Barco, Innovative Designs, and XL Video (all based in Belgium) worked together to stage Willie Williams’ spectacular design for U2’s Vertigo tour, which kicked off in San Diego, CA March 28. The tour, with lighting design directed by Bruce Rahmus and video design by Stefaan Desmet, takes the latest in video and lighting technology on the road.
Capturing the essence of the project, Frederic Opsomer of Innovative Designs, which specializes in the design and production of custom-made video displays for special projects, states: "You need a band like U2 to push creativity and technology forward."
An example of this forward-moving technology is Barco’s MiSPHERE, a tiny, plastic-encased LED spherical module that can be used for both lighting and video purposes. Designed and developed by Barco especially for the Vertigo tour, the MiSPHERE is an awe-inspiring visual element of the show, with its 360º viewing angles, opaque, light-diffusing casing, and the ability to play both full video and data.
Individual MiSPHERES are daisy-chained into a string, with several strings forming a 3D visualization curtain. Each MiSPHERE acts as a pixel within the curtain, making it possible to display images and simulate lighting effects across the entire curtain, while also achieving a Look-Through effect and Multiple Angle viewing effect for the audience.
"Designing, producing, and delivering a revolutionary product such as the MiSPHERE in less than six months confirms Barco’s commitment to driving technological advances within the rental and staging industries," says Stephan Paridaen, president of Barco’s Media & Entertainment division. "Together with our rental partner XL Video and creative partner Innovative Designs, we helped realize the creative aspects of a show that will wow millions of fans at concerts across the world over the coming year."
The MiSPHERE strings hang above centerstage. Each string contains 64 spheres and totals 9m long. A total of 189 strings (containing over 12,000 spheres) form seven 3D curtains that allows fans on all sides of the stage to have a perfect view of the images and content displayed on the curtain.
Five Barco Folsom Encore show control system provide advanced video processing and presentation control, with source selection, advanced windowing features, seamless switching, video effects, and integrated control. The Encore’s modular, scaleable architecture allows the system to support a wide variety of show configurations. The system can efficiently support from one to 32 screens with any combination of independent display or seamless widescreen display elements.
All visualization aspects of the show, from the various projection setups (from four Barco RLM G5 and four ELM G10 projectors) to the video-driven LED projection units, the image processing (Barco Folsom Encore), or the new revolutionary MiSPHERE curtains, were designed, integrated, and produced by Barco or Innovative Designs and delivered by Barco Rental Partner, XL Video.