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ETC Sensor control reaches higher than the Burj Khalifa

ETC Sensor® control

ETC's UK dealers have now installed over 28,000 Sensor power-control channels across central London, making ETC the most popular choice in the capital. If all the modules were stacked on top of one another, they would reach 3,215 feet (980m), making them significantly taller than the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa - practically Lilliputian at 2,690 feet (820m) - whose nightly strobe-light shows are controlled by an ETC Congo® control system.

The latest recipient of Sensor is the Prince Edward Theatre on Old Compton Street. The theater's dimmers were last updated in 1993, and were due for renewal in time for the hit production of Miss Saigon. In keeping with other theaters in the Delfont Mackintosh group, which The Prince Edward is part of, five ETC Sensor3™ power-control racks fitted with 240 modules, including ThruPower modules, were specified and installed. That gives a ready supply of modules across the theater group and simplifies maintenance, according to Prince Edward's Chief Electrician Gavin McGrath, who adds that they have become the "industry standard."

ETC dealer White Light supplied the racks, with Projects Director Simon Needle overseeing the project and Project Manager Tony Coates acting as on-site supervisor. ETC power-control units are designed to last, which is why - with its ability to control both switched and dimmed channels - Sensor3 is built to last well into the future.

Sensor3 power control rack

Tom Wickens, deputy chief electrician at London's Donmar Warehouse Theatre also specified Sensor3 for their updated power-control system, because of its ability not only to talk to their ETC Eos® console in their native ACN network language, but also for the three-way aspect of the ThruPower modules.

"We often have to plug in practicals on stage, such as desk lamps," Wickens explains, "and being able to set a module from dimming to switched output makes things quicker and easier." Wickens and his colleagues specified the system themselves, then arranged for Bradbrook Electrical Services (BES) to do the installation. "It was a difficult installation," he says, "because we never go dark. So during a two-day rehearsal period, we had BES strip out all the old dimmers, ran the show on a temporary ETC dimming system, then at the end of the show's run, during rehearsals for the new performance, we had two days to swap in the new Sensor3 power control system."

ETC's Graham Parker helped with the one-day commissioning process, including setting up a new Unison® Paradigm® house- and worklight system, which the theater staff had specified at the same time.

Mark White, ETC's Regional Manager for the UK and Ireland, points out that part of the appeal of Sensor power control, and what has made it so popular across the West End, is the ease with which it can be operated and maintained: "We used to refer to Sensor purely as 'Sensor dimming;' these days, it has morphed into 'Sensor Power Control' as on some productions, we see as many switched circuits as tungsten dimming channels. We are observing many theaters using the 'hot swap' abilities of Sensor to change the patch between dimmers, relay and hot power modules according to the needs of each production", he says. ThruPower modules, which can easily be switched between dimming, switching and hot power on the fly are also being adopted more frequently by venues. They eliminate the need for spare modules or trips to the dimmer rack.

"Having 28,000 channels under Sensor control in central London is a significant milestone for us and is rather humbling when we think about it," describes White. "In addition to the service offered by our dealers and installers, we also have our own service technicians on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in case of emergency. Most of us at ETC come from a theater background and we are all acutely aware that the show must go on and that our equipment is now responsible for most of central London's productions… quite a responsibility and one we are happy to accept."