Aspiring baseball players call the major leagues “the show,” but in recent years all sports have incorporated more entertainment elements as games, and even former backroom transactions like player drafts, have been transformed into full-fledged events. Major League Baseball’s 90th Annual All-Star Game, recently held at Cleveland’s Progressive Field on July 9, is a perfect example of this shift. Adding to the high-production ambience was Greensboro, North Carolina-based SE Systems, which provided lighting and audio services for the weekend’s worth of events around the game itself, and Avolites technology was on hand to make it a truly memorable show.
Working in concert with Select Artists Associates, the technical producer for the on-field musical entertainment during the 2019 All-Star Game, SE Systems deployed an Avolites Sapphire Touch lighting console to operate the park’s installed lighting systems. The desk was connected to the house fiber by a pair of Avolites Titan Network Switches through their optical ports, allowing the Sapphire Touch to seamlessly and faultlessly control the venue’s off-field scenic lighting elements, including a DJ spinning atop the park’s Sky Bridge.
SE Systems’ Avolites Sapphire Touch console used to operate Progressive Field’s installed lighting systems for MLB’s 90th Annual All-Star Game
Down on the field, an Avolites Quartz console was running the ground-based lighting and “flash and trash” effects for all of the on-field entertainment, including a pitcher’s mound stage performance by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, as well as for introducing players as they entered the stadium for the Celebrity Softball Game and in between batters during the Home Run Derby.
“As sports events become more complex productions, we find that we have to rely more than ever on the Avolites equipment,” says SE Systems’ Lighting Designer Nehemiah “Nemo” Grubbs. “They needed a lot of eye candy and flash and trash to make the event really pop, and the Avolites systems let us do that.”
The Sapphire Touch controlled the venue’s off-field scenic lighting elements, including a DJ spinning atop the park’s Sky Bridge (shown)
Grubbs is referring to more than the consoles’ industry-leading features, such as the huge workspace area offered by the Sapphire Touch’s two wide-screen touch monitors and ‘Saturn Ring’, giving simultaneous X-Y-Z axis control, or the Quartz’s super-compact footprint, measuring only 42.5cm wide and making it unobtrusive yet incredibly powerful on the field.
He also cites the systems’ reliability and the capability of the Titan software to let lighting designers like himself, who ran the Sapphire Touch desk, and Ted Atwell on the Quartz console create the desired effects quickly and accurately despite virtually no rehearsal and under intense time constrictions.
A portable DJ/lighting cart rolled out onto the field during a production rehearsal for the weekend’s All-Star Celebrity Softball Game
“There was a lot going on and the field was constantly occupied, so we had to preprogram for many different aspects of the production,” he explains. “The Titan software on the Sapphire Touch let me preset macros for a lot of effects in a very short amount of time, and know that when I reached for those effects, they’d come back perfectly every time. And the Titan Network Switches gave us the same kind of time advantage: just set the IP addresses on the network and then it’s just plug and play.”
As a result, he says, the lighting and effects looked great, both in the stadium and on television. “We’re under a lot of pressure, and the Avolites consoles help us with that by their ease of use,” he says. “For instance, I can do things on the Sapphire Touch with a single button that on another console I’d need to go through three different menus to do. When you’ve only got 30 minutes to do a run-through before the cameras go on, reducing the number of keystrokes is a huge advantage. It’s why SE Systems has been an all-Avolites house for over 20 years now.”