Orlando-based Na’cho Production & Design is using a zactrack SMART automated follow system for the 2021-22 world tour by Alanis Morissette celebrating 25 years of “Jagged Little Pill.” ACT Entertainment is the exclusive distributor of zactrack in North America.
Seven-time Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Alanis Morissette kicked off the 35-date US leg of her amphitheater tour in Austin, Texas in August. It wraps in October in Los Angeles, which includes a two-night special at The Hollywood Bowl. The tour then moves to Europe with dates in Australia and the Pacific following late in 2022. Fans will see Morissette perform her iconic album “Jagged Little Pill” in its entirety, as well as a variety of hits, including tracks from her latest album, “Such Pretty Forks in the Road.”
Na’cho selected zactrack for the show’s lighting; Nashville’s Bandit Lites is supplying the system, technicians and the tour’s lighting crew. Na’cho Production Director Nathaniel Cromwell designed the lighting, supervised the show’s design and production and is handling the programming direction for the tour.
zactrack uses state-of-the-art Ultra-Wide-Band (UWB) real-time radio tracking technology on a frequency spectrum available worldwide without any licensing for the end user. Radio tracking transmits through common stage materials and is undisturbed by any effect or weather-related interference. zactrack offers high accuracy and speed in 3D space and uses a unique and patented fixture alignment algorithm to deliver unparalleled accuracy to any moving fixture around the stage. A single zactrack server can control lighting fixtures, video effects and 3D sound simultaneously. It integrates with any stage network and works with the lighting designer’s console of choice.
“Alanis’s tours have always had a lot of truss spots,” notes Cromwell. “I wanted to capture the truss spot aesthetic of those shows but with a modern twist and approach and without having truss spots in the air, which would be hard for an amphitheater tour. It’s amazing the completely different looks we can achieve by tracking Alanis and the band members with lights from the floor and the sides instead of flooding the entire stage with light.”
Lighting Crew Chief Mark Scherer and zactrack Operator Andrew Ellis set up the system for every show. It currently controls 108 fixtures.
zactrack’s radio tracking technology is a real asset for Morissette’s amphitheater tour, says Cromwell. “I had never used zactrack before, but I knew that optical and infrared tracking systems would not be useful in these venues. Jake Tickle, Director of Technical Services at Bandit, recommended zactrack, which has proved to be much more convenient and enables us to calibrate in direct sunlight.”
He says that ACT Entertainment’s Director of Sales, Doug Mekanik, provided fixture profiles for the system and “great support on the front and back ends – he answered all our questions and was very confident that we could do this.”
According to Mark Scherer, zactrack is “such a breeze to set up. It’s a smart and intuitive system with a well laid out interface that calibrates quickly and calibrates multiple fixtures at a time. The calibration process for our 108 lights only takes about 25 minutes.”
Cromwell notes that zactrack “is a lot more lighting console-based compared to the more proprietary systems I’ve used with their own user interfaces. This system is really lighting focused: I just make another line in my spreadsheet, track it easily, program it into the show and tweak it later if necessary. zactrack is a seamless part of the lighting system and merges well with what we have going. The freedom to program any light to be on an artist is a huge thing, especially in an amphitheater setting. zactrack is my toolbox for every song.”
Scherer points out that zactrack also has “a small footprint for performers – you can just tuck the tracker into a pocket: It’s smaller than Alanis’s belt pack.”
Cromwell agrees that the system is “easy on the artist – you always want what will work best for them.” Morissette and each band member carry trackers with unique identifiers in a pouch or pocket; the trackers’ ”great battery life” is a big advantage, too.
Not having used zactrack before, Cromwell admits that he “scaled [his] expectations so anything past a certain point would be a bonus. I didn’t expect to do what we’re doing on a daily basis – I thought what we’re doing would be pushing it. But the system handles everything really well. It’s a wonderful tool that’s perfect for a rock ’n roll show or any show where you’re looking to do specific things quickly and efficiently. It’s a great solution anytime you need a tracking system.”
Scherer concurs. “We’ve experienced no issues with zactrack, and we’ve done 17 shows now. I’d take it on any show I do that requires a tracking system.”