Leading UK lighting rental company HSL is supplying lighting, a 26-point Kinesys automation system and crew to one of 2009's most visually exciting world tours to date – Snow Patrol's “One Hundred Million Suns”.
This has kicked off in the UK and Europe with a provocative, molten mix of 4 dynamic visual mediums – lighting, digital lighting, video and movement – bringing a lively new definition to the concept of “creative synergy!”
The imaginative force behind this spectacular show comes from Davy Sherwin (lighting & visuals designer), Robin Haddow (live visuals director) and video director Blue Leach. Thy work as one, the aim of their seamless teamwork to ensure that all the lighting, video, visuals and movement cues contrast, compliment, match and juxtapose in complete harmony.
HSL and project manager Mike Oates are renewing their acquaintance with the band after working with them throughout 2007. Oates says, “It's just brilliant to be involved on a show that looks this good. An incredible amount of hard work, ideas, imagination and intelligence has gone into making it work, and the end results speak for themselves!”
Sherwin's design start point was running a few ideas by the band, and coming up with a general LED and moving light “vibe” that he felt suited the mood and music of the new album. That concept extended to the metalwork layout, and he chose to have 5 raked upstage/downstage trusses referencing back to the sun rays of the album title.
These are hinged down at the upstage end, allowing them to be flown in and close up to the performance space for the subtler and more intimate moments.
Upstage, behind 8 columns of Barco O-lite video screen, are 5 lighting pods each continuing 4 Vari*Lite 3500 Wash fixtures and 2 Martin Professional Atomic Colours. These pods are also rigged on Kinesys motors so they can glide in and out during the show for “powerful old skool ACL effects” explains Sherwin.
Lighting fixtures are distributed across the fingers and on the floor. He's using 34 Robe ColorWash 2500E ATs – 30 in the rig and 4 on the downstage corners of stage for powerful side lighting. Twenty V*L 3000 Spots are positioned in the air with a further 8 upstage on the floor, used for moody low level beam and gobo effects cutting through the band and backline.
Twenty i-Pix BB4s - 4 per finger - are lined up along the underside of each finger, following the line of the truss. These provide an alternative source for washing the stage. Sherwin particularly likes the colour range and the quality of the pastels they produce. Five BB16 blinders are positioned on the downstage ends of the fingers – used for mega-bright audience blinding effects.
In addition to the 10 Atomics on the pods, there are another 20 dotted around the rig and 6 upstage on the floor, along with five 4-cell Moles with scrollers which add a bright tungsten source that pushes out from behind the backline.
Side lighting is further supplemented with three 2-lites a side, complete with black-wrap â€˜eyelids' keeping them tightly focussed on illuminating the front floor line.
The upstage truss has a kabuki drop that reveals a white trevira fabric projection surface, used for the final of 3 sections of a show-stopping end-of-gig gag!
The front truss consists of a shallow box. On the front rail (nearest stage) is another white trevira fabric kabuki drop which comes in during the encore break. The four Robert Juliat Ivanhoe 2.5K follow spots are also located on this box, for a tight and neat path to the stage with minimum overspill.
The show was a very close collaboration between Sherwin, Haddow and Blue from the outset. Once the design was finalised and before rehearsals, Sherwin started programming on an ESP Vision visualiser system. When he'd finished, recorded each song onto hard drive, he rendered it as a QuickTime movie and sent it to Leach, so when Leach and Haddow were creating and programming the screen looks, colours and effects, they could mirror and reference Sherwin's lighting cues.
For control, HSL is supplying three WholeHog 3 consoles. One, complete with USB wing, is operated by Sherwin, the other by Haddow, triggering 3 Catalyst media servers running all the video playback content and sending all video sources to screens or to 4 Barco digital moving lights, and the third is a backup.
The Kinesys system (which also lifts the 8 columns of O-Lite up and down) is piloted by Rupert Reynolds, a complete aficionado of its Vector control software, who makes a breeze of getting the most complex effects to look effortless.
Also onboard is another very experienced crew from HSL – featuring Ian Lomas, Tim Oliver, Rob Starksfield, Tom Wright and Andy Hilton, chief'd by Johnny Harper.
Sherwin comments, “HSL are great to work with as always – the kit's in good condition and the crew are fantastic”.
Snow Patrol will be touring throughout 2009.