Working from home? Switch to the DIGITAL edition of Projection, Lights & Staging News. CLICK HERE to signup now!
Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content

TOOL 2016 Tour

PLSN Staff • Wide Focus • February 19, 2016

Tool performed 17 dates for the month of January 2016 using a rig that still had its foundations in a design from 2006, with bits and pieces added and shuffled around, but some of the same infrastructure underneath. We spoke with the band’s designers —Mark ”Junior” Jacobson (lighting designer & director) and Breckinridge ”Breck” Haggerty (video designer & director). We also touched base with Howard Ungerleider (Production Design International) about the laser aspect of the tour and Delicate Productions rep Jason Alt.

Tool tour photo by Steve Jennings

Mark ”Junior” Jacobson
Lighting Designer & Director

“The band hadn’t played live since Spring 2014, and they were offered a festival date in Tempe for Halloween 2015. We found out about it in July 2015, and thought with three months notice, this would be a good time to put together a new show from scratch. It also gave me a chance to finally move Tool off of grandMA1 and into the grandMA2 world.

“In the past, we had always taken our arena design and tried to fit as much of it into a festival stage as we could. There always seemed to be mixed results. This time, we thought we would make a new design that is based on the space you have in a festival stage and geared to work well within those limitations, and maybe even exploit them. This would become our ‘Festival’ rig and we would use it any time they played festivals in the near future. The thinking was that when they do finish the next album we will make a new ‘Arena’ show from scratch, and then we would have two application-specific shows to choose from, depending on the type of show and venue.

“The band enjoyed playing that Halloween festival with their old friends, Primus, and decided to put together a January arena tour with them. We are not quite ready to put together a new ‘Arena’ show, we didn’t want to regress to the old show, and the set list from Halloween is similar to what they planned to play on this tour, so we decided to modify the ‘Festival’ rig to work for this tour. It seems like it goes against our ‘separate rigs’ plan a bit, but we didn’t have to modify it too much to make it work. Mostly sight-line issues you wouldn’t have on a festival stage, since the band is in a box there. We had to move some side lighting trusses up to accommodate the potential 270-degree seating. That was about it for lighting. Video made a few changes, as well.”

One big change for Jacobson was going from a grandMA1 to a grandMA2 having already using the “2” on some other projects and television work.

“It was nice to finally let go of the grandMA1. Breck had moved the Tool video over to a ‘2’ a few years ago. The last time Tool toured in 2014, we had six universes of DMX for lighting. This time we are up to 23.”

All the fixtures in this 2016 rig were new to Tool.

“Ray Whitton of Vari-Lite gave me a chance to play around with the new VL4000 BeamWash last year, and I was confident it could be the backbone of the rig. I put in some VL4000 Spots for the gentler gobo moments I knew I’d need. MAC Auras have been a ‘go-to’ for me in recent years. They fill in a lot of gaps and I’m using them for key-light from the downstage truss. They also tuck into small places on the floor, such as the monitor line and under the Plexi-topped drum riser.

“I’d been seeing a lot of good products coming from Ayrton and was eager to get some of those into a Tool show. The MagicPanels are giving us some cool looks from the sides, and the MagicRings are giving us nice large beams from above. We are running them both in their ‘extended’ modes, so we can do all sorts of cool effects with them. That’s also the main cause of our Universe count going up, but it’s a worthy one. The MagicBlades are mounted on a 15-foot, seven-sided aluminum star set-piece that we have used in the past. It has been used on a number of tours since 2002, but never had any lights mounted to it. The MagicBlades seemed perfect: seven fixtures with seven elements each on a seven-sided star. Scott is also hitting the star from FOH with his lasers and doing some cool tracing stuff on it, and Breck has a number of video gags that are based around the star.”

As for the look and feel of the Tool design…

“Breck and I had a number of meetings with Adam Jones, [the real image-conscious one in the band] and management, prior to the Halloween show. He mostly just wanted to see what direction we were heading and have a look at what the new gear could add to the show. I’m sure as the tour goes on and he sees some of the possibilities, he will come up with some things we hadn’t thought of ourselves.

“At first look, this rig looks pretty straightforward. We don’t have any motion control this time, which has been a big part of our show in recent years, but that was mostly out of simplifying the ‘festival’ rig. I think we get some pretty cool unexpected gags out of this setup. We keep exploring new looks we can get out of it, much as we always do on Tool tours. The show will gain new ideas almost every night (time permitting). It’s one of those paintings that is just never finished.”

Tool tour photo by Steve Jennings

Breckinridge Haggerty
Video Designer & Director

Tool’s 2016 tour design moved away from the moving wall that was used on the last tour.

“We’re moving away from some of the fancier moving video wall segments and went with one large upstage video wall that doesn’t move at all during the show. To keep things interesting, we’re using various black masks to re-shape the video, and Junior and I created virtual lit backdrops with [grandMA] MA 3D lighting visualizer to replace the real lit cyc and backdrops. It’s helped simplify load-in and gives us more time every day to get creative.”

The video content and the show programming also continue to evolve.

“With every tour, I get a chance to bring in new content and change things up. This time, I have about five minutes of incredible new footage by Matt Santoro to work with. I’m slowly integrating more into the show each day. I’m also starting to play around with some live video feedback, which is working very well so far. It feeds off the video as you might expect, but it also feeds off the lasers and lighting. Manipulating the live-cam layer in the VPU gives me total control over the dynamics of the feedback. It’s a lot of fun.”

As video crew chief, Phil Keller has been leading the video crew for nearly a decade, and the tour personnel stays intact as much as possible.

“We try to keep the same people on the crew as much as we can. This time around, we’re lucky to have Jason Lowe and Paul Bange returning and Marshall Cooper learning the ropes.

“We’re still using the MA VPUs as the final output to the stage, and the old battle-axe NEV8s are also playing a large part. The VPUs have excellent SDI video inputs, and we have a Blackmagic 16×16 SDI matrix router upstream to switch and repeat the signal from the Blackmagic Hyperdecks, the MA3D visualizer, and a live camera. The router itself is controlled by DMX via the NEV8, as are the Hyperdeck playback decks. The Hyperdecks contain the majority of video content, and the NEV8s allow total random-access and full DMX control over every frame. The NEV8 control allows me to improvise and play along with the music in ways the VPU and most other media servers are incapable of.”

Tool tour photo by Steve Jennings

Howard Ungerleider
Production Design International

Howard Ungerleider and Brian Beggs own Production Design International (PDI). They build custom laser projectors and produce lighting designs for many clients. PDI has been involved with Tool since the 10,000 Days Tour in 2007.

“We’ve been working alongside Junior (Mark Jacobson) and Breck Haggerty and the entire Tool team in the capacity of laser designers and consultants. Scott Wilson of PDIFX is tasked with programming and running the laser effects for the show with A.J. Seabeck assisting in the set up. Creative influences and laser show moments are collectively created by Scott Wilson along with Junior and Breck. We add and subtract elements until we feel we have immersive impactful moments. Programming of the lasers utilizes Pangolin Laser Systems Beyond software in conjunction with their new FB4 output hardware. Seven custom-built DMX controlled laser projectors built by PDIFX utilizing scanned effects, diffraction gratings and traditional beam splits with an array of mirrors focused from the truss. Pre programmed laser cues are triggered and then manipulated live allowing for the mood and feel of the show change as needed.”

Tool tour photo by Steve Jennings

Jason Alt
Delicate Productions

“Tool has been a Delicate client for 20 years, and every tour Adam, Breck and Junior come up with a great looking show. Because Breck and Junior were trying to design around the idea of being able to replicate the show at festivals, they did a great job of coming up with a design that is flexible, but gives them enough of a visual palette; the audience get an amazing show.

“I think the [Ayrton] MagicRings stand out as the coolest product we put on the tour. It’s a very versatile unit, and I think Junior demonstrates this during the show. My favorite part of the production is the kabuki screens. The audience is focused in on the stage, and when the screens come in, you feel surrounded by the visuals. It adds a great texture to the show.

“We have tried to keep the same team on Tool. Phil and Adam do an amazing job keeping the show running smooth, and the crew we hand out on this tour did a fantastic job. “

Tool tour photo by Steve Jennings


  • Lighting Designer & Director: Mark “Junior” Jacobson
  • Lighting Company: Delicate Productions
  • Lighting Crew Chief: Adam Walden
  • Lighting Techs: Andy O’Toole, Mary Wistrom, Anthony Wayne
  • Video Company: Delicate Productions
  • Video Designer & Director: Breckinridge Haggerty
  • Video Crew Chief: Phil Keller
  • Video Techs: Jason Lowe, Paul Bange, Marshall Cooper
  • Delicate Productions Rep: Jason Alt
  • Lasers: Production Design International/Howard Ungerleider
  • Laser Designer & Director: Scott Wilson
  • Laser Tech: AJ Seabeck
  • Production Manager: Matt Doherty
  • Tour Manager: Jerome Crooks
  • Stage Manager: Mark “Kahuna” Candelario
  • Rigger: Mark “Smokey” Kohorn
  • Production Coordinator: Alexis Lowes
  • Carpenter: Eric Fox
  • Trucking Company: Upstaging

Tool tour photo by Steve Jennings



  • 1       grandMA2 Full Size console
  • 40     Vari*Lite VL4000 BeamWash fixtures
  • 12     Vari*Lite VL4000 Spots
  • 39     Martin MAC Auras
  • 28     Ayrton MagicPanel-R fixtures
  • 9       Ayrton MagicRing-R9 fixtures
  • 7       Ayrton MagicBlade-R fixtures
  • 4       HazeBase Base*Hazer*Pro Hazers

          Tyler GT Truss

  • Video (Stage)
  • 395  VER BR15 15mm LED tiles
  • 4       Barco FLM 30K projectors
  • 6       Custom 9’x20’ kabuki front projection screens

Video (FOH)

  • 3       NEV8 Hyperdeck Playback Bridges
  • 2       NEV8 VideoHub SDI Matrix Bridges
  • 2       NEV8 ImagePro Bridges
  • 1       Blackmagic Cinema Camera
  • 1       grandMA2 Full Size lighting console
  • 2       MA3D lighting visualization systems with SDI conversion
  • 4       MA VPU mk2 media servers with dual SDI inputs


  • 7       PDIFX custom high-power full color DMX laser projectors
  • 7       Pangolin FB4 controllers
  • 1       Pangolin Beyond laser control software setup
  • 32         Truss-mounted mirrors

Tool tour photo by Steve Jennings



The Latest News and Gear in Your Inbox - Sign Up Today!