elements run off an MA Lighting grandMA2. Discussing the laser set up for the tour was Rachel Spires, who was happy to be back in the Drake camp after being brought in on the tail end of the previous Boy Meets World tour. “The laser design for the show was created by Grant Sellers – one of the head designers at Strictly FX. So, my main responsibility is to maintain the design and ensure each element is working correctly each day.” In total, Spires oversaw 10 Arctose Stella 30watt lasers, all of which were run via a Pangolin Beyond system. Throughout the show there were a selection of big laser looks but, for Spires, there was a highlight, so to speak. “We have this look where the lasers trace out the lines of a basketball court - it’s my biggest and most stressful moment in the show,” she laughed. “If either video or I screw up, everyone would notice.” And with the sea of mobile phone lights thrust into the air during the moment of the show, it’s easy to understand Spires’ apprehension. “During set up, the video department throws up the pattern of the court lines, which I then focus everything to. If our trim is the same, it takes around 30 minutes.” Finally, brought out on the Strictly FX rider were 6 Haze Base Pros and 6 Haze Base Classics.
Raffaello D’Andrea. “We were approached by Steve Kidd, Drake’s tour manager, who told us Drake wanted drones in his show, but he wanted something which had never been seen before. From there we started working on different concepts with the creative team.” The team ended up producing looks for two different songs in the artist’s set – Elevate and Look Alive. “For Elevate, they wanted something organic and ethereal,” commented D’Andrea. “We modelled the choreography after a swarm of bees which follows Drake as he goes from one end of the stage to the other. For Look Alive we came up with a concept of a wave of drones that undulates above Drake before transforming into a 3D cross.” The number of Lucie micro drones which performed each night varied from venue to venue but in total there were 88 drones and the production disposal. The show was operated by a single drone operator, with assistance from stage hands to deploy the drones at the two moments in the show. “Unlike the remote-controlled flying Lamborghini, our Lucie micro drones flew their pre-programmed choreographies autonomously - no drone pilot required,” commented D’Andrea. “One of the technical challenges we had to overcome was finding a place for the drones to land. As Drake’s stage had no wings or stage lifts, we had to come up with a novel way for the drones to land offstage. We then came up with the solution of the drones landing in nets off the side of the stage, right by the audience. We’ve never done this before and it’s an example of how our clients push the limits of our technology and come up with new, innovative solutions to unique challenges.” D’Andrea gave his final thoughts on the production. “People often describe technologies they’ve never seen before as ‘magic’. This is also how people talk about our drones when they see them live for the first time. By bringing robotics and AI to live events, we are creating magic. It’s spectacular to see a swarm of drones performing a perfectly synchronised aerial ballet without a single drone pilot in sight. Of course, what’s powering this performance is advanced technology, but when you sit in the audience, all you see is magic.”
DRONES For most artists a top of the line audio-visual tour on display would suffice but Drake is not your average performer. On his previous tour, the production brought out some of the latest winch technology to extend the visual stage show out into the audience with automated spheres creating a selection of shapes thought the show. This time round, the production also looked to the sky to increase the production value – this time with drones. First of all, in one of the most photographed elements of the show, a yellow sports car is suddenly seen taking flight and gliding over the audience. “It’s certainly one of the highlights of the night,” commented Roberts. “The car has been built by a company called GearFactory. Essentially it’s filled with helium with motors on the side control.” But this was not the only moment in the show where the production made use of the air space - with Verity Studios also being on board to provide the production with a fleet of its Lucie micro drones for the tour. Discussing the company’s involvement was Founder of Verity Studios,
LOGISTICS Side by side on the road with the production were were Beat the Street and Fly By Nite. “Drake is a great tour for us,” stated Beat The Street Ian 44