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Archive for December, 2014

Avolites Ai has got the bottle for Lily Allen’s LED-rich live tour

17th December, 2014

In a nod to her status as working mum pop star, British singer Lily Allen has been touring both the festival and venue circuit in front of a backdrop of baby bottles laced with LED strips and controlled by Avolites Ai.

Allen first unveiled her baby bottles set – a concept conceived by acclaimed stage designer Es Devlin – at Glastonbury 2014 and went on to perform with the bottles throughout the US, UK and Europe in the autumn as part of her ‘Sheezus’ tour. In January and February 2015, the tour continues to Asia.

The bottles were designed by bespoke lighting creators Light Initiative and feature LED strips inside, making up a mapped ‘video screen’ of colours and effects.

For the tour, Ai operator and content creator Aislinn ‘Ash’ Clifford and Ai programmer Toby Dennis are using two MacBook laptops with Ai software licences to control the incredible array of effects running through the bottles, with Ricardo Lorenzini on lighting duties.

“The bottles have LED strips inside, which are controlled by slave units, dotted around the stage,” says Dennis. “The LEDs are spiralled inside and then mapped accordingly. Each bottle has two data inputs split between the teat at the top and the main body of the bottle. The mapping was actually quite complicated as there’s so much going on, and when we first started we weren’t sure how we could achieve the desired effect. The question was: do we want to control via ArtNet, as a lighting fixture, or as a video surface? And how would we achieve that? It was Bryn Williams at Light Initiative who suggested we went down the Ai route. He showed us what it could do, and we then went to Ai HQ and discovered more, and we were sold!”

Clifford continues: “We were very impressed with what Ai could do, and the fact that the Avolites guys were on hand throughout the first month we were one tour to write in bits of software to adapt it to what we required. It was amazing that they could make patches so fast… Ai was really easy to learn – the user interface is great. We put a 3D model into the visualiser, and watched the content through as it would look in real time.”

“The main thing I like about Ai is the interface,” adds Dennis. “To be able to see all of your surfaces straight away in front of you, to scale, and you really get an idea of what’s going on. It’s not just a clip playing and then you have to imagine it playing on said surface whether it’s curved or 3D etc. When you get a bit deeper, you realise the amount of genius that’s going on underneath; it’s so powerful! And the fact that Ai is ‘drag and drop’ is fantastic – using Ai makes it easier to programme everything and it’s been very stable on tour.”

Avolites’ Selvin Cooper adds: “It was great to see Ricardo putting Ai through its paces on the Pyramid stage this year at Glastonbury, mixing timecoded playback with ArtNet triggering modes. This created a very dynamic look with this completely custom set up used as a video screen or a lighting fixture cued from the desk.

“The ability to use Ai’s visualiser to see how any piece of content will look on a nonstandard video surface such as twenty four 1 metre high babies’ bottles was key to enabling Ash to create custom content that would have the best impact. The first leg of the ‘Sheezus’ tour has been running solidly on two laptops, enabling tour bus tweaks to programming, or fly with your video control system as hand luggage for those one off TV shows in Japan.”

The team takes Lily Allen’s baby bottles and Ai to Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore in the spring.


Mediatech 2015 on the horizon

17th December, 2014

The eighth biennial advanced media and entertainment technology tradeshow, Mediatech Africa, is set to kick off on 15 to 17 July 2015 at the Dome at Northgate, Johannesburg.

Mediatech is Africa’s premiere trade show in this arena and many exhibitors in the live entertainment technology, AV systems integration, broadcast, film, production, post-production, animation and new media, studio and recording and pro DJ equipment sectors will have their wares on display. This creates an open platform to showcase new products and technologies and sets the stage for effective networking.

Stand sales opened at the beginning of October 2014 and the response from the industry at large has thus far been phenomenal. Despite being months away, a host of big name exhibitors have already confirmed their stands. Bose, Sony Professional Solutions, Sound and Light City, Concilium Technologies, Alpha Technologies, Viva Afrika, Peripheral Vision, DWR Distribution, Inala Technologies, Electrosonic SA, Timbre Broadcast Systems, Extron Electronics, Macro Video, Zimele Broadcasting Services, Robe Lighting and Mitsubishi Electric are amongst the already confirmed stands, while many other exhibitors have provisionally booked their stands by making their mark on the floor plan.

Mediatech Africa 2013 saw a total of 6935 visitors walk through the door over three days including 424 foreign visitors of which 197 were from the African continent. 136 companies exhibited in total, collectively representing just short of 700 brands. Of these visitors, 37% were decision makers in their respective companies while 19% filled senior management positions. That being said, 49% of visitors had power of purchase while 30% had influence of purchase.

For more information, visit


Avolites Quartz console excites US market at LDI 2014

11th December, 2014

Avolites’ US partner Group One reports that the two companies are “seeing the fruits of our labours” in a dramatic way, as Avolites’ new products – including the compact-yet-powerful Quartz console – excite the US market following LDI.

The newest addition to the Titan Mobile family, Quartz was the “star of the show” on stand as it made its US debut at the tradeshow, showing off its on-board processing and bright, vibrant 12.1″ screen.

“Quartz is super compact, measuring only 16.7″ wide, and is positioned as the ideal companion for lighting projects ranging from touring and festivals to clubs and one-offs,” says Avolites Sales Manager, Stephen Baird Smith, who was on-stand at LDI. “It is Avolites’ smallest fully-featured console, featuring the same high quality faders and hardware you’ve come to expect from Avolites, and is ideal for life on the road.

“Offering full compatibility with Multi user, Quartz is also perfect for use as a back-up or extra programming surface, cutting your programming time. Quartz is ready to benefit from multi band Sound to Light Triggering functionality, offered in Titan version 9.”

Group One’s Brad White continues: “Quartz was certainly the star of the show. With the compact size and power of the console it is a homerun all the way around. We’ve worked closely with Avolites to build the brand in the US and demand for Avolites products is on a steady increase. With the hardware and the software of the Titan range, Avolites makes it easy to truly love the product. The wide Titan range is truly invading the entire market from the smallest student production to the largest, most complex multi console installations. We are finally hearing less of ‘I didn’t know Avo could do that’!”

According to White, the team sold every available console on the show floor during LDI, with demand outstripping supply.

Avolites Sales Director Koy Neminathan concludes:  “We have had an absolutely fantastic LDI, perhaps the best in our history as a company. The reaction to the products and features that we have shown has been overwhelming, and now we plan to take steps to increase our activity and visibility in this important market. Expect to find us at Avolites seminars, open days and advanced training sessions throughout the USA.”


Avolites Ai S8 servers add sparkle at the British Fashion Awards

9th December, 2014

Avolites Ai S8 media servers completed an elegant makeover of the London Coliseum, draping the stage in video content for the British Fashion Awards, held to celebrate the contributions of British designers, creatives and models over the past year.

The glitzy event, attended by some of the biggest names in British fashion, was set against a backdrop including a main projection surface of eight Panasonic projectors blended to create a 6598×830 screen.

Ben Miles used two active Ai S8 servers, with another two used as reserve and programming systems. Another 1920×1080 HD feed to the camera PPU fed the IMAG screens content, such as fashion shoot clips, awards and winners graphics, mostly created by StrangeBeast.

Of the two active servers, one had the UI and 3 outputs and the other, the UI and 2 outputs, all outputting 1920×1080 at 50Hz, beautifully synced together.

“I was happy to utilise the new aspects of V8,” says Miles, on the latest iteration of Avolites’ Ai software. “The output manager which made chopping the outputs up and re-joining them in the projectors a simple and straight-forward process.”

“I turned to the AI servers during the testing process as the server that would deal with the requirements as they mounted and developed. We received unparalleled support from Ai through a very technical and challenging planning and testing process.”

“We were really pushing computer system resources to playback so many large pieces of content with alpha channels preserved, but Ai was more than up to the task.”

Supplier – XL Video (Project Manager – Paul Wood)

Production Company – Inca Productions

Showline SL NITRO 510C strobes ‘perfect’ for Chvrches

9th December, 2014

Lighting designer Louis Oliver of Okulus has chosen to use Showline SL NITRO 510C fixtures to add vibrant colour and dreamlike strobing to his ethereal lighting for a special, one-off Chvrches show at London’s Brixton Academy.

As the Scottish electro-pop trio has only played four dates in the UK since forming two years ago, they wanted to make sure the Brixton show was as audience captivating as possible. To that end, Oliver specified 17 of the Showline strobes from HSL to bring more than one strong look to his design.

“I chose the SL NITRO 510C because of its fantastic colour mixing capabilities,” explains Oliver. “I have wanted to move on from the previous strobes we were using for some time and the SL NITRO 510C is a great LED fixture – it was perfect for the stabbing strobe effects during the show. I also used it as a wash at varying points throughout.”

Oliver’s design is centred on a large V shaped set piece, which comes from the album artwork by Amy Burrows, and has become synonymous with the band itself. He has angled the lights in order to draw the audience’s eye in to this focal point, and every look further enhances this.

“We rigged ten of the Showline strobes in the air on the two angled mid stage trusses and seven on the floor,” continues Oliver. “The flown units were rigged on the top chord pointing directly down at the stage with a 5 degree angle. The floor units were used as backlight, all pointing towards the performers on stage.”

The SL NITRO 510C strobes have six unique zones of control, allowing ultimate flexibility. For Chvrches, Oliver chose to use the strobes in their individual zone mode.

“In their single zone mode, the SL NITRO 510Cs use a fraction of the power compared to our previous strobes and double up as a wash unit which is fantastic.”

Chvrches’ live shows continued throughout November with dates across Asia.

Philips Vari-Lite continues VL4000 Spot training at RADA

9th December, 2014

Philips Vari-Lite is currently rolling out training for the industry standard VL4000 Spot, with one of the most recent workshops taking place at London’s RADA.

Highly experienced Vari-Lite trainer for EMEA Coral Cooper was hosting the hands on session, where the VL4000 Spot luminaires were disassembled to the sub-assembly level to demonstrate ideal maintenance techniques. Cooper also explained the VL4000 Spot luminaire’s broad range of features, informing the end users and potential customers at the session on how to maximise its vast potential.

Among the attendees was James Ashdown, Director at Automated Ltd.

“The VL4000 is a multi-featured fixture, with all the tools a lighting designer needs in one,” says Ashdown. “I’m very pleased to see that Philips Vari-Lite has included a four bladed shutter module into the fixture without losing any other features. I know this will be particularly popular with my clients and will improve my own designs.”

Also there to get up close and personal with the luminaire was Bianca Mastroianni, a freelance lighting technician working in the UK on Fringe theatre and Australia on large musicals and festivals.

“I’ve been working with Vari-Lite products for five or six years and wanted to know the manufacturer-recommended way of maintaining them,” says Mastroianni. “I’ve really enjoyed the training today – it’s been very thorough and in depth so was definitely worth coming to do.”

Andy Allen, who works at the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada, agrees:

“The VL4000 training was the icing on the cake in a week of hands on Vari-Lite learning. There’s been a lot of talk about it so to be able to see one and then take it apart was a definite bonus. Our theatre venues have very limited space when it comes to hanging lighting fixtures but we run three light-heavy shows, both musical and traditional, in rep for a six month season. A multi-featured tool like the VL4000 could potentially solve this issue and bring a new palette of features to our lighting designers. It would work as a quiet tool for our productions and a feature-rich workhorse for our musicals, which is very attractive.”

“The VL4000 Spot is the market-leader in versatility,” says Coral Cooper. “It has inbuilt framing as well as an iris, not to mention all the gobos you could want, with prism divergence and multi-dimensional animation wheels, all whilst being extremely user-friendly. It’s bright and powerful, and it can be run in a very quiet mode making it perfect for studio and theatre applications. It’s basically a lamp for all seasons.”

For more information about the next training session, keep an eye on the Vari-Lite website at


Avolites Sapphire Touch rocks Motorhead

2nd December, 2014

Masters of metal Motorhead returned to the UK after the festival season for a limited special run of autumn shows. To kick these dates up a notch, lighting designer Caio Bertti started from scratch, devising a simple yet extremely powerful lighting theme, with an ultra-versatile Avolites’ Sapphire Touch console as the ace up his sleeve.

Bertti’s design is traditional rock and roll, yet with a contemporary edge of LED and moving lights mixed in with ever-faithful Par Cans. Preferring to control the show on the fly, Caio specified the highly intuitive Sapphire Touch.

“With Motorhead, if you have music in your blood you’ll have a great show,” says the Brazilian designer. “There’s no cue-list, there’s no time coding, it’s just in my head and fingers. You have to play the board, which is why I chose the Sapphire Touch. It gives me more freedom and I can run through the options on the songs very quickly. The new software is also very useful now that we have the foot tracking back-up mode just in case. For me, specifying the Sapphire Touch was a matter of necessity.”

Bertti has kept it simple, choosing not to mix effects together and playing his Sapphire Touch in harmony with the band.

“Simplicity is key on this show. We have groups of lights that are predictable in the way they flash – they’re very powerful and punchy – and the Sapphire Touch is a very straightforward tool. You don’t have to be specific about timing, and I really like the high-brightness touch screens; it’s very easy to use and allows me to be more hands-on.”

Bertti is a long-time Avolites fan, having used the consoles since 1994.

“The clever thing about Avolites is the way the desks allow designers to clone fixtures – you can still have a great show without your intended lighting rig because of the cloning feature. I understand other desks have that too, but they are nowhere near as intuitive and efficient as the Sapphire Touch.”

Motorhead’s tour continues with a date in the Netherlands, before another festival run next summer.



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