For the prestigious Grammy Awards, which took place last night at The Staples Center, Los Angeles, lighting designer Bob Dickinson and console programmer Andy O'Reilly used a Vari-Lite Virtuoso lighting control console to 'mix on the fly' - literally creating the lighting looks for each performer just minutes before they took to the stage. As it was impossible for the pair to know the colour and style of each artist's wardrobe, O'Reilly received cues from backstage as each artist appeared, and then used the Virtuoso's facility for instant creation and editing of cues to create the right colour scheme.
For the fourth successive year, Britannia Row Productions has been engaged to carry out the audio production for the BRIT Awards, which moves to Earls Court 2 next week. Brit Row is continuing its association with sound designer Derek Zieba for the event. Chris Coxhead and Bob Lopez will be looking after the front-of-house sound, with Vince Sharpe and Andy Ray on monitors. Sound reinforcement will be drawn exclusively from Brit Row's Turbosound Flashlight inventory - the main system will consist of TFS-780 and 760 L-C-R clusters, with L-C-R delays and various audience and pit fills.
Michael Grade has purchased the famous Pinewood Studios for £62m. The former head of Channel 4 and BBC1 led a consortium of investors backed by investment trust 3i, which is buying the film studio from Rank, the leisure and entertainment group. The consortium is paying £55.5m in cash and £6.5m in a loan note. Rank had been seeking a buyer for Pinewood for some years, and on Monday it also sold its cinema chain, Odeon, for £280m. Rank is using some of the money to buy a DVD processing plant in Los Angeles for £11m.
A free on-line legal check-up for companies in the music trade using the web to sell their services or products has been launched by e-commerce experts, Laytons solicitors. To use the service, businesses simply e-mail their website address to Laytons. who will then carry out an on-line legal diagnostic and advise on what steps that business could be taking to ensure the website is legally watertight. Jonathan Oddy, head of Laytons' e-commerce unit, says: "Businesses must be careful not to infringe the copyright and trademarks belonging to other organisations, as well as the law relating to data protection and privacy, both in the UK and other jurisdictions."In addition, the government is planning to make it unlawful for the website of any UK business not to quote prices inclusive of VAT and any other custom duties before customers agree to buy. This, and many other issues, should be addressed as soon as possible.
Following the announcement at the end of 1999 that Trantec's UHF and VHF radio microphones are available to the export market for the first time, the company has announced the appointment of two European distributors. JBK Audio Pro will be representing the company exclusively in France, and Audio International, trading with its sister company Audium SRL, will be responsible for distribution in Italy. The two companies will begin trading immediately, and will be exhibiting at the AES Show in Paris and SIB in Rimini respectively.
In a move that marks an increased focus on professional commercial audio markets, Yamaha-Kemble Music UK has formed a separate department, headed up by Alan Johnson as sales and marketing manager. The new department, as part of Yamaha's pro-Music Division, will be separate from the current pro audio department and will concentrate on the areas of live sound, outside broadcast, installed sound systems, touring sound, professional recording, audio post production and broadcast applications. A number of initiatives are already in place, such as a dedicated dealer hotline which will resolve any technical and system enquiries. Also, to coincide with the UK launch of the PM1D digital live mixing console, a PM series support helpline has also been established, active from 9am to 11pm seven days a week.
An innovative joint technology and media partnership is giving fans of the Rugby Football Union's Six Nations Championship a giant screen view of the action at Twickenham. Screenco has teamed up with Blink TV, content providers for giant screens at sports event sand rock concerts, to offer the RFU a unique media proposition for the championship which benefits fans and sponsors alike. Under the deal, Screenco has installed at Twickenham the largest outdoor screen ever seen at a European sports stadium - an ultra-high resolution 76sq.m Sony JumboTron daylight screen. Blink TV, meanwhile, has negotiated on-screen advertising and sponsorship deals covering all of this year's matches at Twickenham.
The Ambassador Theatre Group Limited (ATG) has recently added a further seven high profile London venues to the ATG portfolio, bringing its total holdings to 16 buildings and consolidating its position as a major industry player. The seven theatres, previously managed by Associated Capital Theatres, include the Donmar, Albery, Phoenix, Piccadilly, Wyndhams, Comedy and Whitehall and are renowned for playing host to a variety of first class productions. The Group currently owns and operates the Duke of York's and the New Ambassadors in London's West End, the Ambassadors Centre in Woking and also the historic Theatre Royal, Brighton.
World-class arts facilities are proposed in Rick Mather's Masterplan for the South Bank. The draft plan for the 30-acre South Bank site, from County Hall to Waterloo Bridge, includes a brand new British Film Institute showcase, the bfi Film Centre, a new concert hall to be built beneath the park and a new performance and conference complex. Phase 1 will see a major refurbishment of the Royal Festival Hall which will include a new lecture and recital hall and improved education facilities, as well as work on the auditorium to upgrade the technical facilities and improve the acoustics. The total cost of this first phase will be between £40 million and £50 million. Already the Heritage Lottery Fund has agreed an in-principle award of £12.5 million for the public spaces. In respect of the auditorium and acoustics SBC is to apply to the Arts Council of England Lottery Fund for a portion of the £25 million allocated to the arts aspects of the development. Phase 2 will address The Jubilee Gardens and Hungerford site and includes extending Jubilee Gardens. Beneath the Hungerford end of the park, a new flexible middle-sized concert hall will be built. This is where the new bfi Film Centre will also be situated. Phase 3 covers The Waterloo Site. The Hayward Gallery is to be retained as a stand-alone building, refurbished and extended within its existing site. Full story March L&SI.
Stage Electrics is to rent 2,000sq.ft of space at DHA's London Headquarters. This will provide the company, which currently has branches in Bristol, Birmingham, Exeter, Plymouth and at the NEC, with a London base from which to offer its range of technical services for the entertainment, leisure and events industries. The new facilities will include a demonstration area, trade counter and drop-in café. As a result, DHA is relocating its production workshops upstairs, the first part of a planned refurbishment of its Waterloo-based offices. Diane Grant of DHA explained that the two companies will continue to operate independently, but will both benefit from a practical alliance. It is expected that Stage Electrics' new office will be up and running by 1st June.
The Institute of Sound and Communications Engineers is organising a two-day course covering Basic Acoustics for Sound System Professionals. This will take place on consecutive Saturdays - 18th and 25th March - in Manchester and will cover such diverse areas as how sound behaves, direct and reverberant sound fields, sound in large and small spaces and use of physical and computer models. The course fee (ISCE Members - £100, Non members - £130) includes the cost of written materials and attendance certificates.
Following an audit by Quay Audit Limited, Stagetec successfully obtained certification to ISO 9001 Standard. According to Andy Stone, adopting the procedure within these standards will make the company more efficient and enable it to continually improve the levels of customer satisfaction.
Starlite Systems Technology (London) has announced its acquisition of data and intellectual property rights previously branded under the ShuttleCAD banner. The acquisition has spawned two new products into its family of industry-specific drawing software; Stardraw Audio and Stardraw AV. The data takes the form of thousands (approx. 12,000) high quality symbols of products by manufacturers active in the professional audio and A/V sectors. Starlite's Director of Software David Snipp explains: "In the past Starlite has provided the software engines that drove Stardraw and ShuttleCAD products, but the symbols we used were generally produced out of house. By bringing the manufacture of software and symbols under our control we can concentrate on development and let our distributors deal with the selling."
'The Trace', a unique multi-media installation by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer and Will Bauer, was at the centre of the retrospective of contemporary art that was exhibited recently at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in Canada. The installation was a 'telepresence' experience where people in different rooms of the museum could share the same interactive space. Two Martin Lighting Director (MLD) tracking systems were used to monitor the position and movement of participants in 3D and their presence was reconstructed in real time in the rooms using intersecting light beams, floor projections and positional sound. Automated followspots provided ghostly 3D representations which matched the movement of participants in the remote rooms. The installation used eight Mac 250 units for the aerials and four MAC 250+ fixtures for the projections. In addition, four MAC 300 moving heads were fitted with speakers and parabolic reflectors so that sound beams could also be directed to the location of the participants.
Paris-based loudspeaker manufacturer L-Acoustics has restructured its UK sales and rental activities. V-Dosc Rentals UK has been renamed L-Acoustics UK and will continue renting the V-Dosc and dV-Dosc systems. The major change is the incorporation into L-Acoustics UK of the sales and technical support for all L-Acoustics products, thereby focusing the two distinct business activities under one roof. All sales products will supplied direct from Paris, including the purchase of V-Dosc and dV-Dosc for permanent installations. L-Acoustics UK will be managed by Paul Nicholson, with responsibility for both sales and rental activities.
Marquee Audio has supplied a Soundcraft Series Five 56/32 monitor desk to accompany 'Riverdance - The Show' through its European tour. The sale came via Mikam Sound, the production's official sound contractors. The console was specified by Mick O'Gorman, the show's sound designer, to fulfil the company's growing needs, following a complete changeover to in-ear monitoring. He observed: "To pull off the change we had no choice but to get a bigger desk; there simply were not enough channels previously to satisfy the demand. We'd used the Series Five on the US tour and as it would accommodate our need entirely, there was no question of what we would opt for."
The Opera House in Bournemouth, Britain's largest independent nightclub and home to the infamous club-night 'Slinky', now boasts a complete Martin Audio Wavefront system which serves the whole venue. The club, awarded the South West Region's 'Club of the Year' title in the 1999 BEDA Awards, purchased units through London-based LMC Audio, to create a left and right flown array either side of the DJ booth in the main dance area. Each flown array consists of five W8S hybrid bass units, a full-range W8 and two W8C Wavefront compacts. The new house system is controlled via two BSS Soundweb DSP networking systems, one of which is tasked with limiting and compressing the main audio input and running the W8Cs, while the other is used to provide a mono sub/bass signal to the W8S and W8.
Trantec Systems has announced several high-profile orders for the S5000 Series. Wigwam Acoustics has purchased 22 S5000 units (beltpacks and levaliers) for use on the forthcoming Carousel tour, currently in production rehearsal. Wigwam has also supplied 12 Trantec S5000 in-ear monitoring systems for the upcoming Feet of Flames tour. Other sales in January, include IEM and handheld units to BBC Manchester and BBC Newcastle, along with further sales to Orbital and Delta Sound.
The German University town Kaiserslautern recently added another attraction - the Riverside entertainment complex. MHB, an installation company located in Bexbach, supplied and installed the complete sound system for the complex, relying solely on HK Audio components. 16 LP118 subwoofers (1x18" direct loaded), most of them flown above the dance floor, six VT 212 II (2x12"/2"), two VT 108 (8"/1") and four VT 112 II, all powered by VX 2400 power amplifiers, are installed in the main discotheque 'Fantasy Dancing'.VT108 cabinets provide all the background music in the numerous bistros, restaurants and outdoor terraces. The dance café Hollywood's features a combination of VT112 II and LP118 subs. All systems are driven by HK Audio Digital Field Controllers, which incorporate complete phase and frequency correction.
German laser specialist LOBO Electronic is undergoing considerable expansion and is moving to new premises. The company can now be contacted at Robert-Bosch-Strasse 100, Industriegebiet Essingen-Dauerwang, 73428 Aalen, Germany.
Corporate event specialists Set 'n' Stage has completed a major set-building contract for Powerhouse Productions at Center Parc in Longleat, for a two-day convention held by Walkers Crisps. The contract included the building of a stage 40ft wide by 12ft high, as well as the supply of two front-projection 10ft by 7.5ft Fast Fold screens, which were designed into the set, as well as 5ft-wide logos for Walkers and Pringles. Production manager was Powerhouse's Phil Page, and Set 'n' Stage crew included Ron Golan and Rod Wallington.
Bristol-based Stage Electrics has invested in further stocks of EAW loudspeakers and Crest amplification, purchased from UK distributor Sound Dept. The purchase includes four EAW JF100Es, eight JF260Zs and a pair of SB250R subs, while the Crest amplification purchase includes six PA3301s, two PA4601s, four PA8001s and a PA9001. The new investment is attributed by the company to increasing workload in the corporate and conference markets.
Specialist commercial sound supply and installation company Willow Vale has been acquired by Connect Distribution Services Ltd, a £20M turnover company based in Birmingham. All operations will be conducted from Birmingham, and the company will continue to use the name Willow Vale.
Martin Professional's US subsidiary, Martin Professional Inc has been awarded the lighting contract for the Sepulveda/Century entrance of the new LAX Gateway project. Designed and specified by Los Angeles-based Dawn Hollingsworth of MRH Design (Moody, Ravitz, Hollingsworth Design Inc), the project will feature nearly 500 Martin Professional Exterior 600 lighting fixtures, used to illuminate columns at the entrance to LA International Airport. The fixtures will be programmed to change colour and will synchronise with an additional 15 smaller glass columns located on Century Boulevard, the main road approaching LAX. The complete lighting project will be controlled via a customised system of Martin ProScenium lighting controllers. Helix Electric Inc, constructors and engineers for the $25 million LAX Gateway portion of the $110 million LAX improvement project, are supplying the complete job. Upon completion in June 2000, the project is certain to be the largest automated exterior colour-changing lighting system in the world.