Business News

Multiform Stays Afloat
Sunday, 12 November 2000

No sooner had Sussex-based Multiform Technology Group announced success at the PLASA Show and set out the showroom to include the newest lighting effects from Meteor and Sagitter, than it began to rain!

Multiform’s factory, in close proximity to the swollen River Uck - one of the worst flooded in the South East - was also built two feet below the eventual high water mark of Uckfield town, and therefore suffered a great deal of water damage on and after October 12th 2000.

Help came from all quarters. Once the water had receded enough for the factory doors to be opened, the Multiform team with the help of visitor John Lethbridge, rolled up their sleeves and took up hose pipes, brooms and buckets to clear the invading mud and water. Managing director, Iain Price-Smith told us: "Multiform would like to assure customers that business will return to normal as soon as possible. A large amount of stock has been destroyed, and production will be disrupted for several weeks, but thanks to the dedication of the staff, our office is now fully operational again and open to business."

Wise Investment With Nexo
Friday, 10 November 2000

London-based sound and lighting production company, Wise Productions, has just invested in eight Nexo PS-8 loudspeakers, complete with PS-8 controller, supplied by ShowCom of Birmingham, with a view to purchasing a further eight cabinets plus controller in December. The first job for the system is this weekend at the recently-opened Wellcome wing of the Science Museum, for the Sterling Prize 2000 presentation of the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) Building of the Year. Some 800 people will be attending the event, which is to be filmed by Channel 4. Paul Gaskell, technical manager for Wise Productions said: “We invariably end up working in places where the acoustics are difficult . . . and we have the burden of a huge weight of health and safety restrictions to adhere to, so top quality, reliable and easy to set-up equipment is of paramount importance."As well as several events coming up in the capital’s three main museums, the system also has a seven-week run booked in December and January for Cirque du Soleil’s production in a giant temporary structure at Battersea Power Station.

Sennheiser RF Used to Tag Inmates
Friday, 10 November 2000

Sennheiser RF systems have been used on the recent Channel 5 prison breakout gameshow ‘Jailbreak’. SK50 radio beltpacks and clip mics were used to provide audio for the programme, but also as a means of tracking the 10 contestants as they tried to evade state-of-the-art scanners and infra-red beams in escaping from the purpose-built high-security facility. Technical sound supervisor Steve Williams, whose Sound Moves digital production trailer provided digital recording facilities, specified the RF systems from Cine Video Audio Hire. He explained that the environment was a difficult one for RF operation: The prison was constructed out of galvanised corrugated steel, with the compound’s buildings surrounded by a six-metre-high steel fence. We used Cine Video’s own Triax remote antennae system, which enables the RF aerials to cover a vast area, and between that and the usual Sennheiser reliability, the quality of the RF was excellent.

Another Order for Artistic
Friday, 10 November 2000

At LDI in Las Vegas last month, for the second year running, Artistic Licence received a Cease and Desist order from Color Kinetics Inc (CKI), relating to Artistic’s LED lighting systems.

CKI holds a patent in the USA for the control of colour-changing LED lighting systems, and claims that Artistic’s LED-based Digital Lighting Product range infringes their intellectual property rights. CKI’s Kathy Pattison told L&SI: "We very much respect what Artistic has done in the DMX community, but where LED systems are concerned, we will defend our intellectual property rights."

Artistic’s Wayne Howell told L&SI: "They turned up with their solicitor at the busiest time of the show, when the booth was full of customers. It really amounts to little more than a childish attempt at harassment." Howell continued: "We have made a number of approaches to this company to try to find out what it is they are upset about. To date we have not received any coherent repsonse. With regard to their claims, there is simply no substance . . . I find it rather insulting to be accused of copying another company’s design. We’re proud of our reputation for innovation."

Pattison, however, told us that CKI has held "multiple discussions, both internally and through counsel" with Artistic Licence.

Community Welcomes New US Dealers
Thursday, 9 November 2000

Community Professional Loudspeakers, based in Chester, Pennsylvania, has announced the appointment of two new dealers. SK MacDonald, headed by Perry D’Angelo, handles the Middle Atlantic states, with offices in Maryland, New Jersey and Virginia. V-Com, headed by Vinnie Macri will cover the New York metro area and northern New Jersey. Doug Wilkens, Community’s sales and marketing director, said of the appointment: Both firms have a track-record of integrity and targeted sales efforts, backed by a high level of expertise, all of which definitley benefit both our customers and Community.

Toxic8, Cambridge
Thursday, 9 November 2000

A major sound, lighting and video installation has just been completed at the new Toxic8 club in Cambridge. With interior design by Steve Howie of Howie Designs, the club’s visual inspiration drew on the imagery of Fritz Lang’s 1927 masterpiece movie Metropolis. But Toxic8 is anything but silent!

CP Sound won the technical design and installation contract amidst stiff competition: audio throughout was designed by CP’s Colin Pattenden with lighting by CP’s Russ Evans.

A ground-floor bar acts as a feeder area for the 500-capacity club, and features music and visuals controlled from behind the bar via a six-way switch and volume control installed by CP Sound, together with three Sony K5 televisions and six JBL Control 28 speakers. Additionally, a mobile DJ set-up is available for special events. This consists of a Denon 2000 Mk 3 twin CD player and a Citronic 10/4 mixer and mic. The first and second floors have been fused into one area: the audio spec here includes another Citronic 10/4 mixer and Denon CD player, two Technics 1210 decks in the DJ box and a customised CP 10/1050 DJ monitor. Dancefloor speakers are two twin 15" 1200W JBL i-746 cabinets, and for the mid-range, JBL 300W MS112 tops, hung in the corners of the void area.

Dancefloor lighting includes three Solar 250 projectors with red infused oil wheels and eight MADScan 411 APs in the void, pointing up and down. Control is from a Pulsar Masterpiece 216. On the second floor, fixtures include two 1500W Anytronics Megastrobes, four additional MADScans, two ITM 250 MADScans and four

Stolen Truss
Wednesday, 8 November 2000

Between 7.30pm on Monday 6th November and 8.00am on Tuesday 7th November, Essex-based lighting and production company Knight International had one of their 7.5 tonne Iveco Trucks stolen, containing an entire ground support system and two covered PA wings. Amongst other things, the truck contained eight pieces of Penn Fabrications 2.4m pre rig loaded with Par 64, three pieces unloaded, 10 pieces of heavy duty ladder box truss at 3m, four at 2m, ninety degree bends, four rolling cages, four winches, six pieces of triangle truss at 3 and 4m and four three-way triangular bends. The 7.5 tonne truck was an S plate with Knight International written on the front, the doors and with the company logo on the driver’s side.If anyone has any information on this crime, or is offered large amounts of truss for very little money, please contact Knight International on 01245 362133.

Peavey Supports Westminster College
Wednesday, 8 November 2000

Peavey Electronics UK has agreed to renew and extend its support of the University of Westminster’s Commercial music and audio production degree programmes. Peavey has replaced all the backline amplification across the Westminster music department with top line guitar and bass rigs from its Transfex Pro 212, Firebass 700 and TNT115BW ranges, continuing and extending its role as live music sponsor for the BA (Hons) Commercial Music Degree.

The Lyric, Hammersmith
Tuesday, 7 November 2000

The famous Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith has taken a further step towards a digital future, thanks to a Lottery grant.

In addition to new sound equipment in both performance spaces, The Lyric has also purchased a GeniusPro Strand 520i desk - for use in the Main House, and also replaced the dimmers in the Studio Theatre with digital LD90s. The former was supplied by Stage Electrics and the latter ordered through White Light.

Although Strand’s 500 Series desks had been in the Lyric’s focus for around the past three years, the purchase was still made slightly earlier than expected. "We mounted a production outside, literally, in Lyric Square, with Mac moving lights running alongside conventionals," explained chief LX Clare Tattersall (inset). "It was impractical to move our existing Galaxy outside - and plotting moving lights on a Galaxy is a tedious process - so rather than hire in a board we brought forward the delivery date."

The 520i was supplied with two monitors - one displaying the cue sheets and the other the channel levels. "It’s a 350-channel desk but we expect to expand on that in the future. As we have not been able to afford to replace the Main House dimmers we have had to convert our STM dimmers for digital, but hopefully at some stage in the future we will be able to make the full changeover."

The 120-capacity Studio Theatre has complemented its new seating and sound reinforcement system with five racks of Strand LD90s (one of which contains a block of non-dims), providing 104 channels of theatrical dimming

Celestion Appoints New Spanish Distributor
Tuesday, 7 November 2000

Ipswich-based loudspeaker manufacturer Celestion has announced the agreement of a new distribution channel in Spain, with the appointment of Lexon as its distributor for the country. Based in Barcelona, Lexon has an impressive portfolio of pro audio products, including Soundcraft, Crest, BSS Audio, Turbosound and Amek. Celestion commented that the appointment had been based on Celestion’s increasing focus on high-performance products for the Spanish install market, and the appointment of Lexon allowed them to address both their traditional MI market and provide exposure to permanent install opportunities.

Turbosound United Play at Chelsea FC
Monday, 6 November 2000

As a prelude to the recent PLASA 2000 show, Turbosound held its annual convention at Chelsea Village - home of Chelsea FC.

The day-long event was attended by a number of Turbosound’s international and UK distributors, as well as main installers. Following initial addresses by chairman Mike O’Flynn and managing director Alan Wick, sales appraisal and strategy reports were given by Gary Smith and Bill Woods respectively.

Distributors were honoured with awards for outstanding sales activity within given categories, and the day’s formal activities concluded with a briefing about new Turbosound products in the marketplace.

(Reports that Chelsea only allowed in one UK distributor are untrue.)

London Associates and Strand Win Award
Monday, 6 November 2000

London Associates and Strand Lighting have won the prestigious industrial product design award at the recent DBA Design Effectiveness Awards, with Strand Lighting's SL Series of spotlights. Strand’s product development manager, Ian Thomson, and senior design engineer, Martin Freeborn, both attended the awards presentation dinner, held at the Hilton Hotel in Mayfair. Thomson explained that Strand's had been working with London Associates for 14 years and the objective had been to create a new product for the world market, that was smaller, lighter in weight and consumed less electricity than conventional models. The SL Series met all of these requirements with significant results. Within three months of its launch, the SL Series has easily become the best-selling product in Strand Lighting's portfolio. It has also enabled the company to increase its European rental market share from 3% to 15% within one year.

Correction: Stageline
Sunday, 5 November 2000

In May 2000, we reported that Stageline had launched legal proceedings aginst Five Corners seeking a number of injunctions to prevent Five Corners from trading.

We also reported that as a result of Stageline’s claim being rejected by the Quebec courts, Stageline was ordered to pay $22,500 to Five Corners.

However our further investigation into these matters has demonstrated that legal action was not taken against Five Corners but against its owner Carl Richard, who counter-claimed in the same proceedings. We apologise to Stageline for any innaccuracies in our news item. As we now understand it, relief was granted to each party in relation to their claims and counter-claims.

All Aboard
Saturday, 4 November 2000

PLASA Members Baldwin Boxall took advantage of the one storm-free day in October to invite a host of clients, colleagues and friends to join them on Sussex’s equivalent to the Orient Express.

The Bluebell Line was the UK’s first preserved standard gauge passenger railway, re-opening part of the Lewes to East Grinstead line of the old London Brighton & South Coast Railway in 1960. Since then it has developed into one of the largest tourist attractions in Sussex, yet it still remains true to its objectives of the preservation of a country branch line and its steam locomotives.

Over 50 people joined Baldwin Boxall on the day thanks in no small part to its growing reputation as a generous host. Terry Baldwin and David Boxall welcomed guests to the picturesque Sheffield Park station before inviting them to take lunch on board one of the Railway’s steam locomotives as it journeyed part-way up the beautiful Bluebell Line. Lobster Bisque, Roasted Quail, Beef Wellington and Chocolate and Almond Torte were washed down with some particularly fine wines - with stops en route to try out the special beers at Horsted Keynes station and allow some members of the party to ride on the footplate of the train before reboarding for yet further refreshments (was it our imagination or did the countryside become more blurred the longer we stayed on the train?).

Those in attendance came from across the industry and included guests from ADT, Next Two, BBC Fire, DNH Loudspeakers, Romers Electronics (from Blackburn), Sound Productions, Dublin (in fact, Gerry McGlinn flew in fr

Screenco Invest Heavily in Training
Friday, 3 November 2000

Recognising the importance of operational competence and compliance with Health & Safety Executive guidelines in event production, i-mag specialists Screenco recently held intensive back-to-back four-day training programmes in Holland and the UK for its staff and freelance crews. Overseeing the workshops at Screenco's mainland European base, just outside Rotterdam, were general manager Jeroen Jongenelen, Graham Filmer and Avesco plc's in-house Health & Safety Officer, Phil Roberts (with managing director Dave Crump replacing Jongenelen in the UK organising team). In Holland 20 freelancers and ten staff took the opportunity to increase their knowledge while in the UK some 30 freelancers and 15 staff attended.

A Century of Theatre
Friday, 3 November 2000

Richard Eyre is to present a six-part weekly television series looking at the history of 20th century theatre. The programme Changing Stages: 100 Years Of Theatre will explore the influences and creative people that have shaped the course of the theatre throughout the last century. The programme will show archive footage of some of the key productions from the last century and talk with the writers, directors and actors which made them possible. The first programme runs on BBC 2 at 7.30pm, Sunday 5 November 2000.

Is Time Running out for 28% of the Sound Systems Industry?
Friday, 3 November 2000

Over a quarter of all UK sound systems companies will not see out 2001 in their present shape, according to Plimsoll Publishing. Identified in their new First Edition 2001, Plimsoll Portfolio Analysis they are predicting in 2001 these companies will disappear, be taken over or be forced to change to stay in the market.

The analysis, which included 1019 companies in total, predicts that the Winners and the Chancers, who are capturing market and profits with a combined sales growth average of over 15.2% are pushing the Losers out of the market. As they try to maintain sales and profit targets, acquisition activity could intensify in 2001.

The First Edition 2001 describes four types of company strategy. The Winners have low borrowings (debt) as a % of sales and have high sales growth. The Chancers have high borrowings and high sales growth. The Sleepers have low borrowings and low sales growth, whilst The Losers have high borrowings and are growing below average.

For these 131 Losers, time is running out. Their level of debt is high at 38% of sales on average. These companies have lost market share and sales growth average for the latest period is showing an average decline of 11.5%. Their margins are showing a loss of 2.0% on average and almost 60% of them are loss-making. They have borrowed to stay in the market, but how long can this strategy be maintained?

The publication contains an up-to-date analysis of 1019 UK sound systems companies covering their last four years of trading. To order a copy call Jennifer Ovington on +44 1642 257800, or for a full version of th

Martin Pro Enters Joint Ventures
Wednesday, 1 November 2000

Martin Professional A/S has entered into an agreement with the owners of its two Argentinian distributors to establish a joint company, Martin Professional Argentina SA. As of November 1st, the newly established company will handle distribution and service of the group’s products in Argentina. Martin will hold roughly 20% of the shares. The establishment of the new joint company is a natural part of Martin’s market strategy, aimed at securing a foothold in the South American market, which is growing rapidly within the group’s areas of interest. The company will maintain its registered office in Buenos Aires.In Hong Kong, Martin has entered into an agreement to establish a similar company with its local Chinese partners. Martin Professional Hong Kong is expected to be operational before the end of 2000, and will take over distribution from its former Chinese distributor, which wasn’t viewed as allocating sufficient resources to maintain a satisfactory level of performance. Martin will hold 20% of the shares in the company, which will have its registered office in Hong Kong with branch offices in Shanghai and Guangzhou in China.The establishment of these two companies is not expected to have an effect on expectations for the current financial year, although it is expected that they will contribute to increased penetration in these markets during 2001.

Dry Ice Not to Blame
Wednesday, 1 November 2000

An inquest into the circumstances surrounding the death of student Joanna Smith, 19, who died following an asthma attack, thought to have been triggered by a dry ice machine at a nightclub, has concluded that there was no link between the two. The incident happened at First Leisure’s Volts (now renamed The Works) nightclub in Kingston Upon Thames on September 7 last year. Christopher Russell, the barrister representing club owners First Leisure, told the inquest: "This type of machine has never been associated with harmful effects." Coroner Alison Thompson concluded that Joanna had died from natural causes.

Vari-Lite Sells Showco to Clair Bros
Wednesday, 1 November 2000

Two of the USA's largest sound reinforcement companies are to join forces, following the news that Vari-Lite International has entered into a letter of intent to sell Showco - its sound reinforcement business - to an affiliate of Clair Brothers Audio, Inc. 'The combination of Showco and Clair Brothers will create the most impressive sound reinforcement company in the world,' said Rusty Brutsché, chairman and CEO of Vari-Lite. 'The decision to sell Showco to Clair Brothers was based upon the long-term benefits to Showco's customers and employees as Vari-Lite concentrates its efforts on the development, manufacture and sale of its automated lighting systems and continued operation of our lighting rental and production services offices in North America, Asia and London.'Showco, celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, was formed in Dallas, Texas by Rusty Brutsché and Jack Maxson and from the early days of providing touring rigs for such bands as Led Zeppelin, Three Dog Night and James Taylor has evolved into one of the world’s premiere audio production companies with a product portfolio that includes the Prism sound system, digital controller, stage reference monitors, Prism L3 compact loudspeaker system and the Showconsole which was launched last year.Based in Lititz, PA, Clair Brothers has expanded enormously over the last 10 years and has manufacturing and affiliate offices in the US, Switzerland, Australia, England, Mexico, Singapore and Japan. Formed in the late 1960s by Roy and Gene Clair, the company has a client list that includes Garth Brooks, Mariah Carey,

PCM’s Donation to PSA Welfare Fund Tops £10,000
Wednesday, 1 November 2000

The latest cheque from PCM, European importers and distributors of the CM Lodestar hoist, to the PSA (Production Services Association) for their Welfare and Benevolent Fund, puts PCM’s contribution to this excellent cause to over £10,000. The fourth cheque, for £3,700, was presented by PCM’s John Jones to Simon Whittaker, Chair of the PSA, at PLASA 2000. The next PCM cheque will be presented during The Live Show 2001 in February.

Con Men Try Again
Tuesday, 31 October 2000

Those Nigerian businessmen are at it again - another round of letters has gone out inviting UK companies to provide them with bank account facilities into which they can deposit large sums of money earned illegally. The latest letter comes from Dr. Sule Ahmed, a civil servant, who advises that he has been a key player in the deliberate over-invoicing of a government contract to the tune of $21.5million US dollars. Overlooking his own shortcomings on the integrity front, he also refers to a previous transaction with one Patrice Miller in New York, who did the dirty on Ahmed and his mates and made off with the money. As so often in the past, PLASA members are being targeted heavily and we have already fielded a large number of e-mails and phonecalls on the subject.

Broadway's The Lion King Roars into BLMC2000
Tuesday, 31 October 2000

The Broadway Lighting Master Class has lined up an eclectic programme for this year's event which takes place in New York from December 6-10, 2000. Tony Award-winning lighting designer Don Holder will present an in-depth look at his acclaimed lighting for Disney's The Lion King. BLMC has obtained a block of hard-to-get tickets for this sold-out Broadway musical as one of two major performance elements in this year's programme. BLMC attendees will also get to see Radio City Music Hall's Christmas Spectacular at the magnificently renovated home of the world-famous Rockettes. The visit will also feature a one-hour guided tour of Radio City and a technical discussion of the lighting after the performance with LDs Ken Billington and Jason Kantrowitz. The BLMC programme will feature some of the leading names form theatre. Joining creative consultant Jules Fisher (the upcoming Jane Eyre) will be Peggy Eisenhauer (Cabaret), Beverly Emmons (Jekyll & Hyde), Wendall K. Harrington (The Who's Tommy), David Hays (founding artistic director, National Theatre for the Deaf), Don Holder (The Lion King), Vivien Leone (associate designer, Sunset Boulevard), Chris Parry (Not About Nightingales), Clifton Taylor (LD for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and others), and Richard Pilbrow (Showboat). Additionally, BLMC will feature two special panel discussions: the Lifetime Achievement Panel led by moderator Steve Terry, president of Systems Group/Fourth Phase (see below); and an exclusive discussion with members of The Lion King's creative team, moderated by Jules Fisher. The event will also feat

Vari-Lite Completes European Deal
Tuesday, 31 October 2000

Vari-Lite has now completed the sale of its operations in Belgium, The Netherlands, France and Sweden to First Events BV, an investment company that owns Focus Showequipment BV in Amsterdam. According to Vari-Lite chairman Rusty Brutsché, the sale will allow the parent company to concentrate its attention on the development and sale of its Vari*Lite automated light which until recently was only available for rental. First Events will build on the reputation of production companies Focus Showequipment (Amsterdam) and EML (Brussels/Utrecht) which were acquired in the transaction. Together with operations built by Vari-Lite in France and Sweden, First Events intends to develop a branded international network of professional full service companies in northern and western Europe.


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