Guests at the Annual Lighting Designer’s Christmas Luncheon, held at the Royal National Theatre in December, were able to meet three more future leading lights in the profession, as White Light once again presented its Lighting Design Bursaries during the event. Now in its third year, the competition was opened up this year to allow entries from anyone studying lighting design in the UK, rather than just from students at Rose Bruford College as in previous years. As before, students had to produce a proposal detailing how they would light a scene from a play, a piece of music, an item of architecture or a live event - all within a theoretical budget! - as well as a live ‘pitch’ for that proposal. Despite the newly-expanded field of entries, the overall winner of the competition was once again a student at Rose Bruford: Kristina Hjelm, with a production entitled The Peep Show. Kristina was presented with a certificate, a cheque for £500, and will also receive full sponsorship to attend Showlight in Edinburgh later in the year. Two further prizes of certificates and cheques for £500 were presented: to Kelly Hendry of LAMDA, for her production of Waiting for Godot set in Westminster Underground Station, and to Peter Jackson, also of LAMDA, for his production of Not About Heroes.
Stage Electrics has provided a large percentage of the lighting and special effects for major pantomimes around the UK. The company supplied the lighting, including Martin Professional’s MAC 2000s and a large number of generics, for 15 of the Quodos (formerly known as E&B) shows, as well as for four of Jim Davidson’s Effective Productions. The pantomimes are all over the country from Plymouth to Edinburgh and include Dick Whittington at the Hammersmith Apollo. Stage Electrics’ lighting has also been used on many other productions throughout the festive season including the classic Christmas production, The Snowman in London and Holland; the Classical Spectacular at the Royal Albert Hall, the Olympia International Show Jumping Championships and numerous West End shows.
Christmas week was Cereco International’s busiest week since the launch in September of its web-based lighting and audio equipment auction. Cereco’s John Lethbridge reports that in the period between 27 December and New Year’s Eve, over £7,000 worth of product was snapped up by several individual first-time buyers. There was a last-minute battle between five bidders for 42 ETC Source 4 Pars that started at £50.00 each and closed at £65.00 each. John Lethbridge puts this success down to the fact that people had plenty of time to be on-line over the holiday period. Also, most of the bidders are now subscribing to Cereco's free weekly e-mail newsletter that keeps them informed of the latest deals and action on the website. The site specialises in new and ex-demo equipment supplied by leading manufacturers and distributors, rather than ex-rental equipment, although some of the equipment sold over the Christmas period had come out of Expo 2000 in Hannover. A new auction starts every Thursday evening and initially runs for 10 days, after which time, unsold items are re-submitted. Viewers can also make off-line offers where there are no bids in place.
The recent Illuminated Video Workshop, fronted by Screenco and designed to show the versatility of LED screen configurations, paid immediate dividends when the senior producer of BBC Television’s Sports Personality of the Year decided to transport the concept to BBC Television Centre.
On December 10, a TV audience of around 10 million - as well as an invited studio audience of 560 sports personalities - assembled in TC1 studio in Wood Lane to see 60 of Screenco’s 15mm modules, with help from Vertigo and Stage One, perform some gymnastics of their own. Assembled in a block, the matrix formed the entire scenic video backdrop for the production - but the show’s senior producer Paul Davies saw possibilities way beyond that.
He decided that the matrix could also be configured as a walk-on entrance for the personalities. "We wanted to integrate an over-the-top screen into the show, but hadn’t realised it could move around so much until we saw the Screenco/Stage One demonstration at Three Mills Island. "Suddenly, we could see how we could use this with star walk-ons - allowing us to support these by great images of yesteryear - because we could move the screens around." Taking feeds from conventional VT and live camera relay, there were six preset positions.
Working with set designer Christopher George and LD Mike Lefevre, Screenco’s main concern was providing a skin to diffuse the LEDs and reduce the luminance. "It’s the kind of problem you expect when you merge the technologies," said Screenco’s Mike Walker
Their publicity talks about ‘a multi-disciplinary approach to create a visceral experience’ to teaching fire safety. But it’s the big red fire truck inside the window that gets people in to the new Fire Zone exhibit at the Rockefeller Center in New York!
It’s a good start to getting across a message which is important, but too easy to make it over-preachy or just plain dull. That was the problem the New York Fire Department had. The new approach came about after Tishman Speyer Properties, who manage the property of the Rockefeller Center, offered the Fire Department space in the building for a token rent. The Fire Department accepted, and turned to BKS/K Architects to create the Fire Zone.
Once the fire-truck has lured people in, it acts as the first stage of the themed show: an alarm, a fire-fighter and a video-projection showing a fire truck’s journey to the fire. The large garage door that acts as the projection screen then swings open allowing visitors into an area that re-creates the smouldering remains of burnt-out New York apartments. Video montages projected around the room from multiple projectors then allow the survivors of fires to tell their stories: with each, lighting and sound transform the room to show what happened to cause that fire.
To bring the exhibition to life, the Fire Department and architects turned to New York-based designers Dawn Chiang for lighting, Tom Morse for sound and Mediaworks to create the storylines and video. Chiang’s lighting had to deal with the room as a whole for the narrative sections, wi
The Institute of Acoustics (IoA) held its 16th conference on Reproduced Sound in November - and much of the varied content was relevant to the theatre and live music industries.
Multi-channel sound reinforcement was a topic that generated a large amount of interest, with presentations from David Malham (University of York), Fred Ample (Technology Visions), Robin Whittaker (Out Board Electronics) and Steve Ellison (Level Control Systems). It was clear that the demand for higher-quality audio environments is growing rapidly.
Robin Whittaker explained the theory of source-oriented reinforcement and illustrated its applications from the wealth of theatre, industrial and music productions that Out Board has undertaken. Whittaker concluded by stating that the concept of source-oriented reinforcement has several key benefits; namely, the minimisation of room effects, even distribution of SPL and tonality and improving the direct-to-reverberant energy ratios to improve intelligibility.
Steve Ellison explained LCS’ drive towards improved multi-channel control of live audio. The Matrix3 system, with its CueConsole and Ethertracks add-ons, represents Ellison’s vision of the future of multi-channel systems; completely integrated playback, routing, processing, mixing and distribution. A further presentation from Ellison and Markl Poletti of Industrial Research in New Zealand, on the LCS Virtual Room Acoustic System, showed how such an integrated system could be expanded still further.
Two further developments were worthy of note: Duran Audio in the Netherlands has ta
AV specialist company Black Box AV has been busy helping Virgin Entertainment Group transform the Our Price stores into the new V.Shop music retail outlets – with 100 stores completed before the third week in November. A major part of the new-look stores is the inclusion of interactive AV technology, and Paradigm AV has supplied Black Box with rear projection screens manufactured by dnp Denmark, which will appear as front-window points of sale in all the re-profiled stores. The complete package for every store includes a BGM system capable of barring music tracks containing bad language, and listening posts where customers can access any CD in the shop via touch-screen technology. Finally, a video-server solution delivers two channels of MPEG video via in-store plasma panels and the front-line dnp rear projection screens.
Glastonbury Festival organiser Michael Eavis has cancelled this year's event because of fears about crowd safety. The festival, which was first staged in 1970, had been under fire from his local authority after thousands of fans sneaked into last year’s Festival. The 2000 event has left Eavis facing prosecution over alleged breaches of the festival licence, and he says he hopes his decision will send out a message that organisers are taking the issue seriously. In a statement he said: "After much deliberation and consultation I have now decided not to run the festival this year." He added, however, that he has every intention running the Festival in 2002. Eavis’s decision follows the deaths of nine crowd members at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark last year. Eavis has commented that the Roskilde tragedy has made organisers and authorities more concerned about crowd numbers.
Commissioned by ARTTS International (Advanced Residential Theatre & Television Skillcentre located at Bubwith, south of York), Lighting Technology has recently completed the installation of lighting and track equipment into a new studio build at the organisation's television training centre. A grid composed of five 10m plain scaffold tubes and six 10m internally-wired bars is fixed at a height of four metres and wired to a patch rack unit. An 18-way Pulsar dimmer rack with control outlets has been installed, along with an 18-way Pulsar twin-preset lighting desk. Lighting equipment supplied included five Strand Studio 1kW lanterns and two pantographs. The perimeter track is a Foyal 300 system," explained Lighting Technology’s Terry Reeves. "A subsequent order followed and this involved the installation of a new Harkness Hall T60 track system in the main theatre. We were then approached to install a further perimeter tracking system and lighting bars in the dance studio adjacent to the main studio." Geoff Bicker, technical director of ARTTS International, commented: "Lighting Technology provided us with a very professional and well-organised service, from the initial consultation on the building site through to completion of the project. I can recommend their team to anyone."
Turbosound reports that Spanish production company Fluge, headed by Luis Berlanga, has increased its hire inventory of Turbosound Flashlight by 24 TFL-780 low-frequency cabinets and 24 Flashlight TFS-780 mid/highs. The company now boasts 72 complete stacks of the Flashlight fully-integrated long-throw sound reinforcement system and 48 stacks of Floodlight, comprised of the TFL-760H mid/high enclosures and the TSW-721 sub-bass unit. The new hire stock will be used for various tours and events around Spain, but made its debut at the 30,000-capacity Benicasim Festival, providing PA for artists such as Richard Ashcroft, Primal Scream and Oasis.
Nexo has won the sound installation contract for Finland’s ‘coolest’ new venue, Hullu Poro, (The Crazy Reindeer). Possibly the most northerly entertainment venue in Europe, Hullu Poro is a large multipurpose centre being built in the busy skiing resort of Levi. When it opens next spring, the two-level, 1800-cpacity venue will host concerts by all the top Finnish artists and many international names. Nexo’s distributor in Finland, Oy Hedcom, is overseeing the installation of a Nexo Alpha E system, featuring six Alpha E-M, four B1-18s and two S2 sub-bass for the main PA, with six Nexo PS8 compact cabinets for fills around the venue.
Adlib Audio has completed a successful UK Theatre Tour with Joan Armatrading, covering venues ranging from 330-capacity up to the 1800-seat Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, which provided the biggest test for Adlib’s Martin Audio Wavefront System and the rigging capabilities of their crew. With Alan ‘Nobby’ Hopkinson mixing FOH on a Soundcraft Series 4 and the Astoria’s Erik Sanderson-Evans on monitors (doubling as production manager), Armatrading played acoustic guitar exclusively across a wide range of styles. Adlib’s Andy Dockerty said: "Nobby put this tour out to tender, but knew that our equipment was quite new, and given the type of show that it was, that the Wavefronts would be smooth enough to handle the wide range of styles." There were 16 W8Cs at Adlib’s disposal, "but we only ever put three subs each side of the stage," says Dockerty. "We had the option to do a single or a two-bar drop, but tended to use six top boxes downstairs, stacked each side of stage, reinforced with three subs."
The UK Events industry has received an important accolade on a world-wide scale, with four companies from the ISES (International Special Event Society) UK Chapter nominated for awards at the ‘Special Event’ to be held this January. Nominees include The Moving Venue (Best Off-Premise Catered Event), The Special Event Company (Best Multi-Day Event), Vok Dams Gruppe (Best Achievement in Technical Support), and The Full Effect has received nominations in an impressive three categories (Best Corporate Picnic, Best Entertainment Concept over $50k, and Best Theatrical Production). The final judging takes place in New Orleans during the Special Event Show, with the Awards and Gala Dinner being held on 13th January. "It’s a tremendous achievement for the Brits to get so many nominations from the 375 entries submitted," said ISES UK Chapter president, Sally Webb. "The UK Special Events Industry is up with the leaders in terms of new, innovative and creative ideas, and this has been reflected with many British award winners over the past few years."
Following two years of concentrated improvements to its company training programme and the development of individual employees, Star Hire (Event Services) Ltd has just received recognition as an Investor In People. The Investors In People award signifies that Star Hire know where they are going as a company, have imparted this focus to all their staff, and have trained them to move forward in line with that vision. Maddy Sheals, responsible for steering the company towards the standard said: "In the feedback session at the end of the two days, the assessor said how much he was impressed with the calibre of people he interviewed - their honesty, commitment, and individual skills, plus an awareness of what Star Hire is trying to do." Maddy hopes to build on this achievement through a programme of continuous innovation and improvement in the training and development of all Star Hire people.
It would appear that the world of opera is trying to take over the world of the musical: London in early autumn saw two directors best known for their operatic work in action in the West End. Robert Carsen created The Beautiful Game at the Cambridge Theatre, while up the road at the Shaftesbury multiple-Olivier award winning director Francesca Zambello was pulling together Napoleon, an epic new musical charting the love of Napoleon Boneparte for Josephine through troubled times in France.
To help her, Zambello turned to regular collaborators, notably set designer Michael Yeargan and lighting designer Rick Fisher, who won the 1998 lighting Olivier for his work on Zambello’s Lady in the Dark at the National Theatre.To stage the show, which covers a huge range of locations and times, Yeargan designed a spectacular floor capable of rising, falling, twisting and tilting to provide land, sea or mountains as required; this scenery proved to be something of a technical challenge, requiring international co-operation between scenery makers TMS, engineers Devineau, Jetter Automation, Vertigo Rigging and production managers Stewart Crosbie and Mark Whitemore - along with one programme credit you don’t see on many shows: automation interpreter, this the experienced figure of Miki Jablkowska. Yeargan also made the bold decision to extend the French flag painted on the show’s frontcloth out onto the proscenium itself, to dramatic effect.
Though the set was capable of many dynamic shape changes, much of the work of defining space and time actually fell to lighting an
If you’re interested in how control systems and computers are used in the live entertainment arena, then John Huntington’s latest book will not disappoint.
Control Systems for Live Entertainment has become something of a bible for those who seek a better understanding of control systems. In this updated and revised version, Huntington has revised his original work in answer to the changes of the past six years. He covers the new technologies that now operate in the field, although perhaps the most important change has come not in the technology itself, but the level to which it is now being used. Huntingdon addresses the challenge of how to adapt these technologies to purposes for which they were never designed. Covering control for lighting, lasers, sound, video, film projection, stage machinery, animatronics, special effects and pyrotechnics for theatre, concerts, theme parks, themed-retail, cruise ships, museums, corporate and other events, the second edition includes sections on all major entertainment control standards, methods and protocols, including DMX512, MIDI, MIDI Show Control, Sony 9-Pin, SMPTE Time Code and many others. It also addresses the basics of control systems and data communications, including EIA serial standards, in addition to offering information on networks for entertainment applications, including the all-important Ethernet.
Huntington also casts his expert eye over system design concepts and case studies featuring realistic problems and practical solutions. Drawing on his extensive experience in the field and classroom, John Hu
Creative Technology crews and communications systems were out in force at the British International Motor Show 2000 - working alongside leading design companies Imagination and Jack Morton Worldwide (formerly Caribiner).
The highlight was the spectacular Ford Motors stand, dedicated to the launch of the new Mondeo, which dominated Hall 4 of Birmingham’s NEC. The centrepiece of their display was CT’s fully-integrated audio-visual installation, designed and programmed by Chris Slingsby, head of Imagination’s Special Projects dept, working alongside CT’s Dave Herd. The presentation combined multiples of 6K PIGI scenic projectors, using double scrollers and rotating double scrollers through 360 degrees, supplemented by eight Christie 7K Roadie projectors. These were mounted onto the circular lighting grid in the centre of the drum, firing out into the 30m diameter auditorium - one projector assigned to each of the four perimeter screens. The 3-chip DLP Roadies provided the video element and live camera replay while the picture origination was from Doremi hard drive systems, controlled via Dataton, which also interfaced with the show automation system. Playback was from a three-camera PPU system, with desktop video PCs, providing the speaker support.
On the dealer and press days the presentation was made in a full show format. Tracking screens moved on monorails as part of a choreographed sequence, while dealers watched from their seats inside the theatre ‘drum’. As each show commenced the screens moved from their fixed positions, and eac
Daniel Carver of university specialist consultants, Section 77, has opted for the new Cerwin-Vega SUB218/T250 Intense stacks for Nottingham Trent University, following a demo of this and other leading brands by John Southee of JPS.
Thus an order for eight stacks was placed with Cerwin-Vega’s exclusive UK distributor, Lamba plc. The SUB218 is a direct-radiating twin 18" sub, featuring high-power output down to 32Hz - a combination of deep bass and high power handling. Thanks to its stainless steel bar handle and and wheels it’s also portable - which is precisely what the University wanted, since the 1,500-capacity auditorium functions as a canteen by day, and the evening conversion includes the eight stacks of T250/SUB218 being wheeled into position - four stacks either side of the stage.
The Intense! T250 mid/high box is divided into two sections which can be operated in bi-amp or passive full-range mode. The mid-bass comprises a 10" horn-loaded driver, the mid/high a large format 2" exit compression driver and the SS1 1" throat HF driver, featuring hybrid diaphragm technology, handling the top end. Personally recommended for the installation work, John Southee supplied sound - with a 16K output capability - lighting, stage and the triangular Trilite grid for the lighting suspension in a contract that was briefed, designed, commissioned and installed within a three-week period - despite the fuel crisis. To optimise the different EQ parameters and system management JPS picked the BSS FDS-366 Omnidrive Compact.
The final word comes from J
Henry Butcher International has been appointed to dispose of the contents, owned by NMEC, that went into creating The Millennium Dome, following the planned closure of the Dome on December 31st. The Dome houses an enormous range of assets, including lighting, audio-visual, broadcast & sound equipment, restaurant and catering equipment, stage equipment, office furniture and equipment, golf buggies, battery-powered scooters and vehicles. Even the equipment from the world famous Millennium Show, which currently employs 350 people, will be for sale, including stage and acrobatic props, costumes and circus rigging. Henry Butcher will be disposing of all assets owned by NMEC over the next three months by Private Treaty and Public Auction. The Private Treaty sale process is already underway and includes many of the themed Zones, audio-visual and broadcast equipment from some of the most sophisticated systems installed in Europe and sound and lighting equipment from one of the largest and most complex installations in the world.
The public auction is open to everyone and will take place over four days - 27-28 February and 1-2 March 2001 - and any enquiries regarding the auction will be dealt with after the Dome closes at the end of December. Viewing of the assets will be a few days prior to the auction sale.
Star Rigging has installed a new fall arrest netting system into Wembley Arena to improve safety for people working at height during events at the London venue.
The new safety system has been installed into the Wembley grid, which is the largest moving grid in the UK. Pictured is the Fall Arrest Net after being raised at The Who load-in at Wembley Arena.
Both Mark Armstrong and Phil Broad at Star Rigging have been rigging major live events, including major tours for 15 years. The net is a new innovation, which has gained popularity in the construction industry, attracting the approval of H&S executives across the country. The system ensures that a worker who falls off the grid will be caught, and there are handrails to prevent people falling outside of the grid area. Star Rigging had to adapt the net to suit indoor music applications including making it fire retardant to BS EN 1263-2 standards. The company is currently talking to several other venues about the possibility of installing similar systems.
Secreted deep in the hostile recesses of Doom Island, the Master of Misery presided over his evil masterplan to destroy planet earth . . . all hopes were pinned on Federal Agent 451 to defeat him.
So went the narrative for Thorpe Park’s end-of-season spectacular, a stunning, action-packed amalgam of lighting, sound, lasers and fireworks.
Lighting designer Dave Gibbon (pictured) designed a massive 216 Par can matrix for the project (36 x 6-lamp bars). This was rigged on the island on a tower above his operating ‘bunker’ which also contained six 48-way Avolites ART dimming systems, Dave himself, his trusty Avolites Pearl console and his right-hand rigger-in-chief Chris Henry (Carrot) and Avolites’ John Snelling.
Avolites wrote custom software for the Pearl to allow Gibbon to programme letters, numbers and text for the matrix on a PC - using a mouse and a grid mimic - and then record them as chases. These were then imported directly into the console and stored, edited and replayed just like normal chases. The software also allowed him to select figures directly from the Pearl’s keypad and apply them to the matrix. This saved literally days of programming time and removed the need for a conventional matrix controller. The majority of the show was programmed beforehand at Avolites using a Visualiser system, allowing Gibbon to start the project well prepared.
As part of his brief, Gibbon also lit the Island of Doom, the centrepiece of the action, with eight Studio Due City Colors, also controlled from the Pearl, and a 70kW Lightning Strikes s
A new music venue has opened on East London’s Brick Lane. Part of the former Trumans Brewery complex, 93 Feet East is a 500-600 capacity venue with an on-site recording studio, allowing performances to be recorded and broadcast over the internet. The music policy is alternative, and early bookings include Cold Cut and the Sneaker Pimps. The club has a Funktion One PA system, installed by Blue Box, from Sussex. The front-of-house control is provided by a new Series TWO console from Soundcraft, supplied by Marquee Audio. Technical manager and sound engineer Paul Epworth explained: “This desk has a very open sound, considering its price. It’s easy to place sounds in a mix and, like the Soundcraft K3 which I’ve used before in live situations, the EQ is very sensitive. It’s a very flexible console.”
The Dutch Parliament Building in Limburg has recently joined the list of government buildings around the world using the BSS 9088 Soundweb to provide digital voice processing and distribution. Forming the hub of a complete new audio-visual and voting network costing 500,000 Guilders, Soundweb encompasses three separate areas - the conference hall, the ballroom and a smaller conference and performance area. TM Audio were subcontracted by Heuvelman Sound and Vision BV, who won the tender for the overall design project, to specify the electro-acoustic elements and audio distribution of the system design. The conference hall includes a central loudspeaker cluster and individual peripheral speakers, distributed around the public tribune for maximum intelligibility. A Philips DCN (Digital Conference Network) discussion system, comprising a 70-piece mic/speaker station, is assigned for the purpose, with its outputs fed to the Soundweb, which supplies all the processing and distribution before arriving at the loudspeaker clusters, as well as the back-up recorders, wireless FM loop assisted hearing system, and many other rooms and offices round the building.
Roxsett boss David Wilson has been sentenced at Canterbury Crown Court to eight years imprisonment for smuggling £4.27 million worth of ecstasy into Britain. Wilson, whose clients included the Spice Girls, was stopped in June this year with 125 kilos of ecstasy tablets as he drove a rental truck through customs at Dover. His young daughter was in the cab with him. In mitigation, Aidan Marron QC said Wilson was forced to smuggle the ecstasy into Britain by a "vicious" gang of "serious and professional criminals". "He was threatened with a sawn-off shotgun. He feared a loss of life if he didn't obey their orders," Mr Marron said. Wilson pleaded guilty to one count of importing Class A drugs but had smuggled the illegal cargo under duress, Mr Marron said.