Singer / songwriter, multi-platinum entertainer and RCA Records Nashville recording artist Chris Young kicked off the North American leg of his “Raised on Country” world tour 2019 in May, playing to over 300,000 fans through the summer. The fall leg of the tour has just started and runs until November 23rd at Lexington, Kentucky’s Rupp Arena.
Integral to the stage design – created by production designer Chris Lisle – is a 30-axis Kinesys automation system being used to move six lighting pods and four video screens which are essential visual elements of the show, together with the general lighting and video. Production manager (and lighting director on the road) is Michael Stanley.
Chris Lisle explains that from the initial meetings with Young and his management, they knew that they wanted some motion in the show to offer a variety of looks. He then started drawing and experimenting with exactly which production elements would move, and how, when and where to make these happen.
Moving the lighting pods produces fresh new angles and distances from which to throw light onto the stage, while the the look of the pods in motion also adds a great visual dynamic to the show.
In charge of operating the automation for the tour is Christian Hindley, a freelance operator, programmer and creative designer who was hired by Atlanta Rigging Systems (ARS), the production’s automation and rigging vendor. The company has made substantial investments in Kinesys in recent years, adding to their already extensive Kinesys inventory
The system comprises eighteen x half-ton vari-speed Kinesys hoists (running on Elevation 1+ drives) which move the lighting pods, plus four x 1-ton vari-speed hoists and eight x ½-ton vari-speed hoists which are used for moving the video walls.
Three Kinesys Array PD-ES control racks and an Array 485 controller complete the system, together with Kinesys Vector control software.
The pods are each picked up on three motors while the outside video screens are picked up on two motors and the centre screen is on four motors. All these elements move into different positions changing the architecture of the space as well as adding shifts in mood as the set unfolds.
The six 8 ft. square by 2 ft. deep lighting pods, are loaded with Chauvet Maverick MK Pyxis moving lights, and these travel up and down as well as pitching and tilting.
The four video walls each measure 16.5 ft by 19 ft and are made up from 7.8 mm pitch LED product. These move to a series of different height positions adding great dimension and perspective to the stage.
Two x 1-ton hoists each move the two outer video walls, with two 1/2-ton hoists per point utilized on the two inner screens which are double-reeved for faster and highly accurate vertical lifting during the entrance sequence. This setup also provides redundancy for a show critical element.
Chris Lisle had already drawn out all the positions he envisioned for the pods and screens in advance and labelled each look with a different reference name. “At production rehearsals, we gave Christian time to program these, and then fine-tuned and tweaked to get them just right.” He commented.
One of Christian’s favorite moves is a wave shape used toward the end of the 90-minute set when Chris Young plays the song “Aw Naw”. He also likes the very final look which he’s named ‘5element’ due to its spacey vibe!
This tour is only the second time that Christian has used a Kinesys system – his first was on a Daryl Hall & John Oates tour earlier in the year.
He loves the power, simplicity and logicality of the system.
Christian highlights the fact that Kinesys control makes it fast and straightforward to edit cues and adjust to different trim heights and stage spaces which is essential when touring a show.
“The ability to change things quickly is brilliant. That might sound obvious, but I have used a lot of different automation systems … and sometimes it’s a challenge!”
He thinks overall it is a “workhorse system that’s been robustly designed and built for ease of use and the practicalities of touring” … which is one of the many reasons, along with reliability, that Kinesys has become a market leading stage automation brand.
Christian is enjoying working on the road with Chris Young’s “fantastic” crew and team.