David Kyle, video operator for the tour, made excellent use of the compact Ai S8 to run Marsh's multi-sourced design.
Kyle explains: "My role was to look after all video elements of the show and make sure we delivered what was required in terms of Neil's design. Ai provided us with a one box solution that could control the cameras, mix them, provide a preview, receive timecode, playback content and take care of mapping without the need for additional equipment. This kept set up time down, gave us a more reliable system and reduced latency, which was important when using cameras."
The Above & Beyond show design was based around three large semi-circular trusses, on which double-layered deco linen was hung. This provided a projection surface on one side and a red voile on the other as some shows were sold in the round.
"The video itself was not intended to be traditional IMAG style display, but more of an older, rough, film effect look," says Kyle. "Depending on the venue the rig would change between the three semi circles or a single large screen that wrapped around the drape. For the Hollywood Bowl we also sent an unmapped signal to the in-house IMAG screens to ensure the full crowd of 18,000 could see the show. Another feed also went to the recording crew meaning we pushed the server to six outputs and six inputs."
The impressive capacity of the Ai S8 makes for an extremely reliable and smooth-running system. In addition, it features a timecode takeover function, which allows the operator to make live changes during the gig. Once any live adjustments are made, the timecode returns smoothly back to where it should be.
"The timecode function is very well thought out and really makes it easy to create a timecode show quickly," continues Kyle. "Being able to disable it quickly on the live page has been essential when having to override the camera switching."
Further valuable features of the Ai S8 Media Server include: Map and Warp onto any 3D surface, smooth play back of up to 8k Media using the AiM Codec and Auto Blend. The Auto Blend feature means aligning and blending projectors manually is a thing of the past. Kyle explains how integral this feature was on the tour, especially for the outdoor gigs: "The Auto Blend has been a very useful tool. In some venues the projector placement was far from ideal, but as long as we could cover the screen, the Auto Blend took care of everything else. It saved a lot of time and effort. Some of the venues were outdoors and not dark until 20 minutes before show time. Setting up manually in this time would have been impossible."
Kyle decided to investigate Avolites Ai after he noticed Ai Media becoming more common as the house server at video-heavy electronic shows and festivals. It was on the back of this that he visited London-based Avolites to find out more.
"Straight away I was really impressed with what the Ai S8 could do and I am really pleased I decided to go with it for this tour. The support from Annalisa, Arran and Prads has been outstanding - this is my first tour with Ai and they've been really helpful from start to finish."
The Avolites Ai S8 media server was supplied to David Kyle and Neil Marsh through Mirrad LTD - a British visual arts and design house.
The tour was in support of Above & Beyond's latest album Acoustic II, which is out now.
Images © Luke Dyson & Rukes