24 Jun 2024


by Jason Allen

Beats, Strobes, Bars, Beams, and ‘Retinal Violence’

The EDM phenomenon that is Ultra has touched down again in Australia, running April 12 at Broadwater Parklands on the Gold Coast and April 13 at Melbourne’s Flemington Showgrounds.

The Gold Coast is a fitting location for Ultra, which started out in 1999 in Miami Beach, Florida with 10,000 partygoers. In the intervening 25 years, Ultra has grown into a global juggernaut; the yearly Miami bash is three days long and attracted 165,000 to Miami’s Bayfront Park in March 2024. Its international programme has seen Ultra events run across Europe and Asia.

The Ultra brand attracts the biggest names in the EDM world; 2024’s Ultra Miami was a roll-call of DJ royalty; Steve Aoki, Armin Van Buuren, Tiesto, Afrojack, Calvin Harris, David Guetta, Eric Prydz, Sasha and John Digweed, and more. Its Gold Coast and Melbourne one day, one stage events in April attracted some of the same big names – Steve Aoki, Armin Van Buuren, and Zedd – along with Darren Styles and Brennan Heart, supported by Topic and Will Sparks.

Ultra Beach Gold Coast kicked off at 2 pm with Topic on the decks and culminated with Armin Van Buuren’s set concluding at 10 pm. 12,000 punters sold the Gold Coast event out, and Melbourne’s edition the next day sold out too, boding well for the festival brand to return to Australia.

“Not every festival is dying!” points out Steve Grimes, General Manager at IJS Productions, who supplied lighting, video, and audio for the Gold Coast event. “I think the mainstream press is getting carried away. The boutique EDM market is doing well. If you can find acts that cater for a particular audience, then you’ll do okay.” And do OK they have.

Ultra’s Australian edition was organised by production and technical management company Gig Control, who have a solid track record in the EDM space. IJS Productions are a regular supplier to their events.


Surprisingly, there were only three lighting fixtures on the spec, but in quantity; 16 Chauvet Color Strike M strobe/strobes, 38 GLP Impression X5 IP bars and 40 Ayrton Karif LT beams. “That was it,” confirms Steve. “A beam, a bar, and a strobe. What they want for these looks is numbers rather than versatility. They said, ‘Here’s our budget, how many of each fixtures can we have for that?’. The lights were almost all rigged around the upstage and downstage screens, LED diamonds, and DJ booth; there was very little actually rigged in the roof.”

With lighting so completely integrated into the screens, stage, and flown elements, IJS’s ability to pre-rig anything before they got to site was minimal. “We had to build everything in the factory, then pull it apart,” Steve relates. “We had to re-build everything at the gig.

Everything had to be manually constructed because all the lighting and video was interlaced.”

Despite half the show running in daylight, the rig still packed a punch. “When you’re using fixtures like the Color Strike, you can still have an impact in daylight,” explains Steve. “Because the Color Strikes are basically a LED panel, you can put colours up, change colours, and you can actually see it during the day. You’re not seeing beams of light; you’re seeing the light itself. It’s not as effective as in darkness, obviously, but there is an eye-candy vibe in the daytime with those sorts of lights.”

With all of the lights running in the most high-channel count mode possible, IJS supplemented the two grandMA3 full size desks on the gig with a grandMA3 M and a grandMA3 L processing unit, adding a serious 12,288 parameters.

“It was all big beam looks (thanks to the Ayrton Karif LT), big strobe looks, and lots of what I like to call ‘retinal violence’,” quips Steve. “When coupled with the LED screens, which are basically a strobing wash fixture, we were pretty much smashing the crowd in the face continually, which they seem to enjoy.”


IJS built two LED IMAG screens stage left and right in diamond shapes, a flown rear LED screen in a trapezoidal shape, an LED screen in front of the DJ riser in the same trapezoidal shape but inverted, and the LED Ultra logo crowning the stage. All panels were Absen PL3.9W Lite.

“The diamond shapes were masked into that shape,” reveals Steve. “The design came to us with some unresolved rigging issues, and we had to just make it work. Our friends at Design Quintessence helped us, and I worked out the geometry and the F34 junctions we needed to deliver the design.”

With video a major part of the show, Ultra travels with their own crew, as do the bigger acts like Steve Aoki and Armin Van Buuren. They all run their own media and media servers. “We patched the media servers in to our system at 4K and sent it to our NovaStar processing and the screens,” Steve outlines. “FoH was a cast of 1,000 laptops and black media server boxes.”

With video and data the stars of the show, IJS relied on a Luminex fibre network to run the whole gig, utilising Luminex lighting nodes and a GigaCore 30i switch.


IJS supplied a comprehensive d&b audiotechnik J-Series PA, ArrayProcessed to match the J-Series delays. On stage, the DJs were blasted by the now obligatory ‘Texas Headphones’; a small d&b V-Series line array with V-Subs. “Well, the DJs have always wanted their monitoring to be louder than FoH, and now they can be,” chuckles Steve. “The positive is that if they feel it’s really loud on stage, it stops them from turning it up so loud it distorts.”

With apartments just a stone’s throw away, d&b’s pattern control was key to a successful event. “Broadwater Parklands is very narrow, and sandwiched between the highway and the beach,” Steve illustrates. “To stage left, you’ve got the highway, a footpath and a service road before you hit the apartments, so you have to control the bass in particular so you don’t get a massive amount of noise complaints.”

Photos Credit: Jordan Munns @jordankmunns

The Gear


  • 16 x Chauvet Color Strike M Strobe 38 x GLP Impression X5 IP Bar
  • 40 x Ayrton Karif LT
  • 2 x grandMA3 full size 1 x grandMA3 M-PU 1 x grandMA3 L-PU
  • 4 x MDG ATMe Hazer
  • 2 x Antari FT-100 Fog Machine


  • 185 x Absen PL3.9W Lite V10 1000×500 34 x Absen PL3.9W Lite V10 500×500 (92.5 metres of LED)
  • 1 x Roland V-600HD Vision Switcher


  • FOH PA loudspeakers: 20 x d&b audiotechnik J8 line array elements, 4 x d&b audiotechnik J12 line array elements, 16 x d&b audiotechnik J-Sub subwoofers, 4 x d&b audiotechnik Q7 point source elements
  • Delay loudspeakers: 12 x d&b audiotechnik J8 line array elements, 4 x d&b audiotechnik J12 line array elements
  • Monitor loudspeakers: 8 x d&b audiotechnik M2 monitors, 6 x d&b audiotechnik V8 line array elements, 4 x d&b audiotechnik V-Sub subwoofers
  • Amplifiers: d&b audiotechnik D80 power amplifiers, d&b audiotechnik D12 power amplifiers
  • FOH Mixer: DiGiCo SD-10 Monitor mixer: Avid S6L-24D


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