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30/08/2011

The Suburbs Tours With XL Video

A leading name in the film sector, XL Video has continued the worldwide supply of production video equipment and crew to multi award winning Canadian indie rockers, Arcade Fire, for the final UK and European festival leg of their acclaimed tour.
This follows the massive success of their third album, The Suburbs, which topped the charts in many territories on release including the UK and US, and is shortlisted for the high profile 2011 Polaris Music Prize.
The tour originally kicked off last year in the US, project managed for XL by Phil Mercer out of the LA office. In the UK and Europe, it is being managed by Jo Beirne.
Richie Stembridge is the visuals designer and video director. The actual stage screen design is collaboration between him and LD Susanne Sasic, who also created the set concept.
Onstage, the main screen is constructed from 49 panels of Pixled F15, which for all the indoor shows is covered by a custom silver spandex skin, which diffuses the image and gives the quality and appearance of a projected movie screen surface.
Above that is their "Marquee" screen, made up from 96 tiles of Pixled F11 built in to 16 of XL's custom touring frames, which facilitate extremely quick rigging and de-rigging. This screen is bordered by strips of individual incandescent light bulbs evoking a classic movie marquee feel.
Around Europe, where they have played some of the more offbeat and unusual festivals, often featuring smaller stages, having a light, highly transportable and very easily rig-able system has been a "Huge benefit" said Stembridge.
His design incorporates eight Sony BRC 300 robo cams which are dotted around, six onstage with wide angle lenses and two at FOH with tele lenses. There are also five static 'lipstick' cameras positioned around the drum kits and on the keyboard riser.
All 12 camera inputs are fed into two high spec'd Catalyst media servers, with everything running in composite allowing Stembridge to send 12 video inputs into each Catalyst. With 24 layers of control on each server, he can have a layer for each camera at any time plus a layer for playback content - giving him a hugely flexible system to mix the show live each night in his own very unique style, tightly cued in some places but with a genuinely organic and spontaneous feel.
The Catalysts are triggered from a Hog PC and run live on 2 playback wings, so he has a fader for each camera.
All the playback content was produced by Stembridge, who has now worked with Arcade Fire for four years. Some ideas and suggestions come from the band, but he is also given plenty of creative freedom to suggest and experiment with this, which is a stimulating creative atmosphere in which to work.
Much of the new footage for this section of the tour he filmed on a flip HD camera, which is perfectly suited to the slightly dirty, grainy and dramatic nature of the images onscreen.
Some of the current content has been developed from that of last year's tour, and this is combined with new footage specially made, edited and modified to fit the new screen layout. The mix is roughly half cameras/IMAG and half playback, following the aura of surreality and teasing out the complex threads to some of the songs in abstract ways, which is simultaneously cerebral and beautiful.
Stembridge has worked with XL Video on many previous projects and commented: "As always, XL is an excellent supplier. The service is brilliant, the crew are great and we are looked after really well - nothing is too much trouble. It's really also good to have the continuity on a properly international operation when touring the US and Europe."
(BMcC/CD)
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