Lighting designer Dan Hardiman used over 80 square metres of Chroma-Q® Color Web 125 LED panels to provide the core element of his show design for the recent sold-out UB40 UK Arena tour.
Dan and his company, THC Design, began their long association with UB40 at the band’s 21st Anniversary show in their hometown of Birmingham, and have since gone on to design the show elements for the band’s last four successive international tours.
Arguably the number one reggae act of all time in terms of record sales (over 55 million), chart positions and touring schedule over their three-decade long career, UB40 embarked on a tour to promote their EP ‘Dub Sessions’ and the imminent release of their 27th album, ’24/7′.
The central point of Dan’s design was a series of moving trusses providing the rig lighting positions, which he also wanted to make a scenic feature of, so decided this could be an interesting application for a video truss border.
Dan chose the Chroma-Q® Color Web 125 LED display system after being impressed by its modular and lightweight design, and the band approved after seeing the results of his rendered fly throughs showing the panels mapped pixel for pixel. The web was supplied by XL Video.
The Color Web panels were attached to a series of five moving trusses ranging from approximately 3.5m to 15m in length, an 18m wide front truss and a 15m wide handrail running across the back of the raised stage area. These video elements were positioned in a variety of configurations to form parts of a bigger overall screen, or to disappear completely.
For the first part of the show, the trusses were trimmed virtually flat and only the truss Color Web was used, with video patterns mirroring the cyc work of the lighting. For the second part the entire rig was then evenly raked from the handrail to the front truss to form one large LED video screen using all the Color Web. Finally, to highlight particular hit songs such as ‘Cherry O Baby’ and ‘Red Red Wine’, just the five raked trusses were additionally raked in the x-plane for only one song at a time, to provide a twisted look.
The Color Web was mainly used for video textures, with Dan choosing content during rehearsals, when he could preview what worked best due to the nature of the different screen configurations. Content was chosen from a mixture of THC Design’s own stock footage and media used to provide video elements on previous UB40 tours. Visuals included a great billowing USA flag used during a song about political prisoners, the Red, Gold and Green colours of the Reggae flag, a modified still image from the artwork of one of the band’s biggest singles, a starfield, and a filmed mirror ball. All content was provided via a PRG M-Box Extreme media server.
The full video/lighting rig consisted of 82 Chroma-Q Color Web 125 125mm pixel pitch LED panels, 30 Vari-Lite VL-3000 spots, eight Vari-Lite VL3500 washes, 25 Martin Mac-2000 washes, ten 8-Light Molefays and four Lycian M2 truss spots.
Summarising his experience with the Color Web, Dan commented: “I originally planned far more looks for the show, but the rig looked so great with the Color Web all as one big raked screen, that we lowered the front truss trim to maximise this and used this look for the majority of the show. I’m very happy with the product’s performance, it worked 100% of the time, and am really looking forward to using it again, as this application has given me lots of ideas for the future.“