Steve McCracken makes magic with ChamSys at Fly Open Air Festival

The transformation seemed magical. For three nights this summer, Princess Gardens Park, a refined and stately 37-acre oasis of green in the middle of a downtown shopping district, took on the air of an EDM club as thousands of fans piled in to see stars like Kerri Chandler, Shanti Celeste, Mr. G, and DJ Boring, perform at the Fly Open Air Festival.

Setting an appropriately intense tone for the proceedings was a bright, bold, and fast moving 14-universe lightshow run by Steve McCracken on his ChamSys MagicQ MQ500M Stadium that featured a massive 40-meter-long EDM-club-worthy wall of light.

Working with a lighting design by Nick Jevons of NJ Designs, and fixtures supplied by LITE-UP Productions, McCracken, busked the entire weekend. He relied on the big wall to create chase sequences, intense colour washes, and other effects that transformed the park into an immersive club setting.

Like all such seemingly “magical transformations” however, this one was the product of some very down-to-earth hard work, along with generous servings of skill and resourcefulness on the part of the entire production team, including 19Mil, which – designed and assembled all the mirrored panels. McCracken explained how the magic happened:

“I was approached by Nick Jevons to operate this show for him. The spec his client wanted was beams, the bolder and brighter the better. So, my role was to work with our techs Chris Gowling and Russell Cobden to install the light, then programme the show and operate it.

“There were some issues we had to deal with in the installation process to make our wall of light work,” continued McCracken. “Namely, the weight and configuration of the fixtures, meant that we needed to outrig them, which was a bit challenging, given the structure of the wall, which had two layers. But all departments worked well together to arrive at the desired outcome.”

Outrigging created its own issue, because it resulted in a tight gap between fixtures. To address this, McCraken had to limit the tilt the fixtures on the wall to prevent them from hitting each other. His ChamSys console came to his aid. “Our MQ500M provided a quick and easy solution,” he said. “I used the Tilt Limits within the Patch Window to limit how much fixtures could tilt.”

McCracken also made good use of the Grids feature in his console, as it allowed him to layout his fixtures on the output grid. “This enabled me to make quick groups whilst busking to create different FX,” he said. “The wall was my only audience-facing surface of light, so it was important not to keep using the same look repeatedly.”

Colour was another critical part of McCraken’s plan to create a diverse range of looks. He notes that his console’s Colour Faders we extremely helpful in referencing different colours to various effects. This helped him call up cues quickly for various drops and changes in tracks while he was busking.

The Soft Palettes feature also helped him maintain an intense pace. “Purely from the busking side of things, soft pallets help me quickly change the look at the push of a button, instead of programming a lot of cues,” he said, noting that fast movement and intensity were essential to creating the right aura at the Fly Open Air Festival.

Thanks to this aura, fans got to enjoy freedom of being outside in the park, all while being immersed in a club atmosphere…pure magic!


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