CT Gives Lionel Richie’s European Tour LED Wings

by PLSN Staff • in
  • International News
• Created: June 8, 2009

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LONDON —Lionel Richie recently completed his European tour in support of Just Go, which included shows in major arenas and smaller theatres. Lars Brogaard, who had worked previously with Richie back in the early 1980s, took on overall production management duties for the tour.

Brogaard worked with the artist’s designers, Chris Medvitz and Jeffrey Hornaday, and with Creative Technology’s managing director Dave Crump to create a panoramic, three-dimensional stage set based around Barco hi-resolution daylight LED screens and switching and layering from a Vista Spyder processor.

The set’s design features included two front landscape “wings” butted into a “V” shape and constructed from Barco OLite 612, 12mm DMD LED tiles, with seven columns of 1.5-meter-by-6-meter 24mm pixel pitch Barco MiTrix as the semi-transparent stage backdrop.

Reverting from the original trapezoidal plan, the two front rectangular screens were positioned off center, with the display at stage left measuring 15m wide and 2.8m high and the smaller one spanning an 11 meter width. The idea was to use simple geometrics to optimize the visuals in lieu of more expensive custom effects.

Completing the displays were two outflanking soft I-Mag fast-fold screens, lit by a pair of Barco FLM R20 20,000 lumens projectors, which were added in at the rehearsal stage.

CT’s Willis Spencer was the video director; John Basile was the vision engineer; Ray White and Rob Brewer were LED technicians, Paul Barry handled LED and projection and Stuart Young served as project manager.

Every display was pixel-matched to fit the format, with all signals relayed in native resolution to ensure there was no image degradation. “Since there is a lot of video in the show we knew that scaling would have compromised quality,” Crump noted.

For the most part the wing screens displayed pre-recorded custom content, created by the artist’s long-term LD Chris Medvitz, although when these displayed live camera feeds, Spencer was able to exploit the full facility of Spyder.

“This was ideal territory for Spyder,” said Crump. “It’s a multi-format, multi-switching compositing system which is far more powerful than anything else we have. We invested heavily in this, principally for the corporate sector — but in the entertainment environment everyone who uses it loves it, particularly the way in which the system was conceived.”

CT supplied a three-camera PPU in the shape of manned Sony DS55 cameras and two Sony remote pan and tilt minicams. These were fed through a conventional production environment, based around a FOR-A 2M/E vision mixer.

The company also supplied the Martin 1920-by-1080 HD Maxedia content server, which stored all the pre-recorded content and handled the pixel-mapping. Lighting board operator Joel Young triggered this from his Martin Maxxys desk.

While one channel of Maxedia fired all the content, pixel-matched onto the MiTrix, the second output provided a DVI feed to the Vista Spyder, which also took direct inputs from each camera and the vision mixer.

“Spyder is configured to enable us to drop in PIP’s (picture-in-picture), showing the live camera as a single image or up to five live images running at the same time. All the output is in the same format so there is no scaling whatsoever.”

“Lionel Richie’s production wanted optimum image quality and the ability to show multiple images, with good vertical resolution and minimal latency,” Crump noted. “This is exactly what we gave them, and everyone was over the moon.”

As for lighting, Neg Earth mixed generics with automated fixtures, including quantities of Coemar Infinity XL wash lights, HES Studio Command 1200s, Martin Mac 2000 (Profiles and Washes) and Mac 700s, with Thomas PixelLine 110ec battens and Color Kinetics Color Blaze 72 LED effects.

They also supplied all the trussing and chain hoists for the LED screens, with Neg Earth’s crew chief Steve Arch supported by Jim Mills, Chris Lambourne, Dennis Gardner and Ty Brooks.

“This tour has been unbelievable,” he said. “I have had the best crew from the get-go. It’s been one big happy family — and Lionel is the easiest guy in the world to work with,” Brogaard said.

For more information, please visit www.ctlondon.com and www.ctus.com.

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