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Universal Pixels supplies Thom Yorke’s Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes tour

PLSN Staff • Projection Connection News • November 4, 2019


UK – The latest chapter of the Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes tour features live onstage content creation together with a custom video package from Universal Pixels

More details from Universal Pixels (

Thom Yorke’s decade-spanning career has been spent at the cutting-edge of music, addressing it as a complete art, where sound and vision combine to create an all-encompassing force. His latest tour is the embodiment of this approach; a live show that immerses audiences in a sensory bath of abstract visuals and captivating music.

Yorke is joined onstage by long-term Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich and audiovisual composer Tarik Barri, who is working in his own Versum software. The trio cuts a mesmerising hustle of creativity before a landscape of beguiling visuals.

Universal Pixels has supplied the tour since it first set out for a short US run in December 2017, providing a curved array of three or five (venue dependent) projection screens. For the latest shows, which included tour dates and festival slots across Europe and the US, UP created a newly-devised, adaptable video package, which has been designed for quick deployment and speedy load-outs.

It features a custom dolly package of five 2.5m wide x 4.5m high 6mm Leyard CLM hi-res LED screens, that also create a seamless front projection screen, three Epson 25k projectors (to project onto the LED screen and across the band from FOH), and a compact five camera (five robos and one UP 3G minicam) package to provide IMAG feeds at festivals and larger venues with house screens, all interfacing with Barri’s custom servers and Pixel Taco’s Catalyst servers. The set-up has been supplemented by a locally-supplied FOH long-lens when available/feasible on a show by show basis.

Video designer, Jake Hogenson, comments: “The video element of this show impacts the entire performance greatly. Tarik’s visuals provide a unique view of the songs written and performed by Thom and Nigel. With Tarik’s bespoke Versum program, each piece of content will evolve between shows.

“We use multiple channels of Tarik’s content to drive the LED, Projection, and pixel mapping of the X4 bars. I also use Tarik’s content to mix / overlay with our IMAG camera feed. This creates even more depth in the live show environment, in a production that is so visually driven.”

Barri adds: “Versum allows me to create and manipulate 3D audiovisual worlds in real-time. It’s like a virtual 3D world that I can fly through with my joystick. All the objects in this ‘world’ can be both seen and heard as the camera flies past them.

“Often, I use this software for performances where I create both the music and the visuals, but on other occasions I basically switch off the sound engine and use my software as a purely visual instrument to accompany other musicians. As far as I’m concerned, I’m still making music, it’s just that this layer of music is perceived through the eyes.”

This immersed approach to creating visuals means that each show is unique, as Barri flows with the music in instinctual patterns. He explains: “I tend not to know what exactly inspires my choices. Again, it’s this thing of it just ‘feeling’ right. For example, I may have some mathematical experiments inside the computer that generate certain visual patterns on screen – I play around with the parameters, the movements, the colors – all this while listening to the music that I want this work to go along with.

“At some point it just clicks, or at least half-clicks, well enough for me to know I’m on the right track, and I continue fine-tuning. It’s always ‘abstract’ as in that there are multiple ways to interpret what you’re seeing, depending on how you’re wired.“

Discussing the collaboration with Universal Pixels, Hogenson says: “Working with UP is always a pleasure. I have a long-standing relationship with Phil Mercer, as well as others at UP, that creates trust and confidence each time we work together. The kit is always clean and well prepped.

“With a bespoke media server driving the bulk of the visual elements in this show, it’s important to have all the right components in line. Together, we have evolved this show from using a small projection-based kit in clubs and theatres, into a show that can tackle outdoor festival stages, arenas and large theatres. UP has packaged the kit for us to have maximum efficiency in whatever venue we play. I’m looking forward to evolving it even further next year!”

Photo by Dominic Smith

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