At this year's Ultra Music Festival, grandMA consoles were the dominant control solution on the Main Stage and Live Stage and in the Carl Cox & Friends Arena. Clay Paky lighting also stole the spotlight on the Main Stage where an array of fixtures were selected for the performance area and lighting effects. A.C.T Lighting is the exclusive distributor of the grandMA and a distributor of Clay Paky lighting in North America.
The 13th annual Ultra Music Festival (UMF) held its first-ever three-day event at Miami's Bicentennial Park drawing more than 100,000 people to the celebration of electronic music.
"We used a grandMA2 full-size on the new Main Stage and a grandMA full-size on the Live Stage," says lighting designer Steve Lieberman of SJ Lighting, Inc. "The Main Stage had several acts per day that had full production riders to fill so, for the festival package, we decided to make the wings of the stage a very strong visual presence with large-scale video and heavy lighting effects. We also added 40-foot flame cannons on the top of the structure.
"Inside the performance area we created a versatile system that could accommodate the majority of the acts," he explains. "With a large-scale, semi-transparent video screen upstage, we put a custom fabricated unistrut structure, covered with nearly 300 individual LED tubes, upstage of the video wall. This created a very dynamic effect that balanced and complemented the video screen."
The Main Stage's DJ booth also was unique. "We used 21 Element Krypton 25 fixtures in combination with the Elation DLED 60 strip," Lieberman reports. "Eight Cryo jets on the downstage edge and confetti blowers were also available to the various acts, and we were loaded with Atomic strobes, Krypton 25s, 8-Lites and Colorblast LEDs."
Clay Paky was the primary lighting on the Main Stage, with Alpha Spot HPE 1500s the spot fixture of choice for the performance area. "Their great zoom range, fantastic iris functions and outstanding aerial gobos were some of the features that really made this fixture stand out," Lieberman notes.
Clay Paky Alpha Beam 1500s were placed on 55-foot towers offstage of the performance area. "These fixtures have a tremendous output and really gave me the capability of creating very big looks with our stage no matter what needed to happen on the performance area," he states.
Lieberman also placed eight Clay Paky Sharpy fixtures on the downstage edge for beam aerial effects. "Don't be fooled by their small package - I was lighting up buildings across the highway with these fixtures!" he says. "They kept up with the rest of the rig with no problem at all; considering that the rest of the system was all 1500w units, I was very impressed!
The Live Stage had a more traditional design, he notes, to handle "constant changeovers" of acts. "Downstage, midstage, upstage and sidestage trusses were used so that any band could be fully covered with the festival system," he says. "Since this was an electronic festival, we made sure to add in a full complement of LEDs, strobes, blinders, moving lights and lasers. There was a large upstage video wall and two more video walls offstage left and right. We also built a scaffold stage left and right to accommodate the offstage screens and serve as positions for additional lighting and lasers."
Lieberman says that "as a designer the grandMA2 offers all the tools I need to put on a great show. In these environments, where the music is not scripted, the grandMA2 makes a great busking console. The ability to run the desk and make changes in an instant is invaluable to me as an operator. When you have 16 universes full of moving lights, LEDs, conventional lights and more, you really need to be fast laying things down.
"Both grandMA and grandMA2 consoles are ideal in these situations," he points out. "With MAtricks, the advanced Effects Engine and the very linear syntax of the grandMA - to list just a few items - it was an ideal choice for me."
At UMF's new Carl Cox & Friends Arena a pair of grandMA full-size consoles controlled lighting designed by Lieberman. The two-level Arena, a mega-structure built by AG Lighting, was the largest enclosed sound structure ever featured in Florida; it featured original cutting-edge production and a custom DJ booth nearly 30-feet wide. Full, three-dimensional design built into the stage and protruding off the downstage edge gave the illusion of the booth floating; the DJ was elevated about four feet off the stage deck inside the booth.
Video panels divided by truss towers arched around the stage creating a full backdrop of lighting and video to complete the stage display. Over the dance floor a multi-tiered truss design boasted moving lights, strobes, LEDs, pinspot bars and inflatable décor elements. Kryogenifex installed an LN2 system to periodically cool off the crowd during the event.
"We chose the grandMA full-size mainly because I had already prepped a complement of lighting looks on the platform as well as an existing set up of external MIDI triggering from an electronic drum pad that triggered certain cues during performances," explains Patrick Dierson, the programmer and lighting director for the Carl Cox & Friends Arena.
Dierson enjoys working shows such as UMF because they take him back to his roots working underground raves and clubs. Nevertheless, "12 hours a day for three days straight, non-stop - that's a lot of work!" he exclaims. "My fingers were literally bleeding after the first day. But I don't run a show like this the way the average operator would. I try to make sure that the visuals match the audio experience as tightly as possible, so it's not just a bunch of sloppy light beams waving around the whole time.
"There's a definite connection between the music being played and what the audience is visually experiencing, and it ultimately translates to a very emotional experience," he explains. "It's a difficult task to pull off when you have absolutely no idea what's coming up next, and everything is played back on the fly."
Dierson used the grandMA to control an inventory of 44 Coemar Infinity spot XLs,12 Coemar Infinity washes, 18 High End Intellaspot XT-1s, 20 Elation DLED strips, 22 Martin Atomic 3000 strobes, 24 Elation LED 4Lite blinders and eight 2-light Moles.
Dierson had previously used external MIDI triggering from an electronic drum pad on concert tours and found it particularly useful for UMF. "As you can imagine, running a very live light show for 12 hours straight can lead to bouts of repetition," he says. "Simply being able to play back lighting cues in a more organic way not only broke the monotony but also allowed for a bit of showmanship for a crowd that's very appreciative and as tuned in with the lighting and visuals as the music being performed."
According to Dierson, "the grandMA worked flawlessly, as usual. I often take for granted just how wickedly stable the grandMA platform is. Every once in a while I'm forced to work on some other console, and it's a cold, hard slap of digital reality. The grandMA has never failed me despite the adverse conditions it's been dumped into. It's always a pleasure to be connected to one!"
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