At PRG XL Video, we’re well seasoned at supplying lighting, video and rigging services to festivals. We’ve worked on outdoor cultural gatherings of all sizes and styles for years— yet few as boutique and enchanting as Henley Festival; a five-day cultural experience celebrating the best of international and UK music, art, comedy and food in a quintessentially British location.
Production Manager John Harris described the unique cultural environment of Henley Festival: “To say that it’s one of a kind sounds like a bit of a cliché; but I really can’t think of another festival comparable to Henley. Holding a summer festival in such a beautiful environment and to attract artists of the highest calibre is nothing short of a privilege. Although the black tie dress code and chic venues create an aura of sophistication; we keep the ticket prices down to ensure Henley Festival is accessible to all.” Having previously worked as lighting crew on the festival back in the nineties, John returned to Henley in his current role in 2011, when he took over from the highly regarded Bob Caple, who production managed the festival since its inception in 1983.
This year’s event took place over five days and featured esteemed acts such as: Elton John, Bryn Terfel, Will Young, Shirley Bassey, The Welsh National Orchestra and Elvis Costello; as well as an impressive roster of cabaret and comedy acts, featuring the likes of: The Ronnie Scott’s All Stars Jazz Band, Reginald D Hunter, Al Murray and The Boy with Tape on His Face.
PRG XL Video Account Director Peter Marshall works closely with John on a number of projects and was excited to be a part of the Henley Festival 2016: “It was really nice to be back after a ten-year absence, prior to which we worked very closely with lighting designers Michael Odam and Theo Cox to develop the Henley Festival to the size and stature it is today.”
John explained his vision: “From the outset we had a very definite idea of what we wanted to achieve with the festival lighting. Gerry Mott took on the role of Lighting Designer for the main stage, whilst I created very basic looks for all the other performance spaces: the comedy stage, The Top/Pizza Express Live and Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Tent. Mark Steeds performed the role of Crew Chief and coordinated the team of technicians who installed and operated the lighting across the venues. In order to keep the focus on entertainment rather than the technology, I used a simple look with an emphasis on not over-complicating the set-up for all venues except the main stage. The comedy stage was lit with just six Fresnel lights which were either on or off; there was a similarly simple lighting rig in the Ronnie Scott’s tent, which had either house light or show light states.”
The main stage floats on the water just off the bank of the Thames and is visible from the seated area directly in front of the stage and the grandstand restaurant. John detailed how he and Gerry designed the space: “When it came to deciding which kit we used, we took a slightly unorthodox yet very sensible approach of sitting down with Pete—explaining what we wanted to achieve with the budget available and heeding his suggestions. Pete came up trumps and we had a very glamorous looking main stage which featured 26 Mac Viper AIR FXs, 12 Clay Paky Alpha Beam 700s, 35 GLP Volkslicht, 10 Vari*lite VL1000 T/S and 10 SGM P5 LED wash lights.”
In addition to the comprehensive lighting package supplied by PRG XL Video, we also provided a small camera system and several screens around the festival site, relaying live footage from the main stage. “This year was the first time we’d used any video technology at Henley, and it proved to be a very positive experience The area around the floating stage has a capacity of 4400, so to be able to show the main act to all 7200 nightly ticket holders was wonderful.” John explained.
There are many factors which make Henley such an individual festival, John discussed some of the challenges faced by the team: “We only have three days to transform the site to the layout and specification of Henley Festival. We gain access to the site at around eight-thirty on Sunday evening as the previous event loads out. They complete handover at midnight on Monday night and we open to the public at six o’clock on Wednesday. I can’t overstate how much work has to be done and how hard everybody works. The Floating Stage and The Top are built from scratch, for which we bring in several trucks and cranes, we rearrange all the venues, bring in generators and reconfigure all the mains distribution.”
John Continued: “The land on which the festival takes place is very precious ground—before we do anything onsite I take a detailed tour around the grounds and inspect every element, noting down any damage; we do another check after the festival and any damage is charged to us. We employ a team of professional grounds men who take care of the grass for the duration of the festival, they are used to working on golf courses and cricket grounds and constantly rolling, trimming and aerating the turf. This year we had exceptional weather for the whole week, but if that hadn’t been the case, our grounds men would work overtime to ensure the site stays functional and the turf remains in an acceptable condition; returning the site looking like a freshly ploughed field is not an option. The last really wet year we had was in 2012, it was quite entertaining to see so many people navigating the site in ball gowns and tuxedoes but wearing wellies, there were plenty of Hunter boots on show!”
Peter Marshall concluded: “Around eighty percent of the work is done by John Harris and his team before arriving on site; there is an awful lot of planning and pre-production preparation that happens in advance, which enables John, Gerry, Mark, and their lighting crew to do work within the limited timescale of having just three days to transform the site and only one day to install the kit on the floating stage once it’s built. We’re delighted to be supporting John and his technical team at Henley and look forward to a continued involvement in the years to come as the festival grows in size and technical complexity.”
On Friday 30th September 2016, the AV Awards took place at a glamorous event at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel. The awards, which celebrate the best product, projects, and people in the AV industry, was attended by a team from PRG XL Video, led by Executive VP & COO, EMEA, Gary Boyd.
Following the announcement of the shortlist for Production Product of the Year, sponsored by DB Systems, PRG’s GroundControl™ Followspot System was announced as the winner in the category which included products from Barco, Elation Professional, Sennheiser, X-Rite Photo and Video, and NewTek Inc.
The revolutionary product is already making waves across the production industry, particularly in the concert touring, theatre and television markets, and the judges commended the way the product is having a huge effect on the way lighting designers and producers design their shows and events.
The GroundControl™ Followspot System consists of a specially customized PRG Bad Boy spotlight which includes an in-built camera, and can be flown from rigging or mounted in locations around a venue which would not normally accomodate a followspot; a truss box which provides the link between the fixture and the controller; and the ground-based controller unit which can be operated from up to 610 metres away from the fixture.
GroundControl™ allows designers huge flexibility in where to locate their followspots and the operators can be safely located on the ground within the venue, without the need to climb rigging. In addition to the safety benefits, the GroundControl™ Followspot System also negates the need to remove seats to create traditional followspot positions – a revenue bonus for venues.
Gary Boyd comments: “I was delighted to accept the award for Production Product of the Year for GroundControl. The product is making huge waves across our industry, and we’re very proud to have developed this in-house. Our R&D team in Dallas have done an excellent job in creating a followspot system which is rapidly growing in popularity and demand!”
For a full list of the AV Awards Winners follow this link.
September saw BPM | PRO return to Birmingham’s NEC complex for their eighth successive event at the UK’s busiest exhibition centre. As the popular trade show for sound and lighting equipment and DJ products celebrated their tenth anniversary, the show moved out of regular exhibition halls and made its home in the Genting Arena.
PRG Proshop, our outlet for used equipment sales (UES) had a presence in the sound and lighting hall, where Director of UES, Dirk Bosloirs and Product Sales Manager Rodney George met and conversed with potential clients over the three-day event. Dirk commented: “BPM | PRO is a growing show with good future business potential. Although not a specific event for UES—we made several excellent contacts at last year’s show and are confident that this year’s event will yield the same results.”
Co-founder of BPM | PRO, and director of organising company Marked Events, Mark Walsh said: "We were delighted to welcome back a market leader such as PRG XL Video to support BPM | PRO. Their presence really does contribute to the success of the event and brings another dimension with their Proshop. We look forward to building on this relationship as BPM | PRO continues to evolve."
Dirk and Rodney were supported by our business development team, who answered questions about other areas of our business as well as UES. PRG XL Video Sales Director, Rich Rowley said: “It’s important for PRG XL Video to play a part in growing shows such as BPM | PRO—the event works very well for our UES team, for whom it is one of the most important dates in their calendar. It’s also an exciting opportunity to meet students and other young people looking to get into the industry who we wouldn’t see at other events.”
Mark Walsh added: “We made a lot of changes this year, and they appear to have paid off. The new venue has been the absolute right choice for our industry, not only is the space fresh and exciting it is also surrounded by plenty of hotels, bars and restaurants which allows the show atmosphere to continue on through the evenings. I am extremely thankful to all those exhibitors who have supported the show over the past ten years and especially to those who took a chance on us again this year. Myself and my team are already excitedly working on the 2017 event, where we will build on the positives from this year and listen to feedback, from both visitors and exhibitors, to create an even bigger and better BPM | PRO for 2017!”
Theatre has never been so publicly scrutinised as it is now. In addition to the affluence of established media churning out their highly appreciated, yet often calculable verdicts on new productions, an increasing amount of veracious and roughhewn opinion is provided through the scores of bloggers, reviewers and social media commentators. A curious scan through internet searches for Found111’s latest production of Owen McCafferty’s Unfaithful yield little other than ringing endorsements and glowing reports for the latest project undertaken by daredevil producer—Emily Dobbs.
“Found111 is a stifling venue atop a building in central London… Up stark stairways, twisting round a clunky metal lift, the audience is cramped closely around the central stage—a bed and a mirror—in the August heat. The setting is aptly suited to Unfaithful,” muses blogger Sarah Tinsley on the website Carn’s Theatre Passion.
Emily Dobbs brings together director Adam Penford, lighting designer James Whiteside, set designer Richard Kent and Found111’s regular composer and sound designer Edward Lewis; who between them set the framework within which the cast will perform for seventy tense and periodically explosive minutes. Niamh Cusack and Sean Campion play the older of two couples alongside Matthew Lewis and Ruta Gedmintas—who we are led to believe may, or may not have been unfaithful to one another during two separate, yet interconnected episodes. The story progresses with a rollicking pace, during which the audience is stock still, too meek to move until the stifling silence is broken by a darkly humourous comment mid-argument which allows enough respite to shuffle back into comfort before we continue our voyeuristic journey into the relationship of two couples.
Carol Woodis tweeted: “Owen McCafferty’s Unfaithful at pop up Found111 ****, rich, beautiful, adult play. Sex as an existential crisis.” She then goes on to blog on her site Woodis Reviews:“…in Found111’s intense intimacy, Adam Penford’s bed and mirror dominated production elicits laughter, pathos, frissons of shock and ultimately enormous sympathy.” Unfaithful is not a play which completes itself, you will exit into the early autumn evening unsure of your own conclusions; the sentiment of which is a common thread amongst reviewers of professional and amateur status alike. “Both couples lives became entwined with each other’s various deceits, no one left blameless, yet none without some excuse for what they have done—or claim to have done. Much of the delight comes from McCafferty’s superb dialogue and the exquisite comic timing of the excellent cast,” writes Paul Ciara of the Peg Review.
James Whiteside explained his approach to lighting Unfaithful: “The first thing I did was read the play. I’ve lit an Owen McCafferty play before, so I knew his style of writing and what to expect. McCafferty uses a very naturalistic dialogue—unpolished, almost poetic with very little punctuation. Once I was familiar with the play, I met with Adam (director) and Richard (set designer) and we discussed ideas. The story and space made it very clear that both the lighting and set would need to be simple and uncomplicated. The concept of using banks of light, focused straight, became of great interest because it was one of only a few practical options. Richard worked my idea for lighting into the model of his set to see how it would feel; from what we learnt by doing that, we adjusted the size of the ceiling space to fit the lights in around it. Doing this during pre-production, on a model, was beneficial over making the decision once we’d actually built the set, which would have cost us a lot more money and time.”
Lighting a play in the intimate confines of Found111 is no easy task, as James explained: “It’s important that in a space like Found111 the lights are integral to the design. The lighting is always visible, there is no way of hiding it so it has to be part of the overall environment. For this production, it was agreed between the whole creative team that the lighting was not to be a big event, it would only be noticed because of its simplicity. All the action takes place under white light, colour is only used during scene changes, which we stylised to stand out from the main scenes; but still need to be lit because you can’t move set in the dark. All the light is projected in straight blocks of lighting down each side and on either end. There was no space for overhead lighting or the typical forty-five degree angles I would usually use in theatre, so the only way to respond to the space was to go straight in architecturally...”
“A line of tightly spaced birdies down each side, and a similar line of ETC Source 4 pars at either end washed the stage with four even walls of light. At the far end of the room, set back from the stage were a row of six GLP Volkslicht LED wash lights which I chose for their rich, saturated colours, needed for the scene changes...”
“Myself and Production Electrician Adam Squire, selected the lighting fixtures fixtures not only because of the effect they produce, but also due to their low power consumption. In Found111 we only have two phases of a 32A/3 power supply for lighting. I have a debt of gratitude to Adam for doing a superb job on Unfaithful, not least for balancing the power perfectly across the two phases, whilst still making sure we had enough power to run all the lights.”
James went on to explain that he was using thirty-six ways of dimming via a Pulsar Rack Pak dimmer and his console of choice was an ETC Ion, programmed on site by James, and operated during the show by Deputy Stage Manager Tamsin Withers. James commented: “It’s quite common on smaller theatre productions for the lighting to be operated by a DSM, I programmed with this in mind, so activating each scene is very simple and follows a numerical cue list.”
Producer Emily Dobbs, the driving force behind Found111 is quickly developing a reputation for being an uninhibited maestro at assembling a highly creative team and giving them the freedom to do what they do best. Discussing the buildup to opening Unfaithful, James said: “Adam had the actors in rehearsals for three weeks before we went to preview, most of that time was spent rehearsing in the actual space they would be performing in for the show; which considering the unique environment of Found111 was a huge benefit. It’s evident when you see the play how the actors connect not only with each other, but also the environment within which they’re performing.”
Discussing her decision to stage Unfaithful at Found111, Emily said: “Owen’s writing is fresh, dynamic and fearless and penetrates the heart of his characters. FOUND111 has developed a reputation for work which gives the audience a visceral experience and is very much actor-led and Unfaithful therefore felt very fitting for the intimate space here.”
Unfaithful was the first project on which Emily had worked with James Whiteside: “James created an incredibly powerful lighting aesthetic which utilised the venue's idiosyncrasies to achieve something both stark and illuminating. The idea of magnifying the actors under an edging of spotlights was bold and inventive. The combination of the set and lighting design was used to highlight the idea that the audience feel as if they were voyeurs on these very intimate and personal scenes. James' lighting design wonderfully enhanced both the play and the performances.”
When asked about the wider creative team she has worked with at Found111, Emily said: “For all of our productions at Found111 we have worked with creatives who are at the top of their game. Everyone involved, from the team on The Dazzle through to Bug and Unfaithful, were all exceptionally talented and incredibly bold with their visions.”
Account Manager John Pauls, handled the project for PRG XL Video and described the show as: “…powerful theatre that certainly didn’t pull any punches. Supporting Found 111, we are at the cutting edge of contemporary theatre. The limited space is a challenge for all involved, the actors, the designers and it’s up to us to come up with workable solutions. Working with Emily Dobbs means we know that we will be working on a critically acclaimed show.” John added: “James Whiteside and Adam Squire were both a real pleasure to work with, no fuss or drama, excellent people to work with. I look forward to continued success working with the team at Found111.”
PRG XL Video’s UK operation has made a sizeable investment in lighting fixtures and supporting inventory. The investment is in a range of lighting products which will be used across PRG XL’s key market sectors, and will particularly support specific requirements from the West End theatre business.
PRG XL Video has added ETC Lustr2 Profile, Martin Mac Viper Performance and Wash DX, Martin Rush Par2, Rosco Miro Cube, and GLP Impression X4 lighting fixtures to its inventory.
Additionally, PRG XL has expanded its fleet of consoles with Grand MA2 desks and accompanying network processing units; and added to its range of effects equipment with new MDG Atmosphere Hazers and Look Solutions Cryo-Fog units.
PRG XL Video is also adding capacity to its followspot fleet, with new Lycian 1295 ELTs added to the inventory; and additional units of PRG’s award-winning, proprietary GroundControl Followspot System, following increased demand for the revolutionary product.
All of these in-demand items will be added to the company’s extensive inventory of rental event technology in the coming weeks.
PRG XL Video’s Peter Marshall, Account Director for theatre lighting said: “I’m delighted to see these additional fixtures being added to our inventory. There’s a lot of demand for these units from our West End clients, and we look forward to being able to satisfy their creative requirements.”
Over the August 2016 Bank Holiday weekend over 70,000 music fans descended upon Daresbury, Cheshire for one of the world’s biggest electronic music festivals, Creamfields.
The festival has grown in size each year, with the Cream organisation constantly raising the bar in terms of line-up and production values.
Technical event producer LarMac Live was once again called in by promoters Cream and Live Nation to liaise with the artists and deliver the premium technical production and high quality visitor experience that Creamfields audiences have come to expect.
To help LarMac Live deliver the largest Creamfields to date, PRG XL Video were brought in to supply video, lighting and rigging across the two vast main stages – Arc, and Horizon, together with video across six more stages around the 900-acre site.
PRG XL Video’s Head of Rigging Services, Q Willis, oversaw a team supplying the rigging across stages CF01 - Arc, and CF02 - Horizon. He explains: “During the design process we worked closely with Charlotte Scott and Igor Pacejs from Acorn Events who built the stage structures, ensuring that the rigging for video, lighting and audio was accurately assessed/plotted and installed as per the agreed plots.”
Both of the two main stages – Arc and Horizon – had new designs this year. Arc was a curved structure, wider than last year’s North Stage, extending around the audience to the sides and giving them a truly immersive experience. Horizon was a mix of varied height towers clad with LED, giving the former South stage a completely new look.
For the Arc stage Willis’ team, led by Chris ‘Karrit’ Harris and Cleveland Brown, installed a truss system suitable for the opening show headliners Alesso. That system then formed the mothergrid for the second day’s headliner, Axwell /\ Ingrosso’s 28 Kinesys hoists, and was then used for Calvin Harris on the final night with the addition of touring animation.
A similar design was installed on the Horizon stage, with the team led by Stav Hanks and Kim Klusters, and that allowed them to efficiently change Avicii’s design into Tiesto’s overnight.
Willis explains: “By producing individual, accurate show artist plots, that allowed us to keep overnight changes to a minimum and costs down. We used the first rig as the mothergrid for the following nights’ headliners, which included hanging the Kinesys system from for Axwell /\ Ingrosso’s set on Saturday, which was operated by Pete MacDonald.”
“With PRG XL Video supplying rigging on two of the stages, and working alongside our own lighting and video teams, this really enabled us to plan ahead and work out a lot of the potential on-site issues in the design stages. That meant we could create an efficient plot which kept the on-site work to manageable levels.”
PRG XL Account Manager Gordon Torrington oversaw the lighting side of the project. He worked closely with LarMac Live to deliver Creamfields’ brief for the lighting on the Arc and Horizon stages. The festival’s aim is to deliver the lighting requirements as specified in each artists rider, which enables them to create a unique look for each of their sets.
On the Arc stage Torrington worked with Front of House Operator, Chris Scott, and Lighting Crew Chief, Aidan MaCabe, to specific the lighting for the giant curved wings, creating a look which would complement the artists’ onstage lighting setups.
For the Horizon stage the lighting design was led by the artists’ requirements, and Torrington worked with Crew Chief, Luke Jackson, and Front of House Operator, Adam Power, to make sure their designs were delivered. The design for the Horizon stage utilised 100 of PRG XL’s powerful Icon Beam fixtures, ideal for an event of this size and scope.
The team also supplied a WYSIWYG suite on site at the festival, allowing the artists’ lighting designers to test and refine their set-ups before the live sets.
A team of fourteen lighting crew worked across the two stages, and nine trucks of lighting and rigging technology, including well over 1000 lighting fixtures were supplied to the Daresbury site! This was the second year PRG XL have supplied lighting and rigging to the festival.
The largest element of PRG XL Video’s contribution to the Creamfields event was video, with LED screens of all shapes and sizes used across eight stages. This is the sixth year PRG XL has supplied video to Creamfields, working with the team at LarMac Live to satisfy the ever-more impressive designs each year.
PRG XL Video’s Account Managers Paul ‘Macca’ McCauley and Jay Mobbs-Beal oversaw the video requirements across the stages, working to specify thousands of square metres of LED, media servers, and screen management systems, which filled 13 trucks with video technology. Macca and Jay were supported on site by video Project Manager, Ian Jones, who was instrumental in ensuring all the video elements worked to the event’s high specification.
With 250 artists and VJs appearing across the weekend one huge consideration was ensuring that their video content was correctly formatted for the wide variety of screen sizes and orientations. Onsite, a team led by Stuart Merser was on-hand to assist the artists and VJs with their content, getting it fully working with the Resolume media servers used across the Creamfields stages.
To help artists prepare for the show, PRG XL Video’s Erica Frost created Resolume output maps which were sent out before the event alongside standard pixel and content maps. These allowed artists VJs to build their content specifically for the unique Creamfields video layouts.
Creamfields continues to grow each year, regularly winning the Best Dance Event category at the Festival Awards. With this in mind, the two main stages had new designs for 2016.
The Arc stage used columns of LED on either side of the stage to create the curved arena, as well as using LED for headers, backdrops, risers and DJ booths. Video Crew Chief for stage CF1 was Stevie Marr.
On CF2 – Horizon, the new design used multi-facetted towers to create an effect much like a small city built from LED. Horizon was looked after by Crew Chief Al Bolland across the weekend.
In CF3 – Mega Arena – the largest of the tent stages a multi-layered effect was created with LED backdrops, risers, DJ booths, and even tent poles clad in LED.
For the Steel Yard – CF04 LED triangles were flown above the crowd on a Kinesys system which enabled the shapes to move and tilt. The 3-metre high stage was clad with LED at the front and paired with a 12-metre wide backdrop, both of which were covered with ROE MC-12 LED. The stage was flanked by four columns each side built from the innovative ROE MC-18 Hybrid LED. The design of the Steel Yard was a new idea from Creamfields, and is set to be used for an upcoming show in Liverpool later this year.
Stages CF5, the Curve arena, was created using multiple square LED screens to build a curve, reminiscent of stacks of TV screens, whilst CF 6 used LED towers, risers and backdrop. Stages CF7 and CF8 both used LED for backdrops, risers and DJ booths. In CF07 Ants used additional LED from PRG XL Video to further enhance the show. This included additional ROE MC-7 which was used in pre-fabricated blocks for their production.
In total well over 17 million LED video pixels were seen by the audiences across the weekend festival, formed into a variety of different shaped and sized screens.
PRG XL Video’s Paul McCauley comments: “Creamfields is one of the more challenging festivals we work on each year – purely because of the amount of equipment we ship to site. I was particularly impressed with the design of the Steel Yard structure as vastly improved the amount of weight loading compared to a traditional festival tent.
“The team from Creamfields and producers, LarMac Live, strive to make the show bigger and more impressive every year, and we’re very proud to have played a part in helping the festival grow over the six years we’ve been supplying video to them! The new designs this year gave the event a fresh new look, and we can’t wait to see what they do next year.
“I’d like to say a massive thanks to all of our video, lighting and rigging crews who worked together with all the on-site suppliers to deliver the most successful Creamfields yet and we look forward to building on that next year!”
Disclosure, the sibling electronic music duo from Surrey, UK, continue to work hard as they take their Caracal tour around the world. The Disclosure show returned to the UK last month, when the band headlined the Reading and Leeds festivals, before heading off to South America.
Show and Lighting Designer Will Potts has been with them every step of the way as the tour stopped off at venues and festivals in North and South America, Japan, Australia, Korea, mainland Europe and the UK. PRG XL Video’s lighting Account Manager Roy Hunt and video Account Manager Paul McCauley take care of the band’s event technology needs as they stride around the world, performing sell-out shows and whipping audiences into a Disclosure frenzy.
We caught up with double Knight of Illumination winner Will Potts when Disclosure played three sought-after nights at London’s Alexandra Palace at the end of last year. The short UK tour, which stopped off in Glasgow, Manchester and London was the first time our new Vanish, high transparency LED screen had been used. There are lots of products on the market which have a reasonably high-transparency, but Will was after a product which became invisible when switched off, yet still had a decent resolution and was very bright.
In the summer of 2015, Will organised a demo with co-designers Okulus (James Scott and Louis Oliver), during which they tested the beta version of Vanish screen against similar products alongside the Robe BMFL, Aytron Magic Blade and some profile lights to select which high-transparency LED screen he’d like to use on upcoming Disclosure shows.
Behind the upstage 22.8mx6M Vanish screen sat 2 trusses, fitted out with 32 PRG Best Boy HP spots and 32 Martin Atomic strobes to blow through the screen. Will is a huge fan of both products: “The Best Boy is an exceptional product, now they’ve been upgraded to high power output with the 1500W lamp and overdriven to 1640W, they are the perfect product to use for the blow-through effect which penetrates the Vanish panels. The Atomic strobe is a complete workhorse—no matter how many strobes I’ve seen, you’ll never beat the Atomic strobe for that look of pure electricity.”
Although the Vanish screen was the main feature of the video design for the show, there was plenty more LED on and around the stage. Two 6x3.6M ROE MC-18 side screens displayed image magnification, with footage being provided by four of our Sony HXC-100 cameras. Curved around the riser from where Howard and Guy were performing was 7.2x1.2M strips of ROE MC-7; above the performance area was a further strip of ROE MC-7 LED screen, referred to as the Venetian, which pivoted down into view at certain points during the show. All video content was run through two d3 4x4 pro media servers—specified and programmed by Icarus Wilson-Wright.
Discussing other elements of the design, Will explained: “Mid-stage we have the Mythos trusses, which are basically a long truss split into 5 independent and automated sections which are choreographed tightly with the video through the show. I’ve always wanted to work some automation into the Disclosure show and for the summer festivals we managed to use three moving trusses, now we’re in arenas, it’s five.” Each section of the truss is loaded with four Clay Paky Mythos moving lights and seven Philips Nitro 510C LED strobes. “The Mythos is perfect for a show like this, they’re so flexible and versatile you can create plenty of contrasting looks with them. They have lots of sparkle when you need it and a really nice beam to cut through a high power LED screen. The Nitros accentuate the line from the the Mythos trusses and we use them a lot when they are moving around to create drama. One of the great things about Nitro is that you can butt them up next to one another to make a single, seamless batten which I haven’t found in any other high power LED strobe.”
Will’s an agile designer who has both creative and technical prowess in abundance, watching his incredible work with Disclosure, it is evident their style of music is very close to Will’s heart. His efforts are not simply the result of a paid obligation, but the product of a deeper interest and passion. Will told me: “I’ve always been passionate about music and its representation in live performance. I’ve been with Disclosure for all of their shows so this particular show is close to heart.”
Roy Hunt commented: “Working with Will is a real pleasure, he always comes to me with a precise vision of what he wants to achieve—then we work together to realise the design he’s come up with. Some of the ideas Will has are so exciting to be part of, he continually pushes the boundaries of what is and isn’t possible with the technology available to us. His attention to detail is second to none and that’s visible when you watch one of his shows, so much work goes in in the background, but the result is a seamless, awe-inspiring light show which Will makes look effortless.”
Will programmed the show with James Scott and runs it from a GrandMa2 lighting console. When asked about the merits of using timecode over manually operating a live show, Will said: “With the new Disclosure show, running things live and hands on was never a viable option as there are just too many cues for one set of hands. The boys on stage, as well as the rest of the visual crew need this consistency on these big shows so they can concentrate on their parts – especially with screens, trusses and hydraulic lifts moving around. The whole show is programmed to timecode which makes running the show very simple, allowing me to oversee and tweak as necessary. There is one song I operate manually, which is during a section in the show where the boys go off on a tangent away from the set list. It’s nice to manually operate once in a while,” Will smiles.
There are few other lighting designers who show the same level of commitment and dedication that Will does to Disclosure. He told me his first show with the band was at Manchester’s Academy 2 back in March 2013, since then he’s designed, directed and operated the lights and video for every Disclosure show around the world, with the exception of two or three dates. Will explained: “Physically touring the show is part of developing the design, it’s here we learn what does and doesn’t work both visually, musically and technically so you have to be there and be part of it initially. I wouldn’t tour for the length of every campaign, but with these guys it’s a pleasure to be part of each show.”
Working with the Cambridge Live Trust and their Production Manager, Andrew Keightly, PRG XL Video has continued its long-running relationship with the Cambridge Folk Festival.
Each year the festival takes place in Cherry Hinton, Cambridge UK, and attracts the very best folk music artists from around the world. The festival site includes a range of stages arranged around a central area where many audience members choose to sit.
This year the main stage tent saw performances from artists including Christy Moore, Gogol Bordello, Imelda May, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Glen Hansard. Ensuring the audiences had a great view of the main stage performances, two LED screens, each 3.6 x 2.4 metres, were located either side of the entrance to the tent.
PRG XL Video Senior Account Manager, Paul Wood, specified ROE Visual MC-7T Blackface LED for the screens. The product is IP65 rated, rigged in the company’s custom touring frames, and the resolution is high. It not only gives a great view of proceedings for everyone outside of the Main stage marquee, but also looks great on television broadcasts. Highlights of the festival were recently broadcast on Sky Arts.
Paul Wood comments: “We’re very happy to once again support the Cambridge Folk Festival with IMAG screens for the main stage. It’s great to work with Andrew Keightly and the Cambridge Live Trust as the festival grows in popularity every year!”
Birmingham’s New Alexandra Theatre is playing host to this summer’s Stage Experience production of Grease, including Lighting Designer Colin Wood’s elaborate vision of bringing the popular musical to the Birmingham stage.
The annual youth project, organised by the New Alexandra Theatre owners Ambassadors Theatre Group (ATG) attracts students aged between nine and twenty-four to experience working on a large scale production within a professional theatre environment. This year’s Stage Experience project attracted 128 students from across the Birmingham area; aside from the actors, others have taken up roles in stage management, costume design, and technical theatre.
Colin Wood contacted PRG XL Video Account Manager John Pauls with his vision for lighting the show, and summarised his involvement with the production: “This is my fourth year lighting Stage Experience, we’ve always made a really big effort to create a professional environment for the students to work in, similar to those on a West End or touring musical. However, this year I came up with a design which goes so much further than anything we’ve done before. Once I’d successfully sold the idea to ATG, I needed to find suitable technology partners to work with to make it all happen. John Pauls was really excited when I showed him visualisations of the design and agreed to come on board straight away. The main attraction of working with PRG XL Video was the GroundControl followspot, which is such a versatile tool for followspotting in theatre.”
To facilitate Colin’s design, PRG XL Video supplied almost 100 metres of slick lite beam truss, arranged in three portals with interconnecting and movable bridges which come in during the show. Colin commented: “Building a complex structure out of triangular truss brings complications, due to the number of joints and angles involved, there were numerous challenges we had to work around to build the truss structure, which is one of the main aspects of the design.” Around the edges of the truss are 85 Sunstrip tungsten battens, with 28 Chauvet Colourdash LED pin spots inside as truss warmers. Other lighting products supplied by PRG include 11 GS beam moving lights, two Martin Jem Glaciator X-Stream smoke machines, a selection of ETC Source Fours and two GroundControl remote followspot systems.
Production Electrician Jim Worrall commented: “The scale of this production is phenomenal, considering when all’s said and done, it’s a youth drama show. What we’ve achieved here is to put together a rig which is on a par with a full-scale, number one touring musical for five shows of Stage Experience. All the work is worth it because it gives the kids an opportunity to work in a professional theatre environment within Colin’s exceptional design.”
Two lighting students, Josh and Amy have been working alongside Colin, Jim and New Alexandra Theatre Technical Manager Ceri Wych. Colin added: “Josh and Amy have gained a very in-depth insight during this production, they’ve been instrumental in building the rig and during the show will each undertake very responsible roles; Amy will be overseeing the use of GroundControl, whilst operating and directing another followspot operator. Josh will be running the show from the lighting console.”
Colin and Josh are using a Hog 4 and 2 DP8000s, supplied by Colin’s company, Pre Production Services. Colin explained that the SGM LB-100 Bobble string contains over 3000 RGB balls, spread over three different LED curtains which fly in and out at specific times during the show. Because each ball is individually mapped back to the Hog 4, and because Colin is using so many lighting products—there are over 4300 fixtures programmed into the console, across thirty-three DMX universes (take away the Bobble String and there’s still twelve universes of DMX). Jim Worrall said: “These numbers really illustrate the scale of production we’ve put together for Grease, to control thirty-three universes from a single console is almost unheard of, and testament to Colin’s capabilities as a programmer. Most major touring musicals we have in the Alex use a maximum of four universes.”
Colin summarised his experience using GroundControl: “I was really excited to incorporate the remote followspot on one of my shows, but the reality of using it surpassed all expectations. We hung the Bad Boy followspot luminaires from a truss above the grand circle, which was the optimum position for them, and somewhere that would have been totally inaccessible for a regular followspot. The spot operators were located on the OP lighting gantry; so without direct line of sight to the stage, they were reliant on using the GroundControl screen to follow the actors around the stage. I had control of everything except pan, tilt and intensity from the console, therefore I could control the beam size and level of frost and ensure it was identical for each followspot. I also limited the output levels, so the intensity of each unit was balanced. All in all, it’s an excellent product which gives designers ultimate control of where a followspot is placed and how it’s operated. I cannot recommend GroundControl highly enough.”
Grease runs at the New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham 17th-20th August. To take part in next year’s Stage Experience production of West Side Story, please contact the theatre.
Show photography by Jim Worrall, visualisations by Colin Wood using Capture.
On Friday 1st July, the 41st Silver Clef Awards took place at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London. The event celebrated the work of the music therapy charity, as well as presenting awards to music industry artists such as Jeff Lynne, Lionel Richie, Florence Welch, Massive Attack, and Olly Murs.
The O2 Silver Clef Awards is a fundraising event, raising over £600,000 on the day from ticket sales for the lunch, a variety of silent auction lots, on-the-day charitable donations by the attendees, and the proceeds of a huge charity auction hosted by Mark Goodier and Christie’s youngest ever auctioneer, Tom Best.
PRG XL Video has supported Nordoff Robbins for many years and continued that support for the Silver Clef Awards, supplying high brightness projection across three giant screens in the Grosvenor House Great Room; camera system which captured all the awards action; and LCD screens around the room which were used for presenter prompts and to display information from the silent auction.
The company is also sponsoring the artist films which have been created to showcase each of the award winners for 2016, and includes footage of their visits to Nordoff Robbins’ headquarters in London, where they saw the charity’s life-changing music therapy in action.
The films will be released via Nordoff Robbins YouTube channel in the coming weeks.
PRG XL Video Marketing & Communication Director, Alison Barclay, commented: “We’re delighted to continue our support for Nordoff Robbins. The music therapy they provide is literally life-changing and we have seen their work affect many children and adults in positive ways over the decades of their work. We are happy to contribute to that by supporting this event and sponsoring the artist films again this year.”
Continuing a working relationship which spans over a decade, PRG XL Video is supplying video projection for DJ Shadow’s current tour in support of his latest album, ‘The Mountain Will Fall’.
DJ Shadow’s current worldwide tour uses a compact on-stage technical set-up backed with a custom-built triple projection screen built by Hangman/Metalman in Norwich, UK. The three screens are angled around the DJ and producer, making him central to the content.
Created by video director, multimedia producer and long-term collaborator, Ben Stokes, and by Shadow himself, much of the content for the show are original visuals inspired by the music, including some creative which ties in with the new album.
To supplement the custom-built touring projection screen, PRG XL Video are supplying the tour with four Panasonic PT DZ21KE projectors, each supplying 20,000 lumens brightness, across the three screens. They were also chosen due to their compact size.
A further voile screen is used downstage to create a ‘holographic’ effect, and one of the Panasonic units is used to project onto this screen from the rear using a 0.38 ultra short throw lens.
PRG XL Account Manager, Jay Mobbs-Beal comments: “We’re very happy to continue working with DJ Shadow, Ben Stokes, and Tour Manager, Ed Hutchinson to provide projection for this new touring set. The show is very much based around video, but with the tour visiting a wide variety of countries and venues worldwide, our technical brief required us to make the maximum impact with the smallest possible footprint. The Panasonic 20k projectors are ideal in that respect.”
Working closely with Imagination’s Production Director, Matt Rose, and Production Manager, Matt Francis, PRG XL Video supplied a range of key event technology including video screens and control systems, lighting and rigging, for Make the Future London incorporating Shell Eco-marathon Europe, which took place at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in East London, UK.
The annual Shell Eco-marathon events take place across Asia, the Americas and Europe. This year the European event was part of Make the Future London – a festival of ideas and innovation. The events challenge young engineers to design, build and drive energy efficient vehicles that go as far as possible on the least amount of fuel. The student teams compete in a number of categories on a variety of circuits.
For the Shell Eco-marathon Europe in London, the circuit was built in the Olympic Park and surrounded with a range of interactive experiences which the public could enjoy, whilst learning about Shell’s support for future energy sources and technologies.
Over the three-day event, 30,000 members of the public visited the site. PRG XL Video’s Account Manager, Rich Pow, worked with the team from Imagination to realise the extensive video brief across a variety of areas. He comments: “It’s always a pleasure to work on the Shell Eco-marathon events with Imagination. Their team are second to none, and their designers, production and health and safety staff ensure that the creative idea is delivered to the highest standard. We were delighted to support them with the technology they needed to make the event a success.”
Across the site, a variety of areas incorporated technology from PRG XL Video. In the Future Cities area a cinema area consisting of three 5m x 3m Unilumin high resolution LED screens formed a slightly curved cinema screen, which displayed educational films about energy technology. In the Energy Mix area, an additional high resolution LED screen; and eight Samsung 55” screens, mounted vertically displayed a variety of information and video content.
Outside, a centrally located main stage saw musical performances, including Pixie Lott, and appearances from celebrities including Formula 1 World Champion, Kimi Räikkönen, and football legend, Pelé, alongside presenters Rachel Riley, Jamie Laing, and Alex Brooker.
PRG XL Video supplied all rigging and lighting for the stage as well two ROE MC-7 7mm LED video screens – one either side of the stage. These displayed IMAG footage from two wireless cameras in the pits, and on the main stage, two cameras fixed above the Eco-Marathon circuit, and from eight of Imagination’s 4G camera which were mounted in or on the cars. PRG XL Video’s central control area on site included a Grass Valley Kayak-based portable production unit (PPU), which took all the camera feeds, and fed them to the IMAG screens with live vision mix by Mark McCaffrey.
Close to the main stage, in the Pavegen area, an interactive football game for children helped visitors learn about the power of energy. Two outdoor LED screens, built into the set displayed timings and the best scores from across the weekend.
PRG XL Video supplied Barco e2 screen control systems located in the central control area, and these were used to manage the various content feeds to the LED screens and monitors across all the main areas.
Imagination’s Harry Tabner was the lighting designer for Make the Future London, specifying the most energy efficient fixtures possible across the site. PRG XL Video’s Account Manager Cameron Bannister, worked with Tabner, and Imagination’s lighting crew chief, Ross Corbett, to specify LED lamps wherever possible, keeping power consumption to the minimum.
In the Future Energy pavilion, a temporary structure near to the circuit, PRG XL Video supplied rigging and lighting via a central truss. HMI pars were used for the exhibition space highlighting interactive games, exhibits which explained the development of new fuels, and even a Ferrari Formula 1 car alongside an explanation of how the sport is developing and embracing new technology to power the world’s fastest racing series. The pars were selected as discharge lamps are more energy efficient than their tungsten equivalents.
The Future Energy pavilion also included a variety of large monitor screens around the exhibits displaying information films. They were also used on an interactive exhibit with stationery bicycles with monitors powered by the bikes.
Within the exhibit, a set of transparent running orbs were set up, and PRG XL used their GLP impression 120 RZ LED lamps to light the orbs and make them glow within the indoor environment.
On the main stage, Tabner’s design was informed by the stage structure, which had a weight limit. With this in mind, he opted for a floor package consisting of lighting totems built from Mini Beam Truss Towers. The fixtures needed to be bright and punchy for daylight use, and PRG XL supplied a combination of PRG Icon Beams, Sun Strips, and Solaris Flares for the maximum impact.
For the Shell Eco-marathon Europe, Imagination constructed a temporary circuit for the energy efficient cars to run on. Enabling the public to cross the track, a bridge was constructed and one side of this included an 8.4m wide x 2.4 metre high LED video screen. The screen was used to display live social media posts from the public using the #makethefuture hashtag, as well as practice heat and race announcements.
Rigged below the screen, at the front of the race grid, five pairs of PRG XL’s Expolite LED fixtures were used to create a set of traditional starting lights, which gave the racing teams the signal at the start of each session. The Expolite units are energy efficient, and offer plenty of brightness in sunlight. They are also IP rated to make them weatherproof which made them the ideal fixture for outdoor use.
Nearby in the paddock and parc ferme area an array of LCD screens were used to display results and timings for the competitors and public. The temporary paddock and preparation areas were fully covered with lighting and rigging from PRG XL.
As part of the package of technology and services provided, PRG XL Video’s Account Manager, Ade Stead and Head of Rigging, Q Willis, and worked closely with Imagination’s team on the rigging specified, preparing the necessary CDM (construction, design and management) regulatory paperwork for all the rigging, lighting and video across the site.
In a further efficiency PRG XL Video used their Smartmast structural system for a large windsail banner located by the start-finish line. The Smartmast system allows for the ballast loading required to be calculated based on surface areas within a set of specified parameters. Because the system uses pre- certified designs within its parameters, it does not require any additional calculation or inspection by a structural engineer, saving time and costs on site.
Cameron Bannister sums up: “We really enjoyed supporting the team at Imagination on Make the Future London, supplying a full package of lighting, rigging, and video for the event. The technology we supplied helped contribute to the energy efficiency of the event, and our crew across all three disciplines delivered to the highest standard.”
British Electronic duo Bondax are just heading out on a U.S. tour, after which they return to tour the UK and mainland Europe in the Autumn.
The duo work with Spirit Design for the technical production of their live shows, and Lighting Designer, Owen Pritchard-Smith has brought in PRG XL Video to supply a package of creative video and lighting technology for the upcoming tour. The package includes semi-transparent LED tiles mounted on to vertical trusses and paired with lighting fixtures which can shine through the LED during the show.
Pritchard-Smith, along with PRG XL’s Dana Read, took the opportunity to use the company’s demo space for pre-programming and content testing for the tour.
PRG XL Video’s Account Manager Cameron Bannister commented: “Whilst PRG is known for working with the biggest music acts in the world, we also work with a variety of artists as they develop their audiences, and their shows grow in creativity and complexity. We’re very happy to work with Spirit Design and Bondax as they head out on their latest tour.
“As PRG has locations worldwide, we’re able to support the tour in both US and UK/Europe with matching equipment, but without the cost and delays of transporting equipment across the Atlantic.”
The 2016 Metal Hammer Golden God awards took place at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith on 13th June, and PRG XL Video was delighted to supply lighting, video and rigging technology as well as sponsoring the best live band category.
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Metal Hammer magazine; parent company, TeamRock, moved the event to a larger venue and planned to pull out all the stops with an action-packed, jaw-dropping show. Lighting designer Steve Abbiss was appointed by PRG XL Video account director Andrew Strachan, who took care of the lighting and rigging needs of the show. Abbiss explained, “Although the Golden Gods is billed as an awards show, it’s actually a gig with four different bands playing and a bit of talking in between. It’s a bit like doing a festival main stage, in that you have to come up with an all encompassing rig that gives a bit of something to each act for them to feel it’s theirs. The general brief came from a base rider from each band and the front cover to Motorhead’s ‘No Sleep ‘till Hammersmith’ vinyl; the outcome was basically a blend of each plot. There were some additions on the day which took the form of dragons and tombstones for Amon Amarth and the truly glorious Saxon eagle. For those bands which were playing and brought their own operator/designer, I programmed their own pages for them to play around with, although we had some pretty tight time constraints, I think everybody was happy with the end results.”
The Hammersmith stage was chock full of lighting technology, comprising of a detailed floor package and five flown trusses as well as lights mounted on the front circle and at the very back of the auditorium. Some of the key lighting products used include: PRG Best Boy spot HPs, Clay Paky Stormy LED strobes, Chauvet Strike 4 LED Molfays, GLP X4 and X4S LED wash lights, Clay Paky Sharpy washes, Vari*Lite VL1000 ts/ti fixtures and SGM P5 LED wash lights. Dimming was serviced by Avolites ART2000 48 way dimmers and motor control by the Kinesys manufactured PRG Digihoist controller.
Abbiss explained his choice of lighting products, “The brief was very clear: to create a classic rock look, straight out of the 80s, I wanted to replicate the use of par cans with the classic look of rows of six, but still be able to manipulate the colours, Vari*Lite VL5s were the ideal choice and I’m really happy with how they looked. I added in some ACL fans to complete the rock look. PRG Best Boys gave great spot coverage and the VL1000s worked brilliantly as front key lights. We had some SGM P5s on the floor which provided a nice, wide angled glow when needed. I used the Chauvet Strike 4 LED blinders on truss towers on the stage and when the correct dimmer option was selected they matched their tungsten counterparts in the air perfectly.” Abbiss specified an Avolites Sapphire Touch as his console, and used PRG node plusses to distribute DMX.
This year’s Golden God awards were presented by Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta and featured performances by the theatrical Amon Amarth, Grammy award winners Halestorm, and French metal innovators Gojira. The evening was peppered with tributes to Lemmy who passed away at the end of December and tokens of recognition for the immense contribution he made to rock and metal music were powerful and frequent. Closing the show was a ‘Salute to Lemmy’, British rockers Saxon were joined on stage by Motorhead’s guitarist Phil Campbell and drummer Mikkey Dee for a high-octane finale featuring Motorhead classics ‘Ace of Spades’, ‘Born to Raise Hell’ and ‘Overkill’.
PRG XL Video also supplied a 5.4M x 3M 7mm LED wall, fed by Playback Pro running on a MacBook. Account Director Stefaan Michels commented, “We did the Golden Gods last year at Indigo in the O2, where we used projection. Going into a bigger venue with more ambient light we needed an alternative solution which would be sharp and punchy. The ROE 7mm screen is perfect for this kind of show, it’s really bright and the resolution always exceeds expectations.”
2016 was the second year PRG XL Video have been sponsors of the Golden Gods and continuing our close relationship with TeamRock. Alexander Milas, Executive Director of TeamRock said, “Moving the Metal Hammer Golden God awards to the Eventim Apollo, aka Hammersmith, was no easy task—one of the most historic and iconic venues in rock and metal just can’t look anything but superb, but PRG XL Video helped us make our 2016 event look genuinely spectacular. Their team were creative and helpful at every step and I couldn’t recommend the highly enough.”
Congratulations to all the winners, including Lamb of God, who won the best live band award sponsored by PRG XL Video.