Lighting and sound design specialists Audiotech & The Lighthouse supplied sound and lighting design, equipment, and crew to Manchester-based production company With, for the annual Virgin Vie cosmetics and jewelry sales conference, staged at the NEC, Birmingham.
The high-energy one day event, called "The Big One," saw 5,200 Virgin Vie consultants and managers gather in the NEC’s main arena. The conference featured numerous theatrical moments, dance sequences, motivational speakers, presentations, and a live performance by a Robbie Williams look-alike to launch the new range of Rock Star cosmetics.
Lighting was designed by Phil Wiffen from The Lighthouse, the visual side of the company. He produced an up-tempo show with the themes of opulence and glamour.
Wiffen designed a U-shaped truss overhead at the front and two gently angled mini-beam trusses at the back that formed a subtle ‘V’ over the stage. There was also a practical truss that flew in for the Robbie Williams piece, rigged with four Martin MAC 500s.
Fixtures included 12 MAC 2000s, 18 MAC 500s, and 18 MAC 600s plus 14 MAC 300s primarily positioned within the set. A row of six MAC 300s on the bottom rail of the upstage trusses was tightly focused on the tops of the set columns. The middle panel of the stage was Perspex and was underlit with 1K and 500W cyc units.
The generics consisted of eight bars of four PARs on the front truss for a two-color cross-stage wash, 12 2K fresnels for a center stage wash, 12 1.2kW Fresnels, and 12 Profiles, mainly used for lectern lighting. Wiffen also had to ensure that the lectern speakers were appropriately lit for a live camera, as there was a live camera mix and PPU happening throughout.
Max Conwell controlled the lighting with a Hog 1000 console. The show was produced by Sam Pole and Jenny Hazelhurst, with set design by Tim Wilding.
Audiotech, the sound side of the Barnsley-based business, is run by Des Ward, who was also mixing sound for "The Big One."
The sound level needed to be relatively raucous for the spirited 98% female audience. Audiotech used a d&b audiotechnik system. The house sound was a mix of the new d&b Q1 line array system–three elements in a center cluster–and two drops of 16 d&b C4s on each side. The subs were d&b B2s.
Ward used Q7s and Qsubs as downfills on each side. The lectern mikes were AT 935s, and Ward ran 12 channels of Shure radios for the various other presenters and performers. The whole system was powered by d&b D12 amplifiers.
Ward had to obtain an even room fill within the large, barn-like environment of the NEC Arena. The system also had to sound equally as good for voice and speech as it did for music. "The d&b [system] works wonderfully for this type of event," says Ward. "It’s smooth and rich when you want it to be and also raw, edgy, and kicks ass when needed".
Yamaha DME64 digital signal processor provided system control (EQ, crossovers, compression, etc.). Ward used a Sony R100 digital mixing desk. For playback, they ran a combination of Steinberg Wavelab on a laptop and various CDs.
"Virgin Vie in collaboration with With have always left us the space to create something a little different. We always look forward to…the challenge of delivering a show with the level of expertise and creativity expected by Virgin Vie," says Phil Wiffin.
Audiotech and the Lighthouse have been working together as a team for about five years.