Martin MAC Luminaires ‘Ace’ Poker Reality Show

August 28, 2009

Beat three poker pros at their own game and walk away with $1 million. That’s the premise behind “Face the Ace,” a new poker reality show airing this August on the NBC network.

Hosted by Steve Schirripa of “Sopranos” fame, contestants choose a professional poker player (the Ace) to match wits against from among four doors. Filmed at Cin City Studios in Las Vegas, “Face the Ace” uses a complement of Martin Professional lighting gear to dress the set in color and beam effects, including the new MAC 301 Wash™ luminaire.

Innovative Show Design (ISD) of Lake Mary, Florida handled all scenic and lighting design, production and installation for client Poker Production. Lighting design is by ISD’s Lighting Director/Associate Artistic Director Justin Garrone.

Sweet suite
The set design is based on a fashionable, contemporary hotel suite. “We were inspired by the look and feel you find at the Fantasy Suites at the Palms Resort and Casino in Las Vegas,” Garrone comments. “The lighting needed to complement the set. Both Poker Productions and NBC wanted this to look and feel like a real suite.”

Garrone, who has considerable experience in designing and lighting television poker sets such as “Poker Dome,” “Poker After Dark” and “High Stakes Poker,” knows well the subtleties associated with television lighting.

“None of the lighting fixtures could be seen,” he says. “All the lighting cues and looks needed to be subtle and calm without a lot of movement unless there was big action or a celebration. That is where we could make it look like a game show.”

MAC 301 Wash™
Garrone sought not only a compact LED moving head to fit into the set’s tight spaces but needed the fixture to be extremely bright with endless color choices. He turned to Martin’s new MAC 301 Wash, an LED moving head washlight with a powerfully fast zoom and 13 - 36° zoom range.

“The zoom feature was our savior,” Garrone commented. “Since we floor mounted the MAC 301 behind the Ace doors, there was little to no room for us to move them back to spread the light. In this position they washed the Ace doors with color. And since we couldn’t move them back to wash the entire door with color, we just zoomed them out and left the fixture in the ideal position to wash the door with color and blow out the camera for the Ace walk in.”

Garrone has one MAC 301 Wash floor mounted behind each of the four Ace doors. The fixture, which projects a bright beam from 108 high-power LEDs, is capable of producing a wide range of rich saturated shades to uniform pastels through the entire zoom range.

One of the MAC 301 Wash’s many useful features is a ‘camera mode’ designed to give flicker-free illumination in TV studios. “The camera mode was great,” Garrone says. “We just switched the fixture’s mode to camera and the refresh rate of the LEDs that we could see on camera was gone.”

Versatile 700s
Adding beam looks to the set are seventeen Martin MAC 700 Profiles™ hung on a half circle surrounding the poker table. “With these we were able to increase the level of excitement and/or anticipation,” Garrone explains.

“For example, when an “all in” is called we bring the lights down in the room and bring the attention to the table. While that cue is running, the 700s blast open white and then iris down giving us a tight beam that surrounds the table and the players. Or, if the contestant wins the million dollars, we have a big bally with the 700s to add to the celebration.”

One MAC 700 Profile is hung behind each of the Ace doors. “We use these to give each of the Plexiglas Ace doors a color wash, as well as a steep bright backlight for the entrance of the Ace into the game.” Garrone also uses Martin Stagebar 54™ LED luminaires to flood the Ace wall in color. Each round of the show is color specific; Round 1 ($40,000) in amber; Round 2 ($200,000) in blue; and the Final Round ($1,000,000) in green.

A single MAC 700 serves as a special to add texture and color to the show logo on the floor and another is floor mounted behind the contestant entrance door. “We use this as a low backlight for the contestant walk in as well as to blow out the camera for the contestant walk in.”

Tungsten warmth
Martin MAC TW1™ tungsten wash lights are used for backlighting the Ace, the contestant and the dealer at the table, as well as to backlight the audience with color. They are also used as a movable special which, Garrone says, “was particularly handy when the director has the talent stand in a place to do a rejoin where we have no conventional lighting so we can just call up a TW1 and move it to where we need conventional white light.”

Innovative Show Design – Scenic and Lighting Design Firm –
Show Partners – responsible for all operations and engineering –
Show Partners Crewing – responsible for all above the line and below the line crewing –
CYM Lighting Services – Lighting Vendor –

Innovative Show Design
Chris Runnells – Scenic Designer
Justin Garrone – Lighting Designer
Mark Dowling – Project Manager
Nate Mitchell – Graphic Designer

CYM Lighting Services
Kevin Swank – Lighting Manager
John Lotz – Lighting Programmer
Sandy Kittisit – Master Electrician
Chris Good – Master Electrician

Lighting Equipment:
4 x Martin MAC 301 Wash™
23 x Martin MAC 700 Profile™
8 x Martin MAC TW1™
8 x Martin StageBar 54L™