Solotech UK, a leader in AV and entertainment technology, is contributing to the widely publicised ABBA Voyage live music avatar event by providing audio, lighting, and video solutions.
ABBA Voyage brings the 70s supergroup back to the stage in a seamless blend of the virtual and physical worlds. Several years in the making, the show opened on May 26 in a purpose-built arena designed by Stufish Entertainment Architects at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London. Early reviews confirm that it is like nothing seen before, as it blurs the lines between computer-generated imagery (CGI) and reality, with The Guardian calling it a “jaw-dropping avatar act that’s destined to be copied”.
ABBA band members spent five weeks being filmed by 160 cameras for motion capture as they performed the songs – with body doubles stepping in for some of the more energetic sequences – that make up the show’s 95-minute runtime. This footage was then used to realise the band in extreme detail on 65-million-pixel LED displays, alongside a 10-piece live band, with 19-tile-high LEDs operating as ‘Jumbotrons’ either side of the ABBA avatars.
Solotech was chosen to help the production team realise the transformation from the video performance footage to the physical space due to its multi-disciplinary approach to live production gained from experience working on the world’s biggest festivals and concerts. The result is an unprecedented immersive venue environment that adds another dimension to the show via a unique workflow that breaks new ground by its use of technical innovation.
State-of-the-art equipment was chosen from leading manufacturers, including ROE, VYV, Robe, L-Acoustics and others to augment the filmed performance footage with technology used throughout the venue. The show features one of the largest installations of ROE Black Pearl v2 LED screens, standing 19 tiles high, driven by Brompton 4K Tessera SX40 LED processors. Solotech coordinated the supply of its Service+ real-time, managed services software platform.
Solotech drew on its experience as live production specialists and worked under the direction of director Baillie Walsh, working alongside Aniara’s technical producer Nick Levitt and technical director Joe Frisina; and collaborating with concert producers Svana Gisla and Ludvig Andersson, Industrial Light and Magic (ILM,) and TETRO and Greenwall’s Fredrik Stormby to provide audio, lighting, and video solutions capable of pushing the boundaries for live productions. Scott Willsallen from Auditoria supervised the audio elements of the show, with VYV Photon servers specified and programmed by Anthony “Bez” Bezencon.
Working in close collaboration with ABBA’s production team, Ian “Woody” Woodall, Solotech UK’s director of special projects, led the project, with Paul “Macca” McCauley overseeing the installation of the rental equipment in the venue, and serving as the host to technical demos of the system in the many months leading up to the show. Solotech’s Robin Conway oversaw audio, Oli James handled lighting and Alex Mulrenan managed video and cameras.
“This project has been special as we’ve spent two years of our lives working on it,” said Woodall. “It is the most technically complicated and challenging project I have ever been involved in. This is proven by the fact that everyone who has been there cannot find the words to describe it. The technical elements of the show have been virtually flawless from the rehearsals through to opening night on a show that is breaking new ground. These are accomplishments that we are extremely proud of.”