Europe: Lighting designer James O'Neill and video designer Mark Cunniffe combined their extensive skills with the latest technology from Avolites to provide the biggest and best yet production design for the current tour by Irish pop-rock band, Picture This.
With O'Neill controlling his lighting rig with his tried-and-trusted Avolites Arena console, and the video content run through Avolites Ai media server operated by Tim Hornung, the band's European tour is showcasing the cutting edge of light and video control.
O'Neill, who was responsible for both set and lighting design, created a raised performance area backed, flanked and fronted in LED screen. The production's wraparound surfaces featured a mixture of rich video content developed through a close collaboration between the band, Cunniffe and Tom Readdy of Yes Please Productions.
"Looking at the stage head-on or from an angle the placement of the LED screens makes the band appear that they are emerging from the onstage video content," says O'Neill. "If you see the guys performing downstage they look as though they are standing on and performing out of the images, as opposed to just performing in front of them."
From there, O'Neill created a lighting design which would provide texture, depth and movement to the onstage video content.
"Picture This had strong ideas on the looks they wanted for the video content," explains O'Neill. "We contacted Mark to come over for the first arena show, the SSE Arena in Belfast, to work with the band to create additional content for the live Notch effects on the screens. Mark and his team were brilliant. With the help of the band, Tim on the Ai and the Notch system, the show really came together."
Two Ai R4 Servers, one as main, the other as backup were used to provide the pre-recorded and live video control for the SSE Arena show. Both servers were running with Ai v10.1 which was optimized for Notch integration.
"I really like Notch as an addition in Ai," says Hornung who operated the system for the Belfast show, "It gives more flexibility when creating looks for the show. For Picture This we had some looks with lots of small live camera pictures on the LED screen. Usually to create effects like that, it's necessary to have a lot of layers in the media server. Using Notch to rearrange and duplicate the live camera feeds to the right positions and sizes meant we saved a lot of the performance in Ai using fewer layers."
As well as Notch, Hornung is a fan of the Avolites Ai node-based engine, "The fact the system is based on nodes means that if there's trouble on a production, you can still change the nodes in order to achieve the desired effect or feature," he says. "This gives a lot of flexibility on productions."
For O'Neill, having a fully integrated Avolites lighting and video system meant that he didn't have to worry about technical issues and instead could focus on his design. "It was one thing that didn't concern me," confirms O'Neill. "When I knew I had the Avolites system in place on this tour, I knew I didn't have to think about that side any more."
He adds, "Working with Tim was fantastic - as was everybody. LX crew chief, John McGuiness of JustLite who supplied the tour with its lighting, was great. The Picture This guys and Mark's team were also brilliant and the whole show came together perfectly."
Picture This performed at Belfast's SSE Arena on 27 October. Their European tour continues with dates in the Netherlands, Germany and closes on 11 February in Sweden at Bar Brooklyn, Stockholm.