TOTAL PRODUCTION INTERNATIONAL
LIVE EVENT DESIGN & TECHNOLOGY • FEBRUARY 2019 • ISSUE 234
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TO NEW CHAPTERS... After a lot of thought, I’ve reached the difficult decision to leave my magazine family in search of new adventures. After a massive 117 publications - and the launch of a new magazine - I feel it’s time to move on and progress in other areas. Being flung full throttle from the likes of the NME and the BBC into the world of live production eight years ago, has been one of the best experiences of my life, and I doubt I could leave this industry if I tried! I’ve got so much admiration for road crews and show designers, pioneering manufacturers and the abundance of talent found in-between. It’s been an absolute pleasure to see, hear and learn about the incredible work it takes to put on the most complicated and ambitious shows you could imagine, from the most brilliant minds and show makers on the planet. Not to mention seeing the next generation blossom and deliver with raw passion and enthusiasm. For 2019 I will leave you in the capable hands of the great team here at TPi, while I personally begin a year of continued industry education. I can tell you that I’ll be working closely with tour charity Music Support and acting as a Trustee for the PSA’s benevolent fund, Stagehand. Although I’ll be sitting this TPi Awards out, my number will remain the same, (as will my desire to see your tour memes) so please don’t be a stranger. For now, all that’s left to say is have an incredible night at Battersea and good luck to the nominees. Thank you for having me and safe travels, homies! Kel Murray Editor
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DIGITAL EDITORIAL ASSISTANT James Robertson EDITORIAL INTERN Keisha Spencer COVER TPi Awards 2019 by Mel Capper & Dan Seaton PRINTED BY Buxton Press • www.buxpress.co.uk Issue 234 - February 2019 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: email@example.com
TOTAL PRODUCTION INTERNATIONAL is a controlled circulation magazine, published 12 times a year by Mondiale Publishing Limited under licence. ISSN 1461-3786 Copyright © 2018 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 2018 US annual subscription price is 117USD. Airfreight and mailing in the USA by Agent named Air Business, C/O WorldNet Shipping USA Inc., 155-11 146th Avenue, Jamaica, New York, NY11434. Periodicals postage paid at Jamaica NY 11431. US Postmaster: Send address changes to Total Production International, Air Business Ltd, C/O WorldNet Shipping USA Inc., 155-11 146th Avenue, Jamaica, New York, NY11434. Subscription records are maintained at Mondiale Publishing Ltd. Waterloo Place, Watson Square, Stockport, SK1 3AZ, UK.
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EVENT FOCUS 08
Young Fathers TPi checks in with the band’s lighting team to discuss the visual approach.
10 Editors Entec reflects on a year of touring with the English rock band.
Josh Groban Vis-a-Vis Video captures the emotion behind the singer-songwriter’s latest tour.
Stone Temple Pilots Alternative rockers storm North America with an L-Acoustics loudspeaker rig.
Bring Me The Horizon d&b audiotechnik’s KSL System sounds out BMTH’s latest live offering.
Britannia Row Training The legendary rental house announces its intensive 12-week training course.
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22 Production Park The hub merges two rehearsal studio branches.
PRODUCTION PROFILE 24 The War of The Worlds Jacob visits the O2 to witness Jeff Wayne’s iconic soundtrack, 40 years on. 40 Nile Rodgers & Chic Disco icons descend on UK arenas with production value in abundance. 54 Def Leppard The rock titans hit the road, 31 years since their debut album dropped. 66 Brainfeeder’s 10th Anniversary LA-based record label celebrates a decade of independent music releases.
Kel chats to playback system duo, Gravity Rigs, about their latest exploits.
IN PROFILE 80
Kel visits to VDC Trading to celebrate the cable company’s 31st Anniversary.
MARKET FOCUS 84
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CLOCKING OFF 96
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GEAR HEADS 100 Kel talks to Elation Professional’s Matthias Hinrich about the NX2 Series.
ROAD DIARIES 102 Diablo Digital’s Brad Madix reflects on FATM Australian tour.
PSA: THE BIGGER PICTURE 104 Andy examines the value of apprenticeships.
106 The latest movers and shakers.
BACK CHAT 114 Martin Audio’s Maureen Hayes takes the hot seat.
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YOUNG FATHERS Following the release of their third album, Cocoa Sugar, the critically acclaimed Scottish powerhouse set off on a year of extensive touring, rolling out their own production for the first time. TPi checked in with Young Father’s lighting department to speak about their visual approach.
Shooting into the mainstream following their Mercury Prize-winning debut, Dead, Young Fathers – known to their friends as Alloysious Massaquoi, Kayus Bankole, and Graham ‘G’ Hastings – have since been on a steady rise to success. Last year saw the band take a notable leap in their career following the release of Cocoa Sugar. The group marked the hit by hitting the road with their first full production to execute their unique aesthetic vision. After an extensive year of touring, Young Fathers’ 2018 ended with a sold-out show at London’s Brixton Academy. The visual duo behind Young Fathers’ latest live offering was Phil Kaikoura and Andrés ‘Argy’ Atkinson. Kaikoura was responsible for the overall design concept, but the duo co-designed the lighting. While Argy set to work on the programming and time-coding for Young Fathers, Kaikoura turned his attention simultaneously to Mumford & Sons, with whom he is currently touring.
The design drew inspiration from the band’s iconic Roundhouse show in March, with its massive 24 x 15ft fast fold screen forming the backdrop. The co-designers clad four sides in sail cloth to create a cubic, forced perspective concept, in which the three members themselves performed on the stage apron. The key was to create stark contrasts, Kaikoura began, explaining the decision to choose a set centred on plain sails and big surfaces. He continued: “The 4-sided cube was based on a distilled version of the big surfaces we used at the Roundhouse.” “I think we confused a lot of local crew members when we set up the projections screen so close to the back wall we left no room for a projector,” laughed Argy. “These surfaces were simply used to project colour to produce a really impressive backdrop.” The Brixton show took the look from the rest of the tour and inflated the 08
number of fixtures in the rig. Just like the rest of the run, the rig consisted exclusively of GLP in the form of 30 hybrid JDC1s and 48 impression X4 Bar 20s - all supplied by Christie Lites. The duo deployed 25 JDC1s projecting behind the screens to create starkness and a forced perspective to add depth to the shallow stage. The band’s Manager, James Stanson, was inspired by the shadow effect design for David Byrne and prompted Kaikoura to use three further JDC1s downstage to create similar strong shadows. The JDC1s rear-projecting behind the screens were run in normal 23-channel mode. Three more created the big mono shadow effects, positioned in between the wedges in high-resolution 68-channel mode. “There is nothing else in the market that comes close the JDC’s ability to produce strobes and colour,” stated Argy. “Especially with the way we projected colour on the screen, we turned on the JDC and everyone was really impressed. As a strobe fixture, I think it is superior to conventional xenon strobes because there is no decay. It’s amazingly bright and it is so versatile. In fact, there are many elements I have still not had the luxury of using.” For control Argy opted for a MA Lighting grandMA2 with an MA on PC Command Wing and Playback Wing, running nine DMX universes. “It’s a fantastic console,” enthused the LD, adding: “I switched brands a few years ago - as did Phil - and haven’t looked back. You are able to do more subtle effects on the MA which other brands simply can’t achieve. It makes a real
difference in your overall design.” Following the band’s summer run supporting Massive Attack, they returned to continue their headline tour which featured the same design save one element. “For the shows after Massive Attack we utilised timecode,” said Argy. “At the start of the year we were riding everything live. But on the build up to the second half of the year we programmed all the cues to timecode to make everything that little bit tighter.” Even though each track was time coded, the LD told TPi, the end of each song was still open to the operator as to when to blackout the stage. Christie Lites has worked with the two lighting designers ever since opening up in the UK - and the company has been a constant for Young Fathers. “The rig was flawless,” observed Christie Lites’ Account Manager, Roy Hunt of the Brixton show. “We are finding both the JDC1 and X4 Bar units increasingly popular, and while our inventory is large enough to handle almost any request, demand is still growing.” Argy was pleased to report the show had been given a resounding thumbs-up from both James Stanson and the Production Manager Nick Lawrie – not to mention 5,000 ecstatic fans. “The whole show was fantastic,” he said. “It couldn’t have gone better.” TPi www.young-fathers.com www.christielites.com
Technical design from concept to reality www.wonder.co.uk
WIDESPREAD VIOLENCE: A YEAR ON THE ROAD WITH EDITORS
Production Manager Stumpy (a.k.a. Fraser McAvoy), the band’s Sound Engineers and the team at Entec reflect on how they worked together to make Editors’ 2018 tour one to remember. TPi reports…
Fronted by Tom Smith, a lead singer famously blessed with the largest vocal range of any contemporary artist, Editors could rightfully be described as a classic workhorse band with a relentless commitment to the live scene. Stronger and more confident than ever, and with Entec’s staunch audio support on tap throughout, the band – featuring Smith’s fellow co-founders Russell Leetch and Ed Lay, plus Justin Lockey and Elliott Williams – hit a purple patch in 2018 with the spring release of Violence, their latest long player, coinciding with the start of nine solid months of touring, amounting to no less than 102 shows. Difficult to categorise, Editors’ broad music catalogue was represented onstage by a dynamic, career-spanning set that blended old classics like Munich, Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors and An End Has A Start with the more recent Sugar, Darkness At The Door and Nothingness, winning new fans every night as well as satisfying the faithful. At the helm of the band’s production is Stumpy (a.k.a. Fraser McAvoy), who works closely with tour manager Mark ‘Maccum’ Williams. Stumpy came into the Editors camp as PM just over two years ago following a long spell with acts including Skunk Anansie, Marillion and Wet Wet Wet. After his first year, he put the production supply out for tender, as he explained: “I wanted to change a few things, and bringing Entec in was one of the big moves for me. Jonny Clark [Entec’s head of sound] was very helpful in
shaping and pricing a package that would work for us on several counts. I was happy about that because they’ve been my preferred audio supplier for more than 20 years. “The standard of Entec’s service has always been second to none. The relationship I had with Dick Hayes was great and the way Jonny has picked up the mantle has been superb. Their independent structure allows them to be more instantly responsive and you’re treated in a warm and respectful manner. They do everything the correct way and nothing is ever too much trouble. For instance, during our last week in Europe, we had some of the band’s own DI boxes go down. I made a phone call to Jonny at 4pm and at 9.30 the next morning, three new DIs promptly arrived. That’s what real support is all about.” With 14 compelling years behind them, Editors’ working preferences are long established. Entec’s practical role, meanwhile, was all about providing the most comfortable solutions for the audio team. “We spent a lot of time investigating how best to simplify this touring system,” said Jonny. “Much of our focus was on how we packaged the equipment to fit neatly into the available truck space and enable the quickest load-in and load-out, keeping Stumpy and the guys happy. Being able to accommodate FOH and monitors within a 13U double-wide rack at either end was a small victory. It was a neat set-up that occupied a very small footprint onstage and gave us 10
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FOH Engineer, Adam Pendse; Peter Eltringham & Jonny Clark; The Editors crew; Monitor Engineer, Chris Barton
based around the Waves eMotion LV1 live mixer and four monitor screens. “There have been a lot of raised eyebrows this year because this kind of thing hasn’t been seen too often in the wild!” Adam laughed, “but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it starts to catch on sooner than later.” Doesn’t it feel strange to mix a show without actual faders? “It’s certainly different, but I’ve used computer interfaces as part of my set up for a long time, so it wasn’t quite the stretch that it may seem. I’m accessing all the controls – mutes, hot keys and fader banks – via touchscreen. The monitor screens give me an incredible amount of visual information and I’m able to organise everything precisely as I want it to appear. “The great thing about this arrangement is the amount of freedom that its modularity offers me. It takes up little truck space and I can scale it to suit circumstances. On the final European leg, I was touring with the full four-screen configuration; when we hit the festivals, I split the screens between A and B rigs, and it’s also possible to reduce it to a laptop and a Peli case if necessary, which is perfect if you’re travelling light.” While Peter Eltringham found Adam’s control choice fascinating, he also noted the practical challenges of touring with an as-yet widely used system. He said: “At the moment, there are very few engineers at this level who can offer Adam experienced advice about the LV1 if he’s looking for tips, but we were always around to help, suggest new ideas and swap things around. Although Adam was liaising directly with Waves throughout the year, we were another point of call for technical support and we would all work together to resolve any issue that arose. It was that spirit of teamwork that helped towards a successful tour.” Peter added: “Working with that system represented a huge learning curve for all of us and as the year progressed, not only did the set-up become increasingly secure, we also gained a lot of practical knowledge that will be useful to pass on to future users.” Now starting his fifth year with the band, Adam continued: “This system deliberately has a small footprint. We had a BNC multicore from Entec and I took a MADI split from [monitor engineer] Chris Barton’s SD-Rack to get my inputs from the stage. Along with a bunch of channels that I generated at FOH, I was playing with just over 60 channels, which meant I was using the LV1 fairly close to its maximum capability.” Whilst not every engineer will happily gain share with his colleague, the solid trust between Adam and Chris meant that they were in a position to require just one SD-Rack, thereby reducing the footprint onstage and saving money that could be spent elsewhere in the production. “If they had gone with separate SD-Racks, they would have needed a split system,” observed Peter. “Fortunately, from a budget perspective, their choice was perfectly workable and they have good two-way communication so that whenever Adam needed an increase in dB, Chris would set the gains higher and just trim them back for himself at his end.” Waves’ SoundGrid technology is naturally one of the LV1’s big selling points. The broad spectrum of high quality onboard plug-ins – particularly the C6 multi-band compressor and the SSL G-Master buss compressor – is a significant asset for Adam, although he insisted that he is never too far away from the analogue domain. “I tend to carry a small selection of outboard devices, such as a Mäag EQ4M [mastering EQ] and a Smart Research C2 compressor which are both outstanding units that cover my main left/right output. I have an analogue chain over Tom’s vocal which consists of Neve’s 5045 Primary Source Enhancer, a clever gate for minimising stage spill, which goes into a Portico II channel strip.”
half the amount of lids to store – a minor detail that becomes a big deal in tight confines.” KICKING OFF Editors’ year began in February with rehearsals at Robannas studio in Birmingham, in preparation for a handful of launch shows for Violence in early March, in Warsaw, Birmingham, Manchester, Rome and London. With barely enough time to catch their breath, the band and their core crew of 10 returned to Europe for a full-scale spring tour, followed by a trek to the USA and Mexico. By the summer, Editors were immersing themselves in the festival scene, playing 27 dates at events ranging from Werchter’s TW Classic, PinkPop and Zürich OpenAir, to Coventry’s Godiva Festival and British Summer Time in Hyde Park (with The Cure). Sandwiched in between the latter run and the year’s final series of concerts in Europe was a 14-date autumn tour of the UK and Ireland, for which Entec despatched Peter Eltringham as a system tech. Up to this point, Entec’s package had consisted of a line system, monitor control and mics, however, it was now expanded to include an d&b J-Series line array, comprising 20 J8 loudspeakers, 4 J12s and 8 J-SUBs (12 at Brixton Academy) with 18 D80 amplifiers. Said Peter: “As we normally do, we looked at the venue data before arriving at each gig to get an idea of how many boxes to take off the truck in the morning, and then go and measure the room ourselves because the plan is never the same as the building you’re faced with! “We used ArrayProcessing everywhere we put PA and trim everything using d&b’s ArrayCalc and R1 remote control software. It gave us a lot of headroom which is so important for clarity. It’s nice to be able to sit Tom Smith’s great voice on top of the mix and that combination of ArrayProcessing and J-Series can give you such an intelligible yet powerful result. “The boxes weren’t really working that hard at any of the shows, not because it wasn’t a loud show but simply because we installed the correct amount of boxes and designed for a very even coverage. That always gives the FOH engineer the confidence that what they are hearing mirrors the audience experience.” Stage tech Colin Woodward, who assumed the system tech role outside of the UK, believed that simplicity was often the best policy: “Entec’s line systems are designed to enable an easy set-up, ensuring that the whole stage is ready in no time, and there’s a lot to be said for their approach. As for the J-Series, it worked exceptionally well every day, although many of us have come to expect nothing less, and Pete’s help and know-how was a key asset.”
MIKED UP Tom Smith’s choice of microphone has been the focus of much scrutiny owing to his voice almost qualifying as a freak of nature. Four years ago, musicnotes.com conducted a survey of contemporary singers including Bruce Dickinson, Matt Bellamy, Bono and Chris Martin, documenting their highest and lowest recorded notes. Tom topped the list by a long way with an impressive range of 4.75 octaves, from D3 to B7. It was one of the reasons that encouraged Adam to make a savvy change during the last week of the European tour in December. “Before I started with Editors, the band were already using Sennheiser vocal mics and although they had become accustomed to their sound, I felt that Tom’s e945 – whilst being a very good mic – wasn’t doing everything we needed. I’d used the Telefunken M80 before with an American artist and thought it would be a better fit for Tom’s exceptional range, because of its very wide frequency response and high SPL capability. Entec were able to dispatch an M80 upon request and the considerable difference it made will serve us well into the future.” Monitor man Chris Barton agreed that the mic swap has paid in dividends. He said: “We’re definitely getting more level and less spill from the new mic. I enjoyed the fact that when Tom wasn’t on the mic, I wasn’t having to lower the fader to prevent cymbal spill like I was forced to do with
UNCONVENTIONAL The mere sight of FOH engineer Adam Pendse’s compact workstation and its absence of hardware faders and pots aroused an assortment of curious, confused and downright befuddled responses from technicallyminded passers-by. Rather than take the conventional route, Adam, a selfconfessed “computer nerd”, chose to custom-build his own mixing solution, 12
the e945. Having such a belting voice, Tom often pulls away from the mic when he’s really going for it and the M80 gives us a happy medium when it comes to proximity effects. It’s the first time I’ve used an M80 and it’s been a pleasant surprise overall. If it works for Adam and it keeps the singer happy, it’s a win-win situation.” Elsewhere, Entec provided models such as Neumann KM184s, DPA’s d:vote 4099s for Ed Lay’s toms and snare drum, and DPA d:dicate ST4011A mics for his cymbals. VERSATILITY When Chris Barton was offered the monitor engineer position in the summer of 2015, he received some sage advice from a friend with previous Editors’ crew experience. “He told me I’d be mad to not accept the job, that I’d like the guys and their music, and that I’d be kept very, very busy. He wasn’t wrong!” Along with 4 d&b V-SUB sidefills, Chris’s kit choices from Entec’s warehouse included a DiGiCo SD10 console. “Moving to an SD10 at the start of the year was one of my better decisions. Its matrix option is excellent, offering a helpful solution for shout systems, because you can structure an extremely versatile network quite simply. Obviously, it’s good to use a desk that you can find anywhere in the world but it’s how it all plugs together and how easily any problems are handled that counts. That’s the human side of it, which Entec are very good at delivering.” Using Sennheiser G3 wireless systems for in-ear monitoring, each of Editors’ five band members has a stereo IEM mix, while Chris also creates three stereo mixes for technicians and the sidefills, as well as outputting to a thumper for drummer Ed Lay. “I generally take a simple approach to mixing and don’t bother with preprogrammed scenes – just level changes and mutes,” Chris commented. “Around 80% of the band’s material requires an element of playback support, so I’m dropping click tracks in and out for them. Ed constantly has a click in his ears but the other members are very selective about when they want to hear it.”
the room and the flying points made it difficult to get the PA hangs where we wanted them but this was where ArrayProcessing really earned its keep – it could analyse the situation and make adjustments to suit. It’s very rewarding when you can turn a situation around like that and this was definitely one of Editors’ best sounding shows.” “Fortunately, out of the whole year, I can’t remember one stinker!” claimed Chris. “Editors are particularly big in Holland and Belgium, and they sold out in minutes, so gigs like the Tivoli in Utrecht are perfect gigs for them but, to be fair, the band went down a storm everywhere. A week after we played British Summer Time in Hyde Park, the TW Classic festival at Werchter was another huge moment, not least because the band helped to curate the bill as well as headline, and they really rose to the occasion.” Entec was proud to lend its expertise and support to Editors throughout 2018 alongside fellow tour suppliers Siyan (lighting), Beat The Street (band and crew bussing), Fly By Night (trucking), Global Motion (freight) and Popcorn (catering). With spring dates already confirmed, 2019 may well shape up to be another substantial year for Editors. Jonny Clark commented: “Working with Editors has been a very rewarding experience for Entec. Folding Adam’s Waves LV1 into the rest of the system pushed some boundaries all round and liaising with Stumpy is a real pleasure. He’s a very affable guy to deal with and long may that relationship continue. The tour contributed to an incredibly busy year for us and this year appears to be following the same pattern, with a wide range of projects already confirmed.” TPi Photos: Tony Wooliscroft, Kris Verhelst, Entec Sound & Light. www.entecLIVE.com www.editors-official.com www.dbaudio.com www.digiconsoles.com www.waves.com www.telefunken-elektroakustik.com
MEMORABLE The UK tour began on October 7th at Southampton’s Guildhall and all was going swimmingly until five days later when Tom Smith was suddenly struck down by a bad cold prior to the show at Aberdeen’s Beach Ballroom. “It’s not a gig you regularly see on tour itineraries but I think that was part of the attraction,” noted Peter Eltringham. “It might have been one of the tour’s most memorable gigs had it gone ahead but Tom was struggling at soundcheck and the tough decision was made to cancel rather than compromise the remaining dates. “We were gutted because it looked and sounded so good, considering the restraints posed by the room. With weight loading being a problem there, we couldn’t fly anything so we used a ground-stacked design with four tops per side and it worked a treat. Fortunately, Tom was back on form the next day for the show at Barrowlands in Glasgow, which was really bouncing.” Another of Peter’s favourite moments from the UK tour was playing the Belfast’s Ulster Hall. He said: “The great thing about our system choice was that its flexibility catered for a whole world of scenarios. Ulster Hall is a lovely venue that poses a few challenges due to its general shape of
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BUILDING BRIDGES FOR JOSH GROBAN Following nine major US dates, internationally renowned singer, songwriter and actor, Josh Groban brought his Bridges tour to UK and Irish venues throughout December.
Although all four dates were major arenas, seating an audience of thousands, meant the tour’s staging was carefully designed to create an intimate and supportive atmosphere, allowing Groban to connect on a personal level with the audience. As well as a five-piece backing band, a 14-piece orchestra brought an additional dimension to Groban’s varied set, which included hits from his new album, musical theatre classics from Phantom of the Opera and his best-known ballads such as You Raise Me Up. Each concert on the tour incorporated performances from local choirs to bring a special touch to each venue. With so many performers on the stage, the production was carefully designed to keep the live performances front and centre, with little disruption from camera technicians on stage. The tour’s Live Director, Stu Merser of Vis-a-Vis Video was tasked with filling the huge auditoria with an uplifting and engaging energy that would capture all of the emotion of the musicians onstage. “Although the staging was very pared back, we had to work out how each audience member felt they were as close as they could be and getting this balance right for an arena-sized audience is very tricky indeed.” Vis-a-Vis Video deployed a giant
LED screen with 5mm pixel pitch, which acted as a huge, dynamic backdrop to the entire stage set up. Live camera feeds from Merser’s Blackmagic Design multi camera package were taken into Thundering Jack’s VideoDust live manipulation software to create unique video sequences. “We were able to mix live footage of Josh with a series of graphics, such as sheet music or a sparkling, glittery background, which again added another dimension to a very simple and understated production on stage,” explained Merser. The program fed out of the big screen was mixed live by the director on his bespoke production desk, which was built around an ATEM 2 M/E Production Studio 4K and ATEM 2 M/E Panel. As there were to be no camera operators on the main stage, Merser explained that this gave him the opportunity for some creative rigging options. “The three main cameras were URSA Broadcast units, including one at front of house with a fantastic Canon 4K box lens, which produces incredible images. Across the down stage edge, we had one on a BlackCam B60 tracking system, which an operator can move up and down the stage, and can also rotate around to the crowd, which was perfect for when Josh 14
came down into the crowd or was speaking to the audience during songs.” On stage, Merser had a range of remote cameras, including an innovative solution for capturing shots across the band. “We mounted a Micro Studio Camera 4K on a Polecam, which allowed us to move smoothly around the percussion and keys area of the stage and gave us some great angles. As with the other Blackmagic cameras, we wanted to keep our fibre chains, so we mounted a Blackmagic Camera Fiber Converter at the base of the Polecam system, which gave us power and control from the desk. “On a tour like Bridges creative video production plays a crucial role, as the artist wants every audience member to have an incredible experience, whether they are on the front row or way up in the stands. They need to feel
part of the performance, so the video coverage has to be crisp and clear, but it also has to complement the staging; it can’t overpower with theatrical tricks and effects,” he concluded. “The Blackmagic cameras and production kit give me the quality of production that can stand up to a large-scale project, yet also has a level of detail in their creative tools and features that allow me to create a unique mix each night to reflect the energy and electricity of each live performance.” TPi www.visavis.video www.thunderingjacks.com www.blackcam.de
L-ACOUSTICS K1 AND K2 RISES UP ON THE REVOLUTION 3 TOUR Alternative rockers Stone Temple Pilots, Bush, and The Cult joined forces and stormed North America for a six-week, 20-date Revolution 3 Tour. Escondido, California-based Sound Image was the touring sound reinforcement provider for the triple-headliner trek of amphitheatres and arenas. They supplied a full L-Acoustics K1 and K2 loudspeaker package at the specific request of the three bands’ FOH Engineers.
The tour’s typical daily PA deployment comprised left and right main arrays of ten L-Acoustics K1 enclosures over four K2, plus outfill arrays of six K1 over four K2. Low-frequency reinforcement were supplied by left and right hangs of eight L-Acoustics K1-SB and anchored by four L-Acoustics SB28 subwoofers per side, end-stacked below in cardioid mode. Front-fill was delivered by two pairs of Kara stacked atop the ground subs, while a dozen L-Acoustics LA8-equipped LA-RAK units provided all of the power and loudspeaker processing, managed via LA Network Manager software. “All three of the band’s house mix engineers—James ‘Hootsie’ Huth (Stone Temple Pilots), Steve McGuire (The Cult), and Jon Sword (Bush)—got together prior to the tour and decided that an L-Acoustics system would be the perfect rig for ‘Rev3,’ and they were right,” said Sound Image’s Chris Demonbreun, who served as the primary systems engineer on the tour. “The power and clarity of the K1 and K2 system really were ideal for this rock tour. Not only did it deliver pristine vocals that the crowd could easily
sing along with, but it also preserved the defined and driven punch of the guitars, which is so important to each of these bands’ sound. Everything sits just right in the mix with these boxes.” Demonbreun noted that he also recently wrapped up another tour with country artist Chris Young, who carried a sizable L-Acoustics K2 system. “K2 is the perfect PA for shed tours, especially when combined with KS28 subs,” he added. “It has a nice size, it’s super easy to fly and take down, and it’s really light, so you can hang a good amount of them without the need for a two-tonne motor. It’s also really nice having the K2 Panflex technology to control horizontal directivity, which helps with HF throw and also keeps HF off of walls. From country to rock to everything else, L-Acoustics systems deliver the goods.” TPi www.stonetemplepilots.com www.sound-image.com www.l-acoustics.com 16
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D&B KSL SYSTEM DEFINES BRING ME THE HORIZON’S FIRST LOVE British rockers kick off the European leg of their First Love World Tour with a d&b KSL System.
The hot-off-the-press KSL System is the latest loudspeaker line from d&b audiotechnik, is designed to deliver all the recognisable features of its SL lineage, from broadband directivity control to advanced rigging options. While the KSL System can be used as a standalone, self-contained package, a delay, or fill accompaniment to GSL. Bring Me The Horizon (BMTH) kicked off their First Love World Tour with performances in Germany, before travelling through Switzerland, Austria, Italy, the Netherlands and France. They completed the European leg in the UK with two flagship gigs at London’s Alexandra Palace. Miles Hillyard from SSE Audio Group oversaw the implementation of the KSL and GSL Systems for the tour, specifying it to complement SSE Audio’s d&b GSL package. “What better way to showcase the new KSL System than on a BMTH tour?” asked Hillyard. “Historically, we have used d&b J8s for their live shows, including the surprise performance at the Reading and Leeds festivals… but for this tour we had the opportunity to upgrade and I
offered the KSL System to production manager Rob Highcroft. He added: “We rigged the KSL as side hangs, to complement the larger GSL main hangs. The cardioid characteristics of the KSL and GSL were most notable, and the modern drivers make the System sound really transparent.” The set up consisted of 24 x GSL8s and 4 x GSL12s for the main hang, 12 x V12s used as front fills, 20 x KSL8s and 4 x KSL12s as side fills, with 13 x SL-SUBs. The system was powered by 48 x d&b audiotechnik D80 amplifiers. System Technician, Jack Murphy, commented: “It was our first time using both the GSL and KSL Systems and the cardioid nature of the cabinets was instantly noticeable. Rear rejection levels and ‘cleanliness’ on stage were noted by the band, Monitor Engineer Jared Daly and FOH Engineer Oliver Hutchinson. We all agreed that the KSL System maintains the d&b signature quality in the HF and the lows and low mid-range are fuller and more defined. We were also impressed with the new SL-SUB, the 18
output and quality of them is something else.” The KSL is smaller than GSL – the ‘K’ stands for ‘kleine’ (small) - but is nicknamed ‘Karl’ in the d&b universe. It brings the SL-Series’ familiar 2-way active design, high SPL and impressive low frequency cardioid performance to a far wider range of applications. And of course, like all of the range, it sits comfortably within the familiar d&b workflow. “When the KSL was deployed as a full side hang, its performance was right up there with the GSL,” Murphy continued. “The transition into using it as a side hang and also for delay purposes - as it was used for the Alexandra Palace shows - was seamless.” During the central Europe dates, venues varied from flat floors to arenas to theatres of different sizes and shapes. “The relatively lightweight nature of the GSL and KSL cabinets means we could always fly the appropriate number, not just enough, whether it was in one, two or three-point configurations,” Murphy explained. “We also used the KSL as a small ground stack in situations where flying points weren’t available, or where a full side hang was not necessary. Even a small, four-box ground stack gave a great full mix.” He concluded: “On BMTH, we keep the barrier tight and for the first time have introduced a thrust. The precise prediction of ArrayCalc, alongside the cardioid nature of the cabinet meant we could reduce the spill onstage and keep it constant with the varying room styles and constricting trim heights. It’s worth putting the effort in to get the results that the GSL/KSL Systems provide. I’m looking forward to working with it again.” TPi www.dbaudio.com
PROUD VIDEO SUPPLIERS TO THE PRODIGY NO TOURISTS 2018 UK AND EUROPEAN TOUR 01227 368867
BRITANNIA ROW PRODUCTIONS TRAINING: LIVE SOUND TECHNOLOGY COURSE STARTS 4 MARCH Ex-graduates of Britannia Row Productions Training’s Live Sound Technology Course, now in its seventh year, are working all over the world on many of the top tours, events, corporate shows and presentations and musical theatre production.
The intensive 12 week full time course is delivered from South Thames College, Wandsworth and from Britannia Row Productions HQ in Twickenham. The course also includes gig visits. The facilities at South Thames include lecture rooms equipped with state-of-the art PA systems, recording studios, and a sports hall and theatre for trainees to work live with bands and musicians. The facilities at Britannia Row include training rooms and a brand new rigging gantry for PA flying training. The course covers the basics of acoustics and electrics and all aspect of live sound – microphones, mic & IEM wireless equipment, speaker systems and monitors and onto system design, prediction, analysis and optimisation. The ‘house consoles’ for the course are new DiGiCo SD10’s. Alongside DiGiCo, other console brands taught include SSL, Yamaha and Avid.
The 60 days of lectures and practical days are all delivered by live audio professionals working at the highest level in the industry. This is a unique aspect of the course. Also unique to the course are great mentoring and networking opportunities with people working at the top of the live sound industry. The Yamaha Corporation of Japan which has relationships with many top universities around the world to recruit top graduates has Identified the Live Sound Technology Course as the best available holistic short course in live sound. Yamaha are putting a contingent of Yamaha employees from Japan onto the 2019 course. This is the third consecutive year that Yamaha employees from Japan have attended the course. These employees have a variety of differing roles such as R&D engineers, design and production. Most trainees on this courses want fast, intensive and all-round education in live sound to get there first foot on their career ladder. Others students 20
BRITANNIA ROW TRAINING
attending this course have been working for two, three of four years with a small sound company, venue or theatre company and want to expand and develop their knowledge and skills to move onto bigger projects. Yamaha want their employees to get a greater understanding of how their products fit into the overall picture and of the culture of their end customers and of the live industry. How we work, how we think. Britannia Row Productions Training are committed to helping any graduates who would like assistance in getting into work at the end of the course. At least one graduate off the course is offered the opportunity to continue their development with a one-year paid contract with Britannia Row Productions. The course fees are ÂŁ6000 plus VAT PART- TIME SESSIONS ALSO AVAILABLE. Our 16 week part-time Live Sound Fundamentals (LSF) and Live Sound Intermediate (LSI) Courses starts on Saturday 19th January and Sunday 20th January. LSF runs every Saturday though to May and LSI runs every Sunday. The sessions run from 10.00am to 5.00pm on these days at Britannia Row Productions HQ in Twickenham. Our courses can be booked as a whole or for those wanting to learn about or brush up on a particular subject, can be booked as specific sessions. For details of the full course or one day sessions and how to enrol for them, email email@example.com or visit: www.britanniarow.com/training The next courses will then commence for LSF on Saturday 31st August 2019 (to Saturday 14th December) and for LSI from Sunday, 1st September 2019 (to Sunday 15th December). The course fees are ÂŁ2000 plus VAT
master classes are delivered by Britannia Row Productions tutors. Enrol now for the September 2019 intake. For more details visit: www.souththames.ac.uk/courses/music-and-performing-arts/643-music-productionand-performance/5153-live-sound-production-bsc-hons-britannia-rowproductions-level-6.html TPi www.britanniarow.com/training
THE SOUTH THAMES COLLEGE/ BRITANNIA ROW PRODUCTIONS TRAINING 3 YEAR BSc HONS DEGREE COURSE IN LIVE SOUND PRODUCTION. This course run in conjunction with South Thames College and is validated by the University of Northampton. Student fee loans are available. All 21
Production Park Studios Team: Sam Wilkinson, Scott Matthews and Ant Forbes.
PRODUCTION PARK LAUNCH NORTH & SOUTH STUDIOS In January, Production Park merged its two rehearsal studio branches – LS Live and Cato Music, to unite under the Production Park banner to provide world-class production rehearsal spaces.
With studios in London and Wakefield, Production Park offers a service that can cater for all levels of the entertainment industry by providing unbeatable facilities and service from the most helpful team in the business, with the unique location connection between the economic value of the North of England and the convenience of London. Studio 001 boasts an arena-sized space that stands at 80ft tall and is located at Production Park’s HQ in Yorkshire. A facility that is easy to access from all corners of the UK, and is based amongst a cluster of creative manufacturing businesses, including renowned stage construction specialists, Brilliant Stages. Sister studio, The Mill, is conveniently located in London, offering a slightly different proposition in a versatile 4618 sq ft studio suitable for a range of activities, including but not limited to band and full production rehearsals, and film & TV location work. “Studio 001 is one of the largest and most impressive rehearsal facilities in the world and can easily cater for any size production, but we have
noticed that our clients also really appreciate the convenience of having The Mill in South West London as a base where they can service band rehearsals and promo duties before bringing the artists into the full sized production rehearsal in Wakefield” said Ant Forbes, Studio Manager at The Mill. “To help facilitate this symbiotic relationship between the two studios we have been facilitating a passenger transport link between the locations to make our clients lives easier” mused Forbes. Sam Wilkinson of Production Park Studio 001, added: “Over the winter months, we’ve been flat out upgrading and revamping both our studios ready for an exciting new chapter in Production Park’s future. We are proud to merge the Studio teams and feel that our existing reputation of exemplary customer service and technical knowledge is going to make anyone’s rehearsal with us a walk in the (production) park.” TPi www.productionpark.co.uk 22
JEFF WAYNE’S MUSICAL VERSION OF THE WAR OF THE WORLDS: 40TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR 2018 Dubbed as one of the most ground–breaking arena tours of all time, Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of The Worlds returned to UK arenas in late 2018. Jacob Waite was onsite at The O2 Arena, London, to witness the classic sci-fi production’s quadragenarian affair…
In 1978, CBS Records released Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of The Worlds. Fast-forward 40 years, and the double album has benefitted from success and critical acclaim across the globe; with over 15 million records sold, spending an incredible 330 weeks in the UK Album Charts (to date). Equally as successful and in veneration of four decades, the soundtrack based on HG Wells’ Victorian prose, took to the stage following its 2016 Farewell Thunder Child Tour, complete with a technologically-advanced production.
(Neeson) declared that in the late 19th Century, few people had considered the potential existence of advanced beings (a million to one, he said), and yet, planet Earth had in fact long been enviously observed by extraterrestrial life. And so, in keeping with this theme, the brief was an astronomical feat which encompassed a full-blown, musical, multi-media production. A myriad of special effects was depicted onto a white material backdrop which doubled as a projection wall (starring performers, effects and animation), as well as pyrotechnics, an automated bridge, illusions and a 35ft tall, 3-tonne, Martian Fighting Machine that hovered close to the audience, fired flames and landed centre stage.
THE EVE OF THE WAR The 2018 40th Anniversary incarnation featured a stellar cast with Jeff Wayne returning to the podium to conduct the 9–piece Black Smoke Band and 36–piece ULLAdubULLA Strings, while actor Liam Neeson retained his role in 3D holography as The Journalist. Jason Donovan reprised his role as Parson Nathaniel alongside West End actress Carrie Hope Fletcher as on-stage wife, Beth. Adam Garcia debuted as The Artilleryman, while acclaimed British singer–songwriter Newton Faulkner performed The Sung Thoughts of The Journalist, Inglorious front man Nathan James played The Voice of Humanity, and Anna–Marie Wayne returned to her role as Carrie, The Journalist’s Fiancée. Production direction was provided by Chromatic Productions’ Steve Nolan, a familiar touring hand with a wealth of experience in the entertainment industry as both a Production Manager and Producer. His suppliers of choice comprised all facets of the live touring circuit, Stufish Entertainment Architects; Brilliant Stages; Quantum Special Effects; PRG XL Video; Universal Pixels; RG Jones Sound Engineering; Popcorn catering; Stage Miracles; TransAm Trucking and Phoenix Bussing. During the opening sequence - ‘The Eve of the War’, The Journalist
BRAVE NEW SET CONCEPTS Tasked with devising the aesthetic elements of the show was entertainment architects, Stufish. Having collaborated with Jeff Wayne and Bill Kenwright on the Dominion Theatre run of The War of The Worlds, Stufish joined the reinvented 40th Anniversary version of the arena show. Set Designer, Ric Lipson, explained: “The 2016 West End Dominion Season of 88 shows took a lot of reference from the original arena production but was built on that style and transferred from arena scale into the theatre world. We learned a lot of things doing the theatre production that became interesting when coming back in 2018 to do the national arena show. The main design of the Dominion stage was heavily based on the original larger show but updated with the new aesthetic as well as adding some extra design elements to bring the production into a more immersive environment.” Lipson described how the idea of the design was formulated. “We wanted to find new ways to immerse the audience in both the spectacular music and video imagery from the show. The production has been reworked to include additional projection elements that bring the
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projections into the room and allow the full audience to feel closer to the filmic and live performer action.” Stufish created an updated design for the orchestra stands on the main stage with an additional thrust in the centre for performers to get close to the front audience. “The iconic Brave New World scene has been redesigned to bring the scene right into the heart of the audience. With a kinetic bridge that descends over the audience to connect to an additional satellite stage, allowing the Artilleryman to travel and perform into the arena in a more intimate way. Other upgrades to the video content include the 3D hologram projections of Liam Neeson. The video content was developed by AR Media Productions and they have been constantly making and reworking the content for each tour and theatre show in order to evolve and deliver even more depth to the video.” The sizeable set elements were secured by a series of 10 x 2-tonne CM hoists; 46 x 1-tonne EXE Rise hoists; 26 x 500kg EXE Rise hoists; 8 x 250kg EXE Rise hoists; 12 x Movecat 500kg variable speed hoists and 6 x Movecat 1250kg variable speed hoists. While the various truss elements included 14 x Tomcat Stacking Truss; 42 x Slick Minibeam Truss; 26 x PRG Bat Truss; 13 x James Thomas Engineering 52cm Supertruss and 6 x James Thomas Engineering 76cm Supertruss. The show elements operated by the VMK S 500 and VMK S 1250 motion hoists consisted of the iconic Martian Fighting Machine which descends onto the stage and a huge arched bridge running through the centre of the arena which was lowered over the audience during the show. This is where the hoist’s SIL3 safety factor, currently the highest on the market, really came into its own. The Movecat control desk is optimised visually, which makes programming easier and the touchscreen allows to easily select individual motors, for ease of programming and running. Its 3D graphics enabled the team to easily generate and program complicated shapes, such as raking multiple motor trusses, and it can even trigger cues from DMX and timecode. The 2018 rendition of the tour saw the inclusion of 2 x Movecat I-Motion
Expert consoles for control. PRG Automation Operator, Peter MacDonald said: “We recently added the Movecat Automation System to our inventory at PRG to offer our clients an even wider range of creative and fully integrated solutions. This was its premiere here in the UK. This system is the most recent and safest on the market, motion signals can now be synchronised with video and lighting cues which allow the motion operator, the lighting operator and the video operator to work together seamlessly.” Lipson reflected: “The Brave New World scene is my favourite. This scene captures the combination of performer, magnificent music, striking video content, mixed with the epic lowering of the scenic bridge, over the audience to connect the main stage to the B-stage. This truly immersive moment marks a really dramatic and immersive moment in the show.” Lipson discussed the trials and tribulations of the feat. “The biggest challenge was the different size of venues, particularly with the length of each arena. This meant that the bridge had to be created in modules so that it could change length between each venue. We wound up with three different lengths that allowed our bridge to fit into all of the different parameters.” Despite its challenges, the tour was lauded by critics and fans as the “best yet in the history of the arena shows.” Lipson reflected: “Stufish would like to thank Jeff Wayne and his team for bringing us on board. Production Manager, Steve Nolan, for all the support and teamwork through the development and AR Media for their continued collaboration on this version of the show. And finally, thank you to Brilliant Stages for delivering our design.” THE SPIRIT OF SHOW DESIGN In 2010, award-winning LD, Tim Routledge, assumed the role of TWOTW Lighting Designer and returned for his 5th stint. Eight years ago, he made some radical changes to the previous works; reprogramming the fully timecoded visual feast from scratch. Despite a busy year this time - which witnessed Routledge adorn TPi’s pages with the likes of Sam Smith’s The Thrill of it All and Florence + the 26
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Touring Lighting Director, James Scott.
Machine’s High as Hope tours – the LD couldn’t stay away and joined forces with this production for his final gig of 2018. He picked up the story: “It’s a good two-hour bit of fun. The show is loved by fans of Jeff’s epic score as well as those who just love a spectacular stage show. To be able to underscore such an iconic soundtrack is great. I can remember sitting underneath my duvet listening to the record when I was younger, so to be able to have taken it on in a professional capacity has been incredible. It’s really the music and the video that takes the lead on this show and as a lighting designer, I give the production a sense of dynamic to help the journey along.” For the latest incarnation, Nolan requested the overhead rig be simplified to incorporate pre-rigged truss, which rolls out quickly. Half of the 2014 lighting rig was also utilised with the corresponding half updated with newer fixtures. In addition, 75% of the programming from the last arena tour was re-purposed, updated and cloned accordingly. Routledge specified a myriad of Robe lighting fixtures including 6 x Robe BMFLs, 14 x Robe Robin Pointes and 14 x Robe MegaPointes. “The latest additions to the lighting rig were the MegaPointes which were used when portraying the sound effects of the show – affectionately named the ‘wee-oos’ - which also added a green effect and delivering a green stage wash. For over two decades, we’ve used Showtec Dominators, but they don’t really exist anymore and are tired, old bits of kit. For each Dominator we had, we swapped for 3 x Robe MegaPointes to create a similar effect and they work really well. All of the Heat Rays and the big battle scene lasers were also performed by Robe MegaPointes.” The intricate design also comprised a litany of GLP fixtures. In particular, 32 x GLP impression X4 Bar 20s which were used for backlight and the periphery of the bridge; 15 x GLP impression X4 Bars, 17 x GLP JDC1s and 2 x GLP Volkslicht RGBs, a staple of the Martian Fighting Machine. A huge arched bridge running through the centre of the arena was propelled midset, which brought the action closer to the audience for a captivating and
immersive experience. “We added in a load of GLP XBars to edge the band and the bridge during on this rig, which gave us a bit more flexibility. The GLP JDC1s are a great hybrid fixture, both the wash you can get out of it and the piercing strobe is immense.” In addition, 24 x Claypaky A.leda B-EYE K20 LED moving lights were fixed on the overhead rig. Two sides of the stage were lit with Philips VariLite VL3500 Washes, (four per side) while 4 x Martin by Harman MAC Viper Performance, 10 x SGM Light Q-7 and 12 x SGM Light P-5s made up the lighting rig. Routledge specified a MA Lighting grandMA2 lighting console alongside grandMA NPU. Entrusted with the day-to-day lighting operation was Suluko’s James Scott. “James was the perfect person to bring into the fold,” stated Routledge. “We get on really well and he understands what I’m looking for as a lighting designer. We worked on the Rita Ora and Florence + the Machine tours together, and he’s really great with timecode, which is essential in this show because of the number of layers involved. It’s critical to have someone who can timecode onboard because we could not do the show as thousands of effects are being triggered all the time.” For Scott, the brief included parts that were daunting and exciting. He explained: “I’ve been working with Tim for the best part of a year on a variety of projects and it’s been really fun. “Because we are continuing from the programming of the 2014 tour, he’s given me a bit of free rein to update the show and bring it into 2018 with the new fixtures in the rig. As a preexisting show, I was first introduced to the show during the re-programming and rehearsals,” he said. “If timecode was to stop for me during this production, I wouldn’t survive because we’ve got the film and visual content in sync with the lighting.” Despite being a fresh face to the TWOTW touring machine, Scott cut his teeth as an LD in the world of live theatre before finding his feet in rock ‘n’ roll. “It’s been great to work on this tour because it’s got the conventions 28
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PRG Automation Operator, Peter MacDonald.
of theatre and the fun of rock ’n’ roll. On one hand, there are very theatrical elements but there is also a band and an orchestra that are highlighted on specific sections of the score like guitar and bass solos its very rock ‘n’ rollesque. It’s also a very unique show and you don’t get many like this, so it’s been brilliant. “The real workhorse of this show is the PRG Best Boy GroundControl followspot [of which there are two] which we have on the front truss.” Routledge also praised the product. “Traditionally, we’ve used regular followspots. However, this time around, we were able to get PRG Best Boy GroundControl automated followspots in the rig, which was a really great coup and has helped us achieve more with the performers with more of an artistic edge.” Scott added: “PRG have been great suppliers, this production has a close relationship with them and this has been their gig from the start. They know everything about the show including the essential bits of kit we need. For example, the GLP Volkslicht RGB headlights left and right of the MFM are extremely rare. I don’t think many vendors stock them anymore and they’re essential to portraying the aesthetic of this iconic Martian Fighting Machine. They’re also the only fixtures that fit inside the recesses created many years ago.” Routledge echoed: “PRG have indeed been excellent. We’ve had the same crew chief and supplier on the tour and they understand what we’re doing because they’ve done it so many times. It’s nice to work with a supplier that understand the nuances, such as where the lights fit and the awkward bits of set. Having PRG onboard just works on this tour and their crew just get it.”
As a regular fixture of the show’s last few tours, Steve Nolan sought QSFX to assess the show’s special effects with a primary focus on developing the firing effect for the Martian Fighting Machine. QSFX CEO, Shaun Barnett, commented: “Our primary focus is to highlight the iconic soundtrack. However, from a theatrical perspective, we also mask some exits and create atmospheric effects which tie in with the visuals on the screen content.” When it came to show design, Jeff Wayne adopted a hands-on approach: “Initially, I sat down with Steve Nolan and Jeff Wayne to go through the narrative to identify any points where they wanted special effects to occur. Jeff Wayne is a true gentleman, we talked through how he wanted to progress the show and what special effects we could bring to the table. He was keen to push a new look and get more effects into the show, which was a great experience.” As part of the show design, QSFX was brought in to supply and deliver a tailored, tourable package, which featured pyrotechnics, smoke, confetti effects and CO2 jets. In 2016, QSFX introduced a pressurised liquid system to replicate the iconic Heat Ray fire beams, which shot from the Martian Fighting Machine to the downstage edge of the show. “We’re one of the first companies in the United Kingdom to have liquid systems and we’ve spent a lot of time developing that technology, which initially brought its fair share of challenges. In particular, because there was such a big gap between the 2014 tour and this run, technology has moved on and also our understanding of the system has progressed, so we’ve had to rebuild a brand-new liquid flame system, which has eliminated all of the prior creases.” For Barnett, health and safety is at the forefront of the QSFX’s deployment. “Traditionally, special effects and orchestras don’t go handin-hand - and nor should they! There are a lot of musicians on stage with expensive instruments which they personally own so it’s a challenging show for us to navigate. It’s integral for us to find the gaps to keep the orchestra, creatives and Jeff Wayne happy. From a production point of
THUNDER CHILD From fire jets shooting out of the floor, epic visuals of the battle sequences and the exploding NASA desk, Quantum Special Effects [QSFX], which celebrates 10 years on the road in April (many of them spent on the TWOTW tour!), provided a series of big looks throughout the production. 30
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Sound System Designer, Simon Honywill & System Engineer, Steve Carr; Monitor Engineer, Becky Pell.
view, it needs to be safe and achievable in every venue. “Thankfully, the whole show is run off timecode, so we just integrated our firing system into the timecode, which contains relevant ‘deadman’ switches. This gives us ultimate control over the effects.” Supervising QSFX’s involvement was Crew Chief Michael ‘Biscuit’ Morey and operating the show’s visual elements was SFX Technician, Kamal Canalp, who utilised his trustee wireless Galaxis to control the show. Barnett furthered: “It’s a tried and tested system which makes our lives very easy on the road in terms of load-in and load-out times; we don’t have to run cables anywhere because it’s all wirelessly controlled. We’re continually trying to push the boundaries and come up with a better way of achieving special effects. It’s been a pleasure to play a part in the production and we’d like to thank Steve Nolan and Jeff Wayne for their continued support.”
VISUALS FOR THE END OF THE WORLD Located in the backstage caverns of The O2, TPi located Universal Pixels Video Crew Chief, Robyn Tearle. Having worked on Nickelback, Kylie, and Queen + Adam Lambert tours, Tearle closed the year with some sci-fi action. “I was brought onto this tour through a longstanding relationship with Paul Wood. We go way back as we had worked together a lot at XL Video productions in the past, which is really helpful because we understand each other’s workflow.” The wall of projection with two hours of cutting-edge CGI enhanced visual content provided big looks. The sizable white front projection screen surface - 80ft wide x 20ft high – enjoyed high quality projection achieved via 8 x Epson EB-L25000U 25K Laser Projectors; the on stage left and on stage right roller screens (5m wide x 8m high) boasted 2 x Epson EB-L25000U 25K
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THE WAR OF THE WORLDS
Laser Projectors while The Journalist’s on-stage ‘Holonet’ Hologram DSC Gauze Screen (8m high x 8m wide) was made up of 2 x Epson EB-L1755U Laser Projectors. “Liam Neeson’s character, which provides pre-filmed content is shown on L-R IMAG screens to give a 3D visual effect. His on-stage presence is also projected centre stage using Epson products; as opposed to projecting in 3D, the character is formulated by a thin sheet of fabric.” Playback was made up of 2 x disguise 2x4 media servers (main and back-up). Framing the content was 2 x Hitachi SK-HD1200 camera channels with Canon XJ76 lenses at FOH, 2 x Agile ARC robocams, with one positioned underneath the Martian Fighting Machine, the other at FOH for stage management POV and an UP 3G block camera onstage covering the conductor, Jeff Wayne
Video Crew Chief Robyn Tearle with the team.
APOCALYPTIC SOUNDSCAPE Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of The Worlds remains one of the most challenging pieces of music to portray accurately in a live setting. From the typography of modern arena spaces to the wealth of musical elements, from the band to orchestra, narration, acting and singing; playback and surround sound effects, over 140 input channels, the show’s audience has become accustomed to an unprecedented level of detail. The show is mixed entirely in surround sound and features original elements of Jeff Wayne’s 1978 score, alongside the live sound mix. Shouldering the sonic pressure was TPi Award-winning Sound System Designer, Simon Honywill, who was on his fifth tour of duty, having first piloted the apocalyptic soundscape back in 2009. Three years later, Honywill was asked to mix the surround sound track for the concert film of Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of The Worlds, which was released in cinemas in the US and UK in April 2013. He told TPi: “It’s a slightly different audio design compared to the last tour in 2014; the front fills are different and we’re utilising a bit more PA.” In terms of production, the inordinate amount of inventory provided by sound, lighting, video, pyro and stage / motion control suppliers presented a logistical nightmare for Nolan and his team. Fortunately, sound rental company, RG Jones Sound Engineering, has wide experience of this production. Honywill said: “RG Jones have been great. They’ve invested heavily in some great tour packaging, which has helped a lot. From my point of view, it has been excellent service, great support and it’s really welcoming. We’re like family, really.” The audio vendor returned the show’s touring fold to utilise its longstanding relationship with manufacturer Martin Audio, and in particular, its MLA system. In late 2014, the show added a sound system design using Martin Audio’s flagship MLA system to create a superior soundscape that the show has enjoyed on its last three outings. Having again selected MLA as his PA of choice, Honywill was eager to extoll its unique virtues. “I wouldn’t do this show with any other PA,” he stated unequivocally. “In fact, I couldn’t do the show. One of the crucial elements is the narration and if the intelligibility is compromised people rightfully complain, as it’s an iconic part of the production. On top of that MLA just sounds awesome.” Honywill’s primary task was to design a sound system that delivered the requisite power and fidelity and develop methods to accurately and reliably reproduce the complex surround soundscape in a range of challenging
sonic environments. Some arenas seem determined to challenge this, often arced with glazed VIP boxes at the horseshoe end. Honywill acknowledged that this will generate unwanted reflections. “With music you can often get away with it, but it would destroy the intelligibility of the narration [with a conventional PA]. Fortunately, we can mitigate it by using the ‘Hard Avoid’ setting [in the Martin Audio Display software]. “In Nottingham Arena, for instance, it made a massive difference, and enabled us to focus the acoustic energy very effectively and reduce unwanted reflections for a large portion of the audience. It’s an absolutely invaluable technology.” Liverpool Echo was another venue where System Engineer Steve Carr, assisted by Matt Sussex, needed to ‘Hard Avoid’ the concrete wall which runs around the arena between the lower and upper seating tiers. The design of the Martin Audio system had been slightly modified from the 2014 production with minor changes to the front fills, a bit more ordnance in the PA dept, and the fact that the hangs were pushed further upstage to preserve sightlines meant that bespoke measurements had to be undertaken to ensure accuracy of the optimisation. In the tour’s 20,000-plus capacity venues, production fielded 20 x MLA elements per side, with 16 x MLA Compact providing outfills. To compensate for the slightly odd position of the main hangs, 8 x MLA Mini elements on each stage wing were focused at the front to keep the energy level off the stage, driven by Martin Audio multi-channel iKON amplifiers, which provided an elegant solution. Martin Audio DD12s covered the extremities of stage left and right front rows to maintain coverage consistency, while under the stage and at the base of the thrust were 16 x MLX subs in a spaced arc array. Towards the rear of the auditorium, there were two surround positions, each comprising eight W8LM Mini line arrays per side. The quality of the narration - every word of Neeson’s was commentary highly intelligible - and meant it was never fighting through the context of
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a loud rock theatre show. That every word was crystal clear was due in no small part to MLA, and Carr’s programming expertise. With the PA unusually set 2.5m upstage of the downstage edge, precision with optimisation was vital. “If I were to apply an existing measurement incorrectly, I could end up covering the front edge of the stage with PA. I have arrived at each venue well ahead of the crew, and were lots of benefits to that. “The vital thing is that the whole stage is pre-rigged on the arena floor and once the lighting rig goes up, the whole monitor riser wheels into position and then generate my optimisation file for EQ and angles, load it into VU-NET [Martin Audio’s control software], and tune and time align each array.” But even then, I needed to remain alert. “There were times when I’ve done optimisations in the morning and then production have said ‘we need to trim the PA 50cm higher’ and I’ve needed to re-optimise it.” The speed that this can be accomplished in a time-critical environment is a measure of Martin Audio’s advanced technology and ability to adapt on the fly. Honywill controlled his mix on a DiGiCo SD7 with Fader Expansion. With three fully loaded 56-input racks and an input count of 168 channels. As well as the band and 36-piece string orchestra, they alone occupied the majority of two SD racks. The balance of the high input count was made up from surround effects, playback and the six guest artists, each wearing a main and spare RF pack. The playback machines also generated time-code, which played a crucial part in enabling both Honywill and Monitor Engineer Becky Pell to mix the complex soundscape, while Ricky Spiers and Nathan Kennedy supervised stage and radio mics. “DiGiCo is my console of choice,” Honywill added. “The SD7 extension allows me to have immediate access to more input faders, and the far-left fader bank is the system matrix, so Steve can access it without getting in my way. I also use timecode extensively. It’s easier to do mix changes. You can’t do it any other way on this show. For this tour, I’ve actually factored in less timecode because you can doze off,” he laughed. A series of microphone brands came into play for the tour, including DPA, Jez Riley French and Shure. Honywill explained: “Sonically, it’s a big powerful show and it’s about making sure the vocals and the narration are up there. It’s not really a rock ’n’ roll show, but it’s rock music and yet
everybody is singing on headsets, so that’s the big challenge alongside the intelligibility of the narration.” The percussion required a mixture of Shure and DPA microphones. DPA 4099s were specified for violas, cellos and basses; DPA 4061s for violins. For drums, Shure Beta 58s and 91s for kick, DPA 2011s for snare, hi-hat and overheads, while DPA 4099s were specified for toms. Honywill also deployed microphone manufacturer and sound artist, Jez Riley French C-series Contact Microphones for the Persian tar and harp (which also featured DPA 4061s). French told TPi: “I’ve been designing and building these specialist contact microphones for some years now; their wide frequency range especially in the mid and low ranges allows for a very immersive sound from surfaces and instruments. They’re widely used by sound artists and composers like me, but also play a key role now in the fields of film, TV, games and theatre sound design.” The guitars and keyboards were all Radial Engineering DIs. On-stage vocals were achieved by DPA 4088 headsets on a Shure Axial RF system. “On top of all that lot there are 48 channels of playback handled 2 x 24-track Fostex 2424 with fully redundant back up which drives the surround sound, which includes the original effects from the 1978 album.” MONITORING & WIRELESS COMMS Situated stage right was Monitor Engineer, Becky Pell. Yoga therapist, sound engineer, and writer; the touring triple threat walked TPi through monitor world. “Simon and I have been good mates for years and we’ve both worked on Glastonbury each year. I’m a fairly standard rock and pop touring sound engineer so this tour was a step outside my usual arena,” she explained. “However, it’s been really fun, and I have to thank Simon for calling me to ask if I fancied coming to work on Mars!” she joked. Pell also extended her back catalogue of mixing with the arrival of headworn microphones. “It’s a bit of a new world for me because I’m used to handhelds. This show is a hybrid of progressive rock, theatre and classical so there’s been a bunch of new things for me to work with like the headword mics and people referring to things in bar numbers. I’m setting scenes by bar now, which is very new to me but is essential for this production.” The rock ‘n’ roll yogi opted for a hardwire IEM system solution for the orchestra. “We had 38 channels of RF because all of the guest artists and the 34
THE WAR OF THE WORLDS
band were on radio in-ears and half the band are on radio in-ears, while the guest artists are all on the radio mics. The RF coordination is a job in itself, which I take care of, so it keeps me pretty busy.” Overseeing the playback and communications, as well as assuming the role of keyboard tech, was Project Engineer, Sam Mannis. The communications specialist was brought into the fold to bring a wealth of experience to the heavily timecoded show. “This arena tour was a really technically demanding and interesting production, I’ve really enjoyed being a part of it. Typically, large matrix communications systems aren’t heavily involved in a rock ‘n’ roll production but because of the scale of this show and as everyone is chasing timecode here, it’s essential.” The fully redundant playback system was provided by James ‘Brew’ Henry, Breward at Production Audio Solutions. Mannis assumed Brew’s former role on the tour. “I was tasked with distributing the timecode to everybody and that underpinned the entire show and encompassed all departments of the production, so I worked closely with everyone to make sure they got the right numbers at the right time.” Mannis specified a Riedel Bolero Wireless System, which included up to 6 full-duplex channels along with Riedel Artist Intercom and Clear-Com Helixnet Beltpacks, all supplied by Creative Technology. “This tour marked my first outing with Riedel Bolero, which is absolutely flawless. It is by far the best duplex wireless system I’ve ever used in terms of audio quality and RF performance. As a DiGiCo pro, Pell opted for an SD7 and utilised the 3 racks (gainshared with FOH) to provide control. “I’m cut and dry DiGiCo. I love any DiGiCo that will do the job, but the SD7 is the Rolls Royce of a mixing desk and I couldn’t do it on anything smaller... I’m at capacity and I’ve filled her up,” Pell enthused. The entire on-stage ensemble were on in-ear monitors (9 band members, 8 singers, the string orchestra and Jeff Wayne). In particular, Sennheiser G3 radio IEMs and Shure P9HW hardwired IEMs. On the technical
side of the production, for the 40th anniversary of his iconic masterpiece, Jeff Wayne utilised KLANG:technologies Klang:fabrik 3D IEM placement, which in his own words, added an “extra dimension” to the proceedings. The orchestral conductor was introduced to KLANG - the world’s first truly immersive 3D in-ear mixing technology by Pell, who had previously road-tested its qualities on tour with Anastacia. Pell recounted the story: “I first encountered KLANG when Karrie Keyes of the Soundgirls organisation asked me if I’d write an article about psychoacoustics, culminating in discussing KLANG’s technology and how it can help monitor engineers and musicians. I was keen to be involved and asked the guys at KLANG if I could take a demo unit out on my tour at the time - Anastacia - to have a play around with and get a feel for it. I was really impressed with the product, both with how it sounded and what it let me create, and also the fact that the space created allowed me to reduce the central element of a mix - i.e. vocal for a singer or click for a drummer - by as much as 6dB. That’s extremely significant in protecting hearing. What I also liked was the fact that it’s a very natural way to listen. KLANG is based on the science of binaural hearing - that is, how we perceive sounds naturally - so it’s far less fatiguing for the brain and ears to listen to than stereo, which is very unnatural. All of these elements led me to think that KLANG would be perfect for Jeff’s mix.” Pell approached him prior to the tour and suggested that he listen to the KLANG demo and compare its 3D properties to stereo. He was immediately on board with the idea, recognising that the spatial placement on offer would be of great benefit. She expanded: “The War of The Worlds is a lot more involved than your average rock ‘n’ roll tour - Jeff has created this beautifully produced album and my job is to recreate it as faithfully as possible. When he’s conducting, he wants to hear it in its entirety. It struck me that it’s a lot of information - 168 inputs to get into a stereo mix - and I had the idea that KLANG would help me to create space within all of that... to create depth and width and 36
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THE WAR OF THE WORLDS
height and just be able to find separation in the midst of all these elements. It’s proved an absolute winner for him.” The mix for Jeff Wayne represented the full range of his creation, with every aspect clearly audible. The KLANG 3D mix allowed for the placement of what might be described as ‘awareness’ elements - effects and surround sound - lower down and behind or to the side, whilst the more critical elements he is focused on are placed higher and in front. It is clear that he considers KLANG to be a significant step forward: “When I’m conducting, I’ve got a band on one side and a symphonic string orchestra on the other and with the KLANG system, the placement of those elements is very much as I’m seeing them, rather than just having a good general mix. The result is that it’s very much more alive - more 3D. I had a better balance in my head, so the sound quality was at a completely different level now than previously. I’d definitely like to stay with the KLANG system whenever I’m performing with in-ear monitoring.” In practical terms, KLANG is a straightforward addition, as Pell confirmed: “It’s very user friendly and takes just a few minutes to get set up. Once it’s patched, I’m basically unaware of it. I have the icon on my computer screen showing where everything is, but it doesn’t actually affect the way I mix - it’s just there, set, creating lots of lovely space!” Jeff Wayne summed up: “The system gives me this extra dimension. When I take into account the spatial placement it provides, it’s hard to see why anyone - bands, solo artists with musical accompaniment or any show wouldn’t want to enjoy the benefits of KLANG.” Pell praised the trusted audio vendor. “I used to work for RG Jones many years ago. I started my career there as a youth before going freelance; they’re really great people to work alongside. It’s like going home or seeing your family again. They’ve got a great bunch of people on this tour who know what they’re doing.”
Evoking generation-after-generation of attendees, TWOTW has acquired critical acclaim along the way in the shape of two prestigious UK Ivor Novello Awards, the US Best Recording in Science Fiction and Fantasy, as well as Jeff Wayne scooping Classic Rock’s ‘Showman of The Year’ Award. He recently concluded on the official TWOTW website: “In June 1978, my original double album was released. I had no idea if it would vanish as quickly as one can say... “ULLAdubULLA!” But here we are today, celebrating its 40th Anniversary and seeing the newly re-mastered original double album sitting on top of the UK vinyl album charts. Bringing The War of The Worlds to life in many of the world’s finest arenas has been the most amazing experience for me over the last twelve years. We’ve achieved more than we ever thought was possible both musically and technologically.” The tour is a visual and sonic spectacle thanks to the production crew, suppliers and roadies involved. At its core, the high-energy show held the conventions of theatre-come-rock show, but the overriding message is one of enlightenment. In the 19th Century, the chances of anything coming from Mars were a million to one but in a 21st Century ravaged with uncertainty and artistry at every corner, a Martian Fighting Machine might just be a welcomed alternative. Furthermore, if the alien invasion of Earth does arrive to put us out of our current political misery, let’s hope the production values are just as gratifying. TPi Photos: Jessica Gilbert, Sarah Womack, Stufish & TPi www.thewaroftheworlds.com www.chromatic.co.uk www.timroutledge.co.uk www.suluko.com www.stufish.com www.brilliantstages.com www.q-sfx.com www.prg.com www.unipix.tv www.rgjones.co.uk www.jezrileyfrench.co.uk www.popcorncatering.com www.stagemiracles.com www.transamtrucking.com www.phoenix-bussing.co.uk www.production-audio.co.uk
EPILOGUE Celebrating its 40th anniversary, Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of The Worlds showed it has lost none of its momentum or ability to thrill. Constructed around its fire-firing, Martian Fighting Machine against the backdrop of a captivating wall of projection and a myriad of special effects; the production encompassed both trusted and the latest developments in touring technology. Four decades on, the latest chapter of the multimedia spectacular is an apt reflection of the virtuoso’s magnus opus, which has witnessed the project attract waves of devoted followers since its original release. 38
NILE RODGERS & CHIC Sporting an elegant production design, disco icons Nile Rodgers & Chic thrilled crowds in December on their first-ever UK arena tour. Mark Cunningham reports from The O2, London.
NILE RODGERS & CHIC
In the late 1970s, when disco music was outselling every other genre, Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards were among the few musicians to transform it into an art form with Chic, a collective responsible for a sizeable portion of my teenage soundtrack. From Dance, Dance, Dance to Good Times and My Forbidden Lover and beyond, the hits kept coming, forming the backdrop to many a cider-fuelled adventure at the local boogie pit. Since the passing of Bernard in 1996, Nile has been slowly rebuilding the Chic brand. And after the release of It’s About Time, Chic’s first all-new studio album in 26 years, Nile and his latest line-up, responded to popular demand in December with a sold-out UK arena tour. With an ‘all killer, no filler’ set list drawn from both the band’s legacy and the catalogue of monster hits that Rodgers, now 66, has produced for the likes of David Bowie, Duran Duran, Madonna, Sister Sledge and, more recently, Daft Punk, Chic consistently delivered joy in abundance, keeping the crowds on their feet throughout. Following a summer spent on the festival circuits of Europe and America, planning for the It’s About Time tour began in September when tour manager Nikki Cunningham, Visuals Director Ian Woodall and Nile’s Manager Merck Mercuriadis came together with newly-elected production maestro, Nick Gosling. “My relationship with Nile and Chic started seven years ago when I was working for the Manchester backline company, Big Fish,” explained Gosling. “Over time, I became the person they’d call when they wanted any production. Things turned a corner when they asked me to production manage Chic’s New Year’s Eve 2017 show for the BBC, so I was thrilled to be invited to PM this new tour.”
In the show, Nile told his audience about how, in late 2010, he reevaluated his life and career upon being diagnosed with cancer. Said Gosling: “It made him explore new collaborations in the studio and play more live shows that would eventually lead to a new chapter for Chic and a steady increase in production values. Nile’s live presence with Chic began to build up from 2011 onwards. They’ve have been festival favourites with notable appearances at Glastonbury and Bestival, and it’s a natural progression to now play arenas like The O2.” Having appreciated the lighting designed by Mike Smith of Bryte Design for the New Year show, both Gosling and Ian Woodall were keen to bring him into the fold as the PM made his initial crew appointments, including Stage Manager, Richard House; Production Assistant, Julie Cotton; Audio Technician, Ben Byford and Drum Technician, Wayne Chappell. The PM also credited David Lawrence of DNG Production & Event Crew as a key source of advice. “I would trust these people with anything,” Gosling commented. “Another important member of our team is our tour rigger Jim Allison, who was sent to us by UK Rigging and has done a sterling job. I put the remainder of the production out to tender and was very pleased with the outcome. We settled on SSE to provide audio, Lite Alternative (lighting & rigging), ER Productions (special effects) and Transition (video). I also wanted to go back to using Fly By Nite, not least because Graham Butler is someone I rate very highly as a lead driver.” The vendor list was completed by Beat The Street (buses), caterers The Pantry Maid and radio supplier Radiotek. Gosling said: “They suggested the Motorola DP4600, a departure from the GP340 that we previously used. The sound quality and reliability was greatly improved, and the radios were 42
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NILE RODGERS & CHIC
delivered pre-programmed which saved us time from day one.” Starting the tour without technical rehearsals was a challenge. With a reduced presentation, the band played seven mid-size shows in Europe before heading straight into five UK arenas with the full six-truck production. Gosling added: “The design had to be revised slightly to ensure we could load everything in and be ready by 3pm on the first show day at the SSE Hydro, as well as incorporating our two support acts, Cosha and Franc Moody, and DJ MistaJam.”
horizontally on the floor; each segment is lifted on a single motor and a bar connects them. The finishing touch was to curve the trusses around the ball.” Smith piloted the show from an MA Lighting grandMA2 full-size console, while an MA2 Lite was used as a tech desk for dimmers. The LD’s fixture choices otherwise majored in Martin’s MAC Viper range (Profile, Air Fx and Performance) as well as MAC Axiom hybrids, Thomas Molefay and a half mirrorball at stage left and right. “Rather than using conventional FOH followspots, we have a system comprising 4 Robe Robospots that are positioned on the front truss,” informed Smith, who worked with programmer Dominic Adams. “There are a lot of spot pick-ups in the show and we needed something that was really tight, so we went for a system that allowed me to control everything apart from pan and tilt, which the guys do backstage. Nile wants to look out into the audience regularly and see them clearly, and if you have a low-level spot it just blinds him, spoiling his interaction. With the design complete, a full 3D visualisation session with video and lighting was set up at Bryte’s studio in Birmingham, providing what Smith described as the nearest they got to a production rehearsal. “When we walked into the first gig in Glasgow, it was obvious how much that session paid off. It looked amazing.” The crew from lighting rental company Lite Alternative were Alex Johnson, Mark Goodall, Kris Lundberg, Chris Taylor, Ben Rogerson, Phil Sharp and Scotty Owen.
THE VISUAL VIBE Chic’s audiences are out to party and it is understandable that many designers would have leaned towards importing classic iconography from the ’70s disco era for this tour. Woodall, however, was careful to preserve the brand’s integrity above resorting to an overtly ‘cheesy’ or technical look. The result was more Studio 54 and (much) less ‘Saturday Night Fever’ – a styling referred to as ‘Chic Future Disco’. Unsurprisingly, LD Mike Smith’s opening gambit was to consider a mirrorball, however, his proposal came with a mighty difference. He explained: “We needed an alternative take on it and so we designed a giant mirrorball shape out of lighting fixtures, which gives us a wide range of options during the show, creating numerous layers to help the performance build on itself. It appears to be rotating at times but that’s purely the effect of the lights chasing.” The creation, dubbed the ‘Death Star’ by some crew, was made up of Claypaky Sharpys and Martin by Harman MAC Aura XBs, and the team struck a fine balance between custom fabrication and off the shelf elements. Smith said: “It’s built with a standard truss circle and custom frames made by Total Solutions. The whole thing is formed of four segments that have a spherical shape when flown together. All the lights are pre-rigged
C’EST VIDEO It was eight years ago that Ian Woodall first met Nile Rodgers. “He was in Ibiza and saw a show I was working on,” he recalled. “I had the impression he’d never seen video screens before in this context and we had a chat that 44
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NILE RODGERS & CHIC
System Technician, Adam Walker; FOH Engineer, Dave Shepherd SFX Technician, Joe Jackson; Lighting Designer, Mike Smith; Video Director, Rhodri Shaw.
led to me being hired for Chic. Our video production has been increasing, but this tour marks the first time we’ve been able to plan anything of this scale, and we were very into the idea of integrating tall video columns.” And so it was to be that five 1.8m x 7.8m panels of Roe Visual CB5 5mm LED screen would tower behind the band, while 4.8m x 7.2m IMAG screens bookended the stage at each side. The lightweight, carbon-based CB5 has increasingly earned favour, and Rhodri Shaw of tour supplier Transition Video counts himself amongst its biggest fans. “The image quality is superb,” he claimed, “and there are many practical advantages that come with CB5, including very fast rigging.” Along with a crew that included Systems Engineer, Tom Bassford; Camera Operator, Bruce Selkirk, and Video Technicians Carl Stage, Zak Layton and Julien Hogg (also a Camera Op), Transition’s package included 3 Ikegami HDK-79 EXIII cameras and 4 onstage Panasonic hotheads. Shaw, the former Picture Works and Video Design project manager who founded Transition in 2015, said: “We are ISO recording all the cameras and the hotheads have onboard recorders, so we can archive every show.” While Shaw presided over a Blackmagic ATEM 2 M/E broadcast switcher to cut the camera feeds for IMAG, a Plexus fibre system allowed him to transmit them to Ian Woodall’s server at FOH, enabling him to add colour treatment and effects alongside the video content. “Ian has a 4K quad split output which we send back down the fibre system to our processors,” he explained. Woodall’s choice of server was Resolume’s Arena 6 – an option rarely seen on arena productions, but one that offered a number of advantages. “I couldn’t travel with a larger system and a rack,” he commented. “I had to come up with a solution that was under 32kg, would go on a plane and allow me to capture all the camera channels plus effects.
“A lot of people consider Resolume to be a VJ brand but it’s what I needed for this band, who are completely live with no time code, and while there is a set list, it isn’t always adhered to. This means I have to react exceptionally fast when things change. Nile and the band have this uncanny communication based on winks and nods, and over the years I’ve developed an understanding of what might be coming next.” CONTENT DESIGN Chic’s efforts to promote the sense of a club night atmosphere were reinforced a rich palette of brand new screen visuals from Bryte Design’s specialist content department. “We set out some proposals,” noted Woodall. “Omitting the cheese factor was actually much harder than we imagined because some of designers’ responses were right in that pocket, but Bryte’s feedback was spot on. “Working with Video Designer / Producer Paul ‘Pablo’ Beckett, I knew I was dealing with someone who completely understood the vibe, so after giving him a brief, I left him alone to let his creative juices flow. Sure, there were a few changes, but overall he did a magnificent job.” By producing video content in-house, Bryte is able to form a close working bond with creative directors, LDs and clients. Its contributions to the Chic tour underlined the strength of this chemistry, as Pablo aimed to retain the act’s disco root sensibilities while introducing a modern twist. Pablo’s stunning work was evident from the opening number, Everybody Dance, whose accompanying content was generated from the band’s own dance moves, which were filmed to enable the vector motion information to be extracted using RE:Vision’s Twixtor tool and plug-in suite. Pablo said: “Various particle systems and other effects were driven by this information, and composited back in to the footage with other pre-recorded motion 46
S S E TE L E L E P R COM WI O I D AU
NC E D I F ON
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NILE RODGERS & CHIC
Production Manager, Nick Gosling with Production Assistant, Julie Cotton & Stage Manager, Richard House. Transition Video Technicians Carl Stage and Zak Layton; Systems Engineer, Tom Bassford; Director / Project Manager, Rhodri Shaw & Camera Operator, Bruce Selkirk.
capture data to create segments, loops and other elements.” Two Chic-produced hits by Sister Sledge were the springboard for some compelling screen action. “For He’s The Greatest Dancer, we wanted to accentuate the depth of the stage and make the screens a continuation of it, so we created a particle system using Superluminal’s Stardust. By assigning blocks to each particle position, we could create a 3D wall with total control over the depth and position of each individual block, then feed either video textures or audio data into this system to create different loops. “We knew that we wanted to feature Nile’s Hitmaker guitar and Lost In Music was the perfect song. One of our 3D artists modelled the guitar in full 3D and rigged it so we could animate the Hitmaker in different ways. The aim was to make it in such a way that we could tweak the guitar so it could feel at times very abstract but then transform it back to its ‘normal’ state.” Le Freak, the show’s penultimate gem, underlined the inspiration drawn from glamour of New York’s Studio 54. Pablo commented: “The majority of the content we produced was delivered in discrete layers so that Ian could have greater control over the way it appeared on-screen. Le Freak is a good example of this, allowing Ian to mix and match content with live camera more simply and achieve greater sophistication than if all of the content was ‘baked’ in.”
discovered that the truss gave us a greater dispersion impact. “Then on Good Times at the end of the show, 6 StadiumBlasters (4 in the pit and 2 at FOH) fire 18kg of white confetti over the crowd for a big crescendo. I think it’s one of the better products in the MagicFX range and I cue them via DMX from a High End Systems Road Hog 4 console behind stage left where I have a good line of sight.” THE CHIC SOUND After deputising at FOH on five occasions, Dave Shepherd took over the FOH sound engineering role from John Ryan, who retired last summer following a long association with Chic. “They liked what I was doing and kept me on, and it’s been absolutely brilliant!” he smiled. An Avid user since the manufacturer’s consoles first hit the live market, the S6L-24D is now Shepherd’s regular choice after purchasing it for his company BCS Audio, which worked closely with the tour’s audio vendor SSE Audio Group. Shepherd said: “It really is one of the best consoles out there right now and it’s been a good asset, especially in the light of having no prior rehearsal time. I started with a 32D and then moved to a 24D because once you know the gig you can contain everything perfectly well within the custom layout.” Shepherd was particularly impressed with the S6L’s integration with ProTools. “‘I recorded the first show and that’s given me the option of a virtual soundcheck at my leisure. With this outfit, fans pay good money to watch the soundcheck in a kind of semi-performance mode, so it’s not a conventional situation and ‘going virtual’ means I can try things out without affecting that ‘show’.” Working with this band at FOH, Shepherd is on the receiving end of sublime musicianship - the kind that doesn’t rely on playback, hence the modest channel count of 41. Observing the chemistry between bassist Jerry Barnes and drummer Ralph Rolle - one of the world’s finest rhythm sections – is akin to attending a masterclass in skill and wit.
SFX To add extra sizzle to the visuals, Nick Gosling liaised with ER Productions’ Ryan Hagan and George Baker who supplied special effects, along with SFX Technician Joe Jackson. New to the company, Jackson had previously worked as an ER Productions freelancer before joining in November. Describing his one-man set-up, Jackson said: “We have 24 Power Shots that are positioned on the front truss and there’s a point during Le Freak when they fire a combination of 12 silver and 12 gold metallic electric streamer cannons. They were originally on the mirrorball light pod but due to Cardiff [Motorpoint Arena] having a lower roof we had to move them, and 48
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NILE RODGERS & CHIC
Guitar Technician, Gert Marckx.
MEET THE HITMAKER
“The source material is beyond compare,” agreed Shepherd, “although the dynamics can be a task to control without taking everyone’s face off or going the route of squashing the life out of it. There’s up to 20dB variation in Jerry’s bass playing, so I’m putting him through two stages of compression. Kimberly Davis’ amazing vocals go from being quiet and sensual to the point of almost breaking glass. To deal with that, I’m liberally applying dynamic EQ which, like the preamps, compression and all the effects on the console, sounds excellent straight ‘out of the box’.” With the set list flowing so unpredictably from night to night, Shepherd chose to avoid pre-programming scenes on the Avid for the time being and, instead, take an ‘on the fly’ approach. “Even though I’m introducing some of the desk’s processing, there’s a lot of fader movement going on. I’m riding some of those channels frequently during the show and, of course, fighting against the arena. When you’ve played somewhere like the Heineken Music Hall in Amsterdam, you are really spoiled because the dryness allows you to really get to grips with the sound. Unfortunately, those venues are rare!” Shepherd added: “When you break it down, this gig is a party and you’ve got to mix it that way. People want to get up and dance, feel the kick drum and imagine they’re in a nightclub, or at least as much as they can in a 20,000-capacity venue.” Nile Rodgers & Chic aim to replicate the sounds of the original records as closely as possible in the live environment, and Shepherd claimed that prioritising Shure microphones has been helpful. He said: “Nile’s Hitmaker was always recorded with a single SM57, so that’s what we put on his amp. I pull up a fader and it’s the classic Chic sound, right there. We also have Shure models all over the kit. The other brand we use is DPA. When I started with the band, I changed the vocal mics to DPA d:facto II condensers and they have improved clarity and rejection; the horn players are also now on wireless DPA 4099 clip-on mics.” With a crew led by Dave Ryan, SSE fielded an L-Acoustics PA system, run over Dante, Lake processing and LA Network Manager, with Adam Walker assuming the System Technician role. Describing the configuration, he said: “The main hangs of 12 x K1s with 4 x K2s are more than enough to handle any size of UK arena without ruining your target curve, and it’s been working very well for Dave and I.” Each side hang contained 10 x K1 and 4 x K2 enclosures for each side hang, while four stacks of 2 x KARA loudspeakers and two stacks of three were used respectively for infill and outfill. On the ground, the team elected to use a cardioid sub bass arc of 24 x KS28s in a bid to achieve the most even dispersion across the audience. Power is delivered by LA12X amps which, Walker informed, is the KS28’s dedicated amp. “It packs a massive punch,” he said. “Although that amount of force isn’t a necessity for this show, I think
Since 2014, Guitar Technician Gert Marckx has been the guardian of one of the most iconic instruments in music history: Nile Rodgers’ ‘Hitmaker’ – the unique Fender Stratocaster that has contributed to Chic’s canon and classics including Let’s Dance by David Bowie, Sister Sledge’s Lost In Music, Daft Punk’s Get Lucky and countless others. The music Rodgers has created with the Hitmaker is estimated to have earned in excess of $2 billion. “Nile’s guitar never leaves my side apart from when he’s playing it,” said Gert, handing it to me for inspection. “I guard it with my life!” Incredibly light in weight, the instrument itself is somewhat of a ‘Frankenstein’ creation, combining a 1959 body with a 1960 maple neck. “Over the years, the volume and tone knobs, and the tuning pegs have needed to be replaced due to wear and tear. It’s seen a lot of action!” Marckx, who first met the artist at a Night Of The Proms concert in Belgium, explained how Nile first encountered the Hitmaker in 1973. “He’d been a Gibson player before Bernard Edwards suggested that a Strat would be more suitable for their new music, so Nile went down to a pawn shop in Miami, saw the Fender and traded in his Gibson for it. “His style immediately took on a funkier sound and he then invented what he calls ‘chucking’ – that fast strumming action that became such a big part of Chic’s music.” After soundcheck at the O2, Nile reflected on the Hitmaker’s lasting importance: “It’s a part of me, like another limb! Fate is an amazing thing. If I had gone to another shop, as I so easily could have done, I would never have found this special instrument. That was a very lucky day.” 50
NILE RODGERS & CHIC
Monitor Engineer, Marco Dellatorre; Visuals Director, Ian Woodall.
D Y N A M I C S TA G E T E C H N O L O G Y
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MARCO’S MONITORS Having mixed Chic’s monitors for over 14 years, Marco Dellatorre has been well placed to witness not only the band’s revival but also the development of their onstage sound. He noted: “I change my set-up all the time, according to the type of show we’re doing, and I’ve seen many permutations, but I have to emphasise how happy I am to still be doing this job.” At the time Dellatorre joined the Chic Organisation, all of the band were exclusively on wedges. Beginning with keyboard player Rich Hilton, in-ear monitoring was introduced to the line-up with each member receiving an individual stereo mix. “And finally,” he said, “our saxophonist has just moved to in-ears, although Jerry continues to be ‘old school’.” Despite the widespread use of Shure PSM1000 IEM systems, however, it was clear that wedges are still present. Dellatorre explained: “They’re not just for back-up; it’s also to keep a real band sound alive onstage. We’ve never used sidefills though. Instead, I hire two extra wedges to place either side of Nile, Kimberly and Folami, facing outward, and put a mono mix through them. It’s a kind of reversed sidefill approach.” At one stage, Chic were on the road for 200+ days a year. Dellatorre added: “We used to tour everywhere without any of our own equipment except for Nile’s guitar and Jerry’s bass, using numerous local suppliers. One day, we’d be using this, the next it would be something else, and while the gear was usually of good quality, you have to adjust your thinking. “Now we’re headlining our own arena tour, it’s great to have all the same gear every day and that’s really easy to get used to! Although my rider includes a lot of different options, the  d&b M2 wedges we have on this tour tend to be my favourite. I’ve used M2s on numerous occasions such as when Entec supplied them at Autism Rocks and they’ve always raised the bar.” A d&b audiotechnik Q-Sub was also on duty for drummer Ralph Rolle.
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NILE RODGERS & CHIC
Dellatorre’s current console choice is a DiGiCo SD10. “I’m very happy with DiGiCo and I don’t think I’ve come across a more flexible platform than the SD Series. I’m running 43 input channels but that can rise – I always bear in mind that there may be some last-minute special guests, and so I make provisions with extra mics and in-ears.” Reportedly a wireless enthusiast, Mr Rodgers was, like many contemporaries, originally attracted by the freedom it affords him as a performer. “When you consider his passion for sound quality, moving to wireless was a great endorsement,” Dellatorre stated. “About 12 years ago, some time was spent in Nile’s studio comparing cable against the Shure UHF-R body pack transmitter and receiver. There were notable differences, but the Shure system did very well and Nile was very happy to pursue it. “Nile still uses UHF-R but for vocals we’re now touring with Axient Digital which has taken the RF world to a completely new level. It’s the best system I’ve ever used in terms of its functionality and sound quality.”
“Whenever a band meeting is called, Nile insists on everyone being invited because we all contribute to the end goal. He treats us as a family and I’m sure that comes from being a successful collaborator. His very cool and humble attitude is that we are all equal in this, and I applaud him for that. Without exception, we all want to do everything possible to make our shows better and better.” Nile Rodgers & Chic are currently special guests on the North American leg of Cher’s Here We Go Again world tour. TPi Photos: Joe Okpako, Mark Cunningham, Bryte Design & Andrew Benge. www.nilerodgers.com www.brytedesign.co.uk www.lite-alternative.com www.er-productions.com www.transitionvideo.com www.sseaudiogroup.com www.bcsaudio.com www.flybynite.co.uk www.beatthestreet.net www.ukrigging.net www.thepantrymaid.com
FAMILY AFFAIR Just before ‘curtain up’ time at The O2, London, Ian Woodall summarised the mindset that permeates the entourage. “The Chic Organisation is a recognised team of people; it’s not just Nile and the band, it’s the crew, designers, management and everyone who plays a part in pushing this amazing music forward,” he said. 52
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DEF LEPPARD: HYSTERIA The British heavy metal titans return the UK to play their seminal album, Hysteria, front to back. TPi’s Stew Hume was onsite at Manchester Arena to learn how the band embrace modern touring technology, 31 years after the album’s famed release…
“In 1986, something strange happened. Heavy metal became the most popular music in the world and everywhere you looked kids were growing their hair long, flashing the devil horns and playing air guitar…” You might be familiar with this quote from Sam Dunn’s documentary Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey. Even if you are not, you’ll certainly recognise the cultural impact of large-scale heavy metal shows of the late ‘80s, which created an aesthetic in the genre that remains in the zeitgeist to this day. One of the most revered albums to come out of this era was Def Leppard’s Hysteria. Released in 1987, Hysteria was an ambitious project, with the band going on record saying they wanted to produce a hard rock version of Thriller. Three decades on and many of the classics are still commonplace in rock clubs around the world and, I dare say, many of you reading this have drunkenly sung Pour Some Sugar On Me at 1am once or twice in your time – I know I’m not alone! With ‘80s nostalgia at an all time high – from Netflix hit Stranger Things to the kind of fashion that’d have Molly Ringwald in check, it only seems right for Def Leppard to pay homage to the famed album. The arena run, which saw the band power through sides A and B of the record for audiences in the UK and Ireland, wrapped up a whole year of intense touring. Yet, while the tour material is deeply rooted in the ‘80s, the band and crew – as is tradition – used the opportunity to utilise some of the latest technology the touring world had to offer.
were local heroes” – the band formed down the road in Sheffield – “but professionally, I only started working with them this year. I was on tour in the US with Dead End Company when I got the call to ask if I was interested in taking up the position.” After re-arranging his calendar and completing some other prior commitments, Adamson jumped aboard what was, at the time, a coheadline production with Journey. Since then, Adamson and the rest of the crew have collected their fair share of passport stamps touring in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii. In the UK, Adamson called on the support of HSL Group to provide lighting and rigging, SSE Audio for PA, Sound Image supplied audio consoles, Screenworks for Video and Pyrotecnico for lasers. Transport came courtesy of Beat The Street and McGuinness with The Touring Company working as the travel agent for the crew. Finally keeping the crew fed throughout the tour was Eat To The Beat. “When it comes to suppliers, you try and be loyal whenever you can, especially for the companies with such great people working for them,” stated Adamson. “Whenever I get a tour, the first thing I do is book busses and trucks as they are in such high demand. Def Leppard had a previous relationship with McGuinness and I was more than happy to stick with them. Then, as far as Beat The Street goes, they are one of the few companies servicing at this level and were a natural choice for us.” Adamson also gave special mention to HSL Group. “I have a very high opinion of HSL,” he stated. “They have done several shows with me including John Mayer as well as Tom Petty who I worked with for 22 years. I can always rely on their crew and the equipment stock.” With almost 90 shows in 2018 under the crews’ collective belt, Adamson
LOVE AND AFFECTION Chris Adamson filled the Production Manager’s seat. “I suppose you could say my history with these guys goes back three decades, to my roots in Hull,” mused the PM as we sat backstage at Manchester Arena. “These guys 56
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Lighting Crew Chief, Kevin Cassidy; FOH Engineer Ronan McHugh; Monitor Engineer, Ted Bible; The Def Leppard video crew; Head Rigger, Ian ‘Tufty’ Bracewell.
spoke of his managerial style for the 64-strong team. “As much as being a Production Manager is about being in charge, you also have to be there to motivate and keep an upbeat vibe. No one can be happy 24/7.”
considerably,” said the engineer. Waves was integral to McHugh’s control set up and effects. The only element from the band’s analogue past were a selection of Empirical Labs Distressors which the engineer used for all the vocal inputs. Both monitor and FOH control packages were supplied by SoCal-based Sound Image which had supplied the gear since May during the band’s co-headline tour with other ‘80s icons, Journey. “Having our own gear with us throughout the year has been really nice,” said McHugh. “It keeps a level of consistency and familiarity for us, which is really appreciated when you move into new territories.” In the UK & Ireland, SSE Audio provided an L-Acoustics system. “It’s a big rig,” laughed McHugh as he talked thought the finer points of the 20 box per side hang consisting of 16 x K1s over 4 x K2s along with 8 x K1-SBs and 24 x KS-28s on the ground… Rock music is meant to be played loud, after all. “It’s a big physical show with a lot of low end,” stated McHugh. “We try and get as many speakers as we can. For Manchester Arena, we opted not to have a delay set up, but when we played the O2 in London, we also put in three hangs of 6 x K1s to give us greater coverage.” He continued to explain why L-Acoustics was the perfect match for the rock legends. “In short – it’s got lots of balls!” he laughed. “There are lots of PA brands which are great but when it comes to the big rock sound, L-Acoustics is perfect. You can turn it up without it sounding too harsh, unlike any other PA.” TPi also caught up with Monitor Engineer, Ted Bible, who has been with Def Leppard for the past 16 years – previously as Systems Engineer to his current position. “Up until this year, I was still wearing both hats,” began Bible, in the midst of cleaning the band’s IEMs. “Officially, I’m only doing
HYSTERIA Def Leppard’s top priority was to replicate their sound as true to record as possible. “When you come and see a group play this kind of show, you want to hear the songs just as you remember them,” commented Adamson, adding with a smile, “I doubt many want to come and hear a blues or reggae version of Love Bites.” FOH Engineer Ronan McHugh was well-placed to do so. McHugh first worked with the band in the studio back when they recorded Euphoria and took on full time live duties back in 2003 during the X Tour. McHugh began by explaining how he had to retread old ground. “We’d actually done this concept before, back in 2015 in Las Vegas,” he said. “Prior to the residency we had a big rehearsal to prepare. Side A of the album gets played almost every single night by these guys, but from the B-side it’s really only Hysteria itself and, from time to time, Gods of War which get played regularly. Some songs had never been played live.” When it was announced the band would be reproducing the Las Vegas shows for a European tour, McHugh pulled out the show files, giving the audio team a head-start. For control, McHugh opted for a DiGiCo SD5. “I had been using the SD7 for some time but when our Monitor Engineer was ready to make the switch to the SD5 from the earlier D5 console, it made sense (cost and spares wise) for both of us to switch.” The latest DiGiCo software update meant we’ve moved Waves to a different computer which has sped up my workflow 58
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Stage Manager, Danny Spratt; LD, Kenji Ohashi; Production Manager, Chris Adamson.
monitors, but I still come in early to help fly the PA. I’m not one of those guys who will happily sleep in until noon.” As stated, like McHugh, Bible mixed on DiGiCo SD5. He continued: “I have worked through several models, starting on the D5. The thing I like about the SD5 is the workflow. In my mind it’s the most ‘analogue’ layout of any digital desk on the market. Def Leppard are old school and came up in the heyday of analogue gear. So if they ask to hear something, they expect it to be done then and there. On the SD5, I have everything I need on the surface and can get to it in seconds.” Bible discussed the band’s on stage sound set up. “When I first joined the camp the entire band was on wedges but over the years we have been moving to IEMs.” As it stands, almost all the band are using IEMs save bassist Rick Savage, who only used them for a few songs in the set and opted for onstage monitors the rest of the time. “For Rick, we have three sets of wedges across the front, a set of side fills and a set on the rise staging either side of the drums.” Also on the stage was a selection of drum fills to enable Allen to simulate the power of an acoustic drum. For IEMs, Bible opted for Shure PSM1000s. “The best sounding in-ear unit on the market!” according to the engineer. For moulds, Jerry Harvey JH Audio Roxanne’s were the model of choice. “I have personally known Jerry for many years and stayed with him ever since. It’s incredible how much space the JH models have. It’s not like I can hear between 14 - 24k, but it gives so much room in the mix that I don’t have to have everything on top of each other.” Shure was also the brand of choice for microphones and instruments wireless packs, utilising Axient Digital system. “The Shure equipment’s network capability is one of its biggest draws for me,” commented Bible.
“I’m coordinating all the frequencies then sending the info to everyone’s units so all they have to do is sync their packs.” For vocal microphones the Beta 58as were used across the stage. Bible also gave his thanks to vendor, SSE Audio. “As well as the PA, they have provided us with all our transformers as we are carrying a lot of American gear which runs at 120V. They have also provided me with brand new antenna cables which has made a sizable difference!” It was clear from speaking to Bible and some of the backline team just how much Def Leppard have adopted to modern touring technology. “We are almost completely digital on the stage, the only live microphones are the five vocal mics along with two for the hi-hat and ride,” stated Bible. The rest were direct inputs including Rick Allen’s famed digital drum kit with the rest of the band using Fractal Audio systems Axe-Fx III. Speaking about the band’s move to a digital amp model, Guitar Tech for Phil Collen, John Zocco, told TPi: “Phil has been using the Axe-Fx system for some time but originally it was just for effects while still using the Marshall JCM preamp for tone.” However, after touring with G3 [the yearly concert tour organised by rock guitarist Joe Satriani which features famed guitarists], Collen spoke to fellow shredder, John Petrucci who had used got an earlier version of the Axe-Fx III. “Phil fell in love with it so we ordered a couple,” explained Zocco. What followed was a trial period with Zocco programming from his home, then sending patches over to Collen to test on his systems. “The rest of the guys used it in rehearsal and also liked the system so we moved the whole band over to Fractal. It has made for a much cleaner mix and the sound has been much clearer on this run. It really helps the sonic aim for the whole ensemble.” 60
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POUR SOME SUGAR ON ME The design origins for the UK Hysteria tour, like so many other elements, had developed during the co-headline tour with Journey. It saw Def Leppard’s long time LD, Kenji Ohashi and Journey’s LD Kevin ‘Deuce’ Christopher join forces. Due to popular opinion, the design was kept on when Def Leppard set out on their own. The stage itself consisted of a three-part LED screen set up, made up of a large LED backdrop upstage, two downstage LED risers, left and right of the drums. Finally, there were the three automated LED ‘Crown’ screens, that ascended to the top of the rig at the start of the show. Discussing the video treatment for the tour was award-winning Video Director / Designer Chris Keating, who is enjoying his seventh year with the band. Keating’s main responsibility, in his own words, is to “ensure every video element enhances Def Leppard as a live rock band.” He elaborated: “My whole philosophy with video directing is for people to not just watch the screens, but also where is the band onstage. I’m here to help make the show, as a whole, look great and it always has to come back to the guys on stage, ensuring focus is on them.” Screenworks provided the LED and camera package for the Ireland and UK shows, which included a ROE Visuals MC12 screen, a Ross Carbonite Switcher along with a selection of 4 x Sony HSC300 long lens cameras, two handhelds and 3 x Marshall Electronics remote cameras. John Mcleish took on the role of Media Server Operator overseeing 2 x disguise Gx2.
“We are running our package off a Control Freak control system,” explained Mcleish. “They produce customised software which controls our Gx2s to make certain processes easier to integrate with other systems.” Keating then explained his treatment of content and live camera footage. “A lot of the content used for the show is created by Roger Staub from Infect Productions,” he said. “I usually come up with a concept which I run past the band before passing it onto Roger to make the content.” For this touring cycle, Keating and Drum Tech Jeff Diffner opted to utilise a timecode backbone for the content streamed onto the LED screens. “We went back and forth at the start of this year about how we would handle the sheer amount of information - I had previously done it manually using an Arkaos VJ system. Going down the timecode route has certainly taken a lot of the pressure off me. Nothing on the screens is specifically synced, so, from a directorial standpoint, I have to just make sure everything is working correctly.” Keating continued: “When it comes to specific equipment I’m not too fussed as long as it works in the creative context of how I want the show to look and it allows me to make the show as impactful as possible. The band themselves are the absolute best! As performers, they are really invested in how the fans see their show and how the crew feel. “Every show I do a lock off wide shot record of the performance. The band sit down and talk about the show and they always ask me how it went. It’s fantastic that even after forty plus years, they still care about every element of their live performance. Even now, we’re already into discussions about shows looks for the 2019 run”. Continuing the visual discussion was Kevin Cassidy, Lighting Crew Chief. Although this was the first-time Cassidy had worked with Def Leppard, the Crew Chief has a long history with
While we had the ear of the lead guitarist’s tech, it felt only right to talk about the impressive 11-strong rig of electric guitars. “Phil uses more instruments than the other guys, with a fair bit of switching,” he stated. “He has brought out a few vintage instruments on the run including Crackle Jack, which he used during the original Hysteria run and can be seen on the Pour Some Sugar On Me video.”
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Production Manager, Chris Adamson. “Both Chris and I worked together for over 20 years with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers,” he commented, still proudly wearing a tour hoodie from one of the singer’s last tours. “I started with these guys back in May during the co-headliner with Journey, taking on the role of Crew Chief for the entire tour.” Cassidy outlined the benefits of the design, explaining that it remains virtually identical to that of the co-headline tour. “This has been a massive help as we move into new territories,” he enthused. “We’ve had a very tight schedule and as we move from continent to continent there was not a huge amount of time to re-program a whole new show and system.” The band’s latest design is a far cry from some of their show rigs from the original Hysteria tour with an almost entire LED arsenal of fixtures. “One of the rig highlights is the Elation Professional CUEPIX Blinder WW4,” said Cassidy. “It’s a four-way LED mole light that still has the warm kelvin temperatures of the ordinal tungsten blinders. Strobes and moles used to eat up a lot of power in a conventional rig but the move to LED has certainly helped the overall production, as we don’t have to use additional power for the show.” In the roof there were five straight runs of truss, three of which were split into three sections. These nine elements were fully automated via a Kinesys system to create a range of different positions, all overseen by Automation Engineer, Christian Alvarado. The primary wash fixtures were Vari-Lite VL3500 Wash FXs. “I really like the VL300s” commented LD, Kenji Ohashi. “It’s a strong beam and very bright. I enjoy using them on every show.” The main profiles were Claypaky Scenius Unicos (with the shutters) with Claypaky Sharpys, A.leda K20s with B-Eye lenses for additional washes and soft key lighting. Also flown were GLP JDC1 LED strobes. On the floor 12 x Claypaky Sharpys and 12 x Martin by Harman MAC Viper Profiles were specified for the design. Another break from conventions of the past were seen in the follow
spots, with the lighting crew opting to utilise Follow-Me’s remote spots system. Controlling a rig of 10 Robe BMFLs were four Follow-Me terminals assigned to two fixtures in the rig. The operators controlled the pan/tilt parameters of the spot movement, with two BMFLs assigned to each band member. Meanwhile, Ohashi had control of iris, colour, and dimmer, through his MA Lighting grandMA2 console which was running multiple protocols including MANet and SACN as well as ArtNet for the Follow-Me system. “It’s a great system,” commented Cassidy. “It gives Kenji at FOH so many more options to do more effects than you would ever be able to do with conventional spots from strobes to colours. Not to mention, all the blackouts are now super crisp as one source is controlling them simultaneously.” HSL, which supplied lighting for the Hysteria UK tour were familiar to both Cassidy and Adamson, most recently on John Mayer’s 2017 tour. After received such a fantastic service and support, they asked HSL to deliver once again. Cassidy added: “In the grand scheme of things, most companies can provide the same equipment, so ultimately it comes down to the people. Simon Stuart and Jordan Hanson provide a great service, and do so in a very positive environment.” GODS OF WAR Finally, adding to the visual landscape was AJ Seabeck, Laser Technician using Pyrotecnico’s Kvant Spectrum 25s lasers, six to be exact, all controlled via Pangolin Laser System’s Beyond. Seabeck stated: “I have four Spectrums on the down stage and the other two are to the left and right of the drum risers,” he explained. “We are running them on the songs Love Bites, Pour Some Sugar on Me and Excitable.” Kvant’s flagship laser series Spectrum have been designed and built for touring and packed with cutting edge technology. The main features of the latest Spectrum systems 62
we put more in so you get more out. more playback: up to four 4K lossless video streams at 60fps. more capture: 16 3G-SDI sources, or four 4K sources (2160p60). more network: two 25Gb/sec and two 10Gb/sec ethernet ports. more storage: 4TB of ultra-fast NVME SSD. more quality: 10-bit and HDR support is here. more information: high-res OLED front panel. same goosebumps. the new disguise vx 4 is here.
include a robust and IP rated touring construction, unparalleled visual intensity of LD systems and colour correction display mode - the push of a single button will set all output colours of all Kvant systems so they match each other. When Seabeck first entered the picture, the show was designed by Pyrotechnico’s Derek Abbot. “Effectively this means every day my main responsibility is to set everything up make sure all the equipment is clean and, most importantly, safe.” The tech went on to describe his health and safety procedure each day. “The things I have to watch out for is obscure reflections in the venue. Once I am happy with the set up, typically, it will then be double checked by a health and safety authority. “It’s been a great tour,” concluded Seabeck. “I have been doing a lot of pop shows recently but these kind of tours are really my speed. It’s old school at its finest.”
On the ground, Danny Spratt, the tour’s Stage Manager, discussed the day-to-day running of the tour. Having been with the band for the last three years he was more than accustomed to the work which goes into making a Def Leppard show happen. “The way this tour started could have been awkward simply because double-headliner shows can sometimes be hard to negotiate,” he said. “Thankfully, it was an amazing experience and both bands’ production teams basically became one big crew. “The band have certainly moved with the times in terms of the technology used on this tour,” he continued. “It’s cut down a lot of equipment and set elements we used to have on previous tours, from guitar cabinets to elaborate risers. We have a quarter of the set we used to have. Essentially it’s four risers and that’s pretty much it.” Collectively, the carpentry department was made up of two crewmembers, David Boyd and Gavin Harris. “We are usually rolling the stage back out 25 minutes after the show then in an hour and half the stage is down and loaded up 30 minutes after that,” said Spratt. Concluding, he reminisced about the last year of touring. “We have done 94 gigs this year; it’s been a great run but I’m ready to trade the load out for the school run next week!” Def Leppard and their loyal crew wrapped on what was an incredible year of touring. However, ever the dedicated team, the Leppard family were already looking forward to the future and the band’s busy summer schedule on both sides of the Atlantic. TPi Photos: Kevin Nixon www.defleppard.com www.screenworksnep.com www.hslgroup.com www.sseaudiogroup.com www.sound-image.com www.beatthestreet.net www.mcguinness.eu www.thetourcompany.co.uk www.pyrotecnico.com
ARMAGEDDON ON WITH IT! Along with providing lighting, HSL was also on hand to supply the rigging for the latest outing. Ian ‘Tufty’ Bracewell, Head Rigger for the show, spoke to TPi about all things in the air for the tour. “It’s a fairly heavy rig,” he began. “It’s about 50-tonnes in weight and I’m up to about 80 points a day when we are running the full show with side hangs and delays. It’s quite a handful but we smash it out every morning, mainly thanks to the multitude of riggers I bring in each day.” For the Manchester show, Tufty had 20 local riggers on site – 12 up and 8 down. “It’s quite the army,” he joked. “The most important thing with this many people is keeping the job under control and keeping an eye on everyone.” As the band toured through the UK, the other main challenge laid at Tufty’s feet was the height of the show. “It’s very tall, and I’ve got my hooks at 57-ft minimum. When we are walking into venues, which are only 60-ft, things get a bit interesting. However, we are really in the swing of this one now and the head-scratching portion of the tour is mainly out of the way.” Tufty also gave his compliments to supplier HSL that provided all the motors for the tour, adding “all their crew have been great to work with.” 64
Touring. With VERA. Simply your sound.
MADE IN GERMANY
BRAINFEEDER’S 10TH ANNIVERSARY: FLYING LOTUS IN 3D Experimental music producer, DJ, filmmaker, and rapper, Steven Ellison, AKA Flying Lotus, is also the founder of independent record label, Brainfeeder (distributed by Ninja Tunes in the UK). The label, officially launched in 2008 - home to the likes of Thundercat and Lapalux - celebrated 10 years of independent releases in challenging style, as TPi reports…
Flying Lotus has released five of his own studio albums to date, and has produced music for Cartoon Network’s outrageously popular Adult Swim; he’s a man with creative flare and multi-genre talent in abundance. The Los Angeles-based DJ descended on the UK for two shows - in Bristol and London - before heading to South Africa for a NYE spectacular in Johannesburg, all in the name of a landmark birthday. The crew at the helm of the DJ’s Brixton Academy performance, led by Production Manager & FOH Engineer, Pete Clements, revealed what the unusual, 3D show was made of. Clements has been working with Flying Lotus for the last five years in a dual role. He told TPi about the latest gig: “This is the third incarnation of the Flying Lotus live show, but the first show we’ve done in 3D, where the entire audience wears 3D glasses in order to experience the full effect of the visuals during the set.
“We had some pre-production in that the 10th anniversary of his record label, Brainfeeder, hosted some festival takeovers called Brainfeeder X. The first show was in Japan for Summer Sonic festival, where we had a full line up of Brainfeeder artists, before playing the Adult Swim Festival in Los Angeles,” he explained. The name Brainfeeder X is taken from the four-LP retrospective which was released in November 2018 and features a 36-track collection of the label’s hits and rarities. Clements’ role juggling is something he’s used too: “I have been doing this dual role for a number of years with a few of my artists, each one is unique, and the balance of the role really depends on the demands of each set-up - and your supporting crew. The Flying Lotus show is really a PM job, rather than any substantial mixing; I simply take a stereo feed from the stage, voice up the system, check the lines and then put my PM hat back on. As the show is quite production-heavy, that has to be my main focus each day. “Flying Lotus wanted to deliver a new show for the Brainfeeder 10th anniversary, and he was ambitious with his line-up for the event. He wanted to spend money on getting the right support acts, which meant that I had to find a way of delivering a 3D show without freighting a 3D screen over from America as this would have massively eaten into our budget,” he said. The prized line up included Thundercat, Ross From Friends, Lapalux, Dorian Concept, Gilles Peterson and Iglooghost. Clements continued: “With the line-up and budgets agreed, we started exploring the idea of using projection and designed an entirely new show around that concept. My main objective was to deliver a great looking show on time and in budget for these great artists. “Due to costing constraints and the transatlantic location of the main members of this production, we didn’t have a production rehearsal at all, although I did spend a lot of time at the Colour Sound Experiment’s warehouse trying out different types of screens and projectors to see what was going to work the best for our set up.” PROJECTION PERFECTION Clements described the show’s projection elements as “one of the most challenging aspects of the show.” The reason? “No one does 67
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3D projection for live events, it is such an uncommon practice, that we had to get a screen and polarisation filters manufactured especially for the show as no one had them available to hire.” After doing a lot of research, it seemed that CPL was the only specialist with any first-hand experience of stereoscopic projection. “They did a really decent job for us, but it was a learning curve for me, for sure!” he said. The brief for CPL was to install a 3D stereoscopic projection solution. CPL’s Event Director, Lee Gruszeckyj, was project managing these elements of the gig. He told TPi: “Utilising Hologauze material as the projection surface as a backdrop to the DJ set, we too the system into the three venues: Bristol, Brixton, and Johannesburg, each with different rigging options and screen sizes to suit the space. “The 3D element was passive, using polarised filters in front of the projection lenses. We decided to use 4 x 20k Panasonic projectors, as left eye / right eye, splitting the signal using a Datapath X4 wall controller. Panasonic projectors were chosen because we could benefit from the camera line up kit. Allowing us to line up the projectors in a very short period of time. “All four of the projectors were on a network, and aligned using Panasonic’s Geometry Manager Pro software alongside the auto screen kit to allow for geometry adjustment. Ultra-short throw 0.3 lenses were used with the projectors to enable us to hide them on stage and give us the required throw distances. The Johannesburg show was slightly different; we chose to use dual output Barco Image Pros to split the outputs to L-R, and to manage the content, as we had multiple inputs for this gig.” Running the Brainfeeder visual content was Flying Lotus VJs, David Wexlar and John King.
“Flying Lotus wanted to deliver a new show for the Brainfeeder 10th anniversary, and he was ambitious with his line-up for the event.” Production Manager & FOH Engineer, Pete Clements 68
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The video rigging elements were supplied by Colour Sound Experiment. A truss frame measuring in at 12m x 6m, 4 QX-30 Dado, 12 QX-30 3m truss, and 3 x 500kg LV hoists with two rigging points were required. The show’s visuals were created by the hugely talented Strangeloop Studios team. Strangeloop has been providing content and visual direction for FlyLo since the early days of Brainfeeder, following his notoriously diverse and eclectic aesthetic. LIGHITNG AND LASERS Colour Sound Experiment has supplied a number of Clements’ productions over the last few years, and will work together this summer across a number of new projects. He commented: “They are an easy team to work with, their Project Manager Alex Ryan is very hard working and always happy to go the extra mile to ensure that the show is a success. They also have a big stock of GLP impression X4 Bars, which we use a lot of in this show.” The lighting design was about “framing both the artist and the 3D element of the show” added LD, Sam Tozer. “I found it extremely difficult to balance intensity and ‘effect’ so that the lighting complimented the stage without detracting from the visuals. “We used a very simple rig of the GLP X4 Bars under risers and some Robe CycFX 8 in the roof. Compliments have to go to the Philips Nitro 510c for the flashy moments too,” he noted. The full rig comprised 3 x Robe BMFL spots, 8 x Robe 600 LED Washes, 24 x Philips Nitro 1510c, 42 x Robe CycFX 8, 42 x GLP impression X4 Bar 20, 4 x Martin by Harman Professional Viper Smoke Machines. For control, a 16-Way Data Rack, a grandMA NPU and two MA Lighting grandMA 3 consoles were on the rider. Colour Sound Experiment also supplied the lighting rig’s rigging and utilised 4 x 15m QX-30 black truss, a 12m QX-30 black truss and a 9m QX-30 black truss. For hoists, 14 x EXE-Rise 1000kg LVs were used on 17 points of rigging. Tozer continued: “As there weren’t any production rehearsals, I wanted to use a console that I was very familiar with. The show also 70
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benefitted from being full of people that are truly passionate about this kind of music and the importance of a good visual representation. Lasers were also key to the performance, and added a little ‘wow factor’ when the big beats dropped. Clements commented: “I hadn’t actually worked with ER Productions before, but our Lighting Designer, Sam Tozer, used them on a recent project and recommended their services. I have to say that they really delivered the goods and the laser show was incredible, so much so, that after the show, Flying Lotus himself immediately requested that we add lasers to all future shows and so we freighted them out to South Africa for our NYE show at Afropunk. ER Productions were great to work. The big laser drop was one of the standout moments of the show. Being described by the camp as “a very collaborative process” by Tozer, it was the LD who approached the team at ER Productions. The company’s Ryan Hagen stated: “Originally, we were going to supply LaserBlades for the downstage edge as a focus, but as we moved forward with Sam it was clear we needed to allow for a wider, more flexible scope, with both the look of the show and from an operating prospective. “We recommended the use of three lengths of pre-rigged Kinekt truss which allowed us to load in the 30 Kinekts quickly and efficiently. The Kinekt truss rigging time is so fast we can rig hundreds of laser units in the time it takes to hang a truss. Our new Beam-er and Strike-er laser products have also been designed in the same housing, so now we have a modular flexible array of products that can utilise these rigging
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functions,” he added. “Once we were flown and focussed, we handed over to Sam Tozer, who operated ER’s server mode workspace, designed specifically for use with a lighting console. The server mode offers 16bit movement so it’s nice and smooth as opposed the 8-bit older version. Alongside this we supplied 4 x higher powered scanners upstage to cut through the Kinekt wall. To finish the rig off, we supplied 12 more Kinekts for the DJ podium / riser. To summerise, we provided three layers at different depths so that the rig was incredibly versatile, and in server mode, would be userfriendly.” The laser system was controlled by LD Sam Tozer and assisted by Laser Techs Tom Vallis and Ivan Dokmanović. AUDIO ACTIVITIES Once the trickier show design elements were in place, Clements could don his FOH cap, and this one, it seems, was a far more familiar fit. “The Flying Lotus audio set up is actually very straightforward,” he said. “He is a very experienced producer so the actual mixing really all takes place on stage. The set list is different every night and it’s really dynamic, so the mix engineer ends up being part mixer and part mastering engineer, using a lot of EQ and compression to keep the show sounding great and balanced. “The atmosphere of his gigs need to be both massive and delicate at the same time; the job is really to follow Flying Lotus’ lead with what he’s doing on stage and enhance that for the audience.” Specifying from BCS Audio - an Avid Profile at FOH, Sennheiser 5000 Series radio microphones, and Radial Engineering DIs for what is a standard DJ set up. Clements has gone to BCS for audio needs regularly over the last 10 years. He furthered: “They stock L-Acoustics K1 & K2 boxes which 72
he only you need
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covers pretty much everything that I need, they maintain and package their equipment very well and they also have a great crew. Couple that with very competitive pricing, it’s a no brainer for me to use them. The L-Acoustics PA they put into Brixton was perfect for this show; crystal clear sound with massive headroom and loads of sub bass!” BCS Audio’s Dave Shepherd picked up the story: “Our brief was to ensure that good, even coverage was attained, with a large sub element to cope with some serious bass line! Pete and I had discussions, and used the same system as we have used in this venue together many times before. BCS have done a huge amount of shows at Brixton Academy, so we have a good knowledge of the venue.” The L-Acoustics system in London comprised 24 x K2, 16 x KS28 and 6 x Kara. The system was driven on LA12X amplifiers and controlled with Lake LM 44 digital processing. The stage has a mixture of L-Acoustics side fills and d&b audiotechnik M2 wedges. At FOH, two DiGiCo SD10s were supplied, with DiGiCo SD9 and SD11 desks being provided for the support acts. The BCS crew was completed by FOH System Tech, Oli Crump, Monitor Tech, Kevan Snuggs and Stage Tech, Tom Woolsey. TRANSPORT TALK Phoenix Bussing’s Stewart Scott dealt with Clements following the production manager’s recent experience and consequence choice to once again use the bussing giant. In this instance, the artist wanted a large bedroom which Phoenix is able to provide on many of its coaches. Scott stated: “I like to meet all the production and tour managers I deal with personally, so I went to the Bristol leg of this mini tour, met Pete and made sure everyone was happy with the bus. After a cuppa tea on the bus with him, it seemed that everything was perfect!” For trucking, Fly By Nite was also a known choice for the PM, who began working with FBN during his time with British 74
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rock starlets, London Grammar. Account Manager Matt Jackson said: “We’ve looked after Pete’s tours ever since then, but this was our first time working with Flying Lotus. We provided trucks for the Brixton / Bristol – two-day showcase, with a 26-tonne descending on Bristol and an Artic for Brixton. For us, it was a super easy project – a threeday schedule in total, and a small, smooth show to finish last year on, and Pete’s a good guy to work with.” FBN’s lead drivers were Phil Gude in Bristol and Conner O’Hara for Brixton. A NICHE PRODUCTION In conclusion, PM Pete Clements noted: “Brixton was definitely a niche production; we had a total of eight acts performing with minimal changeover time and very limited space, and our last two Brainfeeder X events have both been on big festival stages, so the real challenge was to get everyone on and off stage efficiently. I couldn’t have done it without my Stage Managers, Paul Frost & Pete Thomas. “The project was also a first for 3D projection… no one else has done this as a full live show to my knowledge, and we managed to deliver projection, lasers and epic lighting all at the same time!” TPi Photos: courtesy of Brainfeeder www.brainfeedersite.com www.bcsaudio.com www.coloursound.com www.cpl.tech www.strangeloop-studios.com www.er-productions.com www.phoenix-bussing.co.uk www.flybynite.co.uk www.moombaproductions.co.uk 75
GRAVITY RIGS Gravity Rigs, AKA Alex Turner and Matt Cox, is a two-man powerhouse that create bespoke, touring playback systems and music tech performance rigs. The duo has built some challenging and unique rigs for all manner of artist and genre, and as the company gears up for a new era in portable, airport-friendly rigs, Alex Turner talks to TPi’s Kel Murray.
The last time TPi spoke to the Gravity team, they were camped out in STS Touring’s offices building a custom system for The Chemical Brothers. Their history with the electronic act goes back some years, and would in fact become the catalyst for the formation of the company. Turner began: “Matt is actually quite a force when it comes to keeping an eye on developments in music technology used in world tours. He himself tours for at least half the year, so he has the up to up-to-date, real world touring experience.” His absence for our interview is due to his current touring commitments. “This ties in with my non-touring position quite nicely,” Turner continued. “Matt has a studio and workshop in Manchester, and I’m based in our central London design office and workshop. The nature of our set up now means that we can say ‘Yes’ to the interesting projects we’re keen to undertake, and this is why the business is able to expand.” Between them, Cox and Turner cover a lot of bases: they’re both innovators with a real passion for what they do, not to mention an unwavering ability for problem-solving. “Matt has a very deep
understanding of and ability to innovatively work with music software; he’s one of the best programmers out there. I personally studied 3D design and IT project management, so I have a great understanding of space and physics, as well as a thorough design process,” he added. “Looking back over two decades when we started touring, we both left good opportunities in ‘other worlds’ to follow our joint passion for music technology. Matt was actually in the Army and I was at design college. We both gravitated away from those career paths to work in recording studios which led to us becoming music technology technicians during the early ‘90s. At this time, music tech was becoming more widely used in the live & touring environment” he explained. It was in those early days that Cox left the studio to tour with The Chemical Brothers, and working closely with the kind of acts that were pioneering live electronic music on a big scale meant that their talents were noted. With a business model that is somewhat different, and with a service and skill set which is clearly sought after, the pair had to make some decisions about moving forward. 76
Alex Turner; Matt Cox.
“I can actually remember first conversation with Matt about how we core. The Chemical Brothers’ design had an innovative brief, featuring could utilise our experience. We were both thinking the same thing at the networked audio at the heart of it, allowing all aspects of the backline same time, but Matt proposed pooling together all of our expertise and audio streams to be recorded from one single point within. skills to work collaboratively, under one brand. I knew with a bit of planning “So many more artists use music tech as their instruments, so with we could be become the go-to company for live music tech rigs,” Turner a bit of good design, their own tools can be made reliable and practical. mused. He was right: “When you work with us, you get two perfectionists The worldwide festival circuit now provides so many good artists with a with mortally ‘anti-fail’ work ethics,” he laughed. touring business model, yet they need to be safe “Plus, we could feel the demand in the market from losing out on performing due to technical growing; both artists and their management were failures. For a lot of acts, it’s key now that designs beginning to see the logic in using fully experienced can be both festival and airport friendly, and we techs like us to exclusively design and build. We build them as reliable systems with protection from create systems that are ultra-reliable, and tick failure.” all the boxes for all the agendas from the rest of Disclosure was another feat for the pair. Using the crew. From the supreme build quality, to the RME Madifaces XT’s all-round, digital switching, and intricate knowledge of what touring crews need, a parallel relay system to switch the AES, analogue Gravity has indeed become the go-to playback rig and midi I/O simultaneously. Turner furthered: brand for those in the know. “This design was the first outing for the onstage I/O “We really had to start choosing which projects satellite box containing all the connections needed “So many more artists to take on, about 12 months ago, and that’s been to take the USB, HDMI, relays, midi and audio use music tech as their rewarding,” he stated. through the 20m loom off stage, and it was nicely From the likes of Hot Chip to Jungle, Orbital tucked away, invisibly within the set while, vitally, instruments, so with a bit of to Sub Focus and Disclosure, The Gravity Rigs still allowing full access.” good design, their own tools duo have worked their way through a decent Most recently, Colombian singer Maluma’s 2018 play list of who’s who in highly reputable live F.A.M.E. tour production required the help of Gravity can be made reliable and electronic artists. Turner reminisced about the 2015 Rigs, and the experience sounds like a particularly practical.” ‘Chemical Brothers rig: “Reliability, practicality and tricky one… “It was interesting,” noted Turner. All functionality – these are the things which are at our three show computers had to be to be located off Alex Turner 77
Orbital; The Chemical Brothers.
stage while maintaining stadium level reliability. The design also had to allow for expansion and flexibility. “On this project, the removable rack sleeves in the dual bay rack allowed the conversion to airport mode. The miniaturising of the onstage I/O satellite box containing all the connections needed to take the USB, HDMI, relays, midi and audio through their 20m loom. Tours have been known to turn down large TV shows because their backline needs are so vast; once upon a time, they had to be freighted, but Gravity Rigs offers a real solution to that. “For example, for Maluma’s new convertible B rig, they had a different pack down routine if they needed to move it in airport friendly cases. Yet in road freight mode, it can be set up in an arena in just 35 minutes, so they enjoy the best of both worlds, without the worry. “This sort of an achievement is what allows clients priceless adaptability in world of performance booking. To achieve it, we worked with a great flight case company that allows us to realise all our ideas and whose quality of work is outstanding. We actually create all our flight case designs ‘in house’ in a proper software package, so we can very quickly adapt any design. Nailing the client’s brief is key; our designs must cover all the bases, and we often create new features within the designs that the clients haven’t even thought about!” Currently out on the road with a Gravity package is the Snow Patrol camp. “With our eye on ever shrinking technology, we found the right hardware and software solutions for them, and adapted the new modular lightweight sleeve design and Pelican road case combo. What we delivered was taking a 20u rack to just two Pelican cases.
“To make sure a rig is airport friendly, we project the weight and size of all the components fit, making sure that there is easy access to the equipment by hand in each sleeve. Not only does each case have be under 23kg, but it must be safe from baggage handler abuse. We’ve developed a database of all sorts of measurements that are matrixed out in custom spreadsheets. Only then do we have a design!” he proclaimed. Gravity Rigs has also begun to utilise a new software which Turner describes as “such a time saver!” The AV design platform in which schematics are created or adapted from previous templates easily, along with rack drawings, automatically outputs the equipment list, cable schedule and basic schematic. “It really automates the whole process, and makes it so much more flexible and speedy than doing everything in lots of different packages. We want to give our clients some really useful functionality that they won’t be able to get anywhere else… we’re going to be releasing two bits of software ourselves, FOC, but exclusively for our clients. An easy to use and integrate autocue plug in and the Holy Grail of dual switched computers - a solid sync app, so that USB controllers like the APC 40 or machine appears to control both computers.” As Turner made time to talk to TPi, he was in the middle of programming UB40’s new live set - and that’s in between lecturing a Music Tech ‘masterclass’ at the Academy of Contemporary Music in London, naturally. It’s set to be another interesting, fulfilling and busy year for the selfconfessed tech perfectionists, and no doubt you’ll visit many a tour with their plackback systems being put to good use. TPi www.gravityrigs.com 78
VDC TRADING: 31 YEARS IN THE MAKING Established in 1987 by CEO & Founder, Niall J. Holden and his bass player pal, (the late) Marcus Desfigurado, VDC Trading has arguably become one the most iconic names in pro audio market. Recently reaching its 31-year milestone, TPi reports on the story so far…
Sat in the unassuming offices located in King’s Cross, VDC’s CEO, Niall J. Holden, is surrounded by classic American 1950s memorabilia, from old Coca Cola vending machines, to vintage guitars, and even a duke box. The vibe is curiously fun and the company’s humble beginnings even more so. “I’d moved to London and had been struggling to find work,” began Holden, in his still-quite-pronounced Yorkshire twang. “I ended up becoming a bus driver for a few weeks before getting laid off, and somehow found myself moving music kit around London for a couple of quid.” Yet he wasn’t alone. Picture the scene: two young, new friends decide to form a company moving musical instruments and backline gear around
the capital. The idea, which was initially ‘just a bit of fun’, soon led the pair to a bank manager’s office during Thatcher’s Boom Britain. The money was flowing and it seemed the Gods were on their side; a £5,000 bank loan was granted and some imperative ‘thinking time’ in the sun ensued. Holden continued: “When we got that cheque, it was like being handed free money - I’d never known anything like it!” When the idea to pool their ideas and set up a business properly came about, so did a lot of behaviour that wouldn’t be out of place in a film script: “We got the money, we opened a joint bank account, got drunk and then booked some flights to Rhodes, Greece, for two weeks…” he said, with a fond smile. 80
Below: Niall J. Holden, VDC Trading CEO & Founder.
“It actually tuned into three weeks, because we hadn’t quite finished being the trusted cable specified in British recording institution, Abbey thinking,” he laughed. Road, which was the venue of choice for the Company’s 25th birthday. With adequate tans in tow, reality hit: “When we got back to London, we More recently, VDC celebrated its 31st year at the London’s St.Pancras bought cars, because we thought it was the sensible thing to do. When we Renaissance Hotel and celebrated with the likes of Funktion-One, DiGiCo sat down properly, we realised we only had £128 left in the pot…” and Gravity Rigs. “The party went brilliantly,” he smiled. “The pro audio And then what? “Well, somehow, we made it work.” Their first sale as industry is a very cosy size, I do love it!” fully-fledged businessmen was for 38 microphone stands to Annie Lennox’s What has been key, is its North West London location. “I bought this rehearsal studio in an old church. “We made 50p a pop. When our first very building in Kings Cross over 20 years ago. At the time, all my friends invoice was paid, we were like “oh… ok, this is fun!” thought I was mad,” he revealed. It must be asked: And it might sound like a cliché, but hard work ‘Mad’ in what way exactly? Surely it didn’t involve does pay off. And although we weren’t doing much another bank loan and further ‘thinking holiday’? of it right at the beginning, that first sale kicked us “No, not quite. I was lucky enough to buy the into gear. We weren’t bothered about making loads building outright, but it was a total toilet; it was of money, we were bothered by quality. Obsessed used by squatters and hosted illegal raves because by it even. Quality was always the priority, even if it it was this multi-floor derelict building that no one meant there was less margin. Quality means happy care about. customers, and we’ve always stuck by that.” “People had even broken in and stolen all the The formula clearly works, as today, the cable copper wiring. So, it was in a really bad way. And company is known worldwide for its quality and although I wish I could sit here and say I had the endurance, and the benefits of never faltering foresight then to know the likes of Google would on this ethos has led to a continually blossoming move into the area, I didn’t. I just saw a bit of business. potential with the building, and the rest was down “You have to have top quality Today, as a leading supplier of analogue and to luck.” digital audio and video cables to the professional Some years after the initial partnership began, on tour, but people forget and domestic user, whether it’s consumer AV or Holden’s partner wanted to emigrate to Canada, how important cable is, it’s broadcast quality coaxial or fibre optic cables after all, it only started out as a ‘bit of fun’. for multiplexing multi-channel audio and video, “Working with Marcus was like having your own like the unsung hero of live VDC delivers with ultra-high quality solutions. The personal comedian, he was great,” remembered performance!” legendary Van Damme Cable range is popular Holden. “I suppose he wanted out because we with backline techs the world over, not to mention never meant for the business to grow into what it Cain Cookson, Sales Director 81
Export Director, Adam Jafrabadi; Tech Director, Nick Chmara; Finance Director, Tony Maraia; Marketing Executive, Ellie Cross; Sales Director, Cain Cookson; Some hand-made cable skills in action.
did, as I was happy to take over. example, all DiGiCo’s SD range come with Van Damme Cables as standard. Today, the set-up is somewhat different; there are almost 60 staff in Any of their touring desks ship with our units. You have to have top quality VDC’s North West London office, and no less than four other Directors: on tour, but people forget how important cable is - it’s like the unsung hero Export Director, Adam Jafrabadi; Finance Director, of live performance! You can’t plug a top-quality Tony Maraia; Tech Director, Nick Chmara; Sales desk in with a bit of coat hanger!” Director, Cain Cookson. Holden continued: “The Holden agreed: “Live sound is big for us - VDC people I’ve got with me makes all the difference. can sight Muse & Coldplay as users - but then there I can honestly say we’ve got such a great team are other outlets too, such as HDMI headphones here.” for theme park attractions, universities and Detecting yet another Yorkshire accent, hospitals. Our biggest customer accounts for only TPi asked Cookson about his own voyage to 4% of our business sales, and a lot of our clients the Big Smoke. “I did a degree in Audio & Music have grown 45% per year since we started, which Technology, worked in a recording studio and for is a great sign. Year on year we’ve personally had a a production company before realising I wasn’t growth of 7-8% and I’m happy with that. making any money! At VDC, I’ve had a few roles, I “Predictions for this year seem like we’ll be came in as an - RDM - Relationship Development doing our biggest turnover yet, and export is going Manager, then was the company’s UK Manager and to be a really big area for us. We’ve invested in a I’m now a Director as of last year.” Cookson’s area new website and re-branded, we’ve put another of expertise lays with brand partnerships and OEM half a million cables out there, and that’s actually sales. critical - you’ve got to have the right stock.” VDC’s In laymen’s terms, he describes the main export markets currently are Europe, the “The people I’ve got with me relationship with audio console manufacturers, Middle East and Russia, as well as the UK, with its makes all the difference. I can for example: “With a lot of desks, it’s like an extra sights now set on other parts of the world. And option, something you want and that you know as three decades have flown by for Holden, thank honestly say we’ve got such a you should really have, if you want to pay a little goodness he took the time to ‘think...’” great team here.” extra. I think of good cabling as the “do you want TPi fries with that?” of the mixing desk model. For Niall J. Holden, CEO & Founder www.vdctrading.com 82
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SPECIAL EFFECTS COMPANIES Special effects plays a dynamic and creative part in the event live event experience, bringing production values to the forefront of design. TPi takes a look at some of the latest effects technology on offer today.
LE MAITRE Le Maitreâ€™s newest flame machine, The Wireless Salamander Quad Pro is battery powered with integrated wireless COBRA firing systems technology. With no running cables, it can simply be put into place and switched on, making for easy, quick and safe usage. This compact, canister-based unit produces 30 seconds of continuous flame or up to 120 fire bursts. Flames reach up to 25ft high when all four canisters are fired simultaneously, or up to 12ft if fired individually. Chases are lightning fast and visually stunning, with fluids available in natural, red or green. The Wireless SQP is extremely safe. There are no internal valves or accumulators, so gas never remains in the system once the canister has been removed. There is also a tilt safety switch. The internal built in charger provides over 48 hours standby time per charge, and there is an easy to use OLED display and menu structure. An optional accessory is a separate pluggable and magnetic LED ARMed indicator. This allows the operator to position the indicator anywhere on the machine to know its armed status, regardless of its orientation. The standard Salamander Quad Pro has been used regularly at festivals and in concerts and tours around the world. With its new features and increased ease of use, the Wireless SQP is sure to prove just as popular. www.lemaitreltd.com 84
SPECIAL EFFECTS COMPANIES
AC LASERS The AC Multi-Function Laser is a new generation of laser effect fixture which fuses traditional laser projection with a variety of diffractive effects, combined with the flexibility to be highly scaleable on stage. The AC Multi-Function Laser (AC-MFL) is the standard fixture, containing a 3W RGB laser source, and the AC Multi-Function Laser eXtreme (AC-MFLX) contains a brighter 6W source. Both fixtures can be used to create scanned laser effects, or use static or rotating diffractive optical elements, to provide ‘burst’, ‘linear’ or ‘grid’ effects. These can be combined with scanned images for some really creative looks. With correct usage, and adherence to safety guidelines, audience scanning is also possible. Each fixture also has a built in Pangolin FB4, the de facto standard for laser control, allowing control from Beyond, or any lighting desk via ArtNet or DMX. Complex and large scale designs on stage can be realised with ease, as all power, data and interlock connections can be daisy chained, allowing for up to 16 fixtures on a single cable run. www.aclasers.co.uk
ER PRODUCTIONS Typhoon is ER Productions’ newest product, a CO2-free confetti blower, which made its debut at the very beginning of the year at Ozzy Osbourne’s NYE show, at the LA Forum. Typhoon’s innovative and adaptable design allows the product to be rigged on top of truss but also flown, allowing for huge confetti hits at largescale events. Typhoon works via a set of powerful but silent fans, which push confetti out through a specially-designed tunnel, and a controllablehopper evenly distributes it. David Holmes, ER Productions’ Technical Manager, designed Typhoon, initially creating designs in Sketch Up and building the product with ER Productions team on-site at the head office, said of the new creation. “I love the finished product. The brief from ER’s Co-Founder and Director, Ryan Hagan, was to build a confetti blower that would be able to run on electricity, without using the harmful greenhouse gas, and we have done exactly that.,” he said. “Other models on the market are cumbersome and don’t have the ability to be flown. Typhoon gives designers more flexibility to create something really amazing at their shows.” Typhoon is constructed with an aluminium frame with steel panels and weighs 90kg, and the voltage is 200 to 270 or 50/60hz. It holds 10kg of confetti and can be adjusted to how much and how far you want the confetti to be distributed, enabling vast coverage across an audience. ER Productions were pleased to debut the CO2-free confetti blower for Ozzfest, at the LA Forum, at the end of 2018. 25 of the units were positioned on a u-shaped truss, over the audience, which delivered a 200kg hit of white confetti, creating a snow blizzard effect during carefully-planned cues for tracks Mr Crowley and Mama.
Ozzy’s Lighting Designer, Michael Keller, commented on Typhoon’s performance during the show. “This large mass of fine white confetti started separating and blanketing the crowd with snow. Indeed we had the Blizzard of Ozz in full effect. Where it really shined was when ER’s Laser Tech, Alex Oita, brought up some laser cues. It looked amazing reflecting through all the beams.” www.er-productions.com
KVANT LASERS desk manufacturers. As well as being fully equipped RGB laser display system, each Burstberry also offers Beam Burst (Starburst) effect and white-LED blinder. The individual Burstberry units can be attached one to another from 12 different directions, making it possible to create Burstberry clusters in pretty much any shape required. Although Burstberry can be used very effectively as a stand-alone laser system, the power of it lies in a multiple unit setup and amazing effects that Burstberry clusters can perform. Due to its beam size and very low beam divergence, it is also an ideal system for supporting high power lasers on large stages. The concept of several laser display units synchronised together has been around for a while. But none of the existing Burstberry alternatives will offer you such refined visual output, effectivity and flexibility. All Burstberry features brought together represent a new type of a lighting fixture - the one that can provide you with some truly staggering visual effects. www.kvantlasers.co.uk
KVANT Burstberry is a self-contained laser and lighting fixture, designed to be used in multi-head configurations and controlled mainly from lighting desk via ArtNET. Because of Pangolin FB4 controller integration, Burstberry and other Kvant systems are supported by all major lighting
BRINGING LIVE ALIVE. At Pyrotek Special Effects Inc.®, we create jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring special effects for the world’s biggest acts – on the world’s largest stages. For decades, our team of professionals has used their passion, tools and techniques to help clients create memorable experiences through innovative, safe and reliable end-to-end special effects. And we can do the same for you.
LET’S CREATE EXCEPTIONAL MOMENTS TOGETHER. Pyrotekfx.com
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BPM SFX For over 15 years, BPM SFX has been a special effects and laser provider for live music touring and festival events, TV, corporate and theatre markets. Situated in Burnley Lancashire, BPM SFX HQ is a 47,000sq ft three storey converted 100-year-old mill. Its custom designed facility includes both indoor and outdoor testing areas, large scale state of the art workshop, technical repair room, research and development area, multiple programming rooms and large space prep area, along with a 30-person custom built office space.
In addition to its large HQ, the team also has an Ibiza European office and have recently expanded into a specific TV work office at the Greenhouse, MediaCityUK, [Manchester] to be on hand for its TV clients. Despite this, BPM SFX remains a growing and advancing business with the founders, Adam Murray (MD) and Jamie Holmes (Operations Director), playing an active role in the company, working alongside Technical Director, Liam Haswell to expand clients, markets and locations. From the early days, BPM SFX has worked with the likes of Swedish House Mafia, Rihanna, Coldplay, Calvin Harris, Radio 1, Sky Sports and ITV to name a few. BPM SFX consistently work with the biggest artists, management and productions throughout the world, developing its SFX & laser designs to achieve the best creative look and service, as well as ensuring the safety throughout. With 25 full time staff ranging from Junior Technicians, through to Senior Project Managers and everything in-between. Murray added: “From the point of first contact with clients, through to the design team creating the brief, full animated previsualisations, to warehouse prep and finally onto the
head technicians who run in and produce the high-end show specifications, everything is considered and delivered. The client feels in control of what they want to produce and achieve from Day 1, and every step of the way inbetween, the client is in control for their vision.” BPM SFX has an expansive range of equipment covering all aspects of special effects and laser supply. Having such a varied range of solutions for each aspect of laser and special effects provision, means it can present clients with a number of options on how to deliver the effects they desire or envisage. Boasting large licensed stores on and off site, BPM SFX holds a large and varied consumable and pyrotechnic stock, meaning world tours to one off show is not an issue to facilitate, even at short notice. BPM SFX remains committed to working with the best and most innovative manufacturers from all over the world. In order to keep its creative designs fresh and current, it also has electrical engineers and fabricators in-house to make bespoke products and equipment. So, no job is too big, small or too complex for the one of the world’s largest SFX companies. www.bpm-sfx.com
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Flame photo by: Ed Mason // edmasonphoto.com
Laser Projection | Laser Effects | Flames | Confetti | Streamers Cryogenics | Pyrotechnics & Fireworks | Bespoke Laser & SFX Contact us to discuss your next exciting project: firstname.lastname@example.org | +44 (0) 845 8672763
QUANTUM SPECIAL EFFECTS Quantum Special Effects was established in 2009 and has become the chosen pyrotechnics and special effects company for some of the biggest names in the global entertainment industry. QSFX boasts a large team of experienced designers, engineers and technicians working together to develop and deploy a variety of special effects. With offices in the USA and the UK, its primary goal is to develop innovative and unique effects for the entertainment industry from corporate events, large-scale concerts and tours to one-off spectaculars and primetime TV shows. QSFX supply award winning, bespoke special effects to some of the world’s biggest music artists, globally. With our team of experienced and professional on-site crew we aim to ensure a seamless service and integration into the live productions its supplies; ensuring together, it creates unforgettable, endorphin-rushing, iconic moments for audiences worldwide. With 2019 marking QSFX’s 10th anniversary, TPi anticipates the expansion of QSFX’s opening an office in London. Watch this space for further announcements. www.q-sfx.com
multi-faceted team with the wide-ranging expertise and depth necessary to integrate special effects into some of the world’s biggest shows. Pyrotechnics, flames, lasers, cryo and water effects appeal to an audience’s primal fascination with some of the core elements of the universe. The development by companies like Pyrotek of the operations and systems necessary to harness these forces and deliver them safely and consistently to audiences explains the growth in popularity of live special effects over the last several years. So, if you are an artist, a production manager or designer, or anyone else facing the challenge of putting together an engaging live event, don’t overlook your opportunities for those ‘big moments.’ They can make an out-sized difference, and Pyrotek Special Effects will always be there to answer your call to help in ‘bringing live alive.’ www.pyrotekfx.com
PYROTEK SPECIAL EFFECTS As live performance has become the focal point of the music business, so too has the sheer scale of many concerts. Fans have likely noticed an increase in ‘big’ moments in their favourite shows over the years and one of the growth areas has been special effects. As one of the leaders in this increasingly important field of special effects in live shows, Pyrotek Special Effects’ expertise revolves around live special effects, including pyrotechnics, flame effects, lasers, atmospheric effects (cryo, fog), confetti and water effects. Pyrotek Special Effects’ recent clients include Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift, P!nk, Kendrick Lamar, Metallica, Florida Georgia Line, The Killers, Katy Perry and Trans Siberian Orchestra, to name only a few. The special effects specialist fulfils a critical role within the scope of these productions, helping clients refine a vision of how special effects can be used to enhance the performance and then taking care of the myriad of production and organizational logistics required to deliver this vision in the real world, in front of an audience. There are countless moving pieces that need to combine to deliver special effects to an audience. Typical matters that need to be managed include technical design, equipment specification and customisation, programming, safety and risk assessments, crew, product selection and procurement, permitting, insurance and transport logistics. Pyrotek Special Effects handles all of these details for its clients as part of a turn-key solution and to do this, it harnesses the scale of five offices - in Toronto, Las Vegas, New York, Nashville, and Lititz, PA - and the skill sets of over 90 employees and road technicians, all of which combine to form a
IE 40 PRO
More me. When the show is underway, your monitoring is crucial. It keeps you connected with the others — but above all: with yourself. We have further developed dynamic drivers that fit the smallest of spaces. Powerful monitoring sound for loud stages remains precise with solid bass whatever the sound level. Sounds like more — like much more. www.sennheiser.com/moreme
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THE ALD LAUNCHES FUNDRAISING SUPPORT FOR #SAVESTAGELIGHTING CAMPAIGN The Association of Lighting Designers bids to adequately compensate the tireless efforts of its freelance members who drove the Save Stage Lighting campaign to its significant success last year, commending the unfaltering commitment which contributed to major exemptions being secured.
The formal fundraising enterprise was launched following the production of a wide array of written documents and briefing papers, as recognition of the work of Rob Halliday, Robbie Butler and Paule well as individual meetings to inform and enable wider understanding of Constable at the London-based annual Lighting Lunch, which brought the issues. Print articles were created, media interviews were undertaken, the attending audience to its feet in standing ovation. As a mark of and public meetings were held to explain the potential damage of thanks for the outstanding contribution and hard work given by the proposed legislation. group, ALD lifetime memberships were presented. The awareness created, and the success achieved, is due to the The volunteer trio shouldered the vast and unprecedented workload extraordinary team of volunteers, none of whom have formal lobbying that became necessary at the beginning of 2018, to highlight the very grave training or campaign experience. Mobilised purely by the desire to protect situation presented by the EU’s proposed Eco Design regulations. The the performance lighting industry, they freely gave – and continue to give – lighting industry faced a non-discriminatory situation that would affect the months of their time. largest of live production tours as much as the smallest of theatres. The ALD aims to raise £35,000. The money will be used to compensate With just three months to make an impact, before the team for some of the work they have already done. the consultation period for the EU proposals closed They have put their own careers and paid work on hold to industry persuasion, the team behind the ALD’s SSL in order to safeguard performance lighting. The money campaign catapulted the devastating significance will also provide a reserve to help educate and support of the potential rulings around lighting, on to the others in the face of future Eco-Design challenges. radars and priority lists of lighting professionals, Johanna Town, Chair of the ALD, commented, manufacturers, producers, venue managements and “These singular circumstances call for a singular politicians. solution. The entire lighting industry has benefitted The trio also pushed the #SaveStageLighting cause from the work of a very few tireless freelance lighting into the public eye via an online petition recording designers and practitioners. I feel a debt of gratitude around 85,000 signatures and reinforced by the highly not only as Chair of the ALD but as an individual www.gofundme.com/ visual ‘Light Up’ campaign where the #SSL message affected by these ongoing proposals. I know others will savestagelightingwas projected onto the exteriors and interiors of feel the same way and give what they can.” campaign theatre buildings across Europe. TPi The campaign also required the assessment and www.gofundme.com/savestagelighting-campaign
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On Tour for 40 Years! Contact: Dennis Mirabella Market Manager, A&E Div. 1-800-345-0234 ext. 115 Direct Line: 732-743-4165 Email: email@example.com
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TERRY KING Last year’s TPi Breakthrough Talent Freelancer of the Year, Terry King, discusses how he got his start in the industry, and his goals for the future. It’s safe to say that most of those who work in the touring market first became interested in this world due to a love and passion for music. However, it’s rare to meet a musician who has already toured the world and played in front of thousands of people to then make a switch to the other side of the business into production. But that’s just what Terry King did swapping his life as a session keyboard player, performing with the likes of Pixie Lott and Naughty Boy, to pursue his passion as a Production Manager. Last year, King had a great year seeing him PM his first UK tour with IAMDDB as well as take the lead on his first arena show with Popcaan. Oh, and did we mention he’s just 23 years old? “My first real introduction to the live events industry was when I was 17; I started to work as a session musician, playing keys for several different acts,” recalled King. “I think my biggest show to date was at Sziget Festival [in Budapest, Hungary] when we played in front of 95,000 people. I loved those shows but when I turned 18, I started to become more interested in some of the things going on behind the curtain. I remember during rehearsals I began to be more interested in the elements such as automation than my role as a player on stage.” Driven by this interest, the 18-year-old King took a “leap of faith,” turning his attention to pursuing a career in live production. “I became a bit obsessed,” he joked, recalling how he used to have a hard drive with over 70GB of research including videos and tour essays on automation engineering. “I just wanted to absorbed as much information as possible. I’d already made a few contacts with various production and stage managers whom I asked to shadow, and learn what the role involved.” Four years since King switched his artist’s laminate for a crew pass, he explained some of the things he had learnt. “One of the things that stood out to me was that there is no one way to do a PM job. You find that there are some that really specialise in logistics with others that our more interested in the design elements,” he said. King explained that he is more focussed on the latter, developing a key interest in show design, a passion he got to explore when he took up the PM mantel for hip-hop artist IAMDDB. A project that saw King, ahem, crowned as Freelancer of the Year at the 2018 TPi Breakthrough Talent Awards. “It was my first tour as a Production Manager and it was certainly a learning experience - knowing that when you walk through the door of the venue you’re overseeing everyone on site. But it was a fantastic tour and experience.” Following the IAMDDB run, King was able to tick-off a few more things from his career bucket list. “I got to work on Krept & Konan’s Alexandra Palace show – their biggest gig to date – where I was Production Assistant and Stage Manager. Then I was offered the chance to lead the production for Jamaican dance hall artist, Popcaan. His regular Production Manager is a mentor of mine and gave me a shot to lead this team.” With a long list of successes, TPi asked the young PM what was next. “Over the last few years I’ve got really interested in the automation and engineering side of touring,” commented King. “I’ve been really interested in some of the projects that TAIT created over the last few years. I actually got to meet some of the team at the last Production Futures and I’m going into their office for some work experience later this year.” King gave his thoughts on the event: “It was a very enjoyable and productive experience for me. It was such a great networking opportunity and gave me a lot of insight into some of the leading companies and vendors within the industry. I definitely encourage anyone who’s interested in live production to make plans to attend this year.” To close, TPi asked King about some of his other goals he hoped to achieve. “Right now, I’m just looking to build my production CV with as broad a range of clients as possible. I’ve worked with a lot of urban acts, which has been great, but I want to get into some bigger productions with more pop artists. I would love to work on a show like The 1975’s latest tour and force me out of my comfort zone.” King, along side all the other Breakthrough Talent winners will be at this year’s TPi Awards on 25 February to rub shoulders with the other 1,500+ industry experts. See you there! TPi www.productionfutures.co.uk
ELATION PROFESSIONAL NX2 SERIES Elation Professional’s Matthias Hinrichs, Product Manager, talks to TPi’s Kel Murray about the company’s NX2 Series.
When did the development of the NX2 first begin? The NX2 is an evolution of the Martin by Harman M2GOHD [Elation acquired the Martin M-Series range nearly a year ago]. The platform really has been around since 2012 and the layout and feature set have proven very popular, so we kept evolving it from the M2GO to the M2GOHD and finally the NX2, now under the Obsidian Control Systems brand. Amazingly, all three consoles support the new ONYX operating system so it’s been a great value for users as we expand the software while allowing it to run on existing hardware for as long as possible.
and we wanted to include all connections one could wish for like DMX, SMPTE and MIDI so there is no need to carry any accessories. We really strived to build the perfect compact lighting console that is affordable with a rock solid construction and only industrial grade components. During design we learned about brand new Intel six-core CPUs designed for embedded media devices. They had a lower power rating than previous generations while being faster with more graphics power, which make them ideal to drive a lighting console due to the lower heat and the demand for lots of screen real estate. So we redid all the core PC components, picked a new motherboard, created a custom copper heat pipe cooler and tried to fit it all into the very small chassis. Our engineers really outdid themselves and it worked by a few millimeters! The result was an incredibly fast lighting console that processes 64 Universes, drives several HD displays and is just really fun to operate. So while the core concept of the NX2 is not a large departure, it’s pretty much completely retooled and redesigned from top to bottom.
Can you talk us through the initial concept? Did it change much along the way? The idea was to make a very compact but still powerful console where Playback and Programming interfaces would be fully supported with no compromises. We wanted a very bright HD multi-touch screen. It needed to be portable enough so it could work as a carry-on for commercial flights 100
ELATION PROFESSIONAL NX2
Elation Professional’s Matthias Hinrichs.
How involved / consulted are the end users and LDs during the design process? Communication with the user community is key to the success of ONYX and the design of our hardware. We constantly interact with our users online or in person. My job as product manager is to carefully evaluate the often widespread input and needs and then find a compromise that hopefully gives the majority of users a great product. Some design concepts and renderings are shown privately to select users - let’s call them “power” users - who we know can give us feedback that is beyond their own requirements. They look at the whole market including competing products in this class, which can be quite different from region to region, and they give us honest and direct feedback that is taken straight to the development team. We adjust and adapt, and over time find that this process gives us very refined products.
What other offerings within the line of products fit into the live marketplace? All ONYX products are suited well for a variety of shows. The product line offers different levels of hardware that allows the user to pick the right product for their style of work. For example, the inexpensive M-Play is a unique Expansion Wing that offers 48 playbacks, some as touch-based faders, some as pressure sensitive playback and flash buttons. It works connected to the NX2 or connected to ONYX on any PC system with a simple USB cable. It’s a flexible system that can adapt and grow as needed. Are there any notable tours / events to have showcased ONYX? NX2 was introduced at LDI 2018 and we just recently started shipping them to our customers so none quite yet to talk about. However, the ONYX (and the previous M-Series) platform is well established on global tours, installations, cruise ships, clubs, houses of worship and other venues. One notable long-term client is Feld Entertainment that has dozens of live tours around the globe using ONYX every day. TPi www.elationlighting.com
Where does the NX2 fit into the Obsidian family of products as a whole? The NX2 is the smallest full console in the lineup, but don’t let that mislead you. It actually shares the same processing as the NX4, which we just launched at NAMM. The user can pick the size and hardware features that fit them while getting identical power and performance. Below the NX2 is the NX Wing, which is the same front panel just without the touchscreen and no internal processor. It’s a great way to build a very cost efficient, ergonomic or very high-powered ONYX system.
AUDIO LIGHTING RIGGING VIDEO AUCTIONS 101
BRAD MADIX Florence + the Machine’s FOH Engineer / President of Diablo Digital
truss came in for some work, preventing the gear from being pushed up a makeshift ramp they had constructed (the whole lower bowl is stairs, of course) to the FOH bunker. The lighting team were having their struggles as well and I felt for them. I turned my attention to the bunker. It was small and situated slightly out from under the main roof. Since it was raining, the bunker was covered with a thick clear-plastic roof. It looked like a greenhouse. While it was dry in the greenhouse, it was nevertheless quite small. I began turning over the possibilities of how to set up two lighting consoles, two sound consoles, an audio workbox and two cameras in there and concluded it wasn’t going to happen. I got on the radio and asked our Stage Manager if we could get the department heads together and hash out how this was going to work. A local pointed out to me that we were also going to have the 14 space rack that he’d already pushed into place out there as well. Of course. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the delays are lowering back to the ground. They need to be re-rigged. Good news! The cameras were going to go on a concrete slab behind us which was actually the ceiling of the bathrooms below (entrances: men on the right, women on the left of FOH). Still, the rest of the gear was barely going to fit. Florence’s super-reasonable and accommodating Lighting Director agreed to put his main and backup consoles at a right angle, buying us four feet. Someone had used the bunker to store empty motor boxes, so they had to go. The downstage truss went up and the FOH gear arrived. As it was still raining, we were forced to try to do all our consoletipping under the greenhouse roof. There was really not enough room for this, but we got it done and the console lids went away. I noticed the delays going back up. Since there was little room to work, placing and wiring everything was a challenge. The concrete was on a slight slope as well, so gear rolled after getting it perfectly placed or if bumped slightly. After 15 minutes of nudging and minimal cursing I had everything in it’s spot and started wiring up. They were re-hanging the delays again. At this point, sitting and watching the delays being fussed with for the fourth time and contemplating if I had anything intelligent to add to how they were going about it (I didn’t ) I thought maybe I should just walk away for a break. Upon returning, one delay hang had gone up for the final time and the other side was being put together. Having done this once, the second hang should not take as long. I sat down behind the console and started the process of backing up the multitrack from the previous show. Soon, a young man with a well kept curly mustache and a clip-board approached and introduced himself as one of the venue staff in charge of noise abatement. Was I aware there was a noise limit? No, in fact, I was not aware of this. I asked what the limit was. He was not sure, that was someone else’s job and they would be here in a while. He was aware that the problem was caused by complaints from an apartment building that had been built nearby. The main source of sound/noise driving those complaints? Well, not so much the main system but the delays. My recollection of that exact moment: in the background of this conversation, I heard the SE tell the Sound Crew that the delays were finally up and at trim, thank you. Brad Madix
Sometimes it feels like you’re pushing a boulder uphill the whole day. A recent Australian Florence + the Machine load in felt like that. Don’t misunderstand - it was a perfectly good venue. I’d be happy to attend a show there. However, it was a battle to get our show in, and especially to get the delays up and tuned properly. When I arrived, things were well along. There had been a pre-rig the night before, which was a good thing since the rigging had clearly been a challenge. The main House-Right PA was hanging very low but more-or-less at trim, and the House-Left PA was nearly ready to go. As the trim was low and there was a large lawn at the back of venue, someone had suggested we fly delays. Many ‘sheds’ have delay systems installed, but not here. Our System Engineer and Head Rigger had produced the best solution possible, which unfortunately put the delay points directly above seats. The audio team was fighting the good fight trying to hang eight-deep delay clusters while pushing cabinets into the aisle nearest the points. While they battled the delays (a fight which went on for hours - literally), Front of House gear spilled into the pit in front of the stage. The downstage
PSA: THE BIGGER PICTURE
AN APPRENTICESHIP FOR THE NEXT GENERATION OF TECHS Apprenticeships; genuine jobs with accompanying assessment and skills development programmes, a way for individuals to earn while they learn, gaining valuable skills and knowledge in a specific job role. This is all gained through a mix of learning in the workplace, formal offthe-job training and, crucially, the opportunity to practice new skills in a real work environment. Apprenticeships benefit employers and individuals, with big picture benefits of a skilled workforce improving economic productivity.
Apprenticeships are also a productive and effective way for any business to grow talent and develop a motivated, skilled and qualified workforce; at least that’s what the leaflet states. The statistics paint a similarly rosy picture; employers who have an established apprenticeship programme reported that productivity in their workplace had improved by 76% whilst 75% reported that apprenticeships improved the quality of their product or service. Add to that a reduction in staff turnover and recruitment costs, a lower minimum wage requirement for apprentices, no employer National Insurance contributions for salaries up to the higher rate tax bracket and some extra cash inducements for certain groups and you have a neat package of benefits. The thing is, up until now, apprenticeships haven’t featured too heavily in the recruitment and development plans of rental houses, with most relying on in-house training programmes that had little or no external training element and attracted none of the funding associated with apprenticeships. It seems that this was due to a lack of real understanding on the part of colleges and training providers about the needs of employers. Basically, any sector that could put together a group of 10 or more employers could express an interest in developing an Apprenticeship Standard. At that time we contacted a bunch of employers, suggesting that we might want to get together and look at possibilities, the response
was overwhelmingly positive. What seems like a lifetime ago, a dozen or so people sat round a table at PRG Longbridge, introduced themselves to each other and described how they dealt with new trainees. The methods were very similar; take a new person, give them a trip through all the departments and get department heads to sign off when they’ve reached a suitable level, eventually turning out people with the skills, knowledge and behaviours for a life of work with live event technology. With so many similarities, it was little surprise when everyone agreed to develop a standard. Around 3 years ago, Government overhauled the apprenticeship system, switching to an employer-led method of development, we thought it looked interesting. approach, a Live Event Technician Apprenticeship. To cut a long story medium (there’s a word count to achieve here), there was swift agreement on how to describe the job and the knowledge, skills and behaviours (KSBs) required of a practitioner in our field. That was the easy bit, taking the KSBs delivered and developed in existing traineeships and putting them, along with a job description, on two sides of A4 paper. That journey through the departments was placed at the root of the apprenticeship, it’s stood many in good stead for a career in our industry. What followed was a tortuously drawn out process to develop methods of assessing against those KSBs, fitting our agreed requirements into an ever-changing template. One of the most attractive elements of the new
orion feature packed
hybrid luminaire CMY COLOR MIXING SYSTEM FIXED COLOR WHEEL 2 GOBO WHEELS 3 + 1 DOUBLE WHEEL PRISMS 2 LEVEL FROST EFFECT ZOOM 2° - 42°
PSA: THE BIGGER PICTURE
apprenticeship standards is the end point assessment. Instead of apprentices being assessed on elements that can subsequently be forgotten, the end point assessment is designed as a holistic test of all that has been learned, delivered in a manner suited to the sector. It didn’t take much to agree that our end point assessment should be highly practical, demonstrating the ability to build systems from the drawing board to operation. While the original group of employers shrank as companies completed mergers and acquisitions, heavy doses of tenacity, determination and patience led to the recent, eventual publication of the Live Event Technician Apprenticeship. Brilliant, fantastic, break out the party poppers... what now? One key benefit that we saw with the new method of development is the way that the apprenticeship is designed around the needs of the employer; this also needs to be reflected in delivery and assessment. No longer should employers compromise, providers need to innovate. Lucky then that we have a National College for Creative and Cultural Skills as well as a growing network of colleges and providers that come under the wing of UK Music’s Music Academic Partnership. We’ve already spoken with The National College and to be honest, they’re speaking our language. Flexible delivery, a network of trainers and assessors, options for in house delivery and pooled resources are all on the table. Recruitment shouldn’t be an issue either, especially considering existing staff can be switched to apprenticeships. The Department for Education are also engaged, with people to support organisations like the PSA in their efforts to spread the Apprenticeship word to SME members. Of course, the input of the employers has been key to getting to where we are now, but continued input from those with the experience to drive quality training and effective assessment is essential. One individual who, along with helping with the final push over the line, has switched focus from running a company to developing new talent. Former HPSS Director, Linda Cressey explained: “I have come across many training schemes and courses for this industry of ours in the 30 years in which I have worked in and on the industry, and although some have covered areas required I don’t think I have come across one which ticked all the boxes, until now. “How could they, as this industry has such a varied skill base and group of companies within it, several with a touch of the creative personality mixed in. During the last 20 years huge changes have taken place both in equipment capabilities and client requirements, legal requirement and constitutional needs. Companies come and companies go however the need for a skilled work force with the flare for the wow factor remains. “That is why I have left HPSS, a company I was a Director at for some 16 years to work with colleagues and companies both big and small to assist in the delivery and development of this Live Event Technicians Apprenticeship. During the Hull City of Culture 2017, I put this forward as part of the legacy arm of City of Culture and lo and behold after a conversation with Andy at the Production Services Association I wasn’t the only one working on it. In December 2018 the standard was published, the best Christmas gift last year. “Apprenticeship work on more than intellectual basic skills so they include those individuals not necessarily academically skilled, you work with and among skilled people already in the industry you want to join and be a member of, what better learning platform is there? You build a contact base for the future and have the ability to impress through work. “This apprenticeship standard has been written for the industry, by the Industry, what could be more advantageous? How substantially qualified for the industry will be these apprentices with this foundation? The standard has been written published and accepted, what’s next? Ensuring the delivery meets this standard and is accepted throughout all sectors of live events, this will take cohesion and collective thinking from a diverse group of companies and pools of skilled people. This is what I want to ensure to the best of my ability happens. I whole heartedly believe in this and the future of this… “And for the future, well this is a level 3 apprenticeship, there is still level 4 and then level 5 (equivalent to a degree) to go, this is just the beginning.” A final note; none of this would have been possible without the determined efforts of our Trailblazer Group Chair, John McEvoy, whose tenacity and patience in the face of bureaucracy and endless delays saw the project to a successful conclusion. TPi www.psa.org.uk
your show, whatever the weather prolights.it 105
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Elation Professional’s Anthony Velazquez and Shawn Butcher; ADJ Group’s Eddie Short; SSE Audio Group’s Nathan Hernando; Martin Audio’s Case Kuehn.
Elation Professional has announced that two of its employees, Anthony Velazquez and Shawn Butcher, have assumed new roles as Product Specialists. Velazquez has been named Antari Product Specialist while Butcher assumes the role of Control Product Specialist. “We are excited to promote from within our organisation both Shawn and Anthony, who have proven over the years to be strong team players, both with a passion for servicing our customers,” said Elation Sales and Marketing Director Eric Loader. “Their focus and dedication on developing these product categories will be key to our growth plans for each brand.” Velazquez’s new responsibilities encompass broad management of the complete range of Antari special effect machines which includes launch and promotion, product training, inventory and market analysis. Butcher’s new role involves working closely with the Obsidian Control Systems development team and will also help to manage new product launches. Entedi has become the distributor for begin Elation Professional products in the UK. “As the recent PLASA show demonstrated for us, there is a growing demand for Elation products,” stated Marc Librecht, Head of Sales and Marketing for Elation in Europe. “Expanding our brand in such an important European market is an essential piece of our growth strategy. Entedi is a company that appreciates that relationships are the key to
success and we are delighted to be working with them to spread the Elation brand.” With the exclusive partnership, Entedi expanded its professional portfolio to include Elation’s complete range of lighting products, allowing the company to offer its customers more complete solutions. ADJ Group Products welcomed Eddie Short as its new PR and Communications Manager. Short has helped the Group of Companies that include; ADJ Lighting, Avante Audio, American Audio and Accu-Cable. Short will be writing press releases and stories for the ADJ NewsWave digital newsletter and liaising with press and media contacts. Brian Dowdle, ADJ Group Marketing Director said: I’ve always admired Eddie’s work and, when he became available, I knew he’d be a great fit for our growing team.” ADJ has also broadened its product range after it acquired Eliminator Lighting. All existing Eliminator Lighting fixtures have been made available from ADJ USA, opening up the brand’s equipment catalogue to all current ADJ dealers with immediate effect. Eliminator Lighting’s Product Manager, Albert Paredes, will stay with the company ensuring continued excellent customer service for both existing Eliminator dealers and those who choose to stock the line for the first time now that it is available through ADJ distribution. As part of the expansion of SSE Audio Group, Nathan Hernando has 106
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The Music & Audio Solutions & Services team; Adamson’s Marc Bertrand; Allied Protech’s Jeff Miranda; Ayrton’s Chris Ferrante, Linnea Ljungmark, Michael Althaus.
been appointed as Sales Manager. Hernando takes over the role of Sales Manager from Peter Codron who recently moved to Martin Audio. Hernando will steer the development of new equipment sales for SSE in London and the South of England, and be involved in SSE’s Installation division. SSE’s Sales Director, Alex Penn said: “With Nathan at the helm of the Sales team in London we see this as a great opportunity for further growth and development of the team.” Case Kuehn has joined Martin Audio as President of Martin Audio North America. Martin Audio’s management buyout in June 2018 meant that the North American operation took on additional local responsibility that had been handled by the previous Company Owners. Martin Audio’s Managing Director, Dom Harter said: “With sales in the US booming, we needed a President that could manage the day to day business strategy and core operational functions. I’m delighted that Case has accepted the role as he is both extremely capable and has a deep understanding of our company.” DPA Microphones has named Music & Audio Solutions & Services as its new distributor in the Philippines. Thanks to a strategic partnership with Audiophile Components – the largest Pro Audio Distributor in the Philippines – DPA products will now be available through 12 Audiophile branches in and around Manila. Dominic Tsang, DPA’s APAC Area Sales Manager, said: “We are pleased to have found an experienced partner in the Philippines and I am confident that with its solid knowledge and local expertise, Music & Audio will be able to serve our current and future customers promptly, efficiently and in the best way possible.” DPA has also promoted Thomas Frederiksen to the new Vice President of Sales role for the APAC region. Frederiksen has headed up DPA’s regional office in Hong Kong, which opened in 2013 to support the company’s sales partners in Asia. DPA’s CEO Kalle Hidvt Nielsen said: “I am pleased to have Thomas on board. APAC is an important region for DPA. I know that, with his strong background in the pro audio market and his extensive experience in Asia, and in particular Japan, he will drive the APAC team to develop even closer links with distributors, dealers and customers across the region.” Marc Bertrand has joined Adamson Systems Engineering as Chief Executive Officer after company Founder Brock Adamson assumes the role of Chairman. “It’s a tremendous honour to be leading a company as respected and reputable as Adamson – especially amidst an exciting time of growth and continued innovation,” said Bertrand.
In his new role, Bertrand plans to continue building the Adamson brand in the vital North American market while maintaining its strong presence in Europe and supporting its growing Asia-Pacific market position. Allied ProTech have revealed that Jeff Miranda is the new Sales Manager. Miranda brings near 15-years of experience in the professional audio industry, has run his own integration company and has nearly two decades of experience as a Live Sound Engineer. “Jeff’s broad experience, not just in professional AV sales, but also as an Integrator, Design Engineer and Mixing Engineer, makes him the perfect choice to join us in this new role,” explained Rik Kirby, Founder of Allied ProTech. “Over the last two years our business has been growing extremely quickly and we’re confident Jeff will be instrumental in continuing this growth.” Miranda will be based out of the offices in Orange County, California. Ayrton has welcomed Linnea Ljungmark as the latest addition to its expanding international Sales Team. Ljungmark previously woked at Intersonic AB, the family-run distribution company founded by her father Per Olof Jlungmark in 1997. During this time Ljungmark gained experience in Scandinavian markets and worked with Ayrton through Intersonic’s distribution of the brand. “We are delighted Linnea has joined our international sales team,” said Michael Althaus, Ayrton’s Global Sales Director. “This is a time of rapid growth and increased activity for Ayrton and Linnea is a welcome addition to the team. Her expertise, energy and enthusiasm will be an invaluable asset to Ayrton’s adventure going forward and we are excited to welcome her on board.” Based in Sweden, Ljungmark will be responsible for Ayrton across the whole of Scandinavia, the Baltic and Benelux countries and the Iberian peninsula. KB Event, has confirmed the addition of three new members of staff. Tia Ganatra, Rebecca Smith and John Conway all joined the KB Event team at their head office in Nottingham in readiness for 2019. Tia Ganatra’s new role sees her joined as Finance Apprentice, part of Natalie Wright’s finance team. This is Ganatra’s first full-time job and one she hopes will be the start of a long and successful career in accounts. Rebecca Smith joined Howard Dearsley’s team as an Operator. Smith has previously worked as a Transport Manager for companies within the agriculture industry. After working in Property Management, Rebecca’s appointment within KB fulfils her desire to get back into transport and operations. John Conway joined as the Warehouse and Yard Operative, part of Sean Conway’s Warehouse Team. Having previously worked within an insurance 108
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KB Event’s Tia Ganatra, Rebecca Smith, John Conway; Astera LED’s Sebastian Bueckle, Con Biviano; Allen & Heath’s Alfonso Martin; The Brands on Stage Team.
and account handling warehouse, Conway will apply his experience to KB Event’s warehouse division, offering more clients KB Event’s bespoke warehouse Stock Management system. Leanne McPherson, Company Secretary, commented: “It is wonderful to welcome more young people into the KB Event group. Their enthusiasm, determination to succeed, and a fresh approach is an absolute compliment to the experience and knowledge the older members of the team.” Astera LED has unveiled that ULA Group is its new exclusive Australian and New Zealand, distributor. Astera’s Sales and Marketing Director, Sebastian Bückle said: “I see huge potential in the Australian and New Zealand markets. So we sought aa partner that is progressive with a great reputation for quality and well connected with a diverse and interesting client base. ULA Group ticked all the boxes. They have huge energy and are highly motivated to push Astera products to the top across multiple markets.” Established in 1992, the ULA Group is one of Australia and New Zealand’s best known and well-established professional lighting and visual solution providers. ULA Group MD Cuono Biviano and his team are fully committed to providing inventive lighting technology and visual solutions to all professional and commercial sectors. Biviano commented: “Astera is more than just a well designed and engineered LED product; details have been thought-through, making this a truly ground-breaking range. The ingenuity of the Astera product range is perfectly suited to ULA’s portfolio and vast client base.” Allen & Heath has announced that Sonos Libra is its exclusive distributor in Thailand. Sonos Libra has a strong presence as a pro audio distributor in SE Asia and already represents the Allen & Heath brand in Vietnam. With an experienced team, they have quickly garnered a reputation for first-class service and customer support. Markus Sinsel, Sales Director at Allen & Heath, said: “We are pleased to be working with the Sonos Libra team in Thailand. They are a young, dynamic company who have rapidly built an impressive standing in the region. We are looking forward to continuing to work together to further strengthen the brand.” The partnership takes immediate effect with plans for regular training, product support, stock availability and product presentations. Allen & Heath has also appointed Val Gilbert as Technical Marketing
Manager. Based near London, Gilbert will be supporting Allen & Heath’s international distributor network, optimising the levels of education and training support they’re able to offer. Rob Clark, Managing Director at Allen & Heath, commented: “We’re excited to welcome Val to the technical team. His extensive experience places him in an excellent position to help us develop our global product education and training and to better support our customers.” Markus Sinsel has also joined Allen & Heath as their new Sales Director. Sinsel joined Allen & Heath from its Germany, Spain and Great Britain distributor, Audio-Technica Europe, where he held the role of Allen & Heath Brand Manager. Allen & Heath’s Managing Director, Rob Clark commented: “Markus has been part of the Allen & Heath family for the past 17 years and has a truly exceptional understanding of both our products and our customers. I cannot imagine a more qualified individual to drive our continued growth in cooperation with our distribution partners.” QSC has welcomed Brands on Stage as its distribution partner for the company’s Live Sound division. With years of expertise as distributors in the region, Brands on Stage manage the QSC Live Sound Portfolio throughout Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, and Paraguay. Which will enable more brand growth and more opportunities with Latin American channel partners and their customers. “We are very excited to be part of the QSC family. Our work philosophies are 100% aligned.” said Guillermo Promesti, Principal of Brands on Stage. “We have plans to offer educational seminars and product presentations throughout the region for our customers, to share QSC’s amazing portfolio of products, such as the TouchMix compact digital mixers and the K.2 Series.” POLAR has appointed Adrian Hamilton to the post of Business Development Manager for Ireland. Based near Dublin, Adrian offers POLAR technical skills, combined with the experience of leadership in Senior Management positions. Stuart Leader, Director of POLAR Integrated Solutions said: “Adrian is an outstanding professional. His technical expertise is unquestionable and he complements this with a highly dynamic approach to business. We wanted to develop the opportunities available in-region, so local support was essential. Adrian is perfectly equipped to develop and strengthen POLAR’s 109
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L-Acoustics’ Scott Sugden, Marcus Ross, Vic Wagner; NEXO’s Joe White; MDG’s Martin Michaud and Nicolas Duhamel.
business in the region.” Shure has promoted Mark Humrichouser to Vice President of Global Sales. Humrichouser leads the company’s Global Sales team, which oversees worldwide sales operations for pro audio, retail, integrated systems, and emerging markets. “I am proud to appoint Mark to this position in global sales,” said Ray Crawford, Senior Vice President of Global Marketing and Sales at Shure. “Mark’s vision and strategic leadership are extremely valuable to our Company and will be instrumental in helping Shure achieve our sales objectives in 2019 and beyond. I congratulate him on this well-deserved promotion.” L-Acoustics has reinforced the Product Management and Application Touring Team with three new appointments. Scott Sugden was appointed Product Manager and will be reporting to Jeff Rocha, Product Management, Director. Since 2010, while in the Head of US Touring Support role, Scott Sugden contributed to the success of L-Acoustics touring markets in North America. “Scott is an outstanding individual who demonstrates a rare combination of both technical acumen and great communication skills, with a keen focus on the user experience, making him the ideal candidate to fill the key cross-functional role of Product Manager,” commented Rocha. Effective immediately, recent hire Marcus Ross assumes the role of Head of Application, Touring, USA & Canada, reporting to Florent Bernard, Director of Application, Touring. Based in L-Acoustics North America headquarters in Westlake Village, California, Ross will lead application support for all rental production projects in USA and Canada. He has furthered awareness and deployment of L-ISA Immersive Hyperreal Sound and oversaw new developments in the theatre market. Laurent Vaissié, L-Acoustics CEO, USA & Canada, said: “Marcus’ proven leadership skills and understanding of the full signal chain from mixing to amplification, networking and sound reinforcement will be a tremendous resource for our rental network and end users.” Also new to the L-Acoustics US & Canada Touring team, is Vic Wagner, assuming the role of Application Engineer, Touring. “Vic has been one of our top KSE for the past decade while at Sound Image, winning high praise from tours and festivals all over North America,” said Vaissié. “After a decade spent on the road mastering all aspects of high-end touring system deployment, we are extremely fortunate that Vic
chose L-Acoustics for the next step in his career.” NEXO has welcomed Joe White to its International Sales Team. He will be taking up the role of Business Development Manager with responsibility for NEXO’s activities in South-East Asia, India and Oceania. Reporting to Sales Director Denis Baudier, White will shoulder the responsibility for managing NEXO’s distribution network in the Far East. White said: “New government policies and investments into infrastructure are highly encouraging for a sound reinforcement equipment manufacturer of international renown. We can see huge growth potential in the entertainment and worship sectors. This is a very exciting time to rejoin my friends at NEXO and put on a new hat.” Nicolas Duhamel has returned to MDG as Marketing Director and part of the European Business Development. In his new role, Duhamel will be responsible for all MDG’s marketing activities worldwide and the central point of call for European distributors seeking out new opportunities to develop the MDG brand across Europe. “Nicolas never left us completely as he continued to look after our marketing part-time, so we are delighted to welcome him back,” said MDG President & CEO, Martin Michaud. “Nicolas has played an important part in the MDG story, and with his experience and passion for the brand, I have no doubt that there are exciting times ahead for MDG.” Harman Professional Solutions has announced its new distributor partnership with Exertis in the UK. The distribution agreement entitled Exertis the right to distribute the collaboration and retail products range offered by Harman . The agreement covered the entire Harman AMX Acendo product family in addition to a selection of AKG, JBL Professional and Martin by Harman products. “We are delighted to partner with Exertis,” said Richard Hutchinson, Regional Lead UK and Eire at Harman Professional Solutions, EMEA. “By appointing Exertis as one of our retail and collaboration space distributors in the UK, we will be able to address the new segment demands of the market. We are confident that with Exertis’ vision and high level of expertise, we can significantly enhance our market reach.” Exertis distributes IT, communication and home entertainment products in the UK and is a wholly owned subsidiary of parent company DCC. TPi www.tpimagazine.com/category/industry-jobs/ 110
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Music & Lights
MAUREEN HAYES Marketing Manager, Martin Audio
You’ve been with Martin Audio for 22 years now. How did you make your entrance into pro audio? You could say that I just fell into it. I was a mature student studying social sciences at university and after graduating I took a break and went to work for Otari (Japanese manufacturer of reel-toreel tape recorders) on a temporary basis. They offered me a full time position and that was it! I did a complete U-turn on my plans for the future and never looked back. I was there for about 13 years and when Otari moved their operation to Germany, one of our dealers, Stirling Audio, offered me a job. After a few years I moved to Focusrite and finally to Martin Audio and the rest, as they say, is history.
reinvented the way loudspeaker arrays are configured and controlled, bringing the FOH engineer and the audience together in a more powerful, immersive environment where everyone in the house shares exactly the same sonic experience. In 2015 the CDD (Differential Dispersion) series was launched - with its wider and consistent coverage front to back and side to side, and this has seen wholesale adoption by the market. Also really exciting is the Wavefront Precision series, a scalable resolution line array family which draws on the research and technology behind MLA and brings sound, coverage consistency and control to a broader range of touring applications, installations and budgets. All are designed to ‘Unite the Audience’, which has become our mission statement.
Poudest moment in the job to date? The thing I am proudest of is having had the opportunity to continue the legacy of Rob Lingfield. These were giant shoes to fill (in every sense of the word) and I hope I have been able to continue carrying out the marketing duties in his spirit and with his blessing. When you’re not in your daily marketing world, we can actually find you on stage in a band. Do tell… My earliest musical career was steered by my parents who sent me for accordion lessons with Billy McPhee – famous (at least in Glasgow) for his Caledonian Accordion Band and for giving Lulu her first professional engagement. I never made it to play in his marching band but my passion for music was ignited. I now play keyboards in a band called JUMP. We are a six-piece troupe who have been treading the boards for quite a while. In fact, next year is our 30th anniversary. We’ve recorded 13 studio albums and performed well in excess of 1,000 shows (including a memorable Christmas show in Abbey Road Studio 2). During our 29 years together we’ve worked with a host of acts including Fish (including support on ‘Sunsets on Empire’ tour), Marillion (Mark Kelly produced one of our albums), The Blockheads, Midge Ure, Sam Brown, Hawkwind, Steeleye Span, Spin Doctors and many more. People are always trying to pigeonhole us (are-they-aren’t-they-prog) but we focus far more on developing whatever song enters our heads than conforming to the convenience of a particular stereotype.
How has the live production industry changed in this time? I have definitely seen a massive change in the live production industry and the biggest technological advance is that sound has become controllable within a venue or space and can today be defined and optimised to the venue’s acoustic parameters thanks to advanced software. In this respect, Martin Audio has taken a leading role with optimisation and scalable resolution technology and it was a proud moment when the system was voted into Hyde Park (for British Summer Time Festival), a site that had previously been considered unworkable and impractical from a sound perspective. In addition, when gigging these days I have noticed that the PAs are so much more compact and efficient. Gone are the stacks of speakers forming a ‘wall of sound’. The emphasis is now on portability, projection and quality of the PA. Backline has changed too. In my band, the guitarists no longer go out with massive 4x12 cabs instead they have lightweight, compact amps and a mic. That’s it!
Since you’ve been working with Martin Audio, what have been the most significant launches in the company’s product ranges? I’ve been fortunate to witness the launch of many great products at Martin Audio but if I had to name just a few I would have to go with MLA. Launched in 2010, MLA
What’s ahead for JUMP in 2019? A new album (no. 14) and participating in another round of interesting and entertaining live performances. No two JUMP shows are ever the same…next stop…my hometown, Glasgow. 114
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