On June 14, 2006, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts opened its doors for the first time with an inaugural Gala Concert to christen the launch of Toronto’s newest opera house. Inside the world-class venue, patrons were entertained by the Canadian Opera Company along with many international opera stars. But outside, in Nathan Phillips Square, the concert was broadcast live. This creative night of outdoor opera was developed to bring the enjoyment of the arts to the general public. Designing the lighting for this creative night of outdoor opera was Lighting Designer/Director Jason Jennings, and by his side was the Marquee® ILC lighting control console from Entertainment Technology.

With a complete lighting rig supplied by Martin Kelley of Christie Lites, Jennings was hoping to solidify his equipment list with a back-up console to use during the outdoor event. For this, he approached Marc Ford, Theatrical Rentals Coordinator of William F. White International.

“We have had the Marquee consoles for about five months,” said Ford. “We purchased them to replace our Virtuoso consoles, as we are working to introduce them into the film market for moving and conventional lights. Jason had heard of the Marquee ILC and so I gave him a general overview. When he heard that Robert Bell designed the Marquee software, he requested that we bring Rob in for a one-on-one demonstration. He felt this would create a faster learning process.”

William F. White had previously brought in Bell to conduct training sessions on the Marquee consoles for groups of operators. But based upon the reputation of Jennings in the lighting industry, Ford made the one-on-one demonstration happen.

Ford continued, “When Jason and Rob got together, they instantly began to feed off of one another’s energy and expertise. It was fun to watch."
During the demonstration, Jennings began to show Bell how there might be some effects engine updates that could be very useful to the film industry. And so, with Jennings and Bell working together in Toronto, the Marquee software team began building the requested effects engines. The effects updates were completed and uploaded in only three days.

“Jason was extremely impressed by the support from Robert and the software team,” concluded Ford. “So now, he wanted to use the console for the grand opening event at Nathan Phillips Square, not as a back-up, but as his primary console, so we replaced the Grand MA with a Marquee ILC.”

“I was all set to go with a grandMA on the show, but after working on the Marquee ILC, it was an easy switch,” stated Jennings. “It has a very user-friendly, and ergonomic designed layout. The operating system is impressive, and more importantly, has a simple learning curve. It’s more PC-based than other controllers making it easy to understand for those not familiar with the more complex operating systems because the computer integrates completely with the Marquee software soft keys. Everything from the patch to programming time-coded cues took me about 10 minutes to figure out, I was very impressed. The software team had obviously spent a lot of time researching and communicating with programmers to make sure the console did what we all needed it to do.”

Jennings continued “The offline editor and the main controller are very similar, which also makes it easier to learn. The software is very accessible. It’s inexpensive compared to other consoles with the same capabilities. As soon as Rob pulled out his touchscreen monitor and hooked it up, I knew this was going to be more than I’d expected.”

With the Marquee ILC in place, Jennings began the outdoor set-up for the Gala Concert video feed. The load-in, light hang, and focus began at 6 p.m., lasting until just after midnight. And now it was time to program. The trick would be to get the IATSE programmer, who had never seen the console before, comfortable with the Marquee ILC in a timely fashion, as time was a valuable commodity.

“Lars, our IATSE programmer, having never even touched the board before, was programming the show within 5 minutes,” said Jennings. “It’s literally that quick and easy to learn.

The lighting crew completed their tasks at 3 a.m., and then returned for the show at 6 p.m., for a 7:30 p.m. show time. The Marquee ILC was ready to go, operating with two universes of DMX512 and 912 control channels, controlling both automated and conventional lighting fixtures.

Jennings went on to state, “We were providing the outdoor ambience allowing the public outside to experience the Gala atmosphere taking place inside. So it was a lot of effects in the city block courtyard, and colors on the city hall buildings that are 25 stories high. As the sun began to set, the lighting became more prominent, and the true beauty of the outdoor event became evident.”

Ford added, “The whole night turned out to be a bigger and better project than we could have imagined. The console handled everything perfectly. It’s simply a great console.”

Jennings concluded, “The Marquee ILC gave us a great performance during the show. I do a lot of training throughout Canada on a number of different consoles, and the more time I spent with the Marquee ILC, the more I enjoyed it. I will absolutely use it again. It’s perfect for all applications including, theatre, film, corporate, television, special event you name it, the Marquee ILC can handle it.”