Leading UK lighting and visual rentals specialist HSL's mega busy spring and early summer season continues, supplying lighting, Kinesys automation system and crew to another high profile artist - International operatic / pop vocal superstars Il Divo.
The massively successful â€˜crossover' group who have made this popular genre their own have just completed the first full production UK and European leg of their “Wicked Game” World tour.
It was HSL's first tour with the band, after being brought on-board by tour director and production manager Andy Proudfoot.
Lighting designer Matt Pitman started work with Il Divo for this tour following a one-off stadium show in Paraguay at the end of 2011 in front of 36,000 people. His design has brought additional vibrancy and vitality to the stunning set and screen elements that are part of artistic director Brian Burke's visual concept.
Matt is very pleased to be working with HSL again, where the tour is project managed by the uber project manager Mike Oates. Pitman has been involved in various projects with Blackburn based HSL, and comments, “What can I say - an absolutely brilliant company! Their attitude, standards and work ethics are amazing, and best of all, they are all genuine people. It is like dealing professionally with your friends”
The schedule of the first three months of the Wicked Game tour meant that they were picking up local production everywhere based on a spec – so effectively a B Rig scenario. During this time, HSL was still very proactive in supporting Pitman and the production.
Their master draughtsman Rupert Reynolds in particular provided numerous sets of drawings, and all the necessary paperwork needed by Pitman to advance the initial shows smoothly was supplied and backed up by HSL. “Rupert's assistance was invaluable” affirms Pitman.
Brian Burkes' stylish visual and set design for Wicked Game features three striking curved screens. The main brief was that the lighting rig had to compliment these and also fit around them in terms of rigging.
Pitman responded by curving his trusses to the same degree as the orchestra risers below, with the help of custom fabricated corner sections that worked with HSL's special James Thomas pre-rigged truss. He comments that he is always really impressed with HSLâ€˜s resourcefulness at finding custom solutions for any physical elements of his rigs. .
The lighting design also had to be flexible in order to deal with the different stage sizes and roof weight loadings across the variety of venues they are playing – looking equally good in all!
Pitman is a big Martin Professional MAC 3 fan, and so chose 25 of these powerful fixtures to be his key over-stage moving lights. “I love the beam and its definition, it remains so sharp and has great depth of field even over long distances” he says, “They are the only profile that I would ever spec for this size of design”.
There were two overhead trusses comprising of four 3 metre and two 2 metre sections curved using the hinges, plus a straight 15 metre front truss.
Spread Over these were the 25 MAC 3Ks together with 20 VARI*LITE 3500 Washes and two V*L 1000 ASs.
On the deck were 15 x MAC 700 Profiles used for effects and dramatic, piercing back beams.
Under the orchestra risers sat 24 Robe ROBIN 600 LED Washes, which created plenty of dynamics and filled in spaces for the IMAG camera mix in the arenas, as well as adding another complete visual layer.
Focussed on the upstage cyc and side drapes were 12 x V*L 3500 Washes, and on the side â€˜shelves' at the back of the stage for low level cross stage beams shooting downwards were six Robe ColorBeam 700E ATs.
Pitman operates the show using a grandMA1 full size console, MA being another brand which is right up there amongst his favourites.
It's a graceful, well-paced show with a completely different set of requirements from a standard rock or pop production. All the lights are used thoughtfully and carefully as well as being maximised. He spent two weeks pre-programming the building blocks with Burke while the band were rehearsing at Music Bank in London, for which HSL supplied him with a WYSIWYG system.
The creative challenges of lighting are to find a diversity of different ways of punctuating the music, which tends to feature big anthemic builds, dramatic plateaus and gentle fades, with stabs here and there. The trick, explains Pitman, is trying to have something â€˜up the sleeve' to use for accenting the intricacies … weaving groups of fixtures around each other without noticeably subtracting elements of the songs.
Pitman was assisted by five HSL lighting crew – Dan Tiley (crew boss), Chris Roper, Steve Bliss, Stuart “Wales” Picton and Neil “Braveheart” Smith. “They're all fantastic” says Matt, “Dan is a brilliant crew chief, and the boys cover so many disciplines amongst their skill sets… they're bloomin' ace!”
The Kinesys system was operated by Andy “Paris” Hilton and consists of nine Liftket 1 tonne motors with Kinesys Elevation 1+ controllers fitted, three of which were used on each of the three curved video screens, made up from Pixled F-11 panels supplied by XL Video.
All the motors were inverted, with the Elevation 1+'s residing in the mother grid in keeping with the overall clean aesthetic of the show. This also reduces motor noise.
Hilton used one of HSL's Kinesys Vector controllers and had 19 cues in the show, mostly taking place during the blackouts, with a few super-subtle ones during strategic songs.
HSL's Mike Oates comments, “We're very proud to work on a tour of this calibre and with Andy (Proudfoot) and the team, all delivering such high production values. Matt has made a superb job of the design, the whole show is absolutely world class with the popularity and stature of the tour speaking for themselves”.
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