Kings of Leon kicked off the fall leg of their WALLS world tour with 16 dates in North America. Accompanying the band across the globe are 2 d3 Technologies 4x4pro media servers provided by PRG and 2 more provided by Video Design.
Visual Director Anthony Cairns built the show, programming the d3 media servers and operating them during the tour, marking the first outing with d3 Technologies systems. Cairns was first introduced to d3 by Stefaan ‘Smasher’ Desmedt at V Festival in 2016, he then followed this up with custom in-house d3 training from Rodd McLaughlin at the d3 New York office.
“I decided to make the jump to d3 for the start of this tour after years on other media servers with Kings of Leon. The thing that appealed to me was 3D real world visualiser and the potential to block out design ideas in prepro before stepping foot on site. We set up a week of training during which my eyes were really opened to the power and sophistication of d3,” said Cairns.
For the tour the VD was tasked with producing a 3-act show cataloguing the band’s hits from their 7 albums. A 3-part motorised Austrian drape serves to segment the show, creating a unique look for each act. “Act 1 is a ‘Club Look,’ simplified and cut down with a small stage set to create the feel of a club and emulate their early days as a band and their albums,” Cairns explained. “Act 2 has the Austrian fully closed and the band performing three songs acoustically in front to give an intimate unique experience for fans. Then Act 3 reveals the full stage set with 2 Kabuki drops, moving screens and other elements to showcase the later years of the band up ‘til now.
“The main advantage of d3 for me is the ability to work offline. We’ve been bouncing between festivals, arenas, stadiums and sheds and having to work with not only our touring screens, but local screens, shapes and sizes, d3 has allowed me to very quickly adjust my outputs. Having the show programmed into the grandMA2 meant that after adjusting global settings on my d3 feeds I could focus and tweak the grandMA2 and we would be able to turn around new and different shows very quickly,” explained Cairns.
While Cairns was preparing for Hyde Park, he worked with d3 Technologies to import the extra pieces of the Hyde Park configuration, provided by Video Design, into his show. During a few days off in Dublin he re-delivered much of the content and pre-programmed the show using clips up to 11,000 pixels wide. “Without the physical screens, this would have been much harder on any other server,” he reported.
Cairns used 35 video layers and 4 Notch layers to run the tour. He believes that d3 Technologies Sockpuppet feature “has been crucial for me and my style of programming and operating.” He worked with d3 to customise Sockpuppet and the grandMA2 to create a workflow similar to what he’s been used to in the past.
“Kings of Leon doesn’t ever play to tracks: Every channel of sound is live instruments, therefore we cannot sync nor have the show running off a timeline,” he explains. “Having the flexibility of the grandMA2 to drive d3 gives me all the control at the console and allows me to make significant changes during the show if and when needed.
“From anywhere on the globe I’ve been able to contact d3 support through all forms of communication, and using their project and system diagnostics we have been able to resolve every issue that has presented itself. I’ve never seen such proactive support in a product before. To be able to share the show with them and talk through any question or concern has been amazing! Also, d3 listens to user and operator feedback to actually make positive changes to the software,” Cairns concluded.
For Kings of Leon Casey McGrath of Phear Creative is the Creative Director, Paul Normandale of Lite Alternative the Lighting Designer, Hunter Firth was the Lighting Director and Programmer. Charles Wood the Camera Director, and Briony Margotts of PRG the Video Engineer. Beyonce d3 engineer Briony Margotts worked with Cairns on the road to assist with d3 technologies operation.