XL Video supplied a 20m x 4.8m landscape curved Soft-LED backdrop and Catalyst digital media server control system for Irish comedian Dara O’Briain’s DVD shoot at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London for Open Mike Productions. XL also provided a complementary and attractive background.

Series Producer Alex Hardcastle specifically wanted a simple screen effect with abstract effect and colors. He wanted about eight or 10 different color states that could slowly morph throughout the show, matching his cues for the two acts and encore.

“Open Mike specifically wanted controllable, changing color states with different intensities across the screen, as opposed to solid colors,” explains XL’s Al Green.

Another reason for using SoftLED was to create a modern take on the retro ‘multi lightbulb’ backdrop effect which has become iconic to classic comedy TV recordings in the past.

XL also supplied Simon Pugsley to program and operate the Catalyst using a Hog PC system, and SoftLED technician Icarus Wilson-Wright. “Open Mike wanted a classical but flexible comedy/cabaret-style look, and the Soft-LED/Catalyst was an ideal and versatile way of producing it,” says Pugsley.

Everything was rigged the same day for rehearsals in the afternoon and the recorded show that evening, so the SoftLED’s easy rigging capabilities were a great advantage. It took them approximately two hours to attach and line up the cloth sections to a series of wooden scenic supports, which formed a gentle curve around the back of the stage. Then it was 10 minutes to plug up and about two hours programming time, resulting in a versatile set of completely unique content and looks for the show.

Al Green states, “A combination of Open Mike’s understanding of how SoftLed/Catalyst works on camera in theatre, XL’s pilot content – rendered in Final Cut Pro from video footage of wind-blown silk - and source material from the Catalyst’s onboard library created the elusive result we sought. It was well-conceived video designed to be subtle, complementary and abstract”.