Denison High School's newly created Smith Auditorium
USA - In many educational theatre environments, students are often confronted with the challenges of learning their craft on outdated equipment, but every so often, a school district gets the opportunity to create a performance space filled with all the latest technologies available. At Denison High School, the newly created Smith Auditorium is one such case as Batts AVL was given the chance to install a completely new lighting system filled with lighting, dimming and control from Philips Strand Lighting.

"In the design of the new space, we were very fortunate to not only get what we needed, but also what we wanted," began Amy Jordan, Denison High School Theater Arts Department chair. "For the new Smith Auditorium, I wanted the students to have the most advanced lighting technologies so they could be best prepared to move onto careers in the theatre industry once they graduate. Through a generous grant provided by the Smith Foundation, I really feel like our district went above and beyond to make that happen."

With funding for the project in place, the school district called upon Batts AVL with whom they had developed a long relationship of trust. Understanding the end goal that the theater department had in mind, Batts AVL decided to install a complete lighting and controls system from Philips Strand Lighting that included the NEO lighting console, R21 Raceways, an A21 Dimming Cabinet, plus PL Series LED luminaires.

Jordan continued, "When looking at the console for the new space, I knew the limitations of our old board and how we wanted things to be controlled differently. Since we would be introducing quite a lot of LED intelligent lighting, it was imperative to find the right board that could not only run the new lighting system, but also not overwhelm the students at the same time."

"Initially the NEO lighting control console wasn't in the proposal, but as the project evolved and the NEO became available, we wanted to go ahead and install the latest console technology," added Mark Batts, Batts AVL. "I personally love how easy NEO handles intelligent LED functions, and it's much more intuitive than other consoles in organizing how you program these lighting technologies. In its control parameters, NEO is simply more expansive and it's a very impressive product."

"When I took the students into the booth to see the NEO for the first time, they were very eager to use it," admitted Jordan. "They didn't necessarily want me to tell them how to use it, they just wanted to get in and use it for themselves. The NEO is that simple, yet powerful. The shortcuts are extremely intuitive and it doesn't take long to create extremely layered scenes."

With the lighting control in place, Batts AVL also wanted to make sure that the Smith Auditorium had the latest in dimming technology as well saving both valuable building space and installation costs.

Batts explained, "In the facility, the combination of the R21 Raceways and the A21 Dimming Cabinet seemed like a no-brainer because we were able to completely eliminate the need for a dimming closet, and the wiring savings cost was pretty notable. The silent IGBT dimming allowed us to place the dimming in the performance area, but if we would have gone with a traditional dimming closet, we would have lost 100-200 square feet. In a new construction application where the value was approximately $100 per square foot, the A21 dimming cabinet and R21 Raceways literally saved us thousands of dollars."

Batts continued, "We have six R21 Raceways in the design with two in the catwalk and then four more on stage. The Raceways in the catwalk measure about 30 feet long, and the on stage Raceways each run about 48 feet long. All of the R21 Raceways have mixed circuitry to control the dimming of conventional, switching of LED and Intelligent fixtures, and I really love the convenience of the focus button that is located on the strips. Plus, if needed in the future, we ca


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