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Radiohead revolutionise live performances with CCTV technology

The Background

Radiohead, an internationally recognised 5-piece rock band, have a reputation for innovative, creative music, selling millions of records worldwide.  Each new Radiohead album outlines a new direction, always achieving critically acclaimed success for the band.

Radiohead are currently playing a number of European Festival dates before headlining the V Festival in Chelmsford and Stafford in August.  The tour will enable Radiohead to debut new material that the band has been working on in the studio, much to the delight of their loyal fan base.

During live performances, Radiohead maintain their cutting edge feel with groundbreaking lighting design by Creative Director, Andi Watson.

The Challenge

Central to Radiohead's tour is the use of ‘covert style' video recording, which incorporates the use of video and CCTV during live performances.  This is an element of the live performance that has been developed over the past four tours by Andi Watson.  When the current tour was planned it became obvious that there was a requirement for high quality remotely controlled pan/tilt/zoom dome cameras, due to the demanding environment.

Andi Watson commented ‘The main challenges we face are the incredibly dynamic lighting, the fast and sometimes unpredictable movements of the band and lining up shots in near total darkness'.

The Solution

After extensive research and demonstrations, Andi Watson selected six Li-Lin fast dome cameras and their associated keyboard controllers to video the tour.

The six cameras are controlled during the performance by three operators each controlling two cameras.  Presets are used to set camera ‘target' combinations for specific songs.  The position, iris, zoom etc settings are adjusted live by the camera operators.  The six video signals are fed into computers running specialist software to extract and manipulate the camera images according to control data sent live from the lighting control desk.  The computers then output 18 individual video feeds that go to projectors and/or video screens.

The Benefits

The reliability and programmability of the Li-Lin equipment used has enabled Andi Watson to push the boundaries of technology much more he has been able to with the systems used in the past.  Andi commented ‘the cameras have behaved very well under the arduous conditions of live touring.  The resulting images have been consistent and of very high quality'.  He continued, ‘Hopefully the new keyboard controllers will help us even more.'

As a result of this project video equipment suppliers Scenographic Ltd, who work in conjunction with Andi Watson, now own a fully flight cased touring CCTV system which they intend to use on future touring projects.  The cameras have been housed in specially designed and constructed enclosures and the whole system is easily reconfigured depending upon the application.

It is fully intended to keep on developing the use of ‘covert' video with Radiohead and other clients, producing professional quality video support with the emphasis on creating a coherent visual element to all live performances.

Andi Watson has been very happy with the resulting video projection achieved from using Li-Lin CCTV equipment, ‘The Radiohead tour has seen us trying to create a coherent visual spectacle involving the musicians, video, lighting and set.  The Merit Li-Lin camera and control system we have used has enabled us to reliably and creatively incorporate multiple live video images into the design'.  He commented further, ‘the units have shown their durability, quality and reliability throughout the tour and we look forward to escalating the use of video on future projects'.

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