XL Video UK is supplying Barco O-Lite tiles, Element Labs control, Chroma-Q ColorBlocks and two V4 Catalyst digital media servers for dance robot gurus Daft Punk’s headline shows on their current European and Japanese festival tour. It is the band’s first tour since 1997, and their distinctive pyramid shaped set was designed to maximize impact and ensure that the show is visually memorable.
The set was originally conceived for a one time performance at the Coachella Valley Music Festival, where it was such a success that they decided to tour the show-stopping design involving four separate but linked layers of video.
The pyramid is the show’s main visual device, and is completely reliant on all the video technologies working in unison with the lighting cues.
LD Martin Phillips is in charge of the general visual aesthetics, and he suggested that the tour needed a dedicated video partner in the form of a locally based rental company with comprehensive back-up and technical support to ensure the video elements were all covered. Enter XL Video UK, and project manager Phil Mercer, who says, “We are really pleased to be working on a show as creative and innovative as Daft Punk.”
XL’s experience in dealing with all types of video has been a great asset to the tour. Mercer says, “The challenge is in ensuring that the intricate design, which was not initially built to tour, is replicated successfully every time; particularly with back to back shows and the tight turnarounds between acts on the busy summer festival circuit.”
XL Video was initially contacted by production manager Aaron Chawla after Phillips spoke to XL Inc. in the US about their needs. XL is also supplying one of it’s most experienced engineers, Paul Maddock-Jones (PJ ), for the tour.
In Daft Punk tradition, the duo remain completely anonymous, wearing their trademark visors through the entire show; leaving the various video elements to provide the visual centrepiece.
The pyramid shaped set, measuring 16 ft wide across the bottom, is constructed from more than 1,600 Barco O-Lite blocks, which have been custom pixel mapped to create a three-dimensional video screen surface. Moving images and video effects are played onto the bottom two thirds of the front fascia of the set and onto a small section at the top, above the band’s platform.
Flanking both sides of the main pyramid are customized frames holding an 18ft high x 18ft wide geometric network of criss-crossing hexagonal shapes, made up from a total of 170 Element Labs’ VersaTubes.
Behind the pyramid and VersaTubes, effectively wrapping the whole stage set, is a special 75mm resolution 48 ft wide by 16 ft high ‘Pixel’ curtain. This is a bespoke creation made from Element Labs components and the result of a joint project between them and Daft Art, the band’s production company.
The video content was produced by LA film effects producer Baptiste Andrieux and Martin Phillips, working in close conjunction with the band. Video content, which runs for 95 percent of the Daft Punk show, is stored on and played back via two dual output V4 Catalyst digital media servers, with two running as ‘hot’ backup. These are triggered by Phillips’ Hog iPC lighting console, in turn receiving SMPTE from the band.
The Catalyst running the Pyramid has 10 layers available, of which Phillips is using five, leaving three additional layers onto which he can program the additional ‘buskable’ content. This is used if they divert from the standard show. He has the clips ready and at his fingertips so he can bump, flash, and tweak between the standard and the improvisational content on those additional layers.