Each year, the very best in television is recognised at the National Television Awards. Taking place in late January, the awards, which are voted for by the British public, honour television shows, actors and presenters in a range of categories.
Producers Indigo TV bring together a variety of technical suppliers to support both the glamorous red carpet arrival space and the awards at The O2 in London, which are broadcast live on ITV.
Continuing a long-running relationship, PRG XL Video supplied both video and lighting technology for this year’s event.
Video Account Manager Paul Wood has worked with Indigo TV’s Andy Bates for a number of years, and this year supplied the production team with the main LED backdrop made up of ROE Visual 7mm LED. The screen is used for all the main title logos, category information and video clips in the hall.
Playback footage was driven by two of PRG XL’s Catalyst media servers, with a PPU forming the link between the live camera footage and the four large IMAG screens located around the O2. These screens used 30k and 14k Barco projectors, and ensured the audience in the arena got a close-up view of the presenters and performers reactions as the awards were announced.
Paul Wood commented: “It’s great to work on the NTAs once again. Andy and the whole Indigo TV team put together a fantastic looking show each year, which runs very smoothly. It’s a pleasure to support them.”
On the lighting side, TV Account Director, Kelly Cornfield worked with designer Dave Davey to provide a wide variety of fixtures for both the glamorous red carpet arrivals area, and the main lighting rig inside the O2.
Sam Healey was the crew chief for the red carpet area, whilst PRG XL’s live event specialist Richard Gorrod oversaw the lighting inside the venue.
The lighting rig used many of PRG’s proprietary fixtures including 70 super bright Icon Beams, plus an array of Best Boy spots and washes, alongside GLP X4 and SGM P5 LED lights. Alex Mildenhall and John Ford ran the desks for the show.
PRG’s award-winning GroundControlTM Followspot System was also used on the show. The system features specially customised followspots flown as part of the lighting rig, whilst the controllers and operators can be located anywhere in the building within 600m of the fixture. This enables the lighting designer to locate the followspot in the best possible position without blocking out seats, or obstructing any views from the audience.
Kelly Cornfield commented: “We’re happy to work with Dave Davey to realise his lighting design which looked spectacular on TV. Our onsite crews led by Rich and Sam worked brilliantly to ensure everything looked good and worked well for the live broadcast.”
The curtain has now fallen on one of the most unique and inspiring theatre spaces London has seen in recent years. We look back on the yearlong season at Found111, and the final production: Fool for Love.
In mid-2015, London based theatre producer Emily Dobbs recognised an opportunity when she discovered the derelict former home of Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design. She took out a short-term lease and formed Found111, breathing one last gasp of air into a very special place. Well known creatives such as Stella McCartney, Jarvis Cocker, Alexander McQueen and Paloma Faith were schooled within the walls; the Sex Pistols played their first public performance there back in November 1975, when they supported the little-known pub rock band Bazooka Joe. It was a space which oozed with creativity.
Found111’s opening performance, The Dazzle, made a stampeding announcement: here was a venue and producer with serious intentions. Publications such as The Stage, The Guardian and The Evening Standard were wooed by the stylised Productions of the Dazzle, Bug,Unfaithful and the swansong piece: Fool for Love. Susannah Clap wrote in the Observer: “Every now and then a particular theatre becomes a breeding ground. It becomes indispensable. Which is the case with Emily Dobbs’ Found111. It is not only that this unlikely theatrical space, at the top of several punitive flights of stairs next to Foyles bookshop on Charing Cross Road, has been terrifically well programmed with ferocious plays. It is also that it’s productions have been detailed and unsparing. The physical conditions—the low ceiling, the cramped room where the audience almost spill onto the stage—mean that the space itself becomes a magnifying glass for actors.”
Director Simon Evans, a key member of Dobbs’ team, returned to Found111 to direct Sam Shepard’s Fool for Love, a tense play set in a run-down Mojave Desert motel. Ripper Street duo Adam Rothenburg and Lydia Wilson were electric in their portrayal of Eddie and May—the audience gripped the edge of their seats, never knowing which way their moods’ would next be flung. Joe McGann was excellent in his croaky turn as the ironically named Old Man character, with Luke Neal contributing brilliantly as third wheel Martin.
Set Designer Ben Stones and Lighting Designer Elliot Griggs created arguably the most impressive and visually impactful performance environment employed at Found111. With limited space, resources and time; the creative duo worked with Simon and Emily to offer Found111 regulars a fresh interpretation of the space.
Elliot explained his approach to lighting Fool for Love: “Ben had a clear aesthetic in mind for the production so I had a good idea of what the lighting needed to achieve. Ben had built a detailed scale model of the set, which I recreated in Vectorworks, enabling me to visualise the space in 3D and work out the practicalities of how to light it. Found111 was an interesting space, which needed to be approached more like an installation than a standard theatre environment. The majority of the action took place in the motel room, which we lit in a very naturalistic way, around the motel is what looks like an enormous mound of mud, which we used to represent a different world to the motel. It was key for both areas to co-exist and for the actors to be able to move freely between them, but for them to be lit very differently. It was important to keep the motel room natural looking, whilst the outside area was very stylised and lit with stark, fluorescent lighting.”
Elliot discussed the benefits of pre-visualising the space in Vectorworks: “Because the fit-up time was very tight, the awkward architecture of the space and the lighting being mounted on unistrut rather than truss or bars, there was no margin for error when we got into the venue. If the unistrut went up in the wrong place and we had to move it—that would take away time we didn’t have. Building the whole theatre space in a 3D visualiser such as Vectorworks was brilliant because it let me see my lighting design from every angle. Ben was particularly concerned about certain lights being hidden from view, so I viewed the performance area from several different seating positions to make sure everything was spot-on.”
With such a specific brief and definite idea of how the environment should look, Elliot explained his choice of lighting fixtures: “Ben and I were keen to use a digital light curtain (DLC) style effect, upstage of the motel room in what is essentially no-man’s land. I initially looked at the GLP X4 Bar 20 LED battens, but eventually opted for the excellent GLP X4S lights, which gave me an enormous amount of flexibility. The X4S has a massive zoom range and beautiful, rich colours. There’s one section in the play where they are used to represent headlights sweeping across the stage, so the pan and tilt functionality was an added bonus over my original idea of the bar. The rest of the lighting in the motel and at front of house is exclusively tungsten fresnels; the space is very tight, with less than three metres between the floor and ceiling, so using source fours wasn’t a viable option because they take up a lot more space. All the conventionals were lamped down to below 650W to economise on power consumption due to the limited amperage available in the theatre.”
Emily Dobbs, who was recently made The Stage’s top 100 list, explained why she chose to stage Fool for Love in Found111: “I have always loved Fool for Love. There is a raw, visceral potency to Sam Shepard’s writing which is tremendously exciting to realise creatively. I had always wanted to do Fool for Love in an intimate space to respond to the claustrophobic, obsessive nature of the central relationship. So when Found111 opened, Fool for Love was immediately on my hit list. Sam Shepard’s agent remarked on how Found111 responded intrinsically to the anarchic spirit in Mr. Shepard—Simon Evans and I felt exactly the same. Found's gritty, crumbling facade was the perfect vessel to create a world about an addictive, intoxicating and dangerous relationship. Fool for Love, like all the plays we have staged at Found111, examines, with a forensic and sometimes unnerving eye, the dysfunctionality and all-consuming dependence of relationships. And both the ecstasy and destruction they create. Fool for Love is the pinnacle of these themes and I therefore felt a fitting finalé to Found111's yearlong season.”
Fool for Love continued in the same vein as the previous productions at Found111, receiving deservedly flattering reviews and critical recognition. Daisy Bowie-Sell wrote in What’s on Stage: “Fool for Love is a suitably ambitious piece to end on in a space where ambition has always been the name of the game.”Everything Theatre’s Charlotte Rose added: “This production perfectly captures the dramatic tension of Shepard’s dialogue, with a first-class cast that deliver every line in this relatively compact play with the reverence it deserves…the set design is effective and lighting design enjoyably eerie.”
Following the final performance on December 17th, and the magnificent send-off party; the doors have now closed for the last time and the magical space is bestowed to the annals of history. Emily reflected on the experience of running Found111: “Looking back to Autumn last year when I made the decision to take on a found space for as long as it lasted, I barely stopped to think about the challenges. I was so excited by the opportunity that Soho Estates had given me; I could programme the venue and produce my own shows at the same time. Running a space that was teetering on the edge of dereliction was surely just a matter of working really hard and pulling in a few favours! Twelve months later I can say that this is definitely true, I've worked harder than I ever have in my life and built a hugely valuable network of supporters and advocates around me that have enabled Found111 to become the success story it is. Running a found space has taught me to be enormously resourceful, scouring eBay for set elements, scavenging through salvage yards at weekends, literally every element has had to be 'found' somewhere and it becomes an overriding obsession that as each production has been confirmed you want to make it as exciting and ambitious as the last.”
Emily continued: “One of the most exciting parts of running a found space has been the ability to reinvent the venue each time and surprise our loyal audiences. The Dazzle and Fool for Love used a thrust stage, Unfaithful a traverse and Bug was staged on a variation of a thrust; almost `in the round`. We have had to stage each production around a central weight bearing pillar that has posed its own unique challenge, as has the size of the backstage areas and even the logistics of how the cast reach the dressing rooms on the floor below. However, rather than see these as limitations we have used them as vital parts of the creative process that have forced us to think outside the norm. It was an emotional day when we said goodbye to Found111, but the physical elements weren't important, we stripped back and returned the space to its original empty shell, then started our journey to find the next space and all of the exciting challenges that come with it. This is why I'm so keen to retain the Found name with whatever door number we end up residing at next because Found isn't about the physical space, it's about an ethos and a state of mind.”
Although Found111 no longer exists, Emily and her production company are busy planning their next move: “Found111 was an absolutely blank canvas with no infrastructure whatsoever but a hugely creative history that profoundly influenced the work that was staged there. That combined with the central location was what attracted me to it as a venue. This means there are no rules for the next Found, though experience says a central West End location has been critical to Found111’s success. We hope to find a similarly successful relationship as the one we have had with Soho Estates and are currently talking to local stakeholders as well as private companies. Simultaneously I will be working on freelance projects with Emily Dobbs Productions. Watch this space!”
Account Manager John Pauls, who coordinated the supply of PRG XL Video equipment to each of the shows concluded: “Working with Emily Dobbs and her team was a fantastic experience, we all fed off of their creative energy and were excited by her projects at Found111. Working with the Lighting Designers for Bug, Unfaithful and Fool for Love, Richard Howell, James Whiteside and Elliot Griggs respectively, was enlightening because each one of them approached the challenges of limited space and power in their own way and used their creative expertise to realise wonderful designs. We’re all keen to see which path Emily Dobbs Productions takes next, and look forward to working with Emily and her team on future projects.”
Television survival expert and adventurer, Bear Grylls, took to the road on a high-tech arena tour during the tail end of 2016. PRG XL Video supported Lighting Designer Adam Bassett, from lighting design company Woodroffe Bassett Design, with a comprehensive package of lighting and rigging for the show. Adam was keen to share his experience of being a key designer on this ambitious production:
How did Woodroffe Bassett Design become involved with the Bear Grylls Live?“We were invited to get involved by the producer Harvey Goldsmith and Luke Carr from the Live Firm. This combined with a good working relationship with Stufish, the creative production company behind the show, made this project a good fit for us.”
Please explain the concept behind the Bear Grylls Live Show:“This was a really unique production. A mix of live storytelling and staged re-enactment, all bought to life with video, lighting and sound in an immersive format. The show took the audience on a journey, re-telling a number of the most extraordinary stories of endurance and survival. Our job was to work alongside the video material and paint an ever changing environment that bought the audience into the story rather than simply watching it.”
Could you explain the design, what looks you wanted to achieve and the technology you used to fulfil your vision?“Everything was about texture and colour. The lighting concept can most easily be described as environmental. Far from being merely a backdrop, video was integral to the show and lead the way visually, in terms of colour palette and timeline, and we followed by painting the bigger picture around the projected imagery and over the audience. The second element to lighting the show was making sure the action was well lit, for which the complexity could not be underestimated. Bear was a moving target, sometimes on-stage, sometimes flying and on many occasions climbing up a video projected wall. This made lighting him extremely difficult whilst protecting the video image from stray followspots. The ideal solution for this was to use the PRG GroundControl remote followspots, we had six of them in various locations which allowed us to precisely follow him from the most appropriate angle at all times. Furthermore, it allowed us to program every attribute of the light to make sure it was perfectly balanced with the other lighting and video—something that would be far too complex to have a manual operator achieve particularly in regards to live colour mixing.”
What was the biggest challenge you faced bringing the show to the stage?“Key lighting Bear to a level where the audience and IMAG can clearly see yet doesn’t obviously look like he’s being followspotted and removed from the environment.”
The Woodroffe Bassett team on Bear Grylls, left to right: Nico Bray (Tour Lighting Director), Terry Cook (Associate Lighting Designer), Adam Bassett (Lighting Designer). Cameron Affleck (Lighting Assistant), John Coman (Lighting Programmer).
Lighting products used in Adam’s design included a large number of PRG proprietary lighting products, including the Bad Boy spot, Best Boy spot, Best Boy wash and six PRG GroundControl followspot systems. Other lighting fixtures used on the tour were GLP Impression X4 moving lights, iPix BB4 and Chauvet Strike 4 LED lights.
PRG XL Video’s Account Director Yvonne Donnelly Smith coordinated the supply of lighting and rigging for the tour: “Working with Woodroffe Bassett is always a good experience, Adam’s a great designer, ably assisted on this project by the very talented Terry Cook. The Bear Grylls show was something very different from what we normally do—we all jumped at the additional and unexpected challenges. It was clear from the outset that GroundControl would be the only option for followspots, because of the acrobatic work Bear does during the show, conventional followspots wouldn’t have worked as well. It was a rewarding project to work on, and a pleasure to continue our relationship with Adam and the rest of the team at Woodroffe Bassett.”
Students from Rose Bruford College’s Creative Lighting Control course recently visited PRG XL Video’s flagship facility in Longbridge. During their three-day experience, the students were given an overview of PRG XL, a tour of the 165,000ft2 warehouse and office building, introductory tutorials on the use of lighting, rigging and video technology on live events from members of the in-house Event Services & Rigging team, and spent time working in a number of the Warehouse Departments.
PRG XL Video Development Director, John McEvoy, explained: “Rose Bruford is one of a number of educational establishments we enjoy a close working relationship with. Their Creative Lighting Control course is one of particular interest to us—the students tend to be more hands on and focused on making a production happen. Alex Peters, one of our Event Service Coordinators, graduated from this course back in 2013.”
Course tutor, Rachel Nicholson said: “Being able to bring the students to PRG XL Video Longbridge is a fantastic experience. For most of them, their previous exposure to a rental company has been just seeing a flight case roll of the back of a truck, but by visiting PRG XL they get to appreciate what goes into preparing equipment ready for use on a show. John and I worked closely to tailor the three days and make sure the students and PRG XL got as much out of the experience as possible. Our students come from a variety of different backgrounds with varying levels of exposure to the industry. The feedback from them is that their eyes are now much more open to career options within a company like PRG XL—a huge factor behind that is the wide variety of skillsets and career choices available in a facility like Longbridge.”
Student Jana Jansen said: “The rigging session was brilliant. I’d never considered rigging as a serious option for me, but now I’m really keen to find out more and maybe work towards becoming a Rigger. I go climbing twice a week, so maybe it’s the perfect career path for me.” Fellow students Tilly Stratford and Tom Harrison said: “It’s amazing to see such a big warehouse and how everything comes together to get the lights ready for a show. All the people who work here are very friendly and really know their stuff.”
Rachel Nicholson added: “Because of the way John and I have planned the relationship between Rose Bruford and PRG XL, for some of the students this short trip to Longbridge could represent the start of a very long interview process. During the second and third year they have the option of spending a longer placement with PRG XL, and then applying for the Graduate Training Scheme when they’ve completed the course. We’re really happy with our relationship with PRG XL. John’s been brilliant to work with and the facilities in Longbridge are second to none.”
First year student, John Piper commented: “As a wheelchair user it is often the case that you can’t access the same areas as able bodied students on site, but working with PRG XL has made me see that the industry can be accessible.”
John McEvoy concluded: “It was great to have Rachel and the Students in Longbridge for an extended period so they could really get an idea of how the operation works and what it takes to get a production out of the door. This has helped to cement an already strong relationship with Rose Bruford, and underlines PRG XL Video’s commitment to the development and support of the UK’s technical colleges to help encourage the industry’s next generation.”
When the latest Elvis Presley show took to the road, PRG XL Video were delighted to support Production Manager Peter Edmonds and supply lighting, video and rigging for the tour. 2015’s million selling album ‘If I Can Dream’, further strengthened The King’s inimitable reputation by giving him a number one album in five different decades. The tour used archive footage of Elvis, musical accompaniment by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and a personal appearance by Priscilla Presley, and gave many fans the chance they had not previously had—to experience the man who changed the course of music and went on to sell over a billion records around the world and cement his position as the biggest selling solo artist in history.
Lighting Designer Steve Sinclair is a veteran of the industry and perfectly qualified to light such an intricate and technologically innovative production. Steve explained: “The brief was straight forward, the main part of the show is the screen showing Elvis, and everything else has been designed with that in mind. We started off with the idea of having a cyclorama rear screen; a curved back wall with a projection screen and wash lighting. During rehearsals, it was decided that an LED screen would work better than projection, so we changed the back around a little. The lighting for this show has ended up being almost two separate rigs, one in the air and one on the floor lighting the orchestra. There are three trusses overhead, once curved one which follows the cyc screen and two standard, straight trusses further upstage. Lighting fixtures include the Clay Paky A.leda K10 LED wash light and the A.leda B-eye K20 high performance LED was and effects light. The key lighting product I used was the PRG Bad Boy, which is such a great fixture, because it’s so bright, I can get away with using less lights than if I had chosen a similar fixture, yet still get the same effect. SGM P5s were also used, as well as a host of Vari*Lite VL3000s and VL3500s.”
The lighting team were lead by crew chief Richard Griffin, with support from Paul Makin and Simon Swift. Richard said: “The load in and out for this show is really straight forward—the two straight trusses are pre-rigged in PRG BAT truss, it takes about five minutes to slot the bits together and get the truss in the air. The three days we had in rehearsal were great and put us on the front foot for the first show. The only challenge we had was to fit the floor lighting in around the orchestra, the initial plan was done without knowing the exact position of the musicians, so we had to do quite a bit of fiddling around to get the lights where we wanted them.”
The video crew were lead by Media Server Technician Clarke Anderson, with Director Dan Ormerod, Engineer Rob Fender, and LED techs Conner Camwell and Richie Jewel. Clarke explained the video element of the production: “The rear screen is ROE Visual Vanish 25 LED screen in full-width orientation, we’re using a ROE MC-7 screen in portrait format which displays Elvis and drops in and out on Kinesys. There’s one Barco HDX14 each side projecting a simple IMAG image. We’ve got three mini-cams on stage, two robo-cams and two manned cameras, one of which is fitted with a long lens and sits out at front of house by the consoles, the other Conner roams around the stage with. Playback is done through Grass Valley HD machines, all the video output is fed from a Barco e2 media server which composes and positions the content. It’s a simple system which works very well.”
Steve explained the concept for lighting the show was to keep it simple, but to have several big looks with subtle changes, very little light strayed from the stage into the audience. Steve used a Hog4 console to operate the lights and did some pre-programming in Longbridge during prep and took a WYSIWYG system on the tour with him. Steve added: “The tour sold really well and the crowd reacted brilliantly. When Elvis came on the screen they went wild, it was as though he was really there. I wasn’t really a fan of Elvis before this tour, but I certainly am now.”
Talking with lighting control operator Adam Power before the Manchester show of Bring Me the Horizon’s recent tour, their biggest to date, he described the show lighting as ‘intense’. With over 180 lighting fixtures hung on numerous trusses and built into a technology laden set, Adam’s description of Okulus duo James Scott and Louis Oliver’s design was an accurate one.
Adam added: “James and Louis created a wide vista which used the full width of the arenas, we even put five lights each side of the stage in unallocated seating to stretch the design even wider. The band were passionate about having an intense show with lots of strobing and really big looks, James and Louis did a great job of keeping it classy and refined with so much going on.”
James Scott explained the process of designing the production and why he and Louis selected the lighting fixtures used on the tour: “The initial brief given to us by the band was that they wanted a big rock show, something that made a huge statement and filled as much of the arena space as possible. One word which kept being thrown around was panoramic—we designed a narrow, ultra-widescreen format LED wall, but were careful to make sure it could fit into the different size venues BMTH were playing (sometimes with just millimetres to spare), being able to fold the screen in on itself was where the design for a wrap-around LED wall originated from. Although the playback surfaces were designed by myself and Louis, we worked with many different visual creatives to assemble the video content.”
The band’s music is high-octane and demanding, there was barely a moment of calm or respite for the audience to compose themselves as the Sheffield based metal act rattled through their explosive set list to the delight of the Manchester crowd. Adam said: “Because there is so much going on, all the lighting cues have been pre-programmed and run off of timecode on a track by track basis. Most songs have at least a dozen cues in them, which would be virtually impossible to do manually. I trigger the timecode at the start of every song, but have a couple of key lights I operate manually to follow members of the band around. The band had a huge amount of input as to how the show looks, they knew exactly what they wanted to see, and what they didn’t—as such, I’d often be tweaking certain elements of the show lighting between gigs.” Adam operated the show from a GrandMA 2console, which he loves: “The MA2 is perfect because it’s so intuitive, easy to operate and quick to program. Having additional screens was really useful when programming to timecode. The show ran on fifteen universes of DMX, controlling the video content and lasers from the MA2.”
Louis went on to explain how they achieved the brief: “Following on from the initial conversation, the band had several ideas and concepts which we took away and worked with, before presenting them with our interpretation and awaiting their feedback. Towards the final stages of pre-production, the guys really sunk their teeth into the ins and outs of everything—production rehearsals were very intense, with lots of changes, updates and additions, but we got there in the end.”
The lighting rig consisted of: Clay Paky Sharpy wash and Mythos moving lights; as well as Martin Mac Viper profile and performance intelligent lighting fixtures. James and Louis also included an array of Ayrton Magic dot LED lights and a large number of Martin Atomic 3000 LED strobes. James added: “Everyone loves the Atomic 3000, by selecting the LED version we got the best of both worlds and were able to choose between the LED and xenon operating modes; treating it as a traditional decay atomic or as a sharp and precise LED unit.”
Account Director, Yvonne Donnelly Smith leads the lighting division of PRG XL Video’s music team in the UK: “Working with James, Louis and Adam is always a pleasant experience. The Okulus boys are really creative designers with an excellent technical knowledge, and know exactly how to achieve what they want. Adam’s a highly skilled operator with an excellent work ethic.”
Photography by PRG XL Video/Matt Rakowski and Giles Smith
Centrepoint is the UK’s leading charity for homeless young people. It supports 9,000 16-25 year olds in to safe accommodation, education and employment and gives them help with any mental and physical health needs.
As part of their fundraising, Centrepoint recently held Centrepoint At The Palace - a gala charity fundraising event at Kensington Palace in the presence of HRH The Duke of Cambridge; the charity’s patron since 2005.
The gala dinner event was hosted by Centrepoint Ambassador, Jonathan Ross, and included performances from Ellie Goulding, Craig David, and Dirty Vegas, and presentation of the second annual Centrepoint awards.
Working with TFL Worldwide, and production manager Darren O’Connor, PRG XL Video’s Account Manager Gordon Torrington supported the organisers supplying lighting, rigging, and video for the star- studded event.
To prepare for the show, PRG XL’s visualisation specialist and lighting designer for this event, Alex Mead, created a full render of the lighting, rigging and video design for the team at Centrepoint. He explains: “I was able to use visualisation software in production meetings to explain design decisions to the entire team using PRG’s wireless screen technology. It also allowed me to work out the best way to light each table and guest from multiple angles, and then to pre-program most of the show from my home studio beforehand.”
Taking into account the height and weight-loading issues of working in a marquee, Mead designed a rig which included GLP Impression and SpotOne LED fixtures, VL5 washes, Clay Paky B-Eye K10s, PRG Icon Beams and Sunstrips. The onstage screens were formed from PRG XL’s ROE Visual MC-7 LED, and multiple plasma screens were arranged around the venue to give all the attendees a good view of proceedings.
Around the marquee in the Orangery and garden, PRG Bad Boy spot lights and SGM P5 LED wash lights were arranged to set the scene and lead guests in to the venue.
Alex comments: “Due to the technical challenges we faced, the lighting and stage design for this event evolved a great deal in the months prior. Luckily the Centrepoint event team, led by Richard Utting were a delight to work with and very receptive to our ideas. Crew Chiefs Dan Bunn and Dana Read, along with the rest of the team did a fantastic job on site and worked extremely hard to install the 300 lights I had specified.”
A package of graphics, logos, and information films was created for the awards and artist performances, all edited together by Jack Dickinson of Jack Rabbit Visual. These were all served to the screens via PRG XL’s media servers programmed and managed by Erica Frost. Video screens were built and managed by Gareth Manicom and Alex Mulrenan.
All the rigging was supplied by PRG XL Video, and the rigging crew chief was Felix Pascal. The team taking care of the lighting, led by Dan Bunn and Dana Read, included Adam La Femina, Henry Gillett, Roger Taillefer, Andy Murrell, Tess Larson, and Jamie Elford.
Gordon Torrington comments: “We were happy to support Centrepoint at the Palace by supplying them with equipment for this fund-raising event. Our crew did a great job realising Alex’s design and building the show in a relatively short timescale!”
PRG XL Video, the UK operation of Production Resource Group (PRG), has announced a major investment in ultra-high brightness Panasonic laser projectors. The new projectors continue the company’s policy of investing in innovative new technology.
The PT-RZ31K projectors offer a range of benefits over traditional projector technology. Traditional units average 1200 hours of use per lamp, whereas laser modules have a life of around 20,000 hours. The extended life, and subsequent reduction in maintenance make the units more efficient and cost effective to run.
The reduced heat output from the newer light source also means less cooling is required. Fan units in traditional projectors can be noisy, which is a major issue in theatres, galleries, and for corporate events, and so this efficiency makes the new laser models far quieter to operate than their counterparts.
Laser projectors also consume considerably less power than lamp-based units, and are more cost effective for venues and events to utilise. This reduction in power consumption also supports sustainability efforts, which are becoming more commonplace in the events industry.
Paul Weaver, PRG Head of Asset Management, EMEA comments: “Laser projectors are more efficient in terms of power and maintenance. These benefits were an important choice in selecting this technology, as they will make a difference for our rental clients.”
In addition to the efficiencies, the Panasonic PT-RZ31K units offer a contrast ratio of 20000:1, a marked improvement over previous UHM-lamp based models. This increase gives designers bolder, brighter graphics, and better colour reproduction, ensuring their shows will look fantastic and make the maximum impact for their clients.
A number of these 30,000 lumen projectors will be used for the brand new theatre production Bat Out Of Hell – The Musical, which opens in Manchester in early 2017. PRG XL Video’s Theatre Account Director Peter Marshall comments: “We’re looking forward to using Panasonic’s new laser projector on Bat Out Of Hell - The Musical. The bold, bright colours from this projector are perfect for this exciting new show, and will give audiences a real visual treat alongside the classic Meatloaf songs.”
For more information on the Panasonic PT-RZ31K laser projector, click here or contact your PRG XL Video Account Manager.
Based on the classic movie starring Tom Hanks, Michael Rose and Idili Theatricals Limited in association with the Bord Gais Energy Theatre Dublin, present a Theatre Royal Plymouth production of Big The Musical.
The show opened at the Theatre Royal Plymouth in November 2016 to excellent reviews, with shows at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre Dublin running across December and into New Year 2017.
The production, which stars Strictly Come Dancing champion Jay McGuinness as Josh Baskin, Diana Vickers as Susan Lawrence, and Gary Wilmot as George MacMillan, is directed and choreographed by Morgan Young.
Having worked with the team on a highly successful production of Elf The Musical in 2015, PRG XL Video’s Theatre Account Director, Peter Marshall was contacted by Michael Rose to provide lighting and video technology for the new production of Big The Musical.
Preparing for the new show, Production Manager, Hugh Borthwick visited PRG XL Video’s facility at Longbridge, Birmingham. He explains: “Simon Higlett had designed an amazing set with some great technical challenges, so it was great to work with PRG to realise his design.”
The design of the show included a wide, double-sided, curved video wall which was used as digital scenery. Mounted on to a revolve built by TR2, the video screen was a complex construction which required planning and preparation.
Hugh Borthwick continues, “We had a few demonstrations at Longbridge with the designers and director present. The Theatre Royal Plymouth’s TR2 expert practitioners Sebastian Soper and Jason Steen worked with Paul Craven, Sam Floyd, Ted Moore and Howard Eaton to create the set and ensure all the elements could work together. Total Solutions were a huge help in its assembly.
“The main challenges were how to construct the video wall with the LED panels working on both sides of the curve; how to make it travel on the middle revolve; plus, how to power it and send data to it. Once we had solutions for those questions, we also had to allow the scenic elements to fit on or around the revolve to complete the design.”
Video Designer, Ian William Galloway explains how the screen was designed: “The scenes in the show change very quickly without a lot of time to do a conventional scene change. Simon Higlett and I wanted to find a way in which we could quickly change scene, but also quickly block off large areas of the stage so it could be reset for scenes coming up. That led to the idea of a series of revolves and a revolving video wall in the middle of these.”
The screen was built in sections with each facet each containing 16 panels of ROE Visual MC-7 LED. Ian explains how these were used: “The screen wall is semi-circular, mounted on a ring revolve, with another ring revolve outside this, and a centre revolve inside. The set-up is the same on the inside and the outside of the semi-circle. This allows us to revolve downstage, and block off the centre revolve so that another scene can be built upstage while the action happens downstage.”
The use of moving panels on a revolving system meant that the video wall needed to be controlled wirelessly. Ian continues: “Since the revolves all need to be free to go in any direction, there are no cables run through the system. Instead the entire playback system is mounted within the double-sided video wall on a custom 1u-tall rack built by TRP, which hangs down the side of the wall. We control the system via wireless DMX.”
PRG XL Video’s Account Director Stefaan Michels, and Project Director LED, James Morden, worked closely with Ian William Galloway to find solutions and get the huge multi-section screen working as needed.
Ian comments: “PRG XL Video were instrumental in figuring out if and how this could be done. They set up numerous tests and demos for us to ascertain the maximum 'curve' we could apply to the wall, all of which directly influenced the size of the wall itself and all the stage technology on either side of it. They then liaised with the various engineering companies to make sure that the 'facets' (each an individual construction that tours with the LED panels built in) would fit correctly.”
Ian’s team at Mesmer worked on the content for the LED screens, which combined archive footage of New York in the 1980s, old photography, and stock footage. He comments, “We knew that one of the things to get correct was Josh and Billy’s New Jersey neighborhood, so we actually had an associate journey out to the neighborhoods used in the original film and shoot some footage of the environment. A lot of the content work involved going through and replacing things like cars and street signs with their 80s equivalents!”
As a seasoned theatre video designer, Ian uses both LED and projection across the various projects he works on. He explains how they differ and why LED works for Big The Musical: "I switch between LED and projection based on the production, but we’ve been using LED walls in shows where the video design is very scenic, or on all the time, and especially in musicals. With projected scenery you can achieve great results, but it usually has an effect on what the lighting designer can do, and they will have to ‘light around’ the projections. With LED this isn’t a problem, which means it’s a much more robust solution in a big musical, where the lighting design naturally tends to be bigger, brighter and flashier.”
The lighting design for Big The Musical was created by Olivier Award winner Tim Lutkin. He explains his approach to lighting the show: “The two main parts of the design were the lighting rig, which needed to big, bright and punchy. For a musical theatre show, I need the rig to be able to create lots of different looks, but in Big there are also play-style scenes which need a subtle approach so the sidelights are also important.”
“For Big I used a lot LED fixtures; Mac Vipers which were fantastic and we had two rows of Clay Paky Sharpy washes. The reason for the two wash sections was working around the revolving LED screen. There was a set used when the concave rear screen section was in use, and another for when the convex front screen section appeared.”
“Along with the video screen there was a big curved masking wall on one side for scene changes, and so we only had one ladder position for the side lighting. We used eight GLP Impression X4 fixtures for the side lights, used during the office and street scenes. All the other lighting was overhead.”
Aside from working around the moving video wall, Tim explained that another challenge was presented by the scene with the famous Big piano: “The piano, created by Howard Eaton, was a bit of a challenge, as we had to program it so it could be controlled through the GrandMA lighting desk.”
Tim’s original design also called for the whole auditorium to light up with a star effect. He explains: “We had VL2ks mounted on to the front of the balcony, aiming to create a starlight effect throughout the auditorium, but the fixtures weren’t right for what I had in mind. I spoke to Peter Marshall and he recommended we used the Vipers instead. They were perfect for the job.
“I work with Pete regularly on a variety of jobs, and he and his team are super-efficient at making the right suggestions which get us to the right place with the fixtures we need within the budget.”
Peter Marshall commented: “It’s great to continue our relationship with the team who created the hugely popular Christmas run of Elf The Musical last year, and Big The Musical has been a real pleasure to work on. The design of the show is technically challenging, and we’re very happy to play our part in bringing that to life on stage. Thanks to Michael Rose, Hugh Borthwick, Tim Lutkin, and Ian William Galloway for making us part of the team!”
Michael Rose sums up: “When we first talked through the design elements of Big with our set and costume designer, Simon Higlett, it became evident at a very early stage that we would be knocking on the door of PRG XL Video to ask Pete Marshall and Stefaan Michels for their expertise in realising Simon’s amazing design. Along with Tim Lutkin, lighting design and Ian William Galloway, video design, we had the task of making a hugely loved film become at the same time a very real and also very magical stage production.
“The difficulties of translating from screen to stage called for technical brilliance, and the team at PRG XL have not disappointed us. The double-sided curved video wall that sits on the second revolve of three soon became the ideal transition for us from location to location but enabling us to add a touch of fantasy to the images as well. Not only did it mean that we could have very fluid scene changes but it also made them more economical and much faster than we could otherwise have done.
“Our endless requirements regarding the lighting of the show, not only to make it look fantastic but also for it to fit into our budget were met with creativity and positivity – for which we are eternally grateful.”
British electronic duo Bondax have recently completed a tour which saw them visit venues around the United States before returning to the UK for shows culminating in a headline performance at London’s Oval Space.
To create a tourable design for these shows, Bondax turned to designer Owen Pritchard-Smith of London-based Spirit Design. Owen had created a design for previous Bondax shows using lightboxes with the individual letters spelling out their name. With this tour taking a step up in size and production values, Owen aimed to create a look for the band which incorporated both lighting and video, and offered flexibility for the range of different venues played.
He commented: “With the band growing in popularity, we wanted to take the design up a level for this tour. I wanted to retain the focus on the band’s name, but use video screens to add more visual elements and give greater versatility in looks and shapes.
“I knew we needed six screens – one for each letter in the name – and a further screen for the front of the DJ booth. I had the idea of using semi-transparent LED which would allow me to shoot strobes through, combining the lighting and video elements. I spoke with Cameron Bannister from PRG XL, who recommended their F30 30mm LED screen to me as it was available in both UK and the US, and he arranged a demo.”
With a small touring production, and the requirement that all the equipment must fit into a splitter bus or van, Owen set about packaging the video and lights.
He explains: “I wanted the package to look slick and tidy, so I based the totems on scaffold poles and tank traps. That enabled us to keep cables mostly hidden and create small compact units that would fit on stage, even in smaller venues.”
The totems held both the LED panels, and the lighting supplied by PRG XL Video. Owen explains his choice of lighting fixtures: “I wanted to be able to create lots of variation and different looks, but with a limited number of fixtures. We used SGM P5s on the floor, and for the totem I used Atomics, and GLP impression X4S units, recommended by Cameron, which can create the variety of looks I wanted, yet were sufficiently compact for installation on the totems. For the US dates, we substituted those with Mac Aura XB fixtures, which were the nearest available equivalent, and they all worked well.”
Using the combination of lighting fixtures and video screens Owen created a versatile and scaleable show which worked for both small and larger stages. In total four different rigs were created to cover the variety of venues – two for the UK, depending on the venue size, with the larger rig incorporating more lighting fixtures including Clay Paky Sharpys; one for the US tour, and a further festival set-up with rolling truss instead of the scaffold totems.
During the tour preparation he worked with PRG XL’s Dana Read to pre-program the content, using the company’s demo space for the initial build: “The content for the video screens was mostly made up of colours and shapes. I used the video screens almost as a light source, whilst maintaining the main look incorporating the band’s logo.”
Cameron Bannister comments: “I thoroughly enjoy working with Owen and the team at Spirit Design. His willingness to share his end goals and his flexibility with solutions enables me to support his designs and budgets in a very enjoyable and fulfilling way. The end result looked fantastic, and reminds me of why it’s so great to be a part of this industry!”
Owen Pritchard-Smith sums up: “Cameron and the PRG XL team always provide a professional, personable, and accommodating service. Their experience and motivation allows me to learn about new equipment and provide my clients with a fresh, exciting and organic design.”
Underground electronic music duo, Dusky are steadily building a cult following as they play sold out dates, taking in numerous venues in the UK, North America and continental Europe. Double Knight of Illumination winner, Will Potts designed the visual element of the show, with assistance from Lighting Director Adam Power. Will said: “Designing a rig which fits into numerous venues was the main consideration for this project. I chose to leave the physical design work flexible and in Adam’s hands for the shows. He knows what each fixture has to achieve, so it’s up to him to use the spaces and characteristics of each venue to the design’s advantage. Having such a flexible approach is the most economical way of scaling the show up and down.”
Will and Adam knew exactly what they wanted to achieve with the design, and were open to discussion on which products and processes they needed to make it happen. As well as being certain about the looks they had for the show, working within a tight budget was a key factor, without needing to compromise the design. With the bigger picture decided, PRG XL Video Project Manager Martin Bellamy filled in the details and made sure the show had everything it needed for the budget available.
Bradley Stokes, the lighting Crew Chief for the tour explained the lighting products used on Dusky and the logistics behind getting them in and out of each venue: “The different variations of the touring rig consist of truss towers fitted with GLP Spot One moving lights, GLP Impression X4 LED wash lights, Solaris Flare Junior LED strobes and PixelLine 1044 LED battens. To save time when loading in, all the truss towers were pre-built in Longbridge so we could just carry them into the venues. This did bring an extra set of challenges as access to most of the venues was either upstairs or through tight doorways, which the truss towers were too tall for. However, with the team we had on Dusky, we always found a way of working around these access complications without them becoming a problem.”
Adam said: “The Dusky show is really rewarding because each gig brings a fresh set of challenges. We’ve got three versions of the rig; which we use for the different size venues we’ve been playing. The biggest shows were the summer music festivals, but now the tour is stopping off at 1000-2000 capacity venues, we’ve got to be savvy in our approach to fit everything in and make the show look the same from one gig to the next. The show achieves a big look for the spaces we’re in, that’s made possible by clever positioning of the lights and tight programming rather than simply increasing the fixture count. For example, there is a flown truss and between two and four floor-mounted truss towers and floor fixtures behind the lads and on the riser. This fills the space with each element having its own job. Will has done a good job of accentuating this in the programming and hitting all the accents in the music, creating a tight show and giving each song an identity. Bradley’s been with us for most of the tour and is excellent; he’s got a great knowledge of the kit we’re using and has developed a real talent at shoe-horning it into spaces where it probably shouldn’t fit.”
Will added: “Working on Dusky was about the practicalities of the design as much as the overall look. Often with this size of act, breaking through comes at a cost to either the band or investors, so it’s about finding a balance in the economics of the design. With Dusky we achieved the big looks, bright punch and carefully choreographed moves the music calls for, whilst at the same time keeping it sustainable for everyone. It’s been a privilege to work with Adam on this project, we interact very well.”
Photography by PRG XL Video/Matt Rakowski and Luke Dyson.
Hamburg, Germany, and Dubai, UAE: Production Resource Group LLC (PRG) was honoured to work with Balich Worldwide Shows (BWS) to supply a huge multi-surface video projection for the United Arab Emirates National Day celebration in Abu Dhabi.
The event, held at the request of the Crown Prince’s Court, celebrated 45 years since the unification of the United Arab Emirates, and took place in the presence of a selected crowd of dignitaries.
Tom van Hemelryck, VP Global Sports and Special Events was contacted by Balich Worldwide Shows to provide both the technical expertise and technology for this special commemorative show.
Tom brought together video and technology specialists, Yves Winand, from PRG in Belgium and his counterpart Bill Ainley from the group’s UAE operation to work with the design specification from Balich Worldwide Shows. Starting with the mapping of the surfaces, d3 was identified as the media server for this project. It was used to design, and previsualise the projection, and whilst on site used for line-up and playback of the content created by Charles Darby and the team at Clonwerk.
Yves Winand explains: “We needed a strong partner for this challenging project, and we worked closely with d3 to improve some processes on site in order to save time in the line-up. We had to share preparation nights with lighting programming and rehearsals, and waiting for the arrival of large moving elements, so time for the set-up was limited.”
The projection covered over 6500 m2 of floor, which was a particular challenge due to the flat angle and positioning of the projection towers. Either side of the stage, two wing screens of 600m2 were also covered with projection. Four sand dunes, each measuring 35 metres by 8 metres, which tracked across the stage, and a rising sun of 16 metres by 8 metres, which rose from behind the dunes were also projection mapped and covered perfectly as they moved into place during the show.
Panasonic PT-DZ21KE projectors were used for the floor and wing projections, and a combination of Barco HDF-W30 and HDF-W26 projectors covered the dunes and rising sun. In total 126 projectors were used across the event to create the spectacular effect.
Bill Ainley commented: “Whilst this event presented many challenges, we are proud of our team’s ability to seamlessly draw upon design, technical and logistical expertise from three PRG operations across three countries to ensure our approach at the design phase would achieve our client’s expectation on site. This, along with the team of expert technicians who worked very hard in a challenging environment, ensured we could deliver the project to an exceptionally high standard.”
Tom van Hemelryck concludes: “We are delighted to continue our working relationship with Balich Worldwide Shows, and honoured that they chose PRG as a partner in delivering this prestigious, high-profile show. Everyone involved in this show worked in great collaboration to deliver a show which looked truly spectacular.”
Photo Credits: Luca Parisse for Balich Worldwide Shows
Show Credits: Creative & Executive Production Balich Worldwide Shows
Continuing a long working relationship with Production Executive, Andy Derbyshire, Event Manager, Maggie Mouzakitis, Event Production Manager, Lisa Shenton, and Show Lighting Designer, Tom Kenny, PRG XL Video has supplied lighting for the 2016 MTV EMA.
This year’s event was held on November 6th, at the Rotterdam Ahoy, Netherlands, and was hosted by US artist Bebe Rexha.
The event opened with glamorous red carpet arrivals from the star presenters and performers, hosted by Laura Whitmore and Sway Calloway, and PRG XL also supplied lighting, rigging, and video technology for the red carpet event.
PRG XL’s Account Managers, Kelly Cornfield and Mat Ilott were initially contacted by Line Producer, Sophie Huda, and Red Carpet Event Manager, Sean McNally, to supply an outdoor video wall, high impact lighting, and supporting rigging for the red carpet area.
Working with Set Designer, Adam Neville, and Lighting Designer, Stuart Pring, PRG XL’s Head of Rigging Services, Q Willis specified the supporting structures for the video and lighting. Rigging crew chief, Chris ‘Karrit’ Harris delivered the show on-site.
Creating a glittering arrivals area for the stars, Adam and Stuart’s designs incorporated a video wall formed from Barco C5 outdoor LED. Content for the video wall was supplied via one of PRG XL’s own Mbox media servers, and included live feeds from the OB truck, social media feeds, and playback content.
Stuart Pring’s lighting design used a combination of fixtures, with Encapsulite LED stick lights built into the set, and PRG Icon Beams lighting the way for the VIPs as they made their way into the venue. PRG’s Sam Healey was Crew Chief for the red carpet lighting team.
Inside the iconic Rotterdam Ahoy, production designer Julio Himede created a vast set filling an entire side of the venue, curving around to create an immersive arena for the audience in the venue, and stunning visuals for the TV broadcast.
Acclaimed lighting designer Tom Kenny worked closely with Julio to create his lighting design for the show. Tom Kenny has designed the lighting for MTV VMA and EMA events for more than a decade, as part of highly creative and much-talked about show designs.
Tom explains his initial approach to his design: “Working with Julio, and with PRG’s Lighting Crew Chief, Rich Gorrod, we looked at the set design. This year, the huge wide set featured a massive wall of video, built from multiple elements. We wanted to cover the whole set and create a layered effect with plenty of back light and presence. With that in mind, and with one eye on the budget, we used a lot of strong beams, spread across the set, big wash lights at the back, lots of Icon Beams, PRG Bad Boys and Robe Robin 100s. We added Solaris Flares for extra strobe effects – they’re a real workhorse.”
Tom continues: “As part of the design, I look at the line-up of artists performing and try to tailor the fixtures to what I think they’ll need. In some cases artists will have specific requests, but often we’ll already have their needs covered in the main rig.”
Some artists do have special requests, based on their individual performance. Tom explains: “Martin Garrix wanted a particular fixture for his set, so we brought in a load of GLP X4 Bars to satisfy that need. For One Republic, who included rain in their performance, we needed to find some waterproof LED lamps for the pool, and Rich Gorrod sourced custom-built fixtures for that purpose.”
“For Green Day’s ‘Global Icon’ performance we needed to give them a really huge look, so we added a bunch of Par Cans.”
“Another fixture I was keen to use was the ACL 360 Matrix from Elation, which includes 25 4-in-1 RGBW LEDs. We arranged a demo of the unit, were suitably impressed, and that was used scenically to create colour and depth.”
With an array of star performers, followspots were also a key consideration, and Tom Kenny was keen to use PRG’s GroundControlTM Followspot System, which includes a remote followspot, flown from the lighting rig and the operator is located with control unit at ground level elsewhere within the venue. Tom has used the system on multiple shows: “I first used GroundControl on Desert Trip festival and was really impressed by it. It’s a very flexible system and allows you to place followspots in locations that wouldn’t usually work. I love it!”
Lighting console operators on the night were Alex Passmore and Jonathan Rouse, who Tom Kenny described as “two of the best programmers/operators I’ve worked with. Alex took care of the majority of the pre-programming, and on the night looked after the cueing on the main set, and Jonathan focussed on the keylighting for the bands, live elements, and audience lighting.”
PRG XL’s Lighting Crew Chief Richard Gorrod led a team of twelve lighting technicians and operators for the show. Tom Kenny comments: “The MTV EMA is a big beast of a show. There’s never enough time, but Rich and his brilliant PRG crew have high standards and work really hard to make it all happen. Rich is a total workhorse – he does the job of three people, and he has such a positive attitude. You couldn’t have a better person on an event of this type.”
Richard Gorrod summed up: “We’re happy to continue our long relationship with Maggie, Andy, Lisa, Tom, Julio and the whole MTV EMA team. The show always looks amazing and really pushes the boundaries for a live event show. It’s a huge production, and there are lots of suppliers all working side by side, harmoniously to make it happen. We’re proud to be a part of bringing it all together!”
It’s fascinating to discover how the rental and used equipment channels of our business overlap and work together to benefit our customers. Steff Jones is a UK based Lighting Designer, who works predominantly in television, but does regular spin-off work which includes, one-off concerts, touring productions and theatre shows.
Over the past two years, Steff has not only worked with us on a lot of rental projects, but also become a very valued customer of PRG Proshop, our used equipment sales channel. Steff continued: “An expanding area of my business is permanent installations for TV studios, luxury nightclubs, theatres and music venues. Some of my clients only have a limited budget—so used equipment is always the best option. The used lighting equipment I’ve bought from PRG XL Video has been of the highest quality and worked perfectly. The nature of PRG XL’s rental work puts a very high demand on the kit, which means all their fixtures are fully serviced on a regular basis and able to perform in the harshest and most demanding environments. With other used equipment vendors, I’ve had to factor in budget to service the lights and bring them up to the required standard, as well as buying spares to leave with my client. With PRG Proshop, this is no longer necessary due to the exceptionally high quality of the kit.”
PRG Proshop Product Sales Manager, Rodney George supplies Steff’s used equipment needs in the UK, and said: “I first met Steff on one of our lighting and video jobs, he was very interested to learn about our used equipment sales. Soon after that I supplied him with a list of kit for one of his installation projects, and we’ve kept in touch ever since. Steff signed up to our monthly UES newsletter and we’ve developed a really close client-supplier relationship. We visited Steff at the London Palladium whilst lighting his recent job ‘Broadway in Concert’ to discuss upcoming opportunities and new products we’ll be bringing to the used equipment sales channel.”