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grandMA Helps Ex-Machina Celebrate Quebec's 400th Anniversary

grandMA Helps Ex-Machina Celebrate Quebec's 400th Anniversary

quebecThe festivities marking the 400th anniversary of the city of Quebec, the birthplace of French civilization in North America and a UNESCO World Heritage site, couldn't have taken place without grandMA.

The Image Mill (Le Moulin à Images), a sound and image spectacular created by Robert Lepage and Ex-Machina, employed a grandMA and grandMA Light to control the dynamic lighting for what was believed to be the world's largest video projection. A.C.T Lighting is the exclusive distributor of the grandMA in North America.

Each evening in July at sunset, the Port of Quebec's 81 monumental Bunge company grain elevators on the banks of the Bassin Louise were transformed into an immense projection screen -- the ultimate in widescreen viewing. The Image Mill was visible from many vantage points, including across the St. Lawrence River, displaying Lepage's four-part vision of Quebec history from the 17th century-themed Water Highway to today's telecommunications-fueled Air Highway.

Lighting designer Martin Gagnon of Ambiances Lighting and Visual Design was part of the original design team when the process began three years ago. “In 2007, we really started to look at the lighting and lighting control solution which was a challenge because of the number of DMX channels we had to control,” he points out. “I had worked with the grandMA before but never to that kind of scale.”

The grandMA provided the DMX-control capabilities and the onsite flexibility he required for the mammoth project. “We used over 36 DMX universes to control the very unique 3,000 pixels of LED lighting above the screens,” he notes. “Since I already knew the console, I knew its capacity to do time-based show control, and it was really an easy creative process for me.”

Dominic Minguy-Jean, in charge of programming and operations for Ex-Machina, says the innovative Image Mill was “a show not to be missed. It was mostly a video show; the lighting was the icing on the cake. So you needed to know the right moments for lighting, the right places for the lighting to be triggered.”

Gagnon agrees. “The lighting was used to complement the video and help create the environment and special effects. We had to dim a lot of the lighting in order not to upstage the video. It was the ‘luminance lace' of the project.”

The grandMA and grandMA Light controlled 110 SGM Genio moving lights, 88 iColor Flex SLs, one Synchrolite, three HES Studio Colors and six City Colors plus 24 ZR33s and 24 Versa Fans provided by Christie Light.

“We pushed the grandMA and required additional NSPs once the console was onsite,” Gagnon reports. “As far as the programming was concerned, it was quite easy. The bitmap animation wizard feature was useful to play with the pixels, and we stacked cues and multiple layers. Everything was linked to multiple timecode sequences, so it was quite efficient and tight.”

Minguy-Jean served as the console's lighting programmer and operated the desk. “I had worked with the grandMA before, but never on such a complex event,” he says. “The system was really fine to work with. We set up every light as a fixture instead of using a video server. We could work in a sequence in a theater stack and then switch to timecode. The grandMA enabled us to mix and match concepts easily.”

At Ex-Machina Mario Brien was production director and Michel Loiselle technical director. The grandMAs were rented from Solotech where Richard Lachance is vice president of rentals, Martin Chouinard operation director and Marc Porlier project designer for electrical, fiber and networking.

About A.C.T Lighting

A leading importer and distributor of lighting products, A.C.T Lighting, Inc. strives to identify future trends and cutting-edge products, and stock, sell and support their inventory. The company provides superior customer service and value for money to all of its clients. For more information, call 818-707-0884 or visit

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