Tuesday, February 09, 2016

The Ellie Caulkins Opera House Gets a ‘Transplant’

Ellie Caulkins Opera House
Written by Marshall Bissett 

In a state better known for skiing, scenery and the Broncos, Colorado was once home to 46 opera houses, built to provide the mining communities with cultural enrichment. A few still remain, and the 2,500-seat Ellie Caulkins Opera House (locally known as the "Ellie") is a perfectly restored example, sitting inside the Performing Arts Complex in downtown Denver, playing host to touring roadshows and local productions.

Ellie Caulkins control centerDespite extensive front-of-house renovation from 2002 to 2005, the "grand old lady of opera" was burdened with an obsolete and often nonfunctioning lighting-control system. After generating enough paperwork to choke a horse (or perhaps a Bronco), the job of tearing out the old Strand SLD dimmers, network and console, and replacing it with ETC product fell to the team at Barbizon Light of the Rockies. "The bidding and proposal stage of jobs is getting longer and more complex," says General Manager Rick Loudenburg. "The paperwork and approvals took over a year, but we pulled off the installation in a month."

Although the fixtures and the conduits to the dimmer room were in place, the equipment 'transplant' provided some unique challenges. "In the old system, the load cables entered through the top of the dimmers and were not long enough to work with the vertical Sensor configuration," explains Project Manager Dan Obenhaus. Faced with the dilemma of lowering the bridge or raising the river, the design team came up with the ingenious answer in the form of vertically mounted passive-patch boxes.

Ellie Caulkins dimmer roomThe challenges did not end there, and - mindful of the difficulties the building had experienced in the past - the new system had to include a high level of redundancy. "It was definitely belt and suspenders," adds Loudenburg. "We created a spanning tree loop for the signal path with switches at stage left and right, in the dimmer room and at followspot positions. Every system has a point of failure, but in this case, it would be hard to find." For added security, color-coded jacks were used whenever possible.

With over 700 dimmers, two Eos Ti® consoles and an RPU , there is enough horsepower to take care of the needs of the Colorado Opera and Ballet companies and the roadshows that pass through. Facility Production Manager Mark Gabriel Debell adds: "At some point, we might look at LED striplights, but for now, the ETC Source Fours are working just fine."

Cost overruns and unforeseen technical glitches can quickly turn any big installation job into a nightmare, and the team at Barbizon hates surprises. "We plan down to the last detail, and write a timeline showing when every bit of gear will arrive," says Obenhaus. It all went to create a very happy end-user. "Barbizon took a big leap of faith on this project, and it went crazy-smooth. We now have an ETC system that works and is more interface friendly," says Production Manager Gabriel Debell.

Barbizon Light of the Rockies was opened in 1995, and - with a significant portion of revenue coming from installations - is the company's specialist in that area. Loudenburg explains: "It was a one-man office when I moved out here from Boston, and I had a strong interest and background in the installation side of things." Later, he was joined by kindred spirit Obenhaus, who started his career at Norcostco in Minneapolis after college. "You can't name a middle school in the Upper Midwest where I have not done some kind of technical work," he jokes

(This story is a repost from the ETC news story http://www.etcconnect.com/About/News/The-Ellie-Caulkins-Opera-House-gets-a--transplant-.aspx)

Thursday, January 14, 2016

A New Year - New Gear

A new surprise came out of Middleton Wisconsin this week when Electronic Theatre Controls announced their retrofit LED engine for the Source 4 Elipsoidal (that there is over 1.7 million of in the world and counting).

It's called the Source 4WRD or Watt Reduction Device. and is a replacement for a standard Source Four® burner assembly that will convert the HPL source to a white-light LED and provides a significant reduction in power consumption.

The "simple and quick upgrade" is nondestructive and takes less than a minute. In most cases it can even be done without breaking the fixture’s focus. Source 4WRD LED is theatrically dimmable via DMX or line dimmable, with a traditional LED curve, to allow flexibility for your installation. And, because it is an LED source, your fixtures will run cool and efficiently without lamp replacements.
• Rugged, die cast aluminum construction
• Can be fitted to any Source Four standard ellipsoidal fixture body (not for use with Source Four Par/nel, Fresnel or jr.)
• Seven segment display for simple DMX setup
• Two button user interface
• Easy mounting with single screw attachment
• Replaces Source Four burner assembly
• Available in black, white, silver and custom color
• IP20 rating for indoor use only
• UL and cUL Listed
-- S4WRD: UL1598C
-- S4WRDFB: UL1573
• US patents issued and pending
• Three-year warranty

For more information and specs call your local Barbizon office at 866-502-2724 or check it out at

Monday, November 02, 2015

LDI 2015 Show Report

Every year for both the LDI and NAB shows we divide up all the manufacturers we work with and gather them into one place for our own employees who couldn't attend the show.  A few years ago we said, "Hey - a lot of our customers would want to know this too!"

So we created a public place for it to live on our website for everyone in the industry.  It's posted alphabetical, and there's currently FIVE years of history of both NAB and LDI.

Take a peek and see what we saw!


Barbizon LDI 2015 show report

Goodspeed Opera House Chooses PHX LED Profile Spot

(This post appeared originally on the Altman Lighting Website and we've reposted it.)

Goodspeed Musicals 

BridgeLocated on the banks of the Connecticut River, the Goodspeed Opera House is a picturesque reminder of New England’s Victorian era history. Built in 1877 the “Opera House” was actually created as a venue for plays, with its first production of Charles II presented in October of that year. After builder and local businessman William Goodspeed died in 1926, the building fell into disrepair and was used for various purposes including a militia base during World War I, a general store and a DOT storage facility. The building was acquired by the newly formed Goodspeed Opera House Foundation in 1959 to house the Goodspeed Musicals production company. Rededicated in 1963, Goodspeed has been responsible for launching some of Broadway’s best loved musicals including Man of La Mancha (1965), Shenandoah (1974) and Annie (1976).

The Opera House itself is a 5‐story Victorian‐style building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places for Middlesex County, CT. The tallest wooden structure on the Connecticut River, the building provides a somewhat unique theatrical environment as the theater itself is located on the 3rd and 4th floors. 
Goodspeed MusicalsDespite the historic status of the facility and the notable production history, Goodspeed Musicals is extremely forward thinking, both with its choices in programming, and its use of state‐of‐the‐art production equipment. Early in the summer of 2014 Goodspeed Musicals’ Lighting and Sound Supervisor, Jay Hilton, worked closely with Sara Willey of Barbizon Light of New England to test multiple theatrical LED fixtures. After considering the merits of each, Goodspeed selected the Altman PHX 250W RGBA LED Profile Spot, placing an order with Barbizon Lighting for 15 units that August. After this initial success, Goodspeed Playhouse purchased an additional 10 fixtures in May of 2015.
Cast of Goodspeed Musicals’ La Cage aux Folles.

Multiple factors were considered in choosing the appropriate fixtures, including color palette, beam quality and overall luminaire size. Key amongst these considerations were the theater’s power limitations, production budgets and the ability of fixtures to work seamlessly with the existing conventional fixture inventory. At 250 Watts per unit, and being DMX controlled, the Altman PHX LED made the limited number of dimmers available in the theater a relative non‐issue. Dimmers previously required for specials and color washes were now freed up for other applications with non‐dim power being provided for the PHX LEDs. 
La Cage au
Cast of Goodspeed Musicals’ La Cage aux Folles 

Both the RGBA and RGBW LED arrays were reviewed during initial tests. Due to the specific focus of Goodspeed on musical theatre production the more saturate and “warmer” color spectrum offered by the RGBA was determined to be the most appropriate fixture for the application. With on‐board color control the PHX LED meant eliminating costly color‐scroller rentals, reducing production lighting costs. 
Cast of Goodspeed Musicals’ La Cage aux Folles 

Perhaps the most important factor in choosing a fixture was its ability to be added to the existing inventory without changing the feel of Goodspeed’s production values. While focused on musical theatre production Goodspeed Musicals covers a wide variety of programming within the genre. A major consideration for Mr. Hilton was that the budget would only be able to afford one type of fixture to fit the bill for many roles. 
“The Altman PHX LED was able to blend with existing fixtures, allowing for their use with the multiple styles of show produced by Goodspeed.” 

Cast of Goodspeed Musicals’ La Cage aux Folles
Production photos from the 2015 production of La Cage aux Folles, courtesy of Goodspeed Musicals. Lighting Designer: John Lasiter
Lighting and Sound Supervisor: Jay Hilton
Master Electrician: Elisabeth Vella
Photographer: Diane Sobolewski

Goodspeed Musicals exterior photos courtesy of www.goodspeed.org 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Join PLASA and Sponsors For the Behind The Scenes Happy Hour

Be Sure to Join Barbizon and Other Sponsors the Night Before LDI for
PLASA's Behind the Scenes Happy Hour!

Thursday, October 22 from 6-8pm

at the Westgate Las Vegas

It's the biggest pre-LDI party of the year, and for the second year there's an even bigger night of fun, food, drinks and music! All proceeds benefit the Behind the Scenes charity.

Tickets ARE ONSALE NOW for $60 and are available HERE, or they can be purchased through your LDI registration. They will also be available at the door for $75.


We're looking forward to catching up with everyone.