TPi #281 - May/June 2024

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Transatlantic collaboration enhances timeless production values

festival pushing the envelope of events technology in Latin America MAISIE PETERS The singer-songwriter and her camp traverse Europe with a dreamy production RICK ASTLEY
Captivating showman returns to the touring circuit with a vibrant live offering
MAY/JUNE 2024 • #281
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A few issues ago, I mentioned in one of my leaders about TPi’s goal to bring our readers more coverage from around the world while also featuring new names and voices in our pages. Flicking through this edition before we press the ‘big green button’ and send it to print, I think we can safely say we’ve achieved that. With coverage from Mexico’s Tecate Pa’l Norte, conversations with LAbased 1826 not to mention coverage of Italian homegrown heroes Pinguini Tattici Nucleari as they set out on one of their most ambitious tours to date, this issue is well and truly global. Despite our UK postcode, this is something we are continuing to push here at TPi.

With that in mind, the newest member of our family, Ali, has already started to collect a few more stamps in her passport, jetting off to Paris to see Maise Peters’ The Good Witch Tour and learn about how the newly established production team helping to elevate this artist’s live persona (p46). From newcomers to old favourites, TPi also checked in with the loyal touring family of Rick Astley, who were happy to set out on the road once again (p56).

This issue also brings a great deal of sadness. As you’ll read in the forthcoming pages, this edition of TPi is dedicated to Joe Falcón. Jacob had the pleasure of meeting Joe at Manchester’s AO Arena as the NE-YO brought his lavish production to UK shores before heading over to Europe where the Production Manager sadly lost his life. We’re honoured to have Joe’s family pay tribute to him on page 12; our thoughts go out to them as well as the entire NE-YO team during this time.

Also in this edition, we hear from LIVE (Live music Industry Venues & Entertainment)’s Jon Collins, who reflects on LIVE’s Freelancer Survey (p114), the results of which will be available soon. The goal of the survey was to explore pay transparency and the personal experiences of freelancers at live music events. Despite some troubling findings, one point that Jon was keen to highlight from the many responses he received from the survey was that “people love working in live music.”

We get to witness this notion first hand each day. Two clear examples of this can be found in our coverage of Skindred (p14) and Enter Shikari (p28). In both articles, Lighting Designers, Will Furze and Lucy Harrison speak passionately about working with artists they were fans of firstly, and then found themselves in the dream position of sitting behind the desk working on their show. These are the stories that we love and will continue to tell in the future.

Until next time,

Issue #281 May/June 2024

Editor Stew Hume Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360

Mobile: +44 (0)7702 054344 e-mail:

Assistant Editor Jacob Waite Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7592 679612 e-mail:

Editorial Assistant Alicia Pollitt Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7508 441986 e-mail:

Commercial Director Fran Begaj Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7852 336728 e-mail:

Account Manager Matilda Matthews Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7413 555978 e-mail:

Account Manager Phil Tucker Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7522 130473 e-mail:

Account Manager Sheelan Shah Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7401 690960 e-mail:

Digital Content Manager James Robertson Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7725 475819 e-mail:

Marketing and Events Manager Alice Clarke Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7752 392465 e-mail:

Editorial Director Peter Iantorno Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7763 233637 e-mail:

Chief Executive Justin Gawne Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7768 850767 e-mail:

Accounts Lynette Levi / Sarah Miller:

Mondiale Group Chairman Damian Walsh

Graphic Design & Production Dan Seaton: Jez Reid:

Cover Photo NE-YO

Photo: Luke Dyson

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12 Remembering Joe Falcón.



A timeless production featuring a kaleidoscope of colour.


14 Lighting Designer, Will Furze hits the road with Skindred.

18 Ombra Design curates visuals for Pinguini Tattici Nucleari.

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22 Spiralstagelighting shines for Calum Scott in London. 24 Midland returns to Islington Hall wit h Funktion-One systems.

28 Lucy Harrison selects ChamSys cont rol for Enter Shikari.

32 A newlook Tecate Pa’l Norte returns to Monterrey, Mexico.



The singer-songwriter’s crew present a dreamy production.

68 Meet the manufacturers pushing the envelope of tracking.

76 Really Creative Media takes on James Arthur’s latest live show.

78 Global experience agency, 1826, celebrates a decade of business.

82 Waves introduces sound engineers to SuperRack LiveBox.


84 GLX Productions challenges perceptions of IP-rated lighting.

88 Turnkey solutions firm, LMG Touring, sets up shop in the UK.

90 Patchwork London raises the bar for sound control packaging.

94 DirectOut makes further inroads into live touring sector. PRODUCTION FUTURES 96 MUTI Live shares opportunities for industry newcomers. GEAR HEADS 98 CAMEO ORON H2. 100 Adamson VGt. 102 Elation Pulse Panel FX. 104 Epson EB-PQ2000. FEEDBACK 106 Ammonite unites creative and technical realisation for clients. 108 HOLOPLOT addresses accessibility in live sound. 110 25 years of The Needs Group. BACK CHAT 114 Jon Collins, LIVE CEO, previews LIVE’s new Freelancer Survey. 14 22 46 24 56 106 ROXX GmbH | Cologne/Germany THE CLUSTER SERIES CLUSTER S1 THE ORIGINAL


The devastating news of the passing of veteran stage, production, and tour manager, Joe Falcón, while on the NE-YO Champagne & Roses Tour, reverberated throughout the live entertainment and touring community. Surrounded by the love of his family and colleagues, Joe Falcón leaves behind a profound legacy that transcends borders.

Falcón was a long-time resident of Azusa, CA. Born in Merced, California on 17 October 1967, the sixth of eight children born to Noe Falcón and Thomasa Santana Falcón. As an accomplished bass player, vocalist, and songwriter, Falcón travelled around the country with his family, La Familia Falcón, a musical group whose style was rooted in the Mexican/ American and Tejano genres in the ’80s.

Alongside his Dad, Mom and six of his siblings, they toured the US in their custombuilt tour bus and played various shows and appeared on multiple well-known MexicanAmerican television variety shows and had several number-one hits in the Tejano charts. The family also had a successful music ministry, performing gospel music in accordance with their strong Christian faith. Falcón was also an ordained minister, who just last year officiated the wedding of one of his godsons.

Af ter surviving a devastating bus accident in 1987, Falcón transitioned to a career behind the scenes and went on to enjoy over three

decades as a stage, production and tour manager. Artists who can credit Falcón as part of their team in addition to NE-YO include: Alan Parsons, Avant, B.B. King, Bell Biv DeVoe, Beyoncé, Bobby Brown, Bow Wow, Boyz II Men, Cardi B, Chris Brown, Chrisette Michele, Clay Aiken, Destiny’s Child, Drake, Dru Hill, Ed Sheeran, Faith Evans, Fantasia Barrino, French Montana, Gladys Knight, Jagged Edge, Jamie Foxx, Lil Mama, Lil Wayne, Luis Miguel, Luther Vandross, Mary J. Blige, New Edition, No Doubt, Patti LaBelle, Prince Royce, Raheem DeVaughn, Rick Ross, Ruben Studdard, Sean Paul, Selena, Sisqó, Soulja Boy, Steve Vai, The Whispers, Travis Barker, Usher, Vanessa Williams, Yanni, among others.

Falcón also participated in events such as the Presidential Inaugural Ball for President Barack Obama, Live Nation Events, The Grammy Awards, American Music Awards, BET Awards, NBA, National Medical Association, Festival at Sea, Capital Jazz Super Cruise, Soul Train Cruise, the 2002 Winter Paralympics, Floyd Mayweather and Al Haymon Productions. Falcón was a “behind the scenes” mastermind who made the superstars shine; a person who made all the moving parts flow with ease and wore many hats. He was blessed with the common sense and ability to look at a situation and understand how it happened and the wisdom to know how to fix it.

Considering the many hats that he wore, Falcón was first and foremost, a man of great faith who credited his success to God. He was driven by his dedication to God, his family, and his work. Falcon had an aura of peace and often acted as a counsellor, offering prayer and support to colleagues who sought guidance when times were tough and life became overwhelming. Despite the hectic nature of life on the road, Falcón was never without a smile, a kind word, or a big supportive hug.

Those who had the opportunity to work with or know Falcón were impressed with his ability to conduct himself in a calm and professional manner; his life was a great example of excellence in leadership, life, and love. His passing is a tremendous loss to his family, friends, and colleagues and the wider entertainment community. His absence will be felt by those who knew him. If he could impart one passing wish, he would pose this challenge. Live your life to the fullest, with the same level of excellence that he did; make it your goal to be generous to anyone in need, expecting nothing in return; love without hesitation or judgement; and produce something of quality that will be pleasing to God!

A Go FundMe campaign has been created to support Falcón’s family during this challenging time:



Wednesday 15 May

Mindful Touring: Enhancing Mental Health and Welfare on the Road with Tamsin Embleton, Founder of the Music Industry Therapist Collective (MITC) and Author of ‘Touring and Mental Health: The Industry Manual’

Empowering Coldplay’s Music of the Spheres World Tour with Paul Traynor, Stage Manager and Head Electrician

Thursday 16 May

Freelancer’s Survey: An Insight with Paul Jones, Director at Ethix Management

There and Back Again: A Touring Tale with Chris Palmer, Managing Director at Rock-it Cargo

Reimagining ‘Live’: Unveiling the World of Virtual Events with Stu Phillips Tour Manager/ Consultant & Managing Director of House at Tours and Steev Toth, Tour Manager

The Modern age of Tour Management with Roeland Veugelen, Founder and CEO,

14-17 MAY 2024 • ROYAL MYCONIAN, MYKONOS, GREECE For more info:


As the Welsh reggae-metal outfit take on their largest headline London show in support of their latest album, Smile, Lighting Designer, Will Furze shares his two cents on the show.

South Wales hometown heroes Skindred over the years have become a staple within the UK alternative scene, with their energetic live show and the infectious personality of frontman Benji Webbe seeing them go from strength to strength. With such iconic moments during their shows including the now-famed Newport-Helicopter, which has seen crowds around the world swinging their shirts above their heads, a Skindred show is certainly not one you’re likely to forget in a hurry. Recently, this raucous cocktail of metal and reggae was brought to the iconic OVO Arena Wembley.

One person that had Skindred on his radar for some time was Lighting Designer, Will Furze. As a fan of the band, he jumped at the chance to join them on the Smile Tour

“O ver the course of that tour I was asked to design the set and lighting for the three big UK shows including Manchester Academy, Birmingham O2 Academy and the band’s

first arena headline show at the OVO Arena Wembley,” reflected Furze.

This campaign marked a real return to the industry for the LD who for several years had fallen into a different career path within the corporate world. Having bought a console back in 2019, he started working and touring with Skid Row as the UK and Europe LD as a side project that picked up momentum leading to ongoing offers for other artists.

“Skindred was a band I’ve always liked and was introduced to the band via a mutual friend,” commented Furze. “I’d gone into a corporate career, but I knew I wanted to get back into lighting as it’s my passion. Working with Skid Row presented a lot of great opportunities and I’m very much enjoying being back in the touring industry.”

The LD went on to explain that as this show featured OVO Arena Wembley on the schedule, there was a reasonable amount of pressure while being conscious of budget. “I wanted to

design something that looked massive,” to do the band justice, he reflected. “We discussed a load of ideas on the winter tour. Early on, we decided that video wasn’t something we wanted to bring in, instead opting for a traditional backdrop of the album artwork. We already had a set of big skrim frames with the Smile artwork sound system, so I was keen to use that imagery.”

This is where the LD had the idea of expanding the concept to the set decking, which was also dressed with the artwork. “This made for a big looking stage set without needing to use video,” he enthused. “When you have video, everything needs to be superbright, but they decided they wanted it to be moodier so the key light wasn’t super intense and obviously you can still see the band.”

An expandable concept and set design was another essential for this assignment due to the size of Wembley compared to some of the other rooms the band were playing in. “For

Words: Stew Hume Photos: Mark Latham, Claire Alaxandra and Joshua James.
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the OVO Arena Wembley date we had to double for floor package and our wings got extended,” explained the LD. “We also made some notable substitutions such as swapping out some smaller downstage floor beams for Claypaky Sharpy Washes.”

For the rest of the tour, the LD’s own Furze Lighting provided the touring floor package along with the control setup of an MA Lighting grandMA2 light. The package was then supplemented by Siyan for the OVO Arena Wembley show and included 40 Claypaky Mythos2, six Claypaky Sharpy Washes, 40 GLP JDC1, 24 Vari-Lite VL2600 Wash, six Ayrton Eurus Profiles, 16 CHAUVET Strike Array 4s and four Robe iForte Followspot System. Also on the rider were two MDG ATMe haze generators. The workhorse of the rig and responsible for creating the aerial and beam effects were Claypaky Mythos2. “I chose the Mythos2 as they are the best ‘hybrid’ fixture on the market,” Furze enthused. “I like the physical appearance and form factor of the Claypaky Mythos. The large front lens is aesthetically pleasing and looks fantastic on camera.”

Very early on in the design process, Furze spoke to the band and wider production about the possibilities when it came to special effects and lasers – which were provided by BPM SFX. “Lasers were something I brought up at a very early stage,” stated the LD. “We also included confetti and streamer shots for the Wembley performance to do the show justice.”

With the band heading Stateside following the UK run, Furze had the time to reflect on the experience. “There has been some amazing feedback and the band were blown away. We got some great comments about the production, even in the rock press, so I am pretty pumped about how well the visual aspect was received.” Moving forward, the LD reflected what his project meant for his new business, Furze Lighting. “Having a small business and owning all my equipment is a way in which I can be very cost effective. My niche is design and programming, equipment supply, particularly touring floor packages. The next project for me is the design, operation and supply of lighting for a national theatre tour with Postmodern Jukebox, my first run using grandMA3 software... It’s good to know that independent companies are still able to make tracks in the industry.”

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Lighting Designer, Will Furze of Furze Lighting.





The Italian indie-rock outfit call on the creative force of Ombra to design their latest ambitious live production. Show Designer, Lorenzo De Pascalis details his creative process and further explains how this tour pushes the envelope for homegrown Italian tours.

Having collaborated with Pinguini Tattici Nucleari during the band’s first stadium tour last year, Lorenzo De Pascalis and the wider team from Ombra were happy to jump back aboard with the Italian band. Their last stadium tour broke national records for the highest attendance number for a local act with 80,000 people coming along to their show in Reggio Emilia. “After such an achievement, we were excited to continue the band’s artistic journey and evolve the Fake News stadium tour into a full arena production,” stated De Pascalis, excitedly.

With the band having what De Pascalis described as a “playful sound” that is accessible to everyone he wanted to create a show that was incredibly colourful that also explored the term ‘fake news’ with several “tricks” that they wanted to play on the audience. “For example, we had Riccardo, the band’s singer, jump ‘into’ the screen for a song Zen. We also had him disappear from the stage during the song Ricordi only to reappear in the middle of the crowd. We wanted to create a magical feel for the entire show.”

The stage build for the tour was certainly ambitious with a set made up of three different floor heights along with five custom scissor lifts – one for each member of the band. “Each one of the lifts could move autonomously or in a group, creating a wonderful experience for

the crowd as well as the band, who could then see every seat in the arena.” On the topic of automation, De Pascalis pointed skyward to the flown rig which featured five lighting pods that were moved by Kinesys Apex Hoists.

“Automation and syncing the various platforms was a real challenge,” he stated. “Between the lifts and the pods, we had 40 cues of which most elements were moving together. The lifts were also a new product from an automation and theatre company called Dari. They created a whole new software for this project. After some tweaking, we got the pods and lifts synced perfectly.” He went on to enforce that the highest priority while working in the automation is always safety of the band.

For the main lighting rig, the Ombra team opted to keep things relatively simple with three festival-style trusses filled with Robe FORTE, Claypaky B-Eye K25 Washes, GLP JDC1s, ROXX RGB CLUSTER Blinders and Ayrton Cobras. “The FORTE is a great fixture with strong colours and effects,” stated De Pascalis. “It was our main workhorse on the show and was helpful to create different layers of colour.”

He also gave a shout out to Claypaky K25. “The effects and shapes helped create a different look for each song. Rotating them and turning on a different ring created some very interesting and unique looks.” Each of the

lighting pods hosted CHAUVET COLORado PXL Bar 16s along with the Prolights Halu Strip. On the floor on each step of the multi-layered stage was adorned with GLP JDC Line 500s.

On top of a 15m truss at FOH were six Robe BMFL Blades – each of which as controlled by a zactrack Smart System. “It was a really nice surprise how the zactrack system controlled the followspots, which was extremely helpful in creating cues, blackouts and strobing elements,” enthused De Pascalis.

All the lighting elements for the show were provided by Agorà. “They put together a team of technical beasts on this show,” enthused De Pascalis. “The dollies, pre-rig trusses, pods and ladders were all prepped and tested in advance and made every show and absolute breeze.”

Also aiding the production was ArtechFX, which supplied 16 Kvant Club Max 10W that were rigged and part of the floor package. it also supplied six pyro boxes and four MDG ATME Hazers. “ArtechFX has been a staple for several of my most dangerous request over the years,” said De Pascalis. “Every show their crew is well prepared and ready for everything, and we have a great workflow.”

There was also a sizeable video package on the show comprising an INFiLED curved LED wall along with a C shaped see-through screen that was also automated and two IMAGs flanking the stage. “We used two Disguise GX

Words: Stew Hume Photos: Ombra


3s running Notch content,” stated De Pascalis. “Additionally, data provided by Kinesys and the lifts was used to created real-time looks with Notch. When you have data available to create real-time visuals, it’s like a playground.”

Mod SRL provided the video elements of the show. “They keep us updated with new products they buy and let us know about new possibilities,” stated De Pascalis, happy to be collaborating with the company once again.

With so many elements to this show from automation to lighting cues, pyrotechnic hits through to real-time video content, Ombra put its faith in CuePilot to help organise this incredibly complex production.

“CuePilot’s software makes camera switching and timelines a breeze,” stated De Pascalis. “Cues for the automation, pyro, artist movements and many others were inserted in these timelines to let all operators and safety staff know exactly what was happening at

every point of the show... This was a complex production, especially for what we are used to in Italy,” he said, underlining the collaborative nature of the project. “It’s so important to work with the whole team to understand how we can improve, get better at designing and putting complex things together and it could not be possible without putting together some great people like Head Rigger, Filippo Lattanzi; Production Manager, Puccio Anatrella; Tour Director, Roberto Castagnetti and Technical Director, James Narduzzo.”

He closed by expressing his anticipation about what he, the Ombra team and Pinguini Tattici Nucleari come up with for their next production in 2025.

Ombra Founder and Creative Director, Lorenzo De Pascalis.

Tim understands live event industry technologies and their application and cultivates strong relationships to develop and strengthen your business. 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.

Tim takes care of your business, so that your customers can take care of the show. Int: +44 208 986 5002 | USA: 1-800 578 0144 @interfacio




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Spiralstagelighting shines for Calum Scott’s one-off special show at Hammersmith’s Eventim Apollo...

Previous winner of the Breakthrough Talent Awards at Production Futures, Elliot Baines has made strides both as the owner of Spiralstagelighting and as a Lighting Designer and Stage Designer over the years, and in 2024, the 20-year-old took on one of his largest projects to date, designing a show for Calum Scott’s recent Eventim Apollo headline show in Hammersmith, London.

“I met Calum a few years ago, and since then we’ve travelled through over 38 countries together in a two-year period,” he began. Wanting to begin The Songbook So Far tour as a fresh start to highlight the chapters of Calum’s career, Baines began by designing and programming the show at the Spiralstagelighting studio alongside Lighting Operator, Olly Walker and Systems Technician, Lucas White.

Baines embraced a geometric design that placed five rectangular pods in the spotlight that act as book pages of the songbook. “The frame idea came to mind from books; we also added a custom façade, that utilised Martin Professional VDO Sceptron 10 fixtures to dress the risers,” he noted.

“We added those to create a unique look by adding light to textured surfaces which created gorgeous light gradients.”

Performing a set made up mainly of ballads, Calum’s show doesn’t require a technical heavy rig, so Baines wanted to keep the show dynamic with height, depth and ‘eye candy’. He achieved this by utilising the set that Liteup

had built especially for this project. “Lighting and set in this show plays a big part, along with the beautiful ballads that tell the story we also wanted to tell the story visually through a theatrical design,” Baines commented.

Having set this benchmark and having Liteup onboard as lighting supplier, Baines’ workhorse fixtures for the show were the 45 Robe Spikies and 106 Martin Professional VDO Sceptrons.

“We used Spikies because of how compact and lightweight they are; we were able to create some satisfying eye-candy looks with the colour mixing and flower chips,” he enthused.

“A long with that, the VDO Sceptrons were almost everywhere; they are a great fixture to use to outline Calum and we also used it as our main fixture for pixel effects.”

Also on the rig were 20 Robe ESPRITES, 16 Martin Professional MAC Aura XIPs, 12 Ayrton Diablos, 12 GLP JDC1s and two GLP impression X4 Bar 20s. A total of 12 CLF Conan RGBW Zoom pars also shone alongside 10 Astera PixelBricks and 18 TMB Solaris Flare Q+ fixtures, with a Robe RoboSpot system also deployed.

Sy ncronorm Depence was utilised as the previsualisation software and Walker controlled the show using an MA Lighting grandMA3 console operating in MA3 mode – a transition the designer has made recently. “It took me a while to transition from the previous software, but I was persuaded,” Baines explained. “MA3 is incredible for touring, and the use of recipes really makes it organised, and fast to use.”

Working alongside his team at

Spiralstagelighting, which Baines founded, the LD spent hours experimenting with different looks, one of which included a custom staircase within a riser placed centre stage for Calum to climb mid-show. The riser is lined with two GLP impression X4 Bar 20s that backlight him. “It really helped with the telling of the story, and it helped the audience draw their attention onto Calum,” Baines added.

Despite the show running smoothly, logistical challenges were still a feat for Baines and the crew to tackle, especially on a run that had such varying venues. “Not all of the venues had huge load-in doors, so we needed to make sure the design fit into every venue,” Baines continued. “We didn’t have much rehearsal time as Calum was touring with Ed Sheeran before the one-off show, but we created an amazing result, which was due to the team, musicians and management.”

Aiding the smooth running and ensuring the show ran without a hitch was the wider team: System Technicians, David Peters and Adam Martin; Liteup Account Director, Marc Callaghan; Project Manager, Luke Hornbuckle; and Liteup Set Builder, Tom Robinson.

Upon reflection, Baines was proud of one of his biggest shows of the year: “This show was a great success, and it was a pleasure to help Calum tell his story through stage and lighting. The team did an incredible job.”

Words: Alicia Pollitt Photos: Luke Dyson
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Sound Services Ltd delivers Funktion-One sound systems for the third iteration of the annual event.

There’s a particular magic conjured in the harmonious energy of people who love working together, especially when there’s music at the heart of it. Midland at Islington Assembly Hall is one of those mellifluous things; a musical odyssey curated by the DJ, producer, and record label owner, held in a Grade II listed live music venue, and delivered with the support of a passionate team of creatives and technicians.

Saturday 16 March saw the third edition of an event which first emerged in October 2021 as a light at the end of the constrained months that preceded it. The event description for that first instalment laid out a lasting intention. Leap forward to 2024 and the ethos still stands tall. Midland, at the helm as the creative force, collaborating closely with promoter Percolate Music, production designers Parametrica, and audio specialist Sound Services Ltd with support from Funktion-One. “The creative all stems from Midland’s vision,” explained Percolate’s Simon Denby. “From the lovely artwork through to the sound design and lighting production. We then all work together

to realise the dream and pull off the vibe. We want to make sure that the show is a warm and inviting space to be in, allowing for intimacy as well as top-notch sound and lighting that you often only get at larger permanent venues.”

Carrying through the living room feel in a 900-capacity venue and making the crowd feel like they’re in a home from home comes through a thoughtful and considerate approach. Denby elaborated: “The show is a very extended DJ set, so we want the crowd to be able to come for a long day of dancing without straining their ears or bodies too much. The venue has a wonderful balcony setup that allows for a breakout space, but people can still see the action and listen to the music. Sound Services and Funktion-One work hard to ensure excellent sound throughout the space.”

Funktion-One’s Mike Igglesden supported Sound Services with the system design. He commented: “It’s an interesting space. Our initial aim in the first year was to create a fourpoint dance floor within the room, but due to the event’s popularity we expanded the system for a larger dance floor with main left right and

smaller rear points to create a delayed four point for a balanced sound under the balcony.”

The Funktion-One setup comprised front left and right stage decks of six Evo 7TH and four Evo 7TL with nine F121s in a monoblock and F101 out fill and Res 2SH in fill. At the rear, the two stacks featured pairs of Evo 6E, Evo 6EL and F121. Midland, who was positioned on the floor at the front, had PSM318s for monitoring.

“Sound has always been the most important make or break of any show I have played,” said Midland. “As a result, getting the sound right for the Islington shows was a priority and it’s been such a pleasure to work on the layout and sound for these parties with Mike and the Sound Services team. Each year I think it sounds a little better than before and each year we learn a bit more about what’s possible when all the elements are just right.”

Denby added: “The sound and wider production at this show is paramount, with a lot of the budget spent to make sure that it’s special and unique. It is a very complicated show from the perspective of installing top-end club sound and light for eight to 10 hours only.

Photos: Khris Cowley / Here & Now

“Everyone involved works some massive shifts to make it happen. Everyone must be on the same page, sticking to a tight schedule with really high expectations. We must rely on the excellent teams at Sound Services, Funktion-One and Parametrica to work with a council owned heritage venue; there is no margin for error.”

The combination of a characterful venue, dedicated production teams and an artist at the top of their game proved, once again, to be a winning formula. All who attended danced and raved afterwards about how special this particular show was. “The show is a labour of love for all involved; everyone sees it as a real year highlight and puts their all into it. From the lovely venue team bending over backwards for a very unusual show, to the amazing sound and lighting teams, to the logistics and artist teams working some long shifts and Midland’s mammoth sets. It is a team effort, and when the stars align after all that hard work it really shows,” Denby concluded. “The vibe in the room is next level and the crowd love it. The energy on the dancefloor is special, with great synergy between the music, production, creative and a beautiful space with a wooden dancefloor.”

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Lighting Designer, Lucy Harrison relies on ChamSys to help control the visuals for the band’s largest London show to date…

Words: Alicia Pollitt

Photos: Ian Coulson, Suzi Mue and Jez Pennington

Having started working for Enter Shikari as an SFX Operator in 2018, Lucy Harrison moved up the ranks, taking on the role of Lighting Designer. Having lit the band since 2022, she was more than prepared for the band’s A Kiss For The Whole World Tour. The Director of Pixeled Event Production had been a fan of the band for many years and this was very much a dream scenario for Harrison but not one without pressure, as for this cycle the band took on their largest London headline to date at the OVO Arena Wembley. However, despite the risk, the LD took the bold move to radically change her desk choice for this year, opting to move over to the ChamSys MagicQ MQ500M Stadium Console.

“I always s ay t he band are t he definition of d ynamic,” commented Harrison. “ From beginning to end we have k abuki drops, lasers, video, lighting and confetti but we still t ry to create t his intimate, immersive experience which in an arena is challenging.”

T he production also marked t he biggest show ever for Pixeled. “ We provide most of t he visual production in house for t he show w hich

means we have a f ully customised design,” st ated Harrison.

She continued to discuss her decision to change up her control setup for t he production.

“T he desk I was using previously just wasn’t clicking and its workflow just didn’t line up to how my brain works w hich led me to look for other options,” reflected t he LD as she ex plained how she ended up entertaining t he idea of switching to a ChamSys console. “ I am totally new to ChamSys. I had only used it very sparingly in t he past but t hen I bought a MQ500M w ithout k nowing how to use it but Ty ler Lloyd [Business Development Manager at ChamSys] and t he rest of t he ChamSys team have been amazing and answered all t he questions I asked.”

Moving to a new workflow and system was d aunting for t he LD, w ho described t he transition as being “ totally out of my comfort zone” but she quickly picked up t he moving parts of t he system and was impressed by t he ability to create 256 universes on t he back of it; this paired w ith t he GeNetix GN10 nodes was the perfect combination for Harrison. Working

with Enter Shikari often sees t he crew having to ad apt t he production f rom arena-sized shows such as Wembley OVO A rena to smaller shows that could have a 500-person c apacity. For Harrison, ChamSys stood for t his challenge and meant t hat she didn’t have to reprogramme t he whole show as t he venues changed by using the systems new feature ‘Group cues’. T he feature allows her to grab t he arena-sized show and drop it w here necessary allowing t he show to work how it was originally programmed As a new ChamSys user, TPi asked t he designer how t he desk had held up. It hasn’t sk ipped a beat,” she enthused. “ It is a heavy show, but ChamSys has been brilliant. I c an’t say enough how good t he console has been and t he support t hat comes w ith it; I ’m able to pick up t he phone at any t ime and t hey always answer, and t hey never make me feel stupid.” T he c amp had t wo MagicQ MQ500M w ith a MagicQ MQ250M Stadium Console at FOH for the support artists on t he tour t hat is configured as to not have control of Harrison’s main r ig and a second MagicQ MQ250M for t he side st age for t he lighting technicians to check t he


rig; all four consoles were networked together and worked off of the same show file.

ChamSys’ signature rubber duck has since become a symbol for fans, with many bringing their own rubber ducks along resulting in Harrison’s desk at FOH being scattered with them.

Being controlled through the console were 24 CHAUVET Professional Rogue R3 Beams used on the floor to create a prison for the song, Jailbreak ; also on the floor from CHAUVET were eight Rogue R3X washes and four Rogue R2X washes used on the B-Stage. Flown in the air were 36 ADJ Jolt Bar FX fixtures which formulated a grid in the roof and were paired with 24 Robe MegaPointes, 24 Spiiders, 10 BMFL Spots and eight BMFL Blades.

For video, the camp used 122 sq m of 3.9mm pitch LED video screens, the impressive 4m by 2m by 2m video towers were custom-made and built in-house. The video towers were also custommade and built-in house as to be suitable for Rou Reynolds to ‘fall in’ and sit upon, also custom-made at Pixeled were the video floor and ramp which

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boasted impressive visuals centre stage. For lasers, the camp used a mixture of 32W and 10W lasers which Harrison controlled through timecode cues that were programmed through Pangolin BEYOND software on the MagicQ MQ500M. Harrison also enlisted the aid of Showven’s Sparkulars and Sparkular Jets which were controlled by the LD, after taking control of most elements.

Highlights for Harrison are hard to choose from, with her being the main focal point for the entire creative of the show.

“I am the centre point for the visual show, looking after lights, lasers and SFX. There is a section in the song goldfǐsh when the remix comes in and the lasers come in bouncing to the drum and bass beat, it is so cool,” Harrison enthused. “It’s helpful that we use timecode because I’ve thrown a lot of details in that it would be impossible to run it without.”

The show took a substantial three weeks to programme, due to the complexities in the design and the multiple bells and whistles that Harrison had to run herself. There was one addition an Enter Shikari show would not be

complete without and that is their signature confetti. Pixeled provided eight MagicFX Stadium shots, and the two confetti hits were made eco-friendly by utilising biodegradable paper confetti and compressed air.

Looking back on t he c areer-defining Wembley OVO arena show, Harrison ruminated: “It has been overwhelming; it was one hell of a milestone for me but also for Pixeled as it was the biggest show we’ve put together. We’re a family and if we didn’t have that bond, the show wouldn’t be what it was, you can see how much love, energy, and passion we put into it.”

Rounding off t heir UK tour as t he huge London show saw Enter Shikari shift towards new heights, the band embarked on a European tour shortly after and t hen subsequently a US tour before returning to t he UK w here t hey w ill headline TRNSMT’s King Tut’s stage t his summer. Harrison will be with them every step of the way, both as a fan and now a creative behind their stupendous production.

Lighting Designer, Lucy Harrison controls visuals with a ChamSys MagicQ MQ500M.
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As one of the highlights of Latin America’s festival season returns to Monterrey, Mexico, TPi sits down with Production Director, Victor Gutierrez to uncover how the 2024 edition is pushing the limits of what is possible on the site.

Prior to the festival season kicking off in the UK, TPi turned its focus to Latin America to take a closer look at the production of Tecate Pa’l Norte – a festival that looks to redefine itself annually and create a unique experience for the hordes of music fans that descend on the site in Monterrey, Mexico.

Founded by brothers Oscar and Jesús Flores from Apodaca Music Group back in 2012, the team has continued to grow year on year, but despite this exponential growth, the festival is still a family-run operation – much to the joy of long-time Production Director, Victor Gutierrez. With the 2024 event now behind him, Gutierrez shared his thoughts on the event and what he saw as the major differentiators between Pa’l Norte and other festivals.

“A lthough I now live in Montreal, Québec it’s great to come down to Mexico as it’s such a vibrant region with tonnes of concerts and festivals,” began Gutierrez.

“Tecate Pa’l Norte is something special. It’s such a mix of genres and it feels fresh with each passing year. Not only that but it’s still independently run, and it means whenever we have new ideas about the production, I can

speak to the owners directly. It’s unique and the number of times I come to them with a crazy idea, more often than not they say, ‘go for it’.”

Gutierrez was also quick to complement his wider production team who aided in the overall creation of the festival including Stage Designer, Mauricio Del Moral; Lighting Designer, Eduardo ‘Toto’ Lopez; Video Director, Luigi Cuanda; Audio Director, Eduardo ‘Trosky’ Gonzalez, with stage management overseen by Salomon Soloveichik and site management by Sebastian Bejarano.

The 2024 event marked the 12th edition of Tecate Pa’l Norte. The festival welcomed 100,000 attendees each day and boasted nine various stages throughout the site.

“W hat’s great is that 90% of the equipment has come locally from Mexico,” enthused Gutierrez giving a major shout out to one of the key rental houses, SERPRO, who supplied lighting, video, audio, backline, and risers for the majority of the festival. “They have a huge inventory and can deal with the large amount of kit we require,” he remarked.

The festival certainly wasn’t short of technology, especially when it came to LED,

boasting some of the biggest video setups ever seen in the country, “Our main stage alone featured 1,327 sq m of LED,” said Gutierrez.

Throughout the stages, Serpro provided a range of various LED options including 2,654 panels of Triton Black Widow for the Tecate Light stage. On other stages, such as Tecate Original, the technical suppliers used a combination of ROE Visual CB5 and Triton Black Widow LED panels.

“We asked all bands to come prepared with video content adapted to our screens. We also had our own video content, which we partnered on with PRISMAX from Belgium who are responsible for some of the visuals seen at Tomorrowland,” stated Gutierrez.

He also pointed to the screens as another area where Pa’l Norte saw real innovation. “This year we partnered with DOG STUDIO who were working on a new concept of AI to generate images on the screens,” he stated.

By following a QR code printed on the festival beer cans, audience members could take an image of themselves which would then be manipulated by AI and shown on the screens. “This was a never-before-seen

Words: Stew Hume Photos: Tecate Pa’l Norte

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marketing campaign that brought the public closer to the brand and the stage,” Gutierrez proudly enthused.

He continued to discuss how in the build-up to the festival he looked to collaborate with the incoming productions, often suggesting that they do not bring a full lighting package and make better use of the festival’s design.

“A ll of our headliners this year just brought a floor package and backline, making the most use of our in-house rig,” enthused Gutierrez. “For example, blink-182 who headlined the second night, agreed to use the new CHAUVET Maverick Storm 4 SoloWash. This year, we were also excited to feature the MINUIT UNE Photons on our Club Social stage.”

On t he topic of pushing boundaries, Gutierrez spoke of the design process that went into each of the stages at the festival. “We’ve found local fabricators based in Mexico City that help build our stages,” he commented.

“E ach of our stages are designed by Mauricio Del Moral and then sent out to the fabricators. Most of the company’s backgrounds are in theatre design but they’ve done an amazing job in creating the stages.”

While also being very happy with the overall production of the festival, Gutierrez was keen to discuss the festival’s collaboration with the Academy of Live Technology at Rock Lititz, which saw two up-and-coming engineers be invited to the festival to gain some muchvalued experience on the festival site.

“E ach year at Tecate Pa’l Norte, we open doors for young individuals to join us not just to lend a hand but to ignite their potential and

fuel their growth,” commented Gutierrez. “With around 150 volunteers positioned across the various departments, we create a platform for them to discover their talents.

“T his year, we welcomed two promising young professionals to join us in the production department – Gillian Miller and Alex Smith –who both distinguished themselves as integral members at THE Conference: Live at Lititz, showcasing their talent and dedication.”

Al ways on the rise, Tecate Pa’l Norte is an unstoppable machine of ideas with aspirations of becoming the largest music festival in Latin America in terms of Production and new Entertainment. “Tecate Pa’l Norte is the most sustainable music festival in Mexico,” added Gutierrez, while listing some of the other ways the event is pushing the boundaries of the events industry.

“T he festival promotes the circular economy through the recycling of waste generated before, during, and after the event, facilitating its correct disposal and preventing 95% of waste from ending up in landfills.”

Another extremely important topic is helping its community of clients with disabilities. The festival had translators on-stage using sign language in English and Spanish, along with providing vibration sensory vests for its hearing-impaired community.

In closing, Gutierrez said: “We are proud of the festival’s efforts in this regard, but next year, the production department will explore how to improve these experiences.”

Tecate Pa’l Norte Production Director, Victor Gutierrez.


Independent production companies in the UK unite with US touring personnel to present a show comprising electrifying showmanship, timeless hits, and modern technology to ensure an unforgettable experience for fans.

Words: Jacob Waite Photos: Luke Dyson

In a landscape where the journey from bedroom musician to arena headliner can happen seemingly overnight with the right viral hook, NE-YO stands as a beacon of multi-award-winning talent – delivering 100 minutes of unbridled showmanship backed by cutting-edge production. From electrifying choreography to captivating storytelling, every moment of the Champagne & Roses Tour is a testament to NE-YO’s artistry. With a setlist boasting 26 era-defining hits, the audience is taken on a journey through the evolution of modern, contemporary music.

“We’re privileged to work with an artist like NE-YO, whose authenticity and genuine passion for performance shine through every aspect of his show,” remarked Tour Director, Ronnie Stephenson. “It’s a production that resonates deeply with fans, and the innovative touches we’ve added to refresh his extensive catalogue ensure an unforgettable experience for diehard enthusiasts.”

Af ter successfully completing several UK arena pitstops, TPi accompanied the production crew for the last UK show of their Champagne & Roses Tour before moving on to Ireland and Europe.

Sadly, this leg of the tour was overshadowed by the heartbreaking loss of long-time Production Manager, Joe Falcón, who had been with the NE-YO camp for over 12 years, touring intermittently since 2012s R.E.D. Tour

Insightful, gracious, and incredibly warm, Falcon regaled TPi with stories from the road and underlined the key to fostering a successful and harmonious environment

backstage: “My motto is ‘never problems, only solutions’ – that’s what I’ve learned in my years on the road and how I approach every show day. This run has been great; it’s been a blessing to have a good team to work with in the UK, and everybody shares the same philosophy of hard work and togetherness… that’s where my heart is. I’ve been in this industry for many years – I started out watching my dad load trucks as a kid – it is what I love to do, so when you find a team that unites and all aims for the same thing, which is for the audience have a great time, it’s a blessing to be a part of.”

Stephenson, who has been with NE-YO since 2006, detailed the discussion process behind this campaign: “We paid attention to modernising the show’s technology and refreshing his wardrobe and the music.

Musical Director, Adam Blackstone; Musical Programmer, Darek Cobbs, and Musical Consultant, Kawan ‘KP’ Prather went into the detail of refreshing some of the stems, using more modern sounds. As always, this was the result of the joint vision of NE-YO and Creative Director, Jamaica Craft, and we’ve been doing our part to produce and executive the vision.”

Part of Craft’s vision was an open stage design akin to an awards show with an unrestricted and clean stage, providing NE-YO and the dancers the space to perform and move around, while doubling as a canvas for the production to tell a story using technology and musicality.

“T he is a celebration of love, life, music and a whole gamut of emotions,” opened NE-YO,

appearing on-stage, donning an eye-catching red suit, after a theatrical kabuki drop and snifter reveal.

“T he musical direction of the show typically starts with NE-YO’s up-tempo tracks before transitioning into some of the more modern and emotionally charged material,” Stephenson said. “We’ve added what we refer to the ‘sexier’ portion of the show, which feeds into a narrative which NE-YO and Jamaica have done a great job of bringing to life.”

The show’s interlude sees the show’s host, Terrence Green, cycle through some of NE-YO’s vast back catalogue of writing credits, which the crew dub the “needle drop” section of the show, before closing on the “club bangers” such as Beautiful Monster and Let’s Go to a rapturous response – a sound that shares an affinity with Europe. “He’s a global artist, however, we switch around some songs on the setlist based on the charts and market that we’re in,” Stephenson said.

As NE-YO faithful will attest, he is an artist where movement is part of his brand. “It’s within his DNA,” Stephenson surmised. “There aren’t many modern artists who are able to hold soldout arenas in the palm of their hand, singing and dancing for 100 minutes. He’s a consummate performer. It’s an honour to watch.”

Case in point, Let Me Love You featured dynamic on-stage choreography and visuals. NE-YO begins with the modern, amapiano remix before transitioning into the original score with a dramatic pause and build in between.

“We have added special effects, which provide more power to the proceedings, and


every night the audience goes crazy. It’s the perfect example of the modernisation of the production,” Stephenson said. “It’s one of the best reproductions we have made and visually, it goes from zero to 100 within minutes.”

UK Production Manager, Peter Shorten of Axiom Events collaborated with Advance Production Manager, Joe Stenhouse of SJM Concerts to facilitate the adaptation and logistics of a pre-existing US amphitheatre design on a grander scale.

Their technical suppliers of choice included – proudly independent vendors, and primarily Northern firms – 3D Productions (audio), All Access Staging UK (staging and kabuki), Axiom (lighting, rigging and production management), BPM SFX (lasers and special effects), John Henrys (backline), LED SHED (video), SJM Concerts (promoter), and TRUCKINGBY.

“It’s nice to see a full team of independent companies working on a show of this scale,” Shorten remarked.

With no production rehearsals as a collective under their belt, the team’s biggest challenge was being ready for the first show, with Production Designer, Daunte Kenner flying into Leeds for five hours of technical preparation in between shows.

“His input was incredibly useful,” Shorten said. “We always knew that time was going to be our biggest hurdle on this run; by day two we were already a smooth operation.”

Another logistical challenge facing Stage Manager, Rich Gallagher and the team was imposed by the design of support act, Mario’s LED screen. “NE-YO has a big reveal moment

“Visually, everything is triggered in broad brushstrokes, while the finer detail on stage comes in the form of choreography and musicality. Nothing which draws from the performance.”

Kenner, Production Designer and Operator

at the top of the show, so there is a kabuki downstage of the risers that cuts off half the stage. To overcome this, we specified the use of an 8m by 2m screen, which we can fly into the grids during the changeover where it’s out of sight,” Shorten explained. “However, during the Utilita Arena Cardiff and Resorts World Arena Birmingham dates, where clearance height is at a premium, LED SHED was able to swiftly strike the screen for a smooth changeover.”

Reflecting on the success of the campaign, with extra dates added as the tour progressed, SJM Concerts’ Stenhouse noted: “This show has exceeded everyone’s expectations, which as a promoter you can’t complain about.”


“The storytelling has evolved over the years. There is more detail, the story is richer and much more personal,” said Production Designer and Operator, Daunte Kenner, who has been involved on curating NE-YO’s stage visuals for over a decade. “The last time I counted, I have over 46 songs programmed into my console, which is a lot of data to crunch!”

With no pre-production, Kenner had to hit the ground running. “We’ve been doing it for so long, with so little, now we get to see the full vision,” he said, relishing the prospect of triggering the varied toolbox of tricks at his fingertips.

Spanning the Litec and SIXTY82 trusses


featuring Lodestar and ChainMaster hoists with Guardian G-Pro motor control, the Axiom-supplied lighting rig comprised Martin Professional MAC Viper Profile, MAC Aura XIP; Claypaky Mythos 2; SGM Q-8; CHAUVET Professional Rogue Outcast 1 BeamWash; 2 Cell Molefay; Robe BMFL Washbeams on a RoboSpot followspot system and Hazebase Pro Hazer and Look Solutions Unique 2.1 Hazers for atmospherics, controlled by MA Lighting grandMA3 light and full-size consoles on a Luminex Fibre Gigacore system.

Instead of choosing specific fixtures, Kenner specified lighting instruments based on their creative capabilities, depending on the market.

To achieve a Tron -inspired look, the stage edges and video panels were etched in lines of lumens, specifically Martin Professional VDO Sceptrons. “One of my favourite moments of the set is Mirror. It falls within the steamiest and sexiest part of the show with the addition of lasers, encasing NE-YO in a dark and smoky ‘laser cage’ with expert choreography,” Kenner


enthused. The lighting and video elements were synchronised through careful colour matching and alignment. “Visually, everything is triggered in broad brushstrokes, while the finer detail on stage comes in the form of choreography and musicality. Nothing which draws from the performance,” Kenner explained. “RoboSpots cover the action onstage, which are particularly striking during the tracks, Let Me Love You and Beautiful Monster which rely heavily on key light.”

The lighting and rigging team included Crew Chief and Dimmer Technician, Robbie Baxter; Lighting and Rigging Engineers, Ryan Currah, Adam Millard, Josh Hunwick; Tour Rigger, John Dunn; and Set Crew Chief, Kay Ramnikkumar.


The production design featured five surfaces of video, including left and right IMAGs, which were used to enhancing the on-stage action. “Video content also enhances the detail of the complex choreography on-stage. If we do too much, it draws from the performance,” Kenner said, praising the on-site support of LED SHED.

“We’re a small company with a 6,500 sq ft warehouse that can handle two arena-sized tours simultaneously on occasion, but typically it’s our own team touring with our kit on the road, which guarantees a level of service and quality,” commented Video Engineer, Tom Levitt, co-founder of LED Shed, alongside

his brother, Luke. “We consider ourselves as freelancers with relationships and a large inventory of useful kit, which allows us to maintain a level of quality and consistency without stretching our resources.”

According to Kenner, the “most essential tool” of the show was timecode. The visual cues – from special effects, lighting, and video – were locked in and triggered from his MA Lighting grandMA3 console at FOH to ensure a “seamless” and “synchronised” show. “From a production standpoint, the high octane and impactful moments are enhanced with the use of timecode,” Kenner said.

The LED SHED-supplied video package included a Blackmagic Design ATEM Constellation 8K, a Camera Control Panel, ATEM 2M/E Advanced Panel, GreenGo Digital communications; Desay X5 LED panels and NovaStar COEX processors. LED SHED also provided feeds and infrastructure to support in-house PRG Mbox media servers, in house, controlled by Kenner.

“We are very specific with our camera choice,” Kenner noted, extolling the virtues of the rig. “They produce an unbelievably crisp and beautiful picture. Tom and the team ensure everything looks natural, vibrant, and beautiful on-screen. This system is designed with a smaller footprint, which requires as few personnel as possible to cover the most important perspectives of the show. Generally,

two people can capture the entire show.” The wider video team featured Camera Director, Luke Levitt; Camera Operator and Video Technicians, Gordon Davis, Devin Turner, and Joe Bond; LED Technician, James Miles.

Speaking more broadly about the unrelenting attendance of the shows amid a cost-of-living crisis, Levitt prophesised:

“People see going to events as a treat; people still want to invest in things that provide them with escapism and communal experiences.”


“This is my first tour with NE-YO,” Dubai-born BPM SFX Crew Chief, Phillip Mathew enthused. “I grew up listening to NE-YO’s music, so I was looking forward to this tour and it hasn’t disappointed!” Mathew, supported by SFX Technician, James Manning on site, oversaw the deployment of flown Sparkular Falls, downstage edge, Sparkular mk2s, G Flames, Psyco2 Jets and situated in the pit, in addition to Stadium Shots and Stadium Blasters. The special effects were triggered at certain predefined moments of the set by Kenner.

Among the key special effect moments were the tracks, So Sick and Sexy Love, which saw the use of Sparkulars, and Let Me Love You, which featured CO2, flames, and lasers.

“T he streamers are a special moment, which the crowd and all the crew look forward to,” Mathew stated. “So Sick is my favourite look

Intercom in the Cloud InfoComm Booth #C5515

with NE-YO sandwiched between Sparkular Falls and stage Sparkulars.”

The laser rig boasted three AC30s located on the stage left and right truss towers at a height of three metres. One was located on BPM SFX’s dedicated pyro truss in the centre aiming down above NE-YO, the band, and dancers, this also had an extra zone added to the down stage edge. Each laser moment was triggered via timecode, which BPM SFX Laser Technician, Olly Yates programmed according to Kenner’s requests and triggered from FOH using Pangolin BEYOND software. The tracks Telekinesis, Mirror, Beautiful Monster, Let Me Love You and Play Hard all featured laser moments. “I really like Mirror as it features an unconventional and unique use of lasers,” Yates explained. “We enclose NE-YO and the dancers in a ‘cage’ like effect, which required the crew in the pit moving Viper Deluxe smoke machines towards the centre of the stage at the right time.”



“Everyone at 3D Productions has been very proud to put together an audio package to support a sold-out UK arena tour by a large US artist that sounded fantastic. There is still a place for the independent supplier in largescale touring,” Audio Crew Chief and System Engineer, Alex Chapman began, praising the support of Project Manager, Hazel Plummer; Systems Technician, Sid Rogerson; FOH Technician, Pete Foulkes; Monitor Technician, Harry Le Masurier; Stage Technician, Kevin Gill

and Backline Technician, James Chrisp. “It had to be an exceptionally high-quality show and we were determined to give the touring crew the best experience possible and all the tools they needed, hence the level of support and experience we have on this project,” he said.

The audio package included a d&b audiotechnik FOH PA system featuring GSL on the main hangs, KSL on the side hangs, XSL on the 270s, SL-SUBs and Y10P fills with a mixture of D80 and D40 amplifiers, DS10 signal distribution, LM44 Lake Processors and XTA MX36 system control. “Designing a PA system for a sold-out O2 arena is always special,” Chapman remarked, extolling the capabilities of ArrayProcessing. “The software allows you to achieve consistency from show to show and seat to seat in every show, providing the FOH engineer with the tools to create a consistent great sounding show, for all audience members.”

FOH Engineer, Doreonne Stramler and Monitor Engineer, Henry Timothee mixed on matching DiGiCo Quantum 338 consoles, complete with Waves Soundgrid Extreme Servers and 32-Bit SD Racks on Optocore. 3D Productions also supplied a vintage Lexicon 480L reverberation and effects system and a package of Shure, Sennheiser and Audix wired microphones. Stramler helped curate the show’s sound design in collaboration with Playback Technician, Vernon Mungo, infusing the live elements of the Matrix band, supported by Backline Technician, Chauncey Floyd backstage, with track elements to create a

cohesive and modern sound design. “Everyone is on custom in-ear buds, so we have provided Shure PSM1000 IEM systems and flown d&b V series sidefills for monitoring and Axient Beta58 and KSM9 handhelds for vocals,” Chapman said. “It’s been a pleasure to collaborate with the wider production team on this run, it’s brilliant to see a completely independent production team delivering such a seamless service. The feedback from the audience and in particular the US touring party has been fantastic.”

As t he tour’s name suggests, after toiling away at his craft for close to two decades, NE-YO is finally able to get his ‘flowers’. As Stephenson so aptly put it: “Great artists evolve.” So Sick, which was his first number one, was released 18 years ago yet is met with a sea of teenage screams. “He makes the joke that he’s ageing gracefully and to see him at the peak of his performance right now is an honour. The younger demographic of the audience this time around, where they’re singing every word to songs older than themselves, is a testament to his ability to create timeless music and it’s our jobs to amplify that.”


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After a whopping 248 days on the road in 2023, Maisie Peters and her new-look touring camp return to the touring circuit with a tremendously dreamy production…

Words: Alicia Pollitt Photos: Luke Dyson and Sophie Scott

After becoming the youngest British female solo artist to scoop a number-one album in almost a decade, Maisie Peters is among the leading voices in modern British pop music, from busking on the streets of Brighton through to supporting Ed Sheeran worldwide [see TPi #270], and performing to a sold-out OVO Wembley Arena at the tail end of 2023. The singer recently embarked on yet another European tour, where TPi caught up with her production team at L’Olympia in Paris to delve into her growth as a 23-year-old artist and the broadening of her live output.

Introducing TPi to the camp on the second day of the tour was Tour Manager, Harry Bullas, of Riverjuke, who has been with Maisie Peters since 2018 and instantly made anyone outside of their touring bubble feel welcome: “We want you to come in and feel welcome because everyone is genuinely friends,” he began. “Last year, we were on the road for 248 days, so a lot of the core crew did over half a year with us and within that, we’ve been through thick and thin to four different continents.”

Tackling the brunt of the production is Bullas, who has taken on this responsibility since the start with Maisie Peters from 320-capacity venues to the 12,500-capacity OVO Wembley Arena where he had to enlist the help of Production Manager, Dave Glover to share the workload of an arena production. Thanks to Glover’s work with the camp, the crew ran like a well-oiled machine for the extra European run and subsequent Australia dates.

“As it grows our supplier relationships really matter,” Bullas continued. “We can run cleanly and a lot of that is because of the suppliers.”

Bullas and Glover brought along Zeppelin Nightliners and KB Event for crew, band, and equipment transportation: “Joining Maisie Peters on her latest tour was an absolute pleasure for us at Zeppelin Nightliners. It’s exciting to witness a rising star and be part of this journey. Looking forward to the road ahead of us into a very bright future,” Christian Weidenholzer of Zeppelin Nightliners enthused.

“For all of our suppliers’ good, you want to tell everyone in the world how good they are, but you also want to keep them for yourself,” Bullas commented.

KB Event provided a 45ft Megacube truck, steered by a selection of experienced drivers. “It was a pleasure to be a part of this tour and work with such a fantastic team,” KB Event Managing Director, Richard Burnett commented. “The synergy between both teams made every load-in a success and we couldn’t be prouder with the outcome.”

Lights Control Rigging (LCR) provided lighting after they had worked with the camp on the Ed Sheeran support dates. “We have been working with Maisie Peters, Tom Campbell and Mirrad since 2023. Its been a pleasure to support such fantastic team,” Gordon Torrington of LCR added.

MIRRAD handled lighting and show design, Clair Global took care of audio, Rock-It Cargo was entrusted with freight, and Glide Travel covered tour logistics.


The positive supplier relationships are felt throughout the camp, even at FOH where TPi met Lighting Designer and Director

of MIRRAD, Tom Campbell, who has been involved with the tour for several years but joined the camp on the road in Spring 2023 despite having operated the larger London or album release shows since 2021. MIRRAD and Campbell aided the camp before this tour by conceptualising the design and providing inhouse lighting designers with a detailed lighting setlist to make every show consistent.

Meeting Campbell in Paris, he shared his excitement of finally being on the road with the camp: “They have always had a show, but they’ve always had to be creative about how they have done it; to finally be out here is a different kettle of fish,” the LD enthused.

Before Campbell joined the tour, Bullas himself would light the show side stage on an Avolites Quartz, proving that even as a smaller production the camp were dedicated to creating a greater overall show.

Joining the tour has also seen other changes, with Campbell facilitating shadowing opportunities from Shadow Me Women, which is headed up by Paula Trounce.

The organisation gives aspiring and trainee industry professionals the experience not previously available.

“I t hought it would be wonderful to have something for our industry that could be a safe place for women to learn about the industry shadow professionals and get an insight into how it all works,” Trounce commented.

“Tom coming along with his tours and wonderful publicity has been incredible. Not only for the lucky ones who could join him on these wonderful tours but also for the ones that have joined the group because of him.”


Campbell added: “This tour is the best environment for it; it’s a safe place and when I asked Harry and Maisie it was obvious that this was something we’d do.”

Lighting the show on an Avolites Diamond 9 215 console, Campbell was situated on the balcony of the historic Parisian venue, looking out to the stage large inflatable clouds encircled inflatable lettering that read: The Good Witch, designed by Campbell in homage to Maisie’s number one sophomore album.

It was a design which the artist and Campbell conceptualised the last time they were in Paris: “Maisie said she wanted The Good Witch to look like ‘happy clouds’ almost like it was at the beginning of The Simpsons,” Campbell enthused. “I think we have nailed it.”

Creating a 3D depth to the stage and surrounding the clouds were MDG ICE FOG Compack where real smoke and fake clouds met to encompass the staging.

The whole set folds down into an impressive seven peli cases weighing 12kg each, giving the crew a transportable set and the space to save on freight costs. The workhorse fixture of the rig was the GLP X4 Bar 20, 41 of which encompassed the cloud design and the letters to showcase varying colours and weather conditions – throughout the show Campbell’s lighting expertise created moments of thunder within the clouds. “Every designer in the world loves them,” Campbell enthused. “We’ve hidden them around the scenic and they look so great.”

With a theatre background, Campbell stuck with Ayrton Domino LT moving heads to display

Maisie Peters at the back of the set and moved them around throughout the live show; LCR also provided two Diablo S fixtures. Five Martin Professional Atomic 3000 LED strobes were also included in Campbell’s design alongside seven VDO Sceptron 10s and 11 Cameo F2 FCs. Atmospherics came in the shape of four Smoke Factory Tour Hazer II units.

“T he setlist is a 19-song power set already without these songs, she is so prolific that I can see a show with an interval in the future,” Campbell added. “The show is theatrical already, and my background helps with that.”

MIRRAD Lighting Crew Chief and Technician, Chloe Boucher picked up the story: “I like knowing how things work – I always have.”

Boucher has been with the camp since July 2023 and ran the US leg as the Lighting Operator in Campbell’s place having also come from a theatrical background. Since joining the camp there have been milestones that Boucher has surpassed as a freelancer.

“Wembley Arena was the biggest show I’ve ever been a part of – it was chaos for 16 hours, but it meant that we’ve been able to iron out problems with the rig and the show was great,” she recalled, going on to praise the wider Good Witch team. “This group is great and I believe enjoyment is incredibly dependent on who you work with and there are so many women on this tour, which is really nice.”


FOH Engineer, Nathan Kennedy, talked TPi through his choice for the tour. “The design brief

FOH Engineer, Nathan Kennedy; Lighting Designer, Tom Campbell; Lighting Crew Chief, Chloe Boucher; Monitor Engineer, Michael ‘Fitzy’ Fitzsimons; Tour Manager, Harry Bullas; Drummer/Assistant to the Assistant Stage Manager, Jack Geary; Playback Technician, Nick Allott; Musicial Director, Joel Peat; Stage Manager/Guitar Technician, Stuart Quinnell; Merchandising Manager, Lucy Benninger


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for Maisie’s tour was centred around creating a seamless audio experience for her sound and style. Collaborating with Musical Director, Joel Peat and Clair Global’s Andy Walker prior to the tour was key to making this work.”

The engineer mixed on a DiGiCo Quantum 225 and had a rider featuring Lake LM44 processors and SMART software. “It shows me the phase responses and the frequency responses of what I’m doing to the PA,” Kennedy commented. “This way I can scientifically make sure that every show sounds the same.”

Sounding out venues across Europe can be a difficult feat, with varying sizes of venues, but utilising this software keeps Kennedy’s mix consistent even when not travelling with a PA.

The engineer personalised his console so the righthand side of the desk was used primarily for recording and tracking decibels, all of which very rarely dipped below 95dBs during the show. For the OVO Arena Wembley show, Kennedy adopted to utilise a Cohesion PA.

“For the London show, I opted for the Cohesion PA, a choice that was both a personal preference and ideal for my mix with Maisie. What sets this PA apart is its ability to deliver exceptional clarity across the entire sonic spectrum. From the deep, unbelievably musical lows of the CP-218s to the delicate nuances of Maisie’s vocals with the CO-8s, throughout the product range to the CO-12s, this system consistently exceeds expectations,” he said.

The drum kit created a noisy stage, especially in a theatre environment, so to tackle this Kennedy utilised a Rupert Neve Designs 5045 primary source enhancer to bring out

Maisie’s vocals in a more pronounced fashion, as well as adding screen protectors: “We’ve added circular screen protectors around the cymbals recently which is helping the sound be much tighter than it ever did before,” he added.

Having worked with Clair Global for 10 years before the tour, Kennedy is a picture of pride when talking about the supplier: “Clair have been fantastic, I’m very used to the way they work, and it has become second nature to me now to use them.”

For his mix, Kennedy keeps his EQ as flat as possible, even in the low mids to generate the warmth of sound. “The crowds generally likes the warmth,” he added. “It changes completely once the room is filled with people, but I generally try to stick with the same techniques for theatres and medium-sized rooms.”

Before embarking on a tour, Kennedy often asks himself if he can listen to the music of the artist for a prolonged period. “I could listen to this for as long as you want me to – the new album is fantastic and I think it’s even better than what she has done before,” he enthused.

Monitor Engineer, Michael ‘Fitzy’ Fitzsimons, has been with the camp since January 2023.“This leg has been reasonably flawless and that is a byproduct of the heavy schedule from last year,” he began.

Fitzy mixed on a DiGiCo SD10 and shared on an Optocore loop with Kennedy as well as an SD Rack and an Orange Box which picked up on bidirectional Dante and fed into playback.

Fitzy handled the RF, utilising two channels of Sennheiser Digital 6000 Series for Maisie with further channels allocated as spares. The engineer also ran four channels of Sennheiser

SK 2000XP-AW for instrument RF. “While all of my RF is Sennheiser, I’m splitting my panels into a Shure AXT600 and using Shure’s Wireless Workbench to do the coordination,” Fitzy explained. Another unique factor of Fitzy’s rig is that he carried a pair of Urei 1176 compressors.

“T hey always gather attention from local audio guys. The reason for this use is again to tackle the noise that comes from the drums on stage. The drums are attacky, and that sounds horrible in everyone’s in-ears,” he continued. “To solve this, I split them into two banks of channels, one goes to the band which is submixed into a stereo group but then I slam on the Urei’s before it goes to the band because there is so much going on in the low end.”

Despite having been in the camp for 14 months, Fitzy has witnessed monumental growth for Maisie: “My first show was in a tiny club in New Zealand,” he noted.

“It has gone from downstairs in a pub all the way up to the OVO Wembley Arena in such a short amount of time, who knows where it is going to go next. It is amazing to be a part of it.”


With a delayed entrance to the camp due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Drum and Playback Technician, Nick Allott finally joined the tour in March 2023 after completing prior engagements. Beginning his day, Allott ensures that the drum kit is all tuned and ready to go for the show, as well as ensuring the drum microphones are secured.

For this tour, Allott used Audix D6 microphones, another notable feature of the drum is the use of Roland PD8, and the TM-


6PRO Trigger Module that gets sent through iConnectivity mioXM. On top of the Nord Stage 3, the camp added a Roland Fantom synthesiser which goes through another mioXM via MIDI which then goes to RTP to the playback rig.

Despite having a live drum kit and guitar, the sound is processed electronically through Ableton so that Allott can add extra kicking snare or pads to the final sound of the live show. Joel Peat, Musical Director, and Guitarist of the show aided the Ableton integration.

“He has been so good at setting it all up, I know Ableton in and out and so does he, I’m there to be the man on1 the side while he’s on the stage,” Allott said.

“Joel has a controller on his pedalboard for starting and stopping tracks if he wants to change anything while on stage whereas I have an iPad, so we are both in control if needs be.”

Dedication to the tight-knit clan on the tour resulted in Allott missing the start of his honeymoon after tying the knot on 17 June 2023, so that Maisie could open the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury on 23 June, when asked if it was worth it, he was definitive in his answer: “Yes, absolutely.”

Stuart Quinnell, Stage Manager and Guitar Technician, joined the conversation: “I was asked to come to look at what Maisie was doing two years ago. I’ve been here ever since.”

Quinnell’s roots are founded in what he described as ‘stinky little clubs’. “That’s where the music is – they’re grassroots and so important,” he noted, which seems to be a factor in his passion within this camp: “Maisie started out busking, which I like a lot.”

Quinnell has seen Maisie go from strength to strength, starting with her at Omeara in London, to celebrating his 50th birthday by

breaking an attendance record in Melbourne on the Ed Sheeran tour to a headline show at the OVO Wembley Arena, and his philosophy? “Don’t be a grumpy old roadie, if you don’t like it, don’t do it.”

With a series of high-profile support slots lined up with Coldplay, Conan Gray and Noah Kahan, TPi, like the rest of her touring crew, are eagerly anticipating Maisie Peters’ next steps to see what lies ahead for the artist and her support team.

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Back by popular demand, Rick Astley and his hard-working touring team descend on arenas with a timeless production, featuring a kaleidoscope of colour, crowdsourced teddy bears, and two hours of unabashed showmanship.

Words: Jacob Waite Photos: Oli Crump and Lewis Kyle White

As the LED backwall lowered gently and the house lights dimmed, the guitar-clad figure of Merseyside-born singer-songwriter Rick Astley, backed by an impressive collection of vocalists and musicians, took to the stage at Liverpool’s M&S Bank Arena for the touring equivalent of a guard of honour on this final night of the run. Met with the usual chorus of screams and cheers, the evening was special for the those on and off stage, having successfully masterminded a series of shows across the UK and Ireland, and fundamentally answered the tour’s self-imposed question: Are we there yet?

Production Manager, Tori Lucion of 24/7 Productions – who has been with the Rick Astley camp since 2017’s 50 Tour of theatres and pavilions around the UK – believes the singer-songwriter’s recent shows are “bigger and better” than ever.

“I was initially employed as a Drum and Playback Tech. The gig has grown significantly in recent years, and as the campaign topped the charts, we made the jump up from touring backline in the back of splitter vans to carrying systems and rigs that require trucks. The crew and band have also grown, so the shows are getting bigger and better,” he explained.

“T he creative goal as presented by Rick and management this time around was to have Rick and the band scaled up as large as possible on the screen, following on from the success of his Glastonbury performance and a great festival run, which culminated with BBC’s Rick Astley Rocks New Year’s Eve,” Lucion recalled.

“I t hink 2023 caught a lot of people by surprise in terms of the level of performer that Rick is and how well he comes across on camera as a showman, which is crafted through

years of his own hard graft, so it made sense to present that to the audience as best as we can.”

The team shifted their focus away from premade visuals and utilised bespoke video content created by Pixels & Noise and through detailed collaboration on architectural layouts, colour grading and aspect ratios with Rick and Manager, Lene Bausager.

A template was formulated for each song, which allowed Video Director, Jamie Cowlin to work his magic – masterfully cutting and directing eight cameras pointed at the stage with some reverse shots thrown in for good measure – while Lighting Designer, Ali Pike programmed and synchronised the visuals.

“Lewis, Jamie and Ali put a lot of work in to getting this show up and running from a creative point of view, seamlessly combining the editorial and tailored video elements with the classy yet vintage lighting feel,” Lucion said, extending his praise to the support of 24/7 Productions (production and tour direction), Adlib (audio, lighting, rigging and video), Bite Tour Catering, CSE Crosscom (communications), Fly By Nite (trucking), Phoenix Bussing (crew travel), Pixels & Noise (video content), and triplex (audio control).

“T he support we receive from our suppliers is second to none, from all the initial discussions with account handlers, to the technical teams dealing with the constant back and forth as the show’s creative was fleshed out and developed within such a tight timescale and turnaround with two weeks from creative sign-off to show delivery,” he said.

“T hey have done a fantastic job across all departments, with an excellent delivery of service and have been on hand to deal with pretty much anything at any time of day. I

cannot applaud them enough for dealing with everything we threw at them with patience, grace, and creative thinking.”

The team’s main logistical challenges during the build were aligning three sections of LED screen hangs and Martin Professional Sceptron lighting fixtures placed on the video truss sections to create a cohesive and seamless look. Routing was also not always in their favour: “The nine-hour drive between Cardiff and Glasgow meant we were four-and-a-half hours late to our load-in at the OVO Hydro, but we still managed to get the show up and running and ready for soundcheck, which is a testament to the hardworking crew whose tireless efforts made it possible,” Lucion said, underlining the pragmatism of the tight-knit camp.

Production Coordinator, Eva Martin of 24/7 Productions, supported Lucion with the dayto-day. “I love working with 24/7 Productions; everyone is such a close-knit family style of crew, looking out for each other, working hard, and having fun. I enjoy the logistical side of the business, and I’m hoping to develop my technical knowledge as this tour progresses, picking up more responsibility, and learning as I go along,” she enthused, reflecting on the journey. “It’s been a pleasure to work with such a wonderful team.”

St age Manager and Set Carpenter, Lewis Underwood oversaw the stage build, maintenance of marley, and breakdown each night. “It’s been good fun; I’ve built risers and done some set carpentry roles before but nothing to this scale… Marley is something I’ve never worked with before, which I have learned a lot about over the past three weeks,” he laughed, sharing some newfound tricks of the trade. “Who would have thought that a tennis




ball would be the best way to get rid of marks on it?” As a one-man department, Underwood tapped into the pool of local stagehands at each venue. As on every tour, some local crew members were more passionate or experienced than others, which required an extra arm around the shoulder to direct, coach or teach them how to build the set safely.

“It’s definitely a people management job,” Underwood remarked. “The two risers which we strike in the changeover for Rick aren’t rolling, which relies on us to dismantle and carry them off by hand, but other t han t hat it’s a fairly st raightforward setup.”

Wardrobe Assistant, Edie Dawson, dressed Rick Astley – the only performer with multiple changes – in addition to four band members, two backing vocalists and three brass musicians. “ My first ever tour was w ith this camp in 2021, so it’s nice to return and be surrounded by so many familiar faces… Rick’s go-to stage attire is suits – he travels with around 11 suits, which generally get brighter in colour as the set progresses, before he changes into the iconic blazer, T-shirt and suit pants synonymous with Never Gonna Give You Up,” Dawson explained.


When she is not surrounded by teddy mascots at FOH (more on that later), Lighting Designer, Ali Pike – who splits her time between the People’s Republic of Liverpool and Scottsdale, Arizona – can be found hiking, climbing mountains, and fostering senior dogs.

Over a coffee in c atering, t he designer retraced t he roots of t he project: “ We want t he show to look timeless, stylish, and fun,” she commented. “Although it’s a pop show, we are

conscious about colour choices and how we use certain lighting fi xtures to make sure it doesn’t turn into an ’80s disco.”

Drawing inspiration from the artist’s vast back catalogue, Pike features the colour palette associated with the iconography of each passing album in his live output. “More saturated colour been added, which stems from the rig I’ve selected to create rich washes and colour gradients,” Pike noted.

Spanning the Tyler GT and angled trusses was Martin Professional Sceptron VDO10 1m and 320mm sections, which lined the mid and video trusses, as well as the risers. Followspots came in the shape of Robe FORTE with RoboSpot controllers on advance truss and a central rear spot. Martin Professional MAC Ultra Performance units made up the bulk of the moving light package with an upstage truss boasting vintage-looking Robe PATT 2017 fixtures on t he mid, f ront, and advance t russ sections. A floor package of GLP JDC1 and Ult ra Performances were supplemented with MAC Aura XBs as sidelight, all controlled by an MA Lighting grandMA3 full-size console with Luminex data distribution.

A regular tool of choice for Pike, previsualisation was achieved by Capture software. I find it very user f riendly, incredibly accessible and it provides me with a realistic sense of how t he fi xtures would be used in realtime as opposed to a 2D plot, which generally means little to artists and their support teams,” Pike s aid, explaining her fi xture choice.

“I love using Ultras in my designs, and they’ve worked fabulously on this run. Sceptrons are a classic and a budget-friendly way to have a lot of fi xtures to play w ith – even in segment mode, they provide me a lot of

creative capabilities, particularly on the risers,” the LD said, walking through the rig. “I’ve never used the PATT 2017s before; they were a wildcard, but t hey fit w ith t he brief of making t he show feel timeless and we generally use them as eye candy.”

Pike elaborated on the synchronisation of visual departments: “ I’ve enjoyed working w ith Pi xels & Noise, bouncing ideas back and forth during overnight programming sessions. I want to incorporate virtual set pieces in future like t he v irtual lighting fi xtures generated in the content, that I can manipulate the colour of. This is something that spanned from experimenting in production rehearsals at LS Live with Lewis Kyle White.”

To ensure the video content was aligned with the lighting without being detrimental to creativity, it was “essential” to operate the show on t imecode, according to Pike: It allows me to add a level of detail that the video department appreciates – things like preload times for fading key light, and the timing of that being consistent each night, is helpful for them, and it allows me to take notes and make tweaks,” the LD noted, referring to the recent creation of the ‘death rainbow’ for the Rammstein-inspired track, Kunsthaus

“I generated an RGB thing across the Sceptrons and, without giving it any thought, copied it over to every fi xture on t he r ig. It’s resulted in a bizarre-looking colour effect across the whole rig, which I’m then strobing –it’s quite offensive and not w hat you’d expect from a Rick Astley show, but it’s incredibly fresh, new, and exciting.”

While Pike enjoyed experimenting w ith gradients and colour effects w ithout turning the design into a “multicoloured cheese-fest”,


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she acknowledged making considerations with lighting for a seated show: “I’m constantly checking my focusses to ensure the people sat at the back of the venue haven’t got a constant battering of Ultras on their face and those in front aren’t constantly flashed – I’m very much lighting the stage and the artists, because as much as they may want to dance along, they also want to watch the show.”

With these considerations in mind, Pike shared her enthusiasm for touring at arena level, having cut her teeth on the academy circuit: “Despite the coldness of arenas, having the consistency of the rig each day means you can make fine adjustments and improve and hone things constantly.”

Before bidding adieu to Pike, TPi addressed the elephant – or, to speak literally, the teddy bears – in room. “I have been touring with my own little teddy bear mascot for over 16 years from when I was first out with The Wombats, but Rick fans have suddenly noticed this and have been bringing us bears to join the gang,” Pike explained, referring to the dozens of stuffed mascots surrounding her grandMA3, whose adventures are documented on the @roadie_bear Instagram page. “

All but mine will be going home with Rick and Lene after the tour though – one is quite enough for me.” Pike was supported by the Adlib team of Lighting Crew Chief, Neil Johnson; Lighting Dimmer Technician, Martin McLoughlin; and Lighting Technicians, Nathan White and Ross Gilmour.


“It would have been easy to go down the route of creating retro visuals, but Rick’s output and fanbase has evolved since then,” began TPi Award-winning Content Designer, Lewis Kyle White of Pixels & Noise.

For the anthemic Never Gonna Give You Up, the video content saw a collage of Andy Warhol-inspired pop art grids of the famed ‘rick roll’ dance from the original music video, with Pixels & Noise crowdsourcing as many ‘rick roll’ attempts as possible to process and reanimate to celebrate and embrace the viral nature of the song. “Content was created in line with his performance style for certain songs to match the cadence and energy of the music, which constantly inspired more creative avenues to take the visuals,” he explained.

The bulk of content was generated using Adobe Premiere Pro, AfterEffects and Notch software, and was designed in a way which could be implemented as interchangeable blocks, that could synchronise with lighting.

From the grandMA3, Pike was able to change and manipulate the backdrop of the video screens to synchronise the content and lighting. Certain set pieces could remain for a few songs, but colours could change.

“Fundamentally, every track has bespoke content programmed to match the flow and musicality of the setlist,” White remarked. For Rick’s cover of AC/DC’s Highway to Hell custom content, filmed by Peter Neill/Shoot the Sound made up the backdrop to the visuals.

FOH Engineer, Matteo Cifelli; PA Technician, Louis Grogan with Delay Technician, Dave Cartwright; Lighting Designer, Ali Pike; Notch Rehearsals Programmer, Harrison Mead, Illustrator and 2D Animator, Elettra McConnell and Content Designer, Lewis Kyle White with Rick Astley.

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Following some minor edits and tweaks, Pixels & Noise sequenced this content to the music so that the video hit the ideal points of the track.

The wider Pixels & Noise team featured Illustrator and 2D Animator, Elettra McConnell; Content Video Editor, Joanna Apps; Previsualisation and Disguise Programmer, Ray Gwilliams; and Notch Rehearsals Programmer, Harrison Mead. “It was a pleasure to be involved in this project, collaborating with Ali Pike, Jamie Cowlin, and the wider team to ensure the entire visual package was cohesive and synchronised,” White stated. “It was a brilliant environment to work in.”

In selecting his favourite looks of the show, White referenced the simplicity of the opening of the show, which featured a theatrical transition from the lighting rig to on-screen video content. “It was understated and classy,” he noted. “Ali was able to use the screen as a lighting device with no real parameters or concept of where the screen ends if you’re seeing it as a member of the audience.”

The 12m by 8m central wall and two angled walls were made up of 5m by 8m ROE Visual Black Quartz 4.6mm LED panels with HELIOS processing. The video rider also featured a Ross Carbonite 2M/E 4K PPU and Engineer Core and a Disguise gx 2c media server rack, built by Adlib. The camera package included UC4000 Panasonic Broadcast channels, a UJ90 box lens camera at FOH; pit cameras on rolling spider dollies with CJ15 lenses; a further two Panasonic AW-UE150 remote cameras on straight stands on stage with an AW-RP120G remote controller in addition to Marshall Electronics POV lipstick cameras. Video Crew Chief, Kieran Bruton; Video Server

Technician, Toby Nares; Video Racks Engineer, Paul Maddock-Jones; Video LED/Camera Technicians, Jude Butcher, Stuart Anthony Thatcher, and Philip Hesketh made up the Adlib video team.

“T here’s quite a lot of programming and work behind the scenes to get this package show ready,” Adlib Account Handler, Dave Eldridge commented. “ROE Visual Black Quartz is relatively new stock for us, and they are great touring LED panels. The space created by having the video wall upstage in this dimension made for a nice and clean stage, and a visually striking show. It was a pleasure to collaborate with the team to make their collective vision for the show a reality.”



The triplex-supplied control package included a Yamaha PM7 console and RPio622 I/O Rack Stage Box for FOH Engineer, Sam Parker (Matteo Cifelli deputised for Parker at FOH from the M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool date and Europe onwards). L-Acoustics X8 and LA4X monitors were specified as nearfield speakers, while also supplied were: a DiGiCo Quantum 5 console and SD-Rack with 32-bit Stadius input and output cards; eight ways of Shure Axient Digital with a mixture of ADX Handheld transmitters for vocals and ADX1M Bodypacks for the brass section; six channels of Axient Digital for the guitars and bass; 16 channels of Shure PSM1000 IEMs with all RF managed via Wireless Workbench with remote control of the transmitters via a Showlink access point.

“DiGiCo SD5 is my desk of choice because I know it inside and out – I’ve never found anything it can’t do and it’s comfortable. It’s a

home away from home for me,” explained cave and sky diving enthusiast and multiple awardwinning sound engineer, Samantha White.

In addition to mixing Rick, the band and backing vocalists, White also oversaw the communications system; she noted the extra infrastructure within the DiGiCo desk, like the meters and macros being close to hand for example, as conventions which made “life a bit easier” to mix. The engineer shared how she arranged her fader bays – outputs on the right, inputs on the left and any extras, which she dubbed, the “utility stuff” in the middle.

Having recently struck a deal with the company, those on stage adorned Cosmic Ears’ flagship CE6P in-ear monitors. “For vocalists, they’re phenomenal in the mid-range with their presence peak, and they really work on Rick’s voice and baritone range. His mix is everything with his vocals sitting a couple of dBs on top, and a lush long reverb I create using Waves H-Reverb Hybrid Reverb plug-in. Overall, it’s an ambient heavy mix which Rick likes, which is amplified when he throws his microphone to the crowd, as a lot of his songs require a lot of call and response.”

Aston Starlights and AKG c414s on the lip fill picked up atmospherics. Backing vocalists used Shure Beta 58a with Axient Digital, while Rick used a DPA Microphones capsule. “It’s got a real presence, bite, and smoothness where it matters on Rick’s vocal. It suits him, and we also have DPA 4099 microphones on the brass section,” White stated.

Adlib supplied an L-Acoustics PA system with K1 on the main hangs; K2 on the downfill and side arrays; KARA II on the rear arrays; flown KS28 subwoofers; a centre fill of KARA


II; KS28 ground subwoofers; A10 and A15 wide ground fills; LA12X amplifiers as well as a KSG RECLINE Laser Inclinometer system with a rack mounted display. “This is my first time working with Adlib and their support has been brilliant. The crew has been great,” Systems Engineer and de facto crew photographer, Oli Crump commented, extolling the virtues of the L-Acoustics PA system responsible for conveying FOH Engineer, Sam Parker’s sound design. “L-Acoustics is mine and [FOH Engineer] Sam Parker’s preferred PA system. I’m not doing anything overly creative; it’s providing a consistent sounding system, which the tools provided by L-Acoustics allow me to do so.”

The team carried K1 and K2 loudspeakers, which were reconfigured on the side hangs, depending on the size of the venue. At Leeds’ first direct arena, the team hung more loudspeakers on the side hangs, as opposed to the main hangs, whereas venues like Liverpool’s M&S Bank Arena required more speakers on the main hangs and fewer on the side.

“I like being able to manipulate that configuration and move K1 and K2 around seamlessly, depending on the venue.” For a few of the shows, the team deployed a delay system


Resilience and infrastructure management including backup switching and automation

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Touring around the world PRODIGY- uncompromised performance

– two hangs of KARA II. However, for the larger spaces, four hangs of KARA II were selected to move the audio to the back of the room, and in Crump’s words, “ensuring every person hears the same show, regardless of where they are in the venue”.

On site, Crump reinforced that arenas are, by definition, harder rooms to mix in: “You have more distance for the sound to carry, a louder reverberant field to overcome, hence the inclusion of delays in longer and more challenging rooms. I’ve found touring this room in the past that the sound has been a bit distant in the back of the room, which is why we’ve implemented delays this time around. While this is the A rig, we put in a reduced rig for the Bournemouth Int’nl Centre show.”

Processing was achieved by Adlib’s newly invested DirectOut Technologies PRODIGY.MP, requested specifically by Crump. Adlib Account Handler, Richard ‘Richy’ Nicholson collaborated with the crew to ensure the system was exactly to specification.

“It was great to collaborate with the Rick Astley touring team and our partners at triplex on this project. Although my background is in touring, the technology has come on leaps and bounds since I left the road, so working with Oli and Adlib engineers to deploy PRODIGY. MP was exciting,” Richy said, speaking to TPi shortly after Adlib was crowned TPi Awards’ Favourite Sound Rental Company.

“We were incredibly proud to win. It’s nice to be recognised by your peers as a company

and see so many familiar engineers that we work with on a regular basis also honoured, shortlisted, or nominated by the sector.”

RF/Stage Technician, Ben Bannister supported White in monitor world, while the Adlib audio team featured Account Handler, Richard ‘Richy’ Nicholson; Lead PA Technician, Max Taylor; SL PA Technician, Marci Mezei; SR PA Technician, Louis Grogan and Delays Technician, Dave Cartwright.

“Benji is great at all the things I’m rubbish at,” White said, modestly. “Nowadays, you need to tour as a teenager to understand the networking and computer stuff. I remember doing the analogue switchover as an engineer – I used to mix on Yamaha PM5s and PM1Ds, and Digidesign desks – and I’ve developed skills on Axient Digital and Showlink but RF control is advancing faster than I can keep up with, so while I keep an eye and an ear on what’s going on, on the stage, Benji, who is a talented engineer in his own right, has put a 30-channel RF system and back-ups together, which makes my life easier,” White commented, further commending the service of triplex.

“I love their side racks and how they package their gear. I can have monitor world packed down and rolled out of the building within 22 minutes after the last note of a show. It’s prepared right and Benji maintains it.”

Among the ever-changing, 22-song setlist, White’s favourite song to mix is the first track of the encore, Maria Love. “It’s a bluesy, country number which is very catchy,” she said, citing

the sold-out AO Arena show in Manchester as a “special” moment. “Rick’s music has stood the test of time. Not only is he a fantastic singersongwriter and performer, but he is also an equally talented musician with passion and humility which shines through on stage while being humble and approachable off it.”

These sentiments were echoed in all the conversations TPi had on site, often within spitting distance of the singer-songwriter, who casually interacted with his crew on a personal level – investing in their penchant for exchanging photos of their pets and the proliferation of teddy bear mascots.

For those now at the helm of the production, responsible for putting together the pieces of the unrelenting Rick Astley stage renaissance puzzle like Tori Lucion, this was a testament to the production’s success: “It’s an absolute pleasure and honour to be working for a great performer, showman, artist, multiinstrumentalist and all-round amazing human being who really cares about the people and team surrounding him – who he gives a heartfelt thanks to every night on stage – and you know he means it.”


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With tracking becoming an increasingly important aspect within live events, TPi gathers several manufacturers to find out about the latest developments in the field and why tracking is a practice that every events department now takes an interest in.

Words: Stew Hume

Photos: Robert Juliat, Robe, Follow-Me, BlackTrax, zactrack and Naostage

Very early on in my time at TPi – around 2016 – I was invited to The O2 arena for a special demonisation by PRG showing off its then brand-new GroundControl product, which looked to revolutionise the way productions used followspots. The company’s remote station removed the need for operators to climb ladders into the rafters to work a manual spotlight. Nearly a decade on, the remote followspot, in numerous guises, is now ubiquitous, and this solution has also created a discourse around the term ‘tracking’.

As of 2024, tracking has gone far further than just a solution for followspots, being utilised in multiple technical departments on a live production. From video to audio, lighting to automation, tracking is becoming the common language spoken among production crew and as such, we at TPi thought we’d gather a few leading voices in this field to get their thoughts on the burgeoning solution.


“For Robert Juliat, ‘tracking’ has been part of our DNA since the late ’60s when we started to design and manufacture followspots,” began Séverine Zucchiatti, Robert Juliat Communications Manager, as we discussed the theories of tracking. “Followspots are clearly tracking systems in that they enable the ‘follow’ part, tracking a performer as he or she moves on stage and changing the beam direction, size, colour, and intensity of the light. A manual

followspot does not match with the modern definition implying automation aspects.”

When it comes to this more modern definition, Robert Juliat’s contribution to the conversation has been SpotMe. Unveiled in 2017 at Prolight + Sound and earning a PLASA Award for Innovation in 2018, SpotMe was considered worthy of the accolades because of the approach the company took to followspot tracking using an open protocol to provide position data to the wider production. The system is bolted onto a manual followspot and from this data is then able to interact with other fixtures within the rig, meaning a single operator can work multiple fixtures.

“Our solution has a different approach from the other systems available on the market today, as many of them rely on beacons and receivers, or video cameras for feedback.”

Zucchiatti highlighted that by its very nature, SpotMe is a combination of manual operation and automated controls. “In 2019, we also released a new accessory for SpotMe, developed in collaboration with tracking specialists zactrack, named Maestro,” reflected Zucchiatti. “The Maestro server is a rackable unit that plays a key role when the lighting console is not PSN (PosiStageNet) compatible. It calculates the orientation of the moving lights for them to follow the same points given by SpotMe. This hardware and software update extends the capabilities of SpotMe by enabling it to operate with any DMX lighting console.”

While Robert Juliat opted to adapt the existing followspots on the rig to start creating real-time tracking data, one path that some companies took was to create a solution where followspot operators could track performers via cameras and using a control station to remotely direct a fixture on the rig. One such example is Robe RobeSpot. The RoboSpot gives direct, handson operator control via a screen.

“RoboSpot is arguably the most widely used remote controlled followspot system in use today,” asserted Robe Product Specialist, Dave Whitehouse. “It’s used on theatre shows, events, tours, festivals, and concerts. Its success is due to multiple features including rapid set up, multidevice control capability and ease of use. High-profile broadcast shows such as the Eurovision Song Contest in 2023 and others have proved their reliability not to mention precision.”

Under multi-device control, several fixtures can be used simultaneously with the RoboSpot system, giving the lighting designer huge flexibility and many creative options in terms of swapping fixtures or followspots on an artist as they move around the performance space, choosing the ones that gives the best angles.

“Remote Tracking as a concept is really exciting,” enthused Whitehouse, who added a note of caution, saying that the practicalities haven’t yet caught up with the theory.

“Reliance on multiple protocols raises issues of interpretation and delay. For us, hands-on


direct human operator control gives the best, most consistent and accurate results.”


In a similar field to the RoboSpot and another company that should be considered in the tracking conversation is Follow-Me. Founded by Gary Yates and Erik Berends Follow-Me’s solution delivery sees an operator remotely control lighting fixtures by providing the positional data of a performer on stage via a control station. “The seeds were sown in 2013 when one of the founders was still touring and wanted a flexible, and easy-toimplement follow-spot solution for this bands’ performances,” stated Follow-Me Technical Sales Manager, Alistair Smyth. “The industry wanted and needed an alternative following solution. Designers needed follow spotting to be possible, using any moving light from any angle, changing on a cue-by-cue basis, taking away any obstacles or positioning aspects of the source. At this point it was largely a functional solution but it didn’t take long for it to be seen more creatively.”

In terms of highlights for its portfolio, FollowMe launched the 3D TWO and SIX in 2019 followed by Track-iT audio tracking in 2022. “Both launches highlighted our philosophy to offer options for designers, without limitations,” stated Smyth. “We’ve also produced several additional features based on discussions with designers, such as the recently implemented

Proximity feature, offering the ability to use positioning data for conventional lights.”

Follow-Me Product Manager, Tim van Dijck, highlighted some of the projects the company had been involved in over the years: “We’ve been fairly established in the touring market for a while, most recently working on U2:UV Achtung Baby Live at Sphere [see TPi #279], Beyoncé’s Renaissance Tour and Madonna’s The Celebration Tour [see TPi #280],” he enthused. “We’re currently on Ed Sheeran’s +–=÷x Tour [see TPi #270], The Rolling Stones Hackney Diamonds Tour and other big tours by Luke Combs, Neil Young, Feid and J Balvin.”

The Follow-Me team has always been aware of the reach the tracking solution could have on wider production. “We’re already working with clients in audio, video, stage automation and cameras,” stated van Dijck. “We already have the OSC and PSN protocols implemented to interface with other technologies, and we can work with all of them simultaneously with just one system. We have no limitations, neither will the other technologies. You can scale up your system without a limit and without having to change any component that you’ve previously purchased. We simply must align and offer the best products, best integration and best future to the client.”


With the previous examples being borne out of the world of lighting, one player for another

Robert Juliat Communications Manager, Séverine Zucchiatti; Robe Product Specialist, Dave Whitehouse; Follow-Me Technical Sales Manager, Alistair Smyth.


side of the industry working within the field of tracking is 7thSense – a creative technology and software company that focusses on media servers and pixel generation.

“W hen we talk about ‘tracking,’ we are referring to accurately determining the position and rotation of 3D objects within a space, relative to an origin point, and doing so with as little latency as possible,” stated Eric Cantrell, VP Marketing and Product Specialist at 7thSense. “With that information, we can do cool things like projection map onto moving objects like cars, moving scenery, or animatronic figures.”

7thSense’s first projection system that used tracking tools involved projection mapping onto a model vehicle on a turntable. “The projected image was updated, tracking the position of the turntable,” stated Cantrell. “Now, there are systems that use infrared cameras to triangulate the position and rotation of objects, freeing them from being attached to encoders. We can now map projection to freely moving objects, such as props being moved by actors, scenic elements, or vehicles.”

7thSense Actor media servers include the ability to connect models to tracking data coming from various data sources and Cantrell discussed how graphics processing has

increased in capability in the past few years. “Actor media servers are the only solution available today that can track and update projected images at 240 frames per second,” he commented. “Our low-latency render pipeline combined with the high-capability graphics processors in our R-Series 10 servers makes this possible.”


When it comes to the tracking conversation, two names that most certainly can’t be ignored are BlackTrax and zactrack – both of which have developed systems that utilise trackers or beacons placed on performers to give real-time positional data to a central system that can then be used by all departments on a live show.

“W hile demonstrating early versions of BlackTrax around 2008 to 2009, it was evident that the industry had reservations about tracking. It took BlackTrax years of customer facing and product exposure through tradeshows, road shows and demos, and thousands of successful shows to change this fear of tracking,” stated BlackTrax Sales Manager, Dekkar Densham.

“The term tracking has become very personal for me,” stated zactrack’s Aria Hailey. “It started as this technical term surrounded by

BlackTrax Sales Manager, Dekkar Densham; zactrack Global Sales Manager, Manuel Ewers; zactrack Technical Business Development Manager, Aria Hailey.


many others like calibrating or ultra-wide band. However, it’s evolved into meaning creativity and freedom.”

According to Hailey, the need zactrack is filling encompasses a wide variety of applications. “For starters, it has provided the ability for smaller venues to have followspot position for their show. This has elevated the production level for these spaces in ways they couldn’t have achieved before. In larger shows, it has cut down on programming time across all aspects of the show, as well as giving shows the ability to provide immersive elements.”

This is a sentiment shared by Densham and the wider BlackTrax team. “While other systems might be designed with a narrow focus, such as exclusively handling followspots or video, BlackTrax stands out as a versatile tracking system. It seamlessly integrates with everything from lighting and media to immersive audio, gaming engines, and cameras, offering custom integrations through the open-source Real-Time Tracking Protocol.”

The two solutions, despite both using a beacon based set up, use a different method to calculate positioning data.

BlackTrax beacons that are placed on objects and performers send out an LED Infrared signal which is picked up by BlackTrax

cameras around the stage which can then calculate the position data of the target of the stage. zactrack, on the other hand, uses beacons for performers that omit a radio frequency that is then picked up by Anchor’s to calculate the positional data.

In 2023, Eric Marchwinski utilised zactrack during the Rihanna’s Super Bowl LVII Halftime Show and was able to be used positional data for the camera department for the production.

“As the camera pulled out along its profile all of those fixtures continued to remain focused directly into the lens, a feat that would be impossible without all of these systems in place. The camera paths were very dynamic, and we were able to find about five separate opportunities to utilise tracking the cameras,” Hailey explained.

Another user who benefitted from zactrack was Lighting Designer, Nate Cromwell who during Alanis Morrisette’s Tour was able to track an astounding 108 fixtures via the tracking system – giving the lighting rig the ability to really meld to what was taking place on stage. “It’s amazing the completely different looks we can achieve by tracking Alanis and the band members with lights from the floor and the sides instead of flooding the entire stage with light. The freedom to programme any light

to be on an artist is a huge thing, especially in an amphitheatre setting,” Hailey said.

“z actrack is a creative tool that is much more than a replacement for followspots,” mused zactrack’s Manuel Ewers, referencing theatre productions like Cinderella and Guys & Dolls where positional data has been used to create a more immersive experience for audiences.

“W ith a trend towards truly immersive shows, tracking can help create unprecedented effects and make shows more captivating for the audience. Tracking gives performers the ‘freedom to move’ and a greater possibility to improvise. Tracking will become an integral part of future shows and now our industry has started to embrace it,” he said.

Meanwhile, Densham was keen to highlight one specific case study that showed how the positional data could be used by video departments. “BlackTrax was used at the Ford Explorer Reveal to track cars using projectors as followspots, enabling what we call ‘virtual lighting’. Since the production team was already projecting graphics on the floor and having them interacting with the car’s position via tracking, by simply enabling a graphic mask that would track the car, BlackTrax made it possible for the cars to be lit by the projector in an even soft white light without hot spots,


saving the production, time and money, while delivering the perfect diffused lighting look they needed,” he explained.

As for BlackTrax’s utilisation in the live events one of its ground-breaking case studies showing the real world application of its solution was seen during Muse’s Drones Tour [see TPi #202] where Designer, Oli Metcalfe used tracking to enable automated followspots, Interactive projection mapping, and even tracked flying helium orbs to aid course correction and collision detection.

“BlackTrax allowed us to integrate lighting and video interactivity as well as provide us with an extremely accurate way of piloting the drones,” stated Metcalfe. “This was at the time the largest BlackTrax system ever assembled, using 38 cameras and tracking 16 entities - three band members and 13 HFO flying objects.”


With some of the companies mentioned already having multiple years leading the tracking conversation, one of the newer names to the sector has been Naostage. Having only launched its K SYSTEM in 2023 at Integrated Systems Europe (ISE), the team has already made waves with its beaconless tracking and show control solution. The K System marks the only beaconless solution on the market and consists of a KAPTA sensor, a KORE server and an AI-powered software, KRATOS, which was trained in deep learning on hundreds of shows. “Technically speaking, tracking encompasses

the technology and methodology used to accurately monitor the movement of people in a pre-defined environment,” stated Paul Cales, CEO and Founder of Naostage. “It’s about providing precise spatial data in real time, enabling dynamic control over various aspects of the show. For us at Naostage, it’s above all the starting point of a great adventure for my partners, Nathan Van de Hel and Olivier Le Doeuff, and I. Our common project began when we were just graduating from engineering school. It’s the shape we’ve managed to give to our shared passion for live performance, audiovisual and new technologies.”

The K SYSTEM was the tool that all the founders of Naostage “dreamed of having” when they all worked as lighting operators and designers in their spare time. “We saw this solution as a way of saving time and boosting productivity by automating this task,” mused Cales. “Then we realised that as we fine-tuned the system, it not only saved production costs, but also unleashed the creativity of designers for a wide range of applications.”

Although Naostage began exploring tracking as a means to address challenges related to precise lighting and followspots, the team then explored the application of its product for sound, video, visual effects synchronisation, ultimately aiming to elevate the overall immersive experience for both end users and audiences. “The system can be used not only for live shows in the traditional sense of the term (concerts, festivals, comedy

Naostage’s Paul Cales, Olivier Le Doeuff and Alexis Reymond with Nathan Van de Hel.

shows and theatre), but also for larger-scale events and other immersive spaces for which K SYSTEM is ideally suited,” enthused Cales.

“Looking ahead, as AI grows more sophisticated and widely used across all sectors and disciplines, we envision AIpowered tracking technology continuing to evolve and expand its footprint within the live events industry,” stated Cales. “For Naostage, this means further refining our solution to meet the evolving needs of our users. Our R&D team is working hard and has established an ambitious roadmap to push the boundaries of what’s possible in live event production. Overall, we anticipate tracking becoming an indispensable tool for creating truly immersive and unforgettable experiences.”

Adoption of the K SYSTEM is fast, and the solution is proving popular with tours, festivals, comedy shows as well as fixed installation projects in museums and visitor attractions. At the time of writing, the K SYSTEM is the cornerstone of audio, video and light tracking at the Puy du Fou’s latest show Le Mime et L’Étoile


It seems that we’re very much in the early stages of what tracking solutions can provide to the wider touring market and live events in

general. It’s interesting how many solutions have already been created which fall under this large banner of ‘tracking’, and no doubt, end users will prefer certain solutions over others depending on the application.

A common theme that emerged while speaking to all those involved in the tracking world was their wish for end users to really engage in these conversations. Both zactracks and BlackTrax have versions of their systems that are geared towards productions with smaller budgets – the zactrack mini and BT-1 from BlackTrax. Both companies expressed that these solutions meant more people would be able to explore the possibilities of what tracking could bring to productions.

“Tracking can make smaller shows more immersive and more exciting and users of zactrack mini will be prepared to upgrade to bigger systems at any time,” stated Ewers. “Our software and control features are the same for mini, SMART and PRO.”

Meanwhile, Naostage decided to make its KRATOS software available to the public completely free in October 2023. “Since then, anyone can download KRATOS from our website, test it and explore all its possibilities from their personal computer,” stated Cales. “From creating interaction zones to setting up

scenarios, the combinations are almost infinite, enabling the software to become a powerful creative tool.”

In closing, zactrack’s Aria Hailey said: “It is crazy to think that we don’t fully understand all the solutions tracking will provide. Each year we are astounded by the lengths shows around the world are pushing tracking. We have tracked people, animals, platforms and staging to effect lighting, sound, video, projection, and camera position. This is just the start!”

There is no doubt that lighting and, in many ways, video has been leading the charge in terms of shouting about the benefits of tracking. Although with the entire audio industry pushing the boundaries of immersive audio in all its guises, the limits of what tracking data could provide this side of the industry will be an interesting development in years to come. You can be sure TPi will be ‘tracking’ the process of this side of the events industry.



Following a sold-out UK and European tour, Tour Manager, Alex Howell and Really Creative Media reflect on the Middlesbrough artist’s most ambitious production to date.

Words: Alicia Pollitt

Photos: Luke Dyson and James Kellegher

Having begun his stint with James Arthur at the end of 2018, Tour Manager, Alex Howell of 1066 Touring and a core team have worked together across multiple global campaigns since then and 2024s Bitter Sweet Love Tour was no different. “This run felt and operated like the pre-COVID-19 shows, which was brilliant,” noted Howell. “The pandemic brought so much uncertainty for the industry for such a long time, so it is good to be back to normal and doing what we enjoy.”

Kicking off his tour in Hamburg in January, the artist w rapped up t he European leg at

The O2 arena in London on 22 March – an impressive feat for all involved. “James wanted to step everything up w ith his live show so t hat he created a memorable experience for his fans,” Howell continued. “ With t his c ame huge complexities w hen we stripped everything back

– all aspects of t he show were elevated f rom st aging to v ideo to audio and SFX.”

Boasting a noble 170,000 t ickets sold across nine weeks, Howell had support f rom

Production Manager, Pete Hutchison w ho was involved in t he creative design alongside Ed Croft f rom Mangata Collective.

The c amp couldn’t have done t he strenuous run w ithout t heir suppliers of choice. “ Most of our suppliers had either worked w ith James on

tours or one-off shows,” Howell explained. “Ox Event House were new to t he team and built a custom stage, r iser system and a bespoke thrust and B -stage w hich included a lift. T hey were central in allowing t he team to create t he unique moments James wanted for t he show.”

Ox Event House joined returning suppliers: Solotech, Adlib, BPM SFX, Phoenix Bussing, Tour Solutions, Popcorn Catering, Really Creative Media (RCM) and Mangata Collective. In charge of v ideo, RCM adopted an approach that employed Unreal Engine to generate realtime 3D environments t hat were t hen mixed with 2D live c amera feeds.

V ideo Designer, A lex V ipond commented: “We worked closely w ith Mangata Collective to utilise t he screen shape. Recent fast-paced developments w ithin Unreal Engine opened exciting creative opportunities for us, w hich means we c an make live changes in a 3D world instantaneously t hroughout t he performance processes. Unreal Engine has high-end colour grading t hat gives us more accurate control over t he output t han t raditional editing and effects software.” RCM Creative Director, Jack Fox s aid: “ This show t ruly breaks new ground and looks fabulous t hanks to t he close collaboration with our team.” Vipond added: “We are very happy w ith t he end result.”

Opposite page: Tour Manager, Alex Howell.

Howell described the video element as one of his highlights. “The video design was personal to James’s vision and highlighted elements of his music career throughout the years. The look-back clips of his time on X-Factor had a great response from the audience,” he continued. “RCM were great to work with and it was clear how much effort and attention they gave to creating a great show.” Other highlights for Howell included the integration between the stage design, lighting and special effects.

Howell reflected on the achievements of the 70-strong crew on the nine-week stint. “The campaign was brilliant – hard work and worth it. It’s been a pleasure to work with some of the best crew and suppliers in the industry and we hope to continue working with everyone involved in the years to come. It is always a good feeling after a tour when a show is delivered to an exceptional standard and rewarded with a positive response from the fans and artist.”

Celebrating his second UK number one album, James Arthur will take his sold-out show across the Atlantic before returning to his hometown of Middlesborough in the summer for a headline show at the Riverside Stadium which is sure to keep Howell busy…

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A decade since stepping away from life on the road as a touring production manager, Joe Sanchez reflects on the growth of his global experience agency as he and the team embark on their busiest year to date.

Words: Stew Hume

Photos: 1826

Since 2020, there have been several experienced people within the live touring world who have successfully managed to achieve a career one step removed from the road while still a key part of the industry. While there have always been options working for a manufacturer or a rental house, in recent years the proliferation of design collectives or production companies suggest there is a viable way of being part of a touring camp without travelling. One such individual, who back in 2014 was already seeking a way to transition away from the road was Joe Sanchez. Having production managed several acts – from the Pet Shop Boys to Rihanna –he made the conscious decision to strike a new path, which led to the creation of 1826; a global agency and design studio which employs 50 people with shows no signs of slowing down.

With Sanchez’ roots in live touring, 1826 maintains a focus in the world of live entertainment, holding down the productions for almost 10% of the 2024 Coachella line up; most notably, Lana Del Rey and Tyler, the Creator. However, live music is only half the story, as 1826 recently produced the opening and closing ceremonies for the F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix [see TPi #280]. Just before the year got even busier for 1826, TPi sat down with

Sanchez to discover some of his highlights and learnings over the company’s storied 10-year history. “I started touring when I was 19 doing some really menial tasks and I slowly worked my way up to selling T-shirts, tour managing for smaller bands on one van tours and eventually found myself production managing arena tours, which I did for around 15 years,” he recalled.

Despite travelling around the world numerous times, Sanchez never considered life on the road as the end goal. “I had this idea that in my ‘40s I would look at doing something different, although what that was exactly, I didn’t know,” he reflected.

Inspiration for his next step struck while on tour with Rihanna in 2011. “On that tour I met my now wife, and we toured the world together. When we got off the road, she was a huge influence in making me see another way to work in the industry. She made the point that I ran these giant stadium shows – so why don’t I try and run five at a time and create a touring team to work on them.”

With the die cast, Sanchez set about finding funding for what would eventually become 1826. “We started in my spare room in my house in LA and then moved to a small office in West Hollywood,” stated Sanchez.

“We then grew to a team of 18 which sadly shrunk down to five during COVID-19.” With

1826 CEO and founder, Joe Sanchez.


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the company making it through the pandemic thanks to some specific projects with the likes of the LA Dodgers, Sanchez explained that from May 2021 “the phone hasn’t really stopped ringing.”

He noted: “From five members of staff during COVID to the end of 2021, we grew to 30 people and now we have 50 full time staff.”

In terms of the job split, the CEO and founder explained that around half of his newfound workforce was already operating in roles such as production manager or stage carpenter for touring productions.

“The other half are back of house team members – from our HR departments through to those looking after our warehouse space.”

The company has two warehouse spaces in LA. The first, an 8,000ft space in North Hollywood that house five offices – three of which are video and lighting pre-visualisation suites which can be rented out to clients. The second, a warehouse which boasts a 15,000ft deep storage facility in North LA.

“It’s funny that some people still refer to me as a production manager despite the fact I haven’t been one for the past 10 years,” he laughed, explaining his current role within in the touring industry. “I oversee projects and help with some of our bigger clients. I sit in on

meetings and inform how I think we should approach a task. I also attend the first few shows as the team gets used to the production. However, the rest of my day is spent running the overall business.”

Sanchez reflected on the companies standing within the industry: “There aren’t many independent companies with our background and portfolio within the touring side of the business. In recent years, we have rebranded ourselves as an agency as opposed to a production company. Too many people working in the corporate world heard the term ‘production company’ and seemed to think all we did was stock staging.”

Matching up to the rhetoric of the corporate world has paid dividends for 1826 as the company recently picked up one of its bigger shows to date with the F1 opening and closing ceremonies in Las Vegas. “That show has opened some doors for us, demonstrating the scale we are able to work on. We’re certainly looking at more ‘opening ceremony’ type events in the future,” commented Sanchez.

However, as the company broadens its scope, the CEO noted that its background in touring also aids in attracting new clients.

“A good example of this is the work we’ve done for OKX – one of the world’s largest digital

trading companies. We have overseen all their tradeshow stands for some time and I think it’s a good talking point for them that they’ve brought in the guys that work for Tyler, the Creator to build their stand.”

Another growing arm of 1826 is the studio, which is overseen by famed Production and Lighting Designer, Rob Sinclair. “I met Rob when I PM’ed for the Pet Shop Boys,” said Sanchez.

“Setting up 1826 studios allowed us to create decks, renders and physical art to present ourselves to corporate entities as an agency in a more impactful way. We are not known as a design firm yet, as it’s still early days, but I think our reputation will continue to develop and build a name for itself.”

At the time of writing, the studio is currently booked until the late summer as Sinclair works on Zach Bryan’s stadium tour and Kacey Musgraves’ forthcoming arena run.

To close, TPi asked Sanchez if we’d likely see more agency’s borne from the touring sector emerge in the future. “I wish anyone striving to do something similar the best of luck. It’s not easy and we have failed, succeeded, and failed again. It has taken us a decade to get to where we are.” However, Sanchez seems excited about what the next decade might bring.



Premiering on the tradeshow circuit to much acclaim, SuperRack LiveBox marks another exciting chapter in a long line of Waves Audio solutions.

Considered one of the leading developers of professional audio signal processing technologies and plug-ins for multiple markets, Waves Audio recently unveiled its newest offering for the touring domain –SuperRack LiveBox. This innovation facilitates a seamless experience in running VST3 plugins from any brand, all housed within a single user-friendly box boasting Dante or MADI connectivity options.

“We have been dedicated to crafting solutions for the live market for a considerable period. Given that our development team comprises seasoned live engineers, we

possess an innate understanding and familiarity with our clients’ needs, desires, and challenges,” shared Val Kotler, Waves Senior Product Manager. “Our technical support is renowned for its excellence within the industry, providing round-the-clock assistance bolstered by a global network of ground support.” According to Kotler, Waves SuperRack LiveBox delivers the prowess of studio-grade VST3 plug-ins from various manufacturers to any live production environment, featuring either a Dante equipped LiveBox or a MADI equipped one with ultra-low latency, and the Waves SuperRack Performer

audio plug-in host – all encapsulated within a robust 2U rack-mountable unit. “Each of our products undergoes rigorous quality assurance testing. Moreover, we enlist external beta testers to ensure the dependability of our offerings within the mission-critical live market,” he noted.

The primary aim behind the development of the SuperRack LiveBox is to afford users the flexibility of utilising any VST plug-in. This goal is realised through the utilisation of a familiar and highly dependable plug-in host, Waves SuperRack Performer, housed within a customised and optimised “supercharged”

Words: Jacob Waite
Photo: Waves Audio

apparatus. Kotler elaborated: “We are steadfast in preserving the Waves workflow that users are accustomed to for VST plugins, notwithstanding inherent limitations, as different VST manufacturers may not consistently adhere to recognised standards.”

SuperRack LiveBox empowers live sound engineers and creative talents to access their preferred audio plug-ins, all operating natively on a turnkey device that is effortlessly deployable in any live scenario. The amalgamation of hardware and software within LiveBox is optimised to ensure efficient and reliable plug-in performance. Engineers can seamlessly connect LiveBox to a console and commence mixing without encountering complex setup procedures. Additionally, the inclusion of a Waves SuperRack LiveBox which is Dante equipped, or one with MADI connectivity options ensures compatibility with a wide array of popular live console setups,

while the optional dual power supply offers redundancy for enhanced reliability across diverse environments. “The Waves SuperRack Performer plug-in host integrated into SuperRack LiveBox mirrors the same robust and dependable live plug-in control software utilised by thousands of live sound engineers across events of all scales,” highlighted Kotler.

Retaining all the familiar features of SuperRack Performer, SuperRack LiveBox furnishes live engineers with precise control over all their VST3 plug-ins, including those from Waves and other developers. Kotler affirmed that this approach affords users the flexibility to transition between different mixing platforms while maintaining consistent processing standards: “It is imperative to develop a product capable of seamlessly integrating with a range of mixing consoles, as our objective is to provide processing solutions across all platforms.”

“We dedicate substantial effort to deep PC optimisations and customisations, focusing on critical components and drivers,” he explained, underscoring that these collective endeavours ensure minimal latency, optimal load distribution, and system stability.

Following the debut of Waves’ SuperRack LiveBox on the tradeshow circuit, Kotler noted that the feedback from end users and the live sector has been overwhelmingly positive: “There is palpable excitement surrounding Waves’ embrace of the expansive and inclusive realm of VST plug-ins. We continually evolve alongside our users, eagerly anticipating and actively contributing to the next chapter. Our ethos remains steadfast – ‘where there is sound, there is Waves’ – as we strive to bolster our users and furnish them with a dependable platform – regardless of location or circumstance.”



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Following a record-breaking year, GLX Productions hopes to challenge preconceptions about IP-rated solutions and increasingly foster a healthy working environment for staff and freelancers…

Photos: GLX Productions

Making strides to reshape the conversation surrounding IP-rated lighting fixtures, GLX Productions has significantly grown its presence over the past year. This expansion includes hiring new staff, investing nearly £1m in new equipment, and relocating to larger warehouses – not once, but twice.

Speaking to TPi from the company’s base in Buckinghamshire, GLX Productions Director, Glenn Gridley underscored the firm’s dedication to fostering its broad network of freelancers and employees – underlining the importance of optimising their performance with the mutual expectation of benefitting each other. “We have come on leaps and

bounds in recent years,” Gridley informed TPi, retracing the company’s eight-year-old mission statement. “We noticed there were many companies in the sector just offering standard lighting, so we quickly decided to solely supply IP lighting, which at the time, the market was only providing static flood and Pars.”

Having quickly developed a reputation servicing and designing outdoor light trails, GLX Productions was entrusted with supplying lighting solutions for Japan’s Fuji Rock Festival and the Unfairground at Glastonbury in 2016, which Gridley recalled as a “watershed” moment for the company. “As a small company, we were honoured to be involved,” he remarked.

Fast-forward two years, the team landed the distribution and design contract for the Eden Project [see TPi #258], supplying around 70 LED fixtures in its first year and nowadays, a staggering 2,500. Having catered some of live entertainment’s biggest outdoor projects from the comfort of a garage, in 2019, GLX Productions acquired two 40ft containers to store and build inventory.

Notwithstanding a global pandemic, the firm doubled its hire stock in 2020, eventually moving into its first premises. “Despite the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sector, which we raised awareness of with our involvement in the various industrywide campaigns, we managed to expand, with IP lighting highly sought after.”

One of the first companies back in the field once open-air events were able to take place, GLX Productions was able to tap into its vast arsenal of and expertise using IP-rated lighting solutions to service a range of clients.

“We turned over our first million in 2022, took on our first employee, moved to a bigger warehouse, and started investing in higher end lighting solutions. By the end of 2022, we held almost three quarters of a million in assets and had moved to an even larger premises in 2023 which was unthinkable eight years ago.”

GL X Productions employs five full-time members of staff with plans to hire more personnel and move to a large premises, having continued to invest in inventory.

“Customer service is important, but making sure your equipment is in perfect working order is just as important. Having a consistent open dialogue between all parties leads to stronger relationship on all fronts too. We haven’t stayed anywhere for more than a year because we keep running out of space!” With a pool of around 100 freelancers, Gridley and the


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team are passionate about ensuring processes are implemented to support everyone.

“Without t he f reelancers, staff, our clients, and fr iends, we wouldn’t be where we are today. This year is going to test a lot of people, and we need to be there as production companies not only to support our internal staff but to support our freelancers as well – whether that takes the form of training or employing Mental Health First Aiders on every project.”

On t he topic of inciting cultural change, Gridley hopes to change the industry’s preconceptions about refraining from using outdoor equipment inside with the company adopting the ‘lighting without limits’ slogan: “Nowadays, with advances in technology, IP-rated fi xtures are almost identical to t heir counterparts, and the pricing and weight of them is slowly evening out,” he explained, detailing the company’s plans for future.

“As well as continually servicing outdoor projects, we’re slowly edging our way into the touring market. We have made a lot of recent investments too, including grandMA3s, NPUs, SGM P-3 Visions with more Ayrton, Robe and Claypaky products on the way – the diary is looking busy.”


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As the North American 360° rental solution firm opens its brand-new UK operation, TPi catches up with LMG Touring Managing Director, Craig Mitchell, during his recent visit to the UK to discuss the development of this new arm of the business.

Words: Stew Hume

Photos: LMG Touring

Any UK-based readers working in the international touring industry will no doubt be more than familiar with the name LMG. Established 40 years ago from humble beginnings when founder Les Goldberg bought his first projector, the company initially focussed on the corporate market before diversifying in 2007 and bringing in Craig Mitchell to oversee the new touring-focussed branch of the business, LMG Touring. Offering a 360° solution of audio, lighting and video, the company has continued to grow to a point where it now holds over $150m of stock across several locations in the US, as well as operating a large rehearsal facility in Las Vegas and another slightly smaller one in Orlando – and at the end of 2023, LMG announced that it would be opening a brandnew operation in the UK.

The UK branch of LMG Touring is based out of the same premises as Pixl Evolution, another company within the overarching ETP Group that owns LMG Touring. “Pixl’s main focus is corporate, while LMG Touring deals with touring

clients,” explained Mitchell as he outlined the split of the two companies. The UK division is overseen by industry stalwarts Paul Wood and Jo Beirne, who hold the roles of Project Manager and Business Development.

“I find productions are looking for a few key things from a supplier,” mused Mitchell. “They want great packaging, crew, support, and scale of inventory. We can offer all that in the US, and in a perfect world, we’d love to be able to support tours from the US to the UK, replicating a setup to avoid shipping as much gear as possible. You can recreate the rig on either side of the Atlantic, which helps with clients’ production budgets.”

The UK division is focussing on video initially, and the company has been building up its stock, holding both ROE V isual Vanish 8 and Black Quartz BQ4 LED panels in addition to offering Disguise and Resolume media servers.

“We don’t currently have a timeline for when we w ill be able to provide a turnkey solution in the UK, and it all depends on what audio opportunities there are,” Mitchell confirmed.

“There are a lot of great audio and lighting companies in the UK and partnering with them makes a lot more sense.”

Mitchell continued to outline the ethos of LMG Touring: “We really care about our clients, and we are very aware that the designers we collaborate w ith are being asked to create something ‘people have not seen before’. That’s easy when you have an unlimited budget but less so when you have tighter margins. At LMG, we enjoy finding creative solutions to make a show more tourable and cost-effective.”

Mitchell outlined what he saw as one of LMG’s main selling points – its packaging. If we can create a package that is loaded-in in three hours and out in two and needs two crew rather than three, we are creating real savings for the overall production.”

Sitting across the boardroom from Mitchell, Wood and Beirne asserted that these ideals were to be furthered in the UK branch of the business. Having worked together back at XL Video (now k nown as PRG), the duo expressed their excitement about the new venture.


“We’ve brought on several freelancers from the XL Video days,” stated Wood, while Beirne expressed how LMG’s UK division was aiding in the company’s overall mission to bring more people into the industry.

“We’ve already collaborated with Oxford Brooks, where we invite students to our warehouse to get a sense of what we do. Tiffany Green, our HR and Academic Programs Manager, runs the incentive, and from this year, we’ve brought in Jake Whitby, who has now been with us for a month.”

Education is central to the LMG philosophy with The CoiL Learning Center, which connects professionals, students, and local organisations with opportunities to lead, teach, and learn in the events and entertainment industry. “The name CoiL comes from the first thing most of us learn in the industry – coiling cable,” explained Mitchell. “There are many aspects to the programme, from creating content and mentorship opportunities to those starting their journey into the industry, along with chances for employees to upskill.

“For example, we have everything from management classes for those working their way up the business, all the way to Excel classes, which are useful to everyone in our industry – especially freelancers.”

Although it’s still early days for the UK branch of LMG, Mitchell, Wood, and Beirne were excited to share some of the successes they’d already had. “One notable show was BoyWithUke,” stated Beirne. “LMG did the US leg, and now we’ve taken care of them on this side of the Atlantic. They liked what we did so much they are trying to take one of our young UK technicians back to the States for their upcoming American tour.”

With multiple quotes out for the rest of the year, the team were pleased to state that they would be handling Tenacious D’s upcoming tour and the end of April and May along with some bigger tours in the summer.

TPi looks forward to catching up with some of the wider UK LMG Touring team on site later this year.

LMG Managing Director, Craig Mitchell with LMG UK’s Jo Beirne and Paul Wood.


TPi visits Patchwork London’s outstanding headquarters to find out the company’s unique take on the audio market and how the company revolutionises the standards of what can be expected from a modern touring control package.

Words: Stew Hume

Photos: Patchwork London

Patchwork exists in a unique space within the pro audio market, offering bespoke sound control packages that are increasingly high specification but with no PA to speak of.

“We’re not ruling out the idea of having PA but we don’t stock any now and the business is continuing to grow,” began Patchwork London Managing Director, Steve White. “Not only in annual turnover but I feel we’re establishing a stronger foothold in the industry and being noticed more – and I think in some ways, emulated – by some big players in the market.”

In terms of control offering, Patchwork has an array of A llen & Heath desks from S5000 to C15000 as well as DiGiCo 338, 225, SD12 and SD11 consoles. We also recently took on Yamaha PM5s,” stated W hite, explaining the decision behind w hat brands to invest in.

The brand of choice comes down to demand. We need to have the desk the customer wants but from our side, it all comes to the packaging and delivery to make it as easy for the crew on the road.”

A lthough admitting that these bespoke packages came at a premium price, W hite justified this by the time that could be saved in a real-world scenario w ith a well-thought-out package. “ In many ways we want our system to be a case of you t ake the lid off and you’re away. If we can guarantee a load-in w ill t ake 20 minutes less for the audio team, for a big show, that equated to huge savings in the long term.”

W hite reflected on the origins of the company. Having got his break into this industry as a touring sound engineer, soon he found himself also t aking on the tour management

mantel for the likes of Bring Me The Horizon. It was around this time he started to work on his ex it strategy from the road. “ I always got calls from others in the industry asking if I had any suggestions as to w here they might be able to pick up a certain piece of gear and was just al ways that middle guy. After a w hile, I realised that I could perhaps provide that service.”

Starting the business from his garage w ith a Midas Pro2, W hite soon made his money back on that initial investment and began to increase his inventory, moved into new premises, and st arted to employ staff.

Having started this journey in 2012, the company saw incremental growth and took the keys to the new facility in early 2020 – t wo months before COVID-19 saw the immediate halting of work. Despite this, W hite and his core team rolled up their sleeves and began the renovation process.

“ It was fairly nerve-racking as we did not know w hat w hen the industry would be back to normal, but we managed to keep costs down by doing a lot of the work ourselves,” White recalled. “ I’d say we’d finished 60% of the renovation w hen work started again, pre the Omicron COVID-19 strain.” At the time of writing, the team seem happy w ith the work with the potential to expand in the neighbouring building if needs be.

Walking around the facility, certain elements seemed to separate Patchwork from others in the market. From its very clean and slick prep area set aside for incoming engineers to prepare the racks before heading out on the road, to a small room full of several 3D

Patchwork London Sales Director, Louis Jemmott with Managing Director, Steve White and Touring Director, Calum Mordue. Opposite: Sound Engineer, Megan Collier.


printers that were busy working away. The purpose of these machines is to create the custom casing for the company’s modular packages with specially crafted cases from individual microphones and various miscellaneous parts of an audio package. “We’ve always looked to reinvest in the company to make our service better,” stated White. “However, our real differentiator is our packaging and we have made such a big focus on innovation.”

This wish for innovation extends outside its rental delivery as TPi soon found out chatting to one of Patchwork’s latest recruits – Sales Director, Louis Jemmott.

“We couldn’t be happier to be working with Louis,” enthused White, outlining the company’s long history working with Jemmott. “I align with the bespoke service that Patchwork delivers,” began Jemmott. “That level of support is something I’ve always tried to bring to my sales roles in the past.”

With Jemmott part of the team, White explained that the hope for this side of the company is try and influence innovation. “There will be an element of sales where someone will call and know exactly what they want, and we’ll deliver. When that’s not the case, we spend the time with people to find out exactly what they are looking to achieve and why. That is why we’re always on the lookout for products that are not as well known that our innovating their field.”

As far as wider business expansion, Patchwork recently twinned with Nashville’s Worley Sound to provide a transatlantic service for clients. “We share a similar mindset,” White remarked, citing the audio package delivery of recent Burna Boy and Fontaines D.C. shows across the pond, respectively, as a


demonstration of this newfound partnership. White alluded to further acts coming over from the States, which Patchwork will service later this year.

To close out the conversation, White revealed some of the projects that Patchwork are looking forward to being a part of in the

coming months: “It is something of a mixed bag,” he mused, going on to discuss a few notable highlights.

“We have a show in the North Pole, Burna Boy at London Stadium and Glastonbury’s Pyramid stage, in addition to a summer of festival slots with Anne Marie, Fontaines D.C., Sugababes, Jessie Ware, Cian Ducrot, and many more.”

With such a busy summer on the cards, TPi will inevitably bump into the Patchwork family in the coming months, or at the very least, stumble across their iconic orange flight cases.

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With the German company’s products appearing in multiple racks within the wider audio ecosystem, Jan Ehrlich, CEO and Sales Director for DirectOut, shares how its products have become an essential part of many audio engineers’ toolboxes.

Photos: DirectOut

Whether we are interviewing a playback engineer or a team at FOH, there has been an ongoing trend of one brand that has become ubiquitous among the rigs of some of the biggest tours. From Lewis Capaldi’s playback setup through to Coldplay’s FOH, DirectOut’s products – specifically the PRODIGY Series –have become a firm favourite with engineers around the world, offering state-of-the-art conversion, signal routing and processing.

Talking TPi though the growth of the company was Jan Ehrlich, CEO and Sales Director. “The company was founded by audio engineers,” asserted Ehrlich while outlining the original goals the company.

Founded in 2008 by famed sound engineer Stephan Flock, the six-time Grammy Award winner with such an intricate knowledge of the sector could see the potential of niche products that could serve a valuable need within the industry.

“From the beginning, one of the biggest things for us has been to produce reliable and high-quality products and our initial pieces of hardware served very specific needs to the market,” stated Ehrlich, who explained that these learnings were then always brought into the next generation of products.

The latest output from the German manufacturer has been the PRODIGY Series; a complete audio solution that meets a variety of needs. The Audio Solution Model (ASM) of DirectOut focusses on providing customised solutions that meet the specific requirements of various industries such as live sound, broadcasting, installation, and recording.

Through continuous development and integration of new technologies – such as DSP and advanced audio networking capabilities – DirectOut aims to ensure optimal performance and efficiency in every application

scenario. The PRODIGY.MC (Modular Audio Converter) marked the beginning of DirectOut’s PRODIGY Series and built on the success of the ANDIAMO Series. This innovative solution combined the proven technologies of ANDIAMO with advanced audio networking capabilities such as Dante, Ravenna and SoundGrid in a fully modular way.

The modularity of the PRODIGY.MC offers flexibility and versatility by allowing different technologies to be combined in a single device.

With the introduction of the PRODIGY.

MP, DirectOut added DSP capabilities to the PRODIGY range. This device is designed to manage complex audio streams, increase system redundancy and act as a central hub for managing complex audio systems. The addition of DSP capabilities took DirectOut into a whole new realm, expanding its ability to serve not only broadcasters, but also the live and fixed installation markets.

The series was completed with the PRODIGY.MX, the successor to the legendary M.1K2 router, which addressed the high channel routing needs of the market. The integration of bi-directional sample rate conversion capabilities sets new standards in audio technology and provides a unique solution for demanding applications. With the latest additions, such as the Advance and Unlimited versions unveiled at recent events like NAMM and ISE, more power and DSP capabilities can be applied to the PRODIGY.MX, for example 64x64 Matrix, Summing Busses, Flex Channels, and Input Managers.

Ehrlich reflected on the increased usage of DirectOut within the wider market, referencing some of the notable case studies including 2023s Eurovision Song Contest [see TPi #276].

“We’ve always listened to our clients and created solutions for challenges. With each

DirectOut CEO and Sales Director, Jan Ehrlich. Opposite: Lewis Capaldi’s Playback Engineer, Paul Docherty.

Words: Stew Hume

iteration of products, we take these solutions to next generation. So, although it might appear to be a tiny box in a rack, it has a lot of power.”

Ehrlich went on to explain some of the issues that DirectOut’s products have solved in recent times: “We released the PRODIGY.MP in 2020 just before the events industry ground to a halt [amid the COVID-19 pandemic]. Fortunately, the film and broadcast industries were still quite stable. We then also pivoted as there were a great deal of steamed projects happening.”

For example, DirectOut worked on projects where the firm streamed audio for several performances where we transmitted audio around the world. “We proved you could run long distance audio transmission of uncompressed audio, delivering it in milliseconds,” Ehrlich remarked.

Despite its growing popularity, Ehrlich stated that DirectOut is still a “small company.” He continued: “In the beginning, we were a bit of a satellite operation with the team being scattered around Germany. However, in the past five years, we’ve really built up the team and we’ll soon have 10 people working at our HQ soon. We also have several representatives and freelancers around Europe as well as one in Mexico. I think it is a healthy size to make sure we can react to the push of the market, while still staying in touch with our clients. It’s

essential for us to always listen to our clients, and increasing our company in terms of head count helps us to serve our clients even better.”

DirectOut still manufactures its products in Germany, 95% in a factory close to the HQ in Mittweida. The company has also made strides to ensure clients have continued support while using its products. “Since the technology is always evolving, with every unit you send out, you must be clear and supportive,” asserted Ehrlich. “I’m happy and grateful that we have a very skilled team and we know that the clients appreciate the support. We also started experimenting with Ask.DirectOut – an AIpowered chatbot, which is fed and controlled by us and provides answers in any language.”

In terms of the future, Ehrlich teased some of the things coming down the pipe for the company. “One of the things with PRODIGY is that it is powerful but big, so we’re thinking of a compact solution for smaller applications,” he said. At the same time, we’re looking at the potential of PRODIGY – it won’t decrease in terms of power, but it will be more compact and tailored to specific markets.”

Suffice to say, DirectOut is gearing up for its products to be a feature of even more audio workflows in the coming years, from small clubs to stadiums and televised events.


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Founded in 2022 in the wake of many roadies leaving the industry, live arts and events training provider MUTI Live is making leaps and bounds to bring a new generation into the live events space. With the name of the company coming from South African origin, where Young-Wolfe was born, MUTI stands for magic and healing – everything the industry needed after the COVID-19 pandemic.

As we were emerging from the weirdness of COVID-19, something struck me as a fundamental truth,” Young-Wolfe began.

“Coming together in person is a core part of being alive and plays a magic and healing role in our lives. Humans are social animals and thrive in the live experience in a way that we simply can’t do online or in virtual environments. So, our philosophy is to do what we can to help live experiences, and those who make them thrive.”

W ith the pandemic decimating a significant section of the sector, with both venues and

staff struggling, MUTI Live was set up in direct response to the staffing crisis as well as the lack of diversity. Young-Wolfe elaborated: “Our directors come from the industry and so we felt compelled to do something about the shrinking talent pipeline. We didn’t initially set out to become a training provider, more to support the sector with information about the rich range of jobs and experiences. However, when we realised that the problem was not just the failure of storytelling from our sector about careers but the lack of non-debt-laden pathways into them, we knew we had to do something that would have more of a direct impact.”

MUTI Live is attempting to change the perception of how apprenticeships work in the industry, but not in a hurry as Young-Wolfe explained that there is no quick fix for this issue, and that instead, the company is working towards career longevity in the industry by training people properly.

“We have a commitment to contributing to something larger than ones own monthly targets,” commented Young-Wolfe.

“Our mixed approach of apprenticeships, Skills Bootcamps and bespoke workforce development training are designed to provide a range of short to long term solutions for new recruits and existing staff.”

Having shifted back to in-person learning, Young-Wolfe assured TPi that live is best’. We are very interested in the role of immersive technologies and have been actively trialling their use in our recruitment and training, but this is still to serve as real-life experiences,” Young-Wolfe explained.

For MUTI Live’s goals to work, the w ider industry must get on board with their mission.

“We need the industry to become more proactive in their approach to understanding alternate pathways – what they are, how they work, and the potential benefits both in terms of numbers and diversity,” he concluded.

MUTI Live is currently working w ith regional, national and international organisations from its base in Bristol and started delivering its training in February 2024 and is currently working with five organisations that have each t aken on one apprentice, with four more lined up for a start in the autumn. Through its Skills Bootcamps programme, MUTI Live is working w ith a further six organisations to deliver training for 44 new and existing workers between now and April 2025, covering technician, producer, leadership and management roles.

Words: Alicia Pollitt Photo: MUTI Live


Daniel Wrase, Senior Product Manager at Adam Hall Group, discusses Cameo’s new laser sourced moving head fixture.

What was the idea behind the ORON H2?

“Laser-based moving heads are still quite rare on the market and limited in their versatility.

The ORON H2 represents a groundbreaking advancement as it is the world’s first IP65-rated hybrid moving head with a phosphor-laser design on the market.

“It was absolutely clear to us, that we would need to develop a cutting-edge solution that not only pushes technological boundaries but also serves as the answer to the upcoming EU ban on discharge lamps from 2027. With all these challenges in mind, we are proud to offer professional users a future-proof solution with the ORON H2.”

How has insights from the sector influenced the creation of the product?

“As with all Cameo lights, the needs of the lighting industry are the main driving force behind the development of new products. We are constantly striving to exchange ideas with professionals from the lighting industry to find out what users really need. With this feedbackdriven R&D approach we wanted to ensure that the ORON H2 not only met but exceeded the expectations of its target audience. The result is a product that seamlessly integrates into diverse creative workflows, empowering designers to achieve their artistic vision with precision and efficiency.”

What benefits does the ORON H2 bring to the live events market?

“ With social media, streaming and the gradual emergence of virtual reality, live events today

face far greater competition than in the past. Anyone realising a live event today has to engage and inspire the audience with new ideas and technologies, while at the same time ensuring cost-effectiveness and profitability.

“As the world’s first hybrid laser moving head, the ORON H2 offers lighting professionals an indispensable tool with unmatched performance and sustainability, including a service life 10 times longer than conventional discharge lamps. Moreover, its compact size, IP65 rating, and compatibility with various control technologies make it ideal for outdoor events, where reliability and flexibility are even more paramount.”

What sets ORON H2 apart from other competitors on the market?

“Most people associate laser moving heads with extremely tight, razor-sharp beams, which looks great, but is limited in its application. As the first hybrid moving head with a laser engine, the ORON H2 comes with an extended zoom range of 0.6 to 32° which enables beam, spot and wash applications alike, including gobo projections and other effects. In combination with the impressive light output and CMY colour mixing the ORON H2 outshines other products in its class, providing users with unparalleled versatility and control.”

Why was Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) the perfect place to showcase this product?

“With this year’s new Lighting & Staging Zone, ISE now appeals to an even wider range of event technology users, making the show

the perfect platform for Cameo to present the ORON H2 to the public for the first time. With a diverse audience comprising lighting designers, rental companies, and dry-hire companies, ISE provided an ideal opportunity to demonstrate the ORON H2’s capabilities to a targeted and influential audience.

“Moreover, the international reach of ISE allowed Cameo to showcase the ORON H2 to a global audience, maximising its visibility and impact in the market.”

Daniel Wrase, Senior Product Manager at Adam Hall Group.
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Brock Adamson, CEO of Adamson Systems Engineering, and Brian Fraser, Head of Product and Technology, spotlight the sensitivity, dispersion, uniformity, and linearity of the first product in the company’s new Vergence Group.

Adamson Systems Engineering

What challenges did you encounter bringing VGt systems to the market?

BA: “The key to the VGt performance is a completely new approach to both the midrange driver and the associated phase plug, sound chambers and waveguides. This pursuit led through extensive FEA/BEM modelling and prototyping of diaphragms and suspension materials followed by endless FEA simulations of sound passageways. Closely modelling the MR diaphragm resulted in a surround-less driver, closely spaced to a unique array of air passageways with outstanding summation. It is this innovation that drives the VGt performance by allowing us to pack so much mid-range punch into this box. To fully explore the properties of materials we knew well, we mined much deeper into mold design and mold making. Meeting this challenge took us into geometries and performance far beyond our previous limits, giving us the VGt.”

Which features will end users in the live touring sector benefit from?

BF: “VGt offers users several key advantages. First, the ability to choose the LF coverage pattern enables users to pick the response

best suited to the performance/venue/artist. Also, having a smaller box that performs as well or better than the large format boxes everyone is used to allows for greater flexibility in coverage angles. Giving the end user a powered system also allows us to get the most efficiency out of every band, while allowing us to use features such as optimisation, which improves the acoustic response of a mechanically aimed array.”

How energy efficient is the VGt system?

BF: “As the VGt has integrated amplification, we eliminate the losses associated with long runs of speaker wire. The purpose built five-channel Class-D amp and switched-mode power supply were designed to be highly efficient, so that even with eight transducers, the end user can easily power three VGt on a single 208v feed. The new M140 mid-range driver sets a new standard for mid-range reproduction. Efficiency can also be expressed as a savings in both space and fuel in transport. With VGt, tours will gain a significant amount of the truck back in rack space. For example, 18 VGt enclosures require only four RU of I/O, while equivalent rack-amplified loudspeaker systems

require between 20 to 30 RU for the same number of enclosures.”

How does the combination of the cabinet’s construction materials contribute to the durability and longevity of the VGt system?

BF: “Our equipment is designed with lifespan and durability in mind. Birch is great acoustically, and so we ensure that it will last by applying a two-part wet coating that is incredibly rugged. All the metalwork is finished either with plating or by powder coating, ensuring that it remains corrosion resistant. The box is rated at IP54, so it can withstand the harsh outdoor environment without issue, and the amplifier module itself used IP67 rated connections to ensure all electronics are protected.”

Where are we likely to see the VGt system in the coming months?

BA: “Jelly Roll and Imagine Dragons will use VGt systems this year, provided by Sound Image, a Clair Global brand. In Europe, our partner network will be announcing some major shows, tours, and prestigious installations.”

See us at booth N-D15


Bob Mentele, Elation Associate Product Manager, details the company’s new product line and what it means for the future of lighting live events...

What was the initial idea behind the creation of the Pulse Panel FX and new Pulse line?

“We saw what existed in the market with the industry-standard tilting strobe, and we knew we wanted to create something with a higher impact and offer a more visually dynamic effect. So, we experimented with placing the LED panel of a tilting strobe on a central pivot point, allowing the panel to be spun or panned. We engineered the panel to spin continuously in either direction, we also added extra CW LED strobes on the outer edges to offer more output and visual impact. We then capped those outer LEDs with a custom linear prismatic lens we developed for our Proteus Rayzor Blade fixtures to add a unique look to those lines of strobes. Finally we added a single line of RGB LEDs to the middle of the centre CW strobes, which we’ve coined the ‘StrobeLine’. “

Which features will end users be excited by?

“One of the most notable features of the Pulse Panel FX is its ability to pan or spin its LED panel in an endless rotation. This gives users not only the ability to spin the LEDs endlessly, but also create tilted angle offsets and waves along a line of panels. Locking the pan movement also allows the units to be placed directly next to one another, creating a continuous line of panels without the fear of the pan motor engaging and knocking the neighbouring fixtures.

“A nother very noticeable feature is the overall intensity of the Pulse Panel FX and Pulse Panel; the Cool White strobe LEDs alone can produce over 100,000 lumens of output. We have over 48 zones of control for them,

we’ve also spent a lot of time creating different settings and modes to allow a user to control the various parts of the fixture however they like. You can set the top and bottom CW strobe LEDs to mirror the center CW strobes. We also have added a centre line of RGB LEDs to the central strobe groupings. We’ve also spent a lot of time thinking about the built-in effects for the fixture and how to make it easier for programmers to control, or to save time in creating effects. The library of effects has been created to allow the user to control numerous parameters of the output being created.”

How has the Pulse Panel FX and the new Pulse line been developed to serve the live entertainment and rental market?

“Any time we begin to work on new fixtures, we focus on offering a product that will stand up to the rigours and expectations of our customers while not being too expensive to put it out of reach. Elation has become known for offering some of the most durable fixtures on the market, and this new series will continue that trend. All of the new Pulse family of products have been designed with durable exterior housings and are sealed to offer an IP65 rating. We stand behind our products and their durability in any environment.

“W hile developing this product family, we wanted to create a series that would offer the market a complimentary line of products that have been designed to offer similar visual impact with different fixture styles. All fixtures feature the same CW and RGB LEDs, so the colours and output will match. This will allow customers and designers to keep the design

continuity intact depending on the various fixture types that may be needed to fill a stage.”

What has the response been like so far?

“The response has been phenomenal. The Pulse Panel FX has created a lot of excitement and positive feedback. The Pulse Panel, Pulse Bar S and L have all also received praise and you will surely be seeing them on a number of events very soon. All of the products will begin shipping by the end of May.”

Elation Associate Product Manager, Bob Mentele.

Video in action: Our ROE CB5 MKII at Boardmasters 2023

Lighting in action: Our Ayrton Perseo, SGM Q-7, P-5 and P-2 fixtures at The Common, Glastonbury 2023

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Lifting the lid on Epson’s latest highresolution, eco-friendly 4K projection series with a compact form factor.

Photos: Epson

What was the idea behind the creation of the EB-PQ2000 Series?

“The main aim of the EB-PQ2000 Series was to offer our customers a range of high brightness 4K resolution projectors, within the same footprint of our existing EB-PU2000 Series of full HD models, with our 4K Crystal Motion chipset delivering improved native contrast and image processing to fully harness the potential of 4K to impress audiences.”

Which features will appeal to customers?

“The 4K resolution offers customers a massive increase in on-screen pixel count to support ever more demanding requirements. The increased resolution will be of benefit in traditional single projector installations for all kinds of applications, but of greatest interest will be the immersive sector. Resolution is so important here because the user experience is often so much closer to the image. Therefore, smaller pixel size and higher pixel density is vital for drawing the viewer into the image and helping it to be as lifelike as possible.”

How does this series of projectors contribute to reducing energy consumption and lowering carbon footprint?

“The carbon footprint of projectors can build throughout their lifetime, from manufacturing, through transit, lifetime usage and into end of life. There is a clear requirement for high specification projectors to benefit education, information sharing and wellbeing through positive experiences, so the question is then

how to limit their environmental impact. What Epson have achieved is to create the world’s smallest and lightest 4K projectors at both the 10,000- and 20,000 lumen benchmarks. Straight away this means carbon savings on material costs and initial shipping, but also in the rental and staging world, where these projectors may continue to be transported hundreds of times, the ongoing savings on logistics from that reduced size and weight will really add up. In spaces where pixel density is the most critical factor, we can now offer the same pixel count with fewer projectors, realising further savings.”

“Being compatible with our existing lens range, many customers will be able to upgrade or add to projector fleets without the need to obtain a new lens or fleet of lenses – this re-use of accessories is vital in reducing raw material consumption. Finally, the power consumption of these projectors also stacks up incredibly well against alternative technologies such as DVLED, especially when you scale up to larger image sizes.”

Where can we expect to see the EB-PQ2000 Series in the coming months?

“We have been lucky to demonstrate early viewings of the EB-PQ2000 Series at Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) for the past two years, while the product has continued to be perfected for launch. The demonstrations were varied, showing set-ups such as MTR rooms – where detail is essential to support the various content elements on screen and

the wider 21:9 aspect ratio – and big screen imagery, showcasing the lifelike impact we can now offer with vibrant content delivered through Epson’s trusty 3LCD engine and new 4K Crystal Motion chipset. The only drawback has been the wait for final release, but with stock flowing from May 2024. We’re excited to get started on the queue of customer projects for both rental and fixed installation.”

Paul Wilson, Business Manager (High Brightness Projectors) at Epson UK.




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Ammonite Studios underlines the importance of storytelling, disclosing the creative and technical expertise required to create unique experiences for audiences without forgetting the founding principles of performance.

Technology can be pivotal in a production, yet devoid of a compelling narrative, it becomes a novelty. In a bid to counteract this – by blending technical mastery and creative ingenuity – London-based Ammonite Studios and its founders Jon Lyle and Rob Casey have been instrumental in creating some of the most extraordinary productions in recent memory while honouring the fundamentals of theatre. “We believe that our background in theatre has meant that we can bring this level of detail, discipline, and storytelling to other mediums within the live events sector in a truly ground-breaking way,” Lyle and Casey informed TPi.

Among Ammonite’s impressive portfolio are projects including award-winning West End and Broadway shows, Les Misérables, Frozen The Musical, Back to the Future, and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. This year, Ammonite is part of the stellar creative team behind the West End’s highly anticipated technical masterpiece, The Picture of Dorian Gray starring Succession’s Sarah Snook.

Collaborating with Australian Video Designer, David Bergman, Ammonite used innovative video design and trailblazing technology to bring to life 26 characters, never seen before in London’s West End. “It’s key to put storytelling at the centre of conversations and decisions; technology can play a critical role in a production, but without the story, it becomes a gimmick,” asserted the duo.

“W hen we are designing a show, we keep the capabilities of the current technology front and centre, which means we push the expectations

of audiences every time all in collaboration with fantastic designers, producers, technicians, and engineers.”

Ly le and Casey also highlighted their focus on sustainability within projects. “We have found that it is often in the physical delivery of the design that the most impactful environmental shift can occur,” the designers said, highlighting the materials used, the method of shipping, or the travel arrangements of the crew as focus points.

Continuing to push boundaries, Ammonite has recently produced The Performance Laboratory at London’s prestigious Royal College of Music (RCM) and Imperial College London, which combines state-of-the-art acoustics, simulation technology and visual graphics to allow students and musicians at RCM to refine performances in real-world, dynamic conditions with reactive virtual audiences. The Performance Laboratory strives to shorten the stride from practice to performance. According to Ammonite, often, training is in sterile environments. As a result, people can hone their safety skills, but they might fall apart in the real world.

“T he Laboratory looks to recreate stressful conditions in a controlled environment that can be used to improve their coping mechanisms,” they noted.

The Performance Laboratory was a project of two halves. The first was opening the possibilities and boundaries, and the second was packaging that down to an experience students and professors could intuitively navigate without training.

“Creating the simulator software required numerous departments and subcontractors to contribute small elements; we began by creating a template for the experience, how it is navigated, its behaviour, and the variables that can affect each stage of the journey,” the designers recalled.

“T his was written out in full form and then contracted into script by the engine builder. It became essential for identifying the assets we needed to assemble, including 3D modelling, motion-captured performances, GUI interfaces, audio effects, vocal and facial captures and ADR.” It’s clear Ammonite prides itself on being a studio that weaves creative design with technical realisation.

“We are constantly questioning our work in the design phases for feasibility and methodology,” they commented. “The brilliant thing about the two being so interwoven is they also work in reverse; we keep on top of the latest technology by visiting tradeshows, reading trade publications, and visiting and creating relationships with suppliers. This knowledge allows us to feed this into the creative process to be able to break boundaries by utilising the latest technical innovations within our designs.”

As w ith many creative studios, some of Ammonite’s most exciting projects on the horizon are inevitably embargoed. However, the firm are said to be “really excited” about the “level of diversification” within its growing portfolio. “We are looking forward to the rest of 2024 and what the future holds!”

Words: Jacob Waite
Photo: Ammonite Studios
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TPi delves into the unique sound control capabilities of HOLOPLOT and finds out how this can revolutionise accessibility across the live events space.

With 2010s Equality Act enforcing 116 pieces of legislation surrounding diversity and inclusion, the conversation around accessibility is growing and for live events that is no different. HOLOPLOT is revolutionising access with its one-of-a-kind technology that enables new possibilities for inclusivity for fans and crew alike.

With HOLOPLOT, audio has become malleable, allowing sound to be precisely directed into different sections of a space making it possible for fans to access different sound levels tailored to their needs.

“W ith traditional speakers, we can compare sound dispersion to light distribution from a lightbulb – you switch it on and the energy goes everywhere,” explained Natalia Szczepanczyk, Segment Manager for Immersive and Experiential Applications at HOLOPLOT. “With HOLOPLOT, it is more like a spotlight – you decide where to direct it.”

This begs the question, can the manipulation of sound promote accessibility in the industry? For HOLOPLOT, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’. The NEU Project explored the steps the wider industry can take to be more inclusive to fans and delved into different elements. A huge part of this was emphasis on space and awareness of it.

“We often view space as neutral but even with events, space is never neutral. Space tells a person whether they are safe or not, and how people perceive an event space will inform and impact their entire experience,” the NEU Project explained.

“HOLOPLOT understands space and its cruciality in creating enjoyable atmospheres at gigs. With a HOLOPLOT system space can be transformed entirely, with separate sections of a crowd able to experience different sonic environments,” added Szczepanczyk.

With an estimated 15-20% of the world’s population being neurodivergent, it is understood that neurodivergent people have always attended events, but their needs have never been at the forefront of the operation.

“Sensory overload is caused by an influx of multiple things happening at the same time, and if audio is one of those things that can trigger you, we can help,” she enthused. “The control we have gives you the opportunity to adapt the mix in different sections of a room. You could filter higher frequencies or reduce levels to make the balcony quieter for example.”

While this is ground-breaking technology for those with extra access needs, the same principle can improve the working environment for staff, as the excessive sound levels can be navigated away from bar areas, without compromising audience experience.

The HOLOPLOT system can also help further cultural inclusion by catering to translation in an unseen before way. With HOLOPLOT, live simultaneous translation can be placed in different sections of the venue to allow an inclusive experience for multiple cultures – a feat that hasn’t been possible without headphones until now. “You simply create different language zones within the audience. The translation then happens

simultaneously, without interrupting the show,” Szczepanczyk explained. “It allows people of different cultures and languages to experience the same thing, at the same time.”

“W hen you’re standing in your preferred language zone, and you can hear every word, it makes a huge difference. By controlling the sound and steering it to where it is needed we achieve higher intelligibility so you can listen without having to strain, which means you can pay attention for longer and the event is then more enjoyable,” Szczepanczyk continued.

HOLOPLOT can grant this accessibility through one system, and while this wasn’t the company’s primary intention during its inception, the technology has already been deployed in the ways mentioned above.

“HOLOPLOT was founded in 2011 and the conversation around diversity and accessibility has been amplified since then. People are more alert to the discussion and the topic remains more visible, and this rings true for the events space as well,” Szczepanczyk added.

For lasting changes to become a reality, the industry must accept new technology such as HOLOPLOT’s Matrix Array. “The ultimate goal would be for people to no longer need to request assistance,” Szczepanczyk said.

“We’re continuously expanding into more and more market segments and are looking to further educate the industry on these additional benefits of our unique technology – once we do that, it will be easier for this level of accessibility to become a standard.”



Matt Cheshire looks back on 25 years of The Needs Group, reflecting on everything from artist liaison through to aviation.

“I knew I always wanted to be in the music industry,” reflected Matt Cheshire, speaking to TPi about the history of his company, The Needs Group. The Managing Director spoke of the plethora of services that The Needs Group offers the live events industry. The company, which has been serving the industry for the past 25 years, provides everything from artist liaison and air charters to furniture for backstage dressing rooms – a true Swiss army knife for those working in the sector.

Cheshire got his start in the events space working for several broadcast companies from the BBC to ITV, although he always had his eye on the live side of the industry. It was through his work at the BBC that he crossed paths with one Pete Tong and began a relationship with the artist, which he has continued, serving as his Tour Manager for many years.

“T he real origin of The Needs Group followed a period where I took a redundancy payout from a broadcast company and started focusing on festivals,” commented Cheshire. “At that time, we placed a focus on artist liaison services and it just expanded from there.”

The company now proudly states on its website that it’s “the most comprehensive provider for artist needs in the world”. The team has five full members of staff including Matt Cheshire. This includes Directors, Rob and Rachel Cheshire as well as Artist Liaison Managers, Gareth Rees and Becky Barwell. The company grew exponentially as Cheshire and his team saw potential avenues – air charter being a prime example. For 17 years, The Needs Group has been working with clients using its in-house system, which can track over 8,000 aircraft worldwide to ensure artists get the best priced charter. “A good 50% of my day is now taken up doing flights,”

chuckled Cheshire. This service has also seen the company moving into new markets –specifically sporting, where it often organises travel for Premier League clubs alongside its continued work with music industry clients.

Yet as quickly as the aviation is growing, Cheshire is proud that the events side of the industry continues to thrive. “We are working on 135 shows this summer on top of all our work within aviation,” he stated. “This includes a number of shows for Live Nation and Festival Republic.” Notable highlights are Scarborough Open Air Theatre and Gunnersbury Park.

“Even after 25 years, the events and aviation markets continue to grow, as does our range of furniture, which we provided for everything from VIP areas to backstage dressing rooms,” Cheshire commented, adding that the

company houses all its stock of furniture in its warehouse in Leeds before shipped it around the UK as and when it’s needed.

With the summer coming up – Cheshire explained how the core team of five would inflate to 60 to handle the increased workload with many of those being freelancers. It led Cheshire to express his concerns with getting younger people into the industry.

“For those guys coming through the ranks, it’s harder than ever before due to the logistics of getting them out on the road. We, as an industry, must look after these people. I’ve always said that knowledge is power. It’s why we at The Needs Group are always keen to work with students – artist liaison work is often a great entry point into the industry.”

Words: Stew Hume
Photo: The Needs Group
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LIVE (Live music Industry Venues & Entertainment) CEO, Jon Collins shares his thoughts following the release of the Freelancer Survey.

What was the idea behind the launch of the Freelancer Survey?

“One of LIVE’s key objectives is to develop better data on all aspects of the UK live music industry – from total value to ticket buying, employment and touring. Each of our specialist groups identifies issues and data needs on a rolling basis and we then seek to fill that need. Freelancers are integral to how live music operates but there is precious little information out there about their experience and sentiment. This survey explores pay transparency and the personal experiences of freelancers at live music events. It aims to help freelancers understand their true value and benchmark their own experience whilst also celebrating what makes live music a great industry for freelancers. It is intended to set a benchmark to better understand where we are today so that, via our LIVE Workforce group, we can look to improve the picture on matters such as recruitment and retention.”

Was this a collaborative effort?

“This work would not have been possible without the expert input of our key partners: Suzi Green at The Back Lounge, Paul Jones at UK Live Event Freelancers Forum, and Richard Turrell at Handle Freelance Solutions. All have helped to shape the initial questionnaire, encourage completions, and analyse the

output. We must thank Richard and Handle for the time and resource they have offered to underpin this work. In addition, LIVE Head of Partnerships, Gaby Cartwright, has been an important conduit between this work, as well as the wider LIVE Workforce group and the LIVE Board.”

What has the response been like?

“We have been pleased to see people from right across our industry recognise the importance of gaining a better understanding of the thoughts, views, and experiences of freelancers. We all know that the COVID-19 pandemic broke many of the traditional rhythms of the sector: the supply and demand of events, audiences to attend them and teams to work them. Insight into the needs and motivations of the various generations will help us to tailor better programmes to recruit and retain. We are delighted that just under 1,300 people completed this survey. It will provide a base from which to build in years to come.”

Do you have any initial takeaways from the survey’s findings?

“One thing is clear… people love working in live music. That shines through at every event you attend, and it comes through in the survey. Of course, we also need to know the areas in which improvement is required so we are

currently poring over the data around how people secure jobs, their terms, and conditions and, a thorny old issue, what happens on cancellation. Given the wider pressures in live music at present, most obvious in the current spate of festival cancellations, that is an issue that is going to be particularly prevalent this summer season.”

How do you hope the data drawn from this survey will be used moving forward?

“Data like this has an internal and an external purpose, helping us support our lobbying efforts and develop support documents and guidance to make our sector an even more exciting and rewarding place to find and build a career. With a potential Labour government in the future (should they win the election) there is a likely new deal for working people which will include measures, and in the party’s own words, ‘To make sure that a freelance career in the arts remains a viable prospect.’ The more we can show progress, the less likely we are to see inappropriate UK government intervention and the more likely government is to offer support on our wider asks for live music. For example, a VAT reduction and EU touring reform. It is all connected.”

The full report will be available for free on LIVE’s website: Look out for a follow up in TPi #282.


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