When a band like Kiss take to the road on a European tour, they demand an aesthetic extravaganza which delivers the ‘wow factor’ on an epic scale. PRG XL Video are delighted to have supported Lighting Designer Sean ‘Motley’ Hackett and the band with a complex video system, made up of LED screens, projection, a HD camera system, media servers, and a crew of engineers and technicians to ensure everything ran smoothly for the 37 days the tour was on the road.
Motley’s an established Lighting Designer who’s worked with Kiss since 2007, as well as other acts including INXS, Andrea Bocelli, Savage Garden and has worked for Bytecraft/PRG Australia as Crew Chief and fill-in LD on many tours. Motley described the process behind designing the lighting and video rig for the current tour: “The main element of any Kiss show is that it has to be big. The brief from the band was that they wanted this tour to be big, with lots of video in the air. The basic layout of the screens evolved from what we did during a nine-night residency in Las Vegas back in November 2014, where we had four fingers of video screens coming out over the stage. During the initial discussions, we thought it would be great to break it up and spread it all over the stage—creating lots of little video walls with lighting trusses in-between them.”
Steven Lemahieu, affectionately known on the crew as Waffle, due to his Belgian heritage, worked as LED Crew Chief on the tour: “The Kiss tour uses a very complex video set-up, with lots of playback surfaces. We have two different types of LED screen, the back wall is made up of ROE MC-7H tiles, with 16 individual MC-18 screens overhead and at the front of the stage, as well as two Barco HDX-W18 projectors either side of the stage using image blending to display the IMAG footage in portrait format. The LED screen signals are driven by the latest ROE HD101 LED processors; with content fed from a Catalyst media server, supplying two LED outputs, one for the back wall and one for the network of smaller screens, as well as the IMAG for the side screens. I ran two signal cables to each screen, a feed and return, enabling us to use the return as a back-up should the main cable become damaged during the show. Loading in the screens was quite a complex process, because the smaller screens are raked over the stage. We used the custom touring frames from PRG XL which allowed us to double-stack the frames on the dollies, that way, we could just wheel them into place and lift the screen up. There were four motors for each small screen, when everything was up an in-place, we trimmed the screens to the correct height. We started the LED load in at around 07:30 each day, and finally had it all ready to go by 14:30, which was seven hours of constant, hard work!”
The Kiss tour featured a lot of fire and pyrotechnic effects, which took its toll on the LED screens over the stage. Waffle explained how everyday he and other LED techs on the tour would spend several hours replacing damaged modules on the screen tiles, where the heat had caused the LEDs to pop off of the surface.
Sandro Bruni performed the role of Video Crew Chief, leading a team of eight video technicians, including a Director, LED Techs, Media Server Programmer and Camera operators. Sandro also took care of the projection technology, as well as supporting other members of his team whenever needed: “Working on a tour like Kiss is always a big challenge, and requires a special kind of person. We had a very gruelling schedule, prepping in the UK, then going to Russia, Scandinavia, Southern Europe, then back to the UK. The whole rig is very complicated and involved us working with and around other departments. Everyone was pushed to their absolute limit, but each member of the crew was brilliant; we’ve worked hard, got on with the job and had a great time doing it!”
Stefaan Michels, Director of Music (Video) handled the PRG XL kit and crew requirements for Kiss: “As always, it was such a pleasure to work with the Kiss production team; the professionalism of Robert Long and Jeff Bugowski and their continuing support and trust in PRG XL is fantastic. The whole team enjoyed working with Motley and playing our part in supporting his vision for such a great show. I’d also like to thank the project management team at PRG XL, particularly Chris Holz and Leroy Murray, who helped make it all happen.”
PRG are supplying a similar video rig as the Kiss tour continues in North America until September.