One of our first major pro-AV commissions was an exciting challenge that saw us supercharging our product range and taking PufferSpheres on tour with one of the world's biggest bands.
Coldplay tasked lighting designer Paul Normandale with realising their vision of having projection spheres suspended above their audience as part of their "on-going mission to make a big room feel as small as possible". The spheres would not only have to be big to carry impact in large arenas, but would need to be moved in and out of view during the performance. They would need to be capable of displaying live camera feeds as well as motion graphics and would need to slot in seamlessly with the show control as a whole. It went without saying that they would be required to cope with the demands of a major global tour, offering rugged strength, reliability and portability alongside crisp, bright full-spherical projection.
Pufferfish designed and delivered a total of seven lightweight, extra-strength PufferSpheres with stealth inflation systems and pressure-sensitive inflation controllers. Air inflated spheres ruled out the need to use hazardous gas-based inflation, whilst allowing the spheres to pack down to a fraction of their size for transportation and storage.
Pufferfish provided five 2M diameter PufferSphere units, each equipped with a Pufferfish SuperUmami lens and powered by single 10,000 lumen Barco CLM R10 projector. Pufferfish also let loose our most powerful PufferSphere, powered by a 20,000 ANSI lumen Christie Roadster projector. Used front of house, it reached beyond the stage right into the midst of the crowd. A second of these units joined the first as the tour grew in scale.
Content was produced by Lumen London and served to the PufferSpheres via four Green Hippo HD Hippotizer V3s. Hippo operator Ben Miles used Green Hippo’s Pufferizer effect to deliver 360° motion graphics and live camera feeds. The Hippotizers were stationed backstage and controlled via Green Hippo’s ZooKeeper remote software from Miles’ GrandMa Lite desk front of house.
Global video specialist XL Video was responsible for the technical delivery of the PufferSpheres with Matt Vassallo making sure the balls kept rolling on.
Summary of outcomes
The PufferSpheres played a big part in the stage show and tour being dubbed ‘Olympics-esque’ by Rolling Stone magazine and became a big talking point in the tour press. The Viva La Vida tour proved a massive commercial and critical global success for Coldplay, further establishing the band as one the concert industry's biggest draws and set them on the road to becoming one of the world’s most successful stadium performers, capable of large-scale spectacle to rival the greats.
The Viva La Vida tour was a first of many concert installations to come for the Pufferteam and one which fuelled our ambition for large scale installations. We were delighted to have gained glowing feedback from all involved and especially pleased that our work on the tour whetted our appetite for more success in the professional AV concert space.
“They’re the most magic balls since John Lee Hooker had about 50 kids.”
Chris Martin - Coldplay
“The band’s desire for a viewing surface without the use of LEDs was an interesting challenge and one for which the PufferSpheres provided a unique solution. They allowed not only for media content but also, live-relay footage in large scale arenas worldwide.”
Paul Normandale - Lighting Designer
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