ETC Ion on tour with Company B

Posted on Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

Keating and IonThe ETC Ion lighting control console, the follow-up and smaller sibling to the company’s respected Eos console,recently made its’ debut in Australia impressing the technical guys at Belvoir St Theatre home of Company B, one of Australia’s most respected theatre companies.

Company B were about to undertake an extensive seven-month tour of Australia with their award-winning production Keating!, with plans to hire a lighting console for the duration of the tour, when the ETC Ion attracted their attention. The technical department soon discovered that for a similar cost to the long-term hire of a console, they could purchase an Ion delivering control over conventionals, moving lights and LEDs in an intuitive and easy manner.

With its convenient small footprint — only 19″ wide — the compact yet rugged Ion was an ideal console to survive the rigours of touring, fitting nicely into the smallest of venues.

Brent Forsstrom-Jones is lighting operator for the tour and although he has only had the Ion for a month, he is rapt with the features and operational ease offered by the console.

“Before the Ion, I was using a demo version of the Eos to familiarize myself with the ETC way of working,” commented Brent. “We looked at other consoles on the market when we were considering hiring one – but why hire one when you can purchase one?! A couple of other consoles we looked at in a similar price range didn’t look like they’d be able to run all of the effects and do what we needed them to do.

“I’m used to using a Strand Series 500 console and I’ve found it really easy to change over to the ETC Eos and Ion as they have a similar syntax. The Ion/Eos has a lot of features that I liked with the Strand consoles plus they’ve actually improved quite a few particularly functionality with moving lights. In fact the Ion was very quick to get up and running and simple to get a grasp of. The console can be as simple to use as sliding a submaster, or as complex as any production might demand.”

The production features moving lights and Brent has found the Ion’s built-in moving-light fixture library made short work of what used to be a complex patching sequence. Colour matching is also a breeze with Ion’s unique colour picker and swatch book whilst programming is simple.

“The Ion has four encoder wheels and this is one of its’ biggest advantages as you can quickly access and adjust ML parameters without having to scroll through multiple pages,” remarked Brent. “This is one feature I really like about the console, it gives it an edge over other smaller consoles such as the Strand 300 where you access attributes via the buttons on a mouse/trackball. That can be rather clunky, tiresome, and frustrating. There are also virtual encoders which are handy for off-line editing.”

Brent is also using the Net3 Radio Focus Remote which allows him to do most things he can do at the console standing anywhere within the venue.

“I can stand onstage and bring up a channel, update cues, change my patch – it really has got me out of a lot of grief quite a few times!” he said.

Brent reports that he is particularly impressed with the back up offered by not only Jands but ETC.

“If I’m not sure about something I can quickly get online and the ETC guys are frequently answering queries posted on forums,” he said.

Both professionals and novices will find Ion to be intuitive and easy to use. Ion comes in 1000, 1500 and 2000 channel/output configurations and features an integral LCD for softkeys and non-intensity parameter control. The board offers a dedicated master playback fader pair, grand master and blackout switch. The Ion programming keypad is designed to make frequently used functions easy to access, while physical rotary encoders take the work out of changing colour, focus and gobos. For further functionality and power, Ion can connect up to six optional USB fader wings for 240 additional faders — playbacks or submasters — with paging controls.

Ion can be used as a standalone console or networked system with up to four Ion devices, such as additional Ion consoles, Ion Remote Processor Units, Net3 Remote Video Interfaces or computers running Eos/Ion client software. The Ion can also be used as a client on an Eos system, where it will support the full output of that system.