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THE EUROVISION SONG CONTEST TPi goes backstage at the world’s largest international singing competition



JUNE 2018 #226



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TO NEW BEGINNINGS.... It’s been quite the month at TPi HQ! For this issue, our team has been lucky enough to cover some huge production stories, including the Eurovision Song Contest, thanks to Michael Nicholson’s trip to Lisbon courtesy of Osram, and Stew’s visit behind the scenes at the live action show of Fast & Furious. Plus, there’s been some rather endearing ones too... I hung out with the crew behind Stockport band Blossoms - who performed in our town’s beautiful Art Deco Plaza venue, and I also spoke to the fascinating gents at Britannia Row Productions, one year on from the Clair Global acquisition. Go on, I know you’re curious! [Pg.70]. Then there’s the chat Ste had with Hannah Brodrick about hosting her Women in Live Music event, sound engineer Marios Sozos detailing his diary from the road in South America, and the visit to F1 Sound Company’s Allen & Heath console training & networking day, which, if you turn to Pg. 16, you’ll see was a pro audio community effort. Yet, it has to be said, my favourite story this month comes from our very own Ste. And he didn’t even write it! At the end of May, he became a father for the first time to baby Rosa. Congratulations Ste and Emma! We’ll definitely have a TPi kids group together in no time. Here she is, posing with the editorial team at just 2 weeks old. Oh, and in case you were wondering, the answer is yes, she does get rocked to sleep to the sound of death metal on vinyl. I can’t wait until she’s old enough to ask for Britney Spears on repeat, and demand that he learn the dance moves to boot. Kel Murray Editor

EDITOR Kel Murray Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7738 154689 e-mail: ASSISTANT EDITOR Ste Durham Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8385 Mobile: +44 (0)7891 679742 e-mail: STAFF WRITER Stewart Hume Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8385 Mobile: +44 (0)7702 054344 e-mail: ADVERTISING EXECUTIVE Lauren Dyson Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7415 773639 e-mail: GENERAL MANAGER - TPi MAGAZINE & AWARDS Hannah Eakins Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7760 485230 e-mail: CHIEF EXECUTIVE Justin Gawne Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7768 850767 e-mail:


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COVER Eurovision Song Contest by Ralph Larmann PRINTED BY Buxton Press • Issue 225 - May 2018 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:

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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Ultra Music Festival A selection of tech highlights from Miami’s EDM extravaganza.




F1 Sound Company’s A&H dDay The rental house &re-seller hosts an open day focussed on end-users of Allen & Heath.

20 24

CT’s Festival of Technology Creative Technology showcases the industry latest innovations at its HQ. Zum Wasenwirt Skyeline-Live choose TW AUDiO for its main PA at the biannual beer festival.

PRODUCTION PROFILE 28 Eurovision Song Contest 2018 The annual competition returns with its usual technical brilliance.



Blossoms Stockport’s favourite band play an unforgettable hometown show & talks to the crew who made it happen.

54 Fast and Furious Live The action movie franchise hits arenas.




Sean Martin speaks about his new role at Bose Professional.


Hannah Brodrick discusses hosting her Women in Live Music event.


Britannia Row Productions talks shop a year on from its Clair Global acquisition.


J&C Joel’s Kara Sugden describes her first 18-months with the company.



TPi speaks to d&b audiotechnik’s Matthias Christner about the GSL system.


Marios Sozos summarises his latest outing with death metal band, Ingested.


Andy discuses the very real issue of modern slavery in live events.



The latest movers and shakers.


John Dixon of Scott Dixon Inc takes the hot seat.


ULTRA MUSIC FESTIVAL For the 20th year, legions of dance music fans descended on Miami’s Bayfront Park for 3 days of raving and revelry. TPi puts a spotlight on the companies that made the event possible.

Record breaking global livestreaming and 4K delivery from NOMOBO

Ultra Music Festival is the only electronic music festival in the world that delivers its live multicam content in 4K to its global audience. For the sixth consecutive year, NOMOBO was responsible for capturing the excitement and exhilaration of crowds enjoying the very special and unexpected performances at the 20th anniversary event. A fleet of 22 URSA Mini Pro and URSA Broadcast cameras were deployed across the four stages to capture the live performances, as well as backstage footage from the Ultra Live broadcast studio. The cameras were paired with either Fujinon ZK Cabrio and UA 4K zoom lenses and rigged across a series of cranes and jibs to get the best views of the artists’ stage performances. To complement the action on stage, NOMOBO also had four roving ENG teams equipped with shoulder mounted cameras to get in amongst the festival crowds. “The livestream had to transport global viewers right to the heart of the Miami crowds, so the URSA Mini Pro’s authentic and high quality image production were critical,” explained NOMOBO’s Constantijn van Duran.

NOMOBO’s 100-strong team built four individual video and audio control rooms around Blackmagic Design live production systems, with a series of ATEM 1 M/E & 2 M/E Production Studio 4K handling Ultra HD live camera signals covering the DJ sets, interviews, backstage footage and

festival graphics. “The live program mixes were fed out through to our livestreaming encoding platform to YouTube, as well as recorded to a series of HyperDeck Studio Pro decks as part of a unique 24 hour editing turnaround workflow to enable 4K delivery of live DJ sets to performing artists,” commented van Duran. Ultra Live’s record breaking livestream attracted more than 30 million viewers from around the world. Each artist’s set was then made available in 4K on YouTube, with key sets, such as Tiësto’s Saturday night performance, garnering more than 4.1 million views to date.
The festival is officially and firmly down as the most tweeted about electronic music event in history. “For the fifth year in a row Ultra Music Festival was the number 1 trending topic on social platforms worldwide over the weekend, with millions of mentions across all platforms, and the festival’s Ultra HD coverage, delivered through our Blackmagic system is a critical component in creating the very best festival moments for ULTRA’s global fans,” concluded van Duran. TPi 08


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Ultra Music Festival Celebrates 20 Years with Elation Professional

The world’s premier electronic music festival, Ultra Music Festival, turned twenty this year and the occasion was marked, in part, by big beam lighting effects from an array of Elation Professional IP65-rated Proteus Beam moving heads that lined the top of the festival’s iconic Main Stage. Production and lighting design for the Main Stage was by The Activity, its 9th year of involvement with the festival. The Las Vegasbased production and design firm, headed by lighting veteran Patrick Dierson, wanted to do something special for the festival’s 20th year and chose the Proteus Beam for a prominent look. “Because this was Ultra’s platinum anniversary, we wanted an element within the design that would specifically represent its 20 years of celebration and the Platinum Beam’s bigger brother, the Proteus, seemed like the perfect choice,” stated Dierson, who served as Lighting and Production Designer on this year’s Main Stage. The Activity worked directly with Ultra’s Creative Director Richard Milstein, as well as AG Production Services who supplied all of the lighting and video elements for this year’s Ultra. Dierson approached the project with a simple design aesthetic in mind for the Proteus lights but their role expanded as show time approached. “During performances they were to simply be twenty static beams reaching out over the downtown Miami skyline emanating from the structure and then produce sky tracking movements during the short set changes to maintain a level of visual excitement,” he said. “By the time we were in full show mode, many of the guest LDs started to incorporate them into their performances, which obviously turned the units into a much larger production element for the performances.” Twenty Proteus Beams sat atop the Mountain Productions-built Main Stage, 10 fixtures per side, and splayed a barrage of dense 2-degree beams that could be seen for miles around. “The Proteus offered us the raw output that we required for sky tracking effects in a compact form factor with full IP65 rating,” Dierson said of the weatherproof beam lights, which were completely exposed to the elements for a little over a week. Outdoor events bring their own logistical challenges and Proteus has helped eliminate some of them such as the need for cumbersome (and costly) shrouds. Substantial power in a relatively compact IP package is another benefit as Dierson noted. “Having something that was of reasonable weight and size made the task of mounting the units significantly easier than going with the traditionally larger Xenon-based solutions for such an effect,” he said of the Proteus Beam whose design features include CMY colour mixing, colour wheel, gobos, prisms and a frost filter.


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Another Elation lighting fixture used on this year’s Main Stage was the Colour Chorus 72, a versatile 6-foot LED batten wash light (RGBA) often used for truss warming. When a powerful colour-changing unit was needed for detailing and highlighting, Dierson built 112 of the LED battens into the architecture of creative director Milstein’s stage design. Ultra has come a long way in its 2 decades and a lot has changed along the way. But one thing is certain, with world-class artists returning year after year and a production that continues to surprise and excite, the Ultra experience is still magical. TPi

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Swedish House Mafia’s Ultra Success, with GLP and LD Andy Hurst

When Swedish House Mafia (SHM) decided to reform after 5 years, providing the Ultra Music Festival in Miami with its surprise headline act, production designer Andy Hurst was brought in to design the extravaganza. Already the Show Designer for Axwell and Ingrosso, 2 of the band members, he immediately turned to GLP’s LED catalogue, procuring 60 JDC1 hybrid strobe and 96 impression X4 Bar 20 from PRG in Las Vegas, knowing that SHM would be the closing act. “As the festival main stage design was changed one month before the show we had to work quickly to get a new SHM design signed off and ready in time,” he explained. His main challenge was to interface with the existing house rig, supplied by AG Light and Sound. “We had to have our entire system set in 35 mins.
In that time we had to fly our back wall, set our custom DJ riser and roll in our lighting, laser and pyro package.” Hurst is no stranger to GLP’s advanced solutions, having specified its products for many years on other acts with whom he has worked regularly, such as Prodigy and Faithless. “I had seen the JDC1 at LDI and was impressed with the brightness

and ability to provide lots of different effects,” he said. “We ran them in full 68-channel mode using all the attributes. “The strobe effects were used to drive beats and nuances within the tracks, which they did perfectly.” The bars were used in a giant wall of light behind the artists on the 20ft x20 ft x16ft truss cube platform and also for a light wall on the DJ booth, where they were also used in full DMX mode. Hurst had the opportunity to pre-programme the show at DMD Studios, with GLP supporting this by providing some fixtures to check programming in real life, along with the full size virtual rig that was created in the studio. “Having the fixtures when programming is always essential for me … as good as pre vis is, you can’t beat the real thing.” And with more than 150 GLP elements joining lighting, laser, flying set pieces and pyro, it is no surprise that Andy Hurst was able to confirm that, “the show was very well received and the guys loved it.” TPi









Photo: Johannes Krämer





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Vero’s unique flying system ensures absolute driver alignment, which guarantees coherency and results in an incredibly immersive stereo sound stage. Angle adjustment can be made under load, allowing for arrays to be transported and flown in a straight line prior to being tensioned to exact angle settings. Load ins and load outs have never been more straightforward. Its meticulously crafted proprietary waveguides and driver technology produce naturally even frequency response and coverage. The result is uncompromised system dynamics, headroom and coherency, which is why Vero is appreciated by sound engineers all around the world.


Sound Investment Provides a Funktion-One Sound System for RESISTANCE: Carl Cox Megastructure

Carl Cox regularly turns to Funktion-One founder Tony Andrews to deliver the finest sound reproduction and to engineer his sets. To that end, the system at his stage at Ultra was a tour de force of Funktion-One’s flagship technology and philosophy. Due to Andrews’ passion for addressing issues at source, he has developed strategies that fix mechanical anomalies with mechanical solutions and acoustic issues with acoustic solutions. The main speaker hangs were a full contingent of Vero cabinets. Vero is a large format speaker system that skilfully blends point source coherency with many of the conveniences of vertical array systems. The system’s throw and coverage can be tailored to suit the venue and 12 Vero cabinets per hang ensured that each audience position from the front to the back (80m) had excellent imaging, with no delays required. Vero was powered and processed by Lab.gruppen PLM20K amplifiers and LM44 system controllers, which are specifically utilised to take advantage of their clean high power output, precise signal processing, and Dante networking capabilities. All communication between DJ booth, monitor beach, FOH and amplifiers was accomplished using Dante protocol over fibre connected networking components. The low frequency range (when supplied) of the music programme was reproduced using ground-breaking concepts in loudspeaker design and system deployment. The venerable V221 is a dual 21-inch folded horn with exceptional transparency and output. The ultra-low frequency range

between 24Hz and 40Hz was reproduced using Funktion-One V132 hornloaded enclosures, which utilise Funktion-One’s high-tech 32-inch cone driven by a 10kW linear motor - the Powersoft M-Force. In combination, these 2 cabinets effortlessly produce deep, impactful bass. The V221s and V132s were arranged in2 single stacks, both with minimised horizontal dimensions. The result is a smooth coverage pattern in both the time and frequency domain due to the elimination of arrival time differences. Cox also requested that Funktion-One PSM318’s be used onstage for DJ monitoring. The PSM318 is a floor-standing, four-way monitor system that features 2 18-inch drivers for low end, and a tri-axial low/mid/high driver for precise and coherent wave-front arrival regardless of where the listener stands. Funktion-One’s Andrews said: “After his set, Carl made it abundantly clear that he was over the moon with the sound.” Ron Lorman of  All Things Audio, supplied a Cadac CDC 6 console for the 2nd year to the Carl Cox stage at Ultra. He said: “Cadac digital consoles provide extreme audio quality with stellar, musical EQs. The console’s transient speed and phase accuracy complimented the Funktion-One Vero rig with unprecedented detail and punch, meaning a powerful audio presentation was delivered to the audience.” TPi



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F1 SOUND COMPANY TEAMS WITH ALLEN & HEATH The companies joined forces for a day dedicated to the Allen & Heath dLive Mixing Systems.

Held at London’s Clapham Grand on 15 May 2018, audio rental house and product re-seller, F1 Sound Company, invited the audio industry for a day of training, networking and idea-sharing specifically for end-users of Allen & Heath mixing systems. The event presented an overview of one of the most flexible and intuitive digital mixing systems available today, the dLive. It’s not often on a scorching summer day in London that you’d find hoards of Britons queueing to go indoors at lunchtime. Yet, when F1 Sound Company offered up a free day of console community collaboration, that’s exactly what happened. Matt Bate, Director, led the day’s discussions, alongside Rich Soper from Audio-Technica (Allen & Heath’s UK distributor) who gave a detailed system overview. The day also entailed networking opportunities - plus a free bar and Indian buffet - during which the crowd could get acquainted. Bate explained the thought process behind the day to TPi: “It seems as though the industry is increasingly busy, and I feel it’s vital to allow people access to equipment in an environment that’s both friendly and familiar to them which is why we hosted the event in a music venue in central London, rather than invite people to attend formal training at our headquarters.

This is key to familiarising people with the kit and opening the door to look at the right console for their needs. The live market is a very busy place, but the dLive systems are so accessible around the world, that there is no reason it couldn’t be at the top of your rider.” The initial idea to hold the day came into play last year, but, as he noted, the timing had to be right. “Holding the session in mid-May means it fell just between Prolight+Sound in Frankfurt and PLASA Focus in Leeds, yet before ABTT in London, as well as it being just before festival season starts to ramp up. As a company, we have seen an increasingly close relationship develop with both Allen & Heath and the the team at Audio-Technica. Plus, as one of the UK’s premier re-sellers and rental houses for dLive, we felt we should be setting the bar with our own seminars. “For me personally, it had to be informal and attractive to all manner of people, from sound consultants to freelancers, to existing users - and potential users - and that’s why I wanted to create focus groups on the day, so that we could target information where required. “Realistically, we only flash through the desk’s basic functions in the introduction, so it’s more about getting people in front of the system afterwards. With such a variety of attendees, we can’t train a live sound 16

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engineer in the same way we would someone from a theatre, and a lecturer life is vital. I also think the social aspect of events like dDay are massively needs another set of information altogether, but what we want to get across important; many technicians work largely in relative isolation, especially in is that the dLive fits into all environments. What the day gave us was a way venues, so having the opportunity to get together with their peers builds to access those potential users, present systems which are fit for their relationships and bonds that will last for years; friendships are forged and purpose with either more specific training or help getting their show files off relationships with companies and manufacturers are made. Events like this the ground.” create a community and that’s essential in keeping the industry going with Allen & Heath, Technical Manager, Andy Bell, added: “It was a real a cheerful and pleasant atmosphere.” pleasure spending time with so many engineers, some with extensive Soper added: “We were so pleased to support the event; it’s people experience of using dLive, others just about to take the plunge. As someone pushing boundaries and evangelising about products like this that have who’s involved in product development, there’s no substitute for the kind of really helped to propel dLive to where it is now, and where it’s going. We detailed feedback and ideas you only get from listening to the people who simply couldn’t have achieved some of the things we have done over the depend on your gear. Kudos to F1 Sound Company and Audio-Technica for last few years without this level of support from our dealers.” creating such a well-run event in a fabulous venue.” Upon reflection, Bate looked back on the day he and his team had Another key figure in helping the event run delivered: “The event was a total success; we had smoothly was Soulsound’s Darryn de la Soul. a great time and got some lovely feedback. Even Soulsound is an online resource centre for though it wasn’t a targeted commercial event, sound engineers, which presents live seminars we did launch a 0% finance over 24-months offer at colleges, universities and PLASA shows, on dLive systems, and it did generate some sales and hosts seminars from the like of Merlijn van leads. On a wider scale, and importantly for Veen. Darryn first got involved in education by the industry, there will be more engineers now developing the respected Live Sound Diploma specifying dLive consoles on their shows. As we for Alchemea college. all know, the networking and social time is such “It was a real pleasure spending Having started her own career as a live sound a big part of our business, that we will be doing time with so many engineers, engineer, and going on to work in training and more events of this type, so watch our social education in the discipline, she was on-hand media channels for further announcements!” some with extensive experience to lend her thoughts: “Soulsound got involved TPi of using dLive, others just about with dDay because I firmly believe training is Photos: a hugely important part of keeping engineers to take the plunge...” up-to-date with industry developments. Giving Andy Bell, people the confidence to use the products Allen & Heath Technical Manager they encounter in the course of their working 18


CT’S FESTIVAL OF TECHNOLOGY April saw audio visual expert Creative Technology open its doors to clients, students and the press to showcase the latest technological innovations it, and some of its partners, had to offer the live events industry. TPi was on site to get a personal tour from Graham Miller, Head of Music and Entertainment and speak to Marketing and Communications Executive, Alana Coyne.

Creative Technology’s (CT) open days have become something of an annual event, and this year the company opted to hold it at its Gatwick HQ for an event dubbed The Festival of Technology. Newcomer to the CT fold, Marketing and Communications Executive, Alana Coyne, spoke to TPi about the event: “The company have run similar open days in the past but nothing on this scale,” began Coyne. “Historically, we’ve tried to squeeze into smaller London venues with less build time and rigging capacity. This was 3/4 times the size of what we’ve done before and other industry suppliers came in to help us pull it off. We always knew it would have to be a real showstopper and making it an engaging visit was our top priority. Because of this, attendance surpassed all expectations!” The open day took place between the 24-27 April with the last day predominantly aimed at students and ILEA members. All visitors had the chance to spend time across both of CT’s sites giving them the opportunity to meet some integral members of the company and the wider NEP group team.

CT also used the open days as a chance to show some new products. “We had the opportunity to launch our new 4K Camera Systems and PPU’s which enabled us to take our clients through the ins and outs of our touring packages,” explained Coyne. “We also had a fantastic HDR (High Dynamic Range) LED display demonstration running, where we were educating our clients on the advantages and pitfalls of the new technology as well as comparing directly with standard images. We see this as the future for video technology, particularly with LED as the immediate visible improvement in the image is even greater than with smaller pixel-pitch screens.” Visitors were also introduced to CT’s new d&b audiotechnik Soundscape system, set up to demonstrate the immersive audio experience that can be controlled with the new processor. “It simply had to be seen, heard, and felt to be believed!” enthused Coyne. With the aid of the VYV support team and Photon media servers, CT surrounded a Range Rover Velar in Roe Carbon CB3 LED screens. This was to simulate a 2018 film set and showcase how LED and media server 20

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innovations are doing away with the traditional ‘green screen’ format of shooting film scenes.” Mediatec played a huge part in the open days, completely transforming the CT car park by bringing in 18sqm and 81sqm mobile LED screens. CT was also excited to be joined by group company NEP UK, who took this opportunity to showcase Aurora, 1 of 4 new 4K Outside Broadcast trucks. On the Friday, CT welcomed a group of enthusiastic students looking to gain insight into the live events industry and explore possible career opportunities at the company. The day began with an introduction by CEO, Dave Crump which was both inspiring and informative - giving the students a real-life account of what it takes to make it in such a fast-paced business. The group spent the morning learning more about the event tech on show; from creative LED and audio, to networks and broadcast. “The response was extremely positive with 40 students in attendance telling us they’d had a fantastic day,” added Coyne. “We began talking with 3 very enthusiastic students immediately about work and apprenticeship opportunities at CT and again, we’re already getting more enquiries about participation next year. “In the future, we believe this will become a key area of the open days and it will definitely be expanded upon. With this year acting as a bit of a trial-run, the overwhelming positive response has shown us that there is a lot more potential to engage with more colleges and universities going forward.

“Hosting these open days at our two large-scale warehouses not only gives us a captive audience, with experts on-hand to show them the technologies capabilities but also provides a valuable opportunity for visitors to see our operation and the large support team they get when they work with CT. This is something we just can’t achieve on a small exhibition stand and there’s no better way to show this than inviting people in to see it with their own eyes! Giving them real insight into the backup, maintenance and preparation that goes into the equipment before they receive it onsite.” Coyne concluded: “We certainly went all-out to make it a day to remember, resulting in even more industry suppliers wanting to get involved next year. The open day was an opportunity to work with CT’s key innovation partners and display the kind of technologies we’re not only currently using but also developing all the time. “On top of this, we could show our clients what potential is out there and give them some ideas for future gigs! We have teams of technicians visiting manufacturers and exhibitions all over the world to keep an eye on new products and trends and this creates the perfect opportunity to show our clients what we’re investing in, where we think the new opportunities lie and what we’re developing ourselves. We’re excited to take it up a notch in 2019 and push the boundaries even further!” TPi Photos: Creative Technology 22

|   I N S TA L L AT I O N S   |   G R O U P   |   S A L E S   |   W I G W A M   |   S I G M A P R O D U C T S   | 

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ZUM WASENWIRT TPi’s Stew Hume eagerly paid a visit to Stuttgart’s Zum Wasenwirt, for the region’s biannual beer festival, to cheers with the team from Skyeline-Live to discuss its latest TW AUDiO set up for the event. And to sample the goods, of course...

At TPi we are privileged to feed our wanderlust at incredible locations around the world; from epic festival grounds to the largest global arena tours. However, standing in the centre of Stuttgart’s Zum Wasenwirt beer hall - stein in hand - discussing audio while the band played hits from the 90s was certainly brought that into rather beer-clouded perspective. It’s a dirty job but someone has to do it. The reason for TPi’s trip over to the continent, other than the obvious draw of that golden nectar, was as guests of TW AUDiO to listen to its VERA36 - the main PA of choice for the biannual beer festival. Zum Wasenwirt rolls into town during spring and autumn every year as part of Stuttgart Cannstatter Frühlingsfest, Europe’s biggest fun fair. It had more than 1.6 million visitors this year. The beer tent is a massive draw with many of the patrons donning lederhosen and taking a stand on one of the

hundreds of benches which fill the 50m long temporary structure. TPi caught up with Jürgen Schuster from Skyeline-Live that supplied the sound system for the event. Sitting in the Hofbräu VIP Lounge he recalled where his relationship with TW AUDiO - a company he’d admired for over a decade previously - all began: Prolight+Sound 2016. “Skyeline-Live were getting booked for bigger events and I was on the hunt for new subwoofer solutions. At the time TW AUDiO were showcasing the VERA S33. I was really impressed with its cardioid system – so much so that I placed an order!” Schuster also admitted that TW AUDiO’s compatibility with Lab. gruppen amplifiers was another draw to invest. “I am actually one of the biggest dealers of Lab.gruppen in Germany so having a PA that worked so well with the system was a real bonus.” Since the purchase of the VERA system, Skyeline-Live has deployed the 24

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Below: Skyeline-Live’s Jürgen Schuster in amongst the action; Borut Gomilsek, of MBG Music Austria at the Allen & Heath dLive C3500.

PA over a selection of events to great effect. “Even on larger scale events, the system has been impeccable,” enthused Schuster. “One of the shows that stands out was with Rednex, of Cotton Eye Joe fame, and fellow 90’s band Culture Beat where we deployed a big system of 12 cabinets VERA36‘s and 20 S33’s. It sounded fantastic and the production was really happy with the result.” The success of the system meant Schuster was keen to roll it out for this year’s Spring Zum Wasenwirt, a contract he has held for many years. The stage PA consisted of 12 VERA36’s, 8 S33 subs cardioid, 2 T20’s infill, 2 T24Ns side fill and 2 M12’s as monitors. “The biggest issue we have on this site is the strict sound limits in the tent,” explained Schuster. “This made the TW AUDiO cardioid system invaluable! The PA gives us a great deal of control while still keeping clarity in the voices and instruments of the band. Throughout the performance we were able to keep the system at 33dB at the back of the hall. The system has also given a great deal more audience coverage than we have had in previous years, meaning less need to rely on our delay set up.” The main PA was configured at 28m with the first delay line coming in at 20m, giving the production a comfortable overlap of sound, and the hall a balanced audio throughout the tent. Schuster went on to describe the importance of the bass subs in the PA configuration. The nature of the Zum Wasenwirt show is very participatory - audiences are encouraged to jump on benches and stomp and clap along with the music. “I was adamant from the beginning to have 8 S33’s. However, space was tight with all the subs located under the stage. The

event organisers didn’t think we would have enough stage width to deal with the request. However, with some back and forth on logistics we made them fit.” But with his eye on the autumn event, Schuster hopes his base set up will be even bigger. Skyeline-Live made use of its Lab.gruppen stock with 5 PLM 12K44’s with 1 D80:4L. “The D80 is usually more of an install product but it has worked really well on this rig,” stated Schuster. “All the amps are connected via Ethernet and we have used a Lake controller which gives us control of the whole rig on one surface.” Finally for control the production opted for an Allen & Heath dLive C3500. To close, Schuster gave his thoughts on the event. “I’ve been really impressed by the TW AUDiO set up. It makes me even more confident in my decision to make the project a complete TW set up throughout the tent.” He added praise from Borut Gomilsek, of MBG Music Austria, who handled speaker configuration and FOH duties throughout the week and was also very happy with the system. With the almost inaudible audio conversations taken care of, Schuster walked TPi back inside to enjoy the musical stylings of the Die Grafenberger Partyband - and to do some further research into the region’s local beverages… Prost! TPi Photos: TPi and Alexander Hoffmann 26


EUROVISION SONG CONTEST 2018 The Eurovision Song Contest 2018 steamed into Lisbon at the start of April and took up residence in the east of the city for around 6 weeks. When it comes to live productions, it stands alone in its own special genre. Michael Nicholson travelled to Portugal to catch up with the people who make it happen.

Lisbon, oh beautiful Lisbon. Full of life and colour. Streets awash with history and culture. A melting pot of faces from all around the world. And that was before Eurovision rolled into town and ramped things up tenfold. There isn’t anything quite like Eurovision, is there? It’s epic in every possible way - from the estimated 200 million TV viewers, over 12,000 audience members for each show, and 43 countries, to the security operation at the Altice Arena, 2 televised semi-finals and 1 grand final, and the mammoth production effort that transformed the venue into a massive international TV studio. Co-Head of Production / Technical Director, Ola Melzig, who partnered with Tobias Åberg to manage the production elements, has been working with Eurovision since the turn of the century. “This was my 14th Eurovision production since starting back in 2000,” said Melzig. “I started with this project in August last year - since we were allowed to spend so much time with the project, we could work extremely nationally, coaching and teaching our colleagues when to do what and how to do it. “I’m enormously proud about the result we managed to achieve, and about the team. We brought in a couple of key positions from the international market, and several of the suppliers came from abroad. But the heart and soul of the production was extremely Portuguese, which was great since they are awesome people to work with - funny, warm, passionate, generous, mad as bats, and of course never on time!” The technical infrastructure was steered by Stage Designer Florian Wieder’s vision, which he explained in the months beforehand: “The rich history of the Portuguese as a maritime nation reflects, without any boundaries, all of the values that make the Eurovision Song Contest unique today. Portugal and especially Lisbon are historic melting pots enriched by

the impressions of newly discovered cultures that were brought back to the home port. This is mainly due to the Portuguese sailor men, who travelled the seas with courage and outstanding skills of navigation. “The 2018 Eurovision Song Contest will take you on an expedition through many different cultures in Europe and around the world. A journey through the high seas of music that pursues to discover, connect and ultimately unite the nations. Portugal stands for bringing together countries and their cultures. In 2018 Portugal will unite the music of Europe. With this Eurovision Song Contest stage, Portugal will be the navigator and compass again.” The biggest technological change to the stage design this year was the omission of an LED backdrop. Discussing the change, Melzig explained: “There was really no new story we could tell, so this was a creative decision that we made early on. Sure, we could put up a big-ass LED wall as we always do and show low res bananas and butterflies on it, but what would be the point? Generic graphics are absolutely awful, and it adds nothing to a performance. “As last year’s winner Salvador Sobral said: ‘Music is not fireworks’. The dynamics, the depth and the contrast in all our shots were out of this world, simply because there was no LED wall washing it all out. Sure, it was a bold decision, but it was the right one. And it will continue to be the right one as long as there is no development from the manufacturer side. I mean, how sexy is a 50 x 50cm LED tile? And exactly how creative can you be with it? “We did allow delegations to use video in their performances if they presented a cool and innovative enough idea. We supplied all the bits and pieces, but it was at their own cost. And, then, all of a sudden it makes sense to use video, because then it had a purpose, it was custom-made for those 3 minutes of music, and it added a value to the performance.” 29


SIGHT AND SAFETY grid to a new position before we went in with all that structural equipment. Though video and LED played a role, this was - without doubt - the year of “Eurovision is considered to be a high-risk situation, so the local police dynamic lighting. had to search all of the equipment that we were bringing in, so we had to Ampco Flashlight has been involved in Eurovision for a number of years, take that into account. For example, we couldn’t get 8 trucks there at one but this was the first time that the company has been the main contractor time, so the other trucks had to stay at the wait location until the previous for the lighting, rigging, motion control and video. Working with its partner one was completed. All the boxes went through a search when they went in. in Portugal, Pixel Light, and coordinating stock from various partners The total load-in time was about 2.5 weeks.” around Europe, the Dutch operation supplied a huge amount of equipment. Ampco Flashlight’s rigging team, led by Gerrit de Beuze, moved in to The combination of Ampco Flashlight’s international experience and Pixel install the required show rigging provision. Production Head Rigger, BigRig Light’s local professional knowledge proved a winning combination for Rental’s Johannes Schau, explained: “The roof of the Altice Arena, which a selection committee formed by Portuguese was built for the Expo in 1998, is made out of national broadcaster RTP and the European timber. The complex roof structure is supported Broadcasting Union (EBU). by 16 arches. Each arch has a different clearance. “The size of the show is 4 or 5 times that of a big Therefore, not a single point which was outside of rock show,” explained Ampco Flashlight’s Project the existing venue grid was the same. Looking at “The challenge comes with Director, Marc van der Wel. “There are about it from the structural point of view, the roof has a the simple purpose of rigging, 50-odd trailers, maybe more, with equipment decent load bearing capacity, which is absolutely going there. We had a lot of equipment going there mandatory for a production like this. An additional which is to allow the different from our base in Utrecht. We also had equipment ground support was never an option due to the technical departments to coming from other sites in Europe, so we put in visual impact of the towers on the stage design.” a logistics manager to oversee all of that. We set Discussing the extent of the equipment that fly the equipment in exactly up testing procedures at all the locations that the would be flown in the venue, Schau added: “The the position where they will equipment was coming from. Despite its scale, it challenge is not the amount of equipment itself. was a very smooth process.” The challenge comes with the simple purpose of achieve the best result. This Once in Lisbon, van der Wel and his team rigging, which is to allow the different technical combined with a limited roof began to address the epic task of firstly getting departments to fly the equipment in exactly the all of the equipment into the venue and then into position where they will achieve the best result. capacity is what makes the position. This combined with a limited roof capacity is what process of designing the rig for makes the process of designing the rig for the “We started to travel 1 week before the load-in date, which was 4 April. Before the load-in, we also Eurovision exciting.” the Eurovision exciting.” had the job of getting the main Stageco grid in Due to the size of production, there were more Production Head Rigger, the building 5m higher. The local rigging crew, Evil people involved than usual. “Communication, Angels, used a bunch of motors from us to get the including through technical drawings, was once BigRig Rental’s Johannes Schau 30



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Co-Heads of Production, Tobias Åberg and Ola Melzig.

more key to success,” said Schau. “From the rigging perspective, the choreographed moving trusses - flown with 46 CyberHoist II motion control biggest difference to other productions is the amount of flown equipment motors - and beat perfect camera work, ensured each country’s story was and thus the total weight that needs to be supported by the venue roof. told with a refreshing depth and sensitivity. This year we had a total of almost 220 tonnes. With a mission to revive the emotion of the performances using lighting, “In order to ensure safety at all times, we deployed a total of 177 Appelt demanded a versatile fixture that would offer maximum choice: “I wireless load cells in the main grid, the backwall and the stage design was looking to create dimension, not just from my fixture positioning but elements. This might have been the biggest number of load cells deployed also from the feature set of each fixture itself,” he revealed. “I also wanted for a TV production. Ampco Flashlight commissioned BigRig Rental’s Broad consistency of output and colour across every part of the stage, so I chose Weigh wireless load cells. During the last few years we have drastically to use a number of the multipurpose fixtures from the Claypaky range increased the usage of load cells as the total primarily the Claypaky Scenius Unico, the new weight of productions seems to constantly Claypaky Hepikos and the Claypaky Mythos 2.” increase and high loads, for example video walls Appelt used the Hepikos to project dramatic are concentrated in a small area. If you want to be aerial beams and stunning colour effects from the safe, there is no way around it.” huge arching trusses above the stage, bringing “All the fixtures are camera With the equipment security-checked and another layer of drama to the wider camera shots. friendly and their relative the pre-rigging complete, Jerry Appelt’s lighting He said: “The Hepikos is a super-bright beam-wash design could finally take shape. This design is the fixture that produces piercing, intense beams. It’s compact size and low biggest in Eurovision history - employing over hybrid fixture, which gives me equally effective operating power consumption a‘beam’ 2,400 active lighting fixtures. Claypaky had the and ‘wash’ lights in one fixture. Its primary largest representation of any manufacturer, with use was to frame the huge curved trusses above keeps costs down. This is 807 fixtures. Together with the 50 ADB Klemantis the stage with aerial beams. In addition, I used crucial on a show that can asymmetric cyc LED fixtures, it made for an the interchangeable rotating prism to break the impressive showing from the manufacturers’ light beam up into several dynamic projections, run lighting for up to 18 hours parent company and official Eurovision lighting bringing further dimension to the overall picture.” a day, every day, for over partner, Osram. Melzig added: “The Hepikos’ offers top-notch Appelt’s positioning and programming of the performance and unswerving colour matching a month of rehearsals and Claypaky fixtures shaped the various layers and with the other products we are using from the broadcasts.” areas of the set to deliver a succession of evocative Claypaky range. All the fixtures are camera friendly Co-Head of Production, Ola Melzig lighting looks. This, combined with carefully and their relative compact size and low operating 32

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power consumption keeps costs down. This is crucial on a show that can run camera shots,” said Appelt. lighting for up to 18 hours a day, every day, for over a month of rehearsals and Van der Wel added: “The MagicPanel-FX wall was used very subtly with broadcasts.” no temptation to blast the audience with their full power. Jerry used them in The Claypaky Axcor 900 range of LED fixtures were also important, a way which was appropriate to each act, with maximum effect delivering a explained Appelt: “I’m using these fixtures for the all-important performer key totally different look for each performance. light and as a supplement to the followspots. The Axcor 900 is ideal as a key “On some numbers a scrim was dropped in between the wall and the light, but it is also an additional tool in my creative artist, and the depth effect from a combination of arsenal as the ability to project and shape the beam the MagicPanel-FX and the LED strips on the wooden means I can use the fixtures for other purposes as ribs was amazing. It goes to show the quality of the well.” lighting designer and what these fixtures can do in Appelt highlighted his mainstay fixture: “The the hands of an artist like Jerry.” Scenius Unico is one of my favourite solutions Also embedded in the back wall - interspersed “The MagicPanel-FX wall because of its reliability and versatility - it can be a among the MagicPanel-FX - were 64 Ayrton Mistral-TC spot, a wash or a beam light. It’s also high output and LED spot fixtures, which were used to create powerful was used very subtly with relatively compact in size and weight, which makes it rays of light that emerged from the deep end of the no temptation to blast the ideal when we need to use so many fixtures.” stage through the entire arena. “This was the most At a count of 713, Ayrton fixtures also figured surprising and convincing fixture onsite for me,” audience with their full heavily in Appelt’s design. The aesthetic surrounding commented Appelt. “I would have never expected power. Jerry used them in a the deep circular stage of Florian Wieder’s set relied such a relatively small-looking, light LED spotlight upon the 3-dimensional interplay between strong to have such a convincing output and vast range of way which was appropriate backlighting, a series of flowing wooden vertical ribs features. Even the quality of light is second to none.” to each act, with maximum and a back wall of 351 Ayrton MagicPanel-FX fixtures A total of 96 Ayrton MiniPanel-FX units - a rigged on a custom-built aluminium wall. miniaturised 2x2 configuration of the MagicPanel-FXs effect delivering a totally Ampco Flashlight installed the wall with were embedded in 2 rows around the sloping front different look for each millimetre accuracy, using laser guidance precision to fascia of the main stage facing the audience. “The position each of the MagicPanel-FX fixtures to ensure MiniPanel-FX were just the right size for this and gave performance.” perfect symmetry. “We were able to make some great a beautiful effect,” said van der Wel. Marc van der Wel looks with the MagicPanel-FX, which were key to the Out in the auditorium, the balcony fronts above architecture of the design and added great depth to the audience were rigged with 112 Ayrton Ghibli Ampco Flashlight 34


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luminaires which were used for key lighting. Ghibli is Ayrton’s first LED hybrid strobes. “With the JDC1 we were able to perform several tasks with spot luminaire that is factory-equipped with a 100% framing system. It is one lamp,” said Appelt. “On the one hand there is the crisp white of the calibrated at 7,500K and delivers 23,000 lumen output with high TMI30/CRI strobe tube and on the other the colour surfaces, which can be animated in readings and a fantastic 7°-56° beam spread. Then there were 30 Ayrton segments. Depending on the situation, we were also able to colour the hall MagicDotSX fixtures outlined the outer edges of the circular downstage ceiling or the audience.” catwalks and were introduced to increase the dynamic with mid-air effects. More than 250 of GLP’s powerful impression X4 L were also used, mainly An additional 60 Ayrton NandoBeam S6 fixtures were used in 3 lines for for public lighting and in the Green Room. For Appelt, the impression X4 L backlighting the audience in the infield. “With such a high output these LED was the first choice, “because these lamps have enough power to be used washlights were perfect for the higher truss-trim in that area,” commented in halls of this size.” Head of Lighting, Matthias Rau. “The wide zoom spread meant we could The lighting design also featured 17 Robe RoboSpot Base Stations, transition from beam effects to a nice wash using the same luminaires.” used for 22 individual followspot lights, which controlled the tracking Robe Appelt’s design included more than 500 BMFL fixtures - providing a comprehensive remote GLP Lighting fixtures, some of which helped to followspotting solution. form the 8 rings, set within truss circles over the The RoboSpots, each with individual audience area, which also featured GLP’s KVN MotionCameras, were a mix of BMFL Blades and “With the GLP JDC1 we were Arc Modules for the first time on TV worldwide. BMFL WashBeams. They were positioned around Described by Melzig as: “The most secret light in a variety of overhead vantage points, which able to perform several tasks the world,” while also recognising how powerful meant Appelt was not restricted to using one set with one lamp. On the one these modules are: “They’re damn bright,” he said, of followspots in a specific location or direction describing his first impression. “It’s best to put on to highlight every performer in every shot. With hand there is the crisp white the sunglasses before these things come on.” the Robe system, he could mix and match the of the strobe tube and on the The KNV is a modular LED system and available followspots to get this essential element combines strobe, blinder and pixel block. There precise and exactly to his liking and for what other the colour surfaces, are 2 basic shapes, the cube-shaped KNV Cube worked best on camera and onstage. which can be animated in and the KNV Arc in the shape of a quarter circle. BMFL Blades were rigged to one of the front GLP Product Manager, Michael Feldmann, trusses with 2 more single fixtures on side trusses segments. Depending on the revealed: “Originally, Jerry Appelt brought the left and right of the stage. BMFL Blades with a situation, we were also able idea of modular strobing to GLP, and our CEO, Udo MotionCamera per pair of fixtures, were positioned Künzler, immediately put the entire team at our to colour the hall ceiling or the on an upstage truss and used for rear following, newly formed Danish development department on highlighting and silhouetting. 2 more single BMFL audience.” the project. The result was there for all to see.” WashBeams were rigged on trusses right at the far Lighting Designer, Jerry Appelt Other GLP fixtures on show included 262 JDC1 end of the arena and used for long throw shots and 36

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presenter pick-ups. SOUND FOR SONGS Another 2 paired sets - a BMFL WashBeam and a BMFL Blade running The audio infrastructure for Eurovision 2018 was supplied by Auditiv. The with one MotionCamera each - were located over the stage and used for company’s Daniel Bekerman, who was Head of Sound for the live shows, spotting people, interviews and other activities happening in the Green configured the huge L-Acoustics line-array system, which featured flown Room, which was located at the rear of the standing audience area. arrays of K2 cabinets (120 in total) and KS8 subs (32 in total). In addition to Cutaways showing the tension and emotions building in the Green Room that, there were 30 KARA cabinets, four KIVA II cabinets, 18 12XT speakers are a fundamental element of the Eurovision drama and TV coverage, so and six X8 speakers. Amplification came from 104 LA8 and 12 LA12 amps, spotting this area properly is as crucial as ensuring the performers onstage with processing handled by 15 XTA DS800s. are properly lit. Commenting on the PA system, Bekerman said: The 17 RoboSpot BaseStations were located in “The assembly we did with 18 arrays distributed a designated backstage area, so the operators had around the arena and an ‘end fire’ sub bass system no direct view of the stage. Robe Deutschland’s proved to be very effective. The 32-way signal Martin Opitz was the RoboSpot systems engineer distribution allowed independent control of the and co-ordinated the training and technical various areas of the arena.” support. His first task on arrival in Lisbon a few Bekerman points out that reliability, flexibility “The idea was to build a weeks ahead of the final was to train up 17 locally and redundancy were at the heart of the audio solid system that gave all the based operators to work the RoboSpots. set-up. “The idea was to build a solid system that The lighting arsenal was completed by 68 Varigave all the guarantees of operation but at the guarantees of operation but Lite VL 4000 Wash Beams, 32 Philips Show Line SL same time had few points of failure,” he explained. at the same time had few 720 ZTs, 20 SGM P-2 Wash Lights, 89 SGM P-5 Wash “And, at the same time, create several possible Lights and 21 SGM P-10 LED Luminaires. workflows so that in the shortest possible time we points of failure. And, at the Lighting and video control was handled by could solve any technical malfunction.” same time, create several 3 MA Lighting grandMA2 sessions ran using 10 This was made possible by the DiGiCo grandMA2 full size consoles (5 active and 5 backconsoles, which were set-up in 2 fully-redundant possible workflows so that up), four grandMA2 light (2 for video and 2 for tech loops and as standalone systems. There were 13 in the shortest possible time operators), 39 grandMA2 NPUs, 3 grandMA2 VPU DiGiCo consoles onsite - 5 SD7’s, 2 SD10’s, 1 SD12 MkIIs, 2 Green Hippo Hippotizer Boreal+ Media and 5 SD11’s. The consoles were supplemented we could solve any technical Servers and 16 ELC GBX-8 port nodes, on a 10 GBE by DiGiCo SD-Racks, Optocore DD4’s and DD2’s, malfunction.” redundant network, with a total of 150,000 DMX Radial OX8-js, Radial SW8’s and Directout Head of Sound, Daniel Bekerman parameters and 326 universes. Technologies convertors. 38


The viewing rooms and some other peripheral areas were kitted out with Genelec 8030, 8330 and 7350 speakers. As an Official Technical Supplier, Sennheiser - working with its local partner Magnelusa - supplied Digital 6000 wireless microphones and 2000 series wireless monitors. Through the 2 semi-finals and the final, artists from all 43 participating nations relied on Digital 6000 microphones - using either SKM 6000 handhelds with MD 9235 dynamic capsules or SK 6000 bodypacks with Sennheiser custom headmics. For wireless monitoring, rack-mounted SR 2050 IEM 2-channel transmitters sent their signals via A 5000-CP circularly polarised antennas to the artists’ EK 2000 IEM bodypack receivers. A large number of bodypacks ensures that all artist groups and the technical crew was provided with high-quality audio signals. Volker Schmitt, Director Customer Development & Application Engineering at Sennheiser, and his team were onsite to provide technical support for the wireless systems. For backstage communications, the new Command function of the 6000 series was used to enable the technical team to establish talkback links. For this, the crew used special SKM 9000 COM handheld transmitters or SK 6000 bodypack transmitters that have been Command-enabled via the KA 9000 COM Command switch. Digital 6000 microphones were also used in the press centre, where conferences and Q&A sessions made use of EM 6000 receivers and SKM 6000 handhelds with Neumann cardioid KK 204 condenser microphone heads. Bekerman was keen to recognise the endeavours of those who supported him: “Firstly, the team that had a brilliant performance - always attentive to the details and always trying to improve



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performance. Our suppliers - Agorá and Sennheiser - were always available to help us. “Being involved in Eurovision was very important because Auditiv’s mission is quality and constant innovation in sound techniques. We enjoyed having the opportunity to share experiences and knowledge with other teams - to make it known what Auditiv is capable of.” Agorá’s Technical Director, Domenico Cerqua, added: “It was a huge pleasure for my company to work in this project. We found in Lisbon - in the Auditiv members and other providers - great professionalism, constructive complicity and friendship. This was another wonderful experience - we are proud.” COMMS For the 13th consecutive year, Riedel Communications supplied a huge, all-fibre communications and signal distribution system for Eurovision. Riedel’s MediorNet real-time media network provided redundant and decentralised signal routing and transport from start to finish. Through tight integration with MediorNet, Riedel’s Artist digital matrix intercom system and Bolero wireless intercom provided comprehensive and reliable communications for crew and performers. The company also supplied the signal and communications backbone for Videohouse, which produced the show’s world feed on behalf of EBU and Portugal’s public broadcasting company, RTP. For the first time at the Eurovision, Riedel deployed a complete solution based on Session

Initiation Protocol (SIP) to support commentary booths for almost 30 countries covering the contest for their local audiences. Anchored by four Artist 64 intercom mainframes and 40 Artist CCP-1116 commentary panels, the system used Cymatic Audio’s uTrack24 devices, loaded with Angelbird SSD hard drives, to manage line IDs for the commentary booths. In addition, Riedel provided an access control system designed to simplify guest and crew entry into the arena, boost security, and provide efficient visitor management. The system required personnel to pass through turnstiles where their accreditation cards, embedded with RFID chips, were swiped with stationary or wireless reading devices, and the RFID data was matched to an online database. Riedel once again worked with partner TPO to provide a comprehensive IT and infrastructure, including all switches, servers, 170 wireless access points, for up to 2,000 journalists in the “Being involved in Eurovision press centre and a comprehensive cyber security was very important because package.

Auditiv’s mission is quality and constant innovation in sound techniques. We enjoyed having the opportunity to share experiences and knowledge with other teams to make it known what Auditiv is capable of.” Head of Sound, Daniel Bekerman 40

SPECIAL FEATURES Production Video Coordinator Hans Cromheecke handled all of the individual requests for LED and video. “Only dealing with the video props meant that all requests and needs from the delegations came late - very late. It was only after the ‘Look and Feel’ meeting in March that we had the basic idea of who wanted projection or LED for their performance. We then had less than three weeks to design, cost and get approval from the delegations - a job that you would normally do in 3 months.”


Though there was no LED backdrop as part of the main stage set-up, LED elements featured. Certain set items were highlighted using LED products like ROE Visual Carbon CB3 panels, ROE Visual LED strips and 3.6 km LED Strip Studio LED single pixel RGB strip in set boxes, commissioned by Ampco Flashlight and local partner Pixel Light and supported by Faber Audiovisuals. ROE Visual LED Strips played a central role in the Swedish entry, Dance You Off, performed by Benjamin Ingrosso. Dancing against a background of ROE Visual LED strips - fitted with a black diffusor - they created a very dynamic effect in only a limited floor space. The special black diffusor on the LED Strips meant they could blend into the background when not in use, while the slim and lightweight structure allowed creative stage design in multiple set-ups. 7 Panasonic RZ31K 31k laser projectors were used to project pixel mapping onto set pieces. Estonia’s 8m diameter dress was projected onto with a sea of mesmerising content. The projectors were used to fill the inflatable screen behind the German entry. They were also used during the Russian performance. The Panasonic projectors were rigged between the lighting truss, on individual trusses. They were controlled using Green Hippo Hippotizer Boreal+ media servers, which were operated by Nick Charalampidi. A pair of Barco HDX W20 Flex 20k projectors were used for Belgium’s performance. LED solutions and bespoke installation provider, Light Initiative designed and manufactured a custom-built LED scenic element for the UK entry, SuRie, with her song Storm. Light Initiative worked with long-term client, Creative Show Director Dan Shipton of Black Skull Creative on a series of 18 video-

Ampco Flashlight Project Manager, Marc van der Wel.



Ampco Flashlight Chief Rigger, Gerrit de Beuze with Senior Tech, Henk-Jan Blok.

mapped LED chevrons that created the perspective guiding ‘corridor’ of on site by Mateo Marastoni working alongside Robert Roos who was the light in which the artist performed. It appeared as a flat video visual from production’s props and special staging co-ordinator. the front, then stretched out to show depth and distance when viewed from the side. POWER AND PYRO “Because of the highly bespoke nature of the set design for the UK entry, One TP06 lift was positioned centrally beneath the stage and surrounded it could only be built with the specific LED products that Light Initiative by the other 3, all of them supporting a trussing structure with a 6m could provide and not with off-the-shelf pieces,” said Shipton. “Light triangular section of decking on top. This top section split in 2 - donut style Initiative worked with the Eurovision Song Contest production directly to - with a central cut out that could elevate independently on the middle lift. ensure that the product could be delivered within their specifications and Portman Custom Lights P1 Retro Lamps were used during the protocols. The Light Initiative team have been amazing at working that all performances by Greece and San Marino, while the company’s P3 PIX3L through and taking those worries away from me and the BBC.” fixtures helped to light the Dutch performance. The company, which Joe Ratcliffe, Light Initiative’s Build Technician, was on site throughout, has only been in business for 20-months, rightly view their inclusion in supervising delivery and installation of the fixtures. The video map, Eurovision as a notable success. provided by Light Initiative, was installed onto the The pyrotechnics and special effects were Green Hippo Hippotizer media servers in order to designed by Vitor Machado and supplied by play the custom video content. Portuguese company Luso Pirotecnia Group. The LED chevrons were created using nine None of these myriad production elements pairs of purpose-built steel chevrons in which LI would have come alive without the reliable integrated its popular BeamLED and StealthLED power coming from The Powershop’s ‘generator “I would like to say thank products. Each chevron had its own distinct farm’. It featured 7 of the company’s twin 400kVA you to all our crew, suppliers video-mapped content, designed and provided generators (making 14 in total), putting out around by NorthHouse, and emitted in three different 5 MW of electricity per day. Ten of these units and all our Official Technical directions: forward, inward and outward. were dedicated to lights and four were assigned Partners for their passion, Special stage technologies were also utilised to sound, video and broadcast. All of the engines by individual performances. WIcreations supplied ran at half capacity at all times. If there was any their precise delivery, and 4 of its heavy duty TP06 stage elevators. They failure in any of them, the load was automatically their will not to fail or fall were installed under the stage, and were used for distributed evenly among the remaining 2 of the 43 finalists - Austria’s third placed Cesár generators. behind - always with a smile Sampson and Belarus contestant, Alekseev. The The production used 37.85km of high voltage on their faces - amazing!” project was designed and co-ordinated for WI cable, 29km of single core cable power lock, 4.3km by Geert Stockmans and tech’d and looked after of multicore cable and 4km of earth cable. Co-Head of Production, Ola Melzig 42


Jan De Meyer, CEO of The Powershop, commented: “The system is designed in such a way that only 10 trucks are needed to transport the whole package - this compressed package puts less pressure on the environment. We then reduced the impact further by sending the equipment to Lisbon by sea. “Special care was also given to fuel consumption. Approximately 180,000 litres of fuel were used, which is over 25% less than previous editions. Power management and intelligent operation of the generator plant helps to achieve these fuel savings. Our on site crew of 5 kept a careful eye on the whole installation, so that all the equipment stayed in perfect condition during the whole production period.” Reflecting on Eurovision 2018, Ola Melzig said: “First of all, my CoHead of Production, Tobias Åberg - we form an amazing team and it’s a joy working with him. I also owe our Technical Director for Broadcast Tarmo Krimm and our Technical Manager for show Nuno van Grichen a big thank you. And, of course, all the wonderful people at RTP who invited us to this joyride in the first place. I would also like to say thank you to all our crew, suppliers and all our Official Technical Partners for their passion, their precise delivery, and their will not to fail or fall behind - always with a smile on their faces - amazing!” Marc van der Wel said: “It was a pleasure for our technical team to work with this lighting design and production team to such required standards. They put the bar high and we were happy to meet it. When you have to find solutions sometimes that are maybe crossing the possibilities of the equipment, you always want to find a solution that works well, that is safe and that reaches the highest possible standards. “It was the largest Eurovision rig ever, more than 20% lights than last year. The change to not using video, was a challenge but also very enjoyable to do. We were the biggest supplier of the show, which comes with a lot of responsibility. It was a big honour, of course.” TPi Photos: Ralph Larmann



BLOSSOMS Formed in 2013, Blossoms - comprising band members Tom Ogden (lead vocals, guitar), Charlie Salt (bass, synthesizer, BV), Josh Dewhurst (lead guitar, percussion), Joe Donovan (drums) and Myles Kellock (keyboards, synthesizer, backing vocals) - have come a long way quickly. Their relative inexperience as a group attracted a crew, which could grow with them. TPi hears a story of how team Blossoms came into bloom.



Adlib’s Jay Petch, PA Rigger and Sound Tech; dbnAudile’s Dale Wilson; Tour Manager, Dan Woolfie; Lighting Designer, Edd Croft; dbnAudile & Mangata Collective’s Chris ‘Pip’ Phillips; Production Manager John Simm; Backline Tech, Bob Munro; FOH Engineer, Chris Pearce; Adlib’s Alan Harrison, FOH System Tech; Monitor Engineer, Callum Bate.

Being thrown into the global touring circuit in the early days of your career is said to either break or bond a band. After releasing their debut, self-titled record, the band gained attention on radio playlists, festival lineups and undertook a headline tour that was met with approval from the public and the industry. Just over 2 years since the story began to take shape, the quintet are back with their biggest production to date and a penchant for carving their own path. On the cusp of their headline tour in support of the sophomore album, Cool Like You, TPi ventured behind the scenes in their [and our] hometown of Stockport. Tour Manager, Dan Woolfie picked up the story: “I fell into tour management when I working with Blossoms as their drum & guitar tech. Gradually, the job evolved through necessity. The learning curve has been really steep in certain parts, others were just a case of using common sense. “Our first full international run was a pretty big challenge; we had a lot of travel visas to acquire in 2016 and a lot of long-haul flights to make. Some of the routing looked impossible on paper: Melbourne on Thursday, Kendal Calling festival in the UK on Friday. Having said that, as a tour manager, I’ve found that my biggest challenge is usually the hometown show guest list,” he laughed. The initial learning curve may have been steep, but it didn’t go unnoticed by Woolfie’s peers, and after such a short time in the role saw his name in the TPi Awards 2018 shortlist. “It was really nice to be nominated alongside some huge names in the industry, and our guitar tech Bob Munro was shortlisted this year too, which was another nice nod of recognition for our team. The awards night itself was great; I bumped into so many people that I’ve been emailing for the last couple of years and finally got to put a face to the name.” It’s evident when sat with this crew that they’re all bound together with

camaraderie and mutual respect. Woolfie explained the significance of this acknowledgement: “We didn’t really want someone on our tour bus who had been touring for years, seen it all a million times and become a bit jaded; we needed to all be in the same mindset. Blossoms have had some amazing support slots which have been great for us as the crew because we’ve all been able to learn from the best crews out there.” The band, affectionately referred to as workaholics [during their time off, they recently set up their own label, Very Clever Records, and brought new signing Fuzzy Sun out with them as the tour opener], worked extremely hard on their second album, which for Woolfie meant one thing. “The new live production had to do it justice. Blossoms are known for their live gigs looking and sounding great, so we had to go bigger and better for this tour. I think Edd [Croft, LD] has put together a really impressive & clean-looking rig that reflects the feel of the new album perfectly.” To begin the tour, it was decided that the band’s hometown of Stockport [fun fact: they’re named after The Blossoms pub situated just down the road from TPi HQ] would host the first dates. In an old northern English mill town, the venue choice was limited, but not impossible, as the TM explained. “Stockport Plaza is an amazing Art Deco theatre [originally built as a cinema, which opened in 1932] that has been saved, and is now run, by volunteers. We played here in 2016 at midnight for the first album launch, and this year, for the second album, we started the tour with 3 shows in 48 hours, including a matinee performance. There were a couple of risks in using this venue, as they’re trying to keep it in its original state where possible. For example, the weather is really hot - for Stockport! - but when I asked if they could turn the AC on the answer was: “They didn’t have air con in the 1920’s!” Modern? No. Full of charm? Yes. There’s something about this venue that suits the production perfectly. When the band began to require tour 46

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support, the decision-making when it came to vendors was an important one, and when starting out in a duel tour / production role - due to the initial size of the gigs and the speed at which things were happening - the baptism of fire began for Woolfie. He continued: “The companies we work with, such as Rock-It Cargo, Adlib, dbnAudile, Vans For Bands, Fly By Nite, The Appointment Group [TAG], and even endorsees like Fender Guitars, British Drum Co & Shure, all saw that we were a new crew undertaking some new challenges. They each wanted to get on board & work with us, and it was great of them to help us out at such an early stage,” he claimed, almost still shocked that it happened. “A lot of other companies didn’t want to know us.” Now the band are a lot bigger, having solidified important relationships early on means the TM is just a phone call away from direct help. Adlib Client Manager, Phil Kielty, told TPi how and why the rental house introduced itself. “Adlib first came across Blossoms at T in the Park festival where they played the stage we were working on. They blew everyone away, & we’ve been with them ever since! They’ve gigged all over the world now, but for me personally, the Stockport Plaza and Manchester Apollo shows, the crazy hometown gigs, were really enjoyable. They’ve written some anthems and are really ‘untouched’ by the business; they’re just excited to get on a stage & play; it’s so refreshing to see. “Like any good act, you need an amazing team around you to properly succeed. They have great management, and a brilliant young & passionate production team who want to create the perfect show every night.” dbnAudile Account Manager, Nick Walton, also spoke of how the band became a client: “We saw a great performance at Festival No 6. As as we’re always keen to help out new, local talent, we noticed Blossoms as they showed such promise. When they played at Manchester’s Albert Hall soon after - a venue we provide the house rig to, as well as additional lighting requirements - this was the start of our relationship. Both Chris ‘Pip’ Phillips,

the tour’s Lighting Tech, and Edd Croft, LD, have worked with them ever since. “Edd’s actually been an employee of dbn, now dbnAudile, for over 7 years and has made quick progress through the warehouse and out on festivals and tours. He’s shown huge dedication to the craft of lighting design and operating, and his skills have been a massive asset to us.” PRODUCTION PALS Like Woolfie, Production Manager John Simm also accidentally ended up in his job role: “I became a backline tech and production manager by accident in 2016,” he stated, noting his own ‘accident’ came following a phone call from Woolfie. “He asked if I could drive the band to a small festival, which I did, but I also started doing backline the day I got there. Suddenly, things snowballed almost uncontrollably. As I work as a drummer and audio engineer, I already had a few of the skills I needed to production manage, but I essentially only got involved as their PM because they needed one. “At the Stockport shows we were carrying PA and lighting packages, which involved 3 trucks and a bus, into a single loading bay. The load-in and out were interesting as they involved a downward sloping corridor between the venue’s beautiful old theatre walls and priceless seating, and a rickety old open lift onto the stage that could only hold a few flight cases at a time!” SHOW DESIGN Lighting Designer & Operator, Edd Croft recalled meeting the band: “They had a headline show booked in at the Albert Hall and asked if dbnAudile could provide a floor package for a couple of shows,” he stated. “I got along with the team really well, and they liked what I did, so I’ve carried on working with Blossoms since.” Along with some fellow dbnAudile colleagues Chris ‘Pip’ Phillips [Blossoms Lighting Tech], and [TPi Awards shortlisted] James Shaw, Croft has since started Mangata Collective, a collaboration between creative designers. 48


He continued: “Blossoms are great to design for, they’re very open to my suggestions. I discussed wanting to make the stage more of a set than it had been in their previous shows, and develop something appropriate for their new synth-pop songs, yet still be relevant for their moodier, debut album tracks. I aimed to create a space for them to play within, but for it to also remain sharp and uncluttered. The use of a video element through the Martin Sceptron fixtures played a big part in this. It allowed us to go from sharp, solid colour lines to softer effects, depending on the content. “I opted to control the Sceptron using video content rather than DMX and chose Resolume software triggered by my MA Lighting grandMA2 console. I also have a fader wing in a custom flight case that I use on all of the shows, and a second as a back-up,” he said. The floor package comprised 77 x 1m and 16 x 320mm Sceptrons for the lines of LED. “Initially, I planned to create these with LED tape, however, Sceptron was suggested by dbnAudile as an easier way of achieving the look.” Additionally, 10 Claypaky A.leda B-EYE K10’s were positioned as back wash along the bottom of the frames of Sceptron. “I’m a fan of the colours and the pixel effects allow for an extra dimension,” he said of the prominent fixture. “A further 5 x Claypaky Stormys were positioned on the frames for strobes as I wanted to be able to have the option of coloured strobes rather than just white. On the floor, I chose 6 Claypaky Mythos for their versatility and I use them for everything from tight beams to super wide gobos.” The floor package was completed by 10 Chauvet Professional Colorado Solo 3’s for side light. And 5 4 x 1 blinders, each behind each band member.” The flown fixtures were 18 Claypaky A.leda B-EYE K10’s for front, back and mid wash, 9 Robe Mega Pointes (13 at the Manchester Apollo show)

for spots which impressed according to Croft, 8 Claypaky Stormys 4 2 x 2 blinders, 9 2 x 1 blinders and 5 Claypaky QWO for further front light. Croft concluded: “The tour was a really good experience; I’ve had really positive feedback and I’m excited to continue using this design throughout the festival season. It worked really well - from the biggest to the smallest venues we played in. Although I’d been involved in some big shows from my time at dbnAudile, this is the biggest project I’ve taken on under the Mangata Collective brand while using kit from dbnAudile. I’m really pleased we could step up the production and create what we did here.” The team from dbnAudile was competed by Dale Wilson and Paul Crompton. MONITORING In monitor world, Callum Bate is the man with the mixing expertise. After attending Manchester’s SSR [School of Sound Recording], it was his goal to become a touring sound engineer. “I met the band whilst touring as a FOH Engineer with Viola Beach [RIP], which were my first client while I was still at university,” he explained. Having been in the Blossoms camp for over 2 years now, Bate stated that he wanted to move onto using DiGiCo “for a while”, but was unable to find the time during the hectic first album campaign. “We take our audio packages out from Adlib and they carry loads of DiGiCo SD12’s, which are ideal for monitors. I used the desk on a fair few festivals last year and found that I always got on with it - it really suited my workflow and sounded perfect in the IEMs. When I got the opportunity to specify, I knew I wanted an SD12 - it sounds great for Blossoms’ mixes. We have quite a lot of stuff going on audio-wise and the desk handles it all brilliantly; my mixes are pushed pretty hard but the SD12 - and our

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TPi Awards nominated Backline Tech, Bob Munro; Adlib’s Jay Petch walking the floor; LD, Edd Croft designed the show under new brand, Mangata Collective.

Shure PSM1000 IEMs with moulds from Cosmic Ears - make for the perfect monitoring combination.” Bate uses the DiGiCo SD12’s onboard FX and processing functions as well as the DiGiTube feature for the bass guitar mix. “I run it pretty hot to get that tube-driven sound and our bass player, Charlie, loves it. It sounds so good when he plays live.” In order to keep the stage as quiet as possible, the entire band uses in-ears. “All of our amps are off-stage too, so we literally only have the drums which create on-stage sound,” noted Bate. In total, he runs 6 stereo in-ear mixes, 1 Porter and Davis butt kicker send for the drummer, 1 Porter and Davis KT platform for the keys. “There are lots of changes, lots of things happening throughout each song, and every song has a different instrument which Tom (vocals) pitches to. I run snapshots on the SD12 which helps out with the majority of changes, but there are always changes which need manual attention.” Among the aforementioned companies which had the foresight to lend support to the burgeoning band, Shure is a favourite with Bate. “They’re great to work with,” he noted. “We have a full mic package and IEM System from Shure, including the new KSM8’s for our vocal mic. Their products sound very clear and are able to cut through in all the mixes. We use 2 KSM313’s on our clean / dirty guitar channels and on the monitor side of things, we have 3 units of PSM1000’s, 5 band mixes and a cue / crew mix. We utilise 10 packs in total so that all of our touring party can have a mix on stage at all times. The PSM1000’s are the best in-ear units I’ve ever used; they can handle anything. The P10R diversity wireless bodypack receivers

really give the true sound of the systems.” And as for Adlib? “We’ve got a great connection with all the techs and managers there; they help us out with everything we ever need. It’s really nice to know that we’ve got people around the clock should we run into any problems,” Bate confirmed. FALLING INTO PLACE At FOH, engineer Chris Pearce [TPi Awards nominated, 2017] is manning a Soundcraft Vi3000 with a UAD Realtime Rack. After mixing FOH for the Inspiral Carpets, whom Blossoms supported, he too found himself part of the team. “I was talking to the band when they supported Inspirals and was just giving them a few tips and suggestions such as trying out IEMs out instead of monitors. A few months later, Tom [lead singer] asked me to come on board their crew. I owned a splitter van back then and, like most bands when starting out, Blossoms were looking for a driver and a sound engineer to tour with, so it all fell perfectly into place. “I’m currently using a Soundcraft Vi3000 with the Vi6 stage box. It’s one of the desks I always walk away from smiling; it’s easy to use, sounds great - especially with the Vi6 pre-amps - and the Lexicon onboard FX really work for our mix. As a package, Soundcraft really suits me. “The mic choices really help too. The KSM8 is perfect for Tom’s voice and mic technique. I like them as my EQ is usually as flat as a pancake and only chopping 120hz and below. There’s no need to pull the usual 180-250Hz out like you would with the SM58, so I get a nice, warm-sounding vocal to work with. My favourite mics in the Blossoms’ collection are the KSM313’s I use 50

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FOH Engineer, Chris Pearce with his Soundcraft Vi3000; Monitor man, Callum Bate on his DiGiCo SD12; Production Manager John Simm with Tour Manager, Dan Woolfie.

on Josh’s guitar amps - I’ve found these mics sound amazing. I’m also a big fan of the Shure Beta 98A drum mics; they have all the characteristics I’m looking for, giving me the punchy drum sound I’m after.”

Adlib’s Jay Petch, PA Rigger and Stage Tech, joined the conversation: “We suggested the CODA AiRAY system to Chris as we’d successfully deployed it on a few high-profile tours such as The Script & Paloma Faith. [Both recent TPi covers!] Chris was happy to give the system a whirl if he had Alan on-hand to optimise the rig. For the Stockport Plaza show, we put in 6 CODA AiRAY per side, ground stacked on 2 CODA SC2 subs with 2 CODA SCP subs. “The first-time Alan and I worked with the Blossoms crew was back in 2016 when they played at the Plaza for their debut album release show. It was nice to be able to work with the lads again in their hometown venue. Despite it’s great aesthetic as a room, the main challenge was space, as there’s not a lot of it. Loading in from the street in front of the venue, down a carpeted ramp and then up onto the stage in a lift the size of a postage stamp requires good organisation and patience from everyone involved!” he laughed. “This was no problem though, as John had everything running like clockwork - he’s obviously played Tetris a lot!”

PA PERSUASION For the PA system, Adlib supplied a CODA Audio AiRAY. Pearce continued: “I’d heard people saying how amazing this system is, but it did take some persuading from Adlib as I was turning down another top choice. It was a really difficult decision, but I won’t hesitate to take it out again. In my eyes - and ears! - CODA is up there with L-Acoustics and d&b audiotechnik - the industry standards. It’s compact and light compared to any other similar system which makes it very tour-friendly.” But it’s not just the black boxes Pearce is happy to have on tour… “I suppose anyone could set a PA up, but when my main man Alan Harrison - our Adlib FOH System Tech - waves his magic wand at the rig, it just sings exactly how I want it to. There’s no harsh frequencies firing at me and the bass is always very tight, never ‘subby’ on the bottom end. It all sounds very natural. “Alan’s my go-to system tech. I couldn’t ask for a better and friendlier company to have behind me. Adlib have always been so helpful from the very start. The equipment they send out is always perfect and the guys are great to get on with - I can tell they enjoy working for the company, which makes it a nice atmosphere for us - it really does show on gigs.” It should be noted, that at Stockport’s Plaza, the show did look beautiful, but the room sounded unlike TPi had ever heard it sound before. “I get to mix a big, punchy live sound that matches the band’s stage presence in front of our amazing light show. The Stockport Plaza is a very acoustically dead room, which is good for me, so I felt like half the battle was already won, plus the band send me amazing stuff, so all I’m doing in effect is pushing faders and levelling things off in the mix.”

ICING ON THE CAKE And last but not least, Bob Munro, Backline Tech, thought the tour was going to be a challenge for everyone after not featuring any real production / headline shows since last summer... “It was challenging in places, but it also worked. We managed to bring this ambitious production into each venue without scaling back or compromising and it’s set the benchmark for our shows going forward. “Prior to the tour, we secured deals with Danelectro and Gibson, so the band have some new toys to play with, meaning I have more guitars to restring and change, so I’m much busier during the set than I was a year ago, and I was pretty busy back then! “Guitarist Josh’s pedalboard has grown considerably for this tour, making use of more boutique pedals such as the Hudson Electronic 52


Broadcast drive and Strymon BigSky, but he still holds a place for a few Boss and EHX products on his board. He’s also started running separate amps for his clean and driven sounds, using a Roland JC120 and Fender Hot Rod respectively. All of this being controlled by a GigRig G2 which is easily my favourite programmable controller on the market, it never fails me!” he smiled. As praised by Woolfie, Munro was too in the running for a TPi Award this year. “I was really surprised to see my name on the shortlist, largely because I hadn’t gone looking for a nomination. I managed to work with some brilliant artists that I respect and to have my name out there as an industry newcomer seemed to be the icing on the cake. I knew it would open doors for me down the line, and it absolutely has!” he concluded. As the first week of shows in Greater Manchester wrap up, the last word goes to Woolfie, also a Stockport native, who reflected on this, ahem, blossoming journey so far… “It’s been really, really exciting - it’s not often you get the opportunity to work with a local band from a 100-capacity local café bar to the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury! I feel really lucky to have seen the whole journey unfold. Blossoms are aiming for longevity, and hopefully, we’re going to grow bigger and better together as time goes on…” TPi Photos: TPi & Jack Kirwin


FAST & FURIOUS LIVE TPi’s Stew Hume visited Arena Birmingham to bear witness to Universal’s Fast and Furious Live; an experience that promised to bring all of the adrenaline-fuelled stunts from the street racing saga to venues up and down the UK.



It’s fair to say few could have predicted the monumental success of the Fast & Furious franchise when it first hit cinemas in 2001. The 8-movie epic, which follows Vin Diesel’s Dom Toretto and his band of fellow street racers, is the sixth highest-grossing film franchise of all time, with each chapter upping the ante on 4 wheels. Now the excitement of the big screen drifts to the arenas with Universal’s Fast & Furious Live. The project is a labour of love for Creative Director Rowland French who, prior to the tour, had been at the helm of other car shows such as Top Gear Live. “I’m a massive fan of movies and doing a live show seemed like such a wonderful opportunity,” explained French in a promotional video for the show. “Fast & Furious Live takes all of the action from the movies and recreates it live in an arena show. It’s been in the works for almost 5 years and we have a new storyline that will take the audience on a whole new adventure!” After years of extensive storyboarding and planning the touring logistics of such an ambitious stage show, Fast & Furious Live became a reality. On site, TPi caught up with Production Director Simon Aldridge at Birmingham Arena to look under the bonnet of this outlandish production... “My main role on this project was to take all the designs Rowland created and look after the build and logistics,” explained Aldridge, as he took TPi backstage to get a close look at the supercharged sports cars, off-road buggies, and even a tank! “As you can see, we have quite an array of vehicles featuring in the show,” he laughed, nodding towards the large outer shell of a Boeing 747 which made an appearance during the show finale. “A great deal of research went into making this show reliable, safe

and - most importantly - tourable!” To turn the creative ideas into a technical reality, Aldridge brought in suppliers including Brilliant Stages, Stage One, PRG XL Video, Britannia Row Productions, Quantum SFX, SAAN Trucking, GAC (freighting and logistics) and Rockpool Tour Catering. GETTING THE FAMILY TOGETHER No one knows better than Dom Toretto the importance of a team who could pull off yet another hare-brained operation. To advance the show, Production Manager, Chris Vaughn, was brought in, while Phil Broad filled the role of Touring Production Manager. In total, the tour consisted of a 58-strong crew including all technicians, carpenters and mechanic engineers. “We also brought on an amazing team of drivers,” enthused Aldridge. “We had over 2,000 people apply who we whittled down to just 10 by. We sent them on a 16-week boot camp at an army base before moving into the Birmingham NEC for full production rehearsals.” Clearly, the boot camp paid off. Throughout the night, the team of drivers showcased some truly breath-taking moves; from drifting around the tightest corners of an imitation Japanese car park, to effortlessly spinning around actors on the stage floor in combat scenes. “All the drivers come from a variety of backgrounds but have gone on to become a really solid team.” Along with key suppliers, Aldridge also brought in specialist outfits to produce solutions for the show’s more bespoke needs. This included Smoking Boots, which produced all the gas-powered guns used in the 56


action scenes. Asylum was also enlisted, it helped to create modified replicas of the cars featured in the films. Each one of the cars was purpose-built and capable of various SFX stunts, including creating crash dents, nitro exhausts and hydraulics. PROPS AND STAGING Rowland’s inspiration for the action scenes came directly from the franchise, explained Aldridge. “But to help us translate the various storyboards, we needed someone familiar with the live environment.” Enter Ala Lloyd of Lloyd Live Design, Production Designer. “We initially brought her and the team in to simply stylise the brief, but very quickly Ala threw herself into the project and helped us realise some of the show’s most ambitious looks,” stated Aldridge. Lloyd discussed her work: “Rowland had a very clear vision from the get-go, wishing to combine video mapping and imposing set pieces together seamlessly,” she began. “We both spent a long time looking at all the various objects he wished to include and figuring out how these pieces would interact with the environment.” Lloyd cited the finale of the show - during which the nose of a plane crashes through the rear wall of the performance area. “We had to create a solution that replicated the appearance of a real plane as it overlapped with the video content projected onto the real wall - and it had to be tourable.” Brilliant Stages aided in the set department by providing the backwall and flooring for the tour. Stage One worked with the automation as well as several of the vehicles. Stage One’s Tim Leigh documented the hurdles faced along the way. “We had been talking to Simon Aldridge and Rowland French about the concept for at least 2 years. It’s an ambitious show from an engineering perspective and therefore the initial design development took some time to get right. Of course, delivering a technically ambitious show which accommodates the additional demands touring presents, is no mean feat.” Collectively, Stage One provided the Navistar military vehicle and the submarine for the performance - yes, you did read that correctly. “The submarine was a rather late addition to the design,” stated Lloyd. “The specific scene we were depicting was from the latest movie which came out when we were already deep into the development stage but Rowland was very keen to include it in the show.” The submarine itself used an electric forklift, which

watch video



provided the actuation. Stage One created a frame around this vehicle that could telescope and was finished in a black stretch fabric. Alongside the projection mapping, this created the illusion of the sub breaking through the ice. Leigh explained some of the other elements Stage One had to consider. “There are always 2 fabrication mantras on a show like this: to assemble quickly and make it lightweight. We’re experts at fabricating items which will pack down for transport; almost all of our projects have this requirement. Making elements lightweight but at the same time robust is a continual challenge.” For automation, Stage One used its Qmotion software to control movement. “Our system allows us to control not only our own kit, but hardware designed by others,” elaborated Leigh. Taking up the conversational baton was Ben Brooks, who outlined Brilliant Stages’ role. “Simon had originally come to see us because he was looking for a space to rehearse the driving element of the show,” began Brooks. “Sadly, our studio wasn’t available, but during his visit he saw our workshops and offerings and we started to discuss the set build. The show at this point had been storyboarded but didn’t have actual drawings for each piece.” Brilliant Stages built an automated back wall which had several points for the vehicles to enter and exit the arena and it acted as a projection surface. “The challenge with the back wall was keeping a seamless surface across the whole structure. In total there were 5 opening doors that were 9m tall. They had to operate at high-speed and have a traffic light system incorporated so cars and props knew when they were at the correct height and clear to pass through. The wall also had to withstand the wind pressure as the venue doors had to be left open to allow cars in and out of the venues.”

Brilliant Stages also supplied the drivable floor surface. “Finding the correct flooring was a real challenge, involving lots of R&D,” explained Brooks. “While flooring might seem like a simple task, it had to do so many jobs; it had to be laid across the entire arena in a very small amount of time, it had to be a projection surface, it had to provide a consistent level of grip while covered in rubber, and it also had to withstand the continuous spinning of wheels from the cars - and even a 30-second standing burnout.” Brilliant Stages and the production ended up making a custom composite deck after hundreds of tests. “The deck incorporated our standard connection method and was under 40mm thick - which helped enormously with truck space as it look up 30% less than a traditional decking solution,” stated Brooks. Finally the staging specialist also provided a selection of staging props including a water tower, car park columns and the front and rear of a plane. After listing all the various staging elements Brooks chuckled: “The tour was so interesting. Every piece was enormous! We all loved working on it because it was so different.” Lloyd concluded by giving her final thoughts on the project: “I came from outside the car world but I immensely enjoyed my time on Fast & Furious Live. It’s been amazing to see some of these ideas come alive on the stage.” VISUALS Rowland French and the rest of the core production wanted to ensure fans got to experience iconic scenes from the 8 movies. This meant transporting audiences through a selection of locations from inner cities to ice plains. “We always knew we wanted to do something with video mapping,” explained Aldridge. “One of the first creative people we brought onto the project was Kate Dawkins from Kate Dawkins Studios.” 58


The company oversaw the creative and artistic direction of the tour and laid out the vision for the show projection content. “Fast & Furious Live is an impressively ambitious choreography of creative inputs which proudly sit side by side with the spectacular driving,” stated Dawkins to TPi. “It was a long and exciting journey, with some extreme creative challenges, but all very worth it to see the fantastic final outcome, a truly great show.” To aid in the production, Dawkins brought in her long-time collaborator, dandelion + burdock. The mapping specialist managed the complex and creative challenges of devising the projection content and 3D animation. For the projection, Dawkins utilised 48 Panasonic’s DZ21K projectors along side disguise 4x4 servers. The production also used Notch realtime effects alongside a Blacktrax tracking system, which integrated with each of the cars. Lighting Designer Bruno Poet worked alongside the projection department. Last seen on the pages of TPi for his work with Iceland’s Sigur Rós, Poet was brought into the Fast & Furious camp almost 18-months before the beginning of tech rehearsals. He elaborated: “Kate Dawkins and I have collaborated on several projects in the past. Both she and the production were keen to have an LD involved who had worked with video mapping of this scale before.” It was essential the lighting didn’t conflict with the projection on either the real wall or stage. “It’s all about the angles you choose,” said Poet. “The majority of the projection was from the top down onto the floor which makes quite a flat surface. My main job with the lighting was to pick up the cars at varying angles to give them more of a 3D presence as they drove around the performance area.” The LD also explained how he blended the fixture intensities so as to match the video content’s pallet making the lighting design an extension of the video itself.

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Providing all the kit for the tour was PRG XL Video which he had worked affect the video projection and doesn’t create visual issues for the drivers.” with on several other touring projects. “But this was my first arena show An MA Lighting grandMA2 was the desk of choice because, as he put with them as the supplier,” stated Poet, adding, “They were brilliant it, “The MA is such a fantastic tool at handling this number of fixtures.” throughout and I was very impressed with their service. The crew they Poet’s programmer was long-time collaborator, Matt Daw. He worked with provided are fantastic and their experience on shows of this scale proved Simon Port, who launched the design while on tour. Timecode was an invaluable.” important element throughout the show. “For the tour Simon is using a In the lighting rig Poet made use of several mixture of Timecode and live launching various PRG’s own fixtures including the PRG Best Boy looks depending on the scene. For example, and the Icons. “This was the first time I had used in the Miami scene when we used Feeding the the PRG Best Boys and was really impressed. Fish’s LED-coded cars, our lighting design was They are fast, punchy with a great frost and zoom completely synced to the music.” range letting you blend the colours together well.” Alix Wilding, Director for Feeding the Fish, “From a tech perspective, as far described the looks on the cars. “The creation Common fixtures in Poet’s arsenal were the GLP impression X4 Bars. “We used the X4’s mainly for was developed at the same time as the as we know, the Nissan Skyline a wash for the audience as well as some beam choreography of the piece. Feeding the Fish has the most programmable effects for the Miami scenes. This element of created the LED content, so I worked closely the show was also complemented with the PRG LEDs on a moving car ever – we with Colin Sangster, Kate Dawkins and Rowland Icons.” French right from the beginning. Bruno designed are in the process of applying The Claypaky Spheriscan also proved vital. the set lighting once the LED car content and “During one of the early scenes in the show we choreography was in the final stages.” All 4 of for a Guinness World Record! have a helicopter effect. To create the look of the cars boasted unique content throughout The final result is something we the scene, including replicated paint jobs from blades we have the Spheriscan in the roof utilising the fixture’s 360 degree mirror.” Poet was also vehicles from 2 Fast 2 Furious. “Each car receives are super proud of.” keen to highlight his choice of haze - namely the an initial DMX trigger from the lighting desk, then Alix Wilding, Director, MDG Fog ATMOSPHERE. “It produces a fine haze runs its own programme on an Independent which looks great with the lights but doesn’t Media Server,” explained Wilding. “It’s been a very Feeding the Fish 60


challenging project - each car has a very different interior so the design of the system was from scratch every time. From a tech perspective, as far as we know, the Nissan Skyline has the most programmable LEDs on a moving car ever - we are in the process of applying for a Guinness World Record! The final result is something we are super proud of.” Poet gave his final thoughts on the performance. “This project was unlike anything I have ever done. I really enjoyed working with Rowland as he had such strong ideas from the beginning. His energy was really inspiring. I also think Simon pulled together a fantastic team for the project.” PYRO Quantum Special Effects provided a selection of pyrotechnic effects to work along side the action on the stage. Shaun Barnett, MD for Quantum, took on the creative brief and liaising with production and ensured FX were tourable and sustainable in the territories production planned to go. Sam Hue-Vashon, Engineering Manager and his team embarked on the R&D and development of the SFX. “This has, and continues to be, a very challenging tour,” commented Barnett. “Quantum’s team really pulled out all the stop’s make sure this event was delivered in time.” Quantum supplied multiple reusable non-pyrotechnic bullet hits on moving vehicles for the gun battle scenes. “This probably took most of our R&D time as this was a new and innovative effect,” stated Barnett. “The system can be modified to represent a rifle or shotgun hit. Each impact point can be fired up to 4 times, which was a bit of an added bonus.” He continued: “One of the most challenging effect was the selfcontained, reusable burning suit for a stuntman to wear as he jumps from an exploding armoured personnel carrier. The main challenge for us was the word ‘reusable’. We’ve all seen films with people on fire, but the protective clothing for those instances is used perhaps once, maybe twice and replace it. We didn’t have that luxury (or budget).” A considerable level of R&D went into suit to achieve primarily the safety aspect of this effect, heat protection, flame deflection, material staying flame retardant after many uses. It had to be self-contained, wirelessly controlled and with an E-stop. Other effects were a working afterburner replica from Dom’s Ice Charger, dust hit simulators and an explosive flame effect for an explosion on the armoured personnel carrier, 2 real flame rigs built into Honda Civics. The company also supplied bespoke confetti dollar bills with two delivery methods to distribute it into the audience. “In the heist 61


scene a replica bank safe was dragged by 2 cars,” stated Barnett. “For this and wouldn’t have been possible without a lot of great communication and we produced sparks from the base as it was dragged around the arena conversations with every venue we visited.” floor.” Also supplied was a large pyro and debris hits for submarine and tank explosions, multiple pyro hits on various vehicles and around the AUDIO arena floor. Finally the SFX specialist provided low smoke and smoke in Between the car engines, wheel screeches and pyrotechnic blasts, Fast & vehicle wheel arches. Furious Live was certainly loud. Drafted in to compete with this challenging “From an engineering and delivery perspective developing and testing audio environment was Sound Designer Colin Pink and audio supplier new effects such as the spark bullet hits and the fire suit were particularly Britannia Row Productions. challenging as we were working to a time frame and budget,” stated “The production was looking for some advice about how to proceed Barnett while outlining the challenges of the tour. “Once we established all with the show’s audio due to the particular challenges of this performance,” the various different effects systems it became a began Pink. As well as designing the PA rig for the real challenge with the installations as there were live tour, the Sound Designer was also responsible vehicles all over the country, some being tested, for incorporating all the sound effects for the some being built and some still in design stage, performances. Working closely with James we had limited time available on each vehicle Seymour Brett who produced the original score which proved challenging when faced with for the tour, Pink utilised a massive array of unexpected problems.” audio stems from all 8 of Fast & Furious movies, The primary pyro shooter was Kemal Canalp provided by Universal. “During the show there is with Craig Steward taking on the role as second a real mix of live action interspersed with footage shooter. “It was a practically challenging show to from the movies. I knew it was important to keep program which saw Kamal work across two, and the audio and the film footage in the same world at times, three separate Galaxsis firing systems for the audience so having sound effects familiar seamlessly,” enthused Cochran. Each shot to the fans made for more smooth transitions was fired live by Canalp and Steward with the between the 2 different elements.” “The opportunity to do things exception of the fire suit which was controlled by With the audio elements of the show for the first time, such as the stuntman. recorded, the question now was how they would Barnett gave his final thoughts on the tour. trigger it live. Pink and the rest of the production the tanker, fire suit, bullet “It was a fantastic project,” he stated. “The opted for a Figure 53 QLab 4 system. “We actually hit systems and so on was opportunity to do things for the first time, such have two different timecode streams coming out as the tanker, fire suit, bullet hit systems and so of the QLab,” explained Pink. “This was necessary amazing and complicated.” on was amazing and complicated. The challenge as some sections of the show were triggered as Shaun Barnett, of making all of it happen and with each venue’s a linear timeline for audio with other more time blessing was so far removed from our ‘normal’ flexible elements being cued to match what Managing Director for Quantum 62


was going on in the performance. Collectively we had over 2,000 cues to contend with but our package made it very manageable.” Completing the control package was a DiGiCo SD11. “We chose DiGiCo due to the wealth of features and flexibility you get within the system,” commented Pink. “For this show space was at a premium at FOH and although complex, the show had a relatively low channel count, so the SD11 seemed the perfect choice. Using the Opticore system allowed us to run another SD11 installed in the stage rack in ‘mirror mode’ as a backup, giving us both redundancy and a small footprint - the best of both worlds.” The tour visited countries throughout Europe, so the production was keen to create versions of the show in different languages. “There are 2 actors who host the show and create a narrative,” explained Pink. “When

they perform in countries where English is not the mother-tongue we are launching 2 versions of the script; one in English for the performer IEMs so they can move and gesticulate at the right times, and one audio stream for the audience PA. To ensure they matched up I had to use OSC Commands to launch multiple cue list - something I didn’t even realise QLabs was capable of.” Fergus Mount operated the show for the opening night at London’s O2 and Paul Allen took the reigns for the other dates throughout Europe. “Both Fergus and Paul have been fantastic,” commented Pink. “They both come from a theatre background which was essential with this cue-based show.” An L-Acoustics PA was the system of choice for the tour. The rig was driven by L-Acoustics LA12X amplifiers via Britannia Row Productions’



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Dante Network with Lake Processing. The main arrays, flown left and right, comprised K2’s and KS28 subs while KARA and SB18’s were employed for the delays which were rigged left, centre and right. The nature of the tour demanded a significant degree of flexibility as Lez Dwight, Director of Britannia Row Productions explained: “The system was designed to fit into a variety of different arena sizes and we had wheeled dollies built to make the deployment of the delay hangs a quicker and less onerous task. Similarly, the control elements are packaged in a way to make load-in and load-out fast and efficient; the dollies for the gear at the stage end even has customised fabric covering so as to blend in with the stage environment which, due to the nature of the show, is pretty unconventional.” “The system itself is a hybrid of an ‘in the round’ set up and a conventional end of the room design,” elaborated Pink. “Originally, we considered deploying a ring of hangs in the centre of the arena. But in the end we opted to move towards an L / R set-up. Our justification for this was the rear projection wall that was used to show content from the movies. This meant we could draw audiences attention to the wall with the audio at key points in the show.” Along with the L-Acoustics PA, Britannia Row also provided 112P’s for 2 electric cars featured in the show. “Both the cars are modelled on vehicles from the first movie, a 1995 Mitsubishi Eclipse and Dodge Charger,” said Pink. “We were keen to make sure they sounded just like the cars so we rigged them with 112P’s which we sent audio to via an IEM link. We actually recorded the audio live on the army base the drivers were rehearsing where we essentially did drag races all day - a fun day in the office.” For a production of this high-octane nature, efficient, reliable comms was simply a must. Britannia Row Production’s RF comms system of choice is a Riedel Artist Matrix with more than a dozen Bolero wireless units. A combination of wired and wireless stations links the show caller with all the essential technicians running the show, from mechanics and carpenters to audio, lighting, AV, automation and pyro. Out in the vehicles, the stunt drivers stay connected with Sennheiser 2000’s and IEMs. Finally for the performers’ microphones the production used a Shure Axiant Digital system. “Fast & Furious Live is exactly the nature of the show, and it’s breath-

taking,” concludes Dwight. “Throughout Spring and Summer we are taking it to arenas across Europe, from the SSE Hydro in Glasgow to the O2 Arena in Prague. Each venue presents a different challenge in staging a production of this nature; the audio design has to successfully compete with and complement the natural sounds of these fantastic vehicles, whatever the shape and acoustics of the venue. To control it, the comms system has to be completely infallible. The Brit Row crew on the tour has delivered this brief with precision and passion.” Pink also share a similar enthusiasm: “Fast & Furious Live was a very exciting show to work on. It’s one of those projects where the technical challenges really make the show exciting - not to mention the great crew we had out with us.” THE FINISH LINE After calling curtains on the European tour, Fast & Furious Live is set to head to Australia and South Esast Asia. The production is modernising a traditional car show, pushing the upper limits of possibility with 2018 touring technology, and keeping fans of the franchise satisfied until the next instalment comes out in cinemas next year. TPi Photos: Dan Bermingham-Shaw (Fast Live) 64

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SEAN MARTIN: BOSE PROFESSIONAL’S NEW RECRUIT TPi speaks to Bose Professional’s new EMEA Sales Manager for Rental and Touring to discuss what the future holds for the company’s latest venture.

Can you detail your previous experience in the rental and touring market? Back in the early ‘80s, I started my career as a project engineer at UK loudspeaker manufacturer Court Acoustics. Like Britannia Row Productions, Court were part owned by Pink Floyd and as a result were both located in the same Islington building. That gave me the best education - from installing the Camden Palace sound system to being thrown in at the deep end with Pink Floyd’s inaugural The Wall shows at Earls Court. It was there I met Robbie Williams and of course Bryan Grant, as well as FOH Engineer Roger Lindsay, friendships that I treasure to this day. Prior to ‘real work’ I was an average soul DJ, but with an exceptional sound system. When the likes of a young Pete Tong, Paul Oakenfold,

Masters at Work and Nicky Holloway wanted to rent my system for their gigs, I realised that’s probably where my skills were best used. A stint at Theatre Projects followed, where I had many long discussions about sound with an incredibly driven Jazzie B of Soul II Soul, and Brian Croft of TFA Rentals, which TP recently acquired. After that, 30 years spread across JBL, Turbosound, Tannoy, EAW, Music Group and Harman followed. How has this led you to your current position with Bose Professional? Did you have much experience of the products beforehand? In truth I guess, like many of us industry folk, I shamefully had no knowledge of Bose’s current portfolio of professional products. Sure 802’s and maybe the bass cannon came to mind... but that was about it. It was only when I was talking to Bose Director of Global Concert and Rental 66


Opposite: The new Bose ShowMatch DeltaQ rig at the O2 in London. Below: Bose Professional’s newly appointed rental and touring Sales Manager, Sean Martin.

Business, David Scheirman [formerly JBL Tour Sound President], in the US, that I realised there was a very serious line array system, the ShowMatch DeltaQ, and associated accessories. David then convinced me that Bose were incredibly serious about the rental market and had brought him in to help form a team of 7 of us globally to truly support our ShowMatch tour partners.

which I would anticipate is unparalleled for a debutant in this market with a high level system. We expect to double those numbers within the next 12 months!

What have been the milestone shows for this system? We’ve specifically targeted full service production companies with ShowMatch and as a consequence we have seen a variety of successful The EMEA region is a busy market for touring and gear rental - can you events cross our bow. From Kendrick Lamar and Rihanna in the US, to Don please tell us about what your new duties will be in the region? Broco in the UK, Sissel in Scandinavia, and Juanes in South America. Then While Bose have a great provenance in professional audio, tour audio in the last few weeks SSE Audio Group’s ShowMatch DeltaQ installation remains relatively new as ShowMatch is only at the O2 in London has completed. Another 18 months old. Bose was structured to best highlight has been the newly rebuilt Longchamp serve its traditional markets and not geared racecourse in Paris, which boasted a ShowMatch for the demands of production companies. My rig at the launch event - the final event of the day appointment quickly addressed that. I now work was the concert of French DJ, The Avener, which closely with the teams on the ground to provide involved a big ShowMatch DeltaQ array, with 24 the glue - or oil - between the cogs, to provide the boxes, 20 subs and 3 Powersoft X8 amplification answers rental houses or FOH are typically after. racks. Bose Professional is also proud to be the This means our guys on the ground maintain official Audio Partner of Giudizio Universale, a “As a small format line array, the necessary day to day contact and I connect multimedia show dedicated to Michelangelo’s ShowMatch is ideally suited the dots, feeding back our successes to our now celebrated work, playing from 15 March in Rome’s global network. Auditorium Conciliazione. It’s a fantastic time for the European market and for me to join Bose Professional, and I am really A/V production companies in What are your plans for this role, and the looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead. ShowMatch DeltaQ product line in particular? I am sure we can add tremendous value - and particular, providing a perfect As a small format line array, ShowMatch is great sound - to many events in the coming platform for Bose’s aggressive ideally suited for the European market and A/V months and years. production companies in particular, providing a TPi future tour audio product perfect platform for Bose’s aggressive future tour Photos: Bose Professional plans.” audio product plans. We already have a 40 strong ShowMatch rental partner network in EMEA, Sean Martin 67


HANNAH BRODRICK Tour Manager, FOH and Monitor Engineer; Hannah Broadrick is a woman of many talents, and after hosting a Women In Live Music event at Hammersmith Apollo, she’s hoping more will be inspired to follow in her footsteps...

How did you initially get into the industry? Was audio always a passion? So I guess it started with studying Music Technology at college and then at University. Music was everything, I spent all my money on going to gigs and knew I had to be a part of it somehow, but I didn’t know what a live sound engineer was until much later on in life. I kind of assumed I wanted to be a record producer or something at the start! After I graduated I knew live sound was my goal but I didn’t know the industry or how to get into it, so I was applying for jobs at studios, venues, anything music-related to try to get my foot in the door. All I managed to achieve was a string of unpaid internships for various music PR / marketing companies, which I didn’t enjoy and it left me feeling totally used and pretty downhearted. It took 2 years of this until I finally got my break, which came from doing lights for a show at Brighton Fringe. I stepped in to cover a friend but I had no idea how to do lights. The result - stayed up all night reading the desk manual! The gig was a bit of a disaster, but the production manager took a shine to me and asked if I wanted to do some work for them the following week. I jumped at the chance and was soon learning how to run sound, power, lighting and so on at local events in Brighton. I didn’t get paid much but learned a lot. Gaining that experience, I went on to work in local theatres until I felt that my lack of knowledge in live sound was holding me back [my uni course was very studio-based]. So I decided to enrol in a live sound course with Britannia Row Productions Training in London in 2014. After I graduated from the course I began working for Britannia Row in their warehouse, as well as crewing and corporate sound work. The touring came soon after. Tour managing / merch / driving came as part of the role

when mixing for smaller bands on tour. I never set out to be a TM but found it’s something I really enjoy. What have been some of the key jobs in your career since then and how did they lead to your current dual role with pg.lost? So most of my touring experience has been stage end. I toured with Noel Gallagher as RF tech, Kula Shaker as Monitor Engineer, and Stornoway as Monitor Engineer and TM. On top of that most of my venue / one-off work was on monitors. My role with pg.lost actually came through a friend who knew the guitarist and recommended me for their tour. I think I mentioned I’d done a show for Mogwai, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and that I was into postrock. Even though my FOH portfolio wasn’t that impressive I think they valued that I understood the music and could speak some Swedish, as they are a Swedish band. I asked if they needed me to tour manage, as I’m used to working dual roles on smaller tours, and they seemed happy with that. They’re really self-sufficient when it comes to that stuff so I don’t have to much in the way of advancing, just some day-to-day stuff. I was genuinely surprised when I got offered the tour and didn’t believe it was going to happen until I was on the plane. The industry is fickle and I’d say I get nearly as many tours cancel on me as go ahead. How is the work you do on tour different to other jobs where you are employed as an in-house tech / engineer? Do you have a preference? I definitely prefer touring, but on the small scale. Mainly because I love travelling and it’s really fun when you are with people you get along with. Big arena tours are a different kettle of fish where everything is much more 68


Fog is our passion! Battery-operated fog generators to be built into costumes and props, powerful Haze- and Fog generators from 650 W to 3 kW, a 9 kW machine to fill big halls and stadiums, a powerful low fog machine as a low power or high power version and an attachment to produce low fog: We have the right machine for any effect. Cobra 3.1 routine and, in my experience, less fun - but it definitely depends on who else is on the crew. I think the main difference between touring and in-house work is based around trust. As a touring engineer I put my complete trust in the house engineer and their expertise with the system and the console if it’s something I’m unfamiliar with. When you are in-house the role is reversed so now you are the one that has to know it all and fix any problem that comes up and make sure the visiting engineer is comfortable. There’s a lot of psychology involved. On the technical side of things, an important part of touring with a band is consistency, ideally you want the same show every night, but you’re working with different spaces, systems and sometimes different mics. I feel like I’m listening a lot harder than when I’m mixing in-house. How has your touring education progressed in general, and how do you find switching between FOH, monitors and RF roles? My first tour was driving a splitter bus around UK venues, selling merch and banging on the doors of Travelodge rooms to make sure we got to venues on time. These days I’m counting my air-miles and actually getting to spec my own equipment. I’ve progressed a lot but I don’t feel like I’ll ever reach a point of thinking I know it all, nor would I want to. I feel it’s really important to pass on knowledge, so I often invite people to shadow me on tour. Talking about what I do and answering questions has definitely made me better at my job. After doing monitors for so long, switching to touring FOH terrified me in the beginning. I haven’t toured doing a big RF job in a long time either, so these days I’d probably be nervous about that too. But really as soon as I get into it, it’s like riding a bike and comes easy, and I wonder why I ever doubted myself. You recently hosted the Women in Live Music (WILM) event at Hammersmith Apollo. Can you please discuss how the day went and, more broadly, how you became involved with the organisation? The event at Hammersmith Apollo was brilliant! I was a bit nervous as it was my first one and I rarely have to get up and talk in front of a big

group of people, but it went really well. We had 33 attendees - and a lot of men - which was amazing, I didn’t expect so many people to come. We had a tour of the venue and then a panel discussion with several leading ladies of the live music industry, discussing topics from internships and starting out in the industry to mental health. WILM was born in December 2017, because we felt there was a need for a European network for women in the industry. Sometimes for various reasons artists / clients specifically want to hire women so we thought it would be great if there was a place you could go to find them! As well as operating as a professional network we are passionate about inspiring the next generation of women in live music and getting more of them out there, so we try to offer mentorship, events, workshops and shadowing / internship opportunities to those starting out. Do you think this is an area of the industry that has seen improvement since you began your career? What needs to happen next? When I was at university, there was only one other girl in my class of around 30 and entering the industry I rarely encountered other women. These days I’m meeting more and I’m hearing from contacts who are involved with education that a lot more women are enrolling in technical and production management courses. This is great news, but not everyone has the time and money to study, so we need our venues and production companies to open their doors for people to learn and get experience. Making sure women are visible in these positions is also vital. If you want to enter an industry but all the people in it are nothing like you, then it’s less likely that you think you can fit in. I remember a point where I genuinely believed that men were better at audio than women, because what else could explain the lack of female sound engineers? Turned out there were some, and after I found them my confidence increased tenfold. Having role models, people to look at and say “Yes! That’s what I want to do” is so important. TPi Photos: Ruby Gold 69

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BRITANNIA ROW PRODUCTIONS: ONE YEAR POST ACQUISITION 12 months after one of the most talked-about acquisitions in modern pro audio by Pennsylvaniabased Clair Global; Britannia Row’s Bryan Grant, Mike Low and Lez Dwight sit down with TPi at its Twickenham HQ to discuss how making a strong American ally transformed the landscape of transAtlantic tour support.

Like most quintessentially British towns on the cusp of summer, a local cricket match takes place in Twickenham a stone’s throw away from a number of pubs. Tree-lined streets meet crisp white uniforms and, in one form or another, news of the oncoming drizzle can be overheard from various directions. But, we’re not here to talk about the weather; we’re here to visit Britannia Row Productions, one of the most famous and successful sound rental suppliers in the history of UK touring. In April 2017, after over 40 years in business, the company made the decision to partner with one of North America’s premier audio vendors, Clair Global. After visiting the company at the start of the year to understand how the process came into play from the acquisition’s UK counterpart, TPi then visited Britannia Row’s South West London offices [see TPi’s March issue].

company has continued to evolve under their direction until the present day. “During this time,” Grant continued, “I didn’t have anything to do with the Clairs apart from respect them from afar. Then, during Christmas 2016, I bumped into Shaun Clair (a third generation of the audio legacy) and I thought he was a really nice bloke. Then I was introduced to Troy (second generation) in late 2016 and by mid-2017 we got talking about what we thought might be a rather clever future for both of our companies…” Lowe added: “We decided that it would make sense to have a ‘strategic alliance’ for a few months at first, and we just worked so well together. That was something that always came up in our annual Britannia Row planning meetings. We’d discuss having a strong US relationship, but none of the companies we knew wanted to get into anything exclusive, or really work internationally. They would rather keep things loose. When we had the conversation with Troy about the strategic partnership, it rolled out very quickly and we decided to complete the acquisition as soon as possible.” Grant furthered: “We have a very similar ethos and discovered very quickly that Clair is a very family-orientated business, as are we, in our own way.” April 2018 marked the year anniversary of this hugely significant transatlantic, international deal. But what, it has to be asked, did Grant’s peers think? “I must say, all of the UK companies that we talk to and are friends with - even though we compete with each other like hell! - had the attitude of “yes, we get it; we understand what you’re doing.” I’m not sure whether they’re all totally happy with it, but they get why we made the deal. We did it because increasingly, we’re sending artists around the world with equipment, which, okay, we’ve always done but now we’re finding that more and more productions only want to deal with one company and to know that everything has been dealt with globally by one account manager, that’s what often cements deals when they’re put out to tender. “Clair has got 3 offices in the US: Lititz, Nashville and LA, plus they have a presence in Sydney and Melbourne in Australia and Switzerland and

FORGING FRIENDSHIPS “It was actually Bryan who had the relationship going back 40 years,” began Mike Lowe, Director at Britannia Row Productions when stating how the influential rental company’s origins with Clair Global began. “Gene and Roy Clair had an alliance with Dave Hartstone, who owned IES, the company I was running here in London,” Bryan Grant, Managing Director, explained. “We used to do all their gigs in Europe at the time and although I was running the company with Dave, I was kind of the kid, Dave was their contemporary, I didn’t know them well. I left IES in ‘75, went into other things & lost touch with the Clairs.” Elsewhere in London, Pink Floyd’s crew established various Britannia Row companies in 1975 - using the band’s touring equipment. Fast-forward to 1979, and New Zealand native, Grant, had found a new role at Britannia Row by joining Robbie Williams (the original) to amalgamate all of the touring companies under the umbrella of Britannia Row Productions. A management buyout from the Pink Floyd followed in 1984, Mike Lowe joined the party in 1987, and the pair bought Williams out in 199. The 71


Founding Fathers: Mike Lowe and Bryan Grant are at the hub of Britannia Row’s bustling empire.

UK in Europe. There’s Japan too, and the franchise in Argentina for South America. It gives a production manager a huge amount of comfort knowing that the tour is going to get the same level of service around the world. It’s worked for them; they remain one of these companies that somehow manage to have these face-to-face, strong relationships. And ultimately, that’s what we stand for too, we provide the best audio solutions to our clients, and we know our clients well.” Lez Dwight, Britannia Row Sales Director, joined the conversation: “An example of that scenario is that I’ve just received an email from Harry Styles’ camp who are going over to Tokyo soon. They’ve just been told that some of their RF frequencies that are in the round-the-world package will no longer work for them over there, so we’ve been able to source equipment for them in Clair Japan. That’s far easier for production than to have to shop around at other suppliers. Having a joint network with Clair is a huge bonus for our clients.” “To me, what Clair have done by buying successful companies in each major territory is very wise,” noted Grant. “A lot of artists, especially when they’re developing, do a lot of promo, and so might be in LA today, NYC tomorrow, with quite a lot of last-minute changes. Having access to facilities where you can say, “It’s taken care of” is a good position to be in for anyone.”

with.” Grant laughed: “But sound crews are the most boring people on the bus because they just talk about audio all the time - you ask any production manager! We’ve come such a bloody long way since we used to build PAs in our bedsits and we still can’t talk about anything else!” Inevitably, this level of support must have garnered some new clients, and impressed the old? “In the past, we’ve either shipped PA over to America or entered into an agreement with someone to support us with systems there. Now, we’re able to either ship from here or just source it out of America directly. It makes it so much easier for both us and Clair to do a global deal, and it’s all seamless really,” said Dwight. “Some of our legacy clients have established relationships outside of Europe with other vendors, and our new situation has given us the opportunity to take some of them back now that we can give them the same level of service around the world that they’re used to when they come to the UK.” Grant agreed: “It’s not that we’re setting out to take business, we’re simply more confident that we’ve got the resources to do our own business for our long-serving clients.” Within the aforementioned territories, Clair is established in, as a group, it’s probable that it has the largest number of L-Acoustics boxes in the world, certainly for a combined hire company. In the last year, alone, its PA inventory has doubled. Britannia Row’s warehouse, if it should ever be full, would hold over 1,000 boxes of L-Acoustic K1, K2 and KARA. What comes with it, is more staff and more training. Lowe furthered: “We’re doing a lot of on-going training with L-Acoustics in Lititz to support our staff out there. More and more of our people from both companies are training on L-Acoustics, and training is a really big thing in regards to using the Clair equipment too. Each has to be learned and understood to get the best out of the boxes, that’s what we’re able to provide.” Any L-Acoustics-specified shows in North America will come under a Britannia Row badge. “It makes sense,” said Dwight. “To have the L-Acoustics work done under the Britannia Row brand because that’s

THE HISTORICAL, THE NEW AND THE CONFIDENCE Dwight also commented on the company’s investment in itself, which surely becomes an investment in the customer: “We’re constantly upgrading our equipment. Audio engineers want the latest and greatest and our L-Acoustics gear is very new. An interesting point is that we did Chainsmokers’ US tour last year and sent gear over to America in April. It was the first time anybody had put out an L-Acoustics rig in North America with the entire system running on the new LA12X amplifiers. We pride ourselves on our packaging and that’s another thing that makes the client happy and the engineers happy. At the end of the day, the crew are all passionate about audio and so they love having the best stuff to work 72


where our expertise lies. That’s what people know us for and that’s why people want to work with us. If we do run into any problems, it can be dealt with in America and replacements can come out of Lititz; we’ve got that back up which makes for the ideal collaboration.” Speaking of collaboration, One Love Manchester was taking shape just a week after the merger was completed. “That was a great indicator of the strength of this collaboration,” said Grant. Indeed, being thrown into the limelight of the world’s stage was quite the test. “The cooperation between our crews is great. There’s this mutual respect which can’t be overstated. It’s not like: ‘we just bought this company and we’re going to do it our way’. The best idea wins. We discuss how we are going to go about things,

especially on collaborations and whatever the best fit is, whether that be equipment or people, that’s what we do, and that’s why it’s working so well so quickly. Even in the first traditionally tough first year, it’s gone brilliantly. “The business is littered with tales of companies that have been acquired by others, that have lost their customer-base and identities as a consequence. What’s really important about our Clair collaboration is that they get it; they get us; they’re an audio company in their 3rd generation of audio experts. First and foremost, its audio; that’s what we do,” he added. Is the formula really that simple here? Over the last 4 decades, perhaps looking at how wrong some businesses got it, has allowed for a clear idea of how things should be achieved… “Yes,” said Lowe. “Lots of acquisitions

Professional Used gear used gear 73


Lez Dwight, Sales Director with Nicola Amoruso, Britannia Row General Manager.

have failed dramatically in the past, and even very recently. When you look at it, it’s probably because they’ve had bankers and venture capitalists at the helm. Why did we have faith in Clair? It’s simple: they’re an audio company, this is their world.” “Lots of major companies have lost sight of the business that they’re in,” elaborated Grant. “Some are only in it for the money. Now, neither Britannia Row nor Clair are in the money business; we’re not bankers. Or even hard business people. We’re audio people. So, the first question when it comes down to our business is ‘will this make things better for our client?’ and if the answer to that question is ‘yes’, then our answer is also ‘yes’ - and we figure out how to pay for it later!”

do and what they do with their Road School to create a more cohesive programme going forwards.” Grant added: “I think an emphasis on education is a lot to do with why Clair and Britannia Row have survived for so long; we keep evolving. The principal thing is that we do audio but how we go about it and what we use - the people we train & ideally employ, and the tools we use, keep progressing. That’s what keeps it fresh for everyone.” Lowe agreed: “Apart from the fact that the market is evolving, and fresh music genres are coming up that need to be toured, it’s recently been a very healthy for concert touring as we know, but we’ve been around long enough to know that concert touring can go around in cycles, have high and lows, and so we are also very active in the events corporate and sporting markets too.” “Sports is a good example of realising what they do requires what we do,” furthered Grant. “The sporting world has suddenly realised that it needs audio, and very good audio at that; it’s not just enough to hear what the announcer is saying. Sports organisations have come to realise that they’re in the entertainment business. And that means pre-match entertainment. Television is like that - we supply a lot to corporate events and they have a huge music element to them now. We do audio principally; we’re not just a rock ’n’ roll company as many people still think.” “A good thing about staying broad is that what people learn in solving solutions in a specific market sector, they can bring into another market sector,” Grant added. “It keeps everybody mentally focussed and cross fertilising in audio solutions.” It seems that cross-fertilisation is the key to a long and healthy life when it comes to pro audio rental houses. What is vital, however, is sewing the right seeds in the right bit of land at the right time. As we’re witnessing here, the results can simply bloom. TPi Photos: TPi & Britannia Row Productions

THE EVOLUTION “There’s a very fine line between confidence and arrogance, and we like to think that we’re confident,” Lowe began. “Clair are certainly confident, but not arrogant. They’re actually a very humble & approachable bunch. We think we do things pretty well, because we’ve been doing it for over 40 years, but we can always do things better. We know that. And Clair no doubt feel the same. We’re always passing on knowledge, but that doesn’t mean we’ve stopped learning ourselves,” he said when commenting on Britannia Row’s training. “Our apprentices go through each department over 18 months and in that time, complete 32 days of dedicated classroom and practical training; 16 Saturdays and 16 Sundays. They have to pass their exams before we begin to expose them to live work. These courses – Live Sound Fundamentals and Live Sound Intermediate are also available to non-Britannia Row staff on a fee-paying basis as is our 12-week full time Live Sound Technology Course. And then there’s Our BSc Hons degree course in Live Sound Production, which is run out of South Thames College, Wandsworth with which we’re just coming to the end of our second Semester. The course is validated by Northampton University. There’s been so much to pull together with Clair that we haven’t really touched on training in this sense, but we are starting to look at what we 74

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KARA SUGDEN This month TPi speaks to one of J&C Joel’s burgeoning young talents from its Projects Department about her first-18 months with the company.

J&C Joel has been a gateway to the industry for many young professionals, taking on a selection of apprentices each year. One of the latest recruits to join the ranks is Mechanical Designer, Kara Sugden, who joined the Projects Department 18-months ago. Amid a busy design period for her teammates, Sugden spoke to TPi about her journey into the industry. “I guess you can blame my dad,” laughed Sugden, recalling how she found her way into J&C Joel. “He has his own business as a Precision Engineer. When I was growing up he would always bring his work home and there would be technical drawings lying around the house. I think that’s where my interest in mechanics really began.” While Sugden was still in her first year of A-Levels at college in Sowerby Bridge, Yorkshire, she submitted an application for a vacancy at J&C Joel. “I knew of J&C Joel as they are local to the area,” said Sugden. “I applied without any real expectations but thankfully they took me on.” She had already begun to specialise in the study of textiles at school. Now, with her J&C Joel apprenticeship, she’s become very well-versed in all the latest design software. “Before starting at J&C I had never used CAD or other 3D modelling software,” she stated. “Early on I was sent on a crash course to get to grips with the programs. But the team at J&C have been the most helpful. Everyone here has such a vast knowledge and are always willing to answer my questions.” Sugden found this method of learning on the job during the apprenticeship scheme appealing. “The option of university is always there but personally I prefer this format where I’m getting experience in my specific area of interest.” Currently, J&C Joel has 12 apprentices taking positions within various departments of the company, including Sugden. “J&C offers a variety of courses for those in various departments which take 2 years on average,” explained Sugden. “Personally I am doing a Business Administration course. It has given me knowledge of all the various documents I have to fill out each day in my role. For example, I constantly have to fill out O&M (Operations and Maintenance) Manuals. The course has really helped me with that paper work and made sure it’s up to a professional standard.” Beyond the necessary evils of paper work, Sugden discussed her other roles and responsibilities. “What’s fantastic about this role is I’m never sure what I’ll be working on next. I always focus on elements such as winches, pulleys and ladder bars of a design. But you can never predict where these sections will be used and to what effect. I’ve really enjoyed the site visits where I’ve got to see the designs, which started off on my computer, in real life. Some of the work we have done with museums has been a particular highlight, as well as the theatrical show we’ve done in the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.” Despite being relatively new to the industry, Sugden still has her sights set on career progression. “I’m really enjoying where I am right now. But in the future I would like to do more individual design work, leading it from the beginning. It would be fun to take the lead on the role.” To close, Sugden gave some words of wisdom to the next generation hoping to find their way into this sector of the industry. “It might seem obvious, but one of the best things you can do is practice. This is not a job you can simply walk off the street and do. So if you’re keen to get into design work it would be an idea to get used to 3D modelling software. Having said that, nobody should ever be intimidated to go into this side of the industry. If you interested you should give it ago – there’s no harm in trying!” TPi






d&b audiotechnik’s GSL SYSTEM

d&b audiotechnik’s Matthias Christner, Head of R&D Acoustics talks to TPi’s Ste Durham about the company’s GSL system.

Firstly, can you describe the genesis of the GSL system - what preceded it, and what influenced its development? At d&b we have always aimed to achieve the maximum possible directivity from any loudspeaker arrangement we have used in a system. The Q-Series, the J-Series, and our cardioid subs - active and passive - are well known examples of this. In fact, the idea for a broadband / full-range dispersion control evolved a long time ago during the development of the J-Series. At that time, our motivation was the reduced excitation of the reverberant field in large rooms - a point which is still very valid today. From that point of view, the GSL and the SL-Series, which delivers very precise cardioid pattern control across the entire audio bandwidth, is a natural evolution from our previous developments. Over the years, another strong motivation for developing a system with full bandwidth dispersion control came across - Noise Immission control, which is a very big issue in live sound today. Immission is the term for when something detrimental or unwanted is experienced or felt, in this case unwanted sound (noise) from a loudspeaker system. It’s increasingly important to maximise the art-to-noise ratio - maximum art for those who enjoy it, minimum noise for those who don’t - residents near a show venue, for example. Hence some preparation for the SL-Series and its properties was necessary, including the development of the d&b NoizCalc modelling software, which predicts the performance of a d&b loudspeaker system, including immissions in the far field. A similar evolution led to the enhanced rigging system, the aim of which was ‘how to rig a line array PA without sweating’! It uses a compression method of rigging, for large arrays up to 24 cabinets. It transports in

77cm dollies, fits neatly into shipping containers etc. It’s a very easy and comfortable system to rig, which means a lot in touring and festival environments. And last, but definitely not least, there was room for improvement in establishing a system infrastructure and logistical package that really suits the vast majority of users. What was the R&D process like? Did the finished product bear much resemblance to the original spec? Most of the ideas had been backed up by detailed feasibility studies long before they found their way into the SL-Series specs. So with the challenges of the applications in mind and a clear plan of how to address these, we stayed very close to what we wanted to achieve. Nevertheless, this development also brought up some interesting new ideas that we will be investigating more deeply in the future. Please can you detail some of the system’s key features? Are there any brand new attributes or is it more of an organic update of previous boxes? The first key feature is the broadband dispersion control. The GSL8 / GSL12 arrays produce a full-range constant directivity behaviour. This is achieved using a combination of technologies, including cardioid techniques in the lower frequency range. It rejects energy towards the rear and significantly reduces the excitation of the reverberant field. Indoors, this means minimised reflections and a more comfortable onstage environment; outdoors, it means less noise immission. Although in overall performance terms the GSL is a big step forward from previous systems, I consider this 78


level of control to be an evolution from what we have achieved before, both in terms of the feature itself, and also of the insights and thinking we developed with our cardioid subwoofers. Secondly, the entire system exhibits enhanced dynamic response and energy efficiency. Although this is an obvious target, it requires a lot of detailed developments to achieve it. Almost all of the developments have been “practised” before and can be found in other recent developments. Thirdly, the rigging and transport solution is a clear evolution from where we come from, with the drawbacks of the previous situation, the requirements of today’s production environments and the knowledge of the mechanical engineering, all in the same heads! However, it’s important to note that this is not just an update, or a bigger J-Series: it is a new benchmark in SPL and acoustic performance, with highly accurate dispersion control which genuinely breaks new ground. The full range capability of the GSL is such that subwoofers are often unnecessary, especially in flown configurations. For example, the GSL delivers 9dB more than the J-Series at 50Hz.

tour. During the 2017 field tests we received a lot of confidence from system techs, engineers, rental companies, even festival promoters, who clearly recognised the system’s potential, even though we had to improvise from time to time. But that’s what these tests are for... Where does this system fit, both in d&b’s product offering and the wider industry? Within d&b’s product portfolio, GSL is our biggest ever line array system. It sits above the J-Series in its application range, both in terms of acoustical performance and in handling and deployment. In the context of the wider industry, it clearly targets the larger scale applications, from arenas to stadia and larger festivals. However, its feature set will also be attractive when it comes to achieving intelligibility and clarity in various kinds of reverberant spaces. High-profile UK and US rental companies have already taken delivery of the system and it has appeared on several tours. What has the feedback been like? These pre-launch early adopters have all contributed to the final system tuning and to improvements in the processing and workflow. A lot of feedback was gathered, averaged and found its way into the product. As the process has gone on, suggestions for changes have decreased to nearly zero, while the raving comments about it on social media have increased. It seems to work somehow! Feedback has been extremely positive. The rear rejection is so striking that FOH engineers have reported that the monitor engineers have asked them, ‘Is the system on?’. The SL-Series has been taken up very quickly worldwide and it is clear that it is already highly valued as a system that has significantly raised the bar in the professional large-scale sound reinforcement community.

It’s been almost a year since the GSL (discreetly, of course) made its way onto some of Europe’s premier festival stages. How has the system and requisite software developed since then? We did the field tests in 2 stages. A ‘Proto1’ system was touring Germany, Austria and Switzerland in late 2016. This was mainly to do the necessary tests and iterations on the rigging system and transport / handling solutions. At that stage, a number of the processing details were not yet automated or properly integrated in the d&b Workflow and had to be done manually. Then during the 2017 festival season we did the final tuning of the processing. Both test periods gave us massive input. Luckily, there were no big surprises requiring fundamental reworking of the system. Of course, lots of details have improved since the start of the tests. In parallel to the test periods we also verified the improvements in noise immission control and have had some very satisfying successes in that field.

Finally, on which events / tours can we expect to see the GSL over the summer? Wacken Open Air - all 3 main stages will make good use of the noise immission control! Simple Minds are using GSL on their European tour. In the States, it was used on the recent Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas, and Kenny Chesney is touring with it this summer. TPi

How closely did you collaborate with system techs / end users to develop the product? Could you give details of this? The ‘Proto1’ test phase saw very close collaborations with artist production, sound engineers, system techs, rental companies and so on. We had daily discussions on details of the rigging and transport system; we worked on redesigns and finally even exchanged individual components during the 79



Mexico, even if I was fizzing a bit. Talk about feeling the energy in the room! Playing a karaoke bar (after driving 6-hours out of our way to get to it - and no, we’re not going backwards at this point!) only to be told by the owner of the venue that we can’t use the in-house PA system. Ideal. Oh, hold on, they can give us a small, powered mixer. It’s barely working and there’s no cables to go with it though. Surreal. I am not a wizard. Like most tours of this size do, we make it work. We are in fact all wizards. At the gig, everyone pretends they’re at band practice! It actually works out okay. People dance. I consider getting a Harry Potter tattoo on my head. The most fun & most memorable day happens in Manchester, New Hampshire. Strangely, it’s the anniversary of the Manchester (UK) arena bombing. I’m Greek but England is now my home and Manchester is my chosen city. For some reason, I’m on edge. I’m waiting for something to happen. Maybe being in America’s Manchester is too much of a coincidence. Maybe I’m over-thinking. I’m probably over-thinking. From the moment doors open, it’s jam-packed. The vibe is incredible. All the punters go crazy. I remember that I’m now a wizard. There are people crowd surfing in every direction. Not only that, but everyone is really polite and genuinely happy that we’ve come to their city. Just what I needed! Suddenly, it dawns on me: it doesn’t really matter that I’m thousands of miles away from my Manchester. When you’re in this kind of gig setting, it always feel like home. I hear there is a warmth and positivity flowing through Manchester, England, that day that I felt in New Hampshire. My diary ends like this: I’m happy to continue playing trailer Tetris, advancing shows - with incredibly late replies! - and patching cables in, for as long as I’m able, becasue at the end of the day, no matter what is thrown your way on a tour, regardless of its size, budget or scale, if you want to be on the road and touring the world, you’ll make things happen. After all, if the band has fans, you have a show to mix and that’s the real slice of magic! Marios Sozos, honourary Manc

I’ve been on a North American run with Ingested for about 7 weeks as I write this diary entry for TPi. It’s by far been the most fun I’ve had in all my years of touring, and I still have 3 weeks left to go at the time this magazine goes to print. Lucky me! In true DIY, no thoughts barred style, here’s some of the comical and significant moments of the tour so far: Getting driven around by a maniac in Mexico who keeps missing the exits off the motorway. Ah, ‘maniac’ is a bit harsh I hear you say. You’re wrong; he’s reversing backwards up said exits in order to ‘unmiss’ them. Haha. Hmmm. As you might imagine, it’s somewhat intense. Being electrocuted whilst mixing the band because the desk wasn’t grounded at our show in Leon... It did prove to be the most fun show in



FORCED LABOUR? MODERN SLAVERY? IN LIVE EVENTS? REALLY? We go to a lot of meetings, we attend quite a few conferences too and sometimes, something slips onto the agenda from left field.

Take forced labour, we know it exists, we know it’s awful but are we 100% certain that it’s not happening right under our noses, perhaps after we leave site after another gruelling festival job. A couple of months ago, Loudsound’s Dan Craig was doing a sterling job, chairing the International Production Meeting at the ILMC Conference in London, he took the opportunity to raise the subject of forced labour, sharing a paper prepared by Professor Gary Craig, who happens to be Dan’s dad, the paper had previously been presented to a national meeting of police forces concerned with the possible emergence of forced labour (a growing form of modern slavery) within the UK at music festivals, particularly in relation to cleaning and site ‘recovery’ after events but also possibly amongst the less formal end of suppliers on site. We thought it was worth sharing.

However, significant challenges remain in applying this definition within the contemporary economy. ‘Menace of penalty’ covers many coercive practices affecting lack of freedom of choice to enter or remain in a work situation, including deception and psychological control. The ILO developed six key indicators of forced labour as follows:

i. Threats or actual physical harm to the worker. ii. Restriction of movement and confinement, to the workplace or to a limited area. iii. Debt bondage: where the worker works to pay off a debt or loan, and is not paid for his or her services. The employer may provide food and accommodation at such inflated prices that the worker cannot escape the debt. iv. Withholding of wages or excessive wage reductions that violate previously-made agreements. v. Retention of passports and identity documents, so that the worker cannot leave, or prove his/her identity and status. vi. Threat of denunciation to the authorities, where the worker is in an irregular immigration status.

FORCED LABOUR AND HOW TO SPOT IT The ILO defines slavery, including forced labour, as being distinguished from poor working conditions by the aspect of coercion, ‘any situation in which the person has no real and acceptable alternative but to submit to the abuse involved.’ Any definition of slavery involves boundary difficulties, but this does give us some basis for assessing the scope of modern slavery. 81


Our research on forced labour, part of the wider programme of research funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation: identified further possible indicators of forced labour: 14 questionable (though not always illegal) practices were identified:

13. Tie-Ins: accommodation Issues: Migrants are housed in over-crowded accommodation; many are trapped in this accommodation because of the high proportion of their wages that are used to pay for it; NMW accommodation offset regulations and HMO (houses of multiple occupancy) regulations do not appear to be making much headway in improving migrants housing outcomes.

1. Upfront fees and debt bondage Issues: Payment of upfront agency fees for travel, work and accommodation; use of fees to create indebtedness and dependence.

14. Tie-Ins: money Issue: By holding on to workers’ wages employers tie migrants in and reproduce a sense of dependency.

2. Threats and bullying Issues: Verbal abuse; racism; sexism.

Each practice is, on its own, necessary but will rarely be sufficient to constitute forced labour. Having said this, it was unusual for a practice to exist in isolation.

3. Disciplining through dismissal Issues: Use of dismissal to avoid paying workers; use of dismissal to discipline workers and regulate unwanted behaviour.

Key issues which emerge from this and other research include the following: 1. Forced labour became a stand-alone offence in the 2009 Coroners and Justices Act, thus separating it from the issue of trafficking. This is key as many of those in forced labour have not been trafficked into the UK being either EU nationals with a right to work here or indeed UK nationals; either may have fallen into forced labour from situations of legal employment as a result of manipulation, deceit and coercion. Lack of understanding of UK laws, regulations and the English language are contributory factors.

4. Productivity targets and workplace surveillance Issues: Unrealistic productivity targets; excessive pace of work; excessive surveillance and control of workers. 5. Overwork Issues: Very long hours; no work-life balance. 6. No breaks Issues: Denial or limiting of daily breaks; lack of holiday entitlement.

2. Trafficking is often linked to immigration policy and this is largely inappropriate for forced labour situations. Forced labour needs to be understood as an extreme form of exploitation whether or not there is trafficking involved. Focus is also needed on the nature of the triangular relationship between employer, labour supplier/agency and worker.

7. Non- and under-payment of wages Issues: Working without any pay; systematic underpayment; payment below the NMW 8.

Under-work and indebtedness Issues: Promises of work do not materialise; migrants are given just enough work to be able to pay agency charges; migrants are kept in debt to render them dependent upon an agent.

9. Deductions and charges Issues: Migrants having to pay agents for work; deductions for transport and accommodation that result in ‘zero-wages’ work.

3. Some victims of forced labour may have been manipulated or coerced; some may have knowingly accepted conditions and/or risks associated with particular forms of work (at least initially), often motivated by monetary gain; or forced labour may develop from situations where employers and workers knowingly engage in illegal activity. Almost always, workers become vulnerable and fearful of complaining. Measures to curb forced labour need to pay attention to the calculation of risk in which workers engage.

10. Documentation abuses Issues: Confiscation of passport as a means of keeping workers; insisting on migrants doing informal and undeclared work.

4. The Modern Slavery Act incorporates this legislation and all other relevant legislation relating to modern slavery: sentences can be as high as life imprisonment.

11. Threat of denunciation Issues: How to ensure employers do not use migrants’ irregular status to exploit them; How to deal with the large population of irregular migrant workers in the UK.

5. Available evidence suggests that the numbers of people in the UK experiencing forced labour may run into the thousands. There are estimated by government to be up to 13,000 people in forms of modern slavery in the UK at any one time but this is widely agreed to be a substantial underestimate.

12. Tie-Ins: work permits Issues: Workers feel tied to an employer because of their visa status; employers abuse workers knowing that they are unlikely to leave their job.

6. Likely elements within forced labour include low-skill manual and low paid work; temporary agency work; specific industrial sectors; and certain non-UK migrant workers. 82


7. There is evidence of forced labour in the industries currently covered by the Gangmasters Licensing Authority. However forced labour is occurring in other sectors as well, including significant ones, such as care, construction and hospitality. It is always worth contacting the GLA ( for advice as they can be very helpful in deciding on strategy and may be prepared to take part in joint operations. Forced labour was also made an offence under labour provider licensing, through the Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004. The GLA’s remit is currently being extended to cover, in principle, the whole of the labour market.

an annual turnover of £36M+ to report annually to shareholders as to what they are doing to remove modern slavery from their supply chains. Although this may capture very few of the companies involved in supplying labour for the kinds of operations we are talking about today, informing companies that this clause now exists may serve as a reminder that judicial nets are tightening. An analysis of the supply chains (either labour or services) provided in any industry may point to areas where worker vulnerability and therefore criminality are most likely to occur. The greatest vulnerability is likely to occur where so-called flexibility occurs in the labour market.

8. Only the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) and National Referral Mechanism (NRM) have systems to record cases of forced labour. More than 3300 people were referred into the National Referral Mechanism in 2014 ( and data from the last few years suggests that labour exploitation is becoming a more serious issue than trafficking for sexual exploitation, a pattern repeated across Europe.

Some of the key indicators you may spot include the following: o A person being accompanied by someone who appears controlling, giving information on behalf of that person. o Someone withdrawn and submissive, afraid to speak to someone in authority

9. The definition and scope of forced labour are poorly understood, including differences between it, human trafficking, slavery and exploitation. Consensus is needed on forced labour indicators relevant for assessing the scope and scale of forced labour in the UK, and to assist legal proceedings. Relatively little case law exists and the judiciary remains poorly equipped to deal with modern slavery legislation.

o Giving a vague and inconsistent explanation of where they live o May have old or untreated injuries o Is not registered with healthcare providers

10. The list of countries from which most victims of trafficking or forced labour come remains relatively consistent: top of the list generally includes Poland, Rumania,

o Has no identity documents o Has frequent experience of being moved nationally or internationally

Albania, Nigeria, China, Slovakia and Vietnam although the association with differing forms of modern slavery will vary from one country to another.

o General physical neglect Various studies, and workplace enforcement agencies’ records, show convergence in the sectors, types of work and workers most likely to be exploited. Likely features include low-skill manual and low-paid work; temporary agency work; sectors such as food production and processing, construction, industrial work, hospitality and leisure, and social care; and involving certain non-UK migrant workers and others in vulnerable situations. Although severe exploitation is associated with labour intermediaries (‘gangmasters’ and temporary work agencies), forced labour is also found in direct employment. Clause 54 of the Modern Slavery Act now requires all companies with

o Poor or no grasp of English language o May not be handling their own money. The author of the report is available for consultation/awareness raising/ training on this and other aspects of modern slavery. TPi

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Martin Tremblay, Solotech’s CEO is pleased to announce the appointment of Mickey Curbishley as President of Solotech’s US Rental Division. With over 20 years experience in the entertainment industry, Curbishley has helped with the production needs of Madonna, Prince, Lady Gaga, Roger Waters, Taylor Swift, Bon Jovi and The Eagles, to name a few. Curbishley began his career in the mid 80’s and has filled leadership roles for some of the biggest names within the touring industry. Most recently, he was Senior Vice President of Touring at TAIT Towers, and it is this leadership experience that brings him to Solotech. “As a Senior Executive with over 20 years of experience in the entertainment and music industry, Mickey will be a major addition to our Executive Team,” said Tremblay. “The US market represents significant growth opportunities for Solotech in the future, and Mickey will be instrumental in implementing our growth strategy in the United States.” Martin Audio has appointed Erikson Pro as the company’s exclusive distributor for Canada. Part of JAM Industries, Erikson Pro also distributes brands such as Allen & Heath, Audient, Chauvet Professional, Martin by Harman and Illuminarc.

Commenting on the new relationship, Erikson Pro Vice President Christian Bouchard said: “We’ve been looking at Martin Audio for some time and have been intent on pursuing the line because of their innovative and appealing products that have the potential to be very successful in the Canadian market. Going to the UK and experiencing the line in person really convinced us in terms of the Martin Audio sound signature being so uniform, from the smallest point source speakers to the largest line arrays. They have unique technology like Hard Avoid and the capacity to control the signal over specific areas. A lot of engineering went into products such as MLA and Wavefront Precision, and Martin Audio really has an edge over other manufacturers in terms of coverage and control.” VUE Audiotechnik is pleased to announce the appointment of seasoned sound engineer and production expert, Shawn London, to the position of Touring Sound Sales Manager. London’s responsibilities in his new role will be two-fold – broaden VUE’s sound company partner network, whilst also expanding relationships with FOH and system engineers. As VUE’s touring market ambassador, he will drive market demand by presenting the superior performance and benefits VUE systems. 84 • +44 208 986 5002


Opposite: Solotech’s Mickey Curbishley; Vue Audiotechnik’s Shawn London; Martin Audio’s Paul Giansante and Lee Stein with Claus Frostell and Christian Bouchard from Erikson Pro. Below: AC-ET Irland‘s Aaron Cripps and AC-ET’s David Legget; Eugene Yeo and Glenn Lin of Acoustic & Lighting Systems; Sterling Event Group Directors, Richard Nicholson, Jessica Baynes, Richard Bowden, Dan Charmer and Paul Davies.

“Interest in al-Class line arrays has increased exponentially as exposure through artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Third Eye Blind and Pharrell Williams brings our capabilities into a global spotlight,” remarked VUE CEO Ken Berger. “I’m thrilled to welcome Shawn to VUE and am confident that our customers around the globe will feel his presence immediately.” Prior to joining VUE, London was live sound and touring business development manager for Allen & Heath, as well as house audio engineer at the El Ray, Fonda Roxy and Fox Theaters in Los Angeles. His pro audio pedigree includes 20 years of engineering and production experience in both studio and live environments. A.C. Entertainment Technologies Ltd. (AC-ET) has a new sister company, A.C. Entertainment Technologies Ireland. The new company, registered in Dublin, will have a long-term commitment to supporting customers of its growing portfolio of brands. Aaron Cripps has been appointed as Managing Director. Based in County Limerick, he previously acted as AC-ET’s representative for Ireland. Prior to this Cripps has also worked as an Account Manager in the International Sales division of AC-ET. On his new appointment, Cripps stated: “I am really looking forward to building the A.C. Entertainment Technologies Ireland business. The company has access to a fantastic portfolio of cutting edge brands covering lighting, rigging, audio and video system needs, so will offer its customers the same convenience of a ‘one-stop shop’ of products and services that AC-ET’s customers have been receiving for years.” Elation Professional is pleased to announce that lighting control

specialist Menno Appelhof has joined the company with the aim of growing the M-Series brand of lighting controllers in the European market. Elation acquired the M-Series range of entertainment lighting controllers from Harman Professional in March. Appelhof has been a lighting console specialist since 2004 and has developed a wealth of relationships and valuable experience since joining the entertainment technology industry in the early 1990s. His position at Elation encompasses maintaining contact with the current M-Series customer base while growing the M-Series network of users and partners in Europe. He is a familiar face in the lighting controller milieu and comes to Elation from a similar position at Fairlight, the Dutch sound and lighting company that also distributes the M-Series. “After working 4 years with M-Series at the Dutch distributor, it makes me proud to be part of the Elation family and have the opportunity to make something great out of the M-Series. I look forward to working closely with all of Elation’s partners. There are many amazing things that together we can and will do!” said Appelhof. DPA Microphones has announced 2 significant appointments. Acoustic & Lighting Systems is to handle the distribution of its entire product range in Singapore and Thailand. And, in a move that will allow it to get even closer to its customer base in the live, PA and MI markets, DPA has also appointed Arcadia Tech as a direct dealer in Singapore. Ken Kimura, Managing Director of DPA’s APAC Office, said: “We are excited to have both companies looking after DPA and are confident this move will benefit more professional users in the regional audio community 85 • +44 208 986 5002


Below: Adamson Systems Engineering’s Ayumi Hanano

as our upgraded mics with the CORE by DPA Technology is being introduced in both territories.” Headquartered in Malaysia and with offices in Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand, Acoustic & Lighting Systems (A&L) is considered a prominent audio visual and lighting company in South East Asia. Established in 1993 as a live sound company, A&L has expanded over the years to encompass broadcast and, more recently, the corporate AV sector where it sees plenty of potential for growth. This is the first time A&L Singapore and Thailand have worked with a major microphone manufacturer and both teams are looking forward to promote the DPA product range and the latest microphone techniques. Commenting on the appointment of his company as a DPA direct dealer, Arcadia Tech’s managing director, Ron Koh, said: “DPA has always been a standard to look up to when purchasing microphones and with today’s requirement for content, quality audio products such as DPA are always going to be in demand from independent content creators who are always looking to get their hands on the latest professional tools and upgrades.” Adamson Systems Engineering is pleased to announce the appointment of Ayumi Hanano as Education and Support Coordinator for the Asia-Pacific region. In her new role, Hanano will be assisting Adamson’s APAC team with technical support and is now the first point of contact for all training inquiries and initiatives in the region. “Ayumi has already proven herself to be a valuable addition to our diverse international team,” said David Dohrmann, Adamson’s Technical Director for the APAC region. “She’s incredibly smart, a strong brand ambassador, and will be a major asset as we continue gaining traction in the Asian markets and increase our global focus on education and training.” Hanano has already overseen the delivery of Adamson’s Applied Certification training for hundreds of attendees in several countries and will soon begin presenting Adamson’s recently launched Advanced Certification training as well. She’ll also be spearheading technical support for Adamson partners and users throughout the region. Allen & Heath USA and its distributor, American Music & Sound, have appointed Image Marketing West to serve as their manufacturers’ representative covering Northern California. Chuck Rufkahr, Image Marketing West President, said, “Allen & Heath has been a major player in the audio mixing world since they came on the scene in the late 1960s. We are quite excited to be chosen to represent the company. With their stellar range of products on our line card, we now have winning solutions for projects and applications of all sizes. As much of the Image Marketing West team comes from an audio engineering background, we really understand just how intuitive and flexible Allen & Heath products are - we’re ready to hit the road and start demoing from ZED to dLive!” Sterling Event Group has announced a new company leadership structure with the appointment of 3 new directors. Former Senior Project Managers Paul Davies and Richard Nicholson and former Head of Vision Dan Charmer, have been promoted internally to Company Directors. The 3 new directors have worked at the Manchester based company for a combined 19 years and their promotions are in line with the company’s ongoing growth strategy. Current Director Jessica Baynes and Managing Director Richard Bowden are delighted to welcome the new directors to the board. Bowden commented: “They each possess varied and extensive industry experience and are focused on developing our offering and taking Sterling to the next level.” Sterling Event Group also bolstered its team with an addition of 7 new team members in 2017 and a further 6 new staff in the first half of 2018, a record level of recruits for one of the North West’s leading technical event production companies, taking the total head count at its south Manchester headquarters to 38 with plans for further positions to be added throughout 2018. Recent appointments include 2 experienced set builders, technicians and a technical manager all of which strengthen Sterling’s offering as a full service technical production company. Bowden continued: “All of the 13 new recruits joined the business at an exciting time of growth and I’m confident their skills and experience will be crucial in helping us continue our success throughout 2018. In the coming months, we plan to triple the capacity of our warehousing facilities, invest heavily in more of the very latest equipment and further develop our team allowing us to better serve the needs of our clients”. TPi

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JOHN DIXON Flight Case Manufacturer, Scott Dixon Inc

cases for musical instruments again, out of the same material which would provide a level of security for air travel and road use.

How have you seen the industry change its preference to flight cases over the years? There are a number of case companies that have turned to injection moulded and rotor moulded plastic cases which are currently on the marke, but at the same time, the plywood cases are still going strong because of preferential use by established users of the conventional cases. You’ve recently finished a new product line. How will this add to your family of products? As the result of our work with Allen & Heath in designing cases for their C1500 and SQ5/6 range, we were able to finalise the development of our speaker cabinet range because of the tooling we designed and developed to produce their bespoke cases. We are thrilled to shortly be releasing this line and it will compliment all the other cases we have developed with lightweight construction. We have been working closely with John Verity (former Argent member) to fine-tune the cabs to produce a big sound within a small cabinet for guitar and bass players. This product has a massive weight difference against the conventional wooden cabs and flight cases but provides a sound like no other. We have also developed a range of PA cabs to compliment the whole series.

Like many company owners, you started out as a musician. How did you venture into the flight case manufacturing business? I played in weekend bands and did several tours but I also worked in a music shop where I used to make standard cases for guitars. I saw a lot of guitars coming into the shop that had been damaged, and even my own guitar neck was snapped. It got me thinking; how could I make a stronger case? I started by making plywood cases for my own guitars, amp heads, cabs and rack units. I went to a music show in 1976 and took one of my custom guitar cases with me. A guitar manufacturer saw them and asked me to make some cases...

You’re holding a charity auction later this year. What is it in aid of? The charity Rock Against Trafficking which was established by Gary Miller and Andy Fraser (bassist from Free) and they are currently selling a new CD to benefit the charity with a number of big-name artists on the album.

You don’t create your portfolio out of a traditional material, do you? No, our cases are bespoke and made from lightweight, durable aircraft grade aluminium with a special pattern rolled into the material for added strength. This came about after making cases for the like of the BBC and Yorkshire Television; they asked for cases as strong as plywood, but lightweight. They had shown me their current cases made in aluminium plate were heavy. I looked at the aluminium products on the market and found one that was lighter and extremely strong. We began using that product for a military contract that we had and those cases went through a number of stringent tests (fire, drop, waterproof etc). It was at that time I realised I could make

What are some of the key moments in your career so far? And do you have goals for 2018? Key moments for the music side of my life were meeting some incredible artists who some have become close friends and provide input for new designs and products. I am lucky that I can let my imagination run wild and develop new products such as our patented Aluminium Triple Row Guitar range, speaker cabinets, plus our custom designs. 2018 is my year of development and I hope to have more products to announce before the year is out! 90

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27/5/18 15:24:50

TPi June 2018 - #226  

Eurovision Song Contest, Blossoms, Fast & Furious Live, Ultra Festival Highlights

TPi June 2018 - #226  

Eurovision Song Contest, Blossoms, Fast & Furious Live, Ultra Festival Highlights