When the fourth biennial "Stand Up to Cancer" special aired in the US and Canada on September 5 it raised more than $109 million for its groundbreaking collaborative research efforts. Some 60 Clay Paky Sharpy fixtures were deployed for the event with a complement of grandMA2 consoles controlling lighting and media. A.C.T Lighting is the exclusive distributor of both brands in North America.
More than three dozen broadcast and cable networks in the US and Canada telecast "Stand Up to Cancer." The show, staged at LA's Dolby Theatre, featured celebrity guests, music by Lupe Fiasco, Jennifer Hudson and Common, The Who, the Dave Matthews Band, and Ariana Grande, and inspiring stories about patients who have benefited from the research supported by the organization. Atomic Lighting of Lititz, Pennsylvania provided the Clay Paky fixtures and grandMA2 consoles.
"This show really means a lot to me," says Brad Hafer, vice president of account management, at Atomic Lighting. "'Stand Up to Cancer' is about something real - it's not just done for ratings. It made us all feel that we were contributing something to the cause."
Allen Branton was the lighting designer for the special with Felix Peralta, Daniel K. Boland and Darren Langer the lighting directors. Peralta worked closely with Branton on the show design. "We've been associated with 'Stand Up to Cancer' before; its message is a very powerful one and the show has high production values, but not flashy ones," he explains.
The Sharpys were used as strong beam lights and for their Sharpy dappling technique, Peralta points out. "Giant white walls acted as video projection surfaces, which we enhanced with accents of color or Sharpy dappling - treating the scenic pieces with the high-output fixtures to create a nice effect that you can't get with a hard-edged light. It was a big part of the look of the show."
Since the special was "a strong, video-driven show," Peralta teamed with Laura Frank, screens producer and media programmer, on the media canvas. "She and I like to make sure the lighting and video stories come from the same center, that the transitions are the same, the color schemes complementary or matching," he explains. "When lighting and video play together both are much more powerful."
Frank, who is the principal of Minneapolis-based Luminous FX, says Kurtis Kennington of Digital Flodur designed the media content creating "about a dozen looks for the show, plus the band. The entire set was projection mapped so the environment was video driven." Looks included themes of science and technology to support certain speakers; the band was often accompanied by photomontages of cancer survivors.
"The grandMA2 has been my preferred console for a while," says Frank. "This show marked just the second time I was using the d3 server driven by grandMA2, and I was beta testing d3's DMX control interface, which enables the grandMA2 to drive the time line-based d3."
Boland, who heads LA's Team Boland Productions, Inc., has been using grandMA desks for a decade or more. He deployed a full-size grandMA2 on "Stand Up to Cancer" where he programmed the key and audience lighting.
"The show was as much about lighting the people in the audience as those on stage," says Boland. "We made sure everyone was lit, the color temperature was fine. During rehearsal we keyed at least six positions for the people making speeches and introducing the videos, including one on a round extension into the audience."
Especially handy for Boland was the grandMA2's special menu for using shutters on spots. "If the fixture has shutters you just choose the shutters menu and angle them easily by dragging your fingers," he explains.
Darren Langer, the floor lighting director, worked closely with Boland to ensure consistent exposure levels for the talent and the audience and a "polished" look, Peralta says.
Peralta himself was responsible for lighting the environment for the show, including the scenic pieces and architecture of the house. He says production designer John Calkins partnered with Branton to create a "tasteful and powerful" environment that helped deliver the show's strong message.
Peralta used a grandMA2 light to "make sure the environment complemented the video and gelled with it," he points out. He's been using MA family consoles for about 15 years. "It's the only choice," he says. "This was one of the first shows we did with the new 3.0 software, and we were very pleased with the additional features and improvements.
"For 'Stand Up to Cancer' we had the luxury of a good amount of time on site so we could program there at a very human pace," he adds. "It's uncommon to have that kind of time and we were very grateful for it so we could create a real hand-craft look."
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