Who: Dan Shipton, director of creative production agency Black Skull Productions
Known for Kate Bush's comeback tour; work on the London 2012 Olympics opening and closing ceremonies; Brit Awards; The X Factor; and Ellie Goulding's 600ft dress and light show at the Royal Variety Performance.
How did you get into creative production?
I trained at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and started as a theatre stage manager before I moved to ITV for ten years. I now work with record companies. If an artiste is to perform on the The X Factor, for example, I will be given a budget and a song and will design a performance that hopefully resonates with the audience and boosts record sales.
What are the key trends defining creative production?
Expectations are higher than ever before.
The audience expects technology and innovation, but they get bored of the same tricks. Technology gets eaten up quickly once it has been used, because unless it can be applied in a different way, it has already 'been done'.
It's not all about technology though. Some of the most memorable performances - such as Adele's appearance at the Brit Awards in 2011 – simply use a little pixie dust and a piano. She created an emotional connection with the audience. Performances must be engaging and memorable, and give breathing space to the performer.
Colours are important too. Part of the reason Strictly Come Dancing is getting more viewers than The X Factor could be because Strictly's set is warmer and softer. The X Factor uses a colder colour palette of blue and steel - it's harder to watch if you want to sit back and relax.
Building projection is exciting but everyone has seen it now. The next step would be to use projections on a hill at somewhere like Glastonbury.
There is a desire to deliver light over the body, but it still appears robotic. It needs to be softer and to appear like a fabric, so that it doesn't restrict movement.
Secret to successful design?
An approachable performance that makes a connection with your audience is key. Technology and innovation are important, but sometimes the simple ideas work best.
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