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Ellie Goulding ‘Delirium’ World Tour 2016

PLSN Staff • Designer Insights • May 16, 2016


Throughout the creative process for this tour, lighting designer and director Cate Carter wanted to explore the different facets of Ellie’s musical personality. Carter and co-designer Dan Shipton (of Black Skull Creative) were inspired by the wide range of musical styles and influences that Ellie explores both through her recorded work and live performance.

Cate Carter

Lighting Designer & Director

“Typically, a live show can comprise of anything, from an acoustic love song to a massive club anthem, and everything in between. She is, at times, serene and emotional — singing a beautiful ballad or she could be jumping all over the stage, dancing, rocking out with her guitar on ‘Figure 8,’ rapping lyrics to ‘On My Mind’ or adding percussion to ‘Aftertaste.’ We wanted to take the concept behind the album title and explore the different sides of Ellie to give the audience a greater insight into her diversity as an artist and explore the idea of her ‘Delirium’ — a concept referenced in a number of songs on the new record.”

Goulding is always heavily involved with the creative process behind her shows and had regular meetings to discuss and
develop the ideas and concepts behind the show design.

“We started discussing ideas for the tour back in September 2015, and the design/pre-production process really got into full swing from October onwards. Ellie is a fantastic collaborator; she has a very clear vision of how her live performance should be presented.

“In terms of my fixture choices, I mostly include lights that I’ve used before, because of what each particular fixture adds to the design. The mirrored lighting pods were custom-built for this tour. We chose to work with an angular staging design as this fit the brief and direction we wanted to explore throughout the structure of the show. The mirrors not only create the roof of the stage set but the angular design of each pod that was intended to give oblique surfaces that we could bounce beams of light from and reflect video images from the upstage wall.

“Drapery and soft goods also feature heavily in the show, using gold drapes on kabuki systems to reveal Ellie at the top of the show and white wings to close the stage down later on for the ‘Heart’ section in the middle of the show.”

Carter has been working with Lite Alternative and XL Video for both this tour and the last campaign, which began in 2012. Lite Alternative handled all the lighting and rigging requirements for the European shows and then handed it over to Upstaging for the U.S. and Canadian dates.

“The partnership between the two companies made the transition incredibly smooth, which was essential, especially as we had a very short turnaround between finishing our UK tour in London and starting in Vancouver. XL Video/PRG have been looking after all our video requirements on both sides of the Atlantic, and many of our lighting and video crew have been with us through all or part of the last tour as well as this one. It’s a really great team we have on the road!

“As the show has grown, new suppliers have also joined the team. We have All Access providing custom staging, softgoods created by ShowTex in Belgium and designed by fabric designer Carl Robertshaw. The custom stage set came from Total Solutions Group and Presentation Design Services both based in the U.K.”

One key difference with this tour was how the video content/creation was approached. With approximately 120 minutes of content in all and a relatively short production period, Carter and the team chose to work with a handful of carefully selected content production studios.

“Once the script for the show was completed, we approached the different producers for different pieces for certain songs. We continued to create some of the visual content in house — as we’ve done for Ellie’s previous tours, and then we oversaw the pieces coming in from different producers and tied it together to ensure continuity throughout.

“I’m on the road directing this run. My business partner Mike Smith was with us through prep, rehearsals and the first few shows. We collaborated on the programming, which freed me up to concentrate on other areas during the rehearsal period and initial build days. I’m using the grandMA console again for this tour. I find the grandMA is a powerful tool and although many of my cues are programmed to be triggered live rather than via timecode, I have the desk set up in a way that is very straightforward to operate during the show, to free me up to keep an eye on other aspects — such as the balance between lights and visual content, calling kabuki, special FX and followspot cues.

“We’ve been fairly consistent throughout all of the shows, as we’re generally playing quite large venues and can fit in the full production as intended. Occasionally, we are in a theater or smaller arena and have to trim the rig down accordingly. But generally, we get the full show in every city.”

Although this was the first time Carter has included Ayrton MagicDots in a Goulding design, she had used them before elsewhere, so she had a good idea of what they could do.

“I really wanted something compact, lightweight and punchy to frame the custom mirrored lighting pods. These have proven to be the perfect choice, and I’m really happy with how they are fitting in to the rig, highlighting the set design and holding their own up against much bigger fixtures, creating a lot of the big “air” looks.

“Viper Profiles, Sharpys and VL3500s feature heavily in the design. They’re the workhorse fixtures for me. It was my first time with the Mac Viper Air FX, and I’ve found the combination of looks I can get out of these really worked well.”

Staggered video walls were fed content from d3 servers


The production crew was given a short time frame before the tour started so a decision was made to use four different content creators — Bryte Design, who also managed the entire content process, Fabrique Fantastique, Atticus Finch and NorthHouse Films. The content creators worked closely with the show designers to create the individual tracks.

Robin Haddow

Video Director

“Some tracks had quite a clear direction for content, while others were left for the content creators to come back with ideas. In addition to the content, we used Notch — a live effect generator, to manipulate the live camera feeds in groundbreaking ways. For example the camera feeds are used to shape particle emitters, which in turn create spectacular looking visuals. The fact that Notch works as a plugin within d3 helps to prevent latency, which is normally inherent with external effect devices.

“I’m cutting the cameras on a Blackmagic 2M/E ATEM Switcher that is then feeding into two d3 2x2plus media servers (main and a backup). The camera package consists of three Sony HXC100, two Bradley robo-cams and two XL Video Gnat mini-cams.”

One of the deciding factors for using the d3 as the media server was the quality of the camera input into the d3.

“When it comes to the camera inputs, it’s hard to tell there is a media server downstream of the switcher. The d3 also allows seamless integration of content and cameras as well as advanced mapping features to output to the LED screen processors and projectors. The backup d3 runs in what’s called an ‘understudy’ mode and seamlessly provides a tracking backup, which, in the event of the main machine failing, will automatically switch the outputs over to the understudy machine. The majority of the show is timecoded so the d3 sits and runs itself with very little user input. However I also use an onPC MA console to have overall control of the d3. This allows some degree of busking cameras and content when no time code is present. The onPC also allows me to control variables of the Notch effects to really bring the effects to life in a very live and analogue way.”


  • Lighting Designer & Director: Cate Carter
  • Show Director: Dan Shipton
  • Producer: Ross Nicholson
  • Production Manager: Bob O’Brien
  • Tour Manager: Rebecca Travis
  • Lighting Co: Upstaging Inc.
  • Lighting Crew: Travis Robinson (Crew Chief), Mark Goodall, Todd Turner, Chris Dries, Tony Quinn
  • Video/LED Co: XL Video/PRG
  • Video Director: Robin Haddow
  • Video Content: Bryte Design, North House Films, Atticus Finch, Fabrique Fantastique
  • Video Engineer: Charles Signaigo
  • Video Techs: Tim Bolland, Phil Leech, Jeff Brown
  • Staging Co: All Access Staging
  • Custom Set: Total Solutions
  • Backdrop/Props: ShowTex, Presentation Design Services
  • Fabric Designer: Carl Robertshaw
  • Pyro: FFP/Casey Long
  • Riggers: Amos Cotter, Kenny Ruhman
  • Trucking Co: Taylor Trucking



  • 2       grandMA2 full size consoles
  • 25    Martin MAC Viper Profiles
  • 44    Martin MAC Auras
  • 18    Vari*Lite VL3500 Wash FX
  • 25    Clay Paky Sharpys
  • 22    Atomic Strobes
  • 62    Ayrton MagicDot fixtures
  • 12    BB4 I-Pix Washlights
  • 14    Linear 4-light Molefays
  • 40    Cell Blinders
  • 4       DF50 hazers
  • 1       ZR44 smoke machine
  • 1       Roe Visual MC7 LED screen
  • 1       F11 LED screen
  • 1       Barco HDX-W20 Flex switcher
  • 2          d3 2x2plus media servers

For more Ellie Goulding Delirium World Tour photos by Steve Jennings, go to:

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