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- Il Divo - Wicked Game Tour
XL Video supplied curved LED screens and special customised touring frames, video playback control, cameras/PPU, an IMAG projection system and crew for Brit Award winning Il Divo’s highly successful “Wicked Game” world tour.
The elegant production design encompassing the three curved over-stage screens was the concept of Il Divo’s artistic director, Brian Burke.
This followed on from an initial curved screen idea showcased at the group’s high profile one-off shows at London’s Coliseum Theatre last year – with XL also supplying video production. Central to the concept was that the screens should appear to be ‘floating’ in the air – with minimal or no rigging visible - a task with which XL Video was then challenged to recreate in a tourable format by tour director and production manager, Andy Proudfoot.
XL’s project manager Paul “Macca” McCauley explains, “The main objective was to replicate the curved aesthetic making it as quick to rig and as easily portable as possible – and we are extremely pleased with the results”.
The three screens - upstage left / right and downstage – were made up from a total of 280 modules of Pixled F-11 LED surface, mounted in 55 of XL’s 2x2 touring frames which were specially modified to create the curvature.
Two of the screens – upstage left and downstage – each comprise two staggered surface sections one below the other, which required a further customisation to the standard touring frames.
Macca adds that although it was a relatively straightforward set up in terms of video, the challenges lay in manufacturing the curved screens.
For the two upstage concave screens, the end cheeks of the XL touring frames were replaced to allow the side locks and guides (that act to keep the screen aligned and rigid in normal operation) to be aligned properly on the desired radius of the screen. This helped reduce the amount of movement and flexing the screen would have when moving on the Kinesys motors.
For the front convex screen, all four sides of the frame were exchanged for specially tailored versions to make up the required curve angle.
The screens moved up and down on a Kinesys automation system supplied by lighting contractors HSL. XL had rolled metal pipes fabricated to the same radius as HSL’s Kinesys trusses – which also happened to match the radius of the stage design and layout. These were attached along the tops of the touring frames.
The touring frames were then quickly and efficiently rigged to the Kinesys trussing via half-couplers. The lower sections of the upstage left and downstage screens were connected by 5 mm steel wire ropes and rigging screws, secured up to the touring frame above. This allowed for adjustment, as the aim was to get the gap equal to the panel height of an F-11 tile.
The upstage right screen - the largest surface area of the three, made up from 160 Pixled F-11 tiles - was stepped out every two tiles by two tiles to make its unique shape, and these stepped sections were also supported by steels running through the touring frames above.
As a finishing touch, XL had lightweight black masking drapes manufactured which attached neatly and precisely to the back of the touring frames with Velcro, cutting out any transparency or ambient light leaking through from the rear.
The screen content was commissioned by Brian Burke and was formatted exactly to fit the screens. It consisted primarily of scenic and ambient footage that added a dramatic visual texturing to the show.
The screen moves were smooth and seamless – many happening in the blackouts which complimented the pace and vibe of the performance, which was focused on the rich vocal harmonies.
XL Video provided Il Divo with a turnkey Catalyst media server that was used for playback. This was a perfect control solution for the world tour, as the content could be easily taken to anywhere and mapped to the screens provided, which on some legs was locally supplied rather than as part of a full touring production.
XL also supplied four Sony DF50 cameras - positioned two at FOH and two on track-and-dolly in the pit - and a Kayak mixer / switcher and PPU for the European tour for video director Stuart Merser to cut the IMAG mix. This was beamed onto two 20 x 11 ft side screens, fed by two doubled up pairs of Barco 20K HD projectors.
A camera for the conductor, fed to 3 downstage 24”LCD Monitors, was also part of the XL package and vital to the performance, giving Il Divo a clear view of the conductor at all times.