XL Video supplied full video production - screen, cameras, PPU, Catalyst media servers and crew for the concluding date of Elbow's recent UK tour at Wembley Arena, London.
This was project managed for XL by Des Fallon, with live direction by Jon Shrimpton. Fallon comments “From my first meeting with management and production, Elbow have been a pleasure to work with. The show was immense! A very special evening.”
Shrimpton worked in close collaboration with Mark Thomas from Soup Collective who designed and produced all the playback visuals, and Hugh Davies Webb, who was brought in by XL to run the Catalyst media server that was at the hub of the live video show control.
"The visual cues were all very precise and we had no physical rehearsals, so this was a major challenge,” recalls Shrimpton. The three of them had several meetings to establish, run through and build a structure for the show, but on the night, it was all completely live and direct operation. "It's a very exciting way to work and certainly keeps you on your toes!" says Shrimpton.
The screen was shaped like an offset cross, referencing back to artwork on the "Seldom Seen Kid" album, and constructed from 60 panels of 10mm Barco O-Lite LED, forming an impressive upstage backdrop.
Onto this went an eclectic blend of playback and IMAG footage – sometimes with the two elements dynamically overlaid, and sometimes with them each running separately.
Shrimpton's camera system consisted of 3 operated Sony D35s, one stationed at FOH, one in the pit and one hand-held onstage.
True to his style, there was also a collection of remotes - one robot cam, 3 mini cams and 3 IR cams, dotted all over the stage, pointing at the band members and their instruments, along with one pointing at a black & white TV for special effects, very much in line with the Shrimptonesque oeuvre. This was used once and highly effectively for "Some Riot" one of the numbers off the new album.
He mixed the show from the FOH position, "a completely logical place to do it from considering the collaborative nature of the show" he comments. It's also something that's becoming increasingly common for video directors working as part of a visuals team as opposed to just doing their own thing. Apart from being in close proximity to Davies-Webb and Thomas, Lighting designer Cate Carter was also there, working her own share of imagination into the look of the show.
Six feeds from Shrimpton's GV Kayak mixer were sent to Davies-Webb to output via the Catalyst, and between the two of them, they applied specific treatments like tinting and black & whiting, all the time being mindful not to overdo it!
The playback sources were also stored and played back via the Catalyst, and like the camera feeds, were masked and shaped in the media server. “It was an amazing show,” states Shripmton, “We all worked very hard to get it flowing, and the end result came through some great teamwork and intuition running between all of us”.
A special end-of-gig effect involved Shrimpton in an additional element of spontaneity – when he recorded the audience during a jubilant moment early on in the show, which was stored on a Doremi hard drive, edited live then played out during the last number of the set. This went down a storm with the audience, and proved a perfect end to a memorable performance.
XL supplied a strong crew for the occasion, with Carl Martin as crew chief, Bjorn Parry (engineer), Dave Carlton and Chris Isaacson (screen techs), Ron Conley (camera operator) and Rob Wick (camera operator). A special guest appearance was made by leading video director Ruarie MacPhie, who likes to keep a hand in at the sharp end of the video world …. And operated the hand-held onstage.