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 is now booking until 19th May 2018 due to overwhelming demand.
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.
With a triumphant return to the UK chart with his latest album, Savage, Gary Numan has recently embarked on a tour of the UK featuring a lighting and production design by Luke Edwards of Cue Design.
The album’s theme of a post-apocalyptic world carries through into the design for the show, with Gary working with Luke Edwards to translate his vision into a touring production. To achieve this, Luke contacted PRG Account Manager, Rob Watson to provide rigging and lighting support for the design.
Luke already had a design concept which utilised panels of 6mm LED arranged in columns, with a row of Robe spiders between each column, but turned to PRG to supply a moving dolly system to which the panels and lights were affixed. This enabled the dollies to simply be rolled into place and powered up. For the larger shows on the tour – Bristol, Brighton, London, and Southend – an additional flown rig was required in place of venue lighting, and PRG worked with Luke’s design to complement the floor units.
Three trusses graduated downwards to upstage were used, holding six fixtures each of Clay Paky Mythos, and B-Eye K10 moving lights; six Chauvet Strike 4 blinders per truss, and six Martin Atomic strobes. The highly effective arrangement enables Luke Edwards to create a variety of stark and atmospheric looks. Much of the key lighting is done with fixtures at the side of the stage, rather than front on, and this adds to the overall look of the lighting design.
The lighting is backed with PRG’s proprietary networking technology which includes Series 400 Ethernet Switches, and a Supernode interface with Luke’s Avolites Quartz desk.
Luke’s key lighting crew for the tour are Karl Lawton and Bradley Stokes who work together to get the whole rig up in relatively short time-frames – necessary as the UK tour included several back-to-back shows in a row.
Luke commented: “Working with PRG again has been great and they really seem to want to support younger designers. Everything from prep to crew to handling my account has been flawless and the support received was incredible to help make this show a success.”
Rob Watson added: “It’s been a pleasure to work with Luke to provide support for his creative design. We have supported him on two or three tours recently, and each one has a unique, creative look. We’re keen to work with up-and-coming creatives like Luke, who bring fresh new design ideas to our industry, and to build relationships with them as they grow their careers.
PRG has appointed Caroline Hill and Mark Davies to its UK TV & Film account management team.
Caroline joins from Panalux Broadcast and Events where, for five years, she oversaw the delivery of a diverse range of events including fashion shows, television series, rigging for feature films, and, most recently, the lighting and rigging elements of the factual show ‘World War One Remembered: Passchendaele’ for the BBC.
Caroline studied lighting and entertainment electrics at college before going into the West End theatres as an in-house electrician, followed by a move to PRG as a moving light technician. Caroline comments: “My favourite moving light is still the VL5 because the key to the fixture is the prep and tuning of the mechanical parts. The success of the fixture is down to the attention given in the prep.”
Caroline now brings her in-depth technical knowledge, and wide experience of event, television and film lighting back to PRG. She is based in PRG’s Covent Garden, London office.
Caroline is an addition to the already bolstered TV & Film account management team that welcomed Mark Davies earlier this year. Since joining PRG as a lighting project manager over ten years ago, Mark went on to head up his department before moving into this current account management role. He brings a wealth of experience and knowledge of technical lighting systems.
TV & Film market leader Kelly Cornfield commented: “Caroline and Mark are great additions to the team and will support our continued growth in this sector.”
Bringing together an array of Bollywood’s biggest stars including megastar Salman Khan, Da-Bangg The Tour visited the Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham and The O2 arena, London; hosted by Lyca and brought to the UK by Farhath Hussain and Think Events.
Managed, scripted and directed by Sohail Khan Entertainment and JA Events LLP, the shows brought the music, dance and show-stopping entertainment of Bollywood movies to the live stage.
Working with lighting and video designer Elton D’Souza, PRG XL Video supplied a complex moving lighting rig and multi-section moving LED screen, creating a vibrant set for the high-energy performances.
PRG Director of Music, Video, Stefaan Michels supplied a full package of live video technology including LED screens, media servers, camera and IMAG projection system, and experienced crew.
Over 300 tiles of ROE Visual MC-7 LED was used to create 6 separate LED screens. To the sides large vertical screens had door spaces built into them, allowing the performers to access the stage. Alongside them centre stage left and right two more large LED sections were built. In the centre a horizontal flown section spanned between the vertical screens with a second section below which moved to allow group entrances to the stage.
The ‘door’ sections were created using a truss system with i-beam running through it, enabling the screen to slide open and closed manually. The LED crew chief was Stevie Marr.
Content for the screens was supplied via PRG XL’s Resolume media servers which are a popular choice with designers looking to create video content on the fly. The centre LED sections displayed either content or live IMAG footage which was seamlessly switched using Barco PDS 902 switchers.
Flown either side of the stage, two 24ft x 13ft projection screens displayed IMAG footage from Barco HDF-W30 projectors. The footage was captured using three cameras – a handheld unit in front of the stage, long lens at front of house, and a Jimmy Jib located at the side of the stage. The live camera mix was directed by Noel Wyatt using one of PRG XL’s Panasonic AV-HS450-based PPUs, which was engineered by Jeroen ‘Myway’ Marain. Robyn Tearle doubled as both projectionist, and jib cam operator for the shows.
PRG’s Account Manager Gordon Torrington took care of the lighting specification, working with Head of Event Services Richard Gorrod to supply an automated curved rig which moved down toward the stage to an almost vertical position during some performances.
The rig used a lot of PRG’s own Bat Truss, which enables a fast load-in. The silver truss, including the curved S shape, was formed from A-type. Nick Brown was the rigging Crew Chief, working with drawings done by PRG’s Head of Rigging, Q Willis. The rig used a Kinesys system which included 30 hoists for the huge rig, including a flying platform. This was managed by Simon Nott and John Heatherton.
More than 80 of PRG’s Icon Beam fixtures were used on both the lighting towers and on the moving fingers of the flown rig. These high brightness fixtures enable the lighting director to create a colourful punchy look. Alongside these on the flown rig, PRG Best Boys, and GLP X4 and X4XL LED lights were used. A six-strong lighting team was led on site by by PRG’s Luke Jackson.
Richard Gorrod commented: “This was a complex lighting and video rig with a relatively short load-in time, but the lighting, rigging, and video teams pulled together and the result looked great!”
With 10 performance spaces, including 2 main stages, 4 tent arenas, the highly acclaimed Steel Yard, and the new-for-2017 Warehouse venue, Creamfields has once again cemented its place amongst Europe’s biggest music festivals. With audiences travelling from across the globe, and world-famous dance music superstars, the festival continues to go from strength to strength.
This year’s main stage performers included Martin Garrix, Axwell Ingrosso, Hardwell, Fatboy Slim, and deadmau5, alongside special arena performances from the likes of Richie Hawtin and Stormzy.
Creamfields’ Technical Producers LarMac LIVE once again chose to bring in PRG XL Video as a supplier of video, lighting and rigging technology across multiple stages. Amongst the technology and services provided, PRG XL’s team supplied rigging, indoor and outdoor video screens; a broad variety of lighting; LED signage; media servers and content manipulation technicians; and broadcast equipment and support.
On the main Arc (CF01) and Horizon (CF02) stages, PRG XL Video supplied festival technology including lighting, rigging and video across both structures. Head of rigging, Q Willis took care of the rigging on both stages, leading a team of expert riggers who created the backbone for the lighting, video, and audio technology.
For all the video elements PRG XL Senior Account Manager, Paul ‘Macca’ McCauley took care of the specifications, with Project Manager Ian Jones taking care of the technical delivery. For lighting, Account Manager, Gordon Torrington, and Event Services Coordinator, Chris Scott, took care of the design and implementation on site.
The Arc stage featured, as its name suggests, curved wings which created an immersive space for the audience. The wings were made up of vertical columns of 12mm ROE Visual LED, built into PRG’s custom touring frames. The spaces in the frames between the columns were used to rig a variety of lighting fixtures including Ayrton Magic Panels, 4 and 8 Lite Molefays, and Atomic Strobes. Icon Beams lined the front of the stage below the wings, creating beams of light which stretched into the sky as the sun set.
On stage a large upstage back wall was formed from ROE 7mm LED, with a DJ riser built from the same material. The flown lighting was designed to offer incoming artists with a versatile package of fixtures, and this included Icon Beams, PRG Best Boy spots, Solaris Flare Jnrs to either side of the stage, GLP X Bar 20s, and B-Eye K10s. Additional GLP X Bar 20 fixtures were brought in for Tiesto’s headline spot on Sunday evening. Lighting crew chief was Aiden McCabe, with Chris Scott operating using GrandMA2 consoles. Video crew chiefs on CF01 were Ollie James and Colin Mudd.
Above the stage, the LED header was made up of ROE MC-18 Hybrid LED, enabling content designers to use it for content matched to the rest of the screens, as well as prominently displaying the Creamfields branding for everyone to see across the site.
On Horizon, the 18mm ROE Visual LED panels were built into the structure with specific horizontal rows missing on the wings. The spaces in the frame structures were then used to rig a variety of lights including 2 Lite Molefays and SGM Q7 blinders. Below the wings dozens of the new high brightness Icon Edge moving lights were used as beam lights.
On stage, a back video wall and a front DJ riser were both formed from ROE Visual MC-7 LED, with a header of 18mm LED above the stage. Both the lighting floor package and flown rig included Atomic Strobes and Martin Mac Viper Profiles, with the stage flown lighting rig adding 4 and 8-Lite Molefays and PRG’s new Icon Edge moving lights. Cy Dodimead was lighting crew chief for CF02, with Adam Power operating, using GrandMA2 desks.
On Sunday evening, headliner Martin Garrix changed up the DJ riser for a giant LED + symbol which makes up part of his logo. Behind this, flown ladders held additional LED lighting fixtures, creating a multi-layered performance space on stage. Video crew chiefs for CF02 were Craig Saunders and Steven ‘Waffle’ Lemahieu.
Across the other arenas and venues on site, PRG XL Video supplied a variety of technology, creating a different look in each space.
In the Armada/Mega Arena space (CF03), a sectional, wide video screen formed from 15mm LED spanned the rear of the stage, and saw headline performances from Above & Beyond, Alesso, and Armin Van Buuren.
In Steel Yard (CF04) a large upstage ROE Visual MC-7 LED screen and matching DJ riser were augmented by PRG’s lighting flown above the stage. The lighting fixtures were arranged on a Kinesys system, as well as lining the sides and centre spine of the huge metal roof trusses. This created an immersive space, lighting the audience with colourful beams from over 100 fixtures including GS Beams, PRG Bad Boys, and SGM P-5. Creating a great team, Steve Major was lighting crew chief on CF04, with Tess Minor operating using a GrandMA2 desk.
Steel Yard saw exclusive performances on Friday and Saturday from deadmau5 & Eric Prydz, and Richie Hawtin. Steelyard has already been used for two standalone Creamfields events in Liverpool and London, and is returning to Liverpool’s waterfront for a further three shows this November.
Gordon Torrington commented: “We were very happy to supply lighting to LarMac LIVE for three stages at this year’s Creamfields. It’s a brilliantly organised festival, with a huge crew. Everyone works very hard, with a strong sense of collaboration, and the end result looked amazing!”
In the Pepsi Max arena – a circular tent arena, a 4.8m wide LED upstage wall and DJ riser at the rear of the tent were flanked by 54 square screens; 27 on either side arranged in rows three squares high. The wings wrapped around the audience creating a high-energy space which was extremely busy all throughout the festival.
The CF06 stage, featured a single wide ROE Visual 7mm LED screen, spanning right across the rear of the tent arena. The screen was gently curved, mimicking the curve of the tent. On Saturday night, it played host to a very special one-off performance from Stormzy which saw such high demand that audiences were waiting outside the arena to get inside.
Especially for this performance, PRG brought in one of their GroundControl™ Followspot Systems. The followspot was rigged at front of house with the controller backstage. Using GroundControl meant that the organisers could avoid having to build a followspot tower at front of house.
In CF07, which hosted Mad Decent, and MK Area10 over the weekend a large upstage flown 12mm LED screen was paired with an LED DJ booth. The arena saw headline performances from MK and Diplo over the weekend, and boasted a DJ set from superstar Idris Elba, and special guest slot from Gorgon City.
New for 2017, the Warehouse was a new structure designed to hark back to Cream’s roots in warehouse parties, and celebrate its 20th anniversary. Giving the new arena an edgy look, PRG XL supplied an upstage screen formed from semi-transparent ROE Vanish LED. With lighting arranged behind the screen, it gave performers a three-dimensional backdrop and a fresh creative look for the new space.
Outside Warehouse and Steel Yard small LED screens were placed which ran looped content with the venue branding. These stepped away from the traditional tent branding and were highly visible around the site.
Across all the stages PRG XL Video supplied Resolume media servers to serve content. Project Manager Ian Jones, and Video Content Expert, Erica Frost worked on supplying pixel maps of the various stages to all the incoming artists and DJs ahead of the festival weekend, so they could format their video to the varied screen layouts. For those who needed extra assistance, PRG XL had content technicians on hand to re-size and reformat performers content on-site.
With Creamfields being captured for broadcast on BBC iPlayer and live stream from 4 stages for Facebook Live, media company Corrino were brought in to manage the broadcast element of the festival. PRG XL Video were asked to supply equipment for Corrino, including four portable production units, sixteen front of house cameras, and four on-stage robo-cams for some performers. Video engineer, Alex Mulrenan was onsite to maintain the PPU system, and support Corrino’s requirements.
“We’re delighted to continue our working relationship with LarMac LIVE and Creamfields,” commented Macca. “Every year, the technical specification grows and is more impressive, and the audience love it. Massive thanks to every single member of our hardworking crew who worked long hours to make the festival look amazing. We can’t wait to see the designs for next year’s 21st Birthday event!”
Photo credit: PRG, except Warehouse image: ALIVE COVERAGE, and Armin van Buuren in the Mega Arena: Geoffrey Hubbel.
PRG XL Video continued its involvement with the Barclaycard Presents BST Hyde Park festival, working with Operations Director, Dan Craig of LoudSound Events, and Production Director, Mark Ward of Proper Productions, PRG supplied a comprehensive system of lighting and rigging for this year’s run of shows in Hyde Park.
With BST Hyde Park spanning two weekends and with six headline acts, Production Director, Mark Ward of Proper Productions explains some of the challenges of staging the event: “The logistics of moving vast quantities of infrastructure in and out of a Royal Park to build and strike the site has significant challenges in terms of scheduling and traffic management.
“As we run across two weekends, as well as pulling off myriad mid-week events that AEG bring to the park, that means the entire event team have to keep functioning at a very high level for a long-period. Stamina and intelligent time management become mission critical.”
With different audiences arriving and leaving each day, Barclaycard Presents BST Hyde Park is unlike other festivals with camping. Mark explains: “Running a full audience ingress and egress every day, with vastly differing audience profiles, is a major added operational challenge.”
With all of these considerations and challenges, Mark relies on technical suppliers to be well-prepared. He clarifies: “What we need on this show is no different from most others – attention to detail in the run-up to the show, enthusiastic positive crew on site, well prepared gear in great condition, and all at sane prices!”
PRG supplied lighting and rigging for the main, second and third stages, as well as additional support for touring headliners including: Justin Bieber, Green Day, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Kings of Leon and The Killers. PRG supplied their new GroundControl Followspot System Long Throw followspot, as well as Vari*Lite VL3500 wash moving lights, GLP Impression X4 LED lights, SGM P5 LED lights and a selection of two, four, and eight light molefays; all of which were controlled by a network of GrandMA2 consoles at front of house.
Main stage Lighting Crew Chief Luke Jackson explained the logistics of lighting a major festival like BST Hyde Park: “There’s a lot of work that takes place before you see the band on stage. The headline acts load in and out overnight, with the smaller ones either utilising the ‘house’ rig, or adding their lighting/video requirements supplementary to the headliners. Obviously, the current night’s main act needs to load out of the stage before the next one can load in, so our teams are literally working all through the night. Even when the lighting and video hardware is hung, the data needs to be flashed through, and tweaks to existing programming made. The night shift will then hand over to a team of lighting technicians covering the daytime, until they clock back on in the evening for another changeover, so it’s a twenty-four-hour operation to put the acts on stage.”
Barclaycard Presents BST Hyde Park is the first event where the followspotting for every act was done with the new Long Throw GroundControl Followspot System, which replaced traditional followspots on the front of house towers.
PRG Event Services Coordinator and Crew Chief for the second stage at BST, Alex Peters explained why using the Long Throw GroundControl followspots were perfect for BST Hyde Park: “Previously, we’ve used either the Bad Boy or Best Boy versions of the GroundControl as truss spotlights over the stage, but there hasn’t been a remote followspot which can compete with either a 2.5K Lycian or 4K Robert Juliat Lancelot to use at front of house. With the addition of the GroundControl Long Throw to the inventory at PRG, it’s given us a new level of flexibility when deciding which units to use.
“The advantage of a remote followspot system is we don’t need to rig anywhere near as much steel because it’s simply a moving light on the tower, with no need for a platform. The operators are based in a Portacabin behind the main stage, so there’s no climbing involved; plus, there’s the additional benefit of the lighting operator being able to control many of the luminaire’s functions directly from the console, with only the positioning handled by the followspot operator, thus meaning all spots are of equal intensity and colour temperature.”
Mark Ward explains that the use of GroundControl Followspot System is a carefully considered choice: “The benefits in terms of reduced footprint, with more compact structures at front of house, and better sightlines for the audience are obvious. The benefit in terms of a safer working environment for the operators is less obvious, but no less relevant to how a world class production should be thinking through its equipment choices.”
Director of Music, Lighting, Yvonne Donnelly Smith commented: “It was a pleasure working on this event with Dan and Mark. This world class festival warrants close attention to the artists touring requirements, and we always work to supply the latest technology for BST Hyde Park. The design never stands still and continues to evolve.”
Green Day photos: William Gallegos
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers photos: Matt Rakowski
On 22 May 2017 the world was shocked by the terror attack on a pop concert featuring Ariana Grande at the Manchester Arena. Since the tragic events that night, the venue remained closed whilst the damaged areas were restored.
In celebration of the reopening of the venue, a charity concert headlined by Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, and featuring Courteeners, Rick Astley, and Blossoms, amongst others, took place on Saturday 9th September. The show was in support of Manchester Memorial Fund, a charitable trust overseen by the Lord Mayor of Manchester which will go towards establishing a permanent memorial for the 22 May attack.
In solidarity with the Manchester Arena, the performers, and the people of Manchester, PRG supplied video screens, camera system and live record of the event.
PRG Director of Music, Yvonne Donnelly Smith, commented: “We were shocked at the events on 22nd May, which affected a huge number of young people who were just out to enjoy some live music. Many of our industry colleagues were affected by the tragedy too. We hope that this special show reopening the Manchester Arena raised a substantial amount for the Manchester Memorial Fund, and that the audience and performers gave the refurbished venue a rousing return welcome. We’re happy to be able to support the event.”
Taking place in East London’s Victoria Park across a weekend in mid-July Lovebox and Citadel festivals feature an eclectic mix of the coolest music artists around, with Frank Ocean and Chase and Status headlining Lovebox and Foals headlining Sunday night’s Citadel line-up.
PRG worked with festival producers MAMA Festivals to specify a live video production package that included LED video screens, live camera system, and content playback and screen management system.
The versatile package consisted of two large 10.8m high x 7.2m wide IMAG screens formed from ROE Visual MC-7 LED, packaged in PRG’s own custom-designed touring frames. As LED Crew Chief, Steven Grinceri says: “Using the frames allows each screen to go up in around an hour.”
Out at front of house a further three delay screens, also built from MC-7 and measuring 4.8m wide x 2.4m high, were used by Frank Ocean to extend content out around the site, and acted as additional IMAG screens across the remainder of the weekend, bringing the whole audience closer to the onstage performances.
To capture the artists live from a variety of angles, PRG supplied three Sony HD cameras at front of house, and two Bradley robo-cams located on stage which captured close-up and side-on shots of the artists.
Video Director Alex Chew used PRG’s Ross Carbonite PPU to cut the live footage. The video system engineer was Andrew Powell.
Paired with the PPU, PRG used their Barco e2 screen management system to output the content across all six LED screens on site, and this was managed by PRG’s media server and control systems expert, Erica Frost.
On Saturday evening Chase and Status live streamed their set on their Facebook page, and PRG’s camera system was also used to supply footage for the live stream.
PRG Account Manager Michael George commented: “I have been working on this festival for a number of years, and each year it pushes the boundaries of live events and live broadcast. It is a great festival to work on, with a really eclectic line-up. We’re looking forward to 2018 already!”
Glastonbury is well-known for being a festival with quirky elements and the bravado to push technological and creative boundaries; and it’s one that PRG are delighted to continue their involvement with. Nick Diacre, Technical Director of ddld, partnered with PRG to bring an innovative 360˚ video installation to the Gas Tower area in Shangri-La.
Nick described the concept of the installation at Glastonbury this year: “We’ve created a 360˚ immersive projection environment in an outdoor arena with a capacity of 1200. The structure itself is inescapable to the audience, being almost twelve metres tall in places, and completely encompassing the arena. Over the period of four days, we welcomed over fifty guest artists, as well as VJs and AV artists to the arena to contribute content across our 360˚ screen.” Shangri-La’s Willy Brothwood was responsible for the design and build of the Gas Tower structure.
The 360˚ projection is achieved by mapping eight Panasonic PT-DZ-21k projectors across the playback surfaces. These are fed by a combination of d3, Touch Designer, and Resolume media servers patched through a 32x32 routing matrix. Nick explained: “We needed to create a system which not only served the purpose of simultaneously projecting eight HD outputs in a field, but also has the flexibility to accommodate the varying demands of the content creators we had performing in the space. The core team of VJs and a handful of those dropping in to play a set were more than comfortable to use one of our media servers to replay their content; but some would simply give us an output from their laptops—be it one, two or three screens, which we then fed into the d3 and remapped it onto the eight screens surrounding the arena."
Nick worked with Shangri-La Creative Director Kaye Dunnings, Technical Production Manager Seain Loughlin and Production Director and Music Programmer Robin Collings to bring the concept to life. Ela Brunel Hawes oversaw the careful curation of bands, VJs and visual artists appearing in the Gasworks, these included: Limbic Cinema, a VJ collective from Bristol; Delta Process, video mapping experts from Italy; Enjoy Kaos Visuals; DJ’s Yoda and Cheeba who produced an AV centric set that was both reactive and interactive with the audience; and Ela’s own company EBH Luminaire, with partner Daniel Shutt. Nightly performances of ‘The Bomb’ were performed by ‘The Acid’, with production support from Smriti Keshari, Margaret Avery, and their d3 operator, Scott Millar. The original ‘The Bomb’ d3 show was developed by Ben Kreukniet and UVA.
Nick explained what set their project apart from other endeavours: “Simply projecting video onto a 360˚ surface is really cool, but nothing new or particularly novel. However, the challenge was building a system which has the versatility of accepting all the artists over four days. We had our ups and downs, but everything went well and I think that what we achieved is something special.”
Video Systems Engineer Erica Frost has worked with Nick at Glastonbury for four years: “What I love about working with Nick is that he’s so enthusiastic and inspiring. Nothing is impossible with Nick, whenever we discover we need a new way of doing something, he’s open to different methods and solutions. His passion and drive is contagious, it rubs off on you and makes you a better creative technician. Before the Gas Tower project, we did a different video installation in Shangri-La, with live projection mapped content on a surface of tessellated triangles. Being an organically produced surface, there were no 3D models—which meant that each shape had to be individually mapped. Nick’s the kind of person who likes to take on ambitious challenges, pushing his own capability and that of the technology.”
PRG Account Manager Rich Pow, facilitated Nick’s equipment needs: “It’s a pleasure, as always to support Nick at Glastonbury. We’ve worked together on this project for a number of years, and each time Nick ups the ante and makes a real impact at the festival. Nick’s a real street geek and always finds new ways to utilise the technology to his advantage. He’s full of ideas, work-arounds, enthusiasm and knowledge; he doesn’t just think outside the box, he jumps on top of it to get the best view in the house.”
Nick started the preparation for the Gas Tower installation several months before the event: “Despite designing an incredibly versatile but complex system for this year’s production, we’ve managed to reduce the amount of kit needed to make it happen; this is largely down to using the incredibly powerful and practical media server, d3. Everything was built so it could be quickly moved in and out of place on forklift trucks; it’s Glastonbury, we always need to prepare for mud! We loaded in four days before the field went live, and then spent the rest of the time fine tuning the system and running content. In our line of work, we spend so much time sitting at a desk looking at a monitor or two, to be able to see your work in such an arena is really, really cool.”
Photos 1, 2, 3 & 5 Nick Diacre. Photo 4 by Ela Brunel Hawes.
When Bat Out of Hell-The Musical Co-Producer Michael Cohl stood on a make-shift stage outside the London Coliseum at the press launch of Bat Out of Hell-The Musical in November, he declared his latest project, along with fellow Producers David Sonenberg, Randy Lennox and Tony Smith, and Production Manager, Simon Marlow, to be the biggest rock musical to premiere in London since We Will Rock You. He wasn’t wrong, positive reviews are plenty, with The Times calling Bat Out of Hell: ‘a crazy, wild child of a rock ‘n’ roll musical’, The Guardian declared the: ‘roaring choruses and fairy-tale plot are built for the ENO’s stage’. The Stage said: ‘Bonkers it may be but, hell, it’s pretty brilliant too’, adding: ‘although set in the future, in many ways it feels old-fashioned, like a huge, 1980s arena gig, intensified by Patrick Woodroffe’s blazing lighting.’
With Jim Steinman’s Iconic soundtrack, made famous by Meat Loaf, one of the most ambitious set designs to ever grace the stage of a theatre by Jon Bausor, an innovative use of video by Finn Ross, and an up-scaled, operatic lighting design by Patrick Woodroffe—Bat Out of Hell-The Musical has made a big impact on the UK musical theatre scene, which it will attempt to emulate when the show transfers to Toronto in October.
Set against amidst the ruins of a post-cataclysmic city, Bat Out of Hell-The Musical is a romantic adventure about rebellious youth and passionate love. Jay Scheib directs this stampeding musical, which sees wild-eyes Strat, leader of street gang, The Lost, fall for Raven, the daughter of the dictatorial leader of dystopian city, Obsidian amidst the bombastic soundtrack, featuring classics such as: I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That), You Took the Words Right Out Of My Mouth, Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad; and, of course, Bat Out of Hell.
Peter Marshall, Director of Theatre for PRG XL, oversaw the provision of kit to Bat Out of Hell: The show initially opened for a twelve-week run in Manchester at the start of the year, before transferring to the coliseum for the summer season from June to August. It was brilliant to continue our relationship with Producer Michael Cohl and General Manager Julian Stoneman again—after supporting them on Rock of Ages, and very exciting to work with Patrick and Finn, providing some of the latest technology on the market, including the Panasonic PT-RZ31K laser projectors. Bat Out of Hell was one of the first installs of these fabulous projectors in the world, which came straight from the Panasonic factory in Japan to the Opera House in Manchester.”
Associate Lighting Designer, Rob Casey worked alongside Patrick Woodroffe: “The overarching theme of the lighting for Bat Out of Hell is to achieve big, operatic backlighting which compliments Jon Bausor’s rugged set. We took a basic set of ideas from Patrick and theatricalised it using numerous positions overhead and around the set. The trusses are trimmed to around twelve metres, well out of view and capable of giving a steep-angled backlight, which Patrick is a really big fan of.”
Lighting Programmer Chris Hirst added: “The main workhorse lights we’re using are the Martin Mac Viper Performance moving lights, as well as GLP X4 and X4L LED lights, which we use to achieve a lot of the looks seen on stage. Additionally, we have Martin Atomic and HES Dataflash strobes, a variety of different sized Colorblaze LED battens, Icon Beams, Colorblast CB6 LED lights, and a substantial package of generic lighting fixtures in the rig. All the lighting cues are pre-programmed on a GrandMA2 console to timecode, which allows all the big, strobe looks, yet can still be cued through by a DSM.”
Bat Out of Hell-The Musical makes innovative use of the latest projection technology from Panasonic to add to the overall look of the set and lighting design. Peter Marshall explained: “When we specified the equipment needed for the show, it was clear that only the highest performance projectors would suffice. We opted for the Panasonic PT-RZ31K laser projectors to take on the bulk of the projection work. Being a laser light source, these units are incredibly efficient with a maximum lifespan of around 80,000 hours, suffering minimal light output drop off over the life of the lamp.”
Emily Malone, Video Programmer on Bat Out of Hell added: “The Panasonic laser projectors are brilliant, they’re very bright but also very quiet for a projector of that size, which means they are perfect for theatre. We’re running all the content through a d3 media server, triggered by a GrandMA2 console. The d3 is an incredibly versatile media server which gives us the ability to integrate content across three dimensions, and tie in to Notch, which we feed live camera footage through to apply real-time effects. The combination of using d3, Notch and a GrandMA2 console gives us the maximum amount of flexibility and allows the show to be run by one person, on one console—activating both lighting and video cues.”
Video Designer, Finn Ross, of FRAY Studio design, commented: “The video design for Bat Out of Hell summons the ruined world of Obsidian, the neo-futuristic city in which the show is set. The set is fully video mapped and constantly textured by video to shift us from location to location, in an abstract style inspired by the ruined Bronx of the 1970s. We also use a lot of live camera to present certain aspects of the show as if happening in a dream. We process the camera through Notch to give the image a heightened, dream-like atmosphere. Everything is sequenced in d3, making it very easy for us to rework whole segments of the show in visualisation.” Working alongside Finn and Emily was Video System Engineer, Jonathan Lyle and Video Engineer, James Craxton, who designed and implemented the system to realise Finn’s artistic vision.
General Manager Julian Stoneman commented: “Once again it was a pleasure to be working with PRG on such an epic production as Bat Out Of Hell The Musical. The expectation from an audience pointof-view was going to be huge and with the designers that were employed, it meant that the finished product was going to be a class of its own. The designers along with PRG worked as a family, so the time and effort that was put in was never wasted."
Rob Casey described the challenges of adapting the set-up when moving between the two venues: “Moving from Manchester to London was a really big change, the Coliseum is considerably bigger than the Manchester Opera House, so some adjustments were always going to have to be made. That said, we had both venues in mind when designing the show, so very little of the lighting rig changed, with the exception of reconfiguring the way some of it was rigged overhead. When we were in the Opera House, the additional width of the proscenium arch in the Coliseum was marked on the wall, so we knew what would and wouldn’t be visible when we arrived in London. The transition between the venues was very smooth, because the core team was kept the same for both theatres. Production Electrician Rich
Mence lead a team of seven production electricians to bring this mammoth production to the stage.”
Rich discussed: “I was really excited about working on Bat Out of Hell, I remember listening to my dad’s copy when I was really little, so to be given the opportunity to see it brought to life on stage was an exciting prospect. It’s not like a regular musical theatre show, being so loud and rocky. The load-in schedule for London was fairly quick compared to Manchester, where we had an additional couple of weeks to build everything and technically rehearse it, with the show still being tweaked during preview shows. Because we already knew how the show would run, we spent most of the time before previews adjusting the position of the lights to accommodate the Coliseum stage, which is much bigger than the one in the Manchester Opera House. I’s been a pleasure working with the whole team on Bat Out of Hell; everyone has played a vital role in making the show what it is.”
Rich continued: “The most challenging part of prepping for the show, was that we always had to have in mind that the production was going to move between two different theatres. Usually a show of this size would go into a venue and sit down for a prolonged period of time. We treated Bat Out of Hell like a tour in terms of infrastructure needed, the show tours all its own cable, distro and control networks, which isn’t always the case with a big West End show. Every element of the rig—electrics, smoke effects and pyro, needed to work in both theatres, and be practical to move. Building the rig in the modular way that we did, enabled us to move the whole lot between two cities with only minor alterations needed. Soon, the show moves to Toronto, so we will need to go through the process again, and then probably again after that when the journey continues.”
Peter Marshall concluded: “It may sound like a cliché to say that it was delightful to be involved with the show, but everything about Bat Out of Hell has been brilliant and a real privilege to be part of it. The music, design, people and experience have been amazing. The out of the box creativity shown by all the creatives involved have allowed us to showcase exactly what we can do combining lighting and video in the theatre. We wish everyone involved in Bat Out of Hell all the best for the remainder of their time in London, for the transfer to Toronto and beyond.”
Bat Out of Hell The Musical will play at Toronto’s Ed Mirvish Theatre from 14th October to 3rd December 2017.
56,000 music fans, 100 hectares of camping grounds, 350 DJs and four days of beats, bass and applause – the result is EDM Festival "Nature One". This year once again, visitors were able to celebrate three days watching various stages at one of the biggest electronic dance festivals in Europe.
Before the 23 floors were opened for the crowd on 4th August, a large team of technicians put in five days of hard work. PRG was commissioned by the client i-Motion GmbH to set up the OpenAirFloor, the largest floor of the festival. PRG Account Manager Jan Sander and his team were responsible for the rigging and installation of lighting, video and sound technology. And the stage was also built by the PRG crew.
At a festival usually the stage is the main focus, but not at Nature One 2017. On the OpenAirFloor, a large part of the technology was designed in such a way that the audience played a central role. Lighting designer Thomas Gerdon explains: "What makes the lighting design special here is that we do not have a stage with a lighting system like a normal Rock'n'Roll Festival, but the lighting system is mainly above the people - so it is a floor concept and no real stage concept."
Also for Jan Sander (PRG Account Manager), this was an extraordinary show, which he set up with his team of technicians: "The audience was offered a great choreographed show, with top DJs and a full multi-media show behind it. Great lasers and spectacular pyro effects were used as well."
The PRG team needed 280 man days, spread over five days of construction and rehearsal time.
The lighting show used mostly moving lights and LED fixtures. 34 Icon Beams were used as stage lighting, with 48 SGM Sixpack and 52 SGM Q-7 and 24 SGM Q7-W. Additional lighting technology that was used included: 124 GLP GT-1, as LED strobe light, 108 GLP X4 L and 48 GLP JDC-1.
For the right beats and bass the PRG team installed on the OpenAirFloor 24 x Meyer Sound Melody, 32 x Meyer Sound Mica, 16 x Meyer Sound Milo and 32 x Meyer Sound 700 HP. The customer's request was that a special sound performance should be generated in the bass range. The bass was set up accordingly in a certain formation so that the kick and sub bass could be optimally reproduced.
From the FoH (Front of House) the show was controlled by three Grand MA 2 Fullsize, 2 GrandMA Light and 14 Grand MA 2 NPUs. These also triggered the media servers, lasers and pyro effects.
The video technology of the large OpenAir stage was also integrated into the overall concept. Among others, P30 LED panels covered an area of 160 square meters, as well as ROE MC7-HB modules installed as a 30 square meter DJ booth. The entire technology was attached to almost 1,000 meters of truss.
Despite the difficult weather conditions - there were storms, thunderstorms, rain and sun - the technology worked perfectly. Thomas Gerdon added: "From Thursday evening to Sunday morning, not one lighting fixture had to be exchanged. This is extraordinary in such weather conditions and speaks for the top quality of the material and a very good installation."
The Electronic Dance Festival (EDM) “Nature One” was a success once again in 2017. On the former rocket station Pydna there were fireworks, electronic music, lasers, pyro and a multi-media-show.
Lighting designer Thomas Gerdon is delighted about the successful festival and praised the cooperation with PRG: "The advantage of working with PRG is that during pre-planning I can select the best possible lighting equipment from the portfolio because of the size of the company and the size of their inventory. The second big advantage is that the people who work at PRG have great experience when it comes to projects as big as this."
Sir Elton John is one of a number of acts PRG has had the pleasure of working with for many years. Account Director Jon Cadbury explains a little about PRG’s history with Sir Elton’s tours: “We have been working with Sir Elton and his touring team for many years, and we supply lights for most of his shows around the world. I look after them in Europe, together with a fairly consistent, and excellent lighting team, and my colleague Curry Grant takes care of all of the North American and rest of the world shows. Sir Elton usually tours twice a year in Europe, as well as touring the US and the occasional residency in Las Vegas; it’s like he’s on a never-ending tour – he is surely one of the hardest working artists touring today.”
As part of a wide-ranging tour, taking in numerous countries around the world, Elton played a number of dates around the UK this Summer. We had the opportunity to catch up with Lighting Crew Chief Lars Kristiansen, and Lighting Designer Kevin ‘Stick’ Bye, when Elton and his band played the First Direct Arena in Leeds.
Lars has worked with the touring production and the LD for fourteen years, during which time there have been various designs which have been utilised in a variety of venues, from racecourses to rugby stadiums, and arenas to cabaret clubs. “There have been lots of subtle changes to the lighting rig over the years. I think that what we have now is a very good system, it’s multifunctional, bright and we can now get the whole rig in the air in two and a half hours. The main lighting fixtures used are Vari*Lite VL3000 spots, Vari*Lite 3500 washes, Clay Paky Sharpy and Beams, and Martin Mac Viper AirFX moving lights.”
One recent change to the touring rig is the use of the PRG GroundControl™ Followspot System. Lars explained: “When I first saw them in action at an open day at The O2, London last year, I knew we had to have them for the tour. We use four Best Boy GroundControl heads on our front truss, in line with the key lighting, with the base station controllers set up behind dimmers at the side of the stage. Compared to regular followspots, they’re super-easy to set up, with the added benefit of not having to deal with in-house spots and local crew in the different venues we play.”
This is also a benefit to Marshall Arts, Sir Elton’s long-term tour promoter who do not have to construct front of house followspot towers with the associated logistics issues and potential audience sight restrictions.
Kevin ‘Stick’ Bye is also an ardent fan of the GroundControl: “Moving to a remote followspot system has given us more freedom - we’ve improved the sightlines for a lot of the audience, by not needing to build a tall front of house structure, which would have impaired people’s views in some of the venues we play in such as rugby grounds or racecourses. Moving from M2s to GroundControl was smooth and seamless.”
Stick has been with Sir Elton’s touring team for eighteen years, and described the current show design: “We’re presently touring a lighting rig designed by Patrick Woodroffe, the concept of which is pretty basic - the intention being to keep the attention on Sir Elton and his band, with the lighting adding a bit of flavour and embellishment. The upstage LED wall is used for simple, wallpaper-like content. The lighting looks mostly use the colour pallet determined by Patrick, with the layout of the lights adapted and scaled up or down, depending which venue we play in. I try to stick as closely as possible to Patrick’s design, most of the songs are very monochromatic - reds or blues, and then we let it all loose and go crazy at the end!”
Stick operates the lights from an MA lighting GrandMA2 console: “Being an old Vari*Lite guy, I used to use a Virtuoso console, but we needed something which was available and could be supported around the world. The MA2 is an excellent console, and is unbelievably stable, which means I don’t have to deal with unexpected board crashes. The show is run cue to cue, we and we don’t use timecode because each night is different. Sir Elton will play some songs faster or slower, and has even been known to stop and start over. I have lots of busking pages, with song-specific colour bumps and effects worked out between Patrick and myself. I think what we ended up with is the best of both worlds, the flexibility of manual control, with the security of tight cueing.”
The video content for the show is replayed through a PRG Mbox media server. Lars explained the unique set-up used on these tours: “We’d been hiring Mbox from PRG for several years, taking a full-sized rack out on tour, with the software running off of Mac Pro towers, but this was inconvenient when we were doing small shows abroad and wanted to check the rack in as general luggage. To resolve this, I built a custom system using two MacBook Pro laptops in a Peli Case with processing and routing hardware, and bought our own version of the Mbox software from PRG. We now have a compact, lightweight video playback system which can be transported easily around the world.”
Jon summarised PRG’s relationship with Sir Elton’s production team: “It’s nothing short of a pleasure to facilitate this artist’s touring needs. The rig is well designed and very practical for the varied needs of the tours. The hand-picked crew are one of the best teams we work with - they know the show inside out and are very loyal and dedicated to Sir Elton, trying to ensure they are available for his shows. Sir Elton John is an excellent customer whose loyalty we value very highly.”
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!”
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.”