OCTOBER / NOVEMBER • ISSUE 032
EXPO 2020 DUBAI
BEHIND THE SCENES OF THE WORLD’S GREATEST SHOW
PAUL VAN DYK • AN EVENING WITH RUSSELL PETERS • EMIRATES SCALES THE BURJ KHALIFA • SOS EVENT LOGISTICS
WELCOME... TO TPMEA
A long time coming Think back to 27 November 2013… Can you remember where you were or what you were doing? I can. I was sitting on the balcony of my apartment in Dubai, scanning the night sky for any sign of a fireworks display. Why was I so keen to see some mid-air explosives on that particular evening? Quite simple: a fireworks display would mean that Dubai had won the right to host Expo 2020 and – even more importantly to me at the time – everyone would get the following day off work to celebrate! Of course, we all now know that the fireworks did indeed arrive, I got the day off and Dubai immediately started gearing up to host the most important international exhibition on the planet. Almost eight years later, after an unprecedented year-long delay due to COVID-19, Dubai Expo 2020 is now finally here. A behemoth of a project comprising all manner of technical wizardry from 192 participating nations, I have no doubt in my mind that Expo will throw up a wealth of incredible and intriguing stories over the next six months and beyond – and we’ll endeavour to bring them to you. To get us started, this issue has a healthy dose of Expo-related content sprinkled throughout its pages. From our First Look interview with Felix Erdmann, Co-Managing Director of Neumann&Müller Middle East (page 6), which has been entrusted with the design and delivery of 10 pavilion projects, as well as several planned live events on Expo site, to in-depth discussions with Flash Entertainment’s John Lickrish (page 36) and Gallowglass Health and Safety’s Steve Kearney (page 40) – both of whom have major roles to play at the event – there’s plenty to scratch that Expo itch. Elsewhere in the issue, we have tech profiles from both the Coca-Cola and Etihad Arenas, with Paul Van Dyk’s SHINE Ibiza taking over Dubai for one night only (page 18) and Canadian comic Russell Peters becoming the first comedian inside Abu Dhabi’s new multipurpose venue (page 24). We also take you behind the scenes of one of the most lauded adverts of the year, which saw the teams from Prime Productions AMG and TECS Event Services combine to put a member of Emirates cabin crew at the pinnacle of the Burj Khalifa (page 30). Enjoy the issue. Peter Iantorno Editor
www.tpmeamagazine.com | www.tpimagazine.com | www.tpmeaawards.com
CONTENTS 06 – FIRST LOOK: FELIX ERDMANN
The head of N&M Dubai discusses the company’s extensive supply for Expo 2020.
10 – MIDDLE EAST NEWS
The latest news from the Middle East, including the UAE’s first drone-flown QR code.
18 – PAUL VAN DYK
The godfather of trance hits Coca-Cola Arena.
24 – RUSSELL PETERS
The first comedy show to take place inside Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Arena.
30 – ON TOP OF THE WORLD
We catch up with the team behind one of the most eye-catching adverts of the year.
36 – JOHN LICKRISH
Flash’s CEO gives an update ahead of a busy time for the company.
40 – STEVE KEARNEY
The team tasked with keeping Expo 2020 safe.
42 – ITF: SENNHEISER EW-D Sennheiser’s new wireless offering.
46 – SOS EVENT LOGISTICS
SOS Global opens its first Middle East office.
50 – ENERGIE ENTERTAINMENT An entertainment agency born in lockdown.
53 – AFRICA NEWS
The latest news, including Africa’s Great Migration.
EDITOR Peter Iantorno Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7763 233637 e-mail: email@example.com
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COVER PHOTOGRAPHY Expo 2020 Dubai by Expo 2020 Dubai
PRINTED BY Buxton Press • www.buxpress.co.uk
MONDIALE GROUP CHAIRMAN Damian Walsh
FIRST LOOK MIDDLE EAST
FELIX ERDMANN, CO-MANAGING DIRECTOR, NEUMANN&MÜLLER MIDDLE EAST THE HEAD OF N&M MIDDLE EAST DISCUSSES THE COMPANY’S EXTENSIVE WORKS FOR EXPO 2020.
With Expo 2020 just around the corner, it’s safe to say that it’s an incredibly busy time for Neumann&Müller (N&M) Middle East. Entrusted with the design and delivery of 10 pavilion projects, as well as several planned live events on Expo site, the company is growing rapidly to meet the demand. “We are growing our team massively, not only for the Expo 2020 projects but also to grow our presence generally here in the Middle East,” commented N&M Dubai’s Felix Erdmann. “We are currently in the process of doubling our full-time employee numbers over the next two to three months.” Here, the Co-Managing Director tells TPMEA about the challenges involved in doubling the company’s workforce and reveals a few details on the company’s much-anticipated delivery at the Expo 2020 site. What is your role at Expo 2020? We are honoured to have been chosen to design and deliver 10 pavilion projects, as well as several planned live events on Expo site. The site will require a massive, coordinated workforce, so, for this project alone, we will have around 180 people operating the stages in three shifts. How much of a challenge has it been to find the right people to join the team? It’s always a challenge to recruit good people. We don’t want to have low or mid-level people – we’re looking for highly skilled personnel in every position. We are recruiting internationally for the best people in their field. We have a dedicated team who are focused purely on finding the right recruits and then helping them integrate into the company quickly. We will have people from all around the world; there are around 16 nationalities within the team so far, but this will jump significantly over the next month or so. We’ve noticed some top local talent has joined your ranks as well recently… One of our strategies is to have a good mixture of local and international staff. It’s important to have some people who are well connected and comfortable in the region with experience of working here. It’s a good diverse team that we’re putting together.
FIRST LOOK MIDDLE EAST
“Expo is our agent of growth, but there is much more to come after that. We really see a bright future here – in fact, the Middle East is where we see the highest potential for growth internationally.” Felix Erdmann, Co-Managing Director, Neumann&Müller Middle East
Has the COVID-19 pandemic made it easier to pick up top talent that wasn’t available before? Some companies are changing their business models or reducing their presence, which can have an effect, but that hasn’t been a big factor. Most of the really good people in the industry have still been busy throughout the pandemic, so while we have been able to get some top talent, it was more because they saw the value of what we were doing as opposed to them not having anything else to do. We are changing our position in the market at the moment. We’ve had a presence in the Middle East for 15 years, but it is only in the past three or four years that a much greater focus has been put on the region. Now we have a really strong business plan in place to grow our presence
here and develop a sustainable business that will continue to thrive long after Expo for the decades to come. This mission attracts people to join us. How will the company maintain the current pace of rapid growth after Expo 2020? I moved to Dubai at the start of 2018 because we had a strong business plan for the Middle East. In that plan, Expo 2020 was just one of many milestones. Expo is our agent of growth, but there is much more to come after that. We really see a bright future here – in fact, the Middle East is where we see the highest potential for growth internationally. Look across the border to Saudi Arabia and what’s going on there with the massive political and cultural change and there are so many opportunities to grow. Nowhere else
in the world has such a good opportunity. How do you see the company developing in terms of the split between the live events and systems integration sides of the business? We are going to push them both ahead. We still have a strong belief in the events market. The Middle East, especially Dubai, has positioned itself as the safest place to travel to, and I think in Q3 and Q4, we will see lots of corporate events happening here. A lot of our clients are sick and tired of virtual events, and they just want to have a proper in-person event where they can meet face-to-face again – and Dubai could well be the place for this to happen. We come from an events background, so it will always be something that is important to
FIRST LOOK MIDDLE EAST
the business. That said, systems integration will be the larger division as by the nature of the projects, they are mostly bigger scale. We will keep pushing both and possibly in the future look to add even more lines to the business. Do you think hybrid events will remain important at least for the time being? I think that hybrid is not only going to stick for the short term, but it will be around for the long term. The world has learned that it doesn’t make sense for some people to travel long distances just for a one-day event. Maybe that will make everyone a little bit more sustainable in the future. It’s the purely digital events as we’ve been experiencing over the past 18 months that I think are most likely to drop off. We’ve seen in our own internal meetings, while conference calling is efficient and a more sustainable way of working, there’s really no substitute for an in-person experience from a social aspect. Are there any standout projects at Expo 2020 that we should be looking out for? The Brazil Pavilion is the largest pavilion project we are working on at the moment. It’s especially challenging because it’s not a solid structure like the other pavilions – it’s more like a tent with a
membrane, which we are projecting 360° onto the surface of with around 130 projectors of totally different range. We’re using everything from Panasonic PT-RQ50Ks to small BenQ projectors, because they were the only ones that were able to have the right throw ratio. It’s a very challenging piece of projection geometry and we spent a lot of time designing the system and redesigning the system as some of the site conditions changed. It’s not just the projection geometry that is challenging. It’s basically outdoor, there is no AC, so we have to put all the projectors into moisture-proof housing. As we had such a wide range of different projectors, we had to find a partner in Switzerland to fabricate custom-built housings for each projector. What have been the biggest challenges so far? There are so many challenges every day, it’s very hard to say what the biggest ones are! Certainly, the timeline is always critical. We can never sit back and relax. Most of the procurement items are time sensitive as well. The one-year postponement has been a challenge, because it has meant a strange situation where clients don’t have much additional budget for the extended project
periods, but they still request your services in the interim. It’s not like we froze the projects completely over the past year – some clients are very creative, and many have used the extra year to make changes to their pavilions. A project that was planned for six or eight months is now 18 or 20 months. We went into the project planning for a sprint, but we found ourselves in a marathon. So, that’s a challenge for the team to maintain energy levels throughout. What kind of legacy do you think Expo 2020 will leave for Dubai? Legacy has always been one of the strategic goals for Expo 2020. The organisers didn’t want it just to last for six months, but they wanted the site to become a new district. From what I hear from a lot of the pavilions we are working with, most of them will remain there and become part of the legacy site. I hope that the Expo 2020 site will fulfil its potential and become a hub for innovation for much longer than the duration of the show, and I think it is a much better setup than many other expos have been in the past to be able to do exactly that. Photos: N&M Dubai www.neumannmueller.com
Pixotope’s Ben Davenport, Dave Cheng, and Travis Sims; Edge Electronics’ Kiran Dias and Pratap Singh; CTME’s Kevin Crossley; Bosch’s Josef Penker; Point Source Audio’s Gerry Forde; Facing page: PRG’s Andy Ehrenberger, Bhans Sheomangal, Jamie Watkins, Oleksii Kalenskyi, Pedro Quaresma, and Revil Baselga.
INDUSTRY APPOINTMENTS THE LATEST MOVERS AND SHAKERS ACROSS THE REGION. Creative Technology Middle East (CTME) has appointed Kevin Crossley as Head of Operations for the MENA region. “I am really excited to be joining a world-class team at CT and helping the CTME MENA region operations grow as we expand into full production, delivering the same level of service and quality that our customers expect,” he commented. Andy Reardon, CTME’s Managing Director, added: “Kevin is one of many strategic hires we have made recently, and we have many more highly skilled professionals joining us over the coming months. It is an ex-citing time for us in the Middle East as we expand our offerings and continue to grow in the region. It is a pleasure to have Kevin on board, and I look forward to working closely with him on developing a new operational strategy.” Josef Penker has been named Vice President of Sales EMEA for Bosch’s Building Technologies division, leading the regional sales force for the professional audio brands Dynacord, ElectroVoice, RTS, and Telex. He takes over the position
from his predecessor, Jens Gaessner, who will move into the video division within Bosch. “One of the key strengths of Bosch is having the scale and resources to best serve the market with our services and solutions – that puts us in a unique position to lead the way towards what’s next in pro audio and communications,” Penker stated. “I can already count on an exceptional sales team and channel partners to help us achieve our goals, in step with the constantly changing needs of our customers and today’s rapidly transforming markets.” L-Acoustics has named Edge Electronics as a Certified Provider Distributor for Qatar. “We take pride in distributing some of the world’s most innovative AV brands across the board enabling us to work closely with our clients offering onsite assistance and 24/7 support,” said Pratap Singh, General Manager at Edge Electronics. “Working in a fast-paced market as Qatar, holding local stock enables us to exceed our clients’ expectations.” Chris Mead, L-Acoustics Sales
Manager, Middle East, India, East Africa, added: “Pratap and the team have built a very notable presence in Doha in the relatively short amount of time since the office was opened there, and we are excited to be a partner in their ongoing growth. I’m confident they will play a big part in building the L-Acoustics brand in both the rental and installation markets.” Pixotope has added three big names to its global leadership team. Ben Davenport joins as VP for Global Marketing, taking charge of Pixotope’s international communications strategy. David Cheng has been appointed as VP Sales & Marketing EMEA. Additionally, Travis Sims has become Pixotope’s Strategic Account Manager for North America. “Pixotope meets the demand for real-time engine applications in live broadcast and events more succinctly and effectively than anything else on the market,” he commented. I am excited to be at the forefront of Pixotope’s journey and development – there are big announcements yet to come.”
Point Source Audio has appointed Gerry Forde as Business Development Manager for the EMEA. “We see the EMEA as critical for our ongoing worldwide growth,” stated James Lamb, President at Point Source Audio. “We needed a safe pair of hands with the knowledge and skillset to provide the local support our dealers and distributors deserve while driving the growth of the company throughout the territory. Since first talking with Gerry, we all knew he would be the right person to help move Point Source Audio forward in the EMEA region. He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the market and strong relationships all over the territory. Most importantly he understands the culture of the industry and what we are trying to achieve. This is a very natural fit and I’m delighted to have someone of Gerry’s calibre on board.” As the live events season gets back underway in the UAE, PRG Middle East has made several key appointments. Oleksii Kalenskyi, Bhanparkash ‘Bhans’ Sheomangal and Pedro Quaresma have joined the company as Project Managers. Meanwhile, the company has also welcomed a new Head of Audio, Revil Baselga; Head of Rigging, Andy Ehrenberger; and Sales Manager, Jamie Watkins. www.tpmeamagazine.com
ELATION LIGHTS AL ARABIYA STUDIO VENUETECH SUPPLIES 100 ELATION PROFESSIONAL KL FRESNEL 4 CW LED FIXTURES TO THE NEW STUDIO SPACE. Elation’s exclusive distributor in the Middle East, Venuetech Audiovisual & Lighting Systems, has supplied 100 KL Fresnel 4 CW LED Fresnel lights to Al Arabiya’s new Dubai studio. Lighting Designer in Venuetech’s Design & Application department, Ziad Shames Eddine, specified the KL Fresnel 4 CW for the space with lighting design handled by Safwan Harcouss, Head of the Lighting department at the MBC group. “We needed a CRI of high quality to be able to get perfect skin tones for the camera,” stated Harcouss. Due to the low height of the ceiling, a small lighting fixture was preferred. “Not only did we want lights that visually suit our studio, but we also needed something with power that has a long life expectancy as the studio is used 24 hours a day. We have been using our Elation lights for one-and-a-half years now and have not faced any issues.” The KL Fresnel CW series is a line of coldwhite LED Fresnel lights with 5,600K LED engine
available in 50W, 150W and 350W models. Used for a variety of purposes including keylight, washes and front light, Venuetech’s Ziad Shames Eddine described the KL as “one of the best products for TV production and theatres at the moment”. He added: “The accurate colour temperature and the high CRI make it a high-
quality fixture for broadcast. Also, because of space constraints in the studio, the small size of the fixtures, the light weight and the fact that they produce little heat were important.” Photo: Venuetech www.elationlighting.com www.venuetech.ae
STEM ECOSYSTEM ARRIVES IN UAE THE MOVE IS IN RESPONSE TO DEMAND FOR VALUE-ADDED MEETINGS FOR REMOTE AND IN-PERSON ATTENDEES. Shure has made the Stem Audio Ecosystem available in the UAE. “With Stem Ecosystem solutions, you can build the perfect customised audio experience,” said Jacob Marash, Managing Director of Stem Audio. “We are excited to finally offer Stem Audio products to customers across the globe and provide a complete portfolio for all types of environments, whether it requires a fully integrated system or a solution you can install yourself.” With wall and table speakerphones, along with a ceiling microphone that blends into any room and syncs with networked loudspeakers, as well as dedicated control systems for a complete audio package, the Stem Ecosystem gives users the freedom to mix and match to create the perfect audio pickup in any space. Since Stem Ecosystem products were designed for anyone and any type of room, customers can design, install, and manage their meeting rooms all while staying within budget and on time. Plus, the devices are backed by a
robust platform full of tools designed to make the process of adopting new technology effortless. “The Stem Ecosystem is a powerful solution for organisations of any size seeking a straightforward and customisable experience that can help users save money through its no-
programming approach,” shared Rob Smith, Senior Director of System Sales, Shure. “Now, Shure can offer a more diverse array of solutions for a wider variety of customers.” Photo: Shure www.shure.com
CTME PARTNERS WITH UK PAVILION AT EXPO 2020 THE COMPANY WILL DELIVER AUDIO, VIDEO AND LIGHTING SOLUTIONS, AS WELL AS TECHNICAL PERSONNEL THROUGHOUT THE SIX-MONTH EVENT. Creative Technology Middle East (CTME) has been named the official live events audio-visual partner for the UK Pavilion at Expo 2020. “CTME will be delivering audio, video and lighting solutions alongside providing a team of highly skilled project managers and technicians for the duration of the event,” commented Andy Reardon, CTME’s Managing Director. “The UK Pavilion has an exciting, informative and educational six-month events programme lined up, and we are honoured to be part of it.” The UK Pavilion, which is situated in the Opportunity District at Expo 2020 is based around the theme of ‘Innovating for a Shared Future’ and promises to offer inspiration and excitement to visitors from around the world. The six-month event will see the UK Pavilion host a variety of events from multiple trade missions and conferences to various live entertainment spectaculars, including the UK National Day event, which is set to bring the imagination of Glastonbury Festival to Dubai. Reardon added: “Millions of people will be travelling to Dubai from all over the world to see Expo unfold, and we’re excited for them to experience the creative, immersive and inspiring audio, video and lighting installations that our team has delivered for many pavilions and legacy
areas throughout the Expo, alongside all the other amazing showcases the event has to offer.” “Sound and vision are an important part of how we bring our Expo programme to life,” said Laura Faulkner OBE, UK Commissioner for Expo 2020 Dubai. “From our immersive Choral Space to a fantastic range of speakers and panel
discussions, having a dynamic AV partner was vital in creating an inspirational and engaging environment. CTME has been great to work with, and we’re looking forward to seeing our visitors experience the pavilion, too.” Photo: CTME www.ctme.co
UAE PRO LEAGUE AWARDS NO1 EVENTS AND MEDIAPRO INTERNATIONAL CREATE A HIGH-TECH SOLUTION FOR 200 VIPS AT EMIRATES PALACE AUDITORIUM. The UAE Pro League held its 2020/2021 season awards ceremony on 16 August at Emirates Palace Auditorium, with 200 VIP guests in attendance as well as a large TV and social media following tuning in live to celebrate the achievements of the league’s top teams, players, and managers. Sharjah-based No1 Events provided the technical production for the event, with MediaPro International supplying the video solution. No1 Events’ remit for the project was extensive and varied, comprising everything from creating a system to simplify the entry process, to a showstopping reception area and the main show. Project Director, Mirco Resta explained that the first task was to create a high-tech entry system, which would not only ensure that only the invited attendees were granted entry, but also keep contact between guests and staff to
a minimum. “No1 Events created a system that generated a personalised QR code for each guest,” he began. “Once each guest had scanned their code at the entrance, they were directed to the appropriate area and seat. The system worked perfectly.” The first part of the show – a press conference – was held in a ballroom adjacent to Emirates Palace’s main auditorium. As soon as the conference was over, guests were directed to the auditorium for the main event, passing through a “journey of technology” en route. In the first area, there was an interactive LED screen as well as the ‘ballman’ [a structure inspired by Nike’s famous installation at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa]. “Next, guests entered an LED tunnel, where they were thrown into a stadium atmosphere, with crowd noise and a 3D animation of a football pitch,” Resta recalled.
“They then passed through a gallery displaying trophies and new kits of each of the league’s teams, followed by a 180° LED screen displaying the long-term vision of the league.” Delivered by MediaPro International, the video supply included 80 sq m of Gloshine P2.6 LED and a Resolume Arena 7 server for the LED tunnel; 70 sq m of Gloshine P3.9 LED and a Resolume Arena server for the main conference area; and 20 sq m of Absen P2.9 LED for the strategy arena. Meanwhile, inside the auditorium, 184 sq m of Absen P4.8 indoor LED was configured into a 23m by 8m main screen, with processing coming courtesy of eight NovaStar MCTRL LED Processors. There was also a 3D project-mapping element, with eight Panasonic PT-ZR21K projectors, as well as four Dataton WATCHOUT servers with HD outputs. “Having MediaPro in
charge of the video setup made the project much easier for me in terms of communication and phase development,” Resta noted. “A special mention should also go to Haitham Taha of Inframes, who delivered all the content for the projection in a very short time and in a professional manner. He was onsite throughout, adjusting the content and being flexible to all the changes, while keeping a smile on his face.” Lighting in the main auditorium comprised 18 ETC Source 4s, 18 Claypaky Sharpys, 20 Martin by Harman MAC Auras, 12 2K Fresnels, 20 440W beam fixtures and 12 City Color 400s. Control was via an MA Lighting grandMA3 light console with MA NPU. The audio supply was made up of 12 TW AUDiO VERA tops and four VERA subs, controlled by Midas M32 and DL32 consoles. Eight Shure SLX-D micrs were provided for on-stage speakers, while four Audio-Technica M3 IEM systems with ATH-40 earpieces were also deployed. Aside from Resta – who has now joined MediaPro full time – the team behind the event comprised: Show Director, Hassan Abdul Hamid; Artistic Director, Hany Altombary; Finance Director, Ahmed Abdelgawad Meabed; Technical Manager, MediaPro’s Vishal Sivasankaran; Video
Engineer, MediaPro’s Diljith Divakaran; WATCHOUT Operator, MediaPro’s Satender Goldy Singh; Lighting Designer, Lucas Rey; Audio Engineer, Martin Chiervo; Crew Coordinator, Mohammed Navas; Production Coordinator, Riham Darwesh; and Accreditation Manag-er, Analyn Matin-ao (Arra). The content team was made up of Creative Content Director, Ahmed Elkady; as well as Sulaimon Olasunkanmi, Mohammed Rasin Thalathodika, Zubair Ahsan Barkaat, Jaganath Singh and Inframes’ Haitham Taha. Ali Al Khawar wrote the original songs, while Mansour Alfeeli and Talal Al Blooshi starred in the pre-awards production. Summing up his experience on the project, Resta praised the venue. “Working in a nice structure like the auditorium makes our lives a lot
easier,” he concluded. “All the power and signal distribution are where you need them to be, which saved a lot of time and effort that would normally be spent running cables.” Photos: UAE Pro League www.no1events.net www.mediaproav.com
AO CREATIVE DELIVERS THE UAE’S FIRST DRONE-FLOWN QR CODE A 600-STRONG FLEET OF DRONES CREATE A SCANNABLE QR CODE INSIDE THE DUBAI FRAME. AO Drones, part of the AO Creative stable of companies, launched a state-of-the-art, 600-strong fleet of drones inside Dubai’s 150m-high landmark Frame structure, for a campaign to announce the July unveiling of the UAE’s first Nike Jordan Concept store. The event saw the 600 AO drones programmed to generate a four-layered, threedimensional, rotating facsimile of the famous Jordan ‘Jumpman’ logo. The logo then morphed into a scannable 3D QR code, enabling potential customers to discover more about the store. Due to COVID-19 restrictions in Dubai, the client could not make the show public, so the activation was designed to be filmed from the outset. “The Dubai Frame provided a spectacular illuminated border for the Jumpman logo and QR Code,” said Marco Niedermeier, Show Producer at AO Creative. “We animated the Jumpman icon with strobes and colour but creating the figure in 3D was challenging – especially as the object was presented in four layers and then
rotated 360°.” When the team turned the images 360°, everyone in the park and surrounding apartments could see and scan the code. In addition to the drone show, AO Creative employed three camera drones to film and photograph the event. The resulting video was then edited for a Nike Jordan digital and social campaign across the brand’s channels. AO Creative also delivered full event production, including the lighting execution, which added drama and atmosphere to the drone formation, alongside power and data distribution and a grandstand platform for the 100 invited guests and influencers. Before the show could go ahead, the AO Drones team had to complete a detailed feasibility study due to the location of the Dubai Frame, with a major highway and airport nearby. This meant that the team could not fly the drones higher than 120m and the design had to be created with pinpoint precision for the code to register on phones. The drones were
guided by GPS, using software that enables live communication between each object. Environmental considerations were also key. Luckily, it was below 40°C and wind levels were low. In addition, planning complex drone shows come with their own logistical challenges. “For permissions, we had to contact the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority where our drones and pilots are registered,” added AO Drone’s Pilot in Command, Kevin Niedermeier. “The DCAA gave permission for the event, as did the traffic authority, the police, and the government.” The demand for such shows is on the rise. “We’ve learned from the market – especially here in the Middle East – that the quantity of drones our clients are asking for exceed 300 to 500 per show,” Niedermeier revealed. “That’s why we have augmented our fleet to 1,000 and are planning to increase to 2,000 by the fourth quarter of the year.” Photos: AO Drones www.ao-drones.com
BROMPTON TECHNOLOGY POWERS TURKEY’S FIRST VP STUDIO THE NEW FACILITY BOASTS TOP-OF-THE-RANGE TESSERA SX40 PROCESSING. Turkey’s first virtual production house, MGX Studio, owned by MGX Film, is a revolutionary virtual production (VP) facility based in Istanbul offering a next-generation LED stage with Brompton Technology processing, advanced camera tracking solutions, in-camera VFX, plus a host of pre- and post-production tools. The story of MGX Studio began during the pandemic. “We decided to use the time when we were confined to our homes wisely, looking for the latest technologies in VP,” said Halit Gülmez, Technical Director at MGX. “MGX Film’s owner, Müşvik Guluzade, was the first to recognise the power of virtual production and embrace the technology, establishing Turkey’s first virtual production facility, MGX Studio.” The team completed installation within five months. “We built our own powerful Ledeca LED screen setup with top-of-the-range Brompton Tessera SX40 processing,” explained MGX CTO and Studio Manager, Fatih Eke. “Filmmaking culture is growing following rapid evolution of technology, pandemic restrictions and the way content is being consumed by Gen Z,” concluded Gülmez. “Virtual production has a significant role in the formation
of this new culture. We aim for Turkey to be part of this important change, with MGX Studio supporting the maturity of VP. Brompton Tessera processing is an important element for us on this journey as, together with other cutting-edge
technology partners, it spearheads us into the future of VP and filmmaking.” Photo: MGX Studio www.bromptontech.com www.mgxfilm.com
PAUL VAN DYK
THE GODFATHER OF TRANCE MUSIC TAKES HIS SHINE IBIZA RESIDENCY TO DUBAI’S COCA-COLA ARENA FOR ONE NIGHT ONLY.
Taking place as part of the annual Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS) festival, German superstar DJ Paul Van Dyk brought his world-renowned SHINE Ibiza residency to Dubai’s Coca-Cola Arena for one night only on 19 August. While several hybrid and small-scale shows have taken place in Dubai over the past 18 months, with strict social distancing measures and attendees having to remain seated throughout, significantly, this performance – which also featured support from fellow SHINE Ibiza residents, Egyptian trance duo, Aly & Fila – was the first show since the start of the pandemic where dancing was permitted. “To be the first show where people are able to really have a good time again, dance and really develop that sense of togetherness just makes me even more happy and grateful,” Van Dyk told The National. “It also provides a possible outlook for the future.” Having delivered numerous concerts in Coca-Cola Arena since it opened in 2019,
MediaPro International was once again charged with supplying much of the technical equipment for the show. “We were initially contacted by Malcolm [Giles, Director of Technical and Production, Coca-Cola Arena] and asked to go in for a meeting to discuss supplying equipment for the entire DSS project,” began MediaPro’s Shaam Pudaruth, explaining the company’s involvement. A much larger undertaking than just the single-night Paul Van Dyk show, the DSS project included many productions – from Egyptian singer-songwriter, Hamza Namira, to comedian, Wayne Brady, and Russian indie rock outfit, Mumiy Troll – all taking place at the arena between 1 July and 4 September. “Once we had the brief and all the various artist riders, our team started to design the rig,” Pudaruth outlined, adding that the whole process took around two weeks from start to finish. “The Coca-Cola Arena team was very pleased with what we proposed.” With such a wide variety of acts using the setup, the rig had to be versatile enough to
cater to everything from rock ’n’ roll to Van Dyk’s electronic trance. Claypaky fixtures featured heavily in the lighting rig, with 29 Scenius Profile, 76 Sharpy Plus, 32 Mythos and 20 B-EYE K20 fixtures playing a starring role. The remainder of the rig comprised 42 Robe Spiiders, 30 SGM P10s and 24 Q-7s, as well as 18 CKC Y1640s, 24 EK R3s, and 24 Cyclops CPX 418s. Lighting control came from two MA Lighting grandMA2 full size consoles with MA NPUs. “Claypaky and Robe have been our go-to products for festival rigs and have never let us down,” commented MediaPro HOD Lighting, Christopher Dawson, explaining the choice of fixtures. “With a very strong technical support and backend assistance, we were able to deliver from preproduction to execution – it’s more than we could ever ask for.” While Dawson singled out MediaPro’s Harold Fernandes, who lit all the shows, he extended his praise to the entire team. “Congratulations to the operations team who wowed audiences
“Seeing these events coming back and knowing that there are many more to come is, without doubt, the most satisfying thing for us.” Shaam Pudaruth, MediaPro International.
and created amazing visuals,” he said. “We were excited and thrilled to be a part of this show post the pandemic, and we look forward to many more challenging projects ahead of us.” The video design incorporated the arena’s in-house LED, which was used as a backdrop to the stage as well as two IMAG screens flown right and left. In addition to this, MediaPro supplied a total of 288 panels of Gloshine AM4.81 LED, which were split between a central ground-stacked 16m by 1.5m strip, two ground-stacked 3m by 3.5m LED wings left and right, as well as two flown 3m by 4.5m LED wings. A Barco E2 Event Master processor was used for control, with content run through a Dataton
WATCHOUT system. Four Sony PMW350K cameras captured video content, which was mixed using a Blackmagic Vision Mixer HyperDeck Studio Pro. ‘A COLOSSAL SUCCESS’ While Coca-Cola Arena’s in-house PA system was used, MediaPro provided a wide range of stage and in-ear monitors, including eight L-Acoustics KARAs, five SB18s and 12 X15s. The KARAs and SB18s were used as side fill (two per side), with the remaining SB18 used as drum fill. A full Shure PSM 1000 eight-in-one IEM kit was deployed. Yamaha CL5 consoles were used at both FOH and monitors, with a Clear-Com RS 701 six-in-one kit used for comms. Shure meanwhile
was the microphone manufacturer of choice, with a ULXD4D eight-in-one rack as well as a 10-in-one drum mic kit deployed. Two Pioneer CDJ-2000NXS2s and one CDJ200NXS handled the backline requirements for the festival, with an additional DJM-900NSX2 provided for Paul Van Dyk’s show. Unsurprisingly, the German DJ’s team also requested lasers and SFX for the show, with MediaPro supplying RGB 30W and 20W lasers and a Pangolin laser controller, as well as a range of SFX, including four MagicFX CO2 Stadium Blasters, eight CO2 Jets, two Stadium Shots, and six Sparkulars. Atmospherics were provided by six Reel FX DF-50 haze machines, six DF-500 Digi
fans and two Smoke Factory fan foggers. The overall look and feel of the show was designed by MediaPro Senior Technical Director, Harold Fernandes, with Nitin Kurup handling audio, Atul Rajendran taking care of video and servers, and Johan Allers overseeing the rigging requirements. “We had two days to load in, which gave us ample time for the setup,” Pudaruth shared. “We’re well accustomed to supplying at the Coca-Cola Arena, so once the various riders of each artist were locked in, our team switched into automatic mode and did what they do best.” According to Pudaruth, correspondence with the various promoters involved was “smooth and easy”. He added: “The team at Coca-Cola Arena was incredibly helpful in co-ordinating all communications. They ensured that the whole process was clear and efficient.” A prerequisite
nowadays, as well as the conditions of entry for punters, all crew working on the event were subject to rigorous COVID-19 policies. “Everybody involved in the setup and show had to be vaccinated and also show a negative PCR test,” Pudaruth recalled. “This is the ‘new normal’ now and every venue has the same requirements. All our crew at MediaPro are fully vaccinated, so it’s no issue at all.” Describing the project as “a colossal success”, Pudaruth reflected on the achievement of putting on one of the first major shows since the onset of the pandemic. “There’s no doubt that the entire DSS Festival was incredibly successful,” he said. “From the beginning, it was such a pleasure to sit around a table with Malcolm and Mark [Jan Kar, GM, Coca-Cola Arena] and discuss a festival. Seeing these events coming back and knowing
that there are many more to come is, without doubt, the most satisfying thing for us.” With Paul Van Dyke’s show being the first of its kind since the start of the pandemic to allow dancing, Pudaruth shared his hope that it will be a watershed moment for the city. “COVID-19 hit us all extremely hard, and this is the first major live event that has happened in Dubai for a long time,” he commented. “We are enormously proud to have been involved in what will hopefully be the start of events opening back up in Dubai. It’s a great feeling to see international and local artists live on stage, entertaining real, in-person crowds again. It’s been a long time coming, but well worth the wait.” Photos: MediaPro International www.mediproav.com www.coca-cola-arena.com
AN EVENING WITH RUSSELL PETERS THE CANADIAN FUNNY MAN BECOMES THE FIRST COMEDIAN TO APPEAR AT ABU DHABI’S ETIHAD ARENA.
As COVID-19 restrictions continue to ease in the UAE, Etihad Arena made another step in the right direction on 17 September, welcoming Canadian comic, Russell Peters to perform the first comedy show to take place inside the new venue. With capacity limits still in place, the 3,500 available tickets were snapped up by the eager comedy fans of the UAE over a month before show day. “It’s hugely satisfying,” began Peter Green, Owner of GME Events, which produced the show in association with the Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT) Abu Dhabi and Miral. “We’ve only been alive as a company for less than a year, so for us to be entrusted with bringing the first live comedy act to Etihad Arena is a huge win for us.” While it’s been eight years since Russell Peters’ last appearance in Abu Dhabi, the comic has retained his large following in the emirate and for Leon Marsh, Associate Director of Events
at Miral, the high demand for tickets came as no surprise. “He’s a big draw for the crowds and his show was an ideal way to build on an exciting events calendar with renewed gusto and enthusiasm,” he told TPMEA. “We weren’t surprised to see this show sold out. It certainly illustrates the huge appetite for live events in Abu Dhabi, and our commitment to delivering iconic events and experiences on Yas Island. As restrictions ease, we expect a growing calendar of live events and experiences across the island.” While restrictions have been relaxed compared to the height of the pandemic, according to government guidelines, all guests had to be fully vaccinated and able to show a negative PCR test result from a maximum of 48 hours before the show. Although this added an extra layer of security, with attendees required to scan a personalised QR code on the Alhosn app on entry, according to Green, this process didn’t
cause any issues. “You need to do a similar thing to enter public places such as shopping malls or hotels in Abu Dhabi, so it’s a normal part of life here at the moment,” he noted. “We reminded people numerous times in advance via SMS, email and on social media, so we didn’t have any problems with anyone not following protocols.” Green explained how the show was scheduled as part of a larger strategy for Yas Island. “It was scheduled for Friday to encourage guests to make the most of the full weekend on Yas,” he stated. “Once we had sold out, we communicated to ticketholders the various opportunities for spending time on the island, including hotel stays and free access to waterparks and theme parks.” Since this was the first show of its type inside the arena, nothing was left to chance. “This was the first time that we had worked closely with Etihad Arena, Miral and DCT, and we all put in a
lot of time and effort into the pre-planning phase of the project,” Green revealed. “We had the luxury of being able to start the build much earlier than we typically would need to for a show of this size,” he said, explaining that the load-in started four days before the show rather than the day before as would usually be the case. “This was done so everyone could get to grips with the setup. However, moving forward as venues get busier, we’ll be able to take everything we’ve learned and put that into a much quicker load-in time.” On this occasion, the extra build time worked in the team’s favour, enabling them to release more tickets for sale. “It was only once the build had started when it became clear that some seats which we had previously thought were going to be too much of a restricted view due to the equipment we had in place were, in fact, not restricted,” Green noted. “It was just a case of knowing the exact sightlines; now we know, we’ll have all tickets on sale from the start for the next show at Etihad Arena.” ‘THE MOMENT WHEN THE ARENA GOES CRAZY’ GME Worked with Etihad Arena’s AV Partner, Neumann&Müller (N&M) Middle East, on the technical production. “We really enjoyed working with our partners at the Etihad Arena. The venue
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Right: Etihad Arena General Manager, Brint Jackson; Russell Peters; GME Events Owner, Peter Green.
“There’s definitely a strong demand for this type of event in the UAE... I expect as restrictions continue to ease, we’re going to see more opportunities to have more events with much higher attendances.” Peter Green, GME Events.
is excellent; it’s a great space that allows for a lot of flexibility,” commented Matangi Sumbél, Technical Project Manager at N&M Middle East. “It was great working as one team and collaborating on our first project together.” For audio, the show utilised the arena’s in-house L-Acoustics K2 system, which was designed by N&M Middle East. The lighting rig meanwhile comprised three truss lines featuring a range of wash and beam fixtures from Martin by Harman, including MAC Aura XB, RUSH MH3 and MAC Viper, as well as two 4kW followspots trained on the star of the show. Three Sony HD Broadcast cameras (two on stage and one central) filmed content, which was recorded on Blackmagic Design recorders and run through a Panasonic vision mixer onto the venue’s in-house LED screens, which were configured in the classic formation of a large central backdrop with two IMAGs flanking the stage. “We also supplied a 4m by 2m curved LED
wall, which sat in front of the DJ booth for Russell Peters’ support act,” Sumbél noted. Comms were handled by N&M’s brand-new Riedel Bolero system. “We added this to our inventory this season and it worked perfectly in the area, providing a crystal-clear intercom sound to the whole crew, including the production team,” the Technical Project Manager reported. “All of us at N&M were excited for this event after a long break,” Sumbél reflected. “Nothing compares to the moment when the whole arena goes crazy as the artist walks on stage, and everything that was planned behind the scenes works in concert. It makes our team especially proud to be responsible for delivering a great show and see how the audience enjoys what we prepared: the lights, the sound and, most importantly, the overall experience.” The show took place hot on the heels of Disney on Ice, which sold out the Etihad Arena for each of the 13 shows in its extended run. With
the arena now fully operational, Yas Island is fast becoming a hub for entertainment. “As the UAE’s largest indoor multipurpose venue, Etihad Arena has helped to further position Yas Island as a top entertainment, leisure, and business destination. It is set to attract the biggest names in music, theatre and sport and has reinforced Yas Island’s place on the global entertainment and events stage,” stated Marsh. “Bringing these memorable events to Yas Island has been made possible by collaborating effectively with our partners, to ensure the best experiences for our guests while maintaining the highest standards of safety and adhering to health protocols to ensure the wellbeing of our visitors and teams. These include the DCT Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Sports Council, and the health authorities in the emirate,” Marsh added. “All of this has been made possible thanks to the UAE’s wise leadership who have outlined for this nation a world-class vision of success, prosperity and
wellbeing, which helped in making live events in a safe environment a reality again.” GME Events meanwhile is rapidly gaining a reputation as a frontrunner in terms of comedy in the region, having already brought the likes of Jack Whitehall and Russell Kane to the UAE and with several shows planned for the rest of the year and the first quarter of 2022, including Rob Beckett at Dubai World Trade Centre and Michael McIntyre back at the Etihad Arena in October and November respectively. For Green, the fact that the company has been able to put on a string of sold-out shows in some of the UAE’s top venues in such a short space of time is hugely satisfying. “We’re getting towards 15,000 tickets sold in our first year which, bearing in mind the fact that we’re in a pandemic-affected year, is pretty good going,” he said. “If somebody would have offered me that result when I started the company, I’d have snatched their hand off.” The comedy format is one that lends itself well to the current COVID-19 guidance, but as restrictions are gradually eased, does Green plan on branching out into other forms of events, such as concerts? “We’re not opposed to putting
on a music show if the opportunity was to arise,” he revealed. “That said, there are some much bigger players here doing music and we’re not going to be organising a huge stadium concert anytime soon. We want to remember what got us to this point and not take any risks where we don’t need to.” In fact, while he is cautious not to get ahead of himself, Green believes that the comedy circuit has plenty of potential for success in the region. “There’s definitely a strong demand for this type of event in the UAE. We could easily
have sold many more tickets if there weren’t any restrictions in place,” he reflected. “I expect as restrictions continue to ease, we’re going to see more opportunities to have more events with much higher attendances, and I look forward to the challenge.” Photos: GME Events www.etihadarena.ae www.gme-events.com www.miral.ae www.neumannmueller.com www.tcaabudhabi.ae
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ON TOP OF THE WORLD: EMIRATES AIRLINE SCALES THE BURJ KHALIFA THE TEAM BEHIND ONE OF THE MOST TALKED-ABOUT ADVERTS OF THE YEAR TAKES TPMEA BEHIND THE SCENES.
TECS Event Services’ Shane Manning; Prime Productions AMG’s Alan Gayton; and professional skydiving instructor, Nicole Smith-Ludvik.
When it comes to bold advertising campaigns, few do it better than Emirates. From the pioneer of human flight, Jetman, flying alongside one of its iconic A380 aircraft, to star turns from the likes of Chris Hemsworth and Jennifer Anniston, the company has always pushed the boundaries to get its message out there. The airline’s latest campaign, which was launched in response to the UAE being moved onto the UK’s ‘amber list’ for travel, continues in this vein, with a member of Emirates cabin crew recreating the classic Love Actually cue cards scene between Andrew Lincoln and Keira Knightley, with one major difference… It was filmed from the pinnacle of the Burj Khalifa. “We wanted to do something bold that showcases Dubai in a new way using our iconic crew,” an Emirates spokesperson told TPMEA. “The boards gave us the canvas to tailor the right message at the right time.” After coming up with the concept, Emirates’ creative team got in touch with film production and stunt management company,
Prime Productions to pull the pieces together. “Emirates contacted us due to our extensive experience in stunts and safety over the past 12 years,” began Prime Productions AMG Co-Owner and Stunts and Safety Director, Alan Gayton, explaining the long-term relationship between the two companies. “We have worked on a few of projects with them over the years, including the #HelloJetman A380 production.” While fellow Co-Owner and Producer, Marta Espinosa-Gironella managed the filming, production, and compilation side of the project, having climbed the Burj Khalifa numerous times, Gayton was the ideal person to lead the stunt. “The pinnacle is starting to feel like home for me,” he laughed. The initial idea was for a member of Emirates cabin crew to do the stunt and while there was no shortage of volunteers, it was later decided that a professional stunt artist would be a more prudent option. “I know from experience that being at the top of the Burj Khalifa is a daunting task and there’s a high chance that someone
who has not been at that height before could struggle,” Gayton explained. “So, we engaged our network of athletes and stunt women and presented a good selection of people who could achieve what we wanted.” The final decision saw professional skydiving instructor Nicole SmithLudvik take on the challenge. While the casting was taking place, Gayton had already contacted rigging and automation specialist, TECS Event Services, to design a platform that Smith-Ludvik could stand on for the shoot. “We have a long relationship with Shane Manning, [Managing Director at TECS Event Services] and Billy-Joe Mariano [IRATA L3 senior supervisor] and we had full faith that they could deliver on what we wanted,” said Gayton. “Whenever you do any risk mitigation, the main question you need to answer is ‘has someone done this before?’,” Gayton posed. “The fact that the TECS team has lots of prior experience on the Burj is obviously a big plus.” With a short turnaround time, it was decided that the best way forward was to base the
“Being at the top of the Burj Khalifa is a daunting task and there’s a high chance that someone who has not been at that height before could struggle.” Alan Gayton, Prime Productions AMG
platform design on a previous project the TECS team had worked on at the top of the Burj. “Doing it this way meant that we didn’t need to go back up there to do any additional site visits or calculations, since we already had the details in place,” Manning explained. “The brief was to produce a static platform that was lightweight and would be quick and easy to manufacture and install,” he added, noting the use of Interal S31 trusses to create the platform. “Retainers and triple protection were incorporated to ensure that the talent felt safe
and secure right from the second she emerged from the hatch,” Gayton furthered. Unsurprisingly, safety was the number-one priority. “The paper trail to secure the necessary clearances and permits required stringent safety certifications and extensive ground testing before the stunt was approved by the Burj Khalifa safety team,” commented Emirates’ spokesperson. “Leading up to the shoot, ground rehearsals were held to plan the movements involved in the vertical climb up to the pinnacle and the platform, precise timing of the action
sequence and the flight path of the drone to plot the camera angles and adjustments to plan for alterations in the wind speed, position of the sun, temperature, visibility and other contingencies. The weather forecast was monitored daily for two weeks before we fixed the shoot date.” This sentiment was echoed by Gayton: “We don’t just go up there and do it first time; we practise everything on the ground in a controlled environment first,” he explained. “We rehearse everything on the ground until it’s perfect, because once you add that element of height,
“As you get closer to the top, it gets tighter and tighter – It’s like a spiderweb of steel... Once you reach the top, you need to open the lid, pull yourself out, then spread your legs and close the lid between them. It’s not easy!” Shane Manning, TECS Event Services
you need each movement to be already ingrained in the muscle memory.” ‘A SPIDERWEB OF STEEL’ Tricky load-ins are par for the course in this industry, but they don’t come much more challenging than rigging a platform to the pinnacle of the world’s tallest building, 828m in the sky. “The tip of the pinnacle is narrow and with the aircraft warning lights and other safety equipment, the platform had to be installed and secured above the pinnacle for the stunt person to stand with minimal obstruction blocking the camera’s view,” the Emirates spokesperson stated. “The full-length body shot was important to maximise the visual impact.” The platform was hauled up to the pinnacle using rope access techniques. “We entered the
Burj Khalifa through the loading bay and took a sequence of lifts up to the 160th floor,” Manning recalled, explaining how the feat was achieved. The team then climbed with a 200m rope up a series of stairs and ladders to the pinnacle, before dropping the rope down to the other half of the team, which was waiting on the building’s highest open balcony with the disassembled elements of the platform. The platform was then hauled up in pieces, before being assembled and secured between the building’s large aircraft warning lights and lightning rods at the pinnacle. “These are solid steel and more than sturdy enough to use as an anchor point,” Manning said. “We wanted to minimise the work needed at height, so we had as much as possible prepared before winching it up,” he added. “At the top, we just needed to knock it all together and
secure it.” While the results speak for themselves, from Manning’s perspective, the task was “very simple”. He said: “From a rigging and rope access perspective, this is a very straightforward project. However, the profile of the building, the location and the stakeholders involved mean that everything is scrutinised even more than normal.” Part of this scrutiny was having the structure checked by an inspector, who had to make the climb to the pinnacle to sign it off before filming could commence. With the platform attached, on-ground rehearsals complete and every detail planned to perfection, shoot day started in the wee hours of the morning. “Nicole was on site from around 2am for hair and make-up, while we arrived around 3.30am,” recalled Manning. The team took the same route of lifts to the 160th floor, before
setting out on the gruelling, hour-long climb to reach the pinnacle. “We had all the boards as well as Nicole’s uniform packed in a bag, which I carried up the ladders. As you get closer to the top, it gets tighter and tighter – It’s like a spiderweb of steel,” he described. “It’s a bit of a contortion act,” Manning continued, describing the process of emerging from the top of the pinnacle. “Once you reach the top, you need to open the lid, pull yourself out, then spread your legs and close the lid between them. It’s not easy!” Arriving at the pinnacle before sunrise, the crew handed over the rest of Smith-Ludvik’s cabin crew costume and secured her in position on the platform. “Nicole was in a basic full-body climbing harness; we had to make sure that the ropes, lanyards and carabiners were as noninvasive as possible and couldn’t be seen in the shot,” Manning explained. “Once she was up and in place, we locked the rope off, which meant that she couldn’t move more than a couple of inches either way.” According to Manning, with the wealth of high-altitude experience among the entire team,
there wasn’t even a hint of nervousness. In fact, it was quite the contrary. “I had my portable speaker up there and we were rocking out to Tool and Foo Fighters in between takes,” he laughed. “Nicole was beyond relaxed. We had done all the prep work on the ground, and she was in complete control for the whole time. It’s great to work with someone as professional as that – it makes our job a lot easier.” Emirates engaged CHOPPERSHOOT [a company that eagle-eyed readers may recognise from David Guetta’s Burj Al Arab helipad performance, TPMEA #29] for drone filming. “We have worked with CHOPPERSHOOT many times before,” revealed Gayton. “There are a fair number of drone filming companies in Dubai, but not many doing it to the levels that are required for a project like this.” Acting as Show Caller, Gayton was stationed just under the lid of the pinnacle, in constant radio contact with the drone team as well as the client, who was reviewing the content in real time. “These things always require several takes as it is important to get a variety of angles,” he commented. “The best time to film is the ‘golden
hour’ as the sun is rising or setting, so timing was very important.” With the final advert and behind-the-scenes video garnering more than 13.5 million views on Emirates’ social channels alone, the Emirates spokesperson described the campaign as “a huge success”. “It’s a brand love piece for us, which we think is so important as we have been relatively quiet off traditional media for some time,” they concluded. “The PR coverage globally has been absolutely phenomenal.” Reflecting on “an incredibly proud moment”, Manning was delighted with the outcome of the project. “It all fell into place so seamlessly,” he concluded. Gayton concurred: “It’s all the stakeholders that make these things happen,” he said. “From Emaar and the Burj Khalifa team, to the drone pilots and Emirates creative team, there’s so much work that goes on aside from the people up on the pinnacle. It was a huge success, which shows that the sky is not the limit. Photos: Emirates www.emirates.com www.primeproductions-amg.com www.tecs-me.com
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JOHN LICKRISH, CEO, FLASH ENTERTAINMENT THE FLASH ENTERTAINMENT CEO CATCHES UP WITH TPMEA AHEAD OF A SERIES OF HIGH-PROFILE EVENTS.
With an extensive role at Expo 2020 as well as several major events around the corner, including Abu Dhabi Showdown Week and the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix, the remainder of 2021 is set to be extremely busy for Flash Entertainment. While the constant threat of COVID-19 adds a note of caution to any positive projections, the sudden upturn in business, coupled with an aggressive regional expansion plan, seems to have the Abu Dhabi-based organisation on the path to success. Here, CEO, John Lickrish explains how the company is planning to deliver some of the year’s biggest events.
What can you tell us about Flash Entertainment’s involvement at Expo 2020? We are super excited to be part of this project; it’s a testament to the business and the team’s capabilities. We are delighted that the Expo 2020 organisers are trusting us to deliver such a robust entertainment programme in front of the world. While we have historically been linked to Abu Dhabi rather than Dubai, we’ve always said that we are here for the whole of the UAE and wider region, and our goal is to showcase the tremendous capabilities of the country and the assets that it has. As far as the specifics of our supply, we are delivering all the entertainment
throughout the site – aside from the headline artists, which is being handled separately. It’s a huge project that involves hundreds of entertainers spread across the two stages and all over the Expo 2020 site for the duration of the event. We describe it as ‘tactical entertainment’, as while it might not necessarily be the main draw that people put on their calendars, it will add an incredible amount of atmosphere throughout the event site. One of our most important goals with the entertainment programme is to promote Arabic and specifically Emirati culture. Many people associate the UAE with its big international
Flash Entertainment CEO, John Lickrish.
events such as the Formula One in Abu Dhabi, or its famous landmarks such as the Burj Khalifa and Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, but the country has so much more to offer than that. This is an opportunity to really get under the skin of the UAE and to show an international audience what an open, welcoming, and tolerant culture it is. This project has given us the opportunity to provide a platform for a wide variety of artists who represent the diverse community within the UAE. From contemporary to traditional, dance and spoken word, there are a huge variety of acts that are tailored to the region. How have you been working during this period of relative downtime to ensure that you’re ready for the sudden influx of live events? We are always growing the Flash Entertainment team, and by the start of Expo 2020, we should have roughly 100 people on full-time contracts. We spent a lot of time in 2020 revamping some of our IPs and creating new IPs. We developed partnerships with media as well as the private sector and government; we also built numerous business plans for other territories in the region and are working with various business entities outside the UAE. For Expo 2020 specifically, we are working alongside the Fridge and HQ Worldwide, both of
which provide a lot of skillsets that are very well suited for the project. It’s important to remember that this is a huge project taking place over a six-month period and, like every great project, it’s better to go in with a consolidated effort initially than try to take it on alone only to call in external companies later. As a government-owned company, it’s also our duty to support the private sector; we’re not here to become the one entity that does everything. We’ve worked with both companies on many projects in the past and it’s great to have them onboard again for this one. What kind of legacy will Expo 2020 leave? We’re going to see an exposure of some of these niche and up-and-coming performers to a global audience, which will hopefully spur an interest in Arabic culture and shine a light on how we all live in harmony here in the UAE. The more tangible part of the legacy will be the extensive infrastructure that has been built for Expo 2020. What the country’s leaders and organisers have done with this facility is truly outstanding and once the event has finished, there is a great opportunity for these venues to continue to serve the community. As promoters, we understand the cost of putting in place temporary infrastructure to host events. So, these facilities present an opportunity for many smaller
events to happen without the large overheads that would usually be incurred when setting up temporary infrastructure. That should encourage artists, managers, and agents to put on more shows, providing a boost for the local scene. Aside from Expo 2020, how is the rest of the year looking for Flash Entertainment? We have an aggressive growth plan starting in October. We’re working with our partners at the Department of Culture & Tourism – Abu Dhabi again on the operational delivery and ticket sales for the return of Abu Dhabi Showdown Week after delivering three successful UFC Fight Island events. Abu Dhabi Showdown, which is headlined by UFC 267 on Saturday, 30 October will once again look to activate the entire city. The Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in December is another major undertaking, and the brief is for that to be bigger and better than ever. We want to make sure we’re still the favourite stop on the entire Formula One season. It’s the last race of the year – a celebration where people have come to expect an extremely high calibre of artist at the Yasalam After-Race Concerts. We’ve put together a very strong line-up already, including Khalid and Lewis Capaldi. We have also recently announced the return of our flagship tennis event, the Mubadala World
Tennis Championship, which will take place between 16-18 December. Returning for its 13th edition, we are delighted that we will see the return of spectators for the event in line with government regulations. Since its inception, the Mubadala World Tennis Championship has proven to be incredibly popular with people from Abu Dhabi and around the world, so to be able to announce its return, with fans in attendance, is a very special moment for us. We look forward to announcing another world-class line-up and welcoming the world’s best tennis players back to Abu Dhabi. Will capacity limits dictate how the Formula One concerts are run? This year’s event will be slightly different to previous years, but we have done everything possible to ensure that ticketholders get plenty of non-stop entertainment on and off the track. Attendees will need to prove that they are fully
vaccinated and have a negative PCR test valid from no more than 48 hours before the event. The concerts meanwhile will see four of the biggest names in music perform from Thursday to Sunday, with weekend ticketholders given the choice of seeing one AAA international artist on a first-come-first-served basis, while one-day ticketholders will only be able to attend the concert on the night of their ticket. Abu Dhabi has been relatively conservative up to now when it comes to ‘opening up’, quite rightly putting the health of its citizens above all else. That said, there will come a point when things need to relax, and we will have to reach full capacity again. It then falls on us as individuals to take all the precautions to stay as safe as possible. We take precautions in other areas of life and, moving forward, COVID-19 will be no different. People need to realise that it’s a different world now and we all need to knuckle down and do what’s necessary.
How important is your link up with the UFC and how will you be supporting that relationship in the future? It is a fantastic partnership between UFC and the Department of Culture & Tourism - Abu Dhabi, which will continue until 2023 at least. Working closely with our partners at the Department of Culture & Tourism – Abu Dhabi, to deliver the on-ground operations of UFC’s events in Abu Dhabi during the pandemic, we’ve had some amazing fights out here in the past, including the first Fight Island, which was a global first. At Fight Island, we delivered a major international, globally televised event before the likes of NBA and the English Premier League created their ‘bubbles’ to get sports back up and running during lockdown. We’re incredibly excited to now welcome UFC back to Abu Dhabi, at the Etihad Arena again. With both Etihad Arena and Etihad Park now available for large-capacity shows, where do
you see the split between the two venues? The government has invested a lot of capital in building a top-class piece of infrastructure in the Etihad Arena. Having a state-of-the-art facility like this means that we can do a lot more events, turn them around quicker and more cost effectively and provide the customer with an even better experience. It also gives incoming acts a fixed venue that is much more in line with world-class concert touring globally. It’s a real game changer for us. Of course, we’ll still use both Etihad Arena and Etihad Park; in fact, we see the two venues going hand in hand. Etihad Park is more of a festival-style setup and its proximity to the Yas Marina Circuit makes it ideal for the Yasalam After-Race Concerts. What is the latest on your planned expansion into surrounding territories? We already have a small branch in Dubai, which we are hoping to expand this Autumn, bringing on more full-time staff to service that. We’re also looking to open our Saudi Arabia office around the same time, which we will put a lot of human resources into. We’re looking to recruit primarily Saudi talent, but it will be
supplemented by trusted team members from Flash Entertainment’s HQ, who will be able to help instil the correct corporate culture and lead on the way we do things. It’s very important for us to maintain our brand while we expand into different territories. We believe that there is a huge opportunity in Saudi Arabia, and we’ve got lofty ambitions within the Kingdom. We want to bring some of what we’ve learned in the early days of Abu Dhabi’s development into the early days of Saudi
Arabia’s development. A lot of our experience will transfer directly, but at the same time we want to create something unique for Saudi Arabia that will stand the test of time, and we need the input of Saudi nationals to help shape that. All these developments are part of a long-term vision that will create a regional hub, bringing with it a genuine touring route for the Middle East. Photos: Flash Entertainment www.flashentertainment.com
STEVE KEARNEY, MANAGING PARTNER, GALLOWGLASS HEALTH & SAFETY GALLOWGLASS HEALTH & SAFETY’S MANAGING PARTNER EXPLAINS HOW EXPO 2020 IS SET TO BE A CATALYST FOR GROWTH AT THE COMPANY.
Health and safety is always of paramount importance for any large-scale event, and with delegations from 191 countries as well as tens of thousands of visitors from all over the world descending on Dubai for a six-month period, they don’t come much larger in scale than Expo 2020 Dubai. For Steve Kearney, Managing Partner at Gallowglass Health and Safety, which has been tasked with delivering HSE for the entire Expo 2020 site, the project represents a milestone for the company.
“It’s a massive undertaking, the likes of which have never been seen in the Middle East before,” he described to TPMEA prior to the show opening on 1 October. “The ramp up in scale as we get closer to the beginning is huge.” Gallowglass’s role at Expo is a large and multifaceted one, with more than 40 team members already engaged in the project full time. “For our purposes, the whole site has been split into six zones and we have four HSO Zone Managers per area, working shifts to ensure that
each zone is covered 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Kearney explained. “Worker welfare is high on the agenda at Expo, and nobody is allowed to work more than 48 hours per week. We’ve built in some redundancy to our rota to ensure that everyone has the appropriate breaks and time off throughout the project.” Kearney described the roles of the Zone Managers as “a two-pronged approach”. He commented: “Their first remit is to look after crowd safety during the busy periods when large
Gallowglass Health & Safety Managing Partner, Steve Kearney.
“Expo has served as a great catalyst for growth. If anything, we’ll be looking to increase our resources further following the end of the event to meet the incredible demand in the UAE and elsewhere in the region.” Steve Kearney, Gallowglass Health & Safety
numbers of people are on site – they will identify possible pinch points and report any potential issues up the chain of command to the Visitor Safety Managers before they arise.” The second aspect of the Zone Managers’ role comes after hours when the large crowds have dispersed, and the site is taken over by technicians and crew working to prepare for the following day. “The majority of temporary infrastructure, overlay, installs and derigs will take place at night,” Kearney specified. “So, the role of the Zone Manager reverts to overseeing all that work once the guests are safely off-site.” Although Expo is all about creative collaboration between countries all over the world, Dubai’s commitment to support suppliers with a local presence in the region such as Gallowglass shows the strength of the industry in the UAE. “This is a major international event and the fact that the organisers have brought us in
to lead shows a huge level of trust, which we’re extremely pleased about,” Kearney said. Gallowglass has grown its workforce to handle the increased capacity that the project demands and, according to Kearney, the size of the company is only moving in one direction from here. “We’ve always known that this was a fixed-term project. However, it’s clear that the opportunities are there for much more work throughout the region to keep our team busy well after Expo has come to an end. Expo has served as a great catalyst for growth. If anything, we’ll be looking to increase our resources further following the end of the event to meet the incredible demand in the UAE and elsewhere in the region,” he explained. Yet while growth is inevitable, Kearny warned against the dangers of overstretching. “There are lots of opportunities available, but one thing I have to guard against is stretching the team
too thin. We’re renowned for providing the best qualified and experienced workforce in the sector, and if we were to suddenly bid on and win every job that goes to tender, we’d have no choice but to take on staff who are not up to the level of qualifications and experience that we currently insist upon.” Giving his final thoughts, Kearney expressed his enthusiasm ahead of what he called “an unprecedented time for the region”. “It’s hugely exciting to be involved in an event that will go down in history for not only Dubai but the Middle East as a region,” he concluded. “We’ve got big-game experience from our work with the likes of the Olympic Games and UEFA tournaments so we know the kind of challenges involved in large-scale events such as this, and we’re confident that we will deliver.” Photos: Expo 2020 & Gallowglass Health & Safety www.gallowglasshs.com
IN THE FIELD
IN THE FIELD: SENNHEISER EVOLUTION WIRELESS DIGITAL (EW-D) SENNHEISER HEAD OF MUSIC INDUSTRY PORTFOLIO, DR. OLIVER SCHMITZ HIGHLIGHTS THE BENEFITS AND COST-EFFECTIVE NATURE OF THE EVOLUTION WIRELESS DIGITAL (EW-D)
What was the goal in the development of Evolution Wireless Digital? The initial goal was to develop a product that would be capable of carrying over the strong product line of EW-D into a new decade. We are currently in a time when criteria such as user experience design and smart connectivity matter just as much as the classical performance criteria like RF reliability and pristine audio. What features will professional audio engineers find appealing? Professional audio engineers will love the fact that they are getting rock-solid digital wireless in the UHF spectrum for the first time at an affordable price point. The product comes with the ability to set up multiple wireless channels in a few minutes via the automatic frequency setup of the Smart Assist App, an audio input dynamic range of 134dB, five times more than
the usual 120dB, low latency of 1.9 milliseconds and a transmitter battery life of up to 12 hours with a rechargeable battery pack, just to name a few features. While the channel count is always dependent on the environment you’re in, EW-D can theoretically allow up to 90 channels based on how efficiently the system can operate it’s equidistant channel spacing. How does the Smart Assist App benefit end users? We decided to get rid of infrared as a configuration interface and replace it with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), providing us with the required smart device connectivity. There is demand for ‘an engineer in the pocket’ – someone taking care of the technical stuff in the background while the user can concentrate on their performance or other important tasks. The automated multichannel setup and the support
hub sections in the app were born from this demand. What does offering the highest input dynamic range of any other system mean for end users? For the artist, EW-D makes sure that his or her performance is captured in the best way possible. For the engineer, it takes away the pain of potentially running into the need for entering the stage during a performance in order to adjust the sensitivity in real-time. There is no other product on the market at this price point that offers the input dynamic range of EW-D. How important is it for you to bridge the gap between professional engineers and prosumers? More than two decades ago, Evolution Wireless made sure we gained a foothold outside of the very professional live performance and broadcast
IN THE FIELD
market. We learned how important it is to attract our end users already very early in their journey, to grow with them, and to be their companion and their trusted partner as they advance. That goes back to the idea of ‘evolving with you’ and EW-D. How does EW-D compare to existing wireless offerings? EW-D marks our mid-tier range of wireless microphones with XS Wireless sitting below and our Digital 6000 series as the high-end range. Analogue ew G4 is still a part of our active portfolio, so both series, ew G4 and EW-D, co-exist. This is simply because with ew G4, we have delivered state-of-the-art analogue wireless solutions, and there are hundreds of thousands of satisfied evolution wireless users globally. Consequently, to give those users the chance to further extend their existing setups, the products
will continue to co-exist for the foreseeable future. However, we anticipate our customers will likely make the change to digital for the benefits offered by digital workflows and digital technologies. What has the response been like? The feedback we’ve received so far has been overwhelming. This product has spent countless hours being field-tested with engineers, performers and artists long before it hit the market in June. All of them were impressed with the build quality, the performance EW-D delivers as well as the simplicity it offers in terms of setup and running. For me as a product manager, this kind of feedback warms my heart and makes me truly excited about EW-D entering the market and making our customers’ lives easier. Photos: Sennheiser www.sennheiser.com
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COMPANY PROFILE: SOS EVENT LOGISTICS AS SOS GLOBAL OPENS ITS FIRST DEDICATED MIDDLE EAST OFFICE, TPMEA CATCHES UP WITH GENERAL MANAGER OF THE DUBAI BRANCH, BOB O’BRIEN TO FIND OUT WHAT THE COMPANY HAS IN STORE FOR THE REGION.
For more than 35 years, SOS Global Express has been providing customised logistics solutions for the complex and time-critical events industry. Headquartered in New Bern, North Carolina, and with international hubs in Hamburg, London, and Moscow, the company has the experience, resources, and international network to offer a true year-round, 24/7 service to its clients – wherever they are in the world. That ability strengthened even further recently with the opening of a new Dubai branch, SOS Event Logistics LLC, which will service the company’s existing long-term customers in the
region as well as facilitate the expected growth in the industry throughout the Middle East. For much of the 35 years that SOS has been in existence, Bob O’Brien has operated in the live events industry, working as a Production Manager for a range of artists including Arcade Fire, Ellie Goulding, Franz Ferdinand, The Script, and The Strokes. In 2018, the PM made the leap away from touring to join SOS, with a remit to push forward the company’s entertainment logistics division. As part of that vision, O’Brien was tasked with opening the company’s first Middle East branch and, according to the new General Manager, there
was only one city in mind. “Dubai is the major hub both in terms of logistics and access to the wider Middle East region,” he began, explaining the reasons behind the company opening in the emirate. “We have a lot of clients who are based primarily in Dubai already and the city is still very much regarded as the main hub for commercial transactions and networking in the region.” While SOS has been moving gear in and out of the Middle East for many years without a permanent presence, with the numerous highprofile projects taking place in the region as well as the explosion in growth in Saudi Arabia, the
SOS Event Logistics General Manager, Bob O’Brien.
incredible demand required a dedicated branch. “We’ve been extremely busy right off the bat,” O’Brien revealed. “We’ve just completed the Olympic Games; we have the Winter Olympics coming up, then it’ll be onto the FIFA World Cup in Qatar – all of which have been supported in part through our Middle East network. While the Dubai company was only recently incorporated, O’Brien has been in Dubai since the start of the year. “I needed to be here to help handle some of the operational tasks on the ground,” he said, adding that while the office is in DIP, his role will see him travelling around the city and, in fact the region, with a trip to Riyadh on the cards to help manage a major project for Saudi National Day. “There is so much happening in Saudi Arabia right now, and there is a lot of activity coming up,” O’Brien continued. “Everybody in the industry is clamouring to set up over there and make sure they’re involved in as much as possible.” And while O’Brien revealed that SOS is also planning
on opening a branch in the Kingdom within the next six to eight months, he stressed that the move will come at the company’s own pace. “We’re not in a rush,” he stated. “We’re already incredibly busy in the region before we even scratch the surface of Saudi Arabia, so the most important thing is that we continue to look after our existing clients before we look at expansion.” The GM is currently in the process of hiring two new full-time members of staff to help service the demand out of the Dubai office. “We’re looking to bring in an Operations Manager, as well as someone to support on the administrational side of the business,” he disclosed. “I’m currently engaging with potential candidates for both roles.” ‘A STATE OF FLUX’ The entire live events supply chain has had its fair share of issues over the past 18 months and freighting and logistics are no exceptions. According to O’Brien, the industry is “in a state of
flux”, with everything from a shortage of shipping containers to sky-high air freight costs combining to make sending freight around the world incredibly complicated and expensive. “I’ve been in the industry in some form or another for more than 30 years and I’ve never seen a situation like we have now,” he admitted. “This isn’t as a result of any one airline or company taking advantage of the situation – it’s simply global supply and demand.” Freighting hit the mainstream media earlier this year with the blockage of the Suez Canal and O’Brien explained how he often points to that incident to explain the issues facing the industry. “The case of the Suez Canal is the first time that many people who aren’t involved in the world of logistics were able to witness first-hand the kind of challenges involved in the industry,” he noted. “In that instance, one incident had a domino effect on the entire global supply chain, and while something of that scale is rare, the industry is constantly dealing with issues, all of
“Within the next five years, bands and artists are going to be doing multiple shows in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, as well as the likes of Israel and South Africa. There’s a genuine route open here and we’re here to service that.” Bob O’Brien, SOS Event Logistics.
which impact up and down the chain.” According to O’Brien, while these issues are mostly unavoidable, the most important thing that he can do is keep in constant communication with his clients. “Pre-COVID, we would never bother a client with the behind-the-scenes details of logistics, but now we owe it to them to explain the situation and work on solutions so they can still get their cargo from A to B,” he said. “This region is particularly tough, because historically, some events quite often do not get confirmed until the last minute,” O’Brien commented, explaining one of the unique challenges of operating in the Middle East. “This sometimes means that ocean freight is unachievable due to the short timeframe, so expensive air freight is the only option.” And while previously, if the budget was there, air cargo was always available, with space at such a premium,
it’s much more difficult to accommodate large air shipments at short notice. One thing that’s sure to help is the fact that the company is now part of the NEP Group, having been bought out by the group in 2019. “It has been a huge help in the region,” O’Brien commented. “It has kept us very busy right from the off, servicing a lot of our existing clients while driving new business.” As the only logistics company under the NEP umbrella, O’Brien explained the importance of the company standing alone. “We must continue to steer our own course and drive new business,” he noted. Having visited the Middle East regularly during his time as a touring PM, O’Brien has witnessed the changes in the region. “With the new arenas here in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, as well as the massive growth in Saudi Arabia, it’s clear that the Middle East is gearing up to become a
fully-fledged touring region,” he stated. “Within the next five years, bands and artists are going to be doing multiple shows in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, as well as the likes of Israel and South Africa. There’s a genuine route open here and we’re here to service that.” As that Middle East touring route continues to establish itself on the international circuit, the long-term aim for O’Brien and SOS remains the same as when he joined the company. “We want to continue to grow our music touring division. That was part of my remit when I first came on board; we were doing exceptionally well before COVID, and as the world starts to return to normal, we’re aiming to continue to develop that side of the business and combine it with our very extensive broadcast history.” Photos: SOS Global www.sosglobal.com
COMPANY PROFILE: ENERGIE ENTERTAINMENT A YEAR ON FROM THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE COMPANY, ENERGIE ENTERTAINMENT FOUNDER AND CEO, TYLER DAVIS-SMITH GIVES TPMEA AN UPDATE ON HOW THE BUSINESS IS FARING.
Tyler Davis-Smith has never been one to back down from a challenge. Having launched his new company last year at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Energie Entertainment Founder and CEO has battled the odds to build an entertainment agency that has delivered events at some of the UAE’s most prestigious locations, including Coca-Cola Arena, Etihad Arena and Dubai World Trade Centre. However, for perfectionist Davis-Smith, there is always room for improvement. “Are we where I wanted and expected us to be? No,” he stated, honestly. “We launched in August 2020 and hit our peak in November and December. Ideally
things would have continued in the same vein, but as soon as the entertainment ban kicked in, it had a huge effect on our business.” Nevertheless, the achievement to get Energie Entertainment off the ground and established as a regular name on the circuit in these tumultuous times for the industry is one that cannot be understated, and as the Middle East events season resumes following the inevitable summer slowdown, the outlook for Energie looks positive. “We are in a really good position with several exciting projects already lined up for Q4,” the CEO shared, adding that expansion of the core team is on the cards. “I know we will need to bring on
more members of full-time staff to help facilitate the projects that are in the pipeline,” he said. “These people are already lined up and ready to go – they are people who I have wanted to work with and who have wanted to work with me for a while, so it’s a great opportunity to finally bring them onboard full-time.” While the business is growing to meet the increasing demand, it is important to Davis-Smith that the company retains its ethos and sticks to its core values of treating all freelancers fairly. “We know that growth is needed, but it would be foolish to expand too quickly and put ourselves in a position where we risk not being able to live
Energie Entertainment Founder and CEO, Tyler Davis-Smith.
up to the high standards that we have set so far, while also ensuring that everyone we work with is paid on time and in full. That was always a top priority when I started the business and I’m pleased to say that a year down the line, we have stayed true to our word.” This ethos is already bearing fruit, with freelancers happy to continue to work with the company, leading to better performances, events and ultimately repeat business from
several clients. “Building long-term relationships with both our clients and freelancers is key to our long-term vision,” Davis-Smith commented. “The fact that people who have worked with us have come back shows that we must be doing something right.” According to the CEO, the fact that many entertainers have taken full-time contracts or jobs in other sectors during the pandemic means that, as the industry begins to bounce back
to pre-pandemic levels, there is likely to be a shortage of performers in the region. “We’re constantly expanding our pool of freelancers with new talent from around the world, as well as updating our roster of local talent with any new entertainers who arrive in the region,” he revealed. “However, we are anticipating huge demand in Q4 that will outstrip supply. Planning is key – this region is notorious for leaving things until the last minute, but this
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“The main goal will always be to provide world-class entertainment and push the boundaries, creating new and exciting shows while retaining the core values that have got us to where we are today.” Energie Entertainment Founder and CEO, Tyler Davis-Smith. year, as we emerge from the pandemic, clients must book early.” A major factor in this increase in demand is, of course, Expo 2020 and while Energie isn’t involved directly, the company has already confirmed several projects for satellite events separate from the main show. “Expo is going to be a massive boost for the economy – you’d be foolish to think anything else,” he stated. “There’s no doubt that it will bring in more business. However, while a lot of the focus will be on what’s going on at the site during Expo, I prefer the idea of legacy projects, building something that will stand the test of time.” As well as providing artists and entertainers for
events, Energie also supplies a range of backstage roles including show callers and stage managers. “The two disciplines go hand in hand,” the CEO explained. “I’m always happier if we can bring our own show caller and stage management to a show. We’re a trusted team that have worked together for a long time, so it always helps a project run smoothly.” Looking to the future, Davis-Smith is setting ambitious yet achievable goals for the company. “In a year we will have added to our team of core staff and expanded our databases, which will give us a larger reach and a capacity to accept more work,” he explained. “Regional expansion is also a must. I have personal experience of delivering
entertainment in both Saudi Arabia and Qatar. I have no doubt that we can replicate that experience as a company.” He concluded: “The main goal will always be to provide world-class entertainment and push the boundaries, creating new and exciting shows while retaining the core values that have got us to where we are today. We must continue to service all of our clients with the high standards we have set so far. Repeat business is vital because it grows the connections and strengthens relationships, which are key to the long-term success of the company.” Photos: Energie Entertainment www.weareenergie.com
CATS LTD. COVERS GREAT MIGRATION LIVESTREAM WITH CLEAR-COM A DX210 DIGITAL WIRELESS SYSTEM PROVIDES COMMUNICATIONS FOR FILMING TEAMS IN TANZANIA AND KENYA. Kenya-based CATS Limited was recently enlisted by renowned wildlife photographer, Jeffrey Wu, to assist with a first-of-its-kind livestream production of The Great Migration in Africa. Commissioned by video sharing social networking platforms TikTok and Douyin, the livestream aimed to showcase the stunning natural beauty of millions of wildebeest, zebras, gazelles, and more migrating from Tanzania’s Serengeti to the fertile grasslands of Kenya’s Maasai Mara. CATS Limited Founder, Ayaz Rajput joined Wu’s longstanding local production partner, Irfan Kassam, to provide the technical expertise for this five-day event, where app users could tune in from 25 to 29 August. The project required seamless communications between two tour vehicles, each outfitted with three cameras, a vision mix, audio mix and streaming equipment, powered by onboard inverters and solar generators during the many hours of operation in the field. CATS Limited’s Clear-Com DX210 Digital Wireless Intercom was deployed for the project, with its main station in one vehicle, with the antennas oriented outside the vehicle and a BP210 two-channel 2.4 GHz wireless beltpack in the second vehicle. With Rajput in one vehicle, and Kassam in the other, this configuration provided the channel to coordinate vehicle movements,
technical troubleshooting and any other intervehicle communications. In the open plains, the production team was able to achieve up to 150m of wireless intercom range, which allowed enough distance between vehicles for the two hosts who were narrating the content – one speaking Mandarin and the other speaking English – to not interfere with one another, while still allowing Ayaz and Irfan to communicate over the comms. TikTok and Douyin partnered with the Kenya Tourism Board, the International Fund for Animal Welfare and Conservation International in this event aimed to promote the importance
of biodiversity and to inspire wildlife protection around the world. “I am honored to be a part of such a noble cause,” commented Rajput. “It’s crazy to think that such a small team, with the help of a single DX210 system, could bring this message onto a global platform. After nine years of service in the industry here in Nairobi, clients and crew have become accustomed to our Clear-Com system, which is synonymous with the high quality of service that CATS Limited is known to provide.” Photos: Jeffrey Wu www.clearcom.com
BAD WEATHER UPGRADES TO STREAMWORKS STREAMWORKS TECHNOLOGY FACILITATES LIVE EVENT PRODUCTION IN A VIRTUAL WORLD.
Cape Town-based creative production house, Bad Weather has enhanced its streaming portfolio with StreamWorks by Stage Audio Works (SAW) – a platform comprising hardware and software as well as support and expertise. “When the live events sector effectively ceased to exist overnight, the transition to virtual solutions offered us a means to continue to service our clients with the same high production standards,” said Bad Weather Creative Director, Jonathan Bandli. “We were clear on what we wanted to achieve, but needed help on how we were going to deliver the service.” At this point, Bad Weather turned to its long-standing supplier Stage Audio Works for advice. “We’ve worked with Nathan [Ihlenfeldt] and his team for many years and have a great relationship built on mutual trust and respect,” continued Bandli. “We invested in a complete Blackmagic Design camera and switching chain, as well as Sennheiser microphones and in-ears for our studio, all supplied by SAW. When it came to streaming, Nathan recommended the StreamWorks platform, which is now at the heart of all our streaming offerings, giving us the possibility to provide end-to-end virtual solutions to old and new clients alike.” SAW’s recommendations aside, Bad Weather was attracted to the StreamWorks platform as it utilises a Secure Reliable Transport (SRT) backbone, renowned for both its reliability and high-quality transmission. Indeed, Bad Weather is now a member of the SRT Alliance devoted to promoting industry-wide recognition and adoption of SRT as a common standard for all low-latency internet streaming. “Even the most amazing show means nothing if it doesn’t reach the audience. StreamWorks has a solution for all of this,” observed Bandli. “When we delivered the first virtual event in Botswana, we had the confidence to go into a new country with new infrastructure and deliver the same level of quality and service as always. SAW helped us specify internet and network infrastructure on the ground locally, deploy pre-show testing, and even set up full onsite redundancy – all things we offer as standard in our Cape Town studio.” Bad Weather delivered an end-to-end virtual solution on site in Gaborone, utilising its Unreal Engine virtual production workflow to deliver a 3D virtual environment in which to present
both the live and remote talent. The company handled virtual green room support via its Cape Town studio and had a combination of tracked and untracked cameras on site for both dynamic presentations and panel discussion scenarios. “As one of the leading companies in the virtual production space in South Africa, it is our mission to continue developing the offerings of virtual solutions to the entire African market and beyond, investing into the right partners along the way, who value our clients’ delivery as much as we do and value the vision of being masters of
their craft,” Bandli concluded. “We look forward to many more years of partnership with SAW as we continue to push boundaries together.” “The platform enables us to provide worldclass end-to-end streaming services beyond our borders – in this instance it was in Botswana, but our infrastructure is positioned globally, so it could be from anywhere to anywhere,” concluded SAW CTO, Nathan Ihlenfeldt. Photos: Bad Weather www.badweather.co.za www.stageaudioworks.com