New Windsor, NY—July 20, 2009—The unprecedented scale of U2's 360° Tour required a power and data network that would handle long distances; be quick and efficient to install; provide high network speed; and be rock-solid. Systems Crew Chief Craig Hancock worked with Show Director/Designer Willie Williams from the early design phase of the production to engineer a network that would satisfy all of these requirements.
The backbone of Hancock's network design is the PRG Series 400â„¢ Power and Data Distribution System. Describing his approach to laying out the system, Hancock said, “I started working on the lighting system and layout of the power and data network about seven months ago with Willie and Jeremy Lloyd and Nick Evans of Mark Fisher's Studio Fisher. I then worked with PRG, especially Chris Conti, to get where we are now. I knew what I wanted and how I wanted it and Chris made it into reality with Series 400.”
“The networking system for the U2 360° tour is daunting when you first look at it, but it is actually fairly simple, just on a very large scale,” noted Conti, PRG's S400 Product Manager. “There is an S400 trunk cable run to the FOH control position, providing the power for the consoles as well as running the DMX from the consoles to the S400 system. Then fiber optic cable distributes the data around the system, a total of eight 350' runs.” There are a total of 24 universes of DMX with custom dimmer carts at the bottom of each leg of the structure. There are a total of four carts up on the catwalk in the roof structure that handle the power and data for the lights in the roof as well as in the pylon (the central vertical element of the set). DMX is sent from the top of the pylon out to the seven satellite lighting positions that are in the seats around the top of the stadium.
Hancock, who had previously used the S400 system on Madonna's Sticky and Sweet tour, knew the abilities of the system. “The great thing about having the PRG Node Plusses and the S400 Fiber Switches is that they all work in line with the Series 400 system; it allows so much flexibility. I can use external equipment like dimmer racks and other gear with no headaches at all.” Cue reaction time was also critical to Williams and Hancock. “With the sheer scale of the structure and having the satellite lighting positions around the stadium, we were very concerned about the network speed and the reaction time. The Series 400 system moves Art-Net around which allowed us to have no delays in cue reaction time,” Hancock said.
The final piece of the system was the inclusion of City Theatrical's SHoW DMX wireless DMX explained Hancock, “When Chris came onboard in March it was invaluable because he brought in the SHoW DMX. I think that the wireless DMX solved a big issue and has worked well. I didn't really see how we were going to run cabling through the crowd every night.” For Hancock the final network system has overall ease of use and is reliable. It is what he wanted, a power and data network that is the backbone of the lighting system for Williams' sophisticated design.
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About Production Resource Group—Production Resource Group, LLC (PRG) is the world's leading supplier of entertainment technology solutions, including lighting, audio, video, scenery, and automation systems. PRG serves a wide range of markets, including theatre, concert tours, trade shows, corporate and special events, television and film, and themed environments. PRG provides its services worldwide through more than 17 offices in North America, Europe, and Asia.