Abbey road, Polar bears and Musicians

06.00 friday morning Steve picked me up from my house along with extra bits of kit for our long early drive to London from Newcastle, we were off to Abbey road studios for rehearsals of BBC Planet Earth Live. Incase you don’t know Planet Earth Live is the live show of the BBC David Attenborough series Planet Earth where George Fenton and the BBC Concert Orchestra play along-with footage cut from the original series. On the way down we listened to a couple of RadioLab podcasts, I cannot recommend this podcast enough, every eppisode is fascinating and if your wondering what its about this is a quite from the website:

Radiolab believes your ears are a portal to another world. Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience. Big questions are investigated, tinkered with, and encouraged to grow. Bring your curiosity, and we’ll feed it with possibility.

If you like Science, Philosophy and and amazing stories from people around the world go subscribe now!

Before we went to Abbey road we had to stop by XLvideo to pick up the Media playback rack which was meant to have been brought up to Newcastle for a small rebuild but during the hectic schedule and logistics of Bluebeard previous to this it ended up somewhere in the XL warehouse. Getting to XL was easy enough after getting over the crazy Uber Roundabout made of roundabouts.

Undeterred we picked up the rack, and headed over to Abbey Road, it was quite exciting to go to the famous Abbey Road studios with all that history and check the place out. We arrived arround midday and aproaching the studio I was amased to see the wall of the front car-park was covered in what I later realised was fans graffiti/drawings/messages & art. You could spend an entire day reading all of this and comeback to something different as each visitor adds their own thing.

We got parked easily signed in, loaded our kit in and proceeded to get to work on prepping the playback rack for the gig, Mike turned up shortly after who had been running and calling the show when it was touring the states, before we knew it we had the rack ready, plugged up and the orchestra were tuning up. The score which ran with the visuals was perfect and there was a good atmosphere in the room as this was going to be the first UK showing of the piece. As quick as we had started the rehearsal was over and we were packing down to move out kit into the vocal booth where steve needed to do some updates to the system prior to tomorrows show. Below, Steve (Barco Ninja) Holmes hard at work in the vocal booth.

The following day we were in the Barbican, with a HUGE screen and 2 Barco HD20’s, the local house crew at the Barbican had a busy schedule and had only had a few hours off when we arrived at 08.00 but were more than happy to get back on it assembling this giant screen.

The screen went up easily enough, Colin Pink turned up who was doing sound for the show and offered to get in the coffees and morning sandwiches, a very good way to make friends, and the coffee was much appreciated! After a quick coffee, we got the projectors in the booth and began setting up the system. I have never met anyone who hasn’t said that Barco’s are a pain in the ass, and they’re right, they are clunky, the remote interface is slow, but, they do the job and I still cant believe they still have a huge market share here in the UK, give me a Panasonic any day!

Anyway, rant over, we got setup, had a little fight with the projectors over, resolution & scaling for allot of the morning and then we were into rehersals again. In respect, today was an easy day for me, this was Steve’s baby and he was beavering away, checking over Cues, triggers and settings calling up the relevant rehearsal marks for George the conductor during the afternoon. I was on bitch duty so promptly went out and got some coffee and sandwiches. Again the time vanished, and we were nearly at showtime, it was busy in the foyer so I gave Steve the calming words of, “Don’t worry, it’ll be fine as long as you don’t fuck up” which I know he appreciated. Steve had spent practically all afternoon and the show in the roasting tech box with those projectors and did a good job of staying focussed.

The show went incredibly well, with the added pressure of David Attenborough and many of the BBC cameramen who filmed the footage in the audience. After the last of the audience had left we packed down, managed to get all of the kit in the van with the help of the superb crew at the Barbican, good people to work with. It had been a thirsty successful day, so we couldn’t think of anything better to do other than have some really dirty hotel food and a beer. Actually we could have thought of better places to go but in the town that never sleeps it was the only closest place open after midnight!

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