October’s dance music extravaganza, Sensation Dubai, saw Meydan Racecourse transformed into an ‘Ocean of White’ against a stunning visual landscape. To discover more, Sound & Stage caught up with Barry Pavic, managing director of Envie Events, and project manager Ed Jarman from Creative Technology Middle East.
Barry Pavic: Meydan is a dynamic venue for various purposes, but it has its pros and cons operationally. One of the main reasons for choosing this venue is the unique and easy accessibility of the venue location itself, an enormous parking capacity — which is extremely crucial for high density shows in terms of logistics — and, not to forget that this is one of the largest development structures in the region. The space in itself provides unique opportunities for global shows like Sensation. Sensation is globally renowned for its spectacular indoor events. However, a world-exclusive outdoor edition requires technical adaptations and challenges. Together with a strong local crew and with the help of our Holland technical team we were able to manoeuvre the location to best adapt to our requirements.
Ed Jarman: We provided a 20mm LED screen upstage centre that was 20m wide by 3.5m high. Then we provided a curved LED screen — this was our brand new Panasonic 6mm product, which CTME has recently taken delivery of 300sqm. This curved screen went around the front of the DJ booth and — if you were to stretch it out — it was 15m long by 1m high. We used it on a job prior to this, but it was only a small event. With the quantity that we needed for Sensation, this was the first opportunity to get most of it out of the door at once. It all went to plan, other than getting it in on time which, when you’re dealing with freighting companies and customs and things like that it’s always a bit of a worry, but other than that we didn’t have any problems. We also had two big screens left and right of the stage which were 8.5m x 6.5m. They were about 51sqm each so there was a little issue with that in respect of there was a frame that went around the screen — initially the frame was too big so we had to add more panels of LED to make it fit, but other than that it all went smoothly.
EJ: The actual event itself was on the night of October 30th. We started loading in on the day of the 17th and we completed during the afternoon of the 28th, which gave some rehearsal time on the evening of both the 28th and 29th. Last year was the first time that Sensation had been to Dubai. This year was all about LED and cameras, last year was all about projections and cameras — they were completely different events really. When you’re using projections it is kind of easier in one way, but then it’s more difficult in another — with LED it’s very modular.
BP: The visual experience of Sensation is unparalleled to date. To ensure that quality, most of the stage props and show signatures were shipped from Holland via sea in five containers. In order to mitigate risk and save costs we try and source many things including AV, sound, video, special effects, stage building (scaffolding), ground support locally without compromising the quality of the show.
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EJ: It was all controlled from FOH off a media server control that was part of the tour. All the feeds from FOH were then sent to the relevant screens as were needed by fibre, then in and around the DJ box we had three Panasonic RoboCams that were all controlled by FOH. Those feeds came back from the stage to FOH via fibre, then were mixed with graphics overlaid on top of them back to the screens.
EJ: Normally Sensation is done in the round so that the audience is completely circling the stage, but at Meydan it’s a very long and wide space, which means it’s played with the crowd only on one side. What has traditionally been a 360-degree show turned into 180 degrees so, on the production side, things would have had to change. On our side, from the original spec we would have had screens both sides facing around the circle at 12 o’clock, 6 o’clock, three and nine. But this time we just had the screens facing one way.
BP: Sensation is unique in the sense that it is not simply a DJ show – we ensure an A to Z, entry-to-exit experience. This includes the unity of dressing in white, spectacular acrobatic shows, stunning special effects, fountains shooting high off the stage and state-of-the-art pyrotechnics. Sensation is known for a centre-stage show, while our current venue forces us to transform that into an end-stage format. Given the success of the first two editions, we are looking into the planning the third edition and are contemplating a different venue where we can fully deploy a centre-stage format.