Top country band Brooks & Dunn have purchased a High End Systems Catalyst v3 Media Server to add high-tech visual effects to their "Red Dirt Road" tour, that kicked off on February 12, 2004 in the U.S. LD Larry Boster is out on the road with the show.

The Catalyst v3 Media Server combines lighting with digital media and allows the content to be manipulated in endless ways. "I'm excited about using the Catalyst system," Boster says. "I know it will be a major tool for me. It's a whole different avenue of creativity."

High End Systems' Mike Hanson worked with the duo at Ronnie Dunn's high-tech barn, where they played with Catalyst and digital images prior to production rehearsals. Joining in were video director Chris Keating (U2, Rod Stewart, Kylie Minogue) and B&D veteran video engineer Mike Bischof, both of whom are on the tour.

Programming in the barn. Photo by Mike Hanson/High End Systems

Hanson demonstrated the new features of Catalyst v3 software, such as the ability to create four layers of content and combine them into virtual scenery; dissolve and crossfade between all four layers; access up to 64,000 digital files; use masking functions for video, and more.

The "Red Dirt Road" set, designed by Brooks & Dunn and Mike Swinford, features two video screens that measure 12.5 feet by 16 feet. Set to resemble highway billboards, the screens are slanted and tilted at different angles to give a roadside appearance. The one Catalyst system splits the output to the two screens. Control is on a Wholehog II console.

Boster explains how the show will be enhanced with the Catalyst projection onto the "billboards." "We overlay some existing video with color effects, and also overlay on top of the live feed. For example, on the song 'You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone,' we put in a tribute to some musical greats who have passed away, such as June and Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and others. We overlay their photos with clouds in a crossfade from a live feed. On the song 'Red Dirt Road,' we use lots of images of highway signs. We imported some of our own digital images, and I've designed some gobo patterns as well that I'm excited about using. Catalyst also splits an image, sizes it, rotates it -- it's limitless."

The tour runs through Sept. 11 in North America. The lighting contractor is Bandit Lites.