ETC helps University of California theatre go green

Christmas came in July for the UCLA (University of California at Los Angeles) Royce Hall tech team, when a recent shipment of ETC Source Four® LED Series 2 Lustr® arrays was delivered, tested and stencilled with the Royce emblem. A compelling demo of the technology last autumn by ETC’s Outreach and Training Specialist Tom Littrell was enough to prompt an order for 18 Series 2 light engines, nine Source Four LED CYC adapters and nine Source Four LED Fresnels.

“What wowed us in the demo was the colour rendition on the Hawaiian shirt,” says Associate Master Electrician Anthony Gutierrez. “The lime green frequency is in the middle of the human spectrum and fills in colour gaps you didn’t even know were there.”

Jessica Wodinsky has been the master electrician at Royce Hall for 30 years and can chronicle the evolving technology: “When I came here in 1984, we had a Kliegl Entertainer and Teatronics dimmers. After the Northridge earthquake, we moved to ETC Sensor+ dimmers and an Expression. For a while, we had an Obsession, but now we are real happy with our ETC Gio, and an Express for smaller shows.”

Although the 1,800-seat venue has only 512 dimmers, the Gio® works perfectly for the moving lights and LEDs that are rented in for bigger productions. “Cyc washes are a key design element on our stage and the ETC CYC units at ground level blend well with the top-hung Ianiro fixtures, which we hope to replace in the next round of purchasing,” says Wodinsky. Meanwhile, the nine CYC heads provide perfect coverage for a 12m wide scrim.

Both electricians are impressed that three of the new Source Four LED Fresnels can replace five Selador® Desire® D40 luminaires. “The nine Fresnel units make up our three-colour rep plot,” adds Gutierrez. “We get three-colour front and back washes with complete saturation.”

The team first became aware of the excellent coverage of LED units on the outside terrace where the audience mingles pre show. “It was our first brush with architectural lighting and we needed a lot of help from the local ETC office to install and program the four Selador D60 XTs and the Mosaic controller. In the end, it all worked perfectly for us.” Gutierrez got the chance to use the Series 2 dial-up colour temperature on a recent TV show. “That feature alone made a huge difference to me and the director of photography. It made the whole process a lot simpler,” he describes.

July is maintenance month at Royce Hall; every fixture is derigged, checked and cleaned. The front-of-house and proscenium tower positions are a mixture of Source Four 14, 19 and 10 degrees. “We really like incandescents for key light and the throw from the 10 degrees,” says Wodinsky, “but I can foresee a day when we will go entirely LED.”

Versatility is the key to running this busy venue. Unusually for an academic institution, Royce Hall – a magnificent 1929 Romanesque revival structure – earns its money the old-fashioned way by putting on shows. “We are a self-sustaining business centre on campus, without outside help,” explains Lorrie Snyder, venue manager and technical director. “Half of our season is curated and the rest of the year we take in a broad mix of shows from dance, classical and experimental concerts to variety shows. We were even the setting for Coldplay’s album!”

Even though the campus generates its own electricity, data showed that LEDs could pay for themselves in three years. Snyder just likes the idea of being green and giving her crew exactly what they ask for: “It is one of the benefits of buying things with the money you earn.”

ETC helps University of California theatrePicture caption: Royce Hall’s Master Electrician Jessica Wodinsky (right) with Associate Master Electrician Anthony Gutierrez

Comments are closed