The Rolling Stones
Lighting and Creative Design: Woodroffe Bassett Design
Tour Lighting Director: Ethan Weber
Follow-Me Tech: Grant Hickey
Follow-Me Supplier: Neg Earth Lights Ltd.
© Manfred H. Vogel
Date: January 22, 2024
Looking back across a year of success for Follow-Me BV and clients, it became clear that Lighting Designers are choosing to use the Follow-Me 3D system exactly for why and how the company has designed and built it. British based Woodroffe Basset Design has specified Follow-Me on a number of productions during 2022, acknowledging Independent, Flexible, Scalable as the reasons for doing so and Follow-Me lived up to expectations when on tour with The Rolling Stones SIXTY tour this summer.
The show had a new set design by Stufish, customised for each venue yet clearly briefed to give the typical look, feel and experience of a classic ‘Stones concert with the origanal, 40 years long, lighting designer Patrick Woodroffe as Creative Director bringing Ethan Weber in as tour lighting director. Terry Cook, associate lighting designer at Woodroffe Bassett Designs oversaw the needs of this Summer tour with fixtures and positions chosen for all staging and weather conditions.
Key to Woodroffe Bassett Design was allowing the show to feel real, as if it was being operated in an original follow spot way, they wanted flexibility with the system as they were not always in the touring roof meaning their overhead rig changed a lot and their FOH towers moved venue to venue and they know from previous Follow-Me projects the system is adaptable.
Terry Cook explains why Follow-Me was the correct choice, “We choose Follow-Me as we wanted a remote system that we had previously used on a large-scale project. Follow-Me allows us to use multiple lights from different positions that made it simple yet creative along with not taking up too much space with operators in the FOH area.”
Cook continues to explain the choice to work with Moving Fixtures as follow-spots “At FOH, for the first time ever, we specified ten Ayrton Domino LT units attached to the Follow-Me follow-spot system. This is a new Long Throw unit of the Domino range, and is also IP rated so it takes the weather concerns away. Our spot towers moved around a lot from venue to venue but we found having the Domino LT spot very useful and the light performed well.”
The flexibility of using the Follow-Me remote follow-spot system allowed for the five remote follow-spot operators to be positioned comfortably and safely in the control tent with the rest of the lighting team at the side of the stage. The 10 Domino LT fixtures assigned as follow-spots with the Follow-Me 3D system, were rigged on 2 FOH towers with an average throw of 38.5 meters.
“This was our first ‘Stones tour with remote follow-spots, a big decision for us,” says Weber. “Our standard follow-spots, stacked four high, house left and right, always bothered me: all but the top spots were too low and washed out much of the stage. There have been systems out for a few years now that could probably handle the job, but it was the combination of the Domino LTs’ intensity and especially, IP rating that swayed us’. The fixture independent nature of Follow-Me also enabled 3 x Martin Professional Mac Vipers to be integrated into the follow-spot set up.
Due to the scale of the staging 2 x Follow-Me 3D SIX Systems were utilised with an additional 1 x Follow-Me SIX System on tour as back-up. The Follow-Me Camera Set positions were carefully chosen to give a full view to the follow-spot operators of the main stage, wings, catwalk and surrounding downstage audience; everywhere that the performers may, planned or spontaneously, chose to perform from. Two Follow-Me 3D SIX Systems were used to insure the operation for the follow-spotters would be easy. Typically multiple scalable systems are only required if the performance area is immense. In this case one system had the full show file and one only the calibration points and the cross hairs. These, in the second show file, were used, via PSN, from the first show file as a remote extension. Due to the large distance between camera position and main stage, the flexibility of Follow-Me allowed for 1 large monitor with the entire system overview and one closeup view of main stage to be set up to insure operators had a good visual of this area to follow-spot smoothly.
FM Tech for the tour, Grant Hickley, was aided by FM Project Manager Ramon Rijsdijk to insure the Follow-Me 3D Systems were utilised perfectly. Tweaking features to enable Grant to deliver a fine tuned repeatable set up in each location. In particular the stage was masked in the 3D mesh to insure the backlights would not blind the audience. In the case that the back-up Follow-Me system may be required Grant programmed the set up to enable a fast, smooth “switch to backup” if required. In each location, time during two days was allocated for set up, calibration and programming of the Follow-Me Systems, the pre-show prep for each location was also key to a smooth running buildup and production.
Cook says about using Follow-Me “having Follow-Me with us on the road allows us to always be creative and look for new spot moments, when you have the artists we do, we want reliability, and the system was great in all weather conditions. Grant Hickey from NEG Earth was on the road, each morning he would measure and map the stage system, we never had a moment of panic that this was not possible or achievable. I was very impressed at the reliability of the system and the support we got”.
Woodroffe Bassett Design: Lighting and Creative Design
Tour Lighting Director: Ethan Weber
FM Tech: Grant Hickey
FM Project Manager: Ramon Rijsdijk
Follow-Me Systems supplied by: NEG Earth Ltd.
Photo © MH Vogel