XVIII Commonwealth Games, Melbourne, Australia

XVIII Commonwealth Games, Melbourne, Australia

April 07, 2006

A truly milestone happening comes along only every few years. For Martin Professional, Martin’s Australian representative Show Technology, and Show Technology’s partners, the 2006 Commonwealth Games was such a landmark event.

The largest number of Martin MAC 2000 fixtures ever used on a single event graced the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the XVIII Commonwealth Games. Distributed through Show Technology, some 806 MAC 2000 series fixtures (868 MAC fixtures in total – also a single event record) were supplied for the quadrennial spectacular by local partners Bytecraft and Chameleon. Fixtures were also brought in from PROCON of Germany.

“We are very excited to be associated with such a high profile event and to work with such talented people,” stated Emmanuel Ziino, Managing Director at Show Technology. “Show Technology's vision statement is ‘Lighting Solutions with Imagination’ and it was a thrill to have had the opportunity to prove it.”

Experienced Team
The Commonwealth production team boasted a wealth of industry experts, many with experience from the Athens and Sydney Olympics and Rugby World Cup. Lighting design was by Mark Hammer with Paul Collison as Associate Lighting Designer and Programmer. Others included Rohan Thornton, Lighting Designer (Broadcast); Philip Lethlean, Lighting Designer (Yarra River); Nick Eltis, Technical Director; and Philby Lewis, Production Manager; among others. The Opening and Closing Ceremonies were produced by Jack Morton Worldwide with executive production and creative direction by Andrew Walsh.

868 MACs and More
“Having to put together a lighting spec we wanted to come up with fixtures that would cut in a large arena,” associate LD Paul Collison states while explaining fixture choices. “At times we’re trying to project at 100-140 meters so choosing those kinds of fixtures it was pretty obvious where we had to head. The MAC 2000 Wash did such a sterling job on the Athens Olympic Opening and we had used it previously on the Rugby World Cup in 2003, so we went in knowing exactly what we were getting. It then turned into more of a question of what kind of numbers we could get a hold of in this country.”

Those numbers turned out to be 314 MAC 2000 Profiles, 352 MAC 2000 Washes and 100 MAC 2000 Performances used in the stadium with an additional 46 MAC 500 profile spots, 40 MAC 2000 Profiles and 16 MAC 600 washlights located just outside the stadium at the Yarra River. Other Martin effects included 12 Atomic 3000 strobes and 6 Cyclo 03 fluorescent luminaires. Atmospheric effects were from 7 Jem ZR33 Hi-Mass foggers and 4 Jem Glaciator X-Streams. Essentially the same rig was used for both the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.

“Having so many of the same fixtures from the same manufacturer and series was very beneficial,” comments Technical Director for the Games, Nick Eltis. “We went to Denmark for a few days and went through the set up and brainstormed any problems that might occur, but we never had to deal with any. The support of the manufacturer combined with knowing that the fixtures were reliable was great.”

Lighting Design
On March 15th some 81,000 spectators gathered at the MCG for the Opening Ceremony with millions more watching across the globe. The two hour spectacular featured a parade of 4,500 athletes from 71 countries with a theme focused on Australia's cultural heritage.

LD Mark Hammer’s lighting brief came from producers Jack Morten with vision input from Creative Director Andrew Walsh and other ideas contributed from various segment directors. Lighting needs were twofold: to address the big picture - with a focus on TV lighting - while not losing sight of the details. “Everything comes and goes from what they call the ‘million dollar shot,’” Mark explains, “that TV shot that works on an aerial where you can see the whole stadium, a media look that encompasses the audience, the main feature, pyro, etc. For some of the sequences we would start with the main look, or work into it and then out of it again.

“Having said that though, the detail shots were also very important and looked very good. A tricky thing to work out for example is taking a white stage and lighting that and giving definition to people standing on it. You want the people to stand out, not be a flat look. We have a base look and pull the people out from the wash by using different angles, a lower angle or from the side, yet being careful to keep intensity levels right.

“I used appropriate colors and lighting for the different segments and areas, whether it was a nighttime look, daytime look, indigenous segment or whatever. We didn’t want each segment to look exactly the same so we used different treatments. Sometimes we didn’t use background lighting for example, just a black background, to have elements stand out - but at other times we used background lighting to give it some depth.”

Lighting Positions
Suspended 37 meters above a main stage in the middle of the stadium was a 20 meter diameter truss circle supported by six lighting towers around the outside of the venue. This meant power runs of about 250 meters to fixtures! Suspended from the circle were 36 MAC 2000 Profiles equipped with Woodroffe gobos, 36 MAC 2000 Washes and 12 Atomic 3000 strobes to help out with lightning and strobe effects. The 72 MAC fixtures were outfitted with Martin RainMAC protectors. “We had a lighting position above the stage which was great,” Paul Collison explains. “It allowed us to push back in the face of the audience or get some tight shots right down on the stage.”

From the roof were 29 lighting trusses each with 6 MAC 2000 Washes, 2 MAC 2000 Profiles and other automateds. “These fixtures lit the audience and were at an angle to effectively cover the center of the stage for any tight pickups that the overhead truss didn’t quite cover,” Paul says.

Spread evenly across a top tier balcony rail were 120 MAC 2000 Washes (installed with 30 mm aperture rings), 100 MAC 2000 Performances and 40 MAC 2000 Profiles with additional fixtures ganged up behind the Queen’s stage and another orchestra stage. “It’s a hard working area,” Paul says. “At no point are those fixtures not lighting something. From this position we can light the roof, the audience in the lower bowl and the stage area. This position is basically fill lighting, and projection from the Performances work well from that point.”

Mark explains further, “The animation effects from the Performances were a big feature, for example in a big storm sequence where we had them pointing into the audience doing a background to the PIGI imagery. Even in a large situation we could shutter off onto certain areas of the stage, which was really very helpful. The Woodroffe gobos in the Profiles did a lot of quiet background breakups on the stage and a lot of the top light on the top stage area. They give you a lot of options and are very versatile. It helped with some of the breakup ideas and some of the concepts.”

MAC 2000 Wash
MAC 2000 Washes were used all over the stadium. Mark comments, “Because it’s in the round I was looking for something that could cover the field – it’s a very large venue and bigger than at Athens. We needed something we could use in a layer situation, different layers of color and different levels of light to get the coverage. We also had to keep in mind the TV audience side of it – not only lighting that main stage. We had protocol as well, so we not only had fun with the artistic side but we had to keep in mind the cleaner, sharper protocol that happened at various other areas.

“I used different apertures for the 2K Washes. In the balconies I used the 30 mm aperture ring because of their angle. I used them in the booster mode, the super tight mode. They just cleaned the beam up at a throw of 40-60 meters and they really defined some of the shots. Even the ones up high we had with the PC lens, but the standard rings work just as well; they did a lot of the big coverage area and on the audience.”

In addition, approximately 150 MAC 2000 Washes were used to supplement the stadium lighting throughout the 12 day event.

Field and Stage
Paul describes the stage as an ‘upside down saucer,’ 100 meters across at its base with a flat top approximately 33 meters wide. Each side is therefore raked 33 meters down to the field. On the field of play around the stage were 180 MAC 2000 Profiles in 45 custom boxes, each housing 4 fixtures with standard gobos and a custom slot gobo that helped to light the stage. “Part of the reason for those Profiles was because we had PIGI projectors providing images on the stage and we needed a position where we could light performers or set pieces on the stage that didn’t blow out the PIGI image,” Paul states. “A slot gobo around that periphery wall gave us the ability to do that.”

Inside the stage was an additional 22 MAC 2000 Washes. “They lit up different entrance and exit points,” Paul explains. “There was a central hydraulic lift in the middle of the stage and a dozen 2K Washes filled that area.” Jem ZR33 Hi-Mass foggers and Jem Glaciator X-Stream heavy foggers were used to fill the hydraulic lift with atmospheric fog. In addition, hung vertically in a 360 pattern to a central stick, were 6 Martin Cyclo 03 fluorescents used to illuminate an 8 meter blow up sphere that emerged from the stage.
“We have a huge cross section of Martin lights – you’ve got some awesome luminaries out there,” Mark says. “It’s a good system that’s worked really well. The MAC Washes are just fantastic and I really love the Performances.”

The Noodle
Running from the stadium seating area to the stage, and used for protocol and artistic impression, was a 10 meter wide by 6 meter high bridge – known as ‘The Noodle’ – which lowered to deliver the athletes directly to the center of the stadium. “To add to all the clean lines we had The Noodle, which we not only gave a different feel to for the different segments but treated differently for the TV and live situation,” Mark explains. “Sometimes we had to make it disappear and sometimes we’d highlight it.” The Noodle was illuminated with LED fixtures while LED hearts created a path that athletes followed from one end of the stadium to the other.

Yarra River
In order to expand the breadth of the festivities and include a greater part of Melbourne in the Ceremony, focus jumped between the stadium and the adjacent Yarra River where 1.2 km of water was lined with pontoons used for the Queen’s Baton lead into the stadium. Forming a continuous running track, each side of the pontoons was adorned with a model fish and illuminated flags of the participating nations. Lighting design for this part of the festivities was by Philip Lethlean.

“The river was quite a saga with a flood 10 days before the Opening which dragged 10 of the fish pontoons off their moorings,” Philip explains. “We also had an out of control ferry side swipe 6 more pontoons and sink some lights and 17 kilometers of power and data cable, which all needed replacing.

“As well as the 72 fish, there were 36 sail boats with droppable wire mesh masts and 18 surf boats that were all lit. The lights on the pontoons were MAC 500 profiles, MAC 600 washlights, and other automateds. Along one bank were 36 MAC 2000 Profiles with moving mirror fixtures on the other.” The 398 moving lights on the pontoons and banks worked together with fountains and fireworks.

“It was great working with the water fountains through the desk as I was able to get some mock fire works effects, as well as water screen effects, floating in the air above the fish,” Philip comments. “Some nice effects were created by pointing the specially commissioned aboriginal designed gobos into the fountain above the fish with a slight focus chase so that the image appeared and disappeared with the lyrics.”

Support and Success
Show Technology’s Emmanuel Ziino was pleased with the successful event. “Show Technology positioned itself throughout the event as a support organization and ensured that whatever level of local support we could possibly provide was provided. I'm lucky to have such a great team. Our technical director, Vince Haddad, poured his heart and soul into this project early on and his hard work paid off. The effort expended by the technical team, internal and external, was tremendous and they should be very proud.

“The products we represent are world class. At every stage, our manufacturers from around the globe were magnificent in their support and our partners in the supply chain were helpful in making things happen and for that I say thanks.”

Technical Director Nick Eltis concludes, “The fixtures performed beautifully, just superb. The next time I need lights for a project the top of my list will be the MACs! But having said that, the biggest thing was the support – it was just great and we couldn’t have asked for more. The support from Show Technology and having Martin people there – Claus Jensen, Mark Ravenhill and Søren Storm– was just priceless.”

Melbourne Cricket Ground

314 x MAC 2000 Profile (36 with Woodroffe Gobos)
352 x MAC 2000 Wash
100 x MAC 2000 Performance
6 x Cyclo 03
12 x Atomic 3000
6 x Jem ZR33 Hi-Mass
4 x Jem Glaciator X-Stream
Producers: Jack Morton Worldwide
Executive Producer: Andrew Walsh
Lighting Designer: Mark Hammer
Assoc. Lighting Designer / Programmer: Paul Collison
Assoc. Lighting Designer (Broadcast): Rohan Thornton
Programmer: Jason Fripp
Programmer: Megan McGhan
Technical Director: Nick Eltis
Production Manager: Philby Lewis
Project Manager (Bytecraft): Paul Rigby
Project Manager (Chameleon): Brad Gander

Yarra River

46 x MAC 500
40 x MAC 2000 Profile
16 x MAC 600
Lighting Designer: Phil Lethlean
Head Lighting Programmer and Operator: Andy Edis
Lighting and Water Programmer: Scott Snowden
Lighting Programmer: Peter Wilhelms
Technical Director, River: Shannon Gobell
Production Manager, River Lx, Power, Pyro: Richard Dinnen
Production Manager, Water Effects: Kerry Saxby