XL Video returned to the gleaming modernity of the MiCo Milano Congressi conference centre in downtown Milan to provide various video solutions including projection and control, cameras / multiple PPU and crew, together with general AV support for the Cisco Live! 2015 event, working for global experience marketing agency, George P. Johnson.
Cisco Live! is the industry's premier education and training event for IT, networking and communications professionals, and XL Video’s team was project managed by Nick Askew and Chris Ellis. Their brief included the provision of a diverse selection of AV set-ups to 42 breakout areas, some for up to 300 people.
An impressive main room hosted the plenary sessions and accommodated 3,500 delegates. A primary presentation stage was built in the centre of the room and connected via a runway to a satellite ‘demo’ stage that was used for product demonstrations and further presentations. The two stages and catwalk allowed speakers to get right in amongst the audience.
Eight large custom projection screens – all 10 metres wide and in 16:9 format - were installed in each corner and along each side of the room, their positions calculated to allow all 3,500 people attending the sessions an optimum view. Positioning these screens in relation to the seating layout was one of the biggest challenges when planning the event.
Numbered 1 – 8, the even numbered screens showed one set of content while the odd numbered ones showed different footage – all related to the presentation and onstage action.
The screens were each fed by a doubled-up pair of Barco 26K projectors for maximum intensity, and rigged on corresponding trusses above the central stage, focussed on their specific screen ‘target’.
A Millumen media server was used for storing and replaying the playback video content and the presentation opening and closing VTs. It was chosen for the layer flexibility needed to run the show and the intuitive re-colouring which was applied live to some of the content to correspond with specific elements of the presentation … including lasers.
The server outputs were fed to a Barco Encore system operated by Jonathan Bond who co-ordinated the screen management. Also feeding into this – via several fibre lines between the stages - were multiple laptops running Keynote and PowerPoint along with various devices and demo sources.
Two of XL’s Sony HXC-100 broadcast cameras, both fitted with 86x lenses, were positioned at the FOH area and at one end of the room with two more RF controlled HXC-100s mounted on pedestals around the central stage.
In addition to these, feeds from four Bradley CamBall 2s – two on stands in the audience, and two overhead on trusses – were routed into two PPUs, a Panasonic HS400 and an HS 450.
The HS450 was mixed by Jerry Rosenfield and fed into the Barco Encore for outputting to screen. The Panasonic HS400 mix was cut by Jonathan Chard working for Cisco TV, and fed to Cisco’s web TV streams.
XL also supplied six Samsung LCD comfort monitor screens around the room.Nick Askew worked closely with George P. Johnson’s Production Manager John Carss and Executive Producer, Ben Hawkins to deliver the Keynotes.
Working onsite in around over 40 areas simultaneously was a challenge, together with fitting all the kit in the main plenary room. Rigging the projectors in the precise positions needed to line them up with the screens took time, patience and entailed working around lots of other departments all needing to get their equipment in place.
All Credit to John Carss for his careful room design and detailed drawings!
The logistics of kitting out 42 x breakout areas also required detailed advanced planning.
XL built bespoke ‘switch boxes’ for each of the breakout areas which gave the presenters an intuitive and user-friendly ‘button box’ interface so they could quickly and seamlessly hook their laptops and other devices into the installed AV systems. These systems are dubbed ‘RCPXL-10’.
Managed for XL by Chris Ellis, the impressive list of equipment supplied for the breakout areas included 37 x projectors, 18 x 80 and 90 inch screens, 91 x Lightware HDbase-T DVI transmission systems, 12 x Lightware DVI matrixes, 110 x 23 inch Monitors, 55 x Image Pro II/PDS switchers and 55 x XL Video RCPXL switcher controllers.
Working with GPJ Production Managers Dave Johnstone and Henry Davey and their team of Technical Room Managers, Chris ensured that all the equipment was in the right room at the right time. The logistics to make this a streamlined process included customised flightcase labels and multiple truck drops at different parts of the venue. Chris was ably assisted onsite by David Roberts and Greg Scobles, with each PM taking charge of an area of the venue.
XL supplied 152 panels of Unilumin 3.9mm LED to form a 38m x 1m LED strip on to which images and event information were displayed using a Coolux Pandora’s Box media server system. Graham Vinal and Gareth Manicom were responsible for the screen installation and operation which required diligent adjustments to ensure the differently angled parts of the wall met as closely as possible. Nick Diacre operated the Pandora’s Box, working with the GPJ team to create content and recommend the best use of Cisco’s media assets.
“It was great to be asked by Mark (Bannister, GPJ Technical Director) and the team to come back for a second year on Cisco Live!. It allowed us to build on year one, making tweaks and improvements that helped the show to run even better this year. We couldn’t do it without the excellent crew involved, with everyone from all departments working together to ensure every detail is right. Hopefully we’ll get to do it all again in Berlin next year!”
XL Video supplied a substantial projection system and control together with HD cameras / PPU, HD LED screen, several hundred monitors, networking and fibre infrastructure plus audio systems for two high profile Microsoft events staged back-to-back at the Fira de Barcelona Gran Via convention centre in Barcelona, Spain.
TechEd is Microsoft’s premier event for IT professionals and enterprise developers, and this was followed immediately by Convergence, the Microsoft community’s chance to network with other users, share and expand their experience and realise their potential.
XL’s team was led by Project Manager Nick Askew assisted by Chris Ellis and Dick Crabbe and they were working for live event consultancy Nteractive headed up by Technical Director Matt Brownfield, Technical Consultant Andrew Vass and acclaimed Sound Designer Colin Pink (a recent TPi Award nominee).
The Nteractive team paid close attention to all video and audio aspects in all areas, from comms system down to video-switcher labelling, and worked closely with XL’s HODs and crew to make sure all aspects were delivered to their required standards.
Matt Brownfield comments, “At Nteractive we have very exacting standards and high production values. To deliver a Microsoft event at this level is a significant technical achievement. XL Video has the equipment and packages it to allow us the optimum configuration and setup for the systems, and also provides the right people to install and operate to the levels we require.”
The format for TechEd comprised a Keynote space – taking over Hall 6 of the Fira and featuring a primary conference session on one of the four days attended by around 7,000 people. There were then multiple breakout areas accommodating anything from 400 to 1100 people.
The projection system for the Keynote comprised four large screens, two at 21 metres wide left and right of the stage area, with another two at 14 metres wide functioning as repeater screens mid-way down the auditorium to ensure that the large audience could get a clear view of the presentations wherever they were sat in the hall.
Sixteen Barco HDF W26 machines were used to produce the edge-blended images. One of the major technical challenges for the XL crew was achieving the high clarity and definition on the software code-heavy screen graphics using double edge-blended projections, a task that takes skill, precision and time.
Multiple demo and presentation sources plus XL’s Coolux quad and dual Pandora’s Box media servers operated by Chris Bowman, were switched to the screens via a Barco Encore screen management system operated by Andrew Vass.
Cutting the camera mix on a Grass Valley Karrera PPU was Jonathan Chard, and feeding into this were four Sony HXC-100 operated units - two positioned at FOH, one on a rolling spider at the front of the stage and the fourth on a wireless steadicam rig – plus one of XL’s HDiye minicams and a Pixel Power Clarity live production graphics system.
The Karrera provided a mix to all screens in the hall, while separate TXs were sent to an OB truck broadcasting live to Microsoft’s production studios at their headquarters and also web-streamed by Tri-Digital.
The Karrera integrated Grass Valley Turbo hard disk players which were used for wipes and to store visual stings for the broadcast feed, triggered via pre-programmed macros on the Karrera.
Multiple backstage and comfort monitors were fed via 40 x fibre / CAT systems and 64 ways of DVI matrix also supplied by XL.
To deliver crisp, clear high clarity audio, XL provided d&b V-series and Q-series loudspeakers and a Yamaha CL5 console, operated by the aforementioned Colin Pink. Comprehensive Clearcom Helix and Eclipse comms systems ensured that all departments had reliable and discreet communications with up to twelve independent comms channels available.
The breakout rooms were dotted around the Fira in Halls 8 and 8.1. There were 21 in total accommodating the various capacities, and additional video-over-IP relays were activated for the most popular sessions so they could be seen and heard in the over-flow rooms.
Each breakout room contained at least one Panazonic DZ12000K, DZ13K or DZ21K projector to provide high definition displays for the small lines of multiple code text and demo content being displayed.
A Barco PDS-902 switcher and preview monitor was deployed in each room, together with an Interspace Industries touch-operated count-down clock, with about 60 Fibre / CAT transport systems in use across all of the rooms. Presenters were hopping from room to room, so it was imperative that all the desks and switchers worked and looked identical, right down to the input labels and available cables and input adapters!
A custom audio system was designed for each break-out room, each utilising different combinations of d&b E3, Ci80, Q-7 and T-10 loudspeakers, the exact choice determined by the position of the flown trusses which also had to facilitate lighting.
Each room was assigned an audio engineer, while a team of ‘floating’ video techs were on hand to assist presenter’s set-up and configure their devices and systems to appear correctly onscreen.
Over in Hall 7, XL supplied around 60 screens ranging from 32 to 65 inches in size for the Microsoft Solutions Exchange exhibition space, together with multi-touch solutions and advanced switching for two theatre areas.
Also in Hall 7 three Instructor-Led Labs each had its own sound system and selection of 65 inch and 55 inch monitors, all driven by another Barco PDS-902 switcher configured to mirror the breakout room set ups.
Between Halls 6 & 7 was the Channel 9 studio, a small TV facility established to handle virtual broadcasts and webcasts to remote audiences outside of the conference relay screens (that were next to the studio structure). XL’s brief was to provide a set-up that could convert multiple PC sources and four Bradley CAMBall 2 robocams to Microsoft’s own TriCaster streaming system. The cameras were operated by XL’s Adrian Grau and Bjorn Parry.
Just outside the TechEd exhibition area was a large media wall for which XL supplied a 7.6 metre wide by 1.9 metre high Unilumin 2.5 mm LED screen. This displayed show sponsor messages, presentations with fine text and demos in native pixel resolution.
A Barco Encore system run by Alex Thomas was at the core of this. The XL crew in this area also looked after 26 x 46 inch and 10 x 55 inch monitors displaying info. relating to assorted room sessions, together with event-wide messages.
TechEd ran for four days – and within that, Keynote for one day – which was then followed by a quick turnaround for Convergence.
The major changes were the reduction of Keynote Hall 6 to a 4000 capacity venue and the removal of the repeater screens; Hall 8.1’s breakout kit was de-rigged and this became an exhibition space with some of Hall 7’s equipment being re-deployed in there; the media Wall and digital signage was moved to the ‘new’ exhibition space now in Hall 8.1… And the Channel 9 studio was dismantled!
As well as organising trucking for five artics of equipment from XL’s UK HQ in Hertfordshire to Barcelona, Askew co-ordinated around 50 video and audio engineers and technicians on site. A serious amount of pre-prepping went into ensuring that this mammoth task and the extremely intense build-up schedules ran seamlessly and efficiently on site.
Nick Askew comments, “It was great to be working with the TechEd and Convergence teams and the time, attention to detail and hard work by all departments and suppliers really showed, making both events hugely successful. On shows like these, aside from the quality and presentation of the equipment, we will be judged by the skill and ability of the many crew - from warehouse to HOD – who all did us proud”.
Production Resource Group LLC, (PRG) the world’s leading provider of entertainment and event technology solutions, announced today that it is combining several business units to create the PRG Music Group. This new division will be under the leadership of Mickey Curbishley, CEO PRG Music, and will focus on providing integrated video and lighting solutions for tours, festivals, and concert events around the world.
“We are bringing together leading industry veterans, technology experts, and the operational know-how of PRG Concert Touring, PRG Nocturne, and Chaos Visual Productions into a single integrated organization,” says Curbishley. “The PRG Music Group is and will be the ‘go-to’ production resource for our clients. The goal is simple—we want to make it as easy as possible to do business with PRG.”
In addition to integrating the three teams, PRG is making an immediate investment in the latest video technology to ensure that PRG clients are the best equipped in the industry. “We are investing over $50 million in new gear”, continues Curbishley. “We are pairing new equipment with our newly combined team to better serve our clients. We have some of the top talent in the business and by combining these three teams into one group we are now stronger than the sum of our parts.” Bob Brigham, President of PRG Nocturne states, “We are making a major investment in new, state-of-the-art video technology, including HD flypacks and cameras that integrate the latest technology from Grass Valley, Ross Video, and Fujinon; additional PRG Nocturne LED video modules and our proprietary LED processing. These systems will be based in our facilities in Los Angeles, Chicago, and London. PRG clients in the concert touring, film, TV, and corporate events will see a remarkable leap forward with these PRG Nocturne HD systems.”
John Wiseman, Senior Vice President of PRG Nocturne, agrees that the new HD systems extend PRG Nocturne’s industry leadership. “For years, PRG Nocturne has defined the state-of-the-art for video technology in our industry having supported acts like Paul McCartney, Bruno Mars, KISS, Linkin Park, Bon Jovi, Katy Perry, and many others. The new HD systems along with our new V-12 LED video modules, new line of V Series video processors, additional V-Thru transparent LED video panels, and the exceptional service delivered by our talented staff establish a new standard for the markets we serve.”
London, UK – Attracting over 30,000 delegates over four days, the recent European Society of Cardiology Congress 2014 at the FIRA de Barcelona in Spain will be remembered as one of the biggest and most exciting in the history of the society.
As well as presenting a raft of clinical trial updates, registry studies and new healthcare guidelines, the ESC Congress hosted an exhibition that provided delegates with the opportunity to exchange with key industry experts on critical areas of development and research in cardiovascular products and therapies.
One of the biggest names in biopharmaceuticals commissioned international live events and marketing agency WRG to design an impressive booth whose main attraction was ‘Heart Attack Falls’, an interactive video wall whose content represented the human cardiovascular (or circulatory) system.
To address the immense technical challenges of the exhibit, WRG turned to Production Resource Group’s division PRG Nocturne and Cameron Bannister, PRG Nocturne’s UK-based account manager for the project. Bannister takes up the story. “WRG’s client wanted to showcase itself as a leading partner in cardiovascular care and in doing so requested innovative technology to reflect the innovative science behind their brand.”
“The first main element of the system supplied by PRG Nocturne was a large 5.5mm pixel pitch display consisting of 335 light weight, power efficient Barco C5 LED tiles which extended from a vertical position down to floor level to create Heart Attack Falls,” continued Bannister. “Informed by remote cameras, interactive playback content was catered for by Arcstream AV technology. “We ran two outputs from Arcstream’s custom-built content server which fed into the three Barco processors that mapped the content across the entire screen surface. As visitors stood on sections of the screen, the content adjusted to demonstrate blood flow, creating an a very impressive interactive environment.”
The PRG Nocturne team excelled at their task. “Our aim was to install a flexible system that enabled us to adjust to our client’s needs,” says Bannister. “We used Dataton’s Watchout V5 multi-display software which gave us that flexibility to orchestrate content across different displays on the booth, precisely where it was needed. Watchout also gave us the freedom to amend any content that didn’t work exactly as planned or required content updates.”
PRG Nocturne’s involvement also extended to other areas of the exhibition booth. “We had three 46″ NEC screens linked to each other and the client wanted these to be part of an interactive system that ran seamlessly,” explains Bannister. “Using an i7 computer loaded with a TripleHead2Go graphics card, we were able to achieve three full HD outputs. Combining that with a 48:9 aspect ratio custom-built multi-touch overlay allowed multiple visitors to fully interact with the screen over these three screens that seamlessly acted as one 5760 x 1080 resolution surface.”
Bannister continues the explanation. “All the interactive touch activated elements were controlled from a computer stack centrally accessed with a KVM switch that interacted with each device, giving us quick access to machines for uploading or adjusting content, and then relaying it back to the screen. For me, the control system was one of the more interesting aspects of the project.”
To showcase a range of product and branding video content around the booth, PRG Nocturne supplied a range of displays by Samsung (two 95” ‘pill’ screens), LC (one 80”), NEC (one 55” screen) and Ilyama (two 24”), along with four double-sided portrait ‘totems’ comprising of 12 46” NEC seamless displays that were mapped on Watchout to enable full HD quality. The company’s overall production package also incorporated a generous IT solution in the form of 48 Apple iPad 4s with wireless network infrastructure and SQL database hardware, and eight 17” MacBook Pro laptops.
“The main thing about this project was supplying the right equipment to enable effective control of the system and be sufficiently flexible with our installation,” concludes Bannister.
Communicating with Bannister after the event, Steve Rouse, WRG’s Senior Exhibition Designer said: “WRG really values the strong support that PRG Nocturne provide. The PRG team met every challenge with a positive attitude, and that is a partnership we truly value.”
Summarising the project, Production Manager Mark Owen commented: “WRG contracted PRG Nocturne to provide all AV services relating to the exhibition booth designed and implemented by WRG. From my perspective, PRG Nocturne’s total project management for the supply of AV services facilitates a smooth transition from concept through to on-site delivery and on a project of this size where AV elements are prone to change—that is priceless. PRG Nocturne are also a great resource to collaborate with when it comes to ideas and solutions for unusual delivery and display of content.”
Photo: Courtesy of WRG.
Commitment to Customer Support Behind Investment in New Equipment and Experienced Team
PRG Nocturne has a global reputation for unmatched LED video and projection support to the concert touring, festival, and corporate event markets. Understanding and anticipating the needs of their clients is at the core of PRG Nocturne’s success and the decision to greatly expand its operations in the United Kingdom.
“We are now heading into our fourth year with PRG,” says Bob Brigham, President of PRG Nocturne. “One of the deciding factors in joining the PRG team was our dream to expand into the UK/European markets. The expansion of our UK operation allows us to fully support the rapidly growing demand with an experienced team of people and quality gear that our customers expect of PRG Nocturne US and UK.”
In 2014, the UK operation has supported numerous tours and festival appearances including The Eagles, Katy Perry, Metallica, Skrillex, Franz Ferdinand, Bastille, Linkin Park, and The Rolling Stones. They have also worked with a roster of corporate clients which included 3D projection mapping for the launch of Vodafone Firsts ‘Pitch your #First’ campaign for the Wasserman Media Group.
Irving Azoff of Azoff MSG Entertainment says “We’ve always loved working with PRG Nocturne. With the addition of PRG Nocturne in the UK, they just got better.”
Bob O’Brien, Production Manager for The Script and Franz Ferdinand comments, “I cannot emphasise the importance of having PRG Nocturne on our side every step of the way. Now that PRG Nocturne is fully established in the UK, I can rest assured every detail is well in-hand.”
PRG Nocturne’s well-respected and experienced UK team includes Chief Sales Officer Rich Rowley, Account Director Stefaan Michels, and Head of Video Services Mark O’Herlihy.
With 25 years of experience, Rowley looks forward to the opportunities that having a fully stocked and staffed PRG Nocturne operation in the UK will offer customers. “With the warehouse in Longbridge and the core account management team in our Covent Garden office, we will be able to optimise the way we do business with designers and production. PRG Nocturne is completely committed to ensuring that we offer all our customers the innovative products, solid solutions, and convenient, timely response they need. We will expand our client base across markets as we apply our knowledge from years of touring to elevate the video experience for other markets.”
Michels and O’Herlihy are the ideal choices to help develop the UK operation’s expansion having both originated from PRG Nocturnes US operation. Michels comments, “What’s great about PRG Nocturne is they invest in people,” he says. “We plan to keep working as a team to drive the industry and PRG Nocturne in the UK forward with new gear, new markets, and new people.”
O’Herlihy agrees wholeheartedly and adds, “PRG Nocturne will continue to innovate; create custom solutions; and offer a full range of LED products on a much larger scale than we’ve ever done before. We have always been known for a core team of really talented people and that’s what expanding the UK operation of PRG Nocturne is building upon.”
To learn more about PRG Nocturne’s services in the UK, please contact us at:
The Cofton Centre, Grovely Lane, Longbridge, Birmingham, B31 4PT +44 345 470 6400
Sussex House, 143 Long Acre, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9AD +44 345 470 6400
Rich Rowley – firstname.lastname@example.org, +44 121 477 1176
Stefaan Michels – email@example.com, +44 208 335 6048
Mark O’Herlihy – firstname.lastname@example.org, +44 121 477 1232
Having completed the first European leg of her Prismatic World Tour and now starting dates throughout North America, Katy Perry invites her audiences into a visually stunning concert experience. “Everything with Katy is larger than life so the design needed to reflect that. The stage itself is a statement,” points out Show Director and Designer Baz Halpin. Helping Halpin and Perry make that strong visual statement is PRG Nocturne.
Supporting her album, Prism and calling the tour the Prismatic World Tour, Perry had a vision of where to start in the look of the show’s design. “She wanted a large triangular LED Video screen on a triangular stage,” explains Halpin. “That was the basis of the design—the shape. Everything else plays into that.” Halpin conceived the enormous 70’ wide by 34’ tall automated tracking triangular LED video screen that is, as he says, “the backbone of the show; it’s used in everything but the unplugged section of the performance. The main challenge was to make sure that the screen wasn’t too overbearing. We spent a lot of time making sure that it wasn’t going to overpower the action onstage.”
The first leg of Perry’s tour took Europe by storm garnering successful reviews throughout the UK. PRG Nocturne’s UK team, who handled the Prismatic World Tour, also supported Katy Perry’s iTunes performance last year at the Roundhouse in London.
To realize Halpin’s dynamic creative design and offer a reliable, globally tourable solution to the challenging element, he turned to PRG Nocturne. “We needed a very experienced crew and an experienced vendor, which obviously PRG Nocturne have that pedigree. They have the experience of dealing with huge shows like this that have to be transported on a daily basis and work every time. It is very important to have their experienced crew and their support to carry that out, which PRG Nocturne does.”
The LED prism-shaped video backdrop, used as both a scenic and dynamic lighting solution throughout the evening as well as for cutting in I-MAG camera shots at times, is actually three separate pyramid-shaped screens comprised of over 700 PRG Nocturne V-9 Lite LED Video Modules. The hi-resolution V-9 Lite product offers a lighter weight LED screen option without compromising image quality. Cutting weight was important, not only to better address touring needs but because of the scale of the LED screen Halpin wanted on the stage. Even with the V-9 Lite it weighs in at 40,000lbs.
“Because the V-9 Lite is so lightweight it’s an ideal solution for touring, certainly it was the right solution for this production,” explains Mark O’Herlihy, PRG Nocturne’s UK Head of Video Services. “Beyond the weight considerations it also still delivers an equally high quality, high-definition picture, which is always important when you have such a strong visual element with such rich content.”
PRG Nocturne is also supplying the Prismatic World Tour with several other LED video elements including their V-9 LED Modules for a rising pyramid Perry enters through at the top of the show, and flexible digiLED LED product that wraps around a huge multi-layered birthday cake set piece. For playback control and to allow truly creative flexibility the tour’s Video Director Omar Montes-Rangel, from PRG Nocturne, is using two PRG Mbox media servers. PRG Nocturne crew on the tour also includes video engineer Eugene McAuliffe, the video crew chief John Moore as well as the LED screen technicians, the camera operators and projectionist.
The PRG Nocturne UK is going to have a busy summer supporting artists including The Rolling Stones, Linkin Park, and Metallica for their European tours. Katy Perry’s Prismatic World Tour will continue to play North American dates through October. She heads to Australia and New Zealand for November and December before returning for a second European leg, ending the tour in late March, 2015.
Touring in support of his critically acclaimed album, Nothing Was The Same, Drake has taken his Would you like a Tour? to Europe after the well-received North American leg. Since the beginning of the tour in the US last October, Lighting Designer Guy Pavelo and Production Manager Chris Reynolds have relied on Production Resource Group (PRG) for the lighting and rigging solutions on the beautifully designed tour.
“Working with PRG is a fantastic experience,” stated Pavelo. “Professional crew, super clean and well maintained gear, accompanied with a fantastic and understanding support staff. I am already looking forward to our next big project together.”
As the tour completed its North America dates there was a seamless transition within PRG from one continent to the next between the account executives. Curry Grant, PRG Vice President, Concert Touring handled the North American leg and now the PRG UK Account Director Yvonne Donnelly Smith is supporting the six-weeks of European dates.
PRG’s Donnelly Smith noted, “This is our first time working for Drake. We have worked with PM Chris Reynolds previously on some well-recognised and historic Prince tours. Chris and his team are always fantastic to work with as everything is advanced well and any questions are responded to promptly. In this business, you can’t ask for better.”
The show travels with a very substantial bespoke set and catwalk that is see-thru, which requires a lot of care and thought in regards to cable management to keep everything hidden from view. PRG understood this challenge and its solution ensures that the design is realized just as cleanly as Pavelo intended. In fact, during prep at the PRG facilities in Longbridge UK the opportunity was taken to review and make some adjustments to strengthen the solutions provided. This attention to detail by PRG was noticed and well received by the tour’s production team, including Lighting Crew Chief Cliff Sharpling and Head Rigger Bob Powers.
For the European leg, Pavelo decided to go with SGM P5 wash lights for an extra run along the trusses facing the audience, which let him add another layer of rich, dark, saturated colour to the already visually engaging design. Already very pleased with the PRG Bad Boy® Spot luminaires and the PRG Best Boy® 4000 Spots from the North American leg, Pavelo has 45 PRG Bad Boys and 34 Best Boy 4000 Spots in this current rig. Martin Bellamy, PRG’s Project Manager, worked with Donnelly Smith to provide the kit which also includes 52 Clay Paky Sharpys; 53 GLP impressions; the 36 SGM P5 wash lights; 40 Martin Professional Atomic Strobes and Atomic Color scrollers; 4 7kW Xenon Syncrolites; 72 Philips Color Kinetics ColorBlaze TRX LED fixtures; 8 Philips Vari-Lite VL500 80V; and 10 VL3500FX. PRG also supplied all the hoists and rigging for the lighting, cable management, and PA.
Drake will conclude the tour by returning to The O2 Arena in London on 24-26 March, where PRG is also providing venue riggers for all incoming events. Since kicking off in Germany, Drake’s tour of Europe has been surprising audiences, including Rihanna joining him on stage for a duet in Paris and a guest appearance from Kanye West in Berlin, but it is no surprise that audiences and critics have been delighted with the concert’s engaging design.
Eighty years after King Kong first appeared on movie screens, audiences are once again being captivated as the legendary creature is being brought to life, only this time he is live onstage. For the groundbreaking musical, presented by the world-renowned animatronics technology leader Global Creatures, PRG was named the general contractor handling the majority of production services. PRG provided the theater’s structural preparation and the lighting, audio, scenic automation and scenery packages.
When Producer Carmen Pavlovic, CEO of Global Creatures, was looking for a story that fit the capabilities of the company’s animatronics technology but also offered strong narrative and musical possibilities she landed on the to the idea of developing King Kong as a live theatre piece. KING KONG took five years to develop prior opening during the summer of 2013 at the Regent Theatre in Melbourne, Australia. To tell this epic story onstage, Pavlovic brought in director Daniel Kramer; production/scenic designer Peter England; costume designer Roger Kirk; lighting designer Peter Mumford; sound designer Peter Hylenski and projection designer Frieder Weiss.
PRG worked closely with the design team as well as the technical director Richard Martin throughout the production process. They started first with ensuring that the theater was structurally prepared and capable of handling the show. With a leading man that is a 19½’ tall, 1.2-ton puppet it was important to address the size and weight of the large amount of machinery required to move Kong but also for the numerous scenic elements.
Martin explains the massive structural work that PRG helped coordinate, “It was a major project, especially for theatre in Australia; it is unheard of here. The first thing that we did was the venue engineering impact. There were five structural engineers involved to get this into the theatre, and we did a significant amount of work with the PRG engineers. We completely removed the existing orchestra pit lifts; excavated some of the orchestra pit structure in the base to get a bit more depth; put in new supports; and installed three new pit lifts. We removed the theatre stage and all its support; put in new structural support to bear the increased loads, and installed a huge hydraulic lift element covering the majority of the new stage floor. We added in nearly 20-tons of structural steel to the grid; and completely removed 80 fly lines. We also upgraded the power because we needed 2,000 amps in the building. It was a major overhaul and upgrade to the theatre.”
Everything is built to fit within a 63’ grid height; from stage floor to grid surface. They installed a full sub-grid, known as the gantry work platform, at a working height of 32.8’. It covers the entire stage, wall-to-wall; back wall all the way down to the within three-feet of the smoke pocket. This is the operational platform for the crew and flying performers as well as housing scenic elements, automation rigs, winches, lights, sound, Venetian curtains, and connections to the LED wall underneath it. The platform itself weighs 12.5-ton plus houses another 3.5-ton of video processor racks, automation racks, winches, and performers.
King Kong hangs from the main re-enforced grid and moves via a gantry crane-style automation rig, known as the Kong apparatus. Sub-contracted by PRG, Stage Technologies supplied the King Kong apparatus automation system, which specifically controls the Kong’s broad movement on stage, operating in a large “keyhole” cutout that allows him to move around the majority of the stage.
PRG engineered and installed the separate scenic automation system that controls all the flying scenery, the hydraulic lifts, Venetian curtains, and the winches for the flying performers. The scenic/flying automation system uses the PRG Commander automation console. With both automation systems operating in the same area PRG knew it was important to avoid conflicts between the two systems. “We did a lot of studies on impact and potential issues between the two systems,” notes Martin. “Everything was done with safety as the most important consideration.”
Setting the Stage
Peter England’s scenic design for KING KONG includes scenes in New York, Skull Island and on board a ship in the ocean. The first NYC scenes evoke the feel of the iconic black and white photos of NYC in the 1930s and England had PRG construct three scenic walls with I-beam platforms, known as the Times Square walls that concertina to the work platform. There is also a 19 ½’ long I-beam that flies in recalling images of men hovering on the I-beams in the air as they built the city to great heights. In the second act return to NYC England wanted to convey the idea that some of the electrical energy from Skull Island was brought back with Kong so he had the 1,500 rivet heads on the I-beam set electrified with LEDs in them. “It is our version of the Great White Way,” describes England. “We are creating this world of light; bringing the cold hard steel to life.”
For the penultimate scene of Kong climbing up the Empire State Building, England is especially pleased with the vertical rolling scenic device that gives the effect of Kong climbing up. “That is a beautiful piece of machinery built by PRG. It is three rollers on a single axle, a continuous roll, like a treadmill. It is the façade; a snapshot of the windows on the building that goes around and around; an opaque cloth with cut translucent windows in it that is backlit, to create the illusion of rising. People think it is projection—there is some projection on it—but we would never get the depth of visual effect if it was just projection.”
England wanted to infer the boat rather than build a boat for the scenes during the ocean journey. “I wanted to do something that was suggestive,” states England, “something new but quite simple in its form. We have a boat shape that comes out of the floor but it is the movement that sells the boat and also gives it some musicality. The simplicity to it totally belies the technology that PRG put in behind it.” Martin agrees, “It is very complicated technology that makes me smile every time I see it. PRG excelled themselves on this; it’s a wonderful bit of engineering. It seems quite straightforward, but it is really not. It is a very heavy piece that travels up, down, and gimbals at a good speed. It rocks ‘n’ rolls around absolutely dead silent, then it drops within a millimeter of where it starts each night; dead accurate.”
The boat is a motion platform lift, which is cut as a 30’ equilateral triangle that raises out of the stage floor. Using three large hydraulic cylinders that are programmed on the Commander console, the platform moves in all three axes at the same time, mimicking the look of a boat’s bow being lifted and dropped as the ocean buffets it. There are two hydraulic power units 9.2’ below that power the boatlift for a combined 140hp and it moves at 2’ per second. The boatlift weighs 17,000lbs but with people and scenery the weight is 25,000 lbs. The PRG system also provides encoder feedbacks to the video operator so they can sync their video waves on the LED screen with the boat’s movement.
How though do you work with an automation and scenic shop half a world away? “Today’s technology with e-mail, Skype, etc. it wasn’t that hard,” points out Martin. “PRG were so organized and on top of all the details. As soon as their team had drawings they would send them for review, if we made changes it was immediately passed to all the different PRG departments to make sure that conflicts in systems were handled long before we got into the theater. I can’t say enough about working with PRG. The distance made no difference to the attention and quality of work, it was top of the line.”
Light the Lights
Space in the automation heavy production of KING KONG meant the lighting designer Peter Mumford had to be creative and economical in his selection of fixtures and hanging positions. “Poor Mr. Mumford and his lights; he couldn’t put in any overhead lighting bars; all of his lights had to be fit around the keyway,” comments Martin. “They had to be out of the way so Kong wouldn’t hit them. Still Peter did a wonderful job, most people don’t realize how complicated it was for him to light this show.”
Mumford’s found that working with the challenges was actually the solution. He explains, “It was not really a question of working around the gantry it was a about working with it. We didn’t have the conventional overhead anything, because all that space was taking up by the Kong machinery. Having designed the rig into the gantry it was a structure, which could contain a very large number of moving lights. I was also able to build some bars into the false proscenium at the front so that was a more conventional position. I also add things like the lightlocks with VL3500; they were at the back of the gantry so we could fly movers right into the floor up against the LED screen. Then big banks of Sharpys left and right. You look for positions, it is like a set with a ceiling, you work with the reality of the way it is. That becomes your canvas and you find how you are going to light it and how you are going to approach it.”
Along with the VL3500s, his design includes Clay Paky 700s, Sharpys and over eighty ETC Source Four LED Lustr+ profiles. His rig could not include any tungsten sources. “I am using a totally non-tungsten rig, I had to because any tungsten sources would interfere with the infrared projection work,” notes Mumford. “I am a big supported of maintaining tungsten as an available theatrical source but this isn’t the show that reflects that.” Programmer and Associate Lighting Designer Victoria Brennan used an ETC EOS control console, which is linked to the show control backbone for triggering some cues and positions.
Mumford was pleased with the support from PRG, even from across the globe. “PRG were great, they are always great,” he says. “I work with them a lot in England. I also had an absolutely brilliant crew in Australia.” He also worked closely on this production with the scenic team from PRG, as there was a large amount of set electrification. He put ETC Selador Desire D60 Vivid Luminaires within the Empire State building solely for the effect when Kong falls off said building. They also created pop-up footlights that come out of a floor grill at the front of the stage where Mumford placed Clay Paky Sharpys into the floor that shoot into a white reflective on the footlights. He can then also turn the Sharpys around to be shafts of light into the space. There is LED tape used throughout the set to and glow and resonance to some of the scenic elements as well.
The Sound of Kong
Sound Designer Peter Hylenski and Associate Sound Designer/Production Engineer Simon Matthews worked with Shelly Lee the Australian Associate Sound Designer to give a voice to King Kong. Matthews explains, “The biggest challenge was the voice of King Kong. Nobody knew what that would be at first. It ended up being performed live. A guy named Harley Durst, every night, vocally performs him. He’s got a microphone; the microphone feeds into proprietary software. King Kong is alive.”
‘Kong’s entrance is one of the coolest theatrical moments that I’ve seen, or certainly have been a part of,” continues Matthews. “It takes all the departments and when he lands for the first time it’s magnificently loud. He roars and you still don’t see him. You start to see his eyes and his teeth. He’s landed behind this web of lights and a fog curtain. You just see his teeth and just his eyes; then he roars and it’s amazingly loud. People around me in the house gasped. It was a guttural reaction gasp. It was incredible. Then there’s another moment in the show, where King Kong is holding Ann in that iconic, loving gesture. King Kong turns and roars; it’s palpably different. That moment, making the roar live makes it work; you couldn’t replicate that moment with a recording. You do truly forget, as a watcher, as a listener, that he’s not alive. That’s the highest testament to the guys who perform him. In the end, what the technical side has given is the tools.”
Mostly a Meyer rig with a d&b surround system of M’elodie arrays. “One of the notable things about the system is that we have arrays of subwoofers that are 20’ tall on proscenium left and right,” describes Matthews. “We have 700HPs. We have four of the new 1100LS across the floor in front. There’s a total of 14 dual 18s or 28 subwoofer drivers. When King Kong puts his fist on the ground, you feel it. We have a sound effects operator to take visual cues—‘boom, boom’ that’s 50% of the sound. Without that you’re watching Kong and you think that while he’s really amazing; but he’s not alive unless he makes some sort of sounds. Those sounds need to interact with his environment and with his voice.”
Matthews feels it is a fairly straightforward sound system. “It is mixed on a Studer Vista 5. It goes through the D-Mitri system. The heart of the system is this mix engine I/O. The Studer goes through that. We also have the sound effects operator that’s using a QLab setup. It’s actually being triggered over Show Control by D-Mitri. The D-Mitri is the master cue list. We run five separate cue lists during the show. The Studer has a range of channels on its own cue list that it exists inside of. Sound Effects has its own cue trigger list; we’ve got the King Kong turbocharge list; and then we have the voice modulation key list. D-Mitri sends the MIDI Show Control out to the lighting and video departments. There’s really nothing else that’s still suited to be that level of show control unless you go to a dedicated show control platform. Even then the flexibility is already in the D-Mitri; you don’t have to build modules or timelines. You just operate it. There are two outputs that come from our audio matrix that go to the video system so they can use whatever sound effect or Kong’s voice to modulate the video that’s being played. That’s another realtime experience.”
The audio package was provided by PRG out of the United States and shipped to Australia. The system was put together as a normal Broadway show would and then put into sea containers for a high seas journey of about 45 days. “PRG was very supportive. If somebody says ‘hey we want you to go do a show in Australia and the shop is in New York,’ which by the way is 10,400 miles away, I would choose PRG.’ We went in anticipating that there would be problems but we really didn’t have any.”
The award-winning design work has thrilled audiences and the entire creative team feels that they have achieved a good balance of technology and narrative. England concludes, “I think at the very heart of what this production is, is a true marriage of traditional and ambitious technology; it reflects the story in a way. It is certainly something that no one has seen before. The goal in everyone’s heart has been to create something that has heart, emotion and humanity. It is not spectacle but it is spectacular.”
Designing KING KONG: The Creature, The Sets and the Costumes
Fit for a King – Stage Directions
King Kong Live On Stage – Video
When English pop sensation Robbie Williams took over Europe’s stadiums for his Take The Crown tour, Creative Director Willie Williams wanted to make sure that the lighting not only illuminated but also reflected the artist’s energetic performance style. Williams collaborated on the stunning production design with Scene Designer/Architect Mark Fisher and Ric Lipson of Stufish, creating an unforgettable visual kaleidoscope of lighting, scenic automation and video.
The successful 26-date summer tour included a 41’ sculptural head coming out of a massive back video wall along with seven additional three-dimensional heads that moved around the stage. With so much automation, video, and larger than life scenery the lighting needed to be carefully positioned to allow maximum impact with minimal presence. Williams’ had much of the lighting rig built into the set, cleverly masking what was actually a considerable amount of gear.
The Lighting Plot
Production Resource Group (PRG) provided the lighting system and crew. The plot included 130 PRG Bad Boy spots, 138 Martin MAC Auras, 69 Martin Atomic Strobes with Atomic Color scrollers, 12 Zap Big Lites and 12 Novalight Nova-Flowers, PRG Best Boy4000 Spots and additional lighting fixtures. The Bad Boys were selected by Williams to be the primary source because of their output. Noted Williams, “In a stadium—never mind in daylight—it’s all about intensity. None of the subtle features of a fixture count for anything at all if you can’t see them so in many ways the brightest fixture wins. The Bad Boy is still the brightest fixture in its price range. Even though we have a lot of fixtures, due to the scale, we have very few different types; it was a very simple rig, really.” Lighting Associate Alex Murphy agreed with Williams’ assessment of the Bad Boy luminaires. “Once again we were spoiled with the Bad Boys. The light output and zoom range is just great.”
“The biggest issue was knowing that we would be playing in Northern Europe during mid-summer,” explained Williams. “This is death for lighting and the worst thing a designer can do is carry on in denial of the fact that it’s not going to get dark until 2/3 of the way into the show. In the spirit of turning a weakness into strength, I set about conceiving a show that would actually benefit from opening in daylight. I thought about outdoor entertainments that are invariably day lit—carnivals, parades, etc. From this I took the cue as to what kind of show we needed to design.”
He approached the overall production by breaking it down into acts. “Act I is in daylight so we’ve created a sort of Rio Carnival environment. As dusk falls, we move into a focused, centralized acoustic Act II before the video-based home run of Act III. Finally the more contemplative encore section uses the darkness to close out the show with pyro and other effects.”
Production Manager Wob Roberts worked closely with PRG to develop solutions to streamline the load-in/load-out of the lighting. This was an important factor in a production travelling with so much automation and video scenery. The pre-rigging of the lighting in some portions of the plot proved to be very efficient. This was particularly true for the band area roofette. PRG’s team worked with Brilliant Stages so that 65 of the MAC Auras could be permanently mounted onto U-beam. They made sure that all the cabling was hidden inside the U-beam, which was then attached to the main structural beams of the roofette. It took the crew only 30 minutes at load-in to attach the U-beams and plug it all together.
The selection of PRG BAT Truss for much of the rig also proved extremely efficient. Roberts liked BAT Truss for both the space and labor savings it brought to the production. “The time it saved me was really impressive. My lighting crew moved so fast they ended up having to wait for the next staging, scenic, or video sections to be built so they could move on. The lighting pieces were so well pre-rigged that they went in extremely quickly. Everything just rolls into place on the BAT Truss. It was a very slick operation.”
A key use of the BAT Truss was the inverted sections used on the floor rigs. Two 8’ sections with three Bad Boys sitting upright in each were joined with custom brackets, then a seventh Bad Boy unit sat on top of the bracket. The BAT Truss pieces with the lights were easily wheeled into place and bolted together. A Four-light PAR36 fixture and an Atomic with a color changer on one pipe were then clamped onto it. The solution was compact, easily setup, and something that wouldn’t get kicked or moved. This was done on both sides of the stage below the IMAG screens, mimicking in reverse the lighting above the screens.
“I knew that PRG could provide the gear,” stated Roberts. “They have supported Robbie’s shows for a long time and are great to work with. I knew PRG could deliver a tour of this size. They also really came through with a great crewing solution for us.” Roberts continued by noting, “There was no question that I had a top flight crew. 90% of the success of any production is the people and I had the best team out there.”
List of the production team
Show Producer – Lee Lodge
Creative Director – Willie Williams
Stage Architect – Mark Fisher and Ric Lipson, Stufish
Video Director – Stefaan “Smasher” Desmedt
Production Manager – Wob Roberts
Lighting Director – Mark “Sparky” Risk
Lighting Associate – Alex Murphy
Lighting Crew Chief – Nick Barton
Systems Chief/FOH Technician – Craig Hancock
Lead Dimmer Technician – Gareth Morgan
Header/Moving Light Technician – Blaine Dracup
Pods/Big Lite Technician – Andrew Beller
Moving Light Technician/Pods – Jason Dixon
High Platforms/FOH/Followspots – Mark Pritchard
Moving Light Technician/Dimmers – Urko Arruza Urrutia
Header/Roofette Moving Light Technician – Chris Sabelleck
High Platforms/FOH/Moving Light Technician – Matthew Bright
Scottie Sanderson – PRG Account Executive
For Universal’s new sci-fi movie Oblivion, starring Tom Cruise, Cinematographer Claudio Miranda, ASC, and Director Joseph Kosinski filmed many of the visual effects live in-camera rather than using blue screens. For the scenes in the “Sky Tower”, a set built almost entirely of floor to ceiling windows and highly reflective surfaces, Miranda wanted a 270° sky surrounding the set so that he could shoot in almost any direction. Using on-set projection and capturing the sky and clouds in-camera allowed Kosinski, Miranda, and the actors to truly inhabit Production Designer Darren Gilford’s stunning futuristic set.
The projection solution provided by PRG included 11 Mbox Extreme media servers and 21 Barco FLM-HD20 20K projectors to cover the 494’ wide by 42’ tall projection screen. The final resolution was 18,288 x 1,920 pixels and consisted of 62 synched layers of 1080p video. PRG Project Manager Zach Alexander, the Media Operator on the film, created a seamlessly blended image using the Mbox media servers to control cloudscape footage shot with three cameras over two–three weeks on top of a volcano in Hawaii. Alexander used the PRG V676 control console to call up the sunrise, full day, sunset, or night sky options. During filming Kosinski and Miranda selected the sky looks by viewing and selecting the video clips on the V676’s Media Window, prior to shooting. The front projected sky also provided almost 95% of the lighting used for many of the Sky Tower scenes. Alexander operated a separate system for the smaller “Cloud Tower” set with a PRG V476 control console, two Mbox media servers, and six Barco 20K projectors.
PRG Lighting Programmer Philip Galler controlled a wide variety of LED lights that were installed in Cruise’s bubble ship and in the Sky and Cloud Tower sets, along with banks of Kino Flo fluorescent fixtures. PRG Bad Boy Spot luminaires were used to simulate shafts of sunlight for the bubble ship cockpit sequences.
Project Contact: Brian Edwards
Film And Digital Times Magazine feature on Oblivion
Oblivion: Universal ©2013 / Bill Dobbs
Universal ©2013 / Bill Dobbs
Photo Credit: Universal ©2013 / Bill Dobbs, Universal ©2013 / David James
XL Video is supplying Pixled F11, Mitrix, VersaTUBEs and Catalyst control for the Deadmau5 world tour, which kicked off in the US headlining Coachella and is currently in Europe, WOW'ing audiences with its stunning multi-layered video design and dimensionally mind-boggling visuals, designed by Martin Phillips and John McGuire of Bionic Head.
The tour originated from XL Video UK project managed by Des Fallon and Chris Ferrante with support from Phil Mercer and his XL Video LA team. Once again XL's international operation has been able to provide transatlantic continuity and great service for its clients.
The Deadmau5 set takes the current trend for leading DJ's to boost the production value of their live performances to new levels of fluidity, emotion and humour. Characterised by nanosecond-perfect timing, some clever concepts and a seamless fusion of video and lighting elements, Des Fallon says, "This show creates a new benchmark for dance act visuals - we're very proud to be involved".
Phillips is well known for his work with Daft Punk. His design for Deadmau5 started with the DJ booth, a 3 sided cube that looks like it's tipped forward at 45 degrees. This is clad with 75 tiles of PIXLED F11 screen.
Behind that, on the mid-stage truss, is a barrage of 72 VersaTUBES, mounted in 6 custom touring frames that were fabricated by B and R Scenery in Camarillo, California. Upstage of this are 6 vertical hangs of Barco MiTrix semi transparent screen, each column measuring 2 tiles wide by 36 deep, in 7 touring frames, each 7 metres high.
The MiTrix columns are hooked on to rolling headers on a dolly track attached to the truss above, allowing them to be moved - manually - into 3 different screen configurations throughout the show - 6 slim columns, 3 fat strips and one complete surface with all 6 strips pushed together. On screen shifting duties are XL's Joe Makein and lighting supplier PRG's Ben Wingrove.
Behind this, at the back of the stage is a 65 mm pitch pixel curtain.
The 4 different resolution surfaces work together and individually with the carefully considered content. The whole 3D perspective of the performance space is constantly changing and in motion, with bits appearing and disappearing and moving forwards, backwards and sideways often giving the optical illusion of the objects e.g. the DJ booth, physically moving right out into the audience! A primary visual design objective was to radiate the giga-tonnes of energy coming off the stage throughout the audience - spreading the vibe and excitement with highly effective results.
Deadmau5 (Joel Thomas Zimmerman) wears his trademark giant mouse mask throughout the performance with a spherical head and a huge grin. Half way through, this gets swapped for a custom version that contains 964 SMD pixels (LEDs) around the front of the head, allowing special effects like quirky facial expressions and other video content to be run through it. This was a big technical challenge to set up, but has become a real show stopper!
XL Video's Richard Stembridge is managing all the control aspects.
They are running 3 of XL's full spec Catalyst media servers, one of which is playing back content via both outputs to all the main LED surfaces. The second machine is used to run the LED Mouse Head, and the third is a spare. They also have a Mini Mac running Quartz Composer software, loaded up with some bespoke modules of software specially written for the tour, to allow functions like video content to be created on the fly and individual pixel control of the VersaTUBES. This is an experimental Bionic Head project that is currently 'under development'. The output of the Quartz is fed into the Catalyst as a video input.
Considerable effort has gone into integrating the LED Head into the show and this became one of Stembridge's missions during just 8 days of production rehearsals at Van Nuys in California! It is pixel-mapped in the Catalyst, which sends 12 universes of DMX via an ArtNet DataLynx OP box into the Head, and from there, protocol converters transform the DMX into visual information for the pixels.
All the Catalysts are triggered by the FOH lighting desk, a Road Hog Full Boar, currently being operated by John McGuire, and to be taken over later in the tour by Ben Wingrove. Some of the content cues are MIDI triggered, some are audio triggered via the Quartz and others executed live from the desk. The spot-on timing is an essential part of emphasising the emotion of the music through its rhythm and matching visual cues.
The content was produced from different sources commissioned by Bionic Head, including London based Onedotzero, with Phillips and McGuire also creating some using both Catalyst library material and totally new compilations.
Phillips comments that he's "Extremely happy" with the service he's receiving from XL Video, who are always his first choice of video company (he's based in LA). He also has plenty of good things to say about Stembridge and Makein, who have been working long hours and a gruelling schedule to make it all run like clockwork - and always with a smile. The tour's production director is Mark Ward and production manager is Alex Keyser. Dates are scheduled through February 2011.