Lighting designer Dan Hardiman also worked as video director on the UK arena section of UB40’s current world tour, directing and mixing a full manned-camera IMAG system and a substantial lighting rig--all via the lighting desk. D-Tek Industries’ D-Mix Pro gave Hardiman the power to perform both tasks. It is a small 1U black box device that offers flexibility and plug-and-play simplicity.
The D-Mix Pro allows small-to-medium sized tours to incorporate video very easily with no extra crew required. The operator can program and sequence video mixes via any DMX user-interface, just as they would a moving light or other intelligent device.
The D-Mix Pro was invaluable, enabling Hardiman to pre-program some basic camera mix building blocks, and work live during the show. The D-Mix Pro has four video inputs, each of which can be sent to up to four outputs via a matrix. It works with all video systems worldwide and has less frame-lag than a digital media server. The hardware guarantees reliable operation and involves no software with crash potential.
Hardiman says of the D-Mix, “I like the ‘anything-anywhere-anyplace’ facility and the fact that it’s a one box solution enabling me to run my M-Box playback footage and four live cameras through the WholeHog 3. DMX is finally giving me the huge potential, power, and flexibility I need to focus simultaneously on the show’s creative aspects”.
Hardiman also produced all his own playback video sources for the show, and designed the set in addition to the lighting and video. “I’ve always believed in total artistic control,” he says. “Having one person totally responsible for all the show visuals is the only way I believe it can be done properly.”
The stage featured a large 34’x18’ 15mm pixel pitch Sony LED screen. This was supported by two customized ovular soft screens on either side of stage, fed with Barco projectors. Three of XL-operated Sony D50s cameras were placed two in the pit and one at FOH, plus a remote controlled hot head over-stage, all of which were run through the D-Mix Pro, along with the M-Box media server playback sources. The D-Mix effectively performs the functions of both a mixer and a switcher device.
The lighting desk and all the FOH gear is supplied by Hardiman’s own company t-h-c. XL Video, suppliers of the tour’s production video, built a bespoke camera monitoring system for FOH, so Hardiman can view up to 16 sources in a variety of configurations on a single flat screen.
Since it is a world tour, Hardiman came up with a simplified calling technique. The idea came to him after a show in Russia where he had to call 12 spots via an interpreter. Honing his followspot vocabulary down to 15 basic commands, Hardiman put the vocals into a sampler and created a system whereby the desk triggers pre-programmed macros that fire the necessary sample and create the right command at the right time. He runs two intercom networks, one exclusively for audio to the followspots and the other for cameras, dimmers, and racks. In conjunction with main UK leg lighting contractors PRG, he developed a customized headset to mixes between the two systems.
The tour continues throughout 2006. The D-Mix Pro is also now being shipped as standard with High End Systems’ Catalyst DL2 projection head/integrated media servers, specifically to mix between their cameras.