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Vista at the Sydney Theatre Company

Never Did Me Any Harm is a new dance theatre work by award-winning director and choreographer Kate Champion (Not in a Million Years, The Age I’m In), exploring the complexities of contemporary family life. It is a co-production between Sydney Theatre Company and Force Majeure.

Force Majeure is known for making work that transforms the familiar and domestic into the poetic. Drawing inspiration from Christos Tsiolkas’ bestselling novel The Slap, Champion and her company interviewed people of all ages and backgrounds for their opinions on what makes a good parent.

Using a distinctive language of dance and text, Force Majeure and Sydney Theatre Company give full dramatic voice to these real life stories. In an unsettling yet familiar Aussie backyard, the fears of parents are danced, voiced and unraveled.

Set and lighting designer Geoff Cobham collaborated with Chris Petridis, video designer and assistant lighting designer, on the project. A PC running Jands Vista v2 software with a Vista M1 wingboard was used to operate the show.

Essentially I built the video system which included a Catalyst media server running ArtNet so that was an exciting factor in using the Vista for control,” Chris commented. “I find that the Vista is very compatible with ArtNet and networking.

The production utilised five standard projectors plus a Robe Spot 3000DT digital moving head projector so Chris was running two complete media server systems as well as a normal lighting rig.

Geoff and I are similar in our artistic approach to lighting and consequently we really favour the Vista because it‘s very intuitive in creating the desired stage looks,” explained Chris. “Other consoles can be all about numbers. With the Vista, instead of having to think about what you‘re trying to create in a mathematical manner you can think about it in an artistic way. That‘s the greatest thing about Vista and that comes across in the programming of it using features like the colour picker and having all the gobos visible when you‘re loading and programming them.

Like modern video and audio software, the Vista displays your designs as a series of ’events‘ laid out across the screen over time. This ’timeline‘ approach means that you can see everything that‘s happening in relation to time: when lights come on, when they go off, when they change colour, when they move. Chris is partial to Vista‘s timeline particularly as it uses the same shortcut keyboard commands as a PC or Mac.

It makes it so simple to move attributes between cues,” he added. “Rather than having to constantly think about tracking and how to pull attributes out of certain cues to move them, you can just click on the attribute and cut and paste as you would with any other software. Just the other day I showed this feature to another lighting designer and he was blown away by it. Being able to scrub the timeline is handy – you can move to the point where you want a new attribute to start fading and just drag the attribute to that point. That‘s fantastic.

The Vista‘s interface makes patching a breeze. You just pick the light you want from a list, type the quantity you want, then drag it over to the DMX universe screen. All done! The Vista also includes an extensive fixture library including profiles for the world‘s most popular and less well-known lights.

I find the patching on a Vista to be incredibly simple and I like having the visual 512 channel universe and being able to move stuff around that way is really great,” added Chris. “I like that you can have all the windows pop out and put them on a second monitor, it‘s so nice having a large visual display of what you‘re using.

Never Did Me Any Harm will be playing at the Melbourne Festival later in the year.

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