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Gearhouse SA Hippotizes Coke Zero Festival

Gearhouse SA Hippotizes Coke Zero Festival


Gearhouse South Africa continues an incredibly busy start to 2009 supplying lighting, sound, video, staging and power for the 2009 Coca Cola Zero festival, staged on two sites in two cities - Riversands Farm in Johannesburg and Lourensford Wine Estate, Cape Town.

This proved the perfect opportunity for Gearhouse Media and Lighting divisions to utilise the latest version of the Green Hippo Hippotizer HD digital media server for the first time. This was specified for the event by Gearhouse director Tim Dunn and made available by UK-based Green Hippo.

The event was headlined by Oasis and Snow Patrol, and also featured Panic! at The Disco plus 6 Africa-based bands – The Dirty Skirts, Zebra & Giraffe, Casette, Foto na dans, aKing and One Day Remains.


The overall production design included a series of onstage LED screens, which, combined with the content run through the Hippotizer - were used to provide a strong visual backdrop and highly effective eye-candy for the daylight section of the performance. This included the 5 opening acts at each venue, and part of Panic at The Disco's set.

Supplied by Gearhouse's sister company LEDVision, the centre stage screen comprised 6 x 6 panels of Lighthouse R16 LED, flanked by 2 columns of 2 x 6 panels. This was augmented by two 6 x 6 panel side screens for the IMAG mix. EventCam provided 7 cameras, two of which were locked off backstage.

The Hippotizer was run by Gearhouse Media's Chris Grandin via a grandMA full size lighting console, and used for the first 6 bands of the day, concluding with Panic at the Disco. Headliners Snow Patrol and Oasis both of had their own self contained shows.

Grandin also operated a Barco Encore multi-screen control system, allowing any source – including the Hippo, other media servers and the camera feeds – to be output to any destination.

“I set the Hippotizer up to run in busking mode” he explains, “I had no set lists and there were no rehearsals, so it was a highly improvised show!”. Each layer on the Hippo has 2 effect engines, which allowed him to use a huge variety of effects - colour sparkles, neon bumps, altering the hue, saturation and brightness, etc., which he used to flip content to black and white or negative.

He used a combination of Hippo library footage and specially created clips.

Grandin particularly liked being able to apply fades to kaleidoscopic effects, creating some cool and funky psychedelic stuff! He also found it easy to build cues on the fly, actually as the bands were performing, as specific visual effects popped into his head that would fit certain points in the music “You can set up and programme a cue in no time, then just hit the ‘go' button on the grandMA and achieve some very precise and intricate things with it” he enthuses.

He also ran live camera feeds through the Hippo at certain points which were manipulated into some seriously rock ‘n' roll style results. Even after 7 hours of continuous live operation with 20 minute changeovers, he didn't run out of ideas or options, “It's an extremely dynamic piece of kit” he concludes.


Gearhouse's StageCo roof system was utilised for both shows, and the lighting and sound rigs were also trucked from Johannesburg to Cape Town for the show there 2 days later.

Lighting crew chief Jason Fritz worked with a team of 6 on a production lighting design by Pete Currier, based on Oasis' rig, specified by their LD Rob Gawler.

The rig contained 85 Martin Professional MAC 2K moving lights – a combination of Spot and Wash fixtures, along with 26 High End Cyberlights, adding a slightly vintage feel to the stage, together with 32 Atomic strobes and 4 new MDG smoke machines.

Generic lighting included a healthy mix of PARs and ACLs, with 28 i-Pix BB4 LED blinders, and 24 i-Pix Satellite LED ‘bricks' used for truss toning.

Gearhouse supplied another grandMA full size console to run lights for the local bands and Panic at The Disco. Oasis and Snow Patrol both bought their own control systems – each featuring three Hog 3s. Snow Patrol's show was run by their LD Davy Sherwin and live visuals director Robin Haddow.


Gearhouse Audio headed by Dave Tudor designed the VDOSC sound system, with 15 flown elements plus 2 dvDOSC downfills a side, 32 ground stacked SB28 subs and a row of dv's along the lip of the stage for front fill. Two delays per side each comprised 8 flown VDOSC speakers. “We built on last year's very successful design and adapted it to suit the new venue in Johannesburg” says Tudor.

In advance, they contacted all the bands for their riders and put together the FOH and monitor specs based on these requirements, ensuring everyone's wish list was satisfied with effects, outboards and all imaginable sonic facilities. “Thorough and proper advance planning for a festival event like this helps it all go very smoothly – and that's exactly what happened” says Tudor.

The FOH console was a 56 channel Amek Recall, specifically requested by Oasis engineer Dan Lewis, who clearly needed some authentic analogue warmth for his massive loud rock band sound. Gearhouse's Recall is quite rare in that it has Rupert Neve modules on all the EQ and preamp channels.

For Snow Patrol, Gearhouse supplied a DigiDesign D-Show Venue, and for Panic! at The Disco and all the other bands, the third FOH console was a Yamaha PM5D. GHSA's FOH systems engineer was Jako de Wit.

Onstage, there were also 3 consoles – a Midas XL8 for Oasis engineer Nahuel Gutierrez, another PM5D for Panic and all the openers, and Snow Patrol brought their own PM5D.

There were two separate monitor systems, both from Gearhouse. A mix of d&b M2 and M4 wedges were exclusively for Oasis, while L-Acoustics Hi-Q 115 wedges served all the others. Monitor world was co-ordinated and overseen on site by Revil Baselga.

This is the 4th year that GHSA has supplied the Coca Cola Festival for promoters Big Concerts. The company's ability to deliver all technical production aspects required in a cost efficient and efficiently organised package once again illustrates the advantages of a multi-disciplinary business.

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