Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, is a small liberal arts college with a strong technical theatre program. For 15 years, Muhlenberg used ETCâ€™s ExpressionÂ®-family control consoles to handle their stage lighting. With a performance-heavy schedule, and tech students testing their lighting designs on a variety of shows, Muhlenberg has now graduated to ETCâ€™s new IonÂ®.
According to Muhlenbergâ€™s master electrician Paul Theisen, it took only a short time to acclimate to the new console. â€śWe were impressed with how quickly we were able to get the board up and running and how smoothly it was to transition into a tracking console,â€ť Theisen says. â€śOur students come to us with varying degrees of skill and interest in technical theatre. Any console we use canâ€™t intimidate new students, but should still have the power that advanced students and professional guest designers want. We need a console that can be as simple to use as sliding a submaster, or as complex as any production might demand.â€ť
In its first exam at Muhlenberg, Ion was used on a dance concert showcasing 10 student-choreographed pieces. The consoleâ€™s powerful control of automated fixtures allowed Muhlenberg to add moving lights and scrollers on the show. â€śWith two universes of DMX, we are able to control all of our conventional fixtures and still have more than enough DMX to control all the rented moving lights and scrollers weâ€™d ever want,â€ť adds Theisen.
Having Ion on the show meant a new level of production values: â€śThe ease in which we could control the moving lights and color changers made the board more flexible for me as a designer,â€ť says Theisen. â€śIt allowed me to try things I wouldnâ€™t have had the time to work out on our older console.â€ť
Ion features, such as its virtual encoders, make the programming phase easier. Color matching is also a breeze with Ionâ€™s unique color picker and swatch book. With tight changeover times between productions, speed is important. Notes Theisen: â€śThe built-in moving-light fixture library made short work of what used to be a complex patching sequence. I would recommend Ion to any school that is interested in providing their students with the ability to program and control moving lights, without having to face the learning curve of a traditional rock-and-roll moving-light console.â€ť
At only 19 inches wide, Ion offers another benefit for schools like Muhlenberg: it takes up minimal space in their smaller, student-jammed control rooms. â€śIts size is small enough that you could move it from venue to venue without much effort,â€ť concludes Theisen.