Reading and Leeds Festivals returned simultaneously on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the August bank holiday weekend, signalling the reemergence of the UK summer festival scene after a lengthy, COVID-19 induced exile. Among the big name acts on the bill was pop star Sigrid, who captivated an in-person and TV audience with a creative show plan devised by Tourlite Design.
Having embarked on several livestreams and video shoots during lockdown, Tourlite Design’s understanding of the way a camera can be used to engage an audience has developed, leading the creative outfit to pose the question of why the camera is not used as more of a tool to develop a live production.
“There were going to be thousands of people watching Sigrid’s performance, not only at the festival, but at home on the TV, so we wanted to translate the energy of her performance as best we could beyond the front rows and onto screen,” Tourlite Design’s Ben Mansfield said. “It was a unique way for people to live in the moment of the performance and open up inclusivity so that the focus was wider than that of a normal afternoon festival slot. It wasn’t about lights, video content or pyro; it was about connecting the fans to Sigrid.”
The look of the show was very natural, given the fact that the set was performed in daylight, so colouring of the stage was not an option. Instead, the collective framed the performance space with lighting and lifted the band up behind Sigrid, creating a focused arrangement on stage. “The cameras had to match BBC shading for them to accept in broadcast, so we didn’t have a lot of scope to be different there outside of the framing and direction of the shots,” Mansfield said. “We took the camera on stage and into places where a camera would not normally be allowed on a festival stage, moving in and around the artist.”
Alongside Production Manager, Nick Lawrie, Tourlite Design collaborated with Creative Technology’s Nick Knowles. “We engaged the incredible Ed Coleman as our Live Director who took onboard our ideas and elevated them to the next level with his own,” Mansfield recalled, praising the team involved. “We ended up complimenting the festival camera package with four of our own, along with rack control, supplied and crewed by Creative Technology (CT), in addition to a steadicam, supplied and operated by John Clarke.”
CT supplied upstage screens and curved imags for both Reading & Leeds main stages using ROE Black Quartz 4.6 LED. CT Project Managers, Jim Liddiard and Nick Knowles oversaw 4K signal distribution was achieved between FOH, stage, and screens. CT created custom-made 10° hanging brackets used for curves and also provided a large amount of artist extras throughout the festival including additional camera systems and on-stage screens, including for Sigrid and Disclosure.
The lighting package was designed to add dynamic to camera shots as well punch through the daylight on stage. The team at TSL, headed up by James Davies, supplied the creatives with GLP JDC Line 500s and JDC1s, which were used to flank the risers, facing the audience and cameras. With festival setups being tight, both in space and time, the team entrusted All Access Staging to deliver a modular rolling riser setup, fronted in dibond, which helped them make the stage their own in a narrow timeframe.
Aside from the COVID-19 protocols put in place by the tour production team, there was no additional layer of precautions to work around at the festival. “Thankfully, we didn’t encounter any issues with our production related to COVID-19 but as a production we did regular testing and wore masks throughout rehearsals and when operating indoors,” Mansfield remarked.
Reflecting on the feat, Mansfield said feedback from colleagues and fans has been ‘very humbling’. “It was great on a personal level for people to tell us how much they enjoyed watching the performance at home. It was clear to see how the audience at the festival reacted, seeing themselves on giant screens during a reverse shot where Sigrid looked into the camera with the crowd behind her. The crowd loved seeing themselves up there alongside Sigrid,” he enthused. “I think everyone was really happy with what was delivered and it hopefully will mark a new direction for us, trying to bridge the gap and include as many as possible in the live experience.”
This article originally appeared in issue #265 of TPi, which you can read here.