Maxxyz Takes Control at Sting DVD Shoot

After completing the recording of his new album in Paris in April, one of music’s biggest names, Sting, and various band members relocated to Los Angeles where they filmed a performance DVD of the new material.

Recorded at the historic Mayan Theatre in downtown LA from May 13-15, lighting programmer Rob Smith called on the new Martin Maxxyz lighting console for the show.

Lighting design by Stan Crocker
For the Sting shoot, Maxxyz was used to operate a Stan Crocker-designed lighting rig that included both automated and conventional fixtures. In addition to an Emmy nominated lighting design for another Sting video shot in Tuscany, Stan has completed lighting designs for a myriad of other live music television projects including recent television specials for Willie Nelson, Mick Jagger, Tony Bennett and DVDs for KORN, Tori Amos and Rod Stewart. He recently completed tour designs for Beck and for Jane’s Addiction and the Lollapalooza tour.

Lighting programming by Rob Smith
“The Maxxyz is the first lighting console built with input from professionals who are going to use it – lighting programmers,” Rob Smith says. “The result is that it works the way users want it to work.”

Rob, who has a background in touring shows working with the likes of Melissa Etheridge, Nine Inch Nails, Metallica, Beck and many others, has been a Maxxyz Beta-test programmer since September of 2002, working with Maxxyz software at the Martin LA office. Rob also programs for theatre and corporate shows and has been freelance since 1996.

Fitting console for TV production
“The Maxxyz was amazingly stable,” Rob commented. “I had no problems with either the software or the hardware. The console performed well during a very demanding shoot.”

Because the Maxxyz includes features that make it excellent for TV production, it was the fitting console for the Sting event Rob stated. “Take faders for example, you can place channels on a fader bank, organize them by position, by purpose or both. Then you can have an array of conventional groups displayed in a graphical fashion and the faders remember where they are as you change from bank to bank. It lets you manage what can otherwise be a confusing situation as lights are moved, changed and reassigned constantly during a 12-hour shooting day. It makes it a lot faster and a lot more organized. Basically, it makes it easier to get to what you want. Flying faders and their ability to remember their values is a big advantage over conventional consoles.”

High definition color touch screens, digital LCD buttons and digital fader belts are only a few of the features that make Maxxyz a very intuitive controller. Rob admits that initially he didn’t think he’d like the fader belts. “I was a bit skeptical at the start but the fader belts allow you to move much faster. You don’t have to move your hands around much. I could leave the color picker open all the time for example and mix to whatever color I wanted. The palette was easily accessible. I also like the LCD buttons and the way they are laid out.”

ShowDesigner
One of the many useful features incorporated into the Maxxyz is Martin Professional’s ShowDesigner 3-D lighting design software, which allows lighting professionals to quickly and easily develop or alter lighting designs in vivid 3-D computer graphics.

“I used ShowDesigner to set up a realistic drawing of the gig and then made changes to the drawing while we were loading in,” Rob stated. “It allowed me to work during that time when you’re normally sitting around drinking coffee. I could work with the rig before it was set up – build groups, patch, fixture orientation and focus positions, etc. So when the rig went up we were ready to do the conventional focus, etc. It really does save quite a bit of time and hassle, and that of course means dollar savings for the producer. I could also sit with a laptop and manage the patch and fixture information. I didn’t have to sit and write cues all night.”

Multimedia
Maxxyz has been developed with multimedia in mind. The console includes a DVD/CD-RW multi-drive so lighting pros can synchronize light shows with audio and video. Rob concludes, “The idea of having a CD-RW drive is unique for a controller. The fact that Maxxyz can be used as the source of audio and video is a great benefit. I even used it to play CDs which was nice when I was programming.”

Mayan Theatre
The Mayan is a visually stunning setting for a TV production, decorated in a pre-Columbian style with hand carved walls, Sun-Calendar, chandelier and richly painted walls. An historic site first used in the 1920’s for vaudeville productions and extensively remodeled in the ‘90s, today the Mayan is used as an event space for concerts, movie shoots and special events. Part of the historic Los Angeles theatre district, it doubles as a nightclub on the weekends.

DVD release this fall
Sting’s new album, his first studio release in four years, is entitled “Sacred Love” and was released in late September. The DVD is scheduled for release in early October and will feature a mixture of new material and older tracks as well as surprise guests, commentary, and behind-the-scenes and documentary footage.

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