Colour Sound Support Above & Beyond's Performance at Wembley for Little Something Charity
Lighting and the video system was designed by Neil Marsh, working closely with all three members of Above & Beyond, Jono, Tony McGuinness and Paavo Siljamăki, with lighting kit and LED screens supplied by Colour Sound Experiment.
When in the UK Colour Sound is one of Marsh's go-to suppliers and when he approached them about this show Haydn Cruickshank and the team fully embraced the concept of the fundraiser and ensured that they could produce a full on arena show.
Marsh decided on a completely new design for the Wembley show as it was special.
The idea of the 12 truss spines - running upstage / downstage, six hung in a curved arrangement cascading onstage to offstage each side of the DJ booth - created the basic stage architecture. A stylised drawing of an angel created by Marsh’s wife, artist Leora Honeyman, was the inspiration for this set-up.
Two trusses were rigged either side at the front of stage, each loaded with six Robe BMFL Spots well placed for scanning over the audience and pulling them into the action.
The 12 spine trusses, of three different lengths, were populated with a total of 50 Clay Paky Sharpies, 50 2-lite blinders and 26 strobes. The bottom of each truss was outlined with Colour Sound’s house one metre LED strips, utilising 60 units in total.
The front of the DJ booth was clad with 12 active Showtec Sunstrips to differentiate it from the screen. On the floor were another 12 BMFL Spots, 12 Robe LEDWash 600s and 22 Atomic strobes arranged in pairs.
The screen measured 15 metres wide by seven high and its seven millimetre resolution offered a 1920p pixel-perfect, clean and high-clarity surface for the content, which needed no mapping or manipulation. Two 3x3 metre side screens were 400 pixels wide.
All lighting was run off a ChamSys MQ200 console, Marsh’s desk of choice, through which he also triggered the visuals
Video for Above & Beyond’s larger shows is stored on two Mac Pro servers running a magic mix of Millumin and Mad Mapper software platforms for playback, all controlled via a custom system called VizSys, which was coded by Timo Reunanen and Siljamăki.
Triggered from an iPad at FOH running a custom version of touchOSC, the midi clock from the mixer was included in the coding on the MacPros to keep the visuals in sync. They also checked the status of the video network from FOH to check that the decks and DJ mixer were connected and working.
There’s no MCing during Above & Beyond shows, they communicate with the audience by typing text onto the screen via a modified laptop, which has been considered a relief to anyone bored of hearing endless iterations of “Make some noise.”
Although he knew the set, Marsh’s starting point for lighting this large and high profile one-off was often the visuals, to which he would match the colour and catch the mood.
Dylan Byrne produced most of the visuals but the band had input into them, especially McGuiness. Some of the screen material were graphics but Above & Beyond visuals don’t usually follow any standard EDM formats and are generally considered more cinematic in feel.
All this made Marsh look at the lighting in terms of colour and mood, enhancing the music and visuals and creating a modus operandi that resulted in a large arena feeling more like an intimate club.
Supporting Marsh was a Colour Sound crew of four including crew chief Sam Campbell, Franki McDade, Stu Barr and Hadyn Williams.
Dave Kyle, also a Colour Sound regular, is currently working as Marsh’s production visuals partner-in-crime. He’s assisting Marsh with all the video mapping and cameras and applying his skills to pre-patching and pre-visualising lighting for the big international shows using the ChamSys visualiser among numerous other duties.
“I’ve had fantastic service from Colour Sound,” he confirms. “H did an excellent deal on the rig which really helped us produce a top show for the occasion and nothing was too much trouble.”
Colour Sound’s Haydn Cruickshank added: “It was a great pleasure to be able to work on this with Neil and Above & Beyond, especially for such a worthwhile cause. We were very proud to have been part of an amazing event.”
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