Manchester based lighting and visual specialists dbn, working for two of their regular clients – the Warehouse Project (WHP) and the biennial Manchester International festival (MIF) – supplied lighting and visuals to ‘10x10' Day & Night’, two special nights energised with 12 hours of non-stop pumping music, great DJs and live music plus the very best dance vibes to mark 10 years in the city for both MIF and WHP!
Staged in the historic Mayfield Depot, a charismatic ‘found space’ and site of the former Manchester Mayfield railway station, active as a passenger terminal from 1910 to the 1960s after which it became a warehouse and parcels depot. Since the 1980s it’s been completely closed and derelict … until resurrection as an entertainment venue for the 2013 MIF.
WHP – whose regular venue is just the other side of the railway tracks in a car park beneath Piccadilly Station - took over the whole ground floor of the Mayfield Depot and asked dbn – their regular lighting providers - to create a production lighting design for two rooms.
dbn’s Pete Robinson project managed and commented, “We were really excited to be working in the venue and for the landmark occasion. There were plenty of challenges associated with working in a disused building and turning it into the must-go destination of the weekend … BUT we set out to compliment the unique location with plenty of visual magic!”
A big part of that ‘visual magic’ was the chance to show off the amazing new i-Pix db1 fixtures, used for the first time in this context as a high–impact special effect”.
The db1 – i-Pix incredible new and completely different hybrid lightsource that combines elements of video and lighting – was the special effect for the second evening .. But more about these later!
A stage was set up at one end of the cavernous main space with a 4-legged ground support above, cantilevered at the front to provide PA wings - as there was no flying. A number of vertical truss sections were strapped to the pillars down the room and smaller ground supports were erected over the bar areas. The void above a row of old offices and the ceiling was utilized for additional lighting positions.
Five short truss sections were sub-hung from the back of the ground support forming a cross shape, and between these and the front truss, the dbn team deployed 24 of their new Clay Paky Mythos moving lights and 24 x CP a.leda K10s fitted with B-EYE lenses, 20 x active Showtec Sunstrips, 18 x Atomic strobes, 12 x CP Alpha Wash 700 and 24 x 2-lite Moles.
These made a highly effective upstage wall of light effect.
The first night was headlined by Four Tet, who brought in his own innovative visual element in the form of a grid of golf-ball LED pixels on strings, suspended over the stage on 24 catenaries … giving 4192 DMX controlled pixels run from a laptop … which looked fantastic!
dbn supplied the scaff towers and catenaries so digital art specialists Squidsoup could install this immersive environment.
The second night was headlined by Carl Craig and Mike Banks, and for this … dbn added the 24 x i-Pix db1s as the WOW factor, which were arranged in four pyramid shaped stacks of 6 units.
These were fed video content from an Avolites AI Infinity server controlled via an Avo Tiger Touch, run by Chris Ewington – the fixtures’ inventor. The LED light cells in the db1’s were mapped and activated by dbn’s Edwin Croft’s Avo Pearl Expert, with which he was also controlling all the other fixtures in the room. Working closely together the two of them created some truly awesome visual moments which really put the units through their paces.
“The db1s looked incredible” declares Pete, “They presented something completely different, their vibrancy and power was really striking … they were the highlight of the event!”
To light the dancefloor and make sure everyone felt involved in the energy and atmosphere of the music, dbn strapped 8 short truss sections to the room pillars and rigged these with a total of 16 x CP Alpha Spot QWOs, 16 x Spectral LED Zoom PARs and 16 Atomics.
For décor lighting, clamped onto the pillars were another 20 Spectral LED PARs and 12 x SGM P5 LED floods. Along one side of the room above the old office rooms seven City Color LED RGBW units were ensconced, illuminating the arches of the room. Towards the end of the night they were also used as a super-intense strobe effect which everyone loved!
A serious amount of strategic smoke and haze generation helped fill the large room, with 14 machines dotted around.
Room 2 featured a smaller stage with an equally sizzling selection of DJs in a long and interesting space which had the glass windows at one end painstakingly blacked out by dbn’s Nick Todd resulting in a proper sense of underground clubbing.
Lighting was designed by dbn’s Nick Walton who brought a flourish of gritty idiosyncrasy starting with a trussing structure wrapping the stage, with columns made up from 36 x Chauvet Nexus 4x4 panels for a very low resolution screen, and moving lights and strobes rigged in rows in between the columns.
Six truss towers running down the room were each loaded with Sharpie Washes, Alpha Beam 700s and Alpha Spot 300 HPEs, while more Beam 700s and 300 HPEs made up the beam factor onstage. Zooming LED PARs were positioned on top of the room towers for illuminating the vaulted ceiling, accentuating the height of the space.
Lighting in Room two was run by Anthony Owen who regularly operates for the WHP’s autumn season, using an Avo Tiger Touch.
The entire dbn crew took their spirited ‘can-do’ attitude to the event and relished the challenges presented by the building, all helping the organisers achieve their end goal of presenting two great evenings of a distinctive, memorable and inclusive dance experience.
Photos by Decoy Media