London-based production company LarMac LIVE (LML) were brought in to production manage and co-ordinate all technical aspects of the 2011 UK Sonisphere Festival.
It was the first time that LarMac LIVE has worked on a Sonisphere event. The UK is one of 12 such events worldwide, making it the largest touring festival, and LML’s Ian Greenway took up the production management reins, assisted by Anthony Norris. LML was working for Stuart Galbraith from Sonisphere’s promoters Kilimanjaro Live.
LML were responsible for overseeing all the technical production departments and requirements site-wide, which featured four main stages and a sold out capacity of 60,000.
The main technical suppliers for Stages 1 and 2 – PRG for lighting and Britannia Row for sound – are both also companies with whom LML works regularly.
The Star Events group was contracted to build the four main stages plus all the other production staging infrastructures like FOH towers, follow spot platforms and so on. Pete The Greek (PTG Productions) was the event’s production rigger. Rich Gorrod and Gordon Torrington from PRG designed lighting for the show, (and Torrington was crew boss on site) for Stages 1 and 2. The Britannia Row team was led by Dan Orchard (in the office) and John Gibbon (on site). Blink TV co-ordinated and directed the video operations, with XL Video supplying cameras and screens.
LML brought in rental company STS from Manchester to supply combined lighting, rigging and sound packages for stages 3 and 4, which were both inside tented structures.
Ian Greenway comments that they have found this to be a much more expedient way of dealing with the production requirements of tented and enclosed stages. “Using one production supplier to supply full circle production in these tents is a much more efficient way to advance and deliver a show,” he said, “with simplified conversations, less trucking, streamlined technical cover – all of which helps us to deliver the wider event.”
The two main stages – Apollo and Saturn – were positioned facing each other and programmed not to overlap, so effectively were running in ‘flip-flop’ style. This had three advantages – crowd management, ensuring that the audience had the option of seeing all the artists and in terms of noise containment, meant that only one area was operating at once.
Changeovers were programmed to be between 60 and 100 minutes, which made the pace more relaxed, creating a pleasant working environment with enough space and time for everything to be run smoothly.
Part of LML’s brief was to manage all the environmental noise parameters, for which they worked closely with specialists Vanguardia. For an area critically weather-dependent, throughout the three days, they experienced a full gamut of meteorological extremities – sun, wind, rain, radical temperature shifts – and everything in between. Their three-off site monitoring points had to be at a steady 65dB, while the onsite level was hitting 105dB, a challenge that was met with great efficiency.
The stage configuration helped massively with this. Britannia Row was intricately involved with the design of their systems for both stages, which were an L-Acoustics K1 on Stage 1 and an Outline Butterfly on Stage 2.
Another area that maximised time and busy production schedules was the overnight lighting changeovers. The festival lighting design was evolved after discussions with the three main headliners, and designed so that no lights or guest fixtures needed installing in the roof over the weekend, apart from a truss reconfigured to facilitate a chandelier set piece for Biffy Clyro.
LML used Sonisphere regulars Mike Grove to work as stage manager on Stage 1, while Stage 2 was managed by Chalkii White, stage 3 by Steve McCalmont and Stage 4, (sponsored by Red Bull) by Russell Duce, and they oversaw approximately 120 site and production technical crew for the duration of the event.