Pro-Light-News Touring & Rigging

Carling Academy Oxford features state-of-the-art lighting design

Opened in September 2007, Carling Academy Oxford is the new 1,350 capacity £2 million live music venue of Academy Music Group (AMG), owners and operators of multiple live music and club venues across the UK. Bristol-based lighting specialists, Utopium have once again worked with AMG to introduce state-of-the-art facilities to the design of its 3-room operation at Carling Academy Oxford, located in the city’s vibrant Cowley Road area.
Richard Maides, Academy Music Group’s Operations Manager says, “We have worked with Utopium on a number of installations at our venues in Newcastle, Bristol, Liverpool, Islington and Glasgow and as a group we invest heavily in both our PA and lighting equipment. We aim high in our production values so that all AMG properties offer the same excellent in-house production facilities for both international touring acts and the very best for upcoming talent looking to play top class, professional venues”.
Utopium’s Angus Chinn has designed the stage and dance-floor rigs to provide a versatile system for all rooms. “Lighting in all the spaces has to be as flexible and dynamic as possible.” explains Chinn. “The rigs in the larger rooms are comprehensively specified so touring artists don’t have to bring in their own productions, although the systems can accommodate special formats. Avolites and Robe were chosen because they are both well known, rock solid brands, very reliable and with good support – all the elements you need for a high profile installation.” The Avolites Pearl 2008 and Azure consoles were supplied direct from Avolites and the moving lights and Anolis LED fixtures from Robe UK. With Avolites at the front end, Chinn is confident that the console will be familiar to the vast majority of visiting LDs.
The brand new downstairs main arena at Carling Academy Oxford has a capacity of up to 1,020. The moving lights in this room are 8 Robe ColorSpot 250 ATs over the stage and 4 Robe LEDWash 136 LTs over the dancefloor and there are also 2 Robe LED Blinder 148LTs. Other fixtures include 2 standard 4-Cell Blinders, 2 Atomic strobes, 4 Bars of 6 PARs, 12 Single Pars and 4 Source Four Junior Zooms – all controlled by the Avo Pearl. Dimming is LightProcessor Dimension and power/data is distributed via a custom-designed Andolite patch bay.
The stage lights are arranged on front and rear over-stage trusses. These are special shallow depth “Ballroom trusses”, as strong as the conventional square shape, but flatter, thus ideal for low ceiling environments.
The Robe LED moving lights are part of the new circular dance-floor rig and are attached to a 6 metre trussing circle running around the central pillars of the room along with 12 Chroma PARs.
Carling Academy Oxford at opening day
The second upstairs room is a 436 capacity space. The moving lights in here are 4 Robe ColorSpot 250 ATs, rigged onstage to a goal-post structure at the back. Other units include 8 High End Trackspots, 14 LED PARs and another 12 conventional PARs with 2 Martin Atomic 3K Strobes. Lighting in this room is controlled by an Avolites Azure console. “Small, neat and packed with everything you need for this type and size of venue,” says Chinn.
The rear bar of the Zodiac features 16 Anolis ArcSource 3 RGB units fitted into MR16 cans which are fixed to the wall, illuminating 4 mirror balls for a classic lounge area ambience.
Bar Academy is the third strand to the operation. It’s a stand alone 220 capacity venue which can be a third room for club nights. Here, Utopium and AMG chose to use one set of dual-function lighting units for atmospheric bar illumination and to highlight the performance platform.
The Anolis ArcLine Optic 36 RGB strips are positioned along the top of the walls and controlled by an ANYtronics IR remote located behind the bar.
The project also includes an Anolis LED exterior lighting scheme illuminating the Academy’s frontage, which makes a statement and ensures the venue will become a well recognized local landmark. The frontage of Carling Academy Oxford is enhanced by three Anolis ArcSource 36 RGB Exterior LEDs for a colour changing effect.
“We’re delighted with the lighting specification for Carling Academy Oxford. It’s a major part of our investment as this venue is set to be one of the busiest in the group, offering some 270 club nights and in excess of  320 gigs per annum; therefore high quality equipment is essential,” concludes Maides.
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