The famed annual Calgary Stampede just concluded another successful season attracting over one million visitors to the 10-day event. A combination rodeo-exhibition-festival, the largest fair in Canada also featured a nightly Grandstand Show, which was illuminated by Clay Paky Sharpy fixtures controlled by grandMA2 light consoles. Both brands are distributed exclusively in North America by A.C.T Lighting, Inc.
Pierre Marleau of Orange Frog Productions Inc. was the lighting and production designer for the grandstand show, a role he’s fulfilled for the last 19 years. “It’s an old-style review, a big outdoor mega-spectacle,” he says. “It’s got acrobats, circus acts, video, pyro, fireworks. It’s one of the more complex projects we do.” He obtained the Sharpy fixtures and grandMA2 light consoles from a new joint venture between BML Blackbird of Secaucus, NJ and Stage Lite Manitoba Ltd. in Winnipeg, which combines a 30-year reputation for serving clients in the northeastern US with a professional team with extensive international experience in concert and theatrical touring.
“The stage is a 100-foot long mobile platform with truss, weighing in excess of 400,000 pounds; it travels 1/4 mile from storage to its show position every night,” Marleau explains. “It poses a lot of challenges; there are a lot of restrictions from an engineering perspective and in terms of what fixtures can be used. It’s quite a puzzle to get it to work.”
Marleau deployed 95 Clay Paky Sharpys, which he prizes for many reasons. “A lot of things make them a great fixture for a outdoor show without a roof,” he says. “They have to perform every night. One night we had a crazy electrical storm, and we programmed non-stop: They are so solid.
“The technology inside them is great,” he also reports. “Their firepower is amazing. In their price bracket Sharpy packs a mean punch: great optics, great gobos and prism. The beam reads really well – better than any other fixture. They are lightweight, move fast and are so compact that you can pack them tight in a very large performance area. The Sharpys are well built with fans in a smart place. All these things were very important for us.”
Marleau says the Sharpys “performed really well – we were there with them for a month. They made life really easy.”
Orange Frog’s Barry Armstrong programmed two grandMA2 light consoles with four NPUs. “We have used many consoles over the year,” says Marleau. “It’s all about how quickly we can get a console programmed. In northern Canada we have very little dark in the summer and very little time to program, so it’s important to have a desk whose timecode we can program quickly. I love how fast we can get the looks we want.”
grandMA2’s previs and networking capabilities played a big role in the programming for the event. Marleau notes that Armstrong was able to previs with the system during the day and program at night. “Networking was super easy to set up. The lighting booth was very far from the stage, and we ran everything through fiber. We set up NPUs right on the stage.”
Marleau also gives kudos to the console’s new features. “Being able to run an effect step by step off of timecode is great,” he says. “If we wanted to do a 40-ACL chase we could build it then trigger it to the musical notes.
“Everything went great – the grandMA2 light is an awesome desk!”
“We were excited to provide the Stampede with Clay Paky and MA products as we trust in those products as much as our clients do,” says Tracey Ploss, Vice President Touring of the BML Blackbird and Stage Lite joint venture. “Knowing the circumstances and the character of the Calgary Stampede we could provide products that we trusted would do the job. I put a lot of faith in the Sharpies, and after three weeks of being outdoors with our extensive weather protection we did not have even one failure.”
The BML Blackbird/Stage Lite team included Vice President Operations Jim Rink and Terry Mueller, Brad Wagg and Enoch Seutter.
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 www.actlighting.com.