Pacquiao vs. Mosley: Battling it Out Under the Lights

in Production Profile

Pacquiao vs. MosleySince the dawn of time, human beings have had an urge to fight. Throughout recorded history — as far back as 2000 B.C. — men have battled each other to determine who is the best. Back then, it was bare-fisted. Today’s gloved boxers have more rules to follow. But a good fight still draws a crowd.

 

One thing that has changed — starting with the invention of the light bulb in 1879, and the motion picture camera at about the same time — has been the ability of technology to bring the fight between two individuals to a much bigger crowd. TV brought the viewer count into the millions, and boxing was lit for the all-important TV camera’s eye.

Instead of focusing solely on the two people boxing, however, today’s multi-camera TV extravaganzas do a better job of tapping the energy within an effectively-lit crowd and transmitting that visual excitement to the viewers at home — not just for PPV boxing, but for a broad variety of sporting and music events.

The same trend has also transformed the in-arena experience for spectators. And the fight between Manny Pacquiao and Shane Mosley, produced by Top Rank Boxing on May 7 at the 17,157-capacity MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, was no exception.

Top Rank executive producer Todd DuBoef, who is credited for helping boxing stay relevant in today’s maelstrom of sports entertainment options, started making big strides toward transforming the in-arena experience with fights in 2009, at the brand-new Cowboys Stadium in Texas and Yankee Stadium in New York.

From left, Michael Nevitt and Jason Robinson at FOHAlso in 2009, DuBoef hiring Jason Robinson of Jason Robinson Design to improve upon boxing’s traditional in-arena approach to sound, video and lighting. The same year, Robinson started collaborating with programmer and lighting director Michael Nevitt of Crossfade Design LLC.

“In the past, boxing matches were simple in design. You had a ring, a square truss over it with PAR cans lighting the ring, that was pretty much it,” says Robinson. “We began to look at ways to heighten the in arena experience to help keep the audiences entertained between rounds and between matches.”

Working with gear supplied by Upstaging, Robinson built a rig above the ring that was “way beyond something you have ever seen at a boxing match before” — an assembly of giant spider’s legs of truss extending from a circular ring, supporting a web of Vari*Lite VL3500 Wash FX fixtures, VL2500 Profiles, Martin MAC 301s, Coemar Parlite LEDs, Par64 LampBars and Atomic Strobes.

These were synched with an interplay of stunning aerials and movement adding texture and color throughout the night from arrays of VL3500 Wash FX, VL2500 Profiles and Clay Paky Sharpy fixtures. And the pumped-up visual excitement within the arena naturally enhanced the visuals seen by PPV audiences at home.

Traditionally, viewers of boxing matches at home were the ones who benefited from multiple camera angles, instant replay of some of the hardest hits of the given round and play-by-play commentary from sports announcers. The audience inside the arena watching the fight live, meanwhile, was left with minute long pauses between rounds and between undercard fights leading up to the main event.

Along with the need to think about lighting beyond the fighters in the ring, Robinson and Nevitt need a plan in case the 12 three-minute rounds were to end much more quickly, with a lightning-fast knockout punch.

As it turned out, Pacquiao vs. Mosley went the full 12 rounds — and that was after five hours of undercard match-ups. To keep the crowd pumped and moving between fights and rounds — and to keep the spectacle going in the event of a knockout — Top Rank provided a big-name DJ, Justin Hoffman, for the fans. Robinson and Nevitt were also ready with visual content.

“At any time, a fight could end early and we would be left with time to kill until the start of the next fight,” says Robinson. The DJ, he adds, was just part of the upgrade of the in-arena experience. “We also included a much better sound system, lighting, rigging, truss and LED display package provided by Upstaging.”

Along with the visuals within the arena, Robinson and Nevitt also manage the video feeds for the in-arena displays, the Showtime Pay-Per-View video feed and the Top Rank Promotions international video feed.

“We have triple duty on fight night,” Nevitt says, noting the importance of the in-arena lighting and video effects for the experience of viewers on Showtime PPV and international audiences as well. “The lighting has to look good to the audience, and at least four separate video feeds at once,” Nevitt says.

Robinson designed a circular video wall from Nocturne Video that is made from 720 Circular V-Lite 22mm LED video panels that are hung above the ring. These provide a 360° close-up of the action in the ring to the crowd in the arena. And during lulls in the action, it displays past fights, video packages and other content to entertain the crowd.

In addition, Martin LC video panels were placed along the length of the entrance way used by the boxers as they entered into the arena. Four Catalyst media servers provided animation content for both the entrance way and the circular video panel.

Tyler Roach of Upstaging was the media programmer for the production, working off a Martin Maxxyz Plus console. “Jason [Robinson] wanted to get the audience excited as the boxers entered the arena,” Roach says. “Combining animation on the video walls, plus sweeping lights across the arena and strobes, it increased the crowd’s energy and kept them on their feet.”

When designing a production of this size for both a live audience and a live video feed, challenges are bound to come up. “While a visionary, Todd [DuBoef] doesn’t know the terminology that we use to describe looks, or specific types of lights. He knows what he wants, but it was a challenge from time to time to convey that information back,” says Robinson. “I used Google’s SketchUp program to not only build the MGM Garden Arena in 3D, but the ring, truss, and video wall placement. From there it was easier to communicate and help envision the effects and placement of specific pieces.”

Throughout the night, the excitement in the arena was fueled by the atmosphere that the production team provided, with lights, video and DJ all leading up to the main event — and beyond, until Pacquiao was named the victor by unanimous decision. In much the same way, the in-arena visuals for this big night easily trounced the televised fights from an earlier era.

 

Top Rank Boxing: Pacquiao vs. Mosley

Crew

Design and Production: Jason Robinson - Jason Robinson Design

Lighting Designer/Automated Programmer: Michael Nevitt - Crossfade Design LLC

Lighting Director/Media Programmer: Tyler Roach

Lighting Director Showtime: Jim Ferrera

Live Event Production Manager: Ken Rumgay

Live Event Technical Production Manager: Andre Huff

Upstaging Crew Chief: Eric Eaton

Upstaging Crew: Josh Wagner, Marta Iwan, Brian Reed, Ryan Green

Upstaging Account Rep: Jerry Swatek

Nocturne In-Arena Video Director: Bryan Venhorst

Nocturne Video Crew: Abe Main, Josh Marrano, Kevin Paul

Nocturne Account Rep: Todd LePere

Show Rigger: Donnie Carroll

Backstage Lighting Gaffer: Scott Scholler

Backstage Lighting Best Boy: Jeff Humphery

Executive Producer/Top Rank Boxing: Todd DuBoef,

Executive Event Producer: Brad Jacobs

Executive Producer Showtime: David Dinkins

Director Showtime: Bob Dunphy

International TV Producer: Marty Corwin

Showtime Tech Manager: Colin Deford

 

Gear

4 Martin Maxxyz Plus lighting consoles (2 for backup)

4 Maxxyz Playback dual wing in frame (2 modules each)

4 High End Systems Catalyst media servers

1 Green Valley Kayak SDI switcher

720 Circular V-lite 28mm LED

panels (15 tall x 48 around)

75 V9 9mm LED Banner (4.5’ tall x 37.5’ wide)

46 Martin LC 2140 video panels (entrance way)

16 Martin LC1140 video panels (entrance way)

12 Par64/6 Lamp Bars - MFL (ring lighting)

9 Par64/6 Lamp Bars - NSP/MFL (audience lighting)

62 Vari*Lite VL3500 Wash FX (audience/spider truss)

20 Vari*Lite VL2500 Profiles (circle/entrance way)

12 Martin MAC 301 LED fixtures (sponsor truss)

8 Clay Paky Sharpy fixtures (far end rails)

36 Martin MAC 300 LED (spider truss toners)

30 Coemar Parlite LEDs

(circle/spider/entrance truss)

24 Martin Atomic Strobes

(circle truss)

4 Reel EFX DF-50 Diffusion hazers

2 Additional fog machines for entrance way