The MadonnaTribe team has had the chance to chat with Jason
Harvey from Short & Spikey, the assistant
director & video engineer of Madonna's "Confessions
Tour". Jason created Short & Spikey in 1995 after
he left the world of post production and focused mainly on video
engineering for corporate, trade & live events, leading him
onto adding creative input to the shows he worked on via video elements
that he produced/directed via his studio and on his on site computer
After a few years he move more into the musical side where he found
the artists to be a lot more open to his vision, and teamed up with
talents such as Beck, Billy Joel, Bryan Adams, Elton John,
Eric Clapton, Gorillaz, Paul McCartney, Pink, Roger Waters, Robbie
Williams, Simply Red, Toto, Whitney Houston and Village People,
After finishing a three-year tour with Cher on her "Farewell
Tour" last year, and travelling with Bon Jovi's "Have
A Nice Day" tour where he used the worlds first portable
Hi Def system, Jason is now on the road with Madonna's "Confessions
Here is what he told us about this latest experience.
Hi Jason and welcome to MadonnaTribe.
I'd say this is more than a "welcome to the site" as since
the past few months you did really become part of Madonna's "tribe"
to work on the Confessions Tour.
How have you been approached for the job?
Jason Harvey: By Nocturne Video in the USA.
MT: Videos and projections have started having
a role that became more and more big especially since her "Drowned
I guess this can relate to the new chances offered by technology,
and this time with the "Confessions Tour" the impact of
the images is overwhelming, even stronger than the one it had in
the "re-Invention" concert.
Are you familiar with those two previous Madonna shows?
JH: Yes, but only via TV and DVD.
MT: Your life has probably been filled with music
and images, what is the kind of music you like to listen to when
you're not working?
JH: Everything but RAP Music!
MT: And how does it feel to work with so many different
artist - each one with his own particular style?
JH: Great is what I do best.
MT: You recently said that the chances offered
by state of the art software you're using make possible to achieve
results and complexities that were simply impossible to think even
a few years ago.
You've probably "witnessed" this evolution "from
inside", from when you started working and then when you opened
your own company.
would you describe the interaction between the creative part and
the technology? Iis there something leading and another following?
Or both "sides" are simply pushing each other to break
JH: Due to the Adobe Production Studio,
I’m able to edit from HD and every format below, thus giving
me full access to any footage from around the world. This helps
us to deal with any requests that come to us on site during the
tour and can then be quickly edited into a video section and or
logo in hours, with out having to go to edit suites miles away.
How important is real time editing in this Madonna show?
JH: Very important, I couldn’t live with
out my HD edit system onsite with me, and Adobe Production Studio
backing me up.
MT: You had a chance to work on footage that was
shot and cut by independent companies, and in particular you worked
on materials that were "signed" by Dago González
and Dustin Robertson, who are long-time Madonna collaborators on
her videos and past shows.
Did you have a chance to meet them, and how was working on what
they created this time?
JH: We did a great deal of tests for the studios
making footage, showing them what their footage looked like on the
set before they mastered the sections, this was all done via digital
media (hard drives) in HD and SD formats.
With out having done this some of the shows video wouldn’t
have have such a big impact.
I have a feeling that yours is one of the few roles in a show that
is a very intense blend of technology and art, a perfect knowledge
of the software but also a strong connection to the vibe of what
happens on stage that comes more from the heart than from the mind
Do you feel the same?
JH: Yes, I love to be pushed to the limit of software
and design it makes you think on both sides on the coin (the show
and the look).
MT: Do you remember the first time you were introduced
to Madonna, and what memory do you have of that moment?
JH: Have not had the pleasure to me her in person
MT: Which are the talents of the Madonna crew you
work closely with in this experience?
JH: These are the video crew guys and
without them we don’t have a video show:
Video Director: Christian Lamb
Christian also made four video elements for the show.
Video Assistant Director/Video Engineer:
Video Crew Chief: Stefaan Michels
Video LED: John Moore
Video LED: Omar Montes
Camera: Michael Sienkiewicz
Camera: Tyler D’Askquith
Camera: Joe Victoria
Camera: Peter Thornton
MT: After some 3 months of preparation,
the show finally hit the road. How was working on the rehearsals,
and how things are changing now that you are on the road?
JH: Very hard work, have you ever been locked in
a room for 8 weeks doing the same thing every day only to change
the whole thing 5 times in the last 5 days ??
Now we are on the road life is a bit calmer.
MT: I understand that there have been already some
adjustments in the show, some things that may appear as tiny details
people would barely notice but that probably have some deep repercussion
on your job.
Can you tell us something about that?
JH: We polish the show with some small edits here
and their its things you spot once the show is on the road, viewing
angles for text, etc. Very small things that people won’t
really spot and I’d like to keep them like that.
We have to have some secrets !
MT: People who do not have a knowledge of
how the technology you are using work may not understand what is
the difference between a simple backdrop video and the complexity
of what you control during the show.
I read about a nine-person crew, 22 hard drives, six digital video
cameras and two miles of video cable.
Can you tell our readers a little more of what happens during the
JH: Well I control the video playback from the
Hard drives that you see on the screens, this is done via a computer
system that tells the drives to go to a point in time and then start
to play, it also tells the video clip which screen to play on, we
run so many drives so we have a 100% backup on the show, just in
case, and the whole system is on a battery backup for power too.
During the show there are 19 Master cues and 10 safety cues.
I also make sure that the images on the side screens (imag) are
looking good. Plus the DVD’s and VTR, I also have to wear
2 x headsets during the show to hear the master show caller and
my camera team. If something happens we have to be able to react
to the issues of that moment. Thanks about it.
The show must go on !
MT: Do you have a favourite number/video in the
JH: The opener, love the horses.
MT: And which one is the most difficult to deal
JH: No one thing stands out here !
MT: There are videos on on the most part of the
show, except one song. How is that moment for you, a sort of "quiet
BETWEEN the storm", or perhaps you regret not being "in
charge" on that moment, too?
JH: Time to double check that we are 100% , have
a can of soda something like that.
MT: Madonna is know for being a prefectionist,
but at the same time she shares a lot with the people who work with
her and in the end a strong sense of "family" is created.
How is this experience being for you?
JH: I have seen she calls for 100% that’s
all I can say for now.
MT: What is your best memory of the opening night?
JH: 100% Zero errors !! Gotta like that.
MT: You're now starting experiencing the crazyness
of Madonna's fans. Do you have any funny anecdotes already, is that
difficult to work surrounded by all this "Madonna madness"?
JH: None yet, but I’m sure they will come.
While travelling with this that is set to be the longest Madonna
tour ever, is there a particular country you look forward to visit
MT: And have you something planned already for
when the tour will be over? "Vacation" is not allowed
as an answer (laughs).
JH: Seeing my wife for the 1st time in six months,
and going some where the phone doesn’t ring and email doesn’t
work for at least two weeks.
Is there a particular artist you're most fond of having worked with?
JH: Cher and Pink
MT: To wrap this chat up, Jason, which is your
fondest memory of Madonna - on or off the stage?
JH: Haven’t had the moment yet!
MT: Thanks so much Jason for sharing this time
I bet it has to be hard to even have a spare time in this frantic
tour. See you soon on the road and all the best!
For more information about Jason Harvey please
visit his www.shortandspikey.com.
Montage courtesy of www.shortandspikey.com.
Pictures from the Confessions Tour courtesy of
Alecio, Juanjo y Dani, MrPunk2U, Rafael.
This interview © 2006 MadonnaTribe