XL Video UK is again supplying all touring video equipment to Production North for Westlife’s sold out Love arena tour, with live video directed by Billy Robinson.
XL Video has worked with Westlife since their first Coast to Coast tour back in 2001. They have always used video elements inventively, and this one is no exception.
XL account handler Phil Mercer comments, "It's good to see the band going to another completely new and highly imaginative dimension of video for this tour."
With a central high resolution Barco S-Lite LED screen midstage (8 x 8 tiles in surface area), show designer Peter Barnes specified three 45º angled strips of XL’s new Barco MiTrix ‘invisible’ low res LED screen per side, mounted on custom frames built by XL Video Belgium.
These are criss-crossed horizontally by three banners of half-populated Barco O-Lite, checkerboard style, rigged at different heights underneath six upstage lighting trusses.
XL is also supplying two side screens, which are front projected onto by a pair of truss-mounted Barco R12+ machines each side.
Barnes worked closely with Production North’s Steve Levitt and choreographer Priscilla Samuels on the set and the entire show presentation. The end result is a pacey, seamlessly choreographed, and highly entertaining performance.
The MiTrix and the O-Lite screens are all driven by custom video content made by Barnes and stored a dual output Catalyst V4 digital media server supplied by XL. This is and run from lighting director Dave Lee’s WholeHog 2 lighting desk.
Special playback material has been produced by Helene Spencer and The Field, and is stored on a Doremi hard drive, and woven into the mix by Robinson along with the live IMAG footage, primarily on to the center and side screens.
The playback footage corresponds to specific songs, some of which have to be lip-synched, and these are manually cued by chief engineer Stuart Merser. This is a tricky procedure to get right as all live shows vary slightly in tempo and pace from night to night—such is the organic nature of live performance. “The trick is to listen very carefully and press ‘Go’ at exactly the right time,” explains Merser.
Billy Robinson has the challenge of cutting the IMAG mix from four FOH cameras, two with 55cm lenses and two with 70mms. This can be limiting in terms of the style and angle of shots available, and requires some careful avoidance of camera feedback, but this doesn't detract from his production of a dynamic and interesting mix. IMAG is sent to the center and side screens.
Robinson mixes on one of XL’s 2ME Kayak switchers, one ME feeds the center screens and other the sides, allowing the simultaneous output of different mixes to different screens.
Robinson also receives a feed from the Catalyst that is routed to the MiTrix and O-Lite screens.
Once the show is running, the contrast between the different video surfaces and materials is stunning. There's never a dull or a repeated moment. Sometimes the MiTrix is used as giant single-color lighting strip effect, and at other points it features undulating waves of textures and patterns.