All eyes were on the stage of the O.A.K.A. hall in Athens, Greece for the hugely popular annual Eurovision Song Contest, but behind the scenes four full-size grandMA lighting consoles, one grandMA light and 22 network signal processors (NSPs) had a starring role.

Dubbed the biggest musical event worldwide, the Eurovision Song Contest featured more than 1,000 people from 37 countries. Fourteen thousand were in attendance in Athens where the German company Procon was responsible for the technical aspects of the contest. Two live shows were broadcast within Europe to an audience of over 1 million.

The show’s lighting control was done via the grandMAs; a fiber-optic network with four HP switches was installed to guarantee the highest possible stability of the lighting-control technology. The grandMAs controlled some 500 moving lights plus numerous Barco video systems and Schnickschnack LED systems. The video and LED systems were installed in motorized, movable stairs in the shape of an amphitheater. In total, 44 DMX lines were used for four lighting environments: moving lights, LEDs, white light, and the video/media server.

Facilitating the complex job was the two-year relationship between MA Lighting and mo2 Design GmbH, lighting designer Manfred “Ollie” Olma’s company.

Six weeks before the broadcast of the Eurovision Song Contest Olma invited Manuel da Costa (for the moving lights), Marcus Bossdorf (for the LEDs), Philipp Herbst (for video) and MA Lighting to a preprogramming session in Cologne. Eight grandMA 3D systems were employed for real-time visualization in addition to other consoles and NSPs. The show was divided into four different sessions each utilizing one full-size grandMA with backup. A grandMA light also controlled the green room with backup.

On May 1 the whole team, materials and the mobile preprogramming studio moved its location to Athens where Oliver Heidingsfelder (programmer for the white light) and Pia Virolainen (lighting designer assistant) joined the team. By the next evening the complete control network was rebuilt and ready to play so they could start the adaptation right on-site. Thanks to the preprogramming in Cologne only single presets had to be corrected, and this took little time.

Since the build up of the stage in the hall was considerably delayed the complete LED programming had to be done via grandMA 3D whose flexibility and near real-time operation was praised by the production team. The system’s stability and direct access possibilities were key to the show which required that lighting moods for 37 individual songs and artists be created in a very short turnaround.

Lighting Designer Manfred “Ollie” Olma, commented, “For the realization of our job the MA system offered us possibilities that we loved. We really appreciated the close cooperation we’ve had with MA over the last two years. Since the beginning of the preprogramming in Cologne everything was to our full satisfaction.”