Wednesday, 11th January 2023 10:00
Hip-hop artist and producer Kid Cudi recently wrapped up the European leg of his "To the Moon 2022 World Tour" with dates in Berlin, Amsterdam, London, Brussels, Paris and Milan that featured an extensive Ayrton lighting rig.
Lighting director and programmer Austin Schneider, who does lighting design and programming for US-based full-service production comapny Raw Cereal, chose Ayrton Khamsin LED profiles and MagicBlade-R LED moving lights for the European shows. The dates followed the North American leg of the tour and a stop in Japan. During the same period, Kid Cudi released his eighth studio album "Entergalactic", the companion to an animated special of the same name.
For the European tour he handled lighting only, modifying the design of the just concluded North American tour. "We kept the idea of the North American run and simplified it with a rig of Ayrton fixtures thaat always have really great colour, look good on camera and punch through the video," Schneider explains. "Kid Cudi likes to connect with his fans, so the show focused on IMAG with two vertical screens with Notch and no other content."
As the name of the tour suggets, the show had a space theme with the European dates "embodying the feel of walking out of a spaceship," Schneider says, "with low-lying fog, pixels with creative effects and big shapes for the audience. The Ayrton fixtures delivered space-themes looks that enabled fans to be in the same world that Kid Cudi inhabited. They also allowed us to react fast: Kid Cudi might walk into a rehearsal and ask for somthing different and we needed the fixtures to be able to execute that."
Schneider was challenged to assemble a rig that was scalable and suited an array of environments since the six European venues featured two arenas, three music halls and a club. "It had to be very flexible," he says, "big enough for the arenas but able to scale down for the more intimate spaces."
He's used Ayrton fixtures a lot recently, including on the European leg of The Strokes world tour. "I've always been a big fan of Ayrton," Schneider says. "Most shows I've done in 2022 have had at least one type of Ayrton fixture on them, there are a lot of creative and unique fixtures in the Ayrton line."
UK-based Neg Earth Lights provided all the lighting and rigging for Kid Cudi's European shows, furnishing approximately 60 Khamsins and numerous MagicBlade-Rs.
"The entire aerial rig consisting of four linear trusses was Ayrton with the MagicBlades lining the front of the trusses," Schneider explains. "The Khamsins are so bright and have a lot of features. They were rock solid, their focus range so sharp with no chromatic aberration. They have a really wide zoom range and they didn't lose brightness.
"The Khamsins were compact, easy to hang, powerful and fast. Their CMY red is actually red, and I could de-saturate and not blow colours out. The variable CTO was really great for backlight for IMAG; I could roll the frost in, have variable CTO and get a really good look for camera. The video team really liked that, it was nice that everyone enjoyed the fixtures: The screens director and I were both happy.”
While the MagicBlade-Rs are “effects-centric fixtures,” Schneider liked “having a bar yoked to the front truss to create big shapes, unique aerial looks that held up and punched through,” he says. “I did a lot of bit-mapping on the console to run video across the fixtures for unique effects in the air.”
He calls the MagicBlades: “360 infinite pan and tilt really unique. You can make consistently spinning, windmilly effects; a good trick to have in your pocket. Not every fixture can do that. I can also build interesting positions and creatively use pixels to get unique sheets and textures in the air.”
Schneider controlled the lighting via three grandMA3 full-size consoles. Neg Earth provided the active, backup and tech consoles for the tour; Raw Cereal has its own grandMA3 full size back home.
“We’re a full grandMA house,” Schneider reports. “The console is so reliable; it’s the tool that does whatever you need it to do, no matter how simple or complicated. I’ve been using the grandMA3 (Hardware) all year now and am a big fan of the new screens and layout, which are fast and so responsive.