A quiet revolution has been taking place behind the scenes on Broadway. An increasing number of lighting designers are choosing ETC’s Eos desk to control huge rigs of conventional, LED and moving lights for the largest shows. Currently, Eos-family desks run the lights on more than three-quarters of Broadway shows… and counting.
Broadway’s Bring It On is an energetic, acrobatic musical that gives a glimpse into the world of high school cheerleading. It features all the gravity-defying basket tosses, towering pyramids, and high-flying tumbling of a pep rally. The show’s high-impact, high-octane lighting design is also a highly ambitious endeavor. It features 29 DMX universes, more than 350 moving lights and nearly 1000 LED fixtures, including six ETC Selador Desire Ice™ luminaires. An ETC Eos control board is at the head of the massive lighting system.
“People are surprised that we have a show this size on Eos,” says Bring It On Lighting Programmer Tim Rogers. Lighting Designer Jason Lyons agrees: “Every time I talk about it with people, they doubt that Eos can handle it, because they’ve only known Eos as a theater desk. But it’s really a moving-light console. We can put everything on one desk, so programmers aren’t working from different consoles. Eos gives us the ability to eliminate the two-console system, making everything tighter and cleaner.” Eos also allows them to use MIDI to trigger the watch-out video server to control four video screens.
Bring It On’s lighting plot includes a grid of LED fixtures covering the back- and sidewalls that is used at times to replicate stadium lighting. The show was used as a beta test for the pixel-mapping feature on Eos, and the lighting team used this feature to map the entire stage. “Pixel mapping led us to where the show needed to go,” says Lyons, “because it allowed us to think differently about how we could light. The director enjoyed it because he could suggest things and see them right away on stage. If something needed to be changed, we could push it out immediately, while instantaneously backing it up on the show file. We never had to deal with content structure, which was really helpful. Even if you’re just dealing with a strip of LEDs, it’s an easy way to do effects. If you want just a sweep of lights, you can say ‘here’s my block of lights’ and move it left to right. Writing an explosion that starts in the center and moves outward is easier. Before you’d need to program it all as a chase and now you can just set it up on pixel mapping. As this show was being built, we had a lot of questions about how the pixel mapping would work, but it all came together.”
“Since Bring It On, I’ve been using pixel mapping on everything, even a simple cyc,” explains Rogers. Whether I think I’ll use it or not, I set it up, and so far I always end up using it.”
“With Eos,” describes Lyons, “we weren’t tied into pixel mapping or effects, but could do both. We can use the same effects we use on moving lights on pixel mapping. We can have video playing and move it around and do zoom, pan and tilt effects.”
Despite the size and complexity of the lighting system, Eos made programming and touring a breeze. “Everyone was nervous about the time it would take to load in and focus so many fixtures,” says Rogers. “Between all of the planning and how we were able to organize the show on Eos, everything was quick and came together flawlessly.”
“There are a lot of specific focuses in the show,” continues Lyons. “We loaded the show on the desk and everything went to cue and was perfect. It was amazing that all the focus information was perfect in the show file. Everything had to be updated quickly, and Eos allowed us to do that cleanly and quickly.”
Lyons attributes the success of Eos to the fact that it speaks the language of lighting designers: “Sometimes console developers understand what a console needs to do, but not what it’s like to be in the hot seat. With the Eos console, ETC understands what the best way to get from A to B is because they’ve been there with us for years. A lot of attention has been paid to the people who use the systems.”
In addition to its great feature-set, Eos is also backed up by ETC’s renowned service. Says Rogers: “I haven’t worried about anything, because I always have support. No matter where I am in the world, I can always call and get help. For Bring It On, ETC has been quick to help us out. There was a fix or help right away.”
Lyons has been using Eos-family control boards almost exclusively for the last six years, including on Broadway and regional tryouts such as Rock of Ages, White Noise, and Toxic Avenger. “A console is a programmer’s tool,” says Rogers, “and for these shows, it was the right tool for the job.”
“Eos is not just viable, but good. It doesn’t just handle a show, it goes above and beyond,” says Lyons. “It can take anything we throw at it. This time, we threw a huge show at Eos and it performed flawlessly.”
Bring It On first hit the stage to rave reviews in Atlanta, and then opened on Broadway at the St. James Theater in August. After the show closes on December 30th, 2012, the crew will pack their gear up to go on tour.