Theo Cox Creates stunning design for Seal World Tour

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Lighting designer Theo Cox’s visual scheme for the current Seal world tour brings a fresh innovative approach, mixing the mediums of lighting, video and automation into a stunning asymmetric swirl of drama, suggestion and energy.

The design has proved extremely popular, and won much industry acclaim as the tour completed its first Australian and US legs, and is ready to hit Europe later in the autumn.

UK based Cox first worked with the multi-award winning musician/singer/songwriter Seal in summer 2011, and was then approached to create a design concept for the upcoming ‘Soul 2’ tour.

Given a largely open brief for the design, it had to be adaptable to a variety of different venue sizes, ultimately tourable and use kit that could be sourced worldwide as well as fitting into an expedient truck pack!

Evoking a clean, elegant and dynamically different look onstage was at the very core of the design.

The only set onstage is a pair of risers, and so the stage architecture is defined by seven movable pods, each fitted with a 1350mm by 2700mm portrait-orientated video screen.

A single Clay Paky Sharpy is rigged to the bottom of each pod, with two Martin Atomic strobes and colour scrollers on the rear of the frame assembly, and a 4-lite Mole at the top.

Before the tour commenced, Cox persuaded the band to re-work their stage layout so the drums were now off-centre. This avoided the often distracting conventional set up with the drum kit positioned immediately behind the main artist, and allowed better use of the central screens

Video wiz, James Cooksey of Basic Monkey was also invited on board, and together he and Cox started work on creating and sourcing new video content for the tour, run from a Catalyst media server, and researched the best screen options to support the pod design and desired look and feel of the performance space.

They decided on Flyer 12 in Australia, upgrading to Pixled F-11 in the US. The lightweight transparent surfaces were an ideal low-weight solution, and also perfect for allowing the full impact of lights when blasting through from behind.

The pods move into different positions throughout the show, adding a stunning new dynamic and extra depth to the visuals. Songs without video also benefit as the position of the screens also determines the position of the lights mounted on them.

In Australia, they utilised a Kinesys automation system with Vector control. In the US this changed to a ShowRig winch system with Navigator control, which will also be used on the European tour. The winch system provides many benefits including fast, smooth running, reduced noise and rig time and taking up less truck space.

They were able to fully integrate both Catalyst and Navigator systems so the media server constantly received positional information from the winch system. The screens were able to run continuous wave motion effects whilst displaying a coherent image – like seeing through moving windows to a large screen behind.

The rear truss also moves – flying in to fill the gap when the screens are in their lower positions.

The video clips are triggered by a mixture of time-code and manual cues, run either directly from the Catalyst or cued from Cox's Road Hog Full Boar lighting console.

Lighting is based around a hub of VARI*LITE 3000 Spots and 3500 Washes, with V*L 2500 Washes for key lighting and kickers, and V*L 2500 Spots for back lighting.

Cox’s lighting ‘base concepts’ included having individual moving back and key lights for each of the eight band members, and plenty of scope for ‘flash & bang’ interest.

For maximum flexibility and time efficiency, the rig was also designed so no manual focusing was necessary.

Powerful spot and wash moving lights were required as the primary moving sources, with minimal floor based ‘clutter’. Having a handful of movers, strobes and generics at his disposal on automated pods was also one of the original intentions, allowing ‘moving moving lights’ and serious asymmetry.

Cleverly evading the potential ‘cheese factor’, Cox incorporated both an LED Starcloth and a spectacular 32 inch mirror ball into the design, the latter dropping in on another winch from the mid truss during ‘I’ll Be Around’ and at several other strategic points in the show. This creates a great WOW factor and contrast to the rest of the set, which is based on tasteful beam structures, fluid movements, well orchestrated video and sharp timing.

Lighting, rigging and automation equipment was supplied by Chameleon in Australia, with video by Big Picture. In the US, LMG were the lighting and video contractors with rigging and automation from ShowRig.

Working alongside Cox on Seal’s international touring crew was Lighting Crew Chief Tony Fagan and production manager J. Chris Lantz, ably assisted by Andy Neitzert. The US crew comprised Barley Wood as Catalyst operator, Klaus Becker on dimmers, lighting tech Brian Bukovinsky, Michael Booch as automation operator and rigger Neil ‘Trey’ Welch.

Cox sums up, “This was a great opportunity to design a beautiful, vibrant show for an artist I respect a lot, and I am extremely pleased with the result”.

Lighting designer Theo Cox’s visual scheme for the current Seal world tour brings a fresh innovative approach, mixing the mediums of lighting, video and automation into a stunning asymmetric swirl of drama, suggestion and energy.

The design has proved extremely popular, and won much industry acclaim as the tour completed its first Australian and US legs, and is ready to hit Europe later in the autumn.

UK based Cox first worked with the multi-award winning musician/singer/songwriter Seal in summer 2011, and was then approached to create a design concept for the upcoming ‘Soul 2’ tour.

Given a largely open brief for the design, it had to be adaptable to a variety of different venue sizes, ultimately tourable and use kit that could be sourced worldwide as well as fitting into an expedient truck pack!

Evoking a clean, elegant and dynamically different look onstage was at the very core of the design.

The only set onstage is a pair of risers, and so the stage architecture is defined by seven movable pods, each fitted with a 1350mm by 2700mm portrait-orientated video screen.

A single Clay Paky Sharpy is rigged to the bottom of each pod, with two Martin Atomic strobes and colour scrollers on the rear of the frame assembly, and a 4-lite Mole at the top.

Before the tour commenced, Cox persuaded the band to re-work their stage layout so the drums were now off-centre. This avoided the often distracting conventional set up with the drum kit positioned immediately behind the main artist, and allowed better use of the central screens

Video wiz, James Cooksey of Basic Monkey was also invited on board, and together he and Cox started work on creating and sourcing new video content for the tour, run from a Catalyst media server, and researched the best screen options to support the pod design and desired look and feel of the performance space.

They decided on Flyer 12 in Australia, upgrading to Pixled F-11 in the US. The lightweight transparent surfaces were an ideal low-weight solution, and also perfect for allowing the full impact of lights when blasting through from behind.

The pods move into different positions throughout the show, adding a stunning new dynamic and extra depth to the visuals. Songs without video also benefit as the position of the screens also determines the position of the lights mounted on them.

In Australia, they utilised a Kinesys automation system with Vector control. In the US this changed to a ShowRig winch system with Navigator control, which will also be used on the European tour. The winch system provides many benefits including fast, smooth running, reduced noise and rig time and taking up less truck space.

They were able to fully integrate both Catalyst and Navigator systems so the media server constantly received positional information from the winch system. The screens were able to run continuous wave motion effects whilst displaying a coherent image – like seeing through moving windows to a large screen behind.

The rear truss also moves – flying in to fill the gap when the screens are in their lower positions.

The video clips are triggered by a mixture of time-code and manual cues, run either directly from the Catalyst or cued from Cox's Road Hog Full Boar lighting console.

Lighting is based around a hub of VARI*LITE 3000 Spots and 3500 Washes, with V*L 2500 Washes for key lighting and kickers, and V*L 2500 Spots for back lighting.

Cox’s lighting ‘base concepts’ included having individual moving back and key lights for each of the eight band members, and plenty of scope for ‘flash & bang’ interest.

For maximum flexibility and time efficiency, the rig was also designed so no manual focusing was necessary.

Powerful spot and wash moving lights were required as the primary moving sources, with minimal floor based ‘clutter’. Having a handful of movers, strobes and generics at his disposal on automated pods was also one of the original intentions, allowing ‘moving moving lights’ and serious asymmetry.

Cleverly evading the potential ‘cheese factor’, Cox incorporated both an LED Starcloth and a spectacular 32 inch mirror ball into the design, the latter dropping in on another winch from the mid truss during ‘I’ll Be Around’ and at several other strategic points in the show. This creates a great WOW factor and contrast to the rest of the set, which is based on tasteful beam structures, fluid movements, well orchestrated video and sharp timing.

Lighting, rigging and automation equipment was supplied by Chameleon in Australia, with video by Big Picture. In the US, LMG were the lighting and video contractors with rigging and automation from ShowRig.

Working alongside Cox on Seal’s international touring crew was Lighting Crew Chief Tony Fagan and production manager J. Chris Lantz, ably assisted by Andy Neitzert. The US crew comprised Barley Wood as Catalyst operator, Klaus Becker on dimmers, lighting tech Brian Bukovinsky, Michael Booch as automation operator and rigger Neil ‘Trey’ Welch.

Cox sums up, “This was a great opportunity to design a beautiful, vibrant show for an artist I respect a lot, and I am extremely pleased with the result”.

www.theocox.com

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