GLP, MA Lighting, and Evoke Studios collaborate on Ed Sheeran’s Mathematics stadium world Tour
GLP DEVELOPS XDC1 AND DEBUTS 162 FIXTURES FOR ED SHEERAN’S MATHEMATICS TOUR
Ed Sheeran’s long‐term production designer, Mark Cunniﬀe not only delivered his most expansive set design ever for the current Mathematics stadium world tour, but almost certainly his most innovative, with its roofless, in the round multi‐mast presentation. It also marked the debut of 162 of GLP’s new hybrid fixture, the XDC1 IP Hybrid, purposely designed for the tour and developed over most of the previous year. These were supplied by production vendor, Lights Control Rigging (LCR) .
Featuring a cornucopia of lighting and video, conventional trussing has been replaced on the tour by six ground‐ supported 32‐metre‐high masts, each featuring seven concentric rings, from which all the equipment is suspended. This includes the majority of the XDC1s, which are the single biggest eﬀect in the production. On top of this is a 44‐tonne halo on steel works, which carries the balance of the XDC1s, which shoot their powerful beams down onto stage from the very top. Cunniﬀe explained, “I have always wanted to put Ed in the round, but it requires a diﬀerent discipline. I have a problem with shows with structural pillars, so I went away and looked at how we could avoid the obstructions with a design that had never been done before.”
He took the idea to Jeremy Lloyd of Wonder Works and Rasti Bartek at engineering consultancy, Cundall.
“I asked whether it was feasible for a structure that needed to be put up in two‐to‐three days and taken down in one; because of the logistics involved in transport, we needed to produce three separate steel systems.” The artist signed oﬀ the design once it had been rendered in VR. “He was bowled over,” confirmed the designer, “and even though it represented a sizeable investment his management said ‘let’s do it’.” This was back in 2019 before COVID hit—which gave the creative team time to finesse the design.
When planning his lighting spec, Mark Cunniﬀe’s first consideration was that everything needed to be IP rated. Seeking a wide, colourful flood he approached Mike Oates and Ryan Hopkins at LCR, so often his go‐to guys over the years, and they, in turn, approached GLP.
ED SHEERAN TOUR GOES grandMA3
Mark Cunniﬀe specified two grandMA3 full‐size and two grandMA3 light consoles complete with six processing units, all running grandMA3 software and supplied by lighting rental specialist LCR. Over 300 moving lights grace the plot, plus 520 linear video fixtures, which in addition to the playback video and IMAG mix – cut by Phil Mead – are running through four disguise servers on 6 x HD feeds. Each mast features 7 concentric scenic rings faced in video product onto which the majority of the lighting system is rigged.
Lighting and video are run via two separate fibre networks, so the consoles are fully interchangeable and inter‐programmable as well as the set up providing full redundancy. One grandMA3 is running the lights while the other is triggering the four video servers using 6 x HD outputs as well as all the Notch treatment and processing. The show is run completely live not timecoded, so it’s really important for the operators to have a great sense of music and rhythm as well as being aces on the consoles. Ed Sheeran himself also triggers some ‘big moment’ lighting eﬀects utilizing the grandMA3 I/O Node to which he sends a MIDI note from his pedals, and it fires lighting cues during three songs, “Bloodstream,” “You Need Me” and the show opener, “Tides".
EVOKE STUDIOS VISUALS AT THE CENTRE OF ED SHEERAN’S IN‐THE‐ ROUND LIVE EXPERIENCE
Evoke Studios was brought in by Mark Cunniﬀe of Twotrucks Productions. “I asked Evoke Studios on board alongside a few others as this project was such a huge undertaking, too big for just my studio to deliver,” he says. “I don’t believe a show necessarily needs 20‐30 pieces of jaw‐dropping content, just five or six visual moments that are especially impressive or unexpected, with the rest of the show used to build context. For this tour, I gave Evoke the responsibility of creating those big moments.” Twotrucks Studios used Notch and VR to show Sheeran their vision in real‐time, having also used Evoke’s stencilled mood boards of their 3D designs. The team developed ideas to craft content, materials, and 3D models for several applications, then imported these stencils into Notch to light and animate the scenes.
As well as developing video content for the 10 songs, Evoke Studios together with Matt Cromwell provided playback system consultancy, disguise media server programming and workflow, and content previsualisation.
The tour’s production director and FOH sound engineer is Chris Marsh, Helen Himmons is the production manager and stage manager Matt Caley is keeping everything in order in the performance area.
Photos © Ralph Larmann