The Sydney Opera House chooses Robert Juliat Follow Spots

Posted on Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

The Sydney Opera House has recently installed four Robert Juliat Cyrano 2500W HMI follow spots into the Joan Sutherland Theatre (formerly known as the Opera Theatre) in which the Australian Ballet and Opera Australia reside.

The two resident companies had begun to require more output as the previous follow spots could not keep up with the lighting rigs which were continually getting brighter. The Cyrano, with its narrow beam angle suited to long throw distances and unique dimmer shutter, was the obvious choice of replacement.

Normally a follow spot position is located at the back of the auditorium with a traditional follow spot stand but at this venue the follow spot position is actually built into the roof with the lamps mounted on the floor of the Theatres ceiling.

“This presented us with a major issue in getting the operator low enough to operate the Cyrano’s comfortably,” remarked Toby Sewell, Head of Lighting at SOH. “It was also imperative that all of the controls were in the correct location because there is not very much room for movement. The Cyrano has all of the control in the centre of the fixture which works well.”

Show Technology’s Vince Haddad and James Moore customized the Cyrano’s with a digital readout, converting signal from the ballast to a small LCD display so it was easy to see the percentage the follow spot was running at.

“The display is really useful for our operators to be able to get as much accuracy as possible as they are recreating plotted shows and need to return to a certain percentage each time,” said Toby. “The other modification was to find a way to hang the follow spots as a stand was obviously out of the question. Show Technology helped us find a rated Doherty clamp that would give us the suspension weight with that critical smooth panning movement.”

Another benefit of the Cyrano’s is that it is possible to set a maximum output level in the ballast from the lighting control console.

“This will really help with some of the older shows that are coming back which had used the previous Korrigan follow spots,” added Toby. “We can cap the level so the operator still can go from 0 – 100% on the Follow spot fader but in reality it’s still capped at, for example, 50%.”

The first production that used the Cyrano’s was Opera Australia’s South Pacific and Toby reports they performed well and received positively by the company.