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Technology trends – LEDs in theatre lighting

A new theatre in Roermond, in the south-east of the Netherlands, has decided that energy saving is the way forward – and has been fitted out with entirely LED fixtures from ETC.

Griezelbus by Paul van Loon at ECI Cultuurfabriek, produced by Fablefactory BV, is lit entirely with ETC Selador Desire and Source Four LED fixtures. Picture credit: Digital Deluxe
A new theatre in Roermond, in the south-east of the Netherlands, has decided that energy saving is the way forward – and has been fitted out with entirely LED fixtures from ETC. ECI Cultuurfabriek is a converted former chemical factory which was abandoned in the 1970s. After many years of discussion about the building’s future, it was decided to refurbish it – replacing its missing roof and rebuilding the walls – and turn it into a space for the whole community to use. Incoming technical manager Maarten Janssen invested in 30 ETC Source Four Lustr+ and 22 ETC Selador Desire Lustr+ LED luminaires for its 244-seat theatre space, taking advantage of extra funding available for environmentally sustainable projects. Janssen explains why he chose the ETC fixtures: “I saw the LED demonstrations on ETC’s YouTube video library. The fixtures have incredibly smooth fades, which I’ve never seen in any other LED fixture. And the range of colours is impressive. “At the beginning, visiting theatre groups were suspicious of the capabilities of LED. But as soon as they see the power and versatility of these fixtures, they never fail to be impressed. I always discuss with them why the seven colour LED system is better than any RGB system, and they always leave with a big smile. The Source Four LED fixtures are just magnificent.”@page_break@ECI Cultuurfabriek technical manager Maarten Janssen. Picture credit: Digital Deluxe
Touring shows
Shows usually stop at Dutch theatres for one or two nights before they move on, often travelling to 60 or 80 local theatres across the country and bringing only minimal equipment of their own, relying instead on whatever the theatre already owns. This means a lot of time reprogramming and refocusing. Says Janssen: “With the ETC LED fixtures, using one unit for all the colours needed – instead of one per colour – there’s no need for precious time to be taken up with rigging; instead, technicians can spend more time working on other aspects of the setup.” The use of LED has been beneficial in helping to keep the room cool, adds Janssen: “For every thousand watts of lighting, we used to have 250W of air conditioning. Now, with almost no heat being emitted by the LEDs, we need far less climate control, which means less energy usage both by the lights and the air conditioning. The performers are also more comfortable – plus, of course, there’s less noise.” Lightco project manager Marnix Kulling says: “The process by which Maarten specified the LED fixtures was a long one, in which he needed to garner the support of all types of different people, from technicians to funders. I was pleased to be in a position to supply him with data which would back up his decision making, and could help him prove that the ETC LED fixtures would be the right choice in the long term, both technically and financially.” ETC Ion control desksThe theatre also invested in two ETC Ion control desks: one for the theatre space, and the other for the dance music area, Pop, which can accommodate up to 1,000 people standing. “The freelancers who use it have been impressed. I took advice from colleagues and the many freelancers who we use; all were familiar with the ETC style of programming.” In addition to the pop and theatre spaces, ECI Cultuurfabriek houses a cinema showing arthouse films, pottery and jewellery exhibitions, and hosts educational visits.