HSL, XL Video Support Snow Patrol Tour

PLSN Staff • International News • March 13, 2009

LONDON — HSL is supplying lighting, a 26-point Kinesys automation system and crew for Snow Patrol’s “One Hundred Million Suns” tour. XL Video UK is also working in conjunction with Blink TV to supply LED screen, digital lighting, projection, cameras, control and crew for the world tour, currently in the UK and Europe. The result is a mix of four visual mediums — lighting, digital lighting, video and movement — and the tour is also the first to feature Barco’s DLM 1200 digital moving lights (XL supplied four).

The creative team includes Davy Sherwin (lighting & visuals designer), Robin Haddow (live visuals director) and video director Blue Leach, who work together to give the visuals a seamless, fluid look.

HSL and project manager Mike Oates are renewing their acquaintance with the band after working with them throughout 2007. Oates said, “It’s just brilliant to be involved on a show that looks this good. An incredible amount of hard work, ideas, imagination and intelligence has gone into making it work, and the end results speak for themselves.”

Sherwin’s design start point was running a few ideas by the band and coming up with a general LED and moving light “vibe” that he felt suited the mood and music of the new album.

That concept extended to the metalwork layout, and Sherwin chose to have five raked upstage/downstage trusses referencing back to the sun rays of the album title. These are hinged down at the upstage end, allowing them to be flown in and close up to the performance space for the more intimate moments.

Upstage, behind eight columns of Barco O-lite video screen, are five lighting pods each continuing four Vari*Lite 3500 Wash fixtures and two Martin Professional Atomic Colors. These pods are also rigged on Kinesys motors so they can glide in and out during the show for “powerful old skool ACL effects,” Sherwin said.

Lighting fixtures are distributed across the fingers and on the floor. He’s using 34 Robe ColorWash 2500E ATs — 30 in the rig and four on the downstage corners of stage for powerful side lighting. Twenty V*L 3000 Spots are positioned in the air with a further eight upstage on the floor, used for moody low level beam and gobo effects cutting through the band and backline.

Twenty i-Pix BB4s — 4 per finger — are lined up along the underside of each finger, following the line of the truss. These provide an alternative source for washing the stage. Sherwin particularly likes the color range and the quality of the pastels they produce. Five BB16 blinders are positioned on the downstage ends of the fingers — used for mega-bright audience blinding effects.

In addition to the 10 Atomics on the pods, there are another 20 dotted around the rig and six upstage on the floor, along with five 4-cell Moles with scrollers which add a bright tungsten source that pushes out from behind the backline.

Side lighting is further supplemented with three 2-lites a side, complete with black-wrap “eyelids” keeping them tightly focused on illuminating the front floor line.

The upstage truss has a kabuki drop that reveals a white trevira fabric projection surface, used for the final of three sections of an elaborate gag at the end of the gig.

The front truss consists of a shallow box. On the front rail is another white trevira fabric kabuki drop which comes in during the encore break. The four Robert Juliat Ivanhoe 2.5K followspots are also located on this box, used to light a neat path to the stage with minimum overspill.

It’s Leach’s second Snow Patrol tour. “Davy and Robin are really into a fully integrated workflow that unites all departments, and I am very much of that same mindset, so it’s a complete joy to be on this,” he said, of the experimental collaboration of visual elements.

Once the design was finalized, and before rehearsals, Sherwin started programming on an ESP Vision visualizer system. After recording each song onto hard drive, he rendered it as a QuickTime movie and sent it to Leach.

That way, when Leach and Haddow were creating and programming the screen looks, colors and effects, they could mirror and reference Sherwin’s lighting cues.

For control, HSL is supplying three WholeHog 3 consoles. One, complete with USB wing, is operated by Sherwin. The other, operated by Haddow, triggers three Catalyst media servers running all the video playback content and sending all video sources to screens or to four Barco digital moving lights. The third is a backup.

The Kinesys system, which also lifts the eight columns of O-Lite up and down, is piloted by Rupert Reynolds, who uses Vector control software to make the complex motion effects look effortless.

Also onboard from HSL are crew members Ian Lomas, Tim Oliver, Rob Starksfield, Tom Wright and Andy Hilton, chiefed by Johnny Harper.

“HSL are great to work with as always — the kit’s in good condition and the crew are fantastic,” Sherwin said.

The eight columns of Barco O-Lite LED screen each measure 13.5 feet high. The 16 point Kinesys automation system lets the screen split into a variety of different formations and move up and down. The movement cues also allow lights upstage of the screen to blast through the gaps.

“The way Blue, Davy and Robin have developed the ‘bigger picture’ is the result of fervent imagination and crafting,” said XL Video project managers Phil Mercer and Jo Beirne.

There are four of XL’s Sony D35 operated cameras — two on track-and-dolly in the pit, one hand-held onstage and one with long lens at FOH — plus two robo-cams in the roof trusses.

Five mini-cams dotted all over the stage are used very specifically, with another one beside Leach at his FOH mix position, so he can grab it an improvize if he wants.

Leach mixes with a GV Kayak switcher. It was a no-brainer that FOH would be the best position for this, as he needed to be in close proximity to Sherwin and Haddow.

Leach has two Xander flat screen preview monitors instead of a bank of nine-inch screens. He is also using a Medialon touch screen system to add effects quickly and easily to the camera feeds.

Four of these are then sent to Haddow for outputting to the O-lite screen or to any or all of the four Barco DML 1200 digital moving lights via the three XL-supplied Catalyst digital media servers.

The end-of-show gag includes a 16 minute animated mini-movie produced by Splinter films, who developed a treatment received from Leach based on original ideas from lead singer Gary Lightbody.

The movie accompanies the three-part song “The Lightning Strikes” and is projected sequentially onto the two trevira cloth kabuki surfaces, and also onto the O-lite.

The projection system for this — and for a short Etch-O-Graph style show intro — is a doubled up pair of Barco FLM 20s stationed at FOH, and the movie, along with all the other playback footage used in the show, is stored in the Catalysts.

Some of the camera feeds sent to Haddow are pre-treated by Leach and some are manipulated in the Catalyst before Haddow sends to the designated destination. The DML 1200s are used at certain points to project video and images around the arena or onto the audience and more unusual and unexpected places.

Six days of production rehearsals at Wembley Arena produced some long days for Leach, Sherwin and Haddow as they worked the show into shape, an operation also involving HSL’s Reynolds on the Kinesys.

XL’s crew includes engineer Gerry Corry, LED tech and camera operator Al Bolland, projectionist and camera operator Dave Rogers, ped camera operator Darren Montague, hand-held operator Jamie Cowlin and screen tech Graham Vinall.

For more information, please visit www.hslgroup.com and www.xlvideo.tv.

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