TPMEA #039 - Dec/Jan 2023

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DECEMBER / JANUARY • ISSUE 039
NOOR RIYADH: AXION AN OTHERWORLDLY AUDIO-VISUAL INSTALLATION IN THE HEART OF THE SAUDI ARABIAN DESERT
GEORGE
EZRA • GLOBAL CITIZEN ACCRA • THE LIBERATION OF IZMIR • BEWUNDER • SAUDI GAMES • THOMAS OVESEN

DIVE IN

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WELCOME... TO TPMEA

A storm is coming

Here we are at the end of another year - and what a year it has been. At the tailend of 2021, the industry was showing small signs of revival but still very much on shaky ground. However, with the return of travel, trade shows and large-scale live events in abundance, there’s no doubt that we’re back in business.

This issue features several articles born out of my recent trip to Dubai, which saw me get reacquainted with the Coca-Cola Arena after a couple of years away. I visited Dubai’s largest multipurpose venue on two separate occasions – first to interview General Manager, Mark Jan Kar ( page 55), before returning to meet the team behind George Ezra’s tour and take in his first show in Dubai since he appeared at Dubai World Trade Centre back in 2019 (page 34).

I al so popped my head into the impressive headquarters of Maestra for a chat with the company’s Founder and Managing Director, Tom Clements ( page 58), and caught up with our semi-regular columnist, 3 Monkeys’ Rudi Buchner ( page 63).

Al so in this issue, we have an in-depth tech profile of the Global Citizen Festival in Accra, Ghana ( page 42), we speak to the team behind one of the largest events ever to take place in Turkey ( page 50), we hear about the spectacular Coke Studio Live ( page 20), and much, much more.

By t he time this issue is out, I will be in Saudi Arabia for XP Music Futures and MDLBEAST Soundstorm. After covering the event remotely for its past two editions, I can’t wait to get my feet on the ground and see what they have got in store for us this year. Look out for detailed coverage of both events in our next issue.

Enjoy the issue.

www.tpmeamagazine.com

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CONTENTS

14 20 42 34 64 50

EDITORIAL DIRECTOR

Peter Iantorno

Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7763 233637 e-mail: p.iantorno@mondiale.co.uk

CHIEF EXECUTIVE

Justin Gawne

Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360

Mobile: +44 (0)7768 850767 e-mail: j.gawne@mondiale.co.uk

DIGITAL CONTENT MANAGER

James Robertson

Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360

Mobile: +44 (0)7725 475819 e-mail: j.robertson@mondiale.co.uk

COVER PHOTOGRAPHY

AXION by Ralph Larmann

PRINTED BY Buxton Press www.buxpress.co.uk

CONTRIBUTING EDITOR

Stew Hume

Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360

Mobile: +44 (0)7702 054344 e-mail: s.hume@mondiale.co.uk

SENIOR ACCOUNT MANAGER

Fran Begaj

Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360

Mobile: +44 (0)7852 336728 e-mail: f.begaj@mondiale.co.uk

MARKETING AND EVENT MANAGER

Alice Clarke

Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7752 392465 e-mail: a.clarke@mondiale.co.uk

MONDIALE GROUP CHAIRMAN

Damian Walsh

www.tpmeamagazine.com www.tpmeaawards.com www.tpimagazine.com www.tpiawards.com

06 – FIRST LOOK: THOMAS OVESEN

The industry veteran discusses his new venture.

14

– MIDDLE EAST NEWS

The latest news from the Middle East, including Coke Studio and AXION at Noor Riyadh.

34

– GEORGE EZRA

The singer-songwriter’s touring party welcomes TPMEA behind the scenes of his Dubai show.

42 – GLOBAL CITIZEN FESTIVAL ACCRA

A spectacular show in Ghana for a worthy cause.

50

– THE LIBERATION OF IZMIR

An estimated two million witness one of the biggest shows in Turkey’s history.

55 – INTERVIEW: MARK JAN KAR

TPMEA catches up with Coca-Cola Arena’s GM.

58 – COMPANY PROFILE: MAESTRA

A multidisciplined AV and scenic supplier for agencies supporting the world’s biggest brands.

60 – COMPANY PROFILE: EVENT LAB

From basement project to leading multinational.

63 – DIGITALISATION OF EVENTS

3Monkeys’ Rudi Buchner shares his musings.

64 – POLYGON LIVE

An immersive experience using L-Acoustics L-ISA.

65 – AFRICA NEWS

The latest news from Africa, including the DStv Awards and CHAINMASTER’s deal with DWR.

CONTRIBUTING ASSISTANT EDITOR

Jacob Waite

Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8352

Mobile: +44 (0)7592 679612 e-mail: j.waite@mondiale.co.uk

ACCOUNT MANAGER

Matilda Matthews

Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360 Mobile: +44 (0)7413 555978 e-mail: m.matthews@mondiale.co.uk

GRAPHIC DESIGN & PRODUCTION

Dan Seaton: d.seaton@mondiale.co.uk

Mel Capper: m.capper@mondiale.co.uk

ACCOUNTS

Lynette Levi / Sarah Miller: ar@mondiale.co.uk

@tpmea_magazine f acebook.com/TPMEA_Magazine @tpmea linkedin.com/company/tpmea

CONTENTS 04

More than a venue.

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Royal Albert Hall, London, UK

THOMAS OVESEN, FOUNDER, T.O.P ENTERTAINMENT

THE VETERAN PROMOTER REFLECTS ON T.O.P ENTERTAINMENT’S SELL-OUT DEBUT SHOW, STATES HIS VIEWS ON DATA-DRIVEN DECISION MAKING, AND SHARES HIS AMBITIONS FOR THE NEW VENTURE.

With more than 20 years of Middle East industry experience, working with some of the biggest stars in the music and entertainment business, Thomas Ovesen is more qualified than most when it comes to deciding what will sell in the region. After a stint in Saudi Arabia working with the Diriyah Gate Development Authority, Ovesen marked his return to Dubai with a sell-out show from 50 Cent at Coca-Cola Arena. With the events season in full swing, the T.O.P Entertainment Founder took some time out from his busy schedule to sit down with TPMEA. Here, he discusses everything from his motivation for launching the company, to venue selection, how he deals with competition and his future plans.

What was the motivation behind launching T.O.P Entertainment?

I had a wonderful time working on the Diriyah Gate project; we wrote some great strategy and had fantastic plans, but the booking of the content and live events promotions was still quite a distance down the road, and I had done what was initially asked of me. So, with the blessing of the project’s CEO, I decided last summer to plan for a return to Dubai in 2022.

We launched T.O.P Entertainment in mid-April, as an independent company instead of having a local corporate or individual underwriting the business as I have in the past. Our initial plan to get back into the market was to team up with European promoter All Things Live to put on Justin Bieber in Dubai, which sold out two nights at Coca-Cola Arena before the artist unfortunately had to cancel. We’ve since been in partnership with the building to put on 50 Cent, who sold out the Coca-Cola Arena and put on a fantastic show. We’re now building on that success and promoting across the region, with plans to be active in many territories throughout the Middle East.

How much of a blow was the cancellation of the Justin Bieber shows?

The huge disappointment was that the shows were completely sold out, so we had 26,000 ticketholders who would have had a fantastic night and unfortunately, we weren’t able to provide it for them this time. The upside is that when Justin decides that he is ready to come back and can commit again to two shows on his tour, we already know that there is a ready-made fanbase here ready and waiting to buy tickets again. I have no assurances of when or if that will happen, but I’m sure that if he is ready to play Dubai, I will get the call and we will put it on.

What kind of events are you looking to target?

I’m not tied in with any specific media companies or owners that have specific venues as I have been in the past, so in principle I can sell and promote anything that people want to buy a ticket to. We’ll be looking to take on a spectrum of events, from family entertainment

06 FIRST LOOK MIDDLE EAST ME

to touring artists, which is where my main passion lies. Each market has its own set of established market players and its own potential. So, in some markets I will most likely team up with other organisations, in others I will offer my services to produce or programme or both, and in some markets where I feel I can add something to the mix, I will compete.

I will take each market and each opportunity on its own merits. In the UAE for example, I will be taking risks on my shows, doing my own promotions from A to Z. Eventually, there will be some other markets where it will make sense to have boots on the ground. Saudi is an example of a market that will really appreciate the passing of knowledge and engagement on a grassroots level when it comes to our organisation.

How has the emergence of Saudi Arabia as an event-hosting nation changed the potential for touring the Middle East?

Everyone in this market looking at tours will see

the opportunities in Saudi Arabia. We might have lost Lebanon as a tour stop for the time being, but now Saudi can offer two, three or perhaps even more stops on a tour. Three to five shows on a regional tour is not beyond the realms of possibility for the right act.

How do you go about selecting venues?

I won’t succumb to being the lazy promoter who puts on all his shows in the same venue. There are some acts that are too big for arenas – Justin Bieber would have been one of them if he was only available for one night. Some shows sit better in an open-air venue. There are event IPs that are built around being held outside, which brings benefits of being able to control everything, including all revenue streams.

That said, Coca-Cola Arena is the venue that we have been dreaming of for years. Before it existed, whenever we thought about the main challenges for our business, the lack of purpose-built venues would always come up.

So, now we have one in Dubai, as well as the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, it would be amiss for me as a promoter if I didn’t support those projects wholeheartedly. I still have a lot to learn with regards to making the most of operating in these buildings, but they provide such a great opportunity for my business. They also provide smaller promoters an opportunity to get into the business, who may previously have been put off by the idea of having to invest millions of dirhams and lots of resources into putting a green field site into play. They’re now able to plug and play inside a purpose-built arena.

How do you view the competition?

I welcome the competition because it’s good to have more buyers on the market, but I’m also confident that on a like-for-like basis, I still have some knowledge of the market that means for at least some artists, I am the best bet when it comes to promoter choice. There will of course be some artists for whom I’m not the best

08 FIRST LOOK MIDDLE EAST ME
“I won’t succumb to being the lazy promoter who puts on all his shows in the same venue. There are some acts that are too big for arenas.”
Thomas Ovesen, Founder, T.O.P Entertainment
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promoter – for Bollywood or Arabic content, for example, I’m sure there are others who have far more content knowledge than me. However, for touring and Western talents, some of the new competitors will have to get up pretty early in the morning to outsell my promotion and events.

It ’s one thing to find a venue and put on a show, but it’s a whole other thing to know the market, the artist and how best to price the ticket to sell the most and gross the most. That level of detail takes a little time to learn.

You have K-pop star Jackson Wang confirmed to play Coca-Cola Arena in February 2023. Have you identified K-pop as a trend in the region? Absolutely. K-pop is getting bigger and bigger in the region and globally. We’ve seen plenty of recent K-pop shows in KSA and Abu Dhabi, and I think it’s time for Dubai to have their slice of the cake. Jackson is trending on a similar level to BTS when they emerged in established English language markets, so, we expect that he will pick up on a chunk of the conventional mainstream

English language pop market. It will be interesting for me to get involved and I’m sure that I will learn a lot about a new fan segment that I am not too familiar with yet.

Do K-pop acts tend to provide different opportunities to Western touring artists in terms of fan engagement?

The first thing I noticed when we started working with Jackson and the AEG Asia team who tours him was how engaged he is with regards to the

10 FIRST LOOK MIDDLE EAST ME

promotion of the show and how willing he is to make himself available for interviews and other promotional activities such as meet and greets.

We would love that from all our artists. We know that not everyone enjoys that side of it, but it’s refreshing to see how he is able to see promotion from the commercial point of view. Exhausting all opportunities to maximise the campaign not only helps sell more tickets but also builds the artist’s brand. It’s a promoter’s dream; we just need to be smart enough to structure the ticket sales accordingly.

How important is data in your decision-making?

There are promoters in the ecosystem globally that have turned this into a science. I appreciate the knowledge that you can pull out of data, tracking people’s music consumption, yet at the same time, I can’t help also going with a gut feeling. If my gut feeling is echoed by what the statistics say on a certain artist, then we are a go.

I see some amazing ways of reading into digital statistics on music and lifestyle consumption. However, things aren’t always straightforward. At what point does a person’s preference for listening to an artist on digital media translate to them being willing to part with money to see them perform live? If it’s a

very young audience, there are fans who might never have been concert-goers. Do they want to go to concerts or are they happier to consume their music electronically? We’re considering all these things and they are becoming increasingly important to us.

Are you looking into alternative content delivery methods to entice new markets?

I remember some people in the industry saying that once we started with hybrid and virtual events during the pandemic, we would just stick with it. However, for me, the live experience can’t be reproduced. That’s not to say there isn’t room for online and hybrid events, but live will always be the pinnacle. Whether it’s sitting in a seat watching a classical show or dancing on a club floor to a DJ, the live arena is ultimately king and that is the part of the business that I will continue to focus on.

What are the company’s biggest challenges? Some buyers in the region (many of whom are governments) can make top-dollar offers, so it’s very difficult to compete financially for some artists and tours. I think that 2023 will be a year when a lot of tours come out in our market. There will be so many shows, as well as big

sporting events, all taking place within a short space of time. So, the ticket buyers will have so many options, which may make it more difficult to sell. People can only spend so much money on tickets to live events, so we need to be extremely careful with the shows we promote in the next 18 months.

What are your goals for the future?

We already have three or four large tours lined up for 2024. Looking further ahead, I will develop some new IPs – much like we have done with RedFest, Blended and Fiesta de Los Muertes in the past. These projects need a three- to fiveyear business plan to make financial sense; they become lifestyle brands of their own.

My time in Saudi taught me a lot and I’d love to finally pay back some of the people who have been involved with me over the years under this new umbrella. It was a bit like putting the band back together when we did 50 Cent, with old faces working either for the Coca-Cola Arena or freelancers coming back to join the team. If we can have a few years of great shows and develop some exciting new IPs, I can ride off into the sunset happy and let the team to take it forward.

Photos: T.O.P Entertainment www.thomasovesenpresents.com

ME FIRST LOOK MIDDLE EAST 11

ENGINEERING & SERVICE FOR MAJOR EVENTS

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ABOUT US

ES:ME Entertainment Services is a premium event engineering company that focuses on providing the most recent event technology in the market, implemented by world-class event specialists and powered by a vast network of suppliers around the world.

OUR VISION & MISSION

Our ethos gravitates around reliability, safety and efficiency. No event setting is left to chance. We employ our thorough understanding of our client's capabilities and intended results as we create breath-taking experiences for them and the event comers. We aim for our services to deliver highly experiential, sustainable and world class events for our clients everywhere across the globe—building creative links between design ideas and innovative event technologies.

OUR ROOTS

Originating in Germany and Europe, our values were built over the years by touring with big artists and working for the likes of Volkswagen and BMW on corporate events. With a total of over 30 years experience being in the industry, and a highly qualified international team, ES:ME helped build some of the biggest events in the Middle East such as the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, the Formula 1, the opening ceremony of the Doha Port, installation of Ferrari World Opening Ceremony and the Opening Show of Burj Khalifa.

www.es-me.net sales@es-me.net
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OUR SERVICES

We classify our services into three main categories: Consulting & Event Engineering, Full Technical Event Delivery & On-site Management and Event Equipment Sourcing & Rental.

Consulting & Event Engineering is when we work closely on the clients’ first event ideas guiding them to the right directions with the correct solutions. We advise our clients in every step of the process to ensure a seamless and care-free event for everyone while we keep up to the highest safety standards of the industry.

Full Technical Event Delivery & On-site Management is us taking care of all the necessary technical requirements and deliverables of an event such as: rigging, staging, lighting, audio-video, special effects and power supply with punctual on-site technical management. We also act as our client's full event support, coordinating with other on-site contractors on their behalf.

Event Equipment Sourcing & Rental is whenever ES:ME offers its wide array of equipment inventory to clients who need them. We ensure our equipment follows international standards in terms of regular check ups and maintenance. We also utilize our global network of event suppliers to fill in any gaps for clients who have specific needs for their event.

First, we discuss with our clients their request for a proposal Then, we create a personalized plan for the project with the right resources and solutions that fit the budget Together with our clients, we begin building the project according to our consolidated plan!

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NOOR RIYADH: AXION

Saudi Arabian festival of light and art Noor Riyadh returned in November with its biggest ever programme comprising over 190 artworks and 500 activities. One of the annual festival’s most eye-catching and ambitious artworks was AXION – an otherworldly temporary lighting installation devised in the mind of WHITEVoid’s Christopher Bauder.

Based around one of Bauder’s previous creations, Stalactite, which was created mainly for indoor settings, AXION is an enormous temporary light show that has been created specifically to be displayed in the desert. With its sprawling array of light tubes, mirror balls and moving lights, it looks like a giant scientific device for space exploration or particle detection.

“The idea was to create something that looks as though it has been designed to communicate with lights and music into outer space or even

another dimension; it looks like a light modulator that functions as a communication device with an unknown recipient,” Bauder informed TPMEA.

“My ideas come from two sources,” he said of his inspiration. “One side of it is the technical development. In this case I am using moving lights as a structural element, but I see them not in the traditional live event sense but as light modifying machines that can be used to create tangible architectural shapes in midair. It feels almost physical. If you step into the space created by the moving lights, you feel as though you’re inside a room. It’s like an ethereal cathedral, even though you’re still outside under the open sky. You have this feeling of architectural spatial confinement.”

The artist also draws inspiration from his background growing up around the nightclubs of Berlin. “I was a techno kid, and I wanted to bring

this feeling of community and communication through lights and music that you have inside a club to art installations and a bit more of a ‘grown up’ community.”

Having provided a smaller installation for last year’s Noor Riyadh, Bauder was keen to get involved in the festival again and he had an idea tailor made for the environment. “I knew what was possible after seeing the site in 2021, and the desert environment lent itself perfectly to the concept,” he said.

Key to the design was the use of 80 Ayrton Cobras. “I like to create architectural vectorbased shapes made of light, but usually I do that indoors using a lot of haze to make it visible or using lasers,” Bauder explained. “However, with the Ayrton Cobra, it was the first time I could achieve this effect outdoors without using haze or fog that I could actively control. They have the

REGIONAL ROUND-UP 14 ME

strength, uniformity of beam and the outdoor capability. This allows me to leave them out in the dusty environment of the desert, which adds great texture in the lights.”

He added: “I don’t think this would have been possible without the Cobra; it’s the first fixture I’ve seen that brings all the required power and precision with an IP65 rating. From a distance, the beam looks almost like a laser, but it is more solid and has more volume, and it doesn’t have a visible conversion point. All these properties were essential to construct the vision.”

Also vital was the “precision and control” of an MA Lighting grandMA3 console combined with Derivatives TouchDesigner software. “We had to achieve perfection, with all the beams pointing to virtual moving co-ordinates in space,” Bauder noted. “All this needed to come together to create such an art piece.”

The artwork can run in several ways, with either a pre-programmed exhibition mode that plays a 30-minute synchronised show to music, or with a live musician or DJ, with the lighting being manipulated in real time. “I always like to bring a bit of the Berlin party vibe to wherever we go,” Bauder laughed, recalling the opening party, which saw DJ KiNK – who composed the

30-minute track – play a live set to a lucky VIP audience. “He was originally supposed to play for two hours, but I think he ended up playing for around five! It was a surreal experience to have our own rave in the middle of the Saudi Arabian desert under the light installation.”

Mar tin Kuhn, Senior Technical Manager Special Projects at WHITEVoid, was a key member of the delivery team. “As soon as we got the go-ahead, Christopher and I went to Saudi to find a location,” he recalled. After three days of site visits, they settled on a location around an hour’s drive outside of the city. “It was a good balance of being remote, but also not so far away that it would be hard to get people to come.”

Of course, building in a remote desert environment is fraught with challenges, and Kuhn recalled the struggle of creating what was essentially a self-contained village, complete with power and infrastructure, before the arduous work of levelling of ground could even begin. “We even had to dig trenches to run the cabling underground,” he laughed, recalling being literally ‘in the trenches’ with a pickaxe. “In Saudi Arabia, everything is possible.”

According to Kuhn, the most crucial part of the load-in was the positioning of the 76 Ayrton

Cobras surrounding the installation (the other four were on the top of the pyramid). “I insisted that we sat them on concrete bases; we needed something 100% flat, and we would never have been able to get the required accuracy with them on the sand.”

Bauder and Kuhn were joined by WHITEVoid’s Marc Liebold on technical management, Andreas Vollmer on lighting programming, and Tarek el Kihel on visual programming, as well as Martin Lauth, who represented the technical supplier ES:ME Entertainment Services as technical lead for rigging, audio, and lighting. “Martin and ES:ME played a huge role in organising everything,” Kuhn recalled.

Bauder was delighted with the result. “I like that we managed to put it in such a remote place. It needed darkness as a background and there aren’t many darker places than the desert,” he concluded. “The skies were so clear and vast and full of stars. I love the contrast between the abstract raw nature and the technology driven art we’re putting into it.”

Photos: Ralph Larmann www.whitevoid.com www.es-me.net

REGIONAL ROUND-UP 15 ME

WWE CROWN JEWEL

WWE returned to Saudi Arabia with its Crown Jewel event taking over Riyadh’s 25,000-capacity Mrsool Park stadium.

Creative Technology was engaged by Screenworks to supply ringside and entrance screens for the ground-breaking show. The company used the opportunity to deploy a massive 800 sq m of its brand-new INFiLED 4.6mm LED, as well as 300 sq m of ROE Visual Vanish V8T across the ring side and entrance screens, all controlled via a centralised NovaStar H15 video splicing and processing suite.

Screenworks’ creative brief included a huge crown-shaped main screen measuring 22.5m high by 39m long. The impressive over-ring design consisted of four large LED screens, which were configured in a 360° formation, ensuring that fans in every seat within the stadium never missed a second of the action.

To enhance the fan experience, the four truss tower legs were also wrapped in LED, which displayed content that interacted with the over-ring screens, showing rounds, point scores, updates, and sponsorship logos.

“T his year’s event was even bigger than the last,” commented CT’s Head of Video, Tom Stocks.

“The fans were amazed at the magnitude of the show. Our dedicated engineers worked extremely hard to ensure everything ran seamlessly on the night. With months of planning and preparation, it was out of this world to see the enormous piece of engineering come together.”

Project Manager, Dan Hughes added: “We are very proud to have delivered the WWE extravaganza for a fifth year. Our talented engineers came together to build large LED for the technical production, which was a massive success. The team were ready for any changing scope and any last-minute technical additions. Well done to the entire team and a huge thank you to Screenworks for trusting us each year to make this a brilliant event.”

Also contributing to the project was Showforce, which provided a team including a crew manager, two international crew and 10 crew members, who worked on-site in Riyadh from 26 October to 8 November. “The mega LED screen build included millions of pixels, miles of cable and resulted in a great show,” the company stated in a post-event press release.

Power and cooling requirements for the event were handled by Aggreko. Events Sales

Account Manager, Imran Khan described the company’s delivery: “Aggreko supplied power services for full stage production, including lighting, audio and video, as well as cooling for all the technical areas – 9MW and 75T cooling capacity, to be precise.”

Khan put the successful delivery down to “local knowledge and technical expertise”, adding that the company’s extensive range of equipment available in the region was vital to the quick turnaround. “Our team of experts provided full design, transport, and the installation for the 9MW of power, along with a dedicated crew to install and maintain the equipment while the event was on.”

The Account Manager was pleased to report a “seamless, continuous power delivery”, which enabled the show to go off without a hitch. “We delivered precisely on the customer’s requirements, enabling the show that was watched by millions on-site and live on television to go on seamlessly.”

Photos: Creative Technology www.ctme.co www.showforce.com www.events.aggreko.com

REGIONAL ROUND-UP 16 ME

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SLS STARS AT SAUDI GAMES

THE COMPANY DELIVERS A TURNKEY SOLUTION FOR THE FAN ZONE AND CLOSING CEREMONY.

The largest national sporting event in the history of Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Games took place in Riyadh from 27 October to 7 November. With more than 6,000 athletes and 2,000 technical and administrative supervisors involved, the event was on a massive scale.

Event and entertainment management agency LuxuryKSA appointed SLS Production Equipment to deliver a turnkey AV production for both the fan zone and the closing ceremony. Managed by Production Managers, Anuj Naik and Paurasp Waghchhipawalla, the SLS team worked day and night to pull off the ambitious multifaceted project.

The first stage was the fan zone at Al Nakheel Mall, for which SLS provided audio, lighting, LED, SFX, trussing and scaffolding.

The PA comprised 24 Meyer Sound LEOPARD loudspeakers and 12 900-LFC subs, with a Yamaha console at FOH. Two Pioneer DJM900NXS2s and four CDJ-2000NXS2 were provided for the incoming DJs, while eight Yamaha and 10 NEXO PS15-R2 were among the loudspeakers used for on-stage sound.

SL S deployed its newly purchased Absen PL Lite 3.9mm outdoor LED screen for the event, with 4K processing using NovaStar H2 and CVT4K-S, and Resolume Arena used for playback. In all, 128 sq m of the Absen product was used for

an LED tower displaying the live action, while 126 sq m was deployed on the main stage.

Lighting HOD Praveen Jayakumar designed the lighting rig, which featured a selection of Robe fixtures including MegaPointes, Spiider Washes, and TETRA2 linear bars, which were joined by Martin ERA 800 Performances, and SGM Lighting P-5s. Atmospherics came in the form of Magic FX Sparkulars and Robe fog and haze machines, with an MA Lighting grandMA2 Full Size and a grandMA2 light used for control.

For the closing ceremony, SLS fulfilled an ambitious stage design by LuxuryKSA. Head Rigger Kevin Shyam oversaw the install of a huge scaffolding main stage structure measuring 36m by 8m by 22m. A large Meyer Sound PA was again deployed, including 24 LEO-M, 24 1100-LFC, 64 LEOPARD, 12 900-LFC, as well as MJF-210 and MJF-212 on stage, with a DiGiCo SD7 at FOH and an SD5 at monitors.

“We are very proud of our long-lasting collaboration with SLS,” commented Andrea Granata, Meyer Sound Sales Manager for MEA. “From training to technical support and service, we do our best to put them in the best condition to deliver exceptional shows like this.”

Giving his thoughts on the system was SLS Project Manager, Anuj Naik. “We have a good stock of Meyer Sound to cater for our KSA shows.

Our client chose the brand for this huge outdoor event due to its quality and ease of installation.”

“I love mixing live shows with Meyer Sound,” commented Audio Operator Arun Kumar. “It almost feels like I’m mixing in the studio. I also love the fact that, when all the frequencies come together with the right balance at FOH, I can be confident that what I’m hearing is the same throughout the venue.”

The video-heavy design used more than 400 sq m of the new Absen PL Lite V10 3.9mm outdoor screen, which again utilised NovaStar 4K processing consisting of H9 and CVT4Ks, as well as a Barco E2.

The DAGE Beam 380 was the workhorse fixture on the lighting rig – complemented by Robe Spiider Washes and TETRA2s, as well as Martin ERA 600 Performances, MAC Viper Profiles and MAC Viper Performances, with two MA Lighting grandMA2 Full Size consoles providing the control solution.

Looking back on the project, Video HOD, Edgar Pulido was proud of what was achieved in a tight timeframe. “At first it seemed like an impossible task, but our Managing Director, Edwin Cheeran, had full faith in us, and we were proud to accept the challenge,” he concluded.

Photo: SLS Production Equipment www.slspro.net

REGIONAL ROUND-UP 18 ME
www.slspro.net +971 4 355 0300 info@slspro.net OVER 25 YEARS OF CREATING EXCELLENCE

COKE STUDIO LIVE

FLAIR EVENT SERVICES PROVIDES CREATIVE AND TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS FOR THE POPULAR TV SERIES’ FIRST EVER LIVE PERFORMANCE IN DUBAI.

With 76 episodes across 14 seasons since it began in 2008, Coke Studio is the most successful and longest running annual TV music show in Pakistan. Combining myriad musical influences from traditional Sufi and bhangra to contemporary hip-hop, rock and pop, the show is a Pakistani institution and a hit throughout the Indian subcontinent, with its songs amassing more than 4 billion YouTube views. So, when the first ever Coke Studio Live concert was announced for Dubai’s Coca-Cola Arena, the levels of anticipation were through the roof.

Tasked with delivering a show that would live up to the hype, Coke Studio and Giraffe Marketing Pakistan engaged Flair Event Services to provide a full turnkey solution, including all technical requirement as well as creative direction. “We have grown up listening to Coke Studio and their renditions of songs. It’s fair to say that this was a passion project for the Flair team,” Sameer Rahman, Managing Director, told TPMEA. “We were thrilled to be involved as an AV supplier. However, as the relationship with

their production team evolved, we became more involved on the creative direction side for the look and feel of each song.”

The design process began with a brief from the Coke Studio team detailing their desired aesthetic. “They came to us with a basic design of how they wanted the show to look, and we took that idea and transformed it into something that is technically possible and would fit into the scope of an arena stage,” explained Marno Snyman, Technical Director. “The show design was a little bit different to usual. We experimented with different elements to create a spectacular show that would look pretty from every viewpoint inside the arena.”

Snyman revealed that with every design he works on, he asks himself several questions. “Does it have a ‘wow’ factor? Is it something I can look back on and be proud of? Is it in budget? Is it interesting enough for people to enjoy and share?,” he posed. “If we find a design boring, the chances are, most of the audience are going to find it boring as well.” Sure enough, Snyman

and Rahman worked with the Coke Studio team to produce an elaborate stage design featuring multiple trusses adorned with Robe Spiiders, LEDBeam150s and MegaPointes, as well as Martin MAC Vipers, Claypaky Stormy CCs, EK ORB 300s and Acme BL-200 Blinders.

“Some people decide on certain fixtures because they’re very good at certain effects. However, the approach I like to take is to design a rig around the fixtures that give us the most flexibility,” noted Snyman. “Look at the Robe MegaPointe, for example. It’s a fixture of unparalleled creativity. It can be used for spot, wash, beam, aerial effects – you can do whatever you want with it. Fixtures of a hybrid nature enable you to create more magical scenery, because they bring more flexibility to create.”

The lighting was combined with a total of 178.5m of P3 LED, which was split into several thin strips running above the stage and either side and ran content using four NovaStar MCTRL4K controllers, a Barco S3 processor and two ImagePRO-4K switchers, as well as

REGIONAL ROUND-UP 20 ME

four Analog Way fibre optic extenders and two Resolume Arena media servers.

“We looked at the storytelling behind each song as well as the concert as a whole and programmed everything to tell a story leading up to the finale,” Snyman said, explaining the programming process.

“It was absolutely crucial to understand what each track means to the artist and audience and making our looks and the content match that. The whole team was incredibly helpful with this. The guys from Coke Studio were amazing, taking the time out to help us define what they wanted, the colours that were important and how to keep true to their music.”

Syncronorm Depence² was vital in allowing the Flair team to present the design to the client for feedback. “It allowed us to put together a photorealistic previsualisation and showcase the effects to a high level of detail with dynamic artists moving off stage,” Rahman said of the software.

With 16 songs in total and half of them being completely programmed to timecode, Lighting Programme Lead, Rosario Tiyago Lobo had his fair share of late night in the weeks preceding

the show. “We wanted to do something really extraordinary for each song, so I spent a lot of time listening, getting to know the feel of each track and visualising how I wanted the lighting to look,” he revealed. “The average five-minute track had 300-plus queues, so each song was a fairly major piece of work.” The remaining eight songs were busked live, with Lobo operating an MA Lighting grandMA3 in MA2 mode, which also controlled the special effects and pyro. “This project was very special to me,” he reflected. “I got into lighting through my love of music, and Coke Studio has been a big part of my life ever since I used to play their songs as a session bassist in bars.”

Rahman was delighted with the Lighting Programming Lead’s work on the project. “I’ve not seen anyone who can programme an MA3 desk with the kind of speed and efficiency that he demonstrated,” he praised.

While the venue’s in-house PA was utilised, Flair supplied a DiGiCo SD7 at FOH and an SD10 at monitor world, as well as stage monitors in the form of d&b audiotechnik M4, Y8, Y12 and Y-SUBSs, and an extensive Sennheiser IEM system. The Flair team comprised: Sameer Rahman, Managing

Director/Creative Director Lighting; Abizar Arsiwala, General Manager/Audio Head; Marno Snyman, Technical Director; Cibin Cherian, Project Coordinator; Abhishek and Rakshanda Rajesh Kale, Stage Managers; Eris Halilaga, Video HOD; Jetheth John, Senior Audio; Theo Theophileo, Audio Operations Lead; and Rosario Tiyago Lobo, Lighting Programming Lead.

“We showcased what sets Flair apart from the competition on this show,” concluded Rahman, noting his appreciation for the Giraffe Marketing Pakistan team, including: Muhammad Ibrahim, Co-Founder and CEO; Zulfiqar J. Khan, Co-Founder, Chief Creative Officer and Producer; Sultan Raja, Head of Experience Design; and Sherry Khattak, Creative Manager and Head of Audio. “This is the next evolution of what we’ve been gearing towards. It’s projects like this that make our investments in pre-visualisation suites and developing a core team who aren’t just engineers, but also add that creative element all worth it.

Photos: Flair Event Services www.cokestudio.com.pk www.giraffe.com.pk www.flair.ae

REGIONAL ROUND-UP 21 ME

TECS BOOSTS AUTOMATION AND TRUSS INVENTORY

THE COMPANY ADDS A RANGE OF STATE-OF-THE-ART EQUIPMENT TO HELP FACILITATE ITS PUSH INTO KSA.

TECS Event Services has invested in a variety of automation technology and increased its stock of truss.

The rigging and automation specialist has taken delivery of a Movecat I-MOTION-SYSTEM EXPERT-T III console, an I-MOTION-SYSTEM NMB-14 network master distribution box, two Alfa System SKY-1 winches, as well as 20 Movecat ECOlite 320-4 DC chain hoists.

“T he automation and performer flying winch purchases increase our inventory and capacity to facilitate the ever-growing needs and technical aspects of events regionally,” stated Shane Manning, Managing Director, TECS. “Many events are now wanting that proverbial third dimension, which quite often requires automation.”

Manning sees the investment as ideal to service the demand for variable speed hoists and trolleys, as well as automated LED walls, integrated product reveals, and performers tracking up and down or on and off stage. “We’ve been in talks with some aerialist performers and we’re working collectively to give them safe and affordable solutions outside of the few venues that have winch systems installed,” he added.

Expanding on the reasons for purchasing the smaller hoists, Manning noted the very light weight – “a hoist with 18m of chain is only 20kg, so for venues that have a low rigging point capacity, this is ideal,” he said. “Secondly,

the motor body is small, so in venues where large quantities of space and point loads aren’t available, this motor is an amazing solution,” he furthered, pointing to scenic decor installs in the likes of Mall of The Emirates, Dubai Mall, and Galleria Mall as perfect examples of the hoists’ potential use.

The company also added two full 40ft containers of Interal P50 and S31 truss, plus an 8m circle (40 box) – all powder coated black. “These are needed on most projects, and as we continue to grow and push into KSA, we must ensure we don’t run short across multiple projects running concurrently,” Manning explained. “In the constant battle to ensure projects don’t become cost prohibitive to the client, with all the logistics and border fee charges, we will be holding stock in KSA,” he revealed, adding that there was also the possibility of dry-hiring to other companies.

The investments come at a time of growth and development for TECS and, while Manning is undoubtedly pleased with the company’s new stock, he is under no illusions as to what his key asset is: the staff. “We have been investing in them, too,” he noted. “We’ve taken on more riggers, more crew and some L3 IRATA rope access specialists. Some members of the team have been working on getting their driving licence, and all of our team (even the warehouse

crew) are IPAF trained and certified. All the crew are minimum L1 IRATA trained and certified.”

The Managing Director concluded by stressing the importance of safety. “As we were one of the first in the region to purchase, implement and integrate Broadweigh load cells into our inventory and projects, Broadweigh has now made us the regional distributor for its products,” he shared. “Having load cells being used across the board within our industry is amazing. If we can be part of helping make any event even 1% safer, then this is a good thing.”

Photo: TECS Event Services www.tecs-me.com

PROCOM TO DISTRIBUTE AYRTON

THE AGREEMENT INCLUDES MARKETING, SALES AND TECHNICAL SUPPORT THROUGHOUT THE GCC.

Ayrton and Procom Middle East have entered into a distribution agreement for the GCC. Procom will take the responsibility for the marketing, sales, technical support, and development for the Ayrton product catalogue in the GCC, including UAE and Saudi Arabia.

“A s the region welcomes increasingly high-profile lighting shows, the demand for performance luminaires at the cutting edge of technology is increasing, and hence the demand for Ayrton products,” stated Rami Harfouch, Business Development Manager at Procom. “Ayrton and Procom complement each other in the region, bringing together product recognition and local service and support.” As part of the

agreement, Procom will offer an extensive demo experience at its Dubai showroom.

“We are excited to welcome Procom as our new distributor and to see the brand growing further in the future”, commented Michael Althaus, Global Sales Director of Ayrton. “Appointing a distributor is never easy, but Procom ticks all the boxes. Their passion for distribution and stage lighting is second to none and hard to find elsewhere in the region.”

Ayrton products can be seen on demo and purchased from Procom now.

Photo: Procom Middle East www.procom-me.com www.ayrton.eu

REGIONAL ROUND-UP 22 ME
Ayrton and Procom Middle East teams.

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IDENTITY

Protec has refreshed its brand with a new logo, richer brand colours, and a fresh new userfriendly website.

The rebrand is the culmination of almost two years of reflection, research and carefully thought-out changes in structure, management, and processes driven by the evolving needs of its clients. This new brand extends across the entire group with the UK branch also getting on board with the new brand identity.

“We wanted to create a brand that expresses our clean sense of aesthetics, showcases our commitment to quality, and instils confidence in our clients that we ‘get it’,” stated Marketing Manager, Eimear O’Brien. “Our detail-oriented approach has not changed. We have built a great reputation for consistency and reliability, particularly on high-profile events, and our obsession with that perfection remains true. We

wanted to modernise and refresh our image to reflect our vision for the future and the positive operational changes we have introduced.”

She added: “I firmly believe in a clientcentred approach, and I let the clients’ journey, pain points, and feedback guide the process. We wanted a tagline to communicate how we put our clients front and centre, listen carefully to their briefs, and offer inspiring solutions based on our knowledge and experience. We feel ‘Your vision, our expertise’ communicates that.”

Behind the scenes, Protec’s Middle East team of 70 has been optimising its processes and procedures including the introduction of new SOPs and resource planning and rental software. In April they had their ISO 9001:2015, ISO 14001:2015 and ISO 45001:2018 accreditation inspected and reissued, affirming their ongoing commitment to quality, safety, and minimising

environmental impact. There have also been new additions to the organisation including a new General Manager, Matt Allen.

“Protec has 96,000 sq ft of warehouse space stocking an incredible inventory of industry preferred kit, allowing us to deliver major events self-sufficiently without relying on market supply,” Allen commented. “Particularly now, in a time with massive supply chain issues and kit shortages, Protec is in a great position to meet our clients’ needs at short notice.”

The GM added: “I have every confidence in my team and what we have to offer. We have plans to build on our existing operation in KSA, and we hope to have a team on the ground soon. We have put huge effort into making real changes and I look forward to seeing them pay off.”

Photos: Protec www.protecevents.com

REGIONAL ROUND-UP 26 ME
NEW BRAND
THE COMPANY LAUNCHES A BRAND REFRESH, MAKING SIGNIFICANT CHANGES TO ITS OPERATIONS TO BETTER REFLECT CLIENTS’ EVOLVING NEEDS.
PROTEC RESTRUCTURES WITH
Protec’s Matt Allen and Eimear O’Brien. Facing page: ROE Visual’s Khalid Sweidan.

ROE VISUAL FOCUSES ON MEA MARKET

THE COMPANY APPOINTS KHALID SWEIDAN AS VICE PRESIDENT OF SALES IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA.

ROE Visual has appointed Khalid Sweidan as Vice President of Sales in the Middle East and Africa region.

Based in Dubai, Sweidan will focus on overseeing revenue growth in the MEA countries.

The new VP of Sales brings more than 20 years of sales leadership experience in the MEA region with several multinationals including Sony, Barco, and FOR-A.

“With the massive growth in high-end video display solutions in the Middle East, now is the right time to have a formal presence in the region

to be close to our customers and to be able to cater to their service requirements,” Sweidan said.

Grace Kuo, Sales Director at ROE Visual, added: “We are thrilled to welcome Khalid to the team. ROE Visual considers top-notch service and customer support integral to a sustainable development plan. We look forward to building solid and long-term partnerships with our MEAbased customers, and we’re confident that Khalid will be a vital part of this process.”

Photo: ROE Visual www.roevisual.com

MATRIX LASER ADDS SPARKLE TO EGYPTIAN SUPER CUP

THE COMPANY PROVIDES SFX AND LASERS AT AL AIN’S HAZZA BIN ZAYED STADIUM.

Matrix Lazer, working in conjunction with agency E-Volution Abu Dhabi, has provded special effects and lasers for the final of the Egyptian Super Cup.

Taking place in Al Ain’s Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium on 28 October, the match saw a packed stadium enthralled by Matrix Laser’s Sparkular units and Galaxis G-Flames. As Al Ahly Club

were crowned champions over Zamalek, Confetti Blasters were deployed to support the victory and mark the awards ceremony.

The celebrations culminated with a performance by Egyptian superstar, Ahmed Saad, who was roared on by the crowd, with Matrix Laser adding a signature laser show using 30 Watt Units.

Photo: Matrix Laser www.matrix-laser.com

REGIONAL ROUND-UP 27 ME

DU FANZONE BY MCGETTIGAN’S

SOLAS PROVIDES A TURNKEY SOLUTION FOR ONE OF THE LARGEST OUTDOOR FIFA WORLD CUP FAN ZONES IN DUBAI AT MEDIA CITY AMPHITHEATRE.

While Qatar is earning plaudits as host nation of the FIFA World Cup 2022, it’s no secret that football fever has very much spread into the UAE, with many visiting supporting choosing to base themselves in Dubai for the duration of the tournament. To cater to those fans, as well as the city’s football-mad residents, McGettigan’s created one of Dubai’s largest outdoor fan zones at Media City Amphitheatre. With football activities, a live DJ, and a Christmas-themed Winterfest area to keep fans entertained between matches, the fan zone has already proved a popular spot to take in all the World Cup action.

With large attendances expected, McGettigan’s required a technical setup that would live up to the hype, so it called upon its long-time technical partner, Solas, to provide a turnkey solution including audio, lighting and one of the largest LED screens in any outdoor fan zone in Dubai. “The project came as a result

of a long-standing relationship working with McGettigan’s across their popular venues in Dubai,” said Solas General Manager, Eoin Sheridan. “Typically, we would provide audio and lighting equipment to deliver their busy entertainment schedule in JLT and Madinat Jumeirah – whether it is a live band or a themed night – so this was a no-brainer for both parties.”

Once the project was confirmed, Solas’ Regie Lendio created renders of the space to showcase the idea in 3D. “The design stage is always an exciting part of any project, as it allows you to see the full project come to life on your screen and share it with the rest of the team, and in this case the McGettigan’s team,” Sheridan shared. “Immediately, we knew this project was going to be a significant one considering it is a first of its kind for us in terms of the size of the screen.”

The giant main screen in question is made up of 200 sq m of Lightlink 4.8mm Outdoor LED, with a further 110 sq m of 3.9mm Lightlink

Outdoor LED used to cover the other areas of the fan zone, ensuring that none of the on-pitch action is missed.

The main system is controlled by a Barco S3 system, with a hardware package from title sponsor du utilised to implement a full 4k system onsite. “By using Bluestream to distribute to the VIP Boxes and other areas of the fan zone, this gives the guests the ability to choose which match they would like to watch in private boxes and VIP areas,” Sheridan added.

With the screen weighing in at just under eight tonnes, the Solas team knew it would be a challenge to install. “Luckily for us, the team at McGettigan’s chose All Event Services, who made this process as easy as possible,” Sheridan recalled. “Andy, Jaques and the team at AES delivered a custom-built structure to support the screen. The AES team began the physical setup on site about 10 days before the launch day and we joined onsite from six days out. The setup

REGIONAL ROUND-UP 28 ME
INNOVATIVE EVENT TECHNOLOGY info@solas.ae FAB Properties, Building WD, Warehouse no. 2 & 1 -Dubai Investment Park, Dubai, United Arab Emirates www.solas.ae +971 4 328 2247

will also be in place for several weeks, which also added an element of uniqueness to the project, which was exciting for the team.”

Another major challenge was the viewing angle of the screen. “Media City Amphitheatre is a perfect venue to host large-scale concerts, but with the screen being the focus of this event, it needed to be front and centre,” Sheridan explained. “The challenge here was ensuring the screen would be visible to everyone, with no trussing or PA blocking anyone’s view. It also needed to be at the right height for people viewing from the front of the stage. We are confident that everyone has a clear view.”

Solas also provided a full L-Acoustics K2 and Kara system to cover the site. “Our head of Audio, Marlon Alcoreza, looked after the system design and integration,” Sheridan revealed. “We have 36 boxes of K2 and 18 boxes of Kara II in total. All the

main system is tuned through our L-Acoustics P1 processor, all controlled on a Yamaha CL5.

The lighting setup was designed by Solas’ Sean Crawley, with over 180 fixtures distributed across the site, including Claypaky Sharpys and Alpha Wash 1200s spread out over six LX trusses on the main stage.

The Solas team working on the project comprised: Account Manager and Project Lead, Eoin Sheridan; Project Managers, Jamie O’Brien and Anand Sivaraj; Video Designer, John Paul Caaya; Audio Designer, Marlin Alcoreza; and Lighting Designer, Sean Crawley.

Speaking on behalf of McGettigan’s, Dennis McGettigan shared his experience of working with Solas. “It has been an absolute pleasure to work with the team from Solas over the years, and it was an easy decision to ask them to come onboard for our fan zone in Dubai Media City

Amphitheatre,” he stated. “They are quick to understand the brief, and then work closely and positively with my team to create memorable experiences for our customers. The feedback on the du Fanzone has been overwhelmingly positive, and Solas is an important part of creating a fun and vibrant atmosphere that our guests want to return to time and again.”

Sheridan concluded: “The aim for Solas was not just to create an impressive design and functional setup, but to deliver an atmosphere unmatched by any other outdoor fan zone across the UAE and beyond. We wanted to match the epic environment McGettigan’s always portrays using its equipment to create a space for everyone to enjoy sports coverage, live entertainment, and a memorable event.”

Photos: Richard Wade www.solas.ae

REGIONAL ROUND-UP 30 ME
“The feedback on the du Fanzone has been overwhelmingly positive, and Solas is an important part of creating a fun and vibrant atmosphere that our guests want to return to time and again.”
Dennis McGettigan, Managing Director, McGettigan’s

BEWUNDER TAKES OVER MIDDLE EAST AND SYSTEM INTEGRATION FROM N&M

TPMEA CATCHES UP WITH BEWUNDER’S MANAGING DIRECTORS, JENS GIESSLER AND FELIX ERDMANN, TO FIND OUT WHAT THE INDUSTRY CAN EXPECT FROM THE NEW OWNERSHIP.

Jens Gießler and Felix Erdmann have acquired the Middle East and System Integration subsidiaries of Neumann&Müller (N&M), which will now operate as independent companies under the BeWunder brand.

As part of the acquisition, the two business units will be rebranded, with System Integration now known as Spatial Experiences, and Event Technology taking the moniker of Event Production. The development comes at an opportune moment for the Managing Directors, who spent a combined 35 years with N&M before finally deciding the time was right to push their own agenda in the Middle East.

“We are really invested in the Middle East and have a strong belief in the growth potential of the market,” Erdmann told TPMEA. “We have already grown rapidly over the past five years since the company came under our management and this is the continuation of the journey.”

According to Gießler, a key reason for the acquisition is the fact that it gives the BeWunder team the freedom to be agile in the fast-moving

Middle East market. “We understood that the market demands in the Middle East are very different to those in Europe, and we wanted the ability to build an organisation that is 100% specialised for the market we’re operating in,” he explained. “This is a natural progression to make sure our structure and the way we work with clients is perfect for our needs.”

The Managing Directors were keen to stress that the parting of ways between the two companies was conducted in a “very friendly manner”, with the promise of close collaboration not only in the pre-agreed transition phase, but also looking further ahead. “There are certainly no hard feelings,” Erdmann smiled. “In fact, there’s the potential for a lot of joint ventures in the future, with our Spatial Experiences department ideally placed to collaborate with N&M’s live events arm in Europe.”

Gießler added: “It’s the best of both worlds. We still have access to resources and a good relationship with N&M, but we can now be much more flexible in how we organise the company

according to the demands of the market.” For the team now working under the BeWunder umbrella, it’s very much business as usual.

“Everyone who was on the team before the change remains on the team. In fact, they were one of the main motivations behind the deal, because we believe in the quality of the team and think they can lead us to success,” Erdmann said. “The only major change they can expect is that they will have a lot of new colleagues in the near future, as we expect the company to continue to grow rapidly in the Middle East.”

Summing up, Erdmann and Gießler were excited at the prospects for the new venture. “Our strategy doesn’t change – we just have the opportunity to be much faster now,” they concluded. “We will certainly pursue more activity in Saudi Arabia, and we will be much faster to set up a boots-on-the-ground operation in the country as a result of the acquisition.”

Photo: BeWunder www.bewunder.com www.neumannmueller.ae

REGIONAL ROUND-UP 31 ME
Felix Erdmann, Torsten Jacobs, Christoph Rupieper, Thomas Epple, and Jens Gießler.

NEW NAME, SAME TEAM, TWO STRONG UNITS

BeWunder, previously known as Neumann & Müller Middle East is the next phase of our growth!

Carrying the legacy of Neumann&Müller and the foundation we have built in the region with our team & partners, we are excited to work towards the bright future of BeWunder.

BeWunder marks the next stage of our journey, giving us the opportunity to expand our reach and extend services for our current and future partners.

YOUR TURNKEY PARTNER

www.bewunder.com

INSPIRING EXPERIENCES, MEMORABLE MOMENTS

TECH PROFILE 34 ME

GEORGE EZRA

THE BRITISH SINGER-SONGWRITER BRINGS A VERSATILE SHOW DESIGN ON THE UAE, AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND PORTION OF HIS TOUR.

TECH PROFILE 35 ME

Fresh from an extensive UK arena tour in support of his latest album, Gold Rush Kid, George Ezra headed east for the Australia and New Zealand leg of his tour, squeezing in a one-night-only performance at Dubai’s Coca-Cola Arena on the way. Accompanied by a seven-piece band and backed as ever by his loyal touring crew, Ezra put on a typically slick, upbeat performance – much to the delight of the adoring UAE audience, who last saw the artist at his sell-out 2019 show at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

With the touring party spending just over 24 hours in Dubai before heading Down Under, this was the very definition of a flying visit. However, despite the tight turnaround, Production Manager Jake Vernum was only too happy to welcome TPMEA into the production office for a chat ahead of the show. “It’s been a busy year for George with UK festival season followed by an extremely successful UK tour,” began Vernum, who has been equally busy this year, working with Ezra as well as Fatboy Slim,

UK-based Pearce Hire and even finding time to pick up the prestigious Production Manager of the Year award at the TPi Awards 2022. “It’s been a whirlwind,” he laughed.

Like George Ezra’s previous tour in support of his second album, Staying at Tamara’s, this latest touring campaign is centred around the theme of travel. However, that’s where the similarities end, as Vernum explained, the new record is “more about the journey than the destination”.

He added: “The initial brief from George was partly inspired by Bob Dylan’s The Rolling Thunder Revue and was based around traditional theatres. Our Show Designer Cate Carter took a very theatrical approach to the designs, which emphasised the use of set and video rather than lighting. Hence, we toured our mountain facia system in the summer to replicate and compliment the album artwork.”

Describing Carter as “fantastic”, Vernum praised the designer not just for her creativity but also for her ability to create a production that can expand and contract according to the venue. “I

always say to any designer that the show needs to be scalable,” he commented, adding that Ezra himself was also pivotal when it came to the creative. “George is very engaged with the creative side of the tour and everything you see in the show stems from his own or Cate’s vision.”

While the design for the UK run featured the production’s take on a traditional proscenium arch – created by Set Stage using 52cm truss supplied by UK Rigging and adorned with 30 GLP JDC Line fixtures – as well as a giant ROE Visual CB5 video wall, for the Dubai, Australia and New Zealand gigs, the show was condensed into a more tour-friendly package, with a custom backdrop being utilised in place of the arch and video elements. “We are happy with the condensed design,” said Vernum. “It’s a strong foundation for the next leg of the tour and we will bring it with us into some venues in 2023 when we need to.”

In lieu of the natural frame provided by the arch, the production commissioned ShowTex to create a set of three blue StretchVelours drapes.

TECH PROFILE 36 ME
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“We had these made in Europe especially for this leg of the tour and we ship them along with our backline,” Vernum revealed. “They’re a different effect to the arch, of course, but they mask the printed backdrop nicely and create a relatively similar feel while being much easier to transport.”

‘THE FINER DETAILS’

When asked about the challenges of operating in unfamiliar regions, Vernum was philosophical. “We’re quite flexible if certain substitutions need to be made. As long as we’re getting kit that we’re happy to use, it’s fine – we need the

show to work for everyone,” he shared. “I enjoy working in this part of the world. The UK tour had its challenges, but this is a challenge in many different ways.”

The PM went on to explain that while there were fewer moving parts and a much smaller touring party to take care of on this leg of the tour – 18 people instead of 65 on the UK run –the most challenging aspect was the added level of detail required in advancing shows in different regions. “I spend a lot of time advancing these shows and I spec them differently and with a lot more detail,” he revealed. “There are a lot of finer

details that we carry within our own systems such as timecode lines and subs for the band, which we don’t need to think of when we’re touring everything. However, because we’re working with different local kit every show, the detail must be there to make sure that all these nuances are taken care of. It’s no use rocking up on show day and asking for a timecode line to be put in, as it adds time and cost.”

The tour’s supplier of choice for the Dubai show was MediaPro International, which provided an extensive equipment package including lighting, audio control, cameras, trussing and

TECH PROFILE 38 ME
The UK run featured the production’s take on a traditional proscenium arch – created by Set Stage and adorned with 30 GLP JDC Line fixtures. Photo: Luke Dyson.
“I enjoy working in this part of the world. The UK tour had its challenges, but this is a challenge in many different ways.”
Jake Vernum, Production Manager

rigging, as well as an assortment of backline, with the production utilising in-house PA and IMAG screens. “We do quite a lot of work inside Coca-Cola Arena and it’s an easy venue to loadin,” opened MediaPro’s PM, Jordan Gomes. “The in-house team is used to the way we work and they know they don’t need to hold our hands throughout the process because we use our standard procedures and processes.”

Describing the touring party as “a pleasure to work with”, Gomes was very pleased with the overall delivery. “It was a one-day build inside the arena and it went very smoothly without any hiccups,” he told TPMEA. “We did a lot of prep in the warehouse. All the split boxes on stage were marked, the in-ears were prepped, and the desks were patched, so it was as close to plug-andplay as possible,” he added. “That makes it a lot easier when you get on site. It means you’re not working long hours at the venue.”

The nearest thing to a challenge Gomes could pinpoint was the fact that the tour’s custom-made drapes were brand new, so it took some time to get them hung as desired. “The drapes were fresh out of the bag, so they took a little adjustment,” he recalled, stressing the need for speed when it comes to load-out. “We’re

here on standby in case of any issues throughout the show,” he said. “And we will spring back into action on the out. My priority is to make space so they can load out everything they need quickly.”

Unusual Rigging & Engineering supplied the house rigging for the George Ezra concert. Unusual is the contracted house rigger for the Coca-Cola Arena and the company recently renewed its contract with the venue. For the George Ezra gig, they worked with MediaPro, installing all the rigging points for the show, allowing the client to come in with their chain hoists and connect everything. The team of Unusual riggers remained on site until the rig was at working height.

‘LIVELY FOR A POP SET’

The lighting rig for the Dubai show included Robe BMFL Blades, Spiiders and Mega Pointes, along with GLP JDC1s, TMB Solaris Flare Q+, Kupo fourway Molefays, Film Gear 2Kw Tungsten Fresnels, LSC Redback Dimmers, and LED battens. Control came from an MA Lighting grandMA3 full size console, with a grandMA2 light as backup.

“All the lighting elements are the same as the European run, apart from a slight scaling down,” Vernum confirmed, describing the setup.

Lighting Director, Chris Taylor was pleased with the level of fixtures available – as well as the cooperation with MediaPro.

“T his is the first time I’ve worked in Dubai, but it’s been a great experience,” he commented. “When you’re using multipart fixtures such as JDC1s and Solaris Flares, it becomes very important to get the right kit, as substitutions can really affect the look and feel of the show.”

According to Taylor, the biggest challenge on this leg of the tour is adapting from a show design that incorporated a large central LED screen to one based around two backdrops. “We’ve gone from a content-based show to having a choice of two backdrops – the mountain backdrop displays whenever George plays his new album, and we have a gauze around 1m in front that comes into play whenever he moves into older material,” he described. “We’re seeing it for the first time here, so it’s been a learning experience getting the right distance between the screen and the gauze.”

Aside from rigging the gauze and backdrop correctly, the tweaked stage design brought with it the opportunity for lighting to take more of a central role in the show. “The UK arena show was designed in such a way that any beam work was

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kept well away from the giant LED screen, but with that gone for this leg, we’ve now got a big hole where the screen was, which needs to be filled by the lighting,” he explained. “It’s been a fair bit of extra work, but we will use something along these lines for our B system next year,” he added, keen to stress the importance of planning for the future.

In terms of personal design highlights, Taylor pointed to the “nice beamy magenta and cyan vibe” achieved during Paradise, as well as a sequence in the middle of the show that transitions between Saviour and Did You Hear the Rain?. “Saviour is a red number, which we’ve made quite toned down and floor based, then we go into Did You Hear the Rain?, which is essentially a heavy rock song – it’s pretty lively for a pop set,” he noted.

“I ’ve been working with George for a long time and the band have reworked a lot of the slower numbers where previously some members of the audience who aren’t mega-fans may have lost engagement slightly,” he added. “It’s certainly not a show where you would sit on your hands and watch politely.”

While the LD was excited to head to Australia and New Zealand, he concluded by sharing his wish to return to the region at some point in the future. “It’s a shame we’re not hanging around a big longer as I would have loved to see some

more of Dubai, but there’s so much going on over here, I’m sure we’ll be back soon,” he said.

‘THE CRUNCH OF AN SPX990’

After guiding Ezra and his band through an extensive soundcheck, FOH Engineer, Mike Timm was next to chat to TPMEA, stepping out from behind a DiGiCo Quantum 338 to offer his take on the tour so far. “The UK leg was fantastic – it gets better and better as time passes,” he beamed. “It feels like the audience has grown and matured with George over the years, which is nice to see.”

St anding at FOH and gazing upwards at the vast swathes of seats inside Dubai’s Coca-Cola Arena, Timm laughed as he compared this venue to the last date on the UK tour in his hometown of Sheffield at the Utilita Arena – which is used to stage ice hockey matches most weekends. “I always forget when we play Sheffield that the ice is still under the floor, so you need to wear two pairs of socks… It’s certainly a bit different today!”

And the pleasant Dubai temperature was far from the only difference for Timm, who has become accustomed to touring with a large arsenal of outboard gear, which has evolved over the seven years he’s been with the George Ezra party. “I use analogue and UAD plug-ins to add some character and depth,” he revealed. However, with weight and cost in mind, Timm

opted to run a more compact setup using LiveProfessor and Waves – and he will switch to a DiGiCo SD12 for the Australia and New Zealand leg, which will be trucked from show to show.

“If I was starting this gig today, I could do 90% of what I want within the Quantum 338,” he admitted, adding that he still carried his “trusty” two Yamaha SPX990 and one SPX2000 for this show. “They give so much character. I grew up with analogue consoles, so the crunch of an SPX990 on the snare is something I can’t get out of anything else. It’s nice to have them.”

Timm has been a DiGiCo fan ever since “the early days touring with George when we would just use whatever the house consoles were. The DiGiCos always stood out,” he recalled. “By the campaign for his second album in 2017, I got to carry my own console; the monitor engineer at the time was a DiGiCo guy as well and we decided to share a rack to make things easier – and I fell in love with it from there. I love the workflow and how flexible they are.”

The FOH Engineer’s setup includes “quite a lot of automation in the mix – little things like mutes that mean I don’t have to think about it live, so that come showtime, I’m concentrating on listening and sitting the vocal bang on.”

Photos: Ob Panakal, Luke Dyson www.georgeezra.com www.mediaproav.com

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GULF

CREWING COMPANY The Middle East’s premier local crew supplier GCC Events LLC Office 1103 Mezz Floor Al Habtoor Building Al Quoz 1 Sheikh Zayed Road P.O. Box 27349 Dubai UAE Telephone: +971 4 339 5009 Email:
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GLOBAL CITIZEN FESTIVAL ACCRA

THE FAMOUS FESTIVAL TRAVELS TO GHANA FOR THE FIRST TIME, HOSTING A SPECTACULAR SHOW IN ACCRA’S BLACK STAR SQUARE AS PART OF ITS CAMPAIGN TO END EXTREME POVERTY. TPMEA FINDS OUT MORE…

Since it began lighting up Central Park’s Great Lawn in 2012, Global Citizen Festival has become the world’s longest-running global campaign calling for an end to extreme poverty that unites millions of voices, amplified by some of the world’s biggest artists, demanding world leaders take immediate action. To celebrate its 10th anniversary, the iconic festival once again put on two stages in international cultural capitals of New York City and Accra, Ghana, with both shows broadcast and streamed live across the globe.

While the New York production is an everpresent fixture on the Global Citizen calendar, this year was the first time the charity had taken its famous festival to Ghana, with the likes of Usher, SZA, Stormzy, Gyakie, H.E.R., Sarkodie, Stonebwoy and TEMS performing to a delighted crowd in Accra’s iconic Black Star Square.

With 2022 marking the 65th anniversary of the country’s independence as well as two decades of the African Union, for Simon Moss, Co-Founder of Global Citizen, it was the perfect time to bring the show to Accra.

“O ver the past 10 years, we’ve witnessed a massive surge in Afro Beats as a musical genre coming into the mainstream, with old barriers increasingly being broken down,” he began, referencing the evolution from the Don’t They Know It’s Christmas generational understanding of Africa he grew up with to the modern-day representations such as Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which paint the continent in an altogether stronger, more powerful light.

“We wanted to seize upon this moment of cultural excellence and provide a platform for the

incredible achievements and work being done throughout the continent to come to the fore.”

Moss and his team had been looking to take Global Citizen to Ghana since the historic Mandela 100 show in Johannesburg in 2018. “Early in 2019, we ran a series of trips to Africa and met with several senior officials, governments and businesses,” he recalled.

“One of those trips was to Ghana. We were already in touch with the President, Nana AkufoAddo, after he’d spoken at our event in New York, and he was extremely positive on the prospect of having a Global Citizen event in his country.”

Of course, the timeline took a hit as events all over the world fell victim to the effects of COVID-19. However, as the fog of the pandemic began to lift, discussions were restarted and planning for the first Global Citizen in Accra began in earnest.

“It was a long time in the making, but what was clear when we spoke to the Ghanaian government is that they want to be facilitators of this because they recognise its importance,” Moss shared. “During the pandemic, everyone became much more conscious of the interconnected nature of our world. However, now things are getting back to normal, we risk forgetting that the world is on our doorstep and that we are on the world’s doorstep.”

He continued: “One of the reasons we were so keen for someone like Stormzy to perform is because the future of Ghana and the rest of the world are all intertwined. Rather than simply telling people that, we wanted to show it through the forms of culture that matter. I’ve always thought

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of Stormzy as a born-and-bred Londoner, but he’s very strong about claiming his ancestry and recognising his Ghanaian roots. It was a homecoming and very meaningful not just for the crowd but also for him.”

‘IN THE MAELSTROM OF SHOWTIME’

With this year marking a decade of Global Citizen shows taking place in New York’s Central Park, the goal for the Accra production was to create a spectacle that would live up to the quality of its US counterpart.

“It was vital that the two events could stand together as sister productions of comparable size, scale, and quality,” explained Global Citizen’s Vice President of International Projects, Martin Forsyth. “Critical to our brief was this idea of highlighting the currency of African cultural excellence, so it was only natural that we wanted to produce something that would reflect that.”

With this goal in mind, Global Citizen assembled a crack team, including Done+Dusted, which was responsible for the broadcast as well as taking a general overview of the event; Nine Yards Productions’ Tony Wheeler, whose

remit extended to site design, specification and procurement of local and UK services, construction scheduling, and on-site production management; and STUFISH Entertainment Architects, which designed both the New York and Accra productions.

Ray Winkler, CEO and Design Director, headed up the Accra project for STUFISH, and he told TPMEA about how he “fell in love with the place and the people”. He recalled: “It was an amazing project to work on. We’ve worked with Global Citizen on quite a few of their shows, including in South Africa in 2018. It’s a privilege to be involved with such a worthy cause.”

Winkler explained how he, along with several other members of the production team, including Nine Yards’ Tony Wheeler, went on a recce to Accra back in July.

“T he task was to look at what was available locally and make an assessment as to how much of that we could use,” he said. “What became clear was that while there is a very active creative community and there was some scope to source certain elements in country, for a technically complex show like we were aiming to produce,

it was going to be necessary to bring some key elements of the production from abroad.”

Yet, while there was a shortfall of equipment, that couldn’t have been further from the truth when it came to local talent, as Forsyth explained. “One of our goals was to make sure that we created as much opportunity as possible for some of the incredible production talent that exists locally,” he stated. “We wanted to get that blend of local, regional, and international talent and make sure they could all work well together.”

One of the biggest question marks in the early stages of show planning revolved around the type of roof structure that would be utilised. “There were various options and STUFISH diligently went into each that were available,” Winkler revealed, stating that the final choice came down to either an arched roof or a more conventional, squared-off festival roof.

“We originally based our design on the arched roof as creatively and conceptually, the shape ties in much more with the iconic red circle of Global Citizen. However, the arch proved to be very difficult logistically, which led us towards having the festival roof,” Winkler

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Robe Forte grandMA3 Series Elation Maximus Elation Lucius Ayrton Domino Ayrton Perseo SGM Q8 SGM P6 Martin MAC Ultra Wash Martin MAC Ultra Performance K3 /

revealed. “We’ve worked a lot with these kinds of structures, and we know enough about how directors shoot these sorts of events and how live performances happen within the television environment to make them work.”

Regardless of the shape of the roof, Winkler explained that the most important factor in the stage design was identifying that it was not just about creating a scenery that would define Global Citizen; it was about creating a setting that would define its iconic location in Accra’s Black Star Square. “It’s a similar concept to the Global Citizen show in Paris using the Eiffel Tower as a backdrop [TPi #266],” he reasoned. “The beauty of the site in Accra was the fact that we were right in front of the national monument, which is a hugely symbolic and emotional place for the people of Ghana – and extremely photogenic to shoot.”

Forsyth echoed this view on the location. “Black Star Square is where Ghanaian independence was won and it’s a location that carries a strong narrative and message not just in Ghana but across the whole of Africa. It embodies

the idea of independence and freedom,” he commented. “We wanted to make sure that we lived up to the location and the iconography behind it and that we showcased the architecture, which is a symbol for freedom and justice.”

Determined not to distract from this amazing setting, the STUFISH team kept the stage design clean and simple, using a clear skin at the back of stage to allow the illuminated Independence Arch to serve as the ultimate backdrop and became a hero image for the show. “Lighting Designer, Eugene O’Connor did an incredible job with making sure the arch was beautifully lit,” Winkler praised. “It really popped throughout the evening.”

Winkler also singled out visual content specialist Hello Charlie for its “beautiful graphics” that were required to wrap the stage in the iconic Global Citizen look, as well as its work on incorporating the famous black star of Ghana into the Global Citizen logo.

Sustainability was high on the agenda and, according to Winkler, creating an event that is as eco-friendly as possible can come in different

guises. “It can come in the choice of materials used, but it can also come in terms of the logistics of that material. You might have a very sustainable product, but if it is shipped from somewhere far away, it doesn’t make sense,” he proffered. “That’s another reason why we wanted to source as much as possible locally. Not only does it save the shipping costs and environmental impact, but it also supports the local economy.”

Like every production, this one had its challenges – which according to Winkler were primarily around the logistics of the live broadcast and the wide variety of artists as well as political figures who took to the stage. “Some artists had massive band setups – Usher, for example, has a big set and had a huge cast that occupies the entire stage, whereas Stormzy had a very minimal setup,” he described. “We needed to create an environment where both of those scenarios would look equally compelling.”

Another balance to be struck was between the in-person audience and the broadcast. “It’s equally important to make sure the physical

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audience is engaged as it is to create something that looks good on camera,” Winkler stated. “If you don’t create a good vibe in the house, there won’t be a good show for the camera to capture. So, the camera needs priority but never at the expense of the live audience.”

Winkler summed up his experience by reiterating the importance of the Global Citizen cause. “Being there and being part of the cause is important – that’s easy to forget while you’re in the maelstrom of showtime and getting things done,” he reflected. “The purpose of the whole thing is to serve a global cause, and raise awareness and money for very worthy causes. To be part of that is the most important thing and makes all the effort worth it.”

‘RELIEF AND ELATION’

“Done+Dusted has a long relationship with Global Citizen and we have done many shows for

them over the years. This year, our role was to run everything to do with the broadcast and take an overview on the event, working with Kojo Poku, Executive Director at Big Ideaz Consult, who we met previously when we looked at doing a show in Accra in 2021,” explained Done + Dusted CEO, Simon Pizey.

“We pulled together some of the best expertise from Ghana and around West Africa to work hand in hand with the foreign crew to deliver a seamless production,” said Poku. “We managed and sourced all local logistics including construction of scenic from Art Direction Ghana, headed by the indefectible Tony Tomety; audio from Rhythms Africa, headed by Frank Kwakye; lighting from Sampson Oppong’s High End Productions; and on-site catering and hospitality by Nana Twumwaa of The Meal Box.”

Big Ideaz Consult supplied all LED screens, rigging and trusses, safety gear, branding and

provided all local support crew for staging, video, and production. All tents and temporary structures were supplied by Premier Events Rentals, which were used for green rooms, production offices and broadcast rooms. The production also worked with Nana Abena Achempong and the team from Let’s Be Seated to create the beautiful and much talked about UVIP area for over 2,000 VIP guests.

“Working on this project with my team was a great experience. It was a valuable opportunity to learn from some of the best in the industry globally and push the standards of our local industry higher,” Poku reflected. “The Global Citizen Festival has raised the bar for local event production in the region and provided an opportunity for transfer of knowledge and technology to the local crew we engaged.”

“We genuinely loved working in Accra. It was our favourite show of the year,” added Done +

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“Working on this project with my team was a great experience. It was a valuable opportunity to learn from some of the best in the industry globally and push the standards of our local industry higher.”
Kojo Poku, Executive Director, Big Ideaz Consult

Dusted Production Manager, Holly Enness. “Of course, there are huge challenges when we are trying to put on a show at a scale that is bigger than anything done there before. The joy came from the willingness of the local crews and their desire to make the show special.

“We used as much local resource as possible, being mindful that A-list music artists are understandably fairly intransigent on their tech riders. I think we got the balance right. The show ran as smoothly as anyone could have hoped for. It was a safe site and the artists loved taking part.”

A host of local, regional, and international suppliers came together to provide the equipment necessary to put on the show. As well as the local suppliers, PRG stepped in to fill any gaps in the lighting rig; Domstruct provided the stage deck; Solotech brought audio control and monitors from the UK; No Nonesense provided the stage roof; Power Logistics handled power distribution; and Ogle Hog took care of video control.

The main PA system comprised inner hangs of 32 Electro-Voice X2 loudspeakers and 30 EV

subs, with eight EV XVLS used for infill as well as outer hangs of 24 dBtechnologies VIO L210, 32 TI MAX 212 and 20 TI SUB. Two Avid VENUE S6L-32D consoles were at FOH.

The monitor setup was made up of 20 Martin Audio LE1500 wedges, four SX218 subs, six T1215 Constant Curvature Array cabinets, six L-Acoustics ARCS IIs, six SB18s, and 10 NEXO PS12s. A Shure PSM1000 IEM system was also in place for several artists. Monitors control came from two DiGiCo SD12s as well as a Midas PRO2.

Two 7m by 4m IMAG screens made of Absen P6 were flown on scrims either side of the stage, with content running on Envision processors through four disguise vx 4 media servers. UKbased Ogle Hog sent a Screen Supervisor, Media Server Operator and a System and Server Engineer to Accra to manage the video delivery.

Lighting Designer, Eugene O’Connor was a familiar face to the Global Citizen team, having worked on the show in Lagos, Nigeria, in 2021. “The Lagos show was amazing, but Accra was on another scale completely,” he told TPMEA after the

event. “A lot of different people and companies came together to make this happen.”

With a brief to light both the stage and the Independence Arch, O’Connor had to incorporate elements of architectural as well as concert lighting into his scope of work.

The workhorse fixture on the stage rig was the Claypaky Mythos 2, joined by Robe BMFL Blades, Martin Viper Profiles, and a catalogue of other moving fixtures, including Jolly Q4 Plus, AL1240WZ Wash Lights, XmLite LM760s, AL 1018WW Static Bars, and AL 1230B Moving Bars.

“I like having lights at different levels and spread all around the stage left and right,” O’Connor revealed. “I was thinking about using towers to get some different levels, but in the end, we decided to keep it clean and do a rake in the overhead trusses to add volume. We also had shelves built behind the set pieces on stage so we could put Vipers at around 3m high.”

By Lighting BY-4396A and BY-4410PW Wall Wash fixtures combined with BY-4360s and Aolait 968 Stormi strobes to light the iconic arch. “There

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were a couple of times during the show when I didn’t light the monument at all and just kept it dark,” O’Conner explained. “If it’s lit all the time, you tend to lose the effect. It looked very cool when combined with the stage.”

As well as praising local lighting supplier Highend Productions for sourcing many of the fixtures, and the “brilliant” PRG, which plugged the gaps in the inventory, O’Connor singled out Sean Burke of Holes in the Dark for special praise. “We had our show very tightly programmed, so it meant once we had everything up and running and focused, it worked very well. That was a lot to do with Sean.”

The LD concluded by sharing his appreciation for the local crew. “There was a real buzz from the local guys,” he reflected. “It was a big show, and it was great to see the smiles once we’d managed to pull it off. Everyone worked so hard. We knew we’d delivered a great show and there was a sense of relief and elation.”

‘A LEAP OF FAITH’

Looking back on the production, Global Citizen Co-Founder, Moss was happy with the achievement. “Our brief was to demonstrate African excellence, display the connection to

history, independence, and the spirit of PanAfricanism, and show people what great stuff is happening on the continent, and I feel we achieved that,” he reflected. “We’re proud of setting a space for all our creative partners, vendors, artists, and friends to be able to express what is authentic and real to them.”

Moss also shared his hope that this show could pave the way for more events of a similar scale in the region. “There’s no doubt that there is an audience in Africa that wants to attend these kinds of shows,” he stated. “The quality of artistic talent is there, as is the quality of crew. What you don’t have yet is some of the equipment in large enough volumes to make touring across Africa viable. If you get the right gear in there, a little bit more capital investment would unleash a whole new wave of events.”

In f act, the production has already helped overcome one hurdle to hosting large-scale events in Ghana, as the stage structure is due to stay in country and has been earmarked for a series of stadium shows with major Afro Beats artists. “It’s proof of concept in terms of being able to build some infrastructure,” Forsyth furthered. “A big part of this was being able to prove that it’s possible to put on shows of this

scale in Ghana, and we played a role in helping everyone who worked on the show to build an experience base. The hope is they will be able to build on that experience as the opportunities continue to grow across the region.”

Moss concluded with a challenge to the industry to continue to stimulate growth throughout the region. “The future of the world is much more African than we realise. Africa’s population is the youngest on the planet and so much of the cultural and economic energy over the next 20 or 30 years will come from the African continent,” he explained.

“What is required now is a leap of faith from the international stakeholders and community to incentivise and encourage people to build more infrastructure. I don’t know if they’d make money in the first year, but I bet they’d be impressed by the culture and the ideas that come out of it –and once that new ground has been broken, the opportunity for growth is massive.”

Photos: Rodney Quarcoo and Jemal Countess for Global Citizen, Eugene O’Connor, STUFISH www.globalcitizen.org www.doneanddusted.com www.stufish.com www.nine-yards.co.uk

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THE LIBERATION OF IZMIR

AN ESTIMATED TWO MILLION PEOPLE PACK THE STREETS OF IZMIR TO CELEBRATE THE 100-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF THE CITY’S BIGGEST PUBLIC HOLIDAY WITH AN ENORMOUS IN-THE-ROUND PRODUCTION BEFITTING THE SPECIAL OCCASION.

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Nestled on Turkey’s Aegean coast, the historic city of Izmir is Turkey’s third largest behind Istanbul and the capital, Ankara. The city celebrates the end of the Greco-Turkish war on 9 September every year, and with 2022 marking the 100th anniversary, the Izmir Municipality wanted to make a major splash.

“T he main goal for the municipality was to create the biggest and most sensational celebration ever made in Turkey,” began Işıl Evgin Gündüz of Imagina Productions, which was entrusted with the ambitious project by AB Kolektif. “This was a goal repeatedly stated by the mayor in his interviews during the process, which created huge levels of expectation not only in Izmir, but all over the country.”

On receiving this extremely bold brief, Imagina put together a team to brainstorm a

concept. “We got together to decide on the elements we wanted to use for this project, with the clear intention that it needed to be something unique in Turkey,” Evgin Gündüz explained, noting that live performers were a key element of the production. “We dug into the history of the city and tried to create a storyline that could both include key moments from history but also put forward the core DNA of Izmir.”

Joining Evgin Gündüz on the brainstorming team was Production Design and Management Director, Sedat Gündüz and Creative Director, Denis Astakhov. For Creative Director Astakhov, the biggest challenge was to dive into modern Turkish history in search of inspiration. “Since I am not a Turk, I needed to immerse myself in local culture, history and national ideas and, of course, the deeper I go, the more interesting it gets,” he

commented. Having worked on several largescale events with the Imagina team, Astakhov is becoming quite the Turkish history buff. “We have this joke with Sedat and Işıl, that I could pass any Turkish history exam there is,” he laughed. “This time, we carefully watched through the history of the events prior to Izmir’s liberation and thought about how we could recreate them in a massive performance utilising all the tools at our disposal.”

With up to two million people expected to attend the celebration, the team opted for an inthe-round production, which had a capacity for the maximum number of spectators possible. “We decided we should push our limits and go with a stage design that has never been used in Turkey,” she said. “We looked to 360° concert stages from around the world for inspiration and combined that with inspiration from the city, which has a

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distinctly Aegean culture that is rooted in the public’s heart.”

Throughout the project, the production team utilised the new CuePoints software, which was developed by TPi Breakthrough Talent Award Winner, Morgan Evans, and industry software designer, Matt Peel. “CuePoints helped us immensely in terms of planning and synchronising the live performances with pyro shots and balancing mapping and real-life footage,” Evgin Gündüz stated, adding that there were several pre-programmed settings throughout the show where screens were switched to live footage.

“We first planned everything in the programme, then ran the show from this planning during rehearsals and perfected it.

“T he show was broadcast live, so the camera angles were immensely important,” she added. “We had a director of photography work with us for the last 15 days, pre-planning all the right angles for the show and entering that data into CuePoints, so, even during rehearsals, we knew

what picture we would be putting out on show day. It made a big difference in terms of the success of the show.”

The ability to previsualise and display an accurate representation of how the project would look to the client was also vital – something for which Syncronorm Depence² came in particularly useful. “We used it so the client could watch the content, hear the music and the voiceover, and see the lights and pyro all in 3D,” Evgin Gündüz recalled, adding that even with these elements, the fact that the show was driven by the performances on stage meant it was difficult to showcase the full effect before rehearsals. “It was a difficult process, but as soon as the client saw the first rehearsal, they were thrilled.”

‘THE MAGIC OF THE SHOW’

The production called upon Giga Solutions to supply the stage structure, with set structures handled by Karizma. The unique stage was a circular design with several thrusts of different

shapes and sizes emanating from the central point. The main focal point was a massive cylinder clad in LED and adorned with hundreds of lighting fixtures, which formed a backdrop for the on-stage performers. The stage was also encircled by six towers, which provided more flown lighting points and were fronted by large, curved LED screens.

“T he design was extremely challenging technically,” said Evgin Gündüz. “A lot of calculations were required to take the concept from drawings to reality, but we achieved it thanks to Sedat’s immense experience and him working together with Production Managers Ibrahim Kandemir and Meriç Dündar, as well as the technical companies and technical production teams.”

EMN supplied 1,200 sq m of AET 3.9mm outdoor LED, with control systems including 16 NovaStar 4K LED processors, four Dataton WATCHOUTPAX60 servers, and an Analog Way Aquilon C+ provided by SK Production. Video

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management that delivers the full package from page-to-stage. Turn your ideas into a reality!
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Işıl Evgin Gündüz, Imagina Productions.

dreamed and

content was produced by Milyway Studios. XRT Studios produced several augmented reality moments for the live broadcast using a Zero Density AR System, with designs by Musa Çakır.

“We knew there would be some budget issues, so we thought we could incorporate AR for some of the things we wanted to include in the project but there was no budget for,” Evgin Gündüz revealed. The AR System Operators were Mert Şahin, Halil Yağlı, Mehmet Sönmez, Aziz Kadıoğlu, Asım Yıldırım, and Kerem Mavi.

Designed and operated by Çetin Türkmenli and Burhan Sezer and provided by Ego Technical, the lighting rig featured Claypaky Mythos 2, Martin MAC Encore Wash CLD and Viper Profile, Robe Robin 800 LED Wash, CHAUVET Professional LED Batten 32, as well as a whole host of ADJ fixtures, including Focus Profile, RX7 Beam, Vizi Beam, Jolt LED Strobe, and HEX 32 IP LED Bar. Control came courtesy of two MA Lighting grandMA3 light consoles, with six MA NPUs. A healthy dose of pyro was added to proceedings, with Galaxis wireless

flame units provided by Efektif Production utilised in Özgür Yörük and Can Oettermann’s pyro design.

The massive audience was covered by an L-Acoustics K-Series PA, supplied by Altın Çizme, featuring 72 K2s and 36 KS28, with delays of 36 K2 and 18 KS28s ensuring maximum throw. A Soundcraft Vi6 console was used for control, with a QLab Station running from a MacBook with Presonus Audio Interface also utilised.

According to Evgin Gündüz, one of the biggest challenges of the project was the fact that it was to take place in the middle of the city in its busiest square. “Of course, there is a huge curious audience and we wanted to keep the magic of the show until show night, so we had to try to control the area and limit our on-site technical rehearsals to the quietest periods,” she commented.

Equally challenging was managing the huge crew – both during the initial phases when the production team was scattered in various locations around the globe, and in the build-up to showtime, when everyone arrived on site. “The

creative and production team on site was around 50 people, the technical teams were more than 200, and we had 180 performers, so you can imagine what it was like backstage!” she laughed.

“Once the two million people showed up to watch the show, it became very challenging to even move around. The cell service didn’t work, so we were thankful for our wireless and corded intercom systems.”

Looking back on the project, Evgin Gündüz couldn’t single out a favourite moment, instead reflecting on “the scenario, the stage, the music, the performances…”, describing them all as “beyond satisfying”.

She concluded: “Everything came together just as we dreamed and worked in perfect harmony. It was absolutely crucial for us to create one big show where no one part outshines the other, and we feel we succeed in that. The reaction from the crowd was amazing.”

Photos: Emre Dörter www.imagina.com.tr

“Everything came together just
we
worked in perfect harmony. It was crucial for us to create one big show where no one part outshines the other, and we feel we succeed in that.”
TECH PROFILE 54 ME

MARK JAN KAR, GENERAL MANAGER, COCA-COLA ARENA

INTERVIEW 55 ME
THE MAN AT THE HEAD OF DUBAI’S LARGEST MULTIPURPOSE VENUE REFLECTS ON A PERIOD OF GROWTH AS UAE RESIDENTS AND TOURISTS RETURN TO COCA-COLA ARENA EN MASSE.

It’s been 18 months since we last spoke to Coca-Cola Arena’s General Manager, Mark Jan Kar, and it’s fair to say that the industry has changed significantly for the better since then. Back in mid-2021, the then newly installed GM told TPMEA – over Zoom, of course – about his plans to reconnect with the industry and lay the foundations for the return of live events following the COVID-19 pandemic. Skip to the present day, and as we’re led through the bowels of the Coca-Cola Arena and up into one of the venue’s plush corporate boxes for our scheduled interview, it certainly feels like everything is back to business as usual.

Since 2021, the Coca-Cola Arena has gone from running at capacities of around 2,500 with socially distanced seating and mandatory mask-wearing, to recently hosting a sold-out show for Curtis ‘50 Cent’ Jackson. “It’s been a long but incredible journey,” Kar reflected. “We’ve delivered 58 live events since the last time we spoke, and we’ve got some phenomenal programmes coming up.”

If there’s one thing that the COVID-19 ordeal taught Kar and his team, it was to be humble. “We learned the importance of working with promoters and organisers both in the corporate and live space to show that the building is dynamic,” he recalled. “We made significant

investments in drapes and seat covers to make the building more adaptable and give it that feeling of being full even at lower capacities. And even though we are now able to operate at full capacity, that principle of flexibility still applies.”

The element of flexibility certainly proved invaluable for the recent 50 Cent show, which sold even better than initially expected. “That is a prime example of a show that all parties and stakeholders thought would be a fantastic event, but initially we projected to operate at a smaller capacity without opening level four of the arena,” Kar recalled.

“However, the beauty of this building is that once we saw how well the tickets were selling, within a matter of minutes, collectively we made the decision to open level four and suddenly we had the potential to welcome another 5,000 people. Without going into details, when an artist agreement has a flip-side of a bigger capacity than originally expected, that’s when people start making some good money.”

Of course, with larger attendances comes bigger operational challenges. However, according to Kar, the Arena’s event management and security teams take it all in their stride. “There are learnings from every show, but overall, they do a fantastic job,” he praised. “A lot of the success is down to them knowing the nuances

of things like how the traffic can be on a Friday night and the effect that stage times can have on audience behaviour and planning accordingly.”

As well as offering additional services, such as utilising its partnerships with the likes of ARN (Arabian Radio Network) to facilitate an extra level of marketing support for incoming events, the arena has also explored ways to better support promoters and “understand where their pain points are”.

Kar explained: “We have done a lot of work with promoters to understand what we can do as a venue to release the pressure on cash flow requirements when it comes to paying artists and other expenses. Finance and legal have come up with a term called ‘irrevocable direction to pay’, which means if promoters go through trusted suppliers, certain bills can be settled directly out of their gross box office, rather than them having to pay upfront.”

‘PLAY IN THE SAME SANDPIT, BUT WITH DIFFERENT TOYS’

Artist availability has always been a challenge in the Middle East, and as other regional markets gain strength, Kar is aware that there’s stiff competition. “We like to think of ourselves as the home of live entertainment in Dubai, but if you look outside of the city, Abu Dhabi is doing

INTERVIEW 56 ME

a phenomenal job in terms of its entertainment positioning in global IPs. Then you’ve got Al Dana Amphitheatre in Bahrain as well as the huge amount of activity going on in Saudi and, of course, the FIFA World Cup in Qatar,” he noted.

“T he challenge we have is about educating clients both from a local and international perspective that Dubai has matured – it has moved on from the days of paying three times over the odds for artists. Some other markets might be able to sustain that model in the short term as they are maturing, but Dubai has reached the point where its events now need to be sustainable and make a positive economic impact into the city.”

The GM used the busy Q4 period as an example of the wealth of events taking place not just in Dubai but across the region. “We have Race to Dubai, DP World Championship and Formula One all in the same weekend, then a couple of weeks after that there’s MDLBEAST Soundstorm in Riyadh, FIFA World Cup in Qatar, as well as Rugby Sevens and National Day in the UAE,” he noted, adding that while those events are going on elsewhere, the Coca-Cola Arena will be hosting the Dubai Fitness Championship.

“T here’s no point in competing with some of those large-scale shows. Instead, we want to show that we’re a pillar of society in the community in Dubai and use the diversity of

the building to offer alternatives. There’s room for everybody. It’s just about identifying and not competing in the same space. You can play in the same sandpit, but with different toys.”

Speaking of flexibility, Kar pointed to the wide variety of content that has found a home at Coca-Cola Arena as one of his team’s biggest successes. “The fact that we’ve got multiple genres of content coming through the building is incredibly satisfying,” he pinpointed.

“A side from the Western acts, we’ve done incredibly well in Khaleeji music, with the likes of Abdul Majeed, Rashed Al-Majed and Assala all selling extremely well. The Coca-Cola Arena is a touchpoint for the local community and the venue is now a well-known brand in Dubai.”

Technology continues to be vital to the success of shows within the venue, and Kar praised Coca-Cola Arena’s Director of Technical and Production, Malcolm Giles, whose leadership he described as “vital”. He added: “Malcolm and his team are a big reason why the building has been successful in being able to churn out as many activities as it does.”

He added that while he would never want to go into direct competition with rental houses, if an opportunity arises for the business to purchase some equipment that could be supplied in-house, it’s something the management team would consider. “We have

had full analysis on where our promoters are spending their money on kit, and if we feel there’s an opportunity for investment, we would be foolish to ignore it,” he said.

Looking to the future, Kar explained that the immediate plan is simply “to see out a very strong season”. He commented: “We are undertaking a large series of family content – something we haven’t explored to its full potential yet.” Part of that series of family content is the recently announced Cirque du Soleil, which is taking over the Coca-Cola Arena from 12-18 January, putting on multiple shows of its new production, Ovo. “It’s the first run of multiple shows per day we’ve had, and it will bring a completely different dynamic into the building,” he commented.

In the longer term, Kar shared the venue’s plans to attract an anchor tenant in the form of a basketball team. “It is a big ambition to secure a sports franchise,” he stated.

“We have been working very closely with a private entity and the government to secure a basketball team that competes in Europe to be based out of Coca-Cola Arena. It’s not a done deal yet, but we are working with the relevant bodies to bring that to life hopefully as soon as late 2023.”

Photos: Coca-Cola Arena, T.O.P. Entertainment www.coca-cola-arena.com

INTERVIEW 57 ME

Looking around the cavernous 40,000 sq ft warehouse at Maestra’s Dubai headquarters, it’s hard to imagine the start-up AV rental business the company started life as back in 2013. Almost a decade on, Maestra has expanded into a multidisciplined supplier of not just audio-visual equipment, but also carpentry and joinery, CNC machining, paint finishing, metalwork and pretty much any other discipline that lends itself to producing turnkey events solutions for agencies supporting some of the world’s leading luxury brands.

“I saw a gap in the market – particularly for luxury projects, where clients were looking for certain types of AV equipment to use on high-level fashion shows and product launches rather than your normal rock ’n’ roll equipment,” began Maestra’s Founder and Managing Director,

Tom Clements, looking back on the origins of the company. After a few years of delivering projects for the likes of Cartier, Chanel, Dior and Hermès and becoming synonymous with the luxury market, the Maestra team began to receive more and more enquiries for full turnkey solutions.

“A lot of our clients were asking if we could translate what we were doing on the technical side into a full fabrication and build,” he recalled. “They wanted a supplier that could bridge the gap, so they were are not having to handle multiple different AV and scenic companies.”

And that is exactly what Clements and his team created. “We have structured ourselves now as being a one-stop shop,” he explained. “We have a full technical AV team like we’ve always had, and now we’ve developed a full production facility attached right here in DIP, so everything

is here in-house in one place.” The Managing Director showed TPMEA around Maestra’s impressive facility, which was a hive of activity, from the technical warehouse full of lighting, audio and video equipment being prepped, to the fabrication workshop with brand-new, highspeed CNC machinery and a fully pressurised painting environment.

“A lot of our clients like to come here and see how projects are progressing,” Clements said of the space. “We model our team on being a helping hand that clients can lean on. We’ve had some basing themselves here at the warehouse for the duration of projects and working with the team. Meanwhile, we’ve got two PMs sitting in our clients’ offices as it’s easier for them to work as part of the client’s team,” he explained. “We try to be flexible and keep ourselves open to working

ME COMPANY PROFILE 58
COMPANY PROFILE:
A MULTIDISCIPLINED AV AND SCENIC SPECIALIST, MAESTRA IS A ONE-STOP SHOP FOR AGENCIES SUPPORTING SOME OF THE WORLD’S TOP LUXURY BRANDS.
MAESTRA

in whichever way suits the client. The market is so fast moving, you can’t be fixed in how you deliver a project. That is part of the reason why it was so important to have everyone here together, so if we need to make a change, everything is here on site and communication is quick and efficient.”

One point Clements was keen to stress is that Maestra is a partner for creative agencies, rather than a creative agency in its own right. “We’re quite hard lined on this fact,” he stated. “Creative is not what we do; we offer a specialist solution to fulfil our creative clients’ desires, turning good ideas into reality.”

On the subject of technology, Clements noted that rather than being rider-driven, the projects Maestra tends to take on are more solution orientated. “We’ve never been tied into working with particular manufacturers. Our job is to find the best product to integrate into a solution, build or piece of scenery that will deliver against the brief,” he described. “Sometimes there’s nothing on the market that is appropriate for our needs, and that means doing some internal research and development and fabricating something bespoke in-house.”

While Maestra’s projects are temporary by their very nature, build quality is vital. “A lot of projects we build tend to go from temporary installations to semi-permanent, so there’s an

expectation of quality and durability,” he said. “It’s the same with the technology that we’re integrating – it needs to last.”

Tight timelines are a constant source of challenge for many in the industry, however for Clements, he sees short deadlines as part and parcel of operating a business in the region.

“Some of the timelines we’re working to are super last-minute,” he laughed. “It’s great to be brought in early, but it’s the nature of this region that many projects are only confirmed at short notice. Once you accept that and model your organisation to be able to handle that, the more successful you’ll be.”

According to Clements, the biggest challenge is seasonality. “When we look at our planning over the year, a lot of clients want to do things in a very bunched up period, and it’s about how we structure ourselves to be able to manage the demand through those peak periods and make sure it’s done in a way where clients are getting the best service at all times,” he stated.

As a company that prides itself on making its clients’ lives easier, Maestra is always looking to invest in solutions that are in demand. A case in point is the recent collaboration with UKbased premium temporary structure provider, Showblock [read more about this in TPMEA38].

“The collaboration with Showblock comes from

a genuine need among our clients for a premium structure that isn’t tent-based,” Clements noted. “Showblock is unique – it offers a premium structure, more modern and architecturally designed than traditional marquees.”

Maes tra now operates projects throughout the GCC and beyond from its Dubai HQ, and a Saudi Arabian satellite office is in the pipeline for 2023. “There will always be a sharing of material and kit, but the idea is to put a workshop there and hold stock there, so we can offer the same turnkey solution and level of services in KSA as we do here in Dubai,” Clements revealed.

“A lot of jobs we do for luxury brands in Saudi Arabia need a quick solution that can be delivered there and then, and this could be a game-changer for us in the country.”

Commenting on the industry in general, Clements noted that it is no longer the case that there’s just one large AV supplier and one large scenic company that sweep up all the work. “There is a real diverse mix and options available for clients nowadays, which has to be a good thing for the industry in the region,” he concluded. “But we add value by easing the workload of our clients through our turnkey offering and strong project management.”

Photos: Maestra www.maestra-me.com

COMPANY PROFILE 59 ME
Maestra Founder and Managing Director, Tom Clements.

COMPANY PROFILE: EVENT LAB

FROM BASEMENT PROJECT TO LEADING MULTINATIONAL EVENT SOLUTION AGENCY MATCHING FREELANCE AND FULL-TIME EVENT PROFESSIONALS TO SOME OF THE WORLD’S BIGGEST CLIENTS, EVENT LAB HAS SEEN A METEORIC RISE – AND IT IS SHOWING NO SIGNS OF SLOWING DOWN. TPMEA CATCHES UP WITH MANAGING DIRECTOR, NADIM JAMAL TO FIND OUT MORE…

When it comes to industry-wide issues, the live event sector can be broadly split into two types of people: those who get their heads down and make the best of a bad situation, and those who don’t accept the status quo, and do something to fix the problem – Nadim Jamal and Murad Shisha fall very much into the latter group. As former UAE-based freelancers, the pair experienced a genuine shortage of representation within the local community and, sensing an opportunity to build something that would transform the regional landscape, took matters into their own hands, creating event solution agency, Event Lab.

“We started the company from our living rooms back in 2013, with the very simple goal of helping match event professionals to opportunities,” Jamal told TPMEA, thinking back on the origins of the company. “We were already helping clients build teams on many freelance projects we were involved in and as we identified this gap in the market, we realised that if we were to formalise this as a professional service, we

could scale it to help even more people find great opportunities in a win-win arrangement that benefits candidates, clients, and us.”

With a strong conviction to recommend only “good people who want to do good work”, the fledgling company quickly incubated a co-operative culture, which emphasised the importance of approachability, professionalism and friendliness and earned them a wave of clients. “Once clients and candidates came to understand the value of the service, the business really took off, growing organically and quickly,” Jamal recalled.

Six years ago, the Event Lab team identified another gap in the market and formed a Guest Service Staffing department which prioritised planning, hand-selecting, training and management onsite according to international standards. “This was about so much more than just deployment of Ushers and Hosting Staff,” Jamal noted. “It’s about working closely with clients to really understand their requirements, planning to the smallest detail, and ultimately

delivering an unmatched experience to guests by deploying top quality guest services personnel and managing them with precision on site.”

Working closely with both governmental agencies as well as most of the largest event agencies operating throughout the region, Event Lab has placed Guest Services staff at the most prestigious venues and events in the region – from large-scale events in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, to providing ushers for every event since the opening of Coca-Cola Arena and Etihad Arena. “We now have more than 12,000 Guest Services staff from throughout the GCC in our database,” Jamal revealed, illustrating the scale of the department. “On one weekend in 2019, we provided 1,200 Guest Services staff at the Special Olympics, as well as 350 Guest Services personnel at the Mother of the Nation Festival.”

As Event Lab has grown, it has expanded its scope to include all manner of fields of work, from graphic designers to operations, technical, production, site managers, ushers, and hospitality. “We help our clients find the best matched

ME COMPANY PROFILE 60

resources they could possibly need on a project,” Jamal stated.

The company’s database has grown to over 20,000 professionals based all over the world. “Wherever there are event professionals that speak English or Arabic, we have some representation,” Jamal said, adding that despite having a large talent pool, the vetting process remains stringent. “We still rely heavily on personal recommendations,” he shared. “When someone new signs up, if we don’t know them personally, we will know someone who does.”

Another area of growth is in the type of recruitment the company offers. “Around five years ago, we evolved from offering only freelance placements to also placing fulltime candidates,” Jamal revealed. “In fact, that department has grown by more than 200% this year. The fact that we place so many freelancers throughout every position in the chain makes us ideal full-time recruiters, because we understand the network inside-out and we understand the personalities of people and the requirements of clients, so we can contextualise what they need.”

Expo 2020 proved to be a transformational catalyst for expansion that saw Event Lab scale up to 35 full-time members of staff to deal with the sheer volume of work, which at one point saw the company place over 1,200 people in various roles for several different entities across the site. And thanks to the influx of international

work, Jamal was pleased to report that the company has been able to keep the same team in place even after Expo 2020 came to an end. “Thankfully, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have picked up massively to keep this large team busy even after Expo,” he said. “We fell in love with everybody who came in and they are all important members of the team who we want to continue to move forward with.”

According to Jamal, Saudi Arabia is proving to be a game-changer for the business. “The scale of the projects in KSA is so enormous that it’s not unheard of for a client to come and ask for 800 ushers, seven days a week for three months, or a team of 150 skilled professionals from all over the world to deliver a season,” he said, using MDLBEAST Soundstorm, Riyadh Season, and Formula 1 Jeddah as recent examples.

Key to success in new markets such as Saudi Arabia is the development of local databases. “We’re focusing on building networks for each country that include a good mix of Saudi Nationals and locally-based expat professionals,” Jamal explained. “We understand how important it is to promote local talent and will strive to continue to do that.”

With Event Lab proud to be ‘by freelancers, for freelancers’, the company prides itself on its flexibility, agility, and precision. “We cater to the events industry from within the industry with the flexibility, speed and accuracy it needs,” Jamal

commented. “We can help an organisation with part or all their recruitment, ranging from building a work chart and populating the whole thing at any stage of the project – whether it’s pitch, planning or execution – to providing a few guest services professionals. Clients especially in the UK, Europe or USA doing projects in Saudi Arabia find this very helpful as it enables them to build a tried-and-tested team of any size, of professionals who have worked in the region and understand it with ease.”

In the past two years, Event Lab has delivered more than 2,800 projects, with over 6,400 skilled freelance placements and more than 230 full-time placements. With the company having established trade licences in both Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the potential for growth is already beginning to be realised.

“We are already discussions with many of the prominent mega and giga projects in the region, and we aim to continue to provide international standard, locally flavoured solutions,” Jamal commented. “We will continue to grow our services, creating more opportunities and offering services to our clients whatever the size may be. Success for all is one of our values, and by doing what we do, we ensure success for everyone –the event, the client, and the jobseeker.

Photos: EventLab www.eventlab.me @eventlabme

COMPANY PROFILE 62 ME
Event Lab Founders, Nadim Jamal and Murad Shisha.

DIGITALISATION IN THE EVENTS INDUSTRY

3 MONKEYS’ RUDI BUCHNER PONDERS OUR UNDERSTANDING OF HOW EVENTS ARE MADE AND ANNOUNCES A NEW SOFTWARE PROJECT THAT AIMS TO ADDRESS THE EVOLVING NEEDS OF LIVE EVENTS PROFESSIONALS.

Can you envision how people produced events before we had computers and mobile phones? I do not have to envision it, because I remember it.

When I started to work in this industry in the mid 1980s, computers were around but loads of the work still happened with paper and pen. Technical and creative design tools have evolved significantly, making work easier and more efficient.

Standard office software helps to keep lists, tasks, and communication organised. Cloud and collaboration tools allow us to work in distributed teams and share information more easily. Project Management products structure and organise our workflows and processes and help us with budgeting. CRM, CPQ and ERP software builds the backbone of business and financial operation.

So, is digitalisation of the event industry a done deal? I do not think so. Information and communication are spread over multiple tools, files and possibly clouds. If you look at a speaker booking, how many lists and locations do you have to visit to get the full picture of contractual obligations, travel and accommodation schedule, transfer services, technical requests, presentations and stage treatment, rehearsals, call time and finally the plus ones coming with this speaker and all their requirements? How nice would it be if all of that would be only one click away when you select a speaker booking? And this is just one tiny example out of dozens of workflows and processes when you plan an event.

We have spent the past 12 months analysing the data and communication generated during the lifecycle of corporate events. To get an unbiased picture, we have conducted interviews with specialists in the industry, covering roles in the development, planning, production, and operation of events. Beside gathering loads of valuable detailed insights, we found a few overarching topics.

Event professionals are desperately looking for an integrated, event-focused tool to keep information collected and allow them to see and work with information structured to the needs of their role in the production, and the production phase the event is in. The information needs to be available in different depth levels without losing the bigger picture within a specific role or the event.

Information needs to be transparent and accessible between different roles and departments to reduce information loss, friction, and cater for dependencies between roles and departments. The aim is to resolve the paradigm between ‘duty to collect information’ and ‘duty to provide information’ and ease the process of briefings and approval cycles.

With all this information gathered and analysed, we started a software project in March 2022. Right now, we are halfway into this first development cycle, and we explore and find new aspects daily. As it stands, we hope to make an alpha version of this tool available to the industry in Q2 2023 to further what we consider a never-ending process: understanding of how events are made.

Events are exciting no matter what work you do and how you do it.

Photo: 3 Monkeys www.3monkeys.net

INTERVIEW 63 ME

POLYGON LIVE

AN IMMERSIVE AUDIO-VISUAL EXPERIENCE BUILT AROUND L-ACOUSTICS L-ISA SYSTEM, POLYGON IS AIMING TO MAKE 360° SOUND THE STANDARD. TPMEA CHECKS IN WITH CEO, NICO ELLIOT AHEAD OF THE COMPANY’S MIDDLE EAST DEBUT AT MDLBEAST SOUNDSTORM.

How did the idea for Polygon Live come about?

It was born through a collection of soundobsessed friends. We’ve been very keen on the quality of sound at events for a long time, and we thought this typical left and right listening experience had to develop. I remember hearing quadraphonic sound – which I guess was an early form of immersive – and thinking that surely this could be developed further.

We always had our ears to the ground for technology that would allow that to happen, and when L-Acoustics developed its L-ISA technology, we saw this as the perfect solution. While it was designed primarily for a frontal system, we approached L-Acoustics and asked whether it was possible to use it in a circular environment –and the simple answer was ‘yes’.

How did it develop from there?

When L-Acoustics said it was possible, we created a system and took it to Wonderfruit Festival in Thailand. In the first year, we did a rudimentary system around 20m in diameter, and everything was pre-recorded, with a few five-minute spatialised sound experiences. Even without using the technology in any meaningful

way, the feedback we had was very exciting. The environment of being inside the dome was a real point of difference for the audience.

That first experience sparked everyone’s excitement, so our next focus was on bringing artists into the studio and spending time helping them create music designed to utilise the system better. On a typical stereo setup, you can only add certain layers because there are only two stacks to play them out of and it starts to sound messy if you bring too much in. However, when you’ve got 86 speakers to play with, you can position all kinds of sounds in different places, and you can control a lot more.

What other elements do you incorporate into the overall experience?

Visual System is a talented team of French lighting designers and architects, which has put together a very cool LED superstructure that sits on top of the truss. We now use around 1km of LED tubing, and the LED is programmed and synchronised to the sound.

We have also added aroma elements to the show, and we have a partner who is cooking up lots of interesting scents using sound waves to

extract high quantities of certain compounds to create incredible smells such as sage, lavender, myrrh, and frankincense. We have smoke pumps all the way around the structure, and we release scents at times throughout the set.

Where can the technology go from here?

Our goal is to take this as far as it can possibly go. We would like to spend a lot more time in the studio with artists over the next year, so they can understand and explore what is possible with the technology. The more events we do and the more we work with artists, the more exciting it gets. We’d also love to integrate more live bands and vocals into the stage. We’ve got percussion at MDLBEAST this year.

There’s a long way for it to go and a lot of development that will take place. There’s also a lot of product development going on at L-Acoustics, which we will feed into what we’re doing. We’d like to do something in the UK next year and we’re also very excited about Saudi Arabia and looking forward to seeing where the journey leads.

Photos: Polygon Productions www.polygon-productions.com

INTERVIEW 64 ME

CHAINMASTER EXPANDS SOUTH AFRICA PRESENCE WITH DWR

Electric chain hoist and chain hoist controller manufacturer CHAINMASTER has agreed to work with DWR Distribution as its sole trading partner for South Africa.

“While CHAINMASTER is well established throughout the world, it’s the first time the brand will be represented in South Africa, and we look forward to a longterm relationship with DWR,” commented Benjamin Göldner, CEO at CHAINMASTER.

Göldner and CHAINMASTER’s Global Brand Manager, Adam Beaumont, recently visited South Africa, calling on numerous local rental technical suppliers, along with DWR’s Robert Izzett.

“T he CHAINMASTER brand is our specific hoist design for the entertainment market and the exciting development and relaunch of the product has occurred in connection with the changed corporate structure,” explained Beaumont. “John Jones, Director of LIFTKET UK and a distributor of CHAINMASTER stage products, has known Duncan Riley and Robert Izzett from DWR for several years, so when we

started talking about bringing CHAINMASTER to South Africa, which is an important market for us, they were first in our minds.”

Founded in 1994, CHAINMASTER offers a range of products that enable complex scene changes in theatres and provide solutions for TV studios, multifunctional venues and the touring sector. Over 125,000 electric chain hoists have been used around the globe to date.

In O ctober, Izzett visited CHAINMASTER’s headquarters in Germany and was delighted to see the high quality of their products and the warm welcome he received on site.

“It was amazing to see the company premises and the dizzying number of hoists that are produced there every year and to meet the whole team. We look forward to welcoming the great team to South Africa in 2023 as part of our Open Day and showcasing the new CHAINMASTER chain hoist product portfolio.”

Photo: DWR Distribution www.chainmaster.de www.dwrdistribution.co.za

REGIONAL ROUND-UP 65 Af
THE DISTRIBUTION DEAL SEES THE BRAND REPRESENTED IN SOUTH AFRICA FOR THE FIRST TIME.
NEW & USED PRO AUDIO, LIGHTING, RIGGING, STAGING & VIDEO WWW.10KLTD.COM +44 20 8308 9566

DSTV MZANSI VIEWERS’ CHOICE AWARDS

DON’T LOOK DOWN APPOINTS AV UNLIMITED AND VISUAL FRONTIER TO DELIVER GLITZY AWARDS EVENING.

The fourth edition of the DStv Mzansi Viewers’ Choice Awards was held at Time Square’s SunBet Arena in Tshwane after a two-year absence due to the pandemic. The event coincided with the lifting of all COVID-19 regulations in South Africa, allowing local celebrities and delegates to feel a sense of freedom as they togged up in fabulous attire to attend the polished broadcast event produced by Don’t Look Down, with technical by AV Unlimited, and Visual Frontier appointed for lighting design.

“What I love about working alongside DLD is expanding the boundaries on every event,” said Guillaume Ducray, Co-owner of AV Unlimited. “You do not grow as a person unless you are doing something different. When working on a production like this, we know that we are going to push the envelope, and afterwards, look back and think, wow, we did this!”

The lighting team included Joshua Cutts, Andre Siebrits and Renaldo van den Berg,

while Adriaan van der Walt headed the audio department. The rig included 112 Robe LEDForce 18 RGBWs, six BMFL Blades, 12 BMFL WashBeams, 12 BMFL Spots, 91 Pointes, 27 Spiiders, six Strobe IPs, 32 LEDBeam 100s, 24 Robin 600 LEDWashes, two RoboSpots and 27 James Thomas 4-Lite (Molefay). There were also a total of 28 Martin MAC Viper Profiles, 96 VDO Sceptron 10s and 48 Atomic Dot CLDs, with control coming from an MA Lighting grandMA2.

The experienced team from DLD including Glenn van Loggerenberg, Anton Cloete, Tebogo Mogola, Philisa Bidi and Brendan Holtshousen remained on top of the creative, while Lighting Designer Joshua Cutts from Visual Frontier was only too happy to lend his expertise.

“T he lighting is influenced by DLD’s custom staging palettes, and all of the screen creative for this production was designed by Rob Rae,” Cutts revealed. “We have extensive meetings every week, the drawings are changed multiple times and then we tend to sculpt and lock it down. The

creative team spend around a week in the studio with the tracks and 3D rig where we build as much as we can.”

The concept was to switch off all lights, then bring it to life with an abundance of beams and bright lights to create energised spaces for the ceremony and entertainment.

“It was a light-driven show and was intense to programme,” admitted Cutts. “We wanted to create banks of beams that came from different angles on the set, from left to right and from the roof shining down. We had a combination of 30 BMFL fixtures used as key lights, backlights and followspots. I used two RoboSpots, my ‘go-to’ for television spotlights.”

He added: “I really enjoy working with Guillaume and his crew. He very much likes to get the pre-production just right, he plans each show to perfection and every person on the team knows exactly what they are doing.”

Photos: Judith Belle www.dstv.com

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COBRA

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