The Chemical Brothers – a British electronica duo and pioneers of the big beat electronic dance genre - have been around since 1992 and have released seven studio albums, the most recent being ‘Further’ in 2010. For the band’s 2011 world tour, production designer Paul Normandale was responsible for the visuals.
He needed a cost effective LED light, something simple but bright, for the tour and Martin Professional’s tiny yet powerful MAC 101 LED moving head fitted the bill.
As part of Normandale’s uniquely creative design for the British electronic duo, he placed 56 of the small and versatile LED wash lights behind a transparent LED screen and then used them to project pixel mapped video effects through it.
Mounted in four rows of 14 fixtures each, the 101s are pixel-mapped to three songs and used for overall impact and general lighting purposes during other parts of the show. With latency between video and moving heads a major concern, the MAC 101s have had no problem keeping up with the video imagery, according to Normandale.
Weighing just 3.7 kg and surprisingly powerful for such a small fixture – it delivers up to 2,200 lumens - the MAC 101 is Martin’s fastest moving head, with a feature set that includes a calibrated RGB colour mixing system. Its small size is claimed to make it easy to fit in any rig or set, and also easy to handle.
Normandale’s lighting needs didn’t end there however. Rigged between the 101s for flashy blasts are Martin Atomic 3000 strobes, which are also mapped to coincide with the video.
Requiring a bright hard-edge light for big dramatic effects, he turned to Martin’s high-output MAC III Profile, which he has positioned on a rear moving truss and on the floor. For colourful wash effects Normandale uses Martin’s MAC 2000 Wash XB.
Providing “a lot of smoke” according to Normandale were two Jem ZR44 Hi-Mass foggers, Martin’s atmospheric fog generator capable of delivering 1,200 cubic meters of dense fog per minute. Sufficiently rugged and continuously operational with a large 9.5 liter fluid container, it is said to be able to operate for long periods without refilling.
Beyond the lighting, Normandale was looking for other visual effects with which to enhance the show. Traditional LED screens were, he felt, less than ideal because of the difficulty that much of the audience would have in seeing them.
“My job is to turn the band’s performance into a truly three-dimensional sho,” he said. “ I’d been sent a sample of G-LEC’s Solaris+ and it gave us the idea of creating a three dimensional lighting rig.”
Normandale rigged an 8m diameter truss from which he hung 48 x 8m lengths of G-LEC Solaris+ to form a circle around the band – making both the band and the lighting really stand out from the crowd. The 40mm diameter LED light ‘balls’ of Solaris+ provide 360° viewing, which means that the graphics are visible to the audience, no matter where they are seated. Beyond this, the product is light enough that Normandale is able to fly it in periodically throughout the show to surround the band.
“I’ve never used the product before, but when I was sent a sample by G-LEC’s Mark Ravenhill, I was intrigued,” continued Normandale. “It allowed us to do a lot of interesting effects which would otherwise be really difficult to achieve, such as bringing the light show forward and making it truly three dimensional. All the other products we looked at would have given us problems with deployment, including making them face the audience at full brightness. Solaris+ was light and robust enough to handle frequent moves.”
“We had custom visuals produced, running off a Catalyst media server, and had a week in production rehearsals where we were able to establish what type of images worked best,” added Normandale. “It gave us a chance to play with the video and adjust the content to use the product to its best advantage.”
The system consists of five 125kg motors which are built into the truss – and, says Normandale, the rig doesn’t come close to its load limit, thanks to the light weight of Solaris+.
“All the feedback we’ve received has been extremely positive,” Normandale concluded. “We’d definitely use it again. It was a unique solution, and I’m not sure what we’d have done otherwise. We would definitely have had difficulty achieving the same effect.”
“We worked with our distributor in the UK, AC Video, to get a test system to Paul during his design process so that he could be sure that it would fulfill his design requirements,” said Mark Ravenhill, director of Global Key Players. “It's great to see Solaris+ going onto its first ever world tour. Paul’s taken the flexibility of Solaris+ to a new level, showing just one of the many ways that it can be used.”