by Cat Strom.
Photo Credits: Output Tours & Events
Stunning lighting and visuals co-designed by Matt Downs of SWS, IKONIX, and Colourblind’s David Fairless for dance event
Output Tours & Events are an Australia-wide touring and event company that are simply lovers of all dance music, aiming to provide a show that’s unique for both the artists and their fans. They are also the very first company to implement 3D visuals on stage during their larger scale Trance shows.
In October they launched edition 001 of Output at the Festival Hall in Melbourne, featuring extended sets from Aly & Fila, Jordan Suckley, Richard Durand B2B Mark Sherry, and James Dymond. The incredible lighting and visuals were a co-design between Matt Downs of SWS, IKONIX and David Fairless from Colourblind.
“A lot of back end work went into the project,” explained Matt Downs. “Bringing together the perfect team, careful planning and exceptional execution led to some great results.With only a limited amount of access time in the venue, the show was loaded in, produced and loaded out all in under 19 hours, which is a great credit to all the guys involved.”
The event needed to fit into Melbourne’s Festival Hall, which is not that spacious, so much of the design was based around projection, giving IKONIX the opportunity to put their Holo-Gauze to the test.
Holo-Gauze is an ultra-lightweight and innovative projection gauze that enables 3D hologram effects. “As we had ultimate design control, we designed what would work 100% for us and look amazing, whilst showcasing the artists and the music,” said Richard Saunders from IKONIX.
“Due to rigging restraints in the venue for front projection and getting the desired throw, everything in the lighting design had to be pushed a lot further upstage to compensate.”
The IKONIX guys worked closely with Matt Downs and David Fairless to ensure that the lighting worked cohesively with the illusion of the Holo-Gauze. Close attention was paid to ensure that the lighting helped create the illusion of the Holo-Gauze; the more lighting upstage works best, whilst too much front lighting ruins the holographic illusion.
However the real star of the show was the integration using Notch as a standalone engine. As far as anyone on the production team knew, this was the first time anywhere in the world that a show like this has run solely off Notch.
Usually Notch is used as a plugin / after effect with d3 and Ai for effects on IMAG on big shows. This meant that the whole show was generative content using Notch. IKONIX developed a system that took in audio feeds and could generate live visuals to the music. There was no pre-rendered content at all.
“The only thing that was predefined was the scale of the Holo-Gauze,” commented Zachary Burton of IKONIX. “So each look had a base and then it was totally dynamic in terms of speed, rotation, colours, flashing lights on the content.
“We had 150 base “Blocks” of content to choose from. We also developed a touchscreen interface that allowed us to choose and manipulate different pieces of content.”
The system comprised of two 4k inputs into a BARCO s3 and this allowed the running of an A & B system and also allowed control of the blend. Via a dual DVI Fibre transmission, HD signal was sent to two BARCO UDX32K laser projectors giving an almost 4k image on the Holo-Gauze.
“The Notch Block is essentially its own executable,” explained Zachary. “We just
execute on the server on the computer itself and then once it launches, all the parameters within the Notch Block are exposed; audio reactivity, colour, speed etc. All the Blocks were custom built to a 4k canvas.”
“Obviously the projection influenced the lighting design heavily,” commented David Fairless.“We pushed out the majority of the lighting rig into the wings to avoid diffusing the projection or washing out the Holo-Gauze screen. The mystery of how we were producing such state of the art looks was paramount to the show.”
After rigorous planning with IKONIX, together they developed many of the looks and moments of the show. Having a prior knowledge of the Holo-Gauze content and the progressing themes of the performance was essential in producing the look of the show.
Working together at FOH connected everyone that was involved, they rolled out looks and let each element flex at certain times. David’s motto when designing any show is ‘Strength in Unity’ and with Output 001 he went hard with this idea.
“With SWS supplying the rig we had three pods of eight Claypaky Sharpys framing the stage giving me numerous looks and programming options, which was the highlight feature of the lighting design,” he said.
“Their quick and precise movement to new positions and rapid gobo drops made the styles I was going for possible.”
Symmetrical movements and mirrored intensity effects made the design powerful and gave another dynamic to the show. Through intensive programming leading up to the event, and an arsenal of equipment throughout the stage and wings, David had an endless supply of ever-changing designs. The outer wings consisted of GLP GT1 profiles for big sweeping crowd shots, gobo break ups, as well as highlighting the more intricate parts of the music with exceptional colour mixing. David also utilised the pin spot iris and zoom control.
“For this show I used the GLP JDC-1s in their new aggressive mode feature in the wings, and that gave a very bright, solid wash feature that could turn to a high powered strobe at the click of a button,” added David.
“The tilting action on the JDC-1 was perfect for build ups and drops over the crowd with a pixel controllable centre strobe line as well as rear LED bricks gave me multiple effects to pull out over the night.”
To help with the illusion of the Holo-Gauze, it was important to illuminate the artists in ways that helped create depth on the stage. David used the new Ayrton Mistral S spot fixture to do this. These were positioned far into the wings, hidden out of sight, to shoot across the stage at the artists and David says that they blew his mind with how much punch and versatility they delivered.
“The 17,500 lumen output proved to be so powerful and bright, there was no doubt the crowd could easily see the artists,” he added. “A stand out in the design was having the first Minuit Unes in the country; SWS with TLC showcased four IVL Carrés along with the first outing of RTI Neo6 RGB Laser BARs (supplied by both SWS and IKONIX).
“This brought a whole new energy to the stage. The advanced lighting shapes and interchangeable textures and features made for an unlimited amount of looks. They also had a 180º angle that created stunning displays from anywhere in the room.
“We even threw in some of the SWS multi-burst lasers to fill in the gaps. With all 62 of these laser effects/heads on the show being DMX controlled from the lighting desk, meant we had full unity within the entire show.”
The creative team wanted to add depth to the stage that didn’t project light onto the Holo-Gauze, opting to use LED strips which were also used on the wings to tie in the overall look. Casey Loraine from LED Solutions ran the LED control and design.
Overall there were 84 x 1.2m Pixel Bars used, with each bar being 72 Pixels and all being mapped and controlled via a Madrix 5 Dongle. Matt Downs from SWS created the control set up for the show running ELC Smart switches and Nodes over fibre to front of house. An MA2 Fullsize was run with an NPU for parameters and aSCAN over network.