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Arcade Fire’s ‘Infinite Content’ Tour

by PLSN Staff • in
  • Articles
  • December 2017
  • Designer Insights
• Created: December 14, 2017
PRG provuded the screens above the stage. All photos by Steve Jennings

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We caught up with Canadian rock band Arcade Fire on their “Infinite Content” tour in Denver, CO, where the eight member band, including husband and wife Win Butler and Regine Chassagne, Win’s brother William Butler and the rest of the band swap places and an array of instruments throughout the show. The tour continues into 2018 for dates in the United Kingdom and ends in March in Madrid, Spain. We spoke with creative director Tarik Mikou (of Moment Factory), lighting designer & director Chris Bushell and video director Icarus Wilson-Wright.

Clever beam focus emulates the boxing ring's ropes. Arcade tour photos by Steve Jennings

Tarik Mikou
Creative Director

At the top of the show, the band members are introduced over the PA system while they walk through the audience to the in-the-round stage, just like the start of a boxing match. This was Win Butler’s wish, and “he wanted us to explore the idea further,” notes Mikou.

“For the beginning of the show with the boxing ropes, that was an element we tweaked until the very last minute. We wanted the look to be very close to an original boxing ring, while making sure the audience in the front had no obstruction.

“I immediately fell in love with the concept, and we brought an interesting perspective to the design. The band has performed end-of-stage for years, and for this tour, the in-the-round approach felt like the different thing to do. There’s a proximity created in this show that brings the audience literally in the visual realm of the whole show. Our light columns and disco lights extend to the audience and help create an immersive 360 experience in the arena.”

GLP X4 Bar Battens surround the perimeter of the rig Photo by Steve Jennings

Moment Factory has been around for more than 15 years. They’re a one stop shop where any band can work directly with a creative director, set designer, lighting designer, technical director and more.

“We work in close collaboration with the bands and artists to create memorable collective experiences. We spent a lot of time testing, programming, making mistakes and innovating where we can. We spent important days on site sculpting the details [and] planning out each technical scenario so that when it’s time for the premiere, we’re ready.

“We had some great collaborations on this tour with SGPS, Scene Éthique, etc. For Arcade Fire, with all their band members, we had to make sure that the 360 stage was designed while considering all eventuality and complexity of the performance, maximizing the space on stage with our rotating drum riser and small platform stations for the band to climb on, as well for better sight lines.”

SGPS provided the automation. 2017 Arcade Fire tour photo by Steve Jennings

Chris Bushell
Lighting Designer & Director

With limited experience of lighting an in-the-round show, it was interesting to see how the band’s performance translated onto the boxing ring stage. However, despite the obvious challenges for all departments, I think it was a natural and exciting change all round, says Bushell.

“There is, of course, the sudden dilemma that one side’s key-light is the other side’s back-light — especially with so many band members on a relatively compact stage. But I think with the band and Tarik Mikou’s aesthetic, the desire to create epic cinematic scenes meant we were able to light creatively with mainly just simple but considered gestures. This meant I had scope to just add in a gentle key-light from all sides to try and tip the contrast in the I-mag camera’s favor. But yes, keeping that many people on all four sides, lit in a camera-friendly way, was a challenge.”

PRG's ICON fixtures were used. 2017 Arcade Fire tour photo by Steve Jennings

Jennifer Christiansen, (PRG Las Vegas) was the lighting rep for the North American tour, notes Bushell.

“During the design process, both Jennifer and Yvonne Donnelly Smith from PRG in the UK had helped me in choosing the Icon Edge and GLP JDC1 fixtures. We were still coming to the end of the festival run in the summer, and so we had to find time and space to go demo various options for the arena tour. We already had the Icon Beam fixtures out over the summer on the festival design, along with the GLP X4 Bar20’s.

“The band’s performance and energy in this format certainly calls for epic-yet-focused scenes for them to perform in. I think to try and pick out individuals throughout the show on this layout risks looking a bit fussy. There are a few moments during the show when we drop down and draw the focus in on one person, even to just a single spotlight. I think keeping these as specific events adds to the power of the moment. I also believe the intention is to avoid the appearance of an over-choreographed show. Something that certainly wouldn’t suit, and would distract from, the immersive nature of this design.”

Mikou and Moment Factory wanted to create this tangible cage of light, that contained the stage, immersing the audience within it. And that echoed the boxing ring rope motif, explains Bushell.

“We used PRG Icon Beams, as they had proved themselves over the summer in a similar function. They were on custom ladder frames, each draped and branded to mask the spill from the aligning fixtures on the next tower. They were on two servo motors each for motion control and held steady by three RSC Lightlocks each. The Lightlocks, combined with the accuracy of the servo motors, meant that pan/tilt positions on the Icon Beams remained solid as the cage moved up and down.”

360 ROE Creative Display MC 7H LED Tiles were in use. 2017 Arcade Fire tour photo by Steve Jennings

Icarus Wilson-Wright
Video Director

This is the first time video director Icarus Wilson-Wright has worked with the band. He first heard about the tour from Chris Bushell whom he had previously worked with on James Blake’s tour.

“It was a pleasure hearing from PM Bob O’Brien about coming on board for the tour as video director. The band members are arty, driven, complicated, demanding, and most of all — Nice people. The biggest challenge is the set list and the song order. Nothing is really fixed. There are lots of changes from night to night, no time-code (which is nice) and the sudden appearance of new or old songs that require treatments and looks.

“With eight band members on stage swapping positions, it can feel like organized chaos but it’s very disciplined whilst remaining quite emotionally charged. That’s a hard thing to do, so hats off to them!

“I’m in communication with Mark O’Herlihy (PRG Nocturne account rep) and Wolfgang Schram (PRG Nocturne director of engineering) who makes it all work — a great team there at PRG. I work at FOH next to Chris (Bushell) during the show, we don’t use intercom to communicate during the show, we’re independent save for a few facial expressions, grimaces and imaginary high fives!

“We have a great team of people working to produce what is a demanding and unusual show in-the-round. Charles “Woody” Woods does an awesome job cutting two unique feeds for the screens. Clarke Anderson handles very demanding lighting conditions for an engineer’s point of view and still finds time to get the Robocam shots. Then Dylan Taylor leads the LED/Camera team that has made my life very easy on tour, and finally the ROE Creative Display MC7 screen for imagery has worked out perfectly for this show.” 

Icarus Wilson Wright and Chris Bushell with their Avo Titans. 2017 Arcade Fire tour photo by Steve Jennings

Arcade Fire “Infinite Content” Tour

Crew

Production Companies:

  • Lighting & Video: PRG Nocturne
  • Staging & Automation: SGPS
  • Boxing Ring Elements: Scene Ethique, Version Image Plus,
  • Barry Cordage Ltd and Canvas M.J. Inc.

Moment Factory had a team of designers working on this project. 2017 Arcade Fire tour photo by Steve Jennings

 Moment Factory Team:

  • Creative Director: Tarik Mikou
  • Producer: Daniel Jean
  • Technical Director: James Richardson
  • Production Designer: Jean-Baptiste Hardoin
  • Content Director: Aude Guivarc’h
  • Touch Designer Programmers: Hugo Daoust, Alexandre Lustigman
  • Motion Designer: Manuel Galaneau
  • Video Systems Integrator: Paul Chinnery
  • Production Coordinator: Karine Gagnon

4' mirrorballs rigged in the house. 2017 Arcade Fire tour photo by Steve Jennings

Production Crew:

  • Lighting Designer & Director: Chris Bushell
  • Tour Manager: Rebecca Travis
  • Production Manager: Bob O’Brien
  • Head of Lighting: Scott Naef
  • Dimmer Tech: Corey Tom
  • Video Director: Icarus Wilson-Wright
  • Camera Director: Charles Woods
  • Head LED: Dylan Taylor
  • Video Engineer: Clarke Anderson
  • Head of Automation: Robert Flood
  • Head Rigger: Amos Cotter

disguise 4x4 Pro servers manipulate the imagery. 2017 Arcade Fire tour photo by Steve Jennings

Gear

Lighting:

  • 2               Avolites Sapphire Touch consoles
  • 4               Titan Net processors
  • 28            PRG Icon Edge fixtures
  • 44            PRG Icon Beams
  • 44            Claypaky Sharpy Washes
  • 36            GLP JDC1 strobes
  • 31            GLP X4 Bar 20’s
  • 12            GLP X4 Bar 10’s
  • 18            Solaris Flares
  • 28            Par 64s
  • 20            Mole fay 8-lamps
  • 9               Custom vintage lamps
  • 2               Mirror Balls (48”)
  • 12            RSC Lightlock units
  • 12            MDG smoke machines
  • 2               MDG the One units

Stark looks on stage augmented by colorful video. 2017 Arcade Fire tour photo by Steve Jennings

Video:

  • 360         ROE Creative Display MC-7H LED tiles (7mm). For four 10.8 x 3m screens. (400 x 5760 pixels)
  • 5               HD Camera P’s
  • 4               HD Robo Cams
  • 8               HD Mini Cams
  • 2               disguise Media Server 4×4 Pro
  • 2               Moment Factory custom touch designer racks

 

 More Arcade Fire ‘Infinite Content’ tour photos by Steve Jennings:

{gallery}17/12/arcadefire{/gallery}

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