Stage Technologies automation on Radiohead tour

Friday, 12 October 2012
Stage Technologies automation on Radiohead tourStage Technologies provided control for the band's existing winch system
UK - Stage Technologies has been contracted by Radiohead production manager Richard Young and Richard Kent of Aerial Rigging Techniques to provide a 60 axis 'pod' system running 12 free flying video screens on the Radiohead tour in Europe, New Zealand and Australia this autumn. Following a well-documented roof collapse earlier in the summer the tour's automation system had to be replaced. Despite being in the midst of its busiest year to date the Stage Technologies rental team created a new bespoke system within 30 days.

Stage Technologies provided control for the band's existing winch system including: 10 AU:tour control racks, a 60 axis system, plus new motor looms racks, desks and programming tools. Each pod in the system contains 4 point hoist winches each lifting a corner of the screen. Each is able to rotate to create multi-dimensional movement within the screens.

Stage Technologies head of training Alex Hitchcock, who managed the programming for the project, said, "The Radiohead tour is a great example of what Stage Technologies can turn around in a short space of time. Creating the system and ensuring it was at Elstree studios in time for rehearsals was going to be a challenge but our team met it brilliantly."

The band has a catalogue of 90 songs, each of which has any combination of 27 'presets' or looks for the screen positions; and each night of the daily touring has a differing set list. The team arrive onsite around 7am and expect to be fully rigged by 2pm because in many cases the concert doors open at 4pm. This is a slim window in which to program and test the show for each night.

Hitchcock said, "Programming the show is another test altogether and only really possible once the system is complete. Our solution, for now, is to model the screens geometry in 3D studio Max and employ the Stage Technologies toolkit to output axis profiles and "deads" for each preset to the winches. This allows the operators to pick the presets in order of the songs and simply re-time and save as a cue."

Stage Technologies' director of rentals services Ted Moore said, "When the call came I knew this was a big ask. Delivering something so quickly that had needed to interface with equipment that had already been produced once by someone else is always a challenge, but my team delivered with dedication, hard work and professionalism."

After commencing in Montreux, Switzerland on 20 September the tour travelled to Italy, Germany and the UK. Following further dates in Europe the band will head to New Zealand and Australia in November 2012.

There will be more on the current Radiohead tour in the November issue of Lighting&Sound International.

(Jim Evans)

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