PTB installs versatile new ABD Twin Tech dimmers installed without disrupting theatre's performance programme
The London Coliseum Theatre - home to English National Opera and a London base for numerous visiting ballet companies - has just received a brand new, highly versatile production dimming system, installed by specialist entertainment electrical contractor Push The Button Ltd (PTB).
The new dimming system uses ADB's innovative, versatile Eurodim Twin Tech modular system that allows each way to be freely switched between being a dimmer and a true non-dim under software control; the ten racks, housing 894 3kW and 213 5kW DimSwitch modules, were installed over a five week period while performances continued un-interrupted on the Coliseum stage.
"We've been planning this project for a number of years," explains ENO's Head of Lighting, Kevin Sleep, "from the time our existing dimmers, installed less than ten years ago, started flashing randomly during a show we knew they had to go, and that we had to find a new system that was completely reliable, engineered for a long working life and neatly and carefully installed."
The ADB Eurodim Twin Tech with DimSwitch modules was chosen after long and detailed research by ENO. "They seemed to be able to dim anything," Sleep notes, "and the ability to switch from dimmer to true non-dim was invaluable for us with the moving lights, LED fixtures, HMIs and other assorted sources that appear in our shows. They also seemed to be rugged, well thought out and very well built." The new dimmers were supplied by White Light in London.
PTB was chosen to carry out the installation by ENO, based on "Nick Ewins of PTB's clear understanding that this was going to be a difficult project requiring careful planning plus the ability to adapt to the unexpected as things went along, since the state of the existing wiring was somewhat unknown," Sleep explains. "That ability to think on the spot turned out to be invaluable as soon as they removed the old racks and discovered cable coming into the dimmer room from completely unexpected directions, with long lengths looped up in piles."
The PTB team made the decision to re-do things properly rather than attempting half-measures. They first removed the existing racks, pulling out and identifying all of the existing cabling. The new racks were then brought in, this requiring careful planning to get them in through the dock early in the morning so as not to disturb the visiting ballet companies, then along a complex, tight route to the dimmer room.
With the racks installed, the PTB team fashioned new custom trunking around the top of each rack, creating chimneys that keep the rack's cooling fans clear to give unobstructed airflow while also providing new containment for the cabling. Both the mains cabling and dimmer wiring was then adapted to run neatly into the new installation.
"The changeover was challenging mainly because of the tight timescale," PTB's Nick Ewins explains. "Ideally we'd have had a little more time, but it wasn't available so we just worked to get everything done - ultimately even finding time to chase down some wiring faults that have existed since the previous installation was completed.
"Kevin Sleep knew exactly what he was looking for in a new dimming system, and spent a lot of time finding a system that satisfied those requirements," Ewins adds. "This is the first time we've worked with the ADB dimmers, but they're well designed, were easy to work with and give ENO a very powerful, flexible system. And the project was a delight because of all involved - we had great support from Kevin Sleep, from his project manager Ric Mountjoy, from everyone at ENO and White Light, and from Raph Janssens and his team at ADB."
"What Nick and the PTB team have achieved here is remarkable," Kevin Sleep comments. "It is a tribute to all of them that if the visiting dance companies who were in the theatre during the changeover hadn't been told what was going on, they would never have noticed that such a major project was underway. Our new installation looks beautiful and has performed flawlessly on its first production, a revival of La Bohème; we can already just feel that it will serve us well for a long time to come."
Further information about English National Opera and its award-winning productions can be found at www.eno.org.
The Coliseum project is just one of many undertaken by Push The Button. Other recent installations include new dimmers at London's Lyceum, Savoy and Royal Court Theatres and at the Birmingham Hippodrome, as well as projects at smaller venues and on cruise ships.
Further information about Push The Button can be found at www.ptb.uk.com.