When the Artscape Theatre (then the Nico Malan Theatre) opened its doors in 1971 it did so with 198 channels of Siemens dimming housed in 11 full size 19’’ equipment racks. At the time, this dimming system was most progressive and state-of-the-art. But now, 40 years on, it is time for a massive upgrade.

Prosound has replaced the existing dimmers with ETC Sensor3 Dimmers and in doing so has claimed another first for South Africa as the first ThruPower Module system to be installed in a South African Theatre.

The 11 original racks of dimmers were replaced with 2 racks of ETC Sensor Dimmers cutting down on almost 90% of the space occupied by the original racks. An additional 5 racks were also installed replacing 162 channels of Strand dimmers (which also incorporated house light dimming) and housing 96 new channels with another 40 circuits to replace original relays. This makes for a grand total of 526 dimmer outlets!

ETC Sensor3 ThruPower Modules are controllable via ETC NET3 software as well as via an override switch on the front of the module. This allows for free mixing of dimming, switching, or manual bypass on a circuit by circuit basis without replacing the hardware in your Sensor power system. This enables outlets to be used for intelligent lights and switched on or configured to switch via the relay instead of dimming.

The original Siemens dimmers lasted for 40 years. “The main reason for replacing them is that spare parts are no longer available. ETC are forerunners in dimming so it was an easy decision to upgrade to the Sensor system,’ explains Charles Markotter, Prosound System Design Engineer.

The new ETC Sensor dimmers come with several advantages. Sensor dimmers are modular and it is possible to upgrade the control processor and backplane as new versions become available. This ensures that as requirements for more intelligent lights evolve and as shows open with different requirements, the dimmers will be able to be configured accordingly.

“What all of this means is that the same rack will be able to be used if future upgrades are done,’ says Charles. “Artscape should be good for another 40 years at least!’