Red Letter Days

RedFest DXB took over Media City for a Valentine's weekend to remember
Chart topping acts kept the crowds entertained at RedFest DXB 2015.
Chart topping acts kept the crowds entertained at RedFest DXB 2015.

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Returning to Dubai for a second year, RedFest DXB took over the Media City Amphitheatre for a Valentine’s weekend to remember. Sound & Stage spoke to some of the people keeping busy behind the scenes to find out more about how the two-day festival was lovingly brought to life...

Making its debut back in 2014, the inaugural RedFest DXB arrived in Dubai promising a festival feel and a roster of musical guests with mass market appeal. From pop idols such as Jessie J and Rita Ora to urban icons like Tinie Tempah and indie rockers The Lumineers, the line-up for the 2014 edition read like a who’s who of current chart toppers — a factor which saw a sell-out crowd partying for two days straight. With the debut event proving to be a success all round, we couldn’t help wondering what organisers, Done Events, might choose to do differently this time around.

Thomas Ovesen, COO of Done Events, explains: “The plan was to develop a two-day festival event that — in addition to showcasing the hottest artists and Virgin Radio playlist hits — would also offer a variety of non-music experiences. And so we envisage that, year on year, we will expand and add on such content as we have done [for 2015] by adding the Reebok Classic stage and doubling the promenade stall area and food offerings. In the coming years, EDM elements will also be looked into. On the ticket category front, we decided to simplify the offering and upgrade the RedSTYLE package to include elevated lounge access.”

One area that remains unchanged from the inaugural edition has been the appointment of local event production company SNAP to turn the site into a concert venue fit for thousands of fans, as well as catering to the variety of artists on the line-up.

Malcolm Giles, Done Events production manager, explains: “This year the lighting/video design was put together by the Team At SNAP in conjunction with myself as the PM for Done Events. Darren Hodge and Ross Marshall from SNAP came up with a design for both the lighting and video that is out of the box and has elements of sophistication, yet still retains the pop look and is functional for all of the artists. The design was based around a StageCo Touring Roof, which gave us the clean look we wanted for this event.”

Giles adds: “The stage build up started on the 4th of February. Challenges included trying to build in a very confined area and limit damage to the site, all within a five-day build time. We had to build a little over the lake in order for artists to get backstage, but other than that it’s been a straightforward stage build.”

While the stage build itself may have been straightforward, any event that features a host of pop acts on one
bill will naturally see differences in what each artist’s team requires. With this in mind, and with RedFest’s festival-style approach to bringing each act on stage within a quick turnaround time, the team had to be careful to come up with a ‘one size fits all’ lighting concept that would keep everyone happy.

Darren Hodge, SNAP project manager/lighting designer, told Sound & Stage: “For the amount of acts performing, SNAP designed a festival lighting system to accommodate all. We chose fixtures which we knew would be accepted by the incoming lighting designers, so went for a mixture of products from Vari*lite and Martin Professional. We had a selection of consoles and an artnet interface system, which could accept any type of console and swap control to it very quickly. To accommodate pre-programming for incoming acts we also set up a Wysiwyg suite backstage."

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Hodge continues: "This meant that whilst one act’s lighting designer had control of the system, another could sit and virtually see his show coming together. Along with the main stage the whole experience was enhanced by LED lighting throughout the venue including the VIP seating block, surrounding landscaping, entrance archways and a second lighting system for the Reebok stage.”

Taking place across two days, the festival influence behind RedFest DXB is apparent in all areas of the event, not just in the technical demands of the ever-changing artist roster taking to the stage. While, admittedly, there are no vast fields packed with row after row of tents like you would find elsewhere in the world, the site does pay homage to the classic festival vibe where possible.

Ovesen reveals: “The partnership with Virgin Radio is what also defines the music policy, i.e. very current and relevant artists with hits in the charts and regional youth appeal — but always with the addition of a few talents reaching beyond the Virgin Radio appeal. It is important for us to bring artists to the market that have either not performed here yet or would not be playing large scale events had it not been for RedFest DXB.”

He continues: “The camping element is a very important aspect of the type of festivals mentioned [e.g. Glastonbury]. Due to local regulations we just cannot offer this hence, for the time being, we have to make all-day, multi-act billed events work. I think RedFest DXB is a proof that it does work. The layout of the venue with two stages, a promenade area, boat house bar and a ticket policy that — against the norm here in the UAE — allows all ticket holders access to the front of stage [creates] the perfect set-up. Combined with non-music activities and more than 14 hand-picked food and beverage outlets, it is an event and venue where fans can spend hours entertaining themselves.”

And, thanks to the screens that SNAP provided, the entertainment could be enjoyed all across the site with a few tricks that ensured punters didn’t have to feel as though they were ‘missing out’ when at the bar, restrooms, or food stalls.

Hodge explains: “The video was split into two areas; IMAG screens for sponsor branding and camera feed, and a split rear screen that was used to add look and feel creatively to each act. Rather than go for the standard 16:9 format we decided to challenge our camera operators and use a 1:1 ratio which meant the performers were larger than normal, giving all inside the venue a feel of being closer to the action."

"We utilised enough LED screen to fill the available space in the video wings, enabling us to keep client and sponsor branding visible even whist the acts were performing. Across the whole of this surface we also placed a dynamic background layer. For the rear screen we used a super high res 4mm product, split into seven segments — six columns and one large centre panel. The content for the rear canvas was generated from the artists’ video directors and from SNAP’s library of video imagery with optional camera feed also being played through our media servers.”

For a concert that’s only two years young, it seems as though RedFest DXB has been on the scene for years. While we may be a long way from getting Glastonbury in the desert, it is somewhat pleasing to see concepts that come along and attempt to break the mould.

And, judging by the successful second edition that rolled in and out of town with a bang last month, RedFest looks set to keep bringing its brand of pop-up festival fever to the region for many years more.

Leading the charge

Thomas Ovesen – COO, Done Events
Malcolm Giles – Production manager, Done Events
Darren Hodge – Project manager/lighting designer, SNAP
Ross Marshall – Video director/content creation, SNAP
Al Woods – Audio project manager, Delta Sound
Markus Olma – Project manager, AES/StageCo

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Naturally, any outdoor music event would not be possible without a good dose of portable power. Alan Dearie, owner of Gulf Show Power, talks us through the details for RedFest DXB 2015…

S&S: Talk us through the event's power requirements...
The power requirements are fairly standard, with Gulf Show Power providing generators and using the house power to cover all the power requirements for the show power, production cabins, artist area, sponsors, F&B, site lighting, main entrance and exit lights.

S&S: How did you guarantee safety during set-up and the show days?
Before Gulf Show Power arrives on site we do a site survey. Based on the site survey, we do a risk assessment and method statement. The main distribution equipment has MCB Circuit protection and fixed/variable RCD Units (Personal Protection) with units ranging from domestic 13 amp inputs to over 2000 amp. We put most effort into the maintenance of electrical systems and equipment when it comes to preventing electrical accidents. The fact is that people are the cause of most accidents through inadequate working practices and procedures. Gulf Show Power draw on industry-wide experience in helping to develop bespoke LV electrical safety rules and procedures. Also, our staff possess knowledge and experience, and are under such degree of supervision as may be appropriate for the nature of the work.

S&S: Do you think there is enough emphasis on safety within the regional events industry?
Most companies supply good equipment and look after the health & safety of the installation, however there are still a lot of local companies that do not follow procedures - where they still have twisted joints and have no protection of their cables. This is obviously a danger to anyone working in the vicinity and can also cause fires.

S&S: What equipment did Gulf Show Power supply to the site?
We supplied nine generators totalling 2,200KVA, over 3,500M of cables for single and 3 phase supplies, 30 distribution boards ranging from 16Amp single phase to 1000Amp 3 Phase, over 500m of Festoon lighting plus various metal halide, halogen and fluorescent lights throughout the site.

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KIT LIST
PA System:
›› Left and Right L’Acoustics K1 system comprising:
›› 12 K1 & 6 K1 Subs with 3 Kara underhangs per side
›› 24 SB 28 and dV Dosc front fills
›› Side hands comprised of K2

FOH control:
›› 2x Digidesign Avid profile V3, waves 9 enabled
›› 2x local rack containing 4 x DSP and an Eaton 1500 UPS
›› 2x TC Electronics D2 Delay units
›› 2 x Tascam 2200CDR CD Player/media recorder
›› 2x 4-way 100m madi cables
›› 4x Digidesign 48 input/ 8 output stage racks

Monitor control:
›› 2x Yamaha PM5D RH consoles
›› 2x 2-way PW800 PSU and an Eaton 1500 UPS

Monitor, Side Fills & Subs:
›› 16x L’Acoustics 115XT HI Q loudspeakers
›› 12x LA8 mixes for the above
›› 4x L’Acoustics Arc Side fills (2 per side)
›› 6x L’Acoustics SB218 Side fill subs (3 per side)
›› 2x LA48 racks to drive the above
›› 4x SB18 Drum fill, DJ Fill sub bass units
›› 1x LA8 to drive the above
›› 1x Thumper amp

RF & microphones:
›› 2x Shure 6-way UR4D systems
›› 2x Sennheiser 2050 8-way IEM systems

Lighting fixtures:
›› 38 VL 3000/Alpha spot
›› 30 VL3500/Alpha wash
›› 30 Mac Auras
›› 40 Sharpys
›› 30 Martin Atomic 3000
›› 30 Atomic Scrollers
›› 8 8 Lite Moles
›› 4 Haze machines
›› 4 Fans
›› 1 Grand Ma series 2 Console
›› 1 Roadhog Full Boar
›› 4 3k Gladiators

IMAG screens:
›› Stage left & stage right both 9mm LED screens, 7m x 1m

(Audio supplier – Delta Sound Dubai)

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