Howard Harrison’s Lighting Design for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead at The Old Vic Supported by PRG XL Video
Celebrating the 50th anniversary of its premiere at The Old Vic, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead returned to the venue in a new production directed by David Leveaux.
This production, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Joshua McGuire as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, and David Haig as The Player, had a technical team led by The Old Vic’s Production Manager, Dominic Fraser.
For this run of Tom Stoppard’s existentialist tragi-comedy, Olivier Award-winning lighting designer Howard Harrison worked with Set Designer Anna Fleischle’s stark but highly-effective set to light an evocative performance space.
Howard explains: “The set design was partly in place when I joined the production, but I was able to see it early and had some input to create some lighting positions within the structure.
He continues: “The essence is that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are stuck in a sort of holding pattern, not knowing their place in the world. I created a design which worked around the massive flat walls and ceiling panels.”
Using GLP Impression X4 fixtures overhead and a combination of Vari*Lite VL1000 and VL 3500 wash fixtures in between the side walls, Howard created layers of cool white light, which accentuated the feeling of displacement.
Creating a contrast, warmer lighting was used for the performers. Howard explains: “This is a comedy, so we used Reich and Vogel 500w Beamlights as followspots to light the performers as they held their conversations. This made the actors stand out from the scenery and accentuated that they were lost in a cold space.”
Anna Fleischle’s design used both plain and printed drapes in place of traditional set, and these were used to separate the scenes of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and fragments from Hamlet performed upstage and downstage. One drape was used as a sail for the third act scene where Hamlet is on- board the ship sailing for England, and was lit from within.
Howard comments: “I lit the stage as one whole space. The drapes created the separation of the performance space.”
PRG XL Video’s Account Manager John Pauls worked with Howard Harrison to supply the fixtures he needed. Howard commented: “PRG were great. I had particular equipment that I wanted with specific lights, and the team were able to deliver the exact specification and within budget. As The Old Vic is a charity, we wanted to make sure what PRG delivered was cost-effective.”
Howard praised both lighting programmer Dan Haggarty and The Old Vic crew for their support on the production.
John Pauls sums up: “We were delighted to work with Howard to supply the lighting for this anniversary production of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. The set and lighting design complemented each other beautifully to create a unique looking performance space.”
Photos: Manuel Harlan.
Innovative Touring Frame and 4K Broadcast Camera System Elevate Operational Performance, Stage Design and Fan Experience
Production Resource Group LLC, (PRG), the world’s leading provider of entertainment and event technology solutions, announced today that a new product innovation along with the application of an industry-first technology solution – SPACEFRAMETM and a 4K Broadcast Camera System – have been integrated into the design, production and operations for the U2 The Joshua Tree Tour 2017. Both solutions demonstrate PRG’s dedication to innovating products that anticipate the needs of tour managers, designers and artists seeking to push boundaries and deliver a more immersive concert experience onsite or virtually.
“SPACEFRAME and the 4K Broadcast Camera System perfectly demonstrate how PRG excels at seeing an opportunity for innovation that will add operational, economic and creative value from a customer’s perspective, allowing artists to more freely tell their story,” said Steve Greenberg, PRG’s CEO of Global Music/TV/Film.
SPACEFRAME is a revolutionary touring frame design seamlessly integrating LED panels to provide industry-changing operational efficiencies and the opportunity for unlimited creative expression. The carbon fiber touring frame is ultra-lightweight, collapsible and fully wind braced creating an intensive built-in structural strength. This allows for a free-form approach to stage designs enabling artists and designers to think outside the conventional LED box. This latest patent-pending technology from PRG also dramatically reduces pre-tour engineering time, shipping footprint/weight, carbon emissions, load-in and load-out times, as well as labor required on tour and locally.
SPACEFRAME features and advantages:
- Carbon fiber fabrication and built-in wind bracing reduces overall weight increasing safety and savings
- 10 times stronger when compared to conventional fabrication
- 15 percent overall weight reduction
- 35 percent weight reduction including wind bracing
- Integrated wind bracing up to 72 kph
- Profile reduction and integrated wind bracing results in up-to 50 percent savings in shipping cost in some cases and a massive reduction in the tour’s carbon footprint
- Specifically for this U2 tour, truck loads are reduced from seven to three - or one less airplane - when compared to conventional LED frame load
- Compact, lightweight design offers up-to 30 percent reduction of installation/dismantle time and a 25 percent reduction in overall labor cost
“The quality and resolution of LED products have vastly improved over the last decade, but the frames have basically stayed the same. At PRG Projects, we saw an opportunity to innovate the way in which LED walls were assembled and transported, to rethink the construction of the frame and how it might impact the operational side of the business as well as the design experience,” stated Frederic Opsomer, PRG Projects' Managing Director and innovation leader.
Leveraging in-house talent and partnerships already in place, PRG was able to produce the carbon frames from prototype to final product in just 17 weeks, enabling U2 to be the first to take advantage of the innovation. SPACEFRAME has allowed U2’s designer to create a 200 foot wide screen¬, custom painted in silver and gold to mimic the original artwork of their 1987 album.
4K Broadcast Camera System
The U2 tour also marks the introduction of PRG’s 4K (UHD) Broadcast Camera System as a first for concert touring. The PRG broadcast system, developed and integrated over three months, is a combination of products that can operate in 4K (UHD) and 3G SMPTE Standards. This design philosophy allows concurrent production to operate at the highest level of broadcast standards. The system delivers 60 frames per second (fps) with a UHD resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. The concert touring system interconnects cameras and LED wall processors on fiber because of the enormous amounts of data and length of signal distances. The entire broadcast touring system can be set up within an hour and is designed to be operated by one video engineer, eliminating the need for four-to-five onsite engineering positions.
“PRG has been a part of every U2 tour since 1992 and the band always challenges us with pushing technology to its limits,” said Wolfgang Schram, PRG’s director of video engineering. “We have to be creative and that is the fun part.”
Based on the book by James Hindman and with original music by Patrick Brady, Pete ‘n’ Keely is the story of a famous musical couple, now estranged, who are persuaded into doing a TV reunion.
The current production of Pete ‘n’ Keely at London’s Tristan Bates Theatre, produced by Wallflower Theatrical, and directed by Matthew Gould, includes a colourful glitzy set. Designed by Emily Bestow, it’s reminiscent of classic 60s American TV variety shows, featuring bright colours and a kitsch style.
Tasked with designing the lighting for the show, BRIT School alumni Mitchell Reeve explains how he became involved.
“Matthew Gould and I have worked on a few productions together now. I first met him a year ago when I was asked to light ‘I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking It On The Road’. As a lighting designer, it is vital to have a good relationship with the director, and to be able to know what they want without even asking. I hope to keep working with him on many more productions.”
In lighting the play, Mitchell also had to reflect the look of television lighting, even including lit signs for ‘ON AIR’ and an ‘APPLAUSE’ sign which illuminates periodically during the show and transforming the theatre audience into the fictional TV audience. Initially Mitchell approached the design by listening to the music and referring to the script.
He comments: “Pete ‘n’ Keely is meant to be a spectacle. The lighting has to be bold and full of colour. Once I got a sense of the feel of the show, I created a cue synopsis. I went through the script line by line and decided where the lighting should change based on how I wanted the audience to react at each part of the story.
“The challenging thing with lighting Pete ‘n’ Keely was that I had to dedicate a lot of time to lighting the musical numbers. That meant I ran short on time for how I would light the general “off-air” scenes. Luckily as the stage at the Tristan Bates Theatre is quite small, I was able to pull that together during the fit-up.”
To create the bold, colourful look he required, Mitchell contacted PRG’s Account Director Jon Cadbury to source the fixtures he needed. Mitchell explains: “I needed a fixture which could create bold saturated colour washes, but would also be able to isolate certain parts of the show. I decided to use four GLP Impression X4 fixtures and these enabled me to wash the stage in colour, but also gave me the opportunity to zoom in on the more delicate scenes.
Whilst the size of the studio-style venue didn’t present any challenges, Mitchell did need more dimmers than the Tristan Bates was able to provide: “Pete ‘n’ Keely is all about the troubles in their relationship and I wanted to show this by never having them share the same light source. This meant I needed to put a lot more fixtures into the design. In order to do this I needed more dimmers than the Tristan Bates had, so I requested four alpha packs from PRG. They’re a wonderful small size, allowing me to hide them in the set, which also saved on cable runs.”
Mitchell was happy to be able to rely on PRG’s expertise in theatre lighting rental, commenting: “They’re incredible. They’ve really helped me, not only on this show, but many others. They’re always there if you need advice, and if there are any issues they’re always sorted promptly.”
The hilarious tale of Pete ‘n’ Keely’s television reunion runs at the Tristan Bates Theatre from 2-20 May 2017.
Photos: The Other Richard
Continuing a long running relationship with technical producers Reality Ltd, PRG XL Video has supplied video technology for the 2017 VO5 NME Awards.
The show which took place at London’s O2 Academy Brixton featured live performances from some of the winners. PRG XL supplied an upstage mixed resolution video screen formed from a combination of ROE Visual 7mm and 18mm LED. The central 7mm section of the screen was used for award announcements and introductory films, and with an 18mm resolution screen around this to create a full backdrop for the live performances.
With mixed resolution in the screen, the content, created by the team from First Image and using a particular edgy style which tied in with the title sponsor’s branding, needed to be edited to appear clearly across both screen areas. The content was managed using PRG XL’s Barco e2 screen management system. First Image’s Jamie Thodesen was present on-site to make any final adjustments to content supplied from the artists performing at the show.
To one side of the main stage, the presenters’ area featured a podium for the awards announcement which was flanked by Absen 3.9mm LED columns and also an Absen 3.9mm rear screen. The hi-resolution screen was used for high resolution on close-up camera shots of the presenters and winners.
Additionally, 6 plasma screens were mounted around the O2 Academy Brixton to ensure the awards attendees had a clear view of proceedings wherever they sat.
PRG XL Video’s Paul Wood comments: “We’re happy to work with Reality to once again supply video technology to the NME Awards. The show always has a unique look and their use of a mixed resolution LED screen enabled them to create a variety of different set-ups. It was a pleasure to work with Reality and First Image to bring the video elements together.”
Photos: ©Reality Ltd
PRG are excited to be an official service supplier for the 62nd Eurovision Song Contest, being held in Kiev’s International Exhibition Centre from May 9th-13th, as Ukraine hosts Eurovision for the second time. PRG are working in partnership with Litecom to support Lighting Designer Jerry Appelt and Stage Designer Florian Wieder by supplying lighting, video and rigging technology for the show.
Kiev is Jerry’s third time working on Eurovision, having also designed the shows for Dusseldorf in 2011 and Baku in 2012, as well as numerous other high-profile productions, such as the Commonwealth Games ceremonies for Delhi in 2010. Jerry said: “I’m very happy to work with PRG on this project, because aside from the enormous quantity of lighting fixtures and complex parameters, it’s essential to work with a company who has the resources to deal with all kinds of unexpected eventualities, who can deliver on the biggest occasions, in the most challenging environments. There are few companies who can provide this level of service, anywhere in the world. I know that whichever challenge I set PRG, they will deliver.”
Production management guru, Ola Melzig, has taken the reigns as Head of Production for the Kiev show, his 13th Eurovision. Ola said: “I’m returning to Kiev for my 4th Eurovision event in the city since 2005, and I am blissfully happy to be back. It’s a city I love, with great people, a lot of parks and green areas, a huge river running through the city centre and tons of yummy restaurants!” Ola gave an overview of the technology behind the show: “Eurovision is always a production of monumental proportions, we started the load in on March 27th, since then, we’ve emptied 200 trucks into the halls. It took four and a half weeks to do all the rigging, hang the lights and audio and then build the stage. After that, we went into rehearsals, which will get more and more intense as we approach the broadcast shows. This venue’s fantastic, there are few spaces around the world which can accommodate 212 tons in the roof, and only be at 70% capacity. Full credit to our Head Rigger, John Van Look, and his team of riggers from PRG for overseeing a complex rigging design, and a smooth load in and fit-up.”
John spoke briefly about the practicalities of the rigging design for the show: “The Eurovision rig uses 735 rigging points, spread over the stage, green room and audience areas. This is a complex design and a very heavy rig, one of the heaviest I’ve ever worked on. We have more than 20 points over four tons, including one centre point which is 12 tons—because the roof cannot support such a heavy single point, we split it into two separate six ton points. Because we were dealing with incredibly high loads we were unable to use conventions steels, and bought in products normally used for shipping and heavy duty cranes. To maximise the load bearing capacity of our trusses, we used Prolyte D75T in places, this is capable of carrying exceptionally heavy loads and normally used for towers, rather than as a straight truss; also being only 75cm high, meant we didn’t lose as much trim height as we could have done using bigger truss. The roof is quite low here, so we need as much height as possible. The mother grid is made up of X4K 100, again due to it’s high load carrying capacity. This grid is monitored by over 100 Load Cells, so we can keep an eye on how the weight is being distributed; something which is very important, considering we have a lot of movement in the rig, utilising 112 Cyber Hoists to make that happen. The rigging load in took two weeks, with a team of 52 riggers working day and night shifts.”
Jerry leads a comprehensive team in the front of house area, which spans the full width of the back of the arena, including individual operators for the main show lighting, audience lighting, key lights, spot calls and video content. The lighting and video control network is one of the largest ever uses of GrandMA consoles, with five active full size GrandMA2, three GrandMA Light, and a selection of additional faders and playback wings. The whole network has reached the maximum number of active participants in a single session, 31, and are controlling 89,000 channels of DMX over 9865 programmed fixtures. This is driven through 20 GrandMA Network Processing Units (NPUs) and 28 nodes. There is, of course, substantial back-up, should anything not perform as it should. The total number of lighting fixtures is an incredible 1816. Amongst others, these include: 68 PRG Best Boy HP2, 56 PRG Best Boy Wash Blade, 55 PRG Bad Boy Wash, 130 Icon Edge, and the new JDC1 LED strobe from GLP.
Haze is provided by 6 MDG ATMe DMX hazers, positioned around the stage.
Followspotting for the Eurovision Song Contest 2017 is done exclusively with PRG GroundControl. The production in Kiev uses 14 PRG Bad Boy GroundControl Followspot systems and four of the new long throw version. Jerry commented: “GroundControl is a revolutionary product. It means we have all our operators on the floor, in two areas—with overall control taken by my spot caller on the GrandMA2. For this project it is perfect, because it saves time, space and weight.”
Ola Melzig added: “I first saw the GroundControl at LDI back in 2015, and I thought it was both really cool and incredibly practical. To have 18 of them on this show is amazing—and I’m very proud of it being the biggest deployment of GroundControls ever on a single show.”
In addition to the lighting technology supplied by PRG, we are also providing a comprehensive package of LED screens and projectors. The back screen is made up of ROE MC-12 and MC-18, with sections of MC-7 used at various other points around the rig. There are 56 high output projectors in use, which are used to map onto the stage surround, directly down onto the surface of the stage, onto two high transparency projection screens at the front of the stage, as well as various ‘standard’ screens in and around the arena.
On May 13th, the world will tune in and watch the Eurovision final, with an expected audience of over 200 million cheering on acts from the 26 countries who make it through to the final. After the winner has been announced and the party starts, the team of over 400, including around 100 technicians from PRG, will commence the load out. What took over a month to build will be pulled out of the venue in seven days, and planning for Eurovision 2018 will commence.
First impressions from Eurovision 2017
An insight into rigging at Eurovision Song Contest 2017
Tour of the Eurovision arena
Since 2013, an array of country music’s biggest stars have been visiting the UK and Ireland as part of C2C: Country to Country, a festival of country music devised by AEG (The O2) and SJM Concerts in collaboration with the Country Music Association.
The show began at The O2 in London, and has since added shows in Glasgow and Dublin, as well as visiting Scandinavia in 2015 and 2016.
Show and lighting designer, Mike Oates and his partner Ryan Hopkins have worked with the festival since it began. For the 2017 festival at The O2 they created a sophisticated design featuring shaped video screens, curved trusses, and a bright versatile lighting package.
Mike comments: “The design comes together after a series of meetings with Ross Hanley from SJM Concerts. Ross has ideas of what they would like to include in the design and look of the event, and we then go away and develop those ideas into several options.
“It’s great working with a client who wants to be actively involved in the design of look of the show. SJM want to offer the customers a fresh look every time. It’s so easy to do four straight trusses and a slab of LED upstage, but I think offering a unique look to a festival makes it more exciting for not just the audience but the incoming lighting designers and video directors.”
To form the basis of the design, PRG XL Video supplied both the house rigging at The O2 as well as the production rigging. Additionally the company provided rigging in the main entrance foyer of the venue for two huge 15-metre drop banners. This was overseen by Account Manager, Ade Stead, with Jay Call as the Crew Chief for the production rigging onsite. The rigging design incorporated a series of curves with the flown rig using hinged sections to build the curves.
PRG XL Video’s Senior Account Manager, Paul McCauley worked with Mike Oates to supply the video set-up for the show. On stage a vertically flown 8m diameter circular truss masked the centre section of the upstage LED screen, and circular and straight trussing sections were combined to create flag shapes on either side of the centre circle, creating a distinctive look for the show which mimicked the C2C logo. Mike explained: “We had been playing around with different looks involving the logo for some time. We’re really pleased with the result."
Behind the shaped truss a 20 metre wide x 7 metre high LED screen, masked to fit the shaped truss, displayed a combination of the performers own content, and IMAG. To provide the IMAG footage, PRG XL supplied a Grass Valley Karrera-based PPU, and eight camera package. Two Sony HXC-100s were positioned at front of house, two were on dollies for the pit and B-stage. Two robo-cams and two HDiye minicams onstage completed the package and provided close-ups of the performers.
The masked screen set up was produced using a Barco e2 system paired with Barco’s EC200 controller, programmed by PRG XL’s in-house media server technician Erica Frost. As part of the service to each of the visiting performers who brought their own content, Erica was able to format their content on site to fit the specially shaped screen.
PRG XL’s Account Manager, Gordon Torrington worked with Mike Oates design to fulfill the lighting specification. A variety of lighting fixtures were flown from the main rig as well as arranged around the shaped screen. Mike Oates chose to use the new Icon EDGE around the flag sections of the screen. He comments: “I was really impressed with the Icon BEAM last year, so I was more than happy to use the new Icon EDGE this year, which I must say is a brilliant light.”
Martin Atomic strobes and GLP impression X4S fixtures were flown around the circle at the centre of the screen, and the main overhead rig featured PRG Best Boy HP Spots, VL 3500 washes, and blinders to light up the audience. Luke Jackson was lighting crew chief for the festival, supported by Will Gallegos, and Matt Morris. There was a total of seven crew working over the weekend. Jon Trincas used a GrandMA2 fullsize to operate the show.
The PRG team set up a WYSIWYG suite on site which allowed LDs to prepare and customise their designs as they arrived. Mike explains: “We have four mainstage artists per day. All of which would arrive at the O2 10.00 hrs overnight from C2C Glasgow. With the WYSIWYG we could offer LDs sufficient preparation time both in reality and virtual world.”
A secondary B stage was added to the design, and Mike explains the benefits of using two stages for the festival: “The B stage is to bring the action more to the D end of the arena. Being sat in the gods at The O2 you are so far away, so the B stage brings those audience members much closer to the action. It also allows us to run acts back to back whilst giving the A stage team time to turn around artists.”
To give the audience around the huge arena a close-up view of the artists, IMAG projection screens were used; one screen either side of the main stage, and a further screen above the B stage.
Mike Oates sums up: “A key part of realising our design was the synergy with which the PRG XL Video lighting, rigging and video teams worked. They really pulled together to make it all happen.”
Gordon Torrington comments: “It was great working with Mike and Ryan, and with Ross Hanley of SJM Concerts. The C2C show at The O2 grows every year, and is hugely popular. The design for this year’s show was the best yet, and the capacity audiences had a real visual treat to accompany the music from some of Country’s biggest artists.”
Photos: William Gallegos
PRG XL Have a Wild Party at The Other Palace, with Lighting Designer Richard Howell and Production Manager Stuart Tucker
PRG XL Video recently supported Lighting Designer Richard Howell and Production Manager Stuart Tucker, for the opening show at the newly renamed and renovated London theatre, The Other Palace. PRG XL Video Account Manager John Pauls worked closely with Richard, Stuart and Production Electrician Neil Foster to supply the lighting for The Wild Party during a seven week run in central London, between February and April.
The Wild Party is a musical theatre production adapted from a book by Michael John LaChiusa and George C Wolfe, with music and lyrics by LaChiusa, based on Joseph Moncure March’s 1928 narrative poem of the same name. The show premiered off-Broadway in 2000, before this 2017 revival at London’s newest producing theatre. The Wild Party is a frenzied celebration of twenties indulgence and debauchery, interwoven with a honey-like jazz score with an infectious ability to get under your skin, even without any memorable, individual numbers. The storyline revolves around the central character, Queenie, an ageless cabaret showgirl, and her toxic marriage to vaudeville clown, Burrs. In an attempt to revitalise their tired marriage, Burrs throws Queenie a wild party—an all-night encounter fuelled by intoxicating substances, which strains the relationships and sanity of guests and hosts alike. Henry Hitchings of the Evening Standard summed up The Wild Party as: “Gin, sin, skin and fun.”
Richard Howell discussed the initial brief of how to light the show, and how the creative team worked together to stage The Wild Party: “It was great to be teamed up with Director/Choreographer Drew McOnie and Designer Soutra Gilmour, who I had worked with on a number of previous projects, including Jekyll and Hyde at the Old Vic. The theming of the design is well defined—being very warm and subtle for the majority of the time, with the flexibility to be harsh, exposed and even briefly unbearable when the occasion calls for it. The lighting moods follow the narrative arc of the action on stage; during the happy and seductive moments, the lighting is a very warm, tungsten look, then as the relationships between the characters begin to fall apart, it becomes brighter and more intrusive as the tensions reach boiling point.”
Richard discussed his use of tungsten fixtures—and the passion he and Soutra shared to achieve the tungsten, filament lamp look, which reflected both the theme and period of The Wild Party: “I used Martin Mac TW1s a lot, as a tungsten moving light fixture they suited the brief perfectly and are a very versatile light for theatre. The rich, warm colour of the TW1 is second to none and irreplaceable for this particular project. We also had several Martin Mac Vipers, which I used for adding colour when needed, but also filtered to mimic the filament look. One light I was very keen to include in the rig was the ETC Source Four Lustr2s—it’s a phenomenal piece of kit, and the only LED fixture that would have worked as part of our design, due to the ability to colour match it with its traditional, tungsten cousin.”
Richard continued: “Underneath the eight-piece band was a canopied space, through which the actors entered and exited the stage at certain points; we covered the back wall of this space with three rows of five ETC Source Four Pars, which sat at a very low intensity for most of the show, casting a seductive glow across the stage—but were cranked up rapidly when the need to make the lighting bright and intrusive was called upon. Being aimed directly at the audience, the effect of doing this was brutal, and in complete contrast to the subtleties of the rest of the show. We did initially discuss having the entire wall made up of smaller filament lamps, but that would have been less practical to achieve and too indulgent for the budget we were working with.” What’s on Stage’s Holly Williams described The Wild Party as being: “…beautifully lit by Richard Howell, combining stagey limelight with woozy party atmospherics.”
In addition to the headline lighting products, Richard also made use of festoon lighting arranged on a circular piece of set around the entrance/exit, numerous pendent lights which hung down at random points, and Birdies as footlights around the edge of the stage. Production Electrician Neil Foster commented: “The Wild Party was in essence a perfectly normal small theatre fit-up, both Richard and PRG XL Video worked with the limited space and resources available to develop a rig suitable for a complicated musical with lots of different looks, scene changes and many cast members on stage at any one point in time. The substantial prep facilities at PRG XL Longbridge were great, helping us to get everything ready before we arrived at the venue, meaning we could maximise the time we had there before going into previews.”
Richard worked with Lighting Programmer Vicky Brennan, they used an ETC Gio @ 5 to plot and program the show, before transferring the show file onto the theatre’s own ETC Ion lighting control console for the main run. PRG XL Video Account Manager John Pauls commented: “Working with The Wild Party team was a really pleasant experience, they all knew exactly what they wanted to achieve, but had a realistic approach to making it work with the products and budget available. Richard’s lighting design was absolutely perfect for the show, Neil’s vast experience of working on major theatre productions ensured the prep and fit-up went without a hitch, and Stuart is an excellent Production Manager—working with the team around him to help produce a technically brilliant show.”
Photography by Scott Rylander
Production Resource Group, L.L.C., (PRG) organized its annual summit for the members of its global partner network program – PRG Alliance – during the Prolight + Sound 2017 trade fair at Messe Frankfurt.
Currently in its third year, the PRG Alliance has 15 members in 28 countries delivering high quality technical production services worldwide.
The theme for this meeting was “Building on Success”, and celebrated numerous collaboration projects among the members, including some from Italy, Poland, and Portugal. During the summit they shared success case studies and discussed future initiatives to promote greater business and information exchange.
“The PRG Alliance is praised by our clients and the market in general. What started with a recognition of PRG partners three years ago, today is a substantial network of remarkable companies – and the largest resource pool of knowledge, qualified professionals and inventory in the world,” said Tom Van Hemelryck, Director of PRG Alliance and PRG’s CEO Central Europe.
“We invited the lighting and video designers from The Voice Portugal, Marco Silva and Ricardo Maia, who shared their experience of using PRG’s proprietary products, Bad Boy moving lights and MBox media server, for the TV show,” continues Van Hemelryck.
The summit provided the ideal occasion to welcome the newest addition to the group, Gil Teichman - the largest audiovisual provider in Israel. The company has been active for over two decades, leading the field of concept creation, designing and executing audiovisual systems, power and electrical work for the industry of entertainment and live events.
During the event, a variety of activities for PRG Alliance were presented and these included training in project management; PRG’s Global Sales Officer Jens Zimmerman hosted a session on global account initiatives; opportunities for participation in international exhibitions were discussion; and the latest PRG proprietary equipment purchase options were delivered. The event ended with a demo of the new PRG exclusive Icon EDGE lighting fixture, and a lively networking dinner which gave the members further opportunity for networking and to discuss collaboration.
The current PRG Alliance members are:
Brazil: Alliance BR
Greece: Sound and Visual
Hungary and Romania: Visual Europe Group
India: DynaMix Media
Israel: Gil Teichman
Italy: STS Communication & New Light Group
Morocco: Touareg Prod’
Portugal: FX RoadLights
Qatar: Esme Entertainment Services
Singapore and Malaysia: The Show Company
South Korea: Ally&Co and Total Korea
Worldwide: DB Schenker and Production Resource Group
Each year, the very best productions and performers in UK theatre are honoured at the Olivier Awards with Mastercard. For the past few years the event has been held at the Royal Opera House in central London, but for 2017 has moved to the prestigious Royal Albert Hall in Kensington.
The awards celebrate not only acting performances, but also key personnel who create theatre productions including directors, creatives, and designers. In 2017 the ceremony is being broadcast live on Sunday 9th April from 5.30pm on Magic Radio, and shown on television two days later at 8pm on ITV1.
With the move to the Royal Albert Hall, the larger venue required rear followspots with sufficient light and brightness for the television broadcast. Additionally, the unique layout of the Royal Albert Hall and Peter Bingham’s stage design would necessitate the use of followspot operators flown in chairs above the stage and performers – both issues which are counteracted by using PRG’s GroundControl™ Followspot System.
The system splits the followspot into three parts; the lighting fixture, which incorporates a camera with night vision mode and is flown from a lighting truss or mounted around the venue; the controller unit that, along with the operator, can be located anywhere in the venue within 610 metres of the fixture; and the truss box which forms the conduit between the fixture and the controller.
Olivier Awards Gaffer, Cy Dodimead has used PRG’s GroundControl™ Followspot System on a variety of events, including music festivals; The Voice television show; and the recent Teenage Cancer Trust live shows at the Royal Albert Hall, and so understood the benefits the system could provide on a show like the Olivier Awards.
He comments: “For me it was the perfect solution to the problems associcated with truss spots, like breaks and safe access. We have a long rehearsal and tech period in which organising breaks and time to safely get the operators down from the truss chairs would have impacted on both the staff and the show. After conversations with production and the producers, they were sold on the idea of having the operators in a location with easy access and it solved the problem of ugly looking spot chairs in the rig.”
For Olivier Awards lighting designer, Ben Cracknell, this is the first time he’s used the fixtures, and he’s keen to put them through their paces: “From what I had heard about the GroundControl Followspots it seemed the perfect solution for rear spots. Visually the truss wasn’t interrupted by large spot chairs, and the added bonus was that I can use them as ordinary moving lights just by changing the control channel on the desk. The added TV-friendly colours in them meant I didn’t have to ask operators to change frames all the time, and could leave them to concentrate by just giving them iris, dimmer, and, of course, movement control.”
The journal of the Guild of Television Cameramen, Zerb, recently published an in-depth article about the use of GroundControl on TV and theatre shows. To learn more about GroundControl and read the full article, click here.
Iconic rock band The Cure recently completed a 76 date world tour; with lighting, video and rigging supplied by PRG XL Video. The lighting and video design was by Angus ‘Mac’ MacPhail, with creative input from lead singer and founding member of The Cure: Robert Smith.
Mac explained the creative process behind bringing the production to life, and how they dazzled the expectations of die-hard Cure fans: “It’s important to note that Robert Smith was very hands-on with the design for the show—he’s been as much a member of our creative team as he has a band member. When Robert and I first discussed the design, we wanted a very simple look, where the set is the lighting rig, and it’s a very clean, uncluttered stage. We started off with the idea for a curved screen at the back of the stage, added a curved riser and pulled the ends of the truss back to extenuate the curved look. The different lighting looks we used was kept simple, but precise and well-executed—for happy songs we used bright colourful lighting, and for moody songs, we adjusted the lighting accordingly.”
PRG XL’s Event Services Coordinator, Ben Hornshaw performed the role of Lighting Programmer, and worked closely with Mac and Robert on all the live shows and in the pre-production stage: “We’re confident the fans really enjoyed the show—there was an awful lot of lighting and video technology on stage. The band played a fan-based show which lasted for just under three hours—made up not only of hits, but also album tracks and lesser known B Sides.”
Ben explained the technology which made up the lighting rig: “There were four overhead trusses which contained a selection of PRG Best Boy spots and washes, GLP X4 Bar 20 LED battens, Solaris Flare LED strobes and Molefays. All the truss used on the tour was PRG BAT truss, which made the load-in a lot easier for Crew Chief Mark England and his team of talented lighting technicians. The overhead trusses had a ten-degree kink at each end, turning them back towards the stage to facilitate Mac’s curved design. Upstage there were five video columns, separated by six suspended vertical trusses, which we referred to as torms. Each torm was loaded with 2 Clay Paky Mythos, 4 Ayrton Magic Blades, 1 GLP X4L moving light, 1 Martin Atomic strobe and a PRG Best Boy spot. The purpose of the torms was to break up the video wall and fill in the space between the five sections, giving the illusion of a wider stage and more panoramic vista.”
As Ben reeled off the array of lighting products on show, it was clear that The Cure tour was a spectacularly creative production, with a menagerie of different looks and lots of punch. Ben continued: “Sitting up stage, directly in front of each video screen, there were five more truss towers which contained a Martin Atomic strobe, an 8 light Molefay and a PRG Best Boy spot on top. Along the back of the stage were 10 Clay Paky Sharpy beams. Down either side of the stage were dollies containing a number of Clay Paky Mythos and GLP X4 moving lights. There were also GLP X4S lights under risers and on the drum kit.” Ben travelled with the tour, and this, combined with working on previous Cure shows made him indispensable to aiding Mac develop the design.
Mac discussed how he has worked with The Cure for separate periods—the first beginning back in 1978, and then from 2011 until now. PRG XL Video Account Director Jon Cadbury coordinated the supply of lighting for the tour, Mac emphasised Jon’s relationship with the band: “One of the main reasons PRG XL supply The Cure is down to Jon, he worked with them in the days of Samuelson’s, before they became PRG, and the tour has stayed with Jon ever since.” Jon Cadbury added: “We’ve supported The Cure since 1985, when I was introduced to Mac and the band by their then tour manager, during a tour of Europe and America, promoting ‘the Head on the Door’ album. To have such loyalty from one act over a thirty year period is both humbling and gratifying in equal measures.”
One interesting element of the show is the use of timecode to control the lighting, Ben explained: “The whole show was run from timecode, so theoretically, there was not a lot for me to do during the show; but it’s never quite as simple as that. We took the twenty-four hours of timecode and broke it into ten minute segments, so each song had its place within those twenty-four hours. When the playback tech selected the click track for each song, that triggered our timecode and the pre-programmed lighting for that particular song started. We programmed roughly 110 songs into the console, which covered all variations of the sets they played. It didn’t matter which order the band played their set in, because each song had its own piece of timecode, the console always knew what to do.”
Ben shared an anecdote from the tour. One day the band were sound-checking, Ben wandered away from the console to get a coffee. Just as he stepped from the arena into the catering area, he heard them start a song he hadn’t heard for months. Panicked, he rushed back into the arena, but saw that the console had everything under control and was replaying the correctly programmed lighting for that song. Ben discussed the different roles he and Mac have during the show: “Mac controlled smoke and key light, and decided when to finish the lighting for each song. Although everything was programmed, it always looks smoother for the lights to be faded down manually. After Mac had faded a song out, I reset everything ready for the next one. Mac would occasionally pull up lighting used between songs if Robert is talking a lot. On the rare occasions anything went wrong, I took over and operated the lights manually. Running on timecode is brilliant, because it allowed us to watch the show in greater detail, resulting in us spotting errors earlier, as well as recognising areas for improvement. It meant that there was a lot more work to do outside of show hours, but that was a small price to pay for such a polished looking show.” Mac and Ben used two full-size GrandMA2 consoles to control the lighting from front of house.
Jon discussed how he and Mac visited the PLASA show in 2015 as part of the selection process when choosing which products Mac wanted to use to achieve his design: “Mac had done a lot of research on the fixtures he wanted to use to light The Cure, and the opportunity of being able to have all the major manufacturers in one room, so Mac could discuss the individual merits of each product was too good to pass over.” Jon paid tribute to Production Manager Phil Broad: “I’ve known Phil for many years and he’s incredibly well organised—he had a detailed plan of action for every venue, which meant their were no unwanted surprises when we loaded in. A lot of credit must also be given to the booking agent, Martin Hopewell, who organised a very sensible itinerary—which no doubt contributed to the tour being so successful.”
Dan Large performed the multifunctional role of video Crew Chief, Content Assembler and Director/Operator for the show: “The use of video on this show was very interesting, there were five sections of Roe MC7mm LED screen in touring frames, hung in portrait format as the main screen, as well as two IMAG screens either side of the stage. Overhead, were four Panasonic 21K projectors which were used to project texture onto the stage. Because the main screen is split into five sections, it’s use is varied throughout the show, from showing each of the five band members captured by one of the live-feed cameras around the stage, or pre-assembled content. One effect, which Mac created, is the infinity wall, where we had a camera pointing at the stage from front of house which is fed back through the screen, which gave the same feedback effect as two mirrors facing each other—where the reflected subject disappears into infinity. We had no manned cameras; however, two locked-off Sony cameras were stationed behind the control console at front of house, along with 10 PRG XL Gnats to create a number of different effects, close ups of Band members and wider audience shots. The PRG XL Gnats are brilliant because you can mount them anywhere—on a mic stand, drum kit or piece of truss, they have amazing image stability and iris control.”
PRG XL Video Account Director Stefaan Michels oversaw the supply of video technology for the tour, Stef said: “The Gnats are a very versatile camera, because they can be mounted anywhere and still give a beautifully crisp 1080p HD image. We customised them even further for The Cure tour, adding remote control of the iris and contrast functionality; something which we would normally set directly on the camera, but we need the ability to change those settings during the show on this production.”
Dan discussed how the video content for the show was an equal split between live action, and predetermined content: “Much of the video content we used for the show was legacy footage from previous tours. Robert had a very close involvement with me assembling all the footage for the show, his attention to detail is amazing, and I have notes from him suggesting changes to video content, which literally use frame references as waypoints. From the outset, it was clear that Robert would accept nothing short of perfection, some of the transitions between content were edited hundreds of times; until Robert and Mac were both totally happy with it.” Dan used two Catalyst media servers for content playback—one for LED and one for projection; all of which was routed through a Barco e2 media server, controlling everything in real time. Dan’s GrandMA2 was used in session with the two lighting control consoles, sharing the same timecode and show file used by Ben and Mac.
Stef added: “This was my first time working with The Cure, having been introduced to them by Jon. I was really impressed by the work ethic and attention to detail from everybody involved with the tour. Robert has a very precise idea of what he wants to see, and although there was very little room for changing the design, it was refreshing to work with such dedicated direction. Jon and I travelled out to New Orleans to watch the first show, and were blown away by everything the creative team had done.”
The tour stopped off in North America, Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia, and Europe, to sold out crowds. Audiences were thrilled by an immaculate concert by one of Britain’s most iconic bands ever. Their use of technology was creative but not excessive—mixing intensity with beautiful style in an enviable way. We’d like to sincerely thank Robert and Production Manager Phil Broad for inviting us to be part of this wonderful production, and look forward to continuing our relationship with The Cure on future shows.
Photography by Steve Jennings and PRG XL Video/Matt Rakowski
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