grandMA3 powers Luke Bryan’s Raised Up Right Tour visuals

Luke Bryan continues his Raised Up Right tour into the fall with an MA Lighting grandMA3 console controlling lighting and video for the show. Photo: Doug Cenko

Bryan’s tour kicked off last June in Charleston, West Virginia and will conclude at the end of October in Jacksonville, Florida. Raised Up Right is in support of his brand new album, Born Here, Live Here, Die Here.

Elite Multimedia in Nashville, the lighting, video and LED systems vendor for the tour, supplied a large complement of grandMA3 gear to Justin Kitchenman of Nashville-based Align Design Group who serves as Lighting and Production Designer for the tour and Lighting Director for the shows. Elite furnished two grandMA3 full-size consoles, a grandMA3 light, three grandMA3 processing unit XLs, four grandMA3 8Port nodes and a grandMA3 onPC command wing XT to Kitchenman and his team.

“We ordered our grandMA3 equipment last year, and now it’s out and in the mix. For the industry as a whole, grandMA is the most widely-supported console in the US – tried and true and reliable,” said Jason Jenkins, Director of Operations at Elite Multimedia. “We’ve worked with Luke since his first tour and with Justin for a long time. They’re the first to use our grandMA3 software making a successful transition to the new system and its updates.”

Justin Kitchenman, who has been Luke Bryan’s Lighting Designer for ten years, has an even longer history with grandMA consoles. “I was eager to make the switch to grandMA3 and felt this year was the right time to do it,” he said. “We did Luke’s full tour in 2021 on grandMA2 and some Mexico shows early this year on grandMA2. My straw poll of friends and users assured me that grandMA3 networking was stable, so with ACT’s support I jumped into it.”

Kitchenman’s chief challenge designing for Bryan was to create a set and lighting rig that could be adapted to the variety of venues – arenas and amphitheatres of all sizes – where the tour is booked. “I’m interested in creating interesting depth and elevation and really cool lighting positions, something that fans will notice is different from the last time they saw Luke’s show,” he explained.

For the Raised Up Right tour Kitchenman designed a multi-tiered set that blends into a curved downstage LED video wall with another straight LED video wall upstage. Batten trusses with lightweight fixtures, downstage pods of chandelier-hung battens and more battens positioned upstage virtually surround the set with light “utilising what is typically dead space,” Kitchenman pointed out.

He has an active and backup full-size grandMA3 console, running MA3 1.8 software, on hand for shows and a grandMA3 light at dimmers; the latter is also the console that Kitchenman takes home for offline use. A second grandMA3 light was utilised for programming the show; it has been replaced by the grandMA3 onPC command wing XT which Media Designer and Programmer Chris Lighthall uses to run the video through Hippo media servers.

“grandMA3 networking, the backbone of the system, is MA reliable with fast upload times,” noted Kitchenman. “While the effects engine Phaser is simpler than before in some ways, it also requires more button pushes, but the net result is that it delivers way more detail for specific effects. With previous versions of the software I always felt I was circling around the effects I wanted and settled when I was close enough. Now, I can create some really detailed effects, store and recall them, and use the Recipes function to easily update them.”

He also likes the ergonomics of the new grandMA3 hardware. “The layout of the console is beautiful and more comfortable to use,” he reported. “It’s a win for people working 12 hours a day for a month on it! I really like the 3D Selection Grid, which I leaned on more and more as I got into programming, and the touchscreens are nice and feel more accurate, especially in Layout Views.”

Kitchenman also loves “the feel of the buttons” and enjoys Appearances, which are sets of looks that can be assigned to pool objects, presets, view buttons or windows. “I can colour code in blue and save a group view of just my spots, then do the same in red for my washes,” he noted.

The grandMA3 software is performing well on the tour, and Kitchenman sees improvements with every software update. “Networking is the most important thing, and that’s spot on, rock solid no matter how many modes I’m running,” he reported. “Everything is synched with no lag.

“As I use grandMA3 day after day and begin to wrap my head around all aspects of the console, I like where it’s going. The more people start to use it, the faster it will develop,” he said.

“ACT Entertainment has been awesome in my switch to grandMA3 – so helpful and comforting,” Kitchenman said. “Whenever I call the 800 number for advice either someone picks up right away or someone calls me back a few minutes later. They take you seriously at all hours of the day or night.”

Jason Jenkins at Elite Multimedia concurred. “I’ve worked with ACT for many years and love dealing with them,” he said. “They’re very attentive to all logistical issues and deliver the support I need very quickly.”