Mark Knopfler gets lucky with DigitalSpots
The DigitalSpots were specified by lighting designer Simon Tutchener, who has been working with Knopfler since 2002 and completed his first major tour with him in 2005.
Tutchener specifically wanted a neat, tourable, flexible lightweight video solution that would integrate seamlessly - both physically and creatively - with the lighting.
The four units are rigged on the front lighting truss. They are soft-edged together and project one large image onto a 26ft wide by 16ft deep video screen hung on the back truss, which is covered by a pair of starcloth curtains for most of the show. They are controlled via ArtNet protocol over Ethernet from Tutchener's grandMA lighting console.
The video clips are all stored in the DigitalSpots' onboard media servers, uploaded via Ethernet. Tutchener uses a mixture of library images and specially created content - all of it abstract, subtle and intelligently crafted to blend seamlessly into the lightshow.
Footage is also taken from four surveillance style mini-cams (supplied by XL Video UK) dotted around the stage, plus one wireless camera from Broadcast RF. These are positioned on Knopfler's mic stand, on the drums and keyboards, with the wireless unit attached to the head stock of his Fender Stratocaster guitar.
The inputs of these are fed as composite video into the video capture cards of the DigitalSpots. They are also run through a DMX switcher which allows Tutchener to bring up the camera previews on a monitor and fade between them via the grandMA console.
"I think the DigitalSpot 7000DTs are a hugely powerful product that really makes a link between video and lighting," says Tutchener. "The reliability has really been proven over the last five months we've been using them."
Lighting technician Ewan Cameron has been looking after the video elements of the tour, starting in the US where he set everything up and continuing with Tutchener for the whole tour. He comments that the Picture Merge facility has worked extremely well and that the fixtures generally have been "great" for surviving the rigours of the road.
Bandit are supplying all the tour's lighting kit. Audio Rent from Switzerland are providing the sound equipment for Europe and the tour is production managed by UK based Kevin Hopgood.