PLASA Publishing has learnt that VLPS (Europe) is to be sold to a European-based consortium. Although the move has not been officially confirmed by parent company Vari-Lite International Inc, VLPS Europe is understood to have all but completed the paperwork for a management buy-out backed by a venture capital company based in Sweden. A letter of intent is in place and confirmation of the deal is expected in the next few weeks. Vari-Lite Europe, together with Theatre Projects/Concert Productions and Brilliant Stages, became part of the Vari-Lite Inc Group in 1994 when the Samuelson Group sold off the companies. It later merged with Theatre Projects to form VLPS London.
Dolby Laboratories has announced that MARS (Multimedia Archive & Retrieval Systems) On-line has begun using Dolby Digital for the delivery of audio to professional broadcasters and the production community via the Internet. MARS On-line provides an Internet library music archive via a comprehensive on-line database search engine. The audio is stored, encoded and distributed using Liquid Audio technology, which employs Dolby Digital audio encoding.
The recently-opened Royal Opera House isn't experiencing much luck since its £214 million redevelopment. Following technical problems and cancellations on a run of recent productions, the Opera House was beset by further problems during a recent performance of Sir Harrison Birtwistle's Gawain. The production was brought to a halt part-way through a performance when one of the lift mechanisms intended to transport a performer into position failed to operate effectively. The production was temporarily halted and later resumed - by the time the curtain came down it had fallen 40 minutes behind schedule.
ESTA has announced that the draft American National Standard BSR E1.14, Entertainment Technology - Recommendations for Inclusions in Fog Machine Manuals, is available for public review until March 14, 2000. The draft standard applies to the instruction manuals for fog machines manufactured for use in the entertainment industry, and describes what information should be included in fog machine manuals to help ensure that users operate these machines safely and effectively. A copy of the above standard may be obtained from the ESTA website at www.esta.org/tsp/ or by writing to: Technical Standards Manager, ESTA, 875 Sixth Avenue, Suite 2302, New York, NY 10001, USA.
PLASA EXCLUSIVE: PLASA Publishing has learnt that Technotronics, the West-Yorkshire-based manufacturing company who specialised in lighting effects and control equipment, were declared insolvent at the close of last year. Insolvency practitioners are now dealing with the company's affairs and a meeting of creditors is to be called shortly. Earlier in 1999, the directors of the company established a new company - TTL Distribution Ltd - to help promote and sell its lighting range, but also to distribute complementary products to the trade - principally those of Ultrak UK and Chauvet. TTL Distribution Ltd continues to trade from Technotronics' premises.
At last, Chris Mounsor has announced his future intentions in the business after his departure from Audio Visual hire company PSL. Mounsor is to head up a new video rental company, specialising in the field of Camera & Video design and support to the concert touring and music industries. Mounsor has teamed up with industry legend Pat Morrow of Nocturne Inc and Rene De Keyser of XL Video to create Nocturne (Europe) Ltd. The company is currently in negotiations to purchase a 6500sq.ft warehouse in St Albans, and hope to be ensconced by Feb 1st.
Lord Lloyd Webber is to take control of 10 of the West End's leading theatres in a deal said to be worth £85million. The purchase of the Stoll Moss group of theatres, which includes the Garrick, the London Palladium and the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, was carried out by Lloyd Webber and a City financiers NatWest Equity Partners, in order to prevent the venues from falling into the hands of 'money men'.
The opening of the recently-refurbished Royal Court Theatre on London's Sloane Square has been postponed because the building is not ready. The Theatre was scheduled to re-open on 7 January 2000, following its £25m lottery-funded refurb. This is by no means the first delay - work was originally scheduled to conclude in May of 1998: this was then put back one whole year to May 1999 and then a further six months, to November 1999. When it does eventually open, Lighting & Sound International magazine will bring its readers a full technical review.
In an attempt to cut down on drinkers causing noise as they make their way home from a bar in London, they are being encouraged to suck lollipops. A students' union bar in Bloomsbury has introduced the novel idea of giving lollipops to drinkers leaving the bar, after local residents complained about the noise at closing time. The scheme, which is based on the belief that the drinkers are less likely to be able to talk loudly, shout or cause a disturbance whilst they are sucking the sweets, seems to be working. Since the scheme started, complaints about noise have fallen sharply.
Netherlands-based companies Focus Showequipment BV and Jansen & Jansen have combined forces, and will now operate under the sole name of Focus Showequipment BV. The move has been made in order to combine the areas of expertise in lighting, sound and studio facilities developed by the two companies over the past 25 years. In addition, the company will alter the way it deals with projects to provide a segmented approach, fully utilising its various fields of expertise.
Neutrik USA, Inc and parent company, Neutrik AG, have filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Switchcraft, Inc over the Neutrik Speakon product line. The federal suit, filed in the United States District Court, Southern District of New York, seeks a remedy for Switchcraft's infringement of Neutrik US Patent No. 5205749 directed specifically to an electric plug-in socket that covers the company's Speakon connector line. The litigation seeks to enjoin Switchcraft from selling its HPC (High Power Connector) line, leading to a permanent injunction and possible financial compensation. Neutrik also claims that Switchcraft has made trademark infringements on the promotion of its HPC line.
Following David Pacy's recent return to Clever Group, and the company's change of name back to Metro Group, further changes have been announced by the company. Pacy commented: "Metro Tyrell's business is extremely specialised. Therefore, I believe that Metro Tyrell will operate more successfully working alongside the Metro brands as a sister company and part of WPP Group plc, as opposed to being part of the Metro Group. All parties are in agreement and with the full support of WPP, we look forward to an extremely successful 2000." The company name will be changed by the end of January.
Manchester-based Power Gems has grown over the last eight years to become the world's largest independent designer and manufacturer of electronic power supplies for the motion picture lighting industry. PLASA Publishing has learnt that the company has entered into a strategic alliance with US-based Warner Power LLC, and as a result, is now expanding its technology into industrial and medical markets. Power Gems investment has secured a 49.9% shareholding in Warner Power, a management buy-out of WPI Electronics Inc and WPI Power Conversions Inc, with a combined $20million turnover.
The team of theatre consultants which has been operating as Techplan for the past 15 years has become incorporated and is undertaking new projects as Theatreplan. Charles Wass, Roger Fox, John Whittaker and Richard Brett have been joined by Neil Morton and are trading as Theatre Planning and Technology Ltd. They continue to be contactable through the Stagehouse in Kingston, but the centre of operations will be transferred to Doughty Street in London.
Two divisions within Philips Electronics UK Ltd will merge as from January 1st 2000. Philips Communication & Security Systems (CSS) and Philips Imaging and Connectivity (I&C) will form Philips Communication, Security & Imaging (CSI). The move is seen as "a logical step which will create new business opportunities and open additional sales channels." The newly formed company will cover the areas of PA, congress, private paging, healthcare, communication and intercom systems and CCTV.
Earls Court Olympia, the venue for the annual PLASA Show, is currently part-way through a £60 million six year improvement programme. Phase One sees several improvements come on line including the upgrade of the main escalators. Phase Two will address the general upgrade and refurbishment of facilities throughout the venue, including the refurbishment of several catering areas in Earls Court 1 and a new business centre. Part of this phase will also see the completion of the painting and 'column cladding' programme on the ground floor of Earls Court 1. The Warwick Road and West Brompton entrances to Earls Court 1 are on-line for upgrading during 2000. In addition to all the work going on within the Exhibition Centre, the West Brompton/Earls Court rail-link is now fully operational, enhancing the travel routes direct to this important central London venue.
With so much activity confirmed around the New Year period, it's not surprising to find the big production houses organising themselves ahead of time. As such Edwin Shirley Trucking (EST) is finding itself busier than usual during the dying days of '99. In preparation for the Brussels Motor Show in Jan 2000, EST has begun to transport 30 truckloads of equipment out to Belgium for Imagination, the producers of the Ford display. Also out in Belgium, Toyota is staging a pre-Motor Show bash for its main European dealers, which will require around five EST artics to outfit the show. In a similar vein, but over here in the UK, Ford is holding aChristmas dealer review at the ICC in Birmingham for which a further seven EST trucks will be required. As if that weren't enough, during the same period 14 45-footers will be ferrying equipment over to Seville in Spain for the launch of the all new Ford Transit 2000. All this motoring activity doesn't mean there are no concert tours going on. Barry Manilow is the first to kick off the new-year with a four truck production touring around the UK and Europe from the 6th Jan. Probably just the right artist to soothe those post Millennial hangovers.
A new initiative to improve the career prospects of those working within the events sector has also recognised the importance of the sector to UK tourism. The continuing growth of events in the UK is a primary reason for the creation of TTENTO, the new National Training Organisation for Travel, Tourism Services and Events. The Government-backed organisation has been set up to ensure industry employers undertake training and development and will provide the events sector with nationally recognised qualifications for its workforce and individual career paths. In particular, TTENTO is working on initiatives for small businesses which comprise some 85% of the travel, tourism services and events industries. The new body brings together all three sectors under one banner for the first time and follows the launch of the events industry NVQs/SVQs earlier this year.
A 25-year-old freelance lighting crewman was killed in the early hours of Thursday 16 December when he fell more than 80ft during the breakdown of the after-show party for the Spice Girls following their recent sell-out performances at Earl's Court. PLASA Publishing has learnt that the technician, one of the crew working for lighting supplier Spot Co, was not de-rigging the stage in the main arena, but working on the second level where the after-show party had been held. He was taken to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. A spokesman for Earls Court confirmed that the fatality had occurred at 3.50am Thursday morning. Earls Court management, in conjunction with the relevant authorities, is in the process of a thorough investigation of the incident. A further statement is expected shortly.
FX is marking the start of the New Year with a brand new image designed to identify and promote all areas of its business. The changes are highlighted by the company's logo that now features the FX brand name followed by the name of each of its separate divisions. These include FX Rentals, which handles all rental business; FX Copyroom, which handles transfers to and from any format - analogue and digital; FX Music Control, the company's sales arm; FX Spain, which represents its International dimension and the recently added FX Cimple Solutions, a servicing and repairs division.
The elections for places on PLASA's Executive Committee closed on Wednesday 1 December, with three existing members re-elected and two new members welcomed to the committee. Eight candidates had stood for the five places available and collectively attracted 104 ballot papers. Re-elected were Paul Adams of PA Installations, who has just completed his final year as Chairman of the Association, Nikki Scott of Stage Technologies and Sammy DeHavilland of Deco Leisure. New to the committee are Paul de Ville of Lighting Technology and Diane Grant of DHA Lighting. Matthew Griffiths, MD of PLASA, commented that the continuing high level of participation, in both numbers of candidates and voters, was indicative of the great interest shown in the association and its work on behalf of the industry. He added: "It's good to welcome two such well-known individuals who will undoubtedly provide fresh ideas and views to add to the skill and experience of the existing committee members."One of the vacant places on the committee arose due to the recent resignation of long-term committee member Matthew Tonks, following the demise of Glantre Engineering earlier in the year. Paul Adams commented: "I would like to thank all the members of the executive committee for their support during the four years I have spent as PLASA Chairman. I would especially like to mention Matthew Tonks, who has worked very hard for the Association during the five years that he has served on the committee. His input, particularly in the area of Technical Standards, has been invaluable."The new Chairm
PLASA Publishing has received news that a winding up order has been served on Metro Audio. The company, well known for its wired intercom and stage management systems, is now in the hands of the Official Receivers Office, which is currently working on establishing a full list of creditors. Although the company is trading as Metro Audio, the order, which went through the High Court on November 17th, relates to Speed 1436 Ltd - the company's official registered name.
Stage Electrics is relocating its Bristol branch and Head Office to new premises located in the same area at the Junction of Avonmouth Way and Third Way, close to Junction 18 of the M5.The sales and hire company is refurbishing the existing warehouse space of 43,000sq.ft, whilst a new 16,000sq.ft administrative building will be added onto the 3.7 acre site. This will bring under one roof the entire Stage Electrics workforce. Work on the site has started and the first phase, the transfer of the equipment, is expected to be completed by March 2000. The administrative building will be ready later on in the year.
The Entertainment Services and Technology Association (ESTA) is asking all interested parties to comment on the first draft of a revised and updated version of DMX512, which will be formally designated BSR E1.11, Entertainment Technology - USITT DMX512, Asynchronous Serial Digital Data Transmission Standard for Controlling Lighting Equipment and Accessories. Wide public input is being sought in order to finalise this draft and ensure that the needs of the industry are being met. The comment period is now open, and will end at 4.00 p.m. ET, January 12, 2000. The draft document may be requested in hard copy from ESTA's Technical Standards Manager at the address below. When commenting, please provide the following: clear identification of the relevant clause, page, and line numbers; the proposed change marked in legislative format, with strikethroughs to indicate deleted text and underlines to indicate new text; substantiation for the change; and a wordprocessing file of the proposed changes (Word Perfect, Word 97 or lower, or RTF), with each proposal on a separate page. A sample comment form is included at the end of the draft standard and is also available for comment. Please send electronic submissions to dmx-rfc@DesignRelief.com. Please mail paper submissions to Technical Standards Manager ESTA, 875 Sixth Avenue, Suite 2302, New York, NY 10001, USA