TOTAL PRODUCTION INTERNATIONAL
RAMMSTEIN LIVE EVENT DESIGN & TECHNOLOGY • NOVEMBER 2019 • ISSUE 243
A heavy metal masterclass
I MEIN HERZ BRENNT …
TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB • ALICE COOPER • DANIEL CAESAR • HIGHLITE EXPERIENCE DAY • PSA BROMPTON TECHNOLOGY • BPM SFX • IN THE FIELD: ALLEN & HEATH • GEAR HEADS: EB-L20000U
NOVEMBER 2019 #243
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D8Plus StageOperator …Und aus Happy Halloween everyone! As we push print on the 31 October it seems timely that this month we bring you our coverage of Rammstein’s latest live exploits. This month’s cover stars have been somewhat of a bucket list gig for me. Growing up in Guernsey, I never had the chance to see the band live, despite being a fan since picking up a copy of Mutter in the early 2000s. Getting the chance to see them in the midst of their first ever stadium tour and walk on a stage which in a matter of hours would be engulfed by flames and some of the most outlandish stage effects was a moment I won’t forget any time soon. For those that didn’t catch the tour this year never fear – the German juggernauts will return to the European stadium circuit in 2020. Elsewhere in the magazine, Jacob spoke to Two Door Cinema Club’s production team as they set out on their UK arena tour, off the back of their new album, False Alarm. Employing the creative vision of Cassius Creative, the Northern Irish group presented a striking visual feast that didn’t leave the fans disappointed. Elsewhere in this issue is full coverage of living legend, Alice Cooper’s latest Ol’ Black Eyes is Back tour. Yet another Halloween coincidence – what are the chances? With our November issue put to bed, the entire TPi team is prepping for an incredibly busy month ahead. Not only are Lyndsey and I heading state side for this year’s LDI, we are pleased to welcome the return of the fourth annual Production Futures. Our yearly gathering for those making their first steps into the live events industry. This year, we turn Fly By Nite Studios into our home on 13 November. With talks from the likes of TPi Awards Lighting Designer of Year, Tim Routledge and Metallica’s FOH Engineer ‘Big Mick’ Hughes, the day has a packed schedule of hands on demonstrations and seminars from all sectors of the live events industry. You can find out more at: www.productionfutures.co.uk Till next time Stew Hume Editor
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COVER Rammstein courtesy of Manfred H. Vogel
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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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EVENT FOCUS 08
Highlite Experience Day The lighting distributor welcomes the industry to its Kerkrade HQ.
P ROT E U S MAXIMUS
10 NEXT-proaudio The audio manufacturer hosts its 2019 International Distribution Meeting.
Cinderella at The Royal Albert Hall Barco Projectors power the latest ballet adaptation of the classic tale.
Rebel Grace Loud and Clear Productions choose Equipson’s LightShark.
Alejandro Sanz Visionlite creates an impressive automation package for the superstar.
We Will Rock You Tour TPi chats to the staging team behind the latest incarnation of the production.
Avolites The console manufacturer unveils its new software control system: Synergy.
PRODUCTION PROFILE 26
Rammstein The metal titans bring their high-octane stage show to European stadiums.
Two Door Cinema Club The Northern Irish group unveils their latest live offering.
Alice Cooper The godfather of shock rock brings his haunted castle to venues across Europe.
Daniel Caesar One of Canada’s best kept secrets embarks on an intimate global tour.
IN THE FIELD 72
Lewis Capaldi’s FOH Engineer talks through his Allen & Heath control setup.
MARKET FOCUS 74
TPi takes a look at the some of the industry’s freighting specialists.
Brompton Technology discuss the world of LED processing.
TPi takes a look around BPM SFX’s newly renovated Burnley HQ.
To celebrate its 40th anniversary, TPi meets NEXO’s tireless R&D department.
PRODUCTION FUTURES 96
SLX’s Golden Gobo winner: Lucy Adams
GEAR HEADS 98
An in-depth look at Epson’s EB-L20000U.
PSA: THE BIGGER PICTURE 100 Are you ready for Brexit?
102 The latest movers and shakers.
BACK CHAT 114 LCR’s Mike Oates takes the hot seat.
ELATION PROFESSIONAL EUROPE www.elationlighting.eu email@example.com +31 45 546 85 66
HIGHLITE EXPERIENCE DAY 2019 The Dutch-based distributor welcomes customers to its state-of-the-art headquarters. Emma Davidson reports…
Highlite International recently opened the doors of its Kerkrade, the Netherlands headquarters for a unique Experience Day 2019, transforming, once again, into a real entertainment knowledge and experience centre for a wealth of industry professionals. The day included various product demonstrations, workshops and training sessions that displayed new Highlite products and allowed attendees to engage in the company’s growth. Throughout the day, product specialists from brands including Showtec and Wentex International showcased their products, discussing and informing press and potential customers about what they could offer. Outside in the area surrounding the company’s base, the complete Odin audio system from DAP audio was on show, pumping out everything from discreet vocal performances to intense EDM, causing the air to vibrate with
its sheer power. Meanwhile in the main show room, Highlite constructed a theatrical lighting show that took viewers on an immersive journey. Illustrated by the many moving heads in the room that filled the space with firey red tones and deep blues, they became the perfect accompaniment to the flying jellyfish that fell from the ceiling and transported those watching to the set of Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water. “The main reason we organise the Experience Day is to have a meet and greet with our customers,” explained President and founder of Highlite International, Hub de la Haije. “We also get the chance to learn from each other and build on our relationships. That, to me, is the most important thing about the Experience Day.” Highlite recently celebrated its 25th anniversary and it’s clear to see how far it has come in that time. Even the café in the headquarters is kitted 08
HIGHLITE EXPERIENCE DAY
Highlite International President and founder, Hub de la Haije.
out in vintage gear that the company has continued to pioneer. The workshop tours, led by both Hub and Patrick Herveille, Vice President of Highlite International, also explored the company’s history and allowed groups to venture into every corner of the place they call home, looking at everywhere from the workspaces where products are made and developed, to the offices where the marketing team resides. As well as the press and Highlite’s customers, students from a nearby college attended the event and were encouraged to join experts Angleo van der Weerden and Harald Wolf to learn more about the newest lighting control desk, with in-house designed Chimp software that caters for a range of applications including touring, rental, theatres and houses of worship. The moving light controllers enable the user to program their best show in a matter of minutes. Another workshop was led by Dutch Media Tools (DMT) product specialists Tom Quicken and Eric Piefer, who discussed the technical aspects of all that DMT can offer. The company provides solutions for visual entertainment needs including quality indoor and outdoor LED pixel screens, LED processors and even media server software. The workshop looked in detail at how LED screens work and what makes DMT delivers. “A lot of people who attended told me that they could see how far Highlite has come and the growth it is constantly experiencing. The quality of our products and the facilities we have to offer made the day extremely rewarding and we look forward to sharing this with more people in the future,” concluded Hub. TPi Photos: TPi & Highlite International www.highlite.com 09
NEXT-PROAUDIO INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTION MEETING NEXT-proaudio welcomes over 70 international distribution partners, dealers, customers and designers from 18 countries for its 2019 International Distribution Meeting in Porto, Portugal.
For the 2019 iteration of its International Distribution Meeting, NEXTproaudio kicked off proceedings with a dinner to welcome the more than 70 international distributions partners, dealers, customers and designers, who arrived in Porto on 14 October. The following morning, the guests were given a factory tour during which the recent expansion of the headquarters was showed-off, as well as a demonstration of the company’s new ultra-compact passive line array element, the LA26. On the same day, during the afternoon, NEXT-proaudio demonstrated the LA212x, LA122.v2, LA122A and LAm114xA at Multiusos de Guimaraes – an iconic arena for international concerts on the north of Portugal. The event concluded back at the NEXT-proaudio facility, where various presentations took place, including Powersoft’s ‘Armonia’ based on N-rak – the manufacturers power rack solution using Powersoft X8 amplifiers.
NEXT-proaudio Owner Antonio Correia also gave a presentation on the manufacturer’s own software – Soundware, Audio Tool and AST. “This was a great opportunity for us to show our distribution network all our improvements on the facilities, products and team,” commented Correia. “We were more than happy to receive all these people from different parts of the world, all with the same ambition, to grow NEXTproaudio worldwide. Sergio Pinto, NEXT-proaudio Sales Manager, added: “It was exciting to see everybody’s passion and enthusiasm. We´re proud of our team and the distribution network. Our LA26 was a highlight of the event, with orders of more than 200 units after the meeting. We couldn’t be more satisfied.” TPi Photo: NEXT-proaudio www.next-proaudio.com 10
CINDERELLA Barco projectors star on Christopher Wheeldon’s adaptation of the classic tale for the English National Ballet at the Royal Albert Hall.
When noted English choreographer Christopher Wheeldon hosted Cinderella for the English National Ballet (ENB) at the Royal Albert Hall in June 2019, he was keen to live up to the rich history of the storied venue. Initially, SFL was brought in as a technical advisor. “In all, the project was 18 months in the planning,” explained SFL Director, Craig Lawrence. “ENB’s Technical Director, George Thomson, was looking to stage a largescale production in the round. The production required many different changes of scene and the use of projection seemed the obvious answer. ENB had never worked with projection on such a large scale before, so it turned to SFL to provide that experience.” Ultimately, the design called for multiple projection points, including the floor and sky wall at the rear of the stage. SFL devised the 3D modelling, collated the rig plans and coordinated everything with lighting, video, audio and set/costume designers to ensure all the different technical elements were in sync. The Barco projection system comprised a mixture of 32K and 40K UDX projectors, 16 in total, all flown from a rig. Eight 40K units managed
the floor, with the remainder used for the sky wall. Sharpness, power and easy installation were the determining factors when it came to selecting projectors. These same criteria were used to choose them at the more recent International Swimming Federation events in South Korea. Connecting, calibrating and blending all these in a listed building in a rental situation was time-consuming, particularly as there were multiple shows on some days. Due to vibration, temperature and truss movements, the alignment was tweaked every time before a show. To save time and increase accuracy, SFL could call on the Barco Projector Toolset that comes with UDX projectors. To assist in what was a challenging set-up, Barco dispatched an engineer to help fine-tune the projection. The workflow was analysed and discussed with SFL during the initial setup. As a result, some modifications were made to the PToolset software, which were available for immediate use during the subsequent setups. “The Projector Toolset saved us one third of the time we had previously been spending on doing line-ups,” 12
according to Lawrence. “Being part of the setup team for a couple of days was invaluable for both of us,” commented Barco Country Manager UK, Ashley Raines. “We could point out possible solutions for the production and fix some issues on the spot. Seeing how the alignment went smoother and faster was equally gratifying. What we learnt about the pain points of putting together and managing this level of set-up will also be incorporated into
future updates of the toolset.” Down on the stage, meanwhile, all the work seemed to pay off. Audience feedback was effusive. “A riot of colour and exquisite dancing”, “completely spectacular” and “stunning” were just a few of the words used to describe the production as a whole. TPi Photos: Ian Gavan www.barco.com
REBEL GRACE Production company Loud and Clear chooses Equipson’s LightShark console to boost workflow efficiencies.
When Milwaukee, US-based sound, lighting and video event production company Loud and Clear Productions LLC was putting together equipment for Rebel Grace, a local country band that averages 50-60 gigs a year, it needed a package that could cope with a range of venues, from small clubs with a capacity of up to 500 to county and state fairs and summer festivals, where audiences can number over 2,000. Eric Reese, Founder of Loud and Clear, explained that his company was looking to make changes to its set-up to accommodate the various venues. “We had a lighting console that we had used on previous Rebel Grace shows, but given venues and crowd concerns with these events, I wanted to change the workflow paradigm in audio/lighting operation from a FOH based control position, to an option that could be located at monitor world, while operating wirelessly around the venues,” he commented. “We also wanted the new console to be compact, portable and be capable of producing an impactful show while still delivering workflow efficiencies,” he added. The brief initially sounded hard to fulfil, but Loud and Clear settled on two intermediate-level DMX-based hardware lighting consoles that offer completely integrated hardware and software control via smartphones
and tablets: Spanish manufacturer Equipson’s recently released WorkPro LightShark LS-1 and LS-Core. Both products are aimed at small- to medium-sized touring productions and fixed installations such as theatres, nightclubs and houses of worship. “I was introduced to LightShark by Blizzard Lighting (Equipson’s US distributor) and I was intrigued by the LightShark LS-1 because it offered features and connectivity one would normally find in a much more expensive product,” Reese explained. “These included built-in ‘brains’ accessed by web service, along with expandability of DMX universes.” Reese decided to incorporate a LightShark LS-1 into the Rebel Grace shows and built the entire audio and lighting rigs specifically to maximise impact with minimal footprint. “We wanted to maintain the utmost efficiency of system control and deployment, as well as to provide an aesthetic that was different from other local acts,” he commented. “The ability to control the LightShark LS-1 via web server from a tablet or smartphone made it the right choice for this application.” Toby Tobolt, Loud and Clear’s Light Designer, agreed that being able to access the LS-1’s software via Wi-Fi or ethernet on any device was a very compelling feature. “I didn’t need to download any software or depend on 14
(L-R) Brian ‘Toby’ Tobolt, Eric Reese (Owner Loud & Clear Productions, LLC), Andrew Graves (A1/System Tech).
a computer,” he noted. “The LS-1 also had two universes, both five-pin and three-pin, on the board to plug into, which was ideal for the way we wanted to use the board.” Loud and Clear used two universes of DMX via wireless DMX, Blizzard PX6, Blizzard EMPulse, wireless Blizzard BLOK2ip and ChromaQ Color1 100X fixtures. On the audio side, the equipment line-up included a wirelessly controlled Yamaha QL1 console, RCF TTL6A mains and TTS36 Subs, Shure PSM1000s for IEMs and a Shure Axient Digital wireless system on all vocals and guitars. “The entire audio path is ‘direct’ except for drums via wireless to (Kemper) Profilers,” Reese added. “The LightShark LS-1, along with wireless DMX, has made the lighting system equally as efficient.” As well
as being impressed with the LightShark LS-1, both Reese and Tobalt were pleased with the customer support they received. “I was extremely impressed by Equipson’s willingness and ability to respond to an issue from a small company,” Reese commented, reflecting on an unexpected glitch that was quickly resolved after a call to Blizzard Lighting’s customer service. “They solved the issue even more quickly than I would have expected, within a week of bringing it to their attention.” TPi Photos: Ryan Pintor www.workpro.es www.blizzardpro.com
ALEJANDRO SANZ: LA GIRA TOUR With the GRAMMY Award-winning artist currently in the midst of a gruelling world tour, TPi catches up with Visionlite’s Kosma Szostak to find out how the stage automation specialist tackles this ambitious production.
With an extensive tour that sees the musician pass through Spain, the US and South America, Alejandro Sanz is leaving no stone unturned when it comes to pleasing his throngs of Latin American fans. Ahead of the Spanish leg of the tour, which started in Seville on 1 June, Sanz’s production team was looking for a stage automation solution and got in touch with Visionlite. “We were introduced to the production at the beginning of April,” opened Visionlite’s Kosma Szostak. “The main goal for our company is to construct stage automation equipment available straight from the shelf. Thanks to this business model, we were able to make an offer the next day and confirm that we could implement this concept using equipment we already had.” Szostak went on to explain how the deal was struck. “Before the client confirmed the order, he asked for a private demonstration session of the system, which we prepared in our warehouse. After two days of testing, the client was satisfied with the results and we started work. Three weeks
later, we were in Madrid testing the system under full load and in various configurations.” Szostak noted that the main goal was to fly six large cube-shaped LEDs over the stage to create a telescopic screen effect that could be moved from the front to the back of the stage. “This was achieved, and the show looked amazing,” he added. Time was a challenge for the team. “We had to assemble everything in six to eight hours in each location,” recalled Szostak. “The entire system of our own VL Fly Rail was suspended under Eurotruss ST50 trusses. In total, we had 12 fingers with rails of approximately 11m long each. “Due to the fact that each structure had to drive independently, and the weight at the point of the largest winches exerted pressure with dynamic forces on our rail around 1.2 tonnes, the weight of one point had to be distributed in most cases between two trolleys spaced about 130cm apart,” Szostak continued, going on to note that, in total, there were 24 18
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suspension points from LED screens, which were spread over 36 carts. “Among them, 12 carts were motor driven and the others operated as slave carts.” The entire system was controlled by Kinesys Elevation1+ drives controlled by the Mentor 4 safety unit and K2 consoles. Despite the screens varying in size, they were similar in weight. “This was due to the fact that the smaller cubes were loaded with a lot of lighting fixtures,” revealed Szostak. “An additional challenge was the fact that the entire weight of the LED cubes accumulated in the centre of the screens at its front, where we could not use any suspension point. Everything had to be calculated by our engineer, so the weights were distributed evenly on the rail trolleys. Nevertheless, all screens weighed around 2.2 to 2.5 tonnes each.” Szostak was also keen to draw attention to the fact that Visionlite was responsible for raising two panoramic screens 20m wide at the back of the stage, which worked on a total of 16 hoists, where each of them also
weighed about 2.5 tonnes. “In total, we used about 40 Kinesys hoists on the project,” he added. Summing up, Szostak was delighted at the end result. We are very happy that we could prove that the Visionlite business model works in the touring industry,” he asserted. “We’ve learned a lot by working with such professionals as Borja Gonzales and Pablo Moreno. We must also thank the event designer, XLR estudio, as well as our Head of Automation, Marcin Krzyżański, who is currently on the Alejandro Sanz tour in Mexico. All of these elements made this route unique. The band and the idea that we had behind us, as well as technical resources, allowed to provide something new.” TPi Photos: Visionlite www.alejandrosanz.com www.visionlite.eu
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WE WILL ROCK YOU The Next Stage’s Oliver Laight explains how the company built the framework for the famous Queen-themed show.
Starting life as one of the most successful shows on London’s West End, We Will Rock You is now touring the UK, bringing its inimitable brand of Queen-themed entertainment to theatres up and down the country, presented by Phil McIntyre Productions. Stufish Entertainment Architects was brought back in to take the creative lead on the tour, with video design by Treatment and lighting by Rob Sinclair. Stufish has been a part of the We Will Rock You story for a number of years, having designed the original 2002 show and every other official replica production since. For the 2019 iteration, the goal was to move this touring version into a completely digital panorama. Utilising video screens, the set can form different shapes and levels as a way of creating different scenes on stage. With a variety of venues set to host the touring production, the set had to have the ability to fit onto a number of different sized stages. Brought in to provide staging and set production services for the tour were The Next Stage, MDM and Total Fabrications. “We built all of the custom frameworks to fit LED panels onto the set, the support structure for the tracking/flown video screens and the transport carts for these assemblies,” commented The Next Stage’s Oliver
Laight. “Later in the build period, we were asked to build the Killer Queen Throne, a 4 ft tall, rolling riser with telescopic steps up to it. This provided numerous challenges as the piece had steps that retracted into the unit, and LED lighting that all needed to be packaged into it. It also had to have a top deck that could tilt to account for raked stages.” The Next Stage was first approached to work on the project in May. “We had completed a couple of projects for Broome Productions’ Andy Gibbs before – notably sets for theatre productions of Catherine Tate Live and the TV show Early Doors,” explained Laight. “We received initial design concepts from Stufish Entertainment Architects. The design went through a couple of versions, but with only minor changes each time. This design package was very comprehensive with scene by scene breakdowns and an animation of how the set pieces had to move around during the show. The final production was very true to the concept.” Well thought out packaging was crucial. “This is something that The Next Stage specialises in,” noted Laight. “Custom transport carts were built with location cones and latches to hold all of the pieces in position to avoid the LED assemblies from being damaged in transport.” The large LED screens were built into modular sections, which allowed for a faster load 22
WE WILL ROCK YOU
in/out. “The assemblies needed to be strong enough to support the panels but light enough to be lifted in and out of the carts,” added Laight. The Next Stage working with Total Fabrications, which built the scenic trucks that are moved around during the performance. “Half of our video assemblies were fitted onto these trucks,” said Laight. “Mervyn Thomas and Nigel Tranter were a pleasure to work with and, thanks to an exchange of CAD models and ideas, a simple solution for fitting these assemblies together was agreed upon. During the build stage, before the video assemblies were powder coated, they were test fitted onto the trucks to make sure there were no issued when it came to the fit up, a couple of weeks later.” The LED panels were provided by Blue-I. “They were kind enough to loan us a few to aid the design process,” recalled Laight. “Prototypes of the LED assemblies were built and having the product allowed us to test-fit the panels to make sure everything lined up as it should, and we could get the pixel pitch correct. Malcolm Mellows from Blue-I and his team were very accommodating when we came to fit all of the LED panels at their Milton Keynes site.” Laight summed up his final thoughts on the project. “We are really proud of this project and feel that it is some of our best work to date,” he commented. “Integrating LED video products onto staging elements is something we have a lot of experience in. This job was the perfect showcase for these skills.” TPi Photos: Johan Persson www.queenonline.com www.stufish.com www.thenextstage-uk.com
AVOLITES SYNERGY DAY Avolites unveils radical new software integrating lighting control with video display in the same user interface for the first time. TPi reports from the official launch party.
Having already won industry awards and been used on high-profile projects in its beta stage, Avolites launched its radical new software control system, Synergy, worldwide on Synergy Day, Wednesday 16 October 2019. TPi was on the ground at the launch party, where the brand showed off its new Titan and Ai V12. Effectively a free V12 software upgrade to both its lighting console and media server ranges, Synergy unites them like never before, allowing lighting designers full visibility and fine control over both the lighting and video components of a multimedia performance. Synergy allows users to quickly and simply pull control of pre-created screen surfaces and layers into a Titan-based lighting console at the touch of a button, or, vice versa, create surfaces in an Ai media server from within the console interface. All operations occur seamlessly using Avolites’ proprietary Titan Net protocol and take place on whatever hardware the user is running, from Titan USB interfaces all the way up to the Sapphire Touch console, and from Ai software licences all the way up to the superpowerful Q4 media server. The creative possibilities for lighting design that are unleashed as a result are endless. The software’s new Lightmap feature allows users to stream Ai video colour data through any colour-mixing fixture group, to instantly integrate them into a larger video canvas. As a result of this, everything from high-resolution LED screens to LED fixture groups, can be controlled from a single intuitive user interface without the requirement to create and arrange fixtures in the media server
or create ArtNet merges. Users can simply select the group and choose Ai in the pixel mapper. Synergy also allows for live video previews of up to six simultaneous streams from the media server, inside the Titan interface, giving users full control wherever the servers are located. These can be either layer previews or screen outputs and Synergy’s media browser allows content to be selected and uploaded to specific locations on connected servers from the console interface. This content then appears on the bank with a thumbnail ready to play as soon as it’s uploaded and/or converted to AiM. “From high-profile rock shows to corporate presentations, lighting designers are asked to combine lighting and video elements for maximum impact,” commented Avolites Sales Manager, Stephen Baird-Smith. “As the only company in the industry that has both a lighting console platform and a media server range, we are ideally placed to bring them together into the same interface and are delighted with the new creative possibilities we have already seen realised from the beta program.” The beta version of Synergy has already impressed, with work on the last Gary Numan tour, on the Temple Stage at Glastonbury, at September’s Hospitality and Abode In The Park festivals, which took place at Finsbury Park, London, and has even been used by Everlast Productions in the US to projection map a simulacrum of the White House at a corporate event. TPi Photo: Avolites www.avolites.com 24
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RAMMSTEIN Heading out on their first ever full stadium tour, the German standard-bearers for heavy metal give a masterclass in stage theatrics, thunderous riffs and, of course, a face-melting level of pyrotechnics. Catching the final date of their 2019 run, TPiâ€™s Stew Hume heads to Austria to witness the madness for himself.
For a band that is larger than life in every sense, it’s surprising that Rammstein has never entered the world of stadium touring. An everpresent name on the live bucket lists of most metal and rock fans, the German powerhouse has raised the bar year after year, with some of the most extreme shows imaginable. So, when TPi got the invitation to come along and witness the final night of the band’s European Stadium Tour, I couldn’t book my flights fast enough. This latest outing coincided with the band’s new album – its first release in 10 years. The mysterious untitled LP came out with very little fanfare or promotion, but as soon as it dropped, it was embraced by their fans – many of whom flocked to stadiums across Europe to see exactly what a Rammstein stadium show entailed. As TPi entered Vienna’s Ernst Happel Stadium, after squeezing through the sea of black shirts – most of which were emblazed proudly with the band’s cross logo – we set about meeting the fine men and women who had kept the band’s ambitions production on the road.
suppliers Trucking Services and Brilliant Stages. Not forgetting pyrotechnic specialist, ffp – a company which Sabottka is also the Managing Director – but more on that later. Along with a selection of new suppliers, Sabottka and the wider management team also brought in new creative heads in the form of Woodroffe Bassett Design’s Show Designer Patrick Woodroffe, Lighting Designer Roland Greil, who led the project for WBD, Set Designer Florian Wieder of Wieder Design Studios and Set Designer Cuno Hahn. All of whom worked closely with the band who played a major role in the development of the stage design. Having both started their careers in the Munich region, Greil and Wieder already knew one another and had even collaborated on a recent project in China. Having grown up in Germany, surely working with Rammstein was something of a dream job? “They are certainly one of those artists you want to tick off the list,” admitted Greil. “Rammstein is very tempting for any creative or designer. It really is a playground. The term ‘over the top’ doesn’t really exist here and their live performance is unlike anything else.” The project presented something of a departure for Wieder, who usually works in the realms of major TV events such as the Eurovision Song Contest. “Rock ’n’ roll touring has not really been Florian’s territory,” stated Greil, discussing the collaboration with the production designer. “The fact he is not from this world meant he brought some very different options to the table.”
PRODUCTION ORIGINS Our first stop was with none other than Production Manager Nicolai Sabottka. Having been with the band since the late ’90s, the PM knows in intimate detail the level of planning and technical organisation that goes into managing the madness of a Rammstein show. But despite decades at the wheel, Sabottka stated this tour presented a whole new level for the sixpiece. “The sheer size and logistics for this tour were very different to what we have done in previous years,” he commented. “The goal was to make a big statement – one that said, ‘here we are, stadium size with our new album and the largest show we’ve ever done’. And now that we don’t have a roof, the sky really is the limit.” The PM brought in some fresh faces to the established core crew for the 2019 run. This included suppliers Neg Earth, Solotech, SSE Audio Group, Stageco, WIcreations, QNetic and The Power Shop, along with return
SETTING THE STAGE Before getting into the specifics of the various departments, it’s worth noting the monolithic set that acted as a backdrop for the tour, which took the form of a dystopian tower block all built around a central 36m-high tower – think Lord of The Rings meets 1984 and you’re part of the way there. The stage build was a collaboration between three companies; Stageco, Brilliant Stages and WIcreations. With so many parts to the stage, Sabottka 28
called on the services of Jeremy Lloyd of Wonder Works, who oversaw the technical engineering to ensure the outlandish design was crafted into a reliable touring package. “One of the major challenges in the initial stages of the tour came when the band pulled the plug on some of the original designs,” reminisced Sabottka. “We had several weeks of redesigning and readjusting to ensure it was up and running for when the tour was scheduled to go out. Jeremy from Wonder Works was integral in these changes coordinating all the technical aspects. I don’t know how we would have done it without him.” Discussing the steel backbone of the show was Stageco’s Project Director, Dirk De Decker. “It was always going to be a super-impressive production on a scale that Rammstein had never presented before – and that’s saying something,” he commented. “This was the first time they were going to tour with a dedicated stage at every venue.” Despite venturing into uncharted waters, the Project Director explained that due to the “infrastructure behind Rammstein’s organisation” a solid flow of communication was created. “It all worked like a dream,” he reported. The skeleton of the high tower was made of Stageco’s black steel, which happened to fit in with the rest of the build’s aesthetic. “Although the steel isn’t meant to be a feature of the design, it is incorporated in a way that is complementary,” commented De Decker on the happy coincidence. Stageco also provided two, 23m-high downstage PA towers along with two custom-designed transparent band roofs – each supported on four columns that housed cabling for pyro effects. Finally, the staging specialist provided four delay towers, FOH control risers and all the stage decking. “I can’t think of a single element that has not been custom designed for this tour,” concluded De Decker. “This combination had to work at very high speed to reach deadlines, and the experience of this extraordinary team of vendors really paid off.” It’s was this speed that Sabottka commented was one of the biggest logistical hurdles with the tour. “As is commonplace with a tour of this size, you end up leap-frogging your steel system,” he explained. “Ensuring the
steel got to each venue ahead of the production was Peter Smiet, who provided 20 trucks, with an additional 45 of the Trucking Services fleet following suit with the rest of the production.” Overseeing the rest of the set elements for the tour was Head Carpenter Aaron Alfaro. He had worked with Jeremy Lloyd numerous times over the years although, as he explained, never as closely as he had on this project. “In the early stages I went on vendor visits with Jeremy when we were pulling the pieces of this one together,” commented Alfaro. “It’s always the case that what works on CAD is often quite tight when you begin to put together a set. However, we’ve got ourselves to a good place now with this version of the stage set.” The performance stage was created by Brilliant Stages, which provided a rolling house stage, tech bunkers, band riser and drum risers. The company used 150m of black PUFC fabric to ensure the whole system was waterproofed, as the whole production was touring without a roof. The whole main stage was covered in Yorgrip – a specialist high-grip aluminium surface finish that was tough and flameproof, allowing Rammstein to perform their usual pyro-heavy energetic show. The company also created a multi-axis stage lift capable of lifting 500kg that could double-up as a ramp or a straight lift in a single unit. This was built on a separate rolling dolly for ease of transportation and included a separate power pack. “This was an enjoyable project to manage with a band that Brilliant Stages has supported for a number of years,” reflected Alan Carradus, Brilliant Stages Project Manager. “Rammstein always pushes the envelope in terms of effects, whilst keeping the ‘feel’ that their fans love. Onwards to the next tour in 2020.” The final engineering arm of this gargantuan stage was Belgium’s WIcreations, which provided several custom staging and automation elements – all of which were coordinated by the company’s Koen Peeters and Hans Willems. Due to the magnitude of the project, the company opted to integrate its new WImotion system, which gave precise control and 30
SIL3+ controllers. These multipurpose WImotion controllers guaranteed a SIL3 safety level. At the heart of this machinery system was the WImotion controller, which dealt with the individual and group synchronisation of all the moving chain hoists. Using the all-new WI-Desk with touchscreen-enabled user interface and running WI’s proprietary MCA control software, the operator could ‘joystick’ the hoists into position. MCA also allowed for the easy setup of group halt options, enabling a ‘position lock’ for all motors in a group and to set the maximum group and individual channel loads. Lastly, on the physical set was ShowTex, which oversaw the impressive Kabuki drop that took place early on in the show, with red banners with the band logo descending from the top of the set. In total, six 3m-wide and four 1.5m-wide banners were deployed – all of which dropped to a length of 9m. “We used polyestergauze as a bag because it would not hold any water in case of bad weather,” explained ShowTex’s Bo Bettens. “The fabric used is Cyclo 300 CS Print because of the weight and it’s IFR (Inherently Flame Retardant) quality.” More than necessary when you’re talking about a Rammstein show. LIGHTING Turning the conversation back to Greil, the LD talked about the lighting rig deployed. “One of the first things that was of vital importance was that the rig had a lot of firepower,” asserted Greil, as he began to list the various fixtures on his rig. “It was also important to choose fixtures that didn’t look too ‘pop’ and were able to fit into the industrial-steampunk aesthetic.” Greil was keen to emphasise the benefit of WBD’s team working closely with Set Designer, Florian Wieder. “As we designed the stage together, we were able to integrate good lighting positions that worked with the set rather than having to find positions awkwardly in a pre-designed set. Therefore, we designed various lighting elements to be integrated into the set design, which could be used on their own to create incredible scenes or
synchronisation of individual and group moving chain hoists, utilising SIL3 group position monitoring. The centrepiece of the tower was a 5m by 9m LED video screen that had the ability to track up and down the structure. With the screen being very much open to the elements, it had to be wind-braced and guided along a set of vertical rails to allow an in-use wind loading of 15m per second. This was not the only piece of automation that was seen on the tower, with WIcreations also providing a scenic lift platform that raised all six members of the band 26m above the stage during the explosive firework finale. A total of 10 1,250kg SIL3 WImotion hoists were used to move the video screen and band platform. The WI-hoists were controlled by WI-VSD-
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combined with other elements for the later parts of the show, making even bigger and more impactful looks.” The band also played its part in influencing which fixtures were selected for the tour. “They’ve always enjoyed the look of big search lights,” revealed Greil. “With this in mind, we selected the AO Lighting FALCON xenon searchlights that were placed in several locations across the stage.” Along with these powerful search lights, Greil also opted for Vari-Lite VL6000s to give some variety to the “beam-looks” the band wanted. In line with the spotlight theme, Wieder designed the four gigantic ‘searchlight structures’ measuring 3.5m in diameter and filled with Claypaky K25s. “I’ve been really impressed with the K25s,” he stated. “They are really bright and fulfilled the technical needs for the look. We used 32 of the fixtures for each circular light fitting – I used 128 in total.” The downstage towers also served a different purpose, housing verticals on the inside which held Greil’s main workhorse fixture for lighting the band – the Claypaky Scenius Unicos – in tandem with the Follow-Me system. Collectively, six Follow-Me controllers were arranged backstage to track all six musicians. “Key lighting comes mainly from the side light, although we combine some with automated Robe BMFL LT FOH spots, which are controlled by the Follow-Me system as well, to create varied looks,” stated Greil. “What was also interesting with our Follow-Me set up was that we could calibrate 44 of the 56 Robe BMFL fixtures to the system, so it was possible to take all those lights and have them follow a particular member of the band. The fact that the system can control more than just a few spots fixtures is the real beauty and benefit of Follow-Me.” Upstage 14 Ayrton WildSun S25s were the main fixture to light the 38m tower, acting more as architectural lighting than a traditional show fixture. “The rig was designed to have a lot of LED fixtures for architectural lighting,” continued Greil. “As well as the WildSuns, we also opted for SGM P-10s – 69 in total – which help to show of how large the staging structure was.” Another key element in the designer’s arsenal were three Hungaro T-Light
Strobes. “It was always necessary to have a few big-ass strobes,” chuckled Greil, while commenting on the power of the Hungaros. “No LED fixture on the market can match its firepower.” Although the industrial-steampunk look was one of the predominant themes within Greil’s design, the LD also explained that there was another look the band were keen to explore. Around the halfway point of the show, the band departed from its back catalogue, with guitarist Richard Kruspe treating the audience to a DJ intermission while the rest of the group donned LED black outfits for a Tron-inspirited dance routine. You can’t say these guys are not entertaining. To transform the imposing architecture of the stage, the set had been covered with LED tape – which was supplied by Brilliant Stages – creating a neat outline for the section of the show. “To push this idea even more, we wanted to add another layer of lighting,” stated Greil. “We ended up going for the Chroma-Q Color Force IIs, which we integrated into the claddings of the set.” Neg Earth Lights supplied the tour with 86 Color Force II 72s and 18 Color Force II 48s LED battens, as well as 28 Color One 100/100X LED PARs. “As the show gets bigger and more energetic through the set, the Color Force IIs deliver strong, powerful looks on their own during some songs, as well as forming part of big overall stage looks,” commented Greil. Other noteworthy fixtures on the lighting rider were 44 GLP impression X4 Bar 20s, eight X4 Bar 10s and six X4Ls, along with a mammoth 262 TMB Solaris Flare Q+s. With the design created, Greil passed on the show to FOH double act, Lighting Director Faren Matern and Lighting Programmer and Operator, Marc Brunkhardt. While Brunkhardt was relatively new to the Rammstein camp, Matern was one of the longest serving crew for the German band, having worked with them since day one. “He was a valued asset while bringing this show together,” enthused Greil, commenting that there are few people in the world who know this band better. Greil also points out, that it has been an absolute pleasure 32
to collaborate with the band and their management. “They have been involved into the whole process from day one, which formed the perfect breeding ground to create something special,” he commented. Throughout the tour, the two operators split duties, with Brunkhardt overseeing the show cues and Matern controlling key lighting along with audience lights. “Together with Marc, we made the decision to specify a proven workhorse in the form of an MA Lighting grandMA2 system due to its reliability, performance and all our previous positive experiences with this console,” commented Greil. At FOH there were four grandMA2 full-size consoles (two main and two backup) with an additional grandMA2 light for stage tech. In total there were 15 MA NPUs and seven MA 8Port Nodes. When TPi first stepped into FOH to meet Brunkhardt, it was hard not to notice his unique set-up, which not only incorporated a grandMA2 but also a selection of piano peddles at his feet and a bass vibration plate. “The pedals were a later addition when we got this show on the road,” commented Brunkhardt. “We have a selection of songs where we utilise timecode, but during the run the band opted to remove it and the click. This gave me a problem as I really needed an additional ‘go’ button to keep the cues coming, so I’ve now got these three pedals. One is the master go for the main cue list, the second is to go to the next page, then the final one is to control the fog.” Although this was the first time he had created a control system like this, the LD commented he would be interested in deploying it again. Four limbs are better than two, I guess. As for the bass plate, it all comes down to feel. “I was on a tour a while ago when there was a spare plate kicking about, which I borrowed. It just gives you a better feel so you can lock in with the band,” he explained. This also went for his decisions to use IEMs during the show. Brunkhardt walked through the progression of the show throughout the night. “Like you might expect, we are always trying to build the show up to the end,” he said. “For example, we don’t bring the Falcons in properly until
the last third of the show for the song Sonne. That’s also the song where the flames really get used to their full capacity – it gets hot, I can tell you!” Lighting vendor, Neg Earth Lights, supplied 24 Luminex GigaCore switches, nearly 70 Luminex ethernet nodes and more than 60 Luminex DMX splitters to meet the huge data requirements of the lighting system. Neg Earth’s Sam Ridgway commented: “On a network of this size, with this number of universes and parameters, we would only have felt confident using Luminex GigaCore switches.” The lighting network used a fibre backbone to link a series of GigaCore 16XT switch racks, with smaller localised satellite racks connected over standard ethernet cable. Ridgway added: “Over the last few years we have taken the decision to only stock Luminex switches, as in our opinion they offer the greatest stability and flexibility. They’re also really robust.” He continued: “Being able to interrogate the whole network system from a single location makes seeing what’s going on and any fault-finding extremely easy.” Brunkhardt was full of complements for the tour’s lighting supplier: “We’ve got many of the usual suspects from Neg Earth’s rock ’n’ roll contingent,” he said, complementing both the calibre and work ethic of the lighting crew on the tour. “I’m blessed to have Dave Ridgeway with us on this one as Project Manager. He and his team have done a great job – their years of knowledge putting on shows of this scale has been incredibly useful. There are not too many companies out there that can produce this level of show.” Brunkhardt was also quick to complement Nick Barton, Lighting Crew Chief, who he dubbed “one of the best for this style of show”. VIDEO Considering the size of the production, there was a surprising lack of video on display – a factor that was very much part of Greil’s design. “Personally, I find that video often creates more of a ‘pop’ look, which can be right for some artists but not for Rammstein,” he commented. However, due to the 33
size of these shows, there was no way to completely omit video for the design. The decision was made to only have one automated portrait screen attached to the central tower. “The screen is very much integrated into the set, which made things a little more interesting as well as giving us more room to play with,” Greil stated. “Essentially, we did all we could to make every bit of content fit in with the rest of the show. This approach to video was something that very much came from the top; with the band taking special interest in the video elements of the show, it was that much more impactful when it was used. The screen itself came courtesy of Solotech, offering its own proprietary product: a Saco 9mm. To aid with integrating the screen, all the blackout plates were taken off the back, creating a semi-transparent surface. Streaming the content to the screen were disguise gx 2s running the selection of Notch effects, which were programmed by Tim Hornung. “Our main goal was to match the colour world of each song with the live camera feeds perfectly,” commented Hornung. “Notch’s Colour Correction and Colour Grading nodes were essential in creating a consistent look between the lighting design and the video. We also used distortion and noise nodes to achieve a rough-looking effect to fit with the overall stage design of the concert. Using the disguise gx 2, I could mask around the IMAG to affect every image in real-time.” The camera package consisted of two long lens cameras at FOH along with one in the pit – “the bravest position in the show,” chuckled Greil, in reference to sheer amount of pyrotechnics taking place. On the stage there were also a selection of robo cameras to get a few select close-up shots, including images of Christian ‘Flake’ Lorenz and bass player, Oliver Riedel. Additionally, set up behind drummer Christoph Schneider was a Waterbird camera system. The rig consisted of a Waterbird Multi Slider XL System 3m with XL Control Unit and HMI Controller with foot pedals. Camera Director for the tour was Sven Offen with live visuals being created by Haeger De and David Gesellbauer. To close out the video
conversation, Greil was keen to complement the work of the tour’s video supplier, Solotech. “They are a really great company. We [Woodroffe Bassett Design] have worked with them before – most notably with our work with the Rolling Stones. I really like their kit, especially their custom touring frames that work really well and handle the demands of life on the road.” PYRO Taking up the conversation of special effects, TPi turned back to PM, Nicolai Sabottka. For a number of years, Sabottka has juggled the responsibility of the production office while also being the Managing Director of special effects company ffp. In fact, the origin of the company was very much born from within the Rammstein touring party. “It feels natural to hold both positions,” began the PM, musing his dual role. “I do not think we would have been as efficient as we are without this shortcut. I started as their PM, but since pyro is such an important part of their show, it almost automatically had me move into that world to the point where it has now become my other day job.” Sabottka also commented that the variety of his job role actually led to a safer stage show. “The production role is all about routine, whereas in pyrotechnics, routine is something you want to avoid at all costs, as it can give you a false sense of security.” Despite the band playing numerous open-air venues, Rammstein’s first venture into stadiums, and working with a roofless design, meant the doors were open to attempt some even more dramatic effects. “The roofless set presented somewhat of a challenge,” admitted the PM. “I had nightmares that everything would not be proportional with the effects we had originally planned.” To put his mind at ease, Sabottka and the ffp team decided to begin manufacturing larger systems. “It wasn’t until our first rehearsal day in Gelsenkirchen that I knew we succeeded,” he commented. And larger systems meant more legwork getting all elements signed off by local authorities. “I remember early on in the tour I had climbed up on 34
the catwalk, just above one of the delay towers, which had four large flames on, to prove to the authorities that it would not cause any damage to the roof. I came down in good health and even better spirits.” Aiding Sabottka in the pyro-endeavours was Marcin Okupnik, who has been Crew Chief for the band for a number of years. Also working in the department was Daniel Hoffmann, who leads the company’s R&D team and had the responsibility of producing many of the effects seen throughout the show. Finally, there was Alexander Hammel, who co-designed and programmed the show and shoots every night. Sabottka was keen to praise the entire crew. “As great as all of them are, it would all be worthless without the rest of our team: Martin Hoop, Christoph Buschor, Christoph von Fintel, Franziska Robitsch, Annie-Claude Pietrera, Terrence Lumadue, Robert Ligiewitz, Sebastian Huss and Bryan Novelo,” he commented. Controlling each one of the shows was a Galaxis Advance system with an MA Lighting dot2. “It’s an incredibly well-rehearsed show,” assured Sabottka. “We don’t leave anything to chance. When we have a body effects that the shooter operates live on stage, we leave it to him or her to fine-tune the equipment, as when it comes to flaming backpacks and guitars, there is a need to give final assessment due to weather conditions and performers behaviour that day.” AUDIO There are many reasons why some bands might be apprehensive to jump from arenas to stadiums – one of which can be the fear that the audio mix you have honed over the decades may not be replicated on the large stage. TPi met up with Audio Crew Boss, Nick Pain, to discuss the impressive array of backboxes hung among the imposing set. “This show was very interesting from the get-go, as the band raised concerns about the sound not translating well in stadiums,” began Pain. “This meant that they and management wanted to include the audio team from the very beginning of the design period so that we were able to have enough hangs and space to provide the equipment to do the job properly. That isn’t always the case with this scale of show, which can often result
in some sort of compromise.” The rig that was hung was certainly sizable but, more importantly, it was exactly what was needed for long-time FOH Engineer, Olsen Involtini to recreate the sound that he and the band had honed over a number of years. “Olsen mixes with a very full range, which is very demanding on a PA,” explained Pain. “The one thing we discussed early on was ensuring that we had a speaker count that was able to replicate this range rather than a system that we would run ragged every night. The speaker count gave us enough headroom so as not to put the system under stress.” The system consisted of two main hangs of 18 L-Acoustics K1s and four K2s, with a side hang configuration of 20 K1s and four K2s. Twenty K1 subs were flown alongside the main PA hangs with a further 68 KS28s on the floor. In fill consisted of 16 Karas with 16 ARC IIs for front fills. The delay configuration varied depending on venue, but at times went up to four arrays of 18 K1s and two K2s. The entire system was powered with LA12Xs, with four Triple 27u racks for main PA and subs, four double 27u racks for the ground delays and eight single 18u racks for ring delay. “I know these guys have been using L-Acoustics for some time,” stated Pain. “It was a natural progression for them to stay with the brand moving into this bigger space.” Suppling this mammoth rig was SSE Audio Group. The tour represented quite a milestone for the UK audio specialist, as this was the biggest stadium project it had ever handled. SSE Audio’s Operations Manager, Stefan Phillips, talked TPi through some of the technical challenges. “Pretty much everything that went out on this tour was new, designed, developed and built in house,” he began. “From winning the job to loading out, we’ve added 96 K1s, 140 K2s, 56 KS28s and 156 LA12Xs to our inventory. What everyone manged to do in such a short timeframe was impressive and a real testament to all SSE staff involved.” It’s also worth noting that while all this was going on, the team at SSE was designing a fully working L-ISA system for Mark Knopfler’s world tour – and Hugh Jackman had just started his world tour, too, creating a rather busy couple of weeks for the in-house team. Not only was this a busy time for SSE in terms of workload, but it also presented a sea change in terms of audio packages provided – particularly 36
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with the incorporation of AVB. “This, at the time, was one of the biggest AVB networks ever put out on the road,” explained Phillips. It was a collaboration that saw SSE work closely with both Luminex and L-Acoustics to ensure the system worked correctly. Luminex GigaCore switches provided the network backbone for the extensive system, with 17 GigaCore 26i switches used to create a compliant infrastructure to support the huge audio system. Assistant Technical Manager, Keith Sujeeun, from SSE’s Hire division, commented: “The Luminex GigaCore switches gave us the ability to offer an AVB-compliant infrastructure, and really proved themselves in an L-Acoustics system on an earlier tour.” SSE’s standard concert tour systems usually consist of three network switches – one at FOH, one stage left and one stage right – so the Rammstein tour was both exceptional and ambitious in scale. “Rammstein’s Luminex system was capable of delivering AVB around an entire stadium, whilst being modular, to create a bigger network or break down into smaller systems,” Sujeeun added. He concluded: “Our technical team was impressed with how incredibly easy the switches are to use and configure. This is handy for people who aren’t very familiar with IT. They are also solidly made, which really matters when they’re being transported from country to country during a tour.” Pain also commented on the new distribution system. “It’s been an interesting change and we had help from both L-Acoustics and Luminex to get the system up and running,” he said. “Right now, it’s rock solid.” For FOH control, SSE provided two Avid S6Ls – a main and a backup. Both desks ran independent Waves engines. “Technically, we could have midi-linked both desks,” stated Pain. However, Involtini was keen to keep both desks segregated, with his FOH Tech mirroring any changes he made during the show as well as handling any issue that might need to be addressed throughout the performance.
The under-stage wedges posed an interesting challenge for the audio team. “The stage is open to the elements,” commented Pain, who discussed the day-to-day maintenance of the wedge setup. “The X15s are pointing almost upwards, which means the horns are essentially acting as buckets to anything that lands on them. Thankfully, we’ve had decent weather through most of this run. But Till is known to throw water on the stage, which we had to consider. We also had some pyro effects that used Lycopodium. When it burns it turns into a really fine powder that settles everywhere and is able to go through the mesh of the wedges.” The solution to these issues was a well-organised maintenance system and regular cleaning of the boxes. For IEMs, the audio department opted for Shure PSM1000s, matching the main wireless microphone with an AD4D wireless system with an 83 capsule. Those who know Rammstein will be more than familiar with Till’s unique microphones, which are often encased in either a steel pipe or other more provocative objects – I’ll let you Google that one. “This did create an interesting problem,” laughed Becker, who showed how the signal was lost as soon as the capsule was encased in the metal pipe. “The solution we came up with was to essentially cut a discreet hole in the pipe to allow wireless transmission.” Becker continued to discuss his day-to-day procedure. “I look after the whole band bar Richard [lead guitarist], who has his own dedicated Monitor Engineer – also using an Avid S6L.” Becker continued to discuss the benefits of the S6L setup. “In the past I’ve used other brands for Rammstein, but we decided to start from scratch and thought it would be better to keep the brands consistent between FOH and monitors. We’ve got all the desks in one loop and its sounds great.” As the band climbed aboard the stage lift which raised the six musicians high above their adoring fans in Vienna, Rammstein’s 2019 stadium run drew to a close. Both within the industry and outside it, it had certainly been one of the more talked-about productions of the year. But for those of you wishing you had caught this stadium spectacular, fear not, as the band and their loyal crew are due to head out once again in May 2020. TPi Photo: Manfred H. Vogel www.rammstein.de www.woodroffebassett.com www.negearth.com www.solotech.com www.sseaudiogroup.com www.stageco.com www.wicreations.com www.brilliantstages.com www.thepowershop.eu www.ffp-fx.net www.wonder.co.uk www.showtex.com www.truckingservice.de
MONITORS Moving the conversation onto onstage sound, TPi caught up with Monitor Engineer, Alex Becker, in his stage left bunker. From behind his Avid S6L, he discussed some of the highlights of the monitor package. The band opted for a dual offering of both onstage wedges and side fills, along with an IEM package. “Only Oliver [bassist] and Flake [keyboarder] were on IEMS for a long time, with the rest of the band opting for wedges, but slowly the rest of the guys have also moved onto in-ear – apart from our singer, Till. As Till is the only one who needs on-stage sound, it means I can just flood the stage with sound.” Becker had quite the extensive floor monitor package, which was housed under the grilled stage floor. In total there were 26 X15s under the stage. The engineer also had a left and right hang configuration of six K2s flown per side. “It’s the first time I’ve used the K2s as side fills,” stated Becker, acknowledging that using a box for this purpose was slightly out of the norm. “I’m really just using the low frequency from the top two cabinets and muting the highs and mids, which gives the ‘feel’ on stage for the guys.” 38
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TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB: FALSE ALARM TOUR After a spell away from the stage, the Northern Irish group return to the touring landscape. TPi’s Jacob Waite lifts the lid on the production values befitting the band’s back catalogue...
TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB
Two Door Cinema Club ascended from the indie ether in 2010 with their platinum-selling debut LP Tourist History. In the six years that followed, the Northern Irish band toured the world, headlined festivals and frontman Alex Trimble sang as part of Danny Boyle’s 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony. After dropping Beacon in 2012 and Gameshow in 2016 – both albums charting in the Official UK Albums Chart top five, the band took a well-deserved studio hiatus in 2016. Now returning to the stage with the release of their highly anticipated fourth album and tour, False Alarm, the three-piece have upped the ante, with bigger and better production values than ever before.
and lighting, I listen to the engineers, before deciding on which vendors to bring, as they are the ones who have to make it work. For this run all the supply companies have offered an excellent service.” On the subject of demand, Brongers explained that while budget is always an issue, thanks to his mutual, longstanding relationships with the suppliers, he was given fair prices. “Personally, I prefer more stability throughout the year, rather than a company whose prices may fluctuate depending on stock. In my experience with longstanding relationships comes loyalty and trust, something that means an awful lot, especially in hours of need.” Having skipped production rehearsals and jumped straight into Motorpoint Arena Cardiff, Brongers said the team was ready an hour before soundcheck. “The crew have excelled themselves to deal with the demands,” he commented.
PRODUCTION Having worked with the band during their previous album cycle in 2016 - 2017, Tour and Production Manager, Bennie Brongers returned to TDCC crew roster this year following his stint with alt-J. Ahead of the band’s landmark arena show in London’s O2 Arena, Brongers shared: “We have a core group so it’s a bit of a family affair.” The PM outlined two people specifically, who he dubbed his “left and right hand” on this tour, Gloria Marce and Jason Fearnley – both of whom have toured with Brongers for six years. “Gloria tends to handle all things backstage on the day, such as travel related paperwork, final advancing for travel and more,” stated Brongers. “Jason deals with all things on and around the stage like backline, carnets, and working on the practicality of the design elements.” Equally as loyal were his suppliers of choice: Lights Control Rigging (LCR), Britannia Row Productions, Colonel Tom Touring, Brilliant, Popcorn Catering, Stardes and Beat The Street. Brongers retraced his history with suppliers. “Although I may have my personal preferences, as far as audio
VISUALS A stalwart of TDCC’s production design and creative direction, Chris ‘Squib’ Swain has worked with the band for nine years, the last three alongside Dan Hill under the banner of Cassius Creative. In keeping with the show’s bold and clean aesthetic, more video was used than on previous tours. “With the backbone of the show being the three-side panoramic video surface – then supported by simple lighting – we’re able to maintain a clean, contemporary feel to the live show,” the design team explained. “It can have a variety of dynamic looks, yet also be scaleable as required around the world.” After consulting the band and developing a mood board, Cassius Creative was clear on how the live show should look feel. “The idea was to 44
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TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB
Lighting and Video Crew Boss, Harrison Cooke; Stage Technician, Jacopo Fois; Stage Manager, Jason Fearnley. Monitor Engineer, Steve Donovon, FOH Engineer, Ian Laughton & Systems Technician, Cesar Lopez; Tour and Production Manager, Bennie Brongers.
create a simple yet impactful looking show that varies dynamically, from feeling very heightened and intense to, moments of bold simplicity. We aimed to incorporate the band’s new album themes and the style of the new artwork into the live show.” It was here that the versatility of the set design and different lighting strategies created very different visuals. “The idea was to create a recognisable identity for TDCC,” the duo informed TPi. “Regardless of the direction lighting and video takes, at its core, there is a sleek and recognisable look to the stage, with the riser layout that frames the band and provides a tiered environment for them to perform in.” Five red beacon ‘siren’ lights were used, both as a practical light source in keeping with the False Alarm theme, but also as a structural scenic element, looming above the band as a finishing touch to the otherwise minimal set. The creatives outlined: “We purposefully kept the lighting rig very simple, using blocks of colour and shapes. We kept the programming structural and rhythmic, avoiding wiggly beam looks or delicate gobo lighting effects in favour of bold punches and beat-driven intensity or colour effects.” Cassius Creative worked closely with Adam Young at Fray Studios, who created the video content, to assure visual cohesiveness. With the video taking such a prominent position on stage in relation to the band, “it was important that nothing was overreaching or distracting,” Young said. “Video content needed to act nicely as a framing device for the band and drive the energy of the music forward visually.” For the new campaign content, the creatives drew inspiration from the album artwork, which featured everyday objects presented in a new way.
“For all of these looks, we kept the colour palette primary and minimal, limiting each element to two colours. We also ensured that all of the objects were instantly recognisable – this level of simplicity allowed us to choreograph their movements and create some big clean looks for each song,” Young explained. For a selection of songs, Fray Studios created the video content from scratch using a combination of After Effects and C4D. “C4D, along with an offsite render farm, gave us flexibility when it came to shape, pattern and rhythm,” Young continued. “We built all of the 3D elements like the megaphones and clocks and ensured they were all rigged correctly to allow us to do what we needed to do. Once we made it to rehearsals, the set-up and workflow meant that we were able to change things meaningfully and quickly on site according to the content on the LED screen.” He summed up his experience: “Two Door have a huge back catalogue. It was a lot of fun creating things for new unheard material as well as older classics.” Lighting the way on the road was Director and Operator, Liam Ashton. “More songs and content have been added since I joined the timecoded show, so I’ve been responsible for the day-to-day programming and upkeep,” he commented. A rotating setlist depended on the band’s input, playing out every variation possible for the eventual O2 Arena, London setlist. “It’s a really easy camp to come into as long as you’re professional and pulling your weight. For me, it’s a different role because I’m usually on the operational and technical side, rather than operating a console.” For control, Ashton utilised an MA Lighting grandMA2 light console, 46
TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB
Dimmer Technician Ben Eastham; Camera Director Charles Woods. Video Programmer Joe Lott; Creative Director, Chris ‘Squib’ Swain & Lighting Director and Operator, Liam Ashton.
opting for full sizes in the United States due to the availability of vendors. “The grandMA2 is my console of choice,” he said. “I was very lucky that it was one of the very first consoles I learnt on.” The main touring lighting comprised a linear row of 49 GLP JDC1s below the video screen, with eight TMB Solaris Flares used for bright, coloured side light – as well as 14 GLP JDC1s set behind the screen, for a glow behind and around it to help blend lighting and video. A further 12 SGM P-10s were specified for uplighting the back cyclorama and providing enough brightness to hold its own against the panoramic LED screen, which it helped frame. Ashton described the design as “flashy and big”. He commented: “Lighting is driven by the energy of the band on stage,” although there was a lot of colour in the front wash and side light, there are also points where it is quite dark and silhouetted. “Most importantly, it’s about the band.” The flown rig used two linear rows of 45 GLP JDC1s and 52 Robe Spiiders for a bright ceiling of wash light. Single Claypaky Unico spots were placed above each band member, with the band key’d from the front – with each member in a pair of Robe BMFLs were fitted with long through lenses, to keep them lit well wherever they roamed. For the song Satellite, Cassius Creative used a 3D animated clock face. One of the busier, more energetic lighting looks, it used striking blocks of blue and yellow, adding energy from the white strobe cells of the GLP JDC1s. The creatives worked closely with Mike Oates at LCR on many projects, and having looked after the last TDCC campaign in 2016, the design team praised the supplier – along with Colonel Tom Touring, which was brought in to supply an extensive video and an camera package for the O2 Arena,
London date – for “providing a great service” over the years. Lighting and Video Crew Boss, Harrison Cooke, commented: “The band definitely have an aesthetic and they’re involved with every step of that process, so it’s been great to help facilitate their vision.” Cassius Creative also worked closely with Brongers and Fearnley to deploy a set of bespoke dollies in the UK and US, allowing the crew to tour its usual panoramic video screen into many venues and roll on at festivals. “It allows us to push what would often not be possible, but the design can work with off-the-shelf elements around the world for an almost identical looking live show,” the designers noted. A video screen made up of ROE Visual CB5s with Brompton processing enclosed the band to illustrate their importance as the focal point of the show, while the media was driven via Green Hippo servers. At its core, the arena design was a scaled-up version of the show, with an embellished screen layout to accommodate IMAG and cameras in a cohesive way; but the aesthetic, content and feel of the overall show remained the same. The lighting crew comprised Lighting Rigger, Paul Burke; Dimmer Technician, Ben Eastham; Lighting Technicians, Aidan Cartmell, Gaz Horridge and Chris Wynn. While the video crew was made up of Video Engineer, Phil Mead and Stuart Heaney; Lead LED Screen Technician, Tony Whitehead; LED Screen Technicians, Chris Clarke and William Whitehead, Media Server Programmer Joe Lott and Camera Director Charles Woods. Cooke concluded: “It’s rare you come into a camp where everybody is a core team, works seamlessly and integrates well. It’s not decompartmentalised – it’s a nice environment to work in.” 47
TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB
AUDIO “I’ve worked with many bands, but these guys are beautiful human beings to hang out with – and what’s more, they’re very talented,” opened FOH Engineer, Ian Laughton, who has been with the band for four years. “This time, we’re certainly kicking it up a notch in terms of production design.” In reference to frontman Trimble’s penchant for putting down his guitar and parading the stage, mic in hand, Laughton quipped: “It’s great to work with a band that are comfortable on stage.” Laughton mixed on a Midas PRO2 console. “I’m kind of an old-school mixer,” he revealed. “I have scenes for all the songs but not that much changes. It’s definitely a hands-on approach because every room is different.” The main speaker arrays of the extensive L-Acoustics PA system included two main hangs of K1, two main underhangs of K2 enclosures, KS28 subs stacked aside and additional Karas as front fills, all processed by L-Acoustics LA-RAK IIs and LA12Xs. “It’s like mixing a rock band live,” he commented. “If you listen to the album, it’s different – it has more of a pop feel.” Highlights of Lawton’s outboard equipment included a TC M6000 Multichannel-FX Processor with I-CON Remote “to give it that punchy analogue sound”, an Avalon VT-737SP Preamp, Massenburg GML 89000 Compressor, Lake Processing LM44 and a Klark Teknik DN9650 digital network bridge. “I’ve had this rack for nine years,” he enthused. “Brit Row purchased the GML especially for me, and they’re quite pricey, vintage pieces of gear. Although they’ve started remaking them at a lower price, the originals are something else. It’s adds a sheen to my mix.” Laughton also waxed lyrical about a new addition to his FOH setup. “We have just been given a Universal Audio Live Rack, which we’re testing on the road. At some point, we’ll have to make the inevitable jump to the digital side. In the likes of Japan, you sometimes can’t get your hands on a GML or
Avalon, so the Universal Audio Live Rack is ideal.” Joining Laughton was Steve Donovan, though typically stationed in the caverns of monitor world. “It’s a smaller crew than what people might consider ‘normal’, but as we try hard not to departmentalise, it works really well,” he told TPi. “We also know that production have our back and will do whatever is within their means to get the equipment we need to do our part of the show properly. We don’t carry consoles when we fly in and out of remote places, for example, but, all will be done to make sure we get the right kit provided locally, even when this means an additional cost. And that’s reassuring for us as crew, who have to make it all work.” Like FOH, the monitors are mixed with the Midas touch, a PRO2C DL431 mic split with the duel pre-amp which, according to Donovan, “sounds wicked”. With 56 channels and three DL442 analogue output cards, Donovan described the mixing consoles as “almost maxed out on both ends”. He laughed: “I’ve got two local channels – if we had another keyboard we’d be in trouble and there are zero outputs left!” Sennheiser 2000 Series IEM’s are his number one choice. “We freight around our own in-ears, so we don’t need to rent,” he said. “On top of the usual independent band and tech mixes, I also have a guest mix, which is in there providing someone turns up at one of the dates.” On stage, a large portion of the mics were Sennheiser, with additional mics from Shure. “Alex is the only person on stage with a guitar amp,” Donovan shared. “The rest are on Kempers.” Britannia Row Productions deployed a further three crewmembers: Stage Technician, Jacopo Fois and System Technicians, Cezar Lopez and Giacomo Gasparini – two of which hailed from the famed Britannia Row Training scheme. Laughton had nothing but praise for the audio vendor: “I’ve been using Brit Row for a long time, and now their partnership with Clair Global is fantastic. We can walk into any region and find Brit Row gear.” 48
TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB
Popcorn Catering’s Danielle Scoggins, Em Franklin & Tom Grierson; The Robe RobeSpots in action; FOH Engineer, Ian Laughton; Lighting Director and Operator, Liam Ashton.
LOGISTICS While Brongers handled the advanced production, Stage Manager, Jason Fearnley, a self-confessed “utility man”, was in charge on and around the stage on the day. Fearnley also held the title of drum tech along with helping out with lighting, video and set elements where required. “I’m basically a fixer,” he joked. “If nobody else is doing it, it’s usually my job.” As the drums evolved and became electric as opposed to primarily acoustic, the stage managing took over as the band got bigger. “We’ve ended up with a lot more set, so I’ve been handling that, keeping it a nice size of production.” Between two to three trucks were specified for the smaller tour dates, while the O2 Arena, London date, saw the addition of four extra trucks – one for PA, and three with lights and video. Fearnley worked closely with Stardes Lead Driver Becky Swan to ensure that the kit got from A to B and the load in and out was as smooth as possible. “Becky is amazing and proper team member,” he said. Fearnley also oversaw the deployment and allocation of the core touring personnel. “It becomes less personal when you’ve got 50 members of crew,” he explained. “We get to tour together and visit places across the world. Hats off to our other two backline techs, Ben Doyle and Paul ‘PJ’ Johnson. They’re two top lads, who are very good at their jobs, and always willing to jump in and help out where required.” Fearnley gave his assessment of the end product: “It’s a very upbeat show with no lull in the set. The set has a dynamic flow, which you have to dance along with, the lighting is fantastic and visually impactful. The L-Acoustics rig also makes it sound incredible.”
Scoggins, tasked with looking after the set up and hospitality for dressing rooms and then overseeing the dinner service. Starting the leg in Cardiff before finishing in Plymouth, the caterers prepared for a fluctuation of management, guests, family and friends at the O2 Arena, London show. “We’ll up the numbers of hospitality and add more room to catering accordingly. We cater for everyone, all dietary requirements and allergens. The band are really lovely and laid back, so it’s been an absolute pleasure to feed them.” CONCLUSION A million miles away from indie rock’s preppier, pop past, False Alarm evokes a sense of shared, mild nervousness that many gig-goers experience currently; lives are lived in a continual stream of notifications, the end-isnigh news headlines and general despondency. While not masquerading as the supposed antidote, TDCC’s latest live offering sees the band tour with increased production values worthy of the band’s vast back catalogue of hits. Laughton said it best: “They’re not trying to conquer the world – they just want to play music to those who want to hear it.” TPi Photos: Joe Okpako www.twodoorcinemaclub.com www.cassiuscreative.co.uk www.lcr-rental.com www.coloneltomtouring.com www.fraystudio.co.uk www.britanniarow.com www.popcorncatering.com www.stardes.uk www.beatthestreet.net
CATERING Ahead of dinner TPi caught up with one of the three catering staff, Danielle 50
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ALICE COOPER: OL’ BLACK EYES IS BACK The godfather of shock rock is back for a European run that incorporates all the horror elements you would expect for Alice Cooper. With beheadings, an 8 ft Frankenstein and dead brides, the seasoned singer certainly does not disappoint his fans from all generations. TPi’s Stew Hume meets the crew behind the macabre madness.
It would be amusing to have a conversation with the various focus groups and organisations who, in the ’60s and ’70s, made Alice Cooper the poster boy for controversy, and let them know that in 2019, he would still be playing in large arenas and reinventing his live horror shows to thousands of fans each night. The longevity of Cooper’s career is truly outstanding, and while watching his latest tour, Ol’ Black Eyes Is Back, it was clear to see that the 71-year-old still carries the charisma from back in the day – much to the delight of the fans, who rolled up to Manchester Arena, sporting Cooper shirts from decades past. With a stage centred around a large castle set piece, the entire show featured all the gags one would expect from the horror singer – and, yes, the guillotine was rolled out once again. Before the singer donned his top hat and hit the stage, TPi met up with the hardworking Cooper crew, who kept the wheels turning. Our first stop was with Production Manager, Cesare Sabatini. Having worked with Cooper since 2003, he has overseen several renditions of the singer’s show. “One of the first things I learned with the Alice tour is that you end up wearing a lot of hats,” began the PM, while sitting in catering having successfully brought the tour over from mainland Europe to the UK. “Every day I’m helping out with some stuff on stage, with all the theatrical elements alongside all the PM responsibilities. But that works for me. I’m certainly not just sitting in the office!” For the UK run, Sabatini brought out a selection of return suppliers, including SSE Audio, Christie Lites, Gallagher Staging, Snakatak, Stagetruck, Phoenix Bussing and Rock-It Cargo. “We’ve used SSE and Christie for all our recent tours in Europe,” stated Sabatini. “We’ve been able to have some of the same crew come out with us, such as Mark [Pantlin], our audio system engineer, which is great.” The PM explained that this familiarity in both suppliers and crew fed into the “family ethos”, integral to the Alice Cooper camp. “We like to keep the nucleus of the tour fairly similar,” he stated. “This goes from the top down, with some of the drivers from Stagetruck and Phoenix Bussing being
repeats from our last run.” But despite the faces backstage being familiar from the last run, the PM explained that this latest tour was a brand new concept. “The castle and all the elements alongside it are brand new,” laid out the PM. “I got involved in April to see the direction the tour was taking and spoke to Shep Gordon – Alice’s long-time manager – to hear what he and Alice were looking to create. I flew to Nashville to see Gallagher Staging and saw what had been created.” The PM then added his “two cents” to ensure that this elaborate castle structure could keep pace with the variety of venues Cooper was due to go through in the upcoming tour. SET Another crewmember who embodied the ‘dual-hat’ nature of the tour, carrying the titles of Head Rigger, Stage Manager, Set Carp and CAD Designer, Kurt Grossen explained the daily demands of the stage build. “Being involved in several departments is actually a benefit in this camp,” stated Grossen, tearing himself away from his laptop and a selection of CAD files, as he planned how to fit the set pieces into the tour’s next few venues. “Cesare and I work on the advanced rigging plots. I do my laser measurements to make sure everything’s going to fit in as planned, then I start chalking the floor and getting all the rigging set up.” From that point onwards, Grossen explained how he flits between stage managing and rigging, orchestrating the various local hands in the various departments. “In terms of local crew, I usually deal with 22 on the load-in and 26 on the load-out,” he stated. AUDIO Tasked with the responsibility of dealing with Cooper’s live mix was audio veteran Greg Price. The co-creator of Diablo Digital and FOH Mixer for the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, Price was one the newest faces to the Alice Cooper camp for the 2019 run. “I took over this tour from another engineer,” explained Price, who was excited at the challenge. “My goal, no matter what 56
PA Tech, Oliver Fallon, System Engineer, Mark Pantlin, Monitor Engineer, Eric Brown, FOH Engineer, Greg Price and Stage Tech, Conor Mullan; Monitor Engineer, Eric Brown; Lighting Director, Scott Warner.
artist I’m working with, is to represent their music and make it better than they ever dreamed it could have sounded. A lot of these bands and artists have written certified rock anthems and, each time I step to the desk, I want these tracks to sound better than ever.” Working alongside Price for the tour was Monitor Engineer, Eric Brown, PA Tech, Oliver Fallon, Stage Tech, Conor Mullan and System Engineer Mark Pantlin, with SSE Audio providing PA and control. “I’ve known all the folks at SSE for a number of years,” stated Price. “They are always wonderful to work with and it was great to have them on this tour.” As an extension of this, the FOH Engineer was quick to praise the work of his righthand man – System Engineer, Pantlin – who was integral in his goal to achieve the best audio possible. He elaborated: “The system and FOH engineer should function as a two-headed monster. The days of one person sitting behind a mixing desk are over, especially in the modern era where we are talking about things such as immersive audio.” Brining Pantlin into the conversation, he talked TPi through his daily ritual of measuring the room. “Virtually everything I do runs via the SoundVision software,” he began. “Everything from system design, to coverage, and even some air compensation is done within the system.” The system in question was an L-Acoustics K1 package – a speaker Price dubbed as the “gold standard”. For the Manchester show, the system consisted of 10 K1s and five K2s per side, with 24 KS28s, six Karas for lip fills and four for out fills. “On my side at the front end we have a Lake Processing LM 44, which then goes into an L-Acoustics P1 Processor, which is then transferred via AVB to the stage,” stated Pantlin. Meanwhile for control, Price utilised the Yamaha RIVAGE PM7. As an early adopter of the Yamaha PM5D back in the day, Price explained that he hadn’t used the brand for some years but had been really impressed with the result. “First of all, I think that the mic preamps are stunning,” he started.
“But what really makes this console interesting is the onboard Rupert Neve facility, especially compared to other brands on the market. You don’t have to plug in another system or download a special package – this all comes factory standard. The fact you can stay within the architecture of the console is ideal, as it cuts down on latency and other issues that can occur when you have to bring extra cables and jacks into the equation.” The engineer went on to explain some of the interesting challenges of mixing a band in the modern age. Although known by many in the industry for producing his own recording system for the live environment – which was also present on his FOH package – Price explained that, these days, you also have to mix with the knowledge that people will often see and hear the show back on footage captured on a mobile phone. “It’s the new format in which engineers’ mixes are judged,” he commented. “It’s the medium of the day and you have to be aware of it.” Although making a mix with his own Diablo Digital system, he commented that the band often used YouTube as a reference to listen back to the show each night. “If you’re aware that it will be recorded by a number of people and you ensure that your mix is balanced correctly, it will sound good on a phone recording. Someone recorded the whole show in Paris and uploaded it to YouTube – I’m pretty happy with the result.” MONITORS Moving to the side of stage, TPi met Monitor Engineer, Eric Brown, who stood behind an Avid Profile, aptly decorated with several pieces of horror memorabilia and even one head of Alice Cooper – guess the boss is always watching. For this run, the Alice Cooper stage setup had changed, with the band switching to Kempers rather than a traditional cabinet setup. “In my short time with the band, it feels as though everyone has embraced them,” chipped in Price. “It’s a bit of a no-brainer, with all the band on IEMs.” It’s a 58
Production Manager, Cesare Sabatini; Head Rigger and Stage Manager, Kurt Grossen.
sentiment that was shared by Brown. “It has created a whole new level of consistency,” he stated. “I worked with the band on the previous tour when we had a traditional cabinet setup for the guitars. We did a week of preproduction when the band got everything dialled in. The tone we have got has just been so consistent, no matter what room we are playing in.” As a Shure-endorsed act, a number of products from the company’s microphone and IEM line were featured throughout the stage. For IEMs, the band used Shure PSM 900s with P10R bodypacks. “The best thing about the P10Rs has been the dual diversity,” stated the engineer. “It gives that bit more coverage, which is great, as the band tend to move around the stage quite a lot. But even when they stand on the subs, the coverage has still been great.” For IEM moulds, the majority of the
band and crew were on Jerry Harvey – either Roxannes or JH7s. The only exception was guitarist Nita Straus, who is a “die-hard” Ultimate Ears user. Along with all the IEM mixes, Brown also had a separate side fill mix. “Even though everyone is on in-ears, we kept the side fills as a bit of a safe guard,” commented the engineer. “If there are any RF issues, they can take out their in-ears and still have a workable mix on stage. “Alice never really asks for a full production mix, but he wants to hear a little bit of everything,” continued Brown, while discussing the requests from the main man. “I do everything live for my mix – there are a lot of elements where I’m reacting to certain things on stage.” One of the main things Brown had to keep an eye on was the band’s tendency to switch microphone positions. “Thankfully it’s all loosely choreographed now,”
chuckled Brown, as he reminisced about a time in rehearsals when the band played School’s Out, and it was a free-for-all on mic positions. “Needless to say, it wasn’t the simplest task.” Brown spoke of his decision to work with the Avid Profile. “I considered moving onto a Yamaha along with Greg. However, at this time I decided to stick with the Profile for ease and comfort. There might be some changes down the line but, for right now, it’s working really well.” To close, the Monitor Engineer commented on the collaboration with audio supplier SSE Audio. “This is my first time working with them and it has been great,” he commented. “Conor and Olly, our tech, have been absolutely fantastic. It’s been a very pleasant experience. It’s also great to get one of their custom rack plates!”
I picked up the show in America, the set and most of the fixtures were already in place. I then began programming a lot of the show.” All of Warner’s looks were given the final green light by Alice Cooper’s manager, Shep Gordon. “I’d been a fan for such a long time and was already familiar with Shep’s name,” stated the LD. “I remember as a kid seeing his name on the album sleeves and figuring ‘this guy is a big deal’. I did a lot of research before I started designing this show and I knew that he likes big Parcan looks with limited movement. I kept that in mind with the design, which he seemed to enjoy. We’ve got the show fairly locked in at this stage.” Although the look of the show has remained constant between the US and European runs, some of the fixtures were swapped when Christie Lites was brought into the picture. Some of the main changes have been on the backdrop, where Warner deployed a selection of Chroma-Q Color Forces to illuminate the rear of the stage. Another alteration was the GLP JDC – a fixture Warner is particularly fond of. Also on the rig were collection of Martin by Harman MAC Vipers. “We have a selection of them on our front truss, which take care of our gobo looks,” Warner noted. “The optics on the Vipers are really good and the hope is to keep them for the American tour.” A collection of Martin By Harman MAC Auras were also utilised. The final addition to the LD’s fixture list was the Robe Cyclones – a fixture Warner had a hand in developing. “They’re a fantastic little unit,” professed Warner, clearly happy to have the Cyclone on his rider package. The fixture, which incorporates an LED ring along with a fan in the centre, is designed to give the LD a greater level of control of some of the effects taking place on stage. Warner explained: “On this set, for example, we have a dry ice simulator on the side of stage. But sometimes, due to the humidity of the room, all
LIGHTING Manning the visual look of the shows was Lighting Director, Scott Warner. With one of the most varied lighting CVs imaginable, the LD has worked with the likes of The Pussycat Dolls and Queen Latifa as well as rock bands including Stone Sour and Gwar. “I’ve always tried to stay away from being labelled as one thing,” laughed Warner, after listing his eclectic client list. “If you market yourself as a ‘rock LD’, you end up doing the same thing again and again.” However, if his Alice Cooper hoodie wasn’t giveaway, this particular tour was something of a bucket-list job for Warner. “I was brought in originally by their previous LD, Joel Reiff, who’s an old friend of mine. I’ve been a fan of Alice Cooper since I was 12 years old, so being given the chance to light tracks such as Billion Dollar Baby made it an easy decision.” Having taken on the job, Warner was brought into the creative department, which already had Show Designer, Chris Lisle, in place. “When 60
the fog bunches in the middle of the stage, obscuring the audience’s view. If that happens, I turn on the fan in the Cyclones to reveal Alice.” The LD also spoke of the confetti hit that took place during the show, where the Cyclones fan was able to keep any confetti off the stage and out of the band’s way. For control, the LD opted for an MA Lighting grandMA2. “It’s been my go-to for years,” commented Warner, reminiscing about the first time he used the desk. “One of the things that drew me to it in the first places was that it was black,” he laughed. He then referenced some of his work with various pop groups as the reason for learning more skills on the desk. “The macro setup I’ve got for this tour is ridiculous. I fire one button and it sets everything off, from lights to bubbles.” Supplying the tour with all its lighting requirements was Christie Lites. Working alongside Warner from Christie were Ryan Harrington, Henry Gillett and Crew Chief, Aidan McCabe. “I really like Christie and have no complaints for this entire run,” enthused the LD. “I have to give special thanks to our Crew Chief, Aidan, who has been fantastic.” With the lifelong fans of Alice from up and down the UK getting their fix of Ol’ Black Eyes, the band and crew made their way back Stateside to take up another leg of the tour, which will see them all the way to the end of the November, before heading Down Under for an Australian run in early 2020. TPi Photos: Andrew Benge www.alicecooper.com www.sseaudiogroup www.christielites.com www.gallagherstaging.com www.snakatakcatering.com www.stagetruck.com www.phoenix-bussing.co.uk www.rockitcargo.com
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DANIEL CAESAR: CASE STUDY 01 One of Canada’s most successful independent artists, Daniel Caesar embarks on an intimate global tour, supported by a core crew of creatives, as TPi’s Jacob Waite discovers…
Following his GRAMMY Award-winning breakout album, Freudian in 2017, the wholly independent Toronto-born singer-songwriter has collaborated with Pharrell Williams, John Mayer and Jacob Collier, to name but a few. As well as receiving critical acclaim, Caesar has garnered the plaudits of fellow Canadians, Shawn Mendes and Justin Bieber – the latter witnessed regularly at a string of the singer’s sold-out, hometown shows in recent years. Returning to centre stage with his follow-up album and worldwide tour, CASE STUDY 01, Caesar brings international concert goers closer than ever before…
Keeks began. “It’s been a strange adaptation process, as I’m so used to being behind the console and wearing multiple hats. However, there are so many moving parts as DC’s PM that I’m never lacking for something to do.” Their suppliers of choice comprised audio vendor, PRG as well as lighting and video vendor, Solotech in the US and Canada. In the UK and Europe, Eighth Day Sound, Video Screen Services (VSS) and Christie Lites provided the touring tech and video personnel. While 24/7 Productions added show design expertise. “I have a longstanding relationship with PRG, particularly Erik Paquette and Randall Knight from the Toronto branch. I met Erik when we were both roughing it and figuring out our paths in the industry, so PRG has always been an ally of sorts,” Keeks reminisced. “They’ve always been incredibly accommodating and helpful, and I know that if I need to make a lastminute change or have a replacement sent to me, they’ll come through 100% of the time,” he commented. “Having that trust and reliability is so important when time is against you. The packaging is also a big benefit; it’s streamlined and condensed without compromising on organisation or our needs. This is a big asset when a few cases could be the difference between how many trucks you need to have on the tour.” This tour marked Keeks’ first time directly involved with visual supplier, Solotech. “Our Account Manager, Robert Kennedy, has been great to work with and always comes through for our visual needs. It’s been a really pleasant tour and I never need to worry if something is going to get done.” The PM recounted the biggest challenge of this tour was having to fit the
PRODUCTION A staple of the DC touring camp, Mike Rowland linked up with Daniel Caesar during the height of the artist’s acescent, during his first wave of GRAMMY Award nominations. Two years on, the Tour Manager and Monitor Engineer told TPi his story. “When I first came in, I was doing monitors, gradually assuming the PM role, before transitioning to a TM role. As a TM, PM and Monitor Engineer, I was keeping incredibly busy as he quickly gained more popularity. Having a good professional dynamic of on-stage mixing and off-stage managing, there came a point where I was stretched and the team needed to expand so I could focus on the TM role.” Rowland’s first appointment as TM was to bring in long-time friend and successor to the PM mantle, Karen ‘Keeks’ Weigold. Having known each other for a number of years, this venture marked the first time the duo had toured together. “This is the first time I’ve been on tour and not mixed,” 63
scale of the production into a wide variety of spaces, as well as factoring in venue limitations in terms of power, structural integrity and sightlines. “We ended up having to create not only a B rig, but also a C and D version, to be versatile enough without compromising the overall look and feel of the show,” Keeks commented. Despite making sacrifices in some of the smaller spaces, Keeks assured the “heartbeat of the show” remained intact – with the help of a few “visual cheats”, which allowed the crew to maintain the creative integrity. The European leg of the tour presented a particular challenge, due to the generally smaller venues compared to North America. “A lot of the places we’re about to go into are not equipped for the scale of our show, so we’ve come up with an alternate design that will still deliver the overall creative vision in a way that’s realistic for where we’re performing. It requires a little compromise, but the overall vision is still strong.”
Refreshingly for the Show Designer, Daniel Caesar adopted a hands-on approach. “He was quite involved in the process since entering rehearsals – the fine-tuning of each of the songs in terms of the lighting programming and where the video content came in and out. He was keen to accent certain parts of songs visually, because he’s a very musical individual.” The gauzes were used throughout the show as a projection surface as well as a backdrop for lighting, with silhouettes of the band among the landmark looks. “It’s an interesting integration because lighting and projection aren’t running side by side, as they do in other shows; one track might be a heavy lighting song, while another is heavy projection.” This is where the scrim came into play. When backlit, the band members behind the projection veil were transformed from 6ft performers into 15ft-tall silhouettes. Ten Robe BMFL Spots were placed 10ft above the performers; the spread of the fixtures allowed Oliver to accentuate the musicians’ size with clever shadow play. Oliver highlighted the varying venue sizes, purposing an A rig for mainland UK, which comprised projection with shark tooth scrim, using a kabuki to reveal the band towards the conclusion of the set. For Europe, because the team encountered logistical issues with projection throws, a video wall upstage was drafted in. Oliver said: “The reason we initially opted for projectors is because we wanted to portray an image as punchy as a high-resolution video wall.” To ensure there was a variable rig which could keep its consistency despite being scaled to fit into the various differently sized venues, six Barco UDX-4K32s were specified. “We needed a lot more luminosity from our projectors, so we decided to up the quality of the projectors to make
VISUALS Show Designer, Louis Oliver was brought in to devise the aesthetic elements of the show, with 24/7 Productions’ Andrew Thornton and Andrew Dobbins. The brief was simple: “Management wanted the band to be upstage of gauze that was then projected upon. We built a show around those parameters,” commented Oliver. Management explained how it saw the projection being used, and how it should be placed. Oliver said: “The style is projected image, comprising background images of Daniel and missing vocalists. We’ve repurposed some of his unused assets for the live setting.” Keen to keep the singer as the focal point, Oliver designed a staggered stage to create a 3D visual look. 64
the show brighter. This allowed the band to be seen behind, when deemed necessary for an artistic touch.” Lighting Director, James Moore of Red Rover Entertainment, picked up the story: “Conceptually, it’s very different to other projects that I’ve worked on. It’s not a traditional, three-stick rock ’n’ roll show. The projection and video content are a lot heavier than other shows we’ve worked on.” Moore was also involved in the projection elements, hanging them during flown shows, controlling the content and making sure the lighting didn’t overwhelm the projection. “These two elements run independently, alongside each other to create a final look. Every song is complemented by the content, creatively throughout – it’s a continuous cycle, which is nice. Louis has devised an overall show design.” For control, a pair of MA Lighting grandMA2 lights were situated at FOH, with grandMA2 NPUs. Video content was run via Resolume Avenue VJ Software, while the backbone of the FOH rig boasted MA Network Switch and sACN. “The grandMA2 is my ‘go-to’ console,” Moore mentioned. “I’m sticking with the MA2 for now before making the eventual leap to MA3.” Half timecoded, half manually operated to factor in guest appearances, Moore walked TPi through his approach. “It’s been an interesting task,” he began. “I typically fill the shoes of the lighting operator/system tech, so operating a show where I have to hit cues is refreshing,” he explained. “I wasn’t prepared for that. It was supposed to be entirely timecoded but having to adjust and having the freedom to do that and learning from Louis has been brilliant.” Moore also had to account for setlist fluctuation. “Ultimately, it’s down to the production elements we’re putting into the show, which can dictate
the setlist, along with the scale,” he acknowledged. “When we’re going into the bigger markets, we’ll often have guest performers, which is where the biggest fluctuation happens – that’s why some songs aren’t timecoded, with Louis anticipating that other performers would join the tour.” Caesar’s hometown shows in Toronto altered drastically in scale, audience and production, with guest artists collaborating on multiple songs. “Daniel was really vibing with the crowd,” recalled Moore. “The end of his set is where I get the most playtime because he breaks into an acoustic set, with one or two encore songs. Other nights, it could be 20 or 30 minutes – he keeps me on my toes. However, being a Canadian, it’s refreshing to work with a hometown artist.” The lighting rig comprised 10 GLP JDC1s, 15 Robert Juliat Dalis 862s and Molefay 4 Lites. To set the scene, four MDG ATMes with external fans joined a pair of Martin by Harman Low Foggers. A total of 19 Ayrton Mistral-S’ generated the overall aesthetic. “Everything stems from them,” Moore gestured to the fixtures housed in a row. “They’re doing the vast majority of the legwork for the show – especially the big audience looks.” Additional Mistral-S’ were also used for front light, effects and hits. “They’re a great fixture!” the LD exclaimed. The other big aesthetic fixtures were seven Robe BMFL Washbeams, used primarily as backlight. “During an acoustic number, we typically have one centre light on Daniel. It’s a powerful fixture, with gobos and an unparalleled beam spread.” Moore praised the tour’s lighting supplier. “Solotech has been fantastic; they’re a native company and I’ve worked with them a bit.” In Europe, VSS facilitated the fixture side of lighting, using the logistical elements of 66
For the video shoot for The 1975’s new single, People, Bryte Design utilised Hippotizer Taiga Media Servers to drive an ambitious surround video setup. Photo credit ©Jordan_Curtis_Hughes
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Christie Lites to create a nice balance. “I’m so used to Christie Lites as a Canadian company – their logistical and management of gear is amazing,” Moore commented. “The shop in Coventry looked exactly like the Toronto shop. It’s easy to move around and the systems are seamless.” Summing up his time on the tour, Moore concluded: “It’s been interesting and enjoyable to play a scale of venues, from 1,000-capacity clubs, hanging a few lights with the floor package pulling the weight, all the way to 16,000-capacity outdoor open-air venues. I’ve really enjoyed the mix and rising to the challenge of making the show look good in those wide range of venues. Hats off to Louis and the 24/7 Productions team for putting together a rig and team flexible enough to do that.”
used Pro Tools for roughly 15 years,” he commented. “The workflow of everything just makes sense. I’ve always liked walking up to SC48s/Profiles on the road for that reason – especially if I’m dialling in something from scratch. The S6L is a nice natural upgrade from that. We didn’t use any outboard gear for this run. Everything I use is stock with the S6L.” Before working with Daniel Caesar, Mclellan primarily mixed metal/hard rock live, bringing a set of transferable principles over to his live show. “The drums are the foundation of my mix,” he asserted. “They are what I get most comments on when people hear the show live.” For an R&B artist, you may expect to hear duller less overt drums to cater to the more laid-back energy generally associated with this sort of music. However, “in reality, if you listened to my drum mix for Daniel compared with any of the metal guys I used to mix, you wouldn’t find too much of a difference sonically – smooth overheads and punchy shells being the base of the mix.” The most important part of Mclellan’s mix was ensuring Caesar’s vocals sat “nicely on top of everything”. He commented: “Daniel’s got an insane amount of low-mid information in his voice, so he’s high-passed unusually high for the most part, changing from room to room. Throw in a few reverbs and a couple of FX throws and that’s the meat and potatoes of it all.” With 12 wireless mics and 14 in-ear mixes, coordination came in the shape of 14 Shure PSM 1000s, 16 Sennheiser 6000 RF mics and four Shure UR4Ds for backline wireless. “Having bounced around a few brands, we’ve found that the Sennheiser mics stay true to his voice and have a great rejection pattern,” Rowland said. The extensive mic kit included Telefunken M82s, Telefunken M80s,
AUDIO Having toured with the likes of AFI, Don Broco, Theory of a Deadman, Black Stone Cherry and Marianas Trench, Monitor Engineer, Mike Rowland took on a fresh set of sonic challenges working with Daniel Caesar. “It’s interesting on an audio front as we have so many potential guests,” he began. “Any special guest that features on the album and is in town could always join Daniel on stage, so it’s my job to ensure everything is as polished as possible. It keeps me on my toes.” In monitor world, Rowland mixed on an Avid S6L with Waves plug-ins including NLS, C6, SSL, API2500, BSS402, plus a number of others. As the team didn’t carry PA, PRG provided consoles and all control in the US and Canada, while Eighth Day Sound filled in for the UK and EU legs of the tour. FOH Engineer, Cameron Mclellan also mixed on an Avid S6L: “The way Avid lays out its consoles has always been great for me intuitively, as I’ve 68
Telefunken M81s, Beyerdynamic M88s, BeyerDynamic TGD58Cs, as well as Neumann 184s and 102s. “It’s my personal package, which I love,” commented Rowland. Mclellan furthered: “Mike’s mic kit has been a consistent part of our live sound ever since I brought him on board in 2017 – Telefunken on the snares and kick, Sennheiser on the toms, Neumann on the overheads and hats and guitars with a couple of other trinkets in the mix. I don’t always have my own console, so having consistent microphones is a nice baseline to have as a minimum.” The FOH Engineer explained that, with having a consistent FOH board and array of microphones every day, the transitions between each room have been fairly smooth, only having to tune whatever the PA of that day is to coordinate with what he is trying to get out of the mix. “It’s been fairly headache-free,” he noted. With only four channels of wireless instruments to account for in backline world, the setup was clean, with no wedges. Rowland explained: “Everybody is on Ultimate Ears UE18s or UE-Lives – the latter used for Daniel’s mix. I’ve grown to really enjoy the Lives and we have had great support from Jeanette at UE.” By contrast, Mclellan told TPi that the Daniel Caesar team has gone from one crew person to two busses, which will now become two semis and trailers. “It’s been a successful tour on every front and it’s going to carry on as we’re adding more content shot by artists that appear on the album,
so the show is growing as the tour is going on, which is great.” Marking the largest Daniel Caesar production to date, in terms of both production and personnel, the rhythm was set very early on in the tour and continued like a well-oiled machine for the remainder of the run. Mclellan supposed: “With Mike Rowland in monitor world, Meaghan McEachren as our A2 [Rowland dubbed McEachren as “the most important person” to his delivery of the show] and Karen ‘Keeks’ Weigold as our PM, we are in very good hands all around.” CONCLUSION Live, Daniel Caesar’s performance is intimate and dreamy, ebbing and flowing between waves projection scrim, considered lighting and ambitious sound design. Rowland summed up: “He is an artist who has gained a lot of success in remaining independent, he is and will continue to do well, so it’s fantastic to be part of something which shows no signs of slowing down.” TPi Photos courtesy of 24/7 Productions. www.danielcaesar.com www.24-7productions.co.uk www.prg.com www.solotech.com www.8thdaysound.com www.videoscreenservices.com 70
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IN THE FIELD
IN THE FIELD: ALLEN & HEATH Keeping pace with British singer-songwriter, Lewis Capaldi’s FOH Engineer Andrew Bush takes some time out from his busy touring schedule to discuss his current Allen & Heath control package.
In a very short space of time, Lewis Capaldi has made the seismic leap from academies to arenas on both sides of the Atlantic. Despite this intimidating upward trajectory, the young Scottish singer-songwriter has retained many of the same core crew over the past year who have had to adapt to this new level of touring. Handling the singer’s FOH mix is Andrew Bush, who spoke to TPi about how he adapted to the demands of his employer’s success and the Allen & Heath desks that have been with him throughout the journey. “Lewis’ Tour Manager, Scott Smyth, contacted me in summer 2018 to ask if I could join as FOH Engineer for a few UK festivals,” recalled Bush. “My first run with Lewis started at Customs House Square in Belfast, followed by Reading and Leeds Festivals. We did a few more festival weekends in September and October 2018 and thankfully I was asked back for the sixweek Europe tour that ran throughout to the end of the year. I’ve been part of the crew ever since.”
With a busy 2019 schedule already taking shape, back in April, Bush and the rest of the production began pulling together a control package that would be able to deal with the fluctuating venue sizes that lay ahead of them. The result was an Allen & Heath package care of Glasgow audio company, FE Live. The new Allen & Heath setup marked a new chapter in Bush’s mixing career. “I hadn’t toured with Allen & Heath prior to April,” he revealed. “The decision to go down the dLive route came off the back of all the good things we’d heard about the audio quality. We also knew the desks and racks were easily interchangeable without any software or compatibility issues. We had a huge run of festivals over the summer and, for consistency for Lewis, band and crew, we wanted to use the same desks at every show, regardless of where we were.” Due to the size and weight, Bush and the team originally opted for the dLive C1500 for both FOH and Monitor Engineer Chris Smart’s surface, with both engineers sharing a DM48 stage rack. The advantage of this, as Bush 72
ALLEN & HEATH
explained, was that the entire control package could be checked in as luggage for fly dates. “I found the dLive platform very easy to use,” stated Bush. “The fader layout is completely customisable so you can make it fit into your own workflow, instead of the other way around. Dialling in a sound is quick as the interface is intuitive, and the on-board dynamics and effects units are very good.” The engineer was also complementary of several of the features, such as dynamic EQ and compression being available on every channel as an insert, a wet and dry blend on some compressor units, and the scene management being comprehensive and easy to work with. As Bush’s busy 2019 continued, the engineer opted to upgrade and move to the large surface with the dLive S5000 along with two DX32s and a DM0 unit on stages. “I’ve added a few toys recently, including two UAD LiveRack units running via MADI at 96kHz. I’ve also added a few pieces from Rupert Neve including a 5045 Primary Source Enhancer, a Portico Channel and a Portico Master Buss Processor.” At monitors, Smart also used a S5000 with one UAD LiveRack with a DM64 stage rack. Bush continued to describe his goal with Capaldi’s mix. “His voice is unique and instantly recognisable,” he stated. “The show has always been about bringing his voice out over every corner of the room and trying to capture all of his nuances. Whether he’s using his quieter, crooner-like chest voice, his louder, punchier higher register, or chatting between songs. Our PM, Nick Lawrie, is fond of comparing Lewis’ vocal to a brass instrument and in terms of dynamics and range, he’s not wrong.” Bush was also keen to commend the musicians who have been on tour with the singer-songwriter for the past year. “They really expand the sound palate and add weight to the mix.” But Bush spoke candidly about some of the challenges with providing audio support for this rising star. “As his stock has risen, so has the audience participation at the concerts.
Thousands of screaming fans can rob the mix of clarity and of valuable SPL, especially in countries where dB limits are low and strict. The front few rows of screaming can even travel down the vocal mic – not ideal.” To deal with the changing live scenarios, the engineer explained how he had developed different show files for a variety of venues, from clubs to outdoor festivals. “It gives me a better starting point and takes the guesswork out of it.” He continued: “In terms of on-board processing, I find the DYN8 processor to be crucial. It allows four bands of dynamic EQ and four simultaneous bands of multiband compression. This is a great tool in shaping sounds without over-applying EQ. I use this sparingly on guitars and keyboards to take out any woolliness or harshness, whilst I use it fairly heavily on his vocal, reducing the low-end boom, the midrange around 500-600Hz, the raspier high-mids and some sibilance. I also find the DYN8 very useful for shaping the overall sound of the PA to achieve consistency from venue to venue.” To close, Bush reflected on the past year of touring with Capaldi. “In the past few months, I’ve really enjoyed each show and have relished each challenge,” he stated. “It’s always good to try new methods and sometimes even start from scratch to see if you end up in the same place – even if it’s just for your own sanity. Jumping from venue to venue, or field to field, is a good test of where your mix is at. If there are certain things that work in some scenarios and not others, I consider it a valuable lesson learned.” TPi Photos: Allen & Heath www.lewiscapaldi.com www.allen-heath.com www. fe.live.com
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FREIGHTING An overview of some of the leading forces working within the world of freighting.
EFM Next year marks EFM’s 20th anniversary and to celebrate, the company is heading out once again with Rammstein, it’s very first customer from the year 2000. This year alone, EFM has worked with a diverse range of artists from The 1975, Twenty One Pilots and Lizzo, to The Eagles, Whitesnake and Christina Aguilera. Within the company’s first year of opening, EFM was responsible for freighting all the backline and production equipment for the first Western band to perform in Cuba – the Manic Street Preachers – and since then, the company has always relished a challenge. Being the pioneers of the Middle East touring logistics industry, this July, the EFM team were engaged by the production team for Jeddah World Fest, to handle the logistics for all the backline and equipment for the ground-breaking festival – the first of its kind in Saudi Arabia. Aside from artists venturing into more logistically complex destinations, the transport of lithium batteries is becoming an increasing challenge, with one of the major airlines refusing to transport them at all, from this month onwards. The company has grown significantly since its inception, now with offices located in the UK, Germany, USA, Australia and the Middle East, supported by a comprehensive network of likeminded local partners worldwide. www.efm.global 74
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supply services, including procurement, export packing, freight forwarding and compliance. At the turn of the millennium, Charles Kendall focussed on organic growth, opening offices in the Far East, starting with Hong Kong and Shanghai. The company then gained its AEO status and further diversified into new value-added services for customers, including contract packing, product logistics, event logistics, FBA and aerospace. Today it is an £80m-turnover private freight forwarder operating globally with locations in nine countries. Specifically, on the entertainment arm of the company, Charles Kendall has worked on a number of both indoor and outdoor lighting and rigging projects. The company has also worked on a number of museum tours, which can involve a selection of interesting cargo, from animatronic dinosaurs to delicate science exhibits. Key to these specific moves are the company’s specialist inhouse packing team, which creates specially designed and built packing crates. The company endeavours to help clients by advising on planning at the earliest stage. It answers questions such as what the items are made of, how to protect them and if they need to be insulated. All of these factors need to be considered for a successful move. www.charleskendall.com
CHARLES KENDALL In 1945, former army officer Charles Kendall established the company that still bears his name. The company’s global head office remains in its original position, in an elegant setting near the Royal Albert Hall, London, to this day. Throughout the 1940s, Kendall grew a procurement business between the Middle East and the UK, slowly building trusted relationships with government ministries. During the 1950s, the company acquired its own in-house freight forwarding, which furthered into an export packing business in the 1960s. Growth in freight and logistics continued through the ’70s and ’80s, with onward global expansion into Europe, America and the Middle East handling imports and exports by air, ocean and land around the world. By the ’90s, the brand was forming into the divisions which today cover full
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As it grows, the team is looking to continue to build on its reputation for reliable, on-time logistics and build long-lasting relationships. Its first touring projects started within the theatre world and more recently have expanded to include music tours. One such example has seen ETL handle logistics for Jess Glynne’s touring production team within the UK and Europe. “As ETL has its own trucks and provides air and ocean freight services, the biggest challenge facing international freighting for tours in 2019 and 2020 will be Brexit and how it will affect us all,” commented Jermaine Alsharif, ETL’s Live Event Logistics Director. “This still remains a mystery, but I am positive for the future.” www.etl-logistics.com
ETL With a team boasting over 20 years’ worth of collective experience, ETL is one of the latest names in the event logistics marketplace. Quickly rising up the ranks in the entertainment world and becoming the go-to logistics company for a number AV, rigging, lighting and sound professionals, ETL has already been nominated for Favourite Freight company at the TPi Awards in only in its second year of trading.
film, TV and high-profile sporting events. So, whether transporting valuable equipment across Europe or routing a world tour through multiple territories, the Global Motion network of experienced agents enables a worldwide solution with local expertise. Relied on by many a production manager, the company’s client base includes key relationships with artists and brands such as Coldplay, Sam Smith, Twenty One Pilots, Ed Sheeran, Massive Attack and Riot Games. “Global Motion is proud to be an independently owned company, built on decades of trusted relationships and years of consistent deliverables,” commented Director, Adam Hatton. “We have grown into a multi-office and multi-territory brand and continue our passion as part of the touring community. Over the coming months, Global Motion will continue to strive for excellence as we develop new and innovative methods of working within the freighting industry.” www.globalmotion.com
GLOBAL MOTION Global Motion is an industry leader in project freight forwarding for the touring and wider entertainment industries. Since its formation in 2003, Global Motion has been committed to providing bespoke international logistics solutions in the most cost-effective package for a range of productions, working around the clock to ensure this happens effectively and efficiently. With headquarters near London’s Heathrow Airport in the UK and offices in North America, Canada and Australia, the international Global Motion team supplies freighting to live events, concert touring, theatre,
Lambert, Ellie Goulding, Iron Maiden, Björk and Ariana Grande. “Security continues to become more and more prevalent in today’s tour planning,” commented Rock-It Cargo’s Business Development Director, Matthew Wright. “On the larger scale productions where we’re chartering planes to carry the equipment, we now have to factor in time to make the cargo safe to fly. In days gone by, we would arrive at the airport and load the plane. Not so today. The time to screen cargo can be consuming and adds precious hours to the already tight schedule.” Wright went on to discuss some of the other challenges on the logistics side of some of these latest live tours. “As technology continues to grow, so to does the demand for power,” he stated. “The batteries used for these productions are becoming more and more powerful, which is great for the consumer, but it’s not so great for the airlines. These powerful batteries are becoming a thorn in the side for some airlines due to some safety concerns surrounding them. This means we have to be far more aware of any batteries that are being carried as part of a touring package, which again can add time and processes to an already tight schedule.” www.rockitcargo.com
ROCK-IT CARGO With its humble beginnings in a portacabin at London Heathrow Airport in 1978, Rock-It Cargo has gone on to have offices across the globe, with over 300 employees worldwide. Rock-It Cargo continues to grow and expand into different markets, taking expertise from the highly demanding time-sensitive nature of music touring and putting that to good use in other markets that weren’t aware such companies existed. The company’s early roster of artists is certainly impressive, with some of its first tours including Led Zeppelin, Rush, Fleetwood Mac, P!nk Floyd, Genesis and Uriah Heep. Keeping pace with the times, the freighting specialist has worked with the likes of Shawn Mendes, Queen & Adam
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Brompton Technology’s Business Development Manager, Rob Fowler, Product Manager, Thomas Walker and General Manager, Asia, Elijah Ebo.
BROMPTON TECHNOLOGY Experiencing a meteoric rise since its formation in 2011, Brompton Technology has revolutionised the world of tour-ready LED video processing. Peter Iantorno takes a trip down to the company’s London HQ to meet the team behind the tech.
The Brompton Technology team is a busy one – a very busy one. Since it was formed in 2011, the company has experienced rapid growth that has seen several new product launches as well as an ambitious expansion into China, so the fact that TPi was able to catch the majority of the senior leadership team all together in one room was a minor miracle in itself. Settling down in Brompton’s head office in West London, Managing Director, Richard Mead, brought us up to speed with the company’s origin story. “In order to talk about Brompton Technology, you must first talk about another company: Carallon,” he began. Carallon was set up 15 years ago by a group of engineers who had all worked previously at Flying Pig Systems – now part of ETC-owned High End Systems. “We enjoyed working together
but, for various reasons, we decided to move on, so instead of going our separate ways, we thought ‘why not start again on our own?’” The company started doing contract work for the likes of ETC and Martin Professional, which remain active Carallon customers to this day. “However, fairly quickly we started to come up with our own ideas and we wanted to take them to market,” explained Mead. And in order to keep some separation between Carallon and the products it developed, separate companies and brand names were created. The first of these in 2005 was Pharos Architectural Controls – “which does all the lighting control for things like the London Eye,” Mead commented, and next in 2011 came Brompton Technology. “We’d spent years going onto job sites and having conversations with video technicians, 82
who told us they had inadequate kit for working in live events,” Mead explained, when asked about the motivation for starting Brompton Technology. “We have made a habit of looking for niche markets that we don’t feel are being served well enough.” The first application the company explored was LED video processing. “We had originally planned to diversify into other areas of video, but we were so successful that it became the first and the last,” Mead commented. The Managing Director continued on how his company found its niche. “If you’re dealing with an LED video wall made up of hundreds or even thousands of individual panels, where do you plug in the video? We give the user somewhere to plug in the video that can take the signal, split it for all the individual panels, transmit it to the panels and make sure it displays in a nice, synchronised image – and do all that really quickly.” To that end, the first product to emerge from Brompton Technology’s R&D department in 2012 was the Tessera M2 – the company’s flagship HD LED processor – along with its first receiver card. “We started a collaboration with VER,” Mead explained. “Essentially, they pre-ordered our entire first run of the product – and for a company doing R&D, knowing that you’ve already sold out before you’ve even finished making it is really helpful.” By the start of 2013, Brompton Technology’s LED processing was being used by VER on the biggest live televised show of the year: The Academy Awards – “That was quite a stressful weekend!” Mead recalled. However, while the VER deal was undoubtedly an early success, Mead reflected that it also presented a challenge. “We became so closely associated with the rental house, it took some hard work to persuade other rental companies that we weren’t just a VER product,” Mead commented. “And that was one of the main jobs that
Rob had when he came in,” he added, bringing Brompton Technology’s Business Development Manager, Rob Fowler, into the conversation. Since joining Brompton Technology in 2013, Fowler has seen the company go from strength to strength – something he puts down largely to the wealth of industry experience within the team. “Everything we do is informed by our users,” he told TPi during a tour of Brompton Technology HQ. “It helps that many of our team are drawn from the live production industry and have decades of combined experience of shows and the rental staging sector. That helps not just in their own experience but also in the closeness they have with our customers. Seeing how they work and listening to their experiences has given us the inspiration behind many of our most eye-catching and celebrated fixtures.” The company’s early success presented its fair share of stumbling blocks – not least the fact that for every different panel a Brompton Technology system was used for, the R&D team had to come up with a different design that allowed the receiver card to fit. To remedy this, in 2014 the company released its R2 receiver card which, measuring just 68mm by 32mm and using the widely available DDR2 SO-DIMM socket, fit into pretty much any panel design out there. “That was a key step; it meant that we could just produce one card and leave it to others to fit it into their products,” Fowler recalled. “It was game changing.” By 2016, pushed on by the universal appeal of the R2 receiver card, sales started to grow rapidly. “We started getting adoption from a lot of big rental companies,” Mead recalled. That year also saw Brompton Technology launch two lower cost processors – the T1 and the S4 – “which meant we could deliver more cost-effective options for people who couldn’t afford the M2, which was always designed for the top-end tours and events”. The next task on the agenda for Brompton Technology was to strengthen its ties 84
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with Chinese panel manufacturers. “We needed to ensure we had a team why Brompton was later to market with 4K than some of its competitors. who understood how the manufacturers operated and supported them in “We’ve always taken a view that if we put a product out there, it needs to be integrating our product,” Mead said. To that end, the company hired Elijah reliabe. We assume every one of our products is going to get used on the Ebo, who joined as General Manager, Asia. Mead commented: “Elijah built a Oscars the day after we start shipping, so everything has to be absolutely team to do exactly that – including setting up our own office in Shenzen.” ready before we send it out.” Brompton Technology now supports around 20 panel manufacturers Unsurprisingly, the SX40 has been incredibly successful, thanks in part in China, and even runs free classes for its employees to learn Mandarin. to its smart integrated data distribution solution. Product Manager, Thomas “It’s about more than just learning the language,” Ebo explained. “We have Walker, explained in more detail: “For a HD video product, you need four or to embrace the Chinese culture. Listening and reacting to our Chinese ideally six 1GB ethernet outputs to carry that much video data out to the customers has made such a difference to the way panels,” he began. “If you go to 4K, you’ll need 24 that Brompton has been able to do business in that separate 1GB ethernet cables, and that’s going to part of the world.” be a nightmare on any tour. And whether it’s in China, the UK or somewhere To remedy this, the company developed a “The quality of technical else, listening and reacting to customers 10GB data distribution unit, the XD. “You just hang support is critical to our brand it on the truss and cable to the screen from that has always been a focal point for Brompton Technology. “The quality of technical support is box, which means you only need to run one or two identity. We made a decision critical to our brand identity,” Mead commented. cables instead of 24,” Walker said. “It’s all plug-andthat every single member “We made a decision that every single member of play and everybody loves it.” our customer-facing team would be technically Looking to the future, Mead is in no doubt as of our customer-facing proficient. Even people with a sales responsibility to what direction Brompton Technology is going team would be technically all come from a technical background, so they have in. “We’re looking forward to releasing what we been there and done it. They can use the product believe will be our next big thing: support for HDR proficient. Even people with a and can answer technical questions about it.” video content,” he commented. “Our previews have sales responsibility all come The next milestone for Brompton Technology had a great response, and we will pull back the came in 2018 with the launch of the company’s first from a technical background.” curtain fully at LDI.” 4K processor: the Tessera SX40. “At that point, the TPi Brompton Technology market had been telling us for at least a year that Photos: Brompton Technology & TPi we needed to have 4K,” Mead recalled, explaining www.bromptontech.com Managing Director, Richard Mead 86
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BPM SFX Special effects specialist BPM SFX welcomes TPi to take an exclusive tour of its new facility in Burnley and discover how the company became an industry leader. Stew Hume reports…
Whether you’re a regular at festival sites or in one of the various arenas around Europe, there is little doubt that, at one point or another, you will have seen a BPM SFX logo, with its striking black and orange colour scheme, emblazoned on a hoodie or flight case. Established over 16 years ago, by Managing Director Adam Murray and Operations Director Jamie Holmes, the company was very much a success story from the EDM boom in the early 2000s. Over the years, the company has positioned itself as key player within the European live events industry, this TPi Award winning company provides a whole host of effects, from CO2 jets and confetti blasts, to G-Flames and lasers. But with a wide offering of effects, not to mention a strong recruitment drive for young aspiring crew, it became clear that BPM SFX was going to need a larger piece of real estate. “Our old facility was 3,500 sq ft, whereas this place is a 47,000 sq ft, three-storied building,” stated Murray, as he greeted TPi at the door of the company’s new HQ. The building is a converted, 100-year-old mill in Burnley, Lancashire. While walking around the new state-of-the-art space, there are still clues of the building’s past, which had been used for everything from a sweet factory to a munitions workshop for the military. “I guess you could say it’s all come full circle, although the explosives are somewhat different to what used to come out of the door,” joked Murray. The conversion of the mill has been a passion project for the entire team
since the company took ownership of the building back in July 2015. But the time it’s taken has clearly been worth it. Brand awareness was at the forefront of the renovation, as can be seen on the approach to the building, which is painted black with two Olympic-style fire bowls flanking the reception entrance. Walking through the office space – and receiving a warm greeting from the friendly office dog – the company’s decade-and-ahalf of work is on display, with tour posters and photographs from its wide range of clients, including the likes of Swedish House Mafia, Coldplay and Calvin Harris, not to mention large-scale events such as Creamfields. Although aesthetics were clearly important during the renovation, functionality was also a major consideration. “The SFX industry saw a dramatic change 10 years ago, as it moved from a niche sector of the market, to a model where you had manufacturers and those who used equipment,” reflected the MD, comparing it to the framework seen in the lighting, audio and video industries. “Before we started looking for a building, we knew we wanted to create a modular warehouse – in the same way lighting rental houses receive kit, which is then serviced and prepped before being sent out again,” he commented. “In the past there was a trend of SFX companies sending out kit and crew to site and then ‘figuring it out’ there. Due to the sheer amount of stock and number of jobs we have, we need to move to a more efficient way of
working.” The new facility includes both indoor and outdoor testing areas, a large-scale state-of-the-art workshop, technical repair room, research and development area, multiple programming rooms and a large-scale prep space for up to 30 people. Not only that, there is also a fully functional gym at the rear of the building, which is free to use for all BPM SFX staff as well as the wider Burnley community. “Right now, we have all the kit that has spent the summer in Ibiza,” stated Liam Haswell, BPM SFX’s Technical Director, as we walked through the warehouse. “This space is ideal for ensuring we give the kit all the maintenance it needs. Especially with the amount of stock we have, you need to be efficient in how you service everything.” Along with keeping all the gear prepped, the new facility creates an ideal space to train the collection of up-and-coming pyro technicians BPM SFX brings in each year. “We run a very employment-based framework,” commented Murray. “It’s a decision I made quite a few years ago when we decided to get off the road. The business was growing so quickly, and I would rather have one of our team dealing with clients from day one. It gives production managers a level of consistency, which they seem to appreciate. It also means I have the time to deal with more of the administrative work.” In total, the in-house team consists of 22 people, covering everything from marketing and accounts to warehouse workers. “We really do run a family business – even though none of us are related,” laughed Murray. “We are there for all our staff and try to be as supportive as possible.” He explained that this included various incentives such as a weekly lunch open to all staff, along with off-site staff accommodation to new starters. “We’ve got a lot of young men and women starting with us, so to have the accommodation where they don’t have to worry about bills or other personal admin means they can get off on the right foot.” On the subject of new employees, TPi asked Murray what he looked for in a potential new recruit. “The reality of the situation is that this job is hard work,” he asserted. “Whether you come with a first-class education or straight from school, there is no particular CV that I’m looking for. Mainly because we train all new starters from day one. In many ways, I’d rather have a fresh mind who has pride and passion.” “The in-house training, we perform here is rigorous,” stated Haswell. “It’s not about just about learning and operating about the SFX and laser elements we offer. Special heights training, first aid training, gas safety training, dangerous goods handling and transport training, IPAF and plant driving licences are all given as mandatory external training courses to our full-time staff. It better equips them to be able to perform their jobs
knowledgeably, safely and to the best of their ability in an industry where safety of everyone come first.” Although the world of SFX has become more complex with the proliferation of DMX-enabled fixtures and the incorporation of complex control protocols, Murray asserted that safety remains the top priority. “The main priority is not client or artist satisfaction – it’s that everything is always safe on stage,” he stated. “It’s why our junior techs work between 100 and 150 events before they will even fire a show, to ensure they are competent and experienced enough to make each live environment safe.” Haswell also discussed the importance of imparting knowledge on the new members of staff. “With DMX control being such a major part of new fixtures, we provide training for MA Lighting grandMA2, which is essential for these modern riders,” he stated, explaining how LDs tend to ask for more control of the effects nowadays. “It’s an interesting trend,” chipped in Murray, who spoke of the recent Snow Patrol tour, where BPM SFX worked closely with LD Davy Sherwin to incorporate of one of the company’s latest offerings, Wahlberg Winches. “We brought in the Wahlberg Winches at the start of this year,” said Murray. “With our sector of the industry growing, we are always looking to provide new options for clients and automation is one such element.” The BPM SFX team first came across Wahlberg while working in a residency in Ibiza. “The winches allow our lasers to be sent back into the roof, which has increased our stage display options for clients no end,” said Murray. “We spent three months on R&D trying to ensure the data and power were in one slick package. The Wahlberg control system has come on leaps and bounds and we’re excited to see where it leads.” As this year draws to a close and an already packed schedule of tours beckons, the end of 2019 and the start of 2020 is shaping up to be busy for BPM SFX. Not only is the company’s touring schedule full, but it has also begun to make serious moves into the TV and film industry having recently taken an office in Media City, Salford. Yet another example of the company expanding into new territories in the global events market. Keeping a constant eye on new trends, Murray and his hard-working team are always pushing the boundaries, offering new and exciting effects on live events. The company seems to be setting the benchmark for this side of the industry and continually redefining what is possible with special effects. TPi Photos: Anthony ‘Mr B’ Black www.bpm-sfx.com 90
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NEXO Celebrating four decades as a staple within the world of pro audio, French loudspeaker manufacturer NEXO continues to innovate its offerings to the events industry. Prior to the launch of its latest product – the NXAMP4X4MK2 – TPi’s Stew Hume travels to the company’s Parisian HQ to meet the team responsible for bringing these products to life.
There is little doubt that the world of pro audio is a very different one to when NEXO founders Eric Vincenot and Michael Johnson put together the initial building blocks of the company in 1979. With endless technical advancements, customer demands and the expansion of market players, it’s testament to all the companies that have weathered the tide of change. But while speaking to various members of the team that populated the various offices, workshops and testing areas of NEXO Paris HQ, it seems one of the keys to this longevity has been adaptability. Although NEXO in its early days was famed for working in the touring sector, over the decades, the company has refocused its target markets. Although still involved in large-scale events, the company also caters for other areas, including theatre and stadium installs. “We are still very present at the elite level of entertainment events with our flagship STM series modular line array, but we have evolved our product design in the directions of the much larger mid-market,” explained CEO Jean Mullor. The CEO also stated that to remain successful, a product line also has to be adaptable. “A good example of this is the GEO S1210-ST – a high-output,
long-throw version of the standard GEO S1210 cabinet – which has been optimised for stadium installations,” said Mullor. Despite various changes within the company’s ownership – notably with the successful acquisition by Yamaha in 2008 – NEXO has remained fiercely independent. All speakers are still manufactured in France, and the company has retained its in-house R&D department, which is responsible for creating new speaker systems, compatible software and liaising with the amplifier manufacturing, which is handled by Yamaha in Japan. As well as celebrating its 40th anniversary, 2019 has also seen the launch of a number of new products in the NEXO range. On the speaker side, it has been ‘The Year of the 12’ following the launch of the P12 highoutput point source cabinet, along with the GEO M12, the final piece of the large-format line array system puzzle. If that wasn’t enough, TPi’s visit coincided with the launch of the company’s latest NXAMP 4x4MK2 amplifier, the successor of the previous flagship system. NEXO’s Director of R&D, Joseph Carcopino, walked TPi through some of the company’s latest innovations. Having been at the company since 2001, there are few who 92
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NEXO’s Director of R&D, Joseph Carcopino and Electronic Engineer Julien Dorel; NEXO’s Managing Director Denis Baudier.
know the intricacies of the NEXO product line better than Carcopino. “When it comes to creating a new product, you can go one of two ways,” he began. “The first is to create a new product each time a customer requests something specific. The only issue with this is that you end up with a very large product catalogue. The other option is to work with a smaller number of products and attempt to make them as flexible as possible. We’ve kept a limited range over the years but, as we are a smaller company, we are able to work very closely with manufacturing to ensure each box is customisable and will fit a whole array of applications.” The manufacturing and R&D process in the creation of NEXO’s speakers appears to be a very entwined process, with the R&D building and the warehouse a 30-second walk from one another. The warehouse is testament to the company’s mantra of efficiency. One of the earliest adopters of CNC machines in speaker manufacturing, it has continued to be at the forefront of modern speaker engineering. “The decision of which parts of the process are done via machinery comes down to cost,” explained MD, Denis Baudier during a tour of the warehouse space. An example of this cost-effectives could be seen behind a mystery door, which housed the company’s sanding robot – which is able to do the job of 20 men with no human error. “The importance of the human touch is still held in high regard, especially during the painting and testing of each box,” asserted Baudier. “Before any product is assigned an RF ID tag, it undergoes an intensive test, which measures a variety of elements including impedance, tonal and frequency response and distortion. If it doesn’t pass, it doesn’t get a tag and it never goes out the door.” During the tour, Baudier unveiled one of the company’s latest investments that had been purchased as a direct result of the work with the R&D team. “The design of the P12 is unique, with its curved wood surface,” he commented. “We knew from first looking at the initial designs, our current CNC machines would not be able to cut the various pieces to size
due to its 3D nature. The result is a brand-new CNC machine, which is able to work on the X, Y and Z axis. Now we have this new machine, it opens the door to brand-new designs that would not have been possible before.” Further down the production line of the P12, TPi got to witness another innovative process that the NEXO team had borrowed from the aeronautic world. Doing away with conventional screws, the P12 is glued together using a vacuum process that bonds the structural elements by putting the cabinets under 130kg of pressure. Back over on the R&D side of the site, Carcopino explained how his team had developed over the years. Currently NEXO’s R&D division consists of 13 individuals covering a number of fields, including acoustic, mechanical, electronic and software. “The development of our software arm came really late,” admitted Carcopino. “We previously subcontracted the advancement of our digital networking but, in recent years, we took the development in-house.” One of the people behind the development of the company’s software arm is Maxime Grimonet. One of Grimonet’s latest projects was the development of the graphical interface of the NXAMP4X4MK2, where he worked closely with Yamaha’s Japan office. “I’ve been at the company for almost seven years, and my first project was working on NeMo – our system management software,” Grimonet added. NeMo allows users to control a range of NEXO devices, including the NXAMP Powered TD-controllers, DTD Digital TD-controllers, via a Wi-Fi network with a range on interfaces. “It’s already compatible with several Apple devices and we are in the process of working on a Windows version,” he stated. “Another one of my focuses has been the development of our NS-1 system configuration software. We are constantly trying to find new ways to give greater control of array coverage.” Another individual who has been part of the growing R&D department is Julien Dorel. Hired as an electrical engineer, he has 94
been part of the strategic growth of the team. “There has been real growth within NEXO’s R&D department, but especially on the electronics side of things, rather than just the speakers and acoustic research,” he commented. “Our overall demographic is quite young,” reflected Carcopino, adding that a number of his team – including Grimonet and Dorel – were hired straight from university. “Having a youthful team is fantastic as they are constantly questioning ‘why?’ This curiosity often leads to finding a different way of tackling a problem and, in-turn, creating an innovative product.” With a selection of new products for NEXO’s global network of customers, the R&D team is now set to get feedback from those who are now getting their hands on the new systems. “The in-the-field knowledge is
essentially in product development,” commented Carcopino. “It’s only with these experiences that you get a real sense of the needs of the end-user and can start to see small tweaks that could be made on the product or could be developed for the next project.” With a renewed product list, Carcopino and his team are set to ride the wave of further improvement. “There is a really great dynamic within NEXO right now,” he enthused. “We are pushing hard on R&D and encouraging each one of the team to take the momentum and continue to push forward. We might even have a few more surprises by the end of the year…” TPi Photos: TPi www.NEXO-sa.com
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SLX Golden Gobo Award 2019 Lighting Designer Lucy Adams bags the inaugural SLX Golden Gobo Award for her work with Underbelly.
companies that allowed her to pursue her career as a Lighting Designer. This isn’t the first time that Adams has been recognised for her talents having worked with companies like ThisEgg working on projects such as dressed which won a Fringe First Award at the Edinburgh Fringe 2018 as well as It’s True, It’s True by Breach Theatre which also won a Fringe First in the same year. She commented on how she got involved in the projects this year: “I was involved with Underbelly in 2018 when a couple of shows I was involved in went there and I was pleased to be back in 2019! I’ve never worked with SLX before, but I had heard of them from other Lighting Designers and Production Managers who seem to have a really good reputation within the theatre and live events world.” As a Lighting Designer, there were a few strategies Adams had for her projects like It’s True, It’s True in Edinburgh that allowed her to achieve the desired looks she wanted, despite challenges that came with it. “For It’s True in 2019, we were developing it from the version we had done previously, so that involved amping up my previous design,” she explained. “This show is about Artemisia Gentileshci’s rape trial, so I wanted to evoke the feeling of a courtroom while also evoking images of renaissance paintings, as she was a painter. For this, angular lighting became very important, so we put lights on the floor to catch certain angles and also create big shadows on the back walls. “For It’s True, It’s True we were scaling up the design with a new set as well which was more challenging. Luckily, Underbelly were hugely supportive and allowed us to get into the space earlier to make sure we could get everything done to the standard I was happy with.” Adams also spoke about how honoured she felt to receive the inaugural Golden Gobo award: “It felt surreal to win the award! To have my work recognised by both SLX and Underbelly was amazing, especially after a long and difficult month in Edinburgh.” The work doesn’t stop yet this year for Adams, however, as she has more on her schedule on the run up to Christmas. She concluded: “We’ve just transferred Art Heist into New Diorama Theatre so that will run for the next couple of weeks. I’m then going to work on a Christmas show at the Old Fire Station in Oxford and with a few other projects in R&D I’ll be in and out of rehearsals!” TPi www.slx.co.uk
This year SLX launched the brand-new Golden Gobo Award following its involvement with 2019’s Edinburgh Fringe. The award went to Lucy Adams’ for her professionalism and excellent technical skills whilst working with Scottish production company Underbelly. Adam’s started her career in lighting at university where she got involved in extra-curricular productions as a Lighting Designer after already learning some technical skills on her course. After graduating she started working at Camden People’s Theatre as a technician then later a Production Manager for festivals. It was through this that she met other
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Epson’s Project Manager, Daniel Rose, discusses the company’s latest compact installation projector.
When did development of the EB-L20000U begin? The introduction of the EB-L20000U forms part of a long-term strategy from Epson to provide a full range of professional AV products that not only maintains Epson’s leadership in the overall projection market, but also develops the company’s position as the market leader in the more specialised Pro AV market. This strategy was initiated in 2013 with the first models, the EB-L1505U and EB-L25000U, coming to market in 2016.
for those in live events and touring. The EB-L20000U also features a sealed optical system and a highly rugged design to cope with the most challenging environments the live events market can throw at it. For improved flexibility and future-proofing, the EB-L20000U includes interchangeable input boards allowing for multiple inputs and redundancy. What benefits does the built-in camera provide for end users? The built-in camera, which features in all our recent >8,000K lumen projectors, combined with our Epson Professional Projection Tools, allows users to calibrate multiple projectors easily. They can also monitor the projected image and utilise a new feature called ‘tiling assist’, which simplifies and partially automates the edge-blending process.
What markets are you directing the EB-L20000U into? The EB-L20000U is targeted primarily at the rental and staging market – events, festivals, trade shows and so on – but we’re also seeing great interest from the fixed installation market such as visitor attractions, large auditoriums, shopping centres, schools and enterprises.
Did you bring any end users into the development stages of the project? As with the development of our entire Pro AV portfolio, we have involved and consulted with customers throughout the process. We’ve introduced customers to the engineers at our projector factory to discuss product development and requirements and have also brought engineers to our customers to see how our products are being used. Customer involvement
What features does the EB-L20000U have that will suit the demands of this market? Epson has a single range of lenses for all its models, from 5,500 lumens to 20,000 lumens, all of which are 4K compatible and are good for easily around 10 years of use, making inventory management very simple 98
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Epson’s Project Manager, Daniel Rose.
has helped ensure that our product portfolio meets the demands of the market as closely as possible and has even influenced firmware development just weeks before the first shipment of the EB-L20000U based on feedback from customers on our engineering samples. Have the fixtures been used on any projects yet? Yes, in Moscow 12 EB-L20000U projectors were recently used as part of the Circle of Light mapping festival via SDI Project. Look out for the case study video on our YouTube channel. What has the feedback been so far? The feedback has been very positive and the recent investment from UK-based video specialist Universal Pixels (UP) of 20 EB-L20000Us, the largest across EMEAR, is a great show of confidence in this projector. Ollie Luff, Co-Founder of Universal Pixels, said: “Providing high-entertainment value for our customers means our kit needs to deliver on the vision and expectations that we establish for each activity. What will continue to be a priority for UP, particularly as we increase and diversify our clientele, is a projector fleet that is not just reliable and robust, but easily able to adapt to different light and environmental challenges. Epson’s team in the UK have been trustworthy and efficient and the faith we’ve instilled in their product has served our business well.” TPi Photos: Epson www.epson.co.uk 99
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PSA: THE BIGGER PICTURE
BREXIT: MORE THAN JUST THE CARNETS With the implications of Brexit as uncertain as ever, the PSA’s Andy Lenthall attempts to find some clarity amid the confusion.
As part of the UK’s Brexit readiness activities, we thought it best to stick to circulating advice issued by HM Government, given the pace of change. We were offered the opportunity to apply for funding to hold events, build web pages or issue printed advice more specific to us, however, like many others, we politely declined the opportunity as the liabilities arising from that information becoming out of date were too great. One distinct benefit of the Prime Minister’s determination to leave with or without a withdrawal agreement in place was that we could actually talk openly about what a no-deal Brexit meant for all business sectors – about the level of bureaucracy for individual businesses once we’ve left behind the unseen bureaucracy of the EU. Of course, we’d discussed it before, but while our previous PM was getting a deal done, no-deal planning was shrouded in secrecy and NDAs. This time, we were all ears. You may have visited the government’s dedicated Brexit website. It’s mighty impressive and it helps you filter through the unnecessary and leave just the important information to get your business ready. Nobody reading
this column really needs to know about exporting fish in the event of a nodeal, save perhaps the former Marillion front man’s management planning his 2020 Weltschmerz tour. If you’d gone a step further and subscribed to the Brexit readiness email service, you’d have been warned before hitting the subscribe button that you could be getting 40 to 60 emails per day; boy, those fertiliser exporters will have a tonne of crap to wade through. During our journey into the rabbit hole, we had a list of questions relating to Brexit preparedness sent from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). We didn’t feel equipped to answer those questions on behalf of our members, so we set about polling opinion with a short survey. We’d soon gathered 400 responses. The results were shared with the DCMS as well as our members, and they weren’t exactly encouraging in terms of readiness and impacts already felt. Perhaps they were the catalyst for the release of more specific guidance on touring issued a few days after we shared our results. Of course, we passed that out to members as soon as we got it. That 100
PSA: THE BIGGER PICTURE
document was swiftly followed by a couple of dozen separate emails relating to the provision of services in each separate member state after a no-deal Brexit. This highlighted a bit of an issue. All the guidance issued so far relates to arrangements that the UK have made or to actions that cover the whole EU. Take carnets for example: you might need one, you get one, it covers you throughout the EU. What we don’t have any guidance on are arrangements that differ in each member state, such as working visas or exemptions for performers/crew and the payment of National Insurance contributions. This is entirely different to the arrangement that UK citizens will be able to travel freely in the Schengen area for 90 days in any 180 (keep a record, holidays might affect the time you can spend on a tour). The advice says that you may need a visa to work in a member state and you may need to pay National Insurance contributions. The issue is that each member state has its own legislative and enforcement arrangements. It’s very difficult to know what the arrangements will be for UK citizens. The only advice we’ve received from both lawyers and the DCMS is to look at arrangements from the point of view of an American artist or crew, and you might be on the right track. Most helpful. Of course, we’ve asked some Americans and, on the face of it, it seems OK. We can’t go into detail – that could be taken as advice, and nobody is in a position to offer that. As far as taxation and National Insurance contributions go, we’re once again at the mercy of varying approaches between member states. That said, we hear that the US has an arrangement with the EU that treats performers as EU citizens – this is perhaps something that we can hope for as part of a deal (not the withdrawal agreement, but the trade deal that follows our withdrawal). That’s movement of people kind of covered; monitor your 90 days in 180, the local ‘employer’ should sort out visa permission, social security will get sorted in ‘the deal’, oh, and make sure your travel insurance covers
full medical without the EHIC cover in place. What we haven’t touched on here are arrangements for EU citizens residing in the UK – that’s been well covered elsewhere under Leave to Remain arrangements. Movement of goods shouldn’t really be an issue as the specialist transport companies and freight forwarders are there for advice and solutions. More of an issue is the need to pay VAT and import duty on merchandise – a payment that will be taken up front. That will most likely be OK for a well-resourced act, but not so useful further down the market, where merch sales could be make or break. Take merch and you have to find a chunk of cash up front, don’t take it and you lose a revenue stream. Being positive is going to be key, as a wise PSA Council member said at a meeting several months ago: “It will be OK, because it has to be OK”. There’s always the good old show-must-go-on attitude and that will get many through. Our concern should perhaps turn to mitigating any longterm effects. UK suppliers have indicated that they are already losing work and revenue to EU-based competitors; who knows if that work will return when the dust settles? We’re always talking about the grass roots, whether it’s the future client base, the new bands just starting out that become as big as today’s stadium acts, or the next generation of techs to build and operate the shows. It all boils down to a checklist. We think we know all the questions, we’re still working on a few answers but we probably now know what we’ll need to know. For a sector that has grown utilising freedom of movement around our closest market, any additional friction, admin or cost is going to be of concern. For some it will be a necessary burden, but our main concern should be for those for whom it’s a deal breaker – a cost too far. *please note, nothing in this article constitutes advice. Even during writing, things changed. TPi www.psa.org.uk
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CHAUVET taps Desmond Kwan for Asia; Jose ‘Alberto’ Barja joins CHAUVET; d&b audiotechnik’s Alain Richer; DPA Microphone’s Matt Frazier; eps schweiz AG’s Kurt Bucher.
CHAUVET Professional continues to build its European Business Development team to meet the needs of its rapidly growing business in that market – welcoming lighting specialist Jose ‘Alberto’ Barja as its Business Development Market Specialist for Spain. Barja brings extensive experience in many facets of the entertainment lighting industry to his new position, having excelled for 20 years in executive positions at manufacturers Traxon, Osram and Siemens, as well as at the distributor Stonex, Bofill & Asociados. The demand for CHAUVET Professional and CHAUVET DJ products has been growing rapidly throughout Asia. To better serve its expanding market in the continent, CHAUVET has appointed Desmond Kwan as its Asia Business Development Specialist. Kwan brings extensive experience in entertainment lighting to his new position, having served in various sales and management positions at Harman Professional for 15 years. During that time, he acquired a stellar reputation for his product knowledge and commitment to customer service. d&b audiotechnik appoints Alain Richer to serve as Managing Director in France, succeeding Didier ‘Lulu’ Lubin who retired in September having founded d&b France in 2000.
In his new role Richer will be responsible for all aspects of business and market development of d&b in France as well as the day-to-day operations throughout the country. He will report to Phill Coe, Territory Manager, EMEA. An experienced sales and marketing executive with a background in industrial and consumer markets, Richer comes to d&b from Sennheiser where he held the role of European Marketing Director. DPA Microphones welcomes Matt Frazier as Northwest Area Sales Manager. Reporting to Christopher Spahr, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for DPA USA, Frazier, whom has nearly 15 years of experience in product sales and support, is responsible for sales throughout the northwest region of the United States. “We’re very excited to have Matt join our team here in the states,” said Spahr. “DPA has seen tremendous growth over the last several years and Matt’s longtime experience in the music and pro audio industries will help us continue to grow our brand recognition to customers in the northwest. This includes especially crucial territories such as Seattle, which has an amazing musical culture.” Personnel change at the Swiss subsidiary of the event infrastructure service provider eps. With immediate effect, Kurt Bucher becomes the 102
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ETP Europe acquires Pixl Evolution and Audio Evolution; Evago COO, Bernd Loy; Evago CEO, Goran Marincic; KKA CEO, Dominic Faber & Evago CFO, Lorenz Schmid iNFiLED’s Andreas Voss; The PROLIGHTS and EcmaPro team; A+SF joins PROLIGHTS’ growing international distribution network.
new Managing Director of eps schweiz AG, based in Winterthur. He succeeds Marco Misuraca, who wants to dedicate himself to new tasks and is leaving the company. Bucher started his career in the event industry in 1997 in the management of DJ BoBo and Yes Music. After almost ten years there as a tour manager, booker and tour operator, he was appointed a managing director and production manager of the Good News subsidiary Fortissimo in 2006. In 2013 he moved to abc Production as COO and from 2015 onwards he was mainly responsible for the production and logistics of concerts and shows in leading positions. Entertainment Technology Partners Europe, a business which helps brands grow their business in the events and entertainment industry, has announced its acquisition of video and audio-based companies Pixl Evolution Limited and Audio Evolution Limited. ETPA has recently launched a new European division which aims to provide support throughout Europe to offer AV solutions. Paul Hutton, president of ETP Europe, said: “These are the first two companies to join ETP Europe’s portfolio and are perfectly aligned with our existing brands in the U.S and our ongoing global strategy.” EVAGO Holding GmbH, one of the world’s leading companies in the field of temporary infrastructure, is gaining a strong foundation for its ambitious growth plans with a strategic financial partner. As part of this, EVAGO plans to invest heavily in accelerating the Group’s global path of growth. The investment in Evago Group, that includes the brands MOJO Rental/MOJO Barriers/BÜMO, will form the foundation for investments in the event industry for the investor KKA Partners. INFiLED appoints Andreas Voss as Regional Sales Manager for DACH. The latest recruit brings more than 20 years of experience in the pro-AV industry including his most recent position as Regional Sales Manager in Digital Projection, a manufacturer of high-end projectors and LED wall systems. Prior to this, he served for more than 15 years as Coowner & Managing Director of a system integrator in Germany focused on a broad range of vertical markets such as Rental & Staging, Visitor Attraction, Simulation and others. Moroccan entertainment company EcmaPro who specialise in the distribution of fixtures and products specifically for the entertainment
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Radio Active Design’s Jim Bakker; Solid State Logic partners Group One; QSC welcomes Anna Csontos and Markus Winkler; Renkus-Heinz’ Jim Mobley.
industry has joined the fold as exclusive distributor for PROLIGHTS. In addition to this, EcmaPro also offer LED technology for the architainment sectors including facilitating architectural illumination or interiors or whole environments. The aim of EcmaPro is to be able to offer a high standard of technological and professional coverage specifically focussed on providing international standards Moroccan professionals to have services adapted to international standards. PROLIGHTS has also announced that leading distribution and project engineering company A+SF (ASF SES ISIK VEGOR. SIS. A. S.) has joined the international distribution network. A+SF - now the largest AVL company in Turkey, was the result of a merger between the two leading AVL companies in Turkey: Asimetrik and SF. With elements of the company dating back to early ‘80s, A+SF come with a sterling reputation of being the first company in Turkey to really ‘do’ Pro AVL. A+SF come with their own extensive network of dealers, a vast rental network and a reference portfolio of more than 2000 projects over 19 years, A+SF are at the forefront of project design, integration, distribution and retail sales. Projection Artworks have rebranded to Pixel Artworks, celebrating the company’s evolution and expanding use of innovative technologies as it continues to move into new global markets. Tom Burch, Managing Director of Pixel Artworks, said: “For over a decade, our pioneering creative, technical and delivery expertise has grown alongside the incredible advances in pixel-based display technology. For years we’ve been telling clients’ stories through the best medium for that project whether that be OLED, lighting design, LED or projection mapping. It’s time our name reflects this.” QSC is pleased to announce the promotions of Anna Csontos and Markus Winkler effective October 1, 2019. Csontos, who joined the company in 2011, has been promoted to Executive Vice President, Chief Market
Officer and Chief of Staff, adding to her current executive sales leadership responsibility for QSC’s business and product portfolio in the Americas. Markus Winkler, who joined QSC in 2017, has been promoted to Senior Vice President, EMEA & APAC, expanding his executive sales leadership responsibilities to include QSC’s business and product portfolio for all of EMEA and APAC. The timing of these leadership changes were in part triggered by Gene Joly’s decision to retire at the end of January 2020. Joly joined QSC in 2016, assuming executive sales and business unit leadership responsibility for QSC’s Live Sound business globally as Vice President, QSC Professional. In 2018, Joly was promoted to Senior Vice President, Americas, adding responsibility for QSC’s Systems business in the Americas. Chris Johnson has been named General Manager of Riedel Australia. Johnson first joined Riedel Australia in 2016 to head up the company’s rental operation. In the meantime, he has charted significant success in developing the business and delivering complex solutions to highprofile customers across Australia, including Vivid Sydney and the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Before joining Riedel, Johnson was based in the U.K., where he operated his own business providing production engineering and design services to global clients such as the BBC and IAAF. In that role, he worked with Riedel on several events, including the 2012 Summer Games and the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Radio Active Designs CTO James Stoffo has announced the appointment of Jim Bakker to the position of EMEA sales and technical support director. Bakker is based in France and will manage the sales and distribution of Radio Active Designs products throughout Europe as well as the Middle East and Africa. Well known for his sales representation and strategic consulting capabilities, Bakker will spearhead efforts to increase sales 106
www.interfacio.com • +44 208 986 5002
TAIT CEO Asia Pacific, Kevin Taylor; Solotech’s Jim Steele; WorldStage’s Tiffany Bernhard.
and distribution for Radio Active Designs UV-1G wireless, analog intercom systems as well as the company’s catalog of wireless intercom accessories. Renkus-Heinz is pleased to announce that Jim Mobley has been promoted to the position of Vice President, Operations. Mobley got his professional start as an installer for Matty Sound Systems in San Bernardino, California, in 1983, eventually becoming lead installer and designer. “Jim has been a pillar of stability and has provided good guidance and support internally and externally in his 20 years at Renkus-Heinz,” praises company President Matt Czyzewski. “In his new position, he will be responsible for manufacturing, purchasing, and quality. Jim will work closely with the rest of the management team to strategise and develop long-term plans that usher in new levels of productivity, growth, and success. I am very happy that Jim is taking on this new role and look forward to working with him in his new position.” Specialist Hire and Events business, SLX, has been sold by the Stage Electrics Group in a transaction led by the existing Chief Executive of the Hire & Events business, Alastair Currie. SLX has a heritage dating back more than 40 years and serves the live events, hire & broadcast markets throughout the UK. Solid State Logic (SSL) is pleased to announce a new business partnership with Group One Ltd to manage its US portfolio of audio solutions and operational infrastructure. Effective immediately, the new
deal brings together one of professional audio’s most prestigious brands with Group One’s extensive distribution, customer support and partner network, to further strengthen both businesses. The partnership also sees the introduction of pro audio industry veteran Phil Wagner as North American Senior Vice President of SSL, working alongside the Group One senior management team. Wagner has been involved in the audio and entertainment industry for the last four decades. Having started as a recording engineer and technician using SSL consoles, he eventually worked for the company for 17 years, becoming President of US operations in 2005. His career has also included President of US operations for Focusrite Novation Inc, with more recent senior management roles at Apogee Electronics and Ocean Way Audio. Jim Steele has been named General Manager of the Solotech’s Toronto and Ottawa offices. This new position is part of Solotech’s vision and business model: Think global, act local. The addition of a General Manager to head the company’s Ontario offices will support Solotech’s growth in this high-potential region. Under the shared responsibility of Martin Chouinard, President, Live Productions Division, Canada, and Philip Giffard, President, Sales and Systems Integration Division, Steele will oversee the efficiency of Solotech’s Ontario operations and sales. Furthermore, he will ensure the development of new business opportunities while fostering synergies between the two Divisions of the company. 108
FAV O U R I T E S P E C I A L E F F E CT S C O M PA N Y
CREATING A SPECTACULAR WORLD For more information, or a demonstration contact ER Productions: firstname.lastname@example.org UK +44 1322 293 135 | USA +1 702 330 8530 | AUSTRALIA +61 403 703 731 | SPAIN +34 938 000291
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Green Hippo welcomes new team members Tosan Kogoro, Leon Dickens and Pratik Mankawde.
TAIT has announced its Asia expansion with new leadership and a new Hong Kong office. The decision to expand and establish deep roots within the region came from years of increased demand and growing commitments. With new leadership and local staff, the team will optimise client needs by delivering premium, high-performance machinery and automation solutions for permanent and temporary installations while also providing mechanical and electrical engineering service and support. Leading the team is Kevin Taylor, a 25-year TAIT veteran who has successfully led TAIT sales, operations and support teams in both the US and UK. WorldStage is pleased to announce that Tiffany Bernhard has joined the team as Vice President of Human Resources, based in New York City. Most recently, she held the same post at AEG Presents in Los Angeles, the live entertainment division of AEG. “We’re excited to welcome Tiffany to WorldStage and it will be great to have her based in New York where we have our single largest concentration of employees,” said Chief Financial Officer Rodney Miller. “Her experience at AEG Presents matches the same kind of environment WorldStage operates in, with over 300 employees and several hundred more freelancers. Green Hippo, specialist creator of tools for the real-time manipulation of video for the AV industries, has further strengthened its product
development and logistics teams with the appointment of three new members of staff at its London HQ. Joining as Supply Chain Manager is Tosan Kogoro, who brings a wealth of experience in supply chain and distribution processes. Tosan, who is fluent in English and German, arrives from DHL Global Forwarding where she was responsible for major clients including WH Smith and Argos. Specialist media server and control systems engineer Leon Dickens joins as Product Support Technician. Leon has three years’ direct experience of Green Hippo’s leading range of media servers in training, operations and troubleshooting. He was most recently employed as an Event Services Technician at PRG and before that, as a Video Media Server Supervisor. Leon will work directly with end users to provide technical solutions. Joining the R&D team is Pratik Mankawde. An experienced software developer, Pratik joins Green Hippo from DNeg VFX Studio in London, before which he was employed by Qualcomm and DreamWorks in Bangalore, India. He began his career with DreamWorks as an intern before joining its R&D team as a permanent employee. During this time, he worked on DreamWorks animation movies Kung Fu Panda 3, Trolls and Boss Baby. TPi www.tpimagazine.com/category/industry-jobs/
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MIKE OATES Director, Lights Control Rigging
now. The first item of kit we purchased was an MA Lighting grandMA2 onPC System. Then along came motors and rigging, then control and consoles and, eventually, lights. Of course, I couldn’t talk about our early stages and how the company has grown into what it is now without thanking our wives and families for all their help, support and understanding!
Over the last two years what have been some of your highlights with LCR? This is quite a difficult question as so many amazing things have happened already. But winning the Ed Sheeran Divide world tour has to be one of the biggest highlights for us. It was a turning point for the business and immediately gave LCR a presence on the world stage. We have worked with so many amazing people on many projects over the last three years and have really hit the ground running.
This year you have been working on the new facility. Could you talk about how progress is coming along? We moved into a brand new 20,000 sq ft building back in June. It was amazing to get the opportunity to work with the landlord before foundations were laid to decide on the layout of the warehouse and the yard space. Ryan has been very much the brains behind the building and we settled in quickly and starting operating from the new unit from day one. With the high bay storage and extended prep facilities it means we can turn jobs around a lot quicker and more efficiently and not worry too much about space. We also now have a dedicated technical department for repairs and custom product development, two pre-vis suites with MA Lighting MA 3D and WYSIWYG, and great staff amenities.
What first sparked your interest in the world of live events? It all started as the best way to skip double German at school. Once I started lighting school shows with the help and guidance of my physics teacher, I was hooked and I knew it was what I wanted to do from then on. After leaving school I went to Oldham College to study Theatre Lighting and Sound. I was drawn in by the spectacle of creating shows and it became my passion rather than just a job. I haven’t looked back since.
Could you talk about the early stages of Lights Control Rigging (LCR) and how the company first came together? LCR was a dream for myself and Ryan Hopkins for some years. All we wanted to do was make a difference and provide an exceptional and unquestionable service with the best gear possible. We didn’t want to be machines that had targets and quotas to fill. The focus remains on our clients and achieving their creative vision. Before 2017, LCR was just Ryan and I around a dining room table offering a sourcing/management service to our clients. We never imagined it would become what it is
How did it feel to win Favourite Lighting Rental Company at the TPi Awards in February? When our name was called out, I had to pinch myself. It was so unexpected! It was made even more special for us as we got to share the moment with all the people who helped us get there sat on the table with us. You often wonder if you’re heading in the right direction and if you really are making a difference. Winning an award like this really confirms that the hard work and determination and all those hours spent making sure the kit is meticulous is worthwhile. 114
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BRAND NEW T SERIES AMPLIFIER PLATFORM BRAND NEW T SERIES AMPLIFIER PLATFORM ARMONIA ARMONIA
DRIVING HUMAN AUDIO EXPERIENCE DRIVING HUMAN AUDIO EXPERIENCE
PS_TSeries_BACK COVER.indd 1 PS_TSeries_BACK COVER.indd 1
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