despite a reported growing demand for more environmentally friendly fuel sources, event transport and logistics specialists like KB Event are not seeing an abundance of key decision makers from the live entertainment industry opting for hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) over fossil fuels when it comes to specifying transport for a tour for a multitude of reasons.
At t he time of writing, the UK government classifies HVO fuel as ‘heavy oil’ and as such, it is treated the same as diesel and is therefore fuel duty is charged at the same rate as fossil diesel fuel which is 52.95 pence per litre, so there’s no incentive for production crews and those advancing tours to opt for HVO, other than from an environmentally-conscious standpoint, especially when the cost of a transporting goods has risen significantly.
“Everything is so much more expensive,” KB Event Managing Director, Richard Burnett informed TPi, following the Green Events & Innovations Conference (GEI 15).
According to Burnett, this increased price of HVO dissuades most production and tour managers. “The price difference between fossil fuel and HVO can make or break the budget of a tour using a substantial number of trucks. There is a growing commitment from clients and sometimes they’re prepared to commit to the cost because they believe we need to start doing something proactive as an industry,” Burnett said, citing Tour Manager, Jamal Chalabi who opted for a production entirely fuelled by HVO for Yungblud’s latest tour. “In the journey to get to net zero, both UK and
Words: Jacob Waite
Photos: KB Event
EUROPALCO projects 45 million pixels and builds an impressive, suspended stage for Portugal’s largest private bank
Europalco , the largest provider of solutions for events and shows in Southern Europe, delivered a highly complex event for the Management Meeting of Portugal's largest private banking corporation - Millennium BCP- held in the Pavilhão Carlos Lopes in Lisbon,Portugal.
TheeventorganizerDCELovingBrandschoseEuropalcotobringthe meetingtolife.Theone-dayeventbroughttogether1,600guestsand had the participation of Barbara Tinoco, the Golden Globe winner singerandsongwriterfromPortugal.
Fortyexperiencedtechnicianshadonlytwodaystoprepareanevent challenged by space factor. Europalco's engineers had to look for a solutionthatallowedtheclienttokeepthedynamicoftheeventand thedesiredtimeforTinoco'sperformance.Astherewasnospacein the room to assemble the band at the expected time, the engineers devised an innovative idea, a suspended stage over the meeting stage.
Theperformancestagehadanimpressiveheight,whichsurprisedall the guests and created a unique environment with exceptional visibility, better acoustics, and remarkable aesthetics. The show requiredenormousconcentrationandexcellentcoordinationbetween the artists and the rig team; many rehearsals focused on safety and maintainingthemoment'sdynamicwereneeded.
To enhance the experience, Europalco projected forty-five million pixels into an astonishing 525 square meters extra-wide curved screenthatleftnooneindifferentthroughoutthemeeting.Todeliver this audiovisual project with superb large format high-quality projection, Europalco used 12 Christie Boxer 4K30 projectors; also, two Christie Spyder X80s video processors ran the contents and managedthedisplays.
Pedro Magalhães, founder and CEO of Europalco, was very happy with the result of the event. He said, "At Europalco, we love to innovate and surprise our clients. This event was especially challengingbecauseofthespaceandtheartist'sperformanceinthe middle of the event. As always, we let our imagination run wild and came up with this innovative, complex, and exciting solution that pleasedourclientandsurprisedtheguests".
Europalco was not only in charge of providing the audiovisuals, the screen, and the stage but also the exclusive furniture for the MillenniumBCPevent.
EUROPALCO has 26 years of experience working alongside national and international clients, making Portugal the base for the most importantcorporateeventsworldwide.
Focusingontheirclientsandtheireventrequirements,theyofferthe broadest global package of products and services that cover everything from exclusive furniture rental to the latest audio-visual technologies, including stages, structures, printing materials and muchmore.
GLOBAL EVENTS PROVIDER AUDIO | LIGHT | VIDEO | SPECIAL EFFECTS | STAGES | SCENERY | FURNITURE | STUDIOS GET IN TOUCH (+351) 219 605 520 firstname.lastname@example.org Estrada da Ericeira 112 2710-453 Sintra, Portugal
European governments are not moving fast enough,” Burnett warned, explaining that the lack of infrastructure to provide productions with the ability to charge electric vehicles is not readily available.
“Until the investment in infrastructure and technology is made, it’s going to take longer than any government thinks.”
At GEI 15, a conference discussing sustainability in live events, Burnett shared how to provide greener solutions and reviewed the challenges facing the sector. “There was acknowledgement that progress is being blocked from a cost perspective. Until we face that, and enact change, with the adoption of HVO in the short term as an alternative fuel source, we are not going to make the progress that we want to make fast enough.”
It ’s also important, Burnett pointed out, that those investing in HVO should research where their fuel comes from and what it contains. “There are lots of different versions of HVO, but many people have been tripped up, not realising that it may contain palm oil. At KB Event, we can absolutely guarantee there is no palm oil or palm oil derivatives in our HVO,” Burnett explained.
“We purchase our HVO through Nesta in Finland to provide guaranteed certification on how clean the fuel is and how much a client is saving on greenhouse gas emissions.”
KB Event’s HVO is reportedly 93% cleaner than diesel in terms of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emission savings. “We pride ourselves in our ability to service an entire UK tour on HVO fuel,” Burnett commented. “It’s important to know the quality you’re getting and whether you’re saving emissions, if it’s 94% upwards you’re not far off net zero w ith Euro 6 technology as a Euro
6 t ruck pumps out greener air t hen it t akes in.”
He cited recent offsetting schemes proposed by multinational oil and gas companies as ‘greenwashing’. “From a business perspective, these schemes do not fundamentally work because although they claim otherwise, they have been found to be using palm oil derivatives, so t here is no offsetting and you’re not t ruly fi xing t he problem,” he remarked.
When it comes to campaigning, Burnett believes there simply isn’t enough awareness. “We need the UK government to back, support and recognise that the path to getting to net zero is going to t ake a lot longer t han originally anticipated. HVO without palm oil guaranteed is absolutely necessary in the short term,” he added. “However, we need to incentivise people to use it and get a fuel duty reduction
for HVO to drive the price down.”
Looking ahead, Burnett shared news of more companies and countries beginning to produce HVO and other sustainable and renewable fuels, harnessing everything from crops to tyres. “There should be greater incentives to do so,” Burnett said, adding that while the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation provides credits for manufacturers of HVO – w ith up to 60p a litre credit back for recycled product or 30p a litre for crop – t hese government-backed incentives are still not sufficient enough to offset t he cost of investing in HVO. “The live entertainment industry needs to recognise that as a collective we must lobby the government for a fuel duty reduction on HVO to go greener, faster.”
“From a business perspective, these schemes do not fundamentally work because although they claim otherwise, they have been found to be using palm oil derivatives, so there is no offsetting and you’re not truly fixing the problem.”
Richard Burnett, KB Event Managing Director
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LED Technician and Backstage Academy alumni, Maisie Osborne, discusses her new role as Assistant Technical Manager of 4Wall’s space at Production Park, Unit 2.
What does your new role at 4Wall UK entail?
“As Assistant Technical Manager, I manage 4Wall’s space at Production Park, Unit 2, make sure everything is running accordingly, facilitate tours of the space and demonstrations. I also do a lot of onsite work at exhibitions, festival sites and concerts with 4Wall as an LED Technician. Exploring and discovering new things is one of the reasons why 4Wall is a perfect fit for me. Since joining, I’ve attended the IBC Exhibition in Amsterdam – which was my first excursion abroad – as well
as All Points East, Bluedot Festival, and the Farnborough International Airshow.”
How did you land the role?
“I met the 4Wall team when they moved into Production Park, while I was studying Live Visual Design & Production (BA Hons) and working part-time at Backstage Academy. I knew right away that I wanted to work for the company. Thankfully, I did some warehouse work to build up my skill set and network and once I graduated, they kindly offered me a job.”
What inspired you to study Live Visual Design & Production?
“I have always been interested in live events from a performance perspective but quickly discovered that I preferred being backstage after studying a Production Arts course in Truro, Cornwall. Although I was initially interested in production management, as a very visual person, the art of video production matches the way my brain works.”
Why was Backstage Academy a perfect fit?
“Its location and vast network of contacts are amazing. Backstage Academy plays a key role in the development of the live events and entertainment industry workforce. My course did practical assessments with real world clients and projects, which teaches you how to perform in a dynamic and fast-paced working environment, learning skills from those operating in the industry. Backstage Academy lecturers are also willing to adapt to the fluid and ever-changing nature of the sector, which makes for more of a communal and collaborative approach to studying.”
What advice would you offer those looking to follow in your footsteps?
“Be personable. The value of your character goes a long way. This industry is a peoplebusiness foremost and the technological skills follow that. Getting your foot in the door is probably the hardest part of landing a job after graduating but once you’re in there, you’re off, whether you take the educational route or not. Personally, I’m hungry to learn and discover as much as possible now as I did as an undergraduate.”
088 PRODUCTION FUTURES
Words: Jacob Waite
COLUMN POWERED BY
Breakthrough Talent Award winner, Rae Atkin reflects on her pathway into the live events sector as a Lighting Associate at Flare Lighting.
What first sparked your interest in live entertainment?
“I’ve always loved music and live productions. As a kid, I would put on concerts for my parents with disco lights and tickets. I admired the detail behind everything and how things come together to create something great. When deciding the courses I wanted to take at college, I was looking for something to tie in alongside performing arts and I remember this little stall called Production Arts. I thought it’d be really interesting to understand what goes on behind the stage. I very quickly discovered
that I actually loved it more than anything I have before. With lighting specifically, I just found it so fascinating how much it can change the emotive response of a performance.”
Did you ever consider your interest would lead to a burgeoning career in lighting?
“It was a very natural progression. I knew that this was the industry for me without a doubt. When I first started learning about lighting, I found pretty quickly that it was what I wanted to do. I never thought I would be any good, but I enjoyed it. The technical side has never come easy to me as I have a very creative brain, but I love learning and understanding how the whole system works and comes together.”
What was it like to win a Breakthrough Talent Award at Production Futures ON TOUR?
“Definitely a surprise. I felt honoured that someone thought I’d done enough to be nominated in the first place. On the day I didn’t know anyone there, so I spent time talking to people and introducing myself. Production Futures is amazing for any young person starting out in the industry, I wish I’d discovered it sooner.”
How did you land your first gig?
“I did a placement at Neg Earth for six weeks in April 2022, and at the end, I practically begged them to get me out onsite, so they put me out on Biffy Clyro at Download Festival 2022. It was insane, I honestly had the time of my life. That was my first real taste of the whole process and I loved every aspect of it. Rehearsals were
crazy, I learned so much in a matter of days. During the performance, I remember feeling so overwhelmed at how lucky I was to be involved. You see thousands of people in front of you absolutely loving everything about what you’ve built – it’s one of the best feelings.”
Have you faced any additional barriers breaking into the sector?
“There have been times where I’ve felt that I’ve needed to push harder as a woman in order to prove myself. Most people in this industry have been lovely and want to actively help you become better and support you. I don’t believe that my opportunities have been hindered by the fact that I’m a woman, which is the most important thing. Naturally, there are some people that can’t see past that obvious difference between you. Occasionally, I’ve been bluntly reminded of that, but in some ways, it becomes another drive to push harder and prove yourself even more.”
What advice would you offer others looking to follow in your footsteps?
“I’ve received a lot of great advice in the past year, but I always return to ‘don’t be a dick’. It’s a very small industry, and the last thing you want is to be remembered for the wrong reasons. I’d also encourage people to take every opportunity that comes their way because you never know who you’re going to meet or where it’s going to take you. Don’t be afraid of being out of your comfort zone, that’s often where some of the best things happen.”
Words: Jacob Waite
089 COLUMN POWERED BY
Photo: Rae Atkin
DPA 2012 CARDIOID AND 2015 WIDE CARDIOID MICROPHONES
Following the launch of 2012 Cardioid and 2015 Wide Cardioid Microphones, DPA Microphones’ Helga
highlight the brand’s collaborative approach when designing new microphones.
What was the inspiration behind the creation and design of 2012 Cardioid and 2015 Wide Cardioid Microphones?
Helga Volha Somava: “The needs of end users in the live events and entertainment market differ from say, recording studios, for example, with added time pressures and limited space. Microphones need to be durable, precise and simple to set up, while maintaining the ability to deliver reliable and consistent sound, which is what we believe we have created with 2012 Cardioid and 2015 Wide Cardioid Microphones.”
How do the 2012 Cardioid and 2015 Wide Cardioid Microphones differ?
Somava: “The 2012 Cardioid is designed for the close miking of instruments, while also doubling as a ‘workhorse’ for the live events space. There are, however, some instrument groups which require a wider pick up area while reducing the bleed from others on the stage, which is where the 2015 Wide Cardioid Microphone comes into play.”
Toni Torras Rosell: “The 2015 Wide Cardioid Microphone can be placed further away to capture instruments over a larger footprint. This is why the nominal sensitivity of the microphone is slightly higher for 2015, so you can handle sound pressure levels on stage with both microphones at varying distances.”
How did the COVID-19 pandemic impact the introduction of these microphones?
Somava: “The preliminary idea for these microphones originated pre-pandemic, however, the possibility to work on it was not there with uncertainty surrounding raw
materials and the global supply chain. Toni and the Research and Development (R&D) team began working on these two new microphones almost a year ago. It has been an intense journey to get these products to the market within that time frame.”
What is DPA’s approach to introducing new microphones to the market?
Rosell: “I work with some amazing colleagues with varying expertise and competencies. We make microphones that optimise three different disciplines: acoustics, mechanics and electronics. From the process of creation, we have a Product Management division, which presents us with an opportunity to innovate and we also collaborate with leading experts from our Sales department to devise a desired ‘wish list’ of features.
“T he R&D team then goes through a ‘feasibility study’, which further informs the direction of the theoretical analysis, modelling and simulation of digital prototypes to discover how the varying components of the design will affect the performance of the microphone.
“From there, we begin prototyping with an idea of where to start, as opposed to trial and error. We also have a capsule lab in production, which is ideal because I typically operate in a virtual world with modelling, so it’s important to get hands-on with real world references.”
Which unique selling points will end users operating in the live touring and entertainment sector benefit from?
Rosell: “These microphones are compact, robust, and can withstand harsh environments and high sound pressure levels. The transient
response and uniform directionality of both microphones help end users provide consistent performance, while delivering authentic sound – which is important to any sound engineer and performing artists and a unique selling point of all of our microphones, particularly with 2012 and 2015. Additionally, the compact form factor of both microphones is key to avoiding creating unwanted visual noise on the stage.”
What has the response been like from colleagues and the sector at large?
Somava: “We are lucky enough to have a fantastic and talented group of in-house engineers and product specialists with an expert level of perception of sound along with The DPA Masters Club – a community of highly skilled, actively-working sound engineers, who use DPA Microphones’ solutions in their daily work. This collective was involved in the early stages and their feedback was crucial when it came to the development of 2012 Cardioid and 2015 Wide Cardioid Microphones.
“T he other benefit of having this select committee is that it can also provide us with an unbiased and unfiltered view of what works and what doesn’t in the field.
“Since introducing 2012 Cardioid and 2015 Wide Cardioid Microphones to the market, our sales channels have reported an overwhelmingly positive response. The addition of these products to our growing portfolio for the live sound sector has been welcomed and each new innovation will eventually allow us to cover the entire stage one microphone at a time.”
Toni Torras Rosell
Photo: DPA Microphones
SGM TOURING VPL
Product Manager, Jason Osterman previews SGM Light’s ‘brightest, quickest to rig, and longest run-length’ direct view pixel product to date.
What was the idea behind the creation of the Touring VPL?
“Touring VPL is the result of us listening to our customers. Our permanent outdoor installation variant of VPL is powerful and production companies wanted to have that kind of direct view pixel output for the stage, but some tweaks were needed to make it suitable for touring.”
How long did it take to develop the fixture from inception to market release?
“We introduced a few early prototype variants at Prolight + Sound in 2022. After we got feedback from the market, we put together the most requested features and showed that final prototype at LDI. We got a ton of interest and
we knew we had arrived at the right solution. We launched the final TouringVPL on 31 March 2023.”
Which key features will lighting designers benefit from?
“Touring VPL uses four RGB LED chips arranged in a two by two cluster, as opposed to a single larger LED so the entire video pixel linear family is very bright. It can be powered with mains voltage and sent to sACN and ArtNet directly with PowerCON and EtherCON compatible connectors, with no need for a separate driver box. The driver design allows extremely long runs on a single circuit, well over 200ft. The new brackets also make it really easy to rig and install.”
What has the reception been like to this product release?
“VPL users have always loved the output and really were excited to start using the Touring VPL concept. When we told them that we’d managed to get the world’s first production run of a female in-line Ethercon compatible connector, they were thrilled. This was really the missing link to make it quick and easy to cable up.”
How does the Touring VPL system stand out from other products on the market?
“Touring VPL is probably the brightest, quickest to rig, and longest run-length direct view pixel product on the market and as an SGM Light product, it is IP65, corrosion and UV resistant and with an IK09 impact rating.”
Following its release at Prolight + Sound 2023, FANTEK CEO, Juan Jose Vila, highlights the benefits of LoadSense – a fully mechanical load detection system.
When did you begin developing LoadSense?
“LoadSense began as a result of our commitment to safety in the manufacturing and research and development processes of our products. We have always made it a priority to ensure that our products are safe to use, and LoadSense is just one example of the work that our engineering department performs to ensure the safety of our customers.
“T he initial goal of LoadSense was to provide a simple way to monitor the weight supported by the top loading towers during their use and to alert users when an overload condition was detected, to prevent accidents. We are proud to have developed this innovative technology, and we believe that it will become an essential tool for Lifters Towers.
“We know that most telescopic lifters are used to the point of being overloaded and this is a problem in our industry. In fact, the new European regulation prEN17206-2 includes a requirement that lifters must have an overload alert system to warn users. We’ve achieved this with LoadSense.”
How important is the mechanical aspect of the system?
“Our initial aim was to develop a mechanical solution that could be integrated into the top loading tower itself, without requiring any electrical power or any type of connection - even wireless. LoadSense is a mechanical component of the tower, designed to provide
a reliable way to monitor the load supported by the top loading towers. An easy-to-read load indicator located above the winch shows the weight supported on a graphical scale and indicates the overload point. It does not require any additional power or connections, making it easy to use and maintain.”
How is LoadSense able to integrate into preexisting product lines?
“LoadSense will be available as a standard feature on our newest product lines. We are actively working to make sure that all our top loading towers will incorporate LoadSense as a standard feature soon. However, it’s worth noting that LoadSense is a structural element of the tower, which means that it cannot be retrofitted to earlier tower models but we have solutions coming soon for older lifters.”
How important are the safety mechanisms built into LoadSense?
“At FANTEK, we are committed to providing our customers with the highest level of safety and quality in all our products, including trusses, stages, front and top loading towers, and LED screen supports.
“O verloading is one of the most concerning issues for us and for our most important product lines we saw the need of the users to be aware of how much load they were managing as sometimes they might apply a load to the lifter without measuring or knowing
the total weight. We believe that safety should be a top priority in the entertainment industry, and we take this responsibility very seriously. That’s why we have made the development of LoadSense a priority.
“We believe that inbuilt safety mechanisms are essential in ensuring that our products perform as intended and can withstand the rigours of live events. We understand that the safety of the people involved in these events, as well as the equipment used, is paramount, and we strive to meet and exceed the industry standards. Safety is not just a buzzword for us - it’s an integral part of our company’s DNA, and we are constantly looking for new ways to improve the safety and reliability of our products.”
What feedback have you received from visitors and the sector at large?
“We were very pleased with the feedback we received from visitors at Prolight + Sound. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and we were delighted to see so many people interested in our latest innovation. We believe that the positive response is in part due to the fact that top loading towers are not a product that sees frequent innovations.
“LoadSense represents a significant step forward in the safety of top loading towers, and we were pleased to see that so many visitors recognised this fact.”
MAGIC FX TALKS BIODEGRADABLE CONFETTI
Dutch SFX manufacturer for the events industry makes a commitment to sustainability with its latest biodegradable confetti offering. MAGIC FX CEO, Bram Veroude explains more…
To ensure its confetti offering is more sustainable and environmentally friendly, MAGIC FX recently announced a new TÜVcertified confetti solution that biodegrades in soil within the norm of maximum two years, meaning that this essential part of a live show can be maintained without having an adverse effect on the environment.
“We believe that confetti is an essential part of any event or festival and always gets the party started!” began MAGIC FX CEO Bram Veroude as he spoke to TPi about his company’s latest development.
With MAGIC FX getting its start as a fireworks company, safety has always been paramount – hence the company’s insistence that any confetti it uses is DIN4102-1 B1 flame retardant certified. “However, in recent years we have increasingly been asked if our confetti was biodegradable and if we also had a certificate for this, which we didn’t,” outlined Veroude. “In all honesty, we didn’t know. All we knew was that many people always thought that paper confetti was biodegradable, so we wanted to be sure.” After some research, the team found TÜV Austria to be the only organisation to offer biodegradable certifications in Europe.
Further enquiries revealed that the company’s old paper did not pass the initial
tests and the material turned out to be harmful to the environment. “It turned out that biodegradable paper that was coloured and flame retardant simply didn’t exist,” stated Veroude. “So together with a major paper manufacturer, we have developed a new type of paper that is coloured, flame retardant and biodegradable.”
MAGIC FX also worked closely with TÜV to analyse the new product and ensure it
passed the test, which requires a product to biodegrade in soil within a maximum of two years. “Our confetti biodegrades completely within nine months!” enthused Veroude.
“T he last phase of the TÜV certification process was to grow new plants on the soil in which the confetti biodegraded and compare this with the same plants grown on clean soil. It turned out that there was no difference, and that was the last step to obtain the certificate.”
Words: Stew Hume
Photos: MAGIC FX
“We have developed a new type of paper that is coloured, flame retardant and biodegradable.”
FX CEO Bram Veroude.
MAGIC FX officially earned the certification in 2022 and since then has been able to offer this new product to the market.
“T he environment and our future is something we’re all more aware of these days,” asserted Veroude. “At MAGIC FX, we’re constantly looking for innovations to keep up with current standards and we’re very serious about sustainability. The biodegradable confetti was a really big project for our team but we also offer biodegradable snow fluid and we switched to a gas-free factory with 300 solar panels to provide the necessary power.”
As well as being a core value for the company, Veroude expressed how the latest step MAGIC FX had made had been well received by customers.
“We’ve had nothing but compliments from around the world,” enthused the CEO. “Customers are now able to use confetti at locations that previously had not allowed it due to the negative effect on the environment. With the biodegradable confetti, it’s possible to celebrate events with confetti but in a responsible way.” www.magicfx.eu
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MAGIC FX CEO, Bram Veroude
CREWING WITH A CONSCIENCE
Since Showforce was launched back in 1991, the company has become a familiar name within the live events scene, providing crewing services to some of the biggest events in the world. Over the years, the company has expanded from its London HQ to also have bases in Liverpool as well as Middle East outposts in Dubai, Riyadh and Doha. Throughout this expansion, the company has remained determined to ensure it upholds crew welfare – no matter where in the world an event is happening.
“Showforce is the only truly global event crew company having established bases throughout the UK, Europe, UAE, Qatar and KSA,” began Showforce’s Founder and Chairman, Ian Spendlove. “From these territories, we can service pretty much any event, regardless of where it is situated in the world, utilising our own operational offices and global network of crew. We’ve worked all over the globe, from New York and Melbourne to Taiwan and Cannes.”
Group Managing Director, Gemma Charity added: “Our back-office systems and team deploy a tried-and-tested formula that allows us to head to a country with minimal event resources and marry our experienced international crew with hard-working local people to leave a legacy of skills and employment.”
Creating a standard code of practice has not come without its challenges, but it’s something that Showforce continues to prioritise. “We spend a lot of time supporting our clients with GCC compliance and that includes visas, worker welfare and advice about the new tax and VAT laws,” stated Charity. “We also adapt to other countries’ working methods, which has opened up a whole new set of challenges in Europe post Brexit,” added Spendlove. “We’re already looking ahead to the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. The French labour laws are so far away from what our industry is used to, with much shorter working hours. We’re finding ways to work with them. In
fact, we currently have a crew from Showforce and technicians from The Production Team working on four tours in Germany.”
It may seem like common sense that companies such as Showforce would do everything possible to roll out a companywide crew welfare policy, but according to Spendlove, “sadly, there are many instances where people are not treating crew correctly.” He elaborated: “Across the Middle East, there’s a tendency for suppliers to quote for providing their own crew, which they mark up. They don’t always go to a reputable crewing provider, and I know there are instances where gang masters are used instead. They’re then taking a 50% cut and making people wait months for their money – that’s if they’re lucky enough to receive it at all. That’s just not how we operate as a business; we have our own local crew across UAE, Qatar and KSA, who are all paid fairly and regularly on a monthly basis.”
More shockingly, Spendlove even alleged that there had been instances where he’d been contacted by Western companies asking for “special rates” for “crews from the developing world”. He continued: “Can you imagine if we were paying our crew in the UK by nationality or faith? It’s a disgusting practice and needs to be eradicated from our industry.”
He concluded this thought by making the point that inflation is a global problem, and no country is unaffected by rising fuel and food costs. “Everyone has the right to earn a fair wage for a fair day’s work. I’m incredibly proud of every single nationality represented in my business – we are one Showforce.”
Charity concluded by underlining Showforce’s worker welfare ethos. “We at Showforce will continue to set high standards in terms of worker welfare, rates of pay and the treatment of our crew regardless of where in the world they are based.
“Ultimately, it’s our clients who benefit. Happy, healthy, well-trained and experienced crew are invaluable within our industry and that continues to set us apart.” www.showforce.com
Showforce’s Ian Spendlove and Gemma Charity share the company’s approach to crew welfare.
Words: Stew Hume Photos: Showforce
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THE IMPORTANCE OF LOAD MONITORING
Simon Lawrence of Rigging Co. hopes to change perceptions of load monitoring as being as worthy of investment as the latest LED and audio technology.
Designed to assist rigging professionals on a daily basis, Broadweigh’s wireless load monitoring solutions for live events provide a clear and accurate picture of what’s happening on a rig at all times. Providing critical real-time data to help riggers do their best work, safely, was of paramount importance for Simon Lawrence of Rigging Co. amid The 1975’s At Their Very Best live campaign. Assuming the role of Head Rigger, he shared his desire to see load cells and monitoring information become as commonplace as lighting, audio and video when it comes specifying equipment for arena-sized concert touring.
Load monitoring can provide several benefits in live touring, particularly for larger productions in arena-size and upwards. At the top of the list is safety. “I want to see a load cell on every hoist,” Lawrence informed TPi at Leeds’ First Direct Arena, going on to explain how he factors load monitoring into his day-to-day. “We can use load monitoring to create reports, which allows us to disseminate and share that information with the rest of the production team and venue staff when we are on site.”
According to Broadweigh Product Specialist, Elliot Van Laere, there are multiple benefits to load cell monitoring in addition to safety. Load monitoring can help protect expensive equipment from damage by providing early warning of overloading or unusual stresses. This can help prevent costly repairs or replacements.
“B y optimising equipment placement and reducing wear and tear, load monitoring can help extend the lifespan of equipment, reducing the need for costly replacements. It can also help reduce setup times and minimise
Words: Jacob Waite
Photos: Jordan Curtis Hughes
downtime due to equipment failure, which can save money in labour and production costs,” Van Laere explained.
Load monitoring can also provide valuable data that can be used to optimise the design and placement of equipment, such as speakers, lighting rigs, and video screens. “By understanding how loads are distributed, designers and technicians can adjust to improve performance and reduce wear and tear on equipment,” he remarked.
Local regulations and international standards often require load monitoring in live touring, particularly for larger productions. Using load cells can help ensure compliance and avoid potential fines or legal issues. “If you’re in the realms of lifting over 50% of the safe working weight limit, then I would encourage productions to record the data,” Van Laere stated.
Adoption of load cell monitoring, however, will initially come at an added cost to production teams, particularly at a time when budgets are spiralling post-pandemic.
However, this return on investment is ‘evident’ by ensuring safety, optimising performance, and in fact reducing costs in live touring in the long run, especially for larger
productions with dynamic and concentrated loads. “Not only does it show due diligence, the audience gets to experience a brilliant show, safely,” Lawrence explained. “While the numbers on monitoring screens backstage generated by load monitoring aren’t quite as tangible as say, investment in the latest LED, lighting or audio technology, they are perhaps more important.”
St riving to change perceptions of load cell monitoring as being a worthy investment, Lawrence warned that unfortunately, “it may take an incident to happen” for this investment to occur.
“Productions often have the possibility to be a little bit heavier than expected, so carrying load monitoring like Broadweigh systems make sure that safety is guaranteed,” he said, summing up his “good working relationship” with the Exeter-based manufacturer.
“T hey popped down to Westpoint Exeter to discuss how to advance their technology, use their cells in future and incorporate them into designs. Above all, safety is key to me.”
Van Laere concluded: “Simon and his team produce nothing but incredible work, people only see the artists take the stage under a canopy of flashing lights and crisp audio but
never see the work that has gone into it by a team of highly skilled professionals. Simon uses load cells not just for safety but to provide bigger and better shows that would not be possible without the use of them.”
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EQUINOX TRAVEL TALKS TOURING LOGISTICS
Equinox Travel CEO, Ian Patterson highlights the issues facing the global touring industry post COVID-19 and how his company is looking to remedy some of these problems.
Since the return of live events post COVID-19, there has been a huge demand within live touring as artists and bands are playing catchup with cancellations and postponements.
The number of bands touring this year is huge, especially as it is the first full year with many US artists returning to the UK for the first time since the pandemic. This surge in demand has been difficult to meet with a lack of workforce who can fulfil our obligations in terms of service levels. Many who left travel businesses have no interest in returning, and there is a shortage of experienced people when it comes to recruitment.
The increased demand on the industry is what led Equinox Travel to be formed. The business was created in 2021, bringing together a team with a wealth of knowledge across various sectors of the travel industry. The growth of Equinox has been rapid, with the launch of Equinox Charter, a private aircraft charter provider, at the tail end of 2021. This was fuelled by the anticipation of global travel and live touring recovering in 2022 and was a venture that paid off. The charter business means the ability to provide unique in-house pricing and more consistency across the board, giving clients a 24/7 service.
The introduction of Equinox Charter seemed only natural when commercial airlines were inconsistent dealing with so many delays and cancellations. Many of Equinox’s touring clients were already relying on charter flights. The charter business was particularly beneficial to music clients with hectic schedules, like DJs and electronic music artists with their equipment. Equinox Travel provided much more flexibility and time-saving travel solutions,
allowing talent to travel directly between shows. Over the past few years, they have also seen an uplift in demand for chartered flights.
The synergy between Equinox Travel and Equinox Charter has allowed for more creativity when building clients’ schedules – for example, the ability to seamlessly combine a private helicopter flight with a connecting commercial flight to get the artist to their destination.
In t he past 12 months, Equinox has been very busy working with the likes of Stereophonics, Years & Years, The Vamps, Peter Gabriel, and the crew for Westlife. On top of this, Equinox Travel has taken the opportunity to improve internal training and develop a younger generation of emerging talent. This is made easier by the attractiveness of the roles, which are working with VIPs and big names in the industry and therefore have more of a ‘wow-factor’. The company has shifted focus to recruiting a younger workforce who have great people-facing skills and personality fit over experience with the travel industry, relying more heavily on social media to drive this.
Words: Ian Patterson
Photo: Equinox Travel
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SECRET GARDEN PARTY PLEDGES TO BE ‘A FORCE FOR GOOD’
Freddie Fellowes, the Founder of The Secret Garden Party, highlights why the independent festival has adopted the social enterprise model – committing 65% of all profits to front-line charities working to provide access to the arts for people from underserved and disenfranchised communities.
The Secret Garden Party was born from the rave and free party scene. Spaces that, seemingly for the first time, provided an inclusive freedom for all who attended. The Garden Party was our way of bringing that attitude and culture out into an even more inclusive space that wasn’t just about large sound systems and monotheistic attachment to one style of music. Bands, solo artists, and performers of all types – from the serene to the absurd – were included. Every guest had the opportunity to play their part in this celebration of creativity and much of the content quickly became what they had imagined and realised. The lines between spectator and performers became blurred, and as a whole, the Garden became a stage.
That, in its essence, came from an ethos of allowing everyone possible to be able to realise their creative dreams in a celebration of life in all its wondrous forms. Ultimately, if that becomes something only accessible to those that can afford it then it eventually strays from the ethos of SGF and into stagnation.
The idea of how we change this came from my team. It was suggested that we should look at becoming a charity of some description. After much research we settled on the Social Enterprise model; this pledges that, at least, 65% of profits go to organisations focussed on
helping people in the sectors we have identified as the mission of the Social Enterprise. And our stated mission? To help in the rehabilitation of the at risk and disenfranchised via the arts. There is, currently, a huge need to support the creative arts, and the industry around it. By opening it up to a wider, more diverse range of people, who otherwise wouldn’t consider it a possible career option for them. The challenges and barriers facing people range across everything; from the social and cultural to the situational and economical.
By re-inventing the gathering as a Social Enterprise we are able to not only return to the ideals that started The Secret Garden Party but also make it a force for good that is truly accessible to a far wider range of people. By using the energy of the Garden Party to not only generate funds for frontline organisations helping the marginalised, disenfranchised but also as base for round the year engagement via residential apprenticeships offering experience and learning in a huge array of skills.
We live in exciting times and now, more than ever, is the moment to look long and hard at the ‘why’ in what we do. We’ve done that and this is our response, a pledge to be a force for good in every way we can and in partnership with everyone who is The Secret Garden Party. www.secretgardenparty.com
Words: Freddie Fellowes
Photo: The Secret Garden Party
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How does it feel to assume the role and responsibilities of CEO at CAST?
“Taking on the role of CEO at CAST is an exciting and challenging opportunity at a time when the industry is transitioning through a period of significant change. I have been involved with the company for more than 16 years and have witnessed, first hand, how Gil Densham pioneered some of the most advanced innovations in the industry. I am very excited to shape CAST’s future to deliver a lasting impact on the industry. With a team of exceptional individuals, CAST will continue to grow through the development of innovative products for the entertainment industry.”
What have you learned from the previous CAST CEO, Gil Densham?
“Gil Densham has been a mentor and role model in my journey to becoming a CEO. In the many years I have known him, he has taught me invaluable lessons about leadership, communication and innovation. Taking calculated risks, and staying focused on longterm goals, he has always put an emphasis on the greater good and best interest of the industry, while allowing people to be more creative and innovative by realising efficiencies through our technologies.”
How have the past few years been for CAST?
“CAST, like many companies in the industry, was impacted by supply chain issues forcing us to think differently and adapt to an ever-changing landscape. Although it has been
challenging at times, COVID-19 has taught us some important lessons that have contributed towards our roadmap for the future. It quickly became evident that we wouldn’t be able to operate in the way we always had, we had to be agile and increase our creativity. Adapting, reallocating resources and developing innovative solutions and strategies has enabled us to remain competitive, continuing to provide quality products, services and support during these trying times. Ultimately, the last few years has taught us that we must be open to change.”
What lies ahead for the company?
“CAST continues to develop innovative solutions. We are really excited to launch a new version of BlackTrax. BlackTrax BT-1 is a compact and affordable single integration tracking solution designed for small to
medium size projects that delivers the same precision, control capabilities and reliability as BlackTrax in an easily portable kit. Blacktrax BT-1 opens up the world of lighting, media and audio automation to a whole new market of customers who may have previously thought this sort of technology was out of their reach.
Wysiwyg is undergoing an evolution, with an accelerated road map already in place for 2024, to coincide with the 30th anniversary of CAST. Wysiwyg 2024 will remain true to the original values of the product which is to provide designers and programmers with the most complete, all-in-one lighting design software for the entertainment industry whilst delivering the tools they need for the future.
With focus on innovation, there is no doubt that CAST will be at the forefront of automation and previsualisation in the years to come.” www.cast-soft.com
106 BACK CHAT
CAST Group CEO, Stuart Green reveals what’s next for the creators of BlackTrax, Vivien, and wysiwyg.
With focus on innovation, there is no doubt that CAST will be at the forefront of automation and pre-visualisation in the years to come.
Stuart Green, CEO of CAST
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