XL Video Pushes The Pixels With Genesis

XL Video UK, via Blink TV is supplying 15,089 Barco 510 OLite panels with 270 control boxes, plus 102 panels of a Mitsubishi 16:8 high resolution screen in a record breaking 9 million pixel LED surface for the acclaimed Genesis Turn It On Again world tour.

The OLite makes up a 13m high 55m wide set back wall and is surrounded by 7 lighting towers (“ribs”) reaching heights of up to 28m, which together resemble a giant conch shell, designed by Mark Fisher/Stufish.

The screen provides a 3D curved wall and an architectural backdrop immediately behind the performance area. It is an interactive canvass for video playback, graphics images, and an IMAG that is integrated with lighting effects (designed by Patrick Woodroffe), helping to create the show’s unique visual identity.

The OLite pixels are fitted into customized touring frames designed by XL Video and made by Brilliant Stages populated at different pitches to give multiple resolutions across the whole surface. The screen ends at either side of stage with the two elliptical Mitsubishis that seamlessly “flow” into the main screen.

The OLite screen is by far the most complicated that’s ever been created in terms of engineering and processing according to Stufish’s executive designer Jeremy Lloyd. It presented a real challenge to the video boffins, namely Richard Turner, who took care of the processing, mapping, and programming of the hard drives that feed it with provocative and engaging images.

The tour and production have received massive critical acclaim since kicking off in Helsinki.

Blink’s crew chief Stuart Heaney leads a video team of 14, and the IMAG video director is Ruary MacPhie, who is taking care of a five-camera mix that goes primarily onto the side screens and sometimes onto the main screen as windows appear.

Custom playback material produced by Sam Pattinson from onedotzero is stored on four GV Profile hard drives including a dynamic array of graphics and animations. This is operated live by playback director Bryan Myles using Barco’s Events Manager, which drives the Barco Encore system providing the show’s overall video control.

MacPhie’s mix is coming from five Sony D50 cameras, two with long lenses at FOH, one in the pit on a specially curved track and dolly with wide angle lens, one hand-held onstage, and a hot-head on the “roofette” above the band performance area center stage. He is also using one of XL’s Kayak mixer/switchers. He is running it with a separate out for the side screens coming from its aux bus, with one sub-cut, and the side screens run individually on the Program bus plus ME1. This allows him to put any band member onto any screen anytime, and using the aux bus allows him to take any source to the main screen from the Kayak. His mix is also fed into the Encore system, with some of the IMAG multi-screen effects pre-ordained and programmed into the Events Manager by Richard Turner.

MacPhie and Heaney have worked for Phil Collins and Genesis manager Tony Smith for the last three years, so they were implicitly trusted to come up with a great result.

MacPhie’s starting point is to get good coverage across all screens. He added a second camera at FOH to enable him to put the other four cameras on the sides while leaving one up on the center, thus giving specific and unique IMAG images for the center.

The show also incorporates a few interesting video special effects, one of which is a head shot during the song “Mama” for which the band wanted to replicate an image from the track’s original 1980s promotional material. This is done live by Phil Collins activating (via foot pedal) a small redhead light positioned at his feet while his face is framed with a tight camera shot, giving a ghostly shimmering halo of light around his face. The XL crew has rigged up a little camera in the pit so Collins can see the image this is producing and tweak it to his liking by moving his head in relation to the light.

Stuart Heaney has been involved in the Genesis project since January, and part of the overall video brief has involved the design of special dollies to house and transport the OLite sections on tour. These were built by Brilliant Stages, and are an important part of some extremely meticulous preplanning by Heaney, the XL Video and Stufish teams and tour riggers that is resulting in the video department being ready to roll in three-and-a-half hours each day, and out in just two hours and 40 minutes.

Involving five steel crews and two advanced systems, 90 trucks, and over 250 crew, Genesis tours Europe, arriving in the UK in July before going to the US till the end of the year.

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