SSS uses Brompton LED processing and INFiLED LED panels for theatre and live events, chosen for their straightforward software and accurate colour reproduction at low brightness.

Brompton Just For One Day

Audio visual equipment rental company Stage Sound Services (SSS) supplies and serves large-scale shows and theatre productions. In business for over 10 years, over the past year the company had been looking for the right time to invest in LED equipment.

SSS’s owner Phil Hurley commented that theatre is a fast, fluid market with many design requirements, but also various budgetary constraints. Nevertheless, because 95 percent of their work is now theatre-specific, keeping up with the latest techniques and devices for their market is crucial.

Phil said, “We first used LED screens with Brompton processors in 2021 on The Drifters Girl, a musical about the R&B/soul vocal group The Drifters. From the conversations that followed with production engineers and designers, we could see that Brompton had established itself as an industry standard.”

Starting Out with LED

As a result, at the end of 2023, SSS decided to purchase several 4K Tessera SX40 LED processors and Tessera XD data distribution units for the romantic comedy I Should Be So Lucky. “Then we added more Brompton Tessera gear for the Old Vic’s production of Just For One Day, a new musical based on the 1985 benefit concert Live Aid, which started at the end of January,” said Phil. The XD units simplify the cabling between processors and LED panels.

For both productions, SSS worked with system designer and engineer Dan Trenchard, and video designer Andrzej Goulding to deploy the LED systems. Brompton Technology LED processing and INFiLED LED display panels are specified for both shows.

Dan has over ten years of experience in theatre, plays, opera and other live events, as well as touring musicals and concerts including Coldplay’s latest world tour, and is therefore familiar with Brompton LED processing. For I Should Be So Lucky he collaborated with Andrzej to select both the equipment and supplier, as well as design and install the system.

Brompton Be So Lucky

Now that LED systems are now becoming more cost effective and widely used in theatre, Dan believes SSS’s combination of LED panels manufactured by INFiLED, with Brompton processing, has marked a turning point for the company. It allows them to make LED available not just to large West End shows, but also to touring productions. It means that producers who typically wouldn’t consider the technology due to cost and logistics, have an opportunity to gain from its versatility.

Software for All Users

He mentioned the ease of use of Brompton Tessera software, which clearly displays visual data to live event crews, including those lacking experience in LED systems. “The software makes it immediately obvious if there’s a cable fault, for example. Other systems I've used can hide such information behind the user interface, leaving you with little insight beyond knowing there’s a fault. The combination of SSS, Brompton Technology and INFiLED have brought LED to theatre in a much bigger way than was possible earlier on,” he said.

Users can employ the software locally using a monitor, keyboard and mouse connected directly to the processor, or remotely by running Tessera Remote software connected via Ethernet. A separate Tessera Control app is available for controlling multiple LED processors simultaneously.

The software UI has a video pipeline display with shortcuts to all processing steps. Project settings like fixture group position, global colour settings and video inputs can be stored as presets, recalled and switched between. Presets can also be linked, which simplifies integrating an LED video within a larger system.

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Colour Reproduction at Low Brightness

Dan also sees advantages in the colour reproduction Brompton LED processing delivers, particularly when operating at lower light intensities. “Running at full brightness is rarely necessary in theatre, and is often too much. It involves a dynamic range of LED usage,” he noted, adding that screens typically run at no more than 80 percent of their maximum brightness.

Brompton’s LED panel calibration is dynamic. It adapts to employ the widest available gamut of the LEDs, however, the interactivity of the system means the desired brightness, primary colours and white point are user-adjustable. At low brightness, the processors are capable of dimming the visuals while maintaining the definition of the image overall. Recalibration can be done at any time from the UI on the Tessera processor, with changes reflected in real-time on the screen – even during a live event – which gives theatre venue operators like SSS the option to customise panel performance and appearance on-the-fly.

“In the world of nuanced theatrical productions, subtlety matters particularly when creating texture and gradients. Brompton LED processing delivers consistent results. As soon as Andrzej displays his work to the screen, it looks precisely as he expects it to. For example, we can work at very low light levels and set up slow, extended fade times, avoiding issues like banding and colour shifts encountered with other LED processing brands.”

A Better Understanding

The support provided by Brompton’s technical team is an important factor. “The quick, helpful responses we receive, whether via email or on-site visits, are vital in my line of work.”

Brompton Be So Lucky2

Given the specific challenges of the theatre market, Dan recognises the need for versatile approaches that balance the diverse requirements of theatre production with budgetary constraints. “We’re not in the realm of broadcasting, nor are we dealing with huge bands like Coldplay. We need a bit of everything, and it has to be cost-effective,” he said.

Understanding the capabilities of the products we are using is essential. Andrzej invests significant time contemplating the outcome of his work, and when we step into the room, the ability to reproduce an image accurately on the screen is everything to him.”