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Archive for December, 2016

Avolites is quick off the draw for Bullet for my Valentine

30th December, 2016

Lighting designer Tom Campbell has selected an Avolites Tiger Touch II and backup Quartz to control his richly empathetic lighting design for metal-core band Bullet for my Valentine (BFMV) on their recent worldwide tour in support of their 2015 album ‘Venom’. 

The Welsh rockers received ‘Best British Band’ three years in a row (2008-2010) and ‘Best Live Band’ (2010) at the Kerrang! Awards as well as ‘Best British Band’ twice at the Metal Hammer Golden God’s Awards (2006 and 2010). This year the popular quartet returned with a show-stopper of a tour, studiously lit, designed and controlled by Campbell who counts Anna Calvi for which he won a Knight Of Illumination Award in 2015, Katy B, Leon Bridges and John Grant in his resume.

“BFMV knew what they wanted from this tour and more importantly what they didn’t want,” says Campbell, who cites talks over sushi with the band and international skype as the birthplaces of the show’s design zeitgeist. “Through these conversations it became obvious the feel for the show was a big ‘classic’ rock gig with a modern twist. We wanted to use cutting-edge fixtures that could emulate the looks of classic conventional fixtures and at the same time bring exciting effects to the stage that the audience may not have seen before.”

The fastidious perfectionism of lead singer Matt Tuck meant that Campbell’s lighting design had to be responsive, detailed and note-perfect to match the integrity of the music. Campbell, a huge fan of Avolites, brought in his own Tiger Touch II console to control the design and networked a Quartz as backup. 

Ensuring that the band were always in receipt of top-end production technology Campbell ran both Avolites consoles with the latest Titan V10 software and cites some of the software’s newest features as key time savers in his set-up. 

“Titan V10 is another big step forward for Avolites,” says Campbell. “For this tour the addition of the ‘Free Form Workspaces’ feature has been a real bonus. 

“The Free Form Workspaces has allowed me to pick and position the size of my windows on the console’s touchscreen and store them to my workspaces. This meant that I could have more than just four workspace windows up at any one time.  When working to such detail and with such limited set-up time, anything that gives me quick access to my design elements is key in programming a smooth running show.”

In an unusual twist BFMV decided to reject the traditional format of touring just one show. Instead the band decided to give fans the choice of attending two different shows – night one was the ‘normal’ set of the current album songs and hits, with night two focused on the band’s first record ‘The Poison’ in full, along with an encore of fan favourites.

“Titan V10’s ‘Setlist Function’ meant that depending on what the audience voted for as an encore I could easily scroll through and find the correct song file. This saved a huge amount of time and meant that the show transitioned seamlessly and I was able to focus on creating live lighting states and detail.”

“I ran the Quartz as a tracking backup via TitanNet but never had the need for it to take over the system,” says Campbell. “For the ‘Fly shows’ – shows where we had to fly all the equipment in, such as concerts in rural environments where driving was not an option, the small footprint of the Quartz really did help. We weren’t always headlining on every show we did, some of the show’s being festivals such as Sziget festival in Budapest or Rock for People festival in Prague, being able to fit anywhere at front of house anywhere in the world with the Quartz was always a huge bonus.

“The Quartz is so compact that it easily fits it into an Avolites travel case with space for a wing, and I could take it on a plane as luggage. This meant that I could take the show-file accessible on a familiar surface all the way to the other side of the world. When you are pressed for time, jetlagged and in unfamiliar settings being able to access your design on a console you know is invaluable.”

BFMV ended their tour in a sell-out gig at the famous Brixton O2 Academy London. The band released their most recent record ‘Don’t Need You’ on November 7th. 

Avolites powers astronomical lighting for Pierce the Veil

28th December, 2016

Celebrated lighting designer Jeff Maker employed an Avolites Sapphire Touch to drive his other-worldly design for Californian pop-punk quartet Pierce the Veil’s UK and Ireland tour, which followed the release of their highly anticipated fourth studio album ‘Misadventures’.

 

Maker, who has been nominated for the Parnelli Awards’ Lighting Designer of the Year (2012), and twice nominated for the TPi Awards’ Lighting Designer of the Year (2015 and 2016) is a longstanding Avolites fan, having used the British manufacturer’s products for the past decade.

 

“I’ve operated and programmed on basically every version of every console out on the market and I still find that Avo is my preference!” says Maker. “I use the Sapphire Touch because it’s user friendly and it’s easy to edit all aspects of the show live if necessary. The console has a bright, sharp and precise touch screen and with the array of effects, from pixel mapping to key frame shapes, it helps me to create dynamic show files in half the time of other consoles.”

 

Maker’s tour design was based around two crashed rocket ship set pieces, using stark lighting to create a launch pad/space station vibe. After the show’s intro – an animation projected onto a white kabuki drop, which saw the band flying through galaxies and battling different aspects of the album artwork – the four-piece emerged in space suits and kicked off the show.

 

“I wanted to create a high-tech, spaceship look around the stage so turned to Elation Professional ACL 360 fixtures, rigging them on four separate upstage ladders.” Maker explains.

 

The rest of his rig consisted of 24 x Robe BMFL, 16 x Robe Pointe, 12 x Robe ROBIN 100, 8 x Robe ROBIN 600E Spot, 8 x Molefay 4-Lites and eight Elation Protron 3K Color LED strobes. Using these fixtures, along with the rigged truss, ladders and floor package, Maker created a massive “V” as a nod to the band’s name.

 

“The band are very involved in the design process – they have an eye for detail,” says Maker. “I’m an admitted perfectionist so it fits really well with my design work. The band are fast paced, energetic and they connect with their fans on a very personal level. It’s fun to light up a band like that; to help them tell the story of each song, giving their fans the best experience possible.”

 

To answer the band’s thorough creative brief, Maker drew on the revamped software features of Avolites Titan version 10.

 

“I started using the Key Frame Shape feature on this particular tour and it’s been an exceptional help in programming multi-layered, complex looks for specific songs,” Maker reports. “It was a real game changer for my programming.”

 

Key Frame Shapes allows designers to create incredible effects from scratch. Using palettes to define the frames and powerful tools such as transition curves and spatial direction, it’s possible to create entirely different looks for various channels instantly.

 

“The set list feature is also one of my favorite things to use and I like how I can import any image and assign it to any touch screen button or fader. From colours to gobos or movement, literally any palette can be an imported image,” says Maker. “I genuinely discover cool new things with Titan version 10 every time I use it!”

 

Pierce the Veil formed in 2006 and have a myriad of awards under their belts, including the 2010 Peta2 Liberation Award for Breakthrough Artist and the 2014 Alternative Press Music Award for Best Live Band. The UK and Ireland tour ran from the 25th of November until the 6th December.

Avolites gets festive on Oxford Street for NSPCC Little Stars

22nd December, 2016

Avolites has powered lighting for a one-off star-studded concert at the official switch-on of Oxford Street’s Christmas lights, where charity partner for the 2016 display the NSPCC hosted a ‘Children’s VIP day’ to celebrate the launch of its festive fundraising campaign ‘Little Stars’.

 

Oxford Street was completely closed to traffic between 9:30am and 8:30pm for the well-attended event, produced by London-based production company Wilde Ones. Pop rockers The Vamps and X Factor 2015-winner Louisa Johnson took to the stage, with lighting designer Paul de Villiers choosing an Avolites Titan Mobile and Titan Mobile Wing to control his super bright and twinkly design.

 

“The Titan Mobile is ideal for this type of pop-up event; it’s easy to fit into a tight control area and lightweight enough to able to move it around whenever needed,” says de Villiers, who has also worked for Wilde Ones at the Brighton Pride festival and previous years’ switch on events for the Oxford and Regent Street Christmas displays.

 

The versatile console is both small enough to carry as hand luggage on flights and large enough for complex shows. Used in conjunction with the Titan Mobile Wing, programming is made even more efficient, giving designers direct access to their most used items.

 

“I think I speak for most operators when I say you can never have enough faders to stash effects, looks and flash bumps on – live playback is a great feature,” continues de Villiers. “I’ve been using Avolites for over ten years and have always loved the fast programming and intuitive control across the range of products.”

 

To reflect the stellar theme of the NSPCC campaign, which encourages members of the public to donate £5 to name one of Oxford Street’s starlights, de Villiers worked alongside Chris Carr of Lucid Illusions to design a series of LED star shapes, which framed the stage. These were constructed from Lucid Illusions’ translucent LED strips with custom brackets and rigging to achieve the five points and angles.

 

“The Pixel Mapper and Key Frame Shapes features in the Titan software were essential for achieving the smooth star and twinkly looks,” continues de Villiers.

 

The Titan Mobile controlled dazzling effects and energetic beam work from a rig of 8x Jarag-5, 24x Chauvet COLORband PiX IP, 12x Robe ROBIN LEDBeam 100, Robe ROBIN LEDWash 600, 8x Robe Pointe, 6x 2 Lite blinder, 4x Novalight and 12x Ayrton Magic Blades, the majority of which was supplied by Paul Jones at Ethix Management, with additional fixtures from Panalux and Colour Sound Experiment.

 

This is the 57th year Oxford Street has been adorned with light for the festive period with the 2016 display achieved using more than 1700 baubles and 750,000 LED bulbs. The honour of flicking the switch was bestowed on R&B superstar Craig David.

COMPANY PROFILE SERIES – MIRRAD

20th December, 2016

Based in London, MIRRAD is a collective of four lighting and show designers who, since coming together four years ago, have scooped up three Knight Of Illumination (KOI) Awards and seven award nominations.

 

The multi award winning team work individually and collaboratively to create unique lighting schemes for gigs, festivals and other live entertainment productions including: dance music pioneers Booka Shade, singer-songwriter Emeli Sandé, British reggae legends UB40, Scottish rockers Biffy Clyro, Irish pop rock band The Script, punk duo Slaves, grime legend KANO and X Factor winner Leona Lewis.

 

MIRRAD also designs and produces the lighting for Arcadia Spectacular – a British-led performance art extravaganza that combines lighting, video, sculpture, architecture, pyrotechnics, circus skills and electronic music.

 

The company’s formation was organic. Its founders, Jamie Thompson and Dave Cohen, met while studying theatre practice and lighting at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London. Upon graduation, both began freelancing as lighting designers. Thanks to their close friendship and shared passion for pioneering design, they decided the natural next step was to work together. The pair then moved into a studio in London and quickly joined forces with Francis Clegg, who discovered a love for lighting while studying for an engineering Master’s degree at Imperial College, London.

The fourth, and most seasoned member of the MIRRAD team is industry respected and prolific lighting pro Bryan Leitch who this summer lit the legendary Carole King at BST Hyde Park. Leitch mentored Thompson and Cohen in the early stages of their careers and he also gave Thompson his first job in the industry, assisting on Brit soul singer Joss Stone’s tour.

 

The company operates flexibly. The four designers switch between working on individual projects and collaborating on large-scale events. But they aren’t territorial about their solo work and when one designer is particularly busy, the others step in and ‘help out’ – providing additional creative or technical expertise and, where necessary, a fresh perspective.

 

The MIRRAD ethos is supportive, collaborative and innovative as Thompson discusses: “It sounds a bit clichéd, but we take a family approach and we try to look after each other. The thing about MIRRAD is that we’ve all got each other’s back and that’s really important.

 

“For us it’s about delivering a unique show, something that people haven’t seen before, and we genuinely love working with clients to make that happen.”

 

At the same time MIRRAD is expanding into video, recognising that delivering a truly integrated show calls for the provision of more than one visual element.

 

“We have always recognised that video and lighting go hand in hand,” says Thompson. “We’ve developed good relationships with several content creation companies and we work closely with them to produce something that is at one with the lighting. We want to make sure every element of the show functions together efficiently and that they all complement one another.”

 

When it comes to the collective’s equipment of choice to deliver these integrated shows, MIRRAD has relied on Avolites from the outset. The company has invested significantly, having purchased S8 and EX4 Ai media servers, with Thompson citing that they “offer the flexibility to manage more complex jobs with ease.”

 

The team has also recently completed construction of their own custom modified Avolites S8 Ai media server rack, complete with MIRRAD branded side panels. These racks have proved popular on dry hire, having recently gone out with UB40, Leona Lewis and Years & Years.

 

“The Ai servers were ideal for UB40, enabling us to seamlessly blend LED and projection from three 30k Barco projectors,” says Thompson. “The servers enabled us to map and align outputs quickly, while also giving us the perfect balance and control between the two surfaces.”

 

In addition MIRRAD owns a number of Avolites consoles, as Thompson explains:

“We made the decision to purchase the consoles because we were servicing a lot of shows and hiring in a lot of desks which didn’t feel like a good business model. We started off buying a couple of Tiger Touches and now we have one of the biggest stocks of Avolites desks in the UK. We’ve also got a fair number of media servers. Since then we’ve bought equipment as and when we needed it. We also offer well supported dry hires.”

 

Thompson likes the intuitive nature of Avolites consoles: “For me, it’s about having an easy-to-use graphical interface; being able to instinctively deliver what’s required in the most expedient way. Avolites design and manufacture great desks and offer everything a designer could need from busking to the most complex pre-programmed, time coded show,” he says.

 

Thompson’s favourite console is the Sapphire Touch because of its extensive work surface and multiple screens. He has his own personal Sapphire Touch, number 001, which has accompanied him on four world tours. Indeed, the MIRRAD designers use two Sapphire Touch consoles and a Sapphire Wing on the complex and demanding lighting scheme for Arcadia Spectacular.

 

MIRRAD first got involved with this unique show – involving a 50 tonne giant spider made from recycled military equipment – at Glastonbury Festival in 2014. Arcadia has since travelled to festivals and major events all over the world; in just the last few months it has visited Thailand, Taiwan and Australia. A MIRRAD designer is now always present because, although the show is time-coded, the nature of the live performance means adjustments are inevitable.

 

“Arcadia has to be spot on every time, because there are so many moving elements and people involved,” says Thompson.

 

Thompson and his MIRRAD colleagues have also worked closely with the team at Avolites on many of the technical aspects of this one-of-a-kind show and have developed a close working relationship with the company.

 

“I have always found that the team at Avolites listen to their users and that is a crucial part of their business model,” says Thompson. “They design products that people want to use and that’s key. If you’ve got a product that you look forward to using daily, it makes your life that bit happier.”

 

As for the future of the company, MIRRAD plans to continue to grow steadily while ensuring that the quality and artistic credibility of the collective’s work remains consistent and respected. “We never saw ourselves getting to where we are so quickly and we’re hugely grateful. Our aim is to continue down the same track, working hard on exciting and challenging projects and bringing our own unique creative approach to every job we collaborate on,” concludes Thompson. 

FIX8Group delivers immersive digital experience at LeadDog installation

13th December, 2016

LeadDog Marketing Group, the award-winning, integrated experiential marketing agency, recently appointed event technologist FIX8Group to manage, design and deliver the visual and digital technology for a boutique experiential installation in both Paris and London on behalf of the $46bn global personal technology company Lenovo.

 

Aimed at a curated group of Lenovo’s customers, the events attracted top architecture/engineering and technical firms to discover and experience the latest in Lenovo computer technology.

 

Conceived and led by LeadDog, the tech installation was built around a series of interactive digital drawing applications and a facsimile of a digitally enhanced underground train that featured an interactive LED floor, wall mounted touch screen technology and LED lit ceilings and walls.

 

With a brief to visually align the concept with Lenovo’s messaging on interconnectivity and the business’ controlled path into the future of technology, FIX8Group worked in tandem with two of Lenovo’s design teams to create and deliver the content, technology and control systems, along with the fabrication design team at Millington Associates who built the physical train carriage.

 

“For the touchscreens inside the tube train we liaised with production and an internal designer at Lenovo and for the interactive drawing package we worked with the internal digital team at LeadDog,” said production director for FIX8Group, John Montague. “All the content for the LED floor and the LED pixel tape roof in the underground train was created by FIX8Group digital animator Henry Crawfurd and programmed on site using blend and merging techniques in our Green Hippo media servers.”

 

FIX8Group provided the management and system design for several touchscreen drawing apps, which directly conveyed the resulting images to portrait-hung 75″ wall mounted televisions. The company also designed and specified the digital control and created the dynamic digital content that continuously played across the underground train’s bespoke LED floor and pixel mapped roof.

 

The project design demanded numerous technical elements, which had to work seamlessly together under continuous use for prolonged periods of time as Montague explained: “We needed robust tried and tested yet discrete technology that would impress a knowledgeable audience, evoking a futuristic and forward looking experience. We were working with multiple channel Bluetooth headset communications that needed to relate to the content on specific screens in a small space, which was challenging. We also had to seamlessly mix the Pixel tape mapping with the LED floor and content from the 55″ touchscreens, which in itself involved a HTML based interactive file and a host of other complex control systems.”

 

The multi-skilled FIX8Group also installed and managed all the wifi networks across the various venues for the guests and production along with all power and distribution for the entire event.

Avolites drives shock rock lighting for Marilyn Manson world tour

2nd December, 2016

Grammy-nominated, industrial hard-rock legend Marilyn Manson returned to Seoul for the first time in eight years as part of his solo world tour, delivering an energetic show for a legion of ardent fans at the Yes24 Live Hall. Lighting designer Corey Stewart drove the performance’s intense lighting using an Avolites Pearl Expert console and wing.

 

For the South Korean date, Stewart hired the console from Seoul-based rental company TKLS. His dynamic rig consisted of Claypaky Sharpys, Martin Mac Viper Profiles, Martin Viper Wash DXs, Martin Atomics and Fay Blinders.

 

Stewart is new to the Manson production family, having taken over as lighting designer in the summer for the Slipknot/Marilyn Manson North American tour. Using Avolites consoles since 2011, Stewart has also worked with the likes of Trivium, Misfits frontman Danzig and Of Mice and Men.

 

“I’ve been touring with Avolites consoles for the last five years – I find the consoles to be extremely user friendly, especially since the Titan software came out,” says Stewart. “The Exchange Mapping feature is really useful. I like that I can get in to a venue and adapt to a new house rig every night and appreciate being able to load shows from any console within the Titan range – it allows me to keep the integrity of the show.”

 

Fixture exchange has been further enhanced in recent Titan versions with a unique, visual, Attribute Mapping System. Designers can customise any fixture exchange to fit their needs; for example, old Gobo 1 to new Gobo 3.

 

Opting for a series of kabuki-style backdrops, instead of a video element to the show, Stewart’s lighting took centre-stage. Using crimson reds, stark whites and moody blues, the designer was able to create the gritty, nightmarish atmosphere often linked with Manson’s catalogue of hits. “Avolites consoles are so adaptable, touching up existing colour and position pallets is extremely fast.”

 

As part of his world tour Marilyn Manson toured North America with Slipknot throughout the summer, before embarking on a run of solo dates, including Seoul’s Yes24 Live Hall performance on the 4th of November. 

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