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Bakersfield High School Graduates to Avolites Sapphire Touch

Bakersfield High School Graduates to Avolites Sapphire Touch

USA – For 75 years, theatre students at Bakersfield High School have learned technical skills to prepare them for a life in the entertainment world. This year, Kern High School District invested heavily in its students’ professional education by upgrading Harvey Auditorium’s conventional lighting fixtures to LED and the lighting control to an Avolites Sapphire Touch running Titan v10.1 software.

Bakersfield High School is home to three different theatrical venues managed by supervisor and technical director Dale Olvera: the 1,646-seat Harvey Auditorium, 210-seat Little Harvey Auditorium, and smaller AV Theater seating 209. He also oversees the students who occupy those venues during the school year and the local arts community that uses the campus during the summer months.

“We used to be all conventional fixture-wise, but we currently have 140 moving heads and have on order another 80 moving heads, plus some other LED fixtures,” says Olvera. Citing the progression of Harvey Auditorium’s consoles, he continues: “We started with the Avolites Pearl 2004, then went to a Diamond 4, then Diamond 4 Elite, and now we’ve been enjoying the Avolites Sapphire Touch with an Avolites Quartz on-hand as a backup. We like the uniformity of Avolites’ consoles. Even though they have changed over the years, the core format and the way they operate hasn’t changed much – it’s still very similar and familiar – which means that we don’t have to relearn everything.”

He also points out that the Sapphire Touch, paired with Titan v10.1, nicely fits their needs, especially with the console’s power to handle larger shows, plus the visualiser and pixel mapping capabilities that offer students more opportunities. “We were looking at pixel mapping software and virtual stage, so we are trying to get workstations together to educate students so they can see what they can design on the real stage. Some students are learning to program and design their own shows, that’s another reason why we got it. Many our shows are student-run.”

Olvera appreciates the touch screen simplicity of the Sapphire Touch and has added two 21-inch touchscreens to expand it more. “I like a big workspace,” he shares. “In my right hand I have the whole rig, every fixture, so I just pick what I want and fire it off.”

The TD works with up to ten students each semester. “For some, it’s just an elective to get to graduation, while others want to pursue the theatre field beyond high school.”

Harvey Auditorium is a busy facility. There are at least two full main stage productions each year, including this past season’s Antigone and Anything Goes, the choir director’s Pops Concert (Welcome to the Jungle) and the band director’s show (Prism). Add to that up to a dozen smaller student/ASB productions,15-20 community related events and productions, and then they close out the school year with eight graduation ceremonies. Then summer begins and a new community event season swings into action.

“It’s never empty,” Olvera adds. But should the department need to control even more production lighting fixtures in the future, he knows they can do so by adding TitanNet Processors, which can take the Sapphire system up to 64 DMX universes.

Harvey Auditorium assistant technical director Matthew Jones is one of the initial programmers the students meet who helps them set up their shows and allows beginning students to learn the console by pushing the “GO” button or the faders. As they progress and learn, they evolve to program the entire show.

Olvera says that Mike Lehrman of local dealer Innovative Concert Lighting, Inc. (ICL) and Brad White of Avolites’ US distributor, Group One Ltd: “Make it a pleasure to stay with Avolites products. Mike is a great guy. When we have issues, we talk with him or his Avolites technicians. And Brad has also always been helpful. He spent three days with us, and gave us lots of good hands-on training. He’d ask, ‘Hey, did you know this?’ Or he’d say, ‘You think what you want and you do what you’re thinking by doing this...’ And he’d show us. Avolites consoles really simplify the whole process for us, they’re so intuitive.”

photo: Dale Olvera

3rd July 2017

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