Ultra Music Festival (UMF), the closing event for the Winter Music Conference in Miami, Florida, recently celebrated its 10th anniversary with a two-day, two-night event in Miami’s Bicentennial Park on March 28th and 29th. With more than 150 electronic music artists, DJs, and producers on 10+ stages and over 40,000 music fans from around the world in attendance, UMF is billed as the largest music festival of its kind in the US.
Designer Stephen Lieberman, president of SJ Lighting, Inc. has been lighting the UMF since its inception and certainly had his hands full with the 10-year anniversary where five stages needed a lot of production support. “The stage designs are not typically designed around specific equipment,” comments Lieberman. “In a festival environment, there are basic needs and requirements that need to get fulfilled. We choose gear that suits those needs, and then we tried to put some “bells and whistles” into the design to enhance the looks. This show had an interesting dynamic to it. As an outdoor festival with 5+ stages in South Florida there is always the chance that the weather will turn bad at a moments notice; heavy machinery will fail on you when you need it most; or a critical piece of hardware could cripple production. In years past, we have seen all of the previously mentioned things happen in varying degrees but over the past 10 years we have become increasingly more efficient with this production.”
For the main stage, Lieberman incorporated gear taken out of Main Light® Industries, including six of the new High End Systems Showgun™ units and six 8’ sections of Main Light Soft-Motion® system with Soft-LED/Scrim™ 8’x33’panels. “I was thrilled to have this new technology on the main stage,” says Lieberman. “The panels gave us an amazing look. With the Soft-Motion system, I was able to pull the curtain out of the way for backline and changeovers; so logistically it was a great tool. Aesthetically, it was great to have DMX control of the system to do big reveals of the screen. The crowd went wild when we dropped the screen in for the first time each night. We had six panels broken into three independent sections. The nice part about that was that we where able to do many different looks. I had a laser upstage, so I could pull up the center panel and just let the laser fly. I enjoyed being in a festival environment where I could have a little fun with the Soft-LED panels and Soft-Motion system.”
“UMF is such a fast-paced event; it’s the perfect place to use the Soft-Motion system,” says Giovanni Ciranni, Soft-LED manager with Main Light Industries. “The system gave Steve the ability to have so many different looks using just the one rig. When you can surprise a festival audience who is doing nothing but looking at the same stage that’s pretty cool. It is so easy to use Soft-Motion especially when combined with Soft-LED, that a designer gets an easy to use tool that allows for complicated looking effects. It really kept the looks fresh for each act. Steve did a great job on all of the stages.”
If you haven’t had the chance to see it yet, Main Light’s Soft-Motion is an automated curtain motion system that provides variable speed control of soft goods. Soft-Motion is controlled via DMX allowing for integration with other visual elements and is designed for minimum setup and tear down time since the soft goods stay attached to the truss structure during transit. The Main Light Soft-LED® curtains integrate seamlessly into a Soft-Motion system allowing for moving dynamic video drapery and for additional visual effect the Main Light Soft-LED/Scrim or Lightscape® fiber optic curtains can be used.
Lieberman feels that the Soft-Motion system is right for event work because, “the installation of the system was smooth and painless. The versatility of the Soft-Motion system allows the user to bring the scrims in and out when needed and even the ability to be creative with the mechanical side of the animation. In the event world, there is no time to fix things tomorrow or get it dialed in later. It is a ‘here and now’ kind of world. This system gave us the looks we wanted in the limited time frame we had to get it done. Plus,” Lieberman points out, “working with Main Light is always a pleasure. I look forward to the next opportunity.”
“As you would expect there are a lot of people that really help make this a great show,” comments Lieberman. “This year was a great experience for all of us. I received compliments from everyone on how great the show looked and how smooth everything ran. That is because I'm smart enough to surround myself with good people.” Just a few of the people Lieberman relies on are Ray Steinman, production manager and Terry Macneil, sound director. Master electricians included James “Poop” Poepping, Stage 1; Bobby Bascombe, Stage 2; James “JR” Harris, Stage 3; Mike “Chicken Hawk” Coreyll, Stage 4; and John Santos, Stage 5. Programmers included Scott Riley, Stage 2; Michael Meacham, Stage 3; Bryan Naegle, Stage 4; and Gerry Calderhead, Stage 5.
Main Light moved with more music at another major event earlier in 2008 with their Soft-Motion System, with Soft-LED/Scrim™ at the Bridgestone Super Bowl XLII Halftime show. Working with video screen supplier XL Touring Video, Main Light used nine sections of Soft-Motion Truss with nine Soft-LED/Scrim 8'x33'High Resolution Panels. “They needed an LED video system that could fly completely out of the way during the game,” says Giovanni Ciranni, Soft-LED Manager with Main Light Industries. “The Soft-Motion system with Soft-LED/Scrim allowed the drapes to live in the roof and fly down for the halftime show. They also needed to contend with the chance of the stadium roof being open for the game and needed something that would not catch the wind during the game. The Soft-Motion Truss lived at about 175' trim and dropped in from there and the curtains deployed out of the truss once they were in position.” At the beginning of the halftime show, the Soft-Motion system was deployed quickly to drop the Soft-LED/Scrim panels behind Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. The panels were raised and lowered during the four song set and quickly raised away at the end of the show. Another benefit of using the scrim was that “the audience behind the artist also needed to be able to see the show while the curtains were deployed,” explains Ciranni. Main Light provided Ciranni as crew chief and Braden Stroup as Soft-Motion tech/programmer; L. Sidney Ptah of XLTV was the Soft-LED tech, all working with project manager Dave Hyslop from XLTV.