Posts

Happy Belated Birthday, Willie Williams!

I’m just now seeing this video – much to my chagrin – but HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY, WILLIE WILLIAMS!  You all know Willie as the show designer and LD for U2 for the last decades.  Willie’s work reaches far beyond U2 – he’s done art installations, architecture, video, theatre, and other lighting and production ventures and bands across the years.

From both of us here at JimOnLight.com, happy belated birthday, sir.

Check out Willie’s portfolio site – congratulations on the 360 Tour!

Bono’s Laser Jacket on the 360° Tour

waldemeyer laser bono

Hey Bono, quit shining your darned jacket into my eyes!

Ah, I kid.

Have you seen Bono’s laser jacket?  As if he wasn’t cool enough, Moritz Waldemeyer designed a jacket for the latest 360° Tour that has 240 lasers embedded in it.  Apparently they have been defocused for additional safety, because wouldn’t it suck to drop a kidney on U2 tickets and leave blind?

U2’s 360° Tour – Video

@aronaltmark on Twitter pointed this out to me – a fairly lengthy video of some of U2’s latest tour, the 360° Tour, which is in the round featuring a ginormous 360° video screen.  Very cool, check it out – it is 10 minutes, FYI.  Thanks, Aron!

Series 400 Makes U2’s 360 Tour Work

I just got an email from Kirsten at PRG about their Series 400 data and power distro system, which is being used on the massive mondoginormous U2 360° Tour.  Check it out!

prg u2 series 400

PRG’s Series 400 System Powers U2’s 360° Tour

New Windsor, NY—July 20, 2009—The unprecedented scale of U2’s 360° Tour required a power and data network that would handle long distances; be quick and efficient to install; provide high network speed; and be rock-solid. Systems Crew Chief Craig Hancock worked with Show Director/Designer Willie Williams from the early design phase of the production to engineer a network that would satisfy all of these requirements.

The backbone of Hancock’s network design is the PRG Series 400™ Power and Data Distribution System. Describing his approach to laying out the system, Hancock said, “I started working on the lighting system and layout of the power and data network about seven months ago with Willie and Jeremy Lloyd and Nick Evans of Mark Fisher’s Studio Fisher. I then worked with PRG, especially Chris Conti, to get where we are now. I knew what I wanted and how I wanted it and Chris made it into reality with Series 400.”

“The networking system for the U2 360° tour is daunting when you first look at it, but it is actually fairly simple, just on a very large scale,” noted Conti, PRG’s S400 Product Manager. “There is an S400 trunk cable run to the FOH control position, providing the power for the consoles as well as running the DMX from the consoles to the S400 system. Then fiber optic cable distributes the data around the system, a total of eight 350’ runs.” There are a total of 24 universes of DMX with custom dimmer carts at the bottom of each leg of the structure. There are a total of four carts up on the catwalk in the roof structure that handle the power and data for the lights in the roof as well as in the pylon (the central vertical element of the set). DMX is sent from the top of the pylon out to the seven satellite lighting positions that are in the seats around the top of the stadium.

Hancock, who had previously used the S400 system on Madonna’s Sticky and Sweet tour, knew the abilities of the system. “The great thing about having the PRG Node Plusses and the S400 Fiber Switches is that they all work in line with the Series 400 system; it allows so much flexibility. I can use external equipment like dimmer racks and other gear with no headaches at all.” Cue reaction time was also critical to Williams and Hancock. “With the sheer scale of the structure and having the satellite lighting positions around the stadium, we were very concerned about the network speed and the reaction time. The Series 400 system moves Art-Net around which allowed us to have no delays in cue reaction time,” Hancock said.

The final piece of the system was the inclusion of City Theatrical’s SHoW DMX wireless DMX explained Hancock, “When Chris came onboard in March it was invaluable because he brought in the SHoW DMX. I think that the wireless DMX solved a big issue and has worked well. I didn’t really see how we were going to run cabling through the crowd every night.” For Hancock the final network system has overall ease of use and is reliable. It is what he wanted, a power and data network that is the backbone of the lighting system for Williams’ sophisticated design.

For more information on PRG, please visit www.prg.com.

u2 360 prg

PRG’s Bad Boy Is Hitting the Road with U2

u2 bad boy prg

Willie Williams is going to be rocking a hundred and ninety six of PRG’s Bad Boy fixture!  I just got a press release from Anne over at PRG – check it out!

Media Contact:
Anne Johnston
845-567-5871
ajohnston@prg.com
PRG’s Bad Boy surrounds U2

New Windsor, NY—July 10, 2009—Immediately upon entering the venue, audiences attending U2’s 360° Tour will realize that they are about to experience a truly unique event. “The goal always for me is when the fans come into the stadium they see something the like of which they have never seen before,” explained Willie Williams, Show Designer & Director. Working closely with Architect Mark Fisher and Production Director Jake Berry, Williams has realized that goal and created a structure that is the largest ever designed for a concert tour. The sheer size of the set created a challenge, in that the fixture positions were a significant distance from the stage. So, Williams turned to the PRG Bad Boy™.

“The throw distances that we are dealing with are much longer then you would normally ever deal with for all the lighting positions, never mind the lights around the stadium,” said Williams. “Even the closest lights to the stage are an 80-foot throw and the ones on the legs are nearer a 100-foot throw. There is no way you could use old school moving lights, plus I needed a light that would not just reach and wash but would be able to have texture.”

In December, PRG arranged a fixture demonstration at Wembley Stadium so that Williams could evaluate the Bad Boy and other lights in a real world environment. “What I found interesting about the light is that PRG started with the application in their fixture design, which was to create a light for large scale shows, arenas, stadiums,” said Williams. “That has been their master stroke, to start with what the light is intended to do and really work towards that particular goal. When you are at the back of Wembley Stadium, you need a light with the gas to get to the stage.”

Williams decided to use the Bad Boy as his only automated light for illumination, with his final design calling for 196 fixtures. The Bad Boy easily handles distances from 80-feet to 400-feet. It was a bold choice to base an entire design around only the Bad Boy and Williams had to wait until the lighting system was powered up for the first time at the Barcelona rehearsal venue to know for certain that his idea would work. “Even when I got here, we still had a few days before the system was turned on where I was biding my time. I was a little antsy waiting to see what these things would do under show conditions. I think it is fair to say they are absolutely remarkable.”

Lighting Director Ethan Weber understood Williams’ initial concern. “There is nothing else—spot, wash lights—everything you do is with the Bad Boy and coming into rehearsals it was a light none of us had ever used before,” said Weber. “When we turned them on it was pretty obvious it was the right way to go. We have all been very impressed. Many of the fixtures are a few hundred feet from the stage and not only are they very bright but their zoom allow us to go from pinspotting the band to lighting a stadium audience with relatively few fixtures. I don’t know of any other light that can do this. So far they’ve been very reliable—impressive, considering we’ve had them on for long hours in the Barcelona sun.”

Williams’ lighting design is fairly straightforward, considering the complexity of the overall production design. While Weber handles all the automated fixtures, lighting associate Alex Murphy calls all the followspot cues for the 25 spots, and controls the LEDs in the set with the PRG Mbox™ Extreme Media Server. PRG’s Concert Touring group supplied the entire lighting package for the tour, which also included the PRG Series 400™ Power and Data Distribution System. The S400 combines power, DMX and Ethernet data through a single custom-designed trunk cable. The data system includes Ethernet switches with the ability to route any DMX universe to any DMX output connector in the system, along with complete electrical isolation. As a result, lighting systems can better accommodate the growing need for data and use less cable and technicians can re-route signals from the user menus without making physical changes to the system.

The power and data system for the U2 Tour was designed by System Crew Chief Craig Hancock, who worked closely with Jeremy Lloyd and Nick Evans of Fisher’s Stufish studio integrating the lighting system into the actual structural system. Chris Conti, PRG product manager, also worked closely with Hancock on the layout. Conti explained, “All together we have a total of 24 universes of DMX. We have S400 racks at the bottom of each leg of the structure, which are in custom dimmer carts that Craig designed. They also contain S400 main breaker racks, dimmer and relay racks, strobe distribution racks, communications, etc. There are two carts of S400 and two dimmer carts up on catwalks in the roof structure that handle the power and data for the pylon.”

That balance between complexity and simplicity is the key to Williams’ sophisticated designs success. To maintain that balance, everyone needed to be on the same page, working towards the same result. Tim Murch, PRG account executive, noted, “They really have brought together wonderfully qualified people, starting with the incredible Jake Berry and of course Willie and Mark. It is incredibly well organized; thanks in large part to them. It is a very heads up situation with coordination between every single department.”

Williams is very pleased with PRGs efforts on behalf of the tour. “At the end of the day it is about people and if you don’t have the right people it is just not going to happen,” he stated. “I am absolutely delighted. They have been really good. Both Tim Murch and Robin Wain (PRG account executive) have been fantastic. You can’t do this by second guessing; I just have to have complete faith that people are doing what they are supposed to be doing. You really have to trust.”

For more information on PRG, please visit www.prg.com.

u2 bad boy prg

“Lumia Domestica,” by Willie Williams

U2 lighting designer/director and rock and roll lighting legend Willie Williams has busted into the world of art lighting installations.  The show is closed at this point (December 12), but it occured at the gallery Wallspace, the art venue at All Hallows on the Wall in London.

The original article at TPI is a good read – my favorite quote about the exhibit, from Williams:

“This show serves two purposes,” he explained. “Firstly, it’s an end in itself because it’s an absolute joy to work on this scale with no brief and no client, just completely for myself. But also it really helps to realign the way I think about lighting.