RC4 Wireless Dimming reports that 2005 was a record-breaking year worldwide for battery-powered wireless dimming in props, practicals, and mobile set pieces.

“We’ve been doing this since 1991 for some pretty high profile clients,” says James David Smith, president of RC4 Wireless, “but the decision to make ourselves more visible to the larger theatrical community was obviously a good one.”

In 2005 alone, the company sold systems to HIT Entertainment (Barney & Friends), Stage Holding of Spain (Victor, Victoria in Madrid), Hong Kong Repertory Theatre, two different productions by Cirque du Soleil (Mirage and Delirium), Roundabout Theatre Company (The Pajama Game), a Radio City touring production, and numerous repertory houses across the US and Canada, including the Indiana Repertory Theatre, Manitoba Theatre Centre, and Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Université Laval in Quebec City has added a large RC4 system to its Laboratory of New Technology in Image, Sound and Scenery (LANTISS).

In addition, both Hong Kong Repertory Theatre and HIT Entertainment initially purchased small RC4 systems, then expanded them later in the year. Arena Stage in Washington, who has been using predecessor RC3 technology for several years, upgraded to RC4 this year.

Smith is pleased with the response. “It’s very rewarding to put all this effort into something and have it pay off. We took the risk of delivering fewer channels with better performance--less data in a faster time, with more redundancy to ensure error-free operation. I felt that customers could really use a wireless light that was as close to flawless as possible. Put an RC4 lamp beside a wired lamp, and dim them up and down together. Rapidly flash them. Do whatever you want, and you will not be able to tell which is which. Our integrated radio-dimmers do what you expect, even better than expected. I’ve had customers call just to tell me that.”

For all the new business that RC4 has done in the past year, virtually nothing has come back for repair. “Repairs are so rare I can remember individual cases,” says Smith. “I had a 120V transmitter on tour in China get plugged into a 240V outlet [today, the new RC4-FlexTX accepts 85V – 265V]. I had someone put 120VAC through a 12VDC transceiver. A faulty batch of regulators made it out the door, so I had to recall five high-output units [RC4 paid all shipping expenses to correct the problem in 48 hours]. And that’s about it. I don’t think anyone could do better, honestly.”

RC4 customers agree. In a recent satisfaction survey, 90% of RC4 users responded immediately and positively about the product. “I’m sure the other 10% are happy too,” says Smith. “We just couldn’t reach them for the survey.”

This year, RC4 Wireless is promoting the MSS Motion Safety System, moving beyond lighting into wireless motor control and automation.

At the USITT Stage Expo in Louisville, March 2006, James David Smith will be a presenter in the Wireless Light and Motion seminar.