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The Gypsy Kings

The renowned Gypsy Kings – credited with helping to bring the distinct sound and style of Rumba Catalana pop music to worldwide audiences – have just finished their latest US tour, with lighting designer Michael Sharon using his own Jands Vista I3 console for control.

Michael, based on the U.S. West Coast, is an independent lighting designer with a wide variety of clients. In addition to four years of designing for the Gypsy Kings, he has also designed a wide range of corporate shows for many different clients.

He first used a Jands Vista, on this occasion a T2, when he originally started working for the Gypsy Kings. This was provided by the lighting contractor at the time, PSI Production Services in Denver. He completely “fell in love” with the console and decided to purchase his own Vista I3 from Jands US distributor A.C. Lighting Inc. so that he never had to go back to using another type of console. He has not looked back since!

To cope with the everyday demands of touring, Vista‘s powerful generic fixture model provides quick, straightforward and accurate fixture swapping to adapt Michael‘s show to fit whatever type of lights he is faced with. This proves a perfect solution when the tour picks up local production, as opposed to using their own lighting rig, and ensures that he always has his show running on his console of choice.

The last Gypsy Kings tour lasted nearly four weeks, and they generally do about three 4-week US tours a year. Originating from France with a Spanish Romani heritage, they sing in a unique Spanish/French ‘Calo’ argot and are hugely popular among world music fans. The venues on the last tour were a mix of sheds and theatres, with capacities of around 3,000.

A typical local lighting rig, on which Michael would run his show from his Vista I3, would contain around 120 PARs and between 10 and 25 moving lights of different types. This would often be supplemented by a “specials package”. At the iconic Radio City in New York, he used Chroma-Q™ Color Force™ 72 RGBA LED battens to highlight some soft goods hired in for the show, and again at the Filene Centre in Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, Washington DC, to up-light custom scenic columns.

I love the way a single fixture can illuminate a 30 foot high surface, with a great color range and still have plenty of punch…” he comments on the Chroma-Q Color Force fixtures, a brand also distributed by A.C Lighting Inc. “..and the Vista really lets me get the most from them.

As well as offering him a fantastic console for touring, he comments that for corporate events and other shows where time is short, the Vista‘s next generation timeline is “Fantastic”, which he expands saying, “When working on complex timelines, I can use the timeline, to easily see and make precise adjustments to individual parameters.

While great for tightly cued shows, Michael also finds the console ultimately buskable with the ability to configure the interface to the user‘s exact requirements. He loves being able to have instant access to everything. “For busking, I have more options than just calling up presets on the fly. Using Extracts, I can trigger complex movements, effects, and routines which make for a visually richer show.

Coming from a theatre background, he comments that the visuality of the Vista interface is amazing for making the most of his time “You can see graphic representations of elements like gobos in the different lights rather than just looking at a load of numbers – it’s so much easier to work offline.

Michael is hugely impressed with the backup and service he receives from Jands US distributor, A.C. Lighting Inc. He concludes, “Overall, AC Lighting’s technical support is absolutely brilliant.

Michael‘s Vista is already lined up for the 2011 Oracle OpenWorld conference at the Moscone Convention Centre in San Francisco, highlighting the Oracle Racing team – winners of the 2010 America’s Cup World Series Regatta in Valencia, Spain. He will be making the most of the Vista‘s flexibility by using a laptop running the Vista software to control a trade show booth in one part of the convention, while his I3 will be running the lighting rig for a press conference and presentation area in another.

The next generation Vista v2 software was designed from the ground up to allow all levels of user get the most from whatever mix of technology they have available, whether dimmers, moving lights, LED, or media. Available in a wide range of hardware Vista v2 offers both the simplicity to work fast, with the power to control the finest details, so everyone can focus on creating a great looking show rather than on programming a desk.

Fred Mikeska, VP of sales and marketing at AC Lighting Inc comments “Michael is just one example of a designer who took a look at the Jands Vista, and has never looked back. The Vista, and the next generation Vista v2 software, really does offer the perfect balance between the power to control your show accurately, with the simplicity to work fast. If you haven‘t seen Vista v2 yet, you really should take a look and see what you are missing out on……

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