London, UK based Rental Company Entec Sound & Light supplied sound and lighting equipment plus 19 crew for a non-stop get-in, show and performance marathon "Night of Bliss", the biggest ever Christian Conference in the UK - for the Christ Embassy Church at the O2 Arena.
The event featured various Christ Embassy ministers who delivered blessings, prayers and sermons to the crowd. Speakers included Pastor Anita and Pastor Chris Oyakhilome. A live worship band and a choir of over 1000 voices accompanied them. The whole event was also recorded for DVD.
Entec's seriously gruelling schedule demanded some nimble logistics, so they brought Simon Tutchener onboard as technical production manager for the project, to integrate their services into a vast XL Video set-up, Hawthorn Set Design and 4 Rigging Teams from Summit Steel. Eat To the Beat and Stage Miracles completed the cast. Tutchener was also the anchor between client and the 02 staff Emma Beszant, Alex Donnelly-Palmer and Summit's Simon Frost.
The get in commenced at 6 a.m. on the Thursday. Everything had to be rigged, sound-checked, focussed and ready for the first rehearsals at midday on Friday followed directly by the show from 5 p.m. Friday till 5 a.m. Saturday. All production equipment then had to be clear of the venue by 3 p.m. on the Saturday.
Liam Halpin was Entec's sound designer, who also worked on the 2009 Christ Embassy show - also serviced by Entec - at Wembley arena. The event utilised the whole of the O2 Arena with audience overspill accommodated in the O2's adjacent Indigo venue.
The main PA consisted of main & side hangs of d&b J8 cabinets, with J12s at the bottom of the hang for wider coverage of the nearfield, together with a centre cluster of d&b Q1s. The system was positioned to achieve the clearest and best possible coverage throughout the space, catering for many acoustic dynamics - from the spoken word to music and to multiple voice chorals/choir.
d&b J-SUBS were flown directly behind the main arrays, giving a zero point for all the delays and more expedient time alignment parameters than hanging the subs to the sides of the main hangs. Ground infills and outfills were covered by d&b Q10s and Q7s & the whole system was driven by d&b D12 amps & processing. Before the show, the sound system was modelled using the latest version of d&b's Array Calc software, explains Halpin, which helped enormously with positioning, especially time being so precious. The PA return system was a fully digital RME MADI interface, with the only analogue section being the mics and stage return boxes, which eliminated numerous potential issues like noise and weak signal transmissions.
FOH was mixed by Brother Mike using a DigiDesign D-Show Venue console, looked after by Kevin Smith & Owen McAuley. Additional sound feeds from the main stage were sent to Indigo.
A Yamaha PM5D was supplied for monitors mixed by Entec engineers Justin Grealey & Iain White. They worked in double shifts both ends of the multicore to ensure that there was always a fresh engineer at the desks.
The monitor system was a combination of d&b M2s and M4s wedges all over stage with a single C7 cabinet for side fill, flown each side. Another 2 hangs of Q1s were hung for choir monitors as they were in the seating behind the stage. E3s were utilised for the dressing rooms to enable the Pastors to hear what was going on during the event. One of the specific requests from production was to keep the stage as clean as possible, so the monitor wedges were all concealed in custom-built hides.
Entec also supplied multiple radio mics with Guy Gillen as radio tech along with full mics and stands package which included a number of mid-side & gun mics for the choir. Other stage & PA techs were James Kerridge & Lee Furnell.
Matt Hay assisted by Juan Ayala ran a D-Show Profile supplied as the recording console, hooked into a Pro Tools recording system. There was also a fully redundant Pro Tools system fed from analogue source as back-up.
The challenge was the tight timescale, and the installation of the recording system - it was a large amount of gear needing to be integrated very quickly, straight into sound check, rehearsal then directly into the live show.
Entec's lighting crew faced all the same time-based issues as audio. Ryan Brown joined the show delivery team again to design lighting following his highly successful work on last year's event.
The show provided many design challenges; combining a large stage area that had to be lit for TV as well as a complex set. Planning and modelling the truss locations were essential, as video and audio required clear lines of sight. Working with XL Video, Ryan and Liam planned the location of all the trusses. Over the stage lighting, video and set trusses as well as audio cable bridges all occupied the same space so precise trim heights became crucial. At this point Simon Tutchener stepped in to plan the load in and load outs as well as truck packs to ensure everything was built and flown in order.
Video also complicated matters installing a 50ft crane at the side of stage as well as remote 'hot-head' cameras on the lighting trusses. In the end Ryan settled on a truss grid that extended over the entire 60 x 70ft stage area as an advance truss. This was occupied by 2Kw Fresnels and over a hundred par-cans in order to provide an even 'TV' wash throughout the stage.
The set was hung from two dedicated trusses and was lit by Martin Mac 2000 Profiles, Mac 700 profiles, Mac 250 Beams as well as JTE 1044s. The combined effect was stunning with the director of photography commenting, “it doesn't look real”. Ryan said afterwards that: “The Mac beams were purchased by Entec as an effect light, however they worked amazingly well lighting the set's 1m by 12m panels.”
The set itself was installed by Hawthorn Theatrical and was made up of spandex panels and fabric strips. This was hung at staggered depths, which allowed lighting elements independently. “The complexity and depth of this set allowed us to make many different looks which was crucial for such a long show,” commented Ryan.
Filming the show for DVD added another challenge, as it required the audience to be lit throughout. This was accomplished with a series of house trusses covered in Vari*lite 2500s, 2 lite Mole-fays and City Colours. “The audience reaction to what happened on stage was vital to the DVD so the house lights were extremely important to our client.” explains Ryan.
XL video provided several jibs and cranes as well as the hot-heads and four projection screens. The client provided over twenty cameras that were mixed by XL onto the screens and recorded for DVDs.
The final tally of 160 moving lights filled 8 universes controlled by a GrandMA Full size operated by Ryan, as well as two GrandMA lights, and two NSPs. Avolites dimmers and Entec's custom-built distros worked for the 24hours straight of rehearsals and show without complaint.
Simon “Boff” Howarth looked after dimmers backstage while Sudip Shrestha took care of dimmers in the house. A dedicated crew consisting of Crew Boss Simon Chandler-Honnor, Simon Baker, Andy Emerson, Stephen “Sven” Jolly and Michael Straun assisted them. Steve 'Clem' Clements was the Entec production rigger. Dave Raven and Richard Letchford looked after the in house followspots for the duration of the event.
After all was said and done, the client summarised: “We were very happy with the level of the production, especially the sound and lighting and are already looking forward to next year.”
For more press info on Entec, please call Louise Stickland on +44 (0)1865 202679/+44 (0)7831 329888 or Email [email protected]'. To contact Entec direct, call +44 (0)20 8842 4004 or check www.entec-soundandlight.com.