Making its live performance debut, the new Bak Pak individual dimmer from Entertainment Technology graduated with highest honors. In the areas of silent operation, flexibility, reliability and performance, the Bak Pak dimmers received straight A's from lighting designer Bryan Duncan, who used nine Bak Pak units during Concordia College's (Moorhead, Minn.) production of Go-Go Beach.

There were two major scenic requirements for the musical tribute to the beach party movies from the 1960s--a beach and an ocean. Using the theater's hydraulic orchestra pit, scenic designer Eddy Barrows created a giant wave for the musical's great surfboard race. During the scene, a giant wave rises up out of the floor with four surfboards mounted in it. In order for the effect to work, the lighting within the movable orchestra pit had to be self-contained.

"At that point it was very fortuitous for us that Entertainment Technology introduced the Bak Pak individual dimmers," Duncan said. "It was the perfect solution at the right time."

The depth of the hydraulic lift unit was only nine feet, and additional Go-Go Beach cast members behind the wave took up one-third of the available space. Duncan and Barrows conceived custom-made wave rollers attached to a mirror-ball motor, which were then built by students. The rollers were wrapped with crinkled Mylar to reflect light and give the illusion of a wave roll as the orchestra pit rose up from the stage. All of the lighting within the movable unit was powered off of Bak Pak dimmers.

"The Bak Pak dimmers are small enough that we could mount them within the lift," Duncan said. "We just ran the power to them and away we went. We didn't have to worry about the dimmers failing. They rode up and down many times and got jostled around a bit, but there was never a single problem with them."

Nine of the silent IGBT Bak Pak units were used on the show on a variety of different conventional fixtures. Some were attached to 1200W Altman Econocyc fixtures and used at full power capacity. Others were used to power 750W Fresnels, Birdie MR16s, Gam Twinspins and ETC Source Fours. One of the Bak Pak dimmers was mounted to a truss-hung fixture in the lighting booth to power a gobo rotator. All of the fixtures were controlled by an Expression 3-400 console. The nine Bak Pak units were in operation for about 75 hours.

"One of the big reasons the Bak Pak dimmers were a great solution is that the audience was within two and a half feet of the fixtures and dimmers," Duncan explained. "We needed something that was silent, so we didn't get lamp hum or any other noise from the units."

The Bak Pak individual dimmers, like all Entertainment Technology products, are built with IGBT technology. They are completely solid state and operate without the use of chokes, therefore the dimmers do not produce any mechanical buzz or hum. That silence was especially critical for the show's opening sequence.

A false top was built to hide the hydraulic lift from the audience's view. At the start of the show, all of the lights went out and the music started. After 15 seconds of total darkness, the lights on the giant wave were turned on and the orchestra pit began to rise up out of the floor.

"When we turned on the lights inside this thing, you could hear the audible gasps from the audience," Duncan said. "Here's this giant wave that came up out the floor that no one knew was there. It couldn't have come off any better. We certainly couldn't have set it up the way we did without the Bak Pak dimmers."

About 200 fixtures total were used for the show, including three VL1000 automated luminaires from Entertainment Technology sister-company Vari-Lite.

Although Duncan didn't use any of the Bak Pak dimmer's eight pre-set feature effects during Go-Go Beach, he did experiment with the effects during his testing of the units. The feature he found most effective was the flame-flicker effect, which can be triggered remotely from any DMX512 control console.

"That's going to be a huge plus for those people who don't want to take the time or don't have the time to set up a flicker effect on the board," Duncan said. "I wish we had had the Bak Pak units a year ago. We had a student create a fire pit for a show we did, and I don't know how many hours she spent programming just six to eight lights to make a little flicker."

"It's a great unit and it definitely fills a niche," he continued, "It was the exact solution that was needed for my application. It's a great tool."