Willie Williams wore multiple hats for Darren Hayes' recent Time Machine tour, doing all the visual design aspects except the costumes (maybe next time) and directing. For the video images, he took a novel approach: "In the end I used double-stacked Barco FLM HD18 hi-def projectors. I had wanted to use Panis, but the practicalities of touring theatres with them defeated me in the end. To compensate, we had a rule for the projection material which was that we weren't allowed to show anything which couldn't theoretically have been done using slide projectors. Consequently there were no moving images, just a series of monumental stills, even though they would sometimes dissolve from one to the next at quite a rate," he explains.
"I was very pleased with the outcome. We are just overloaded with video at present and this approach gave us a result which felt much more akin to photography than to "visuals" per se. I made most of the content with my regular team from "onedotzero industries," Luke Halls and Damian Hale. Darren's partner Richard Cullen is a film maker, so he also contributed to the photography," Williams adds.
"The show was very disciplined and had distinct "acts" visually and emotionally. Act I used the bulk of the projection. Act I was a bit of an assault and very intense, so in Act II we let the audience relax and essentially turned into a pop show for 15 minutes. Darren played some hits and I had fun with Bruce Ramus programming some really pop lighting looks, revolving gobos and all. I'd never normally go near this kind of look, but in this context it was the perfect 'sorbet' between Acts I and III.
"Act III was a plunge into the emotional abyss, very dark, ending with use of two laser heads. The moving bridge adopts several positions throughout the show (pushed by the lighting crew!) and at this point ends up thrust out over the audience. Darren sits on the very end in a tiny pool of light, with the lasers working around him. These laser units are remarkable - they are compact DMX controlled units built into a moving yoke, about the size of a Mac 2K, but with a 5W high power laser inside. They're called Stage Blitz, by Laser Systems Europe in Belgium —trust the Belgians!"
Williams notes that Act IV is the 'redemption' where it all comes good, sybolised by the reveal and unfolding of the giant origami bird, with Darren on top of it. "This followed by a couple of hits and a very uptempo rave encore and we're done!," he says. The entire back wall of the set was a large projection screen, with all front-projected images, due to the concealed origami bird in the center portion: read more about the bird's design in the December issue of Live Design.
Selected model shots: