United Visual Artists (UVA) has used 240 Chroma-Q™ Color Blocks to provide a hemispherical, curving LED screen of high-impact lighting and video effects for Massive Attack’s Collected 2006 international tour. The Color Blocks were bought by Blackburn-based rental company HSL, main lighting contractors for the tour.

The group, who are currently touring Europe to promote their tenth anniversary “Best Of” compilation, recently returned to the UK to play high profile headline slots at the Wireless Festival 2006 in London and Leeds.

For this third successive tour collaboration with the band and lighting designer Vince Foster, UVA wanted to create an entirely new, more organic and audio responsive show for their onstage visuals, while still retaining the essence of the last two tours.

UVA had discussed the idea of surrounding the group with LEDs capable of displaying images and text, but which also doubled as a full lighting rig. After getting permission from singer Robert Del Naja to develop the concept, the team then went through many different designs before settling on a hemispherical, curving screen.

UVA’s Chris Bird commented: “The Color Blocks were a perfect product to achieve the screen design as their short batten length was ideal for creating the hemispherical shaped curve and their brightness was incredible for their size. On top of this, we were pleased to see a nice tight beam from the unit, but still retaining a useful viewing angle.”

As a result, UVA specified 240 Color Blocks for the LED screen, which are being supplied by HSL along with all the other lighting kit. UVA also commissioned LiteStructures to create a bespoke stand support for the fixtures, taking into consideration all possible viewing angles and beam directions before they were satisfied with the curved screen. LiteStructures’ rehearsal facilities were used to construct the support and test the screen, which consists of 24 evenly spaced supports each containing 10 Color Blocks.

The show is run from UVA’s bespoke software, Dragonfly 3, on custom built PCs in a dual rack mount system. The Color Blocks are DMX controlled via a USB trigger and six channels of live audio from the band, inputted via a firewire sound card.

Songs are sequenced visually to the music, with all cues triggered live as the band plays. Joel Gethin Lewis, UVA’s interactive designer, uses a combination of their click track and his own judgement. UVA also created many audio responsive layers which, coupled with come creative audio routing, allows the band to ‘play’ the visuals live.

All visual content was chosen in collaboration process between singer Robert Del Naja and UVA, and was created specifically for the show. Most of the songs feature a blend of UVA’s video effects and Vince Foster’s lighting, but for certain songs one of the two elements comes to the fore. For example, “Unfinished Sympathy” uses only conventional lighting, whereas “False Flags” is dominated by video content.

Examples of video content include scrolling text statistics for “Safe From Harm,” organic, warm patterns for “Teardrop,” blue and white point-sources for “Inertia Creeps,” and bold audio-driven looks for “Karmacoma.”

The lighting rig, which was supplied by HSL, consists of 14 x Robe ColorWash 1200 AT E, 2 x ColorSpot 1200 AT E with a conventional rig of 24 x James Thomas Floorcans fitted with Chroma-Q™ color changers. The lighting rig is managed on tour by Rohan Harrison (LD) and Jonathan Williams.