Killer Production by Gearhouse South Africa

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Gearhouse South Africa supplied full production - lighting, audio, video and rigging to US alt rockers, The Killers' recent - and first - tour of the country. The Killers wowed South Africa with three incendiary, sold-out performances, two at the Coca Cola Dome in Johannesburg and one at Val De Vie Estate in Cape Town.

The band has been on this current world tour since the middle of 2008, with the schedule stepping up after the release of their third studio album - the phenomenal "Day & Age" in November last year. It finishes up in February 2010 after visiting Asia and the Far East.

Killers' lighting designer Steven Douglas has worked with Gearhouse SA before on a Kanye West tour 3 years ago, and says he was confident that the production and service would be "excellent" when it came to the SA leg of the tour.

His original full production touring rig has several different permutations to allow for the variable availability of equipment in the different territories and for the type of show - whether it's their own headliner, a festival set up, etc. For the SA leg, he spec's a straight truss 'festival friendly' adaptation of the rig.

His design - in whichever format - is based on a cool mix of retro and contemporary elements to suit the band's distinctive musical style. In SA, there were 5 overstage trusses plus a drapes truss at the back, with 2 side trusses - all of which replaced the circular architecture of the original rig.

At the back, were 6 columns of Lighthouse R16 LED screen (supplied by Gearhouse's sister company LEDVision), each made up from 16 panels. Weighing nearly 6 tonnes, this presented one of the biggest challenges to the Gearhouse Rigging team led by Anthony Banks, as it was too heavy to hang directly the Dome venue's roof, but in CTN hung from a Stageco roof system via bridling.

The solution, for the Dome Venue, was to install a 20 metre 4-legged StageCo ground support system upstage, which supported the 6 video columns and the furtherest upstage lighting truss. The truss flying the 6 x LED columns was carefully bridled to ensure the weight was evenly distributed between the 4 legs of the StageCo system.

In the Coca Cola Dome, the remainder of the lighting trusses and the audio hangs were flown from a 10 tonne capacity TFL mother grid which Gearhouse regularly installs in the venue for shows.

Banks worked with a team of 5 riggers - 3 climbers and 2 on the ground, and they had everything in place and the trusses floating within 2 hours of their get-in on the first day. Gearhouse Structures built the 18 metre wide by 16 metre deep stage that was used by The Killers

The Gearhouse Lighting crew of 3 was chiefed by Jason Fritz. It was the first tour for technicians Nicholas Barnes and Wanda Mkhwanazi, and they were joined by 2 locals at each venue.

Douglas used a combination of Robe and Martin Professional moving lights. Upstage in between each of the LED columns were 5 ladder trusses, each rigged with 3 Robe ColorWash 700E ATs and 3 i-Pix BB4s - Douglas remarks that SA has been the only country they've toured recently where the BB4s on his spec have been provided!

On the overhead trusses were 34 Martin MAC 2K Washes and 28 MAC 2K Profiles and a smattering of Atomic strobes, together with some PARs on the front truss to create a basic stage wash. Fifteen square 4-way Moles on the front truss were used for audience blinders.

A total of 4 MAC 2K Washes and 4 x Profiles on the side trusses were used for lower cross stage wash lighting.

On the floor were 7 MAC 2K washes and 6 MAC 2K profiles, which were good for aerial beamwork, and 7 Atomic strobes, all positioned underneath the screens at the back.

Douglas used a grandMA full size console to control all the lights and also to run his own Arkaos media server, which stored and played back video content for the Lighthouse columns, and pixel mapped sections of ColorWeb inbuilt into custom backline cages. He also ran a selection of set practicals including coloured neon tubing fronting the risers and illuminations for the special "K" keyboard stand through the grandMA.

Four x 3K Gladiator follow spots were supplied as part of the package

Completing the AV picture was Gearhouse AV with a 3 camera and flyaway PPU system for IMAG, which was output to two 24 x 18ft side screens, each fed by a Christie 16K projector.

The cameras were all Sony D950s and were positioned one at FOH (with x 33 lens), and the other two house right and left (with x 22 lenses) for medium long shots, The mix was cut by video directors Luigi Cosani and Andries Mahlalela using a Snell & Wilcox DS1000 switcher, and the system was engineered by Neo Mogotsi.

Four 42 inch plasma screens were also installed to the VIP area, which received a TX output of the show fed from the PPU, plus assorted sponsor loops.

Adriaan Van Der Walt and Tom Gordon from Gearhouse Audio looked after the 'house' sound installation, which comprised a standard Gearhouse tried-and-tested sonic formula for the Dome, the main hangs of which were already in place from a show a few days previous.

The main left and right hangs were 12 L-Acoustics V-DOSC cabinets a side with 3 x dv-DOSC underhangs. A flown array of 6 L-Acoustics KUDO outfills helped radiate the sound throughout the Dome's voluminous space and 20,000 capacity, together with 12 x L-Acoustics SB28 subs per side on the floor and some dV infills around the stage lip. The whole system was driven by LA8 amps

They utilised two digital consoles - the Killers' engineer James Gebhard used his own touring Digico SD7, while Gearhouse supplied a Yamaha PM5D for opening act, fast rising SA stars Zebra & Giraffe, engineered by Marinus Visser.

They used the same line drive system, which was swapped between the two consoles via a Dolby Lake processor, also acting as a matrix switcher. The Lake was used via its wireless remote tablet to tune the system.

The side fills were 4 flown Turbosound Floodlight cabinets a side, with XTA DP224 crossovers, powered by MC2 amps.

The Killers are touring their own monitor system complete - a mix of d&b M2 wedges and Sennheiser IEMs, mixed by their engineer Harm Schopman using a Digico D5 desk, with all mics and stands.

Tom Gordon engineered Zebra & Giraffe's very tidy monitor set up - consisting of 5 mixes of Sennheiser 300 G2 - using a Yamaha M7 CL desk.

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