Robe LĪVE at The Sun Arena

Photo: Sean Brand

Two concerts organised by AMP Events at the newly-opened, 10,000-capacity Sun Arena in the South African capital Pretoria were chosen to record a live DVD for American rock-band LĪVE.

The DVD shoot was designed and lit by LĪVE’s LD, Synapse Design partner Graham Hicks, using nearly 100 Robe fixtures which were part of the house rig. These were looked after by a team from one of the leading SA production companies, MGG, who provide the venue’s in-house technical services. The 2 sold-out arena shows were part of the band’s Reunion World Tour.

The South African shows used a custom, one-off design. Hicks explained: “The whole production design, from initial lighting and video plots to final content selection, is something we worked on with the band through the summer. They were great about laying out the elements that were important to them, and the way they wanted the show to feel, both on stage and in the crowd. That gave me a great launching point to draw the show around how the lighting and video need to play together to create that end result.”

The final design used a variety of Robe fixtures. There were 24 Robe Spiiders distributed across the whole rig and 12 Robe BMFL Spots were the primary hard-edged fixtures, providing texture to the camera shots. Another 12 Robe BMFL WashBeams were split evenly between the mid stage and upstage trusses, providing a mix of tight beam effects and added camera wash. The floor package included 5 Robe BMFL Blades, placed upstage of the band for a combination of saturated back-lit wash looks, and hard-edged gobo shots in conjunction with the Robe BMFL Spots, as well as 12 Robe LEDForce PARs which were side-lighting the band from the wings. There were also 24 Robe LEDBeam 100s rigged close together in a long row on the upstage truss, to create a wall of narrow beams behind the band.

For illuminated set pieces, Hicks utilised 18 large-format 2000 Watt fresnels, with the rig completed with 6 blinders on the downstage truss and a dozen Atomic strobes scattered throughout the rig. Audience lighting for the wider camera shots was provided by 16 moving spot fixtures mounted on a pair of trusses flown above the crowd.

Hicks added: “It’s a huge asset to have spots, washes and beams that can all play together in a web of narrow, irised-in beams 1 minute, and then everything zooms out wide to give a deep, saturated wash the next. It’s great to be able to bring the whole rig into looks like that, instead of just leaving each look to rely on the one or two fixture types that can pull it off!”

As the band’s 1st concert DVD in a decade, the show presented a few creative challenges. Hicks noted: “It’s definitely a different experience taking a show like this to camera. The band wants a dark, moody show, so the challenge is to make that camera-friendly without changing the way it feels on stage – if it’s suddenly a lot brighter than they’re used to, that can be an unwelcome distraction, so we’re trying to build the best camera shots possible, without turning a live show into a movie set.”

The band were adamant that they “[didn’t] want to play in front of one big TV,” so the video was split across 4 large, 3.9mm-pitch LED surfaces, with separate visual feeds sent to each part of the set for some songs, and a single visual feed across the whole canvas for others. A pair of MA Lighting grandMA2 consoles drove the lighting and the video content stored on a pair of custom-built Synapse Spark media servers running Resolume Arena. Hicks balanced lighting and on-stage video levels from the MA2s at front of house, while coordinating closely with the team in the video trailer over comms.

The 9-camera shoot, and the worldwide pay-per-view special, were directed by Eban Olivier of Militia Broadcast. Advance support for the show extended from South Africa to North America. Graham concluded: “I had to program this show on days off from another tour, and our Christie Lites rep Mike Johnston was great about helping me set up a pre-viz suite in whatever Christie shop I was near at the time, even with the final DVD shoot happening 5000 miles from any of their locations!”