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Zero88 Fat Frogs Used for Inauguration

PLSN Staff • News • February 13, 2009

WASHINGTON, DC — Despite sub-freezing temperatures, 11 Fat Frogs showed up along with more than a million people for President Obama’s inauguration. Christie Lites, which had also supplied lighting fixtures for Obama’s election speech last November, was using the Zero88 controllers to light the National Mall, in partnership with the event’s producer, C3 Presents. “We were very fortunate to have two career-milestone gigs,” says Robert A. Roth, of Christie Lites, about the victory speech and Mall events.  “They were very rewarding personally and professionally.

“There was a series of tower positions along the Mall; some of the ones on the east end of the Capitol were set up in a reasonably symmetrical array,” Roth said.  “Initially, we were led to believe we could establish wired DMX among these 12 towers.  We had only four weeks to plan with the holidays coming right in the middle.

“We added a rigging position on the towers and put up automated moving lights for remote focus,” Roth added.  “But we couldn’t establish wired DMX for security and safety reasons. We needed a console to hold focus and adjust it once we observed the crowds.  So we decided to fly in 11 Fat Frogs to our hotel.”

One Fat Frog was installed at each of 11 towers, which acted as “stand-alone islands in a sea of people,” Roth said.  “From those positions, the Fat Frogs controlled multiple Mac 2K XBs. We just programmed each console, disked it for back up and moved on.  We could set them and forget them.”

Roth also gave kudos to C3 for its problem-solving capabilities.  Clair Brothers, StageCo, and Screenworks also provided support for the history-making event.

The Fat Frogs’ reliability was key to an event that faced “multiple challenges from multiple sources,” Roth said.  “My crew was stellar, working 12- to 14-hour shifts.  And the Fat Frogs were stable down to unbelievably cold temperatures.  We never had a single failure.  The gear performed great, offered the functions we wanted and remained stable under very difficult circumstances.”

Since the Fat Frog was introduced, Zero88 has launched the Jester ML48, which offers improvements that include built-in effects, multi-function keys, USB support and greater fixture control.  A.C.T Lighting is the exclusive distributor of Zero88 in North America.

“Kudos to Christie Lites for creating a working solution to solve the unusual issues associated with this historic event and the demands of the venue,” said Bob Gordon, president and CEO of A.C.T Lighting.  “The Fat Frog packs a rich feature set into a surprisingly inexpensive package.  Christie Lites were the first to recognize this and they have put hundreds of them into their inventory.”

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