UK – Avolites’ fully featured, dual wide screen Sapphire Touch console is controlling unique ceiling panels of LEDs in theatre company Paines Plough’s portable Roundabout Theatre. Premiering at this summer’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the theatre has since popped up in towns across the UK.
Lighting programmer Peter Small specified the Sapphire Touch to program, control, and pixel map the 627 LEDs in the complex panels built into the touring venue’s roof.
“The Sapphire Touch is excellent for programming Roundabout because of its speed – a lot of the console’s features and hardware come together to allow this but a few that stand out are the large, bright, responsive touch screens, the 45 motorised faders (all electronically labeled) as well as the very well laid out programming section,” says Small. “It also has advantages for us such as being able to handle the 13 universes we require onboard, without external processors, and having an inbuilt UPS backup power supply which enables us to quickly move the console around to different positions without needing to reboot.”
The Roundabout uses only the LEDs to light the performances, with no ‘regular’ fixtures. There are nine triangular roof panels, which surround a central pinnacle panel. Each triangle is packed with 9 RGBW (Red, Green, Blue, White) and 36 WW+CW (Warm White and Cool White) LEDs, and the centre circle carries 84 RGBW pixels and 108 WW+CW LED light sources.
“Programming such a large quantity of LED with a smaller console would mean that I had to page around different screens to see the information and grab hold of lights and manipulate them,” continues Small. “I also wouldn’t have had such a well spaced or fully populated programming section, meaning I would have needed more menus to get around. With the large screens on the Sapphire Touch, as well as having the option for two external ones, I’m able to layout one or two screen setups and not have to change them – I can see all the information I require at a glance significantly speeding up the process.”
When Small began working on the project, he realised he would need a number of modifications and customisations to the Avolites TITAN software to complement The Roundabout’s unique lighting.
“I spoke to Avolites Support to explain my requirements and they were a godsend – we made significant developments in Pixel Mapping to map the special LED layout at The Roundabout, and we modified the behavior of a few functions, adding more options for channel control or updating cues,” explains Small. “Avolites has been fantastic – they quickly made the changes so it became effortless to be able to lay out all 700 LEDs into the complex layout that is Roundabout. Working with the Avolites team was a dream come true – an office of developers listening to what you need a console to achieve for a unique project!”
With 168 seats arranged in the round, The Roundabout is an intimate, dynamic and socially democratic space. From the outset the design approach has been holistic. Conceived by Paines Plough’s artistic directors James Grieve and George Perrin, Roundabout has been designed and delivered by scenic designer Lucy Osborne, lighting designer Emma Chapman and specialist effects and lighting designer Howard Eaton, with technical and space planning consultation from Charcoalblue and acoustics consultation from Gillieron Scott Acoustic Design.