When Paris-based La Comedie Francaise, the oldest permanent theatre troupe in the west, needed modern show control for its traditional stage operations, it turned to Artabase to design a control system with Medialon at its core. Artabase is a new firm that specializes in providing technical solutions for theatrical presentations.

In La Comedie Francaise’s classic theatre, the scenic and decor elements are mobile, stored on upper and lower levels and manipulated by technicians located in the stage gallery and basement. The mobile decor elements consist of very big, heavy painted wood panels and other large objects suspended on mobile rails for fast moves. It’s the technicians’ job to move these decor elements in sync with the show performance.

The challenge for Medialon in this theatrical application was to be able to operate and monitor in real time a number of human resources from a central point in a simple, handy way. Because the theatre’s Richelieu control room is quite small, Artabase was also required to provide a technical solution using a single, 17" touchscreen. The resulting Medialon show-control system combines a simple, visual user interface with control tools and powerful task synchronization.

To communicate with the technicians silently LED lighting boxes were placed near each technician’s position. Each box contains three LEDs and an acknowledgment push button. Medialon Show Manager controls the boxes via regular DMX protocol.

During rehearsals as many as 60 technicians need to be "triggered" simultaneously so presets are created for all of the LED boxes following the storyboard of a particular show. By pressing relevant command buttons on his touchscreen, the Medialon operator can activate and monitor the LED status changes to set memories that will be recalled in sync during the live show.

When a performance is underway the first, red LED is used to confirm that the technician is present at his post before the cue to move the mobile decor arrives. The technician acknowledges his presence by pressing the button, which the Medialon operator monitors on screen. Next, the orange "intention" LED flashes to warn the technician that it will soon be time to act. At the precise moment to act the "top" green LED flashes, and the technician sends his mobile decor on stage.

In addition to this function, Medialon is also charged with controlling AV resources, such as DVD players and Matrix switchers, which will eventually be synched with the technicians’ operations according to the show storyboard.

Julien Ribes from Artabase handled the installation, which was designed by French consultant Patrice Bunaziet from Astell and Sophie Bourgeois, technical director of La Comedie Francaise.