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Technology trends – theatre followspots

Andrew Brister 9 March 2011

We look at what’s happening in the world of theatre followspots with special focus on Cincinnati’s School for Creative & Performing Arts with supplier Robert Juliat.

The School for Creative & Performing Arts (SCPA) in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA has installed four Robert Juliat Topaze followspots in Corbett Hall, its 750-seat auditorium. SCPA offers a comprehensive arts education, with full college-prep curriculum, for students K-12 in the Cincinnati Public School District. It boasts many notable graduates, its students have performed with the Cincinnati Pops and it served as the setting for a popular MTV reality series.

Corbett Hall typically hosts the school’s major musicals, such as last autumn’s Wizard of Oz, as well as performances by students in the vocal department, orchestra and band. SCPA also offers a career technical program that trains students for jobs in the field or prepares them to go on to an arts college. Lighting design instructor Jeffrey New supervises the students who operate lighting fixtures and lighting consoles for SCPA performances.

“When I first saw Topaze I thought it would be a fantastic light to have,” he recalls. “I had been talking to Bill Conner of BCA Associates in Chicago about acquiring lights with specific size, voltage and ease of use requirements because of the student operators, and Bill recommended Topaze.”

Robert Juliat’s Topaze 1200W MSD followspot is a heavy-duty yet compact fixture with a high-performance double condenser optical system. It offers a 100 percent closing iris with backplate follower in a removable cassette; a 100 percent closing mechanical dimmer; an ‘A’-size removable gobo holder; and a six-way colour changer system filled with removable filter frames.

Although two Topaze fixtures were originally destined for Corbett Hall and two for the school’s 400-seat concert recital hall, all four have been earmarked for productions in Corbett Hall.

“They are really user-friendly, and the compact size is great,” says New. “They’re very manageable for students. Even students 13 years of age, male and female, find them lightweight and easy to handle.”

New also gives kudos to the douser mechanism: “One of the things I haven’t liked about followspots from other brands is that you need to use a separate hand for the douser mechanism. But with Topaze, with one or two fingers you can roll a fade in and out while still holding onto the handle and moving it,” he notes. 

“I also like the fact that you can insert a gobo into it – that’s a plus for a followspot. And having the frost separate from the colour frames is nice, too. I think Topaze is fantastic!”

www.robertjuliat.fr

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