The SAMAs were staged at the Super Bowl, Sun City in April and beamed live to millions of people on SABC 1. Produced by top production company, Vertical Limit Productions (VLP) on behalf of the Recording Industry of South Africa (Risa) – the production has been touted by audiences as being one of the best editions yet.
The technical production of the prestigious SAMA event was handled by Dream Sets – a Johannesburg-based production company that has grown remarkably over the past few years.

As the technical production contractor, Dream Sets worked closely with a number of reputable sub-contractors including MGG Productions, AV Unlimited, Audio Logic and independent lighting designer Joshua Cutts of Visual Frontier. Nevermachine, headed by Gavin Wrattle, produced the show for television.

A substantial amount of the equipment was supplied by Dream Sets together with AV Unlimited and MGG Productions. The later also supplied several peripheral events that took place throughout the SAMA weekend.

The set

The set was one of the most impressive elements of the yearly event. Designed by Robert Hoey of Dream Sets, it featured giant inflatable tubes that sprawled into the venue’s ceiling to support seven projection rings. This was closely linked to the elegant stage design, which comprised separate “organic’ spaces and curved video walls. “Part of the brief was to create little areas on the stage for different things and provide a dynamic background,’ says set designer Robert Hoey.

Dream Sets had never built a set like that before and it took Hoey about four days to conceptualise. He worked with a number of professionals including AV Unlimited’s Guillaume Ducray, who helped incorporate the audio-visual elements.
It took about three weeks to build the set offsite and seven days to assemble in the Super Bowl. Five Dream Sets pentac trucks transported gear to Sun City and at least 50 people worked on the set alone, off and on site. The original set design incorporated a fair amount of plywood and other materials but this was changed to fit the budget. On site, the main challenge was hanging the inflatable in the ceiling. Hoey also realised that a dedicated person had to maintain the pressure in the inflatables – a process that continued throughout the ceremony.


Independent lighting designer Joshua Cutts was brought on board about a month before the show. His task: “to create a vibrant MTV type design that would change the venue and stage from one saturated colour to another.’

The set covered a lot of the roof space and demanded a well-thought out rig layout which was a challenge. Part of Cutts’ solution was to light the inflatables externally and incorporate a curved trussing solution, including nine and 11 metre sections extending out into the audience.

The design employed the biggest lighting rig Cutts had ever used before and it took four to five days to rig under the direction of lead rigger Thomas Peters. It incorporated mostly Robe moving lights (over 200) and Clay Pakys (12), Avolites and Robert Juliat fixtures. Programming took two days and was done on site using a grandMA 2 full size console. To overcome signal-distribution and logistical challenges an extensive LumenRadio CRMX wireless DMX / RDM system was employed throughout the sprawling set.


The sound design was done by Marius Marais of Audio Lagic – a regular at the awards.

His rig incorporated various elements of the in-house d&b audiotechnik system, including 16 J8 loudspeakers, four J12 loudspeakers (wide dispersion),12 Q1 loudspeakers and 10 J sub-woofers. Mixing was done on a Soundcraft Vi6 and radio mics were all from Shure.

On stage Marius had a combination of Audio-Technica, AKG, Shure and Bayer microphones. The set design did not allow for monitors so he spent a great deal of time getting the non in-ear performers used to the myMix in-ear monitoring system employed. His crew comprised eight members and he worked closely with six engineers in the SABC van.


AV Unlimited was tasked to supply AV equipment, as well as to handle projection onto the inflatable set.
Working under the direction of Dave Thompson, the AV crew plotted and tested all the projection distances and angles off site. A major challenge was that there was little space to project from and this was solved by incorporating beaming mirrors.

For graphics they employed Coolux Media Systems’ Pandora’s Box together with two servers and four outputs, all full HD. They also had four full HD inputs feeding from the OB van that were sent to four separate outputs. Seven Barco FLM HD14s and two Barco FLM HD20 projectors were used.

Tech Box


d&b audiotechnik J-Series and Q-Series

Soundcraft Vi6 mixing desk

Mics: Audio-Technica, AKG, Shure and Bayer

myMix in ear monitoring system


16 x Robe ColorWash 2500e ATs

6 x Robe ColorWash 700e ATs

21 x Robe ColorSpot 700e ATs

36 x Robe Robin 600 LED Washs

18 x Robe ColorBeam 700e ATs

12 x Clay Paky Sharpys

36 x Robe Robin LED Beam
36 x Robe Led4ce 7s

12 x Robe Led4ce 18s

24 x Robe CitySkape 48s

6 x Robe CitySkape Extremes

34 x Longman Colorme LED Battens

12 x Longman LED Par 64s

16 x Martin Atomic Strobes

55 x Selecon SPX 36 deg Profiles

12 x ADB F201 Fresnels

12 x Selecon Arena 2Kw Fresnels

72 x Par 64 CP-62s

4 x Chameleon Starcloths

1 x Look Solutions Viper NT Foggers
1 x MDG Atmospheres

2 x Strong Super Trouper 2s

2 x Robert Juliat Cyranos

1 x MA Lighting GrandMA 2 Full size

2 x MA Lighting GrandMA 2s OnPC with Command Wings (full tracking backups)

1 x MA Lighting NPUs

6 x Proplex 8-Port Buffers

4 x LSC 10-Port Buffers

1 x Lumen Radio Dual TX with Supernova software for OSX

1 x Lumen Radio Single TX

9 x Lumen Radio RXs

1x Avolites Art 2000 48-Way Rack, 2 Hot Power Bays, 2 Dimmer Bays

2 x Avolites Powercubes


1 x Coolux Pandora’s Box System (1 Manager Machine and 2 Servers)

7 x Barco FLM HD14s

2 x Barco FLM HD20s

By Eddie Hatitye

ProSystems magazine – 3rd Quarter 2012