Part 2 of The new faces of ETC - Who is Congo?

I’m going to talk about the two new faces I described earlier in alphabetical order – First Up Congo. (If you're new here you may want to read this post first.)

Congo is dubbed the Avab board by ETC. Many of you may be wondering what the heck that means. If your dialing in from Europe – and even some parts of North America you will recall a company called Avab. To make an incredibly long story short I can sum it up like this:

Avab was formed around 1970 (some acounts say earlier) in Sweden

The company developed very innovative lighting systems and was a leading lighting supplier in Europe

The company was known for its colorful leadership under a fellow named Kent Flood and also for quite powerful control desks. Avab innovated networking and multi-user systems very quickly in the early 90’s.

In 1996 they were purchased by Transtechnik, a German lighting company

In 2002 transtehnik was purchased by ETC

So, some of the Avab spirit now resides at ETC – although there are many other Avab spirited people around the world – and ETC is proud to have the Avab heritage adding to our own culture. (Remember that I said “ETC may not be exactly who you think it is anymore – it may be much more than that.)

I guess if Zumanity is “Another side of Cirque,” Congo represents another side of ETC.

Congo plays the role fully clothed!

So what does this mean? For one – Congo will feel completely different to those who have used ETC desks for many years. Congo follows a different flow, uses different terms and methods. It uses a traditional Avab syntax called RPN. Strange but addictive, RPN means that most functions call for a number first and the function second.

David Empey – one of our salespeople from New York says Congo speaks like Yoda!

I agree. Actually the whole desk reminds me of Yoda – strange – yet powerful.

While it takes a little getting used to – you’ll soon see that the desk has a lightning fast style and the RPN gives you some very interesting possibilities. Most functions are only 2 key hits away from you at any time. Congo’s product manager, Sarah Clausen, is fond of saying that Congo is a “stream of consciousness desk.” You can open many displays at the same time – work in Blind, Live and patch simultaneously. Congo is also a preset console – every scene is a preset. While the console uses “tracking-like philosophy” to make working with moving lights easy – it shares common ground here with the Expression family from ETC.

Congo’s hardware looks traditional. A main theatre playback – 40 (not 48!) Masters that act like anything you want them to be – traditional submasters – playback stacks, effects masters – and the list goes on. Congo uses all hard keys- no touch screens. All the content keys (the masters and direct selects are labelled with LCD’s.) There is a simple reason for that – they change content – they are pageable and re-purposeable and the labels tell you what is on them at any time. (This is an important fact as some companies introduce desks with hundreds of buttons labelled on a screen somewhere!)

Congo is powerful – flexible – fast. It is exciting and new – but with an old soul. It has an extraordinary depth of character and features. I am a Congo fan, an early adopter of the Congo concept at ETC and have been accused by my boss of “drinking the Congo Kool-aid.” Without a doubt the desk is addictive.

 And – Many people will not like it. Yes – it is true. It is not for everyone.

 Going back to my car imagery from earlier – to me, Congo is like a Volkswagen. Solid – highly featured- but understated. Quirky – but loveable. Big on power – low on ego.

I like the series of VW ads about “un-pimping your auto.” In the ads the idea is that they are removing the superchargers and the mag wheels and getting back to basics of good clean style. Style that is clearly evident in the vehicle. That is Congo.

Who should buy it? Well almost anyone could decide to. It is easy to learn – with an onboard help system including instructional movies. It does require some retraining of people who have used other desks. Not serious retraining – but the users need to have a willingness to look at things differently.

I urge you to give it a try – you might like it.

Published 12-07-2006 8:59 PM by dlincecum
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