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.)
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
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,”
represents another side of ETC.
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
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.
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!)
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
I urge you to give it a try – you might like it.