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Jands Vista Supplied for MTV VMAs in Miami

17th October 2005

Lighting Designer Tom Kenny and programmer Laura Frank specified a Jands Vista T2 lighting console for the MTV News pre-show event to this year's MTV Video Music Awards

One of the biggest music awards on the calendar, the VMAs took place at the American Airlines Arena in Miami on Sunday 28th August and provided a showcase for some of the industry's hottest musical talent.

Highly experienced programmer Laura Frank of Luminous FX has worked on some of the industry's most cutting-edge shows, including Madonna, Tom Kenny's lighting designs for David Bowie, the Superbowl Halftime show with Paul McCartney and Broadway musical Spamalot.

Laura had heard positive things about the Jands Vista from other programmers with similar console demands and finally came across the Vista at this year's BLMC. With an interest in timeline-based programming and the logic of the Vista's radically different programming structure appealing to her, she decided to explore it further on a show to see how the Vista would perform in a real working environment.

Laura felt the VMAs would be the perfect show to test the desk as the event provided a comfortable schedule for jumping into a new programming environment. She was also confident that the console's unique visual interface would make it easy to program the many show looks.

VMAs pre-show LD Tom Kenny was also supportive about using the desk, largely due to his own positive experience working on a Vista during the Teenage Cancer Trust Royal Albert Hall shows in London.

A.C. Lighting Inc's Darryl Ross visited the site between the Monday to Thursday before the show to train Laura and provide her with full technical support as she was getting used to the console.

Fortunately she found the desk very easy to pick up, as her rig rehearsal time was greatly reduced when a hurricane took away 3 nights of programming - putting even more time pressure on her.

Under these circumstances she considered abandoning the Vista trial at one point when she thought she'd lost too much time to the hurricane, but in the end decided to rise to the challenge. Working late into her only rehearsal night with the rig and as much as possible during the daylight hours of Saturday and Sunday, she managed to get the show finished and had a great learning experience with the Vista.

The Vista ran 7 universes, using its onboard connectors and an additional Artistic Licence Etherlynx box. The rig and fixtures, which were supplied by PRG, included four dimmer packs, 62 Vari-Lite VL2416 automated washes, 54 High End Studio Color 250/575 washes and 79 Studio Beams, 25 Martin Mac 2000 Profiles and 16 ColorBlaze LED border lights.

The pre-show event went out live for two hours before the awards ceremony and 30 minutes afterwards. Consisting of a performance area set up at the water boundary of the arena, the majority of moving lights were used for the red carpet area where music performances were held, tricked out cars arrived up a ramp to drop off celebrity guests, and the various celebrity shots and interviews for the media took place.

The fixtures were also used on HMI towers for visual effect and to illuminate inside the entrance to the red carpet tent. Fixtures were mounted on the ground to highlight the exterior of the building and the large rock garden MTV logo.

Laura commented: "Despite the pressures created by the hurricane and my lack of familiarity with the console, I had a great time using the Vista. Its visually based working environment made it very easy to pick up the basics in just a few days and being able to see the show run to a timeline proved incredibly helpful, particularly when the hurricane took away 3 nights access to the rig."