PRG XL Video, the UK operation of Production Resource Group (PRG), is excited to announce two new additions to its music team. Robert Watson and Michael George have both joined as account managers and bring a diverse range of talent and experience to PRG.
Michael George has joined the company from Blink TV where he specialised in filming and streaming of live events – a service PRG XL has already begun to offer with the live streaming of Stormzy’s recent sold-out Brixton Academy shows.
Michael’s expertise in this field builds on PRG XL’s existing video, broadcast, and live recording capabilities, offering clients new services including social media streaming, and video clip compilations. Michael brings with him an extensive network of contacts in the field of content creation and editing.
Stefaan Michels, Director of Music, PRG XL Video, comments: “It’s a pleasure to have Michael join the team. He’s great to work with. It is exciting to expand into the live streaming market and with Michael’s expertise and high standard of delivery, it’s sure to be a resounding success.”
Robert Watson brings more than a decade of experience in live production, working as Project Manager and Crew Chief on several high-profile music festivals, designing lighting for theatre and concerts, and most recently working as a Project Manager at Panalux Broadcast & Event.
Robert’s expertise expands PRG XL’s WYSIWIG and design capabilities to the team, along with extensive knowledge of the latest lighting and video technology being used for state-of-the-art music and live event shows.
Yvonne Donnelly Smith, Director of Music, PRG XL Video, added: “I’m delighted to welcome Rob to the team. His in-depth technical knowledge and on-site experience of delivering shows is a great benefit to us. Additionally, Rob’s personality complements the rest of the team, and he’s already fitted in well!”
Both Michael and Robert are based in PRG XL’s central London office, near Covent Garden. To enquire about PRG XL’s expanded music capabilities, email UKmusicAM@prg.com.
The Cockpit Theatre in Marylebone, London have just completed a three-week run of Robert Anton Wilson’s play, Cosmic Trigger—directed by Daisy Campbell and produced by The Cockpit Theatre.
Dave Wybrow, Artistic Director at The Cockpit contacted PRG XL Video for help in solving a video projection conundrum they encountered whilst planning to stage Cosmic Trigger. Dave discussed the challenges they faced, bringing their creative visions to life: “We’d wanted to produce Cosmic Trigger at The Cockpit for a long time, I’m not only a huge fan of Robert Anton Wilson, but also the seventies American counter-culture he represents so well. Cosmic Trigger is a complicated piece to produce, it’s basically a play within a play within a play—and is more a play about ideas than it is about characters. Previous productions have been presented in an end-on staging format, with projection on the three walls visible by the audience. However, because of the unique layout of The Cockpit, it became clear very early on that we would have to stage Cosmic Trigger in the round because that’s the best use of the space, and we’d be able to sell more seats—thus increasing the production budget and ensuring we could afford everything we needed.”
“The story of Cosmic Trigger is told not only by the character’s actions and dialogue on stage, but also by the projection—a host of videographers, artists and animators have been involved with the project. As soon as we realised we needed to project onto four surfaces rather than three, we recognised that we needed some help for a professional video projection company who specialise in working with theatres.”
Nilkanth Patel, video Project Manager for PRG XL, described the projection solution we provided: “We supplied a QLab media server system running off of Apple Mac Pro towers, which was stationed backstage and included a back-up system to cover the eventuality of any system failure. To connect the media server to each projector, we used Lightware TPS-TX95 signal extenders, and a Modex keyboard video mouse (KVM), so the video technicians were able to operate the media server from the front of house position. We provided a media server programmer to load all the content into QLab and configure the outputs, then left it with the capable technicians at The Cockpit Theatre.”
The Cockpit was built in 1972 and is a purpose built, stand-alone, black-box theatre with an 11-metre square auditorium which can be configured in the round or as a thrust stage. It is independently run, and is owned by the City of Westminster College, who maintain the building as custodians. Although there are no longer any college courses run at The Cockpit, education still plays a large part in the programming of the venue, in the form of classes and courses for professional development; as well as hosting many other productions for emerging companies, rather than beginner companies, who are looking to move forward with the scale and professionalism of their current productions. Dave describes The Cockpit as: “A theatre of ideas and disruptive panache.”
Dave commented on working with PRG XL: “As soon as I spoke with Nilkanth and connected him with my production team, it was clear that PRG XL not only knew their stuff video-wise, but are also very experienced at dealing with theatrical productions—they understood our needs and found the most effective solution to our projection conundrum, from both a budget and practicality perspective.”
Peter Marshall, Director of Theatre for the UK market at PRG XL, said: “Working with fringe theatre is very important to PRG XL. We are well known for working on the big shows like Mamma Mia and Wicked, amongst many others; but we are just as passionate about supporting fringe venues and emerging talent, as it is from this pool that the next big things will come from.”
For more information on the services we can offer Video Designers working in theatre, please contact Peter Marshall—who will be happy to discuss your requirements.
PRG XL Video Supply Lighting, Rigging, and Video Technology to Imagination for Shell Make the Future London 2017
Following on from a highly successful event in 2016, creative agency Imagination has once again produced Make the Future London and the Shell Eco-marathon Europe, a four day event held at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.
The event promotes innovation and future technologies, and includes a variety of family-friendly activities and exhibits to educate and entertain.
Imagination’s Global Project Director, Lynda Hickey, and event Technical Director, Matt Francis, called on PRG XL Video to supply lighting, rigging, and video technology for the event, as the company was able to provide technology across all three disciplines.
PRG XL Rigging Account Manager, Ade Stead, worked with Imagination’s brief to specify and build rigging structures for the outdoor stages, LED screens and lighting, and truss and supports for the lighting in multiple marquees across the site.
Lighting Account Manager, Cameron Bannister, and onsite Crew Chief, Dana Read, provided a variety of fixtures including bright white Source4 Power Floods to light the Eco-marathon paddock and parc ferme marquees where the energy efficient vehicles were prepared.
ETC Source 4 Power Par fixtures were used for general lighting in the experiential areas. A crowd- pleasing zorbing experience, with midi-controlled lighting which changed colour based on the energy generated by the participants, used German Light Products GLP X4 fixtures to light the zorbs.
On the main stage truss totems were used to back the performers and these featured a combination of Sunstrips mounted vertically mixed with Robe Pointes and Robins.
Cameron said, “It was great to work with Matt and the team on this project for a second year in a row. The event is constantly developing and improving in terms of the show delivery, and the organisers endless drive to streamline the processes in bringing it together are industry leading. I look forward to working with everyone again in the near future.”
On the video side, PRG XL Account Manager, Rich Pow, and Crew Chief, Nathan Avery, worked with Matt Francis to provide a high resolution Unilumin 3.9m LED screen in the welcome area. This displayed an introductory film to visitors as they arrived.
In the park, they supplied a pair of ROE Visual MC-7 screens either side of the main stage, which displayed IMAG footage of the performers, and highlights of the Eco-marathon action. A further relay screen situated centrally in the park also displayed IMAG footage.
A pedestrian bridge across the Eco-marathon track allowed the visitors to walk from the entrance and paddock area to the main stage. Built into the side of the bridge, a further LED screen displayed the countdown clock for the qualifying heats and main race, as well as results, stats, and social media info.
IMAG footage was captured by several IP cameras installed across the site by Imagination, along with two wired and three wireless cameras from PRG XL. A jib-cam was brought in for the finals of the Shell Eco-marathon Europe, and Rich Pow commented, “the additional camera jib we supplied captured some different footage which looked fantastic on the IMAG screens.”
All the camera feeds were handled by one of PRG XL’s broadcast quality PPUs, with the video cut by Video Director Matt McCafferty. The cut footage was then output to all the screens across the site via Barco e2 screen management systems.
One of the outdoor game areas – Energy Light – used LED strips. Players were encouraged to transfer weights onto a weighing mechanism. The LED strips changed colour as more weight was added giving a visual representation of the game.
Rich Pow commented, “Once again it was great to work with the Imagination team on Shell Make the Future London and the Eco-marathon Europe. Matt and the team made some small changes from last year’s event that had a huge positive impact on the build and the show itself. This is a magical event to work on from conception through to seeing it full of life on site. It’s a real family-pleasing event.”
Photos: PRG UK/Alison Barclay
Check out our video from Shell Make the Future London 2017 and Eco-marathon Europe.
For the 15th consecutive year, PRG XL Video supplied a comprehensive lighting and rigging package for Download Festival; as well as video screens for a selection of the touring bands stopping off to play at the UK’s premier heavy rock and metal festival.
Two of the three main stage headliners are using touring rigs supplied by PRG XL, including System of a Down on Friday and Aerosmith on Sunday.
System of a Down used 9 PRG GroundControl followspots, with the controls stations located under the stage. Other headline lighting products specified by Lighting Designer Rob Sinclair include Martin Mac AIRFX and PRG Best Boy spot moving lights, as well as Solaris Flare LED effects and strobe lights. System of a Down used a PRG XL Video LED video screen, hung in a diamond orientation and made up of ROE 18mm Hybrid LED tiles, powered by a Hippotizer media server.
Aerosmith’s Lighting Designer Cosmo Wilson selected a plethora of lighting fixtures for Sunday night’s show, including 272 GLP Impression X4 LED lights, as well as Robe Pointe and BMFL moving lights, and Martin Atomic strobes. All of Aerosmith’s lighting is controlled by a GrandMA2 lighting control console. Aerosmith have a ROE MC-7 upstage video wall, driven by a Catalyst media server package.
Elsewhere around the site, PRG XL also supplied the lighting and rigging services for stages two and three, as well as the touring rig for Rob Zombie, who occupies the Stage two headline slot on Saturday evening. There is a core lighting rig on the main stage, which is designed to be flexible enough to accommodate the additional kit brought by the headline acts, as well as versatile enough to be used for the band playing throughout the day and early evening.
PRG XL Account Manager Gordon Torrington is overseeing the supply of equipment and crew for Download 2017: “I’ve been involved as the Crew Chief for Download Festival for more than seven years, this year I’ve approached the project from a different angle, as an Account Manager, which brings its own unique challenges, but is just as rewarding and a lot less muddy. I’m really pleased to still be involved with Download, and am excited to get on site and see some of the shows!”
Photography by PRG XL Video/Matt Rakowski
PRG XL Video recently supported Production Manager Iain Whitehead and Production North with lighting, video and rigging services for The X Factor Live tour 2017. Stopping off at nineteen venues around the UK, the tour featured the stars of the 2016 series of the popular prime-time weekend television show.
Lighting Designer Peter Barnes returned for his sixth X Factor Live tour to design the set, lighting and video screen layout. Peter explained the creative process behind the show: “I worked closely with Creative Director, Beth Honan, on her staging requirements and overall artistic look of the show. The general design complimented what the audience would be used to from the TV show. Although there was no particular brief given to me, with this particular show, there’s always been a video screen which opens upstage centre, and the rest just falls into place from that, filling in the background with screens and lights. Whilst designing the set and lighting layout to fit in with Beth’s vision, it was also of paramount importance for me to regularly liaise with Iain Whitehead and his production team, as well as my lighting Crew Chief, Steve Major to ensure the rig was practical from a technical and build perspective”
Lighting technology used on The X Factor Live tour included the PRG Best Boy spot HP, Vari*Lite VL3500, Clay Paky Mythos, Sharpy moving lights, A.Leda B-EYE K10 LED effects lights, and Solaris Flare LED strobes. Followspotting power was provided by Robert Juliat Lancelots.
Discussing his choice of lighting fixtures, Peter Barnes said: “I opted for Clay Paky Sharpys because they have a bright, punchy beam which would show up against the high quantity of LED screen, the Mythos is an equally powerful light and can be used to give wider beam effects; whilst the VL3500 gave a bright overall wash, enabling us to see the artists and dancers against the strong backlight from the screens. I used the Clay Paky K10s to give some backwash and effects. The Ayrton Magic Blades and Magic Panels also gave wonderful effects to play about with.”
The main video element of the tour was made up of ROE Visual MC-7H 7.5mm LED tiles, with a central 6 x 4.2 metre screen, flanked by four 1.2-metre-wide vertical strips stepping out and forwards from each side. Above this, and fanning out over the stage were a combination of ROE S18 600mm and 1200mm 9mm LED strips. This layout of screen is designed to open up the stage—focussing the audience’s attention towards the central point, as well as giving a false sense of perspective and making the stage look bigger than it actually is. The LED screen content was driven by a Brompton Technology Tessem/Revolution M2 LED processor, and Catalyst V5 XL media server. In addition to the LED walls, there were two projection screens either side of the stage, playing pre-recorded content and IMAG footage of the show. Sony HXC-100 XL cameras captured footage on the night, and was played back through Barco HDX-W20 20K projectors.
Peter Barnes was joined by Lighting Operator Dom Crookes, who has worked with Peter on numerous tours, including Ronan Keating and The Vamps. Dom said: “Creative Director, Beth Honan worked closely with Pete to decide on the style of lighting for each song, but generally we were going for big, bold looks which replicated what people expected to see from the TV show. I used a Hog 4 Full Boar to program and operate the lighting—which was all pre-programmed and run off of timecode, triggered by the audio track of each song.”
Peter paid tribute to Dom’s input on The X Factor Live tour: “Dom’s been operating the show for the last three years and is an important part of the team—he puts in many, many hours during pre-production and rehearsals programming the show. This year’s tour was made up of 36 songs, which is about double that of a normal pop show.”
The show cycled through performances from each of the final eight contestants, introduced by their mentor on the side screens, before 2016’s X Factor winner, Matt Terry, closed the show. The X Factor TV series will return in the autumn, with the next live tour taking to the road in February 2018.
Photography by PRG XL Video/Matt Rakowski
PRG XL Video Supply Lighting and Video for The Vamps—Including Innovative Video Effects Software: VideoDust
British pop-rock band, The Vamps recently completed a sold-out arena tour of the UK as part of the first leg of their world tour, before joining up with Little Mix as they head in to Europe at the end of May. Lighting, video and rigging technology and services were supplied by PRG XL Video—with lighting design by Peter Barnes and video content direction by Stuart Merser, using the latest must-have live image manipulation tool: VideoDust.
Created by Stuart Smith and his business partner Phil Woodhead, of Brighton based technologists Thundering Jacks, VideoDust is a user-friendly, intuitive tool for creating original video content in real-time from a live source. Stuart Merser has been the only video director outside of Thundering Jacks to use VideoDust/Cat combination on touring productions, he explained why he is such a fan: “I’ve been touring for over twenty years and VideoDust is one of the most impressive tools I’ve worked with. VideoDust gives me the ability to make, change, or manipulate content live, as a show is actually taking place. I can take a camera feed and run it through VideoDust, apply a number of effects and output the content to the main video screen—it’s also reactive to light and sound, which makes it even more creative. On The Vamps, we took various audio lines and fed these into VideoDust to generate the effects we used. Everything was pre-programmed to timecode on The Vamps, this included the segments of the show which used VideoDust, but even though the effect was pre-determined, I manually manipulated the effect in a different way each night—that way, no two shows were ever the same, despite the fact it’s all pre-programmed.”
Stuart Smith explained how VideoDust came into existence: “My background is in gallery based, interactive visual art. In around 2011 I was invited to create some unique content for a Peter Gabriel tour, where he wanted to do some funky effects, with the image on-screen breaking into shards of glass whenever he moved his hand in a certain way. Word got around and people in the touring industry thought it would be amazing to have the capability to do stuff like this on more live shows. Shortly after that I met my business partner Phil Woodhead, who was working on Kings of Leon; I ended up joining the tour with a very early version of VideoDust—from which the effects were great, but it wasn’t very user friendly. I came home and overhauled the whole thing, the concept of VideoDust is that it’s a super easy-to-use tool with an iPad interface, that can be used as a creative tool for Video Designers and Directors.”
Having been given a demo of VideoDust by both Stuarts prior to The Vamps show, the range of effects and manipulation level is impressive. For example, you can take video footage and break it into different shapes, rotate those shapes around three axes, change the colour and have it pulse in and out to the rhythm of the song—all controlled by really simple faders on an iPad. VideoDust is such a revolutionary modular plug in that Catalyst version 6 will include a copy of VideoDust, known as CatDust, when it is released later in the year.
The video playback surface for The Vamps was a colossal 33-metre-wide ROE F-12 LED screen, with additional LED panels on the band risers. All the content was driven through a Catalyst media server, with Stuart‘s mixing being done on a Black Magic 2ME desk.
Lighting Designer Peter Barnes is a pop show lighting virtuoso and has lit The Vamps since their first theatre tour in September 2014. Discussing the layout of the lighting and choice of fixtures, Peter commented: “The band wanted a giant video screen, as they’d seen another show with something similar—so we came up with a screen that’s around 33 metres wide. The size of the screen means that all the lighting fixtures need to go either above or below it, which pretty much determined the style of lighting for The Vamps, with trusses over the stage and above the video wall, as well as lights lining the back of the risers below. Because of the amount of video, I needed something punchy to compete with the light output from the LED wall; I found that the Clay Paky Mythos and Icon Beam from PRG cut through the ambient light very well.”
Additional lighting used on The Vamps tour included Vari*Lite VL3500 wash lights; and the B-EYE K10 LED effects light and CC LED strobe from Clay Paky. Followspot power was provided by Robert Juliat Lancelots. Dom Crookes worked with Peter during pre-production, programming the show lighting on WYSIWYG and during production rehearsals—with Fraser Walker taking over as lighting operator for the tour, running everything from a Hog 4 Full Boar. Steve Major was the lighting Crew Chief, somebody who Peter has the highest level of respect for: “Steve’s been the Crew Chief on all The Vamps tours, and is brilliant at making it all happen at every show, as well as specifying the kit to make my design go together as quickly as possible on a day-to-day basis.”
Photography by PRG XL Video/Matt Rakowski
Mirroring the popularity of his latest album, Following My Intuition, which debuted at No.1 on the UK chart, Craig David’s recent arena tour was a huge success, visiting 16 cities across the UK and Ireland.
With Craig’s career encompassing songwriter and musician, as well as his DJ work, which has grown from his acclaimed TS5 parties which started in his Miami penthouse, Tower Suite 5, the aim was for the tour to include a live set with the band and a DJ set. The live set featured songs from his latest album, alongside classic hits like Re-Rewind, Fill Me In, and 7 Days.
Supporting the Show Producer and Designer, Emma Bull, Lighting Designer, Stephen Abbiss, Tour Director, Sam Kruger, and Production Manager, Wob Roberts, PRG XL Video supplied video and lighting technology and services for the arena tour.
Emma Bull started working with Craig in late 2016, brought in by his record label to work on the design for TV performances promoting the album. The first of the performances was the MOBO Awards, and subsequently Craig’s manager Colin Lester asked Emma to be involved in the tour.
Working with Sam Kruger and Wob Roberts, who took care of the more technical requirements, Emma explains her main aims for the tour’s creative design: “The brief I was given was to achieve two shows in one. The band section was always going to be heavily IMAG-led on stage, with the band forming a key part of the look. I wanted to keep an open stage vibe and not do anything too conceptual, which gave us a bigger opportunity to change the dynamic for the TS5 section, at which point the arenas became more like clubs.”
In order to achieve the two distinct looks for the show, Emma kept the approach understated with a focus very much on who was on stage as opposed to what. She explains: “It was important to me that we kept the show feeling modern and minimal. The video screen was a big feature, but we kept the look widescreen with 3 positions. I didn’t want to do a graphic-per-look type show, as it needed to feel more organic, so the combination of bespoke graphic assets, Video Dust and the live cut helped us achieve this.”
PRG XL Video supplied their ROE Visual MC-7 LED to form the screens and this was automated on a Wii Creations Tracking system combined with Kinesys control which allowed the single wide screen to split into multiple elements.
For the TS5 section she incorporated the style of Craig’s TV performances into the tour design: “The lighting structure, which formed the look for TS5, was something I’d already designed for Craig on a smaller scale for TV and it was a natural progression to build TS5 around it. Abbiss was brilliant at adapting that design for the arenas and he selected all of the fixtures and dealt with the automation of that.”
For the band section Abbiss worked around the automated LED screen sections. He explains: “I knew I needed to keep a clear space for the moving screens, so we created pods of lights far upstage left and right and for these I used PRG’s Bad Boy moving lights, with Sharpy beams located all over the rig. As the screen took time to build each show, we used PRG Bat Truss to rig the lights. This allows you to transport the lights in the truss and it saved time off the truck. We had 10 short Bat Truss sections. It was great. For the floor package we used Martin MAC Viper AirFX fixtures upstage, and they gave a good ground-based texture.”
Taking the inspiration from Craig’s TV show appearances, seven vertical structures were used behind the DJ riser. Abbiss explains how these were lit.
“For the TV shows I believe MiStrips were used, but we needed more dynamic fixtures for the tour. The uprights had Wands from Light Initiative on each of them, with GLP impression X4 Bar 20 battens placed horizontally along them. I chose them because they have a wider angle of view, and to give a better show to the audience who were seated alongside the stage.”
Emma continues: “Abbiss and I worked collaboratively across the entire design, not just the lighting side. Abbiss did all of the drawings and renders, dealt with all of my creative ‘moments’ and really allowed me to push on some of the finer details. Hopefully he will work with me again!”
In transitioning from one section of the show to the other, there were some technical challenges of the design, which Sam Kruger and Wob Roberts handled. Emma explains: “There were considerations regarding the backline set up and how we transitioned from a band show into a DJ show, but Sam Kruger very much took on the role of the design from a technical point of view, and between Sam and Wob, they very much let me take care of the look and focus on working with Craig and the show overall, whilst they dealt with the detail and the clever stuff.”
Emma’s visual design was supported by PRG XL Video, who brought in specialist Phil Woodhead from Thundering Jacks to work with Emma and Content Director Judy Jacob to give the show a distinctive look. Emma comments: "The team from PRG really played a huge part in the success of the show. Phil Woodhead was really great during the pre-production design process. He met with Judy and I to go through the capabilities of the Video Dust software, and that helped to shape how I approached the looks.”
Phil was Video Director on the tour, mixing shots from a variety of fixed HD cameras, mini and robo-cams located at front of house, and onstage.
Thundering Jacks’ Video Dust/Catalyst software loaded on one of PRG XL’s media server racks provided the playback content and this was engineered by Stuart Merser. Emma explains Stuart’s input: “Stuart Merser also played a big part in getting the show to where I wanted it to be in a tight production rehearsal period. Having worked with him previously, he was able to quickly get things to a place he knew worked for my aesthetic.”
For the mid-show transition the production team brought in a Metallic Bobbinet from Gerriets, and two of PRG XL’s Barco 20k projectors, fed by the Catalyst/Video Dust projected on to the semi-transparent surface. Abbiss used a single Clay Paky Sharpy wash light as a downlighter. Craig was filmed behind the gauze and that image was projected during the transition.
Emma was pleased with the result: “There were challenges as always with touring shows, but the projection element that formed the transition between the two sections of the show exceeded my expectation in terms of the impact, and I know the guys on the crew had to really work to make that happen.”
Photos: Nicky Kelvin
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