Elation lights The Ark in Ann Arbor
Tuesday, 19 March 2019
the-ark2The Ark hosts over 300 gigs a year
USA - When leading folk music venue The Ark in Ann Arbor, Michigan, recently upgraded their audio system, they also decided replace some older incandescent fixtures with an Elation Professional LED lighting package of Fuze PAR Z60 IP luminaires and SixBar 1000 IP battens.
Designer and programmer of the new lighting system is Kent Cubbage, who specified the lighting console and Elation fixtures in co-operation with lighting vendor and installer Fantasee Lighting of Belleville, Michigan. “When you’re dealing with The Ark, you’re dealing with a piece of history,” says Cubbage of the intimate 400-seat venue steeped in decades of American music narrative. “My goal was to create a rig that visually emulated the classic PAR rig it was replacing.”
To mimic that vintage PAR look, Cubbage used 30 Fuze PAR Z60 IP single source PAR luminaires, which have a lens face that appears as one colour instead of individual LED diodes for a non-pixel look reminiscent of traditional LED wash fixtures.
“With the COB single source, they emulated the PARs they were replacing,” he states. “I knew if I put up a bunch of LEDs, the extremely loyal audience at The Ark would be offended by the ‘skittles’ look.” Cubbage also needed a fixture with a wide angle to deal with the room’s low trim and because the designer had used Fuze PARs for a previous outdoor install, he knew they were IP rated and therefore fanless and quiet. “The Fuze checked all my boxes: LED, quiet, old-school source look and wide angle.”
Because space on the floor is at a premium, all of the Fuze fixtures hang overhead with some outfitted with barndoors, which Fantasee project manager Nate Mulvihill says are wonderfully effective. “Having the barndoors was huge for us,” he says. “It’s a sleek fixture so you don’t need the barndoor, but having the option was important as all the audio is in the air and we use them to peek around the speakers and keep light just on the stage.”
Providing the backline wall wash are 12 SixBar 1000 IP battens with 6-color LED multi-chip. “The room is backed with a big black curtain and I pushed hard to get some lights on that,” Cubbage says. “I was pretty insistent that having the ability to colour the backdrop was going to be a game-changer for them, especially in terms of the photos and video coming out of there.”
Because The Ark is a space where some of the biggest names in folk music often perform solo and frequently with only an acoustic guitar, silent fixtures were a must. “We went with IP rated fixtures, not because they needed the IP rating but because it’s a folk music venue and fan noise is a real issue,” says Fantasee’s Nate Mulvihill, who installed the lighting. In fact, trim heights are so low that the FOH lights are right over the audience’s head. LD Cubbage adds that a further consideration was creating a lighting rig that didn’t require maintenance or having volunteers climbing ladders to focus every night.
The project came to fruition in late 2018 with the install taking place over a quick three-day period in late January. “Fantasee did a fantastic job as both vendor and installer,” Cubbage says. “We finished out the purchase process in a flurry of activity before the end of the year, and their rep and I were both back-and-forth on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to make it happen on time.”."
(Jim Evans)

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