Scorpions, the multi-platinum German heavy metal band, has wrapped the first North American leg of the Crazy World Tour 2017 with Megadeth. A large complement of Claypaky fixtures hit the road with the legendary rockers along with grandMA2 consoles to run the show. A.C.T Lighting, Inc. is the exclusive distributor of Claypaky and MA Lighting products in North America.
The North American leg’s September and October dates included a performance at New York City’s Madison Square Garden, the first time the band played the iconic venue since 1984.
Lighting and Show Director Manfred Nikitser, of Manfred Nikitser Show Lighting, designed a “classical rock show” with “big, strong looks” guaranteed to please audiences who expected “a good rock show.” He created a “clean overall look with big LED screens, thrust and ego risers plus a massive angled stage set. My intention was to meld lighting and video, so LED screens were a lighting element that actually immersed the stage with saturated color” for some songs. “Live camera integration was a big part,” too but clean camera feeds were always manipulated in some way to give a cohesive look to the on-stage VFX.
Nkitser was also challenged to create a show that could be easily adapted to different continents and countries with varying venue sizes and technical standards. “The show design has to use elements we can get in every country,” he says. The band carries the stage set, angled LED screens and drum riser while rigging, motors, truss and lighting are obtained locally.
Nikitser selected Claypaky Scenius Spots, A.leda B-EYE K20s and Sharpy Washes for the tour.
He specified 58 Scenius Spots as his main effects lighting fixtures. “I was very excited coming to the rehearsals and firing up all fixtures for the first time and seeing the overall impression of the rig with the LED screens,” Nikitser recalls. “I have a pretty good feel for how things look and can tell within seconds if a fixture delivers or if it is a compromise. When I saw how everything worked together I was really satisfied. The strong saturated colors of the Scenius, the brightness with even the widest zoom, and the speed of the effects was very impressive.”
Nikitser used 36 B-EYE K20s on the side ladders that finished off the giant LED screens. “After trying different fixtures types, LED washes did the best job. They are also great even if there is little smoke. With smoke you have the classy, soft side wash looks, but you can also have strong, sharp narrow focuses.”
He calls the K20s “kind of an industry standard when it comes to LED washes: The brightness is good, the zoom is good and the light quality is awesome. I like the fact that the LEDs are color calibrated, and I can run them in a regular CMY wash mode. That is an important feature to me since I don’t want to look after an extra white channel.”
Seven Sharpy Washes rounded out the Claypaky fixtures. They were positioned under the scissor-lift drum riser, which came into play for the drum solo. “The lift went up, it had a row of LED panels installed and behind them the Sharpy Washes were hiding,” Nikitser explains. “Their main purpose was effects lighting for the drum solo, to dramatize the flying out process. Although we tried different fixtures here, nothing was comparable to the Sharpy Wash when it came to size and brightness, effects and moving speed, and also power and weight. We couldn’t use a big fixture because the weight adds up and the lift has to push too much. There also was limited space and the drum set had to hide behind the LED riser masking.
“The output and punch of the beam was just incredible,” he adds. “There was no other fixture in my eyes that fulfilled these requirements.”
The show ran on two grandMA2 full-size consoles, one used by Nikitser and one back up system, plus a grandMA2 light used by Rainer Becker. The team also had a VPU Mk2 as active and back up servers.
“Since there was no extra server farmer or media server technician on the tour, I needed a system that was safe and stable and didn’t have to be physically next to my lighting console,” says Nikitser. “The servers were placed on stage, we ran an Ethernet line to them and everything could be done from FOH. They got power and network, and we had a show. That’s awesome, as many other products need external screens, EDID managers etc., all of which is included in the VPU. And I didn’t need an extra laptop to set up the device; everything was done over the console.”
“It might sound a little extreme, but if you come in in the morning to do a show with a completely local rig, you can’t take certain things for granted,” he adds. “Therefore, I need a stable and flexible system I can operate and edit settings fast on. The MA family is the perfect system for it; I can’t imagine using anything different. I doubt there is anything else that guarantees realtime output, network feedback and set up possibilities as well as physical stability for worldwide touring.”
For this tour Nikitser had video and lighting controlled on one board with “flashes and bumps always triggering lighting and video together. I think we got the best output that way.” Colleague Rainer Becker looked after “key lighting and blinders as well as some bumps” on his console.
Nikitser found the networking operation solution worked perfectly and calls the iPad Remote “one of the most important features in the grandMA2 family. I can’t mention that often enough: It saves so much manpower and time, it makes the whole work and focus process much more exact and fast. I set up everything just by myself while the rest of the crew looked after other parts of the production.”
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