Shalom College is a co-educational Catholic secondary school servicing the Bundaberg region, five hours drive north of Brisbane, Queensland. Performing arts and creativity are a priority at Shalom, and the school boasts a 400 seat theatre built in 2005 that is employed to teach its students drama, dance, music and technical production. It’s also a resource for the local area, regularly hosting community group’s presentations and functions. A decade along, the theatre’s technical infrastructure was due for replacement, and principal Dan McMahon began to talk to Graeme Hicks at Entertainment Production Supplies about what direction their renewal should take.
“We hadn’t done any major upgrades or renewals since 2005,” Mr McMahon explained. “Graeme came up to Bundaberg to do another job for the school and I spoke to him about it. That started a very strong partnership with Entertainment Production Supplies. With Graeme’s expertise, we’ve significantly upgraded our lighting, media and sound facilities in the theatre.”
Graeme Hicks, owner of Entertainment Production Supplies, is an industry veteran of 45 years. EPS, based on The Gold Coast, specialise in turnkey solutions for performing arts venues, supplying lighting, sound, control, and theatrical infrastructure. “I had a look at the performing arts centre at Shalom with the principal,” recalled Graeme, “and I identified some issues. I then proposed we add to the lighting system, replace the lighting desk and PA system, add media and projection management, and set up a control system.” Mr McMahon agreed, and EPS went to work.
Graeme chose an extensive range of equipment supported by Australian distributor Lexair Entertainment for the job, including lighting fixtures and control from High End Systems and media management from Green Hippo. “To add to the existing lighting rig of tungsten fresnels, wash and spot lights, I chose two High End Systems SolaSpot Pro CMY LEDs,” Graeme continued “At just 320 Watts, they’re incredible. Bright, quiet and efficient, and I’m probably going to put some more in soon. I also installed eight High End Systems SolaWash 19 LEDs. They’re a flexible, powerful fixture that doesn’t have the ongoing problems of a discharge lamp.”
Graeme was clear on his choice of lighting control; “High End Systems HedgeHog 4. It’s the machine for schools,” he stated. “I’m a big fan of the Hogs because they’re industry standard, and the kids take to them really well.”
Bringing the lighting rig up-to-date also required integrating a media server. “We’ve installed a Hippotizer Amba fitted with a capture card so the school can project real-time content from playback or camera,” Graeme elaborated. “It’s handling projection blending from two 7K projectors onto a 10 metre wide image on their white rear wall, and a third projector downstage. The students have taken to it quickly to create scenery. Having the flexibility to use moving images is fantastic for them.”
Tying it all together, EPS implemented a Crestron control solution that connects to the HedgeHog 4, Amba and existing dimmers over ArtNet. “The system allows lighting and media control over the school network,” said Graeme. “The school’s IT department allowed remote access, and we can now provide service, fault finding, and training remotely. I can log in and look at any of the devices on the network and make adjustments as required, which is great considering that Bundaberg is a five hour drive from our office.”
The response from the students and staff at Shalom has been extremely positive. “Our students are loving playing with our new capabilities,” reported Mr McMahon. “The enthusiasm it’s generated has been fantastic. It was great to see the faces of the students when they saw the enhancements this brings to their performances, both musically and theatrically. It’s also enhanced our capacity to use the theatre as a teaching space, not just on stage, but backstage. We run a creative arts subject on theatrical production. This has given the students real-world technical production skills because it’s now an industry standard space. It’s a great benefit for the students, college and the town. It’s arguably the best performance space in Bundaberg.”
Mr McMahon is also happy with the service provided by Graeme and Entertainment Production Supplies. “EPS have been responsive and enthusiastic,” he related. “They’ve taken a lot of pride in the work. EPS put in a lot of time to make sure this upgrade works and that the technology is what the school and the students needed. I couldn’t speak more highly of their professionalism and enthusiasm in seeing the project through.”
Graeme Hicks is similarly pleased with the support from Lexair Entertainment for High End Systems and Green Hippo. “Lexair really step up to the mark with training for their customers and end-users,” endorsed Graeme. “They’re not averse to paying a visit and going on-site, even as far away as Bundaberg. Lexair are also great for telephone support anytime. They’re more than approachable.”
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