UK - Lighting designer Will Dart stepped out as one of the first users of Avolites' new compact-yet-powerful Quartz console last month, using it to control a sophisticated design for singer-songwriter Charlie Simpson's UK tour.
The tour included a show at London's iconic Roundhouse, with Dart's vintage and paired-back lighting theme making use of the venue's impressive house rig. The designer also specified the retro-designed JTE Patt 2013 luminaire and some large 5K Fresnels (retro-fitted with 2K lamps) from Siyan Ltd to add to the throwback feel, using the ultra-versatile Avolites Quartz to control the set up.
"I heard about Avolites developing this new desk a while back but it was only at PLASA that I first got my hands on it," says Dart. "I had a quick demo and was very impressed with how it handled quite demanding tasks with ease. At the time I was putting the finishing touches to the show with Charlie, and Avolites very kindly agreed to let me try the Quartz. Getting to try out the latest technology is a real attraction but I was specifically drawn to it because I wanted to find something that could handle multiple roles in my set up. I can't always apply the same desk to each project so having something so versatile is a real bonus."
Dart owns an Avolites Titan Mobile and Titan Wing, but often specifies an Avolites Tiger Touch or Sapphire Touch for bigger gigs.
"I wondered whether if going to Quartz - something physically smaller - and still trying to achieve the same results would raise any issues. However, despite having a slightly smaller screen, the desk is optimised to use it efficiently so I really didn't feel like I was losing any space compared to the Tiger Touch," continues Dart. "Although you are losing the extra faders and macro/executor buttons, you do quickly find that you have no problems programming your show without them, especially if you cue-stack rather than busk the show. For anyone looking to take an Avo on the road who is restricted on budget and space, this could easily solve their problems."
Dart's design ensured his retro-style additions would integrate with the Roundhouse's rig, following the way the room curves around the back of the stage. Having done the vast majority of the programming in the run up to the show, Dart got hold of the Quartz the night before, giving him just enough time to power up and load his work in.
"The thing that really impressed me was the easy transition from the mobile layout," says Dart. "I've come to get used to how easy this is across the range, and this makes home programming a breeze. It's also small enough that it doesn't require masses of office space. When it came to the show, using the console quickly became second nature and felt no different to using anything else in the range. The user interface is as familiar as it's ever been. It also performed perfectly.
"Quartz also has real ability as a fly desk for overseas shows, so I could certainly see myself having it as my main console for next year's festival season."
Charlie Simpson's headline Roundhouse show was his biggest to date, celebrating the release of his Top Ten second solo album Long Road Home. He will be embarking on a Solo Acoustics tour throughout the beginning of next year, playing a string of intimate shows without his band for the very first time.