10 Aug 2022

Darwin Entertainment Centre

by Jenny Barrett

E3 Productions deliver lighting and comms ‘firsts’

Darwin Entertainment Centre, an 1100 seater main theatre with a 270 seater studio, took possession of the first ETC Source Four LED Series 3s in Australia in July 2021 as part of a significant infrastructure upgrade. Supplemented in March 2022 by another Australian first, the FreeSpeak Edge Base Station, Head Lighting Technician Tomm Lydiard is relishing the impact, technically, and in terms of economy and convenience.


ETC Source Four LED Series 3

“We wanted to be able to offer our touring acts the industry standard. Our venue was pretty much all Selecon Pacifics and Zoomspots up until this point,” explains Tomm. “We’d get shows that would come through, see the packs and pull a face even though they were well maintained. We wanted to offer them the very best.”

Customer demand and Tomm’s own knowledge of the market meant that the ETCs were a no brainer, “The ETCs come with a lot of features that you can’t find currently on other LED products. My main concern was brightness, and I knew that the ETCs come with XDLT lens tubes to up the output.”

Decision made and funding secured, the theatre replaced 72 1K generic fixtures with thirty-six Source Four Series 3 LEDs, “We’ve twelve twenty-six degrees doing our front of house wash, substituting twenty-four Selecon Pacifics. Plus, twenty-four thirty-six degree Lustrs to do our upstage wash and our overhead colour wash to stage, eliminating forty-eight Strand Harmonies.”

As expected, the LEDs have significantly reduced the power bills with savings of up to eighty percent and Tomm is enjoying the ETC extras on offer, “I like the wireless DMX. It is very sturdy, and we now have access to Multiverse for the Lustrs which adds a whole new level of convenience.” Used in conjunction with the console, City Theatrical’s Multiverse can broadcast as many as ten universes of DMX from a single transmitter without excessive radio energy, freeing up wireless bandwidth.

Tomm has recently started exploring the NFC (near field communication) hardware too, “I can set up a patch on my phone, then tap the phone to the fixture to apply the settings.” This feature requires the Set Light app, and it works even if the fixture isn’t powered, allowing you to configure whilst rigging.

For Tomm though as head lighting tech, it is the quality of the solution that has made a huge difference. ETC have added a deep red to the eight-colour Lustr X8 array meaning Tomm has access to a wider range of rich reds than ever before, all without sacrificing brightness, “It looks wildly better. The fixtures have totally exceeded our expectations.”

ClearCom FreeSpeak II Digital Wireless Intercom System and Edge Base Station

Five months later and the venue comms took a step forward too with the arrival of the FreeSpeak II Intercom System and Edge Base Station, ClearCom’s latest base station enabling connections to networked transceivers and eight channels of Dante; “We had been doing the best we could with a second hand FreeSpeak I and four wireless packs but we were struggling. Our priority as soon as we got some funding was to purchase something programmable and reliable and to have different closed party lines.”

Tomm and his team explored a few options but felt other offerings were overpriced. After a demo through the venue, they opted for the FreeSpeak II system, twelve wireless packs (one for every position), the FreeSpeak Edge base station and two Edge antennas to provide extra range in the concrete maze that constitutes the Darwin theatre, “We operate over three levels, through lots of concrete and steel, and cyclone venue thick walls, but the extra range provided by the two antennas is extraordinary. We can get to the foyer and the dressing rooms with no dropouts. The range is wild, so good and so clear.” When your lighting guy shows that amount of enthusiasm for a comms solution, you know it has got to be good.

10 out of 10 for Support

Darwin Entertainment Centre worked with E3 Productions, one of the Northern Territory’s leading providers of entertainment and event solutions, with whom they have a long relationship. Jeremy Lassemillante from E3 Productions recalls, “When Tomm got in touch he already knew what he wanted for the lighting fixtures. In fact, he knew more than me, I didn’t even know the Lustr 3s had been released! We worked closely with the team on the comms upgrade and showed them a few options. The FreeSpeak II system required the least number of antennas and other bits and pieces, so was an affordable high quality solution.”

E3 Productions sourced both products from Jands, “Jands were fantastic to work with, especially navigating international shipping delays. They are amazingly supportive of us here at E3, and of our clients.” Tomm seconds that; “Jands customer service was excellent. They came out and sorted a couple of noisy Lustrs straight away and we’ve sent something in for repair and it came back quickly. I can’t fault the service of E3 and Jands – ten out of ten.”


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