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The Big Kahuna

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Being a geek of long standing, I found this interesting:


Led Zeppelin Returns Bigger Than Life, Backed by Kahuna SD/HD Production Switcher From Snell & Wilcox

January 23, 2008

Source: Snell & Wilcox

As Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, and Jason Bonham opened the Led Zeppelin reunion show — a tribute to Ahmet Ertegun, the late founder of Atlantic Records and mentor to many music icons — they launched into "Good Times Bad Times" against a 28-meter by 10-meter backdrop featuring video mixed on a Snell & Wilcox Kahuna SD/HD multiformat production switcher. For this, the first song on the band's 1969 debut album, and the next 15 songs that rocked London's O2 arena on Dec. 10, 2007, Concert Video Director Dick Carruthers used the Kahuna to create the visual spectacle envisioned by the legendary troupe for its stage return.

"Led Zeppelin songs vary massively from gentle, tender blues to knock-your-head-off songs like 'Kashmir' and 'Whole Lotta Love,' and to reflect this the Kahuna allowed us to create and apply a variety of beautiful textures perfectly suited to what each song was about," said Carruthers, who mixed video from the Front of House position. "The Kahuna is unparalleled in terms of its quality and what it can achieve technically, and that's only half the story because we also had the support of Snell & Wilcox behind us. We programmed layers of effects and mapped them into 20 or 30 buttons, subdivided by song, so that I could recall each one instantaneously. It was a 'Wizard of Oz' kind of thing, and the resulting pictures on stage were mind blowing."

Officially titled the Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert, this first full Led Zeppelin concert in 27 years not only recognized Ertegun, who died in 2006 at age 83, but also served as a benefit for the Ahmet Ertegun Education Fund, which will offer music student scholarships to universities in the United States, England, as well as Turkey, Ertegun's homeland. In building the images displayed behind the band's three surviving members — Plant, Page, and Jones — and drummer Jason Bonham, son of late Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, Carruthers used a 4-ME Kahuna to switch graphic material, live slow-motion playback, and eight live HD camera feeds through the switcher DVEs.

Carruthers specifically sought out the Kahuna for production of this Led Zeppelin concert, and he mastered the Kahuna quickly, becoming proficient in operating the system's interface, controls, and soft programmable keys. Though the on-screen result was at times subtle, the effects Carruthers applied with the Kahuna ranged widely from heavy colorization (blue or red in the blacks) to black and white with heavy contrast ratios to color washes and film effects such as strobing, smears, and jiggles.

Carruthers' team captured the whole event using 12 cameras recording in HDSR and also with three film cameras. Though Carruthers worked at a switching surface at Front Of House, the Kahuna mainframe was located in a CTV OB unit 150 meters away. The high quality of the uncompressed HD images and uncompressed processing allowed Carruthers to get the best out of each look. The Kahuna's transition T-bar allowed him to run timelines incorporating 30 different layers of a given effect, so while cutting cameras with his left hand, he used his right hand to ride the T-bar like a "wah-wah" in unison with Page's guitar.

"I was extremely happy with what we were able to achieve with the Kahuna, and the response has been phenomenal, overwhelming," said Carruthers. "The concert was really an ideal showcase for what the Kahuna can do, and the Kahuna in turn allowed us to present the show the way it should look."

Oh boy!!

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Excellent post, SC. Many, many thanks.

I have been meaning to nose around, find out more about the AMAZING video/media presentation Zep delivered at the O2. This answers many of the questions I had.

Well done once more, send more.



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I think that backdrop was arguably the most successful element of the show. With this prop they successfully lent visual atmosphere that was just right for every song. LZ does it again. Setting the bar for every other arena level performer. Please don't interpret this comment as discounting the music in any way. I'm just saying the backdrop was PERFECT. 100% flawlessly perfect. And used SO tastefully it dovetailed visual expression of the music and the desired atmosphere. I was knock me over with a feather impressed, and that is just from crummy low res youtube video.


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Thanks for this...was wondering about the production on the intro. So well done!

Also wondering about video recordings and what the scoop was.

Keep diggin' you come up with great results!


Thanks everyone, I appreciate it.

Found this too... check out the guy with the video camera in the background! The eventual DVD is going to have some sweet extras:


Laugh, roll up your sleeves... rock on!

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