UK - Award-winning lighting designer Jamie Thompson has applauded the speed, ease of use and incredible effects capabilities of Avolites' Sapphire Touch console as he uses it to control his dynamic and evocative mixed media design for The Script's current arena tour - #3.
Thompson - who in 2011 was presented with a Knight of Illumination Award for his lighting design for The Script's Arena tour - says the Sapphire Touch is not only enabling him to enhance his creative lighting design, but also ensuring that he can programme quickly within the time constraints of the tour schedule.
"I've always been a big user of Avolites, not just for their products, which I love, but also because of the company itself and the support and friendly advice that is on hand, all around the world 24/7,” comments Thompson. "I actually own the first ever manufactured Sapphire Touch - 001 - and since I bought it have used it on every show I do. Once it's set up and configured it's a very easy and creative tool to use. It provides a smooth interface between the stage and me and I can find what I need in the rig and programme it very quickly. I can also load fixtures and effects very fast, which is a big thing for me with the obvious time constraints. The effects I can get out of the console are massive. It's a clear choice for me."
Thompson has been working with The Script now for five years, creating spectacular lighting designs that mirror the energy, passion and dynamism of the band's sound.
"The inclusion of the pixel mapper on the Sapphire Touch is really amazing - it's like a mini video server, allowing me to draw pictures with lighting and quickly animate them in my show," continues Thompson. "The layout of the palette, the touch screens, and the Titan software has come on leaps and bounds - the colours being visual, and the fact that you can make your own labels are great additions. In a way, the Sapphire Touch is a bit like an Apple product - easy to use and easy to look at! And the new Titan software really pushes the console to new places."
The Script's current tour, entitled # 3, played at some of the UK's biggest venues, including Liverpool's Echo Arena, and London's O2 Arena and Wembley Stadium and has now headed off to South East Asia, Australia, New Zealand and then on to the US before returning to the UK to follow the festival circuit.
"We are proud that Jamie Thompson bought the first ever Avolites Sapphire Touch off the production line. The expansive workspace area the console offers can be crucial on tours like The Script, which feature complex lighting design concepts and which require fast set up," explains Koy Neminathan, sales director for Avolites Ltd. "The Sapphire Touch integrates Avolites comprehensive Titan V6 operating system and offers dual touch screen monitors for an enhanced and faster workflow. This console is designed for large-scale arena tours and thus offers designers fast programming and efficient and smooth automated playback. We are delighted that Jamie is such a big fan of the console and wish him all the very best on the rest of the tour."
UK - Avolites top of the range Sapphire Touch lighting console is the control and programming tool of choice for lighting designer Chris Bushell, currently touring with Florence & the Machine.
Bushell, who was this year shortlisted for the much-coveted Knight of Illumination Award for lighting design, took the Sapphire Touch out on the summer’s festival circuit, where he dazzled audiences with his stunning, art deco inspired design.
“I’ve always used Avolites consoles and the new software just keeps getting better and better,” comments Bushell “I started out on a Pearl a fair few years ago. I’ve tried many other consoles along the way but kept returning to Avo. I then used a Diamond 4. I was particularly thrilled when that platform was effectively put into a Tiger Touch. So much so that I bought a console of my very own!
“Although much more compact, the Tiger Touch still has the unmistakable "live" Avo quality that other desks lack. Not only that Avo has found ways of making these consoles do what all other desks do, but in an easier and more intuitive way.”
The Sapphire Touch is a new step for Bushell, who until the festival season was working with his own Tiger Touch. “I program and operate visually not mathematically,” explains Bushell. “I'm not interested in punching numbers into a desk. The Avolites consoles enable me to quickly and simply achieve what I want, whatever the nature of the job. I asked to take the Sapphire out for some festivals as the dual screen and extra playbacks really lend themselves to that fast paced environment.”
On the festival circuit Bushell doesn’t always have the luxury of programming the night before or even the morning before doors! The simplistic functionality of the Sapphire Touch mixed with a bigger, more versatile platform offers Bushell everything he needed during an often frantic 30-minute changeover, where he’s invariably seeing things for the first time.
“The Sapphire Touch is expansive workspace area can be crucial for shows featuring complex and structural lighting design concepts such as Chris’s design for Florence & the Machine,” explains Koy Neminathan, sales director for Avolites Ltd. “In particular the Sapphire Touch offers the easy to access Quicksketch freehand tool, which enables Chris to keep control of his design in the challenging festival environment.”
Something that has also proven invaluable for Bushell is the ability to easily transpose the programmed show from the arenas to the festival circuit as he explains: “The Titan software allows me to visually map the rig out on the screen of my console. In comparison to everyone else - who might be squinting at festival plots and trying to cross reference fixture numbers - this makes the process of copying, pasting and cloning fixtures on any Avo console a doddle”
Bushell used the Sapphire Touch for Florence and the Machine at a number of festivals during the summer including the bands appearance at Tennent’s Vital in Belfast on 22nd August, playing just before headliners Stone Roses. She then made appearances at Reading on 25th and Leeds on 26th, before making a huge impression at Bestival on 7th September. Florence and the Machine continue to tour in the US in October before returning to Europe and finally the UK where the tour will culminate at the O2 in Dublin on 12th December.
USA - Leading UK lighting designer Dave Byars has put his brand new Avolites Sapphire Touch to work on Brit-pop band Blur's heavily atmospheric 2013 tour, which has smouldered under the stars in venues and at festivals, including Coachella, California.
Dave Byars - who has been in charge of lighting Blur since the band first formed - had quite a challenge on his hands. Maintaining his high design values, while coping with the varying set ups of festivals, and arenas around the world is no mean feat. This is especially true in Byars' case as he is not touring his own rig but rather using festival house rigs or hiring locally at each venue. This means he often ends up with very different set ups or equipment types for each show.
"Being able to programme and design on the fly is essential for a tour like this one," stresses Byars. "I've been an Avolites console user for over 20 years, Diamond 4 primarily but now the Sapphire Touch. I've been impressed with the accessibility of the various design palettes on the control surface of the Sapphire Touch - I used it at Hyde Park with Blur last year and then again on Deacon Blue. Having the Titan Mobile as back up on my laptop has also been a real bonus. I can now take care of all the show patching and housekeeping in between festivals, either on the plane, tour bus or in my hotel room."
In fact Byars says he pre-programmed much of the Coachella lighting on his laptop during the flight to California and then simply plugged his USB stick carrying the show into his Sapphire Touch. "It patched straight in without a hitch! Also much appreciated is the Sapphire Touch's easy to access Quicksketch freehand tool. This allows me to keep on top of my design in the more often than not, challenging festival environments."
Byars also says that the easy to access functionality of the Sapphire Touch mixed with a bigger, more versatile platform offers him all the control he requires during some invariably frenetic festival changeovers. "The extra playbacks and dual screen really lend themselves to the busy festival environment," he continues. "This combined with the power to easily transpose an arena programmed show to the festival circuit using the Titan software is invaluable. Titan v6 allows me to visually map the rig on the screen of my console. This certainly makes the process of copying, pasting and cloning fixtures a complete breeze!
So why buy rather than hire? Well Byars says he has always had a very positive relationship with the team at Avolites and has always felt supported technically: "It seemed like the right time and a good idea to invest in my own Sapphire Touch for this tour. I think the software is stable enough and I knew it would be an eclectic collection of venues and festivals. My view was that it would really smooth the design and programming process to be as in tune with the console as possible."
Koy Neminathan, sales director for Avolites continues: "Avolites is proud to say that we've had a long-standing and extremely productive relationship with Dave Byars for many years. It's great for us to hear that he has been so impressed with the Sapphire Touch. We really value Dave's opinion as he knows our consoles inside out and has always given very helpful feedback from festivals and venues which we have fed back into our product development and design over the years. Our Avolites Curry Club has often provided the perfect opportunity for feedback from Dave too!"
"The Titan 7.1 system worked so well, I was really satisfied.”
Control: Sapphire Touch
Media Server: Ai T4 server
Power Distribution: A2000T Dimming system and Powercube
Data Distribution: Truss splitters
Avolites Consoles, Servers and Dimming controlled the spectacular game show ‘Million Pound Drop’
The technically complicated and fast paced TV game show used a Sapphire Touch to control lights, media servers and hydraulic trap doors. Aside from live hands on operation MIDI commands were sent to the Sapphire to control certain lighting video cues and trigger the appropriate trap door. The system was backed up using Titan Mobiles.
The Avoilites Media Ai T4 server ran four monitors which displayed the answers to questions as well as a Panasonic PT-DZ12000 Projector.
DMX transmission was over Artnet using multiple Entec Nodes and Avolites Truss Splitters for final DMX distribution, whilst mains distribution consisted of an Art2000 Dimmer rack and a Power cube rack.
The lighting rig was supplied by Iceland's Luxor and consisted of Colorspot 1200 AT’s, Led Beam 100’s, Robe Ledforce 18’s, and Pulsar LED tubes, totalling close to a hundred fixtures.
The set and Lighting design was by Alfreð Sturla Böðvarsson, with co-designer and programmer Karl Sigurðsson who also project managed the show.
Karl Sigurðsson was one of three of Luxor’s technical staff that attended advanced Titan training over the summer, which Karl states really paid off, greatly enhancing their knowledge of the Titan system, especially the timecode and MIDI systems allowing them to speedily program the whole show.
Karl Sigurðsson said “The Sapphire Touch worked well with the QueLab system, that triggered many lighting and audio cues, and the lighting cues were in fact opening and closing the pumps under the trap doors. The Titan 7.1 system worked so well, I was really satisfied.”
UK - Lighting Designer Jamie Thompson, co-director of global lighting and show design company MIRRAD, has specified an entirely Avolites and Avolites Media system to wow audiences with his stunning stage and lighting design for Brit indie-rockers Bastille's worldwide tour.
Thompson specified the ultra-fast Avolites Sapphire Touch as his main control console, with backup console Avolites Tiger Touch Pro. For the show's projection mapping Thompson employed two Avolites Media Ai Infinity 4 Media Servers, one main and one backup, with full redundancy at every point.
Thompson drew inspiration for the visually striking set from the geometries of the band's triangle logo, mapping it through the Ai Media Server with filmic, b-movie style video created by Paul 'Pablo' Beckett of Bryte Design.
"Right from the beginning we had the idea of utilising the band's triangle logo because it's such a strong shape," explains Thompson. "It made the stage visually explode and manipulated the audience's perspective. The video-mapping on top really bought it to life."
The set design was also remarkably versatile, as Dave Singleton, who was in charge of video mapping, explains: "The set was fantastic - large enough to fill the arenas, yet scalable to fit into some of the smaller venues. The Ai Projection Mapping Editor made it easy to recreate the show at each venue, even with a completely different projection surface."
The Ai server also allowed the show's acutely creative team to build a diverse range of effects into the design.
"We really put Ai through its paces," says Singleton. "I had multiple camera and other effects layered throughout the whole show, which were triggered from an Akai APC40 Midi Controller. In order to keep the balance between camera and content I ended up operating the show in a live VJ fashion. Ai's onboard effects engine means we can manipulate the camera shots and do some fun things with them, like take crowd shots and map them across all the surfaces."
Working alongside the projection was a dynamic yet almost architectural style lighting package, which Thompson controlled from his Avolites Sapphire Touch console, complete with brand new TNP nodes.
"I've always described the Sapphire Touch as a designer's desk rather than an operator or a programmer's desk," says Thompson. "The interface is the best looking on the market. It's extremely intuitive and fast to use. It also looks really nice and clean - you're not scanning it constantly for fixtures and features - everything's in front of you.
"Additionally, we've had a consistently good relationship with Avo and I think, above and beyond what they do with the consoles, their customer support is fantastic. They've always been more than accommodating and they've always been there when we need them. It's very rare to find a company where you always feel like their first priority."
Bastille's tour continues this year, including several exciting performances at festivals this summer.
“I have now used the Sapphire Touch on 3 different tours and the console has worked flawlessly!!"
Mikey Cummings, Pulse Lighting used the Sapphire Touch on Wolfgang Gartner and Tommy Trash’s Hounds of Hell Tour, Colbie Caillat and The Old Crow Medicine Show this summer controlling all Lighting ,Video and Cryo.
“The Sapphire Touch gave me an expanded control surface perfect for my improvisational needs with the reliability and functions required to program and operate a cutting edge show that relied heavily on video integration.”
As all three acts were of different genres and Cummings required a console that offered different features for each different show
“I used many of the V7 features such as group masters, set list, pixel mapper and standard features such as fixture exchange and cue lists”
Cummings controlled a variety of intelligent fixtures which included VL3K’s, VLX’s Sharpies and an array of Robe products. He also controlled a Green Hippo server for his video output via the Sapphire Touch too.
“I have now used the Sapphire Touch on 3 different tours and the console has worked flawlessly!! On top of that Brad White from Group One as well as Teri Productions, my provider, proved excellent training and technical support as well.”
To sum up what Cummings really enjoyed he commented “The Large Touch Screens, 45 faders, independent paging of top and bottom fader sets , seamless integration of video and lighting, Pixel Mapper and the Set list feature, I was very pleased with the console and will be using it all in 2014 for The Old Crow Medicine Show starting New Years Eve
Group One are the exclusive distributor for Avolites Ltd in the USA
CLEVELAND, Ohio - April 2014 -- Chicago-based freelance lighting designer Joshua Schultz, best known for his work with R&B and hip-hop artists like Kid Cudi and R. Kelly, recently stepped up to using Avolites’ Sapphire Touch lighting console.
Schultz is certainly no stranger to Avolites, having been a longtime user of the company’s TITAN software and Pearl Expert Pro desk with the touch wing. When the opportunity arose for the LD to get his hands on a Sapphire Touch for Kid Cudi’s Cleveland and Brooklyn performances in late March, he jumped at the chance.
“Being familiar with TITAN 7, my transition from the Expert to the Sapphire was pretty seamless,” he says. “Although I had never been on the Sapphire before, I rented one in L.A. for three days of rehearsals prior to the last two Cud Life shows and it was super-simple to set up. We were using a Resolume media server and, after changing a couple of IP addresses in the console and computer, everything was up and running flawlessly.”
Schultz notes that it’s no secret as to why the Sapphire Touch is touted as Avolites’ flagship desk. “This console is incredibly feature-rich,” he enthuses. “As an LD, I sometimes hit a certain point with fixtures where I’ll say, ‘Okay, what else can I do with them? I’ve already done this, this and this.’ When I really started diving into the Sapphire, I found that there was so much more that I could do with what I had in front of me. The desk’s effects engine, cue stacking, pixel mapping and other bells and whistles really opened up a bunch of new creative avenues for me as a programmer.”
For the Wolstein Center and Barclays Center shows, the LD particularly appreciated the fact that he didn’t have to hard patch the show’s fixtures onto specific faders, which he normally would have done on the Expert. “It was definitely a great experience to patch everything through TITAN and not have anything actually in the console itself eating up handles,” he says. “I loved being able to have all of that empty space to work with.”
The two performances were Kid Cudi’s final wrap-up concerts for his Cud Life tour, which was sonically and visually supported by LMG. Boasting a Joe Gallagher set design featuring a large moon rock cave and giant 40x19' video wall backdrop, the show’s fixtures controlled by the Avolites desk included 12 spot luminaires, 28 LED moving head wash lights with zoom, 18 strobes, 26 high-intensity moving lights, 20 four-way audience blinders and 12 additional washes. Schultz adds that most of the LED fixtures and blinders were pixel mapped on the Sapphire Touch to create unique chase effects for the show.
Sapphire Touch for Kid Cudi and R. Kelly / Add One
With the Cud Life gigs behind him, Schultz is now heading out for a ten-show arena tour with R. Kelly that will run through mid-May and, of course, be carrying the Sapphire Touch. “After those two dates with Kid Cudi, I can’t wait to do more shows on it,” he says. “As far as flexibility and ‘throw and go’ ease-of-use are concerned, there’s no other console out there that can touch it.”
About Group One Ltd.
Group One Ltd. is a U.S. importer and distributor for a number of professional audio and lighting manufacturers. The company’s audio division currently distributes Blue Sky powered nearfield monitors, DiGiCo digital mixing consoles, MC2 high quality innovative amplifiers, and XTA digital signal processing equipment. The lighting division currently distributes Avolites lighting control consoles, ElektraLite controllers and intelligent lighting, and Pulsar LED lighting.
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Avolites U.S. / Group One Ltd.
70 Sea Lane, Farmingdale, NY 11735
Tel: 516.249.1399 / Fax: 516.249.8870
Chris Shuler, Public Address
Tel: 269.815.5055 / Cell: 574.514.7131
1) Avolites_CudLife1.jpg – Joshua Schultz at the Avolites Sapphire Touch (photo credit: Deidre McCord)
2) Avolites_CudLife2.jpg – Kid Cudi’s recent Barclays Center performance (photo credit: Rudy Calderon)
3) Avolites_CudLife3.jpg – Cud Life’s final tour stop in Brooklyn (photo credit: Rudy Calderon)