The City of Playford north of Adelaide, South Australia, which encompasses suburbs such as Elizabeth and Munno Parra, has a solid musical heritage. Jimmy Barnes, Glenn Shorrock and John Swan are all alumni of its streets, and AC/DC cut their teeth in its venues. In 2007, the city opened a ground-breaking facility, Northern Sound System, with the express objective to provide youth with a platform to learn and perform music, as well as live and studio production skills. With a 400 capacity venue and extensive teaching and recording spaces, the NSS is an incubator for the performers and technicians of the future.
“Our focus is everything music related; live shows, recording, and technical and musical training, “ explained Ross Read, Northern Sound System’s Head Technician and Venue Coordinator. “We offer music tuition, teach kids how to DJ, how to record, and how to do audio production and lighting. Our 400 seat venue hosts live music, and we also use it for corporate events, and any other type of function that the local community might request.”
The lighting in the NSS’s performance venue includes a range of affordable LED movers and a mixture of static LED and incandescent fixtures across three trusses and two vertical bars. Being both an educational and ‘for hire’ facility, the skill level of operators using the venue ranges from absolute beginner to seasoned pro. Until recently, control was via an ageing analogue desk that was not keeping pace with the newer technology in the rig. Looking for a solution, Ross consulted with Luke ‘Phasey’ Hattam of local installation and Production Company AJS.
“Over time, the NSS has built up their venue with great gear and a great PA, so a great lighting desk was the next logical step,” said Luke. “They had budget this year, and were originally looking at a High End Systems HedgeHog 4 and an external screen. After discussing it, it was a much better fit for the venue to go with a Road Hog 4, which already has that massive 22” screen built in. Other factors were the four on-board DMX outputs, which is great at that price, and the fact that a lot of the operators that work at the venue have used Hogs and are familiar with the workflow. Back at AJS, we run a Full Boar 4, Master Wing 4 and are about to get a HedgeHog X for smaller shows, so if NSS ever need to expand to do a bigger show, we’ve got them covered. To make sure NSS get all they can out of the Hog, we sent in our Head of Lighting, Justin Accatino, to run training for the staff and operators. ”
“The Road Hog 4’s compact framework is a good size for space we’ve got,” added Ross. “Price was also a factor, but not the defining one. My background is in sound, but it’s my job to be across everything technical in the venue. I got up and running on the Road Hog 4 in a week. I find the Hog platform intuitive but very powerful. Most of our work is busking shows; we deal with a lot of live music, four or five acts in different genres with no real prerequisites. We need to get cool looks happening fast, which is really easy to do on the Hog platform.”
Backing both AJS and NSS are Australian High End Systems distributor Lexair Entertainment. “We have a great relationship with Lexair, and I’m dealing with them on a weekly basis,” related Luke. “They’ve always been really good and really knowledgeable. I think’s it’s great that they recently brought Tony Lukeman on as a Product Manager; they’re definitely heading in the right direction and are the company to watch!”
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