Home-shot footage, old TV clips, song-related imagery and stock effects were included

UK –Floridian ska punk outfit Less Than Jake are touring with video at the heart of their performance for the first time, with live feed footage and pre-made content displayed on three large LED screens driven by tvONE's Green Hippo brand of Hippotizer Media Servers.

Longtime Less Than Jake Lighting designer Nikki Dickinson, owner of Rig Lite Design Limited, teamed up with the band and Pete McCrea of Production AV to specify a kit list of five Marshall CV255 and CV366 cameras to capture the antics of the five band members, live feeds from which were fed into a Hippotizer Amba Media Server. A host of content taking in home-shot footage, old TV clips, song-related imagery and stock effects from various effect sources and from within Hippotizer were handled by the Amba and driven to the three 8' x 6' Desay M6 LED screens.

Ayrton Magic Blade R moving FX units were rigged around the LED screens, alongside an impressive array of powerful wash and effects fixtures, merging the worlds of video and lighting. Most of the lighting floor package was supplied by GLS Lighting. Dickinson controlled the 16 universes of colours and pixels via a ChamSys MQ500M stadium console and stadium wing. Supplementing the effects were four Chauvet Vesuvio II vertical foggers.

“The main challenge was working out the switching of the cameras and how to get those feeds into the Hippotizer, so they could be manipulated and sent out to the screens,” explains Dickinson, “but using the Amba this was quickly resolved. I love the fact that Hippotizer works so seamlessly with the ChamSys console to give me exactly what I want.

“The Hippotizers proved to be reliable and bug free, and they always are. I don’t trust any other media server to give me the control and content manipulation that I need.”

Dickinson worked closely with the band’s trombone player Buddy Schaub, video editor Gavin Smith and saxophone player JR Wasilewski to compile footage, accessing hundreds of images and logos, cartoons and other graphics which she uploaded to the Hippotizer Amba and then manipulated using the on-board effects and controls. The five cameras were first fed into a Blackmagic Design Constellation ATEM 2M/E switcher, which enabled the team to display two live feeds onto the LED screens at once, via the Amba and the ChamSys console.

 “We set up the ATEM, which was to be switched via network by Bitfocus Companion software,” adds Dickinson. “This was running across two Mac Minis, each controlling a mix engine on the ATEM at the same time. I could then send Art-Net from the console to the Mac to tell it to switch the cameras on either mix engine of the ATEM 2M/E.

“I then sent a separate command via Art-Net to the Amba telling it which input on the capture card to look at. This then enabled me to have two separate camera feeds at the same time as well as an image or footage on the third screen. This signal was then fed into the Amba which was again controlled via Art-Net to allow me to send the signal to any or all of the three screens, as well as all the other content.”

Utilising Hippotizer V4 software, Dickinson programmed the show once all the footage and images were compiled in the Hippotizer Amba, aided by colleague Anna Hammond, who set up all the various camera options that were needed on the MQ500M stadium wing. Overseeing the video elements for the duration of the tour was Production AV video system tech, Joel Goulding.

“During the Manchester show, the tour manager for one of the other bands on the bill came up to me and said, 'wow, the screens look amazing', and it just went from there,” says Dickinson. “I had two of the band members’ mums sat with me at FOH during the shows and the look on their faces when we put the video in and then the cameras as well was truly awesome.”

Less Than Jake’s You Asked For It tour kicked off the UK dates in Manchester in February before visiting cities including Leeds, Glasgow and London. The band tour the US and Europe throughout spring and summer.

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