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General Articles

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The Delta Heavy Tour with Sasha and Digwed

    The Delta Heavy is a novel concept. The combination of star DJs with cutting edge lights, sound and laser is by no means new… you can see that at many raves and clubs on almost any weekend in most major cities. Taking that on the road for an average of 4 shows a week on an international 12 week tour is something new. Essentially the Delta heavy tour is an “instant rave” that comes to town, sets up, plays for the dance fans then packs it all back into the two semi-trailers and hits the road to the next destination, with the crew and DJs living and sleeping on the busses except for the occasional layovers where they get the luxury of a hotel.

The stage for the Delta Heavy tour
The stage for the Delta Heavy tour with DJ booth, three large video screens, lights and remote fiber optic projection heads. Photo by L. Michael Roberts

    The show itself is also somewhat different from the average rave. The tour emphasises higher production values than you often see at raves with a stage set, props, high quality video and a massive full colour laser show. Rather then the typical half dozen DJs, there is one opening DJ who plays a one hour or 90 minutes set, and then Sasha and Digweed take over giving the crowd a 4 to 5 hour tag-team set of the type of trance and electronica they are famous for. Much more satisfying that the typical 90 minute or 2 hour set from the often over hyped and overpaid “star” DJs one usually gets.
    Stellar Designs Inc., of Clifton, New Jersey [Stellar Designs Inc., web site] has been contracted to provide the lasers for this tour and laserist A.J. Seabeck [AJ to his friends and associates] was kind enough to give www.laserfx.com the backstage tour of the production.
    Perched atop a 10ft high aluminium scaffolding was a 171 while light laser doing about 8 watts output the night we visited the tour. This feeds a custom double deck Stellar Designs projector, which has PCAOM colour control for the dual scan heads and beam table. There is also a separate colour box for control of the beam sent to the fiber optic couplers. These connect to a pair of 12K remote fiber optic projectors.

Backstage view of the scaffolding with laser system and projector.
Backstage view of the scaffolding with laser system and projector.  The customized power transformer can be seen at the bottom left with the large blue pressure tank below the scaffolding. Photo by L. Michael Roberts

    AJ explains, “Flexibility is very important on this tour. We are playing in different venues with different stage sizes and ceiling heights each night. The rig is designed so that it can be placed in its optimal location behind the DJ booth with beam and scanned effects projected through the space above the DJ both and below the central video screen; or off to the side of the stage when space is not available. The positioning of the fiber optic remotes also has to be varied to suit the staging on a show to show basis.”
    Due to the vagaries of the water supply at the various locations and the dreaded “john effect” AJ built a special water system. It consist of a heavy duty well pump that is capable of actually sucking all the water it needs out of the supply lines no matter what the available flow and pressure are. The pump is equipped with a self-regulating pressure system that varies the amount pumped so as to keep the output pressure in the 40-60 PSI range. The pump is mounted to a very large pressure take with a large draw down just in case the water pressure should fall to catastrophically low levels or there is a power failure. 
    Another necessity is a sophisticated multi-tap power transformer with it’s own cooling fans. This allows AJ to adjust the taps on the input within a wide range to insure that he is getting the correct voltage output to keep the laser happy.

Laserist A.J. Seabeck installs a fiber optic remote Partial view of the control position
Left: Laserist A.J. Seabeck installs a fiber optic remote head into the set on stage right.
Right: Partial view of the control position showing the DMX control board and a Pangolin system running on a laptop which controls the scanned beam and graphics projections - the fiber control system is to the left of the DMX board and is not shows in this picture. 
Photos by L. Michael Roberts

    The control system [shown above] consist of a DMX console that controls projector functions such as the main shutter, beam effects pick-off, beam table, fiber optics pick-off and colour box. The graphics and scanned beam effects signals for the main projector are generated from a laptop and docking station with Pangolin LD and a QM32 installed running the “Live” software. Beam effects for the remote fiber optic heads are generated by a separate Pangolin system running from a second laptop and docking station but colour control signals on these effects are ignored as the DMX console controls the colour through the colour box in the projector. The system uses ILDA standard Db25 throughout which is very helpful for working in an environment where long signal cables are often overlaid over lighting and power cables.

Happy dancers enjoy the spectacular lights and laser show
Happy dancers enjoy the spectacular lights and laser show accompanying the pounding dance music spun by Sasha & Digweed - Photo by L. Michael Roberts

    The laser show itself was the fairly standard fare ones sees at raves and clubs. A heavy emphasis on static and scanned beam effects with some grating effects but no graphics at this particular venue. There was a good interplay of the intelligent lighting effects and the lasers even though the lighting operator was located some distance from the control position and there was no clear-com between them. AJ explained that even though the material played by the DJs varied form show to show, he and the lighting technician had worked out which parts of the music selections were better suited to laser, which to lights and which to a combination of the two.
    If the Delta Heavy tour is coming to your city [the dates are available at the Delta Heavy web site], and you are a fan of trance and electronika, the show is well worth a visit.


DISCLAIMER: Some of the information in the Backstage area is provided by the persons or companies named on the relevant page(s). Laser F/X does NOT endorse or recommend any products/services and is NOT responsible for the technical accuracy of the information provided.  We provide this information as a service to laserists using the Backstage area. 

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