Before starting the busiest section of the year, the annual HE Festival (Higher Education Festival), the Sue Townsend Theatre under goes a bit of maintenance. Part of that is time for the second year students (Who act as the designers for the shows) to request changes to the lighting rig. This year there were only a few changes that needed to be made, mainly adding a three colour Cyc wash, moving a few Mac 700 Profiles and refocusing. However, whilst all of this was taking place, the theatres patch was cleared, organised and re-done.
Originally, the theatre followed a ‘patch where-ever is free’ system, however, this quickly becomes problematic when using a one to one patch on the desk. As such we took the opportunity to base the patch on the dimmers phasing. This allows us to keep the phase’s separate and easy to see, whilst also giving us a structure to work with. As such, it was necessary to find out exactly how the dimmers phase. This meant digging out manuals for our old dimmers, comprising of three Strand SMT 20 racks, a Permus 24 rack and two ACT 6 dimmers. To accompany this, I referenced the building’s own documentation, some of which dated back to 1994. The most useful of this was the report from Stage Electrics which shows the exact dimmer phasing for the entire system.
Next up was to mark up all of the phasing in a few places, first off we needed to mark it on the dimmers, then we need to mark up the patch panel. Below is a series of photos showing all of the new marking’s ready and waiting to begin patching.
Then, working from a hand drawn plan from the second years and the technical director, I began to patch from the most up stage bar, working down stage. Lights are mostly patched following the simple pattern, stage right to stage left. The only exception is when jumping to another address block was necessary to ensure that the phase remained the same.
Next up was testing, flashing and fixing. We started by glowing the entire rig at a low intensity and moving the moving lights around. This ensured that all of the movers had power and allowed us to easily and visibly see exactly what fixtures were working. Then, we slowly made our way around the rig, fixing broken fixtures and focusing as we go. This involved a few PAR Lamp changes and the odd dimmer fuse changing. This worked until we discovered a fault with one of our dimmers (#25 – B.5) and had to re-patch a single fixture to a different address block.
When we were finished, we were left with a working, mostly neat patch, that followed simple phasing rules. Below is the finalised patch.
As the first image shows, the entire Non Dim patch is labelled with what fixture is on the end of it. This allows for a Non Dim to be easily added or pulled and allows for a tech to make the decision of where to put a new fixture based on whats already on the circuit, for example, adding the fixture to the circuit with the mirror ball would make sense as that circuit will have a lower demand compared to any other circuit.
The patch will always remain a dynamic and fluid part of lighting, however, for now, it is neat and clean. Part 2 will contain all of the paper work for the new rig and details of it in it’s final form, as there are still a few fixture’s to put up.