TORONTO, Ontario, Canada
- February 2017 -- In just a few short years, Toronto-based production duo Zeds Dead have gone from being underground darlings to one of the very biggest names in EDM. Although “DC” (Dylan Mamid) and “Hooks” (Zachary Rapp-Rovan) have put out numerous EPs, singles and remixes since the bass-heavy group’s inception in 2009, the official launch of their first full debut album, Northern Lights, was a huge reason to celebrate on a North American tour of the same name that pulled out all of the stops both sonically and visually.
Photo: Montana Martz
To deliver the tour’s optical sensory overload, Production Manager Adam Bantz called upon Lighting Designer Tom Campbell, known for his work with Bullet For My Valentine and Katy B, among many others. From the start, the creative/production teams, band management and artists all quickly agreed that the show should be driven by Zeds Dead’s visual content using mapped fixtures to “push” the content out through the DJs and into the audience. To best accomplish this, Campbell chose to turn to two of Avolites’ flagship Sapphire Touch lighting control consoles—a main desk and tracking backup—paired with two Ai Infinity EX8 media servers and a Titan Net Processor, used to expand the show’s number of DMX universes and increase processing speed.
Photo: Montana Martz
“The concept for the tour was heavily based around the band's stunning video content,” Campbell recalls. “I wanted to use LED fixtures mapped in with the content to ‘push’ the visuals through the band and out into the auditorium in order to fully immerse the crowd in the show. My primary lighting rig was comprised of 36 Ayrton MagicPanel 602s mounted vertically in three rows of six on either side of the rear video wall and 22 DreamPanel Twins mounted horizontally in two rows of eleven in front of the DJ booth. By mapping the 58 panels into the Ai EX8 media servers, plus feeding the rear video wall, we got some nice original looks and really achieved the immersive feel I was looking for. It all worked like a charm.”
Despite being in South America during the time of the tour’s pre-production rehearsals, Campbell notes that everything went remarkably smoothly. “The bulk of the design from my end was done on WYSIWYG and I sent Joshua [Schultz, the touring LD] over the show file and a lot of focus notes as a big starting point. Luckily, he wasn't fazed by any of it. As expected, the Sapphire Touch didn't put a foot out of place. Joshua programmed an extremely comprehensive show file, with parts of the set programmed and lots of bits to add in on the fly with the ‘feel’ of the show. He really understood the concept for the show and the vibe I was aiming to achieve on this one.”
Photo Montana Martz
Schultz was on the Sapphire Touch for the bulk of the North American tour, with Deftones LD Jon Eddy jumping on the desk for three shows as well. “Both did an amazing job and I couldn’t have done this one without them,” Campbell adds.
In addition to the Ayrton 6x6 and 8x8 array panels, the lighting designer notes that he also used the Sapphire Touches to control a dozen Clay Paky Stormy CC strobes, four Chauvet Strike 4 LED blinder/strobes, and a pair of Chauvet Nimbus dry ice fog machines.
Campbell, who recently also used an Avolites Tiger Touch II desk and compact Quartz backup out with Bullet For My Valentine, points out that he’s been an avid Avo-fan for more than a dozen years, adding, “I’m sure I started out on a Pearl 2000 or something similar. It’s great to see how Avolites has evolved and continues to evolve. The Titan software is extremely powerful, and Keyframe Shapes played a huge role on the Zeds Dead tour—it’s such a powerful tool. I am excited for what Avolites has coming up next, with the continued evolving software, networking, and what the next generation of hardware has in store. And I’m very grateful for the amount of support I get worldwide from everyone at Avo!”