Entec Scopes Out Big Comedy Night

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Entec Sound & Light supplied full technical production – sound, lighting and video – and crew for the recent Big Comedy Night event for leading charity Scope at London's Hammersmith Apollo.

A stellar line up included a rare stand-up appearance by maverick alt comedian Ben Elton, who co-hosted the evening with pub landlord Al Murray, plus a host of other high profile acts including Doc Brown, Hal Cruttenden, Richard Herring, Robin Ince, Milton Jones, Francesca Martinez, Sally Phillips and Paul Tomkinson.

Entec was approached by event organiser Susan Dorrington of Scope, who was looking for a full technical solution for the show. Entec's Noreen O'Riordan project managed, and asked Phil White on-board to design the lighting. Entec's own Ryan Brown and Ed Hammond took care of video and sound respectively.

Lighting & Visuals

There was already a basic lighting plot in place when White became involved in the project, so he used this as a starting point and then developed a simple but unique look for the stage. “The idea was to make it a bit different and more interesting than an average stand-up setting,” he explains.

Entec supplied four white 24ft deep by 5ft wide silks which were utilised to make staggered side wings, wider apart at the front and narrower at the back, to give the stage more depth and a definite sense of perspective.

These legs were back-lit with Vari*Lite VL2000 Washes on the floor and front lit with V*L2500 Spots – one per silk – rigged on house bars immediately downstage of the silks. It was another essential requirement that the stage was kept clean and clear and that no lights were obviously visible from the front.

Upstage centre there was a 12 x 20ft projection screen, fed by two of Entec's Barco R10 projectors.

The front and back trusses were loaded with a total of 11 bars of 6 x PARs – six on the front and five on the back. Five 2K fresnels on the front truss provided a strong stage wash, and another two on the back truss gave additional rear light reinforcement.

On the floor underneath the screen were four JTE PixelLine LED battens, which filled the ‘black gaps' around the projection screen very efficiently with light.

Also on the floor were four V*L 2500 spots. These were spread out along the back edge of the stage, used for beam work and other forward-facing lighting effects and to generally enhance the depth of the space.

A well-managed supply of haze further boosted the atmosphere.

The main colour look of the evening was purple to match the ‘Big Comedy Night' logo of white lettering cut out of a purple background. The performance space then changed colour as each different comedian took to the stage. They were also highlighted by two Pani followspots.

All the stage lighting was controlled by White using a grandMA full size console, and he worked closely with Entec's crew.

Entec brought in Nick Burlace as production rigger to co-ordinate the needs of all departments.

Video content – including the logo and a VT play-in to explain the goal of the evening and highlight the work of the Scope organisation - was supplied by the client, programmed into a Hippo Critter media server and played back using this together with a laptop running PowerPoint. All the relevant sizing and masking of the images and footage to make it fit the screen was done by Ryan Brown in the Hippo Critter.

Sound

Entec's Ed Hammond took care of all things sonic.

They installed a standard Hammersmith Apollo system for spoken word shows, which comprised main left and right hangs of nine d&b Q1s a side, with two Q-SUBS at the top of the array to get low-end punch to the back of the room and up onto the balcony in particular.

Ground stacked were three Q-SUBS per side, and the infills were four d&b E3s and four Q7s. All the speakers were driven by d&b D12 amplifiers.

The time alignment and EQ was determined in advance using d&b's ArrayCalc.

Hammond engineered the show utilising a Yamaha LS9 16-channel console, his desk of choice for its small footprint and excellent sound and because it comfortably accommodated all audio needs. Monitors – six M4 wedges – were also mixed from FOH. He made the most of the console's on-board effects and just had to integrate some playback stings into the system from a laptop.

The mics were four Shure SM58 hand-helds, and the whole sound design was based on getting the vocal intelligibility spot-on all around the venue, a task relatively straightforward using the Q Series in that room.

Entec also supplied a Telix BT R800 comms system for clear communication between all departments.

Hammond worked alongside his crew of James Kerridge, with Rob Maynard looking after the mics.

The event was a massive success raising funds – and profile - for Scope. Entec was extremely pleased to be involved, and the crew all enjoyed many laughs while they helped make a superlative evening of entertainment very special.

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