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Clay Paky, grandMA2 and MDG on Tour with Luke Bryan

When Luke Bryan launched his “Dirt Road Diaries Tour” FadeUp Design Group and tour Production Manager Pete Healey made sure the country singer was outfitted with an inventory of lighting, control and atmospheric gear supplied by Elite Multimedia Productions. Elite provided Clay Paky’s new A.LEDA Wash K10 and K5 LED moving heads, grandMA2 consoles and MDG theONE digital fog/haze atmospheric generators and MDG ICE FOG Q generators for the 20-city tour. A.C.T Lighting is the distributor in North America for all of the brands.

“These brands are all leaders in their fields,” said Tom Wilson, vice president of event productions at Elite. “We’ve been thrilled with Clay Paky Sharpys over the last year and have now supplied A.LEDAs. The equipment is fully engineered and ready to go when it comes out of the box. We haven’t had any failures. As a company owner that’s a huge thing to me. The MAs and MDGs are also rock solid.”

Justin Kitchenman of FadeUp Design Group, who acts as lighting designer for the tour, was challenged with fulfilling Bryan’s desire to put on a big show for his fans while maintaining an intimate interaction with the audience. “We figured the best way to accomplish this would be to give Luke plenty of performance space out among the audience,” said Kitchenman. “As for the lighting aspects, we wanted a big, powerful rock ‘n roll lighting rig.”

The tour is using 12 A.LEDA K10s and 36 A.LEDA K5 fixtures. “We chose them after seeing them at LDI 2012,” Kitchenman said.

Kitchenman doesn’t like the “gum-ball dish” look that shows many RGB LEDs at the source. “For the most part LEDs are faster, have nice beams, and are energy and heat efficient. All those things are a plus. But as soon as I look on a monitor and see the source I want to shut them off! They become almost a distraction. But A.LEDA fixtures don’t have that problem.”

Kitchenman also appreciates the ability to pixel map the cells of the fixture, which enable him to incorporate them into the show’s video content. He also said he likes the color correction channel. “It allows me to closely match my color temps with the rest of the lighting rig so my LEDs don’t look so LED-ish,” he said.

Selecting the grandMA2 was “a no-brainer for me,” Kitchenman said. “I have been using the grandMA for more than six years now, and this tour was the perfect opportunity to make the upgrade. It’s proving to be a powerful tool for us: We’re currently running three networks during our show – MA-Net, Art-net, and Kling-Net via the Arkaos media severs."

“Most of the functions, labels and even the button grouping remained the same. I love the large touchscreens, backlit keys and, in my opinion, the improved effects engine. I'm still really diving into the grandMA2 and feel like I'm learning something new about the console every day.”

Kitchenman gives kudos to the grandMA2’s CITP/MSEX thumbnail exchange, which allows him to upload thumbnail files from the media server and “keep media a bit more organized at my end.” He also finds that playback during shows “feels a little more natural” with an array of assignable buttons and faders conveniently placed for right and left hand operation. “All too often in the past I'd find myself doing cross- handed ‘button slaps,’” he said. “I'm looking forward to growing with this and future generations of the MA family.”

Kitchenman chose MDG theONE digital fog/haze atmospheric generators and MDG ICE FOG Q generators to showcase the beams from the lighting rig. “The large rig means very little if you can’t see the beams,” he said. “We selected MDG theONE for three reasons: output, output, output! The first time we turned it on in rehearsal we fogged the room so thick we couldn't see the video wall. That was an indication that atmosphere would not be an issue on this tour.”

He notes that, “by controlling [the units] from the console I can ramp the output up or down as needed during the show. And when we play outside I know I have a fighting chance to keep a steady flow of haze moving across the stage.” The MDG ICE FOG Q is on hand for its ability to produce maximum low-lying fog with zero residue, he adds.