You probably wouldn’t think of taking your grandmother to the Ultra Music Festival, but the grandMA console was the unanimous choice of the lighting directors working the two-day spectacular. A.C.T. Lighting is the exclusive distributor of the grandMA in North America.
The Ultra Music Festival marked its 10th anniversary this year by showcasing 80 artists on five stages in Miami’s Bicentennial Park on March 28 and 29. Over 50,000 people, many on Spring Break, were expected to attend.
Stephen Lieberman, president of SJ Lighting Inc. in Agoura Hills, California, was lighting director and lighting designer for all the stages, manning the main stage and coordinating lighting directors for the other stages. He's been involved with the festival for nine years. “I hired a lighting director for each stage, and some artists brought their own lighting directors who came in the day before the show,” he explains. “With so many different acts you had to have a system that accommodated everybody’s rider. If a band had specific requirements they talked to the guy running the desk and we got them covered."
“We needed a console for each stage and all the lighting directors ordered grandMAs from PRG,” Lieberman reports. “When I hire a lighting director I want them to use what they know. I’ve been using the grandMA since 2001.”
On Stage 1, which served as the Main Stage, the grandMA controlled 18 Atomic 3000 strobes, 18 Atomic scrollers with PSUs, 24 ColorBlast 12s with PSUs, nine ColorBlaze 72-inch units, 10 ACL Bars, four 26-degree Lekos, six Showguns, 24 Mac 2K Profiles, and 12 Mac 2000 washes.
The lighting complement controlled by the grandMA for Stage 2, which was termed the "Rabbit Hole" on the first day and the house stage on the second day, included 18 Mac 2000 spots, four Mac 2000 washes, eight Atomic 3000 strobes, eight Atomic scrollers, 10 ColorBlaze 72-inch units, 12 ColorBlast 12s, and a pair of 26-degree Lekos.
The grandma for the "Amnesia/Drum and Bass" Stage 3, controlled 26 Studio spots, four Studio Colors, 18 Atomic 3000 strobes, 28 ColorBlast 12s with PSUs, and eight 26-degree Lekos. Dance Rock Stage 4’s grandMA controlled 14 Mac 2000s, four Mac 2000 washes, 14 Atomic 3000 strobes, 26 ColorBlast 12s with PSUs, seven ACL bars, and two 26-degree Lekos. And the lighting complement controlled by the grandMA for Stage 5, DJ Carl Cox’s venue, featured 46 VARI*LITE VL-2000 spots, 10 VL-2000 washes, 18 Atomic 3000 strobes, and a pair of 26-degree Lekos.
Lieberman values the grandMA for its “freestylability for programming. You’re able to spread out across a desk with as many handles as you have. Its software is fast, the bitmap-effects window is great, and the dimmer effects are wonderful. I have 160 effects, the other programmers come in with their effects, and we can share and swap.”
He finds the console to be “so powerful—from speed masters to group masters to inhibitive subs. It puts an enormous amount of software and tools at your disposal.” In addition, Lieberman likes the grandMA’s networking capabilities which keep all the other consoles in harness via a laptop, and the grandMA’s full-color touchscreen which is “easy to see in sunlight and great for outdoor festivals” such as the Ultra Music Festival.
In short, “I love it,” he says. “And the guys at A.C.T. support me second to none. I can always call them and know they will accommodate me.”
"We think the grandMA is the ideal console for a show like the Ultrafest, where you have many lighting directors and designers using a generic system to its best advantage. The key is having a master like Steve Lieberman, setting the grandMAs up with all of the right effects assigned to Executors and mastering over things such as speed, color and intensity. Steve has been top notch on grandMA for the past 7-8 years. He is a consummate pro," says A.C.T Lighting president and CEO Bob Gordon.
To read more about the 2008 UMF see Main Light Moves With The Music