Mark Knopfler’s “Get Lucky” Tour Gets Video, Too

PLSN Staff • Projection Connection News • August 6, 2010

LONDON – Lighting designer Simon Tutchener has been working with Mark Knopfler since 2002. He completed his first major tour with him in 2005. And he has been dealing the challenges of integrating video with the lighting design since – well, pretty recently, actually. Knopfler's Get Lucky tour marks the first time video has ever been incorporated into his performance. It was projected four Robe DigitalSpot 7000DTs supplied, along with the rest of the rig, including Martin MAC 2000 Profiles, MAC 2000 Spots, Lycian 1290 FOH Spots, ETC Source 4s and a 40-by-30 LED Star Cloth by Bandit Lites.


Tutchener specified the DigitalSpots after a demo arranged by Robe UK and Bandit Lites UK's Lester Cobrin convinced him that the fixtures could serve as a tourable, flexible and lightweight video solution that would integrate seamlessly with the lighting.


Bandit Lites UK provided the gear for the European and U.K. legs of the tour; Bandit Lites Inc. in Nashville, Tenn. provided the same fixtures for the U.S. tour leg.


The four DigitalSpots are rigged on the front lighting truss. They are soft-edged together and project one large image onto a 26-foot-by-16-foot video screen hung on the back truss, which is covered by a pair of starcloth curtains for most of the show. They are controlled via ArtNet protocol over Ethernet from Tutchener's grandMA lighting console.


The video clips are all stored in the DigitalSpots' onboard media servers, uploaded via Ethernet. Tutchener uses a mixture of library images and specially created content – all of it abstract, subtle and crafted to blend seamlessly into the lightshow. Although it creates some visual impact, the idea is to not let it distract from Knopfler's intense performance.


Footage is also taken from four surveillance style mini-cams (supplied by XL Video UK) dotted around the stage, plus one wireless camera from Broadcast RF. These are positioned on Knopfler's mic stand, on the drums, keyboards, and so on, with the wireless unit attached to the head stock of his Fender Stratocaster guitar.


The inputs of these are fed as composite video into the video capture cards of the DigitalSpots. They are also run through a DMX switcher, which allows Tutchener to bring up the camera previews on a monitor and fade between them via the grandMA console.


The first hint of video – the guitar head stock shot – appears onscreen during the latter half of the Dire Straits track, "Romeo & Juliet." It continues for the next song, another Dire Straits anthem, "Sultans of Swing," with some camera shots used so sparingly they just appear on the punctuative bumps of a chord or two – before the curtains close to conceal the screen again until the encores. During the encores, video accompanies all three numbers.


"It's a simple video concept," said Tutchener, "But it takes a lot of effort and precision to make it work for a song like 'Brothers In Arms', which is one of the encore numbers."


Of the Robe gear, he noted, "I think the DigitalSpot 7000DTs are a hugely powerful product that really makes a link between video and lighting. The reliability has really been proven over the last five months we've been using them."


Lighting technician Ewan Cameron has been looking after the video elements of the tour, starting in the U.S., where he set everything up, and continuing with Tutchener for the whole tour. He comments that the Picture Merge facility has worked extremely well and that the fixtures generally have been "great" for surviving the rigours of the road.


Bandit Lites has served as the lighting company ever since Tutchener has been working with Knopfler.


Audio Rent from Switzerland provides the sound equipment for Europe, and the tour is production-managed by U.K.-based Kevin Hopgood.


For more information, please visit www.robe.cz.



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