Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’ was first performed in 1602; since then, actors have been portraying Viola and Orsinio around the world. When Australia’s Queensland Theatre mounted their production of Shakespeare’s classic, they chose to use a revolve that required wireless DMX. “The stunning set design [by Tracy Grant Lord] was on an 11m revolve with a sea of set LX; the show also featured four musicians, three of which are on the revolve for the show. With that being the case, the Ethernet in our slip ring was dedicated to the sound team for the show to ensure that we could get signal back to the FOH console. As such, I knew that we needed a reliable wireless DMX system for lighting that could span multiple universes –three in our case– given the degree of control required,” explains Dan Maddison, Technical Coordinator at the theatre for the past 11 years.
There are several pieces on stage that required wireless control. “The majority of control was required for the Minleon RGB Digital String Lights; with RGB control over each lamp, the parameter count grew very quickly. The custom canopy from Lejin Christmas Lights contained a mix of LED Festoon and bud light controlled via a series of DMX Decoders with wireless data via RC4 products. There were also four hero lamps that we fitted out with RGBW SMD strip. These were controlled via constant voltage LED drivers with wireless data; with each shell being 250mm in diameter these deliver a beautiful effect,” says Maddison.
Wireless control was critical to the production. “We wouldn’t have been able to proceed without wireless connectivity, particularly with no more space available in the custom slip ring I had built. RC4 played an integral role in the show,” remarks Maddison.
For the Twelfth Night wireless system, Maddison turned to 6 RC4Magic 900SX DMXio Transceivers, 3 RC4M-900SX DMX4dim-500 High Power 4-Channel Wireless Dimmers and a RC4M-900SX DMX2dim 2-channel wireless dimmer. Maddison notes: “The DMX4dims 500s were used to control the musician LED sconce lights on the revolve; the DMX4dim-500s also provided smooth dimming for the Firefly LED bud light that was incorporated into the scenic foliage. The DMX2dim was used off the revolve to control the percussion sconce light.” Lighting Designer Ben Hughes also wanted individual control of the Minleon RGB Digital Festoon. Maddison explains, “We had to configure the controllers to be a DMX to Art-Net bridge to ensure we could plug and play with the RC4 receivers. This allowed 170 lights per universe -510 channels, with 3 channels per lamp. RC4 technology was used from start to finish.”
The RC4 900 series products were located throughout the revolve. “All LX data on the revolve were run via the three RC4 transceivers. There were two key locations where we were able to hide all of the LX control: The first was the day bed. This piece of furniture had quite a lot of space underneath for concealment of gear, and as such, it became the primary hub for LX requirements. The second was the faux grand piano center stage. The composition for the show called for a keyboard thankfully so we were able to use the space within the grand, since the sound board had been previously gutted).Other smaller control items were concealed within traps in the floor,” explains the Technical Director.
Maddison used RC4’s 900 Series of products, which is ideal for customers in the US, Canada, Brazil, Australia and New Zealand. “From the onset, we were very mindful of congestion in the 2.4GHz spectrum. As such, we made the decision–after consultation with Jim [James D. Smith, President and Chief Product Developer of RC4 Wireless] to add to our 900MHz infrastructure; with the ability to use our unique IDs with the associated Channel Mask we were set to go. Using the new RC4 Commander configuration software we were also able to check all of the configuration settings on all units to ensure they were set accordingly and running the same firmware,” Maddison says.
There were several other pieces that required wireless DMX. Maddison says: “We had a DMX iso splitter on one of the universes that was connected to the RC4 transceiver; we also had a Jands 4Pak D that we use to facilitate 2 channels of MR16s –3 lights per circuit. With the ability to address the 4Pak D, we could then control this from an external control device as you would with any slave device.”
Maddison has been depending on RC4 Wireless products “proudly since 2012. “ For people who are RC4 Wireless curious, Maddison advises, “Give RC4 a go. Their equipment is robust, reliable and has done everything we have ever thrown its way, which is a lot! In terms of service, Jim is only ever an email away in the event of any issues, and response times are always within 12hrs which is exceptional support given the time zone differences.”