Paul Weller rocked the O2 Arena in London with a blistering set encompassing tracks from his new album, “22 Dreams” as well as classics from his extensive back catalogue, proving once again that he's one of the most enduring mavericks of UK indie rock.
The show's spectacular video design was the work of creative director Justine Catterall, who also produced custom content for 12 songs of the set. All the hardware – including MiTrix LED screen, Catalyst control, 2 camera systems, projection and PPU - plus crew were supplied by XL Video, project managed for them by Des Fallon. Matt Askem directed the live IMAG mix and Stuart Heaney crew chiefed. The playback content was programmed onto 2 high spec Catalyst digital media servers, operated by Richard Stembridge.
Catterall's design brought a quirky and fragmented look to the stage using 36 panels of MiTrix LED screen arranged at jaunty angles, suspended on 3 overstage trusses, providing additional depth and dimension to the stage. The idea was initially inspired by the album artwork that features a montage of photos fitted together to make one big picture. Her overall aims for this large one-off were to enhance the show's visual presence and make it memorable.
Jonny Gaskell's lighting design followed the contours of the video effectively framing the MiTrix panels and following the same diagonal lines. He and Catterall worked closely to ensure that they presented a dynamic visuals show that united the two mediums.
The band did 3 warm ups the week before the O2 show - with no video – which was preceded by 5 days of lighting and video production rehearsals at Black Island Studios. “It was a very ambitious design to conceive and achieve in a one-off scenario” comments Des Fallon, “Justine showed a lot of creative daring in going for it rather than playing safe with something conventional, while our crew worked seamlessly to make it happen in the really tight timeframe”.
The MiTrix panels were all mounted in XL's special touring frames which have been specially developed to maximise the rigging options.
Catterall's brief for the content from Weller was “contemporary psychedelic”, which gave her plenty of scope for imagination. It ranged from fluid, high-impact colour effects to a melange of abstract and some more literal pieces of footage, and was the result of two weeks compiling and editing the material.
It was essential to the look of the show that each section of MiTrix could work independently as a screen, in addition to all of them working together as a single large screen. This was achieved via the two Catalysts, for which Richard Bleasdale (Catalyst's inventor) had to write some custom software. They used 32 Mix Windows across the 2 machines, synched together to work as one, and 64 layers, with the base layer running as a reference.
The flat artwork was also corrected in the Catalyst to fit the different angles of each of the 36 screens.
Also lined up and output to the MiTrix screens via the Catalysts were 5 robo-cams dotted around the stage with one at FOH, which were also an integral element of Catterall's design. These were operated by Joe Makin, and Catterall added them to bring some arty, more idiosyncratic and unusual angled people shots into the MiTrix mix. The whole Catalyst element of the show involved Stembridge in some intense programming!
One of the most stunning NEW psychedelic moments of a show laced with video used sparingly and intelligently throughout was for “Porcelain Gods”. A subtle blend of IMAG and vibrant multi-coloured playback spread across the MiTrix tiles which reached right out into the arena ….. as they also hooked into the O2's Arenamation LED signage system just for that song.
Matt Askem cut the completely separate IMAG mix using 6 of XL's Sony D50 broadcast quality cameras – 2 in the pit on track and pedestal, 2 hand-helds onstage with J11 wide angle lenses and 2 at front-of-house – one locked off in the centre and one to the house left side of the arena with an 86 long lens.
He used a GV Kayak switcher, and the images were beamed onto two 25 x 15ft side screens side screens, fed by Barco FLM20 projectors.