TOTAL PRODUCTION INTERNATIONAL LIVE EVENT DESIGN & TECHNOLOGY • DECEMBER 2017 • ISSUE 220
METALLICA HYPNOTISING POWER, CRUSHING ALL THAT COWER…
The four horsemen return with a revamped, in-the-round, metal masterclass
ROYAL BLOOD’S FIRST ARENA TOUR • STRAWBERRY STUDIOS RETROSPECTIVE • JAMIROQUAI LIVE EVENT FOCUS: DIZZEE RASCAL • GEAR HEADS: NEXO NXAMP MKII • HELENE FISCHER • PSA COLUMN
DECEMBER 2017 #220
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HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM THE WHOLE TPi TEAM! We’ve completed another year at TPi! Just! Only joking, isn’t this what your family Christmas cards look like? We’ve just finished our final issue of 2017, and needless to say, Ste and Stew are delighted that Metallica are gracing the cover... there’s also coverage of Royal Blood’s first arena run, Jamiroquai’s 8th headline tour & a look inside the beauty of Dizzee Rascal’s show design. Plus lots more. That’s almost a wrap, and lots more adventures in live production await next year... I’ll be visiting Tour Link in Palm Springs for the first time in January and, as we do year-on-year, we’ll be taking in more tours globally. Finally, you’ll notice that our Middle East and Africa magazine, TPMEA, is no longer bound in. As we assess the needs of the regional marketplace and look to expand in the future, we’ve decided it’s time - over 2 years on from its inception - to have the title independently printed in its own right. We will of course still be running TPMEA from TPi HQ, with frequent visits to the region. We’re also excited to announce that on 9 May 2018, the first ever TPMEA Awards will take place in Dubai. Listen, it’s thirsty work in the desert... I hope you have a well-deserved break this December and get to spend time with your loved ones. Thank you for another incredible year of concerts, comedy shows, festivals and interviews. As always, we’ll catch you somewhere along the way for more features on your designs, progression and industry pioneering innovations. Kel Murray Editor
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COVER Metallica by Tom Martin EDITORIAL INTERN Jacob Waite PRINTED BY Buxton Press • www.buxpress.co.uk Annual subscriptions (including P&P): £42 (UK), £60 (Europe), £78/$125 (RoW). Subscription enquiries to: Subscriptions, Mondiale Publishing Limited, Strawberry Studios, Watson Square, Stockport, SK1 3AZ, UK. Tel: +44 (0)161 476 5580 Fax: +44 (0)161 476 0456 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org www.tpimagazine.com www.tpiawards.com www.tpmeamagazine.com
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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EVENT FOCUS 08
Dizzee Rascal Garage veteran Dizzee Rascal returns to the main stage with his 6th album tour.
14 Helene Fischer Stufish and Brilliant take the German songstress’ stage show to new heights.
EDM in the USA ... and the British amplifiers that power it; enter XTA & MC2.
Little Dragons The Swedish electro quartet make Camden Roundhouse home for 2 days.
Resistance Ibiza Visionlight introduces automation to the world’s biggest dance club.
Witness for the Prosecution DPA Microphones delivers crisp sound to an acoustically challenging venue.
PRODUCTION PROFILE 26 Metallica TPi meets the skilled crew behind the metal legends’ newest stage show. 42 Royal Blood The duo’s first arena tour gets off to an incredible start, complete with laser displays and a full-impact sound.
54 Jamiroquai The acid jazz band’s electronic return sees dystopian futures & sci-fi nostalgia.
THE FADER 66
A look back at the last 50 years of the iconic Strawberry Studios.
PRODUCTION FUTURES 68
Bath Spa University alumni, Sally Wattiaux, takes the hot seat.
GEAR HEADS 70
TPi speaks to NEXO R&D Director, Joseph Carcopino, following the BPM I PRO launch of the NXAMP MK II.
PSA: THE BIGGER PICTURE 76
This year’s Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) annual statistics are released.
INDUSTRY APPOINTMENTS 78
The latest movers and shakers.
BACK CHAT 86
Tom Harding, Jolt Media’s Head of Video.
DIZZEE RASCAL’S RASKIT LIVE British garage artist, rapper and hip-hop star, Dizzee Rascal [AKA Dylan Kwabena Mills] released his 6th studio album, Raskit, in July, and a stint of festival appearances ensued. An autumn headline tour of the UK benefitted from a show design by Lighting Designer Steve Bewley and Visual Artist Matt Sharp. TPi spoke to the tour about making a show stopper for a grime pioneer…
On a 14-date headline tour of the UK, taking in shows at the Brighton Dome, Nottingham Rock City and the largest tour venue, London’s Brixton Academy, Dizzee Rascal returned to his own stage in support of latest album, Raskit. Working with Dizzee for the 7th year running, LD Steve Bewley began the story: “It’s been a long-standing relationship between us; I was originally asked to operate just a few of his shows and I’ve never left!” he laughed. “The brief this time around was to do something totally different to begin with, and as sometimes happens when a show develops, new requirements become evident, so we changed direction. We decided we needed to create a ‘big look’, which is really what a Dizzee Rascal show is all about. It should have an ‘in your face’, huge feel, but equally be stripped back and feel very intimate and edgy for the harder hitting rap tracks. We wanted to create an
environment that was fitting for when Dizzee is in full flow delivering his most emotional lyrics. One of my main priorities was to keep the video screen in full view and not allow it be be blocked with lighting or the DJ booth. To achieve this, we opted to incorporate a transparent DJ booth.” CONCEPTUALISING THE CREATION The show, which was rehearsed at Millennium Studios, has a few themes; moving from a massive pop production to a harder, edgier & grimey performance space. The colour yellow (known to induce feelings of happiness) is also key, and a yellow rectangle set piece created from lighting fixtures ensures this is felt throughout the concert. Bewley continued: “As the show develops, we flip between the pop / grime elements and the huge pop numbers such as Bonkers. I needed to keep a 08
transition and be able to change this up easily as the set moves on. This was done by selecting big beams of audience lighting with primary colours for the pop parts and then the grime and rap tracks were stripped back and enjoyed with more side lighting, using pastel colours. “The colour yellow has been brought into all of Dizzee’s branding from day one, so this was naturally incorporated into the lighting and the visuals for a large amount of the show. The yellow rectangle was part of the lead-in campaign for this album cycle and was featured in both the visuals and the LED rectangle.”
To create this dramatic pop / rap hybrid, Bewley chose to use a plethora of fixtures from Lights Control Rigging - LCR. The rig comprised a floor package of 18 GLP impression X4 Bar 20’s, 18 Claypaky Mythos, 18 Claypaky A.Leda B-Eye K20’s and 18 Claypaky Sharpys with a scattering of GLP JDC1’s. For the tour’s biggest gig, the Brixton Academy show, a further lighitng rig consisted of 40 GLP X4 Bar 20’s, 18 Mythos, 18 B-Eye K20’s, 18 Sharpys and 24 JDC1’s, Martin by Harman Sceptron and Martin by Harman MAC Aura’s. Bewley continued: “I chose to create a very side lit show. This came in
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the form of the GLP X4 Bar 20’s, Sharpys, B-Eye K20’s and MAC Auras. The MAC Auras were used for key lighting. We didn’t use and front light at all until we used minimal follow spots at Brixton Academy. “The rest of the fixtures were all built into the side-based upright truss towers so I could create a side beam and have a lit side curtain look with the X4 Bar 20’s and the Sharpys. The B-Eye’s were placed at the sides to create further effects and ‘eye candy’ looks from the interesting angles and shapes we had to play with. Further X4 Bars were brought in for the Brixton show and were put on all of the straight trusses on the stage. This allowed us to have a goal post look and wrapped around the whole stage on 3 levels from down stage to upstage. “The Mythos and the JDC1’s were deployed along the in-house straight trusses above the stage to help complete the look of a full wrap around the screen of beams. The JDC1’s acted as a strobe, an effects light, a wash light and a blinder in one. The Sceptron was kept simple and made up the LED rectangle around the DJ booth to enhance it and further & bring forth the yellow campaign branding.” For control, Bewley used an MA Lighting grandMA 2 Light console. “I actually own 2 of these desks myself - it’s the best desk out there in my opinion; it just keeps getting better with its new software updates. I use it for every show I can.” Lighting vendor, LCR, was also a hit with Bewley: “LCR worked with us all summer. They’ve bent over backwards to help get any project off the ground that I’ve brought to the table. Mike Oats and Ryan Hopkins are very technical, which helps massively; they just get it when I bring my ideas forward. The kit from LCR is always the best it can be too and when on the road, their support is second to none.” LCR had Andy ‘Paris’ Hilton as the tour tech and James Townsend and Cobain Schofield for added support in Brixton. LCR’s Mike Oates added:
“We have really enjoyed worked with the Dizzee Rascal crew over the last 6 months, from providing floor packages throughout the festival season to working on his headline shows. Our relationship with Steve Bewley goes back some years, and this tour is another successful example of how well we work together. “ VIDEO AND VISUALS To complete the big impact look of the show, video and visuals played a crucial part. Video supply company 80six and its Directors Dan Hamill & Jack James, have worked closely with Matt Sharp - the touring Visual Artist for Dizzee Rascal - on several occasions prior to being recommended for this tour. After winning the job with production management team Tour Solutions, 80six became a new vendor. Ben Annibal, 80six’s Project Manager, spoke to TPi: “The brief was to supply an upstage screen to complement the lighting and overall show design by Steve,” stated Annibal. “The idea was to install the screen at stage level, positioned directly behind the artist, ensuring a high-impact, visually striking and intense stage presence.” The visuals for the show were designed and collated by Dizzee’s creative team and management, which were operated by Sharp. Annibal continued: “We supplied 72 sqm of ROE MC-7 tiles for the tour, with the screen size varying between venue. Brixton Academy was the largest screen of the tour measuring 12m x 6m.” ROE’s visual proprietary processing Evision, Image Pro 2 and Resolume Arena Media Servers were also utilised. “The main advantage of using the ROE MC-7 was the purpose built ground stacking system which they developed in conjunction with Prolyte truss. This enabled a quick and safe ground support of the panels and was invaluable when flying the video screen.” Annibal, who toured as Dizzee’s LED Tech, managed and oversaw every 10
install and de-rig of the MC-7, and provided technical show support to “I was given the album tracks in advance, and played them in the Sharp. “This was another great show design by Steve Bewley, who captured studio on rotation - loudly - for a few days to get inspired. I then sketched the Raskit album look and feel perfectly. The crew worked together out some initial ideas with my partner Pete Thornton at MoreEyes Visuals incredibly well as a team - everyone was a pleasure to work with.” before we arranged a meet up with Ben Drury, Dizzee’s Art Director. Ben Visual content creator, Matt Sharp talked TPi through the complex has a long history of doing top class graphic design for Dizzee, Mowax, Nike, and well thought out visual designs: “I’ve worked with Dizzee for almost Palace Skateboards and XL Recordings to name just a few of his clients. 2 years now. I came on board for a festival tour as a live VJ thanks to my So Ben, Pete and myself then went over our initial suggestions, discussed friend Paddy Stewart, Dizzee’s Tour Manager. We have a very tight crew and other things we had in the archive that we could process and make into everyone gets on on a personal level too, which moving image pieces such as old unseen is awesome. I’ve been a Dizzee fan since even photoshoots, green screen videos etc. We also before Boy in Da Corner came out. We used to made colour suggestions for each track to listen to him on radio when he was MCing back ensure a flow throughout the set, which as well in the day. So to be working alongside him now as predominantly using the yellow tone he’s is pretty special for me!” he enthused. known for. “The new album campaign was pretty “We also changed some of the looks old school in style with 8-bit fonts and completely when we consulted with Steve. He’s “The new album campaign was numerological codes based on how we used to a genius at what he does, so taking on board text on the first mobile phones, which you could pretty old school in style with 8-bit his opinion and working closely with him was use to reveal hidden websites. These websites essential to get the look of the show just right. fonts and numerological codes had CCTV cameras linked to the studio where Steve is one of the best in the business right Dizzee was working on tracks. The cover for the now and a great guy to work with. We also had based on how we used to text on album dictated some of the look, which was an two music videos which had been produced the first mobile phones, which old exercise book with Dizzee’s graffiti sketches using NOTCH for the tracks Space and What You on it and a picture of a young Dizzee paper Gonna Do? which I was able to use unedited.” you could use to reveal hidden clipped to the front. And his face had been Sharp continued: “Even though each websites...” manipulated in Photoshop, which also informed track has a different theme or look, there is some of the looks. an overall feel that we tried to hint at, and it’s Matt Sharp, Visual Designer 12
unmistakably Dizzee. It’s hard to put into words... but it just works well. Thankfully when Dizzee saw the visuals during rehearsals, he gave his opinion on what he liked and what he didn’t, and 99% of it was approved! Colour tweaks and washes were then made in the Resolume VJ software whilst consulting with Steve.” Sharp went on to highlight some of his favourite aspects of the final deisgns: “As a long time Dizzee fan from back in the day, to be able to get access to unseen shots from the Boy In Da Corner photo shoot and create motion graphics from them for Just A Rascal - with suggestions from Dizzee and his long-term manager / producer, Nick Cage, was really great. “The look for Bop & Keep It Dippin, which is just one coloured band across the video screen, pulsing in time with the music which is a simple concept that Steve and I devised, but actually has become one of the boldest looks in the show and is a nice break from full screen video content. Everyone loves that bit, except my Mum!” he laughed, presumably at the naughty nature of the song. “Lastly, I’d like to mention Business Man, which incorporates sound waves, London’s skyline and Dizzee’s trademark yellow all blended together in Resolume software. It’s so effective; it looks fantastic on film.”
pyrotechnics. We provided 10 of our Psyco2 Jets which move across the horizontal X axis, meaning we could create a lot of different looks and movements with the Co2. For flames we used our G-Flame wireless units allowing us to place them around the stage easily giving some depth to the special effects show. Pyrotechnics were set in 8 positions and controlled via our wireless Galaxis firing system, giving us total wireless control throughout the show. Confetti was deployed from stadium shots to give an instant hit of confetti covering the audience. Powershots were our chosen method for streamers to ‘obliterate’ the venue in the final track.” The tour was operated by Tom Stead as Head Tech on the show, who was also responsible for prep, programming and designing the cues for the show alongside Dizzee’s creative team. Production Manager, Edd Slaney, of Touring Solutions, commented: “From the design side, it’s always great working with Steve - he has such a deep knowledge of the fixtures he wants, he knows just how to get the most out of them, and as a result, his shows always look fantastic no matter what budget I give him. Combined with 80Six’s beautiful screen and their impressive attention to detail, we were able to put on a fantastic looking show for Dizzee.” As the tour drew to an end, Bewley reflected on its successful opening night: “After the very first show, I breathed a sigh of relief, as programming time had been tight. To see it all come together - and then to receive compliments for how it looked - is always encouraging!” Dizzee Rascal tours Australia in February 2018. TPi Photos: Joe Okpako www.raskit.co.uk www.stevebewleydesign.com www.moreeyes.co.uk www.lcr-rental.com www.80-six.com www.bpm-sfx.com www.touringsolutions.com
FROM YELLOW TO RED To complete the Grime star’s show design, TPi Award-winning special effects company BPM SFX was brought into the fold. Technical Director Liam Haswell filled TPi in on these elements: “We have been working with Dizzee, his management and tour manager since 2009, so when his UK tour was in the planning phase, we were involved from the early stages by his production and tour management. We had a brief to freshen up his existing special effects show - which we had also designed - and were asked to integrate a new look for the new album tracks, creating a more immersive special effects show for his audience. “Steve did an amazing job with the lighting and video design, so we wanted to create an industrial look to the show with Co2, flames and 13
HELENE FISCHER The famed German singer offered fans her most ambitious staging show to date. TPi’s Stew Hume spoke to Stufish’s Ric Lipson and the team from Brilliant about pushing Fischer’s set design to new heights.
Known for her extravagant and ambitious stage shows, Helene Fischer hit the road with her most jaw-dropping performance to date. You may not be familiar with her musical stylings, but in Germany, Fischer is very much a household name. On her latest run, the singer packed out arenas throughout the country. For 2017’s live offering, Fischer and her loyal production wanted to offer her fanbase a completely new ‘Helene Fischer experience’. To help her realise this vision, Fisher enlisted Stufish Entertainment Architects. Stufish and Fischer collaborated on an arena run in 2014 and a stadium tour the following year. “Both campaigns in 2014 / 15 went really well,” began Ric Lipson, Stufish’s Project Lead designer, laying out the history between the company and the artist. “Back then the show was dreamed up by her creative team and Stufish came on board to realise that vision. What you have to remember is that Fischer, in the world of German pop, is at the very top. Therefore the show had to be treated as such. From the outset the goal for this year’s show was to bring a world class creative show to the German audience.” Lipson went on to discuss the early development of the show design. “One of the initial ideas thrown around was the integration of Cirque du Soleil acrobats in the performance,” commented Lipson. Thus, 45 DEGREES, a division of Cirque, who have collaborated with other show performances in the past were brought on board. With the performers in place, it then came time to map out the specifics of the set, which created an interesting challenge for the Stufish Project Manager. “It’s fair to say the
way we designed this show was rather out of the ordinary,” stated Lipson. “A traditional design usually works one of two ways; you either have a production with no set concept asking you to pitch looks, or your client wants to tell a specific story. With Helene’s show it was a bit back to front. We had some goals from the initial brief. We knew we wanted several pieces of elevation, a novel way of traveling to the b-stage and to have Helene fly. We took these ideas and pitched them to 45 DEGREES, who in turn stated the ones they gravitated towards. This led to the various looks we created.” One such concept weaved throughout the show was ‘time’, which manifested itself as a ginormous clock arm that would take the singer from the main stage to the b-stage - but more on that later. To help realise some of these ambitions was staging expert Brilliant, providing the infrastructure and automation design. “Brilliant actually worked with us during the last Stufish-Helene collaboration,” said Lipson. “Throughout the design process, even before we sent it out to tender, Brilliant were always in the back of my mind as I knew what they were capable of mechanically. Not to mention they had already developed a relationship with Helene’s camp.” Leading the project for Brilliant was Technical Director James Kempf and Client Director, Raf Peeters. THE STAGE As you might imagine, the main performance area had more elements than the traditional rock ‘n’ roll stage. “There was certainly a lot to consider on the stage,” mused Lipson. The ‘performer wall’, a tall rolling structure 14
Opposite and below: For Helene Fischer’s 2017 arena tour, Stufish Entertainment Architects collaborated with 45 DEGREES and Brilliant to provide this German superstar with her most ambitious show to date.
made up of 9 cells for performers to dance inside, towered 8m tall x 4.5m wide, for example. Commenting on the build was Brilliant’s James Kempf: “The whole structure was welded aluminium and was an ambitious piece of stage scenery. Not only were there dancers in each of the 9 cells, each of them had lunge belts so they could hang out the front of the structure. With 9 people shaking the wall, we needed to make sure it was 100% secure.” The team’s solution; heavy duty forklift bearings attached to the large track built into the stage that enabled the wall to track from upstage to downstage. Kempf commented: “They were incredibly powerful bearings which can withstand the force from all the dancers.” The stage also featured a trackable video screen that moved up stage. It also had the ability to open 5m to allow both the performer wall and a giant sphere prop through from the back of the stage. “The screen itself was a custom piece of gear,” explained Brilliant’s Raf Peeters. “The screens fascia had interchangeable side and top sections to accommodate lower or smaller venues.” In addition to the performance wall and video screen, the stage also featured 4 automated lifts. This 2 band lifts, a 3m x 3m central prop lift and a 5m x 4m central lift. Each one of the lifts was controlled by an operator who stood right by the system, giving them full line of site at all times and keeping everything safe. “The central lift was the most complex because it had to combine a lot of elements.” stated Kempf. “This lift was able to ascend above the stage as well as descend to become a trap door. In the centre of the lift there was also a water catchment pool, which was utilised during Helene’s water dress gag. The dress itself was brought in by 45 DEGREES and it would let out over 100 gallons per minute. But my team at Brilliant creating creating a hydraulic pedestal that would lift the singer a metre above the stage floor.” Peeters added: “As well as being able to lift 6 people while dancing, it was also required to have enough lifting capacity with the water containers fully topped up in case the drainage failed [1,500kg minimum]. In addition, the lift had a video panel fascia on
the outside, a smaller secondary lift built in and had to go low enough to be used as a prop lift for a crash mat in an act where acrobats jumped from a 6m tower. Finally, there were two entrances below the stage. The structure had all German safety features built in to be compliant with German safety standards (BGV C1).” Peeters continued to describe the underworld of the stage: “Due to all the quick changes for the artists during the show, it was essential the underworld had space for dressing rooms. This meant the framing of the stage was specifically made so as to accommodate for these areas as well as storage for various props.” Lipson picked up the thought: “This was one of the main reasons we were keen to bring Brilliant’s into the project as we knew they would be able to build a custom stage rather than work with a stock product with supporting legs every few metres.” “There certainly were multiple elements to consider with the main stage,” laughed Lipson as he finished listing all the various challenges of the stage. “On top of all the automation we even had to consider the surface of the stage due to the water effects causing a potential slip hazard, which resulted in us opting for a matt marley finish around the water tank.” THE ARM The production deployed 2 catwalks within the set. The first was static 5m structure surrounding the VIP standing area in front of the stage, which the singer utilised at several points throughout the show. But the second catwalk really turned heads, literally and figuratively. Running with the concept of ‘time’ the show designers produced a larger-than-life clock arm, which the singer would perform on as it rotated out into the audience. “The clock arm was designed to get Helene from the main stage to the b-stage in the centre of the arena,” commented Lipson. “In total the structure was 17m long weighing nearly 7 tonnes.” Kempf told TPi about the technical elements of the clock arm, adding: “The catwalk was on a 4m octagonal base which acted as the centre rotation point for the structure. Before rotation, the catwalk was lifted 3m above the audience prior to 15
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its cycle. Similar to a construction crane, we had to ensure the shorter end of the clock arm could counter weigh the heavy, longer end. This meant having 1,000kg of steel ballast.” As well as ensuring the structure was balanced, Kempf explained that it was of vital importance the rotation of the catwalk was very smooth. “In total it takes the catwalk 3 minutes to complete a whole 360° rotation. As Helene is performing the catwalk could not move too quickly. We also put in place several measures to prevent the structure from suddenly stopping, preventing potentially knocking her off. These included a battery controlled backup system to keep the system rotating even if the venue’s power went out which would allow the catwalk to decelerate to a stop.” While discussing this stunt, the conversation inevitably turned to health and safety. “As with all our shows the safety of performers and audience is always paramount,” stated Peeters. “But Germany as a country is practically stringent in this aspect of show design so we had to ensure everything was on point. Throughout the run we had inspectors come to the show and check the paper work. If you can pass in Germany, you can pretty much make it work everywhere.” But both Peeters and Lipson were quick to compliment the singer for her attitude to the show. “During her performances, Helene doesn’t ever want to be hindered by a harness or barriers,” explained Lipson. “As is standard with designs we incorporated handrails through the set knowing full well we would have to remove them as Helene would see it as impeding her performance. In her mind she would rather practice it to perfection than have to constantly clip on and off from the stage.” THE B-STAGE The final element that Stufish brought to the table was the b-stage, which has the ability to move in vertically from the floor all the way to grid level. “Along with having Helene be lifted by the b-stage, the production was keen to incorporate a video element to this part of the show,” commented Lipson. “What we came up with was a austrian projection curtain that 16
would create a cylinder around the stage.” As the singer was lifted in the air all automation was tracked via a d3 Technologies media server to achieve a consistent clean projection. “Communication was always going to be key to this project,” Kempf noted. “For the main automation effects we had Alex Burrows controlling the key pieces of movement from the performer wall, the video screen and the clock arm using Brilliant Automation custom drives and console running Raynok software. Then we had Steffen Boschert from Safe Working Load, the tour’s rigging provider, control the b-stage as it descended. Once both elements were in place and the operator gave the signal that everything was e-locked Helene was signalled to go across. After rehearsals it was a well-oiled machine.” ON TO THE NEXT ONE All the technical and mechanical wizardry rolled out to create the Helene Fischer show still had to be transported to each performance. “Every aspect of the staging was designed to make it as ‘tourable’ as possible,” commented Lipson. “The one advantage we did have over other tours is that Helene’s show was only being performed in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Therefore we were able to transport the entire show in trucks.” He went on to state how the touring carpenters got into a very good routine night after night. “There was a real choreography to this build. The Cirque du Soleil performers had to come in at the start, as they required the performers’ catwalk to be installed before our riggers started work on support of the lighting, video and audio. But we soon got into a great routine.” Although the first leg of the tour has now come to an end the spectacular arena show will be revived in early 2018 in Leipzig, Germany. TPi Photos courtesy of Stufish Entertainment Architects www.helene-fischer.de www.stufish.com www.brilliantstages.com www.45degrees.com
EDM IN THE USA A year-long round up of American festivals and their adoption of UK-owned amplifiers from XTA and MC2 Audio...
Over the course of the year, a growing number of American festivals and underground raves have turned to UK amplifier brands, such as XTA and MC2 Audio, for a range of live shows, with the highest profile of events specifying Funktion-One speakers, powered by the best in British amplification - the APA, E Series and Delta series. In March, Ultra Music Miami, dubbed as the world’s number 1 dance music festival (voted for by readers of DJ magazine), witnessed revellers flock to the event to see and hear live headline artists such as Chase & Status, Justice, Ice Cube, and Major Lazer. Among the performers were world class DJs, including Carl Cox, Alesso, Jamie Jones and Adam Beyer, to name but a few. Sound Investment, an AV install and rental company which operates nationally in the US, supplied a Funktion-One Vero system for the MegaStructure, complete with a vast mobile rig that flew above the main stage replete with lighting and video panels that could be lowered to just a few metres above the audience, turning the vast dance arena into a dance floor. New V221 subs, offspring of the F221 subs made famous as part of the festival’s Dance Stack, were powered exclusively by MC2 E Series amplifiers, namely the E90 and E100. Todd Konecny of Sound Investment, said: “These subs produce the cleanest deepest bass imaginable, but only if driven by amps with enough long term delivery not to crap out or drop the power mid-bass line.” In March, the Get Lost 24-hour event, established as a rival of crowdpleaser of Ultra, kept its venue location under wraps for as long as possible to ensure that it was a discerning crowd only in attendance - a crowd that
will appreciate the carefully curated list of talent. This year’s lineup included over 40 of the biggest names in underground dance such as Ellen Allien, Guti, Guy Gerber, and organiser and DJ / producer Damian Lazarus. In conjunction with One-Source Productions based in Philadelphia, a UK-based company, Cheshire Event Production, stepped in to fly XTA APA amplification. Olly Wayman, MD of Cheshire Event Production, commented: “These amps are in high demand; they flew to Ibiza this summer to fuel the BBC’s coverage of the best of the dance events fully networked up with Dante they sound amazing and their ability to run incredible power into the most taxing loads, and for long periods puts them head and shoulders above anything else I’ve used. I love them!” In late May, Elements Music and Art Festival based in Lakewood, Pennsylvania, called upon One-Source Productions to ship an epic staging and audio experience for an expectant crowd who flocked to the Pocono Mountains. APA controlled the festival’s Earth stage, supporting Tipper, a UK producer, composer and electronic DJ. Joe Adkins, from One-Source, stated: “We are really loving the APA amplifiers, the power and sound quality that you get from the APA is matched by no other. The amp network is so easy to use and has us up and running in no time, we can’t wait to try the new DPA and DNA amps,” he continued. “The festival was well laid out, minimal sound bleed and beautifully planned. The stages were amazing and the sound was crisp and loud.” During mid-August Oregon’s Eclipse festival, organised by Symbiotic Experiences, dubbed the event as a ‘capsule Glastonbury’, with a mix of 18
EDM IN THE USA
Opposite: Elements Festival 2017 at night. Below: APA Racks BM 2017; Armin van Buuren UMF 2017 (A State of Trance Stage).
arts, installation pieces, and music stages. UK-based Audio-Feed, along with Audio Sans Frontieres who part funded the venture, specified an Evo system from Funktion-One; driven exclusively by APA and Oz Jefferies, MD of Audio-Feed. “This really had to be something special and our system didn’t disappoint. APA delivered effortlessly the most transparent sound and deepest boundless bass - getting this power and performance from 1 amp is just stunning! The eclipse wasn’t bad either…” Later that month, Burning Man in Nevada played host to Richard Fleming, who assisted with the set up of Ooligan Alley, an established player on the Playa, courtesy of Audio-Feed again, with its ever-impressive Funktion-One system shipped in direct from the UK, complete with APA and MC2 amplification. “I saw and heard some incredible things, and APA really did the business. Working through the night as the driving force behind the subs, but with transparency and control so amazing they can be used for the most demanding and revealing mid high sections, such as the Evo 6’s, bringing out the best in them too. The best hi-fi you’ve never heard - the desert environment is as close to acoustically dead as you can get outdoors and it really can separate the boys from the men,” explained Fleming. Ooligan Alley had a new layout for 2017 - keeping their air travel theme, they moved emphasis away from their famous airline cockpit DJ booth to a ‘control tower’ theme with some spectacular additional sculptures, which came into their own as the light faded each evening at this weeklong (arguably the longest festival of its type in the world) celebration of creativity, self-expression and plenty of dance music.
The harsh environmental conditions could finish off lesser amps - but Jefferies was quick to reiterate his confidence in the gear: “This will be the third time the amps have powered the amazing Evo system here, and they’ve never put a foot wrong - despite the sand, and the extreme changes in temperature and humidity. They just sound incredible all the time!” Additional MC2 amplification was used to keep the burners dancing at Robot Heart all week long at Burning Man, Nevada. Pascal Pincosy, from Know Audio, recollected: “We are using MC2 amps for all the mids and highs on the bus. The mid-high horns were custom-built for Robot Heart, and were originally designed by Mark Wayne of a company called Harbinger, which competed against Apogee and Meyer Sound back in the mid ‘80s. “We chose the E25’s for their sonic clarity and their reliability. There’s no room on the bus for a sealed air conditioned room like most camps use for their sound systems, so it’s really important that our amps perform perfectly even when clogged full of alkaline dust. We’ve had the E25’s for 3 years now without a single failure, something that can’t be said for any of the other brands that we’ve used on the Playa.” The APA-4E8 joined its counterpart, the APA-4E6 (20kW and 12kW respectively), APA is an amplifier force to be reckoned with. Recent firmware updates have adopted it into the AudioCore software stable cementing the XTA and MC2’s popularity on an international scale. TPi Photos: Oz Jefferies www.xta.co.uk www.mc2-audio.co.uk
LITTLE DRAGON The Swedish Electro 4-piece made a temporary home in Camden’s Roundhouse for 2 days of heavy, ethereal beats and synth driven hooks. TPi’s Stew Hume met LD Tim Smith and Tour Manager Ed De Vroome to hear how the new Chauvet Professional Maverick MK Pyxis added a whole new dimension to the band’s show.
Little Dragon have certainly had a successful 2017. Starting off the year with a dream slot at Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, the band wanted a strong, distinct look to accompany their new album, Season High. In the build-up to the show, the group collaborated with famed Lighting Designer and fellow Swede, Tobias Rylander, to construct a unique stage show. However, as the autumnal touring season rolled in, Little Dragon’s production looked for a more versatile touring package, which instigated a collaboration with Chauvet Professional and the newest addition to its fixture family - the Maverick MK Pyxis. The band’s Tour Manager, Ed De Vroome told TPi about the touring transformation. “Since starting out in May we have kept the original goals the band had from the outset,” he said. “For Coachella they really wanted to make an impact. Tobias’ design created a very ethereallooking set incorporating 2 hanging curtains 20
made up of strands of mirrored diamonds, which was manufactured by All Access.” But as the band finished up their third US run, De Vroome needed an LD to take on the show when they returned to Europe. Enter Tim Smith, the band’s current touring LD. “We brought in Tim who smashed it from day one during the band’s Bestival slot,” stated De Vroome. “From that point onwards we kept him in the fold.” Smith continued the conversation, recalling how he was able to fit into the touring party: “Despite being a heavily electronic band, they do not use a click or any time code - it’s 100% live. So from the LD’s perspective you need to be ingrained in the music and able to accommodate any change in tempo.” Although adopting the main design from Rylander, Smith had to adapt the show to make it as tourable as possible, ashe explained: “After Bestival and our other summer commitments came to an end, Ed asked me to start looking for
Opposite and below: As part of their European show, Little Dragon performed 2 nights at London’s Roundhouse using 16 of the new Chauvet Professional Maverick MK Pyxis fixtures.
More art. Less noise. a fixture package that would be able to fit in one trailer along with the rest of our gear while still maintaining the original look of previous performances.” Among the fixture list Smith chose the Chauvet COLORdash Par-Hex 12 and SGM P-5’s. “I was sold on the Par-Hex 12’s immediately,” Smith said, adding: “Throughout this run the band has collaborated with a clothing designer from their hometown of Gothenburg who has designed their onstage outfits, which react to UV light. I have essentially been pumping the fixtures’ UV wash at 100%. It means you can still see the band in the darker moments of the show without having to hit them with uplighting. The P-5’s are also super versatile, and able to provide equally strong washes and strobe.” For the tour the production was aided by Bristol-based lighting supplier BES Systems. With the backbone of the rig sorted, Smith was still on the lookout for a final workhorse fixture that would be able to fire several beams at once so as to interact with mirrored curtain backdrop. “I was still looking when I was at this year’s PLASA Show. The brief was to find something small and light with plenty of programmable options. I walked past the Chauvet stand and took a look at the new MK Pyxis.” One of the newest editions to the Chauvet roster, the Maverick MK Pyxis offers an endless array of looks with beam and wash effects, wide zoom range, continuous 360° pan and tilt movement and aerial and pixelmapping effects. The moving head features a ring of 9, 15W RGBW LEDs with a zoom range of 7° to 45° and built in colour macros and gobos, as well as a punchy 60W RGBW LED serving as a centre pixel with a 3° beam angle. “There are certainly a lot of multi-functional fixtures out on the market right now,” reasoned Smith. “But the MK Pyxis really set itself apart. I have really enjoyed the fact I can zoom the ring as well as having a single beam in the centre with a wash around it. Also there are times where I want to throw a lot of individual beams
at the mirrored curtain which the MK Pyxis has been fantastic for.” Smith expressed just how bright the fixtures are, saying: “There are times when I have them sweep over the audience where I have had to pull them back. They have so much punch for their size.” Smith explained how he utilised the fixture throughout the set. “In various songs, I use the outer ring of LEDs, pixel mapped to create special, atmospheric air effects, then zooming them out to cover the band in the same effect. The solid bright central beam creates defined shapes on stage, then using the zoom of the LED ring gives a 2-tone tight beam effect. The powerful fast zoom is also used to create reflecting light effects off the rear mirrored curtain.” For the Camden shows, Smith doubled up the touring package. “In total we had 16 MK Pyxis. We also hung a second mirror curtain to add further depth the look of the stage and were able to produce some really cool effects with the Pyxis’ beams being multiplied by the reflections on the curtain.” Out front, Smith opted for an Avolites Arena console to operate on, a brand he’s more than familair with. “I have been an Avolites user for over 14 years,” commented Smith. “The desk’s programming and operating style comes naturally to me. With the band often playing extended or shortened versions of the songs, and lots of live busking elements. the Arena is the ideal surface to use.” Following their Roundhouse show, the band returned to mainland Europe. To conclude, Smith gave his final thoughts on the latest MK Pyxis: “So far they have been really good. There has not been a single problem - they work first time, every time. They have also been scrutinised by many an in-house lighting tech - with good reception!” TPi Photo courtesy of Chauvet Professional http://little-dragon.net www.chauvetprofessional.eu 21
RESISTANCE IBIZA The Ultra Worldwide brand, Resistance, has teamed up with Visionlite to work on Ibiza’s biggest club production of the summer. Resistance Ibiza, hosted in the world famous Privilege nightclub, ran for 2 months and offered audiences an immersive visual experience. TPi spoke to Visionlite’s Adam Gaca about the project…
As the temperature in the UK plummets, TPi decided to take a nostalgia trip to sunnier times with Visionlite, in the hopes its summer adventures in Ibiza with the Ultra Worldwide brand, Resistance, will bring the warmth of the White Isle to our December issue. Respected across the globe by electronic music aficionados, Resistance is known for its work on some of the biggest dance festivals. This year the collective faced a new challenge - creating the biggest club production for a 2 month residency at Privilege, Ibiza. Resistance once again collaborated with Polish automation company, Visionlite who have just announced a new base in the Netherlands. The company which provided a comprehensive service, integrating a specially designed, fully automatic, 8-tonne structure with lighting and multimedia. Visionlite’s Production Director, Adam Gaca led the way. Gaca began by explaining his background with the company: “Back in 2015 both myself and Kosma Szostak worked for a staging company during Ultra Europe Music Festival in Split, Croatia. Here, we talked to Ultra for the first time, pitching our ideas and turning our creative zest into reality. With a very clear and focussed insight into what we wanted to do, Kosma left to setup Visionlite. The next year we returned with 32 flying hoists, debuting our own automation project on festival small stages. We have proven ourselves as a newcomer gaining a lot of respect from the industry and we’re trusted to deliver two major projects for Ultra last summer using in total 75 hoists during its shows in Croatia.” For the Resistance Ibiza show, the goal was to provide a fully immersive
visual experience complete with automated curved LED screens, which hung above the audience. “From the outset we wanted to combine our passion, creation, energy and extensive experience into a no-compromise production using automation for the LED panels locked in curved truss frames with the fixtures,” commented Gaca. “We wanted to connect the audience with the Resistance artists including John Digweed and Sasha in a dreamy and dramatic way, to get everyone hyped on the night.” The main setup was based around the 40 Kinesys hoists, which moved 10 truss frames fitted with LED panels using the Elevation 1 system. The biggest challenge for the team was to adapt the permanent venue so as to handle 6.5 tonnes of dynamic loads. “For that we had to dream big,” recalled Gaca, adding: “We designed a special structure with Unlimited Productions’ subsidiary Unlimited Rental, using Prolyte BGR70 trusses as main beam and and Prolyte H30V as pre-rigged trusses to handle all of the dynamic loads.” Resistance production team also added counter levers to the existing roof towers and attached to them additional steel I-beams followed by a main mother rig using Prolyte BGR70. All the above required a significant number of hoists, which led to Visionlite bringing in WIcreations who provided additional hoists for the project. “Health and safety was of paramount importance during the show,” explained Gaca. “That was one of my main priorities during the project to make sure all regulations were adhered to. The hoists we used were actually able to support 3 times the load capacity.” On top of the impressive automotive set up, Visionlite also catered 22
Opposite and below: Resistance once again called on Poland’s Visionlite to provide for automation, lighting and video for its summer residency in Privilege, Ibiza.
for the production’s video and lighting needs. For the LED frames that hung above the audience, Visionlite opted for Viss 12mm LED transparent panels. The panels were also used to house several lighting fixtures. “Due to the significant weight of our construction, a lot of factors had to be taken into account when choosing the right lighting fixtures,” he outlined. “Weight, size, speed and size-to-power ratio were the key elements in favour of the Robe miniPointe. We used 40 units in total, mounted. Sharp beam and aerial effects combined with truss frame movement provided staggering effect during the show.” To complete the package, Visionlite used Martin by Harman MAC Axiom Hybrids and Claypaky A.leda B-EYE K10’s fixed at an angle behind the DJ booth. “We love the Axiom for its versatility, modern hybrid design and it’s futuristic effects, and it was a perfect combination with K10’s high performance wash effect. Its rotating front lens allowed us to create an amazing space behind the DJs,” Gaca told TPi. Also for the stage area, Visionlite used Yestech 3.9mm LED panels placed in front of its custom made curved Deejay B2B table. identical panels were mounted on the angled frames right behind the DJ booth. In total the momentous show took 6 days to set up with 2 days of rehearsal time with 14 of the Visionlite team. The show ran for 2 months with a total of 6 Visionlite crew members manning the show. Gaca enthused about the summer collaboration and hinted there were more shows on the horizon; though he remained tight-lipped on any real specifics. Looks like we will have to wait until 2018 to see what else Visionlite has up its sleeve. TPi Photos: Courtesy of Resistance https://resistanceibiza.com/ http://visionlite.eu/ www.unlimited-productions.com www.unlimited-rental.com 23
AGATHA CHRISTIE’S COURTROOM DRAMA IS BROUGHT TO LIFE BY DPA The company’s d:dicate and d:screet microphones deliver clear and transparent sound in a venue infamous for its challenging acoustic.
Setting Agatha Christie’s classic play Witness for the Prosecution in the debating chamber of London’s County Hall proved quite a trial for the production’s sound crew, who had to cope with a variety of issues - not least a notoriously difficult acoustic environment. Yet thanks to the judicious deployment of numerous loudspeakers and a selection of DPA microphones, the challenges were overcome so well that the play opened to 4 and 5-star reviews and plenty of positive audience feedback. Tony Award-winning Sound Designer Mic Pool, who is responsible for the system design, speech reinforcement and the content of the play’s soundscape, is using 4 DPA d:dicate 2011C Twin Diaphragm Cardioid Microphones as the fixed microphones for the judge, witness box and clerks. The actors are fitted with a total of 10 d:screet 4061 Miniature Microphones, which are hidden in their hair. The microphones and other sound equipment was supplied by Stage Sound Services - a company Pool often uses because they provide ‘excellent support’ and maximise what he can achieve within his budget. “The DPA microphones contribute enormously to the success of the sound design for this production,” he said. “It is clear the audience is connecting with the performances and responding, moment by moment, and that is a positive indication that we have overcome the acoustics of the
venue and created that vital aural connection between actor and audience on which the success of any play depends.” Pool has been involved in theatre sound for over 40 years and has worked across the entire scale of theatrical activity, from productions in the West End and on Broadway, to regional, fringe and community companies. He was recommended as the sound designer for Witness for the Prosecution by the play’s Director Lucy Bailey, with whom he has worked on 6 previous productions. “Witness for the Prosecution is presented by Rebecca Stafford and Eleanor Lloyd. Stafford previously staged a different production in council chambers in Leeds and York,” Pool explained. “Stafford found the County Hall venue when she was looking for somewhere suitable for a London run. She joined forces with Lloyd, and together they developed and coproduced this production.” With its 50ft high marbled walls, the debating chamber at County Hall is visually magnificent, but this has resulted in an acoustic entirely unsuited to speech; as far back as 1922 there were letters and articles in the press bemoaning the poor audibility of debates. “We resolved to correct this, and our aim was to design a system that would allow every word to be heard,” Pool said. “We also wanted to 24
WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION
Opposite: Catherine Steadman in Witness for the Prosecution with the DPA d:dicate microphone.
enhance the audience experience and create the impression of a great acoustic to match the thrilling visual setting.” The principal challenge was to drastically increase the ratio of direct to reverberant sound. Pool tackled this by designing a system that uses over 120 loudspeakers. “That equates to 1 speaker, no further than a metre away, for every 3 audience members, which had to be installed without making any alterations to the Grade II listed fabric and fittings of the building,” he said. “It was a very difficult and time-consuming job for our installation team led by Production Sound Engineer Aidan Jones.” Because the loudspeakers are close to the audience, the performance of the microphones is exposed in almost microscopic detail. “We set up a small area of audience seating with loudspeakers and associated processing and brought in two of the cast to experiment with many models of microphones as a test prior to putting the final spec out for quotation,” said Pool. “I had previously used d:dicate 2011Cs as float microphones for the vocal reinforcement of The 39 Steps on Broadway and had achieved great results. For this reason, I included them in our testing ‘shoot out’. We were selecting for transparency and speech intelligibility and on that basis the 2011Cs were clearly superior to other tested models and were far more forgiving in off-axis use. An additional advantage was that they were visually extremely neutral, so much so that we decided to use them as is, rather than attempting to disguise them as the actual period microphones that would have been in use in court rooms in 1952 when our play is set.” Pool added that, in this production, the actors who play the lawyers are more mobile than they would be in a genuine court setting. “The 370 members of the audience are wrapped around the acting area, both at floor level and in three high galleries, so they need to move freely in order to play to all these seats.” For them, and for all actors in other scenes, which are performed on a
thrust stage in the centre of the room, Pool is using d:screet 4061 Miniature Microphones in conjunction with wireless transmitters. “I have used d:screet 4061’s on most productions I’ve designed in recent years as they work well in a variety of positions on actors’ heads,” Pool said. “This is very important for this production because we are coping with hats and legal wigs, so we have to find positions that give good results for all these scenarios without resorting to excessive equalisation. The closest members of our audience are less than a metre from the stage so we bought the microphones in beige and they were expertly camouflaged using paint marker pens to precisely match hair and skin tones and patterning, by Sound Engineer Phoebe Jean Gosling so as to be practically invisible to the audience. “We have 8 areas where microphones are used. Each of these areas are fed, with individual time delay and level control, to 16 loudspeaker zones so that every audience member hears the live sound from the actor first. This means that the loudspeakers no longer appear to be the source of the reinforced sound - instead the audience believe they are listening directly to the actors’ voices from the position they are speaking from.” To further enhance the clarity of the reinforced sound, the production is mixed line by line by Sound Operator Henry Harrod so that generally there is only one microphone live at any time. Adapted from an Agatha Christie short story, Witness for the Prosecution details the trial of Leonard Vole - a man accused of murdering a widow to inherit her wealth. The original play premiered in London in 1953 and was described by Christie as “one of my plays that I like best myself”. This particular version premiered in October and runs through to March, 2018. TPi Photo: Sheila Burnett www.dpamicrophones.com www.witnesscountyhall.com
METALLICA: THE WORLDWIRED TOUR Hot on the heels of a successful US stadium run and a chart-topping 10th studio album, Hardwired... to Self-Destruct, the famed 4-piece headed to Europe to with a completely overhauled show design. TPi’s resident metalheads, Ste Durham and Stew Hume, needed no excuses to check this one out…
“The band have always done the unexpected,” began long standing Show Director and Set Designer, Dan Braun. “They have always had 3 goals; make it special, make it memorable and make it fun.” The subsequent, fully-360° in-the-round show had more in common with a sci-fi film than a traditional metal show. Featuring automated video cubes, a sound system able to descend to 11Hz, and a swarm of drones that encircled the band on stage… it’s metal Jim, but not as we know it. Leading the charge was Production Manager John ‘Lug’ Zajonc. Having worked with the band on and off since 1994, Lug officially took on the role of Production Manager in 2016. The PM told TPi how the production made a quick transition between the stadium shows and an in-the-round arena tour. “This section of the world tour has been in the works for some time but all the final preparations were being made while we were still on the stadium run in the States,” commented Lug. He outlined the challenges: “The timelines were getting pretty jampacked all the way to the first show day. When you’re in the flow of a stadium tour it’s quite trying to then have a completely different show to work on.” Overcoming the issues, Lug cited the Metallica touring party’s no-nonsense attitude and professionalism as the reason for the success so far. “The team we have are really hard working. Load-in and out times are always getting more efficient. It’s what we do. Our end goal is to have people leave each gig feeling better than they did when they came in - something I think we succeed in every night.” The touring supply roster boasts many familiar faces to the Metallica Family, including; Meyer Sound, UltraSound, TAIT Towers, Premier Global Productions, PRG Nocturne, Pyrotek Special Effects, Legacy Power Services and Guardian Barrier Services. Meanwhile, logistics and transport were taken care of by Rock-It Cargo, Beat the Street and Transam Trucking. Crew catering was delivered by Eat Your Hearts Out, with Rockpool Tour Catering handling the band’s home cooked nutritional needs. WHEREVER I MAY ROAM Stage Manager, Michael Washer, handled the day-to-day running of the show. “No matter what style of touring you work on, there are always challenges and it’s the same with in-theround concerts,” mused Washer. “It can be a difficult environment to work in due to space restrictions. Everything has to be extra tidy as every aspect of the stage is in full view of 27
the audience. Having said that we are thankful to be out of the weather following our last stadium tour!” Although watching Metallica play in the centre of an arena gives fans new levels of accessibility, it also creates an interesting dilemma when the house lights go down. Washer and his team managed to get the band to the stage with a solution involving a long barrier walkway that connected to the backstage entrance. “This is not the first time production has tackled this style of performance in terms of crowd management,” Washer recalled, explaining Metallica was more than familiar with the set up having most recently toured the Death Magnetic tour in the round. “This stage is slightly smaller then the one we had on the Death Magnetic tour,” he stated. “This makes things a little tighter for the crew at side of stage. Each of the backline guys takes up one side of the square with our monitor guys locating backstage, using a camera system to see what’s going on.” Guardian Barriers Services helped to keep both the band and audience safe throughout the tour: “The main challenge facing a barrier provider and tour security alike in an in-the-round environment is getting the band on and off the stage,” commented Guardian Barriers’ President, JB Dolphin. “Running the band through the crowd can create problems, so maintaining a safe working zone for staff and band is essential. Also, as every entrance point from the backstage changes, we provide a variety of corners to accommodate a variety of situations.” He concluded: “People spend a career working towards a gig like this and, simply put, Guardian’s selection as barrier provider for Metallica’s WorldWired tour is a huge deal for us. Safety and security is our passion, and it has been an incredible opportunity to create a safe environment for Metallica’s notoriously active crowds and staff alike.”
drones, and even the set up of the band’s technicians - everything fits together.” Enter TAIT Towers, which provided the initial skeleton of this touring beast. “I first started having conversations with Adam Davis of TAIT 13 months ago,” said Braun. Fabricating the set and mother grid in its Lititz, Pennsylvania HQ, the whole stage was sent over to Europe for the opening night in Copenhagen. The structure consisted of a 44ft x 44ft square main stage, equipped with several prop lifts. Above the band, 52 LED video cubes displayed colourful, vivid and flashy video content, hanging from 52 BT290 winches housed in a 60ft x 60ft mother grid rigging system. “Video is an element we have steered away from during our in-the-round shows, because in the past we thought it might be a distraction,” commented Braun. “On this tour we have changed all that with content and live footage playing throughout the show.” 36 of the cubes were automated, giving them the ability to move 4ft per second and vertically traverse 40ft of above-stage space. TAIT’s Navigator served as the primary show control system for the entire show. According to Braun: “The system TAIT provided grants us an endless array of looks, which gives each audience member a unique experience. It’s been great fun finding combinations that work.” Michael Pettit was the Automation Crew Chief. Pettit and the TAIT team set about prepping all the automation gear, while the band were still completing the stadium run. Pettit enthused over the automated video cubes: “The BT290 winches are built into the custom truss. Just from the automation, each of the BT290’s weighs 300kg and the cubes themselves weigh in at 250kg, which became an issue due to the load-capacities in Europe.” Pettit elaborated: “When you factor in all the lighting and PA, it’s a sizable weight we are dealing with, and each venue in Europe and the UK is slightly different. But it’s been looking great on this run and with the automated cubes we have produced some great looks!” Standing by his control console at FOH, Pettit explained how his role varied slightly from a ‘traditional’ automation procedure. “During a show we are dealing with an awful lot of data. Not only am I working on the
DREAM NO MORE For staging, Show Director and Set Designer Braun was on a mission: “I wanted to eliminate anything that would disrupt the flow of energy from the band to their fans, no matter where they were in the venue. All of the production elements work together; PA, lighting, video, pyrotechnics, 28
Production Manager John ‘Lug’ Zajonc; Automation Crew Chief, Michael Pettit; Lighting Crew Chief JT McDonald; Stage Manager, Michael Washer; LD Rob Koenig; Navigator, Tara Boughey
movement of the cubes, I also have requests coming from the lighting desk, specifying where they want the cubes. Additionally during a show I send the location data to both our lighting and video departments so they know where they are in physical space.” Despite the complicated workflow however, Pettit was more then complimentary of the final look: “I have worked for a lot of rock and theatre shows and I have never seen anything like this - it really has its own identity.” With such a large proportion of the set being brought over from the US, production chose Legacy Power Services to supply transformers and distribution for the Euopean run. “As you can imagine, there is a lot of US voltage use on the tour,” commented Lug. “For this reason, we brought on Legacy Power and Tour Electrician, John Greenwood, who has been an integral part of our team.”
Q-7’s. Lighting Crew Chief JT McDonald explained: “Originally we had 5 Q-7’s per side on the grid but, because of the speaker clusters, we only have 2 on each and have moved the rest to the dual-purpose audience truss and cable bridge. Every department’s cables go up that and out of the way, and it also allows Rob to light the audience a bit better.” As well as doing the band and their show justice, Koenig was keen to ensure that the “symbiotic” relationship between Metallica and their fans was preserved as much as possible. “They feed off the audience more than any band I’ve ever worked with,” he said. “I have had to come up with ways of lighting the audience so it isn’t obnoxious for 2 hours straight!” he laughed. “Fixture choice is key here.” The LD made use of subtle shades throughout the show, with 3 more BMFLs deployed at each end of the cable bridge to produce hard edges of light that could cut though the soft glow. Koenig continued: “Staring down the barrel of any fixture for the duration of a show isn’t pleasant, but the way we have them placed on the truss avoids that. We’re lighting the audience pretty evenly but I quite often keep an eye on the audience to make sure nothing is bugging them too much.” A key tool to ensure the band remained visible on stage was the Spotrack system. Each band member has 2 BMFLs on them at all times, courtesy of 4 operators, as Koenig explained: “I also have a second operator at the console. All of the colour is coming from cue lists and I call intensities for him like I would with a traditional spotlight. It’s certainly a busy job for them all, as the band moves around constantly with zero choreography. There’s also no tape, no ProTools, and no click so the band is in full control of the tempo of the show.” As well as directing the musical aspect of the show from the stage, the band is also heavily involved in the conceptual stages of the show design. Koenig continued: “Lars [Ulrich, drummer] is the artist. He loves what we do with production and definitely challenges us along the way. He’s very into asymmetry so - as the rig is very symmetrical on its own - we have tried
HIT THE LIGHTS LD Rob Koenig was chosen to take the tour on the road: “Immediately we had 2 different ideas and brought them to the band; obviously they wanted to do the more difficult one! Dan gave the show to me and allowed me to do anything I wanted with it, lighting-wise. Due to the weight of the cubes we were limited in the air, and Dan wanted to get rid of anything that you would see on a typical rock show, like trusses and a cluttered rig - ending up with just over 100 fixtures in use. We had to get very creative; allowing the light to play with dark and using negative space as effectively as possible.” He continued: “It looks like a pop show until you hit the first cue. There’s nothing wrong with the typical ‘metal’ look with strobes from start to finish, but that’s just not us. We ride the balance of lighting band members with creating certain moods, but not to the point of using dark saturated colours and uplighting like you’d expect. That said, the design still functions as a ‘metal’ gig, particularly with the video being used the way it is.” Each of the cubes had a Robe BMFL mounted underneath to serve as the workhorse fixture for washes and effects. Above this were 8 more BMFLs that were used as truss spots in conjunction with Spotrack’s proprietary remote followspot system. On outside of the rig was a smattering of SGM 30
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everything we can to break out of that. During a pow-wow with Lars, I love that he’ll ask a lighting question to my video director, or ask a pyro question to me. He likes to hear multiple viewpoints on every aspect of the show.” McDonald added: “It’s not a massive rig but the problem is that everyone is so interconnected. We have to share our cable bridge with audio to keep everything clean and safe, so the load-in and rig is quite often an organisational challenge in itself. “There is always a mass of people in the centre, particularly with the building of the stage and rigging of the video cubes. I have 2 guys who stay with the project for the duration, which means I lose them for everything else. I work with the stage manager and production to traffic everyone, but I have really good guys here - we talk constantly and I try to play to everyone’s strengths.” He continued: “I don’t tend to micromanage, I just give them their objectives and keep feeding them in a timely manner. It often helps to step back and look at big picture when you’re organising movement of kit and crew on this scale. We rarely have time to pitch in, so if there’s a hold up we will usually move on and try to get something else out of the way. You have to depend on the fact that everyone is good at their jobs, but at the end of the day we’re all working within the same timeframe.”
Evision processing. This gave the crew a lot of additional options for colour control and mapping, among other things. All displays and mapping were taken care of by disguise, formerly known as d3 Technologies, gx 2 media servers. “We named each one of the cubes after a particular playing card,” the Video Director explained. “They’re all rigged on travelling winches so they’re easy to target and bring down individually, should any problems arise.” The cubes displayed a mixture of content and IMAG, the shots for the latter coming from 12 robotic cameras operated by 3 crewmembers. Maculiffe also had 4 static cameras trained on the drum kit in order to get shots of Ulrich’s skills in action. Macauliffe explained: “The cameras are positioned all around the stage, as we need to be able to cover every corner. I cut the show while Graham Holwill shades and colours all 16 cameras. “As a director I’m in the mind set of wanting to capture what is happening within the song in terms of which band member is most prominent at that particular moment. It’s a bit of a challenge with only 3 operators as they can only move one camera at a time, but we’re all getting used to roughly where the guys go during the show and which cameras are necessary to cover them. “A heavy metal show allows you to choose shots that you couldn’t in a pop show, and it’s always fun to show our grungy side now and then. Lastly, it’s really important to show the band interacting with the fans. They thrive off that energy transfer - just like the crowd does - so you can’t afford to miss any opportunities to highlight those moments.” In addition to serving as either IMAG or housing individual pieces of content, the cubes could also be used in groups to create a kind of virtual projection effect where each unit is a part of a single image. He explained: “We have a songs where every cube is in motion for the duration and some where they almost serve as a static lighting fixture. On other tracks, they might move in groups, tracking up and down - basically it all depends on the song and the content on the cubes. The goal is for every song to look different, which is no easy task when you are working to a set list as big as these guys have.” Although much of the set was based around ever-present classics like One or Nothing Else Matters and cuts from band’s latest album, there were certain slots that were changeable from night to night. The crew were only
EYE OF THE BEHOLDER Video Director Gene Macauliffe has seen constant change in his 2.5 years with the band, having started out as a video engineer, before acting as server tech on the aforementioned [and LED-heavy] stadium tour that preceded WorldWired. He began: “This new show design has certainly presented a whole new set of challenges for us, but it’s also allowed us to be really creative in how we use the surfaces themselves. Where the last tour was focussed on IMAG and presenting the show to people, this one is more about using textures and colours in a more holistic way. “We’re working just about every day because of the sheer size of the show,” he continued. “We have a load-in day for around 8-10 hours and then a show day before we strike it all and it’s on to the next town. This means we don’t get a great deal of time off, but the work is definitely more manageable.“ The centrepiece of the show, the 52 LED cubes, were formed of ROE CB5 panels and driven by Brompton M2 processors, rather than the standard 32
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Video Director Gene Macauliffe.
informed of the residents of these slots 30 minutes before the first notes boomed across the PA, so adaptability was key. Maculiffe said: “We always have all possibilities ready to go; the warning used to used to come even later back in the day so we don’t complain! It’s always the chat around the water cooler once it comes in, but everyone is in the same boat from that perspective.”
couldn’t stop watching them. He came to the mic after it finished and said to the crowd, ‘now that was fucking awesome!’ We all got a good kick out of that and it was a massive relief.” When even the sturdiest PA boxes or workhorse lighting fixtures can fall victim to the hardwearing nature of life on the road, it’s easy to imagine how apprehensive the crew were to see how these potentially fragile 50g vehicles fared on their first ever tour. “Every time they come out of the truck I’m nervous,” Boughey said. “It’s extremely challenging as the rooms are always different; everything hangs a little differently, things move, things change. I have to recalibrate in every venue, even if we stay in the same building or have a day off, just in case anything is different. The system tells me how accurate the drones will be, down to a few centimetres.” For the show itself, the drones are placed on 4 hydraulic lifts below the stage to ensure they can take off with sufficient ease. Boughey continued: “A couple of songs before Moth Into Flame starts, my heart starts to race again. As luck would have it, the song before me is one of the slots that changes every night, so the amount of time I have to prepare is totally unpredictable. “I do a lot of preparation before I get the go-ahead that the drones are flush with the stage at deploy-height. Once they’re ready to go I have a 45-second countdown - which seems like an eternity - and then they take off a few batches at a time. The band is great at making sure they can see all the drones before they start the song.” All of the drones have individual roles assigned for their movement patterns during the song - choreography that was devised by Verity before rehearsals in Lititz. “I am constantly monitoring their state in terms of power and signal. We have 12 modules in the air hanging from the cubes, 12 modules on the stage and 4 more underneath to ensure the entire area is adequately covered,“ she said. Although Boughey’s remarkable aptitude for shouldering and succeeding with such a high-pressure experiment was commendable, she was quick to credit those around her: “It’s been a fun learning experience
JUMP IN THE FIRE While Metallica are no strangers to climactic, one-off special effects [think the spectacular collapsing Lady Justice statue on their razor-sharp Damaged Justice tour in 1988/89] the band’s latest outing saw new ground being broken with a swarm of automated drones. Although the use of drones on stage per se is not unheard of, the collaboration between TAIT and Switzerland’s Verity Studios has resulted in a set piece that is as innovative as it is impressive. “I had no experience of using drones before pre-production on this tour, as I’m usually a carpenter or automation,” began Navigator, Tara Boughey. “Verity were just starting to bring things over to Lititz and I was just going to go over for an afternoon to help them out - or so I thought! James [Hetfield, rhythm guitar and vocals] had wanted to use drones for a long time and the band were really excited that it was finally going to become a reality. It’s James’ baby for sure.” The Synthetic Swarm, made up of 100 Verity Studios Lucie micro drones, were chosen to serve as the ‘moths’ for one of the band’s latest tracks, Moth Into Flame, and is the world’s first autonomous drone swarm performance in a major touring act. Each Lucie micro drone is equipped with a programmable RGB light, though only white light was used for the song. The system is comprised of self-piloted Lucies, a positioning system, a rack-mounted control unit, and Lucie charging stations, none of which caused any issues for the RF department. Boughey controlled the show from a TAIT automation system in the corner of the arena, which ran using Verity’s proprietary software. She continued: “During the first show, the band and James in particular 34
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Pyrotek Special Effects has supplied Metallica’s pyrotechnics since 1994.
for Verity as much as it has been for me. They were really good in training me and listening to my ideas, and they have been with me pretty much the whole way. The crew have been great as well - I need 15 minutes of clear stage to perform the necessary tests each day, which is quite a luxury on a show of this scale.” Rather than creating any H&S concerns for the band or audience, the drones’ delicate frame meant that the only real concern was losing them. “One of the crew asked me if they would hurt so I threw one at them! I would hate it to go wrong and be caught on social media, but they’ve been very well behaved so far. It’s strange to say, but it seems like they all have their own personalities by this point,” she laughed. “If anything was to go wrong I can pause, perform a soft stop to bring them down nicely, or even do a hard stop, which would make it rain! Luckily I’ve never had to resort to that. They also can’t fly while they’re on charge under the stage, so there’s no risk of a bunch of guys running out from there being chased by drones - though I have threatened it from time to time!” She continued: “Joking aside it does give me a lot of sleepless nights. For example, today in Manchester we’re missing a few cubes as the rig couldn’t take it, so I have less signal - that’s why I ran full choreography, just to make sure. “Even with the nerves, I’m honoured to be taking this out for the first time ever. We’ve already made changes to make it more user-friendly, so if and when this system goes out again it will be faster and more accurate. Just seeing the reactions from the band and audience every night makes everything worthwhile., even though it’s just one song. The secret is out now of course; you see thousands of phones come out as soon as the song begins.”
had to make sure that the band was able to maintain a safe distance from the effects. We determined safe zones for the band to stand awhile the pyro cues are going off. During the show Hans Lundberg, Pyro Shooter, could determine if it was safe and proceed accordingly.” In total 8 Galaxis Flame units were deployed along with 100 pyrotechnic devices such as mines, comets and gerbs. For control Pyrotek used the Galaxis PFC Advanced black edition controller. FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS Although the latest in-the-round offering presented a whole new look for Metallica’s faithful following, there is one thing that every fan expects when the kings of metal hit the stage - their signature sound. The man behind the quartet’s live audio for the last 34 years is ‘Big’ Mick Hughes. “My history with Metallica all came down to one decision I made back in 1984 at Birmingham University,” reminisced Hughes. “I had the call to cover a one-off for The Armoury Show. Afterwards, their manager asked me to join them for the rest of the tour. In that moment I had to make a decision to either take my money and ride back home on my motorbike or get on the tour bus!” After being on the road with them for 18 months, the tour fizzled out, but the band’s management, Q-Prime, wanted to keep Hughes on and try him out with its new unknown, up-and-coming thrash band from Los Angeles, California. You can fill in the blanks. During their early days, not many could have predicted the stamp Metallica would eventually leave on the metal scene - and the music industry as a whole. Even back in the ‘80s, Hughes was shaping the band’s live sound to make it as powerful as possible, an obsession that to this day the FOH Engineer is still perfecting. “It was a really sharp learning curve working with Metallica. I had done punk and rock shows but this was a completely different beast. Back then there was a lot more ‘space’ in the mix for rock bands. If one of the members were to do a solo, the rest of the band would back off. With Metallica if someone would solo the others would play harder - it was a frenzy!” The foundation of Metallica’s live sound would become synonymous with the slabs of thunderous bass crafted by original band member Cliff Burton, who tragically died in 1986. “Cliff played his bass more like a lead guitar, which meant it had to sit differently in the mix,” commented Hughes. “I have always pushed for use of all frequencies so they sound as full as possible. It’s always a challenge and even with 3 decades under my belt there are new problems, but that’s what keeps it interesting.” While on the topic of challenges, TPi and Hughes discussed the
FIGHT FIRE WITH FIRE Despite all the tricks up their sleeves, the band’s production still relied on some old favorites including the slightest touch of pyrotehcnics for Enter Sandman. Once again catering for this was Pyrotek Special Effects. Reid Derne, Pyrotek’s Project Manager, commented on the company’s involvement. “We started with Metallica in 1994 on the Summer Shit Tour. The pressure was on working for the largest touring band with one of the biggest pyro shows at the time. Thankfully we were successful, which started our incredible journey with the band.” Derne went on to explain some of the challenges with this tour. “The size of the stage played a large part into what we could do. The biggest challenge was, while obeying the rules of distance to the audience, we also 36
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Metallica’s dedicated audio team.
idiosyncrasies of a 360° show. Ever candid, Hughes laughed: “For the fans of the band, an in-the-round gig is fantastic. For audio it’s fucking miserable!” It’s a challenge Hughes and the audio team have tangled with before. “The largest issue for us is getting the intelligibility,” said Hughes. “For a show like this your main reference is the closest hang, but you also have the others reflecting around the room. It’s very tricky.” Hughes was quick to credit more modern techniques used by UltraSound (the tour audio support), which have certainly made things easier. “The UltraSound wizards on their computers are able to show what is going on in the venue and make adjustments each day to ensure we get the best clarity possible.” As with the last few tours, Metallica’s sound came via their very own Meyer Sound PA. To borrow from frontman James Hetfield’s phrasebook, the “mad scientists of sound” and their LEO system was an ideal choice for the band. “I’ve used many other speaker manufacturers over the years and there is nobody like Meyer,” claimed Hughes. “I first started with their MILO system and although I loved the tone and the horns, it didn’t quite have the power Metallica needed. I remember having a conversation with John Meyer and a few other people about what ‘loud’ really was for a metal band. As a company they really listen to feedback, something I’ve always admired about Meyer.” A year or so following those conversations, the company announced the LEO system, one that Metallica has been touring with now for years. “The voicing of the LEO system really fits my style of mixing,” praised Hughes. “I want the mid and the high frequencies to be quite flat to provide a full picture across the spectrum. I also love how slick it is as a system. I don’t miss the days of having a massive stack of amplifiers in one corner of the venue. Each speaker has a dedicated GALAXY drive set up, which means all we have to do is distribute power and signal and we’re away.” The audio set up consisted of 3 rings of distribution; an inner zone of near fill, and outer zone for the show floor and first few rows of seating and, finally, an upper zone for the top layer of seating. The array consisted of 4 hangs of 10 LEOs, 4 of 15 LYONs and an additional coverage 4 hangs of 5 LYONs. For subs there were 4 clusters of 9 1100-LFCs with 8 chains of 6 LEOPARDs for near field with an additional 8 for the band. On site during the Metallica’s UK dates was Meyer Sound’s Oskar Meijer, Senior Technical Support Specialist. “UltraSound has done a fantastic job putting this large complex system together in practically no time. Members of our technical support team were on site for the first shows and things have been running smoothly,” he explained.
Ryan Cornelius, Systems Tech for UltraSound, discussed the company’s role in the production. “The band’s management wanted a collaborative partnership between the tour, UltraSound, and Meyer Sound. UltraSound has a vast knowledge of system integration and 30 years of touring experience while Meyer Sound has an incredibly advanced design and manufacturing team. We maintain, modify, update, and deploy the system day in, day out. It was incredibly full-on for the first couple of days as we began to piece together all the elements of this set, assembling the PA in less than 4 days.” UltraSound deployed 24 GALAXY processors using 18 Extreme X440 G2-24T-10GE4 switches providing redundant AVB streams at 24 bit / 96k with a super low latency of 0.6milliseconds making for a high-resolution studio monitor quality sound reinforcement system. Each speaker receives its own discreet feed from a GALAXY processor allowing for ultimate flexibility and control. This also allows for deployment of Meyer Sound’s LMBC Low Mid Beam Control for an even sonic experience in every seat in the arena. Josh Osmond, Rental Operations Manager for UltraSound commented on the company’s involvement with the tour: “Meyer Sound and UltraSound have a 3-decade plus relationship so joining forces on this project made complete sense. The main challenges with this tour were; a condensed build time, overall scale being in the round, as well as the total show weight. However, the team over at Meyer came up with a great design that was able to accomplish great coverage, big impact and spread the weight out around the roof of each building to work within the limitation of weight restrictions. Our system engineers from UltraSound then needed to really get all of the time alignment spot on. With sources spread out in a total of 32 arrays flown consisting of LEO, LYON, LEOPARD and 1100LFC. There really was no room for error.” He continued: “The Metallica crew has always been fantastic to work with. They have a long history of putting on excellent shows, and their expectations are high. They demand the best out of whoever they are working with, and it’s always a pleasure to be a part of that.” For the WorldWired tour, Metallica’s audio department - as is in their nature - was pushing the realms of audio experience with the latest Meyer Sound VLFC, a very low frequency control element engineered to produce high power output at frequencies below the limits of human hearing. “We use the VLFCs as a special effect to create a realistic experience of an explosion, one that you feel in your chest more than you hear with your ears,” described Hughes. “When they do the pyro for songs like One, the 38
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VLFC arrays complete the visual effect.” Cornelius was also complimentary of the new addition. “For me it’s probably one of the most fun moments of the show. When we blast them its very much a sensation rather than a tone.” For control, Hughes again put his faith in the Midas XL8, the FOH Engineer’s desk of choice for the last decade. “I’ve tried every digital console and I just haven’t got along with any of them except the XL8. It’s a spectacular desk and does everything I need it to. I’m of the mentality that I shouldn’t have to play ‘Battleship’ every time I want some noise to come out of the PA. The workflow of the XL8 means you can approach the desk with an ‘analogue’ mentality.” He concluded, “I really can’t see myself using anything else,” he said jokingly, adding: “As I’m 60 I doubt I’ll get much of a chance.” Manning the desk alongside Hughes was FOH Tech Jonathan Day. Having been co-pilot at FOH with Hughes for almost 10 years, he has become part of Metallica’s audio fabric. “I started off in the staging department about 13 years ago,” began Day. “But then when Hughes was moving over to digital consoles they were after someone with a head for computers to act as a network technician. Fast forward a decade and I’m still here.” As well as aiding the FOH Engineer and general maintenance of the Midas console, Day also has another vital role within the live set. “Over the years the band have starting requesting several microphone positions. Sometimes we are working with around 15 positions. During the show I chase around each member of the band to ensure they have the correct vocal mix and any not being used are closed off.” Anyone who has witnessed Metallica before will be more than aware of just how much the 3 guitarists move around the stage. However, this latest rendition brought an additional challenge for Day. “Although there are only 4 mic positions, the fact it’s such a small stage means they can flip from one spot to the next in a few steps,” commented Day. “It certainly keeps me busy.”
Similar to FOH, Midas was the brand of choice, with Cowan opting to use a PRO9 and Correia using a PRO2. “It took some time to find the ideal set up for consoles,” stated Cowan. “On an analogue desk, we used to have 2 operators on 1 console. But when we made the move to digital we found their workflow, not to mention their size, meant having 2 people work from one system was less than ideal. This new set up means that both Adam and I can have everything at our fingertips - a necessity in this fast-paced show.” On stage the band used a combination of both IEM and stage wedges. For IEM, all 4 members used Ultimate Ears UE-7’s. For transmission the Monitor Engineers used a combination of both Shure and Sennheiser products with Hetfield and Hammett on Shure PSM1000’s and Trujillo and Ulrich on the Sennheiser 2000 Series. “We always had the mentality that you should use the best tool for the job,” stated Correia in reference to the 2-brand IEM solution. Cowan agreed, explaining: “Originally everyone was on the 2000 Series, but following the introduction of the PSM1000’s I found they were more suited James and Kirk’s stereo mixes to get a clean RF channel.” The stage also featured 16 Meyer Sound MJF-210 wedges, 4 at each microphone positions along with 4 ‘hot spots’. Cowan elaborated: “Since 2012 the band have done away with stage cabinets and amps, instead opting to use Fractal Audio’s Axe-Fx for their live sound. This means we needed to create some hotspots for the guitars for James and Kirk when they want to create some feedback or other similar effects traditionally created when standing by their live cabinets.” Cowan continued: “Each of the guys have their own preference with how they like to have both their IEM and wedge mixes set up. For example, James doesn’t want to hear much low end coming from his wedge mix and rather get the ‘feel’ from his guitar coming through the stage. This is why both of us keep such a close eye on each member during the set to ensure we have the right mix coming from the wedges.” The vocal microphone of choice was a Shure Super SM55. Meanwhile for the drums, a selection of DPA’s were deployed including the DPA d:vote 4099, which has been used on Ulrich’s kit for the last few tours as well as a combination of Audix D6’s and Shure SM91’s for the bass drums.
(IN)DISPOSABLE HEROES Holding down monitor responsibilities were Robert Cowan and Adam Correia. The 2 engineers have worked side by side for the last few tours, with Cowan handling mixes for Hetfield and Ulrich, and Correia taking care of lead guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo. Since 2011 the duo has ensured that, no matter where on the stage any of the band members are, they each received their own personal mix. However due to the nature of the in-the-round performance and the lack of stage real estate, both Correia and Cowan had to work with the aid of a camera set up, keeping their consoles backstage. “It certainly adds another challenge to an already complex job,” stated Cowan plainly. “Even though we are setting up backstage, each of the band still expect to have their mix no matter where they are. So both Adam and I have to adapt to the changing conditions.”
THE END OF THE LINE Ensuring that fans from all over Europe got to experience Metallica’s live offering were Beat The Street and Transam Trucking, which provided ground transport throughout the run. To accomodate such an elaborate stage show, Transam supplied the tour with 23 megacube trucks. “We have been the band’s European trucking company since the very beginning,” commented Transam’s Natasha Highcroft. “After all these years, we even still have the same Lead Driver, Kevin ‘Barney’ Barnes, heading up the fleet.” She continued: “Metallica’s production has always routed their tours extremely well and there were only 2 journeys on this run that needed to be 40
double driven to enable them to load-in the day before show. This tour (along with all the others) has been great to be a part of. The Metallica management and crew are some of the best in the business and it’s always a pleasure to work with Lug and his team.” Beat The Street’s founder, and life-long Metallica fan, Joerg Philipp, discussed the company’s involvement on the band’s latest outing. “We have been fortunate to have been taking care of Metallica for the last 16 years. From being a big fan of the band to the become a vendor has been a great honour!” He continued: “The production are very easy going and they love the double deckers - nothing else matters - and we provided 6 double decker Setra nightliners to wherever they may roam. The tour was plain sailing all the way and as usual, we aimed to seek and destroy.” Looks like it’s not just TPi that is a fan of a good old pun… Furthermore, Rock-It Cargo handled the tour’s freighting solutions. “Metallica is one of Rock-It’s oldest clients - over 25 years,” commented Rock-It Cargo’s Greg Galbreath. This latest tour presented an interesting logistical challenge, with Rock-It making multiple shipments totalling 280,000kg of cargo to and from Hershey PA, New York, Brussels, Antwerp, London, Paris, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Orlando, Nashville, Copenhagen, Zurich, and Malmö. “We also had to arrange a pair of 747 aircraft full of materials, one from JFK of the Arena Stage, and one from Edmonton, Canada full of backline and production,” he added. “It made for a busy few weeks, for sure!” Like many other long-serving suppliers to Metallica’s production, Rockpool Tour Catering has continued its relationship with the band. Our link to Metallica started 30 years ago,” began Rockpool’s Charlotte Dillamore-Bailey. “It was one of our Director, Pete Bailey’s, first ever tours. As an experienced chef, since then he has maintained a great relationship with both the management and band. As a result of this, Rockpool was approached to provide the band with a personal chef.” Rockpool’s Simon Mitchell took up the mantel, working tirelessly to deliver exquisite meals for all of the band’s dietary requirements. Rockpool Tour Catering also provided production with a VVIP bar, which was handled by Event Manager, Justin Smith. “This bar was purely for the band’s friends, family and special guests,” commented DillamoreBailey. “Justin would work the room, providing Metallica’s guests with a cool and funky area to drink and relax in when they visited.” Although for most of the European tour the production relied upon local catering for their crew, for the UK run Eat Your Hearts Out ensured each department was well fed and watered. TPi Photos: Tom Martin, Ralph Larmann & TPi www.metallica.com www.taittowers.com https://meyersound.com www.promediaultrasound.com www.premierglobalproduction.com https://veritystudios.com/ www.prg.com www.pyrotekfx.com www.legacypowerservices.com www.guardianbarrierservices.com www.beatthestreet.net www.transamtrucking.com www.rockpooltourcatering.com 41
ROYAL BLOOD As Royal Blood embarked on the arena run of their latest campaign, TPi rejoined the tour to discover whatâ€™s changed and how the band is setting audienceâ€™s hearts racing with their biggest shows to date...
For Brighton duo Royal Blood - bassist/frontman Mike Kerr and drummer projects. “I like working with Tim because I feel like we don’t really disagree Ben Thatcher - this year has been a supersonic ride. From their initial much, if ever!” said O’Riordan. “In fact, I don’t think we’ve disagreed once run of modest underplay gigs to full-scale arena shows (via a summer of on any element of this design; it’s nice when you meet a creative that you hugely successful festival appearances) the band - and their production actually gel with.” Beyond that, Routledge’s wealth of experience proved a crew - have consistently stepped up to the massive boon to the process. “Tim’s been there, mark, delivering bigger, bolder performances done that, got the t-shirt, so he’s anticipating with each new iteration of the show. things I may not, which has been really great.” When TPi first met up with the tour in As their starting point, the pair looked for a May, the team were just a few weeks in to the way of connecting the presence of a simple twocampaign’s initial underplay run, looking ahead piece on stage with the intense wall of sound with relish to the challenges of ramping up the they are able to create each night. Through an show’s ‘encapsulation’ aesthetic to a more evolution of ideas, the designers landed on the festival-friendly scale, before evolving it further concept of encapsulating the performers in a to fill the cavernous spaces of the arena run. constantly shifting vitrine of light, creating a Flash-forward to the end of November and the volume of space more appropriate to the scale view from FOH has expanded significantly. It of the music produced and at the same time was here, fine-tuning the show for the second intensifying focus on the singer and drummer date of the band’s UK arena run, that TPi within. On the underplay gigs, a back wall of rejoined Lighting Designer Sam O’Riordan to Martin by Harman Sceptron pillars and a more “It’s nice when you meet a find out how this evolution had progressed. permeable front wall of floor-mounted lasers The initial lighting concept for the underplay were used to create the desired effect, but it was creative that you actually gel run was born out of a collaboration with Tim clear something much more powerful would be with...” Routledge, with whom O’Riordan had been required for the step up to festival stages and LD Sam O’Riordan on Tim Routeledge lucky enough to work on a handful of past arena spaces. 44
FOH Engineer Phil Jones on his Midas PRO X.
The first challenge was to translate the Sceptron back wall into something NEXT-LEVEL LASERS that could compete with the daylight conditions of the festival run, Rehearsals at LH2 Studios provided a useful test space in which to fine retaining a thematic link, but beefing it up for an outdoor crowd. Their tune the next iteration of the tour, as the arrival of the arena run opened solution was to replace the clinical Sceptron lines with thick vertical up new opportunities for the lighting designers to step things up a level banks of 48 Portman P2 Hexaline. “We heard not least in the reintroduction of an up-scaled Portman were releasing the P2 pretty early on, laser system. On the earlier gigs ER Productions so we got in touch with them and straight away Laserblades had been used. “That worked really they were excited about being involved in the well and everyone loved it,” said O’Riordan. “It project,” recalled O’Riordan. The tour’s lighting gave us the green light to go full steam ahead supplier Neg Earth was equally enthused and and plan for the arena run along those lines.” immediately purchased the banks of Hexaline For this latest iteration, 120 ER Productions required to bring the concept to life. “Neg Earth Kinekts are flown in a new pre-rig truss above have been absolutely fantastic; they’ve really the band - a square comprising 30 Kinekts on looked after us,” said O’Riordan. “They really 12m x 2.88m pre-rig truss sections. Together believe in the project and they’ve been really they create a similar effect to the Laserblades involved throughout. Their support has been with the added advantage of providing 10 brilliant.” times the power while remaining extremely In addition to providing the required versatile and small. Thanks to the Kinekts’ high punch, the Portmans are built into a rig that speed x/y scanning and the use of the recently concertinas into a neat package, making load-in Beyond server, O’Riordan has a much “Neg Earth have been absolutely launched and transport relatively swift and painless. wider pallet of options available to him, as ER Consequently the crew were able to create Productions Co-founder Ryan Hagan explained. fantastic; they’ve really looked maximum onstage impact with the minimum of “Each Kinekt has a gyro that was originally after us...” turn-around time, an advantage carried through created as a safety feature for large LD Sam O’Riordan to the tour’s arena dates. installations,” he said. “Our crew can rig 200-300 46
lasers and return the next day, easily identifying if a fixture has moved by a fraction. We’re then able to bring the unit back in line without even turning it on. We can intercept the x/y position signal, so the gyro controls the movement. The default position is set to vertical and will stay in that fixed position even if the Kinesys truss is tilted and regardless of the effects we are running.” Thanks to this new laser set-up, the laser box is able to morph in a whole new range of interesting ways, at times bristling to the throb of the music or rippling in waves around the Royal Blood boys below. “What’s nice about his gig is it feels like ER have really stepped up to help us,” said O’Riordan. “It’s not like we’ve just got a couple of lasers scattered across a stage; there’s a very specific look we’re trying to achieve and ER have really pushed through to make it work for us. It’s exciting to be able to work with a company that’s up for trying new things.” For Hagan, seeing the results of their hard work has been equally rewarding. “Royal Blood’s team are great to work with,” he said. “Sam and Tim are always creating innovative designs that really push boundaries of production technologies like lasers.” VIDEO VÉRITÉ The arena stage allowed Routledge and O’Riordan to further develop their ‘encapsulation’ concept with the addition of a square video ceiling flown on a separate kinesys rig within the laser truss. Video Design supplied the screen - 40sqm of 6mm LED - as well as disguise (formerly d3 Technologies) gx 2 servers and a full HD
camera package based around Carbonite Black Plus switcher. “Video Design are a really smart outfit: all their rigging, their systems, their racks they’re just a really tidy firm. And all the operators and video crew they’ve supplied have been top of their game,” noted O’Riordan. Prepared video content has been deliberately avoided in favour of a pure, live feed from a mix of fixed and handheld cameras. “For me, content feels better suited to pop music, with its backing tracks and the like,” said O’Riordan. “What I like about this is that it’s a completely live experience. You’ve got the boys on the stage, and everything they do is live. Every sound you hear is Mike hitting a string or a pedal, or Ben bashing a drum, and everything you see is triggered live as well.” While IMAG and video ceiling both share the same feed, Notch is used to add an extra layer of texture - a visual buzz - to the content above the stage. “Notch and disguise has married up with this gig so well,” enthused O’Riordan. “We’re not using the servers to anywhere near their full extent - a lot of it is timeline programming - but they host Notch really well and it’s stable. Notch has been perfect for this gig, because it feeds into that whole live experience.” DRIVING SPOTS & MOVING HEADS With the conceptual light cage suitably scaled up, the rest of the lighting design is served by a simple but effective package of strobes and moving heads. “We haven’t gone mad with
different fixture types,” explained O’Riordan. “I don’t like to throw a load of different products at it; I prefer to keep things relatively straightforward, keep it quite uniform.” Each bank of Portmans is edged top and bottom with SGM Q-7 strobes while a set of TMB Solaris Flares edge the main laser truss. This central truss also supports several Robe Spiider LED washes. “They’ve been fantastic – they’re a great wash light and, with that ‘flower effect’ centre, they’re a great effects light too,” O’Riordan commented. Robe BMFLs are placed along the side of the stage and behind the Portmans, with 2 BMFLs on the main rig acting as followspots for the band on stage. These are each operated by a remote POV video camera feed to a tripod mounted Robe RoboSpot controller, positioned backstage. “I’m such a big fan of it,” said O’Riordan. “I hate being on comms during a show, so having a system like this - where I can control all of the parameters of the head from the console, but then give a followspot operator pan and tilt - is fantastic. And it works really well, because whenever I pull up that fader on Mike or Ben, I know for a fact that they’re going to have a light on them.” Indeed, so intuitive is the arcade-like RoboSpot kit, that some of the Fly By Nite truck drivers have been mucking in and taking on control duties. “They like it “Mike, the lead singer, is a big because it’s a fun new gadget to learn, and I love fan of Midas stuff...” it because it avoids all those complications you Phil Jones, FOH Engineer get with manual followspots, like blackout cues 48
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not being bang on and even people falling asleep mid-show.” At various points in the show, the performers might stroll down a short catwalk that juts into the crowd. To avoid having to put up an extra bit of truss, the BMFL followspots take on the role of backlights and a series of Robert Juliat’s new Dalis foot kickers around the catwalk’s edge are used as key light, (“They’re absolutely fantastic,” said O’Riordan). All lighting is controlled from a MA lighting grandMA2 (with a second for backup), with three MA NPU handling the processing required for the intimidating parameter count taken up by all those lasers. HEART POUNDING AUDIO Like O’Riordan, FOH Engineer Phil Jones has been working with the band since the very start of their career. “I’ve been friends with the boys for years, so this is only the second tour ever that I haven’t been production manager or tour manager,” he explained. “We started out in pubs and now we’re in arenas, which is kind of crazy, but it’s great.” With the band’s stock skyrocketing thanks to both commercial and critical success - not to mention a host of stellar endorsements from the likes of Jimmy Page and Dave Grohl - Jones has had the freedom to really push the boat
out for the arena run. “Ramping it up to arenas is really about making sure those two boys on stage sound as big as possible,” he said. “With two people, there’s nowhere for anything to hide, so it’s got to be in your face and it’s got to be good. I’ve been lucky enough that we have the budget to spec some posh toys and make it sound really great.” He continued: “One of the main challenges is getting it loud. And it is loud - it’s balls-out rock ’n’ roll for an hour and a half - but getting it loud so that it’s comfortable as well, that’s the tricky part.” Helping to hit that loud and clear sweet spot is Britannia Row, which provided all audio kit, including a PA comprised of L-Acoustics K-Series. For the larger shows, 14 K1’s with 6 K2 downs are used per side for the main hangs, behind each of which are hung eight K1SBs. 16 K2 per side are used as side hangs, with up to 24 KS28’s on the floor. The whole system is powered by 12 LA 12Xs in a very posh new Brit Row amp dolly (“It looks good and it goes in quick,” said Jones). For some of the smaller stops on the European leg of the tour, the K1’s “We started out in pubs and now were omitted, with the K2 and K1SBs used as the main hang instead. we’re in arenas, which is kind of “I’ve been a fan of Brit Row for years, so I try crazy, but it’s great...” and use them for everything I do,” said Jones. “The backup’s there, the kit’s good, it all works. Phil Jones, FOH Engineer 50
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Lighting Designer Sam O’Riordan on his MA Lighting grand MA2.
They’re great, we really get looked after.” Particular praise goes to System Monitor Engineer, Dave Bennett. According to Jones, the console is a firm Tech Johnny Kierle, PA and Monitor Tech, Shaun Ayles, and third man favourite: “I love it, and the band loves it - in particular Mike, the lead singer, James Collie. “Shaun has really been the star of the show as far as the Brit is a big fan of Midas stuff. He doesn’t want to hear anything else.” Jones Row crew goes - he started with us in April and knows the gig inside out continued, “We’re big advocates of Midas here. I have no problems and we and Johnny Keirle has come in as a new systems guy recently and really get excellent back up. In fact, I had an issue the other day, sent them an saved the day, he’s been brilliant.” email and I got a call from support in less than five minutes. They’re good Up at FOH, Jones uses a Midas PRO X people.” and an extensive array of outboard. This An additional 2 L-Acoustics KS28’s and 3 includes Midas XL 42 dual channel pre-amp ARCS IIs are used for fill at stage right for singer Mike and BSS DPR 901 Dynamic EQ for both vocal Kerr, and drummer Ben Thatcher uses a Porter and channels; a Neve 33609 on left-right; an old Davies buttkicker. Shure PSM1000’s and Cosmic dbx 162; a newer dbx 160SL on some of the Ears CE6P moulds are used for in-ears and, despite guitars; and an Avalon 747 for the backing the band being boxed in by video and light, RF vocalists who join the band on stage for a has proved problem free. “The PSM1000’s are the handful of songs. Effects come courtesy of Rolls Royce of in-ears, I guess,” noted Jones. “We a TC Electronics D2 and two Reverb 4000’s, were using the 900’s, then we stepped it up and a Bricasti M7 reverb and an Eventide H3000. everyone’s really happy with it.” “I don’t go in for Waves or UAD plugins; I A diverse pool of mic brands includes Shure “From Phil Jones through to don’t really want computers involved,” SM58’s for main vocals, Audio-Technica AT4050 and explained Jones. “I own quite a lot of this AT4047 on drum overheads and guitar backline, Paddy Hocken over the summer stuff and I think it sounds better - and its plus a selection of kit from DPA, Neumann and and now Ian Calder and Steve tactile, which for me is really important. At Beyerdynamic. this size of venue, I have the real estate for Chapman, it’s been great a double 24U rack, so it all goes in really FILLING UP & MOVING ON working with them all...” quickly.” While many tours may boast a tight-knit family feel, A second Midas PRO 2 is used by for the Royal Blood team this line rings especially Matt Jackson, Fly By Nite 52
true. With a core of firm friends at its heart (many of whom have had front row seats for the band’s meteoric rise), a cohesive can-do spirit seems to be spread thick throughout the crew, helped along by satisfied stomachs and deft driving. Transport, provided by Phoenix Bussing, comprised a crew and a band bus for the European leg, with an extra crew bus added for the UK run. “We’ve been out with Royal Blood for the last couple of years, so we have a pretty good relationship with them,” explained Phoenix’s Paul Hattin. Having worked with tour manager Steve Chapman since his Arctic Monkeys days, and with production manager Ian ‘Chip’ Calder since the early ‘80s, Hattin was quietly confident that this outing would be plain sailing. “There are never any problems working with Steve and Chip; everything goes very smoothly, everything gets sorted very quickly. It’s one of those tours where you sort out everything beforehand, the busses leave and you don’t hear anything until the busses come back, so it’s really nice to work with them.” Fly By Nite’s Matt Jackson is himself a fan of the band. He first got in touch with Phil Jones and the team back when Royal Blood were just starting out. From their first single-truck tour together, the Fly By Nite contingent has steadily grown with the band’s success. Most recently, the three trucks that went out on the European leg of this current tour have been augmented by a further four back in the UK (including half a truck of merchandise), with an eighth sent over to pre-rig the Dublin show to accommodate an overnight from Nottingham. “They’re a great team,” commented Jackson. “From Phil Jones through to Paddy Hocken over the summer and now Ian Calder and Steve Chapman,
it’s been great working with them all.” In particular, Jackson has been impressed by how well the entire crew look out for each other - such as when caterers Popcorn made a cake to celebrate Lead Driver Simon Lea’s birthday. “It’s nice when they do little touches like that,” he said. “It goes a long way to making people feel valued as part of the team.” Above all there seems to be a solid sense of pride in being part of the Royal Blood success story - and in particular this latest chapter of arena dates and the next-level status they symbolise. Judging by the lost-forwords grins on stage, the significance is clearly not lost on the band, or indeed on the backstage crew that make it happen each night. As O’Riordan neatly summed it up: “I’ve worked with these guys since some of their first shows in some tiny clubs in Brighton, so to watch them 4 years later playing the biggest arenas in the country is just phenomenal.” TPi Photos: Shirlaine Forrest www.royalbloodband.com www.timroutledge.co.uk www.affectivedesign.co.uk www.negearth.com www.er-productions.com www.britanniarow.com www.video-design.co.uk www.popcorncatering.com www.flybynite.co.uk www.phoenix-bussing.co.uk
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Arguably one of Britian’s most successful acid jazz and funk dance bands, Jamiroquai, fronted by Jay Kay - the all singing, all dancing king of the stage hat - undertook their first headline tour in 3 years with Automaton. TPi’s Kel Murray checked out the post-apocalyptic world that taps into a retro future...
It would be an understatement to say Jamiroquai are a very visual band. Ever since their velvet suit-clad frontman - never shy of a giant hat and retina stimulating colour combo - became a mainstay for the electronic scene, hits such as Space Cowboy, Cosmic Girl and Virtual Insanity have rarely been off the radio. Some 25 years after their formation, the band, despite various line up changes, are still going strong. Arena-packing strong. The tour - named after their 8th studio album Automaton - is the band’s first album in 7 years (following Rock Dust Light Star). With a world of ideas and an international tour to plan it for, Jay Kay and Lighting Designer Vince Foster set about creating an audiovisual masterpiece...
video wall. Not so much imposing as it is clevery integrated, as if to look like a set structure. Foster continued: “In video, I find that the most effective colour is black. It’s like percussion - it’s not what you put in, but what you leave out that makes the effect good. We have a lot of mechanical looking things in this show, with lots of black in the background, so it all becomes a part of the look. We try and turn it into the set itself, as opposed to being an ‘obvious’ video screen. “On the lighting fixture side, I like lights that have got pixels in them; they really lend themselves to this show. This post-apocalyptic idea of things breaking - such as computer viruses being able to break powerful machines - that’s the intensity we’re aiming for. My fixtures lend themselves to that sort of broken up, pixelated lighting. The Claypaky B-EYEs and the Ayrton MagicPanel-Rs I’m using have got lots of pixels in them - I think it makes it more interesting to play with and look at.” To build his dystopian, computer graveyard, Foster asked lighting supplier Christie Lites for a package comprising 14 Martin by Harman MAC Axiom Hybrid fixtures, 8 Martin MAC AirFXs, 96 Elation Professional ACL Bar 360’s, 40 GLP JDC1 Strobes, 16 Ayrton MagicPanel-R’s, 32 Claypaky A.Leda B-EYE K-20’s, 12 4-Lite linear molefays, and 100 Martin by Harman VDO 10 Sceptrons. For further effect, 2 Martin ZR44 fog machines and 2 Unique Haze machines were added to the rig.
SHOW DESIGN Foster has been working with Jay Kay for the past 20 years, ever since they’ve need a production team. He spoke to TPi about the Automaton backstory: “Jay wanted a ‘retro future, cyber punk’ feel to this tour. He likes to think of it looking how you might have perceived the future back in the ‘80s. He showed me a lot of videos for inspiration. We basically wanted to create a dystopian 1984, as if a very negative future awaited... But, then the idea is that there is a positive future as well in some circumstances, and the songs can reflect that, so the looks move back and forth thoughout.” Upon inspection, the most dominating part of the design is a huge back 56
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The show design looks vast; layers upon layers of other-worldly shapes. To watch Automaton is to be abducted by spaceship and get off wearing a far better hat than you started with. Foster continued: “A design is never finished! If I’m out on the road, which I am for this particular tour, it develops, continually. You always chip away - it’s very easy to get focussed on 90% of the show, but it’s very difficult to get the last 10% of it how I would like, that’s the real polishing. The only way you can really get that is to put in front of an audience. With this tour, we haven’t ever really done a full run-through. Jay Kay’s not that sort of artist; it’s quite often done onthe-fly. Of course the show is completely finished, and programmed, but it will change - either the setlist will move order or he’ll add new songs in, so it’s a constant tweaking process.” For control, Foster’s using a High End Systems Whole Hog console, again from Christie Lites. The company also supplied a pre-rigged F-type, E-type, A-type and B-type trusses and 1-tonne TR Double Brake Mk2 hoists. Christie’s Roy Hunt stated: “It was great to work with Vince again, as soon as I saw the final plot come in, I knew this was going to be a fantastic-looking show; it stood out on the page. The guys we have out there delivering this have been outstanding - it’s has been an absolute pleasure working with Charlie [Charlton, Production Manager] and the whole team.” VIDEO To learn more about the concepts, design and delivery of the mighty video aspects, TPi spoke to some of the department: Transition Video’s
Rhodri Shaw, (screen supplier); Video Director, Rob Currie; Video Editor and Content Creator Andy Taplin, and Nick Clark-Lowes from NCL Editor - Video Content Creator for the LED screens. Currie began: “The band have run video on the tours in the past, but never with this kind of content before. Jay Kay is very keen on this postapocalyptic environment and went with the idea of making the video content look like it’s actually part of the stage.” Clark-Lowes added: “He loves retro vibes, so this is like looking into the future, but from a vintage perspective... if that makes sense?” he queried. Which it does, if you imagine the spaceage TV programmes of your youth. “One of the big things on this tour was that we didn’t have a lot of time for pre-production; we had a couple of days at Millennium Studios but we couldn’t fit the whole rig in. The video design is effectively 90% a feathered edge, so you don’t get a ‘hard edge’ look on screen thus allowing it to blend in. We’ve got ladders with the B-EYE’s and strobes mounted on too, which gives a real depth to the stage design - it somehow makes it feel quite eerie… And almost holographic.” The video design, which is an amalgamation between the video and lighting departments, begins with Foster’s colour palette. Clark-Lowes elaborated: “We work closely with Vince and bounce back and forth with him. It works really well because there is a understanding between “We basically wanted to create us on how light effect video, and video effect a dystopian 1984, as if a very lights; sometimes Vince comes up with an idea and we follow suit, and vice versa.” negative future awaited...” Currie joined the conversation: “All of the Vince Foster, LD live feed is pretty much framed within video 58
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content. And even the content is an amalgamation. Effectively, we’ve immediately suggest something like: ‘it would be really cool here, is if we did created video content with Alpha (with transparency in) and then Rob puts this..’ and we can amend it straight away. It’s a very reactive way of working camera pictures into it. There’s never just a clear camera picture or straight because we’re all on site together - there’s no outside company.” up video content but always a mixture of the The LED, supplied by Transition Video, is 2. We try to make it so that some of it is video an upstage screen measuring in at 14.4m x content and some of it is live - it really makes 4.8m, and is made up of ROE MC-7H 7mm tiles. it feel more controlled. Think old school NASA Beneath the upstage screen there are 5 LED monitors… that’s the sort of route we’re trying pods, the outer 2 pods are 3m x 1.8m and the to go down; making it feel very spacey and central pod is 2.4m x 1.8m, again using the same futuristic, but old-school at the same time.” 7mm. On either side of the upstage screen there To power the intricate video output, Currie are 2 portrait IMAG screens, 3m wide x 4.8m is utilising VYV’s Photon media servers. “This is high. actually the first tour to use Photon from VYV’s The cameras are 4 Ikegami HDK 79 EX III new UK office. [Previously the machines were Broadcast HD Camera Channels, 2 of which are shipped in from the Montreal HQ]. We’re using on Canon XJ95 Box Lenses at FOH, and a further Photon for 2 things: the effects engine and the 2 Canon HJ11’s are in the pit on Transition’s VR element” he noted. IDS track and dolly system. There are also 4 “We’re making it feel very spacey Clark-Lowes added: “I think it really helps Panasonic AW-UE70 4K Hot-Head cameras if you think of lighting and video as 1. There’s positioned around the band on stage, for the and futuristic, but old-school at no split between our departments, really. For key moments in the live cuts. the same time...” example, Andy and I are sat next to Vince at The PPU is based around a Blackmagic ATEM FOH, and we’re all working inline. So, Vince can 2M/E 4k Switcher with Blackmagic 1M/E panel. Rob Currie, Video Director 60
With all good wishes for Christmas and the New Year from all at
11 Frankfurt/Main Germany 10.-13.4.2018
4 MADE IN GERMANY
The video department; FOH Engineer, Rick Pope; Monitor Engineer, Tristan Farrow.
Content playback and the effects engine is powered by the Photon media servers which layer effects over the camera feeds in real time, as well as playing back the content to the LED. Also worth noting is Jay Kay’s hat, as you’ll see on the photos, which is quite a statement piece and, interestingly, also part of the set. “Jay’s been wearing his promotional, motorised LED hat - which he controls with his gloves - for all of his promotional appearances and throughout festivals, so we wanted to incorporate it into the show, significantly,” continued Clark-Lowes. “Andy made the hat in the shape of the camera pictures. We’re using animated content with animated Alpha channels to reveal both the hat pictures and the camera pictures,” he concluded. The tour’s Video Crew Chief is Carl Stage. LASER LIGHT Adding to the futuristic feel, lasers were also incorporated into the show design. Ben Crouch, ER Productions’ Laser Technician, oversaw the laser installation each day, operated the laser show and dealt with the safety inspections at each venue. He told TPi: “Safety is paramount when using lasers for live shows. In the UK especially, we have inspections each every venue to ensure what we’re doing is safe. It’s an external process which is all tested and signed off hours prior to the show starting.” For this design, Crouch is manning lasers which appear in 2 songs: Superfresh and the tour’s namesake, Automaton. He continued: “On the back truss we’ve got 24 of our new Kinekts, each placed on a scaff pole, which is fitting with the industrial look. “We’re using white quite a lot because there’s a lot of different colours already going
on with the lights and visuals, and we’re not trying to compete. We use whites and almost blues, but nothing too dark. On both of these tracks, there are dedicated laser parts; the lights dim, the video goes black and it allows for an emphasis on the lasers. I think having lasers incorporated into a show like this really works because of the futuristic feeling it gives to the audience, that’s when laser technology really comes into play.” Bought on board by Foster, ER Productions was asked to create the laser design that complemented his overall lighting scheme. Having worked with Jamiroquai in the past, Marc Webber, Co-founder of ER Productions, wanted the design to differ from the band’s previous tours. Webber, who project managed the installation, said: “I wanted to create a 3D performance space using lasers, which would appear to come out of nowhere. To create the effect, we installed a row of our new Kinekt lasers along the downstage edge, which we focussed and terminated onto the roof. With this wall of lasers in place, we rigged a row of BB3 lasers at roof level, projecting the beams back onto the down stage edge, which intersected with the Kinekt beams.” ER Productions specified 10 BB3 fixtures and 24 Kinekts, with 4 Viper deLuxe smoke machines and 2 Unique hazers providing the all important atmospheric effects. The show was controlled using Pangolin’s Beyond software and a High End Systems Road Hog 4 console from High End. “The SSL 500 is a dream to use; With an impressive, lighting-heavy set, it it has such a fantastic and rich was a challenge for Webber and his team to find space for the lasers. To get around this, Crouch sonic quality.” positioned the lasers on tank traps upstage, Tristan Farrow, which were supported by the company’s Jay Kay’s Monitor Engineer bespoke interlocking wheel boards. 62
Britannia Row’s Josh Thomas, Stage & Monitor Tech; ER Productions’ Ben Crouch; Lighting and Show Designer, Vince Foster.
Webber concluded: “Although we used a relatively simple laser rig, we wanted our design to be versatile enough to deliver a range of different effects and looks throughout the show, which I think has been achieved. As always, it was a great pleasure to work with Jamiroquai and Vince.” FUTURISTIC MONITORING Another bold element the band is known for is their big, live sound. Britannia Row’s Josh Thomas, the tour’s Monitor Tech and Stage Tech rthatan TPi through the scene: “There is a slightly interesting set-up on this tour because we’ve got 2 monitor engineers out with us; mixing on a DiGiCo SD10 for the band is Paul Keeble and we have an SSL 500, which is set up for Jay Kay, and runs the wedges and side fills. That console is operated by Tristan Farrow.” Keeble looks after all the wireless needs of the 10-piece band (all of whom are using UE11 IEMs & the Musical Director also opts for a pair of d&b audiotechnik M2 wedges). Transmitters are Sennheiser 2000 Series. The personal monitoring systems for the band are completed by 2 Shure P9HW’s, and a Shure P6HW. In frontman Jay Kay’s world, Farrow’s rig comprises an Eventide H3000 as outboard gear, side fill (per side) is 3 L-Acoustics KARA, 2 L-Acoustics SB28 subs, and flown side fill (per side) is 3 KARA. For amplification the engineer opts for 5 d&b D80 amplifiers and 4 LA12X’s. Jay Kay’s 10 d&b M4 wedges are run by Farrow’s SSL 500, with 12 channels of Lake Mesa EQ inserted on his mix outputs. Farrow, who has worked with Jay Kay for the past 12 years, began the job as both the frontman & the band’s monitor engineer, as he explained: “In 2011, it was realised that the level of attention required to mix Jay meant that we needed someone entirely dedicated to it. Generally, Jay’s mix is heavier on the band to the sides, and goes to a drier vocal space in the centre of the stage - it’s important that when you look at a musician, the sound appears to be coming from them.” Farrow also noted that he specified the kit to what he believes is the best-sounding equipment available, starting with his love of his desk: “The SSL 500 is a dream to use; it has such a fantastic and rich sonic quality. And the Lake Mesa EQ’s are so accurate at what they do too.” FOH SOUND Over at FOH, Engineer Rick Pope mixes on a Yamaha PM10 with a DBX 120A Subharmonic Synthesiser, and the PM10’s onboard effects. Pope is also the 63
brains behind the L-Acoustics PA spec: a main hang of 14 K1’s and 4 K2’s; side hangs of 16 K2; a rear hang of 12 K2’s and delays comprising 6 boxes of K2. Front fill is 6 ARC II’s and 9 KARA. For subs, 24 L-Acoustics KS28’s were specified, and amplification is via 33 LA12X’s. For Jay Kay’s microphone duties, he uses a Sennhesier 5200 handheld with an ME5005 capsule. Thomas concluded: “The band are great musicians and so the live sound is very true to their records: it’s a clean but punchy sound. It’s electronic and dance music at the end of the day, so there’s a lot of a big moments in there that just get everyone moving!” After 25 years at it, you can’t ask for much more! The audio crew is completed by FOH Tech & Crew Chief, Luke Choen; System Engineer Laurie Fradley and PA Tech, Juan Beilin alongside Backline Techs: Les Forde, Stuart Sawney, Sam Seidel and Simon Difford.
provided a Star Bus for Jay Kay, a band bus and two crew buses. Here’s to the next 20 years on the road with them!” Last but not least, Eat to the Beat told TPi they were “thrilled” to be catering for the Jamiroquai Automaton tour. ETTB’s Leanne Gilson-McGrath stated: “Our amazing team; Pauline Austin, Team Leader; Chefs Heather Spooner and Jake Ireland, and Pippa O’Driscoll who took care of the FOH area & artist dressing rooms, served up delicious dishes such as beer battered tofu. They had a great time working with this band and crew they’re lovely!” The 2017 run of Automaton finishes on 18 December in Sao Paulo, Brazil. TPi Photos: Andrew Benge, TPi www.jamiroquai.com www.lightdesign.uk www.britanniarow.com www.christielites.com www.transitionvideo.com www.visualedge.media www.er-productions.com www.appointmentgroup.com www.phoenix-bussing.co.uk www.stagetruck.com www.allaccessinc.com www.millenniumstudios.co.uk www.globalinfusiongroup.com/gig-eat-to-the-beat
MOVING AND FEEDING THE SPACE COWBOYS Moving the mechanical masterpiece - which included stage risers from All Access Staging & Productions - was Stagetruck, which supplied the tour trucking. For the crew, Phoenix Bussing once again provided some of the tour’s home comforts. Phoenix Account Manager, Paul Hattin, stated: “It’s been Phoenix’s pleasure to have been working with Jamiroquai for over 20 years and as always, it’s great to work with Charlie Charlton [of Interceptor], Tour Manager James Monkman, and the rest of the gang. On this tour we 64
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TURNS 50 The legendary Stockport recording studio rolls back the years with a one-off recreation, including original and borrowed production equipment from a bygone era to celebrate its landmark birthday. TPi’s Jacob Waite retraces history of Strawberry Studios...
Strawberry Studios, now home to the TPi office in Stockport, UK, and one of the few withstanding recording spaces outside of the nation’s capital, recently opened its doors for something of a revival tour, complete with a range of original and borrowed vintage recording equipment that harks back to its humble beginnings half a century ago. Originally named Inter-City Studios and located above a music store in Stockport town centre, the facility was purchased by Peter Tattersall in early 1968. The road manager for Billy J, Kramer and the Dakotas enlisted the aid of friend Eric Stewart [guitarist and singer of pioneering British Invasion band, the Mindbenders, and later a member of 10cc] as a business partner in July 1968. The pragmatic pair moved to 3 Waterloo Road in October 1968, a much larger premises, with Stewart coining the studio’s name in homage to his favourite Beatles song, Strawberry Fields Forever. Songwriter and future-10cc member Graham Gouldman joined the pair as an investor within months, as the studio was utilised habitually by Stewart, Gouldman and 2 additional local musicians, Lol Creme and Kevin Godley, the eventual founders 10cc - a band integral to the North West sound generated by Strawberry Studios. A range of big names, such as Joy Division, [who recorded elements of clunky studio lift on Insight, from the iconic Unknown Pleasures album], John Cooper Clarke, the Smiths, the Stone Roses, Paul McCartney, and Neil Sedeka all recorded within the studio’s wooden-panelled walls. Increasing investment allowed new recording equipment to be installed in 1970, including a deal to be struck with US producers Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz of Super K Productions in December 1969, to book the studios for 3 consecutive months to record bubblegum pop songs. Gouldman and Stewart opened a second recording space, Strawberry Studios South, in a former cinema in Dorking, Surrey, in 1976, following the departure of Godley and Creme. However, increasing commercial exposure meant the studio had been in such great demand that 10cc found it increasingly difficult to record, subsequently selling off their interest in the studio in the 1980s and only returning to record their 9th studio album, 1983’s Windows in the Jungle. Three years later, fellow Stockport-based studio, Yellow Two, took control of the building, ceasing operation as a music studio along with its
southern contingent in 1993. Fastforward 14 years, and the 4-storey building was granted legendary status when a blue plaque was mounted on its exterior by the Borough of Stockport for the Stockport Heritage Trust, in recognition of its local importance. In light of Strawberry Studios’ 50th anniversary earlier this year, the town’s museum opted to showcase the building’s legacy, also tying in with an annual Heritage Open Days weekend in September 2017. Music historian and curator, Dr Peter Wadsworth, called upon CH Vintage Audio, in conjunction with Chris Hewitt’s Museum of Rock, to come to the rescue, launching a crowdfunding appeal to recreate the original Strawberry Studios control room and open it up to the public. The appeal brought much interest and a vast number of donations, including a contribution from former Joy Division and New Order bassist Peter Hook. Additional commercial sponsorship came from Vernon Building Society, Buildbase, Backtrax Music, Grange Products, Paramount Embroidery’s Mick Spratt [original founder of audio specialist, Wigwam Acoustics], and Mondiale Publishing - all of which helped secure the ambitious vision was realised. Hewitt, who spearheaded the crowdfunding appeal, said: “We wanted to let as many music fans as possible see the space where 10cc produced most of their classic tracks and where Martin Hannett produced Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures. Around 1,000 people came during the free admission period in September, with almost 200 more paying customers visiting the studio in October. Some people even came twice. The depth of detail with the recreation blew Pete Tattersall away!” Hewitt suggested placing vintage Strawberry equipment in the oncelauded, leather-clad recording space, now housed as an office space for Mondiale Publishing’s various magazine titles, including TPi. Mondiale Chairman Damian Walsh granted access to a large section of the ground floor of the Waterloo Road building during September for the Heritage open Days. To reconstruct the recording studio, a small band of volunteers arrived at Strawberry Studios on 2 September 2017, faced with a large open-plan floor area complete with the iconic original window situated between the control room and studio area. 66
Opposite: CH Vintage Audio and contributors recreate the 1970s Strawberry Studios recording space for a Heritage Open Day. Below: The reconstructed recording space; CH Vintage Audio’s Barry Atherton secures the roof; Strawberry Studios blue plaque awarded by the Stockport Heritage Trust.
The team constructed a wooden frame to house the recreation of the control room, based on photos and the memories of former employees of the studio. Upon constructing the frame, wooden boards covered with appropriate wallpaper were placed on the walls and ceiling, with spotlights added at various points to give a subdued lighting effect. Wood panelling was placed around the window, and a white shelf unit in the corner of the room completed the construction work - all that remained was to fill the room with equipment and to box off a small area of the studio space that would allow people to look through the famous window. Vintage audio collectors, Hewitt, Richard Scott and Ian Prior’s collection of original Strawberry equipment completed the building process, with Hewitt supplying one of Iron Maiden’s heritage mixing desks as a stand-in for the untraceable original. “The original Strawberry Studios had such lavish décor, with red chairs in the control room, reception, and stonewalls in the control room. Most of the equipment and technology had not been seen outside of London. The lighting also tended to be quite dim and I clearly remember Eric Stewart engineering in deep black lens sunglasses, which made me think he probably couldn’t see any controls,” Hewitt explained. Bordering the control room were items borrowed from the Chris Hewitt Museum of Rock, such as: Fleetwood Mac’s first WEM PA System and 2 WEM Audiomaster mixers; Pink Floyd’s WEM Audiomaster live mixers; Curved Air’s WEM PA system; Led Zeppelin’s WEM PA columns; 2 Iron Maiden Soundcraft desks; a WEM mixer used by the Eurythmics rehearsal room;
George Harrison’s Vox amp and cab; John Lennon’s DBX rack unit; and Roger Waters’ Alembic Pre Amp. There was also an AMS delay unit, a pair of small monitors, a reverb tower and a BGW power amp, all of which were used by Pink Floyd. An additional PA system was on display, as well as various bin and horn systems from the US, supplied by Martin Audio. The host of original equipment granted attendees an historical experience. By the afternoon of Friday 8 September 2017, the process was complete, and later launched that evening by visiting Mayor of Stockport, Councillor Linda Holt. Mondiale Publishing credits Barry Atherton, Brandon Spivey, Chris Hewitt, CJ, Tom Hewitt, Richard Turner, Ian Prior, and Peter Wadsworth, who assisted with the design, construction and distribution of equipment. “CH Vintage Audio can recreate pretty much any historic musical archaeology given a photo of the original building, equipment and some time to research it,” Hewitt concluded. The Strawberry Studios: I Am In Love exhibition opened on 27 January 2017 and will run until 29 January 2018. Entry to the exhibition is free. Later this year, Hewitt and CH Vintage Audio will recreate an early ‘70s WEM sound system for a Queen performance in an old London Town Hall, which will be dressed as an art collage. TPi Photos: CH Vintage Audio www.strawberry50.com www.chvintageaudio.com
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Bath Spa graduate and Montreux Jazz Festival crewmember Sally Wattiaux, offers advice to those following in her footsteps... What first sparked your interest in the live events? Having always had an interest in how things worked, I wanted to discover how productions were put together to achieve the final result. I was lucky to find a theatre school in Switzerland, where I was based at the time, that needed technical helpers. It was there where I learned about lighting, sound and stage management. Being bilingual in both English and French meant I was incredibly useful as a technician working in Switzerland, with an English crew. I became essential for keeping a good and open line of communication. What real world skills did your Theatre Production course at Bath Spa teach you? From the course, I was able to work in a variety of departments, allowing me to understand the potential problems each faction of production can face. I was also able to work in a wide variety of venues with current theatre practitioners, widening my communication skills and capabilities. You did a lot of freelance work while studying. How difficult was it to balance to two? There were many times when I had to prioritise an area to focus on. Although I was able to take on most freelancing, it did take a toll on my social life, as I had to spend a lot of my free time doing coursework. The most difficult period was during the final term of my second year, when I was a touring technician for a company called Vamos. I was in a different venue every day for 3 months, giving me next to no time to do any course-related work. After that experience, I regained my balance and caught up on the workload for my final year. However, the experience taught me how to troubleshoot when having to take on bigger roles such as Lighting Designer at my university. How did you first get involved with Montreux Jazz Festival? I contacted the festival directly, sending them my CV and I explained that although I may not be as experienced as other viable applicants, I could speak French and English, and would be happy to help any technical department. It just so happened to contact them during an opening. For my first year, I spent a lot of time observing others during my free time. Since, then I’ve still work on the same stage but have fit into the team and mostly help out with the backline and setting up the artists on stage during the soundchecks and changeovers. What is the biggest lesson you have learned from the industry? There is always more to learn! A lot can be learned through talking to people and paying attention to their work styles. Especially when communicating properly and concisely either to another department, or during an emergency. Working in a team as a new member means I have had to keep adapting my way of operating to suit the environment, which is where I have then been able to get the most out of the project. What advice would you give to and aspiring techs wanting to get into the industry? Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I’ve found that it’s a great way to learn and most people enjoy sharing their knowledge. Also remember: word travels fast, so always be aware of who’s around and what is being said. Flexibility will also help as people will then keep you in mind for other projects. Now you’ve graduated, what is next for you? I’m now able to fully focus on my freelance work! My summers usually consist of festival work, going from one to the next starting with Glastonbury. Otherwise, I have been involved with tours as production electrician, power distribution for major corporate events with Fulcrum and more unusual projects such as putting on a production in a prison! I hope to do more touring and other jobs that allow me to keep expanding my skills. TPi www.productionfutures.co.uk 68
SEASON'S GREETINGS FROM
Seasonâ€™s greetings to all our colleagues, clients, crew, friends and family from around the world. 2017 has been a smashing year for the UAC, and we couldnâ€™t have done it without you all. We sincerely thank you for your support, and look forward to working with you all again in 2018.
www.uac.global UAC or United Audio Companies is a joint venture between British sound rental company, SSE Audio Group and California based rental company, Sound Image. We can now offer our touring clients improved international support on both sides of the Atlantic.
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NEXO LAUNCHES THE NXAMP MKII Following the BPM I PRO launch of NEXO’s latest offering, the NXAMP MK II, TPi spoke to R&D Director Joseph Carcopino about the key features of this new product.
Available in 4 X 1300W and 4 X 2500W versions, the NXAMP MK II combines advanced signal processing with 4 state of the art Class D amplifiers to create new flexible, light-weight powering and control solutions for NEXO loudspeaker systems. Both models are a result of the close collaboration between the R&D departments of NEXO and its parent company Yamaha. Ideal for use in the fixed installation and touring sectors alike, these powered controllers are easy to set up and quick to deploy. They feature a universal power supply (100 - 240V) using PFC (Power Factor Correction) technology for maximum efficiency and smooth current draw. The MK II’s essential parameters are readily accessible via a large colour touch-screen on the front panel, which provide a comprehensive range of control, and
networking facilities on the rear panel. Most importantly, the NXAMP MK II models achieve a whole new level of sound quality, partnering with NEXO loudspeakers to deliver a superior audience experience. TPi spoke to R&D Director, Joseph Carcopino, about the initial brief for this latest offering for the live events industry: “The first generation of NXAMP was introduced over 10 years ago. Although still capable of competing with the best professional amplifiers on the market in terms of power and processing, we needed an update in terms of power supply, power amplifier, remote control and user interface.” He continued: “Creating a new generation of a very successful products is always a challenge, but our passionate team, forged out of engineers from 2 companies, accepted this challenge, merging their know-how, 70
We donâ€™t like to limit the creative minds of our industry. We believe in solutions. The BGR70 truss is our solution for those who like to dream big. Like Arena Events for Neversea. The essence? A low volume truss with extreme load bearing capacity. Find out more on www.prolyte.com/bgr70
NEXO NXAMP MKII
Opposite and below: NEXO’s latest NXAMP MK II; NEXO’s R&D Director, Joseph Carcopino.
and technical sensitivity to deliver the NXAMP MK II. When coupled with and daisy-chained via a remote control card fitted as standard, with our acclaimed NeMo software, these amplifiers represent one of the top optional Dante, EtherSound and AES / EBU network cards also available. powering and processing solutions worldwide.” Four high-end analogue inputs use cascaded converters for low output One of the main focus areas for the R&D team was sound quality and noise. Four digital inputs are also available through the rear panel ease of use. In line with this, the engineers developed a large LCD colour expansion card slot offering optional AES / EBU, EtherSound, Dante or touch-screen on the front panel of the system, enabling fast and simple AES67 inputs, all with automatic analogue fall- back. navigation for essential parameters. These In addition to the expansion card slot, other include; array EQ, mute and metres, EQ detail, rear panel connectivity includes RS232 serial user EQ, inputs, load monitoring, log, scene, and GPIO ports along with Speakon outputs setup, system headroom, volume, gain and for each of the 4 channels. With the product delays. now shipping, Carcopino predicted that both He continued: “In my opinion, the user existing and new customers for the NEXO brand interface is one of the most efficient and easy to will be pleased with this latest creation. “I think use on the market. our long-standing clients are going to enjoy “A new generation of product is “One of the strengths of the first generation the improvement in the sound quality and the always a challenge, especially NXAMP was that all parameters could be set up ease of setup, while new customers will love the from the front panel interface. We kept this ‘one phase for all’ approach of NEXO, meaning when the original has been idea during the development of MK II because that no special setup is needed to match any successful! But our team of we have a diverse range of users. It’s not only NEXO speaker except the delay, in order to big companies using remote control with large compensate for the physical distance between passionate engineers accepted quantities of amps, it’s also small installations boxes.” this challenge, merging their and tours that use the front panel, especially The R&D Director concluded by commenting through the touch screen - it’s more convenient on the initial feedback received from the launch knowhow, culture, sensitivity, and than having to deploy a computer or tablet.” at BPM|PRO: “The look of both the hardware finally delivering this NXAMP MK He added: “We also maintained some of the and the user interface have been complimented last generation’s components to allow users to a lot by those who have seen the MK II. We have II that, when coupled with our jump from the 48 KHz, 24-bit resolution to a top also received praise for its the sound quality acclaimed NeMo software, offers level 96 KHz, 32-bit processing.” with many end users commenting on the On the amplifier, a native dual Ethernet systems’ more ‘transparent’ sound compared to one of the top powering and port offers seamless integration with NEXO’s the previous product generation.” processing solution worldwide.” proprietary NeMo system management TPi software. Amplifiers can be remote-controlled www.nexo-sa.com R&D Director, Joseph Carcopino 72
PSA: THE BIGGER PICTURE
HEALTH, NOT SAFETY The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) entertainment division is tiny compared to the likes of agriculture and construction. Government cuts have taken their toll across the whole organisation, industries are being encouraged to ‘take ownership’ of guidance (do it yourselves, we don’t have the resources or budget). The backdrop to all this is encouraging though; we’ve seen declines in workplace deaths and injuries. Essentially, the UK got good at safety. It has been rather apparent, during my time at the PSA, that the relative sizes of HSE divisions has a direct correlation with the amount of people that a particular industry damages at work... in the UK, of course. So we’re safer, but are we healthier?
Each year, the HSE publishes statistics, figures for illness and injury. Using information from the Labour Force Survey, RIDDOR reporting, HSE cost model, death certificates and HSE enforcement data, were released at the beginning of November, they read thus:
to a sole trader, illness and injury simply means working through the pain barrier or no income. The monetary cost runs into tens of billions.
Occupational ill health costs businesses money, in 2015/16 there were 30.4 million working days lost due to work-related illness and non-fatal workplace injuries. That cost can be felt directly in our industry where,
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The figures for both injuries and ill health have been on a plateau in recent years, after years of decline; we got better and we stayed fairly good. Of course, none would be preferable and how we get there might need some new approaches. That said, bearing in mind that most deaths injuries are caused by falls from height or being hit by vehicles, our sector’s comparative low rates are no reason to drop our guard - vehicular movements and work at height are commonplace. At a recent meeting of the HSE’s Joint Advisory Committee for Entertainment (JACE), the HSE work plan for the coming year was discussed. It seems that there’s going to be a focus on the health bit, especially as we seem to have the safety bit worked out. We’re big advocates of people going home from work in the same physiological shape as when they arrived, we’re also keen to see that people end their working lives in reasonable shape with faculties intact. For that to be achieved, we really need to keep our focus on the cumulative as well as the instant. Dropping a large, powered speaker cabinet on your foot is going to hurt straight away; lifting it, pushing it up a steep ramp or standing close to it while it’s in use might not show instant signs of damage but may cause cumulative wear and tear that is harder to fix when it manifests itself further down the line. It seems like a lifetime ago that the entertainment industry worked with the HSE to produce Sound Advice, the web and print, entertainmentspecific guide to managing exposure to noise at work. It’s heartening to see chat on social media groups revolving around the best place to get in ear moulds for effective protection, the message about noise induced hearing loss and preventing it seems to have penetrated but there’s no harm in a reminder - hearing is still a case of ‘once it’s gone, it’s gone.’ Then there’s all that lifting and shifting - tail lifts, ramps, chain hoists, dollies, flight-case wheels, EZ-Tilt (cheers Chris); a list rattled out off the top of my head, all devices that take away the stresses and strains of manual handling. Of course, kit needs a human hand every now and then, but there are ways and means, there should be labels and warnings. Gone are the times when we should attribute a chronic joint condition to a particular process at work, we’re too clever for that, us humans. It has to be said though, that on-site improvisation is often seen as a bad thing, planned work is generally safer work. In any case, both noise and manual handling are covered by regulations that offer a constructive, enabling framework around which safe workplaces can be designed. It is often uttered that bugging someone to wear a hard hat when they’ve only averaged 4 hours of sleep in the past fortnight is a bit of a waste of time; can’t actually argue with that. The issue of fatigue and
its correlation with accidents in the workplace, we’ve written about it, researched it and discussed it; some people have actually tried to do something about it but the expectation, the culture, the perceived need for people to work superhuman hours to prevent the live events business from collapse is, perhaps, the least recognised cause of cumulative injury or illness. Weight gain, suppressed immunity (tour flu?), increased risk of diabetes and heart disease, reduced sex drive, fertility issues and yes, mental illness can all be triggered or exacerbated by lack of sleep. Sleep loss and fatigue are at the heart of our need to improve our industry’s approach to mental wellbeing. Not sleeping improves absolutely nothing. It doesn’t make being away from home any better, it doesn’t make workplaces any safer, it doesn’t even make you get paid more per day, there are absolutely no advantages to having a workforce on the verge of collapse. The music side of the events business seems to be embracing mental wellbeing, with the conversation started in all quarters, research initiated by Help Musicians UK and the call to arms heard from us, management, musicians...everyone. The research published by Help Musicians UK in association with Music Tank and carried out by the University of Westminster paints a fairly grim but not entirely unexpected picture of the state of mental health amongst people working in and around the music industry. Nothing shocking in there to see that antisocial, long hours, lack of recognition, irregular working patterns, money worries....we perhaps don’t need to list the causes but have no doubt that this is one of the cumulative injury, health related issues that the HSE are talking about. ‘No shit, Sherlock’ are words that have crossed your mind by this point. Ours too. It seems that, with the publication of the Help Musicians UK report and its subsequent proposed actions of more education (Mental Health First Aid Training...you heard it here first!), a code of best practice and a mental health support service, ownership of the issue has been taken, just like the slimmer HSE are asking. We’ll be continuing our campaign, hand in hand with our friends at PLASA and supported in part by Stagehand, the PSA’s Welfare and Benevolent Fund. The conversation continues at PLASA Focus Glasgow, we’ll be dedicating quality time to the issue at the Daytime TPi sessions on 26 February too, gathering together expertise as well as companies that have taken the pledge to improve their approach to mental health, showcasing the vast array of resources available to make the task easy. We hope you’ll join us. TPi www.psa.org.uk 76
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Above: Allen & Heath’s Rob Clark; Global Design Solution’s Harry Pain; 11th Hour’s Gareth Clark.
Allen & Heath has announced the appointment of R&D Director, Rob Clark to the role of Managing Director, following the decision by longstanding company figurehead, Glenn Rogers, to hand the reins to the next generation. Clark joined Allen & Heath as a digital R&D engineer in 1993 and has played a key role in the development of the company’s digital mixers, subsequently becoming R&D Director in 2008. While Rogers remains a Director of the Audiotonix group, focusing on identifying market opportunities and helping to specify new products. Clark commented: “It’s an honour to take on this new challenge. Glenn has been a trusted friend and mentor for more than 20 years, and I know we can rely on his wise counsel in the future. It’s a fantastic time to move into this role; the product range has never been stronger, we’re blessed with an amazingly talented team, and we have the collective expertise of the Audiotonix group to draw upon. Together we will continue to grow the business with the passion and innovation that Glenn has always personified.” Rogers added: “Rob has a wealth of experience and the best team in the business behind him, so I know that Allen & Heath will continue to go from strength to strength under his leadership. I am excited to take up new challenges for the Audiotonix group and look forward to exploring the new ideas and technologies that will shape the next generation of mixers.” Global Design Solutions has appointed Harry Pain to the post of Sales and Marketing Assistant, supporting its growing team. Pain joins the company after 3 years experience in administration, office support, research, and content creation for Penny Brohn UK, a major cancer support organisation. GDS Managing Director Matt Lloyd welcomed the new appointment: “Harry possesses exactly the drive and energy that is required within the GDS team. These are very exciting times for us, we are growing and our
products, new and established, are having a global impact that is driving demand at an ever-increasing rate. “Our team has to be flexible, responsive and adaptable and Harry’s previous experience stands him in good stead for what will be a busy, nonstop role where no 2 days are ever the same! Harry is a tireless operator and I’m sure he will prove a great success at GDS.” Pain added: “I’m very excited to be joining GDS. There is an incredible buzz around the place and it was pretty quickly apparent that everyone on the team is passionate about the company’s work. My previous job required me to learn quickly and develop new skills, something I really embraced and enjoyed. “I know that my new role will push me even harder - to become involved in a market-leading, cutting edge technology company is a fantastic opportunity and I’m relishing the challenge.” WorldStage continues to expand its presence in Nashville with the addition of Steve Austin and Jason Mullaney. “Nashville has become an increasingly important market in our industry,” noted Michael May, WorldStage Vice President, Account Management. “Since the city built The Music City Center (Nashville’s new convention centre) 4 years ago, we’ve seen a substantial increase in corporate event business coming to town. Nashville is also an ideal support location for the growth our firm is experiencing with new clients and events located in the southeast. Add to that the growth of the local creative community and it’s become clear that Nashville is an ideal location for expanding our national sales and technical staff.” Austin, Senior Account Manager, has 28 years of account and production management experience to WorldStage, recently as the Technical Director and Stage Manager at DWP Live and Technical Director at Anode, both in Nashville. 78
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Below: WorldStage’s updated team in Nashville.
With an exceptional reputation for customer service combined with strong technical expertise, Austin will be focussed on supporting current WorldStage clients to elevate their events and ensure the highest levels of client satisfaction and retention. Mullaney, Account Director, has more than 18 years’ experience in account management, personnel management and business development. Mullaney held a number of management posts in Arizona before founding Amplify Audio Visual, LLC, a highly respected AV company specialising in live streaming and content capture for all size events and audiences. Mullaney will focus on WorldStage’s expansion into targeted accounts and new markets nationally. “With Steve and Jason coming on board and business expanding rapidly, we’re thrilled to finally be expanding our Nashville footprint in 2018,” concluded May. “Our vision is to build out a space that will allow us to easily extend our services into the Southeast as well as assist local clientele in generating solutions by hosting tech showcases on a regular basis.” Cardiff-based event service provider 11th Hour has appointed electrician of 20 years, Gareth Clark, to its team. The veteran electrician has extensive experience across the commercial electrical sector on landmark projects such as the O2 Arena, The Reuters Building and a number of other London locations, notably working as a
supervisor for Honeywell during the construction of the new Wembley Stadium, where he had responsibility for turnstiles and escalators as well as installing PAVA and fire alarm provision. Clark commented: “First and foremost I’m an experienced electrician but I’ve also been heavily involved in the live events field. I’ve been a working musician for many years and this has led to more than a passing acquaintance with live sound engineering, stage lighting as well as video and projection mapping. “I work in a voluntary capacity at a number of music festivals, including for example, Green Man in Usk, where I manage the Solar Stage, so I’m familiar with the pressure that live events can bring. It’s fair to say that responding to the variety of challenges faced by 11th Hour is something I’m relishing!” Andy Hopkins, Director at 11th Hour added: “It’s important to us that every member of the 11th Hour team is not only highly skilled in their specific area of expertise but has the widest possible understanding of the events industry. Our work demands flexibility and the capacity to be proactive when faced with problems that need quick solutions. Gareth’s background, like that of our other recent recruits, illustrates precisely those qualities. “The know-how he will have assimilated as a musician, stage manager
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Below: Chauvet’s Hanslee Lim; DPA Microphones’ Nikolaj Forsberg.
and sound engineer will inform his principal role, as well as his ability to deal with unseen challenges. We’re delighted to have secured the services of such an excellent professional.” In another sign of Chauvet Professional’s commitment to expanding its global reach, the company has announced that well-known industry figure Hanslee Lim will be spearheading its sales efforts in Asia. Lim joins the Chauvet team after previously directing Asian market sales for Robe and SGM. “We are extremely happy to have someone with Hanslee’s impressive track record and commitment to excellence on our team,” said Stéphane Gressier, International Sales Director of Chauvet. “Hanslee has an extraordinary depth of knowledge about lighting in general and more specifically about lighting in the Asian market. Most importantly, though, he has a well-deserved reputation for understanding the needs of customers and putting them first. This makes him very compatible with the Chauvet way of doing business.” In his new role, Lim will be responsible for directing sales throughout the Asian market for all Chauvet brands including: Chauvet Professional, Chauvet DJ, Iluminarc architectural lighting and Trusst trussing, reporting directly to Gressier. “About 5 years ago, a very prominent lighting veteran told me to watch Chauvet as it was on the move, and today, here I am with the company. For me, this is an exciting opportunity,” explained Lim. He added: “Chauvet’s stature has been growing rapidly in Asia and across the globe. Customers know the company as an innovator with a strong commitment to delivering value. I look forward to building on this reputation and growing a powerful sales network throughout Asia for all
Chauvet brands.” DPA Microphones, a leading manufacturer of high-quality microphone solutions for professional audio applications, has announced the appointment of Nikolaj Forsberg to the position of EVP of Sales. This key position will see Forsberg based at DPA’s headquarters in Denmark where he will be responsible for overseeing global sales activity and helping to develop new prospects for DPA’s extensive product portfolio, which covers pro audio, live sound, theatre, broadcast, house of worship and installation markets. Prior to joining DPA, Forsberg was Global Head of Sales (Special Cargo) for the Maersk Line where he was responsible for sales revenue of more than $500 million. Kalle Hvidt Nielsen, CEO of DPA Microphones, said: “Nikolaj already has a good knowledge of DPA’s core business and we believe he has the right leadership skills to develop and motivate our fantastic sales team. We are sure that Nikolaj will be an asset to DPA as we continue to grow our business around the world.” Forsberg added: “I am honored to join DPA with its world-class microphone solutions. I find it exciting to join a global company with long history of success and take it to the next level. There is such passion and pride in the company – and so many committed and enthusiastic colleagues – that I am sure we already have a great basis for ongoing success. I look forward to engaging with our customers and partners, so that we can take DPA confidently into the future.” TPi www.tpimagazine.com/category/industry-jobs/
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shows. The thrill of broadcasting to 2 million people across Europe has now been replaced by the thrill of running live video in front of large crowds around the world, and I don’t think I will ever get bored of it!
What’s your mission with Jolt Media? Jolt has been going for a few years now. I joined just over 2 years ago as Head of Video in the company. As I still had regular clients with AV3, I brought it all with me, and I am continuing to build the brand now through Jolt. Our mission is to do bigger and better, with more touring and more large-scale building projections. Our customer base stretches far and wide; somedays we are touring the world with bands, other days you will find us standing in fields at festivals, projecting or filming.
You’re touring with dance act Orbital soon - what can we expect from that show, visually? 2017 has been a dream come true for me. I have been touring for a number of years, but there is something different when you tour with a band you grew up with and, for me, that is Orbital. I remember watching them in about 2002 in London, and dreaming that maybe one day I could do video for them. I got recommended for the tour, which is always great, and still can’t believe it’s actually happening. The tour really allows us to go visually bonkers on some of our favourite tracks.
How did your career begin? I started VJing in 1996, originally running video screens at a club night in Cornwall. The owner of the club saw the visuals (live visuals weren’t very mainstream then) so he asked if I could VJ on his other nights, and it grew from there. I went to Bradford for university in the same year and was soon mixing VHS tapes together with an old analogue video mixer in Maestro’s, the city’s biggest nightclub. It wasn’t long before I was VJing at festivals all across Europe.
What are your concert / touring / festival goals for 2018? I am looking forward to seeing what Orbital brings for 2018! I want to do Snowbombing festival - I’m (not so) secretly hoping for a gig out there one day.
So you took an educational route and learned on the job? Yes, video sparked a passion in me; it was my tool for expressing myself. My university course backed this up with a solid knowledge base in video and audio signals and processing, motion graphics, animation, video production, graphic design and web design. I worked for 3 years in live TV news for Bloomberg Television as a Technical Director. In 2003 I set up AV3, moved back to Cornwall and worked for clients such as Jaguar, Land Rover, Channel 4 and Nokia, and toured with all kinds of
When you’re not in the office, what would we find you doing? Well, Jolt’s offices are near St. Ives in Cornwall, and the way of life down here is fantastic for bringing up kids. We are minutes from beaches as well as fantastic scenery, so getting out and about is always fun! 86
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