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DON’T STOP TILL YOU GET ENOUGH In the busy run-up to the PLASA show, our biggest issue of the year got underway and Hannah Eakins joined TPi as Advertising Manager. A lot of you will already know Hannah from her previous Mondiale Publishing days and her most recent position as Business Development Manager at Cheshire based i-PIX Digital Lighting. Welcome aboard, lady! If you see a TPi-er on the showfloor at PLASA, be sure to say hello and tell us all about your trade news. Now, as you know from Zoe’s leader last month, Mondiale has recently acquired both the UK and the European Festival Awards. It’s something that we’re all very excited about and as our passion for live music and events continues, we’ve gathered an array of festival coverage from all over Europe, each telling a different production story. From Wireless in London to BBK in Spain, Tomorrowland in Holland, Global Gathering in Warwickshire and Cambridge Folk Festival, we’ve got to grips with the sights and sounds that make our world so much fun. Tour wise, we joined Jake Berry’s road crew for Madonna’s MDNA in Hyde Park and sent freelance writer Paul Watson to the Netherlands to see Orfeo, an impressive love story acted out through a water-staged opera. Yep, really. Britain did a tremendous job at the London 2012 Olympics and to celebrate Team GB’s triumph on their home turf, the closing ceremony in particular was an incredible feat that showed the production values in the UK to be world-class. Zoe chatted to Senior Production Manager, Chris Vaughan, about what occurred behind the scenes, and as you’ll see from the images, the results were outstanding. Elsewhere, GLP’s President, Mark Ravenhill, braved our backpage interview and we profile the industry’s key tour rental suppliers in our September Market Focus. Brand new this month is our ‘In The Spotlight’ feature, [see pg.104] which highlights a recent product launch and discusses the new technology and concepts behind the release. And that brings me to our cover story. I’d always wanted to see a Cirque Du Soleil production, yet never quite managed to be in the right place at the right time. In recent weeks though, I was not only welcomed backstage to see the daily production routine of a Cirque tour in Canada, but it also happened to feature the music of pop icon Michael Jackson, ensuring one of his life-long ambitions was still able to come into fruition despite his sudden passing in 2009. It was a truly eyeopening look at the technical demands on this highly skilled and unique performance art. It’s not too often that we get to discover the necessities of acrobatic rigging and automation, but when we do, the live flying scenes really make a show special. As Michael Jackson’s vocals filled Toronto’s Air Canada Centre through Meyer Sound’s brand new LEO system, Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour cemented itself as one of my favourite live experiences ever. As Mother Murray will tell you, I’ve wanted to write about live music since I was 13 years old, yet right now, I really want to run away with the circus... working at TPi, I somehow manage to do both.

“As Mother Murray will tell you, I’ve wanted to write about live music since I was 13 years old, yet right now, I really want to run away with the circus...”

Kelly Murray Assistant Editor TPi SEPTEMBER 2012 • 03

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Assistant Editor Kelly Murray Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7738 154689 e-mail:


Sensation SGM offers a powerful solution for a Dutch debut.


Orfeo ed Euridice TPi experiences an opera set entirely on water.


Cambridge Folk Festival NEXO takes centre stage at folk celebration.


Global Gathering TPi reports from the electronic spectacular.

Commercial Manager Joel Perry Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Fax: +44 (0)161 429 7214 Mobile: +44 (0)7968 830559 e-mail: Advertising Manager Hannah Eakins Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Fax: +44 (0)161 429 7214 e-mail:


The sounds of tomorrow from the Belgian festival.




Printed by Buxton Press Annual subscriptions (including P&P): £42 (UK), £60 (Europe), £78/$125 (RoW). Subscription enquiries to: Laura McLaughlin, Mondiale Publishing Limited, Waterloo Place, Watson Square, Stockport SK1 3AZ, UK; Tel: +44 (0)161 476 5580; Fax: +44 (0)161 476 0456; e-mail: TOTAL PRODUCTION INTERNATIONAL is a controlled circulation magazine, published 12 times a year by Mondiale Publishing Limited under licence. ISSN 1461-3786 Copyright © 2011 Mondiale Publishing Limited. All contents of this publication are subject to worldwide copyright protection and reproduction in whole or part, in any form whatsoever, is expressly forbidden without the prior written consent of the Publishers. Every effort is taken to ensure accuracy in the preparation of this publication but neither Mondiale Publishing Ltd, nor the Editor, can be held responsible for its contents or any consequential loss or damage resulting from information published. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Publishers or Editor. The Publishers accept no responsibility for the return of unsolicited manuscripts, photographs, illustrations, advertising materials or artwork. Total Production International USPS: (ISSN 1461 3786) is published 12 times a year by Mondiale Publishing Limited United Kingdom. The 2010 US annual subscription price is 117USD. Airfreight and mailing in the USA by Agent named Air Business, C/O WorldNet Shipping USA Inc., 155-11 146th Avenue, Jamaica, New York, NY11434. Periodicals postage paid at Jamaica NY 11431. US Postmaster: Send address changes to Total Production International, Air Business Ltd, C/O WorldNet Shipping USA Inc., 155-11 146th Avenue, Jamaica, New York, NY11434. Subscription records are maintained at Mondiale Publishing Ltd. Waterloo Place, Watson Square, Stockport, SK1 3AZ, UK.

Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour Kelly Murray heads to Canada to immerse herself in Cirque du Soleil’s tribute to a pop icon.


BBK Live Festival TPi’s Zoe Mutter explores the Bilbao event taking the Spanish live music scene by storm.

Mondiale Group Chairman Damian Walsh

Cover Photography: Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour by OSA Images. Costumes: Zaldy Goco ©2012 Cirque-Jackson I.P., LLC.

News Leads All the latest from the world of live production.

Graphic Design & Production Dan Seaton: Mel Robinson: •

Backstage Academy A look back at the training centre’s story so far.


General Manager Justin Gawne



Assistant Editor Zoe Mutter Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7793 048749 e-mail:


Wireless Zoe Mutter talks to the team keeping the crowds safe at the summer festival.


Madonna’s MDNA The TPi Editors get behind-the-scenes access to one of 2012’s hottest tours.


Olympics Closing Ceremony Production Manager, Chris Vaughan, shares the story behind a sporting finale with Zoe Mutter.

SPOTLIGHT 104 Harman Soundcraft


Kelly Murray kicks off our new feature with the Si Performer range of audio mixers.

THE BIGGER PICTURE 108 PSA: The Bigger Picture Don’t blame it on the sunshine.

MARKET FOCUS 110 Rental Houses & Hire Companies A guide to the hire industry’s key players.

MOVERS & SHAKERS 118 Appointments & Production Guide

VITAL STATS 122 Mark Ravenhill


TPi takes some time out to chat to GLP’s President. TPi SEPTEMBER 2012 • 05

NEWS FOCUS: Sensation

SGM PERFORMS AT THE SOURCE OF LIGHT 1.5KM OF POWERFUL LED TUBE SHINES AT SENSATION’S AMSTERDAM DEBUT. ID&T is the company behind Sensation. The first one took place in Amsterdam ArenA in 2000. Since then Sensation has moved around the world and millions of people have experienced one of the most spectacular dance and music experiences in the world. In July this year, Sensation introduced a new show named Source of Light and it returned to Amsterdam ArenA for the debut. More than 40,000 people gathered for the spectacular event. Dutch distributor RentAll - which provides many of the custom solutions for Dutch-based ID&T, was asked to supply the lighting and audio technology for Source of Light. The brief was to create the most dynamic single LED statement ever seen, to decorate an all-aluminium, 14 metre radiating sphere, weighing 12 tonnes, to be operated by multiple motors. Sensation Production Manager, Joris Joosen, wanted a bespoke centrepiece, which combined 06 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

retro and new generation beam effects. Due to the existing working relationship between Sensation and RentAll, Joosen was confident his vision would be delivered. He considered the LED lighting products available on the current market, but decided he wanted to go one better for Source of Light. In order to do this he put the project out to tender with a hope of finding the brightest LED solution possible. RentAll made contact with SGM, a former Italian lighting company that was bought out by Peter Johansen last year, and is now headquartered in Denmark. SGM submitted a proposal for the lighting rig, which Joosen and his team tested. Joosen said: “We tested other products and auditioned SGM against another brand, and quality wise SGM was better. In fact it is a wonderful product.” “SGM provided the brightest and most powerful solution and was able to deliver on time for the show more than 1.5km of high power DMX controlled LED strip, matching the

very specific requirements,” said SGM CEO Peter Johansen. SGM provided a customised LED solution for Source of Light, this is an avenue the company is keen to explore and expand in order to offer its customers the best available technology and higher efficiency products that produce brighter colours over a broader spectrum. For the Amsterdam ArenA Sensation’s lighting solution, RentAll’s Operations Manager, Vincent Degen, worked closely with SGM R&D Manager Finn Kallestrup to produce nearly 600 DMX controllable strips in three different lengths and girths. A total of 224 pieces of 2.15-metre lengths, 210 pieces of 2.11-metre lengths and 130 pieces of 1.73-metre lengths, comprising almost 100,000 LEDs made up the lighting rig for the spherical centerpiece. It required 36,000 DMX channels to drive it. Each metre of tubing output 16W of RGB LED, with three channels of RGB operating across every 10cm (one for each colour) with auto-

NEWS FOCUS: Sensation

Opposite: SGM shined brightly for the Amsterdam crowds. Below: The audio rig included 12 flown hangs of L-Acoustics V-DOSC.

addressing. Joosen continued: “We stage a lot of productions and events with RentAll’s assistance. For the new show we wanted to engage the audience and create a huge source of light; with the help of the SGM LED strips we managed to achieve this.” In addition to SGM’s custom solution for the giant sphere, Source of Light was packed with other premium beam special effects, including 64 Clay Paky Sharpys, a lighting fixture with superb beam qualities for its wattage. A total of 44 Martin Professional MAC Aura compact moving heads, 88 Martin Professional MAC III Profile high-output moving heads, 22 Martin Professional MAC III AirFX mid-air effects luminaires, 24 Martin Professional MAC 301 LED wash lights and 74 Martin Professional Atomic 3000 high impact strobes made up a large part of the intelligent lighting rig.

To complete the line-up, RentAll added 185 Expolite TourLED fixtures, 128 James Thomas Engineering single blinders, six SGM Genio colour changers and six Robert Juliat Victor followspots. The lighting for Source of Light was controlled via a High End Systems Wholehog 3 console and a Catalyst digital media server. The HES Wholehog 3 console features an unlimited number of simultaneous cross fades, 10 playback faders, user-friendly playback controls. While the Catalyst media server gave the LD the opportunity to produce and control a range of image effects via the DMX console. The high production values were maintained with the sound reinforcement. The Sensation team flew 12 hangs of L-Acoustics line array around the stadium perimeter. There were four hangs that comprised eight L-Acoustics V-DOSC elements, four hangs each containing eight

L-Acoustics K1 enclosures, and four line arrays each made up of six L-Acoustics KUDO boxes. To supplement the main line array system, a further eight hangs of L-Acoustics V-DOSC cabinets in clusters of five were flown, along side 16 L-Acoustics ARCS speakers for fills and 60 L-Acoustics SB28 subwoofers. The sound system was driven by 78 four-channel LA-8 amplifiers, also from L-Acoustics. Ben Brouwers of RentAll took on the role of Sound Engineer for the event, he worked alongside Operations Manager, Vincent Degen. The Amsterdam debut of Source of Light has set a high bar for the event in other cities. For now, Sensation is continuing to operate its various white themed shows around the world, including Ocean of White show in Korea, Thailand and Taiwan. TPi

TPi SEPTEMBER 2012 • 07

NEWS FOCUS: Orfeo ed Euridice

ORFEO ED EURIDICE OPERA ENTERTAINS THOUSANDS AT A LOCATION FIT FOR ROYALTY THIS SUMMER, UNDER THE DIRECTION OF JOS THIE, THE TOUCHING LOVE STORY THAT IS ORFEO ED EURIDICE DESCENDED ON THE BEAUTIFUL LOCATION OF SOESTDIJK PALACE IN THE DUTCH PROVINCE OF UTRECHT, FORMER HOME OF THE LATE QUEEN JULIANA, FOR A TWO MONTH RUN OF SHOWS. PAUL WATSON WAS THERE TO ENJOY THE SPECTACLE... It’s unlikely that you will ever witness a live production quite as unique as De Utrechtse Spelen’s depiction of Christoph Willibald von Gluck’s opera, Orfeo ed Euridice. Set entirely on water, and accommodating 1,800 people per show, it is a fusion of music, theatre, and a stunning location, literally fit for a Queen. Based on the classical myth of the singer Orpheus, who was said to have been able to ‘move even stones to tears’ with his bewitching voice and exceptional string playing, the opera tells the story of Orfeo, a talented vocalist that touches nature when he sings, and his deceased lover Euridice, who is stuck in the underworld. In the production, Amore, the God of Love, decides that Orfeo may bring his lost love back to the land of the living, but only on one condition: he may not look at Euridice until they have returned from the underworld. Evidently, he finds this a step too far. “All Royal operas must have a happy ending 08 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

– it’s just the way that it is – so in the end, although Orfeo breaks the rules by looking at her, Amore decides ‘never mind, you can have her back anyway’,” smiled Ramon Snel, the show’s Technical Producer. There are three main components to the set: the ‘floating’ orchestra pit; the stone, which is set in the middle of the pond and is essentially the stage; and a system of underwater catwalks that enable the singers and actors to move around the set. “The Director wanted to create a show where Orfeo is really in his natural habitat, which means we don’t have a very big set – we have kept it as clear as we can,” Snel said. “The catwalks run all the way to the palace, some 300 metres away, and there is also an elevator within the set that transports the cast in and out of the water, which represents the underworld.” Getting permission to use the Royal Palace took almost a year, and then another year was

NEWS FOCUS: Orfeo ed Euridice

Opposite: As a decision had to be final for the look of the show, it created extra pressure when positioning the lighting fixtures for the movement scenes. Below: A DiGiCo SD7 was at the helm at FOH position and a DiGiCo SD9 was utilised for monitors.

required for pre-production and to actually create the set. Being a much protected area, the habitats of snakes, bats, birds, and even frogs had to be respected, so a lot of investigative work was carried out before anything could physically be put together. “The bottom of the pond is no deeper than 1.7 metres, so we couldn’t drill or anchor anything, because of the potential leaking issues,” Snel continued. “It was very difficult to get all of those disciplines together; we’re talking about floating 1,800 people on water here, after all!” Another man with a lot to think about was Lighting Designer, Marc Heinz. Although he has almost 20 years of experience in the industry, and has worked on large-scale operas in stadiums and arenas across Europe, working on water presented a whole new challenge. “We all worked closely with ecologists to make sure the natural environment wasn’t spoiled by the production, but on the lighting side, it was particularly stringent,” he explained. “Our working hours at night were strictly regulated and I was not allowed to hit certain areas with any light – not even with reflections from the water, which is quite a puzzle when there is a surface of 300 by 100 metres of water in front of you!” Lighting Operator, Pepijn van de Sande, worked from a High End Systems Wholehog

3 with a DP 8000. The main lighting fixtures included 16 Stage Profile Plus; 12 Philips VariLite 3500 Washes and four Vari-Lite 3500 Q Spots; four High End Studio Command 1200s and four High End City Colours; 30 S4 Profiles; 40 Par 64 Outdoors; 30 Tempo 3 Greens; two Robert Juliat 2.5kW Aramis; five Dataflash; and

re-hanging some fixtures, but here, absolutely no way.” Ampco Flashlight provided everything audio, and in terms of the sound design, it was important to retain an intimacy of sorts, and to keep the sound as natural as the set. To achieve this, 72 [omnidirectional] Omniwave

“The Omniwave system is spread across the entire set, and lifts the whole sound around the audience – all those speakers work together to create a bulb of sound instead of a wall of sound coming towards you.” plenty of LEDs. “I wanted everything hidden from the audience, because I felt if you looked at the lake and saw large piles of fixtures or trussing, it would completely ruin the magic of the piece and the location,” Heinz revealed. “This resulted in me putting lights in some quite irregular places - for example, some of the [VariLite] 3500 Q Spots were positioned with the lens at almost the same height as the water.” And once a decision was made, he added, it had to be absolutely final, which created extra pressure when positioning the fixtures. “All of the decisions were completely irreversible,” he said. “Everything you put in and under the water couldn’t be replaced. In theatre or TV, there’s always the possibility of

loudspeakers were deployed, along with 20 Synco W8L Longbow line array cabinets and two cases of three Synco W8LM mini line array elements. “The Omniwave system is spread across the entire set, and lifts the whole sound around the audience – all those speakers work together to create a bulb of sound instead of a wall of sound coming towards you,” Snel explained. “This also means SPL can be kept low, as audio is always around you, so you don’t need much power. The Synco line arrays were there more for the effects, and to support and give direction to the Omniwave system.” Real animals were brought in to further replicate Orfeo’s natural habitat, although Snell says because the Sound Designer (Danny TPi SEPTEMBER 2012 • 09

NEWS FOCUS: Orfeo ed Euridice

Below: To make the orchestra comfortable, some reverb from the Lexicon 300 was put on on eight of the Omniwave speakers, which created a nice acoustic; the opera took place on a surface of 300 by 100 metres of water.

quite extraordinary scenes involving the Palace’s natural wildlife. “We bring in a big owl and occasionally a seagull, and Orfeo will have a conversation with the bird and then it’ll fly away again, but what was great was that the wild birds were actually responding to what Orfeo was singing too,” he smiled. “There was a definite crossover of what’s real and what’s done by us, and the sound system supported that. Our record, in fact, was 17 wild geese choosing to accompany Euridice as she cycled on the catwalk from the Palace to the rock – that was very funny!” For all of the shows, a DiGiCo SD7 was at the helm at FOH position, and a DiGiCo SD9 was utilised for monitors. Because of the setting, this production provided quite a number of challenges on the audio side, particularly in terms of monitoring, as engineer Jelmer Dijkstra reveals. “Because opera singers normally rely on their inner voice and how the room and the orchestra sounds acoustically, they found it hard to stay in tune and keep focused,” he said. “Many had never used in-ears before, but after rehearsals, and some tweaking and playing with reverbs [on the DiGiCo SD9], we were able to reach a workable situation where they felt safe to perform. “The big distance over the water was a problem for normal wireless operation, so 10 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

we had a specially developed wireless system over fibre, which allowed us to get everything working like it should.” Although Dijkstra’s mix position was directly behind the ‘floating’ orchestra pit, he says it worked well thanks to good communication with FOH and some extra video monitoring. “Putting my console here meant we had the shortest cable runs, and they can become quite an issue at a location like this,” he added, “and because the SD9 is a great, fantastic sounding console, I had all the freedom I needed. I was able to configure my mixing desk perfectly, and being such a small footprint, it was absolutely ideal for this show.” Dijkstra ran 36 inputs and eight mixes in total, including 27 stereo sends for the Sennheiser 200 Series IEMs, which he used for the opera singers and the choir. Most effects came from the DiGiCo console, however a stereo send was also sent to a Lexicon 300 for the orchestra. “The orchestra pit was quite a ‘dead’ room due to the design, so to make the orchestra feel more comfortable, I put in some reverb from the Lexicon 300 on eight of the Omniwave speakers, which created a much nicer acoustic,” he revealed. For I/O, Dijkstra connected the local I/O to the DiGiCo D-Rack, taking an aux MADI out of one of the [DiGiCo] SD7-racks for the three

main opera singers. He also received some sub mixes of the orchestra and the choir from FOH engineer Harry Zwerver’s SD7 to make sure he got the right blend of the two for the in-ear mixes. Zwerver says he opted for the SD7 for its versatility and ease of use. His channel count exceeded 75, including 36 for the orchestra and 24 for the choir, and he used very little outboard due to the console’s inbuilt FX. To mic up the orchestra and choir, Zwerver used an array of DPA 4060s and MMC2006s, plus a selection of AKG C414s “Danny [Hoogveld] did a great job designing the sound for Orfeo ed Euridice; the Omniwave speaker makes a very natural sound with no direction, which when combined with the original sound of the orchestra works really well,” he concluded. “I was brought in by Ramon [Snel] to do the last 20 shows of this production, and I have to say I really enjoyed it. It was a real success, and also an absolute pleasure working with such a large show and such a well motivated and talented crew.” TPi

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NEWS FOCUS: Cambridge Folk Festival

NEXO 45°N-12 IS MAIN STAGE MONITOR FOR STARS OF CAMBRIDGE FOLK FESTIVAL THE CAMBRIDGE FOLK FESTIVAL IS ALMOST 50 YEARS OLD AND REGARDED AS ONE OF EUROPE’S PREMIER MUSIC EVENTS. THIS UNIQUE FOUR-DAY EVENT HAS A DAILY CAPACITY OF 10,000 AND FUSES THE BEST FOLK ACTS FROM THE UK AND IRELAND WITH THE FINEST BLUES, COUNTRY AND ROOTS PLAYERS FROM THE US, TO CREATE AN ATMOSPHERE LIKE NO OTHER. TPi HEARD THE ECLECTIC, ACOUSTIC AND ELECTRIC WHEN A WEALTH OF TALENT GRACED THIS FESTIVAL’S TWO STAGES. This year all tickets were snapped up within hours of going on sale. Despite its evergrowing popularity, the festival remains determined to maintain the special intimacy that’s made it what it is today, so during each band’s set, the audience is always extremely quiet and respectful, listening intently to every note sung and played. This means a clear on-stage sound is absolutely imperative, and this year, to help provide genuine clarity, a number of NEXO’s 45°N-12 monitors were deployed for the main stage. “These NEXO monitors have such a clean sound, and the 12-inch driver is really, really responsive,” insisted festival Site Manager, George Breacker. “It also provides an excellent tonal quality, and it’s proven to be the best box 12 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

to use for this type of music and this type of event.” The 45°N-12’s inclusion in the festival was ultimately down to Seamus Fenton, Monitor Engineer for the main stage for more than 12 of these events. SSE / Canegreen’s Yan Stile suggested that Fenton try them out whilst working on a recent Frankie Valli show at the Royal Albert Hall, and he soon realised he’d finally found what he’d been looking for: the perfect Cambridge wedge. “I first became acquainted with these wedges at PLASA a couple of years ago, and they seemed very impressive,” Fenton explained. “But I only heard them in action for the first time at Frankie Valli’s Royal Albert Hall show, and I immediately knew that I was onto

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NEWS FOCUS: Cambridge Folk Festival

Opening Page: NEXO’s 45°N-12’s made a great addition to the festival stages. Below: The festival has become a popular attraction in the European folk scene.

something; they sounded absolutely superb, and they were just so versatile, so I knew I had to have them at Cambridge.” Fenton says that because of the type of act that comes through at Cambridge Folk Festival, many of the instruments are very delicate and acoustic, and changeovers are also very fast. The fact that the 45°N-12 is lightweight, portable, and boasts a 12-inch driver, means that any potential problems have now been eliminated, he revealed. “Although I have tried a 12-inch [at Cambridge] before, it was too heavy and cumbersome for this type of event, and it just didn’t work out - but I’ve always wanted a 12inch option, and I have found these 45°N-12’s to be absolutely vocal-tastic!” he enthused. “One really crucial thing you have to deal with at Cambridge is what I call ‘the folk arc’, which is when all the folk musicians come in and sit in their chairs in an arc and say: ‘there you go, we’re ready; oh, and we’ll just share a monitor’. That’s when I’ll say: ‘er, no you won’t!’ But normally I then have to work out how I get 18 mixes or whatever it might be, divided between those six chairs! “However, using the 45°N-12’s, I was able to easily do a group of three between the lot of them, and they were able to move in and out of it, and it worked perfectly; no problems at all,” said Fenton. By his own admittance, Fenton began to ‘get cocky’ when he realised the true potential of 14 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

the wedges, and went into experimental mode. “On day one I just went for individual wedges, and on day two I decided to do a pair in the middle; one thing I did discover is that you can’t share one - you need two,” he said. “So all weekend I was experimenting and this culminated in me creating ‘the doughnut of doom’ on the Sunday: a complete circle of them!

guest engineers, Ant Standring, really loved them because of how lightweight they were – he was the guy moving my wedges for me, and he was a big fan of the nylon runners that make them slide about very easily.” The Proclaimers were the loudest of the acts, and Fenton said there was more than enough headroom available. In fact, he was impressed enough to pencil in some 45°N-12’s on the rider

“I immediately knew that I was onto something; they sounded absolutely superb, and they were just so versatile.”

“It was spoiled a bit by the piano tuner, so we never did it in anger as such, but it was an absolutely amazing thing; and at no point as you moved around did you hear any phase movement at all. That was very impressive.” Fenton says all of the visiting engineers were also really keen on the 45°N-12’s, and even some of the artists made a comment or two. “Charlie from The Proclaimers actually said it was the best vocal sound he’d ever had – and that was just a straight pair L/R, nothing linked or anything,” he said. “Seth Lakeman’s engineer was also really impressed, and another of the

for the upcoming Jesus Christ Superstar tour that he will be working on [for SSE/Canegreen] in September and October. “For this kind of show they are incredibly versatile,” he said. “I need some wedges for the Jesus Christ Superstar tour, and where my rider once said: ‘two [d&b] M2’s’, it now says: ‘four 45°N-12’s’, as I can now do four mixes, or a clump of three, or basically any configuration I like. All in all, I’m quite a fan, I have to say!” TPi

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The Remuneration package is negotiable for the right person who has the key skills and motivation. All applications will be treated with confidentiality and respect. Please send your CV to Mr C R Hill Wigwam Unit 402 Phoenix Close Green Lane Heywood Lancashire OL10 2JG Tel: 01706 363800 Email:

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NEWS FOCUS: Global Gathering

GATHERING PACE RETURNING TO LONG MARSTON AIRFIELD FOR THE 12TH YEAR THIS SUMMER, LEADING ELECTRONIC MUSIC FESTIVAL GLOBAL GATHERING SAW SSE AND ELECTRIC FLY ONCE AGAIN RAISE THE BAR FOR DANCE EVENT PRODUCTION. TPi WENT ALONG TO SEE HOW THEY PULLED IT OFF... Electronic music festivals generally come and go quicker than boy bands, but Global Gathering has been an unstoppable force in outdoor dance events for 12 years, nowadays counting only Creamfields as a serious rival. This year, around 50,000 partygoers descended on the fabled site near Stratford-Upon-Avon, for what proved to be the most eclectic Global yet. Incandescent performances by the likes of Tinie Tempah, Chase & Status and Skrillex were complemented by consummate levels of production, courtesy of SSE (audio) and Electric Fly (visual), with lighting and video equipment supplied by HSL and XL. Reporting this year to onsite Production Manager, Andy Gray, and Chief Production Manager, Neil McDonald, of Clockwork Production, SSE deployed a team led by audio Designer / Project Manager, Miles Hillyard, and Nick Pain as his audio crew boss. Hillyard specified L-Acoustics line arrays across the entire site, with the flagship K1 system flown on the 16 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

main stage and the largest of the tented arenas, which played host to the likes of Maverick Sabre and Nero, respectively. Used as delays in the larger arenas and complete systems in the four smaller tented arenas – hosted by dance promotion labels such as Hospitality and Toolroom Nights – L-Acoustics V-Dosc arrays more than delivered, with a sound that not so long ago was the preserve of much bigger stages. Every arena featured the widely regarded SB28 subs, run in a cardioid fashion to cut down on offsite noise and adhere to the very stringent local regulations. “We try to create as much low end in the arenas without throwing off-site in any direction, and this arrangement seems to do the trick at Global,” explained Hillyard. “I wouldn’t use it everywhere, but on this site we’re so heavily compromised by council restrictions that it’s the the only way of making it work. In previous years, with conventional subs and other cardioid arrangements, we’ve ended up having to unplug half of it at 2 o’clock in the

morning. “On the Friday we were hit by a very cold, clear, still night without much humidity, so that was the more challenging of the two nights in terms of offsite noise, but the systems held up very well – we hovered around 95dB, whereas in previous years we’ve had to knock it down to 93dB. As the audio supplier and the guy who wants the kids to enjoy themselves, I’d ideally want it up in the early 100s, but we managed a 2dB increase simply due to the system design, so I’ve got to be happy with that. The following night the weather was a bit more forgiving, there was a bit more moisture in the air, a bit more resistance and we were able to bump it up a bit. Levels notwithstanding though, all the arenas sounded very tight; I don’t think you could say that any of them were badly set up.” It wasn’t only the punters that were treated to top-notch audio that weekend, either. The artists themselves enjoyed one of the best DJ monitoring rigs available, thanks to SSE’s recent acquisition of a whopping 78 L-Acoustics KARA

NEWS FOCUS: Global Gathering

Opposite: Global Gathering was celebrating its 12th year at the top. Below: FOH this year deployed a Midas Pro2 console for the first time whilst Avolites helped to get the lighting design into full summer party mode, HSL supplied Martin Pro fixtures.

modular line source cabinets. This allowed them to deploy left and right stacks of SB18 subs topped with three or four KARA elements in nearly every arena. “In 2011 we had people like Swedish House Mafia and Tiesto using this monitoring setup, but it’s only this year with the recognition of the product and the number of boxes that we’ve now got that we’ve been able to spec it across the entire site at Global,” added Hillyard. “It’s pretty much the default DJ fill for any serious gig at the moment.” Other new developments on the audio front this year included the use of the Midas Pro2, which was employed at FOH on the main outdoor stage. Prior to the event, Hillyard had found the Pro2 to be ideal for this type of application: “It’s really compact and cost-effective, but it also happens to be a great-sounding desk, so I had it on Arena 1 for bussing DJs through or hooking up a second, larger console for the live stuff and guest engineers. It’s proving to be a very popular bit of kit.” GLOBAL WARMING Handling lighting and video across all main arenas, as they have done since 2008, Electric Fly upped the stakes this year with several

pieces of new technology employed for the first time at Global Gathering. Thanks to some state-of-the-art gear and an exceptional team led by Production Designer, Philip Winward, and Lighting and Visual Designer, Nick Jevons, with Marc Callaghan as Lighting Crew Chief, the firm oversaw a standard of visual production that was noticeably slicker than in 2011. Avolites’ sister company, Avolites Media, made its Global Gathering debut with the cutting edge Ai Media Servers, which were integrated to stunning effect in arenas 2, 3 and 6, where, in conjunction with the new MSC-1 controller, they helped bring a remarkable fluidity to the production of acts such as Above & Beyond and Steve Aoki. The Ai server is a modular, programmable system that facilitates control of all media types, allowing the coordination of lights and video as a single medium; something that has been a long-term goal for the brand. “Essentially, with the Ai system, we work in a 3D environment and we place objects within that environment,” explained Arran RothwellEyre of Avolites Media. “It’s kind of like using [pre-visualisation software] wysiwyg to set up your stage, so you know what’s going on. Because it’s all in 3D, it knows where things are and it can account for projection at weird

angles and distortion of shape etc. We play media across all fixtures, including lighting fixtures, and what the system does is it looks at the colour of the pixels and converts it to RGB or RGBW or RGBA and sends out DMX values for this. So it does the processing for you. When you use lights and video together, it can be really cool if you play a video clip across the lighting fixtures as well as the video panels, because you can get the same kind of feel and movement across both. You can match up tone and feel and so on.” Another new Avolites product making its first appearance at Global was the Sapphire Touch console, which featured on the main stage and Arena 2. The Sapphire Touch was well received by a number of lighting designers who used it for the first time at the event. Among them were Michael Seeverens from Dutch firm The Art of Light, who took to the controls in the State of Trance arena, providing lighting design for Armin van Buuren, among others. He commented: “The Sapphire Touch is a big progression. The best thing about the console, for me, is the layout. You can really see exactly what you’re doing and get much faster access to all your palettes. You can make legends on the cue list, instead of using tape and a Sharpy, and you can see in the display what’s behind TPi SEPTEMBER 2012 • 17

NEWS FOCUS: Global Gathering Below: SSE deployed a team led by Audio Designer and Project Manager, Miles Hillyard.

the fader or behind the button; it’s a real step up. The motorised faders are great as well, because I’m always short on faders.” POWER SUPPLY With Project Manager, Tim Fawkes, at the helm, UK lighting and visuals rental firm HSL coordinated the delivery of seven trucks worth of equipment to Electric Fly for this year’s event. The 2012 inventory was a much more energy efficient one than that of 2011 and included a significant quantity of LED fixtures. Smaller, lighter and brighter units - such as Robe LEDBeam 100, LEDWash 600, Robin 300E Beam and Clay Paky Sharpies - were the trend, with HSL supplying over 200 moving lights in total. In addition to these were 160 Molefeys, 150 Martin Professional Atomic strobes, 156 Pulsar Chroma Strips and Source 4 Profiles for key lighting features. On the main stage and arenas 3, 4 and 6, HSL supplied sizeable quantities of Martin LC and EC series LED screens, while XL took care of Arenas 2 and 5 with their F-LED 30 and F-LED 11 screens. The main stage lighting rig comprised 22 Robe ColorWash 2500E ATs and 12 ColorSpot 2500E AT moving lights, together with 30 Atomic strobes and six i-Pix BB4s. The Molefay blinder count was considerable, totalling 52 2-lites, 12 8-lites and 24 4-lites, distributed throughout the 3D 18 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

cube structure that surrounded the stage. For control, LDs could choose between a Chamsys MagicQ200 and a Martin M1, while a Maxedia system running video was operated by Dave Stewart for most of the weekend. Headliners Chase & Status brought a new variation of their touring package, ‘the A-Rig’, designed by Neil Carson and also supplied by HSL, which was integrated to great effect with the house system, particularly with regard to how they utilised the additional videos screens. Electric Fly’s Nick Jevons commented: “Some headline acts know that there is already going to be a main screen in place, so they won’t put that into their design. Instead they’ll devise some kind of fragmented arrangement and fit it in around the main screen, so they get the best of both worlds – and that’s exactly what Chase & Status did. They had 24 panels arranged two by four on Kinesys motors that continually changed position, and it really made the production stand out. “Their show was certainly a highlight, but then the whole event went really well in the end. You know, with something of that size, you’re always bound to come up against some slight hitches, but we got through them and on the weekend the whole thing came together nicely,” he concluded. TPi

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NEWS FOCUS: Tomorrowland Festival

THE FUNKTION OF TOMORROWLAND BELGIUM HAS LONG BEEN KNOWN FOR ITS BEER AND CHOCOLATES, TIN TIN, THE BIRTH PLACE OF AGATHA CHRISTIES POIROT, WAFFLES AND FRITES, AND ONE THING IT ALSO DOES VERY WELL IS PRODUCTION VALUES. TO A LOT OF ARTISTS AND ROAD CREWS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD, BELGIUM HAS, FOR A LONG TIME, HAD SOME OF THE BEST VENUES AND FESTIVALS IN THE WORLD. TPi ATTENDED TOMORROWLAND TO HEAR THE SOUNDS OF TOMORROW. On March 22nd, more than two million votes from 185 different countries were cast at the International Dance Music Awards in Miami. In the running for Best Music Event were the likes of California’s Coachella, New York’s Electric Zoo and Amsterdam’s Sensation White, but pipped to the post was the Belgian Festival Tomorrowland. This was the second year in a row that Tomorrowland has been nominated for the prize, and the first year it placed its hands firmly on the award and brought it home. Nestled between Antwerp and Brussels is the sleepy little Belgian town of Boom which plays host to this most elaborate music event. Why is a raven like a writing desk? I have no idea, but in it’s eighth edition, Tomorrowland is more like a children’s book than a festival, but instead of lullabies gently drifting the listeners off to sleep, Skrillex, Swedish House Mafia and David Guetta keep the participants in a dance20 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

fused trance till well after bedtime. The festival grows every year, with 14 stages in 2012, some of the world’s biggest dance acts have managed to solidify its ranking. Also a groundbreaking partnership with YouTube has created a virtual pseudo-festival ‘Tomorrowland TV’ where the two million fans that couldn’t get tickets can hopefully quench at least some of their desires. Set over three days, this year’s festival welcomed over 100,000 through its gates. Promoters ID&T were looking for FunktionOne to be supplied on some of their stages., Funktion-One’s Belgian supplier and distributor, were introduced by Didier Beyts of Coincidence Records, and three years ago they took over running four of the stages. The stages are split into areas, each area takes a different name each day. Area 9, which takes the names Café d’ Anvers / Cocoon / Ovum Stage is a 3,000 capacity covered arena.

NEWS FOCUS: Tomorrowland Festival

Opposite: Below: The sounds of dance music pumped through the Funktion-One PA and put the award-winning Tomorrowland on the festival map. Below: The setting was like an other-worldly fairytale land!

More like a giant circular gazebo than a tent. The stage has a pair of massive buddhas either side of the video screen which is encased in some kind of makeshift indo-islamic architecture. Sonically surveying their domain, 16 Funktion-One Resolution 5’s stand tall and proud either side of the stage. The Res 5‘s, the flagship of the Funktion-One range, have a 12-inch taking care of 114Hz to 445Hz, an eight-inch take takes care of 445Hz to 7k55Hz resulting in a very smooth transition into the

balls hanging from the roof, centering the entire scene is a giant circular screen, like an all seeing eye, with arches of rainbows and hearts protruding from either side. This time flew eight Res 4’s, the wider dispersion brother of the Res 5, with 12 F218 mkII to fill in the low-end. Two Res 2’s were used for infills and four of the skeletal Res 2SH for detailing towards the rear of the tent. Monitoring was taken care of by Res 2’s and F118’s.

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“What’s so amazing and unique about this festival is the decoration, performances, street acts, light shows on the water, huge fireworks on different stages and eating vegan in the woods... the atmosphere is like being in Wonderland.”

extreme highs, without harshness or that MacBook Pro sound, and a one-inch that looks after all the polish and sparkle above there which are missing from so many other PA systems. Their dance partners are 12 F121’s. Yes, 12 21-inch drivers massaging the kidneys of every mover and shaker in attendance. Extending cautiously beyond the top of the DJ table are two Res 3’s being used as monitoring with F118’s providing all the air movement for the performers. Area 14, this time inside a tent, takes the names Kne-Deep / Star Warz / TranceAddict and plays host to around 1,500 electro-enthused two-steppers. The tent has all sorts of coloured

A long, wooden-floored dance area makes up Area 7’s outdoor space. This stage goes by the name of B2B / Ketaloco / Daily Dubstep and is designed for a modest 600 people. Rising from the edges of the dance floor are columns of quad truss holding a bamboo roof, that introduces some welcome shade over the area. The stage is framed by brilliant white theatre tabs, and above the waving hands of the audience is the familiar purple and silver Res 5’s. Adding the weight to the sound in this area are four F218’s coupled with two Infrabass plus a double infrahorn. Four Res 1.5 provide monitoring for the DJs. A tiny, brick arch tunnel makes up Area 6,

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NEWS FOCUS: Tomorrowland Festival

Below: Showtex put some colour on stage worthy of the eccentric DJs and crowds.

the Winterclubbing / Woody Weekend / Coinidence stage. The small intimate space provides enough energy to keep the last of the weekend’s hard partiers going. The small nature of this area and the difficult acoustical nature of this space does require a little bit of thought. Dance music is all about clean lines in the music and throwing sound against the concaved walls will not hold up to the sonic fidelity required by such music. The job here was taken care of by a pair of small but perfectly formed Res 2’s and F218’s. The DJ monitoring was overseen by a Res 2A. All the systems were running with Funktion-One XO4 crossovers with Audiocore and amplification was over seen by the light weight E45 or E100 amplifiers. Tia Broodcoorens of Soundsystem. be said, “What’s so amazing and unique about this festival is the decoration, performances, street acts, light shows on the water, huge fireworks on different stages and eating vegan food in the woods... the atmosphere is like being in Wonderland. I’ve never seen such a thing 22 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

on such a scale. Every year it’s even better. Quality and security is a standard. I’ve never seen the safety precautions being followed so strictly.” Complementing the festival’s sound was stage draping by Showtex which supplied Marc Van Sintruyen, the creative mind behind BM Projects, an international event design company, with specialised fabrics for the Super You and Me tent at Tomorrowland. Alushape, a canvas covered 3D molding cloth was used on the DJ stage to created a fantasy inspired backdrop with depth. The fabric supports its own weight so you can create twists and turns and texture without any wood or metal structure underneath. For another stage, green, brown, and black casement was combined with the shiny white and aqua blue Satinac to create giant flowers leading up to the stage. Until next year... TPi

NEWS FOCUS: Backstage Academy

BACKSTAGE ACADEMY CELEBRATES GROWTH YEAR BACKSTAGE ACADEMY WAS A NAME RELATIVELY NEW TO THE UK ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY LAST SEPTEMBER WHEN THE COMPANY EXHIBITED AT LONDON’S PLASA SHOW FOR THE FIRST TIME. TPi LOOKS BACK ON THE SUCCESS STORY SO FAR. As the vocational training centre prepares for its second annual exhibit, it is celebrating the near completion of the first year of its new Foundation Degree in Live Events Production (validated by The University of Bolton) and is also gearing up for a bigger intake of students this November. The Academy has announced that in 2013 it will be increasing its range of courses to include new technologies, adding new Foundation Degrees and taking its employability courses to a wider market following such successful launches. Despite university applications in the UK being down compared to last year, the Academy reports that it will more than double its numbers on the Foundation Degree for the new academic year. Said Director of Courses, Robin Watkinson: “We’ve had a fantastic year with our 17 students and am pleased to say that the response from both new applicants and industry professionals has been overwhelmingly positive with regards to what we are trying to achieve at the Academy. 24 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

“Dr Rachel McLean, who is the Academic Manager for Backstage and Creative Technology at The University of Bolton, said it’s unheard of to more than double the intake of students on one course in just one year.” Watkinson puts the popularity of the degree course down to several different factors, one of which is its emphasis on engagement with the industry. Backstage Academy was the first industry-specific training academy to launch in association with a large-scale production studio facility; stage, set and studio business LS-Live, Wakefield, West Yorkshire. INDUSTRY LINKS The intended result is that the Academy has forged close links with supply companies and production professionals, to ensure its training can evolve in line with what the industry demands. In its first year, the degree course has featured masterclasses by live audio expert Dave Swallow, The Prodigy’s Leo Crabtree, Star Events Group’s Roger Barrett and FOH Sound Engineer Chris Madden, and training by several leading

NEWS FOCUS: Backstage Academy

Opposite: The Backstage crew have worked with X Factor and Dragonforce. Below: Rigging, health and safety is a huge part of the Backstage philosophy; bespoke training projects are aimed at 16-24 year olds; The Stone Roses crew booked on to the Event Safety Passport at Backstage Academy while they were doing their rehearsals at LS-Live.

technology companies. The Academy has also become a resource for production companies - such as Cuffe & Taylor, Peel Entertainment and DNG Production Ltd - and professionals wishing to gain qualifications in certain disciplines. Following feedback from clients it will develop its range of short courses next year as well as looking at more tailored training for individual companies, venues and events. Said Watkinson: “We’ve found that a lot of the productions coming through the studio are starting to realise that they can take courses during their downtime on site.” Tony Gittins, Production Manager for The Stone Roses, said: “For the larger tours I do, I always send all the crew to do their Event Safety Passport because it raises their awareness of health and safety when they’re working around the stage set. “When we booked the production rehearsals for The Stone Roses at LS-Live, I was pleased to learn that the facility now incorporates the Backstage Academy training centre, as it meant I could put all the crew through the course on one of the quieter days. Even the more skeptical

crew who had been in the industry a long time thought it was worth doing and found it useful.” NEETs Backstage Academy is also working on a number of bespoke training projects to engage with the one-in-six 16 to 24-year-olds in England who are currently NEETs in the UK (not in employment, education or training), including a programme of events with the Career Transition Partnership (CTP), which is the official provider of resettlement support for the Ministry of Defence. Said Sara Gleadhall, Sales and Business Development Manager: “We aim to help people that want to get back into employment and promote backstage careers as a viable and rewarding option; it’s an industry that is essentially highly accessible for people from a variety of backgrounds, not necessarily academic.” Simon Chester, Operations Manager for stage crew company Stage Miracles, said service leavers make up around 10-15% of

his workforce. He said: “Some of our best employees are people who opted to leave the army as they decided it wasn’t for them, but they like to idea of an active, adventurous and non-traditional job. “Part of the challenge is their transition from an environment that is highly regimented with strict schedules, coming into a workplace where a load-in time is merely a concept and things never go to plan.” Said Gleadhall: “Reaching out to potential employees isn’t just about practical training, it’s about re-educating people and changing attitudes to allow them to adapt to what is essentially its own industry culture. “Our ultimate aim is to provide a solution to the industry’s training needs on every level. We are steadily working towards building the resources to allow us to do that and forming partnerships to help us achieve our aims.” Backstage Academy is actively seeking new partnerships, supporters, tutors and trustees. TPi TPi SEPTEMBER 2012 • 25


JAY-Z HEADLINES HACKNEY WITH A ONE-OFF STAGE SHOW TO REMEMBER UK When the world’s King of Hip Hop, Jay-Z, is set to headline the biggest free ticketed festival in the UK, championed by none other than BBC Radio 1, you know there will be high expectation on the sleeve. The BBC Radio 1 Hackney Weekender was one of the most prominent festival dates on Britain’s burgeoning calendar of events this summer, not least because of its new location at the heart of the Olympic borough. Poised to host sporting legends from the end of July, East London first welcomed A-list music stars into its realms on June 23 – 24, attracting some much needed positive press following the rioting that riddled the area last summer. Superstar after superstar from the worlds of pop, rap, dance and R&B stormed the six stages across Hackney Marshes to an audience of 50,000 each day, including Lana Del Ray, Example, Ed Sheeran,, Professor Green, Plan B, Jessie J, Dizzee Rascal, Kasabian, Florence & The Machine, David Guetta, Rizzle Kicks and opening act Leona Lewis. But the most anticipated attraction was undoubtedly Saturday’s Radio 1 Main Stage headline slot by US rapper Jay-Z, an icon of such status that his set was star-studded with surprise cameo performances from Rihanna, MIA and a finale encore with Kanye West. Jay-Z was fresh from his 57-date Watch The Throne tour with 26 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

the latter artist, which travelled across North America and Europe, ending in Birmingham the day before the Hackney Weekender. Jay-Z was keen to produce a unique one-off stage show especially for the headline slot. It was an electrifying set that featured an industrial looking 27ft high structure flickering intensely with bursts of white light, evoking scenes of an abandoned warehouse rave. As the first clapping beats of Run This Town start to resonate around the crowd, a central tower of white light flashes in time, whilst red moving heads search around the set, giving some indication of the enormous scale of the structure (lighting by Neg Earth). Jay-Z’s outline appears in front of the central video screen as his first guest star Rihanna emerges behind him to break into song. Creative Director / Designer Willo Perron and Show Producer / Designer Antony Randall need little introduction; their portfolio reads like a who’s who in global concert touring, from Jay-Z, Kanye and Drake, to Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Coldplay. Behind the scenes time was tight in terms of pre-production and the pressure was on to deliver a show that would be head and shoulders above other performers on the night. Antony Randall first turned to studio, set and staging company LS-Live, whom he had worked with on a number of hugely successful projects, to pull the production together. He said: “Willo’s vision was perfect for

Jay-Z and the BBC, but the sheer weight and size of the structure was going to be a massive problem for the festival. There was very little time to produce the show compounded by the challenge that Bobby Schneider and his production team were still out on the road with the Watch The Throne Tour. “In addition to this, the fact was this was a brand new show end to end, so we had a massive challenge on our hands. “I talked through the options with Bobby and the only way we could build and produce a show this size would be at LS-Live. We were going to need all hands on deck, and we needed the staging company, engineers and drawing team on hand throughout the building process.” LS-Live’s In-house Designer, Gareth Mallon, worked the client’s sketch of the proposed stage set into a realistic visual, refining the dimensions and architecture, and together with the team determined how the set should be built, devising a parts list from their decisions, which were based on delivering a professional looking set that was safe and robust. With the added benefit of having the 17,664 sq ft studio on site, LS-Live was able to pre-build the stage set predominantly using its off-theshelf standard hire stock of staging equipment. The set comprised two identical structures stage left and stage right, each designed to be a three-platform rectangular performance space. The frame was built from sections of 520 truss,


with a 6ft high space underneath, an eight foot high mezzanine level in the middle and a 6ft high platform at the top crowned by a polycarbonate roof, all 16ft long by 5ft deep. LS-Live added a 2’ extension on the back of each level to accommodate more backline for the performers and a 4ft by 4ft LiteDeck either side for a sub speaker to sit on. LS-Live’s industry standard LiteDeck stage decking was attached to the truss using ratchet straps, with a black carpet covering. It also provided a tiered rolling step unit to the back of each structure with access treads and a safety handrail to the rear of each mezzanine level. “We used four one tonne chainhoist motors from the roof of the studio to lift each corner of the truss whilst we built the next level from the ground,” explained Studio Coordinator, Adam ‘Bullet’ Bettley. “We brought in structural engineer Lee Covelrey of CCS to assess the structures’ weight loading capacity and structural calculations when Willo and Randall decided they wanted the entire structure to roll forward downstage during the performance. We wanted to examine what the point loads were that would be weighing down on the stage at the festival, which was a Serious Stages stage. “Then we implemented a

Brilliant Stages tracking system to make it move.” Sixteen Versa Tubes were attached inside the truss frame using scaf and couplers to achieve the flickering light effect. Video panels (provided by US company VER) formed a central tower of light and were also attached to the central sides of the structure to light up the platforms. Towards the middle of the set, the visuals intensify. The imposing structure behind Jay-Z continues to flood with piercing light at different locations in time to the beat. In one beat the band are lit up by a block of white light from the inner video screens, in the next beat all three levels of the platforms are highlighted by the strobing effect of the Versa Tubes positioned at equal intervals on the upper decks, and in the next the front of the stage becomes the focus as it’s flooded with light from the middle LED screen tower. The A-list star delivered an A-List performance, setting a great precedent for the Olympic borough. To watch the entire Jay-Z performance from the Radio 1 Hackney Weekend, visit the LS-Live Favourites section on its YouTube channel. To watch a timelapse of the stage build in the LS-Live studio visit the LS-Live YouTube channel. TPi SEPTEMBER 2012 • 27



UK Now in its 13th year, EFM is one of the leading logistics and freight companies in the events and entertainment industry, with offices in UK, Continental Europe, USA, Middle East and Australia, in addition to an extensive international agency network. EFM’s expansion has led the company to move their global headquarters and UK operations into brand new premises, incorporating a bespoke 17,000 sq ft, modern, high security warehouse, close to Heathrow Airport. Mike Llewellyn, Chairman of EFM Global Holdings, said, “We are very excited about our new facility which is perfect for the immediate requirements of EFM’s growing international business, but also allows us the space to further expand. We have signed a 10 year lease on the premises, investing in state of the art technology, top security and a first rate working environment for our staff. In addition we have guest offices and wireless access for our customers, specially built testing areas for our music clients, and ergonomic pick and pack

stations for sports teams and event organisers. Our staff and clients have been very impressed with the standard of the premises.” EFM has been growing from strength to strength around the world, with the EFM Germany team recently celebrating its five year anniversary with a client party, which took place during the Prolight + Sound Exhibition in Frankfurt. Representatives from all the EFM regional offices flew in to join Viktoria Breithecker, Regional Director for Germany, staff and clients at a BBQ which was attended by many familiar events industry faces. EFM Germany’s client base includes the famous German bands Rammstein and Kraftwerk, lighting, sound, video, special effects and production companies across Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Elsewhere in the Group, EFM Dubai moved into larger offices with a number of new staff joining the regional team ready for the 2012 / 2013 events season. And following an exceptionally busy few years of events for EFM in the State of Qatar, including the Doha Tribeca Film Festival, World Petroleum Congress, Asian Cup Football Championships and culminating in the Opening Ceremony of

the Pan Arab Games, the company has also expanded its presence in the region with the opening of a new office in Qatar earlier in 2012. After handling the logistics of moving all the equipment for the three night extravaganza that was Sir Philip Green’s 60th birthday celebration in Mexico, with performances by artists including Santana, Enrique, Robbie Williams, Cee Lo Green and Chris Brown, the EFM team headed straight into the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant at Windsor Castle, transporting uniforms, swords, instruments and even sombreros for the diverse international performers. The company has had a very busy Summer across all areas of the business, kicking off with Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine, an Australasian tour for Nutcracker on Ice, rugby tours to South Africa and the Pacific Islands, and world tours for artists including Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Justin Bieber, M83, Emeli Sandé, Lana del Rey and Two Door Cinema Club and culminating more recently with the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

A VOICE FOR LIVE EVENTS Responsibility, sustainability, cleaner, greener and more environmentally friendly – these are all issues faced by today’s festival and live event organisers in a bid to minimise their ecological footprint. While efforts from Burning Man’s ‘Leave no Trace’ to Glastonbury’s ‘Green Traveller’ initiatives have proved the organisers commitment to tackling environmental issues, ultimately it is the festival revellers’ responsibility to take an active role in reducing their environmental impact; the organiser can only provide the vehicle. With a focus on festivals and live events, the Event Live Summit features three days of thought provoking panels covering 28 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

sustainability; safety and security; and technology and special effects. Bringing together speakers from across the live event and entertainment venue spectrum it is an industry-open debate that tackles the wider issues affecting the industry. If you want the opportunity to challenge some of the world’s top festival executives in the middle of LA industry week, make sure the Event Live Summit is in your diary, February 5-7 2013. The Event Live Summit is one of the only opportunities to network with the industry at no cost. For more information on visiting for free or to view the full schedule, visit the website.

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30 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

NORTH AMERICA Faith No More, Marilyn Manson, Wolfmother and Machine Head hit the stage in France on July 7 and 8 with Adamson’s acclaimed Energia E15 system. All audio equipment was provided by Energia Beta partners MPM and Waveform Audio. Chief Audio Designer, Waveform’s, Julien Poirot, commented, “The E15 is just a perfect PA. There is amazing headroom and precision in the low frequency with a very powerful and clean mid/high section. This is just the Adamson touch.” Poirot’s design was executed with Adamson’s new software suite, Blueprint AV. Machine Head FOH Engineer, Craig ‘Bozz’ Porter, commented: “I’m really interested in the E15 now, I love the Y18’s with the T-21’s (Subs), but the E15 with the T21’s is the best Adamson rig I’ve heard.” Bozz had some time to evaluate and test the E15’s: “I got to feel it out and make some changes to see how it reacted, just basic stuff I normally do and specific things I do to specific PAs. I was very happy with the fidelity of the E15.” Bozz also mentioned how it’d be fantastic to have the system out on tour, to really familiarise himself with it. The main Apollo stage was setup inside an arena, with the B-stage setup outside surrounded by amenities and camping.

The Apollo stage was covered by 12 E15’s per side with two Metrix 15 degree enclosures as down fill and 20 Y10 enclosures for each out fill array. The stage measured 20m (66ft) wide by 19m (64ft) deep and utilised a stereo center fill, with two arrays of six (five degree) SpekTrix enclosures. On the ground nine T-21 subs were stacked per side in columns of three, with an additional two T21’s placed in the centre. Between the centre subs and side subs, four risers were erected with a single SpekTrix Sub and two SpekTrix five degree enclosures stacked for fill. Additional Metrix cabinets were also placed on the main T21 columns for fill. On the stage two M15’s with two stacked Metrix subs were used for line check, another 24 M15’s were used for stage monitoring, as well as two double 18-inch SpekTrix subwoofers for drum fill. Side fills on stage consisted four flown Y10’s with two ground stacked T21subs per side. The B-stage featured eight E15’s per side and 6 T21 Subs per side with four SX18 Front fills, and two Metrix W for lip fills. The PA was set-up for an audience of 6000, but on the second day of the festival, the organiser decided to move as many acts inside as possible, as incredibly heavy winds battered the stage. Unfortunately some bands did not play, but given recent tragedies around the world, it was the responsible action to take.


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THEO COX GETS SEAL OF APPROVAL WORLDWIDE Lighting Designer Theo Cox’s visual scheme for the current Seal world tour brings a fresh innovative approach, mixing the mediums of lighting, video and automation into a stunning asymmetric swirl of drama, suggestion and energy. The design has proved extremely popular, and won much industry acclaim as the tour completed its first Australian and US legs, and is ready to hit Europe later in the autumn. UK based Cox first worked with the multiaward winning musician / singer-songwriter Seal in summer 2011, and was then approached to create a design concept for the upcoming Soul 2 tour. Given a largely open brief for the design, it had to be adaptable to a variety of different venue sizes, ultimately tourable and use kit that could be sourced worldwide as well as fitting into an expedient truck pack. Evoking a clean, elegant and dynamically different look onstage was at the very core of the design. The only set onstage is a pair of risers, and so the stage architecture is defined by seven movable pods, each fitted with a 1350mm by 2700mm portrait-orientated video screen. A single Clay Paky Sharpy is rigged to the bottom of each pod, with two Martin Atomic Strobes and Colour Scrollers on the rear of the frame assembly, and a 4-lite Mole at the top. Before the tour commenced, Cox persuaded the band to re-work their stage layout so the drums were now off-centre. This avoided the often distracting conventional set up with the drum kit positioned immediately behind the main artist, and allowed better use of the central screens Video wiz, James Cooksey, of Basic Monkey was also invited on board, and together he and Cox started work on creating and sourcing new 32 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

video content for the tour, run from a Catalyst media server, and researched the best screen options to support the pod design and desired look and feel of the performance space. They decided on Flyer 12 in Australia, upgrading to Pixled F-11 in the US. The lightweight transparent surfaces were an ideal low-weight solution, and also perfect for allowing the full impact of lights when blasting through from behind. The pods move into different positions throughout the show, adding a stunning new dynamic and extra depth to the visuals. Songs without video also benefit as the position of the screens also determines the position of the lights mounted on them. In Australia, they utilised a Kinesys automation system with Vector control. In the US this changed to a ShowRig winch system with Navigator control, which will also be used on the European tour. The winch system provides many benefits including fast, smooth running, reduced noise and rig time and taking up less truck space. They were able to fully integrate both Catalyst and Navigator systems so the media server constantly received positional information from the winch system. The screens were able to run continuous wave motion effects whilst displaying a coherent image - like seeing through moving windows to a large screen behind. The rear truss also moves - flying in to fill the gap when the screens are in their lower positions. The video clips are triggered by a mixture of time-code and manual cues, run either directly from the Catalyst or cued from Cox’s HES Road Hog Full Boar lighting console. Lighting is based around a hub of Philips Vari-Lite 3000 Spots and 3500 Washes, with VL 2500 Washes for key lighting and kickers, and VL 2500 Spots for back lighting. Cox’s lighting base concepts included having

individual moving back and key lights for each of the eight band members, and plenty of scope for flash and bang interest. For maximum flexibility and time efficiency, the rig was also designed so no manual focusing was necessary. Powerful spot and wash moving lights were required as the primary moving sources, with minimal floor based ‘clutter’. Having a handful of movers, strobes and generics at his disposal on automated pods was also one of the original intentions, allowing ‘moving moving lights’ and serious asymmetry. Cleverly evading the potential cheese factor, Cox incorporated both an LED Starcloth and a spectacular 32-inch mirror ball into the design, the latter dropping in on another winch from the mid truss during I’ll Be Around and at several other strategic points in the show. This creates a great wow factor and contrast to the rest of the set, which is based on tasteful beam structures, fluid movements, well orchestrated video and sharp timing. Lighting, rigging and automation equipment was supplied by Chameleon in Australia, with video by Big Picture. In the US, LMG were the lighting and video contractors with rigging and automation from ShowRig. Working alongside Cox on Seal’s international touring crew was Lighting Crew Chief, Tony Fagan, and Production Manager, J. Chris Lantz, ably assisted by Andy Neitzert. The US crew comprised Barley Wood as Catalyst Operator, Klaus Becker on dimmers, Lighting Tech, Brian Bukovinsky, Michael Booch as automation operator and rigger Neil ‘Trey’ Welch. Cox summed up, “This was a great opportunity to design a beautiful, vibrant show for an artist I respect a lot, and I am extremely pleased with the result.”


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CLAY PAKY SHARPYS JOIN MOTLEY CRUE TOUR USA Clay Paky Sharpy fixtures are hitting the road with the North American summer tour of iconic rock band Motley Crue, which is co-headlining tour dates across the country with KISS. A complement of approximately 90 Sharpys have joined the Motley Crue / KISS lighting inventory. “I first saw Sharpys at the Ultra Music Fest almost two years ago,” said Lighting Director, Mike Cooper. “The lighting designer had a huge Clay Paky rig and a row of Sharpys on the stage, and I was blown away. I thought I had to use them.” Since then Cooper has deployed Sharpys on the Godsmack / Staind tour and Motley Crue appearances in Europe. “I love them: Their speed is awesome, and they can cut through anything,” he reported. “We have a full rig of 1500-watt lights, but the Sharpys just cut through everything.” Lighting and Production Designer, Sooner Routhier, and Robert Long call Sharpy “an amazing light that’s perfect for rock ’n roll. We’ve used them at some festivals and have been specking them for tours. We love the sharp beams, brightness, speed and great lensing - Clay Paky has always had amazing lensing.” On the Motley Crue tour Routhier and business partner, Robert Long use Sharpys on the floor and surrounding the band’s Tommy (Roller) Coaster in a 360° for “cool circular effects.” Cooper notes that “the Sharpys are able to handle the vibration” of the roller coaster with no ill effects. They also like to “see Sharpys in groups of three or four or a straight line where we have loads of them - they give a jail-bar look”. The robust fixtures have been “working awesome,” she said. “We’ve never had any problems with them.” A.C.T Lighting is the distributor for Clay Paky in North America. Francesco Romagnoli, Clay Paky Area Manager for North and Latin America, added, “Rock ‘n’ roll tours are really where the Sharpys excel. It’s great to see them on so many tours this summer and we’re proud to have them on Motley Crue.” 34 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

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PRG AT SOMERSET HOUSE UK Set in the spectacular courtyard of one of London’s most celebrated historic buildings, Summer Series at Somerset House featured a program of diverse music acts playing a series of special shows between 7 and 19 July. Working with Production Managers Ronnie Lee for Metropolis Music and Jon Howes for Somerset House, PRG’s Senior Account Manager Loz Wilcox provided a lighting system for the temporary stage at Somerset House. Jon Howes said, “Nothing but praise for the kit supplied to Somerset House once again. PRG’s service and back up was excellent.” PRG supplied house Lighting Designer, Petter Skramstad, with a core lighting package of Clay Paky Alpha Spot 700 HPE, i-Pix BB4 LED Battens, Martin Atomic Strobes and GLP Impression 120 Zoom LED Washlights, combining to provide an enormously flexible

house rig suitable for the broad range of performers and visiting LDs. Skramstad commented: “I was very pleased you could at a very busy time, supply all the GLPs and the Clay Paky range. They are fantastic workhorses that fulfilled all our needs and beyond. They are bright, modern, light weight and very reliable. All the incoming LDs commented on their qualities and everyone appreciated having all the same type of units. All in all it was all a great success and a huge thanks to all staff for a really well prepped job. I can’t stress enough that on every job, I receive incredible support from Loz and his team.” Australian musical cabaret superstar Tim Minchin kicked off proceedings with a bang on July 7, paving the way for 11 nights of truly eclectic programming; ranging from the slinky urban soul of Jill Scott to the chart smashing pop of dubstep breakthrough Katy B; to the darker, more dramatic palettes of Anna Calvi and Paloma Faith.

VIVA LA VICTORIA: MEXICO CELEBRATED 150TH ANNIVERSARY OF CINCO DE MAYO WITH GRANDMA2 CONSOLES MEXICO Mexico undoubtedly knows how to celebrate. When the country recently marked the 150th anniversary of Cinco de Mayo – the commemoration of the Battle of Puebla, which halted an invasion by the French – it pulled out all the stops with an array of festivities and special events. grandMA2 lighting consoles were on hand for the Cinco de Mayo Spectacular, the night time gala orchestrated by Five Currents, the production company for the 2011 Pan American Games Ceremonies in Guadalajara Mexico and countless other spectacles. The Cinco de Mayo Spectacular, hosted by former Miss Universe Ximena Navarrette, featured star-studded tributes, an appearance by the Mexican president and a massive display of fireworks. It was staged at the Guadalupe Fort in Puebla; the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Televisa broadcast the event nationwide. 36 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

Lighting Designer, David Grill, of David Grill Associates, Inc. in Mahwah, New Jersey, specified a grandMA2 for control of some 375 moving lights during the spectacular and utilised a second grandMA2 full-size as a backup console. A grandMA2 light served as the focus console remote. Solotech furnished the complete system. “There was a massive main stage for the headline talent,” he reported. “Then there was the fort in the background. And the hill between the two that was a performance area as well. So everything in the environment was really part of the shot.” Grill opted for the grandMA2 “because of the strength of their networking,” he said. “Stuff was everywhere, so we needed the efficiency of using the MA network. It made things really simple thanks to its processing speed. The way the system deals with effects enabled us to quickly do things that would have been much more time consuming on other consoles. We could also create all sorts of little visual mapping tools that made life much easier.

All of this from a system dramatically more userfriendly than anything else.” He added that, “We had great support from MA in transitioning from grandMA, which we had been using, to grandMA2. And A.C.T took good care of us.” Lighting Director and Programmer, Paul Sonnleitner, was accustomed to doing shows of the scale of the spectacular, but this was his first with grandMA2. “I really liked the layout feature, which helped me manage the three distinct areas,” he said. “I could actually draw out where the fixtures fell. It’s a great tool for large rigs: You can see what colour they’re in, what gobo. You can see the whole rig as a unit and grab large areas and change things without knowing the fixtures’ channel number.” He also praise the grandMA2’s effects engine, which “has come a long way. It’s fun to build effects from scratch and add them to the MA toolkit.” Photos - © M & M Production Mgmt


VME BACKS MARTIN AUDIO’S MLA PLATFORM UK Northern events production company purchases System 30 to meet expanding large format requirements. It has been quite a year for Knutsford, Cheshire-based VME Ltd. Not only did the broadcast and production company consolidate all stock and transport into a new 28,000 sq ft facility on an eightacre site, they also ensured that pride of place in the new warehouse would be given to its newly-acquired Martin Audio MLA Multi-cellular loudspeaker array system. The company, which offers a wide range of equipment and services to the entertainment, touring, corporate and broadcast industries, confirmed the purchase of the large format System 30 back in Spring at the Prolight+Sound Show in Frankfurt. This was designed to give them a front-line system for large arena and festival work, to complement the mid-sized system already in their inventory. In committing the company to the awardwinning MLA platform, VME Directors, Dion and Andre Davie, declared their intent to add large-scale concert touring to a versatile work roster that also includes festival work, along with summer classical concerts in stately homes and smaller scale touring. “The MLA acquisition represents the biggest single investment we’ve ever made,” declared Dion Davie. The new system, consisting of 18 MLA full range elements, two MLD downfills and 10 MLX subs, quickly enjoyed high profile outings with Jessie J in front of 14,000 people at The Quarry in Shrewsbury (the town’s biggest ever outdoor concert), and later with the same artiste at Alnwick Castle. The acquisition marked the end of an 1838 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

month search that saw VME audition many of the industry’s leading systems. VME’s first exposure to the Martin Audio system came at its launch in Frankfurt two and a half years ago, as it attended the ‘invitationonly’ seminar presented by Martin Audio Research & Development Director, Jason Baird. The company was equally impressed with the later launch of the MLA Compact down in London, which they will consider adding at a later stage. “We couldn’t believe that so much sound was being produced from 12 Compact boxes a side,” noted Davie. “We realised in MLA that this represents the future of audio. It provides unbelievably even coverage, it’s very simple and easy to rig and it will throw 200 metres.” The service company also notes the truck pack advantages of a fully integrated system, along with its ease of flying and plug and play attributes. But although he believes the acquisition of MLA will mean they are no longer ‘travelling under the radar’ in the concert touring world, equally its greatest attribute will be as a sales tool to approach councils who have noise issues, recognising that sound containment is a hot issue. The system’s amazing ability to appease the noise police by tapering off the sound to prevent spillage was well known to VME. It had monitored the Antwerp experiment, where MLA was rigged in a market square for an Amnesty International concert, and thanks to the sophisticated software, produced almost zero leakage onto the surrounding businesses and cafés. VME then put it to the test themselves during the evaluation period at Battersea Power Station where the Freeze Festival was taking place. Since the event has a history of

noise complaints, VME brought along Martyn ‘Ferrit’ Rowe, Martin Audio’s Technical Training Manager, to mitigate the noise damage by notching out unwanted areas of coverage and thereby preventing spill. “It did exactly what was promised,” declared Davie. “The results were remarkable, the sound was excellent and the number of complaints dropped right off.” Under the weight of a burgeoning workload, MLA now joins VME’s inventory of AV equipment, some 40 generators, screens, lighting and ground support (operated by sister companies Euro Screens and Euro Generators). VME is looking forward to joining a growing community of MLA users, providing opportunities for cross-hiring - but as Dion Davie emphasises, the company are hardly newcomers to providing concert support. It started the Wakestock Festival in Cardigan Bay, North Wales 11 years ago, provided major support recently for McFly as well as Creation Fest, the Christian Music Festival in Woolacombe, Devon, where among other things they provided 50 motors. And of course, the full system (with two 10-box hangs and five subs per side) has supported those KAL Music Jessie J shows. Having completed three days of MLA induction training recently - in which 12 engineers underwent the course provided by Martin Audio’s Andy Davies in the new dedicated training room - VME are now ready for the challenges ahead. “We see MLA as an opportunity to be a front runner for a change and become part of a network,” Davie concluded. “We think once people become aware of this system it will go crazy.”




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TPi HEADLINES SEPTEMBER 2012 ONLINE NOW... MONTREUX JAZZ FESTIVAL Imagine a beautiful location, a genius lineup and the pro audio abilities of some of the world’s leading manufacturers with select engineers in tow. This renowned jazz festival is so prestigious that the crews still gush some 46 years after the event was conceived. TPi’s Kelly Murray was lucky enough to get the story from the sponsors behind the scenes at one of the festival calendar’s most sought-after events. Read all about it, from Switzerland with love...

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ON THE ROAD: Cirque du Soleil

MICHAEL JACKSON: THE IMMORTAL WORLD TOUR HONOURING THE UNDISPUTED KING OF POP THROUGH A TRUE HYBRID OF CIRCUS PERFORMANCES, ROCK ‘N’ ROLL ETHICS AND WORLD CLASS PRODUCTION, CIRQUE DU SOLEIL’S MAGNIFICENT ACROBATS PERFORM THE LIFE AND SOUL OF A 21ST CENTURY LEGEND. THE ICON’S MEMORY AND WORK IS TOLD THROUGH A DANCE SPECTACULAR WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY JAMIE KING. AS A LIFELONG FAN OF THE LATE POP STAR, TPi’S KELLY MURRAY VISITED TORONTO, CANADA, TO SEE THE SHOW AHEAD OF ITS EUROPEAN DEBUT WITH THE BRAND NEW MEYER SOUND LEO IN TOW. THE OUTCOME WAS TECHNICALLY OUTSTANDING. When TPi meets with the Cirque du Soleil technical crew at the Toronto production of Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour, there is just two weeks left in North America before a six-month European schedule starts and continues throughout Japan and Asia until December 2013. It’s the second time that the production has been to the city, and the demand for seats is still rife. As Production Manager, Andy ‘Andy O’ Omilianowski, told us: “We go wherever Michael Jackson is popular... so the world basically! “Unfortunately, this is now the closest you’ll ever get to Michael Jackson due to his passing. But his family had a lot to do with the show 42 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

and what goes on, from production values to images, they had an input. For example, you’re going to hear, when you see the show, Michael’s voice pre-recorded and the band even has a couple of members who played with him when he toured. This is unlike any other Cirque show that’s ever been; it’s a lot more dance orientated than acrobatic but we still do have a lot of the flying elements and performers.” In total there are 210 people working on this one production, but the success of Cirque du Soleil means that around 850 personnel will be working on productions worldwide at any one time. The technical staff in this case travel in busses like a normal rock ‘n’ roll show, and if the trip is over four hours long, the dancers will get

a charter plane. Andy O coordinates a 10-hour set up which starts at 6am.“We take care of people very well out here, and we have the best technicians in the world, we all work for a gentleman named Jake Berry. He’s like the Godfather of production managing. Jake has the techniques and he’s taught us well. Sometimes, it’s all about the load out and he has the know-how in his head. “He knows how to move big entities like this quickly, cost effectively, so that’s why Cirque brought him in as a Consultant,” continued the PM. “There are bigger Cirque tours volume wise, but they sit in a room for weeks or months, where as this moves a lot; we’re in two or three cities a week.”

ON THE ROAD: Cirque du Soleil

Opposite and below: Michael Jackson’s back catalogue was given a new perspective by the artistic interpretation of Cirque du Soleil.

After U2’s 360° tour, which Berry production managed, he then brought in a whopping 40 of his crew to work on Immortal. “We always check in with each other,” said Andy O. “He’s only a phone call away if I ever need anything. Jake and Opie [Dale ‘Opie’ Skjerseth] are my mentors and I’m fortunate and blessed enough to get to work with both of them, as an up-and-coming Production Manager. We all have a good attitude and strive to make the show 100% right for the people who paid to come and see it,” he enthused. THE DESIGN PROCESS Before Andy O was involved on the touring side of the production as a PM, there is an in-house one from Cirque du Soleil who worked on the creation. Then it is inherited and made to function on a very technical level. The design process for the tour started a few weeks after Michael Jackson passed away yet the concept had been well underway for years as Martine Gauthier, the tour’s Technical Stage Manager, explained. “Michael was a big fan of Cirque du Soleil, he’d seen almost every production. He came to visit our facilities in Montreal in 2006 because for Michael, it was so important for him to meet the people in person. In his mind, he had this incredible desire to create something amazing with us,” noted Gauthier. The creative aspects had been in planning way in advance of the King

Of Pop’s untimely death. “We have five or six shows out in one year and it takes two years of planning a show before you even think about fabrication. We already had a huge team working on the creation and it was two days after the sad news broke that a phone call came from Michael’s mother giving the go ahead for the tour because this is what he wanted. We started the process a few weeks after he passed away. Jamie King [Director and Choreographer] danced with Michael when he was younger so it was a great feeling to get him working on this too,” he added. Mark Fisher [Madonna, Batman Live] was the Show Designer. “When we saw the first drawings, we were blown away,” said Gauthier. A show this big, carrying the name of Michael Jackson was a gigantic and ambitious notion. “We wanted pryo, and to use a lot of lights. And Michael won’t be jealous,” joked Gauthier. “He’s looking down on us, happy because he wanted this, he is with us all the way. Everything we do is ‘Michael Jackson standard’ – big, creative and the very best.” “And that’s just the creation element,” added Andy O. “Then it goes into the production side when all the ideas come together and we have to find the manufacturers to physically build the stages and such. It was a lot larger than this before we started touring it, so it would only fit into a select few venues, now it’s downsized so it can be moved easily.”

In fact, the massive weight was successfully decreased from 200,000 to 130,000 lbs of hanging technical kit in time for its world premier in Montreal last October. Andy O continued: “We’ve had the record for the most trucks coming into an arena, so it’s good to know that we’re doing something right!” There was significant family approval upon seeing the show come together too. Gauthier revealed, “Some of Michael’s brothers were with us during the rehearsal process, so we had this incredible opportunity to have Tito there. And we were getting some notes from Grandma, the affectionate name given to Michael Jackson’s mother, Katherine.” As Cirque du Soleil IS primarily famous for producing tent shows, once it started to branch out into arena touring the possibilities to evolve became apparent. The design of Immortal sees a load-in, a show take place on the first night, and then a load-out and travel schedule overnight, in essence, a rock ‘n’ roll mentality in a circus environment. KEY SUPPLIERS To literally get the show on the road, there was a huge team effort from several suppliers, but variety is key to success for Cirque du Soleil. “Throughout the tour, we have an excellent relationship with our suppliers. Every supplier has their own speciality, so we get the best out here, for our needs, and make sure it can TPi SEPTEMBER 2012 • 43

ON THE ROAD: Cirque du Soleil

Below: Cirque du Soleil has some of the most talented gymnasts in the world today; the Neverland stage prop was a replica of the real ranch gate; acrobatic rigging and automation was a matter of trust, skill and precise timing for both the engineers and the performers; the tour has amassed a wardrobe of 250 costumes.

withstand the tour. We have to know we won’t have to fix things everyday,” said Gauthier. “At Cirque du Soleil, there is not one special supplier who will constantly work with us, and it’s important that we establish a relationship with suppliers from around the world. Solotech are based in Montreal, they started in 1976 and Cirque was then born in June 84 and now has HQs in both Montreal and Las Vegas.” Cirque du Soleil asked Solotech to provide a world-class system for sound, lighting, video and rigging. A total of 24 of Solotech’s best specialist technicians install, operate and maintain night after night this state-of-the art equipment. Andy O shared the sentiment: “Suppliers are decided on at the end by the right quotes and the quality of services they can provide. These are the type of companies who just help each other out, which is great for a PM and Technical Stage Manager. It was my first time working with Solotech so I went to their facility and it was just immaculate. I’m very happy to have them out here, they’re a huge benefit to this show, and any show they vendor for. Richard Lechance is Vice President, Touring and my ‘goto’ guy at Solotech. He is who I call for crew, logistics, anything.” Jake Berry Productions has also specified vendors including Wi Creations for video staging, Brilliant Stages and Tait for staging, Pyrotek Special Effects Inc and Laser Design Production Inc for pyro and special FX, Senators Coaches, Truck N Roll!, Latitude 45 Catering, Cat Entertainment for power, Cube Services for 44 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

passes and itineraries are via Smart Art. GREEN CATERING On a demanding and physical show such as this, health is also vital to the longevity of the tour. “We carry our own catering crew with us. Nutritional values and specialty food for religious reasons, keeping the kids in good shape is important.” commented Andy O. Wesley Tischoff, Catering Crew Chief from Latitude 45 (which is run by Chelsea and Chris Mitchell) explained how the whole environment of touring with this particular production has been a real career highlight. “As far as catering gigs go, this has been one of the most enjoyable of my 10 year career as a tour caterer. This is directly attributed to the pleasant and kindhearted nature of the entire cast, crew and management. These people are simply the best!” he said. “As far as the green element of the tour, the Cirque corporation is extremely environmentally conscious, and we are proud to say that we have successfully reduced the carbon footprint of the tour through the use of water dispensers, recycling bins, and bio degradables for all togo wares. A tour this size has been known to consume up to 65 cases of bottled water daily, and we’ve got it down to a mere seven,” noted Tischoff. “The crew are also fantastic eaters, which, from a catering standpoint, is a great bonus. The daily lunch menus range from your classic ‘roadie comfort food’ such as gratinéed mac and cheese and bacon cheeseburgers to a wide

range of super healthy, high energy, low fat athlete food including lentils, brown rice, quinoa and fresh broiled fish with lemon. “Our pastry chef makes a massive array of homemade desserts daily, which do include vegan and gluten free options. Fresh fruits, and a vegetable juicer are also available around the clock. Let me tell you; those juicers have clocked up more mileage than my ‘88 Honda Civic!” he joked. “Overall, it’s really nice to have clients that are interested in food, flavour and good health, it really brings out our passion for food as a catering team. Beyond food, what we also really enjoy is the opportunity to get to know the people who are eating our food. Most people in the food industry experience a greater degree of social separation between the food service staff and the customers. This is one of the things I cherish most about being a tour caterer,” Tischoff concluded. “Thanks to everyone on this tour, Cirque has been the most rewarding 11 months of my life and I would do it again in a heartbeat!” THE PUBLIC RESPONSE Cirque du Soleil’s Laura Silverman explained the impact this tour has had on the public: “The response has been overwhelmingly positive! We’ve been fortunate to sell out most shows and people have really responded well - telling us how much they love the show, the acts, the music, and how much they miss Michael. But more importantly, Michael’s family saw the show and shared with us that this is a show that


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ON THE ROAD: Cirque du Soleil

Below: Senators Coaches transported the crew like a rock ‘n’ roll tour; Craig Reid, Head Acrobatic Rigger; Eric ‘Frenchy’ Belanger with his MA Lighting grandMA2 console; two-time world champion poledancer, Felix Cane.

he would’ve really loved, which is all that we can ask for. “We are here to celebrate the legacy of Michael Jackson - his music, voice, artistry, messages - and all that he left behind. This is a true celebration of whom he was as an artist, which is an easy thing to embrace. “This is extremely different than any other Cirque du Soleil show. Immortal is Cirque du Soleil meets a rock / pop concert. Audiences will see all the acrobatics that they are used to seeing in a Cirque du Soleil show paired with high energy dance moves, stellar costumes [of which there is 250!], and of course, Michael Jackson’s music. It is really something special, bringing together two powerful entities that thrive on creating groundbreaking art and pushing the limits!” Silverman told TPi. INTRODUCING THE LEO Immortal’s Sound Designer, Frankie Desjardins, explained the concept behind creating the sound for the tour: “For the MJ tour, we were looking for a high power system that can be as

light as possible. At that time, the conventional way to power the PA (amplifiers on the ground, away from the speakers) seemed to be the right solution for this application, since the conventionally powered speakers are lighter. “However, I did not want to have the amplifiers 100m away from the loudspeakers. So I called Meyer Sound and checked if they had a solution. They had one that was almost ready... With the help of Solotech, we participated in the final stages of the development of Meyer Sound’s new product, the LEO,” he explained. The standard flown configuration for the tour, which was rigged this way in Toronto comprised 28 cabinets of the pre-release version of the LEO-M loudspeaker and four MICA - main left and right - 16 700-HP flown subs left and right. There was also 12 of the LEO-M model and eight MICA per side. Desjardins furthered: “With this configuration, we are able to address pretty much any size venue. For front fills we use a selection of UPA-1Ps and UPJ-1Ps. In the drive, we use a multiple of Galileo 616’s to drive the

entire system. “In the design process, I had a few ideas about what kind of processing we should use, but this had to be discussed with the main mixer. After all, he is the one using it everyday... When I sat down with Tim Colvard - the original mixer - he laid down an interesting line up of vintage gear to use on the project. We pretty much kept his original concept and I think the mix of old technology with state of the art equipment gives a great result.” There is a retrofit taking place in September for the European production leg of the tour. But, the original sound design concept should remain intact except for the upgrade of the under stage subs to the new Meyer Sound 1100-LFCs and the upgrade to the new Callisto processors in the drive system. “I think the end result is amazing: we reached our goal in almost every aspect of the design. We have great, uniform coverage of the audience and we have great flexibility from the electronics so the creative process was not limited by the hardware.” Desjardins concluded.

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46 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

ON THE ROAD: Cirque du Soleil

Below: Production Manager, Andy ‘Andy O’ Omilianowski; FOH Engineer Martin ‘Rocker’ Pare on his Solotech supplied DiGiCo SD7; Automation Stage Operator, Chris Davis used Kinesys, Stage Technologies and Fisher Navigator equipment for operations; the video crew: Louis-Philippe Gaudreau and Crew Chief, Jean-Francois ‘J-F’ Marin.

A PARTNERSHIP MADE FOR THE ROAD Meyer Sound Laboratories recently announced the appointment of Luke Jenks to the position of Product Manager for Loudspeakers, previously Director of European Technical Support. Based in Utrecht, the Netherlands, Jenks now provides Technical Support and Design Services to Meyer Sound customers in Europe, and works directly with Meyer Sound’s engineering, education, and marketing personnel to provide both dealers and end users with expertise on the operation and performance of new Meyer Sound loudspeakers. In the UK and Europe, as stated, a full Meyer Sound LEO linear large-scale sound reinforcement system will be used on the tour. Designed for today’s large-scale live productions, the LEO system comprises LEO-M main line array loudspeakers, 1100-LFC lowfrequency control element, and the Galileo Callisto loudspeaker management system. The tour requires extensive video and lighting equipment, leaving significantly less weight allowance for the loudspeaker setup than before. The brand new LEO system directly tackles these key challenges, including weight limitations and headroom requirements for the smaller UK and European venues. Other concerns that are addressed include HF horn accuracy, the size of the touring package, setup and teardown time, consistency, and reliability. Jenks told TPi: “LEO is a complete system 48 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

solution that covers the entire audio chain starting from the output of a console through to the listener. Solotech and Meyer Sound have been working together since the 1980’s and Solotech has about 2,000 Meyer Sound loudspeakers in its rental stock. Tours that Solotech has supported using Meyer Sound equipment include Cirque du Soleil shows, Celine Dion, Michael Buble, Leonard Cohen, Andre Rieu and the Montreal Jazz Festival.” Meyer Sound designed this system and worked closely with Solotech leading up to system deployment for the tour. And the Meyer Sound team is available for support as and when required. “This tour presents a incredible opportunity to work with Frankie, Solotech, Cirque and the music of Michael Jackson on our new system,” said Jenks. “The process leading up to the tour and the tour itself have been tremendously helpful for the Meyer Sound product team. The LEO system has performed beyond our expectations, filling all the arenas that Immortal visited without the need for a delay system. “Most importantly, LEO is delivering a new level of sound reinforcement to the audience regardless of the limitations in modern touring. The combination of Frankie’s system design, Solotech’s professionalism and the LEO system allow for the hard work of so many talented performers, musicians and designers to shine through to the audience like never before,” added Jenks.

John Meyer, CEO, Meyer Sound described the company’s relationship with the vendor and the tour: “Solotech presented us with a challenge that we couldn’t pass up: how do you provide extremely long-throw clarity and headroom for an arena touring package in which every single ounce counts? This project targets these very requirements that are paramount in today’s sophisticated live spectacles. We’re thrilled with the opportunity to collaborate with Solotech and push the performance boundaries of large-scale sound reinforcement.” FOH AND MONITOR WORLD When it comes to the tour’s desks, Sound Designer Desjardins highlighted: “When it was time to put this show on the road, we needed a console that can manage around 160 inputs. Since this show is supposed to go on the road for years, I wanted a platform that will clock a higher rate (96k) and that will not be obsolete in a few months. So, the obvious choice at the time was the DiGiCo SD7.” Following eight years at Solotech, Quebec city based System & PA Tech, Martin ‘Rocker’ Pare, is using the SD7 and stated: “I have worked on Cirque shows twice before. I didn’t spec the console but it’s perfect; it sounds great, and it’s ideal for this application. “This show is different, usually a Cirque show is quieter with a focus on the acrobatics, but this one has an emphasise on the music. For

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ON THE ROAD: Cirque du Soleil

Below: FOH Engineer Martin ‘Rocker’ Pare; the Meyer Sound LEO was debuted on this tour and flown alongside technical kit and artists on the 130lb rig; Security Director, Tony Robinson; the Latitude 45 catering crew supplied a mean mixture of roadie comfort food and super healthy athlete food.

audio, we have to see this as a concert rather than a circus show, its less dB than a pop or rock concert, but only just,” said Rocker. Indeed, the main removed obstacle when working with sound levels is that Immortal is an arena tour, not a show designed to be seen in a tent environment; a regular Cirque show might run at 90dB, but this one runs at 105dB. Rocker says of the SD7 on this tour, “It’s less about features and more about the quality of the sound coming out. When I started working with digital boards, it was difficult to see all the screens, a lot of designs were on sub menus and you scroll and scroll. With DiGiCo, you know exactly what you see is what you get; everything is in front of you as it should be. The interface is great.” Like many of the audiences who watch the show, for Rocker, being a part of the Michael Jackson experience is something very special. “We have the live band but then all Michael’s own voice, so it has a lot of emotion in it from the recordings, so you’ll hear him breathe, or playing a harmonica, and his foot tapping, things you pick up on like that. The sound is so clear, I can hear things in his voice that I’d never heard before, and it’s amazing. When I was told I was going to be doing this show for the first time I was like ‘Oh my god!’ it was such an honour,” he smiled. “This show is crazy to mix, everything has been remixed by Kevin Antunes [the show’s Musical Designer], and the big challenge has been that the vocals are pre-reverb. But Kevin 50 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

has done a great job, and I like having this challenge every night.” MONITORS Over in monitor world, Rey Petruzzielo told TPi, “I previously worked on another Cirque du Soleil arena tour called Delirium [mixing FOH] for Solotech. “The Project Manager from Solotech for this tour suggested me for a back-up monitor position. I wasn’t the first monitor mixer but another engineer, Alastair MacMillan, [Bono / U2] was there to start the tour. After a while he decided to prioritise his family life, so he left the tour and I got the job. Frankie chose the system and I helped to put it together,” said Petruzzielo. “We are running the SD7 with seven digital racks, around 130 inputs at 96Khz resolution, all connected with Optocore. This adds up to an amazing sound. The preamps just sound fantastic, detailed, and clean,” he thought. On stage, four MSL-4 (two per side) were used for side fill. These were mainly positioned for the dancers. A total of 11 stereo mixes are then created for the band. “We are using Sennheiser SR2050 transmitters and EK2000 Receiver packs. The band’s ear molds are a mix of JH Audio J-16 and Ultimate Ears UE-18 and Capitol Reference monitors,” said Petruzzielo. For much of the tour, Petruzzielo mainly makes sure that the instrument levels are consistent from show to show and monitors the vocals, which change in levels fairly often. “I’m

also there for any requests the band may have and to reassure them that someone is keeping an eye on them,” he concluded. RIGHTEOUS RF Charles Déziel also previously worked on Delirium. “I’ve worked with Solotech for a long time. On this occasion, I look after the radio frequency coordination and communication systems,” said Déziel. “There are many prerigged in the stage so it’s no more than a few hours to get it up and running.” More than 60 channels of RF are necessary, and each person is on their own channel. All wireless mics are Sennheiser with an additional a mix of Neumann, Audio-Technica and DPA. Déziel cites the frequencies difficult to manage in North America as being New York and LA. “The biggest challenge was to learn the communication system used here, which is Riedel Artists System,” confessed Déziel. “It was my first time with it, but I’ve adapted to it well. Other than that, I’ve been doing this for many years now that it’s become second nature.” MICS ON STAGE Saxophonist Mike Phillips clipped on Harman’s AKG C519ML microphone to his instrument, while monitoring the show through AKG’s IVM4500 IEM in-ear monitoring system for the current second-largest grossing world tour. “This show is loud, a lot is going on musically and visually, so it’s important to ensure all aspects of the music are picked up and heard

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ON THE ROAD: Cirque du Soleil

Below: The Air Canada Centre hosted the tour in Toronto; the choreography was directed by Jamie King, who once danced with Michael Jackson himself; artists perfect their daily warm ups before sound check; the video and stage props drew audiences into the world of Neverland.

clearly,” stated Phillips. “When I signed on to the Immortal tour, I told my producers I could only use AKG; I needed that reliability and quality to ensure the great Michael Jackson’s music was held to a level of precision that would make him, his family and fans proud.” The visual show saw Phillips move all around the set, which has multiple pieces from the actual set of the tragically cancelled This Is It tour. Utilising AKG’s WMS4500 wireless system, his mic provided a clear sound from his WMS body transmitter anywhere on stage. “We’re not stationary in any aspect,” Phillips continued. “Throughout the show, I am on the sides of the stage, on top of the sets running around constantly. The AKG WMS system is very reliable and doesn’t cut out when I’m moving. It’s one less worry while performing.” During the three-continent tour, the band will record a live album. According to Phillips, the AKG C519ML mic does a great job picking up his saxophone, preventing bleeding from the other instruments in the band. On off-nights, Phillips books smaller jazz shows in the cities where he performs. With three solo albums, all of which debuted in the top five on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Charts, Phillips has sold more than 500,000 albums. With his own separate, personal arsenal of AKG, including an additional C519ML and IVM4500 monitoring set, he can easily drop into jazz clubs across the world, plug in and play. “The reliability, durability and quality of 52 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

AKG is apparent whether I’m performing solo or with the Immortal tour,” Phillips said. “AKG is my go-to system and I couldn’t imagine my sound the way it is with another mic or wireless combination.” LIGHTING THE LEGACY “I’m using an MA Lighting grandMA2 console, and a lot of Cirque shows use this desk because they like to have the familiarity. The shows are often long, so it’s easier if someone falls sick or has to leave, that the replacement will know how to use the exact same lighting console,” explained Eric Belanger, Lighting Board Op and touring Lighting Director. “I like the time code feature on this desk, and I’ve been working with the MA2 a lot over the last two years.” The road director cites this and High End Systems Wholehogs as his favourite consoles to work with. The whole show is systematically saved on scenes, and Belanger has an incredible 6200 cues, 300 of which are manually lead and the rest programmed, “The original idea, [by Lighting Designer Martin Labrecque] had his first creative meeting at Neverland - Michael Jackson’s funfair style home - so all the ideas and the concepts of having the show in Neverland happened there.” During the show, the gate seen on stage is a replica of the gate at the Neverland ranch. There are a lot of scenic elements in terms of the stage looking like Neverland and so the lighting

design is different than if there was a solo pop star to light. Belanger continued: “Here we have over 50 people on the stage, so I have to make sure that everybody can be seen and get through all the theatrical aspects of the show first. Then we add the icing on the cake!” The main priority lighting direction wise was maintaining the integrity of the lights and upgrading any necessities. “It’s always an evolving show,” said Belanger. “So we still tweak and therefore it’s constantly moving and improving.” There is an active grandMA2 and a backup desk on site, plus an impressive 419 fixtures. The lighting fixtures comprise 24 Philips Vari-Lite 3500 Washes FX, 48 VLX LEDs, 74 VL880’s, 10 VLX 3’s [the smaller version], 31 Martin Professional Atomic Strobe 3000’s, 195 Color Block’s and 10 i-Pix BB7 Blinders. Belanger said: “They decided to go with Vari-Lite because those fixtures are lighter, the rig was so massive already. The 3500 Wash FX on the back helps to create the really big looks, the Vari-Lite fixtures are top of the line. I also tend to use Martin Professional gear a lot, its great. “And it’s been a fun ride. It was quite challenging at first, but after six weeks of rehearsals and the re-design after the weight loss, there’s a lot of Michael’s essence on the stage,” concluded Belanger. Rehearsals took place in Ottawa at the Scotiabank Place, then two weeks in Montreal at the Bell Centre and a

ON THE ROAD: Cirque du Soleil

Below: Dancer Jean Sok was part of the incrediblly strong cast.

further two weeks in Quebec City at the Pepsi Colors Inn. VIDEO Leading LED video screen manufacturer Lighthouse’s new product, VideoBlades, is the main video element in Immortal which unfolds Michael Jackson’s artistry before the eyes of the audience. Aimed at lifelong fans as well as those experiencing MJ’s creative genius for the first time, the show captures the essence, soul and inspiration of the King of Pop, celebrating a legacy that continues to transcend generations. VideoBlades, a result of an alliance between Lighthouse and Pix2o, is a revolutionary large-scale LED video display technology that straddles the worlds of video and lighting in the entertainment, events and architectural markets. VideoBlades 12 provides a 12.5mm pixel pitch, modular LED video screen that delivers superb image quality both indoors and outdoors, with a literal twist... VideoBlades 12 comes in two formats, SkyRoll and GroundRoll, which can be deployed by rolling up or down from its patented rotating structure. The modular format allows for the seamless formation of large-scale screens limited in size only by a customer’s needs. VideoBlades 12 was selected as the best new

video product at LDI 2010. For Cirque du Soleil’s Immortal, over 2,500 VideoBlades create the nearly 200 square meters of LED Video display that is the show’s main display surface. For the show, the VideoBlades are deployed in three main ways: 1) Six GroundRolls seam together in pairs to build the massive up-stage screen that presents music videos from the Michael Jackson’s past, as well as other vivid content. 2) The set’s main stage is made of thin transparent plexiglass that covers the surface of 42 square meters (560 VideoBlades). While the LED video plays, dancers perform and set pieces move on top of the main stage. At select moments, the entire main stage hinges up to wow the audience with even more video surface. 3) The final piece of the set employing versatile VideoBlades is a column that splits into two separate pieces, exposing another 260 VideoBlades. In total, Immortal uses eight GroundRolls and 10 Stage Segments. Roughly 3.6 Million LEDs are used to create the various stage surfaces, but it requires only one video technician and a few stagehands to rig and assemble the VideoBlades portions of the set. There is also 25mm of Barco stealth LED utilised

R VISIT OU T A STAND 12 0 PLASA 2 38 G 1STAND Photo Credit: Es Devlin


TPi SEPTEMBER 2012 • 53

ON THE ROAD: Cirque du Soleil

Below: Spectacular poledancing and acrobatic dancers made Immortal a firm TPi favourite; the Brilliant Stages and Tait designed set was complimented with VideoBlades LED pannels.

on the upstage walls. Solotech’s Jean-Francis Marin, the Video Crew Chief who is now on his third Cirque du Soleil tour, told us: “Solotech is a rental company so there is a lot of choice on what we do and when this came up last year, I wanted to do it because it was so different. It’s show 169 today and the six giant video screens still roll and go up really fast, which is great for the video crew!” Around the B-stage there is four 18,000 lumen HD Christie video projectors installed on

a VIP dual yoke (made by Zap Technology) for the downstage screen. Two 10000 lumen HD Christie video projectors have been installed on VIP yokes and a further three 10000 lumen Christie projectors are required. Marin continued, “The video requires a lot of maintenance but it’s worth it for the look of the show. There are cameras and a screen comes down and has four projectors (a quarter of the screen each). What’s really nice about these Christie projectors is that they’re on a moving yolk, which makes them perfect.”

VIDEO CONTENT CREATION Matthieu Gourd, a Production Manager at Cirque du Soleil explained that two different designers created the video content, Olivier Goulet for Geodezik, a Montreal based video company, and Dago Gonzalez from Veneno inc. (based in LA). “Both designers had worked with Director, Jamie King and the estate which represents Michael’s family was periodically informed of the show development, but not specifically about the video content, so there was an

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54 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

Teenyweeny monitors. Live.

The E6 loudspeaker is no bigger than a fine bottle of wine. A miniature, yet incorporating a monitor angle. Designed for mobile reinforcement on stage and in changing production environments. While it sounds distinctively bigger than it is, it remains neutral, clear, transparent and intelligible even at high sound pressure levels. As with all the little systems in the d&b E-Series.

ON THE ROAD: Cirque du Soleil

Below: Immortal still offered a traditional circus element in its performances as the swans enacted I Just Can’t Stop Loving You.

element of creativity involved with the tour’s visuals,” said Gourd. “Dago had his first experience with CDS on Immortal, but he had done many other projects with the Director of the show. Geodezik had been part of other CDS projects,” he added. For the final design of graphics, it took around 12 weeks to perfect. Gourd noted: ”Some modifications were still being made during the first year of the tour, especially during the first two months and now some others are planned before the show moves into Europe.” MICHAEL JACKSON STANDARD PYRO Pyrotek’s Angelica Larocca became involved with the tour following a pre-existing relationship with Jake Berry. Ronald Bleggi and Raymond Seymour were out on the road for the North American tour and once the tour moves into Europe, it will just be Raymond Setmour on pyro duties. Cirque du Soleil is known for creating and showcasing some of the most mesmerising and jaw dropping productions in the world, and once again with Immortal, Cirque has put together an awe inspiring spectacle with the assistance of pyrotechnics from Pyrotek Special Effects inc. The show was written and directed by long time choreographer Jamie King. Showcasing Michael Jackson’s greatest hits, the show incorporates everything you’d expect from a Cirque production from flying acrobatics to fast paced dancing to massive sets even including 56 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

a 2.4 metre long pair of dancing black penny loafers with white socks (see our cover image!). Cirque approached Pyrotek Special Effects to add more magic to the imagery of the massive production in early 2011. The vision was to bring to life everything Jackson loved to see on a Cirque stage, and what he would want to include into a show with his extensive catalogue of music. Pyrotek Designers Doug Adams and Lorenzo Cornacchia worked closely with the show’s creators to produce effects for 24 astonishing scenes within the part rock concert, part dance show, and part circus! The Immortal opening was designed in true Michael Jackson fashion with 21 Silver Gerbs, and a 19 comet chase to set the stage ablaze. A total of 26 Cryo Jets were used during the Jam and Dangerous sequences, and low lying fog throughout many scenes including the iconic Thriller and Will You Be There. Pyrotechnicians John Arrowsmith and Ray Seymour had the task of operating the show that includes a spectacular finale, which is designed to celebrate the achievements of Michael Jackson. It includes an astounding 13 different effects including 27 Gerb fountains, 46 multicolored Airbursts, 44 Comets and 37 Mines shooting 30 feet in height. Adams’ goal for Immortal was to come as close to what Michael used during his live shows, but with the Cirque du Soleil flare. Larocca noted, “The pyro design did not change throughout the tour or production period. Though now that the tour is going to Europe they will not be using any Pyro, only

C02. So far the reactions have been great! It is a wonderful show and an excellent tribute to a legend.” ACROBATIC RIGGING AND AUTOMATION TOMCAT designed an extra strong truss, as it needed to be of a very high standard for this tour. During the creation phase, Craig Reid, Head of Acrobatic Rigging was the Assistant Rigging Designer, who designed the A & B grid using the TOMCAT truss. Reid has been with Cirque du Soleil for 11 years and has now worked on a resident production, nine arena tours and four tent shows. Reid told us: “The grids are unique because the house Stage Technologies winches which were specified because they wanted the winches to be physically in the truss for a 55ft span without any motors in between [there is a round scoreboard built into the roof which is used for hockey games during the venue’s winter season] so that it can hold the versatile acts the production offers. Often performers will be 35ft away from the nearest motor, which is all made possible due to TOMCAT.” Riggers from U2 and Shakira’s previous tours are now working on this production, they had to bring the pop, rock ‘n’ roll and circus worlds together. It takes three to four hours to get all of the motors up. There are three production riggers hanging the show, and local riggers can be anywhere between an extra 12 and 24 people. In the acrobatic rigging department, there are five riggers plus Reid and a harness technician working daily.

ON THE ROAD: Cirque du Soleil

Below: Smooth Criminal got a 2012 revamp with the same classic moves.

Of all the kit he’s using, the 19 Stage Technologies drum winches are a highlight for Reid, “These handle the show a lot better than we thought it would. Traditionally, Stage Technologies are not a touring company, they do installations or one off big events, like the Olympics. Although you see them in theatre houses, they’re not typically seen on rock ‘n’ roll tours. This is the first time these wInches have been used for a Cirque show, but we really like them. Mechanically, these wInches are great. The cables for the winches are XLT4’s, which is unconventionally compared to what we’d use in theatre or rock ‘n’ roll, and it allows flexibility and resilience. We’ve only changed four cables in almost a year because they can handle so much.” Technical Stage Manager Martin Gauthier added: “Two trussing grids were specially designed for the acrobatic motors. The winches we are using for acrobatic flight needs to be directly on the target, so we give our riggers a lot of challenges every morning. Marking out the floor with chalk each morning is a very crucial part of the day. If it’s not in the right place, it can really affect the performance, and some acts we couldn’t even do. So we have to check this accurately before we start building any trussing.” Heading up the Automation crew is Englishman Chris Davis. An LD by trade, Davis is based in the UK, and also previously worked for PRG on U2’s 360° tour. Following a good run, Jake Berry asked him to work on this 58 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

- his first Cirque show - and to try something new, switching from lighting to automation. “I’ve learnt everything on the job here,” he enthused. A Kinesys system was running all the stage lifts (A & B-stages), conveyor belts, a Stage Technologies system was running off a Nomad console and four one-tonne motors are used for performer flying. “Stage Technologies are the best for flying stuff, for tech support, Stage Technologies and Kinesys are brilliant. Kinesys had a good relationship with Cirque and Wi Creations, a Belgium company, also did the video screens for U2. They custom built a video wall, which moves and runs from a Kinesys system. A Fisher Navigator was brought in a little after and all the automation systems work well together. It separates the whole show nicely too, so the engineers can concentrate on moving the lifts or the people up and down, so it splits naturally,” said Davis. “We’ve got to a really nice point now where it’s all really good, everyone is adapting to each other. We don’t step on the artistic toes, and they don’t step on ours. There’s a nice harmony. I did a lot of theatre when I was younger, so it’s nice to get back into it! The people here are lovely. It’s good fun, a great experience and it’s a massively different production. The biggest change for me is the human aspect, operating these winches; the artists have to trust you and you have to trust them. There’s a lot of safety systems in place, all around the stages,” he added.

STAGING THE SHOW The staging elements of Immortal were built by England based Brilliant Stages, Wi Creations of Belgium and the Pennsylvania HQ of Tait Towers. With 65 artists, running, jumping and dancing in troupe’s, it’s different from a typical band set up, so the stage has to be sturdy, and the huge show has a lot of moving parts. Brian Levine, Project Manager, Tait elaborated: “We are re-building the lift [for European downsize], so that it can be easily ramped or forked out of a truck, have variable speed control and limits, as well as good leveling capabilities. This means at every venue they can just level it off and be good to go. “The largest element is the B-stage. The B-stage has an elevator that goes from the concrete to about two ft above the stage surface, so it’s a pretty complicated mechanism. Control-wise, they use Navigator to link that lift up with a pole rotate in the stage to a dance pole gag.” The pole in question is a platform for an exquisite solo performance; a show of this stature naturally attracts performers at the top of their game, like Felix Cane - the worldrenowned pole performer and two-time world champion in acrobatic pole dancing. Levine continued: “As well as a chain motor in the air that lifts the pole into place and drops it, the dance pole rotates so the dance pole chain motor and the B stage all have to be linked together in the control system. It will lift up the pole and raise the lift at the same speed,

ON THE ROAD: Cirque du Soleil

Below: The 1982 video release of Thriller - directed by John ‘American Wearwolf in London’ Landis - took on mumified zombies for a fun, family-friendly approach when acted out on stage.

all while landing it properly and tensioning it. Running it through Navigator allows us to write cues, make presets and it allows the operator to be right underneath the stage running off of a laptop.” The main challenge with the B-stage is that there’s a lot of very large spans. “Because of the size of the props that need to fit under there - you can’t have a lot of legs. We’re going to build something that takes up the same amount of space but is going to be double capacity and twice as strong as they have now,” Levine explained. Tait’s had around six weeks to build the 36 moving part stage masterpiece: “The advantage being that we were able to see what already existed on site. We had concepts in place that already existed from our original bid. The way it packages now, it’ll be easier to handle, build a lot faster and package a lot tighter. “What Cirque has now is a bunch of unique pieces that are somewhat difficult to pin together. Everything that we do will come right off the cart and into place, so the pieces themselves will be more manageable in size. “We’re also rebuilding the runway; they’ll have a 30 ft long and a 20 ft long version. Finally, we’re rebuilding all the light shelves around the whole runway and the B-stage,” Levine concluded. SECURING THE CIRCUS The daily responsibilities for the tour’s Security 60 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

Director, Tony Robinson of MPB Companies is to initially put up signs to secure artist and audience pathways for the large arenas, converse with the in-house venue security, assign security to the dressing room areas, around the tour busses and to conduct searches for the crowds. Robinson stated: “This is very different to working with rock ‘n’ roll stars - I’ve worked with a lot of those - and in comparison, this is easy! With the single artist, you only have one person to deal with, out here I have 65, and it’s less chaotic actually! My job is to primarily get them in from the busses to the venue and the dressing rooms to the stage without any problems or concerns. The other big task is getting family backstage to see the performers. “The audiences so far have been wonderful. It’s more relaxed than a rock show, it’s very family orientated so there’s no mosh pits or body surfing in here!” he laughed. THE LEGEND LIVES ON Besides his back catalogue which will continue to define generations of fans, the legacy of everything that Michael Jackson embodied as an artist is able to have new life breathed into it by the incredibly talented folks who take this production on the road and around the world. The Cirque du Soleil family is completed by Finn Taylor, Senior Vice President, Touring Shows, Jack Kenn, Vice president - Arena Shows, Pierre Guillotte, Senior Production Manager, Tanya

Sarrazin, Production Coordinator, Arena shows and Luc Tremblay, Senior Artistic Director. Production Manager on the road, Andy O, ended TPi’s interviews with clear sentiment of just how special and homely this show has become to him. “I’m very proud to be a part of this organisation, can’t stress how much I’m thankful to Jake and Opie for taking me under their wings all those years ago. The show is about to go overseas and I rely on the crew to handle that. I’m not the type of Production Manager to ‘micro manage’ people. You won’t find me stood over them, barking about how to do their own jobs; this crew is the best in the world.” TPi Official Show Photos: OSA Images Costumes: Zaldy Goco ©2012 Cirque-Jackson I.P., LLC Additional photos: Charlotte Steer, Kelly Murray, and Elizabeth Sattelberger.,,

ON THE ROAD: BBK Live Festival

SPANISH SENSATION ASIDE FROM A SPARKLING LINE-UP OF MUSICAL GREATS, BILBAO’S BBK LIVE FESTIVAL BOASTS A TRULY IDYLLIC SETTING AND A CLOSELY BONDED PRODUCTION ‘FAMILY’ AT ITS HEART DETERMINED TO MAINTAIN A RELAXED AND AUTHENTIC ATMOSPHERE. TPiS ZOE MUTTER HEADED TO THE SPANISH HILLS TO BECOME IMMERSED IN LAST TOUR INTERNATIONAL’S MUSICAL CREATION WHICH HAS ESTABLISHED THE CITY OF BILBAO AS ONE OF SPAIN’S CONCERT CAPITALS. Sweeping sun kissed hills and plush panoramas greeted festival folk descending upon the Spanish city of Bilbao for the seventh BBK Live Festival. The three-day event was the treasured project of Javier Arnaiz, Alfonso Santiago and Xabier Arretxe, owners of music promoter Last Tour International, who - along with Production Manager, Eneko Gurrutxaga - set their sights on building a haven for music lovers 11 years ago. Since then the event has succeeded in delighting hundreds of thousands of music fans and has transformed the Spanish city into one of the country’s most vibrant musical destinations, attracting visitors from all over the world and boosting the area’s economy. The stages of BBK Live have been graced by some of the industry’s biggest stars over the years; REM, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Metallica and The Police to name but a few. Global powerhouse Coldplay chose it as their only Spanish concert appearance in 2011 and this 62 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

year also saw a Spanish exclusive as Radiohead headlined the main stage on the second day of the festival. They joined other musical greats including The Cure, Garbage, Bloc Party and an extensive list of Spanish and international artists. The introduction of the Vodafone stage five years ago, which specialises in Spanish bands and DJs, has also further increased the traditional flavour and authenticity already present in the festival atmosphere created by the team. PARADISE FOR MUSIC LOVERS BBK Live isn’t the only festival focus for Last Tour International. The Basque company, which has offices in Bilbao, Madrid and Barcelona, has built up quite a repertoire of events that it manages throughout the year including Azkena Rock, En Vivo, Rock In Way and Sonisphere Spain. “When Last Tour was first set up, the initial partners behind the company held the first Azkena Rock in a club in Vitoria-Gasteiz and I received a call from Alfonso. I was working with bands at the time and he told me I should join them as a

Stage Manager. I enjoyed it so much I quit my job and joined the company full-time,” explained BBK Live Production Manager, Gurrutxaga, who is still working tirelessly to produce a vast number of gigs and festivals in his Spanish homeland 11 years later. It was Arnaiz [Promoter, Owner and Director] and his partners’ passion for and belief in BBK Live that has seen it flourish and grow over the past seven years. Set within the Spanish mountains in the left shore of Nervion river, the festival has evolved into a paradise for music lovers and globetrotters alike, keen to enjoy performances from big name artists whilst lapping up the Mediterranean sun and culture. “The company was started from nothing; it was just a bunch of guys who love music and decided to put on a festival. We started booking the bands that we wanted to see in Spain that nobody had really brought over here before,” continued Gurrutxaga. Since 2007, the event has been sponsored by Spanish savings bank Bilbao Bizkaia Kutxa

ON THE ROAD: BBK Live Festival

Opposite: The view overlooking BBK’s second stage while The Kooks entertained the crowd; Singer-songwriter Ben Howard delighted his fans with some folk musical treats; Snow Patrol were a real crowd pleaser on BBK Live’s main stage; The Cure’s Robert Smith kept the festival-goers entertained; Set in the Spanish hills, BBK Live is a music lover’s paradise.

(BBK), a move which saw its name change from Bilbao Live Festival. The success of BBK Live was also instrumental in the organisers forming a partnership with Sonisphere promoters K2 for the Spanish edition of the event. “Festivals are Last Tour International’s main thing,” commented Gurrutxaga. “We run five a year and then move on to tours in the fall and winter; we never stop. I’ve been involved in all of the festivals from Last Tour International over the past 11 years apart from one I couldn’t attend because I broke my ribs. Even then, I was in bed with the phone in my hand still trying to work on the festival!” This sense of devotion to each and every event produced is a common thread running throughout the whole company, explained the PM: “When I first began I was responsible for booking, travel, running, hospitality and so on for all shows but now we have grown to a size where we have around 150 dedicated production staff in total and another 170 security crew on an event like BBK Live.” It is still the same core members from the early days of Last Tour International that are integral to the smooth running of events. “When it all started here in Bilbao we didn’t really have an industry even though there were festivals elsewhere in Spain. We called our friends and family to get involved too. For example, my brother, Aritz Gurrutxaga, has been the crew

boss since the beginning so we are very much a family orientated company,” added Gurrutxaga. BUILDING A FLOURISHING FESTIVAL Discussions regarding the design of BBK Live have always taken place between PM Gurrutxaga and Promoter, Javier Arnaiz, who is also responsible for booking artists and deciding all festival layouts. This year many elements of the event were improved, including staging, barriers, dressing rooms and production areas. One section of the camping area was also sacrificed in order to make the festival site larger. “We always need to think of new additions to the event. This year, for example, we introduced one more stage - the truck stage - to bring us up to four. We’ve made everything bigger even if it’s almost impossible because we’re restricted in terms of space due to us being on a mountain,” explained the PM. “This is as big as we can get now and the capacity has increased around 5,000 from last year to 40,000. The festival is in a dip between the mountains so there is not much land to use. We’ll need to try to expand somehow, but the camping is at its limit at the moment.” Also playing a crucial role in the festival is Production Assistant, Laura Lopez, who left her role in TV and film production to join Last Tour International two years ago. “I put an advert

on a jobs website to find the perfect employee, 250 people applied and we carried out 50 interviews before choosing Laura. We’re so proud to have found her and she has learnt a lot over the past couple of years,” said Gurrutxaga. Added Lopez: “I was working on a TV serial at the time when I got the call and it was a great decision to join the team; I’ve never looked back. We’re all very close because we work in the same office together all year round on a selection of events.” But despite the heavenly setting and bonded team, the festival site isn’t free from complications, highlighted Gurrutxaga: “It’s great when it’s sunny but a mess when it rains. The local council is very important for the festival though because it has helped us build in measures to cope with the weather over the past seven years. When we first came here it was just a mountain and there was even a lake here up until three years ago. We’ve now improved everything by introducing plumbing and electrical suppliers. “This festival, like the others we have made, is full of really respectful people so we don’t have many big problems but one of the main challenges is to get the festival-goers here because we are on a mountain so we need to coordinate with the police to make sure the roads are open and buses can get here.” A particularly testing moment for the festival TPi SEPTEMBER 2012 • 63

ON THE ROAD: BBK Live Festival

Below: BBK Live’s main stage benefitted from the renowned Mojo Barriers to keep the crowd safe; An enthusiastic fan enjoys Ben Howard’s performance; Frontman Gary Lightbody brought Snow Patrol’s sizeable collection of hits to the Mediterranean city; MA Lighting’s grandMA 2; Noah and the Whale’s lead singer Charlie Fink; Atmospheric lighting complemented The Cure’s performance.

occurred in 2008 on the day REM headlined. Gurrutxaga elaborated: “That was our worst day, it rained for 22 hours. We needed to throw straw on the ground and firemen had to draw in the water from under the stage. But even after all of this no show was cancelled or delayed.” CREATING THE PERFECT LINE-UP The key difference in BBK Live that would strike those less accustomed to Mediterranean festival, is the scheduling of each day, with the music not starting until around 6pm and continuing through the night until 7am. This leaves festival-goers free to relax and enjoy a leisurely day or even travel to the nearby beach before the artists start performing. “We also try to avoid artists clashing in our line-up. When we first began, the festival was spread over two stages and we would not overlap them. It was like a tennis match going back and forth between stages. Now we have expanded there are some slight overlaps but never Stage 1 with Stage 2,” said Gurrutxaga. Selecting an eclectic line-up with big name headliners has become a speciality of Javier Arnaiz and Last Tour International’s team, with Metallica’s set in 2007 being the PM’s standout moment from the festival’s history. “We’re still learning all the time when it comes to organising the event. We’re on to a higher level with our ticket sales now, with the final day of the festival when Radiohead performed nearly selling out,” he said. 64 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

There was no doubt the relaxed atmosphere that was evident throughout the production area and across the entire site was a result of the efficient forward planning of the team who arrive on-site the Monday before the festival, with the exception of Site Coordinator, Gorka Saenz who arrives the Monday before that to organise fencing and plumbing. “After the festival we normally go partying on the Saturday night to celebrate and then our production is loaded out on the Sunday morning because we have another show straight after when Blink 182 play arenas in Madrid and Barcelona next week. We always have to run on to the next production!” added Gurrutxaga . But BBK Live would not be the production success it is today without the help of talented individuals such as stage managers, Manolo Gil (Stage 1) and Coto Aldas (Stage 2). Gurrutxaga enthused: “Manolo is a god and Coto is my teacher and my inspiration. When I first started out Coto taught me everything because he’s been in the business for over 30 years. Equally, Manolo is one of the best stage managers in Spain and has been in the industry since he was 18 so that’s over 25 years of touring and shows including South America and the States.” Aldas and Gil work relentlessly to make sure the festival’s schedule is followed, collaborating with Gurrutxaga and Lopez along with all the light, sound, backline, video, security and catering crew associated with their stage. “I love this place up on the mountain and I

love the way the crew works. I’ve worked with Last Tour International from the beginning and this festival is still improving in all areas,” said Aldas. A CONSCIENTIOUS TEAM Although BBK Live is a joint effort from a collection of diligent suppliers, one rental house has supported Last Tour International since the very beginning. Gurrutxaga filled TPi in on one of the key moments in the company’s early existence: “When we were arranging the first Askena Rock I was like the new kid in town and phoned everyone to try to put the festival together. I asked if people could send me the budgets and some did, but others didn’t even answer the phone.” One person who did pick up the phone was Boby Garcia, owner of rental house Pronorte. “He came to visit me, we started making a festival with him and Pronorte is still on board today. Even now some of the guys who didn’t answer the phone are trying to call me to ask if I will work with them.” Garcia, who has taken up the reins as Sound and Lighting Crew Chief for the stages Pronorte supplies at BBK Live is proud of the relationship the company has formed with Last Tour International over the past 11 years. “We do the whole run of Last Tour International’s festival throughout the year, working on the smaller stages, so after BBK Live we will be moving onto their next festival. There are always challenges

ON THE ROAD: BBK Live Festival

Below: Avolites equipment made an appearance at the festival; Bloc Party have made a welcome return to the festival circuit after a two year hiatus; EML supplied an Adamson PA system for the main stage and a screen made up of Barco Olite tiles; The Vodafone Stage was home to a collection of Spanish bands and DJs.

when a significant number of bands are put on one stage and this is made more difficult when you’re tight for space, but we’ve been working here for so many years that we have managed to perfect it,” said Garcia. Equipment supplied by Pronorte for Stage 2 of the festival included an EAW system comprising 24 cabinets of KF-760, eight cabinets of KF-761, 32 SB-1000 subwoofers and Lake LM26 digital processors. “I selected the EAW brand because we have been working with them since 1992 and it is really easy to direct sound with their products,” said Garcia. The front fill system was made up of four KF-300 cabinets and two Lab.gruppen FP3400 power amps while FOH mixing was carried out using a Yamaha PM5D and a PM5000 console. Stage 2’s monitor set-up was filled with eight EAW MW15 wedges and six EAW MW12’s and a power amp rack comprising two Lab.gruppen FP2400q’s and four Crest Audio 6001’s. Another power amp rack featuring two QSC Powerlight amps and a pair of QSC 2.0’s also made an appearance in the audio arrangement. The side fill system consisted of 10 cabinets of EAW KF730, four SB-850 subwoofers and a power amp rack of Lake LM26, two Lab.gruppen FP3400’s and a Lab.gruppen FP1000Q. Monitor mixing was again performed with a Yamaha PM5D, which Garcia chose for its popularity and reputation. Meanwhile, mics making an appearance on Stage 2 included Shure’s Beta 52, Beta 91, SM57, SM81, Beta 58, 66 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

Beta 57 and SM58’s. AKG’s C414’s and C3000’s and BSS’s AR-133 DI box, along with Sennheiser e904, e914 and MD 421 were also used. Illumination of the stage was carried out using eight Martin Professional MAC 2000 Washes, 12 MAC 2000 Spots, eight MAC 101’s, eight MAC 600 Washes and six Martin Atomics, all controlled using an Avolites Pearl Expert. Continued Garcia: “Avolites was the obvious choice for this festival. I’ve worked with their consoles for 12 years and I love the way they operate and the level of control they allow you.” Joining the crew chief over at the second stage was Pronorte Coordinator, Olegario Blanco Gonzalez, FOH Engineer, Miguel Augusto, and Monitor Engineers Patxi Anton and Ruben Lezea. Lighting design and operation was the responsibility of Txus Carmelo. “When creating the lighting design for Stage 2, Txus uses the knowledge he has gained over the years and adapts it to suit the riders of the bands performing,” said Garcia. A TEAM EFFORT “The idea of the new truck stage was to create a boutique style area that allows you to get closer to the band so the sound is more intimate. We have mainly local bands performing there. The lighting design is different to Stage 2 with three trusses in total because it is meant to be more basic and classic,” explained Garcia. Over on Stage 3 Pronorte provided a PA system made up of 12 EAW KF-730’s, eight

SB-1000 subs and a rack of Lake LM26, Lab. gruppen FP3400’s and Lab.gruppen FP1000Q. The chosen console at FOH and in monitor world was a Roland M-300. A pair of dB Technologies DM15’s and six DM12 monitors completed the stage’s sonic line-up. Meanwhile, lighting equipment the company was entrusted to supply included four Martin Professional MAC 500’s and six MAC 600’s along with an Avolites Pearl Expert console. The closeknit team on the third stage was headed up by Coordinator Roberto Alperi (who was also Monitor Engineer), who also acted as FOH Engineer. He was assisted by Stage Coordinator, Joni de la Iglesia. Lighting Designer and Operator, Carlos Rene, and Stage Manager, Sergi Gras, completed the team. “My first boss, Coto Aldas, recommended me to the production chief and then I was lucky enough to be invited to work with Last Tour International on several of their music festivals,” said Gras. “As stage managers, we try to meet all bands’ technical needs. That means ensuring we have enough room for all types of production and that there is efficient communication between all technicians. We also supervise the backline gear supplied to make sure it fulfils the band’s expectations and guarantee we all stay on schedule. “All of the staff have enjoyed the feeling of being involved in a massive music festival. I had the chance to work at the smallest stage this year and it was a fantastic experience,” Gras

ON THE ROAD: BBK Live Festival

Below: Production Assistant, Laura Lopez, and Production Manager, Eneko Gurrutxaga; Pronorte engineer Patxi Anton and coordinator Olegario Blanco Gonzalez; Stage 2 Stage Manager, Coto Aldas; The Stage 1 audio team, Carlos Des Valle, Joan Roman and Xose Mourin; Stage 4 Stage Manager for audio and lighting, Juan Resines, and his team.

added. “We all work under the pressure of tight schedules and hard weather conditions, but what I have learned is how much a calm face can transmit a feeling of serenity that helps take control of the situation.” A BOUTIQUE CREATION Over at Stage 4, the Vodafone Stage, Spanish rental house Audiomic Producciones was responsible for audio and lighting supply - including a PA system of 12 EAW KF-730’s and six SB 1000’s. Lab.gruppen amplification was again ultilised along with an Avid Venue console at FOH. A Yamaha M7 CL monitor desk was selected along with d&b audiotechnik MAX 12 monitors and EAW KF-850 sidefills. Lighting kit supplied by the one-stop shop included 12 Vari-Lite VL500 Washes, eight VL2500 Spots, six Clay Paky CP Colors, Avolites ART 2000 dimmers and an Avolites Pearl Expert console. Technical coordination of audio and lighting was placed in the capable hands of Juan Resines, who manages corporate and fashion events when he is not working on festivals. A particularly enigmatic performance from Spanish band Bigott stands out as one of the most memorable moments from this year’s BBK Live’s Vodafone Stage for Resines: “The tent was so crowded and everyone was singing their songs. It was fantastic.” Aside from this, Resines was impressed by the spectacular colours and effects created by the lasers used when the Vodafone stage 68 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

became home to a number of DJ sets through the night. “At the Vodafone stage we had to find a compromise between a concert venue and a DJ club. It’s a venue with two roles: concert venue where you can see a band in good conditions, and a club where you can have fun. It’s also the place that is open for the most hours during the festival - from 5pm until 7am - so you must have a well organised team that take special care during key moments such as set-up,” Resines, who has been working at Audiomic Producciones for 10 years, added. The Stage Manager tries to adapt his choice of FOH console to suit the festival and aims to achieve the best results with the least amount of equipment. For this year’s BBK Live, he chose an Avid Venue – working with 48 inputs - for its quality and ease of use. Joining Resines at Stage 4 were FOH Engeneers Endika Lopez Escobes and Julian Dos Santos, Monitor Engineer Félix Goxencia, Mic and Stage Assistant Antxon Unzaga, Stage Assistant Inhar Lozano, Lighting Designer Koldo Belloso, Structures Design and Rigging Ion Loiola, Lighting Operator Beatriz Santolaya and Video and Effects Technician Jose Tellería. When designing the lighting for the stage, the main priority for Belloso was to keep an iconic element in the centre of the tent for the audience and to introduce an attractive structure that dominated the tent. “We needed to be able to light the audience zone as well as the stage,” explained Resines.

Fixtures incorporated into the rig included 12 Philips Vari-Lite VL500 Washes, 12 VL2500 Spots, four Martin Professional Atomic Strobes and eight 4-lite blinders, all enhanced by a laser system. Audiomic also provided a four-pointed star structure of truss with a circle inside along with an on stage linear 12m back truss with fixtures. “We chose an Avolites Pearl Expert to control the lighting because it’s very well known by technicians that work with the type of bands we have on our stage,” said Resines. “In this case we didn’t include LEDs in our lighting fixtures. The LEDs were on the screens, which we used as a part of the show to project effects and animated 3D textures.” MAIN STAGE SOUND AND LIGHT Audio and visual supply at BBK Live was divided between the stages, with rental houses selected according to who could best cater for the needs of each stage. “The audio at Stage 2, 3 and 4 sounds perfect but due to the size of Pronorte, it never supplies the largest stage even if they are capable of doing it, so we’ve had a selection of different Spanish companies doing Stage 1 over the years,” said Gurrutxaga. Currently providing equipment for BBK Live’s main stage is EML, which was acquired by PRG last year. “PRG is one of the biggest companies in the world and we are doing festivals with the biggest artists in the world and thinking about the festival on a global scale so it made

ON THE ROAD: BBK Live Festival

Below: Stage 3 Lighting Operator, Dan Corral, and FOH Engineer, Carlos Rene Fernandez; Mojo Barriers Cees Murling and Rik Beulink; Last Tour International’s Laura Lopez and Eneko Gurrutxaga with Stage 1 Stage Manager, Manolo Gil; Pronorte Sound and Lighting Coordinator, Boby Garcia, with his crew over at the new truck stage; Some of the members of the Extremiana team with owner Luis Carral (centre).

sense. When you’re working with Radiohead or Metallica you need to have somebody like PRG. They’ve supplied sound, video and lighting for two years and we hope to continue working with them,” said Gurrutxaga. Adamson equipment featured heavily in EML’s PA system for the main stage, with 16 Y18’s and 12 T-21 sub cabinets per side for the main PA, eight Y18’s, and four Y10’s per side for outfill and 16 Y10’s acting as frontfill. Delays comprised six Y18’s and four Y10’s per side, with 12 Y10’s as sidefill. In addition a Midas H3000, Midas H2000, DiGiCo D5, Yamaha PM5D and an Avid Venue were supplied as consoles. Main stage lighting was then carried out by 11 James Thomas PAR 36 Molefay 8-Lites, five James Thomas PAR 64 Floorcans, 16 Martin Atomic 3000’s and an MA Lighting grandMA 2 desk. Francisco Palazon from EML was in charge of coordinating lighting for the main stage. The main stage’s audio was the responsibility of Crew Chief Joan Roman who was assisted by Carlos Del Valle and Xose Mourin. “We choose the consoles based on which are most versatile and most requested in riders,” explained Roman. “We also use the Adamson products because we believe it is the best sounding system and it is very easy to rig. Like with the desks, when we choose mics we look at the riders and see what is most popular. Shure, Sennheiser and AKG are very typical brands to be requested.”

KEEPING THE CROWD SAFE One of the new suppliers at BBK Live this year was Mojo Barriers. The international stage barrier supplier worked closely with the Last Tour International team to design a custom barrier configuration to aid the flow of the 40,000 festival-goers through the entrance of the site to the main stage. Gurrutxaga explained: “With only one entrance to the site, in previous years when the gates open the audience tended to pool at the left of the main stage waiting for the artist to start. Security has needed to guide people around the FOH structure to the other side of the barriers. This caused safety concerns, as well as slowing down how quickly we can get people on and off site or migrate them between stages.” Mojo Barriers’ extensive product range and stock inventory allowed the team, led onsite by Mojo’s Rik Beulink, to add two mega exits to the barricade system which could be opened and closed as needed, vastly improving crowd flow. The configuration, comprised of 240 units of barriers and specials, gave security and first aid personnel maximum access to the crowds with a layout featuring a cross section with curved corners. Gurrutxaga commented: “No local company has the types of barriers and specials that Mojo has in stock or the knowledge of crowd dynamics. They simply can’t make the

configurations we need, and we’re pleased to work with Mojo across all our main festivals to improve safety for crowds, crew and artists.” Mojo Barriers also provided its consultation and products for Sonisphere Spain in May and will work with Last Tour International again in September for En Vivo festival, installing its Barrier Load Monitoring System (BLMS), which includes sensors to monitor crowd pressure. Cees Muurling, Mojo Barriers Managing Director, commented: “We have a shared ethos of safety and have been impressed by Last Tour International’s commitment to welfare and crowd management. It’s our first year working in the Spanish market, which has been an important step in our international growth. We look forward to continuing our work with Last Tour International and other clients to improve standards of safety across the region and giving event organisers access to more choice when it comes to crowd control solutions.” SECURITY STANDARDS Meanwhile, the crowd’s safety was also under constant check from security companies MENKeeper and H&H, with Head of Security, Javier Revuelta heading up the team of 175 staff. “MENKeeper is based in the south of Spain so rather than have the expense of bringing their whole team here, they oversee the security and then we use local company H&H to supply staff,” said Gurrutxaga. TPi SEPTEMBER 2012 • 69

ON THE ROAD: BBK Live Festival

Below: An energetic performance from Noah and the Whale stirred the crowd into a frenzy; DiGiCo’s D5 desk over at Stage 1; dB Technologies DM12 monitors; Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke rounded off the performacne in style; The Cure delivered a memorable headline set.

MENKeeper has been working with Last Tour International since the second edition of BBK Live in 2006. “As festival head of security my main task is putting all the plans we made in advance into practice,” said MENKeeper’s Javier Revuelta. “I also ensure everyone is safe and check the working schedules and working positions. We attend every band security request and all department issues and try to solve all disturbances too.” Leading up to and during the festival an infinite number of meetings occur between every department including the production team, emergency and medical services and the security team. “The biggest challenge we have is the festival situation. We’re in an amazing spot, surrounded by mountains and beautiful sights, but that’s the main issue. It is difficult to get the crowd onto and off of the site because the roads are narrow and there is limited parking,” added Revuelta. “Artist trucks and buses get up the hill using the same roads so we have to coordinate with other departments to see what the priorities should be.” Every year, Revuelta and his team try to improve the quality and security standard of the festival. This has also involved introducing Mojo Barriers to the event. He added: “We want to offer the best choices available in the market and we think Mojo Barriers are making everyone safer. Their barriers are well known worldwide.” 70 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

BROADCASTING BILBAO Longstanding supplier to the festival, Bilbao based audiovisual company Extremiana, has been a significant part of BBK Live for the past decade. This year, in addition to supplying cameras, projection equipment and crew and streaming footage to the LED screens in dressing rooms, the firm edit and then broadcast footage of the festival after the event on Last Tour International’s dedicated YouTube channel, Last Tour TV, and on Basque national channel EITB, which Extremiana also filmed Azkena Rock for. A total of 22 Extremiana staff worked on the event, with Video Engineer, Alberto Angulo, being responsible for the design and execution of the whole video system. PRG’s EML were also instrumental in the visual elements of the event, providing side screens for the main stage measuring 6m by 4m made up of 10mm Barco Olite LED tiles. No video screens were present at Stage 3 and Stage 4, while Stage 2 made use of rear projection from projectors supplied by Extremiana onto a pair of six metre long by four metre wide screens. In addition to this there were 30 plasma TV and LCD screens supplied by Extremiana and located in several VIP areas, the canteen, locker rooms and press areas. “The whole festival has been produced in 1080 and we use SDI / HD signal. Depending on the distance from which the cameras or screens are located, we use either coaxial or

optical fibre. Altogether we use almost 4,000 metres of cable and video control is managed from a single mobile unit. From here the 14 inputs and 12 video outputs are managed. As inputs we have five cameras for Stage 1, five cameras for Stage 2, publicity and several signals from the mobile units of the groups,” said Luis Carral Lopez-Tapia, who not only manages Extremiana but develops commercial activities as well as the production of large events. “All these signals are managed so the HD signals are sent to the LED screens and recording and the SD is used for projection and the plasma screens.” As well as taking an active part in Sonisphere Spain this year, Extremiana was responsible for high definition shooting of Last Tour International’s En Vivo Festival in Getafe (Madrid) for Spanish TV network TVE. “Since the first edition of BBK Live, we have been responsible for the video aspect of the festival and Last Tour has always made us feel like an important part of the festival structure. When they involve us in a new project, my team aims to succeed. Every year is different to the previous one; new requirements arise and we need to deliver new solutions,” said Lopez-Tapia. As many of the groups playing at BBK Live use video as part of their show, visuals are an integral part of the festival. “Nowadays it’s difficult to understand an event in which the public is not able to appreciate the details of

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ON THE ROAD: BBK Live Festival

Below: The sunkissed main stage; An innovative light show accompanied Bloc Party’s late night show; Yamaha’s M7CL mixing console; Supported by a troupe of gifted musicians, Ben Howard created some on-stage magic.

the show as if they were in the front row. Guitar riffs, drum solos, the face of the singer; there are things that only video can show as if you were in the front row,” said Lopez-Tapia. “The whole idea of video in a festival is to show the audience what they are not able to see at a glance so they can follow the concert wherever they are. Each group has the choice of whether they want to use video or not and there are some that bring their own means, even the mobile units and cameras. In that case, we connect their devices to the screens following their directions. In addition to the recording of the concerts, we distribute the signal to several media as well as to the screens at the festival.” Another company the team has relied on heavily to provide staging for four years is IPE, who Gurrutxaga believes is the only firm in the country that can handle up to 60 tonnes of rigging. “For safety, they are the only ones we trust,” he said. An equally important element is power supply, which was entrusted to Hertz. “They bring us the generators but then we have a company that we helped to create but don’t own called Power Ed and a genius working for us called Eduardo Diego, company owner and chief of electricians. We called him up eight years ago and said ‘We need an electrical company, do you want to start one?’. He is a genius and knows everything power-related and we believe the company is the most dynamic and balanced priced company in Spain,” said Gurrutxaga. 72 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

A CITY TO DISCOVER From the moment TPi arrived on site at BBK Live, the scenic charm of Bilbao made the event a real pleasure to be a part of. But as the festival progressed, it became apparent that it wasn’t only the picture perfect Mediterranean setting that continued to attract crowds in their thousands. Gurrutxaga explained: “What makes BBK Live special is the people of Bilbao, it is a city that is full of culture. In fact, the whole Basque country is a world to discover featuring a beautiful coast, amazing mountains, small fishing villages and charming old towns. We also have a great culture of food and drink and a beach 20 minutes away on the subway.” For Pronorte’s Bobby Garcia, who has been in the industry for 27 years, one of the most interesting elements of his career has been witnessing how much the live sector has improved, thanks to events such as BBK Live. “I’ve been lucky enough to see a vast history of shows in Spain; around 12,000 events in almost 30 years. I have so many feelings about the experiences I have had during this time; I’ve worked on the productions of a vast collection of artists; from local bands and Pavarotti to Judas Priest and Pearl Jam,” he said. “I remember when I first received the call from a guy called Eneko saying he wanted to create a festival. I told him that it sounded like quite a romantic idea as no private companies were paying for shows. What Last Tour International proposed all those years ago was the ideal for him and history is still being written

now. We have been here for the whole run of festivals and it has been like a true love story. I would like to thank Last Tour International for such a fantastic experience and for relying on us for 11 years.” The close bond of the crew flowed through every element of the festival’s operation; from the relaxed but efficient working relationships between each and every member to the enormous feast of a BBQ that the promoters arranged for his entire production unit to celebrate the end of another successful event. “My highlight from this year’s festival has to be all the artists, guests and crew come together to eat a roasted cow at the end of the event. Oh, and of course the view of the crowd enjoying themselves when The Cure was on stage,” added Stage Manager Aldas. Looking back on another resounding festival success, PM Gurrutxaga concluded: “I don’t deserve my team, we are like a family and have grown in size to become the second largest company of its kind in Spain. Javier and Alfonso started this with three guys in an office and have evolved to a core team of 28 full-time employees running five festivals a year. Even though it’s developed a lot, we will still always maintain our family run ethos.” TPi Photography: Zoe Mutter,,,,

ON THE ROAD: Wireless Festival

SAFETY FIRST FOR WIRELESS FESTIVAL WITH THOUSANDS OF MUSIC FANS PILING INTO CENTRAL LONDON’S WIRELESS FESTIVAL, SAFETY AND SECURITY WAS TOP OF THE EVENT MANAGEMENT TEAM’S LIST OF PRIORITIES. TPi’S ZOE MUTTER VISITED HYDE PARK TO HEAR THE FESTIVAL’S BACK STORY DIRECT FROM THE LIVE NATION, SHOWSEC AND MOJO BARRIERS TEAMS RESPONSIBLE FOR KEEPING IT SECURE YEAR AFTER YEAR. This summer saw Hyde Park transformed into a hub of activity as it became a focal point for live entertainment. The Royal Park provided the perfect setting for a selection of festivals such as Hard Rock Calling and Wireless Festival and a colossal run of openair concerts from music legends such as Madonna and Paul Simon in the lead-up to the Olympics. As with all events Live Nation owns and manages, security and safety was a prime concern at this year’s Wireless, with the team uniting to guarantee festival-goers enjoyed the three-day musical experience in the safest possible environment. Once again, Live Nation relied on Showsec to provide security and crowd management services following the company’s impressive track record at other high profile outdoor events such as Live 8 and Nelson Mandela’s 90th Birthday Concert. 74 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

With all tickets for the Sunday - when international R&B superstar Rihanna took to the stage for her headline slot - selling out by March, this was the most successful edition of the event to date. Despite the sizeable crowd, Production Manager and Head of Production and Events at Live Nation, Hannah Farnham, Live Nation COO, John Probyn, and Live Nation Group Head of Health, Safety and Security, Paul Cook, worked in conjunction with the professional agencies that support them including Royal Parks, Westminster City Council, the Metropolitan Police and Showsec to succeed in securing the extensive site. THE FACE OF THE COMPANY “Everybody knows Showsec has worked closely with Live Nation over the last 18 years and they have worked consistently year on year to raise standards of crowd management and customer

service, because they are basically our ‘face’ when they’re on site,” commented Farnham. “They’ve been here in Hyde Park for years and have progressively increased their role, more recently taking on police responsibilities, particularly road closures and egress. We use them because they’re the best in the country, if not in Europe.” Farnham’s career in live events started with a placement with John Probyn 12 years ago, a journey that has seen her brought through the ranks before being promoted to Head of Events four years ago. This led to her becoming manager of all Live Nation’s large festivals alongside looking after Radio 1 Big Weekend and the large stadium shows of artists such as U2 and The Police. Paul Cook is also vastly experienced in the process of running the company’s large-scale festivals, having worked for Live Nation for

ON THE ROAD: Wireless Festival

Opposite: The security team at Wireless made sure festival-goers enjoyed their day in the safest conditions. Below: Labrinth gave a rocking performance; Head of Production and Events at Live Nation, Hannah Farnham, and Live Nation Group Head of Health and Security, Paul Cook; Showsec Director, Simon Battersby; Showsec Operations Executive, Andy Edwards; Mojo Barriers Director, Jim Gaffney; Head of Security, Steve Reynolds.

the past six years of his 30 year career in the industry. He commented: “What Showsec has got, which a lot of other companies haven’t, is a good management structure so they train people from stewards right up to supervisors and managers,” said Cook. “Some may see Live Nation as this big corporate animal, but it has one of the best safety records because we invest so heavily in security for our audiences. What we do is set standards that other event organisers start to follow, from barrier design through to the way we interact with our customers. Although it is perceived as a client-contractor relationship, we don’t work in that way. We’re very much a team providing security for the whole event. Everyone is here for the same reason – to make sure the crowd gets in and out as safely as possible and hopefully in between they will have a fantastic time.” Cook’s role throughout the festival – working closely with the site team and event manager - encompassed ensuring structural engineering was correct, managing workers so they were prepared for the arrival of the audience and making sure the crowd was safe at all times. “Once the crowd is on site we could be called to various incidents in the day where there is a perceived risk or health and safety issue we need to investigate and put a

management plan in place for,” said Cook. During the egress stage, Cook makes sure his team are in position ready for the exiting crowd before checking the ground is ready and safe for the following day. “During the course of that day we’ll have meetings with agencies - what we call ‘silver meetings’ with the police, fire, ambulance - to discuss how many people are in the crowd, any issues, how we’ll manage the egress and if there are any changes to the plans. For any incident that might occur, we already have pre-agreed plans in place to manage it.”

But it’s not just the crowds who are impacted by the poor conditions, the security team also feels the pressure. “Weather has been the buzzword for 2012 hasn’t it?” said Farnham. “It was the same for Download and here. Everyone knows we’ve been having biblical rain and at Wireless we’ve only got two public tents that can’t fit 80,000 people in so we have to manage it well if people rush towards tents when it rains.” Cook added: “In terms of crowd conditions, because we have people coming in and out all

“We use them because we believe they’re the best in the country, if not in Europe.”

WEATHER MATTERS One of the challenges facing many festivals in the UK this year was the weather, with Wireless being no exception. Thanks to heavy rainfall and an 80,000-strong crowd trampling on it for hours, the ground at Hyde Park was destroyed and the site became so waterlogged on the last day of Wireless that the planned Hit Factory concert taking place after the festival had to be cancelled.

the time, the weather does have an effect on our teams in charge of egress. No matter what the weather throws at us, this site needs to run until the end of August so we have a lot of work to do to keep it operating as smoothly and safely as possible.” Simon Battersby, who started his 18 year career at Showsec as a steward before progressing to area manager level, regional management and then company director, TPi SEPTEMBER 2012 • 75

ON THE ROAD: Wireless Festival

Below: This year’s Wireless Festival saw 80,000 people attend on the Saturday and Sunday; A member of the Showsec team keeps an eye on the Pepsi Max tent; Rising star Delilah captivated fans; The control room, where the local agencies kept a constant check on the festival site.

agreed with Cook: “Clearly, this year at every festival, weather has been a key topic and has presented challenges. This involves people on the ground being as proactive as possible and reporting issues as soon as we get them. “This is the biggest show of its format we’ve done in this park. Obviously there have been Party in the Parks and Live 8 but they are single-stage big arenas whereas Wireless has more than one stage running at once which can present challenges in how we manage crowds and the movement of people around these areas.”

experts are supported by a carefully structured management team with clear communication channels to SIA and stewards, ramping up security as needed. We have our own integrated control room which sits alongside the multiagency control room, allowing effective assimilation of information and intelligence. “If necessary, we’ve got a planned show stop procedure that is decided at a meeting with a small amount of individuals - mainly stage managers and security,” explained Cook. “Our artist liaison team then meet with every band and artist to get our show stop procedure

“What we do is set standards that other event organisers start to follow, from barrier design through to the way we interact with our customers.”

AN EXTENSIVE TEAM The Showsec management team working on the Hyde Park events has benefitted from expanded capabilities as a result of the company’s in-house Management Development Programme, with Simon Battersby taking on the role of Security Director and Steve Reynolds as Head of Security for the concert series and BT London Live. The pair of security 76 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

signed off to say they agree to follow the rules. Showsec teams are then briefed by their stage managers and the supervisor in the pit talks to their teams. So there are senior management briefings and then it drops down to localised briefings for the staff.” Farnham added: “We don’t do a mass briefing with thousands of people, instead we create a staff handbook that goes out to every

member of our security, traffic management, caterers and so on to get across the essence of the festival and make sure everyone dealing with the public has the answers they need to hand.” RELIABLE CONTRACTORS Having worked on each and every Wireless Festival, Farnham believes continuing to use the same successful key suppliers is essential. “We tend to be quite loyal if we feel we’re getting the right service at the correct price, but at the same time, we like to review it when needed to keep things fresh,” she said. “It’s a massive site here that has grown over the years to us now holding 26 events in Hyde Park. So it’s a mammoth task and we need to have the right contractors you can rely on to look after their areas of responsibility. We’re very fortunate to have that experience around us.” New suppliers at this year’s event included Olympics power provider Aggreko and Chris Saunders’ broadcast and event video company, Oglehog, supplying all screens. “Stageco has been our stage supplier this year because we like working with them and they are building the Madonna stage, which we have in the park soon after Wireless. So our big challenge will be taking the Madonna stage out and putting the new one in for the BT London Live Olympics events after,” continued Farnham. “Star Events are doing all of the ancillary

ON THE ROAD: Wireless Festival

Below: Rizzle Kicks joined artists such as Calvin Harris on the bill for Sunday; The team of security professionals were always looking out for the safety of the music fans; Jessie J got the crowd cheering; The Showsec team watch over the festival audience.

stages and delay structures and then there are all the longstanding suppliers such as PRG and Brit Row that are key to Hyde Park. Audio is especially important because we spend all year trying to manage noise so we don’t impact on the residents and local area whilst still giving the people in the park the right experience.” A TRANSIENT AUDIENCE Whether in a stadium or a field, the principal systems and procedures will be the same, even though they may be scaled up or down as necessary. Cook added: “The difference with Hyde Park as a site is you normally go to a festival for two or three days and camp, but here the audience is very transient and we have a new one every day. Being in central London and working at a Royal Park can also present unique challenges that you wouldn’t have elsewhere. Central London is a perceived target for terrorism and London events also tend to have a lot more liaison meetings with agencies.” With London being the largest city in the country, multiple events will often take place within a few hundred metres of each other. Explained Farnham: “For example, this weekend you have the Pride march in Trafalgar Square, the 7/7 memorial on the other side of the fence to this festival and then us here with 80,000 people. There’s always something going on in London and we’re lucky that we have a great relationship with all the local agencies around

Westminster including the police and fire services.” The Royal Park is also governed by its transport links and Park Lane running beside it, highlighted Battersby: “This means when we have large crowds we need to have a clear plan of how we will get them in and out and overcome the difficulties of having a major arterial roadway east, south and north of the site.” A PARTNERSHIP APPROACH Barrier layout and design varies day by day at events such as Wireless, depending on risk. “Last night when deadmau5 headlined there was a single thrust barrier because of the crowd dynamic. We didn’t need lots of barriers but then today and tomorrow we’ve got a secondary barrier because of the capacity of crowd,” explained Cook. “We need to look at any forward movement of the crowd so the people at the very front of the barrier don’t feel the impact from people at the very back. The way crowd dynamics work is that sometimes a very small crowd push at the back and has a ripple effect to the front of the barrier and that pressure builds and builds so the person at the front gets pushed against the barrier.” Barriers are therefore built to take a certain amount of pressure and the security team look at barrier design and capacity before deciding whether to introduce a secondary

barrier to reduce pressure. Barrier design and configuration, which was entrusted to Mojo Barriers, is an area that is constantly improving and evolving. “We use them principally because we believe they are the best supplier and have the best barrier system worldwide,” commented Cook. “It’s not just about the supply of a barrier - which any company can do - what we want is a company that takes ownership of it and a pride in what they do. Mojo help us with the design and are always there if we want to discuss layout or the safest measures we want to put in for the customers; it’s a partnership approach. Their experience is renowned and everybody will say that Jim Gaffney [UK Director] is the best in the business.” Farnham agreed: “Jim has so much experience and together with ourselves and Showsec, looks at the systems that are going to be in place for those in front of the stage. We all know how important it is to keep the safety of our customers paramount. It is all down to risk assessment which we look at with the artists’ promoters to make sure it’s the right system for them.” According to Battersby, barrier configuration is determined by trying to anticipate crowd behaviour and where the dynamic pressure will come from and then trying to reduce lateral movement. “We recommend having a more complex configuration of front of stage barriers TPi SEPTEMBER 2012 • 77

ON THE ROAD: Wireless Festival

Below: Labrinth played to a packed Pepsi Max tent; The crowd at the main stage behind barriers from Mojo Barriers; Rihanna’s explosive headline slot on the Sunday rounded off the festival in style.

to dissipate pressure when crowd size and demographic suggests there will be significant movement and pressure. For example, on the Saturday we put in secondary delay points to create wings and also introduced a thrust. Mojo Barriers is a great company and really understands crowd dynamics and stage barrier configurations,” he explained. DIFFERENT DEMOGRAPHICS The Live Nation team are seasoned pros at tailoring festivals to suit different types of audience, with all of the events managed in the same way. “They’re all similarly run, from our event management plans and the way we talk on radios to our security calls. So every event we go to is like a well-oiled machine,” said Farnham. “Wireless tends to attract a younger crowd but we even have different demographics on each day of this festival, from the dance-orientated Friday night that deadmau5 headlined through to Sunday night’s headliner Rihanna. We always need to be conscious of who we have coming and change security regimes to suit.” In 2011, the Wireless crowd maxed at 65,000 but this year’s expanded event saw 15,000 people pass through its gates on the first day and 80,000 on each of the other two days. “But thanks to one of our other events, Download, which attracted 100,000, we’re used to working on larger scale festivals and managing those types of crowd. The difference with Wireless mainly is the transient audience and having 78 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

to deal with the egress every evening,” said Farnham. The team do a lot of work relating to the crowd and carry out a band risk assessment and create a schedule that includes information on the likely crowd reaction to each band and the capacity expected for each area. “We’ll then make a judgement call on the numbers of staff needed to boost up those areas relating to the age range of the audience coming in,” said Cook.

crowd, also require more staff because those who have never been to a festival before can become distressed in a capacity crowd of 80,000. Continued Cook: “We need to manage their understanding because when they’re in front of the stage barrier they think they are going to have a fantastic view but they don’t always understand that there could be pushing or moshing. Mojo Barriers is a great company and really understands crowd dynamics and stage barrier configurations.”

“Mojo Barriers are such a great company and understand crowd dynamics better than anyone.”

The number of security staff present on site ranges dramatically to correlate with the size of the crowd, ranging from 300 on the Friday night of Hyde Park to 850 on a typical BT London Live event day to make sure the backstage area, main stage, entrances and exits operated smoothly. “Wireless also has one of the largest festival entrances, which works perfectly for the London Live events following on from the festival. Trying to get all those people into the site is a challenge and we need to manage that process well to make sure they’re not queuing up for long periods of time,” continued Cook. Younger audiences, similar to the Wireless

Every time something happens on site – security-related or not – the team reviews it immediately. “So it’s a constant learning curve and no two days are ever the same in this job, which is what makes it so interesting. We might be sat here relaxed right now and then two minutes later we could be dealing with a crowd related issue,” concluded Cook. TPi Photography: Zoe Mutter

ON THE ROAD: Madonna

MADONNA’S MDNA LIVE WHEN U2’S TOUR PROMOTER, LIVE NATION, ASKED PRODUCTION PRO JAKE BERRY IF WAS HE INTERESTED IN GOING ON THE ROAD WITH MADONNA, IT WAS, BELIEVE IT OR NOT, A TOUGH DECISION. AFTER BEING OUT WITH U2 FOR NEARLY THREE YEARS, IT WAS GOING TO TAKE SOME PERSUADING TO TAKE ON A ROAD CHALLENGE LIKE MADONNA HAD IN MIND. YET, AFTER ONE MEETING, BERRY DECIDED TO GO AHEAD WITH THE JOB. TPi’S EDITORS WENT BACKSTAGE WITH MADGE’S CREW TO HEAR ALL ABOUT IT. “They wanted a big tour, so we brought a team from both U2’s 360° tour and from outside, which certainly helped me. With the crew from U2 already together for three years, it was a big help that we knew how each other worked. Madonna has a long standard relationship with PRG and Eighth Day Sound, and we brought new people in like Tait, to build the stage. It was a mixture of old and new, and when you’ve been touring for a long time, it’s good to have a little change and give people the opportunity to create,” noted MDNA Production Manager, Jake Berry. “The look of the show is very modern with great content, we have a floor that moves in 36 different ways, we have a lot of flying scenes, the choreography is incredible, it’s a very complicated show to run and I’m fortunate enough to have a fantastic crew who are talented from top to bottom,” he added. After Madonna performed at the Superbowl, which certainly had America’s attention, the crew started pre-production on MDNA 80 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

to captivate the rest of the world. “I say challenging, but in the nicest way,” smiled Berry. “But Madonna definitely challenges you, she is professionally incredible because everything has to be worked out to perfection, every night. The challenge is maintaining the schedule, but if she can do it, we have to maintain it. You strive so you can match her expectations.” For the tour’s pre-production, Madonna wanted to rehearse in Manhattan. “It was like a disused warehouse and we converted it into a room, put draping up and we created a band studio and a mock stage exactly as we have here, for the choreography,” said the PM. This lasted until May 27th when the tour moved into the Coliseum on Long Island for the full-on production rehearsals. “Then we picked it up on four planes and went to Tel Aviv. It’s been a really good group, it’s a very tiring, very intense schedule but that’s the way she likes to work. “We’ve now played a mixture of arenas and stadiums where we had 38 trucks and nine crew busses. A lot of the show is bespoke apart from the sound system, which is always hung in the

same way. The video screen, lifts and staging are completely custom and were built in a short time frame. “The main thing for us rehearsing in New York was that Tait were only 100 miles away. Besides the creative people behind the scenes like Mark Fisher, Michele Laprise and Jamie King, the crowd is the highlight for this tour, they make the show every night,” Berry told TPi. Despite the Australian leg cancellation, dedicated fans will continue to watch the show until the end of the year. The tough schedule will see the crew and veteran singer on the road until December 23rd when MDNA comes to an end in Argentina. Berry concluded: “There are highs and lows like with anything. Sometimes you think it’s the greatest job on earth, other times you wish you could go home for a day. But we can’t take sick days; we’re out here for the long run.” COMPLICATED BESPOKE STAGING “We believe it is, in the history of the universe, one of the most complicated touring systems

ON THE ROAD: Madonna

Opposite: Madonna’s MDNA tour achieved production perfection as it played to audiences all over the globe. Below: Moment Factory produced truly breathtaking visuals for the tour following their multimedia creations that appeared during Madonna’s performance at NFL’S Super Bowl Halftime Show.

ever built,” said Adam Davis, President, Tait Towers. “You can tell just by the amount of power it took to feed the mechanics and LED built into the stage. There was a bunch of technological innovations. One of the neatest things was the way the lift matrix was controlled - not by a programming and automation console, but by taking content and mapping the lift motion to the content, then taking the position of the lift and sending it through the video server to get the actual video position, so that we get a true 3D look.” For Tait, one of the interesting aspects of the video lift matrix was that the video was engineered in Belgium, manufactured by its Chinese facility, the lift columns were engineered in Las Vegas and the lift array was engineered in Lititz, PA. Davis continued: “The entire thing was manufactured and tested in Lititz, so it was a true global initiative that we accomplished in a mere four weeks. “An unusual aspect of the show was that it opened in Israel, and then went to its second city in Abu Dhabi. That is not a usual situation, to test a show in the middle of the desert. There were heat solutions that had to be designed into the equipment.” Aaron Siebert, Project Development Manager Tait Towers, added: “There was so much automation control equipment under the

stage that we had to work on air flow and air circulation to cool it down.” The signature Tait trademark of incredibly intricate touring packages certainly paid off for the MDNA tour. “The ScreenWorks 10mm video screens were packaged in Tait frames, which were all on rotators and tracking devices, allowing us to get lots of different louvered looks for it,” confirmed Davis. “This a true Tait show; we did all of the automated rigging structure, automation for the video screens and everything on the ground. This allowed us to provide an integrated package, motioncontrolled piece.” An integrated active cooling system was designed to dissipate captured heat from LED tiles. Lift surfaces form one continuous surface when lowered (creating one-inch gaps when raised), the lift package was one hydraulic scissor lift with custom decked surface integrated into B-stage. The staging elements provided by Tait were operated by a Fisher Technologies Navigator Control System. The main stage surface contains 36 cubes, all motorised and covered with LEDs, which are raised and lowered during the performance to create a constantly evolving visual environment. The results are richly varied: Girl Gone Wild is set in a photorealistic 3D cathedral; I’m A Sinner takes the audience on a kaleidoscopic

throttle blast of shape, colour and movement that pushes the LED cubes to their limits. The Head Rigger on site was Todd Mauger. He was working with a rolling double decker mainstage, bridge decks spanning 13ft over the entrance to the VIP pit, a custom crowd control barricade inside the pit, LED edging around stage Lift Matrix and 36 custom Tait ‘Tower Lifts’ in matrix which form the central performance space. There was also some custom 15mm LED tile cladding on three sides and top surface. STRONG DESIGN CONTENT When the tour was first discussed back in the summer of 2010, Production Designer, Mark Fisher, had several conversations with Madonna’s Manager, Guy Oseary, and Live Nation’s Arthur Fogel. “They wanted to try to get strong design content into the show, while at the same time sticking to a reasonable number of trucks,” explained Fisher who has created stage designs for the likes of The Rolling Stones, U2 and Cirque du Soleil. “Jake Berry joined the conversations early on, and the financial, logistical and touring framework for the tour was set by the end of the year. But we continued to talk about the parameters for the show for another 12 months. The actual design for the show didn’t really start until after Madonna performed the Super Bowl TPi SEPTEMBER 2012 • 81

ON THE ROAD: Madonna

Below: The video screen, lifts and staging were completely custom built; Eighth Day Sound supplied audio equipment including d&b audiotechnik’s J-Series; The show progressed from a gore spattered Tarantino movie through to Broadway burlesque.

halftime show in February 2012.” Fisher started work on the project in the summer of 2011 when he was in Canada with Berry working on Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour. “At that time there was no discussion about the show content because Madonna’s Creative Director, Jamie King, was busy with the MJ show and Show Director, Michel Laprise, had not joined the team. But Jake and I knew that the tour schedule involved a lot of outdoor shows so I designed a new roof to fit the show as I imagined it would be,” added Fisher. The roof he designed was based on the lifting technology that Stageco developed for the U2 360° Claw. “It is a much cleaner and stronger roof and it integrates the I-MAG video, the show stage and the PA into a single composition under a curving fascia with a very large cantilever,” continued Fisher. “This allows an arena show such as MDNA to slide right in and fit with all the over-stage rigging working exactly as it works in an indoor venue. Once I had developed the concept, I met with Stageco and we worked out the details so the roof that is touring with Madonna’s show is a completely new, very high performance design.” Madonna and Laprise - with King in consultation - developed the dramatic arc of the show. Fisher and his design associate at entertainment architects Stufish, Ric Lipson, then worked in unison to develop their ideas. “We all agreed early on that there would be major use of video content throughout the show. Right at the start, Michel and I discussed various ways of layering of video and kinetic elements, which led to the design of the box-lift video matrix floor,” explained Fisher. The show design started in the New Year, with the first ideas exchanged between Laprise, Lipson and Fisher. Together, they developed the stage ideas and then illustrated them, before sharing them with Evans. Once the main stage design had been agreed, Lipson continued to work closely with Laprise and other members of Madonna’s team to explore and develop the large props that featured in many of the songs. “Tiffany Olsen, Rich + Tone, Alison Faulk, 82 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

Jason Young and Mike Morobitto - all members of Madonna’s creative and production team - input their knowledge of how Madonna likes to work and then all the props were designed in close consultation with the choreography team,” explained Fisher. INNOVATIVE STAGE SYSTEM Stageco developed, manufactured and supplied an innovative new XL stage system for MDNA, also providing full logistical support throughout the tour. Fulfilling the artist’s desire to entertain her fans, the production included a significant amount of state-of-the-art moving video and LED technology, which required large, clear visual spans within the stage in order to achieve the desired impact. The MDNA tour production team specified that a cantilever roofing system was required, which entertainment architects Stufish incorporated into the stage design. From these designs Stageco developed the system and technical elements for the stage’s curved roof with a central spine giving extended weightloading capability. Stageco was first engaged in September 2011, when CEO Hedwig De Meyer discussed the concept for the new system. Stageco’s Project Director, Dirk De Decker, explained: “No existing stage-roofs on the market served the set-designers requirements with regards to weight loadings across wide spans and I think this new system looks fantastic, offering designers a different canvas for their ideas. The flown PA and video areas are all incorporated within the single stage roof, which spans 57m and 27m deep at the widest central point, removing the need for PA and video wings. In addition to design and engineering factors, we have created this XL system being mindful of economic and environmental considerations, so after the tour finishes we will be able to assimilate the XL Stage into our rental stock in 2013. “We’ve advanced our understanding of larger scale demountable structures since working with U2 on their 360° tour and developing our XL Towers for the Abu Dhabi show last December. It is this heavy duty truss which forms the central

spine of the roof, a continuous beam across the entire width of the roof, which gives the roof additional strength over traditional systems. There is over 60 tonnes suspended in the roof for this MDNA tour.” Stageco were diligent while creating this new stage system with its increased capacities, not only in relation to weight loadings, but also making sure it was logistically practical and safe for crews to work with the heavier steelwork. A cluster tower support infrastructure is another unique element of the XL stage, which uses the company’s hydraulic lifting system to enable an efficient build and de-rig. Another feature of the XL stage is the ingeniously designed flat roof, which minimises wind loading pressures applied to the stage through reducing its horizontal surface areas. Its pressurised air cushion roof panels create an angled roof for water to run off into gulleys, gutters and then hoses to move water away from the stage. With less steel therefore needed in the stage roof, there are also benefits in weight efficiency and subsequent transport savings. Stageco has manufactured four MDNA tour roof systems, each being transported in 20 trucks, with three specialist crews of 16, managed by Patrick Martens, Hendrik Verdeyen and Patrik Vonckx. VIGOROUS VIDEO Belgian Video Director, Stefaan ‘Smasher’ Desmedt, started working in video in ‘92 with U2 and has done all of their tours since, the last one being 360°. After that, PM Jake Berry asked him to be a part of MDNA. He said: “Video is a massive part of the show, the biggest challenge for us, video wise was the cubes, which popped out, the height and movement of which was driven by the video. And mapping the video on those cubes was a big challenge, but it was very exciting as well.” As the video is very time code driven, last minute changes were minimal. Imagery often had Catholic images with the saint / sinner visual dialogue throughout. Madonna and Moment Factory decide together what the content was going to be and she watches everything before

ON THE ROAD: Madonna

Below: Icon Madonna was supported by a large number of talented dancers who performed expertly choreographed routines.

it’s up on the big screen. “She’s very heavily involved during the rehearsals. And she gets a lot of creative and technical people involved too. She’s a perfectionist, and you have to be for a show like this, because it’s so theatrical,” Smasher said. “For a Cirque du Soleil show, you might have a year and a half pre-production, but we only had the three months, so it was very demanding. I got the usual suspects involved as it became apparent that the programming and movement of the cues was a job on its own, so I called UVA and they helped me out a lot with it, it was a triumph.” Smasher used a D3 controller, made by UVA. “I got in touch with them on U2’s Vertigo tour and they started developing a program which I was involved with, a play back system. I’ve kept using them ever since because they’re so helpful. They’re very up-to-speed with new technology, and that’s why I like to work with them. Ashley Rue, the founder of the company is great. For Madonna, the features were custom written. I asked specifically for ones to map the video onto the cubes,” he highlighted. There were also eight cameras and one remote camera used at the Hyde Park site, all Sony 1500’s. “It’s very different cutting this show to a lot of other shows, because it’s very theatrical, and the choreography is incredible. Whereas usually, you’d be cutting to the music, here you’re cutting to very tiny details. It’s less flexible than a normal show, I would say. If you forget something, Madonna will be on your back about it, but in a very good way, you need that!” he laughed. Staying in NYC for almost three months of rehearsals was a new challenge for Smasher. “In the 20 years I’ve been doing this, I’ve never done such an intense schedule, but it has to be that way. If you want to do it right, this is the only way to do it. Those rehearsals were something completely different for me and I was wondering why we needed to do it for so long. Then I got there and realised why. We also worked with Michel Laprise, the Show Director, and I’d never worked with people from Cirque du Soleil before, so it was all new and exciting for me. “Doing rehearsals for that long was a new experience and that was just the technical pre-

production, for the dancers it was much longer! We also had another week rehearsing in Tel Aviv, which was very intense,” Smasher concluded. PERFECTING THE VIDEO GRAPHICS After a widely acclaimed collaboration for the NFL’s Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show, Madonna invited Moment Factory to create multimedia content for her next world tour. The team had four months to develop concepts, create designs and produce multimedia content for 12 songs. The process required full 2D and 3D animation production as well as the coordination of multiple video shoots in India, New York and Montreal. Brought to life with striking imagery, the dynamic multimedia environment takes spectators on a journey deep into Madonna’s imagination and her famously creative performances. “The Superbowl was a great chance to get to know Madonna’s team. Her crew and entourage, Jamie king and Michele Laprise who directed the tour. The Superbowl went very well, so I think that’s why Madonna chose to keep us on for the tour,” said Johanna Marsal, Content Producer at Moment Factory. “We collaborated at the Superbowl before the MDNA tour. It was a contract brought to us by Cirque du Soleil. So we brought together this adrenaline and the training was great, you’re then producing content for the tour that’s going to be seen by millions of people all over the world, it’s very exciting.” Moment Factory created multimedia video for songs including Papa Don’t Preach, Express Yourself, Vogue, I’m A Sinner, Like A Prayer and Celebration to name a few. For a task this big, pre-production was imperative for the tour’s graphics dept. “We work with a maquet which is an extremely important to use, it’s a mock-up of the real stage. It allowed us to project all the content that we wanted for the tour to see if it worked or not. It was a lot of teamwork and collaborations, obviously we were not alone, and Madonna too gets very involved in all aspects of her show, from video to lighting and lots of other technical aspects,” Marsal told TPi. “With the graphics, Madonna always likes to share her message or feelings behind a song,

she wants to share the emotion. And from the direction of Michel, together we bring together the best graphics for the songs. Indeed, the cinematic landscape of Madonna’s tours are part of the fun for both her and her dancers and the audiences, whether they’re watching live or viewing it on TV. She continued: “It’s all built in 3D and it’s so well done that it looks like an optical illusion. For another song, I’m a Sinner, we went to film in India from the back of a train, because she wanted to capture a psychedelic journey. Gangbang was a three-day shoot in Montreal and we shot all kinds of things including the splattered blood scenes. It was amazing; it really allowed us to move forward creatively. “Until we delivered the final product, there were some changes, but that’s the beauty of it; the evolution of each concept after the brainstorm. For example, Mark Fisher, [Show designer] wanted the stage in a ‘V’ shape, so we adapted our designs, and it went back and forth and Madonna has this amazing, integrated show. “Moment factory’s DNA is to collaborate and create. Our mission is to enhance the artist’s performance and the stage. It’s an incredible experience and honour to work with Madonna, she’s a trendsetter in the world. It’s very powerful. I was surprised how involved she got; she wants to be part of every decision made because it’s her show. She would be present in any content, technical or content meeting, and it was very valuable to have that, for her to give her opinion. She has an incredible attention to detail,” confirmed Marsal. On starting the tour - untraditionally - in Israel, rather than continuing in America following pre-production, Masal concluded: “The show had a particular theme from my POV; Madonna said that it was strategic to start the tour there [in Tel Aviv] because it was important for her to see peace in the world. The last image of the Superbowl ended in a still frame that said ‘World Peace’.” Sakchin Bessette, Creative Director and Co-founder of Moment Factory, added: “The show is a theatrical journey. It goes through so many different worlds and emotions and they TPi SEPTEMBER 2012 • 83

ON THE ROAD: Madonna

Below: Production Manager, Jake Berry; Line Producer, Chris Saunders from Oglehog; Mike Morobitto, Technical Director; Lighting Designer, Al Gurdon; Monitor Engineer, Matt Napier; Showsec’s Mark Logan; Lighting Crew Chief, Ronald Beale, and Lighting Operator, Kathy Beer.

are all linked together in a great way. It’s a real honour to have the chance to work so closely with Madonna. She has changed the musical landscape so profoundly, and so many times, over the course of her career.” “With Moment Factory, it’s never about ‘providing content’ - it’s about creating a piece, a story in itself. Which is very close to my philosophy of art. Projection is a medium that employs a great deal of technology and one of the many qualities I appreciate from Moment Factory is the way they make it feel and look so organic, very warm. Their team has a way of working that is similar to that of a painter or a visual artist,” noted Show Director Laprise. THE HYDE PARK INFRASTRUCTURE After 10 years at XL Video, Chris Saunders is now his own boss, running Oglehog, a broadcast video company [BRIT Awards, EMAs]. This summer, the company was contracted by Live Nation, with Saunders acting as Line Producer. Oglehog was manning local video for the Live Nation infrastructure into Hyde Park this summer including side and delay IMAG screens, camera system for the screens, and recording. The company has so far filmed Drake and Rihanna for MTV and Springsteen for Sky Arts and VH1. For Madonna’s outdoor show, there were delay screens at the bottom of the field which take a live camera feed to fans further away from the stage. Saunders used seven metre by four metre Lighthouse IMAGs. He noted: “They’re great out there in the field for something that you 84 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

can just leave and know it will work, they can get rained on and blown around and they just last. Lighthouse has been around in the touring market for about 10 years and it’s good, solid, reliable stuff, our screens are out there for six weeks in this weather!” A TAILORED LIGHTING DESIGN Although Al Gurdon had designed the lighting for several award shows Madonna has performed at over the years, the first time he worked on a production for her exclusively was this year’s Super Bowl Halftime Show. “The offer to light the MDNA tour came from that,” explained Gurdon. “The lighting design evolves to the needs of the show, as it develops structurally and conceptually, and as the choreography and staging is worked out. However, because the lead in time for this show was a lot shorter than normal, it was necessary for me to second guess a lot of this, as the show was still being developed long after the lighting design needed to be finalised.” The lighting design was tailored to suit the story being told within the production at that time. Continued Gurdon: “The show progresses from a gore spattered Tarantino movie, through Broadway burlesque, torch-song cabaret, to euphoric anthem. All of these need lighting treatments that are appropriate and therefore necessarily different. Our aim was to create an exciting spectacle while always maintaining precision, drama and glamour.” With Madonna being the star of the show, this was taken as Gurdon’s starting point for all designs, with everything being evaluated

in relation to the requirement to look after the star. “Beyond that, her shows are very theatrical; everything being there for a reason and everything telling a story through costume, choreography, staging and video material,” said Gurdon. “The lighting treatment needs to be sympathetic to all of these aspects of the show, but underpinning everything is the music. The lighting needs to reflect and underpin the dynamic energy of the music, and sometimes that will ‘trump’ any other consideration.” The lighting team knew Madonna liked plenty of variation and detail, but also wanted to keep a consistent quality and not stray from that just for the sake of making changes. “First of all, Al had very particular requirements for lighting the artist and the choreography. Keeping that environment lit cleanly was always the first step,” commented Programmer, Mike ‘Oz’ Owen [Robbie Williams, Pink Floyd]. “After that, we simply want to follow the music, the direction and the video concepts, as fully and precisely as possible. Integrating the lighting with the video can be challenging, especially when it arrives at various times during rehearsals, and from different creators, but it is usually the starting point for the looks. We had a constructive relationship with Moment Factory who provided much of the video from the Super Bowl show so we were able to get going reasonably early on.” A FUNCTIONAL AND NON-INVASIVE RIG Clay Paky Sharpys were chosen for their “unparalleled efficiency ratio of size to intensity”, arranged in clusters to give Gurdon the opportunity to use them either as individual

ON THE ROAD: Madonna

Below: An illustration created by Ric Lipson from entertainment architect Stufish; Dramatic performance and elaborate costume entertained the fans.

lights or grouped together as one large fixture. PRG Best Boy 4000’s were also selected principally for their flat field, dynamic zoom range, flexibility and fast and precise shuttering system. “These were predominantly used as keys along with Philips Vari-Lite VL3500 Spots. A total of 90 Martin Professional Atomic 3000’s and two 85K Hungaro T-lite strobes were used for lighting accents and dynamics when moving lights would look wrong,” added Gurdon. Additionally, 26 Robe Robin 1200 LED Washes and eight Robin 600 LED Washes were used in the audience and in limited positions on the stage, chosen for their brightness, instant colour changing and zoom range. Although Gurdon believes LED can be useful in show lighting, for the MDNA tour, there were limited places where it would fit the look. “I like the lighting rig to be functional and noninvasive. Some LED units seem to be a bit too visible as modern lighting fixtures, which isn’t always the right look,” explained Gurdon. “For example, the Sharpy clusters were perfect to simulate the shafts of light coming through the window of a virtual gothic cathedral, but an LED unit would have looked completely out of place. I use certain lights again and again as workhorses for specific jobs, and will adopt new technology only if it offers something better in its workhorse function than what I have used to date, rather than for intricate features which are often of little interest to me because they seem to be more about lighting as an end in itself.” LED elements of the show included over 300 Philips Color Kinetics iCove MX Whites on the edge of the set and on band risers as accents, which, according to Programmer Owen, have an impressive range of whites including a “proper warm.” “We set a particular white for most of the show, but occasionally go warmer or colder,” he explained. Crew Chief on the tour was Ronald Beale [Fleetwood Mac, Elton John], who joined the team through his involvement with PRG, lighting supplier for MDNA. “We have 79 PRG Best Boys 86 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

which are at FOH and on stage and do a lot of the keylighting, The Best Boys are out on one of their first big tours with us and have done really well getting rained on, they got poured on in Belgium and Paris and they have sat out in the rain with water literally jumping off of them,” said Beale. A further 20 Vari-Lite VL3500 Spots then finish off the key lighting, 40 VL 3500 Washes were used for general stage washes and then for most of the effects the 144 Sharpys were used. A total of 76 Atomics Colours were then put to good use for the musical hits and impact along with almost 100 iCove MX RGBs, four GLP Impression RZ120 LED washes, six Gladiator 3kW follow spot, two Gladiator 4jkW follow spots, four Lycian M2 medium throw follow spots and two Titan Flame follow spots. Fog and haze effects were produced through the use of four LeMaitre Stadium Hazers, an LSG Low smoke chiller, 10 Reel FX DF50 haze machines, two Jem ZR33 foggers and a Jem AF-1 fan. RESONANCE BETWEEN SOUND AND LIGHT A PRG V676 console - the chosen desk of Owen - was then controlled by Lighting Operator, Kathy Beer. “I don’t use ‘wave’ type effects. I prefer the Virtuoso / V676 system of building effects with custom made group parts and sequences,” said Owen. “I also want real time parameters to very precisely follow a tempo or rhythm, especially as the show uses timecode. The Virtuoso / V676 system also allows us to run as many DMX universes as we want, which gives me the option to spread things out, and allocate as many control channels as I want. “I have a history with Vari-Lite, Icon and now PRG consoles and although I do use other desks, but they always seem to make me work harder to get what I want; I’m slightly dyslexic, and I’m getting a little fatigued to be still typing in commands.” When using timecode in a cue-heavy production such as MDNA, Owen structures the lighting slightly differently to some programmers. He elaborated: “Although we

had a reasonable amount of time in rehearsals, I didn’t want to leave too much to do in the later stages. So in most cases I recorded the timecode cues very early on, before the cues had much - or sometimes any - information in them. This means recording cues at every musical change - at least every four or eight bars - and for every bump and effect. “For this, I always make detailed cue sheets as soon as I get the music, but this preparation always pays off later. Once I’d put the looks in, the cues could immediately be run during daytime rehearsals, while I was sleeping. And in the later stages, I could throw in all the complex little details, into cues that mostly already existed on paper, in the desk and with timecode.” Owen always tries to keep a clean, modern and stylish feel to lighting, making sure to avoid poor colour combinations and effects. “Although the lighting is never a feature in itself, it always has to enhance and reinforce the rest of the visual elements. There is still plenty of scope for it to be strong and to have an impact. Wherever possible, I like to find the resonance between sound and light. I liked using the Sharpys, as they give strong options and are surprisingly versatile - it was important that they didn’t look cheap,” said the Programmer. ACHIEVING THE PERFECT MIX Audio Engineer, Matt Napier [Kylie, The Spice Girls], is familiar with Madonna’s productions and her sonic preferences, having mixed monitors for the star since 2005. “Before Madonna I had worked on a lot of UK pop acts and was brought in by her old Musical Director as he was specifically looking for someone who was up to date with the latest kit and was used to working on a show like this. The big pop tours are more theatrical than a standard rock ‘n’ roll gig,” he explained. A total of 22 stereo mixes were needed for the band, all running pre-fade. Meanwhile, Madonna was mixed post fade off the Master Buss so Napier could utilise groups and VCAs for her mix. The Monitor Engineer, who works

ŠPhoto by Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images


PRG is proud to support the Madonna 2012 world tour. We are a leading supplier of entertainment technology for the concert touring market, as well as corporate and automotive events, theatre and television.

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ON THE ROAD: Madonna

Below: Madonna likes to share the message behind a song, which Moment Factory took into account when creating graphics for each number.

through his company Sonic Events Limited, chose to work with a DiGiCo SD7, Sennheiser 2000 IEM and Ultimate Ears UE11’s for the in-ears and a d&b audiotechnik V Series for the side fills. “I think it’s important the engineer can specify what tools they use,” he said. “The SD7 was chosen because apart from the great sound and ergonomic work-surface, its one of the only desks that could cope. I have 114 surface channels, a quarter of which are stereo, 18 mono Auxs, 22 stereo Auxs, four mono groups, six stereo groups, 32 x 12 matrix (fully used) and 12 VCAs.” The ability to scan and programme from a computer was essential as the production required nearly 50 channels of RF. Therefore the Sennheiser 2000 Series was chosen for the “great sound, rock solid RF and network capability”. Ultimate Ears was then selected for the natural sound and level of back-up they offer. The audio supplier for the tour was tour was Eighth Day Sound, a UK and US based company with an extensive list of touring credits that includes Foo Fighters, Iron Maiden and Lady Gaga. “The d&b’s were a new product and I’ve been really impressed with them. I’m constantly keeping my eye out for new products but I do feel at this moment in time those products work really well together. I also run Smaart 7 software and d&b’s Rope, which really helps as I’m stuck under the stage. We also record each show on Logic,” said Napier. In terms of on-stage monitor wedges, d&b V-Subs were needed for drummer Brian Fraiser Moore and another sub for Rickey Pageot, the stage right keyboardist. Kevin Antunes, the Musical Director, also had a pair of L’Acoustics 108P and a sub set up under his riser, while the dancers monitor through the flown d&b V tops 88 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

and subs. “We try to keep the stage volume sensible to stop colouration down Madonna’s mic and, as always on this type of show, it’s important that no one can see any speakers,” added Napier. All 10 musicians and Madonna monitor by IEM, with MD Antunes using a switching system to toggle between his and Madonna’s mix. “Everyone has a talk mic for communication and Kevin has another switching system so that we can have private chats. The biggest help this time round is that both Monte Pittman the guitarist and Madonna are using Fractal Axe FX guitar processors. They have a great tone and sound great so we no longer have the guitar cabs cranked up on-stage,” added the Monitor Engineer. Also making up the audio team was dedicated Vocal Mix Engineer, Sean Spuehler, who operated the vocal channels and a Mac Pro running Logic. This system replicated as many of the vocal effects from the album as possible and then the results were fed to both Napier and Tim Colvard, who was mixing with a DiGiCo SD7 at FOH. “Sean also controls the vocal levels in her mix. This is done via a DiGiCo EX007 connected to my board,” said Napier. “Essentially there are three of us who are responsible for the end result of Madonna’s in-ear mix, which certainly keep things interesting! However it seems to work, and so far the client seems happy with the results.” The musical director has a great involvement in how Madonna’s mix is built and in effect is the producer for the mix, with Napier acting as the engineer, similar to the way it would work in a studio, the Monitor Engineer highlighted. “We have a long time in rehearsals because Madonna is a perfectionist and the in-ear mix has to sound a close as humanly possible to the album mix.

There are a lot of discussions with the album studio engineers on how they achieved the album sound and we try to replicate that,” he added. The main PA comprised four hangs of d&b audiotechnik J8’s, totalling 152, with 32 J-Subs and 12 V8’s, arranged in two clusters. These were joined by 12 ground stacked d&b Q7 front fill speakers and 48 ground stacked B2 subs. Delay towers comprised four delay clusters of d&b J8’s and eight J12’s. The audio team was completed by Sean Spuehler and Mark Bruich. A BROADWAY SHOW ON THE ROAD Technical Director, Michael Morobitto [Rihanna, Britney Spears, Cirque du Soleil], also plays an important part within the touring outfit. “I’ve worked for Madonna for the last eight years and four tours - ReInvention, Confessions, Sticky & Sweet and MDNA. Most of what I do is a translation of Show Designer, Jamie King’s creation and relaying it to production. With pop shows becoming bigger and bigger these days it’s more of a Broadway show on the road,” he said. The show is scripted out and rehearsed for several months before the team hit the road as on a production such as MDNA, the crew has to be as choreographed as the dancers. “We need to know when to move set pieces into place, when to break it down so it doesn’t interfere with other movements and when lifts move up and down so I script that out with Jamie, teach it to the crew and then I’ll call the cues during the show,” said Morobitto. “This show has over 125 cues with over 500 movements within them and that’s not including all the prep movements that’s happening backstage in order to execute the cues. I’ll also run the sound check. For us it’s more of a daily rehearsal and we do sound

ON THE ROAD: Madonna

Below: Lighting Designer, Al Gurdon, had specific requirements for illuminating the artist and choreography. Keeping the on stage environment clearly lit was of great importance to achieving his desired design.

checks with full band, dancers and cues. Lights and video will also be running and sound check usually lasts for about 2 to 2 1/2 hrs.” YEARS OF EXPERIENCE Live Nation engaged Showsec to supply security consultancy and management for the UK leg of the MDNA tour. Showsec Director, Mark Logan, worked alongside Madonna’s Chief Security Officer, Scott Nicholls, to ensure the singer, her crew and the audience remained safe and enjoyed the spectacular shows. Logan commented: “It’s a facility that we have continually developed with Live Nation whereby I head up a small team of Showsec managers and supervisors who tour with an act. The aim is to bring continuity across all venues regarding security operational areas, from the barricade system to onstage management and dressing room and production security. This ensures the same security standards are being achieved across all UK dates in the touring artist’s schedule. On these occasions, our focus is on providing touring intelligence and facilitating the sharing of information between venues, tour staff and promoter, as well as providing frontline security staff and stewards in certain venues.” For this tour some of Showsec’s most experienced staff were enlisted including John Hadland who was responsible for the barricade area, Keith Etchells who oversaw onstage security and Scott Anderson and Steve McCafferty who managed the dressing room and production areas. The MDNA tour ran a complex wristband system across all three dates, which allowed the audience - up to 80,000 people at Hyde Park - access to different areas. These included the barricade inner ‘V’ and the golden circle. A separate wristband was also used for early site access. Logan continued: “This tour was particularly interesting as it encompassed three distinct venue types; an outside festival format, an arena and a stadium. We have years of experience as a company working across all of these types of venues and were able to plan and implement tailored security strategies that took into consideration the ingress of fans at 90 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

different times and to different areas as well as the seamless communication between departments.” For the Hyde Park date Showsec already had nearly 650 staff onsite, which were already in place for the annual series of concerts, which this year included including Hard Rock Calling, Wireless and Madonna. The company has worked with organisers Live Nation to provide crowd management on the Hyde Park run of gigs for the last eight consecutive years. Combining experienced event security professionals alongside new team members, this year Showsec introduced improved site briefing and reporting procedures to ensure effective communications, both internally and with clients. New technology supported updated operational procedures to improve on-site communications, with Showsec utilising its new GPS tracking system around the site perimeter; using QR codes to produce a detectable trail of site reports, which are logged back to the control office. Steve Reynolds, Head of 2012 Operations, said: “This year’s first run of Hyde Park concerts has provided an opportunity to fine-tune improved site procedures, including new search operations and entrance layouts to ensure accurate flow rates for the thousands of visitors. This information formed part of our final training and briefing protocols in preparation for the subsequent major live music events across London this summer.” A TOURING BARRIER DEBUT Mojo Barriers launched its new touring barrier system on the European leg of the tour, offering promoters a more tour-friendly product whilst maintaining the highest levels of structural integrity and safety. The newly designed barrier is slightly lighter than Mojo’s standard aluminium barrier system, which has become the muchcopied global industry standard since its launch in 1998 when Mojo Barriers turned from steel to aluminium. By using bespoke cast parts and extrusions in manufacturing Mojo has been able to integrate specific design changes to give a friendlier feel in handling the product and an increased number

of units fitting in a standard dolly. The latter has enabled a saving of 20 percent on truckspace and storage. Available in aluminium and powder-coated black the system has undergone extensive testing to ensure it meets and exceeds all expected tolerance and pressure levels. Mojo has initially ordered 1,500m of the new system, including corners, gates and other specials. Cees Muurling, Mojo Barrier’s Managing Director, explained: “A large part of our business is touring with major global artists and working with them to find ways to make their tours more efficient, safe and cost effective. We invest heavily in research and development and are constantly finding ways to improve our products and services and pass these benefits onto our clients. As more productions enter territories with poor - or worse - no barriers, carrying a touring barrier is more essential to consistently fulfil healthy and safety regulations. “The new barrier has been in development for the last 18 months, undergoing meticulous testing both externally, and at our headquarters in Holland, to ensure that it can handle the same pressure levels as our previous product. This new system has huge economical benefits and the interest and feedback we have had already is incredibly promising. Madonna’s MDNA tour was the first to take it on the road and we are already in talks with other major artists.” MDNA has seen Mojo, led onsite by Ap Thörig, tour across 33 European dates with the barrier making its debut at the outdoor show in Istanbul on June 7 and ending in Stade Charles Ehrmann in Nice, France on 21 August. Rigging was suppied by Five Points Rigging, other notable suppliers included trucking by Transam, bussing by Beat the Street, DannyO Video, Cat Entertainment, SoundMoves freighting and Eat Your Heart Out on catering duties. TPi Photography: Moment Factory and Zoe Mutter., www.prg,com,,,

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10-02-2012 12:34:36

INTERVIEW: Olympics Closing Ceremony


92 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

INTERVIEW: Olympics Closing Ceremony

Opposite: The Closing Ceremony team produced an event of visual and sonic splendour. Below: Senior Production Manager, Chris Vaughan.

How did you first become involved in the Closing Ceremony and in what ways did your background working as Production Manager for artists such as Take That and Muse help during the planning stages of the mammoth project? I guess it’s how most of us in this industry get our positions, being in the right place at the right time and knowing the people involved. I have been working with the Creative Director, Kim Gavin, since the early days of Take That - some 20 years now - and many of my other colleagues from that tour’s creative team were also already working on the Closing of both the Olympics and the Paralympics. I applied to Technical Director of all four ceremonies, Piers Shepperd - with whom I had toured when we were both very young - on the grounds that having worked with his creative team, and having the experience of moving and building very large shows in little time. And the resources of The Production Office, I thought would be a useful addition to his already very

heavyweight technical department. Production managing stadium tours is a unique experience, and apart from being constantly rained on, is something that I very much enjoy. Being PM for both Muse and Take That, who have very conveniently scheduled the outdoor sectors of their tours on alternate years, has allowed me to build a team of people who, every year for the last seven, have been working in stadia and grown in knowledge and experience, which has allowed us to take on this greatest and most public challenge. The combination of Kim’s creative team, and endless possibilities presented by having so many British artists at his disposal, meant that we were always flirting with the danger of building a production which would be way too ambitious to be loaded into the Olympic Stadium in the very tight window between the end of the athletics on Saturday night and doors opening at 5pm on Sunday. I often feel like I am refereeing a match

between artistic creativity, with its flair and ambition, and the mundanely practical realities of time, money and resources. The experience I have gained through years of touring at this level means that both sides of creative and management seem happy to accept my judgement of how far we should push our luck. It’s a difficult balance to get right. On one hand, if we were too cautious, the show would be compromised, it would feel safe and lack the edge that made it special. On the other hand, if we were too optimistic or reckless, we could end up with an embarrassment on a global scale. One example that haunts me is Om the Robot on the Take That Progress tour, which with the benefit of hindsight and many sleepless nights I wish I had never agreed to taking on the road. It suffered some manner of technical failure on five out of the 35 shows on the tour. For the Olympics Closing Ceremony these odds would be totally unacceptable as we TPi SEPTEMBER 2012 • 93

INTERVIEW: Olympics Closing Ceremony

Below: Rehearsals for the Olympics extravaganza; The main design features of the event included Union Flag roadways and the London Eye as a centrepiece; Jessie J, Taio Cruz and Tinie Tempah were just a few of the musicians that performed on the night; DJ Fatboy Slim emerged from a giant inflatable octopus.

only had one chance to get it right. I could just see the headlines if we had got the balance wrong...‘Idiot who got Take That stuck on Robot strikes again’. A key difference about this most recent experience though is that whereas rock ‘n’ roll production managers on large tours are often isolated, having to weigh up and take a great many risky decisions on their own, over the last eight months I was surrounded by a very talented technical team which Piers had pulled together to work across all ceremonies. It was great to have the reassurance of working alongside Technical Manager, James Lee, who had a great deal of experience in ceremonies worldwide, and to be able to exchange thoughts and concerns. Can you run through what the planning process for the ceremony entailed? How did the production team go about creating a quintessentially British event that celebrated the end of the most definitive 16 days of sport the UK has ever seen? All the shows I work on with Kim, Es [Devlin], and Production Designer, Misty Buckley, are driven by the creative. Once the big idea is bedded in, then we set about finding the practical solutions. I believe that in order to produce something extraordinary, the priorities must be ‘ideas first, practicalities next’. 94 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

By the time I joined, the concept of the ‘Symphony of British Music’ was already in place, along with the main design features of the Union Flag roadways, arching up in the centre to create a knot with the London Eye as a centrepiece surrounded by the iconic London landmarks. Once decided upon the Symphony theme, the next step was to pick the artists whose performances would punctuate the storyline. Britain can unashamedly claim to be the world leader in pop culture and in this show we had a Damien Hurst floor cloth, leading fashion models and designers, performance acts Stomp and Spellbound, actors, and of course the music. Kim then assembled the show and weaved it into this, the moments of protocol which are of course critical to this event. The Closing Ceremony is a celebration of the two weeks of sport, a party for the athletes and the official handover to Rio De Janeiro who are hosting the next Olympics. It presents the medals to the winners of the Men’s Marathon and acknowledges the hard work of the volunteers. How long did you prepare for the event and how many people were involved in the process? I joined Piers’s team in November, firstly on a part-time basis and then full-time from Febuary. It was probably May by the time I stopped

feeling like the new boy at school, some people had already been there for several years! Each department is headed up by a Production Manager / Head of Department who would manage the suppliers and their staff, which if you include the cast, involves in the region of 6,500 people. The main difference between the Opening and Closing Ceremonies - apart from the obvious scale - is that whereas the Opening is built and rehearsed in the stadium, Closing must load in overnight. In order to give myself the best possible chance of ensuring that this happened on schedule, I brought with me a team of 22 who have been with me for the last few years. This meant whilst the Opening Ceremony was at the Stadium, we were out in Dagenham on the site of the old Fords Factory, preparing the equipment and practicing putting it up and taking it down. Using music to communicate a strong sense of Great Britain’s vibrant history and culture was crucial for the Closing Ceremony. How did the event organisers and creative team go about choosing the line-up and which tracks would feature in the production? It wasn’t the easiest job for Kim to build such an important show, on the shifting sands of artists’ availability. Whist the choice of artists was of course important, the Symphony was

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INTERVIEW: Olympics Closing Ceremony

Below: Artistic Director, Kim Gavin; Staging Designer, Es Devlin; Lighting Designer, Patrick Woodroffe; Technical Executive, Piers Shepperd.

about the choice of music and the songs which punctuated the story. Looking back on the extraordinary success of the Olympics, you would have thought that every British artist alive would be knocking at our door, wishing to take part in the event. In reality - like putting together any bill - it was a juggle. Many of the artists approached immediately said yes and came to the party with amazing good will, patience and enthusiasm. However, some of the acts which we would have liked to be in the show were unavailable, some fell prey to the scepticism about the Olympics that seemed to grip the nation ahead of the games, and some simply didn’t want to take part.

The Olympic Park site is very different to your standard live event location. What challenges did it present and how were these overcome by the production team? Firstly, the Olympic Stadium is a beautiful brand new venue built specially for these Games. There are always going to be difficulties in the overlap of the tail end of a major and extremely security conscious construction project and the early stages of a production install. This was true of both the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, which I inaugurated with Manic Street Preachers, and of Wembley where we followed George Michael in with Muse. Anyone who had to access the stadium whilst it was still a construction site, will have seen

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96 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

their life ebb away in a series of inductions, accreditation changes and beurocratic hivizzery. Secondly, it’s a sad reality that the Olympic Stadium was and is a target for terrorists and needs protecting with strict security regime. There is no way round this and we needed to work with them. Every person, vehicle and piece of equipment entering the site needed to be security checked and each vehicle arrival time booked in advance. This took an enormous amount of preparation. The speed at which we had to move our equipment into the Stadium meant that we brought the trucks onto the park 24 hours in advance so as not to risk having any of the

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INTERVIEW: Olympics Closing Ceremony

Below: Some of the talented performers hard at work before the Closing Ceremony; Rehearsal of the section when giant jigsaw pieces were moved into place to form the face of legend John Lennon; The event was a celebration of the world’s greatest athletes.

CONTRIBUTORS AUDIO - Delta Sound, Norwest Productions, Autograph, Britannia Row, DiGiCo, L-Acoustics, Sennheiser, Shure, Dolby Lake VIDEO - Creative Technology for Stadium, PRG Nocturne for the Main Stage, Treatment Studios, Crystal Digital, Tait Technologies, Avolites, Immersive, Panasonic LIGHTING - PRG (V676, Best Boy, Bad Boy), GLP, Martin Professional, Clay Paky, Philips Vari-Lite / ELP Syncrolite PYRO - Kimbolton, Pyrojunkies POWER - Power Logistics, Aggreko STAGING - Stageco, Total Solutions Group, Brilliant Stages, Artem, Stage One Creative Services, Fineline, Cardiff Theatrical PRODUCTION RIGGING - Unusual Rigging Ltd AUTOMATION / WINCHES - Stage One BUSSING - Phoenix TRUCKING - Transam / EST SECURITY - The Armed Forces

98 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

trucks not being in position to tip at the time we needed them to. It’s of enormous credit to the Ceremonies Operations team who had to bridge the gap between the needs of the production and the very necessary security requirements of the Olympic Park that none of the trucks experienced difficulties in getting through and that our load-in ran to schedule. What we now have is an incredible new stadium in East London. It has five access vomitoriums through which you can drive trucks, an enormous pitch capacity and a very intimate feel. I really hope it becomes a regular venue on the touring circuit. How did you go about organising the process of loading in everything needed for the event after the last of the games had taken place in preparation for the ceremony. How quick was this turnaround? Between Mo Farah being presented with his gold medal for the 5,000m and the gates opening for the Closing Ceremony there were 18 hours, which - allowing for necessary technical checks and a run though of some of the elements - left us with 15 hours to load in and set up 100 trucks worth of equipment. The preparations were identical to how you would prepare for a tour. As each production element was developed we considered ‘how can we make this quicker and where are the

risks?’. In this area, the team of carpenters we put together, led by Mark Berryman and Rick Worsfold, excelled. We set up a workshop in Dagenham, where we did our production rehearsals and as each bit of scenery would arrive it would be taken apart and assembled many times and wheels were put on everything. As always, we opted for large lumps which would be manoeuvred with forklifts rather than cranes, which are very time consuming. The minute that the stadium authorities gave us the go ahead, we were covering the athletics track with Geotec [a synthetic carpet which allows you to drive forks on it]. We had rolls of this distributed strategically the day before. What qualities did the suppliers chosen for the event need to possess? Can you list the key suppliers and why they were selected? The decision for stadium based suppliers was made by Piers before I joined, as they were to remain in place for all four ceremonies. With regards the choices for the elements for the Closing Ceremony alone, the primary consideration was whether they understood the challenge presented by the load-in schedule. In this respect, we opted for suppliers with backgrounds in the touring music industry. The Main Stage was a scaffolding structure with a second layer of 18mm ply printed with the newspaper print. This element was given

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INTERVIEW: Olympics Closing Ceremony

Below: A total of 86 cars, 12 Transam trucks, 50 Vespas and 10 mopeds were incorporated into the production; Patrick Woodroffe’s extensive experience of lighting stadium shows was evident for all to see on the night; Artistic Director, Kim Gavin, inspects load-in; Rehearsals in full swing.

to Stageco, whom did not flinch at the idea of building the 2,200 sq metres of scaffolding and double skinning the ramps in the 10 hours we had. Our other two main suppliers were Brilliant Stages - who built the knot items, Tower Bridge / Battersea and RAH - and Total Fabrications, who excelled in delivering high quality on time with the main music stage, St Pauls / The Gherkin and Big Ben, from which Timothy Spool appeared at the top of the show. The props for the Closing Ceremony - all 18 truck loads of them - were managed by Dan Shipton, who was also with us on the last Take That tour. The manufacture of these was spread across Fineline (John Lennon Head), Cardiff Theatricals (Pyramid of Boxes), All Effects and the galliant efforts of the in-house props workshop across the road in Marshgate, where volunteers helped to assemble and paint some of the 5,000 props involved in this show. The other significant feature of the Closing Ceremony was the 86 cars, 12 Trasam trucks, 50 Vespas, 10 mopeds, bicycles, taxis, a bus which turned into an octopus and four tipper trucks, which gave us the video screens for the Freddie Mercury projection. All of these were choreographed and rehearsed by Paul English, Stage Manager for Muse. This was a very major project all on its own, driven again by volunteer drivers, apart from the truck drivers. 100 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

What impressed you most in the ceremony, from a production perspective? Is there a particular piece of equipment or technology that particularly stood out? It was great to have a flying grid over a stadium, I wish that more stadia did. It would eliminate the need for ugly delay towers and, as we look at the aerial shots, the stadium looks so clean. The pixels had the wow factor, but the stars had to be the volunteer performers and crew and the people who managed the process of finding, administering and keeping them enthused. The volunteers had nothing to be gained apart from the desire to participate. Coming from a sometimes cynical and profit driven industry, it was a great thing to witness the enthusiasm of people who just wanted to be part of what we were putting together. The pixel boxes that were controlled by Avolites Media / Immersive Ai Infinity Servers and featured LEDs created by Tait Technologies attached to every seat of the 80,000-capacity arena were used to great effect in the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. What were the initial discussions surrounding the visual impact the show needed to make and how did the team go about achieving this? It was a perfect medium for us, as pop culture and massive visual screen content go hand in hand. The fact that it was installed for the Opening and left in for us gave our creative team

KEY CREW Artistic Director - Kim Gavin Technical Executive - Piers Shepperd Operations Executive - Mik Auckland Staging Designer - Es Devlin Technical Manager / Aerial & Special Projects - James Lee Senior Production Manager - Chris Vaughan Technical Design & Staging Manager - Jeremy Lloyd Senior Administrator Technical - Andrew Morgan Production Manager Scenic - Dave Williams Stage Manager (load-in / out) - Mark Berryman Stage Manager (Rock ‘n’ Roll Stage) - Mike Grove Head Set Carpenter - Rick Worsfold Prodution Manager Props - Dan Shipton Production Coordinators - Emma Nielson and Zoe Buttling Senior PM Audio & Coms - Chris Ekers Audio Designer - Bobby Aitken FOH Sound Engineer - Gary Bradshaw Monitor Engineer - Steve Watson Lighting Designer - Patrick Woodroffe Production Manager Vehicles - Paul English Technical Manager Cauldron and Services - Scott Buchanan Technical Manager Scenic and Props - Ted Irwin Technical Manager Lighting, Video and Power - Nick Jones

INTERVIEW: Olympics Closing Ceremony

Below: The Union Flag roadways arched up in the centre to create a knot with the London Eye structure; Pixel boxes attached to every seat of the arena were used to great effect in both the Opening Ceremony and Closing Ceremony.

an incredible opportunity. I was delighted not to have another six truck loads of gear to be loaded in as it was left in across the Olympics. Sam Pattinson and his team from Treatment Studios as ever did a great job in producing content which dazzled and was relevant to the song and complemented the lighting. Effective illumination is a key part of any largescale event and with Patrick Woodroffe on board as Lighting Designer, the ceremony was in capable hands. Why was Woodroffe the obvious choice for the role and what were the key considerations for the lighting aspect of the production? Effective illumination is a good choice of words, in that there were four ceremonies to cover. Patrick has more experience in lighting stadium shows than anyone. The Opening Ceremony had the advantage of carrying out its production rehearsals in the stadium, but as with all other ceremonies, because so many of the cast were volunteers, these rehearsals would be carried out during the day and rely on overnight programing sessions. In addition to his own individual vision and talent, Patrick brings with him a team who allow for the creative process to carry on day and night to maximise the hours of darkness for programing. For the Closing we made a scale groundcloth to replica the centre stage and ramps and meticulous story-boarding of the show allowed Patrick to plan the lighting cues in advance. They only had a few overnight sessions available for us, between August 3 and 10, during which time we needed to programme this complex show. Watching it back on TV a few days after the event, I thought the results were amazing. With music being the central theme running throughout the whole show, audio quality was undoubtedly of great importance. What equipment at FOH, monitor world and in the PA configuration made this possible? We used two DiGiCo SD7’s in all control positions - FOH, monitors and broadcast - and all signal paths both in and out had a digital main 102 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

with an analogue backup. This was achieved by using Optocore, Dolby Lake Processors and a fully redundant analogue multicore. All PA was L-Acoustics with 220 V-DOSC, 55 Arcs, 88 KUDO and 88 SB18 subs. All monitoring was done using Sennheiser G3 IEMs and microphones were a mixture of Shure and Sennheiser. Because of the very limited time and with 31 music artists to get ready for, we set up a studio at 3 Mills for all artists to come and address the audio issues, as we knew that at best, we would have one dress rehearsal at Dagenham and the chance to run their song once only as part of a stagger through on the day. This proved very successful as when the artists and their engineers arrived on site for the dress rehearsal most of the audio issues had been resolved and the bands all felt that they were amongst friends. What factors came into play when tailoring the event for the audience in the stadium as well as those watching the show at home? It was important that the show ran like a gig and the feedback from the live audience was critical in keeping the energy levels of the show up. Kim is the master at crafting shows which flow naturally and the Closing Ceremony was very much a show designed for the public which was televised, rather than the other way round. It had to be, as again there was no time to rehearse this for any more than a few hours in the stadium before the public came in. We had some very difficult technical transitions to make and I am enormously proud that we did not have to deploy any of the emergency VTs on our account. Although during our rehearsal in the afternoon it looked like we may have to put an episode of Eastenders in to cover the striking of the London landmarks, on the night it ran very smoothly. At the rock ‘n’ roll stage end, we had Mike Grove stage managing the many bands appearing. The Closing Ceremony is of a far grander scale than anything most industry professionals have encountered. What valuable experience has it

provided you with that you will take on to future shows? Despite the size and complexity of this show, it still felt manageable, and I went into the load-in feeling relaxed about the outcome. I am not the most technically able Production Manager, but can hold my nerve, believing that If you have a plan of action and a great team of people to execute it, there is no need to panic. It will turn out all right...probably. The Olympics has taken much of our resources this year, although we kicked off the year by looking after Coldplay’s promotional shows, and whilst myself and Zoe Buttling have been working on the Closing Ceremony, Keely Myers and Paddy Hocken have been looking after Biffy Clyro and Cher Lloyd. Paddy is currently working on the Paralympics Closing Ceremony which having seen what Misty Buckley has come up with, I cant wait to see. I’m going to be one of the volunteers, helping with their load-in. With a global audience of millions glued to their screens watching the concert in addition to the crowd in the stadium, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. What was your highlight from an unforgettable evening? Unfortunately I didn’t get to watch any of the athletics until the last day. Having come into the stadium well ahead of time, waiting for the stadium to be handed over to us to start the load-in, I was able to go up to the control booth, where I watched Mo Farah win the 5000m. This was a magical moment. As Mo stepped onto the victory podium and our crew was waiting in the vomitoriums with pitch protection ready and scaffold stillages sitting on the forks ready to roll in, I thought ‘they may say it’s not about the winning, it’s the taking part, but in 14 hours we have to start a show run through and this is not a race you would ever want to lose’. Some of the assembled cast of supermodels weren’t too bad either... TPi Photography: Ben Delfont, Sally-Anne Dodd, L2012 and AFP / Getty Images


IN THE SPOTLIGHT FOR THE FIRST INSTALL OF OUR BRAND NEW SECTION, TPi’S KELLY MURRAY ATTENDED THE LAUNCH OF HARMAN SOUNDCRAFT’S LATEST RANGE OF AUDIO MIXERS, WITH A DIFFERENCE. HARMAN’S ANDY TROTT TELLS HOW THE SI PERFORMER MAY JUST LIGHT UP YOUR WAY OF THINKING... “Obviously we’ve started something here. We’ve lit a fire and it’s going to burn; it’s going to get bigger,” said Andy Trott, Harman’s VP and GM of Mixers, Microphones and Headphones at the launch of Soundcraft’s latest product range. By the company’s own admission, it takes something completely different to make a digital audio console stand out from the crowd these days, but Harman’s Soundcraft has done exactly that with the launch of the Soundcraft Si Performer range of mixers, which, thanks to the integrated DMX functionality, adds lighting control options to an already impressive and powerful audio feature set. Trott highlighted: “I’ve tried to create a very innovative culture within our business, and I was very involved with the Si Compact, the control surface I actually designed a lot of personally. With the Si Performer, one of our guys said, “Why don’t we put lighting into the console?” 104 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

and I wasn’t sure about it at all at first. So, we thought through the business models - which is very important - and it struck a chord. I can’t be credited with the idea, but I do have a really excellent team. It’s about thinking outside the box, and it shows the culture of integration at Harman is there.” Trott noted that the launch - which took place at London’s Soho Theatre in mid August - went exceptionally well, and was intended to make a big impact pre-PLASA. The enthusiasm for the new generation of technology integration, (debatably a brave one) he says comes from the type of employees Harman has on its work force. “So many people are in bands and enjoy recording, they’re musicians and engineers and they really love our industry. You often hear people saying “my work is an extension of my hobby” but for us, it really is.” The Si Performer builds upon the successful Si Compact range to which it bears a likeness,

providing almost twice as much DSP power and increased functionality, with an input capacity of 80 inputs to mix on all models. The built-in I/O does not disappoint: Si Performer 2 with 24 mic and eight line inputs, and the Si Performer 3 with 32 mic and eight line inputs, plus the four FX return channels. The provision of two option card slots allows I/O expansion via any of the Soundcraft stageboxes and option cards from the Soundcraft ViSi Connect range, giving the possibility of patching up to 80 inputs to mix, or from CobraNet, AVIOM or AES inputs via the appropriate cards. The unique integration of a DMX512 port offers core lighting control. The first release of software provides four scene masters (A-D) with associated slave channels on the ALT fader layers, individual colour intensities or parameters are set on the slave faders with an overall master level fader, which itself may be assigned to any of the main fader layers for

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Opening Page: Andy Trott talked TPi though the journey of the Si Performer. Below: The Si Performer console; The Beatnicks on stage; Andy Trott, Keith Watson, Dave Neal and Richard Ayres at Soho Theatre; Westend star Kerry Elis [Wicked, War of the Worlds] showed pro skills.

simultaneous access to audio and lighting levels. To automate the process, DMX settings may be stored alongside audio settings in the snapshot system, so both may be recalled automatically by a single button press or via an external MIDI command. With selective isolation, snapshots with just audio or lighting parameter changes may be recalled. “We’ve wanted to say this is the first console of its kind in the world, but you have to be very careful when you make claims like that, however, we’ve done a lot of research and I’m confident to say that this is the first. It’s important we don’t give the wrong impression; we’re not trying to be a big lighting manufacturer and this isn’t meant to compete with a full lighting console, but for the audience we do target, this could really change the way people work. You can have one engineer operating both audio and lighting,” elaborated Trott. “At this moment, we’ve targeted very specific markets and businesses. It’s great for smaller bands and small theatres, and it will work great in corporate hospitality. It eradicates costs and it’s greener for a start. We are naïve on lighting at the moment; I don’t mind admitting that. We’re not a lighting company but the technology is there to help us. “It often works out interestingly because you don’t look at it in a traditional way and it’s really exciting to be merging the markets. When you 106 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

work in technology it’s always amazing to be a part of something that could be an acorn. This is exciting territory. We saw from the Olympics opening ceremony the importance of lighting and video. There’s always another angle, and we try to provide a solution on a smaller scale, but the options are limitless,” the VP told TPi. The console was showcased with the sounds of The Beatnicks and Westend singer, Kerry Ellis beautifully lit. The entire design process only took around a year to complete; a fast turn around by any standard, but the idea was soon crystal clear. Trott added: “When we first thought about it, we thought that lighting was quite complicated as it wasn’t something we know about, but actually, the technology behind it is straightforward. Once we thought about how to map it on the audio console, it was great. We have the trump card with the fader glow... It’s so simple to operate. It’s literally a case of pushing the fader to control the lighting.” And, continuing the notion of providing technical support for its clients, the Harman brands will be putting a large emphasis on training across the board for both Soundcraft and Studer consoles. The feature-packed audio console with fullyparametric 4-band EQ as standard on all input channels, and as usual on Soundcraft’s digital range, BSS graphic EQs on all bus outputs. This is in addition to the already standard filters,

gates, compressors and delays on all inputs, compressors and delays on all outputs, which when calculated delivers the equivalent of over 220 rack units of processing in a tiny footprint. Unlike many other digital consoles at this price point, all this processing is fully available all of the time, there are no compromises on the amount of DSP in use. A total of fourteen mixes may be configured in various combinations of mono and stereo to a total of 20 mix busses; great for mixing in-ears and wedges in a monitor situation. These busses are supplemented by four stereo matrix mixes, four dedicated FX busses, and three master Mix busses which offer true LCR mode mixing make the buss structure immensely powerful. Users can now enjoy the addition of eight VCA Groups and eight mute groups, which now start to show the absolute power of this new console from the Soundcraft stable. Each channel features a custom LCD screen to show identifications such as channel name, assignments, graphic EQ frequencies and DMX data, plus signal metering. The Si Performer will be controllable from the Soundcraft ViSi Remote iPad app along with the Soundcraft Vi Series, Vi1 and Si Compact consoles. The Si Performer range will be on display at PLASA, Marlborough 1 Room, from Sunday September 9. TPi




DON’T BLAME IT ON THE SUNSHINE Show cancelled for health and safety reasons. It’s an oft and over-used phrase that is, invariably, followed by groans and moans and perhaps a newspaper headlie (sic). And who can blame people for moaning, as health and safety seems to be stifling fun at every turn?

Of course, health and safety covers a vast spectrum of reasons, from genuine concern for public safety, to lack of ticket sales, and safety professionals are left feeling aggrieved when their profession is dragged through the mud through misinformation, often in the mainstream press. Here in the UK, once ‘health and safety gone mad’ headlines hit the papers, the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) defensive PR machine kicks in, dispatching letters to editors on a regional and national level. Just check out their press centre for pithy headlines such as ‘HSE responds to This is Lincolnshire article “Health and safety fears lead to ‘laughable’ mock-up of Jolly Fisherman statue in Skegness”’. It certainly seems that the HSE has developed some kind of web-bot that scans the press for those dreaded words, as soon as they’re mentioned, there’s a rebuttal, and rightly so – in most cases. 108 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

Take the recent Bruce Springsteen concerts in Hyde Park, hitting the headlines after Live Nation pulled the plug before the end of encores featuring Paul McCartney (insert Olympic Opening Ceremony gag here). Online media was quick to pounce, followed by the national papers the next day and, in an early, perhaps rather hasty release, Live Nation mentioned, you guessed it, good old health and safety. Cue HSE response machine, this time with the added advantage of someone senior, Kevin Myers, Deputy Chief Executive, being a longstanding Bruce Springsteen fan and one of the crowd at Hard Rock Calling, he said: “I was doubly disappointed to hear Live Nation give ‘health and safety’ as the reason for cutting short Saturday’s gig. “The fans deserve the truth: there are no health and safety issues involved here. While public events may have licensing conditions dictating when they should end, this is not

health and safety and it is disingenuous of Live Nation to say so. “It’s ironic that this excuse has been used in relation to Bruce Springsteen, who certainly knows what real health and safety is all about - look at the words of ‘Factory’ from Darkness on the Edge of Town referring to the toll that factory work can take on the health of blue collar workers. “People will now only be able to speculate what the final number should have been. Given that he’d already played Wrecking Ball and that Paul McCartney was on stage, how about Don’t Let Me Down?” And what a great opportunity for a civil servant to make the world aware of their encyclopaedic knowledge of Springsteen’s work, coupled with their in-depth learning of all things H&S. But just hang on there Mr Myers, why so disappointed? Surely you would understand that there were safety issues that concerned, surely the fact that Live Nation has a legal obligation to those affected by their undertaking, the punters, the crowd, to ensure their, er, health and safety. Sure, there are strict curfew restrictions in Hyde Park, and it is common knowledge that licensing conditions are getting ever-tighter. Yet many of those conditions are borne of the need to protect the, you guessed it, health and safety of the fans. 80,000 people leaving an arena is a logistical challenge, the team at Live Nation are fine exponents. They care about the safety of fans before, during and after shows so, perhaps a beyond-curfew finish could cause a rush for the last bus/tube/train, maybe there were road closures that were about to be lifted, increasing the risk of accidents. Yes, risk, something that the HSE place at the root of their advice. Assess risk and take reasonably practicable measures to reduce it as low as possible. Licensing conditions yes, conditions laid down for reasons of health and safety, sensible, achievable measures to reduce risk to fans. Not at all disingenuous, considering Opposite: Organisers cited unforeseen circumstances with their site hire contract for pulling Underage Festival, an event for 13 to 18-year-olds.

the many events that have been refused licenses for not meeting conditions that are directly related to the Health and Safety of customers. Of course, Live Nation has other risks to assess in Hyde Park. The Hit Factory show that was due to be held a few days prior to Springsteen’s was cancelled due to biblical downpours rendering the site unusable. The risk was the cancellation of the weekend’s events, were crowds unleashed on the sodden ground. The answer, the method of reducing the risk of cancellation and, of course, injuries to fans, was to cancel the Wednesday event and add a layer of wood chippings to the entire site. Full consultation with insurers also reduces the financial risk, a full refund reducing the disappointment for the tens of people keen to see the Kylie and Jason reunion. Take two other London events that were cancelled this summer. Bloc Weekend, called off because of overcrowding. Risks not properly assessed, site layout, ticketing, so many reasons given but, at the root of it ll, the consideration for the health and safety of the public, just like in Hyde Park. And the Underage Festival, perhaps having a little more time than Live Nation to prepare a statement said: “It is with great sadness that we announce Underage Festival will no longer be taking place

this year on Friday 31st August. “Due to the Olympics we were forced into moving from our usual date and home in Victoria Park to a later date and new location in Shoreditch Park. Despite a positive start to the site move from Victoria Park and repeated assurances that production levels would be suitable for a festival of this kind, we now find ourselves in a situation where we have no choice but to cancel the event. “Unforeseen circumstances with our site hire contract mean we are no longer able to meet production levels and we do not want to risk the safety and smooth running of an event for 13-18 year olds.” Interesting use of the ‘S’ word in that statement, notice the absence of the ‘H’ word? But, it’s just another example of a promoter taking the safety of its customers seriously, even more so, it seems, because of the age range of the fans. How many of those shortfalls in production levels would have breached licensing conditions? Maybe some, maybe none, but they would have still been ‘Health and Safety’ reasons. It’s the subtle but simple, simple yet effective removal of the words ‘Health and’ that turns yet another target of tabloid mockery into a statement that reaches the right audience

through the right media. So, from an article written in defence of a team that puts heart and soul into a quality product and safe events, to a lesson in PR, make decisions that are concerned with the safety of your fans, rather than health and safety. That just leaves us wondering what the Health and Safety Executive should change their name to.

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MARKET FOCUS: Rental houses and hire companies


Adlib Solutions was established in 1984 and as each decade goes by a new dimension has been added resulting in an incredibly well-stocked production and corporate facility. Adlib has developed into a true ‘one-stop’ solutions company utilising all leading brands including L-Acoustics K1 systems, Soundcraft and Avid audio consoles, Martin Professional and Clay Paky lighting, grandMA, Avolites and High End Systems consoles, Pixled LED screens, Sony HD cameras, Panasonic vision mixers and Christie Projectors. One of the current projects for its production facility and team is touring theatres and arenas with the BBC’s BAFTA winning Mrs Brown’s Boys.


Audiolease is one of the oldest established audio rental companies in the UK with roots going back to 1978. It became a major force during the 1980’s, providing systems for acts such as Motörhead, Depeche Mode and U2. The company pioneered the use of Meyer Systems in European touring rental equipment, and was hugely influential in perfecting compact audio touring packages. In the ‘90s, the company was absorbed into Electrotec, creating an intercontinental operation, handling clients such as Aerosmith, Lenny Kravitz, Rod Stewart, Nickleback and Bob Dylan. In 2001, Audiolease became independent once again, maintaining its presence as a major European audio systems company from its base near Cambridge.


Audio Plus provides rental systems to suit almost any application. Whether for a single microphone or an arena audio system, you’ll find that every piece of equipment hired out by Audio Plus is thoroughly maintained and fully prepared by trained technicians before leaving the warehouse. Audio Plus tour and event crew members are fully trained to the relevant standards and beyond in every aspect, including the vital considerations of health and safety. Audio Plus is the largest Funktion-One rental partner in the UK and Europe. With over 17 years of experience working with a whole host of clients, it supplies the perfect Funktion-One system.


Britannia Row has provided audio services since 1975, throughout the world, for major touring artistes and events from its London base and via its extensive international affiliates. The company’s many years of experience extends from concert halls to stadiums and it carries a wide range of speaker equipment including the L-Acoustics and Outline ranges, Turbosound and d&b audiotechnik wedge monitors and a variety of consoles including the full Midas range, Avid, Digico and Yamaha.


Capital Sound Hire is a UK rental company based in London that has been serving the live music industry for over 25 years. With so many suppliers to choose from, it’s the company’s experience, service support and project management that makes it unique. As well as live music, the company also supplies comedy, sport and corporate events and tours. Its equipment inventory is constantly updated and includes discrete compact vocal PAs to stadium and outdoor festival systems. Project Managers will advise on the best solution at competitive prices. Brands for hire include Meyer Sound, Midas, Martin Audio and Sennheiser and XTA.


Chameleon Pro Audio & Lighting Ltd supply all types of audio and lighting equipment, clients include private individuals, corporate, local authority, promoters and venues. Dry hire, wet hire and event production are all part of the core business as well as installations and sales. From over the counter, to festival production for audiences up to 15,000, Chameleon stocks a wide range of products from many manufacturers; Sennheiser, Martin Professional, RCF, Crown, Shure, Avolites, HK Audio, Allen & Heath and Crest. Recent acquisitions include Sennheiser ew500 G3 Channel 38 radio systems, singles and racks, RCF HDL20A line array and Sub8006 subs and Allen & Heath iLive T112 and IDR 48 rack. Chameleon also hires with other companies.

110 • TPi AUGUST 2012

MARKET FOCUS: Rental houses and hire companies


Concert Sound was formed in 1968. Concert Sound Clair is now a premier global sound reinforcement provider and acknowledged audio industry leader, offering a complete array of state-of-the-art products, technical staff and services to the professional live events industry. It believes that service is the key to excellence. Its attention to detail is legendary and back up and support is available worldwide. Live means live: you don’t get a second chance with any part of a performance, or a second chance with a client. Every moment is unique and valuable and to date Clair’s long list of loyal clients includes Sting and Roger Waters.


Creative Technology (CT) is arguably one of the world’s largest AV specialists with operations across Europe, the US, Asia and the Middle East. With a vast inventory of LED, projection and display products, combined with media servers and production systems suited to small theatres through to global Opening Ceremonies. Clients include Peter Gabriel and Radiohead in addition to big UK festivals. CT provides everything needed to turn creative ideas into technical reality, from Wimbledon and the PGA European Tour to venues at a recent major sports event in London where CT provided large screens and production systems for the highly acclaimed Sports Presentation. CT’s portfolio includes ceremonies in Athens and Beijing alongside the Diamond Jubilee.


Crystal Sound has more than 30 years of experience in the event business. In that time, the client’s needs have always come first. It has provided PA, lighting, rigging, and backline to a wide range of events. d&b audiotechnik PA systems, Yamaha, DiGiCo, Soundcraft, Midas, Philips Vari-Lite, Robe and MA Lighting are just a small summary of a big list of products it can provide. The in-house venue, Crystal Ballroom, gives customers the possibility of full production rehearsals including catering, crewrooms and production offices. The partnership of Rock Shop Music Store and Rock Shop Backline rental allows the offering of a huge variety of instruments, amps, cabinets and accessories.


London based Colour Sound Experiment is a busy lighting and visuals design and rental company well known for its work in all areas of live entertainment and events, particularly in the music, dance and corporate sectors. CSE also specialises in long term installations and has several high profile reference sites in clubs and live music venues. The company has a large stock of the latest and most popular moving light brands, LED and generic fixtures, trussing and rigging, control consoles as well as its own bespoke brand of LED screen. The management team is all actively involved in designing and project managing shows, and are known for their knowledgeable, practical approach, great attitude and skilled crews.


Manchester based dbn is a dynamic and well established lighting and visuals design and rental company with large resources of the latest technology including lighting, rigging, trussing and LED screen. The company works internationally across all sectors, including live and corporate events and installations, music and the arts. It engages in some particularly innovative and off-beat projects in live arts and performance working in a variety of interesting venues and more conventional spaces. dbn has a strong and experienced project management team known for its collaborative style and team vision. It is also renowned for an innovative approach to rigging projects.


DBSL Limited is a small professional hire and full production company. It prides itself on the quality of work and equipment produced at great value. Specialising in theatre and live events, it is able to tailor any quotation and design to the client’s needs and more importantly, budget. Director, Dan Bunn, is keen that as the company develops, the client is still offered that personal touch from start to finish on the job, dealing with the same account handler all the way through, and actually having someone at the end of the phone. DBSL is able to offer lighting, rigging, staging and sound for all kinds of live events and production.

TPi AUGUST 2012 • 111

MARKET FOCUS: Rental houses and hire companies


Delta Sound offers unparalleled quality of service and support across its range of services, which include sound design, equipment rental, equipment sales and communication systems. Whatever the size of project, Delta Sound will consider all aspects of the sound production process from the initial brief throughout the design process and right through to delivery and completion. Delta Sound has been in the business for over 20 years and has built up a large portfolio of reputable clients across the world and is regularly appointed for large corporate events, Royal shows, charity dinners and conferences. The company’s success is built on the trust, skill and dedication of their committed and enthusiastic team.


Aretha Franklin, Beastie Boys, Moby and Barry Manilow... the list goes on and on. Eighth Day Sound Systems, Inc. has long standing touring relationships with some of the most renowned artists in the entertainment industry. Since 1980, the company has been contributing to the success of live performances by artists of every genre, using leading technology from manufacturers including L-Acoustics, d&b audiotechnik, DiGiCo, Yamaha, Lake and TC Electronics. Eighth Day Sound’s equipment is ruggedly packaged with transportation efficiencies in mind. Years of careful engineering and planning allows the company to provide the finest, most complete product in the industry. In addition, its in-house inventory of 120V / 240V transformers allows seamless service to artists from overseas.


Entec is the longest established sound and lighting production and rental company in the UK, having built up a substantial reputation for excellence since the ‘70s. Offering all the latest sound and lighting technologies and projection systems, Entec is also renowned for its technicians, project management and administration who make the company an efficient and friendly operation. As a service company, Entec is recognised for quality, knowledge, expertise and the value it can bring to productions of all types via its well established global partnerships with like-minded companies and individuals. Cost effective and coherent packages can include travel, trucking and admin in addition to the technical equipment supply.


HSL is the UK’s fastest growing lighting and visuals rental company, working in all sectors of live entertainment, television theatre and corporate events and presentations. The company has built a solid reputation from being friendly and accessible whilst delivering the very highest standards of excellence, with a dedicated highly, focussed teamwork on all levels. HSL continually invests in the latest technology in the quest to offer its clients the maximum choices and efficient pricing. This year HSL moved into a new 240,000 sq ft warehouse and office facility that houses its comprehensive stock of lighting, trussing and rigging together with the latest automation systems and LED screens, embracing visuals as a complete entity.


Intasound P.A. & Lighting specialises in the hire and sale of professional sound, lighting and staging equipment to the entertainment industry. Established in ’88 in Worcestershire, UK, Intasound is committed to providing a high quality, no compromise service complemented by the very latest industry standard equipment. Its team of professional personnel has a wide range of experience and skills to ensure your event runs smoothly. Competitive rates are available for sound, lighting and staging packages offering substantial production cost savings. Intasound is a proud supplier to many high profile bands, solo artists, major sporting events, film and television, theatres and live music venues internationally.


Whatever kind of show you’re putting on, JPJ can design the ideal sound system for it. It has got every possible requirement covered, from basic vocal mics to the best line array speaker systems and everything in between. Constantly on the lookout for new and exciting technologies, in the last decade, the move away from analogue equipment has generated a massive change in the way live sound is produced and managed, and JPJ’s sound systems incorporate all the best features that digital technology has to offer. Rental stock includes L-Acoustics, Yamaha, Midas, Nexo, Shure, Soundcraft, Lake and Clair and Crown.


MediaLas is a professional manufacturer and provider to the touring laser entertainment industry for more than 20 years. MediaLas supplies laser projectors, laser systems, laser software, accessories and effects, along with show and event production from intimate indoor to large outdoor events. Its experienced crew operates worldwide, creating stunning laser experiences and laser entertainment. By developing and producing its entire technology in-house, MediaLas is in a position to react quickly and adapt to ideas and needs easily. 112 • TPi AUGUST 2012

MARKET FOCUS: Rental houses and hire companies


Neg Earth offers a wide variety of services within the lighting hire industry including project management, lighting design, fabrication, crew supply and maintenance. The office in North West London houses over 30 employees working in a dynamic, enthusiastic and committed environment. Neg Earth’s extensive purposebuilt warehouse facility not only acts as secure storage but also provides spacious rehearsal space. The company has worked with many a prestigious tour and stocks brands including Avolites, High End Systems Wholehog, MA Lighting, i-PIX, Robe and ETC.


Orbital is a major supplier of sound and communication systems and design solutions for the theatre, live event, conference, exhibition, visitor attraction, film and television industries and is an ISO9001 certified company. Based in the UK, the company supplies professional audio solutions for sale or rental to clients in any part of the globe coupled with outstanding levels of support - all aided by overseas business partners. Orbital’s sound systems are synonymous with theatre - be it supplying London’s latest international musicals or supplying amateur companies. The rental desk is always competitive, informative and approachable and its easiHire online bookings facility can advise and guide 24/7.


POLARaudio is a supplier of key industry brands into the pro audio and live music sectors, with exclusive UK distribution for brands including XTA Electronics, MC2 Audio, AD-Systems, Renkus-Heinz, ASL and Aviom. The POLARaudio product portfolio provides the complete package from MC2 pro audio amplifiers, Renkus-Heinz line-array loudspeakers, XTA electronics audio management and distribution, to Aviom audio networking and DSP, ASL Digital intercom and its newest addition AD-Systems high quality loudspeaker range designed specifically for the touring and fixed installation market. POLARaudio offers its customers impeccable choice. Its large stock holding ensures fast delivery whilst its staff offers the highest level of sales and technical support.


PRG is a leading supplier of entertainment technology and event engineering. Working across a range of markets, including concert touring, corporate events, theatre, special events, and film and television, the company is uniquely placed to draw on an extensive global network of locations, equipment and resources. PRG’s Account Managers have years of experience in specialised fields, and is backed by a project management team whose technical knowledge is unparalleled. PRG is committed to ensuring your event is as memorable and trouble-free as possible. For any given event they can provide a single technical discipline, whether that be lighting, rigging, audio, video or LED, or an integrated solution for the entire project.


Scalable Sound Systems specialise in full service live and DJ sound services into the touring and corporate sectors. Their primary focus is on Funktion-One loudspeakers and Midas Pro Series consoles, with power and control by MC2 Audio and XTA. Scalable is aiming to provide world-class support for the Midas digital console series by leveraging the skills of its sister company, Scale Abilities, to provide exceptional support for users of its equipment, including remote diagnostics support. The website includes a Midas Pro6 blog about systems internals, and the company runs the Midas Pro Series and XL8 mailing lists.


Berkshire based Skan PA is a supplier of audio equipment to festivals and gigs throughout the UK. In the company’s history, Skan PA has worked with rock legends including Def Leopard and Whitesnake at London’s Wembley Arena. Rental stock includes Yamaha, d&b audiotechnik, L-Acoustics, Midas, Soundcraft and Avid.


Solotech offers an unparalleled experience by bringing together a team of approximately 500 dedicated specialists with 35 years of expertise in sound, lighting, video and rigging on both local and international stages. The company explores the best technological solutions to bring client’s projects to life. Solotech has provided technological solutions for multiple festivals, television shows and major corporate events. On an international level, Solotech has provided equipment and specialised staff for several artists touring the globe including Britney Spears, Michael Bublé, Kylie Minogue and Leonard Cohen amongst many others. 114 • TPi AUGUST 2012

MARKET FOCUS: Rental houses and hire companies


Sound By Design is a specialist sound designer and professional live audio equipment supplier that has built up a significant reputation with many of the most prestigious venues and clients in the UK and across mainland Europe. Its expert knowledge has seen Sound By Design work in many acoustically challenging environments where the team’s continued success has led to work on numerous high-profile events. From conferences to corporate entertainment, charity evenings to fashion shows, private parties and beyond, the team of experienced Project Managers can provide a full production service or individual technical elements from impressive in-house resources.


Founded in 1976, SSE Hire provides audio for concerts, tours, festivals and just about every other type of public event with systems from L-Acoustics, Nexo and Meyer Sound. It also supplies control and monitor packages, based around the largest inventory of digital mixing consoles in the UK. SSE operates from warehouses in London, Redditch and Bradford, plus Paris and Nantes in France. With some of the top stage and system techs in the business, SSE design systems to provide the best audience coverage for shows, tours or venues. Specialists in IEM and radio systems, digital line systems and packaging, SSE is able to provide anything from a single microphone or DJ package to a full blown L-Acoustics K1 system.


STS has a substaintal stock of Litedeck staging, truss, associated fittings, Manfrotto stands, motor chain hoists and general rigging equipment. A full European delivery and collection service is available, with full European back up on all hires. All stock is serviced regularly, and maintained to the highest possible standards. All stock is checked thoroughly prior to dispatch. With a vast inventory of lighting equipment and ancillary products, the STS Lighting Hire department can cater for your every need at very competitive pricing with a very high level of service. Stock includes NEXO, JBL, Martin, Midas, DiGiCo, Soundcraft, Allen & Heath, Lab.gruppen, DAS, XTA, Klark Technik, Drawmer, Yamaha, Roland, Sennheiser, Shure, AKG, Neumann and much more.


T Servis has been supplying production support in Central Europe for over two decades. The company produces around 1,500 events every year, from such notable music festivals as Nova Rock and Frequency Festival to fashion shows and numerous concerts throughout the region. Currently T Servis is preparing for the upcoming European tour with Il Divo in which it will be traveling with L-Acoustics audio products and Martin moving lighting fixtures. Other product lines available through T Servis are Avolites, Avid, ARRI lighting, NiVtec staging, and CM Loadstar motors. From the ground up, T Servis can build your stage, light it, make your sound crystal clear, then project it on to any number of video products stocked in-house.


VME is a diverse company that provides a wide range of equipment and services to the entertainment, touring, corporate and broadcast industries. Almost all events VME work with are live. Over the last 15 years VME has developed to provide cutting edge technical solutions to a wide variety of customers that demand the highest standards from suppliers. VME provides all aspects of event production from concept to completion; sound, lighting and AV through to staging, generators and LED screens. VME has just invested in Martin Audio’s MLA range and is a UK distributor for many pro sound and lighting manufacturers, as well as being a UK importer for Kling & Freitag sound systems.


Wigwam has been established for over 30 years as a leading supplier of sound systems, equipment for touring applications and dry hire. It has a purpose built warehouse and workshops in excess of 32,000 sq ft allowing meticulous preparation and maintenance of equipment prior to shipping around the world. The rental department can also supply the latest equipment on a dry hire basis and can guarantee delivery throughout Europe and to many parts of the world. As well as the latest equipment being available, engineers and technicians can be provided who have been highly trained in the use of the company’s inventory.


XL Video has had a busy 2012 so far. The company has supplied high profile events and shows including projectors and LED for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert; bespoke circular screens for Coldplay’s UK stadium tour; LED, plasmas and audio for several clients at Goodwood Festival of Speed; and over 1,000 tiles of Pixled F-12 LED for Stone Roses’ triumphant reunion shows. XL has also provided video, cameras, and projection for conferences, festivals and club nights throughout this year’s summer season in Ibiza. XL is renowned for being versatile and supplies a broad cross section of industries. XL’s depth of experience and continued investment in new equipment ensures a place as the supplier of choice. 116 • TPi AUGUST 2012


MOVERS & SHAKERS A.C. Entertainment Technologies (AC-ET) Ltd. has announced the resignation of Cally Bacchus, with his departure taking effect on 18 December. Bacchus will continue in his role as the company’s International Sales Director until then, allowing for a period of transition to appoint his successor. AC-ET Managing Director, Phill Capstick, said: “I would like to thank Cally for the contribution he has made over the past 15 years, and wish him all the best for the future.” Bacchus commented: “I am proud to have been part of AC-ET for the past 15 years, and have thoroughly enjoyed working with such a long established and experienced sales team. I wish the company every success in the future and have no doubt that it will continue to offer excellent service and supports to its overseas customer base.” Elsewhere, industry veteran Greg Oshiro has joined Community Professional Loudspeakers in the position of Senior Design Engineer. Oshiro will play a key role in new product evaluation, design and development. Oshiro comes to Community after several years as President and Principal Consultant at Arlington, TX-based Greppen Solutions. Previously, he served as Technical Director for L-Acoustics US, where he was responsible for a wide range of technical manufacturing processes. He has also held highlevel engineering positions at Universal Studios Japan, Advanced Media Design, Maryland Sound, and Clair Brothers Audio. Avolites Ltd has appointed Koy Neminathan to the position of Sales Director and JB Toby as Technical Director, effective immediately. Welcoming the two newly made appointments, Steve Warren stated; “I’m delighted to welcome Koy and JB into their new positions at Avolites. Their talent, commitment and drive are unquestionable. Restructuring the Board of Directors will enable us to further expand and strengthen our capabilities within all industry fields. Their unique understanding of the company’s goals and needs, as well as the close relationship they have with our customers, means that they have an uncapped ability to 118 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

drive the company forward. Green Hippo is excited to introduce Mercedes Stevao-Boase as a new member of the marketing team. Stevao-Boase joined Green Hippo as its Marketing Executive and she will be responsible for increasing the brand’s online presence via numerous social media platforms and other tools. Estelle Chung also joins Green Hippo as a new Product Design Intern and will be working closely with the product team to further develop Hippotizer as well as look at new ideas for expanding the Green Hippo range of products. Technical Director, Sean Westgate, said: “We are really excited to be able to collaborate with such a renowned institution as Brunel University and get some young talent to work here at Green Hippo. It broadens our skillset and at the same time gives young designers such as Estelle a unique chance to get stuck in at the deep end.” Meanwhile, Lift Turn Move has announced the appointment of Dan Holme to Director of the Entertainment Division. The lifting company has two main markets - industrial and entertainment - and over the past few years, Holme has been spearheading the growth of the entertainment division. Over these years, LTM have seen a steady increase in the number of enquiries coming from theatres, venues and other fixed-installation projects, which is a change from the touring market that they were used to. John Jones and David King credit this shift to the introduction of the LoadGuard hoist in 2008 and also, to Holme. His role will still involve being the face-to-face contact for key accounts, discussing projects and offering technical advice and additionally Holme will be responsible for developing the brands that are key to the LTM Entertainment Division. Holme commented: “This is a great opportunity for me personally, I know that the new role will be challenging but I love a challenge and I am look forward to the next few years and the developments that will come during this time.” Also in recent appointments, LS-Live has welcomed Nick Howard into its growing team as Head of Sales. The stage, set and studio

specialist in West Yorkshire has recruited Howard full-time to oversee sales across the business, particularly focusing on its staging equipment rental operation. Philips Entertainment has announced today that Steve Carson is stepping down as the Chief Executive Officer of Philips Entertainment, and Matthijs Glastra will take over as the new CEO. Glastra joins Philips Entertainment with an 18-year executive track record in the LED, Entertainment Lighting and Semiconductor industries, and will remain with Philips Entertainment for the remainder of the year to ensure a smooth transition. Said Glastra: “I would like to thank Steve for a tremendous job done in building this business and he has assembled a great team with strong brands. I am fully committed to further accelerating our innovation and growth in a global fashion, and I am looking forward to connecting with our customers and partners to continue to grow our cooperative businesses together.” Most recently, Glastra was the Chief Operating Officer at Philips Lumileds, the leader in LED components, where he was responsible for Technology Innovation, Product Creation and Operations. While at Philips Lumileds, Glastra led growth of three times in revenue, eight times in volume, and a 400 percent increase in the number of products introduced. He has also held positions in marketing, sales, operations, and as General Manager of multiple businesses. Stepping down to enjoy the tranquility of retirement, Carson has been in the lighting industry for over 28 years. During this time, he has built Philips Entertainment into a world leader with renowned brands Philips Vari-Lite, Philips Strand Lighting and Philips Selecon. “I have sincerely enjoyed my time leading Philips Entertainment,” added Carson. “Over the years we have introduced ground-breaking products, lead technology revolutions, and built many lasting relationships. While I did not make this decision lightly, I am excited about the next chapter in my life and spending valuable time with my family and friends.” Philips Entertainment offers a wide range


Opposite: Harman’s Studer has appointed Rob Hughes as Market Sales Manager; Christie Lites’ Chris McMeen; Greg Oshiro has joined Community Professional Loudspeakers as Senior Design Engineer; Dan Holme has been appointed as Director of the Entertainment division of Lift Turn Move; Brad Schiller has been named as the new Product Marketing Manager of Philips Vari-Lite; LS-Live’s Head of Sales, Nick Howard; Phil Mercer has returned to his position of Group Head of Concert Touring at XL Video; Avolites Koy Neminathan and JB Toby.

of state-of-the-art lighting solutions for the concert, theatre, television, film, and architectural lighting markets. Consisting of industry leaders Philips Vari-Lite, Philips Strand Lighting and Philips Selecon, and backed by the strength of Royal Philips Electronics, Philips Entertainment is committed to the continued development of energy-efficient and highperformance lighting and control systems through the use of our innovative technologies while providing everything from simple lamps to the most sought after automated luminaires and control systems available today. In a move to strengthen its Sales and Marketing operations, Philips Vari-Lite is proud to announce that Brad Schiller has been named as the new Product Marketing Manager. With over 25 years of experience in the automated lighting industry, Schiller will oversee the development of the complete line of Philips Vari-Lite automated luminaires while operating as a key contact for lighting dealers, designers and end-users worldwide. With extensive experience as a as a programmer, designer, manufacturer, and support specialist, Schiller was previously a Product Marketing Manager at High End Systems where he was involved with product development including Wholehog consoles as well as digital and automated luminaires. Highlights of his programming and

design work include the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies, 68th Annual Academy Awards, MTV Music Video Awards, Metallica, The Smashing Pumpkins, and numerous corporate events. “When I was presented with the opportunity to join Philips Vari-Lite, I knew this was where I wanted to be,” stated Schiller. “As a programmer and designer, I have enjoyed working with VARILITE automated luminaires. They’re known for their consistency and quality, and I look forward to continuing that tradition while overseeing the future development of the complete product family during a long career with Philips VariLite.” In a move that strengthens the company’s sales presence in the live sound for broadcast and theatre communities, Harman’s Studer has appointed Rob Hughes to the position of Market Sales Manager. In this position, Hughes will be responsible for sales of Studer products throughout the EMEA sales region. Hughes began his career in pro audio as a freelance touring engineer, spending 15 years touring the world as a sound engineer and system tech. Following three successful years at XL Video in the US where he oversaw the Los Angeles office, Phil Mercer has returned to his native UK to take up the role of Group Head Of Concert

Touring. Phil’s brief is to develop the Concert Touring division of XL Video globally, by working with XL’s offices in the US and mainland Europe to provide artists with a seamless touring solution across multiple continents. Having worked his way up through XL Video, Mercer brings a strong technical knowledge of the equipment and services that XL Video provides, coupled with excellent connections with decision makers and touring artists worldwide. Christie Lites has announced the appointment of Chris McMeen as a new member of its Rental Rep team. McMeen is already on board in his new role, developing new client and market relationships in the New York City/New Jersey area and serving his client base from all 12 Christie warehouse locations across North America. McMeen brings a broad base of knowledge in market sectors of TV, Corporate, Theater, Concert Touring and Special Events. He was most recently Northeast Regional Sales Manager at High End Systems, a Barco group. Prior to that, he spent six years as VP Sales at Scharff Weisberg. His industry career started in 1997 with High Output in Boston, where he served as Director of Theatre and Special Events. TPi

TPi SEPTEMBER 2012 • 119

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VITAL STATS 138 Mark Ravenhill Profession: President, GLP Date & place of birth: July 7th 1970, Southampton. What do you consider to be your ‘big break’ in the industry? Getting my father to believe in my conviction to this industry would be the first I think – but professionally, it was probably when I joined Martin Professional back in 1992, and moved to Denmark. The company was only five years old then and it was a tremendous growth time – both for company and for me personally.

“North America is a critical market for the global entertainment industry and GLP was at the right place in its development...”

What was it about pro lighting that got your attention over any other sector in our industry (ie, audio, video etc)? Lighting has always had a larger attraction for me than audio – and I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve never had the ears to be an audio engineer. It’s just the whole visual aspect that grabbed me from the first time I was involved in any kind of live production, and that led naturally towards lighting. When I graduated, video was not the common discipline that it is today, but I sure have learned a lot about it now. You moved to LA in 2009 to head up GLP’s North American office, what was the driving force behind this decision? North America is a critical market for the global entertainment industry and GLP was at the right place in its development to place its own office there and take a far greater control of how its products were represented, marketed and serviced. This has allowed the company to grow its market share considerably and be in complete control of its priorities and destiny in North America. Since your move over the Atlantic, what further notable developments have you enforced within the company? Well, we started the subsidiary from scratch so I guess you could say everything. I follow a straightforward formula which is totally centered around customer service and I get my whole team to place this at the fore of everything they do on a daily basis. Other things are important of course, but secondary in my opinion. Do you think the pro lighting sector will see some big innovations over the next couple of years? Yes, without a doubt. We are still growing fast as an industry, and there are now a huge number of highly talented creative individuals out there driving things, and just as many great R&D engineers at the manufacturers who bring their own ideas to the table. I think that combination leaves us in a strong position looking forward. Personally, I think that audience envelopment on an affordable and tourable / doable scale will be one of the 122 • TPi SEPTEMBER 2012

next big things. We’ve dabbled in it for a while in various forms. Recently Coldplay’s current tour made a big step forward, and the Olympics creative team took the whole thing up a notch too. What they achieved was just stunning. Getting the audience to be a component of the show and not just a spectator is where I think we should be going. Which tour or production has made an impact on you lately, and why? The Olympics ceremonies were great in the way they blurred the lines between stadium, audience and field of play. Otherwise, it was a long overdue visit to see Cirque du Soleil’s Ka show at the MGM in Las Vegas recently. Great show, Mark Fisher’s venue and staging, and Luc LaFortune’s lighting are just brilliant. What can we expect to see from GLP at PLASA? Everything GLP does now is based around LED light sources. We’ll be showing the latest in our series of spot fixtures, which started with the impression Spot One along with the first PLASA showing of the new impression X4. What occupies your spare time? Family primarily. I do a lot of travelling as part of my job, so when I’m home it’s great to just relax with ‘er indoors and the kids. Oh, and getting out on my motorbike is a great way to clear the mind. I live near some beautiful countryside that at times seems to have been designed around bike routes. LA isn’t all smog and traffic chaos if you know where to escape to. What is your desert island disc, and why? I think I’d choose Secret World Live by Peter Gabriel. It’s got some great arrangements of some of his biggest and best songs, it’s a really superb live album. GLP will be exhibiting at PLASA, you can find Mark and the team in Hall 1, F8.

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