XL Video supplied full video production including LED screens, cameras / PPU and control, IMAG projection system and crew to Madness’s recent sold-out UK arena tour.
This capitalised on a high profile year for the band that included epic performances on top of Buckingham Palace for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee – complete with stunning projections by XL Video onto the front of the building – and at the Olympic Games Closing Ceremony.
The band once again proved they were among the best, most enduring, dynamic and entertaining of British popular music, attracting a hugely enthusiastic audience spanning a wide demographic.
“Luton” Pete Hosier’s stage and video design offered a tasty mix of visual humour and slick aesthetics, based on a fusion of circus and theatricality, with sumptuous red drapes, gentle arcs and impressive animations and imagery.
XL’s project managers were Jo Beirne and Phil Mercer, and Crew Chief and Video Director on the road was Toby Vogel, who was working for the production.
Hosier specified a large Stealth LED screen upstage, 30 panels wide by 17 deep, with further Stealth panels positioned around the curved front and mid trusses, which had a very attractive ‘crowning’ effect. The latter were interspersed with Showtec Sunstrips.
The projection system comprised two 20 x 11 ft side screens used exclusively for IMAG footage, each fed by a pair of rear-projecting doubled-up Barco R12 machines.
Video content, created by various sources and with lots of input from the band – was stored on two devices – a Catalyst media server triggered from Hosier’s Avolites Pearl lighting desk, and two GV Turbo hard drives which were cued manually for specific pieces of text footage by Vogel from ‘Video World’ backstage.
The camera system consisted of three Sony SD cameras, one with a 70mm long lens at FOH and two in the pit on track-and-dolly, plus two Sony Robo-cams which were positioned onstage and used predominantly to cover the keyboard and drum kit together with some audience shots.
With up to 14 band members appearing at the larger shows, the Robo-cams were really helpful in capturing all the onstage action, movement and nuances on the IMAG screens.
Vogel cut his mix using a Sony DFS 700 8-channel switcher – utilising five camera channels, two for the Turbo feeds and one for the daily collage of local stills that he gathered from out and about wherever they were, used for the Madness classic, ‘Our House’. These were fed directly from Final Cut Pro into the mixer.
The IMAG (side) screens were fed via an SDI matrix straight from Vogel’s switcher, and two channels of the camera mix were sent to Hosier at FOH for outputting to the Stealth screens via the Catalyst, an effect used sparingly, subtly and with great impact.
The general playback video was an eclectic and innovative mix – largely compiled by Vogel and Hosier during four days of production rehearsals at Butlins in Minehead at the start of the tour.
It ranged from large flying white doves for the ‘From The Wings of a Dove’ to Yeast Video’s stylised cartoons for ‘Misery’ to the trippy kaleidoscopic patterns created by guitarist Chris Foreman (Chrissy Boy) during “How Can I Tell You”.
Vogel, who also directed video for the last Madness tour in 2010 comments, “As always the service, equipment and crew from XL were excellent. It was a really memorable and enjoyable tour and a great way to end the year”.
His XL crew were Mark Cruickshank, Oliver Derynck, Gabriella Linford and Chris Isaacson.