Lighting companies support Backstage Academy students

There are 52 students currently studying the training academy's16-month Foundation Degree in Live Events Production (photo: Nick Robinson)

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28 August 2013

UK - Students at Wakefield's Backstage Academy have gained hands-on experience with a variety of today's lighting technology thanks to the growing support from lighting professionals, manufacturers and rental companies.

There are 52 students currently studying the training academy's16-month Foundation Degree in Live Events Production, which was independently written in collaboration with industry practitioners, (validated by The University of Bolton) and places emphasis on practical experience.

The month-long Lighting Module teaches students about the theory and art of lighting, basic lighting design principles for different types of event, lighting equipment and systems, visualization and pre-programming, and includes WYSIWYG certification.

For the second annual degree course, Backstage Academy received more support from lighting manufacturers, resellers and rental companies, who carried out training sessions, masterclasses and loaned equipment for the final project in the module, where students set up four different types of lighting rigs in the LS-Live Studio, where studies and work experience take place.

Avolites and A.C. Entertainment Technology offered training sessions to the students for the second year running. Avolites' Emma Thompson spent a few days teaching groups of students how to use the Avolites Titan software and also provided an Expert Touch and Avo Power Cube for the duration of the module.

Said student Jason Fox, "I really liked using the Avolites Titan system. Most lighting consoles have so many options that it's like a science project, but the Avolites system is easy to adapt to and understand. There is a great visualiser that shows you exactly what you're doing when blending colours and experimenting. I went on to use the Avolites Titan system at Crooked Ways festival during some work experience so it's the one I've used the most!"

Emma Thompson, training manager at Avolites, commented, "It was good to return to Backstage Academy, as it's key that the students have access to industry standard equipment during their time learning. It was an intense week for the students, having four lighting consoles to learn in four days, but they did really well and effortlessly grasped the Avolites Titan system."

A.C. Entertainment Technologies returned to deliver their training sessions on the Jands Vista lighting and media control range. Students were trained on the Vista v2 software, which is standard across all Vista hardware models, using a collection of Vista S1 control surfaces connected to a PC or Mac. The technology reseller left some Robe moving lights and a suite of Vista consoles, including the flagship all-in-one Vista L5 console, for the students to create one of the rigs in the Studio at the end of the module.

Ambersphere's Phil Norfolk spent a day talking to the students about the evolution of moving light and ran a masterclass on lighting fixtures using Clay Paky products. These were then used by the students to design, programme and operate a lighting rig for the final project. Phil's colleague Chris West provided console training looking at the grandMA and allowed the students to keep a MA Command Wing to experiment with throughout the Module.

Ultimate Lights worked with the Academy once again to sponsor two of the mains stages for the end of the Lighting Module, providing a pre-rig Par Can rig with moving lights to give the students an understanding of a generic, heavy lighting rig.

Ultimate Lights also sponsors Rock 4 Youth, a project managed by the Barakel Charitable Trust that aims to provide hands-on experience and opportunities for young people in backstage, sound, lighting and video.

Through this initiative, the company arranged for two Backstage Academy students to do work experience at the Battle of the Bands final of Rock 4 Youth at Doncaster Dome, and at New Wine which took place at Newark County Show Ground, where they installed 13 stages worth of lighting.

Said Ultimate Lights' Phil Williams, "It is our belief that it is our responsibility to provide a platform for local youngsters, to provide safe live music events to promote music as a positive outlet for young people."

It was the first year High End Systems got involved with Backstage Academy, delivering training on the new Hog 4 family of consoles to all the students. They also sponsored one of the lighting rigs in the Studio through master UK distributor AED Distribution UK, with demo equipment including two TechnoSpots, six Intellaspots, a Showbeam 2.5 and a RoadHog 4 console.

David March, sales director AED Distribution UK, said, "AED Distribution was very happy to get involved on behalf of High End Systems; we recognise the importance of giving students an opportunity to get hands-on time with the equipment as part of their studies, before they move into 'live' situations.

"We certainly found that many of the students relished the opportunity and got very hands-on with the different fixtures. This initiative also fits perfectly in our company's philosophy of learning through experience and that's why AED Distribution is committed to continue offering free hands-on training in 2013."

Four of Chauvet's Q-Wash 560z moving yoke wash fixtures were incorporated into one of the main lighting rigs in the Studio by the students, thanks to the company's donation. Whilst SGM UK loaned two white strobes and two colour strobes.

Said Chauvet's Sam Bowden, "Chauvet is a great believer in the talent of the future and frequently hires staff who have just completed technical courses.

"We feel it is essential to support and aid the fresh blood coming into the industry not just to continue to push live events forward in terms of the product available but also to see the unique and varying ways that people use it."

The students built the stages to accommodate the rigs using staging equipment loaned from on site rental company LS-Live, and Knight Rigging Services helped by providing their motors and assisting students to fly out the trusses.

For the second year, Artistic Licence donated some DMX equipment for the students to use, which included four Artistic Licence RDM DMX Splitters 2/4 and PSU (Duo-Split RDM), a DMX Merge unit and a DMX/RDM Tester.

Said director of courses Robin Watkinson, "We aim to give students a real insight into current working practices and technology so that we can deliver graduates who are 'industry ready' and that comes through the support of leading practitioners and technology providers."

(Jim Evans)

 

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Lighting companies support Backstage Academy students UK hands-on experience lighting technology rental training industry equipment second sessions loaned final project module rigs work year use Avolites Titan system consoles Avolites Vista moving console Studio fixtures rig Phil Module Academy stages provide people company live AED Distribution DMX

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