From open air festivals to warehouse music marathons, north London venue, Drumsheds, has played host to some of dance music’s most influential artists, collectives and imprints during a four year residency at Meridian Water. Helping draw the curtain on the famed 10,000-capacity venue was a unique pixel fixture devised in part by Lighting Designer, Eran Klein and crafted by EnVisio for South African DJ, record producer and songwriter, Nkosinathi Innocent Sizwe Maphumulo, better known by his stage name, Black Coffee.
The three-hour long event was co-produced with Imma.nence by Oren Heknin – a longterm client of Lighting Designer, Eran Klein – Live Nation Israel, Metropolis Music and Shaked Minuskin. Klein’s lighting design took full advantage of the venue’s 20m trim height, with an impressive 11m diameter trussing circle centrepiece flown above the DJ booth, complete with a ‘jewel’ in the middle and a laser.
The design and concept of the unique flown pixel structure was the brainchild of Klein. CAD drawings were completed by the Ox Event House crew and sent over to EnVisio. “We were originally contacted as the project’s brief specified a custom pixel fixture which is something we have a great reputation for,” EnVisio’s Max Middleton began, reflecting on the evolution of the project. “The brief stipulated the client wanted a 3m tall by 4m wide pixel fixture, which we originally thought was free standing, but we soon discovered that it was to be horizontally flown with a laser shining out of the front!”
A unique concept was presented to EnVisio by Ox Event House’s Ben Levitt and Tech LED. As one of the few specialist pixel company’s able to meet the brief, EnVisio were given the tight timescale of four days to achieve the complex task.
“It was hectic in our workshop, we may have obstructed the car park somewhat and had to get one of the gazebos out but it was an enjoyable challenge. We didn’t have time to outsource any of the build, which we often do, depending on the complexity. Instead, we dusted off the ring rollers and phoned our local aluminium importer and got to rolling,” Middleton recalled. “The ring roller, by far the least technical piece of equipment we used, but there is no way we could have built that structure without it, as well as MADRIX software.”
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While EnVisio typically harnesses a range of hardware and software on projects, however, according to Middleton MADRIX is the ‘perfect’ tool for interfacing pixel installations with lighting desks. “We had 18 universes of lighting on that single fixture, which is relatively small for a pixel project, but we were able to give [Laser Programmer and Operator] Naor Bonomo full control over 18 universes from an MA Lighting grandMA3 desk on just 16 channels of DMX,” he reported. “This is exactly how we do our projects for broadcast. We take the mapping/processing and control strain off the desk and the desktop can just treat our whole install like a single fixture.”
The structure was made up of aluminium flat bar rings rolled and joined together by rolled square aluminium profile. The complex undertaking was compounded by the challenge of having to transport the giant pixel fixture from EnVisio’s Darwen workshop to Drumsheds in north London. “We had to make it breakdown fairly easily for transportation. Rather than hiring a wagon, it became apparent that we could probably build the rig so it collapsed into one of our Transit Custom vans, which was ideal,” he explained, referring to structure, which with 162m of aluminium extrusion bolted to it, only weighed in at a modest 35kg. “It was crazily light given the complexity of the build.”
While the project itself was, in Middleton’s words ‘insanely unique’, the workflow and technology behind the machine was not too dissimilar to most EnVisio projects – a control system, a power distribution system, a structure, and a whole load of LED bolted to it. “We already have a close relationship with Tech LED and Ox Event House but getting to meet a whole bunch of professionals on the job was fantastic!” Middleton exclaimed, going on to praise lighting vendor, Siyan, and the rest of the crew, particularly Lighting Crew Chief, Karl Lawton; Lighting Systems Technician, Matt Child; Laser Programmer and Operator, Naor Bonomo, and Stage Manager, Jack Bewis-Lawes.
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“It was a challenge,” he said, elaborating on the trials and tribulations of the project. “Once we painted the structure, figured out its orientation and we were about to disassemble, when we discovered it was meant to be hollow as ER Productions planned on firing one of their lasers straight through it like some ‘crazy huge pixel cannon’.”
After a few frantic messages, some angle grinder magic, and running some mirrored perspex throughout the laser cutter, EnVisio managed to fabricate a laser bracket and an aperture in the front of the fixture for the laser to fire through. “When we got on site at Drumsheds, ER Productions got stuck in and like the rest of the team involved, made the whole thing a reality,” he concluded. “After all, teamwork makes the dreamwork!”
This article originally appeared in issue #268 of TPi, which you can read here.