grandMA3 controls Kaija Koo’s visuals at Helsinki’s Olympic Stadium

Kaija Koo's creative team opt for an MA Lighting grandMA3 system for lighting and video control. Photo: Miikka Varila

Finnish singer Kaija Koo celebrates an impressive 40-year career as one of the country’s most popular artists, and anniversary activities have included staging a massive show at Helsinki’s Olympic Stadium. The high-profile one-off event featured an elegant and eye-catching production design evolved by the combined talents of Ari Levelä (set and video) and Pekka Martti (lighting), who chose to use an MA Lighting grandMA3 system for lighting and video control.

The two have worked together as a visual team since 2016 and enjoy the creative benefits of pooling ideas and experiences to produce unique shows and spectaculars. This show followed an arena tour they completed at the end of 2022 featuring four powerhouse Finnish female singers, one being Kaija Koo.

Her management team was clearly impressed with their work and invited Levelä and Martti to present a design for this special show. They received a brief, and the goal was to produce a maximum visual impact design that was also practical enough to implement, build and break down for a one-off concert.

The video-fronted double decked stage risers, set elements and striking curved, leaf-shaped LED screens surrounding the stage defined the look. This architecture came first and as it was shaped up, Martti started work on the lighting design and placement of trussing and fixtures.

He was also thinking that this would be an ideal moment to make the switch to all grandMA3. “I had full confidence in the system,” he stated, a fact evidently backed up by choosing to do it at such a prestigious event. Three grandMA3 light consoles were utilised in total.

Two were running lighting – operated by Martti and Joonas Liesimaa. The latter took care of the followspots which were on a remote system with some parameters controlled via the console, plus key lighting for the band and dancers, while Martti operated all the other lights on his grandMA3 light.

Video Operator, Saku Väänänen utilised the third grandMA3 light to run all the playback video content – created by MOBB Helsinki – with both playback and IMAG running via disguise servers. All three consoles were paired with hot backups.

Around 500 lighting fixtures and 40 DMX universes were in play. “grandMA3 was the most efficient, flexible and logical way to run this many lights,” stated Martti.

He has been a grandMA user and advocate since 2004 and loves the platform, and now he is working consistently with grandMA3, which he likes “more and more every day.”

Two weeks of pre-viz working in Depence R3 were allocated ahead of the show, during which time Martti also studied a couple of grandMA3 online tutorials and digested some YouTube videos posted by other grandMA3 users. A video from the band rehearsals was used as a programming reference, and Martti knuckled down and fully focused on delivering his first show on the new platform.

He and the show creative team then had a single night on site at the stadium finalising and finessing the programming, so there was quite some pressure to realise everyone’s expectations and embrace the consequent arising ‘creative challenges’, something that Levelä and Martti both relished!

Martti rates Recipes, Phasers and the Selection Grid as “excellent grandMA3 tools,” while admitting that his mind and approach have also kept shifting every day the more he is utilising the console and discovering its complexities. He thinks Datapools is a great feature.

In this case, two users working in a single session could store info into separate sequences and still work autonomously. Each Datapool or “area” where their individual sequences / presets / timecode objects etc. were recorded was self-contained and invisible, but accessible to the other user(s). Martti also appreciated the Selection Grid, and how working this in conjunction with Phasers, everything becomes seriously quicker and more efficient.

He loves working with Phasers, finding them ultimately helpful for creating seamless effects like repeat fly-outs and transitions utilising the same fixtures. “It is super nice to be able to programme linearly – in a line – which makes the programming process so much simpler and more logical,” he noted.

Having taken the plunge and made the switch at such a large-scale show, he states unequivocally, “I see grandMA3 as the only way forward.”

While time was a challenge for installing such an ambitious production, Levelä commented on the excellent crew, synergy and teamwork that ensured interdepartmental collaboration and everything running smoothly.

The show was a massive success as Kaija Koo delighted her diverse fanbase with an incendiary performance and a memorable production.

Levelä and Martti will be working together again on UMK 2024, Finland’s Eurovision selection event – which is upping its ante considerably for next year, where they will be using grandMA3.

Lighting, video and audio equipment for Kaija Koo’s Helsinki Stadium show was supplied by Creative Technology Finland, the stage came from MEGAFORCE in Germany and the show was produced by Warner Music Finland.