19 Aug 2015

Rockhampton’s Pilbeam Theatre Put A Green Hippo In The Room With Amba

Rockhampton’s Pilbeam Theatre is a thriving 1000 seat lyric that sees a huge variety of productions on its stage. Concerts, musicals and corporate events are regular fixtures, and with a thriving community arts scene, often quickly produced and tightly turned around. Ashley Salta, the theatre’s Technical Supervisor, often employs projected media effects on their in-house produced productions to save budget, space, time and effort.

“We produce a lot of musical theatre,” explained Ashley. “We often project video content like rain, clouds or other moving textures onto the set or cloth to bring the stage to life. It also means we can avoid creating a piece of set with that imagery on it. Until recently, we’d been using QLab, but that meant someone had to operate it separately, and we had to load in content for each new show. So I was looking for a solution that integrated with our lighting control and kept all the content centrally.”

The answer came to Ashley in the form of the Green Hippo Hippotizer Amba, a 1RU media server that can store, warp, blend and map content in higher-than-HD resolution from multiple outputs. “Our Amba has made life easier when we’re projecting onto backdrops and set pieces,” Ashley reported. “We’ve integrated it into the lighting system, so it’s triggered with cues.  We’re finding that we integrate projection components in to our shows more often because it’s so easy. In the past we’d use gobos or physical elements. Now we can just select our content, build it into the cue stack, and away we go.”

Pilbeam skirt

The Amba typically feeds the Pilbeam’s stock of Epson and Panasonic projectors, with additions sub-hired from local production company Stage & Audio. “We occasionally incorporate a modular LED wall,” illustrated Ashley. “Sometimes we use it as a single unit, and sometimes we break it up into strips and panels distributed throughout a set. It’s all run out of three separate outputs from the Amba.”

Fast and efficient content management has been a boon for the theatre. “We use a lot of the Amba’s included stock content,” continued Ashley, “as it’s really useful for backdrops; clouds, rain, colourful movement and things of that nature for standard scenes. Whether we’re using Shutterstock content or files clients have provided, the Amba always converts it into a useable format, so we don’t have to muck around converting to a certain file type. The process is more efficient compared to things we’ve used in the past, and the V4 Amba interface is really easy to use.”

The Pilbeam also has the pleasure of the finest service and support from Australian Green Hippo distributor, Lexair Entertainment and their Queensland reseller Entertainment Production Supplies. “Lexair are great,” confirmed Ashley. “They’re knowledgeable, and always keen to help out. They’ve visited us up here in Rockhampton to do demonstrations and on-site training. And they’ve been great over the phone, which is great for us, as one of our favourite ways to learn gear is to jump in and try to do things we’ve never done before and get ourselves into trouble!”

Pilbeam dancing 2


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