Business News

Mackie Designs Purchases Sydec
Wednesday, 24 January 2001

In a move to expand its global digital audio recording presence, Mackie Designs has signed an agreement to purchase Sydec n.v. of Belgium, a leading innovator of digital audio technology products. Sydec created the first PC-compatible multi-track digital audio workstation: released in 1993, it is considered by many professionals to be the most stable workstation in the audio industry. Sydec products have won numerous international awards including the EQ Blue Ribbon awarded by the AES (Audio Engineering Society). With the purchase of Sydec, Mackie Designs Inc., will own the digital audio workstation technology and other intellectual property created by Sydec, and currently being marketed by Soundscape Digital Technologies Ltd. Mackie Designs has been actively developing technologies in the digital audio environment, winning the 1999 AES TEC Award for Best Medium-Sized Console (Digital 8*Bus). Additionally, Mackie recently released the HDR24/96, a 24-bit hard disk recorder/editor.

"We are excited to be able to take advantage of Mackie's global marketing and manufacturing machine," commented Erik Wijnen, managing director of Sydec. "Our cutting-edge technologies will find a home in many more audio products, worldwide. We'll be able to further develop audio technologies in tandem with Mackie Digital Systems."

Jamie Engen, president and CEO of Mackie Designs Inc, comments. "On so many levels, this is a smart alliance. We're expanding our global presence, intensifying and solidifying our digital research and development, and opening up the floodgate

Vari-Lite Appoints New European Dealers
Tuesday, 23 January 2001

Vari-Lite has announced the first phase of the expansion of its European sales dealer network, supporting the distribution of the new Series 2000 luminaries, with the appointment of Norsk Sceneteknikk a.s. in Norway and HispaLite in Spain. Vari-Lite has already enjoyed a long relationship with both companies, who have considerable experience of the company’s products and the technical resources to support sales customers.

Jan Robert Midtbø, general manager of Norsk Sceneteknikk, commented: "Over the last two years we have dry-hired equipment from the Stockholm office, and thanks to their back-up and our own expertise we found ourselves dealing with most major customers in the Norwegian concert and TV market." Vari-Lite plans to expand the sales dealer network over the coming months.

ETC's Spotlight on WeavingETC's Spotlight on Weaving
Tuesday, 23 January 2001

When textile artist Rebecca Bluestone was commissioned to design a triptych of silk tapestries for the new Federal Courthouse in Albuquerque, New Mexico, she knew that for maximum impact they would require special lighting, so she contacted Dick Hogle of Santa Fe's Hogle Theatrical Supplies for his lighting design expertise. Bluestone wanted the weavings to appear to 'glow' so Hogle chose to employ ETC's Source Four ellipsoidal spotlights. Hogle met several times with the building's architect, who was initially resistant to lighting additions, rightfully concerned that any alterations to his design would detract from the grandeur of the Courthouse's architecture. "But when I demonstrated how the Source Four could be positioned in such a way as to properly illuminate the artwork without invading the rest of the space, he was convinced," added Hogle.

New Distributors for Color Kinetics
Tuesday, 23 January 2001

US-based digital lighting manufacturer Color Kinetics signed 12 new international distributors during the last half of 2000, bringing the total number of international Color Kinetics distributors to 29. As authorized ‘Master Distributors’, these companies will offer Color Kinetics’ complete line of full-spectrum professional digital lighting fixtures. These new distributors join the company’s expanding list of US and international distribution partners, signaling an era of continued growth and success for the company both in the US and abroad. The 12 new distributors represent all regions of the international professional lighting community, including Europe, Asia/Pacific, theMiddle East and South America.

The 12 international companies signing on as Authorized Color Kinetics Master Distributors are: Alto (Korea), Asas Lights (Malaysia), DMS (Turkey), Exton (Iceland), Feixa (Spain), Helsinki Lighting Company (Finland), Impact (France), Light & Motion (Austria), NAXA (Brazil), Soundabout (Cyprus), Sound Support (Belgium), and Stockholm Lighting (Sweden).

Glasgow’s Arches Reopens
Monday, 22 January 2001

The Arches in Glasgow has reopened recently following a refurbishment of this hybrid club/theatre venue. A new entrance and box office have appeared on Argyle Street (the club entrance will still be on Midland Street), alongside a spectacular new split level cafe-bar, a long overdue new heating and ventilation system, and, for the first time in the building’s history . . . daylight! In addition to the main venue, a complex of workshops and training spaces have also been added.

Mackie Joins Forces With Emagic
Monday, 22 January 2001

At the recent NAMM Show in Los Angeles, Mackie Designs announced that it has joined forces with Emagic, one of the world's premier audio software and hardware innovators, in order to develop a range of state-of-the-art hardware controllers. The two companies have agreed on an inaugural project - the creation of ‘Logic Control’ - a control surface for Emagic's Logic Audio software. In order to offer cost-effective software and hardware upgrades, Logic Control will be designed, configured and developed as a modular system. The first product in the new "Logic Control" series of hardware will be a competitively-priced entry-level version featuring eight motorized touch-sensitive faders, one touch-sensitive master fader, eight mutes, eight solos, eight rotary encoders, tape style transport, 2 XDR mic pre-amps, a data wheel, and an alps control pad.

Jamie Engen, CEO of Mackie, commented: "Our goal is to build a very powerful, yet affordable, hardware controller for one of the most widely-used audio production applications available today. By combining forces, Emagic and Mackie will be able to ensure that Logic Control will have absolute compatibility."

Bose Recreates Natural Sound
Monday, 22 January 2001

The £97m At-Bristol project has incorporated a Bose sound system into one of its main attractions to recreate the amazing sounds that the natural world has to offer. The Bristol-based attraction is unique in that it brings together science, nature and the arts to present a fantastic 21st century experience. There are three main areas - Wildscreen at-Bristol, Explore at-Bristol and the Imax Theatre at-Bristol. A multi-channelled Bose sound system in the Wildscreen area delivers exceptional natural sound clarity through nine high mounted Bose Panaray 502BE environmental bass loudspeakers and 70 Bose 151 environmental loudspeakers, tucked discreetly away amongst the ferns. In the main display areas, interactive touch screen displays are all individually supported by their own unique sounds from Bose speakers.

Embassy Gives Malta First Multiplex
Sunday, 21 January 2001

Malta’s first multiplex cinema has opened in Valetta. The Embassy was originally built as a single-screen cinema in 1952, but the new complex now forms part of a complete shopping centre and fast food court - set in a prime location in the island’s capital.

Designed by Fitch & Co, owner Mark Zammit confirmed that the combined film, food and fashion development will have cost Embassy Ltd around £9 million. The cinema features Martin Audio purpose-designed sound reinforcement throughout the six theatres. These were recommended to Mark Zammit by cinema consultant Mike Beeny.

Mike Beeny explained: "Embassy were very keen to have state-of-the-art sound and stadium seating, so during a visit to the UK, I took them to the 20-screen UCI Cinema in Trafford. The biamped Martin system represented almost exactly what they had decided to opt for." The result is a combination of biamped Screen 4s, with a dedicated crossover, and SUB 1s - in either one or two-box configurations depending on the room size.

Power to Light
Saturday, 20 January 2001

Battersea Power Station became the focus of attention for Londoners as the capital geared up for its festive season. By sheer scale alone, this famous brick behemoth cannot be ignored, but this year it was even more eye-catching, cloaked as it was by a striking, yet sympathetic lighting presentation by Midnight Design.

Dave Bryant of Midnight Design thought manna had fallen from heaven to be offered such a broad canvas as the Power Station: "I knew immediately I wanted to create a design that reflects the power and majesty of the architecture," he said. "The sheer scale of the building exterior has made this a very challenging project."

In keeping with Bryant’s constant search for innovation, Midnight Design is the first company in the UK to purchase the latest Studio Due City Beams from Coe-Tech, included as part of the design. "The City Beams are ideal for the upper reaches of chimney plinths," explained Bryant’s project manager, Martin Toms. "Dave has kept the chimneys proper a bright white using the tight-beamed Philips Arena Vision, the lower plinth is lit with City Colors, and the more collimated output of the City Beams covers the upper plinths perfectly."

Bryant’s design lights each chimney and plinth at four opposing points from five metre high towers on a 30m perimeter of the building, with a further tower within the now roofless turbine chamber. "Each tower doubles as a weather-proof shelter for all the power distribution," continued Toms. "We have over 22km of mains cable running arou

Dome Goes Under the Hammer
Saturday, 20 January 2001

The Ministry of Sound’s New Year’s Eve bash at the Dome, not only ushered in the New Year, but also ushered out the old Dome.

The ‘Closed’ sign has at last been hung and all that remains before the new owners move in is to clear the place. Ironically, the auction of its contents will in all probability attract more interest than the attraction itself. Auctioneer Henry Butcher International has been appointed to dispose of the Dome’s contents. Under the hammer goes all the lighting, audio visual, broadcast and sound equipment, restaurant and catering equipment, stage equipment and office furniture. Even the equipment from the world famous Millennium Show will be for sale including stage and acrobatic props, costumes and rigging.

The assets are to be disposed off over the next three months by both Private Treaty and Public Auction. The Private Treaty sale process is already underway, and includes many of the themed zones, in their entirety or in substantial parts. The majority of assets will be sold by Public Auction, which will take place over four days - 27th/28th February and 1st/2nd March.

Blackout Triple E Move
Friday, 19 January 2001

Following the successful merger last year between Blackout and Triple E, the new company has now moved into new premises in Colliers Wood, south west London. With nearly 75% more space than previously occupied by the two companies jointly, the new offices, manufacturing and warehouse facilities offer customers a genuine one-stop shop for their drape, track and rigging requirements. The company’s recent credits including the MTV Awards in Stockholm and Madonna’s gig at Brixton Academy, Bloomburg’s Christmas Party and all motorised tracks for Princess Cruises. Blackout Triple E can now be contacted at 280 Western Road, London, SW19 2QA, telephone 020 8687 8400.

Midas Works for a Nobel Cause
Friday, 19 January 2001

The Nobel Peace Prize concert took place on 11th December at the Oslo Spektrum in Norway. The concert, which was broadcast to a worldwide audience of over 320 million viewers. This year the honour was bestowed upon South Korean president Kim Dae Jung. The concert attempts to feature the very best artists from all areas of the musical spectrum, and this year presented artists such as Moby, Bon Jovi, Westlife and Natalie Cole. Continuing the successes of previous years, prominent Norwegian rental company AVAB-CAC, who also distribute Midas in Norway, was again chosen to provide the sound system for the event. Stuart Mørch-Kerrison of AVAB-CAC who was both sound designer and FOH engineer, specified Midas mixing consoles for both FOH and monitor positions. "The FOH set-up featured a Heritage 3000 console and a Heritage 2000 console MIDI-linked together in order to allow both mixers to change cue settings simultaneously," he explained. "Both desks were run in "virtual fader" mode, meaning that all fader levels, VCA settings, subgroup routing and relevant muting could be stored after each bands soundcheck, and instantly recalled during the show. The main monitor console was a Midas XL-250 which has become a real favourite with the monitor engineers at AVAB-CAC."

2001 Olivier Award Nominations
Friday, 19 January 2001

Lighting designers Howard Harrison, Mark Henderson, Paul Pyant and Hugh Vanstone and scenic designers Bunny Christie, William Dudley, Rob Howell and Brian Thomson are amongst those nominated for the 2001 Olivier Awards, the nominations for which were announced by the Society of London Theatres.

Harrison was nominated for his designs for The Witches of Eastwick and To The Green Fields Beyond, Henderson for All My Sons at the National Theatre, Pyant for Hamlet, also at the National, and Vanstone for The Cherry Orchard at the National and The Graduate in the West End. Of the set designers, Christie was nominated for Baby Doll at the National and then in the West End, Dudley for All My Sons, Howell for The Caretaker and Thomson for The King and I, covered in L&SI’s June 2000 issue.

The National’s revival of All My Sons took the most nominations of any production, with its six contributing to the National’s total of 22 nominations. The Witches of Eastwick, covered in L&SI’s August 2000 issue, also received nominations for Best Musical, Best Costume Designer (Bob Crowley), Best Actress in a Musical (Joanna Riding) and Best Supporting Actress in a Musical (Rosemary Ashe). Witches will compete with The Beautiful Game (L&SI December 2000), Fosse (L&SI April 2000) and Merrily We Roll Along at the Donmar Warehouse in the Best Musical category.The awards will be presented on February 23rd in a ceremony at the Lyceum Theatre; the presentation will be recorded for later transmission on BBC2.

Scientists Claim to Have ‘Frozen’ Light
Friday, 19 January 2001

The Boston Globe newspaper has reported that US scientists say they have stopped light, held it in one place and then let it go again. The Harvard University team is due to publish its findings later this month. It is thought that light, which normally travels at 186,000 miles (300,000km) per second could, if ‘tamed’, be used to relay information around high-speed computers. Scientists Ronald Walsworth and Mikhail Lukin are expected to publish the details of their experiments in the January 29 edition of the journal Nature.

Strand Sets Up London Base
Thursday, 18 January 2001

Strand Lighting has established a new base in London. The company’s new split-level mews studio in the Fulham/Chelsea area will not only become a Strand Academy Training Centre, but will also provide a southern base for Strand’s project managers and sales representatives. Ivan Myles, Strand’s general manager of UK trading, said: "The reason for setting up this office is to enable us to reinitiate our training programme, to be closer to our customer base and to give better customer support. As well as being more convenient for the international project manager, it is strategically-placed to allow us to meet our domestic architect, consultant and production-based customers."

Among the senior personnel based at SW6 will be Ivan Myles, Vic Gibbs, Bill Richards and Lucien McQueen, while Strand has now appointed James Vaughan as sales administrator.

Impressario Motion Control from AVWImpressario Motion Control from AVW
Thursday, 18 January 2001

AVW Controls, a manufacturer of integrated motion control systems for the entertainment industry, has developed Impressario - a computerised system for moving theatre scenery, Impressario, which can record up to 500 cues, features a contol console and purpose-designed motion processor modules. The console communicates on a high-speed data network with up to 255 motion processors. Each processor is interfaced to a servo-amplifier or motor controller that respons to commands from the Impressario console.Ans because things don’t always happen on cue, a Penny & Giles JC030 single-axis rocker switch is incorporated into the control console to provide a manual speed override for pre-programmed scene changes.

Fireworks Industry Gets New Trade Association
Wednesday, 17 January 2001

The fireworks industry has combined resources to form a new trade association - The Guild of Firework Pyrotechnic Operators (GFPO) - in an attempt to improve professionalism through training and improve working practices to reduce accidents. The GFPO was launched yesterday at Event Expo at London Docklands Arena. Its membership will initially be drawn from event industry professional and semi-professional firers, though it is hoped subsequently to widen the membership to amateurs. As part of its remit, the GFPO plans to standardise working practices for people firing fireworks, and have a nationally recognised set of graded standards.

ESS Sets the Stage for Dubya
Wednesday, 17 January 2001

Edwin Shirley Staging has won the contract to supply all the staging for President-elect George W Bush's Inauguration ceremony this weekend (20 January) on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. ESS is supplying 150 tonnes of staging, including the staging equipment originally erected in Austin, Texas for Bush's acceptance speech. This will form the staging for the swearing-in ceremony, including the main stage on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, media platforms, network television camera platform, video supports and sound delay towers. The project, which employs a core team of eight supervisors and up to 40 local crew at any one time, requires the utmost care as it is being constructed on such a historically sensitive site.

ESTA Website Difficulties
Tuesday, 16 January 2001

The ESTA website has been having some difficulties since Monday, January 8th. Wybron, which hosts the ESTA website and all its e-mail aliases, was forced off-line when its service provider went bankrupt and terminated all service without notice. Wybron has been able to create a temporary dial-up connection for the ESTA server, which should allow email through, although access to the website will be very slow. ESTA wishes to apologise for any inconvenience caused. Until the problem is resolved, all ESTA web services will have limited accessibility. Therefore, please use the following alternate email addresses to contact the ESTA staff, in order to ease strain on the temporary connection:

Le Maitre Fires Dome’s Record Pyro Show
Monday, 15 January 2001

On New Year’s Eve, the largest indoor special effects show ever staged in the UK was fired at the Millennium Dome, Greenwich. It took seven technicians seven full nights to wire and rig the pyrotechnics, manufactured by Le Maitre at their Peterborough factory, across the 400m span of the Dome. A total of eight firing stations were used to ignite the effects, some of which have never been seen before by the British public. The effects included airburst effects under the walkways which encircle the roof, while glitter, confetti and streamers dropped from the ceiling for the finale, engulfing the entire central arena of the Dome. The show was the culmination of Le Maitre’s involvement with the Dome, which started with the high-profile opening ceremony in front of Her Majesty the Queen, and continued with three pyro shows per day throughout 2000.

Lanterns for The Orchard
Monday, 15 January 2001

Lighting Technology has won the contract for the supply of new stage lanterns to the Orchard Theatre in Dartford, Kent. Major elements of the order include 24 ETC Source Four 15/30s, 22 Robert Juliat 15/40 profiles and 36 Strand Cantata Fresnels. Ordered by the Orchard's business manager Bob Clutterham, all the units will be supplied with plugs, numbered and have a logoed safety bond as part of the full service provided by Lighting Technology. The equipment will be delivered in mid-February.

ESS’s Towering Reputation
Sunday, 14 January 2001

Edwin Shirley Staging’s Tower system, which allows for the rapid construction of large-scale, clear-span temporary venue structures, has been used in some very high profile places in recent years, and has given a real boost to the company’s profile.

The system has performed a large number of high-profile roles, including the home of the Midland 97 concerts in London, the Millennium Dome’s SkyScape, to the home of De La Guarda’s Villa Villa (30m x 20m x 18m high) at the Rio Hotel, Las Vegas, to the smaller-scale screen mounts for the 1999 Cricket World Cup venues.

But it’s not just their clients who have been impressed. Following their high-profile involvement with projects such as SkyScape , their working methods are attracting interest from the construction industry. ESS project engineer Liam Hogg explains: "Many construction projects run over time and over budget. But because we come from the culture of rock and roll, we get the work done on time. You won’t see Michael Jackson being asked to wait while the crew finish building the stage. We do whatever we have to do to get the job done." And ESS certainly have the resources and experience to do so: during the building of SkyScape, the personnel involved varied between six and 200 at any one time. The company’s logistical expertise, borne out of its 25-year touring experience, is extraordinary: leap-frogging two separate but interchangeable top-flight world tour stages around the globe is no mean feat.

The advantages of the Tower system demountable structures are se

Smoke Factory’s Expo-tise
Sunday, 14 January 2001

Further to our report on the 2000 Hanover Expo in the last issue, we return as promised to the Smoke Factory’s extensive role in the Planet of Visions . . .

The vast Planet of Visions exhibit - the largest at the Expo - suffered a setback shortly after the Expo opened, when the original smoke effects contractor was removed from the project. In a major dilemma, someone at this point remembered that Hanover was home to a smoke effects specialist - The Smoke Factory.

The Smoke Factory’s Florian von Hofen told us: "This was probably the most complex smoke effects project ever undertaken - not the biggest, but the most complex. It is a vast exhibit, visited by 30,000 people each day. The budgets would not allow for permanent technical personnel, so everything had to be automated."

By the time The Smoke Factory was called in, the set had been built, and there was no opportunity to pre-plan for anything. "We had to live with every limitation that had already been built in to the exhibit," says von Hofen. What he and his team came up with was certainly complex: the system required 42 smoke machines covering the 16 separate scenes of the display, all of which are controlled via an Avenger Show Controller. The entire exhibit runs through a day/night loop lasting five minutes, at which point the loop returned to point zero - meaning all smoke had to have gone. In addition to this, Hall 9’s highly sophisticated ‘sniffing’ smoke alarm system had to be taken ito consideration. This analyses regular samples of the air in the hall, lo

RSC Brings Garden Makeover to London
Saturday, 13 January 2001

The RSC’s acclaimed musical production of The Secret Garden opens shortly in London - after a hugely successful season at Stratford-upon-Avon. Lighting designer Chris Parry (better known for his work on Broadway) and sound designers Andrew Bruce and Terry Jardine have helped to bring the timeless tale to life for a 21st century audience.

Parry says: "The design of the show is much more monochromatic, dark and dramatic, and much less colourful and decorative than the original Broadway version, which I think is great for the piece. Despite this, it has a huge range of lighting quality, from a soft, dim candle-lit bedroom scene through to a big, bright and energetic dance number with gardeners and house-maids!"

Parry’s design, furnished partly from the RSC’s stock of conventional luminaires, but with a large hire inventory supplied by White Light, included eight Strand PAL Pirouettes and 14 MAC 500 moving lights. Parry says the Strand units are very bright and flexible - although his favourite tool for this production was the DHA Digital Light Curtain, eight of which feature in the design. Colour scrollers were also much in evidence, with 94 spread between the Source Fours, Pars, fresnels and Pirouettes. Control came from a pair of Strand 520 desks, and Parry was assisted by the RSC’s Paul van der Hayden and ably supported by chief electrician Vince Herbert.

For Andrew Bruce, the burden was eased by splitting the workload between himself and Autograph co-director Terry Jardine. Bruce handled the sound effects, handing over the band and v


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