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Alain Corthout Powers Black Eyed Peas with ChamSys Stadium MagicQ MQ500M

The ancient Greek philosopher Hierocles was fond of using concentric circles to represent something he called oikeiosis, the essence of our identity as humans, with the inner circle symbolizing the individual, and each succeeding curve representing a broader and broader universe. The same theme surrounding this shape has been echoed by philosophers throughout the ages. It was also called forth this spring in Alain Corthout’s stunning production design for Black Eyed Peas show at La Défense Arena.

Corthout reflected the music and stage persona of the iconic LA band with a transcended visual panorama that wove light and video together in concentric patterns that seemed to reach out further and further, extending as far as the imagination would take them.

“The lighting and video concept aimed to create a seamless fusion of elements, utilizing expansive curves and circles to present a unified visual experience,” said Corthout. “By integrating concentric rims extending from the video screens, we sought to evoke a sense of grandeur and cohesion within the large venue setting.”

Using this majestic canvas, Corthout unfolded a narrative over a show that spanned more than two hours and featured a 24-song set list. “The narrative of the show centered on encapsulating the joyous, ecstatic, party atmosphere synonymous with the Black Eyed Peas’ music,” he explained. “Our design and programming were tailored to mirror the energy and tone set by the band.”

Powering this creative outpouring, was a ChamSys MQ500M Stadium console, supplemented by a stadium wing and a spare MQ500M unit. The lighting, which required 55-universes, was run exclusively by the console, whilst the video was done with Resolume, under the direction of Austin Stengle. Programming for the show was executed using Capture 2024 Symphony.)

Belgium’s Phlippo Showlights supplied the ChamSys console and lighting-video kit for this show. “They demonstrated exceptional expertise by assembling an 800-light rig within a single day,” said Corthout. “They also supplied the rigging, sound, and stage risers. Mike Walker, the production manager, and co-designer, also deserves a great deal of credit. His contributions were integral to the success of the project.”

Corthout drew on many of the performance features of his ChamSys console to turn his vision into a reality on stage. “The three pivotal features of our console for this application were Group FX, Grid FX, and Speed Masters,” he said. “These functionalities streamlined the programming process, offering ease of use and rapid adaptability to the dynamic tempo changes, and last-minute song adjustments typical of live performances. Their significance lies in the efficiency they afford in programming, ensuring seamless transitions and synchronization with the evolving musical elements of the show.”

The MQ500M’s Copy Heads Programming, “an amazing tool to transform an existing show to a completely new setup,” was also valued by Corthout, as was the Replace Palettes, Multi Console + Visualiser settings (which allowed one person to do presets, while a colleague programmed cues), and the MVR Import + Plot.

Elaborating on the latter feature, Corthout noted, “it allowed super-fast import from Vectorworks CAD programs or visualiser. You can start to build up your show without losing time on patching.”

In the end all these tools came together, and, like Hierocles’s oikeiosis, expanded ever more outward to create something that really seemed to know no limits.