Crowds turned out in record numbers for the 19th annual ESSENCE Festival in New Orleans. A-list artists including Beyoncé, LL Cool J, Jill Scott, Tamia, Janelle Monáe, and others packed venues throughout The Big Easy. The festival was staged by ESSENCE Communications and produced by Solomon Group, a New Orleans-based entertainment production company which supplied various equipment including grandMA2 consoles and Clay Paky Sharpy lighting fixtures to eight stages across town. A.C.T Lighting is the exclusive distributor of MA Lighting and Clay Paky products in North America.
"With great some support from VER, Solomon Group supplied gear to several stages, including five in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, two in the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and one in Woldenberg Park," says Matt Foucheaux, Senior Production Manager at Solomon Group. "We used a total of four grandMA2s. The Main Stage at the Superdome had two grandMA2 full-size units accompanied with two fader wings. Both the Center Stage and the Empowerment Experience Stage in the Convention Center had grandMA2 Lights."
Foucheaux, who also served as the lighting designer for the Main Stage, selected the grandMA2 for its popularity among designers and directors working the festival. "It's the console of choice for most people in the industry," he says. "We know it well, which meant we could help our guest designers program their show. We were also able to send plots and patches to the designers ahead of time so they could pre-program. That was very helpful since their time on-site was extremely limited. We hope to utilize an off-site grandMA2 3D suite in the future. Given the limited time designers have to program their show, I feel like adding this piece will enhance their shows, and take some stress away from the time crunch that these festivals bring"
Foucheaux and festival programmer, Ryan Stumpp, built many presets that would help the guest designers. Since there was such limited time to program, it helped for these designers to come in and have a good amount of presets in their back pocket" "All of our NPUs and networking for the main stage was behind the stage which was around 350', so we utilized a fiber network to carry all 22 universes of data"
Foucheaux deployed 65 chrome Clay Paky Sharpys for the Main Stage at the Superdome, which he says looked striking against the black truss that Solomon Group utilized onstage. "We built vertical columns between the LED screens and hung Sharpys inside of them to create the ability to show some really powerful aerial beam looks," he says. "We also hung some above the IMAG screens, which were programmed at times to rake would go out into the audience."
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