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Philips Strand Lighting takes the Smith Auditorium to a new level of creativity
Batts AVL installs a complete system with the NEO lighting console, R21 Raceways, an A21 Dimming Cabinet, and PL Series LED luminaires
 
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
by Philips Strand Lighting

In many educational theater environments, students are often confronted with the challenges of learning their craft on outdated equipment. But every so often, a school district gets the opportunity to create a performance space filled with all the latest technologies available. At Denison High School, the newly created Smith Auditorium is one such case as Batts AVL was given the chance to install a completely new lighting system filled with lighting, dimming and control from Philips Strand Lighting.

“In the design of the new space, we were very fortunate to not only get what we needed, but also what we wanted,” began Amy Jordan, Denison High School Theater Arts Department Chair. “For the new Smith Auditorium, I wanted the students to have the most advanced lighting technologies so they could be best prepared to move onto careers in the theater industry once they graduate. Through a generous grant provided by the Smith Foundation, I really feel like our district went above and beyond to make that happen.”

With funding for the project in place, the school district called upon Batts AVL with whom they had developed a long relationship of trust. Understanding the end goal that the theater department had in mind, Batts AVL decided to install a complete lighting and controls system from Philips Strand Lighting that included the NEO lighting console, R21 Raceways, an A21 Dimming Cabinet, plus PL Series LED luminaires.

Jordan continued, “When looking at the console for the new space, I knew the limitations of our old board and how we wanted things to be controlled differently. Since we would be introducing quite a lot of LED intelligent lighting, it was imperative to find the right board that could not only run the new lighting system, but also not overwhelm the students at the same time.”

“Initially the NEO lighting control console wasn’t in the proposal, but as the project evolved and the NEO became available, we wanted to go ahead and install the latest console technology,” added Mark Batts, Batts AVL. “I personally love how easy NEO handles intelligent LED functions, and it’s much more intuitive than other consoles in organizing how you program these lighting technologies. In its control parameters, NEO is simply more expansive and it’s a very impressive product.”


The NEO lighting control console marks a new chapter in the evolution of control from Philips Strand Lighting giving operators the ability to grab, move, change color and motivate the lighting design simply and effectively through the inclusion of many timesaving features. Icons and Shutter controls are represented graphically on the display and Floating Windows allow the operator to configure their views their way making it easy to find information. Effects are also revolutionized with “Time Line” features allowing drag and drop to create that perfectly timed sequence, making NEO one of the most robust consoles available today.

“When I took the students into the booth to see the NEO for the first time, they were very eager to use it,” admitted Jordan. “They didn’t necessarily want me to tell them how to use it, they just wanted to get in and use it for themselves. The NEO is that simple, yet powerful. The shortcuts are extremely intuitive and it doesn’t take long to create extremely layered scenes.”

With the lighting control in place, Batts AVL also wanted to make sure that the Smith Auditorium had the latest in dimming technology as well saving both valuable building space and installation costs.

Batts explained, “In the facility, the combination of the R21 Raceways and the A21 Dimming Cabinet seemed like a no-brainer because we were able to completely eliminate the need for a dimming closet, and the wiring savings cost was pretty notable. The silent IGBT dimming allowed us to place the dimming in the performance area, but if we would have gone with a traditional dimming closet, we would have lost 100-200 square feet. In a new construction application where the value was approximately $100 per square foot, the A21 dimming cabinet and R21 Raceways literally saved us thousands of dollars.” 


Featuring quiet, convection-cooled IGBT dimming for low lamp noise and reliable operation, the R21 Raceway can have dimmed circuits for conventional luminaires or switched power for automated and LED lighting systems as well as data distribution throughout. A wide range of hangers are available for pipe mount and wall mount applications, and the powerful ShowNet Ethernet network allows easy integration of your entire lighting system.

Batts continued, “We have six R21 Raceways in the design with two in the catwalk and then four more on stage. The Raceways in the catwalk measure about 30 feet long, and the on stage Raceways each run about 48 feet long. All of the R21 Raceways have mixed circuitry to control the dimming of conventional, switching of LED and Intelligent fixtures, and I really love the convenience of the focus button that is located on the strips. Plus, if needed in the future, we can change out modules from conventional to LED or Intelligent at any time.”

Turning their attention to the LED lighting fixtures that would be used to light the Smith Auditorium and the myriad of performances that would take place on stage, Batts decided to go all out with a full LED system that included PLprofile4, PLprofile1, PLfresnel1, PLcyc1 and PL House Light luminaires to give the space a completely unique and impressive lighting system.

“In the Smith Auditorium, the LED lighting is supplemented with traditional ellipsoidals and fresnels throughout the house and on stage,” said Batts. “With the LED lighting, we needed to be able to color match with the traditional fixtures along with the automated luminaires, and the PLprofile4 with its tunable color temperature worked great.” 


Jordan agreed, “I’m a designer by nature and I love the intensity of color from our new LED lighting. They are providing us with a power and intensity of color that we just don’t get from traditional fixtures. We do a lot of isolated lighting, with pin spots and such, and the PLprofile4 luminaires work great for us doing exactly what we need. I also like to do deep colors with rich saturation and the LED colors really pop off the stage.”

“The performance for all the PL Series LED luminaires is fantastic,” added Batts. “The PLProfile4 is very bright and I don’t really feel that other manufacturers have done anything that gets up to its level. While the PLprofile1 and PLfresnel1 may not be a power house fixture in terms of intensity, they perform extremely well in the saturated colors giving the stage a deep color wash.”

The PLprofile1 LED luminaire is a variable beam profile that produces precise beam control and pattern projection from a high output beam. Available in 18-34° or 24-44° beam angles, the PLprofile1 delivers the performance of a 500 watt profile fixture with a maximum power consumption of only 150 watts. With almost infinite color choices from the RGBW engine and supporting color temperatures from 2700K to 5600K in white, the PLProfile1 LED delivers exceptional color and projection quality in a compact, robust luminaire.

The PLfresnel1 LED luminaire is renowned for its color rendering across the color spectrum, and also for its warm and cool whites. Delivering an adjustable beam with a soft edge that is easily blended with adjacent beams to provide an even wash across a stage, the PLfresnel1 creates no irritating color shadows, ensuring the fixtures are ideal for theatre, small studio, and display lighting applications.


Jordan continued, “With our cyc that measures approximately 50’ wide by 18’ tall, we like to do a lot of color mixing and blending between 2-3 colors layering texture and movement to give the designs more depth. The PLcyc1 luminaires have completely changed how we light our cyc and we no longer run out of gel, we just make the colors happen.”

“From the beginning we wanted the cyc lights to be an LED product in order to really achieve a deep color wash,” agreed Batts. “I really love the power consumption and performance of the PLcyc1 because what I used to have to do with many fixtures and gels that would consume thousands of watts, I can now do with only a few PLcyc1 luminaires. Plus, the savings in energy from heat loads, lamp replacements, and gel replacements is a big advantage to administrators.

A breakthrough in cyclorama lighting, the PLcyc1 LED luminaire delivers smooth and even color in a compact, light-weight design using only 120 watts to illuminate drops up to 16’ high. Each luminaire can replace the equivalent of a traditional 4-color, 500W Cyc lights and multiple units can be powered from a single circuit using our convenient Powercon cabling system along with standard DMX cables. 


Now wanting to give the theater space a whole new level of creativity, Batts also convinced the engineers on the project to install 110 PL House Lights, and the results were spectacular.

Jordan explained further, “The first time I saw the PL House Lights was during construction and I was very excited to see how our house could now become part of the production. We did a fall musical of Seussical and when the house starting rolling through colors, kids, parents, administrators and everyone else in the audience was staring in awe at the ceiling completely engaged and watching what the lights could do. It was awesome.” 


With the Smith Auditorium complete, the theater department at Denison High School, and the community surrounding them, now have a beautiful new performance environment that stands as a testament to both hard work and dedication.

Jordan concluded, “Through the grant funded by the Smith Foundation, we were really able to bring the Smith Auditorium to life with the lighting and controls from Philips Strand Lighting. We have now created a truly unique environment for not only the students but the community as a whole, but without Batts AVL the project would not have been as successful. They went above and beyond to make sure that the needs of the students and the program came first, and they truly were a driving force behind making everything happen.”


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