Entertainment Technology has introduced the Bak Pak, a single IGBT dimmer designed to mount onto a fixture's yoke. It's is a clever, convenient way to control a light where you do not have a dimmable circuit; you can add circuit capacity without the expenses of new load conduits and dimmer racks. It will have many application in situations without dimming systems, like churches, retail, and temporary locations. It certainly proved helpful at the Concordia College production of Go-Go Beach.

The Bak Pak is a compact, lightweight dimmer that attaches to conventional lighting fixtures, providing silent IGBT (Insulated Gate Bi-Polar Transistors) dimming. The module, available in 750W or 1,200W versions, operates using DMX. It is also functional using only 120- or 240V standard power for stand-alone applications where DMX isn't available. The standard IPS focus button appears on each dimmer, which saves set-up time and labor, letting you set a level for that unit and run on its own. The Bak Pak weighs less than 2lbs and mounts directly to existing lights, structures, or the wall. No special brackets or construction are required. The units fit virtually anywhere.

One of its first applications was at Concordia College, in Moorhead, MN, where LD Bryan Duncan used nine Bak Pak units during the production of Go-Go Beach. There were two major scenic requirements for this musical tribute to the beach party movie genre: a beach and an ocean. Using the theater's hydraulic orchestra pit lift, scenic designer Eddy Barrows created a giant wave for the opening and for a surfboard race in Act II. During the race, a giant wave rose out of the pit with four surfboards mounted in it. For the effect to work, the lighting in the movable orchestra pit had to be self-contained. “It was fortuitous that Entertainment Technology introduced the Bak Pak,” says Duncan.

The hydraulic lift unit was 9' deep, and additional cast members behind the wave took up a third of the available space. Duncan and Barrows conceived custom-made wave rollers attached to a mirror-ball motor. The rollers were wrapped with crinkled Mylar to reflect light and give the illusion of a wave roll as the orchestra pit rose up. All lighting in the pit was powered off of Bak Paks.

“The dimmers are small; we could mount them in the lift,” says Duncan. “We ran power and DMX to them and away we went. We didn't worry about them failing. They rode up and down many times and got jostled, but there was never a problem.” Actually, one unit lost its DMX address, because of a loose solder connection. During the show, the crew reset a new address and the unit performed.

Nine units were used on various conventional fixtures. Some were attached to 1,200W Altman EconoCyc fixtures. Others provided non-dim power for the Mylar wave reflectors, as well as dimming controls for 750W Fresnels, birdie MR16s, and ETC Source Fours. One Bak Pak was mounted to a truss-hung fixture in the lighting booth to power a GAM Products TwinSpin. An ETC Expression 3 console controlled all dimmers and fixtures. The units were in operation for about 75 hours.

“One reason the Bak Paks were great is that the audience was within 2.5' of the fixtures and dimmers,” Duncan says. “We needed something that was silent, so we didn't get lamp hum or any other noise from the units.” The solid-state individual dimmers operate without the use of chokes; therefore, the dimmers do not produce any mechanical buzz or hum.

This was particularly important for the opening scene. A false top hid the lift from audience view. The lights went out and the music started. After 15 seconds of total darkness, the lights revealed the giant wave as the orchestra pit began rose up. “When we turned on the lights inside it, you could hear the gasps from the audience,” Duncan says. “Here this giant wave came up out the floor that no one knew was there. We certainly couldn't have done it without the Bak Paks.”

Duncan didn't use any of the Bak Pak dimmer's eight pre-set feature effects, but he experimented with them while testing the units. He likes the flame/flicker effect, which can be triggered remotely from a DMX512 control console.

“It's a great unit and it definitely fills a niche,” he says, “It was the exact solution that was needed. It's a great tool.”