Jands designs hybrid lighting system for Monash University
AUSTRALIA: ETC lighting fixtures are illuminating performances at the Robert Blackwood Hall performing arts centre at Melbourne’s Monash University. The installation was carried out by ASL Systems as part of a planned upgrade to the existing 15-year old lighting system that was plaguing orchestral performances due to temperature issues.
‘Previously, our air conditioning system used to struggle to keep the temperature constant once the lighting came on, which is really not great for orchestral instruments. They start to de-tune as the temperature changes,’ explained Russell Proud, manager of technical services for the university’s Academy of Performing Arts. ‘After the upgrade, in the middle of February when we did our first orchestra in here, we were asked to turn the air conditioning up because it was a bit cold. That was the first time I’ve been asked to do that.’
Mr Proud started the process by upgrading the infrastructure to accommodate automated lighting. As the venue is not only used for orchestral performances but also for theatrical shows, he enlisted Jands’ lighting and stage technician, Andrew Maher, to design a ‘modern-day’ solution.
‘I had some discussions with Andrew because he had helped us with our ETC Gio lighting console upgrades,’ continued Mr Proud. ‘Working together, we realised that the LED advances by ETC were finally at a stage where I could use LED in the space. Andrew gave us some ETC fixtures so we could get a real feel for what it would be like, and that was a huge help in making the decision.’ At the same time, Jands also performed energy calculations to help Mr Proud work out the possible cost saving by changing to a mix of high-efficiency tungsten and LED fixtures.
‘The energy calculation side of things is important, but it's also vital that venues don't take a step back in quality of light simply for the sake of saving on power,’ stated Mr Maher. ‘The ETC X7 system meant Russell had the nuanced colour he wanted, proper theatre grade dimming and excellent colour reproduction on performers, sets and wardrobe while lowering his power costs significantly.’
The resulting lighting system in the Robert Blackwell Hall is a hybrid tungsten/LED system comprising a mixture of ETC Desire D60 LED fixtures and ETC Source Four Tungsten units. The new rig reportedly allows the space to change from a lecture presentation setup to an orchestral performance or opera performance with ‘very short turnarounds’.
‘It works amazingly well,’ confirmed the technical services manager. ‘We make a white light with the LED and we fill the holes in colour temperature with tungsten to give it a nice warm light, a really good quality white. The LED also means we can do all sorts of theatrical lighting for musical and other performance events. The switch has managed to surpass what we had before and allowed us to do many different things.’
The system was put through its paces at a recent performance of the opera Bluebeard’s Castle by the university orchestra. ‘We would not have been able to do the show with the old system,’ said Mr Proud. ‘The amount of colour changing, the dramatic look of the stage. Everyone was so impressed because it is such a major improvement. We’ve come such a long way, and so many of our other regular clients who use the hall have commented on the difference. All the issues we had previously, we’ve now overcome – and we had such good service from Jands too. We’re very happy.’