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Wherefore art thou, ETC?

Ian McMurray 1 July 2011
Wherefore art thou, ETC?

The Royal Ballet recently staged Romeo and Juliet for an audience of 12,000 – not at its home venue at Covent Garden, but at London’s vast O2 arena. The bold spatial experiment was a great success. Behind the scenes of the complex production was an ETC Eos lighting control system.

The Royal Opera House bought Eos desks for their house performances in 2008, but needed additional desks to take the Royal Ballet company to the O2. While PRG (Production Resource Group) was called in to provide lighting and rigging rental equipment, they needed additional desks to supplement their stocks, which were out on long term productions – so they went direct to ETC in London, who were more than happy to help out for the week long run of rehearsals and shows.

Following several days of testing and demonstrations, PRG provided a lighting specification based upon a lighting design by John B Read which was programmed by the ROH’s Jo Walters. With a tight schedule and close deadlines it was decided that 99% of the rig should be automated. In fact, the massive rig incorporated well in excess of 200 moving lights. PRG’s senior account manager Peter Marshall worked closely with the ROH’s senior lighting manager Nick Ware to ensure that everything was prepared in advance; the lighting crew, under the experienced leadership of crew chief Ian Bagshaw, ensured that the entire rig had been fully prepared and was installed and up and running in less than a day. This was imperative, as the set build had to begin as early as possible in the first load-in day. Bagshaw liaised closely with production manager Simon Byford to keep everything on schedule and allow maximum time for on-site additional programming.

“The two Eos desks were rock solid and operated flawlessly for the entire run,” said Marshall. “The show looked fantastic and all the ROH and creative staff were extremely happy. ETC really helped us out and as usual the service they provided was second to none – they really looked after us. From an ETC point of view, it’s great to see shows done on an Eos, which was able to cope with the vast moving light rig admirably.”

“As one of our first Eos users, we’ve worked closely with the Royal Opera House since the very beginning of the product’s life,” said Eos product manager Anne Valentino. “We strongly believe in the power of the Eos control desk, which was designed following extensive conversations with designers and programmers. We closely monitor requests for additional features and updates, and try to respond as quickly as we can. By using the forums and tutorials available via our website, as well as our technical helpline, users in need of programming assistance can be assured of a quick response.”

Photo: Tristram Kenton

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