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grandMA Takes On “American Gladiators”

gladiator There‘s a grandMA behind the scenes as NBC revives “American Gladiators” for a new generation of TV viewers. The grandMA is controlling almost 200 VARI*LITE VL2500 moving lights and some 1500 LEDs for the strength and endurance competition. The show, which originally premiered in 1989, made its midseason debut in January 2008 with Hulk Hogan and Laila Ali hosting. A.C.T Lighting is the exclusive distributor of the grandMA in North America.

“For the new version of the show the producers wanted a spectacular, immense arena feel,” notes lighting director William McLachlan. “Scenically the space is so large, it covers a huge footprint. So we needed a substantial rig just to cover the area let alone create a signature look.”

In crafting the signature look, McLachlan and lighting designer Oscar Dominguez wanted to “use video as a way to move, breathe color and bring intensity across rig. We wanted to use the rig to explore and design the space and treat the light plot like a canvas. So the grandMA was a natural choice to turn the changes in the rig into colors on a canvas and create a really different feel of movement and color.”

McLachlan and Dominguez worked hard give each event in the competition its own environment. “Scenically they were all so different,” McLachlan observes. “We really had an opportunity to carve out a large surrounding look, animate it and bring it to life.” The producers asked us to use lighting to accentuate the participants‘ wins and losses.

“The show is just enormous, it‘s really hard to imagine,” notes master programmer Benny Kirkham. “With about 1500 LED fixtures, it‘s like a very big rock ‘n roll concert. Look in any corner of the building and you see 200-250 lights.”

With such a massive amount of LEDs and effects lighting, using the grandMA offered “a huge advantage,” Kirkham reports. “A lot of things I was working with had to have adjustments on the fly. But the editing capabilities of the grandMA are superior in a quick and foolproof way. Its applications for controlling groups of light are great, and having remote focus was great for the lights I was controlling.”

McLachlan notes, “we really rely on the desk‘s bitmap feature for the LED portion of ‘American Gladiators,‘ and we‘re very happy with it. We‘re really impressed with all the things the grandMA can bring to the table. It‘s a very viable solution for large TV shows, and it fills some very specific needs.”

Kirkham agrees. “The grandMA is a very versatile board; you can use it for any type of show, small or large. It‘s very scalable and very flexible for different styles and approaches to lighting. It doesn‘t hem you in to one kind of programming.”

“We have a lot of respect for Oscar‘s body of work. His knows what he wants to see, and it is very satisfying to provide him with a console that helps him fulfill his vision. Additionally, Willy McLachlan is also an experienced pro, and his close collaboration with super programmer, Benny Kirkham, and their reliance on the advanced and unique features of the grandMA helps validate our vision for this console,” comments A.C.T Lighting President and CEO Bob Gordon.

About A.C.T Lighting

A leading importer and distributor of lighting products, A.C.T Lighting, Inc. strives to identify future trends and cutting-edge products, and stock, sell and support their inventory. The company provides superior customer service and value for money to all of its clients. For more information call 818-707-0884 or visit www.actlighting.com.

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February 2008
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