Innibos is South Africa’s largest Afrikaans annual music festival. The four-day event attracted 106 000 people to Nelspruit this year from 26 to 29June, where 48 bands took to five main music stages as punters went through 22 000 litres of beer, almost 25 000 pancakes and a rather alarming 8 646 rolls of toilet paper!

Considering Afrikaans only makes up about 10% of South Africa’s speaking language, the festival numbers at Innibos are even more impressive – on the Saturday night alone, 54 000 people were in attendance.

And it was an impressive billing this year, featuring the likes of Bok van Blerk, Oros in “n Lang glas, Die Tuindwergies, Karen Zoid, Frankie Fire, Bittereinder and VanFokKingTasties; and there was also a flea market, various works of art on show and even a fairground thrown in for good measure.

Sound Headquarters provided the lighting and audio for the main stage, the latter of which centred on EAW’s new KF Series: 28 KF760s made up the main PA; 12 KF740s were provided for the delays; and 24 KF730s were chosen for side fills. In addition, 18 SB1000 and 12 SB2001 subwoofers provided low-end reinforcement and 14 Microwedges were deployed for fold back.

In terms of control, two Soundcraft Vi1s did the trick at FOH and monitor position respectively, and the microphone setup constituted a dozen Shure BETA 58s, each with its own ULX-D receiver.

The main stage lighting rig was designed by Johan Ferreira at JSF Productions and was predominantly Robe-centric: a full-size GrandMA console was in command of 24 Robin Washes; 12 Robin 600 Beams; and six Robin 600 Spots made up the core, which was complemented by 24 Clay Paky Sharpys, 12 2K Fresnels and 24 Briteq LED banks.

It also required a sizeable amount of LED – enter long-term AV specialist, EPH Productions, which provided 250-square metres of LED via its own 7, 12 and 16mm resolution Top Vision screens. Company owner, Leon Pheiffer, brought in trusted colleague Penmac’s Malcolm Finlay to lend a helping hand.

“I brought in Malcolm about six months prior to the event, We’ve worked together many times on projects like this, but none are ever quite the same,’ Pheiffer says. “The whole stage was run with (Dataton) Watchout graphics and video, which is Malcolm’s speciality.’

Finlay used Watchout to cater for seven sources including two outer screens, two huge towers (one at each side of the stage), two square blocks in front of the drum risers and the back panels.

“We started with the drawing of the stage, then took every panel and mapped it to the logical video resolution – basically, each one had its own resolution; and then we put all of those panels together as they needed to make up one composite image as viewed by the audience,’ Finlay reveals. “In addition to that, we were feeding all of the music tracks for the band and click tracks out of Watchout. Furthermore, although not spec’ed initially, later on we put live camera feed onto the surface as well, across the whole stage or onto individual panels as required.’
Despite being somewhat of an old hand when it comes to these kind of events, Finlay insists that every one retains a uniqueness that doesn’t allow him to even consider going on “auto-pilot’.

“We break up the stage and design every panel and feed, and when we know what that is, we put the content together,’ he explains. “The amount of planning for this job was huge due to the fact that what we’re really doing is creating a big music video that runs across the whole surface for the duration of the show; all of those screens were produced into one huge video which we mapped initially and then had our content creator make background videos to fit all the panels as if they were one surface – we then split them up into separates.

“Like any job, you have to look out for certain things that could go wrong, but because we’ve been doing it a long time, we know what we’re looking out for, so we’re never coming in cold, so to speak – for example, if we’re spacing the LED panels apart, we know that we need to allow for gaps in-between and thankfully we can do all of that very easily on Watchout.’

The EHP and Penmac partnership is impressive for a number of reasons, not least the level of detail that went into certain elements of the pre-production work for Innibos.

“Because you’ve got four different artists on the main stage each night, there are never any repeats, which means we’ve got to study what they’re all going to do,’ says Pheiffer. “For this reason, we had them send us their music videos, which enabled us to then incorporate their respective look and feel on stage using a click track.’

Resolution has come on leaps and bounds in the world of LED, especially in the last few years, which is why it’s such major talking point in the live industry. But isn’t a 5mm or 7mm screen overkill for an outdoor event?

“Oh, the 5mm screen is awesome even for Powerpoint,’ says Pheiffer, with a smile. “But the benefits of the higher quality screens are huge across the board. With an LED screen, you’ve got a much stronger power lamp life, and for these kinds of events you don’t get washed by the stage lighting, so if you’re doing a show for a client on a hi-res screen on stage, you can see everything perfectly, and it’s as bright as you can imagine. Nowadays clients really like that.

“I’ll give you an example: we did an outdoor event in Durban with a 70-piece orchestra and 40-piece choir and covered the PA towers with 7mm LED as video walls, and although the audience were only four metres from the stage, from where they were standing it looked absolutely awesome, so there are certainly major advantages in using these higher resolution screens.’

EPH also provided kit for several other stages: for the MK stage, a Eurotruss roof structure was deployed along with a 12mm LED screen centre stage and two 16mm screens for the sides; two hangs of 12 JBL VerTec made up the main PA system with a Soundcraft Vi4 at FOH and Vi1 on monitors; and lighting came courtesy of 60 Martin Professional fixtures.

For the more modest Huletts and Arts stages, smaller JBL VerTec setups were provided along with 16 Martin Professional fixtures respectively.
According to Pheiffer, the event was a major success, and although EPH is firmly established as one of the leading companies in its field, he’ll never take his eye off the ball.

“Ourselves and Penmac are certainly pushing the envelope when it comes to LED setups, and also, Watchout itself is pushing it too in South Africa,’ he states. “EPH is always trying new designs and coming up with new ideas to keep us ahead of the game, so as a company we are always evolving; that’s why we’re one of the frontrunners in the country.’