Idols South Africa votes for grandMA3
Thursday, 7 February 2019
idols(Photos: © Anriette van Wyk, Kief Kreativ)
South Africa - Lighting designer Joshua Cutts was thrilled to drive a grandMA3 light for the Idols South Africa 2018 finale hosted at Carnival City in Johannesburg. The team worked together for the ninth consecutive year and comprised Dream Sets, the full technical supplier headed by project manager Eben Peltz; lighting and set designer Joshua Cutts from Visual Frontier; with Gavin Wratten once again the executive producer and director. The broadcast was aired on the Mzansi Magic Network.
Deciding that Idols would be the ideal opportunity to test the grandMA3 light, Cutts approached Duncan Riley of DWR Distribution, the MA distributors in Africa. Cutts comments: “Still running on grandMA2 software, it’s still the same desk for now but with new hardware. It worked out pretty well because I broke my arm before we loaded in, and only had one arm to program with. The console was small enough for me to reach every button with one arm!”
From a hardware point of view, Cutts says: “I was very impressed with the work MA Lighting have done on the buttons, faders, and the whole tactile experience, which I think is what they wanted to achieve. The buttons were softer and easier to use, the faders were more responsive and the touch screen very accurate. The grandMA3 light integrated well with my grandMA2 light, the MA NPU (Network Processing Unit), MA VPU (Video Processing Unit) and MA 8Port Node. It worked seamlessly with the system and never gave any problems.”
With his arm not working as it should, and Idols being such a high-pressure show, Cutts was grateful to have Christopher Bolton assisting him. “I decided to fly Chris up from Durban to help me programme,” he explains. “It’s the first time I’ve done that this year. I operated, because I know the show so well, but he helped me get the information into the desk which was the tricky part. We used full-on timecoding. Because it’s such a tight show and we’ve being doing it so well for such a long time, Gavin Wratten and our team worked very closely together and integrated a new system called CuePilot throughout the season.”
CuePilot is an automated camera switching software which receives a timecode, meaning Wratten could pre-plot all the camera shots beforehand. “When the music director pushed ‘play’, the pre-programmed camera shots were on-point, enabling my timecoding to sink up with the camera shots with the director. Gavin knows exactly what he wants and now everything happens on the beat on time. CuePilot is phenomenal and Gavin used it to great effect.”
Andre Siebrits from Visual Frontier was tasked with managing CuePilot from a technical and networking point of view. He was able to master the software and help create a smooth experience for all the crew using CuePilot.
Going back to the drawing board, Cutts sat down with Wratten and sketched some shapes. “We had done circles and squares before and we wondered what shapes we should do this year,” Cutts recalls. “We started with triangles which we found were not enough of a shape. So, we extended them and made them abstract triangles. I had to think of a way to make them interlink amongst each other. It was less about a construction of major set pieces and rather about using existing stock to achieve something.”
The end result was the tallest set the team had ever created in Carnival City’s Big Top Arena, reaching almost 13m high. “The set is a Prolyte trussing structure,” said Cutts. “It was a challenge to rig, but I gave the drawings to Eben Peltz from Dream Sets and he and the rigging team built it perfectly, exactly as per my drawing, which I find amazing. Eben and I know each other so well that we can pre-empt what the other is going to do. I know what will help him in his job and he knows what challenges I might give him, so we work together to solve it.”
Using a combination of equipment supplied from Dream Sets and Carnival City’s in-house gear, the lighting fixtures included Vari-Lite VLZ Washes, Robe ParFects and LEDBeams dotted over the unusual triangular shaped trussing structure. “I drew the set before drawing the lights, so I actually shot myself in the foot, thereafter spending a lot of time trying to work out the correct position, correct backlight and front light angles! But once I figured that out, I got to drive the grandMA3 full-size for the first time!”
To discover more about Joshua Cutts, read In Profile in the February issue of LSi – OUT NOW!
(LSi Online)

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