grandMA2 and Clay Paky Sharpy fixtures have gone country playing key roles on the 'Brothers of the Sun' Tour, with Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw, and at the fan-favorite CMA Music Festival, which held concerts at Nashville's LP Field. A.C.T Lighting is the distributor of both grandMA2 and Clay Paky lighting in North America.
"I've been one of the beta testers for the grandMA2, and this year marks the first time that I felt I could exclusively spec the grandMA2," reports Mark Butts who serves as programmer for the 'Brothers of the Sun' Tour, with Chesney and McGraw, and programmer and lighting director for the CMA Music Festival. "I'm now specifying them for all my new projects."
The 'Brothers of the Sun' Tour, with Chesney and McGraw, is the tenth that Butts has done with Chesney. The all-stadium tour features "simple straight trusses but a lot of stuff. I decided to go with four grandMA2s just to manage the complexity of the show," says Butts.
The consoles need to manage large amounts of data. "Kenny has 400 lights and lots of video - 24 layers of HD video and four servers with a custom Control Freak DMX bridge. We did a whole multiuser network. The features on the grandMA2 are really great when you have multiple programmers working on the same file and the same network."
In addition, "the new effects are really cool, and the macros and interface are a lot faster and better. The hardware is also bigger, and you can see everything right in front of you," he says.
Among the lights controlled by the grandMA2s are 16 Sharpys, which lighting designer Mike Swinford configured in four groups of four mounted atop giant Marshall amp replicas.
The four-night shoot for the CMA Music Festival featured 380 lights controlled by five grandMA2s on two separate control systems and one pre-vis suite. "It was more of a modern design," Butts says. "It seemed like a really good time to upgrade. We had all these Jarags, and the grandMA2s were great at managing all that stuff."
Swinford used 55 Sharpys on the CMA Music Festival spreading them out on low circular trusses "so almost every camera would get them in frame," he explains.
Swinford was one of the first Sharpy users in the U.S. deploying the fixtures for TV and on tour. "I really like how small and fast they are," he says. "If course, their main attribute is the tight beam that cuts through any other light in the design. I think of them as the new ACL."
Butts agrees with Swinford about the power of the compact Sharpys. "They hold their own against 35 1200-watt lights in the stadiums on the tour, and they are very unique for TV."
"The Sharpys are one of the most reliable lights we have," Swinford concludes. "We seldom have issues with them."
Butts reports that the grandMA2 consoles "worked great and really made my life easy on these gigs." He also gives kudos to "the MA Lighting team and A.C.T Lighting for doing such a fantastic job supporting the systems."
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