Ideal School Theatre Lighting System

We  currently have a fairly old lighting system in our school. We are looking to upgrade our systems. I need suggestions/help deciding and configuring our setup that we need/ want. We have 60 sum channels that need to be dimmed. We would like a system that is an all in one type of deal(where entry systems are not all over the auditorium. We also need it to be DMX controlled. Any suggestions on how we should design/configure our system. Also include all of the components we need to run this system!


  • There are many great ETC products that can be used as you describe. And you are right to ask for design help as there are many issues involved in replacing a dimming system, such as LED conversions, local building codes, energy management systems and even the general building conditions. Getting someone out to look at the building will be the next step. At some point the school administration will have to get involved, not just for permission but for funding and installation issues.

    In my  opinion the best option (slightly self serving as I do this work,) is to find an independent theatrical consultant. As experts in all parts of theaters they can provide the details and drawings necessary to get several contractors to bid on the work. Bidding procedures are usually required by public school systems. Your regional ETC office can tell you what consultants regularly work in your area.

    The next best option is to find a local dealer who can do a design/build project for you. Many dealers have staff with the expertise to design a system, and they can easily get help from ETC. Design build is often less expensive for smaller projects but it relies heavily on your trust of the dealer involved. Dealers can be found from the main ETC web page or by calling the regional office.

    School theaters are always multi-purpose spaces and must do many things besides the play of the moment. Your best focus beyond 'who' will be goals. Whoever designs the system should use goals defined by you and the rest of the school as a guide. A good understanding of all the people and events that use your space is needed. Looking to the future not just of the technology but of the programs and the school itself is always smart. Try to get past fixing todays pains and imagine what might be possible and how that would function for all those events. New equipment will fix the failures but it is also an opportunity not to be lighting passed over.

    Best wishes on starting a great project.

  • We have a new high school auditorium with all ETC equipment and an approximate 50/50 split between LED and incandescent fixtures for the front and side lighting.  The designers plot has all front light as LEDs and all side light as incandescent. I am interested in peoples thoughts about the side lighting being LED and the front light being incandescent. I have more of a dance lighting background so I lean towards more color flexibility in the side lights. Our school does not have a dance program so it is used mainly for drama and choir and band concerts.

  • I will never use LED fixtures for front lighting, it looks crazy. And yes, I like LEDs for side lighting.