Lighting and visual designers Dan Hardiman and Dave Farmer of THC Design added fast moving visual coherence and plenty of optical energy to the LostProphets’ short UK arena tour. It was a case of the band rocking while the visuals rolled seamlessly into an extravaganza of color, movement, and suggestions.
A major element of this was five columns of 33-string Barco MiSTRIP supplied by XL Video. These were specified by Hardiman, who wanted to introduce video to the band’s show for some time. THC was involved with the LostProphets’ stage visuals throughout the Liberation Transmission world tour, which is now drawing to a close.
“I wanted something new and exciting for the arena section of the tour and video was definitely the way to go, so naturally we came to XL as suppliers,” says Hardiman. He and Farmer have worked with XL on a number of artists including UB40, Will Young, The Doves, and others.
XL’s project managers Phil Mercer and Jo Beirne comment, “THC has an innovative approach to video and visuals in general. They are always fun and interesting to work with—there’s never a dull moment—and it was great to collaborate again!”
The 6 MiSTRIP columns measured 5ft wide with a 20ft drop and were rigged right upstage on their own dedicated truss (each column weighed in at 750 Kgs). They were concealed behind cloth banners until the last six numbers of the set when the banners were kabuki dropped to reveal the MiSTRIP in all its glory as the set thundered to a glorious metallic climax.
Hardiman explains how he was initially attracted to the MiSTRIP because of its industrial appearance when not illuminated. He was particularly keen to have a surface that looked more interesting than “a load of pixels!”
Their overall stage design also incorporated 5 PRG Lo-Protrussing towers, each clad with 9 strips of 10-wide MR16 lamps 9 (the rig has over 900 MR-16 bulbs in total) and he ideally wanted a video effect that would compliment, contrast, and generally work with this existing architecture.
On earlier stages of the tour, they used six upstage cloth banners alternating with the MR16 towers, so he also thought these could be replaced with video equivalents.
XL provided THC with a sample of MiSTRIP for experimentation, after which Hardiman knew his concept would work.
The stage starts off as a white box and as the show progresses various bits of drapes are peeled away to reveal different layers, finishing with the video towers. By leaving it till the end, and by judiciously limiting the choice of source material, the impact is particular spectacular.
Hardiman created special custom content for the show, all of which is stored on and played back via an Mbox Extreme v2.0 digital media server. Lead singer Ian Watkins and others in the band take an active interest in the look of the show and they took onboard Hardiman’s suggestions for material and also gave him a few pointers of their own.
This ranged from simple graphics and animations to complex and colorful Manga cartoons—all highly effective and looking great on the MiSTRIP surface. The Mbox was triggered via the WholeHog 3 lighting console running the show operated by Stuart Farrell.
Once revealed, when not in use, the MiSTRIP was also lit beautifully, offering up its own distinctive textured surface onstage which Hardiman describes as similar to a Venetian blind,
The video has been a huge success with the LostProphets and their audience, so it should figure prominently in future live work.
XL Video also supplied screen and LED technician Pieter Laleman to look after the MiSTRIP. Lighting equipment was supplied by PRG and sound by SSE.