Editor's Note: Written by lighting programmer Marcus KrÖmer, this is a follow-up to “The Bald and the Beautiful,” LD, Aug., p. 30.

It all started in October 2003 with the press event for Blue Man Group. We used an MA Lighting grandMA, which was already installed in the Theatre am Potsdamer Platz in Berlin for Cats.

After that press event, the decision was made to use the grandMA for the upcoming first international show of Blue Man Group. As we started planning, the specifications by production designer Marc Brickman and his associate Marc Janowitz, who were responsible for set and lighting design, fit to use a single 4,096-channel grandMA system. The onsite production period was scheduled to start in March.

In January, the specifications were changing, and more and more equipment was added. We were forced to think about more than 5,000 channels, but we didn't want to change the whole system or split into two independent systems. The goal was to keep it easy for the house crew and, especially, make the annual Berlinale Film Festival also possible in the theatre without changing a lot in the house DMX distribution.

So, we asked MA Lighting about the forthcoming channel expansion for the grandMA. After a couple of meetings, we started using the NSPs (network signal processors) two weeks before the official release. Our Dutch lighting supplier, Flashlight Rental, was willing to buy five NSPs just for our production, which proved to be the best solution for everybody. We could use the in-house Ethernet system to distribute the MA-Net protocol to the four NSPs. By having the NSPs in different locations around the house, we were using them for both channel expansion and for DMX over Ethernet distribution. The biggest advantage was that the house crew wasn't forced to learn a new desk.

We set up the system with two full-size grandMAs and four NSPs. The grandMAs were used in a Multi-User-Session. One grandMA was my main desk, and the other was used by second programmer Rik Schoutsen from the Dutch company Tenfeet. He was on site for two weeks to preprogram the presets and little sequences for the HES Catalyst, while I concentrated on the moving lights. Later, I used his presets in the main show. After Rik left, the second desk was used for training the house operator to learn how to run the show.

Of course, it was a little dangerous to use a system that nobody had used before, but with support from MA Lighting, we got it done, and any minor problems were quickly remedied with new software from MA Lighting.

The best thing about having two desks in a multi-user session is that they both store all the show information. In the event of a problem or a crash on one of the consoles, the other console already has all of its data. We were able to survive without ever losing any data, and we were still able to use two consoles at the same time.

After the programming period, we swapped the second full-size grandMA with a grandMA light as a backup for running the show. The original specification was a grandMA replay unit as a backup, but the show uses 12 pages of faders, which is much easier to handle with a “real” desk, especially because we swap executors a lot, and we still had to integrate timecode into the show. The entire show contains about 2,000 cues.

Gear for Blue Man Group in Berlin
1 MA Lighting grandMA
1 MA Lighting grandMA Light
5 High End Systems Catalyst v.3 Media Server
20 VARI*LITE VL2C
22 VARI*LITE VL4
12 VARI*LITE VL6C
13 VARI*LITE VL1000AI
32 VARI*LITE VL1000AS
36 Amptown Washlight HP
9 High End Systems DL-1
14 ETC Source Four® 750W 10°
24 ETC Source Four 750W 36°
14 ETC Source Four 750W 50°
64 DTS PAR 64 1kW
16 ETC Source Four® PAR MCM
24 Selecon Pacifica 90° 800W
12 Skypan Skypan 5 kW
24 DTS PAR 16 Birdie
24 PSI Multi Task LED
3 Robert Juliat Spot 2.5 kW Long Throw
26 Altman UV 250 Short Throw
68 Altman UV 705 Long Throw
6 Wildfire WF-400E
3 DMX-steuerbar 2-lamp Fluorescents 24°
6 DMX-steuerbar 1-lamp Fluorescents 48°
4 DMX-steuerbar 2-lamp Fluorescents 48°
48 Martin Atomic 3000
33 Martin Atomic Colors
9 High End Systems AF-1000
7 Diversitronics ESM for Source Four
13 Diversitronics ESM for Selecon Pacifica
100 Wybron Dowser
5 Wybron PSU 24 Ch
7 Wybron PSU 12 Ch
4 DF 50 Hazer