Media specialists Blink TV have created the exciting high-energy video footage that represents the visual core of Westlife’s current “Unbreakable” world tour.
Blink’s production team, headed by Marcus Viner, worked closely with “Unbreakable” show producers Will Baker and Alan Macdonald. The show – Westlife’s most adventurous and rock ‘n’ roll styled to date – is split into five distinct sections, all based on different concepts of ‘heroes’ from Lichtenstein to Las Vegas, from pop heroes to action superheroes.
Video plays an integral role in three of the five sections. For the other two, the five on-stage LED screens plus the two side projection screens are used for the IMAG, directed by Gary Tepper – evoking a spellbinding, wide-screen backdrop to the show.
Baker and Macdonald collaborated with the show’s production director Steve Levitt of Production North and lighting designer Peter Barnes before the tour. The latter two evolved the physical look of set and stage, architecturally defined by five large moving LED screens, and the Baker/Macdonald partnership developed it from there. Having made extensive use of video in previous tours, the band themselves also wanted significant input as far as the content was concerned.
Baker and Macdonald approached Viner with a clear idea of the visuals they had in mind. The trio had previously worked on the 2002’s award-wining Kylie “Fever” tour and, more recently, on the Rambert Dance Company’s “21”, so there are very strong lines of communications already in place which is a huge asset when working under such severe time pressure.
Blink utilised the skills of their in-house animation specialist Lydia Baker, who created the action-packed Las Vegas moving montage of neon’s, flickering lights, spinning roulette wheels, dices, shuffling cards and manic street sequences. Justin Keery, a newcomer to the Blink team, was brought in to produce a series of colourful fantasy-like cityscapes and space-scapes, whilst Bob Dixon, a regular Blink freelancer, made the incredible Pop Art collage of Lichtenstein and Warhol style images for “I Get Around” and “Do You Love Me” in the third section. The theme here is pop heroes, and is one of the most show-stopping optical effects of the set.
During the final stages of post-production, the team brought in Barry Williams of Videostream in Upminster, Essex, who assembled the clips before they were programmed onto Profile hard drives by video scientist Richard Turner. Viner emphasised the importance of this stage, commenting: “Producing the content is only a part of it; you still have to configure it to work with the screens which can be a very complex operation. Richard’s a dream to work with during this process because he understands the requirements of all parties and just gets it done.”
The team started work on the project in February and produced it all in an intense three week period prior to another three weeks of production rehearsals in Doncaster. The video hardware, including screens, cameras and control for the tour is all supplied by the UK’s leading live video specialists, XL Video.
Despite having worked with Blink TV many times, it’s the first time production director Steve Levitt from Production North has commissioned Blink to produce all of the show footage… and he seems well impressed!
Lighting contractors for the tour are Bandit UK (on tour lighting director is Baz Halpin) and sound is Wigwam (FOH engineer Ray Furze, monitors John “Grubby” Callis).