James Thomas Engineering has supplied its Spanish distributors, Madrid-based Bofil & Asociados, with a unique stage set/tower system for production company Snake.
The system was custom-designed and built by James Thomas in the UK for an extensive domestic tour by top Spanish music artists Miguel Bose and Ana Torroja. This is the first time the two have performed on a twin-headlining bill, and the tour completely sold out within hours of being announced.
The incredible aesthetics of this set were created by James Thomas’ project manager Paul Young, collaborating with stage designer Ignace D’Haese and JTE’s structural engineers The Broadhurst Partnership. It’s based on three 14m high stand-alone towers, complete with self-climbing cross beams - connected via custom sleeve blocks that interface with 20cm trussing to make up a T-shape. The cross beams contain lights and glide up and down throughout the performance. The towers themselves are constructed from 52cm SuperTower - a product specially conceived by JTE for this project.
Another key feature of the towers is that they have no guy wires. They utilise 4m outriggers and ballast weights - four points of 1250kg, and are built to withstand high winds at outdoor shows. The biggest challenge was making the towers free standing, whilst ensuring their bases were unobtrusive. It was possible to dispense with the guy wires because of a combination of the strength of the SuperTrussing itself, and the carefully calculated ballasting. The footprints of the towers are concealed below the stage, the radius
Harry Donovan and Jay Glerum are presenting a series of seminars on principles and practices of arena and stage rigging. A four-day class will run in Las Vegas from March 12-15, covering the principles and practices of arena and stage rigging. This will also feature a day's session with Rocky Paulson covering personal safety and fall arrest. Further courses will run in Orlando from May 6-9 and in Chicago from June 25-28. Donovan and Glerum are nationally recognised in the entertainment industry for their knowledge of stage and arena rigging, and this is the ninth year they have conducted these rigging seminars.
A couple of new developments on the performing arts front. Ballast Construction has won a £14m contract to build the Laban Centre in Deptford, including 13 dance studios and a 300-seat theatre, whilst Newcastle City Council is currently reviewing plans with Newcastle University to develop a £60m arts and heritage complex at the Playhouse theatre site at Barras Bridge. Leisure development continues apace: Government approval has been given for a £30m leisure development at Gloucester Docks which will include a multiplex cinema, restaurants and retail units. Associated British Ports, meanwhile, has submitted plans for a new leisure and retail development at Alexandra Dock in Grimsby, including shops, a restaurant, pub and possibly a hotel. Isle of Wight Council is considering plans from Godshill Park Developments for the creation of a 60-bedroom hotel and conference centre in Wootton and finally Leicester City has won approval to build a £35m 32,000-seat football stadium at Freeman's Wharf.
Edwin Shirley Staging is helping AC/DC to rock in Australia as part of its massive world tour. The company has won the A$250,000 contract to provide all the structures and staging for the Australian stretch of the tour that has so far seen concerts in Perth, Hobart and Canberra. The AC/DC stage is a massive 45m wide by 21.6m deep. In total 29,620kg of equipment (the weight of over 300 people) is being hung from the steel work supporting the inflatable roof. The visual extravaganza features a 30ft moving statue, six cannons that fire during the show, as well as a giant bell that moves up and down the stage, carrying a member of the band at one point of the show.
On 1st February 2001, PLASA went online with its brand new website at www.plasa.org. The new site is the latest development in the six-year history of PLASA’s online presence, and continues the organisation’s aim to provide the premier online resource for the entertainment, presentation and event technology industry worldwide.
The new site further develops the extensive and freely-available information resources offered to the industry by PLASA. Now available are fully-searchable databases allowing fast, easy and flexible access to the full listing of 450+ PLASA members; 1,500 industry news items in the online news archive; a comprehensive calendar of industry events, and over 100 titles in PLASA’s Technical Book Service.
PLASA’s Managing Director Matthew Griffiths comments: "Aside from the great new look of the site, I’m especially pleased with the new keyword-search facilities. We provide the opportunity - for free, and within a matter of seconds - to find every news item that a particular company has appeared in on the PLASA News website over the past 18 months. The same applies for searching the membership database for companies, products and services, or for finding details of worldwide industry events. This is what the industry has been demanding from a website like ours, and we’re pleased to be offering such a truly beneficial service."
In addition to providing a valuable resource to the global industry, the new site has been designed to represent all the diverse aspects of PLASA as an organisation - including the A
Ronan Keating’s solo material was showcased at the end of last year - and an arena tour has already been announced for this Spring. Mike Mann reports.
Though LD Paul Normandale’s design (based around a couple of 40ft trusses and a 33ft diameter semi-circular Tomcat MD stacking truss) was essentially traditional, the eagle-eyed lamp-spotter would have picked out a quartet of new luminaires in the rig - Normandale was putting the MAC 2000s through their paces for the first time. "This is really an early trial for me," he explained, "and Martin have been very supportive. I never go to tradeshows, and I don’t like trying anything out in the warehouse." Though the 1200W HMI unit is, says Normandale, better suited to arena shows, the more intimate environment of the Keating tour gave him a chance to see more clearly what the MAC 2000 is capable of. "So far, I’m happy - it seems to do everything that other powerful moving heads can do - plus zoom."
The remainder of Normandale’s kit list (sourced from Lite Alternative) included 18 Vari*Lite VL5s, 10 Starlite Mk5s, a dozen or so Par 64s and eight ChromaQ scrollers. A pair of Strong II FOH followspots were augmented by a single rear truss spot. Control (under the direction of Fraser Elisha) was via an Avolites Sapphire 2000 console, with a second unit "to give me something to do during the show," according to Normandale. The set, from Alan Chesters at Hangman and Lite Structures, was largely drape-based, though the addition of plush red velvet riser facings, r
The planned auction of the Dome’s contents may possibly die before it even gets going if Legacy plc’s bid for the site is not concluded on 14 February as intended. It appears that the Government and Legacy cannot agree terms, and, as a result, the New Millennium Experience Company has reviewed plans to postpone indefinitely the £10m auction, which is scheduled to start at the end of February. We understand that they may, however, proceed with the sale of some of the site’s assets. If the Legacy bid does fall through, it will mean that other potential bidders, including the Dome's chief executive, Pierre-Yves Gerbeau, who has struck an alliance with James Palumbo, property firm Pilton Group and the pop impresario Harvey Goldsmith, may have their wish to keep the venue entertainment-based rather than the business park proposal that was at the heart of the Legacy plan.
For the third consecutive year ESS Australia was chosen by Accolade Events to provide structures for the Australian Day Celebrations on 26th January. The 30-minute performance was watched by an estimated audience of 240,000 people. This continues to build on ESS' success. Last year ESS Australia was appointed to provide staging for the opening and closing ceremonies at the Sydney Olympics and Paralympics. This year's Australia Day concept involved four 12m x 8m screens positioned on a barge in the centre of Darling Harbour. In addition, Accolade Events asked ESS to come up with a solution that enabled them to place the PA system on the outside of the structure, rather than hanging it from a central position. The versatility of the ESS Lite truss meant that ESS were able to provide a solution. After running an engineering check, the ESS team was able to bolt on some more LT tower truss so that the PA system could be attached to the outside.
PCM has added a new webbing ladder to its inventory of professional rigging accessories. The new product replaces conventional, bulky ring and tube-style ladders with streamlined rods of carbon or glass fibre. The rods are inserted into tubular braid sleeves made from synthetic fibre which are sewn into side members of the same material for maximum strength. The product is ideal for all entertainment industry applications - theatrical, performance, industrial, live event, touring, television and film. The ladder is available in standard lengths of 10, 15 and 20 metres, and custom lengths can be produced as required.
Westsun International Inc. has announced the creation of Westsun’s first regional ‘super hub’ in Las Vegas, Nevada. When making the announcement on behalf of the company’s executive Board, Rob Davidson, CFO and acting CEO of Westsun, stated: "This is a natural step in our development strategy, one that will allow us to provide our customers with even greater access to our comprehensive equipment pool. It will also shorten lead times, thereby further improving our market-leading service to all of our clients." This new facility will operate under the Westsun Las Vegas banner. Dick Wright, vice-president of West Coast operations, will lead the operation. Anticipated to house in excess of $15 million worth of stock, the new expansion will be complete by May 1, 2001. During the transition, Dick Wright will work closely with Scott Jevons of Westsun Los Angeles. Scott Jevons will lead the Westsun Los Angeles sales team as sales manager, and ensure that it remains a key component of Westsun International’s sales and marketing efforts. Westsun remains committed to providing a high level of personalized service to its existing and new clients.
PLASA (the Professional Lighting and Sound Association) has recently introduced its latest addition to the range of benefits which it offers to members. PLASA’s new Human Resources service, set up in conjunction with CP Associates HR Consultancy, provides PLASA members with access to professional help and advice with personnel issues. The service is designed to offer practical, independent advice, based on the latest factual information available, and covers areas including contracts & terms of employment; disciplinary and grievance procedures; employee benefits; employment legislation; pay reviews; recruitment and selection; risk assessment; redundancy and absence control.
To use the service, members simply call the PLASA office, and are then given the telephone, fax or e-mail address of CP Associates. They are then entitled to 15 minutes of free advice on any one subject. Where a more detailed or specific consultation is required, PLASA has negotiated highly preferential rates for its members. These might include personnel procedure audits, contracts of employment and staff handbooks, setting a human resource strategy, and new personnel policies or systems. To safeguard the viability of the service, it can only be used by a member company’s PLASA contact or managing director.
PLASA’s Membership Services Manager, Norah Phillips, comments: “We aim to offer our members real advantages in the areas of business and information, and this is the latest in a series of new services which we have introduced with this in mind. We believe that this new fac
Navigator Systems has announce the opening of their new website www.clubnavigator.co.uk designed specifically for registered users of HireTrack and HireTrack Eclipse. This new site will enable members of the Navigator community to instantly access the Navigator Systems library of technical support documents, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition, the company has developed a forum of issues, where all users can post suggestions, ideas, and comments. Customers will have the opportunity to share custom reports and/or utilities with other users. The company newsletter will also be maintained, keeping customers apprised of current projects, and new releases of the software.
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.
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.
Set designer John Napier, whose credits include Cats, Les Miserables, Starlight Express and Miss Saigon, has been named by Oxford University as the Cameron Mackintosh Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theatre for 2001. Napier, who has recently returned from Broadway, where his design for Jane Eyre has been acclaimed by audiences and critics alike, is the first set designer to hold the chair in its 12-year history. Previous incumbents include Stephen Sondheim, Alan Ayckbourn, Richard Eyre and Diana Rigg.Using examples from his own productions, which have included Peter Shaffer’s Equus for the Royal National Theatre, Jesus Christ Superstar at the Lyceum, Lohengrin for the Royal Opera House and Steven Spielberg’s film Hook, Napier will describe how a designer turns initial inspiration into theatrical reality.
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.
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:
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
Show Presentation Services (SPS), the audio-visual equipment rental and technical staging specialist, has announced the launch of its new e-commerce website, along with a brand new on-line ‘Budget Estimator’. Robin Coles, SPS managing director, says: "A UK event manager for a multi-national brand with a requirement to take a product road-show to six European cities, should provide the Budget Estimator with details such as audience size, type of event/presentation and location, and they will be provided with immediate on-line staging information specific to their requirements with accompanying pricing."
Christmas week was Cereco International’s busiest week since the launch in September of its web-based lighting and audio equipment auction. Cereco’s John Lethbridge reports that in the period between 27 December and New Year’s Eve, over £7,000 worth of product was snapped up by several individual first-time buyers. There was a last-minute battle between five bidders for 42 ETC Source 4 Pars that started at £50.00 each and closed at £65.00 each. John Lethbridge puts this success down to the fact that people had plenty of time to be on-line over the holiday period. Also, most of the bidders are now subscribing to Cereco's free weekly e-mail newsletter that keeps them informed of the latest deals and action on the website. The site specialises in new and ex-demo equipment supplied by leading manufacturers and distributors, rather than ex-rental equipment, although some of the equipment sold over the Christmas period had come out of Expo 2000 in Hannover. A new auction starts every Thursday evening and initially runs for 10 days, after which time, unsold items are re-submitted. Viewers can also make off-line offers where there are no bids in place.
Following two years of concentrated improvements to its company training programme and the development of individual employees, Star Hire (Event Services) Ltd has just received recognition as an Investor In People. The Investors In People award signifies that Star Hire know where they are going as a company, have imparted this focus to all their staff, and have trained them to move forward in line with that vision. Maddy Sheals, responsible for steering the company towards the standard said: "In the feedback session at the end of the two days, the assessor said how much he was impressed with the calibre of people he interviewed - their honesty, commitment, and individual skills, plus an awareness of what Star Hire is trying to do." Maddy hopes to build on this achievement through a programme of continuous innovation and improvement in the training and development of all Star Hire people.
It would appear that the world of opera is trying to take over the world of the musical: London in early autumn saw two directors best known for their operatic work in action in the West End. Robert Carsen created The Beautiful Game at the Cambridge Theatre, while up the road at the Shaftesbury multiple-Olivier award winning director Francesca Zambello was pulling together Napoleon, an epic new musical charting the love of Napoleon Boneparte for Josephine through troubled times in France.
To help her, Zambello turned to regular collaborators, notably set designer Michael Yeargan and lighting designer Rick Fisher, who won the 1998 lighting Olivier for his work on Zambello’s Lady in the Dark at the National Theatre.To stage the show, which covers a huge range of locations and times, Yeargan designed a spectacular floor capable of rising, falling, twisting and tilting to provide land, sea or mountains as required; this scenery proved to be something of a technical challenge, requiring international co-operation between scenery makers TMS, engineers Devineau, Jetter Automation, Vertigo Rigging and production managers Stewart Crosbie and Mark Whitemore - along with one programme credit you don’t see on many shows: automation interpreter, this the experienced figure of Miki Jablkowska. Yeargan also made the bold decision to extend the French flag painted on the show’s frontcloth out onto the proscenium itself, to dramatic effect.
Though the set was capable of many dynamic shape changes, much of the work of defining space and time actually fell to lighting an
Henry Butcher International has been appointed to dispose of the contents, owned by NMEC, that went into creating The Millennium Dome, following the planned closure of the Dome on December 31st. The Dome houses an enormous range of assets, including lighting, audio-visual, broadcast & sound equipment, restaurant and catering equipment, stage equipment, office furniture and equipment, golf buggies, battery-powered scooters and vehicles. Even the equipment from the world famous Millennium Show, which currently employs 350 people, will be for sale, including stage and acrobatic props, costumes and circus rigging. Henry Butcher will be disposing of all assets owned by NMEC over the next three months by Private Treaty and Public Auction. The Private Treaty sale process is already underway and includes many of the themed Zones, audio-visual and broadcast equipment from some of the most sophisticated systems installed in Europe and sound and lighting equipment from one of the largest and most complex installations in the world.
The public auction is open to everyone and will take place over four days - 27-28 February and 1-2 March 2001 - and any enquiries regarding the auction will be dealt with after the Dome closes at the end of December. Viewing of the assets will be a few days prior to the auction sale.
Star Rigging has installed a new fall arrest netting system into Wembley Arena to improve safety for people working at height during events at the London venue.
The new safety system has been installed into the Wembley grid, which is the largest moving grid in the UK. Pictured is the Fall Arrest Net after being raised at The Who load-in at Wembley Arena.
Both Mark Armstrong and Phil Broad at Star Rigging have been rigging major live events, including major tours for 15 years. The net is a new innovation, which has gained popularity in the construction industry, attracting the approval of H&S executives across the country. The system ensures that a worker who falls off the grid will be caught, and there are handrails to prevent people falling outside of the grid area. Star Rigging had to adapt the net to suit indoor music applications including making it fire retardant to BS EN 1263-2 standards. The company is currently talking to several other venues about the possibility of installing similar systems.