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wysiwyg on the Formula 1 Grand Prix Concerts in Abu Dhabi

wysiwyg on the Formula 1 Grand Prix Concerts in Abu Dhabi

aerosmith-10.jpgThe 2009 Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend saw an abundance of events and entertainment taking place around the city to compliment the excitement of the races. The program, produced by Flash Entertainment, was known as Yasalam, which is Arabic for fantastic, amazing and astonishing. Yasalam concluded with four nights of after-race concerts on Yas Island over the race weekend, October 29 through November 1. Held at Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi, the headliners were BeyoncJamiroquai, Kings of Leon and Aerosmith.

The high-profile concerts were only open to those lucky enough to hold tickets for the race weekend. They were not available to the general public, and only attendees to the race on the day of the concert could attend that day's concert. Still, all four shows packed a huge audience.

The stage design not only had to be exciting enough to keep pace with the prestigious artists scheduled to perform, but it also needed to be highly visible -- enough to accommodate the massive crowd and yet flexible enough to meet the unique demands for a different show each night. The final design was very open and wide, ensuring a great view for everyone in the audience. There was no roof and no front truss, which meant the back wall carried the bulk of the stage back lighting plus a giant high-resolution screen. The stage was flanked on either side with 150-foot-wide LED wings with additional effect lighting. Towers placed at the front corners of the stage contained front and side lights.

Luke Bonner of Production Technology LLC used wysiwyg to model the 750+ fixtures including moving lights, Space Cannons, strobes, 8-lights, pixelines and par 64s, in addition to the enormous LED wings. Control came from 2 GrandMA full size consoles at FOH, 1 GrandMA full size behind stage with wysiwyg, and 2 GrandMA media servers. Bonner also programmed and operated the GrandMAs and the MA video stations. Production Technology LLC delivered most of the lighting, rigging and staging. TechnoPro supplied the LED wings.

steve-and-luke-maing.jpgBonner explains, I had spoken to Rick Wade (Production Technology LLC, Project Manager) and Steve Shipman (Festival LD) about the possibility of using wysiwyg on a production of this magnitude. We all agreed so I began building the 3D model in wysiwyg based on the design from Steve Shipman which went through few changes during the design evolution and so the wysiwyg model allowed us to get a good feel of how the event would look prior to physical build. The primary use of wysiwyg would be to allow Steve and visiting lighting designers a facility to use anytime, day or night to pre-program for their particular show and not be required to compete for physical rig time. We set up a wysiwyg room backstage in a portable cabin at the event site with a large plasma screen.

In my opinion, wysiwyg complimented the event by adding an invaluable facility. Using wysiwyg onsite during a festival in the UAE is virtually unheard of. Due to the success of wysiwyg, I believe that its use will become more obvious on future events as a cost and time saving tool that LDs could use as and when required. To add additional confidence for the region, the drawings of the show could then be emailed to visiting LDs prior to them landing in Dubai, therefore allowing them to pre-program in their native country.

Steve Shipman agreed, adding, Having the wysiwyg system on site helped out big time. The lighting rig was big; I knew that it would take a lot of time just to set up a basic busking page. I spent a day in the wysiwyg room onsite while the real system was being built. When I transferred to the real rig a few days later it was just a matter of tidying up the show. The wysiwyg model had been very accurate.

beyonce-1.jpgWhen Beyonc LD Pat Brannon arrived he started programming around midnight and when the sun came up at 6:00 AM he moved into the wysiwyg room and did a few more hours. Paul Dexter, Lighting Designer for Aerosmith, arrived in the afternoon the day before his show. He was able to go straight into programming in wysiwyg while the real system was doing another show.

Paul Dexter was very happy with the results for the Aerosmith show, and especially for the efficiency that wysiwyg provided. The wysiwyg Visualizer enabled Luke, Steve and me to program on a GrandMA console long before the show started. It is a relief to know that in a one-off festival situation that, with advance programming time, a show can look like it's already been on tour for months. Steve Shipman designed a gloriously ambitious system and thankfully I was able to explore all that it was capable of - accurately. Once we downloaded the advance work from the wysiwyg visualizer system into the concert console at front of house, the scenes needed some touch up focus and lighting additions but the foundation was way ahead of where we would have been without it!

Pat Brannon, Lighting Designer for Beyoncas equally impressed. The system that I used at F1 was an irreplaceable tool. The logistics of the show was a textbook example of how important this concept is regarding touring productions. Beyoncas the first act opening the event and with the growing pains of the new facility and load-in, and setbacks that come with such an elite venue, the wysiwyg application made my show. My hat is off with the fantastic design that Steve Shipmen put together and with all the right people in place made the Beyoncvent seamless. The wysiwyg system was a professional set up and the focuses were spot on.

all-3.jpgHe continues, I elected to give Luke Bonner full reign controlling the LED low res wings and with just a heads up on my song by song color pallets and music tempo, he did an amazing job. I was very happy as was my artist management of the show reproduced for this event. I hope to see more of the wysiwyg systems on future festival show calendars.

The shows were flawless and everyone involved was extremely pleased with the results, including the thousands of fans fortunate enough to be there. Project Manager Rick Wade said, For a show of this size, it's critical to have the right people and tools to not only deliver great results, but to make it look easy and be efficient. I'm really happy that Luke brought wysiwyg into this project.

Equipment List:


2 x GrandMA full size at FOH

1 x GrandMA full size behind stage with wysiwyg

2 x GrandMA media server


44 x Clay Paky Alpha Spot 1200

42 x Clay Paky Alpha Wash 1200

24 x PR Lighting XL Spot 1200

24 x PR Lighting XL Wash 1200

20 x Clay Paky Alpha Beam 300

20 x 7K Space Cannon

44 x 2.5K City Colour

54 x Diversatronics strobe

22 x Pixeline 1044

40 x Molefay 8 light (DWE)

38 x 4 lamp bar ‐ par 64 ACL

70 x 6 lamp bar ‐ par 64 CP61

LED wings:

200 x TechnoPro LED panels (40 cm x 40 cm, 24 mm pitch)

166 x TechnoPro LED battens (1 mtr)

For more information about wysiwyg and other CAST Software products, visit For additional details of this release, send an email to Joan Lyman: [email protected]

CAST Software, 35 Ripley Avenue, Suite 1, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M6S 3P2. Tel: +1.416.597.2278. Fax: +1.416.597.9594.

Photos: Courtesy Luke Bonner

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