Live Earth, the 24-hour, 7-continent concert series that took place on 7/7/07, had the expressed goal of “using music to engage people on a mass scale to combat our climate crisis.” Produced by Control Room, Live Earth staged concerts in London, New Jersey, Sydney, Tokyo, Shanghai, Rio de Janeiro, Johannesburg, and Hamburg, as well as special broadcast events in Antarctica, Kyoto, and Washington, DC. More than 100 musical acts like The Police, Genesis, Bon Jovi, Madonna, Kanye West, Black Eyed Peas, and Jack Johnson took part.
Live Earth’s Green Production Mission states: “To create a ‘greener’ concert model that embodies the Live Earth message and leaves the venues and host cities with a ‘how to’ manual for future low-impact live events (i.e. sustainable progress).” Point 9 of that mission statement speaks directly to the entertainment lighting industry. “There will also be virtually no tungsten lighting (incandescent lighting) on the show at all. This sort of equipment, still used largely in the live performance world, uses at least twice as much power as discharge or LED technology (which is) 75-90% more efficient than incandescent lighting.”
At Wembley Stadium in London a crowd of 65,000 gathered for nine hours of environmentally conscientious music. Lighting design was handled by Patrick Woodroffe with assistance from Adam Bassett. TV lighting director was Mark Kenyon with crew chief Rich Gorrod.
The London show served as a template production for the other shows regarding set design and generic layout of lighting. Lighting design was based around a concept rig in terms of trusses, overhead fixtures and approximate layout but it was up to the individual LDs at other sites to adapt the rig to fit their stage and local availability of equipment, according to Bassett.
The London rig included approximately 76 of Martin’s new LED Stagebar 54L fixtures along with MAC 2000 Washes. Equipment was supplied by PRG, with Carol Croft as PRG’s account executive. The basic brief was to create a site that used less power overall with consideration made for a mostly daylight show. A rather large quantity of LED lighting was used supported by a backbone of moving heads used to light the stage.
Woodroffe was looking for LED footlights with additional amber in order to pair those for more acceptable color tones for TV, including warmer whites. He found those in the Martin Stagebar 54. The Stagebars, an RGB, amber, and white pixel bar, were located downstage in two rows about 15’ apart with a camera platform between them. One row on the front edge of the stage pointed out to the audience with a second row used as footlights pointing upstage. In reverse camera shots the continuous line of Stagebars gave a defining edge to the stage.
Twenty-four of i-Pix’s new BB wash-lights were also in action for the Live Earth London show at Wembley Stadium, mounted on the front truss header and used instead of normal 8 light blinders. Using the BBs enabled in the blinder role a six fold reduction in power—the units consumed a total of just 76.8 amps on full power, with each unit pulling just over 1 amp per color over its 16 cells). Had 24 conventional blinders been used, they would have drawn 497.8 amps!
Woodroffe also chose 86 i-Pix’ Satellite LED fixtures for the London show, which were rigged on horizontal trusses and vertical side trusses framing the proscenium arch. These 86 heads on full power consumed a mere total of 14.91 amps. The BB and Satellite units were run from a Catalyst system via a WholeHog II lighting console operated for the show by Nigel Catmur and Will Charles.
Furthermore 32 i-Pix Satellites were chosen by Gearhouse South Africa—also the new i-Pix SA distributor—who took delivery of the units just in time for their event in Johannesburg.
For the Giants Stadium show, each product was carefully chosen by performing side by side comparisons and research on power draws vs. light output versus entertainment value. The final specification included High End System’s Showgun and Coemar’s Infinity wash for the moving lights and a LED battery of 64 PixelLine 1044s. 11 PixelPar 90s were also used to complete the organic rock columns that hung from the rig which incorporated clusters of dimmable compact fluorescent bulbs known as “Eco-Pods.”
Patrick Dierson, lighting designer for the show, designated 20 Coemar Infinity Wash XLs to also be the sole floor lights on the stage. Eighty percent of the show was during the day and 24 Coemar Strip Lite LEDs were adapted into the design.
While vertically mounted on the downstage left and right trusses as side fill and in your face LED effects for cross camera shots, Dierson comments that the fixtures greatly assisted he and Spike Brant, broadcast LD for the show, in situations where the talent were requesting no FOH spots. They were able to use the Strip Light LEDs as foot lights to achieve a traditional foot light effect with camera-friendly 3200dg white 3 watt LEDs forging the way.
Set design at Giants Stadium was by Ray Winker of Stu Fish, with operation by Kevin Lawson, and Mike Appel. PRG’s account director was Chris Daily.
Every wireless personal monitor used onstage by the 21 acts at Wembley Stadium was a Sennheiser evolution wireless G2 system, and each of the presenters, which included Chris Rock, Ricky Gervais, Eddie Izzard, and Rob Reiner, used a Sennheiser SKM 5200 wireless microphone.
In London, Sennheiser personnel were working alongside concert sound provider Britannia Row Productions to support the artists. Every wireless personal monitor used onstage by the 21 acts was a Sennheiser evolution wireless G2 system, and each of the presenters, which included Chris Rock, Ricky Gervais, Eddie Izzard and Rob Reiner, used a Sennheiser SKM 5200 wireless microphone.
Jason Kirschnick, Eighth Day Sound Systems, was responsible for Madonna's Sennheiser wireless complement. Purchased last year for the Confessions world tour, the system was expanded to 24 channels for Live Earth London.
Foo Fighters' frontman Dave Grohl used a custom-chromed Sennheiser MD 431-II mic on the stage thrust and a second, black version on the main stage.
At Giants Stadium in New Jersey, concert sound was provided by Firehouse Productions with a Sennheiser G2 wireless IEM system with 32 body-packs and an A 5000 CP antenna. There were approximately 150 channels of RF and reports, "two-thirds of the "in-ear" systems were G2 ears. Every single artist used at least two mixes of Sennheiser ears."
Hamburg was the venue where Sennheiser was most widely used in around 80 radio links, with both wireless microphones and wireless monitoring featured. Nineteen of the 23 artists used Sennheiser.
In Shanghai, China, Sennheiser and production company LAB provided a stage-wide complement of wired and wireless microphones plus wireless personal monitor systems used by nearly every artist there.
In Japan, too, artists took advantage of a stage full of Sennheiser wireless and wired systems. At Live Earth Tokyo a Sennheiser SKM 5200 RF handheld with Neumann KK 105-S capsule was used as well as a Sennheiser SKM 935. Most of the instrument mics used in Tokyo and Kyoto were Sennheiser e900 series products.
Sennheiser wireless personal monitors and microphones were also used at other Live Earth concerts elsewhere around the world in Australia, Johannesburg, South Africa and in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
For additional Live Design coverage of the Live Earth concerts, see XL Video UK At Live Earth London.