The Royal Opera House

Moving Spirit for The Royal Opera, September 1999

In the Spring of 1999, Mark White and the team of lighting specialists at the Royal Opera House, which includes John B. Read and David Harvey among others, paid several visits to WWG's London Studio on a mission. They had a hole in the lighting system they were designing for the new House, due to reopen Winter 1999, and were intrigued to know whether WWG could offer any solutions.

With everything else in place, the ROH team needed a high brightness, HMI zoom luminaire with as many automated features as possible but, top of the list for all the obvious reasons, it had to be quiet in performance. What brought them to WWG was the knowledge that the design company are behind the twin axis, double mirror, beam positioning system as used on their own RazorHead searchlight project and by Coemar on their NATs. "The advantage of this system for us was immediately evident," says Mark White, "We had very restricted room for the hang, so there could be no question of an automated yoke in those positions. Furthermore, within reason, it gave us the flexibility to choose any luminaire on which to put the WWG head and, unlike other mirror systems, the periscope technique will always give us a symmetrical beam field." 

The luminaire selected for this treatment was the Juliat 2.5kW HMI zoom profile, universally favoured by theatre lighting designers, and by the time the design process had run its course, a whole new automated light emerged from the shadows. To global positioning, were added remote zoom/focus, framing, iris and scrolling colour. Naturally, all these attributes will run on DMX and in addition to the existing parameters of the fixture.

With reliability and quietness in mind, Peter Wynne Willson, WWG's partner in charge of new development, selected servo technology for the drives.

To emphasise both the low noise-pollution aspect, and to capture the essence of its flexible nature, the new instrument has been named Fantôme. "We chose the French spelling of Phantom as an acknowledgement to Robert Juliat, the French manufacturers of this excellent zoom profile," noted Tony Gottelier, "It has to be remembered that this is still a special, at least for the time being, as we are converting and retrofitting our technology to someone else's product."

Nevertheless, a prototype Fantôme made a debut apparition on UK distributor, Decoupe's, stand at the PLASA Show. "We have given full co-operation to WWG all the way through this project, as have Juliat," Decoupe's Tom Manning says, "Like the ROH, we can see the numerous advantages and, consequently, there was be a lot of interest in Fantôme at the Show."

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