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Archive for May, 2015

Philips Vari-Lite VL4000 BeamWash is focal point on Super Furry Animals

29th May, 2015

UK – Lighting designer Matthew Button of Button Light has used the powerful new Philips Vari-Lite VL4000 BeamWash to create a dramatic focal point of the drum kit on Super Furry Animals’ string of UK reunion dates.

The psychedelic-rock legends took to the stage for the first time since 2009, supporting the deluxe 15th anniversary reissue of their long out-of-print album ‘Mwng’.

Playing such venues as o2 Academy Brixton and the o2 Academy Glasgow, the Welsh quintet were true-to-form with an eccentrically brilliant show that The Guardian awarded 4 out of 5 stars. Button worked with drummer Dafydd Ieuan to design some of the experimental show effects, including the transparent drum kit. Behind this the designer positioned the super powerful VL4000 BeamWash, making him the first to take the latest addition to the Vari-Lite product line out on tour.

“To make this idea really work, I needed a big wash/beam light to power through and illuminate his legs in action on the double kick drums,” explains Button. “The VL4000 BeamWash luminaire was the ultimate choice for this with its incredibly bright beam, meaning I only needed to use a single fixture. Its massive lens also fitted perfectly just above the riser ledge and made the drum, the driving oomph of rock music, the focal point of the set.”

The VL4000 BeamWash combines stunning wash capabilities with intense beam functionality and the ability to produce a powerful column of light. It provides designers with a single unit that can serve multiple uses seamlessly without changing lenses or adding fixtures.

“I am very impressed with the VL4000 BeamWash,” continues Button. “The accuracy and speed of its zoom allowed me to flick from beam to a very wide wash mode with ease meaning we were able to achieve the exact look we wanted.”

Super Furry Animals are set to play a number of festival dates this summer, including Forgotten Fields in August.

Philips Vari-Lite VL4000 Spot delivers key versatility on Thronecast

27th May, 2015

UK – Sky TV lighting designer Iain Davidson is using one of the latest additions to the Philips Vari-Lite product line, the feature-packed VL4000 Spot, to deliver smooth, precise effects and stunning color to popular Sky Atlantic show Thronecast.

The official fan companion series to widely-watched fantasy drama Game of Thrones (GoT), Thronecast follows shortly after each new installment of GoT on a Monday night. Presented by Jamie East and Sue Perkins, the show sees a live discussion of the episode’s events with various members of the cast and crew. Iain is employing six of the award-winning Vari-Lite luminaire, supplied by Richard Martin Lighting (RML), to give depth and texture to the chat show set up.

“My original brief was for a glossy set in front of a white cyc and, as the look was going to be high key, the standard beams and smoke approach didn’t apply,” says Iain. “My plan was to create a subtle movement on the lattice work within the set. To avoid spill from the set header falling on the white cyc I wanted to have precise control of my luminaires, so I needed shutters, subtle gobos and delicate colors.”

Iain therefore turned to the Vari-Lite VL4000 Spot, positioning the units flown in the rig to provide gentle background animation but also as break up in such areas as the revolving entrance door.

“I’ve used movers with shutters before but found they did not always find the exact focus programmed every time,” continues Iain. “I’ve been very happy with the VL4000 Spot’s shutters and the color finesse has been handy for the subtle effects required.”

The VL4000 Spot features dual rotating gobo wheels with a new collection of optimized gobo patterns and dual animation wheels, which provide dynamic motion effects as well as the chromatically tuned Dichro*Fusion effect. The beam can be further modified via the precise four-blade shutter system and mechanical iris.

“With TV being TV all plans change and the white cyc ended up being replaced by black cyc, smoke and beams, however the core use of the VL4000 Spots remained in the design,” continues Iain. “I was asked by production to make the change at 5pm on the Friday before the first TX on Monday. A quick redesign, a phone call to Steve Wells at RML and I had another 15 movers on site at 6.30pm ready to rig on Sunday. Sky and RML have had a long working relationship – Steve always seems to provide what we’re looking for.”

“As a moving light specialist, Richard Martin Lighting is proud to stock the fantastic Philips Vari-Lite VL4000 Spot,” says Steve. “The reason it’s so exciting is simply because it is everything in one! Recently manufacturers have been moving more and more towards this, offering versatility in their products, which has been well received with lighting designers. It gives maximum flexibility for different looks and also means that designers can be more creative and adapt to the constant changes and demands that can occur during the making of a show. At a time when budgets are becoming more of an issue, having one light that can do the job of many is always going to be popular.”

Thronecast can be caught on Monday nights on Sky Atlantic and Sky Atlantic HD, following the episode of Game of Thrones. Full episodes can also be watched on the Thronecast website:

Avolites Expert Pro controls a big, bold show for Ben Howard

26th May, 2015

UK – Ben Howard recently closed out his most recent UK tour, which included three consecutive nights at London’s Alexandra Palace, with lighting designer Andy Rowe controlling a Nitelites rig using an Avolites Expert Pro running the latest Titan V9 software.

Devon singer songwriter Howard toured 11 dates around the UK and Ireland, in support of his latest album I Forget Where We Were.

“When I first started lighting for Ben Howard, Avolites was an easy choice,” says Rowe. “I know the console inside out, it’s easy to busk on, and it goes straight into festivals. It really makes life easy, all I have to do each day is update my palettes.

“I’m finding V9 to be great,” he adds. “All the new cue facilities really suit the way I work, and Key Frame Shapes seems very cool!”

“We also ran multi user back up, and all the new networking. I love it I find it really easy to use. Two consoles at front of house and a laptop on stage, for testing during load in. We’ve actually been running the support band off a touch screen laptop, at the side of the stage.”

In the two years that have passed, Rowe has improved and added to his show file, implementing the new features of Titan as they were introduced: “When I first started touring with Ben, the tour consisted of big backlight looks and lots of black and white, CTO, CTB and tungsten.

“The show has grown much larger, and a lot more cue based,” he continues. “With the new songs and albums, I injected in some colour, so there’s a nice contrast between old and new.

“The latest step has been to add video to the show, so I’ve been accommodating for that in the lighting.”

Nitelites supplied the tour with a lighting package that included Mac Vipers, Pointes, Sharpys and Mac Auras. “We also had three ART2000 racks,” says Rowe. They were really reliable, patchable to anywhere you want, and really easy to use, an industry standard!”

Ben Howard returns to the UK in the summer for a flurry of festival dates including Glastonbury, Parklife, Wilderness, Eden Sessions and Citadel.

Avolites appoints IES as distributor for India

26th May, 2015

UK/India – Lighting and video control specialist Avolites has announced the appointment of Integrated Entertainment Solutions (IES) as its sole distributor for the Indian market. The announcement comes ahead of the two companies combining their efforts to exhibit the latest and greatest from Avolites at the Palm Expo at the end of May.

IES is an 18 year old distribution & trading company based in Mumbai, pioneering in the fields of intelligent lighting, pro-sound & control systems. Their expertise stretches beyond distribution to encompass solutions from entertainment-related venues such as nightclubs to architectural installations.

Avolites’ story in India stems back over 20 years, and Directors Steve & Koy conducted the first workshop there in 2002. Regular training opportunities continued, and so grew the relationships with the local LDs and rental companies.

As the sole distributor for the region, IES will undertake local marketing, training and support for Avolites’ Titan lighting control and Ai video control product ranges, in addition to sales for the Indian market.

“We are delighted to announce IES as our sole distributor for India,” says Avolites Sales Manager Stephen Baird-Smith. “They have a very professional approach to sales and marketing which we felt would help us to deliver the benefits of our latest Titan product range to the Indian market. Their affiliations with innovative brands, and commitment to genuine products speak for themselves.”

“India is a market which craves the latest technology,” continues Avolites Sales Director Koy Neminathan. “The latest technology requires local expertise and switched on marketing to engage the market. This appointment means localised, targeted marketing, full time support and up to the minute product knowledge as well as regular training sessions, all accessible on a local level.

“We believe IES are well placed to take Avolites to the next level in this extensive market.”

IES begin their association with Avolites this month, with the two companies presenting at Palm Expo India from the 28-30th May. Find them on stand C56-E55 at the Bombay Exhibition Centre, Mumbai.

Avolites Sapphire Touch and Ai servers light up new Vegas superclub Omnia

14th May, 2015

USA – A team of Avolites’ powerful Ai EX8 media servers is driving spectacular visuals in Las Vegas’s new superclub, Omnia.

Billed as ‘a new nightlife experience’ and created by international lifestyle brand Hakkasan Group, Omnia is situated on The Strip in the world famous Caesar’s Palace. Designed by the internationally renowned Rockwell Group, the club spans 75,000 total square-feet and prides itself on offering state-of-the-art technology. The club launched with a star-studded party featuring Calvin Harris on DJ duty in March 2015.

Frank Murray from Audiotek supplied and oversaw the AV aspects of the project, working alongside Avolites’ Ai Developer Ciaran Abrams, who provided support for Ai as it was installed and programmed.

Three Avolites Ai EX8 servers are powering visuals in the opulent main room of the club, which features a huge chandelier as the centrepiece of the venue. The chandelier morphs into different shapes, angles and levels. The entire project is said to feature more than ten tonnes of LED wall.

“This was a project on a huge scale, which presented many challenges as the system had to be incredibly flexible to handle many different demands,” says Abrams. “For example, mapping was a big task. Different elements required different mapping solutions – the chandelier was a particular creative challenge, fully utilising the feature set of Ai. The cascades and mezzanine areas of the room were also very complex. Using Ai, we were able to create a 3D representation of the pixels and import that information.”

The team divided the visual load into three groups, one for each server: The main room cascade and mezzanine, the chandelier and projection. “There is a lot of custom patching and functionality that needed no special programming, but was available with the module system inside of Ai,” continues Abrams. “A good example of this is being able to fade out different parts of the club, regardless of content. So, through the lighting console, chases could easily be created to make new effects without needing any content. We were also able to create custom content, effects and colour modes, which offered much more freedom when it came to creative thought.”

In the second room, a fourth Ai EX8 server is installed, with Lighting Director Jorge Tellez controlling yet more spectacular visuals via his Sapphire Touch and the Ai, and an Avolites Quartz offering control for the lighting for The Terrace, featuring a mixture of LED strip lighting and moving heads.

“There’s a really large screen behind the DJ booth and then several other screens that pretty much go around the entire room,” says Tellez. “I like the fact that I can run the lighting and I can run the video off the one console; that really makes it easy for me. It lets me get really creative with the room.

“I’d never worked on an Avolites until I got to Omnia, but Group One’s Brad White trained me and I really, really enjoyed it. I saw how easy it is to operate the Avolites – for the pixel mapping, and for setting up your palettes, for example, it’s such a convenient board. I’m totally on-board working with the Sapphire Touch.”

Omnia’s resident VJ and video director for Hakkasan, Ed Shaw, takes the Ai reins at the club in the main room, with visual content that’s driving reviewers to focus on the spectacle. Las Vegas Weekly says: “It might be the most ‘Las Vegas’ nightclub in Las Vegas. Whether that’s good or bad depends on your tolerance for hyperstimulation and disco spectacle.” Social media was abuzz with videos and images of the chandelier in full swing from opening night.

Speaking after the clubs completion and opening, Avolites MD Steve Warren commented: “Omnia is truly one of the most spectacular installations I have seen in my many years in the industry. I am also convinced that this particularly demanding project could only have been accomplished using Ai media servers.

“Having worked before on superclubs in London with Frank, the Audiotek team have significantly raised the bar for Vegas and we at Avolites are proud to have supplied the significant part of the lighting and video solution to Omnia,” Warren continues.

Moving forward, Abrams is confident: “We’ve installed a system with extra headroom which will allow for the design to be expanded in the future. A simple example would be that they might get more LED and require extra outputs. They would easily be able to integrate this in the current setup without needing to get more systems.”

CyberHoist II makes its touring debut with Linkin Park

11th May, 2015

Europe: – XLNT Advanced Technologies’ brand new CyberHoist II™ made its touring debut with US nu-metal mega-stars Linkin Park when the band returned to head-banging basics on their sold out European tour, The Hunting Party.

Talented show designer Michael Fullman worked with event technology supplier, Black Box Music to transfer the show from the USA to Europe.  As the show transitioned from the US specified automation system to XLNT’s CyberHoist II for Europe, Fullman says he was keen to reinvigorate elements of the original design.

Black Box Music’s Moritz Stockschläder worked closely with the production and says: “It was great to be the first company to supply a full CyberHoist II system in Europe and on such a dynamic and exciting tour. For many reasons CyberHoist II, with its silent, smooth, unrivalled accuracy, proved to be the ideal solution.”

Fullman concurs: “We rehearsed in Germany and as soon as we started using the CyberHoist II system I realised I could do much more with my design than I’d originally planned. The system offered considerable artistic freedom and rather than hindering the creative process it actually pushed it forward. There seemed to be no limit to where I could position the screens or how quietly and fast they could travel.”

The epitome of arena rock, Linkin Park’s set comprised a number of sharply angled semi-transparent video screens, which delivered layer upon layer of dynamic content. The screens also moved up and down above the stage action, sometimes at speed, sometimes more slowly, revealing or masking band members positioned on plinths.

Fullman says that the CyberHoist II brought a surprising new dynamic show: “I wanted to add elements that would echo and complement the huge energy of the band and convey that energy to the audience. CyberHoist enabled us to create entirely new scenic looks and atmospheres, often with phenomenal speed.”

Working closely with Fullman and in charge of programming and operation was experienced CyberHoist II operator Ingo Koenzen: “The new CyberHoist II is ideal for touring, primarily because it’s pretty much plug and play. Every element is inside the hoist. Best of all we don’t have to worry about where to put controller boxes, all I need is power and a data cable for each hoist and we’re ready to go.”

However for Koenzen the big advantage is also in the fast programming as he explains: “It’s really simple, the console surface is so intuitive to use. The whole system is built around object orientated programmingusing CyberMotion’s MotionCue3D operating console, which means I just have to tell the console the height and angle that the object should fly at and when. I don’t have to worry about the number of hoists required to move an object or what each is doing, I just have to worry about the object itself.”

Of course if you want more detail you have it: “I can have full control of everything that happens, continues Koenzen. “I can read every load and with one click I can see every actuator and what’s happened with it.”

Fullman was impressed: “As Ingo says it’s very fast to program – no sooner had I expressed what I wanted Ingo had done it! We could plot moves in real time and watch the transitions back quickly. In the end I had so many new ideas that we went from the five original automation cues to 20!”

In charge of rigging and automation for the tour was Chris Wilson: “The CyberHoist II system fitted very well into our tour and certainly delivered above and beyond what we were expecting. What stood out for me was that there was no jogging of the screens when the hoists stopped moving; it was super-smooth and accurate. Critically this minimised the dynamic load on the rigging to next to nothing. Secondly the built in SIL3 safety compliance that CyberHoist II offers gave myself and tour director Jim Digby absolute confidence that when the screens were moving the artists and crew below were safe.”

Fullman concludes that he’s now an advocate of the CyberHoist II system; “I was delighted with all the options it gave us from both a practical and a creative perspective, it was a fantastic experience all round.”

Avolites continues Prolight + Sound ‘Arena’ console buzz at PLASA Focus, Leeds

7th May, 2015

UK/Germany – Avolites proved its truly international appeal at Prolight + Sound 2015, teaming up with dealers, distributors and friends from around the world to celebrate the launch of its Arena console, the new Titan V9 operating system, and its industry-leading new features such as Autoblend.

Visitors to the Avolites Prolight + Sound stand came from more than 40 countries, and included a high number of potential new distributors, especially from North and West Africa and the Caribbean.

Now, the Avolites team is continuing the buzz by debuting its well-received new products in the UK at PLASA Focus, Leeds, on stand N-D01.

“The Arena consoles attracted a huge amount of attention during April’s Prolight + Sound in Frankfurt – we were inundated with lighting designers, rental companies and specifiers, generating a fantastic response from many of the people who came to see the new arrival to the Titan product range,” says Avolites’ Sales Director Koy Neminathan. “They were pleased to see the vast array of faders and buttons alongside an integrated touch screen, as well as the 7″ touch screen and the rotary encoders. The unique Optical Switch built in to the console was hailed as an incredibly useful tool. We took over 30 orders for Arena and the Optical Titan Net Switch just on the first day and look forward to exhibiting it in Leeds!”

The Avolites Arena is the ideal console for festivals, theatres and anywhere that a larger control surface is required. It combines the popular interface of the Tiger Touch II with 30 additional Playback faders and expanded live control options and features.

Alongside the vibrant main display, a second touch screen provides an additional workspace window, also labelling the adjacent macro buttons and rotary pots.

These fully assignable playback encoder pots allow intuitive control of channels and effects. The six LCD screens display electronic legends for 30 faders, for speedy access to all your playbacks, fixtures and palettes.

A brand new optical output means the Arena is equipped for fibre connections, with no signal loss over long distances, from front of house to the stage – essential in large and outdoor venues.

Offering seamless Multi User compatibility, the Arena can be used as master, back-up or extra programming surface, considerably cutting your programming time by allowing multiple Titan programmers to work simultaneously, before the main console takes charge.

Arena is capable of processing 16 DMX universes, with 8 physical DMX outputs, and this can be further expanded with Titan Net Processors for up to 64 universes.

Both the new Arena and Quartz consoles offer MIDI in and headphone out on the console as well as a 7 band Audio Trigger functionality.

Arena will be running the incredible ‘hot-off-the-press’ Titan V9 software, which includes a multitude of new features, including the amazing new Key Frame Shapes, providing the capability to create radically different looks while using the same pallets in seconds; Align, for effortless value copying from existing fixtures to new fixture groups, either in a recurring pattern or a smooth fade; RGBW and ARGB colour mixing and Pixel Mapping to get maximum punch and more accurate colours from your LED fixtures, thanks to new, four-channel pixel mapping and colour mixing, and several new Theatrical functions – Titan now supports MIDI Show Control, and many more useful options.

On stand, visitors can also experience demos of the revolutionary Autoblend feature of Ai.

Autoblend distinctly sets Ai apart from the competition by allowing blending of large projection surfaces using multiple projectors. In addition, there is a brand new Surface Modelling page for the creation of editable 3D sets, and performance is hugely improved, with render engine optimisation offering 50% increased video throughput. Compositing high-resolution background layers with low-resolution foreground layers is also much improved.

Products on stand include: Tiger Touch II networked with Multiuser, Sapphire System with EX4, Quartz + Mobile Wing, Tiger Touch II + Fader Wing, Sapphire Media with EX8/S8, Titan Mobile, Quartz with S6 server, and dimmers.

PLASA Focus Leeds takes place at the Royal Armouries Museum on Tuesday 12 May and Wednesday 13 May 2015. Avolites is on stand N-D01.

Charcoalblue celebrates launch of its Bristol Design Studio

5th May, 2015

UK – Theatre consultancy Charcoalblue is continuing to expand its operations by opening its first UK regional Design Studio in Bristol.

The Bristol Studio is located next to the oldest continuously working theatre in the UK, and one of Charcoalblue’s first commissions: Bristol Old Vic.

“We’re thrilled to have opened up a new studio in the City of Bristol where our team of designers can work to deliver exciting projects in the South and West,” says Charcoalblue’s managing partner, Andy Hayles. “We spent some time looking for the right space and location and are delighted to be at number 35 King Street, right next to the Bristol Old Vic. Securing this wonderful location means that Charcoalblue’s Bristol team are close to a significant local performing arts community, just as our current team is in London, something we’re incredibly proud of. In addition Birdsong, which is produced by Charcoalblue associate Jon Woodley and lit by senior consultant Alex Wardle, is currently playing at BOV.”

Charcoalblue has been working on a series of phased projects with Bristol Old Vic since the company’s inception in 2004, as Hayles explains: “Following the successful £12m auditorium refurbishment in 2011, we have now joined forces with the Haworth Tompkins architectural team, which has recently secured planning permission for Bristol Old Vic’s new foyer and studio redevelopment.”

It’s expected that Charcoalblue’s presence in Bristol will also open the door for new talent as Hayles points out: “Bristol is still an affordable place to buy a house. We have a growing team so it’s exciting to be able to offer them the opportunity to pursue their chosen careers and at the same time enable them to live outside of London.”

Charcoalblue senior consultants: Ian Stickland, Steve Roberts and Gary Wright are already settling into the Grade II listed, converted cork warehouse and talented consultants from the University of Surrey’s Tonmesiter course Joe Stansfield and Dan Dando are expected to join them in the summer.

Ian Stickland comments: “It’s great to be closer to our clients in the City – St George’s, Bristol University, not to mention Wells Cathedral School and Chapter in Cardiff. We’re now able to offer better value and an even more responsive service!”

Steve Roberts adds: “Having lived and commuted from the South West to London for nearly a decade, it’s a pleasure and considerably more environmentally friendly to be based in the UK’s best connected digital city. Bristol also benefits from fantastic graduate programmes plus we are now closer to some of our most esteemed design partners including AHMM, Fielden Clegg Bradley and Purcell.”

The official opening of Charcoalblue’s Bristol operation commenced on Friday 1st of May and the contact details are:

Charcoalblue LLP
35 King Street, Bristol, BS1 4DZ
0117 925 9791


01273 660784

12-14 The High Street,