Photos credit: Sara Bill Photography
Billed as the world’s largest music festival, Summerfest drew more than 800,000 people to the Henry Meier Festival Grounds on the shores of Lake Michigan in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A.C.T Lighting, Inc. supported Clearwing Productions with MA Lighting consoles and Clay Paky Scenius spot fixtures for the 11-day event. A.C.T Lighting is the exclusive distributor of MA Lighting and Clay Paky products in North America.
Summerfest marked its 49th year with performances by more than 800 acts representing alternative music, rock, country, R&B, pop, reggae and more. Headliners this year included Paul McCartney, Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton. Clearwing Productions provided audio, lighting and backline across the Summerfest grounds.
The company supplemented the festival’s lighting rigs on some stages and furnished full lighting rigs on others. Clearwing also worked with A.C.T Lighting to provide consoles across the grounds and in A.C.T’s Previs Suite.
Clay Paky Scenius spots made their debut at Summerfest 2016. Clearwing mounted a dozen fixtures on the Marcus Amphitheater’s upstage and midstage trusses where they augmented the spot rig for Pitbull, Blake Shelton, Chris Stapleton/Alabama Shakes, Tim McGraw and Blink 182.
“We got a lot of good feedback about them; everyone seemed very happy with Scenius,” notes Ania Dankow, operations/logistics – lighting for Clearwing.
“Scenius is a well-built and versatile spot unit that was an amazing complement to the other large moving heads in the rig,” says Clearwing lighting technician Sam McKeown.
“It harnesses a very smooth and well constructed color field that is bright, vibrant and resonates well cutting through any gobo or simple air effect. A very quick unit for its size, Scenius competes with smaller beam/profile units built for speed. Every lighting designer who came through was thrilled with the overall functionality of the unit and had very high regard for what this bright, well-built, fast-moving spot fixture can do.”
Aaron Hubbard, western regional sales at A.C.T Lighting, notes that, “lighting designers commented on the expansive color rendering of Scenius and the deep reds they hadn’t seen before in color mixing systems. They could also see the light hitting the stage when they focused the spots in daylight.”
A.C.T Lighting provided MA Lighting control systems that served six of the eight music stages and the Marcus Amphitheater. Five stages had grandMA2 full-size or light consoles and one had a compact dot2.
MA’s dot2 marked its second year at Summerfest where it saw increased interest from lighting designers who have become familiar with the desk in the past year.
Once again, away from the hustle and bustle of the Summerfest stages, A.C.T Lighting hosted a Previs Suite outfitted with grandMA2 full-size, grandMA2 light and dot2 systems that touring lighting directors used to build their shows.
With so many artists at Summerfest the touring lighting designers’ actual time on stage prior to the performance was quite limited and confined to daylight hours. A.C.T Lighting solved that problem with the Previs Suite, a dedicated virtual environment for creating their shows.
In the Previs Suite, the lighting designers spent as little or as much time as they needed using prebuilt 3D environments to produce the best-looking shows for their artists. They also had access to on-site technical support from A.C.T Lighting’s Spencer Michaels, who prebuilt all the 3D show files.
The Previs Suite played a hospitality role, too.
“It became a sort of clubhouse where the touring lighting designers could hang out with each other,” says Hubbard. “We plan to be back in the same location for Summerfest’s 50th anniversary next year.”
The A.C.T Lighting team also visited onstage with lighting designers for the headliners who were eager for Spencer Michaels to tell them about grandMA2’s newest feature sets.