General News

New Face at PLASA
Sunday, 10 December 2000

PLASA Publishing has welcomed a new production manager to the team. Sonja Walker, who joined the company in November following the departure of Nikki Evenden, will be involved with all PLASA Publications.

Conference on UK Theatre
Monday, 4 December 2000

The first ever cross-industry conference for British theatre to address the challenges and opportunities for its future will take place in London between February 28 and March 3, 2001. Organised by the Society of London Theatre, the Theatrical Management Association and the Independent Theatre Council, key topics of Theatre 2001 will include new ways of working, developing new leadership, new audiences and ways of financing theatre. Speakers include Melvyn Bragg who will open the conference and Richard Eyre whose BBC2 series Changing Stages is currently being shown. There will also be a speech from culture secretary Chris Smith and David Puttnam is scheduled to debate the contrast between the popularity of cinema and the challenges that face theatre. The conference which includes a range of talks, surgery sessions and social events takes place at 1 Great George Street, off Parliament Square.

 
 
Standards Must be a Priority
Friday, 1 December 2000

The recent news of a third accident involving a rigger at Earls Court & Olympia has provided yet another reminder of the need for the industry to demonstrate that it is not complacent, and establish a set of standards by which it can be judged.

This latest accident happened in late September at Olympia, when David Upton of Unusual Rigging caught his foot whilst fitting a banner to the entrance of the Grand Hall and fell 18ft. Fortunately, it didn’t cost him his life, but it has left him paralysed, and an investigation is now underway by Hammersmith and Fulham Council.

This latest incident has refocused attention on the two earlier fatalies at Earls Court - the death of Kevin O’Brien, a freelance lighting designer working for the SpotCo, in December 1999 and the subsequent death of David Mott, a contractor working for Unusual Rigging, in June this year. L&SI has contacted both the Environmental Services Department of The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the authority responsible for investigating the December fatality, and the Health and Safety Executive, the enforcing authority for the June fatality.

The investigation concerning O’Brien is now complete and the results are currently in the hands of Kensington and Chelsea Borough’s legal department who will decide what action to take next. What that conclusion will be is anybody’s guess, but the inquest on O’Brien, who wasn’t actually an experienced rigger, found that not only was he not on the approved list and somehow gained unauthorised access to the roof of the venu

 
SigNET Honoured
Friday, 1 December 2000

The Right Honourable Stephen Byers, Minister of the Department of Trade and Industry, recently visited SigNET AC in recognition of the company’s record of achievement for innovation.

In 1992 the company’s VA system received two industry awards for design and concept. In 1998, the digital distributed system (installed in the largest VAPA site in the world - CLK airport Hong Kong) was granted Millennium Product status by the UK government and in May 2000 the company won SMART Award funding for the development of a new compact networked model.

Stephen Byers represents a constituency in the North East of England and is familiar with the Sunderland Stadium of Light - one of the prime locations in the region to have a SigNET VAPA system. The sound system at the football club has received praise from fans, visiting teams and MPs. However, less well recognised, is the SigNET system of life safety features, control and amplification, which means that in the event of an emergency it is possible to quickly alert and evacuate the spectators from the football ground.

 
 
Legacy of the Dome
Monday, 27 November 2000

The Legacy consortium (which includes British Telecom, Imperial College, the Open University and Sun Microsystems) has emerged as the preferred bidder for the Millennium Dome. The consortium plans to retain the controversial tent as a place for IT and science-related businesses as part of a £125m business park called Knowledge City. Talks on the deal are still ongoing, but should Legacy's bid for the Dome collapse, there will be no shortage of others to take its place. The owners of Canary Wharf are eyeing the Dome site as a potential aid to its programme of expansion in the area, whilst a consortium of businessmen, including Michael Jackson’s manager, will stump up £135m to transform the Dome into a rock venue.

 
Rain Doesn’t Stop Play for TPC
Tuesday, 21 November 2000

Despite considerable amounts of unseasonable rain this summer, work has continued on the construction of a new concert hall for the Philadelphia Orchestra, designed by Theatre Projects Consultants.

The project is managed by David Taylor (pictured) from the Connecticut office of TPC, but George Ellerington of the London wing of Theatre Projects provided the unique theatre equipment package with an array of stage lifts, acoustics banners, hundreds of reverb chamber doors and a 40-ton three-piece canopy, all controlled from a custom PC-based memory system.

The concrete is complete to auditorium level in the concert hall and, to stabilise the building, the attic floor overhead is being poured at present. Despite the difficulties in construction over the summer, the site is being considered for an OSHA safety award. The second performance space, a 550-seat recital theatre is also underway. In this space, the entire auditorium floor can drop on a lift to give a flat floor. A 75ft diameter revolving stage allows for quick change around between a recital hall with a solid end wall and a full-flown dance and drama proscenium theatre. The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts completes in December of 2001.

 
 
New Contract for New Company
Friday, 17 November 2000

Circle 8 - the new company set up by former PLASA Show Manager Nicky Rowland - has confirmed its first industry contract in its first week of business. Circle 8 will be managing Theme Magazine’s Bar & Restaurant Awards - a series of regional awards dinners, culminating in a spectacular final dinner in London in June 2001. The North West’s awards ceremony has already taken place and the next event will be taking place on Monday 20 November at Brighton’s famous Grand Hotel to celebrate the best in the South East and Home Counties. Circle 8 offers a unique blend of event management, sales and marketing skills that can be applied to the entertainment industry and beyond.

 
Do It In The Desert With Gearhouse
Friday, 17 November 2000

There are many places in the world where climate, lack of infrastructure or the absence of a suitable venue have made large-scale events impossible - and there are many such places in Africa. But now Gearhouse South Africa has announced that the Tensile 1 system has arrived on the continent.

Listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest movable venue in the world, the system travels in 10 40ft containers and will be stored in Gearhouse South Africa’s warehouse in Johannesburg. Tensile 1 is a modular system that can be configured in eight basic formats, varying in size to suit requirements: 75m wide and up to 150m long in its largest configuration, the structure can accommodate 8,769 people in theatre layout, seat 12,600 people for a concert or banquet, or provide a dance area big enough for 22,500 people.

"We believe that Tensile 1 will provide exciting opportunities to South Africa’s event makers," says Russell Stephens, national manager with Gearhouse South Africa. "The African continent offers some spectacular venues for functions which have previously been inaccessible." Since landing in South Africa in September, the Tensile 1 has already been used for a product launch by Daimler Chrysler, a dance party in Johannesburg and a luncheon function for government departments.

 
 
The Big Mission
Thursday, 16 November 2000

Game shows just aren’t what they used to be and Denmark’s ‘Den Store Mission’ (The Big Mission) just may take the prize for, well . . . best prize.

The Big Mission is already generating a lot of interest in Scandinavia with the winner of the competition earning a trip into space aboard the first commercial spacecraft. The Big Mission went on air in October, billed as a competition whose lucky winner will be crowned "First Dane in Space".

The show consists of several ‘levels,’ each presenting a unique challenge in skills relevant to astronaut training - knowledge, physical skills, teamwork and mental strength. Contestants are eliminated over the course of several half-hour shows until The Finals in which 10 contestants remain. Much in the same style as the popular Survivor show, contestants will be eliminated one by one until a final winner remains. The elimination process will include a trip to Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center in the USA, as well as authentic tests previously used to train astronauts.

Martin’s local distributor, Martin Danmark, supplied MAC moving heads including MiniMACs, MX and PAL scanners and a TrackPod followspot system to TV2 studios in Copenhagen. The luminaires were spread across a host of stages and incorporated into the lighting scheme at all levels of the show. Par cans were also used in the lighting scheme. Lighting designer for The Big Mission is Torben Lendorph, with lighting programming completed by Thomas Brockmann.

 
2000 EDDY Awards Announced
Thursday, 16 November 2000

The annual Entertainment Design magazine awards (EDDYs) will be awarded in a ceremony in New York on 8 December. The Awards are given for outstanding contributions in the field of entertainment design and technology, and will this year be awarded to: the design team for Blue Man Group Live at Luxor (Las Vegas); costume designer Ann Roth, whose credits include films such as The Talented Mr Ripley and The English Patient; the design team for Anne Bogart’s SITI company, including lighting designer Mimi Jordan Sherin and sound designer Darron L West; and Tait Towers, builders of sets for concert tours, whose clients include The Rolling Stones, Tina Turner and U2.In the product categories, Sound Products of the Year are the Digidesign ProTools 5.1 software; JBL’s EVO loudspeaker system; Level Control Systems’ CueConsole; Metric Halo Labs Mobile I/O Firewire; the Neutrik MiniLyzer ML1; and the Soundfield Mark 5 microphone system.The EDDY Awards’ Lighting Products of the Year are the Common Sense interface from Artistic Licence; the Hot Shot Distro Panel from George & Goldberg; the Figment DMX from Interactive Technologies; the IPS Capio dimmer series from Rosco/ET; the Strand SLD dimmer series; and the Vari*Lite VL2402 wash luminaire.

 
 
Stolen Truss Update
Monday, 13 November 2000

Just a quick update to our news item last week (Weds Nov 8) concerning a large quantity of truss stolen from Essex-based lighting and production company Knight International. The 7.5 tonne Iveco Truck, which contained an entire ground support system and two covered PA wings, has now been found, minus all the truss! Phil Knight believes that the truss may have been stolen to order or may be sold back into the industry.Anybody with any information should contact Knight International on +44 1245 362133.

 
Gatecrasher NYE
Monday, 13 November 2000

Thousands of clubbers are preparing for the New Year’s Eve party of a life-time at Gatecrasher NYE in Ireland’s new £93 million, state-of the art millennium arena The Odyssey in Belfast. The NYE event, which will be broadcast live on Radio 1, is the first in a series of Gatecrasher events planned for Northern and Southern Ireland in 2001. As with all Gatecrasher events, clubbers attending can expect light and laser shows, video imagery and state of the art sound. Kicking off proceedings is Radio 1's Judge Jules who will be joined by Kiss FM's Tall Paul.

 
 
Multiform Stays Afloat
Sunday, 12 November 2000

No sooner had Sussex-based Multiform Technology Group announced success at the PLASA Show and set out the showroom to include the newest lighting effects from Meteor and Sagitter, than it began to rain!

Multiform’s factory, in close proximity to the swollen River Uck - one of the worst flooded in the South East - was also built two feet below the eventual high water mark of Uckfield town, and therefore suffered a great deal of water damage on and after October 12th 2000.

Help came from all quarters. Once the water had receded enough for the factory doors to be opened, the Multiform team with the help of visitor John Lethbridge, rolled up their sleeves and took up hose pipes, brooms and buckets to clear the invading mud and water. Managing director, Iain Price-Smith told us: "Multiform would like to assure customers that business will return to normal as soon as possible. A large amount of stock has been destroyed, and production will be disrupted for several weeks, but thanks to the dedication of the staff, our office is now fully operational again and open to business."

 
Industry Research
Saturday, 11 November 2000

Business Diagnostics, the market research company, had now completed its initial fact-finding first stage of PLASA’s industry research programme. As a result, research questionnaires are being mailed out to all PLASA’s full, corporate and international members in mid November. The intention is to have some baseline results by the end of the year.

 
 
PLASA Announces SESA Trade Support Programme for 2001/02
Saturday, 11 November 2000

PLASA has announced its programme of supported trade show missions for the 2001/02 financial year, under the SESA (Support for Seminars and Exhibitions Abroad) funding programme.

PLASA is able to sponsor four events in 2001. These will be PLASA Presents Light & Sound Shanghai, 4-6 April 2001 (support available for both exhibition and seminars); Showtech Berlin, 10-13 May 2001; AES 111th New York, 12-15 September and SIB International, Rimini, March 2002. In addition to these, PALA Singapore (July 2001) Expomusic Brazil (August 2001) and LDI Orlando (November 2001) are on the reserve list, pending funding reappraisals by British Trade International (BTI).

This programme breaks new ground for PLASA, as it marks the first ever SESA sponsorship of Showtech, as well as PLASA’s first direct sponsorship of an AES exhibition (AES 110th in Amsterdam, 2001, will be sponsored via APRS). In addition, 2001 marks the transition of PLASA Shanghai from its three-years under the Sector Challenge programme to fully-fledged SESA funding, underlining the maturity of the event.

SESA is the British Government’s system for assisting UK exporters to participate in overseas trade events. It is a Trade Partners UK service run by the British Trade International team of the DTI. BTI brings together into one unit the import/export teams from UK Business Links, the Foreign and Commonwealth offices in British Embassies, Consulates and High Commissions throughout the world, and the country information desks based at the DTI in London.

The SESA funding programme provides a grant of 60%

 
Another Order for Artistic
Friday, 10 November 2000

At LDI in Las Vegas last month, for the second year running, Artistic Licence received a Cease and Desist order from Color Kinetics Inc (CKI), relating to Artistic’s LED lighting systems.

CKI holds a patent in the USA for the control of colour-changing LED lighting systems, and claims that Artistic’s LED-based Digital Lighting Product range infringes their intellectual property rights. CKI’s Kathy Pattison told L&SI: "We very much respect what Artistic has done in the DMX community, but where LED systems are concerned, we will defend our intellectual property rights."

Artistic’s Wayne Howell told L&SI: "They turned up with their solicitor at the busiest time of the show, when the booth was full of customers. It really amounts to little more than a childish attempt at harassment." Howell continued: "We have made a number of approaches to this company to try to find out what it is they are upset about. To date we have not received any coherent repsonse. With regard to their claims, there is simply no substance . . . I find it rather insulting to be accused of copying another company’s design. We’re proud of our reputation for innovation."

Pattison, however, told us that CKI has held "multiple discussions, both internally and through counsel" with Artistic Licence.

 
 
Illuminating Video
Wednesday, 8 November 2000

Visitors from the lighting and creative media worlds were given a unique preview of the kinetic future when Screenco fronted a two-day Illuminated Video Workshop at Three Mills Island Studios recently.

In association with a prime team of concert service providers, including Vari-Lite Production Services, Avolites, Stage One Creative Services, Creative Technology, Aerial Camera Systems, SSE Hire, ShowSec and Vertigo Rigging, the experimental two-day interactive workshop graphically highlighted how the boundaries between the rapidly-converging disciplines of automated lighting and video displays are being pushed back. The workshop was the brainchild of Screenco’s Mike Walker, whose vision for the event was born out of a desire to bring the creative skills of video and lighting together. Production manager for the event was Adam Wildi at Hothouse, assisted by Mary Jefferson from Tiger Productions.

Two leading show lighting designers - Vince Foster and Nick Jevons - were asked by Screenco to blend their visual techniques, with each pursuing a completely different path in two large studios, back to back. For Foster, and VL Virtuoso board operator Theo Cox, it was a conventional live concert stage with a widescreen video display, and for Jevons it was a fast-changing club/dance environment, working in conjunction with DJ Callum Wordsworth to deliver spectacular colour-changing set elements, interacting with live video graphics.

In Studio 8 Vince Foster had produced the 3D visualisation for the band show and presented Theo Cox with the CAD drawings to carry out his o

 
Turbosound United Play at Chelsea FC
Monday, 6 November 2000

As a prelude to the recent PLASA 2000 show, Turbosound held its annual convention at Chelsea Village - home of Chelsea FC.

The day-long event was attended by a number of Turbosound’s international and UK distributors, as well as main installers. Following initial addresses by chairman Mike O’Flynn and managing director Alan Wick, sales appraisal and strategy reports were given by Gary Smith and Bill Woods respectively.

Distributors were honoured with awards for outstanding sales activity within given categories, and the day’s formal activities concluded with a briefing about new Turbosound products in the marketplace.

(Reports that Chelsea only allowed in one UK distributor are untrue.)

 
 
Correction: Stageline
Sunday, 5 November 2000

In May 2000, we reported that Stageline had launched legal proceedings aginst Five Corners seeking a number of injunctions to prevent Five Corners from trading.

We also reported that as a result of Stageline’s claim being rejected by the Quebec courts, Stageline was ordered to pay $22,500 to Five Corners.

However our further investigation into these matters has demonstrated that legal action was not taken against Five Corners but against its owner Carl Richard, who counter-claimed in the same proceedings. We apologise to Stageline for any innaccuracies in our news item. As we now understand it, relief was granted to each party in relation to their claims and counter-claims.

 
All Aboard
Saturday, 4 November 2000

PLASA Members Baldwin Boxall took advantage of the one storm-free day in October to invite a host of clients, colleagues and friends to join them on Sussex’s equivalent to the Orient Express.

The Bluebell Line was the UK’s first preserved standard gauge passenger railway, re-opening part of the Lewes to East Grinstead line of the old London Brighton & South Coast Railway in 1960. Since then it has developed into one of the largest tourist attractions in Sussex, yet it still remains true to its objectives of the preservation of a country branch line and its steam locomotives.

Over 50 people joined Baldwin Boxall on the day thanks in no small part to its growing reputation as a generous host. Terry Baldwin and David Boxall welcomed guests to the picturesque Sheffield Park station before inviting them to take lunch on board one of the Railway’s steam locomotives as it journeyed part-way up the beautiful Bluebell Line. Lobster Bisque, Roasted Quail, Beef Wellington and Chocolate and Almond Torte were washed down with some particularly fine wines - with stops en route to try out the special beers at Horsted Keynes station and allow some members of the party to ride on the footplate of the train before reboarding for yet further refreshments (was it our imagination or did the countryside become more blurred the longer we stayed on the train?).

Those in attendance came from across the industry and included guests from ADT, Next Two, BBC Fire, DNH Loudspeakers, Romers Electronics (from Blackburn), Sound Productions, Dublin (in fact, Gerry McGlinn flew in fr

 
 
Is Time Running out for 28% of the Sound Systems Industry?
Friday, 3 November 2000

Over a quarter of all UK sound systems companies will not see out 2001 in their present shape, according to Plimsoll Publishing. Identified in their new First Edition 2001, Plimsoll Portfolio Analysis they are predicting in 2001 these companies will disappear, be taken over or be forced to change to stay in the market.

The analysis, which included 1019 companies in total, predicts that the Winners and the Chancers, who are capturing market and profits with a combined sales growth average of over 15.2% are pushing the Losers out of the market. As they try to maintain sales and profit targets, acquisition activity could intensify in 2001.

The First Edition 2001 describes four types of company strategy. The Winners have low borrowings (debt) as a % of sales and have high sales growth. The Chancers have high borrowings and high sales growth. The Sleepers have low borrowings and low sales growth, whilst The Losers have high borrowings and are growing below average.

For these 131 Losers, time is running out. Their level of debt is high at 38% of sales on average. These companies have lost market share and sales growth average for the latest period is showing an average decline of 11.5%. Their margins are showing a loss of 2.0% on average and almost 60% of them are loss-making. They have borrowed to stay in the market, but how long can this strategy be maintained?

The publication contains an up-to-date analysis of 1019 UK sound systems companies covering their last four years of trading. To order a copy call Jennifer Ovington on +44 1642 257800, or for a full version of th

 
A Century of Theatre
Friday, 3 November 2000

Richard Eyre is to present a six-part weekly television series looking at the history of 20th century theatre. The programme Changing Stages: 100 Years Of Theatre will explore the influences and creative people that have shaped the course of the theatre throughout the last century. The programme will show archive footage of some of the key productions from the last century and talk with the writers, directors and actors which made them possible. The first programme runs on BBC 2 at 7.30pm, Sunday 5 November 2000.

 
 
PCM’s Donation to PSA Welfare Fund Tops £10,000
Wednesday, 1 November 2000

The latest cheque from PCM, European importers and distributors of the CM Lodestar hoist, to the PSA (Production Services Association) for their Welfare and Benevolent Fund, puts PCM’s contribution to this excellent cause to over £10,000. The fourth cheque, for £3,700, was presented by PCM’s John Jones to Simon Whittaker, Chair of the PSA, at PLASA 2000. The next PCM cheque will be presented during The Live Show 2001 in February.

 
Dry Ice Not to Blame
Wednesday, 1 November 2000

An inquest into the circumstances surrounding the death of student Joanna Smith, 19, who died following an asthma attack, thought to have been triggered by a dry ice machine at a nightclub, has concluded that there was no link between the two. The incident happened at First Leisure’s Volts (now renamed The Works) nightclub in Kingston Upon Thames on September 7 last year. Christopher Russell, the barrister representing club owners First Leisure, told the inquest: "This type of machine has never been associated with harmful effects." Coroner Alison Thompson concluded that Joanna had died from natural causes.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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