grandMA3 in control at the Brit Awards 2021
Tuesday, 22 June 2021
the-brit-awardsThe first major indoor live music event with an audience since the pandemic shut down of March 2020 (© John Marshall JM Enternational)
UK - The Brit Awards 2021 was staged at the O2 Arena, London, featuring an elegant and dynamic production design by Es Devlin and Yinka Ilori with lighting created by Al Gurdon. The live broadcast event celebrated some of the best British and international music and broke ground as the first major indoor live music event with an audience – of key and frontline workers – since the pandemic shut down of March 2020.
Hosted by comedian Jack Whitehall, and aired on ITV, the live line-up included Coldplay, Dua Lipa, Elton John, The Weeknd, Griff, Rag’n’Bone Man, Pink & The Greenwich & Lewisham NHS Choir, Headie One and several more.
Al Gurdon worked alongside a lighting programming team comprising Alex Mildenhall looking after the show’s ‘effect’ lights using a grandMA3 full-size console running grandMA3 software, and Ross Williams who took care of all the key lighting. The lighting rig consisted of around 1,600 fixtures, with over 105 DMX universes containing 43,000 parameters.
Alex himself owns three grandMA3 light consoles – one of which was running as his backup on this event. He had been working with the powerful and versatile new grandMA3 software for some months already, and decided it was the way to go for this year’s high profile ‘Brits’.
The show was moved back from its usual February slot to May, so Alex had already had the chance to use the full grandMA3 combination on shows earlier in the year, including Dancing on Ice also for ITV at Bovingdon Airfield, and Game of Talents at Maidstone Studios. When it came to The Brits, he was confident it was the ideal control solution.
New features he appreciates include Phasers (the new effects), which offer the ability to create discreet and complex multi-step effects easily and efficiently, while the new Selection Grid facilitates quick building of Phasers, especially when using uneven fixture quantities or fixtures non-symmetrically positioned on the trussing or set.
Recipes is another popular feature of grandMA3. Recipes enabled Alex to programme “the intent of cues” without knowing at that stage exactly which fixtures would be used. When the team later worked out which lights worked best for specific tasks / scenes, all the cues were rapidly populated with the correct data. As well as using time very efficiently, Alex highlights that this allows some “serious flexibility” in changing which lights are doing what on the fly without masses of re-programming.
The ability to import MVR files direct from CAD programmes like Vectorworks is another asset for Alex, making it a speedy process to build a patched show file. Some of The Brits show programming was pre-visualised in Depence2 during the first couple of days on site, while the set build was ongoing and before they had access to the rig, and this MVR file allowed them to create both the Depence2 model and grandMA3 show file from the same Vectorworks data.
Like everyone involved in the event, Alex was “delighted” to be back working on a live show and with an audience again, and especially alongside such a “brilliant, imaginative and inspiring” team of technical and creative experts.
Lighting equipment was supplied by PRG and video by Ogle Hog. The lighting crew chief was Rich Gorrod and followspot caller Chris Henry operated a grandMA2 full-size system (main and backup consoles) running PRG’s Ground Control followspot system. The camera director was Julia Knowles. The MA Lighting distributor for the UK is Ambersphere Solutions.

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