“Basically what we’ve got here is a massive TV screen,” says Andy Tonks, video crew chief from Chaos Visual Productions on the current Muse production doing the rounds of European stadiums this summer. He is definitely not wrong: made up of WinVision 12mm, there are a total of 1092 active tiles, each one measuring 56cm x 56cm. That makes a total screen surface of 450 sq metres. A very big TV screen indeed.
Flown off 25 x 2 ton motors, the panoramic screen surface is split into five units and rigged across the rear of the stage, upstage of the drum riser which is itself clad in active tiles.
As Tonks says a lot of thought has gone into making the logistics of rigging a screen of this size manageable in a touring environment: “Where we can the points are pre-rigged or in some cases we load in the whole screen system the night before the rest of the production. When broken down, the interlocking panels fit into 30 large dollies and I would reckon that each screen takes about 2 hours to hang. Having the screen split into 5 distinct sections makes the logistics of load-in and load-out more user friendly. These tiles are totally waterproof which has proved a godsend at most of our UK shows – the British weather has often been our biggest challenge.”
Chaos Visuals are not alone on this tour as Tonks explains, “Chaos Visuals are working in partnership with XL Video on this part of Muse’s ‘The Unsustainable’ world tour but, to be honest, you wouldn’t really know who is working for who, the whole video crew works together seamlessly. With a production of this size and complexity, it’s vital that everyone works as a team. At the end of the day it’s not about which bit of gear belongs to who – it’s about making it all happen for the show.”
Along with the chimney canons, various inflatables and not forgetting the robot, the set, screen and lighting rig is the brainchild of designer Oli Metcalfe. The band’s conceptualisation is very much worked around the video content of the show. The IMAG feeds come from a total of 12 cameras which is mixed into the pre-recorded content; Metcalfe has designed a system that provides the perfect platform, not only for the band’s actual performance but for the extensive visuals that underpin their music. It truly creates a continual visual feast for the audience without diverting from the audio experience of Muse themselves. This is not just a show; it is an experience for the senses.