They may be on a smaller scale than the Olympic Games but the 22nd Central American and Caribbean Games packed just as much glitz and glamour into their opening ceremonies in Veracruz, Mexico last November. Lighting designer David Grill, of David Grill and Associates, Inc. (DGA) in Mahwah, New Jersey, used Clay Paky Sharpys and A.leda B-EYE K20s, Robert Juliat Cyranos and grandMA2 lighting consoles to illuminate the festivities. A.C.T Lighting, Inc. is the exclusive distributor of all three brands in North America.
The Central American and Caribbean Games are held every four years with athletes from the region competing in a variety of sports, some of which qualify them for the Pan American Games. The 2014 Games were staged in the newly refurbished Estadio Luis ‘Pirata’ Fuente in Veracruz where more than a million people watched approximately 5,700 participating athletes.
The opening ceremonies featured several different segments in which the event producers used a large amount of projection. “The main challenge was how to use projection as a cyc element with performers in front and light the performers from 450 feet away without eradicating the projections,” Grill explains.
A 30-foot high, three-tiered pyramid-shaped stage was the centerpiece of the opening ceremonies. The all-white structure, which featured three pools, acted as a platform for performances and a projection surface for images.
On the east side of the stadium about 400 feet of the lower balcony rail was rimmed with 108 Clay Paky Sharpys and 32 B-EYE K20s. Eight more K20s lined two of the stage’s pools and 18 Sharpys lined the other. Four Robert Juliat Cyranos were mounted on the stage’s followspot platforms.
“We used the Sharpys not only for beam, canopy and texture effects but also to light the acrobatic dancers flying through the air,” says David Grill. “The Sharpys were the only lights small enough and competent enough to capture things far away: We could side light the acrobats, who represented the heart and soul of the world, like a dance presentation from 200 feet away. We could really have the Sharpys concentrated, focused and bright without a lot of overshoot.”
Grill deployed the versatile B-EYE K20s in many different ways. “We used them as task lights, to light people, for aerial effects and for the face of the camera. We used the rotators for scenic texture projected onto various surfaces. They were better and more interesting than gobos. With the availability of the moving front face we could layer a color over a color. And the B-EYEs consumed virtually no power.”
He selected the Robert Juliat Cyrano followspots for their “really good dimming” and small form factor. “Their relatively small size meant we didn’t need a crane to get them into less than ideal followspot positions. They could be carried to the platforms,” Grill explains. “And they were able to give me the light output I needed at a great distance.”
Lighting director Paul Sonnleitner programmed the lighting using two grandMA2 full-sized consoles, two grandMA2 lights and a grandMA onPC with command wing and fader wing. The two full-sized desks served as the main and back up consoles in the control booth. The two lights were used in the field to focus from different locations, such as the center of the pyramid stage; the onPC system was deployed in the tech area to repair fixtures or check the rig.
“As it was a stadium I specked two [grandMA2 lights] so that one could be mobile from each side of the field,” says Sonnleitner. “That way, I could program from one position and send the electricians to move the other focus desk to an alternate position without losing precious dark time. Moving anything in a stadium takes time.”
“The onPC system was for the technicians so they could repair fixtures,” he adds. “If I wasn’t in until later in the day, they could also connect to the session, strike up and check out the rig for me without making the lengthy trip to the booth.”
Grill calls the grandMA2s “always easy to use and reliable. The network was flawless, and the desk was outstanding. Stuff that used to take hours and hours on other systems is now just a matter of a wave of the ‘magic wand.'”
Grill and his team also lit the Games’ closing ceremonies, which took the more conventional form of a rock concert.
Montreal-based Solotech provided the gear.
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