Nineteen square metres of Element Labs’ VersaTILE® LED panels were used by UK indie band Maximo Park, headliners of the 2006 Shockwaves NME Awards tour (AKA ‘The Brats’).

The 19 sold out dates featured the very best of burgeoning UK musical talent including the Arctic Monkeys, Mystery Jets, and We Are Scientists in addition to Maximo Park.

The VersaTILES were supplied by Element Labs’ UK partners, Projected Image Digital to Maximo’s lighting designer Stevie Marr.

Marr, a respected LD for many years, is also currently studying Interactive Media at The Arts Institute, Bournemouth, and this was his first substantial tour since starting the course. Marr produced all video content for the Tiles as part of his coursework.

The tour’s standard generic and moving light rig was supplied by Siyan. Marr wanted something special to differentiate Maximo’s highly energetic set, and he wanted it to be video-based to tie in with his college work about using LED as a lightsource.

It was the first time he used VersaTILEs. He originally experimented with LED screen panels back in 1999 on a Texas tour, when he realized the medium had huge potential for use as a lightsource as well as a video effect.

He’s been working for Maximo for the last two years. When the NME tour was confirmed, he assessed the available products, and VersaTILES came up as the best low resolution option for what he wanted to achieve. “Nothing else had the right attributes,” he explains, adding that the large pixels of the Tiles give a uniform color and exactly the blocky effect he wanted for the band.

Central to his imaginative philosophy is the belief that restrictions make people more creative, so the whole low resolution concept was of huge creative benefit to the show. “The effects have to be simple, and the imagery doesn’t detract from the band, as video sometimes does, because it’s abstract.” Using the Tiles in this way was effectively a style statement rather than a content one. Each song had its own content comprised from about three clips.

Projected Image Digital helped source the Tiles for the tour, and the High End Systems Catalyst digital media server on which his content is stored. Marr also visited the West London office for product training before taking the Tiles on the road and preprogrammed his Wholehog 2 console and Catalyst system there. The project was coordinated for PID by David March.

The Tiles were spread all over the stage for the tour, varying slightly depending on the venue and available space. Five upstage stands each had 2 sq.m rigged on them. There were 3 sq.m on the flown back truss and 6 sq.m on the floor.

All the content–-about 30 clips in total-–Marr created in Adobe Illustrator and then animated in Adobe After Effects, working on the early stages of this process with his tutor Jason Watkins. All clips were stored as Apple Quicktime movies on the Catalyst computer, triggered from the Wholehog 2.