The first College Football Playoff (CFP) was marked by a series of exciting events, including the weekend’s premier concert series, “AT&T Playoff Playlist Live!” headlined by Lenny Kravitz and Sting. Clay Paky Sharpy fixtures and grandMA2 full-size and light consoles played key roles during back-to-back nights of shows at the American Airlines Center, Dallas. A.C.T Lighting, Inc. is the exclusive distributor of both brands in North America.
New Orleans-based Solomon Group produced and designed “AT&T Playoff Playlist Live!” providing a full array of live event services for the first-of-its kind concert series.
“For organizers at CFP and ESPN, it was crucial that the events taking place during the inaugural College Football Playoff weekend be just as exciting as the game itself,” says Matt Foucheaux, Director of Production Design at Solomon Group. “It was also crucial that the CFP brand play front and center. We chose a production design for the stage that drew heavily from the brand’s sleek, new logo. Once we settled on a football shape for the stage design, we added various football-themed creative elements throughout.
“For instance, our team assembled lighting ‘brackets’ to symbolize the new playoff system. We also created special ‘pods’ of lights to mimic traditional stadium lighting. It was important that the show not look or feel like just any concert; we wanted the audience to know this show was part of College Football Playoff.”
Foucheaux deployed 48 Clay Paky Sharpys in the stadium lighting ‘pods’ where they were meant to loosely simulate the lighting typically found in a football stadium. Twelve Sharpys in each of four pods were positioned off left and right of the stage and were trimmed out around 70 feet to the bottom of the first Sharpy.
“We chose the Sharpys because of their incredible beam output and speed,” Foucheaux says. “We needed instruments that would allow us to create a very elegant look during walk-in and in between artists but could also quickly transition to the dynamic look needed for a rock ‘n roll show.”
He reports that the Sharpys were “absolute workhorses” that “performed great. Over four days–which included set up–they were never turned off, and we had no issues whatsoever.”
Two grandMA2 full-size consoles and two more grandMA2 lights controlled a huge inventory of conventional and LED fixtures for the concerts. “grandMA has been Solomon Group’s console of choice for many years now,” says Foucheaux. “It’s ideal for festival-style shows since it is a staple in the industry and most lighting designers are familiar with it. So it’s easy for a guest LD to come in and either take over the show or clone a previous show to the grandMA2, which can save a lot of programming time.”
He notes that, “The speed at which you can achieve beautiful looks with the grandMA2 was huge for this event. We had an extremely tight turnaround from load-in to show, so we needed the console to perform quickly and flawlessly. Our programmer, Ryan Stumpp, did an amazing job bringing the vision of the event to life and making sure that all of the guest LDs had everything they needed to make their artists shine.”
Foucheaux says the grandMA2 consoles “worked perfectly throughout the four days of load-in and show dates. We always like to think about the technology and how we can use it to achieve beautiful looks. But when you don’t have to think about the console at all because you know it will work flawlessly, that’s what makes a great piece of technology.”
Foucheaux notes that many managers and crew members dedicated a lot of time to pull off the successful concert series. “While the right gear can help make a show spectacular, it only shines when it’s placed in the hands of talented designers and technicians who know how to make it work within the parameters of the event. They normally go unmentioned, but they’re the ones who truly make the magic happen.”
At Solomon Group Jonathan Foucheaux was the producer; Gary Solomon Jr. show producer; Josh Richardson show director; Andy Smith production manager; and Laura Jean Smith show management. Ryan Stumpp was on-site lighting designer; Nathaniel Beckett lighting lead; and Trice Head and Dallas Spatz lighting techs.
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