grandMA3 is a Match!

Frédéric “Aldo” Fayard and a team from his company Concept K harnessed the power and flexibility of full grandMA3 lighting control systems to help deliver a series of lightning quick 90-second Pre-Match Ceremonies, spectacular mini-shows taking place minutes ahead of the start of each match at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

This involved eight different systems – one for each stadium – comprising a 5-metre diameter platform with 24 x lights, pyro, an 8-metre-high inflatable of the World Cup trophy plus other props and set pieces, all pushed onto the centre of the pitch simultaneous to the two flag teams who entered and lined up at both ends of the field-of-play. Extra lights were added on custom karts stored behind the perimeter LED boards. As the tournament progressed, more and more lights were added for the Pre-Match Ceremonies, which by the final involved control of the full stadium’s sports lighting rigs.

The venue’s perimeter LED boards and LED stand rings were also integrated into these shows, fed with custom content.

It was a tightly choreographed mission with no room for error, executed by a total of 120 volunteers & about 10 technicians in each stadium.

Working directly for FIFA, the LAB2580-lead team and Concept K designed and co-ordinated the mobile staging, lighting, audio, video, pyro timecode and networking required for these impressive Pre-Match Ceremonies. The team was completed by French pyro company, Grand Final.

In the control room, a lighting and a pyro operator worked closely with the tournament’s infotainment department who co-ordinated the general stadium pre-show programme scheduled before each match. Their show caller also called the Pre-Match Ceremonies.

The 24 lights on each moving platform were a mix of Robe MegaPointes and GLP JDC1 strobes, and this number doubled for the quarter-finals, and doubled again for the semi-finals with moving lights deployed in each corner of the pitch on custom fabricated folding karts, making 96 pop-up in lights in total.

The Concept K team also took opportunity of both Opening & Closing Ceremony (produced by Balich Wonder Studios) lighting setups to share additional fixtures adding around 200 to first and the last of the Pre-Match Ceremonies.

The large parameter count offered by grandMA3 was a major reason Aldo chose to work with that platform. “I knew it would be straightforward to add in additional large numbers for the Final,” he stated, “and the plan worked perfectly!”

One grandMA3 light console was utilised per stadium to run the Pre-Match Ceremonies, with one as a floating spare. These nine grandMA3s were all sourced from Europe by Concept K working with PRG as their technical partner.

By special arrangement with the World Cup infotainment department, the grandMA3 light desk from the infotainment team – supplied by Qatar-based supplier QVision – was added to the network for a fully redundant back-up system for both the Pre-Match Ceremonies and the general infotainment pre-game time slots.

Concept K – renowned for creating innovative, imaginative multi and mixed media shows and installations worldwide – has been using grandMA3 hardware already for some time.

“We believe that the version 3 software is the future of grandMA, and for us, this was an ideal project to use it for the first time and start realising its capabilities,” he elucidated.

Each mobile Pre-Match Ceremony show platform was fitted with 24 x FIFA certified rotating low-pressure wheels to ensure they rode smoothly across the carefully manicured pitches.

The platforms were co-ordinated with the look of each venue’s central pitch banner and were fully designed and manufactured in France, then shipped to Qatar, re-assembled and dispatched to each stadium in a complex transport process due to size and security required by FIFA’s regulations. Each inflatable trophy – made by another French company, ATC – filled with air in 60 seconds at the pitch side via two high speed fans integrated inside the platform.

Twelve people pushed the platforms into place, including one inflatable tech, two lighting techs, two pyro techs and Qatari volunteers. Another dedicated team was in charge of the associated power and data cable loom.

Integrating control of the stadium sports lighting LED floodlights into the Pre-Match Ceremony fully timecoded show was one of the big challenges.

The sport lighting network infrastructure in the venues had not been set up for use by an external control system and there was some reticence to permit control of this match mandatory lighting.

Concept K’s network architects found a technical solution for interconnecting the two systems AND prepared some specific routines with infotainment teams and FIFA officials to enable an orderly systems handoff between the different entertainment segments before the match, during half-time and for the game playing period.

Having implemented a similar process during the 2021 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix in Jeddah, Aldo and his team knew it could be done!

Receiving confirmation for the project only 3 months ahead of the tournament was another galvanising aspect, leaving a very short timeframe in which to source all the equipment, resources, logistics and technical expertise needed to make it happen … but achieving the goal and delivering a stunning series of Pre-Match Ceremony shows was also immensely satisfying.


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