XL Video UK is supplying cameras, PPU, LED surfaces, media servers and projection for Pink on the latest European leg of her hi-energy "Funhouse" world tour, which firmly establishes her as one of the most spectacular live music performers of the moment.
With a set designed by Mark Fisher and show direction / lighting by Baz Halpin, the show is action packed with visual extravaganza from start to finish. Video was always going to be an integral design component, for which they wanted the contrast of both high and low resolution surfaces.
Upstage a central section of 7mm F-LED flanked by two Barco MiTrix panels are masked by a scenic interface congruous with the overall edgy, off-kilter, carnivalesque ambience of the set and show. This creates an approximately 40 ft wide by 15ft deep 6 part surface.
The light weight and high resolution pitch of the F-LED make it an ideal choice, this is the first show worldwide that the 7mm has been used on. The MiTrix sections are built as 6 x 4 panel frames, specially modified by XL Video to suit the shape of the fascia, complete with a custom cable management system devised to minimise the run distances.
The quintessentially quirky live mix is cut by Richy Parkin, primarily sent to 4 side screens, but also appearing across the on stage LED at strategic moments.
The account is project managed for XL by Jo Beirne and Phil Mercer, who comment, “It was a very brave decision by Baz Halpin and production manager Richard Young to specify a brand new screen without even seeing the 7mm beforehand, particularly with a schedule as rigorous as this one – not only does it look right for the show, it's also been bombproof!”
Playback content was created by Halpin and Olivier Goulet from Canadian company Geodezik. It runs for about 85 per cent of the show and is all programmed into a Catalyst media server running on 4 layers and triggered by lighting director Trent O'Connor's Martin Maxxys control console. It is treated and masked to fit the 6 different shaped screens via the Catalyst.
Ahead of the tour starting, Larne Poland joined Halpin and Goulet as video consultant, and together all worked on developing camera treatments for the show. These are very precise and designed specifically to reinforce the style and mood of the Funhouse narrative - an intelligently trippy journey into the unexpected and unconventional. Pink herself was also very involved in all creative elements of the show which wraps around her energetic performance.
In addition to the onstage screen, XL is supplying 4 side screens. The two downstage ones measure 16 x 12 ft each and are flown at about 60ft high on their own trusses to cover the upper tiers of the arenas. The other 2 are flown side stage at 90 degrees to it, covering the ends of the 270 degree format. Each is fed with a Barco R12+ projector.
The cameras are 5 of XL's Sony D50s. Two hand-helds are onstage and the stage left side of the pit, with one on track-and-dolly also in the pit, on the stage right side of the thrust - both hand-helds are with wide angle lenses. Stationed at FOH is the fourth camera, complete with long lens, and the last one is a hot head clamped to trussing above the B stage, which covers all Pink's movements up and down the thrust and at the back of the stage. This gets some spectacular shots and adds a unique and totally different spatial dimension to the camera mix.
The camera treatments are all achieved using numerous inbuilt effects on Parkin's Kayak 2.5 ME mixer, the feeds from which are then output to screen via the Catalyst.
Black and white is used at certain points, specifically during "Sober", flipping to colour - representing a burst of reality - when Pink starts a daring acrobatic trapeze routine - after which the video reverts back to a dirty, flickering vintage image.
The mixer is programmed to do an overall film "field drop" look with a subtle flicker to de-clean the images and introduce a slightly gritty cinematic - and fun - look to match the imaginative oeuvre of the show.
Other individual songs have their own special IMAG look and feel too. Engineer John Steele ensures that the cameras are calibrated to compensate for this, and to enhance the set and flamboyant costumes, rather than delivering clinical technical shots.
It's a very busy show all round for the XL crew - on cameras as well as for Parkin creating the mix. The tight choreography means there are numerous cues that have to be spot on, and keeping up with Pink who isn't still for longer than a few seconds at a time, is probably the biggest challenge. "Every show tests me and keeps me totally on my toes - it's an extremely invigorating and satisfying way to work," he comments.
The hugely successful Funhouse phenomenon next visits Australia for a record-breaking 15 weeks, then back to the US for a month before returning to the UK and Europe in October, running right up till Christmas.
In Australia, video kit will be supplied by a combination of XL Video UK and their local Sydney-based partner company, TDC.