Pump House Theatre Gets Chilli with Zero 88

The Pump House Theatre and Arts Centre in Watford, UK, is a thriving hub for local and national performing arts and emerging talent and a busy receiving house with a lively programme of drama, musicals and dance, working to provide “arts for everyone”. The intimate 124-seat venue has just upgraded its power distribution and dimming system with the installation of three 24-channel Zero 88 Chilli Pro bypass dimmers.

The Theatre has both a resident youth theatre group and an adult theatre company and a raft of regular and occasional external companies and clients who hire the space for their productions and events, all of which use the house technical facilities.

Jason Brameld, who is technical director at Torpedo Factory Group – a long-standing professional customer of Zero 88, has also been Pump House Theatre’s volunteer technical director since 1996, and he specified the new Chilli system that was needed to deal with the increasing amount of LED light sources now in the rig and user demands for more flexible power distribution, a trend that is set to continue.

Chilli Pro dimmers are available in 4, 6, 12 and 24 channel modules, featuring 10, 16 and 25 Amp load capacities, with optional RCD protection, relay channels, bypass switches, RCBOs and HF dimming, all contained in slimline wall-mounting enclosures.

The Pump House’s new dimmers replace older ones, some of which were also Zero 88 products still going after 30 years, a testament to the brand’s build quality! However, the change was driven by the need to update due to general advances in more sustainable light source technology.

“We needed a more flexible system with additional options for hard power, so the Chilli Pro with ‘bypass’ functionality was a perfect solution,” stated Jason.

The Theatre’s permanent lighting rig currently contains around 30 LED fixtures and about 50 conventionals. Additionally, intelligent fixtures can now be added easily as required for some of the more complex shows.

The new dimmers also look to the future, where the proportion of LED lighting and intelligent fixtures in the rig is likely to increase, so more adaptability now seemed sensible in anticipation of future infrastructure changes and transitions coming over the next decade.

The installation was completed by Jason and the Theatre’s own technical team over the festive period and is now up and running as the 2020 season kicked off with “Little Shop of Horrors” produced by the Pump House Children & Youth theatre.

Jason mentions that the service and support from Zero 88 have been “fantastic – as always”.

The Theatre has enjoyed a great long-term working relationship with the Cwmbran, Wales-based manufacturer Zero 88 as a technical partner. Three years ago, they purchased an FLX console, and at that point, Zero 88, which also has an office in Watford, started using the Theatre regularly for product training sessions.

The FLX was actually Pump House’s third Zero 88 console, so, as with the dimmers, there is a consistent track record of Zero 88 control.

The desk has been a big hit. “It’s powerful enough to handle the bigger shows, yet logical and easy to use,” commented Jason, making it ideal for their crew of volunteer technicians and operators with mixed levels of experience and knowledge.

Photo 1074: shows Pump House Theatre’s Jason Brameld on the left with Zero 88’s Tyler Holpin

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