The opening ceremony in Doha (photo: Katara Studios)

Qatar - The opening ceremony of the AFC Asian Cup at the Lusail Stadium in Doha, on 12 January 2024 featured an impressive lighting design by Roland Greil and his team.

Greil chose a grandMA3 system to control the lighting. This comprised four grandMA3 full-size consoles for the production and four grandMA3 light as mobile consoles in the stadium, supported by 12 grandMA3 processing units XL. In addition, a further three grandMA3 full-size consoles were used for preparatory work at the previz studio.

“The full redundancy as well as the incorporation of the remote consoles into the network were particularly important to us as it allowed us to operate from several different locations within the stadium. And for a show of this magnitude, the multi-user capability of the lighting consoles is indispensable, as we work with several programmers in these cases so that we can manage the workload in the given time,” explains Greil.

The opening ceremony marked the first use of a grandMA3 system by the team around Roland Greil. “Having a high-performance platform was of enormous importance for this project, enabling us to deal with the complexity and the vast number of different requirements,” continues the designer. “Equally important were reliability as well as operating successfully within a larger network infrastructure.”

The idea was that the lighting design would mainly function as a “canvas” for the set designed by visual creative director Sila Sveta as well as supporting the visual storytelling – a 21-minute show – with a virtual frame made from light. It was only towards the end of the show that the lighting effects expanded out into the space and became stronger in order to lead the spectators visually to the opening of the sports event.

The programming for the show was performed by Michael Kühbandner and Markus Neubauer, using grandMA3 software version, which enabled the efficient realisation of the complex tasks to be managed. While Michael Kühbandner referred to “flexibility, consistency and practicality” as the main plus points of the software, Markus Neubauer gave a more detailed description of the positive features that impressed him most during the course of the programming.

“We were able to create complex motion sequences very quickly with the aid of phasers and it was possible to adapt them perfectly for the cameras during the rehearsals,” said Neubauer. “And in a situation where time constraints forced us to work simultaneously on pre-production as well as presets in the stadium, we were able to synchronise our presets and sequences continually by means of data pools although we were programming in two different environments at the same time.

“Not to forget the MIB timings per cue. To avoid making some trusses ‘sway’, I used differentiated MIB fade times for different cues. That would not have been possible with a grandMA2 system. Generally, I like the fact that you can now do a lot more work on the stage and need to focus less on the console because in the case of phasers, for instance, you see immediately what you are programming.”

To ensure the greatest possible efficiency when doing the programming for such a big show, the two programmers made use of a number of new functions of the grandMA3 software.

Roland Greil sums up: “The AFC Asian Cup Opening Ceremony in Doha was a special project for us all. In collaboration with an excellent team, we created an enchanting theatre show of stadium magnitude with sophisticated scenery on the pitch immediately prior to the opening match of a major football tournament. You don’t do that sort of thing every day, and I’m proud of our work and the result. The decision to work using a grandMA3 system for the first time for this project proved absolutely the right one.”

For a full production report on the AFC’s opening ceremony, see the March 2024 issue of LSi . . .

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