The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso spent ten days in Britain as part of a tireless mission to share his beliefs of non-violence, dialogue and compassion with audiences all over the world. The Buddhist religious leader has been to Britain several times before and originally planned to revisit in 2014-15 as part of a schedule of appearances booked many years in advance. However, the urban riots last summer prompted His Holiness to re-time the trip specifically to address this country's youth on the subject of political change by peaceful means, just as global attention turns toward the UK and the London Olympics.

The visit saw the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate meet political, business and religious representatives in Westminster and Edinburgh but the focus was on addressing younger audiences notably at the Manchester Arena (16-18 June) in a three day event, the first of which was hosted by Russell Brand. "Stand Up and Be The Change", presented to 8,000 people on June 16, was the largest event ever staged for the Dalai Lama in the UK, surpassing the 6000 who listened to his teachings at Nottingham Arena in 2008, and at the SECC in Glasgow in 2004.

"We have been involved with events for His Holiness The Dalai Lama for over twenty years," explained QED director Stephen Heliczer. "This has included visits all over the world, including Australia and mainland Europe. We have a special understanding of these events and always enjoy working extremely closely with the large organising committees. These are considered very special events which attract considerable press and political interest."

Unlike many arena shows this was completely non-profit with all tickets free to under 25s for the Saturday youth activity, and sold at a minimal price on Sunday and Monday. Familiarity with the nature of the exiled Tibetan leader's public speaking requirements meant that Heliczer was handed full responsibility for the design of the event. "There are many complex issues which can arise on a job of this scale, so I took an early decision to employ the services of Pod Bluman (of event production specialists Bluman Associates) to shoulder some of the production management pressures" explains Heliczer. "We've worked with Pod for years and he has enormous experience in staging large events".

The Manchester event was organised by the London-based Tibet House Trust, and included sessions on Sunday and Monday devoted to public talks and Buddhist teachings. The backdrop was hung with saffron drapes either side of a gold drape, and the stage populated with silver birch saplings. Bouquets of gold and saffron roses and bougainvillea flanked a trio of chairs including an upholstered "throne", centre stage.

With the doors opening on the Saturday at midday for a 13:30 start there was a rush to rig the event in time, given that pop-punks Blink 182 had only vacated their tenancy at 4am the same morning. QED supplied much of the 50-strong technical personnel including camera crew, vision mixing, graphics, recording, projection technicians and sales staff, and was also responsible for the video production, opting for 4 Sony HXC-100 cameras, two of which were framed on the Dalai Lama from the pit and two cameras with X86 Lenses at FOH.

The live mix via Christie Spyder X20 was projected using Christie WU20K-J projectors onto two 24ft x 13.5ft rear projection screens hung to stage left and right and a central WU20K-J front projecting gobos and imagery onto the backdrop. Recording was supplemented by AJA Ki Pro hard disks. Adam Bending was the QED's Video HoD on-site and also designed the complete video system. VT inserts and images were sourced from Tibet House Trust.

It was very important there were no cameras on the stage itself, or in the line of sight, so everything was shot with extremely long lenses. Mixing everything on a Spyder X20 rack enabled as many input sources and output sources to be efficiently managed as well as handling the multitude of different formats. QED also produced packs of DVDs and MP3 audio recordings, managed and designed the event website as well as handling the live streaming and the continual updates on YouTube, Vimeo, Twitter and Facebook channels.

QED Technical Team

Stephen Heliczer, Production Director
Pod Bluman, Production Manager
Mike Pedley, Online Services Manager
Adam Bending, Video HoD
David Voyce, Senior AV Technician
Viral Patel, Vision Mixer/Director
Wolfgang Schram, Video Engineer
Harry Ricardo, Camera Operator
Paul Mortlock, Camera Operator
Matt Rishton, Camera Operator
Craig Dunbar, AV Technician
Richard Porter, Graphics Technician
Charlie Canavan, Stage Manager
Aidan McLaughlin, Stage Liaison
Chris Simmons, SI Manager


Bluman Associates


Capital Sound


Neg Earth


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