Lighting a major prizefight requires a skill set and technology that can go well beyond the typical rock and roll show. So, needless to say, a fight like the recent Floyd Mayweather, Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao match—billed as “the fight of the century” and bringing in a staggering $410 million in pay-per-view TV revenue alone—might send many seasoned LDs running for the corner. But when the eyes of the entire sporting world were on Las Vegas’ MGM Grand on May 2, lighting director Jason Eible was ready for the challenge and brought the contest to life on a new Avolites Sapphire Touch console purchased specifically with this huge event in mind.
Eible is no stranger to this kind of pressure and attention. As the LD for Frank Gatto and Associates out of Boca Raton, Florida, he has spent his entire nearly-20-year career lighting boxing and UFC events.
“I have been using Avo as long as I have been doing lighting,” Eible says. He points specifically to the Playback feature of the Titan software that runs on Avolites consoles as something that he leans on heavily.
“A boxing match is not just a single event,” he notes. “There are other events surrounding it, including the weigh-in, which will be televised, and sometimes concerts or special events that are not. So the ability to pre-program multiple events and then just use playback to move each show onto the faders as I need it is a big thing for these kinds of events.”
It’s is also a way for Eible to build the show. “If I am building a cue and I like what I’m doing, but maybe I am getting a little carried away, I’ll record what I’m doing and throw it onto the Playback page where I can use it as a reference. That’s a great feature.”
Additionally, the new Key Frame Shapes feature, which allows Eible to create his own shapes from scratch, was a big help in building this show seen around the globe.
With all of the press about the actual event in the MGM Grand Garden, it can be easy forget that, as important as the experience is for the VIPs and those lucky enough to get one of the few tickets that went on sale to the public, there were literally millions of people around the world watching the event live via pay-per-view.
“One thing Frank Gatto and Associates excels at—and the Avolites products help with tremendously—is being able to light the room and audience in such a way that on television we present the ‘big experience.’ Unlike a concert, we are not just catering to the audience in the room, we are creating looks for every camera that is part of the broadcast. And that is not a simple thing. We have to balance the need for a certain look on television, but not light the crowd in ways that are abusive. When you are at a huge prizefight, you don’t want some big light shining in your face all night. We have gone to great lengths to be able to show the packed house of spectators on TV without ruining the experience for anyone actually attending.”
“My mentor, George Smith, had a long history in the boxing world and I learned the right way to approach an event like this. This was a pinnacle event for boxing, so, with that in mind, we certainly did not want to go over the top with a lot of gimmicks. We did not want it to look like a circus act. We wanted to maintain the integrity of the sport and still give a sense of scale and convey the energy of the crowd.”
“The Avolites Sapphire is a big part of pulling that off. Everything about the console is perfect for live television. From the Playback page to the Quicksketch feature. Moving fixtures around is super easy. Avo evolves with the times, but I also know that when they add a new feature, they have taken the time to get it right. I just can’t see myself doing an event like this with anything else.”
Eible also gives his boss an appreciative nod. “Working with Frank for all these years has taught me a great wealth of knowledge about lighting for television,” he adds. “With the help of Avolites, Frank, myself, and the rest of the crew at Frank Gatto and Associates are proud of another successful event.”