In 1991, an instantaneous idea to help a local radio station set the path for what would end up as Germany’s greatest indoor rave – Mayday. Traditionally held on the night before 1 May, Mayday has been in residence since 1997 at Dortmund’s Westfalenhallen. Just as the Arena in hall 1 represents trance and softer sounds, so the Empire in hall 3 draws fans of hard techno and electro.
Inside the Empire it’s all about hard beats and massive sound levels – and the night is probably one of the longest. Approximately 14 hours of hard techno have become a benchmark for technology and event lighting designer Roland Aberle knows the task: “Reliability, under high pressure and over a long period is what I expect from the fixtures – and I also need tools which allow creative design. Techno is so much more than mindless ‘boom boom’ … it’s thrilling, demanding and diverse. Forget about simple chases or uninspired lighting dimmed up and down … that’s absolutely not the deal here.”
G-LEC as a light source
Photo: Uli Hoppert
One of the main components in Aberle’s design for this year’s Mayday was a giant matrix consisting of G-LEC’s Phantom 60 System. 54 of these frames were installed at the rear of the hall, right behind the stage and the DJs (above). The sheer size of this matrix was thrilling; nearly the complete back wall was covered – but equally dynamic was the way Aberle used the matrix.
Based on a custom-made soft- and hardware solution, Aberle was able to use G-LEC as a video screen as well as a kind of lighting fixture. “We developed a Linux-based control tool, which converted DMX values into DVI signals, and via a separate video mixer we routed different signals on the G-LEC matrix. Using the converter, I was able to display colours or even effects from the lighting desk’s effect engine, mix them with visuals or any content provided from the VJs — or display dedicated videos,” Aberle explains. “It was an exciting experience to use a G-LEC frame like a fixture with RGB colour scheme.”
A matrix inside the matrix
The second major element of Aberle’s design was a massive amount of moving lights for the Empire. Nearly half of them were GLP impressions, in a mix consisting of normal impression 90 and impression RZ. 21 of the impression 120 RZ Zoom formed a smaller kind of matrix inside the G-LEC matrix and drew the audience’s attention to the stage, where famous DJs like Sven Väth, Jeff Mills or Rush rocked the house.
“The Empire people want to be wowed by what they saw and heard,” explains Stefan Konstanty, head of production for German-based supplier Gahrens & Battermann. “They are very demanding in terms of lighting and sound technology.” With more than 15 years of experience in the techno scene, Konstanty knows what this type of audience expects, and is confident that this year’s Mayday — with Aberle’s inspired lighting design — provided another pulsating [email protected][email protected]
Impression Spot One premieres on the main floor
Another premiere took place on the stage of the main floor in the Westfalenhalle. The so called Arena was fully packed with moving trusses, pyro effects, video screens and an impressive laser show all set up and managed by production manager Tim Brune of Cologne-based laserfabrik.
Lighting designer Tim Franken placed ten impression Spot One fixtures alongside the 48 impression 90s, left and right of the stage. He was extremely impressed by the brand new LED fixtures: “We were using a lot of big moving lights with 1200W light sources and more throughout the entire venue. I knew that the impression 90 could easily compete against those and but I was particularly impressed by the Spot One, and in particular its rich colour output. Thanks to the baseless design, we were able to use the units as a design element within our visual concept.”
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