Current Issue : July - August 2021




To The FREE Digital Magazine And Newsletters

Articles May-June 2021

Pursuing the Pro Audio Trail

In conversation with Caroline Moss and Sue Gould

PT got in touch with the Pro AVL Asia magazine core team of Editor - Caroline Moss and Sales Director - Sue Gould, who between them boast of over three decades of experience in the pro audio industry..... read more

NJSM Marks a Milestone in the Business of Sound

From Rental Company to manufacturer and innovator, Nixon Johnny has guided and grown NJSM from a two-person company to a fifty-person company, continuing to expand into virtual events with NJSM Virtual Studio..... read more

Tech Savvy Environment for T-Systems

Eyte Technologies installs high-tech AV Solution at T-System’s Experience Center facilitating brand value and delivering superior customer experience..... read more

Conversations with SudeepAudio

Sudeep Audio, one of India’s first pro audio web store selling studio software and equipment online commenced its YouTube Channel, ConverSAtions, in 2011 to share the journey of Indian Sound Engineers..... read more

Show More

Backstage Funstage

U2 have come and gone. The Irish Four Leaved Clover brought with them all the magic we attribute to magical Irish creatures. 

Onstage the band was in their element. They took their fans on a smooth fluid ride through one of the greatest Rock albums ever fashioned and then ran us through landmark moments on their journey from their beginning’s to our hospitable city.

Supporting them was a cast of some of the finest and most committed stage hands I have seen working together. 

Backstage the team worked as effortlessly as the Band were on stage. Each complex part assembled perfectly and slotted in so easily. Every guy knew his job backwards. And waited around casually seemingly aimlessly until he gently steeped forward added his unique skill to the stage ‘compilation’ if that is an appropriate word.

Each piece of set was designed to be piled or lifted into or onto each other so cleverly it seemed organic and elementary. Simple logic delivered with extreme engineering. It was a joy.

Compare that to the usually chaotic production scenes we see in our country. In our defence, the U2 stage was designed by geniuses harnessing the full benefits of computerised calculation and design. And each part practiced over the run of the shows. In India most large scale productions are One Offs.

Rarely is the entire production designed by a Single agency. Usually the set designer puts forward a concept drawing and hands it over the production to build and then the light sound and video boys fit their equipment into wherever they find space. Hot heads, fraying tempers, burning sun and endless batata vadas and chai keep everybody going and together.

Somehow it all gets done and everybody goes home happy. All the temporary angst calmed down by sheer exhaustion or the cold beer of the happy after party.

Two extreme ends of the spectrum. Work ethic and approach to the job. Super organisation and Super chaos both leading to fun, memorable moments for the audience.

Backstage is a crazy life but it’s addictive. The adrenalin rush must be experienced. The short and frantic journey from the first truck driving in to the clean up after is both exhausting and exhilarating. Creativity, “Jugad” (is that the same thing) meet discipline and practice. The seemingly mundane spiced with some of the most colourful characters you will ever find gathered in one tight place.

I have never met a stage technician who is in it for the money. There is something within him or her that is addicted to being there. That’s the only way I can describe it. Do you have a better reason?

Each piece of set was designed to be piled or lifted into or onto each other so cleverly it seemed organic and elementary. Simple logic delivered with extreme engineering. It was a joy.

U2 Joshua Tree Tour India; Pic Courtesy: Ross Stewart

Over the years I have noticed a general calming down of the backstage atmosphere. As the work is getting more complex – there is greater compartmentalisation of each function. This inevitably ends up meaning a greater interdependency of each function.

Earlier the Speakers were stacked on independent platforms on either side of the stage. Sound techies were rigid on size and position and heights. If the black boxes got in the way of sightlines and other equipment – it was just Too bad.  Everybody else moved or we were threatened with bad sound leading to total collapse. With the advent of flying rigs the stage guys became a little more friendly to the trussing guys. The set guys breathed a sigh of relief as their beautiful stage was not boxed by ugly carpeted boxes. Three sets of happier people thanks to technology.

As LED screens took over and we got free of the demands of projection, the lighting guys got freer to experiment with more dazzling visuals. This in turn drew in visual artists and video craftsmen who brought with them another language and dimension to live shows.

Apparently the LED screen assembled for the U2 concert was the largest LED screen ever assembled for anywhere. And we in Mumbai got to see it. Fitting for Bollywood. It was big and loud and filled with amazing visuals. And for me the best part was the sense of ‘We’ve only just begun’.

Do I sound like an old cynic when I feel what we’ve pretty much done with huge leaps of sound and lighting tech – for at least a while.  Sure there will be incremental steps but I don’t expect to see anything like the huge leaps I expect out of video technology over the next few years.

I really would not be surprised if someday soon the entire set, staging and periphery will be made up of video pixels embedded into some magical invention. Probably motorised and computer controlled. Which brings me to another world that I expect will dominate Set Design.

Motion Control! How long before the U2 screen gets picked up, split into pieces and distributed over the entire stadium? Science fiction - today. But I’m certain some kid in some garage is sitting there wondering ‘Why Not?’

That’s just the traditional technologies. How about some other disruptive technology comes in and make everything we know redundant. Perhaps Robots?

What if you entered a stadium and there was nothing. Just nothing. And then some strange sound creeps up (Those damn sound boys are not going anywhere – No matter how much everything else gets disrupted).  Suddenly this robot rises up. All 50 feet of it. Shakes himself awake and proceeds to tromp over the entire stadium giving every seat a front row view all the while doing some amazing things or perhaps simply whispering a quiet mesmerising version of an age old fairy tale.

Backstage – the possibilities are limitless. Grab your boots, clear your minds and join in the fun.

I promise you the ride of a lifetime.