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XL Video Gets Spherical on Coldplay

XL Video Gets Spherical on Coldplay


XL Video is supplying a substantial projection system, cameras, PPU, Catalyst and Hippotizer digital media servers and crew for the current Coldplay “Viva La Vida” world tour.

Working closely with Edinburgh-based Pufferfish, XL has also jointly developed 6 unique internally projected spheres - and steel cage housings - which are a major scenic feature of the show.

The show's inventive set and lighting was created by Paul Normandale, with video playback content specially commissioned and produced by Justine Catterall, technical support by Richard Turner and live video directed by Andy Bramley. Des Fallon is International account handler & project manager for XL.Normandale's brief included the instructions to come up with something new that avoided using LED screens, and so the idea of the projection globes originated.

Five 2 metre diameter globes are onstage, three attached to the two rear trusses (which are horizontal ladder beams shaped like waves), and the other two downstage left and right at the sides of stage, flown on two more wave trusses. All these move in and out during the show on a fixed speed Kinesys automation system. The sixth globe – 3 metres in diameter - sits above the FOH mixer position.

Each day, the spheres are attached to the steel cages which also hold the projectors pointing vertically downwards, plus all the inflation technology and fans. The onstage ones are fed by 5 Barco CLM R10 projectors and the FOH one by a Christie 20K, all fitted with specially made fisheye lenses.

Playback content for all the globes is supplied by 3 dual head output Hippotizers complete with a special plug-in to make the projections 360 degrees, bend the images and get them the right way up. At 1400 x 1050 pixels, it's HD material in a slightly idiosyncratic format, working on multiple layers, so the whole exercise is really putting the Hippos through their paces! The Hippos sit backstage, with operator Ben Miles running them via Zoo Keeper remote software from his grandMA Lite console at FOH.

There is also a 60ft wide screen onstage at the back that is fed by 4 Barco FLM HD18s rigged on a centre truss with a mix of Andy Bramley's IMAG and pre-recorded footage stored on a Catalyst. This is covered by a curtain which raises and lowers throughout the show depending on when the screen is being used.

The pre-cut camera images are sent from Bramley's GV Kayak mixer to Miles at FOH to be output to the globes via the Catalyst. All the media servers are triggered via the grandMA Lite running on ArtNet protocol.

Two high level 21ft wide 16 : 9 ratio side screens were added to the ends of the stage left and right side trusses a couple of weeks into the European leg of the tour, along with another two Barco HD FLM projectors.

XL's lead projectionist on the tour is Matt Vassallo, who runs out approximately 600 metres of fibre optic cable a day to the projectors and 1.2 Km of cable looms.

Andy Bramley is directing his second tour for Coldplay, and his mix is based on 4 cameras, 2 with long lenses stationed either side of the arena, and two in the pit.

He chose to have the units with long lenses at low height on the sides to create a real depth of field behind the artists, and also to produce a superlative ‘sea of hands‘ effect, for which he also had the side stage thrusts reduced from 6 to 4 metres in height.

He mixes using a GV Kayak switcher with a Magic DVE that is used sparingly to enhance a couple of songs. They do a full camera shot record every night and also a DVD wide shot record from FOH.

Bramley basically had a clean slate brief, with Chris Martin coming up with some ideas and suggestions which he took onboard and interpreted into the visual picture. Definitely different to a standard IMAG show, he's finding it rewarding to mix the band's highly authentic performance, with lots of movement, energy and feeling. “It takes a lot of effort to get it right, particularly with the images on the globes” he recalls, but the overall results, particularly when integrated with all the other visual elements – are creating a stunning, optically stimulating show.

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