Thirteen years ago Steven Douglas was asked to fill in for the house tech at a venue in his native Dublin. It was some band from Las Vegas he’d never heard of and he just busked the house rig. The band said they loved what he did and asked for his phone number. Steven never expected to hear from them again but he did and that is how he came to work with The Killers.
Several concert tours later Steven is at the helm of a grandMA2 for a lighting and video spectacular that is the Wonderful, Wonderful Tour. This time around, it was decided to bring in Fireplay, led by Nick Whitehouse who Steven often works alongside, to collaborate on the set design and video content.
“We needed an extra set of hands on deck and having worked with Josh Zangen of Fireplay before, I knew he was the right person,” commented Steven. “We all work so well together and there’s no ego clash.”
The video is much grander and larger than ever done before with the set backed by a wraparound, forced perspective panoramic LED screen. This large upstage video wall is made up of a ROE 12mm LED screen whilst ROE 8mm product makes up a pyramid shaped screen, placed in front on the upstage wall. Added to that is a third automated triangle screen on Kinesys motors, affectionately referred to as the ‘flying-v’ by the crew. These video screens travel with custom built frames so they don’t require a fascia to hide the square lines on the sides.
Set elements include a six metre water tower and giant arrows; the glitz of Vegas is represented by neon and lightbulbs juxtaposing with the water tower of small town America.
“When Josh showed me the first sketch I was rather skeptical about the water tower and then every window I looked out of after that in America, I could see a water tower,” said Steven. “They always have the town name on them so we do the same, changing it to every city we play in.”
The rig is slightly different in Australia due to fixture availability and shipping constraints. Most noticeably the absence of the custom made rectangular and square lighting pods lined with GLP X4 Bar 20’s. The shipping schedule from Mexico became too much and so it was decided to ship the automated triangular screen and use local lighting. The flown screen is outlined with GLP X4 Bar 20’s as is the pyramid and they cut through the lighting and video effectively. The X4 Bar 20’s are particularly effective on the upstage triangle when they cross over at 45 degrees to create a triangular light curtain.
“I knew I didn’t want a lot of wash lights as there would be so much ambient light coming off the video, and although the GLP X4 Bar 20’s do that a bit, we primarily use them as a light curtain effect,” explained Steven. “I knew I needed high power spot and beam fixtures so I went with the Claypaky Scenius Unico and Martin Axiom Hybrids – however here I have had to substitute them with Claypaky Mythos and Scenius Profiles for key lighting. The flat beam on the Unico is what really attracted me to the fixture, it’s a very pure white light once you put the beam flattener into it but you can still zoom it down to get an almost beam effect without having to go into a beam mode.”
When Steven has his Claypaky Scenius Unico fixtures they are usually used in conjunction with a Follow-Me automated spotlight system that is rented from Neg Earth in the U.K. There are three roaming musicians downstage, and each gets a dedicated spot operator back by dimmers that follows them with a mouse while viewing an overhead camera.
“I chose the Axiom Hybrids over the Robe Spikie which I originally looked at – in fact we bought Spikies into rehearsals and programmed them but they didn’t do what I needed them to do,” Steven related. “It’s a great little light but didn’t work against the video.”
In Australia Steven also has twenty-seven GLP JDC1 strobes with six of them downstage left and right side lighting the band, some more on the front truss and a couple overhead.
“All the ones on the floor are able to envelop the band in ambient wash,” he said. “It’s great that the strobe feature cuts through, and then you can still strobe the actual wash fixture as well. They were a little funky getting my head around first time programming but I got it together pretty good.”
Claypaky Sharpy washes are mounted on the front truss to wash the stage, and 4-Lite moles are used in abundance to light the crowd. Martin Viper Performances are all around for main spot fixture.
Lightwave International supplied the lasers including 7 x 35 watt full coloured DMX lasers upstage and 10 x Phenom moving head lasers, which also utilized the Follow-Me system in the US and UK.
This article first appeared in the print edition of CX Magazine June 2018.
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