In three short years, the Fray has gone from opening for acts like Weezer to headlining tours of their own. Their current tour started on June 12 in Atlanta and has the Denver based band playing sheds, theaters, and performing arts centers through the summer, all across the US and into Canada and finishes up the first leg at the other end of the country, in Spokane Washington on August 7 with another US run shortly after for the month of September.
For those shows, and all of the 31 dates in between, Nocturne Productions is there. Nocturne's work on the elaborate stage setting had the Toronto Sun's Jane Stevenson observing, “Certainly, selling millions of albums and picking up some Grammy nominations along the way has paid off in terms of production with the band playing in front of a striking curved wall of lights and a four-way split video screen above them.”
The remarkable Bruce Ramus designed set has three concentric five foot high by 75 foot wide (14 panels wide by one panel high) ranks of V-Brite panels. The panels bend around the area where the band plays, hung from sections of curved pipe attached to the main stage lighting grid. These three tiers of panels are topped by another seven-and-a-half foot high by 42 foot wide row of V9 high definition LED panels, five panels high by 28 panels wide. Both the V-Brite and V9 panels are manufactured by Nocturne in conjunction with LSI-Saco.
“As the lighting grid goes up,” Nocturne crew chief and LED tech Eric Geiger says, “we build our rows of video that hang off of it. We always like to make sure that everything is working 100% before it flies out of reach since it's always easier to work on something at ground level than it is to work on something 20 feet in the air wearing a climbing harness.”
The load in and set up takes Geiger and fellow LED tech Mike Wawro about four hours, working in conjunction with the main lighting crew. “The most difficult part of the set-up is trying to balance the pace of our load in with lightings' load in,” says Geiger.. “If we take too long to build a certain section then we can hold up the entire load in. If we have an issue and need to make repairs then that will hold up lighting and they can't continue. We must work hand in hand and be on the same page. Making this happen is obtained by prioritizing what is most important so that the pace of all the departments isn't compromised. Everyone is working for the same goal and we all help each other out.”
As elaborate as the display, the input for the display is equally innovative, sophisticated, and ingenious. A Green Hippo media server, running through a Barco Encore and an SDI switcher feeds the V-Brite LED and sometimes the V9 LED as well. However, the V9 LED is mostly used in four sections, each a black and white image of a member of The Fray. These images are shot with a black and white security camera system that also runs through the Barco.
“All the cameras except one are fixed lipstick sized security cameras,” Geiger explains. “They are all manually positioned everyday before the show and locked into place. Each band member has between three or four fixed cameras on them plus the long lens at the front of house position that roams between members depending on the song. All the feeds go through four grass valley routers and each router feeds one screen. If you think of each router as one screen and each router has the same 16 camera feeds going to it we can do any combination of cameras to the screens. The cameras are in the same spot every night and the band has learned their positions. It's not so much that the band has marks to stand on. We set the cameras up in such a way as to capture them in a natural setting instead of directing them to play to the camera.”
The one wild card in all of this is one manned camera, run by Wawro. All the images get fed through a 16 channel security camera multi-viewer, so that Videographer Rod Blackhurst can choose which images are best. He sends them through the Barco to whichever screen suits the moment.
“The screens act as a blank canvas,” says Geiger. “The Encore lets us place the selected images anywhere on that canvas.”
Nocturne Productions leads the way in Live Event Video Production. Nocturne has earned Video Company of the Year for the last two years running for Tour Guide's Top Dog Award, The Parnelli Award and the Pollstar Award during that time. Nocturne provides HD and SDI systems, Video projection, V-9 High Resolution LED Screens, V-Lite Medium Resolution LED Screens, V-Brite Low Resolution LED screens along with innovative stagecraft and technology.