PRG Continues Support Of U2 Tour In North America

by PLSN Staff • in
  • News
• Created: October 8, 2009

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TAMPA — Following the European leg, the U2 360° Tour is breaking stadium attendance records on this side of the Atlantic, with a production design that can be safely said to be unlike any seen before. U2’s show director/designer Willie Williams, working with production architect/designer Mark Fisher and production director Jake Berry, has designed a structure that is the largest ever constructed for a concert tour and created an equally distinctive lighting design.

Williams opted to use the PRG Bad Boy luminaire as his primary automated light for illumination. “The throw distances that we are dealing with are much longer then you would normally ever deal with for all the lighting positions, never mind the lights around the stadium,” Williams said. “Even the closest lights to the stage are an 80’ throw and the ones on the legs are nearer a 100-foot throw. There is no way you could use old school moving lights, plus I needed a light that would not just reach and wash but would be able to have texture.”

So far, Williams has no regrets with his choice of gear. “I think it is fair to say they have been remarkable. They have fared very well on tour,” he said. “The throw distances in some of the larger stadiums has been huge, but so far we've never been in a situation where they've run out of gas. Their primary advantage is the brightness, combined with stability. Being able to produce interesting gobo textures on the audience over large distances has been very useful. Plus, all the crew feedback has been very positive about handling them.”

“We’ve all been very impressed with the Bad Boy,” added lighting director Ethan Weber. “Its intensity and zoom range made it the perfect light for this tour. The color system took a bit of getting used to, but it’s worth it for the extra intensity and pure colors that the color wheels allow. It’s been fun playing with the zoom, seeing how much of a stadium we can light with a single light. We lit 90,000 people in the biggest stadiums in Europe with 24 lights.” While Weber handles all the automated fixtures, lighting associate Alex Murphy calls all the followspot cues for the 19 spots and controls the LEDs in the set with the PRG Mbox EXtreme Media Server.

PRG’s Concert Touring group supplied the entire lighting package for the tour, which also included the PRG Series 400 Power and Data Distribution System. The S400 combines power, DMX and Ethernet data through a single custom-designed trunk cable. The data system includes Ethernet switches with the ability to route any DMX universe to any DMX output connector in the system, along with complete electrical isolation.

The power and data system for the U2 tour was designed by systems crew chief Craig Hancock, who worked closely with Jeremy Lloyd and Nick Evans of Fisher’s Stufish studio integrating the lighting system into the actual structural system.

“We use fiber optic cables between the legs and one fiber optic cable up into the roof structure,” said Hancock. “That is the great thing about having the PRG Virtuoso Node Plusses and the S400 Fiber Switches, they all work in line with the Series 400 system. I can use external equipment like dimmer racks and other equipment with no headaches at all.”

Because the Series 400 distributes Art-Net, it helped with cue reaction time, Hancock added. “With the sheer scale of the structure and having the satellite lighting positions around the stadium we were very concerned about the network speed and the cue reaction time.”

Williams has been pleased with PRG’s efforts on behalf of the tour. “At the end of the day it is about people, and if you don’t have the right people, it is just not going to happen,” he said. “They have been really good.”

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