Atomic Lighting of Lititz, PA scored two high-profile TV gigs for its Clay Paky lighting fixtures and grandMA2 lighting consoles when it supplied gear for season three of NBC’s a cappella singing competition, “The Sing Off,” and FOX’s live telecast of the “63rd Primetime Emmy Awards” from LA’s Nokia Theatre. A.C.T Lighting is the distributor in North America for both Clay Paky and grandMA.
Felix Peralta, who shares lighting director duties with Kevin Lawson on “The Sing Off,” used 27 Clay Paky Alpha Profile 700 and 30 Sharpy fixtures for the show.
“A.C.T demo’d Sharpy for me, and I instantly fell in love with all the possibilities of their effects,” he said. “I liked the throw, the speed of movement, the tightness of the beam and the little prism you can slide in to create a break up.”
Season three of “The Sing Off” will air 12 shows with multiple performances, so designer Allen Branton assembled an array of fixtures to lend variety week to week. “We’ve taped the first ten episodes, and the Sharpys have given us a look we really hadn’t seen before,” he said. “They were so tight and bright that we didn’t need a lot of haze to have an impact: we were able to create some nice signature looks. We also featured an upstage wall of 18 Sharpys, as tight as they could go, shooting straight out at the camera to create and augment the tension and suspense surrounding the announcement of the winners for that evening. The producers have been thrilled with them and their zero failure rate.”
Lighting Designer Allen Branton is also “a big fan,” says Peralta. “He’s seen every light there is, and he’s really impressed by how tight the Sharpy’s beam is and how fast the lights move. Ever since he started using them he talks about them all the time – they’re a hot ticket item for his stable of shows.”
A pair of grandMA2 light consoles are on hand for “The Sing Off.”
“We made the jump to grandMA2 with the Miss America pageant this year,” Peralta said. “I haven’t gone back since. I’m a big fan of the grandMA2 and all their new software features. We used 48 universes of DMX to accommodate the gear-heavy music series. The show file gets bigger and bigger with each episode; we’ve compiled hundreds of effects. We can’t rave enough about how solid the NPUs are – they’re able to process 10 shows with different performances on each show and they never slow down.”
For the Emmy Awards Peralta, Kevin Lawson and Tom Beck served as lighting directors with Allen Branton lighting designer.
“The top of the set had a flown half-circle truss 120 feet long, like a crown over the stage,” Peralta said. “We wanted to give the show a fresh, edgy look for Mark Burnett Productions, which was new to the awards this year. So we peppered some Sharpys in the crown with a bunch of wash lights. The Sharpys were great at cutting through and giving a nice iconic look on wide bumpers and the winner announcements. They were a nice accent piece to go to.”
Two grandMA2 lights acted as the main consoles for the production with a grandMA2 full size on hand for back up. The primary desks ran 24 universes of DMX. “Although there was not a lot of cueing involved, the Emmys are very high profile and had to be executed perfectly. We wouldn’t have gone with anything other than the very stable grandMA2 network. We would never compromise a show such as the Emmys.”
Peralta also gives kudos to the support he and his colleagues received from Atomic Lighting for both shows. “They are very hands on, and their systems are rock solid out of the box. With Atomic, we’re up and running on the first day-and-a-half on a show, so we can start the creative process in plenty of time.”
On “The Sing Off,” Darren Langer is head gaffer, Brian Freidin best boy, Jason Uchita lead tech and Davey George the Atomic lead tech. For the Emmy Awards, Darran Webb was head gaffer and Brad Hafer, Darren Langer and J.P. Gabriel the gaffers.