Crowds have been flocking to California’s Pasadena Playhouse to see Ray Charles Live! before it heads to Broadway this year. The upbeat stage version of the hit movie is lit by a combined rig of conventional and moving lights, all controlled from ETC’s new Eos® system.
Lighting designer Don Holder chose Eos to control the entire rig in part because it allowed him to have only one lighting system. During technical rehearsals, one Eos was used to program the conventionals while a second Eos handled the automated and LED fixtures. Both desks were contributing to a single show file, using new partitioned control software that allows seamless discrete control by multiple programmers.
Eos product manager Anne Valentino says, “Each programmer worked completely independently, and when it came time to put everything on one desk, they simply turned partitioned control off, added an ‘execute’ command in the first cue of the main cue list, and the entire show was run off of one ‘go’ button on one desk. No show file merging was required—no external triggering source. Prior to this approach, shows would typically have a ‘conventional’ desk and a ‘moving light’ desk. Both of these boards also had some sort of backup hardware and it was all synchronized via MIDI during the show. Using just one system with multiple control inputs is a more effective solution.”
The design team for Ray Charles Live! all had experience with other ETC control consoles and were confident that Eos would be up for the task. Says Matt Cotter, the moving light programmer for the show, “With other consoles, you’re promised the world, but when it comes down to it, you find out it can’t do this, this, and this. That’s not the case with Eos. It was built from the ground up to handle mixed rigs, not as a conventional desk with moving light control added on, nor as a moving light desk with conventionals mixed in. And, even though the platform is quite new, it is very feature rich.”
At the Pasadena Playhouse, Eos seamlessly controls moving lights such as 11 Vari-Lite® 2000 spotlights, five Vari-Lite 1000AS, 275 LED Color Kinetics fixtures, four AutoYoke 10° lights, and more than 400 ETC Source Four® ellipsoidal fixtures and Source Four PARs, programmed into more than 1,000 lighting cues. The production demands a great deal of multilayered cueing.
There are many moments in the show calling for multiple LED and moving light effects, along with overlapping multipart conventional cues, all running simultaneously. The show features challenging lighting looks, with flashy music numbers, dramatic shafts of light, and pinpoint spots on individual characters instead of washes.
Eos does it all with head lighting designer Don Holder able to see every cue at the same time on his screens. “Having the ability to quickly edit cues on the fly during run-throughs and previews using two programmers and the partitioned control is incredibly helpful,” says Holder. “Cotter could continue to edit moving light and LED effects error-free despite the pace, while the other programmer executed all the ‘go’ commands and modified conventional levels. Given the limited amount of time we had to create the show, the ease and efficiency of constructing and editing cues with the Eos system was invaluable.”
Adds Cotter: “Eos blends the best of both worlds; it is truly the best ‘complete’ console out there. Because of the way Eos was designed, there is a lot of influence from many of the industry's best, thus making it a desk that both a seasoned moving light programmer and a beginner would be able to sit down at and feel comfortable with in a matter of moments.”
“I never felt that I was ‘up against a wall’ with the Eos system, as I’ve often felt with other consoles,” Holder notes. “We were able to achieve any programming result, no matter how complex. It was never necessary to reduce my expectations to accommodate the limitations of the console.”
Ray Charles Live! also features ETC Net3™ networking, two Net3™ RVIs (Remote Video Interfaces), DMX nodes, and ETC Sensor® dimming. All the ETC equipment for the show was provided by PRG Lighting in New Jersey and E-Ticket Programming in Orange County, California.