Under the Dome at Hillsong Conference Europe
UK: Each year the European leg of Hillsong Church’s global conference series takes place at London’s O2 Arena. The event comprises the main conference that is staged inside the arena itself, while neighbouring venue, indigo at The O2, which is situated beneath the former Millennium Dome alongside The O2 Arena, hosts a youth conference. There is a kid’s programme that is set up from scratch and this year saw four temporary venues constructed under the dome to cater for different age groups. External venues were also built for breakout sessions.
‘We get in on the Monday and we have two setup days on the Monday and Tuesday,’ explains Rich Harris, head of department, Hillsong London Production. ‘Then on Wednesday we’re in rehearsals and Wednesday night the conference starts. It’s a big venue; there is enough time to set up, but there’s a lot to do.’
Inside the main arena, Hillsong Conference Europe calls upon the global stage design implemented at all of the megachurch’s conferences around the world. ‘The stage is designed for different conferences, then the local team is tasked to make sure that it all goes in and that it all works,’ Mr Harris notes. ‘Everything is sourced locally for each event.
‘Due to the size and nature of this, we do bring in companies that we work closely with or those to provide arena-specific kit,’ he continues. ‘We have companies coming in providing A/V, sound and lighting and they work closely with us in terms of making sure that we are delivering on the brief and the design and that it comes in on budget.’
For this year’s main conference, the Hillsong London Production team deployed a PA system that was built around d&b audiotechnik J-Series loudspeakers. ‘It was 16 in the mains, 12 in the side hangs and we then flew nine J-Subs behind the mains,’ recalls Mr Harris. ‘We did a high flying rig of eight J-Series speakers, and then we put some Y-Series delays in to provide coverage behind the delay screens. We also used J-Series for surrounds.’
The audio solution was powered by d&b D80 amplifiers and run on an extensive DiGiCo/Optocore network. ‘We had four SD racks and some other Optocore devices all running on one loop,’ furthers Mr Harris. ‘We had an SD7 for FOH, two SD10s for monitors and an SD8 to do the systems patch. In total we had four consoles, five rigs and four SD racks with Optocore Madi DDR to bring in Madi streams for playback. So it was all networked and we had Optocore fed straight to an Optocore box in the amp rack, which outputted AES directly into the amps.’
Behind the stage, a large, curved LED screen dominated the set design. ‘It was an 18m curved LED screen, a 7mm Roe product,’ says Mr Harris. Complementing this were a side projection screen each side of the stage and rear delay screens providing visual reinforcement.
‘We ran screens through a Barco E2 switcher and we ran the main LED screen in dual HD (3840x1080) because of the pixel count. It was such a wide screen that it was wider than HD so we made use of the fact that the E2 can output to 4K and produced one canvas across the whole of the LED screen. We could upscale content and move it around within a bigger window.’