Bringing street magic to arena audiences
The duo’s latest live tour, ‘Cirkeln’ (Circle) takes them back to their homeland, with 44 dates across Sweden in a wide range of venues, from traditional theatres through to outdoor arenas. Live events specialist Cloud Production is responsible for translating the magicians’ deftness and sleight of hand for packed auditorium audiences each evening.
“We worked closely with Brynolf and Ljung on the production design, and a key goal from the outset was to ensure the audience feels as though they can see every stage of the trick, not just what we choose to present on the big screen,” begins Cloud Production’s Ulric Flood. “All of the video production for each show is live content; there’s no prerecorded footage, so there is a huge amount of work for the production team to do each night.”
Each show has five cameras in action; a pair of URSA Mini Pro as the main cameras complemented by three remote Sony PTZ cameras, including one rigged in the stage roof truss to provide an unusual overhead shot.
“We’ve rigged a URSA Mini Pro with a Canon HJ14 zoom as a wireless handheld unit, allowing us to get extremely close up to the action on stage,” explains Ulric. “This unit is particularly useful when we have people from the audience come up on stage. We have very little control over the lighting conditions in an auditorium, but we can still get great shots of the audience moving from their seating, albeit underexposed, up to a fully lit stage.”
Content for each show is produced in 1080p25 and is transmitted via fiber channels, or wirelessly, through to a portable production desk built around an ATEM Production Studio 4K ATEM Production Studio 4K switcher for the live program mix.
“Although all of the video in the show is live from that evening’s performance, we do of course have a sequence of scenes that we work towards, so we’ve used a lot of macro programming on the ATEM, because we do output video feed to a lot of different sources,” Ulric continues. “Having the ability to control those sources, and things like audio levels as they come into the production desk, but then go out to the PA, helps us switch swiftly and smoothly during a show. For example, part of the show takes place outside, so we did a pre mix with live cameras filming outside the venue, and then mixed that audio with the switcher.”
Working in a variety of smaller venues, the production desk was often located backstage and out of sight of the sound tech working in the venue. To keep the systems streamlined and effective, a stage box into Ulric’s PPU connected through to the sound tech’s Allen & Heath dLive C1500 front of house.
Macros are also used to program specific camera colours, iris and output values against key show elements, with additional adjustments and matching managed using a DaVinci Resolve Mini Panel. A Smart Videohub handles all of the signal management, outputting the camera sources and PGM to a multiviewer. Clean feeds are also sent to monitors for crew members front of house and backstage, as well as to a unique sectional 7x3m LED screen at the back of the stage.
“The show screen is very unusual, as it is split into seven 3m high rectangular motorised sections, which can be moved back and forth throughout the performance,” Ulric explains. “The program mix and two AUX are fed through a D3 media server, and that allows us to bring a lot of energy to each evening’s performance by producing unique visuals for each trick.”
Ulric explains that Cloud Production’s workflow has been designed to handle a range of live events, from festivals and outdoor concerts through to arena tours such as Cirkeln, and its flexibility has been key to its success.
“There are some handy little features that are incredibly helpful in live environments; for example, we can monitor and control the vision mixer remotely. That allows us to check our camera angles and ensure they are set up perfectly, relative to each venue. In fact, as part of our regular pre-show preparation, we head out into the seating and check the camera angles still work. It helps to avoid any nasty surprises."
“The touring schedule for Brynolf and Ljung is relentless, and we don’t have long in between shows to rig, test, perform and then de-rig before the next show, which may require a completely different approach,” concludes Ulric. “Our workflow not only ensures we have a flexible platform that we can easily adapt, but it also gives us consistently great results every night, so we can concentrate on delivering a magical show experience.”