XL Video UK is supplying Maximo Park’s lighting and visuals for the band’s current UK and European tour, marking the third phase of a progressive video/lighting design process which commenced at the start of 2006.
Designer Stevie Marr works with a Barco MiTrix screen and Catalyst digital media server. For Marr, an enthusiastic exponent of video and lighting “convergence,” the MiTrix added a new edge and depth to the show, as well as providing surfaces for his 70 or so custom created video clips. These were all sorted on and played back through two layers of the Catalyst.
The account was handled for XL by Jo Beirne and Phil Mercer who comment, “Stevie always comes up with new and refreshing ideas, and it’s been great to see Maximo Park’s video design evolve. He knows what he wants and is great to work with on all levels.”
The MiTrix are arranged in seven rectangular columns of various shapes and dimensions across the stage, its gentle asymmetry suggesting an optical illusion of uniformity which isn’t quite what it seems.
Offering 602 x 192 pixels, the MiTrix was relatively high resolution for Marr, who used VersaTiles and then VersaTubes respectively on the previous two tours. The clips he designed and made for this leg of the tour are completely new, although with several stylistic links and references to the materials used before.
His initial brief from the band—who he keeps updated with visualisations as the content evolves—was to keep the look bold and blocky utilizing plenty of primary colors, in the vein of the industrial and angular oeuvre of Russian constructivist art.
Marr’s collocation of clips were primarily non-narrative, with a couple of notable exceptions, including “Our Velocity,” which sees the screens come alive with sequences of rapidly jumping and flickering numbers.
He also used the occasional clip that has persisted throughout the entire tour—in this case an oscillating graphic EQ effect, which also graced the Tubes and the Tiles of the previous shows, activated during the high energy song “Limassol.” That content takes on a totally different ambience when displayed on the MiTrix.
Operating both lighting and video via a RoadHog console supplied by lighting contractors Lite Alterative, Marr is impressed with the speed and response time of the MiTrix. At times he flashes between different clips just as if he was operating lighting fixtures. “The response is instantaneous,” he states. Marr maximizes this functionality during the spikey guitar riffs in the song “Girls Who Play Guitars,” adding that MiTrix is “The best surface I have seen yet for playing back graphics and material timed exactly to the music.”
He adds that the service he’s received from XL Video has been “Excellent as always.” XL also supplied Al Wright as video tech, while Lite Alternative supplied Donny MacDonald, both working with Marr to get the show on each day.
Lighting-wise, Marr kept the rig low, intimate, and in close physical proximity to the video elements and the performance area, enmeshing the two mediums physically as well as metaphorically.
The tour resumes in European arenas in December.