XL Video is supplying 180 Spider 40 LED tiles, a Catalyst digital media server and crew for the Kaiser Chiefs current “Off With Their Heads” tour.
These are an integral digital component of Richard Larkum's lighting and visual design, and take the look and feel of the Kaiser's almost non-stop touring schedule over the last 2 years to a new and different dimension.
Larkum states, "The band and I were determined that any 'video' elements interfaced seamlessly with the lighting”. He also wanted a digital lightsource with its own visual integrity, and definitely not a massive LED surface that dominated the performance space.
Larkum looked at several different product options before choosing the low resolution Spider 40 to form the â€˜textural backdrop' he envisioned. Its semi-transparency was perfect for his creative requirement for it to melt unobtrusively into the upstage wall of lights, while its light weight allowed it to be rigged in the random fashion he wanted, and the BNC cabling is straightforward.
XL UK's project manager Jo Beirne says, "It's always fun and exciting working with Richard - his ideas are innovative and varied and he never loses sight of the basic elements of lighting a band onstage well, and for the enjoyment of the audience".
The "lighting tiles" as they've became known on the tour are configured as 38 different sized screens, ranging from singles to 3 x 3s, all hung asymmetrically with steels from the 8 overhead trusses, with the lowest ones rigged on floor stands.
With no IMAG to distract from the visual picture, creating the right content was crucial to making the tiles work for Larkum's rock show scheme. They are used heavily for spectacular colour effects and occasionally for shape effects running across the whole surface area, adding a varying and vibrant quality of light to the overall visual equation.
XL Video asked Richard Stembridge onboard to work alongside Larkum and produce show content. "Richie (Stembridge) was absolutely brilliant" says Larkum, "I gave him a brief for the start of an idea which he took, developed, it and made it a reality". Making the tiles work as a lighting effect also required the creation of very precise content to produce the rich hues and colour saturations.
Working in low resolution also increased the challenge of this task, for which Stembridge produced original artwork in Photoshop which was animated using Apple Motion.
At the end of last year, they did an Academy size tour using twenty Spider 40 tiles, which allowed them to look at what they'd already produced, how it worked on the surface, and how it could be expanded to a larger version. This also fueled many more ideas for content and effects. They also realized that they only have to run the tiles at about 10% intensity to get a perfect balance with the lights, which include Martin Professional MAC 2K moving lights and shed loads of Molfeys!
Currently, content is run through the tiles for 12 out of 21 songs of the Kaiser's energetic set. This is all programmed into the Catalyst which is triggered via Lakum's Hog iPC console running in Hog 3 mode.
As intended from the outset of the design, when not in use, the tiles blend subtly into the background, which includes an eye-catching 80ft wide grey ruched backdrop.
The Kaiser Chiefs continue touring in Australia and Asia before bursting on to the European summer festival season.