USA Minneapolis recently hosted the United States Institute of Theatre Technology's Annual Conference and Stage Expo over the 19-22nd March. The show was well attended, 15% up on last year with 3,300 people taking part. Whilst the actual stage expo is quite small from a visitor/exhibitors viewpoint, the conference programme more than makes up for it. Many American universities offer theatrical and drama courses giving rise to a large theatre oriented student population. The annual USITT show is heavily geared towards those students as well as those wishing to go to university, and accordingly manufacturing exhibitors are there not so much to sell their wares, but more to encourage an interest in their products, and also to give advice and training.
The conference programme is a busy affair, with no less than 125 talks, seminars and discussion groups over the four days. The subject matters varied widely, although all are theatre-based. The programme caters well for all disciplines, with topics as diverse as 'hands-on sound engineering courses', 'followspot operation', 'scenery painting', 'projected scenery' or the more obscure 'playback party' where delegates were invited to take along a favourite recording they have made to play back to the other delegates. There were a few more obscure subjects lurking in the programme too, including 'A brief history of the brief', exploring the sociological influence of underwear on civilisation!
The exhibition had some familiar faces, with the likes of ETC, City Theatrical, Clear Com, Meyer, Vari-Lite, GAM, Lee, High End Sy
Rohde & Schwarz's FS300 Spectrum Analyzer brought the rarefied technology of measurement instruments into a price bracket that reflects the growing spread of wireless communication technology. With a frequency range of 1kHz to 6GHz, it can be used to check RF emissions almost anywhere and is just a half-rack width, while 3U high. As wireless connection takes root in entertainment installations of every kind, this type of product will become more and more useful to contractors as well as broadcasters.
Alcons Audio was another AES debutant following the sweeping changes at Stage Accompany, adding to the good local support for the exhibition. Having ported much of SA's ribbon transducer expertise into the new company, Alcons launched the RBN 601 6" model claiming peak power handling of 1,000W and patent-applied 90° horizontal coverage.
With line array to the fore at most other exhibitions, this was a technological statement of intent from the new stable, emphasizing the wide dispersion, the natural cylindrical wave pattern and 103dB efficiency.
As you'll also see from the news pages in this issue, Alcons has founded Alcons Audio Deutschland GmbH. Carsten Albrecht will act as sales and technical support manager of the new operation.
Italian cable and connector manufacturer Link was making its AES debut, sharing stand space with others from Dutch dealer Audio Pro's leading lines.
Established in 1987, Audio Pro's market-stall approach to exhibiting laid out Yamaha's PM1D, Audient's Aztec, Optocore, d&b audiotechnik's E-Series and TC Electronic's EQ Station - a good haul of sound reinforcement gear by any standards. Founder Rolf Dijkstra explained that the company specialized in theatre installation. "We've been working with d&b since '93 and that has enabled us to attract the attention of touring and corporate-event production companies too. We've broadened our horizons.
"But you have to bear in mind that Holland is a very small market, so you have to take on specific things to do specific jobs. We've added each line as required, and each addition has attracted others." Dijkstra added that over the last few AES shows, people have been actively seeking out certain sound reinforcement brands, and that studio and live applications were merging within single products.
"The quality of sound systems nowadays is so good that you can use things like TC effects processors in both situations," an echo of thoughts elsewhere in the show. "But I'm expecting particularly big things from the EQ Station. Companies like BSS and Klark Teknik used to have remote-controlled graphic EQ systems, but have somehow got away from them. For engineers, it's a really handy instrument - especially for the monitor guys, who stand next to the artist listening to the foldback and adjusting the sound
UK - It's been billed as an opera which has to be seen to be believed, and when you become aware of the plot, you'll understand why. Based on America's most lurid talk show, which brought worldwide television audiences programmes entitled 'Pregnant by a Transexual', 'Here Come the Hookers' and 'I Refuse to Wear Clothes', it is packed with swear words, tap-dancing Ku-Klux Klan members, a gay black Jesus and a God who resembles Elvis - the critics are having a field-day.
Also noteworthy, though attracting less press attention, is the fact that this is the first new opera for both creator/composer Richard Thomas and the National Theatre, chosen by incoming National Theatre director, Nicholas Hytner, to premiere as his first production in the Lyttelton Theatre.
Lighting designer Rick Fisher was first involved with the show when it premiered at Edinburgh last year. The production has expanded following its transfer and Fisher, together with programmer Vic Smerdon, are using the house Strand 500 desk to control the rig of High End Studio Spots, Martin MAC 600s and Vari-Lite VL5Bs.
Blitz Sound has supplied the sound equipment for the show. The company's links with the production also stretch back to the Edinburgh Festival last August, where they originally supplied a partial system consisting of a Cadac R-type mixer and 24 Sennheiser radio microphones.
For the show's run at the National, sound designer Mike Walker has selected a range of equipment including 37 Sennheiser radio microphones, a 64 input Cadac J-type mixer, processing from BSS, XTA and Lexicon and 30 Ya
USA - Pixeon Inc, the Austin-based LED effects company, was the recipient of two major awards at this year's Lightfair show in New York. At the New Product Showcase and Awards Presentation, Color Stream was presented with the distinguished Roeder Award. This special award is made at the judges' discretion for products that "truly meet and exceed the current challenges of the twenty-first century." Pixeon accepted the award beneath a specially designed Color Stream sculpture, by lighting designer Marsha Stern. Last September Color Stream - an innovation from WWG, the British-based lighting design partnership - also received an award for product innovation at the PLASA show in London. Later, Pixeon was given an award by the judges for best booth design.
Dutch company Xilver saw its Droplet LED fixture awarded best new theatrical and entertainment lighting product. The jury felt that the product was particularly innovative in the way it combined colours and the movement it offered for a small design fixture.
UK - With the significant changes taking place at this year’s PLASA Show - from the new floorplan layout to new features at the show and some creative new marketing initiatives - the show organizers are hosting and Exhibitor Open Day on Thursday 22 May to keep exhibitors up-to-date with developments and provide every opportunity to maximise their participation at the show.
The day is designed to highlight the marketing and PR for the PLASA Show and advise exhibitors on how they can dovetail their own promotional activity with the Show’s - including advertising placement and keeping the show’s PR company and trade press appraised of new product information. With this in mind, the format of the Open Day will be more marketing-focused than in previous years.
PLASA Show director Nicola Rowland comments: "This will be an opportunity for us to expand on our plans for the key feature areas of the show - The New Technology Gallery, the Central Meeting Area, the Press, Exhibitor and Presentation area and the Association and Industry Trade Bodies area and, of course, this year’s extended educational programme."
There will also be an opportunity for exhibitors to walk round the hall and see the location of their stand space. This will be particularly useful this year because of the changes in stand location for the majority of exhibitors. The timings of the Open Day will also differ from previous years, starting at 3pm at Earls Court. This will be followed by an opportunity to meet the PLASA team and fellow exhibitors in a more informal e
UK - When a seriously professional company like Edwin Shirley Staging needs to get advice on heavy duty label and identification, they called in Le Mark. An interesting meeting between Kevin Wollage of ESS and Linda Gibbons of Le Mark earlier this year led to the request: "Not only do we need labels for road cases - we need labels for our trailers!"
As it had to be visible and remain usable in all conditions, this product needed to be something special, so Le Mark produced a re-designed and uprated version of their renowned PAL Label product - this time with a double-layed background that allowed the PAL Plate to be riveted directly to the ESS trailer units!
Linda Gibbons - Le Mark sales director said: "It was an exceptionally unusual application that showed ESS had total commitment to their clients. The new marking system allows the driver to be 100% certain of load and destination during the loading and trailer connection operation."
Linda concluded: "For 20 years, our Printing Division has been working hard to handle the heavy duty labelling needs of the global entertainment Industry. We like to think that we will always rise to the challenge - on this occasion we had to really pull out all the stops, but we achieved it! It was also a great opportunity to work with Kevin and to get behind the wheel of some serious metal!"
UK / Russia - As members of the Professional Lighting and Sound Association (PLASA) will be aware, PLASA has been approached by IIR Exhibitions to work on a project that will see the launch of a trade show in Moscow, Russia in April 2004. In order to assess interest in the project, PLASA and IIR Exhibitions are staging an Open Day on Wednesday 21 May at One Whitehall Place, London SW1.
The Open Day will include presentations from a number of key speakers including representatives from PLASA, the DTI and IIR Exhibitions. The presentations will focus specifically on doing business in Russia, emphasizing changes in the business culture, the types of assistance that can be accessed, the pitfalls to avoid and the opportunities available. The event will be a half-day session starting at 11.00am and concluding at 1.15pm with a buffet lunch to follow.
All interested parties are invited to attend the Open Day - should you wish to do so please confirm your attendance by contacting Helen Willis at the PLASA office (details below).
UK - Robert Juliat's new Manon followspot will make its first UK appearance at the White Light Group Open Day, being held on Thursday 15 May at White Light's headquarters in Wimbledon, south-west London.
Manon is a 13-24 degrees zoom followspot using a 1200W MSR or MSD lamp. It has a built-in mechanical douser, an iris that can spot down to fully closed which is mounted in a removable cassette, a six-way colour boomerang and, in common with many of the Juliat followspots, the unit can also accept a gobo. To allow Manon to suit a range of venues and operators, the unit is also fitted with a heavy-duty adjustable yoke.
Manon adds to the already comprehensive Robert Juliat range, joining products such as the Aramis, Cyrano, Ivanhoe, Heloise, Foxie, Pixie and Marius - which have already proved popular with a wide range of venues and companies across the UK. These include the BBC, the Royal Opera House, the Royal National Theatre, the Barbican Concert Hall, Guildhall, the Yvonne Arnaud in Guildford and the Theatre Royal in Stratford East, as well as numerous hire projects, including the smash-hit musical Chicago.
"We are delighted to be able to show Manon at our Open Day," comments White Light's Bryan Raven. "We had thought that by gathering many of the leading manufacturers, and the latest moving lights and lighting consoles together under one roof - and adding food, drink, a hot-air balloon and a jazz band - that we'd already provided something for everyone. But this new followspot, which should appeal to a wide range of venues, will add even
Germany - Following the huge success of Showlight 2001 in Edinburgh, plans are already underway to ensure the 2005 event, which will be held in Munich on 21-24 May, will be better than ever.
Occurring just once every four years, Showlight is a three-day event organized by lighting professionals for lighting professionals. The colloquium, unlike other trade shows, places emphasis on debate stimulated by papers from respected industry experts and provides a gathering ground for like-minded people. 2001 proved to be the most successful show yet, with 42 sponsors and more than 300 delegates from the world of entertainment lighting passing through its doors.
John Watt, Chairman of the event’s organizing committee explains: "Showlight 2005 is being held at the magnificent Prinzregententheater. Their patronage and that of the associated Bayerische Theaterakademie, plus the enthusiasm of the students there, make this the venue of choice for us. Students who attended the Edinburgh event explained to us how invaluable the three days had been for them, both in terms of what they had learned, and the opportunity given to network with professionals in the industry. It’s always great to receive such positive feedback, but to be offered the chance to host the next show at such a great venue is fantastic. Munich is also home to a number of lighting companies including ARRI and transtechnik, part of ETC, which has generously provided the ‘seed’ money to ensure the continuation of Showlight."
Martemaria Scheunemann, who runs the theatre lightin
China - Over 230 exhibitors from 16 countries are so far confirmed to exhibit at the second Music China, due to take place from 15-18 October in Shanghai. National pavilions from China, Germany, Italy, Taiwan, the UK and the USA are all confirmed to participate in the show, with further groups from France and Spain expected.
Market-leaders already signed up for the show include newcomers Yamaha of Japan, and Young Chang of Korea - one of the oldest and most prestigious piano manufacturers in Asia. Exhibitors coming back for a second time will include Steinway & Sons and Warwick of Germany, AXL and Electro-Harmonix of the USA, Pearl River Piano of China, Tom Lee of Hong Kong and Fazioli of Italy. A supporting programme of special events is being arranged to flesh out the show. The programme is likely to include competitions, live performances and educational visits.
Music China will be joined in 2003 by a new international exhibition in China for the professional audio and entertainment lighting industry, ProLight+Sound Shanghai. This will cover sound production, broadcasting and recording equipment, lighting, laser technology and special effects for the entertainment industry, stage, studio and event technology, and pro-audio and lighting-related computer hardware and software.
UK - To coincide with the imminent summer festival season, the Technical Focus section of the May issue of Lighting&Sound International magazine will be looking at the technology related to the development and use of mains distribution systems. An often overlooked area of entertainment technology, safe and efficient distribution systems are a fundamental part of any show. We will also assess some of the current standards and safety issues in this area, including work done by British Standards and the ABTT. This will be followed by a brief profile of the main manufacturers and coverage of a selection of their leading products in the marketplace.
If you would like your product to be featured in this report, please e-mail L&SI’s technical editor James Eade at the e-mail address below before Thursday 1 May, 2003.
UK - The Production Show has announced that over 100 free workshops will run throughout the three day show from 20th - 22nd May 2003, at the National Hall, Olympia. After the success of last year's workshops, attended by a record number of 2997 people, the show has introduced two new elements to its workshop offering.
This year will see the launch of the Video Editing workshops and Animation & VFX workshops - all free of charge. Over three days a series of professional training workshops will be run in partnership with Soho Editors. Manufacturers such as Apple, Media 100, Discreet, Softimage and Quantel will focus on how individuals can enhance both basic and advanced editing skills with specific sessions focused on producers and directors.
The Learning Zone and Work Zone is being run by Skillset working in partnership with BECTU, offering careers advice and information to those wanting to get in or get on in the industry. At the skillsformedia drop-in centre, visitors will be able find out about career progression, training opportunities, skills shortages and all the courses currently subsidized for freelancers. BECTU representatives will also be on hand to offer employment advice.
The Sony Workshops will provide an opportunity for industry professionals to learn about the latest production practices and technologies from the manufacturers' own experts who will be reviewing the latest Sony product releases from NAB. The Engineering Technology Centre (ETC), sponsored by Snell and Willcox, follows on from its successful launch last year and returns with more ex
China - IIR Exhibitions and its joint partners, China Theatrical Equipment Association (CTEA) and China Council for the Promotion of International Trade Beijing Sub-Council (CCPIT) have announced the postponement of CALM Expo 2003, which was due to take place in Beijing from 16-19 May 2003. The decision was made following requests from several exhibitors to postpone the exhibition to a later date in view of the SARS outbreak in China and in response to the new SARS statistics released from China over the weekend.
The organizers told us: "Our attendees’ health and safety is our utmost concern, therefore we have decided to postpone the event to a later date. We are currently looking at another suitable date as many exhibitors have indicated that . . . the exhibition is very important for their business." Details of the new dates will be confirmed in due course.
To date, more than 600 exhibitors have signed up for the show, occupying a total area of over 46,000sq.m. The joint organizers are grateful to all exhibitors for their support in CALM 2003 and look forward to their continuous support and understanding.
UK - The eighth annual CEDIA UK Expo will be held at the Brighton Centre between 24th and 26th June 2003. It will be the largest yet, hosting a wealth of new exhibitors from the security and lighting industries, as well as established leaders in the residential entertainment systems and home automation markets.
The seminar programme is expanding as well, and will see the introduction of CEDIA certification examinations for technicians and designers, developed by the UK Education Committee from a structure successfully employed in the US. The third element - manufacturer training - is integrated with the seminars to ensure that theory and practice are perfectly complemented. The largest CEDIA UK Expo to date will be improved by the introduction of extensive on-line registration in April 2003 and the services of an accommodation bureau (01273 292626).
Spearheading CEDIA's Professional Certification Programme is a series of examinations for technicians and designers, which will introduce a new level of recognition for CEDIA members. In order to accommodate the tests, and to provide a logical structure to the programme, this year's training has been arranged under tightly defined syllabus headings or ‘tracks’. Held over the three training days, the Track 1 programme, for technicians, comprises six courses covering the principles of installation, followed by two ‘grounder’ (overview) courses, and culminates in the certified technician exam. The Track 2 exam, for designers, is again prefaced by six courses and two ‘grounder’ courses
Australia - The Australian Entertainment Industry Association has announced the nominees for the 2003 Helpmann Awards. Named in honour of dancer and actor Sir Robert Helpmann and first presented in 2001, these annual awards honour productions new to Australia.
The 2003 nominations cover a wide range of productions, including those created in Australia and those previously seen elsewhere in the world but visiting Australia for the first time. The awards include categories for both productions and technical work on productions - and, unusually for theatrical awards, even feature a category for sound design.
This year’s technical nominees are: Best Costume Design: Dale Ferguson - Great Expectations; Kristian Fredrikson - Man of La Mancha; Julie Lynch - The Way of the World; Bob Crowley - The Witches of Eastwick.
Best Scenic Design: Stephen Curtis - The Blue Room; Kristian Fredrikson - Swan Lake; Dan Potra - Love in the Age of Therapy; Tony Tripp - A Doll’s House.
Best Lighting Design: David Hersey & Jenny Kagan - Oliver!; Nigel Levings - Copenhagen; Nick Schlieper - Great Expectations; Matt Scott - The Blue Room.
Best Sound Design: Paul Charlier - Buried Child; Peter Grubb & Shelly Lee - Oliver!; Peter Grubb - The Witches of Eastwick; John Scandrett & Julian Spink - Cabaret.
The ‘best production’ categories included nominations for Cabaret, Oliver! , Man of LaMancha and The Witches of Eastwick (in
UK - London-based Spirit Design & Production recently staged the Headmasters Awards 2003, for client Headmasters, the south London-based hairdressing group, in association with cosmetics giants L’Oreal, at Wimbledon Theatre.
The long-running annual awards event showcases the best work and latest styles from the past year and honours stylists and sales people alike. Spirit were awarded the contract to supply the full production service, including event design, in 2002 and were brought back to infuse the 2003 event with more fresh ideas and a new look. Spirit D&P, owned by Tor Cooper-Evans and Chris Biddulph, has years of collective experience in the events industry but adds a unique combination of cutting-edge ideas and stylistic presentation. "We simply do not believe in offering a client an off-the-shelf idea," comments Biddulph, "even though that might be simpler than creating a new concept and a new design from scratch. Originality is what drives us."
"In the set design," continues Cooper-Evans, "we have to allow for the fact that most of the models do not have much catwalk experience, but it still has to end up as a totally professional-looking show." To make the experience both enjoyable and straightforward for the models, Spirit designed a ‘one-way’ catwalk, incorporating an awards presentation area, creating an easy-to-follow route. The set itself reflected the urban feel of this year’s Headmasters collection by using brushed aluminium and denim finishes with a backdrop of flat panels, incorpo
UK - The 2003 Showman’s Show North attracted a wide range of events industry professionals to The Great Yorkshire Showground this March. The second Showman’s Show North offered the 630 visiting event organizers, everything from falconry displays and helicopters for hire, through to security, generators and laser shows.
Unlike the larger Newbury-based Showman’s Show, the majority of the exhibitors were based inside the exhibition hall on the showground. Organizer Jeremy Lance told us: "We were delighted with the look of the show this year and all the exhibitors presented themselves really well. Visitor numbers were on par with the previous year, so we feel we need to address attracting a wider section of the northern events industry when we next return."
The main event, The Showman’s Show, will take place at Newbury Showground on 22-23 October 2003.
UK - Power Gems is currently previewing the latest product in its Xenon Ballast range, the XE200/2, suitable for leading brands of Xenon 2kW followspots. Electronic ballasts offer extended lamp life over magnetic ballasts and they are much, much lighter.
The CE-approved ballast is 35cm x 17cm wide x 24cm high and weighs 8kgs. Its supply Voltage range is 185– 265V a.c and its supply frequency is 47-63Hz. It has a power factor of 0.65 and lamp current up to 85A, with a lamp voltage range of 19.2-28.8Vdc.
UK - Power Gems, best known for its design and manufacture of electronic HMI ballasts, has released the first in a series of high frequency ballasts for the remote control of fluorescent fixtures used in the motion picture and TV lighting businesses. This four-tube model, FB4/2P, automatically drives both 4ft and 2ft tubes without the need for manual selection. Additionally, a local dimmer and a DMX512 input, provides continuous dimming from full light output at 75W down to 1% light output. Individual tube cut switches are provided for greater flexibility and save the need to disconnect tubes at the fixture. True tube running indicator LEDs are provided for each tube.
The design team’s brief was to come up with a ‘rugged ballast’ with a reduced parts count. The result is a unique four-tube power circuit which employs just three FETs, including a ‘unity’ power factor corrected (alf) input, thus permitting its use worldwide on voltages from 90V -260V.
Power Gems’ tube ignition circuit has been demonstrated to strike tubes that other ballasts cannot, which may save the user money. The ballast is electronically protected against failure from live connection-disconnection of the fixture and reduces the risk of electric shock when re-connecting live end caps.
UK - This week has seen the launch of The Marketing Business, a company which offers SMEs in the entertainment technology industry, the full range of marketing expertise, from business development and export advice to corporate identity and public relations.
The Marketing Business is an informal association of three companies which together have over 60 years experience in the entertainment technology business and which individually are recognized as experts in their field: PE Consulting, Harmer PR and The Wells Partnership. PE Consulting was formed in 2002 by Peter Ed, previously marketing director for ETC Europe and business development manager for Strand Lighting. Peter’s experience will be of great benefit to companies wishing to expand their business by moving into exporting or into new market segments by combining tried and tested marketing techniques with in-depth knowledge of the entertainment technology industry. Harmer Public Relations, which provides the public relations and copy writing side of the operation, has enjoyed continuous links with the entertainment technology business ever since its formation by Lesley Harmer in 1980. Current agency clients include AVW Controls, ETC and Theatre Projects Consultants. The last of the trio is The Wells Partnership, whose graphic design skills have been used by many companies in the business, including Rosco, Wybron and MAVCO.
Marketing is all about communication but, as Peter Ed points out, what and how you communicate isn’t simply a case of the sales director working a few additional hours each w
UK - Star Hire (Event Services) Ltd is launching Star Ice - a new outdoor temporary ice rink solution for the UK which comes with a guarantee that the rinks will freeze and stay frozen. Numerous event managers and councils who have encountered problems with other rinks have turned to Star Hire for assistance to counter the problems experienced with other rinks such as melting ice (which leads to rink closure and thereby loss of revenue), and suspect substructures.
Star Ice has been formed in partnership with European-based I.M.R. - a company with wide experience in the installation of ice rinks in Europe. I.M.R.'s cooling technology is highly efficient and has been proven to work consistently, even in the extreme temperatures of Dubai. The third partner in the consortium is power and temperature rental leader Aggreko, who will supply the chiller units, generators and boilers (for melting the ice).
Technical director Roger Barrett told us: "The new technology guarantees that the ice will stay frozen and therefore that the rinks will stay open. In addition to the technical and operational experience within the consortium, all of the logistical and health and safety issues connected to the installation of a Star Ice rink will be covered for clients." Star Ice is running a 24 hour helpline for clients.
UK - Saturday 8 March saw Manchester’s production community uniting to show their support for peace, on the occasion of the ‘Don’t Attack Iraq’ event organized by Manchester Coalition Against the War. Consisting of separate marches from the North and South of the city, together with one from Salford, the event culminated with some 12,000 people converging on a rain-soaked Albert Square to hear a packed programme of speakers, plus acoustic performances from Elbow and Josephine Oniyama.
The event was managed by Jon Drape Event & Production Management, with production management and trucking provided by Andy Stratford at Walk the Plank. With a budget of just £50 to cover fuel, Jon and Andy appealed to Manchester’s production supply companies to come up with the goods, a call that was met with overwhelming support.
So it was that Manchester Light & Stage supplied the stage and roof, while Fox Staging handled the disabled viewing and delay platforms and 8 by 4 dealt with the front of stage barrier. Generators were supplied by Grange Power, with mains distribution and lighting from DBN Lighting.
PA was a combined effort, with Audile supplying control and monitors, STS supplying the main Turbosound Floodlight system, Rocky’s supplying the HK Audio delay system, and Audio Alliance and Tube contributing ancillary items. In addition, Noisebox supplied an EV Deltamax system for the overspill venue at Great Northern Square.
Crew and site management were provided by Alex Knight at Handball, while Sarah Rowland from Nine Lives Productio