Knight of Illumination award-winning Video Designer Ben Miles has praised the Avolites Ai R6 media servers in their performance for festival opener Coldplay at the star-studded Global Citizen Festival in Hamburg, Germany.
The festival calls on governments and the private sector to increase support and funding of issues associated with extreme poverty. This year was the first time the event had been held in Europe – and featured performances by world-renowned superstars including Pharrell Williams, Shakira, Ellie Goulding, German superstars Herbert Gronemeyer and Andreas Bourani – all opened by British band Coldplay.
Miles, who has been responsible for Coldplay’s stunning visuals throughout the band’s A Head Full of Dreams tour, commented: “Coldplay has so many big hits it’s difficult for us to know which of them they will play at festivals and shows like this. We knew they would play five or six songs in their set, but we didn’t know which ones, so we had to prepare for pretty much any of them. This meant we had to use our existing touring system, but integrated into the Global Citizen show design. To do this, we were able to work with the Global Citizen production team to use their LED mapping with our outputs.”
Adapting the current Coldplay touring system’s Ai outputs to the entirely different screen configuration in use at Global Citizen could have been a significant challenge for Miles and his team, as he explained: “Instead of outputting to our usual LED processors, we had to reallocate all our outputs from the tour setup. So, it meant a lot of remapping of the outputs.”
Happily, the Ai’s advanced functions allowed for a painless solution, as Miles explained: “The Global Citizen team provided us with their LED map and Video Programmer Robin Haddow and Systems Engineer Owen Evans worked together to use the Ai’s output functions to map all the LED sections to the outputs. They used quite a complex map to manage all the LED into five outputs, which takes a lot of pixel calculations and mapping of multiple sections. It was really easy in Ai, as the output function is really user-friendly. You can label the sections and pick them from a drop-down menu to help you work everything out, and then return to it to make edits.”
The Global Citizen rig also featured Barco MiStrip LED battens on the edges of the side screens. “Once all the remapping was done in Ai, it was really easy to remap the content from our tour LED floor setup to the MiStrips and try out different positions and configurations to find what worked best,” said Miles.
To create the show’s real-time interactive video content Miles utilised the Ai’s Notch function. He explained: “Many of the effects we use in our show are made using Notch integrated into AI. With all the real-time exposed parameters it meant we could vary the parameters to work with the Global Citizen screens and keep all the areas of interest in the main camera view.”
The Global Citizen Festival Hamburg comes during Coldplay’s A Head Full of Dreams tour, which has been travelling the globe with huge success since March 2016, with over a hundred shows already performed. As usual, touring high-tech equipment between wildly different and often extreme climates brings its own challenges.
“When we were touring in Asia, all of the equipment was put under immense pressure with the temperatures. The servers fared really well with their front-to-back cooling system. They performed well and we never missed a beat.” said Miles.
He also related how certain elements of the video team’s practices have evolved over time as the tour has progressed. “We have reallocated some of the resources amongst the servers,” he revealed. “Some of the real-time generated content we use in the show is now recorded and reloaded to the servers as a video clip. The content is made using Ai effects, but by recording it and then playing it back as a video clip, we can reapply the Ai effects, giving us further options and effect possibilities and freeing up further resources for other effects.”