Canberra Theatre Centre Upgrades to GDS ArcSystem

Canberra Theatre Centre is Canberra’s premier performing arts venue comprising of the 1,240 seat Canberra Theatre, The Playhouse seating 614 and The Courtyard Studio, an intimate rehearsal and performance space that seats up to 92 patrons.

The Canberra Theatre and The Playhouse were in need of new house lighting systems and so a tender was released that was won by local Sound and Lighting Specialists Sound Advice, who have extensive experience in architectural and theatrical lighting projects.

“The Canberra Theatre’s existing system had really, really old Strand dimmers, dimming PAR38 lamps flown in what were arguably acoustic panels at one point,” said Norman Korte, Managing Director at Sound Advice. “They were similar to a fibreglass rectangular cloud hanging above the seating and due to access issues, the lights in them were difficult to reach. So each of the downlights had a lid which was attached to a piece of rope and a conduit with a very large hook on it.”

Andrew Tweedie, head electrician at the venue, wanted a solution that provided a warm colour temperature of 2700°K as well as a completely smooth dimming curve as he wanted to be able to produce nice long fades down to zero. Andrew was also eager to retain the look and feel of tungsten but was interested in the economic benefits of modern LED fixtures in the theatres.

Consequently, Norman demonstrated the GDS ArcSystem of overhead LED products designed for installations where dimming, light quality, high colour rendering and ease of installation are absolutely essential. “I showed them how beautifully the ArcSystem dims with perfectly smooth dimming from 100% down to absolute zero and they approved it for both theatres,” he remarked. “We supplied a cabled DMX solution to each theatre as Andrew Tweedie did not want to use the in–built wireless technology.”

ArcSystem luminaires come in in a variety of form factors, beam angles and colour-temperature options, all with high-efficiency optics and an outstanding quality of light ideal for any application. In The Playhouse, 18 x ArcSystem Pro Four-Cell Pendants were mounted one for one in the old locations on the lighting bridges.

In The Canberra Theatre, 94 x ArcSystem Pro One-Cell luminaires were installed to provide high-quality light and smooth dimming with noiseless operation. These single, circular fixtures were installed into the lower ceiling areas. Due to the height in the Canberra Playhouse, the existing downlight luminaires were replaced with Four Cell Round luminaires mounted to the stage lighting catwalks and the smaller One Cell luminaires for the Level 2 seating.

“In that space there are also some legacy incandescent battens that backlight wash all the seating levels in the tiered venue and, at this point there is no LED replacement for them,” began Norman. “So we’ve used an ETC DRd Power Control solution including ETC Paradigm dimmers to run all the legacy battens.”

Each Theatre uses the ETC Paradigm Control system including the touchscreen in a table top kit with fly cable to allow operators to place it where they want in the control room. Multiple pages and scenes were created on the touch screens include a custom GUI interface to enable the operators to vary fade times to suit. ETC button plates allow for simple recall of selected presets from locations such as Stage Manager, House Manager and strategic door and cleaner locations.

DMX distribution throughout the spaces is provided via previously installed Pathway Connectivity Pathport Switches and Nodes which enable the existing ETC Gio consoles to talk directly to the house lighting universes as required.