Our ongoing series, What’s Trending: Lighting Consoles Of Choice, continues with Niels “Niller" Bjerregaard, whose console choice is the ChamSys MagicQ MQ500 Stadium. Bjerregaard has been a lighting and scenic designer for the past 29 years. He lives in Denmark, where his studio is in Aarhus, and where he pre-programs shows with his MQ500 console. He started to tour abroad in the mid-90s and has been involved in numerous musical tours in Europe, America, and Asia, with additional experience in film and theatre production. For the past 17 years, he has been involved in touring with Volbeat, King Diamond, Hammerfall, Die Antwoord, Candlemass, MLTR, and others. Here’s how he “learned to stop worrying and love the ChamSys console.”
Niels “Niller" Bjerregaard
I started out in the mid-90s using an Avolites desk, which was my preferred desk at the time. I did have a brief encounter with the High End Systems Hog 2 and also Scan Commander from MA Lighting, but it never caught on, because Denmark was divided between Avolites and Hog 2 users, almost like a religion back then.
I always considered myself good at busking, and doing shows on the fly, but as the shows and rigs got bigger and the programming got more demanding, I was desperately looking for a way solve this problem. Then I found ChamSys. The reason ChamSys got to be my favorite desk is the software. In my opinion, it brings the best of two worlds together—busking and deep programming. Also the economic aspects are a big factor, allowing a private lighting designer to find a desk solution for a relatively low cost.
Finding The Magic
The first ChamSys desk I owned was a MagicQ PC Wing with two DMX outputs, which I mostly used for a separate light floor packs on festivals. Later on I got hold of a MagicQ PC Maxi Wing and got into more serious programming and busking. That’s where I first started cloning and morphing on festivals.
The big change for me came when I started using the ChamSys MagicQ MQ100 around eight years ago. It took my show possibilities to a new level and things got easier doing festivals and big VS small shows. I carried the desk everywhere in America and Europe.
I would start the year with making a default design and programming platform, which I could alter to different scenarios with help from wysiwyg for pre-production and rehearsals. I would design my floor pack with the fixtures I needed for the tour and then select a variety of fixtures I knew I would see on different festivals, a moving spot, a moving wash, a moving LED, strobes, LEDs, and so on.
I would do a fully programmed show with busking specials and then morph into the festival fixtures, or clone the floor spec to the rig as we moved indoor for an arena tour. The biggest challenge for me was the first time I went from a Danish tour with Volbeat where I used 48 moving fixtures to Rock Am Ring in Germany with 200 moving fixtures. ChamSys made it easy for me, and I had a great time doing that show and was extremely proud of that.
With the MQ500-200 universe desk, ChamSys made, in my opinion, a giant leap forward, and a brilliant desk to put right up there alongside the MA Lighting desks. I know that MQ500 are using the same software as on the MQ40-80 range but the physics of the desk with its two touchscreens and easy access to the visualizer plus the easy mount of external screens makes a huge difference.
I was lucky enough to be the first in Denmark in February 2017 to get hold of a MQ500 through Light Partner in Herning, and had time to look into the different features available. I was about to embark on a seven-month tour with Volbeat hitting America supporting Metallica, and then doing a long European stadium tour of our own, using more than 30 universes.
Before the Metallica support tour, Rob Koenig (Metallica’s LD) sent me their support design, and I built the stage and lights into plot and Vis, which came very handy later on, as time for a Support band is scarce. So I did most of my show programming blind, but as I discovered when I saw the rig first time, it was on focus. The show consisted of a light plot of 100 fixtures.
Plot and Vis
I found that building the plot and putting fixtures on trusses in MagicVis to be most valuable and made it easier to make groups and key lights groups. If one makes sure that the trusses are measured out correctly, one can do a blind programming and hit your targets on point. The Focus line and focus on target is so handy and brilliant for fast focus and making good locking positions. I made an A-B test between wysiwyg and MagicVis for live programming, and I will say that it is pretty close. I only use wysiwyg now for designing full show looks and not live programming.
When I used the MQ100, I always had a wing. I ran out of faders quickly as I was running cue lists but also busking faders.
With the MQ500 and the new fader button execute layout, I only bring my MQ500. The 15 faders are more than enough for me to run cue lists and key specials now that there 15 top buttons that can be assigned to whatever you need. I use them for specials cues, which I can overwrite any cue list using fade in and out for smooth transition. The Execute is very handy for easy extras as smoke machines and fixture macros or the 12 buttons assigned to whatever you need handy.
A Future With Chamsys
With the purchase of the MQ500, I feel I have invested in the future with ChamSys and am proud to be an ambassador for ChamSys desks wherever I go. The support from Chamsys and Chamsys users is outstanding and one can always get help or support if needed. Keep up the good work.