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Humanz: Inside a rave for the end of the world.


FEBRUARY 2018 #222


A STORAGE FACILIT Y TO SUIT EVERY ARTIST’S NEEDS: 35,000 square feet of storage over five buildings Two hours from London Close to Transam Trucking and the port of Felixstowe in Suffolk 24 hour access 24 hour manned security patrol Full Redcare alarm systems Flat load-in/out Close to the A12 and A14 Ample parking space and hardstanding Variety of forklifts, ramps, container lifter and equipment available In-House crew available Indoor/outdoor space available for cross loads 32A single phase power available in all buildings Cages or assigned areas Shower and toilets available On-site diner Weighing and measuring service available for carnets Suitable for storing backline, stage sets, theatre sets etc. Located on an ex U.S. Air Force base






L-ISA multichannel solutions combine sound system implementation and object-based mixing to reconnect artists and audiences. • Ennio Morricone - Milano, Italy L-ISA Live

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02/02/2018 17:04:48

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO US! No doubt some of you reading this will remember the very first issue of Total Production - which coincidentally also featured Damon Albarn on the front cover! - and I don’t mean to make you feel your age (you don’t look it, honestly - especially you, Damo!), but this is our 20-year anniversary issue! So much has changed since the magazine’s inception, and we’re so very thankful for your continued support and readership (and drinking abilities). Gorillaz grace our front page this issue, and having never watched the band or seen their production live before, I was more than uplifted upon leaving the arena after I had. It’s such a fun, emotion-spanning show to witness, that I’d recommend you catch it next time they play near you. And if you too feel like joining a gospel choir afterwards, well, you’ve got my number! Ste and Stew have been in full backstage journo mode & deliver articles on the contrasting concerts of Ibiza Classics and Queens Of The Stone Age, respectively. Not to mention, lots of other original content including Neuron Pro Audio’s demo day success with Danley Sound Labs, a peek inside the powerhouse that is lighting rental partner to the Eurovision Song Contest, Litecom, and a chat with the latest Production Futures interviewees, ON LX, recipients of a TPi Breakthrough Talent Award. Nice one lads! Speaking of which, this is the last edition before we undertake the TPi Awards 2018! If you’re attending on 26 February, be sure to say hello. We’re hosting our TPi Daytime sessions again; the PSA’s Andy Lenthall will host the talk on Training, Education & Career Development, and I’ll be chairing the Mental Health & Crew Welfare session. I hope to see you there & I’m excited to see what positive changes a group of passionate thinkers & debaters can achieve! Kel Murray Editor

EDITOR Kel Murray Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7738 154689 e-mail:

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ACCOUNTS Lynette Levi / Sarah Miller: MONDIALE GROUP CHAIRMAN Damian Walsh

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GENERAL MANAGER - TPi MAGAZINE & AWARDS Hannah Eakins Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7760 485230 e-mail:

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:

Issue 222 - February 2018

TOTAL PRODUCTION INTERNATIONAL is a controlled circulation magazine, published 12 times a year by Mondiale Publishing Limited under licence. ISSN 1461-3786 Copyright © 2017 Mondiale Publishing Limited. All contents of this publication are subject to worldwide copyright protection and reproduction in whole or part, in any form whatsoever, is expressly forbidden without the prior written consent of the Publishers. Every effort is taken to ensure accuracy in the preparation of this publication but neither Mondiale Publishing Ltd, nor the Editor, can be held responsible for its contents or any consequential loss or damage resulting from information published. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Publishers or Editor. The Publishers accept no responsibility for the return of unsolicited manuscripts, photographs, illustrations, advertising materials or artwork. Total Production International USPS: (ISSN 1461 3786) is published 12 times a year by Mondiale Publishing Limited United Kingdom. The 2017 US annual subscription price is 117USD. Airfreight and mailing in the USA by Agent named Air Business, C/O WorldNet Shipping USA Inc., 155-11 146th Avenue, Jamaica, New York, NY11434. Periodicals postage paid at Jamaica NY 11431. US Postmaster: Send address changes to Total Production International, Air Business Ltd, C/O WorldNet Shipping USA Inc., 155-11 146th Avenue, Jamaica, New York, NY11434. Subscription records are maintained at Mondiale Publishing Ltd. Waterloo Place, Watson Square, Stockport, SK1 3AZ, UK.


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Noel ‘Rickey’ Ricketts.




Katy Perry The award-winning pop star makes use of disguise gx 2 media servers.


Danley Sound Labs Neuron Pro Audio hosts an in-depth demo day at Manchester Academy 2.


Ennio Morricone The world-renowned composer turns to L-Acoustics for his 60 Years of Music tour.


Equipson Open Day The Valencia-based company showcases some of its latest prodcuts.

16 Imagine Dragons An Adamson E-Series system joins the 2017 Evolve World Tour.




Gorillaz Kel witnesses Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett’s animated rave for the end of the world.


Ibiza Classics Ste catches the electronic / orchestral crossover concert, presented by Pete Tong and The Heritage Orchestra.


Queens of the Stone Age Stew meets the crew working on the road for the mighty return of Josh Homme and the US rockers.




Litecom The Copenhagen-based lighting supplier gives TPi a guided tour of its various operations in and around the city.


TPi Breakthrough Talent Awards winners James Walton & Matt Didon talk about their blossoming company, ON LX.


Ste discusses the future of AV with Barco’s Wouter Bonte.

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Out Board Director, Dave Haydon, talks TPi through the R&D process behind the company’s RCX SMART Remote.


Ahead of Daytime TPi, Andy Lenthall discusses mental health in live events.



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RICKEY RICKETTS 28 JUNE 1962 - 16 JANUARY 2018 “It is with immense sadness and heavy hearts that we have to announce the passing of our colleague, friend, brother, father and partner who lost his battle with Stage 4 Glioblastoma Multiforme, the most aggressive form of brain cancer. Rickey was known to many of us as the FOH Engineer for bands including Rudimental, Orbital, Groove Armada, Erasure, Labrinth, Freestylers, Alabama3, The Herbaliser, The Bluetones, The Bays, Roots Manuva, Red Snapper, Terry Callier, Marlon Roudette, Nightmares on Wax, Beth Orton, Zero 7, Corduroy and Mother Earth to name but a few. “Without exception, the tributes to Rickey all mention his positive outlook and good will, which was his default position. The world is a different, colder place without him. Rest easy, dood.” - Tim Hardstaff

All proceeds will be going to Rickey’s daughters; Mica, 12 and Mimosa, 19. A percentage will also help Jess Mills set up her charitable foundation to work towards expanding the range and methods of treatments avaliable for cancer in the UK. Event: Rickey Ricketts’ Benefit Gig Date: Friday 23 February 2018 Venue: Shepherd’s Bush Empire Address: Shepherd’s Bush Green, Shepherd’s Bush, London W12 8TT Capacity: 2,000 Doors: 7pm Show: 8pm - 1am Price: £30.00 Line-Up (in order of appearance): Redsnapper (Live) The Bluetones (Live) Freestylers (Live ) Orbital (Live) Groove Armada (DJ set) + very special guests

There will be an industry-led Rickey Ricketts’ Benefit Gig on Friday 23 February 2018 at Shepherd’s Bush Empire. A celebration produced by all those who loved and worked with Rickey over the course of his successful career.

TPi 08


KATY PERRY The multi award-winning artist turns to disguise gx 2 media servers for her eye-popping new tour.

A pair of disguise gx 2 media servers, each with 2 DVI VFC cards a piece, have accompanied Katy Perry on an 89-date world tour in support of her fifth album, Witness. Along with the disguise software tool kit, providing a pre-vis environment for the creative show design and powerful content playback that includes tight Notch integration, the servers will ensure her tour remains as visually striking until its climax in August 2018. The stage design by Production Designer, Es Devlin, takes the form of a 130ft, eye-shaped LED screen with a 2-part door in the ‘iris’ portion of the screen. Creative Directors and Choreographers Ant and Ash [Antony Ginandjar and Ashley Evans] have woven a 1980’s space theme into the 6 acts of the show. The gx 2 systems from disguise were chosen, “due to the need for Notch integration as well as the entire team’s familiarity and reliance on the product over the years,” explained Earlybird Visual’s Eric Marchwinski, the Associate Lighting Designer and Lighting / Video Programmer. “We never considered any other solution as disguise is now an integral part of how we all produce these very large and high-profile shows. The gx 2 is a workhorse, which is the perfect fit for this project in terms of reliability and power. We are playing 5K and 2K files and sometimes we layer multiple files of those sizes.” In pre-production, disguise was used to “take a look at the content’s relationship to the screen surround and how things felt in different positions in the room,” said Marchwinski. “Having a model to look at for pre-production was key, as well as having the TAIT Navigator automation integration via UDP. With the moving, bi-part wall and the 8 matrix lifts, we needed to be able to parallel map the content on both of these surfaces. The 3D workflow that disguise provides is the only choice for these features in the set.” He gave kudos to the new system hardware as well: “We push the system pretty hard with such a large texture size; 8 outputs and 7K worth of texture would bring most media server to its knees. But the disguise gx 2 stands strong for almost everything we ask it to do.” Marchwinski pointed out that the support from disguise was also integral to the technical setup of the show. “As we have continued to use disguise on these large shows, the need for some on-site support has grown,” he commented. “The disguise New York office sent on-site Support Specialist, Chet Miller, to help Drew and I get everything running smoothly. “This was invaluable as Chet was able to help tweak the automation integration and dial in overall system performance - especially as we were




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using some of the first gx 2’s in the US market. We also had some direct lines of communication back to the London office, which helped to document anything that arose, keeping our rehearsals and the London office working efficiently across two different time zones.” The content was provided by Silent Partners Studio. Kirk J. Miller is the Visual Project Manager for Earlybird Visual and Ryan Middlemiss the disguise System Designer. For the tour, Jay Schmit is the Production Manager, J.T. Rooney the Screen Producer, and Gabriel Coutu-Dumont the Video Creative Director. The Lighting Designer is Baz Halpin and the Lighting Director is Drew Gnagey. TPi Photo: Steve Jennings


= Rock & Roll!



Watch our Highlights

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NEURON’S DANLEY DEMO DAY In order to showcase an array of products from US audio innovator Danley Sound Labs, UK-based Neuron Pro Audio recently held a well-attended and in-depth demo day at Manchester’s Academy 2 venue.

Kyle Marriott, Managing Director at Neuron Pro Audio, described the beginnings of this transatlantic relationship: “I’ve personally been an admirer of Tom Danley’s work for over 10 years. After hearing the ServoDrive BT7 and LABsub designs that he made before Danley Sound Labs was started, I have been trying to get access to his advanced Synergy and Jericho designs since becoming aware of them. It’s taken several years for the large body of water between us to cease being a barrier, with importation and distribution of the systems carrying some logistical challenges. But we feel the time is now right for us to support the move back towards a higher fidelity, more efficient point source approach. “We became partners with Danley UK after their first demo around 3 years ago, and have been building up a steady following through word of mouth, gigs and private demos, but there’s been so much interest that a formal demo day with a broader range of products was needed.” Neuron showcased a variety of speakers from the Danley portfolio on the day, including the SM80, SH50 and SH46 from the Synergy Horn series, the SBH10 from the Paraline lens-based column series, the TH118, DBH218 and BC412 from the various subwoofer designs the company offers, and the almighty J3-94 from the large format Jericho series. “The J3-94 is relatively new, at around 18-months old,” Marriott said. “But all of the products are ‘of the same cloth’ so to speak and adhere to the same core principles of all of Danley’s work. We do have some exciting new products in the pipeline though, so keep an eye on our social media for sneak peeks in the coming months!” Director of R&D at Danley Sound Labs, Tom Danley, originally found himself in the world of pro audio having arrived by a less than conventional path, which has greatly influenced the development of the company’s products. Marriott elaborated: “Tom has a long history of handling the more esoteric and extreme demands of military and NASA acoustic challenges with aplomb; including things such as subwoofers to communicate with elephants, simulate the effects of shelling and bombs on large buildings, silence helicopter rotor noise and acoustic levitation for space station

analysis work. “This truly allows him to think ‘outside the box’ in his approach, and the Synergy Horns in particular show that a true ‘next step’ is viable to overcome the intrinsic shortcomings of the dominant line array approach in live and installed sound. It also helps that he’s an incredibly humble and open guy, always willing to go deep on explanations as to how his designs work and share his knowledge with those who are curious, and that’s something that Neuron embodies too so it’s a perfect fit for us - and it helps that the boxes sound great, of course!” The day itself was a great success for both companies, with walk-ins bolstering the 250+ registered visitors that made time to visit Academy 2. Marriott commented: “We welcomed a wide range of people, from venue owners, event promoters, system techs and engineers to rental houses and installation companies, plus performers and artists, across all levels of experience and size. It seems that the word is getting out that we have something special here. “The feedback after the event has been brilliant, and frankly we’ve been a little blown away by how many people have asked us to provide quotes for sales, installs and events right off the bat. The Jericho in particular really took people’s breath away, as it’s capable of handling huge crowds with 1 box per side, rather than the normal 12 boxes of line array, but the SH50 and SH46 have also garnered a tonne of interest with their hi-fi sound, ease of use and SPL capabilities. Even the harshest of critics have humbly stated that these are incredible products, which is all we could have asked for.” With the promise of new product “sneak peaks” to come sooner rather than later from Danley and Neuron, the questions remains - are we likely to experience them in anger in the near future? “Most certainly!” exclaimed Marriott. “It’s fair to say that there’s a bunch of interesting projects ahead for all of the systems on display, so be sure to keep a look out for them on shows. We’ll keep people informed of these and other events, and we also plan to host further demos later in the year for those who weren’t able to attend this time around.” TPi 10

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ENNIO MORRICONE IMMERSES AUDIENCES IN 60 YEARS OF MUSIC WITH L-ISA One of the world’s most celebrated composers and conductors, Ennio Morricone, has written over 500 film and television scores during his 7-decade career. The only film composer ever to have received the honorary Academy Award for lifetime achievement, the maestro embarked on his 60 Years of Music world tour with an L-Acoustics system designed by Scott Willsallen of Auditoria Pty and supplied by Italian rental company, Agorà. Early in the tour, Morricone’s long time recording and FOH Engineer Fabio Venturi and Agorà Project Manager, Giulio Rovelli, heard about the new L-ISA immersive sound system and visited the L-ISA headquarters in London for a presentation and to test the mixing platform with Venturi’s own recorded material. “Our normal L-Acoustics configuration works extremely well. But in places such as arenas, it’s difficult to achieve exactly what we want, and since the very first concert, we’ve been looking at ways to make the performance sound even more natural,” he explained. “When I listened to L-ISA, I felt that it offered a more natural and detailed sound. I discussed the system with the production team, and we decided we wanted to use it,” he stated. The team decided to use the system for both the Bologna and Milano dates. Sherif El Barbari, Director of L-ISA labs worked with Venturi to design a system for both venues. At the 8,600-seat Unipol Arena in Bologna, an A/B comparison between a conventional stereo system, which featured 12 K2 per side, and an L-ISA system featuring 5 rows of 12 KARA across the stage was conducted. The production team felt that the L-ISA setup delivered far superior results in terms of localisation, clarity and mix details. Within a few minutes, it was unanimously validated by the Maestro and his team. The following day in Milan, the L-ISA system was again deployed in the 12,700-seat Mediolanum Assago arena. There, the L-ISA system comprised 5 arrays of 12 KARA across the stage, completed by 2 side extension to widen the imaging, with the central cluster also including 2 arrays of 4 KS28. For the 240° audience seating, 2 side hangs of 8 K2’s and 5 additional KARA for frontfills were utilised. Frederic Bailly, Applications Engineer at L-Acoustics was on-hand to lend support. “The Agorà team had an opportunity to ‘rehearse’ the L-ISA rigging deployment for the first show in Bologna,” he explained. “For the Milan show the next day, we ran into an unexpected challenge, as the fixed central scoreboard was not documented in the blueprints and we had to lower the PA system by 1 metre.” With 112 condenser mics on stage for the orchestra and choir, Venturi worried about feedback, but this posed no problems as gain before feedback was in the range of 4 to

6dB. The complete PA was set-up an hour ahead of schedule and system calibration was completed by Systems Engineer Maxime Ménelec in 30 minutes. This meant that Venturi had plenty of time to tweak his L-ISA mix and do the sound check, and rehearsal took place with the Maestro at 5pm without a glitch. “The system worked perfectly for both dates and was an overall positive experience,” said Floris Douwes, Producer and MD of the tour’s production company, GEA. “The L-ISA system guarantees an immersive sound for the entire audience, which is a tremendous improvement, and offers much more transparency of sound than with conventional stereo line-array systems.” Venturi added: “With L-ISA, everyone felt there was a natural sound coming from the orchestra. The system is very simple to use and it adds more detail and space to your mix. I would really like to continue to use this setup.” “Artists and audiences alike are continuously looking for more profound live experiences and this technology meets this demand,” concluded Douwes. “I think this system is particularly exciting in arenas and large halls, as it enables the entire audience to enjoy an amazing sound experience. Even those who are in seats that wouldn’t receive ideal sound with conventional systems. Audiences get to enjoy a sound that is far more natural and organic in terms of the position of the musicians and instruments on stage. This system brings the orchestra much closer to the audience, making the experience more immersive and enjoyable!” Ennio Morricone himself was pleased with the system, stating: “The L-ISA multi-channel system adds a sense of space to the sound. This has made it possible for Venturi and Agorà to reproduce my performance with a surprisingly realistic sound image of the orchestra. More than ever before, there was a clear feeling of being enveloped by the music.” TPi 12


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EQUIPSON OPEN DAY TPi’s Stew Hume was invited to Equipson to take a closer look at some of the latest products at its Valencia HQ, and what’s in store for 2018...

TPi’s guide for the day was Juan José Vila, COO and CMO of Equipson. Joining his father’s business back in 2002, Vila has been focussed on the company’s R&D department, while his father, José Luis Vila, still oversees the direction of the company as CEO. “In the early days, when my father started Equipson, we were very much a distributor,” began the younger Vila. “I then joined the company 6 or 7 years later and began to create a team to focus on the R&D department. We were already a leading distribution company so we had the client base and the industry knowledge to start producing our own products.” Following a few years of research, the company released its first line of products including the Digiline Series, BlueLine Digital and the IC 6 PRO under the company’s WORK PRO banner. Although Equipson’s range of products are usually associated with the install market, some of its latest offerings seem to signal a change for the Spanish company. Enter the LightShark, a new range of hardware lighting consoles. “About 2.5 years ago, the Equipson team gathered around the table to discuss the possibility of creating a lighting control surface,” said Vila. “We wanted to design a system that would combine the versatility of the software solutions with the ergonomics, built-in interfacing, and physical usability of a hardware console. On the whole you can split lighting consoles into 3 categories - a classic console, a wing and computer set up, and the dongle and computer combo. Each of these options has their advantages and disadvantages. A console may be too expensive for a particular project and using a computer puts you at the mercy of software updates.” It’s here that Equipson hopes its new solution will offer a fourth option for the market. The LightShark is the first ever DMX-based hardware lighting console range to offer wireless, browser-based control from a multi-touch smartphone or tablet, with support for up to 3 connected devices simultaneously. The range sets a new standard for features and usability at its price point. The LightShark range comprises of 2 independent products, the LS-Core and the LS-1 console, both developed and designed entirely within WORK PRO’s lighting division. The LS-1 brings together the best features from the world of innovative software-only lighting control and

marries them to an intuitive, ergonomic hardware control surface. The LSCore omits the LS-1’s hardware control surface but offers exactly the same lighting control software, processing power, and smartphone or tabletbased software control interface. Alongside all of the features users expect from a modern, fully featured lighting control system, LightShark offers intuitive control over a total of 8 512-channel DMX Universes, plus built-in support for an ever-growing library of lighting fixtures. Because the LightShark control software runs on the console itself, and the Wi-Fi-connected tablet or smartphone is merely controlling it via a simple web browser, the control software is fast and responsive, as well as offering the benefits of real-time, multi-touch control. The console was first shown last year in Las Vegas at LDI and certainly made an impression. “We were really pleased with the feedback we had from the trade show last year,” stated Vila. “Since then we have been inundated with interest and hopefully will see the LightShark in various places throughout 2018. We have also got more plans for the console, which we will showcase at this year’s Prolight+Sound in Frankfurt.” During TPi’s Equipson visit, Vila also demonstrated another new release for the company. “Audio has always been an important side to our business,” commented Vila. “Last year we employed Joan La Roda who now heads up our electro acoustic department. Since joining he completed our first line array, Arion Series, and control system - a project we have had in the pipeline for some time.” The SL 210 A is the latest addition to WORK PRO’s Arion Series. A new, self-powered 2-way line array, the SL 210 A features remote monitoring, fully developed by WORK PRO’s in-house audio engineering department. The system features 2 10-inch FAITAL transducers and an 11.46-inch voicecoil in a bass reflex enclosure. The 2 low pass cut-off frequencies in the loudspeakers contribute to an even horizontal directivity. The high frequencies are reproduced by a 1.4-inch exit BEYMA compression driver that features a polymer PM-4 membrane, which brings a more natural sound when compared to other materials commonly used on the market. The SL 210 A can suit the requirements of different configurations 14


Below: Lightshark Product Manager, Alejo Cervera; Joan La Roda, Equipson’s Senior Loudspeaker Designer in the company’s anechoic chamber; Equipson’s CEO José Luis Vila and COO/CMO Juan José Vila.

thanks to its powerful built-in DSP. Each unit can be set manually via its interface and controls placed at the rear part of the enclosure, which allows for the user to navigate through the menu and the different parameters of the system. As well as surveying some of the latest offerings for Equipson, TPi also had a chance to meet some of the R&D team that were responsible for the creations of Equipson’s products. Lead by General R&D Manager, Olegario Perez, the team located on the top floor of the of the HQ diligently troubleshoots all products prior to release as well as creating prototype components for all its products with the company’s 3D printer. Prior to leaving Valencia, Vila talked TPi through one the other major parts of the Equipson Group, WORK PRO Lifters. “For the last 20 years we have been producing some of the highest quality lifters within the industry. The brand has now recognised around the world as a high quality product.” However, the company almost became a victim of its own success and

saw a sudden, huge demand for its products. “We knew we needed to expand the business,” commented Vila. “This coincided with an opportunity to buy out another Valencia-based lifter manufacturer, Fantek back in 2015.” Since the purchase, as well as taking on all the experienced Fantek staff, Equipson has also implemented a whole technical management team to expand the lifters R&D department. “This was vital as we need such a team to ensure we could take WORK PRO Lifters to the next level. We also wanted to improve the manufacturing process to make it as efficient as possible.” Last September WORK PRO Lifters has moved into a new 4,000sqm warehouse, down the road from the original Equipson HQ. TPi Photos: Equipson and TPi



IMAGINE DRAGONS CHOOSES ADAMSON & SOUND IMAGE Imagine Dragons have gone from playing basements and dive bars to filling major arenas in the space of 10 years. For their Evolve World Tour in 2017, it was an Adamson E-Series system rocking the crowds from continent to continent.

“Adamson is always my first choice when it comes to Imagine Dragons,” began FOH Engineer Scott Eisenberg. “The E-Series offers a perfect blend of power and musicality and I love the overall impact we get with this system.” The tour was the band’s biggest to date in terms of scale and overall production value and featured a stage design that wrapped the audience around the band in an almost 360-degree configuration. That necessitated an equally unorthodox audio system design with a package that, like those for all of the band’s previous production-carrying tours, was supplied by Escondido, California’s Sound Image. The main hangs for the Evolve World Tour were comprised of 18 Adamson E15’s per side, suspended around 30ft further upstage than usual. Using Adamson’s Blueprint AV software, Systems Engineer, Cameron Whaley, of Sound Image was easily able to avoid the potential pitfalls of that configuration. Rounding out the package were side hangs of 6 E15’s and 9 E12’s per side, and rear hangs comprised of 8 compact S10 2-way, full-range cabinets per side. Adamson’s E219 subwoofers handled the low end, with flown left and right arrays of 12 cabinets and an additional 6 per side on the ground. Speaking to the low-end distribution, Whaley said the elaborate sub design produced some very welcome results. “Having a sub array long enough to achieve some directionality, we can get a good amount of energy to the back of the room without it being overwhelming in the front,” he

explained. “By playing with the timing of the ground subs to the flown subs, we can also fill in some of the holes between the power alleys on the floor.” As far as what made the E-Series the ideal choice for this trek - and every major Imagine Dragons tour before it - Eisenberg said it’s largely about power and consistency. “I really like that it’s got a lot of horsepower, especially in the mains’ lower midrange,” he commented. “The highs are clear but not harsh, and when the subs kick in, there’s just some really solid energy that hits you in the best way possible.” He added that the uniformity when transitioning from the E15’s to the E12’s and S10’s in different parts of the room is seamless. “I love that the quality and performance is consistent across the board with the E-Series and S-Series,” Eisenberg said. “That’s a welcome bit of reassurance that we’re delivering great and consistent sound to every corner of any given venue.” Working together, Imagine Dragons, Sound Image, and their respective teams provided powerful live rock music for thousands of people around the globe at a time where it’s seemingly in short supply. Fortunately for the band’s ever-growing fanbase; they don’t show any signs of slowing down. TPi 16


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Opposite: Damon Albarn performs with Little Simz.

GORILLAZ: HUMANZ The world’s most famous virtual band, comprised of musician Damon Albarn and artist Jamie Hewlett, plus the digital ensemble of vocalist / keyboardist 2-D, bassist Murdoc Niccals, and American drummer Russel Hobbs, fronted by Japanese singer / guitarist, Noodle, took to the stage after a 7-year break with their new Humanz World Tour. Their return? A glorious amalgamation of cartoon enigmas, ethereal lighting, and a touring sound system first. Featuring an ever-changing cast of special guests including De La Soul and Noel Gallagher, and featuring support from British rapper Little Simz, Humanz is quite the spectacular. Meanwhile its crew prove to be a collective of technical and creative friends…

“I’ve never done anything else really,” stated Gorillaz Tour Director, Craig Duffy upon explaining how he landed at the helm of one of the most talked-about productions of 2017. “I had a ‘proper’ job for about 2 years in the early 80s at EMI’s radar division, but funnily enough, nobody wanted to employ a blue haired punk rocker. I used to watch bands play 4 or 5 times a week, and back then you’d just offer to help until you got a job,” he shrugged, comically. Cementing his career in live music, Duffy has never looked back, and has worked with Damon Albarn for a mighty 20 years. “Strangely enough, I started touring with blur in 1997 in San Francisco, and played the same city again 20 years later with Gorillaz; it’s been quite a journey! “Damon is all about making music - he’s always writing and creating, usually with 5 or 6 projects on the go at once and when he started this one, he began by telling us how great it would be if he didn’t have to tour a project, if cartoon characters could be the band, essentially. That was his initial idea. The reality is, that if you’re Damon Albarn, people will eventually want to see your face.” The band didn’t come out in front of a live audience until Glastonbury 2010, 6 years after their conception and, in the interim, they had become a globally talked about act. The 2017 incarnation of Gorillaz live is an exceptionally well-executed production, and with lots of people to look at on stage, it’s a far cry from being incognito. From discreet lighting, to a video world that draws you into a virtual reality, to a mighty powerful gospel-inspired choir, the band are a sight to behold. In short, Gorillaz have become something of an iconic amalgamation of 2 worlds, which tastefully collide and blossom into an almost spiritual, musical project. Duffy continued: “The lighting design on this show is stunning, it’s honestly an amazing-looking show. We’re really pushing what can be done on stage,

and as a design team they’ve done an incredible job. Taking those designs and delivering it on a daily basis, is something Joel [Stanley, Production Manager] has pulled off on a massive scale. Humanz is run by a brilliant bunch of people and the artists give us an amazing show each night, I feel as though everything we do really pushes and challenges each department, and because we’re working together, the whole ensemble looks, sounds and flows the way it does.” PRODUCTION MANAGEMENT Production Manager Joel Stanley is also a long-serving member of the Albarn creative machine, and, as he explains, his own journey has had him wearing many different hats: “I initially met Damon when I was brought in as one of the drummers on Monkey: Journey to the West.” For those unfamiliar, Monkey was Albarn’s Chinese Opera & stage adaptation of the novel Journey to the West by Wu Cheng’en, created by Actor / Director Chen Shi-Zheng along with Albarn & artist Jamie Hewlett, co-creator of Gorillaz. He was just 20 years old. “That’s also when I first met Craig. I was always hanging around, trying to do things in the production office that was nothing to do with being a drummer! Then the Musical Director asked me to help him with some spreadsheets & it all sort of happened from there; they knew I wasn’t going to just turn up, play drums and go home… turns out I’m a bit of a geek! From there, Craig & I formed a friendship and I ended up doing the whole show and then went on tour.” The concept of Humanz began when the visual creators were hired by Albarn’s management team, elevenmgmt. Block9’s Gideon Berger and Stephen Gallagher were tasked with animating the digital content for the touring visuals. The meeting of minds came after Block9 worked on a Banksy exhibition. The connection between Banksy and Albarn is 19


quite strong, with the elusive artist having created artwork for blur’s Think Tank. “They hired Block9 to help envisage Jamie’s vision,” said Stanley. “Jamie has his own company, but this time he’s sat down with Block9 and went through all the back catalogue in order to bring the freshest ideas to light. Almost acting like his art directors with Jamie being the artist & the creative, and Damon being the musician. They were a nice creative go-to from the beginning. “The first thing I did was hire Matt Pitman, our Lighting Designer. We put the working content onto Matt’s WYSIWYG for pre-visualisation and turned it into a movie, and then Damon and Jamie could sit down and watch it as if they were in production rehearsals; with Gorillaz being an animated band, the visual content is obviously vital to the look of the show. Matt’s lighting design is also integral to the overall look; the lighting show very much complements the video. What I love about the design of this show is that everything has a purpose, every single cue is there for a reason, and it looks spectacular.” So, what does the audience see? “You’re going into the world of Gorillaz. The album concept is a soundtrack to the end of the world, now that Donald Trump is president. [Sigh - Editor’s note]. That’s the concept for the album - a rave for the end of the world, but as a participant, you’ll probably have your own interpretation too,” he commented. In total, there are 45 crewmembers, 16 drivers, 13 band members, 10 in the artist entourage camp plus a variety of featured artists and supports bands. For Stanley, this job is particularly close to his heart. “I used to play for the artist, and now I’m on the other side of the fence, so we have a very, very close working relationship. I’m so proud of it!” he smiled. As for the personal touch needed on a show of this size? “On every tour I do, I try to make a conscious effort to get to know everyone. I have an open-door policy if anyone needs to have a chat or if I notice anything I think might be worrisome; I’ll chat to them first. I know there’s a whole support network out there which is becoming more vocal & available at the moment, but I also feel like roadies will chat to people they actually know, so it’s important to make yourself approachable for that.” Holly Sandeman, Production Coordinator and Stanley’s right hand woman, took up the story: “The day-to-day can be quite hectic, looking after all the crew. Luckily, they’re all lovely!” she confirmed. “Logistically, looking after them with hotels, transport and various needs means I deal

with a lot of different personalities, so that’s a really interesting part of my job. There’s well over 40 crew with our drivers, so it’s always busy, probably one of the busiest tours I’ve done.” When I first met Sandeman, she was touring with the late George Michael in 2011. I remember it because, it being my first year at this magazine, she was one of the very first women I met who toured. She was also all smiles and went out of her way to accommodate this ex music journalist during my first technical journalism trip to Amsterdam’s Ziggo Dome. How has the industry changed during those 6.5 years? “I think there’s a new generation of young people coming through the doors, and I’m definitely seeing more ladies on tour these days. I personally started out in rigging; I helped my brother at a rave and discovered I could do staging for a job. I applied at Unusual Rigging and was accepted, I worked there for a few years & I became the middle person between the riggers and our clients. I just love touring though, especially on this tour, we’re surrounded by our friends.” The tour vendors include Neg Earth Lights, Block9 for visuals, Entec Sound & Light and Brown Note Productions for audio, Fly By Nite for trucking, tour busses from Jumbo Cruiser, Mojo Barries, The Pantry Maid for catering duties, Video Design and Universal Pixels for video rental, Rima Travel, Global Motion for freighting, All Access Staging & Productions for band Risers and TAIT for scenic elements & set construction. VISUAL DESIGN “The tour started off with some warm ups,” confirmed Stanley. “At the start, we carried a small production that eventually grew as we added flown scenic elements of video, more lights and so on; by the time we’d done 3 months in the US the production was fully developed for its UK & Euro run.” Venturing back home also prompted some changes, including a complete change in video, courtesy of Video Design. “Coming to Europe with a different video supplier, somehow all felt very familiar,” said Stanley. Lighting Designer Matt Pitman had a background in concert video before finding his way into lighting design, and so has an innate understanding of how the 2 mediums can best complement one another. Stanley said: “For Gorillaz we just have a large upstage wall of hi-def LED and an IMAG screen each side of stage fed by a nice little camera package and PPU from Video Design. There are 13 performers in the band plus 20

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guests; for that reason, the rig looks very straightforward, 4 trusses across stage, a bit of side and back light, back video wall, some risers. That’s the only way so many performers and their stuff can be accommodated and give them the room to work. Dylan and I had some conversations about IMAG and he is extremely competent, relieving me of that burden. The original Jamie Hewlett produced content material we use can present large areas of solid colour at intense levels, or even white so we needed to temper the lumen output from the back wall, something we now do live in the show with Glen Jenkins, our touring media server operator, riding a fader.” Stanley expressed his satisfaction with the video rental house: “Alex Leinster from Video Design came out to our production build and first show in Luxembourg to make sure everything was OK, which was great. The crew are great too, it all feels very familiar which is just what you want to happen.” Dylan Etherington, Camera Director, explained that he “knew little about this show and kind of went in blind”. His first gig running video for the band was in Dubai for an outdoor Halloween concert. He told TPi: “I hadn’t seen the show or any rehearsals, and went straight into the UAE to shoot my first show. I had a video to watch of the show beforehand and I decided to change a couple of things around. The way the camera plan-up was structured was 2 long lenses at FOH and 2 in the pit. I personally don’t really like long lenses as I feel it’s always a flat, 2D image. All the cameras were forward facing, so everything that was going to the side screen was coming from the floor perspective of the show. I decided to take 1 long lens away from FOH and put it on a hand-held camera on stage, shooting both the band and audience, and it worked really well. We’ve now got 8 cameras in total; 4 are operated and 4 are mini cams, which I have set up over 2 multiviewers. I always have it set up as if I’m reading a book; I always go from stage right to FOH, then to stage left.” After mastering his camera angles to perfection, Etherington opted to use a Ross Carbonite 2ME video switcher for control. “We’re using it for it’s most simple purposes; sending the live IMAG cut straight to side screens. It can do far more than what we need it for on this occasion but it is a comfortable and reliable piece of kit to use.” The video set up is a standard IMAG on either side of the stage, with video content playing from the upstage wall. “In terms of how we’re shooting the show, I had the privilege of being able to watch it in Zurich, and it’s

amazingly lit. From the POV of the audience being in the audience, it looks phenomenal. It’s not lit for video though, it’s very dark. When shooting, we try and avoid the dark areas. However, we’ve been told to really make a feature of the dark areas on his show and it’s working out really well. The content is clearly a big part of Gorillaz, Jamie Hewlett as an artist is half of the band, so we’re trying to feature that in the IMAG as much as we can. A lot of the musicians on stage are in silhouette throughout, and we’re trying to consciously use that - with the screen in the background - when shooting the show. There’s a lot to shoot on stage, which makes it interesting, and it keeps the camera guys busy! One thing that I believe can let a gig down is its video content, but this is spot on. On the song Stylo, for example, we use a music video with Bruce Willis and that’s been mixed with the animation, and it’s just so unique to watch. The video control package was supplied by Phil Mercer’s Universal Pixels. The MD of the new video rental company - which has made the shortlist of the 2018 TPi Awards in its first year! - told TPi: “We’re supplying the video elements for the global touring package including custom LED screens for the Oracle structure and disguise media server control surfaces. I’m very pleased to be continuing a relationship with Gorillaz, which began over a decade, and several previous touring campaigns ago.” Automation Engineer, Blane Dracup, utilised a Kinesys Elevation system running Vector software, with 3 500K motors. He took up the story: “This show doesn’t need to move very fast; the Oracle itself doesn’t weigh as much as you might think so it’s quite an easy structure to move. I time it from the timecode information and I receive from the backline; it’s quite a detailed set of timings, so I have a timecode feed to myself.” He worked closely with Production Rigger, Jerry Hough, who added: “It’s a simple rig, and quite a modest size show from a rigging point of view, with around 50 points. There’s 4 lighting trusses and the video screen, the Oracle; a T truss with some Kinesys motors on it and a round video screen that moves around during the show. I take care of the package of reeling and lifting equipment, and then everywhere we go I have a team of local riggers that actually do the rigging, 10 up & 5 down. The locals generally know their city’s buildings, so I just come in, mark out the positions of all my points and liaise with them on load in. We’re using Litec EXE hoists, which have really made an impact, Litec seem to be a very popular choice for a lot of riggers now.” Weighing in at just under 20 tonnes, Hough produces the rigging plot which identifies the magnitude of calculations 22

The SL-Series.

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to provide accurate information for the venues, risk assessment files and method statements to cover the day-to-day check lists, from unloading trucks to rigging assemblies, planning, working at height and generally making sure all the equipment is safely maintained with up to date inspections and risk assessments. We constantly keep an eye on the condition of our equipment; we really look after it meticulously.” The moving scenic element is a flying gag comprising a rounded, automated set piece affectionately named the Oracle due to it representing an ‘all seeing eye’, as if Big Brother has turned up to the party. The circular video panel - manned by LED Tech Mattie Jobson - comprises both rectangular and triangular Glux 9mm tiles supplied by Universal Pixels, and enclosed in a banded frame created by TAIT Towers during a 2-month pre-production phase at its Pennsylvania HQ.

couldn’t really be compromised by truss joins or rigging problems, so getting the correct layout of various lengths was a mean feat achieved by Nic. The main design was realised for the first time in the US by Bob Looney at 4Wall lighting and then for the European leg, expertly fabricated by Dave Ridgeway and Nathan White at Neg Earth Lights. “I had to ensure that the entire rig contained fixtures that gave me as much flexibility and colour range as possible. Specifying the lighting rig became more about fixtures that provided multiple tools than eye candy effects or special tricks. I needed workhorse lighting fixtures that not only delivered on power output but also provided good colour rendering and various beam looks to complement the on-screen animation. 36 Mythos2 were the first fixtures to be drawn on the lighting plan,” said Pitman. “I’ve always been a fan of its colour temperature, it has a lovely luminance and sparkle to it. We use an extremely wide colour gamut for the Humanz show and the Mythos2’s keep up brilliantly. As well as colour, they have really good output that provides me with not only strong beam looks against the huge video surface, but also wide gobo looks. We needed this versatility as the show lighting is quite unconventional at times, extremely theatrical at others and then all out rave cave for the rest! “I also needed a second hard edge fixture with huge output for some of the more theatrical ideas I had, I immediately chose Robe BMFL spots, there are 16 flown and a further 8 on the upstage edge for backlight. They’re such great lights, power, beam and speed. It’s the upstage row of BMFL’s that give the stage such a lovely backlight all the time.” The video wall is framed by 32 GLP impression X4 Bar 20’s and 16 pairs of Solaris Flare Strobes on 1.5m drop arms create a ‘suspended strobe ceiling’ specifically designed for one song. Pitman added: “I’ve also got another 8 onstage; as they’re so popular, there was a shortage of Flares last year - they were a little challenging to find!” All wash lights are from Martin by Harman. “We used 33 Quantum Washes and 10 Aura XB’s because I need the colour speed of an LED wash light to keep up with video!” For control, it’s an MA Lighting grandMA2 Light with a backup, and 2 MA Lighting VPU Lite (for pixel mapping all RGB fixtures). This is the second project I’ve used a VPU on, there is a fair amount of pixelmapping going on during the show. There’s a song called Strobelite where the upstage video content

STROBELITE Pitman’s lighting design is a sight to behold. He began: “Joel called me in December 2016 when the album was allowed to be played to people who weren’t studio staff. He brought it to my house and we sat down, listening, getting really excited about the project ahead; I’m a massive Gorillaz fan! Joel and I had wanted to work together on a project for some time, so the fact that it happened to then be with one of my favourite bands was perfect for me what a privilege.” Having worked with Gorillaz for a year now, Pitman is experienced in delivering a show sensitive to the band’s large video element. His lighting design frames the upstage video screen effortlessly, keeping the band in relative silhouette for almost the entire show, with artist lighting solely via 2 downstage Robe BMFL truss spots. Designing lighting to keep up with the dynamic stories and messages of the on-stage animation was a key focus for Pitman. “For the Humanz tour, I was tasked with making a lighting show that felt relevant to the landscape and style of the Gorillaz artwork,” he said. “The animation and content for this tour is heavily influenced with grids, tiles and heptagrams, so this formed the basis for the placement of the fixtures.” Pitman continued: “Everything was expertly slotted into cunning length arrangements of HUD pre-rigged truss by Nic Burlace my Lighting Crew Chief. I needed everything in exact positions to be able to achieve the shapes which 24


is being played back through the Solaris Flares, and if I had to program the strobe hits into cues to do what happens in the video, it would’ve taken me about a fortnight, but using a VPU means that we can speed up the creation of the show with amazing results.” Pitman is a huge MA advocate: “Some of this show is programmed like a theatre show, at times what happens on screen literally happens in the lighting rig. The frames within the animation change so quickly that some songs feature hundreds of lighting cues - cues that change, theatrically speaking, the look of the stage, as though the scene on-screen has fallen off of the video wall and covered the musicians. I need a desk which gives me the ability to drive a show of this complexity, there are thousands of sequences in the showfile, the rig is 36 universes, there are multiple protocols being sent and received, huge amounts of timecoded information, pixelmapping and live control.” The show was programmed at Pitman’s Pixelmappers Studio himself and Dan Crowther using WYSWYG R39. He continued: “As always, the clients wanted to see the progress of the lighting programming, so we worked on the songs in WYSIWYG with screen grabbed content playing in the render, then we could record an entirely finished song and email it to production and management.” The look of the show is centred around the content on the upstage video wall, with the lighting elements often going almost unnoticed because it’s so cleverly done. It’s as relevant as it is unimposing. “I’d like to think of it as an extension of the content as opposed to a separate entity all together; it’s supposed to be entirely complimentary. That’s the real challenge. The video drives a colour palette towards my design, in creating songs, I’d always watch the content 3 or 4 times before even assembling any

looks. Jamie’s artwork makes it really easy to immediately put forward and an idea about how to respond lighting-wise. We’ve been sound-checking every show day for the last 3 or 4 months, and every day we rehearse a new song we haven’t done before. There are now 71 songs in my showfile, which is amusing because I used to hear tales of other bands who didn’t want to commit to a song list for a tour, meaning that friends in the industry would have like 45 songs in their desk - I’ve got 71 and we’ve still got another year of touring to go!” he laughed, clearly relishing the challenge of it all. SOUNDCHECK Since Gorillaz first began touring in 2010, Entec Light & Sound has been its UK audio vendor. Deploying a hat trick of mighty titans, namely DiGiCo, d&b audiotechnik and Shure, as well as the emergence of a promising transatlantic partnership with Colorado-based Brown Note Productions, Entec is once again proud to support the cartoon wonders. In the second half of 2017, Entec - a long-time d&b rental house - entered into an agreement with Colorado-based Brown Note Productions to give d&b’s next generation. The rental house has recently invested in d&b’s new loudspeaker series, the SL. This tour features its large-format touring system, the GSL, which made its first touring appearance with Gorillaz at Luxembourg’s 6,500-capacity Rockhal in November. “We were very keen to start using it as soon as possible and it was immediately evident that it’s a really clever design,” stated FOH Engineer Matt Butcher, a mainstay within the Albarn camp since just prior to blur’s 1994 Parklife tour, who worked alongside System Tech & Audio Crew Chief [and 2018 TPi Awardsshortlister!] Perttu Korteniemi. Butcher continued: “My first impression was that it is very quick to rig,

Professional Used gear used gear 25


Tour Director, Craig Duffy; Road Manager, Orla Clarke with Production Coordinator, Holly Sandeman & The Pantry Maid’s Lucy Bell; Backline Tech, Andrew Hamwee; Lighting Designer, Matt Pitman; System Tech & Audio Crew Chief, Perttu Korteniemi with FOH Engineer, Matt Butcher.

using the compression mode for flying, and I was bowled over as soon as we turned it on because the amount of punch you get from the low end is startling. “When we first started using it we were playing bottom heavy program without the subs on and putting a little 60Hz bump in the PA just to see how much low end we could get out of it, and it was pretty staggering. We then fired up the new SL-SUB, which is just on another level. I believe it’s almost a hybrid of the J-SUB and J-INFRA, but the new model goes lower and is incredibly powerful whilst retaining so much clarity. “Generally speaking, with sub arrays you can lose that power alley effect down the middle, making it a little bumpy at FOH while it tails off when you move away, but I’m not finding this to be the case with GSL. I’m getting a remarkably smooth, fat and even cardioid dispersion of sub bass across the entire arena. “Right from the start of our pre-production, we made the firm decision to do everything absolutely right and not compromise the audio quality, and the results speak for themselves. A few of us have known Damon for so long that we feel able to make a lot of suggestions for improvement and he respects our opinions. For instance, we were very meticulous about assembling the kick drum samples from the various Gorillaz records so that they can be triggered live and they are reproduced so well through this new d&b system. We’re achieving a very tight bottom end and great articulation on bass guitar and bass synths.” The UK arena touring system, which was supplied by Brown Note Productions’ Ryan Knutson comprised 18 boxes of GSL per side, 18 SL-SUBs configured as a sub array. Side hangs were 20 V-Series per side, and side fills were 4 d&b V10P’s. The system was amplified by 40 d&b D80’s and signal distribution is via 4 d&b DS10’s. “Our first few days with the system were remarkable,” Butcher said. “I walked around the back and the sound just disappeared. We ended

up taking the level down by 2-3dB because we no longer had to rise above the ‘disinformation’ that we had become accustomed to. We suddenly appreciated how much level usually comes out of the back of a box. Because there’s no extraneous low end floating around on stage, everything sounds so much cleaner all the way down the line, so from my perspective at FOH it’s a perfect situation. “It’s a complicated show with so much going on at any one time. Our core line-up consists of drums, electronic percussion, guitar, bass, 2 keyboard players, 6 backing vocalists and Damon who plays piano, guitars and keytar. We have pretty much reached the limits of what is possible with an SD7 but, for me, it’s the best control surface for a job of this scale.” A DiGiCo user since mixing on his first D5 in 2009, Butcher said: “The symmetry of the SD7’s layout - with left and right fader bays, and a master VCA bay in the middle - allows me to do 3 things simultaneously, and that is what makes it so practical. On the left, I have 2 layers of band instruments with vocals and guests on the right. Dave’s fader layout is fairly similar for the same practical reasons; we double up 8 radio mics into individual artist channels.” Butcher admitted to being a “big fan” of the SD7’s internal dynamics. The plug-ins he uses include aural exciters on snares, ADT, compressors and 4 delays with 1 assigned to replicate a CB radio effect. “Alongside those, I’m also running a Waves SoundGrid package on a laptop for things like live hard autotune effects on vocals for a De La Soul number and Saturnz Barz, the Popcaan track from Humanz. Waves also comes in handy for de-essers, multi-band effects and a gated fuzz box for snares. We’ve always tried to make things a little more interesting by integrating dub flavours.” Due to the nature of the show and its ever-changing roll call of special guests, the input count can differ from one night to the next, however, Butcher reported that “as a guide, I can just about record the show at 48kHz on 128 inputs on a Waves MGB interface via 2 MADI streams”. 26


A NEW KIND OF AUDIO The GSL is designed for large outdoor events; it’s bigger than the previous flagship, the J-Series, with 14in drivers on the front, a couple 10’s on the outside, a 10 in the mid and then 3 2inchers in the top in an amazingly small compact package. The GSL sub, which has 3 21-inchers has a tremendous output from it. I think its 9db more than the low end J-Series.” The GSL’s rigging needs are described as “very easy”. It can rig in 2 modes; intention mode (typically seen on the J-Series) or compression mode, where “you bring it in flat and then ratchet it up to make the arc angle with the pins in position”. Ben Shapiro, Head RF Technician and part of the Brown Note family, told TPi: “We support Joel in the all of his projects. We had previously worked with Gorillaz in the US supplying the d&b J-Series prior to the new GSL system coming out. When we heard the new system & we decided to purchase it - before any tours or shows were booked with it - I knew it would be appropriate to put it in the hands of Matt; he’s an exceptional engineer. That’s how the whole thing came about, the new d&b system, collaborating with Entec who support us over here and us in the US, so it’s worked pretty well.” Both control surfaces specified are DiGiCo SD7’s, provided by Entec’s Jonny Clark. The powerful machines were the only console deemed suitable for a mix heavy, complicated production. The overall control package was specified by Monitor Engineer, Dave Guerin. The audio system relies on 3 DiGiCo SD-Racks while a Lenovo Thinkpad drives a DiGiCo Orange Box audio format converter for keyboards and tracks. In total, there are 28 channels of Ableton playback, 8 tracks of click for various band members, and 8 channels of digital keyboards with other keyboards such as piano, Moog and vocoder running off analogue outputs. His 133-channel

count within monitor world further require the use of a DiGiCo SD11i for the 20-channel crew talk back system. MONITOR WORLD Guerin generates an average of 20 mono monitor mixes with 30 in stereo for in-ear feeds, sidefills and Albarn’s piano wedges. Backing vocals are mixed left and right, with Albarn’s vocal centred. 12 d&b M4 wedges are distributed across the stage as well as a V-SUB that is added to the drum fill. Jerry Harvey JH16V2 Pro in-ear monitors are used for the majority of the performers in conjunction with Shure PSM 1000 hardware. “It’s a surprisingly quiet stage despite the extensive amount of activity,” noted Guerin, “and that especially helps when you add the string section because you’re not battling against the inevitable background sound pouring down the string mics. You can get them in the sidefill mix without generating feedback.” The RF side of the operation is wholly dependent on Entec’s recent major commitment to Shure’s new high-tier Axient Digital system, which handles around 50 channels of IEM and AD Series radio mics for vocals and backline, all of which are monitored from a Waves eMotion LV1 desk via a patch on the SD11i. “I was taken aback by how clean the Axient sound is,” commented Butcher, whose opinion was shared by Guerin. “Yes, it’s a real step up in quality,” he said. “As we have so many people on in-ears, it wasn’t a problem to stretch to another seven packs for the BVs who, after previously being tethered to their mic stands, are now on radio mics and have the freedom to dance around. We were concerned that we wouldn’t have enough spectrum available for everything, but we went to Axient for the radio mic systems and for the guitars and bass, the latter having a much narrower bandwidth



Production Rigger Jerry Hough; Camera Director Dylan Etherington; Monitor Engineer Dave Guerin; RF Tech Ben Shapiro of Brown Note Productions.

per channel and therefore freeing up more air space for the IEM systems. I’ve been extremely happy with the results.” The Humanz tour has been yet another exciting chapter in Entec’s long history with Gorillaz’ band leader and the company’s support is valued highly by crew and production management alike. “It’s great having [head of sound] Jonny Clark at Entec; we’re clearly all on the same side… he’s one of us,” Guerin pointed out. “I had a problem a couple of days ago and texted Jonny. He was immediately on the case and had someone here with me this morning to solve the issue without the slightest fuss.” Guerin stated: “Damon is still on wedges. It was mostly to clean the sound up on stage. The more wedges you have on stage, the more sound sources there are on stage. Some of the band had done it before the ones who hadn’t got used to it in rehearsals. The only one not on click, again, is Damon, who is actually singing. “We’re using Shure transmitters as we found them to be the best, so we use Shure radio mics too. We had about 47 channels and it was easier to go to the newer, digital radio mics because they have narrower bandwidths and you get more within the same frequency range. Shapiro added: “The whole band is running on IEMs apart from Damon. There’s 26 channels of our stereo, we also have 20 channels of the Shure Axient wireless system. We adopted that for the UK tour because we had a large increase in channel count so it made sense to use a new system. You can fit more frequencies into a small space, so it was a no-brainer. We’re running 20 channels on mics and guitars and the whole thing is tied together with Waves LV1’s.

that come along with their unique sound. We’ve spent a lot of time with Damon, and a lot of the time with the studio engineers who have recorded it and mixed the album. Chopping up sounds, sampling keyboards, getting sounds off the album, recreating them live, so the whole production and live repertoire sounds as like the album as possible, and even better, that extra 10% in the flesh,” he smiled. Hamwee is monitoring over 60 channels. To keep the audio quality true, a digital signal path runs through all the samples, tracks and keyboard sounds, as well as the triggered drum sounds. Analogue back-ups are switched in via a Macro, the main inputs being MADI via an Orange Box to the Optocore. While Andy has direct control of the SD11i, I control it via an iPad app. Andy also has a FOH mix into the SD11i and he’s able to check that everything on the tracks is audible in the FOH mix and advise on any levels that may need to be adjusted. “By moving all the shout inputs and outputs to the SD11i, it means I’m not quite fully maxed out on the SD7, which is why I’m able to fit some additional performers on there like the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. Having spare resources on the SD11i means we can split the shout system so that Andy and another tech can line check all the keys and their MIDI, while at the same time I can line check everything else with [Entec’s] James ‘Kedge’ Kerridge, our stage tech, without talking over each other. “In fact, Kedge has been a great ally in all of this. As well as mixing monitors for the support act, Little Simz [who collaborated on the song Garage Palace], he is on a headset throughout the show and looks after the cables. He will often relay stage instructions back to me for mix adjustments.” Entec’s package also included DiGiCo SD12’s for the support’s FOH and monitor mixes. The audio team was completed by James Kerridge, Head of Stage; Chris Speirs RF2, Monitor Tech; Colin Woodward, Stage Left PA Tech, Kev Smith and Stage Right PA Tech. Production Manager, Joel Stanley, joined the conversation: “Working with Entec has been really good and it’s a pleasure to be dealing with Jonny. No request has ever been too big. Whenever we have identified a

PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM! Andrew Hamwee, Playback Tech, is the man looking after all the backing tracks, which in Gorillaz world, is a mighty task done via the SD11i. “I deal with the programming and compiling of new songs, mainly. There’s a lot of new songs on the road and a lot of the time, we rework a old ones too. All of Gorillaz songs are quite complex; there’s a number of sounds and samples 28


Stage Manager Ethan Merfy with PM Joel Stanley; Automation Engineer Blaine Dracup.

piece of equipment that we desperately need, Entec has ensured that if they don’t have it in stock, they will purchase it without hesitation. They’ve been solid and I feel like we consistently have their complete attention.” The sentiment was echoed by Monitor Engineer Dave Guerin: “Entec are great, I wouldn’t go anywhere without them!”

“I met Craig Duffy during a Russell Watson tour, and he then asked me to come and work for him.” These days, although Clark enjoys the culinary delights of tour caterers’ The Pantry Maid, she’ll typically be found looking after hotel accommodation for the band. “I love hotels, I’m probably a hotel nerd… I just get so into it. I like finding like cool places for them to stay, and it becomes a real challenge when the numbers are this big, but I definitely seek out the little gems.” Clarke was a gem in her own right when, upon finishing a Duran Duran tour as a Production Coordinator, she moved to New York after accepting a job with the band’s management firm. “I missed the road. I just love being in different cities and meeting new people all the time. I don’t like being behind a desk, unless the desk is in a different city every day, and then I can cope with it!” she noted. “Holly Sandeman, our Production Assistant and I have basically been in each other’s shadows for 3 years now; we spend most of our time together. I love working with her, she’s the best. I think most people will tell you that they have solid pal on every tour… I have just happened to have toured the world for 3 years with mine.” Home for the bands on the tarmac came courtesy of Richard PriceDeer, of tour bus supplier Jumbo Cruiser. He stated: “It was a great tour for us to be involved in, with 6 of our newest vehicles on the road with them. Gorillaz tour & production management are a great team, and Craig and Joel have been a pleasure to work with. Logistically there were some long and hard drives for our drivers, so a lot of planning was involved on our side to ensure our busses ran to precision; at one stage there were 18 drivers working on this one tour for us! It all went smoothly, the band and crew reached every destination ahead of scheduled arrival times, and we were immensely proud to be a part of such a well-executed tour.” It seems the sentiment is felt unanimously… The Humanz tour heads to Mexico for the first stop on its South American run until the end of March, before beginning the festival circuit with Rock Am Ring & Rock Im Park. TPi Photos: Andrew Benge, Tony Woolliscroft & TPi

STAGE HANDS “I was an economics major and took a semester off to build these stages in Asia… here I am 26 years later!” laughed Stage Manager, Ethan Merfy. “I guess I’m not a behind-the-desk sort of person and I feel very fortunate to do what I do.” Merfy was drafted into the Gorillaz camp when the ill-fated Linkin Park One More Light tour was cut short due to the tragic passing of singer Chester Bennington. He continued: “I enjoy this camp, it’s made up of a bunch of really good people. I knew the rigger so I reached out to him and he told me how welcoming everyone was, so it was a no-brainer. I’m the only American on this tour, but he was right, everyone was very welcoming. Joel had wanted to work with me for some time, and vice versa, and for one reason or another, this time it worked - and it’s been a great experience.” Merfy’s day-to-day duties include being in control of the floor from when the first truck door is opened. A lot of the stuff I deal with on a show of this size actually has nothing to do with being on the stage, but rather facilitating the end of goal of making the stage come together correctly. Managing the gear from the trucks, to making sure everyone has a safe space to work in, to making sure we have storage readily available should we need it. There’s a lot of equipment and a lot of people involved in this production, and I believe a lot of my time is spent ensuring that I stay one step ahead of any problems before they potentially arise.” HOME COMFORTS AND FAMILY VIBES Orla Clarke, Tour Director Assistant, has been with the band since their Return To Plastic Beach tour 7 years ago, and describes it having been like Wacky Races in the years that have followed. “We went around the world with Gorillaz, then we did the blur reunion tour before this production, so we’re sort of like family at this point,” Clark told TPi. She first entered into the lifestyle via the kitchen, and is now clearly a mainstay for a lot of her touring family, who rightly told me Orla would make me laugh throughout our interview. [“It’s Orla, don’t let spell checker change my name to Oral; that happens too often!”]. Her love for home comforts while not in fact being at home has led here… “I love baking and travelling, and I was trying to figure out how to bake my around the world. I ended up helping my friend’s mum cater one year at Glastonbury, and the rest is history. I actually think catering is one of the hardest jobs on the road; the hours are so long, but it’s also the job where you get to know everybody and you hear everything. You’re literally at the heart of it all, like any good kitchen,” she smiled. “My first ever tour was with Michael Bublé, it was so much fun; I just used to feed the Canadians cake and they loved me for it!” she laughed. 29


IBIZA CLASSICS While electronic / orchestra crossover concerts seem to be all the rage these days, it certainly seemed to resonate that little bit extra with punters when The Heritage Orchestra, conducted by Jules Buckley, was chosen to provide a high-brow twist to a selection of club anthems curated and performed by the legendary Pete Tong and his hand-picked band of musicians and guest vocalists.


Production Manager, Keely Myers, was appointed relatively last-minute by Tour Director, Paddy Hocken, who has been at the helm since the start of 2017. Myers began: “Paddy appointed the suppliers earlier in the year, but they are all ones that we have a long history of working with. While they’ve been doing festivals in summer and arena shows in other continents already, this version of the show is quite different and certainly more evolved. The production has grown in size as well, particularly since the addition of the automated screens, extra cameras and a larger stage.” Although Myers wasn’t that familiar with the recent wave of orchestra / electronic shows due to a busy schedule of her own, she soon learned both the idiosyncrasies of such a production and the market that now surrounded her. She said: “Of course there are going to be surprises when 2 worlds collide but it’s not been too dissimilar from your usual rock ‘n’ roll show the fundamentals are the same. It’s true there are certain rules that apply to the orchestra in terms of unions or working hours but that has been the case for other shows I have worked on, like Children In Need Rocks. Essentially it’s just a lot of people on stage and more of a challenge to move them around in the meantime. Between myself, Jules, Chris Wheeler and Orchestra Production Manager, Claire Wackrow, we make sure everything is running smoothly.” Despite the size of the undertaking for Myers and her team, the crew were only afforded 4 days of production rehearsals in LH2 while the band and orchestra were in Music Bank. The entire production then only had a single day to rehearse under the same roof. Myers remembered: “We were in a great position after rehearsals, even though we didn’t have much time. It’s always nice to have opportunity to finesse things but we’ve done so much in a short space of time.”

Cassius Creative was charged with refining the show’s look from the previous run, ably assisted by show content from Silent Studios; lighting, rigging and automation from Neg Earth; video by Video Design; lasers from ER Productions; and an imposing stage and riser package from All Access Staging & Productions. The show’s euphoria-inducing audio package came from Skan PA Hire, while orchestra-specific IEM came from Next Level Audio and backline came from John Henry’s and Frontline Music. Logistical support for the tour came from Phoenix Bussing and Transam, the latter of which supplied 3 52ft ‘Big Boys’ and 6 45ft trucks, with Bittersweet Catering feeding 150 people per day for dinner. H&S backing came from Piper Event Services, while Radiotek ensured on-site comms ran smoothly and The Tour Company got the substantial crew from A to B. Myers gave her take on the organisational challenges that faced her and the rest of the crew on this short but complex run of shows. “I came up with some interesting bus splits and a truck schedule to overcome hold ups on load-out,” she began. “One bus leaves for the next venue a bit earlier, so on their arrival next morning can start tipping trucks and markout. Stage Manager, Dave Murphy and Head Rigger Amos Cotter are part of the advance team allowing myself, asst. SM Mark Berryman and Rigger Chris ‘Karrit’ Harris to stay back to make sure the load out goes to plan.” She continued: “Paul at Bittersweet has done a fantastic job as well - it’s not easy to feed this many people every day! We have a system down for that too; with allocated time slots to eat dinner for crew and orchestra. “Our Production Co-Ordinator, Amanda Davies, has been a constant on this run and fantastic to work with, as has our Production Assistant, Victoria Bunney, who assists on my other tours. Their support in the office really has been invaluable for the duration the tour. And I have to say a massive thank you to all of the crew and suppliers who, as always, offer consistent support.” 32


CASSIUS CREATIVE Dates in Australia and the US marked the last outings of the previous Ibiza Classics look, leaving show Show Designers Chris ‘Squib’ Swain and Dan Hill of Cassius Creative to conjure the ultimate Balearic nostalgia trip. Squib explained: “We’ve been involved with Ibiza Classics since November 2016 and this is its third incarnation. It’s taken us a while to figure out what exactly it is; we deal with pop stars and bands that usually have quite a defined visual identity. We’ve taken things that worked before like the lasers and live video, but everything is more refined, more polished. “We realised there were three key elements that were important. The first was Ibiza itself - our crowd are mostly a bit older and have probably spent some time there, and all the songs are an homage to that place. There’s an element of nostalgia we wanted to introduce, without being corny. As management said during production rehearsals; the star of the show is Ibiza. Tong was particularly keen to ensure that all aspects of the island were displayed throughout the night, with almost as much screen time given to the nature and beauty of Ibiza as to its iconic nightspots. Squib revealed: “If we started this in May we would have sent a filmographer to Ibiza with a shopping list of shots to get for us but we couldn’t get over there before closing parties. We still managed to get some drone footage of the beaches and old town that’s quite contemporary. We also offset this with the footage we used for Yeke Yeke, which was sourced from a Channel 4 documentary from 1992; that’s probably the ‘clubbiest’ bit of the show.” The second factor for Squib to consider was the sheer visual impact of having so many musicians on stage. “That dictated how much live footage we used on the screens,” he said. “We wanted to a crowd that might not necessarily be used to a live orchestra just how each component works. This ties into the third aspect; which is lighting the show practically. We have some orchestra moments, some clubby moments, and a few that are a mixture of both. It’s all about using the lighting to balance those

components and making sure the audience can see them.” Although there wasn’t a cut and dry narrative that ran throughout the show, Cassius Creative made sure to add a handful of touchstones during the set. Squib said: “We start off with footage of a plane landing in Ibiza, then the second song is of the sunset. The content is a bit more fluid until the final song, which sees the sun coming up again. It’s not very rigid, more like little bookends for the show. “There are no gags during the show as we knew we didn’t need any we have the ultimate gag just by having a full orchestra on stage. Even so, we’ve been conscious to purposely turn the video off a few songs, just to allow the lasers to breathe and the audience’s eyes to rest a bit.” The show designer went on to discuss the thought behind the commanding video presence that loomed large behind Tong and the scores of musicians below him. He explained: “It always had to be big, but we wanted something more architecturally interesting than just a massive slab of video. We ended up going with 4 horizontal screens that could move to give us some flexibility. We can hide and reveal lights with it and the surface area means we can make good use of the Notch looks.” The automated components of the lighting rig consisted of 34 Robe BMFL Spots, 2 BMFL Followspots, 32 LED Beam 150’s, 31 Claypaky Mythos, and 72 GLP impression X4 Bar 20’s. Cassius Creative also specified a number of effect features including 32 SGM Q7’s, 18 TMB Solaris Flares, 5 Martin by Harman 32cm Sceptrons, and 6 100cm Sceptrons. Lighting Crew Chief, Adam Morris, commented: “It’s quite a straightforward rig to be honest; we have 4 straight trusses over the stage, as well as a front truss and side hangs. We have to play nicely together with all of the other departments during the rig and de-rig because everything is moving and there’s video and lasers intertwined with the lighting. We’ve got a nice system going by now, which means that everyone can get on with it quickly and safely.” He continued: “Without the rolling stage we’d be working up until doors




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Above: Becky Hill lends her vocals to one of the evening’s subtler moments, Sing It Back.

every night but we fly the rig early and can run out the floor lights before it rolls. The side hangs and front truss are pre-rigged and all stage Claypaky Mythos and X4 Bars are outrigged, which saves time again. It’s all clicking nicely now - when it gets to that point it’s great. “Interdepartmental cooperation is something that I very much enjoy. I don’t like gigs where everyone doesn’t see the big picture; but you have to on this because there’s so much stuff in such a small space. We’ve all said we’d love to tour this for longer than we are as it’s such a nice crew and a great-looking production.” He continued to describe some of the more complex aspects of this inter-departmental cooperation: “I’ve never seen this amount of integration with video and the Kinesys system before. The video guys are taking all of the positional information from the Kinesys software and feeding it into the disguise media servers in order to map the video content. This makes all of the on-screen content stay in the same position, relative to the movement of the trusses - kind of like projection mapping but with LED screens!” This somewhat complicated the networking side of things for Morris and his crew, with their Kinesys data being sent to the video crew and an ArtNet feed coming the other way. “Our rig is being controlled by the MA Lighting grandMA2, using SACN, and then video is sending an ArtNet feed, which we merge with some of the universes to control the X4 Bars above the screens. They are pixel mapped to match the video content underneath, which gives a really tight beam to bridge any gaps between the screens as they move. Unfinished Sympathy, for example, has this water scene on the video content and the X4s make it look like its tricking down the trusses.” Another standout in the rig for Morris was Robe’s RoboSpot system, which was used in conjunction with BMFL FollowSpot. He said: “As well as making things safer by negating the need for crewmembers in the air, it also means we don’t lose people on the load-in; not to mention the fact that it gives the guys at FOH full control.” The lighting crew was completed by Lighting Operator, Jordon Cooper;

Automation, Andy Beller; Andrew ‘Jurgen’ Munford, Tom Bailey, and Tim Spilman. VIDEO The video content was displayed on a set of moving LED screens immediately upstage of the on-stage musicians. Veteran Video Director, Mark Davies, was shooting the show, with all video equipment and camera system provided by Video Design. “This was no ordinary arena show,” began Davies. “In simple terms, there was no room for a camera track in the pit as the subs needed to be placed in advance of the downstage edge to help isolate the musicians from low frequency energy. Despite this, a track-based system in that position was essential if I was to be able to convey all the visual dynamics of this high-energy show. Fortunately, Video Design has been working closely with Bradley, using their excellent robocams to produce just the solution I needed. The new Bradley tracking camera proved a great alternative. In fact, the experience was so good that if this situation occurs again I would use even more of them.” A standard 48mm diameter scaff pipe rigged to the front stage edge was all that the camera system needed. “It’s that easy to rig,” said Davies, “And that makes it really useful - it takes up almost no room. Luke Collins from Video Design operated the cameras remotely for me and he was excellent. That took care of the pit shots, but the other big difficulty with shooting an orchestra is that there are music stands everywhere, which blocks angles. To get clean shots you need to be up high, but a tower camera or a jib of some size on stage was just not a practical consideration. Again, tracking robocams rigged high up the sides of stage were a perfect alternative. Unobtrusive, they were barely visible on stage by comparison with the conventional alternative. You can also control the cameras using DMX so it’s a simple thing to hook them into a BlackTrax system for sophisticated programming of motion and focus if you need to.” Cutting for such a wide screen format also provided its own 34

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conundrums for Davies. “The screen surfaces were essentially in 2 parts; IMAG to either side of stage, to which I fed 100% of the show; and an upstage set of 4 tracking landscape LED screens that moved under Kinesys control. There were 4 songs where IMAG was used on the stage screens so, in effect; I needed to think about 2 distinct cuts simultaneously, which took a while to get my head around!” He continued: “Otherwise the rear LED ran content, which I have to say was beautiful. Programmed by Jack Banks and Nathan under the direction of Dan and Squib from Cassius Creative, the result was really slick. Luckily for me, between the 2 different cuts, the framing stayed the same, which made things easier. A lot of what was used on the back screens needed to be more mid-shot to work, so it was not exactly straightforward. It all went very smoothly, particularly considering we had just 1 day of rehearsals. We went straight into 5 flawless shows in 4 venues, back-to-back. That’s measure of how good the delivery is from Video Design and the great crews they put together.”

a versatile rig at his disposal, ER’s Andrew Turner, who programmed the lasers, created a range of unique looks for each track in the set list. “The Kinekts are great, we’re really happy with them,” commented Squib. “Andrew and Seth [Griffiths, Laser Operator for ER] both did a great job of programming and the lasers themselves are a big step up; we used to have just 4 standard heads but now we have them, plus 2 rows of Kinekts. It’s made the laser looks huge; Pete and his management both commented how incredible it looks. “I’ve seen people try and use lasers alongside lights or video, but they are really at their best when you turn everything off. We light Insomnia in the classic green - which we wouldn’t usually do, but it’s meant to feel nostalgic. Kind of a nod to the pre-RGB lasers and that era rather than something cheesy.” Griffiths looked after the laser show on the tour, which ran to timecode using Palgolin software. He explained: “The Kinekts are good for this as they are so small and compact, and the cabling allows them to be linked up together, rather than running individual lines to each laser. This means it’s quicker to rig them and their size means they are less likely to move around on the truss.” While laser shows can occasionally be an cause of anxiety for performers on stage, the Ibiza Classics show had the added twist of someone on stage [Conductor, Jules Buckley] that was facing the units for the duration of the evening. Griffiths said: “I zone them up over the orchestra and terminate on downstage edge, just underneath shoulder height on Jules. I tweak them so they don’t go too high and, as long as the person is aware there will be a lot of lasers hitting them, it’s always fine. I’ve had chats with a few of the musicians that weren’t used to it, to make sure they don’t move and they are reassured at all times. It’s important that people feel safe on stage, so they can perform to the best of their ability.” He continued: “The lasers are always the fun moment and you know you are always going to see a lot of them on Instagram. I like how balanced and well thought out the show is; video, lighting, and lasers all have their

LASERS Laser system design specialist, ER Productions, has a long history of working with Pete Tong and his management team on a variety of projects. Cassius Creative visited ER in 2016 to check the out company’s latest innovations and flesh out the creative direction for the show. “Having collaborated with Cassius on countless projects in the past, we instinctively knew the technologies that would whet their appetite and our latest fixture Kinekt didn’t disappoint,” said Ryan Hagan, Co-founder of ER Productions. Impressed by its compact size, capable output and versatility, Cassius specified 28 Kinekt fixtures to create a central laser feature, which surrounded the scores of musicians on stage. To create the look, the Kinekts were split into 2 groups, with 14 attached to trusses above the stage and 14 rigged across the downstage edge. A third zone of lasers was installed using 4 of ER’s newly launched Storm fixtures, which created larger and more detailed aerial effects. With such 36






21000 lm


Above: Production Manager, Keely Myers; Skan PA’s Lee McMahon; Stage Manager, Dave Murphy; Cassius Creative’s Chris ‘Squib’ Swain; ER’s Seth Griffiths.

moments. Squib is great at keeping the room dark and pumping loads of smoke in for the laser moment. It’s nice to work with someone that appreciates what we do.” A hefty smoke package comprised of 6 ER Viper deLuxes, while 4 Unique Hazers provided the all-important atmospheric effects. Hagan concluded: “This show is a trip down memory lane for many of those involved in the production. It has been loads of fun and we are very proud to be on board during 2018.”

there that are sentimentally important to the musicians and sometimes worth as much as a house! It’s a daunting task, so we have started letting the audio boys get on there and take care of it uninterrupted.” Head Carpenter, Joe Cottrell, gave a more detailed analysis of the 72ft wide x 40ft deep rolling stage: “As well as the sheer size of it, we have tiered orchestra platforms ranging from 8ft to 1.6ft. We come in the morning and build back to front all the way down, at the same time as rigging call. We are one of the first in and the last out of the arena, as usual! “The on-stage stuff is where it gets more complicated because of the height we are working at. There’s are a real focus on safety. It was just a case of doing everything slower to get technique right, then refining the process each day. “The 8ft tier requires platforms to work on, as it’s right at the back of the stage, so there’s a falling risk. We are lifting a 4ft x 8ft deck over the top of our heads so there’s a risk of that slipping and going the wrong way. We just have to be conscious of where we are and who is around us. “We have 10 local crew guys for the in and out and we have got a good rhythm going now. Nick Breen and myself are both experienced enough and it’s been really good Murphy concluded: “It’s only been a short and sweet tour but it’s been great to work with and learn from people from different backgrounds. Seeing how the orchestra managers - what we call the backline techs, even though they are so much more than that - go about things has been particularly interesting.”

STAGING Stage Manager, Dave Murphy, was tasked with making sure the complex load-ins and outs went like clockwork each day in spite of the variables thrown his way. “During the summer we had 47 people on stage, and to make sure we had a show, sometime back-to-back, with this level of production was quite bonkers at times. You have to ensure that people who aren’t used to touring feel comfortable going on stage and performing in front of all these. The 47 has now risen to almost 70, with a brand new look, but we don’t do this job for the easy gigs do we!” Murphy was first on floor each day with Head Rigger, Amos Cotter, to arrange the trucks, set an unloading order, and coordinate the rigging process. “We then start bringing out the lights and divide up crew,” he said. “On this we have a lot of automation, video, and lighting so there’s quite a lot to manage. We had to work out a system for the 4 moving video screens as it requires a lot of people to be working in close proximity. “We decided to stagger them so the lighting and video departments could leapfrog each other but there are so few shows that there’s not much chance to develop a rhythm. We’ve had to find where the pinch points are in a short space of time but it’s been really smooth so far.” Once Murphy has overseen the build, he then prepares to hand over to Orchestra Production Manager, Claire Wackrow. Murphy commented: “She brings the orchestra on in sections, all in space of 15 mins, so it’s a case of making sure we stick to that. She has a minute-by-minute plan of the show, and then as soon as Jules and Pete are off stage it’s back over to me. “As well as the intricate audio gear on stage, there are instruments on

AUDIO FOH Engineer Tom Gelissen’s experience of the tour began on something of a sour note; if only for the fact that he was forced to miss the first day of rehearsals thanks to the combination of a cancelled plane and the near shutdown of transport across Europe. He said: “It was a long first day for me but we caught up thanks to some hard work from everyone involved. The audience are dancing every night and that’s the important thing!” Gelissen, something of a specialist in electronic / orchestra crossovers, gave himself a further challenge when he decided to swap consoles at 38




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Above: Head Carpenter, Joe Cottrell; Tom Tunney, Tom Gelissen and Ron Peeters; The Ibiza Classics lighting crew; Video Director, Mark Davies.

the last minute - subbing in an Avid S6L only 2 days before we met him at Manchester Arena. “I primarily did it for sound reasons,” he said. “I’ve reprogrammed everything now so it’s all working great. We have a full orchestra to look after, as well as Pete and the band, so it’s a lot of channels to say the least. “As well as sounding great, the S6L is very fast and easy to navigate, even with this amount of channels. You can lay everything out many different ways and you don’t lose any sound quality if you go to the groups, with everything staying time-aligned.” The engineer’s mantra for mixing the show was: “Balance, balance, balance.” He added: “I create a pyramid in how I control everything; from channel level, to groups, to the full orchestra. It’s all about the layers of detail. On one hand you have to make everything audible but you also have to create a certain impact. We still want to make people dance, which is a special thing about this show. “Some people expect to sit down and watch the orchestra but our crowd want to move, and to help facilitate that you need kick drum and you need bass. With that in mind, you still can’t get carried away chasing a loud groove because you want to hear all the details; both from the orchestra and the additional specifics that are key to each record. I programme more and more but I like to balance on hand because it means you are still creating music and push things on the spot, particularly if the crowd react to a certain theme.” The majority of these iconic hooks were either triggered by Tong or the live band, who were armed with a selection of Roland SP-DSXs, drum machines, synthesisers, and a hard-working Ableton rig. With the new show design came a number of new songs, which pushed Gelissen to be more economic with his time. “It’s so expensive to rehearse with an orchestra that you have to be very well prepared. Mixes are already done on monitors before they play the first note. Lighting, video and lasers are all running to timecode but we just have the musicians going to a click; which is enough of an achievement in itself.” Audio Crew Chief, Tom Tunney, gave a rundown of the system: “We have a full d&b audiotechnik SL-Series, with main and side hangs of 16 boxes, and an additional 4 GSL12’s on the bottom of main hangs to get wider

coverage in the centre. We also have some Y10P front fills and 16 SL-GSUBs in the pit, underneath the stage in a sub arc. “With the new boxes you get a wider usable dispersion than with the older ones because it’s the same frequency response all the way around now, as apposed to being a bit more woolly round the sides. We use ArrayCalc and ArrayProcessing to sculpt the room more than we have before. “The subs are brilliant as well; I love how smooth the top end is. This is nice and smooth throughout without ripping your head of. It might sound a little less sparkly, which some people might have to get sued to, but it’s definitely more accurate.” Gelissen interjected: “I like it for that reason! Most PAs sound really bright and that impresses you at first, but you start mixing and have to take things out or clean up the top end because there’s too much happening. Now you have a nice smooth PA and if you want to boost one source like a vocal or specific instrument, you can do that.” He continued: “A great feature of this new system is that it’s a cardioid box, so it cancels more sound on the back, which in turn benefits all of the stage inputs. We have 140 mics open on stage, so everything in the room is being picked up by them - including the crowd noise - so whatever we can cancel on stage is a plus.” Other new toys included in the crew’s SL-Series package were humidity and temperature sensors attached to the flying frames. Tunney explained: “Directly above the first few rows it gets hot and sweaty but above that it’s completely different. ArrayProcessing relies on temperature and humidity for its algorithms so this addition has made life a lot easier. There is also a laser from the top of array that shows exactly how high in the bowl it is firing.” As single racks were unlikely to cut it on a gig of this scale, everything was built up into carts that both simplified and sped up load-ins and outs. The patch cart itself was 4ft x 6ft x 2.5m and contained all stage racks for the consoles, all 144 channels of patch in the middle, and all of the sat looms on top, coiled up and ready to deploy on stage. The substantial RF inventory and additional amp racks were housed in a separate cart. Skan PA’s Lee McMahon, who looked after the carts, RF, monitor world 40

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and served as stage fire-fighter during the show, gave an insight into this intricate set up. He began: “We build the stage right from the load-in; get every mic and stand out and work our way down from the top tier. There are about 50 DPA 4099’s just in the first 3 rows - we leave that until last where the foot traffic is the least. There are so many inputs, mics and stands that it becomes a team effort to get it all ready, but once the stage rolls I can focus on looking after the RF, mic handling and spotting for Ron [Peeters, Monitor Engineer]; essentially trying to pre-empt any issues that might arise.” He continued: “I don’t have a tech mix during the show so I just listen to Ron; we’ve got a really good working relationship now. As soon as we hear a squeak, pop or rustle, and providing I can get in there, we can respond accordingly. He’ll mute the channel, inform FOH and I will try to isolate it. “I have a box of spare DPA clips, 4099 preamps and XLR cables, but sometimes, if the problem is right in the centre, it’s just physically impossible to get to it. Then it’s a case of waiting until the load-out to try and resolve the problem.” He concluded: “You just have to say hats off to the team at Skan for designing a really efficient system that makes this gig easy. I’ve done similar shows where a standard line system configuration has been ratchet strapped together and it’s a pain - you’ve still got multiple racks, multiple splits - it’s just chaos. Obviously there’s always room for refinement but a lot of that is based on muscle memory and, unfortunately, we’re nearly finished already!”

pre-mix the strings and orchestra. “I feed a few stems and they can make their own mix, dial in their own instrument and click to each section on the interface,” he said. Peeters continued: “It’s around 140 inputs and maybe 70 mix buses. We have the 2 desks in an Optocore loop so I can send mixes from the orchestra into the SD7 and also have direct outs from all the DPAs on the string section over fibre to the desk, and then merge them into the monitor system.” The band and guests were on Sennheiser SR 2050 IEMs, while a smattering of wedges were used for Tong and Buckley. For Tong in particular, an ingenious method was used to mimic the iconic (and neckstraining) headphone swapping that is synonymous with the DJs in Ibiza’s prime. Peeters said: “For Pete we have a radio pack that he can switch to engineer mode in order to pre-listen to a separate channel. It’s a nice feature.” He continued: “The band’s mixes aren’t that specific; it’s just a case of striking a nice balance. It’s more the whole setup that is complex, but the component parts are relatively simple. I’m really familiar with the SD7 and it’s fast, efficient and flexible; not to mention the fact that it sounds great.” The audio crew on site was completed by Onno Ooms, Alvin Russ, and Fred den Dulk, who managed the myMix system. TPi Photos: Anthony Mooney, Carsten Windhorst and Ryan Johnston

MONITORS Monitor Engineer Ron Peeters, who works for the Heritage Orchestra year-round, was already well tuned in to how the show was going to work. The keystone of his setup was the orchestra’s use of the myMix system - a decentralised, network-based, audio mixing system for up to 500 audio channels that is based on having a dedicated user interfaces for each musician. The system, provided by Next Level Audio, allowed each orchestra member to fine tune their individual IEM mix from their own chair, and meant Peeters could channel his attention. He said: “There are a lot of people on stage but the myMix system means I can focus on the band, Pete, Jules, and any soloists or guest vocalists. The orchestra are used to it now as we introduced it 2 years ago and use it on other projects besides Ibiza Classics. The great thing is that it enables us to deal with so many channels; not many systems are capable of handling this many.” Peeters opted for a DiGiCo SD7 at monitors with an additional SD11 to 42



Opposite: Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme once again led his band of faithful musicians and crewmembers on the Villains world tour.

QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE There are many reasons you may want to pursue a touring career; pure wanderlust, a passion for live events or just a rejection of the traditional 9 to 5 lifestyle. Some who call the road home embark on this journey in the hopes of perhaps one day working for their favourite band. Late last year, Stew Hume’s TPi got to meet a handful of men and women who achieved this particular goal.

For over 2 decades, Queens of the Stone Age (QOTSA) have been labelled everything, from stoner rock to alternative, producing 7 studio albums and garnering the praise of critics and the wider rock community. Despite several line-up changes, one constant throughout the various renditions of QOTSA is the devil-may-care attitude of frontman Josh Homme who, once again, led his band of faithful musicians and crewmembers on the Villains world tour. After 2 American legs, the band made their way to Europe, playing an array of venue sizes, and culminating in a UK arena run. As TPi met the various components of the QOTSA touring machine, it was clear just how many of the crew were fulfilling a dream by collecting this particular tour laminate.

couldn’t believe her luck to be on this tour. “I’ve been with the band for the last 3 weeks, afer meeting Rob when the band passed through this year’s Cal Jam,” she said while unpacking her brand new, bright pink, Peli Case - who said touring can’t be stylish? “The tour so far has been amazing. It’s great to be touring Europe in these arenas.” GOD IS IN THE RADIO Those who witnessed QOTSA’s latest UK invasion were bound to notice the massive wall of vintage guitar cabinets on stage. “In total they have about 5,600kg of backline equipment,” stated Highcroft. “The gear they have is incredibly specific with vintage cabs and heads making an A and B system almost impossible. It’s key to the band’s sound, so we plan around this from the set design to our logistical planning. With many productions you will have to work around some elaborate stage designs but it’s nice for a band to put their music and equipment at the forefront.” Both Highcroft and Dunnett have worked towards maximising the efficiency of handling such a bulk of vintage gear. “I remember when Rob and I rocked up on our first day in the States we got a feel of just how much backline the band had - most of which was still in individual cases,” commented Dunnett. One of the 3 backline techs for the band was Wayne Faler who handled guitarist, Troy Van Leeuwen and keys player, Dean Fertita. Starting out last year while QOTSA toured with Iggy Pop, Fertita lent a hand during the recording of Villains and “naturally transitioned” to their road crew. The wall of amps certainly had some elements that would excite any vintage guitar lover, including several from EchoPark’s line, and even a reissue Magnaton. Discussing the impressive arsenal, Faler outlined some of the technical challenges for the backline team. “During the show all the amps are live, which can create some issues with gain structures. Also touring with vintage gear can lead to some surprises.” Although, as Faler

...LIKE CLOCKWORK Rob Highcroft led the production. No stranger to the pages of TPi, the PM was last seen with British metallers Bring Me the Horizon. As Sheffield’s finest take a break, Highcroft took up QOTSA’s management offer to oversee the Villains tour. “I got a call just over 2 weeks before the first tour of the cycle started,” began Highcroft, backstage at Manchester Arena. “Admittedly there was a lot to catch up on but we soon got in the swing of things. The last few months have been great. The band are a pleasure to work for!” For the UK run, Highcroft employed the services of Eighth Day Sound, Christie Lites, Creative Technology, All Access Staging & Productions, Outback Rigging and Bittersweet Catering. For travel and logistics, the PM used Rock-It Cargo, The Appointment Group, Beat the Street and Transam Trucking. Highcroft wasn’t the only member new to QOTSA. Two other fresh faces, who TPi met in the production office, were Stage Manager, Jack Dunnett, and Production Assistant, Vanessa Correa. “It was great to get the call to work for Queens when Rob rang,” began Dunnett. Correa admitted she still 45


Production Manager, Rob Highcroft; Stage Manager, Jack Dunnett; LD Emmanuelle ‘Gigi’ Pedron; Production Assistant, Vanessa Correa, and her famous pink Peli case.

stated with a smile; “that’s all part of the fun.” He continued: “QOTSA are the furthest thing from a digital amp band. They like to have control of their volume and have the ability to tweak their tone without having to put their head into a rack unit. There are certainly flaws in some of this older gear but that’s all part of the charm and very much in keeping with the guys’ style. It’s the imperfections that add the flavour!”

per side, and 6 J-SUBs flown per side. Also included were 2 stacks of 3 B22 ground subs and 16 J-8’s per side for side hangs. For those fighting for their place at the barricade, there was a centre cluster of 8 V8’s and lip fills of 8 Y10’s. Across the board, d&b D80 amplifiers were used to power the system. Out front, Bennett utilised a Solid State Logic L500 Plus console alongside Waves Soundgrid and a Waves MGO MADI optical to Soundgrid interface for input and outputs. To replicate several of the effects from the album, the FOH Engineer used the Eventide H9 effects processor. Aiding Bennett each day was the Eighth Day crew, consisting of Andrew Gilchrest on FOH Audio Tech duty, and PA techs Daniel Buckley and Ben Sliwinski. Behind his DiGiCo SD7, handling the onstage mix and the band’s in-ear

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Guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen and multi-instrumentalist Dean Fertita, both of whom were looked after by Backline Tech Wayne Faler; Monitor Engineer, Spencer Jones.

mixes was Monitor Engineer, Spencer Jones. Another long-time fan of the band, Jones pulled out all the stops to secure his space on the crew roster. “Earlier in the year I had already put myself forward for the FOH Engineer role but once I heard Stewart was already in place I asked if they had found a Monitor Engineer. There was a few weeks of silence but then got a call to see if I would like the gig and fly out to LA the next day for rehearsals - I dropped everything and bought my ticket!” On stage Jones handled the mixture of IEM and side fills for stage sound. The band and 3 techs used JH Audio JH16 with Shure PSM 1000’s. For side fills, Jones had 2 d&b audiotechnik V-8’s and a J-SUB each side with a further J-SUB for drummer, Jon Theodore. “After 5 months we have settled into a nice rhythm and I know what each of the guys likes,” commented Jones. “But I still like to try new things, especially with Jon behind the kit, as it gets fairly loud there. For each song I have a snapshot - although the mix doesn’t vary a great deal apart from the keys that can be more dominate in certain tunes. Josh’s in-ears, in particular, I treat more as a FOH mix, altering to the venue we are in and reacting to certain crowd moments.” Jones explained there was little need for wedges thanks to the wall of guitar cabinets on the upstage. “A lot of the band are using smaller cabinets rather than full stacks but they still pack a punch,” commented the engineer. “Through the tour we have worked out positioning for each cabinet to minimise as much bleed as possible to the vocal microphones.” Mike Veres, Monitor Tech, added: “Stewart, our FOH Engineer, came up with another solution to minimise spill and slap back by deploying a foam product behind the amp. Especially between Troy’s 2 rigs this helped isolate each of the mics.” The Telefunken M80 was chosen for vocal microphones across the stage due to its “tight pattern and condenser-like HF,” according to Bennett. “They have worked out great,” added Jones. “They were using another

brand on the last cycle but were open to change.” The Monitor Engineer went on to talk about the rest of the stage. “On most of the guitar cabinets we have Telefunken M81. The roll-off on its high end means the brighter guitars can sound slighter darker and warmer, which fits QOTSA’s sound.” “DiGiCo is always my go-to,” continued Jones, who handled around 90 inputs and 24 outputs (8 stereo and 15 mono). All RF management was handled by Veres who used a Shure Wireless workbench to ensure clean transition for all IEMs. “On this tour we have several LED elements on the stage [more on that later] which I was originally concerned about,” said Veres. “However they haven’t affected the guitar rigs in the slightest.” GO WITH THE FLOW During the initial design of the Villains tour, the band and management brought in world-renowned Show Designer, LeRoy Bennett, who came up with concepts, recalled Highcoft. “In the initial design he had this idea of LED bars on stage giving a prison bar effect, as well as an overhead beam of light.” Upon approval, the show was handed over to LD Emmanuelle ‘Gigi’ Pedron, who took the concept and “ran with it!” Very much at home in the world of rock ‘n’ roll, Gigi has already made a name for herself working with the likes of Jack White, Jimmy Eat World and At The Drive-In. Being at the helm of QOTSA’s rig was another tick on her bucket list. “I have been a fan of them for several years and I know their back catalogue inside out,” beamed Gigi. “It’s definitely been a dream tour.” As already stated, backline was of paramount importance to the band. Many LDs may see this as an issue, working around such a large bulk of equipment - but not Gigi. “It’s kind of my speciality,” laughed the LD. “I seem to have specialised in acts like Jack White who don’t have set lists and have loads of backline across the stage. A concert it should always be about the music first and then lighting should be built around it.” TPi asked the LD if 48

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For the UK tour, Creative Technology supplied the tour with a complete IMAG package; LD Emmanuelle ‘Gigi’ Pedron behind her custom-taped MA Lighting grandMA2; Video Director, Blue Leach.

she was using any timecode or cues for the show, to which she had the best response: “Over my dead body!” She elaborated: “The last thing I would want from my light show is to limit the creativity of the band on stage. This is why nothing is cued and I ride the show live. It gives the band the freedom to play whatever they want and at any speed. I’m right there with them. It’s like their song - I just Go With The Flow.” Christie Lites’ new UK operation provided the lighting rig for the European tour. In total it provided Gigi and the crew with 41 GLP impression X4 Bar 20’s, 21 Martin by Harman MAC Quantum Profiles, 70 Martin Quantum washes, and 40 Elation Professional ACL 360is. Also on the rig were TMB Solaris Flares and Elation Professional CUEPIX Blinders. “I was incredibly happy with the service given by Christie Lites,” commented Gigi. “All the gear they supplied was brand new out of the box which was a rare treat! I was also very excited to have a full LED rig. Ever since I saw Andi Watson’s work on Radiohead’s 2008 tour - when he had the first all-LED show - I always wanted to tour with one. 8 years later and I finally have!” Commenting on Christie Lites’ involvement with the tour was Roy Hunt. “Working with Gigi was a pleasure,” stated Hunt. “We worked with her on utilising the design to suit the large stock of fantastic equipment we have at our new UK shop in Coventry, and along with the outstanding crew, led by James Such, we were proud to have a provided a service that is second to none. Nothing short of what Rob Highcroft and the production team deserve!” Along with the sizable lighting rig, the design also featured 7 custom LED poles with an industrial spring base, which were scattered around the stage. “This was an idea from LeRoy’s original design to have an LED product across the stage replicating a ‘prison bar’ look,” commented Gigi. In the first rendition of the show in America, Upstaging provided the production with 8 I-Beams complete with LEDs. “However, Josh and the guys like to have a bit of danger on stage and want to interact with

the gear around them,” explained Gigi. This meant they needed a slightly more robust solution that could keep up with the band’s stage antics. In a very short time, Upstaging produced several prototypes of the new LED product until they found a solution for both the band and Gigi. The tubes themselves contained an RGBW LED strip light, which survived the rough handling of the guys on stage, as well as allowing Gigi to mimic the other colours being used in the rest of the rig. Gigi described the changes made to the design throughout the campaign: “For the first shows in the States the main colours we used were red and white, echoing the album cover and conveying the idea of angels and demons - a theme QOTSA often explore within their music. More recently I have been throwing in some other colours too keep the show fresh.” The LD stated that the biggest challenge for the UK run was moving this show into large spaces. “The design of this show is very theatrical and intimate,” she explained. “I also use a lot of haze, which can be tricky in these massive arenas when the AC kicks in. But the addition of the IMAG screens have certainly helped make the show look good for people at the back of the arena.” For control, Gigi put her faith in an MA Lighting grandMA2 desk. “I have been touring for around 17 years, always using MA. I started out with an MA Lightcommander and worked my way up. I’ve now been on the grandMA2 for several years and I really get on well with it. I also have a great relationship with the team at MA who are always on the other end of the phone if I have any issues or questions.” But Gigi’s grandMA2 for Villains has a different aesthetic to others you might have seen on the road, thanks to the LD’s now-famous custom tape jobs. Gigi’s customisations have even sparked the interest of the MA Lighting, which brought the LD out to Prolight+Sound in Frankfurt in 2017 to exhibit one of her tape-masterpieces, a rendition of Piet Mondrian’s 50

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Composition with Large Red Plane, Yellow, Black, Gray and Blue. “I strongly believe the equipment we bring on the road is a part of the design itself. So a few years ago, I started to personalise my boards according to the tour’s major colour scheme.” For this run, Gigi created her own version of the Villains album cover, which many eagle-eyed fans spotted and took photos of as they made their way into Manchester Arena. The UK run also saw the addition of automation to the set. “In the States the rig was similar, although we are doing 3 straight truss rig over the individual pods,” explained Highcroft. “For Europe we have brought on Outback Rigging who have brought in a Kinesys system for the lighting pods.” The rest of the rigging for the tour was provided by audio and lighting vendors Eighth Day Sound and Christie Lites, respectively. Finally, supplying risers for the tour was All Access Staging & Productions.

The Director also used his short time with the tour to experiment with some old school editing techniques. “When I spoke to Josh we discussed the ‘psychedelic’ influences on the record, which I wanted to try and replicate with the video footage,” explained Leach. “We dug out a vintage Panasonic WJ-MX50 - the first desk I ever used in my early 20’s. We have it down stream for the Kayak and then feed it back through before sending it to the screens. Through the show we have been doing some old school tricks, such as still frames in a very horror-esque manner. We have also used some black and white and block colours, which gives a juxtaposition between aggressive and smooth looks.” Leach gave his final thoughts on the tour: “Sadly I’m only on this tour until the O2 so it’s been short and sweet, but a great birthday celebration. There have been a few bands I have worked with over the years during which I really have to pinch myself and QOTSA are definitely among them the band are ridiculously good and I can’t believe I got the opportunity.”

MISFIT LOVE As QOTSA stepped up the size of their European shows, Highcroft and the band’s management knew IMAG video was going to be a necessity. For the UK dates Creative Technology provided the complete IMAG and video package for the shows. Handling Video Director duties was Blue Leach. His 4-date stint with the band actually coincided with his 50th birthday, although according to the Director: “I couldn’t think of a better way to spend it!” Prior to the UK tour, Leach was drafted in to cover the band’s Antwerp performance and get a feel for the show. “This was the first time I managed to have a conversation with Josh and Gigi to get a feel of the aesthetics of the show. Especially as I’m the one coming into the tour I wanted to make sure I kept in line with Gigi’s vision.” Creative Technology’s Head of Music and Entertainment, Graham Miller, discussed how the company first got involved in the UK tour: “The band were doing a couple of shows in Europe with one of our sister companies, Faber, providing an IMAG package. Rob the reached out to us and asked if we could provide screens for the UK shows too - we jumped at the chance of course!” Leach said the last 2 shows had gone great, although it was a “roll with the punches” style performance. “For Queens, no 2 shows are the same. You have to be prepared for whatever they throw at you. But that’s how I prefer to direct - reading the band’s movements and reacting accordingly rather than a hyper-choreographed show.” Jim Liddiard, Project Manager from Creative Technology looked after the QOTSA tour and even took on the role as one of the camera crew for the UK tour. “It is always difficult joining a tour with such an established crew, especially as an entire department,” commented Liddiard. “We were very conscious of integrating smoothly into load ins and outs so as to make our appearance seamless. That being said we felt very welcome from all departments and the addition of video for those few UK shows felt very successful.” Creative Technology provided a Grass Valley Kayak with 16 inputs, 3 Sony HSC-300 cameras and 2 Panasonic robo cams. “I have worked with Creative Technology for a very long time and they were kind enough to offer a few extra bits including a track and dolly system for the pit cameras. They’ve enabled us to get some interesting panning shots,” commented Leach.

AUTO PILOT Bittersweet Catering ensured all the crew were fed on the UK tour. “While we were going through mainland Europe due to the logistics and tight schedule we simply used local catering,” explained Highcroft. “But for the UK shows we have had Bittersweet following us around.” Ensuring the 29-strong band and crew got from A to B were Beat The Street and Transam Trucking. “In total we have 2 crew busses and a band bus with 5 trucks,” stated the PM. Finally completing the travel team was Rock-It Cargo. “They were already in place before I was brought into the QOTSA camp,” stated Highcroft. “However, I’ve collaborated with them several times in the past which made this transition easy, thanks to Joe Ryan, our account handler.” As TPi goes to print, the QOTSA camp were prepping for the next leg of their American tour. However, Josh Homme and the guys will be back in the UK soon enough with the recent announcement of a one off show in London’s Finsbury park this summer - surely a welcome sight for the QOTSA’s faithful followers from this side of the pond! TPi Photos: Shirlaine Forrest 52

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LITECOM Despite boasting offices in Denmark, Sweden, Germany and Georgia [and a few famous names on its client list] Litecom remains determined - not - to conquer the world. TPi’s Ste Durham flew to Copenhagen to hear the company’s story first hand.

Litecom’s own CEO, Rasmus Bremer Sørensen, was on hand to play chaperone to TPi for the day, as we visited the company’s various operations in and around a decidedly crisp but sunny Copenhagen. First stop was Litecom’s secluded HQ in Kastrup (luckily, just in time for smørrebrød). “My brother Morten and I started Litecom officially in 2000,” Bremer Sørensen began. “We had worked together before that, but it was always ‘just a job’ - mainly freelancing in conventional broadcast and film lighting. More by coincidence than strategy, our business became focussed on moving light, which gave us a clear direction.” Litecom, in its current incarnation, is built on the twin pillars of lighting equipment rental and, perhaps more surprisingly, real estate. Although these areas of business may seem disparate at first, the company’s decision to buy and develop property for its own use has allowed it the freedom to expand (or consolidate) as it sees fit. Bremer Sørensen continued: “The real estate company only has one client, Litecom, but it still means we can see a building and immediately start talking about how we can add to it or develop the area around it. We are very good at lighting, but I would go as far as to say that this aspect of our business is even stronger.” This talent for spotting prime real estate was evidenced quite recently, when Litecom came across a disused electrical research facility that was located a short drive across town in Brøndby. This imposing structure, which has been affectionately dubbed The Cube, was snapped up by Litecom to serve as the city’s new go-to rehearsal studio. While this was an

exciting new venture for the team, reality quickly set it once the doors of this building were reopened. “When we first came, the place was rubbish,” laughed the company’s gregarious CFO, Torben Merrilgdgaard. “It had been abandoned for 5 years due to bankruptcy and had 1.5m of water in the basement! Even so, we knew it was going to be perfect for us. There is soul there, and a sense of expectation that is clear as soon as you walk through the door.” Although it took 2 years of hard work to whip the neglected building into shape, the facility is now as enthralling as it is functional. The company has worked to retain as much of the laboratory’s former glory as possible; with each piece of apparatus and instance of anachronistic décor conjuring (most likely inaccurate) visions of Nikola Tesla-esque scientists their hairraising experiments. From the subterranean tunnels used to circulate heat around the cavernous main studio to the reinvigorated observation boxes that overlook it; many of the building’s idiosyncrasies have been refreshed and repurposed to complement facility’s new function. The main studio in particular, which was earthed to within an inch of its life for obvious reasons, benefits from phenomenal acoustics and natural soundproofing that would have otherwise cost Litecom a small fortune. “It has been a long and hard journey to establish The Cube, but we are almost there,” said Merrilgdgaard. “We have never built a rehearsal space before, so it was important that we did it the right way. We had to present our case to the mayor, who was very supportive; to ensure that what we were planning would be for the benefit of the surrounding community. We 57


Above: One of the preserved breakout rooms in The Cube; Eurovision 2017 in Kyiv was another massive undertaking by the Litecom team.

think this has international potential, particularly given the local amenities, so it is just a case of making sure we do everything properly and on our own terms.” SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL It’s this steadfast refusal to settle for anything below the company’s own high standards that is at the core of Litecom’s day-to-day outlook as well. Bremer Sørensen continued: “We are a small company and very happy about it. We don’t need to conquer the world.” Despite this stance, the company has experienced enviable growth in recent years; growth that Bremer Sørensen and the rest of Litecom’s management have approached with caution. “That last 4 years have not been healthy for us,” he said. “We’ve had lots of opportunities but we grew so rapidly that we became in danger of becoming a corporate shell with nothing inside it. Prospects arise and you run to them because you just expect that they aren’t going to come around too often. By doing so we perhaps forgot our core values - we remembered the clients but we forgot ourselves. “It’s like in a relationship; you need to cherish them at all times, but the fact is that, when you lose something you love, you quite often only

realise once it’s too late.” He continued: “We have around 50 or 60 people in the group but only about 20 rainmakers, so when we are all out of the house in China, the US, Germany, Sweden, or the UK, then there’s no one back here to pull the strings. We decided the best thing to do was to try and shrink a little bit - the old feeling of Litecom is coming back day-by-day. “That’s why The Cube is such a good opportunity. If we can get a client in there then we can care about them from start to finish; whether that is solving any technical issues or coming down to barbecue with them!” As well as attempting to recapture the more personal side of its day-to-day business, Litecom has also had to develop the corporate “Prospects arise and you run to maturity and self-assurance to say ‘no’; them because you just expect particularly when saying ‘yes’ has the potential to jeopardise the company’s cherished core that they aren’t going to come beliefs. around too often. By doing so we Bremer Sørensen explained: “We had a German client come in during our busiest time perhaps forgot our core values - a client we really care about - but we didn’t we remembered the clients but have the ability to succeed with them. We tried to lay out our options, but we discovered we are we forgot ourselves.” fooling ourselves and we decided it was better Litecom CEO, to say no. It’s taken 17 years to have the balls to do it, and it sucks at the time, but it’s definitely Rasmus Bremer Sørensen 58

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been good for us in the long run.” Morten Bremer Sørensen added: “We like growth as much as the next guy but our core values need to be built up again or we will be just like everybody else. We want to be doing things together with the client, on our terms, instead of not having the time and saying, ‘just sign here’, which is rubbish. We want to make people feel safe with us and be assured from the start that they will have their expectations met.” Bremer Sørensen agreed: “This year our Sweden office has gained some of the best productions available and our German operation has doubled their inventory. For the right job we can move anywhere - we have such good supplier relationships the world over - and we will strive to provide that service that gives clients security.” The “right” jobs that Bremer Sørensen alluded to have included some incredibly prestigious and high profile shows over the years, including one of the most widely viewed broadcasts on earth, the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC). “The ESC is a landmark relationship for sure, particularly in terms of spectators and so on,” he said. “They’re certainly the biggest jobs we’ve had in terms of the sheer amount of items we supplied but there other jobs that are smaller in scale but even higher in expectation, such as the Victoria’s Secret show in Shanghai where we supplied our remote followspot, the SpotDrive. To be involved in something like this, where a huge company’s life is essentially on the line for a 40-minute show, is great for us.” One of Europe’s most iconic festivals, Roskilde, is another of Litecom’s regular haunts, and a recent involvement in the world of sport has added yet another string to the company’s bow. “The most complex thing we’ve done is providing full production for the World Boxing Super Series,” enthused Bremer Sørensen. “We had to travel around the globe, coordinating equipment from different suppliers and getting everything into one venue in time for doors each night on a show of this scale - quite an achievement.”

WORKING 24/7 The final stop on our tour was in the north of Copenhagen, where Litecom’s full film equipment cache could be found in an unassuming nook of TV studio Twentyfourseven, where shows such as Denmark’s Got Talent and Wonderkids (whose production rehearsals were currently set up in The Cube) were filmed. “We always make sure what they have is state of the art and we regularly come close to maxing out our inventory here,” explained Bremer Sørensen. As well as strategically distributing its considerable stock around Copenhagen in order to maximise its use, Litecom also has its other branches to think about as well. Bremer Sørensen said: “While the Sweden office is more or less equipped to the same level as us, our German operation is mostly concerned with rigging. All of our Cyberhoists are there, as well as a large proportion of our MX1 trusses, which are manufactured in house. “Our Georgian office is more or less servicing the same kind of think as we do in Denmark, but on a smaller scale. This includes their version of The X Factor, Georgia’s Got Talent! and some small festivals. It’s still a limited market because of budgetary constraints, but Litecom Georgia is having its own good life out there.” In addition to its own line of truss, Litecom has pioneered a number of in-house inventions that can be seen on some of its most prestigious shows. For instance, the company’s SpotDrive remote followspot system was used to full effect at the aforementioned Victoria’s Secret and on a number of high-profile tours and other events; often to considerable praise. “It was really fun to develop the SpotDrive as it basically came out of nowhere and was built from standard items,” said Bremer Sørensen. “We never intended to develop a full system; we just wanted to put it together as a remote that could be used by any desk on any fixture. I think we accomplished that really well and we’re already working on a V2 that’s a totally different approach. 60

Ramco’s Annual Specialist Stage & Lighting Auction... On behalf of various TV production & event hire companies Held at the massive Cardington hangar by kind permission on Elstree Light & Power Auction close: 20th March 2018 Viewing: Thursday 15th March 9:00 - 18:00 | Friday 16th March 9:00 - 21:00 | Saturday 17th March 10:00 - 18:00 Professional Lighting, Staging & Audio to include: DiGiCo SD7 console, Yamaha PM5d console, 16 berth tour bus, 3 outdoor mobile stages, SBC 12mm video wall, Gtec 37mm video wall, Lodestar motors, ChamSys M200 console, Wholehog 3 console, Vari-Lite VL3500 moving heads, Robe 700e moving heads, d&b C4 cabinets, d&b Q1 cabinets, d&b D1200 amps, complete Meyer MSL3 PA system, complete L-Acoustics V-Dosc system, trussing, rigging, cabling, ightcases, and much more... Collections: Thursday 22nd March - Thursday 29th March 08:00 - 18:00 (Not Saturday or Sunday)

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Above: At the time of TPi’s visit to The Cube, the Wonderkids production rehearsals were taking shape.

“Having the height and distance in The Cube means we can ensure that the accuracy is representative of what it would be like in bigger venues. The system is getting more and more precise and further removed from being just a remote followspot. It’s certainly exciting to see where we take it in the future.” Another of the company’s innovations, spearheaded by its Network Manager, Michael ‘Havdrup’ Nielsen, is the Litecom app. When production starts on a job such as the ESC, so does the app; essentially serving as a communal space to share designs, video maps and lighting plots, preproduction records, fixture information, crew history and so on. As well as helping to coordinate production before the crew’s arrival on site and during the job itself, the app can serve as a treasure trove of information for production managers, manufacturers and rental houses on how every single component performed throughout. As Bremer Sørensen explained: “This means that every part of the job can be broken down and analysed after the job. Fixtures’ performance can be assessed, and the timing of each part of the load in and out can be recorded. This will allow anyone to break down an event in terms of hours, how many crew are needed to accomplish each task, and which tools are best for the job. “Every time you feed the app, you can retrieve data and grow the catalogue. This makes quotations become more precise as well. This is

invaluable when working on big jobs and, while you don’t always get that production where the app fits, production value can be improved and other costs streamlined in the right situation. It’s in constant development and has proven another great tool at our disposal when pitching these larger jobs.” UNTIL NEXT TIME... With such an enviable arsenal of unique tools at its disposal and an unshakable ethos at its core, it is clear that Litecom remains in the position to act as the architect of its own future. Bremer Sørensen concluded: “We’ve invested a lot to get into the position where we can have this control over our business, particularly in the last 5 years. We haven’t spent the money on cars or flights to the Maldives or holding companies for our pensions. This company is our future and it is so important that we can point to where the money has gone. “It’s important for us to be respected for our quality, transparency and reputation and still be among the best in the market. That is fulfilment to us.” TPi Photos: Ralph Larmann & TPi 62








Photo: Johannes Krämer





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This month we speak to TPi Breakthrough Talent Award winners Matt Didon and James Walton about their blossoming company, ON LX, and what the future has in store… Before enrolling at the University of South Wales, Matt Didon and James Walton already had business nous. But after being paired together for High End Systems’ Hog Factor in 2014, the duo thought they would apply their skills to the live events industry. Three years later and ON LX provides bespoke lighting, video and technical services for events, installations and everything in between. TPi spoke to the crack team about what the future holds for their fledgling venture and the challenges of juggling a new business and university work. “Both Matt and I worked in the live events industry when we met,” began Walton, who worked for Shock Solutions, which was acquired by White Light about 4 years ago, while Matt started his own rental mobile DJ package company. With several years’ experience under their belts, Didon and Walton enrolled at the University of South Wales for a Bachelor’s Degree in Lighting Design and Technology. In their first year, both continued to work on extracurricular ventures. Walton explained: “Matt was already building the foundation of what would become ON LX while I was working on my own business called Spektrum Systems where I would build custom media server packages. After our successful collaboration on the 2014 Hog Factor, we decided to join forces, effectively merging Spektrum Systems with ON LX.” Since the dawn of the partnership, Didon and Walton have been walking the line between live events specialists and startup tech company. From providing the visual package to The Giant Tree at Glastonbury 2017 to producing a custom control systems for gym studios, the brains behind ON LX have certainly proved themselves in several fields. “We are really focussed on keeping both sides of the business going,” commented Didon. “It’s been really great working on the app side of the business and we have certainly got people’s attention.” The goal of their app venture is to provide an “incredibly simple interface that can control some fairly complex operations”, with features including the ability to “analyse audio in a live scenario and simultaneously sync and operate lighting automatically.” But Didon and Walton are both determined to keep in touch with what’s going on in the field rather than pigeonhole their skills into an exclusively software company. “Glastonbury was certainly one of last year’s highlights for us,” recalled Walton. ON LX supplied a bespoke lighting solution with 40 universes of WS2811 pixels with which festivalgoers could interact. “I had worked in the Greenpeace part of the site for the last few years and have known Ben Bailes, who oversees the project, for some time. This year Matt oversaw the all the programming of the show and I handled all the servers and networking of the event. It was certainly an intensive few days but it looked fantastic.” Having graduated last year, Didon is now working full time for the company while Walton finishes his final year of university following a placement year in Australia with Enttec. “To say it’s been tough is an understatement,” laughed Walton, as he described the balancing act of holding down a new business as well as a full time degree. But he credits the University of South Wales’ course as being “incredibly helpful” in developing their business. “As well as having experienced lighting professionals as lectures, we also have guest lectures from industry professionals who come in throughout the year. We have both been able to learn a great deal from these individuals on the business side.” Looking to the future, the dynamic duo already have some interesting projects on the horizon. Didon and Walton both recently completed their Notch training and are hoping to provide even more options for clients, both in the install world and in live touring. “I think because of how specialised our skill sets are, there is no limit to how big ON LX will grow and it being our own company means we have the freedom to pursue a myriad of different projects!” As winners of this year’s TPi Breakthrough Talent award, both Didon and Walton will next attend this year’s TPi Awards in February. TPi



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BARCO’S WOUTER BONTE The Belgian manufacturer’s Strategic Marketing Director, ProAV / Events, discusses the future of AV with TPi’s Ste Durham, and gives a glimpse into the thinking behind Barco’s quest for immersive simplicity.

Given the incredible change your corner of the industry has experienced over the past 5 years, what has Barco done to remain at the forefront? What we do is make sure designers can continuously rely on Barco technology to put their ideas into reality, as well as bring far more simplicity into this space. We aren’t here to throw 75 new technologies over a wall and hope that people like them; and creatives are not waiting for 75 new technologies anyway. What we want to do with Barco moving forward is to provide simply immersive solutions. What does “simply immersive” mean in real terms? For us, it’s a world where any surface can become a canvas for an AV experience. It’s a world where the lines between real and virtual experiences become irrelevant. A world where more pixels, brightness and colours help create unforgettable moments, in an “immersively simple” way. But of course, “simple” means different things to different people depending on whether you are an integrator, a supplier or an end client; simplicity in setting it up; connecting it together; avoiding multiple conversions and manual interventions; having fewer links in the chain; being easy to transport - all of these things are part of being simple.

that it has creative technology inside. Just look at what happened over the past few years with projection mapping. The same thing happened where we’ve added LED technology to almost every situation where you have light. Having more light means you can show things in far more situations. But it also gives us the opportunity to think about the ambient environment, or situations where you want to have some other action going on. That I think is a big move. In Barco’s thinking, offering more brightness and processing power is going to drive more simplicity in the way we accomplish things, as users will have extra capacity to play around with. This gives people more freedom when developing their projects and when choosing the best technology to get the job done. It’s all about making it accessible, manageable, and simpler. What is the industry telling you? What’s interesting is that this is not just a Barco thing. There really is a demand for smarter technologies that handle a lot of things that might have been done manually before. So again, simplicity is the way to go. Less human intervention leads directly to faster set-ups, to give one example. Or the same size team can provide more sophisticated mapping. Let’s push this idea further, as simplicity could sound like an empty catch phrase. What would it change for you if the projector could be placed

Is this being driven by new technology? From the Barco perspective, the heart of the processing is a key part of the value proposition to enable new immersive experiences as well as to simplify the whole chain. This is driven by the outcome, not just by the fact 66


Opposite: Carl Rijsbrack, VP Events, and Wouter Bonte, Strategic Marketing Director, ProAV / Events.

close to the screen - and behind any speakers or performers - rather than at the back of the hall? That way, you skip the need to work around projected shadows and the set-up has a smaller footprint. What about being able to project files in their native format? Wouldn’t that save time and preserve the content’s integrity? How about being able to reduce the number of projectors you need to just one that is bright enough? How about being able to put projectors alongside fireworks or smoke machines and not have to worry about them? The common theme here is simplicity and immersion. More pixels, more brightness, more freedom and more simplicity; we maintain that they all go together. It seems obvious when you think about it. How do you see these trends specifically influencing the way in which touring show designers and crews select and apply technology moving forward? The speed at which new show requirements are adopted forces production companies to include a longer-term perspective in any of their investments. Futureproofing equipment has become increasingly important. Even if certain video requirements or installation flexibilities are today not common, they still expect the AV equipment to be ready. At the same time, reliability is essential for any touring designer. They will select the technology that enables new future experiences, while not compromising on reliability for their shows. Does achieving immersive simplicity in relation to concert touring and live events also mean looking at other disciplines, such as lighting, audio and special effects, for guidance / trends? Absolutely. Interoperability and simplification should be looked at from a holistic AV perspective. Disciplines can learn from each other, yet at the same time should synchronise. One example: rushing the VideoOverIP trend to reduce the number of fibre converters and simplifying connectivity is of little value if each discipline is using a different ‘language’, IP protocol for instance. Standardisation across disciplines will be critical to accelerate simplification. Is the seemingly inevitable move towards energy efficiency also an important factor for Barco’s R&D teams to consider when looking ahead? Sustainability has risen on the R&D agenda of likely any technology company, including the teams at Barco. Power consumption of visual display technology and its recycling (lenses, for example) are listed by customers as new important evaluation criteria, not only because of the direct implications for their total cost of ownership but also to match with the sustainability objectives that many brands have set themselves. TPi 67


DAN WOOLFIE Tour Manager & Drummer

and possibly opt to go to Milan in time for the next show, but by the time we’d decided to do so, the mechanic miraculously appeared. Hope soon turned into a “ah, nope!” Though, as what we witnessed (for €450 - that we definitely didn’t have) was a Swiss mechanic take off our black gaffa tape and replace it with his silver gaffa tape. Less than half a mile down the road, his more-inferior-gaffa-job-than-ours blew off and had us back on the side of the road. We asked for our money back but suddenly his English was no good. We made the call to the headliner’s Tour Manager and from what I remember, the response was “Try to get here… we’ll wait for you.” Now, try as we might, Switzerland is proper hilly. We had so much hope that everything was going to be OK while we were going downhill at a normal speed, then utter misery as we tried to get back up the next! I woke up in the back of the van around 7:30pm, our intended stage time. We still had an hour to go. There was another call. We’d now play at 8:30pm. We were all peering over the front seats and watching the miles tick away, while simultaneously screaming “FLOOR IT” at our exambulance driver, who was now having a mild heart attack in the driver’s seat. 8:25pm. We’d made it. I’ll never forget the moment where the guitarist & I, loaded with our gear, burst onto an empty stage to a full crowd of around 4,000 people. No one told us the doors had opened already! It was so frantic; I was being handed parts of my drum kit fully assembled by people I’d never met before, I could hear our FOH Engineer through my wedge “Woolfie, gimme kick, gimme kick… snare, gimme snare!” We played. And we were only 6 minutes late. I remember very little from the actual show other than it was one of the best we’ve ever played. As soon as the headliners had finished playing, we had to set off as early as we could to give our best chance making it to Milan with our broken van. Our FOH Engineer had been pretty quiet on this part of the journey, he was trying to figure out how we could fix this turbo hose if we couldn’t get the part from a Mercedes garage. We needed a solution to finish the tour. As soon as we got into the venue in Milan, he was rummaging around for a beer in the fridge. He came back out, opened the bonnet and said: “Woolfie, get me a knife and some more gaffa.” He opened the beer, necked it, chopped both ends off the can, slit it down the side, wrapped it around the turbo hose, gaffa’d both ends and shut the bonnet. Now, I know you might say it’s no good drinking on the job, but I swear, that bloody can of crappy beer got us from Milan to Madrid via Toulouse, then to Lisbon and Luxembourg before landing back in our hometown of Manchester. 3,500 miles. Full speed, zero problems. Forget the rip off mechanics, turns out gaffa tape and a desperate beer can solve all.

In my pre-Tour Manager days, when I was a drummer (circa 2013), my band had just finished our first night on an European support tour. It was my first ever ‘proper’ tour, one of those tours where, due to the routing, we should have had forked out for a tour bus rather than a splitter van and hotels. We roped in an ex-ambulance driver (because, well, you can’t get safer than that!) to help us drive the splitter while the rest of us took turns in the driver’s seat too. He was also coincidently a huge fan of the headliners, so on the promise of getting to see them play every night, he was more than keen to be there. Until show number 2... We’d arrived in Salzburg, Austria, and got some sleep before our drive to Geneva. After lunch we were accompanied by a whistling sound coming from the engine. We pulled over, opened the bonnet, couldn’t see anything obviously wrong. And we blew, with 200 miles to do in 4 hours. After a bit of back seat Googling, we’d figured out that the sound we were hearing was a rip in the turbo hose. “Sorted,” we thought. “Gaffa tape, we’ve got tonnes of the stuff.” We were of course, wrong. We plastered the hose with gaffa, convinced we were mechanical geniuses and were quite pleased with ourselves for the 5-or-so-miles we got before the whistling noise came back. Even louder. We located an SOS phone at the side of the road and managed to call a local mechanic. ETA unknown. We were contemplating making the call that we weren’t going to make it,

Dan Woolfie


After its successful launch in 2017, Daytime TPi returns with a new home at the Pestana Chelsea Bridge Hotel. This is an exclusive event for all attendees of the TPi Awards 2018 dinner. The panellists will discuss current issues affecting the live event and touring industry, with encouraged audience participation, followed by an afternoon of networking. 2018 Programme: 11.00 - 11.30 - 12.30 - 14.00 - 15.00 - 15.30 -

Registration and coffee The PSA AGM Networking lunch In Discussion: Training, Education and Career Development Host: PSA General Manager Andy Lenthall with special guests Backstage Academy’s Glen Rowe, Talks on Tour’s Estelle Wilkinson, Adlib’s Andy Dockerty, Clock Your Skills’ Denise Stanley Coffee Break In Discussion: Crew Welfare and Mental Health Host: TPi Editor Kelly Murray with special guests Production Manager Jim Digby, Tour Manager Andy Franks of Music Support, The Fifth Estate’s Sarah Rushton- Read and the PSA’s General Manager Andy Lenthall

Demo Rooms courtesy of Sennheiser and HD Pro Audio.

To register for Daytime TPi please contact Hannah Eakins:



Out Board Director, Dave Haydon, discusses the R&D process behind the company’s latest venture into user-friendly digital rigging control.

What was the original goal for RCX SMART Remote rigging control handset? We’re fortunate that Out Board LV & DV motor controllers have become something of a staple workhorse for belt and braces tour, event and venue rigging over the last dozen or more years. In that time we’ve learnt how much lighting, staging, video, audio and studio riggers value their reliability and simplicity, but are also being faced with larger numbers of channels to manage at one time, and quite often more complex lift configurations. We had been servicing this demand with 16- and 24 channel variants of our traditional ‘analogue’ RC handsets that use straight multichannel 24Vdc control, but these were becoming increasingly unwieldy and inelegant in terms of heavy handsets, splitters and remote cables. RCX is specifically designed to deal with these higher channel counts in a more convenient and handy package. Most importantly, it can be retrofitted to every 6-, 8-, or 12-channel Out Board LV or DV controller already out there in the field, not just for new purchases.

There was a desire to move on from the expensive, heavy and trash-able 24Vdc RC remote handset cables. RCX works with CAT5, ie standard off-theshelf IT cable, although we do equip the RCX SMART Remotes and interfaces with Ethercons so they are roadworthy, and most customers use them with proper armoured touring-grade Ethercon cables. Being digital meant we could create 16, 32, and 64-channel RCX units in relatively compact packages, and also add group Memories to make all those channels more manageable. And because what goes up must come down, the Memories are non-volatile and reversible, so you can pull the RCX out of the rack drawer at the end of the show, power it up, double-click a Memory button and all the channels in that lift will switch to Down for flying in. This also helps with bumping, where you can temporarily clear the selection to solo one hoist to bump it, then recall the memory to continue the lift, or you can double-click the Memory to reverse the lift then deselect a hoist and bump the rest in the opposite direction. These were subtle but crucial details came to us through discussion with master riggers we’ve been fortunate to get to know over the years. There’s also been a growing interest in Load Cell monitoring, partly due to the complex lifts and also evolving safety standards, so RCX provides a data path back up the control CAT5 interconnect that can take status data from load-cell computers and will instantly flag over- or under- load conditions on the RCX SMART Remote, by flashing the channel LED’s

What are some of the key features that were included in this new product? The RCX is digital with a robust serial comms protocol, but uses switches and LEDS for programming and display as opposed to a touch-screen, in order to make it more instantly familiar and straightforward for hardpressed riggers to learn and use quickly. 70


Below: Dave Haydon, Out Board’s Director.

and sounding a bleeper. We are currently canvassing opinion on having a selectable mode to make it automatically stop the lifts until the error condition has been identified and eliminated. Load Cell status monitoring is currently implemented for Mantracourt Broadweigh load cells, through work with our UK Dealer AC Entertainment, but it can be made to work with any load cell system.

Before the product was released commercially, we tested and retested prototypes on shows and tours which and this process was invaluable in drive subtle functional amendments via tweaks to the software. This is a product specifically developed in the market, for the market. What has been the initial feedback to the device? Rigging companies and riggers have reacted very favourably to the convenience and utility of the RCX handsets. We faced a slight challenge with switch cap LED diffusers getting washed out in bright daylight outdoors; it’s a custom component so we were able to re-specify and re-tool it with virtually transparent lenses – you can now see the LEDs in direct sunlight even with your RayBans on. These new switch caps can be retrofitted to all existing RCX units if customers wish. We may also add a software bright/ mode election mode in due course so riggers can tailor the LED brightness to their particular environment.

It seems like the linking element of the RCX SMART Remote was a paramount feature. Can you explain why this is so important? We had received growing numbers of requests for handsets capable of increasingly larger channel counts: 32, 48 and 50+ channels. The compact size of our controllers with 6, 8 or 12 channels in just 3U rackmount packages is very popular for inventory and deployment versatility, so it made sense to stick with that and just link them together. You regularly see 24 and 32-channel LV & DV racks, so a CAT5 link within the rack and also between racks works really well. We chose to avoid Ethernet in favour of a more robust serial protocol, and we designed the RCX interfaces to automatically figure out the channel layout on the RCX SMART Remote in the order they are plugged up in the rack – avoiding having to prod numeric displays or DIL switches to address the controllers. We also made them hot-pluggable, because it would be inconvenient to have to power down to change a hook-up or add a further controller.

Will there be any features added soon? Further Load Cell status monitoring will be added for brands other than Broadweigh as demand arises. We are now also working on a wireless interface link between RCX and the LV/DV controller racks. We’re using proven serial data RF technology from the industrial control sector, avoiding the busy and variable wifi fog that many other disciplines share. We’re adding our own battery management and failsafe mechanisms for optimum reliability and safety, and RCX will retain the digital E-Stop. There will always be users who prefer to stay wired to benefit from our dual-circuit hybrid digital and DC E-Stop system, but our TV and film customers, for example, are very interested in wireless so they don’t have to drag handset cables round large studio sets when asked to make quick changes by the lighting director. TPi

How do you make sure you are developing a product that really answers the market’s needs? The RCX SMART Remote System was developed to address the changing demands placed on our conventional handset systems mentioned earlier. We have good longstanding relationships with major rigging companies and master riggers, and their constant feedback has been invaluable towards evolving the basic concepts and spec details of the RCX SMART Remote System. 71


IMPROVING OUR APPROACH TO MENTAL HEALTH The PSA’s Andy Lenthall discusses the ostensibly different ways in which our industry deals with the physical and mental health problems faced by its employees; and what we can do to change things for the better moving forward.

I had flu recently. I don’t believe in man flu. I had flu and some of you will know what I’m talking about. It was impressive, it had my full respect and admiration - I was useless. In my case, the flu lasted 5 days; 3 days off work and a wasted weekend. For others it took longer, perhaps due to a different strain, perhaps due to their physiological ability to cope with a viral invasion. So what? Because I managed to shake it in a few days, does that make me better that someone who felt the effects for a fortnight? Do they not need to just man up? Who am I to suggest they do? Physical illness affects different people in different ways, I understand that and that’s my approach to the physical wellbeing of my family, friends and colleagues. Can the same be said for our approach to mental health? We think there’s room for improvement. Hence the title, we make no apologies for the amount of times we will repeat that phrase. We’re not raising awareness, we’ve had quite enough of awareness, too many people have lost too many friends, we’re all very aware. What we now need is a better understanding of how to be more open, make it easier to talk and be better at encouraging people to seek the help that they might need. The great news is that some of the answers are out there already; it should be easy to make a positive change. We’re keen to encourage companies to sign up to the Time To Change employer pledge. As they say, when you sign the Employer Pledge you demonstrate your commitment to change how we think and act about mental health in the workplace

and make sure that employees who are facing these problems feel supported. For those who need more than just the ‘it’s the right thing to do’ motivation, there are financial benefits. Looking after the mental health of your employees makes business sense: tackling stigma can make a real difference to sickness absence rates, presenteeism levels, staff wellbeing and productivity, and retention. Since signing the Employer Pledge, 95% of employers said it had a positive impact on their organisation. This is the point where we throw in a few figures: • 1 in 4 British workers are affected by conditions like anxiety, depression and stress every year. • Mental ill-health is the leading cause of sickness absence in the UK, costing an average of £1,035 per employee per year. • 95% of employees calling in sick with stress gave a different reason. Look at that last figure again. Ninety five percent of people with a valid reason for absence feel that they need to give another reason. How can an employer address the cause when employees don’t feel able to report the true problem? We do like to think that we’re a caring bunch, our door is always open, 72


we’re happy to lend an ear. Is that passive approach enough when so workplace, mental wellbeing is no different. I could break my leg skiing and many don’t feel comfortable with sharing the real issue? Perhaps we bring that injury into the workplace; I’d hope my employers would support could get better at spotting the signs, become more effective at opening me through recovery. Mental ill health can be caused by factors outside the conversation rather than waiting for the call; maybe populating our work too. Same applies. Accidents in the workplace also cause injury, industry with people who can approach, employers apply resources to reduce the talk, listen and signpost people to seek the likelihood of those accidents; our sector has help they need - there’s a lot of it out there. worked extremely hard on reducing physical Sometimes, a person suffering from mental injury, addressing the causes. Can the same illness doesn’t want to bother a friend or be said for mental wellbeing? Prevention is colleague with their troubles - a more active better than cure and we perhaps need to approach may be needed. have a good look at ourselves, perhaps risk Of course, there’s an answer. It’s called assess our working environment, just as we Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), and it’s a should for physical hazards. thing. To become a Mental Health First Aider, We don’t yet have the answers and you need to attend a 2-day training course. different people handle things in different Companies can and should have MHFA ways, but night working, long days, long trained staff as part of their commitment to periods away from home, lack of sleep, lack improving their approach. This, though, is of job security, periods of unemployment, where we run into a slight issue: we’re not all they’re all prevalent and all potential causes about employers and employees, we have of mental ill health. The pledge and the a huge proportion of self-employed people, training are simple first steps, but only by put together in teams to work on various developing the conversation can we fully events. Many of those individuals are in a address the causes. supervisory or management position and And that flu? I’m over it now and still could benefit from MHFA training. Of course, trying to catch up. I think I’m handling the training costs money - in this case, up to stress OK. £300. To soften the blow, Stagehand, the Interested In Mental Health First Aid Training? “Accidents in the workplace also industry charity set up by PSA members over Self Employed PSA members can claim back 20 years ago, has committed to subsidising 50% of training costs. Email cause injury, employers apply MHFA training for up to 100 self-employed for details. resources to reduce the likelihood members, offering 50% of the cost on proof TPi of completion of the 2-day course; a serious of those accidents; our sector has commitment that has itself been subsidised worked extremely hard on reducing by a significant donation from the PSA’s get-your-workplace-involved/employerreserves. pledge physical injury, addressing the Of course, the administration of first aid causes. Can the same be said for means that there’s a problem to address. Physical damage can be caused in the mental wellbeing?” 73


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Above: AC-ET’s Technical Director, Chris Millard; VUE audiotechnik’s George Dreyer, Jon Garner, and Brandon Rinas; Allen & Heath’s Pat McConnell; TSL acquires Blinding Light; Creative Technology welcomes Richard Rogers & Chris Jordan.

Absen Europe has announced the appointment of Thomas Klukas to the position of Business Development Manager for Germany, Switzerland and Austria (DACH). Prior to joining Absen, Klukas held a Director position with Shure Distribution. He will oversee the development of the retail, corporate and DOOH sectors across the 3 markets, plus sports and rental in Austria and Switzerland. His remit will encompass the development and extension of Absen’s partner network of system integrators, consultants, architects and end customers, also working to define and evaluate key partners. In setting the sales strategy for the region, Klukas will work hand in hand with the sales team in addition to the marketing, research and development and project management groups in order to feedback market needs and requirements. A.C. Entertainment Technologies (AC-ET) has appointed Chris Millard as Technical Director to the company’s Board of Directors. He joined AC-ET from his role as Technical Director at Panalux, where he spent 22 years. Millard now oversees the further development and growth of the company’s Technical Services department and in-house Tourflex Cabling bespoke cable assembly service. Adamson Systems Engineering has appointed Lin Buck to the position of Director of Sales for the United States, working as an integral part of the team led by Marc Bertrand, Managing Director of Adamson Americas. Buck will collaborate closely with Adamson’s Partner Network and manufacturer’s rep firms to continue driving sales and growing the brand’s profile in the ever-important U.S. touring and integration markets. “Our comprehensive strategy for building a long-term, sustainable sales

structure in the Americas fits very well with Lin’s experience, as well as his philosophies with respect to customer relations and the Adamson brand,” commented Bertrand. “We’re very pleased to have him aboard, and we expect great results.” Allen & Heath has appointed Pat McConnell as its Central Regional Sales Manager. McConnell will promote sales growth and strengthen existing relationships across the Central Region of the United States. Tim Schaeffer, Senior Vice President of Allen & Heath USA, commented: “We’re pleased to welcome Pat to the team. He not only has deep technical ability, but also firsthand experience of the region and the skills to push Allen & Heath sales to the next level.” McConnell was a sales representative for them at a previous company. He added: “I am excited to contribute to the amazing team at Allen & Heath. I’ve been using their products for years and I’m looking forward to being a part of their continued growth and success.” Creative Technology has recruited Richard Rogers and Chris Jordan to work as Senior Project Managers in its Audio Team. Mark Boden, CT’s Director of Audio, spoke highly of the duo: “Having worked with Richard and Chris many years ago I am really excited to be working with them both again, bringing with them yet more experience and knowledge to an ever-growing audio team.” Chauvet Professional has established Chauvet Germany, a wholly owned subsidiary to serve the German market. Based in Bremen, the new subsidiary will distribute and service Chauvet Professional, Chauvet DJ and Iluminarc products. The opening of the new facility represents the company’s first direct presence in the German market. 74 • +44 208 986 5002


Below: Elation’s Matthias Hinrichs; Tim McCall, L-Acoustics’ Regional Sales Manager; Paul Mulholland, Jands’ Managing Director; Outline’s Deputy General Manager Of Sales, Leonardo Dani.

Thomas Fischer, formerly Owner and Managing Director of Fischer GmbH, has been named Managing Director of Chauvet’s German operation. He is joined by Henning Oeker, who will serve as Regional Sales Manager. Green Hippo has appointed ESL France to be its French distributor. The agreement sees ESL France exclusively distribute Green Hippo’s line of cutting-edge hardware and software throughout France. James Roth, Head of Sales and Marketing at Green Hippo, acknowledged the importance of the French economy: “France is a crucial market for Green Hippo. We fully recognise not only the size of the French economy, but also its population’s enduring love of live events. ESL France brings the necessary understanding of this region - as well as of the Green Hippo line - to help further grow our brand during 2018 and beyond. And we thoroughly look forward to helping them succeed.” Elation Professional has hired Matthias Hinrichs as a Product Manager. Hinrichs is a well-known face in the industry, having worked as a lighting and control systems product manager at Martin Professional since 2003 and prior to that as a well-respected freelance lighting director and programmer. Over the years, the self-described product designer and innovator has worked in staging, audio, lighting, as a DJ, in technical support, business development and finally as a product manager for lighting control and automated lighting fixtures. ETC’s international subsidiaries, ETC Ltd and ECT GmbH, are now responsible for the distribution of High End Systems products in Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa (EMEIA), taking the reins from the former European master distributor, AED Distribution. Meanwhile, ETC Asia will take control of distribution for the Asia Pacific (APAC) region. ETC welcomed High End Systems into the family in April 2017 and has already made significant investments in stocking, personnel and product support. This is set to continue, with a particular focus on EMEIA and APAC. L-Acoustics has appointed Jands as its certified distribution partner for Australia. Jands is set to provide L-Acoustics with an increased penetration into the Australian marketplace, whilst adding L-Acoustics to its roster further solidifies Jands’ position as the go to distributor for premier brands. “My first introduction to L-Acoustics was when, along with Peter Ratcliffe from JPS, I visited the factory in 2000,” said Paul Mulholland, Jands’ Managing Director. “It was clear from our first introduction to the V-DOSC speaker cabinet that L-Acoustics was destined to become a dominant force in live sound. JPS became the L-Acoustics rental network partner for Australia and I watched as the pioneers of line array continued to develop ever more innovative products.” Tim McCall, L-Acoustics Regional Sales Manager, said: “We’re delighted to have Jands join the L-Acoustics family. We have had considerable success in Australia over the last decade and aim to build on this strong base. We have a natural synergy with privately owned, technology and solutionfocused partners. I think we now have that with Paul and his team.” Meyer Sound has named Audio Brands Australia as their exclusive distributor down under, with the appointment also extending to New Zealand through a partnership with Pacific AV. Audio Brands Australia will be responsible for sales, technical support and service of Meyer Sound products across all markets, including touring and AV rental, performing arts venues, houses of worship, hospitality, cinema and studio. “In Audio Brands Australia we have found an ideal partnership for

strengthening and extending the Meyer Sound presence ‘down under’,” said Antonio Zacarias, Meyer Sound Vice President of Global Customer Engagement. “Audio Brands Australia has a solid, strategic approach in the product lines they represent, as well as a proven track record of responsive service and support. Outline has appointed Leonardo Dani to the post of Deputy General Manager Of Sales. Dani joins the company during a period of strong growth and expansion, driven mainly by the success of Outline’s GTO loudspeaker family in global touring and by the growing number of high-profile installations of the Stadia Series, including those for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. TSL Lighting has announced that Colin Paxton will now be managing its busy Dry Hire department as Hire Manager. Alongside Paxton’s appointment, John Beer, TSL’s previous Hire Manager, will progress into the role of Operation Manager. Beer now takes a wider responsibility with an overview of the company’s operations and will be concentrating on improving and expanding all areas of the business. The company completes a busy month, having recently acquired Blinding Light. Both companies and locations will continue to operate as normal under their respective individual brands. ULA Group has announced a new partnership with SGM. Cuono Biviano, Managing Director of ULA Group, commented: “We are extremely proud of our new partnership with SGM, which came just in the right time when our company is growing and expanding into new market segments. The SGM products are of a superb quality, incorporating groundbreaking technology which makes them unique and a perfect fit for both entertainment and architectural lighting markets. The core values that ULA Group has been built upon align with those that SGM proudly represent throughout their business practice. We are very excited to be able to partner exclusively with SGM in Australia and New Zealand and to help grow their network globally.” VUE Audiotechnik rang in the new year with 3 new hires as part of its ongoing expansion. VUE has announced the addition of Senior Product Engineer, George Dryer, and Sales Representatives Jon Garner and Brandon Rinas. The trio are based out of VUE’s headquarters in Escondido, CA. According to Ken Berger, VUE founder and CEO, the new hires will play a key part in the company’s aggressive growth trajectory. He commented: “Ask any VUE client and they’ll tell you the attention and expertise they get from our team is matched only by our impeccable product performance. Thanks to our clients’ continued faith in us, we just wrapped up the best year thus far. To sustain that growth and our benchmark performance levels, I’m thrilled to welcome George to our engineering group, and Jon and Brandon to the sales team. I am excited to have them join the rest of the VUE family in bringing the future of live sound technology to market – today.” Dreyer will lead amplifier and electronic development; Garner, with an 8-year track record in sales management with Powersoft, will focus will be on expanding VUE’s growing momentum in live sound and touring; and Rinas’ main focus will be on furthering VUE’s already strong reach into the house of worship market. TPi 75


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DAVID ‘WEBBY’ WEBSTER Global Marketing Director, CODA Audio

You’ve changed jobs recently but you’re a familiar face in pro audio. What are you relishing about your new challenge with CODA? Technically speaking, I didn’t really change jobs. I’d retired last April having thought I’d achieved all my goals - it’s a long story but when I discovered CODA Audio I knew there was another challenge that I just had to get stuck into! I’m relishing unleashing the best audio systems in the world, on the world. Every so often (in an audio sense, of course...) something comes along that blows your mind and you know it’s the real deal. There are all sorts of flashes in all sorts of pans but this isn’t one of them. The challenge is to get people to listen - and I will - the systems can speak for themselves!

You recently attended Tour Link and The NAMM Show in California. What has the reception for CODA been like in North America? I’d say it pretty much chimes with the response everywhere else in the world - that is to say we’ve had a fantastic reception in the States and we’re looking forward to putting serious dents in the market. Our US team comprises some very experienced and highly respected figures who knew a good thing when they heard it, and joined us without hesitation. Three major US Rep firms, for whom I have a huge amount of respect, have also got on board after realising what CODA has to offer. Anyone who hears these products and then looks a little harder at the advantages they can bring, finds them hard to resist... How did you initially get into pro sound? I blame my mother. In her estimation, the majority of longhaired singer / guitarists (like me) were destined to fail at that endeavor, so she took it upon herself to line me up with an interview at Klark Teknik. I got the job and thus ended another potentially glorious rock ‘n’ roll career…

What are your goals for the brand in 2018? To firmly demonstrate that a CODA system is without a shadow of a doubt the best sound system you can get and then to sell truckloads of them all over the planet! As you might expect, our sights are set very high - when you have confidence in a product like this, there’s no reason to moderate your ambitions, so we’ll be pushing hard in every direction.

After a long stint in console manufacturing, what have been some of your career highlights? There have been far too many to single out. I’ve been involved throughout my career in helping to develop cutting-edge technologies - the products of the future, you might say - and when you bring them to market it changes the way people look at and design their shows. That means that there are several highlights every year. CODA is already proving to be another case in point.

When you’re not busy telling the world about PA Systems, how would we find you relaxing? Guitar in hand (my mother never completely destroyed the dream!), sun shining, poolside, in the company of great friends. Oh and perhaps afterwards, a glass or two of a fine red accompanied by a cheese of distinction… 78


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TPi February 2018 - #222  

Gorillaz, Ibiza Classics, Queens of the Stone Age, Katy Perry.

TPi February 2018 - #222  

Gorillaz, Ibiza Classics, Queens of the Stone Age, Katy Perry.