Business News

BSS Soundweb at ExCel Arena
Monday, 19 March 2001

The new paging system installed by Avalon Communications into the ExCeL as part of the 90,000sq.m world-class, state-of-the-art event space in London’s Docklands, will run on a major BSS Soundweb network. Corporate communications events at ExCeL are hosted in large, reconfigurable halls, enhanced by a sophisticated IT and communication infrastructure. The venue was intent on having a flexible paging system utilising the recently-installed Avalon distributed Jupiter voice evacuation system. Thus Avalon sales engineer Stephen McCay, in conjunction with LMC Audio’s Tom Davis, designed and commissioned the system to meet the venue’s digital networking requirements, based around ten 9088 Soundweb Mk2s and six 9000 hubs. "Whereas the Avalon equipment provides a fully-monitored voice alarm solution via a dedicated digital highway," said McCay, "we cannot match the flexibility or features of the Soundweb system for the public address element of this project."Two simultaneous spaces, with multiple microphone points, form the exhibition areas on either side of the central boulevard, and each mic point can be programmed to broadcast to any of the other exhibition areas or halls, depending on the configurations. McCay and Davis looked at two possible PC-based networking systems but quickly decided on Soundweb. Avalon, in conjunction with LMC, submitted a proposal, together with a picture of what the end-user interface would look like; the building contractors rubber-stamped the proposal, and Soundweb went online at the end of January.

Tom Davis o

Sarner’s Victory V at Portsmouth
Sunday, 18 March 2001

The latest phase in the development of Flagship Portsmouth, home to Nelson’s Victory, has been completed by Sarner International. Mike Mann reports.

The project, which involved several months of in-depth research, in collaboration with the Victory’s curators and crew, led to the installation of a shore-based ‘mood theatre’, which takes a personal view of the battle of Trafalgar in October 1805 - Nelson’s greatest, and final, triumph.

Using Alcorn McBride control and playback systems, Sarner’s David Dempsey, Ross Magri and John Griffin devised a four-scene experience, with an independently-controlled waiting area and several interactive elements. David Dempsey explained that in the case of the Victory Gallery, technology was used to make the story of Trafalgar more accessible, without trivialising this pivotal piece of naval history. "There was a huge amount that we had to leave out of the experience - but as both creative and technical people, we had to make sure that we didn’t ‘dumb down’ the story. We couldn’t lose sight of the fact that the Victory Gallery is a platform for educating people, rather than technology for its own sake."

Colin White, the museum’s deputy director and Peter Goodwyn, curator of the Victory herself, were keen to depict the human side of naval warfare, as well as presenting the strategic overview. To this end, individual mannequins were commissioned to man the replica cannons in the gallery’s ‘gun deck’; stock models were deemed inadequate, and memb

Sound Department Returns to Market
Saturday, 17 March 2001

Directors of the newly-constituted Sound Department chose the Frankfurt Musikmesse this month to unveil their plans for the future.

Following the demise of the former Sound Dept, the new company will commence trading from an operating base in Banbury, Oxfordshire, at the beginning of April, under the executive management of Steve Smith (MD), Andy Simmons (sales and marketing director) and Peter Nicholls (FD).

The new company has consolidated its position with all the premier brands previously represented, and will act as exclusive UK distributor for Crest Audio, Community Professional Loudspeakers, Sound Advance, Level Control Systems (LCS) and Australian Monitor Industrial (formerly Audio Telex).

Other key members of The Sound Department team are technical support manager, Steve Badham, along with Bruce Francis, who will now run the service department from a self-contained unit in north London, in an endeavour to provide the utmost in customer service and support for the world class brands that the company represents. Steve Smith commented to L&SI: "The past few months have enabled us to fully analyse our business, and in some areas change our operating practice to become a more cohesive and efficient unit. On this basis we have approached all our suppliers with our new blueprint, and without exception it has been met with absolute approval."

Andy Simmons added: "With the full support of our suppliers we are looking forward to an exciting future, sharing in the many new product launches that are in prospect, and once again becoming a leader in audio

New Far East Partner for Logic
Friday, 16 March 2001

UK-based loudspeaker manufacturer Logic System Pro Audio has recently appointed a new dealer to cover the South East Asian market. Following discussions at PLASA 2000, the company has announced that Singapore-based Del Salado Entertainment Pte Ltd has invested in products from Logic’s IS, CM and CS ranges. The company will be developing Logic System’s business throughout Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. Louis Teo of Del Salado says he pinpointed Logic System as an important up-and-coming brand name, while Logic believe Del Salado will be the ideal partner for making inroads into this vast market.

2001 Automated Lighting Academy
Friday, 16 March 2001

Flying Pig Systems and High End Systems have announced details of the 2001 Automated Lighting Academy - a comprehensive programme designed to educate participants in the fundamentals of automated lighting. The goal of the six-week course is to give each student the necessary skills and knowledge to be experts at using automated lighting to create powerful lighting designs. Those successfully completing the class will be fully prepared to work with leading lighting designers.

The 2001 inaugural course will run from June 25 - August 3, and will be based in Los Angeles. Some theory will be covered, but the focus will be primarily ‘hands-on’. Students will first be taught how to operate automated luminaires and consoles, and gradually the focus will shift to using these tools effectively. This learning will be done through a variety of projects and assignments. In addition, leading designers and programmers from the theatre, television and touring worlds will visit and share their various approaches to lighting. The course is intended for those who are serious about lighting and are motivated to learn. Standards will be high, and assignments will be evaluated. High-performing students can be recommended for future programming jobs. Tuition is US$3,500 (£2,400) for the entire session and includes all lab fees. Students will need to provide their own housing and transportation. The Automated Lighting Academy will attempt to locate some cost-effective temporary housing options for participants. Further details are available from the e-mail address below. Application

Screenco at F1 GalaScreenco at F1 Gala
Friday, 16 March 2001

Screenco installed 44sq.m of high-resolution LED image magnification at the Royal Albert Hall in February for a star-studded gala dinner to kick-start the 2001 Formula One Grand Prix season. Screenco featured their 15mm digital LED system at the event, configured for 4:3 aspect ratio material. The screen, the largest of its type ever installed at the venue, was flown upstage centre and integrated within the set design, to broadcast live camera relays of the VIP guests. The event, promoted by Chas Cole for CMP and produced by Andrew Zweck for Sensible Music, was held in aid of the Brain & Spine Foundation, whose patron is Professor Sid Watkins, Formula One’s chief medical officer. Entertainment was provided by Jools Holland and the Rhythm & Blues Orchestra, Chris Rea, Simon Le Bon and Gabrielle, among others, with the finale featuring Eddie Jordan & His All Star Band, including Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason.

Hanging Too Good for Richard III
Thursday, 15 March 2001

Rigging specialist Summit Steel has supplied a custom solution to a hanging problem for the Royal Shakespeare Company, as it embarks on the weighty matter of presenting the entire Henry VI canon, plus Richard III, non-stop, at the University of Michigan. The central scenic device for the production revolves entirely around a ‘hanging’ scenic device as conceived by set designer Tom Piper. At the Swan, this was an adaptation of an existing catwalk, fitted with two trap doors, through which siege ladders could be lowered through for storming the castle walls. Jon Bray of Summit Steel was called in to look at the problem. He explains: "It’s quite a simple device but used in complex roles; actors lowered through on ropes for example, the siege ladders, and in one instance the catwalk itself is used for a fight scene on castle ramparts. It does get very busy up there."

What the RSC needed for the US was something that was venue independent, pre-assembled, and transportable in kit form. "The decking has been built by Scott Fleary in Battersea and is 15m long by 3m wide, mounted to a platform made from our own trussing," explained Bray. "To facilitate all the props, and the raising and lowering of people and equipment, we’ve constructed an upper level of truss structure that houses all the wire winches, pulleys and other mechanical aids supplied by Foys and ourselves."

DHA Appoints New Iceland Stockist
Thursday, 15 March 2001

DHA Lighting continues its international expansion with the appointment of Exton as its stockist in Iceland. As Iceland's leading lighting supplier, Exton H/F, under the leadership of Gunnar Gunnarsson, provides comprehensive support to DHA as a distributor of gobos, moving effects and the DHA Gecko gobo projector. Based in Reykjavik, Exton H/F is involved in theatre, film and television lighting and can be contacted on telephone +354 896 2110 or at the e-mail address below.

Third Patent for Color Kinetics
Thursday, 15 March 2001

Color Kinetics has been awarded US Patent 6,166,496 for a method of augmenting a full variety of digital content - including video games, music, movies and even information - with the company's digital lighting technology. This third patent for the company covers systems and methods of combining and decoding lighting control information with an entertainment signal, so that video games, music, movies, and Internet content can directly drive full spectrum digital lighting to enhance that content. The result is a fully immersive experience where light - in an infinite variety of colours and intensities - interacts with sound, video or information to extend the entertainment experience beyond a television, movie screen, computer monitor or speaker system. Color Kinetics is branding this technology combination ‘Surround Light’. Potential applications cited by the company include the addition of a "light track" to a movie which enhances the mood of the movie and provides an immersive accompaniment to the action, from fiery explosions to sunsets.

Turbo in the Heart of SohoTurbo in the Heart of Soho
Wednesday, 14 March 2001

White Sound’s Josh White’s latest project was a sound upgrade for a new bar/restaurant in the heart of Soho from the owners of the ubiquitous Alphabet bar, for which he turned to the Turbosound TCS range of loudspeakers. White Sound was responsible for the sound system design and install for the Alphabet bar in 1996, and Josh was the obvious choice for Amber’s general manager, Spike Marchant. Amber is a modern styled bar/restaurant set over two floors. The ground floor restaurant features booth seating and required low level and discreet sound reinforcement. For this area, Josh mounted four TCS-20 cabinets on a dropped ceiling raft that runs through the centre of the room. This method ensured the speakers would not be seen - the sound is reflected off the walls into the seating areas.

Downstairs in the basement bar area - which again sports the booth seating, but this time around the edges of the walls, four wall-mounted TCS-35s create the sound atmosphere - with one covering the bar itself and the remainder serving the seating and dance spaces. One TCS-118 1x18" subwoofer underpins the mid-high boxes. The system will mainly cater for CD-playback and DJs.

AC Lighting Supplies to EssentialAC Lighting Supplies to Essential
Wednesday, 14 March 2001

When Tony Hall of Essential Lighting took the brief for a recent annual sales convention at the Wembley Conference Centre, he was challenged with a large and complex ‘gyroscopic’ revolve that was to be a centrepiece of the show. Whilst a mains feed could be run through the various slip rings, Tony needed to incorporate a minimum of 36 ways of generic control and three ways of dimmed neon in the revolve to dramatically enhance the main reveal sequence and create a variety of looks for the show. Aware of the existence of radio DMX technology but unable to find it anywhere in the UK rental market, Tony called A.C. Lighting to help source the product. The recommendation was to utilise a state-of-the-art RadioDMX system manufactured in the USA. AC Lighting’s Glyn O’Donoghue stated: "Using a RadioDMX system provides a ‘cableless’ transmission that permits the control of lighting and other DMX controlled devices in locations that it would be impractical to run cables to in the traditional manner."

Strand Lights Eastbourne Theatres
Wednesday, 14 March 2001

Eastbourne Council has embarked on a general lighting upgrade effective across the town’s three main theatres, The Congress, Devonshire Park, and The Winter Gardens. Knowing from the outset that Strand was the brand of choice to suit their requirements, the theatres’ technical team approached a number of suppliers before opting for London-based White Light - one of Strand Lighting’s trading partners in the UK. The complete order comprised a total of 80 Cantata fresnels and 16 Alto fresnels, all complete with barndoors and other associated accessories, as well as 18 SL15/32 zoom coolbeam spotlights. The fittings were supplied ready to go by White light which, combined with the company’s service policy, was an important factor in securing the sale.

Douglas Morgan, of the Eastbourne Theatres’ technical team, commented: "We had made an informed decision that Strand Lighting was the only route to take for Eastbourne’s Theatres. Most of the existing lighting is Strand and as well as the want for overall conformity, the quality of the Strand ranges is second to none - the fittings are robust and user-friendly. Additionally, the experience of the theatres, as receiving houses, is that most productions companies prefer designing their lighting arrangements through CAD packages, and therefore with Strand Lighting. Thus we find that our theatres greatly facilitate their production needs."

CT Score Best Picture at the BAFTAs
Tuesday, 13 March 2001

BAFTA, the British Academy of Film & Television Arts, specified a high level of video production for the Orange British Academy Awards, which was staged before an audience of 1700 people at the Odeon, Leicester Square recently. For the second year running, they turned to Creative Technology, who fielded the latest 3-chip DLP projection and a state-of-the-art modular LED display. Television viewers saw image magnification projected onto an 8 x 8 modular Lighthouse Technologies LVP-102D (10mm pixel pitch) screen to produce picture reinforcement on a 5.12m high and 3.84m wide canvass. Working through production company Initial, Creative Technology was also responsible for the flanking projections onto the walls, situated either side of the main screen. From its hire fleet, the company designated Christie Digital projectors - a pair of 3-chip DLP X6 Roadsters, offering digitally perfect projection and 5000 ANSI lumens output, plus the utility 7K Roadie, also with the 3-chip DLP engine, and the company’s first purpose-built rental staging projector. The units took their feed from BskyB’s roving cameras.

Color Kinetics Opens Japan Office
Tuesday, 13 March 2001

US manufacturer Color Kinetics has launched Color Kinetics Japan. The new company is the product of a thriving distribution partnership between Color Kinetics and ALS Inc. In the past year as a Color Kinetics distribution partner, ALS has successfully introduced the Color Kinetics range of digital colour-changing lighting to the Japanese market. The new company will market the full product line throughout Japan whilst also contributing to the development of market-specific technologies. Kiyoshi Otsuki, president of ALS Inc, will become president of Color Kinetics Japan, and the office will officially open on April 1 in Tokyo.

Pooh on Tour With Clay PakyPooh on Tour With Clay Paky
Tuesday, 13 March 2001

Italian rock veterans of over 30 years, Pooh have spent the past two months on an arena tour of 19 Italian cities, promoting their new triple-platinum album ‘Cento di queste vite’ (A hundred of these lives). Pooh, one of the few acts which manage to stay on stage for three whole hours, are renowned for the quality of their technical and musical presentation. Staging and lighting for the current tour is looked after by service company Xenon, owned by Renato Neri, who is using a wide array of Clay Paky lighting fixtures for the show, including the new Astroscan projector, launched at PLASA 2000. Neri says: "Astroscan is a spectacular effect that can create soft and relaxing atmospheres or powerful flashes of light. It can be positioned on the stage or up on the trusses, and covers the entire intermediate area thanks to pyramid head which oscillates at the speed and angle desired and creates a diffusion of the light beam on several axes at 360°. As well as providing an effect that blends in perfectly with the rest of the lights, Astroscan gave us the opportunity to light up the audience in a creative way, encircling it completely and making it an active part of the show."

Lighting designer Giancarlo Tosani, who has been lighting for the band since 1980, said: "I must say that Xenon provided me with everything I wanted and also Renato Neri and I are absolutely convinced that Clay Paky projectors outshine all their competitors. I installed the Super Scan Zooms on the central truss above the stage together with the Stage Color 1200 for basic lighting

SSE Audio Group Launched
Monday, 12 March 2001

Audio rental companies SSE Hire of Birmingham, UK, and Melpomen of Nantes, France, have announced a move to merge, with the formation of the SSE Audio Group. The move comes at a significant time for both companies: SSE are celebrating 25 years in the industry, whilst Melpomen has been operating in the French market for almost 20 years, recently adding office and warehouse facilities in Paris and La Rochelle to the main Nantes-based organisation. John Penn, MD of SSE, told PLASA Media: "We have been actively looking for ways to develop the business. The trend for sound companies is to expand purely by buying more and more stock. However, we have seen a steady decline in the amount of work undertaken by UK rental companies in Europe, through a combination of the strength of sterling and the number of strong European rental companies who provide a good service. As a consequence, we have seen an increasing number of tours using mainland European suppliers. With the merger of the two companies into one group, we will extend our service to our clients in the heart of Europe." Future plans for the Group include the development of a new range of products and services aimed specifically at the European market.

PSL Stages Management Buyout
Monday, 12 March 2001

The management team at Presentation Services Ltd (PSL), has purchased the assets and business of Gearhouse Group PLC’s Southern UK operation, together with the company’s North American operations. These include PSL and PSL Central, Lighting Unlimited, Set & Stage, Proquip, Presentation Graphics, Gearhouse Multimedia, ConferenceCast and Quorom Travel. In the US, both the Los Angeles and Nashville companies have been purchased. The transaction was concluded on Saturday 3 March and equity funding has been secured for the new company through 3i, with Barclays providing debt funding. The new Group is to be called Presentation Services Group Ltd; all of the companies will be relaunched under the PSL name and will continue to focus on the rental, staging, exhibition and concert touring markets. The new management team comprises Gary Davis, Chris Scadding, Darren Glossop, Irene McLean, Janet Smith, Stephen Rhodes and Nasser Abbas.

Fabric Sound System Revamp
Monday, 12 March 2001

London superclub Fabric has commissioned loudspeaker manufacturers Martin Audio to supply a new sound reinforcement system to be installed into the club’s two famous dance rooms. The upgrade takes place just a year and a half after the club opened. For the main Room One system, designed by Fabric’s technical manager Dave Parry and Martin Audio’s Richie Rowley - in collaboration with the Fabric sound team - eight Martin Audio W8C compact enclosures were specified, formatted in a quad array around the dancefloor and underpinned by eight of Martin’s WSX monster sub bass units. The sound design for Fabric’s Room Two incorporates the flagship products of Martin’s Blackline range - the H2 and H3s. The H3s are placed in a quad array format around the dancefloor, supplemented by a further four bi-amped H2 cabinets providing satellite fill down the length of the dancefloor. This system will also augment into a multi-channel spatial zoning arrangement with an OutBoard Electronics TiMax system.

Sunday, 11 March 2001

Traditional brewers Fuller, Smith & Turner, have entered the burgeoning London leisure suburb of Shoreditch - the trendiest colony in the capital - with their new brand, Katabatic.

With 3,200sq.ft offering a capacity of 480, and a late license inherited from the previous incumbents (Propoganda), this is prime real estate. The late night venue will eventually have cost £1.2 million to develop - a proportion of which has gone on an inspired sound, lighting and vision scheme across the two floors.

As well as offering views of the DJ practicising his craft inside, the exterior design shows off the encased foyer decor of AVR Colourchanger beams refracted from a cluster of tiny mirrorballs, with the campest of light sculptures providing an artistic backdrop. The colour-changing spots from Abstract and Martin Pro, working with the fibre optics, bring Katabatic (a metereological word meaning the downward flow of air) alive at night.

Marquee Installations’ Mark Brown was given a brief to develop two distinct environments - a high-quality midground sound upstairs and the latest London club spec in the basement that could hold its own alongside the best. To accomplish this, he was given all the freedom he needed.

RCF Monitor 5 loudspeakers, fed from a C-Burn Revolution 100 hard disk player, take care of the upstairs, while a pair of compact, flown EAW JF290Zs for the top end, and matching EAW SB330s for the sub-bass, handle the dance sound, augmented by eight RCF PA281 Vision Series for bar area infill. The audio is all driven by QSC amplification and the sound is digit

Sheer Bliss
Saturday, 10 March 2001

Bliss is a highly-sophisticated new bar/restaurant in Bournemouth conceived by experienced leisure entrepreneur, Richard Carr’s Future 2000 plc (the team behind the phenomenally successful Slinky dance nights).

Having owned the art deco building in Bournemouth’s town centre for several years, they contracted local interiors company, Design Mode, to convert the bottom two floors of the former Maples department store into the heavily marbellised Bliss, at a cost of £1.25 million. For the sound reinforcement, Future 3000’s head of technical services, Lee Price, stuck with the Martin Audio catalogue, which dominates the company’s other venues, as well as providing the touring sound for Slinky.

One of his prime considerations was the acoustic isolation necessary from the five storeys above the ground floor and basement, which the landlord has converted for student accommodation. This required an elaborate, acoustically-treated ceiling, with suspended, soundproofed flexi air-conditioning ducting, while the columns were given the same acoustical cladding. Most of the music (funk and soft jazz) is computer-driven, while in the evening a DJ takes over. Price has selected 26 of the EM26s divided into six zones. There are no bass bins and the whole sound is fed through a pair of BSS Soundwebs which routes the CD, DJ and band sources to their respective destinations.

A separate sound system carries 1970s kitsch film themes to a pair of Martin C516 recessed ceiling speakers in each of the Gents and Ladies lavatories. All inputs are separately EQ’d an

RCF Adds Style to Oriel
Friday, 9 March 2001

Oriel, a designer bar and restaurant, has recently opened in Mere Green, a fashionable suburb of Birmingham. The venue needed to have a sound system that would complement the décor. So owner Ian Sloane contacted 'Lonnie' of 2007 Sound & Light and asked him to design a sound system for Oriel. The brief from the client was simple, says Lonnie: "We don't want to see it."

Once Lonnie had surveyed the venue, he contacted RCF to enquire about their fittings for the Monitor Series speakers. RCF produce a special false ceiling adapter, designed to fit the Monitor 4's, which presents a flush-mounted speaker system. The RCF Monitor speakers deliver a high-quality sound that enhances one of the Midlands’ most stylish venues. The main sound system users a Sony MDS-E11 mini-disc for music. The system in divided into two zones with the rest rooms using 100v line feed to the RCF Spotlight speakers (RCF AM1030 100v line amplifier). Main system amplification is from Crown MA series amplifiers, with processing and control via an XTA DP224 speaker management system, a Cloud CX-233 two-zone mixer and RL-1 remote volume control.

White Light North’s Academy Days
Friday, 9 March 2001

White Light North will be holding a series of Academy Days in March and April, offering theatre lighting professionals a chance to get ‘up close and personal’ with products and personnel from a wide range of manufacturers. The first pair of open days, on March 21st and 22nd, will feature Avolites, Martin Professional, Robert Juliat and Le Mark. Avolites will be showing the Pearl 2000 and Sapphire consoles, the Art touring dimmers, the macro tablet and the Avo Visualiser system, Martin the MAC2000 and the rest of the popular MAC moving light range, and LeMark the GAM range of colour, gobos and effects, including the new FilmFX linear effect for Source Four spotlights. Robert Juliat’s acclaimed range of lanterns and followspots, for which White Light are now the UK distributors, will also be on show. Companies represented at the April open days, on the 10th and 11th of April, will include Strand Lighting, showing the 300 and 500 Series consoles and the new, award-winning SLD dimmer rack; Rainbow showing their current range of colour scrollers, smoke and haze machines from The Smoke Factory and Look Solutions, and the Supergel, E-Colour and gobo ranges from Rosco. E-mail to reserve a place.

Stage Electrics Upgrade Northcott Theatre
Thursday, 8 March 2001

The Northcott theatre, based in Exeter's university complex, has recently upgraded its sound system. The theatre's sound engineer Jamie Pryke knew that the existing system was past its best and either had the option of short term hire, or start to build a new integrated system. In the end, he opted for a new system and called in Stage Electrics, whose Ian Dixon suggested they listen to the RCF Vision Series. He arranged for RCF to do a demonstration in the theatre and Pryke, with chief electrician Russell Payne, decided they would fit the bill perfectly. Pryke explained: "The RCF people brought the whole of the Vision Range down for us to listen to, once we'd established they could do the job, it was just a matter of planning the way forward. What we have done so far is phase one of the project, which is to have four Vision 121's installed at the stage front. We then plan to add another four around the theatre, plus subs."

Federal Signal Wins Algerian Oil Contract
Thursday, 8 March 2001

Federal Signal has won a £150,000 contract to supply digital Akusta PA equipment for an on-shore oil processing plant in Algeria, operated by Sonatrack Anadarco. The contract, which has been placed by Anadarco’s US engineering contracts Brown and Root, sees Federal providing a range of digital PA equipment for installation at strategic points around the processing plant’s fibre optic-based monitoring network. This latest move follows the recent announcement that the company had won its first contract from Romania’s national oil company Petromar. There the contract was to provide an Akusta-based duplicated PA and general alarm system for an offshore oil facility in the Black Sea.


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