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Rewind Festival 2017. Photo: Alison Barclay
17/08/2017

PRG XL Video Goes Back to the 80s with Rewind Festival

Celebrating some of the finest music and artists from the 80s, Rewind festival takes place over three weekends each summer. Starting in Scotland at Scone Palace, near Perth, then moving on to Capesthorne Hall in Cheshire, and with the final weekend at Henley, the festival includes performances from a variety of eighties superstars including Human League, Nik Kershaw, Go West, Level 42, Kim Wilde, the British Electric Foundation, and the Trevor Horn Band.

PRG provides support to Production Manager, Keith Morris, Lighting Designer, Martin Nicholas, and Video Content Director, Miguel Riberio, supplying lighting and video technology, and experienced technical crew for all three weekends.

Unlike many festivals which take place over a single weekend, sometimes in dual locations, Rewind is a ‘touring’ festival, taking the same production package to different sites over several weeks. As well as the main stage, the site includes a Silent Disco, tribute band tent, funfair, and even an inflatable wedding chapel!

 

For the production, PRG XL Video’s Senior Account Manager, Paul McCauley, supplied three large LED screens, plus cameras and PPU system for IMAG. The rear upstage LED wall formed the backdrop to the stage, and two large portrait screens were flown one either side of the stage. Ian Jones oversaw the video crew on site, which, for the Scottish show, consisted of Chris Johnson, Mark Eisen, Steve Wood, and Fabrizio DiLelio looking after LED, and Rod Williams on cameras. Mark, Steve, and Fabrizio also doubled as cameramen over the weekend.

 

The side screens were used to display a combination of IMAG footage from the cameras, and content created by Miguel Riberio. The side screens were a new addition for 2017, and Miguel took full advantage of them, creating content which spread out from the centre screen and across the side screens, which made for an immersive experience for the enthusiastic crowd. The IMAG footage was presented in a picture in picture format over the content.

 

Two HD cameras were used for IMAG; one positioned at front of house with a long lens, with a further camera in the pit for close-up shots. The live camera mix was directed by Jerry Rosenfield using one of PRG’s Panasonic AV-HS450 desks with the PPU engineered by Glenn Austin.

 

For his content, Miguel used d3 media servers to serve the content, controlled via one of PRG’s v476 desks. He paired this with a v276 on his laptop which enabled him to make small changes and adjustments on site or in the hotel over the weekends.

Paul McCauley commented: “It’s a real pleasure to continue working with Keith and the team. It’s great to see Rewind growing and employing new technology and bigger setups each year. These really engage the audience, and increase their enjoyment of the event.”

 

PRG XL’s Director of Music, Yvonne Donnelly Smith worked with lighting designer Martin Nicholas to supply lighting for both the main stage, and for the Silent Disco, which takes place in a large marquee tent on the Friday evening of each weekend, and after darkness on the other evenings.

 

For the main stage a package of GLP impression X4, PRG Icon Beam, 2Lite Molefays, and VL3000 spot fixtures were used. These were complemented by a set of Sky Pan and Arri 10Kw vintage lights, which Martin restored and maintains himself. They line the sides of the main stage to, as Martin says, “create a bit of eye-candy and extra interest for the cameras.”

 

To create a different look for the lighting, Martin used ladders flown at the side of the stage and in front of the rear LED screen. These held a number of the GLP X4s and 2 Lite Molefays, and with the LED screen in use the ladders could barely be seen, giving the impression that the lights were floating in mid-air.

With a lot of performances taking place during daylight, it was key for Martin that the lights he chose were bright and punchy, so they were visible alongside the LED screens from day into night. He used an Avolites Pearl desk for control. The lighting crew for Scotland was overseen on site by Kal Butt, and included crew chief Paul Makin, Simon Swift, Mark Clough, and Richard Griffin.

 

Technicians Mark Scrimshaw, and Dave ‘Lights’ Beazley looked after the Silent Disco lighting, which included an almost mandatory mirrorball. Festival goers were enticed to take part by two Supernova searchlights, which threw beams into the sky to let everyone know the disco was open.

The Silent Disco consists of two DJs each playing out a mix of 80s hits. Audience members each wear headphones with two channels, and people can choose which channel they want to hear. Effectively the DJs compete for their audience, and the lighting reacts in time to the most popular song.

Hazers create an atmosphere in the tent, and GLP X4 LED lights, and Icon Beams are used to pan around the space and bounce off the mirrorball. For added eye-candy and sparkle, Miltec LED battens lit up the space behind the DJs.

 

The main stage’s combination of brightly coloured lighting and beautifully crafted video content echoed back to a decade of great music, and crazy fashion, and many of the attendees immerse themselves dressing in 80s fashion or as their favourite characters from the time. It all makes for a huge party atmosphere, and Rewind grows in popularity every year.

Yvonne Donnelly Smith sums up: “Rewind is a great fun event to work on. PRG has been involved for several years, and Martin’s design grows in tandem with the popularity of the festival. Keith, Martin, Miguel and the team are a pleasure to work with!”

Photos: Alison Barclay

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Arcade Fire at Castlefield Bowl, Manchester. Photo: Matt Rakowski
11/08/2017

PRG Supports Arcade Fire Summer Tour 2017 with Lighting and Video Technology

On a hot and sticky evening in early July, revellers packed pop-up central Manchester venue, the Castlefield Bowl, spilling over onto the adjacent railway viaduct and the balconies of nearby apartments—intent on witnessing the Abba-like anthemic indie rock of Arcade Fire. PRG supported Production Manager Bob O’Brien and the show designers, Moment Factory, with a versatile package of lighting and video to facilitate a thirty-two date European tour, taking in a variety of indoor and outdoor venues, as well as headline festival performances.

Lighting Designer Chris Bushell discussed the nature of the tour, and the processes between him and the other creatives on the design team: “I worked with the Creative Director, Tarik Makou from Moment Factory, as well as Video Director Icarus Wilson-Wright and the band themselves to design the look of the show. The concept we started off with was that of a contained environment, one which isn’t affected by outside influences—from which Tarik and his team at Moment Factory created the ‘smoke box’, an eleven-metre-wide, three-metre-tall transparent acrylic enclosure, filled with moving smoke and lighting and video effects.”


The grand, sweeping melodies of an experimental musical collective such as Arcade Fire, are well served by the experience design, which perpetually shifts the relationship between colour and space throughout the show. Chris continued: “The box contained lots of smoke machines and fans to move the smoke around. There was a selection of lighting fixtures, including Martin Mac Quantum wash LED lights on the floor at the back of the box, which worked in tandem with a lot of GLP X4 Bar 20 LED battens to give an overall wash of colour. The X4 Bar 20s also created strong, defined lines of colour through the smoke. There were four overhead trusses and two side trusses, loaded with more Mac Quantums, Clay Paky Sharpy Wash lights, Robe Robin BMFL Blade moving lights and SGM Q7 LED strobes. Additionally, there were three ten-foot truss towers on each side of the stage, rigged with Icon Beam lights and X4 Bar 20s, which scanned over the audience and were used to create a cage-like structure of light in front of the stage.


The use of video technology for the Arcade Fire tour was far from conventional, Video Director Icarus Wilson-Wright described the set-up: “The smoke box sits in front of a video screen made up of ROE Visual MC-7H LED tiles, on motion control that moved the screen from behind to above the smoke box during the show. In addition, there was a projector either side of the stage which fired laterally into the smoke box to add another dimension to the video content, rather than relying solely on the LED screen. The smoke box has inlets and outlets, which enabled us to accurately control the level of smoke from Chris Bushell’s lighting desk. The use of smoke of smoke wasn’t random, and very carefully planned out; different video looks were transitioned in and out using varying levels of smoke. Some of the content was produced to confuse the audience’s ability to distinguish between real and virtual smoke.”


Icarus explained how he was given a brief from the band and then worked with the team at Moment Factory to bring everything together: “Arcade Fire are a really interesting band to work with, they’re arty, driven and demanding—but more than anything else they’re really, really nice people. The biggest challenge we had was the set list and song order, nothing is fixed and there would be lots of changes from night to night, with the sudden inclusion of old or new songs that require new looks. With so many people on stage swapping instruments and positions, it may look chaotic, but is well disciplined and planned out; that can’t be easy to do—so hats off to them for that!”


The screen content was created by Moment Factory, and is made up of a mixture of created graphic looks and shot footage. Icarus added: “There was a lot of thought put into all the visual elements of the show; the lights, screen and smoke all come together to make a whole. The artwork for their latest album, Everything Now, was created by an artist called JR, who produced a billboard in the desert with the album title in neon writing—this was referenced in the looks for the title track of the album which opened our show in Manchester. Having worked with JR on another project before, it was great to see his input on a live show again - he’s a fascinating character, with a good world view, a good choice!”

As well as reflecting the multifaceted nature of the band, one of the main factors for this design was that it could be flexible enough to fit in a wide variety of venues of venues. Chris explained: “Usually when you prepare for a tour, you know you will be in one type of venue, with maybe a couple of bigger shows and festival slots, but for this tour—everywhere’s been different. We’ve played at various different sized festivals, in established outdoor performance spaces as well as at short-term summer only sites, inside small concert halls, a castle and even an old East-End London boxing gym. As such, we needed to be super flexible and able to play both end on and in-the-round staging configurations. The layout was predetermined for each venue we played, but everything was on wheels, even the smoke box, so we could tweak things on the day. The current plan is to expand on this design and perform it in-the-round during a bigger arena tour. Arcade Fire are a fascinating band to work with, whilst there is an established order, they function very much as a collective and everybody has creative input when discussing how the show will look.”


PRG are supplying Arcade Fire around the world, with Yvonne Donnelly Smith taking care of the band’s lighting and rigging requirements, and Paul ‘Macca’ McCauley looking after their video in the UK and Europe. When they continue their tour in North America, Mark O’Herlihy takes care of lighting, video and rigging. Yvonne commented: “Working with the Arcade Fire team was brilliant, they produced a fantastic looking show, and it’s a pleasure to be able to play a part in it. With PRG supporting Arcade Fire on both sides of the Atlantic we’re able to offer a seamless transition of kit, duplicating their rig to their exact specifications with any compromise; with the added bonus of our teams being in constant communication, so nothing’s left to chance.”

Photos: Matt Rakowski

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Idina Menzel tour 2017. Photo: Matt Rakowski
08/08/2017

PRG XL Video Supply Idina Menzel World Tour 2017

American musical theatre star, Idina Menzel, recently played the Royal Albert Hall, as part of the UK leg of her 2017 world tour. The singer, famous for her roles in Broadway blockbusters Rent and Wicked—is also known for her Oscar and Grammy award winning song ‘Let it Go’ from Disney’s animated film Frozen. Her current tour features a magical medley of numbers from the musicals she’s appeared in, as well as her own solo songs, covers, and the instantly recognisable, Let it Go.

 

Production, lighting and video design for the tour is by Abigail Rosen Holmes, who has also designed shows for artists such as Miley Cyrus, The Cure, Shakira and The Pet Shop Boys. Working with Abbey on the design and programming of the tour were Felix Peralta lighting programmer, Dan Scully video content and editor, and Eric Marchwinski programming video. Lighting and Video Director, Teddy Sosna commented: “Abbey and I have worked on numerous projects together—we met several years ago when she was teaching lighting and video design at Carnegie Mellon School of Drama in the US, where I studied. Abbey knew the passion I have for lighting in the theatre and brought me on-board for the 2015 Idina tour, and I’ve been part of the team ever since.”

Teddy discussed some of the looks and how PRG was able to help pull them off: “The lighting style is very theatrical, it’s an intricate design which focuses on soft and elegant looks, while still building up the excitement of a pop concert. The back of the stage is covered with strips of white voile, punctuated by panels of light grey custom woven jacquard fabric from Rosebrand, featuring a pattern based on a design which Abbey came up with specifically for this tour. The toughest part of pulling off a big looking and elegant show can be working with the various constraints of each venue. We owe so much to our PRG crews who contribute their decades of experience, and practical creativity to fill every last inch of our often historic and unique venues. Our UK crew chief Steve Sinclair has been able to adapt our rig to fill all sorts of challenging spaces, and in the US Rob Simoneaux is with us again for a second season, going above and beyond at every turn to ensure that anything PRG can help facilitate, no matter how trivial, is promptly taken care of.”

 

Abbey and Teddy have designed the show beautifully—the stage is lit with a delicate grace, which enhances Idina’s inimitable vocal prowess and animated stage presence. Their lighting of the rear fabric is so precise that it has an ethereal feel about it—the fabric and colours move gently in the breeze from the on-stage fans, the result of their endeavours is a sight to behold.

For the Royal Albert Hall show, Teddy also took advantage of the beautiful architecture surrounding the stage: “Everyone involved with the creative look of the show, including Idina, are keen to utilise the stunning surroundings of the venues we play in. When you program lighting for a show in a venue such as the Albert Hall, there is so much more you can do to enhance the aesthetic environment the audience occupies rather than in a black-box arena. Being able to take control of the architectural lighting in the Albert Hall gave me more creative freedom and enhanced the audience’s experience even further. A venue like this is so full of character!” Teddy operated the lights from an MA Lighting GrandMA2 lighting console, with pre-programmed cues being manually triggered by him rather than timecode, because of the quite big variances of how the set runs from show to show, with Idina indulging in the opportunity to interact with the audience between songs.

 

Following her show at the Royal Albert Hall, Idina Menzel continued her tour around the UK, before returning to North America. PRG are proud to be supporting Idina around the world, supplying a full lighting and rigging package, with ROE MC-7H video screens added for the US dates. The full show includes custom LED scenic pieces built by Tait, those and the video screens are controlled through Mbox. Yvonne Donnelly Smith, Director of Music (Lighting) in the UK said: “It’s a pleasure working alongside our colleagues in North America to support Tour Manager David Licursi, UK Production Manager Nick Belshaw, and Abbey and Teddy by supplying lighting and rigging for the Idina Menzel tour. The hard work and meticulous attention to detail by everyone involved is plain to see, when you watch this stunning looking show.”


Photos: Matt Rakowski

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GaiaNova 360˚ Theatre - pop-up projection dome for immersive events, and brand activations.
31/07/2017

GaiaNova 360˚ Theatre Demonstration with Projection Support from PRG

Supporting the team from GaiaNova, PRG recently supplied high brightness projectors for a demonstration of the GaiaNova 360˚ Theatre – a pop-up projection dome.

The 360˚ dome, with specially created content, can create a highly immersive experience. Creation of content for the dome is similar to the methods used for virtual reality (VR) experiences, but the end result is much more social, and removes the need for expensive headsets.

 

Mapping of the dome is done using a 360˚ camera system, which is much quicker than traditional projection mapping. The full dome projection requires six projectors emitting 20,000 lumens each.

 

The self-supporting dome structure packs down into a single small container, ready to be transported by road, rail or ship, and can be constructed almost anywhere.

The GaiaNova 360˚ Theatre holds up to 1000 people standing, or around 200 in reclined chairs or hammocks.

To enquire about hiring the dome, and projectors for your next event, please contact Emily Gibson or Steve Greetham.

 

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27/07/2017

Luke Stevenson Joins PRG XL Video Corporate Team to Strengthen 360 ̊ Event Delivery

PRG XL Video, the UK operation of Production Resource Group LLC (PRG), is excited to announce the addition of Luke Stevenson to its Corporate and Events team.

Reporting to Director of Corporate, Steve Greetham, Luke joins the team as Senior Account Manager, bringing a wealth of experience from his time with AVC Live.

During his 11 years with AVC Live, Luke undertook several roles including Venue Manager; Sales and Operations Manager; and most recently four years as Technical Producer, where he applied his extensive experience of delivering events on-site.

At PRG XL Video, Luke will focus on the end to end production of 360 ̊ events, and working with both agencies and in-house event teams.

Steve Greetham commented: “We’re delighted to welcome Luke to the Corporate and Events team. He brings a broad technical knowledge to PRG XL and his depth of experience complements the strengths of the existing corporate team.”

Luke added: “I’m delighted to be joining the team at PRG. It’s clear that there are a lot of talented people in their respective fields and I’m proud to be a part of it. I’m looking forward to making my contribution on some exciting projects.”

Luke Stevenson is based in PRG XL’s London sales office, near Covent Garden.


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Tableau Conference On Tour 2017 London. Event Technology supplied by PRG. Photo: PRG/Alison Barclay
25/07/2017

PRG Provides Conference Technology Globally for Tableau On Tour

Premium business and analysis software company Tableau has a growing worldwide audience for their software. Supporting this audience, the organisation holds conference events for their clients in a variety of locations around the world. Combining product presentations, education sessions, software surgeries, networking, and social events, Tableau Conference On Tour has spanned North America, Asia Pacific, and Europe, with events in Tokyo, London, and Berlin taking place in 2017.

Supporting this program of events, PRG’s Director of Global Accounts, Nick Barton, is Tableau’s key contact for live event technology and services. He has worked with Tableau since early 2015 and has delivered 14 events for them to date.

For the events outside of North America, Nick leverages PRG’s global network, working with account managers in PRG’s locations worldwide to deliver Tableau Conference On Tour providing matched equipment and services across several countries. He travels to each event to oversee the production and ensure that the final delivery of the show meets the expected high standards.

Each of the larger events consists of a plenary keynote room, with smaller breakout rooms and social areas. To deliver their design, Tableau relies on Production Resource Group (PRG), who supply staging, lighting, rigging, and audio-visual technology and services for the events, as well as expert production staff and technicians.

For the most recent conference at London’s Tobacco Dock, Nick worked with UK Account Manager Rich Pow to provide all the show technology requirements locally in the UK. Tableau aim to keep the design of their events clean and modern, and PRG support this, providing technical drawings and renders in advance, which can be refined to the client’s requirements.

The design for the London show included custom-built stage set and lecterns, and the use of large video screens in the plenary and across the breakout education sessions. Two large high resolution LED screens, used in split screen format, were situated on each side of the presenter. These displayed playback content and IMAG footage from the live camera. The live mix and output to screens was delivered using a Barco e2 screen management system.

To light the show, PRG utilised a combination of Tobacco Dock’s in-house lighting rig supplemented with a range of their own fixtures, including scenic floor lighting across the main stage. Crew Chief for Lighting was Dana Read, with Nathan Avery overseeing the video elements. Sennheiser radio channels were supplied for the presenters and a combination of wired and wireless Telex comms system was used for the plenary.

Breakout rooms across the site varied from a four-screen wide set-up in the Little Gallery, using Barco projectors and individual screens across the width of the room, to single Panasonic laser projector and screen pairings in the multiple education rooms.

Each breakout room included a custom-built lectern with in-built onstage switching system for presenting from a variety of inputs. Sennheiser radio channels were also supplied in each of the breakouts. Ben Monk oversaw the technical setups for all of the breakout areas.

A ‘surgery’, with Tableau Doctors on hand to help attendees with specific software issues, contained more than 20 workstations, and PRG supplied a pair of matched monitors for each PC.

Multiple plasma screens were used around all the Blend and Beats social and networking areas, including a rigged circle of plasmas in a central walk-through area. All of these displayed information, sponsor logos, social media feeds, and were used for relays of the keynote sessions.

d&b audio speakers were spread across the site ensuring all attendees were fully informed at all times, and between sessions could enjoy some chilled tunes from the Tableau DJ.

To ensure clarity of signal, PRG used an audio fibre system to feed into the plasma circle-truss area, as it was a considerable distance from the plenary.

Tableau’s next event will take place in Berlin later this year, where Nick will work with PRG’s team in Germany to deliver the show.

Photo credit: PRG/Alison Barclay

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Islamic Solidarity Games 2017 in Baku. Photo by Natalia Tsoukala
20/07/2017

PRG Supplies Lighting for Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games

The Islamic Solidarity Games is an event which involves elite athletes from countries who are part of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. Despite the names, non-Muslim citizens in the member countries are also allowed to compete. The first was held in Mecca, Saudi Arabia in 2005, with the most recent event taking place in Baku, Azerbaijan in May 2017.

PRG was selected as an official supplier for the opening and closing ceremonies, providing lighting for both large-scale events. The lighting design was created by Adam Bassett of Woodroffe Bassett Design, with associate designer, Terry Cook, who worked with PRG Account Director, Yvonne Donnelly Smith, and Head of Event Services, Richard Gorrod to specify the lighting requirements of the huge visual production.

The design in the Baku National Stadium made use of all levels of the stadium for lighting, as well as the stage built in the centre of the athletics track.

PRG used a combination of its own PRG Bad Boy, VariLite VL35kw, and SGM P5 15 fixtures around the roof trusses, of which there were 30 in total. At balcony-rail level high brightness Icon Edge and VL35k wash fixtures were added into the mix, creating maximum impact with beams reaching up into the sky and across the stadium.

Framing the colourful projections on the main shaped rear screen, brand new ultra-bright Icon Edge units were mounted on the edge of the screen on custom T bars. Icon Edge and Icon Beam units were also used to surround the stage floor. Philips iW Blast, and Color Blast TRX fixtures were used in the VIP Box as a quality front light, and coloured backlighting respectively. SGM P5s were used to backlight the audience on Levels 1 and 2.

Eight of PRG’s newest version of its revolutionary GroundControl™ Followspot System – the Long Throw - were used to as high level followspots mounted on separate trusses around the roof catwalk. These units are as bright as a 4k Gladiator followspot, and can be rigged on a truss, so improving safety and reducing weight by negating the need for operators in baskets. A combination of standard GroundControl Best Boy units, and M2 traditional followspots were used in the closer positions.

Two side light positions were populated with PRG Best Boy and Bad Boy units, and either side of the stage two architectural columns were lit up using a mixture of Floor Cans, 650kw Fresnels, and Birdies.

In total more than 1,100 lighting fixtures were used for both ceremonies. PRG Crew Chiefs Mark England and Luke Jackson led a team of highly expert technicians. Alex Passmore and Ben Hornshaw programmed the lighting on GrandMA consoles, and a WYSIWYG suite was used for pre-programming at PRG’s Longbridge location, and on-site during the build phase, and for pre-programming of the Closing Ceremony.

The control and networking was all managed using a S400 data distribution system with S400 fibre switches and a combination of Supernodes and Node+ units.

Richard Gorrod commented: “Our PRG Best Boys are still one of the best fixtures for a harsh stadium environment. The new Icon Edge performed brilliantly – it’s very reliable and a true work horse! The new GroundControl Long Throw followspots also performed well – they’re super bright and give you the advantage of hanging them in positions where you would not be able to site a conventional 4k followspot. The S400 system again performed brilliantly, as the glue for the whole system. Our crew were true stars – installing and maintaining the equipment on site under many different pressures.”


Adam Bassett commented: “Once again we were blessed with a great level of support, technical expertise and most importantly a brilliant crew. The PRG team in Baku, and behind the scenes back in the UK, were great and made a technically challenging production go very smoothly. The system lived up to every expectation and the ability to use the new GroundControl Long Throws massively changed how we were able to light the shows. By having the ability to place followspots in locations otherwise inaccessible with conventional spots, it enabled us to achieve the optimum angles and as a result protect the video projected surfaces which were so crucial.”


All photos: Natalia Tsoukala

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17/07/2017

PRG XL Video Supply the Three Operas at This Year's Buxton International Festival

Hosted in the Idyllic spa town of Buxton, huddled within the breathtaking landscape of the Peak District National Park; the Buxton International Festival is a celebration of theatrical and literary excellence which attracts speakers, acts and audiences in coveted numbers. PRG XL Video are honoured and thrilled to be supporting Lighting Designer Mike Gunning, and Production Electrician Tim Ball, with a theatrical lighting package for the three operas headlining this year’s festival at the Buxton Opera House: Verdi’s ‘Macbeth’, Britten’s ‘Albert Herring’, and Mozart’s ‘Lucio Silla’.

Although its heritage can be traced farther back, the current format of the Buxton Festival has been running since the refurbishment of the opera house in 1979—and has grown to become the highly respected cultural event it is today. Drawing crowds from far and wide, patrons of the Buxton Festival know what they want to see, and what they don’t. Tim Ball explained: “The prestige of the productions we put on at Buxton need to be of the highest standard, our audiences expect our offerings to rival anything that may be seen at the big opera houses in capital cities around the world.”

 

Tim has been closely involved with the festival for over fifteen years, and describes the seventeen-day event as one of the highlights of his year. He discussed what it takes to oversee the practicalities of lighting three operas in rep at a festival like Buxton: “One of the biggest challenges we face is the schedule—we begin our load in on Monday morning and by Tuesday evening we need to be ready for the first rehearsal. This timeframe would be tight for fitting up one show, but we are essentially hanging three different rigs concurrently. With practicality in mind, we opted to use moving lights where possible, rather than purely generic lighting fixtures—that way we can have a compact and manageable rig with less time spent refocussing between shows.”

Mike Gunning was appointed to the role of Lighting Designer for all three operas, and explained how he approached the project: “I started off by looking at each opera individually, drawing in the lighting fixtures need to achieve the specific lighting looks for each production, I then added a number of supplementary generic lights, which would be used for all three shows.” For each opera, Mike is working with different designers and directors. All three productions are dramatically different to one another. “Macbeth is a traditional grand opera—like one would expect to see in Covent Garden, or at The Coliseum. Designer Russell Craig created an asymmetric set with slanted walls, which uses a lot of red and dark blues. I use powerful and moody lighting to help tell the story, lighting large parts of the opera from the side—creating big, dramatic shadows. I’m very pleased with what we’ve done for Macbeth.”

Mike emphasised that the three operas are very, very different from each other, so much so that for those watching all three productions, wouldn’t believe the trinity of operas were lit by the same lighting designer. Mike continued his insight into lighting the operas at this year’s Buxton Festival: “Albert Herring is a very British opera, lit in a classical and naturalistic way—it’s set in a conservatory, a shop, a street and a town hall. I used a lot of tungsten lighting to make it look realistic. The lighting and set for Lucio Silla is a lot more abstract. The set comprises of three large steel walls, with a very thin gauze stretched over them and is back-lit using GLP Impression LED wash lights, whose shift in colours reflect the changing moods of the different arias in the opera. The design for Silla is all about the interpretation between the floor and walls, and how they interact with each other to define the scene and space within which the opera is set.”

Mike’s choice of lighting fixtures is a modest inventory—very cleverly used to achieve a subtly dramatic effect. The rig comprises of Vari*Lite VL1000 A/S and Martin MAC TW1 moving lights, with GLP Impression RZ LED wash lights and a selection of ETC Source4 generic lights, some of which are fitted with coloured scrollers to add some variation to the acting lights at the front. All three operas are predominantly lit from above and the side, with Mike cautious of using too much front light, for fear of flattening out the looks on stage. In-house Strand followspots are used delicately and sparingly throughout the shows.

 

Mike is assisted by Lighting Programmer Ian Wilson, who used an ETC EOS lighting console to program the lights, before transferring the show files to an ION for the run. Ian has worked at the festival for more than ten years, and explained how he and Mike are working together on this year’s productions: “Working with Mike is brilliant, he’s got a very clear idea of what he wants to do. During programming, he gave the creative direction, and I worked out how to achieve it using the console. Everything has been programmed on site, I will be here until the opening nights, after which I hand over to show crew to operate the lights during the run.”

Mike originally comes from an opera lighting background, but has lit a variety of genres within the theatre and concert touring repertoire. “I try to tell the story with light, the shifts in lighting are more driven by emotion than logic. Lighting opera is no easier or harder than lighting rock n roll, you listen to the music and interpret what you hear. It’s not that difficult.”

 

Whilst the Opera House is the epicentre of activities taking place during the festival, other events will be held at various venues around the town. Other notable dates to look forward to over the next few weeks include presentations by esteemed authors such as: Tony Robinson, Chris Patten, Vince Cable, David Starkey, Jeremy Paxman and a catalogue of other well-known names from within the literary, history and political spheres. There is an extensive agenda of concerts, walks, talks and tours around the splendorous spa town. Additionally, Buxton has its own fringe festival, which is widely regarded as being the biggest in the UK after Edinburgh. 2016’s Buxton Fringe Festival featured nearly 500 performances from 150 entrants.

PRG XL Account Director, Jon Cadbury, oversaw our involvement supplying lighting for the Opera House: “This is our second year supporting the festival, we couldn’t be happier—it’s great to be involved with such a creative and culturally diverse production. Tim and Mike have exceptionally high standards, and know exactly what the need to make things happen. It’s a pleasure working with them!”

 

The Buxton International Festival and fringe festival run until 23rd July.

 

Photography by PRG XL Video/Matt Rakowski and Robert Workman

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11/07/2017

PRG XL Video Enjoyed Crazy Nights on Tour with Kiss as They Toured Europe

When a band like Kiss take to the road on a European tour, they demand an aesthetic extravaganza which delivers the ‘wow factor’ on an epic scale. PRG XL Video are delighted to have supported Lighting Designer Sean ‘Motley’ Hackett and the band with a complex video system, made up of LED screens, projection, a HD camera system, media servers, and a crew of engineers and technicians to ensure everything ran smoothly for the 37 days the tour was on the road.

 

Motley’s an established Lighting Designer who’s worked with Kiss since 2007, as well as other acts including INXS, Andrea Bocelli, Savage Garden and has worked for Bytecraft/PRG Australia as Crew Chief and fill-in LD on many tours. Motley described the process behind designing the lighting and video rig for the current tour: “The main element of any Kiss show is that it has to be big. The brief from the band was that they wanted this tour to be big, with lots of video in the air. The basic layout of the screens evolved from what we did during a nine-night residency in Las Vegas back in November 2014, where we had four fingers of video screens coming out over the stage. During the initial discussions, we thought it would be great to break it up and spread it all over the stage—creating lots of little video walls with lighting trusses in-between them.”

Steven Lemahieu, affectionately known on the crew as Waffle, due to his Belgian heritage, worked as LED Crew Chief on the tour: “The Kiss tour uses a very complex video set-up, with lots of playback surfaces. We have two different types of LED screen, the back wall is made up of ROE MC-7H tiles, with 16 individual MC-18 screens overhead and at the front of the stage, as well as two Barco HDX-W18 projectors either side of the stage using image blending to display the IMAG footage in portrait format. The LED screen signals are driven by the latest ROE HD101 LED processors; with content fed from a Catalyst media server, supplying two LED outputs, one for the back wall and one for the network of smaller screens, as well as the IMAG for the side screens. I ran two signal cables to each screen, a feed and return, enabling us to use the return as a back-up should the main cable become damaged during the show. Loading in the screens was quite a complex process, because the smaller screens are raked over the stage. We used the custom touring frames from PRG XL which allowed us to double-stack the frames on the dollies, that way, we could just wheel them into place and lift the screen up. There were four motors for each small screen, when everything was up an in-place, we trimmed the screens to the correct height. We started the LED load in at around 07:30 each day, and finally had it all ready to go by 14:30, which was seven hours of constant, hard work!”

The Kiss tour featured a lot of fire and pyrotechnic effects, which took its toll on the LED screens over the stage. Waffle explained how everyday he and other LED techs on the tour would spend several hours replacing damaged modules on the screen tiles, where the heat had caused the LEDs to pop off of the surface.

 

Sandro Bruni performed the role of Video Crew Chief, leading a team of eight video technicians, including a Director, LED Techs, Media Server Programmer and Camera operators. Sandro also took care of the projection technology, as well as supporting other members of his team whenever needed: “Working on a tour like Kiss is always a big challenge, and requires a special kind of person. We had a very gruelling schedule, prepping in the UK, then going to Russia, Scandinavia, Southern Europe, then back to the UK. The whole rig is very complicated and involved us working with and around other departments. Everyone was pushed to their absolute limit, but each member of the crew was brilliant; we’ve worked hard, got on with the job and had a great time doing it!”

Stefaan Michels, Director of Music (Video) handled the PRG XL kit and crew requirements for Kiss: “As always, it was such a pleasure to work with the Kiss production team; the professionalism of Robert Long and Jeff Bugowski and their continuing support and trust in PRG XL is fantastic. The whole team enjoyed working with Motley and playing our part in supporting his vision for such a great show. I’d also like to thank the project management team at PRG XL, particularly Chris Holz and Leroy Murray, who helped make it all happen.”

 

PRG are supplying a similar video rig as the Kiss tour continues in North America until September.

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Nordoff Robbins O2 Silver Clef Awards 2017. Photo: Jacob Hutchens.
10/07/2017

Nordoff Robbins O2 Silver Clef Awards Supported By PRG XL Video

Continuing their long-running support for Nordoff Robbins, PRG XL Video, have provided a package of video technology for the O2 Silver Clef Awards, held at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel.

The glamorous fundraising event which honours both up-and-coming and established music artists, celebrates Nordoff Robbins’ music therapy work, and via live and silent charity auctions, a raffle, and personal donations, raises hundreds of thousands of pounds to enable more people to benefit from music therapy around the UK.

PRG XL Video supplied Barco projectors, and e2 screen management system, along with three large projection screens for onstage, and a variety of plasma screens situated around the Great Room, that displayed lots from the silent and live auctions, and acted as relay screens from the camera system. Crew Chief for this event was Nathan Avery.

Gearhouse Broadcast kindly supplied the camera channels for this year’s event free of charge, and these fed into PRG XL’s PPU system. The live camera mix was handled by Video Director, Mark McCaffrey.

PRG XL Video’s Director of Music, Yvonne Donnelly Smith commented: “We’re very happy to support the Nordoff Robbins O2 Silver Clef Awards once again. We have such a strong connection to the music industry, and we see how much pleasure it brings people. It’s amazing to see how Nordoff Robbins music therapy actually changes lives for the better.”

Winners at this year’s awards included Alexander Armstrong, Dame Shirley Bassey, Blondie, Phil Collins, Little Mix, and Mumford & Sons.

Learn more about Nordoff Robbins important work from their website.

Photos: Jacob Hutchens

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The Ferryman play. Lighting Design by Peter Mumford. Photo credit: Johan Persson.
05/07/2017

PRG XL Video Supports Peter Mumford with Theatre Lighting Technology for The Ferryman

Produced by Sonia Friedman Productions, Neal Street Productions and Royal Court Theatre Productions, The Ferryman not only has multiple 5-star reviews to its name, but also the accolade of being the fastest-selling play in the history of the Royal Court Theatre. Now the play, written by Jez Butterworth, and directed by Sam Mendes, has transferred to the West End’s Gielgud Theatre where it will run until 6 January 2018.

Olivier Award and Knight of Illumination Award-winner Peter Mumford has lit Rob Howell’s set for both runs of the production. The play is set in rural Derry in the early 80s, where the Carney farmhouse is a hive of activity preparing for the annual harvest. A day of hard work, will be followed by a celebration of the harvest, but this year they are interrupted by a visitor.

The entire action takes place across two days, with an introductory scene then leading to the remainder of the action unfolding in the kitchen of the Carney household. With a single set used for the majority of the play, the lighting becomes key in transporting the audience into the kitchen setting, and in transitioning through the day as the sun rises and shines through the window.

Lighting designer Peter Mumford explains his initial approach to designing for a show: “Once I have familiarised myself with the material - opera score/script/musical composition etc. - and met with the director and designer for initial concept and design meetings, I tend to concentrate on creating a ‘palette’ that will enable me to create my work alongside and in tandem with the direction of the performance and the surface design. Whilst I will almost certainly have imagery in my head, I regard my real creative process and application to happen in the theatre with all the other elements present because they are basically the canvas on to which I work.

He continues “My approach is more like a complex preparation - creating a shape for the lighting rig, choosing the right equipment, making decisions about colour, but I never commit to the number of cues or precise pre-planning of lighting states - that is something I create in situ.”

For his design for The Ferryman, Peter first read the script and met with Sam Mendes and Rob Howell, attending read-throughs and following the evolution of both the script and set design. Alongside this, Peter began to map out the lighting design: “I had to design and draw it, work out the technical specifications to fit into the theatre. In this case we knew that it had to work for both the Royal Court, and later The Gielgud, so that became an additional technical consideration as well.”


Peter did not work alone on lighting for The Ferryman, bringing with him lighting programmer, Cat Carter, and production electrician, Matt Harding. He was supported by assistant designer, Rachel Cleary, who Peter describes as “brilliant! I’m sure she’ll be seen working as a lead designer in her own right before very long.”

With the play mostly taking place in a single room, over many hours, the imitation of natural daylight, sunrise and sunset was a key feature of the lighting. Peter explains how this was achieved within the set: “Rob Howell’s design gave me a ceiling over the whole room, but he also gave me a window, thank goodness! I never mind sets with ceilings, but it does, to some extent, define how one approaches the lighting.

Peter explains how the light seemed to move within the room as the light changed ‘outside’: “I had a considerable number of units behind the window to maximise the way I could move both colour and light around the room; creating the feeling that the natural light from outside was the dominant light in the room. To that extent, the ceiling actually helped to show the feeling of a sun setting and the light moving across the space. Here the ETC Lustres were invaluable because I could create smooth colour changes over cues that were as long as 12 minutes in some places. I wanted to create seamless changes where, in fact, the light goes on a considerable visual journey, without being too apparent.”


Internal room fixtures were essentially cosmetic, but were part of the story. Peter explains: “To some extent they give me a reason to create a pool or glow of light in different areas of the room, for example, there is a moment when Caitlin enters after the sun has gone down and the room has become quite dark. She switches on the centre pendant light, and that gives me license to completely change and transform the room lighting with the snap of the switch, while still being within a completely naturalistic narrative.”

Some scenes in the play include candlelight, creating an eerie mood and calling for a very different lighting effect. Peter used Par 16 Birdie lights to achieve this. He explains, “I hid little ‘Birdies’ in corners and crevices of the room – influenced by the idea that the candles used in Act 3 would be distributed around the room, and would naturally send a variety of random shadows up on to the walls and ceiling. Of course, the candles by themselves would not be bright enough to illuminate a long scene in a big theatre, so I amplified this quality in a controlled way.”

For night-time scenes the room has a hearth-like warmth, Peter explains how he created the effect using both colour and the lighting angle, “Whilst the Birdies relating to candlelight were set mostly on the floor, I used another layer of units low slung from the front of house, in particular a couple of (quiet!) moving lights that could imperceptibly track action and maintain intimacy.”


“I had to use good old VL1100s because of the noise factor. They are still the only usable moving light in drama situations like this, and I still haven’t found another moving light which will allow the absolutely smooth introduction of diffusion to the beam – one of the main factors that allows me to move light around the set imperceptibly.”

Lighting the performers, capturing their movements and facial expressions, has its own specific requirements. Peter explains, “The key light for me was the light coming through the window, and wherever I could, I used that light to edge and shape. Similarly, another source was that which I got into the space through the stair well, along with runs of GLP X Bar 20 strip lights that I had hidden behind the ceiling beams. Much of the front of house lighting was rigged as far left and right as possible, to maintain ‘shaping’ and not give too much flat light.

“There were, of course, units coming straight in to give facial clarity, but hopefully working more as ‘fill light’ on an actor who was already benefitting from the more three dimensional quality from the side light”.

With Rob Howell’s set design presenting some interesting challenges for the lighting, Peter sums up how his work on The Ferryman differs from many other productions, “It’s not a huge rig, by any means, and it’s what I would call an unusual focus. Each light has pretty much its own job, and there are not really any basic washes as one might normally have.”

PRG XL Video Account Director, Jon Cadbury, worked with Peter to supply the fixtures required for his design.

The Ferryman is at the Gielgud Theatre until 6 January 2018. For tickets visit www.theferrymanplay.com.

£12 Day seats are available for each performance at 10.30 am in person at the Gielgud Theatre Box Office.

Photo credit: Johan Persson

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Robert Juliat Dalis 862 footlight. Photo ©Robert Juliat
23/06/2017

PRG XL Video Invests in Robert Juliat Dalis LED Lighting Battens

PRG XL Video, the UK operation of Production Resource Group LLC (PRG), has announced an investment in new Robert Juliat lighting technology, adding the Dalis 862 asymmetric LED footlight to its inventory.

Used as front-edge stage lighting, the rear of the batten is black, and so inconspicuous from the audience’s viewpoint. The fixture outputs white light which is tunable from 2200K to 6500K, and has 48 asymmetric reflectors arranged in two rows. Each row can be controlled independently, and this enables the footlight to be used for both short and long throw capabilities for upstage and downstage lighting.

Units also include small discrete red and blue mark LEDs which can be used as position markers or cue lights. They can also act as safety indicators marking the edge of the stage.

PRG’s European Head of Asset Management, Paul Weaver, comments: “The Dalis fixture adds an extra dimension into the PRG fleet. Its unique functionality of stage marking within the unit itself is a step forward in theatrical lighting fixtures, and makes them ideal for all lighting disciplines.”

Robert Juliat’s Managing Director, François Juliat observes further: “The ability to carefully manage upstage and downstage lighting in a good quality white light is very fundamental to a footlight. By investing in our new Dalis 862, PRG has chosen a unique exciting product, providing their clients with the right features to serve their creative productions.”

The fixtures have been put straight into action, and are currently working their magic on Little Mix’s European tour.

To enquire about using the Robert Juliat Dalis 862 on your show click Contact in our main menu to ask about hiring them.

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23/06/2017

Thanks to Everyone Who Visited Us at the ABTT Theatre Show 2017

PRG XL Video would like to extend our thanks and gratitude to everyone who visited us at the ABTT Theatre Show this year at London’s Alexandra Palace. Taking place over two days in early June, the UK’s only annual trade show dedicated to the theatre industry was well attended over the two days.

Peter Marshall, Director of Theatre for PRG XL in the UK, places a very high value on our participation at the ABTT Theatre Show, and was delighted at the high level of attendance and positive air at this year’s chapter of the event: “The main focus for us at the ABTT Theatre Show is to welcome friends and colleagues from across the industry to our stand and enjoy a chat and catch-up over a drink. During both days, there was a steady flow of people, including Lighting Designers, Production Managers, Theatre Technicians, Programmers and students. One of the main aims of PRG XL is to build and maintain excellent relationships with our industry connections, the ABTT Theatre Show is a perfect opportunity to help us achieve that.”

 

The lighting design for our stand was done by John Harris, who leaned towards a design which utilised innovative products developed by, and available exclusively through PRG—including the Icon Beam and Icon Edge moving lights, as well as a V276 lighting control console. Additional stand lighting was achieved with GLP X4S LED wash lights and Colorblaze 72 LED battens. We were kindly supported by Cover it Up, who provided the drapes.

“Moving the show to Alexandra Palace has been a huge success,” quotes the ABTT’s Roger Fox, Show Director. “Despite the recent terrorist attacks and upcoming General Election, the live performance and theatre community came out in greater numbers than ever to support the show. Once again, the exhibition floor was completely sold out and a noticeable observation this year is that time that visitors spend at the show is also increasing. This is testament to commitment shown by PRG XL and many other exhibitors with the offer they bring to the marketplace.”

 

We look forward to exhibiting at the ABTT Theatre Show in 2018, when the show will return for its fourth year at the Alexandra Palace. Exhibition dates will be announced by the ABTT in due course.

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21/06/2017

PRG XL Video Expands Its Music Team With New Capabilities

PRG XL Video, the UK operation of Production Resource Group (PRG), is excited to announce two new additions to its music team. Robert Watson and Michael George have both joined as account managers and bring a diverse range of talent and experience to PRG.

Michael George has joined the company from Blink TV where he specialised in filming and streaming of live events – a service PRG XL has already begun to offer with the live streaming of Stormzy’s recent sold-out Brixton Academy shows.

Michael’s expertise in this field builds on PRG XL’s existing video, broadcast, and live recording capabilities, offering clients new services including social media streaming, and video clip compilations. Michael brings with him an extensive network of contacts in the field of content creation and editing.

Stefaan Michels, Director of Music, PRG XL Video, comments: “It’s a pleasure to have Michael join the team. He’s great to work with. It is exciting to expand into the live streaming market and with Michael’s expertise and high standard of delivery, it’s sure to be a resounding success.”

Robert Watson brings more than a decade of experience in live production, working as Project Manager and Crew Chief on several high-profile music festivals, designing lighting for theatre and concerts, and most recently working as a Project Manager at Panalux Broadcast & Event.

Robert’s expertise expands PRG XL’s WYSIWIG and design capabilities to the team, along with extensive knowledge of the latest lighting and video technology being used for state-of-the-art music and live event shows.

Yvonne Donnelly Smith, Director of Music, PRG XL Video, added: “I’m delighted to welcome Rob to the team. His in-depth technical knowledge and on-site experience of delivering shows is a great benefit to us. Additionally, Rob’s personality complements the rest of the team, and he’s already fitted in well!”

Both Michael and Robert are based in PRG XL’s central London office, near Covent Garden. To enquire about PRG XL’s expanded music capabilities, email UKmusicAM@prg.com.

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