The CPL crew led by Lee Gruszeckyj were all delighted to be back working on a festival site again, providing video design and production for Camper Calling 2021 which took place over four days at Ragley Hall, Warwickshire during the UK’s August Bank Holiday weekend.
The festival, organised by Jazz Events, was back with an action-packed bang, complete with a lively musical megamix and lots of additional fun and adventure.
CPL working via Urban Audio Productions supplied a video equipment package comprising screens, cameras, and control. The last event was in 2019, and each year the production values and scale of Camper Calling are increased alongside the great attention to detail that ensures it retains its friendly boutique style.
The big change up on the video front from 2019 was rigging the side stage IMAG screens in portrait format, a move suggested early in the design process by CPL to frame artist close-ups and full-length shots beautifully and elegantly. With this decision made at the outset, all the bespoke content could be tailored to fit.
The two IMAG screens each measured 4.4 metres wide by 6 metres tall and were complemented by five columns of screen onstage which were varying widths – tapering down as they went offstage, all with a 4.8 metre drop.
All the screen was from CPL’s stock of Roe CB5, and 115 panels in total were on the project. This was driven by Brompton SS40 processors and XD boxes for distribution, running via a fibre system with loop redundancy.
Three operated Sony HXC 100 HD cameras were positioned, two either side of the FOH platform – for cross shooting – and one hand-held in the pit.
The HD camera feeds were augmented with three hot-head remote sources, two deployed above the stage area at the top of the front legs, with a third on a mobile tripod which could be finally positioned once the different band’s blacklines were in place.
Lee and the team had a visuals cabin operational HQ set up backstage into which they built a custom control unit based around a Barco E2 switcher for screen management. A disguise media server was used for various artist graphics and content as well as for public announcements.
As soon as the event was confirmed to go ahead, Lee contacted all the artist’s production directly and asked them to submit material from which the CPL team created individual 30 – 60 second intro sequences to ramp up the excitement as they took the stage.
Doing this in advance also ensured slick changeovers and avoided the scenario of content of varying qualities turning up right at the last minute that was not formatted for the system.
As soon as each band hit the first bars of the opening number, the video screens all flipped to IMAG, and Lee cut an animated and hi-impact mix using a Panasonic 410 with some additional keys and aux’s to send different shots to the stage and side screens.
A deliberate creative decision was made to steer away from too much in-show playback visuals this year, keeping the look and vibe fresh and invigorating, and to assist in getting the huge amount of energy coming off the stage right out into the audience.
To fly the side screens, CPL also supplied six ProLyft ½ tonne hoists, while the onstage screen was attached to a dedicated truss with catenary wires and clips, as well as a full set of Riedel Bolero wireless comms for the crew.
Joining Lee was Matt Dodd, Tom Wheelan, Simon Haydon, James Wagstaff, Phil Manson, Derek Gruszeckyj and Bernie Totten.
DMX control of the LED screen was provided to the lighting department, so they could adjust the brightness, and a fibre feed was provided to FOH for the Manics’ own video director to hook in their content, with a feed back to the video cabin for outputting to screen.
The first night was a sizzling hot Ibiza-style dance-out with a great house, trance, and techno DJ line up, followed by two nights of foot-tapping tunes from artists everyone knows and loves, with Supergrass and Embrace headlining on Saturday, and Pixie Lott followed by the Manic Street Preachers closing the event on the Sunday.
CPL has worked on Camper Calling since it was launched in 2016, and Lee comments that although it felt a little strange initially – after the pandemic shutdown – being back on site with a full-on live audience giving it large and having enormous fun, it was also “very special”.
The great synergy between everyone involved in production, backstage and behind the scenes continues to grow along with the success and profile of the event itself.
Photo: © Tom Horton