What started as a moonlight business back in 1994, working with only a small network of schools and AMDRAM (amateur dramatics) societies in the Western Cape has become the leading event and festival supplier, TechX who are dominating the local scene supplying high-end stage, audio and visual solutions to popular festival brands such as Get Lucky Summer, MixedFeelings, any Shimmy Beach Club event, Corona Summer Sunsets Festivals, ToyBox, Fashion Clubbers and many more.
Another festival on the TechX track sheet is Get Real. TechX has been an integral part of this festival since it’s inception with TechX founder Justin Heyman having co-founded the festival with Luke Mcpherson back in 2018. In just a short time, Get Real’s immaculate lineups and theatrical production has won over a massive fanbase and have become known for hosting the best international bass artists as well as their jaw-dropping stage production and theatrics.
TechX has not only had an integral part in organising all Get Real events but have also supplied all stage concepts and designs, sound, lighting, visuals, effects and power to the festival from the very beginning. This beautiful marriage between festival and production company has seen Get Real become synonymous with some of the most consistent, large scale production and lighting the local industry have ever seen.
The popular festival hosted its fifth festival earlier this month with its biggest stage production to date and will host their sixth festival this March 2020 with international headliners Chemical Surf and Illusionize. We were lucky enough to catch up with TechX founder, Justin Heyman between the two festivals, and amongst a busy summer, schedule to pick his brain about festival planning and what it takes to put on an unforgettable production.
MCBN | Talk us through the conceptualisation phase for Get Real’s production, how long before an event does it begin and where do you draw inspiration from?
Justin | The conceptualization of each Get Real stage is quite a process. It started with a theme we aimed to carry throughout the entire event series, this being triangles. The design of each stage is always one event ahead, basically meaning that the design for the current events stage already has the evolutionary aspects we need in it for the next event, which continually allows us to evolve the stage and keep it rolling in a constant flow. So, to answer your question, each stage is thought out about six months before the event.
MCBN | How does lighting affect a performance/stage setup and what makes it so important to the overall effect?
Justin | Lighting plays a very key role in bringing the structure to life and emphasizing the actual design that the structure is centred around. During the day the complete structure is seen – the scaffolding that supports the design and all the industrial-looking things that are not part of the design, but without them, the design wouldn’t be possible. When nightfall hits the true beauty of the design comes to life and this boils down to clever lighting and LED panel placement. We emphasise the design, generally with our LED fixtures and blackout the support structure that you don’t want to see – this dramatically makes the design stand-out. We then scatter our moving fixtures around the darkened support structure, thereby accentuating and maintaining the overall size the structure.
MCBN | TechX’s lighting specialists have experience working in theatre – what makes this skill so unique when it comes to designing a lighting layout?
Justin | Lighting is a lot more than just flashing to the beat and lighting up the crowd, this is something you learn from the hours and hours spent in theatre bringing a set to life with lights. Our designers have learnt how to create many different effects based on clever lighting placement – we have carried over into the event scene, giving a theatrical edge to our lighting rigs.
MCBN | Take us through the most recent Get Real production, how long does it take to set up a stage of that magnitude?
Justin | The stage for GET REAL ft GROOVE delight was our biggest stage to date spanning a width of 26m with a total height of 11m. We started the build on the Tuesday before the event and set up a timeline for each day to ensure that the stage is complete by Friday morning. Our timeline looked something like this; Tuesday, base structure – so this is your scaff structure. Wednesday, design structure, this is the trussing that creates the design, plus stage platform and technical placement. Thursday, complete technical lighting focus and we end off with testing and programming of the lighting rig and LED Wall rig. Friday, stage set up – CDJs, monitors, special effects and a full day of sound checks.
We work on a very strict timeline to make sure the crew complete everything in the time since there is nothing worse or more unprofessional than a stage not being completed in time!
MCBN | What equipment is used for both the stage setup and then from a front of house AV and lighting point of view?
Justin | We use a variety of different gear and brands to put the GET REAL stage together. From a Sound point of view we only use d&b Line array PA, the rig consisting of 16x d&b Q1 Tops for the main hang, 4x d&b Q1s with 4x QSubs for the DJ Booth, 4x d&b Q7s for front & side fills, 16x d&b B2 Dual 18” Subs with 4x d&b J-Infra Tripple 21” Subs. Our lighting rig changes per design, but it is filled with a variety of LED moving wash and beam fixtures, HYBRID intel lighting (these are lights that give you a very crisp beam effect but at the same time an extremely wide gobo and prism effect allowing us to get creative on the theatrical front), LED static fixtures and our LED batten fixtures.
Linking these together with our range of special effects, we get a very broad spectrum of lighting possibilities. We use the ONYX NX WING with 2 multi-touch touch 23” screens for the lighting control, which was initially developed by MARTIN and is now run by ELATION.
MCBN | What was your favourite part of about the most recent production for ‘GET REAL’?
Justin | In my opinion, not one thing that stood out, as all fixtures were specifically placed to work together to create the overall look and feel. I am most happy with how everything came together so perfectly – which isn’t always the case with such big rigs. Our Head Lighting Designer for the show, Paolo van der Merwe, and head VJ, Loubser Claassen, were able to achieve everything we discussed when designing the rig.
MCBN | What was your least favourite part / most challenging aspect of the production?
Justin | This isn’t technical related, however, the intense heat at Anura during the build-up placed a lot of strain on the crew which had to work in temperatures of between 35 and 40 degrees. This leads us to be a bit behind schedule for the build-up.
MCBN | With another GET REAL festival just around the corner – care to share any insider sneak peeks about what’s in store for March 2020’s production?
Justin | Haha, unfortunately not. GET REAL has become known for its crazy designs and insane audio and visual showcases so our stage designs are kept under lock and key until the very last minute. However. I can say that you can expect to see nothing smaller or less out of this world come on the 28th March 2020.
With reputable knowledge and execution of planning an running a succesful festival, TechX offers a kind of edge and expertise that other suppliers might not. Not only can TechX conceptualise, design and supply your entire stage and set up but they also offer expert insight into hosting an outdoor festival.
The TechX team is fully equipt to provide full venue power solutions with generators for both stage and venue power and lighting. If you’re looking for reputable, high-end event solutions, then take a look at what TechX can offer you on their website.
Get in touch with TechX today to start planning your next event.
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