This website uses cookies to help improve your online experience. If you continue without changing your cookie settings we'll assume that you are happy for this website to use cookies. Find out more about our cookies. Hide this message.
  • AC-ET
  • News
  •   A.C. Supply Jands Vista Lighting Console for MINI Convertible Motor Show Launch

A.C. Supply Jands Vista Lighting Console for MINI Convertible Motor Show Launch

19th July 2004

Building on the success of their spectacular 'MINI Adventure Live!' stunt show at the event two years ago, MINI decided to up the ante for the new Convertible launch with their even more ambitious 'MINI Open Air Theatre' show to announce the car's availability this summer.

The stunt show, which was produced by Glyn Davies of corporate events company The Russell Organisation, is on a scale comparable with a large west end theatre production and took over an entire hall at the NEC to accommodate the specially constructed 75m x 32m arena with seating capacity for 1,000 people.

Amazingly, the shows use only standard production cars to demonstrate the MINI's impressive handling capabilities via a series of stunts which incorporate 200 handbrake turns, 150 metres of two-wheel driving, 25 precision near-misses, 20 J-flick turns and a 6.5 metre mid-air jump. The 3 cars are driven by world-leading precision drivers which include former British Auto Testing Champion Russ Swift.

Martin Locket, the show's Lighting Designer and MD of London based live events specialists Essential Lighting, decided to use the revolutionary new Jands Vista console for the launch event after seeing a preview of the desk at PLASA 2003. Martin Locket was keen to try the console as an LD and also investigate it as a potential new rental product. Working with Jands exclusive European and North American distributor A.C. Lighting, he chose the MINI show as the ideal event to debut the Vista.

The Vista is fundamentally different from existing desks in several key ways. Most importantly, unlike existing consoles, which force users to convert their mental picture into a complex series of numbers, the Vista allows users to work visually by controlling all design parameters with a pen and a large colour screen. This radically different interface enables users to build their lighting designs visually and makes programming with the desk extremely fast, simple and intuitive.

From a technical viewpoint, Martin Locket was keen to use the desk for the show because the lighting design involved a large number of precisely timed cues in a short timescale - 300 cues in 8 minutes!

Revolving around the 8 minute soundtrack, Martin Locket and Programmer Martin Seymour found that they could load the soundtrack into the desk and program the show to the actual soundtrack timings (rather than the traditional hours spent with a notepad and stopwatch getting the cue points right).

The unique Timeline interface also made it very easy for them to edit the precise moves and looks that they wanted to achieve, once they got into the new mindset of treating a cue as an entire transition rather than a start point and end point. The Timeline displays all show parameters on a single scrolling screen, making editing and reviewing extremely quick and intuitive.

The team also found Vista's unique Generic Fixture Model a very powerful feature, as being able to copy and paste information across fixtures saved them a lot of time. For example, when they got onsite they needed to add in some additional Citycolor floods to get greater coverage in the arena. By using the Generic Fixture Model feature they could simply copy the information for the entire show from one existing fixture and paste this into new fixtures. This saved hours of replotting time.

For Martin Locket, the strongest feature from a design point of view was the ease of being able to offset timings by skewing a selection of attributes across the Timeline. The lighting design's 60m wide cyclorama, lit with 36x Martin Mac600 washlights, allowed them to get some very impressive transitions and wipes across the cyc. Martin Locket specifically chose 36 fixtures as it divided into so many groups, so they could take alternatives 3s, 4s, 6s, 9s, 12s and skew an effect from inside to outside, left to right.

Other lighting rig fixtures included 12 Clay Paky Stagezoom 1200, 12 Griven Kolorado, 24 Studio Due Citycolor, 6 Coemar CF1200, 6 Clay Paky Goldenscan-3, 12 Cadenza cloud projector and 150 PAR 64s.

As a result of these key features, Martin Locket felt that he got a better show by using the Vista than he would have done with any other console as he was able to achieve moves and cues that would have been simply too time-consuming to program on other desks.

The show demands on any console were huge, with a total of 99 performances playing to 80,000 people over two weeks, and of course the use of over 300 cues in 8 minutes for each show. This left absolutely no downtime for the console, so it had to be able to perform reliably throughout the event.

Despite these demands, the high profile of MINI's show and the fact that the console had yet to launch or be used on any UK shows, Martin Locket was still convinced that the console's pre-release software version was stable and far enough advanced to use the desk for the show.

Martin Locket also knew that he had the full technical support back-up of Jands and A.C. Lighting throughout the project, which worked well in practice with Jands working on software updates at their Australian headquarters and then loading these updates to the desk in time for the following day's programming.

Martin Locket commented: "It required a leap of faith to debut the Vista on such a high profile public event (the show played to over 80,000 people over two weeks). I had to be sure that using Vista in its pre release form would not compromise the event in any way. Essential Lighting were really excited with this desk from the moment we saw the first demo last year. We have had a close working relationship with A.C. for many years and were delighted to become involved closely with Vista in its final development stages. We were not disappointed with the results. Frankly, we ended up with a more impressive show and got far more out of the rig than we would have even attempted with a traditional console. We built some great movement cues within minutes that would have taken hours on a traditional desk. I believe that the timeline concept is very strong but requires a change of mindset, when you first approach the desk, from a traditional control system. The use of tablet and pen takes about half an hour to get used to, before you can start using the desk effectively. Programmer Martin Seymour and I had a couple of "dawning realisation" moments when we realised just how easy some programming issues would be. Being able to jog shuttle through a cue to precisely edit any parameter at any point in time was really powerful. We realised at the end of the programming session that we had spent our time looking up at the stage rather than down at the console. We had got 300 cues into an 8 minute show and had not typed a single number into a numeric keypad! The ability to copy and paste information both horizontally and vertically within the timeline, saved us loads of time. I would recommend any user of a moving light desk to have a good look at Vista. My top features? - I particularly liked the ease of patching and the way it deals with shutters in moving lights. Essential Lighting and myself are glad to have been involved in Vista's debut and look forward to being the first to offer the desk on the UK rental market."

Such is the intuitive nature of the console that when Martin Seymour visited A.C. Lighting to receive training, it took him just 4 hours to get to grips with desk's completely new way of programming.

Martin Seymour commented: "For me programming on the Vista is no longer about number crunching and fighting the software/hardware; it has really become part of the creative process. The large amounts of information that is associated with moving lights is simply graphically represented and consequently complicated changes can be achieved quickly - changes that with the pressure of limited time would not have been considered on other desks. With Vista the possible became achieved in seconds and without the recourse to pen and paper once. It is such a simple but highly powerful concept, I'm amazed that 1, nobody's done it before and 2, we ever tried to do it any other way."

For many visitors to the 2004 Motor Show the MINI Open Air Theatre performance was considered to be the highlight of this year's show.

As a result of the Vista's huge success and faultless performance on the MINI launch, Martin Locket has placed an order for the first two production units and Essential Lighting will be the first UK rental company to provide desks for show hire. The company is currently reviewing future projects to use the console on.

The Jands Vista is available in August in two chassis sizes:
T4 - features two programming and two playback modules
T2 - features one programming and one playback module