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From Pakistan to Dubai

From Pakistan to Dubai

From Pakistan to Dubai

Taking the format out of Pakistan for the first time, Coke Studio Live saw Flair Event Services transform the inaugural live show into something special

Over more than a decade, Coke Studio has become a big hit in Pakistan. Now in its 14th season, the TV programme is not only broadcast throughout the country but has also gained somewhat of a cult following abroad. The format takes established and emerging artists, fusing them to create musical concoctions blending regional and western music.

The show developed by Giraffe Marketing Pakistan has proved so successful that after the end of the latest series, plans were made to develop it into a touring live show. The first outing of Coke Studio Live saw thousands of fans fill the Coca-Cola Arena in Dubai to finally see their favourite acts from Season 14 in person. “I’m from Pakistan myself, so this was a particularly exciting project to work on,” explains Flair Event Services’ Sheikh Asfand Aly. “It was the first time they’ve taken the format outside of the studio, and Flair played an instrumental role.”

“During the previous events season, Flair was awarded multiple tenders at the Coca-Cola Arena; out of the 58 live events that were held, we executed 42,” adds Flair managing director, Sameer Rahman. “As a result, we’ve built a strong track record with the management and many of the frequent promotors.”

Initially tasked with handling technical services for the event, Flair’s passion for the platform saw it become increasingly involved in creative elements as discussions progressed, ultimately leading to the introduction of a completely new lighting design. “We were given the opportunity to tender as one of the three main suppliers for the arena,” furthers Rahman. “There were very specific requirements that included previsualising everything to assess the look and feel of each song. This worked hugely in our favour as we were the first company regionally – Flair and our sister company Stage FX – who invested in Depence² previsualisation 3D rendering and show control software back in early 2020. Throughout lockdown, this is what our teams had been busy honing their skills on.”

Flair’s experience working at the arena also gave it an edge when it came to the stage design. “The client initially shared a 2D drawing of their preferred stage idea. Our technical director and I reviewed it and, based on our experience with sightlines and typical seating arrangements, asked if we could also propose an alternative. They were wary that they’d never done a live show like this before and so were open to ideas.”

They quickly came up with a few initial concepts on pen and paper. “When we were happy with those, we moved onto Vectorworks, the software we use for managing workflows and general previsualisations,” explains Rahman. “We created something that retained all the elements of the original, but was much beefier and more impactful, while keeping the arena’s constraints, sightlines and the seating properly in mind. It really exceeded the client’s expectations.”

Key to achieving Flair’s revised design in the most efficient way was the choice of luminaires, which revolved heavily around Chauvet Strike Blinders, Robe’s MegaPointe, Robin LEDBeam and Spiider fixtures and Claypaky Stormys. “There were rock-based songs, but also a lot of ethnic instruments and even some melodic dance-along-type songs,” says Rahman. “This required many different moods and we wanted to give everything a bit of a retro feel. One fixture that works extremely well in the arena is the Strike One Blinder. It’s a big, chunky LED-based fixture and is great for creating that rock-and-roll ACL punchy effect.”

“For the moving fixtures, we chose Robe’s MegaPointe specifically for its hybrid capabilities,” adds technical director Marno Snyman. “It can do basically anything if you use it correctly – massive gobo looks, huge breakups, wash-like effects or an extremely tight beam. Given the difference in genres, it was the perfect use case for a true hybrid fixture. Specifically, we needed a big wash look and lots of colour onstage, which we could achieve quite easily with MegaPointe.”

All in all, the lighting rig comprised 31 Chauvet Strike One Blinders, 32 Acme bl200 and 18 Claypaky Stormys. For moving lights, the team called on 40 MegaPointes, 48 Robin LEDBeam 150s, 42 Spiiders and 18 Martin Mac Viper Performance. Additional effects from Stage FX included eight MagicFX CO2 Jets, eight MagicFX Flamaniacs and six Microh Titan RGB.

While the lighting was undoubtedly the main focus for Flair from a creative standpoint, the team’s technical services extended to practically all aspects of the stage setup. 178.5m2 of the company’s new InfiLED P3 LED screen was erected at the rear of the stage. Powered by four Novastar MCTRL 4K LED controllers, content was fed from a pair of Resolume Arena media servers over Analog Way HDMI over Fibre Extender 4ks with Barco’s S3 and ImagePro 4K providing additional image processing.

“We created the canvas and provided a pixel map which the client used to create content to the right scale,” notes Rahman. “We received details of the colours used and a mood board of what the content was going to look like, which was essential for building our lighting design around.”

For audio reinforcement, the venue’s in-house JBL VTX line array was called on, supplemented with additional fills from d&b Y8, Y12 and Y-SUB cabinets. The system was managed by a DiGiCo SD7 and SD-Rack at FOH, alongside an SD10 and SD-Racks at monitor world. Monitoring for the artists onstage was via 12 d&B M4 wedges in combination with 30 channels of wireless IEMs spanning Sennheiser SR 2050, EK 2000 and G4 systems.

A large selection of wired and wireless artists mics were also available. These included Sennheiser 6000, Shure Axient and Shure ULXD for wireless, with the option to be fitted with DPA d:facto 4018 capsules. Wired models included Shure Beta 91A, Beta 52A, SM58, SM57, SM81, Neumann KM184, DPA 4099 instrument mics and DPA DC4099 drum clip mics, with Klark Teknik DN200s and Sennheiser MKH 416s capturing ambiance around the drum kit. Eight Riedel Bolero wireless intercom panels were deployed for team communication. “From a technical perspective, the event was like a music festival, with each artist having their own set of audio requirements,” explains Rahman.

Having initially requested a different mixing console, one which Flair also stocked in its inventory, the team recommended upgrading to the SD7. “They told us they would love to, but didn’t know anyone in Pakistan that could operate one,” the managing director shares. “There isn’t a single SD7 in the entire country, but we assured them of our full support.

“Our team is very used to doing these larger scale events,” notes Snyman. “Obviously, great lighting and video is essential, but if it doesn’t also sound good, the event would be a disaster. The quality of music production is what Coke Studio is known for and so recreating that experience live without any hitches or glitches was paramount.”

The inaugural concert was somewhat of a testbed for the Coke Studio Live format, and plans are already in place for follow-up concerts. Flair’s expertise at the Coca-Cola Arena has positioned it as the preferred partner for those. “Based on the success of this show, there’s clearly a demand for more,” concludes Rahman. “There are a lot of discussions in the works right now, with dates and timings yet to be determined. I think our team has already exceeded expectations, but of course we want the next concerts to be even better than the first – we’re going to be pushing the boundaries.”

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