Important Notice - COVID-19 Pandemic Update - MDG is back at work!
After nine weeks of lockdown, we are pleased to be back at work to do the inventory. Consequently, we will be fully operational and ready to serve you as of next Monday, June 1st. We wish you an excellent day and look forward to speaking with you and seeing you again.
ENCORE SFX invests in MDG for BBC1’s The Greatest Dancer
When forming special effects company, Encore SFX, George Baker and Anthony Earles, both of whom have many years’ experience in senior roles in the SFX business, decided to invest in the highest quality special effect products available, and knew exactly which company and products they wanted to partner with.
"We needed great products from a reliable company who could offer not just the quality but the essential support required, and immediately thought of MDG,” says Baker.
The company purchased 4 MDG ICE FOG Q HP low fog generators with DMX interfaces, and 4 pneumatic Round Floor Pockets with remote control boxes. The ICE FOG Q HP is the quietest low fog generator on the market which it produces a thick, low-lying fog with zero residue. The award-winning Round Floor Pocket is DMX/RDM operated and can be embedded in the stage floor or set wall to conceal a fog output and deliver low fog or fog to precise locations.
“The ethos of our company is to make effects more accessible and give our clients the best products for their money. The only way to do this is to offer the best,” says Baker. “We have worked with many different brands of fog and haze machines over the years, and as we are not tied to any one brand, we can choose which we want to go with. When we started the company we were in a unique position of having no pre-existing stock, so could make a fresh start by investing in the best, and latest, products on the market.”
Baker and Earles have very definite reasons for their faith in MDG: “We believe the ICE FOG Q HP is one of the best-built units we have seen. The volume and consistency of the output is incredible. It’s the best looking effect I’ve seen and it doesn’t rise up when you move around in it. Other low fog machines’ output tend to flick up and get wispy, but MDG just sticks to the ground and is solid, no matter what you do to it.”
The ICE FOG Q HP units and Round Floor Pockets were instantly put to work in BBC1’s current series of The Greatest Dancer which is filmed at LH2 studios in West London, with lighting director, Tim Routledge.
“The products we’d used for the previous series were OK, but not the best quality, and with a such big stage and lots of movement from the dancers, we found the low fog was getting thrown up into the air,” says Baker. "For this series we swapped to the ICE FOG Q HP and sunk the Round Floor Pockets into all four corners of the stage. This instantly made the stage look a lot cleaner as the space is just an open dance floor where you can’t hide ducting. Then, because of the ICE FOG Q HP’s high output, we got really dense low fog, with the floor pockets ensuring an even distribution and sharp cut offs. They are just incredible. We were very happy with the result and it’s the perfect opportunity to showcase an excellent product on six weeks of prime-time national television!”
Tim Routledge, lighting director for The Greatest Dancer, agrees: “We’ve never quite cracked low smoke at LH2 during live TV shows but with the new investment by Encore in MDG we have gorgeous low smoke that lasts and sits low for an entire performance. MDG are by far the go-to company for haze and fog.”
“Anthony and I spent a long time looking at other units, but MDG was the obvious choice by a long way,” explains Baker. “When The Greatest Dancer came along for the second year running, we knew it was the ideal opportunity for us to initiate the investment we’d been wanting to make. Working closely with the production team we had a clear choice of which route to take. Why would you opt to put together combinations of products from other manufacturers when MDG does the full package in one?”
Encore SFX chose the Q version for its high output and ability to fill much larger areas, as it now runs on regular HP (high pressure cylinders) that can be sourced easily from local gas suppliers. “I prefer to have the bigger output units in our stock to give us more options on the many, varied jobs we have lined up for them in future. We can be in a TV studio one week and an arena show the next and anything in between. The ICE FOG Q HPs give us maximum flexibility.”
But Encore SFX’s investment in MDG goes beyond the quality of its products: “The service we got from MDG, in particular Matt Wiseman, was incredible. This is a big investment for Encore SFX but an exciting prospect for us, and Matt was there to advise us every step of the way. We are the only SFX company to have MDG in their stock, and aim to develop our relationship with MDG further.
“We like to work with people who support and help us right from our beginning, and keep working with those who have proven, not just to provide the right product, but also the support. It’s very important for us to know the service is there, and the danger is from companies who just want to sell you a product rather than invest in you as people or as a company. With Matt and MDG, I know I will get the best service and a straight answer with every call. We want to invest in MDG to the same level as they want to work with us.”
MDG haze the clear winner for Transmission Festival 2019
Transmission is Europe's, and possibly the world's, most spectacular trance music festival with a legion of loyal fans who return year on year.
As usual, the 2019 event was enhanced by haze from MDG generators which showcased the spectacular lighting and laser shows that accompanied the artists.
Transmission is held annually in the Czech Republic at the O2 Arena and attracts thousands of fans from over 70 countries to the beautiful city of Prague who come to enjoy performances from the genre’s most prestigious talent. The line-up for Transmission 2019 included trance legends such as Blastoyz, Cosmic Gate, Darren Porter, Ferry Corsten presents System F, Giuseppe Ottaviani, Key4050, MaRLo and Thomas Coastline.
The acts are knitted together by Transmission’s unique, themed storylines that take the visitor on a journey throughout the night, with each artist introduced by their own bespoke ‘show movie’ and visuals, all of which are accompanied by spectacular lighting, laser and special effects. To showcase the lighting and lasers to peak effect, Transmission’s lighting designer, Bas Kemper, needed to fill the huge 15,000-capacity venue with large quantities of smooth, pure white haze. He knew exactly which manufacturer to turn to which would give him precisely what he needed. He invested in an ATMe haze generator from MDG and three MDG MAX 3000 generators, supplied by Rudo Tucek of Slovakian rental company, Ministry.
“The venue is huge and filled to capacity for the festival – the stage alone is 48m x 24m and the floor space covers approximately 80m x 80m, with the hall stretching - with the tribunes included - to something in the region of 120m x 120m,” says Kemper. “To bring the full experience to everyone in the hall, we created lighting and laser shows with an immense reach across a wide-open forum, so we also needed haze that could fill that space, on stage, in the hall and right up into the rafters!”
Kemper positioned the three MDG MAX 3000 generators onstage at left, right and upstage locations, and placed the MDG ATMe haze generator front-of-house. The MAX 3000 units were all controlled manually as stand-alone units, with the ATMe levels controlled directly from the console by lighting operators, Zis Ankone and Martijn Deenen.
“I was confident that the MDG units would be able to handle the dimensions and the result was fantastic,” says Kemper. “The haze was as smooth and pure as expected which highlighted the colours of the lighting design – each act is identified by its own colour – to perfection. And I couldn’t be happier with the extent to which the haze spread and showed off the huge laser shows and each individual beam of light. Yet, at the same time, we were able to control the levels so the haze never got out of hand or obscured the audience’s view of the artists, and we never have complaints about the amount of haze – it’s just invisible without light passing through it.
“It’s simple - MDG generators can be relied upon to produce great haze throughout the whole evening – they really are the best for lighting in halls like these.”
MDG goes under the sea for The Little Mermaid at Helsinki City Theatre
Helsinki City Theatre is putting on the Disney magic this season with its lavish musical production of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid.
The theatre’s annual musical production is always a major part of its programme: The Little Mermaid plays in repertoire in the 950-seat main theatre for over 120 performances from August 2019 to Spring 2020, including the all-important Christmas period. Helping to create the magical underwater atmosphere are haze, fog and low-fog generators from MDG.
In this Disney adaptation of the original story, mermaid Ariel falls in love with human Prince Eric, and sells her beautiful voice to the sea witch Ursula in exchange for legs so she can join him in the surface world.
The ambitious production has been put together by a very talented creative team: director Samuel Harjanne, set designer Peter Ahlqvist and costume designer Pirjo Liiri-Majava, all of whom are from Finland, and choreographer Gunilla Olsson-Karlsson from Sweden. Characters are also brought to life with liberal use of flying, and puppetry from UK-based Stitches and Glue. The puppetry and flying demands good haze coverage in all three dimensions, both to create atmosphere and also to mask and highlight the puppetry and set to its best effect.
Helsinki City Theatre’s resident lighting designer of nine years, William Iles, chose MDG generators to create the necessary haze for this magical production, using an ATMe haze generator and theONE™ dual-mode haze and fog generator for general ambience, and an ICE FOG Q with a Round Floor Pocket for low fog effects.
“The haze came in handy for creating the illusion of the underwater world with beams of sunlight filtering down to the bottom of the sea,” he says. “With the even distribution of the haze at all levels, we could create the illusion of a very three-dimensional world.”
theONE™ and the ATMe generator were already part of Helsinki City Theatre’s own equipment inventory, and are rigged on either side of the stage in a mid-position on the proscenium towers from where the haze spreads evenly throughout the stage and auditorium. “We have owned theONE™ for two years and have used it on many shows and are very happy with it,” says Iles. “It really does the all the work in one unit and fills the stage quite happily by itself. However, because our proscenium is 25m wide and we wanted to fill the auditorium as well as the stage for this production, we brought in the ATMe haze generator to help out. This is more from an aesthetic point of view than volume of output: because of the rigging positions, any heavy input of haze would be visible to the audience, so by using two machines from opposite sides of the proscenium, I can run them at a much lower output and achieve a more subtle effect with a nice, even haze that emanates imperceptibly from both sides.”
The ICE FOG Q and its associated Round Floor Pocket (RFP) are both new to the Helsinki City Theatre and were supplied by MDG’s exclusive Finnish distributor, msonic oy. The ICE FOG Q generator is located under the stage revolve, where it rotates with it, and the low fog is ducted out through the RFP situated centre stage. “We bought the ICE FOG Q specifically for the show but it will certainly be used on many productions in future!” says Iles. “I have to say I’m really happy with it. The low fog effect is very cool: it stays really low, and after stopping the output, it dissolves very quickly so doesn’t linger into the next scene. And, most importantly, it leaves no residue on the floor which is a problem we have had with previous equipment in the past.”
The low fog really comes into its own in two key scenes during The Little Mermaid: firstly in an evening scene when Ariel and Prince Eric are rowing a small boat on the lagoon, surrounded by creatures who are waiting for them to kiss. “The low fog really works well for this as the little boat sits amid the smooth rolling billows of white fog and really adds to the romantic nature of the scene,” says Iles.
The second scene by contrast is full of drama as Prince Eric tries to find Ariel by following her voice out to sea amid a storm. “The mast of the ship rises out of small hatch in the stage which is covered with the ICE FOG Q output so creating an image of the ship above a foggy sea,” explains Iles. “In all, between these two scenes, we need around 10 minutes of low fog for every show – which is a lot of fog. However, one cannister of low pressure CO2 will last us for 15-20 shows so we are very happy with the economy of the ICE FOG Q.”
"Helsinki City Theatre's The Little Mermaid really is an amazing show,” says msonic's lighting sales manager, Janne Koivulahti. “We are really pleased to hear such testimonials from our important customer about MDG's products. We believe Helsinki City Theatre deserves the maximum praise for their visualization because of the sheer size of the production and the huge amount of work carried out by the talented artistic and technical team. msonic oy is proud to stand alongside world-class MDG in giving them full support."
MDG haze solution for prestigious new events space, Magazine London
Magazine London, the capital’s newest, smartest purpose-built event space and the largest of its kind in London, opened adjacent to the O2 Arena in Greenwich Peninsula this August.
Its simple architectural form offers clean and functional spaces that provide ‘a means for large-scale creative expression’ with 3,205 sq m of versatile interior space for up to 3,000 people, and the capability of a further 7,000 people across the venue’s outdoor showground.
Technical consultant, Simon Jones of SJ-TPM, recommended MDG haze generators for this prestigious new venue knowing MDG’s great reputation for reliability and performance. He had no hesitation in supplying two MDG ATMe haze generators, complete with purpose-built touring cases for easy storage and deployment which was essential for this flexible, multipurpose venue.
Jones was brought onboard by Venue Lab to review, recommend and deliver the technical infrastructure, establish and fine tune the requirements and purchase the equipment for this multi-purpose venue. Jones worked on the various phases in collaboration with Vibration Design and Production, which delivered the venue’s in-house technical production, to ensure the equipment installed aligned with the building’s innovative principle.
Magazine London has two large internal spaces, each with 8m high ceilings, two mezzanines for VIP areas or additional reception/break out spaces, and an outdoor festival square, all of which can be used in various configurations to suit the show or event.
No event is complete without good, fine haze, of course, which plays a major role in showcasing the lighting, lasers and general creation of atmosphere. And in such a versatile venue, the team has to be prepared to cater for everything!
“Haze always has to look perfect on television and camera, and also work well with live events,” Jones explained. “It needs to be finely distributed, and quickly dispersed.
“The haze produced by the ATMe is great for the cameras because it is a good, clean haze, it doesn’t reflect, it’s not too dense and it’s nicely distributed across the whole space with two machines filling the venue quickly and easily. We chose to go with two ATMes because the venue is so large, and there are always points in an event when you need to fill the room more quickly. With two machines you don’t have to run them at full, so the effect is more subtle without an obvious source. If you want nice clean haze that everyone is going to be happy with, the natural choice is MDG ATMe.”
The ATMe generators have been used on every event since the venue opened – five so far, including the launch of the new FIFA20 game, the SAP Annual Conference and the Desperado x Elrow Music Show – and have a full schedule until the end of the year and beyond.
The ATMe generators have been supplied in purpose-built touring cases, which include additional space for haze fluid and two gas cylinders, that can be simply rolled into whichever position or venue required.
“With such a busy and varied programme of events, it’s important to have a reliable haze generator and a good quality touring case that can move around without jolting,” says Jones. “The ATMe is a good dependable machine that you know will always work well, and with the touring case it’s an off-the-shelf, boxed solution with all you need in one package. You just have to plug it in and go. It makes life easy, and we have the MDG reliability and efficiency and all that comes with it: the back up and support that we all know MDG gives. MDG is the premium option at the end of the day.”
MDG partners with Arcadia Spectacular for Pangea at Glastonbury
MDG is proud and excited to have partnered with Arcadia Spectacular for this year’s Glastonbury Festival by supplying two of its fog-producing behemoths, Me8, for Arcadia’s fantastic new creation, Pangea.
Named after the massive 300-million-year-old supercontinent that broke apart to form the seven separate continents that divide us today, Pangea is a brand new, bespoke installation, created exclusively for Glastonbury. It replaces Arcadia’s famous Spider, which has inhabited the space for the past ten years, and marks one of the first major installations for MDG’s Me8 fog generator.
“As the first year of a five-year, permanent installation, we were able to ‘go to town’ with Pangea on a totally different scale from a touring show,” says Arcadia’s head of communications, Cyrus Bozorgmehr. “We wanted to explore possibilities with more scope for upward expansion into three-dimensional space, and investigate how to take over the area above people’s heads to make a fully immersible experience across the whole arena.”
To achieve this, a massive multi-level central structure was designed, sourced - as all Arcadia creations are - entirely from repurposed scrap material gleaned from a worldwide search. The centrepiece is a giant 50m dock crane from nearby Avonmouth Docks, rigged with lighting and pyrotechnics, the machine house of which serves as an operational space for control equipment. The crane is set upon a spherical ex-military ‘radome’ which is used as a projection surface and sited above a mesh-floored DJ booth on a 360° rotating table above the audience that gives fully immersive directionality across the whole site.
“We have different visuals on each level with an intense, ‘rave’ like atmosphere and warm tungsten-style lighting at the bottom around the DJ booth,” says Arcadia’s technical production manager, Dorian Cameron-Marlow. “The ‘radome’ sphere and upper levels add strong visual elements as projection surfaces, while the crane gives us access to the sky in a completely different way allowing us to play with the space. The jib arm lighting provides dramatic architectural looks and strong beam light effects and is perhaps the most important area for the MDG Me8 fog generators.
“We used the big beam effects to sweep through the crowds which became incredibly effective, and a really strong look, with this really consistent haze from the Me8s,” adds Cameron-Marlow. “Because the haze was so fine, it wasn’t really visible until this point so it was incredibly atmospheric when you saw this big sweeping beam rotating through the crowd. It really looked like an alien invasion!”
“The aim over the next five years is to take over the sky,” says Bozorgmehr, “so getting the lighting to stand out from a height of 30m in outdoor space is key to creating a vivid experience for the audience.”
Cameron-Marlow agrees: “We have a structure that we can fully interact with that gives us massive scope across a 50m rolling sphere of three-dimensional space, that needs to reach out across a crowd numbering tens of thousands, past the core 80m arena space, into the outfield and way beyond. The lighting and effects must be visible on a grand scale, and to do this, you must have great haze to show them to full effect. You can have the most powerful lights in the world but if you don’t have a really good haze distribution plan, the lights will be ineffective.”
Incredibly, Cameron-Marlow and the team were able to achieve this using just two of MDG’s Me8 fog generators, each of which has an 8-nozzle output and is capable of producing 800m3 (28,252ft3) of fine, pure white fog per minute. These are sited at opposite sides of the arena from where the fog is ducted through a complex manifold system to six tree/lamppost sculptures - long-standing features from early Arcadia installations that represent an intertwining of the industrial and organic. Each Me8 generator is connected via ducting to three of the tree sculptures then, from the central point of each tree, the fog is ducted up each of the little branches to exit at the tips.
“Our trees are a very effective, subtle means of distributing the fog as they are positioned in a circular configuration half way between the out-field towers and the central structure,” explains Cameron-Marlow. “Environmentally this is the ideal place from which to distribute haze, and the organic nature of the design is enhanced by not having giant fans to distribute it. With these we can achieve a nice, slow atmospheric trickle, particularly with these MDG units, which have a genuinely constant flow due to their 100% duty cycle. It is quite ethereal and the trees become sculptural elements in themselves as much as providers of atmospheric haze.”
Cameron-Marlow also noted they were ‘pushing the boundaries’ when ducting the fog along runs of up to 50m. “But from the outset, the MDG fluid just did exactly what we wanted it to, even over those distances. Generally speaking, fog or haze doesn’t like to be ducted that far because it can change states, condense and end up not producing the effect you want. But we spent some time configuring how we would use them and designing the ducting systems to suit and, with the overall system design in place, they worked an absolute treat. We were able to do some complicated things that we hadn’t done before because we knew the Me8 would be able to handle it.”
As with all outdoor events, wind and weather always present a challenge but the team were able to mitigate the effects by balancing the output of the MDG generators: “Having a well distributed system, particularly for the medium level constant output, means that, whichever way the wind decides to blow, we can always combat it by controlling the output of the Me8s remotely. They were fantastically easy to use and extremely reliable, just continuing to work problem-free for the whole five days of rehearsal and live stage time. They are perfect for this type of environment.”
Given Arcadia’s green credentials and interest in adopting the latest and best technology, environmental considerations were also important. “One of my favourite things about MDG generators,” concludes Cameron-Marlow, “is that they are incredibly efficient in fluid, gas and energy consumption. This is a great bonus when you take into consideration the volume and quality of haze and fog they deliver which have always been the best in the business for me.”
MDG ATMe Auto Refill Haze System – a Permanent Solution for indigo at the O2
London’s live music venue, indigo at the O2, is the first venue in the UK to install a permanent, integral MDG ATMe AR (Auto Refill) haze system.
“We chose the MDG ATMe AR system because we wanted a permanent, controllable, low maintenance solution that was of high quality and completely reliable,” says Rob Burrows, technical manager at indigo at the O2. “We use a lot of haze here – on average running the machines for 10-12 hours a day at 170 events a year - but don’t have house technicians, so a low-maintenance system was key. When Matt Wiseman of MDG FOG UK showed me the Auto Refill system it ticked all the boxes. An auto-refilling system in this type of environment is ideal as the bulk reserve of fluid and gas don’t need constant refilling and require minimal attendance outside routine cleaning.”
The two ATMe AR haze generators are both rigged at height on truss mount brackets – one in the roof of the auditorium and one above the stage right wings – and only accessible with a ladder.
“The major advantage of the AR system is that any consumables are not deployed at the generator end so we don't need to take the fluid to the machines in their elevated positions, or access them outside of the standard annual service,” says Burrows. “We simply refill the reservoir in one the easily accessible location and it keeps both the ATMe AR units fed remotely. The gas supply is the same with the CO2 gas cylinder stored outside under the shelter of the Dome’s tent-like structure. This leaves us free to rig the ATMe AR generators in inconspicuous places so no-one knows where they are…and there you have it - invisible machines, invisible effect!”
The MDG ATMe AR system was designed by MDG, supplied by AC-Entertainment Technologies and installed by the resident team at indigo at the O2. The system uses non-corroding brass connectors and plastic semi-rigid pipework for maximum durability and ease of installation.
“The installation was a doddle!” says Burrows. “It took us just four hours in total - two hours to install the pipework and the rest to hang the machines. MDG designed a bespoke system to meet our requirements and it arrived ready to install from AC-ET. We just cut the pipes to length, installed and connected them using the push-fit connectors which were so quick and easy.
From the pressurised reservoir the gas and fluid are sent to the two ATMe AR machines in two separate feeds to maintain a constant supply of fluid and gas. “It is the use of pressurised gas that makes the MDG machines silent and dispenses with the need for noisy, high-maintenance pumps,” says Burrows. “Gas is far more efficient.”
So why choose MDG?
“MDG is, quite frankly, the best haze you can get,” confirms Burrows. “I like the fact that the particles are so fine that you can’t see the haze until you shine a beam through it. It has a great hang time and is very controllable right down to the tiniest volume. The haze is pure white so from a lighting designer’s perspective, the lighting always looks wonderful. And from an artist’s point of view, because the installation is high up, there is no obvious source of haze, so the artists don't have the perception they are surrounded by haze. This is less distressing to an artist and leads to fewer complaints.”
Indigo at the O2 hosts many music, corporate, sporting and comedy events, all of which use haze and many of which are broadcast. “Haze is used heavily during broadcasts where it is especially nice and looks good for camera,” says Burrows. “The fact the ATMe AR produces a dry haze means there are no problems of residue on the stage or the broadcast equipment beyond standard cleaning routines.”
Burrows is also happy with the amount of coverage delivered by the two ATMe AR generators which cover the stage and auditorium areas evenly from top to bottom without the aid of fans.
“We don’t use fans at all as the air conditioning is enough to disperse the haze. The combination of the position of the ATMe AR units and the fact we have no air conditioning over the stage works in our favour. We find the aircon in the auditorium blows the haze lightly onto stage and gives really even coverage with no obvious ‘puffs’ of haze. I like this lack of extra fans as we don’t have to balance the amount of unnatural movement we introduce into the air and, of course, it means reduced noise and less maintenance.”
Fluid consumption has proved exceedingly economical as the AR system was installed in March and, seven months later, has yet to be refilled: “I’ve just ordered 20lts more fluid, but mainly so we have some in reserve for the busy period coming up.
“We are delighted to have gone down the permanent installation route for our haze requirements and chosen to work with MDG,” concludes Burrows. “The system is super simple to manage – just a change of gas when required and an occasional refill of that massive reservoir. Having had years of previous experience with MDG, I have always loved the brand. Now the system is up and running my faith has been justified.”
Nicolas Duhamel returns to MDG
MDG is very happy to announce that Nicolas Duhamel has returned to the company as Marketing Director and European Business Development, with immediate effect.
In his new role Duhamel will be responsible for all MDG’s marketing activities worldwide and the central point of call for our European distributors, as well as seeking out new opportunities to develop the MDG brand across Europe.
Duhamel had previously spent two years at MDG in the head offices in Montreal, Canada. During this time he oversaw the updating of the MDG marketing resources including the creation of the new website. After returning to his native France in 2016 to take up a position in event management, he has returned to MDG in this full time role.
"Nicolas never left us completely as he continued to look after our marketing part-time, so we are delighted to welcome him back to the MDG Family full time,” says MDG President & CEO, Martin Michaud. “Nicolas has played an important part in the MDG story over the past five years, and with his experience and passion for the brand, I have no doubt that he will do so again in the years to come. There are exciting times ahead for MDG."
"Atmospheric effects have been a real passion for me and, since I first saw MDG products in February 1996, it was my dream to work for this amazing company that has so much history,” says Duhamel. “Working with these talented people over the years has been a great pleasure, and I'm thrilled and honoured to be able to come back and see that dream continue to the next stage."
Nicolas will be based in the south of France.
MDG Me8 fog generators boost Stormzy’s iconic set at Wireless Festival
English grime artist, Stormzy, headlined the Saturday main stage in spectacular fashion at this year’s Wireless Festival in London’s Finsbury Park.
The London-born superstar performed in a full, bespoke production of mammoth proportions in 6 acts, created by Bronski and Amber Rimell of Tawbox.
It was clear that lighting designer, Tim Routledge, would need a giant-sized fog generator when lighting Stormzy’s iconic set, and specified two MDG Me8 fog generators to take on the job. The biggest of MDG’s Me Series of fog generators, Me8™ is an 8-output monster capable of pumping out a massive 800m3 of fog per minute.
“I’m very familiar with MDG’s TheONE™ dual fog/haze generator which I specify for most of the tours I light,” says Routledge, “but when Matt Wiseman brought the Me8 to my attention at the ABTT show last month and highlighted the sheer volume of controllable fog it can produce, we decided to try it out. Stormzy’s set design called for vast quantities of dense fog for a couple of numbers, which is always a challenge in an outdoor setting where environmental factors make it difficult to keep a decent level of fog for a protracted amount of time. It was an ideal opportunity to put Me8’s output and control to the test.”
Stormzy’s vision was to create a truly memorable festival show that pushed the boundaries and would be talked about for years to come. Everything was to be supersized in a huge production that was unprecedented in a festival, and which ultimately involved 48 crew, 75 performers and 6.5 trucks of equipment.
“We had an enormous thrust stage with inbuilt lifts, 200 strobe lights, a cage with 20 performers clinging to it, and a full orchestra for the final song,” says Routledge. “At one point a screen was flown in - which is really unusual at a festival - from behind which we wanted to produce fog to reveal the next scene. So we really needed a fog generator that could match the huge proportions of the production!”
Routledge sourced two Me8 generators from production supplier, PRG, which arrived direct from MDG’s Canadian headquarters a couple of days before the install, and were rigged upstage right and left at stage level: “The weather was good on the day of the show, but there is always a breeze which affects the density and direction of fog on stage,” says Routledge. “But the Me8 is such a beast that all we had to do was preset them and let them do their stuff. They gave us so much fog, we couldn’t ask for more!”
Like all members of the Me Series, Me8 benefits from a 1% - 100% variable fog output that can be controlled directly from a lighting console or via local control, a 100% duty cycle that guarantees high-quality, consistent fog at all levels of output, and MDG’s famous Automatic Purging System™ (APS™). Numerous control options are on-board as standard and include 3 standard USITT DMX512 channels, XLR-5 connectors, a 4-button LCD user interface and RDM compliancy.
Designed primarily for large-scale applications, both indoor and out, and destined for huge venues and stadia, Me8 is also perfect for fire fighter and military training, ventilation testing and special effects for movies.
“We were very happy with the results the Me8 units gave us and how they performed in the great outdoors!” concludes Routledge. “The output was phenomenal and we were able to show off the lighting to best advantage as well as conceal and reveal performers and activity during the scene changes. This was fog on a huge scale!”
Stormzy himself is reported in The Times as saying: “This is the biggest show of my life.”
MDG at the Grand Finale with Hofesh Shechter Company
Hofesh Shechter Company celebrated its 10th anniversary and kicked off the first day of the Brighton Festival in May with a performance of Grande Finale, the latest original dance work from award-winning choreographer, Hofesh Shechter.
Signature to any Shechter production is the ‘Hofesh Haze’, a very distinctive, thick haze with an extremely even, creamy look that remains consistent throughout the performances. To achieve this look, head of production at Hofesh Shechter, Adam Hooper, relies on MDG haze and fog generators which are hired locally at each venue, or brought along by the company if there is no local availability. “Because haze is such a very large part of Hofesh’s productions, we only use MDG haze and fog generators and specify them on every rider, with no substitute,” he says.
In Grand Finale there is no set in Tom Scutt’s design other than seven rolling black towers manipulated by the dancers, relying instead on Tom Visser’s stark and stylish lighting design with beams of monochromatic light that cut sharply through the haze and change with each repositioning of the towers.
“The lighting positions are very specific and structured,” explains Hooper. “Focusing can take up to eight hours because Hofesh insists on running through the show at every new venue, and his attention to detail means we frequently tweak the lighting levels by as little as 0.5% during technical rehearsals. This is why the ‘Hofesh Haze’ is a very important addition to the aesthetic. We need it to look the same at all times, with no little puffs or clouds or gaps across the stage or auditorium, to show the lighting to its best advantage, and we can only achieve that with MDG.
To achieve the correct level of haze, show operator Andre Gubanov uses the MDG ATMOSPHEREAPS haze generator or the MAX3000 fog generator, depending what is available at the venue, and fills the stage and the auditorium with an even haze before the audience arrives. “The haze is an important factor to draw the audience closer to the dancers by enveloping them as well,” Gubanov says. “We then close the tabs before the audience come in, so when they are opened the haze remains evenly distributed across the stage and auditorium and doesn’t roll in either direction.”
This can prove tricky in some venues where variations in temperature and modern air management systems can wreak havoc with the fine-tuned haze. “MDG is superb at helping to combat these vagaries because the output can be controlled so precisely and the haze is so fine,” he says.
To maintain the correct levels of haze during the performance at the Brighton Dome, two MDG machines were located one each side of the stage, accompanied by nine DMX fans rigged 2m above the lighting grid and another four on stage at each corner to drive the haze down and keep it consistent around the dancers. Gubanov controls the fanspeed remotely from the console and the hazer output manually from the wings to keep the creaminess in the right place and at the right consistency.
This consistency, which is particularly predominant in Grande Finale, is very noticeable and effective. With so little in the way of set and no wings to enter and exit from, the dancers are able to disappeared in and out of the haze and into the shadows instead. At times they almost seem to levitate during the very energetic and dramatic performance and the depth of field is increased, as the haze starts to envelop the dancers as they move further up stage.
Hooper is very enthusiastic about the MDG machines: “MDG generators are industry standard, the haze sits for a long time and can do anything from a trickle to a full pump out.”
However, he also points out that the company is dependent on each venue for supplying the haze machines from rental companies, but many of these machines are now very old and ideally need to be renewed. “When the company is on lengthy tours, we need to be sure that the machines supplied will be efficient and up to date. The haze is crucial to all our dance pieces and we have been using MDG for a number of years now. We need to know we have access to the best and most reliable machines possible, but hire companies don’t always have the latest models available to due to the high demand from bigger shows. Some of their old units are past their best and, from a rental perspective, our requirements are too small to demand the new equipment.”
MDG has developed the new ATMe and Me1 haze and fog generators, building on the success of the ATMOSPHERE and MAX series. These units have identical power consumption and footprint but offer a significantly increased output making them incredibly efficient. They also have enhanced control with in-built RDM/DMX which allows precise remote control over the flow of output, enabling the operator to change the flow from a fine haze to a rolling fog from the convenience of the control desk. Obviously, these new machines would be an incredible asset to a company such as Hofesh Shechter, whose designs and choreography rely so much on the quality and use of haze.
Grand Finale has been touring internationally since its premiere in Paris last summer and is currently touring the UK where you can catch the next show at Sadlers Wells from 4th -7th July, before it continues its international schedule until the end of 2019. Wherever it goes the ‘Hofesh Haze’ will be produced by MDG machines – the ‘Atmosphere’ will be amazing!
MDG Dares with The Hunna
Formed only in 2015, The Hunna is 4-piece English rock band whose career is sky-rocketing. Their debut album, 100, was released in August 2016, and is soon to be followed by their second album, Dare, in May 2018.
The hard-working band kicked off 2018 by performing six back-to-back gigs in UK O2 academies in early January in support of the new album.
Travelling with them was lighting designer, Tom Campbell, who chose MDG’s ICE FOG Compack™ low fog generator and an ATMe™ haze generator to provide the band with the right mix of atmospheric effects to guarantee they, and his lighting, would be seen to best advantage.
“Showcasing the lighting was especially important for this tour as the structure of the design forms the majority of the set,” says Campbell. “The backbone of the show design is centred around 108 lasers which are located on side towers. I use these to create various worlds, shapes and looks for the band to perform in, so I needed a hazer I could really rely on that would deliver a fine even haze day after day. MDG’s ATMe is ideal as it produces a haze that is very controllable, and so fine it never obscures what the lighting is doing.”
MDG’s ATMe is a single, high output haze generator which has evolved from the long-standing industry favourite, the ATMOSPHEREAPS, to become the industry standard for today.
Campbell has worked as freelance lighting designer for ten years, starting out in theatre before moving to live music and lighting the likes of Zeds Dead and Bullet for My Valentine amongst many others. In 2015 he received a Knight of Illumination Award in the Club Category for his design for Anna Calvi and The London Heritage Orchestra. He joined Mirrad, a collective of like-minded designers, in September 2017.
“For The Hunna’s Dare tour we had to have generators that were capable of handling decent-sized venues as the band performed at most of the UK’s O2 Academies, starting in Newcastle, Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham, and ending with two sell-out nights at the 5,000-seater Brixton O2 Academy in London,” says Campbell. “It’s the nearest you can get to an arena, which, for a band that has only been going two years, is pretty impressive. But that also comes with the incumbent challenge of aircon and air movement, so the ATMe’s controllability is an important feature to help combat this.”
Campbell formed his design around mood boards presented to him by the band, one of which including an ’80s prom-like scenario for the tour’s title track, Dare, which was also an early-release single in December 2017. “I took the inspiration of a ‘prom-night’ to included a low fog effect which tumbles over the front of the stage and passes over some LED video bars rigged on the stage edge as it does so. This helps create a wonderful ’80s vibe which is quite significant to the track. I specified the MDG ICE FOG Compack for this effect because it guarantees good, consistent coverage every time.”
MDG’s ICE FOG Compack creates a thick low-lying fog, with no residue, without the use of dry ice and is cased in its own self-contained flightcase on wheels for easy transport and touring.
Both MDG’s ICE FOG Compack and ATMe haze generator were supplied by London-based Colour Sound Experiment, under the project management of Alex Ryan, as part of the full lighting package.
“This is the first time I have used MDG generators but I was determined to specify them because of the great reputation they have,” says Campbell. “It is well founded – the MDG units have proved incredibly reliable. I always know they will work, we have had no blockages or leaks, and they travel really well. All we need to do is just strike them up daily at each new venue and off they go!”
After the UK Academy run, The Hunna hopped down to Australia for a further five dates at the end January after which they will return for a non-stop tour of 15 European cities throughout February, followed by 22 shows in USA in March and April, before returning to the UK for 8 further dates after the album release in May. Campbell is adamant he will be using MDG again: “Our set up will be similar, but bigger, so I anticipate even more units for this and the autumn tour. MDG has proved so reliable and trustworthy on tour, I can see I will be using them again and again.’
MDG is theONE for Adele and Phil Collins
When it comes to some of the biggest names in the business, performing at some of the largest stadiums and venues across the globe, MDG know a thing or two about providing the perfect haze and atmosphere - for both the lighting and the artists.
Stellar artists Adele and Phil Collins both engaged the design services of Patrick Woodroffe who, in collaboration with Roland Greil, both from renowned design practise, Woodroffe Bassett Design, produced some stunning shows for their latest tours. On each production, Greil took on the mantle of associate lighting designer, lighting director and operator so has a unique perspective on the role and delivery of haze and fog across a wide spectrum of environments and venues.
Woodroffe and Greil specified two different types of MDG machines across three tours in all: Adele’s LIVE 2016 tour and Phil Collins’ Not Dead Yet tour both employed MDG’s theONE dual fog and haze generator, while Adele’s LIVE 2017 tour made full use of 8 of theONE machines and 2 MDG ATMOSPHERE APS haze generators.
Adele’s LIVE 2017 Stadium tour has been a global progress visiting some of the biggest stadiums in the world. It followed on from the 2016 Adele LIVE Arena tour which featured more indoor venues, and for which three of MDG’s theONE generators were chosen. These were easily able to handle the indoor requirements, showing off to best advantage the symmetry of Woodroffe’s lighting design that worked so well with Es Devlin’s impressive set design.
But for the stadiums visited in 2017, and the challenge of a new 360° show, Greil needed more. Add to the mix an artist who is not the biggest fan of any kind of haze or fog and Greil knew he had to think carefully about which haze and fog generators to use to ensure the best result for lighting and performer, and turned once again to MDG.
“Adele, quite rightly, is always concerned about haze and the possible effect on her voice,” he explains. “There are literally millions of people who want to listen to, and see, the magnificence that is Adele performing at her best - but she accepted the use of haze and we have therefore chosen MDG machines, which are really good machines for producing high volumes of quality haze. Even in an in-the-round stadium show like the 2017 tour, we only needed ten MDG units: eight MDG theONE dual generators augmented by two ATMOSPHERE APS machines.”
MDG’s Atmosphere APS has long been recognised as producing the finest haze combined with the longest hanging time and, of course, being virtually silent it was clearly exactly what Woodroffe and Greil were looking for to produce a steady source of near-imperceptible haze. His only bête noir was the challenge presented by the wind, as he explains: “If you are doing an in-the-round stadium show, you are literally open to wind from every side with no protection at all, so it can be a little difficult to maintain a look. For the stadium tour therefore, we hung the ATMOSPHEREs in the mother grid, so we had fog or hazers in every possible position to enable us to react to the wind conditions. The output control of theONE proved very helpful when the elements were against us.
“The combination of the two machines has proved a wise choice,” confirms Greil, “especially with the option of using theONE as a hazer as well as a fog machine. Even in the biggest venues, the MDG machines have been more than up to the job. Add to that the knowledge that the vocal artists are comfortable with the output and you have a really good combination.”
For Phil Collins’ Not Dead Yet tour, Greil once again specified MDG’s theONE. “This atmospheric generator really does it all, creating fog and haze from a single machine and its variable output is a great asset when you are dealing with the vagaries of an outdoor show.”
The Not Dead Yet tour has visited venues of all shapes and sizes, from indoor arenas and the Royal Albert Hall, the Aviva stadium in Dublin and British Summer Time at Hyde Park. “MDG’s theONE has proved versatile enough to cope with all of this, providing good haze to accentuate the beams of light to best advantage and highlight the variety of looks on this design - some of which hark back to Collins’ earlier songbook while others have a far more contemporary feel,” concludes Greil. “This tour will continue as long as Collins wants keep going and I’m confident that, wherever we may be playing, theONE will do the job.”
All MDG theONE and ATMOSPHERE APS generators were supplied for each tour by UK-based Neg Earth Lights, which also supplied 4 MDG theONE for Robbie Williams’ The Heavy Entertainment Show tour at the specification of show and lighting designer, Mark Cunniffe.