Katy Perry’s “Witness: The Tour” is more than just a concert production; it’s a kooky and creative journey that includes dancing eyeballs, giant insects, a massive inflatable hand and even a flight through space, courtesy of Saturn. It all reflects Perry’s personality, and it should, since Perry is directly involved in the design.
“Katy’s productions are always amazing, and she invariably has something new and challenging to achieve. ‘Witness: The Tour’ is using our new RC4Magic Series 3 SX software, which makes LEDs in props and costumes even more pleasing to the eye, thanks to our exclusive 19-bit per color wireless dimming,” says James David Smith, President and Chief Developer at RC4 Wireless, headquartered in Raleigh, NC. RC4 has been working with Perry since her California Dreams Tour in 2011.
RC4 Wireless technology is there along for the ride with Perry as she works her way through her somewhat surreal, planet-hopping adventure. When Katy struts out on stage during “Déjà Vu” – surrounded by a massive stylized Venus flytrap– she’s wearing an LED-infused beret, illuminated by Tom Talmon of Tom Talmon Studio, based in Los Angeles.
“I’m fairly new to RC4 gear; back in the day, I used to tinker and try to find ways to do things with my electronics experience. I’ve always been resourceful and somehow figured it out,” states Talmon. But as technology advanced, Talmon saw the need to advance as well. “I was using equipment that was not necessarily cutting edge, but it was still better than what the consumer could buy. However, I wanted to be even better, and now, I can do much more with the RC4 Wireless units, especially in terms of pixel control,” he says.
For Perry’s beret, Talmon is using an RC4Magic S3 2.4SX DMX4dim, a 4-channel dimmer, paired with an RC4Magic S3 2.4SX DMXio transceiver, which can operate as either a transmitter or receiver. “Especially when illuminating costumes, the compact size of RC4 units is important, as is the fact that it seems to be bulletproof; it’s not cheap Chinese radio controlled garage door openers, which I’ve altered and used in the past. The units have good circuit protection, and it’s hard to mess things up,” he admits. All of the RC4 Wireless 2.4SX products operate in the 2.4GHz bandwidth, which is the recommended bandwidth for international tours.
The legendary RC4 Wireless reliability was also important to Talmon. “When you’re doing something live, you want it to work the way it’s supposed to work. The RC4 equipment has been extremely easy to work with; it finds the signal and works flawlessly. In the end, it’s nice to have a stable, reliable system out there,” Talmon notes
During “Hey, Hey, Hey,” the LED walls upstage slide open to reveal Perry astride a motion-controlled motorcycle. It has illuminated head and tail lights that are controlled via two RC4Magic S3 2.4SX DMXio transceivers. The motorcycle was fabricated by Santa Fe Springs-based DAS Design Works, who has a longstanding relationship with the RC4 Wireless team. “They are absolutely the only wireless DMX that we’ll work with, and it’s not just due to their products. Their service is amazing; between the product and their customer service, we have no reason to call anyone else,” states Aaron Ford, a partner at DAS Design Works.
During one of her flights, Perry is in a stylized star wirelessly controlled by a dozen RC4 Wireless RC4Magic S3 2.4SX DMXio transceivers; the star was fabricated by Santa Fe Springs, CA-based ShowFX. An RC4Magic S3 2.4SX DMXio-HG transceiver and an RC4 S3 2.4SX DMX4dim can be found on the massive inflatable lion head created by Burnsville, MN-based Landmark Creations that dominates the epic song “Roar.” “The RC4 equipment has been working flawlessly; technically, there have been no issues at all,” notes Thomas Walls, the lighting crew chief for The Witness Tour.
There are a handful of people on the tour who operate various aspects of the wireless system including carpenters and wardrobe; not all of them have experience with wireless dimming. “The learning curve with the RC4 equipment was pretty seamless and it all made sense to us,” says Walls. Ease of use is one of the hallmarks of the RC4 Wireless system, where all of the products work in a similar manner; the firm calls it “Harmonized Design”.
“The beauty of the RC4 Harmonized Design is that new concepts, techniques, and methods introduced for one product or project can seamlessly transfer to all our other products. Thus, overcoming the 16-bit barrier and delivering 19-bit per color LED dimming in our DMX4dim results in higher resolution dimming in our LumenDim and W-DIM lines as well. The same is true when new dimmer curves and other features are added. Everything advances together, is debugged and tested together, and is released together,” states Smith.
One of the unique features of RC4 Wireless products is the System ID; this gives each user a super secure, private ID that is used only for their particular wireless DMX universe and the RC4 devices associated with it. “The crew really likes the unique System IDs and were able to understand how to set the system up without any problems,” Walls adds. While other firms have user IDs, RC4 Wireless is the only firm that provides each user a private, secure ID that is used exclusively for that individual.
Katy Perry, her props, her beret, and RC4 are touring the world through August of 2018.