BBC2 Malai Presents

March 10, 2004

Set Lighting & Sound recently supplied all of the lighting equipment (automated and generic) for the popular Asian TV program Malai Presents, a long running BBC series that showcases cutting-edge British Asian arts, culture and comedy.

Four programs were recorded over a three day period with the first of the 30 minute shows broadcast on Friday, February 13th on BBC2. Viewing figures were recorded at 0.4 million. Lighting Designer David Bushell and lighting programmer/operator David Bishop worked with a Maxxyz-controlled rig of MAC 500s, MAC 250s, MAC 600s, MAC 300s and Pulsar ChromaBanks.

David Bishop puts Maxxyz through its paces
Lighting programmer/operator David Bishop, who has a wide range of experience on a number of industry lighting consoles, found the Maxxyz an effective lighting board for the show. David commented, “This is my first experience using the Maxxyz in what I would call a normal television environment. Although I had used the console for a small part of a smaller show previously (a band performance of one number as part of a children's show called "Smile"), this was the first opportunity to put the desk through its paces under a reasonable amount of pressure and a fast turnover of band performances.

“The Maxxyz was chosen for the show through close ties between the lighting hire company (Set Lighting & Sound) and Martin, allowing us access to the desk directly from the people who designed it, and also because I'm always keen to try out new equipment to ensure that I'm using the most appropriate tool for me to get the most from the job. From my limited previous experience of the desk, and a trip to Martin in Denmark to examine the console further, I suspected that the desk would be more than up to the job, and hoped that my understanding of it would allow me to produce the desired results.”

Up to the task
According to David, the Maxxyz turned out to be more than he had hoped it would be. “The improvements made since my first test drive were significant in many areas, most notably in the speed of the software operation. Where the desk had previously been sluggish, and even lagged behind my keystrokes, it was now fully up to speed, and I can't remember a point at which the desk wasn't keeping up with me. Coming from a broad background in lighting consoles, but mainly the Hog II, I found the desk very easy to interact with. The principles of operation were very similar to those I was used to, and the few differences ([edit][cue][#] instead of [load][cue][#] for example, and the different positions of the equivalent buttons for "choose" "play" and "stop/back") were soon overcome. Currently, the likes of the console far outweigh the dislikes. Even the button design, which I detested when I first used the desk, became positively enjoyable throughout the job.”

Flexible operation
“I love the graphic interfaces for gobos and color, especially the color mixing palette for MAC 600s and the like. Very smart! Also, after foolishly assuming that the motorized playback faders wouldn't really be of any use, I was proved completely wrong. It was very useful to be able to swap pages and activate anything from anywhere without having to release anything that might still be required. This allows a very flexible method of operation, especially during freestyle music and when there isn't the time to plan what you need on each page until you get there.”

“The graphics allowed me to show the LD what was inside the lamps without having to scroll through endless gobo wheels and colours. The Maxxyz facilitates absolute creativity, as you don't need to think about the functions of the lamps on the end of your DMX as much as with a traditional console - you just dial them up, and you're instantly offered pictures of what a lamp can do.”

Like all good lighting programmers, David did have a few ideas for the ever-evolving lighting board that he shared with Martin UK Stage and Studio Product Manager Simon Allan. In conclusion, however, he stated, “It speaks volumes for the desk that I was able to do this after only one day playing with it prior to the job.”

David Bushell lighting design
Lighting designer for Network East Late is David Bushell, whose past experience working with the director gives him the upper hand on the various looks he likes to see. David comments, “I guess the best way to describe the look is that it is very ‘physical’; we have everything on the move, everything angled and moving, very stylised. The director wanted the lighting to be underground and stark, but he also wanted to see the audience so it posed a bit of a problem trying to balance out keeping shafts of light, moody and dark, while at the same time being able to take cutaways of the audience at any moment.

“The approach I used was to go almost entirely with Martin fixtures apart from some standard key lights and a few kickers in tungsten. The audience themselves I actually did with MAC 500s. The reason I used the MAC 500 was because I have no budget to buy gobos and the MAC 500 comes with a suitable gobo – a mesh pattern gobo, which was useful so I illuminated the audience with mesh gobos where you tend to get partially lit faces. It looked quite good. I’m keen on seeing the lights, and I like the lighting to be just above head height, so the shots tend to be backed by a row of MAC 250s. I also like moving lights coming up from below, static with color changes with the ability to just move through the mist. On the comedy stage I had a bank of 250s along the line just above their heads at the back and 250s on the floor coming up. A mixture of 250s or MAC 600s, either a pattern or a color wash, lighted the set pieces. We also had MAC 300s placed underneath the comedy stage intended for color changes but in the end he didn’t use them.“

MAC 300
MAC 500
MAC 250
MAC 600
1k Pup
2k Fresnel
CCT Freedom 20-40

Lighting Designer: David Bushell
Moving Light Programmer/Operator: David Bishop
Production Manager: Guy Heselden
Head Electrician: Shaun Burnett
Electricians: Pete Ransom, Aarron Hossack & Jean Luc Neale