Professional Lighting & Production - Winter 2022 - Page 19

noting that his role was “ creating the technical solution for , and providing input as to how the visuals – the screens and the cameras – work together ” with all the elements in play .
Barton describes Es Devlin ’ s incredible , large-scale set design as critical to their work on lighting and video . A concept , he explains , “ that allowed us to take the arc of the idea of Dante ’ s Inferno , which was where the original concept for the set design came from , and going through the different stages of hell .”
The centrepiece of that is a physical city set constructed by Tait Towers . Over the course of the show , though always present on stage , it is revealed in different states , going from a “ beautiful , magical ” setting , as Barton puts it , to something right out of the apocalypse . “ The lighting and visuals , along with special effects , of course , are important to telling that story because the set physically doesn ’ t change , but the perception of it does ,” Barton notes . The question facing the team was , he adds : “ How do we make that appear to be so many different things — highlight it or put in shadow the things we want to show , and the things we want to reveal , and the things we want to hide ?”
In 2015 , his first time working with The Weeknd , Baeri programmed the show for then-LD LeRoy Bennett , before taking on the lighting design role for what was meant to be The Weeknd ’ s 2020 tour . The pandemic put the boots to those shows , and as a result , everyone involved in the tour had to readjust and rethink when the world reopened .
“ A lot of that [ 2020 ] tour design they wound up using for the Super Bowl , so we moved on from that idea and put another tour together for 2021 , after the Super Bowl .” The shift from arenas to stadiums prompted the team to modify the design again , conceptualizing various iterations before landing on what would become the design for this tour .
The end result is as complex and impressive as it is ambitious – a substantial upgrade in terms of scope . “ They were going to be big shows ,” Baeri says of the previous iteration , an arena show that took up the whole floor of the arena . “ But we turned that into an even larger tour using the full floor of a stadium , where none of the room is unused .”
STAGING Designed by Es Devlin , the show required extensive scenic work . According to the Tait Towers site , it involved “ 17 custom-carved , hard-coated , and painted scale buildings for the main stage with integrated scenically-treated lighting , laser , and pyro fixtures .” In addition to painting the set to reflect the dystopian nature of the setting , the buildings were also coated in fire retardant paint to
withstand the pyro ’ s heat . The set is placed on a 98 x 38-ft . main stage in front of a massive , roughly 10,000-sq . - ft . LED video wall comprised of 12-mm SACO S12s provided by Solotech .
“ The idea was for that to be like an opera backdrop ,” Barton says . “ The city set is in front of it , but the wall is an extension of the physical set .” So , as the physical set transforms during the show , the content on the LED wall changes , reflecting and deepening the perspective of an impending apocalypse .
Next , a rectangular thrust off the main stage opens onto a runway , which Barton refers to as The Fire Stage , and , from there , to another platform , The Circle Stage ( which is placed centrally in the stadium ’ s floor area ). From there , there ’ s a runway that – depending on the venue – unfolds to three different lengths , like an accordion . That runway , in turn , leads to The Mountain Stage , above which hangs a giant , 30-ft . -wide inflatable moon .
“ The main stage doesn ’ t have a video floor ,” Barton says , “ but the ‘ Fire ’ stage has an LED video tile runway with monitor shelves placed on the offstage edges featuring flame bars / flame FX down both sides .” The LED-lit theme continues on the 30-ft . -diameter Circle stage , which is comprised of 1x1-metre LED decks . Next , there ’ s the accordion-style runway , featuring a similar LED floor – that splits the stadium floor and links to the final ‘ Mountain ’ stage , a diamond-shaped 6x6-metre , two-level stage with LED integration and a lighting surround . As a case study on Tait Towers ’ site explains , the stage configuration required field seating that “ partially faces the runway rather than the main stage , giving the show an inthe-round vibe .”
The content on the floor is “ typically less detailed ,” Barton adds . “ There ’ s tremendous detail on the upstage LED wall , whereas the floor lighting helps the visual story along in a way that ’ s a little more organic .”
The main LED wall is used for aesthetics , not IMAG . For that , additional screens are deployed , Barton continues . “ All of the IMAG is on those . They ’ re in a portrait aspect ratio , vertical – two left and right off the main stage wall pointing out what you can ’ t see from FOH . Then , at FOH , there are four delay towers and on two of them , left and right , are two more screens for the people furthest away .”
Given the sheer area that required coverage , we can ’ t get into a complete accounting of the lighting fixtures and their placement with Baeri . Instead , I ask him to take me through some of the VIP elements .
“ There are three main groups of fixtures ,” he explains , “ with [ around 300 ] Elation Proteus Hybrids being the rig ’ s main workhorses and extending from the main stage all the way down the runways . They ’ re definitely a rock and roll stadium fixture ,” he says . Instead of offering reams of unnecessary features that would just diminish the output , he continues , “ They ’ re meant to be used in unsubtle ways , to stand out in a stadium setting against hundreds of other components . They ’ re cannons that shoot 300-400 feet , even in colour .”
“ Next , overhead on the stage , are roughly 100 ACME Thunderbolt strobes . They were a beautiful mistake . When we were doing a shootout , we accidentally got sent one of those . It ’ s another one of those fixtures that ’ s perfect for stadiums . It ’ s also natively IP and three times brighter than the next strobe in its class . ACME is like the little engine that could . It ’ s a company that ’ s gone to great lengths to be taken seriously . Every time I ’ ve worked with their gear , they ’ ve lived up to that , and the Thunderbolt embodies that well . They hit it out of the park with that one .”
Finally , there are approximately 400 Elation Proteus Excalibur fixtures – a choice born of the same idea as the hybrids . “ Something that would cut through space and call out the shape and the length of the runway , imprint that into the heavens and punch a hole in the sky ,” Baeri says . For his purposes , “ It ’ s another
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