ACT Lighting Brings Sexy Back

Photo Ralph Larman

Justin Timberlake launched his Man of the Woods tour with Claypaky Scenius Unico fixtures, MA Lighting grandMA2 consoles and MDG theONE atmospheric generators supporting the show as it travels the world; with ACT Lighting tasked with exclusive distribution of the 3 brands in North America.

The show presented Timberlake’s music in several worlds, which are themed around the origins of the songs. The massive, in-the-round set is composed of multiple stages spanning the arena space.

“It’s a very choreographed show because we didn’t want to block any seats. A lot of work went into making sure that everything can be seen everywhere,” said Nick Whitehouse, Creative Producer and Lighting Designer for the tour and founder at Fireplay. “Even when the transparent roll-drop screens come down for video projections the audience can see through them for a really cool effect.”

Whitehouse chose 70 Claypaky Scenius Unicos for the main rig. “This is my first time using Unico. I was looking for a spot and beam fixture and have had very good experience with Claypaky products before,” he said. “A lot of vendors are buying Unicos and recommending them, so I decided to give them a try.”

Lighting Director Brian Vaughan reported: “The Unicos have been our workhorses. We use every feature they have. They’re a great wash; a great spot with interesting gobo patterns; they key the band, the dancers and Justin; and they can go down to a Sharpy-type beam. We even use the shutters to shutter off the edges of the stage for a super-clean look.”

A total of 68 Claypaky Scenius Unicos are positioned in the air while two are positioned on the floor directly behind the stage for entrances and exits.; with 36 of the fixtures dedicated to what Whitehouse described as “an Instagram moment.”

To open the show a 30×30-foot logo panel surrounded by 36 Claypaky Scenius Unicos descends from the ceiling, tilts and assumes a number of different looks. “It’s like a massive UFO coming down,” Whitehouse said. “I’m really pleased with the Unicos. We get some incredible effects from them.”

Controlling the lighting, Whitehouse and Vaughan have 2 full-size MA Lighting grandMA2s at FOH and a grandMA light at the tech desk. “Using grandMA2 is second nature to me now,” noted Whitehouse. “It’s really fast to program and with almost 600 lights on the show, we used a lot of the system’s features.”

Vaughan tapped the layout feature to create 16 different layout views for the stage. “Every part of the stage has a layout view and there are a few for the entire stage, so I can pick out lights all over the stage very easily,” he said. “I also used the new bitmapping feature in conjunction with the layout views.”

The ability to write custom plug-ins for the MA Lighting grandMA2 has been key to this show as well. “Alex Barrette at Fireplay wrote a cool custom plug-in to work with the Art-Net merge process so I can enable the tracking on Justin to assign lights to follow him on stage,” Vaughan explained.

Four MDG theONE foggers/hazers are positioned in the arena, 1 in each corner. “I spec them for every show,” said Whitehouse. “We like haze.”

“They’re the best I’ve ever used,” said Vaughan. “We use the fog feature to fill the arena quickly – in just six or seven minutes – before the crowd arrives then kick back to a 10 percent haze mode for steady atmosphere throughout the show.”

Montreal-based Solotech provided the Scenius Unicos, MA Lighting grandMA2 consoles and MDG atmospheric generators for the Man of the Woods tour.