Take Me To IMAG Island

Take Me To IMAG Island

Dirk Sanders, technical designer for Control Freak Systems (CFS), worked on both the arena and the stadium versions of Bon Jovi’s Because We Can Tour. Photo credit ©Ryan Mast/Meteor Tower 2013

Video director, screens producer, and video artist, Dirk Sanders of Control Freak Systems takes us to IMAG Island in a special session at the Projection Master Classes at LDI2014. Live Design chats with Sanders about his use of IMAG, in and out of the box.

Live Design: Can you talk a little about using IMAG?

Dirk Sanders: My introduction to video direction came after being a lighting and server programmer where one of my first jobs was working on projects for the Beastie Boys. My favorite part of a Beastie Boys performance…it was an open license for extreme video server experimentation. Out of the box ideas were encouraged. Whether it be a live VJ, cameras pointing at old tube TVs being fed with onstage POVs, live bullet time camera rigs, keying effects, interactivity, custom media servers using DIY platforms, IMAG played a huge role in every song, but you almost never saw just a plain camera.

As the media server has become the tool of choice for concert touring, there is no shortage of technology within the servers. The software features out there for live camera manipulation are immense. This is also the case with the camera systems available. Shows are now using tools previously only used in the film and television industry.

So, at the most basic level the concert video director's job is to connect the fan to the performance onstage and you can say that that is a very in-the-box concept. However, once you infuse the technology, the responsibilities of the touring video director grow. There are opportunities for the director to leverage the tools and direct IMAG, which is integrated with the other design elements of the show.

I am passionate about this discussion, on how IMAG can be more than just camera shots on a side screen. There are wide range of artists, directors, and shows using solutions that range from very simple and low tech to highly custom and expensive, creating impressive IMAG designs.

LD: What have you been working on latetly...with use of IMAG, for example, or not?

Dirk Sanders

I have just finished a run with Kanye West where we used IMAG; however, creatively, it evolved to not be shown for large segments within the show. This created a sort of interesting design and video direction challenge. It opened the possibility to use the screens for content in support of the show, letting the content fully take over the screens defining the environment. But with not showing IMAG, it had a profound effect on the feedback we got from the fans far from the stage. In trying to find the balance of using IMAG or not, it illustrates that IMAG at the base level has a simple function to connect the fan to the artist they came to see.

So how can IMAG not just be “standard," but also still accomplish the fundamental need to connect the fan to the artist?

We are going to explore this more at the [email protected] session, looking at shows that use IMAG in a traditional approach, designs that experiment with blending cameras and content, or the designs that choose to depart from cameras all together.

TAGS: Concerts
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