Macula and MAC Ultras provide tourable follow-spot solution for Hamilton UK and Ireland Tour
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Macula and MAC Ultras provide tourable follow-spot solution for Hamilton UK and Ireland Tour

The multi award-winning Hamilton musical began its much- anticipated UK and Ireland Tour in November 2023. The touring production first opened in Manchester, then visited Edinburgh, Bristol and is currently playing in Birmingham before moving onto Dublin. 

Hamilton is produced in the U.K. by Jeffrey Seller, Sander Jacobs, Jill Furman, The Public Theater, and Cameron Mackintosh. Lighting Design is by Howell Binkley, Warren Letton is U.K. Associate LD and Ryan O’Gara is Global Associate LD. 

Whilst much of the lighting rig is a recreation of the refreshed West End version, the team needed a more flexible, tourable follow-spot solution. And it is Macula’s remote follow-spot system combined with Martin MAC Ultras, all supplied by Encore, that has been in action on the tour.

Having identified the need for a remote follow-spot solution, Hamilton UK Associate LD Warren Letton ultimately selected the Macula / MAC Ultra combination following a demonstration at the Victoria Palace Theatre. Hosted by Encore and exclusive UK distributor of both Macula and Martin, Sound Technology Ltd, the Hamilton team was left convinced of the suitability of the system, both the beautiful light engine of the MAC Ultra and the features and flexibility of the brand-agnostic Macula system.

Now 7 months into the tour, Touring Head of Lighting, Andy Christie, confirms the system has performed brilliantly. Andy, an experienced head of lighting who has worked on numerous productions including the Les Mis UK and Ireland tour, first saw the Macula system at the ABTT Show in 2023.

"Hamilton is the first touring production to use the Macula remote follow spot system in the UK, and together with the MAC Ultras, it has proven itself to be versatile and easy to use - a great follow spot solution to have on tour.” he said.

In total there are four systems on the Hamilton tour, three follow-spots in use and a fourth always available for redundancy. All are set-up identically, with each of the three operators controlling a single MAC Ultra from a Macula remote system.  

First of all, the MAC Ultras themselves have been brilliant,” Andy confirmsThey are bright, extremely quiet, and simple to maintain. 

In Bristol, the MAC Ultras were positioned on an overhead truss in the circle with an excellent line of sight, but their positioning can vary depending on the venue.

Lighting No.3 Callum Brady-Temple and Lighting No.4 Loz Tolland are the touring spot operators on the show, with one operating alongside two local operators for each performance. All the local operators, have been trained and overseen by Callum and Deputy Chief Electrician Kate Huxley Golden.

“Although it’s a different discipline to a traditional follow-spot, everyone has been able to pick it up really easily.” says Callum Brady-Temple. “The ability to adjust the physical resistance of the Macula’s pan and tilt control also means each operator can set it up to get the feel and weighting that’s just right for them."

With a total of over 1200 total lighting cues, the spot cues are initially called by Callum or Loz until the local operators are familiar with the show. Operators have been given both standing (on anti-fatigue mats) and seated options.

Iterms of control, beam FX parameters such as colour, zoom, frost and framing are all sent from the console itself, whilst each operator has control over Iris, Intensity and Position 

“The operators control Iris and Intensity via the faders on the Macula system, but we’ve also made full use of the customisable preset buttons for quick precise recall.” says Andy. “Settings for head and shoulders, half body and full body are all instantly recallable via the presets, as well as the “Bullet” preset with a super tight Iris for the specific moment the firing of a bullet is followed. There are also instant snap presents to 0%, 60%, 85% and 100%, and slow fades to 40% and 0%.”

The operators have also been able to use Macula’s Infra Red mode to assist with cues from black outs, or dark upstage areas. “While it was always possible in the past to spot in the dark for a familiar show, or by using set as references, Macula’s infra red view certainly makes this much easier.” commented Andy.

The Macula system is operating over an sACN network, and in this particular implementation, Macula is merging sACN from the console and sending on to a Luminex gateway to convert into 5-pin DMX to the MAC Ultras. The run from the remote systems is a long one, close to 100m, with no issues.

Since Edinburgh, the Macula systems have been housed and transported in custom crates, and in Bristol are physically located sub-stage but able to be located anywhere required – rear of stage, sub-stage, side of stage.

The Hamilton tour have been able to demonstrate some of the technical aspects of the show to students thanks to the brilliant “Eduham” programme where the technical team talk to students after a show about all aspects of the production, including the lighting, and even a speed costume change race.

Concluding, Warren Letton confirms, “We could not be happier with our decision to go with this combination. With Macula being completely agnostic, I was able to specify the fixture that was absolutely right for the job, rather than being tied to a particular brand or limited range of lights. The MAC Ultra has the mix of brightness, quietness and quality of beam that is perfect for the impact we require on Hamilton, and the ease to setup and operate Macula has made for a touring solution that has come together seamlessly. The relief to Ian Moulds, our Lead Production Electrician, to not have to tour 3 huge conventional followspots around the UK, is also not to be undervalued in this choice!”

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