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Belfast firm had hand in Lady Gaga's magic fingers during Bowie tribute at Grammys

By Amanda Ferguson

Outrageous performer Lady Gaga controlled her stage effect ch-ch-changes using Northern Ireland technology during her Grammy tribute to David Bowie.

Giant mood rings made by a Belfast firm adorned the hands of the controversial singer during her hotly debated tribute performance to Bowie, allowing her to control the effects on the stage as she sang parts of Changes, Let's Dance and Rebel, Rebel among others.

The American pop star wore the 3D printed rings made by Laser Prototypes Europe (LPE) when she paid homage to the British music legend with an Intel-powered, tech-heavy megamix routine.

While the performance to honour Bowie - who died last month from cancer - was generally accepted to be heartfelt and visual spectacle, the overall reaction to the Poker Face singer's offering was not as positive as perhaps she would have hoped for.

Bowie's son Duncan Jones appeared not to enjoy the six-minute performance from one of his father's most famous fans.

"Overexcited or irrational, typically as a result of infatuation or excessive enthusiasm; mentally confused," he wrote on Twitter.

"Damn it! What IS that word!?"

But back in Belfast the team at LPE were thrilled to see the 3D rings they produced on display to a global audience of millions.

LPE sales director Campbell Evans told the Belfast Telegraph the pieces Gaga requested are known as 'curie rings' and were created just days prior to the performance using stereolithography in Belfast following their design in London by a company called XO.

The rings were hand-painted with a rose gold and opal clear finish by the LPE staff within a few days, allowing the engineering team to quickly incorporate Intel graphics technology, which responded to the ring and how Lady Gaga moved on stage.

"The rings were very prominent," Mr Evans said.

"They have tech inside them that allowed her to control the effects on the stage behind her. It's brand new Intel technology enclosed in the ring.

"We got the order about a week ago and built the parts."

LPE's London client XO has commissioned it to make other pieces for Lady Gaga in the past, including lights and mirrors for a dress and shoes.

"It is very much low volume requirement," Mr Evans said.

"It is handy to come to us because we can 3D print quickly in the space of a few days."

In a statement issued seconds after Lady Gaga's performance, the pop star spoke about bridging music and technology at the Grammys.

"I like to do things that integrate technology and art with powerful experiences," she said.

In the past LPE has made props for several entertainment industry projects.

The business, based just off the Castlereagh Road, was set up in 1991 and is regarded as one of the longest-established prototyping and 3D bureaus in the UK and Ireland.

"Having already worked extensively on previous Lady Gaga costume effects, props for Game Of Thrones, X Men and even Mrs Browns Boys Da Movie, we knew what we had to do to offer a high quality, fast service required to meet the tight deadline required for the recent Grammy Awards show," Mr Evans added.

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