ETC and Vari*Lite Saddle Up for War Horse
Posted on Friday, February 15th, 2013
War Horse, the now legendary World War I drama depicting the devotion of a boy to his horse, has moved stage audiences in the UK and US, winning five 2011 Tony Awards. One of the most striking elements of the show is its highly evocative lighting design by Paule Constable who calls lighting ‘the secret language of theatre’. Paule won the 2011 Tony Award for Best Design for A Play for her design work on War Horse.
Australia now has the chance to experience this landmark theatre event with audiences packing Melbourne’s Arts Centre State Theatre night after night. The show will move to Sydney in March followed by Brisbane in July.
The lighting rig, supplied by Chameleon Touring Systems, has a small amount of moving lights for a show of this size; a couple of Vari-Lite 3500 Washes, six Vari-Lite 3000Q Washes, three VL500 Arcs and twelve ETC Revolutions.
“The VL3000 and VL3500 washes with their discharge lamps cut through the large conventional tungsten washes really well,” commented Richard Pacholski, Australian Associate Lighting Designer. “They really make a statement in certain scenes as the show is very tungsten dominated with a lot of PAR cans and 5K fresnels. They really come into their own during Act II, which is the war zone, generating great effects to accompany the sounds and action on stage. The VL500’s are used in a fairly tight beam situation, again cutting through the tungsten looks.”
Richard reports that Paule is a big fan of the ETC Revolution and that they are used in War Horse more like a typical moving light. The majority of the Revolutions are rigged front of house from where they can keylight, picking up action and people.
The largely conventional rig includes sixty ETC Source Four profiles and forty ETC Source Four PARs as well as two-hundred PAR cans. ETC Source Four Ellipsoidal 10° fixtures run as front of house follow spots from the box boom position reinforcing the tungsten look.
For control is an ETC Eos 8000 channel console with an RPU and a separate ETC Gio console was used to program the projection; all of which is now merged together to run off the one console with a RPU back up.
“The Eos and its networking ability has been fantastic ,” remarked Richard. “It’s nice working with a complete system with everything talking to each other. What is really interesting is that we use an ETC I/O gateway for each followspot which means the Eos caps the output level of what the followspot operator is doing yet allows the operator to still dim up and down – they just can’t go past the maximum that we set in a cue. ”
Blake Garner, who programmed the Australian version of War Horse, is a veteran ETC EOS operator who describes the War Horse set up as a good test of the maturity of the networking capabilities of the platform.
“The RPU is the brains of the system – running as the master – while the Eos console is the redundant backup and physical surface for programming and running the show,” he explained. “So the Eos and RPU were running together to have a fully redundant system and then into that system we also had the Gio console which was being used for the video work. We also had three Remote Video Interfaces networked into the system. These are used for independent readouts for the lighting designer, associate LD and video designer. ”
All DMX data is sent through an Ethernet system with Streaming ACN used for all lighting data and Artnet for the video content that goes through a Catalyst media server.
There is also a Show Control gateway, with a lot of MIDI data coming from the sound system triggering sound and lighting effects.
From a networking point of view there are six users: the unmanned primary processor, Blake on a console, the video programmer on a console, and the three RVI’s – all operating independently as required whilst sharing the same show file.
“So we had six users during the programming periods but, once we were done, we didn’t have to do anything to the show file to consolidate everything down to the one surface for one operator,” added Blake. “It’s a great networking system that I believe could handle anything you throw at it. It was also very easy to set up – just a matter of setting the basic networking settings on the consoles, going through setting a different user on each console and we were done. ”
Blake describes the ETC Eos as a very theatrical console ideal for War Horse, further commenting that the structure and the way it phrases the lights is very natural to lighting designers in the theatre environment.
“You don’t have to try translate what they want into the way the console thinks as the two are one and the same,” he said. “There have been many times when I’ve realised a lot of thought has been put into various options offered by the Eos. At first glance it doesn’t always seem to be what I want but once you start doing more complex things, you realise that is the right way to do it and it all starts coming together nicely.”