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Barco creates giant 360-degree LED screen for U2

KUURNE, Belgium — Barco has announced the world’s first transformable LED screen for U2’s latest world tour. With its 360° shape, the LED screen surrounds the band while performing and can change shape in all directions during the concert. For the third time this millennium, the Barco/U2 cooperation resulted in a revolutionary approach to video, this time totaling more than 500,000 pixels of video, making it the biggest LED screen ever used in concert touring. U2’s worldwide tour kicked off June 30 in a sold-out Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain.

The stage and show were created by long-time U2 designers Willie Williams and Mark Fisher. With the help of Chuck Hoberman and Barco their vision of a 360° moving video screen was turned into reality. Barco provided more than half a million transformable LED pixels (FLX), which are integrated into a transformable structure designed by Barco’s Innovative Designs, based on a Hoberman invention. The resulting giant LED screen has a 24 by 16 meter diameter and changes shape in all directions, making U2 the first band ever to go on a tour with a transformable LED screen.

“Video is the most powerful tool you can have on stage,” said Willie Williams, U2 show designer. “But now that video is so ubiquitous in rock stage setting, we needed a very extreme change of canvas to be heard. The transformable LED gave us the chance to create a transparent 360° moving video element, unprecedented in this industry. It is the icing on the cake on this design.”

“It is thrilling to see the work I have been doing with transformable structures expressed in such a whole new way,” Chuck Hoberman said. “The screen is like a living thing, it continuously changes shapes and forms and the video acts like live skin on it. It is one of the most fascinating objects in the world now.”
VIDEO:Behind the scenes of making the 360° transformable LED screen

“We wanted to create something that was bigger than a conventional stage. This tour was big enough to make a purpose built structure,” says Mark Fisher, U2 stage designer. I wanted to create a transparent stage and really needed a video screen that would fit in that environment, a round screen that would not block the view for the audience. Barco’s FLX gave us the chance to create this. We were happy to be working with Barco again; they have helped very well in the past and delivered an extraordinary product for this show.”

In addition to the giant LED screen, Barco integrated a total of 1,200 FLX-60 pixel modules surrounding the edges of both the A and B stages and the bridges. The stage LEDs provide an extra dimension to the graphic show projected on the screen. Almost one thousand customized lights, specifically designed for this tour and manufactured in the Barco premises, light up the stage canvas for an even more memorable show.