The 2015 FIRST Championship pitted 900 international youth teams against each other in an exciting, weekend-long event at the end of April. Using robots they had designed, built and programmed themselves, each team competed in a series of qualifying rounds focused on this year’s theme; Recycle Rush. Staged across five venues, the championship’s main events were held at the Edward Jones Dome, home of the St. Louis Rams. New Orleans-based entertainment design and production firm, Solomon Group, was asked to light not only the ceremonies and competitions, but also the concert that capped off the weekend – which it did successfully with the help of Martin Professional’s versatile lighting fixtures.
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) hosts several events throughout the year that target elementary and high school students. The annual championship is the culmination of dozens of regional qualifying rounds throughout the world. Solomon Group also produced eight regional events in addition to the championship, which Matt Foucheaux, Solomon Group’s Director of Production Design, describes as much more dramatic than the relatively straightforward regional productions. Foucheaux said:
“We mainly relied on simple PAR cans at the regionals, but our client wanted more pageantry at the championship, which introduced a new, Olympic-style event model. The MAC Quantum Wash was our workhorse for the entire weekend. We put it on double-duty for lighting the competitions as well as the concert performers onstage.”
For the competitions, Foucheaux’s primary concern was finding a fixture that would be compatible with the robots’ sensors. Additionally, the lights were needed to make the competitions visible to everyone in the stadium while adding a sense of drama to the matches. The MAC Quantum™ Wash, like many Martin products, features a flicker-free LED bulb that did not interfere with the remote commands sent to the robots. Foucheaux praised the MAC Quantum Wash’s color temperature and bright whites, which he says were ideal for illuminating the eight playing fields in the stadium:
“Once the competitions were finished, all we needed to do was flip the MAC Quantum Washes around toward the stage for the closing ceremony to soak the entire stadium in color and movement,” said Foucheaux. “If we had used PAR rigs, we would’ve had to climb up and refocus everything manually.”
The MAC Quantum Washes, which were hung about 40 feet above the ground floor, were complemented by a host of other Martin fixtures including the MAC Viper™ Profile, MAC Viper™ AirFX, MAC Aura™, MAC™ III Performance and the RUSH™ MH 3 Beam, which Foucheaux sees as vastly superior to similar products from other vendors:
“We own a ton of RUSH MH 3 fixtures but I had never applied them on this scale. Out of the 76 used, we didn’t have one problem running continuously from Wednesday afternoon to Saturday night. Their brightness, color and speed are remarkable.”
Foucheaux says the event was a huge success with more than 18,000 students from 40 countries in attendance and performances from rock band Boys Like Girls. Foucheaux was more than satisfied with his team’s work to produce the FIRST Championship, helped in part by Martin’s fixtures. He concluded:
“As designers, we want to make sure it looks exactly as the client envisioned it, but it’s also important to have confidence that the gear will work the way it’s supposed to. With Martin’s lights, we didn’t have to worry about problems like fixture failures on a huge rig. Those little details mean a lot when you’re on a big job.”
MAC Quantum Wash, 106 pcs.
RUSH MH 3 Beam, 76 pcs.
MAC Viper Profile, 24 pcs.
MAC Viper AirFX, 24 pcs.
MAC Aura, 32 pcs.
MAC III Performance, 14 pcs.