Vista S3 & Color Blocks Boost Mobile Major League Gaming

Lighting Designer Nick Wisdom specified a Jands Vista S3 console and 32 Chroma-Q® Color Blocks as part of his lighting rig for the Boost Mobile Major League Gaming Pro Circuit Tour 2006.

Major League Gaming (MLG) is the largest organized league for professional video gaming, the world’s fastest growing competitive sport. The debut tour visited 7 U.S. cities and saw around 200 teams of 4 per city competing in the Xbox “Halo 2” tournament for large cash prizes and a place in the final in Las Vegas.

Production for the live event was by LubieRocks Inc, with management and scenic design by David Elliott, lighting design/programming by Nick Wisdom, graphics/video by Don Fisher and audio by Paul Tucci.

The tour was also filmed for a 7 part US cable TV series which included live game play, interviews and gaming tips.

The ‘Mainstage Arena’, which was reserved for the city finals and other key matches along the way, consisted of a custom set that housed 8 gaming stations for 2 competing teams and an audience bleacher seating area under the main truss rig. In-game footage was also shown on 3 large projection screens.

Lighting the arena presented some interesting challenges for the production team, who had to strike the right balance between creating an exciting event for the different live and TV audiences, whilst at the same time avoid distracting competing gamers with the haze and bright lights.

Fortunately the production team rose to the challenge, using the decision to rent the lighting rig in each city as an opportunity to experiment with the lighting scheme’s fixtures, angles and set-ups to constantly work on ways to make the show more interesting for both audiences at the same time.

In addition to the hire rigs’ various moving lights and conventional fixtures, the production team purchased Chroma-Q® Color Block DB4 LEDs and used Nick’s own Jands Vista S3 lighting control console as core equipment for the tour after being convinced that both products were vital to the set’s lighting scheme.

The Color Blocks were chosen for their size and flexibility and were originally just meant to add some color and interest to the set, but ended up being integral to the filming when the TV show producers discussed using them to denote teams’ colors.

Color Blocks uplit the gaming stations and truss pillars on each side of the stage in blue and red team colors, making a very quick frame of reference for TV viewers. Various effects were employed, including running an intensity chase across the truss in the color of the winning team at the end of each match.

Color Blocks were also used to tone the main overhead truss rig supporting the various moving and conventional fixtures during downtime, to ensure the arena was highly visible while the tournament ran.

Nick commented: “The Color Blocks really jazzed up the set and added another layer of fun to the show. Having them in the set meant the truss was always changing colors and added a really nice look to the room. They were a big part of the ‘wow factor’ we got when gamers saw the arena for the first time.

When Nick first saw the Jands Vista it quickly became evident to him that this was a desk that thought the same way he did, so he arranged a day’s training with Vista North American distributor A.C. Lighting.

Despite his rule of never bringing equipment into a show that he’d only spent a couple of days on, Nick decided to take a gamble and rented a Vista out of his own pocket for the first Orlando MLG show so he could show the production team what a new console could add to the event.

He commented: “Normally I would want a lot more playtime on a desk before I’ll throw it into the mix. However, after playing with the offline editor of the console for a few weeks and receiving the fantastic training from A.C. I felt very confident I would be fine with it. The show in Orlando went great and the Vista really opened up a lot of options for me, especially with the LEDs, so we were convinced it was the way to go.

Nick was particulary impressed by the console’s FX engine and speed of programming. He also found it to be a great busking desk for corporate live events such as MLG, as he could quickly programme a series of looks and then run shows on the fly.

Another feature of the desk which proved to be a real benefit was the Vista’s VNC capability. Nick commented: “Being able to park the console at FOH and have a full reproduction of all the console’s features on my tablet PC is fantastic. It makes for the best setup / focus remote I’ve ever used, but more than that it is a fantastic way to update cues in large venues. FOH was also at stage right for this tour so it was much nicer to sit in the audience front and center and update position presets etc.

Nick’s also enjoyed interacting with other Vista users and the Jands technical support team on the dedicated Vista website. He commented: “It’s been great to see suggestions become features in the next software release, and to work with a manufacturer that really listens to its users.

After the Orlando show, Nick purchased his own Vista S3 so he could use it for the rest of the MLG tour and all future projects he works on.

Summarising his overall experience with the desk he commented: “I love the way Vista thinks. I’ve always been a visual person – lines of code and text just don’t make sense to me. Put it in a stellar graphical interface like in the Vista, and it’s very easy to work with. I don’t waste time trying to wrap my head around complex looks, they just happen naturally with the Vista. The Vista programs at a rate that gives me that free time to experiment with. I definitely enjoy my time with the Vista a great deal more than I have with other consoles where you spend most of your day head scratching.

Having had a great first year with the tour, the MLG production team is already looking forward to working on an even bigger and better show in 2007.