Ret Hot Chili Peppers have a brand new stage set for their current I’m With You tour and RHCP Brazil decided to find out more; they’ve very kindly translated their original article into English and shared the information, interview and photos they have with us.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers have started an epic world tour using the very best in the entertainment industry and a very experienced technical team.
Started in Germany on 07th October, the world tour for the new album “I’m With You” has a huge LED Backdrop panels made ??with V28 LSI Saco, a band’s logo drawn on the floor made with 30mm LED from Tait Towers and eight impressive chandeliers that move and expand itself giving dynamism, depth and a three-dimensional performance.
The new stage has an octagonal shape as a base, from the logo of the band on the stage to the trussing and was fully designed by United Visual Artists (or UVA), studio based in London and intersection of sculpture, architecture, live performance, moving image and digital installation.
The RHCP Brazilian website talked to David Bajt, d3 projects leader (UVA’s own software which you will understand more below), and he told many details about the new stage, that although it seems to be a very complex construction, it only takes 2 hours to build it up in those rooms.
Did you receive some briefing from RHCP management to build the stage or the whole creation was 100% by UVA?
It was pretty much 100% UVA design, but of course it had to be realistic in terms of touring, and the band had to like it too.
What are the sizes of the screens used at this stage?
Backdrop: 17.92m wide, 6.72m high
Floor: 21m wide, 12m.
Chandelier: 3.024m wide and high (closed), 9m high + trussing = approx. 10.5m high
Are LED Backdrop and chandeliers’ resolution the same? What’s their resolution?
Every chandelier has the resolution 336×336
The backdrop has the resolution 640×240
The floor has the resolution 700×400
There are 8 chandeliers, how they were built? Are they made using LED or another specific material?
The LED for the chandeliers are made of SACO v9 panels provided by Nocturne PRG. The chandeliers themselves has been built and engineered by Tait Towers. All movements are controlled by the Tait Navigator system, which sends all position, rotation and expansion data to d3 which automatically maps content onto them, regardless if they are open, closed or rotated.
Do they stay only above the band or they also move towards above the audience?
The screens stay on top of the band, as they form one design together with the floor and the backdrop.
I’ve seen the chandeliers expanding in some music and it looked like it was being opened above each tip of the asterisk. How does it work? Was it inspired on that screen created by Barco for U2 that expands as well?
We used the band’s logo as a key for the design – it’s on the floor, and the screens above the band reflect this in a more abstract way. Expanding screens are not new, but you don’t often see them in this versatile way. They expand using motors at the very top and very bottom of every chandelier, and all the tracking data goes into d3. d3 is our home-made integrated production toolkit, we (UVA) use it for all our installations. Using d3 we can pre-visualize the show in 3d, and use it to sequence all the content / kinetics. During the show we use it to control the video content, screens movements and live camera feeds. Both U2 and this RHCP show use 360 screens, so in that sense it is similar, although the feel to the whole show is very different. U2 also use our d3 system, so that is similar too!
What’s the speed they move?
It’s quick! It takes about 20 sec to go from completely closed to completely expanded.
About lights, animation and screen movement: Is it everything automatic? Or who is in charge to control everything? Once I heard about a control called GrandMA, I don’t know much about this product but is it used?
Yes, the video operator (Leif Dixon) and the lighting designer (Scott Holthaus) both use GrandMa desks, which are used a great deal in the live music industry, usually to control the lighting. There are a lot of things going on during a big show like this – screen movements, video content, lights – and all these elements might all have their own system behind it. We successfully integrated d3 with a GrandMA for the first time, meaning that you can use the GrandMA desk to jump to the next cue in video content, for example. This gives the show controllers a lot more flexibility.
The data from the screen positions comes into d3 automatically, but many of the screen positions and configurations have been programmed in during the production rehearsals. As soon as we get the set list from Anthony Kiedis (this is usually only 15 min before the show) we tell ‘Motion Rob’ who controls the screens to match the screen positions with the content of the songs. The lights and the video are ‘cue-based’, the video operator uses a GrandMa desk to jump to the next cue in d3’s timeline. The band is jamming and adding/reducing bars a lot so it’s impossible to use Midi timecode or similar. This is a real punk-rock band that improvises a lot, so a completely pre-made show would never fit with their musical spontaneity.
About animation and lighting design process, were they made after the stage had been completely finished or was everything planned together?
Some content was planned during the design process but the lighting was sequenced during the production rehearsals. The good thing with d3 is that you can simulate all the video design months before the show opens! These animations were sent to the management and the band for approval.
Some people complained about the fact there is no screen with live images of the band playing, that it could be good for those who are very far from stage. Why do all images have effects? Is it some RHCP decision to avoid illegal video on the internet?
This depends on the show, all of them are different – the ones in London and Germany for instance had a lot of real time camera with and without effects, but maybe you saw a different one?
Who had the idea to make the RHCP logo on the floor using LED? What kind of material have you used to make a great visual effect and also to uphold all equipment above?
It was our idea here at UVA. We only specified the architectural shapes, screen movements, and the requirements of the LED screens (brightness, pixel pitch) and of course specifying how the lighting trusses would be designed. For example you can see that the 3 lighting trusses inside the chandeliers follow the same shape as the logo. It’s all been thought about very thoroughly, you have to when you are working on this scale. Tait Towers, who are specialized in building stages, made sure everything was engineered properly and the whole set works.
But the band put a carpet on stage so it’s almost impossible to see the asterisk, do you know why? Is the surface too flat or smooth?
It’s a very practical and personal reason: Anthony Kiedis has some trouble with his knees, so for some shows they had to put a soft carpet on the floor to accommodate this. This will be replaced with a transparent screen though so the logo is fully visible. The band really like it – in fact Chad requested the elevated drum stage he’s on to be a mesh (it wasn’t at first) so he could see the floor better!
How much weight each video screen has? How much tons approximately has the entire stage?
We don’t know, sorry.
How do you make this transportation from one country to another?
There’s 5-6 big trucks shipping all the kit and another 5-6 tour buses transporting staff.
How long does it take to build the entire stage on the show? There are bands that have more than one set in the next town they’d be playing in order to build it up in time, is it necessary to RHCP?
As designers, we only come up with the idea and how to get it built – so we don’t actually build up the stage. However, RHCP tour management have a very experienced and professional team that tour with the Peppers and build up the stage for their show. We know it only takes approximately 2 hours to build the entire stage!! so this is why they can travel and do a show somewhere else every day.
In terms of logistic, how difficult and expensive can be to bring this stage to Brazil?
Sorry, we don’t know this one either. This is part of the band’s management.
For next year that will have outdoor gigs, stadiums and big arenas, will they use the same stage?
Yes, at least for the US part of the tour. We are not sure what will happen next, this would be up to the band’s management.
All this structure is special for RHCP or it’ll be commercial line in the future?
Featuring the RHCP logo, it’s made especially for RHCP, so it won’t be seen anywhere else.
What are the other bands that UVA works for?
We’ve designed the stages (and content) for bands like Massive Attack and Jay-Z but our production toolkit d3 is used by many bands including U2, Kylie Minogue, Take That, Robbie Williams, Battles, George Michael and many more.
Credits to: James Medcraft
Many thanks to Altair at RHCP Brazil for sharing this amazing information and for translating it into English too! The original article, in Portuguese, can be seen HERE for anyone interested.