Canadian Lighting Designer, Pierre Roy, has toured extensively over a 30-year career as well as handled lighting duties for a number of artists in his own hometown of Quebec. For this year’s Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, he lit a special Facebook Live concert by one of the top rock artists in Quebec, Martin Deschamps, using an Elation rig directed by an Obsidian Control Systems NX4 console, a lighting control platform Roy has worked with for much of his career.
Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day is one of the most important holidays in Quebec and across French Canada, a day to proudly display the region’s fleur-de-lys flag and celebrate its Francophone identity with parades and outdoor concerts. With a storm in the forecast however, the Martin Deschamps show was moved indoors, on very short notice, to the Rolland-Brunelle Cultural Center in Joliette, Quebec. Although the 24-hour notification meant a bit of unexpected work for Roy, he was undeterred as he knows Deschamps well, having done three albums with him and is scheduled to light his upcoming tour.
Roy not only knows the music well, he knew he’d be able to quickly transfer his design to accommodate the new venue’s lighting rig. “I had a previous Saint-Jean Baptiste show already programmed and although I didn’t have the same lighting gear in the new venue it was easy for me to update the show and all my cues,” Roy said. “There is a feature in the NX4 called cloning and swapping that allowed me to choose the fixtures on my regular show and replace them with the new fixtures. It’s really quick and all my cues are still there as before. Instead of building a show with 400 cues over several hours, it took me a few minutes to change everything over. I didn’t have to start from scratch, and didn’t have time for that anyway.”
Despite the fact that Obsidian Control Systems has only existed for a couple of years, Roy has a long history with the platform from back when it was the M-Series. “I actually started with the Maxxyz console prior to the M-Series so I’ve known the development team for many years. I was an M-Series user for a long time, and then transitioned over to Obsidian and Onyx,” he said, noting that he had input into the development and design of the M1 console and its software. “I was involved with it from the beginning and eventually purchased one and became an expert. I eventually did trainings on the console and when Obsidian took over continue to do trainings on NX and Onyx through Elation distributor SF Marketing here in Canada.” SF Marketing supplied the NX4 board for the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day show.
Roy called the NX4 his go-to board and says for him it’s a no brainer decision to use the console. “When you look at some other lighting boards, they look like a complicated airline flight panel and can be quite intimidating. The NX panel doesn’t scare you. The setup is logical and easy to overview and because it’s easier and not so intimidating, people tend to work better with it and try new things. It’s also small and easy to handle on the road by yourself.”
Roy explained that he rarely starts a show from scratch but works from a default show of about 50 fixtures where all the presets are already done – intensity, colours, gobos, pan and tilt, focus, etc. “When I start, I just patch all my fixtures on my new show and clone the fixtures from the default show. All my presets are then automatically done.” The approach served him well on the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day show where he used a light plot from a previous Martin Deschamps show to control a rig of Elation SixPar 300IP and Elation Arena Par Zoom lights along with Lekos and ACLs. The show was broadcast on Facebook Live on 23 June and featured Martin Deschamps along with guests Nanette Workman, Breen LeBoeuf, Reney Ray, Marco Calliari, and Lou Granger-Deschamps.
There is another aspect of the NX console that Roy enjoys, one he called a game changer. “There is a pixel composer inside the console called Dylos and it is really unique. With Dylos, you don’t need to have a media server on the side with a lot of presets. Dylos makes it easy. In fact, the first time I used it, it took me only a few minutes to figure out how it worked, and that was without even having to ask! It’s very logical and people are amazed how simple it is.”
Integrated into the Onyx platform, Dylos is an intuitive toolset of media composition, effects, animations, and text generators that isn’t overly technical and eases the creative process. Although Roy didn’t have the chance to use Dylos on the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day show, he has used it to enhance past shows and says he finds it gives a better look. “Before, I would use FX but that always looked a bit robotic. With Dylos you get a more natural movement that looks just perfect.”