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Emilio Aguilar covers Costa Rica with Obsidian NX2 lighting console
Costa Rica – Like many in the lighting industry, Costa Rican lighting professional Emilio Aguilar has used the pandemic downtime to learn new competencies and improve his skill set. Finding himself back home in Costa Rica last spring following Cirque du Soliel’s bankruptcy, Aguilar got in contact with long-time collaborators Luces y Sistemas, the exclusive distributor of Obsidian Control Systems products in Costa Rica. “I inquired about the NX2 lighting console, which I thought would be the perfect console for the types of gigs I do,” he states. “They were happy to show me the console and in the end it was just what I wanted.” Luces y Sistemas provides full support for the entire Obsidian line of hardware and software lighting control solutions in Costa Rica.
Aguilar has worked as a college professor of theatre design, as well as freelancing as a lighting designer and programmer/operator for the past 20 years. His adept resume also includes working for RSTV, a leading entertainment technology provider in Central America, as well as a tenure at Cirque du Soliel. Since July, he has used the NX2 on about a dozen different gigs, including a livestream transmission celebration of the 20th Anniversary of singer Arnoldo Castillo's career.
Castillo, a successful businessman and Costa Rican pop singer, is an artist Aguilar knows well, having designed the lighting for his band Los Tenores. Produced by Universal Entertainment Production Company, the special Anniversary livestream show was broadcast in early November from Estudio 14 in Costa Rica, a recently refurbished warehouse space that is now one of biggest and best-equipped private studios in the country.
Aguilar handled the stage and lighting design for the livestream show and used the Obsidian NX2 to program a total of 17 songs plus another series of looks for TV. In total, he used four universes with one of those sACN to control Beyond laser design software. Pre-programming was done using Capture lighting design software.
Aguilar used to utilise the M-Touch and M-Play but was lacking a console where he wouldn't have to carry a computer and display screen with him. He comments: “The NX2 is a powerful, all-in-one solution but is small enough I can just put it in the passenger seat of my car and take it to a gig. It gives me 64 universes without having to add anything so I can use it for a wide variety of shows. I can even get 128 universes if I hook it up to my computer with my USB One-Key. In fact, all of my other solutions – the M-Play, M-Touch, M-DMX and MIDI controller – I can still use with the NX2. With the NX2, I have a plethora of options to interact with other software and hardware. I can use its MIDI capabilities via one of the USB ports or use an actual MIDI connector. It has two Ethernet ports that can be independently addressed so one can be used to output Art-Net while using the second port to interact with other consoles, visualisers, or anything that can be networked to the console! I can get SMPTE using MIDI, Art-Net or an audio signal connected straight into the console.”
Another aspect he finds agreeable is the overall feel of the console. “I'm really amazed how responsive the touchscreen is for example. You don't have to hit it twice to get it to respond. I have the four encoder wheels to control fixtures and then there are four more wheels on the side of the screen that I can map to control different features within the software be it FX values, base values, groups, etc. Those dials on the side of the touchscreen are very useful. The faders are nice and smooth as well. This form factor with that much power is great and on top of that, it's a nice looking console. When I get it out at a gig everyone's like wow!”
During the lockdown, Aguilar says he had a lot of time to experiment with the console and one area he has given special attention to is the console’s built-in Dylos pixel composer. “I've been diving into it more and more, using it for effects but also learning how to create a show using just Dylos.” Integrated into the Onyx platform, Dylos is an intuitive toolset of media composition, effects, animations, and text generators that isn’t overly technical and eases the creative process.
Citing his experience from theatre, Aguilar says that when he programs he goes for looks that are more static and not so much flashy effects. It’s a design style that he found compatible with Dylos. “What I like about Dylos is that I can use it for those energetic effects but I can also have control over the looks using Dylos imagery. For example, I can use the white square (or another figure) and by using the x and y size control I can make it into different shapes and then position it in different ways to get different looks out of the fixtures. I use it as a way to control the lights, not to just create effects and that is what I like about it. A lot of pixel composers are geared toward just creating visual effects but with Dylos I can easily create looks that could be applied to any rig in any configuration. It's a different mindset and a different way of being creative.”
As testament to the shift in thinking, the LD recently programmed a show using just Dylos. “The Costa Rica Philharmonic Orchestra did a tribute to the Beatles and I used Dylos to create all the looks as well as the color and movement FX. The experiment was to create a base show using only Dylos zones that I could use later on in different settings regardless of the amount or characteristics of the rig. It was just a matter of changing the way I used to program and operate the console.”
Aguilar thanks Luces y Sistemas, who he says has always been very supportive, as well as the Obsidian team at Elation. “What I love about the brand is how involved they are with the customers and the needs of those who use the product,” he said. “That doesn't always happen with other brands. I've been thankful for that.”
10th December 2020
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