XL Video for The Kaiser Chiefs

PLSN Staff • International News • March 11, 2009

LONDON — XL Video is supplying 180 Spider 40 LED tiles, a Catalyst digital media server and crew for the Kaiser Chiefs current “Off With Their Heads” tour. These elements play a key role in Richard Larkum's lighting and visual design, and take the look and feel of the Kaiser’s almost non-stop touring schedule over the last two years to a new level. "The band and I were determined that any 'video' elements interfaced seamlessly with the lighting,” Larkum said. He also wanted a digital lightsource with its own visual integrity, and definitely not a massive LED surface that dominated the performance space.

Larkum looked at several different product options before choosing the low resolution Spider 40 to form the “textural backdrop” he envisioned. Its semi-transparency was well suited for his requirement that it melt into the upstage wall of lights. Its light weight also allowed it to be rigged in the random fashion he wanted, and the BNC cabling is straightforward.

"It's always fun and exciting working with Richard — his ideas are innovative and varied and he never loses sight of the basic elements of lighting a band onstage well, and for the enjoyment of the audience," said XL UK project manager Jo Beirne

The "lighting tiles," as they've became known on the tour, are configured as 38 different-sized screens, ranging from singles to 3 by 3s, all hung asymmetrically with steels from the eight overhead trusses, with the lowest ones rigged on floor stands.

With no IMAG to distract from the visual picture, creating the right content was a key part of making the tiles work for Larkum's rock show scheme. They are used for color effects and occasionally for shape effects running across the whole surface area.

XL Video asked Richard Stembridge onboard to work alongside Larkum and produce show content. "Richie was absolutely brilliant," Larkum said. "I gave him a brief for the start of an idea. He took it, developed it and made it a reality."

Making the tiles work as a lighting effect also required the creation of very precise content to produce the right hues and color saturations. Working in low resolution also increased the challenge of this task. Stembridge produced original artwork in Photoshop, which was animated using Apple Motion.

At the end of last year, they did an Academy size tour using 20 Spider 40 tiles, which allowed them to look at what they'd already produced, how it worked on the surface, and how it could be expanded to a larger version. This also fueled many more ideas for content and effects. They also realized that they only have to run the tiles at about 10 percent intensity to get a perfect balance with the lights, which include Martin Professional MAC 2K moving lights and shed loads of Molfeys.

Currently, content is run through the tiles for 12 out of 21 songs of the Kaiser's set. This is all programmed into the Catalyst, which is triggered via Lakum's Hog iPC console running in Hog 3 mode.

The Kaiser Chiefs will move on to Australia and Asia before returning to Europe for the summer festival season.

For more information, please visit www.xlvideo.tv.

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