Chauvet lights ‘no-wall design’ for Disturbed
Tuesday, 12 September 2023
disturbed-photocredit-steve-jenningsDisturbed have just concluded their 36-date Take Back Your Life North American tour (photo: Steve Jennings)
USA - Over the course of his career, Scott Holthaus has created some extraordinarily impressive shows with large centre stage video screens. But sooner or later, most things in life run their course, and at this point, the designer was ready for a change.
“I have said it a hundred times... I’m bored with the big TV in the back,” remarked Holthaus, when discussing his design for Disturbed’s just concluded 36-date Take Back Your Life North American tour, which began 27 April at Bell Centre in Montreal and ended 2 September at the Ruoff Music Center outside Indianapolis.
On this tour, Holthaus achieved his vision, going outside the box (or wall!) to create a design that flowed seamlessly with the musical narrative on stage without the use of a central video wall. In place of the familiar video component were three rows of automated truss that changed positions throughout the concert.
Creating this breakthrough design wasn’t easy. It required the combined efforts of a very talented and experienced team to manage the various aspects of the production, from its vertically oriented pyro effects to the automated truss structures that significantly changed trim heights and configurations, moving from diagonal slants to triangles and inverted triangles, to u-shaped configurations. In the end, though, it was well worth the effort.
“Replacing the centre stage video with hundreds of liner feet of rig was really refreshing,” said Holthaus. “Automating the truss gave us fluidity. We achieved a floating sea grass motion. At times it was dramatic, but at other times we just altered the architecture subtly. We didn’t just move things for the sake of showing off motion technology. Our LD Alex Mungal took my silly Ideas and made the lights sing like a bird.”
Adding to the visual impact of the overhead truss structure were 30 high-intensity Chauvet Professional COLORado PXL Bar 16 fixtures supplied by Premiere Global Production. Spread evenly across the three rows of truss, the quad-colour motorised tilting batten was used to create a variety of looks from different light angles thanks to its pixel mappable features and wide zoom. The fixtures also added variety to the show as a result of their shape.
“I love not using round sources only,” said Holthaus. “The PXL bars gave us the third texture, linear. So, we now had round, rectangular, and linear lines to create greater interest.”
Also upping the interest level were the compelling pyro effects that Holthaus specced for each row of truss. “With the band’s approval, we went for as much Pyro as could be safely used in the amphitheatre roofs,” said Holthaus. “It was less about budget than not burning anything down.” Pyro Pete did excellent work on this adding the pyro effects in a way that was safe but still created a potent impression.”
Executing pyro effects with precision was not the only impressive feat by the production team. Coordinating the smooth, flowing movement of the overhead truss was also quite an accomplishment.
“Getting the low trim right was pretty easy: just don’t hit the floor lights, or any people,” said Holthaus. “The high trim was altogether more difficult. We had to be aware of the potential for massive heat build-up. This took lots of thought from some pretty smart folks. Dennis Brennan from Q Prime is my hero. Ken Mitchell, Disturbed's PM really nailed implementing this complex design. Cort Laurence helped me so much during rehearsals. Guy Sikes, our TM, believed in all of this all along!”
The Take Back Your Life tour was not completely without a video wall component. The design also featured off-stage IMAG screens that showed the band. “We feel we created a compelling look without the centre-stage video wall,” said Holthaus. “But, as in any rock concert, we still needed to show faces.”

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