Upstaging Deploys Robe on Todd Rundgren’s Clearly Human Virtual Tour

Upstaging supplies Robe lighting fixtures for Todd Rundgren’s Clearly Human Virtual Tour. Photo: Jim Snyder

Lighting Designer, Hans Shoop utilised Robe BMFL Spots, Spikies and a RoboSpot system controlling three BMFL Follow Spots, among other lights, supplied by Upstaging to create as much normalcy as possible for Todd Rundgren’s Clearly Human Virtual Tour.

Alex Skowron had been the production designer on Rundgren’s 2004 Liars tour. When he heard about the project, he reached out to the production team headed by Production / Tour Manager and Monitor Engineer, Paul Froula to get involved in the Clearly Human Virtual Tour.

Skowron recalled the mission to make the space appear nondescript and neutral so the audience could think they were actually touring. “The last thing we wanted was to have the same architectural features coming up show after show, so we blacked out any features that would give away the fact we were in the same space for five weeks and turned the room into a black box,” he explained.

Skowron became involved on the lighting and visuals production, sourcing kit and crew and crunching logistics which included keeping the equipment supplies as local as possible. He was also “indispensable” in materialising the design explained Shoop, adding that Skowron’s vast fund of experience and attention to detail freed him up to concentrate on finessing the lighting design.

Shoop’s task was to ensure the artist was lit from all angles – a RoboSpot system helped provide key, fill and backlighting with a BMFL Follow Spot tracking him throughout the set. Three luminaires were controlled by one operator with a RoboSpot Base Station located near the FOH area. RoboSpot duty was split between five stagehands working in daily shifts throughout the week for the two-hour performance.

The lighting rig was supplied by Upstaging, who rigged 12 trusses above the Radius’ stage – seven for lighting, four for scenic, including two kabuki drops, and one upstage supporting the LED wall.

24 BMFL Spots were rigged all over the lighting trusses and on the deck used for the key light and specials across the 12-piece band, as well as for lighting scenic elements, “keeping the quality of the light and the gobo set consistent,” Shoop remarked.

32 Spikies were lined up along the vertical bars of two pods flown each side of stage and were an essential visual piece filling the wing voids on camera. They became more apparent as the show arc unfolded, explained Shoop, initially backlighting the kabuki cloths during the early stages of the show, then after these dropped providing punchy, piercing beams firing through the haze towards the end of the set.

While he had originally specified LEDBeam 150s, Spikies came into their own. “The zoom, prism and Flower effects and the 360 continuous pan-and-tilt gave me multiple tools for crafting a diverse array of looks,” reported Shoop.

Hans often specs Robe for his projects and sees them on numerous festivals, house rigs and rental company stock lists. “I’m always happy when I see Robe on the kit list!” he exclaimed.

In closing, Skowron highlighted the cruciality of the ‘human factor’ in this project. “Gear is gear, but it takes the right staff to keep it running smoothly and properly,” he acknowledged. “I tried to use all my regular vendors as I knew they would be hugely enthusiastic and help make it a successful show.”

The thousands watching remotely on a device somewhere – also visible to the band on video tiles at the front of stage – and the 30 in-person masked, and tested audience were allowed in the venue each night were treated to a set featuring music from Rundgren’s back catalogue.

Broadcast Camera Director, John Deeney and video production – screens and cameras – were supplied by Nighthawk Video. Shoop worked closely with Todd Rundgren and Danny Connor to create custom video content. Upstaging Lighting Technician, Nick Pishghadamian was on hand for support.