Lüz Studio, a Montreal-based company, was contracted for the lighting, production and video design of the After The Disco tour for American Indie band Broken Bells (Danger Mouse and James Mercer).
Drawing inspiration from their retro-futuristic visual universe, the stage design aimed to take the fans on a visual odyssey. The official artwork of the band, a pink orb, was the primary focus for the décor. It dictated the shape of the screen, a printed backdrop whose projection surface featured concentric semi-circles from white to black. All other stage-related elements were designed with this circular shape in mind: ten floor lamps created with light reflectors normally used in horticulture, a convex safety mirror was tinkered with to become a luminous cache for the video projector positioned on the ground and the keyboard stands were custom-made to evoke the same circular shape.
On the lighting and video design side, the Luz team aimed to re-create the spellbinding quality of the band’s music. Inspired by Broken Bells’ 60s’ sound and by the group’s general aesthetic, the video content featured a variety of tableaux incorporating film scenes on an emphasized grain to convey the vintage look – as well as more contrasted and contemporary visual graphics in a recurring chromatic array. Because the musicians are more or less still throughout the performance, the video production was showcased to offer a strong visual complement to the audio experience. The use of SMPTE time code for the video helped the band synchronize images and avoided the need for generic backgrounds that did not connect to the music. The same was true for the lighting, which was designed to create a theatrical and dynamic atmosphere, in keeping with the color scheme used in the video projections. Overall, the fans were taken on a memorable audio-visual journey that was consistent with the group’s spirit.
There were challenges arising from the constant change in venues. The band was touring large clubs and theatres, so the stage dimensions were very different from one venue to the next. The team came up with a ground support solution to avoid rigging and projection problems. The video projector was set on the floor, near the audience. It was covered by a half of a convex safety mirror with an LED strip of lights on top, a showpiece of the retro-futuristic stage decor. The set could call upon two different projection screens: one for large venues and one for smaller venues - and could be either hung on the theater pipes or ground supported with a pipe and drape solution. Both of these screens, displaying the concentric semi-circles, were constructed of printed canvas usually used for large scale advertising. To avoid having the lighting clash with the front-projection light, a physical semi-circular mask was added to the back part of the screen. The projector’s floor positioning made it easy to set the correct distance from the lens.
Broken Bells World Tour
Production Manager: Lalo Medina
Tour Manager: Jason Tobias
Show Designer: Matthieu Larivee / Luz Studio
Visual Design: Luz Studio
Lighting Director: David Rondeau / Luz Studio
Video Director Francis Laporte / Luz Studio
Lighting and video vendor: Upstaging/ North America, Neg Earth/ Europe
Audio: FOH: David McDonald; Monitors: Jason Versaw
12 Philips Vari-Lite VL3000 Spot
24 GLP X4 Impression
12 Chauvet Color Accent White LED
6 Chroma Q Colorforce 72''
4 ETC Source Four 19 deg ellipsoidal
10 Custom Halogen Reflector
36'' RGB digital LED tape
1 MA Lighting grand MA 2 Lite