XL Video finished the year supplying live video production to a host of diverse projects including David Gray’s tour, which culminated with three sold-out nights at London’s Earls Court.
The live video element of Gray’s show was directed by Phil Woodhead. For the tour, he utilised four cameras – two in the pit on track & dolly, one hand-held onstage with a wide angle lens, and one FOH with a 70mm lens. The IMAG mix was produced by Woodhead via a GVG 1200 digital control system, including a Magic DVE video effects projector. It was beamed onto two 16 x 12 ft side screens, fed by Barco ELM projectors mounted on the side trusses.
For complete contrast, the IMAG footage was run entirely in black and white. The aesthetic impact was stunning, specially when juxtaposed with the colour pre-recorded footage running on the upstage centre screen, and combined with Cormack Jackson’s vibrant lightshow.
Woodhead – one of the UK’s most innovative live video directors – wove a show storyline through the dynamics of the live images. He wanted to imbibe the performance with the massive, mixed-media feel that characterised the 1920’s and 1930’s ‘extravaganza’ productions.
Working with his hand-picked team of camera operators, Woodhead called the shots in conventional fashion, but in his usual style, also actively encouraged everyone to use their artistic and cerebral instincts in spotting and going for shots “They can often see things form a totally different perspective being right there stage or close up to an artist” he explains. Working this way also adds an extra frission of spontaneity to the show. He dropped a field out of the black and white mix to give it a more filmic and ‘real’ appearance.
The show’s centre screen featured a 16 x 9 ratio soft-edge image, sized approximately 30 ft wide by 17 ft deep, fed by 3 Barco ELMs on the front truss. This featured pre-recorded footage created by video artist Sean Ash, who has produced Gray’s show video content for previous tours. The pre-recorded material was controlled by a Grass Valley Profile machine, triggered via Dataton software.
For the three Earls Court shows, XL Video’s Des Fallon was approached by David Gray’s management to supply XL’s OB truck plus all other equipment and personnel needed for recording all three shows.
Working closely with Woodhead, XL added six Sony BVP950 cameras and crew to the touring system, which were also directed by Woodhead. Gray’s performances were recorded onto 10 digi Beta decks, using the OB truck’s Sony 72/50 mixer plus another Magic DVE downstream. They split both colour and black and white signals for the Earls Court recording, so Woodhead was mixing both live and recorded elements simultaneously. Filming over three nights, enabled them to swap camera positions and reduce the number of units needed for the overall recording.