ETC Cobalt helps Russian city celebrate its founding
A major street festival in the northwestern Russian city of Petrozavodsk attracted some 10,000 people to its main stage in June, with lighting controlled by ETC's new lighting desk,
The main stage is the central point of the annual Petrozavodsk City Festival, which celebrates the anniversary of the city's founding. This year was extra special, because it commemorated the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the city from Finnish armed forces. Large crowds gathered to watch live music and entertainment, including local dance acts, orchestra ensembles, and the headliner, Bravo, a well-known Soviet band from 1980s. This was followed by a closing ceremony and fireworks. The lighting team, led by lighting director Ivan Malakhov of rental agency SMK, used moving lights, LEDs, strobes and audience blinders to help entertain the crowd.
Because Malakhov had never used a Cobalt desk before, one of ETC's official Cobalt trainers in Russia, Vladimir Kraynov, assisted. "Ivan started his lighting career more than 10 years ago," he explains, "so he already knew ETC for some of its products, but not the newest system, Cobalt. The design and layout of the desk impressed Ivan, mainly because of the speed with which they could operate it. It provides direct access to houselights and fog machines, and touchscreens for master playbacks. They were also impressed that the software display was in Russian."
Programming from scratch
For the advanced user training, Kraynov went through how to create a light show from scratch. Malakhov had very little experience with syntax and command-line-operated consoles, which meant that Cobalt was the right choice. The short programming syntax and touchscreen operation meant that he needed little more than his touch-interface skills.
"I was impressed with the Auto Groups feature," says Malakhov, "and the instant access to groups/palettes/parameters via the Direct Selects dock. I also liked the ability to assign any parameter/attribute to any master playback, including backlit pots and Device mode."
After just three days, the team was ready to set up the console on site, adjust the focus and ensure that everything was ready to go. Most of the programming was done already, with most sequences preprogrammed. Only a few additional effects and presets were created on the fly during the show. "A couple of times," comments Kraynov, "we used the 'blind' view, but Ivan was happy to be in control during the live show. I helped out occasionally, but it was impressive to watch him working with such speed and skill. The channel-renaming feature turned out to be great, since we didn't always know the order our lights were hung. And Highlight and ID functions helped, by enabling instant fixture identification."
Cobalt - which comes in two models, depending on the number of faders needed - was designed for simple operation, yet is a powerful system without lengthy syntax and lots of touchscreen operation. The system can be set up as users prefer: screen layouts and controls can be changed, and up to three external touchscreen monitors can join the two built-in display panels. Up to 5,000 devices, including conventional and intelligent fixtures, LED units, media servers and more - can be controlled on 32 output universes.
Cobalt Product Manager Sarah Clausen says: "Even though ETC is widely known as a specialist in theater lighting, the speed of control with Cobalt means it's perfect as a live desk. We're delighted that it performed so well in Russia, and that Ivan and his team were so happy with it."