Rose Bruford College has an enviable reputation in the fields of theatre and performance. Initially established as a centre for training drama teachers by actress and teacher Rose Bruford in 1951, the college expanded in 1976 to offer the first UK Honours Degree in professional acting and theatre practice. Today, the College based in Sidcup, Kent, delivers degree courses across the whole spectrum of theatre including a three-year BA (Hons) in Creative Lighting Control. Rachel Nicholson is Programme Director for the course and responsible for the design and management of the curriculum.
“The Creative Lighting Control course was created in response to the industry demand for specialist lighting and video programmers and technicians,” explains Nicholson. “So it is a given that we need to invest in the most up to date and widely used control systems if we are to stay in step with technical developments. In order to maintain a high quality experience for this year’s larger intake of students we decided to invest in four Virtual-programming suites.”
“I chose to invest in four MA onPC Command Wings from Ambersphere Solutions; the grandMA2 system is great for demonstrating a range of programming styles and challenges and because the MA platform is used professionally in all areas of live performance. This means that the students will learn programming skills and techniques that are transferable to whichever industry sector they eventually go into,” says Nicholson. “We have always received excellent product support from Ambersphere – the College had some of the first grandMA2 Ultra-lights in the country – so it made sense to invest further in a product range that is always in high demand by the students themselves. They value the flexibility of the console which enables them to explore a range of programming strategies and I have faith in the quality of the build; it needs to withstand some very intensive use by the students.”
In each of the programming suites, Nicholson has installed a selection of consoles to provide the best learning experience for students who aim to be proficient in several consoles before specialising in the one that fits their chosen area of live performance. The MA option has proved to be a popular choice. “One of my graduates purchased a four MA onPC Command Wing last year and I watched students using it to programme video on the same network as one of our grandMA2 Ultra-lights with both consoles working on the same show file. It was clear that the Command Wing would be a flexible and popular teaching tool.”
“We were able to collect and set up the consoles ourselves,” continues Nicholson. “I had the benefit of previous training at Ambersphere in Park Royal and technical manager, Chris West is coming over early in 2014 to give the students some training. The advantages of purchasing four consoles are already paying dividends for the students. A class of just four are able to work with a tutor or a professional on a project. The students get more hands-on time which helps develop their programming skills and we can configure the set up in a number of ways in order to teach a variety of networking strategies for programming a show with multiple programmers and back-up systems.”
The consoles are used mainly in the virtual programming suites although, as the College stages over seventy five shows a year, there are times when they are called into live action. “We are very happy with the Command Wings and the students are certainly very excited about them,” concludes Nicholson. “They tick all the boxes as far as I am concerned and, coupled with Ambersphere’s excellent customer service, we know we have made a very wise investment.”