Production Design and Manufacturing

Production Design and Manufacturing

Franz Ferdinand

Over stated, retro and fresh but quick and easy to set up.

Arbiters of style may not be a mantle which sits easily upon the shoulders of Franz Ferdinand, but whatever the reservations, they are a band with purpose and image. “When people are at a show they want to see what’s not seen before,” said Alex Kapranos at the end of their recent world tour. “Ironically what audiences see has to be fresh, but what they hear has to be familiar, as any band will tell you when you introduce new songs.”


With the fresh visual image very much in mind Specialz undertook two significant but distinctly different pieces of work for the band, an upscale dummy backline, and an entirely new form of projection surface.


“The dummy backline was very much Alex’s idea; Nick McCarthy the drummer drew up the design.” Explained tour Production Manager Bob O’Brien. “They wanted something over stated, retro and with the band logo on it. They asked for the large red neon’s and Specialz added the outsize Vu meters with little audio sensors to trigger them. They look great and the band love them; from my perspective they’re quick and easy, and they’ve travelled well.”


“The projection surface also began life as a band idea, a set of panels rather than a contiguous piece then our LD Cormac Jackson developed from that general idea,” continued O’Brien.


“What Specialz came up with for Cormac is essentially 600mm square panels of a hard-foam centred aluminium foil sandwich. The panels are hinged vertically together which allows the screen to fold on itself; at full size 48’ wide by 20’ tall, it can be de-rigged and packed in 20 minutes.” Cormac was pleased, “The screen takes projection well; on recommendation from Dave Smith at Specialz we had the panels painted BBC grey which takes colour well and reduces flare. The main point of the panel design was to be modular, to be able to scale up or down for different stages. It’s not a big deal to squeeze this up when needed.”


Specialz also provided the dramatic 10’ high “Franz” sign, and the show was lit by Cormac Jackson. Says Jackson, “A lot of the time you are tying to create a design that doesn’t exist, but my client had a very clear idea of what they wanted. Specialz were able to bring those very obscure ideas to life and now that’s why we have 10’ high female mannequins that move, have legs that kick, are dressed in bespoke costumes, and have a moving light as a head. The wealth of experience and knowledge that Specialz* to any project is always a bonus, that’s what you get be it electrical, mechanical, electronic, stage design, stage lighting and more importantly common sense.”


To increase the visual dynamic Cormac had Specialz add electro-luminescent tape to boarder each panel, “not an easy addition to make tourable,” said Smith, “but well worth the effort; Cormac’s idea is inspired.” An observation heartily confirmed by O’Brien. “Specialz have always been amazing and been able to deliver, even on the tricky last minute stuff like this. A usual conversation with Dave might end with him asking: ''When do you want them for?".....with me answering ''Before doors open tonight!!''. He’s never let us down and has been superb.”