Maroon 5’s “Overexposed” Tour: Focus on Video

in Production Profile

Maroon 5 Overexposed tour photo by Steve JenningsMaroon 5’s Overexposed world tour, which ran through late April in the U.S. and is set to resume in the U.K. and Europe in Jan. 2014, has emerged as the largest production for the band to date and also marked the first time production designer and creative director Demfis Fyssicopulos worked with the Grammy winning group. The design for the tour’s latest incarnation starts with a large mainstage in the shape of the letter “M,” which works together with the Roman symbol for “5” (a “V”) that doubles as the downward-pointing angle for the “M.”

Maroon 5 Overexposed tour photo by Steve JenningsThe stage, built with projection-friendly surfaces, also allows the audience to get very close to the band and offers different areas for lead singer Adam Levine to move around, reaching out into the audience without the band or singer seeming overpowered by the set itself.

“This is one of the larger sets that the group has done, and Demfis gave the performers a really large canvas to work with,” says Brian Levine, project manager at Tait, which provided the mainstage, B-stage and automation elements for the tour. “He gave them the ability to get really close to the audience while not swallowing them up. It works great.”

Maroon 5 Overexposed tour photo by Steve JenningsLED Surfaces Abound

A number of video surfaces play a key role in Fyssicopulos’ overall design, including video wallpaper on the band risers, LED pucks integrated into the stage and, of course, the massive video column wall that backs the entire mainstage. That video wall is broken into three distinct sections, with two side screens of WinVision 9mm LED product and a center screen of WinVision 12mm LED. All of the screens are sectioned into rotating columns, giving the designer a wide array of looks that support his content designs.

Maroon 5 Overexposed tour photo by Steve Jennings“The rear video wall is made of three screens that are further broken down into 10 individual rotating columns, each eight feet wide by 30 feet high,” explains Fyssicopulos. “When they are all rotated at 0°, it looks like three screens that converge into each other. The columns each track left and right and then can rotate 90° to reveal light ladders behind it.” Fyssicopulos has an array of 144 Clay Paky Sharpy units on the light ladders behind the video wall to blow through the space when the panels are open. Upstaging provided the lighting package for the tour, including two grandMA 2 consoles (one for backup), with VER also providing Solaris Flare LED strobes.

Maroon 5 Overexposed tour photo by Steve JenningsThere is also a bridge that flies in, connecting the mainstage to the B-Stage, which is another way Fyssicopulos provides the band with a dynamic way to relate to the audience. “Demfis was after a way to get Adam [Levine] and the performers out to the B-Stage elegantly,” Brian Levine continues. “He had us build a custom flying bridge that was hung from variable-speed chain motors. The bridge lowers in and connects the tip of the mainstage to the B-Stage. The cool thing about the 45-by-5-foot bridge is that it flat packs into 10 feet of truck space. On the sides of the bridge, we’d made LED lightboxes that synch with video. Certainly, getting over to the B-Stage on a bridge that comes in is a real cool way to get them up over the audience and closer to more fans while offering a whole new look to the show.”

Maroon 5 Overexposed tour photo by Steve JenningsAlong with the mainstage, B-stage and automation elements, Tait handles the scenic automation control of the columns and the B-stage bridge using the Tait/FTSI Navigator automation system.

“The video walls allowed them a lot of different moves with content,” Brian Levine says. “With the automation system, they could key it up with the content, separate them as needed, and then rotate them. The walls are suspended from a custom Tait rotator on our video track truss system, so they pivot and rotate individually. Since they are all individually controlled, he could wipe from left to right, for example; he can just open the center; just the left; and so on. The design offers a real range of looks.” The designer agrees, saying, “The screen rotators turned out great. They allowed us to show a plethora of screen configurations and walls of light, giving the show very different and dynamic looks.”

Maroon 5 Overexposed tour photo by Steve JenningsThe M-shaped mainstage is outlined by a single row of Galaxia Electronics A-Deco 9dots video pucks along the perimeter of the stage. Since the video pucks weren’t designed to be inlaid into the deck, Tait made custom mounts for them. “The thing is, when you’re inlaying a video puck into a deck, it still needs to be very accessible for service if it gets damaged; so the challenge was keeping an elegant look while still being able to the pucks. We worked with Chaos to come up with a solution that allowed us to inlay the pucks, be able to access them from above and be able to travel in the decks.” There are more than 400 video pucks in the decks, and the feature creates a nice contrast, as the M-shape was illuminated in the darkened arena. Chaos Visual Productions supplied the LED video products and VER fabricated an LED guitar as well as an LED mic stand for Adam Levine.

Maroon 5 Overexposed tour photo by Steve JenningsThe fronts of the band risers are covered with flexible VER 10mm LED wallpaper in Tait’s custom-built brackets, which allow the LEDs to remain on their frames and travel intact on a set cart; there was no need to attach individual LEDs for every tour stop’s load-in. “The fascia came in large pieces and uses the Tait Mag Deck system,” says Brian Levine. “They can attach these panels right to the band risers, which are also the Mag Deck System. That’s all about making sure there’s a perfect pixel pitch and the frames are strong enough to support and align with each other.”

“The main decks and band riser look beautiful, and the bridge is a beautiful architectural piece on its own,” says Fyssicopulos, who also credited Tait for their set construction, automation and attention to detail. “They innovate and create solutions to realize the vision of the designer like no other company, and their customer support is unparalleled.”

Maroon 5 Overexposed tour photo by Steve JenningsVideo Looms Large

Fyssicopulos, who worked with Roger Staub of Infect Productions on the video content, also leverages technologies that let the content be generated, to a degree, by the music itself. “He was very specific on his ideas; his concept was very clear from the beginning,” Staub says, of Fyssicopulos. “It’s all about the video — the video wall is big and very prominent. The raster size was 2,500 pixels wide by 960 pixels high. There are 16 songs with no I-Mag and full video coverage. There are only five or six songs with I-Mag coverage, and two songs are specifically the audio reactive control using Control Freak’s ADAMS servers.”

Maroon 5 Overexposed tour photo by Steve JenningsWorking with Control Freak Systems (CFS), who provided the complete video control solution, Fyssicopulos was looking for creative flexibility. Incorporating the CFS ADAMS into the production offered just that. ADAMS, which stands for Audio Driven Awesome Media Server, is an audio reactive system for dynamic video control. “This is a system that can draw graphics, but the graphics are influenced by the actual waveforms that are created when the musicians play, whether it’s the vocals, the drums, the guitar, or whatever,” explains the developer of ADAMS, CFS’ George Toledo, who specializes in developing music visualizers. “I’ve been making music visualizers for a long time. It solves the issue of when you want to put graphics to a live band; you used to be locked into whatever had been rendered. If an artist wants to improvise or interact with the audience, it makes the operators really have to scramble. ADAMS gives operators a visual instrument to play along with the musicians. They can call up graphics, different types of visual effects like blurring or pixelating the graphics in different ways, color changes, all those kinds of parameters, and they respond to what the performer is playing at that moment — not just what was planned, but what might be being improvised.”

Maroon 5 Overexposed tour photo by Steve JenningsThe CFS ADAMS system takes one, or multiple, audio input into the servers. There’s the potential to blend up to four visualizers. Even though ADAMS is an off-the-shelf product, it is made with modules, so new or custom visualizers can be added as needed. Demfis had some visual references, and we worked back and forth prior to me coming onsite when we worked out some more modules,” says Toledo. “We used a combination of custom and built-in modules in ADAMS. The ADAMS app has the visualizers themselves, and then has a palette of effects that can process it, so a lot of times you can blend four visualizers and then process them with two effects in series. So by the time the operator starts blending different stuff, it is going to end up being very unique and custom-looking. I see effects I never even imagined.”

Maroon 5 Overexposed tour photo by Steve JenningsModifying the Automation

Fyssicopulos describes the way he worked with the ADAMS system. “You end up with a good amount of control over it,” he says. “Essentially, the best analogy is that it’s like the iTunes visualizer —  you can actually affect parameters as you wish. I had one specific look for “One More Night.” I wanted to create a virtual set that would look like a wall made out of cubes, but each cube would light up audio reactively. We rotated the panels so it looked like we had three video walls, and then on those video walls, we made it look like it was three gigantic 30-foot-high set pieces that were walls of cubes. Then each cube would light up individually according to the sound; one of the band members triggered samples, each lit up a different pattern. George kept on developing as we needed and he created that particular virtual set piece with the audio reactive effects.”

Maroon 5 Overexposed tour photo by Steve JenningsFor the song, “This Love,” there’s an iconic guitar solo at the end of the song that Adam Levine plays. “That look was 100 percent the CFS control system,” points out Fyssicopulos. “The center screen has an affected I-Mag of Adam Levine that we affect to make it look sepia. We put an audio reactive oscilloscope from ADAMS on the band riser LED and the LED that’s wrapping the instruments. That looked absolutely incredible. Throughout the whole show, at points in and out, we use the ADAMS server. We built an LED guitar for guitar player James Valentine. There are times when he’s playing it that it’s audio reactive, so you can see an oscilloscope on the guitar itself, and the oscilloscope transposes onto the LED screens at times, or the band riser. We do the same thing with the drummer; there’s one part where he does a solo as a part of ‘Misery.’ We put in a graphical equalizer that’s responsive to his kick and snares on all of the LED screens and band riser and the LED that covers his entire drum set.”

Maroon 5 Overexposed tour photo by Steve JenningsIn addition to the LED-covered instruments, there is an LED mic stand that can be an audio reactive effect. Fyssicopulos explains, “We mapped the kick drum to it so it looks like a one-bar equalizer; it goes up and down with the music. It’s a clear tube with LEDs inside, and we’re sending video to it. It’s audio reactive, but also when it’s not audio reactive, because we control it from the CFS system, we’re able to change colors of the video. It ties in with the entire show; it doesn’t just sit there in one color. As the video progresses, it mimics what the video is doing.”

Maroon 5 Overexposed tour photo by Steve JenningsDuring the programming of the tour, Fyssicopulos took advantage of the CFS Freakulizer to previsualize the video content for the production. Stuart White, CFS Senior Solutions Designer, built a model from Fyssicopulos designs with all of the LED surfaces so the team, including CFS programmer Kevin Cauley, could program the video in real time. “Control Freak was invaluable for this show,” Fyssicopulos says. “The soft visuals for this show, aside from lasers and lighting, could not have been done without Control Freak Systems; there is no other company in the world that could have done this. Between the LED surface manipulation to the I-Mag manipulation to the audio reactive and the playback of the content, everything went through Control Freak Systems at one point or the other.”

Maroon 5 Overexposed Tour

Production Companies

Video/Visuals: Chaos Visual Productions, Control Freak Systems, Infect Productions, VER

Scenic/Automation: Tait

Lighting: Upstaging, Inc.

Special Effects: Pyrotek


Tour Manager: Fred Kharrazi

Production Manager: Alan Hornall

Production Designer/Creative Director: Demfis Fyssicopulos

Content Creation: Roger Staub, Infect Productions

Lighting Director/Programmer: Brian Jenkins

Video Programmer: Kevin Cauley, Control Freak Systems

Senior Project Manager: Brian Levine, Tait

Senior Solutions Designer: Stuart White, Control Freak Systems

ADAMS App Developer: George Toledo, Control Freak Systems

Project Manager: Ryan Middlemiss, Control Freak Systems

Video Director: John Hayes, Chaos Visual Productions

Video Crew Chief: Rusty Wingfield, Chaos Visual Productions

Video Engineer: Jon Schulman, Chaos Visual Productions

Lead Projectionist/Camera: Steven Burkholder, Chaos Visual Productions

Lead LED Tech: Jeff Gainer, Chaos Visual Productions

Lead Camera Operator: Chris Campbell, Chaos Visual Productions

Hippo/LED Tech: Randall Garriott, Chaos Visual Productions

Projectionist/Camera: Nicholas Strand, Chaos Visual Productions

Lighting Crew Chief: Michael Green, Upstaging, Inc.

Lighting Technicians: Wade Cotton, Travis Robinson, Josh Wilson, Jason Winfree; Upstaging, Inc.

Laser Programmer: Erik Taylor, Pyrotek

Video Gear

Supplied by Control Freak Systems

1 CFS Encore DMX Bridge

1 CFS Multi Tap Server

408 Reverse Pixel Mapping to Control the Stage LED Pucks

Custom VU Meter Mic Stand Control

1 CFS ADAMS Audio Reactive Server

Custom Module for MIDI Triggers Reacts to Band Member Samples

1 CFS 32x32 Video Router

2 Avitech Multiviewers

2 Barco Encore Routers

Supplied by Chaos Visual Productions and VER

1 Grass Valley Kayak 1.5 ME Video Switcher

4 Green Hippo Dual Output HD Media Servers

8 Folsom Image Pros

4 Sony HD Camera HXC 100 HD PPU

10 Barco FLM-R22+ 22K Projectors

408 Galaxia Electronics A-Deco 9dots

1 32’x30’ 12mm WinVision LED Screen

2 24’x30’ 9mm WinVision LED Screens

VER 10mm LED Wallpaper Fascias for Band Risers

VER Custom LED Guitar

VER Custom LED Mic Stand

Solaris Flare LED Strobes

Scenic Elements/Automation from Tait

1 Tait MAG Deck M-Shaped main stage

1 Tait 16’x16’ B-Stage

1 Tait/FTSI Navigator automation control system

1 Tait Custom 45’x5’ aluminum bridge

12 Tait Video Rotators with Custom Bumpers and Alignment Brackets

Tait Custom Bike-Rail Style Barricades

Tait Kabuki and Drape Sniffer System

For more Maroon 5 tour photos by Steve Jennings, go to