Five Decades of Lighting – USITT 2010 Lighting Commission Special Exhibit – Consoles Edition


One of the more awesome things I saw this year at USITT was the Lighting Commission’s exhibit on lighting equipment history – “Five Decades of Lighting.”  Todd Proffitt (@tm204) and Josh Williamson (@joshwilliamson) were involved with this exhibit, and I think they did an outstanding freaking job of putting it together.  I’m sure I’m not including many people who worked to make the thing happen, but nice exhibit!  I broke this up into two posts:  one on consoles, and another post tomorrow on fixtures and other equipment.

You might notice that these images of lighting control surfaces is not in any kind of chronological order – this is actually intentional.  Take a look and see if you can identify some of the characteristics of the various consoles over the course of the years.

The “Five Decades of Lighting” exhibit had fixtures, dimming, and consoles from the last five decades.  It was pretty great to actually get my hands on an old Light Palette Two – what nice wood detail work!  Can I order a Hog III with the cherry and maple inlay?

Also, it was awesome meeting Fred Foster from ETC and hearing him tell stories about the first consoles he designed, and the funny little tidbits he was sharing.  You’re pretty cool, Fred Foster!

Check out a quick video I made of the console section, followed by a ton of images.  Literally.

USITT’s 2010 Lighting Commission Special Exhibit – 5 Decades of Lighting – Consoles from Jim Hutchison on Vimeo.

The Strand 300 Series lighting console (I’m a big fan of the Strand 520i from back in the day):

the Obsession I (before it became the Obsession II):

a Luxtrol autotransformer unit.  Come on, you’ve seen these, yeah?  We always had one in undergrad powering the tech table lighting:

“That’s not a lighting desk.  THIS is a lighting desk!”  (the Light Palette Two).  I mean, literally a desk.  You can also fly the Starship Enterprise with that console:

Light Palette Two built-in keyboard:

The Light Palette Two, front side:

Lighting Methods, Inc’s little two-scene preset:

The Kliegl Performer – yes, that’s a cassette tape:

an old Kliegl Bros 2-scene preset, and a Century Lighting Edkotron controller:

Everybody knows the Express series – here’s a 250:

The ETC Vision – also see the Microvision FX, which wasn’t at the show, but you could hear the jubilant cries of “MICROVISION FX!” from the conventiongoers:

The ETC Idea – another of the early ETC desks that people came to know and love:

The ETC Eos – so sleek!

This thing – this is amazing.  This is the ETC ELC (Entertainment Lighting Control)

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  1. A Kliegl Performer! The first programmable console I ever used, circa 1985.

    The Luxtrol? Yeah, down here in the South we’re stilling replacing those!

  2. We have so many of those fixtures here… and some they didn’t even have.

    Our first board in HS was an ETC ELC I believe… Also I hate the Strand 300series so much… so. so much

  3. I’m with Trav–I’ve used several of those desks recently. Actually, the Express series might be my favorite desks ever made, and it’s a good thing, since they seem to be the ones I run into most often!

  4. Loved the Eos chilling out at the end of the lighting history section. No pre-viz hooked up but it was always empty and played around for half hour or so.

  5. All i did was bring the Kleg 9 pac. Josh Williamson headed up this group with the help of several of his students and Tracy Fitch. Andrea Bilkey did all the great research finding cut sheets and data i thought had long past. It was an amazing exhibit and the best part was hearing all the storied on the floor from all those who came over.

  6. arugowski, if you remember a console that looked like the ELC, it might have been an ETC Concept 250 or 124. I’m pretty sure this was the first time the ELC was seen outside of Epcot and/or ETC. It was the first console to bear the ETC name and there were only 6 of them made, all as a special order for Epcot.

    The development that led to that console then spun off to the Concept consoles and down through the lineage to the Expression and Express consoles that ETC only stopped manufacturing a year or so ago.

    My favorite war story from getting the exhibit up is how the students from WVU were just about to drill out the key switch to get the Light Palette Two up and running when a member of the lighting commission wandered by who just happened to have a Light Palette Two key on his keyring! That’s a sign it was meant to be.

  7. Just tripped across this – was wondering if you guys had a DataCue at the exhibit, I worked on one (I think there were only 5 of them or so in production run?) out in KC at Mo Rep (now KC Rep) way way back in the day – 10″ disks and you ordered the cues yourself and could do alpha-numeric titles and arrange randomly (2backbed could come after 3nearchair) – DW

  8. Great shots of the ELC, and it’s still got the membrane keyboards (and in legible shape). I was an EPCOT lighting tech and used one for several years. The membrane keypads (originally designed for the Florida humidity and rain) were prone to disintegrating, forcing DACS to replace them on a fairly frequent basis. That’s why the Idea used the small LED buttons that were popular at the time (also on the Prophet 5 synth). I was one of the techs that tested the first Idea at America Gardens and spent a lot of time on that board – it was a great controller at the time.

    I do think that more than 6 ELCs were made. I remember at least that many at EPCOT and several were in use at the Magic Kingdom – I think at both The Castle and Tomorrowland Theatre. I also remember seeing a couple of them used for portable shows. I could be wrong on that, though – it was a loooong time ago.

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