XL Video with Florence + The Machine

Friday, 30 March 2012
XL Video with Florence + The MachineThe flown set resembled a series of large Art Deco style glass mirrors with a milky-white finish
UK - XL Video supplied a projection system, Catalyst media servers and control, cameras and crew to the latest Florence + The Machine UK tour, once again working with visuals designer and video director, Richard Stembridge.

Stembridge was asked to present ideas for the influential and critically acclaimed band's live show video early this year after they were impressed with his work on Arcade Fire. He collaborated very closely with Florence's set and lighting designer Chris Bushell, and together they evolved a fresh, interesting live visuality for the show combining both mediums to great effect.

Stembridge comments, "I've always used XL as their level of support is unsurpassable! Their approach to, and their ability to provide for the most unconventional of touring situations puts them way ahead in my opinion."

Stembridge had only a week to create the video elements of the show, which meant a lot of additions and support from XL, where the tour was project managed by Jo Beirne and Phil Mercer. "They came through every time," he says.

Both Beirne and Mercer commented on how enjoyable it is to work with artists using video in more unusual and inventive contexts.

The flown set was 40 ft wide and 16 ft high. It comprised seven conjoined trapezoidal panels and was constructed by Hangman / Metalman from frosted polycarbonate material. It resembled a series of large Art Deco style glass mirrors with a milky-white finish. These were carefully edged in chrome to allow them to be joined together to form the overall backdrop and split into tour-able sections.

The idea was the panels could be lit from behind or projected on to from the front or the two different types of illumination could be merged and work together seamlessly.

To fit the video - playback and IMAG - content to the panels precisely, Stembridge created some very detailed, millimetre accurate masking in the Catalyst .. so much so that it actually resembled rear projection at times and also bounced its own very unique quality of light back onto the stage.

Central to Stembridge's aesthetic goal was wanting the projections to have their own mystique and sense of magic.

The projectors were five Barco FLM R22s. Three were rigged on a downstage truss above the audience, trimmed at around 35ft high - so well out of sight - and these fed images to the main set screen, with one focused on the centre and the other two corresponding to the stage left and right sections.

The other two projectors feeding two IMAG side screens were flown another 20ft out to the sides on separate trusses.

These side screens were also specially shaped and hung at a five degree angle to mimic the style and shape of the centre of the main set. Stembridge worked with Hangman / Metalman to design a lightweight frame to support the 18 x 12ft surfaces which were covered in a 'Translight Midnight' rear projection surface made by Harkness. This allowed them to almost disappear when not in use.

The control system comprised three Catalyst v4 media servers operated via a Hog PC console.

Eight Sony robo-cams positioned all over the stage were fed into this picking up the action, together with an operated broadcast quality camera at FOH with a 50mm lens, which was focused on Florence Welch. All nine were all routed into the Catalyst system via an SDI matrix switcher and directed by Stembridge for the show.

(Jim Evans)

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