Full Sail University Upgrades Flagship Venue With Martin Professional Lighting Solutions for Events and Education

April 21, 2022

WINTER PARK, Fla.—To provide students and clients with the latest technology for creating stunning visuals, Full Sail University recently equipped its flagship venue, Full Sail Live, with Martin Professional LED lighting fixtures and creative video elements powered by Martin’s P3 control system.

One of the world’s leading universities for media and entertainment professionals, Full Sail University offers accredited degrees in the fields of music and recording, film and television, art and design, games, communications, sports broadcasting, emerging technologies and business. Full Sail’s sprawling campus includes a variety of classrooms, labs, studios and performance venues equipped with state-of-the-art technology, offering students the opportunity to learn on the same equipment and software they’ll encounter in their careers.

When it came time to upgrade the lighting rig at the university’s flagship venue for live events, Full Sail Live, staff had high standards for solutions that would benefit students and outside clients alike. Being longtime users of Martin lighting solutions, the university’s Event Operations department selected Martin MAC Ultra Performance, MAC Aura PXL and VDO Fatron 20 fixtures powered by a P3-300 system controller and P3 PowerPort 1500 power and data units.

“It's a ten-year-old facility, so we started to look at how we could offer our students and clients the latest technology,” said Vincent Lepore, Director of Event Technical Operations, Full Sail University. “The bottom line was to make sure that we're offering our students the best possible education on the most current equipment available, and that's what this system provides. First and foremost, we're a university, so education is our number one goal. We also do a lot of outside client events, so we want to make sure that not only are we offering the students the best technology, but also the outside clients.”

Another factor in the university’s choice of lighting equipment was the increased amount of live streamed events. Since lighting appears differently on camera than it does in person, Full Sail Live’s new rig had to look just as good to remote viewers as it did to live audiences.

“We've started to do a lot more live streams over the course of the past two years, and almost every event that we do now involves some sort of streaming aspect,” added Noah Rohrbaugh, Lighting Director, Full Sail University. “The lights needed to work for the in-person audience as well as what's being streamed, and that's a huge challenge because it has to look good to the human eye as well on video.”

For primary spot and profile lighting, as well as a variety of gobo effects, Full Sail acquired 13 Martin MAC Ultra Performance fixtures. Built to support the biggest live events, the new MAC Ultra Performance raises the bar for extremely bright moving lights with benchmark output across the zoom range, a next-generation framing system and extremely high-definition optics.

For wash lighting and unique pixel effects, the university ordered 34 Martin MAC Aura PXL fixtures, a multi-source wash light that combines a 19-segment main beam with a separate Aura backlight made up of 141 pixels. Individual pixel control for both sources makes it possible to combine traditional wash lighting with video content, presenting totally unique opportunities for creative lighting and visual design.

“The Ultra Performance is definitely the workhorse of this rig,” explained Rohrbaugh. “Its brightness and gobo features are able to create looks across the room that people can recognize. The Aura PXL is more of a wash fixture, but its integration with P3 and the ability to play video across it opens it up to something that we haven't seen in the past in any of our lighting fixtures—the ability to control it either from the lighting console or a media server. That was a huge plus for us when we were looking at fixtures.”

To extend video content off the venue’s main LED screen (made up of Martin VDO Face 5 HC panels) and  minimize shadows in the room for better video presentation, Lepore and Rohrbaugh supplemented the main fixtures with Martin VDO Fatron 20 LED video battens. Consisting of four rows of precisely calibrated LEDs with 16-bit per-color image processing, the VDO Fatron 20 allows for infinite creative video mapping possibilities. Nine field-exchangeable diffuser and lens options expand the unit’s capabilities, and a single integrated power and data connection streamlines setup. Lepore and Rohrbaugh deployed 80 Fatron fixtures on the walls and ceiling of the venue, keeping an additional 40 in reserve to expand the rig as needed.

Behind the scenes, staff and students leverage Martin’s innovative P3 control platform to seamlessly map video content across the LED screen and lighting fixtures. Two P3-300 system controllers power the main screen, while a third powers the entire lighting rig. Additionally, Full Sail keeps a fourth P3-300 unit in reserve for expanding the rig. Combining the intuitive P3 workflow with a high-performance video processing engine, each P3-300 unit can control up to 2,080,000 pixels and integrate with DMX, Art-Net and sACN protocols. P3 PowerPort 1500 units provide stable power delivery and high-speed, high-capacity video processing.

“When you look at the rig now, the way that video content and lighting are integrated with one another is very noticeable, even to the untrained eye of someone who doesn't know about media servers or lighting,” remarked Lepore. “The way that stuff is integrated is the killer feature to me.”

In addition to creating vibrant looks onstage, reliability was a major requirement for the new lighting rig. With classes nearly every day and many live and streamed events per semester, the university needed fixtures they could trust to perform reliably, day in and day out.

“Full Sail has a very extensive history of using Martin both on the event side and the education side—in fact, just last week we used some MAC 700s from the early 2000s and they're still going great,” said Rohrbaugh. “Martin has proven to us over the years that reliability is very important. A lot of these rooms are being used multiple times every day, either by students coming in for labs or by clients that we're bringing in, so it's important that these fixtures work every time we turn them on. That's something that Martin has proven to us from the MAC 600s all the way up to what we're using now.”

On March 10th, Full Sail University held its annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony at Full Sail Live, debuting the new lighting rig for students and alumni.

“That was the first time that we debuted the completed system with hundreds of guests in attendance, so there was a lot of ‘wow factor’ when they came into the room and saw it transformed from the way it had been in the past,” said Lepore. “It was a great system before, too, so to get such positive feedback out of people when the room already looked beautiful to begin with was really validating.”