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Clay Paky lights the Formula 1 Grand Prix Concerts
Lighting Designer
Steve Shipman
Production Technology LLC
Photo Credits
Paul Dexter
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Yasalam”, the Arabic word for “fantastic, amazing and astonishing” was a befitting name for the recent Formula 1 Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi, which included a heart-pounding race schedule followed by four nights of post-race concerts featuring Beyoncé, Aerosmith, Jamiroquai, and Kings of Leon. “Fantastic, amazing and astonishing” also describes the enormous lighting rig supporting these shows, filled with over 100 Clay Paky fixtures.

 The concerts, produced by Flash Entertainment, were held at Ferrari World on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi October 29 through November 1. The high-profile concerts were open only to ticket holders for the race weekend and all four shows packed a huge audience.

 The stage was tremendous – sustaining a design flexible enough for the exciting line up of artists and at the same time big enough to accommodate the massive crowd. The design was wide and open, ensuring a great view for everyone in the audience. With no roof and no front truss, the back wall carried the bulk of the lighting along with a giant high-resolution screen, then flanked on both sides with 45-metre-wide LED “wings” with additional effect lighting. Towers placed at the front corners of the stage contained front and side lights.

 44 Clay Paky Alpha Spot HPE 1200 and 42 Clay Paky Alpha Wash 1200 were the mainstay of the back wall, with 20 Alpha Beam 300 fixtures placed on the wings for additional effect. Control came from 3 grandMA full size consoles and 2 grandMA media servers. Production Technology LLC delivered the lighting, rigging and staging. TechnoPro supplied the LED wings.

 Luke Bonner of Production Technology LLC explains, “As I could observe working with Steve Shipman (Festival LD) on this event, the Clay Paky fixtures we used seemed to work without hesitation or trouble. In events such as this, the last thing you need are lights that do not work properly or keep constantly breaking down, thus requiring replacement. Of all Steve’s concerns, the Clay Paky fixtures did not seem to be one of them.

 “Apart from the evolution of technological and aesthetic advancements – and of course the quality of light output – to get to the latest Alpha Series, Clay Paky have maintained a very important feature critical especially to situations such as this: reliability.”

 Festival Lighting Designer Steve Shipman added, “I’ve done a lot of work with Alpha 1200 Spots and Washes over the last few years, they’re great workhorse fixtures. They were the main fixtures on the back wall for the F1 show. It was big! The top truss trimmed at just under 17 metres, the width was 37 metres. I needed lights with good output and good zoom range. The Alphas were perfect. They were also very reliable, we had 86 fixtures working for 8 days, about 8 hours a day. Total number of swap out’s: One! That’s a good average in my book!

 “I was also very impressed with the Alpha Beam 300s. My draft one design had truss-mounted searchlights on the wing trusses and I needed lights with a very bright and narrow beam to line the top of the wings. I was asked to make some compromises for budget reasons and the searchlights were replaced with Alpha Beam 300s. I wasn’t sure at first if a 300-watt fixture would cut it. The total width of the stage and wings was 93 metres, I thought a 300-watt light might get lost. My concerns were unfounded. They looked great. The Alpha Beam 300 is the punchiest 300-watt moving light I’ve ever seen. It’s a moving ACL on steroids!

Paul Dexter was very happy with the Clay Paky fixtures used for the Aerosmith show. “The Alphas add a layer and dimension unlike other profile and wash luminaires that reminds me more of an air graphic ACL beam through the haze, except with more punch and ability to add saturated colour and movement. I was very impressed with the intensity of the Alpha Beam 300s that lit the two long thrusts into the audience because it appeared as though, even with a long throw distance that the beam stayed intense from the source to the stage. They definitely held up to the size of the stage.”

The results were fabulous and the fixtures performed night after night with no problem. Everyone involved from show management to visiting LDs were extremely pleased with the results, including the thousands of fans fortunate enough to be there. Bonner summarized, “At Protec, nearly all of our fixtures are Clay Paky – the Alpha Spot HPE and Wash including 300, 575 and 1200 through to the older Stage Series including Scans, Zooms and Colours. We also own Alpha Beam 300 and 1500 and Clay Paky 400s. This shows our faith in the brand.”