A.C.T Lighting, Inc. has helped to successfully integrate a grandMA console into the ongoing tour of Staind, one of the biggest-selling rock bands in America today. A.C.T is the exclusive distributor of grandMA in North America.
“We were looking to get more capabilities out of our LEDs and create more complex effects than we could with the console we had been using,” explains freelance lighting technician/designer/programmer Mike Cooper, who was assigned to the tour by PRG Lighting. “The grandMA gives us those new capabilities. It’s also faster to program and edit cues with the grandMA. GrandMA keeps up with you. You don’t have to wait for it to catch up.”
Since the Staind tour had been underway for six months, Cooper needed to transfer all of the data that had been programmed in the old console into the grandMA. He traveled to A.C.T’s LA offices and spent three days working alongside Joe Cabrera II, from the company’s software tech support team, to reprogram the show.
“Any time you take a running show and change over the operating system of the console, it’s a pretty bold move,” says the show’s lighting designer Lawrence Upton. “When you make a console change on a current show, you have a responsibility to deliver the same show you had before. That’s why we took the time for Mike to go to A.C.T.”
The “first step” in the transfer process, says Cabrera, “was to exactly recreate the cues and presets based on the data in the old console” with DMX capture facilitating the process. “Then Mike had a DVD of the songs we were reprogramming, so we could look at the cue structure laid out, get an idea of the timing and effects, and make a very accurate recreation in the new console.
“The lighting design for the show is really cool, and there are quite a few chase effects with specific colors and timings,” Cabrera continues. “Since the two consoles deal with effects in different ways, it took some time to reprogram the show. Mike’s DVD was really handy for seeing what we were trying to create in the grandMA.”
“It was a complex process,” Cooper agrees. For example, “The previous console ran our LED strips in three-channel mode. With the grandMA, we could recreate the effects in 36-channel mode cloning one fixture across 12 banks going down the strip, but the tools in the console made it easy to do this.”
Upton had not operated on a grandMA before. “It’s a completely different physical set up, but I’m more than happy with it,” he reports. “The desk is well thought out; I like how you assign and read the screens. And it’s easy to use. The whole process has been as close to a seamless transfer as you can get,” he concludes.
Cooper agrees that implementing the grandMA has gone well. “Everything went better than expected on every level. Our priority was to deliver the exact same show that we had before. Then we could build on it day by day. We’re about to expand our capabilities to take advantage of what new LED technology can offer by adding some bit-mapped shapes and effects to the LED strips. The raw speed and power of the grandMA make it easy to create and execute these new effects.”
Upton points out that the Staind tour, one year in duration, “is very indicative of where rock is in America,” with the band playing intimate venues in solid markets. “They have made a big investment in very high production values,” he notes. “We want to thank the band and our production manager Mark O’Toole for believing in us. And we want to thank Joe, (president/CEO) Bob (Gordon), and the whole team at A.C.T for making it possible for us to deliver the goods.”