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ETC Unveils The Element Console

What’s that you say?  Electronic Theatre Controls (ETC) has released a new series of consoles!  So, to the huge family of consoles at ETC – from the Microvision FX way back in the day to the Expression line, the Express line to the Obsession line, the Congo, Eos, Ion, SmartFade, and architectural controls Unison and Pharos – welcome to the market, ETC Element!

People at USITT 2009 today will be seeing the new console.  I had a plane ticket to USITT, and I’m supposed to leave tomorrow – but I am too sick with this bronchitis crap, and I’ll be missing this year’s conference.  Someone take a picture for me?

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ETC unveils new ElementTM lighting control consoles, USITT 2009

Middleton, WI (20 March 2009) – When customers demand, ETC listens. Users have been asking for an ETC lighting control console designed expressly for modest rigs and maximum hands-on fader control. In response, ETC is introducing their new ElementTM consoles at USITT 2009 in Cincinnati. ETC Controls Product Manager Sarah Clausen explains: “ETC defined the basic lighting controller when the Express console was introduced in 1995. We’ve seen over time that the basic lighting rig has changed. With Element, we’ve redefined what ‘basic lighting console’ means, without losing the ease of use of Express.” Element comes in two hardware versions, based on fader count (the Element 40 or the Element 60). Each supports either 250 or 500 channels and a full two universes of DMX output.

Element is directed at smaller venues like schools and houses of worship who depend on single console operators or volunteer staffers. It is designed to handle rigs outfitted predominantly with conventional fixtures (spotlights, PARs, fresnels, and their accessories – scrollers, mirror heads, gobo rotators, etc.), while also accommodating some LED fixtures and/or a small number of simple moving lights. “We based Element on our Eos® control system but with a simplified feature set in a stand-alone console,” says Clausen. Integral faders, a single cue list and command prompts echoing those of the Express console make operation of an Element console simple and direct.

ETC addressed a number of special requirements in this new console. Users asked for channel faders. ETC engineered Element with true LTP channel faders for handling simple shows directly or for building up looks for use as submasters or cues, or for editing levels live. Users wanted submasters. By turning a switch, Element’s channel faders become 40 submasters for simple playback of live shows. When submasters are needed all the time, the Element 60 console provides 20 additional dedicated submaster faders. Users wanted the simplicity of one-button operation if needed: Element records cues and fade times into a single cue list for simple playback of more complex shows using a GO button. Or, when users are ready to move up, they can access more complex timing functions like cue parts and follows to create more intricate lighting transitions.

Element also opens the realm of special effects to basic operators by recording effects directly into cues or loading them into submasters for more dynamic lighting looks.

Element even navigates basic accessory, LED and moving-light control. At the press of a button, the console’s On Demand ML Controls appear on screen with tools designed to control smaller numbers of non-intensity equipment like scrollers, gobo rotators and mirror heads for conventional fixtures. Element’s color and gel-picker tools simplify the control process further, applying appropriate colors to LEDs and color-mixing accessories and fixtures.

Smaller-scale venues like schools will appreciate the deep customer and technical support behind Element — from its on-screen prompts, Help system, and video tutorials, to ETC’s online Community Forums and standard expert 24/7 phone support.

ETC plans to begin shipping Element this summer 2009.

For more on Element, see product page: www. etcconnect.com/element

ETC’s Eos Console Lights The Golden Globes

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The Golden Globes awards show featured lighting control by the Eos from Electronic Theatre Controls of Middleton, WI this year; an Eos console and a 2X20 ETC Universal Fader Wing were used to control the over 700 channels of lighting used in this year’s awards show.  The press release is a great read:

The glamour in Hollywood’s annual awards shows is as much about specialty lighting as it is about red carpets and celebrities: from podium-spotlighting for the award recipients, to concert lighting for changing musical acts and moods, to house lighting for the audience, and effects lighting for broadcast requirements. ETC’s flagship lighting control system, Eos (itself an award winner, having taken top honors at the LDI, Showtech and PLASA tradeshows) handled all those challenges this year to make the recent Golden Globes and Academy Awards shine brighter.

For the 2009 Golden Globes, an Eos console – along with a 2×20 ETC Universal Fader Wing – controlled all of the conventional and practical lights. Board programmer Gil Samuelian built all of the cue- and submaster-contents in Blind and was then able to modify the lighting smoothly during rehearsals before the show. Once it came time to stage the whole show, everything went efficiently with Eos. Samuelian especially appreciated the ‘About’ function: “It’s one of my favorite tools. I can quickly see exactly what is influencing the current output, and it gives me detailed information on a selected target. It takes out the guess-work.”

An Eos console also controlled 700 channels of conventional dimming and hazers, as well as house-, architectural- and on-stage conventional lights for the Academy Awards on February 22nd, 2009. Backing up the Eos on this high-stakes, most-watched entertainment program in two years, was an Eos Remote Processor Unit and two 2×20 Universal Fader Wings with added additional playback options.

“The Academy Awards can be very unpredictable, so hands-on control and fast manual overrides are absolutely critical,” says Samuelian. “Eos easily handles that because of the number of physical faders that can be attached. The combination of motorized and non-motorized faders – both of which provide matching data – makes working in that sort of live environment manageable and clear. The displays provide a complete and easily understood picture of the current state of the rig.”

“These were some of my first shows on Eos,” says Samuelian, summing up the awards-show process this year, “and despite the pressure of the working environment, I found it fast and simple to make changes and keep up with the demand.”

London’s National Theatre Goes EOS

Lighting resources manager for the National – Michael Atkinson – is getting hooked on the ETC Eos desk.  The National Theatre is switching over to run a bunch of Eos and Ion desks from their previous console choices after testing a series of consoles to determine the best fit.  TPI ran a story about the topic a few days ago, and Michael Atkinson talked about the Eos as a choice:

Eventually, Michael settled on ETC’s Eos product family: initially five Eos desks, three of its smaller sibling, Ion, and four remote processor units for backup – plus another Ion for off site shows such as Warhorse, which has just moved to the West End. In time, the National also intends to purchase a further two Eos systems for use by the video department and another for touring.

“We really liked the fact that we are using a desk at the beginning of its product life cycle, and are able to influence its development,” he adds. “By sending feedback to the product team, we’ve been able to tell those working on the software how we think it should work – and some of those ideas have been included in software updates.”

I don’t know what the previous console was inside the largest of the National’s theatres, the Oliver, but with their 100+ moving lights in the main theatre, I can only imagine how many conversations ended in some sort of swearing when running a few productions in rep and updating focus positions and cue stacks.  From the article:

“It’s been a relatively easy transition from our previous desk, because the programming styles have some similarities. There are many things we can do on the Eos which we couldn’t do on the previous desk; and a few things we can’t do now that we used to be able to. But we were even given our own section on the ETC community forums so that we could note our concerns. That way our technicians, who all work different times, could share information with each other and with ETC’s support people.”

Also, The National Theatre is looking for a lighting technician! If you’re going to be living near London and feel like sending in your application, hurry up – the search ends March 12.  The information on this gig is here.

LDI – Electronic Theatre Controls’ (ETC) Booth

ETC had a lot of really friendly people at their booth this year!  The EOS console was something that I am very interested in learning more about, especially after Mike Zinman told me about all of his excellent escapades with it.  Check out images I took of ETC’s space below.

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