DALLAS – MARCH 16, 2017 – Production Resource Group LLC, the world’s leading provider of entertainment and event technology solutions, announced today that it has been issued a United States utility patent for the award-winning GroundControl™ Followspot System. The patent (number 9,593,830) is the culmination of a multiple-year development effort by the PRG Research and Development team based in Dallas. This patent is the first issued of the four patents filed by PRG related to the GroundControl system.
“We are very happy and proud to have our first claims granted on the GroundControl Followspot. PRG’s innovation is driven by our clients’ needs and this is just another example of our extensive technical capabilities,” said Chris Conti, product manager for PRG and one of the inventors. “This product is revolutionizing a category that has seen very little innovation in the past 30 years. We have been overwhelmed with the success and demand for the product.”
PRG’s GroundControl Followspot System allows a followspot operator to remotely operate a high output automated luminaire as a followspot from up to 2,000 feet away. Designers now have total creative freedom to put followspots in previously unusable places or avoid complex rigging. With the GroundControl Followspot System, the operator is on the ground so the physical footprint of the luminaire is significantly smaller than a conventional followspot. Because of this small footprint and low weight, followspots can now be placed in a wide variety of positions. The GroundControl Followspot System consists of specially customized PRG luminaires which include a built-in camera and can be flown or mounted in locations around a venue which would not normally accommodate a followspot. In addition to the safety benefits, the GroundControl Followspot System reduces trucking space, saves operator time, allows for a single operator to control multiple follow spots and also minimizes “seat kills” – the need to remove seats to create traditional followspot positions – a revenue bonus for clients.
The GroundControl Followspot System, introduced to the market in 2016, has been well received by the industry – awarded Live Design’s Products of the Year for Best New Followspot in 2015-2016 and AV Awards Production Product of the Year in 2016 – and it has been quickly integrated into live music, TV and corporate productions. The technology has been used on tours by artists including Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, Drake, Elton John, Metallica and Red Hot Chili Peppers and has been integrated into TV productions such as “The Voice”, “MTV Awards” and “iHeart Music Awards”. It has also been used in the Tom Ford Fashion Show and in events and exhibits by corporations such as Adobe, Microsoft and SAP.
The GroundControl Followspot System consists of three parts: a GC Spot Luminaire, a GC Truss Box, and a GC Followspot Controller. It is currently compatible with PRG’s Best Boy HP, Bad Boy HP and the new GroundControl™ LongThrow luminaire.
For more information on the award winning and patented GroundControl Followspot System please visit: GroundControl Followspot System.
Each year the Jesus Fellowship Church, which is an evangelical Christian organisation with Baptist roots, puts on a celebration event in Birmingham. This year’s event, held in late February, took place at the Great Hall of Birmingham University.
Lighting designers Tim Gregory and Sam Lantsbery contacted PRG XL Account Director, Jon Cadbury for support with their lighting design.
Tim commented: “It was our first time at this venue. Given the grandeur of the building, lack of rigging points and limited rig time, we decided to create a design that featured the architecture rather than detract from it.”
After some discussion with Jon Cadbury and the team at PRG XL’s Longbridge, Birmingham location, Tim and Sam opted to use four of PRG’s high brightness Best Boy spots, several Robe PATT 2013s, and GLP Liteware Uplighters.
The Best Boys were used with a range of stock gobos, with the uplighters used to pick out features of the architecture. Tim explained: “The zoom range on the Best Boys allowed us to create large gobo projections on to the ceiling and walls, and we used the uplighters to feature some of the stone columns around the stained glass windows and in the auditorium.”
He continues: “We used our own fixtures to light the stage, and the PATT 2013s added a nice tungsten glow in amongst the band. These were also very much in keeping with the building”.
The lighting crew on site was led by Sam Burling and included Nick Woods, and Filipp Gyemicsev. Sam Lantsbery operated the lights using an Avolites Pearl Expert desk.
Jon Cadbury commented: “Using our Best Boy fixtures with gobos was a very effective way of creating a celebratory atmosphere in the Great Hall, and they highlighted the architecture really well. We were happy to support Tim and Sam’s design for this special event.”
Tim Gregory concluded: “Big thanks to Jon Cadbury who has dealt with our requirements over many years, and to Stephen Price who came out to site.”
For more information on Jesus Fellowship Church, visit www.jesus.org.uk.
The Saatchi Gallery, located in the heart of Chelsea on the Kings Road, is not only renowned for its exhibitions of contemporary art, but also as a unique and flexible event space.
Situated in the Duke of York’s HQ building, the gallery offers multiple rooms up to a maximum of 70,000 square feet which companies and brands can hire for events.
To support these events, the Saatchi Gallery curates a list of preferred suppliers. PRG XL Video has recently joined the list offering a range of event technology including lighting, video, and interactive technologies.
PRG XL Account Manager, Emily Gibson, comments: “We’re delighted that the Saatchi Gallery has asked us to become a preferred supplier for its event hire division. The Gallery is a fantastic space which many companies use for receptions, brand activations, and other experiential activity. We’re able to offer a combination of different technologies and related services, which should enable them to create events with real impact for their guests.”
Rosie Courtney of GSP Venues comments: “Saatchi Gallery’s minimalistic style often appeals to a range of clients and brands as we can offer a blank canvas backdrop. We are excited about the prospect of PRG XL Video using the world’s best technology to create an unforgettable and unique experience for our clients!”
The Saatchi Gallery’s previous event hire clients include Google, Audi, Vodafone, JP Morgan, and the BFI London Film Festival.
For information on using the Saatchi Gallery for events, visit this page.
Lighting and Video for Drake’s Boy Meets World Tour by Guy Pavelo and Steve Kidd with Support from PRG Worldwide
Currently one of the world’s biggest music artists, Drake is selling-out arenas around the globe. Following a hugely successful tour of North America, the show was brought to Europe.
Tour Director and Designer, Steve Kidd, and Lighting Director and Designer, Guy Pavelo, have both worked with Drake for more than five years, providing the designs for multiple tours, and use PRG to supply lighting and video technology for the tour worldwide, working with Curry Grant in North America, and Yvonne Donnelly Smith and Stefaan Michels for Europe.
The design incorporates multiple elements of lighting and video technology including a kinetic LED lighting system; a curved video wall; an array of lighting fixtures from high brightness beams to remote followspots; and video projection.
Guy Pavelo explains their approach to the design for the tour: “This was our fourth master rendition of the design. It was a conglomeration of different elements Drake liked. We spent five months on the design from the first plan. We would show Drake different elements and he would pick and choose what he liked most.
“One of his team found a stop-motion video of an art installation in Japan which was similar to our ball and winch set-up, and had little baseball-sized things which moved in one pattern over the course of about six hours, but since it was stop motion it looked like it took 20 seconds. They wanted us to recreate that.
“In order to accomplish this, we determined that we needed to make a gridwork for the spheres and not spread them out across the whole venue otherwise it wouldn’t make sense to anyone except in the last row.
The design started with a curved video wall built from 9mm LED. Guy explains: “We started with the curved wall, and then we created the set with the lifts and all of that stuff that Drake liked, and added the overhead structure which encompassed some of the house rig. With the kinetic addition, that’s what finally tied all the last pieces together and created the system over the deck.”
Steve Kidd continues: “That’s kind of our relationship with Drake. We come to him with our ideas, what we believe would be great concepts, he then takes those ideas and bends them a little, as all great artists do, and then we create a reality, knowing what our vendors are capable of, but we also have to be realistic about how we can actually tour it.”
Steve and Guy’s main consideration is making a design which can be easily toured around the world, packed into trucks and into venues quickly and easily. Guy explains: “A good part of that is how we worked with SGPS to build some of the elements, from the curved framework for the LED wall to the fact that every piece of truss up there which isn’t a cable bridge is custom made. We moved from 24 to 32 to 48-inch double-bay truss with a shorter leg set and cast assembly so that almost every lighting fixture on the show stays in the truss.
“The truss stacks three high in Europe in the trucks and four high in the States. It’s a time saver, personnel saver, and truck space saver. Yes, it’s big and consumes a little more floor space, but there are 700-800 winches up there that never need to be touched again.
“If we went with anything thinner to save on truck space, we would have a cart with pipes and poles, and we’d have to hang everything each day, which encompasses the potential for more failure, so this saves that.”
Steve agrees: “When building a new production, we’re always up against time. Time and space are the two things which we consider – particularly how much time we have to build the show and what it’s going to take space-wise to actually put it inside the venue.”
When planning shows, smaller venues or those with weight restrictions have to be taken into consideration. Guy Pavelo elaborates: “We’re up to the limit of the venue capacity in terms of what we can actually rig, but the guys aren’t killing themselves to load it in. We’re fortunate that a little extra money was able to be spent on custom truss so we could save the guys a little.”
A notable part of the show is the kinetic moving spheres which wow the audience at multiple points during Drake’s set. Guy explains how the system was developed: “The kinetic spheres are a collaborative project. Glow Motion Technologies gave us all the pieces - it’s actually two different components; the sphere, the physical plastic ball, and the LED chip inside all developed by Glow Motion Technologies. The winch itself is from Stage Kinetik, the hard-powered winch, data, and control, but Glow Motion handled acquiring all the necessary stuff to put it together.”
Steve Kidd continues: “The winch from Stage Kinetik does all the work. Initially when Guy and I first started talking about this design it wasn’t a sphere, but by luck we got these spheres from a mutual friend of ours. They were used on an auto show in Germany, and were sitting in storage. The spheres are what they are, but without the winch it simply doesn’t work.”
Guy explains: “Without the winch, it’s similar to an art installation where the lights just go on and off, but after a few seconds, you’re done looking at it. With this people watch it, and then there’s another number and it looks different, and people don’t stop watching it.”
A major addition to the show design for the European leg was the projection globe. Drake was keen to give everyone in Europe a different show to the one which had been seen in North America.
The addition of a B-stage and the globe with projection meant some adjustments to the kinetic system. There had been a fly rail as Drake flew for one song, but with that removed, the winch system could be tightened up.
Guy explains the inspiration for the new projection globe: “That was from an art installation that happened in Toronto this past season. It was called Death of the Sun and it was a 45ft round sphere on top of a pedestal which was projection mapped. It was a 12-15 minute progression which had the different stages of the sun – from the birth of the star, through the nebula, until it finally burns out.
“The guys who created that had dealt with Drake in the past, so we were fortunate that with one phone call we were able to secure the ideas and the original and get the ball rolling. Two days later we had an object to start playing with here in Europe.
“We have eight Panasonic 30k laser projectors which are what’s driving the globe itself – four double-stacks in quadrant, and the guys are using d3 and Blacktrax to map and track the ball as its inflated during the show, so we can realign and hit it completely.”
The addition of the globe meant a quick change to the set up in Europe, for which PRG needed to add projectors and media servers to the setup. Guy explains the fast response to their request: “We called up Yvonne Donnelly Smith (Director of Music, PRG XL Video) and said, ‘we have a situation where we’re going to need a substantial amount of adjustment to the design’. They opened the shop back up at the weekend, and got personnel back in for loading the truck on a Sunday, which I know doesn’t usually happen, and we had the equipment on the Monday. It was a rush, but every single fixture worked and every one of them was clean, and they were sitting there Monday morning waiting for us to show up. It was fantastic. It was no problem, they said ‘just give us the list and we’ll figure out how to deliver it’.”
Another addition for Europe was the use of Barco projectors and their moving mirror system. Guy explains how they’re used: “They are a concept which High End came up with originally in lieu of lasers. They’re not laser projectors, but you can put content into them which makes them look like a regular laser. You can broadcast out over the audience with no regulations, or health and safety restrictions, and it gives a different look and colour. You don’t get the super-vivid green laser beam but, past that, you get its own type of effect which works really well towards the end of the show.”
The lighting for the tour was designed to complement the kinetic sphere system with many fixtures chosen for their compact size, energy consumption, and high brightness and impact.
Guy Pavelo explains the choice of the lighting fixtures: “We have a range of fixtures – PRG’s Best Boy Spot HP and Best Boy Washes, a small boat load of the Icon Beam; plus Clay Paky Sharpy and Stormy; SGM P5 and Q7 LED fixtures; a quantity of the new High End Solaspot 1500 and LED Solawash 37, with Martin Atomics and GLP XBar 20 fixtures.
“The spots and washes are used for overhead coverage – the trick being the size of the units. We had a very specific size range as we didn’t want to take the fixtures out of the truss every day, and if they were any bigger, they wouldn’t fit in order to stack it and fit in the truck. The overheads needed to fire through the winch and spheres to cover the deck.
“We went with the Icon Beam because the beam that comes out of it is a step forward. Drake wanted a different look and the beam is bigger than a Sharpy. Having the beam with some width, but coming out of a small compact head really worked out.
“For Europe we added the P5 and Q7 to give different mood coverage and house coverage elements as well. For followspots, the team chose the use of PRG’s GroundControl remote followspot system which situates the fixture on the truss, but with the control unit on the ground. They have two operators out at front of house and four backstage because the show is built in two halves – a forward U which includes the B-stage and then the main stage package.
Guy found several benefits in using GroundControl for this tour: “We have the GroundControl Bad Boy Followspot – six of those. We always usually have truss spots up top but with pyros and having people up there kicking their feet around, that’s a problem when mixed with the kinetic, so the GroundControl is a saving grace in that regard.
“When we made the shift to Europe and having the B stage all we had to do was take two of the lights down, move them over 10 feet, plug them back in and we were done. It didn’t turn into a six hour process to move two truss spots with trees and flight lifelines.
“We’re already rigging close to max capacity in most of the venues. The fact that we would have to have six more guys up there with an extra 5000-6000lb overhead for safety was saved.”
Steve and Guy have worked with PRG globally for a number of years to supply tours they design. For them service and support is the key. Steve elaborates: “We find that PRG has been an excellent provider of every aspect of all our designs. What I love about them is that the support is there, not only from the sales side so that Guy can achieve his dream of what he’s trying to deliver to the artist, but also where I have to come in on a budget number. We can say ‘what do you have that nobody else has used yet or that has just come out and looks amazing’, and we also get the crew support which comes along with such a great product.
Steve continues: “PRG has been great for us both domestically in North America, and worldwide. PRG has been a great supporter of Drake, and now with them purchasing video companies, that has escalated our relationship because we can now get lighting and video all in one. One of the hardest things in touring is getting different vendors to blend together. They have a cohesive team which all works together.
“It was important for us to work with people who wanted to be partners, and I know with both Curry Grant and Yvonne Donnelly Smith that the partnership worldwide means a lot to them, but it means a huge amount to us because we can count on them.
“Our client is one of the biggest in music right now – selling more albums and selling-out more venues than any other artist currently, so his expectation is high, and as the designers, our expectation of our vendors is also high.”
PRG XL Video’s Yvonne Donnelly Smith comments: “We have worked with Steve and Guy for a while now and their designs always push the boundaries of creativity. We’re proud to be able to support them on a global basis, working with our colleagues in North America, across Europe and beyond. The current tour looks amazing and audiences are giving it a fantastic reaction wherever it goes!”
More information on Guy and Steve's work: www.gp-sk.com
Photo credits: PRG XL Video/Alison Barclay
Floridian hard rock titans Alter Bridge toured mainland Europe and the UK during the tail end of 2016, with lighting, video and rigging supplied by PRG XL Video.
Lighting Designer Greg ‘Lil G’ Kocurek explained his design for the show: “We wanted a real heavy rock look, the kind of visual spectacular that threatens to melt your face; yet to create a well-balanced show with moments of calm between the chaos. The lighting rig is made up of Martin Mac Viper profiles, Icon Beams and Clay Paky A.LEDA B-EYE K20s, which are brilliant because you can do so many things with them and have great effects. I also used Clay Paky Stormy CC strobes and the Chauvet Strike 4 LED lights as audience blinders. Our choice of fixtures was moulded around the budget we had, and the best products we could afford—but in the end they matched our original ideas perfectly.”
Alter Bridge’s set was high-octane and relentless, despite the moments of calm Greg mentioned, which served only as an opportunity to catch your breath before the madness took hold again.
The video wall was made up of 105 tiles of ROE Visual MC-18H LED tiles, with content being driven by a PRG Mbox extreme V3.5 media server. Greg added: “The majority of video content was created by Craig Gowens which helped with stock content and additional content used to tell the story and theme behind each song.”
PRG XL Video Account Director Stef Michels coordinated the supply of video technology for the tour: “Greg’s a brilliant Lighting Designer who I’ve worked with for many years—he has a great understanding of video technology and knows exactly what he wants to achieve. The Alter Bridge tour looked amazing, with really creative use of video content.”
Greg is a veteran of the heavy rock scene, having worked with Slipknot and Creed, and has been part of the Alter Bridge touring family since 2009. After we caught up with the band in Leeds, they returned to mainland Europe for several shows, before heading to North America. Alter Bridge return to the UK in June when they play Download festival at Donington Park.
Photography by PRG XL Video/Matt Rakowski
PRG XL Video, the UK operation of Production Resource Group (PRG) has announced a new management structure which includes the addition of Teresa-Anne “TA” Dunleavy as Managing Director, United Kingdom. TA will take-up her new position on 13th March 2017.
TA brings more than 10 years executive leadership experience to PRG XL, joining the company from Concerto Group where she served as CEO from 2012-2016.
Prior to Concerto she was CEO of Good Relations, part of the Bell Pottinger Communications Group, where she was responsible for wins of major global brands that transformed the agency such as Nintendo, TalkTalk and Subway. Before then Dunleavy spent ten years with Omnicom consultancy Porter Novelli where she led winning pitches to British Airways and Toyota Motor Europe.
Her focus will be on further growing the commercial aspects of PRG XL’s business, as she brings a wealth of experience from her work with a wide range of corporate clients and global brand names. She will report directly to Stephan Paridaen, PRG’s global President and Chief Operating Officer.
Stephan commented: “We are delighted to welcome TA as Managing Director of PRG XL Video. Her leadership experience and commercial success speaks for itself, and she is the ideal candidate to build on our plans for growth, strengthen our commercial operations, and to promote our wide range of innovative technology solutions.”
TA Dunleavy commented: “This is a great time to be joining PRG who are demonstrably committed to pushing the boundaries to exceed client and audience expectations at every turn. It’s clear there are great foundations to build from and I’m delighted to be joining the team.”
Dunleavy will form PRG XL Video’s core senior management team alongside Stephan Paridaen; Executive Vice President and COO, Gary Boyd; Chief Financial Officer, Richard Williams; Director of Corporate Development, Dan Mollicone; and Director of Human Resources, Alistair Todd.
TA will split her time between the UK headquarters at Longbridge, near Birmingham, and the new flagship London office in Covent Garden.
PRG XL Video, the UK operation of Production Resource Group (PRG), has been awarded Favourite Video Rental Company at the TPi Awards in London.
This is the thirteenth time the company has been awarded the prize, which is nominated and voted for by production industry peers and clients.
At the ceremony held at Battersea Evolution in South London, the award, which was sponsored and presented by media server manufacturer d3, was collected by PRG XL Account Director, Steve Greetham.
Steve comments: “It was great to win this award for our video work, which covers concert touring and festivals, theatre, television and corporate events. We had a busy year with a variety of different applications including massive screens at Creamfields and Isle of Wight festivals, through to a custom curved screen for Big The Musical, and video projection for a Royal Charity Gala, and it’s great to see video being used in such diverse ways.”
“We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who voted for us. It’s a really an honour to be recognised by our industry colleagues!”
PRG XL Video was also shortlisted in the Favourite Rigging Company and Favourite Lighting Rental Company categories.
PRG XL Video was also a sponsor at this year’s awards. The Live Production of the Year category at the awards was won by Coldplay’s A Head Full of Dreams World Tour.
PRG XL Video, the UK operation of Production Resource Group (PRG), has moved to a new, larger, London location.
Continuing its strategy for growth, the company has relocated within Central London. The office, in the very heart of London’s theatreland, houses sales and support teams from four major market sectors – concert touring, theatre, television and film, and corporate and events.
The location at 77 St Martin’s Lane, Covent Garden includes space for PRG XL permanent staff, hot desking space for clients and creatives to visit, and multiple meeting rooms, which are not only used by PRG XL’s own teams, but are utilised by industry organisations for their regular board meetings.
PRG XL Video’s Director of Human Resources, Alistair Todd commented: “The space has been designed not only to house our growing team, but also as a hub of creativity for clients and visitors.
“We aimed to create a modern, pleasant working environment. The location has lots of natural light, which creates a bright, open space which our team will enjoy working in.”
PRG President and Chief Operating Officer, Stephan Paridaen continues: “As our UK business continues to grow, we have invested in a larger London location. This has given us the opportunity to locate sales, production, event services, crewing services and support teams all together, promoting an atmosphere of great collaboration and team work.
“On top of that, we also believe that the central location will provide our clients with a vibrant, creative place to visit.”
The official opening of the new London location will take place soon, where PRG’s latest investments in technical innovation will be showcased in a creative environment.
PRG XL Video’s London office is located at: 1st Floor, 77 St Martin’s Lane, London, WC2N 4AA
PRG's award-winning GroundControl Followspot System continues to grow in popularity with widespread use in concert touring, growing adoption in theatre, and now regular use by a variety of light entertainment television shows
The Guild of Television Cameramen have published an in-depth article about the game-changing new technology in their journal Zerb, and have given permission for the full article to be reproduced here. For more information on The Guild of Television Cameramen, visit their website: www.gtc.org.uk.
To read the full article, click here.
Each year, the very best in television is recognised at the National Television Awards. Taking place in late January, the awards, which are voted for by the British public, honour television shows, actors and presenters in a range of categories.
Producers Indigo TV bring together a variety of technical suppliers to support both the glamorous red carpet arrival space and the awards at The O2 in London, which are broadcast live on ITV.
Continuing a long-running relationship, PRG XL Video supplied both video and lighting technology for this year’s event.
Video Account Manager Paul Wood has worked with Indigo TV’s Andy Bates for a number of years, and this year supplied the production team with the main LED backdrop made up of ROE Visual 7mm LED. The screen is used for all the main title logos, category information and video clips in the hall.
Playback footage was driven by two of PRG XL’s Catalyst media servers, with a PPU forming the link between the live camera footage and the four large IMAG screens located around the O2. These screens used 30k and 14k Barco projectors, and ensured the audience in the arena got a close-up view of the presenters and performers reactions as the awards were announced.
Paul Wood commented: “It’s great to work on the NTAs once again. Andy and the whole Indigo TV team put together a fantastic looking show each year, which runs very smoothly. It’s a pleasure to support them.”
On the lighting side, TV Account Director, Kelly Cornfield worked with designer Dave Davey to provide a wide variety of fixtures for both the glamorous red carpet arrivals area, and the main lighting rig inside the O2.
Sam Healey was the crew chief for the red carpet area, whilst PRG XL’s live event specialist Richard Gorrod oversaw the lighting inside the venue.
The lighting rig used many of PRG’s proprietary fixtures including 70 super bright Icon Beams, plus an array of Best Boy spots and washes, alongside GLP X4 and SGM P5 LED lights. Alex Mildenhall and John Ford ran the desks for the show.
PRG’s award-winning GroundControlTM Followspot System was also used on the show. The system features specially customised followspots flown as part of the lighting rig, whilst the controllers and operators can be located anywhere in the building within 600m of the fixture. This enables the lighting designer to locate the followspot in the best possible position without blocking out seats, or obstructing any views from the audience.
Kelly Cornfield commented: “We’re happy to work with Dave Davey to realise his lighting design which looked spectacular on TV. Our onsite crews led by Rich and Sam worked brilliantly to ensure everything looked good and worked well for the live broadcast.”
Photos: Getty Images
The curtain has now fallen on one of the most unique and inspiring theatre spaces London has seen in recent years. We look back on the yearlong season at Found111, and the final production: Fool for Love.
In mid-2015, London based theatre producer Emily Dobbs recognised an opportunity when she discovered the derelict former home of Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design. She took out a short-term lease and formed Found111, breathing one last gasp of air into a very special place. Well known creatives such as Stella McCartney, Jarvis Cocker, Alexander McQueen and Paloma Faith were schooled within the walls; the Sex Pistols played their first public performance there back in November 1975, when they supported the little-known pub rock band Bazooka Joe. It was a space which oozed with creativity.
Found111’s opening performance, The Dazzle, made a stampeding announcement: here was a venue and producer with serious intentions. Publications such as The Stage, The Guardian and The Evening Standard were wooed by the stylised Productions of the Dazzle, Bug, Unfaithful and the swansong piece: Fool for Love. Susannah Clap wrote in the Observer: “Every now and then a particular theatre becomes a breeding ground. It becomes indispensable. Which is the case with Emily Dobbs’ Found111. It is not only that this unlikely theatrical space, at the top of several punitive flights of stairs next to Foyles bookshop on Charing Cross Road, has been terrifically well programmed with ferocious plays. It is also that it’s productions have been detailed and unsparing. The physical conditions—the low ceiling, the cramped room where the audience almost spill onto the stage—mean that the space itself becomes a magnifying glass for actors.”
Director Simon Evans, a key member of Dobbs’ team, returned to Found111 to direct Sam Shepard’s Fool for Love, a tense play set in a run-down Mojave Desert motel. Ripper Street duo Adam Rothenburg and Lydia Wilson were electric in their portrayal of Eddie and May—the audience gripped the edge of their seats, never knowing which way their moods’ would next be flung. Joe McGann was excellent in his croaky turn as the ironically named Old Man character, with Luke Neal contributing brilliantly as third wheel Martin.
Set Designer Ben Stones and Lighting Designer Elliot Griggs created arguably the most impressive and visually impactful performance environment employed at Found111. With limited space, resources and time; the creative duo worked with Simon and Emily to offer Found111 regulars a fresh interpretation of the space.
Elliot explained his approach to lighting Fool for Love: “Ben had a clear aesthetic in mind for the production so I had a good idea of what the lighting needed to achieve. Ben had built a detailed scale model of the set, which I recreated in Vectorworks, enabling me to visualise the space in 3D and work out the practicalities of how to light it. Found111 was an interesting space, which needed to be approached more like an installation than a standard theatre environment. The majority of the action took place in the motel room, which we lit in a very naturalistic way, around the motel is what looks like an enormous mound of mud, which we used to represent a different world to the motel. It was key for both areas to co-exist and for the actors to be able to move freely between them, but for them to be lit very differently. It was important to keep the motel room natural looking, whilst the outside area was very stylised and lit with stark, fluorescent lighting.”
Elliot discussed the benefits of pre-visualising the space in Vectorworks: “Because the fit-up time was very tight, the awkward architecture of the space and the lighting being mounted on unistrut rather than truss or bars, there was no margin for error when we got into the venue. If the unistrut went up in the wrong place and we had to move it—that would take away time we didn’t have. Building the whole theatre space in a 3D visualiser such as Vectorworks was brilliant because it let me see my lighting design from every angle. Ben was particularly concerned about certain lights being hidden from view, so I viewed the performance area from several different seating positions to make sure everything was spot-on.”
With such a specific brief and definite idea of how the environment should look, Elliot explained his choice of lighting fixtures: “Ben and I were keen to use a digital light curtain (DLC) style effect, upstage of the motel room in what is essentially no-man’s land. I initially looked at the GLP X4 Bar 20 LED battens, but eventually opted for the excellent GLP X4S lights, which gave me an enormous amount of flexibility. The X4S has a massive zoom range and beautiful, rich colours. There’s one section in the play where they are used to represent headlights sweeping across the stage, so the pan and tilt functionality was an added bonus over my original idea of the bar. The rest of the lighting in the motel and at front of house is exclusively tungsten fresnels; the space is very tight, with less than three metres between the floor and ceiling, so using source fours wasn’t a viable option because they take up a lot more space. All the conventionals were lamped down to below 650W to economise on power consumption due to the limited amperage available in the theatre.”
Emily Dobbs, who was recently made The Stage’s top 100 list, explained why she chose to stage Fool for Love in Found111: “I have always loved Fool for Love. There is a raw, visceral potency to Sam Shepard’s writing which is tremendously exciting to realise creatively. I had always wanted to do Fool for Love in an intimate space to respond to the claustrophobic, obsessive nature of the central relationship. So when Found111 opened, Fool for Love was immediately on my hit list. Sam Shepard’s agent remarked on how Found111 responded intrinsically to the anarchic spirit in Mr. Shepard—Simon Evans and I felt exactly the same. Found's gritty, crumbling facade was the perfect vessel to create a world about an addictive, intoxicating and dangerous relationship. Fool for Love, like all the plays we have staged at Found111, examines, with a forensic and sometimes unnerving eye, the dysfunctionality and all-consuming dependence of relationships. And both the ecstasy and destruction they create. Fool for Love is the pinnacle of these themes and I therefore felt a fitting finalé to Found111's yearlong season.”
Fool for Love continued in the same vein as the previous productions at Found111, receiving deservedly flattering reviews and critical recognition. Daisy Bowie-Sell wrote in What’s on Stage: “Fool for Love is a suitably ambitious piece to end on in a space where ambition has always been the name of the game.” Everything Theatre’s Charlotte Rose added: “This production perfectly captures the dramatic tension of Shepard’s dialogue, with a first-class cast that deliver every line in this relatively compact play with the reverence it deserves…the set design is effective and lighting design enjoyably eerie.”
Following the final performance on December 17th, and the magnificent send-off party; the doors have now closed for the last time and the magical space is bestowed to the annals of history. Emily reflected on the experience of running Found111: “Looking back to Autumn last year when I made the decision to take on a found space for as long as it lasted, I barely stopped to think about the challenges. I was so excited by the opportunity that Soho Estates had given me; I could programme the venue and produce my own shows at the same time. Running a space that was teetering on the edge of dereliction was surely just a matter of working really hard and pulling in a few favours! Twelve months later I can say that this is definitely true, I've worked harder than I ever have in my life and built a hugely valuable network of supporters and advocates around me that have enabled Found111 to become the success story it is. Running a found space has taught me to be enormously resourceful, scouring eBay for set elements, scavenging through salvage yards at weekends, literally every element has had to be 'found' somewhere and it becomes an overriding obsession that as each production has been confirmed you want to make it as exciting and ambitious as the last.”
Emily continued: “One of the most exciting parts of running a found space has been the ability to reinvent the venue each time and surprise our loyal audiences. The Dazzle and Fool for Love used a thrust stage, Unfaithful a traverse and Bug was staged on a variation of a thrust; almost `in the round`. We have had to stage each production around a central weight bearing pillar that has posed its own unique challenge, as has the size of the backstage areas and even the logistics of how the cast reach the dressing rooms on the floor below. However, rather than see these as limitations we have used them as vital parts of the creative process that have forced us to think outside the norm. It was an emotional day when we said goodbye to Found111, but the physical elements weren't important, we stripped back and returned the space to its original empty shell, then started our journey to find the next space and all of the exciting challenges that come with it. This is why I'm so keen to retain the Found name with whatever door number we end up residing at next because Found isn't about the physical space, it's about an ethos and a state of mind.”
Although Found111 no longer exists, Emily and her production company are busy planning their next move: “Found111 was an absolutely blank canvas with no infrastructure whatsoever but a hugely creative history that profoundly influenced the work that was staged there. That combined with the central location was what attracted me to it as a venue. This means there are no rules for the next Found, though experience says a central West End location has been critical to Found111’s success. We hope to find a similarly successful relationship as the one we have had with Soho Estates and are currently talking to local stakeholders as well as private companies. Simultaneously I will be working on freelance projects with Emily Dobbs Productions. Watch this space!”
Account Manager John Pauls, who coordinated the supply of PRG XL Video equipment to each of the shows concluded: “Working with Emily Dobbs and her team was a fantastic experience, we all fed off of their creative energy and were excited by her projects at Found111. Working with the Lighting Designers for Bug, Unfaithful and Fool for Love, Richard Howell, James Whiteside and Elliot Griggs respectively, was enlightening because each one of them approached the challenges of limited space and power in their own way and used their creative expertise to realise wonderful designs. We’re all keen to see which path Emily Dobbs Productions takes next, and look forward to working with Emily and her team on future projects.”
Television survival expert and adventurer, Bear Grylls, took to the road on a high-tech arena tour during the tail end of 2016. PRG XL Video supported Lighting Designer Adam Bassett, from lighting design company Woodroffe Bassett Design, with a comprehensive package of lighting and rigging for the show. Adam was keen to share his experience of being a key designer on this ambitious production:
How did Woodroffe Bassett Design become involved with the Bear Grylls Live? “We were invited to get involved by the producer Harvey Goldsmith and Luke Carr from the Live Firm. This combined with a good working relationship with Stufish, the creative production company behind the show, made this project a good fit for us.”
Please explain the concept behind the Bear Grylls Live Show: “This was a really unique production. A mix of live storytelling and staged re-enactment, all bought to life with video, lighting and sound in an immersive format. The show took the audience on a journey, re-telling a number of the most extraordinary stories of endurance and survival. Our job was to work alongside the video material and paint an ever changing environment that bought the audience into the story rather than simply watching it.”
Could you explain the design, what looks you wanted to achieve and the technology you used to fulfil your vision? “Everything was about texture and colour. The lighting concept can most easily be described as environmental. Far from being merely a backdrop, video was integral to the show and lead the way visually, in terms of colour palette and timeline, and we followed by painting the bigger picture around the projected imagery and over the audience. The second element to lighting the show was making sure the action was well lit, for which the complexity could not be underestimated. Bear was a moving target, sometimes on-stage, sometimes flying and on many occasions climbing up a video projected wall. This made lighting him extremely difficult whilst protecting the video image from stray followspots. The ideal solution for this was to use the PRG GroundControl remote followspots, we had six of them in various locations which allowed us to precisely follow him from the most appropriate angle at all times. Furthermore, it allowed us to program every attribute of the light to make sure it was perfectly balanced with the other lighting and video—something that would be far too complex to have a manual operator achieve particularly in regards to live colour mixing.”
What was the biggest challenge you faced bringing the show to the stage? “Key lighting Bear to a level where the audience and IMAG can clearly see yet doesn’t obviously look like he’s being followspotted and removed from the environment.”
The Woodroffe Bassett team on Bear Grylls, left to right: Nico Bray (Tour Lighting Director), Terry Cook (Associate Lighting Designer), Adam Bassett (Lighting Designer). Cameron Affleck (Lighting Assistant), John Coman (Lighting Programmer).
Lighting products used in Adam’s design included a large number of PRG proprietary lighting products, including the Bad Boy spot, Best Boy spot, Best Boy wash and six PRG GroundControl followspot systems. Other lighting fixtures used on the tour were GLP Impression X4 moving lights, iPix BB4 and Chauvet Strike 4 LED lights.
PRG XL Video’s Account Director Yvonne Donnelly Smith coordinated the supply of lighting and rigging for the tour: “Working with Woodroffe Bassett is always a good experience, Adam’s a great designer, ably assisted on this project by the very talented Terry Cook. The Bear Grylls show was something very different from what we normally do—we all jumped at the additional and unexpected challenges. It was clear from the outset that GroundControl would be the only option for followspots, because of the acrobatic work Bear does during the show, conventional followspots wouldn’t have worked as well. It was a rewarding project to work on, and a pleasure to continue our relationship with Adam and the rest of the team at Woodroffe Bassett.”
Students from Rose Bruford College’s Creative Lighting Control course recently visited PRG XL Video’s flagship facility in Longbridge. During their three-day experience, the students were given an overview of PRG XL, a tour of the 165,000ft2 warehouse and office building, introductory tutorials on the use of lighting, rigging and video technology on live events from members of the in-house Event Services & Rigging team, and spent time working in a number of the Warehouse Departments.
PRG XL Video Development Director, John McEvoy, explained: “Rose Bruford is one of a number of educational establishments we enjoy a close working relationship with. Their Creative Lighting Control course is one of particular interest to us—the students tend to be more hands on and focused on making a production happen. Alex Peters, one of our Event Service Coordinators, graduated from this course back in 2013.”
Course tutor, Rachel Nicholson said: “Being able to bring the students to PRG XL Video Longbridge is a fantastic experience. For most of them, their previous exposure to a rental company has been just seeing a flight case roll of the back of a truck, but by visiting PRG XL they get to appreciate what goes into preparing equipment ready for use on a show. John and I worked closely to tailor the three days and make sure the students and PRG XL got as much out of the experience as possible. Our students come from a variety of different backgrounds with varying levels of exposure to the industry. The feedback from them is that their eyes are now much more open to career options within a company like PRG XL—a huge factor behind that is the wide variety of skillsets and career choices available in a facility like Longbridge.”
Student Jana Jansen said: “The rigging session was brilliant. I’d never considered rigging as a serious option for me, but now I’m really keen to find out more and maybe work towards becoming a Rigger. I go climbing twice a week, so maybe it’s the perfect career path for me.” Fellow students Tilly Stratford and Tom Harrison said: “It’s amazing to see such a big warehouse and how everything comes together to get the lights ready for a show. All the people who work here are very friendly and really know their stuff.”
Rachel Nicholson added: “Because of the way John and I have planned the relationship between Rose Bruford and PRG XL, for some of the students this short trip to Longbridge could represent the start of a very long interview process. During the second and third year they have the option of spending a longer placement with PRG XL, and then applying for the Graduate Training Scheme when they’ve completed the course. We’re really happy with our relationship with PRG XL. John’s been brilliant to work with and the facilities in Longbridge are second to none.”
First year student, John Piper commented: “As a wheelchair user it is often the case that you can’t access the same areas as able bodied students on site, but working with PRG XL has made me see that the industry can be accessible.” John McEvoy concluded: “It was great to have Rachel and the Students in Longbridge for an extended period so they could really get an idea of how the operation works and what it takes to get a production out of the door. This has helped to cement an already strong relationship with Rose Bruford, and underlines PRG XL Video’s commitment to the development and support of the UK’s technical colleges to help encourage the industry’s next generation.”
Photography by PRG XL Video/Andy Edwards
When the latest Elvis Presley show took to the road, PRG XL Video were delighted to support Production Manager Peter Edmonds and supply lighting, video and rigging for the tour. 2015’s million selling album ‘If I Can Dream’, further strengthened The King’s inimitable reputation by giving him a number one album in five different decades. The tour used archive footage of Elvis, musical accompaniment by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and a personal appearance by Priscilla Presley, and gave many fans the chance they had not previously had—to experience the man who changed the course of music and went on to sell over a billion records around the world and cement his position as the biggest selling solo artist in history.
Lighting Designer Steve Sinclair is a veteran of the industry and perfectly qualified to light such an intricate and technologically innovative production. Steve explained: “The brief was straight forward, the main part of the show is the screen showing Elvis, and everything else has been designed with that in mind. We started off with the idea of having a cyclorama rear screen; a curved back wall with a projection screen and wash lighting. During rehearsals, it was decided that an LED screen would work better than projection, so we changed the back around a little. The lighting for this show has ended up being almost two separate rigs, one in the air and one on the floor lighting the orchestra. There are three trusses overhead, once curved one which follows the cyc screen and two standard, straight trusses further upstage. Lighting fixtures include the Clay Paky A.leda K10 LED wash light and the A.leda B-eye K20 high performance LED was and effects light. The key lighting product I used was the PRG Bad Boy, which is such a great fixture, because it’s so bright, I can get away with using less lights than if I had chosen a similar fixture, yet still get the same effect. SGM P5s were also used, as well as a host of Vari*Lite VL3000s and VL3500s.”
The lighting team were lead by crew chief Richard Griffin, with support from Paul Makin and Simon Swift. Richard said: “The load in and out for this show is really straight forward—the two straight trusses are pre-rigged in PRG BAT truss, it takes about five minutes to slot the bits together and get the truss in the air. The three days we had in rehearsal were great and put us on the front foot for the first show. The only challenge we had was to fit the floor lighting in around the orchestra, the initial plan was done without knowing the exact position of the musicians, so we had to do quite a bit of fiddling around to get the lights where we wanted them.”
The video crew were lead by Media Server Technician Clarke Anderson, with Director Dan Ormerod, Engineer Rob Fender, and LED techs Conner Camwell and Richie Jewel. Clarke explained the video element of the production: “The rear screen is ROE Visual Vanish 25 LED screen in full-width orientation, we’re using a ROE MC-7 screen in portrait format which displays Elvis and drops in and out on Kinesys. There’s one Barco HDX14 each side projecting a simple IMAG image. We’ve got three mini-cams on stage, two robo-cams and two manned cameras, one of which is fitted with a long lens and sits out at front of house by the consoles, the other Conner roams around the stage with. Playback is done through Grass Valley HD machines, all the video output is fed from a Barco e2 media server which composes and positions the content. It’s a simple system which works very well.”
Steve explained the concept for lighting the show was to keep it simple, but to have several big looks with subtle changes, very little light strayed from the stage into the audience. Steve used a Hog4 console to operate the lights and did some pre-programming in Longbridge during prep and took a WYSIWYG system on the tour with him. Steve added: “The tour sold really well and the crowd reacted brilliantly. When Elvis came on the screen they went wild, it was as though he was really there. I wasn’t really a fan of Elvis before this tour, but I certainly am now.”
Photography by PRG XL Video/Matt Rakowski.