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Pepper Live 2011

Lighting designer Andy Mahaffey specified a Jands Vista T2 console, running the next generation Vista v2 software, to control nearly 100 moving lights plus a large generic rig for the 2011 Pepper Live event, a glittering week of show-stopping performances staged at the Centenary Theatre, Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, UK.

This high profile annual event, which is always sold out, raises money for the Pepper Foundation, a charity that funds the Pepper Children’s Nurses managed by the Iain Rennie Hospice at Home Service. They provide professional home care round-the-clock on a call-out basis for seriously ill children throughout the counties of Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire.

This year the theme was a ‘rock ‘n’ roll tribute’ show. The cast – which included two bands, dance troupes, singers and an assortment of backing and guest vocalists – stormed their way through a two hour extravaganza, embracing hits from classic Queen to Take That … and everything in between.

In his day job, Andy is a technical product manager for High Wycombe based A.C Entertainment Technologies (AC-ET LTD), the exclusive UK distributor for Jands, and so is very familiar with both the Jands range and particularly with the power and simplicity the new Vista v2 software offers.

However, with one of the leading UK film and TV lighting rental companies Panalux, providing the lighting equipment for the event, he could have used any console he wanted!

I didn’t even think twice about the console choice” explains Andy, who ran the T2 with a Vista S3 console running as a full tracking backup, “I needed something that was powerful, simple and fast to program, and completely reliable to run. Talking to people using Vista v2 every day, I had complete confidence that this was the right tool for the job and am only too happy to show that I practice what I preach.”

He had to program a detailed show in a short timescale of three overnight sessions. There were 32 different songs pulled from a diversity of rock and pop genres and eras, each of which needed its own individual lighting treatment and style.

He also had to use a console that he knew the show’s two operators – Martin Spence and Laura Whitley – would be able to learn quickly and feel comfortable about being left to use. Once again Vista v2 software was an ideal solution. “It’s easily possible to learn, and operate competently, in a day” he qualifies “meaning I could confidently leave the show in their hands for the run.”

With over 1000 cues in the T2 by the time the show programming was complete – including an impressive 200 alone for the finale of Meat Loaf’s classic Bat Out of Hell – it was essential to be able to programme fast and accurately!

This is one of the beauties of Vista v2, I had the power to control the detail that I – or the rest of the creative team – wanted, with the ease to record it quickly and accurately.” enthuses Andy.

Overall, he finds the v2 programming process “So logical and obvious&rduo; that while the desk deals with the maths, his mind is free to concentrate on the actual creative aspects of building a dramatic and entertaining lightshow.

The moving head count included 22 Martin Professional MAC 2K Washes, 26 MAC 600 Spots, 16 MAC 250 Kryptons, 16 VARI*LITE 3000 Spots and eight High End Cyberlights – the latter a favourite for some vintage rock ‘n’ roll effects! MAC 600s were positioned on the back wall creating for a massive, retina-challenging ‘Queenesque’ effect.

In addition to these fixtures, there were about 70 channels of dimming, some scrollers , 20 Active Sunstrips and 10 Atomic 3000 strobes.

Pepper Live 2011 was directed by Jackie Chambers, the set was designed by Dan Andrews and the show choreographed by Danielle Machin.

It was another massive success as a fundraiser and in entertainment value for the audiences, as well as another real world example of Vista helping a user to deliver a great looking show in a short timeframe.

Jands Europe‘s Neil Vann said “Vista v2‘s combination of power and simplicity really does give users of all levels the ability to get the most from whatever technology they have on stage, and let everyone concentrate on creating a great looking show rather than on programming a desk. Before choosing to use anything else, take a look at just how far Vista has come, and how much you could be missing out on.”

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