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Set design and construction for Jay-Z

In late September we completed our biggest set construction project of 2013, for Jay-Z's Magna Carta world tour, which was his first solo headline tour in almost four years. Having worked with Production Manager Bobby Schneider previously on the artist's successful one-off show for the BBC Radio One Hackney Weekend, he turned to LS-Live once again as a one-stop-shop solution for a tour rental packagage that included set design and construction, and studio rehearsals all on site in Wakefield.


We worked under the direction of Lighting Designer Jesse Blevins and Designer Willo Perron to bring to life a full scale stage set of internally lit cubes, that created runways and risers for the perfomers and also functioned as a visual spectacular integrating lighting and LED panels. Cube structures form the basis of two 8’ high lit up runways in a ‘T’ formation for Jay-Z’s entrance and performance, with additional risers for him and the band at different levels; a pattern that is directly mirrored in the flown system overhead.


Said LS-Live Director Ben Brooks: “There were two big challenges with this set, one was designing it so that it all packs down into as few trucks as possible, the other was to permanently integrate the LED strips and panels into the cubes for quick builds and de-rigs on site whilst ensuring they could withstand the rigors of touring."


LS-Live accurately estimated the whole set would pack into five touring arctic trailers, including LS-Live’s 2.2’ high rolling house stage which forms the base of the set, hidden beneath a series of mirrors to maintain the look of the cube set above.


Encompassing 17km of aluminium in 2’ by 2’ box sections (manufactured on site at Prolyte Products UK), the cubes are fitted with VER’s vertical and horizontal LED blade strips inside, with 400 Pulsar LED ChromaPanels attached under a macralon surface to provide a lit walkway for the performers to walk on.


LS-Live introduced a new labeling system for the cube structures to enable crew to quickly locate and build the set in the correct configuration on site. Every single piece is colour coded to a certain area, then numbered to indicate its exact position.


“We came up with the idea of creating branded panels for the side of each dolly we provided to follow this system through to the storage of all the pieces,” explained Brooks. “Every dolly panel indicates the tour dates, our branding and a colour code – showing which area it goes in – with a drawing of the set in 2D showing where each particular piece goes. It also tells you exactly what’s stored on the dolly so you should never need to look for anything.”


Jesse Blevins said: "The quality of the finished product is outstanding. This gig was very ‘unique’ in that the time frame that everything happened in, from conception to completion, was unbelievably short. Ben and his entire team went above and beyond. Anything we needed they were there for. Being able to tech and rehearse at their facility proved invaluable. Any changes or modifications that we needed could be addressed immediately. We didn’t waste time having to take anything apart and ship…that would have been time we definitely didn’t have.

"The private bedrooms were very convenient and comfortable as well. Being able to go from FOH right upstairs to bed in five minutes was awesome, it maximised the little time we had to design/program.

Overall couldn’t be happier with the whole experience and very much look forward to working with you all again."