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Live 8 Comes Together with DiGiCo D5

Never before had such a monumental sound production task been undertaken. Conventional solutions were not an option to achieve the required turn around time between bands, so Britannia Row Productions enlisted both the assistance of the DiGiCo team and their D5 Live digital mixing console.

Live 8 was a huge International event televised worldwide (photo by: Diana Scrimgeour) Live 8 was a huge International event televised worldwide (photo by: Diana Scrimgeour)

Preparation was the key: prior to show day, rehearsals took place at studios across London for some of the performing artists: Sir Paul McCartney, Madonna, Dido, Elton John, Annie Lennox, Robbie Williams, Scissor Sisters and Pink Floyd.

“During the week leading up to load in, myself and Amanda Thomson from Brit Row programmed the bands' sessions onto the DiGiCos as they came in,” explains Robbie William's FOH engineer Dave Bracey. “This saved time and confusion when the engineers turned up on site,” This was facilitated by backup from the DiGiCo team.

“Myself, Bob Doyle, David Webster and Rob Andrews went from rehearsal to rehearsal to help Dave and Amanda,” explains DiGiCo's Roger Wood. “We lent a couple of bands a hard disk recorder to speed up the rehearsal process. There were bands that didn't have the chance to rehearse and Dave Bracey created generic sessions so that it was quick and easy for the engineers to just walk up to the desk and go.”

L-R: Pab Boothroyd (FOH Paul McCartney, The Who), Bob Doyle, David Webster (photo by Sarah Rushton-Read) L-R: Pab Boothroyd (FOH Paul McCartney, The Who), Bob Doyle, David Webster (photo by Sarah Rushton-Read)

In Hyde Park , three DiGiCo D5 Live digital mixing consoles were positioned at front of house, with a further three D5s at the monitor position. At front of house, one console was used for prepping, whilst the other two sat at the mix positions with the same arrangement for monitors. Outboard per console comprised a TC Electronics M6000, two Yamaha SPX990 effects units and a couple of tube compressors. A Midas H3000 operated by Britannia Row's Chris Coxhead also sat at front of house dedicated to VT and announcer's playback, while Andy ‘Baggy' Robinson and Mark Ballard made sure the D5 consoles were ready for each set.

Alternate mix positions were used to allow for the incredibly short turn around time between bands and during the show DiGiCo's David Webster prepped the console for each band. He and Rob Andrews were also on hand to give any additional assistance required with the D5s. John Lewis and Chris Morrison were assisted at monitors by DiGiCo's Bob Doyle and Roger Wood, with Wood prepping for each band.

Without the agility and transparency of the D5, the planned timings couldn't have taken place. “Because of the obvious quick changeovers it would have been impossible to re set an analogue console,” adds Jon Lemon, who was engineering Pink Floyd. “For those of us lucky enough to have rehearsed it was just a case of taking our setting with us on a USB key and for those that hadn't, the consoles were set up with Dave's great pre sets for vocals drums, etc.

The view from FOH to the Stage (photo by Sarah Rushton-Read)
The view from FOH to the Stage (photo by Sarah Rushton-Read)

“On the day, I heard quite a few engineers say that at least if they hadn't used the D5 before it's tactile. You can see what's going on in front of you and you can't do that with any other digital console - and that's not a dis', it's just a fact.”

Paul McManus, Dido's monitor engineer, explains his experience: “First off, I think the production team as a whole should be commended for pulling off the event. Brit Row especially should be commended for putting the time and effort into the gig that was needed.

D5 Dominates the Monitors area at Live 8 (photo by Sarah Rushton-Read) D5 Dominates the Monitors area at Live 8 (photo by Sarah Rushton-Read)

“Having the "offline" console was a really good idea, it gave me the chance to sit down in a calm environment and make sure the input and output patch on my console was correct before moving on to the "live" console, and also before talking to the patch guy gave me the chance to go over any patch changes that had occurred during rehearsals. There were the right amount of people on the deck taking care of things and when I asked if my ‘artist specific' things could happen, everybody was always willing to accommodate.

Bono of U2 performs at Live 8 (photo by Diana Scrimgeour) Bono of U2 performs at Live 8 (photo by Diana Scrimgeour)

“I think that overall the console sounds really good. The compressors are transparent enough, even when digging in 10db or so, that I would be happy to use them on any channels except on some specific ones where I have my own particular preference and like to use a high end VCA style (DBX160SL) or tube compressor. I would also use the gates without a problem.

Paul continues: “I was lucky to have three days rehearsal before the show, so I was somewhat familiar with the desk. It also meant that I arrived on site with my show on my DiGiCo USB watch, a truly original piece of swag!

“The support from the DiGiCo was very good - David Webster and Rob Andrews spent an afternoon and the better part of an evening with Dido's FOH engineer and I, going through the ins and outs of the console and making sure we felt comfortable enough with it that we were happy to use it when the band came in the following morning.

Annie Lennox performs at Live 8 (photo by Diana Scrimgeour) Annie Lennox performs at Live 8 (photo by Diana Scrimgeour)

“I found the console to be user friendly when I went to setup it up - the input and output patches were easy to get to and manoeuvre through, as well as being able to move channels around on the console. Once we realised how quick and easy it was to use the channel swap function to configure the desk, it took no time at all to get all my favourite channels grouped together and up on the top layer. Setting up VCAs and getting Aux Send in the pre or post mode took virtually no time. All in all it was a very enjoyable experience!”

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DiGiCo D5 Live

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