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Martin by Harman lights up London’s National Theatre with ‘low maintenance’ Mac Encores upgrade

Out with the old, in with the new. The National Theatre completes lighting upgrade with 42 Mac Encores, improving performance, whilst reducing costs and more eco friendly

The theatre on London’s South Bank, which houses the Olivier, Dorfman and Lyttelton theatres entertaining more than 1.8 million people last year, has embarked on a progressive upgrade, predominantly of its Martin TW1 halogen Tungsten Wash inventory. 

This month the theatre took delivery of a total of 42 MAC Encores (pictured) from Martin dealer Stage Electrics. All 42 units have been immediately installed in the permanent rig at the Olivier.

According to Martin Harman, MAC Encore Performance CLD integrates cutting-edge LED technology with a proprietary and innovative light engine carefully engineered to generate pristine, full spectrum light with ultra-high color rendition. The moving head offers unparalleled 6000 K crisp, neutral daylight. Its advanced color mixing system delivers the full palette from smooth and subtle pastels to rich and vibrant saturated colors. Moreover, it offers a fully variable color correction to tungsten/orange.

Paul Hornsby, the NT’s Lighting resources manager, the acquisition forms part of a ten-year plan. “We review which equipment has reached end of life and decide what needs to be retired first — but the decision is driven by LDs as well. We only go dark for five days a year and we managed to replace these on the rig without losing a show.”

The purchase was authorised jointly by Hornsby, Matt Drury, head of lighting, and Jack Williams, lighting supervisor for the Olivier Theatre, and followed an intensive three-day evaluation against a number of competitive brands.
Organised by Stage Electrics Sales Manager, Paul Roughton, and attended by around 60 lighting designers and technicians from the NT and other London theatres, this took place on the Olivier and Lyttelton stages. “The Martin MAC Encore proved a real winner, primarily due to its colour mixing and repeated accuracy with the framing shutters,” he said.

The final installed inventory comprises 29 MAC Encore Performance (24 x WRM 3000K versions and 5 x CLD 6000K versions) and 13 x MAC Encore Wash WRM fixtures. The Performance fixtures were specified with optional enhanced Frost Flags and the Wash fixtures with optional PC lenses.

Paul Hornsby confirms that achieving the tungsten look from an LED fixture had been the initial aim. “Our start point was to recreate what the Tungsten Wash did — and then look at additional feature set.” Key amongst the features, he said, was the quietness of operation, flexibility, energy-efficiency as well as the power output.

The new MAC Encore offers unparalleled 3000 K warm tungsten emulation and 6000 K cold, with an advanced colour mixing system, offering fully variable colour correction.

Jack Williams describes the transition from the TW1s to Encores as seamless. “We switched the fixtures between runs of Macbeth and relit with the LED – it looked identical. There has been ready acceptance of the Encore amongst leading LDs.”

On the importance of flexibility Jack commented, “We are in rep and we have no idea from show to show what the sets and style will be. The flexibility of the Encore is superb and we’ve actually been able to reduce the number of other fixtures on the bridges.”

The MAC Encore offers record-breaking whisper quiet operation. “This is genuinely impressive and a vital feature,” Jack continued. “Directors are looking for near silence in the auditorium during intense passages on stage. Brian Friel’s Translations is a current case in point where we turned all the arc sources off. You immediately noticed the difference.”

Matt Drury also emphasised the low size/weight ratio of the Encores and added that the ease of first line maintenance had been another key driver. He also highlighted the general low cost of ownership, with low consumption and without the need for lamp replacement. “Energy saving is vitally important and we were all of the mind-set that we would continue heading towards energy efficiency.”

In conclusion, Paul Roughton of Stage Electrics said, “We have supplied and supported Martin products for many years, and the Encore range continues their reputation for top class theatre products.”

Features: Mac Encores Performance LED 

  • Pure white LED engine with 6000 K CCT
  • A flat field without color temperature variation during zoom and dimming.
  • Flicker-free operation—LED driver frequency suitable for all camera applications.
  • Ultra-low noise—Combines convection and forced air cooling with user-selectable output vs. sound level control.
  • Fully electronic dimmer/shutter control with various dimming curves and tungsten red-shift emulation.
  • Vibrant CMY color mixing with a superior palette of colors ranging from light and smooth pastel shades to rich, saturated primaries.
  • Variable CTO—daylight to tungsten CCT control and expansion of the CMY palette that stays true to the black body curve.
  • Color wheel—6 interchangeable dichroic filters + open.
  • 1:4 zoom—precise and fast, silent zoom with auto- linked focus.
  • Four framing shutter blades with individual +/- 30° adjustment and entire system rotation of +/- 55° allow for high-precision cue repeats.
  • Five rotating glass gobos with next to zero focal separation from the framing system.
  • Animation wheel with continuous multi-directional rotation and indexing with variable angle, speed and direction.
  • Animotion™ FX System—internal dimming effect macros for stunning 3D mid-air and projection effects.
  • Precise and tight iris with adjustable dynamic effects.
  • Soft frost—a light frost that leaves gobo artwork and framed images visible with a beautiful soft edge.
  • Heavy frost available as an optional accessory.
  • Super precise and silent pan/tilt movement and positioning due to 3-phase stepper motor technology and absolute position monitoring.
  • Compact size—L: 452 mm x W: 480 mm x H: 733 mm (L: 17.8 in x W: 18.9 in x H: 28.9 in).
  • Low weight—31 kg/68 lbs.
  • Foam rubber (SiP) flightcase insert for secure shipment.