World – Irish rock band The Script’s current Freedom Child tour features a complex mix of video, live footage, pre-made content and live effects displayed on a huge multiscreen structure. The ambitious visuals are being powered by Avolites Ai Infinity R8 Servers and Quartz lighting control consoles.
The Script’s long-time show designer, Jamie Thompson, is working alongside freelance media server expert Annalisa Terranova, Tom and Satoko Wall from Blinkin LAB and Video Director Ben Miles, to deliver the stunning content.
The multi-screen set-up is being run by four Ai R8 media servers. Two R8 servers process content created in real-time effects generator, Notch, which is then fed into the second pair of Ai servers which handle the main content. All of this is then outputted to the massive, angular on-stage LED screens.
“It’s a pretty hybrid setup and we’ve customised some aspects of two of the R8s as Notch servers to create a beast of server capability for this complex show. We have amazing power to control,” says Thompson. “The Ai servers give me huge scope to achieve more and more each time I work with The Script.”
Notch is a node-based solution for generating effects in real time and allows export of a range of programmed effects directly into Ai as a Notch Block. Ai then runs the Block and sends the generation out to the selected layer.
“The Notch integration in Ai is definitely the feature that has been used the most,” says Terranova. “It’s been great to be able to use such a powerful effects engine that can generate particles and apply them to live video. This means the camera images are following the aesthetic of the video content, completing each look, instead of just laying over the top of it. This helped deliver the vision of this ambitious show design.”
Terranova controls all the Ai servers via two Avolites Quartz consoles run in multi-user so the team has a workspace over two screens. Some of the show is timecoded, but with Notch there are many parameters that need to be changed throughout the show, depending on light levels and camera angles.
“The Avolites Quartz is great for touring as it runs the same Titan software as Avolites’ bigger desks, but it’s small enough to fit in a travel case,” explains Thompson. “We find it’s the best way to control multiple Ai servers as it makes it a lot easier and faster, and integrates perfectly between console and servers.”
To control the lighting, Thompson is using two Avolites Sapphire Touch consoles - one as the main desk and one as a fully redundant backup. Each Sapphire Touch runs on two Titan Net Processors (TNP) linked with two Titan Net Switches (TNS) to handle the show’s 32 DMX universes.
“For this tour, the band wanted lighting and video design that reflected the neon and urban landscape cover artwork of their Freedom Child album,” explains Thompson. “Therefore, we created an urban cityscape onstage, with streetlights and the whole video screen designed like buildings, so it’s angular and everything is based around perspective; it kind of draws you into the centre of the stage. I was keen to deliver a more theatrical show, using screens more as scenic elements.”
Thompson adds, “The Avolites consoles have, as always, been great and Ai has been incredibly stable, meaning that we get the same results on each show, exactly as programmed and planned every night, with some added live effects!”
The Script’s Freedom Child tour travels through Europe this spring before moving further afield to Australia and Asia in April.