To ensure a visually stunning experience for gamers and fans alike, lighting designers Mathew Stovall, Tiffany Keys, Pete Thornbury and Michael Appel worked together to provide the League of Legends World Championship Finals with an impressive lighting rig featuring an array of Martin professional lighting solutions, supplied by Christie Lites, with MAC Aura PXL playing a key role.
League of Legends is a team-based multiplayer online battle arena video game by developer and publisher Riot Games. Founded in 2011, the League of Legends World Championship is the annual tournament to decide the best team in the world each year, and regularly attracts viewership in the hundreds of millions, making it the global leader in esports. The most recent edition of the tournament began on September 29 and culminated in the 2022 League of Legends World Championship Final on November 5, 2022 at the Chase Center in San Francisco.
In addition to the final match itself, the event began with a stunning opening ceremony that featured musical performances by Lil Nas X, Jackson Wang, Edda Hayes and Louis Leibfried. To ensure exciting and entertaining visual experiences for spectators during the opening ceremony and throughout the event, the event’s production team needed a fresh and unique lighting design. Creative Producer Trevor Burke, Lighting Designer Mathew Stovall, Lighting Directors Tiffany Keys, Michael Appel and TouchDesigner Programmer Pete Thornbury worked together to create a dazzling custom lighting display featuring an array of Martin professional lighting solutions.
“The overall concept came from Mat and Trevor,” said Appel. “Tiffany, Pete and I were implementing their design and making it do things that were appropriate to the moments being created. The show was very video heavy, with holomesh projection surfaces and a massive video screen flying from trusses. Mat was specifically interested in using a pixel front-faced fixture like MAC Aura PXL to bridge the world between video and lighting. They were the centerpieces of the rig. As we went into the different sections of the performance, Pete was able to send his custom video signals to them to enhance what was happening on screen and to support the dancing and the overall performance. In this case, we made specific generative content using mathematical algorithms to create patterns that don’t loop. If you looked at the content on a screen, and not on the lights, it’s pretty basic and doesn’t really look that cool. But it looks awesome on the PXL fixtures.”
MAC Aura PXL is the first wash light to feature individual pixel control for main beam pixels and Aura backlight with full control via DMX, Art-Net and sACN, as well as with Martin’s very own creative P3 video protocol. Thornbury and Appel utilized the Martin P3 platform to facilitate a hybrid role for the MAC Aura PXL fixtures serving as a creative link between the video and lighting elements of the show.
“For me, the Aura PXL is in a class all by itself in terms of what it can do, especially when integrated with P3 system control,” said Appel. “Pete fed custom video content through the P3 server, which allowed Pete and I to share control over the Aura PXL fixtures. While Pete is sending video content to the fixtures through the P3 server, I can control the individual pixels of the beam portion of the light, and also the pan tilt and zoom of the fixture. That’s a unique programming experience that you can’t get from any other unit right now, without using hundreds of extra control channels per fixture. You know you’re going to be able to create something new and exciting. We came up with some very unique looks we couldn’t have pulled off if we used another server and another fixture.”
Thornbury’s role included creating original video patterns to feed to the MAC Aura PXL fixtures, as well as organizing a comprehensive list of unscripted system-wide cues to support any number of possible events and outcomes during the gaming competition itself. Thornbury spoke to the importance of the lighting rig to not only enhance gameplay moments for the audience, but to ensure a positive experience for the players as well.
“Making sure the gamers are seen and comfortable is always priority number one. That’s the whole point of the show,” said Thornbury. “On top of that, we’re able to use the rest of the rig, as long as it doesn’t interfere, for game trigger moments. The whole stage comes alive when some big moment happens, which enhances the crowd reaction.”
In addition to the MAC Aura PXL fixtures, a full complement of Martin solutions helped the lighting team support a wide range of visual scenarios throughout the event with lush colors and impressive eye-candy effects. For example, the MAC Ultra Performance’s unmatched output and next-generation framing system enabled the team to provide beautiful side light and key light for the dancers and performers as well as impressive beam effects. The team also deployed MAC Encore Performance CLD fixtures as key lights for the players on stage, while MAC Viper Performance fixtures provided audience lighting. MAC Axiom Hybrid fixtures supported the event with high-intensity sharpie-style beam effects. Finally, the team deployed an array of MAC Aura XB wash fixtures underneath the stage’s massive stair units to breathe life into an already vibrant scenic design.
“Ultra Performances were our workhorses in the opening ceremony,” said Appel. “We also used a huge array of Aura XBs under the stairs. We were able to use them to create chase sequences, and the beams coming out through the stairs were super effective. The whole rig worked perfectly throughout the event. We had zero maintenance issues the entire time we were in the arena—we didn’t have to swap units. It was a very successful experience.”