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Archive for March, 2017

Avolites Case Studies – Nitelites

23rd March, 2017

Leading UK audio and lighting company Nitelites is a real family affair.

 

The company was founded in 1983 by touring veteran and Newcastle native Jim Moore, who, after spending the 70s on the road with such global music stars as art-rock innovator Frank Zappa, San Francisco rockers Journey and blues star Chris Rea, set up Nitelites when settling with his young family in North Shields.

 

Thirty-four years later Nitelites is now run by Jim’s eldest son Jamie and youngest son Shaun, who came on board as director and head of lighting in 2011 alongside audio expert Andy Magee.

 

Under Jim’s stewardship, Nitelites’ reputation as a good, solid company working on local events in the North East evolved. When Jamie took over in 2005 he was keen to maintain Nitelites’ family-based ethos and associated high levels of customer service – whilst bringing with him a young man’s big ambitions for new clients.

 

“I took over when I was 21,” he says. “All the lads I was working with were a similar age – we loved doing local events but we wanted to go bigger! We wanted to do AC DC at St James’ Park!”

 

In just over a decade, Jamie turned the company into one of the UK’s most respected performance production specialists. Nitelites now designs, installs and operates cutting-edge, bespoke audio and lighting systems for clients across Europe and is a proud stockist of Avolites lighting control desks to the exclusion of other lighting console brands.

 

Recent clients of Nitelites include major music acts like electro duo Disclosure, Hold Back the River singer James Bay, Welsh rockers Catfish and the Bottlemen, alt rock band Nothing But Thieves and folk artist Frank Turner. Its strong rental arm leases the very latest kit to sound and lighting specialists across the country.

 

Running a core team of 14 and close to a hundred freelancers, Nitelites’ large, young and ambitious team is anchored at the helm by years of experience, total professionalism, a strong focus on training and a staunch family ethos. Its commitment to providing an opportunity for the local economy sees it regularly give talks and take part in apprenticeship schemes.

 

Nitelites shares this forward-looking, people-centric approach with its exclusive lighting console and dimmer product partner, Avolites. Both brands insist and thrive on dedicated and highly personalised customer service and staff progression.

 

“I’ve been using Avolites and dealing with them since I started out the in the lighting industry,” explains Shaun. “Technically, the brand is really innovative. Avolites consoles and software are developing every day – but, additionally, the team are always there to assist at any hour of the day or even just for a catch-up or call. My relationship with the Avolites team has grown into a close partnership. Their service is perfect.”

 

Nitelites recently designed and operated the lighting for a major tribute concert to the memory of late Geordie comedy legend Brendan Healey, using an Avolites Sapphire Touch and Tiger Touch II console.

 

Held at the Tyne Theatre and Opera House in Newcastle, the show was a mix of live comedy, bands, dance acts and theatrical performances – as well as some pre-recorded video footage.

 

With one day to programme and install the lighting, the team had to trust the speed and user-friendliness of the Avolites consoles. The result was fantastic– with the organisers expressing delight at the sophisticated lighting design and speed it was put together.

 

“I really like how much of Titan’s original, classic software still remains, but is regularly made much more powerful,” says Shaun. “It still has the same way of programming and operating, but with an increased ability to user define.”

 

Exercising Titan’s latest update Titan v10 Nitelites employed an Avolites Sapphire console with power distro and dimming provided by an Avolites ART 2000 at the recent 25th-anniversary party of pioneering Newcastle club night Shindig. The night was held at the city’s cult Warehouse 34 venue. German dance music icon and Ibiza stalwart Loco Dice headlined the six-hour bash.

 

“Each and every software update has a new feature to help lighting programmers,” says Shaun. “From starting a new show to modifying an old show or importing from other shows, it is all very straightforward. What’s more, the new Key Frame Shapes feature makes programming even faster for more complex lighting looks and effects.”

 

As for the future, Jamie has even greater ambitions for Nitelites, which he claims he is shortly to reveal. They will definitely, however, involve his company’s continued partnership with Avolites – as he and the team describe the lighting console brand as “the industry standard.”

Making the amazing beautiful: Philips Lighting controls spectacular new LED illumination at Niagara Falls

16th March, 2017

Philips Entertainment Lighting’s theatrical control system orchestrates nighttime illumination of natural wonder

Philips Lighting (Euronext Amsterdam ticker: LIGHT), a global leader in lighting, today announced that its control systems are managing the new stunning color illumination of the landmark 167 feet (50.9 m) high Niagara Falls, the world’s most famous waterfalls located on the border of both US and Canada.

The systems from Philips Entertainment Lighting form the center piece of the recently opened LED upgrade. Two Philips Strand Lighting NEO consoles, used widely in theatrical lighting, control 1,400 third-party color LED luminaires for the ‘Niagara Falls Illumination Enhancement Project.’  The luminaires, grouped in 350 controllable zones, enable lighting effects, such as sunrise, sunset and the Aurora Borealis, to be played on the 600,000 US gallons (271,247 liters) of water cascading over the falls every second.

The goal of the Niagara Falls Illumination Board is to enhance the visitor experience and gain energy efficiencies and longevity from the LED lighting. The $4 million upgrade of the previous Xenon lighting system will provide a 60% energy saving and the crisp, clear illumination will be up to 4-14 times brighter than the original system depending on which of the 18,000 available colors are projected. A consortium of companies implemented the project: ECCO Electric Ltd, Salex Inc, Mulvey & Banani Lighting Inc, Scenework and Stanley Electric. The illumination was unveiled to the public on December 1, 2016.

Colin Kavanagh, General Manager of Philips Entertainment Lighting, said “This was a challenging and ambitious project for one of the top 10 most visited tourist attractions in the world. The beautiful nighttime spectacle we helped create underlines the dependability and flexibility of our control systems and software to do more than just stage shows and concerts.” 

Why they chose Philips Strand Lighting NEO

“From the onset of the project we knew that we were going to need a robust theatrical lighting controller with an effects engine capable of producing the natural, fluid moments we desired,” said Alan McIntosh, Senior Lighting Designer at Mulvey and Banani Lighting.

Ron Foley of Scenework recommended the Philips Strand Lighting NEO consoles, “We knew the NEO would be the ideal control platform for the unique requirements of this monumental project. We required individual DMX control of the fixtures and a simple touch screen operator interface so that volunteer operators could manage the display without the need for training on the console.”

 

Philips Entertainment Lighting designed custom software features to further improve the efficiency and the ease of programming of the NEO console.

 “I was impressed with the custom ‘paint box’ program the developers added in for the project,” says McIntosh. “The simple but effective solution added dramatic trailing effects to some of the looks we designed. The software’s Channel Matrix system allowed the lighting plot to be laid out in exactly the same way on screen. This gave the team the ability to quickly select a particular area of the falls and adjust the color by drawing a window around them on the touchscreen.”

Avolites Arena is making headlines at Printworks London

14th March, 2017

An Avolites Arena console has been selected to control the custom designed, automated house rig on debut electronic dance music series ‘Issue 001’ at London’s new, experimental cultural hub ‘Printworks’. The 001 series sees some of the industry’s most progressive electronic dance music promoters including Junction 2, Melt Festival and Knee Deep host top and emerging dance music talent.

 

The Arena was selected and installed alongside the rest of the event’s lighting package by Poole-based lighting and rigging expert Wolf Lighting. The console is networked in the venue’s ‘crown jewel’ event space; a 16.8m high, 120m x 30m area dubbed ‘The Press Halls’ on account of the original printing presses that still flank its sides.

 

“There was never a question of not using an Avolites console for the Printworks project,” says Jonathan Oliver, director of Wolf Lighting. “We needed a console that could offer a wide range of live control options for each show. Lighting programmer and operator for the Printworks Issue 001 series, Jonny Godsmark, worked alongside me in selecting the Arena for its substantial, intuitive control surface, large touchscreen and audio input.”

 

The Arena is the latest lighting control console to be released by the British manufacturer and is currently providing Godsmark with full creative control for the 13 week Printworks run.  The console hosts two touchscreens, the second screen providing an additional workspace window and labelling the adjacent macro buttons and rotary pots. The fully assignable playback encoder pots allow Godsmark to intuitively control channels and effects during the live shows. The six LCD screens display electronic legends for 30 faders, providing access to pre-programmed playbacks, fixtures and palettes.

 

“For Printworks I wanted a console where I had access to as many control options as possible,” says Godsmark. “I have been an Avolites user for years and their consoles just keep getting better.”

 

For the Printworks shows Godsmark is making heavy use of the Key Frame Shapes feature, which allows designers and programmers to create spectacular lighting effects from scratch using pallets and tools such as transition curves, phase and spatial direction to craft the light.

 

“I have a huge amount of creative freedom on this project,” says Godsmark. “Because of the live and varying nature of the shows I do not always know what is going to happen next; trying to creatively balance this with expert control is a really enjoyable challenge.”

 

The Printworks project is managed by London Warehouse Events (LWE), an underground promoter and producer of events in unusual and disused spaces, and international festival producer Broadwick Live. 

 

“LWE is a long term client of Wolf Lighting,” explains Jonathan.  “For Printworks we worked closely with Loz Poulton, production manager at LWE, to put together a lighting package that would showcase the original and dramatic features of the venue, whilst playing to the incredible height of The Press Halls.”

 

Completing Printworks’ lighting control network is a backup Avolites Quartz console, the most compact of the brand’s control surfaces which still retains the formidable processing power and range of control options of its larger cousins.

 

“We chose to network up the Arena with the Quartz as our house technician, ‘Diggers’, wanted a console that would give him a full, seamless switchover should there be an issue or power loss at front of house,” explains Jonathan.

 

The Printworks Issue 001 series started on February 4th and will complete its run in April 2017; during this time it will host artists such as Nina Kraviz, Joy Orbison, Maribou State and Adam Beyer. Printworks is a temporary venue located in the Surrey Quays area of London. As well as hosting the Issue 001 music series the venue also hosts various art, culture, fashion and film events. For more information see http://printworkslondon.co.uk/

Avolites provides the perfect gospel ‘Experience’ in Nigeria

9th March, 2017

Two of Avolites’ most popular lighting control consoles, Sapphire Touch and Tiger Touch II, were selected to deliver the multi-layered, diverse lighting for 15 of the best gospel music ministers from around the world during Nigeria’s mammoth praise event ‘The Experience 11: Revealing Jesus’.

 

Reported to be ‘Africa’s largest concert’ with revellers upwards of 500,000, The Experience has been running since 2006 and is produced by vibrant, multi-ethnic church House on the Rock.

 

Stephen Davies of UK-based Subfrantic Production Services, longstanding technical supplier of the church’s London branch, has been involved with the gospel extravaganza for the past four years. Each year he selects Avolites to handle the increasingly large lighting concept.

 

“Choosing Avolites to deliver The Experience’s lighting is always an easy decision to make,” says Davies. “We have a long history with the brand and for every LD we work with it’s their primary choice of desk.”

 

One such lighting designer is Graham Roberts, who programmed the extensive looks for the event.

 

“Having a Sapphire Touch at FOH is always my first choice,” he says. “The dual touch screen allows quicker access to more pallets and media server controls. The addition of the motorised faders allowed allowed more playbacks to be utilised over pages, which meant I could make quick and unscripted changes even more easily.”

 

Roberts’ design featured more than 200 lighting fixtures, over half of which were powerful Claypaky moving heads. Using the advanced software features of the Avolites Sapphire Touch, he created a series of bold, bright and colourful looks that worked alongside the music to immerse the crowd in praise and celebration.

 

“The new features in Key Frame Shapes make programming shapes across multiple types of fixtures a lot easier,” says Roberts. “One addition that is great is the ability to add halo’s, which makes it easy to keep your programming looking neat and tidy. With each update the Titan software gets more and more feature rich, allowing me to create more intricate lighting designs, all whilst retaining the easy to use interface.”

 

As well as being impressed with the Titan software, Davies and Roberts commend the consoles’ ability to function in Nigera’s sweltering climate:

“An issue with Lagos is the excessive heat and 90% humidity, however we noticed that the upgraded touchscreens on the Sapphire Touch kept up with the changes in temperature and bright sunlight,” says Davies.

 

“The Experience is a truly unique event that Subfrantic is very proud to be a part of. It’s taken a lot of time and effort from a lot of people including ourselves, House on the Rock, and the local equipment suppliers to get to the point that it works as smoothly as it does, and having reliable equipment is an enormous part of that. Avolites consoles offer peace of mind in what is otherwise an incredibly stressful and hectic build and event. We wouldn’t consider using anything else.”

 

The Experience took place in Lagos’ Tafawa Balewa Square in December 2016 and saw performances from Don Moen, Frank Edwards, CeCe Winans, Donnie Mcclurkin, Tim Godfrey, Smokie Norful, Travis Greene, Chioma Jesus, Midnight Crew, Eno Michael, Micha Stampley, Segun Obe, Samsong, Tope Alabi, amongst others.

 

For more information on Subfrantic Production Services see www.subfrantic.com 

For further information on The Experience please see www.theexperiencelagos.com

Avolites Quartz creates magic for Wicked the Musical in Tasmania

7th March, 2017

One of Tasmania’s leading lighting designers, Gareth Kays, used an ultra-compact Quartz console from British manufacturer Avolites to programme the magical lighting and special effects on the Australian island state’s production of blockbuster Broadway musical Wicked. The show ran at Hobart’s Theatre Royal from 27 January to 11 February.

Featuring spectacular staging and a 17-piece orchestra, the musical was put on by local production company The Show Company. Kays was brought in to design and programme the entire lighting package. The owner of GK Productions, Tasmania’s premier performance technology consultancy, Kays controlled the show using an ultra-compact Avolites Quartz console running the latest Titan V10 software.

 

“There were a number of reasons that the Quartz console appealed to me,” explains Kays, who had invested in the console in 2016 from Australian distributor TLC Global. “Firstly, it doesn’t need to run on a laptop, which avoids Windows doing unwanted updates. It was super compact, but still had the full capabilities of Titan, and it was a lot quicker and neater than my existing set-up – which had a mountain of interconnecting cables. One of the great advantages of the Quartz is that it is available at a realistic price point for a fully featured professional console.”

 

For the Wicked production, Kays added an additional touch screen and the Avolites Titan Mobile Wing during the design and programming stages of the show.

 

“Adding the Titan Mobile Wing and touch-screen gave me more ‘real estate’ during the programming of the show,” he explains. “However the Quartz’s well designed, full-functionality meant that I could disconnect these when I moved to my operating position. I then used my remaining faders for a few ‘on the fly’ specials, some basic FOH washes for curtain calls and an array of fog machines located around the stage.”

Kays was faced with the challenge of limited programming time, he started plotting on a Monday afternoon, with the musical opening on the Friday. During this time there were five runs of the show, which further cut into an already limited time frame. He consequently had to adopt a highly efficient approach using pallets and programmed the entire show on a single cue list. The rig was spread across eight universes of data, conveyed via Art-Net.

Kays relied heavily on Titan V10s latest ‘Shape Tracking’ feature in cue lists – which allows designers advanced intuitive programming capabilities. The feature means that when creating a cue list that includes shapes, the shapes automatically track and follow the normal tracking rules. The ‘Playback View’ shows where they are blocked and tracked – meaning a designer has the option to block the shapes, preventing it from tracking to the next cue.

 

“It makes transitions in and out of shapes a breeze,” Kays says. “Titan is the best it’s ever been.”

 

Kays was first introduced to Avolites consoles 15 years ago, when he started working with Sapphire 2000s and Pearl 2000s. In his opinion, a key benefit of the Avolites Titan software is that it has retained the same intuitive, easy-to-use, interface over the years – while accruing increasingly powerful features.

 

Wicked is described by The New York Times as “the defining musical of the decade”, and is one of Broadway’s longest running and best-loved musicals. It tells the story of the Witches of Oz – Glinda the Good Witch and Elphaba the infamous Wicked Witch of the West. Based on a 1995 novel of the same name by New Yorker Gregory Maguire, it serves as a prequel to the classic children’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. It reveals the astounding happenings in the Emerald City before Dorothy and Toto were dropped there by a tornado.

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