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Bideford College


Bideford College in North Devon recently opened the doors to its brand new Science and Sustainability facilities, following its award of a BSF Pathfinder project. The buildings, with an existing theatre, widely used by the local public as well as by the college itself, were to be radically extended and fitted with highly flexible audiovisual and production lighting systems. 1,800 students study a variety of courses in one of the country's most advanced new-build schools, a £45 million state of the art facility for theatre, media and other performing arts genres.

Education InstallationAs the audio, video and lighting integrator for this project, Stage Electrics' primary responsibility was to bring in the project on time, to budget and against specification. Stage Electrics was involved in the technical part of the project from a very early stage and was able to contribute fully to the design process. Once the project was underway, Stage Electrics were responsible for supply and integration of production electrical and data cabling; mechanical installation of lighting grids and bars, curtain tracks and curtains; facilities panels and termination; equipment rack supply population and termination; loose equipment; project management; AMX programming; audio system configuration; testing and commissioning.

Project Management

In conjunction with a college team led by coordinator Mike Newby - aided by Paul Williamson, Bideford College's ICT Project Coordinator - and architects, consulting engineers and projects managers NPS Southwest, Stage Electrics began an 18 month design process and focused on the college's needs and how to meet them. These included a requirement to integrate existing equipment into the new setup. The primary challenge was to deliver the requisite depth of flexibility site-wide, with built-in future proofing, within the budget available.
Flexibility was a keyword in this multi-faceted project and Stage Electrics' first task, working closely with the client, was to examine how best to link the college's proposed new facilities, to help the college exploit the variety of spaces to the full.

Networking Technology

Education InstallationNetworked digital multicore audio throughout the building was a primary requirement and Stage Electrics considered several technology options before recommending the RSS by Roland S-0816 and S-1608 digital multicore system, working over both copper CAT-5 and piggybacked on the college's fibre system, allowing the digital multicore system to be plugged in at any point via an IT patch cabinet.

This provides the ability to run media presentation and production at any location within the building. Routing is a combination of standard gigabit switches for the CAT-5 network, while using redundancy in the fibre system to provide the building-wide routing between the main ICT hub room and consolidation racks located throughout the building.

Complete Technical Facilities

Education InstallationProduction lighting for the theatre/main hall includes 96 channels of 2kW Zero 88 Chilli dimming, controlled by a Leap Frog 96 console, with additional AMX control for presentations. This allows intelligent operation when the two rooms are combined or separated, for ease of use, with the substantial DMX distribution and merging system well hidden behind the AMX interfaces. A production grid over the stage area / dance studio comprises cyclorama bars and four Stage Electrics proprietary internally wired LX bars. A similar arrangement over the main hall's auditorium allows shows to be staged in any configuration. Philips Selecon Rama Fresnels and PCs, and ETC Source 4 and Source 4 Junior Zooms, populate the rig.

The dance studio lighting can be controlled independently via a Zero 88 Juggler console and has a full complement of tabs and tab tracks, providing full blackout facilities and a motorized FOH curtain track, operable from either the stage management position or the AMX system.
The drama studios, each with 24 channels of Zero 88 Chilli dimming, are combinable and their audio and lighting services are fully selectable dependant on the room mode - again specified for ease of use by lecturers.

Stage Electrics installed a versatile sound and communications systems consisting of Sennheiser G3 radio mics and RSS by Roland M-400 consoles, patching into the building-wide digital multicore system, with audio distributed to Yamaha amplification and RCF Acustica loudspeakers. AV installed comprises a Sanyo 6000 lumen data projector with an electrically operated projection screen and a full scale cinema screen, while twisted-pair cable infrastructure features Kramer switching for degradation-free distribution. Denon DVD playback and surround processing allows DVD playback through the loudspeaker system and an Omnex cinema system integrates 35mm projection with the sound facilities.

Fully Proofed Facility

College project coordinator Mike Newby commented on the end result: "It's a fantastic facility. A considerable amount of consultation with the myriad of users, from students through to staff and the community, was carried out to ensure we delivered, as far as practicable, a College-wide provision which is not only current but also future-proofed as much as is possible. We are tremendously proud of what has been achieved in collaboration with Stage Electrics".

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