Lighting programmer Richard "Nook" Schoenfeld worked on the Queen Extravaganza Tribute Tour, as part of the creative team with LD Rob Sinclair and board op Ron Shilling. He shares his experience on the project with Live Design:
“Ron Schilling was the crew chief and board op. Rob Sinclair prefers a Jands Vista on his shows, but there is a shortage of operators in this country and Ron did not know how to use this desk. He is familiar with the grandMA series and can run one, but is not the fastest programmer and he had other duties to keep the light rig in tip top shape. So Rob brought me in to help write some looks on a console that the director could edit cues on once I was gone.
Rob is involved with many acts and is constantly juggling his time schedule to accommodate everyone. So He needed a programmer where he could say, this is a red song. Write some cues. When I was done, he would pick the song apart and change a few things, but he pretty much left me alone at the start.
This tour was different than all others. Queen liked the idea of only having one color up on stage at a time. They were never big on mixing gels. In the words of Roger Taylor, Queen's drummer, "My only regret was that in the old days we couldn't just turn everything red."
So Rob stuck to his guns and we used one color per song. Though we used some white bumps from pars and moles to cut through it all. Rob was brilliant in that he had spec'd about 10 different kinds of light fixtures up there. So by turning on one type in a deep blue and another in cyan, we still got beamage, texture and intensity bumps, but stayed true to his one hue formula.
The show chronicled the career of Queen and Rob's idea was that the music would simulate the growth of the lighting industry during the span of Queen's career. In the beginning. Queen played clubs with 12 pars and a shortage of front light. So the show started that way. Rob had two towers with a splattering of pars about 12' off the stage to simulate the 70's London club.
Slowly he added in some floor lites and moles. His choice of using the Mac Auras was great as they truly simulated the Par can, something Queen used hundreds of nightly. So we wrote songs with just floor lites for the beginning as well. By the late 70's they had invented the strobe. So about seven songs into the two hour set, the strobes showed up. By the 80s Queen were using VL1's with their pars so by the end of the first set, we were just about ready to start moving the actual lights.
For the second set, Rob had the crew push the truss towers of pars off to the side and a kabuki system dropped a rag to reveal three video screens upstage. They were separated by some upright trusses with more lights on them, and pretty soon the whole stage appeared massive with its video and lighting system bringing in the new era.
Rob Sinclair is a Catalyst guru. He certainly showed me a plethora of tricks. Once the band came in for straight run-throughs, Rob was busy between constant editing of video looks and playing politician with original Band members and management. When he was done with video, we would tweak the original lighting looks to match it.”