Pixel power lights up stages at Live 8 concerts

July 11, 2005
LED lighting fixtures from James Thomas Engineering played a prominent role in the Live 8 concerts held around the world on July 2.
UK lighting designer Peter Barnes wanted to create plenty of visual eye candy for both cameras and the live audience in what was primarily a daylight show in London's Hyde Park. Barnes' design was also adapted as a basis for the Paris show (see photo).
Live 8 in Paris

Requiring the brightest and highest-impact LED fixtures, Barnes chose 120 PixelLine 1044s and 14 of the new PixelLine 110ec fixures.

Barnes used 72 Pixelline 1044s to create zig-zagged LED borders to the onstage trusses, and then added another 40 around the PA wings in a U-shape. The 110s were used at the bottom of the PA scrims firing out into the audience.

Barnes also used PixelDrive to control the content running through the Pixel fixtures. The ability to drag, drop, rotate and resize video sources via PixeDrive proved invaluable for Barnes’ design, as none of the battens were rigged straight.

The batten’s own onboard effects can also be controlled from PixelDrive, and this made it possible to have fast strobe sequences, as seen with The Who and Paul McCartney.

The show lighting director for the BBC was Bernie Davies, and all lighting equipment for the Hyde Park show was supplied by PRG London.

New PixelDrive enhancements for Live 8

Pixel team’s Chris Ewington and Radical Lighting’s Simon Carter supplied the PixelDrive laptop for control, running the latest software version. To celebrate the Live 8 occasion, they added some additional new functionality and features which will now come with all PixelDrives.

Sound Trigger: enables any attribute of the fixture – such as pulse, colour, strobing – to be connected to a sound trigger. PixelDrive offers user-definable sound triggers that synch precisely with the music, using elements of the sound frequency spectrum e.g bass, hi-hats or guitar.

Particle Generator: This functions similarly to visualisation programmes on media players, producing movement via oscillations, bar graphs etc – this is a really excellent feature for busking and improvising. It allows large quantities of Pixel products to be programmed exceptionally quickly.

For Kasabian at the Wireless Festival, the Thursday before Live 8 – held on the same site - Ewington and Carter helped LD Vince Foster programme a stunning Pixel show in just 20 minutes.

Preset Function: This allows the user to take a snapshot of PixelDrive from the laptop and store as a playback on the lighting console’s Cue Stack, from where all the attributes can be tweaked.

All these new features make PixelDrive even quicker and easier to programme.

Interview Bubble

Ten PixelLine 1044s and PixelPUPS were used to internally light the onsite interview bubble in Hyde Park. These were supplied by ELP (LD James Campbell) and chosen for their low heat properties and high quality light output.

Another ten 1044s and 10 PixelPAR 90s were used to externally and internally up-light the interview bubble.

In Paris:

The lighting rig for Live 8 Paris, staged in front of the majestic Palace of Versailles, also featured the distinctive look of zig-jagged PixelLines. They utilised eighty 1044 battens, supplied by main lighting contractor Regie Lumiere. This was also run on a PixelDrive system triggered from the WholeHog II console.

In Rome:

French distributor Sonoss supplied the Rome event via locally-based Limelite with PixelLine 1044s and 110s. These were used downstage for framing the stage and upstage for making an arched entrance either side.