Business News

EST Still Trucking
Tuesday, 2 October 2001

Summer may be over but the boys from EST are still busy rolling around Europe. Four trucks, laden with props for Welsh crooner Tom Jones’ Eastern Bloc tour, have just left Russia. In addition, EST is providing logistical support to the R Kelly tour of Europe, and to French star Garou as he embarks on the second leg of his mammoth tour of France which he started back in March. EST’s purple and yellow trucks can also be seen with Orbital as they perform a series of one-off shows around Europe.

Meanwhile, in the corporate arena, two trucks, laden with almost a mile of trussing have just left Frankfurt where Summit Steel rigged a special event for PCI Live Events, a launch party that heralded Ford’s new Fiesta before an invited press audience on the evening before the Frankfurt Motor Show opened.Following this event, EST scheduled in over 70 trailer movements for the return of equipment used by Imagination to build Ford’s main stand at the show.

On a slightly sad note to end the month, Gerry 'The Captain' Baxter has retired from driving for EST after a staggering 38 years on the road.

Soundsense Goes Digital
Tuesday, 2 October 2001

Soundsense, one of the leading providers of sound equipment to the broadcast industry has made a substantial investment in digital audio products, as a result of customer feedback. For the broadcast market, the company has invested in Soundcraft's compact digital on-air mixer, the RM1D, which is finding great appeal with radio broadcasters working with RSLs (Restricted Service Licences), where equipment is only required on site for up to 28 days, the maximum term of the broadcast.

"We have a large number of RSL customers," explains Derek Tallent of Soundsense. "We needed to buy more consoles, and, although we were initially looking at high-specification analogue consoles, we soon realised we could buy into the digital future with the RM1D at an attractive entry price. Although most radio, and 99% of our customers, are still analogue, we see the RM1D as a future-proof investment, made particularly viable by the programme of software upgrades."

Soundsense, whose clients include the BBC, Virgin Radio, Chrysalis Radio and Capital Radio, recently sent out its first RM1D RSL package to Stone FM in Staffordshire, the official station for the 2001 Stafford and Stone Festival. However, in its second year as an RSL festival station, Stone FM is campaigning to become a permanent fixture, and has registered as a trial radio station with the Radio Authority.

For the growing number of Soundsense's non-broadcast customers, the company has announced its investment in the latest digital products from Mackie. One of the first low-cost 24-track digital recorders, the

Stanton Unveils Next Generation
Monday, 1 October 2001

Lamba launched a number of new products at PLASA from Stanton Magnetics, for whom they are the exclusive UK distributors. The RM30 is a hybrid three-channel techno/scratch mixer which will appeal to a wide cross section of DJs - each channel features gain control, slider pan and a versatile three-band EQ with complete kill. The DFX-1 is what Stanton claim to be the world’s first trackball-controlled signal processor. It features 90 effect presets which are synchronized to any audio source on-the-fly, using Stanton’s advanced BPM engine. Designed for both live and recording applications the DFX-1 has both RCA &1/4in connections. The DRM-120 provides four full channels to mix with, but there is the added enjoyment of creating effects on the fly, using the Stanton trackball or BPM-driven DSP effects. The S-250 is Stanton’s first table-top single CD player - complete with Pitch Bend, Cue and Loop functions, not to mention a control panel and LED screen on the front of the unit. Completing the list is the SA-12 DJ Craze Signature Mixer which incorporates a user-friendly removable effect module, enabling any DJ to install one of three sound modules available. These modules can then be assigned to either channel (1 or 2), the microphone - and even the main mix.

Free Health & Safety Courses from BBC
Monday, 1 October 2001

This month the BBC is running free courses for anyone in the broadcast industry to mark European Week for Safety and Health at Work 2001. This initiative aims to provide every opportunity for those in the broadcast industry to increase their knowledge and safety awareness. Key areas covered in all of the courses include risk assessment, responsibilities, control, co-ordination and communication.

Bob Forster, BBC Health and Safety Manager, says: "The lack of safety competence is one of the contributory factors in many accidents within the broadcast industry. Through this programme, anybody from stunt artists to special effects supervisors will be able to attend free training at a convenient location."

The BBC initiative has been warmly welcomed by the HSE, which has said: "Everyone has a responsibility for their own health and safety and all those involved in broadcasting have to work together safely whether they are a member of staff, a freelance or a contractor. To achieve this, it is important that everyone in the broadcasting industry has a knowledge of health and safety. HSE wishes this initiative all success and hopes that it leads to improved health and safety in broadcasting."

Five different courses are on offer at BBC regional centres across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. For further details, visit the web address below:

New Theme Park Equips with Martin AudioNew Theme Park Equips with Martin Audio
Monday, 1 October 2001

Terme Olimia is a new theme park situated next to the Sotla River, which forms the border between Slovenia and Croatia. The complex comprises a hotel, apartment block, village, sports park, pool complex, nature camp and the Aqualuna Water Park. All the entertainment and announcements throughout the complex are broadcast through a combination of 36 Martin Audio Contractor C115s, distributed undercover throughout the restaurant and café bar areas, and 16 custom-weatherproofed ICT 300s, which are found in most of the zones in the park. The sound installation was undertaken by KSL Studio, Martin Audio’s Slovenian distributor.

Mach 1 Show with AC LightingMach 1 Show with AC Lighting
Monday, 1 October 2001

Thrust SSC, the fastest car on earth, has been purchased by the Museum of British Road Transport (Coventry) and is to be displayed in a specially designed ‘Mach 1 Show’ open to the public from 9th September 2001. Thrust SSC, powered by two Rolls Royce Spey 205 turbojet engines, became the first car to achieve the Supersonic World Land Speed Record on 15 October 1997 by achieving a speed of 763.035 mph. It now takes its place in the museum alongside Thrust 2, its land speed record predecessor, which has been on display since 1992.

The car was purchased with the help of a major grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and this included a sum of money for use in mounting an imaginative presentation of the vehicle using a variety of audio-visual techniques. The museum awarded a contract for overall design and project management to JSP Design Associates Ltd. of Northampton to create a unique exhibition space and an imaginative presentation of the car. JSP Design sub-contracted AC Lighting to resolve the audio-visual and show control aspects of the presentation and to introduce a tactile element to the display. The AV presentation, which runs for just over four minutes, utilizes two Phillips, cBright SV1 multi-media projectors fed from two Phillips PRO170 DVD players. Projecting onto screens above the car, these show video footage taken during the record-breaking run from a camera mounted inside the cockpit of Thrust SSC and a view from a camera mounted in the tail wing fin. Show control is provided by a Common-Sense interface unit from Artistic Licence, and this is use

It’s a New World for DAS Compact 1
Monday, 1 October 2001

The very latest DAS Audio sound reinforcement system was specified for the European premier of the hit Broadway musical Songs For A New World. The new production, which had a nine-day run at The Old Fire Station Theatre during the recent ‘Oxford Festival of Theatre’, was sound designed by Giles Sutton, who specified the new DAS Compact 1 three-way, self powered cabs.

Sutton, who this year graduated from the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts with a BA Honours in Sound Technology, previously sound designed the show in a highly successful student production at LIPA, where it played to packed houses for a week. He was therefore already familiar with the level of reinforcement he was going to need for the seven voices on stage and four-piece electric band in the pit.

Having worked with the DAS house system in LIPA’s Paul McCartney Auditorium, Giles contacted UK distributor Sennheiser to find out if there was anything in the DAS inventory that would provide a similar level of sound quality, that could be flown in the theatre with a minimum of fuss. As luck would have it, the very first production Compact 1s had just arrived in the country that week. Any scepticism that two of these cabs were sufficient to cover the auditorium was dispelled on power-up, as the diminutively sized, class-D switching bi-amped cabs output up to 133dB SPL.

The Joker79 production of Songs For A New World in association with LIPA, has already won a major award for Best Production at the 'Festival de Théâtre' in Lausanne, Switzerland, and plans are being ma

Show of Strength
Monday, 1 October 2001

It seemed like business as usual: another year, another PLASA Show. Existing products, refinements of products, new products; familiar faces mingling with the next generation of entertainment industry practitioners all anxious to find out what was new.

Then came Tuesday September 11th and the PLASA Show faded into the background. Word from New York spread quickly around the hall. The atmosphere was surreal because the events that those who had received phone calls from the States were describing, couldn’t possibly have taken place, even in the wildest imaginations of those who work in this crazy business of ours that specializes in dreaming up the impossible then making it happen.

But as those who gathered in the Platinum Club lounge to watch the news live quickly found - all this, and more, was true. We watched the second World Trade Centre Tower crumble live in front of our eyes. We watched our American colleagues dial and re-dial on their cellphones, desperately trying to reach families and colleagues back home. We wondered about the people we knew in New York - what a small world it is now, how crazy that in such a small world such madness can still take place.

There has been time since that day to face up to the implications for our own industry. The knock-on effects are hard to pin down, but they are already showing themselves, and in his column this month, Tony Gottelier reflects on what the wider implications might be.

It’s difficult to switch from the events of the September 11th to the events of the Show itself, but that’s what we need t

Avesco Continues Restructure
Monday, 1 October 2001

The Avesco Group has responded to the slowing European economy and the aftermath of the recent atrocities in the USA by accelerating the announcement of a restructuring plan. The initiative sees Dave Crump, managing director of giant screen specialists, Screenco, assume the newly-created role of Group business development director. He will take up the new position at Avesco headquarters in Chessington with immediate effect. Crump will focus on development of relationships and business opportunities across the Group’s entire range of AV service companies including Screenco, Creative Technology, Dimension Audio and the recently launched MCL.

Avesco Group CEO, David Nicholson, commented: "We have been planning this change for some time, but the recent events in the USA - and the consequential effects on our businesses - have led us to bring forward the announcement by several weeks. At times like this it is more important than ever to focus on sales development, when the natural reaction is to retrench."

In parallel with this announcement Screenco will become part of the Avesco AV Service Division under Graham Andrews. The day-to-day running of the business will be in the hands of Graham Filmer, following his recent appointment as director and general manager. He has been with the company since 1987 and has experience of every area of Screenco's activity.

StarStages - As Seen On TV!
Friday, 28 September 2001

When Carlton TV decided on a new format of ‘roadshow’ programme, they called on Star Hire (Event Services) Ltd to provide the stage and production support for the televised events. The CITV 'White Knuckle Tour' presented a number of challenges to Carlton, who required facilities for five stage shows and live broadcasts from five different theme parks during August. Both the stage show and the live element were required to work independently or as an integrated operation.

With the stage show, Carlton applied several criteria, specifying that they were looking for a company that could provide a 'turnkey' operation. Not only would the company be required to provide the stage, but also the lighting, lighting controls and power for the whole site. Star Hire’s Mobile Stages manager Jane Russen liased with Steve Adams at Carlton throughout the project and drew on Star Hire’s experience and network of reputable suppliers to create the package to match Carlton’s very exacting specifications. "Our SS 10-08 mobile stage was ideal for this project," Jane said. "Under the scrutiny of the cameras the presentation and branding of the stage was an important factor to Carlton, which the mobiles lend themselves to. We worked with the TV company to create bespoke branding for the stage that looked great live and on camera.

Dbx for Hand HeldDbx for Hand Held
Friday, 28 September 2001

Wireless performance and IEM specialists Hand Held Audio have purchased 14 of the new dbx in-ear monitoring processors from the Arbiter group PLC. Hand Held’s services include hire sales and consultancy in this precise area of audio. The dbx IEM Processor is new to the market and offers a whole range of effects and processing facilities integrated into a single 1U unit - saving both rack space and programming time. The Hand Held units have gone immediately into action on a large European touring production.

Hand Held’s Nick Bruce-Smith comments: "The dbx offers all the functionality needed, and the brand has a great reputation as a processor manufacturer." Product features include Lexicon reverb settings, four-band stereo limiter/compressor, five-band parametric EQ, four-band crossover, MIDI control, updatable software and many more - all the devices that would normally occupy 3-4 spaces in an external processing rack. The versatile limiting capabilities are also a great advantage of this dbx product, with health and safety issues currently very much to the fore in the world of in-ear monitoring. Our photo shows Hand Held’s Nick Bruce-Smith (left) with Arbiter’s Peter Owen.

MTFX Moves to New Premises
Thursday, 27 September 2001

MTFX has just finished the first phase of bringing together all the disciplines of the company under one roof. The group has invested over £500,000 in new premises just north of Bristol. This includes five acres of testing/research grounds and 4,000sq.ft of storage, manufacture and administration offices. The first phase is now complete, with the administration and offices having moved over to the new location. The second phase will be complete by Christmas and will include the transfer of all manufacturing processes, hire equipment, storage and sales stock. MTFX’s managing director Mark Turner told PLASA Media: "These are exciting times for us. For the first time in our nine year history, we will all be under one roof. This will allow all departments to work in unison and should make collections and deliveries much easier."

The company’s new address is Velt House, Velt House Lane, Elmore, Gloucestershire, GL2 3NY. They can be reached on Telephone +44 (0)1452 729903.

iLight and Sound at Bose Factory StoreiLight and Sound at Bose Factory Store
Thursday, 27 September 2001

Sound and light are working together at the Bose Factory Store in Ashford, Kent, thanks to a state-of-the-art lighting control system from iLight Ltd. With the aim of creating a stimulating in-store experience for customers, the shop is sub-divided into different ‘retail experiences’ to demonstrate the high quality sound and home cinema products. Connected into the audio and AV systems, the iLight system is installed throughout the store as an integral part of the ambience control.

Comprising a mix of seven source controllers, one universal interface and a single two-button stainless steel control panel, the iLight solution is designed to be simple to use. The audio demonstrations and lighting within each retail area are selected via a Crestron touch screen that is connected to the iLight system. The sales executive selects a product on the touch panel and the general lighting in the area is dimmed, the product is illuminated and the demonstration begins. The Bose order was received by iLight’s Norwegian distributor, Nortelco, and supplied and installed by the iLight technical team from their head office in Penshurst, Kent. There are plans to supply another two Bose stores in the UK, plus the opportunity for others stores around Europe.

Federal Signal Delivers at Canary Wharf
Thursday, 27 September 2001

Federal Signal’s contract to supply advanced voice alarm (VA) equipment for London’s prestigious Canary Wharf development has passed two major milestones. The company has delivered a new VeriFire voice alarm system to Citigroup’s European head offices at Canary Wharf. System acceptance has also been received for a 14-rack VeriFire installation in the HSBC building. This is the latest contract for Federal Signal in its long association with Siemens Building Technologies, which manufacture, supply and install life safety systems for Canary Wharf Contractors Ltd.

New Voice for Rental Companies
Thursday, 27 September 2001

A new organization representing professional audio and lighting rental companies has been established in The Netherlands. PRESA - Production Rental Equipment Services Association - like fellow organizations ESTA and PSA, has been set up to promote safe working conditions, high technical standards and regular contact between professional rental companies.

Behind the new association are Ampco Pro Rental, Flashlight, Focus Show Equipment, Improve and R&R Show Equipment, all well established companies in the entertainment industry. Chairman Antoinette Wijffels told PLASA Media: "We have finally managed to create a platform where members can exchange ideas, and one which we hope will lead to an even more professional attitude towards clients. We can now also negotiate on important matters at government level, which, as individual companies, was not possible before."

Barco Billboard for Coca Cola
Thursday, 27 September 2001

Barco LED displays were selected by Coca Cola to revolutionize its famous digital billboard at the heart of Piccadilly Circus in London. Coca-Cola Great Britain wanted to ensure that the sign was capable of continuously displaying dynamic images 24 hours a day and therefore the decision was taken to replace the previous projector installation with a highly advanced LED daylight display. As a result, over 52sq.m of DLite 10 has been used to replace the old installation. Barco’s Dual Pixel Technology offers a visual resolution of 10mm, allowing for a smoother picture, shorter viewing distance and enhanced performance. The system features built-in intelligence that enables auto-configuration and allows hot swapping of tiles without interrupting the display of the pictures.

Screenco at the Summer Festivals
Thursday, 27 September 2001

Commissioned by event production company Aztech Productions, Screenco provided LED screens and crew for V2001 in both Chelmsford and Shropshire recently. At Chelmsford, two 32sq.m 25mm LED screens were used stage left and right, whilst two 32sqm JTS17 Jumbotron screens were used stage left and right at Weston Park. As an additional enhancement, a 21.5sqm Lighthouse 20mm daylight screen was used upstage centre as a backdrop for the Red Hot Chilli Peppers set.

In addition to live footage supplied by Mission TV and XL Video, pre-recorded programming for intervals was supplied by Blink TV. Blink also commissioned Screenco to provide LED screens at both the Reading and Leeds festivals this summer. Two 17.5sqm 15mm LED screens were used stage left and right for both venues, whilst an 8.5sqm 15mm LED was also situated FOH at Reading with pre-recorded footage again produced by Blink.

Screenco also provided Jumbotron screens and crew at both Creamfields and Gig on the Green. Commissioned by event management company Polar Arts, the screens were utilized as additional visual conduit for the Radio 1 stage at Creamfields and for the main stage at Gig on the Green. As well as live feeds, the screens were also used to output BT Cellnet’s SMS service, displaying text messages from audience members.

Ad Lib: First for JBL’s VerTecAd Lib: First for JBL’s VerTec
Wednesday, 26 September 2001

Liverpool-based Ad Lib Audio is the first UK hire company to purchase JBL’s new VerTec line array system. The deal was sealed between Ad Lib and JBL’s UK distributors, Arbiter Pro Audio, at PLASA. The initial order of 16 boxes will go into Ad Lib’s hire stock. The line array is already booked out for a series of events and shows over the upcoming months.

Ad Lib has a reputation for producing some of the country’s most talented live sound engineers working with some of the highest profile international acts. "We are widening our target markets all the time," explains Dockerty. "VerTec looks and sounds excellent and is also popular among American engineers." Ad Lib researched their line array decision carefully. First they heard and saw the VerTec system in action at Arbiter’s demonstration days at the Hammersmith Apollo in May. They then asked to trial it again, close-up, at a Soundcraft Going Live seminar they were involved with the next month. This was quickly followed by the chance to really test the system - at the Miss Monneypenny’s VIP arena at the Ministry of Sound’s Knebworth event at the end of the summer. For contrast, Ad Lib also used a VerTec system at the Royal Court Theatre in Liverpool - one of the many venues for the renowned Matthew Street/Beatles Festival Weekend.

Dobson Sound Embraces New Album Launch
Wednesday, 26 September 2001

The mighty Embrace launched their third album earlier this month with a special acoustic set for 600 fans at HMV's flagship store on Oxford Street in London. The show kicked off at 11pm to finish in time for the midnight launch of the new album, If You've Never Been. In a continuation of the company's long-standing relationship with the band, Dobson Sound provided all of the audio requirements for the exclusive gig.

Dobson's Bill Woods explained that the system was "nice and straightforward" with a d&b C4 stage system and the customary d&b MAX monitors. Dave ‘Milky’ Millward on FOH used a Yamaha PM3500 while Basil Ferneley on monitors went for a Midas Heritage 3000. "Everything ran like clockwork," said Woods. "The only fly in the ointment, if indeed it could be called that, was the lack of sleep for the crew! The band were due to play another live set later on that day for Steve Lamacq's Evening Session show on Radio One, so we more or less went straight from Oxford Street down to the BBC's studios in Maida Vale. Both gigs went really well and the fans had a great time, so the lack of sleep was worth it."

National Firers Register Launched
Wednesday, 26 September 2001

The Guild of Firework and Pyrotechnic Operators (GFPO), has announced that a National Firers Register is available that aims to register all firework and pyrotechnic firers in order to create a central database of personnel operating within the industry and provide a framework for recording skills and proving competency.

The register is Internet-based, with registered persons receiving a personalized ID card that includes name, ID number and expiry date. Details of the registered person are included on the GFPO website which also has a skills and services search facility. Information, a code of practice, links and news articles will be available on the website for those registered. The launch is set for the beginning of October and any interested persons should visit the GFPO website where they will find further details on how to sign up.

Vari-Lite Celebrates 20th Anniversary
Wednesday, 26 September 2001

Twenty years ago, Vari-Lite Inc revolutionized the entertainment lighting industry. On Sept. 25,1981, in a dusty bullring in Spain during the first night of the Genesis Abacab tour, Vari-Lite debuted the world’s first automated lighting system. "We couldn’t have known back then what kind of impact we would have on the lighting industry," said Rusty Brutsché, chairman and chief executive officer of Vari-Lite. "But we’ve continued to change with the times, creating innovative new luminaires and control consoles, moving into new markets and always trying to provide excellent, versatile lighting products to lighting designers in all segments of the lighting industry. As we move into the next 20 years, we will continue developing new products for the lighting and production industry."

Vari-Lite’s humble beginnings trace back to a "eureka moment" in 1980 at a Dallas barbecue restaurant. Employees from Showco, originally the parent company of Vari-Lite, came up with the idea of developing an automated lighting system that used a computer to control the movement, colour, dimming and beam shape of each luminaire. Within a year, Vari-Lite was formed as engineers developed and tested the first automated lighting system. "We wouldn’t have made it this far without the people who put their hard work and genuine love into everything we do," Brutsché said. "That includes the people working for Vari-Lite who have created, developed, manufactured and used some of the most advanced lighting systems in the world, th

Ampekko & Blucat Agreement
Tuesday, 25 September 2001

West London-based Ampekko, the sole UK distributor for German loudspeaker manufacturer WHD, has signed an exclusive arrangement with Uckfield-based installers Blucat at the recent PLASA show, Earls Court, 9-12 September. Blucat, a specialist in supplying and installing independent breweries, leisure and retail units with sophisticated 47-channel satellite music systems, has ordered an initial consignment of WHD MX40s and WHD MX50s, along with specialist amplification from Commax. The company has plans for their imminent use across a variety of integrated systems designs this Autumn.

As Jennifer Linstead, Blucat’s sales director explained: "We are tremendously impressed with the range from WHD. It offers huge potential, particularly as its standard build quality and clarity are well represented in the MX 40 and MX 50. They both offer value through high performance, they’re compact and look good. We’re looking forward to building them into our systems designs."

Not only compact and offering enhanced performance, the WHD MX40 and MX50 offer high standard two-way technology. The former benefits from a 130mm woofer and a 26mm dome tweeter. The MX40 also has an impressive linear frequency response. This coupled with its bass reflex technology, enables excellent low-frequency reproduction. In addition, its wide radiation characteristics allow for a large area with even sound dispersion, minimizing the number of cabinets required and making them ideal in applications where low ceilings and medium noise levels are required. Similarly, the MX 50 is an

Marquee Appointed Crestron Dealer
Tuesday, 25 September 2001

Marquee Audio has been appointed a dealer by Crestron UK, manufacturers of touch-screen automation and e-control networking systems. Already a market leader in the corporate boardroom, video-conferencing and home automation markets, where their processors form the hub of sophisticated networking systems, they see the move into entertainment as a logical progression - and Marquee Audio as the ideal company to partner with.Marquee’s sales director Andy Huffer, told us: "Increasingly, we have been asked to integrate DSP matrix systems such as BSS Soundweb into overall control systems - whether in boardroom, theatre or conference facilities - so Crestron seemed to be the natural choice."

Crestron UK’s technical sales manager, Andy Butler, said: "Each component that forms part of a modern audio system comes complete with its own control facility. Whilst relatively good control, it does not provide flexibility and total control over the whole system. Crestron control systems offer seamless integration between each component and therefore provides a practical and easy to use solution."

ESTA: Draft Rigging Standards for Review
Tuesday, 25 September 2001

ESTA has announced that two draft American National Standards are now available for public review via the ESTA website. BSR E1.6, Entertainment Technology - Powered Rigging Systems is available for public review until 18 December 2001. This draft American National Standard establishes safety requirements for the design, manufacture, installation, and use of motorized rigging systems in theaters, theme parks, studios, and other places of public assembly and performance. This document does not address manually powered systems or lifting equipment used in the construction of these spaces.

The second draft standard - BSR E1.4, Entertainment Technology - Manual Rigging Systems is also available for public review until 18 December. This draft American National Standard describes the design, construction, installation and use of manually-powered rigging systems to enhance the safety of these systems. These systems are used in theatres to raise and lower scenery, props, lighting equipment and similar loads over the stage. The standard does not apply to raising and lowering people, or to motorized systems.


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