Rolling Stones

Once again the Rolling Stones turned to leading set design architect Mark Fisher for their 2002-2003 "Licks" world tour.


Fisher's design included a 75m wide, 25m high backdrop, 8 2.5-tonne LED video screens and 8 moving lighting pods - all requiring automation. Veterans of previous Rolling Stones tours Brilliant Stages designed and fabricated all of the automated scenic elements, and approached Kinesys for a control system. The giant 25m high Jeff Koons backdrop was digitally printed onto fifteen 5m wide fabric panels, each stored in a touring box incorporating dual winch drums and a pinch roller mechanism for deploying and retracting the PVC screens. Each panel was driven by a compact AC servo motor, connected to a 1.1kW Velocity variable speed drive. A custom control box mounted on the back of each unit allowed the motor to be controlled locally during setup and derig, and also provided a local emergency stop switch linked in to the overall emergency stop system.

Willie Williams' video design called for the 8 massive LED screens to be able to track independently to form a number of different patterns. 100m of curved I-beam with a toothed rack attached to its underside supported the eight 12m high x 3m wide screen panels, each weighing over 2 tonnes. Each video "tug" was driven by a 7.5kW servo motor and Velocity drive. The curved support beam allowed the screens to be stored out of sight behind the backdrop without increasing the width of the supporting structure, and the maximum travel speed of 750mm/s allowed the screens to be deployed in approximately 30 seconds.

The millimetre accuracy of the Velocity drive's position control system was essential to achieve the multiple screen arrangements required during the show with no visible joins. The vertical beams between the backdrop panels provided support for eight lighting "pods", each carrying three moving lights. A toothed belt driven by a 7.5kW servo motor was used to move the lighting pods at over 2 m/s between the video screens. With millimetre clearances between the bottom of the LED video screens and the lighting pods the positional accuracy of the Velocity drive was again essential.

To assist in rigging and maintaining lights a custom local controller was also supplied with each lighting pod. Overall control was provided by Kinesys' Vector software, running on a pair of industrial PCs (for backup) with an LCD touchscreen. The Velocity drives were connected to the PCs using Kinesys' high-speed ArcNet network, with custom ArcNet distribution being used to split the network into smaller sections for increased reliability and ease of fault finding. Kinesys also supplied a custom emergency stop system and power distribution. All equipment was built into shock-absorbing flightcases to withstand the rigors of touring.


Rolling Stones "Licks" Tour Credits
Date: September 2002 - Late 2003
Venue: USA, Australia, Japan, Europe

Set Design: Mark Fisher
Set Construction: Brilliant Stages, Tomcat
Video Design: Willie Williams
Lighting Design: Patrick Woodruffe
Roll Drops (x15): 1.1kW servo motor and Velocity drive Custom local control unit Weight: 150kg Travel: 20m Max Speed: 0.5 m/s
Video Screens (x8) 7.5kW servo motor and Velocity drive Weight: 2500kg Max Travel: 30m Max Speed: 0.75 m/s
Lighting Pods (x8) 7.5kW servo motor and Velocity drive Custom local control unit Weight: 500kg Travel: 11m Max. speed: 2 m/s
Control Dual industrial PCs with 18" LCD touchscreen running Vector software Emergency stop system Power distribution ArcNet data distribution



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