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Starting out with grandMA

A young freelance lighting designer just starting out has invested in a grandMA lighting console.

Up-and-coming Leicester, UK-based lighting designer/programmer Paul Nicholls graduated from Rose Bruford College last year where he studied Lighting Design before launching his freelance career. ‘PDN Design’ has now made its first significant business investment in the form of a grandMA2 ultra-light console from MA Lighting.

Nicholls had started working with grandMA consoles while studying, primarily via extra-curricular freelancing work for UK rental companies including Hawthorn Theatrical, which give him the chance to use the grandMA ‘Series 1’ full-size, light and ultra-light.

There are a number of reasons why Nicholls chose the console, “It has the same software and DMX outputs as the grandMA full-size, and is built on the really quick and easy to use architecture of the Series 1 which has been made even more versatile and flexible,” he says. “The way you can completely customise the layout and make it your own personal console is brilliant.”

Nicholls thinks the effects engine is a powerful and useful tool and likes the general ease of use and the simplicity and speed of programming. When “Annie” was being plotted during production rehearsals at Bradford Alhambra, they had only one day during technical rehearsals to programme about 200 extremely precise and complex cues into the desk, a task achieved with some headroom using the grandMA2 ultra-light. The next day it was straight in to the dress rehearsal and opening night. “It absolutely really delivered,” Nicholls says of the console.

“80’s Mania” had over 400 lighting cues – but no opportunity for rehearsal. Instead, Nicholl plotted the basic building blocks of the show using the grandMA 3D visualiser which he thinks is “an invaluable tool” which works with grandMA2 and has “fantastic” graphics. This enabled him to really get ahead, arrive at the first venue with most of it in the desk and just needing to update the palettes and a few other parameters before going straight into the first show.