Michael Brown runs The National with ChamSys
Monday, 14 May 2018
thenational1The Michael Brown-designed lightshow is being run with a ChamSys MagicQ MQ500 Stadium console
USA - Providing an appropriately intense visual backdrop for The National on its current global tour in support of its seventh album, Sleep Well Beast, is a 13-universe Michael Brown-designed lightshow that is being run with a ChamSys MagicQ MQ500 Stadium console.
The Nashville-based LD, who has been a ChamSys user since 2009, selected the MQ500 for this tour because the power and versatility of the console, particularly its effects engine, allow him to pull together diverse visual elements to match his client’s distinctive sound.
“The National are a unique band,” said Brown. “Their music and performances can vary from very intimate textural moments to all-out eruption. Their front man Matt Berninger embodies the escapism of a true performer. He can go from contemplative to this madman on stage amidst the dense backdrop of a mixed meter ballad and complex orchestration.”
Describing his long-time client’s performance as “extremely dynamic with music that lyrically portrays the real struggles of mid-life”, Brown had this to say about his lightshow on the current tour: “We’re not a super bright bubblegum rock show. The atmosphere for our shows is moody, with extremely high contrast and deep colours to match the emotional tone of the songs. This tour offers me a great environment to work in as a designer, because the inherent drama of The National’s performance gives me the opportunity to react to the music and make bold statements.”
At the centre of Brown’s design are three 40’ x 8’ video walls. Most of the 320 fixtures in his rig are set up behind these structures. “This show is extremely video driven with multiple video elements - and that's where we began with the design,” he said. “I co-designed all the video content with my incredibly gifted video director Ben Krall. I then developed lighting concepts and programmed the show while he worked with the content and composed the live camera elements.”
Brown designed the show with the MQ500 in his Nashville studio with a full media server setup, feeding signal into Lightconverse. He then programmed the rest of the show over two days in Copenhagen, where his lighting and video vendor Litecom is located.
The touring show design has three configurations: one to work at arenas, another for theatres, and the third for large clubs. For festivals, Brown and his team are either traveling with their full production setup or augmenting their overhead rig with flown video and floor elements. He uses 10 Art-Net universes to control the lighting rig and three Art-Net universes to control media playback.
Regardless of configuration, the MagicQ MQ500 has been driving Brown’s rig at all stops along the tour. “The MQ500’s effects engine, with its three-color and four-colour effects, has been everything to me,” he said.
“The console is also very good for busking,” continued Brown. “The National doesn't play to backing tracks, and we've played 87 different songs so far on this tour -- so there is definitely a situation each night where I have to busk at least two songs.”
(Jim Evans)

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