UK: Theatre lighting designer Andy Webb has specified an Avolites Tiger Touch II as the house-desk at The Griffin Centre, a new £3.3 million state-of the-art performance venue at prestigious Cotswold educational establishment, Rendcomb College.
Webb has been involved in the build as technical consultant since 2013, having worked alongside the college for over a decade, supporting the theatrical department and teaching A-Level lighting design.
“It was great to be involved in the project from the ground up,” says Webb. “I was able to work with the architects to solve any design problems from a technical perspective before they were even engineered into the building.”
The Griffin Centre will be utilised as a hybrid professional space for live events and as a training centre for the college’s theatre students.
“From the start of the process, Rendcomb College made it clear that the theatre was to be built to a high professional standard,” says Webb. “The space can host corporate events, product launches, musical concerts and theatrical productions. As such, the technical equipment we needed to specify had to be on the level of a professional
Webb, who has been an Avolites user for three years after ‘converting’ from another market leader, recommended the brand’s powerful, portable mid-size desk, the Tiger Touch II as the Griffin Centre’s house lighting control console.
“For this venue, it was important that we had a lighting control platform that was intuitive, versatile and professional,” says Webb. “The Tiger Touch II allows us to move about the theatre space in a whole new way. One minute we may be programming or training down in the stalls and the next we can move the console to its FOH box position. Everything on the desk is inbuilt and accessible through the touchscreen, so we don’t need to mess around with mice or monitors.”
In an age where young people are able to merge creativity and control on a new level, from personal applications
to professional platforms, Webb wanted a desk that was accessible and attractive to a new generation of designers.
“The Tiger Touch II hardware and software is intuitive to students,” says Webb. “They pick up the basics of control quickly and can develop creatively from there. Also, there is not the concern of learning a new platform if and when they move to another Avolites desk, as the Titan software runs across all of the control platforms.
This is something that really appeals to the younger generation of designers I teach.”
Another key feature of the Avolites brand is their transparent approach to software and console purchase.
Users do not have to pay for software upgrades or for accessibility options.
“What I personally like, and what has excited the students I work with, is that with Avolites you have access to a large number of universes without having to purchase an upgrade – this is not the case with some console brands out there,” continues Webb. “The students were interested that I could run a small touring show with one
universe off the Tiger Touch II and then take the same console to Germany for a large trade event, come out into an Avolites TNP node and have access to 35 universes without having to do anything different to the desk.”
Webb has been working with Avolites in developing control features that meet the needs of the theatre lighting design market.
“Over the last year I have seen great improvements theatre-wise in the Avolites control software and systems,” says Webb. “Avolites has developed a great cue-stack system that works really well for theatre. I can go in and put individual fade times and parameters on fixtures within a cue, and also do some in-depth programming at the same time.
“They are working on further developments for theatre and seeing these changes come in and what an Avolites desk can offer in terms of versatility, intuitive control and power has made me go from the extreme of not using Avolites to now specifying it on every job that I do.”
The Griffin Centre was opened on 24 February by the National Theatre’s Technical Director and Rendcomb College alumni, Jonathan Suffolk. The centre contains a 350-seat auditorium, mirrored dance studio with sprung floor, dressing rooms, prop and set workshop and costume store. The centre is the first major building to be constructed at the school for 27 years.