Prelite Provides Previz System for Sydney Opera House

by PLSN Staff • in
  • International News
• Created: June 22, 2009

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SYDNEY — Prelite has trained five members of the lighting department at Australia’s Sydney Opera House (SOH) on the venue’s new in-house previz system. “The SOH has seven performance spaces and is one of the busiest performing arts venues in the world,” said Bruce Ramus, the head of Ramus Illumination and a design mentor for SOH.  “To achieve a consistently high standard of lighting for a vast array of shows requires preparation that, with such a full schedule, is often impossible.  The previz room that (Prelite partner) Tom Thompson helped set up provides the means for the lighting staff to pre-plot and pre-program all manner of lighting rigs before the gear enters the venue.  

“The previz system also provides an excellent training forum for design, innovation and technical knowledge, which all adds up to a higher level of expertise in the staff and translates to better-looking productions,” he added.

As the head of lighting for SOH Toby Sewell was “most interested in the ability to pre-plot shows” in the previz system and tap its training potential.  “We can have virtual lighting rigs in our venues and train our operators offline with no audience,” he noted.

Two years ago Prelite provided similar training on a Prelite-branded system closer to home, at Radio City Music Hall, where Prelite furnished an in-house system.  After consultation with Prelite, SOH decided to source locally all the hardware and software needed to create a previz system.

Tom Thompson traveled to Sydney to train the staff on the Vision software and associated CAD programs, Vectorworks and 3ds Max software, used in the previsualization process.  “Tom also provided great assistance in fine tuning the purchase of video cards, monitors and desktop computer,” said Sewell.

In addition, Prelite provided training documentation and will regularly update online documentation.  Support and maintenance for the next year will be supplied along with a potential training update next fall.

SOH quickly put its previz system to work on Jerry Springer: The Opera, which opened on April 21.  The opera, based on the TV talk show, opened in London in 2003 and made its Carnegie Hall debut last year.

“Our previz system performed very well and enabled us to pre-program a complicated production with more than 400 cues in under four days,” said Ramus.  “This allowed the show to be mounted in a very tight timeframe and look like we’d spent weeks rehearsing.  Without the previz system expectations for the production would have to have been reduced considerably.”

Sewell was pleased with “how the palettes and cues came back even with the slightly different trim heights between the ideal (previz) and the real (the venue).  With a window of four days from bump in to opening night, pre-plotting was the only way to realize a complex music show with such limited venue time.”

The new previz room is part of technical, architectural and educational upgrades planned for SOH through 2013.  “The immediate future involves an upgrade of the basic infrastructure,” Sewell said, from installation of a DMX-over-Ethernet network in every venue to the purchase of new consoles in six main venues, a new moving-light rig, venue-specific luminaires and multiple-venue dimming systems.

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