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ETC gears up for Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2013

10 June 2013
by Phil Haldane , under Lighting products | | Stage lighting | Events | Hires


The annual Edinburgh Festival Fringe is always a busy time for lighting manufacturer ETC, and the company is already gearing up for this year’s event, with more lighting and control desks in use than ever before.

The festival, which runs each August, has almost 300 venues which can vary as widely as upstairs at a pub or a conference room to an otherwise disused store room and a shipping container in a car park. In addition to independently run venues, there are also companies such as Pleasance, which hires 21 rooms that are normally part of Edinburgh University’s student association.

This year, Pleasance has teamed up with dealer Black Light to install ETC lighting and control in every one of its spaces – including 26 ETC control desks. Pleasance’s head of lighting Dom Knight explains: “Our venues range from the 50-seat Cellar and Hut to our flagship Pleasance Grand, which seats up to 750. Each venue hosts about ten shows a day for 27 days and we had over 200 companies performing last year, during with, for the first time, we only used desks from ETC.

“We decided to install ETC control desks – a variety of SmartFades, Ions, a Gio and, for our biggest venue, an Eos – because they would be familiar to many of the incoming lighting operators, or, in the case of student operators, are very likely to be the type of desk they’ll end up working on when they finish their studies.”

Each year, staff from ETC visit the festival, offering training to the many operators who will be using ETC equipment, and ensuring everyone has all the support that they need. Because so many operators are needed, many will have never used a lighting desk before.

Continues Knight: “The great thing about having ETC staff on hand is that they can make sure everyone is up to speed working the equipment when we’re so busy getting everything else set up. The beauty of ETC consoles is that they are very easy to work with and troubleshoot, with no hidden shift keys or functions.”

One example of a new user at Pleasance is student David Johnson, using an Ion for the first time at the festival in 2012. He says: “I worked my way through some of ETC’s Tea Break Tutorial worksheets to help teach myself how to use the desk, and also had some training. This was my first experience working on theatre lighting, and while programming can seem intimidating at first, the Ion makes things really easy.”

Picture Caption: David Johnson used an ETC Ion for the first time at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2012
Picture credit: Digital Deluxe

Backlit keys
Yvette Sedgley, who worked on a Gio in the 150-seat Pleasance One, adds: “I’ve used an Ion before, but never something as advanced as this, and I love it. It was easy to use, and even enabled me to do some impressive effects. I learned it as I went along.

“What I particularly liked, when compared against other desks, was the backlit keys – I’ve found Littlites, which I’d otherwise have to use, can cause reflections on my glasses.”

Source Four LED for reduced heat
Two of the biggest problems for found venues such as those at Pleasance is the lack of available power and excess heat. Most of the venues are without air conditioning, and fans would be too noisy to use during the show. So cast, crew and audience all have to sit and sweat until the door can be opened to allow fresh air in.

“Last year, we installed ETC Source Four LED Lustr+ fixtures in our biggest venue, the Pleasance Grand,” says Knight. “They worked fantastically well, providing coverage which is as good as any conventional we’ve used, but at a fraction of the heat and power usage. And of course, with the colour changing possibilities, we added an extra layer of versatility for the incoming companies. We’re looking forward to using them again.”

Picture caption: ETC Source Four LED Lustr+ fixtures were installed in the 750-seat Pleasance Grand
Picture credit: Digital Deluxe