TOTAL PRODUCTION INTERNATIONAL LIVE EVENT DESIGN & TECHNOLOGY • APRIL 2018 • ISSUE 224
One show, two designs. It’s a homecoming triumph for the Manchester band, who welcomed special guest, John Grant. I SAW YOU TRY AND STOP THE SUNSET ON YOUR OWN...
INTERVIEW: JOHN STADIUS • PRODUCTION FUTURES • STEREOPHONICS • THE TPi AWARDS 2018 AUDIO FOCUS: X FACTOR LIVE • IMAGINE DRAGONS • ALL TIME LOW • GEAR HEADS: AUDIO-TECHNICA
APRIL 2018 #224
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CHAIN HOISTS • CONTROL SYSTEMS • SOLUTIONS CHANGE... FOR THE BETTER? It has just been announced that VER in the US has entered into an agreement to merge with PRG. Although rumours had been circulating for some time regarding the two video and lighting giants, it was VER CEO Digby Davies who released a statement in the wake of the company filing for bankruptcy. Part of the official release reads: To facilitate the implementation of this pre-negotiated transaction, VER today filed voluntary petitions for reorganisation under Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code in the US Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. These filings only affect the Company’s North American operations. By uniting, PRG and VER will meet evolving client needs and offer solutions, resources and expertise in ways neither company could achieve independently. Clients will have access to an extraordinary array of equipment and services, and the most talented team in the industry. How exactly this will affect morale among freelancers and influence the general mood in the visuals sector of the live events industry remains to be seen, but a notable consequence of bigger companies joining forces is the emergence of smaller, independent ones. Over the last couple of years, businesses have begun to fill gaps in the marketplace, offering the option of smaller scale service providers, often headed up by well-known experts who have branched off on their own terms. I’m personally interested to see how these changes will affect the next set of TPi Awards voting and subsequent winners. 2019 will be a telling year... Speaking of which, the full TPi Awards production report begins on Pg. 42. Again, thank you to all of our suppliers and sponsors - it was my favourite one to date! Elsewhere in the magazine, Elbow, our cover stars, put on a brilliant hometown show with magnificent support from John Grant; read the full story on Pg. 26. Imagine Dragons and Stereophonics’ crews let us hang out backstage on their latest tours, and I was lucky enough to interview pro audio legend [and hair style icon], DiGiCo’s John Stadius. Check it out on Pg. 82. As we’re about to leave on a Frankfurt-bound plane for PL+S 2018, many of our regular readers are in Austria working on Snowbombing festival, including the lovely Cordi Ashwell of Decordia, pictured above as we hit an indoor slope last month. You can learn all about her busy work as a festival themeing and decorating pro in this month’s Road Diaries (Pg. 94). Kel Murray Editor EDITOR Kel Murray Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7738 154689 e-mail: email@example.com
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Issue 224 - April 2018
TOTAL PRODUCTION INTERNATIONAL is a controlled circulation magazine, published 12 times a year by Mondiale Publishing Limited under licence. ISSN 1461-3786 Copyright © 2017 Mondiale Publishing Limited. All contents of this publication are subject to worldwide copyright protection and reproduction in whole or part, in any form whatsoever, is expressly forbidden without the prior written consent of the Publishers. Every effort is taken to ensure accuracy in the preparation of this publication but neither Mondiale Publishing Ltd, nor the Editor, can be held responsible for its contents or any consequential loss or damage resulting from information published. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Publishers or Editor. The Publishers accept no responsibility for the return of unsolicited manuscripts, photographs, illustrations, advertising materials or artwork. Total Production International USPS: (ISSN 1461 3786) is published 12 times a year by Mondiale Publishing Limited United Kingdom. The 2017 US annual subscription price is 117USD. Airfreight and mailing in the USA by Agent named Air Business, C/O WorldNet Shipping USA Inc., 155-11 146th Avenue, Jamaica, New York, NY11434. Periodicals postage paid at Jamaica NY 11431. US Postmaster: Send address changes to Total Production International, Air Business Ltd, C/O WorldNet Shipping USA Inc., 155-11 146th Avenue, Jamaica, New York, NY11434. Subscription records are maintained at Mondiale Publishing Ltd. Waterloo Place, Watson Square, Stockport, SK1 3AZ, UK.
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Daytime TPi Catch up on all the action from the day’s lively panel discussions.
All Time Low The American 4-piece return to the UK with the Last Young Renegade tour.
The X Factor Live The world-renowned singing competition hits the road again with Wigwam.
Feeder The Welsh rockers deliver a strikingly nostalgic new show design.
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26 Elbow & John Grant Kel and Stew join forces to bring you a double profile from Manchester Arena. 42
TPi Awards How do you impress a room full of 1,500 gig-hardened industry professionals year after year? Find out here...
Stereophonics Eschewing the ‘more is more’ of previous outings, the band’s latest tour draws on over 20 years of musical success.
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70 Imagine Dragons The US phenomenon braves Storm Emma to play Glasgow’s SSE Hydro.
DiGiCo’s resident ‘mad scientist’ and pro audio legend, John Stadius, talks shop.
Live Nation’s Simon Gallacher talks TPi through the dual life of a promoter & TM.
PRODUCTION FUTURES 90
Lighting Designer Elliot Baines is 14 years old. 14. Years. Old. Read all about the rising star here.
We get the R&D story behind Audio- Technica’s 5000 Series microphone.
ROAD DIARIES 95
Decordia Events’ Cordi Ashwell looks ahead to yet another busy festival season.
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PSA: THE BIGGER PICTURE 98 The ALD puts forward the case to #SaveStageLighting.
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102 Medialease Managing Director, Paul Robson, takes the hot seat.
BARRY BARTLETT 1954 – 2018
It is with great sadness that Britannia Row Productions has reported the death of Barry Bartlett on Good Friday, 30 April, after a year-long struggle with cancer. He died peacefully, surrounded by his family. Barry had been a freelance sound engineer all of his working life and had worked as such for Britannia Row for many years. In 2012, he became the Course Director for Britannia Row Productions Training (BRPT), a post he held until his passing. At the end of 2017, Barry also took up the part-time post of Training Manager. Barry was driven by a few key passions. He was fanatical about music in all its forms and in its history; and live audio, passing on his vast knowledge to others through his course writing and editing and tutoring. He had a keen interest in good red wine. He drank with appreciation and always responsibly. Above all, he was passionate about his family, his wife Fiona and their 2 daughters, Isabella and Sophia. Both Isabella and Sophia are brilliant young musicians playing violin, clarinet and guitar. Barry was immensely proud of their achievements. One of the early bands that Barry worked with after attending Goldsmiths College was Squeeze. There followed a long career in live sound engineering working closely with artists such as Damon Albarn and on many, many Britannia Row projects. Barry loved working with acoustic instruments from full orchestras to electric ensembles incorporating acoustic instruments. The more esoteric and ethnic the instruments, the more Barry enjoyed the challenge. In 2012, Barry pushed the idea that Britannia Row’s notes
for training its young audio technicians should be developed to offer training externally. This he did, and BRPT was born. Since the first course in September 2013, Barry went on to develop several other courses that are in the BRPT repertoire, right up degree level with the 3 Year BSc Hons Degree Course validated by the University of Northampton and run in conjunction with South Thames College. In just over four and a half years, Barry has put over 120 young people on the road to careers in live audio. Getting a training venture established was and still is a tough proposition. Barry was tenacious. He never gave up. He never gave up with his battle with cancer either. He fought it, he fought for his students and he fought for his family right up to the end. Britannia Row Productions Training Managing Director, Mike Lowe spoke to Barry on the phone last Thursday afternoon, a few hours before he died: “He was obviously very, very ill, having deteriorated hugely in recent days. He was still concerned about everyone and everything that he had always held dear. He is and will be sorely missed. One of our tutors and a protégé of Barry’s, Luca Stefani, wrote to me – I will do everything I can to keep Barry’s dream rolling. We are going to do just that. Barry - rest in peace. You did much good in your life. You had a good life.” Funeral arrangements for Barry will be announced in the coming days online and on the Britannia Row Productions and Training website www.britanniarow.com. TPi 08
ARTISTS AND ROAD CREW REMEMBER BACKLINE TECH BEN ADAMS
“It was a real pleasure working with Ben on the Faithless tour - he had such a lovely calm energy which made rehearsals a very chilled & enjoyable experience, and he kindly took my son Nate under his wing once we were on tour, to show him the ropes of being a tech wiz - which he absolutely loved, and talks about to this day! Ben was a true professional and a gentle spirit who we were privileged to know, albeit too briefly.” Sister Bliss, Faithless
on Chris’s baseball cap, black hoodie and jeans and, when the Pet Shop Boys were announced, walked across the roof to meet me at the centre of the building where we stopped for a moment before the huge crowd. Ben looked suitably unenthusiastic and then we walked off. No one noticed it wasn’t Chris - not even our manager!” Neil Tennent, Pet Shop Boys “Chris Griffiths and I worked as the Tour Managers on Craig David’s 2003 World Tour. Pete Bell was the Production Manager and Ben was the Keyboard Tech and Programmer. Starting in the Middle East, we swung through Asia heading for our Australian arena tour. The routing left a great deal to be desired and had us playing shows, packing freight onto pallets immediately afterwards, flying to the next destination and, more often than not, loading in for the next show on the day we arrived. “After Dubai, Bahrain, Penang, Jakarta, Surabaya and Hong Kong, we flew into Thailand. After Bangkok we travelled onto Seoul, Osaka, Tokyo and Taipei until finally flying into Brisbane. Another late night load-in and we all returned to the hotel for some sleep and Ben took the last of the tablets he had bought in Thailand... “Suddenly, due to a medical reaction, Ben started to go into anaphylactic shock. When the paramedics arrived, Pete and I were instructed to hold Ben still while they administered a full-on Pulp Fiction style adrenalin injection and then took him off to hospital. When I visited him an hour or so later, he was hooked up to a couple of machines and a drip and looked like he might be there for a while. However, as soundcheck was about to start, he was dropped off by an ambulance and pushed into backstage area via wheelchair... He was back behind the playback rig like nothing had even happened.” John Martin, Production Manager
“I first met Ben on The Lighthouse Family where he was sharing technology babysitting with Simon ‘Crommie’ Crompton. Crommie had bagsied the keyboard set ups - neither of which was that difficult, leaving Ben with percussion as it had a sampler and drums. Never a day passed without Ben looking wistfully at Simon whilst he struggled with endless chimes, triangles, congas and cymbals! However, he took it in his usual positive attitude and a smile. We came together again not long after for the Prodigy. We worked together for quite some time, and our friendship grew. When he had to miss some Prodigy shows I remember him making a laminated a sign for the keyboard case. It gave a few basic set up instructions, but at the bottom in bold marked: “The keyboard technician is not responsible for guitars and definitely not the drum kit. If the TM says you are, show him this sign! Love Ben x” I will even miss his temper, and that cheeky smile!” Jon Burton, FOH Engineer “When we were performing Battleship Potemkin with an orchestra in Dresden in 2006, the film was projected onto a huge apartment building with the orchestra members seated in balconies around the screen. The whole event was planned to start with me and Chris [Lowe] walking across the flat roof of the building into a spotlight. The only problem was that Chris doesn’t like heights and so suggested that Ben, who was a similar height and build, replaced him. Chris told him to keep his head down and not to look “too keen” so he would have the authentic Lowe demeanour. Ben put
“I worked with Ben on many tours throughout the ‘90s onwards. There are too many stories to tell; he was a great guy and a talented backline tech - a true all round roadie who will be sorely missed.” Tony Gittins, Production Manager 10
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DAYTIME TPi For the second consecutive year, Daytime TPi served as a more relaxed counterpoint to the TPi Awards, offering a mixture of informal networking and timely panel discussions to precede the evening’s black tie ceremony. The 2018 edition of Daytime saw the venue change from Battersea Evolution, where the awards are also held, to the nearby Pestana Chelsea Bridge Hotel & Spa. “The first Daytime being in Battersea undoubtedly presented logistical challenges,” said Production Manager for the Awards, GoTo Live’s Ryan Esson. “Personally, being someone who thrives on challenges, I enjoyed the cut and thrust of a 20-man crew making a whole Daytime set disappear but, in order to create atmosphere and intimacy for that event, it possibly wasn’t the right place - particularly while the event is still growing.” In charge of Daytime was GoTo Live’s Chris Hill, who added: “This was the first time I was involved with the TPi Awards. I got to London the day before the Awards and had already been in conversation with various people via email, so I knew what to expect. When I arrived it was liaising with Transition Video, who provided screens, 3D Set Co who supplied the stage elements, while Sound Of Music took care of audio. Then I had to liaise with the venue itself, because we needed special parking permits
to get the stuff in. It went really smoothly and the Pestana team were very helpful. If we needed anything or had any special requests they were always happy to help.” As well as creating additional opportunities to network with industry colleagues, Daytime was introduced to foster wide-ranging and pertinent debates, rather than facilitate the traditional single topic-led discussions. The 2018 edition featured 2 panel sessions, the first of which - In discussion: Training, Education and Career Development - was chaired by the PSA’s Andy Lenthall and focussed on the next generation of touring professionals. Following a relaxed networking lunch, the attendees then sat back down for an intense and necessary discussion; that of Crew Welfare and Mental Health, which was moderated by TPi’s own Kel Murray. Away from the main room, which was situated below ground at the Pestana, were demo rooms hosted by Sennheiser and HD Pro Audio, where attendees could get hands-on time with some cutting edge technology. TPi www.tpiawards.com/daytime-tpi/ http://gotolive.co.uk www.pahire.com www.transitionvideo.com 12
In Discussion: Tr aining, Education and C ar eer Development Backstage Academy’s Glen Rowe, Adlib’s Andy Dockerty, Talks On Tour’s Estelle Wilkinson, UK Music’s Oliver Morris and Clock Your Skills’ Denise Stanley all made the time to discuss the future of the industry at Daytime TPi, with moderator Andy Lenthall opening proceedings. The conversation touched on a number of areas, including the higher education vs. apprenticeship debate, and how those already in the industry can gain official recognition for their existing expertise. Dockerty detailed the way in which Adlib has gone into local schools and staged gigs that involve the students in every department, designed to engender the sense of achievement that comes with working together to put on a successful show. “You can involve a whole school on a show day at the end of it all,” he said. “And it shows them first hand how all the different parts of the industry work together… with the exception trucking and bussing maybe!” Morris added: “It’s about sharing good practice and motivating companies to step up. Music is under pressure in schools - GCSEs have dropped, as have Music Tech BTECs - and this is having a massive knock-on effect. The creative industries need to step in and fill this void that’s being left.” This idea was supported by Wilkinson, who detailed how she would rather inspire pupils than bombard them with information: “I came from a little village in Wales and ended up managing Coldplay - just hearing that story will motivate kids more than a load of dry facts and figures. It’s all about kindling that spark.” As well as inspiring the next generation, the panel was also keen to stress how ineffectual the traditional school educational route can be. “I fucking hate careers advisors,” said a typically bashful Rowe. “The problem is that they don’t understand. Little Jimmy’s parents will tell them he likes climbing trees and they’ll tell him to be a tree surgeon - don’t be a fucking tree surgeon Jimmy, be a rigger! “It’s true we’re in a state of flux right now but education can be an accelerator if done properly. You’ve just got to keep yourself open to gaining as much experience as possible and widen your skillset accordingly.” Things became even more fervent when the discussion turned towards the drive to develop the careers of those who have already paid their dues in the industry. Chief among the recurring concepts in this part of the debate were the words “recognition” and “validation”, both of which were championed by Clock Your Skills’ Stanley, who commented: “You can’t ignore that this is a political situation we’ve found ourselves in, created by
the business of education. As a result we are trying to establish a framework that can be used provide validation for adults who learnt outside of universities or schools; where you spend over the majority of your life.” Following the event, Lenthall added: “It was heartening to see that our sector has produced innovative, effective approaches to creating valid and valuable entry points for young people. Coupled with the addition of Clock Your Skills, we have the makings of a virtuous circle of recognised experts developing the careers of the next generation of production talent.” www.psa.org.uk www.backstage-academy.co.uk www.clockyourskills.com www.ukmusic.org www.adlib.co.uk
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In Discussion: Cr ew Welfar e and Mental Health
Chaired by TPi’s Editor, Kel Murray, this session turned attendees’ attention to the harsh realities facing those struggling with mental health issues on the road. The panel was made up of Production Manager Jim Digby of the Event Safety Alliance, Tour Manager Andy Franks of Music Support, The Fifth Estate’s Sarah Rushton-Read and PSA General Manager, Andy Lenthall. Daytime TPi aims to be an open platform for productive change. As our readers, we not only take a vested interest in your careers, but value your happiness & wellbeing too. The session began in sombre mood as Digby, long-time PM for Linkin Park, showed some light-hearted video footage of the band’s frontman spending time with his family and friends - what he called the “real” Chester - taken 24 hours before he ended his own life in 2017. The purpose was to show just how difficult it was to spot signs of ill mental health. Digby began: “You cannot see suicide, and as an industry we are predisposed to end up there, both on stage and behind the scenes. You don’t eat right, you don’t sleep right, day in, day out, without recognising what it’s doing to your inner self. We as an industry and as a society don’t make it ok to talk about thoughts like suicide. Step one to preventing situations like this to attempt to create genuine bonds on a tour. It’s hard to find time for human connections in a busy day, but these connections matter.” Rushton-Read concurred: “We normalise dysfunctional environments in this industry. It all becomes part of the challenge, and that include not wanting to bother people with your problems. We have to encourage people to get help if they’re feeling the weight of all this instead of perpetuating a destructive cycle. “How are these massive companies still not being held accountable when it’s their employees that are succumbing to this? It’s so sad, but for now we only have each other; and that makes any training the industry can give all the more necessary.”
Franks was keen to highlight how Music Support was turning its attention to the TMs and PMs themselves in order to provide education and help to lay the foundations for industry best practice in this still relatively uncharted area. “Even companies that have HR departments aren’t necessarily trained to deal with things like this,” he said. “People don’t necessarily want to speak to someone in their company because of stigma. It’s a very lonely place, and exactly why our tagline is ‘you are not alone’.” Despite a less than ideal situation, people were still keen to praise the initiatives already being taken. Panel attendee Leanne McPherson commented: “Amazing individuals like Franksy are leading the way when it comes to highlighting the issue of crew welfare by offering, amongst other services, 24/7 help. Businesses like Britannia Row have already put a number of their employees through a Mental Health First Aid course. Others have made their pledge to Change Direction. Easy steps like these bring the issues of mental health and addiction to the table - they make them visible. “The more industry professionals who follow suit, the less these issues will remain taboo. The more we welcome open conversation, the better the level of support will be for those who need it. If managers, both in offices and out on the road, are armed with the resources to help - and the ability to offer that help without prejudice - the industry has a better chance of protecting its gems.” Following the panel, Lenthall concluded: “Thankfully, welfare and mental health has topped the agenda recently; to be able to gather together groups that are taking action and to encourage the industry to improve its approach to mental health is key to increasing momentum.” www.musicsupport.org www.changedirection.org www.psa.org.uk https://mhfaengland.org/ www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk www.ukna.org 14
Daytime T Pi Demo Rooms HD Pr o Audio HD Pro Audio held a technology showcase at Daytime TPi that allowed visitors to experience the long-awaited integration of the Avid VENUE S6L console with Waves plug-ins. The VENUE 5.7 software update and WSG-HD Option Card for the Avid VENUE S6L delivers the most comprehensive integration of Waves SoundGrid plug-ins found in any audio console. From show file compatibility, mapped encoders, multi-touch control, and automatic delay compensation, to auto-failover redundancy and safety features, the Avid and Waves teams didn’t stop working until all of the requirements were achieved. These features are released as part of the VENUE 5.7 software for VENUE S6L, to greatly expand the creative toolset for live sound engineers.
HD Pro Audio also showed the latest from KLANG:technologies, including the new KOS 3 software with parametric EQ and L-Acoustics’ revolutionary Syva loudspeaker system. Commenting on the company’s involvement in Daytime TPi, Sales Director Andy Huffer noted: “We’re excited to be at Daytime TPi this year; it’s a great chance to get the latest pro audio developments in front of key industry figures. Whether it’s a preview of the Avid S6L Waves integration, the new L-Acoustics Syva loudspeaker or the revolutionary KLANG:technologies 3D IEM mixing system - there’s something for everyone involved in audio production.” www.hdproaudio.co.uk
Sennheiser Along with sponsoring the Favourite Sound Rental Company category at the Awards, Sennheiser also showcased its Digital 6000 wireless microphone system at Daytime TPi. The Digital 6000 Series of radio microphones brings outstanding audio quality and rock-solid RF wireless transmission to demanding live productions. As the microphone system of choice of an increasing number of engineers, it’s fast becoming an essential part of many rental companies’ inventories including Britannia Row Productions, Stage Sound Services, SSE, Adlib, Capital Sound and Skan PA. Using the same long-range mode and Sennheiser’s proprietary Digital Audio Codec as the top-of-the-range Digital 9000 Series, the Digital 6000 comprises a 2-channel receiver in 2 different versions, a bodypack and a handheld transmitter, as well as a rack-mount 19-inch charging unit. The SKM 6000 wireless live vocal microphone delivers more channels and better transmission performance via the
intermodulationfree handheld transmitter, with maximum spectral efficiency and huge signal reliability. Compatibility with Sennheiser and Neumann capsules is via the Sennheiser standard capsule interface, and up to 5.5 hours of trouble free operation is assured with a lithium-ion battery pack. The recently released free firmware update for all EM 6000 receivers will also be on show. The update essentially enables a Command function that lets users set up a talkback channel with suitable transmitters, whilst the EM 6000 Dante has been upgraded to feature a secondary Dante port. David Atkinson, Trade Marketing Manager - Pro Audio Solutions - UK & Ireland, commented: “Attendance was good during the day, and we had a steady wave of rental company guys and production managers coming through to learn more about our Digital 6000 wireless mic system.” www.sennheiser.com
ALL TIME LOW The American 4-piece returned to the UK with their Last Young Renegade tour. With a focus on visual content and a stage show inspired by the band’s latest music videos, this was certainly a show any All Time Low fan would not want to miss. TPi’s Stew Hume reports.
This is not the first time All Time Low (ATL) have graced the pages of TPi. Back in 2016, Kel visited the band and crew on the Back To The Future Hearts tour. Almost 2 years to the day since their front cover debut, we found ourselves backstage in Manchester Arena with long-time LD, Jeff Maker, to talk about what he had in store for the band’s latest live offering. Hailing from Boston, Massachusetts, Maker has been with ATL for the last 9 years. Proudly sporting his Red Sox baseball cap, he discussed how he first entered the ATL camp. “It was actually a friend of mine who started working for All Time Low first,” he began. “I had given him some fundamental training on lighting but when he wanted to move on he asked if I would be interested in filling his place. I went out with them for a couple of weeks, after which they asked if I would like to come aboard. That was 9 years ago and I have never looked back!” It certainly has been quite a decade for the band, who have gone from favourites of the punk-rock scene in the mid 2000’s to the full-blown arena rock band they are today. For the upcoming tour, the quartet wanted to give their hardcore fans a special treat. Maker elaborated: “This year marks the 10-year anniversary of their album So Wrong It’s Right. To celebrate, the guys decided they wanted to play the album in its entirety, which we did for a select a few select dates in the US.” It went down so well in the states, ATL
announced they would also bring this rare treat to the UK. “For these UK shows, the guys are essentially opening for themselves; playing the album in full before the ‘real’ show began,” explained Maker. But rather than simply play through the album, Maker suggested the band ramp up the nostalgia: “The whole goal of this set is to make the band look like they did 10 years ago. We have brought along some rugged looking cabs, which we have up lit with a smaller backdrop. I think it will be great for the fans who have been with them a long time as well as those newer to the group who will never have seen many of these songs live. It really showcases how far the band has come in the last decade.” Throwback over, ATL’s full production began. Maker discussed some of the main concepts behind this latest live incarnation. “For our last headline tour, we dipped our toes into the world of video,” began the LD. “We placed 4 diamond-shaped video screens upstage from the band and, although they looked impressive, for this run we were interested in including some more custom content rather than relying so heavily on IMAG shots.” Video Content Creator, Oliver Hutchinson helped the LD and band to realise this vision. “The entire Last Young Renegade is very much a concept driven album,” stated Maker. “Each song is a chapter in a wider story, a theme carried on in the recent music videos with the aid of Director Patrick Tracy.” When it came to creating the content for the show, Hutchinson 16
ALL TIME LOW
Below: LD Jeff Maker preparing for the tour at Fly By Nite’s rehearsal facility, FBN Studios.
took the latest video’s aesthetic and, according to Maker, “ran with it.” He continued: “I worked very closely with Oliver in the design process working out colour schemes, but I would say that my lighting design very much worked around the content rather than the other way around.” The content was all played on a large upstage video wall, which was supplied by Video Design. Video Director Mark Davis talked TPi though some of the technical aspects of the video department: “Video Design have provided us with a Winvision Air 9mm as well as a selection of robo cams and 2 handheld for the pit. They’re a really great company to work with and really shine when it comes to building bespoke video systems for tours. It’s definitely not an off-the-shelf deal.” Davis described his goal for the IMAG cut: “It’s very similar to last time in terms of the looks we’re after. For ATL it’s all about showing lots of movement. This job is made slightly easier by the fact that they are a very energetic band. One thing we tried to do a bit more was integrate the crowd, which I think we’ve done well. All the feedback we’ve had has been
positive so we must be doing something right.” Maker commented on the work of the video department: “For this run I really let them steer their own ship. They are getting great content from the IMAG and I really trust the team we have on this one. I’m not one for micromanaging and that means I can focus on the main performance area.” Some of the main workhouse fixtures for the tour included a selection of Robe products including; 26 MegaPointes, 24 Pointes, 14 Spiiders, 8 LED Beam 150’s and 12 ROBIN 600’s. “I’ve been really impressed with the MegaPointes,” began Maker. “I specified them before I had even seen them in the flesh after seeing the optics and stat sheets. I remember thinking at the time, if it was even half as good as the company were saying, it would be worth having on the road. However, I got to see them during a conference in San Francisco and realised they were spot on. It’s like having a BMFL but the prism features on the MegaPointe are incredible. You can do 32, 6 and 8 facets and create some great looks, not to mention the layering of gobos.” Maker opted to use 8 of the MegaPointes behind the main riser with the
ALL TIME LOW
rest hung in the air. “Through the show I use the ground MegaPointes to silhouette our drummer, Rian Dawson. One of the main uses of those in the air is to really fill out my stage - which they do very well.” Maker complimented the Spiider, adding: “It really is like having 4 fixtures in one, from the sharp beam to the large gobo. Having those on the rig has the added benefit of keeping your fixture count down as it can fill so many roles.” Also featured on the rig were 6 Elation Professional Proton 3K Color Strobes and 10 Elation Professional SIXBAR 1000’s. Finally, on the rider were 4 Lycian Stage Lighting M2 Modular Followspot Systems. For control, Maker opted for an Avolites Sapphire touch. “The Sapphire is always my go-to console,” said the LD. “I’m fluent in every console on the current market but the Avolites Sapphire can do it all in half the time. I also love the pixel mapping on the system and the shape generators are seamless. Another bonus is the touch screen, which is super sensitive. I never find I need to tap the screen twice.” Maker had 2 consoles at FOH networked together, with which he could launch content for the rear video, also wall making use of 2 Green Hippo Hippotizers. Despite all of the technology surrounding him, Maker admitted one of the most powerful tools at his disposal was a pen and paper. He said: “In my opinion, it’s the best way to jot down my ideas and it makes the whole process more creative.” Prior to the UK tour, the production made a temporary home in Fly By Nite Rehearsal Studios for 3 days. “I was joking around with the owners that I want to live there for the rest of my life. The facilities are amazing. We stayed the night, worked all day then I would carry on programing away to the early hours.” Once again Zig Zag Lighting supplied Maker with all his lighting needs. “I have used Zig Zag for almost 7 years,” he stated. “They have taken care of us and each time we are in the UK we get supplied with the same crew, which is amazing. They are one of the family!” The Last Young Renegade tour further solidified this working relationship between band and supplier as Tom Clifford-Loynes, long-time Lighting Tech for Zig Zag, stepped up to the role of Production Manager for this run. Maker said: “Tom has been with us for some time. It’s indicative of how this band are with people. When they find someone they like - they to hang on to them!” Zig Zag Lighting’s founder, Neil Hunt, talked about the company’s
involvement with the band. “We have been working with Jeff Maker and All Time Low since early 2012,” he began. “Over the years, the band have drawn bigger audiences to larger venues. As well as doing longer tours of theatre shows - still with a big emphasis on visuals - this is their third UK arena tour. The lights for the current arena tour focussed on the shape of the video screen and we worked with Jeff to arrive at the design he used. We needed fixtures that would cut through bright video content and the tour coincided nicely with the arrival of our new Robe MegaPointes, which were a fixture Jeff had wanted to spec. “Jeff is great to work with, always coming up with fresh designs while maintaining a beam-driven feel to the show that complements the energy of All Time Low’s live performance. He is a very hands-on operator, which manifests in the dynamic energy his shows create.” Finally, adding to the visual spectacle was BPM SFX, which provided a selection of pyrotechnic elements to the tour. These included 8 Sparkulars, 8 Magic FX Flamaniacs, 4 Stadium Shots for confetti & streamers and 2 Stadium Blasters for confetti. “We were first approached by PM Tom Clifford-Loynes back in November,” said BPM SFX’s Senior Project Coordinator, Katie Strickland. “There were a couple of design options at the beginning, so after discussions with Tom and input from the band, it was settled to go with the current spec for maximum impact within the parameters of show design and budgets.” Joining the crew on the tour was Special Effects Technician, Jack Gillham. “Tom organised everything really well so it was so easy for us to slot straight into the team,” added Strickland. “The ATL crew are a great bunch, which makes our job so much more enjoyable.” Even with the whistle-stop tour of the UK now completed, the band and crew apparently can’t get enough of life on the road. ATL are now heading back to the States to enjoy another leg of the album campaign, which will take them all the way through until the end of the summer season. TPi Photos: Joshua Halling www.alltimelow.com www.zigzaglighting.co.uk www.video-design.co.uk www.bpm-sfx.com 18
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THE X FACTOR LIVE To mirror the format shake up trailed on the 2017 edition of TV’s The X Factor; the show’s live tour also experimented with a few notable changes including more collaborations between artists, variation in the running order and increased audience participation.
FOH Engineer Nick Warren has been involved with The X Factor Live tour for 5 years, 2 as stage manager and 3 in his current position. He began: “For me, this year has been the most professional in terms of the artists. We’ve had a very high standard of singing and professionalism on a production level. Iain Whitehead of Production North always puts together a fantastic team of people to work on it, which makes the hard schedule more than bearable. I also spend 2 days with the MD, Richard Taylor, balancing the tracks and outputs at his studio before we hit preproduction; where time is always tight.” The audio kit for the tour again came courtesy of Wigwam Acoustics, which provided a d&b audiotechnik PA based on a core system of 68 J-8’s and J-12’s, with 12 J-SUBs and plenty of Y-Series boxes for infills. Warren commented: “We’ve used Wigwam’s d&b audiotechnik J-Series system for the last 3 years. Don Parks always techs for the tour and I wouldn’t have it any other way; my only request to Don was that we run it analogue as much as possible. From the output of the desk all the way to the amps is digital free and I swear it sounds better for it. Also lets not forget Don’s ears. I may have to listen to Jennifer Warnes every day but the PA always sounds amazing, thanks to him!” He continued: “As I have mixed this 3 times I thought it safe to change the desk this year and was very happy I did. I’d never advise changing more than 1 component on a tour because then you don’t have a consistent
reference point; it’s also the quickest way to get a P45.” Warren selected the Allen & Heath dLive S7000 for the tour, and was quick to praise its sound quality and ease of use. He said: “It has been a joy to use from setting it up at Wigwam to using it on the tour. The stereo imaging is fantastic and the on-board plug-ins and effects sound so good you can throw your iLoks and Waves servers away.” As well as the usual demands of a high-level arena tour, The X Factor also has a number of idiosyncrasies for the audio crew to deal with, including multiple artists and disparate musical styles. Warren explained: “It’s a really interesting tour to do and a challenge on many levels. Firstly there’s the teacher element; the better I can communicate to the artists what I need from them, the better the end result for me on the shows. From how to hold the mic to what Sean [Horsman, Monitor Engineer] puts in their ears it all contributes to the consistency that I’m after. “Most of that happens in pre-production and then on the road every day we have a very regimented sound check routine. Each artist gets a song on the B stage so they can get their head around the different room sounds and delays. As soon as they are happy (a verse and a chorus usually) we stop the track and move on, as we have so many artists to get through. “I’m a massive believer in minimal sound checks. For me, anything else ruins my day and the band or artist’s performance always suffers for it.” 20
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THE X FACTOR LIVE
Above: FOH Engineer Nick Warren.
With the exception of the vocals, and any artists that play guitars or pianos, the whole of the show’s audio came from a playback system. Warren explained the process: “The MD, Richard Taylor, will get the stems from the show around November and re-record various things. These are usually BVs (his wife Annie does a lot of these) and Tim Maple, a fab guitarist, usually replaces the guitars. The strings are replaced in songs that will benefit from the real thing. “Richard always works magic with his budget and the tracks always sound better for it. He has a live background, which helps in how things should sound live. We run 24 tracks, mostly stereo pairs bar kick and bass. We use 2 QLab systems running in tandem on Apple Macs with switchers in line before we get it so we can quickly go to machine B if we need to.” He continued: “I EQ each performer vocal to suit their vocal tone, usually a bit of HPF and then 9 times out of 10 it’s just pulling out those frequencies that make you go cross-eyed. Then I’ll run the vocals into a stereo group so I can slightly pan vocal acts with more than 1 microphone. I put a bit of squash on the group and then I can have 1 vocal VCA to look after all the vocals (not forgetting telephone exchange type on/off every song with the mics). “I run scenes for the tracks but the vocals are done manually. It’s the best way and it keeps you on your toes for the whole show. After that, it’s just a case of putting a bit of nice reverb on the vocals and that’s it. On the mics front this year we used the new Shure digital radio mics, which after a few initial teething problems were great.” Aside from Parks and Horsman, the audio crew was completed by Ralph Smart, who had a number of different duties during the course of a show day. Warren said: “Ralph is a pup of 30 years who has trained with the old Wigwam boys and has that same ‘nothing is to much trouble’, can-do attitude. Don will fly the stage right PA, Ralph takes care of stage left, and Sean will take care of monitor world and understage while I’ll do FOH and Multi. “Don then tunes the system while Ralph checks the big RF set up. Once sound check and the show arrives, Ralph dons his most important cap; managing the mics and IEMs (with complete novices). You can imagine a load of artists performing and moving around all over the arena with a mic
and ears each is a bit of a challenge. “We have a big, lit up table backstage with everything set out, and from rehearsal we make sure they get into the habit of bringing stuff back. Stuff still gets left in dressing rooms and so on but it seems to be the best way of working.” Monitor Engineer, Sean Horsman, first did The X Factor tour in 2009 through Production North in Leeds, with this year’s run being his sixth outing. He opted for a DiGiCo SD10, citing its flexibility as a key strength. He said: “It gives me all the outputs required, although I think we ended up with around 40 on this run. The show is now only multi-track playback with the occasional live instrument, but there are up to 14 singers, individual or in groups, who take to the stage at various times, so snapshots with judicious recall safe usage makes it perfect for the job. “We had a rack of 16 Sennheiser SR2050 for IEM. All of the artists used moulded earpieces, which were supplied to them from their time in the TV studio, and I had no say in the choice. They all had the same model so there was no second-guessing between them, though I used my old Ultimate Ears UE11 workhorses. I love ‘em.” The artists themselves had all used IEM systems either with generic or moulded earpieces on the TV show, so they were all very much at home with them. “One artist had an ear problem that meant they had to use generics,” Horsman added. “That person was particularly sensitive about ‘things in their ears’, but soldiered on through admirably. The live show has a B stage, which is often 35-40m in front of the stage, so dealing with the delay from the PA is something they all had to learn about. “In general we didn’t have any problems. Sound checking could potentially be like herding cats, but between Nick, Ralph, Richard and myself, we had a regimented system where all of the artists checked their B stage sound and then practiced any walks they had to do through the audience. The crew are all familiar with each other through the years and there’s plenty of fun banter to be had along the way!” TPi Photos: Tom Dymond www.itv.com/xfactor/live-shows www.sseaudiogroup.com/wigwam/home 22
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FEEDER Following the release of the Best Of Feeder / Arrow album, the band announced a UK-wide tour complete with a striking show design and a healthy dose of nostalgia. TPi’s Stew Hume caught up with LD Bryan Leitch for Feeder’s Manchester Academy date to discuss his latest creation.
Once again jumping aboard the Feeder production was long-time LD and MIRRAD’s own Bryan Leitch. Last time he was featured in the magazine, we covered his charitable Cancer Bonus Tour where he visited venues up and down the UK in a classic 1963 Vauxhall Victor, all in the name of fundraising for Blood Wise and Sussex Cancer Fund. Standing at FOH of Manchester Academy - and thankful for some shelter for the rain - Leitch told TPi about this latest Feeder live incarnation. Starting with the band back in the early 2000’s on the Comfort in Sound cycle, the LD told TPi how this current tour paid homage to those glory days. “When I first started with the band it was all about projecting power - both physically and metaphorically,” began Leitch. “For a lot of our shows we used a massive rear projection wall streaming content throughout the night. Back in those days our stage designs were very upstage heavy with very little effect lighting downstage. With this design we have definitely paid homage to those older looks with a large upstage screen.” The screen in question was made up of 72 BT6 Video Panels, courtesy of lighting and video supplier, Colour Sound Experiment. The screen was split into 3 individual sections, driven by 2 Green Hippo V4 Media servers; all of which was launched by Leitch at FOH via an Avolites Sapphire Touch.
“This is the first time I’ve toured with the V4 but I have been very impressed,” stated Leitch. As well as having all his lighting cue lists for Feeder’s extensive back catalogue, for each song Leitch had up to 4 layers of video that he could manually mix throughout the show. “For me it really clicked when I realised you can treat the video as a fixture. I have really enjoyed the effects I’ve been able to produce on it.” Prior to the tour, lead singer Grant Nicholas had explained to Leitch how, as the tour was a 20th anniversary celebration and how he wanted to include serval old images and graphics of the band. “I had a hard drive full of this at my disposal,” explained Leitch as he showed off some of the classic photos. “What I really like about the Green Hippo is that you can load almost any video or image file into it and it will work.” Leitch also produced serval pieces of original content, all courtesy of his iPhone X. “Before the tour I went out and about my hometown of Brighton and filmed various pieces including waves crashing on the beach. Then, with the help of Dave Cohen from MIRRAD, we loaded everything into the Hippo along with the archived footage. It really looks fantastic and I’m sure Tim Cook will be happy his technology is being put to such good use!” “The Hippo’s personality that Avolites have created is flawless,” 24
Below: Lighting Crew Chief, James Hinds and LD Bryan Leitch; The MIRRAD LD using and Avolites Sapphire Touch.
continued Leitch, while discussing the benefits of his Sapphire Touch. “I’m a big fan of Avolites consoles as a whole but if the tour budget allows, then I always prefer the Sapphire. For me, it comes down to accessibility. In terms of power it’s no different from a Quartz but the fact that I can have entire scenes out in front of me and everything is a button push away is a great position to be in. It also makes programming so much faster.” Away from the console, the LD discussed some of the lighting fixtures he had selected for this run. “The goal was to make the stage design more 3D than we had done in the past. As I said before, the earlier Feeder looks were very much led from behind. This time round we wanted to create more dynamics. This also fits in with their more contemporary music, which is slightly more reflective than the ‘in-your-face’ tracks of the past.” Framing the entire stage at the Manchester Academy were 6 Showsec Vintage Blaze 55’s. “I first came across them at PLASA last year,” recalled Leitch. “I was immediately taken with them and made a b-line for the Colour Sound Experiment team to go and take a look. I begged them to invest, which they thankfully did. I have already used them on several shows and they are really impressive. They really pack a punch. With the HPL lamp and the 2 different LED sources you can get so many different looks out of them. They also work as an effective audience blinder.” Also on the rig were myriad Robe fixtures, including 10 Robe MegaPointes, 8 Robin 600 LED Washes, 4 Robin 300 LED Washes, and 6 Robin 1200 LED Washes. Also present were 12 Prolights AIR6PIXs, 10 Claypaky Stormy CCs, 6 ETC Source Fours and 10 2-lite molefays. Finally completing the rider were 2 Smoke Factory Tour Hazer II’s. Joining Leitch on tour was Lighting Crew Chief, James Hinds, from Colour Sound Experiment. “James is a vastly experienced and his
knowledge, especially in video, is unparalleled. He’s one of those guys that can turn his hand to anything, which is invaluable as the lighting crew for this one are just me and him.” To close, Leitch wanted to extend his gratitude to lighting supplier, Colour Sound Experiment. “Haydn and the guys have once again been fantastic. They were incredibly generous in letting us use their new section of the warehouse to prep the show prior to hitting the road. As great as WYSIWIG is for preparing a show, nothing compares to seeing a design in the flesh. I always compare it to listening to your favorite artist through a pair of cheap headphones - you will get the feel but nothing compares to hearing them live!” As for the equipment, the veteran LD had nothing but compliments: “We only have a few days left of this run and we haven’t even had to replace a cable, let alone a spare fixture - all of which is testament to the quality control the guys at Colour Sound have in place.” Haydn ‘H’ Cruickshank, Founder of Colour Sound Experiment, commented: “It is always a pleasure to work with Bryan, his enthusiasm is infectious. The show looked amazing, it was first time I’d seen the Vintage Blaze 55’s used, I love ‘em!” With all corners of the UK getting their dose of Feeder, the band and crew made their way over to mainland Europe to continue the campaign. Those who missed the band’s latest UK run needn’t fret however, as the band have already announced a long list of festival dates throughout the summer. TPi www.feederweb.com www.mirrad.com www.coloursound.com
IN CONCERT: ELBOW WITH SPECIAL GUEST JOHN GRANT The melodic Manchester indie rock outfit made a welcome return to UK arenas alongside their latest release, The Best Of, and took in a sold out hometown show. This was perhaps made even more special by the opening act: a performance by male vocal powerhouse, John Grant. The tour was an undeniable success, as TPi discovered…
Elbow’s live show produces an experience that simultaneously reflects the epic grandeur of their music while still managing to create the intimate environments of their club-show origins. The friendly yet dominating voice of frontman Guy Garvey, despite bellowing across 18,000 people, still somehow makes you feel as if you’re having a chat in his lounge. As TPi found out, this not only makes the crowds feel at ease, but the crew too. And in this case, the touring parties of 2 tightly-knit road families. “This is more like a town meeting than a show,” declared Guy Garvey as he addressed his Manchester audience with that familial, humble swagger. We could be at a far smaller show were it not for the scale of this jaw-dropping production. It was a busy 2017 for Elbow; if a number 1 album in Little Fictions wasn’t enough, the band was also celebrating their 20th anniversary. To acknowledge this, they released The Best Of - a hand-picked selection of highlights from an impressive back catalogue.
The tour consisted of a whistle-stop run of the UK & Ireland including gigs in Glasgow, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and London. It may not seem like the most complicated of runs, but there were some unusual elements that no amount of preparation could contend with; namely Storm Emma. Uncharacteristic snowfall in the UK created some challenging logistical issues for Piper’s crew. “We began the tour in Dublin with the plan to head over to do a show in Amsterdam and then return to Glasgow,” explained Piper. “But while we were in Amsterdam, the weather really turned. By the time we got word the Glasgow show was pulled; 2 of the busses had already made it to the Scottish border with the rest stuck in London.” Fortuitously, due to scheduling, the band was able to postpone the show a by a mere few days. “It’s always bizarre when tours get diverted,” said Piper. “Your whole cycle and energy on tour is concentrated on the work day and travel time is when you sleep. When you are diverting 72 crew and 4 busses, it certainly feels strange.” Such radical change to a touring schedule would be hard on any crew but Piper assured TPi his team’s attitude had been fantastic. He added: “Elbow have been working with many of this crew for so long that everyone is self-motivated and they want the tour to go well. They don’t treat things such as extra days or bad weather as an inconvenience. They think, ‘What can I do to make it work?’ We are very lucky to have such a committed crew.”
PRODUCTION “In our original outlook for the Little Fiction cycle, this arena tour was not part of the plan,” said Tom Piper, Elbow’s Production and Tour Manager, as he reminisced over the past 6 months. “In autumn last year we decided to go for this tour and I began setting the pieces into motion.” Piper brought in some of his preferred vendors including Skan PA Hire, Lite Alternative, STS Touring Productions, Popcorn Catering and production safety advisors, Piper Events Services. Providing transport were Stardes Trucking and Vans for Bands. A new addition to Piper’s repertoire was Creative Technology (CT), which catered to the band’s ambitious video elements.
DESIGN ORIGINS For the show’s aesthetic inspiration, you needn’t look any further than the tour laminates around the waists of each crewmember. “As you can see, we have used the image from The Best Of album,” explained Piper, as he pulled 27
ELBOW & JOHN GRANT
off his pass to explain. The image depicted the album cover design from The Seldom Seen Kid, which sparked the imagination of Show Designer, Cate Carter of Bryte Design, who took up the story. “My initial idea was to recreate the album cover,” she began. The designer first started working with the band over 10 years ago, and stated: “It’s the longest working relationship I have had with any artist; Elbow have given me a great deal of creative freedom, which is an absolute dream for a designer.” The show consisted of 2 large LED screens rigged at a 90-degree angle behind the band to form 2 sides of a mighty cube. There were 9 smaller set cubes in the roof with reflective bottoms to mirror the content streamed on the large video screens. Carter was conscious to avoid making “such a statement that the band wouldn’t be able to create those intimate moments that are so synonymous with Elbow”, adding, “The goal was to have a flexible space able to create multiple looks.” Throughout the show the smaller set cubes descended from their start position via a Kinesys system supplied by Lite Alternative and operated by Chris Roper. Of the creative team who helped pull all the pieces together, Carter said: “This whole arena tour has been incredibly collaborative and it’s a part of the show I really enjoy; everyone gets to leave a bit of their mark on the show.” Fellow Bryte Design team member Mike Smith aided in show designs, and Paul ‘Pablo’ Beckett tailored a lot of the video content. “Matt Pitman, our Lighting Programmer, was another invaluable member of the team with us throughout rehearsals and the first few shows,” commented Carter. “He’s an incredibly talented programmer and it was a pleasure to collaborate with him.” Working alongside Carter on visuals were Video Director Phil Woodhead and Screens Director, Leo Flint, who explained how video was such an integral part of the show: “When we began to develop this tour we knew video was going to play a key part. The tour is a celebration of the band’s career and we wanted to showcase content spanning their 2-decade history.” Throughout the evening, fans were treated to a true selection of
content from the Super 8 Indie film flicker to represent their earlier career all the way to the colourful Rob Hunter artwork on last year’s Little Fictions album cover.” Carter and the production opted to have both video and lighting situated at FOH. “Long gone are the days of separate lighting and video departments,” stated Carter. “It’s so integral to have a good relationship with your video team. Personally, I just categorise us as the ‘visual department’ and having the whole team in such close proximity really creates synergy between Leo, Phil and myself.” LIGHTING RIG On her rider, Carter has 14 Martin by Harman MAC Viper AirFXs and 10 MAC Viper Profiles as her main beam fixtures. More Martin fixtures present on the rig were 14 MAC Auras. “Audience lighting is very important to the band,” explained Carter. “I’ve got 32 TMB Solaris Flares and 2 & 4-Lite PAR 36’s, which I use to light up the ground. However, I’ve also used the MAC Auras by placing them on the front truss to put more coloured light into the room. This means I can give more constant illumination, which isn’t too distracting from the main show design - and keeps the blinders in the back pocket for when I really need to make an impact.” The LD also made used of a heavy arsenal of GLP impression X4 Bar 20’s - 68 to be precise. “It is such a beautiful fixture,” commented Carter. “For this tour, I’ve used them as an architectural set light on the cubes. Almost like a light curtain along the outside of the stage, framing the cubes perfectly. They are a dream.” Lite Alternative also provided the production with 12 Claypaky Sharpys, 8 Scenius Unicos and 2 Robert Juliat Flo 1800 MSR Follow Spots, not forgetting the 21m mirror balls that were used to great effect in the band’s track Mirrorball - nice touch, Carter! For control the LD opted for 2 MA Lighting grandMA2’s. “I first started working on MA 6 years ago, with Elbow, in fact. I’ve never been back since.” As it has for the last 5 years, Lite Alternative supplied the arsenal 28
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ELBOW & JOHN GRANT
of fixtures. “We have been very proud to work with Elbow,” stated Lite Alternative’s Jon Greaves. “There is an additional degree of pride seeing a local Manchester band make it to the international stage.” Greaves discussed some of the technical challenges with this latest production: “The centrepiece of this design was a custom individual set of pods on a Kinesys hoist to create a fluid and ever-changing stage. The pods provide a focal point and allowed for visual fluidity in both the lighting effects and the large video screen areas. Finding solutions for these pods and their integration into the system was perhaps the biggest challenge we faced on the build and preparation for the tour.” The pods were manufactured by MetalMan and then shipped over to incorporate the flying and rigging into the Kinesys control package. Lite Alternative used a Kinesys Vector control package and the Kinesys Operator was Chris Roper, who has worked with Elbow and Carter for several years. “It’s been to a pleasure to work with such a positive and relaxed band, production and design team,” concluded Greaves. “They all fit together like a much-loved jigsaw and provide a smooth, charming, seemingly effortless production which just leaves you with a huge smile and feeling of well-being post show. Long may the music, the band, and the production continue.”
Screens Director Leo Flint was very complimentary of the GX2 software. “I have used the software for some time now and, on a show of this scale, the GX2 really comes into its own. We are using the Notch software to treat most of the shots played on the screen, from grades and textures to some generative content created locally on the disguise server.” Flint, like Carter, utilised an MA Lighting grandMA2. “I find for these shows, especially when there is no timecode, I am always best with a lighting desk to launch video. Being able to touch a button to find a scene quickly is so much more intuitive. It also gives me a few more options when it comes to riding the brightness of the screens, treating the LED more as lighting fixture then a video surface.” On Flint’s shoulder at FOH was Video Director Philip Woodhead. “Essentially, my main goal when dealing with the live video content is to make sure the live camera elements worked well when mixed in with the content,” explained Woodhead. “This meant giving the camera guys extra instructions on size and positions of shots.” In total to capture the band Woodhead had at his disposal 4 Sony HXR-MC2500’s, 3 GNAT mini cams and 2 ball robot cams. There were also 2 auto pods from Polecam. Finally, for control Woodhead used the Panasonic 6000 switcher. Woodhead echoed the benefits of keeping the creative team together at FOH. “It makes sense for the person calling the shots to camera operators to actually see what is happing on the stage. It’s crazy for the one person connected to live visuals to be stuck backstage. With everyone based at FOH we all experience the same vibe which, in turn, creates a more integrated show.” Woodhead was quick to give Carter credit for this grand vision: “The ‘big picture’ is what we all strive for and Cate is one of the best in the business at bringing all the elements together. There was a really good buzz at FOH and the end product looked amazing.” The Video Director was also keen to compliment the work of CT on the tour. “I have worked with CT many times and they always provide excellent kit.” But, he said, the crew stole the show
VIDEO “We worked with Bryte Design on the previous Elbow tour,” began CT’s Head of Music, Graham Miller. “In total, we provided 2 upstage screens of 9m x 8m, which were rigged in a V shape as well as a pair of 4m x 7m LED IMAG screens.” The products in question were CT’s Glux G10 10mm screens for both the upstage wall and the IMAG. “We selected this product as we knew it was really thin and would allow us to form a really nice tight V shape,” commented Miller. The company also supplied a camera package and media servers which included a new pair of disguise GX2’S complete with Notch, which created many of the effects 30
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ELBOW & JOHN GRANT
The Elbow and John Grant crew at the conclusion of the tour; Production and Tour Manager Tom Piper; Show Designer, Cate Carter; Screens Director, Leo Flint; Audio System Technician, Joachim Dewulf.
for really knowing their stuff, and Jolyon Oliver, the Video Crew Chief, got a special shout-out for his grasp of the LED and “his own brand cider, which was certainly a welcome sight at the end of a busy day.”
latest tour. Evans first worked with the band back in 2000 when he recorded Any Day Now for their first album, taking on the role of FOH Engineer in 2004. “I’ve been using the Profile for the last 10 years or so,” stated Evans. “I like the user interface and the way it seamlessly integrates with third party plugins. It’s also a pragmatic choice, as it’s so ubiquitous, I know we’ll be able to hire a Profile cost effectively where ever we are touring.” For the tour, the only plug-ins Evans made use of, apart from those in Avid’s standard bundle, were mostly from Waves. “I particularly like the Waves Q10 EQ for making more clinical cuts and Renaissance EQs for more general tonal shaping.” The FOH Engineer also utilised the Renaissance Reverbs and H-Delay along with the C1 dynamics which according to Evans, “do what they say on the tin and give very precise control.” He continued: “Controlling sibilance on Guy’s vocal can be an issue - I’ve been using the McDSP DE555 de-esser, as it tracks the input level and doesn’t require constant re-adjustment of the threshold.” Evans went on to discuss the main aims for his live mix. “I think you can do things with the dynamics in a live context which might be considered OTT in the studio, to enhance the drama of a song. I don’t like to mix too loud, but I do like it to be dynamic. From an audience perspective, hearing the band at a decent volume through a great-sounding PA system ought to be a real treat, especially these days, with the clarity and sound quality available from a modern line-array. “In many respects, because of how much the PA technology has improved, and the advent of digital desks with automation functions, mixing in a live scenario has moved a bit closer to mixing in the studio, in terms of the techniques you can use and your expectations of what is achievable. Around 20 or 30 years ago you had to prioritise vocal intelligibility to a far greater degree and a lot of other things just had to fall in to place around that. When I first started mixing live sound in the late ‘80s - it was often quite a depressing experience! Most venues I visited had pretty bad acoustics, and the way that even the best contemporary PA systems sound more or less just spilled out of the boxes in all directions,
AUDIO Skan PA Hire supplied the tour with the latest from d&b audiotechnik’s SLSeries. In total, the main hang consisted of 18 GSL8 / 12’s per side and a side hang of 16 GSL8’s per side. The rest of the rig consisted of 16 d&b V8’s for 270-hangs, 16 SL-SUBs with 8 Y10Ps for fills. Powering the system were 50 units of d&b D80’s. “This was the first opportunity for Skan to provide d&b’s new large-format system, the GSL, for Elbow having previously used d&b’s J-Series,” commented Chris Fitch, Director of Skan PA Hire. “In conjunction with d&b’s Array Calc Processing, GSL has substantially improved our ability to provide the same sound to everyone within a tightly defined audience profile. In layman’s terms, it sounds the same everywhere and the sound only goes where it’s needed and nowhere else.” Elbow’s production welcomed back many of the same crew this year, having worked with Skan since 2004, including Joachim Dewulf. The Audio System Technician had worked on the band’s smaller theatre tour last year. The Technician discussed his first impressions of the new PA system. “The main thing people are talking about is the rear dispersion,” began Dewulf. “I actually first heard the system in Australia and I remember the PM of the show came out on stage and asked why there was no house music playing when doors were open. It really is impressive how quiet the system is behind the PA! It’s been a great system to tour with and it has sounded great out front.” Working alongside Dewulf on behalf of Skan were Monitor Tech Richie Gough, PA Tech Alvin Russ and Crew Chief Onno Ooms. “Skan are proud to have been supplying audio services for Elbow since 2004 and this tour marked another high-point in their live shows,” commented Fitch. “Elbow are consistently able to raise the bar on every tour, musically, sonically and visually.” Handling FOH duties is Danny Evans, who used an Avid Profile for this 32
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ELBOW & JOHN GRANT
so the acoustics of the venue was always much more of an issue. You had to deafen people at the front to get any kind of decent level at the back of the venue, and it wasn’t uncommon to have to use delays even in smaller venues. These days you can walk into the majority of venues feeling fairly confident you’re going to have a good day.” While on the subject of PA systems, Evans gave his opinion on the new d&b GSL System. “This was the first time I had used it and I have to say, I’m very impressed. The way it controls the dispersion throughout the frequency range means it excites the acoustic of the arena far less than previous line-arrays I’ve worked with. Wherever you are in the venue, you’re hearing more of the direct sound from the PA and less of the reverberant field. The clarity is stunning, which is a massive help when it comes to some of the denser mixes in Elbow’s set. It’s obviously also very helpful for the stage sound that so little comes out of the back of the boxes.” Fitch was keen to commented on the long-term collaboration between the FOH Engineer and Skan. “Although credit must be given to the band and their brilliant music, FOH Engineer Danny Evans deserves special mention for his ability to create a perfect mix, despite the incredibly wide dynamic range of the band’s performance. From the quietest acoustic songs through to rock, his mix is always subtly layered and easy on the ear.” Evans added: “We’ve been working with Skan for a long time, their crew are always top notch! Joachim takes great care to find out exactly what I want from the system - it’s a luxury to be able to just focus on the mix without having to chase the system EQ at the same time, & whether it was the d&b V-series, as on the previous tour, or the newer d&b GSL we used on this most recent one, I’ve always been very happy with the outcome.” Another familiar face on the audio team was Monitor Engineer, Julien Helme. Prior to working with the band, Helme was a regular on the Manchester music scene working as a sound engineer in some of the city’s beloved small venues before offering his services as a backline tech for the band. “I did several tours with them working on backline before our then monitor guy moved onto another tour and I jumped on monitors,” explained Helme - and he hasn’t left the position since. Like Evans, Helme too opted to use an Avid Profile for control. “In my experience, for monitors they are one of the easiest to use, get around
quickly and configure,” stated the Engineer matter-of-factly. “I also use a few Waves plugins so it’s a plus that the Profile supports them natively. That being said, there are a few restrictions, output bus count being one. However, all the more recent digital desks will give you decent results if you use them correctly. They all have their pros and cons and I’m quite happy to use any of them as long as it does what the band need it to at a sound quality the band are happy with.” For the tour, Helme had a number of snapshots for each song but stated there were still quite a lot of manual cues throughout the set. “There is definitely no relaxing,” he joked. “I like to try and set these up on VCA’s so you can leave the relative aux send levels, set and ready for the next day. I only see the snapshots as a starting point anyway as there are always things you can tweak. They don’t account for musician’s adrenalin or certain bits of equipment suddenly sounding differently for example. “The band’s mixes are generally quite instrument-heavy. I have audience microphones that I duplicate on the desk to give a ‘permanent’ set and a ‘crowd moments’ set. I put the crowd moments set on a VCA so in between songs and for sing along moments I can get to them very quickly.” For on-stage sound the production deployed a rack of 8 Shure PSM900 transmitters with P10R receivers for antenna diversity which, according to Helme, really helped for potential RF dropouts. He continued: “We have Craig [Potter, keys] and Alex [Reeves, drums] on Shure P6HW hardwire packs. We always try and keep static musicians hardwired where possible. The less RF on stage the better. We also had 2 of the string players hardwired.” For vocals, Helme and the audio department moved from their usual Shure UHF-R system to Axient for Guy Garvey’s main vocals. “Both Danny and I have noticed how the frequency response on Guy’s vocal was a more flat and open. Frequencies I had to previously cut or boost could be put back to nearly flat.” Evans added: “Guy’s vocal is very dynamic, and noise has been an issue with previous mics and radio systems we have used - but with the Axient this was not a problem, the noise floor was far lower and I think that tonally it appears to have a flatter (or at least more flattering) frequency response, especially in the low, mids and bass - I certainly wasn’t having to use as much EQ as I had with the older system. All the vocal 34
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ELBOW & JOHN GRANT
microphones were Shure Beta58a apart from a Beta56a on the drum vocal due to its slightly tighter pickup pattern on the top end.
show so he’s great to work with no matter what job you’re doing on the tour - and I’ve done a few!” he laughed. Heilig and Campbell had been working towards making the new John Grant show look “incredible”, as the PM furthered: “John and I sat down and discussed a look based on some artwork that was being considered for the album cover. He wanted a kind of abattoir feel to the set: industrial strip lighting which glowed in an almost menacing way, so this show is kind of taken from that concept, and Tom’s doing an amazing show bringing it to the stage.”
AN OPEN HOUSE This tour report wouldn’t be complete without a peek at what’s happening in support world, with lyrical genius John Grant. His Production Manger, Rob Heilig, explained how he’s been in the American singer’s camp for some time, gradually moving up the rungs to look after the whole production. He told TPi: “I was first brought into John’s crew as a guitar tech, which extended into drum teching before I went into a stage management role in 2015, as was required due to the growing scale of the show. It’s now grown into a core team, and we’ve got some new members on the crew too. But, as you know, both crews are very familiar with each other, as some of John’s crew, including myself, are from Manchester.” When various members of the original crew took on other jobs, Heilig was asked to undertake tour management. “However, I recommended our new TM, Melanie Knott for the job, and once she was secured, it was then suggested - that with my technical background as I’m a sound engineer by trade - that I could take on the production management aspects instead, allowing Melanie to handle to more people-orientated side of things, which she’s great at. “We also have a new monitor engineer, Mario Leal, so it’s an exciting time to come into this tour as we’re with old friends. Melanie actually recommended Mario as he’d been working with [you guessed it!] Manchester band Everything Everything, and we’d heard really good things about his work. Plus, he’s one of the Adlib-educated family so you can’t go wrong there!” he confirmed, speaking highly of the 2018 TPi Awards’ Favourite Sound Rental Company winners. “Our FOH Engineer, Ber Quinn is back with us, and I was adamant that we had to have our LD, Tom Campbell, design this tour too; we work so well together. If things need to move or if we have to accommodate something last minute, or deal with an unforeseen situation, he never puts up a fight. He’s a very relaxed creative in that sense. And, he always pulls off a clever
SHOW DESIGN Campbell joined the conversation: “Because this is an opening slot, we’ve got the bare minimum of kit considering the potential this look could warrant, yet at the same time, we’ve got a lot of stuff on stage for an opening act, because the Elbow crew, and Cate Carter especially, have been very accommodating with what space we’re allowed. John is more of a ‘special guest’ rather than a traditional support act, so they’ve really looked after us and enabled us to get the very best out of our rig.” Although the vendors for John Grant remain the same as Elbow’s, Campbell’s choice of lighting supplier is Siyan, a company that has been with the artist for as long as Campbell has been designing his sets - circa 2014. The premise of 2018’s ‘abattoir’ look centres around 8 custom-made pieces that Campbell calls his ‘reflector pods’. Standing at 2m high, the Siyan-crafted pods feature 16 of the new Martin by Harman VDO Fatrons. Campbell continued: “This look works really nicely to block off that downstage edge with the backline, so it looks streamlined and clean in a theatrical way. Essentially, everything I do for John is theatrical, and although this is a much more digital show than our previous designs have been, we’re still keeping an analogue feel to the looks we create. I’m basically trying to use digital technologies to make analogue vibe. “For my floor package, I’ve specified 8 Robe150 LED Beams. However, for the overhead lighting during John’s set, I was able to utilise some of Cate’s rig; 8 universes of equipment including the Martin by Harman MAC Viper 36
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ELBOW & JOHN GRANT
Performances, Viper Profiles and MAC Auras.” Campbell continued: “The design was put together for John - who is based in Iceland - and he subsequently approved the renders. Once the show came to life, he did say it was the first time he’d seen a render that looked exactly the same in real life!” For control, the LD used his personal Avolites Quartz console. “It’s a great bit of kit. I personally don’t see why you’d want to have a bigger desk than what you need. If it can handle the job, use it! It’s never failed me yet,” he added. Carter and the Elbow visuals team also kept Campbell’s rig in mind: “The tour was originally running a full MA Lighting system, yet once we had a chat and they knew I was bringing an Avolites desk in, they decided to use ArtNet instead. It’s these little things like that ensure we, as an opening act, are able to have the best show possible. We’ve been so well looked after! I’ve been a massive fan of Cate’s work for some time, so actually being able to tour with her has been a bit of a dream scenario.” Campbell’s own design is a striking sight to behold, gliding effortlessly from the dramatic contrast between certain tracks. “There’s quite a lot of static looks. It’s not ‘flash and trash’ as some might say; the set moves from these huge European style club numbers with lots of flashing lights, to the very subtly-lit piano ballads, but neither feels out of place. He’s such an amazing artist, so he captivates you no matter what he’s doing,” he noted. Video through this section was simply live feeds, with cameras manned by CT engineers. John Grant also does guest vocals on one of Elbow’s newer singles, Kindling (Fickle Flame). Therefore, the intertwining of the 2 acts doesn’t stop with helpful road crews, but the duo of magnetic singers actually take to the stage together. Campbell gave his final thoughts: “It’s not 2 bands when you come to this show; it’s more like one show that John gets ready, before this huge portion evolves, and then John revisits for the encore. Elbow’s show for me is just incredible; it’s definitely one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time.”
the most. His vocals are the absolute centre point of the whole show; they carry everything effortlessly. Being a big fan of an artist you get to mix is such a great honour.” Quinn also made use of the Elbow rider and so mixed on an Avid Profile from Skan, while his outboard gear is from an endorsement with Warm Audio, which he enthuses makes “amazing clones of vintage outboard.” Quinn’s much-loved effects include the Warm Audio WA2A tube compressor. The vocal microphone is a wired Shure KSM9HS, which Quinn states “has a tighter pickup pattern than the regular KSM9”. The keyboard rig is Ableton for electro loops and mainstage for keyboard sounds. He continued: “If you listen to any of John’s records, there’s a lot of double tracking, and a lot of it is heard hard left & hard right, so we’re trying to recreate this on stage as much as possible. I’d say the whole show is pretty effects-heavy. John loves them; he’s singing into a TC Helicon voice live pedal too, which we use for distortions.” The vocal effects include Audio Ease Altiverb for reverbs, Soundtoys Echoboy for delays and a Waves Reel ADT double tracker. Focusrite Clarett is also utilised for interfacing the effects. The band sounds includes drums, bass, electric guitar and then stage items such as the keyboard and synth sounds go through an Ableton set up from main stage. “John handles the keyboard and then his second position is stage right for piano. When we venture out into our own headline shows, we’ll also have an acoustic guitar and 3 backing vocalists added to the mix.” Quinn was also please with Elbow’s choice of sound rental house, staging: “Skan have been brilliant with their gear and their technicians. And of course, we’re using the best PA there is right now - the new d&b system which sounds amazing every time; no excuses.” MONITOR WORLD Over in monitor world, Mario Aguilar Leal, is the newest recruit to John Grant’s audio clan. The Mexican native settled in the UK - after studying in Liverpool - where he learnt his touring skills while working for Adlib Audio before going freelance and working with the likes of Placebo and Everything Everything. He told TPi: “I’m really excited to have joined this tour. On my first rehearsal with John, 2 hours in, he came up to the console to talk about something related to his monitor mix… and so he asked me where I’m originally from. When I told him Mexico, that was it; he started talking to me in fluent Spanish, and even in my local slang! I couldn’t believe it, it was so
FOH SOUND “His voice is amazing,” said Ber Quinn, FOH Engineer for John Grant, of the often-humorous singer. “He’s the loudest singer I’ve ever met in my life; his projection is just unreal. It makes me job easier because I can put any microphone in front of him and not have to worry; I just pick the one he suits 38
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ELBOW & JOHN GRANT
John Grant’s Production Manager, Rob Heilig & Monnitor Engineer, Mario Leal.
funny. He made me feel right at home, and it’s been like that ever since. This definitely extends to the Elbow crew too; they’ve been really hospitable, which when you’re the new guy on a new tour, makes such a difference.” Leal is using Elbow’s desk of choice, again, an Avid Profile with Waves V9 plug-ins. “The Elbow audio team are letting us use their consoles and go through their line system. I’ve got a 6-way Shure PSM900 IEM in-ear rack, and we’re carrying our own Shure microphone package too. The band is using in-ear sets provided by Jerry Harvey Audio”. “The first thing John said to me is that he likes his mix very loud! So, in essence, it is! My approach to his mix is to try and make it sound as close to the record as possible; the vocals sit on top of a balanced mix of everything else. I use the Waves C6 multi-band compressor on John’s vocal as it allows me to have full control over his impressive dynamic range without compromising the tone and character of his voice. With the piano, I’m locked into it from the moment he walks on stage and it’s important for me to also boost his vocals when he sings in a lower range part as he’ll be projecting less level.” Leal left TPi with the sentiment that, having successfully mixed his third arena show with John Grant, it was down to the team work involved. “The atmosphere is what makes this tour special; it’s really lovely to be able to work with people who are not only insanely talented, but are genuinely good to be around, 24/7,” he concluded.
She continued: “We did one in Dublin with a slightly different set-up; it had a more stripped back feel, before these arena shows took shape. I’ve never worked for anyone like John before, he’s one of a kind. He’s very funny and super talented. I’ve been really enjoying watching the shows too, making sure I catch as much as I can of it every night, because it looks and sounds amazing. “Plus,” she continued, “It’s real a joy to be on tour with Elbow again because they’re the first band I ever worked with in a production role. I worked with them for years as a Production Assistant, so to come full circle and be back on the road with them for the opening act as a Tour Manager is really lovely. “I think the main thing about this tour is that everyone’s really happy to be here, even the weather couldn’t dampen anyone’s spirits. I haven’t worked with Mario, our new Monitor Engineer before, or a lot of the band members, but there are connections between people everywhere on this tour. I think that’s one of the best things about being on the road; you make a lot of long-term relationships that transfer from tour to tour. We’re lucky that all these people are able to work together again.” TPi Photos: Andrew Benge, Aicha Thompson and TPi. www.elbow.co.uk www.johngrantmusic.com www.brytedesign.co.uk www.skanpa.co.uk www.ct-group.com www.lite-alternative.com www.popcorncatering.com http://stardes.uk www.vansforbands.co.uk www.ststouring.co.uk
LASTING RELATIONSHIPS “Rob Heilig, our Production Manager, was the first person I ever toured with over 10 years ago,” smiled Melanie Knott, as she explained how she also came to be a part of the crew. When TPi met Knott, it’s only also her third ever show with John Grant, whom she described as “extremely clever and so, so lovely.” 40
THANK YOU TO ALL OF OUR 2018 SPONSORS AND SUPPORTERS
TPi AWARDS 2018 As the dust settles on yet another successful TPi Awards, Stew Hume sits down with the crew responsible for putting all the pieces together for the event.
Every year when we relive our annual ‘get together’, it’s always hard to know where to begin. The sheer achievement of filling Battersea Evolution with almost 1,500 of this live events industry’s most wellrenowned companies and individuals is often too hard to encompass, though the whole office agreed that Shure’s Tuomo Tolonen summed it up best via Twitter: “I’m wearing a suit and there hasn’t been a funeral or a wedding. Must be the #TPiAwards2018.” Moving away from the futuristic theme of the past few years, the TPi events team, alongside GoTo Live, brought the awards back to the streets - literally. Think late ‘80s / early ‘90s hip-hop, complete with a street artist in the foyer and Flavor Flav-inspired trophies! With the flamboyant comic ringleader, Russell Kane, once again at the head of proceedings, this year’s production values were pushed further than ever before. Alongside the new look, this year saw the introduction of several new suppliers, including Visual Edge, NCL Editor, Sound of Music, Konnect Crew and TRUCKINGBY Brian Yeardley, along with the familiar faces of ArKaos, GLD Productions, 3D Set Co, Hawthorn, Robe, ShowTex, Sunbaba and Transition Video.
Jess Webb. Between us we oversee most projects at a senior level. We also have a long and ever-growing list of quality freelancers.” All of the GoTo Live team were onsite at the awards alongside freelancers Via Culpin and James Cordero. Esson discussed his approach: “I first began conversations with Mondiale’s Justin Gawne and the rest of the team back in autumn last year. One of the first things I got to see was the branding, which first launched the ‘urban street theme’ for this year. I was very excited about the concept. As great the last few years have been, the concept of space is quite abstract. This year’s was much more specific and allowed us to really focus on the details.” As well as adhering to the strong theme, Esson also stated how he looked to put TPi Magazine at the forefront of the design. This included having the magazine covers and spreads feature heavily in the opening video production as well as the TPi Bar, which was decorated with all the magazine covers from the previous 12 months. VISUALS The visuals of the TPi Awards were very much a showcase in cross-company collaboration; Visual Edge and NCL Editor produced the video content, Transition Video provided the LED infrastructure and camera package, while lighting came from the combined efforts of Robe and in-house lighting provider Hawthorn. “I was first introduced to Visual Edge and NCL Editor via a mutual supplier,” explained Esson. “Essentially they are individual companies in their own right but often collaborate on several projects.” The content team consisted of Nick Clark-Lowes, Rob Currie and Andy Taplin. Clark-Lowes began: “We were originally approached about the project by video and camera supplier Transition Video, having worked with them previously on Jamiroquai. The content throughout the night very
GOTO LIVE Leading off the production conversation was GoTo Live’s Ryan Esson. This year marked Esson’s third time filling the role of Production Manager for the Awards fully entrenching himself into the Mondiale family. With yet another successful night under his belt we sat down with the PM to talk about how he found his third TPi rodeo. “This year marks somewhat of a milestone for GoTo Live,” began Esson. “In the beginning GoTo was simply the name that went alongside my freelance production work at various festivals and events. Now it has very much transformed into its own beast. The GoTo team now consists of 4 main members; myself, Chris Hill, Dan Jones and 43
TPi AWARDS 2018
Above: The GoTo Live crew: Ryan Esson, Chris Hill, Dan Jones and Jess Webb.
much centred around a New York-esque skyline at night, before producing a brick wall back drop, similar to that used throughout the campaign on the build up to the awards.” Esson added: “Nick and Rob produced some amazing looks for the night. The level of detail they went to was incredible, right down to the finest details with lights in the windows of the building going on and off and lifts moving up and down.” Clark-Lowes spoke of the division of labour between Visual Edge and NCL Editor. “Myself, Rob and Andy all bring different skills to the table and have an overview of eachother’s roles so it’s quite easy to divide up jobs. I come from an editing / design background, while Rob’s was in video engineering and Andy started life in character animation. We created a workflow based on the job in hand. For TPi, Rob and I designed the stage. Rob also took control of the media servers. However, we all worked on the content design with Andy in charge of the 3D elements that needed to be created, before being edited.” Along with the skyline look that was streamed during the dinner portion of the evening, the content creators also ensured the video helped award ceremony flow with various stings and VT from award winners who were unable to attend to accept awards. “We wanted every section to have a way to animate in and out,” explained Clark-Lowes. “We wouldn’t do a straight cut to a new look and I believe out transitions really help the whole night move from one section to the next seamlessly. We were well aware that there would be content coming in very late from winners that could not make it to the show, to a change in presenters for example, therefore it was important that we designed these parts of the show with flexibility, to cater of last minute changes.”
The visual team opted to use a VYV Photon Media Server for the evening. Currie elaborated: “The servers came direct from the new UK base rather than Canada. Photon is our preferred server and one that we have been using for several years now. It’s not only great at offering solid reliable playback but maintains the highest quality with its unique uncompressed media codec. The software, in my opinion, is way ahead of any other media server when it comes to working in 3D and real-time tracking. When is comes to 3D sets it’s often hard to really know what works and what doesn’t but the pre-visualisation in the Photon was great to get our heads around it. “It was good to push the boundaries on this projects,” concluded Currie. “After all, it is the awards ceremony of our industry! I think it should be a place where we see new products, designs and things being done in a different way.” Esson commented on the 2 companies’ first time at the Awards: “It’s been fantastic to work with Visual Edge and NCL Editor. They have a really strong body of work between them from the Junior Eurovision, live content for brands such as Jamiroquai as well as a whole body of corporate work. Among all the options they really stood out as they are a hybrid of corporate and live - which in many ways what the TPi Awards represents.” Transition Video supplied all the LED to showcase Visual Edge and NCL Editor’s content. This year’s package was an ambitious design with 3 layers of ROE Black Pearl 3 creating a 3D surface. The design compromised of 310 x ROE BP3 panels in 3 separate offset planes. Transition Video also made use of ROE’s ground stacking system meaning it was able to build the front 2 planes of LED from the ground up without any top rigging impairing on site lines for the third plane. “Having the 3 planes of LED gave the design a real sense of depth and really brought 44
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TPi AWARDS 2018
the whole urban city scape feel to life,” commented Transition Director Rhodri Shaw. Clark-Lowes added: “From a content point of view, the resolution was one of the biggest issues. Having a lovely ROE 3mm screen looks great, however they are an awful lot of pixels. As we split the content map into 3 - 1 for each plane - we were then working with 3 4k content maps, making it time consuming to preview all planes together. However it was the right way to go and was worth the headache!” Along with the impressive array of LED, Transition Video also supplied a sizable camera package. “This was the third year in a row that we’d worked on the TPi Awards and we used most of the same camera operators each time,” explained Shaw. This year’s package consisted of 3 Ikegami HDK 79-EXIII Camera channels, 4 Panasonic AW-UE70 Hot Heads and an AJA mini cam on the Polecam all going through a Blackmagic 2M/E ATEM 4K PPU. Transition Video drafted in industry veteran Richard Shipman as the Camera Director, a role he has held for the last 3 years. “Using a mix of manned cameras and hot heads gave Richard a massive array of shot options to play with,” commented Shaw. “Russell Kane was great to work with as his experience meant that he was chasing tally lights and playing up to the camera which was great.” Shaw gave his final thoughts on his 2018 contribution: “We thoroughly enjoyed working on this year’s TPi Awards and it was great collaborating the Nick, Rob and Andy of NCL Editor and Visual Edge. Both companies brought a fresh look to the show. This year’s design was the most ambitious and creative to date and I’m really proud of what the team achieved.” Working alongside Shaw were LED Techs Carl Stage, Justin Murray, Colm Whaley, Gilbert Roper, Victor Kortekaas, Meint Gering and Haise Veen. Also on the team were Projectionist Rupert ‘Pesh’ Dean, Systems Engineer/Media
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TPi AWARDS 2018
servers Tom Bassford and the camera team consisting of Bruce Selkirk, Joe Preston, Justin Murray and Steve Giles. Leading the lighting team for his second year at the Awards was Robe’s Nathan Wan. He said: “Last year the concentration was to pull everyone’s eyes towards the stage with all the long line of Robe Halo fixtures towards the stage. This year, as we had the skyline content, we wanted to create a ‘street light’ feel in the room.” Wan tried to create this by using 3 horseshoeshaped trusses traversing the room and an upstage truss, with 5 2m high vertical trusses each side of the stage, extending out to the corners of the room, each with a Robe Pointe on top and a PixelPATT on the front. They were perfect fillers for these black areas, as well as creating a street lamp effect. The architectural starting point for lighting the rest of the room was 4 grids of trussing, 2 at either side of the room, each loaded with 15 Robe Spiider LED wash beams. These were all tilted around 40 degrees and replicated the arena / stadium lighting bank feel. Having the Spiiders in these positions enabled Wan to run video inputs as well as programming the fixtures as a light source. “Running video through the Spiiders was something new I wanted to try for this,” commented Wan. “It worked really well and added to the overall look during the intro video.” A total 40 MegaPointes produced the main effects lighting, rigged on the 3 horseshoes and used extensively for all the aerial work with their radials, prisms and gobos. It’s a large space to fill, and the power and brightness of the MegaPointes was needed to get plenty of light and funky looks. Some 48 LEDBeam 150’s were arranged in groups of 4 on the horseshoes and used for ACL-style finger looks - ideal to match the period feel. On the upstage truss, 6 Pointes provided back light on Russell Kane and the various awards presenters, mirrored by another 6 upstage on the deck.
Getting the lighting levels onstage correct was an intricate and challenging task that combined several fixtures and a lateral approach. A pair of Robe DL7S profiles was supported with DL4F LED fresnels doing the side / cross stage filler, 2 more Spiiders boosted the lumens at the back, needed to make people pop out from the intense video backdrop. For additional stage key and front lighting there were 2 BMFL Spots with motion cameras and operated remotely via 2 RoboSpot base stations at FOH. Seventeen ColorStrobes spread across the trusses kicked in highpowered, great quality LED flooding and also specials to boost the light levels in the room, with an MDG theOne ramping up the atmosphere and haze. Working alongside the Lighting Director was regular FOH team collaborator Andy Webb and Assistant LD Jordan Tinniswood, a lighting design student at Rose Bruford College. Prior to working the show, Tinniswood underwent a rigorous selection process to get the gig through Next Robe Generation (NRG) - you can read the full story in last issue’s (#223) Production Futures column. There were several other NRG students also making up the rest of the lighting crew including; Owen Yelland, Adam Davies, James Marshall, Alexander Merrett and James Matthews. For the third year running, Avolites provided lighting control for the Awards. In total it provided 2 Arena consoles for the main room, a Tiger Touch II console for the bar area and 2 Titan Net Processors (TNPs). “The TPi Awards is one of the toughest lighting gigs of the year, because not only are our competitors all there but also the LD’s peers, and they will notice anything out of place,” said Stephen Baird-Smith, Sales Manager at Avolites. “However, we knew we were in safe hands with Nathan Wan. With so many still thinking an Avolites console is just for busking, it was great for us to be seen delivering a tightly choreographed, timecoded show.” Avolites also hosted a 4-day Level 1 and Level 2 lighting workshop for 48
TPi AWARDS 2018
members of Robe’s NRG programme in preparation for their role as lighting crew at the Awards. Tinniswood said: “There were many Titan features we learned at the workshop that became incredibly useful to us during the Awards ceremony. Using Key Frame Shapes and having auto-loads at hand meant I could tweak looks that were sometimes repeated without having to go through each cue individually. The training gave me the ability to work competently alongside Nathan; the multiuser feature meant we could both be working on two separate tasks without conflicting and that definitely sped up certain parts of pre-programming.” Baird-Smith added: “One of our core values as a company is that we are approachable. “Investing in future talent, and supporting brilliant initiatives like Robe’s NRG programme are part and parcel of supporting the industry we love.”
area the main bar. The company also supplied its renowned EasyDrape pipe and drape system around the Robe VIP on the mezzanine floor. Commenting on ShowTex’s involvement with the Awards was Marketing Manager, Bo Bettens: “We’re proud to be a structural partner of the TPi Awards, supplying all flame retardant fabrics and temporary wall systems for the third consecutive year. It was an honor to present the Award for Best Set Construction Company. Congrats to all the winners!” AUDIO Ensuring the audio was on point throughout the evening was Derby-based rental house, Sound of Music. This was the first time Esson and the GoTo Live team had collaborated with the audio supplier, though the PM was more than complimentary about the service they provided: “Both Sash [Pochibko, MD] and Mike [Burwood, Project Manager] did such a fantastic job,” commented Esson. “For the TPi Awards, I think audio is one of the toughest battles to get right. Not are you only in a room of many of the industry’s leading audio specialists, the location of the venue creates some constraints in terms of volume restrictions both during set up and the shows its sell.” Throughout all of these issues, Esson commented how Sound of Music was exemplary though these trying conditions. “They were incredibly easy to work with and were always open to discuss the mechanics of the job and do what ever it took to ensure the event went smoothly,” commented the PM. The system was designed by MD Pochibko, using NEXO’s new GEO M10 mid-size line array for the main PA. Virtually invisible under a venue-wide starcloth, the small-format system featured left and right arrays of just 6 cabinets of GEO M10, with a small cluster of 2 M10 modules above the centre of the wide stage. Mid-way down the venue were 2 delayed clusters
EXTRA VISUAL Dressing main stage with stage trim, carpet tread cladding and LED ground stack hides, was Manchester based 3D Set Co. “We first met Ryan for a briefing early in January to discuss the design approach for this year’s awards,” commented 3D Set Co’s Matt Kirwan. The company also created the large 3D lectern that was in the shape of one of the awards. “The most rewarding part of the job was seeing the lectern on all the social media pictures,” commented Kirwan. “That’s job satisfaction in my eyes. The whole job was thoroughly thought out and every aspect was looked at. We love working with Ryan and prior to the show he often rang with questions to make sure we have not missed small details that can make or break an event like the TPi Awards.” Also making a return to this year’s awards was ShowTex, again providing over 200 running metres of black draping to highlight the impressive stage design and to create a flexible separation wall between the main dinning 50
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of 4 M10 cabinets. Frontfill and outfill were provided by NEXO’s supercompact ID Series point-source cabinets. Under the supervision of Audio Production Manager Mike Burwood, the set up used entirely digital signal path, from the Sennheiser 6000 Series radio microphones (with Ciaron McKenna in charge of RF) to the loudspeakers, all running over a Dante network. Once the main Awards was over, all the guests moved into the aftershow party, where a cleverly designed NEXO system delivered the DJ’s set on an STM modular line array ground stacked system, graduating to PS Series full-range cabinets further back in the space, providing lower SPLs for those who wanted to converse. “This is quite a daunting assignment,” said Pochibko. “Not because of the nature of the job but because of the identity of the audience and the stature of the event. Getting it right is more critical here than on any other show, because we have to impress our peers - all ears are on us! The Evolution is one of the best-sounding tented venues in the country, and thanks to great planning and management from the TPi team and Production Manager Ryan Esson, the programme ran flawlessly. The level in the room was great, and the event was completed without causing any environmental problems for this densely-populated London neighbourhood.” FOH control came courtesy of the brand-new Yamaha Commercial Audio RIVAGE PM10 digital desk at FOH, provided by rental company Subfrantic. Chris Donovan mixed the show with the assistance of Toby Chevis from Sound of Music. “We supplemented the Sound of Music team by adding Chris as the FOH for the show, who was invaluable,” stated Esson. “Due to the nature of the Awards there is an element of pre-production - mixing audio tracks in advance for example. I’ve worked with Chris for
several years and it was good to have that familiarly with someone I knew behind the desk.” “We are excited to partner NEXO in support of the 2018 TPi Awards, including the FOH Engineer Of The Year award,” said Alex Warren, UK & Republic Of Ireland Sales Manager at Yamaha Commercial Audio. “It was entirely fitting that an event celebrating the very best of the live production industry was heard through a Yamaha and NEXO system.” AFTER PARTY With the main ceremony out of the way, all the awards revellers made their way into the main bar which also had a bit of a face lift this year. “This is the second year which Philips Entertainment has been the headline sponsor for the awards,” explained Esson. “As such we wanted to change the look of their VIP area bringing it down from the mezzanine floor and down to the main area.” The space upstairs then made way for the brand new TPi Bar offering yet another watering hole for the thirsty guests. Above the centre bar ArKaos was again on-hand to provide projection mapping to 3D Set Co’s large sculpture. Operations Manager, Benjamin Bauwens, was onsite to oversee the procedure. He explained how the company upped its game for this year’s event: “We started working on this project a few months prior to the event as we were managing several other aspects this year. Firstly our content creator, Maxime Guislain, created custom content for the 3D shape, which included a female animated character that was created using motion capture. The idea was that she would appear throughout the event. Essentially she was the VJ of the night, evolving on the 3D structure. ” ArKaos also worked very closely with Wan, who helped Bauwens with the lighting design of the bar area. All the lighting was running Kling-Net so 52
VIDEO AND EVENT PRODUCTION SERVICES “Their team are hardcore, knowledgeable and reliable, It’s great to work with a team we can trust 100% and a company that values pushing the boundaries of creative production as much as us!” Boomtown Fair “Top quality equipment joined by a service where nothing is too much trouble makes working with VI a seamless experience. They are my go to supplier.” Ramblin Man Fair
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TPi AWARDS 2018
Sound of Music audio team for this year’s awards; Benjamin Bauwens and Maxime Guislain from ArKaos; the 2018 lighting department; the video team consisting Visual Edge and NCL Editor who produced the video content while Transition Video provided the LED infrastructure and camera package.
the company could easily blend the light and the video together. “For the that if people wanted to talk more about business they were able to go main stage in the main room, all 60 of the Robe Spiiders were pixel mapped upstairs.” using Kling-Net through a stage server from ArKaos, ” said Wan. Back in the main bar, the visual team used the ArKaos Studio Server TRANSPORT AND CREW running MediaMaster Pro 5, which processed the 4 HD Panasonic PT-DZ21K Essential to the backbone of the show was crewing company Konnect Projectors. “The Panasonic Projectors were great for this installation,” Crew. With over 20 crew members on site supporting AV, set and stage commented Bauwens. “Thanks to their compact design, it fit perfectly in and providing production runners of the event. “Konnect have worked the room. Just like any product from Panasonic, it on many projects with GoTo Live in the past but worked with no issues all night long.” we were especially excited to be involved in the Bauwens outlined some of the technical production for the TPi Awards,” commented Daniel issues the ArKaos team faced during the event. Popplewell, London Regional Manager. “The first challenge was time. We only had a few Esson approached the company in January hours for alignment, which is why we need a and provide the whole crew for each aspect of the quick and efficient video mapping solution. The build and de-rig. “It was great to be involved in second challenge was pixel mapping. We were something so prestigious and renowned amongst using the new Robe Tarrantula, which has a very our peers in the industry. We delivered a very high big DMX footprint. To pixel map this device using standard of crew and the results were there to see. ArtNet would have been a headache, which is why It’s been a great start to 2018 and hopefully this Kling-Net was an obvious solution. It help us the will continue throughout the months to come. We “People seemed to stick keep the networking easy and we could keep the thank everybody involved and look forward to around a lot longer this Tarrantula in the smallest DMX mode.” returning in 2019!” “In terms of crowd flow I think it worked really As all the guests walked down the drive toward year and we even had some well this year,” commented Esson, giving his the entrance of Battersea Evolution, they were dancing by the DJ area which thoughts on the main bar area. “People seemed to greeted by an up-lit line of trucks from transport stick around a lot longer this year and we even had supplier TRUCKINGBY Brian Yeardley. In total, the I don’t think I have ever seen some dancing by the DJ area which I don’t think I company provided 3 production trucks comprising at the Awards!” have ever seen at the Awards! It’s a clear indicator of 2 45ft Mega Cubes and a 26-tonne ridged truck. of an improved atmosphere. I also like the dynamic Each of the vehicles were Euro 6 low emission Ryan Esson 54
Photo: Lee Allen, www.leeallenphotography.com
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TPi AWARDS 2018
eco-friendly engines, as well as being FORS for London Transport Silveraccredited. “After the load-in it was awesome that TPi allowed the trucks to be lit up outside the venue as the guests arrived, adding to the spectacle,” commented Kevin Hopper, Managing Director for TRUCKINGBY. “The amount positive feedback we have had has been unbelievable, from new and existing clients alike. People have even started to speak to us about their tour trucking needs in the future and our drivers said all night people were coming to have selfies in front of the trucks.”
“It’s been a pleasure to once again collaborate with the Mondiale events team with Justin Gawne and Hannah Eakins. GoTo Live really values the relationship and it’s always an enjoyable experience. Each year in only gets better and I look forward to what next year has in store.” We’ll see you all then… TPi Photos: Tom Martin, www.tmoose.co.uk George Harrison and TPi www.tpiawards.com www.robe.cz www.hawthorn.biz www.pahire.com www.visualedge.media www.transitionvideo.com www.arkaos.net www.brianyeardley.com www.gldproductions.com www.3dsetco.com www.showtex.com www.sunbaba.co.uk
HERE’S TO NEXT YEAR… With all 27 awards presented and the last glass of champagne sunk, the 2018 Awards officially drew to a close. Once again GoTo Live and the selection of suppliers showcased the true potential and creative limits of an Awards show. “Having taken on the show back in 2016 working alongside Dan Jones, it’s been great to see it grow both in attendance and in the level of production. Even with the new suppliers we had on board this year everyone was focussed on the same goal of making the event the best it could be. Each department really embraced the theme and it was great to have each company get to put their spin on it.
t ion in St r e et Ar t Auc suppor t of Bringing added excitement to the TPi Awards evening activities, and in keeping with the street art theme, headline sponsor Philips Vari-Lite was delighted to have secured the talents of internationallyrenowned artist Dan Kitchener. During the night Kitchener produced a unique, TPi-inspired piece of artwork live in the reception area. As he worked, the audience were invited to bid on the piece in a silent auction with the winning bid being donated to StageHand, which supports and raises awareness around suicide prevention in our industry. There were numerous generous bid placed throughout the evening but in the end it was Sven Knight who got to walk away with the Kitchener-original as well as his two TPi Awards - looks like he will have to clear some shelf space at the Knight Rigging Services (KRS) office. “KRS are delighted to be supporting the work of the PSA Welfare Benefit Fund,” commented Knight. “The work the charity does is invaluable in supporting all sectors in our community when changes in circumstance through ill health or injury mean income is reduced significantly. We at KRS are committed to supporting the health and welfare of our freelance rigging and production communities and will continue to support this charity as part of our corporate responsibility ethos.” StageHand, formerly known as the PSA Welfare & Benevolent Fund, was founded in 1998 with the backing of the Production Services Association on behalf of people working in the UK entertainment production industry. In genuine cases of hardship, the fund may provide small grants for emergency relief when an injury or illness prevents working or forces an unplanned change of career. Teresa Vallis, Marketing Manager at Philips Entertainment Lighting said: “Unlike other awards ceremony, TPi fully recognises all the supporting roles in entertainment events. It’s a wonderful night that celebrates the amazing talent within our industry, but it also reminds us that we’re a close-knit family and that we must never stop looking out for each other. We are proud of our innovative role in this business, and to once again be a supporter of this outstanding
awards celebration. We’re also delighted to be able to highlight the amazing creative talents of Dan Kitchener in order to give something back to this incredibly creative industry.” Giving his final thoughts on the event was Chair of Trustees Stagehand, Mike Lowe. “Thanks to the creative thinking of Phillips Vari-Lite, some amazing art and generous bidding, Stagehand has benefitted greatly. Thanks to all involved, we’ll be even better equipped to help industry folk in need!” www.dankitchener.bigcartel.com www.vari-lite.com
CONFERENCE: JUNE 2-8 EXHIBITS: JUNE 6-8 LAS VEGAS CONVENTION CENTER
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TPi AWARDS 2018
Sponsor s Hawthorn Rigging & Power
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STEREOPHONICS Eschewing the fun-filled effects of previous outings, Stereophonics’ latest tour draws on over 20 years of musical success, delivering a show that growls with crowd-pleasing rock ‘n’ roll confidence.
Maybe it’s the approach of rock statesmen-hood or perhaps the wellearned gravitas of their quarter-century music career, but as production manager ‘Disco’ Dave Nelson noted, this 2018 tour has seen a shift in focus for Stereophonics. While past tours may have popped with SFX, this time round it’s all about bringing the band out from behind the confetti and flames and allowing them to forge a more direct connection with their eager fans. “That came specifically from the boys,” Nelson told TPi when we caught up with the tour on the 11th night of a 15-date UK / Ireland run. “We haven’t got any FX or pyrotechnics - all that’s been put away. This time it’s more about the performance.” What this show lacks in pyro, however, it makes up for in fresh additions to the stage design - new elements introduced to aid this re-emphasis on audience connection. For the first time, the band is using a 10m centre thrust – an idea first seeded back in 2015 when the boys were playing support on a series of European festivals and got the chance to experience
a variety of catwalks, some stretching all the way to FOH. Though more modest in length, the thrust created here by LS-Live did feature a 8ft x 8ft hydraulic lift at its tip, allowing the band to be more playful with the onstage space. At its simplest, the lift raises a mic stand for lead singer Kelly Jones to walk towards at the start of the set, but later in the night is when it really comes in to its own. At the show’s midpoint, a full backline of bass guitar, keyboard, drums and vocal mic appear, along with lava lamps and standard lamps – an intimate Handbags and Gladrags aesthetic that harks back to the band’s earliest gigs, packed into tiny pub venues. In stark contrast, the night ends with drummer Jamie Morrison rising up mid-song (having slipped offstage and along the inside of the thrust), blasting out a blazing drum solo on a second, Perspex kit. LS-Live was also responsible for creating a Perspex on-stage drum riser, bespoke Perspex drum shields (more on that later) and the ego wings that flanked the stage. Instead of the 8 x 4 wings used in the past, for
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Above: PM, Dave Nelson; LD, Brent Clark; Audio Tech, Sam Cunningham; Toby Donovan, MLA Tech, and Finlay Watt, PA Tech; Video Crew Chief, Connie Glover.
this tour they extend further outwards. With arena shows selling out well beyond 180-degrees on the downstage line, up to almost 250-degrees in some venues, this extra space allowed the band to really interact with the audience sitting in what would otherwise have been restricted-view seats. Indeed, in tight venues like Wembley Arena, these side seats become some of the best in the house. For those in the rest of the arena, 3 horizontal ROE MC-7 IMAG screens were flown in a scoreboard configuration directly above the end of the thrust. This had the effect of putting video on the front foot. Rather than being simply a stage-side add-on, the trio of screens pushed the band’s presence out into the arena, bringing them closer than ever to those packed into the upper tiers. All video kit was provided by Ogle Hog. Feeds for the IMAGs and the media server came from 3 Sony HSC-100’s (a long lens at FOH and 2 pit cameras) along with 3 Camera Corps Q3 Robo Cams (1 shooting up at the singer at the end of the thrust and 1 each on the keyboard and drums). The Robo Cams have a number of presets that are locked in before each sound check to allow for variations between venues. All this is mixed together by Video Director, Paul ‘Eggy’ Eggerton, on a Grass Valley switcher. Perhaps the biggest challenge for the video team came in the form of a giant moving screen onstage, dubbed the ‘garage door’ in reference to the way it can tilt into a completely raised horizontal position and remain hidden when not in use. Though the brainchild of Lighting Designer, Brent Clark, it was left to Video Crew Chief, Connie Glover, from Ogle Hog - working with Stuart Young of Creative Technology and Julian Lavender at lighting supplier Neg Earth - to translate the idea into a reality. Together they created a system that could safely and securely hold the screen at any angle between vertical to horizontal and so open up a whole new range of options for Clark to play with. The screen comprises 3 tonnes of Creative Technology’s InfiLED 5.9mm panels, with a further 3 tonnes of truss structure locked on to its back to give it the required rigidity. One of Neg Earth’s engineer welders built a series of custom brackets that sit on top of
the screen and take the pressure off the king pin on the top of the touring frame. Thus, when tilted, all of the pressure is at the back of the screen not in the hanging bracket. Given that the screen hovers directly above the band for much of the show, ensuring everything is set up correctly is obviously essential. “It’s a crazy and exciting challenge,” commented Glover. “It weighs a lot, and the process of rigging it has been an evolving process throughout the tour; getting it in every day, and having it working ready for sound check definitely gave me and the whole team a sense of achievement. It’s one thing building big LED walls - its another when there is a truss structure to accompany it.” Thankfully the whole crew have helped ensure the process runs as smoothly as possible - not least the LD himself. “Working with Brent is amazing; he’s very patient and tolerant of the process that we have to go through. Plus, what fun would it be if it wasn’t a challenge?” Glover added. FULL TILT Often when the aspirations of a show design meet the logistical and financial constraints of cold reality, it’s the more ambitious elements that will require a real champion if they’re to make the final cut. For Brent Clark, the inclusion of the onstage garage door screen was something worth holding on to, as much for the purity of aesthetics as the diversity of thematic options it would provide. “Personally, when a screen’s not on I still see it - it’s always there. So to make it be able to disappear... that for me was just perfect,” remarked Clark. This ability to tuck the screen completely away as the audience enter the arena helps provide added impact to the opening number. As the singer slowly makes his way down the thrust, illuminated only by 6 pairs of Light Initiative IntelliWands (lightsaber-like columns) on either side, the screen is discretely lowered into position, bursting magically to life as the song hits its stride. Content for the screen - designed by Judy Jacob, in consultation with both Clark and Jones - comes from 2 Green Hippo Boreal+ servers 64
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Robb Jibson - Fall Out Boy, Train, Chevelle
All Images Credit: Elliot Ingram
See us at:
10 - 13 April Frankfurt Hall 3.0 - F65
1 - 2 May Leeds Plasa
Stand number R-D15
(maintained by Media Server Engineer Matt Villis) and is controlled by an MA Lighting grandMA2 at FOH. Clark also has the option of mixing a live feed from the switcher onto the main stage, just as the video team have the option of incorporating some effects from the Hippo to blend into the scoreboard IMAG. A pair of Kinesys trusses loaded with Claypaky Scenius Unicos and Ayrton MagicBlades are positioned one apiece in front and behind the garage door. When the screen is in use, these trusses sit horizontally along its upper and lower edges, but when it’s tucked away completely they reconfigure into chaotic angles that slash through the visual void left behind. This pleasing interplay of angles is echoed in the 4 inward-leaning side trusses (2 per side, 12 Robe Spikies on each), as well as the distorted perspective of the rectangular screen as it is half-raised into a tilted roof above the band. In addition to giving the stage a sense of depth when viewed from the front, it also frames the performers perfectly for some striking IMAG shots. Along the back of the stage were 9 rolling, pre-rigged towers that included Solaris Flares, molefays and Robe Spikies, as well as Starbeam lasers (supplied by BPM SFX) at their base. In front of that is a line of floor-mounted Martin by Harman MAC Vipers. Two of these sat under the drum riser and fired through its Plexiglas top, accompanied by chases on 4 Chroma-Q Colour Force II 72 LED bars. More Colour Force bars, this time 3 48Fs, were placed above each of the album-cover-art drapes that hung either side of the stage. A total of 6 octagonal Chroma-Q Space Forces on Kinesys - including 2 in the scoreboard truss above the end of the catwalk - descended at various points to close down the space for more intimate moments, such as the acoustic sections of the show. Also in the scoreboard truss were more moles and 6 Robe BMFL Spots. Used in conjunction with a FollowMe system, these tracked 4 targets that changed during the evening, for example when the guest saxophonist is on stage, or when the drummer strolls back from his solo stint out on the thrust. According to Clark, support from Neg Earth has been faultless. “Julian at Neg really takes care of me and the band,” he commented. “The kit’s been really great.”
instrumentalist. The new Shure Axient Digital was used to run the sax and trumpets, as well as being used for scanning. “It’s fucking awesome. I really like the new Shure stuff,” noted Cunningham. Neumann KSM105’s were the mics of choice for Jones’ distinctive vocals, with one used centre stage and one at the end of the thrust. The latter sat in the throw of the PA downfill - a challenge that has been neatly overcome thanks to a Neve 5045 outboard that FOH Engineer Dave Roden uses to supress feedback and deliver an extra 6dB of headroom. “To put a condenser microphone like that Neumann in front of a big old PA and be able to get a show level out of it is pretty cool,” said Cunningham. Back on the main stage, another elegant solution has been adopted to prevent spill from the drums being caught by the singer’s mic directly below. Instead of a clumsy big screen, the PM commissioned LS-Live to produce a series of bespoke Perspex shields that sit around the high hats. Balcony window glass clamps fix these to standard Natal drum clamps, making it easy for drum tech Stephen ‘Stilly’ Papworth to pack them away at the end of the night. The drums themselves feature an interesting collection of mics, having diversified from a straight Sennheiser set-up. So while an e901 and e904 are still used for kick in and toms respectively, elsewhere there’s: a new AKG D112 VR on kick out (“Really nice - it’s got several little pre-sets built in to it, it’s like a combination dynamic condenser microphone,” said Cunningham); Sonotronics DM-1’s specially tuned for the top and snare (“They’re the same chassis but different microphones, which we love, they’re great”); and SE Electronics Voodoo ribbon mics for the overheads and SE condenser on the hats. With a second drum kit appearing at the end of the thrust, the team were faced with sourcing a complete duplicate set of mics to go with it. Here London-based DPA distributor Sound Networks stepped in to help out, offering a full set of DPA d:vote 4099 mics for the duration of the tour. “And they’re cracking; they sound great,” commented Cunningham, explaining that these are essentially the same mics - albeit with slightly different SPL tolerances - as those being used on the sax and the trumpet. “You can put that mic on the sax and you can put it on a snare or a tom or an overhead and it sounds brilliant everywhere. The 4099 has proved to be a very useful and versatile tool on this tour,” Cunningham continued. Each guitar amp on stage is fitted with a reflector shield that houses a Beyerdynamic M201 and a Royer ribbon mic, which can be simply lifted out at the end of the night. With monitors switching to a DiGiCo SD10, it made sense for FOH to follow suit and move to an SD5. By gain sharing, the stage rack footprint has been significantly reduced, while also introducing the facility to include a B-stage rack as well as an outboard rack at FOH on the same Optocore ring. Though gain control is largely the result of a dialogue between monitors and FOH, Roden was keen to retain control over certain key channels, such as lead vocal, lead guitars, kick drum, toms and snare. To enable this, Cunningham got 16 channels of the new DiGiCo 32-bit input cards, put them in to one of the racks and locked monitors out. This gives Roden his own dedicated gain to play with, without affecting what Schopman is doing stageside.
STEREOPHONIC SOUND As Monitor Engineer, Harm Schopman, finished his final checks, Audio Tech, Sam Cunningham, took TPi on a tour of the audio kit, starting with the DiGiCo SD10 running monitors - chosen for its compact size. A pair of SD racks were used for the stage inputs, with a third rack on the optical network, shared with FOH. As the band gradually transitions to in-ears, Cunningham and Schopman have reduced wedges down to a minimum, with just one downstage and one upstage mix for Jones, run in active d&b audiotechnik M4 pairs by a single D80 amp. The singer uses Ultimate Ears 18A moulds, with the rest of the band on UE-11’s. In terms of wireless, Sennheiser 2050 was used for most of the performers, with the exception of 2 channels of Shure PSM1000 for the bass player (his preference) and brass 66
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Roden decided against using Waves on the DiGiCo, instead plumping for a rack of analogue outboard. He explained: “Audio plugins obviously have their place and work extremely well in many applications, but I felt that now was a good time to have a rethink of what I really needed and I’ve actually ended up with a similar setup to the one I had with the D5 in the mid-2000’s, except that with the welcome addition since then of the onboard dynamic EQ’s and multi band compression, I’m now using those instead of the rack or two of inserts I had back then.” “Part of the evaluation of what I needed to replace the Profile and it’s array of plugins, was which effects were essential to the show,” Roden continued. In addition to the aforementioned Neve 5045, the analogue rack comprises a dbx 120A, SPL Transient Designer, Eventide Eclipse, Bricasti M7 and Yamaha SPX2000. “I decided upon the M7 as the best reverb option, the Eclipse for some special vocal effects and the SPX for the gated reverb that I’ve been using on drums since 1986. The SPL is to replace the Sonnox plugin I previously used and is the one thing I now can’t mix without. The DBX 120A is also an alternative to one of the Waves sub harmonic plugins, which I like just to give the kick drum and floor toms a bit of an earthquake quality at times. The Neve unit is probably the one that has had the biggest impact on this tour, though.” A Mac Mini running Waves Tracks Live is connected to the board via a DiGiGrid MGB coaxial MADI interface - multitracking all inputs on stage for future virtual soundchecking. As Roden was quick to point out, delivering a great sounding show each night has been aided massively by the help and cooperation of Cunningham and Schopman. “We’re a very tight-knit group and it’s a real pleasure to work with them both,” he said. “I’d also like to thank PM ‘Disco’ Dave Nelson, Capital Sound Hire and their Crew Chief Ross Anderson, MLA Tech Toby Donovan and PA Techs Finbarr Neenan and Finlay Watt for helping to make my job much easier again.” In terms of PA, Martin Audio MLA is used for the main hangs - up to 15 MLA plus 2 MLD downfill cabinets for extra vertical and horizontal coverage. Sidehangs are MLAC, with up to 16 per side available for the largest arenas. Subs are comprised of 2 centre hangs at 40-degree angles, 6 MLX each in cardioid configuration, then 3 MLX cardioid on the ground (L-R) to cover the areas close to the stage. All the processing is onboard the MLA series products, with 3 Lake LM44 processors used for system matrixing, alignment and most equalisation. “The Stereophonics have toured this PA since it came out, and Dave at FOH was a Martin Audio user before that with the older systems,” noted MLA Tech Donovan. “It is performing very reliably and well, we achieve nice and even coverage with plenty of headroom. The onboard processing makes us able to have a nice quiet stage, which is a particular requirement for this artist.” As noted by Martin Connolly, Senior Project Manager at audio supplier Capital Sound, the Martin Audio connection goes back a long way: “We first
worked with Stereophonics in 1998 when we supplied the sound for their show at Cardiff Castle - it was a Martin Audio system, as it is to this day.” In the 2 decades since then, the band’s relationship with Capital Sound has remained strong. “Over the years it’s been fantastic; they know what they want and hopefully our 20-year history proves we have supplied exactly that.” GOTTA GO THERE TO COME BACK Backstage and on the road, catering for the tour is provided by Popcorn Catering, while bussing duties are split between Phoenix Bussing and CSUK, to suit the preferences of crew and management respectively. Trucks - a 45ft Mega on the European leg, and seven 45ft Megas for the UK / Ireland arena tour – were supplied by KB Events, as they have been for every UK and European tour or festival over the last 20 years, a point of particular pride for KB’s MD, Stuart McPherson. “We have built up a great relationship with management and the band, and focus on giving them exactly what they’ve asked for; working to high standards, but in an efficient and cost effective way,” he commented. “Over the last 21 years we have planned, delivered, advised and provided a consistent and reliable service for them.” It was in the clubs and theatres of Europe at the start of 2018 that many of the ideas for this most recent run took hold. A week of rehearsals in LH2 Studios and a tech day before the first show in Aberdeen meant the crew were well and truly prepared. While the tour has proved relatively straight forward, there have been the usual adjustments to accommodate. The scoreboard IMAG has been one variable - reverting to standard stage side positions where trim height has been a problem. The moving garage door was another, adapted due to weight restriction in Brighton and space constraints in Bournemouth. According to the PM, however, all of these have been handled with ease thanks to the expertise of the crew. “They’ve been stunning,” said Nelson. “90% of them did the 2016 tour - and beyond - so they all know what they’re doing. They’re all great lads and lasses without a doubt a very good crew.” Having completed the UK / Ireland run, gear and crew will travel on to Australia at the end of April for a two weeks tour, before coming back home (via Singapore and Dubai) for a string of stadium shows this summer. TPi Photos: Andrew Benge, http://www.andybenge.com & TPi www.stereophonics.com www.capital-sound.co.uk www.negearth.com www.oglehog.com www. bpm-sfx.com www.ls-live.com www.kbevent.com www.phoenix-bussing.co.uk www.csuk.coach www.popcorncatering.com 68
IMAGINE DRAGONS It’s 2 minutes before show time. A sea of heads fills Glasgow’s Hydro, each one brimming with peak anticipation - ready to catch a glimpse of US pop-rockers, Imagine Dragons. This gig could easily have succumbed to Storm Emma, but no - it’s most definitely on.
Just before the house lights drop, a raised figure can be seen at FOH, laughing and joking before making some final adjustments to his in-ears. Suddenly darkness falls to a chorus of cheers. It’s show time. Just 8 hours earlier, that figure - Station Six’s Mitchell Schellenger - greeted TPi enthusiastically, before diving into details about the show. “I’ve worked with the band for 3 years,” he said. “I was hired initially as the lighting director on my first big tour, then I climbed up a little bit and started programming their TV performances and festival shows. They were happy with what I was doing, so they made the decision to have me do the live shows too, which is cool.” During a brief tour of the venue, it becomes obvious that Schellenger plays an important role in the tour - as Production / Lighting Designer and generally as a bestriding member of the crew. He continued: “I did the whole production and lighting design and a bit of show direction with the band too. As we add new songs, I work with them artistically to come up with new content, stage movements, and little things like that. I also programme and run the lighting and video as well, so I’m wearing a few hats on this one.” The stage configuration - executed by Stageco Belgium - has been masterminded to maximise the audience area in each venue, without sacrificing any of the visual impact. At 45ft wide, the stage itself is relatively narrow, but the 32ft wings of VER Revolution BLADE HD LED Strips expands the visual footprint to around 110ft wide. It’s an effective approach and one that can be adapted for smaller venues - where the wings close to become side walls, resulting in a 3D, forced perspective look. By toggling into Node mode, Schellenger can play video content through the wings, controlling sections of pixels (just like an RGB fixture) from the lighting console. The stage is backed by LED screens that are punctuated by angular lines of truss - highlighted by GLP impression X4 Bars - which reach to the top of the 31ft high screens before thrusting out above the stage.
“I wanted to feature the jagged truss,” explained Schellenger. “The whole album cycle’s quite spacey - Tron-like - so we also have a custom Marley floor that has a UV grid and UV LED lights. When it’s off it just looks like a black floor, but when it pops it looks outrageous.” Another interesting inclusion in the lighting arsenal were the 7 Robe RoboSpots, which are aimed via 7 corresponding RoboSpot BaseStations that are positioned behind the stage and manned/operated by the tour’s multi-skilled truck drivers. Each base station features a 15.6in HD screen for the operator to observe the performance from a first-person viewpoint. Dimmer Tech, Aamir Riaz, has been charged with learning the new technology and managing the team of operators. Mark Desloges from Christie Lites, supplier of the tour’s lighting equipment, was also on hand. There are 4 RoboSpots out front - 2 per side - pointing back and down towards the stage, plus 3 shooting forwards from the back-drop. Control commands like light, dimmer, colour, iris and strobe came from Schellenger at FOH via an ArtNet merge with an MA Lighting grandMA2 desk, leaving the operators to point each follow spot. The system is flexible, explained Riaz: “The good thing with this is you can swap out your fixture with whatever you want. You can use a Pointe, a MegaPointe, a BMFL Blade, a BMFL Wash... whatever you want. You swap it around, use the same camera, the same control system, and it’ll control it regardless of the Robe fixture.” Schellenger added: “I’ve got all the followspot cues in the cue stack, so all the spots black out at the exact same time, they all fade in at the exact same time, and they change colour at the same time. I can dial in the colour just as I would in any other moving light. My colour options have gone from 6 gels in a spotlight to anything I want, which is really awesome. And we even strobe the followspots during one song. Seeing a spotlight strobing in a different colour on every other downbeat just creates a whole new look and feel, which normally you don’t get out of a followspot.” 72
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The 2 followspot positions out front are formed using pre-rigged truss - each featuring 2 BMFL Blades and 2 RoboSpots. They are flown out like any other truss and dropped out at the end of the night. Schellenger enjoys working with their high positions, as he explained: “I’ve never been a big fan of spotlights that come straight on. I think it works on a pop-heavy solo act, when you’re really trying to isolate the performer, but these guys are a rock band with a bit of pop flavour. By putting the spotlight in to trusses, I can take them as high as I want, put them exactly where I want, and we can get a nice shadowy look that’s still bright enough and punchy enough to make them look like pop stars on those pop-heavy songs, but still shadowy and moody like a rock band. So, the capabilities from a followspot standpoint as our starting point - gives us this whole new range of things we can do. “Then we also have rear followspots as well. So, the 3 guys that move around onstage have another set of RoboSpots in the rig that are backlighting them, then the drummer and the keys player, who are sitting down most of the show, they have 4 Martin by Harman MAC III Profiles as their back light. So, they all have front light and back light, which is really nice. There are moments in the show where the front light all fades out and we change the colour of the back light and we get this nice silhouette and a rich colour.” The RoboSpot set-up and, indeed, the rest of the lighting fixtures have been supplied by Christie Lites. The company recently opened its European headquarters in Coventry, UK. Desloges picked up the story: “Back home in North America, Christie is basically the standard - it’s the biggest lightingonly company in North America, with 7 shops in the US and 5 in Canada, and an extensive inventory. The company is already catering to these world tours, and it’s only a gentle push over to this part of the world, so we can continue to cater to clientele that are already doing that world circuit.”
Schellenger added: “Having the new Christie Lites location in the UK is awesome. I’ve had a good relationship with Christie in the States for a long time. Before I was a designer I was a lighting tech for Christie Lites, so it’s cool to come back round and have them as the vendor for the tour. Now that they have that UK office it’s really great to be able to just call up the people we work with in the States and already have gear ready to go in the UK - we can get what we need quickly. Most of the crew guys here are all UK based and they’ve all been awesome.” As well as the aforementioned, Christie Lites also supplied 68 Elation Platinum Beam 5R Extremes, 72 Elation ZW19 LED Wash RGBW moving lights, 38 Elation Protron 3K LED Color Strobes, 45 Martin by Harman MAC Viper Profiles, 74 GLP impression X4 Bar 20 moving lights, 12 Blinder 4 Lite Linear PAR 36’s, 2 ZR44 JEM CE Foggers, 6 Reel EFX DF-50 CE Hazers and 8 Versa CE Fans. The 3 MA Lighting grandMA2 Full Size consoles, as well as the PRG MBox media servers, were from Station Six. “We’ve added this apron thrust - or apron deck, as we call it - so we can set all the front fill speakers and moving lights about a foot lower than the main stage,” revealed Schellenger. “That way we can keep the main stage nice and clean and there’s not cable and stuff everywhere.” Special effects featured throughout the performance. Schellenger said: “The band love special effects - they want it to be big and fun, so we added a lot more confetti hits.” BPM SFX has supplied all of the special effects kit and crew - including Head SFX Technician, BPM SFX’s Matthew Heap, along with other SFX crew member, Jayden Stansfield. “We’ve got a number of CO2 jets that are dotted around the main part of the stage and down the thrusts including the upstage behind the drum riser,” said Heap. “We have Smokebubble Blasters, Confetti Stadium Blasters and Stadium Shots that are also firing 74
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Scott Eisneberg, Mitchell Schellenger and Cameron Whaley; Show Designer, Mitchell Schellenger; Mark Desloges, Aamir Riaz and Ian Haywood; SFX Operator, Matthew Heap.
confetti out. So, yeah, it’s quite an SFX heavy show. The band love their effects - it’s a key element for them.” The confetti comes frequently and in considerable bursts. There are 5 in total, including a 30-second burst midway through the set and an even longer delivery at the end. In total, 120kg of confetti is used during each show. The full breakdown of special effects comprises: 100 3ft and 5ft custom balloons, 10 CO2 Jets, 6 Smoke Bubble Blasters on the wings, 6 Stadium Shots - filled with confetti in the pit, 8 Stadium Confetti Blasters – filled with confetti in the pit, wings and FOH, and 3 Silent Storm Truss Confetti Machines on the stage trusses and FOH spot trusses. “Everything runs using timecode going through Mitchell’s desk,” explained Heap. “He has control over everything apart from the stadium shots, which are pit control based for safety reasons. We are excited to work with the band and production team again as we have for many years, and we knew just how important the special effects element is to their show.” Impact, safety and reliability are all key considerations for any special effects team. The right kit and high standards are vital to what BPM SFX offers. Heap added: “All our equipment is kept to very high standards and only sourced from reputable companies like Magic FX, who we can rely on to provide the most up to date and professional products.” Schellenger’s vision for this leg of the tour has seen a re-think of how the video content which was based on the artwork by Mike Winkelmann (aka Beeple) is used. “In the previous design the video element was pretty much a ceiling - there wasn’t really any behind them” he said. “So, we took all the video, made it really punchy, put it right behind the band. There are 5 upstage screens, then there are 3 lower scenic screens, which have their backing panels removed to allow a little bit more blow through. We also have moving lights and strobes inside those screens, so they can punch
through.” The video crew is led by Crew Chief / Engineer, Ian Haywood, working with Video Director, Randall Garriott, Lead LED / Handheld Camera Operator, Shea Hack, LED Tech / Handheld Camera Operator, Jak Gambino, and Projectionist / FOH Camera 1, Karl Hansen. Video crew and equipment came courtesy of VER (LA and London). The 5 LED columns behind the band were made up of 182 Everbrighten BR-15 tiles - 2 columns of 1 x 19 high, giving a 3.3ft x 31.2ft screen with a resolution of 64 x 608; 2 columns of 2 x 19 high, for a 6.6ft x 31.2 ft screen with a 128 x 608 resolution; and a 13.2ft x 27.1ft centre wall of 4 x 17 high, for a 256 x 544 resolution. All the column screens have their backing plates in to ensure no blow through. On stage, the 42 backless Everbrighten BR-15 tiles were used for 3 screens - a pair of 4 tiles x 3 tiles which were attached to 4 rolling risers that sit upstage stage-left and stage-right, and a 6 tiles x 3 tiles that is attached to the front of the band entrance stairs. Haywood explained the details of the stage wings mentioned by Schellenger: “As an addition to the flown and onstage LED we have a total of 98 Revolution BLADE HD LED Strips. The BLADES are 3ft in length and we have 40 arranged SL and 40 SR. All are being hung from 32ft of flown truss per side on a completely custom-made setup of pipe and steel, which drops down 15ft from the underside of the truss. The remaining blades are attached to custom-made drum riser facia covering the 3 visible sides of the drum riser.” Processing is via 3 Revolution M2 HD processors - the first feeds the main columns, the second feeds the onstage screen and the third is for the Blades. The feed is a 1920 x 1080p at 60hz raster from the servers at FOH for the flown and stage LED and a separate raster for the Blades. There were 2 Apple MacBook Pros at FOH running MBox Studio - a main 76
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and a back-up. Haywood has a small control rack at FOH to send signal back to the video crew, which is populated with a small UPS, a Revolution NODE server and 3 3-channel thinklogical Velocity DVI over ST single mode fibre transmitters. All signal from FOH comes via 12 core single mode ST fibre. The camera package comprised a VER ADVANTAGE touring system, which comfortably operates with up to 8 cameras with CCUs, plus a Ross Carbonite 2 MLE switcher and chassis. There were 7 cameras in total: 5 Sony HXC-100 HD cameras with Sony HSCU-300 CCUs and Sony 1500 RCPs - 2 of which were positioned at FOH with 2 Fujinon 72x9.3 HDTV Field box lens sitting on Sachtler V-90 tripods, 2 handheld in the pit with 2 Fujinon 13x4.5 HD wide angle lens, and one at FOH with a 22x lens locked off for a wide shot of the stage. The other 2 cameras are Panasonic AW-HE120k ROBO cameras hidden away on stage covering the band. The engineering rack featured 64x64 Sierra Lassen HDSDI Router, Evertz VIPM16 Multiviewer, Evertz 7800FR-C 15 slot multiframe holding DA cards and frame sync cards, Evertz5600 Master Sync Generator & Leader LV5750 HD/SD WF/Vectorscope plus a whole host of monitoring and other stuff. Comms were broadcast over a 2-channel Clear-Com system. The IMAG set-up had 2 double stacked Panasonic PT-DZ21KU HD DLP projectors up in the seats / concourse, stage left and stage right. There is a lens selection of everything from a 1:1 up to 2.4-5.2, providing contingency for any curve balls. The screens are Stumpfl 11ft x 20ft rear projection. All projectors receive a 1920 x 1080i 59.94HD signal via ST single mode fibre and telecast HDSDI - ST fibre TX/RX ‘rattler’. All the projectors are networked to allow remote access via laptop and control software. This leg of the Evolve tour has seen the band take in nine dates around Europe – with a second European leg coming up - as part of a demanding global touring schedule. Rigging is being managed by Joel Gburek. Band and crew are kept on track with Coach Service busses, Stagetruck trucking,
freight management by Horizon Entertainment Cargo and catering from Bittersweet. The tour has reaped the rewards of the United Audio Companies (UAC) business partnership that was established between Sound Image (US) and SSE Audio Group (UK) in 2015. The arrangement means clients touring in Europe and the US benefit from a common touring infrastructure and round-the-clock support, so acts can work seamlessly on either side of the Atlantic. The audio crew features Crew Chief, Brendan Hines (Sound Image), Systems Engineer, Cameron Whaley (Sound Image), FOH Engineer, Scott Eisenberg, Monitor Engineer, Jared Swetnam, and Monitor Tech Sam Rogerson (SSE). UAC supplied an Adamson E-Series line-array sound system, which for the Hydro comprised left and right hangs of 18 E15 3-way enclosures, plus side arrays of 9 E15’s and 6 E12’s, and 12 S10 2-way cabinets at each side of the rear. There were 12 E219 subs flown per side, as well as 6 groundstacked E219 per side. Amplification came from Lab.gruppen’s PLM20000Q, while processing and control was handled by Lake LM44, Smaart v8, Lectrosonic TM400, Dynasonic APB Mixswitch, Roland Octa-Capture, and Accurite Thermometer and Hygrometer. Commenting on the choice of PA, Eisenberg, who has been working with the band since late-2012, said: “It’s a great PA. It’s got all the power that I was looking for, including a lot of the good low end. I feel like I say this a lot, but it’s got this powerful low end and also this nice high end that isn’t abrasive. I can reach big rooms... that’s what I’m looking for in a PA. You can put this system in anywhere and it sounds great, whereas with some other PAs I’ve brought them into bigger rooms and haven’t had as much success.” Whaley added: “Scott has a lot of focus on a very even sub coverage, which affects what our design is. The E219 subs are a good choice for this band because they’re super-fast but they also go down really low. There are lots of drums all playing at the same time in a couple of the songs, so 78
it’s nice to have that separation and also be able to get that low end. That’s also why we have so many flown subs, just to get a nice even coverage out to everybody without pummelling the people at the front.” To accommodate the other visual elements of the show, the PA has been pushed back, meaning it’s behind the band. By ensuring it is high enough to shoot over the mics, avoiding any unwanted feedback, Eisenberg explained that this set up has advantages: “Having it that far back means you can have a flatter PA, which means it throws farther better, and that’s been a real bonus. Especially with these gigs where we’ve pretty much been selling out every venue and trying to ramp all the way around, having the PA that far back means the sides and the rear hangs can cover farther which has been a big help.” Eisenberg used an SSL L500 Plus mixing desk at FOH, which was new to him at the start of the tour. “I had been interested in it since it came onto the market but hadn’t gotten the chance to try it out until we were finishing off the last album tour,” he said. “I was looking to transition to a different desk and had a chance to get on an SSL just in time to start working on the file. It’s been great. “There are so many great desks - some of it is just a case of which one has the things that are most important to you. Sound quality is definitely a big one, but I feel like a lot of the desks are improving their sound quality constantly. This one has a lot flexibility - it feels right under my hands, the buttons and the faders just feel right, which is great. It’s an SSL, so it’s got this quality of sound that’s also just really pleasing, right out of the box. All of the onboard stuff is nice, I don’t have to go searching for a lot of outboard gear.” FOH was also home to a Neve Portico Channel Strip, Alan Smart C2, SPL Mix Dream, 128-channel Pro Tools System and Vue H8 Monitors. The Shure PSM 1000 IEM and UR4D+ receiver monitor set-up ran off an Avid S6L-32 desk. Mics and DIs included: Shure Beta 91A, Audix D6, Shure Beta 52, Shure
SM57, Sennheiser 904, Shure Beta 98amp, Shure KSM137, Shure KSM44, Shure SM58, Shure SM81, Audio Technica 8035, Telefunken M81, Shure KSM9, Radial JDI, Radial J48, Countryman T10 and Radial Hot Shot. Lead singer Dan Reynolds has recently moved to the Telefunken M81 mic, and Eisenberg gave a special mention to Kelly Shu mount, which held a Shure Beta 52 inside the concert drum “I feel like it’s been a game-changer on this tour. It makes life so much easier and it’s sounded so much better since we switched.” As the lights go down on a jubilant Glaswegian audience, the curtain closes on this leg of the tour. South America awaits before the band head back to Europe on 3 April. There’s a certain magic that happens when the band and production crew are fully aligned, which adds an extra spark of energy to the show. Those expectant Imagine Dragons fans are in for a treat. Schellenger concluded: “They’re a rock band - they need freedom to perform. I can’t put an X on the stage and expect them to hit it, and they shouldn’t have to. We’ve created an environment for them to perform within, they should be able to do with it what they will and still look good.” TPi Photos: Mike Smith, www.michaelraymondsmith.com & TPi www.imaginedragonsmusic.com www.christielites.com www.uac.global www.sseaudiogroup.com www.sound-image.com www.ver.com www.stageco.com www.bpm-sfx.com www.stagetruck.com www.coachservice.com www.bittersweetcatering.co.uk www.hecargoworld.com 80
DIGICO’S JOHN STADIUS John Stadius, DiGiCo’s Technical Director, is all set for the release of Quantum 7 at the 2018 Prolight+Sound tradeshow in Frankfurt. The winner of many accolades for his services to pro audio, it’s his desire to create which keeps him busier than ever following a 40-year career…
John Stadius’s association with the DiGiCo family was cemented 40 years ago when he joined Soundout Labs, later to become Soundtracs, which was bought by the British digital console manufacturer in 2002. Retaining some staff members who still line the offices of its Surrey HQ today, DiGiCo quickly became a worldwide brand, and for its entirety, Stadius has headed up the R&D department with magnificent success. Initially designing disco consoles, mixers, power amplifiers and speakers - including the famous Frunt brand of bass and guitar amps -for Soundtracs, Stadius’s forte these days is the technology within digital mixing consoles. He is, according to some sound engineers, the best in the world. He designed the first consoles based around a single FPGA engine the DiGiCo SD7 (in 2007) and the SD8 (in 2008) - and the world took notice; the SD7 remains one of the most sought-after desks in the live sound & concert touring end-user . As well as standing the test of time, Stadius’ designs have also garnered considerable industry recognition for their creator. In 2008, PLASA’s Gottelier Award was presented to Stadius. Despite his undeniable talents, according to James Gordon, Audiotonix MD [the parent company of DiGiCo, Allen & Heath, SSL and Calrec], Stadius is “probably the most modest person you could ever meet.” This notion becomes apparent in his shy manner when discussing his own career rather than the technologies he’s worked with. Most recently, it was a Parnelli Audio Innovator Award that Stadius took home as part of his on-going career achievements. “It’s very nice to be recognised after 40 years, but the show must go on,” declared Stadius as he glossed over the notion that the industry has undoubtedly changed for the better because of his futuristic thinking.
In fact, so spontaneous and genius-like is Stadius’s thinking, that he has been known to have his ‘nutty professor’ moments, and has been affectionately dubbed as DiGiCo’s resident ‘mad scientist’, perhaps made even more comical thanks to his resemblance to Doc Brown of Back To The Future fame. Gordon reminisced about one such experience: “I remember one day, John rushed out of the building; he just ran out & everyone was stood there, wondering where on earth he’d gone, and why he’s shot out of the door so quickly. When he returned, he did so with a DVD player that he’d seen advertised in the local paper on his desk. It cost £19.99, to which his automatic response was: “I’ve got to see how they can build that for £20!”. So he took it apart and was mesmerised by how a manufacturer could make a £20 DVD player with a margin for both the manufacturer and retailer.” It seems that his very early days of excitable electronics discoveries have never left his daily work. “I wouldn’t go backwards from digital, no. I mean, you can’t. The repeatability and quality with analogue is all well and good, but digital is just perfect, or as perfect as you can make it. Whereas with analogue, each desk probably sounds completely different due to the nature of the components,” Stadius said. “Digital actually all started off in the early ‘80s. There wasn’t digital audio but there was digital control with analogue, that’s where we really started with automation… the industry didn’t embrace the digital revolution until it was a bit late. It wasn’t until the late ‘80s / early ‘90s that we saw that it was possible to do a digital desk; there were a few out there they were just so expensive. Finding out how to build something people want to use and can afford to buy is one of the greatest challenges 83
Audiotonix MD, James Gordon, with DiGiCo Technical Director, John Stadius.
sometimes.” younger people working in our R&D team. He really loves what he does and Twenty years ago, converters changed from 16 / 18-bit to 24-bit. The that makes for a great teacher. I’ve found that a lot of designers are quite additional 8-bits of converter resolution saw demands for 24-bit quality protective over their creativity and even their own importance, yet John is soar. At Prolight+Sound last year, DiGiCo launched always keen to try out the team’s ideas out too.” the 32-bit ‘John Stadius’ Mic Pre-Amp, because, his Stadius agreed: “They bring in a lot of new curiosity and passion for improvement is relentless ideas that I haven’t even looked at. Sometimes I and he’s constantly working on creating the tools simply don’t look in the right place, and they do.” for perfect audio, as Gordon is all too familiar. He These days, DiGiCo products are seen the continued: “In a meeting in 2000, when we were world over, in rental house stock, festival sites developing the D5, right at the very beginning and venues across the globe. But what was the of DiGiCo, John walked in and declared: ‘I don’t very first tour on which an early DiGiCo desk was want to use DSPs anymore; I think we’re going to adopted? A small, unassuming local show, met go on to FPGAs’. So we started looking at FPGAs with all manner of nervousness? No, of course because he could see at that time, that they were not. It was a Rod Stewart tour in North America. an expanding technology and we should be using Not exactly discreet, as Gordon furthered: “When them. We had to trust him - even though they were we started developing D5’s, we built prototypes about £2,000 each and he blew the first one up from Soundtracs desks to test what we were doing “I don’t read manuals within 48 hours!” before investing in a proper DiGiCo prototype. We “Yes, that’s true,” admitted Stadius. “I don’t sent one out to Rod’s tour many years ago. Lars manuals are for read manuals - manuals are for microwaves.” Brogaard (FOH) had an analogue desk for the first microwaves...” Gordon continued: “He is inspiring in that way, half of the tour, then they played with the digital John Stadius with his nuttiness. He inspires a lot of the new & one to see if it would break... 84
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“After 3-4 months, they couldn’t break it and were keen to try it out. We thought ‘right then, are we going to change the world or not?’ So we said it was ready & they ran the second half of the tour with the analogue desk as a backup, and ours as the main. We flew John out and, because there was no trouble shooting to be done, the next thing we knew, there he was, audio designing on the tour bus having a great time!” “I wouldn’t go on a tour bus again, mind you,” interjected Stadius, is his quintessentially British accent (think Bond Villain meets Batman-esque Butler and throw in varying degrees of a schoolboy giddiness for character). “That’s the thing with John, he likes being in the crowd, not with the crew,” said Gordon. “He likes to blend in and just observe. He actually goes to more shows than anyone else in the company, but he never takes
freebies. From local folk bands in village halls, to gigs at Wembley Stadium, and even at Pavarotti’s 10-year anniversary show in Italy, before I even have a chance to ask him if he’d like to go and see a show we may be involved with, he’s already bought his tickets. He’s very supportive in his nature.” With nothing in the way of ego found anywhere near John Stadius - despite his 40-year reign as a highly respected design engineer - we conclude by asking for his own greatest career achievement to date. “Ah,” he giggled. “Well, that would have to be my next product!” Of course, firmly under wraps, we’ll just have to wait and see what pro audio’s next big deal is all about thanks to DiGiCo’s humble, mad scientist… TPi www.digico.biz
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SIMON GALLACHER TPi caught up with the Promoter Rep & Tour Manager during a recent Live Nation gig to talk touring duties, skill sets and on-the-road lessons...
How did you initially get into promoting? I started promoting shows in 2001 when I was 17. I was really into the local Glasgow punk scene, but as I was under 18 - and looked super young - I couldn’t get in to see some of the bands I liked. It emerged that if I hired the venue, I could legally be present for the show - so I did. From there, I started booking touring bands which then led me to be an independent promoter for 5 years leading on to becoming a Tour Manager, Production Manager & a Promoter’s Rep.
reps on bigger shows and learned about booking production / how to advance / touring budgets etc. In doing this, I began to understand the vast amount of moving parts involved in some shows. You sometimes tour manage bands too… how do each of these jobs give you a better understanding of each role when you’re doing the other? Being a tour manager helps you become a better rep and being a rep helps you become a better tour manager. When I’m TM’ing, I always think “What can I do to make this easy for the rep” and when I’m repping, it’s the same thought process towards the TM. Working in both roles has also given me a very thorough understanding of tour finances. There are certain things a rep may not know, that a TM would, for example not putting stage waters in the fridge (as a general rule – vocalists usually like them at room temperature).
When did you start doing shows for Live Nation? I started working for Live Nation in 2013. I emailed one of the promoters enquiring about repping for them, having already been a tour manager for some of their acts, which gave me my foot in the door. I shadowed various 88
Then on the other hand, the rep will know the more intricate side of the venues i.e. if there’s early load-in charges / sightline issues / production kills, etc. Both jobs 100% go hand in hand, and I constantly pull from each side no matter what role I’m in. Can you explain what your typical day involves as a promotor for Live Nation shows? I always make sure I arrive at the venue prior to load-in to ensure the venue is ready for artist arrival. This involves tasks such as ensuring crew are at the venue, signage is up, stage & shower towels are in dressing-rooms, etc. so that when the touring production comes in, everything is ready and clear for them. After that, it’s mainly about making the day happen i.e. arranging any crew for stop-ons, ensuring catering is running smoothly, sorting out guest list & ticketing closer to doors, and going through a security briefing before confirming with production that we’re good to open the venue doors. Once doors are open, it’s a matter of overseeing the show and checking that there are no issues. I make sure all guests are taken care of, agent / promoter / management needs are sorted; artists & crew are well looked after, and that the show runs smoothly without any issues. When the band are on-stage I usually do my settlement with the venue and then for the promoter. Finally, I oversee the load-out, checking all crew are there and that everything goes out ok. That’s a very stripped down summary of how it rolls in general, but every day is different and every show is different. Even when you have the same show back to back, each show presents a whole new set of challenges to overcome. There’s often a debate about who is responsible for what when it comes to gigs / tours promoter, PM, venue etc. Who do you communicate with to figure out the finer details? Before I start an advance, I’ll always check with the promoter what is included in the deal. From there, I’ll speak with the PM / TM and work it all out in accordance to the budget. As ever, things can change along the way so for me it’s about presenting your side in a firm stance, but never stating anything to bluntly as you never know when things might change & you have to backtrack. I always remember, any email can be sent to anyone with 1 click so I am forever walking the line of diplomacy.
“As long as I’m working with good people and being paid what I request, then I’ll do any tour! I’ve never declined a tour Live Nation has asked me to do thus far, and I can’t see that changing in the future.” Simon Gallacher
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What kind of responsibilities did you have to assume for the At The Drive In / DFA 1979 shows you’re currently working on as a Promoter Rep? With ATDI / DFA, the TM worked with me as PM on Creeper, the LD was our LD with Neck Deep, I toured with the drum-tech before on New Found Glory and I knew the monitor guy already! So, from the off it was a pretty familiar camp... Each day I ensured the crew / runner were present and on-time, dressing-rooms were set up ok, building was well signed and everything ran on time in terms of vehicles being unloaded / sound-checks / doors / etc. ATDI put on a pretty lively show, so a thorough security brief took place each day 1 hour before doors opened. This, vitally, takes place with the venue, security, TM, PM & myself. Throughout the show, I ensured everyone was happy and looked after, then at the end of the show, I settled up all the finances and ensured loadout went ok. Like many people in the touring industry, you’re a freelancer… so what kind of factors persuade you to take on or decline a tour? As long as I’m working with good people and being paid what I request, then I’ll do any tour! I’ve never declined a tour Live Nation has asked me to do thus far, and I can’t see that changing in the future. I am asked to work with a lot of grime / hip-hop artists as those shows tend to run differently to your average every day rock show. But, I embrace it & enjoy a bit of excitement – more stories to tell my grandkids when I’m older! How’s this tour been going from your POV? It’s been very straight forward, knowing a good amount of the crew, having done a solid advance and with ATDI already having a good team with them, it has certainly helped. I’m reliving my youth somewhat, as I’m working for a band I used to listen to when I was 17, and I don’t think that will ever fade!
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In your time on the road as a promoter, what has been the biggest part of your education? Every day is a school day as you’re in a different venue with different people. I’m always learning and always willing to do so. There is no rule book on the music industry, it’s just a case of keeping everyone happy and not getting fired, hence the continual learning… TPi 89
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With his sights set on LD greatness, this 14-year-old lighting-protégé has already got several high profile events under his belt, as well as founding his own design company. TPi’s Stew Hume caught up with the teenage LD as he prepared for his latest show…
Since beginning the Production Futures column, we have already spoken to young men and women who possess incredible drive and entrepreneurial spirit. Even so, this month’s interviewee still manages to stand out. He has already established a lighting design service, worked on some major festivals and even done a few touring stints - oh and did I mention he’s only 14 years old? Meet Elliot Baines, a young lighting designer from Bradford who is on a mission to achieve LD stardom. TPi first met Baines at Manchester Apollo, at FOH with LD Tom Campbell during The Hunna’s latest UK tour. “I had been introduced to Tom by the band’s Pyro Technician, Daniel Briggs, from AC Lasers, who I had met while working Beautiful Days festival. He made the introduction and I got to come along the Manchester date,” explained the plucky LD. Already networking like a seasoned pro, Baines explained where this love of lighting began. “I first got into lighting when I was 7,” he reminisced. “My first ever show was in a local club called The Rio. My dad’s band were playing that evening and I asked if I could have a go behind the lighting console - from that point on, I was hooked.” This sparked Baines’ obsession and the aspiring LD began to collect a selection of disco lights, which he used to lend out to various locals shows. However, even at such a young age, Baines had loftier ambitions. “When I was 10 years old I founded Spiralstagelighting, my lighting design service,” said Baines. “It’s been running for almost 5 years and I have been working at getting the name out there as much as possible.” Talking of his fledgling company, Baines stated how his dream was for Spiral Stage Lighting was to become a global collective of lighting designers - a goal that may already be closer than you might think. “I’ve made loads of connections with people both in the UK and around the world that share a similar passion for lighting. For example, I’ve got a friend who I met online from the US who is a similar age. My hope is that one day I’ll get a big enough booking that will justify flying him over so we can finally collaborate.” Prior to embarking on the quest for world domination, Baines made time talk through some of his career highlights so far. “There almost too many to remember,” laughed the LD. “Getting to help out at Glastonbury in 2014 was certainly memorable as was Latitude Festival which I’m working again this years along with the main stage at Shambala. As well as working festivals, I have done some touring, most recently with upcoming artist Vanessa Maria.” While quickly filling his CV with various tours and festivals, Baines has also collaborated with several industry heavyweights, including Colour Sound Experiment and Fineline. “I have also got to know the team at Avolites very well,” stated Baines. “I really like their consoles and actually own my own Quartz. Over the years I’ve even got to meet several of the Avolites team and even lent a hand by programming a timecoded show which the company use when they go to exhibitions.” In fact Baines has become so well versed in the company’s technology, that he regularly posts YouTube tutorials, one of which has been viewed over 12,000 times. Listing all his various accomplishments there was one question that had to be asked how has all of this been possible at such a young age? He said: “Well first off I have to thank my mum, Michelle Greenwood, for supporting me through the years. This industry can be tough and there have been people I have come across while working on various jobs that have judged me for my age. It doesn’t happen all the time and the majority of people are very friendly and accommodating. I get most of my bookings by word-of-mouth and putting myself out there. I just ignore anyone that dismisses me purely because of my age. It’s the advice I would give to anyone my age or younger that wants to pursue a career in lighting or live music. Just keep working away and ignore anyone who puts you down.” A strong message from this ambitious teen, and one that the TPi office wholeheartedly supports! TPi www.productionfutures.co.uk www.spiralstagelighting.wordpress.com 90
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Following the 5000 Series official launch at The NAMM Show, TPi spoke to Audio-Technica’s Alex Lepges, Product Manager for EMEA region, about the company’s latest wireless microphone offering.
When did the development of the 5000 Series begin and what were the initial goals in the development of the product? It’s difficult to put an exact date on this – we were monitoring the changes in the regulatory landscape for frequency usage in Europe from the day we launched the initial 5000 Series in 2003. Some of these changes we could answer with minor modifications to our system, but with the upcoming change in the 700 MHz range we decided to come up with a new concept to tackle the problem. We needed to ensure that users of our wireless system could cope with the challenges of finding enough spectrum for them to use. So the main goal, next to maintaining the acclaimed audio quality of the initial 5000 Series, was to offer a tuning bandwidth of 230 MHz for the receiver and 120 MHz for the transmitters – and this in a price bracket where such features are not found easily. Next to this we had our list of improvements we collected during the years of the initial 5000 Series from our customers and made certain that we brought them in to the final system.
Prior to this we made a comprehensive poll around the globe where we not only asked for “feature wishlists” but also asked for problems that remained unsolved by the wireless offerings on the market at the time. With the additional luxury of having some experienced live sound engineers in our global product management team we processed all this input and created the concept for the final product. This is the third generation product. What elements have been carried over from the previous iteration? This one is an easy question, really! It is the sound quality. We are a transducer company by heart. This is where we came from and this is where we stay. The 5000 Series was always a masterpiece of engineering skills in transporting high quality audio through the bottleneck of radio frequency transmission. With our unique Dual Compander technology – in simple words the equivalent of a 2-way active speaker system – we could achieve an audio quality which, still today, is high enough that we don’t fear any comparison with digital wireless systems out there. Next to the high audio quality we’ve also maintained the benefit of staying analogue. The 5000 Series was and is a live sound system. The audio gets transmitted when it is picked up and not after some ‘digital processor reconsideration’ commonly known as latency. What are some of the key additions to the 5000 Series?
How long did it take to develop the 5000 Series? Did you bring in any Audio Engineers from the touring community to help with the R&D process? We kicked off the process about 2 years ago now and spent the first 6 months to get the feature set right. 92
AUDIO TECHNICA 5000 SERIES
Below: Audio-Technica’s Alex Lepges, Product Manager for EMEA region.
In addition to the mentioned ultra-wide tuning bandwidth we added several other important new features to the system. The handheld transmitter now has an industry-standard thread to allow for interchangeable capsules – there is a choice of 6 popular Audio-Technica capsules currently available. The receiver comes with an optional DANTE output and offers daisy chain antenna sockets to combine up to 8 receivers with just a pair of antennas. The auto-squelch function will assist to find the lowest possible squelch level that results in an extra robust link between transmitter and receiver and stable long operating distances. Last but not least we added a neat little button to our 2 transmitters (handheld and body-pack). This button can be configured to act like a backup-frequency button. Pushing and holding this button will send a command from the transmitter to the receiver, which activates a previously set backup frequency in case the user experiences some issues with interferences on the currently used frequency. I cannot count how many times in the past I’ve personally wished to have that feature available! What are some of the features that will be particularly attractive to the touring community? I believe the main benefit next to the attractive sound quality will be the wide tuning range. With one receiver type you can travel almost the entire globe without having to worry that you won’t be able to tune to the legal frequency window. Even when travelling locally the tuning range will allow you to dance around the various digital TV transmitter signals we have to deal with nowadays. This and the other professional features like small size body pack, all metal transmitters and the industry standard thread mount on the handheld transmitter will make the 5000 Series a valid alternative to the established competitors out there. In recent issues we have discussed with engineers the issue of RF with the smaller spectrum to work in. How does the 5000 Series look to combat these issues? The sheer width of the tuning bandwidth is the main key. In most cases the amount of spectrum available in a given location is good enough to get your channel count you need but the bottleneck was mainly not having the right frequency range available in your gear. Now with one receiver covering the entire usable UHF TV spectrum from 470 – 700 MHz you can tune to basically every little piece of spectrum left. And if you have to achieve even higher channel counts a simple external filter in the signal chain between antennas and receivers will boost your simultaneouschannel count to higher numbers.
But usually the question is not that simple: “Which frequency range can I use?” In real life scenarios there is no black or white. Many times you have to operate in dodgy conditions and here you need a wireless system that offers you a smart squelch concept. The 5000 Series does this automatically for the user and by doing so can go down to very low levels resulting in extra-long operating distances. When will shipping begin on the 5000 Series? We’re expecting the new series to start shipping in Europe in Summer 2018. TPi www.audio-technica.com
CORDI ASHWELL Director, Decordia
party into a fairylight wonderland. All things that could be easily packed down and condensed ready for the long 1,000 mile journey to Mayrhofen from the north of England. We applied the same theory to the Funhaus venue décor for 2017, where we installed loads of bright coloured physio balls that hung from the ceiling. Once deflated, they are a winner for saving space in the transport! The main challenge with this festival is that you are in a fairly remote ski resport. It’s not like you can just pop to Screwfix if you need some extra bits! I guess one of the things I have become accustomed to is next day delivery. You can plan for 99% but when you’re up a mountain, that 1% can make or break the install. You have to be considered and constantly work through the thought processes for each member of the team, making sure they are fully supported and have everything they might need. This also applied to Boardmasters in Cornwall last year. It was our first time working on the show, and it’s another place where next day delivery is not going to happen. The knowledge from our local runner was invaluable, and my meticulous planning for the 13 members of the Decordia team was vital. Packing for Snowbombing also coincides with our busiest time of year. During the first few months my time is split between site visits and long days in the office, costing, designing and writing up festival proposals. It’s fast paced - one minute I’m on a call about recreating an iconic ‘90s Manchester club, the next I’m checking through CADs, flag seams, signing off signage, and have about 10 budgets open... and even more Photoshop files. Luckily though, this is the point where the project managers come in for each show and take a lot off my hands. The Decordia team are all so focussed and have such excellent attention to detail that I know the prep and installs will go well. This is also true for our winter work, particularly on Junkyard Golf, where forward planning is essential. Most the items on the courses are one of a kind. If I don’t plan and spend a lot of time on eBay, my team will be held up. For the last 2 years, these course builds have taken place in October, so it’s another thing we have to fit into April before visiting the mountains. Despite being busy this is also the time of year when all my excitement kicks in, and I know we’re going to be buzzing all the way through to September when I’ll be stood having a drink with the team, watching the final Festival No.6 headliner, and thinking… well that festival season went so fast! Cordi Ashwell
Every year when the day comes to pack everything up for Snowbombing, a music and snow sports festival in Austria, I can’t believe the season has come round so quickly again! It seems like only yesterday I was cleaning the mud off my trainers from Festival No.6 and now our annual trip to Austria is upon us and we’re back labelling up the boxes preparing them for the trucks. When we started working with Snowbombing back in 2015, it was a really branding-heavy event. We were asked to lift it, make it more ‘festivally’, while still staying true to the brand and colours. We introduced lots of ribbon strip bunting, foamex cut outs and transformed the forest
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Above: Ayrton’s new head offices in Villebon-Sur-Yvette; Chauvet Professional appoints Matt Hallard as UK Sales Manager; CUK Audio’s Fraser Sanaghan; Evago Group has acquired the Terraplas rental business.
Ayrton has relocated its headquarters to a new, independent space in Villebon-Sur-Yvette, 20km southwest of Paris. The new premises include a new lobby, more office space, a warehouse, meeting rooms and a permanent 220sqm showroom. “The showroom is the perfect setting in which to demonstrate units to clients,” said Glyn O’Donoghue, Managing Director of exclusive UK distributor, Ambersphere Solutions. “There are over 200 fixtures in the rig with all Ayrton products represented. It will be a valuable resource where we can bring our clients to visit the company in Paris, show them the products in a ‘real’ setting and spend quality time with them.” Avolites has announced a new partnership with Cast Swiss Light Consulting for distribution of its full range of Titan lighting control and Ai media server products in Switzerland. The agreement sees the company become the sole distributor of Avolites control consoles and media servers in the country. “Like Cast, Avolites prides itself on its belief that ‘the people’ part of the equation is vital in ensuring our position as market leader is maintained,” said Koy Neminathan, Sales Director of Avolites. “We are excited to work alongside Cast in Switzerland to deliver the very best complete visual control products to the vibrant industry there. As the Swiss market reaches
new heights, and Avolites gears up to enhance existing and launch new products, we see there is huge potential for both of our companies to benefit from a shared vision of success and user satisfaction.” Chauvet Professional has appointed lighting industry veteran Matt Hallard as its UK Sales Manager. He will be responsible for Chauvet Professional, Chauvet DJ and Iluminarc lighting products in the UK and Ireland. Hallard was eager to be a part of the action: “Chauvet is perfectly placed for 2018 and beyond - the product, the policies, the service and support, the buoyant and consistent year-on-year growth and aggressive vision. All the ingredients are in place for us to show influencers and buyers alike that you can have innovative, reliable products with an ROI that’s a no-brainer investment for a production house!” “We are very happy to have Matt on our team,” said Michael Brooksbank, General Manager of Chauvet Europe. “Aside from his broad knowledge of lighting and the UK market, he also shares the Chauvet philosophy of total customer service, as well as our vision for the future growth of Chauvet Europe.” CUK Audio, in the wake of taking on the distribution of ClearOne products, has appointed Fraser Sanaghan to the position of Applications 96
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Below: Martin Audio has recruited Ben Tucker as Product Support Engineer, and appointed ARS Technologies as its distributor for Argentina and Proav LLC as its distributor in Azerbaijan.
The company also announced the appointment of ARS Technologies as its distributor for Argentina and Proav LLC as its distributor in Azerbaijan. other manufacturers - and their pricing is reasonable. You could say we are more than happy with Martin Audio.” TPi www.tpimagazine.com/category/industry-jobs/
Specialist. His brief is to support the conference & collaboration sales channel initially, with specific focus on ClearOne, broadening out over time to designing live and AV solutions as well. “I’m delighted to be part of the team at CUK who have a great reputation in the industry,” said Sanaghan. “We took on distribution of ClearOne early this year so I’m excited to support their products as well as the other industry-leading brands we have on our roster. I’m looking forward to helping the company in their continuing growth.” CODA Audio has confirmed the appointment of A One Global Entertainment as its distributor in India. The Chandigarh-based company has been an AV supplier, installer and major brand dealer since 1980. Paul Ward, Director of Global Business Development at CODA Audio, welcomed the partnership: “A One is a highly reputable, extremely well-run operation with a thorough knowledge and understanding of the Indian market. The A One team was quick to see the advantages that CODA systems can bring to customers right across the sector and we’re certain that they will prove to be a pro-active and highly effective distribution partner. We’re looking forward to working closely with them in what is a large, growing and fantastically diverse marketplace.” Elation Professional has announced the acquisition of the M-Series range of entertainment lighting controllers from Harman Professional Denmark, formerly Martin Professional ApS. The acquisition will include a limited-term license agreement to distribute current controller products using the name ‘M-Series’, as well as provide continued technical support and warranty service for prior Martin M-Series sales. Elation already has in place key personnel with expertise in M-Series technology in order to provide on-going support and development of new products. David Glaubke, Director of Public Relations at Harman Professional Solutions, commented: “We’re pleased that M-Series users will be able to enjoy new feature developments, while simultaneously receiving continued service from Elation. At Harman, we are focusing more on our core audio, lighting, video and AV control products. While this represents a move away from lighting control for the company, it represents increased investment in lighting fixtures and video, where we see bigger opportunities to provide value and innovation for our customers.” Martin Audio has added to its Product Support Group with the recruitment of Ben Tucker as Product Support Engineer. Dan Orton, Head of the Product Support Group, commented: “This appointment reflects the growth of the company and the demand for infield support for live sound production and training. The now 6-strong team is set up to be adaptable, in order to support customers anywhere in the world, rather than being region specific. This allows us to better balance different application demands coming from different regions at different times of the year. With the runaway success of recent product launches and a host more to come in 2018, the timing couldn’t be better.”
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PSA: THE BIGGER PICTURE
Photo by Biel Morro on Unsplash
HELP THE ALD #SAVESTAGELIGHTING FROM DOMESTIC CLASSIFICATION OF ALL LIGHT SOURCES This month, we hand over the reins to our friends at The Association of Lighting Designers (ALD) to explain the reasons behind their recently launched #SaveStageLighting campaign to protect the future of venues and theatres across Europe against the potentially devastating effect of the EUâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s proposed Eco-design Working Plan 2016-2019, which would require all light sources, regardless of use or visual quality, to meet a notional efficiency target in line with domestic lighting.
PSA: THE BIGGER PICTURE
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The #SaveStageLighting campaign must demonstrate to the EU Energy Directorate the widest possible cultural opposition to these proposals. Theatrical performances rely on theatrical lighting; it is the glue that binds every aspect of a performance together. Theatre lighting relies on having the right tools available to create just the right effect at just the right moment. A successful outcome to the #SaveStageLighting campaign is essential to secure exemption for stage lighting from these proposals. The consequences of failure would be catastrophic to the entertainment industry and European culture. This will potentially harm everyone from technicians, actors and designers to agents, critics and audience members. The campaign needs high calibre support. The ALD would like to encourage everyone to sign and share the petition and to contact their MEPs to champion the campaign. What is the Eco-design Working Plan 2016-2019? Proposed to take effect from September 2020, the Eco-design Working Plan 2016-2019 is an enormous and very real threat to the way theatrical productions across Europe are presented, the impact of which would be immediate and overwhelming. The plan proposes to bring all light sources under the same rule set that governs domestic and office, environmental and industrial lighting. This includes specialist, high-quality LED lighting fixtures that have finally become available to theatres in the last few years, as well as specialist tungsten light bulbs: those familiar, natural, beautiful, warm-feeling light sources that still form the major part of most theatre lighting rigs. All new fixtures placed onto the market after the 2020 deadline will need to meet the new proposed EU Standards. Though products in current use remain unaffected, the supply of equipment currently being used by theatres in the EU will be restricted. What will the real impact of the plan be on European theatre? At the first level, the impact is crippling in a financial sense. To replace stage lighting fixtures alone with new EU-approved sources would mean buying an entirely new rig of LED lighting units which is costly in itself. However, the requirement for venues would be full replacement of the building’s lighting infrastructure, including dimmers, cabling and control consoles as well as fixtures. To budget for and implement within 2 years will prove difficult for larger venues. For smaller venues it will be ruinous, and they will literally go dark. More troubling still, however, is that currently very few theatrical-quality LED lighting fixtures come close to matching the beauty, subtlety, richness and poetry of tungsten light sources. The indication from LED manufacturers is that no new fixtures of this type will be able to meet these new regulations, even by 2020. The reality at the moment is that as units become irreplaceable, the entire repertoire of work reliant on those products - and this includes all long-running west end shows and tours - will close until suitable replacement instruments are designed and manufactured. The options available are much poorer quality lighting fixtures which would result in a considerable quality degradation of production lighting and therefore in the quality of productions as a whole. With recent studies showing that stage lighting typically accounts for less than 5% of a theatre’s total energy consumption, focusing forced expenditure on the other 95% of a theatre’s energy consumption, where far greater energy savings are possible, surely makes more economic sense. Further information about the ALD’s Save Stage Lighting Campaign can be found on: www.ald.org.uk/resources/savestagelighting Facebook: www.facebook.com/SaveStageLighting/ Twitter: @SaveLighting Email: firstname.lastname@example.org TPi www.psa.org.uk 99
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APRIL 2018 ADVERTISERS 10k Used Gear 86 Absen 75 Adam Hall 59 Adamson 73 ADJ 63 Allen & Heath 23 Area Four Industries 35 Avolites 29 BPM SFX 69 ChainMaster 5 Chauvet Professional 6 CLF Lighting 62 Coda 85 Colour Sound Experiment 25 d&b audiotechnik 21 disguise 15 DAS Audio 39 Decordia 93 DiGiCo 11 Digital Projection 77
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PAUL ROBSON Managing Director, Medialease
wanted to buy 8 camera channels as they said they had a tour to do. It was then that I saw this side of the market, together with the audio rental companies who were very open to meeting and happy to receive our advice and services, so I shifted the business focus partly as a result of what saw developing in the live sector.
Have you seen a change in trends since its conception? Yes. There’s been a resurgence in bands realising there’s no money in the studio, it’s on the road, and that has helped my company and the whole industry massively. There’s also been huge progression in gigs and tours - technical achievements, scale, professionalism and, of course, the ‘show’ factor - and all this has led to greater investment in technology, with greater volumes of moving lights, speaker stacks, larger projectors and bigger screens. The LED and projection side of things has transformed my business in this sector. Are there any stand-out moments in your career that you’re particularly proud of? In 2008, we provided the funding for the video - for XL Video - audio - Wigwam - and lighting - Neg Earth - for George Michael’s tour, which featured that epic Barco projector stage / screen set up. It was a proud moment seeing it all come together at the new Wembley site. Also, the many investments we’ve made for our clients; XL Video and Capital Sound are just 2 examples of companies that we’ve seen grow with our assistance. We work closely with many of the equipment manufacturers and many impress me with their growth and re-emergence into a new market - DiGiCo and Green Hippo are good examples too.
How did you initially get into the industry? I was selling capital equipment in London in the early ‘90s as a green, 22-year-old northerner. The recession hit, nobody was building anything, and I knew I was on borrowed time. Along came the MD of a sister company, who persuaded me with 3 pints of Ruddles County that I would be better suited in the Midlands, sorting out asset finance for open cast coal miners in Scotland and the North who couldn’t pay for the £5m worth of huge excavators and dump trucks they needed. So, I learned about leasing there and realised that, although I didn’t care for that industry, I felt suited to the leasing concept. I decided to try to do it within an industry I care for - at the time, that was the recording studio, not live events sector, which still had life in it then. Luckily, in early 1997, I saw an advert in the Telegraph for Fineline Media Finance, so it all started from there…
You recently attended the TPi Awards, what did you think of the 2018 event? I love the TPi Awards! We’ve been supporting it with sponsorship for the last few years and have attended every one since 2005 / 06. It’s a great industry night where we all turn up in fancy suits and socialise. The success of the event marks it out as a must-attend evening.
When did you discover there was a gap in the live events market for a finance company like Medialease? By the early noughties, I had started Medialease, dedicated to service the broadcast / TV post-production and general AV markets. I’d been fully focussed on these sectors - mainly with camera rental and Soho-based television editing and effects sectors - when I received a call one day from Chris Mounsor. I met up with him and Lee Spencer [of XL Video fame] in a completely empty warehouse near St. Albans, and these guys were telling me they were going to be the next big thing in video. They
When you’re not working, what would we find you doing? Travel and gigs - I do like a big music gig! I’m always just about to go off somewhere or coming back from travel ling for a business trip; I never sit still at home. My wife’s into gardening and topiary, while I’m watching sport or at the pub! Our dog, Archie, gets a lot of walking, plus I have 2 boys in their late teens who are quite happy now they’re not seeing so much of me! I’ll soon be taking up piano lessons, if I get half a chance to sit still… 102
WHEN THE BEST SOUND ISN’T ENOUGH
REVOLUTIONIZING design For over 70 years, JBL has pioneered loudspeaker design—the VTX A12 represents the culmination of this engineering experience. An innovative HF section integrates the phasing plug and waveguide for high sensitivity and linearity, even at high output levels. A redesigned Radiation Boundary Integrator® reduces horn edge diffraction, improves LF sensitivity, lowers distortion, and provides 90° coverage down to 250 Hz. And a new dual-voice coil, dual-magnet arrangement in the LF section increases linear excursion, power handling and sensitivity. All that aside, we understand that the best live sound solutions have to offer more than just the best sound—so find out everything that the VTX A12 has to offer atjblpro.com/vtx-a12
The VL2500 just got a hundred times better introducing the VL2600 Series
The VL2000 Series has always been regarded as the industry benchmark when it comes to moving lights. The new VL2600 Spot, Proﬁle and Wash LED ﬁxtures will reset that benchmark! We believe the VL2600 is a hundred times better than its predecessor. Here are just ﬁve of the things that make this new generation superior: • • • • •
Higher output Higher CRI Wide zoom range Side yoke handles Fan speed control channel
The VL2600 Series will be launching at Prolight + Sound 2018 come and check them out and tell us what you think makes them great.
See the new VL2600 Series in action on Stand F25 Hall 3.0