Extract from an interview with DPL Lighting hire's technical Director Pete Watt's from Total Production International (TPI) magazine's - interview by Zoe Mutter.
Read about DPL Production's work with Professor Green. Call us now for a quote of your lighting project on 01268 73 22 99 or contact us
LONG FADES AND SILHOUETTES
As Technical Director of the tour’s lighting vendor DPL, Lighting Designer / Director, Pete Watts’ wealth of experience was indispensible when choosing the fixtures that would bring his concepts to life. “Trigger asked me if I would be the LD for the last tour, which I did on my own with just a small floor package. We’re now touring full production so the design has grown substantially from the last tour and now I have my Chief Tech, Mike Smith, and Dimmer Tech, Andrew Laidlaw, on board,” said Watts.
“As an artist, Professor Green likes floor-based lights; he’s not one for massive flown rigs. This rig was specifically designed so we could put it into as many of the venues as possible including the Ireland dates at the beginning of the tour. The only venue we didn’t get the whole rig in was Leicester Academy because of the height.“
Watts started the designs for the show in late February before showing his concepts to Trigger and Professor Green. The LD then carried out pre-programming using CAST’s wysiwyg software ahead of rehearsals and with the band at Music Bank. “Wysiwyg is worth its weight in gold; it gives you the ability to try ideas and create renders. It enabled me to produce an idea and then see if it would work in different sized rooms from various angles,” explained Watts.
The lighting designer went on to give an overview of the rig he designed for the show: “Apart from a grid of MAC 101’s, I’ve only got 12 big moving spots and 21 small washes and that’s it. We don’t have hundreds of moving lights; I think the key is using what you’ve got to the best of its ability.”
A total of 12 Vari-Lite VL3000 Spots were split between the floor and back truss, alongside 12 Martin Professional MAC 301’s, which were mounted on the curved towers at the back along with a further nine on the floor. To produce sidelight and floorlight, Watts opted for 14 Chroma-Q Color Punch LED fixtures. Another 18 of Chroma-Q’s DB4’s were used as truss toners, configured two per tower.
Also incorporated into Watts’ design were 12 Showtec Micro Blinders dotted around the rig, 4 Martin Professional Atomic 3000’s, 2 Robert Juliat Super Korrigan followspots, Avolites ART 2000 dimmers and 36 Martin Professional MAC 101’s in a grid at the back of the stage. Trussing was a mixture of Prolyte 290V and Tomcat One Truss 390, which was also supplied by DPL.
“Professor Green’s music is very wide in its style so we have some numbers that are full-on with lots of flashing and some that are much slower. The advantage with the fixtures - especially the Vari-Lite - is that they are very good at doing both jobs,” said Watts.
“The 301’s and Vari-Lites are amazing, the VL3000 Spots are my favourite light because they are so versatile; for this show they’re keylight, backlight and strobes.
“I’ve used the Color Punch as band light for several tours and they always impress me. When you use them, it doesn’t look like the shows being lit with LED.”
The last run of Professor Green’s shows featured black truss towers that were not designed to be seen. This time around they were silver and lit using truss toners, making them a feature on their own. The LD continued: “As I started in theatre, I am trying to bring some theatrical elements to the shows I light. There are some long fades, some silhouettes, at times most of the lights are moving and at others it is static and really quite dark.”
To cater for the younger fans that make up a large percentage of Professor Green’s audience, Watts made the lighting design camera-friendly: “The amount of people that record the show on their phones to upload to social networking sites demonstrates how audiences are constantly changing from one generation to the next. Our biggest problem at the moment however is the lights on camera phone because we never get a proper blackout!”
DIFFERENT TO OTHER ARTISTS
The lighting design Watts created for the At Your Inconvenience tour have had such an impact that the LD has since been nominated for a Knight of Illumination award. Being part of the touring team also had a profound effect on Watts: “One of the things I like about working with Professor Green is that he is so different to other artists. What makes him stand out is his talent and attention to detail. With the skill of the band around him the sound they produce is of a quality you don’t hear that often and I am enthusiastic about being a part of their live shows because they give that bit more. What makes me really enjoy my job is being around such creative people and having the opportunity to do things that nobody else has done.”
As Professor Green attends many live shows, he brought a lot of ideas to the table, including elements of lighting designs he had seen at other gigs that he would like Watts to incorporate. “He wants lighting to be tightly synched with the music so there’s a lot that I’m running manually throughout the show,” said the LD. “I’m wearing in-ears so I hear the same as the band because there are a lot of points when the band will stop and the only way I know they’re going to start again is from them speaking in my ear. The band is so tight and I need to be absolutely in time with them.
“You need to not get bogged down with the technology and we specifically chose not to include video on this tour. We don’t need video to sell the artist as he’s good enough on his own. For some of the songs, we’re not even using colour.”
Console choice was left in Watts’ capable hands, who places as much importance on the lighting desk as the fixtures on tour. “Given the choice, I would have fewer lights to be able to use the desk of my choice. After all, if I can’t get what I need out of the rig because of the desk, it effects the entire show. It’s all about the software and the control surface and how it links together,” he explained.
Watts opted for a High End Systems Hog 3, making use of its prioritization features to allow him to layer elements in terms of importance and make quick changes. “I really like how the desk controls the fixtures and the flexibility of the shape generation. It allows you to do a lot of editing and although I’m using cues, I’m not just pressing go. I’ll have certain cues in a stack, which I run forwards and backwards through during a song. I leap in and out of things as I need to and most of it is done live. A set list can change in sound check after all.”