TPi June 2019 - #238

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Three decades on and still pushing the limits of live touring production.



JUNE 2019 #238

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Any spare tent pegs? Just like that, it’s time to put another issue of TPi to print, and according to the calendar on my desk, we are now part way through 2019… how?! And with the longer days it can only mean one thing - festival season is here. Lyndsey and Jacob have already ticked one off their 2019 festival hit-list, attending the second ever All Points East in London [coverage which you’ll have to wait till our July issue I’m afraid] and in the coming weeks we’ll also be onsite at Download, Parklife and Glastonbury… now if only I can remember where I put that tent. But before heading into the great outdoors, there has been plenty of interesting things going on under the roofs of some of the UK’s biggest venues. Not least with this month’s cover stars, Take That. Over their three-decade history, the group have graced the TPi cover a number of times thanks to their innovation in the world of live productions. Well you’ll be glad to hear this innovation still exists with their Greatest Hits Live tour as Mark found out. Else where, Jacob pulled double duty, putting together two production profiles for The Specials and the Gods of Rap tour. The former saw the Ska legends hit the road in support of their latest album Encore. Meanwhile Gods of Rap saw three titans of the hip-hop scene - De La Soul, Public Enemy and Wu-Tang Clan – join forces for a production that certainly left an impact. Meanwhile I trained it up to Glasgow to see Hugh Jackman – yes that Hugh Jackman – present his latest live tour. Although a distinct lack of adamantium claws, the show did feature the a-list actor tap dance to AC/DC - need I say more. I also got the chance to sit down with SSE Audio Group’s John Penn to talk about last year’s announcement of the Solotech acquisition and the future ambitions of the company. Without further ado, I’ll leave you to enjoy our June edition. Now seriously, where did I put that tent. Stew Hume Editor

EDITOR Stew Hume Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8385 Mobile: +44 (0)7702 054344 e-mail:

STAFF WRITER Jacob Waite Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8385 Mobile: +44 (0)7592 679612 e-mail:

ADVERTISING EXECUTIVE Lyndsey Hopwood Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7800 557094 e-mail:


DIGITAL EDITORIAL ASSISTANT James Robertson Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7725 475 819 e-mail:


COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR Hannah Eakins Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7760 485230 e-mail:

PRINTED BY Buxton Press •

CHIEF EXECUTIVE Justin Gawne Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7768 850767 e-mail: GRAPHIC DESIGN & PRODUCTION Dan Seaton: Zoe Willcox:

ACCOUNTS Lynette Levi / Sarah Miller:

• Climbing- or Standard Hoist • Overload Protection with Patented Friction Clutch • Direct Control or Contactor Control • Light And Compact Design • Precise Chain Guide • Textil Chain Bag • Several Models on Stock


COVER Take That by Sarah Womack

Issue 237 - May 2019 Annual subscriptions (including P&P): £42 (UK), £60 (Europe), £78/$125 (RoW). Subscription enquiries to: Subscriptions, Mondiale Publishing Limited, Strawberry Studios, Watson Square, Stockport, SK1 3AZ, UK. Tel: +44 (0)161 476 5580 Fax: +44 (0)161 476 0456 e-mail:

TOTAL PRODUCTION INTERNATIONAL is a controlled circulation magazine, published 12 times a year by Mondiale Media Limited under licence. ISSN 1461-3786 Copyright © 2019 Mondiale Media 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 Media 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 Media Limited United Kingdom. The 2019 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 Media Ltd. Waterloo Place, Watson Square, Stockport, SK1 3AZ, UK.


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08 First Aid Kit A d&b audiotechnik KSL System wows the Swedish folk duo’s hometown gig. 12 Miss USSR UK 2019 Light Design delivers spectacular production for the competition. 16 Jay Chou Britannia Row supplies the UK’s largest indoor rig for the Taiwanese superstar. 18

Highlite Group The company opens its doors for a month of Infinity Chimp training.


Sven Väth at Cocoon Prague A Funktion-One system sounds the 20th anniversary of the Czech showcase.

Fog is our passion! NEW: Cobra 3.1





Take That Mark Cunningham discovers the innerworkings of the spherical Odyssey.


Hugh Jackman The A-list actor hits the road with his outlandish world tour blending cabaret, theatre and rock ‘n’ roll.


Gods of Rap Hip-hop pioneers, DJ Premier, De La Soul, Public Enemy and Wu-Tang Clan join forces for a live spectacular.


The Specials The Coventry outfit celebrate their first number one album and 40 years on the road with an impressive live offering.


Eurovision Song Contest 2019 Production highlights from the 64th annual song competition .

FESTIVAL FOCUS 84 The latest news from this year’s festival season.


Stew sits down with SSE Audio’s John Penn to see what the future holds for the Redditch audio specialists.


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TPi looks at the latest innovations in the microphone capsules market.



110 Ayrton’s Jerad Garza, unveils the company’s Khamsin fixture. 112 Powersoft Project Manager, Klas Dalbjorn, discusses the X4L’s capabilities.

PRODUCTION FUTURES 104 Clive Wilson reports on Backstage Academy’s Graduate Showcase.

PSA: THE BIGGER PICTURE 114 Andy presents his hypothesis the so-called skills gap.



116 The latest movers and shakers.

BACK CHAT 122 Fireplay Co-Founder and CEO, Nick Whitehouse, takes the hot seat.

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FIRST AID KIT KICKS OFF WITH KSL AT THE ERICSSON GLOBE ARENA The Swedish folk duo, wows 12,000 fans at Ericsson Globe, Sweden with a d&b audiotechnik KSL System, supplied by Soundforce Scandinavia.

First Aid Kit’s latest sold-out show at Ericsson Globe marked the Swedish debut of the new d&b KSL System, on its first outing from concert audio supplier, Soundforce Scandinavia, which purchased KSL from Arva Trading. Soundforce’s System Tech, Anders Molund, had an existing relationship with the group, touring with them through Scandinavia: “The band’s production wanted to use the SL-Series, and we’d just taken delivery of the KSL System – it was like a Christmas gift. – so I suggested we use a GSL, KSL and SL-SUB System for the Globe gig.” Molund set about designing a KSL and GSL solution for the tour. The main L-R Arrays consisted of GSL8s and GSL12s, complemented with

outhang arrays of KSL8s and KSL12s. d&b V-Series provided frontfill. On amplification duties were a series of D80 with a DS10 audio network bridge. “The SL Series is a very fast-paced and flexible system, where with relatively few boxes we get full coverage in the whole Globe,” he continued. “The KSL arrays really impress when it comes to output, full-range capability and their detailed, balanced sound even at long distance. They possess a very similar character to the bigger GSL System. The SL-Series’ extended low-end response helped reduce the number of subs on tour. “We used 12 SL-SUBs for the Globe arena, with a total of 56 top speakers - this is a really low ratio of subs,” explained Molund. “The SL08


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Series is a big improvement over most systems when it comes to clarity and “It performs almost identically to the GSL. The rear rejection and headroom in all frequencies, but particularly in the high-mid and highs.” pattern control is probably the best you can get at the moment. It makes With its striking dome architecture, the Ericsson Globe is known for life on stage a lot easier.” presenting acoustic challenges, leading Molund and the team to d&b Molund commented: “The cardioid performance of both GSL and KSL intelligent software solutions. is extremely good. It really helps with controlling issues with room reflexes “At the Globe Arena, I had a very good result immediately with the and also there is almost no chance of any feedback or ‘bleed’ issues back to settings derived from my ArrayCalc file regarding time delay and levels,” performers on stage. Even in a small venue with low clearance, where the Molund continued. “There is almost an undetectable transfer from the KSL arrays where flown very low and almost ‘on stage’, we had no problem GSL coverage to the KSL coverage when you walk the arena. This, and the getting the vocals and the acoustic guitars loudly and clearly out even at advantages of ArrayProcessing, means that the clarity is so much better at the back, some 45-50m out. a distance and in most cases you do not need to hang delay arrays where “The cardioid back rejection and the precise coverage pattern in the you previously used to do so.” entire frequency range actually ‘clean up’ a lot Collaborating with Molund on rigging the of that ‘arena boominess’ and low to low end “The SL-Series is a big SL System was Björn Carlsson and Christoffer ‘rumble’ that you are so familiar with in many Pinnen Malmqvist. FOH Engineer, Benkt venues.” improvement over most Söderberg was at the controls for the Ericsson He concluded: “I have mixed on big-name systems when it comes to Globe gig, alongside Nick Boulton from BCS systems all over the world when touring and I Audio. must say that with ArrayProcessing, d&b and clarity and headroom in all “KSL has an extremely consistent tonality the SL-series is clearly the leader now.” frequencies, but particularly in throughout the area of coverage,” said Boulton. TPi “It means I can be confident that if it sounds Photos: Timothy Gottlieb the high-mid and highs.” good at FOH, it’ll probably sound just as good Soundforce System Tech everywhere else, including the cheap seats at Anders Molund the edge of coverage! 10


LIGHT DESIGN DELIVERS SPECTACULAR PRODUCTION FOR MISS USSR UK 2019 Light Design supplies a truly beautiful video, lighting, audio and décor production for MISS USSR UK at Hilton Park Lane Hotel, London.

Through an existing client’s referral, Light Design was highly recommended, to MISS USSR UK CEO Julia Titova, to deliver the production for MISS USSR UK 2019. Following a production briefing, Terry Lewsey, Light Design’s Senior Project Manager and company owner, set about working a design and specification that would deliver the core aims of this project. The show which featured GRAMMY Award winning composer Dave Yaden performing live on piano, X Factor star Irina Dedyuk singing as well as being the Host for the evening. Other performers consisted of Russian singer and actress, Anastasia Stotskaya, soloist Tony Moore, Boney M Singer and Sheila Bonnick. The night also had speeches and introductions throughout the evening for this formal fully seated dinner function, all having individual production requirements for this fashion themed beauty pageant. With all the complex aspects being taken in consideration, specifically the importance of key front lighting to work for the fashion catwalk, Light

Design set about building a 3D model to present to its clients gaining their trust and showing them its vision. During the design process Terry Lewsey from Light Design in the role of Senior Project Manager worked through several designs and redesigns with the MISS USSR UK core team comprising of Project Manager and International Producer Izabelle Urumyants, Creative Producer and Show Host Irina Dedyuk, Show Caller Olga Kravchenko, and CEO and Owner Julia Titova to find a suitable production specification to fit both the high expectations of the show, suitability for such an iconic venue, whilst keeping the show within budget. The final agreed specification and design centred around a T shaped catwalk stage 8m by 4m with a 2m by 5m catwalk extension full carpeted and draped by event décor company Main Event Productions. Stage Lighting and Video design consisted of an impressive line-up of industry standard brands of fixtures and control equipment. The video element 12

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of the show operated by Media Server Operator, Phil Blue, consisted of a 5.76mm by 3.45m main back screen all using our 6mm High Resolution black faced LED screen panels. Video control and processing consisting of 2 Green Hippo Amba Plus V4 media servers fitted with HD-SDI capture cards, Novastar MCTRL 660 processing with Barco Image Pro2 scalers. The whole show was run with live and backup servers scaling and processing at every point, all with Cat6 high speed data looms to facilitate all the necessary in and outputs required for the shows video requirements and live HD camera feeds which was operated by Light Design Video Technician and Cameraman, Michael Yetton. Lewsey designed the lighting rig and pre-vis designs which were all drawn up and rendered in wysiwyg R42. The whole show was ready to go before we arrived on site with only position movements and minor changes being made on the day by LD and operator, Aziz Adilkhodjaev. Inhouse rigging company Production Plus provided a slick mini-beam trussing solution, for the room wash and video wall trusses. Light Design provided all the necessary lighting for the show, consisting predominantly of Robe and Claypaky fixtures with 16 Robe Led Wash 600s, 12 Robe Pointes, 4 Claypaky Alphaspot 1500HPEs, working their magic for the room wash and stage based effects. A total of 12 Prolight Studio Cob FC were dedicated to lighting the stage, giving the correct light levels and colour temperature required for the photographic and video elements needed to light the performers and contestants. Additionally, 12 Chauvet Professional WELL fit Uplighters were also placed strategically around the room to light up key features of this stunning grand ballroom, to good effect, 2 Look Solution Unique MK2 Hazers gave the room a nice dynamic for the opening walk in look. Finally, control and power consisted of an ChamSys MQ500 running as

main LX desk with ChamSys MQ80 as a live LX back up all expertly operated by Adilkhodjaev who was showcasing the MQ500 abilities as a versatile desk for both live and corporate production environments. Finally the show was all powered by a SES 72way distro with Chauvet Net-X II and ProPlex data distribution racks managing the lighting processing. For the very specific audio requirements for this show with its complex mixture of a live pianist, singers and hosts with fast stage change arounds, Light Design contacted LCAV Productions who it had worked with previously on several occasions on corporate shows. Lloyds Cornish from LCAV, having previously worked at the Hilton on Park Lane, recommended a d&b audiotechnik sound system consisting of Lab Gruppen IPD2400 Amplifiers with 4 d&b Y7Ps, 6 d&b T10s and 6 d&b B6s all routed via a Yamaha QL1 16 Channel Digital Sound Desk. A mixture of Sennheiser Wireless Handheld and Wired Mics ran the show which all performed perfectly and without a hitch during the show. On the evening, the crown found its queen, and 18-year old Anhelina Chobanyan, representing Armenia, became the winner of MISS USSR 2019. Light Design team along with MISS USSR were delighted with the finished overall production, CEO Julia Titova said: “ Terry I’m so glad we chose to work with you and Light Design on this production; you and your team were amazing, so professional. Thank you, thank you, thank you so much. We can’t thank you enough, it looked amazing. We are so happy with what you did for us.” TPi Photos: Ash Youd 14





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BRITANNIA ROW SUPPLIES UK’S LARGEST INDOOR PA RIG FOR JAY CHOU Taiwanese singer and film star, Jay Chou, recently entrusted Britannia Row Productions to deliver an impressive audio solution for his performance at London’s O2 Arena.

For the final three concerts of Chou’s 120-date The Invincible 2 World Tour, The Asian King of Pop, as he’s known to the Western media, played two nights in London before deploying the Britannia Row rig for a final show at Paris’ Accor Arena. These three shows were promoted by Europe’s leading Asian concert promoter, Magic-Sound Entertainment. Britannia Row Crew Chief, Scott Maxwell, said: “Jay is a huge star. We’re essentially working with a stadium-sized PA in an arena-sized production. Everything else in the design had to shrink down to fit inside the venue, but the PA remained the same.” The entire production weighed in at 107 tonnes and used 208 overhead motors, 44 automation points, 274 rigging points, 14 under-stage lifts and

featured a four-minute 180kg confetti hit, meaning the audio delivery had to have ample impact. Britannia Row’s Josh Lloyd designed an L-Acoustics system for the European dates, which featured main hangs of K1, flown K1 SBs, K2 delays and K2 under hangs below the main K1 hangs. The system was powered by 72 LA8 amplifiers and used Lake processing. Maxwell continued: “One of our biggest challenges in the audio team was working between multiple departments who were all using aerial equipment. There are so many design elements going on, it’s unlike any other show I’ve worked on. It’s been such a lovely environment to be a part of. Everyone has worked so well together, despite any language differences.” The show itself – led by Production Manager JC Chen - is three hours 16


long and spans a multi-genre concept with various themes running throughout. The production takes the audience on a journey through pop, classical piano ballads, hip-hop, and guitar rock, while clowns, choreographed samurais, sailors and dancers enhance the overall performance. Chen said: “Having Britannia Row on board puts my mind at ease. Even with cultural and language differences, the Brit Row team was outstanding in every aspect - from all their gear and the sound system, to helping the show with their great technology, service and attitude.” Chou’s long-standing FOH Engineer, Drexel Rrez Moliere, noted: “To perform a show with lots of genres is very common for Asian artists - it’s the style of the market - so no matter where he plays, the fans expect a huge production and a lengthy, ever-changing performance.” Moliere, who was the first engineer to mix on a K1 rig in Asia, has worked with Chou for 19 years. “It’s a challenging show to mix but Jay knows exactly what he wants, and I know exactly how to deliver it. “I really like this configuration with the main hang of K1 and the K1 sub right next to it. Everything Britannia Row did on these shows was right, I’m so impressed with their skills and their service. I have worked with a lot of different companies around the world, and I have to say that Britannia Row really are world class. The attention to detail the crew give really makes them stand out.” Moliere, who mixed on an analogue desk which was carried from Asia, describes his FOH mix as “pretty loud, with lots of bass and wide, even coverage.” “Jay is used to getting the best out of every song,” added Moliere. “As an engineer, when you have Britannia Row on your side, you don’t have to


No. 901

worry about a thing. That’s invaluable to me because I can concentrate on mixing the music, and that’s the most important part of my job.” Moliere also commented on the audio crew’s dedication: “After the load-in at London, everyone was tired and winding down when we heard a buzz coming from FOH. We were touring with power from China, and if anything is not quite right with an analogue desk, you hear it straight away. The Brit Row team fixed it immediately using a TX transformer buffer. With the correct 220 voltage, it was so clean and isolated.” Britannia Row also supplied the production with Sennheiser IEM, Shure transmitter packs, radio comms, L-Acoustics stage wedges, and a playback system for FOH and monitor world using Yamaha QL1s. “You can ask this crew for things all day and they deliver within minutes,” enthused Moliere. “They’re a pleasure to work with, and I couldn’t ask for better attitudes from a rental company. The Britannia Row team is just magic!” Upon completing the tour, Chou began filming with Hollywood hardman Vin Diesel’s for the fourth addition of the xXx franchise. Britannia Row Account Manager, Dave Compton concluded: ‘It’s always a pleasure to work with Production Manager JC Chen and Promotor Felix Wang of Magic-Sound, who have the tough job of coordinating the production schedule of such a large show and a star in such demand. We at Britannia Row are ready to support them with whatever they need, and look forward to welcoming them back to Europe with their next project.” TPi Photos: Magic-Sound UK

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HIGHLITE GROUP: UK OPEN DAY Dutch supplier opens the doors to its UK office for a month of Infinity Chimp training.

Highlite UK hosted its first Open Day event on the 29 May at its headquarters in Wiltshire, and introducing visitors to the newly built Infinity Chimp training facility and the demo-showroom as well. The Infinity Chimp training facility with the 100.G2 and 300.G2 light controllers being received very well by the visitors of the first Highlite UK Open Day event. Product specialist Jack Kelly presented the Chimp light controllers in to all those in attendance with many visitors already reserved a spot for the first Chimp training on 19 June. The Chimp units are fully featured light controllers, equipped with wireless DMX, versatile and well suited for various applications. Based on the version one can control two or four universes and even expand with two extra universes by adding the Banana wing. During the training for novices or advanced users the participants learn all there is to know about programming their own show and taking full advantage of the various possibilities. There was a lot of interest as well for the moving heads from the Showtec Polar Series, a range of IP-65 rated fixtures with top notch optics, built around strong LED engines. The Infinity Furion moving heads also

received a lot of attention. These versatile moving heads are becoming a household name at events , theatre productions or festivals. Another point of interest for the Open Day visitors was the Showtec Helix M1000. This fully wireless IP-65 rated compact washlight impressed because of its strong output and 15 hours battery-life which makes it very well suited for outdoor purposes where space is an issue. The first edition of Highlite UK’s Open Day event brought the attendees an informative and diverse day of events and presentations. Highlite UK’s Sales Manager David Faulkes could not be happier: “It was great to be able to meet everybody in our demo-showroom and training facility. Here we had the opportunity to present our various entertainment solutions directly and inform our customers accordingly. We are already looking forward to the next edition!” TPi Photos: Highlite Group 18






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SVEN VÄTH @ COCOON PRAGUE An extensive Funktion-One system, supplied by native rental firm Force Production, sounds Sven Väth’s performance at Cocoon Party’s 20th anniversary in Prague, Czech Republic.

Sven Väth is widely regarded as the leader of the techno revolution. The German DJ and producer emerged from the early-1980s Frankfurt underground and pioneered an electronic music uprising – with both Germany and Ibiza being his beat-fuelled playgrounds. He originally started Cocoon in 1996 as a series of parties, pouring in his savings to help fund the events around Germany and North America. Though this wasn’t Väth’s most financially successful endeavour of a glittering career, it gave rise to Cocoon’s re-birth as a booking agency in 1999. The events and record label soon followed. Since then, Cocoon Recordings has been the launchpad for many of the biggest DJs in the world and the Cocoon brand has become globally recognised thanks countless parties – each one led by a forward-thinking music policy and enriched by high production values. This is certainly true of the Cocoon party in Prague on 10th May, where Väth was joined by Ilario Alicante and Andre Galuzzi at Vystaviste Holesovice in the north of the capital city. The requirement for Funktion-

One sound has been capably handled by Force Production. The company is headed up by Kevin Dobson and Tomas Mazdra. They are long-term partners of the British loudspeaker manufacturer. He said: “Since our relationship began with Funktion-One back in 2010, our company has grown from being just three guys to 15. A big part of this development is directly attributed to Funktion-One. While all the rental companies around Prague were using the same speakers and were engaged in a race to the bottom when it came to budgets, we decided to set ourselves out from the crowd and make a distinction between the rest of the pro audio in the country and ourselves. “When brought Funktion-One to our market and it very quickly became clear that there was a superior option to what other companies could offer. This has translated into us having our own market in our territory and from this the business continues to go from strength to strength. One of the clear reasons for this is Funktion-One’s determination not to follow what the rest of the industry is currently doing.” 20





Next level performance in a versatile format









Vero VX’s more compact format brings Vero sound to a wider range of venues. Funktion-One’s unique driver and waveguide technology ensures vocals and musical harmonics are coherent in time and space, providing benefits in clarity, intelligibility and immersive stereo imaging. The high crossover point to the compression driver means increased headroom and reduced harmonic and modulation distortion. The very high electroacoustic efficiency of the horn-loaded mid/high section is supplemented by new bass driver technology up to eight Vero VX cabinets can be powered by a single amplifier. Vero VX’s patented Lambda rigging system ensures accurate array alignment.The naturally flat response does not require corrective EQ, thus preserving headroom and phase coherency, resulting in very clean output, even at maximum power.


The Force Production crew on site in Prague.

For Cocoon, Force Production deployed a Funktion-One system comprising left and right stacks 4 Evo 7T speakers - 3 on the bottom row and one in the centre on top, together with 2 R3SH as infills. Monitoring was handled by a pair of PSM318s. Head of Audio, Alex Limburg said: “The Evos are fantastic - I really enjoy working with them. They are a real move forward in the Axhead range and the PSM318s can’t be beaten when it comes to DJ monitoring.” The bass was setup in an asymmetric configuration – a technique that has been pioneered and advocated by Funktion-One founder, Tony Andrews. This approach, positioning the bass on one side of the room and the sub-bass on the other, ensures singularity of delivery and avoids cancellations, resulting in punchy, well-defined bass. In this case, Force Production had 8 F124 bass enclosures – in pairs, 4 high – on stage left, and 2 F132 sub-bass units on stage right. Both the F132 and F124 represent important developments in bass technology, not only for Funktion-One but for the wider industry. The F132 is an extraordinarily powerful horn-loaded bass enclosure, which features Powersoft’s M-Force 10kW linear transducer and FunktionOne’s specially designed cone and enclosure technology. Its single 32-inch driver gives a frequency response of 24Hz to 70Hz. Tony Andrews said: “With the 32-inch F132, we introduced something unique to the market: transient in the sub frequencies, as far down as 25Hz. From there, we felt there was potential to go further by using the knowledge we’d gained when developing the F132 to create a 24-inch bass speaker.” Two voice coils and intense magnetic flux control the F124s 24-inch

cone with impressive accuracy, ensuring excellent transient response and extended depth to below 30Hz. Limburg enthused: “The F124 is a superb piece of work. The responses from it are phenomenal. I love it.” On the asymmetric bass configuration, he added: “We were able to achieve amazing consistency of the bass throughout the room, not having to deal with any tunnels or troughs. I was very happy with the result and I hope the audience was too.” The Cocoon system was powered by Full Fat Audio amplification - two FFA6004s, 2 FFA8004s and 5 FFA1000s. Limburg said: “In my opinion, FFAs are the best. The reliability is excellent, and you know what you can get out of them. They’re a great bunch of guys doing some great work.” The system was controlled processed with XTA processing. All inputs from the DJs ran through an analogue Midas Verona. Force Production also supplied the lighting and video equipment, including Robe lights, TAF truss, Panasonic projection, and an MA Lighting grandMA console. Dobson reflected: “We’re happy with how it went, especially the audio delivery. The asymmetric bass arrangement is a fairly new technique for us and we’re very pleased with the result. It’s always a pleasure to work with world-renowned events like Cocoon and with pioneering artists like Sven Väth. They have high standards but you only need to look at the manufacturers we’re partnered with to understand that we do too.” TPi Photos: Ry Hallada @rxyz 22


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TAKE THAT From conception to the road, Mark Cunningham uncovers the story behind Take That’s 30th anniversary Greatest Hits Live tour – a production that finally witnesses the birth of 3D concert video.





Even back in 1994, when I first documented a Take That show, there were hints of a vision far beyond that of your average chart-topping boy band. Fast-forward a quarter of a century and the group’s no-filler live set list of 25 songs perfectly encapsulates their glittering journey as an 11m revolving Odyssey Sphere dominates the stage. Covered with 2,750 LED panels emitting super rich content from Luke Halls Studio, this curious orb has introduced concert audiences to their first-ever truly threedimensional video experience, according to its designers. Featuring Take That on tour as a trio (Gary Barlow, Mark Owen and Howard Donald) for the third time, Greatest Hits Live has seen Tour Director, Chris Vaughan and PM, Richard ‘Wez’ Wearing wrangle a formidable cast of vendors, including Brilliant Stages, Video Design, Skan PA, Neg Earth, Fly By Nite, Phoenix Bussing and Popcorn Catering.

done before. That’s a very seductive way to start a dialogue because no pre-burdened ideas force us down a particular route. My sketched ideas were coming by the dozen but the band, specifically Mark, had other thoughts.” Owen’s bold vision for the Sphere, based on a segmented tennis ball, formed the logo that first appeared on Take That’s greatest hits album, Odyssey, released last November, later to be brought to life for the tour. Winkler: “They’d been talking to their graphics team about the album logo and, in parallel, I experimented with slicing a 90° chunk out of an apple. We then explored how the orientation would impact on sight lines and by shifting the cutout 45° forward, we achieved the perfect appearance. “Kim’s input at this stage was crucial because he took an abstract idea at one end and a very concrete structural proposition at the other, then marry them together as a springboard for evolving the show’s narrative with the three principals, the musicians, 16 dancers and all the props and costumes.”

WINDING BACK THE CLOCK The Greatest Hits Live story began in Stufish’s St. Pancras studio in London, a serene, Zen-like workplace that contrasts sharply with the noise and fury of the arena concert. Design ephemera from its history as the world’s leading firm of entertainment architects is randomly distributed around workstations – a miniature Pink Floyd dome here, a U2 claw there – and all under the watchful eye of its founding father, the late Mark Fisher, whose caricature smiles down from a wall. Here, past glories nestle comfortably with victories of the present, not least Take That’s latest tour design – one that grabs the bawdy ’90s by the throat and drags it screaming into 2019. Stufish CEO Ray Winkler explained how he, TT’s Creative Director, Kim Gavin and Mark Owen came together on the project. He said: “Kim asked me what I’d like to do that hadn’t been

A SPHERE IS BORN The physical creation of the Sphere was handled by Brilliant Stages, a frequent Take That supplier, at its Production Park premises in Wakefield and the stats are impressive. Weighing 43,000kg, it’s as high as a threestorey building. Sitting on a 3m neck and base, it can rotate a full 360° with a 1,400mm slew ring driving its automation. Its neck contains all the data and power cables, and ventilation, along with a spiral staircase that takes the band and techs to two different levels. Its base pad is an array of six outrigger prongs that give the Sphere a wide footprint. At the end of each of these outriggers are a further three smaller 26




prongs, creating an elegant load-bearing web that is an advantage in arenas with limited roof capacities. The Sphere is built from 14 main parts, each containing a steel main structure. Each Sphere core was designed to fit in a curtain-sided trailer, 13 of which, plus an additional three mega cube trailers, transport the entire system on the road. “Everybody wanted the show to be incredibly clean with the minimum of superfluous fuss, so the Sphere retained focus and had room to breathe,” commented Winkler, before explaining how this larger than life logo – nicknamed the ‘Pac-Man’ by crew – is divided into extremely versatile Upper and Lower D-shaped sections. “The Upper D is able to tilt backwards and forwards [actuated by two Serapid push/pull chain drives], and accommodates three revolving doors for the band to make their grand entrance. The Lower D platform can tilt 45° horizontally and Serapid telescopic lifts enable them to rise and descend.” At the start of the show, the Sphere’s cutout faces a 450m2 upstage screen, away from the audience. Wearing uniform tracksuits, Barlow, Owen and Donald are inside, strapped to a protective harness, but hidden, when the sphere turns 180° to face the crowd. A beautiful, pulsating graphic vibrates across the Sphere, projecting a real sense of motion, before the ‘TT’ logo appears and a revolving platform swings around to reveal the three principals standing at around 12m from the stage deck. The Lower D then turns from a slanted angle to horizontal and rises up so that the band can step on to it and perform the first number, Greatest Day. The D then drops and a scissor lift rises out of the stage deck to take them to stage level. “After the mechanics of the Sphere were considered, we came up with the main elliptical stage for the three principals and two smaller, raised ellipses for the musicians, situated above a technical bunker and

quick-change areas,” said Winkler. “The main ellipse incorporates three 6m travelators on which the band walk and run on the spot.” VISUAL PROGRESS If the Sphere existed on its own, this in itself would have been an outstanding achievement for TT’s creatives and the Brilliant team, including Senior Project Manager, Martin Radmall, Lee and Ben Brooks, and Toby Van-Hay. But this is just part of the story, as Wearing detailed: “After Brilliant built the Sphere, pulled it apart and reassembled it several times very successfully, it went off to Video Design in Bedford to be populated with 2,750 individual LED tiles. “From the first design meeting up to rehearsals at LH2, it took Brilliant 20 weeks to fabricate, assemble, test and deliver the final working product. The first time we all saw it fully loaded was a stunning moment. Brilliant and Video Design worked tirelessly to make this all happen, bringing a new meaning to the word ‘dedication’.” Galaxia WV12 modules cover the outer surface and Uniview BO-6.2 floor tiles adorn its interior, including lifts and doors. The tiles are fitted in large sections and linked by a series of removeable ones. Once the content saturates the pixels, this 11m diameter globe awakens with a surreal vitality that fulfils a long-held Stufish aspiration. “We’ve been playing around with the idea of 3D video for some time but finding an opportunity to embrace it within a touring concert production had proven elusive,” informed Winkler. “Video technology has now reached a point where it is so ubiquitous and affordable. It is often the plaster that fixes all the creative problems and everyone is doing it. Consequently, the impact isn’t what it once was so one needs to look beyond the state of the art in order to cultivate surprise. We asked ourselves how one could take what is quintessentially the twodimensional world of the digital interface and turn it into something that is 28


much more architectural and sculptural. “When it came to this opportunity to create the Sphere, we were all over it with excitement. This is a platonic shape with very balanced geometry but very unusual for an arena rock show. In order to transmit our thoughts about video content, we worked long and hard with lots of rendering, and it gave Kim Gavin and the band confidence that this was a very good narrative tool. “The physical, motorised rotation of the sphere is one thing but then you have the digital rotation – the mapping that moves the video imagery around of its own accord. There are times when you think the sphere is moving but it’s actually the image.” Even though safety harnesses were a given, one problem to overcome was how to install confidence in the band that standing on the steep slope of the Lower D was not going to as scary as it might have seemed. The solution saw Stufish create a Virtual Reality presentation designed to give the band as near a realistic feel as possible for what being on that stage would be like. Winkler commented: “Intellectually, you know that you’re standing on terra firma, but every other sense is telling you that you’re up in the air, feeling quite uncomfortable. Our design had already been signed off by this stage and what it did was reconfirm to the band that we were entering exciting, new territory.”

B-stage and Staircase was offered to The Next Stage, the Bedfordshire company founded in January 2018 by Wayne Croft, Luke Johnson, Ollie Laight, Mel Welch and the tour’s Head Set Carpenter, Jason Slaney-Welch. “It’s our first major rock ’n’ roll job and it was fantastic to be given the chance to prove ourselves,” said a proud Croft . Featured on four songs, the Staircase comes in two halves and folds down to left and right base of the Sphere on a catwalk extension going upstage. Appearing on-stage as if from nowhere, it is largely assembled and wheeled on air castors into different configurations by the dancers. It primarily exists for a big moment in Shine but also plays a major role as a cross-stage ‘pyramid’ when Barlow sings Giants before splitting to create an oratory platform. As if by magic, it then suddenly disappears. Deploying the 6m diameter B-stage, said Croft, is similar to a kitchen table in the way it springs out and flips over. It consists of three hinged carts that sit underneath a deck that is topped with Harlequin Floors’s durable, mirror finish Hi-Shine black flooring. Also used on the Staircase, over 300m2 of the product was required in total by both The Next Stage and Brilliant for their varied staging applications. A delighted Wearing commented: “Our turnaround time for the B-stage and the Shine Stairs was pretty unforgiving. Jason was already on our team and it made a lot of sense to bring in The Next Stage. There are very few companies out there that can be relied on to produce great work at this level, and meet an uncomfortable deadline, so I think The Next Stage should do very well.”

REINFORCING THE FLAIR For many years, each new Take That production has featured a B-stage and although the band were not the first in the world to install this device, they most certainly helped to turn it into an art form as the outer orbit of the performance. On this occasion, production took the decision to move FOH control from its usual central point to left and right of centre, allowing the B-stage to assume a ‘floating’ location in between. Kim Gavin also needed one extra device to satisfy the arc of events surrounding the choreography by Adrian Gas, and settled on a Grand Staircase. With Brilliant busy on other projects, the responsibility for the

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AUTOMATION Way over at stage right, Brilliant’s Tom Darby and Kinesys Operator, Ross Maynard formed the automation duo behind a significant amount of onstage movement, prioritising safe practice at every point. Due to the nature of a number of show scenes, an above average level of detailed safety procedures are in place to secure the performers, the crew and the Sphere. Said Darby: “As a result of the Sphere’s movement, we have the issue


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Tour Director, Chris Vaughan and Production Manager, Richard ‘Wez’ Wearing; Brilliant Stages’ Tom Darby and Kinesys Operator, Ross Maynard; FOH Engineer, Gary Bradshaw; Show Caller, Gemma Thomas; Set Carpenter, Jason Slaney-Welch and Stephen ‘Spaf’ Jeffrey; Pyro Crew Chief, James ‘Jim Bob’ Barwick.

of some machines moving that Ross can’t always see. Our solution was to have cameras inside it – as well as around the stage – to ensure that any potential hazards involving moving pieces are picked up before they become a real threat. We are definitely going to see bigger leaps in automation and safety has to become an even bigger focus.” While Brilliant provided the lion’s share of motors, a notable gag for the song Spin sees the band mount three Harley Davidson motorcycle props that are moved via Kinesys with Neg Earth providing the hoists and control. The bikes were created by Artem, a company that has worked with Take That a number of times. For this latest project it provided specialised wind machines as well three large motorbikes that could do on-the-spot wheelies, with tyres spinning and smoke pouring out the back, while being ridden by each of the band and a dancer. Maynard explained: “The boys have great fun on those bikes. These Harleys do wheelies, the lights flash and a lot of smoke comes out the back of them. It’s a brilliant highlight.” Canadian firms are behind Brilliant’s motion control system, with the console manufactured by Niscon and software developed by Raynok. Darby: “They’re not very common on this side of the Atlantic and I believe that Brilliant is the only UK company using these products. Ensuring that it’s safety compliant for Europe is the clever bit.”

that every detail has passed a strenuous ‘road-friendliness’ check. A full day and night are reserved prior to show day for a long loadin, beginning at 10am after an advance rigging call has installed the mother grid and motors. Said Wez: “This production was designed to be constructed and dropped in around the Sphere, which starts to be assembled after the lights are up, and is completed at around 1.30am when the stage is rolled in. It’s back to work at 7am on show day when the audio crew start working towards a 3pm line check. It’s how we split the crew that allows us to pull everything off well. Moving from Manchester to Dublin by ferry, and then taking the ferry once again on the way to London was going to be the biggest test, and we’re very happy to still be in one piece!” VIDEO VIBE Paul ‘Eggy’ Eggerton’s first full length Take That tour as Video Director came at the “11th hour” when he was invited to relieve Matt Askem, who had played a consultancy role during rehearsals, and work in tandem with supplier Video Design. The tour sees Eggy presiding over a Ross Carbon switcher to juggle live camera feeds from manned 6 Sony HXC-100s and a Canon J21. His IMAG cut is sent to Media Server Programmer, Luke Collins for final processing and effects treatment, prior to him adding it to the time code-reliant pot of content created by Luke Halls in collaboration with Charlie Davis, Jenny Rush and a team of animators. Collins feeds the screens directly from a pair of disguise gx2 media servers running disguise software. Only two songs are performed without content and clips have even been designed to link numbers. Collins remarked: “Many of the visuals have been designed incorporate live IMAG either in PiP [Picture-in-Picture] mode or buried within the content itself. One scene is all about driving past a series of billboards that come alive with IMAG inserts and something similar also happens with the appearance of cubes.

STALWART PARTNERS Vaughan and Wearing have been working together on concert tours for just over 25 years. Their combined roll call of credits, from Muse, New Order and the Manic Street Preachers, to Kanye West, Beyoncé, Jeff Lynne’s ELO and Iron Maiden reads like an encyclopaedia of rock and pop. Together, they have been behind the evolution of Take That’s eye-popping productions since their halcyon days as Britain’s top boy band, and on this 35-truck tour, they have worked closely with technical coordinator Nick Evans to ensure 30

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Lighting Operator, David Wolstenholme; Video Director, Paul ‘Eggy’ Eggerton; Stufish CEO, Ray Winkler; Monitor Engineer, Steve Lutley; Media Server Programmer, Luke Collins.

“Eggy’s IMAG is subject to varying degrees of processing and effects treatment prior to being delivered into the mix and it’s by no means an added extra – the marriage of the live elements with the predesigned content has been very carefully designed in advance to be a seamless end product.” The Sphere, said Collins, is not a completely perfect orb, owing to the video tile sections leaving tiny gaps. Consequently, he relies on disguise’s processing power to compensate. “It’s one of the software’s great strengths and it was absolutely key to enabling the content to work as it was designed to. At my end, the Sphere is physically segmented into areas for video mapping and I made a matching 3D model so that the software knows exactly where all the tiles are. I can then splay the content as if it were on a perfect sphere, raying out from the central point.” Led by Jack Middlebrook, the video crew also includes LED Engineers Gary King, Steve Jones, Richard Doran, Robin Toye, Darren Sager and Russell Grant, Systems Engineers Adrian Grau and Gerry Corry, and Camera Ops Rod Williams and Roger Nelson.

always interesting to work with someone who has a different eye and Al’s way of dealing with design is certainly an inspiration. It’s not a big light show in the usual sense but, as our Crew Chief Antti Saari observed, it’s very rare to see a performance where everyone is lit so well in terms of follow spots and the key light on the band and dancers.” By modern, large-scale arena standards, the lighting rig would not be classed as excessive. With Neg Earth hired as equipment provider, Gurdon’s preferences for the tour were fairly diverse and include 212 fixtures that Wolstenholme runs over 50 universes from MA Lighting’s new grandMA3 full-size console. “Tom Young is using MA3 almost exclusively now, so when it became available in Neg Earth’s warehouse, that became the choice,” said Wolstenholme. “From a user perspective, however, it would be very unfair of me to judge the MA3 by my own application of it on this tour because I’m running it in MA2 software mode. We like having it on the tour, of course, because it’s raising a few eyebrows but it’s not really an MA3 yet! I’m getting accustomed to some new features, such as where they’ve moved certain things around in the layout. If I’m to believe what I hear, the ‘3’ promises to be yet another big step forward.” Owing to the off-centre FOH position, Wolstenholme placed an MA2 Light in the middle of the arena to finesse the rig each day. The front truss carried Moles for audience lighting, GLP JDC-1 strobes in full pixel mode, Claypaky Scenius Unicos and Ayrton Khamsin profiles. Wolstenholme explained: “The JDC-1 is a very versatile fixture and we have them in various positions, mostly to fulfil architectural lighting requirements, as well as blinder looks and pushes, whilst providing a certain amount of colour in the rig. It’s a strobe that can easily become a tinkling feature in a slow ballad. “Our principal overhead units are the Scenius Unicos which are also on the back truss and the 10 Kinesys-driven moving pods. They are predominately giving us some big audience looks and key light. Wolstenholme was particularly flattering towards the Khamsin: “It’s

LIGHTING Famed for his broad experience in television as well as previous work with Take That, Al Gurdon designed the lighting with programming assistance from Tom Young. As rehearsals reached their final days at LH2, the baton was passed to David Wolstenholme to organise follow spot calls, negotiate the transition to Sheffield Arena for dress rehearsals and then operate the show on tour. “I just turn up and make it look pretty!” said a modest Wolstenholme, adding that an element of nepotism within the ranks has long been a positive asset. “Along with the musicians, many of us are asked by Chris Vaughan to work on other projects. In fact, an identical situation happened with Tom last year where he programmed for ELO and I toured as the operator. It’s a formula that obviously works for everyone.” Wolstenholme enjoyed the experience of partnering with Gurdon. “It’s 32


become the flavour of the month. Here we have a big workhorse profile with a white LED engine, great colour mixing and a brightness level that compares favourably with the Unico. Gobos look fantastic all the way to the edge. They’re mostly used for stage key light and pickups, which amounts to a huge chunk of the show, so they are working quite hard but consistency is the Khamsin’s big strength. These lights are working as well as they did when we unpacked them at LH2.” Additional Khamsins were allocated to the B-stage. “It’s very handy that they come with internal wireless cards,” claimed Wolstenholme. “This means we can plug the units into the followspot power, then pair up W-DMX transmitters and omit the need for a separate wireless receiver. It really helps with the fluid nature of where the B-stage ends up in each venue.” Extending from the upstage screen are six ladders per side of the stage which accommodate four pairs of Claypaky Mythos 2s and JDC-1s. “While these give us a general extension of the look, there are a few moments where they have a big gobo presence and provide a massive amount of side light. They also frame the video wall and are at the rear to backlight the Sphere very elegantly, reinforcing that whole central image rather than distracting from it.” Other lights in service include 41 GLP impression X4 Bar 10 battens, chosen to define the edges around the front and sides of stages, adding dynamic flair without making a statement. Fitted with top hats, 10 Martin by Harman MAC Aura XBs ‘dress’ the dry ice and add to the dancers’ side lighting, and 17 TMB Solaris Flares are built around the edges the central scissor lift with 13 Robe Spikes underneath, shooting out to fill the space and accentuate the wonder of the show’s opening sequence as the lift rises. Last but not least, 8 Robert Juliat Dalis 862 low profile footlight battens further enhance the B-stage. “These provide an ideal solution for allowing the boys to stand a foot in front of them and still be lit head to toe, when they are looking in the opposite direction to the follow spots. There are a couple of nice moments when we turn everything off and leave the Dalis to light them, and it’s quite beautiful.”

Wolstenholme’s show day crew includes Adrian John Neilly, Alan Fotheringhame, Martin Garnish, Bianca Mastroianni, Martin McLoughlin and Rob Gawler. He also name-checks show caller Gemma Thomas for her “outstanding” contribution: “Our lighting is mostly running to time code but it’s such a technically heavy show that having Gemma call pretty much everything else, such as pyro, props, automation moves and the movement of people in the Sphere, is absolutely key to the smooth flow. She’s doing a fantastic job.” Also earning their keep in style is a team of 12 multitasking Fly By Nite drivers who, when they are not behind the wheel, remotely operate the Robe RoboSpot system from backstage. They individually drive a dozen moving BMFL WashBeam lights that live in the arena roof, and track the performers all the way from the main stage to the B-stage. RELIGHTING THE FIRE Quantum Special Effects’ presence is evident from the opening of the show when an avalanche of snow confetti is shot into the crowd, right up until the eye-melting finale when over 100 pyro effects are fired within one minute as the night ends with Rule The World. “We certainly like to make an impression!” laughed Pyro Crew Chief James ‘Jim Bob’ Barwick. Barwick spends the entire performance firing effects, cueing smoke and triggering fire from a Zero 88 Jester console, and is aided by Technician, Ross Deeker. “The two of us come in at 11am on show day to start setting up, beginning with loading confetti into the machines and reloading the CO2 gas. We then see to the remainder of the effects including aerial products that are positioned on trusses, and everything is achieved with Quantum’s own equipment.” For the fire sequences, Quantum chose two different types of flame – a liquid blue and red flame that appears during Get Ready For It, and a flame bar that was built into the stage at Brilliant ahead of rehearsals. “It’s used for an ambient effect in Relight My Fire,” explained Barwick. “This low burn flame runs the entire length of the stage and is 18-inches in height, allowing




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the band and the dancers to get quite close.” Covered in a flame-retardant coating, confetti plays a big part in the show. A total of 56kg is dispersed during a single performance, including a drop over the B-stage that is uplit by Claypaky Mythos 2 fixtures. “Take That fans always have the expectation of a full-on spectacle and that’s something at which the band and their designers excel,” Barwick commented. “What Quantum brings to the mix is a desire to constantly engineer new effects, such as a flame that can shoot up to 150ft, that can offer something fresh and exciting every time. “The band wanted a memorable pyro statement at the end of the show and we worked with the creative team to choose the correct colours and products. A successful job is always the result of a solid partnership with the creatives, and we have certainly enjoyed the fruits of that interaction on this tour.”

better. I set up the console the same way every time, which makes life easy and means I can find things quickly. Although we are still running at 48kHz sample rate, the sound quality is first class.” The vocal compression is mainly handled through the SD7’s internal processing, however, Bradshaw uses the Waves plug-in suite to add compression to a number of channels. “For example, I have Waves’ version of the classic dbx 160 inserted across my drum kit audio group, a CLA-2A on acoustic guitars, a CLA-3A on bass and recently I have been trying the F6 Floating-Band Dynamic EQ on vocals with great results.” All of the main vocals are on RF SKM5200 (5235) microphones. The remaining mics include Shure SM57s (snare top & bottom), a Beta 91A (kick), B52 (gong drum), Neumann KM184 (hi-hat & ride cymbal), Sennheiser e904s (toms) and AKG C414s as overheads. Pomeroy’s bass guitar is a direct out from his bass amp and his bass synth is also DI’d. McDonald’s electric and acoustic guitar outputs come directly from his Kemper rack system, and all other acoustic guitars, piano and keys go through Radial J48 DI boxes. Designed for the tour by Matt Vickers with assistance from Audio Crew Chief Toby Donovan, the PA system, part of the package supplied by Skan, majors in d&b audiotechnik’s KSL8 and KSL12 loudspeaker cabinets, the latest from its new generation SL-Series. With Take That, the configuration consists of main hangs of 18 KSL8/12s per side, side hangs of 16 KSL8s per side and 220˚ hangs of 12 d&b V12s per side. A pit array of 10 J-SUBs and 12 Y10P front fills complete the rig, with power from 48 d&b D80 amplifiers. The drive system includes Lake LM44s with Teqsas Cybertec devices linked by fibre to provide a Dante backbone. The powerful feature set, which relies on Array Processing software for its results, has made a positive difference to Take That’s sound, Bradshaw insists. “In my opinion anything with the d&b badge on it is going to sound good. I think we have used just about every variant of the d&b range over the years and had great results out of all of them. “This KSL system we are currently using is performing really well. Very little comes off the back of the cabs and on to the stage, so there is considerably less bleed down the mics. Also, the bass response from the hangs means we don’t need to fly subs. On a tour like this it’s a valuable bonus for production.”

TT AUDIO A Take That touring veteran with a pro career dating back to 1979, Gary Bradshaw is respected throughout the music industry as one of the leading technicians behind the evolution of modern live sound. The band’s regular FOH Engineer since their early days, Bradshaw has also been shaping Jeff Lynne’s sound since ELO’s resurrection five years ago. There’s no “big secret” to what he does, Bradshaw humbly insists, simultaneously pointing out that the source material with which he works is arguably as good as it gets. “They are some of the best musicians you’ll ever find,” he said, referring to the line-up led by MD Mike Stevens and featuring guitarist Milton McDonald, Drummer Donavan Hepburn, Pianist Marcus Byrne and Bassist Lee Pomeroy. “Their attention to detail in rehearsals and their onstage discipline make it so easy for me out front. They play so brilliantly that they almost mix themselves. There’s nothing getting in the way – although there’s a lot going on, there is still plenty of space.” Bradshaw is controlling 86 input channels at his SD7 from the DiGiCo brand he has been “wedded to” since its first product release. He said: “I’ve tried everything else and there are some very good desks out there, but I’ve grown so familiar with the SD7 surface and all its internal resources that it’s become second nature to get around. On a tour like this, there’s nothing 34


STAGE MIX Below the stage, Monitor Engineer, Steve Lutley conducts the band’s mixes on another DiGiCo SD7, preferring it for all same reasons. Choosing to use only the console’s onboard processing, rather than plug-ins, Lutley, another Take That long-timer, oversees a 96-channel line system, providing full communication resources between the band and crew. He creates individually prepared stereo mixes for each band member, a mono mix for the drum throne ‘thumper’ and five mixes for the crew’s communication system. “It’s important to make communication as simple and intelligible as possible, especially during the show,” he said. There are no monitor wedge speakers on this tour. All of the band members employ IEMs, using a combination of Jerry Harvey Audio and Ultimate Ears equipment, with Sennheiser 2000 Series wireless IEM hardware. “The beauty of working with these guys for so long is that everything becomes second nature,” said Lutley, who is assisted by Glen Fuller and Stage Tech, Alvin Russ. “It’s a two-way street. I’m accustomed to their mix preferences and they know exactly how to communicate any changes to me in a way that produces an instant result.”

GOING OUTDOORS After 29 sold-out indoor shows, the band jumped straight into their ninedate outdoor leg, up and down the UK, boosting the production with a wider palette of lighting, expanded sound and additional structures from Stageco, including four cantilevers for the PA, upstage video wall support and reinforced decking for the Sphere. As final preparations were being made for this next leg, Ray Winkler summarised the long-term impact that he believes Greatest Hits Live will have: “This is a significant move forward for show design that, for once, isn’t measured by being bigger, wider, lighter or brighter. Audiences have developed a yearning to get closer to the heart of the show and the live industry is increasingly moving towards delivering an immersive experience. I think we have achieved precisely that with Take That and the entire process has been hugely exciting.” TPi Photos: Stufish, Sarah Womack, Mark Cunningham and David Wolstenholme,

SAID IT ALL Providing the essential communication system and walkie talkies for the tour was Surfhire. “There were a few challenges on this tour, mainly the breadth of both venue size and crew,” commented Surfhire’s Simon Hodge. “While we would normally deploy in larger boxes of between 48 to 80 it was suggested that we split in to 24 ways so it could be divided easily between legs.” He continued: “Wez chose the XPR3500e as it is compact and rugged but also supports multiple zones for their travels. We can also re-program remotely if needed if for example licensing information is updated once the tour has left.” 36


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HUGH JACKMAN: THE MAN. THE MUSIC. THE SHOW. In a production equal parts musical theatre, cabaret, and rock ‘n’ roll, A-list actor, Hugh Jackman, brought his talents to the stage for a world tour documenting his life, bookmarked by songs chaptering the stages of his musical career. TPi’s Stew Hume was on site at Glasgow’s Hydro Arena to find out more…


Opposite: Caption.


When it comes to Hugh Jackman, many have their own individual preconceptions of his persona. I, for one, am more accustomed to seeing him with adamantium claws protruding from his fists than on stage breaking into a musical number. I was intrigued to see what the 50-yearold – yes, 50 – actor could produce with a two-hour set promising insight and entertainment. It was night three of an already extremely well-received tour beginning at The SSE Hydro Arena. As he tap-danced to Thunderstruck, having reprised his role as Jean Valjean from Les Misérables and performed an entire segment as the flamboyant Peter Allen, the extent of this man’s repertoire became evident. Production Manager, David Wright welcomed TPi to the venue. During an extensive tour of the production and meeting a number of the key members of crew, the gargantuan team effort required to bring this show to fruition was showcased proudly – alongside this true amalgamation of rock ‘n’ roll touring and the diligence of theatre. Wright was poised at the centre of it all. “I originally got my start in theatre,” he explained, as he discussed bridging the gap between these once disparate worlds. “I’ve also done 32 years of rock ‘n’ roll touring.” Wright was brought into the fold by Tour Director, Dan McGee, and tasked with joining the pieces together from the helm of production. “This show is really the story of Hugh Jackman’s life,” the PM mused. “Hugh has been clear from the beginning this world tour is really something to tick off the bucket list. He had done a similar show in Australia in 2015 but this is a completely different scale under the creative eye of Creative Director, Warren Carlyle.” Since December, Wright and the creatives in place worked tirelessly to turn the show into a reality. The PM, upon taking on the tour, was rushed to London for a roundtable with Lighting Designer Patrick Woodroffe of Woodroffe Bassett Design, Ray Winkler from Stufish, and Lee Brooks from Brilliant Stages, he recalled. Following the initial months of planning, Wright assembled his roster of suppliers; Solotech provided video and audio, Neg Earth covered lighting, rigging and automation, Brilliant Stages for

staging while Unisson Structures provided video scenic. Finally, supplying a comms solution for the tour was Surfhire. Throughout the entire tour the communication specialists provided the new Mark 5 Print Pod based IT system for backstage along with Hytera walkie talkies. The company also provided global RF licensing for the production. With a large creative force behind the production, Wright said the key to bringing all the elements together was “a lot of correspondence” with a weekly production group call every single Friday. He elaborated: “As this show’s a hybrid of Broadway and rock ‘n’ roll, we wanted to ensure we had experts in each field every step of the way. The first person on those group calls throughout the whole process was Hugh. He’s so in-tune with the whole process and interested in every aspect of the creation.” During discussions about collaboration, Wright was eager to praise CAD Technical Designer, Malcolm Birkett, working behind the scenes he was “invaluable,” to Wright and the rest of the production. “He liased with each department to develop designs including rigging, lighting, video and audio to give a complete picture of the show,” stated the PM. SET DESIGN The stage itself was a wide-open performance area with a truss extending out into the audience. With the band and orchestra situated upstage, there was plenty of room for Jackman and the troupe of dancers to perform. Further upstage, a selection of LED cubes which the production affectionately referred to as the Hollywood Squares, partnered a pair of left and right IMAG screens. Speaking Stufish involvement with the production was Alicia Tkacz. “It was clear from the very beginning that the stage had to be large enough to accommodate the live orchestra, dancers and guest choirs that would join in each city,” she began discussing the early production meetings with Director, Warren Carlyle. “From the outset we also knew that video would play a big part in the overall visual language of the show. We also discussed that the general aesthetic of the show should be contemporary, but also 40


that the plan was to have an aboriginal part which in contrast needed to feel more natural and environmental.” Like the other creative involved in the project, Tkacz waxed lyrical about the collaborative process through out creation of the show. “The project was extremely collaborative, and it has been a real pleasure to work with such a talented team. From the beginning, Hugh’s positivity and friendly nature also played a large and important part in ensuring this project, from the initial design to the show itself, was a pleasurable experience for all involved.” One of the main challenges for Tkacz and the team was to ensure that the stage design could work well with the wide variety of genres that were outlined in the initial scrip from the classical feel of a Broadway musical to the cool contemporary aesthetic of a city and the natural feel of a landscape. “The Hollywood squares initially came from the notion of the geometries of the old Victorian theatre and the early circus, where the vertical space was divided into boxes for audience to observe the shows,” stated Tkacz while discussing the large upstage video section. It was clear these video squares would reflect the vibrant musical atmosphere and could be used in multiple ways with lights and video content to create various environments for a truly dynamic performance. Our collaboration with the lighting and video teams really enhanced the squares to become a canyon that engulfed ‘The Sun’, an 8m diameter screen in the centre that completed the landscape.” THE BUILD Brilliant Stages created the stage infrastructure and while the remaining video facade around the Hollywood Square was provided by Unisson Structures. Discussing Brilliant Stages involvement with the production was Director Ben Brooks and Project Manager Jordan Whittemore. “It’s always great to collaborate with Stufish,” began Brooks, who explained how the Hugh Jackman projected coincide with the development with another collaboration with Take That’s latest arena tour. “In total it was around an eight week build for this one,” commented Brooks. “But we had the added benefit that the production was rehearsing at Production Park so we were able to continue to work on some of the other elements of the set build.” “Scott and Sam who manage the studio studied our extensive needs and

accommodated all of our requirements,” commented Wright. “Also within the infrastructure of LS Live we were supported with additional furnishings, ground transfers and local hotel connections. Hugh particularly enjoyed the location as it lacked distractions and encouraged a focused rehearsal period. And the style of rehearsals was well structured using the 24/7 access afforded and staffed by LS Live to the full.” The PM also noting how “invaluable” it was to have Brilliant Stages’ workshop across the courtyard. “As with many productions there were remedial changes made as we went through rehearsals. Some of the changes were fairly major and Brilliant Stages stepped up and delivered according to our needs and schedule. Whittemore picked up the story. “In total it was an eight-week build,” he commented. “From a distance it might look quite complex but thankfully we were able to incorporate a lot of our standard kit to make it work.” Both Brooks and Whittemore explained how the production wanted the design to be a wide as possible not to mention with a long thrust that extended out into the audience. But according to Whittemore, the design got even more interesting underneath. “Under the mezzanine there is a fully functional tech area for quick changes for the dancers and a private room for Hugh,” he explained. “All these areas are usually set out behind the stage but having them in the belly of the set meant there were shorter cables runs and kept the set more organised.” Harlequin Floors were called upon by Brilliant Stages to provided over 1000m2 of Hi-Shine black vinyl flooring for the set. The company also installed the vinyl onto the decks. The Hi-Shine floor rolled out easily and provided a glossy finish with PET coating, allowing for scratch resistant and very durable surface, perfect for tour that included everything from large prop moves to tap dancing. Interestingly, as TPi spoke the staging specialist explained that work on the second stage for the tour was nearly complete. “It all came down to cost,” Wright chimed. “We also looked at the cost of shipping one stage across the world but due to the time schedule would have resulted in air freighting the whole show for some of the moves.” Simply put, it was more cost effective for Wright to commission Brilliant to construct another stage to be sent to America while the European stage – after the last date – would be straight on a boat to Australia. All freighting needs for the tour were catered for by Sound Moves. Dealing with the various stage elements each day was Head Carpenter, 42


Andy Turner who oversaw the team of eight across two systems. “After the European run this stage will be shipped to Australia with a second going to America.” The carpenter was quick to compliment both Unisson Structures and Brilliant for being able to pull off the challenging build. “The relationship between Brilliant and Unisson has been really good. It’s not the simplest build as a lot of the set elements and curved and at different angles. When it came time to put the mezzanine performance area and the screens together, it fit perfectly. Initially, I was fairly concerned it wouldn’t be possible, the hard work has paid off.” Elsewhere, handling rigging duties was Jules Grommers. The Head Rigger spoke to TPi about his 105-point show and his daily process. “It’s not so much the size of the show that’s an issue on this one, it’s the design which is relatively complicated,” explained Grommers, before outlining the lack of straight lines and abundance of curves and diagonal trusses. “The result of this from my end is that there is very little flexibility to move things around.” Despite challenges, the Head Rigger said the long rehearsal time provided him with the ideal opportunity to look ahead, enthusing: “I’m almost set all the way up to our New Zealand dates later this year!” Aiding Grommers each day was his second in command Andy Chapman along with a daily call of 28 local riggers. “It’s a lot of locals, for sure, but my justification is that some of the venues have a lot of bridals,” Grommers reasoned. “During load-in, I need to be on hand to fix anything when it’s happening. The last thing I want to do is slow down the load-in process, especially with some of the earlier starts we have on this run with several matinee performances.” Neg Earth satisfied all rigging needs for the tour, including EXE-Rise Chain Hoists. Meanwhile, automation for the large circular LED screen – dubbed ‘the sun’ by the touring crew – was set into place via a Kinesys system. “I’ve collaborated with Neg on a whole host of shows and our good relationship has certainly been beneficial on this one,” Grommers concluded.

at The SSE Hydro while TPi was meeting the crew. He got the design conversation rolling with a little walk down memory lane. This was not Woodroffe’s first encounter with Jackman. The pair worked together on the 2008 production of Boy From OZ and have since kept in touch, reflected Woodroffe, clearly enthused about joining forces once again with the actor. “This show is very much a hybrid production and the sort of thing we enjoy working on,” commented Woodroffe. “It has the energy of rock ‘n’ roll with the discipline of musical theatre.” The LD then cited the collaborative climate as the secret to such a multimedia show. “This project has been a very satisfactory collaboration with a creative team from very disparate backgrounds and between us all I think we’ve made something quite different. Ultimately what makes the show so viable has been Hugh’s part in it. He’s a charismatic performer but he’s also a considered and intelligent one. He plays out his different personas - opera, tap, comedy, period, highcamp - so convincingly that all the work that we have done to reflect these different genres in the lighting and the video content, becomes perfectly viable and completely believable.” Completing the lighting design team were WBD’s long-time theatrical associate, Robert Casey and Lighting Programmer, Christopher Hirst. Lighting Operator, Jason Fripp handled the show on the road. From behind an MA Lighting grandMA3 desk at FOH, he discussed some of the technology deployed on the rig, which consisted of Claypaky Scenius Unicos and B-Eye K25s as well as Ayrton Khamsin-Ss and Astera AX5s. Also present were Color Kinetics iW Blast 12TRs and PDS-375s. “One of the highlights has been the Khamsis-S,” commented Fripp. “It’s a phenomenal light. They are super bright, I still can’t believe it’s LED.” The Operator added the Robe 150s on the back wall were able to configure looks and follow Hugh thanks to the zactrack system, which he dubbed “an increasable stable system” before discussing the decision to opt for this particular tracking software. “It’s based on RF which sets it apart. Collectively, there were 14 zactrack, anchors set out on the stage. Receivers were placed on each of Hugh’s shoulders as well as the dancers’ shoulders.” Overseeing

LIGHTING As luck would have it, Lighting Designer, Patrick Woodroffe was on site 44




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Production Manager, David Wright; Head Carpenter, Andy Turner; Lighting Designer, Patrick Woodroffe; Head Rigger Jules Grommers ; the hard working Video team; FOH Engineer Simon Sayer, Sound Designer Colin Pink and System Tech, Alexandre Bibeau.

the zactrack system was Lighting Technician, Jeroen Depaepe. With his tablet in hand, Depaepe walked TPi through the intricacies of the system. “Originally, we were going to have a lighting desk set up on the stage but after rehearsals we found it was much simpler to just used the tablet to configure the lights to each of the anchor points to give us full coverage of the stage. It means Hugh can go to any point and the lights will still follow him.” In total the production calibrated a jaw-dropping 201 fixtures with the ability to track a performer on stage at any point. “Initially, I was wary of implementing automated tracking,” Woodroffe said, moments before admitting he had been converted to the practice. “It’s only going to be a few short years until we have young people entering the industry who wouldn’t believe we used to send people up a ladder and manually do spots,” he laughed, as conversation turned back to Fripp and his relationship with lighting supplier Neg Earth. “I’ve worked with them a number of times, most recently with the Asian Games. They have provided a great package along with four hardworking crew members.”

telling stories about his wife and kids - onto the screens.” The screens themselves consisted of two Saco products with the rear wall and flanking side screens made of the S9 9mm product and the automated circular screen from the S6 6mm version. LED Technician, Krystena Lee Rice elaborated: “The Saco screen is very sturdy and, so far, we haven’t had any major issues,” she began. “I actually used it on its first official tour with Bruno Mars so have got used to them over the years. In an update they made the product lighter which is useful for us on the road.” Raphalian further discussed the camera package used on the tour. “We have 2 FOH cameras and 2 in the pit area, both of which are Grass Valley models. Then we have 2 sets of Panasonic 4K robo cameras.” Raphalian also championed the Losmandy Spider Dolly system. Combined with Losmandy FlexTrak, the simple 3-Leg Spider Dolly converts a tripod into an inexpensive, extremely portable, tracking camera dolly. “It’s effectively a rubber hose, so we can flex it into any shape we want and curve it around the truss,” explained Elizondo, palpably excited about avoiding the need for a heavy traditional rail system. At FOH - with a disguise media server setup - Andréanne Lafrance oversaw 2 gx2s which handled content throughout the performance. Fresh from the recent Justin Timberlake tour, Lafrance is more than familiar with the capabilities of the disguise range. “In the last tour, I used them for projection, but this is my first run using them with LED,” stated the Media Server operator, joking she didn’t miss the daily video mapping. “In terms of the show the side screens are mainly used for IMAG save a few songs. We’ve also used Notch to produce several effects.” Content for the show, like many other aspects, was a collaborative process. “One of our main contributors was 4U2C,” commented Wright. “We also had Treatment in the UK produce several pieces. But all these elements were carefully overseen by Patrick and our Creative Director Warren Carlyle.”

VIDEO In video world, TPi was greeted by two familiar faces; Video Director, George Elizondo and Video Crew Chief, Tyler Raphalian. Last time TPi crossed paths with the pair was on the last Red Hot Chili Peppers tour. Despite the divergent setting, Elizondo asserted this tour was a “real pleasure” during the opening night, he was stopped by an usher. Upon discovering the VD was part of the crew, the usher professed that during their six-year long tenure at The SSE Hydro, it was the best production she had ever seen, “clearly all our hard work in rehearsals paid off!” Interestingly, this was not Elizondo’s first show with Jackman. “I did a small run with him back in 2015 in Australia. That tour was a similar vibe to this one, although on a very different scale. I remember I left wishing it could have been longer so when Warren got in touch to see if I was interested it wasn’t a difficult decision.” The Video Director went on to outline his role within the show. “My responsibility is to help tell the story,” he stated, matter-of-factly. “With each part of the show, Hugh discusses another period of his career or life. I then try and translate all these elements - from embodying Peter Allen to

AUDIO Alongside many of the visual creatives on the scene early doors was Colin Pink, the tour’s Sound Designer. “By the time I came on board, Colin was already in place,” stated Wright. “He was the one who put forward FOH 46


Playback Technician, Mike Hiratzka; Monitor Engineer, Seamus Fenton; zactrack Operator Jeroen Depaepe and Lighting Operator, Jason Fripp.

Engineer Simon Sayer and Monitor Engineer Seamus Fenton - and for good reason as both of them are excellent. Not only do they both have experience with live orchestras, they understand the discipline of theatre.” Pink took up the story: “Even though most know Hugh as an actor who occasionally worked in musical theatre, the show we have produced really is quite theatrical. It’s been a lot of fun as it’s so diverse. During the evening you hear songs from Carousel to Les Misérables and The Greatest Showman.” That being said, Pink was quick to note plenty of rock ‘n’ roll elements in the show. “You just have to listen to the audience volumes from the last few nights. It peaked at 105dBa!” To compete with the raucous Jackman fans, Pink and the audio department selected an extensive L-Acoustics system comprising of 16 K2s and 14 K2s per side. For both left and right rear hangs 12 KARAs were deployed along with 6 KS28 flown subs. On the ground, 2 KS28s were placed under the truss with a front fill design consisting of 8 X8s and 8 5XTs. Finally, and when needed, a delay setup was also at the production’s disposal with 3 hangs each of 8 KARAs. A total of 48 LA12X amplifiers were used to power the rig with a drive system made up of 2 P1 processors. “I’ve always loved L-Acoustics,” Pink nodded, explaining why the PA brand was the ideal choice for the project. “They behave beautifully when they are loud and quiet and due to the dynamic range of this show this was essential.” Joining Jackman on stage each night was a whole host of musicians, including a full band, featuring strings, brass and woodwind sections. You would be forgiven for thinking one of Pink’s goals would be to direct as much sound away from the stage as possible. However, according to the Sound Designer, it was quite the opposite. “When you think of an orchestra in a traditional sense, the goal is to create an audio bleed with each aspect melding into one another. That’s the aim of the X12s on stage; to bring the sound image down and replicate the blend.” Overseeing the deployment of the PA each day was System Tech, Alexandre Bibeau. The qualified L-Acoustics KSE Engineer talked to TPi about some of his daily responsibilities. “Well, top of my list is to keep our FOH engineer happy,” he laughed. “Other than that, my main concern is to keep the room sounding constant so there is no more than an 6dB gap between front and back.”

For audio, DiGiCo’s SD7 Quantum was the first choice for both monitors and FOH. Monitor Engineer, Seamus Fenton listed the benefits of the latest upgrade: “Speaking frankly, we wouldn’t be able to do this show with a normal SD7 just in terms of horse power and not being able to deal with these kind of numbers.” This is not the first time Fenton had worked on a show of this ilk, having worked on last year’s Game of Thrones; Live Concert Experience. “Then, I had an SD5 with an SD9 doing a sub mix to oversee the orchestra and the choir. But when it came to this tour, I knew I would need a desk with more power. I’m happy to say, with the Quantum, the desks are so powerful all the inputs and outputs don’t eat into one another like they used to.” Fenton was dealing with 170 inputs with 32 stereo and 45 mono mixes. “Even with these large numbers, the Quantum still has some processing power left over.” Fenton’s positivity towards the DiGiCo didn’t stop with the processing power. “The control group trim is arguably one of the best monitor engineer buttons. If I fire a snapshot and an input change, I can still ride them all at the same time. This means, for example, I can pull down the bands and emphasise the rhythm section.” Expanding to his wider control servers, Fenton also made use of Waves C6 Multiband Compressor plugin. Sitting below the console was a new element to Fenton live set up, the Cedar DNS8 Live. “It was recommended by Sam Smith’s monitor engineer,” he explained. Essentially, you put a microphone in the centre of the stage with the PA running and you hold the ‘learn’ button. You can turn down the room at the source on the ears which means reverb works better.” Also talking about his mixing style was FOH Engineer, Simon Sayer. “My main prerogative is to oversee Hugh’s vocals and make it exciting while following the dynamics of the show,” he commented. “We have a TC Electronic 6000 doing a lot of the reverbs. I’ve also been using a selection of mastering algorithms which have helped in mixing the playback and the live orchestra together.” For Jackman’s vocal microphone, the audio department decided to go for two different solutions; a Sennheiser HSP 4 headset microphone and a handheld option with the 9235 capsule with a Sennheiser 6000 series. “Due to the variety of performances, we wanted to give him the option for both a handheld and a headset,” stated Pink. “I did a fair deal of research 48


deciding what would work best for his voice. I landed on the Sennheiser HSP 4 due to their consistency when he’s dancing. The rejection of other noise is astounding. Honestly, I’m not sure if I’ll ever use another headset.” For an IEM point of view, Jackman was put in Ultimate Ear Lives with a Shure PSM 1000 system. “The show involves many b-stage moments, we wanted to keep everything as tight as possible, meaning IEM were the only real option,” commented Pink. Elsewhere on the stage, an Aviom D800-Dante A360 system gave some of the musicians more control over their independent mix. “In total we have 32 lines of Aviom,” explained Fenton. “Each personal mixer on stage is unique and take their own line out. I created a basic sub mix with most of the musicians going for my original set up.” Along with dealing with the myriad of mixes from the stage, Fenton also had “a big old shout system,” to contend with. “Each member of the band has shout mics which goes to me and the backline techs,” outlined Fenton. “They all have push-to-talk foot switches, the mics are not left open. Then our MD also has one where we have one with an Optogate sensor. “It’s certainty a busy show,” laughed Fenton after listing all the various elements of his elaborate set up. “There are so many cue and mic switches throughout the show and I’m ridding Hugh’s mix constantly dropping in reverb when he’s singing.” Along with dealing with his mix, the Monitor Engineer explained the importance of the actor’s audience mix. “Its very high on my priority list because he loves to interact with the crowd,” commented Fenton. “I’ve littered a selection of microphones along the walkway to give him the best coverage possible.” The microphone in questions was the Audio-Technica AT897. During those moment of audience interplay, Fenton, from his stage left, surveyed the crowd and pushing the relevant macros to the area of the crowd the person was speaking to him.” PLAYBACK Situated just in front of monitor world was the tour’s Playback Technician, Mike Hiratzka. Another veteran of the Justin Timberlake touring party, Hiratzka spoke of his entry into the Jackman production. “The tour director

on this show was our accountant on JT, and when it was pitched to me it sounded like good fun. I’ve never really done a Broadway style show before, having mostly done pop shows up until now. It’s been a bit of a learning curve but a great experience.” In terms of Playback elements, one of the main additions was the recorded orchestral tracks that filled out the live orchestra and provides some constancy in the variety of venues the production was due to pass through. Hiratzka and the rest of the audio department opted to use QLab as a control system. “QLab was the ideal choice as it allows you to have the flexibility in terms of timing when dealing with the timecode for the show,” commented Hiratzka. On top of handling the playback elements, Hiratzka had an additional role of overseeing an autocue that Jackman had for one partially complex element of the show. “When he performs the song, I’ve been everywhere, he resigned a whole list of towns and cities from the country he is currently performing. It really is just a safety net as his memorisation skills are incredible.” Much like Jackman himself, the worlds of theatre and rock ‘n’ roll touring must battle public preconception. It’s only fitting, then, for an entertainer with such a diverse range, be the talent to bring together these realms in perfect harmony. TPi Photos: Andrew Benge & TPi


S O L O T ECH Proud supplier of audio and video for the Hugh Jackman The Man. The Music. The Show. World Tour




GODS OF RAP Backed by an impressive touring team, De La Soul, Public Enemy and Wu-Tang Clan join forces for a hotly-anticipated European arena tour, hosted and presented by the Mount Rushmore of hip-hop producers, DJ Premier. TPi’s Jacob Waite reports from Manchester Arena…


The Gods of Rap tour marked significant milestones of De La Soul, Public Enemy and Wu-Tang Clan’s sonic careers. Collectively, all three American hip-hop troupes are recognised for their innovative beats, clever lyricism, diverse personalities, and now - after quickly becoming one of the most sought-after tickets of 2019 – a technologically-advanced touring production to match.

Providing a much-needed extra pair of hands on the road was Technical Production Assistant, David ‘Dribble’ Poynter. “Tours of this stature typically take six months to put together, however, we’ve managed to put it together in the space of about six weeks,” stated Dribble. Due to a packed touring schedule, Dribble headed up the production reins during Southernwood’s absence. A challenge, he explained, which was aided by the tour’s outstanding crew. “It makes such a huge difference having good people onboard who understand the relationships in touring and how people gel together on the road.”

PLUG TUNIN Speaking during the opening day load-in at The SSE Arena, Wembley, Production Manager, Paul Southernwood discussed the tour’s origin story. “I was brought on at the very last minute by the design team at Mandylights, which is unheard of for a show of this scale,” the PM began earnestly. He explained that the tickets went on sale at such short notice and immediately sold out. “We’re trying to facilitate the demand by delivering the level of production required for artists of their calibre.” Capitalising on his live touring expertise, Southernwood founded Touring Solutions in 2003 in order to provide a one-stop production house for artists and management alike. From managing the heavy metal offerings of Volbeat in arenas and stadiums to the intimate jazz clubs of Marcus Miller and Herbie Hancock. “It’s about delivering the best audience experience possible, on-budget and on-time for our clients,” stated the PM, laying out Touring Solution’s modus operandi. To achieve this feat for Gods of Rap, Southernwood’s planning and co-ordination was meticulous, drafting in a roster of trusted professional crew members, along with familiar tour suppliers such as 80six for video, Brilliant Stages, while LS-Live provided a rehearsal space. Lights Control Rigging (LCR) delivered the lighting, Major Tom covered audio, Bittersweet Catering fed the troops, Studiocare Professional Audio supplied the DJ kit and Mandylights provided production design, as well as the lighting control package. On the road, Fly By Nite and On The Run Touring handled the logistics of kit and crew. “Having such little time has meant that there is complete concentration from those involved in delivering the production,” the PM declared.

BRING THE RUCKUS Entrusted with devising production design fit for hip-hop titans was Mandylights’ Richard Neville, Steve Bewley, Tom Edwards and Liam Tully. “We were lucky enough to get a fairly open brief which is a great but daunting way to start,” Neville commented. The collective worked backwards from the venues that we knew it were working in. “One of the things any designer loves are that we could work with 60ft trims in most spaces, we set out to create a really high, expansive design from the beginning.” Lighting Designer, Tom Edwards joined the conversation: “We all have previous hands on experience which assists us all as designers to conceptualise and design something that can tour practically.” Neville added: “We’ve all ended up with similar programming styles and a shared creative view. We have this perfect collaborative relationship where everyone contributes their own bits and pieces - it’s actually rare that any design goes out without some form of collaboration from the wider team.” As well as specifying the right kit within a budget and delivering a show design, Edwards outlined the importance of putting together a show which not only looks great but is a practical touring package which, with the tight schedule can “pack down, roll off stage and straight into the truck”. Bringing in Southernwood as Production Manager, was a “no brainer” according to Bewley. “I’ve worked with Paul for 15 years on various projects, 52

Creative. Production. Design. LED screens || Projectors || Media Servers & Playback Broadcast Camera Systems || Video Content Creation


so I knew he’d fit really well,” he said. “He’s a brilliant production manager and the fact he oversaw a European arena tour from start to finish with a short turnaround time reflects that.” Once Mandylights came up with the foundation of the design, the collective broke down the project into specifically constructed segments and allocated roles based on each of the designer’s specialties. “It’s a collaborative process, which involves liaising with artists and band management to come up with a production,” Bewley furthered. “The reception has been phenomenal, our clients are blown away with result.” Despite having performed sold out shows and created revolutionary music that has influenced millions across the globe, it came as a surprise to the Bewley that, historically, all four acts have rarely invested in show design. “We researched their history to give them something they’ve never had before, which is a huge production with a lot of thought put into it,” he walked TPi through the creative process, which involved watching hours of archival footage of the band’s previous gigs to see how they manoeuvred on stage. Neville stated that the stage design came about largely due to the sheer number of people on stage. “With up to 11 people at some stages of the show, we wanted a few levels and as much space as possible so the artists could be seen wherever they were. The few video elements we had here formed a backdrop to the stage and a central focus point in the middle of the upstage wall.” The infrastructure for the stage came courtesy of Brilliant Stages that provided the central stage, DJ risers and various platforms for artists to enter and exit with ease. LIGHTS IN DA FRONT Mandylights’ design started with upstage pods, which were originally depicted as two massive blocks of lights – but eventually became 12

smaller pods, having factored in its ease of touring. “The idea was very much to have a huge upstage wall of lights,” Neville explained. “We deliberately wanted to steer away from overwhelming video elements on this tour - they were never a part of the original tours for the bands back in the ‘90s so we wanted to recreate that massive lighting-based show design that the era was known for.” Light Control Rigging, a regular collaborator with Mandylights, were dropped into the mix. A show built on hype and nostalgia, LCR’s Mike Oates scoured the market for suitable fixtures that not only depicted the ‘90s-inspired parcan lighting rigs that not only Mandylights strived for aesthetically but were also readily available within the narrow 6-week time frame. “LCR are great, their attention to detail, quality of kit and crew are second to none” Edwards said, commending LCR’s understanding of the fast-paced touring landscape. Oates pointed the design firm to the capabilities of 96 Luxibel B Blinded 1 Lite LED Mole fixtures and a further 144 Luxibel B Narrow LED moving heads, manufactured by AED Group and in housed in LCR pods. Bewley stated: “The whole back wall gets a huge look with them and they’re really cost effective.” Despite playing a range of outdoors and indoor venues on this tour, Bewley believed that the Luxibel fixtures “managed to carry the look”, generating a multifaceted production design that can go straight into festivals in a modular way. “Despite being small units, they’re incredibly bright.” Overhead, 12 Martin by Harman MAC Viper Profile were rigged in a ‘V’ shape on the front of the stage as the primary front wash to “light the upstage risers” and “pick up specials.” Joining the lighting line-up were 57 Claypaky Mythos 2 fixtures. “They’re a decent hybrid fixture which I can get a wide array of effects out of,”



VJs Matt Sharp & Pete Thornton; Production Manager, Paul Southernwood; Lighting Designer, Tom Edwards; Technical Production Assistant, David ‘Dribble’ Poynter.

Edwards said. A total of 10 GLP impression X4 Bar 20s and 57 GLP JDC1 fixtures also covered the lighting rig. Edwards described the latter as “hands down” his “favourite strobe” on the market. In addition to devising production design, Mandylights supplied the entire FOH control package on this, which comprised 2 MA Lighting grandMA3 light consoles and a pair of Green Hippo Karst media servers. “We exclusively use MA lighting consoles on all of our shows,” Edwards referred to the popularity of the board. Bewley furthered: “We’ve just purchased a couple of additional grandMA3s,” bringing the design firm’s arsenal to a grand total of 4 brand-new, grandMA3 consoles. “It’s a great piece of kit. The hardware is amazing… I can’t wait for the software to roll out!” From the off, Bewley dubbed the production rehearsals at LS-Live as “paramount” but underlined time frame among the litany of challenges the design firm faced. “We’ve been getting hit curveballs every day,” Bewley explained the challenging process following the initial design sign off – which involved managing the artist management’s suggestions in line with budget restraints of production design. “We’ve had to fly by the seat of our pants, the Wu-Tang Clan alone having nine artist managers and an overall band manager, who are scattered across America, so it’s was a challenge to keep the ball rolling.”

“They’re great content creators and we simply had to get them involved because they’re huge fans,” Edwards noted their professional attributes. “They always put effort into their projects, going that extra mile to fully immerse themselves in research.” For six weeks, More Eyes co-founders, Pete Thornton and Matt Sharp, sifted through archive material to get inspiration for the visual content. “Pre-production time was limited,” Thornton began. “We knew the music well from growing up with it, so we spent a lot of time researching the whole history of the bands and the artists themselves looking for subtle reference points.” Sharp added: “We viewed every bit of footage we could get our hands on from live concerts and documentaries to music videos and fan filmed footage and listened to the albums back-to-back for weeks. We were thrilled to be in charge of delivering the content because we knew what elements would work well with the scale of this production.” Sharp reflected on the pre-production process which involved collating a goldmine of hip-hop deep cuts, samples, obscure kung fu movies and album covers. The duo scanned and traced the designs, imagery and logos to cut-up, animate and transform them into visual sequences. “We went through the artists discography to trace their influences and worked out how best to fit it into the structure of the stage design,” the designer said. “We’ve been trusted to build the visual content which expands on and embellishes each of the band’s live legacies.” De La Soul’s set involved daisy age visuals and bright colours, Public Enemy’s visuals portrayed the band’s signature black and white iconography and militant roots whereas the Wu-Tang Clan’s scenes contained references to old kung fu films and graphics synonymous with the Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) record right through to their modern albums and solo albums. Live Notch effects were used for certain tracks within the show, tracking the movements of the performers for songs such as Killa Beez where the bees swarmed around the rappers and falling dollar bills during C.R.E.A.M which wrapped around the band member on the mic.

VISIONZ For live visuals and content creation, Mandylights drafted in visual production specialist, More Eyes, to operate a live VJ setup for the tour incorporating their bespoke content, camera feeds and effects. During content production they used traditional methods of image sequencing and filming and combined them with 3D animation and motion graphics. The camera feeds were run via a pair of Green Hippo Karst media servers and then into the VJs Resolume server, allowing either a clean or a manipulated Notch feed with live effects. 56


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Video Engineer, Saria Ofogba; Video Director, Andy Warwick; Camera Operators Tom Rose, John Richards & Kevin King FOH Engineer, Jonny Williams & Monitor Engineer, Phil Down.

The VJs were able to mix between a clean or dirty camera feed. This allowed for even more layering of live effects “As yellow is a prominent colour with Wu-Tang Clan, we managed to get a shot of one of the members adjusting their cap in the camera feed, and as he moved away, it left a perfect yellow outline, which looked incredible!” Sharp exclaimed. During DJ Mathematics set, the VJs triggered an equally stunning wall of 3D visual content, which replicated a giant sound system, which was met with an audible gasp from the audience. “When that dropped it bathes the arena in gold glow and it looks insane,” Sharp reflected on the design concept which was generated in collaboration with BlinkinLab. “If we ever need help with 3D bits and pieces, they help us out – so big shout out to Tom and Satoko.” Thornton recognised the balance of generating a production for both die-hard fans and casuals. “The album is 25 years old so there’s a lot of nostalgia attached to it, but we’ve taken it into today’s market in terms of visual production. The lighting and stage design from the Mandylights team looked absolutely stunning so it was very important to complement their work. If you’re a super hip-hop head, there’s little nods and glimpses, and references to obscure artwork from over the years, which we’ve recreated to be able to blow them up to the stage set.” The VJs utilised Resolume Arena 6 software. “A lot of playback software is very rigid and timelined with not much creative flow but in a show like this when you need to be able to change things on the fly,” Sharp explained. “All three of these shows look quite different and with Resolume you can adapt your mixing to suit the style of each band.” Off the back of that, Sharp and Thornton used live MIDI controls to mix the visuals and effects in the live environment. “Every single night the show is different. It harks back to what VJing was about in the ‘90s, which is what the acts on stage are all about”. Helped out by cameraman Luke Redmond, they combined filming with bokeh lighting techniques to recreate a live version of the Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) album cover, where Sharp was filmed moving towards, away and around the camera wearing a black hoodie with white fabric

over his face. “It’s that type of content creation that we need on tours like this, where you’re required to think outside of the box,” Edwards mused. “As well as there being nine people on the stage, the content needs to look beautiful and intriguing to the eye and I think that the guys at More Eyes have achieved that.” Sharp concluded: “To be able to give these artists the level of production they deserve has been great, you’d be hard pushed to meet another group of more deserving and friendly artists in hip-hop.” SHE WATCH CHANNEL ZERO?! 80six supplied the integral video and camera package. To frame the action, Mandylights specified a central screen, made up of 70 ROE Visual MC7 7mm LED panels, as opposed to conventional left and right IMAGs because Bewley believed they “take your focus away from what is happening” on stage. “We wanted to keep everyone’s eyes on the stage but if you’re up in the gods you can still see the action.” The side platforms were made up 88 ROE Visual MC7 by 32 Roe Visual MC7 - 7mm LED panels. The transparent DJ riser boasted 24 ROE Visual MC7 7mmm LED panels. In the caverns of Manchester Arena backstage, TPi stumbled upon Video Engineer, Saria Ofogba, who waxed lyrical about the tour’s brandnew Blackmagic processing rack. Embarking on one of its first tours, the PPU was built up by a trio of Blackmagic Engineering monitors, a Blackmagic Hyperdeck c/w 500g Solid State Drive TX REC and a Blackmagic HD Live Switcher. “Blackmagic are great at putting together system which is easy to engineer as its mostly IP and computer based,” Ofogba added: “It travels well and fits into 2 flight cases leaving a smaller footprint.” In the Video Directors chair was Andy Warwick who, after a lengthy spell as a camera operator was embarking on his first touring VD role. “It’s been a while since I’ve been on a tour bus,” he laughed. “I haven’t committed myself to a tour for a long time, so I decided to dust off the cobwebs and jump straight in.” 58


Under Warwick’s direction, Camera Operators, Kevin King, John Richardson manned 2 Blackmagic Design URSA Studio broadcast cameras in the pit, mounted with HJ14 and HJ22 lenses, while Tom Rose operated from FOH, a BMD URSA studio camera mounted with a Fujinon XA95x8.8 HD Box Lens, housed on a Vinten V90 Heavyweight Tripod. Warwick also utilised a 4 Panasonic AW-UE70 4K PTZ cameras, controlled by a Panasonic AW-RP50 remote, allowing for very intimate and dynamic shots of the DJs, the stage and the crowd. Warwick praised this “great camera system”, which gave him substantial coverage of the mixing turntable. “I have a high reversing shot which looked fantastic when one of the guys jumped into the audience to a sea of hands - gorgeous.” The VD explained how the approach diversifies due to space restrictions. “I’m trying to make each night new and exciting because I don’t like repeating myself, at Manchester Arena, both of my main pit cameras are on the stage to give a completely different effect than the opening night in Wembley.”

The main PA hang comprised 14 Meyer Sound LEOs per side along with 4 LYONs per side. A trio of Meyer 1100 subs per side made up the flown sub hang. The ground sub array came in the shape of 6 Meyer Sound 1100 subs per side, arranged in cardioid configuration. While the side PA hang boasted 12 Meyer Sound LYON per side. Front fill and out fill duties were achieved by 8 Meyer Sound LINAs and 4 JM1Ps. “I hadn’t heard the PA system until we arrived at The SSE Arena, Wembley,” commented Williams. “Major Tom are one of the few rental houses in the UK that stock it,” he explained. “Having finally heard it, I must

BRING THE NOISE At FOH, TPi met Jonny Williams who headed up the incomparable task of mixing the Wu-Tang Clan, a Staten Island outfit that don’t typically tour with an FOH Engineer. “In theory, this should be a simple gig,” Jonny Williams admitted. However, the Wu-Tang Clan, are famed for their on-stage unpredictability. “There’s a lot going on with 11 Shure SM58 vocal mics, 14 Meyer Sound MJF 212 wedges and 8 members of Wu-Tang on the stage,” he pointed out. “It’s definitely a try not to panic and go with the flow kind of gig.” Initially, Williams was handed a list of 36 song long setlist. However, with no solid rehearsals or soundchecks under his belt, the engineers first encounter mixing the band live was during the tour’s opening date at The SSE Arena, Wembley – where the rule book was well and truly thrown out of the window. “They performed very few of the songs on the setlist,” he laughed, coyly. To this end, Williams relied on DiGiCo SD7s advanced automation capabilities to move the mixing consoles faders, recall EQs and dynamic settings. “I know the SD range like the back of my hand, which is great because this gig keeps me busy,” he went on the stress the importance of “getting to things quickly” on a project as hands-on as Gods of Rap. Situated on one universal rack, William’s DiGiCo SD7 shared an optical loop with a DiGiCo SD12 console in monitor world. He also sectioned the board into thirds with Public Enemy and De La Soul’s FOH Engineer, programming 40 individual snapshots for all three acts. “Everything is set to switch file so she can jump on and off the mixing desk,” he explained. Williams utilised a personal interface which comprised Waves MaxxBCL mastering hardware to contain 12 “shouty” vocal mics, without compromising the sound of the audience. He also brought along an RME Audio Interface to virtual soundcheck. “They’re both integral bits of kit which ensure the delivery of the show,” he announced. “I use this outboard gear on every gig.”

Production | Tour Design Live Visuals | Programming | Playback Content Creation | Creative Direction



admit that it sounds fantastic. It’s a really punchy and clear sounding PA system.” Williams also praised System Engineer, Rory Augier who joined him at FOH. “I hadn’t worked with him prior to this gig but he, along with our audio vendor at Major Tom, have been absolutely brilliant.” At stage left, was Monitor Engineer and Audio Crew Chief, Phil Down who defined the art of mixing hip-hop as a “different beast” to the wide array of genres in his extensive live mixing portfolio. “Everybody wants to be louder than everyone else so it’s literally a case of turning everything up to 11!” To tame the beast, Down mixed on a DiGiCo SD12. “It is 100% my console of choice,” he outlined. “The fact you can drop in an input channel wherever and next to whatever you want, as well as the addition of scenes to recall the layers and groups is excellent,” he continued. “It’s such an highly intuitive board, which is very easy to navigate.” Along with the litany of wedges on stage, 14 Meyer MJF 212s to be exact, a pair of Meyer 700 subs and 2 Meyer JM1Ps were ground stacked per side as sidefills. Down utilised DiGiGrid MGB and PSE Expander plug-ins, the latter allowed the Monitor Engineer to “very subtly duck” the sound and neaten the stage. He explained: “Whenever an on-stage artist hasn’t got a mic capsule to their mouth than the PSE Expander pulls the noise back to attenuates it.” For all of its unpredictability, Down praised the structure of the line-up. “DJ is the ultimate hype man for all three acts. De La Soul eases you in with their positive hip-hop, Public Enemy wakes you up with messages of fight the power, while the Wu Tang Clan are completely raucous,” he reflected. “It’s a pretty intense ride, if the bass doesn’t get you, I’m not sure what will!”

Dribble praised DJ Technician, Steve Alflatt. “He’s one of the best DJ technicians out there,” he continued. “Steve has been amazing at liaising and handling the DJs who are an integral part of this show. It’s a niche market and he’s nailed it.” WU-TANG FOREVER Known for their lyrical craftsmanship and raucous delivery, the live offering was a celebration of De La Soul, Public Enemy and Wu-Tang Clan’s extensive back catalogues . Gods of Rap, by all accounts, was a must-see for hip-hop heads. So much so, hip-hop compère extraordinaire, DJ Premier dubbed the line-up as the “three of the biggest and the best to do it”. Equally impressive was the core touring crew behind the curtain, who have crafted a production which not only compliments the music but conveys the ethos of each act, using modern technology to their advantage. Having teased the possibility of Gods of Rap 2, the live feat has firmly outlined hip-hop’s lasting legacy – catapulting the genre to the equally esteemed regard as ‘classic’ pop or rock acts. De La Soul summed up it best on the night: “This right here is really hip-hop and if you don’t like it then go get your bag and go the fuck home.” TPi Photos: TPi, Andrew Benge and Luke Dyson.

PREMIER AND THE GURU Studiocare Professional Audio supplied the DJ kit which comprised 2 Rane 62 DJ mixers, 3 Pioneer DJM-S9 battle mixers, 2 DJM900 Nexus Mixers, 4 Pioneer CDJ2000 Nexus CD players, 8 Technics SL1210 MK5 turntables and 3 Technics SL1210 MK5G turntables and 2 Rane 12 Battle controllers, 10 Ortophon Concorde Pros cartridge and stylus’. 60



THE SPECIALS: ENCORE 40TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR 2019 After topping the UK charts with their latest album, Encore, ska and two-tone trailblazers, The Specials, present an energetic, evocative and politically-charged live show to sold-out audiences across Europe, as TPi’s Jacob Waite discovers...

In an age of discontent, The Specials would be forgiven for resting on their veteran ska rooted laurels, and peddling tried and tested 40th anniversary touring conventions. However, they are far from a revival act. The band’s latest genre-spanning record, Encore, is the group’s first new material with vocalist Terry Hall since 1981’s anthemic Ghost Town single. The album marks a welcome return to the public consciousness, addressing Brexit, austerity, Black Lives Matter and mental health – crafted with the panache and signature rock steady beats synonymous with the Coventry outfit. The live offering also featured a DJ set by Saffiyah Khan, an activist famed for a viral photo of her standing up to the EDL while wearing a The Specials T-shirt - and now has a significant track on the band’s new album, 10 Commandments. Onsite at King George’s Hall in Blackburn, TPi met the touring crew tasked with bringing the band’s latest live vision to life under the careful supervision of longstanding Tour Manager, Mike Darling. “When I started, The Specials were in their fifties playing the music they wrote in their early twenties. Now, they are in their sixties playing music they’ve written in their sixties, which has been validated and given the thumbs up with a number one album and a long stretch of sold out tour dates ahead of them,” he said, proudly re-establishing the modus operandi. “This tour is about them in the present, their continued relevance, and their history.” Unsurprisingly, he added: “They’re enjoying themselves.” Darling explained his minimalist approach to the band’s live feat. “It’s relatively straightforward in terms of gear and not reliant on innovative technology,” he continued. “The primary focus is getting all of the components and ideas in tune with the strong stage set and lighting design

to make the show adaptable to different territories where the band might tour without trucks.” For suppliers, Darling turned his attention towards Adlib for audio and lighting, as well as TRUCKINGBY Brian Yeardley and Starsleeper to navigate the kit and crew across a series of UK and European pitstops. In the comfortable confines of a Starsleeper bus, TPi chewed the fat with Assistant Tour and Stage Manager, James Hayward. “I ended up working as a Guitar Technician for The Specials five years ago after a conversation with Mike at Backstage Academy when he was a guest lecturer.” Having worked with the PM on a range of projects, Hayward described his ‘yin and yang’ relationship with Darling: “He’s extremely organised, calm and placid. Everything he does is planned to a T. Whereas, I’m like a bull in a china shop,” he chuckled. “Mike’s got the plan and I’m the enforcer stomping around the stage all day, allowing him to organise and have confidence things will get done on the ground.” Hayward admitted it was a challenge to get his head around legal driving hours. “It’s simple if you know all the regulations but I wasn’t very well versed in that side of touring prior to taking on this role. But after some time with these guys I think I’ve cracked it.” Having provided a 45ft low ride truck for the tour, TRUCKINGBY Brian Yeardley Managing Director, Kevin Hopper, commented: “It was great to work with Mike and The Specials on such an important anniversary tour.” VOTE FOR ME When it came to set design, the artistic collective adopted a hands-on 63


approach. Lead singer, Terry Hall and bassist, Horace Panter painted placards which formed the upstage set and followed the themes of Encore. “It’s a bit of fun and reflects their humour,” Darling confirmed. “The new album went straight in at number one and this tour is as much about their new material as the 40th anniversary.” In line with the DIY approach, the tour’s N16 merchandise was curated by the band. “It chimes with the album and the stage set,” the PM said, noting a focus on better quality, ethically sourced garments. “Everyone seems happy about what we are presenting to the audience, from the quality of merchandise right the way up to the standard of the show.” To light the way, Darling asked Simon Pettitt to come on board with the band in 2014. Two years later, he joined Adlib. “It has been a project under Adlib for a few years,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot from Mike’s perceptive and inventive approach to projects, and I think he appreciates working with someone who cares about details as much as I try to.” The theatrical design was formulated around the tour’s custom grey risers. Pettit sourced a matching dancefloor and a ruched grey wool serge drape, custom dyed for the tour by Whaleys Stages. Keen on masking, he also included a border at the top of the grey drape so the silhouettes of the back truss fixture weren’t visible, which “all reinforced the theatrical undertone.” Pettitt’s brief was theatrical – and he told TPi exactly how he delivered: “I’ve generally kept sidelight booms and footlights close to hand.” Scenic uplights and footlights were achieved by 9 Prolights StudioCOB LED Par WWs. “Particularly with the new ‘protest sign’ scenic elements in place for this campaign, I primarily wanted to tone each song and showcase the signs, mood and messages, rather than trying to draw attention to any technical lighting effects,” Pettitt stated.

Six Chauvet Professional Strike 4 Blinders made up the floor LED lighting. “Every fixture type carries its weight at some point to give variety over the course of the set. The 14 Martin by Harman MAC Aura XBs, positioned on the side booms with Top Hats, are really useful with so much output in a tiny package and Vipers are still the workhorses they always have been.” Making way for variety, Pettitt purposed “shafts of light” to go against conical moving light beams, bringing in framing shutters in the shape of 8 Martin by Harman Viper Performance fixtures to reinforce the theatrical feel. “They cut boxes around people and frame risers to create thin shafts of light, while the 12 GLP impression X4 Bar 20s provide shafts as well, often used straight down vertical, all of which combine to read well on the grey dancefloor.” Adlib Lighting Technicians Ash Dawson and Dave Smith made up the lighting team. Tom Webber was tasked with lighting operation on the road by Pettitt, who dubbed him the right man for the job. “Tom operates some of Adlib’s most challenging projects, so I knew he would be able to tune in to the show. As a capable designer, I can trust him to react suitably to any requests throughout the tour.” The lighting design duo spent three days in Adlib’s WYSIWYG suite before the European leg of the tour, while also hosting the build of the custom risers and placards in the Adlib production space. Pettitt wound back the clocks: “It allowed Mike to oversee the preparation and eventually invite Terry to review both the set and pre-vis on day three, which got everyone on the same page.” For control, Webber manned an MA Lighting grandMA3 light console. “I moved to MA Lighting consoles around four years ago and I’ve never looked back. The grandMA3 is running in MA2 mode and we’ve had no problem with it. It took a little bit of getting used to because the button layouts are a 64


bit different but now it’s fine.” With no timecode, Webber manually triggered 447 cues. “We have programmed 36 tunes and they do about 27 a night on average,” said Webber. “Simon came out to Dublin for the first three UK shows. Each night we’d film the show and take notes. He has been keeping an eye on me on Instagram, so I hope I’ve done him justice!” Among Pettitt’s favoured looks were the shadows of placards on the drape in Vote For Me, the vertical downlight during Terry Hall’s verse on Man at C&A, and the GLP X4 Bar and MAC Performance fixture combination in Breaking Point. “I’ve tried to serve the music by toning and presenting it rather than doing anything too clever and superfluous,” he explained. “As long as fans go home talking about the music rather than the lights, I’ve done what I need to do.” While the subtleties, whites and pastels were plentiful, the show also exhibited big, saturated colours to break it up. Around 20% of the show included rich colour outputs which made “big statements” and accentuate the band at the desired, strategic moments. However, the feat didn’t come without its fair share of logistical challenges, given the diversity of venues, which often required crew to shrink and expand the floor package to fit the stage each day so Webber could get the variety of angles he needed. “We do arena gigs which are easier than this to load in and out. Some of the smaller venues are a real test. In Cardiff, the lift broke and we had to carry most of the kit up narrow, winding stairs. On the other hand, in Europe they played a 6,000-cap venue in Berlin. It was incredible to see the scale of venues fluctuate.” He gestured to the lighting rig which was split across three trusses over the stage. Webber added: “In the larger venues like Blackburn we managed to get the whole rig in and out. We chopped it down in Exeter, taking things off the mid truss and putting it to one truss at the end, while the floor

package has pretty much been the same for the entire tour, minus a pair of MAC Profile fixtures.” Pettitt reflected on one particular memory at the Camden Roundhouse in 2014. “I remember fans bringing their teenage sons to the show. They looked uninterested walking in but then exclaimed: “Dad, that was unbelievable” on the way out. The importance - the musical education wasn’t lost on them, and that still happens now.” Pettitt concluded: “I’m thankful for having a little part to play in the legacy of a band still as important in 2019 as they were in the late ‘70s. They are not just playing the hits each year – they are very much a current band going out with new music and pushing subjects as relevant now as they ever were.” NITE KLUB Perrin and Ferrari specified the PA system together, choosing an L-Acoustics K2 system for its flexibility and lightweight application. Playing the wide selection of venues on the itinerary, there wasn’t always the option to fly – and even when there was, tight weight-loading limits had to be adhered to, so the engineers wanted a lightweight system which worked equally well flown or ground stacked. The tour’s largest configuration contained 10 L-Acoustics K2 elements flown each side, or 6 per side ground-stacked with L-Acoustics K2 run in conjunction with 12 L-Acoustics KS28 subs to provide additional coverage for the band’s all-important groove section and the distinctive ska sound. Where possible, the subs were arranged in clusters of 2 high stacks at 1m intervals across the front of the stage to create a sub arc for low-end coverage throughout the room. This was complemented by 6 L-Acoustics KARA speakers and 8 ARCSIIs, specified to fill coverage gaps and voids in various room layouts on 66


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Lighting Technician, Ash Dawson; Audio Technician, Sam Gallagher; Audio Technician, Kenny Perrin, Tom Webber & Dave Smith; FOH Engineer, Marcos Ferrari; Assistant Tour Manager & Stage Manager, James Hayward.

the road. L-Acoustics LA12X amplifiers powered the main system and subwoofers. Adlib Systems Engineer, Kenny Perrin joined Ferarri at FOH. System processing was achieved by Coda Audio LiNET Switch 2-in / 4 out LiNET Distribution. Ferrari exclaimed: “The L-Acoustics rig with the punk rock sounds amazing!” Ferrari’s mixing console of choice was a Midas PRO6, which he utilised along with classic outboard delays and reverbs, including gems from the analogue era such as a Yamaha SPX2000 digital effects processor, Lexicon PCM70 and 480L reverbs, an Avalon VT737SP Tube Class A Voice Channel and a legendary Roland Space Echo, which was prominent in the vibrant and complex ska sound and helped replicate the old school 1970s disco sound of Encore. The FOH effects were fed into the console via a Midas DL451 rack and the onstage mic preamps were via 2 Midas DL431s. “Midas is the best console for this mid-range application. There’s so much stuff going on with brass, guitars, and vocals. A lot of consoles can’t handle the mid-range as well as Midas because the preamp is excellent,” Ferrari gestured to the board at his fingertips. “I like to be hands-on with my mix, I’m constantly riding the faders.” On stage, TPi met Keyboard Technician, Nick Maule, who has worked with the band since 2014. “Marcos and I are the oldest techs on this tour. Blackstar have provided our amps while Yamaha has provided us with a CP88 digital stage keyboard, the drums and Lynval’s guitar, which he loves.” An important cog in The Specials’ touring machine, the keyboard rig has grown exponentially. “The latest album relies on a lot of real instruments in the studio so we’re trying to recreate that sound in a live environment,” Maule stated. “The band used so many raw keyboards in recording it’s been particularly difficult to replicate without having truckloads of keyboards.”

Maule used MainStage keyboard software to put everything together. He explained: “We’ve got lots of different plug-ins which Keyboard and Vocal Technician, Nikolaj Larsen triggers via Nord CT and then we use this CT for live old school stuff and the CP88 for the piano sound. Shout out to Nord, we use their kit extensively. Yamaha has also been great to us and lent us a lot of the kit.” Leading the charge in monitor world was Marina Martinez Sebastian, who was joined by Adlib Monitor Technician, Sam Gallacher. Sebastian’s stage-left introduction to The Specials was equal parts daunting and exhilarating. “My first gig with the band was during their hometown show in Coventry supporting The Rolling Stones, which was a huge step for me. A real make or break situation.” No pressure, right? Sebastian mixed on a DiGiCo SD10. “This board has really great features which I can maximise throughout the show,” she furthered. “It’s a big console with three banks of 12 channels which allow me to keep inputs on both sides with my outputs in the middle.” A veritable feast of wedges adorned the stage, with 14 Adlib AA1515W 15-inch and 2-inch MP4 Bi-Amp wedges, driven by a Lab Gruppen PLM 1000Q amp racks. Sebastian explained: “Half of the band on the front line are on wedges, which is how it’s always been, and the band want to keep it that way.” The strings, brass and keyboard players employed a mix of Jerry Harvey Audio and Sennheiser IE4 IEMs. “You can get a more detailed front of house mix with the in-ear moulds but there are lower end and physical movements from the driver, so having a low end on the stage helps. It works really well because the band like to have a loud stage and my job is finding the right balance.” 68

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“I love the fact that you can use either a compressed or static array technique. Doing a compression rig, two guys can fly a 12-box array in 20 minutes. Can’t beat that!” Dave Hallock, Senior Engineer, Mountain Town Music “It’s truly a game-changer in terms of performance-to-size ratio and overall value in line arrays” Brent Naylor, Windy Shores Sound “They’re smaller, lighter, and louder. What more could you ask for in a box, in a day and age where truck space is important?” Ben Stowe, NLFX Pro “A fantastic combination of high sound pressure, extended high-frequency response and linear low-frequency output.” Neal Allen, Merlin PA


Drum Technician, Chris Butterworth & Keyboard Technician, Nick Maule.

The arena-worthy monitor setup allowed Sebastian to mitigate the loud stage. “It’s a compromise between making the guys feel good on stage as well as keeping it contained,” Sebastian outlined. “In particularly difficult venues like Blackburn, if you push the stage sound too much you get a lot of slapback, which not only makes for a messy stage but affects the front of house sound.” Sebastian praised the band’s enthusiasm and energy on-stage. “They get very excited and the SPL level goes up dramatically,” she enthused. “The first half of the show is a mix between old school and the new Encore album. The last five songs are all top beat, loud sounding anthems which makes it a really fun show to be a part of!” For microphones, Sebastian utilised a range of Shure products. Specifically, a Shure Beta 91 Microphone, a Shure Beta 52A Microphone, 2 Shure Beta 57A Microphones, 2 Shure SM57 Microphones and 4 Shure Beta 58a Microphones. A trio of AKG 451 Condenser Microphones and a pair of AKG 451 Condenser Microphones, along with a Beyerdynamic M88 Microphone joined the roster of mics; complete with LP Claw Mic Support. A couple of Audio-Technica AT897 shotgun microphones were also purposed as ambient mics. Audio-Technica’s Global Artist Relations and Brand Projects Manager EMEA, Edward Forth commented: “Adlib is not alone in choosing the AT897 as an ambient mic; an increasing number of engineers are relying on its smooth, natural sounding audio and longdistance pickup. Despite being designed for broadcast, with the increase in use and quality of IEMs, it is fast becoming the sensible, value for money choice for on-stage ambience.” Sebastian walked TPi through the placement of the mics. “On drums,

we’ve got Adix D6s and a Shure Beta 91 on the kick. We use Shure SM57 Microphones for the snares, AKG 451 Condenser Microphones on the overheads, bass on DI and a Beyerdynamic M88 Microphone, which allows me to use more mic on the in-ears so it sounds nicer.” On the stage, the Monitor Engineer purposed DIs to overcome feedback from the litany of wedges. “We have a very standard setup when it comes to mics. The vocals are achieved by wireless Shure Beta 58a Microphones, which give Terry freedom to travel the stage without compromising the sound.” WE SELL HOPE As the sold-out audience in King George’s Hall roared and skanked its approval, Darling’s words reflected the unyielding energy of The Specials and their core touring crew, which shows no sign of slowing down. “The Specials are a very unique band and they have influenced a lot of people,” Darling said. “What makes them stand out is that they deliver a strong commentary on our times and strike a number of chords. I don’t think there are currently a lot of writers around who say what they want so clearly and emphatically.” TPi Photos: Steve Sroka, Alex Painter, Adlib & TPi 70




EUROVISION SONG CONTEST 2019 HIGHLIGHTS The 64th Eurovision Song Contest saw almost 10,000 ESC enthusiasts gather at Tel Aviv Expo, Israel and around 180 million watching the televised live broadcast. The amount of technical expertise required for three shows was outstanding, especially as this year the contest played in two halls. TPi took a look at some of the manufactures that made the event possible. Photos by Ralph Larmann.

As partner to the rental company Agorà, Sennheiser RF experts were on site to assist with the system planning for wireless microphones and monitors, as well as frequency management and RF monitoring. The system deployed by Agorà and Sennheiser included 140 wireless microphones from Sennheiser’s Digital 6000 and 9000 Series, plus 42 channels of 2000 series IEMs with a total of 196 IEM bodypacks. “The main technical challenge for the ESC 2019 was the fact that it took place in two halls, with a third hall of Expo Tel Aviv hosting the press centre,” said Volker Schmitt, Director Customer Development and Application Engineering. “The main hall with the stage and its extraordinary LED wall seated 7,500 spectators. From here, the stage shows were transmitted to a second hall with the Green Room, where another 2,000 audience members watched the live shows via a huge video wall.” The serious phase of frequency planning for Schmitt and his team began in early March with another round of frequency measurements on site. “We checked occupied frequencies inside and outside of Expo Tel Aviv, and compared the data to earlier measurements in order to have a broad basis for our frequency plan. We found quite a bit of DVB-T activity, but with the frequency efficiency of Digital 6000, we managed to find room for all mics and in-ears,” said Schmitt. “The frequency plan also encompassed the press centre, because we wanted to avoid disturbance if a media team with wireless equipment walked over to the stage hall or the Green Room.” When installing the RF wireless infrastructure on site, special attention – as always – was paid to the positioning of the receiver and transmitting antennas. Asked about the biggest challenge in this field, Schmitt mentioned the video wall in the Green Room: “Unlike the fantastic stage LED wall, this smaller video wall emitted a lot of RF noise, so special care was required in positioning the antennas to circumvent the disturbances. For the Green Room interviews between artists and hosts, we deployed two A 2003 receiver antennas plus two A 5000-CP for transmitting the monitoring signals.” Another challenge that popped up shortly before one of the live shows was the dress that one of the hosts was going to wear. Said Schmitt: “This dress was mainly made of metal threads – underneath it, the transmitter was more or less perfectly shielded! We briefly spoke with production and

SENNHEISER the dressing team, and convinced them that the transmitter should be worn above the dress. Together, we quickly came up with the idea of a sort of belt for the dress, which we could attach the host’s SK 6000. When something like this happens shortly before a show, it really gets exciting.” Of course, a frequency plan needs to be closely monitored and protected on site. Despite an armada of warning signs saying that nonapproved wireless gear must not be used anywhere on the ESC grounds, a total of 39 unauthorised wireless users were located and “caught” before their gear could disturb any of the performances. RF World accommodated 44 two-channel microphone receivers and 21 two-channel in-ear monitoring transmitters. While the Sennheiser wireless system for the stage and the Green Room was supplied by Agorà and the press centre system by Kilim, the Sennheiser ESC team brought some last-minute extras with them to cater for special requests. “We had specially-made headsets for the lady hosts, who also got IE 500 PRO in-ear phones instead of the standard IE 40 PROs. Another extra option on hand was a pair of SKM 9000 for the Russian participants, who needed silver microphones. For the same reason, the hosts were switched to SKM 9000s, too.” With the rehearsals starting almost four weeks before the finale, the Sennheiser RF team on site included eight RF wireless experts. “This enabled us to rotate the team members,” said Schmitt. “Actually, our team was almost as international as the song contest itself: one person from the Netherlands – who was a very happy guy after the finale – two Danish guys, one Brazilian, one Korean and three Germans. We were extremely pleased with the excellent cooperation within the entire production team, and in particular with the Agorà team.” 73


2DiGiGrid MGB audio interfaces and 2 Mac computers running Waves’ Tracks Live DAW for multi-track recording. Said Zur: “I used Waves’ Primary Source Expander (PSE) and the X-FDBK feedback elimination plugins, followed by the Dugan Automixer on each host’s mic.” All these were then routed as a group, processed by Waves MaxxVolume. “I first used the X-FDBK for ringing the PA (with the PSE and Dugan on bypass). One of the techs, with a headset on, walked all along the catwalk while I was ringing the PA for more accurate EQ, and also in order to get rid of potential feedback. Then, I ‘locked’ X-FDBK and used the PSE just to make sure that only the primary source (MC) will be heard.” The Dugan Automixer gave the Engineer the freedom to work on other things in the mix while a single host is speaking, or even when all of the four presenters are speaking simultaneously. “It’s as though I had another ‘ghost engineer’ behind the scenes, fading quickly in and out as the hosts speak into the mics.” This way, he could easily get rid of all the ambiance rumble that usually occurs when using headset mics. The Dugan Automixer plugin also helped Zur maintain the same SPL in the mix, so if there are one or more speaking hosts, they will all be projecting the same volume. Zur added: “For mixing the 41 delegations’ songs and the interim guest acts, and to ensure that it sounds as close as possible to the original tracks, each song had snapshots containing the changes of the vocal effects, the basic balance of the lead and backing vocals, and also the overall tracks.” The Waves Primary Source Expander and the Scheps Omni Channel came in handy for processing each of the vocalist’s channels, followed by the Waves C6 Multiband Compressor on the vocal group for final shaping. The Engineer also used the Waves F6 Floating-Band Dynamic EQ on the playback group from the side chain/vocal group, to make sure that the vocals are in your face and up front, especially when the vocal was competing with a massive musical arrangement. He purposed Waves’ H-Reverb Hybrid Reverb and H-Delay Hybrid Delay for vocal effects, the Waves Doubler for harmonizer, JJP Vocals for backing vocals, and the Waves/Abbey Road EMI TG12345 Channel Strip for special overdrive effects and parallel compression on lead vocalists. To complete the sonic picture, on the Master L/R, I slapped on the Waves SSL G-Master Buss Compressor followed by the L2 Ultramaximiser. “Eurovision 2019 was a massive production in terms of scale and responsibility,” Zur concluded. “Waves tools enabled us to take on this challenge with the confidence and conviction that we will have a smooth ride.”

WAVES Senior Audio Broadcast Engineer, Omer Barzilay and FOH Engineer, Eran Ben Zur, chose Waves plugins and the Waves eMotion LV1 live mixer to power the sound, broadcast live to over 200 million viewers. For Barzilay, Waves was the obvious choice for broadcast mixing. “It is a clear advantage to have a software-based system,” he commented. “We were able to easily create identical systems with 2 Waves SoundGrid servers each, and we created even more backups on our personal laptops.” Barzilay continued: “One of the greatest advantages of using the LV1 is that I was able to mix most of the songs ahead of time.” During the show the engineer routed all audio to the eMotion LV1 mixer and to a multi-track recording computer. He then used the LV1 mixer’s A/B input to route the recorder back in, so he could continue mixing the show between takes. He added: “My go-to’s are the Scheps Omni Channel– this was the only channel strip I used for all vocals, including de-essing, EQ, compression and saturation. On lead vocals, the Waves C6 Multiband Compressor was extremely valuable in controlling high and low frequencies and for controlling pops and hisses. We also used the Waves Dugan Automixerplugin for all hosts’ and guests’ mics. “The Waves H-Reverb Hybrid Reverb is my main and go-to reverb. Having said that, we also used the Waves IR1 Convolution Reverb and Renaissance Reverb. My main delay is the Waves H-Delay Hybrid Delay, which I used for around 90 percent of the delays in this production. In addition, I used the Manny Marroquin Delay for L/R separation. Finally, the Abbey Road TG Mastering Chain was on our master chain: all music was routing through it.” FOH Engineer, Zur commented about his workflow and using Waves plugins: “You need to mix the show for the 8,000 seated in the arena, achieving the right sound pressure level to ensure that the audience receives the right amount of sonic energy. But you also need to make absolutely sure that the PA won’t interrupt a smooth, clean and clear broadcast.” The FOH setup included 2 DiGiCo SD7 consoles with Waves MultiRackSoundGrid setups complementing each console, Waves SoundGrid Extreme Servers and touch screens to run Waves plugins, plus 74


Once again, Osram was the official lighting partner for the Eurovision Song Contest with a total of 406 Claypaky fixtures being featured on the rig. Included on this years setup was the brand new Axcor 600 and Sharpy Plus, along with the Sharpy Wash and Scenius Unico. Lighting for the 2019 edition was entrusted to Ronen Najar and Dakar Azulay with support from Danish rental company, LiteCom. The two Israeli lighting designers who were able to combine their respective skills in the live, musical and television fields to ensure that high level of quality expected from the contest. The show’s lighting design was based upon a concept created by Florian Wieder, who wanted to create a scene recalling the Star of David – the symbol of the state of Israel. Ronen Najar began: “There are a total of around 1,600 fixtures for the main stage, alongside a further 200 for the green room. These fixtures are largely LED, a decision which prompted an in-depth study in order to provide balance with a choice of colour temperature from 5000K to 5600K. This provides an output that is not too warm, tending slightly towards pink.” The 406 Claypaky fixtures - 66 Axcor 600s 152 Sharpy Washes, 116 Sharpy Plus’ and 72 Unicos - performed the lion’s share of the show’s lighting. In particular, Sharpy Plus’ gave life to extraordinary spot-beam effects, working in combination with luminous triangles that covered the entire roof of the venue. “As far as the choice of fixtures is concerned, the main objective was to make the most of the triangular shapes on the roof” said Najar. “We worked closely with the Claypaky staff to find the best solution and, many months before the event, went to the company’s Seriate headquarters in Italy to see the various projectors up close,” commented Najar. “Scenius Unico, mainly used for the high and low backlight sections between screen and stage, was the product that impressed us the most. Its complete feature set leads to extreme flexibility, making it the obvious choice to use within our design. “Among the most recent Claypaky innovations, we have chosen to use the Axcor Profile 600and the Sharpy Plus. These were both positioned

CLAYPAKY inside and around the luminous triangles on the roof. Axcor 600s were also dedicated to lighting the sets of the various artists and, if necessary, for lighting the walkway that ran around the stage. Finally, Sharpy Washes were entirely dedicated to lighting the audience.” An extremely important aspect for any television production is maintaining a level of balanced light intensity across the whole location. “We were easily able to maintain the same level of intensity throughout the show, whilst maintaining a balance between keylight, backlight and the rest of the rig lights. This was, of course, achieved in unison with the video, effectively facilitating the work of the camera operators,” added Najar. There was also great satisfaction from Osram, as well as amongst Claypaky staff, who once again wanted to support the show closely to welcome all the reflections and inputs of the professionals employed for the majestic event. “The Eurovision Song Contest is a very important platform, offering the possibility of providing further visibility to our brand in a country such as Israel – one hugely active in the entertainment market,” commented Massimo Bolandrina, Claypaky’s Sales Manager. “Claypaky has an excellent distribution capacity in the country, with many contacts with leading lighting designers and rental companies.” Marcus Graser, designated CEO of Claypaky concluded: “Being here and following this event with a different role and through different eyes is extremely interesting, as it allows us to even better understand what a fixture can do and how complex and fascinating its uses can be. The result is a perfect mix of technology and creativity.”



for the same reason, and the placement of fixtures around the venue also referenced weight and involved some careful calculations. Joshua Cutts from Visual Frontier in South Africa ran the audience lighting and the key lighting was looked after by Azulay who had all the master intensities on his console and ran these in conjunction with Ivan Eftimov operating a separate desk. Moti Aroshas operated the green room lighting. Integral to the lighting programming team was lead programmer Matti Murray, ensured the night-time sessions ran productively and efficiently assisted by Chris Bolton of Keystone Productions, also from South Africa. Najar really enjoyed working collaboratively with so many first-rate people and being part of a cosmopolitan team bringing so much collective experience to the table. “We all learned a lot from one another, and it was a very invigorating environment!” he declared. The team were onsite in Hall Two for 4 weeks, and before that, Najar, Azulay and the core lighting creative team spent three weeks in a visualisation studio running WYG and MA3D. Applying some special trickery, they were able to mimic the production rigs automation elements, the video content onscreen and the camera views and movements in the visualiser, being controlled via Cue Pilot. Head of Automation on the event was Shay Bonder. Video content was produced by Gravity and the playback video was operated by Yahav Tenne. Lighting equipment was supplied and co-ordinated by Denmark based Litecom.

ROBE Nearly 300 strategically placed Robe moving lights, a mix of Robe BMFL WashBeams, BMFL Spots and MegaPointes, were specifically requested by this year’s lighting designers, Ronen Najar and Dakar Azulay. The 116 Robe BMFL WashBeams were installed across the roof of the venue and were utilised for all the key lighting “from the front, rear and side and several positions.” “We needed a powerful lightsource, and we wanted one type of fixture to take care of every aspect of the key lighting,” elucidated Najar. “For this, we thought the BMFL WashBeam was the best option.” A total of 87 BMFL Spots were used for all the audience lighting. This is vital in a show like Eurovision to ensure that TV directors Amir Ukrainitz and Sivan Magazonik had a constant and consistent selection of go-to audience shots to add to the broadcast mix. The 78 Robe MegaPointes were dotted around the audience trusses and above the stage, used for effects and to assist in the epic lighting looks. Another reason they were keen to use these Robe fixtures was the lightweight, keeping in mind the weight loading of the roof a show like this with a massive production is not an everyday occurrence. They chose multiple LED fixtures

looks to handle a show of this size and diversity. Key to their enormous and extremely adaptable design were over 700 LED lighting fixtures from Ayrton. “Our main idea was to maintain the special stage design developed by Florian,” explained Najar. “We therefore chose to use a significant amount of Ayrton MagicBlades to create new geometric lines as a backdrop that enforced the triangular motif and allowed us to be innovative and create multi-dimensional art.” A total of 330 MagicBlade-R and 206 MagicBlade-FX were rigged on ladders at regular intervals across the massive back wall and side walls, and interspersed with 100 Khamsin-TC profile fixtures. “The MagicBlades took a major role,” continued Najar. “We used them for the dominant moments, as well as a background to support the LED screen. When you have 500 pretty identical fixtures on the back wall, you definitely can create exciting looks and

AYRTON This year’s ESC lighting rig boasted over 700 Aytron fixtures to aid Set Designer, Florian Wieder, and Lighting Designers, Ronen Najar and Dakar Azulay to created individual looks for each of the 41 competing countries. Wieder’s iconic stage design was based on triangles and the number 12 important symbols for Israel – while Najar and Azulay chose a large number and variety of lighting fixtures which allowed them to create enough unique 76


mixtures! One of the most significant moments was the opening number for the very first broadcast - the host nation’s song Toy by last year’s winner, Netta.” Najar and Azulay also chose 46 Ayrton Ghibli profile fixtures to outline the downstage edges of both the main stage and the catwalk which looped out into the arena, from where they were used to create stunning, striking aerial effects. 44 Ayrton Bora-TC wash fixtures were chosen for the Green Room where they were used as the main key light fixtures for the delegations from each country. “The Bora units definitely met the expectations we had for them, providing us with great colour and brightness for our purposes,” said Najar. “All of the Ayrton fixtures provided an impressive range of colours and intensities that were perfect for broadcasting conditions.” 48 MagicDot-R units completed the inventory from Ayrton and were used for the Israeli entry, Home by Kobi Marimi, to give it a unique look. Ayrton’s LED sources also played an important factor, in terms of both size and cost savings. “The venue’s weight limits were much smaller than that of Eurovision 2018, so we preferred the smaller LED fixtures,” explained Ronen. “The fact that all the Ayrton fixtures are LED driven generated savings of over 100,000€ in diesel for the generators,” added Ola Melzig, Eurovision’s Production Manager. “Ayrton fixtures have become a major part of the Eurovision experience over the last two years and proved themselves the ultimate in versatility, creativity and cost-effectiveness. I’m looking forward to the next opportunity to team up with this great company and yet again pull something amazing out of the hat on the absolute highest level of performance within music entertainment.”

For the first time, DTS fixtures were chosen for the Eurovision Song Contest’s lighting plot, providing 376 Katana LED bars in the main hall with 48 Synergy 5 Profiles installed in the Greenroom. Thanks to the Katana’s 3.5° - 30° linear zoom, meant the fixtures were able to project in the air an extremely bright lighting cut. Installed above the audience and all around the main hall and, with the single pixel, adapted to each performance with dynamic multicolour effects. The extreme versatility and brightness made Synergy 5 Profile perfect to light up the multilevel scenography of the Greenroom, where the singers were interviewed during the show and were waiting for the on-air light with their delegation. Synergy 5 Profile, thanks to its rotating framing system, allows to direct the light and shape the beam without losing brightness. Lighting Designer, Ronen Najar said of the DTS products: “We hung the Katana around the stage and above the crowd. Katana was the perfect fixture for continuing the triangle ceiling design and completing the lines from the triangle video strip. With the new module designed for us, we used the Katana all the time. Synergy was hung in the Green Room and helped

DTS LIGHTING us to duplicate the feeling from the main venue. We were very happy and all units worked without problems.” DTS Sales Director, Raffaella Scaccia, added: “Eurovision Song Contest is with no doubt an important event for people and companies who work in the entertainment industry. We are really proud of this new challenge that made us better known throughout Europe, showed our energy and focus on growth and improvement. According to the contest lighting crew, our products have proved to be very reliable and we are happy that the Made in Italy concept is once again confirmed as an added value.”


p1 dl






headroom is enough for the project,” said Jamie Sunter, Support Specialist at disguise. “With high resolution outputs, large number of props for all the different acts, as well as 400+ universes of Art-Net being output, the system coped fantastically with these requirements. A huge bonus was the larger storage space in the vx 4 meaning the team didn’t have to clean up older file versions during rehearsals.” The disguise servers received LTC, ensuring the main cues were triggered at the correct time. Much of the programming was completed in the run up to the Tel Aviv events, using disguise’s r15.3 software to pre-visualise the whole show and sequence all the content. The team used disguise’s Visualiser Camera feature and then virtually mapped and sequenced each camera shot and path to the directors’ requirements. From there, they transferred the project from the Designer machines to the actual hardware. “This was very powerful as this was the first time that the Camera Directors could see how all their shots would look for each song, and then send renders to the Delegates by simply recording the stage,” Bonder explained. “We had a full 3D model of the stage, as well as seating banks, so that it was a true representation. We also had all the country-specific props and screen movements so it looked exactly how it would for real. From there, the guys then used the OSC module in disguise to send out the Camera positions to WYSIWYG. This meant that the Lighting Team also had these Camera pre-visualisations and could see how their design worked with all elements.” On disguise programming and operating duties was Gwilym Huws, workflow specialist at Bild Studios: “disguise’s feature-set made many elements of pre- and on-site production much simpler and more powerful. It was particularly useful for swapping out props when needed, as well as Screen Position Layer, for the mapping to be correct. Even generative things like radar and strobe were used for some animations in the show on the legs and catwalk.” Ola Melzig concluded: “Video content, LED on a massive scale, and projection mapping is the backbone of the Eurovision spectacle and I was thrilled to bring it back in such an incredible way this year. This is the first time we’ve brought in disguise’s vx 4 and 4x4pro servers and their support team, including Jamie Sunter, and we’re hugely impressed. With so much to integrate, process and create, the machines and the people did a fantastic job.” From commission to delivery, disguise’s support team were involved in all aspects of the video project, as Bonder said: “Their support was amazing throughout. Before the setup in the venue, disguise set us an online Slack account, on which they answered any questions we had from venue setup. On-site, Jamie checked system stability throughout the process and helped us with whatever we needed.”

DISGUISE The 64th edition of the much-loved song contest featured a 250sqm high-resolution LED, diamond-shaped stage, backed by a 36 x 12m high-resolution LED wall made up of 12 individual screens, all supplied by PRG. Over 16,998,976 pixels lit up the stage, making it the highest resolution LED set in Eurovision history. Eurovision Production Manager Ola Melzig, and Head of Video and Stage Technology, Shay Bonder, approached disguise to deliver and manage a server system capable of processing the mammoth amount of data required for the vast scale of the project. “With more than 50 live acts performing in quick succession with various tech props including huge screen projectors and massive amounts of LED, we needed a powerful system that offered multi-station editing capabilities,” said Bonder. “A major challenge for us was making the pre-programming process as accurate as possible and then operating it in perfect sync, without issue. disguise’s software allowed us to pre-programme with cameras and automation - the camera directors actually showed the camera operators the render from the Designer machines in order to give them instructions, and the ability to programme one track while another is playing, plus the power to easily feed content to DMX screens and quick calibration of projectors,” he added. “The disguise system became an integral part of the creative process as we could test video content automation and camera angles in the pre-programming process and change them accordingly to achieve our vision.” Peter Kirkup, disguise Technical Solutions Manager worked with Bonder to support him in the system design process. The team specified 6 disguise vx 4 servers and 2 4x4pro servers. “The pro range of disguise servers were designed to play huge video content across massive canvases,” said Kirkup. “Thanks to the VFC technology, the vx 4 and 4x4pro servers allow us to drive large shows like this with fewer machines, reducing space, time, setup, risk, and management overhead.” The vx 4 servers were used as Pure Master, output slaves and Backup servers. The 4x4pro servers were utilised for add-on elements and backup. The vx 4s were fully loaded with HDMI 2.0 VFC cards; the 4x4pros had onboard Quad-DVI VFC cards. disguise recently launched its vx 4 servers with more storage and a new NVMe RAID drive array. “This system design is all about making sure that the performance 78

we put more in so you get more out. more playback: up to four 4K lossless video streams at 60fps. more capture: 16 3G-SDI sources, or four 4K sources (2160p60). more network: two 25Gb/sec and two 10Gb/sec ethernet ports. more storage: 4TB of ultra-fast NVME SSD. more quality: 10-bit and HDR support is here. more information: high-res OLED front panel. same goosebumps.

the new disguise vx 4 is here.

An MA onPC command wing located backstage was used for testing set and prop practical lights that were also integrated into the system for their slots. The lighting fixtures were supplied by several leading manufacturers, a massive job which was co-ordinated via Danish rental company Litecom, including any extras packages requested by individual delegations. The production also had to accommodate a show-stopping interval performance by Madonna, whose creative lighting requirements were overseen by LD Al Gurdon. Four dimmer city areas were connected via fibre and fed data and power to the whole rig. Three were located on a balcony running down one of the long sides of the venue - with cable runs added in via holes made in the wall. Dimmer City 2 was positioned behind the enormous upstage LED wall to provide power for the Matrix, which was built along the rear and sides of the stage area using Litecom’s MX Ladder system, holding a total of around 650 lighting fixtures. The fully redundant ethernet network infrastructure comprised 22 Luminex 16xt and 12r switches, all monitored closely by Collins from his PRTG software. Operating the main show lighting console was Angelo Di Nella (on a grandMA2 full-size). Joshua Cutts ran the audience lighting - also a major element of the broadcast - on a grandMA2 light. The key lighting was looked after by Ivan Eftimov on another grandMA2 light, all running with backup consoles. Playback video was operated via another light run by Yahav Tenne complete with backup, while Moti Aroshas took care of the green room lighting, again utilising a grandMA2 light with full backup. Dakar had a grandMA full-size on which he ensured that all the crucial key lighting levels and master intensities were spot on for the cameras. Collins’ system desk was also grandMA2 light. Najar didn’t operate a desk on this occasion; however, he creatively directed the overall show lighting and each delegation’s lighting in conjunction with all the operators. Integral to the programming team were lead programmer Matti Murray, who ensured the night-time sessions ran productively and efficiently assisted by Chris Bolton. A.B. Electronics is the exclusive distributor of MA Lighting in Israel.

MA LIGHTING MA Lighting was once again the control solution of choice for the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest. No less than 15 grandMA2 consoles graced the FOH technical area, controlling 71,061 parameters and a mix of over 2,500 light sources and LED fixtures. These were lighting the main stage – another elegant design by Florian Wieder – the auditorium and the green room. As any ESC fan will know, the green room is a vital area for the broadcast, capturing the emotional thrills and spills of the delegations as the points are awarded and they yoyo up and down the leader board! MA was chosen by several on the creative and technical team coordinated by ESC’s head of production Ola Melzig, including Jack Collins, the event’s lighting systems and control specialist who has worked on several ESCs in recent years. The decision was based on it providing the most rock-solid reliable and flexible system option. “The multiuser functionality and ability to control every fixture from every console and to alter fixture types to suit your needs were two big advantages of the MA architecture,” commented Collins, “plus the network’s overall stability and troubleshooting facilities.” Once the installation was up and running and the production period commenced, Collins watched all the grandMA2 system monitors from his console and could read out every command and, if necessary, search the history, track down errors and pass the information back to the programming team. Macros were also an essential part of the lighting process for a show with short changeover times and many complex sets to accommodate. This enabled timecode information, presets, views, starting and preparing cues to be changed in an instant. Three grandMA2 full-size plus a backup were utilised as the main show desks, and 11 grandMA2 lights - six active and five backups - were also in the lighting network, created using 20 MA NPU (Network Processing Unit), 25 MA 8Port Nodes and two Swisson 8-port nodes, running on 10 UPS’s. 80

SK 6212

Size matters — performance counts.

Huge expectations meet a compact design. Performers find this mini bodypack transmitter neither heavy nor conspicuous. Technicians appreciate an easy set up and proven reliability. The digital SK 6212 is now heralding a new era. This mini bodypack provides 12 hours of operating time and its intermodulation-­free transmission concept enables more reliable channels, even in congested frequency ranges. Meet the next ­generation of an industry standard:

SK6212_210x297_tpi_UK.indd 1

11.04.19 18:18

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FESTIVAL FOCUS 2019 Live event design and technology highlights from the busy, summer festival season.

MA LIGHTING: SPOT FESTIVAL The annual music festival in the city of Aarhus, Denmark, showcases up-andcoming Danish and Scandinavian talent. Artists and bands from all corners of popular music play various stages across the town. This year’s festivities feature over 25 stages, 200 acts and an extensive MA Lighting presence. Lighting Designer and Programmer Heiða Kristín Ragnarsdóttir used an MA Lighting grandMA3 light console to run lighting on her stage, that was reserved for WILM (Women In Live Music), a European non-profit organisation that supports women working behind the scenes and backstage. This stage was also special this year, because for the first time ever in Denmark, it was run by an all-female tech crew. Ragnarsdóttir explained why she voted for MA: “The MA system is my first choice for everything from theatre to concerts. It is very important for me to be able to personalise the setup to fit my needs of the moment which the grandMA2 software does easily. It is highly reliable, has intuitive

controls and a lot of flexibility in programming which makes it ideal for ‘busking’ festivals. For a stage with a very varied genre of performers it was important that each act had a lighting design to fit their aesthetic. A play on warm and cool along with dramatic side and backlighting gave us a good foundation to accommodate everything from greenlandic metal to reggae for children!” Lighting trainee Louise Bagger added: “Being a self-taught lighting technician and coming from a different type of console, I was excited and a little bit nervous to try out the grandMA3, but thanks to Heiða, I quickly gained an understanding of the console, and of how easy it is to personalise a setup to your exact needs. The console design offers a nice straightforward outlook of all the faders, executers and the two screens. With the touchscreen and keyboard, making changes to your setup is very simple. The experience with WILM and with Heida as my mentor was amazing and I learned a lot about light programming for different types of shows. I really enjoyed the grandMA3 and I cannot wait to get even more hands-on experience with an MA console soon!” 84


EVENT GENIUS DELIVERS RECORD BREAKING CASHLESS WEEKEND This May bank holiday, Event Genius recorded its busiest ever cashless weekend, becoming the first UK company to service four cashless events simultaneously, across two countries. By using Event Genius Pay, fans attending a selection of UK events including Forbidden Forest (UK), Pier Jam (UK) and Chelmsford Racecourse (UK) were all given the chance to pre-purchase credits online. The technology was also seen overseas at Annie Mac’s Lost & Found Festival in Malta. On arrival, these credits were loaded onto RFID enabled wristbands, received in exchange for their ticket, that could be used to buy drinks, food

and merchandise with a quick tap at the events’ bars or vendors. Over recent years, ensuring the award-winning cashless POS, Event Genius Pay, was developed to be robust, reliable and scalable has been a high priority for the business. The early May bank holiday weekend, that saw the Event Genius team travel over 4500 miles across the UK and Europe, to deliver events processing in excess of 200,000 transactions via 700 devices, is a clear indicator of just that. “Everyone at the business has worked their socks off to make the early May bank holiday a success. This was a landmark occasion not just for Event Genius, but for the UK cashless market in general and I couldn’t be prouder of the team for making it happen. Full steam ahead now towards an exciting summer!” Reshad Hossenally, Founder & Managing Director.

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CHAUVET PROFESSIONAL: COACHELLA A little bit of magic happens every evening in April around 7:20 in the Coachella Valley. That’s when the sun sets behind the San Jacinto Mountains, filling the sky with glorious reds and ambers, creating the perfect setting for taking stunning photos and for becoming immersed in the sounds of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. As glorious as this colorful panorama may be, though, the ambient light that comes with those sunsets can play havoc with the best laid lighting design plans. Will Chandler not only circumvented this issue, he turned it to his advantage by using the evening sky as an inviting backdrop for a lightshow that managed to be both engagingly warm and brilliantly intense at the same time. Helping him in this endeavor was a collection of Chauvet Professional STRIKE and ÉPIX Strip Tour fixtures. “We needed a versatile rig for our time slot on the Coachella Outdoor Stage,” said Chandler. “Although we could afford more subtle moments later on in the evening, I was looking for fixtures that would provide a lot of impact earlier on during sunset. Video helped provide a lot of that impact, and that’s why I incorporated eight video walls into the rig to supplement the lighting. The STRIKE 1s also provided a lot of impact, and their colour temperature was actually very complementary to the sunset going on behind the stage. The ÉPIX Strips helped outline the configuration, even when it was still bright outside.” Chandler ran 20 STRIKE 1 fixtures across the stage at uniform heights. “All of my STRIKEs were facing straight into the crowd to create some really impactful moments,” he said. “With some fog blowing across the stage, we got some cool silhouette looks.” The 34 ÉPIX Strip Tour fixtures in Bob Moses rig were hung horizontally across the width of the stage facing the crowd at a 45° angle. Chandler positioned the RGB linear fixtures at five different heights to create a zig-zag pattern that added a sense of angularity to the stage, endowing it with greater depth, while retaining the classic rock ‘n’ roll looks that

characterised the band’s earlier shows. “Symmetry and geometry play key parts in this design, along with the juxtaposition of the old-school vintage look of the blinders against the colourful neon effect of the strips,” said Chandler. “My goal was to keep this show in line with the look of the original touring show. This incorporated a lot of the same fixtures, including STRIKE 1s and ÉPIX.” Describing his Coachella show as having “a rock ‘n’ roll vibe with a modern twist,” Chandler welcomed it as an opportunity to revamp the look he created for Bob Moses. “There were a lot of moving parts, including adding video content, custom staging, and upscaling the lighting rig,” he said. “It was a case of trying to redesign and upscale without losing the signature look and feel of a Bob Moses experience. It was rewarding to have all of those moving parts come together on a stage and to see crowds immersing themselves in the final product.” Beyond achieving the balanced looks he wanted for Moses, Chandler kept practical issues in mind when creating the band’s Coachella rig. “One of the biggest challenges with festival shows is designing the rig for speed on and off stage,” he said. “I used only LED fixtures to cut down on the need for dimmer racks, bulky cable runs and wait time for lamps to strike/cool down. From a practical point of view, being able to use rugged 4-pin cable with the ÉPIX was a huge bonus. I also enjoyed the auto address feature of the drive units. It didn’t matter which fixtures were rigged where, as long as our pre-loomed cable paths were the same, the drivers auto addressed the fixtures flawlessly once connected.” Chandler also had to make his rig as camera-friendly as possible with flicker-free fixtures featuring adjustable PWM. In addition to its extensive television coverage, he notes that plenty of photos at Coachella are taken on mobile phones. Both fans and camera crews were able to capture moments that added something special to those magnificent Coachella Valley sunsets. Photo Credit: Parker Burr 86


FOH Engineer, Andrew Thom; Head of Lighting, Joe Byrne; Venue Manager, Louise McElvanna; Audio Chief, John ‘Hesky’ Hesketh; System Tech, Ryan Noble.

PSI: CATHEDRAL QUARTER ARTS FESTIVAL The brainchild of local playwright Martin Lynch, Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival (CQAF) was developed by Festival Director, Sean Kelly, and helped into fruition by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland in conjunction with Belfast City Council. Using the arts as a pulling point, Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter was regenerated to become one of the city’s most vibrant and architecturally appealing areas. Founded in 1999, the event now takes place over 11 days. This year, from 2-12 May, it hosted over 150 different shows in 30 venues. For the second year running, Production Services Ireland (PSI) has been tasked with providing and overseeing the technical aspects of the Festival Marquee venue. PSI’s John ‘Hesky’ Hesketh was the Festival Marquee’s Audio Chief and Monitor Engineer. He told TPi: “I’ve worked on this event for several years with a different company, and since joining PSI have loved working on the event with our new Adamson PA system. PSI supplied CQAF for the first time in 2018, but as we hadn’t properly moved into having a full audio rental service, we sub hired. As a result of the Adamson purchase, we’re now set up to deal with these high-profile live events in Belfast and across Ireland. “This event in particular carries a lot of respect because, over the years, acts such as Guy Garvey and Calvin Harris have come to play here before becoming huge names. Everyone wants the opportunity to watch the next big thing.”

This year, Echo and the Bunnymen, Horslips, Nina Conti, The Hypnotic Bass Ensemble, Yola and Anna Calvi were amongst the eclectic line up. The Adamson system comprised main left and right hangs of 14 S10s, 12 Adamson S119 subs, 4 Adamson S10s for infill and front fill, and 6 Adamson S10s as flown delays. The system was powered by 3 Adamson E Racks, each fitted with 3 Lab.gruppen PLM 20K44 SP amplifiers. The Marquee’s monitor system was the first outing for PSI’s new Adamson M15 wedges, freshly acquired following a trip to Prolight + Sound 2019. A total of 16 wedges were deployed into monitor world. The system was powered by 3 Adamson E Racks (each fitted with 3 Lab.gruppen PLM20K44). At both FOH and for monitor duties, Midas PRO2 consoles were specified, using 2 Midas DL431 splits. PSI also supplied 4 ways of RF via Sennheiser EW300 G4 c/w 935 hand helds, and 8 units of Shure PSM900s. “We’re proud to have been able to deliver, and to now have the capabilities to provide, the kind of sound quality the event deserves,” said Hesky. “I was very happy with how the PA went in and how it performed, and our client was delighted too.” The PSI audio team was completed by Andrew Thom at FOH and apprentice Ryan Noble looking after the stage. Along with providing audio, PSI also handled the lighting package for the annual event. PSI’s Head of Lighting, Joe Byrne, managed the production design. He commented: “I try to cover bases for the different genres coming through the doors and provide different looks for each. The overhead rig remained largely the same as last year, but this year the floor package changed around every night as we wanted the repeat punters to get a different experience from each gig.” 88


In order to do this, PSI supplied a larger floor package than last year. “Personally speaking, it was my first time working on CQAF and so I wanted to up the game and make an impression for both the audiences and our client.” Byrne’s design required 12 JTE Pixel Pars for cyc wash, 14 Robe MMX Spots, 18 Philips Vari-Lite SL350 wash, 8 Martin by Harman Atomic Strobes and an Avolites Tiger Touch II operating desk. He said of his equipment choices: “The Robe MMX has great optics and can produce some really nice sharp-edged animation effects, which work as both aerial and theatrical looks, so these were perfect for the festival. The Philips SL350 is a small wash lamp which has nice pastel colours and works well with the more theatrical musical acts. Head of Audio, Adam Collins, acted as PSI’s Client Liaison at the Festival Marquee. He added: “Next year, PSI will deliver an even bigger production design - we want to give people something highly significant in terms of production values within the Belfast music scene. This stage is one of many

used during CQAF and we want to continue adding value to the growing demand for this festival. “It’s a small, local and intimate project with international names, and that makes for such a good vibe. PSI is glad to have supported once again, and the staff were brilliant to work with. We’re very proud to be part of this multiday event and to enhance the wider Irish live music and arts community.” Venue Manager Louise McElvanna shared her final thoughts on the festival: “This was our second year having PSI as production supplier in the Festival Marquee and they were a dream to work with, all the team are so professional and genuinely passionate about their work. The sound and lighting was amazing at every single show and we had so much positive feedback from both audiences and artists.” Photos: PSI and Bernie McAllister



INTERFORCE: HENLEY FESTIVAL Security and enforcement specialist, Interforce, formerly TSG, will provide uniformed patrols to ensure public safety and the prevention of crime and disorder at Henley Festival this summer. Production Manager, John Harris, met Interforce at Event Buyers Live and brought the company into Henley Festival’s restructured security model; designed to maintain its acclaimed customer service

Interforce better highlights the company’s priorities too, providing efficient specialist interventional support and enforcement to deliver public safety and crime prevention solutions to organisations and environments, while differentiating it from the greater private security industry. Interforce Managing Director, David Boswell, said: “We’re busier than ever, which is a product of Business Development Manager, Duncan Cullen, explaining the rebrand to clients/potential clients, highlighting Interforce’s weight of unique selling points and detailing our experience across the event model. Interforce is a versatile organisation working in partnership to reduce risk, reduce vulnerability and help deliver safe, secure events. We’re delighted to be in the mix with the other proven parts of Henley Festival’s security effort and we’re really looking forward to the 2019 edition.” Photo courtesy of All Access Communications

provision. John Harris commented: “We hope that Interforce, which is trained to a higher level than SIA, with a police style approach, will respond to our audience and ensure we continue to meet the high standards Henley Festival is renowned for.”

BLITZ: THE GREAT ESTATE FESTIVAL The Great Estate Festival, returned to Cornwall, on the 31 May – 1st June with Blitz, a GES company, providing projection mapping. Held annually on the grounds of Scorrier House, The Great Estate Festival is now in its third year and attracts over 7,000 visitors per day. The 2019 event featured major international headline acts and what organisers called a “rambunctious mix of comedy, theatre, music and the arts”. Headliners for this year’s included The Craig Charles Funk & Soul Club, James and Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. Lumatec Visuals delivered projection mapping element of the festival with Barco 3-chip 32,000 lumen projector supplied by AV and event production company Blitz. Ben Hall, Event Promoter, from The Great Estate commented: “The Great Estate has become the most rambunctious garden fete and as

organisers we want to create a memorable experience for the thousands of visitors. We know that working with specialists such as Blitz and Lumatec, our visitors will be treated to spectacular visuals and effects.” Simon Carter, Owner, Lumatec Visuals added: “We are pleased to be working with The Great Estate Festival this year. It’s a superb event full of creativity, and it really gives us a chance to showcase our projection mapping and invite some special guests to add to the Cornish art scene. And of course, working with industry experts such as Blitz just adds to our offering.” Tom Chaney, Head of Video at Blitz commented: “We are thrilled to be part of this year’s The Great Estate festival. Lumatec are true specialists in projection mapping, so it’s great be working in partnership with them to provide an amazing show for the festival.” Photo: 52eight3 Limited



SERIOUS STAGES: BBC RADIO 1 BIG WEEKEND Middlesbrough partied when BBC Radio 1 Big Weekend came to town, with Serious Stages supplying the three stages and site structures in Stewart Park, 24 – 26 May, 2019. Miley Cyrus, Stormzy, Mumford & Sons and The 1975 were among the plethora of headline artists and rising stars on the bill at the summer’s first major festival for the Serious team. The BBC events team oversaw the whole event, with its main focus on artist content and broadcast output for TV, streaming, radio and social channels. They engaged Festival Republic to produce the live festival site and Nine Yards to manage the site infrastructure.

Tony Wheeler, founder of Nine Yards stated: “We have worked on previous BBC Big Weekends several years ago, then last year returned for the Perth iteration and it’s been great supporting Festival Republic’s delivery of what has been a great experience for the artists and fans here in Middlesbrough. “As ever, with this event we have been working at an outside site not used for a show of this type or scale before, so that has required attentive planning and a meticulous build. Serious Stages has been a key component supplier once again in providing the stages, which not only look great on TV but can accommodate the fast turnaround of artists all bringing in their production set pieces.” The main stage was a Serious 25m Space Roof flanked by a pair of goalposts carrying screens, PA and branding, giving an impressive 38m frontage onto the main arena holding a crowd of up to 25,000 people. 92


Serious provided the three storey FOH platform, assisted viewing platform, four 12m GT Asteroid speaker delay towers and four camera platforms. The second stage, inside a giant big-top, was a 31m and 14m platform, split into performance stage, with wings for tech and rear loading area served by two loading ramps. Serious FOH, camera towers and assisted viewing platforms were also installed inside the tent, with an exterior scaffold video screen support at the front of the tent relaying the bands to the outdoor food court. Serious constructed a 14m by 9.5m stage deck for the BBC Introducing stage in a smaller Saddlespan tent, with a single storey FOH structure and camera tower. All three stages had camera tracks on platforms located on their front aprons, giving the BBC premium camera positions to meet their broadcast requirements. Tim Norman, Serious Stages’ on site Project Manager, commented: “It was satisfying to deliver three stages that looked great for the live audience and in the broadcast footage. It was a very well organised build and egress working with the BBC, Festival Republic and Nine Yards, making it a pleasure working on this show.” Photos courtesy of Plaster.


Tappit, the global cashless payment solution, has announced a partnership with the multi-award-winning grass-roots music festival, Leopallooza. The partnership will see Tappit’s cashless solutions rolled out to the festival’s 5,000 attendees and signifies the continued growth and success of Tappit’s UK base. Now in its 13th year, Leopallooza will offer festivalgoers a cashless experience with spending tied to their personal RFID wristband. Attendees using Tappit’s cashless technology will benefit from an enhanced payment experience, including faster queues and seamless, secure transactions. Tappit will also be empowering the festival’s organisers with access to valuable data on attendee behaviours, providing actionable insights on how to improve the customer experience throughout the three-day event as well as growing profits. This strategic partnership also coincides with the appointment of a new Director of Business Development for UK and Europe Gavin Barnard and Head of Sales in UK and Europe Craig Poskitt. Barnard joins Tappit with a wealth of experience working with RIFD within the live events industry. He will be supporting Poskitt, who brings with him a specialist network in the sporting industry and joins from Wales Rugby League, where he was

Commercial Director. The pair will work together closely and be responsible for growing the company’s expanding partnership network across the UK and Europe. These announcements closely follow a string of national and international wins for Tappit across Europe and APAC, with recent milestone partnerships including the Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2019 and Manchester City Football Club. Jason Thomas, CEO of Tappit commented: “It has been an incredibly exciting year for Tappit globally, and our growth in Europe is no exception. As a business, and as a team, we’ve gone from strength to strength and we’re delighted to welcome Gavin and Craig. Furthermore, our strategic partnership with Leopallooza - one of the most innovative and forwardthinking festivals in the UK - will only help bolster this growth even further.” On the partnership, Hannah Marsh, Marketing and PR Manager at Leopallooza said: “What started over a decade ago as a small party in a field for a group of music-loving friends has evolved into an awardwinning family-friendly festival. We pride ourselves on the atmosphere and experience that we create year-on-year. Our goal is to ensure that festivalgoers feel safe with their transactions and spend as much time as possible watching our amazing acts instead of queuing, and partnering with Tappit will help us do exactly that.” Photo courtesy of The PHA Group 93



SSE AUDIO GROUP Following the acquisition by Canada-based Solotech, not to mention a busy calendar year full of tours and festivals, TPi’s Stew Hume popped into the company’s Redditch HQ to catch up with John Penn and the SSE family.

Arriving at the SSE Audio HQ in Redditch, you very quickly get a sense of how far this company has come over its 40-year history within the live events industry. From the frosted windowed entranceway, adorned with logos of the various branches of the audio empire, to images and tour posters from some of the biggest artists in the world, the SSE HQ is a perfect showcase. The manifestation of its history is rounded off rather nicely at the company reception where its 2019 TPi Award for Favourite Sound Rental Company sits, pride of place. If the past year has proved anything, SSE Audio Group shows no sign of slowing down. Last June, the company proudly announced the acquisition of Capital Sound Hire, which now works alongside other facets of the SSE Audio Group including Wigwam Acoustics and Sigma Productions. In November, to the surprise of many within the industry, news came through that Solotech had acquired SSE Audio Group, with the company’s CEO and President, Martin Tremblay, describing it as “the most important transaction in Solotech’s history.” Following the announcement, TPi recently paid MD John Penn a visit to discuss what the new ownership brings to the SSE Group. While there, we were also treated to an insight into the innovation taking place under one of the UK’s most respected audio specialist’s roof. “The thing about this job is you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow,” began Penn, as we settled down in his office surrounded by memorabilia from SSE’s history, backdropped by a large window proudly overlooking the teaming warehouse floor. “One day you’ll get a phone call that sparks an idea or creates a real opportunity.” The phone call to which Penn referred was from Richard Lachance, former Vice President

of Solotech, who planted a seed which would eventually lead to the announcement later in November. Before meeting up with Penn, TPi had been given a booklet titled Our Next Step, which had been distributed to all the employees of SSE. This glossy 70 page debrief encapsulated what Penn described as a “mutually beneficial deal.” The document provided a glimpse into the future of the Group and to enable all the staff to understand the thinking behind the decision. Perhaps this best demonstrates the thought and commitment SSE management have put into ensuring the new arrangement is a success. Most know SSE’s badge of honour is its specialism within the realms of sound. “Since day one, we have been an audio business,” Penn reaffirmed, adding he’d never felt the need to invest in LED panels or lighting fixtures. Although this principle is still at the core of the SSE DNA, Penn admitted he now sees the benefit of 360° solutions. “I’ve watched Solotech for many years and, I confess, I was sceptical when I saw them offer the 360° package. I’ve always believed if you’re a jack-of-all-trades, you’re master of none. I’m also aware the UK is different and unique in the fact we have so many single discipline companies. If you look at Europe, or even some of the newer companies in this county, everyone offers a full package.” So, Solotech’s approach to the turnkey model really intrigued Penn, who said: “When you look at their business, you see three distinct departments. Within the audio, lighting and video departments there are teams of experts. With this deal we hope to bring our skillset to the party and help elevate Solotech’s audio offering.” Tremblay shares this vision, as he outlined in an official statement: “This transaction is a notable milestone towards achievement of our strategic goal of offering broader 95


SSE Audio Group’s MD John Penn.

turnkey AV and entertainment technology services and increased presence in Europe.” Although Solotech purchased SSE, the Group will continue to operate under its own banner, effectively becoming a division of Solotech in much the same way as Capital and Wigwam Acoustics remain individual brands within the UK market. “Working with Solotech we plan to provide audio services to many of the world’s biggest touring artists and, in time, grow and develop the range of services we offer here in the UK and into Europe,” stated Penn. What started as a conversation about business soon segued into a wider discussion about live audio in 2019. “Well, everything has changed since the analogue days,” laughed Penn, recounting war stories from the ‘70s. “When video began to be brought into live touring things became a lot more complicated and you had to consider media servers and processing. Audio is moving the same way in terms of computing power so it won’t be long before every tour will require a network manager as standard practice.” Embracing pro audio innovation, SSE Audio Group has continued to develop its expertise, leading the way in creating the most efficient touring packages for the unrelenting appetite of ambitious productions. The SSE warehouse itself is demonstrative of the extraordinary scale of the company’s manufacturing and R&D departments. Two large-scale CNC Machines create custom racks and flight cases, 3D printer models prototype the company’s latest touring packages, while the laser engravers produce SSE’s famed purple rackmount plates, which many TPi readers will familiar with. When asked where this drive for manufacturing and innovation came from, Penn matter-of-factly credits the projects they work on. He elaborated: “At the very start of the company, the only goal was to have your own cabinets and flightcases. I soon discovered making them with hand tools was far too time consuming so we invested in an air compressor and a saw bench.” This investment in improved processes went into overdrive when SSE relocated from from central Birmingham to Redditch in 2003, moving into the 34,000sq ft headquarters that still acts as the group’s base today. In fact the manufacturing side of the business grew to such a level, the decision was made to develop it into its own unique arm. Sigma, which was created in 2008, to produce specialist equipment for the live events market. Split into two strands – Sigma Fabrications and Sigma Electronics – some of its more sought-after products include the well-established

Prosight2, SetDeck compact stage risers, and its new range of ProLift motor controllers. “This building was chosen specially to cater for the growing demand of the manufacturing side of the business,” explained Penn, constantly pulling out pieces of equipment and reciting its upcoming journeys from memory as we walked through the aisles of PA cabinets and flight cases. On the day of TPi’s visit, the SSE crew were all working hard on several mammoth tours including Mark Knopfler’s latest L-Acoustics L-ISA system, alongside the audio package for German juggernauts, Rammstein. All the while, Penn greeted each staff member by name with a chorus of “hi John,” followed us around SSE HQ. “No matter what field you work in, when it comes to business, it’s all about the people,” remarked Penn. “Look at F1. Mercedes have the best car on the track, but if you didn’t have Lewis Hamilton behind the wheel, they would not have won the world championship.” Whether in Monaco or the Midlands, the same applies, he said: “I really do believe at SSE we are empowering people to be part of something. People spend a lot of time these days staring at screens and working in isolation. Here, we really encourage people to be engaged in the entire process. When you have a workforce that’s engaged you get better knowledge transfer and most of the time a better output. As well as being good for business it means people actually enjoy coming to work!” This open environment within SSE Group is what has led to many of the company’s innovations. “You can’t micro-manage at every level. If you get the best people you can, you have to give them the ball and let them run with it.” Having spent the afternoon with the team at the SSE office, TPi was driven down the road to witness one of the company’s latest projects in action, as Mark Knopfler’s crew prepped at Fly By Nite Studios. Proving yet anther benefit for SSE’s Redditch location. On the drive over, Penn mused about the future, discussing both the wider business growth with the Solotech acquisition and the development of younger talent that is still coming through SSE’s door. Over 40-years in the sector and the MD unyielding passion is still clear to see. We will just have to watch this space to see what SSE tackles next but in the words Penn himself: “You never know who might call next…” TPi Photos: GPC Media



MICROPHONE CAPSULES A comprehensive look at some of the leading microphone manufacturers latest products.

SENNHEISER Part of the e 900 series, Sennheiser’s e 935 microphone is among the audio specialist’s most popular vocal microphones. Its capsule, the MMD 935, can be paired with wireless systems from the Digital 9000 Series through to evolution wireless. It is designed for demanding, uncompromising professional use by musicians and singers alike. This dynamic cardioid vocal microphone offers a smooth, natural sound with a fast-transient response, ensuring no details are missed. It also benefits from a shock-resistant capsule mounting and hum compensating coil, which result in low handling noise, and its 100% metal casing makes it perfect for tough on-stage use. The balanced frequency range makes the e 935 ideal for every genre of music. It gives the voice more space and positions it cleanly in front of loud instruments. With a transparent high-end and warm but well defined lower mids, it lends even gentle voices an impressive intensity and size, allowing the vocal track in the band mix to be emphasised much more easily. The e 935 also increases speech intelligibility. It remains extremely resistant to feedback, as well as to the hard conditions of live gigs.

The e 935 is used by bands such as Swedish power metal band Sabaton and UK progressive rock band, Black Peaks. Specifications: Dimensions 47 x 151 mm Connector XLR-3 Frequency response (Microphone) 40 - 18000 Hz Transducer principle (Microphone) dynamic Weight 355 g Pick-up pattern cardioid Sensitivity in free field, no load (1kHz) 2,8mV/Pa = -51dB (0 dB = 1V/Pa) = -71 dB (0 dB = 1V/ubar) Nominal impedance 350 Ω Min. terminating impedance 1000 Ω 97


handheld microphone – a ground-breaking feat of engineering that represents a major leap in microphone technology, just like Unidyne was in 1939. Not to be confused with dual-element microphone technology, KSM8 Dualdyne features two ultra-thin diaphragms in a single element that receives the entire frequency range. The second diaphragm sits in the microphone resistance network to help control proximity effect. To achieve this, Shure undertook a massive engineering project spanning seven years to reverse the airflow of a dynamic mic. The result is a new dynamic microphone design that produces virtually no proximity effect, has a huge sweet spot, and boasts a textbook cardioid polar pattern. For the artists and engineer, this feature-set translates into minimal requirement for EQ and processing, more natural sounding off-axis stage bleed, and greater performance freedom. This advancement in technology marks a significant milestone in both microphone history and Shure’s continuous journey in the pursuit of perfection. Current users include the likes of X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent, Biffy Clyro, Blossoms, Lewis Capaldi and the Mamma Mia Theatre Show.

SHURE With two ultra-thin diaphragms and ground-breaking reverse airflow technology, the KSM8 Dualdyne is the result of Shure’s 90 plus years in developing world-class microphones. In 1939, the company developed the Unidyne cartridge, which became the world’s first single-element unidirectional microphone. In 1966, Shure took the Unidyne principle even further in the Unidyne III to create the SM58, which featured our unique pneumatic shock-mount system. And that’s not where the story ends. Continuous evolution and innovation is at the very heart of our company culture at Shure. Technology continues to evolve, and manufacturing techniques improve, making old products more efficient, and new designs possible. Enter the Dualdyne microphone capsule, first introduced in our KSM8 dynamic microphone. The KSM8 Dualdyne is the world’s first dual diaphragm dynamic



Through sweat, noise, and heavy wear, the TwinPlex™ subminiature lavalier stands up to the toughest conditions to make every word a clear statement of quality. ©2019 Shure Incorporated. See

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AUDIO-TECHNICA multi-stage grille design offers excellent protection against plosives and sibilance without compromising high-frequency clarity. Employing an industry standard thread mount, the C5400 capsule allows use with other compatible wireless systems, allowing users access to the distinctive performance of Audio-Technica’s flagship condenser capsule with an existing wireless inventory. Among the artists currently using the Audio-Technica C5400 capsule for vocals include James Bay, Barbra Streisand and rising star Saara Aalto.

The Audio-Technica ATW-C5400 is an interchangeable cardioid condenser mic capsule for use with the company’s latest 5000 and 3000 Series handheld transmitters (the T5202 and T3202). It’s the wireless version of the popular AE5400 wired mic from Audio-Technica’s Artist Elite range. The C5400’s condenser element is designed to deliver studio-like sound quality with a very natural, accurate response, providing the same sound characteristics as the renowned AT4050 studio condenser on which it’s based. While the sound might resemble that of a studio model, the C5400’s cardioid polar pattern ensures good isolation of the desired sound source on crowded stages, reducing pickup from the sides and rear, while the 100



The VERtical Array family.



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DPA MICROPHONES The ability to deliver studio quality sound on a live stage is a key reason why so many top artists are switching to DPA’s d:facto Vocal Microphone. In addition, this versatile microphone is adept at dealing with the high SPLs that come with close mouth placement, making it ideal for artists who like to ‘cup’ their mic when they sing or rap. Designed to give artists unlimited possibilities for their performance and equally at home in sound reinforcement or recording applications, DPA’s d:facto offers an extraordinarily natural sound, superior gain before feedback and extreme sound level handling of 160 dB. As with all DPA microphones, the d:facto is superbly linear in frequency and phase, both on- and off-axis, while its impressive definition and accuracy reproduces a singer’s voice effortlessly. It also has a robust three-stage pop protection grid that ensures the removal of unwanted noise. d:facto’s ability to handle the high SPLs that come with close mouth placement have made it extremely popular with artists such as US hip-hop star Post Malone. It is also ideal for Beatboxers who need a microphone that can accurately pick up and reproduce transients, be easily cleaned to remove spit and has the durability to withstand harsh treatment on stage. For these reasons Swissbeatbox, the world’s largest Beatbox platform with over 2.1 million YouTube subscribers, recently chose DPA as its official partner and is now using d:facto Vocal Microphones at all of its events, including its annual Grand Beatbox Battle. The d:facto Vocal Microphone is a firm favourite with artists such as Stevie Wonder, Sting, Céline Dion, Ellie Goulding, Paloma Faith, MØ, Gary Lightbody (Snow Patrol), Leo Sayer and many more. ”Artists enjoy hearing themselves naurally because d:facto doesn’t add any of the artifacts you typially find with a vocal mic,” said DPA’s Product

Manager René Moerch. “The microphone delivers the sound they expect to hear in their monitors or in-ears, thus freeing them to use their voice as naturally as they would if they were singing without a microphone. d:facto allows them use their talents to the full, without compromise, because it unveils their full potential by cutting right through the mix and delivering clean, undistorted vocals.” d:facto’s modular nature means the same microphone head can be employed for both wired and wireless use, leaving performers free to choose the configuration that best suits their needs. They can also choose their preferred wireless system because DPA’s state of the art adapters allow d:facto to integrate seamlessly with brands such as Sony, Lectrosonics, Shure, Wisycom and Sennheiser.

AKG The Harman Professional Solutions AKG C636 Microphone is an innovated updated model of the legendary C535 model which has been built for today’s high demands on stage. The AKG C636 Master Reference condenser microphone has already received an award for best Sound Reinforcement Microphone at the 33rd TEC Awards at the 2018 Winter NAMM Show. This model offers pure studio sound that AKG are renowned for, in a worry-free durable casing. This product has been designed to focus purely on the vocal performance. The AKG C636’s proprietary double shock suspension system offers unparalleled rejection of handling noise even during the most energetic on-stage performances, and doubles-down on keeping the performance flawless by incorporating a state-of-the-art, multi-layer pop noise rejection system to eliminate plosives and a consistent, cardioid polar pattern that eliminates feedback. Additionally, its capsule sits on a highly absorbent rubber bearing, eliminating any structure-based noise, while an adjustable

balancing network cancels vibrations over a wide frequency range. It is also important to note there is a C636 WL1 microphone head designed to work with the HT4500 and DHT800hand-held transmitters, letting the on stage studio sound go cable free, add this to the hand-¬selected components that are manually tuned, the results are a pure transparent tone.



SE ELECTRONICS low handling noise as compared to other capsules in its class. This means the artist can feel free to move around on stage without fear of rumbles, pops, or anything other than their voice coming through. The V7 MC1 BLACK is also available if a more subtle on-stage appearance is desired. Introduced less than 2 years ago, the V7 MC1 and its wired counterpart have already found their way into use with many of the world’s biggest touring artists including Justin Timberlake, Big Sean, Billie Eilish, Stevie Wonder, Cardi B, Chris Stapleton, Common, Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban, Evanescence, and many more. Their FOH engineers choose the V7 MC1 for its outstanding resistance to feedback, stunningly natural sound quality, and superior off-axis rejection. “It rejected better, it sounded more like Justin’s voice when we handed it over to just makes our job a lot easier. We really love the capsule, it’s been great,” said Andy Meyer, FOH Engineer for Justin Timberlake. Billie Eilish’s FOH Engineer Drew Thornton said, “It’s a breath of fresh air to have a mic that is not only a dynamic capsule with great rejection, but to also have a very smooth high mid response with a nice airy top end makes it a force to be reckoned with. It also responds very well to cupping, which is helpful in keeping a more consistent vocal tone. I am a huge fan of the V7!” All in all, the V7 MC1 makes an engineer’s job that much easier by preventing feedback, significantly reducing handling noise, and letting the audience hear the artist’s voice the way it’s meant to be heard natural and crystal-clear.

The V7 MC1 brings the powerful sound and performance of SE’s V7 handheld wired dynamic microphone to compatible Shure wireless transmitters. The DMC7 dynamic capsule in the V7 MC1 has been customdeveloped for a crisp, open sound that perfectly captures the human voice in a supremely natural way on stage, thanks to its specialised aluminium voice coil - and its sophisticated supercardioid capsule design helps isolate the voice from other instruments, ensuring vast amounts of gain before feedback. Proven Neodymium magnets, tight production tolerances and high-end workmanship ensure excellent sensitivity, superior sound quality and superb consistency. The V7 MC1’s innovative, patented shockmount also efficiently decouples the capsule from mechanical vibration, providing exceptionally

AUDIX MICROPHONES balanced, comfortable to hold, and its extended onaxis reach perfect for performers who like to work the microphone. The VX5 features a tight, uniformly controlled supercardioid polar pattern which helps to isolate the vocals from the rest of the instruments on stage. Other features include a 14mm gold vapor diaphragm, an acoustically ported steel mesh grill with multi-stage pop filter and a -10dB pad and bass roll-off filter. The VX5 will handle sound pressure levels in excess of 140dB (with pad and roll-off engaged) and will provide over 20dB of ambient noise rejection on live stages. In addition to vocal applications, the VX5 is ideally suited to capture acoustic instruments such as guitar, woodwinds, brass, percussion toys, drum overheads, hi-hat and piano. This versatility makes it an excellent choice for studio recording. Designed with very high standards and tight tolerances, the VX5 is manufactured with a precision die-cast zinc alloy body, durable black E-coat finish and gold plated XLR connector. The VX5 is also available in wireless.

The VX5 is a professional vocal condenser microphone designed for a wide variety of live, studio and broadcast applications. With an ability to duplicate studio quality sound on stage, the VX5 is known for its smooth and accurate frequency response, resistance to feedback, and ability to handle very high sound pressure levels without distortion. With a wide frequency range of 40 Hz - 16.5 kHz, the VX5 has a very clean and natural sound with exceptional transient response. The VX5 is durable, well




This year’s Backstage Academy’s Graduate Showcase for the Class of 2019 spread itself across all disciplines and at the same time sucked in many of the Academy’s leading international audio-visual and software partners, some of whom had come straight from PLASA Focus in Leeds the previous day. Working under a dedicated project manager, the graduates wrestled with five distinct concepts, designed to challenge the audience in some instances, and invite them into the conversation in others. Travelling around the production facility’s vast studio complex attendees were able to connect with advanced motion tracking control and full sensory immersion in a simulated VR Cave type environment, with headsets rather than active stereoscopic 3D specs. Elsewhere, in Studio 001, Production Park’s arena sized rehearsal facility, there was a new take on a typical festival stage, while in the Academy’s central studios, moving sound objects in space via d&b audiotechnik’s Soundscape was the order of the day, putting the audience at the

centre and removing sound far from its traditional left and right stereo paradigm. Another striking feature was the 30-minute one-man silent show, fully motion tracked. This was described by Technical Director, CoCreator and Lecturer, Shannon Harvey. She commented: “The biggest collision and mash up of creative ideas I have ever been involved with. I said I would bring every toy I could to this party!” The project was the more remarkable since it involved a collaboration across the ocean with students from the University of Iowa. In altering sensory perceptions some of the confident way in which this technology was deployed, willingly supported the brains behind them. It was suitably synaptic and visceral, but more importantly, rather than just an explosion of weird science, it made an emotional connection between technology and audience. Explaining the thinking behind this year’s degree show, Vice Principal Rachel Nicholson, said: “It’s the first time we’ve presented the


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work in this fashion. The team looked back at last year and decided they wanted more scope to visualise. Our Live Visual Design and Production course has always been project based, so we adapted that to the other courses, which seemed the most natural thing in the world to do,” she continued: “It was the perfect time to do it with PLASA Focus taking place in Leeds, and bringing our industry partners into the area.” Everything had come out of the imagination of students, she said. “They are exploring the cutting edge of new technology and what can be done, but at the same time it’s also a validation of the confidence placed in the students by the lecturers. We could not have done it without the support, passion and enthusiasm of our industry partners—it is that enthusiasm that has enabled [the students] to realise their ambitions by working with other professional teams. The Graduate Showcase is just one day but it represents three years’ hard work.” While this showcase resides in the academic world, its Production Park location made it as close to real world experience as they will get, as students set out to transform a series of black box studios into coruscating jewels. Supporting companies, many of whom provided representatives, included: AC Entertainment, AC lasers, AS Visual Solutions, Avolites, AV Matrix, Brilliant, CEG, Channel 16, Chauvet Professional, Creative Technologies, d&b audiotechnik, disguise, Ethix Management, GLP, Green Hippo, Kinesys, KRS Rigging, KV2 Audio, Lucid Technologies, Midas, Nitelites, Noitom, Notch, PRG, Prolights, Quantum Special Effects, RCF, Rockpool Tour Catering, ROE Visual, Shure, Sixty82 and STS Touring.

what for all the world represented a VR Cave, set out to explore the human emotions with scientific research, with the gauze rear-projected onto via Epson EB700U ultra short throw projectors. “The project aims to provoke areas of the brain that emotionally respond to visual stimuli. As visitors donned headsets they became immersed in underwater and new age sounds as well as some challenging monochromatic visuals at the end. Think early David Lynch, Eraserhead period. The lighting was triggered from the Green Hippo Amba+ Hippotizer media server via an Avolites Quartz while the show itself was triggered by QLab multimedia playback cue-based software. Other lighting was supplied by A.C. Entertainment, Chauvet Professional, Ethix Management and Prolights with truss from Sixty82. 360° (STUDIO B) AND REVERSE IN THE ROUND (STUDIO A) Next door to The Mood Cube two different shows were taking place back to back, with 360° alternating with Reverse In The Round, which featured excellent live band, Avenoir. Reverse In The Round itself was truly unique. The idea was to take a typical gig and turn it into an immersive show with video wall, lighting and 360° sound. Each member of Avenoir, a local rock band, performed from a different corner of a rectangular venue. The audience could choose which member to watch, while surrounded with immersive video content. The 360° project, PM’d by Luke Deakin and Scott James, set out to create an environment where the audience felt completely surrounded by performance, their attention drawn to everything surrounding them in the different spaces. This was achieved using Soundscape which allows for simple integration with Logic, the students’ DAW of choice. Thanks to the delicate touch of the live sound engineers, this was accomplished. d&b’s Simon Johnston explained that Backstage students had previously visited d&b’s UK HQ in Nailsworth and underwent a Soundscape training session. “They came up with this idea, designed it and ran it past one of our guys. He was impressed and made sure it would work.” With the sound flying around the space, the task facing the sound guys was ensuring members of the band could hear each other.

MOOD CUBE (STUDIO C) This ran continuously through the day under the stewardship of Jessica Miree, a third year Live Events Production student, supported by sound technicians, Terrell Robotham and Scott James. This vibrant, 3D six-minute show used Hologauze projection and a fully immersive lighting system, highlighted - according to Miree - by the new GLP impression E350 LED moving head. Every individual stepping inside


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Lighting, supplied by A.C. Entertainment, GLP and Prolights, was triggered from an Avolites Tiger Touch 2 while Avo’s Ai Media Server ran visuals, comprising encoded stock content, with further media provided by the band. Video wall came from AV Matrix.

at the Prague Quadrennial 2019 as part of the PQ Studio: Festival representing the first phase in a long-term research project. The show revolves around the silent escapades of a professional clown, Paul Kalina, who, through repeated complications with the technology and an unruly music stand, finds himself thrust into a digital landscape unable to escape from a digital version of himself. There is virtual silence until the point, halfway through, when Dawn Upshaw’s soprano soars out of Gorecki’s sorrowful Symphony No.3 for a brief period. Kalina’s movement was captured by Blacktrax motion capture, supplied by Lucid Technologies, and a Perception Neuron pro motion capture suit from Noitom. The data was streamed to Notch where the content was generated in real time. This was then sequenced by a disguise media server and projected onto a rear projection screen and front Hologauze that enveloped Kalina in a digital landscape. “Coming from a cue-to-cue world to a system that is totally reactive to everyone is mind blowing,” exclaimed Shannon Harvey, who cocreated the project alongside Daniel Fine and Paul Kalina from the University of Iowa. The project was a challenge for Production Manager Kate Barker, a Live Visual Design and Production third year student from Backstage Academy. “We wanted to create the illusion of being stuck in a computer screen,” she explained. “It’s a one-man silent show and we have used all the technology we can to create it.” The biggest difficulty the team faced was collaborating across the six-hour time zone difference between Wakefield and Iowa. Every member of the team had a role to play. For instance, Chelsea June from The University of Iowa fulfilled the position of Costume Designer and had to incorporate Blacktrax motion capture beacons, Noitom motion capture neurons and wireless DMX and LED lighting into the costume design. Lighting came from AS Visual Solutions and CEG and projection from Creative Technologies. The sound system came from KV2 Audio and scenic elements were supplied by fellow Production Park residents, Brilliant Stages. TPi Photos: Sarah Womack

THE DIAMOND STAGE (STUDIO 001) Five up-and-coming local bands played this unusual festival stage during the showcase, and we caught up with Welsh indie blues band, Pretty Visitors’ set. Emily Popham, in her third year studying Stage and Production Management BA, was Project Manager, explaining that the stage needed to evolve around a festival venue. “It’s a diamond instead of a rectangular stage,” she said, explaining the title. Popham said the project was about getting used to working with other students for the first time and interfacing with bands to meet their requirements. Looking to get into production management, she said,“I enjoy this kind of pressure and overall I’m very happy with the result.” The main PA system, rigged by Nitelites, featured on RCF line array hangs, comprising 12 HDL30-As, flown with 4 SUB8006-AS subwoofers, with further SUB9007-AS LF extension on the ground, all networked through RCF Control 8 utilising RCF’s proprietary RDNet control and management software. RCF’s Mick Butler led a day’s training for the students on the rigging and networking as a forerunner to the Graduate Showcase. ROE Visual supplied both indoor and outdoor video wall and the show was mixed through a Midas Pro 2 at FOH and Midas M32 for monitors, with backline and monitors from STS Touring. A full range of proprietary lighting from A.C. Entertainment, Chauvet Professional, Ethix Management, GLP, PRG and Prolights was controlled from Avolites Sapphire and Quartz desks whilst Kinesys and KRS Rigging supplied the automation and hoists respectively. Effects came in the form of lasers from AC Lasers and pyro from Quantum Special Effects. Comms were supplied by Channel 16. MEDIA CLOWN (SOUND BOX) A cross-university project between Backstage Academy and The University of Iowa, Media Clown integrates the newest digital media technologies with century old analogue clown routines. This was another expansive and challenging project which will also feature



AYRTON KHAMSIN International Sales for Ayrton,Jerad Garza, talks to TPi about the company’s Khamsin fixture.

When did the development of the Khamsin first begin? The concept for Khamsin has been long term venture. The technical and engineering advances of the Ayrton Ghibli and Mistral mid-range profile and compact spot fixtures allowed us to earnestly kick start this project in Q2 2018. What were the initial goals with the product? The goal was to create the first true LED profile industry workhorse fixture, overcoming challenges of weight, size and brightness limitations which have been the largest barriers to the adoption of LED based fixtures in concert touring markets. As a secondary aim, we also wanted to ensure that our customers only had to buy a single fixture, which is why we packed it full of features. Did you come across any challenges in the creation of the fixture? Ayrton’s mantra is Smaller, Lighter, Brighter, which definitely presents a set of challenges. Khamsin takes an entirely new approach toward engineering smaller fixtures. While we wanted

a full feature set which leaves nothing to be desired, we also wanted to increase the output, which also meant efficiency, both from an optical and thermal management standpoint, had to be advanced even further, all the while reducing the overall size to fit into the same physical base and yoke arm footprint of Ghibli.

“Lighting designers are at the very heart of Ayrton. Listening to end users and fulfilling their needs is our top priority when we develop a fixture..” Ayrton International Sales, Jerad Garza 110

Could you discuss the difference between the S and the TC versions of the product? High output is the focus of the Khamsin S, and we’re able to achieve 40,000lm, which is great for scenic applications and concerts. As well as high quality of light is the focus of the Khamsin TC, and in doing so we are able to achieve high TM30 readings, with a native CRI of greater than 90. What are the core functionalities of Khamsin and what options does it give perspective LDs? In addition to CMY and CTO colour correction, the fixture includes a colour wheel, 2 rotating gobo wheels containing 6 HD glass gobos each, iris, 2 prisms – 1- 5 facet radial & 1 – 4 facet linear, 2 frosts- 1- Heavy and 1- Light, an animation


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C wheel with zoom ranges from 7-58°. A total of 4 individually positioned shutter blades on a 100% surface area in all positions and a rotation of the M framing system module: +/- 45°.

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What makes Khamsin stand out from similar fixtures on the market? CM Khamsin stands on its own well ahead of others in the market. It’s more compact than the standard metal halide-based fixtures out there today, MY weighing under 40kg. Its optical and advancements give the Khamsin the CY highest output-to-Watt of power consumption ratio on the market. Making CMY it smaller, lighter and brighter fixture, as well as consuming less power than competitor fixtures on the same level. K Did you bring in any lighting designers during the creative process of the fixture? Lighting designers are at the very heart of Ayrton. Listening to end users and fulfilling their needs is our top priority when we develop a fixture. The marriage of development and designer feedback is paramount at Ayrton, and indeed, a very happy one. Where can we expect to see the Khamsin over the next few months? Khamsin is set to appear on many places over the course of the year, some of our biggest clients include: Tom Jones, Take That, Shawn Mendes, Neil Young, Tool, Mumford & Sons, Lil Wayne and Blink-182, to name but a few. TPi 111




Powersoft Project Manager, Klas Dalbjorn, chats to TPi about the Powersoft X4L.

What were the original goals in the development of the X4L? We have been quite active in the last decade talking to designers of subwoofers about how the performance of the system can be improved, which has led to investigating the availability of woofers that work with our IPALMOD. We have also participated in activities within the AES to try to move towards a new way of defining the SPL capabilities of a system. We realised that it is not the available average power of the amplifier that creates the limits for the performance of many modern loudspeakers, but the available peak voltage. The X4L’s development began with analysing how much more voltage made sense to use and how to best make this available for the most demanding high SPL loudspeakers on the market. We felt that our X Series was already well-established, so it made sense to extend it with a new high voltage model. 300V peak has been a request in the past for subwoofers from some of our OEMs and we interacted with some loudspeaker driver manufacturers as well to ensure that they agreed that this was a good target. Taking it much further would probably not make sense as one would then run into limitations regarding the available average power from a

single-phase outlet. We feel that this is a perfect match of peak and average capacity. Could you discuss how the product has been specifically designed with the modern loudspeaker in mind? The key feature in this respect is the freedom that the X4L is able to give to the system designer. The X4L can be used solely for driving subwoofers as well as other cabinets that a rental company needs to drive in a typical event. Driving less-demanding loudspeakers on some channels allows even more SPL for the low frequency or subwoofer channels. While an HF driver might not need high voltage or power, it does provide headroom for the more power and voltage hungry channels. Good examples of the latter are 2 channels driving subwoofers and 2 channels for 2-way front fills, or 4 channels driving a line array with LF1, LF2, MF and HF. What are the key areas of opportunity for Powersoft with the X4L? We think this is a perfect solution for any rental company and loudspeaker manufacturer that is serious about providing a good clean sound for high 112


Are there any tours that have already confirmed they are using the system? The first outing of the X4L was 13 May in Kuala Lumpur’s Axiata Arena. This was part of Jason Mraz’ Good Vibes tour where local rental stagers Singesen and Chan Lee Prosound teamed up to be the first technical providers in the world to use the X4L. “This is a perfect solution Singesen bought 4 X4L amplifier platforms and used two of them for this leg of the APAC tour. for any rental company and For this show, 2 X4L were driving 10 JBL loudspeaker manufacturer VT4880 subwoofers per side, which requires a lot of power. The X4L helped to drive them down that is serious about providing to 2.7 ohms which is an impressive feat. The a good clean sound for high main PA was also driven by our X Series amplifier platform, with everything managed through SPL applications.” ArmoníaPlus. Powersoft Product Manager, TPi Klas Dalbjorn

SPL applications. So, we hope to see it embraced by our partners and get established in clubs as well as rental systems targeting tours and large events. You recently unveiled the X4L at Prolight + Sound 2019. What was the reception like? Many of the attendees were impressed with the specs, of course. Not everyone sees the need yet, but we are confident that this will change over time as the products get more exposed in the field. An amplifier that is capable of tracking the signal is typically better for the health of the loudspeaker than one that can’t. Any limiting might result in a DC offset of the cone, so a more powerful amplifier is generally safer for the loudspeaker as long as it is used with properly designed presets.

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MIND THE GAP The things you don’t know, wasn’t aware you needed to know or the skills you don’t have, can all get in the way of growing a business or developing a career, as PSA’s Andy Lenthall discovers.

There seems to be a bit of a buzz around skills gaps at the moment. Economic and technological shifts have created a need for a new kind of workforce with new skill sets. Recently, in the space of one week, we met with organisations involved with skills gap projects across London the UK and Europe. Add to that the activity surrounding music education and the potential shrinking of the ‘talent pipeline’ and it seems that there’s some work to be done.

One of the key messages that we’ve delivered on a national level is that, in the music education sphere, there needs to be a point at which the whole sector is opened up to young people, opening the live sector up to people who don’t achieve Grade Eight violin. From studio to stage, there’s a whole industry that needs a multitude of skills and knowledge sets. For years, when we’ve been involved with educators looking to design courses for our sector, we’ve been keen to ensure that people leave the courses with the right skills to operate as a business, with knowledge of elements such as tax, safety and insurance. The EU wide project we mentioned earlier, co-funded by the British Council and the EU Erasmus Fund, was designed to research skills gaps in the cultural sector, with partners from the UK and Northern Ireland, Romania, Greece and Bulgaria. The research showed clear gaps in entrepreneurial and management skills, the project then switched focus to designing curricula for higher education providers to fill those gaps. Of course, not every creative person is destined

GAPS IN EDUCATION The development of new talent is one of those ‘out there’ activities, there’s no instant need or fix but if the work isn’t done, there’d be gaps is the future that can’t be plugged; and let’s face it, those currently carving out a career don’t exactly want the next generation snapping at their heels too soon. But, if the work is being done, it’s perhaps best to ensure that the work is being done to our advantage. 114

to be a manager or entrepreneur, it is therefore crucial to realise that and know when you need to buy in those skills. That could be as simple as doing your own tax return until your income and expenses become complicated enough to see value in hiring an accountant. DEVELOPING GAPS, BRIDGING GAPS. Visiting a company member last week, the conversation led to a discussion on people who ‘accidentally’ end up running a company. In this case, a lighting designer who now employs scores of people, someone who probably hasn’t taken on every single role in the company but has realised when the role (gap) has developed and taken on the right person to carry it out, either internally of externally. Not every member is going to go that far though, but everyone will need a question answered or be asked for something that they don’t quite understand. Sure, there are forums out there in social network land, giving a variety of answers and every opportunity to take advice from those speaking authoritatively from a position of ignorance, often leading to people repeating their potentially costly mistakes. As a trade association we also have gaps in our knowledge. Sure, we have a good understanding of the questions but we do know when to defer to those who have a full understanding. That’s why we subscribe to a business support line for our members, unlimited free advice over the phone for those legal, employment and health and safety questions that crop up every now and then. Our support line is backed up by an online library of business document templates, a library for those that might know they need to write an official letter of appointment to a new member of staff but don’t know how to extract one from a blank sheet of paper, gaps in knowledge of Human Resource legislation have the potential to swallow you up. Sticking with HR, there’s also a gap between the DIY approach and having the fiscal fortitude to afford an in house head of HR. Our business support providers, Quest, have the solution for companies who ‘have someone that does the HR’. A range of insurance backed, member discounted solutions are available, with online tools that build a complete, compliant employee management system. ‘It’s worth it for the business support line alone’ said a member at an exhibition recently, no money had changed hands. Sure, there’s a cost to us, but what it can save our members far outweighs that. It’s just part of the ‘PSA package’ that supports members from individual sole trader to large company member. Filling a two page gap in TPi every month is also a bit of a challenge, although it’s always good to remind people about the breadth of our work. It can be a little frustrating to see the same old questions being asked, not as frustrating as seeing similar, inaccurate answers being given. We have either the ability or the facility to deliver the right answer in the short term. In the long term, the ultimate ambition should perhaps be to make the need for a business support line redundant, if further education is going to be the route in to the sector then the projects mentioned at the start of this ramble should deliver ‘business ready’ people into the creative sector that we serve, if other entry points exist, we need to encourage learning in advance of any issues arising, as long as people take time to take advantage of any opportunity. FILLING GAPS, ADDING VALUE If you were to take time to reflect on what you’ve learned since you started working in this business, no matter what the role, would you say you’ve learned things along the way? Would you say that the time you’ve spent learning has added value to you? Have you recorded that learning anywhere? Of course, you’d probably record much of this on a CV somewhere, along with a log of experience. Perhaps we need an approach that offers training in the ‘soft’ skills, those not directly relating to the job function but those relating to the running of your business. Perhaps it doesn’t stop at training but becomes a method of logging all methods of skill and knowledge acquisition, from the training course on the latest control software to the online course on conflict management, perhaps even Mental Health First Aid Training. It’s only when it’s all laid out in front of you that the gap filling makes you realise the value you’ve added to your day rate. TPi



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64 Audio’s Chief Operating Officer, Stewart Millager (centre); AO Technology’s Drone Pilot, Kevin Niedermeier and Producer, Marco Niedermeier; Adlib’s Auke Meijer, Roelof Bouwman, Rich Rowley, Nick Whitehead, Dave Eldridge, and Tom Edwards; Arena’s Project Managers Francesca ​Heap ​and Nick Wright.

64 Audio has announced the promotion of Stewart Millager to Chief Operating Officer. Stewart Millager has been with 64 Audio since 2017, most recently leading the R&D team. “Stewart is a results-driven professional with an impressive resume in the consumer and Pro A/V markets, and he has proven himself quickly in his relatively short time here at 64 Audio,” said Vitaliy Belonozhko, 64 Audio’s Founder and Chief Sound Designer. “As 64 Audio continues to grow, having the right person in the COO position is vital, and Stewart is the ideal choice as his knowledge, work ethic, and values are keys to this position’s success.” Millager said: “The 64 Audio name is synonymous with innovation and quality worldwide. I am excited to take on this new challenge in helping to further the awareness of our brand and to build on our success for future growth.” Adlib have confirmed its investment in a considerate amount of the Vanish V8 LED panel from ROE Visual. “A partnership with the Team at ROE was a no brainer”, commented Rich Rowley GM of Lighting and Video. “Adlib’s ethos of strong manufacturer relationships ensures we have fast backup and support, which is of paramount importance to us. With ROE Visual their diverse and creative product range sits well with our growth strategy in touring video”. ROE Visual is delighted to add Adlib to its UK customer base. “We have found good resonance in the UK with our products and service-based approach,” commented Auke Meijer, Sales Director for ROE Visual Europe.

“The UK market has rapidly become an important market for us, and we can boast really nice partnerships with the UK-based companies.” d&b audiotechnik stated the brand’s existing distributor for Belgium, Amptec, will now distribute the full range of d&b products across the Netherlands and Luxembourg, effective immediately. “d&b has already enjoyed many fruitful years working in close collaboration with Amptec in the Belgian market and we see great potential for our partnership in the future,” said Phill Coe, Territory Manager EMEA at d&b audiotechnik.” Amptec Sales Director, Bart Hilberink commented: “Initial activity in the market, including investment in the SL-Series by Dutch rental company HVR Show Equipment, confirms the significant potential we expect d&b to have in the Netherlands,” stated Hilberink. “We’re thrilled to be announcing this expansion at a time of great strategic importance - as d&b brings industry leading technology to the market in the form of the SL-Series and d&b Soundscape.” AO Technology has launched AO Drones, a brand-new division in its portfolio of innovative visual design services. “ We’re thrilled to bring AO Drones to the market,” said AO Producer, Marco Niedermeier. “Over the last couple of years, we’ve merged 25 years of experience in visual design and entertainment technology development with this innovative new drone technology, to enable live visual design to achieve a whole new level of spectacular.” Arena, the event solutions company, welcomed two new UK Project 116 • +44 208 986 5002


Audiologic’s Ben Spurgeon, Anne Broadley and Phil Hackett; dBTechnologies’ Harald von Falkenstei; Peavey Commercial Audio has brought in Mediamotion AG to service the German and Austrian markets.

Managers, Francesca H ​ eap ​and Nick Wright, to its expanding team. The company is investing in new talent to look after its high-profile clients that include the PGA European Tour, the AELTC (Wimbledon Championships), and Historic Royal Palaces. Chris Morris, Arena UK and Europe CEO commented: “We’re excited to have Francesca and Nick join our team. Francesca and Nick both have experience working on established and complex events and will bring exciting new ideas to Arena. Investing in people is integral to maintaining and developing our service to our customers. As we grow, we will continue to deliver the Arena Standard to our clients, without compromise.” ArKaos has announced that with immediate effect its dynamic product range will be distributed by and available throughout the UK and Ireland via sales specialist Entedi. “We are delighted to be collaborating with Entedi with its dedication to premium products and service,” commented ArKaos’ MD Agnes Wojewoda. “It will broaden the availability and support for ArKaos products generally throughout the UK and Ireland and open new doors through the expertise, enthusiasm and extensive industry contacts of Entedi’s MD Cally Bacchus and his fantastic team!” Bacchus commented: “We are very pleased to be representing ArKaos as an innovator at the cutting edge of the constantly evolving world of digital communications. As a brand with such a strong reputation and identity, we are looking forward to a positive and long-term working relationship with a great future ahead”. Audinate has announced Aidan Williams, the company’s CTO and Cofounder, will succeed Lee Ellison as CEO. Chairman David Krall said: “Lee has been a key contributor to the growth of Audinate, and the results speak for themselves. Under Lee’s leadership as CEO over the past 11 years, Audinate has become the global market leader in audio networking for the professional AV industry. Lee led the company through its successful Initial public offering in June 2017, and since its listing Audinate has consistently delivered strong results and record growth.” Commenting on the transition, Ellison said: “I am most proud about the

passionate team at Audinate that has contributed to our overall success and is brilliantly executing on the growth strategy that has been put in place. I am comforted in my decision to enter retirement, believing the time is right to hand the leadership over to Aidan.” Audiologic has announced the recruitment of new Application Support Engineer Phil Hackett. New Managing Director Andy Lewis has wasted no time in addressing the company’s internal structures and added the overall responsibility for customer services to Head of Operations and Customer Success, Anne Broadley. On the technical side, Ben Spurgeon has taken on the role of Senior Application Engineer. “We’re delighted to be bringing Phil on board as part of our technical support staff. His knowledge and experience of the sector is comprehensive and he has honed his skills working on some very high profile projects during an outstanding career. Audiologic is in Anne’s DNA and it is the overview of our business that she’s cultivated over many years, that glues each element of the company together. Ben is a rising star of the industry who matches every one of his many qualifications with an intelligent and innovative approach to helping our customers and fully deserves this recognition of his talent,” Lewis commented. To facilitate continued growth and ambitious expansion plans, distributor of audio, video and musical instrument products, CUK Audio will be moving to considerably larger premises in East Kilbride, around 10 miles from its existing Glasgow HQ. CUK Audio MD, Stuart Thomson, explained: “Over the past year, it became apparent that we were very near the limit of what our building could accommodate, and the search was on for a new property that would allow us to continue on our steep growth trajectory.” Harald von Falkenstein joined the dBTechnologies team in Cologne, Germany, as Sales and Brand Manager for the dBTechnologies, MIXARS and ANT IntoMusic brands. “With his extensive experience in sales and especially with his knowledge of the RCF Group, Harald is the ideal person to fill the position as Sales and Brand Manager dBTechnologies,” said Arne Deterts, Managing Director of dBTechnologies. “I am confident that he will be a great addition 117 • +44 208 986 5002


Audio Solvation’s Leo Vranken, L-Acoustics Sales Manager Han Dohmen, Audio Solvation’s Bram van Cleef and Audio Solvation’s Tom Dohme; Robe North America’s Charlie Hulme; TechPro’s Henry Pratt.

to our team.” disguise has welcomed Singapore-based Hexogon Solution to its growing roster of rental partners. “As we are rapidly expanding, not only in Asia but in target markets outside of Asia, we need to ensure that we have a strong variety of server brands in our inventory,” said Adrian Goh, Group Managing Director at Hexogon. “disguise is one of the top servers in the market and will help grow our business. Having a large fleet of projectors in the company also means that disguise, with their advanced projection workflows and capabilities will be one of the preferred choices for large-scale events. We are now more comprehensive in our offerings and more competitive in the rental market than ever before.” Mark Payne has been appointed to the role of ER Productions Senior Project Manager. “I have followed ER’s work over the years and have used their products at festivals and in television work. When I saw they were looking to expand, I met Marc and Ryan and was im-pressed with the operation and this particular opportunity. I’m looking forward to being ‘off the road’ and focussed on delivering design work for a variety of clients,” Payne commented. Marco Bruines has been named Senior Vice President of INFiLED Europe. “We are very happy to announce that Marco is joining our company bringing his knowledge and industry experience on LED displays to our European business partners,” said Michael Hao, CEO of INFiLED. “In his new position, Marco will lead the Sales and Marketing in Europe with a focus on the rental and staging and fixed installation markets.” Bruines added: “Being involved with LED display projects in the last 20 years, I have seen many LED manufacturers come and go. INFiLED’s passion to serve their customers at the highest level for a long-term relationship, convinced me to join INFiLED in the year of their 10th years anniversary”. In a landmark move, Kinesys has joined the TAIT group of companies. The combination yields unmatched capabilities in automation and show control and creates exciting opportunities for existing and future customers of both companies.

Dave Weatherhead, CEO of Kinesys: “I have long admired the amazing work that the team at TAIT have delivered over the years. From groundbreaking touring shows to epic installations they really have earned their reputation for quality and innovation. Being able to bring that magic to our Kinesys family of customers and rental partners is exciting. This will take the choice of automation available to every tour, production, and venue to a whole new level. By sharing our respective experiences and expertise we can bring extraordinary solutions to an expanded customer base in integrated and affordable packages.” L-Acoustics has named Audio Solvation as its brand-new distributor for The Netherlands. “Soundsale quickly became well known for expertise in L-Acoustics technologies,” explained Tom Dohmen Marketing and Sales Specialist at Audio Solvation. “Bram and Leo saw massive potential there as the brand was embraced by musicians and engineers alike. It produces the most rider-friendly systems out there at a consistently high quality - systems that also maintain a high proportion of their value over extended periods of time. Soundsale was being asked more and more to supply new L-Acoustics equipment. That was the catalyst for starting Audio Solvation.” Le Mark Group has appointed Jeff Demain as its Northern Sales Manager in the UK. “I have known Jeff for many years and have always been in awe of his industry knowledge,” said Linda Gibbons, joint Managing Director. “With Jeff now on the ground locally, he is perfectly positioned and readily available to meet with many more companies interested in our products and to expand our sales in the north of the UK. It is an important move forward for the company.” Demain added: “I am really looking forward to joining the team at Le Mark. I’ve known Linda and Stuart ever since they began the business and have been really impressed with the company’s growth and innovation. I’ve been a user of their products at all the businesses I’ve worked with, so this is an ideal opportunity for me to share why I believe in Le Mark products to an even wider audience.” Peavey Commercial Audio has brought in Mediamotion AG to service 118 • +44 208 986 5002


Le Mark’s Linda Gibbons, Jeff Demain, Stuart Gibbons

the German and Austrian markets. Established in 1995, Mediamotion specialises in the supply of sound reinforcement, lighting, video, and conference system technologies. “Mediamotion is already involved in every market that is important to us,” PCA’s European Sales Manager, Christoph Sesseck said. “That includes everything from performance venues to event technology, conferencing, public address and more. By partnering with Mediamotion, we are confident that we can reach new customers and make our Peavey Commercial Audio, MediaMatrix and Crest Audio products more accessible.” Powersoft has hired Raymond Tee as Application Engineer for the APAC region. Tee commented: “It was the technology inside Powersoft amplifiers that have always impressed me. I first came across them in early 2000s when I was working in Malaysia as a System Engineer. Back then we were used to very chunky amplifiers, and to see a unit so compact able to deliver such power without compromising the audio quality was simply mind blowing for me. When I discovered that I was going to be able to work for such a company, I was ecstatic!” Proel has announced that Nitin Mehta will lead the charge of the development of the company’s brands in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Maldives, Afghanistan and Bhutan. Mehta commented: “This is my pleasure to be a part of the prestigious organisation like Proel. The company has a vast range of products line which covers every segment of AV industry with the quality product line. The company is very focused on R&D division, applying new technologies and techniques to design new products. Proel team is very energetic, supportive and it would be a great opportunity for me to explore my experience in Music industry with them in India and SAARC region.” QSC welcomed two new members to its North American operation Jason Baez, Business Development Manager for the Central Region, and Jake Corlett, Director, Consultant Liaison and Canadian National Sales Manager. “We are very excited to add these two seasoned AV professionals to our North America sales roster,” said Frank West, Senior Director Sales, QSC

Systems. “As the Q-SYS Ecosystem continues to build momentum in the AV market as the new standard for audio, video and control, QSC continues to invest in expanding regional field talent to provide best-in-class sales and system support. We look forward to introducing more customers to Jason and Jake, each of whom have already made an immediate impact to our business in their respective regions.” David McKenzie has joined the Riedel Communications North American operation as Manager of Service and Support. “As our business continues along the path toward IP workflows, the need for internal IP skills has never been greater,” said Operations Manager for Riedel Communications North America, Jake Halverson. “David’s deep IT experience will be a huge asset both to our teams and to our clients.” President and CEO, Riedel Communications North America, Joyce Bente, added: “David’s expertise in production, technical IT, and project management, coupled with his focus on service-oriented relationships, makes him ideally suited for our lead service and support position,” she said. “David will be a tremendous asset as we continue to expand our support operations, and we welcome him to the team.” Robe North America’s Charlie Hulme has been named Business Development Manager. “As Business Development Manager, Charlie will be a perfect partner with Tal Janowitz in managing the Robe Anolis architainment brand and representatives, and he will also liaise with our Robe regional sales managers on permanent installation projects.” TechPro has promoted Henry Pratt to the role of Project Coordinator, to help meet growing demand for the firm’s specialist services. Senior Project Manager, Adam Taylor, commented: “In his new role, Henry will primarily support our Project Managers with all aspects of the department’s work, ensuring flawless delivery of live events for our clients.” Commenting on his promotion, Pratt said: “I recognise this is a great opportunity for me to learn from experienced, talented colleagues like Adam, who know all there is to know about project management in our sector.” TPi 119


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NICK WHITEHOUSE Co-Founder and CEO of Fireplay

What was the original vision for Fireplay and why was it the right time to create it? We formed Fireplay to address the growing desire by artists and managers to hire a more turnkey and accountable design and production solution. The live touring business has changed significantly over the last 10 years with touring being an artist’s primary source of income. Large tours are now run like multi-million dollar corporations. The key to efficiency and profitability lies in incredible creativity, smart tourable designs and strong experienced management. That’s what we do best at Fireplay. What have been your highlights over the company’s two-year history? We have be fortunate enough to be involved with some truly incredible artists over the last two years. Justin Timberlake’s Man Of The Woods tour and Superbowl performance were very special moments. Working with James Taylor during his tours and Vegas residency, as well as our growth into Nashville and country music has also been amazing. We’ve had the opportunity to meet amazing creatives and collaborators along the way who we now not only get to work with regularly but have become really good friends! What have been some of the most exciting developments in the world of show design? The development of the laser projector and the laser engine for lighting fixtures is really exciting. We have used laser projectors on a number of projects and they allow us to do things that were simply not feasible with older technology. I am excited for the world of lighting to catch up! When did your passion for the live events begin? In 1995, I made the finals of a keyboard competition. I vividly remember being obsessed with these lighting objects on top of posts that were moving and changing colour. Ever since that moment, I knew I wanted to somehow be involved in live events.

How did it feel to be awarded TPi’s Mark Fisher Set Designer of the Year Award? It was fantastic that Fireplay and our work on Justin Timberlake’s Man of the Woods tour was recognised with this award. Our creative team worked incredibly hard on this design to produce something really unique in an arena setting, which was a challenege. I know I speak for the team when I say we were thrilled with the result and even happier that we received this award because of our work.

One of your early career highlights was with working with Coldplay. How did that relationship begin? I began as Media Server Designer and Operator with Bryan Leitch as the main LD. As the tour took off, dates were added quickly and globally. Leitch was trying to run a business and designed for many other acts and the band were comfortable with me. So, I moved into the roll of operating lighting and video along with designing and running all the promo shows and one offs. When we hit the second tour, Bryan stepped further away from touring and I moved into the lead design role.

What’s next on your schedule? It’s a busy year for sure. We just launched eight arena tours, opened two Vegas residencies and produced a number of events. We’ve got a few more tours to get out this month and we have some really exciting projects coming up that unfortunately we can’t talk about yet! Although I can confirm that it’s going to be another great year for Fireplay. 122




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