In the words of Simon Garret, General Manager of Lighting at Norwest Oceania in Auckland, “New Zealand’s local version of Dancing With The Stars is a ‘magpie’ show; everywhere you point the camera, there’s bling! We’re pixel mapping the judge’s desk, 60 LED ParCans, a series of arches with LED strips and a set of stairs that are a major feature of the show; they’re covered in LED pixel tape which is mapped and fed with media. This means we can quickly animate them smoothly in all directions to greatly expand on the Liberace piano key effect. The only rub is, ‘Hello!’ 60 DMX universes!”
If that wasn’t nerve-racking enough for lighting operator Jason Steel, each number in the show is rehearsed and plotted for just 15 minutes before the show is done live that very evening. With so much at play and so much riding on flawless operation, redundant back-up is very important.
“I’m operating on the top-of-the-range HOG4 from High End Systems,” Jason reported. “We’re also running a Hog PC setup with Nano Hog4 control in the stalls plotting position, a Road Hog4, and a High End DMX Processor 8000 that is used as a secondary backup. All the units are networked, running Art-Net and Hog-Net throughout.”
“Historically, we would have taken spare consoles to gigs,” elaborated Simon Garrett, “but we’ve wholeheartedly embraced networking. The Hog-Net network works really well, and I’ve been a ‘Hog Guy’ for a long time. We don’t have a lot of time to plot on Dancing With The Stars, and need a console that’s fast and easy to live plot on. Over here in New Zealand, we call the style of operation where we’re reacting and adding things quickly ‘jamming’ or busking’. The Hog family are by far the easiest console to busk on. The screens are quick and reactive, you can set them up any way you want, and they auto-palette really quickly.”
“The Hogs are amazing!” concurred Jason Steel. “They’re great consoles that are just really simple to use, and they’re stable as anything. I’m using the FX engines to the full, and the macros are great. I really like the flexibility of the networking, and the ability to use the same show files through all Hog consoles. Another thing we’ve been enjoying is remote focusing on our Android tablets through the OSC app.”
With so much back-up and redundancy keeping the show live, has there been any circumstances where it’s been needed? “We’ve been live with the consoles for five weeks and haven’t had a single issue,” Jason confirmed. “The Hog platform has been incredibly solid,” added Simon. “I think High End Systems have really done their homework on this OS. The Hogs have been amazing and I’m really happy with them.”