LED screen, drapes and special FX specialist S+H Technical Services supplied their Glux 12mm LED screen to the current UK and European tour by maverick rock band 10cc which is celebrating 40 years since their seminal “Sheet Music” album. Released in 1974 this was their second album which received worldwide critical acclaim and remained in the UK charts for an incredible six months! It’s generally considered to be one of THE most influential studio albums of the 20th century.
The LED screen was specified by video and visuals designer Ian Holmes of Essex, UK based XIVIX … having used it very successfully on previous tours.
It’s the second tour for which he co-ordinated the video elements for 10cc, where he was again collaborating very closely with lighting designer Russell “Tigger” Matthews - they have also previously worked together on the ‘Genesis Revisited’ European tour by Steve Hackett throughout 2013 and “make a good team” says Ian.
Ian sourced the video hardware from S+H because he thinks the Ilfracombe, Devon company is “really helpful and very easy to deal with – nothing is ever a problem – with excellent service and support”. He’s worked on several previous projects with S+H including various Kim Wilde tours since 2012.
S+H’s Terry Murtha comments, “Ian’s designs always look fresh and new, and he manages to maximise the dynamics of however much kit is available to use”.
The requirement was for a lightweight and easy to rig screen solution that was adaptable and practical for the wide mix of venues on the itinerary that could be rigged quickly and easily. “This is one of the most handle-able and reliable screens I’ve encountered to date,” says Ian.
The screen was arranged as five 3 metre high by I metre wide columns anchored to trussing towers which were spaced one metre apart and fitted to ingenious ‘skate’ bases devised by Ian, Tigger, Andy “Jurgen” Munford - Ian’s dep for the middle section of the tour due to pre-existing commitments with Kim Wilde’s Netherlands tour – and tour lighting supplier Neg Earth.
The skates allowed the screens to be moved manually into two configurations - the five columns and one single 5 x 3 metre block which was used for a Kevin Godley - original band member and ‘godfather of pop video’ - movie that played during “Somewhere in Hollywood”.
With only 40 seconds to do the move and get all five columns lined up perfectly as one piece – a task considerably more challenging than it sounds - the screen design needed the application of magic theatrical engineering in conjunction with lightweight product (to keep the centre of mass low on raked stages)! Ian comments this was just one of the “fun” technical challenges for video on this tour.
The skates provided a stable movable ground-supported base so the columns could be pushed together and aligned perfectly each time.
They are essential to deal with scenarios like raked stages where standard floor bases would not work or where local rigging restrictions prevent flying. “It’s proved a great way to get video into smaller venues” elucidates Ian, adding “although there has been a requirement for degree level Tetris on some of the load-ins”!
Ian created and programmed the video content on his Green Hippo media servers for all but “Somewhere in Hollywood” for which visuals were designed and produced by Kevin Godley himself. In this moody piece Kevin sang the lead vocal and appeared to be floating above the band on the screens - now configured as the single block surface.
Seven tracks of vocals plus click were also played back on the Hippotizers, along with a MIDI timecode that synced the video and audio perfectly. LoopMIDI was used to link up the midi signals internally to the server without a cable in sight, using a technique developed by Ian and Green Hippo for the tour.
Audio was provided by ESS, and the five week tour concluded at the end of October.
Photo by Ian Holmes