Lighting Dimensions, September 1994
Pink Floyd World Tour (US Leg)
Brickman began formulating a design plan in February 1993 with the band members, manager Steve O'Rourke, and production director Robbie Williams.
"I had some general parameters of what I didn't want," Brickman says. "I didn't want a McCartney show, I didn't want another Genesis show, I didn't want a huge steel show -- but that I have. It was to have been something a little bit more organic, for lack of any better term. I felt that audiences were tired of getting beaten over the head by all these huge stadium shows, and I couldn't possibly see what their interest would be in it anymore."
By June, the design team decided to enlist British set designer Mark Fisher, who had worked on the previous Pink Floyd tour and on The Wall. "Brickman had a very clear conception of what it was that he wanted to do, and then it was down to Robbie and myself to develop the eventual way in which the thing was done," Fisher explains. "In this particular triumvirate, I was the source of eyes and the sketch artist, and Robbie was the sounding board for the logistics, the practicality of it. Marc was the sounding board for saying, 'Yeah, that's what I want,' or 'No, that isn't what I want.' And he and O'Rourke had a very clear idea of producing what he described as, 'a gateway to another world at the end of the stadium.'"
During the gestation period, the globe metamorphosed into a massive arch, which incorporates several tons of necessary steel. The first prototype was built in mid-September and other full-size models were built in practice construction runs that lasted until shortly after Christmas 1993. The fruit of their labors was then shipped over to America and put up in an airplane hangar in San Bernadino, California in February, where the production rehearsals -- and the real fun -- began in earnest.
"When we started rehearsals, Robbie and Mark handed the whole mess back to me and said, 'Now, make it look good,'" Brickman says. "So I come back into the picture at this point, and go into programming it second by second."
This show features equipment never before seen in a touring concert environment. Examples include: the much-touted, isotope- splitting, copper-vapor lasers (manufactured by London-based Oxford Lasers and distributed by Rocklite of Toronto), the Obie Company's brand-new Xescans, and Cameleon's latest Mark IV Telescans. I figured maybe I could go out and buy some
"Star Wars" lasers," Brickman says. "And at the time that I was doing that I got a call from Mark Loman at Rocklite describing this laser. So, I went out to Toronto and saw it, and thought it was great. And I have 2 complete, 50W, copper-vapor laser systems."
Warren "Wiggy" Toll, the tour's laser operator, says, "These lasers have never been used in this application before; they're used mainly for high-speed photography and nuclear research. Toll says. "Rocklite is the first laser company to use these lasers and Pink Floyd is the first tour to ever incorporate these types of lasers into a show. They've really just been used for lab research in the past -- they've certainly never been used in rock and roll, but I guess Pink Floyd is a good place to start."
The Obie Company certainly felt the same way about their new product, the Xescans. "The Xescans came out of the fact that I love Xenon sources, but they're very, very large and heavy," Brickman says. "I was walking around Hughes Aircraft with [Obie vice-president of sales] Mike Keeling and they had this light that actually doubles as a sun for their satellites to be tested on. I saw this light off their helicopters, and the Xescan came out of my wanting to use the helicopter search lights.
Brickman says. "When I saw the 2500W Telescans, I fell in love with them. I have to say it's probably the greatest light on the market now. There's nothing else that comes close to it at 90' in the air. It's just unbelievably clean and bright, and the color is just stunning." Azzam, who has been associated with Cameleon for the past 11 years, is a decidedly enthusiastic operator of the 36 powerful HMI fixtures. "There are 38 different gobo patterns and they are all strong enough to hit the musician from the top of the stage, which is about 75' tall," Azzam says. [A gobo is a movable shield, used for example to provide sharp cutoff of a stage light's field of illumination] "The new scrollers can withstand the 2500 HMI of heat -- most others would melt.
It's probably safe to say that Stagecraft built the largest mirror ball in existence for this tour. With a diameter of 16', the mirror ball rises up from the middle of the stadium field this time, to a final height of 70'. When it's finished its ascent, it bursts open, becomes about 24' wide, and reveals the 12000W Phoebus HMI fixture inside. The ball is also hit from both sides of the stadium by the tour's 4 Gladiator spotlights and by 12 VL2C automated luminaires, which are positioned underneath it.
In addition to the mirror ball, there are also quite a few purpose- fully familiar touches: the circular screen ringed with Vari*Lite automated luminaires, the inflatable pigs -- and the reappearance of original Floyd LD Peter Wynne Willson's liquid light show and spinning color-generators, the "Daleks."
The name Daleks comes from the robot extraterrestrials in the English TV program, Dr. Who; the actual fixtures are high-powered, four-sided rectangular spinning color boxes that come up out of the stage floor. Wholehog operator Gareth Williams has also worked with Brickman for the last five years on such tours as Genesis, Paul McCartney, and Yumi Matsutoya. Brought on only about a month before the tour began, Williams had never run a Wholehog board before, so he took a two-day crash course at AC Lighting. "A board is a board, once you learn the basic premise behind creating a cue, and it's very easy with the Wholehog, I must admit," Williams says. "It's very similar to a Vari*Lite board, which I've dabbled with."
The equipment run directly off the Wholehog includes: 12 Obie Xescans, 6 HMI shutter/dousers, 6 Le Maitre processor/smoke machines, 3 Jem Roadies, and
three Lightning Strikes strobes. The Wholehog also sends MIDI commands to two other computers, one of which drives the 600 channels of aircraft lights on the front panels of the stage (each one is an
individual channel), and the other which does the rotation of the periactoi and the spinners that come up out of the stage and rotate. "So I have my hands full," Williams says. "My role
during the show is just to operate all the cues on all the things that are attached. The hardest part is not getting absorbed in all that's going on."
Pink Floyd World Tour 1994 (U.S. Leg)
150 VL5 wash luminaires
Tour Designers: Marc Brickman, Mark Fisher, Robbie Williams