Theatre Lighting

Published Date: 11/09/2019

Original Article

ArcSystem Brings Power Savings and Flawless Dimming to Centennial Concert Hall.

Project took place in 2015.

Acting as a hub for performing arts in Winnipeg, Canada, the Centennial Concert Hall has long upheld a sense of community for the people of Manitoba. With a seating capacity in excess of 2,300, the venue is the largest performing arts space in Winnipeg. When the Manitoba Centennial Centre Corporation decided to upgrade the Centennial Concert Hall lighting system to improve energy efficiency and coverage, ArcSystem immediately stood out as a top choice.

The outdated system at Centennial Concert Hall was causing multiple problems for the staff, patrons, and performers. On top of poor lighting quality, the old system required excessive maintenance. Denis Crymble, stage electrician, says, “I never liked the feeling of the light. To me, it was always dingy. The upkeep of it was horrendous. We had little to no flexibility in the old space.”

For decades, the venue had few technology upgrades. Looking to the future, the team decided to move to an LED house lighting system. Although the staff knew this move would greatly reduce the venue’s ecological footprint, many were concerned about the quality of light that could come from LED fixtures.

“When we started looking at LEDs for house lights, I was skeptical, to tell you the truth. The ceiling is 60 feet high in some places,” says Crymble. “I didn’t know if we were going to get enough light out of LEDs.”

Vince Paulich, facility supervisor, knew that throw distance was going to be a major challenge when looking for LED luminaires. “When I first saw ArcSystem, it stood out as a solution that could solve the majority of our problems. There was certainly increased comfort knowing that the product was coming from ETC. Our house equipment is all ETC, from our Eos to Source Four PARs. It is a fantastic company.”

In addition to the brightness of the luminaires, the team was impressed by the flawless dimming.

“The thing that impressed me the most was the dimmer curve,” says Crymble. “In my experience, getting LED lights to dim to zero smoothly is very difficult. When I saw the ArcSystem luminaires, I was thinking ‘wow.’ They don’t bump out and they don’t bump in.”

Paulich adds, “Even to this day, I have never seen a product with a smoother dimming curve than ArcSystem.”

The smooth dimming and quality of light have dramatically boosted Centennial Concert Hall’s mood-setting capabilities for the audience. Crymble says, “With the new ArcSystem, there is a warmth in the theatre that wasn’t there before. The quality of light just makes you feel better.”

“When we walked in to see the first show with the new system, it was just stunning. It turned out exactly as we wanted. It didn’t feel dark, it didn’t feel bright, it just felt comfortable,” says Paulich.

Prior to updating the lighting system, patrons frequently complained about visibility in the theatre. Visitors had difficulty reading programs and finding their way to their seats. Paulich says, “Walking to your seat, you would notice that you were walking in a dark spot and then a bright spot. It wasn’t inviting.”

ArcSystem has eliminated this problem. General Manager Martin Kull says, “Now we have zero complaints. The level of light is so much more consistent. There are no dark spots.”

The experience for those working behind the scenes has also vastly improved. With the combination of ArcSystem luminaires and Paradigm controls, the staff can get much more granular in how they adjust lights.

“One of the features that made me fall in love with ArcSystem was the wireless capabilities,” says Paulich. “It is fantastic to deal with fixtures one by one. It makes troubleshooting a lot easier.”

“In the old system, I couldn’t isolate specific areas when I brought up a dimmer,” says Crymble. “Now, I can individually address each light in the rig. Some shows don’t want to open the balconies. They just want the main floor. With ArcSystem, I can just have the main floor house lighting on and hide the unused space by leaving it dark. We can completely tailor the space depending on each event’s needs.”

The venue increased the amount of control stations with Paradigm, meaning staff can access lighting controls from more spaces in Centennial Concert Hall. Paulich says, “The ETC Paradigm product is incredible. It communicates with a broad spectrum of protocols. I love the sleek touch screen capabilities. It’s definitely a top of the line lighting controller.”

The advancement in technology also means less maintenance. With the old system, staff had to spend 8 hours each week replacing lamps and sockets. Paulich says, “It was getting to the point that we had 10-15 lamps go out in a week. The heat from the outdated fixtures was also affecting the wiring. It was a real challenge for us to keep the system running.”

Since the installation has been completed, the venue has yet to have a single ArcSystem luminaire go down. The staff went from weekly maintenance calls to just once a year.

The new lighting is incredibly more efficient than the old system. While ArcSystem is four times brighter than the outdated system, consumption has dropped from 76,000 watts to 10,200 watts. That’s a mere fraction of the power the venue once used.

Now that the five-year project is complete, the team is confident that Centennial Concert Hall will benefit from the forward-thinking system for years to come.

 “I’ve always believed that you have to get cutting-edge technology and push the envelope,” says Crymble. “With this system, I wanted to make sure that we wouldn’t feel like we have outdated technology again in the next five years.”

“It was like building a road map,” says Paulich. “Once we put in a proper foundation, we can just keep building on top of it. We won’t have to upgrade anything in the lighting system for a long time. We really aimed to make sure we had the basic technology that would meet any needs the future holds for Centennial Concert Hall.”