The CPL team (Central Presentations Ltd) led by Lee Gruszeckyj delivered stage design and full technical production for the 2016 annual conference for accounting specialists, Tax Assist, staged in the Caernarfon Suite at Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, South Wales.
CPL has provided sound, lighting and video for the event for the last few years, and seen it grow in size and a commitment to production values. The most successful elements of last years’ event – also the company’s 20th anniversary – were taken as the starting point for this year’s stage and set design – and combined with some new components to keep it looking fresh and interesting for the 400 or so guests.
A hybrid approach to the design ensured a slick transition from conference session in the afternoon to full-on gala dinner and entertainment in the evening. “Flexibility was the key” states Lee, together with being able to set up quickly and efficiently after the early morning get-in.
Right at the back of the stage was a 40ft wide starcloth – a bit of tasteful twinkling magic that can work timelessly in most ‘show’ environments – which also featured two sets of door portals for entrances and exits. Downstage of that, and specifically for the conference section of the event, was a 15 metre wide white voile, and in front of that a further 30 x 10ft section of draping.
Combined, this layering of different materials created a three dimensional appearance which could be further accentuated by lighting and differentiating the layers behind the set.
A 10 metre wide by 3 metre deep stage with curved edges – vaguely resembling a lozenge in shape – was installed.
The flying facilities in the room are good, so selected house trusses were used for lighting, PA and projection positions.
The screen was fed by a doubled up pair of Panasonic 12K laser projectors running through a Barco S3 processing system which took care of all the content storage and screen management including creating PiP displays.
Input sources included laptops running Keynote for the presentations and PlaybackPro for the VT play-ins, plus one Sony VHC-100 roving camera used to record speakers during the conference section and provide a relay for the live entertainment during the evening.
For sound, CPL’s new d&b Y-series speakers were used complete with Y7P cabinets for delays further down the room. E8s were utilized for foldback and front fill and there was a row of V-SUBS along the stage lip for some extra oomph! d&b again provided sonic excellence in a small and neat package.
CPL provided a Yamaha CL5 console to mix comedian Jo Brand who delivered a characteristically side-splittingly one hour set, followed by an after-dinner DJ, while the band brought their own FOH mixing console and hooked into CPL’s system.
Lighting for the conference was a well balanced mix of generics and LED sources to give an even white wash – primarily using ARRI L5Cs and Source Four LEDs – that enhanced flesh tones and eliminated shadows.
Everything vibed up a few notches for the evening with colourful, funky lighting using a blend of Martin and Clay Paky moving lights including 10 x CP Mythos rigged in the roof above the stage, 10 x Sharpies, 10 x Martin MAC Auras on side-stage stands shooting across for fillers, and four CP A.leda K10s with B-EYE lenses on the stage bringing some fun pixel effects and eye-candy to the party.
All lighting was run from an Avolites Quartz.
Lee and the CPL crew of 10 worked alongside 8 locals getting in at 5 a.m. and working straight through to be ready for the conference starting at 2 p.m.. That ended at 5 and they then had two manic hours in which to turn the room around to night session and get the DJ and band sound-checked.
Time was saved by pre-visualising and pre-programming blocks of lighting cues beforehand on the Avolites Visualizer, and every little helps in a tight scenario like this.
“Knowing the venue well was also a helpful to things running smoothly,” commented Lee adding that the house technicians are “Excellent – great to work with and really helpful along with the regular local crew working there!”