Dirk Sanders, technical designer for Control Freak Systems (CFS), worked on both the arena and the stadium versions of Bon Jovi’s Because We Can Tour, putting together the complex video control systems. On the arena tour, CFS worked with the lighting, video, and automation teams to configure a groundbreaking control system that redefined integration for video control. As Bon Jovi now drives into the stadium leg of the tour, Sanders explains that, though the two designs are vastly different, the integration of the control systems—this time between the lighting and the video—are no less complex.

The performance itself is still the same tour, but it is now presented within an entirely different production design for the stadiums. Gone are the automated columns and kinetic movement of the arena design. Instead Performance Environment Design Group’s Doug “Spike” Brant has created an enormous 1950s automobile that literally envelops the stage with the front grille being the primary performance area and a massive windshield above it all.

Live Design: Tell us a little about how you approach the same show with such a radically different configuration.

Dirk Sanders: It was very different; we didn’t have all the automation complexities that we had on the arena show. This was more of a traditional system design that boiled down to flexibility. We do, however, continue to build on the integration between the lighting and the video. Throughout the show, we blur the lines continually between the lighting and the video control. One big difference between the arena and the stadium shows is the amount of content. During the arena show, there were parts where video played a very big part, and then there were parts where the columns went away, and it was really lighting-driven. In the stadium, it is 100% using video; every single song has a video element.

We wanted the video to be tight with lighting, really kick that up a notch. One song that is a great example of that is “Wanted Dead or Alive.” Meteor Tower handled the content for that song, and they really bring the whole car design alive. They created an arc from sunrise to sunset. You see it in the windshield video screen. There are reflections and movement; it’s really great. Then the lighting totally hooks into that and moves the sunlight across the hood of the car. There are some really wonderful moments throughout the show when the lighting is an extension of the video and when the video is an extension of the lighting.