Melbourne Recital Centre Finds Flexibility With ETC

Posted on Thursday, October 15th, 2009

The Melbourne Recital Centre is somewhat of a unique venue, specializing in acoustic performances it is so much more than just another concert hall. Their lighting systems need to be robust and reliable, flexible yet simple.

”We strive for the highest quality in our presentations and try to offer a diverse lighting package to our clients,” remarked Jenny Abbott, lighting technician. “To maintain this high standard the corner stones of our system need to be infallible, powerful and yet simple to use. Since opening in February we have been relying on ETC’s EOS as the founding element in our lighting control network.

“Although the shows staged in our venues are often relatively simple from a lighting perspective we often present a different show every night and the lighting content can vary wildly within the space of a few hours. Due to our swift turnaround of shows there is often only a very small window of opportunity for plotting or making changes. All lighting decisions have to be made quickly and then implemented without disturbing the performer’s rehearsal. The Eos is a very ergonomic desk to use and adapts well to a number of differing plotting styles. The flexibility that the Eos provides means that we can tailor our desk setup to suit our needs specifically.”

The MRC has recently purchased an ETC Ion to compliment its Eos. The purchase of the Ion reflects the need for even greater flexibility; the aim being to be able to use the consoles in a number of configurations depending on the demands of the performances.

The primary function of the Ion is to control the lighting systems in their smaller space; the salon. This space is multipurpose used for concerts, rehearsals, recording and functions. Lighting control needs to be both simple to use and powerful.

“Often the space is used for a number of different events in one evening, for instance we use the space for pre concert talks and then during the first half of the show in the main space we turn the salon around into an interval drinks reception followed by a post concert dinner and function,” said Jenny. “Each event has its own lighting look and we try to create a different ambience in the room especially as some audience members will attend all three events.”

The Ion will also be used as a slave to the Eos in some instances so that, if needed, they can run shows in the EMH from a number of different positions around the venue by networking the two consoles via a Cat5 network.  This gives the ease of programming on a console without having to go to the trouble of repositioning the EOS.

The crew at MRC also benefit from ETC’s Client software which can be used for either off line editing or on line as a means to remotely access the desk and program from an alternative position in situations where it would not be appropriate to use one of the consoles.

“The client software is installed on two of the company laptops and once networked we can plot from anywhere in the building,” Jenny explained. “We often utilize the client software to make small adjustments from the prompt desk while minding rehearsals. This way we can update the show as requests are made by the artists and don’t have to worry about re-plotting at a later stage – it’s immediate.”

The MRC undertakes a number of corporate functions each season which occupy their foyers and the Ion is the perfect console to run these gigs. It’s small foot print means that it can be tucked away conspicuously and yet it’s powerful enough to cope with running a number of movers with little programming effort. Easily accessible effects and fixture selection means that cues can be plotted efficiently and left to run without the operator having to expend lavish amounts of time getting the kind of look required.

“We are exceedingly pleased with our ETC system and the ability to interchange and network elements to afford us the kind of flexibility and sustainability we need to maintain our fast moving program of events,” commented Jenny. “We’ve faced a number of trials and tribulations along the road to getting this venue open and running smoothly and I dare say that the journey is far from over, it is however a great help to have equipment which can be relied upon.”