As plans were being laid for the tour, U2's longtime creative director, Willie Williams, and the scenic design team at London-based Stufish Entertainment Architects, led by Ric Lipson, were involved in a corporate show; “Salesforce, a corporate company, had an event in San Francisco called Dreamforce,” Lipson says. “We were doing a one-night show for Dreamforce. We put together a production loosely based on the concept of a drive-in movie theatre, because the site of the event, The Cow Palace, used to have [such a venue]. The design of the Salesforce show was a big slab of video, top and tail with lights, and a basic PA system. We suddenly realised that this was a really beautiful thing, which we knew, because we had a big video screen for the Innocence + Experience Tour in 2015.” The idea resonated, and the design team decided on a 200' curved LED wall comprised of ROE Visual CB8 8mm tiles, which was provided, along with the rest of the tour's video gear, by the Los Angeles office of PRG Nocturne.
“It was obvious from day one that Anton Corbijn [who took the photos for the original Joshua Tree album] should make the films for 'The Joshua Tree' portion of the show— it’s his aesthetic and he found the damn tree, after all,” Williams says. “In Act III, there’s a film by the French artist JR about Syria [for the song 'Miss Sarajevo'] and a couple more things made by me and my usual team, which includes Sam Pattinson, at The Third Company, and Ben Nicholson, at Empirical Studio.”
Video director Stefaan 'Smasher' Desmedt says, “I spent two months configuring 'The Joshua Tree’s' video system with the guys from PRG Nocturne, so that it would be actually tourable. It’s not just a normal, conventional video system.” The combination of its extreme width and 8mm resolution poses many challenges, he notes: “A lot of people make a mistake—they end up with this super high resolution screen, but there’s no money for the back end, like cameras and visuals. If you shot this in just HD, you would have to stretch the image four times, and by then you’d be able to play chess on it, since it would look so digitized and ugly. There are not many tours that are taking 4K, because you don’t need it—but we needed it because of the resolution of the screen.”