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Archive for Month: July 2019

Attero Tech launches Axon A4FLEX AVC interface for huddle rooms

Attero Tech has introduced the Axon A4FLEX networked AVC interface. Combining four studio-grade microphone preamps, logic I/O, a USB audio interface, and a two-channel power amplifier in a 1/3U form factor, the A4FLEX is suitable for huddle rooms. When paired with an enterprise DSP, the A4FLEX can be the only in-room interface needed for larger conference spaces.

The Axon A4FLEX can be powered over the network by PoE+ or locally using an optional +24 VDC power supply. The A4FLEX’s two Ethernet ports can be used to daisy-chain multiple units. Alternatively, the second Ethernet port can be set up to provide a control system interface in which the control system has complete access to the audio network but all non-control-related traffic is suppressed on the control port.

The unit’s audio signal processing includes input and output EQ, matrix mixing, and dynamics control. The AES67 network audio interface supports 8-in by 8-out, so when multiple A4FLEX’s are used in a room, much of the signal processing and routing usually done in the main DSP can be handled locally, freeing up DSP resources.

Included mounting ears enable under-table use, and a 1U rack shelf is optionally available for cleanly rack-mounting up to three A4FLEXs.

ApexPro Demonstration at the Fugard Theatre

Earlier this year, High End Systems launched a new addition to its family of automated framing fixtures – the SolaFrame 1000. ApexPro, the South African distributor of ETC lighting solutions, demonstrated the unit just weeks later in Johannesburg. Now, Cape Town has also had a chance to view the units in action, at a demonstration held at the Studio of the Fugard Theatre.

High End Systems was acquired by ETC two years ago, and we are seeing the early fruits of that union. Mathew Lewis, ETC product manager at ApexPro, tells us that “the first fixture that was conceptualised, developed, produced and released with those two research-and-development teams together is the SolaFrame 1000.”

“It’s the first fixture to mix the DNA of the two companies: the theatrical DNA of ETC and the rock n’ roll DNA of High End. The result is a really beautiful light that can do almost anything.”

Indeed the SolaFrame 1000 is an impressive beast. Boasting a 20’000 lumen output, a 470 Watt LED chip, full framing shutters, rotating and fixed gobo wheels, multiple colour systems, 12° – 40° zoom, animation effects “plus all the bells and whistles required by the modern LD,” the SolaFrame lives up to the rep. Lighting students and professionals alike gazed in wonder at what the fixture is capable of, particularly the strong, beautiful colours.

Available in Ultra-Bright and High CRI versions, the SolaFrame 1000 ships with a TM30 Filter that boosts the Ultra-Bright engine to 85+ CRI. Other features include Iris and Light Frost, Rotating Prism and High End Systems’ patented Lens Defogger System.

Also on display was the SolaFrame 750, the most compact framing fixture in the Sola Series family of automated tools. Featuring a compact footprint but a huge feature set, SolaFrame 750 is a perfect fit for smaller to medium-sized venues, and its 11’300 lumens can easily cut through the competition. With 6° – 50° degree zoom, a 270 Watt LED chip, rotating gobo wheel plus fully continuous animation and much, much more, SolaFrame 750 offers the widest array of effects currently available in a fixture of its size.

With all of this on offer, the SolaFrame series is ideal for the rental market.

“From a rental company’s perspective, they need something that can go and be an effect light in a corporate day, and then they need something that can do a theatrical show the next day. The problem has always been that you’ve then had to buy a beam light, a spotlight and a wash light… The idea behind the SolaFrame family is that it can be all of those in one. It can be a true, workhorse light.”

Also at the demonstration was the Source Four LED Series 2 Lustr, as well as the ColorSource fixtures. Using ETC’s x7 Color System, the Lustr combines a balance of up to seven colours to create evocative colour mixes that can use the full spectrum. A theatre was the perfect setting to view its capabilities, as, in Lewis’ words: “ETC’s heritage is theatre, so everything they do is really dedicated to being practical for a theatre environment.”

 “When the LED revolution hit, the colours wouldn’t always match, or there would be the dreaded flickering when you took it down to ten percent. ETC took their time coming out with their own LED offering, but when they did, what we have is a very high quality fixture.”

If you would like to know more about any of the above fixtures or book a demo, please contact Mathew Lewis at mathew@apexpro.co.za

ApexPro invites you to ETC EOS Family Console Training

Award-winning color tools. Advanced, granular control. From large-scale theatre to television, opera and dance, to academic, experimental and multipurpose venues, the Eos Family provides a sophisticated environment that feels like home.

Join us on 30 & 31 July for a 2 day course presented by SA ETC brand manager, Mathew Lewis. Please RSVP to rsvp@apexpro.co.za

Going for Gold

While a new Chinese sports centre is providing a platform to take Olympic events to a new level, its Electro-Voice sound systems are doing the same for audio. Caroline Moss reports from Suzhou:

The Chinese city of Suzhou is known more for its traditional gardens, nine of which have UNESCO world heritage status, than for its sporting facilities. However, the new Olympic Sports Centre could be set to change that. The sports centre, designed as a new city landmark, is based in a zone built to consolidate all of Suzhou’s sporting facilities in one new area, including the existing stadium which will be relocated from downtown. Sound systems for the sports centre’s three main venues, some of which will also stage music events, have been provided by Bosch China.

Built to a design by German architectural practice, Gerkan, Marg and Partners, the Suzhou Olympic Sports Centre takes its cue from the Chinese landscape gardens that populate the city. A 47-hectare, publicly accessible landscaped park accommodates extensive sporting facilities as well as offices and a shopping mall. The three main sporting facilities – a 45,000-capacity stadium, indoor arena and aquatic centre – have been equipped by Bosch in a tender that was won by Hangzhou Tianlong Audio. According to the brief, all three venues had to meet the most stringent of standards to ensure the project got top ranking among Chinese sports facilities and is able to host international sporting competitions and other events.

Xianghua Zhou is one of the proprietors of the systems integration company, which is based in the nearby city of Hangzhou. Sporting facilities are becoming a bit of a speciality for the company, which recently completed work on the Shanghai International Circuit, the venue for the annual Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix. Hangzhou Tianlong Audio was employed on the Suzhou project as a subcontractor, working for the main contractor to provide and install the audio systems.

The main structures of the buildings were already in place when Zhou and his team started work in the summer of 2017. This included the stadium, which has the distinction of being constructed with the first single-skin steel cable network roof in China. While the visual aspect of this roof gives the stadium a distinctive and striking look, the practicalities of flying a powerful sound system from it presented some specific challenges. There wasn’t much that could be done about movement in the roof caused by heavy winds, which can add a swing range of up to 1.5m, but the effects of other extreme weather conditions have been mitigated by the installation of Electro-Voice EVH weather-resistant speakers which have been mounted on the lip of the roof. The speakers have been supplied in white, so the aesthetic qualities of the stadium roof have not been spoiled in any way.

However, the main challenge thrown up by the special roof was that it wasn’t capable of bearing very heavy loads. This caused problems, as the tender specified that all speakers should be capable of being derigged for maintenance at any time. Hangzhou Tianlong Audio worked closely with the Bosch team to come up with a solution for this. Their first design included lifting mechanisms to be flown at each point, but this would have added too much weight to the structure. The company played around with the design, changing it many times before finally hitting on an ingenious solution: they would design their own piece of lifting equipment that operates from the ground. Two such systems have been built and supplied, allowing the loudspeakers to be lowered to the ground by means of a motorised winding engine and raised back up on wire cables wound around a winch. This method of installation was inspired by the London 2012 Olympic Stadium which, like Suzhou, has a cable-supported fabric membrane roof, covering approximately two thirds of the audience area. The London stadium is installed with Electro-Voice EVH speakers, which have also been used in Suzhou.

A total of 80 EVH-1152S full-range, horn-loaded speakers have been installed on 40 rigging points around the perimeter of the roof, in alternate groups of three and one; the trio of speakers covering the spectators in the stadium seats, and the single ones – 20 in total – projecting sound outwards onto the playing field. The system was designed using EASE prediction software. ‘The general acoustics of the stadium were very good, and there were no major problems,’ says Zhou, explaining that coverage is even throughout the entire audience area.

The entire system is being driven by Electro-Voice TG7 3500 w/ch amplifiers, with audio transmission throughout the stadium via Dante. Cables to each speaker have been run through the roof of the stadium from amp rooms on either side, and Zhou estimates that at least 20km of Cat-6 cabling has been used for the installation.

Up in the control room, the mixing console is a Stage Tec Auratus Platinum. During most sporting events held in the stadium, the console usually receives audio signals from TASCAM and Pioneer CD and DVD players in the control room rack playing recorded music, and announcements via Shure wireless mic systems consisting of UA844+SWB antenna distribution systems, UA874 active directional antenna, SLX24 and SM58 handheld mics and MX418 goosenecks. The stadium is mainly being used for football matches, and has become home to a local team. Additionally, and befitting its name, the Suzhou Olympic Sports Centre can also accommodate all the different Olympic sporting activities, with a track circling the stadium pitch for sports such as running, hurdling, jumping and throwing events. The stadium’s PA system, therefore, will find most of its use in providing background music and speech for sporting applications, with its secondary purpose being for emergency evacuation and other announcements.

When the stadium hosts rock concerts, however, as well as the protective covering that is applied to the pitch and the stage erected in the centre, the audio system is expanded with the addition of a portable Dynacord Cobra-2 compact line array system, which can cover the entire venue, working together with the installed system. This portable system has been used for a popular TV show, Running Man China. Large touring productions may often choose to bring in their own systems, however.

In one of the distinctive, curved buildings that makes up the sports centre is a gymnasium, or indoor arena, with 8,000 fixed seats that can be expanded with portable seats stored underneath them to accommodate a total of 13,000. This venue is approved for CBA (Chinese Basketball Association) league games, the first-tier professional basketball league in China, of which Suzhou boasts a local team, the Jiangsu Kentier Dragons. The gymnasium can also be used for other sports, such as badminton and curling.

According to CBA requirements, a cuboid LED screen has been installed in the centre of the gymnasium which can be raised and lowered. So, this presented the main challenge when it came to installing the Electro-Voice X2-212/90 high-performance compact vertical line array system. ‘We needed to avoid hitting the LED screen but, by using EASE to predict the system design, this was a straightforward job,’ says Zhou.

A total of 70 X2-212/90 speakers in black have been installed here, divided into six hangs of eight, and two of 11, both flown in the centre of each of the long sides of the gymnasium, where they can focus more energy on the VIP seating areas.

This venue can also be used for musical events – a recent Jacky Cheung concert was held here – with a stage erected at one of the shorter sides of the gymnasium, above which a lighting rig has been fixed. Again, the sports centre’s portable system can be deployed here if necessary, but, quite often, supplementary equipment will be brought in by the production itself. However, Zhou is impressed with the capabilities of the installed Electro-Voice system. ‘For concerts, you definitely need to add subs in here of course, but this model is compact and powerful and has a very good performance at the low end,’ he says.

Amp rooms on each of the long sides of the venue are installed with Electro-Voice TG7 3500 w/ch amplifiers, and again the signal is transmitted via Dante. Up in the control room is a further Stage Tec Auratus console, while a Shure radio mic system is in use here as well.

Over in the 3,000-seat aquatic centre, which houses two swimming pools, two separate speaker systems have been installed, one for spectators and the other for the swimmers competing in the main pool. ‘They put on water ballet in this pool, so they needed to have an underwater system,’ explains Zhou.

Six Electro-Voice UW30 underwater speakers in white have been installed along each of the long sides of the competition pool, 1.2m below the surface. Hangzhou Tianlong Audio constructed special boxes with a grid to contain these 12 speakers, which have been hardwired into the pool via conduits that run below the poolside and up into the amp rooms, and are networked via AES digital cabling. Electro-Voice claims that these speakers are able to offer a fast transmission speed underwater courtesy of the patented structural enclosure which acts as a sound transducer. This waterproof enclosure also ensures that no metal parts are exposed, increasing the longevity of the speaker and allowing it to operate in deep water.

The audience system for the competition pool consists of 20 Electro-Voice EVH-1152S weather-resistant speakers, which have again been supplied in white to meet the high standards required for the installation. A cluster of three of these has been flown in the centre of each of the long sides of the pool, facing downwards to cover the audience. To the right and left of these central clusters are two further clusters targeting the audience, each consisting of two EVH speakers, while single speakers at either side of these focus on the pool itself.

Up in the control room, all sound sources – mainly prerecorded music for swimming competitions and water ballet, plus announcements – are run from a DiGiCo S21 compact digital console, with a Yamaha MGP24X installed for backup. Again, a Shure radio mic system has been provided here.

Outside in the commercial plaza, an ice rink in the shopping mall is covered by a sound system of Dynacord VL Series loudspeakers, which plays music for the skaters.

With the addition of its new Olympic facilities, Suzhou’s ambition to develop a new sporting zone is well and truly off the starting blocks.

Article from: www.proavl-asia.com

ETC Prodigy Stage Machinery upgrades Musikhuset Aarhus in Denmark

The Rytmisk Sal of Musikhuset Aarhus, the largest music house in the Nordic region, has upgraded its stage machinery system with ETC’s Prodigy P2 hoist and QuickTouch+ 12 controller.

The popular culture and events house in Denmark draws over a million visitors each year for concerts, musicals, theatre shows, opera and much more. The building’s lighting and technical teams had been looking to renovate the rigging system in the Rytmisk Sal (or rhythmic hall), also known as the ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll hall’ in the music house.

Head of lighting at Musikhuset Aarhus, Ole Nielsen, came across ETC’s range of upper stage machinery products during a visit to the renowned ETC factory in Middleton, USA and was keen to find out more. He recommended the equipment to Head of production, Jonas Knive which lead to Atendi, the Danish distributor of ETC, being contacted to supply the equipment.

8 Prodigy P2 hoist systems were selected to upgrade the current system. “With the quantity of shows and productions held at the Musikhuset Aarhus, the challenge was fitting the installation into the busy schedule of the event house,” comments Jonas. There was just one time slot available, and the project was installed just three weeks after the quote request. The short turnaround was so fast it required delivering and converting the Prodigy P2 hoists held in European stock from their compression tube mounting arrangement into the variant that can be mounted vertically and suspended on the main beams.

“This is a perfect example of how Prodigy hoists adapt to suit any venue,” says ETC European Rigging Sales Manager, Enrico Nobile, “the P2 motorized winch unit can be used with compression tube to remove lateral loads on a building structure, to provide easy and free drop pulleys placement or without compression tube installed vertically or horizontally (above or below the grid) however the installation requires it.” The load feedback and the position control are supplied as a standard, together with all the safety features including: slack line detection, overload and underload, overcurrent protection, hard limits (2+2), load profiling and error log file to have a constant and complete hoist report.  

QuickTouch+ 12 control station offers users complete system control in an affordable and user-friendly package; the LCD screen offers a simple and quick view of all main parameters coming from the hoist system.

Jonas Knive comments: ‘Here at Musikhuset Aarhus we host over 1500 events a year across our 10 stages and 6 halls, which means time is always short. The simplicity of the ETC Prodigy system makes it much easier for us to accommodate the wishes of the visiting productions and dedicate more time to their needs.”

Join us for HOG 4 console training

High End Systems’ Hog consoles pioneered the world of large scale automated lighting control. They have enduring loyalty from programmers worldwide. The Hog 4 was built around the way you work, which leads to legendary ease of use. Its tools are designed for programming efficiency, which means even advanced features like pixel-mapping and plot layout are optimized for programming speed.

An extensive range of consoles and accessories designed for markets of all shapes and sizes, all Hog 4 products use the same intuitive and powerful Hog 4 operating system software for seamless compatibility and total control of your show. The Hog 4 OS has proven itself on the world’s most demanding shows – but it also scales to small clubs and theatres.

Join us for our HOG 4 console training with special guest, Michael Mayler from Germany. Space is limited, please contact mathew@apexpro.co.za to RSVP.

ETC Lights Sue the T. Rex: A Different Kind of Diva

Sue the T. Rex is the Lady Gaga of the dinosaur community. The magnificent murderbird (a favorite term to describe the T. Rex) has an often-hilarious Twitter feed, legions of adoring fans, and a brand new home in the Chicago Field Museum’s Griffin Halls of Evolving Planet. Lighting and AV presentation for Sue’s new home were designed by Lightswitch Chicago, using ETC and Xicato luminaires, and ETC controls.

Although the fossil is named after Sue Hendrickson, who discovered the skeleton in South Dakota in 1990, Sue the T.Rex may not even be female. (They use the pronouns they/them/their.) This is just one of the facts learned about Sue since their discovery and exhibition at the Field Museum in 2000.

Sue’s move to their own 5,000-square-foot area, The Griffin Halls of Evolving Planet, was completed months ahead of schedule to satisfy a clamoring public. Following a three-month prototyping phase to show the curators how Sue would be lit in their new quarters, the design team at Lightswitch Chicago produced a meticulously cued AV presentation worthy of the world’s most expensive ($8.7 million) fossil.

“Conservation of the delicate stones and resins is very important – Sue will receive about a quarter of the light, and none of the direct sunlight, they did before,” says Thatcher Waller, Senior Lighting Designer for Lightswitch Chicago.

The project called for the complex integration of control protocols and diverse fixture types including ETC Source Four LED Series 2 and ColorSource fixtures, as well as fixtures from another vendor, Xicato, that are wirelessly controlled using DMX over Bluetooth. System Integrator Ivan Jones expected a “sandstorm” but was pleasantly surprised. “ETC did special programming for the job. Chris Price wrote an entire new control module inside Mosaic to speak to Xicato. They handed me a product that worked – I never had to patch it.”

In fact, this is the world’s first execution of the interoperability between ETC Mosaic and Xicato Controls. “We believe interoperability between control systems is essential as we move into the IoT age of lighting,” says Ron Steen, VP of NA Specification Sales for Xicato. “Our open API has allowed ETC to harness the benefits of our system in concert with Paradigm and Mosaic.”

The Control Stream

The heart of the AV system is an ETC Mosaic controller playing an unusual role. “For Sue, Mosaic is acting as the switchboard instead of the commander.  It does not make a single decision on its own. It is being commanded by both Watchout and AMX. It provides feedback to AMX while acting as the integration point to Xicato wireless lighting and Paradigm,” explains Jones.

A Mosaic MSC1 controller handles all inbound commands, controls DMX lights related to Sue’s scenic lighting, and recalls presets in the Xicato Wireless Bluetooth lights. Mosaic accesses the Xicato Control network to recall scenes and fade the house lights up or down based on cues starting or ending the theatrical presentation.

The Xicato Control solution features a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) wireless protocol. Names, groups and scenes were set in the Xicato individually addressable modules. When asked about using DMX over Bluetooth, Waller merely replies “Why run a bunch control wires to all the fixtures if I don’t have to?”

ETC Paradigm handles all the white house lights that operate on standard relays or dimmers and also provides control stations for temporary override.

A Day in the Life

No longer free to roam the Badlands, Sue’s daily schedule is carefully regulated.

Their day begins in an overnight look. Most of the lighting in the space is off except for strategically-placed security lighting to allow safe path finding and camera illumination.

AMX starts the day with a TCP command telling Mosaic to go to the normal gallery look. Mosaic passes a message to Paradigm to go to the normal show presets. Then Mosaic’s instructions come from Watchout as TCP messages as it starts the multimedia show. Watchout will cycle through a series of commands that pull up various triggers as the show repeats every fifteen minutes.

At the end of the day, AMX instructs Mosaic to enter the gallery security look and tells Watchout to stop sending messages to Mosaic. The monotony of Sue’s life is broken by the occasional special event where they become the center of attention. This calls for a look with lots of party lighting, all under the watchful eye of Mosaic.

“The museum was concerned about allowing a color picker because it seemed likely that we would exceed the maximum light threshold for preservation,” explains Jones. “To ease their concerns, Mosaic automatically reduces the output to a safe level limit whenever a color picker command is received. When a normal preset is recalled, Mosaic automatically removes the intensity setback and resumes everyday functions.” 

Sue’s new home has been a huge hit with their legion of fans. Waller attributes the success of the exhibit to the way in which technology was used. “The use of theatrical fixtures control the focus on different parts of Sue, making them appear more life-like,” Waller shares. “We created drama through fixtures that excite the audience, encourage them to use their imaginations, and share the amazing story of Sue.”

ETC upgrades networking with Response Mk2 DMX Gateways

Modern luminaires and networked controls allow users to take lighting to more places than ever before. ETC’s new Response Mk2 DMX Gateways ensure DMX and RDM get there, too. The Response Mk2 DMX Gateways flawlessly translate DMX/RDM to and from sACN, allowing users to put control exactly where they need it – saving money and time.

Available in 1-, 2-, and 4-port models, Response Mk2 DMX Gateways provide DMX and RDM data distribution, taking advantage of the reliability and interoperability of industry-standard protocols such as ANSI E1.31 (sACN) and ANSI E1.20 (RDM). With wall-mount, portable, and DIN rail form factors, users can always find the perfect fit for your application. And every model – even the 1-port! – now features a crisp OLED screen and four-button interface to clearly display (and modify) configuration and status.

Response Mk2 DMX Gateways make it easy to deal with the headaches of networks, too. With increased processing, each Gateway can support 256 RDM devices. Plus, all Gateways can be monitored and configured from a central location with ETC’s powerful Concert software, letting users change network status and DMX/RDM settings. And when you want to be more hands-on, the easy user interface on each Gateway ensures you can configure it exactly as you want it – right at the Gateway itself. 

Response Mk2 DMX Gateways offer powerful integration into ETC’s Paradigm, Echo, or Mosaic architectural lighting control systems and of course they pair perfectly with ETC’s entertainment controls.

Something’s Brewing in Randburg

Take one of South Africa’s most dynamic television studios, mix it with a healthy expansion project, and throw in the need for cutting edge lighting infrastructure technology and what do you get? The answer is Urban Brew’s new Studio premises at Ferndale on Republic, formally known as Brightwater Commons.

When Urban Brew made the decision to move from their old home to their bright and shiny new one, they made the commitment to upgrade their Television Studio infrastructure and technology as well, with the explicit intention that it would put them ahead of any other Television studio complex of their kind in the country. Not only this, but the solution needed to be robust enough to serve them properly for at least the next 10 to 15 years.

When it came to the lighting portion of the project the logical solution was a control and networking infrastructure by ETC. Based on similar system architectures that have been employed at the BBC and Sky in the United Kingdom, the ETC system was designed to be able to control any studio from any control room. The initial phase of the installation incorporated Studios 1, 3, 6 and 9 which all came online during last year. Further expansion with new studios is planned throughout this year as well.

But having the right solution is only half of the equation. It still needs to be installed, commissioned and handed over and the tight deadlines on this project made that an even more pressing task. Taking on the challenge was Protea Technology who were awarded the tender for the entire project. To assist Protea with the lighting portion, Prosound was commissioned, the Prosound Projects and Installation Team was headed by David Butcher, David’s task was to oversee the lighting portion of the project which included no less than four studios’ worth of lighting control, networking infrastructure and power distribution.

A particularly interesting feature of the project was the idea that any Studio could be controlled from any Control room at any given time. This meant there was always going to be a heavy reliance on networked IP based systems running through a central switch. Hard-line DMX was not an option for the project and neither was placing bulky external processing units all around the complex. Fortunately, because ETC’s Eos family of consoles do all their processing on board, all that is then required is the distribution of that signal around the facility. For that there are the ETC Gateway Nodes which can be clamped to the overhead grid where they convert sACN signal to DMX before sending the signal along its way to the fixtures. That makes the rig versatile as you can have any port be any universe you choose, at any point in the rig you would like.

But the challenges didn’t stop there. Urban Brew’s fixture inventory represented a mix of LED, Tungsten and Halogen Moving Lights meaning simple dimmers were not going to cut it. The answer, once again, came from ETC in the form of their ColorSource ThruPower units which can switch between dimming, relay and constant current circuits, all via RDM or at the rack itself. Each studio was installed with 4 x ColorSource 24 circuit Wall units except for studio 9 which received 8 x ColorSource 24 circuit Wall units.

That’s a total of 480 circuits, across four studios and control rooms, each with their own console and over fifty gateway nodes to distribute DMX. It’s no wonder that David Butcher’s eyes tear up a little when you say the phrase ‘Urban Brew’ near him.

The Urban Brew Studios project represents a massive leap forward in the South African broadcasting space. It is the biggest installation of its kind outside of the SABC which was built in the 1970s. It is easily the most modern facility of its kind in the country and plays host to productions which range from the National Lottery Draw to YoTV and The Voice South Africa.

Clearly a facility of this calibre deserves nothing but the best. With their new ETC infrastructure, backed up by the potent partnership between Prosound and Protea Technology, they can rest assured that they’ve got exactly that.