grandMA3 is Beautiful for World Cup
One of the highest profile sporting events globally, this was the first time the World Cup has been hosted in the Middle East region, where Qatar ensured it was one of the most memorable in the history of ‘The Beautiful Game’.
Sharif Hashisho, CEO of Qvision, explained that 16 x grandMA3 consoles – all running on the latest grandMA3 software – were installed in total, two in each stadium, to provide the most flexible and powerful control with fully redundant backup.
In each case, the first console controlled approximately 300 stadium ‘legacy’ LED lights while the second ran 24 x moving lights, powered via strategically located customised mobile battery bank ‘stations’; plus eight flame FX and a range of pyros including fountain jets and single shot EFX which were added specifically to facilitate the style and aesthetic of the infotainment segments.
These special moments accompanied the thrills and excitement of all 63 World Cup matches and action, helping ramp up the already electric atmosphere.
Delivering the production involved Qvision’s purchase of eight new grandMA3 consoles, a mix of grandMA3 full-size, grandMA3 processing unit XL and MA Network Switches, which were added to their existing fleet of eight grandMA3s.
Already a big investor in grandMA, Sharif explained that it was a “completely logical decision” to double the number of consoles in Qvision’s inventory.
“grandMA3 features many ground-breaking concepts from top industry visionaries in a refined user interface that is designed to make practical tasks very intuitive,” he stated. He thinks the grandMA3 range’s physical design detail is “extraordinary and focused on giving the best possible user experience.”
The match infotainment sections featured entertainers performing before kicking off and during half time, with lighting controlled by the first grandMA3 – controlling the stadium ‘house’ lights – located in the venue’s control room.
The second console was installed on the field-of-play (FOP) and used to control the moving lights, flames and pyro effects rushed on and off the FOP during the pre-match ceremony intro which was followed by the player entrances.
Both these consoles were programmed with identical showfiles covering both parts of this specific infotainment segment and synchronised so one could provide full back up for the other in case anything failed, a smart precaution which, happily, was not needed!
The infotainment was carefully curated to ensure that the thousands of footie fans could enjoy a mega-mix of different targeted “beautiful game” experiences, the goal being to help encourage them back for the next match and offering a wider fan experience and sense of community that extended far beyond buying merch and other memorabilia products.
The pre-match ceremonies included a central inflatable trophy surrounded by moving lights, flame effects and pyrotechnics all synch’d to music. The stadium lights would dim, and the show began. It is the first time in the history of the FIFA World Cup that a 1-minute-high energy show like this has been presented to fans for every match. As the rounds moved to the quarter and semifinal stages, the show runtimes were slightly extended offering even more value.
At the end of each pre-match show, the competing teams entered the FOP, took their positions for the national anthems, then the game commenced.
It was 2018 when Qvision first invested in MA Lighting products and with the release of the grandMA3 in 2019, it was the first company in the Middle East region to place an order and receive two consoles.
These were used for the first time to control lighting for the launch ceremony of the Al Janoub Stadium. The striking curvilinear postmodern designed facility was the second of the eight world-class stadiums that were renovated or built from scratch by Qatar for the World Cup.
The grandMA3 consoles were such a big hit with all the regular lighting designers, programmers, and operators, so Qvision kept expanding the stock, knowing that they would be needed ahead of delivering the World Cup.
Qvision, under Sharif’s direction, is a trailblazer when it comes to investing in the latest and most relevant technologies, so they were very happy to continue along the grandMA route.
All eight stadiums were installed with a DALI (Digital Addressable Lighting Interface), offering a dedicated protocol for digital lighting control to facilitate robust and seamless lighting management networks that are scalable and flexible.
As MA Lighting had all the necessary products and tools to perfectly communicate through this to the stadium lighting racks, it offered an immediate solution for this part of the pre-show lighting equation, which was how to hook the existing house lighting into a temporary show system.
In addition to providing the 16 x grandMA3 consoles in the 8 stadiums, Qvision also installed an MA Network Switch, a grandMA3 processing unit XL and a grandMA3 8Port Node DIN-Rail in each one.
“This powerful hardware and software enabled us to communicate perfectly with the stadium lighting racks and every single lighting fixture installed in these venues,” noted Sharif.
Using grandMA3, the various lighting designers involved in the infotainment project could program their entire shows offline using WYSIWYG Perform which was also connected to the grandMA3 console. This assisted greatly in showing simulations of each stadium show to the client and getting an OK to proceed quickly before going live.
Programming and synchronisation between the grandMA3 consoles were very quick, and the ability to copy showfiles between consoles installed in the other stadiums was “very straightforward and time saving,” says Sharif, adding that using timecode for synchronisation was ideal for delivering these precision timed shows.
Sharif considers grandMA3 systems an industry standard and the “Rolls-Royce” of lighting control. “It is always demanded in headline talent riders, as well as by any respectable lighting designer. grandMA3 control adapts to so many unique technological situations and can be used to create amazing environments, sometimes even those beyond expectations!” he affirmed.
For the duration of the World Cup, Qvision had two lighting operators and four technicians, all co-ordinated by a project manager in each stadium, plus three logistics co-ordinators, making a total of 72 crew working on infotainment lighting over the course of the event.
The crews were boosted by another 50 people for bump-ins. A team of 350 were involved in all aspects of the infotainment production infrastructure, as the company also supplied backline, audio and rigging for each stadium’s infotainment requirements and provided equipment to support all the stadium announcements and the National Presenter’s technical requirements.
Qvision was additionally involved in several other activations in and around Qatar during and related to the tournament.
In the four years between 2019 and 2022, Qvision delivered lighting for an impressive list of 16 major spectacular events, from the opening of the Al Janoub Stadium to the inauguration of the Al Maha Island fan destination.
Sharif and his Qvision team were officially awarded the infotainment contract just 4 weeks prior to the tournament kick off, so time was incredibly tight to get all the production plans implemented and energise the creative elements.
His talented team included Mr. Chacko Varghese (head of Qvision’s technical department) who managed the entire equipment delivery and crew schedule as well as risk assessing all aspects of the project.
Qvision’s senior lighting designer Mr. Syam Gopinath simulated / visualised all the stadiums and created the initial lighting programs that were adopted by the assorted lighting operators working across all eight stadiums.
Mr. Moustafa Abdelhay (Qvision’s chief operations officer) and main project manager for the infotainment program; and Ms. Raquel Roldan Sardua (head of admin & logistics), co-ordinated the complete administrative and logistical operation that underpinned all these 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar projects and enabled the team to deliver them with style and flair.
MA Lighting International as master distributor is responsible for worldwide sales, support and marketing of the professional lighting control solutions of MA Lighting Technology. The current product range offers the grandMA3 series including system and network solutions. In the past MA has become well known for its MA Network Switch, the grandMA2, grandMA and dot2 series.
Today, MA Lighting is respected for its technical knowledge and has achieved a unique international reputation for its operational philosophy. The company offers several decades of experience and strictly follows a professional user-centric approach, getting as close as possible to the market via its own international offices and support centers in the UK, North America, Latin America, the Middle East/India, Asia Pacific and Scandinavia/Eastern Europe/Russia – supported by a world-wide distribution and service network.