Martin MAC 2000 Wash XB’s light Obama Election Night Rally

CHICAGO, IL--By all accounts, November 4th was an historic day for America as the nation elected its first African-American President. The culmination of an arduous campaign came later that evening, in Chicago’s Grant Park, when President-Elect Barack Obama held his presidential acceptance speech before a home town crowd of more than 100,000 revelers.

Called upon by event producer C3 Presents to light the rally was stage lighting rental and production company Christie Lites, lighting contractor and lighting supplier for the event.

“The job was somewhat unusual to light because it was outdoors and at the same time had to be lit for TV in a manner typical of an indoor studio,” commented Huntly Christie, CEO of Christie Lites Orlando. “As such, it was a real mixed bag of lighting. However, the most prominent fixture on the site was the Martin MAC 2000 Wash XB. They were instrumental in making sure that the world witnessed this historic event.”

Lighting designer for the event was Bob Peterson who described the evening and his assignment as such, “It was a very historical night with a feeling of excitement and also a sense of relief when the results were announced. I received directions from the Obama team that the lighting was to be appropriately conservative with no celebratory effects. The brief was to elegantly transfer from the exuberance of the campaign to the seriousness of the presidency.”

The MAC 2000 Wash XB’s, which made up two-thirds of the automated lighting package, were spread out across three 80’ Stageco towers, a 30 foot 10 x 10 scaffold, a mobile Elevated LED Screen, and two stage backlight scaffolds. Light from the extra bright version of the MAC 2000 Wash was used for stage backlighting, for near audience lighting, and to illuminate a stately row of distant trees. Self contained Musco mobile lighting trucks did a great deal of the far field lighting.

“As audience fill light the color temperature adjustment of the XB’s allowed me to feather in the transition from the stage lighting (4800 Kelvin on President-Elect Obama) to the audience fill lighting (around 5800 Kelvin),” Peterson says. “I was thrilled with the CT variance capacity of the XB’s and delightedly shocked at the light output from them. There was a bank of trees about 1000 ft away which they unexpectedly lit up.”

The MAC 2000 Wash XB is a new 1500 W Fresnel that takes the optical and effect qualities of Martin’s MAC 2000 Wash and adds greater brightness (over 60,000 lumens of power), new efficient fans, ballast, starter and more.

“The combination of Martin quality along with Christie Lites deserved reputation for phenomenal care and maintenance of all their equipment assured a fully functional system. We had no failures,” Peterson stated.

Peterson does mention challenges, which he says were all present in the “cut shot,” an important camera view from the southwest corner of the park through the President-Elect into the crowd all the way to the city skyline in the background. “The driving photographic issue was exposing to the skyline,” he says.

Opening the iris to accomplish that task created concern about the amount of uncontrolled light from the huge corps of press photographers on hand. “I was a bit worried that we might be required to open up iris so much that the press lighting would be an uncontrollable competitive light source,” Peterson explains. “In the end the hundreds of Chimeras and Kino’s acted like the world’s biggest softlight and filled his profile to that camera angle.”