PROJECT: Hamer Hall at Arts Centre Melbourne installs new grandMA3 system
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A new grandMA3 full-size console, a grandMA3 compact XT and a grandMA3 onPC command wing have been delivered and are in action at the 2,466-capacity Hamer Hall, the largest indoor venue at the Arts Centre Melbourne complex, which has a busy schedule of orchestral and contemporary music performances and other events.

All three consoles were delivered in July 2022 by MA Lighting’s Australian distributor Show Technology, replacing Hamer Hall’s previous lighting control system.

Arts Centre Melbourne’s Head of Lighting Peter Darby said MA devices were the most requested lighting control options by incoming productions.

“We thought it was the right tool for the job and the best choice for the venue,’’ he said.

Once they had decided on grandMA3 hardware, the next conversation was about the running mode.

With the proven power and flexibility of Phasers as the system backbone, they agreed that a full grandMA3 package (hardware and software) was the way to go to control their approximately 150 fixtures, a mix of moving lights, conventional and LEDs.

“The Phasers are such a straightforward way to create very complex effects that have not been possible with previous versions of grandMA.”

Hamer Hall’s new lighting supervisor, Jake Kirby, said the dual encoders and other features reduce button presses and ultimately save time.

Jake lights around 80 percent of the shows in Hamer Hall, the other 20 will have their own LD.

“Often we will have an afternoon sound check which will be the only ‘rehearsal’, and from then we go straight into a show that evening never having seen the full performance before, so we have to be prepared for anything.”

Hamer Hall is the home to the flagship Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, who have their own grandMA3 showfile. Jake and all the other operators have their own user profiles for maximum adaptability, and the console’s multi-user functionality has also been helpful for some shows.

Hamer Hall has a lively mix of shows and events most days of the week from school graduations and jazz, orchestral concerts, and a range of other music genres.

Peter Darby said every day is different with new challenges and ways to be creative.

“Each show must look different, and the grandMA3 system with all the components really assists in achieving this,” says Peter who also like the console’s ‘letterbox’ screen, the light path beneath each encoder, and the soft touch keys which are “a big departure” from the grandMA2.

Jake Kirby said he liked the tacticity and responsiveness of the faders and being able to import Vectorworks 3D files via MVR directly for basic previsualisation.

“It was designed with both the technicalities of programming and the essence of being creative in mind.’’

Another Arts Centre Melbourne venue, the outdoor Sidney Myer Music Bowl, also has grandMA3 for lighting control.