SAUDI ARABIA’S BIGGEST FESTIVAL PAVES THE WAY FOR THE KINGDOM’S BURGEONING LIVE EVENTS INDUSTRY
FEBRUARY / MARCH • ISSUE 040 I UAE 51ST NATIONAL DAY • WORLD CUP OPENING CEREMONY • ANDY JACKSON, CLAIR GLOBAL MIDDLE EAST
600,000 FANS DESCEND ON THE SAUDI ARABIAN DESERT FOR THE BIGGEST RAVE IN THE COUNTRY’S HISTORY. TURN TO PAGE 30 TO READ TPMEA’S IN-DEPTH REPORT FROM RIYADH…
Adamson Fletcher Machine is an audio rendering processor offering incredibly simple operation with highly efficient spatialization tools, with hardware models offering 32, 64, or 128 inputs and outputs. To learn more about the Adamson Fletcher Machine visit our website at www.adamsonsystems.com
WELCOME... TO TPMEA
Life begins at 40
Welcome to the 40th issue of TPMEA. In the almost eight years that have passed since Issue #1, the title has gone from a quarterly supplement bound inside the pages of TPi to a fully fledged bimonthly publication with a loyal readership of its own, and an important element of TPi’s ever-expanding global reach.
This is the 20th issue that I have personally presided over, and in that time, I have witnessed some outstanding events created by some truly world-class talents. However, none have left quite such a lasting impression on me as our cover story for this issue, MDLBEAST SOUNDSTORM.
After spending a week in Riyadh roaming the vast festival grounds and trying to speak to as many of the key personalities behind the event as possible, what became clear was that, if you look past the record-breaking stages and over-the-top production values, SOUNDSTORM is a vehicle for change in this rapidly developing country. As MDLBEAST’s Executive Director of Events, Michael ‘Curly’ Jobson, told me: “It’s not really about SOUNDSTORM 2022… This is about the creation of an industry across the board, and we’re at the sharp end of it.” Read our in-depth report on page 30
El sewhere in this issue, it might now be the elder statesman of the regional events industry, but the UAE is continually proving that it can produce events at the highest level. For the country’s 51st National Day, People created a spectacular ceremony, utilising the skills of mainly local suppliers ( page 46).
I al so spoke to audio supremo Andy Jackson, who has brought Clair Global into the Middle East (page 6), as well as Simon Ransom, who has embarked on an exciting new challenge at Groupe F ( page 60).
I wr ite this fresh from attending one of the biggest tradeshows on the industry calendar – ISE, in Barcelona – and with another of the industry’s biggest events, the TPi Awards, just around the corner. Tickets are almost sold out, and I know there are quite a few from the Middle East making the trip over to London, so, it’s shaping up to be another great night. See you at the bar!
Enjoy the issue.
Peter Iantorno Editorial Director
TPMEA 03 www.tpmeamagazine.com | www.tpimagazine.com | www.tpmeaawards.com
06 – FIRST LOOK: ANDY JACKSON
The audio industry veteran discusses Clair Global’s long-awaited entry into the Middle East.
14 – MIDDLE EAST NEWS
The latest news from the Middle East, including the FIFA World Cup Opening Ceremony and the opening party for Tomorrowland Terra Solis.
30 – MDLBEAST SOUNDSTORM
A mammoth production laying the foundations for the creation of a new industry in Saudi Arabia.
46 – UAE 51ST NATIONAL DAY
Local suppliers come together to create a spectacular ceremony.
56 – ENERGIE ENTERTAINMENT
The ‘COVID baby’ of CEO and Founder, Tyler Davis Smith is turning into a teenager.
60 – SIMON RANSOM, GROUP DIRECTOR MIDDLE EAST, GROUPE F
The former Encore Director lifts the lid on his latest move over to French pyro production company, Groupe F.
62 – THAT DUBAI AGENCY
The UAE’s fast-growing marketing and events firm that proves that female business leaders are just as ‘hands-on’ as their male counterparts.
65 – AFRICA NEWS
The latest news from Africa, including Tunisia’s International Festival of Hammamet, INFiLED’s new hire, and DWR Distribution’s deal with zactrack.
Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360
Mobile: +44 (0)7763 233637
Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360
Mobile: +44 (0)7768 850767
DIGITAL CONTENT MANAGER
Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360
Mobile: +44 (0)7725 475819
MDLBEAST SOUNDSTORM by MDLBEAST
PRINTED BY Buxton Press
Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360
Mobile: +44 (0)7702 054344
SENIOR ACCOUNT MANAGER
Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360
Mobile: +44 (0)7852 336728
MARKETING AND EVENT MANAGER
Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360
Mobile: +44 (0)7752 392465
MONDIALE GROUP CHAIRMAN
CONTRIBUTING ASSISTANT EDITOR
Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8352
Mobile: +44 (0)7592 679612
Tel: +44 (0)161 476 8360
Mobile: +44 (0)7413 555978
GRAPHIC DESIGN & PRODUCTION
Dan Seaton: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mel Capper: email@example.com
Lynette Levi / Sarah Miller: firstname.lastname@example.org
06 20 46 30 62 60
Unlock your Soundscape.
Hearing, seeing, feeling, connected. A new listening experience. Involvement with a most beautiful intensity. The interaction between artist and audience, more intimate than ever before. Enveloping sound reinforcement, succeeding so much more than right and left.
d&b Soundscape gives designers, engineers and artists the tools to create exceptional audience experiences.
Photo: Tanner VonnahmeI, unsplash
ANDY JACKSON, CEO, CLAIR GLOBAL MIDDLE EAST
AS CLAIR GLOBAL MAKES ITS FORMAL ENTRY INTO THE MIDDLE EAST, THE MAN RESPONSIBLE FOR HEADING UP THE NEW REGIONAL OPERATION GIVES TPMEA THE INSIDE SCOOP ON HOW IT CAME TO BE AND REVEALS HIS HOPES AND AMBITIONS FOR THE NEW VENTURE…
Rumours of Clair Global’s desire to set up a permanent base in Dubai have long been rife, with the favourite after-work watering holes of the city’s live events professionals often bearing witness to speculation about the who’s, when’s and where’s of the matter. It’s fitting then, that when the American audio titan finally decided to take the plunge and open in the Middle East, it appointed one of the most experienced, best known and most well-respected people in Dubai’s audio scene to launch the operation: Andy Jackson. Having lived and worked in Dubai for over 20 years, launching and building up the Middle East branch of Delta Sound before its subsequent acquisition by PRG, Jackson is a true stalwart of the industry. Here, the regional CEO gives some background on the new Clair Global Middle East operation and shares his take on the change of pace his new role will bring.
How did the opportunity to launch Clair Global Middle East come about?
It all came about, as usual, through a phone call. Clair Global had an interest in developing more of a presence in the Middle East. They were already working on some large projects in Saudi Arabia such as MDLBEAST SOUNDSTORM, and they wanted to open a permanent base here in the region. I was consulting at the time, and it felt like there was a vacuum in the region on the audio side of the industry, so, it seemed a perfect fit.
I had a meeting with the leadership team, to learn more about the way they worked and their structure, and it did not take long to realise that they would be the kind of people I wanted to work with.
How is the organisation structured?
We’ve been trading since October 2022 and have already built a staff of around 15 people. We have a 20,000 sq ft warehouse, which is fully up and running in Jebel Ali. It’s a brandnew warehouse complex and suits us perfectly. We’re fully owned by Clair Global, and I have been put in as regional CEO, to look after our entities in the UAE and in KSA.
It sounds like you’re building a strong team…
Yes, we have some good new people as well as some great people who I have known and respected for years, including Al Woods, Rob Turner and Ed Ross. We’re very lucky that there is no shortage of people that want to come and work for such an esteemed organisation. As you are also aware, the Middle East is a very desirable place to build a career.
06 FIRST LOOK MIDDLE EAST ME
Dubai Abu Doha Amman Jeddah Riyadh
Kuwait Cairo Manama Muscat Dhabi
How does being a part of a larger organisation benefit you?
It comes with massive benefits. Not only does the company have considerable assets, but all that equipment is the very best. I know exactly what it’s like to try to keep your inventory at the highest level as a start-up, so it’s a big burden lifted to have the support of a large organisation behind us.
The company has been providing us with the kit we need, including L-Acoustics K1, K2, and Kara systems, along with their own Clair Cohesion system, which is the first in the region. I have to say, the Cohesion has performed extremely well in its first outings.
We also fit right into the Clair Global operation as a regional hub. Our Operations team is in daily contact with their counterparts in London and Lititz to make sure that resources are
moved around in the most efficient way possible. We are the previously missing link between Europe, Asia, and Australia, so our presence opens doors for everyone.
We hear that you’ve been busy from the off… We’ve been straight in with some large contracts. I was expecting to have a year easing into it and spending a bit of time on the golf course, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth, which is great.
For MDLBEAST SOUNDSTORM, Clair purchased 2,000 new Motorola R7 radios, which remain in this part of the world – making us the biggest provider in the region. We also picked up work on the Yasalam After-Race Concerts at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, shows at the Louvre Abu Dhabi, as well as a huge comms deployment for UAE National Day, including enough Riedel Bolero
systems to handle 2,000 IEMs which, again, now live in our warehouse. I cannot thank our clients enough for the support they have shown.
Will you be focusing on live events rather than systems integration?
It’s mainly going to be live and rental applications. If the right Integration project comes up and we think there’s a good opportunity, then we would consider it, but our main focus is certainly on the live events market.
Why did you choose to set up in the UAE rather than Saudi Arabia?
We like the UAE because of its laws and statutory rights – it’s a safe haven to do business. There’s no doubt that there are some incredible opportunities in Saudi Arabia – Clair is already doing great business in the country and we’re
08 FIRST LOOK MIDDLE EAST ME
“Not only does the company have considerable assets, but all that equipment is the very best. I know exactly what it’s like to try to keep your inventory at the highest level as a start-up, so it’s a big burden lifted to have the support of a large organisation behind us.”
Andy Jackson, CEO, Clair Global Middle East
in the process of setting up an independent entity licence there – but we want to approach with caution and not expose ourselves to any unnecessary risk. We’re selective with making sure that we work for the right companies and the right people. So far, it’s all been positive.
Where do you expect your biggest areas of growth to be?
We’re only a few months into a new entity, so without doubt both the Saudi and UAE markets will grow massively for us. We will also be in a position to support other Clair entities that have work in the Middle East or Far East as we further develop our infrastructure and get all our systems and processes up to speed.
We will also be able to support Europe and North America with staff during the hot summer months, which is a prospect that the entire team will benefit from. In terms of equipment growth,
for me it’s all about comms and data networking – that has been a passion of mine since the early Delta Sound days.
We took on our first shipment of 2,000 radios before we even had a warehouse. When you’re buying new equipment, everything has to be scanned, barcoded, and entered into a system. With 2,000 radios, that’s around 12,000 items of equipment that needed to be processed all while trying to get jobs out the door. That gives you an idea of the amount of work that needed to be done to get our processes in place.
How do you view the competition in Dubai?
We’ve been welcomed with open arms. We have some great friends in the region, and we get on extremely well with the likes of Agora, Protec, MediaPro and many others. It’s a healthy competition and there’s more than enough work in the region to go around. It’s good for the
industry here that clients now have a choice of specialist audio companies.
How are you finding the move back into management following your freelance stint?
My role is to steer the work and group in the right direction, looking for opportunities, partnerships, and potential acquisitions in the region – and it’s one that I’m embracing. I like that strategic planning side of the business very much. The challenge is now about continuing to build the right team, and that is more interesting for me than getting back behind a desk.
I’ve been very lucky in this industry; it’s given me everything I ever wanted from it. This is a fantastic opportunity to and build an organisation that can give the next generation an opportunity to get what they want, too.
Photos: Clair Global, MDLBEAST www.clairglobal.com
10 FIRST LOOK MIDDLE EAST ME
the WIRELESS SOLUTION
for LIVE EVENTS, SPORTS and MORE
REAL-TIME NETWORKS FOR VIDEO, AUDIO AND COMMUNICATIONS
BOLERO WIRELESS INTERCOM
Operates standalone or integrated in digital matrix intercom systems
Up to 250 Beltpacks and 100 Antennas in a network
• 10 beltpacks per antenna
• Patented ADR (Advanced DECT receiver) technology for an unrivaled radio performance
• Exceptional audio performance
• Fast and Secure NFC (Near Field Communication) and OTA (Over The Air) beltpack registration
• Bluetooth support for bluetooth headset or smartphone connectivity
• Standard AES67 IP network, CAT5 daisy chain or redundant ring antenna network
• Redundant antenna power
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
INSPIRING EXPERIENCES, MEMORABLE MOMENTS
SABIC BUILDING INAUGURATION
E9 PRODUCTION AND MOMENTS INTERNATIONAL PRODUCE A LARGE-SCALE PRODUCTION TO CELEBRATE THE NEW SABIC HQ IN JUBAIL, SAUDI ARABIA.
When SABIC, one of the world’s largest petrochemical manufacturers, opened its new premises in November 2022, the company wanted to make a splash with a grand inauguration. It appointed E9 Production which, in collaboration with Moments International, produced a spectacular show.
“In our pitch, we aimed to showcase our capabilities through a visual and emotional narrative,” explained E9’s Basil Ashoury. “Our strategy was to deliver a message that we are passionate, capable, and confident.”
Jehad Ashoury, also of E9, added: “We created an exciting journey through the building. The proposal was impressive enough to win the project with almost zero changes.”
According to Executive Producer, Fabio Umiltà, the project required constant communication between all departments to ensure the correct balance between the production, artistic needs, and financial
constraints. “My role was to find daily solutions and solve every small problem without losing sight of the big picture,” he shared.
The show took place in an incredibly busy time for the region, with the FIFA World Cup in Qatar in full swing, along with various Saudi Seasons events and UAE National Day.
“T he lack of resources both in terms of equipment and personnel was one of the main challenges,” Umiltà recalled, adding that a short timeline and difficulties securing all the necessary permits added to the task. “However, despite all this, the most pleasant part of the project was to work with great people and professionals who put passion and trust into every aspect of the production,” he reflected.
Creative, Artistic and Show Director, Marco Boarino also shared his thoughts with TPMEA, shedding light on his inspiration for the show.
“Performing in Saudi Arabia often involves the need to show muscles – the ‘never seen before’
or ‘world’s biggest’,” he said. “However, for this project, I chose the path of storytelling, theatre, multi-disciplinarity and new technologies to bring to life an architecturally exciting building through a hybrid dialogue between live performing arts, cinema, visual and media arts, theatre, and special effects, interwoven by an original soundtrack. I decided to use a black and white visual narrative, which is unusual in KSA.”
With the construction of the building in full swing while the show was being developed, there were many variables to consider from both the production and creative point of view. “Everything is fluid,” Boarino said. “For this reason, I preferred to focus on a specific creative idea and aesthetic, which could be adapted.”
Boarino shared what he referred to as “a real turning point” in the production. “The Clonwerk team, which was in charge of video direction and production under my artistic direction, proposed to create an advanced 3D storyboard
REGIONAL ROUND-UP 14 ME
that included not only actions, technologies, and special effects but also cameras and drones POV,” he recalled. “Considering that we needed to merge the timecoded drones’ actions to live performances that were sensitive to weather conditions, when a storm meant that almost half of our rehearsals and shooting days were cancelled, this solid skeleton allowed the whole creative and production team to virtually build the show step by step.”
The main role of video within the show was to express the narrative theme as well as the spectacular nature of the staging. Video Directors, Romain Sabella and Raimondo Di Persio opted for Sony FX3 cameras, paired with DJI Ronin RS3 stabilising systems.
“It was a light and agile setup that would allow us to deal with the unexpected and to move in a fast and efficient way, always guaranteeing a high-quality final product,” they explained. The cameras were connected via radio transmitters to the video control room, in order to guarantee full monitoring and production management during the shooting phase.
Lighting Designer, Giovanni Pinna specified an extensive inventory, including Robe BMFL Blades, Spiiders and Pointes, Ayrton Cobras, Claypaky Mythos, and SGM P-5s and Q-7s. “The
focus of the design was to enhance and exploit the building and the architecture of the site,” he explained. “A massive setup of Robe BMFL Blades and Spiiders were spread along the perimeter of the building on various levels to cover each facade following the unusual structure.”
An e xtra 100 LED RGB fixtures (SGM P-5 and W700) were dedicated to the first level surrounding the building, creating a powerful base of colour under the graphic and dynamic work of the BMFLs. “The BMFL Blades allowed me to create some unusual looks, framing the building in different sections and inspiring interesting, dynamic looks to follow the storytelling of the reveal,” Pinna added.
The system was controlled via an MA Lighting grandMA2, MA NPUs and “a huge fibre network with many access points, which allowed me to work simultaneously from different points of view facing all four sides of the building”.
The laser show was supplied by Italian company SUPER FX, which also has a base in Riyadh. The supply included 30 laser scanning heads made up of 24 30W, four 60W, and two 100W – the most powerful ever deployed in the Kingdom. Laser Designer, Filippo Scortichini came up with a simple yet effective look based on white volumetric beams that made the most of
the powerful equipment at his disposal.
Pyrotechnics meanwhile was provided by FLASH ART, with Jakub Michalik overseeing the design and deployment.
The drone element of the production was provided by Lumasky Drone Show. It saw 700 drones transforming into different 3D figures during more than 10 seperate flights, and even a world first of a flying acrobat performing inside a drone formation.
Looking back on the project, Creative Director Boarino was pleased with the level of innovation on display. “It was an experimental concept of a real interaction between drones and live performances, starting from the study and imitation of the movement of migrating birds and insects, performed with aerial and aquatic performances, in a three-dimensional environment,” he described.
“T he most challenging part was finding the right balance between technique and safety for creating my visual frames. The result was a gentle and deeply emotional show led by talents and humanity that brought yet another irrefutable proof of the wonder of humankind.”
Photo: Moments International www.e9production.com
90 Degree Splicing, More Creative Presentation
REGIONAL ROUND-UP 15 ME
ASIS MIDDLE EAST 2022
AYM ENGAGES PICO TO DELIVER A TECHNICALLY COMPLEX SHOW FOR THE BIGGEST NAMES IN THE MIDDLE EAST’S SECURITY INDUSTRY.
Held in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, for the first time, from 16-17 November 2022, the 10th ASIS Middle East Conference and Exhibition saw around 5,500 participants including 90 exhibitors, 600 conference delegates and over 1,300 Opening Ceremony attendees descend on Dhahran Expo to discuss this year’s theme –‘security, enabling economic growth’.
Sponsored by Aramco, SABIC, SEC and SAFE, the event was produced by AYM Events, which also organised the previous iteration of the show in 2019 in Bahrain. “As a strategic partner, AYM Events worked closely with the committee to deliver the objectives of broadening the attendance levels and elevating content,” stated AYM’s Alain Marhic.
AYM managed all aspects of ASIS Middle East from marketing, to delegate and exhibition sales, conference programming and logistics, however, AYM’s main remit was to uplift the event to the level of Aramco’s largest expo – IKTVA. “We were keen to ensure the stage and opening ceremony reflected the importance of the event for the Kingdom and for the security industry in the region,” continued Marhic.
AYM engaged Pico to handle the design and build of the conference space. “It was an easy decision,” said AYM’s Solveig Leonard. “We needed a reliable and creative production company to bring our concept to life. We were keen to bring an immersive experience to our attendees, ensuring that they had a memorable and meaningful event. It was vital all the latest
audio-visual techniques and staging solutions were incorporated in the show. I knew Pico was the right fit for the job.”
Leonard explained that the key moment in the show came right at the start, as Prince Saud bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Governor of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, opened the event using an impressive, simulated facial recognition system. “It had to be right and work first time – the pressure was immense. However, the all-important inauguration moment was a challenge due to the physical restrictions of the venue,” Leonard revealed. “It was a tight space to work in and we didn’t have much scope to hang equipment from the ceiling due to weightloading issues, so we were restricted in what we could achieve.”
However, helped by a great working relationship with Pico’s Ed Jarman – which dates back more than 20 years to when Leonard worked at ExCeL London and Jarman worked in rock ’n’ roll touring – the team came up with some smart solutions.
Pico engaged HAV Productions to supply rigging, audio, lighting, and playback; while Entertainment Solutions provided the set and scenic, plus the vast amount of LED used.
The lighting rig featured Claypaky A.leda B-EYE K10 and SuperSharpy fixtures, ARRI Fresnels and ETC Source Four Profile, controlled by an MA Lighting grandMA3. The audio supply comprised a JBL VTX line array with Crown VRack HD4MX amplification and beyerdynamic microphones
as well as a Soundcraft Vi7000 digital mixer. The playback solution comprised a Barco E2 processor, Dataton WATCHMAX software, and Lightware Matrix switchers. HAV Professional also provided Sony PMW-400K cameras and Blackmagic vision mixer, as well as Eurotruss FD34 and Lodestar CM motorised chain hoists.
HAV Professional’s General Manager, Ian Hill expanded on the weight-loading issues the team faced. “The venue was basically two adjoined halls – one older than the other – and there was a great difference in the load-bearing capacity in the roof,” he described. “To overcome this, we flew a mother grid of truss and added multiple points to balance and spread the weight distribution. All in all, the event went very smoothly – there was a great synergy between our crew and the other technical providers.”
Summing up, AYM’s Marhic reflected on the success of the event. “We are very pleased with the result achieved – especially the quality of the agenda, the international participation and the presence of industry leaders headlined by Amin Nasser, Aramco CEO.”
Leonard added: “The combined expertise of the whole team meant that together, we achieved an extraordinarily good-looking, slick and well-attended event.”
REGIONAL ROUND-UP 16 ME
SLS SUPPLIES RAHAT FATEH ALI KHAN SHOW
SLS PRODUCTION DEPLOYS TURNKEY SOLUTION – INCLUDING NEWLY PURCHASED INFILED LED SCREENS – FOR THE PAKISTANI SINGER AT COCA-COLA ARENA.
Legendary Pakistani singer and musician Rahat Fateh Ali Khan wowed his loyal Dubai fanbase with an intimate performance at Coca-Cola Arena. PME Entertainment engaged SLS Production, through Account Manager, Vishnu Venunath, to provide a complete audiovisual setup for the show, with the company deploying its newly purchased INFiLED LED screens as part of a turnkey package.
SL S recently expanded its LED inventory with the purchase of 1,000 sq m of INFiLED GXMK2 4.6mm – much of which was deployed on this project, along with three NovaStar H2 processors and six CVT4K fibre optic converters, Analog Way Aquilon RS3 processing, and Resolume Arena 7 software. Video HOD Edgar Pulido oversaw the
video supply, with Video Operators Clinton Due and Joni Mercado on hand during the show.
Lighting HOD, Praveen Jayakumar worked alongside Lighting Engineer, Hemanth Rao to deliver a rig that included Claypaky Sharpy Plus, Robe MegaPointe and Spiider, Vari-Lite SL NITRO 510C, and Martin ERA 800 Performance fixtures, along with MDG ATME hazers – all controlled via an MA Lighting grandMA2 full size console, with a grandMA3 light as backup.
The artist’s audio rider called for a JBL PA including Vertec 4889, 4888, 4880-A and 4887 loudspeakers, which SLS supplied from its inhouse inventory. Audio Engineer, Joswin Arahna set up a DiGiCo SD10 at FOH, as well as a Yamaha CL5 at monitors. Eurotruss HD/FD 34 and HD 44
truss was used, alongside electric hoists. Rigging HOD, Kevin Shyam shared his thoughts on the gig: “This set was no less of a challenge than we are used to working on,” he commented. “Working in challenging and minimal time frames has become routine for us. Day in and day out, we work hard behind the scenes to pull off magnificent visual feasts like this.”
Project Manager, Shubham Yesale concluded: “With limited setup time of only 18 hours and derig time of just four hours, we had to be on top of every little detail. It is always said that teamwork makes big jobs easy – and that was very much the case for this project.”
Photo: Prime Vision Studio www.slspro.net
REGIONAL ROUND-UP 18 ME
VISUAL SPECTACULAR OPENS FIFA WORLD CUP QATAR 2022
The FIFA World Cup 2022 kicked off with a bang, thanks to an ambitious Opening Ceremony, featuring a performance by Jungkook of K-pop phenomenon BTS and narration from Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman. Produced by Balich Wonder Studio, the event was played out in front of more than 60,000 fans at Qatar’s Al Bayt Stadium, as well as millions more from all over the world tuning into the live broadcast.
The Opening Ceremony took place in a projected world devised by Creative Director Anghela Alo and the content artists at Luke Halls Studio, which presented a unique challenge for UK-based Lighting Designer, Durham Marenghi.
“We were operating at a light intensity of around 400 Lux and sports lighting for the games was around 2,000 Lux, so a very careful approach
was required to create the magic to entertain billions of fans around the globe,” he explained.
To create the desired effect, Marenghi specified a rig featuring an array of Claypaky fixtures, including Sharpy X Frame, Tambora Linear 100, Xtylos, and Sharpy. “The key factor was weight on the roof and very high truss heights of more than 50m to keep the equipment above the technical and camera systems required by the soccer authorities,” he noted.
“Every source deployed had to have a very high light output and very tight beam angle. We usually have lights all around the field of play, but this was not possible with the first game of the competition scheduled only one hour after the opening ceremony.”
Marenghi mounted 60 Sharpy X Frames, 40 Xtylos and 80 Sharpys on 20 roof trusses; 16
more Sharpy X Frames on goal posts across two west projection positions; and 18 Tambora Linear 100s plus Neutral Density filters on the side stages and nine more on the centre stage, as well as an additional 52 Sharpys.
“Sharpy X Frame was by far our favourite fixture on the rig – it is a true hybrid,” he declared. “The Xtylos laser-sourced fixture is a grown-up Sharpy, if you will, but with the benefit of additive colours so RGB and CMY are far brighter. It is a very safe fixture, and its IP66 version, the Xtylos Aqua, is perfect for long-throw exterior applications.”
The LD described the Tambora Linear as “a great and flexible batten with three distinct layers – a conventional solid colour wash, which can be overlaid as a mappable pixelated array, and finally the white strobe layer that runs through
REGIONAL ROUND-UP 20 ME
BALICH WONDER STUDIO ASSEMBLES AN ALL-STAR TEAM TO PUT ON A GRAND OPENING CEREMONY IN DOHA.
The CTME team on site at Al Bayt Stadium; Lighting Designer, Durham Marenghi.
the centre. It is bright so we used the ND filter provided on units facing our broadcast cameras.”
Creative Technology Middle East (CTME) delivered the spectacular projection mapping covering the pitch for the ceremony, along with flown tracking LED screens and rolling stage LED screens. “The show was a technically complex production with lots of signals and different displays under the high-pressure environment that comes with global televised shows,” the company stated. “Our technicians rose to the occasion as always. We were operating on very tight schedules delivering the highly technical installation in a time-sensitive manner.”
CTME’s technical solutions included video mapping projection, which covered the massive
pitch area of 3,250 sq m with a canvas size of 3,840m by 5,340m. The company provided 18 Panasonic PT-RZ31k laser projectors with all signals distributed though fibre from a 128x128 video router matrix. In total, disguise servers were playing back 30 million pixels to all screens and projection systems around the venue.
For content playback, CTME supplied a fully redundant disguise system of two VX2 and four VX4 servers to output content for the FOP projection, LED screens, stadium ribbons and broadcast VT.
One of the most striking features of the opening ceremony was the flown LED screens situated over the pitch, created using ROE Visual Vanish 8T and GLUX 10 mounted in custom-made
scenic frames. The signal that fed into the screens was a broadcast wireless system that used 7G bandwidth. Another key feature of the night was the rolling stage on the pitch. This was custom built using ROE Visual Vanish 8T LED screens fed through a Riedel MediorNet system.
“Our dedicated teams were planning for this event for over two months with Balich Wonder Studio,” the company added. “From preproduction to the event going live, the entire team at CT worked hard to deliver such a fantastic show. Schedules had to be met in a timely manner to ensure a seamless delivery. It’s been an honour for CTME to deliver on such a world-renowned event.
Photos: Balich Wonder Studio www.ctme.co
REGIONAL ROUND-UP 21 ME
LASER SAGA ILLUMINATES WORLD CUP AFTER PARTIES
THE COMPANY SUPPLIES LASERS AND SFX FOR 30 DAYS OF CONTINUOUS OPERATIONS DURING THE FIFA WORLD CUP IN QATAR.
As the eyes of the world turned towards Qatar for the enthralling on-pitch action at the FIFA World Cup, off the pitch, there was no shortage of options for the hundreds of thousands of fans who wanted to keep the party going long after the final whistle.
Among the many afterparties on offer were the Arcadia Electronic Music Festival in Ras Bu Fontas, comprising both the Spider and Reactor Stages, as well as the Daydream Festival and World Stage, held at Doha Golf Club, produced by Alchemy Project.
Featuring headliners including Black Eyed Peas, Robbie Williams, Akon, Tiësto and many more, the festivals combined to make up 30 days of continuous entertainment. Laser Saga
provided lasers and special effects for all four stages at both locations.
“We were initially contacted by the team at Arcadia to handle the Spider and Reactor Stages,” explained Laser Saga Founder and Managing Director, Serge Lomadze. “This soon turned into a much larger delivery to include both the Daydream and World Stages produced by Alchemy Project.”
Across the four stages, the company supplied a total of five tonnes of laser and SFX equipment, including 600kg of confetti, 4,000 litres of flame fluid, 30,000 litres of CO2, and 1,200W of lasers, which were deployed throughout 30 days of non-stop operations. The supply comprised LS-NYX 30W and AT 15W lasers, Galaxis G-Flame
units, Showven Circle flamers, and a range of MAGIC FX special effects kit including Super Blasters, Stadium Shot Extremes, Stadium Shot 2s and CO2 Jets.
“We got confirmation for the project around a week before Black Eyed Peas played the first headline show, so, to turn it around so quickly was a massive achievement,” Lomadze recalled. “I would like to thank both the Alchemy Project and Arcadia teams for putting their faith in us and congratulate them on a spectacular month of shows.”
Photos: Laser Saga
REGIONAL ROUND-UP 22 ME
+44 (0)1753585050 www.site-electrics.co.uk +971 (0)50887 0685 www.mainsdistro.com email@example.com
Proud Sponsors of the TPi Award for Favourite Power Supply Company and the TPMEA Award for Temporary the TPMEA Award for Power Supply Engineer of the Year.
CT DELIVERS FOX STUDIO AT FIFA WORLD CUP
A CUTTING-EDGE AV SOLUTION IS DEPLOYED FOR THE LARGEST TEMPORARY STUDIO IN QATAR.
Creative Technology Middle East (CTME) recently supported broadcaster FOX to deliver the largest temporary studio in Qatar on the Doha Corniche waterfront promenade, for the live broadcast of the FIFA World Cup 2022.
All 6 4 World Cup games were broadcast live across the US from a state-of-the-art set featuring four unique stages, each having a beautiful backdrop of the West Bay illuminated skyline of Qatar’s capital.
CTME delivered the AV requirements across the impressive space, which included 500 sq m of LED controlled by multiple NovaStar H9 splicers and a Barco E2 screen management system to manage over 22 million pixels. The company also supplied a bespoke lighting package comprising more than 700 fixtures, as well as managing all of the daily systems and operations through its team of six on-site engineers.
Dhyaan Parikh, Senior Project Manager, expanded on the brief. “The team at FOX wanted seamless corners at irregular angles throughout the studio. We worked with our supplier INFiLED to create bespoke fabricated frames for our new ART 4.6in touring frames with a 45° chamber. We supplied panels to the set manufacturer in the USA so they could create a test build and check how it would fit together. The build was technically challenging as they required us to
build screens in a completely enclosed area inside a pentagon, with five seamless corners.”
The LED was controlled by multiple systems due the pixel pitch required, with the desk LED powered by Brompton SX40, the LED floor powered by ROE Visual Evision and the remainder of the screen on NovaStar processing. A Barco E2 screen management system was also utilised.
The lighting package included CTME’s latest fleet of new Ayrton, Robe, SGM and Elation fixtures, controlled by an MA Lighting grandMA3. CTME’s Head of Lighting and Power, Sam Connolly, commented: “It was a wonderful project to be a part of. Our team installed over 700 fixtures into the studio using the latest lights on the market. We did extensive planning to ensure a smooth delivery. Our engineers were on site to ensure replacements could be made quickly if required. We also needed to make sure we had sufficient control over the network and to do this we utilised the latest Luminex range of products and had multiple Araneo points to monitor the network. It was a huge pleasure to work alongside FOX.”
CT Qatar’s General Manager, Irum Ashraf, stated: “The historic relationship between NEP/ CT and FOX played a vital role in the award of the project as we proved that we could connect and collaborate across borders and geographies.
With CT Qatar’s office having had its feet firmly on the ground for many years, we were able offer invaluable advice and support to the client where any uncertainties occurred to them delivering their first ever temporary studio in Doha.”
Andy Reardon, CTME Managing Director, added: “Having a large infrastructure in Qatar with the latest equipment facilitated a perfect delivery. Our teams worked incredibly hard to ensure each deadline was met and we couldn’t be happier with the outcome. ”
Photo: Creative Technology Middle East www.ctme.co
SHOWFORCE SUPPORTS THE LION KING
THE COMPANY PROVIDES MORE THAN 30 PEOPLE PER DAY TO FILL A VARIETY OF ROLES.
When The Lion King made its debut in the Middle East with a historical four-week run of shows at the Etihad Arena, Showforce was appointed by Proactiv Entertainment to assist with the delivery of the globally renowned stage production.
For the set construction phase, eight sound technicians, 10 lighting technicians and 46 stage crew assisted with the load in and build.
Once the show was up and running, Showforce provided 30-plus people a day to fulfill a variety of roles within both the production and wardrobe departments. These included an international crew manager, prop assistants, stagehands, audio and lighting engineers, follow spot operators, dressers, laundry staff, costumiers and a supervisor. “Throughout the world, on
this five-year international tour of The Lion King, the Showforce team are up there with the best logistics we have had,” Proactiv Entertainment said of Showforce’s work on the project.
Showforce Account Manager, Ann Dacumos added: “Being part of the team that delivered the first ever performances of The Lion King in the Middle East is something that the entire Showforce team is extremely proud of. It’s a great example of how we marry our theatrical crewing, wardrobe, prop and technical experience to deliver a turnkey solution for our clients. Having a single point of contact for all its additional personnel requirements was undoubtedly beneficial to Proactiv Entertainment.”
Photo: Showforce www.showforce.com
REGIONAL ROUND-UP 24 ME
Showforce’s Karen Tolentino with The Lion King cast.
PROTEC BOLSTERS MIDDLE EAST TEAM
THE COMPANY ADDS SKILLED INDUSTRY PROFESSIONALS IN LINE WITH ITS RECENT RESTRUCTURING.
Protec has added three new faces to its rapidly growing Middle East team.
Evgenii Shparenkov has joined as Head of Audio, bringing a deep understanding of L-Acoustics systems, DiGiCo consoles, Dante networking and much more.
“Protec has some big plans for the future, and it’s great to be a part of this change,” he commented. “I have lots of ideas on how we can develop our audio department and team. I’m particularly interested in creating immersive experiences and look forward to working on some challenging creative projects.”
The company has also welcomed Gintas Valuntonis, Technical Project Manager with a specialist background in lighting design.
“Joining Protec is a terrific opportunity to contribute to a forward-thinking company with
a young leadership team,” he stated. “I bring the right experience and knowledge to help move the company in the direction it wants to go. We are in a great position to deliver any type of event, from major concerts to global congresses. With one of the bestequipped warehouses in the region, particularly in lighting, and a formidable team we are ready to help our clients deliver world-class events.”
Finally, heading up the video department is Yevgeniy Karyagin. “Having followed Protec’s work for many years, I have seen them deliver some inspiring jobs,” he commented. “I am extremely excited to lead the video team in this new chapter for Protec. Every event is unique and challenging, and we are here to make it unforgettable.”
Photos: Protec www.protecevents.com
REGIONAL ROUND-UP 25 ME
HOD Audio, Evgenii Shparenkov; Technical Project Manager, Gintas Valuntonis; HOD Video, Yevgeniy Karyagin.
FLOW SOLUTIONS INVESTS IN GREEN TECH
HYDROGEN GENERATORS ARE DEPLOYED FOR THE FIRST TIME AT A
SPORTING EVENT IN THE REGION AT THE DUBAI WORLD TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP 2022.
FLOW SOLUTIONS (part of GL Events Group in the Middle East) is continuing its investment into green technology, purchasing two hydrogen-powered generators, which were recently deployed at the Dubai World Tour Championship 2022 to power the 16th hospitality chalet at the event – marking the first time this technology has been used at a sporting event in the region.
“T he deployment of the H2 sets at DPWTC was a great success,” said Jonathan Calvert - Managing Director, FLOW SOLUTIONS. “We provided the 16th hospitality structure which included the AC, lighting, kitchen and scoreboard via two synchronised hydrogen fuel cells that worked without any issues. As the product provides zero noise and are visually pleasing, the
tour allowed them to be visible on course. It was great to see the interest they created and were a great discussion piece with the patrons.”
FLOW is continually looking to improve its green offering, from energy-saving HVAC equipment to the newest and cleanest powerproducing equipment. “H2 is the only realistic alternative for large power when considering zero carbon emissions,” Calvert commented.
“T he investment into being the first to provide H2 to event site establishes FLOW/GL as a market leader in the pursuit of genuine and practical green energy.”
As well as more H2 generators, the company is also investing in 100 new generators that will take alternative fuels such as biofuel. “We also have solar and battery technology, which will be
rolled in 2023,” he added. “The future is exciting. We are moving with the times and look forward to providing our technology on the Middle East events market in 2023.”
Photo: FLOW SOLUTIONS www.flowsolutions.me
KV2 COVERS JERASH FESTIVAL
TRIAD LIVE PRODUCTIONS SELECTS A KV2 AUDIO SYSTEM FOR JORDANIAN ARTS AND CULTURE FESTIVAL.
The Jerash Festival for Culture and Arts, traditionally held in July, transforms the ancient Jordanian city of Jerash into one of the world’s liveliest and most spectacular events. In December 2022, after a three-year, pandemicenforced absence, the festival was back in force with an impressive line-up of top regional artists including Tamer Hosny, Marwan Khoury, Asi Hillani, and Rabeh Saqer to name but a few.
For the eighth year running, Amman-based live production specialists, Triad Live Productions was tasked with full audio and lighting production for the event, with a KV2 sound system selected to cover the audio requirements. “The setup this year was a little different,” explained Triad General Manager, Amjad T. Marar.
“In the main 5,000-capacity South Theatre, we were required to install a large truss structure on stage with a height of 16m. Ultimately, that worked to our advantage as we flew a VHD2.0 cabinet left and right at 16m that took care of the upper tier seating; and thanks to its vertical
dispersion of 40°, it also provided perfect coverage all the way down to the bottom of the middle seating section.”
Another pair of VHD2.0s were ground stacked left and right at the front of the stage at a height of 6m – on top of the subs – to cover the lower seating areas. “We deployed a total of eight VHD4.18s and four VHD2.16 ground stacked left and right,” he added. “A double ES1.0 system and four ES2.16s acted as side fills and 20 EX12 stage monitors completed the system.”
For the smaller, 2,000-capacity North Theatre, Triad opted for a double ES1.0 system supplemented by four ES2.16 subwoofers. “The sound we achieved was incredible to say the least,” affirmed Marar. “We’ve been working with KV2 Audio for 15 years now, and we have not had a single complaint from anyone. For my money, these are the best sound systems on the planet.”
Photo: Triad AV
REGIONAL ROUND-UP 26 ME
TOMORROWLAND TERRA SOLIS OPENING PARTY
PROTEC PROVIDES END-TO-END SOLUTION FOR THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE LATEST DESERT DESTINATION CONCEPT BY TOMORROWLAND.
An iconic new Tomorrowland destination set among the rolling dunes on the outskirts of Dubai officially opened its doors with a grand opening party, with Protec – which has delivered multiple Tomorrowland experiences in the UAE – once again entrusted by its client, Envie Events, to supply a turnkey solution.
Project Manager, Pieter Smuts led a team of 25 crew members on the three-day load-in. “As this was a completely new venue which was already up and running with guests, we had to plan carefully to ensure minimal disruption,” he explained. “This included working on a flexible timeline, minimising noise disturbance and working very discreetly and tidily. We created as much as possible in our scenic warehouse offsite, which helped minimise disturbances.”
Smuts recalled the unusual placement of the VIP bays, behind the DJ booth. “That was
something different and had to be accounted for with the audio design,” he said. “We also had Absen PL series LED panels placed in custom balustrades in front of these VIP bays, which was unique and an interesting element. As with all new venues, establishing access to certain areas like the rooftops could have been a challenge, but with the help of our rigging department’s expertise, we overcame that quickly. Our guys showed up looking neat, and in uniform, which helped maintain our professional appearance and that of the venue in front of guests.”
The brief included a heavy lighting requirement with the lighting design provided by Maarten Pitteurs of Tomorrowland. Protec provided 32 Claypaky Sharpy Plus, 22 A.leda B-EYE K10, 16 A.leda B-EYE K20, 48 Robe Pointe, 32 SGM Q-7, and 76 P-2 fixtures, as well as four FQ100 fog generators and two Stadium Hazers.
Two MA Lighting grandMA2 Full Size consoles were provided for control, while networking solutions included Luminex GigaCore 16FRO, Neutrik Fibre Optic, and MA Lighting network.
Miguel Paris, HOD, praised his lighting team. “They were amazing in how they worked together as a team, quickly and cleanly, overcoming short lead times and last-minute design changes,” he commented. “You can see the benefit of their long experience working together. The feedback was all very positive. The LD was very happy with the outcome of the setup and the show. His design looked great.”
According to Protec’s new HOD of Audio, Evgenii Shparenkov, particular attention needed to be paid to the bass formation. “We needed to provide even coverage for the audience in front of the DJ, provide additional coverage for the VIP areas (backfills) for each of the eight sectors
REGIONAL ROUND-UP 28 ME
and eliminate low-frequency SPL from the PA subwoofers in the DJ booth as they were 1m apart,” he explained.
“We could not raise the PA from the ground and very low sight levels of the PA were required and had to be considered in the design. For dance music, the foundation is a deep and pronounced low frequency, so one of the main challenges was to design the sub-array in such a limited space.”
Shparenkov selected a cardioid arc of 14 L-Acoustics SB28 as a solution, deploying a K2 system in four ground stacks, each with three speakers. Two main ground stacks were placed left and right of the DJ booth on top of three SB28 subwoofers.
“Outfills were placed further left and right and elevated a bit higher back in the amphitheatre,” he added. “To fill the gap between the main LR, we placed four Kara on each pair of SB28 in reversed stereo. For the VIP coverage, we used 12 coaxial speakers, each time aligned to match backfire from the mains. For DJ booth monitors, we used two SB18 behind the DJ and two 115XT HiQ as stereo.”
Pieter Smuts commended the crew, the client, and the venue. “We delivered this job in a very short turnaround time thanks to our large
inventory and the responsiveness of our team. Once again, our crew were very flexible and always willing to go the extra mile. Terra Solis really is an oasis in the desert and it was a very pleasant environment to work in. The client was very hands-on, and any changes could be made quickly. We were supported 100%. The show was a blazing success.”
Barry Pavic, founder of Envie Events, echoed Smuts’ sentiments. “For high-profile events, such as the launch of a Tomorrowland destination like Terra Solis, it is important to place your trust in only the most reliable, experienced suppliers,” he commented. “First impressions matter, so the opening night was a launch event that had to be delivered at a global level.
“Our experience with Protec has always been consistently excellent. Their accommodating, flexible team and large inventory allowed us to adapt the design right up to the end. Experienced partners like Protec make planning events like this much easier, especially with condensed lead times. They were always at the end of the phone and supported us fully. Each member of the team went above and beyond to make this event the resounding success it was.”
REGIONAL ROUND-UP 29 ME
TECH PROFILE 30 ME
AN ALL-STAR CAST AND CREW COME TOGETHER TO DELIVER A MAMMOTH EVENT THAT IS A TOUCHSTONE FOR THE BURGEONING SAUDI ARABIAN EVENTS INDUSTRY.
TECH PROFILE 31 ME
In the space of just over three years since the first edition of its flagship festival, SOUNDSTORM, MDLBEAST has experienced a meteoric rise, growing rapidly into a multifaceted music entertainment company that is a major force in the development of the Saudi Arabian live events industry. The third edition of SOUNDSTORM, which took place in December 2022, was the biggest yet, attracting more than 600,000 music fans for a threeday extravaganza headlined by a catalogue of global superstars, including Bruno Mars, Swedish House Mafia, Post Malone, DJ Khaled, and David Guetta.
With seven stages spread across a massive 5.5 sq km purpose-built festival site, SOUNDSTORM is a festival on a mammoth scale – a fact that became painfully apparent as we dashed from stage to stage the day before opening, checking in with some of the key figures from the various production teams working on the event, all while gradually burning to a crisp in the afternoon sun.
One man who certainly has no problem navigating his way around the vast festival site is
MDLBEAST’s Executive Director of Events, Michael ‘Curly’ Jobson. While he was understandably tied up with the huge task of overseeing the general running of the festival during our visit, Curly took some time out of his busy schedule to catch up with TPMEA once the dust had settled.
“It’s mind-boggling how big and productionintensive it is,” he reflected, looking back on the project. “All the planning and the learnings from 2021 came together. The key thing is the customer journey; we learned so much about our customer and what they want in a festival. We are immensely proud of what we produced.”
A 40 -year veteran of concert production, there’s not much that Curly hasn’t come across in his time in the industry. However, even he was taken aback by the sheer scale of SOUNDSTORM. “The movement of people, traffic flow, parking, security, accessibility to the venue… all these factors needed to be carefully considered before we even started talking about producing the show,” he recalled. “I showed up here in 2020 and, not being from the festival world, I had to learn very quickly. I applied the same logic I have applied to everything else I’ve ever done in my
career, which is ‘if you don’t know how to do it, ask somebody’.”
With the backing of the MDLBEAST leadership – “Ramadan [Alharatani, CEO] and Talal [Albahiti, COO] give me endless support” – Curly set about assembling a team capable of delivering the colossal production. “I’ve called upon some incredible people along the way, who helped bring me to an understanding of how to produce an event of this nature,” he said.
One of the many “incredible people” who were integral to the festival’s success is Festival Director, Matt Richman of productionglue, a TAIT company. “Without Matt, I’d be going nowhere fast,” Curly smiled. “We’re both from the same world and have a clear understanding of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We’ve dovetailed very nicely.”
Also speaking to TPMEA after the event, Richman outlined the enormity of the task. “This is a massive endeavour that comes imbued with both logistical and operational challenges as we coordinate multinational teams,” he commented. “We begin preparation over a year in advance, with crews on the ground throughout the year
TECH PROFILE 32 ME
WWW.TPiAWARDS.COM Sponsored by Awards Suppliers Supported by Headline Sponsor Bar Sponsor CELEBRATING THE GLOBAL TOURING COMMUNITY ON 27 FEBRUARY
working to ensure that we are ready for opening day. Our team starts with a set of core planning members and evolves to comprise over 150 on the ground, not including the 10,000-plus staff and crew needed during show days to support the patron experience.”
The Festival Director pointed to an “unmatched level of precision” required to execute the event to the required standard. “That is why we have brought back a lot of familiar names and companies with international expertise and festival experience, including: Special Projects, PRG, MTD, Silent House, ER Productions, Cassius Creative, Clair Global, TAIT, Ginger Owl, ESM, and Safe Events, among many others,” he stated. “These partners are best in class at what they do and helped to ensure that SOUNDSTORM could light up the night skies and break new records in pyrotechnics, as well as deliver an unparalleled guest experience that kept attendees clamouring for more.”
MDLBEAST is aiming to build a talent infrastructure within Saudi Arabia, providing opportunities for homegrown companies and Saudis to shine on the global stage. “It is also our
long-term goal to employ local KSA companies that are continuing to evolve,” Richman said. “We continue to evaluate all suppliers’ performance against festival metrics, and we look for the best and brightest talent to fulfil our suite of suppliers across numerous industries.”
Curly also added his two pence about Saudisation. “We’ve got a government mandate that the companies we use must register in KSA, have equipment in country, and be training Saudis to be part of the industry,” he explained. “I told every international vendor we used in the first year that they had two years to be registered and operational in the country with warehouses, crew, training programmes – everything in place – and I’m happy to say, we’re there. I feel incredibly proud to have got in at the forefront of the formation of an industry.”
‘HAPPY, HEALTHY, AND INFORMED’
A major feature of this year’s festival and a new addition to the SOUNDSTORM site was an elevated walkway, which enabled top-tier ticketholders to circumnavigate the entire festival above the crowds at ground level. “The inclusion
of the VIB [Very Important Beast] Walkway added another dimension to this festival, offering stellar views of performances, premium areas to lounge, and providing attendees with a whole new perspective of the festival,” Richman said.
“T he halo around our central gathering place – called MDLTOWN – was particularly impressive, as you navigated this circular area looking down at the green spaces that surrounded the projection-mapped MDLBEAST logo,” he added, noting that in all, there was an impressive 62,000 sq m of green space “where guests could kick back, enjoy a bite, and relax with friends” within the festival grounds.
Cole Griswold, Project Lead for productionglue, added more detail on the reasoning behind the introduction of the walkway system. “The walkways were engineered with two main purposes,” he revealed.
“T he first was to allow reduced patron access and thus less dense crowding while exploring the festival. The second was to implement our power, water, and sewage connections through the walkway structure, therefore reducing the need for trenching across the site.” The walkways
TECH PROFILE 34 ME
Lusail stadium QWC 2022 Riyadh
United Arab Emirates Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Spain Oman Qatar India Singapore Tel: +971 4 3386835 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.mediaproav.com
Season opening ceremony
weren’t the only change to the site, as Griswold explained. “We also went bigger, increasing the footprint by 30% and adding new premium-level offerings,” he noted. “Additionally, we expanded the parking capacity, building new parking lots and increased access for attendees by establishing new entry points into the festival.”
There was also an increased focus on ensuring that all attendees could say connected. “Being able to share this FOMO-inducing experience with others was a hugely important aspect of this festival,” Griswold told TPMEA. “To ensure that guests had ample connectivity out in the desert, we installed over 37,000m of tactical fibre, 152,400m of raw CAT5, 480 Ethernet hardlines, and 980 wireless access points (2.4Ghz, 5Ghz, and 6Ghz) paired with 4G LTE and 5G cellular, increasing the number of cellular towers by 10 across our parking lots and site.”
Clair Global was responsible for all the IT infrastructure throughout the site, which took a team of 28 crew four months to install. The company also supplied the extensive radio system for the event, which comprised 2,100 radios, two fixed dispatch consoles and one remote console, handling almost 200,000 radio calls during the three show days alone.
Sustainability was high on the agenda, with several initiatives to aid in that respect,
including the 1,300 shipping containers, which were utilised as building blocks for all four of the UNDERGROUND stages and various other infrastructure needs across site.
“All the palm trees were upcycled from palm farms through a preservation process, allowing them to be used for years to come,” Griswold highlighted. “We also had eight water refill stations positioned around the site and sold reusable bottles at our merchandise outlets.”
The complete water infrastructure for the event was once again provided by MTD. Besides taking care of the drinking framework at the world’s biggest festival overlay, MTD also premiered its new wastewater treatment unit, the black label, which purifies wastewater to the extent that it can be re-used for watering the plants and cleaning.
Byrne Equipment Rental provided 250 ablution units in a variety of configurations, including regular male and female ablutions as well as 38 bespoke VIP units, along with water and waste management. The company also provided 150 temporary buildings utilised as office cabins, and 80 generators, ranging from 30kVa to 250kVa.
For productionglue’s Griswold, the “sheer scale” of the festival is “undoubtedly the biggest challenge we face”. He commented: “We employ
over 300 different suppliers from across the globe who are experts in their field. The co-ordination of our crew operations is a massive undertaking, from logistical flight and ground transport to hospitality in accommodations and meals. It is our goal to ensure each crew member has the essentials needed to come to site everyday happy, healthy, and informed.”
‘RAISING THE BAR’
Al Laith has been involved with SOUNDSTORM since the event’s inception. “This year Al Laith had approximately 180 personnel constructing structures over a three-month period,” said Al Laith CEO, Michael Clark. “Our scope was to engineer, procure and construct the DOWN BEAST venue including staging, LED support, PA cantilevers, FOH, and the conclave structure, which allowed for better stage viewing.”
Al L aith was also contracted to engineer, procure, and construct a variety of complex structures across the entire site, which included all the main entrances as well as all the ramps and bridges for road crossings and service lanes. “Some of these bridges were 40m wide and over 100m long, creating some technical, engineering and construction challenges for our team,” Clark recalled. Al Laith also engineered, procured, and constructed the staging and LED supports inside
TECH PROFILE 36 ME
the DANCE BEAST venue as well as provided support across the site with PA towers, lighting towers, electric golf buggies and electric offroad vehicles through its plant and machinery rentals division. “MDLBEAST is raising the bar when it comes to size and standards for concert festivals,” Clark added. “We are humbled to be one of the selected companies that is entrusted by MDLBEAST and productionglue to undertake such a flagship project and it is an honour we take very seriously.”
Ag greko also played a pivotal role in the event, supplying all stage technical power; power and secondary distribution to the VIB Suite and Terrace; power and secondary to all stage areas’ BOH cabins and artist lounges; and power to the event operations centre, suppliers’ compound, and crew catering areas.
“We had 117 generators totalling around 36 mVa of power, with more than 125km of mains cables and a further 300km of secondary cables,” stated Aggreko’s Imran Khan. “It was a pleasure to see all the different suppliers and technical companies from different parts of the world come together to create this amazing event.”
Also returning to the SOUNDSTORM fold was Event Lab, which provided a guest service
solution for the second year in a row. The company deployed a total of 570 staff, divided between ushers, VIB staff, runners, lost and found, information booths, and several other key positions around the site.
Ro ck-It Global was entrusted with the massive task of delivering the huge quantities of freight required for a show of this scale. “We relished the opportunity to work on this project with some of the best suppliers in the live touring industry, under some of the most demanding circumstances the industry has seen in modern times,” said Rock-It Global Managing Director, Chris Palmer.
The company delivered approximately 225 40ft ocean containers, 300,000kg of airfreight, and 200 trucks – including around 35,000 litres of dangerous goods related to the vast pyrotechnic part of the show.
“T he location, immense size of the production and complex coordination efforts with vendors and suppliers worldwide, coupled with the transportation capacity issues that have made 2022 additionally onerous meant that this was a project that demanded months of planning and a large team of experts from both Rock-it Global and our partners in Saudi Arabia, SAL,” he
continued. “Rock-it Global has been supporting live events in KSA for several years, with this being the pinnacle, so it was very important that we put a strong team together – and we utilised our global network of offices and staff to ensure expertise across the board, bringing staff together from five continents to support the operation, both in KSA and in our own offices,” he added. “Rock-It Global is proud to be part of the positive transformation taking place in KSA with our partners SAL, and it has been a true privilege to work on this project with everyone involved.”
‘A ONE-STOP SHOP’
Much of the behind-the-scenes logistics work on SOUNDSTORM was handled by Ginger Owl (GO), with the company managing six departments –Accreditation, Artist Liaison, Event Technology, Media and Influencer Liaison, Staff Logistics, and Vendor Support.
“T he team’s primary focus is getting staff and artists to the event site,” began GO’s Nancy Skipper. “The Staff Logistics team manages every aspect of travel – including visas, flights, hotel and compound accommodation and ground transport, along with the 24-hour online chat support function operated by our onsite Vendor www.coloursound.com
TECH PROFILE 37 ME
Equipment Hire Specialists for Live Events in Saudi Arabia , UK and USA Largest rental stock of lighting, video and rigging in western KSA 34 years experience
Support team, which we believe is unique to the industry. This service allows anyone with access to the Crew Hub to ask questions and find answers for any query or need as they prepare to travel or while they are on site.”
GO’s Artist Liaison team operated in the same way, completing the visas, artist advance, hotels, and ground transport for 198 artist groups. The team was also on hand to manage on-site requirements such as dressing rooms, riders, and transfers to stage, as well as managing a vast transport fleet, which included four helicopters, and coordinated 1,972 vehicle transfers.
All crewmembers were provided access to an online Crew Hub, which was developed by GO’s in-house technology development team. “It is a one-stop shop for crewmembers to manage all their accreditation, flights, visas, accommodation information, book on-site assets, access key event documents and additional resources, plus lots more,” Skipper explained.
Built in the space of three months, the system was utilised by over 30,000 crewmembers and provided live support
communication with GO’s Vendor Support team, the ability to download ‘collection tickets’ for accreditation, and book the flights via an API link with Concur Solutions.
“T he mobile app and ‘crew feed’ allowed Festival Management to share important updates via push notifications in real-time to all crew on site,” Skipper furthered. “The app became the single source of truth for crew to receive the essential travel documents and information needed for their time at the festival.”
Sk ipper described “the size and scale” of the event as the biggest challenge. “Being ahead of the game on incoming groups and making sure all areas of their needs are met, particularly ensuring that all staff and artist visas are completed and available on time, is quite a task, as is finding suitable accommodation for them all,” she recalled.
“T he Crew Hub was a great help with the visas – and teamwork between the GO, productionglue and TAG teams helped us rationalise the accommodation. Having worked in the region for some time now and working
on many of MDLBEAST’s other projects, we have good relationships with the local properties and can work together with them to secure the rooms needed.”
The teamwork on design, development, implementation, and adoption of the Crew Hub was a source of pride for Skipper. “This required input from MDLBEAST, productionglue, TAG, Special Projects as well as the imagination and creativity of the GO Event Technology team along with their developers,” she explained. “Delivering the project from conception to implementation in such a short timeframe and seeing it go on to become a great success for the event and the users is something we’re all truly proud of – and doing this with a female-led directorship and diverse management team was a great achievement for the company.”
TAG left nothing to chance when it came to ensuring that everyone was where they needed to be and arrived in comfort. “Our role comprised everything from a macro level down to a micro level,” stated TAG’s Fahim Jalali. “To process the enormous amount of flight and accommodation
TECH PROFILE 38 ME
Robe Forte grandMA3 Series
Martin MAC Ultra Wash
Martin MAC Ultra Performance
arrangements required for a festival of this size and to ensure the smallest details were taken care of without ever dropping the ball is an outstanding effort.”
The headline-grabbing star attraction and home to festival headliners, the BIG BEAST stage was once again the centre of attention. While the stage retained its familiar angular aesthetic from the previous year and was again clad in thousands of lighting fixtures and a continuous run of LED, this year a new proscenium arch was added to the design to accommodate the live acts included in the line-up, such as Bruno Mars and Post Malone.
PRG reprised its role, providing a full 360° technical delivery on the BIG BEAST stage. The supply included a vast lighting inventory of over 2,500 IP-rated fixtures; more than 400 L-Acoustics cabinets throughout the stage and delay towers, as well as DiGiCo consoles and FOH and monitors; and all LED, cameras, servers, and video control.
“T he stage has broken world records thanks to the vast size and ambition of the technical design, and this requires world-class planning in every single department the project touches, from logistics and project planning to our
crewing and event services,” commented Richard Gorrod, PRG’s Lighting Production Manager for the event.
Yvonne Donnelly Smith, Director of Sales, PRG UK, added: “This is the third year that PRG has collaborated with the festival teams on this stage. With this experience, the PRG team can anticipate the inevitable curve balls that a largescale outdoor site with constantly changing acts, band riders, and climate may throw our way. Our ability to foresee this and arrive with contingency planning and solutions means that the team are more than prepared to tackle this challenge.”
The company also provided a projection solution for the MDLBEAST statue in MDLTOWN. In all, a staggering 284 tonnes of equipment was deployed using 500 hoists and 3,800m of truss, which was all supplied, installed and managed by PRG’s rigging team.
Calling on a 150-strong army of crew drawn from across PRG’s EMEA network, the company again assembled its global forces to deliver this huge project, with thousands of man days put into the planning, build, show days and load-out.
“We’re an ideal partner because we have a regional presence,” commented Donnelly Smith. “In delivering the show, we take elements from all our different depots. We create a bespoke team for a bespoke project. Drawing upon Team PRG’s
breadth of expertise and wealth of resources, this team brings huge added value to the festival and its production team.”
‘EXPERTS IN THEIR FIELDS’
MediaPro International was another returning supplier, this year providing turnkey technical solutions for the DANCE BEAST and DOWN BEAST stages, the VIB Polygon stage [which you can read more about in TPMEA #39], as well as environmental lighting throughout the site, and the site-wide PA, which was used to broadcast general announcements and audio from some of the festival’s stages.
The main change to MediaPro’s brief this year was a new design for the DANCE BEAST stage, conceived by Alex Reardon of Silent House. MediaPro COO, Shaam Pudaruth talked TPMEA through the creative process. “This year’s design from Silent House was very interesting technically,” he commented. “The stage elements in the roof required dedicated attention because they were automated on Kinesys hoists. It took quite a few pre-production meetings and discussions to go from the first renders and technical drawings to having the final approved Vectorworks file of the stage.”
With several stakeholders on the DANCE BEAST alone, communication was key to
TECH PROFILE 40 ME
XP MUSIC FUTURES
Running from 28-30 November in the days prior to SOUNDSTORM, XP Music Futures saw the region’s music community assemble in Riyadh’s Jax District for three days of captivating sessions, immersive activations, diverse speakers, workshops and, of course, a hefty dose of partying after dark.
Launched in December 2021, XP is built on four pillars which, according to MDLBEAST, “are the cornerstones of who we are, what we believe in, and our roadmap for the future of music”. The first pillar, ‘talent’, is all about focusing on the people that make the industry possible; ‘scene’ meanwhile is focused on growing the audience organically to create a robust music economy; ‘impact’ is all about empowering and enabling the Saudi Arabian scene through the application of knowledge creation; while ‘innovation’ taps into all the latest developments in the creative tech space, from NFTs to Web3.
Highlights from this year’s conference included keynote speaker Mathew Knowles;
a fireside chat with David Guetta; Wellness for the Constantly Creative with Hardwell; Afrojack’s Wall Camp; and How Virtual Artists and Beings Change the Game in the AI-Driven Metaverse, delivered by Sensorium’s Art Director & Deputy CEO Sasha Tityanko as well as incognito virtual artist SVORA.
TECH PROFILE 41 ME
ensuring a successful delivery. “As we all plug into each other, multiple discussions with the stakeholders were vital, from the SFX provider to the scaffolding company to the venue’s structural engineers. As a result, we were able to load in smoothly as soon as boots hit the ground,” Pudaruth said. “We are so fortunate to be able to work with experts such as Alex Reardon from Silent House, Trevor Burk from Visual Noise, Andy Head from MDLBEAST, and Zach Wright from productionglue. Each of us understands the task at hand and knows how to accomplish it.”
The DOWN BEAST stage was designed by Cassius Creative and remained almost exactly the same as the previous year, with a giant 73m by 11m LED wall the main feature.
“We went through the whole design process again with Dan Hill and Sam Anderson from Cassius, under the supervision of Andy Head, to ensure that everything would fit into place,” Pudaruth recalled. “The process was an easy one as well as the setup. In addition to the audio, lighting, video, and rigging, we also supplied backline for a few of the performers, including Jorja Smith and Michael Kiwanuka.” According
to Pudaruth, one of the biggest challenges was the massive delivery of environmental lighting, which comprised more than 2,500 fixtures, along with 5km of festoon lights deployed throughout the site. The supply included a combination of Martin MAC Auras and MAC Quantums, Robe Spiiders, several types of Krypton wash fixtures and battens, MI Bars controlled through Madrix, as well as 4-Lite LED and RGB Molefays, and five MA Lighting grandMA3 consoles.
“I am extremely proud of the MediaPro team who worked on the project over the past few months,” Pudaruth stated, placing on record his appreciation for at least two dozen key members of the team “without whom this project would not have been possible”. He added: “This project was a collaborative effort between so many good people, and I would like to especially thank Michael Jobson and Matt Richman for trusting us with it. What they are doing in Saudi Arabia is incredible. I can only imagine what they will accomplish in the future.”
The COO concluded by stating his ambitions for MediaPro’s future in the Kingdom. “We understood the potential of this market a long
time ago, and MediaPro has had offices in the country since 2017. As part of our efforts to manage shows at the same level as international shows, we have invested a great deal of equipment into KSA. Our local team also includes experts in their fields from all over the world. Likewise, we are identifying Saudi nationals and local resources to be added to our team. We currently have operations in Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam, and as part of our growth strategy, we plan to expand our operations to additional cities in Saudi Arabia to meet market demands.”
‘THE CREATION OF AN INDUSTRY’
The UNDERGROUND area comprised four main stages – each of which were designed by Sam Tozer of Vision Factory – as well as the Polygon stage, which was reserved for VIB ticketholders. All the UG stages were created using shipping containers, which were arranged in various formations to produce designs that were starkly different, yet all followed the industrial, underground rave theme.
UG1 saw the containers jutting out above the stage to form a makeshift roof structure, with
TECH PROFILE 42 ME
MTD, TRANSPARANT AS WATER
THROUGH SHARING OUR KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERTISE, WHEN IT COMES TO WATER, WE WORK TOGETHER WITH YOU TO CREATE A SUSTAINABLE EVENT.
WE ARE YOUR WATER PARTNER WE ARE MTD
a large central LED screen used as a backdrop to the stage and the PA flown on cranes either side. UG2 was centred around an impressive central LED monolith with a pronounced crack running down its centre. UG3 was an indoor stage completely surrounded by mirrors, creating a seemingly endless environment for lighting beams to bounce off. UG4 meanwhile was an in-the-round multi-level auditorium featuring VIB Booths and an exclusive Royal Box.
Audio for each of the four main UG stages was supplied by Eighth Day Sound. A total of 334 d&b audiotechnik loudspeakers were deployed across the stages, all powered by D80 amplification, with 24 Clair CO-10s and 16 CP-218s used for DJ monitors.
Lighting, video, and rigging was provided by Colour Sound Experiment, which also supplied architectural lighting for the external space around the UNDERGROUND area, including the VIB Walkways, and provided a central control cabin to manage everything off a single network.
“Our objective was to make the biggest rave bigger and better,” explained Colour Sound Experiment’s Haydn Cruickshank. “We aimed to integrate all the areas together and to use the knowledge gained from working on last year’s festival to create efficiencies where possible.”
This year’s scope provided the Colour Sound team with an opportunity to integrate the four stage interiors with the environmental lighting, which was designed by Stuart Pring. TPMEA grabbed a few minutes with Pring during the festival, who explained a bit more about how he approached the task of lighting “everything that’s not a stage”. The main challenge, he said, was ensuring that both the elevated walkway and ground levels were well lit. “Lighting a site on two levels added a whole new dimension to the task, but it also provided opportunities and plenty of natural positions to light from, so we could use the walkway to fire down onto ground level.”
Pring explained that the environmental lighting wasn’t just functional – it needed to
create a “certain vibe” throughout the festival. “The idea is that it’s like a big club, so we didn’t want to put in bright white light everywhere,” he stated. “I want to make it feel like you’ve just walked into the biggest, best party in the world.”
A variety of moving head fixtures were selected, with the new IP-rated Martin MAC Aura XIP, supplied by Colour Sound Experiment, a feature of the UG space. “The fact that the XIP is IP-rated but still light and easy to handle has meant we’ve been able to hang them with minimal infrastructure,” Pring said. “They have performed well and I’m looking forward to seeing what else they can do in other settings.”
One of the major issues on a site this size – especially over two levels – is that it’s impossible to have eyes on all the lights all the time. To combat this, the team came up with the ingenious solution of running everything off a laptop via Wi-Fi. “All the lights on site can be controlled instantly from the iPad,” he shared. “This was really the only sensible choice because
TECH PROFILE 44 ME
of the scale. It’s a super simple solution, but it’s been working for us very well.”
For Colour Sound’s Cruickshank, the main challenge lay in marrying up Pring’s and Tozer’s environmental and stage designs with the existing structures and working with the engineers to make them work together. “None of the structures are ‘regular stages’, so there is a lot of custom fabrication and associated engineering sign off to get everything in the right place and structurally sound,” he commented. “Networking everything together to a central lighting and video control point was probably the greatest achievement; although we’ve done this previously on festival sites, this was a big one!”
Colour Sound has gone all-in on Saudi Arabia, opening a 3,000 sq m facility in Jeddah and stocking it with large quantities of brand-new, premium equipment. “I like to think we have led the field here,” Cruickshank said. “We aren’t just dumping old kit over here and we aren’t servicing Saudi from Dubai. We’re genuinely trying to build
a self-sustaining operation, and hopefully we’re training local staff on how to be good roadies.”
One thing that’s important to note is that SOUNDSTORM wasn’t the only MDLBEAST event taking place in Q4 2022. While the festival was going on, the company was also busy delivering its first major event outside the Kingdom, MDLBEAST Presents Aravia – 28 nights of postmatch entertainment at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Then, the week after SOUNDSTORM, the party rolled onto the streets of Jeddah for Balad Beast. Plus, in the three days leading up to the festival, MDLBEAST also put on its XP Music Futures conference, which provided workshops, panel discussions and late-night parties.
As a s tandalone festival and a display of technical excellence, there’s no doubt that SOUNDSTORM is a truly world-class event. However, after spending time in Saudi Arabia, witnessing the festival and speaking to some of the people who made it happen, the biggest takeaway that we at TPMEA had, was that there’s
a bigger goal here: the building of a brand-new industry that can support a country with massive ambitions – and the resources to achieve them.
“It’s not really about SOUNDSTORM 2022,” Curly concluded. “It’s about building the live events industry – promoters, venues, concert production, all the things that go with it. This is about the creation of an industry across the board, and we’re at the sharp end of it.”
TECH PROFILE 45 ME
FAST SETUP? SMALL CREW?
USE THE MLT 2 PRE RIG TRUSS!
Hermann the German says
BENEFIT FROM OUR GERMAN
Reduce setup and dismantling times drastically
Handling with 1 person only
Create curved truss systems without extra components
PRE RIG TRUSS GERMAN EFFICIENCY www.h-of.de @hofalutec
UAE 51ST NATIONAL DAY CELEBRATION
THE UAE CELEBRATES NATIONAL DAY IN TYPICALLY DAZZLING FASHION, WITH A SPECTACULAR CEREMONY THAT PROVES WORLD-CLASS EVENTS ARE WELL WITHIN THE GRASP OF THE COUNTRY’S LOCAL SUPPLIERS.
TECH PROFILE 46 ME
TECH PROFILE 47 ME
One of the great things about UAE National Day is that you never know what you’re going to get; the only thing that is for certain is that it won’t be an understated affair. For the country’s 51st National Day on 2 December 2022, the National Projects Office once again wanted to make a major statement, and it commissioned the Abu Dhabi office of creative agency, People, which worked alongside Creative Director, Es Devlin, to produce a spectacular ceremony at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC).
With Devlin’s previous UAE National Day creations including a giant rotating cube in the Abu Dhabi mangroves for the 49th National Day and a gargantuan seed-shaped structure floating above Hatta Dam for the 50th, producing something that would live up to previous years was far from an easy task. The 51st National Day celebration took the form of a 108m-long ‘time tunnel’ sandwiched in between two portals, with one end representing the past and one the future. Featuring 35 Emirati musicians, 67 members of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and an extensive cast of over 3,000, the show premiered to an invited VIP audience on 2 December, before being played out to the public for a further nine days consecutively.
The performance looked back on the first half a century of life in the UAE, before looking forward to what may lie ahead for the country in the next 50 years, touching on subjects that
are cornerstones of the UAE’s ethos, such as sustainability, connectivity and even space exploration. “What the show illustrates is that while the UAE is accelerating at rapid pace, the core values remain strong,” explained People Project and Marketing Director, Rachel Sweeney. “While the UAE is blasting off into space, tradition and heritage are still at the forefront and run through everything the country does.”
People Head of Major Projects, William Jensen, gave TPMEA the lowdown on how the concept was formed and developed. “Es Devlin and her studio was again behind the creative vision; our role was to manage that creative process and help to bring the project through to realisation, from the idea-generating sessions for the theme, through to the narrative and how that turns into a design,” he explained.
People has worked on UAE National Day for the past three years in different capacities, but this year was the first that it has been the lead producer – something that brings a great sense of pride for Jensen. “National Day has historically been produced by international agencies, so, to be entrusted with the project as a homegrown UAE-based company is incredibly satisfying,” he shared, noting that there was a workforce of around 280 people on site – over 70% of which are UAE residents.
“It’s been such a pleasure to be able to handle the project in its entirety and bring in local
teams and suppliers who we know and trust,” he added. “We believe it’s the right thing to do to use as much locally as possible. As we’ve proved with this project, you certainly don’t need to ship in lots of talent and resources to deliver a worldclass show in the UAE. When we deliver shows like this using mostly local resources, we leave a legacy behind, boost the local economy and support the community.”
As well as supporting the local economy, there was also a major focus on sustainability – both in the show’s content and the approach taken behind the scenes. This was on display in various forms, with real objects used rather than props being manufactured from scratch, real trees in the show being replanted, and props and costumes designed and made locally and repurposed wherever possible.
In tandem to building the show, People also oversaw the construction and fitout of four different majlises for invited guests, managing the full front of house guest experience and building retail units to sell local products. “It was a full 360° approach covering every single touchpoint from the moment the guests arrive to the moment they depart,” Sweeney noted.
ShowTex Middle East once again provided a huge amount of its custom printed fabrics for the site. All visitors were welcomed through a striking tunnel made of multi-layered print fabrics and frames. “Even the buggies had a dedicated
TECH PROFILE 48 ME
Ready, Set, Impact.
encore-emea.com Lighting | Audio | Video | Rigging | Power Distribution
Our technical production experts in the Middle East are here to bring your vision to life. Proud to be appointed by People to provide lighting production for The 51st UAE National Day.
Creating engaging event experiences.
entrance filled with layers and layers of UAEthemed prints,” recalled ShowTex Managing Partner, Sven Peeters.
Back-to-back printed artworks featuring the UAE’s history were visible on banners of blackout fabric, carefully tensioned in aluminium frames to form arches, which displayed a stunning 3D-like image by alternating the blackout material with lighting and prints on see-through sheers. Layer after layer, the setup resulted in an impressive 42m-long entry for the general public as well as a separate Leader’s Entrance tunnel – a staggering 110m long.
The Sheikh and Sheikha’s Majlis was decorated in translucent sheer fabric. “Using both printed and unprinted Voile CS as serene partitions, the large sitting areas could be transformed into relaxing and peaceful spaces,” Peeters explained. A grandstand in the middle of each Majlis featured a freestanding aluminium structure with printed sheers and a projection screen displaying the UAE flag.
Even after the event, the printed artwork formed an impressive expo showcasing the history of the UAE. “The combination of printed blackout fabric and see-through sheers ensured the expo was one to remember,” Peeters said.
Brian Aviso, Sales Manager for ShowTex, added: “Installing 2,500 linear metres of custom-
made aluminium frame with hundreds of layers of blackout prints and printed sheer fabric with different artworks in 10 different site locations within a short timescale was a huge challenge, but we pulled it off with great team coordination.”
‘THE SPIRIT OF DEDICATION’
One of the handful of international suppliers onboard for the project was Wonder Works, which returned to work on its fifth consecutive UAE National Day. “They are long-time collaborators with Es and a company that we have worked with numerous times before, so it was a natural fit,” Jensen noted. “They became a seamless part of the development team and were instrumental in helping us turn Es’s creative thoughts into a reality.”
Wonder Works Co-Founder, Piers Shepperd expanded on the company’s remit. “Our role is to support the creative vision, client and myriad suppliers who all have slightly different requirements – it’s always a fine balancing act,” he explained. “We try to provide a strong foundation in the early stages of planning that as a priority ensures that everybody understands the principal pieces of show architecture required by Es Devlin’s design team.”
Wonder Works’ Lead CAD Designer, Andy Bailey, set out the controlling site dimensions, and
the team then factored in the technical overlay of the designs coming in from Bruno Poet (lighting), Auditoria’s Scott Willsallen (audio), and Anthony Bezencon (video). “People’s technical production team led by Mark Fogwill and Chris Hey were then supported on site by our CAD Designer, Ben O’Neill, who used our Trimble laser scanner to verify any site issues,” Shepperd said. “Ben is used to working alongside production teams to ensure that any last-minute design work and detailing can be delivered where it’s needed – on site.”
One of the largest technical challenges was presented by the overhead LED strips, which spanned the entire length of the cylindrical performance space, enhancing the ‘time tunnel’ illusion. The installation comprised 657 ROE Visual LED strip fixtures totalling 968m, which were suspended from 19 106m-long catenaries, with four 30m-tall towers providing support in the centre of the catenary spans, and over 1,200 tonnes of ballast required to resolve the forces in the system.
This ambitious installation required the combined talents of Cundall, Stage One, Al Laith, VK Exhibition, Creative Technology Middle East, and the People production teams, who worked closely together to ensure it was a success.
“Our first job was to establish the rough order of magnitude of weights needed to be hung from
TECH PROFILE 50
the catenary system so that our engineering team – Rasti Bartek and Danilo Cava from Cundall –could advise on the catenary cable diameters and likely ballast requirements,” Shepperd recalled. “We then worked closely with the team from Stage One to ensure that the concept could be delivered. Once the engineering model was complete, we could then work with Es Devlin’s team to make sure the layout of the LED strips still matched with their overall creative brief.”
Creative Technology Middle East (CTME) supplied a massive 2.2km of ROE Visual LED strip across the project, along with immersive projection and a site-wide video systems solution. Dan Hughes, Senior Project Manager at CTME, commented: “It was an absolute pleasure to work on ND51 this year. Our specialist teams personified the spirit of dedication and teamwork. Thank you to our friends at People for engaging us on such a jaw-dropping event that was truly spectacular.”
Stage One was commissioned to install the long axis steel wire catenaries above the time tunnel that were used to suspend the lighting.
one on each side, which supported a double aluminium box truss that acted as a lintel above the opening,” explained Stage One Managing Director, Tim Leigh. “The box trusses supported the top ‘mohawk’ fin frames and lighting rigs.”
The front and back projection walls comprised steel box framing units with a plywood finish. The steel box framing units were tied together with a circular steel box-truss frame that followed the curvature of the archway and ran down to the ground.
The colossal frames were ground supported, with up to 380 tonnes of concrete ballast per structure, providing resistance to overturning and sliding. The circular doors meanwhile were 12m high and controlled by Stage One’s Qmotion automation software, providing a portal for scenic storytelling.
As ever, timings were tight, and while the number of axes of automation on the show were limited, Leigh described the size and scale of the installation as “significant”.
He added: “The 108m-long catenaries needed to have as little deflection under
masts. There was a lot of build activity on a relatively compact site.”
With precious little time for fabrication in the UK and in support of the general mandate of increasing the local contribution, Stage One looked to others in region for support. “We worked more closely than ever before with suppliers in region and were very grateful for help from VK Exhibition and Al Laith,” Leigh revealed. “Without this reliance on homegrown talent, we would not have been able to deliver this in time. It’s superb to build closer relationships with these organisations and find ways of working together.”
He added: “We are proud to have worked on the past four UAE National Day celebrations. It’s always a privilege to bring ambitious projects to life. We enjoy working in the region and are looking to grow our permanent base out there.”
Al Laith provided the main grandstand, staging and majlis structures, and supplied a vast array of ancillary support equipment for in and around the main arena. In total, more than 100,000 cubic metres of scaffolding was utilised, along with over 30 heavy duty machines.
TECH PROFILE 51
AMAZING STAGE FABRICS IN MOTION T: +971 (0)6 567 9800 // INFO.ME@SHOWTEX.COM // WWW.SHOWTEX.COM
for such an important and flagship project that represents the past, current, and future direction of the UAE,” he added. “To be trusted by the UAE National Day Organising Committee and People is an honour we take very seriously.”
For Wonder Works’ Shepperd, the most pleasing aspect of the project was teamwork on show throughout. “These mega projects are driven by a very experienced and passionate team,” he noted. “Tim Elliott, William Jensen and Mark Fogwill from People worked incredibly hard to pull together a fantastic team of professionals and suppliers – that really helps when the pressure mounts.”
In fact, Shepperd sees this latest project as a continuation of the rapid progression of the industry in the region. “I think there is a real appetite and expectation that the Middle East will continue to deliver high-quality entertainment,” he stated. “There is no doubt in my mind that as the events industry in the region continues to mature, we’re starting to see world-class events being produced and delivered by people and suppliers based mostly in the Middle East. That should be a real source of pride for the region.”
Encore supplied a complete lighting setup, including fixtures, network, control, processing, trackers, wireless DMX, and work lights. “One of our biggest considerations when putting this
project together was to deliver ND51 while still looking after our day-to-day business,” began Encore Project Manager, Riaan Gomes. “With the Middle East having one of the busiest seasons ever, we knew we had to do everything to support our client, People.”
As soon as the Encore team received Lighting Designer, Bruno Poet’s brief, they went to work finding the required fixtures. “Fixtures used on the main show needed to be IP rated and LED based,” Gomes noted. “The RFP shared was great and left very little out in terms of what was required to complete the job.”
Elation Professional fixtures featured heavily on the rig, with Poet specifying 160 Proteus Lucius, 260 Proteus Maximus, 27 Proteus Rayzor 760s, and 28 Proteus Rayzor Blade Ls. These were joined by 102 Ayrton Perseos, 202 GLP impression FR10 Bars, 84 Astera AX2s, and 13 Robe Forte follow spots, each controlled individually from Robe Base Stations.
According to Gomes, the most challenging aspect of the setup was the positioning of the lights around the rim of the portal. “They were all rigged at 90° facing inwards on a custom 2in pipe curved to match the shape of the portal,” he recalled. “It was challenging to get them up there, but once they were in, they looked incredible.”
There was also an extensive prop and set lighting package, including 16 GLP impression S350s, 108 SGM P-6s, 30 ETC Lustr 2s, 24 Elation
Professional KL Panels, 32 Astera AX3s and 32 Titan Tubes, 156 Litecraft AT.10s, and 46 Claypaky Sharpys, as well as 70 City Theatrical Multiverse transceiver nodes and three City Theatrical Multiverse transmitters with six panel antennas.
Control and networking was handled by three MA Lighting grandMA3 full size and four grandMA3 light consoles, with 15 MA3 NPUs and a plethora of Luminex GigaCore switches.
With a huge cast spread over a massive performance area, the production utilised the largest zactrack system ever assembled –featuring 75 tags, 22 anchors, six pucks, and main and back-up PRO servers – to ensure that the show was well lit throughout.
“We installed the anchors at different locations and heights around the grandstand; they needed to be as asymmetrical as possible to give the most accurate results,” Gomes noted. “The tags were placed on all floats, props, and actors. This data was sent to the zactrack PRO servers, which processed it and routed it onto the grandMA3 desks – all with no visible delay.”
While this was Gomes’ first experience of working with a zactrack system, he found it easy to get to grips with. “Associate Lighting Designer, Max Nerula, has been using zactrack for a while and he really knew his way around the system –and the added support from the zactrack team in Austria was a massive help,” he said. “With a show this big, there are so many moving parts,” the PM
TECH PROFILE 52
added, reflecting on the project. “Luckily, I had amazing support. I can’t say enough about the great team I had on ND51 this year; it just proves that anybody can hire the kit, but you need the correct people in the correct positions to make it happen. I’ve worked with some incredible forces over the past few months, and that’s exactly what was needed to pull this off.”
The Organising Committee of the 51 National Day Celebrations comprised: Creative Executive Producer, Rawdha Al Qubasi; Artistic Director, Ayesha Hadhir; Head of Operations, Butti Al Muhairi and Head of Communications, Eisa Alsubousi. Francisco Negrin worked alongside Es Devlin as Co-Creative Director; Gavin Robins and Bryn Walters were Co-Show Directors; Mohammed Al Ahmad was the Composer; Music came courtesy of Al Watan Studio, Musicom and Polyphonia; Content Creation was by Luke Halls Studios; Leigh-Ann Vizer was the Choreographer; and the broadcast was handled by Done+Dusted. Stage FX supplied pyro and special effects; Pitchblack provided drapes; Maestra supplied various scenic elements; and Aggreko once again handled all power requirements.
Auditoria’s Scott Willsallen returned to the UAE National Day fold once again, producing what he described as a “complex” audio system, made so by the “combination of a live orchestra centrally
located in the South grandstand, pre-recorded musical and sound design content, large scenic objects moving through the space and reflective surfaces everywhere”.
In total, 761 L-Acoustics loudspeakers were used to deliver the audio experience, which consisted of a music system, several sound effects systems and a near-field system. “The music system was an arrangement of five arrays of L-Acoustics Kara mounted above the orchestra to service the North grandstand, with an additional pair of Kara arrays to fill the ends of the North grandstand,” Willsallen said. “A pair of Kara arrays were used to reinforce the music to the South grandstand, either side of the orchestra.”
The music system was enhanced with an overhead system of 30 L-Acoustics X8 loudspeakers, which were fed from the spatial room engine in L-ISA. The live orchestra mics were used in the main L-ISA system and the pre-recorded copy of the same orchestra stems were used to create the ambience through the overhead system.
The near-field system consisted of 500 L-Acoustics loudspeakers, a mixture of 5XT and X4i as well as 30 Syva Low. “These were arranged in front and rear systems with loudspeakers on 1m spacings to provide a stereo front and stereo rear for each VIP seat,” Willsallen revealed. “These systems were used to enhance the music, and the rears were particularly effective
in enhancing the reverberation of the orchestra and choir.” The sound effects systems meanwhile consisted of a ground row of 13 X8s either side of the performance area used for sound design content relating to the floor projection, a flown row of 13 A10-WIDE loudspeakers either side used for sound design content relating to the elevated objects and scenery moving through the performance area, and a stereo system of K2 at each portal, which was used for any content that related to the projection on these surfaces.
“T hese portal systems were particularly effective in directing the attention of the audience to a short film playing on one portal while a new scene was entering through the opposite portal,” he noted.
For control, Richard Sharratt operated a mirrored pair of DiGiCo Quantum 7 consoles, with a pair of L-ISA Processor II units, one per console, connected using MADI, and a pair of TiMax SoundHub2 processors. The signal distribution system comprised multiple DiGiCo SD Racks for inputs and various AVB and Optocore network devices distributing the outputs to LA-Racks around the venue. The primary signal distribution was AVB on Luminex network switches with Optocore network devices providing AES/EBU secondary inputs to the amplifiers.
“L-ISA was operated by me; it was the spatial mixing platform for the music and consisted of the main Kara loudspeaker system of five arrays
TECH PROFILE 53
and the overhead loudspeaker system of 30 X8 loudspeakers to provide room simulation,” Willsallen detailed.
“T he spatial fill feature of L-ISA was used to provide signal to the overhead loudspeakers with a greater emphasis on distribution than localisation. We created three room engine presets based on the large warm concert hall preset – each was assigned to a snapshot and used to suit the different compositions throughout the show.”
A dual-engine DiGiCo SD7 operated by Toby Chester and a pair of SD Racks were used to capture the orchestra. The console was located behind the orchestra and provided monitoring for the players via wired and wireless in-ear monitors. Clicks, counts and some pre-recorded content was sent to the orchestra console from the main Ovation playback system.
“A MADI recorder was included in the system to capture the orchestra for backup purposes and refining mixes,” Willsallen added. “A duplicate system was deployed in the rehearsal venue to allow the same console session file to be used and refined throughout the rehearsals. Pro Tools was used as the playback system in the rehearsal venue with the session built by our team and the music editor.”
Simon Sayer and Luis Miranda operated a dual-redundant pair of Merging Technologies Ovation systems. “The system consisted of a purpose-built Windows 10 computer running
Ovation, the Horus audio interface delivering 128-channels via MADI and the Ovation keyboard for each system,” Willsallen commented. “The DiGiCo SD11 console is used for local monitoring for the Ovation operators with a pair of Neumann KH310 loudspeakers.”
The inclusion of a live orchestra added another layer of complexity – albeit nothing that Willsallen and his team hadn’t handled before. “We approached it in a similar fashion to the 47th UAE National Day, by putting a specialist team and system on it,” he revealed. “The team built the sub-mix and monitoring systems for the rehearsal and show venues and worked with the music team and conductor to provide a comfortable environment for the musicians. We invested lots of energy and time in making sure the rehearsal was the same as the show situation, so the players were as familiar as possible when it came to the first run in the show venue.”
Willsallen explained how the tight timescale for construction had a knock-on effect for the audio department. “Agora, our supplier, installed systems as the supporting elements became available, so each day we would get access to a few more speakers and continue our piecemeal commissioning,” he recalled.
“T he tuning and balancing of the total system were only done a couple of days prior to the show once all the construction and installation works had been completed. All contractors worked extremely hard to get their work done
in a cooperative and collaborative way. The collective desire to work together and make it happen was key.”
While fine-tuning, adjusting, and balancing the systems in the virtual environment is a normal process for the Auditoria team, according to Willsallen, the level of accuracy when the systems were translated into the real world was a major source of pride. However, echoing the sentiments from several other departments on the project, what he found most pleasing was “the way our team and the teams from Agora and Clair worked together to deliver the audio and comms for such an extraordinary project”.
‘A SHOW THAT WE CAN ALL BE PROUD OF’
A major feature of ND51 was the 17 floats, which were scenically dressed and carrying various props and performers travelling through the length of the show arena. This brought with it a multitude of technical and operational challenges, which People appointed KB Event to take care of. “Our remit was to examine the options and practicalities for manufacturing multi-trailer floats to a very specific design,” explained KB Event CEO, Stuart McPherson.
The brief stated that the floats were not to be pulled by standard motive units but by vehicles and drivers that would blend in and be “almost invisible”. He added: “The Floats were to present in a ‘road train’ format, with the initial brief having some vehicles as long as 60m under the control
TECH PROFILE 54
of a single driver.” As well as an engineered solution for the floats, People asked KB to design and present a safe and workable method of operation that would allow such specialist vehicles to operate and move within the confines of show site with very limited space.
While in the UAE to complete a recce of the site, KB’s senior projects team met with Dubai-based VK Exhibition to work through a first vehicle and trailer prototype, before advising modifications required to present a stage one working vehicle.
In addition to a dedicated management team to oversee the development from prototype to operational vehicles and trailers, work through rehearsals, then finally deliver the show, KB Event also brought together a team of specialist Drivers, Spotters and Driver Buddies.
Mike Beard led the project management team, with Jim Bruce as his Lead Driver. Beard had a team of experienced KB Event show drivers and worked with local partner Marcel Meyer at EFM Global, who resourced and provided a team of one Manager and 44 Driver Buddies as well as Safety Spotters.
The whole project was a one-off design, developed from the ground up as a custom build.
“Getting the vehicle and trailer design and build correct and fit for purpose in a safe and reliable manner while meeting the requirements of the creative lead of the show was a big challenge,” reflected McPherson.
“T his was multiplied tenfold when it came to operating these unique, very large vehicles in an incredibly tight environment with a cast of hundreds of adults and children riding on, interacting with, and moving around the vehicles in show mode.
“Working closely with VK Exhibition on the design and construction of the vehicles, methodical planning of the method of operation and days and nights of rehearsals – initially just as vehicle operation and then with the crew and cast – ensured a safe and very successful delivery of everything the client desired.”
While he was “very happy” with the design and engineering solution, the most pleasing aspect for McPherson was “the hard work, dedication and professionalism of the Driving teams, Driver Buddies, Safety Spotters and Project Management, who worked tirelessly in pre-production planning, rehearsals and then delivered a flawless show, exactly as planned”. He added: “This isn’t the first time we’ve worked
in the UAE, and it was a delight to work with the whole team in Abu Dhabi.”
People CEO, Tim Elliott concluded by reflecting on the scale of the achievement. “This project had a huge number of moving parts, from mass cast to mass vehicle movements, automation to augmented reality, hundreds of props to real-life items – such as a 300-tonne train,” he recalled. “To deliver this, the cohesion of collaborators was essential. We had an incredible collection of creatives, partners, and suppliers – some of which were new to us, but many are long-term partners.
He added: “It was one of those shows that made me proud to know so many talented people that put so much energy and commitment into the project. It was also a privilege to work alongside the talents from Es Devlin Studio and Done+Dusted, each of whom played a huge part in the project’s success. Thank you to everyone involved.”
TECH PROFILE 55
ME PROTEUS MAXIMUS ™ Market-proven all-purpose power luminaire! THE PROFILE PROTEUS EXCALIBUR ™ Brightest IP65 full-featured beam fixture ever! THE BEAM PROTEUS BRUTUS ™ 75,000 lumens of cutting power! THE WASH THE STADIUM TRIO „THE POWERHOUSE IS IN THE HOUSE!“ THE ULTIMATE POWERHOUSE TRIO FOR LONG THROW IMPACT INDOORS OR OUT! Color version C/100 M/50 Y/50 K/50 Grayscale version www.elationlighting.eu
ENERGIE ENTERTAINMENT RESTRUCTURES FOR GROWTH
ENERGIE ENTERTAINMENT FOUNDER AND CEO, TYLER DAVIS SMITH, UNVEILS DETAILS OF A NEW STRUCTURE, A KEY APPOINTMENT AND A TRANSFORMATIONAL NEW PREMISES.
In less than three years since the company was launched, Energie Entertainment has gone from being the “COVID baby” of Founder and CEO Tyler Davis Smith, to a mainstay of the UAE’s events industry. “We’re certainly not a baby anymore,” Davis Smith told TPMEA. “We always knew we were going to do well during Expo 2020, but it’s what has happened after that, which has proved that we’re here for the long haul. We have quadrupled in size since July last year and there are big plans on the horizon.”
Following a “massive” Q4 of last year, which saw Energie deliver numerous major projects –including roaming entertainment and live shows
in Al Wasl Plaza at Expo City, a large corporate show at the Louvre Abu Dhabi, featuring international choreographer Sadeck Waff and site-wide entertainment for multiple clients across the three-day weekend of the Dubai Rugby 7s – the company is now undergoing a restructure to allow for continued growth.
“T he extremely strong growth we’ve experienced over the past year just highlights the need for some tweaks to our organisation to ensure that as we continue to expand, our high standards are maintained,” Davis Smith explained.
“When we entered the market, we wanted to be all things to all people and perhaps our
offering was a little bit too wide,” he conceded. “Now we’re well established, it’s the ideal time to look to the future and put a clear plan in place that will allow us to continue to grow.”
The restructure sees Energie split into three departments: Special Projects, which covers large-scale productions or lengthy entertainment projects; Talent Booking, with a wide range of artists from singing guitarists, to MCs and roaming entertainers all on the books; and Show Control, for show calling and stage management requirements. A key element of the restructure is the appointment of Operations Manager, Jo McCullough. “We’ve brought Jo onboard to
ME COMPANY PROFILE 56
support me in the day-to-day running of the business and also to help with the expansion of the company,” said Davis Smith. “We needed a senior member of the team to be that first port of call if I’m not available, and her being here will allow me to spend more time focusing on the Special Projects side of the business.”
McCullough added: “I’m delighted to have joined the company. When I met Tyler at the end of August last year, I couldn’t believe what the
company had done in such a short space of time – and even between now and then, the company has grown even more. I want Energie to be the preferred supplier and the first name to come out of people’s mouths when they’re looking for that turnkey solution for a large-scale event.”
While McCullough was known to Davis Smith after spending the past nine years living in the region, working on a multitude of events in both the UK and the Middle East, she was still subject
to a stringent recruitment process – including a round of questions from the whole Energie team – to ensure that she’d be the right fit.
“It gave the team and Jo a chance to see how everyone would fit in and work together. It was so important to make sure that the team was just as happy as me,” Davis Smith reflected. “We needed someone not only with operational nous but also the knowledge of the artistic and creative sides and what is required to make that a success
COMPANY PROFILE 57 ME
management that delivers the full package from page-to-stage. Turn your ideas into a reality! Talent Booking | Full Show Production | Creatives Show Callers | Stage Management w: weareenergie.com e: email@example.com @weareenergie
Energie Entertainment founder and CEO, Tyler Davis Smith.
– and in Jo, we’ve found the full package.” The restructure isn’t the only change going on behind the scenes at Energie, as the company is also in the process of moving to a brand-new premises in what Davis Smith describes as a particularly “dramatic expansion”.
He s tated: “It will be a combined office and storage space where we have everything under one roof, including an in-house tailoring and wardrobe facility, so we can make costumes on site. We also now own an increasing number of assets such as costumes and back of house furniture, so the new space will accommodate all of that as well as being large enough for us to continue to grow at the same rate for the next three to four years.”
The surge of interest in entertainment in Saudi Arabia hasn’t escaped the attention of
Davis Smith and while he admits that so far Energie has “only dipped our toes in the water” of the Saudi market, thanks to the restructure, he is now confident in the company’s ability to grow into the Kingdom in a significant way.
“We’ve done well in the UAE and haven’t needed to go after the Saudi market too much so far, but there are so many opportunities there –especially when it comes to the large-scale event and ceremony market – that it will undoubtedly be a focus for us now that we have the capacity to service it,” he stated.
While it seems that a bright future is well and truly on its way, the CEO and Founder sounded a note of caution, citing the importance of building gradually. “We can’t make too many changes all at the same time; we need to do it at the right pace and not get carried away,” he said, glancing over
to McCullough who, it seems, has the unenviable task of reining in Davis Smith when required. “We will continue to do things at the right pace,” she interjected. “I will keep an eye on the operational side of things and help ensure that we don’t sacrifice the ethos that has got the company to where it is today.”
“Everything we’re doing is about allowing us to grow while making sure that we can uphold high standards we have set so far,” Davis Smith concluded. “We’ve always punched above our weight since we started, and we will continue to do that until we get to the weight where I’m happy – and that’s certainly not yet. Our little baby is turning into a teenager, and we can’t wait to see the kind of adult it grows into.”
Photos: Energie Entertainment www.weareenergie.com
ME COMPANY PROFILE 58
“We’ve always punched above our weight since we started, and we will continue to do that until we get to the weight where I’m happy – and that’s certainly not yet.”
Tyler Davis Smith, founder and CEO, Energie Entertainment
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: oﬃce@gulfcrewing.com GCC Events LLC - Branch of Abu Dhabi Oﬃce # 220 Second Floor Global Heritage Property Business Centre Omeir Bin Youssef & Sons Building Hamdan Street (Old UAE Exchange Building) P.O. Box 36198 Abu Dhabi, UAE Telephone: +971 4 339 5009 Email: oﬃce@gulfcrewing.com GCC Middle East LLC Room 111 Ground Floor Um Al Umam Commercial Centre 8714 Salah Ad Din Alayyubi Road Ad Dubbat 12623-4399 Riyadh Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Telephone: +966 11 291 0891 Email: oﬃce@gulfcrewing.com Established in 2008 and based in the UAE, GCC Events LLC exists to provide a comprehensive, high quality, English-speaking crew service to the live event and exhibition industries of the U.A.E. and Gulf region. www.gulfcrewing.com
SIMON RANSOM, GROUP DIRECTOR MIDDLE EAST, GROUPE F
AS FORMER ENCORE GROUP DIRECTOR MIDDLE EAST, SIMON RANSOM EMBARKS ON A NEW CHALLENGE AT GROUPE F, TPMEA CATCHES UP WITH HIM TO FIND OUT MORE…
After 12 years of “rewarding, challenging, fun, difficult and fulfilling times” working with what was first eclipse then later became Encore, on 1 January 2023, former Encore Group Director, Middle East, Simon Ransom resigned from the company to take a full-time role with multidisciplinary pyro production company, Groupe F.
Leading the French firm’s Middle East branch, Ransom will oversee the current operations in the UAE and Saudi Arabia while supporting the expansion of the company in response to strong demand in the region. Here, he tells TPMEA how
the move came about and reveals his high hopes and expectations for his new role.
How did your relationship with Groupe F begin?
I’ve known the guys at Groupe F since the late ’90s when we met working on various projects together in Dubai.
I be came a customer of theirs in 2005, and since then I stayed in contact with them and started consulting for them on projects across the region, mainly looking after the administrative side of the business in the Middle East. Demand has figuratively and literally
exploded for them in the region over the past couple of years. Around the middle of last year, we did some number crunching, and it became clear that in order to help grow the business to its full potential in the region, I should move over to Groupe F full-time.
What will your role entail?
I’m taking on a role similar to the one I took on when I started with Mark Brown at eclipse – to help structure the business to be bigger, more efficient, and able to manage a bigger workload. The guys at Groupe F are all crazy creative – you
INTERVIEW 60 ME
just have to look at their projects. Christophe Berthonneau, CEO and Creative Director, Francois Montel, Managing Director and the whole team are all amazing at what they do, but they’re being asked to do a lot more than they were a few years ago. It’s not one Olympic Games-sized show every four years; it’s an Olympic Gamessized show 20 or 30 times a year.
I’ve come in to work with Christophe and Francois to see how we can grow the Middle East business even further than it already has in the past few years. There has been a massive upturn in interest – especially in Saudi Arabia – and it’s part of my remit to manage that growth and make sure that we go about it in the right way.
Where will you be based?
I’m still based in the UAE, but I’ll be spending a lot of time in Saudi Arabia, too, since KSA represents a large percentage of what we’re doing.
Groupe F’s UAE base has grown massively over the past few years – the warehousing has quadrupled and is set to double again later this year. We’ve built up a large stock of inert items such as mortars, boats, and ancillary firing systems – some of which we will soon be moving into the Kingdom to service the demand.
We will end up with significant stocks in both the UAE and KSA that would be more than capable of handling shows that are even bigger than we’ve ever taken on in the history of the
company. We have also doubled the size of the permanent Middle East team in the past few months, and we continue to have the ability to call upon a vast network of freelancers based on project demands.
How much of a focus will there be on training local talent?
Saudisation doesn’t scare us at all. We need to be able to respond to short lead time demands, so we will be training and growing a base in the country to do just that. We will be investing in and supporting Vision 2030 goals by training Saudis and having them as an important part of the organisation as it grows. There’s a large population that is ready and willing to work. We just need to tap into that.
What recent developments at Groupe F are you particularly excited about?
One area that is developing rapidly and where Groupe F is leading the way is the use of drones as vehicles to launch fireworks. There are a couple of different ways that we’re doing it, and it makes for some unique and crazy effects that I’ve never seen before.
The ability to launch fireworks from 1km into the sky gives them a whole new life compared to launching them from the ground. The New Year’s Eve show in Ras Al Khaimah, which broke several Guinness World Records for drone-launched
fireworks, is a great recent example – it was breath-taking to see.
What are your biggest challenges?
The transporting of fireworks around the world is getting tougher and tougher year on year. With Saudi being a core market, moving explosives into the country will remain a challenge that we have to come up with solutions for.
We’re also looking to continue to push the boundaries creatively. Groupe F is a leader in terms of coming up with different ideas, doing new things and evolving the show in ways never seen before.
What are your goals in the short and long term? The next year is about evolving the structure of Groupe F to be able to take on more work. The key word in everything that Groupe F does is safety. It’s not just about being able to take on more, but we will first ensure that everything is built on a foundation of safety. The creativity and fun the company is known for then follows.
There’s so much room for growth in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is a focus, but we have many great clients throughout the region who we’ve worked with for decades that are equally important. The most important thing for us is to support our clients in what they want to do.
Photos: Groupe F
INTERVIEW 61 ME
Groupe F Group Director Middle East, Simon Ransom.
INTRODUCING: THAT DUBAI AGENCY
WITH CLIENTS INCLUDING SNOWFLAKE, THE DUBAI WORLD CUP AND MCGETTIGAN’S, THAT DUBAI AGENCY HAS ALREADY BEGUN TO MAKE ITS MARK IN THE MIDDLE EAST. TPMEA SPEAKS TO FOUNDER AND CEO KIRSTY CAMPBELL, WHO BELIEVES THAT FEMALE BUSINESS LEADERS ARE PROVING THEY CAN BE JUST AS ‘HANDS-ON’ AS MALE COUNTERPARTS.
It’s been quite the year for That Dubai Agency (TDA). Starting life as a social media community for women in the emirate – TDA’s forerunner, That Dubai Girl – the company is now an “endto-end” agency that has already managed several high-profile projects for clients including The Dubai World Cup, McGettigan’s and technology unicorn, Snowflake.
According to Founder, Kirsty Campbell, an “efficient, stress-free service” is what has given TDA its edge over the past year in operation, with the evolving role of the project manager being particularly important to the company’s success. “In my experience, the project manager role has stereotypically been associated with being a taskmaster – the kind of character that some people may avoid unless absolutely necessary,” she explained. “However, I’ve learned that you need to build functional, reciprocal
relationships with everyone. It’s very important to make yourself approachable and accessible, so that your team, partners, and clients all feel comfortable trusting you and knowing that you’re on their side.”
A watershed moment for TDA was its success in organising a season of events for Dubai Racing Club including for the Dubai World Cup 2022. Alongside sourcing and managing all food, beverage and guest activations, Campbell’s team curated the After-Race Concert with international performers Rudimental, Becky Hill and Sigala, engaging the likes of Neumann & Muller Middle East, Snap, and AES to provide technical services.
“T he Dubai World Cup was a great chance for us to show what we could do – and the scale we could deliver at such an early stage in our journey,” Campbell recalled. “We decided straight after the World Cup to launch TDA. We’ve
subsequently onboarded some amazing clients; it was great to work with Snowflake at GITEX GLOBAL 2022 and to grow the presence of key client Suited and Booted Dubai, which, with our comprehensive marketing support, has recently signed a partnership with Scottish Premiership team, Rangers FC.”
TDA’s team has quickly expanded since its launch, adding four new members of full-time staff. One of the core values of the fast-growing business has been the promotion of small businesses and inspiring and supporting other female business leaders – values that forerunning platform That Dubai Girl was founded upon.
The company offers a range of marketing and events services and is now aspiring to be a one-stop shop for all things content, with public relations, content creation, social media, and web and graphic design now extra strings to its bow.
ME COMPANY PROFILE 62
28-30 MAY 2023 RICEC, RIYADH SAUDI ARABIA
BE PART OF SAUDI ARABIA'S FIRST DEDICATED EVENT FOR PROFESSIONAL LIGHT
Showcase your products, services and technology to 10,000+ industry professionals involved in the development of Saudi Arabia's entertainment and leisure market worth over USD 64 billion.
WHY SHOULD YOU EXHIBIT AT SLS EXPO?
NETWORKING SLS Expo takes the hard work out of business matching, offering unrivalled networking opportunities that make it easy to start a conversation with future business partners.
LEAD GENERATION Exhibiting companies generate on average 80 high quality leads over 3 days at SLS Expo. Benchmark that number against other marketing, advertising and sales initiatives and consider the impact this physical showcase will have on your annual bottom line.
THOUGHT LEADERSHIP Place your brand and its ideas at the forefront of an industry meet-up, share a case study or lead a masterclass or roundtable.
BRAND AWARENESS Build brand awareness in one of the world's most ambitious emerging markets by showcasing your products and services to 10,000+ inﬂuential industry professionals.
A PARTNERSHIP THAT LIGHTS UP
SLS Expo is co-located with Saudi Entertainment and Amusement (SEA) Expo, the Kingdom's largest trade event for the entertainment and leisure industry.
CAPITALISE ON THE WORLD'S FASTEST GROWING ENTERTAINMENT DESTINATION
SCAN HERE TO DOWNLOAD SEA EXPO BROCHURE
SCAN HERE TO DOWNLOAD SLS EXPO BROCHURE
It has also partnered with established agency Keane PR to maximise its capabilities. “It’s very important that SMEs make use of this kind of opportunity,” Campbell stated. “TDA and Keane’s growth has run along parallel lines and together we can now offer a one-stop shop for all things content and events.”
Q4 2022 witnessed a major milestone for TDA – winning the contract to organise the site and logistics for the McGettigan’s FIFA World Cup 2022 Fanzone hosted at Dubai’s Media City Amphitheatre. The spectacle drew 150,000 visitors across 30 days, and Campbell, who oversaw the sourcing and management of vendors and site development, was integral to the organising team.
While Campbell acknowledges that female participation in the regional events industry is high, she believes that her willingness to be hands-on gives TDA a competitive advantage as an organiser.
“Most site and project managers in this region are male – one stereotype is that women don’t want to get their hands dirty and don’t want to do 16-hour, on-site shifts,” she said. “I’m comfortable putting myself in the thick of things and can hold my own when the pressure is on. Women face challenges entering traditionally male-dominated industries, but times are
changing and so many women are laying a path for others to follow.” She added that peer support was vital to the Fanzone’s success. “Several people were hugely supportive – especially Greg Dufton and Tim Derry of Think Events and Dennis McGettigan of McGettigan’s, who hired me to support the project and oversee the build.”
Despite receiving support from male peers, Campbell still believes that some outdated perceptions impede the progress of women in certain occupations. “Site management, in particular, isn’t associated with being a femaledriven occupation,” she proffered. “It’s still a male-dominated industry so it’s a challenge to gain the respect of men who have been in a role for 30-plus years and see a 30-something woman come into the job. You need to have thick skin and be prepared to get stuck in. Women have historically been portrayed as emotional and sensitive, but that’s not relevant – the same applies to men when working under pressure. It’s about being resilient and making people realise that gender has nothing to do with it.
“I want to lead by example,” she added. “If the most senior person on a project or in the business won’t step up and display their leadership skills, decision making and competence, then no one else will – and how can employees then be expected to display any
of those qualities? I believe that a successful project starts and ends with one person who has the skills and the confidence to make it possible. Whatever the project TDA is working on, I always strive to be that person.”
So, what next for TDA? Campbell believes that having the “experience, client base and confidence” will be key in the continuation of its growth journey. “Not only do we have our finger on the pulse in terms of emerging trends in Dubai, the UAE, and the wider region, but we’re also agile enough to react quickly to new trends and to service market demand. Dubai will always be special to us as it’s where it all started for us, but there are massive opportunities in Saudi Arabia, and we’d be naive not to explore those.”
Corporate events, brand and product launches form a key part of TDA’s growth strategy. “I want us to run more large-scale events and productions and make sure the agency becomes as recognisable as possible,” Campbell commented. “The brand is successful because of our network. We’ve been approached about doing something in Saudi in Q3 2023, which would be another massive jump for us. There are loads of agencies in Dubai, but not many that can support their clients with everything.”
Photos: That Dubai Agency www.thatdubaiagency.com
COMPANY PROFILE 64 ME
That Dubai Agency Founder, Kirsty Campbell.
SOUND STYLISTS INVESTS IN YAMAHA RIVAGE CONSOLES
STAGE AUDIO WORKS SUPPLIES TWO YAMAHA RIVAGE PM3 MIXING SYSTEMS FOR 947 RADIO’S SAMSUNG GALAXY MOVE FESTIVAL.
technical support. In recent years, Sound Stylists has embraced the future of networked audio by updating its entire audio structure onto the Dante format.
“We were already aware of the Rivage platform, but simply didn’t have the need for it at the time,” said Kevin Glover, Director of Sound Stylists. “However, recently we were researching new desks and were impressed to discover the Rivage surfaces all spoke to the same DSP. The fact that you can run two surfaces on a single DSP was an attractive concept, as it allows us to double our fader count as required. The DSP can also be run on its own, mirrored for redundancy or upgraded from the base 140 channels to 280.”
processing power.” The first major test for the two consoles was at the Samsung Galaxy Move festival at Prime Park in Olifantsfontein.
Sound Stylists was involved every step of the way, from the stage design to the provision of the audio system and production on the day. The original audio system design placed the two PM3s at FOH, with a CL1 between them providing feeds to the subs, outhangs and frontfills. However, unforeseen circumstances spurred a change in direction.
South African audio-visual production specialists, Sound Stylists recently invested in two new Yamaha PM3 Rivage consoles to add to its extensive inventory.
Shortly after, the company had the opportunity to test them in situ, deploying them as part of a networked audio solution at the Samsung Galaxy Move Festival, hosted by 947 Radio. The consoles were supplied by Stage Audio Works (SAW), which also had a team on hand throughout the festival to offer
He added: “What swung it was the ease of integration with our current systems with its Dante compatibility – the technology slots nicely into our existing Rio racks and obviously plays nicely with our Yamaha QLs and CLs, making it a smooth and cost-efficient transition.”
Glover considered several brands but ultimately plumped for Yamaha due to its “array of products that are all interoperable”. He stated: “The PM3s are flexible in every sense of the word. They are compact, light, and have a high channel and bus count as well as stellar effects and
“We experienced bad weather leading up to the concert, resulting in moisture interfering with our CL5, which was on monitor duty, rendering it inoperable,” stated Glover. “Fortunately, we were able to replace this with one of the PM3s.”
Nathan Ihlenfeldt, CTO at SAW, commented: “We are very proud to have supplied Sound Stylists with two new PM3 Rivage consoles, which will serve them well for years to come. Samsung Galaxy Move Festival is a significant occasion for a lot of South Africans and it’s great that we could play a part in that too, even if it was in a supportive capacity.”
Photo: Sound Stylists
ZACTRACK PARTNERS WITH DWR DISTRIBUTION
THE DEAL BRINGS THE AUTOMATED TRACKING SYSTEM TO SOUTH AFRICA FOR THE FIRST TIME.
DWR Distribution has become the official South African distributor for zactrack.
“DWR Distribution’s professional sales, support and training team, matched with an extensive product portfolio, make them an ideal partner to bring the magic of automated tracking to customers in South Africa,” said Stephan Saremba, zactrack Managing Director. “We look forward to working together on many exciting automated tracking applications.”
DWR Distribution’s Duncan Riley has wanted to introduce zactrack to the South African market for some time now. “With the industry on its feet after the pandemic and an audience thrilled to
be back at shows again, we were finally ready to launch,” he commented.
“T he DWR team, including Jaques Pretorius and Motlotlo Makhobotloane (Mac) tested zactrack SMART in our demo room and were delighted at its functionality and ease of use,” he added. “We then reached out to Lighting Designer, Denis Hutchinson, who incorporated the system in Sinbad the Sailor, the first pantomime to be hosted in the Teatro at Montecasino in Fourways, Johannesburg.”
REGIONAL ROUND-UP 65 Af
NEXO SOUNDS OUT INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF HAMMAMET
A VERSATILE GEO M6 COMPACT LINE ARRAY SOUNDTRACKS THE TUNISIAN FESTIVAL’S MAIN STAGE.
The 56th International Festival of Hammamet brought together a host of global artists for a diverse programme of events taking place over a five-week period last summer.
The sound system for a main stage that would see performances ranging from opera and orchestral to jazz and rap was a NEXO GEO M6 compact line array, deployed by local events services specialists, Sybel Event Company.
Hangs of nine GEO M620 cabinets on either side of the stage were each complemented by ground stacks of two NEXO LS15 and two LS18 subs, with six NEXO ID24 and two IDS110 used as front fills. Amplification and processing for the FOH system came from three NEXO NXAMP4X1 and a NXAMP4X4 powered TD controller.
Fle xibility was key to an onstage monitoring system that would have to adapt quickly to very different groups of performers, so 20 NEXO PS15 point source cabinets were available, along with
two LS1200 and two LS18 subs to create drum monitors and side fills, all powered by 22 NEXO DTDAMP1.3s with DTD controllers.
“T he venue was quite difficult to deal with as it is very large like an ancient theatre,” recalled Sound Engineer, Ahmed Mohamed El Fekih –commenting on behalf of Sybel Event Company. “The most amazing thing about NEXO is the versatility and compatibility of all speakers from the different ranges,” he added.
“I and every engineer who came to the festival was amazed by the harmony between the different components. The sound was clear and clean, fitting the many different styles of music. Everyone was pleased by the power and quality from such a small system.”
Photo: Festival International de Hammamet www.festivaldehammamet.com www.sybel.com.tn www.nexo-sa.com
INFILED HIRES NEW SALES MANAGER OF FRANCE AND NORTH AFRICA
MATHIEU ARNOULD BRINGS OVER 20 YEARS OF INDUSTRY EXPERIENCE TO THE ROLE.
INFiLED has appointed Mathieu Arnould as Sales Manager for France and North Africa.
“Mathieu has a broad knowledge of LED technologies, the French distribution network, and its key players,” commented Marco Bruines, CEO of INFiLED EMEA. “His established relationships will help us maintain valuable connections across the region, and his deep expertise will be much appreciated by our current partners and customers.”
Arnould brings over two decades of continuous sales and strategic business development experience within the audiovisual industry, including his latest role as AV Channel Manager for LFD/LED screens at Samsung
Electronics France. Prior to this, he covered sales and managerial positions at Sanyo Europe and NEC France.
“I am delighted to be a part of this great team and this incredible project that I am trusted with, to develop the business on the French and North African markets,” Arnould enthused.
“With the strong growth of the LED market, we have a lot to do. I do not doubt that the INFiLED products will meet all the needs of the market players. I am very happy to put my experience and knowledge of the products, the market and the players to the service of INFiLED.”
Photo: INFiLED www.infiled.com
REGIONAL ROUND-UP 66 Af
CATEGORY SPONSORS HEADLINE SPONSOR SUPPORTED BY WWW.TPMEAAWARDS.COM SAVE THE DATE THURSDAY 4 MAY For Sponsorship opportunities contact Fran firstname.lastname@example.org, for General Enquiries contact Alice email@example.com
ready to create
Some luminaires have the power to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary.
AYRTON’s latest creation is a luminaire with so many advantages... able to transition from beam to wash light with the greatest of ease. A versatile fixture with amazing, creative effects that makes you want to go even further, to dare, to experiment, to explore... The combinations are endless!
This newcomer to the ZONDA family line comes in an incredibly compact format. Its speed of movement and reduced dimensions increase its dynamic potential. And because of its size, it can be easily used in compositions with light curtains or matrices.
www.ayrton.eu 9S 6S 3S 3 Series - Source 7 RGBW LED Zoom aperture 4° to 56° Frontal Lens 7 x 50 mm Weight 11.1 kg Lumens 5,200