The opulent Grand Opera House has been a landmark for the residents of Wilmington, DE and the surrounding region for more than 135 years. The Grand presents more than 75 shows each season, ranging from symphony orchestras and ballets to the latest rock and comedy stars, with jazz, folk, and family artists as well. The historic venue recently upgraded their lighting system with High End Systems SolaSpot Pro 1000s, the first automated fixtures to be installed in the venue. Specified by Master Electrician Genevieve Fanelli through Main Light Industries, the installation also included a HedgeHog 4S console.
Fanelli says due to the diversity of the productions in The Grand, their equipment choices must be equally versatile. She comments, “As master electrician I’m usually in charge of designing the show, unless the performance brings its own LD, and then I’m really there to make sure everything functions smoothly. We do a lot of folk and older school rock shows, but also do the three rep companies that are in the building, so I have to move from rock to theatre to symphony lighting very quickly! When we upgraded with ten SolaSpot Pro 1000s and a HedgeHog desk, it was really to augment the system and bring it into the 21st century. A lot of the shows we do want movement, and gobos to be spinning, and I couldn’t provide that with my existing PAR rig and Expression III console.”
In choosing the instruments that would best suit the Grand’s needs, Fanelli compared technology available from all major manufacturers. “I’ve been doing lighting for a quarter century, but this is my first foray into the world of moving lights, and I dove into High End Systems movers and control technology simultaneously. A few fixtures had been sent my way from different manufacturers; all were interesting, but in terms of quality, High End was the clear winner. Everything else that was available and in my budget would have been a compromise. There were a lot of lights with hot spots that weren’t pretty and weren’t centered. There were some fixtures that were just too bright, and wouldn’t have worked with my Source Four PARs unless I significantly dialed back their intensity, but the SolaSpot Pro 1000 was the perfect middle ground of automated lighting that would blend beautifully with the existing rig. I also appreciate the lighter weight of the 1000s - I move them around quite a bit, and in terms of weight they’re not so heavy that I can’t pick them up.”
Fanelli’s final and most important consideration was that of the rich colors produced through the 1000’s white light LED engine and dichroic color palette. “The SolaSpot Pro 1000’s balance so well with the conventional lighting. I’ve been extremely happy with them. I said, ‘Show me the blue, how dark can you make it, how blue can you make it?’ The closest anyone else can do is like a 132 - it’s green tinted - and it’s just not that close to a good saturated 82 or 79 - i.e. really dark with almost no green in it. I love these fixtures for that. With the LED engine behind it and the dichroics, the blue was just fabulous!”
In picking a console that visiting LDs could employ with automated lighting, Genevieve also looked at the latest automated lighting control technology currently available. She comments, “As a veteran ETC user, I initially wanted an Ion or Element, because that’s the language I speak. But I knew that as a console for movers, these desks wouldn’t have been as functional with movers as the Hog. Having no experience on any of the major brands, I asked around and was told to look towards the Hog. My friends said ’It’s going to be easy, intuitive and you’re just gonna fly through it’ - and I’m glad I took their advice, they were correct. Even though I’d never used a moving light console before, everything made sense on the HedgeHog, and now I’m learning how to program with a moving light mentality - plus it’s a desk that the visiting LDs can use with ease.”
Main Light Industries’ John DiEleuterio added, “Working with Scott Kinnebrew at High End was a great experience. These SolaRange fixtures are the first moving lights installed in Wilmington, so we’re pretty excited about that!”