MSE: One of the things that really strikes me is that you have to avoid cable and racks being scattered all over, especially considering the size and the distances.
CH: That goes back to one of the things that Willie wanted; everything was to be as clean as possible. We have been through a lot of variations from the early drawings. Something Willie wanted to get away from was clutter. Previous tours, it looked like a marketplace in Camelot, with all of these tents over the dimmer and power areas scattered around. You pay your money for a show, and it looks like you are walking into a medieval market! All of the trusses up the legs are internally cabled. It is not complicated in actual layout. I set it up that the trusses in the legs of the structure are all identical—in DMX patch. They have been cabled exactly the same; it’s just repetitive. To be as clean as possible, we started out with all of the racks in the roof structure itself as well as the pylon; just take the mains power and control up to the roof. Needless to say, through weight issues, we ended up coming back down to the floor. We currently have four dimmer positions in the roof—what we call the octagon, which is the surround above the video screen. That handles the pylon, the Bad Boys that are hung inside the video screen, and the BigLites on the roof. The straight trusses and on down the legs are handled by carts at the bottom of each leg. The dimmer carts are as low as possible for sightlines. It is dictated by the size of the Series 400 rack as to its height, but they don’t affect sightlines. Since there is nowhere to go when it rains, we designed in rain covers for all of the dimmer carts. We have eight 400A supplies, one at the base of each leg and then four in the roof structure. Effectively it is four little touring systems and one large phallic object in the middle.
MSE: Blaine Dracup, one of your moving light technicians mentioned that “the pylon in the center was like taking an arena’s worth of lighting equipment, shoved in a submarine and that is stood on end.”
CH: It is very, very tight inside the pylon because it is so busy with gear. On the upstage side of the pylon is a straight run of dimmer racks. We told Willie back in January that if one of the lights broke at the top of the pylon, there wasn’t anything that we could do short of getting out a 300’ rope and a handful of people. He is fine and knows the reality of it. One hasn’t broken yet, so I don’t quite know how it will be. Jeremy [Lloyd of Stufish] designed the rain covers for the Bad Boys on the pylon, which have done a perfect job. He is very clever; it all lifts up as one piece. It has an integrated cover and hanging mechanism all in one unit. Brilliant Stages, who built the pylon, built the cover and mounting mechanism.
MSE: You are using a lot of PRG Bad Boys, for the first time, what do you think of them?
CH: The Bad Boys have been great. We have 196 and that is it. Willie chose them after his demo with them last December. He is not afraid to try new technology on a tour. He has never been shy. I think that they are amazingly bright. If you are going to do something on this scale, where everything is big, they fit the picture. From a future point of view, a front truss with six of them is probably all you would ever need. There is nothing else on the market that is going to compete with them at the moment. Plus, they are absolutely fine to deal with in terms of hanging and maintenance.
MSE: What would you say are the real challenges of this show?
CH: The challenging is the sheer scale of it—getting that amount of equipment up into the different areas. It is a bit of a walking challenge if nothing else. Day to day on the tour, it is a lot of people moving stuff around a stadium, a lot of carrying gear up stairs for the satellite lighting positions. One of the things that we felt was going to be a challenge went away: Originally, all of the legs were supposed to be solid with cladding all around them, so you were in a tunnel, effectively. I didn’t think cabling that would be fun. The BigLites going on the roof was a headache of its own, but it turned out to be not being so bad. Each of the eight lights has to go up with a crane. We had envisioned having to stand on the roof in the wind and rain trying to catch a BigLite at the end of a crane and put it into position. Of all of the things that we thought were going to be really painful, those turned out to be okay.
Stay tuned for the final installment of this discussion, only at http://livedesignonline.com/u2360tour/.