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With the exceptional summer in the UK, festival season has been basking in a bumper year and happy images of crowds enjoying their outdoor experiences in glorious sunshine are being published on a weekly basis.
Parks and open spaces which are usually empty green grassy areas morph summer-in, summer-out, into temporary villages where tens of thousands of people gather to celebrate main stage performances and other activities on offer. The images have been sunny, dusty and with not a rain cloud in sight!
And for the first time, this year, Gunnersbury Park in West London has seen part of the festival action, hosting Lovebox and Citadel Festivals which took place in mid-July. Pearce Hire continued working with their client MAMA Festivals (a Live Nation company) as long term contractor at these festivals, supporting the festival re-location with their award winning temporary power infrastructure and site lighting services.
Jake Vernum, Project Manager for Pearce Hire, explains: “At Pearce Hire we relish a challenge, and know the team at MAMA Festivals incredibly well – this being our eighth year working with them on these festivals. With a well-established format for Lovebox and Citadel, we needed to ensure that we played our part in providing a seamless transition for these large events as they moved from Victoria Park, East London to West London. We’ve been focussed on ensuring we gave exceptional support to the MAMA team throughout the moving process and on-site at this new venue. We are keenly aware that our services were integral to ensuring Lovebox and Citadel offered as good, if not a better experience for the 40,000 festival goers attending each day across the three-day event.”
Gunnersbury Park was an unknown quantity in terms of hosting a major inner-city festival of this size, and so detailed planning for power and site lighting infrastructure was critical from the start of the process. The undertaking was not insignificant – with 7 stages, 15 bars and concession facilities, VIP areas, backstage working areas and production village, a small campsite for festival staff, and important brand sponsors (including Corona, Kopparberg and Smirnoff) to accommodate. Plus approx 2,500 crew and staff across the site (based on exit capacity) to ensure the 40,000 daily attendees were safe and well provided for. Pearce Hire sent in a core team of five, increased to a dozen crew for build and break and spent almost three weeks on site.
“Working across a new site was the biggest challenge this year” reflects Jake. “The site was really pleasant, and whilst it was smaller in footprint it was very spread out and safety and crowd management was at the top of the list – we needed to ensure our site lighting supported the ingress and egress points and we needed to be flexible in our approach to change things as required by health and safety. We provided x30 tower lights across site and 100% LED festoon to ensure all site areas were sufficiently lit”.
“From a power point of view, we had several generator locations with both standalone and full synchronised sets. In total there were forty generators across the site. We really scrutinise the spec from our client and make sure we keep the generator sizes and numbers down to improve efficiencies. And of course we do all the usual monitoring of power consumption in order to advise on ways to improve consumption and generator provision going forwards.”
An important aspect of working on festival sites for several weeks is crew welfare, something Pearce Hire as a company, places a great emphasis on. Jake explains, “as well as ensuring the site is safe and secure for the festival goers, we need to ensure our crew are safe and looked after. It’s long working hours, and in the exceptional weather this summer, crew welfare becomes even more of a priority. If you treat your crew well, then it makes for a happy work environment and reflects on the job and the service we provide. Our working space at Lovebox was bigger than usual, and this is better for the crew. There was even space in our boneyard for a sofa and a hammock for outdoor living! We have an excellent pool of freelance crew who Pearce Hire call upon to support the permanent team during busy times, some of them have been working with us for years as regulars – they are great crew and so we make sure we look after them and they repay us with their loyal service year-on-year.”
MAMA Festival’s Production Director Dave McCalmont comments “Pearce Hire’s professional approach to our brief is perfectly pitched. We’ve always considered them to be an integral part of our team, rather than an external contractor. We trust Jake and the team implicitly with the temporary power and site lighting for Lovebox, Citadel, and other events. You know that their attention to detail will ensure reliable service of the highest quality and they’ve been a big part of the planning in the venue change.”
“Moving to a new site this year was great – it was a new challenge and added a new dynamic to the festival,” concludes Jake. “Whilst Lovebox and Citadel will undoubtedly have regular year-on-year attendees, I’m sure the move meant these great festivals were introduced to a whole new West London audience as well! For us it keeps our regular festival commitments interesting…and let’s hope the sun shines in 2019 like it did this year!” laughs Jake, as he gathers his thoughts and turns his attention to the next event.
Press release by Signify (Euronext: LIGHT) - July 2018
Signify (Euronext: LIGHT), the world leader in lighting, today announced that its new LED stage luminaire, the Philips Vari-Lite VL2600 Profile, made a striking world debut on the stages of the Forestry Commission's Forest Live shows in June. Supplied by Pearce Hire, the VL2600s were used to light performances by artists including Gary Barlow, The Script, Kasabian and Paloma Faith on this summer's first Forest Live weekend.
Peterborough-based Pearce Hire is the first company in the world to invest in these latest luminaires from the Philips Vari-Lite brand. Impressed by the fixture's feature set, they purchased 40 VL2600 Profiles from London-based show lighting specialist Flashlight Ltd. Upon delivery, 20 fixtures were supplied to each of two Forest Live shows, at Thetford Forest in Suffolk and Delamere Forest in Cheshire.
Pearce Hire's General Manager Jim Brown says, "We'd looked at several alternative fixtures and the VL2600s were the brightest by a country mile. We do a lot of outdoor shows in the summer season, so we need fixtures with the light output to compete with daylight. The VL2600's brightness and the high color temperature produce beams that really stand out."
He adds, "A big plus was the two gobo wheels: having access to that number of effects gives real flexibility. Often fixtures will sacrifice the second gobo wheel to make room for the framing shutters, but with the VL2600 Profile there is no trade-off. They've got everything, the gobos, the framing, the quality optics, the colors - they're everything you would expect a Vari-Lite to be."
For the Forest Live shows, Pearce Hire's project manager John Huson created a flexible festival rig for the visiting lighting designers to use for their artists. Jamie Thompson, lighting designer for The Script, had his first hands-on experience with the fixtures. He says, "The VL2600 seem really great. It's nice to have a compact, bright moving head profile with the stunning optics that define Vari-Lite."
Pearce Hire and its clients also benefit from the lower powered LED technology, says Brown. "Many of our clients are concerned with sustainability and environmental impact, so the lower power usage is another plus. When using our diesel generators, the lower the power demand the better. Also, using LED means that we don't have to spend time and resources re-lamping."
Commenting on the price point of the VL2600 range, Brown says, "The price is very attractive, which gives us great confidence that we'll get the payback on our investment. If they were not so affordable we may have had to buy fewer of them, or cut back elsewhere, but the price didn't affect our decision to go for these fixtures - they are the best of their class that we've seen."
Signify became the new company name of Philips Lighting as of May 16, 2018. The legal name of Signify will be adopted across all global markets in the course of 2018-2019.
Signify Entertainment Lighting comprises the Philips Vari-Lite, Philips Strand Lighting and Philips Selecon brands, as well as the Philips Showline range of LED stage luminaires.
This latest edition of Pearce Hire’s ‘Meet the Team’ sees us introducing Gareth Seal. Which is perfect timing as Gareth has recently taken over management of Pearce Hire’s busy warehouse.
Gareth joined Pearce Hire early in 2016 putting his experience to good use in the busy lighting department - prepping and maintaining kit for constant turnaround and regular dry hire.
So far in his career, Gareth cites working at Pinewood Studios as one of his greatest achievements – and a pretty good name drop too! Gareth started his career there as soon as he left school, working for five years as a lighting apprentice on TV productions including Midsommer Murders and Holby City as well as some music videos and advert production. Following a move up to Cambridgeshire, Gareth worked for ELP as lighting/warehouse technician for a further 10 years, before the appeal of live events and festival production at Pearce Hire provided an opportunity for him to broaden his horizons and expand his knowledge base.
Having worked in Pearce Hire’s lighting department for the past 2 years, Gareth took over the role of warehouse manager at the beginning of 2018. He is loving the new challenges this role provides, and cites the incredibly friendly environment that Pearce Hire has as a real benefit for everyone on the team.
Whilst he particularly enjoys working in the entertainment production industry, Gareth accepts that the frequently tight time constraints can be demanding. But this is balanced by the variety in the projects he and his team are prepping for week-in week-out which means no one day is ever the same!
When he does have time off he is a devoted family man to his wife and two daughters.
We always like to end our profiles with some words of wisdom! Gareth says the best piece of advice he has ever been given is to ‘keep at it, and concentrate on the detail of the equipment you are prepping’.
And for anyone looking to enter this industry, Gareth speaks from experience when he advises young technicians to ‘work hard and take every opportunity you are handed – you never know what might come of it.’
Wise words Gareth – thank you! And good luck as you enter the busy summer season – the warehouse team will be prepped and ready to go under your leadership!