XL video UK supplied a PixLED screen, cameras, PPU and crew to the 2009 Cliff Richard & The Shadows UK and European tour which has just finished.
Video and lighting was designed by LD Derek Jones. The idea of the screen emerged when Jones decided that it would be more dynamic and expedient on truck space to replace potentially chunky scenery pieces with a multi-functional scenic/IMAG backdrop in the form of a screen.
This enabled them to run abstract and ambient effects as well as show IMAG, adopting a completely new style of presentation for a Cliff & The Shadows tour. The Shadows are the UK's most successful instrumental and vocal group, and Cliff Richard holds the record (with Elvis Presley) as the only act to make the UK singles charts over 6 decades - from the 1950s to the noughties.
Jones was particularly keen to have IMAG concentrated centre stage rather than on the traditional two side screen set up as - given Cliff and the Shadows' generally older demographic and their requirement for a clear view of the onstage action - side screens were also felt to distract attention away from the central focus of the stage.
They were specifically looking for a lightweight solution when production manager Roger Searle approached XL Video project manager Chris Saunders who arranged a demo for Jones to see XL's PixLED F11 screen. This fulfilled all his criteria - high resolution and lightweight, so he spec'd a 13.5 metre wide by 4.5 metre high surface. It is the first time that Jones has worked with XL Video on tour, but he was "Very impressed with the quality of the kit and the level of service".
XL Video also recommended Ray Shaw as video director - he and Jones had never worked together before, but they immediately hit it off. As the two of them had to share the same screen most of the time throughout the performance, this was a pretty essential requirement!
Playback material was compiled by Jones from a variety of sources - royalty free online archives, the Catalyst's onboard library and some that he created himself from scratch. All this was stored in the latest spec'd Catalyst - with the Active Silicon Phoenix graphics cards - and output to screen via his Jands Vista lighting console. The idea was that there was always a texturing element on the screen, with different and constantly changing camera images overlaid.
The camera feeds were also all routed into the Catalyst to be shaped and output to screen as a mixture of 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratio images, depending on how much of the screen was being used for that specific shot. They had 3 camera main areas on the screen to cover the individual images of the 3 principles, and the whole area could also be used for one large combined image.
Shaw had 5 cameras at his disposal - 3 operated Sony HXC100s - 2 in the pit on track-and-dolly and one at FOH - plus 2 lipstick cams on the drums, and cut his mix on a GV Kayak mixer.
A scratchy grainy black&white film effect generated from DVD was used for the Shadows hailing a touch of classic camera grading dating back to the 1950s, when they started their long and illustrious recording careers.
Jones and Shaw worked very closely in rehearsals to ensure all the screen images worked together in a seamless mix, and developed a fluid and eye-catching creative chemistry, in the process creating a visual environment that was both fun and vibrant.
On the lighting side, Jones ensured that everyone was consistently well lit for the cameras, which made the engineering elements extremely easy - and another advantage of lighting and video working so harmoniously. Six Source Four profiles on the front truss were used to light the band, with the 3 principles highlighted by colour corrected follow-spots.
XL's Chris Saunders concludes, "It's been a great experience for both crew and me to be involved in such an iconic tour. All I have heard is praise for the tour from my crew, linked with a near faultless run, who could ask for more!"