ATLANTA – Early in his career, Zach Scott found part-time work supplying small-scale audio and lighting packages to a local video gaming venue in Chicago. One of its managers, Brad Weir, later branched out to organize gaming tournaments across the Midwest.
Weir employed Scott for a few years, but eventually the two separated, Weir to pursue his passion of video gaming tournaments, and Scott into lighting, eventually creating his own design firm, Illuminate Collective. But old connections have a way of resurfacing… Seven years after losing contact, Scott received a call from his former venue manager asking him if he’d be interested in working at this year’s Hi-Rez Expo at the Atlanta DreamHack, part of the largest LSN Party and computer festival in the world.
Accepting the offer, Scott went on to create sleek, camera-friendly stage designs for Hi-Rez Studios’ SMITE stage. A friend of his, fellow designer Dustin Derry of Stonewolf Studios, crafted the look of the PALADINS. Helping them both in this endeavor were two ChamSys MagicQ MQ500 Stadium consoles.
“I was brought in to provide design, programming and operation for two identical stages at the Hi-Rez Expo,” said Scott. “With two stages being completely separate, I wanted help from someone who would match my passion for this project, so I called Dustin. We took on both stages from start to finish, as designers, programmers and directors, both of us relying on our ChamSys consoles to achieve looks that matched the intensity of the event and competition.”
Both stages had eight-universe shows with 79 controlled fixtures and 12 truss warmers that were set to the game’s branding colors. With the competition broadcast on Hi-Rez TV, the two designers gave prime consideration to creating looks that would translate well on camera, while still creating a friendly environment for the players and live audience.
“After our initial creative meetings, the main focus was on properly lighting the players and broadcasters for the cameras, but also staying dim enough so people weren’t blinded during game play,” said Scott. “Our vendor, Atlanta Sound & Light, played a massive roll in the overall design of the rig. We collaborated for almost two months on fixture placements and the overall design. For the aerial effects and big looks, I used the broadcast program monitor as a reference for what viewers online were seeing, and I tailored my programming on the MQ500 to have the biggest impact for the cameras.”
Keeping up with the flow of live gaming for broadcast meant that the programming process had to be done in an “organic and simplified manner,” said Scott. “We used one page of faders that held intensities, movements and FX,” he explained. “All of these playbacks were programmed with everything but color data. We then built a couple of Execute Pages, which held each team’s color palette. We also needed to be able to break up the team colors into ‘rig left, rig right or rig center,’ based on which side they played on, or if they won the match. The custom Execute Pages on the MQ500 worked perfectly for this task.”
Scott and Derry also had to pay careful attention to ensure that the effects and colors on their two stages matched the plethora of looks from the video content. “The show directors would give us cues, sometimes with advance notice and sometimes with a few seconds to spare,” said Scott. “This is a perfect example of why the MQ500 custom Execute Pages with regions were a crucial part of our console layouts.
In addition to the Execute Pages, Scott found the MagicQ MQ500’s two large screens and the additional banks of playback buttons to be invaluable features in this project. “The extra bank of playback buttons on the top left of the 500 were used for effects that had to be triggered, but would then release automatically,” he said. “Dustin had a great idea to use the extra playback section located in the middle of the desk for quick fixture selection. This allowed us to call up any fixture group at the touch of a button.”
Throughout the competition, Scott and Derry had mobile pre-vis rigs setup in their hotel rooms near the Georgia World Congress Center where the event took place. Scott had a ChamSys Maxi Wing in his room and Derry a PC Wing in his. “We did offsite programming and tweaks throughout the week, so everything always looked right for the competition,” said Scott. Based on the feedback the two designers received about their design, they certainly succeeded in doing that.