David Copperfield's An Intimate Evening of Grand Illusion is a wide spread tour that has taken the master illusionist all over the world including two extensive legs in China. The goal of Grand Illusion is “to take your dreams (and maybe a few nightmares) and make them come true using state of the art wizardry.” And, of course, the lighting takes a central roll in this as anyone who has seen Mike Smrka's and Homer Lewag's (also artistic director) lighting design will attest.
Smrka, who also tours with the show, chose the grandMA, manufactured by MA Lighting & distributed in North America by A.C.T Lighting, Inc., for his lighting control. “I taught myself the console over a weekend because of time restraints,” says Smrka. “It was pretty easy and the guys at A.C.T Lighting were always on the other end of the phone if I needed anything.”
Mike Smrka with the grandMA console
Because of the nature of the show and Copperfield's improvising Smrka operates the grandMA in a very fluid fashion. “All throughout the show I'm grabbing fixtures, changing things, and running cues manually. I really use all 60 playbacks on the console for the whole show.” Smrka's rig, much of which consists of Martin products, is provided by Paradigm Production Services, and consists of 10 Mac 2000 Profiles, nine RoboScan 918s, six Mac 600s, 12 Mac 250s, two Mac 2000 Performance, two Atomic strobes, and 160 conventional fixtures.
The show, which has been on the road for a year now, has continued to evolve and with it so has the lighting control. “It's been amazing,” Smrka enthuses. “When we programmed, we were running version 3.3, which pretty much did everything that I wanted. Now we have version 4, which means I can have a wireless remote for almost no money, as well as all the new multi-user stuff, gobo and color images on my palettes, and the MAtricks chase builder. I can't wait to see what's next!”