The xx Gets XL-ent Gear
XL Video is supplying a high power projection system and Green Hippo Hippotizer i7 HD media servers for uber cool Mercury prize winning UK indie band The xx, who are currently in the middle of an 18 month world tour having just released their second album, Coexist. The highly innovative projection-based visual design was originated by Tobias G Randler, and then modified on the road by lighting director and lighting/video operator Michael Straun. The design has evolved and grown, and currently five projectors are being utilised in total. Two Barco FLM22 22K projectors are positioned at FOH, and separately either projected across a white backdrop or carefully masked and beamed onto the band members, or as the set reaches its climactic conclusion, onto an imposing 12 x 12 ft three dimensional transparent X which is revealed for the final three numbers. The Perspex X is also filled with smoke at certain times to produce an opaque surface adding another dimension for the projection.
The other three FLM 22s are fitted with short throw lenses and positioned onstage directly behind each band member and project straight out into the house.
More recently, the design has undergone a further evolution by incoming show director Willo Perron of WP & A, which has seen the addition of 48 Stealth LED panels mounted directly onto the back of the X, fed by another Hippotizer also supplied by XL. The Hippo server system is run in the UK and Europe by John Montague, and Projection is looked after by Bjorn Parry. The four Hippotizers – three active and a hot backup – are triggered via Michael Straun’s Avolites Tiger Touch console – and are also re-programmed ‘live’ during the show, allowing Straun to feel the emotion and mood of the performance and audience and react accordingly.
The Hippotizer i7s were a new investment by XL for the tour – supplied by A.C. Entertainment Technologies – and were selected mainly for their Live Mask function, which allows very quick, accurate Alpha Masks to be drawn onto the output of both the Layers and the Mask Outputs. Much of the show is about video being used as a highly dynamic lightsource for creating moods and atmosphere, silhouetting the band, or capturing them starkly in the projector beam paths with undulating multicolour gobo-like effects and beautifully fluid, subtle laseresque moments.
There are occasional snippets of more traditional projection techniques with liquid and oil type effects bursting out and filling the backdrop. Once revealed, the X comes alive with meticulously masked projections from the front projectors and ‘internal’ effects radiating out from the Stealth LED behind, all resulting in a very unique energy and intimacy, connecting with the audience and drawing them into the action. XL’s Project Manager Paul Wood says, “It is a pleasure working with artists and a creative team who are prepared to take some creative risks and producing something that’s very stimulating and eXciting”.