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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Cockpit Theatre in Marylebone, London have just completed a three-week run of Robert Anton Wilson’s play, Cosmic Trigger—directed by Daisy Campbell and produced by The Cockpit Theatre.
Dave Wybrow, Artistic Director at The Cockpit contacted PRG XL Video for help in solving a video projection conundrum they encountered whilst planning to stage Cosmic Trigger. Dave discussed the challenges they faced, bringing their creative visions to life: “We’d wanted to produce Cosmic Trigger at The Cockpit for a long time, I’m not only a huge fan of Robert Anton Wilson, but also the seventies American counter-culture he represents so well. Cosmic Trigger is a complicated piece to produce, it’s basically a play within a play within a play—and is more a play about ideas than it is about characters. Previous productions have been presented in an end-on staging format, with projection on the three walls visible by the audience. However, because of the unique layout of The Cockpit, it became clear very early on that we would have to stage Cosmic Trigger in the round because that’s the best use of the space, and we’d be able to sell more seats—thus increasing the production budget and ensuring we could afford everything we needed.”
“The story of Cosmic Trigger is told not only by the character’s actions and dialogue on stage, but also by the projection—a host of videographers, artists and animators have been involved with the project. As soon as we realised we needed to project onto four surfaces rather than three, we recognised that we needed some help for a professional video projection company who specialise in working with theatres.”
Nilkanth Patel, video Project Manager for PRG XL, described the projection solution we provided: “We supplied a QLab media server system running off of Apple Mac Pro towers, which was stationed backstage and included a back-up system to cover the eventuality of any system failure. To connect the media server to each projector, we used Lightware TPS-TX95 signal extenders, and a Modex keyboard video mouse (KVM), so the video technicians were able to operate the media server from the front of house position. We provided a media server programmer to load all the content into QLab and configure the outputs, then left it with the capable technicians at The Cockpit Theatre.”
The Cockpit was built in 1972 and is a purpose built, stand-alone, black-box theatre with an 11-metre square auditorium which can be configured in the round or as a thrust stage. It is independently run, and is owned by the City of Westminster College, who maintain the building as custodians. Although there are no longer any college courses run at The Cockpit, education still plays a large part in the programming of the venue, in the form of classes and courses for professional development; as well as hosting many other productions for emerging companies, rather than beginner companies, who are looking to move forward with the scale and professionalism of their current productions. Dave describes The Cockpit as: “A theatre of ideas and disruptive panache.”
Dave commented on working with PRG XL: “As soon as I spoke with Nilkanth and connected him with my production team, it was clear that PRG XL not only knew their stuff video-wise, but are also very experienced at dealing with theatrical productions—they understood our needs and found the most effective solution to our projection conundrum, from both a budget and practicality perspective.”
Peter Marshall, Director of Theatre for the UK market at PRG XL, said: “Working with fringe theatre is very important to PRG XL. We are well known for working on the big shows like Mamma Mia and Wicked, amongst many others; but we are just as passionate about supporting fringe venues and emerging talent, as it is from this pool that the next big things will come from.”
For more information on the services we can offer Video Designers working in theatre, please contact Peter Marshall—who will be happy to discuss your requirements.
Following on from a highly successful event in 2016, creative agency Imagination has once again produced Make the Future London and the Shell Eco-marathon Europe, a four day event held at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.
The event promotes innovation and future technologies, and includes a variety of family-friendly activities and exhibits to educate and entertain.
Imagination’s Global Project Director, Lynda Hickey, and event Technical Director, Matt Francis, called on PRG XL Video to supply lighting, rigging, and video technology for the event, as the company was able to provide technology across all three disciplines.
PRG XL Rigging Account Manager, Ade Stead, worked with Imagination’s brief to specify and build rigging structures for the outdoor stages, LED screens and lighting, and truss and supports for the lighting in multiple marquees across the site.
Lighting Account Manager, Cameron Bannister, and onsite Crew Chief, Dana Read, provided a variety of fixtures including bright white Source4 Power Floods to light the Eco-marathon paddock and parc ferme marquees where the energy efficient vehicles were prepared.
ETC Source 4 Power Par fixtures were used for general lighting in the experiential areas. A crowd- pleasing zorbing experience, with midi-controlled lighting which changed colour based on the energy generated by the participants, used German Light Products GLP X4 fixtures to light the zorbs.
On the main stage truss totems were used to back the performers and these featured a combination of Sunstrips mounted vertically mixed with Robe Pointes and Robins.
Cameron said, “It was great to work with Matt and the team on this project for a second year in a row. The event is constantly developing and improving in terms of the show delivery, and the organisers endless drive to streamline the processes in bringing it together are industry leading. I look forward to working with everyone again in the near future.”
On the video side, PRG XL Account Manager, Rich Pow, and Crew Chief, Nathan Avery, worked with Matt Francis to provide a high resolution Unilumin 3.9m LED screen in the welcome area. This displayed an introductory film to visitors as they arrived.
In the park, they supplied a pair of ROE Visual MC-7 screens either side of the main stage, which displayed IMAG footage of the performers, and highlights of the Eco-marathon action. A further relay screen situated centrally in the park also displayed IMAG footage.
A pedestrian bridge across the Eco-marathon track allowed the visitors to walk from the entrance and paddock area to the main stage. Built into the side of the bridge, a further LED screen displayed the countdown clock for the qualifying heats and main race, as well as results, stats, and social media info.
IMAG footage was captured by several IP cameras installed across the site by Imagination, along with two wired and three wireless cameras from PRG XL. A jib-cam was brought in for the finals of the Shell Eco-marathon Europe, and Rich Pow commented, “the additional camera jib we supplied captured some different footage which looked fantastic on the IMAG screens.”
One of the outdoor game areas – Energy Light – used LED strips. Players were encouraged to transfer weights onto a weighing mechanism. The LED strips changed colour as more weight was added giving a visual representation of the game.
Rich Pow commented, “Once again it was great to work with the Imagination team on Shell Make the Future London and the Eco-marathon Europe. Matt and the team made some small changes from last year’s event that had a huge positive impact on the build and the show itself. This is a magical event to work on from conception through to seeing it full of life on site. It’s a real family-pleasing event.”
Photos: PRG UK/Alison Barclay
Check out our video from Shell Make the Future London 2017 and Eco-marathon Europe.
For the 15th consecutive year, PRG XL Video supplied a comprehensive lighting and rigging package for Download Festival; as well as video screens for a selection of the touring bands stopping off to play at the UK’s premier heavy rock and metal festival.
Two of the three main stage headliners are using touring rigs supplied by PRG XL, including System of a Down on Friday and Aerosmith on Sunday.
System of a Down used 9 PRG GroundControl followspots, with the controls stations located under the stage. Other headline lighting products specified by Lighting Designer Rob Sinclair include Martin Mac AIRFX and PRG Best Boy spot moving lights, as well as Solaris Flare LED effects and strobe lights. System of a Down used a PRG XL Video LED video screen, hung in a diamond orientation and made up of ROE 18mm Hybrid LED tiles, powered by a Hippotizer media server.
Aerosmith’s Lighting Designer Cosmo Wilson selected a plethora of lighting fixtures for Sunday night’s show, including 272 GLP Impression X4 LED lights, as well as Robe Pointe and BMFL moving lights, and Martin Atomic strobes. All of Aerosmith’s lighting is controlled by a GrandMA2 lighting control console. Aerosmith have a ROE MC-7 upstage video wall, driven by a Catalyst media server package.
Elsewhere around the site, PRG XL also supplied the lighting and rigging services for stages two and three, as well as the touring rig for Rob Zombie, who occupies the Stage two headline slot on Saturday evening. There is a core lighting rig on the main stage, which is designed to be flexible enough to accommodate the additional kit brought by the headline acts, as well as versatile enough to be used for the band playing throughout the day and early evening.
PRG XL Account Manager Gordon Torrington is overseeing the supply of equipment and crew for Download 2017: “I’ve been involved as the Crew Chief for Download Festival for more than seven years, this year I’ve approached the project from a different angle, as an Account Manager, which brings its own unique challenges, but is just as rewarding and a lot less muddy. I’m really pleased to still be involved with Download, and am excited to get on site and see some of the shows!”
PRG XL Video recently supported Production Manager Iain Whitehead and Production North with lighting, video and rigging services for The X Factor Live tour 2017. Stopping off at nineteen venues around the UK, the tour featured the stars of the 2016 series of the popular prime-time weekend television show.
Lighting Designer Peter Barnes returned for his sixth X Factor Live tour to design the set, lighting and video screen layout. Peter explained the creative process behind the show: “I worked closely with Creative Director, Beth Honan, on her staging requirements and overall artistic look of the show. The general design complimented what the audience would be used to from the TV show. Although there was no particular brief given to me, with this particular show, there’s always been a video screen which opens upstage centre, and the rest just falls into place from that, filling in the background with screens and lights. Whilst designing the set and lighting layout to fit in with Beth’s vision, it was also of paramount importance for me to regularly liaise with Iain Whitehead and his production team, as well as my lighting Crew Chief, Steve Major to ensure the rig was practical from a technical and build perspective”
Lighting technology used on The X Factor Live tour included the PRG Best Boy spot HP, Vari*Lite VL3500, Clay Paky Mythos, Sharpy moving lights, A.Leda B-EYE K10 LED effects lights, and Solaris Flare LED strobes. Followspotting power was provided by Robert Juliat Lancelots.
Discussing his choice of lighting fixtures, Peter Barnes said: “I opted for Clay Paky Sharpys because they have a bright, punchy beam which would show up against the high quantity of LED screen, the Mythos is an equally powerful light and can be used to give wider beam effects; whilst the VL3500 gave a bright overall wash, enabling us to see the artists and dancers against the strong backlight from the screens. I used the Clay Paky K10s to give some backwash and effects. The Ayrton Magic Blades and Magic Panels also gave wonderful effects to play about with.”
The main video element of the tour was made up of ROE Visual MC-7H 7.5mm LED tiles, with a central 6 x 4.2 metre screen, flanked by four 1.2-metre-wide vertical strips stepping out and forwards from each side. Above this, and fanning out over the stage were a combination of ROE S18 600mm and 1200mm 9mm LED strips. This layout of screen is designed to open up the stage—focussing the audience’s attention towards the central point, as well as giving a false sense of perspective and making the stage look bigger than it actually is. The LED screen content was driven by a Brompton Technology Tessem/Revolution M2 LED processor, and Catalyst V5 XL media server. In addition to the LED walls, there were two projection screens either side of the stage, playing pre-recorded content and IMAG footage of the show. Sony HXC-100 XL cameras captured footage on the night, and was played back through Barco HDX-W20 20K projectors.
Peter Barnes was joined by Lighting Operator Dom Crookes, who has worked with Peter on numerous tours, including Ronan Keating and The Vamps. Dom said: “Creative Director, Beth Honan worked closely with Pete to decide on the style of lighting for each song, but generally we were going for big, bold looks which replicated what people expected to see from the TV show. I used a Hog 4 Full Boar to program and operate the lighting—which was all pre-programmed and run off of timecode, triggered by the audio track of each song.”
Peter paid tribute to Dom’s input on The X Factor Live tour: “Dom’s been operating the show for the last three years and is an important part of the team—he puts in many, many hours during pre-production and rehearsals programming the show. This year’s tour was made up of 36 songs, which is about double that of a normal pop show.”
The show cycled through performances from each of the final eight contestants, introduced by their mentor on the side screens, before 2016’s X Factor winner, Matt Terry, closed the show.”
The X Factor TV series will return in the autumn, with the next live tour taking to the road in February 2018.
British pop-rock band, The Vamps recently completed a sold-out arena tour of the UK as part of the first leg of their world tour, before joining up with Little Mix as they head in to Europe at the end of May. Lighting, video and rigging technology and services were supplied by PRG XL Video—with lighting design by Peter Barnes and video content direction by Stuart Merser, using the latest must-have live image manipulation tool: VideoDust.
Created by Stuart Smith and his business partner Phil Woodhead, of Brighton based technologists Thundering Jacks, VideoDust is a user-friendly, intuitive tool for creating original video content in real-time from a live source. Stuart Merser has been the only video director outside of Thundering Jacks to use VideoDust/Cat combination on touring productions, he explained why he is such a fan: “I’ve been touring for over twenty years and VideoDust is one of the most impressive tools I’ve worked with. VideoDust gives me the ability to make, change, or manipulate content live, as a show is actually taking place. I can take a camera feed and run it through VideoDust, apply a number of effects and output the content to the main video screen—it’s also reactive to light and sound, which makes it even more creative. On The Vamps, we took various audio lines and fed these into VideoDust to generate the effects we used. Everything was pre-programmed to timecode on The Vamps, this included the segments of the show which used VideoDust, but even though the effect was pre-determined, I manually manipulated the effect in a different way each night—that way, no two shows were ever the same, despite the fact it’s all pre-programmed.”
Stuart Smith explained how VideoDust came into existence: “My background is in gallery based, interactive visual art. In around 2011 I was invited to create some unique content for a Peter Gabriel tour, where he wanted to do some funky effects, with the image on-screen breaking into shards of glass whenever he moved his hand in a certain way. Word got around and people in the touring industry thought it would be amazing to have the capability to do stuff like this on more live shows. Shortly after that I met my business partner Phil Woodhead, who was working on Kings of Leon; I ended up joining the tour with a very early version of VideoDust—from which the effects were great, but it wasn’t very user friendly. I came home and overhauled the whole thing, the concept of VideoDust is that it’s a super easy-to-use tool with an iPad interface, that can be used as a creative tool for Video Designers and Directors.”
Having been given a demo of VideoDust by both Stuarts prior to The Vamps show, the range of effects and manipulation level is impressive. For example, you can take video footage and break it into different shapes, rotate those shapes around three axes, change the colour and have it pulse in and out to the rhythm of the song—all controlled by really simple faders on an iPad. VideoDust is such a revolutionary modular plug in that Catalyst version 6 will include a copy of VideoDust, known as CatDust, when it is released later in the year.
The video playback surface for The Vamps was a colossal 33-metre-wide ROE F-12 LED screen, with additional LED panels on the band risers. All the content was driven through a Catalyst media server, with Stuart‘s mixing being done on a Black Magic 2ME desk.
Lighting Designer Peter Barnes is a pop show lighting virtuoso and has lit The Vamps since their first theatre tour in September 2014. Discussing the layout of the lighting and choice of fixtures, Peter commented: “The band wanted a giant video screen, as they’d seen another show with something similar—so we came up with a screen that’s around 33 metres wide. The size of the screen means that all the lighting fixtures need to go either above or below it, which pretty much determined the style of lighting for The Vamps, with trusses over the stage and above the video wall, as well as lights lining the back of the risers below. Because of the amount of video, I needed something punchy to compete with the light output from the LED wall; I found that the Clay Paky Mythos and Icon Beam from PRG cut through the ambient light very well.”
Additional lighting used on The Vamps tour included Vari*Lite VL3500 wash lights; and the B-EYE K10 LED effects light and CC LED strobe from Clay Paky. Followspot power was provided by Robert Juliat Lancelots. Dom Crookes worked with Peter during pre-production, programming the show lighting on WYSIWYG and during production rehearsals—with Fraser Walker taking over as lighting operator for the tour, running everything from a Hog 4 Full Boar.
Steve Major was the lighting Crew Chief, somebody who Peter has the highest level of respect for: “Steve’s been the Crew Chief on all The Vamps tours, and is brilliant at making it all happen at every show, as well as specifying the kit to make my design go together as quickly as possible on a day-to-day basis.”