Entertainment

The Hamburg Thalia Theater on the cutting edge with an adunas stage management system

The object
The Thalia Theater in Hamburg/Germany is one of the three publicly owned theaters of the city. It is a drama venue with a resident much vaunted ensemble.  The auditorium seats about 1,000 visitors. The repertoire comprises some 20 productions. About nine new premieres are staged per season in the Great Hall next to the Alstertor. The original theater building opposite today's Thalia Theater was designed by the architects Franz Georg Stammann and Auguste de Meuron in 1843.

The job
The original stage management system of the Hamburg Thalia Theater had been somewhat dated and hence susceptible to operational faults. So after a period of intensive planning the management decided to have it replaced in the summer of 2015 with a new one comprehensively equipped for future requirements as well. While the new stage management console was supposed to be basically similar in design to the existing one, it was also to be capable of meeting the higher  standards of programmability, configurability, and ease of operation generally applied today. As the performance calendar showed a rapid succession of events, the system had to be installed during the summer break. A number of upcoming guest performances reduced the time left for installation to only four weeks so that all activities had to be precisely scheduled. 

The solution
The complexity of the requirements called for a high-performance, flexible control system with real-time capability. ASC engineers opted for a system with the brand name adunas which they were convinced would suit the Thalia Theater best. The adunas software is based on a client-server system architecture and uses a Beckhoff PLC industrial control system as a universal interface for all of the system components involved.

An industrial PC designed for mounting on a carrier rail is used as a server and central control unit. In the Thalia Theater two of these computers were installed in parallel for reasons of redundancy. The main server is continuously monitored. In case of a breakdown the second server takes over automatically. The I/O components are usually mountable on a carrier rail. Beckhoff offers an extensive range of input and output components suitable for any conceivable type of interface that theater applications may involve. They provide for connection to the system of key pads, rotary encoders, light signals and many other devices. Industrial components are associated with long-term availability. Besides they offer price advantages as well. To operate the system potential clients may be touch displays, information displays, and even tablets as adunas will run on any clients which are Windows-, Linux-, or Android-based. Adunas supports up to 256 of them. The HotConnect feature ensures that whenever a client is restarted it is immediately reconnected to the server. If expedient, system errors can be signalled to all clients. These are only two of a variety of measures contributing to operational safety. As far as reliability is concerned to use industrial components means to benefit from the know-how available in industrial plant engineering, as in this sector the technical standards applied are usually much more exacting than in the event management and theater domain.

Peripheral system components are connected to the central control unit via a real-time capable so-called EtherCAT bus. While the network infrastructure enabling this process is TCP/IP-based, it uses a specific protocol however. As the components are connected with a standard CAT cable type (CAT-5 minimum), the overall wiring effort is minimized. In this particular network structure the switching time is in the range of microseconds, and hence remarkably low. Actually the activation of a signal or the acknowledge message of a user take place virtually in real-time. It is another attractive feature of adunas that it allows maintenance to be carried out or system supplements to be integrated remotely from the user interface. 

Scene control, storage of stagings, and user profiles
A new feature that has made its entry into the Thalia Theater with the adunas system is scene control or the option of saving complete stagings. With it the  configuration of a system or even of the stage management console used for a particular staging can be saved and retrieved at a later date. With scene control the camera selection with angle and zoom, video monitor assignments as well as the preselection of light signals and other parameters can be set for each scene. Calls and monitor speaker levels can be preselected and many more settings be made. These automated functions relieve stage managers of a great deal of their work. In situations where monitoring speakers or video cameras are switched on it is possible to activate the automated function that warns the staff of the fact to ensure compliance with occupational agreements on data protection.

Moreover adunas enables user profiles to be established which are accessed following a password prompt when the system is started up or simply via the SSID. Thus stage managers can effectively personalize the stage management console according to their own mode of working. The use of coloured LCD keypads which can be labelled electronically with freely programmable functions adds to the general convenience of the system. Functions which are used frequently or follow each other rapidly in a production can thus be grouped together on a single keypad. The access rights, too, are managed via the user profiles.

Light signals
More than 100 light signals are available in the Thalia Theater which apart from the conventional ones now also include DMX-controlled types the brightness and colour of which may be adjusted as required. Adunas provides a great variety of signalisation options including that of displaying a scene number/name along with a time code etc. In the Thalia Theater the stage monitors will show scene numbers for instance. The touch display user interface includes layout plans of the theater where the positions of the light signals are highlighted for convenient location, selection, and assignment to a key so that the programming of the light signals is quickly done. 

Video
Adunas can also be used to control the crossbar distribution of video signals via an SDI matrix. The settings of the SDI matrix are programmed by the house technicians on a lower operation level and will then be retrieved automatically when needed for any particular production. Thus a video signal can be supplied to sound control for any particular staging and visual contact be established with the artist. Likewise the video routing can be used to record a performance, for instance for an understudy or for archiving purposes.

Questions? We’ll gladly assist.

  • Thalia-Theater_Slider-I_01.jpg

    Thalia Theater

    The Thalia Theater is one of the three state-owned theaters of Hamburg. The name Thalia was borrowed from the Greek muse of the arts of comedy and entertainment. Thalia is also one of the Three Graces.

  • Thalia-Theater_Slider-II_01.jpg

    Thalia Theater

    The adunas stage management consoles excel in maximum versatility of both the software and the hardware: additional functions can be implemented quickly, more interfaces and interface standards and additional control logic are conveniently integrated.

  • Thalia-Theater_Slider-III_01.jpg

    Thalia Theater

    Scene control implies that the camera selection with angle and zoom and the video monitor assignments can be set for each scene and the light signal preselection be configured along with a number of other functions. Calls and monitor levels and many other things can be preselected as well.

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    Audi City Paris

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