Any Color You Like For Opera: White Light Supply SeaChanger

Entertainment lighting supplier White Light has supplied the first SeaChanger color engines to be used in the UK to the Royal Opera House in London.
“For our new double production of the operas L’Heure Espagnole and Gianni Schicchi, the American lighting designer Mimi Jordan Sherin asked for a number of scrollers in our FOH positions,” explains Royal Opera House lighting manager Simon Bennison. “Unfortunately for the Opera House and auditorium conditions this was not really possible—but it left us with a sizeable FOH lighting issue to solve—­we needed a powerful and silent color mixing solution for a tungsten unit.”

Subsequent research by the ROH’s Michael Scott and Paul Hornsby led them to the SeaChanger Color Engine. “White Light supplied a demo unit which impressed us all enough for us to order eight SeaChangers, the first in the UK.”

The SeaChanger color engine is a dichroic colo­r-mixing system designed to be fitted to ETC’s Source Four profile spots; the self-contained unit attaches to the front of the Source Four’s lamphousing, and any Source Four lenstube is then fitted to the SeaChanger. Internally, the SeaChanger contains four DMX or RDM controlled dichroic glass color wheels, cyan, magenta, yellow plus a patented xG “extreme green” wheel that extends the unit’s color range into the realm of more natural colors not always found in CMY color-mixing units. The optical system in the SeaChanger maintains the optical properties of the standard Source Four, allowing it be used with accessories such as gobos and animation effects, while the dichroic wheels mean that the unit does not need cooling fans and so is silent in operation. The SeaChanger for profile spots has recently been joined by the SeaChanger Wash, which turns a Source Four profile into a color-mixing washlight.

The ROH’s SeaChangers are used in 26º 750W Source Fours, providing a six-point front wash onto the frontcloth and downstage portal of the set.

“In operation and plotting they proved reliable and quick, with even color across all ranges and smooth fades between colors. The green disc really helps mixing Rosco blue/green equivalents, and they’re very comfortable in the cyan, through to blue area, and lavender/violets, and the yellows work well.”

Bennison also acknowledges the “excellent support provided by Tom Morris at SeaChanger, who supplied us with an Excel spreadsheet showing equivalent percentages to standard gels,” this information to be progressively updated on the SeaChanger website.

The SeaChangers success has left the ROH team wanting more. “After using them for one production, we’re now looking forward to adding them to our repertoire FOH set-up, as we develop the flexibility of the rig across new shows and for other visiting designers.”

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