Rush Takes Catalyst on Anniversary Tour

LD Howard Ungerleider designs all-HES spectacle
June 14, 2004
Here you can see the 14 screens imitating a windchime, a design element that inspired LD Howard Ungerleider. Catalyst images decorate the screens.

Here you can see the 14 screens imitating a windchime, a design element that inspired LD Howard Ungerleider. Catalyst images decorate the screens.

Photo by Tim Grivas/High End Systems

More photos >>

You might say Rush is getting "closer to the heart" on their 30th anniversary tour, which kicked off this summer in North America. Billed as "An Evening With," the trio of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart celebrate their musical longevity by paying homage to songs of the Sixties which inspired them in the beginning -- intertwined with other Rush favorites, of course.

An all-High End Systems rig featuring Catalyst is catapulting the show above and beyond Rush spectacles of the past. LD Howard Ungerleider of Production Design International in Toronto is again creating the look and feel of this visual extravaganza as the production designer, lighting designer and lighting director. He and PDI partners Brian Beggs and Louis Chu also provided lasers, being one of the largest laser companies in North America.

Lighting contractor Premier Global Productions of Nashville is supplying the tour, featuring:
1 Catalyst Pro v3.0 Media Server
60 x.Spot Xtremes
40 Studio Beams
24 Cyberlights
3 Wholehog II consoles
28 MR-16 zip strips
3K Atomic Strobes
6 Lycian M2 spotlights

But the heart of the system centers around the video aspects.

"The show, " says Underleider,"is a highly complex visual experience that is well-paced through 3 hours and 20 minutes. I think it's the best design I've done for Rush so far."

Ungerleider has to credit the video aspects for helping expand his vision when designing the production. Of course, that includes the Catalyst Pro v3.0 Media Server not only as a major design tool, but also as a video controller.

"The Catalyst is not only supplying visual images, it is also controlling the video routing system," Ungerleider says. "We're using IMAG, Derivative and Catalyst, and the Catalyst allows us to decide what image to put on what screen. The video comes in seamlessly -- it avoids the delay you normally get with video."

There are lots of screen surfaces to choose from on this set. At center-stage sits a large screen 22 feet wide by 12 feet high. Flanking it on both sides are 7 LED panels custom-made by BCC Screenworks to resemble windchimes -- a design element that Ungerleider was inspired by from "many days at the cottage looking at windchimes." He adds, "It's a highly unusual design but it works so well."

Other elements expanding his projection areas include fireplace mesh and curved surfaces ("which make light look like it's bending"). The 7-truss configuration also features horseshoe-shaped trussing with pods and moving motors.

"The Catalyst gives me complete versatility, " says Ungerleider. "It gives me the opportunity to blend stock visuals with other elements. It expands the stage video presentation and complements the lighting."

The visual team working with Ungerleider and Geddy Lee included Alan Weinrib, video coordinator; Norm Stangl of Spin Productions, film animation; and Greg Hermanovic of Derivative (video animation).

HES' Director of Creative Services Tim Grivas helped Ungerleider with programming for Catalyst and HES automated luminaires. This was Grivas' third Rush tour.

The crew also includes:
Keith Hoagland, lighting tech/Ungerleider's assistant
Jamie Grossenkemper, lighting tech
Rich Vinyard, lighting crew chief
David Davidian, video director
Bob Larkin, video engineer
Norman Sliwa, master electrician
Scott Wilson, laser operator

The tour runs May 26-Aug. 22 in North America, then kicks off Sept. 8 in the UK.

Media Contact: Debi Moen, HES Marketing Communications Specialist, phone 512-836-2242 x 1204