'See it to believe it'
Monday, 15th June 2009
Barcelona. Production build.
It was a big day today. We saw completion of the video screen and witnessed properly for the first time its ability to open up. It is the most incredible piece of technological engineering in that it is an elliptical, saddle-shaped cylinder that possesses the ability to break apart, stretch open in three dimensions and ultimately become an extended open-lattice cone shape, extending from the high grid of the steel structure down to floor level. You'll have to see it to believe it but when you do, it may remind you of one of those spiky plastic 'Hoberman' sphere toys, which expands most improbably into a big open-lattice ball.
The resemblance is far from coincidental, given that it was designed by Chuck Hoberman the inventor of said sphere, in partnership with Frederic Opsomer who is our LED genius and was the brains behind the PopMart screen, Vertigo video curtains, and so on. This latest creation is just jaw-dropping - even those of us who were expecting it couldn't quite believe our eyes, so it should get a pretty good response from the audience.
As if this wasn't enough, the two bridges also went into place today. These form the link between the main stage and the outer runway so the band can cross between the two performance areas. In the scheme of things the bridges don't appear to be that big, but they are over 16m (50-odd feet) long and are craned in as one piece. The sight of all this happening simultaneously was bewildering. Every where you looked there were these extraordinary things being constructed, any one of which would have been enough to form the centrepiece of a normal rock show production.
When darkness fell and everyone left us alone, myself, Ethan and Alex (my lighting programmer/operators) set about some more lighting programming. We had a first pass at 'City of Blinding Lights' which involves stretching the screen out, which was fun. Also had a go at 'Streets' which I am delighted to report will be going back to it's classic red-light and strobes intro, after shunning this in favour of all that rolling flag business on the last tour.
The way I tend to work is to rough in the lighting looks first time around, then gradually finesse them over the coming days, as time allows. This is partly to make sure we have our arses covered in the event of running out of time (or unforeseen circumstances, like being shut down by the police) and partly because of my limited attention span. Broad strokes first, detail later.