Sydney Opera House invests in Martin, ELC, MA Lighting, GLP and Robert Juliat

Posted on Thursday, June 16th, 2011

The current issue of CX Magazine features an in depth article on Toby Sewell, Head of Lighting at Sydney Opera House, and the changes he has made at the venue. Over the past few years Toby has upgarded much of the venues lighting equipment with Martin, ELC, MA Lighting, GLP and Robert Juliat gear and below is what he had to say about this gear. 

One of the first changes implemented by Toby was the building of a DMX over Ethernet system in all the venues before he even looked at buying some big toys. “Through the selection process we decided to install an ELC DMX over Ethernet system which was preferred over its competitors. I saw it as more flexible, and having an extra physical outlet on the nodes was a big plus,” he revealed.

Toby organised a moving light shoot out with leading industry brands including  Vari-lite, Robe, Martin MACs and Coemar units for mid size moving light profile 700 watt and LED Wash fixtures. Ultimately it came down to someone being able to deliver a package to meet the desired feature set and budget. Show Technology came in on price with the amount of fixtures and service that were desired. 

After the selection process the Sydney Opera House took delivery of eight Martin MACIII, 10 MAC700 and 14 GLP Impression Zooms to add to the Vari-lite VL1000, MAC250 Entours and High End StudioSpot and StudioColors that were already on site.

“The MACIIIs were ideal because they are such a big impressive lamp which will work very well in the Concert Hall and the Opera Theatre,” said Toby. “The MAC700s and the GLP Impressions can work as an exclusive package as a rig on their own or with the MACIIIs in the bigger venues. 

“The main draw card for me with the MACIII is its lens aperture which gives a nice, big beam coming out of the lamp, good flexibility, and a lovely animation wheel. They are also an incredibly quiet fixture which was one of my major considerations as we quite often use the rig to supplement the Sydney Symphony’s commercial shows. 

“I love the MAC700s for their size and versatility plus their animation is a great bonus. They are a great unit to put anywhere on the floor or hang off the box as side or front light.” 

Toby first saw the original GLP Impressions when he lit Jerry Springer: The Opera and he was incredibly impressed by their output and saturated colours. 

“I was fortunate enough to attend PLASA in 2009 where GLP introduced me to their zoom unit and I knew they would be the perfect fixture for us to do Sydney Symphony concerts, as they are so quiet, as well as the rock’n’roll shows,” he reported. “They are also fantastic for events held in our foyers because we can gang several of them together and not have to worry too much about power consumption.”

After a comprehensive evaluation of current control surfaces was completed, an extensive upgrade of lighting control consoles has seen the Opera House purchase – amongst others – three MA Lighting grandMA2 light consoles. 

There is a grandMA2 light console in the Studio, one is used as a stalls console in the Concert Hall and one is located in the Pre-visualisation Suite.

“I love the grandMA2 for its ease of use and it’s potential,” stated Toby. “I’ve used the grandMA Series 1 consoles for a good period of time and I was always impressed by their ease of use. I wanted to offer our operators the opportunity to use an industry leading console rather than just a theatre type console. Our job descriptions continually change and evolve and we are currently doing more live music programming with moving lights, so the grandMA2’s are an essential tool for these shows and over the next few years we can breed some brilliant operators.”

One of the next items on Toby’s enviable shopping list will be some new follow spots because as the rigs get brighter by the day, the follow spots need to catch up. 

“Currently we have Robert Juliat Cyranos in the Concert Hall and Super Korrigans in the Opera Theatre, plus some Manon’s that are used in temporary positions,” he explained. “In the near future for the Opera Theatre we are looking at the Aramis because of the size, beam angle and 2.4K spot.”