The International London Tattoo Convention returned for its 15th year and took over the impressive Tobacco Dock site in Wapping, East London, a beautifully restored reminder of the UK’s rich industrial heritage.
Lighting and video rental specialist Colour Sound Experiment supplied power distribution –utilising 45 separate 3-phase connection points around the building – plus general lighting, stage and effects lighting and video to specific areas of the event, in a project managed for them by Steve Marley.
In addition to over 400 of the world’s finest tattoo artists, highlights of the weekend included live entertainment, fire performers, music and DJ sets, art exhibitions and live drawing, street foods, artisan beers, etc. … all in a vibrant collage of independent culture and crafts related to the world of body art.
Colour Sound was working directly for the organisers and has been a technical supplier for the annual event since its inception in 2005.
The scope of their work included providing power feeds – to BS7909 standards – for the 400 plus booths spread out over the whole a massive warehouse space of Tobacco Dock.
Power – from tapping into the 3-phase outlets to delivering the final circuits – was also supplied to all the food outlets and other stands and concessions as well as to three art galleries and eight larger stages and bar areas – The Blues Bar, The Competition Stage and the Fuel Girls Stage, the Vans Vert Ramp (for skaters and BMX’ers), the Main Music Stage, the Roadhouse Bar, this year branded by Gretsch guitars, Henry’s Bar and the Tiki Bar.
Three trucks of kit left Colour Sound’s West London warehouse for Wapping, two dedicated just to the power distribution elements of the job with several kilometres of cables, and the final truck full of lighting and video equipment.
A massive and detailed prep preceded this, where all the kit, cables and PD devices, etc. were colour coded and deployed to four different zones of the building, which ensured that once on site, everything arrived promptly in the right areas.
A large quantity of Prolight Q40 LED floods was installed by Steve and the crew to provide ‘house’ and ambient light in the main exhibition area. “We wanted to highlight the original wooden roof beams appropriately,” explained Steve. Due to its Grade 1 listed status, they had to always be alert and mindful of where things could and could not be rigged, and generally extremely careful and vigilant in relation to the environment.
They utilised the available in-house trussing for some of the lighting positions, as well as the spaces where event-specific trussing and scaffolding can be installed.
Any fixture or device close to a wall or a beam must be cushioned with rubber matting, all specialist requirements that take time and diligence on site. Care also has to be taken whilst working on original sections of stone floor.
Steve and 10 Colour Sound crew worked closely on site with the venue’s in-house technical team, Visual Elements managed by Martin Toms. Steve comments, “It’s always a pleasure dealing with Martin and his crew, and as a company we love being part of this very unique event.”
For the stages, Colour Sound’s lighting kit list included Chauvet Rogue R2 Washes and Spots, Robe Pointes for effects, Prolights DIAMOND7 LED wash lights, vast quantities of their standard RGB LED PARs plus five Avolites consoles for lighting control – Quartz’s and Tiger Touch IIs.
It was the first year the Vans Ramp has appeared at the event, and this was lit with Q40s and some strategically placed R2 Spots for logo projections.
The Main Stage saw rousing performances by the Quireboys, Never the Bride, AC/DC tribute act Hell’s Bells and many more.
A flown 4 x 2.5 metre ‘goal-post’ style Unilumin 2.6mm LED screen was installed above the Competition Stage, with Colour Sound also supplying Sony-operated and Panasonic remote hot head cameras, plus a Roland V800 mixer / PPU.
More hot head cameras were deployed around the Fuel Girls Stage together with an LED starcloth backdrop, while Panasonic AW HE-2 remote fixed cameras were supplied for the Vans Ramp and the Main Stage.
All the camera feeds were run back to the PPU at the Competition Stage, and an additional ground supported LED screen was set up for the Main (band) Stage.
Playback video content for these two screens was programmed into a Resolume server, and all things video were coordinated on site by Colour Sound’s head of video, Jani Fodor who was also cutting the mix and calling the cameras.
The first two days – Tuesday and Wednesday – of the get-in period saw the exhibition shell scheme built and all the various power supplies for the stands run out. On the Thursday, all the stages and bars were installed … and all the production was ready to roll for the convention opening on Friday and running for three action-packed days.
The detailed scheduling for Colour Sound started around 6 weeks before the event, but long-term planning happens throughout the year, the cycle starting with a set of after-notes from the latest event.
The get-in is labour-intensive with plenty of challenges coming in, working simultaneously with many other contractors, exhibitors, etc., all setting up in a series of tight spaces and kit having to be eased nimbly into various places.
Knowledge of both the event and the venue is a massive asset, and Steve highlights that largely the same Colour Sound crew have been working on it for 15 years which assists the flow of the process. “We all love the vibe and the energy of the event and having plenty of talent and experience onboard helps a complex scenario go extremely smoothly on site,” he concluded.
Jasmine Rollason of the London Tattoo Convention commented, “The 15th London Tattoo Convention was a great success and Colour Sound were, as always, fantastic to work alongside.
From liaising with Steve during planning, to resolving any technical hitches on live days, their team were incredibly efficient and supportive.
Vendors and visitors’ feedback regarding the visuals and lighting has been really positive, with many commenting on the live screens feeding back from the various entertainment stages. This enabled those less willing or unable to join the thick of the crowds a great view of the action!
The whole team felt that the show ran very smoothly, and we would like to thank Colour Sound once again for helping deliver another incredible event at Tobacco Dock.”
Photos: courtesy London International Tattoo Convention