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Live Design Blog Archive
Catalyst For the Kings

Catalyst For the Kings


Two Catalyst digital media servers are being used to great effect on the Kings of Leon “Only By The Night” tour in an integrated visuals show created by live visuals director Phil Haynes, lighting co-designer/director Ali Bale, creative designer & co-LD Paul Normandale and live video director Phil Woodhead.

The Catalysts – running a pre-release version of the latest V4.2 software which gives 10 submixes on 16 layers - are outputting the 9 camera IMAG mix and assorted playback content to 1000 tiles of Barco MiTrix screen and 270 Element Labs VersaTUBE HDs.

These latest spec Catalyst machines were supplied by Catalyst's UK distributors Projected Image Digital (PID) to the tour's UK & European lighting contractors Lite Alternative. They are fitted with 2 Apple MAC 3.2 GHz Quad Core Intel Xeon processors, 4GB RAM, an 8800 Graphics card, 128GB Solid State Drives and Active Silicon HDSDI Capture Cards.

The MiTrix is used to clad both wings of a chevron shaped front truss which ‘crowns' the stage. The VersaTUBES are arranged in 10 varying sized pods attached to the front of 10 individual lighting trusses, all of which move into different configurations via a Kinesys automation system during the show. All video equipment for the tour apart from the Catalysts is being supplied by XL Video.

The 10 lighting pods are what initially prompted Haynes to go for the V4.2 software – because he wanted the facility to mix each pod individually.

He says, “Although content is king, there are some song visuals that are created in Catalyst just using the power of the FX and colour FX to create unique looks. This is achieved using a simple image transformed into a dynamic visual via Catalyst magic”.

Playback material is a collage of new and existing footage and includes 2 authorised Black & White Hammer Films B-movies which have been re-edited and treated in Catalyst. Approximately 40 songs worth of playback content is programmed into the Catalysts, of which about 22 are chosen for each night's set.

The Catalysts are triggered via a Hog iPC console running in Hog II mode, They're used to produce some seriously funky positional and layering effects with the cameras, which enable changing the shape of anything appearing on the MiTrix – so it can be slanted, horizontal, vertical, layered, tiled, etc.

The outputs of the 9 cameras – 1 Sony D50 at FOH, 4 operated Robo cams onstage and 4 static mini cams, 3 onstage and one at FOH - are all sent from Woodhead's GV Kayak switcher to Haynes' Catalysts where they're tweaked for every song – be it positional, sizing, colouring, graphics, etc.

This gives ultimate versatility and is an extremely interactive way of creating show IMAG visuals that also relies on the spontaneity and improvisational abilities of Haynes and Woodhead alike. Haynes can output these as one single or up to 8 different camera shots. “It's a great illustration of Phil's Catalyst skills” says Woodhead, “And it's great for IMAG to be involved in the whole song ‘look' equation rather then just doing its own thing”.

Haynes, Woodhead and Ali Bale are all stationed at FOH – breaking the standard mould of the video director cutting the mix from backstage. All 3 also worked on the last KOL tour, and realised that it was the only way to maximise their full team creative potential and the synergy that relies on all of them being able to experience the show and develop their work from the audience's perspective.

“It's a big progression from the standard IMAG and abstract playback and band images we were doing on the last tour,” expands Haynes, adding that it's a hugely enjoyable and democratic way to work. “We can all pool our individual talents to construct that collective big picture”.

Neat special effects include the song “My Party”, when 4 interactive audio inputs are sent to Woodhead from sound and live mixed with a waveform video effect via the Kayak and Catalyst. This then appears on the VersaTUBES and MiTrix surfaces so fans can ‘see' what the band are singing and playing, simultaneously hearing it in real time.

They also have lots of tightly cued tied-in looks with colours and texturing which are easily executed via the Catalyst. During “Charmer”, when lead singer Caleb Followill screams, a specific effect blips up on the MiTrix.

The tour, which kicked off in July 2008 is proving a massive success with “Only By The Night” hitting the number 1 UK album slot on its release in September. In early 2009 they head to Australasia, with the tour currently scheduled to run until September 2009.

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