XL Video supplied video projection, cameras, PPU, and an orchestra monitoring system for Liverpool The Musical, the completely sold out official launch show of the City’s new 10,000 seat Echo Arena Liverpool.

This was the second major event of a weekend kick-starting Liverpool 08’, the city’s year as the European Capital of Culture, and followed hot on the heels of an open air People’s Opening Ceremony on Friday night.

XL Video’s project manager was Malcolm Mellows. XL Video’s busy UK office was brought aboard the Liverpool The Musical technical team by production manager Nick Handford to provide playback facilities and a live IMAG camera mix directed by John Shrimpton.

This was beamed onto a 17 meter (55 feet) high, 29 meter (95 feet) wide scrim covering an upstage scaffolding structure that housed the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Vasily Petrenko, in a seven-layer formation. Petrenko was stationed on a scissor lift on the stage immediately in front of the scrim. A total of eighty 8.5” LCD monitors were supplied and distributed by XL Video, one for each orchestra member, showing the conductor and enabling the musicians to play in time.

Liverpool The Musical is a two-hour long performance crafted into an innovative music and visuals show, starring some of Liverpool’s finest talent and popular artists like Ringo Starr, Pete Wylie, The Farm, Garry Christian, Echo & The Bunnymen, Shack, etc. The show was produced by Jon Drape.

Nigel Jamieson and Jayne Casey served as creative directors, and were also responsible for The People’s Opening. It was Dan Potra’s industrially-orientated production design that included the massive scaffolding structure. The structure was covered in a tight semi-translucent gauze to form the projection surface, supplied by Tildanet. It completely hid the orchestra when running in full projection mode, while allowing them to be subtly or blatantly revealed through silhouetting and other lighting magic fashioned by LD Andy Liddle.

To cover the surface with projections, XL Video supplied three overlaid Christie 20K machines rigged in front of the stage on their own truss.

The playback material was co-ordinated by Phil Halpin of locally based Mocca working closely with another Liverpool company, Sparkle Media. The original material was reformatted as necessary onsite and programmed onto XL Video’s two HD Doremi hard drives. The final elements were edited into the show at 5.30pm on the day of; such was the fluid nature of the production.

The playback fused a narrative storyline and historical detail relating to the city with more imaginative/expressive graphics and abstract animations. Archive material was sourced from various resources in and around Liverpool and original footage was specially commissioned and filmed.

Shrimpton cut the live camera mix from three operated cameras, two at FOH and one in the pit, plus one remote mini-cam for Petrenko. Petrenko’s image was beamed to the mini plasmas in each of the orchestra compartments on the scaffolding wall behind the gauze and clipping neatly onto the sides of the music stands.

The mixer switcher was a GV Kayak, Shrimpton’s console of choice. The IMAG images he picked and output were extremely clean, and some were very subtly affected before being diligently dovetailed with the playback footage that ran for most of the show.

XL Video also supplied full technical and stage management monitoring/CCTV throughout backstage, three large plasma screens for the VIP area and two Barco Solaris 40 inch plasmas as front-of-stage monitoring for the choir. The technical feeds were routed via a separate matrix to the main console.

Shrimpton says, “It’s always a challenge working in a new space, and it was a privilege to help launch this Arena and work on this very special event. We had to do plenty of thinking on our feet as the show was evolving continually through the rehearsal period, and I think the results were stunning.”

XL Video’s crew consisted of Matt Vassallo (engineer), Mark Hughes (projectionist), Luke Levitt, Andy Warwick, and Hugo Leven (cameras), Carl Martin, who looked after all plasmas including the orchestra system and John Wynne, who also plasma tech’d and crew chiefed.

The orchestra structure and stage was built by Star Events Group. Star Rigging (also the house riggers) did the rigging. Stage One supplied the plant and hydraulics, Wigwam provided audio equipment (sound designed by Geoff Muir), and Hawthorne Theatrical did the lighting.